Like most marketers, we’re always trying to learn and build upon our training and experience to guide our clients. To give them the best advice, content and strategic knowledge so they can give their customers the very best customer experience. And sometimes, that experience we use happens outside of work hours—like my recent experience in a hardware store on a Saturday afternoon.
Why should you care about my experience? Not because I was shopping for the most fascinating product. I was shopping for a door—a regular, plain entry door. And my experience isn’t going to set off a viral backlash against the company, because it wasn’t negative. In fact, my in-person buying experience was perfect—so perfect that it reminded me of what we’re all striving to give our customers, what we’re all striving for when we talk about customer experience.
That’s why you should care. Because my experience is what you need to give your customers. Not want to give, but need to give. Studies have repeatedly shown that customers are willing to spend more for a product from a company that provides great customer experience—and they are likely to come back to you again in the future.
That’s what I received. I had an errand to run in a nearby town. As long as I was there, I decided to drop in a local hardware store because I needed a door. My door had been damaged a few weeks ago but was still functional, so I had been doing research online about kinds of door materials, what I needed to purchase a door (measuring, knowing which way it swung, etc.), and general pricing.
I went into the store and found the door display. I started wandering around, browsing through the options and happy to be doing some pressure-free research (remember I wasn’t there to buy, just to look). Eventually, a salesman—we’ll call him “Bob”—came over and asked if I needed any help. He was friendly, and he answered all my questions with knowledgeable answers. I knew from my previous research that he knew his stuff. While I was there, I noticed that many of the doors were on sale, and he told me everything about the sale—including that that day was the last day of the sale. When we were done, I thanked him for his help and let him know that I was just looking and would be back with my husband the next day. Honestly, I did not intend to come back. I just wanted to call my husband and give him the information I had learned.
Fast forward 30 minutes later, and I was back in the store. I had talked to my husband, and he gave me the green light to buy. I came armed with more questions about storm doors because we wanted to replace both doors at once. The same salesman, “Bob” saw me looking at storm doors. He nicely answered all my questions, made several suggestions, and was incredibly patient as I made my decision. Incredibly patient. When the transaction was done, he wrote up the sale for me.
So what should you take away and apply to your content marketing (and digital marketing efforts) from my perfectly normal buying experience?
Your customers will come to you before they buy—several times, in fact. Treat every contact like they are a potential customer. It’s your job, via content marketing and social media, to be “Bob.” Be relevant and be there (“there” is the social media platform where your customers are), so you are available when it comes time for the customer to buy your product. Answer their questions with your content and your customer service replies on social media. Be prompt, especially when replying on social media, where studies have repeatedly shown that customers expect a response within a few hours. Be human and very patient. Make each customer feel like they are your number one concern, especially when you can’t face-to-face interact.
Create the right opportunity for a customer conversion. The store had a sale and a knowledgeable salesman: the perfect ingredients for a customer conversion. “Bob” answered my questions and didn’t pressure me to buy (to be honest I think he was shocked when I came back). You need to do the same thing online; create a blog with the information they need, and the opportunities to convert to a sale. This can be done through convenient links, great call-to-actions, visuals and lots of good, diverse content. You want to make your customer comfortable and build their trust so they buy from you once—and are willing to come back.
You don’t have to sell products online to create this same pleasant buying experience for your customers, but you need to strive for perfect. We pointed out how to use digital marketing even if you don’t (or can’t) offer e-commerce in a recent blog post, and this experience exemplifies why. If you “wow” a potential customer online, if you make them comfortable with your knowledge and interactions, if you speak to their pain points, they will reach out to you. We’ve seen it happen for our clients. If you use your digital marketing tools to create a great user experience online, they’ll send you a message on social media requesting an appointment. They’ll walk into your business ready to buy. So the next time you don’t feel like you have the energy to write another blog post or another minute for social media, know it’s important for your customers and potential customers. And if you don’t have the time or knowledge to devote to creating and building a great customer experience, contact a company that can. Your customers will thank you if you do—just like I’m going to do when I send an email tonight to the hardware store about how great “Bob” was to work with.