Why Do We Love Consumer Reports?

Do you ever read Consumer Reports?  I know that when I plan to make a large purchase, I’ll research before heading to the store (or car lot) by looking for a recent issue of Consumer Reports for the scoop.  But they don’t just research the large ticket items.

I was doing a little work at the library yesterday (enjoying a wonderful holiday flute/guitar concert) and noticed the December issue of the Consumer Reports.  The magazine includes the latest research on large ticket items you might be purchasing for the holiday like electronics and appliances but also smaller priced gifts like coffee makers and music players. 

They are IN THE HEAD OF THE CONSUMER.  They get what is important to the customer.  They did an in-depth study on PAPER TOWELS.  And just in time for New Years Eve; a comparison of condoms! (BTW – the one to avoid?  Night Lights – it may glow in the dark, but won’t necessary provide the best protection.)

Each comparison provides the reader with information on:

  • Pricing
  • Quality
  • Warranty
  • Customer Service
  • Shipping
  • Availability
  • Easy of doing business
  • and an explanation of the fine print

The table of contents even includes a financial statement:  here’s how much money you’ll save if you take our advice on which oven range to purchase!

Consumer Reports understands what is important to the customer and then they provide it in an easy to understand, reliable and consistent manner.

Their website continues the same theme of information access in a customer-friendly manner. 

So how can we copy the example Consumer Reports provides? 

  • They understand their customer
  • They have a clear understand what information will be important
  • They provide details in an easy-to-understand manner
  • Their information is consistent
  • They are readily available
  • They offer information for free – online
  • They provide background information that allows you to see how they test and what their methods of gathering information include

Great stuff.  It isn’t a magazine I curl up with on a Saturday night – pour a glass of wine and loose myself in their data – but it is a place I know will provide great value and that I TRUST before I invest my money; whether it is for a $2,000 computer purchase or a $1.69 roll of paper towels.

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Making it Easy for Customers to Find You

Have you heard of the new pop band opening for the Jonas Bros?  Honor Society.

While in Phoenix I heard them interviewed on the wildly popular morning talk show John Jay and Rich and they were fun, quick and talented.  But the thing I took away the most from their interview was that they “got” the importance of being easy to find and being EVERYWHERE on the Internet. 

They have a consistent brand.  Their name:  Honor Society. 

When asked where fans could find them to purchase their records they said:

We are on Twitter @honor society, on MySpace/honorsociety, on Facebook/honorsociety, on YouTube/honorsociety.  Then one of the band members said, “yeah we are pretty much everywhere – just type in Honor Society.”

I thought – man, these little 20something (if that) have nailed a critical branding fact that I’m still struggling with.  Pick a brand – stick to it – use it everywhere.  I’m on all of the social media sites but some times I use my name, other times, my tag line and still others, my company name.  How can anyone find me?  How can I be known one for thing?

How about you?  Are you easy to find?  Are you visible on the web with just one brand name?

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Real Customer Connections using Social Media

internet“I just have a local business.  How can social media help me?  It looks like a big, confusing waste of time to me!”

Have you heard this?  Do you say this?  As a speaker of such topics as customer service and marketing for entrepreneurs, I often talk of the value of making the most of your online presence.  I’m surprised by how many business owners still resist the Internet for their business.  Some even lack a basic website. 

Ramon DeLeon owns several Domino Pizza locations in Chicagoland and has effectively used social media to reach out to his customers and the community at large.  I learned about Ramon thanks to Ben at Church of the Customer.  Ben shares how the Lincoln Park Dominos used a video apology to connect with a specific customer, and in the process also sends a message to the blogosphere that shows how connected and commited they are to their customer’s satisfaction.

Beth Harte shares even more details into Ramon (owner of multiple Dominos in Chicago) and his use of social media.

You may not see the need to be connected to the social network, but I guarantee you; your customer is!

You’ve heard it said that a dissastified customer tells seven or ten or fifteen people.  Those were the old days.  Thanks to social media a dissatisfied customer can spread the word to the WORLD that you missed the boat.  If you are actively involved on the web you can quickly respond to your customer and fix the situation. 

How do you get started?  The first place to start is monitoring the web for your company name.  Sign up for Google Alerts to see when you or your company is mentioned.  On Twitter, you can sign up for Monitter which will monitor Tweets to see when you or your company are mentioned.  Jump into the conversation with both hands and connect with your customers. 

How do you use social media to connect with your customers?

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Make or Break Moments Online

Early Bloomer, a fellow twitterer, asked the question “What is a make or break moment for an online store.”

That’s a great question.  We may think of customer connections as only happening in person or over the phone but it today’s technology age, the Internet is a key way that our customers find us/do business with us.

So how do we ensure our customers have a make or break moment on our website?

Yesterday I talked about the fact that customers come to us with historical moments they draw on for comparison and so we need to take that into consideration when viewing our website from the customer’s perspective:

  1. What experiences do they have at our competitor’s site?
  2. What is the customer looking for?
  3. Is it easy to find on our site?
  4. is our homepage inviting with content that addresses their needs?
  5. Do the links work?
  6. Is it easy to find our contact information on every page?
  7. Do we offer a variety a contact vehicles?
  8. Do we provide something unexpected: information, free white papers, additional resources, coupons, humor?
  9. Do we make it easy to do business?

View your site from the CUSTOMER’S PERCEPTIVE and ask the question “is this a site that appeals to me and makes it easy to do business?”

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