Working with clients on their critical communication needs means we get insight into how different types of companies transmit information and which methods prove most effective for them. Here are some general observations that apply to anyone trying to create a better customer experience.
- Pretend you’re the customer.
Obvious, right? But really consider it from their end. The thing about billing is that we all deal with it, so what are the ways to make the experience less annoying and more fluid? What are some offers or messaging that would have an impact and not just take up space?
A point that comes up again and again is the issue of clarity. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: poorly designed bills and invoices will help slow down your revenue stream. If they can’t understand the bill, they certainly won’t pay it on time. Once we achieve clarity, we can work on messaging that reinforces your brand and drives new business.
- Don’t be so quick to declare that paper is dead.
The funeral for paper has been scheduled and cancelled dozens of times. It’s true that as many companies have made the promise to be eco-friendlier and offer payment options more in line with the modern world, the need for electronic billing services has become more prominent. But that need isn’t universal. Many people still rely on paper when it comes to bills, whether for security reasons or plain ol’ habit (yes, even millennials). Listening to that need and being flexible is critical.
- Think about the industry.
One thing we pride ourselves on is not being a one-size-fits-all model when it comes to communication services, particularly since we work with clients across a broad spectrum of industries. Thinking about the needs of specific industries, and how their customers interact with them, is central to our work.
Here at OSG, we’ve just completed our annual customer survey. Though we love hearing the praise (shout out to Account Management for scoring more than nine out of 10), the constructive feedback is what keeps the trains moving. Maybe there’s a way to make a process run more smoothly. Maybe a client is interested in a new service of ours. Maybe there’s one simple change that would make the company’s overall experience with us that much better. Because that’s what we’re delivering—an experience, not a product.
Every single year, we read each comment, cull the best suggestions, and incorporate changes into our business where it makes sense. It’s crucial to live up to the kind of partnership we promise. The questions vary in scope and topic (customer service, products, management), but they boil down to this essential query: How are we doing?
We value this input so much, in fact, that we offer customer survey inserts as an option for our clients to send to their customers. It makes sense to use an invoice package as an opportunity to ask the questions that often go unasked amid the day-to-day tasks that keep us all bogged down.
Not everyone is going to speak up without prompting. Open a new line of communication. You might find insight that improves specific relationships and moves you closer to the bigger picture goals of your company.
This weekend is Selection Sunday. You know what that means! Tourney Time is upon us. What that also means is that employers can expect to see a slight dip in productivity this month. According to a study by employment consulting firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas, nearly 2.5 million people devote over an hour of each workday to following the NCAA Tournament. So that’s an hour you’re not actually spending on work. To help your productivity we’ve pulled together three easy ways for you to maximize the effectiveness of your invoice or statement package.
- Add an insert to your next invoice or statement package mailing. They fit easily into your mailing and provide cost-effective one-to-one marketing to your customer base. Don’t have one? Not to worry, the OSG Creative Studio can design one for you.
- Add a Full Color Dynamic Message to your invoice or statement. Your readers are already looking at your invoice statement. Why not add a message unique to them on the invoice as well? A recent Pitney Bowes study found that color increases reader’s attention by 82 percent.
- The invoice isn’t the only colorful part of your invoice or statement package. Are you taking advantage of Full Color Envelope Messaging? That same Pitney Bowes study found that 69 percent of the study participants were more likely to open an envelope with color or graphics on the front than those without. Take a look at your envelopes and see if they could use a splash of color.
By implementing some or all of these ideas you can end up being the winning team and enjoy a championship season.
Do you have a referral program in place for your current customers to refer friends and colleagues to your business? Studies have shown that referrals are extremely important to the success of a business. Take a look at these statistics and then see if maybe you want to set aside some time to create one or revitalize the one you have in place.
- According to The New York Times, 65% of new business comes from referrals.
- Nielsen reports that people are four times more likely to buy when referred by a friend and that 92 percent of people trust a referral from a friend.
- A customer who is referred by another customer has a 16% higher lifetime value, according to a study by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.
If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Satisfied customers make the best advocates for your company. And since they know both your company and their friends/colleagues, they can actually target the right people for the right product/service. So not only can they act as your brand ambassadors, they can do the initial audience segmenting for you too. They’ve had a good experience with your company and products. Now encourage them to tell their friends, family and colleagues about your company and the great service you provide. Not only will they bring in new customers, increasing your revenue stream, you will also make your current customers happy when you reward them for their efforts. That’s important too. They’re helping you out so you should do something for them. It doesn’t have to be cash back but consider a discount or credit to an invoice or statement.
Think you’re too small a company to be able to implement such a plan? The OSG Creative Studio is available to help you every step of the way. Contact them directly or talk to your Account Manager.
Think about implementing a Referral Program. You and your customers will be glad you did.
This past Sunday we watched two fierce teams compete for the most important game of the year. Weeks and months of planning and preparing led up to the big game and yet who could possibly have predicted that it would all come down to the last minutes of the game and then lead into overtime?
We’ve discussed it before but it’s always good to have a backup plan. Expect the unexpected. Both in competitive sports and in business. If you don’t have one that’s ok. This is the perfect time to put one together. Before you need it.
The first step is to think about what types of contingencies you are going to prepare for. To come up with some worst-case scenarios that could affect your business, gather some staff members together and start brainstorming. Begin each statement with “What would we do if?” and then start throwing out possible situations. The problems you discuss don’t have to be massive like a transit strike or a crippling blizzard to be disruptive. Mindtools.com offers up scenarios such as: “What if your main supplier suddenly goes bankrupt? Or, your entire sales force gets food poisoning at the annual sales conference? Or, your payroll clerk calls in sick on payroll day?
“These things can all cause confusion and disorder if you haven’t prepared for them properly. Contingency planning is a key part of this preparation. As you can see, contingency planning is not just about major disasters. On a smaller scale, it’s about preparing for events such as the loss of data, people, customers, and suppliers, and other disruptive unknowns. That’s why it’s important to make contingency planning a normal part of the way your business works.”
To quote Lady Gaga, this year’s memorable Halftime performer, “You tell me hold your head up, Hold your head up and be strong, ‘Cause when you fall, you gotta get up, You gotta get up and move on.”
While the sun is shining and everyone is calm, go ahead and think the worst. You’ll be glad you did.
It’s Super Bowl Week and the big game is just a few days away. Regardless of whether your team is playing in Houston or not this weekend, we can all learn some important business lessons from how the teams prepare for the big day.
First of all, it’s all about preparation. The players won’t walk on to the field without extensive and thorough planning and preparation. Learn from them. If you’ve got a big presentation coming up, you too need to plan and prepare. Know what you’re going to say and do but also be prepared for the unexpected.
Which brings us to lesson number two. Always have a contingency plan in place. The Falcons don’t know what tricks the Patriots may have up their sleeves, but you’d better believe they’ve run through scenario after scenario and have prepared different game plans depending on what comes at them. So too, you should not just have your prepared answers in place. From your slide presentation not being loaded onto the laptop to the exhibit not making it to the tradeshow hall, have a backup plan in place.
Finally, to quote Ron Jaworski, NFL analyst and former American football quarterback, “Positive thinking is the key to success in business, education, pro football, anything that you can mention. I go out there thinking that I’m going to complete every pass.” Believe in yourself, your teammates and your abilities and you’ll succeed.
As hard as it may be to believe, New Year’s is but a memory and holiday-laden February is just ahead. Are you using the calendar to inspire your Lifecycle Marketing Campaign? In February alone we will celebrate Groundhog Day, Lincoln’s Birthday, Washington’s Birthday, Presidents’ Day, Valentine’s Day, Black History Month and American Heart Month. Each of these holidays and observances lends itself to some type of communication from you and even if you don’t have anything specific to share, each is a great excuse to be in touch with your customers.
Here are three reasons it’s important to maintain a Lifecycle Marketing Campaign (or launch one if you don’t already have one in place).
- Every time you send an invoice or bill to your customer, you’ve opened the door to a one-on-one conversation. Take advantage of it. Transactional documents are open and read 97% of the time according to InfoTrends. That makes your monthly invoice or statement the perfect place to include a targeted message because it’s almost guaranteed to be read.
- It’s easy. Simply put it’s delivering the right message, at the right time, through the right channel, to the right customer. But you think you’re too small a company to implement or maintain a Lifecycle Marketing Campaign? No you’re not. All it takes is some time and effort and you’ll be amazed at what you’ll get in return.
- You already have these customers on board. You want to keep them, right? Use the calendar as a way to stay in touch with them throughout the year. Pick any of the upcoming holidays and give your customers a reason to celebrate. Don’t feel like using the calendar. How about sending out a survey to get customer input? Since part of the reason you’re staying in touch is to keep them, it’s good to know how they feel about your company and if you’re meeting their expectations.
From welcome postcards to calendar inserts to win-back programs, lifecycle marketing can help you grow and nurture long-term relationships with your customers.