by Mark Campanale, Digital Marketing Manager, NPA
WALT DISNEY FAMOUSLY SAID: ‘Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.’ While the most progressive medium in his day was the newspaper, Disney knew that change is constant; if you fail to adopt new and progressive business practices, you will surely get passed by those who do. When you offer the best customer service in your store and your online channels don’t offer the same experience, your customers (and future customers) will find someone who does.
CATALYST FOR CHANGE
As a Customer Experience Instructor with Disney University, I focused on training Cast Members of all ages in the power of delivering the ultimate customer experience. A large part of my course centered around embracing technology. Disney is always one step ahead of the competition with being both high-tech and high-touch. Unless the Cast Members truly owned that powerful combination, there is a disconnect with the customer experience. So, Disney’s words weren’t simply prophetic, they were a catalyst for embracing change.
“But I’m a small business owner. What do the business processes of a multi-billion dollar company have to do with me?” The answer is EVERYTHING. It doesn’t matter what size your business is. Technology and social media are evolving in ways that benefit every business. Gone are the days when the one “techie” thing you needed was a website. Now, in order to compete, your need list includes (but DEFINITELY not limited to):
• A Facebook Business page
• Options to buy online
• E-mail and text marketing campaigns
• The ability to track your online reputation
• Smartphone apps
All of these touch points need to be supported by the same impeccable customer service you would give your customers if they were standing in your store.
THE FOREST FOR THE TREES
At this point you may be thinking, “Where am I supposed to find the time and resources to do all of this?” Throughout my public speaking career, I’ve spoken with hundreds of small business professionals about social media, technology, and their involvement. Before we get too deep into the conversation, I always ask, “Can I get a show of hands of who is on (Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn, etc.)?” The forest populates with just about 100% of attendees’ arms waving in the air. I then ask, “Who uses online apps for making purchases? Texting? Online customer service?” The forest remains healthy. Then, there’s the follow up: “Keep your hands up if you are using (Twitter/Facebook/Linkedin, etc.),”and the forest becomes sparse with a few saplings (i.e., arms half raised). Then, little chuckles spread from the audience (as in, ‘hey, I’m not alone!’). The discussion deepens when we discuss THE WHY: Too busy, too time consuming, our customers don’t want these things, etc.
The reality is that they are too busy working IN their business, rather than working ON their business. They are so wrapped up in the day-to-day mundane processes, they don’t see tech and social media as paramount to delivering the ultimate customer experience.
Consumer purchasing behavior is changing rapidly. In a post-pandemic economy, your customers have become accustomed to making their purchases online. While a great experience at your physical store is extremely important, you now must match that experience digitally.
A recent online shopping survey by Brizfeel.com* of 30,000 participants produced the following results:
• 57% of consumers prefer to shop online
• 92% of consumers said they shop online at least
once a year
• The mobile phones are the top platform used for
• 93% of mobile consumers said they prefer to shop online using mobile shopping apps instead of the mobile browser
• And my favorite:The top factor that drives customer loyalty for online consumers is customer experience
A CLEARER PICTURE
With this data in mind, we can better understand the flow of consumer purchase behavior. Your current and potential customers now have unlimited online options to make their decision prior to purchase:
• They will search online for products or services
• They will ask their friends on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. for suggestions
• They will read reviews and compare companies
• They will use online chat to ask questions
• They will search for company apps for online shopping
• They will compare, share, and critique experiences EVERYWHERE
They will engage in all of these behaviors and more, without stepping into your store. This is a lot of information to digest and process, never mind act upon! Although daunting:
ROADMAP TO SUCCESS
We all need somewhere to start. Here are 5 steps you can take today to begin thriving in today’s digital economy.
1. Acknowledge your own purchasing behavior. Start to take note of the flow of your own purchase process. How do you search for a product? Who do you ask for suggestions? What do you do when you don’t receive exceptional customer service (online or in-person)? And, how does your purchasing behavior compare to your business practices?
2. Own your online brand. Your presence online IS your reputation. If your Facebook business URL is Facebook.com/a-bunch-of-random-numbers and characters, change it to your business name.
3. Do online searches for your company. Go on Google Business (and other review sites) and claim your business. Start asking customers to post online reviews.
4. Reserve your seat at the online table. Go to the top social mediums (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, etc.) and create a business profile – but don’t post anything!
5. Get to know your new online persona. Before you begin posting, start to explore the apps. See what other similar companies are doing. Take note of what you like and don’t like. Start to draft your own roadmap and visualize what your presence will look like.
Without a proper starting point, it’s extremely easy to get lost. With this roadmap completed, you will start to see a clearer picture of your path, and how to begin your journey.
Mark Campanale is the NPA Digital Media Manager and has spent 28 years championing the customer experience in both the financial and entertainment industries, including Disney. Questions? firstname.lastname@example.org