Get More Sales from Your Current Customers

Since 2008, we have been helping our customers learn how to get more sales from their current customers.  One of the quickest, easiest, and most profitable ways to start is using the data you already have.  Using data from your accounting and CRM system it is possible to determine which of your current customers can be made more profitable, more loyal, and which are the most likely to buy more from you.  Learn more, Download our Case Study.
Contemporary Analysis specializes in using predictive analytics to forecast consumer behavior.  Using a statistical technique called multinomial logistic regression, we can use patterns in your past data to predict future events. (more…)

5 ways to improve your customer experience

To CAN, servicing smart means helping create a smart customer experience. Its not just us though. More and more companies are realizing customers value a great customer experience and that they are no longer making decisions based solely on “is it cheap?”.

To succeed in this new world, companies have to do things to make their company stand out. They have to make their company the one that customers want to do business with again and again. A good place to get started improving your customer experience is creating a set of standards for your customer service.

What does it take to have a “great customer experience”?


Examples of How to Improve Your Customer Experience

What do you do with customers once you get them?  Many times customers are only contacted again at a yearly review or if they have had a problem.  This passive customer experience doesn’t help you improve sales.  Your customers end up with a relationship with a customer service representative instead of you, their salesperson.  Why is that?  Why do we let customers that took blood, sweat, and tears to find and sell, be pushed to the back of our subconscious, never to reemerge? There needs to be a different way. Sales people need to inject themselves into the customer experience.
Predictive analytics allows you to use your data to find hidden patterns inside your customer experience cycle.  Using these patterns you can work smart to reengage current clients at the right time with the right products/services.  This will allow you to close more sales, more profitable sales, and even keep them from going to a competitor. (more…)

Why Customer Segmentation Will Improve Your Marketing

I have been married for almost 10 years. I have gotten good at buying gifts, even clothes. I can match blouses and jewelry, dresses and belts, shoes and jeans. My secret? I look at the mannequins. Mannequins were designed to attract your attention in a store window and to lure you into the store. Then inside, they are designed to show you some of the combinations you could make with their clothes. Essentially they are designed to get you to buy more than one thing. This is perfect for guys. All we have to do is point to the mannequin and ask a store sales person where we can find those certain pieces of clothing.  We can buy the mannequin lock stock and barrel and end up with a complete outfit for our brides.
This is actually what I do when I do marketing for companies. Marketing comes in two forms. Marketing to your current clients and marketing to people who aren’t your current clients. I view each as a completely different problem while most marketing companies do not. They have only have one mannequin with the same clothes for every store. Children’s clothes, women’s clothes, men’s clothes, all the same mannequin.
Unfortunately most of the marketing plans I see are all the same. The commercials are different but the plan is the same. They do direct mail, email, print campaign, radio, and if they have the budget, TV ads. Their view is that all people are potential clients which as you who follow the blog know, is not true.  The problem is that they have no idea who their target audience is, and how to market to them. They found a campaign that reaches a lot of people and they sell you that one. It may have different clothes, but it is the same mannequin. It is essential to use customer segmentation to improve marketing.
This is critical to understand. Gone are the days when people walk down a street with stores on it, see a mannequin, and make the decision to go inside. Now, people browse their favorite stores online and are more loyal to store brands like Gap, Old Navy, JC Penny’s, Younkers, and Von Mauer. We have to get a new mannequin.
Mannequins, models, are going through a huge makeover right now.  In fact, if you do a job search for entry-level marketing positions, they are looking for things like statistics, modeling, and analytics in your background. What they are struggling to come to understand is the idea of marketing to one person at a time. Marketing now needs individualized messaging.
I don’t have to go to far back to find when this was still science fiction. Minority Report (2002) shows a seen where character John Anderton is walking through the mall and cameras recognize, data base search, and present relevant ads, based on his buying history. To see a version of this now, just go to iTunes. Any song I buy will create 5 suggestions of other songs I might like, based on my buying history, songs with similar tempos, themes, or by the same artist. With a predictive analytics company like ours, we can do the same thing for your product.
First you have to understand something about how we view marketing. This is the key philosophy that makes us different. Marketing is using a different medium to get in front of your target audience for the sole purpose of selling to them. Selling to them. The sole purpose.  EVERYTHING else is branding. Branding is fine. We do a lot of branding. We just don’t call it marketing. That key aspect alone will forever change the way you do marketing. When you use it as a sales tool, you will no longer accept marketing with no measurement of who looks at it, how it is crafted, and where it is put. It will focus your marketing on only the people who have an actual chance to buy from you in the marketing cycle. This does not include: people who might buy, people you think need to be introduced to your product, or someone who might have a need someday. What marketing with the intent to sell does is only spend your time and money on the people who are ready to buy now.
How do we do this? We use math and econometrics to understand the buying process. What causes people to think of buying a product like yours? What series of events leads to needing a product like yours? Who are the people in a company that make the decision to buy a product like yours? These are important things to understand in the process. Don’t market to someone who doesn’t need what you are selling, isn’t high enough up in a company to make any kind of decision, or hasn’t experienced any kind of problem that your product would fix. It wastes time. Why would you ever market a phone system to a sales person. They can’t buy it. Why would you ever market a copy machine to a company of 4 people. They can’t afford it.
I have heard the argument that you need to be in front of those people now so they think of you when he problem arises. Valid argument. However, because of the new view of marketing I just gave you, that states that marketing is used as a sales tool to find people who are ready to buy now, you can see that this is branding. Branding is necessary, we do branding; however, if you have a company like us who markets you correctly, i.e. to the right people, at the right company, at the right time, you don’t even need to do that.
Example.  Name someone who makes shingles.  Not someone who installs them, someone who makes them. Why don’t you know? Shingles protect everything in your home and are the first thing damaged in a storm. If you own a house, shouldn’t you know who the best, worst, and middle of the road companies are in the shingle business? The reason you don’t need to know, is that you don’t need shingles. When the time comes and you need shingles, you will do your research and find a company that installs the type of shingle you want on your home.
It’s the same for business. People don’t really need to know about your product until they start doing research about your product. Key point: Up until now, you had to guess when companies were going to need you and you had to brand so that people remembered you when that time came. Now, with analytics, we can predict when to contact companies because we can predict when they should be beginning research on products similar to yours.
Think about this — how can a marketing company know where to put your ads either on TV, radio, direct mail, email campaigns,and social media without knowing what causes someone to buy your product. Its time to start marketing differently. Instead of putting mannequins in the window, lets know the person that is walking down the street. Lets advertise to them when they need us, want us, and can afford us, and save our money on tire kickers, time wasters, and spectators.  Its time to spend your hard-earned marketing budget on the people who we need to talk too. Its time to work smart.

Dashboard Design: Bullet Graph vs. Bar Chart

We invest a lot of time and energy communicating our research, because unless we can effectively communicate our findings they are useless.  When the goal is to communicate the most valuable information with the least amount of ink that can be understood with the least amount of effort.  For your reference, our major influences are Deirdre McCloskey on writing, Stephen Few on dashboard design, and Edward Tufte on data visualization.

Recently, CAN conducted a customer satisfaction survey for the Georgia Regional transportation Authority.  In addition to developing, deploying and analyzing the customer survey, CAN went above and beyond to improve how GRTA reported the results of their annual survey.  In this post, I will explain why we used a modified bullet graph instead of a bar chart to answer the business question.

The purpose of the graph is to help answer the business question of how does GRTA compare to two competitors across 17 different metrics.  While GRTA needs to continually improve, for the purpose of  answering the business question the exact score was not important, but instead the difference between each competitor and compared to others how does GRTA score.  Comparing each company by metric was the main influence behind the design on CAN’s graph.

The Original Graph


The CAN Graph

– In the original graph, the bold vertical lines focus the viewer how each metric scored, by encouraging the eyes to go up and down.  In the CAN graph, the light gray horizontal lines encourage the eyes to travel left and right to compare each companies performance.  Also, we used light gray lines so that we did not dominate the graph with supporting data.
– In the original graph, there is no simple way to show the spread between the different competitors, besides comparing each line together.  However, it important to know how competitive each metric is when answering the business question.  When designing the CAN Graph, we darkened a length of the light gray horizontal lines to show the minimum and maximum score on the service quality index.  This
– In the original graph, using four different colors made it difficult to make a memorable distinction between each company, take up an unnecessary amount of space, and impossible for color blind (10% of males) to make distinctions.  Using different shades of gray CAN made it easy for everyone, including the colorblind, to distinguish between different companies.  In addition to adding an additional way to differentiate between companies, using different shapes allowed for better distinction when multiple companies score close to each other.
– In the original graph, the overall low graphical quality such as broken vertical lines, faded colors and pixilated font created an unnecessary distraction, and reduce the credibility of the results.  While this might seem petty, producing graphs that are crisp and well designed help develop trust with the audience.  In the CAN Graph, we produced the entire graph in black and white, so that the report can easily be reproduced on either a color or black and white printer.
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How to Get Referrals from Clients

Referrals from current clients are completely different from referrals from referral partners. Getting referrals from your current clients require a different conversation, because they already know you, your product, and the benefits. One of the best I know at having the conversation is a friend of mine named Amy. She has developed a system that allows her to receive 10+ referrals per week from her current clients.

I asked her how she was getting so many referrals, when most people are happy with one or two per week.  She told me not to be satisfied with just one or two referrals. “I used to get only one or two per week until I started expecting three or four from each person.  Unless you make it a point, they don’t know how many they are supposed to give you. After setting expectations clients usually just keep providing names of people that I can help, until I stop them.” (more…)

Scaling 1 to 1

As a  business owner and salesperson I require time to myself to think, rest and connect with people, however their are always others that want my attention.  I have had to resort to locking myself in my office and forcing myself to focus at the expense of the world around me.  However this alienates people and can be very lonely.  The following is a list of my ideas about how to scale 1 to 1.  I decided to put my ideas into a blog post because I want to share my ideas about how to scale 1 to 1.

A Chauffeur to the Virtual World: It is important that you and your employees are always carrying business cards because they are the easiest way to chauffeur realtime face to face interactions to non-time sensitive virtual interactions.  This allows you to spread out interactions so that you eliminate bottlenecks.  It is important to ask for the other person’s business card to make sure they know that you actually want to connect.  Explain that as much as you want to jump into the relationship right now, you want to reconnect at a later time so that you can give your full attention.

Transition Meetings: In order to scale 1 to 1 it is essential to move interactions from the physical to virtual. I resisted moving my meetings from physical to virtual.  However, over the last year I have moved almost all of my meeting to the virtual world.  I was sick of spending hours driving back and forth, and showing up late to meetings because of traffic, exhaustion and bad planning.  The key to moving meeting to the virtual world is to properly set up your virtual meeting room.  At first my virtual meetings felt awkward and where full of technical difficulties, and thus it was difficult to establish rapport with the people I was meeting.  After investing in a camera, professional grade studio microphone, a professional physical space, and a wired internet connection, I was able to establish the same rapport with my clients as my physical meetings.  I think the key was that I was comfortable, especially since I didn’t have to hold a microphone.  On the software side of virtual meetings I highly recommend using Skype and  They are very simple systems that load very quickly.
A Lobby Full of Ideas: Developing a lobby allows you to add value to people that you have just met and also your current clients when you are not around. CAN’s lobby is composed of a set of standard emails that are well thought out with content specific to different types of people we meet in different circumstances.  For example we have a list of our favorite things that we send to people we have just met introduce them to a few of our favorite things, our products and our company.  The goal of our lobby is to enhance the CAN customer experience by introducing potential customer to CAN and our products so that we can spend our face-to-face time engaged in learning about our customers and not telling them about CAN.  CAN is currently working on a series of emails specifically for people we have just met, people interested in our 5 products, and clients of our 5 products.
Scale Conversations: You can use your blog to scale 1 to 1 by writing about frequent conversations that you have, and then inviting people you engage with to add their thoughts.  This moves your realtime face-to-face interactions to a non-time sensitive virtual interaction, and you can network your new connections with other people that are having a similar conversation.

Calming Irate Customers

This guest post is being contributed by Chris Blanton.
Do you remember the last time you were frustrated while making a purchase? Maybe you were talking with an unintelligible company’s customer service rep on the telephone. Or maybe a retail clerk was arguing with you. Perhaps a returns department refused your refund because you had lost the receipt. Regardless why you were upset, you wanted two things: someone to solve the problem, and a sincere apology for being disrespected.
Whenever you deal with an irate customer you must ascertain and resolve the initial problem while impressing upon them that you are aware of and never intended the perceived slight.
What if you think they’re wrong? Don’t disagree with them. Never argue with a client. You may win the argument but you’ll lose the sale, and the client. Worse, you’ll miss out on all their future business and all the future business of everybody that client ever complains to who chooses not to buy from you. So do your utmost to ensure a client always feels respected. Every shopkeeper knows the well-worn saw: “the customer is always right.” There are times when you have to jettison a client, and in a future post I’ll show how to do that so it doesn’t hurt your reputation.
At the same time don’t dwell on fault. Don’t consider whether the client’s demands are unreasonable, just solve their problem without opening yourself up to liability. How do you do that? Simple: empathize and accept ownership of the problem and bypass fault entirely. If the customer brings up blame, gently guide the subject back to how you’re going to resolve their problem. Recall the best customer service you ever experienced. The agent probably said something like: “I can understand why you feel that way. I’m sorry you were disappointed. Let me make it right.”
That’s all you need to say. No fault finding, just demonstrate concern and empathy. How you choose to make it right is up to you. What if you can’t make it right? One way is to show concession by bartering value. For instance, you could use a version of the discounted upsell – discussed in the previous post – to offer a customer a concession that might solve the problem. You save the sale and, as a bonus add profit to the bottom line. “This widget works great with this gizmo. Why don’t I knock $50 off that normally $100 gizmo for the difficulty?” The client doesn’t need to know the gizmo cost you only $5; the client only sees the $50 concession you made to keep their business and will often be satisfied.

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