Information Maven: Greg Meyer

Customer Development, Customer Strategy, Customer Success

Your customer wants to be entertained

Meghan Trainor at the Neptune Theater, Feb 14, 2015, Seattle, WA
Meghan Trainor at the Neptune Theater, Feb 14, 2015, Seattle, WA

We are all very busy. When someone asks for our attention, we want a show. Not just a “dog and pony” show, but a real experience with a tight structure, strong production values, and a Big Finish that we can record for posterity. Pop Stars have it down – they know that a customer’s experience with a single song has to translate into a customer experience that reinforces the brand. The key insight is that we don’t want to have our time wasted and we want the time we invest in an experience or a product to have value that extends beyond that experience itself.

What’s the first experience customers have with your product?

Think about the encounter with your product as a show. At Disney Parks, management refers to the customers as guests and the employees as on stage talent to help everyone know that the experience is a magical (and also fragile) construct where the guests want to be entertained and the employees do their part to make sure everything seems right. This is the exchange customers make for their time: show me something of value and I will commit my time, energy, and effort into seeking and finding that value.

The first time a customer uses your product, they need an easy task that demonstrates immediate value so that they will want to come back. A common way to accomplish this is to use the customer’s own information (connect your Twitter handle, enter the name of your web domain, or even the most basic tell me the preferred name you wish to be called) because it’s more likely you will get that information right. Get the first customer interaction right, and the customer will come back. Give them garbage, and you lost the chance to be considered in the future.

How do you set the stage?

In a rock show, there are roadies and advance personnel that ensure that the stage is set “just so” and that the experience in-theater (or stadium or venue) is similar to the way the talent practiced. There are rituals (the opening act, the lights, the backing music) that help prime the audience for an experience. And there are built-in mechanisms for checking audience participation (the welcome “HELLO CLEVELAND” to indicate a special experience in your town, the encore for making sure that you know the singer appreciates you). All of these actions set the stage for a great customer experience.

Setting the stage for a product involves setting the stage, suggesting a clear and immediate benefit, and then showing the way with the minimum of gates to take customer through the sign-up funnel.

The best sign up pages have a Sell (“try my product”), a Benefit (“When you try my product you’ll get this immediate benefit”) and an Action (“Get the benefit by signing up Now”). Here’s an example of a few pages from the Pinterest mobile UI that do this well.

example onboarding, courtesy of UXArchive.com
example onboarding, courtesy of UXArchive.com

Not everyone has as clear of a benefit as offering beautiful pictures in a free product (and therefore has quite a low barrier to entry) but the principles for any business should be crystal clear. Show (don’t tell) the customer the benefit; Demonstrate the easy steps to get started; and Ask the customer to participate.

Add an Easy Button if You Don’t Have One

 

photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/firechickenta99/3480408342
An Easy Button.

Customers – as we’ve said before – are really busy. That means your product needs to be dead simple to start, even if the insights you deliver and the value you aspire to is less than dead simple. Start by listing the reasons the customer should try your product today, and keep them simple. One, two, or three benefits are probably as many as people can handle in one go (model your pitching on the idea of short-term memory – we can hold only 5-7 items in that memory and a few of them are probably already busy right now).

What’s next?

Make the first win easy, and then start sharing all of the insight and benefit your product gives in an easy to use format. For many people this is still email. Email wins because it is asynchronous, can be opened in many clients, and is reasonably easy to produce. Email loses because people have too much of it and they just don’t like to read.

Remember, customers are busy. Their time matters. Provide more value in less time and create a great experience that inspires them to share and they’ll come back to see more.

Marketing Strategy, Product Thoughts, Social Networking, Sports

Who won Super Bowl 49 on Social Media?

Photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/parksjd/16393969066
Photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/parksjd/16393969066

Who won Super Bowl 49 on Social Media?

We all know it now — in Super Bowl 49, The Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots left their bodies on the field as they battled for the NFL’s Lombardi Trophy. While all of metro Seattle is still smarting from the loss, and New England continues to celebrate, I thought it would get my mind off of the game to take a look at the results from the Super Advertising that took place during the Super Game.

$4.4 million was the going rate for this year’s Big Game, so clearly the biggest winner was NBC — the owner of all of that valuable advertising time. And many of the brands that advertised during the game generated a lot of engagement on social media — so I thought it would be interesting to compare the Battle for Super Bowl Attention across a number of different channels for all of the Super Bowl 49 advertisers.

Continue reading

Customer Experience, Customer Service

Noreply@ Emails Are Dumb

photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/jordoncooper/14272455652
photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/jordoncooper/14272455652

Imagine if you had a store and on the front door you placed a sign stating, “We’re not open for business.” You wouldn’t expect many people to come to your door, much less people to come back and see you again. Yet that’s exactly what your company does when you place a “noreply@” email address in an email that you send to customers. You’re missing an opportunity to communicate with people who could tell you valuable things about your business.

“Noreply@YourCompany.com” tells me that you don’t really care about customers. That email address tells me that you don’t read your email. And it tells me that replies to that email are going into silent oblivion. Yes, you say – it’s hard to answer all of those pesky emails – I agree. It’s a lot of potential responses. But most people never think to let you know what they are feeling when you put up a virtual Do Not Enter sign.

Here’s another thought. Why not start by having a “PleaseTalkToUs@” email alias tied to your emails that you send? Or “WeLoveToHearFromYou@” or “YourThoughtsMatter@”? It’s just an alias – you can keep the “noreply@” hidden somewhere if there is someone grumpy at your company who just doesn’t want to read email.

But consider the value of having the first time someone hears from your company be a personal touch, like “love@” or “WeLoveCustomers@” and see how the emails change from “Get Me Off Of This List” to “I’d love to tell you something important about your product, and I just need someone to listen.” It all starts with being mindful about the face you show to customers. Start with a smile and see what happens.

Career, Customer Experience

The first goal is to keep learning

photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/heycoach/1197947341
photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/heycoach/1197947341

My first goal as a college senior was to have the kind of job where I would never have to wear a tie. Achievement unlocked. But that didn’t really get to the core of the issue. I was really trying to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up. A person who helps customers every day was the answer.  Continue reading

Customer Success, Marketing Strategy

Why should an Influencer Care About Your Brand?

Photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelheiss/8710606842/
Photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelheiss/8710606842/

How do you define influence? Simply put, it’s the ability to ask for something from others and have them follow through on your behalf. Following through could mean completing a specific action – like “share this article” or “buy this product” or “try my product” or something more subtle, like “recommend this to your friends”. Or it could mean something a bit more complex, like “make sure that people whom you know will think of our [brand] or [idea] when they consider others in the same type of product or brand”.

Influence is not just the ability to ask – we do that all the time – but also the forecast that you will be able to count on people to take action on your behalf. It is a tremendous force that needs to be used judiciously (as Stan Lee said, with great power comes great responsibility), and it can disappear quickly with the wrong ask.

What are influencers?

Influencers are individuals who persuade people to take action (including purchase decisions) through their authority, facts, charisma, or relationship.

Influencers have the power to get others to do what you ask just because you ask. –@meshfire

If you don’t know what this feels like, try advocating for a brand or a service or an organization that you respect and use. Try pitching their goods or services to a friend, and see what the reaction is like. You might find that you do this every day, or it might be unfamiliar. Sharing a recommendation is a powerful way to help others. When that recommendation is a good one, it’s wonderful positive feedback. When that recommendation is not acted upon or when the person says, “not for me” it’s also great feedback that you need to refine your pitch or pick the person more carefully.

Influencers may also be brand advocates (highly satisfied customers) and are more credible to consumers when they are knowledgeable consumers and wield influence.

People engage in these activities because they feel intrinsic motivation (satisfaction from just the action of helping someone out) or extrinsic motivation (sharing content that is popular can make you more popular, or a trusted resource, or a linchpin for a process). Finding the key that makes people respond due to intrinsic motivation leads to a stronger bond.

What are some of the reasons someone might be an influencer?

Influencers engage typically because they share an affinity group (perhaps an alumni group from a university); a place (geography); an activity (athletic or otherwise); or an interest (may overlap with activity or be distinct – a combination of one of the other types).

Influencers share information to help their communities; to gain influence themselves; and to be a source of knowledge and information.

What can you do to help them understand what you do?

Start by putting yourself in their shoes. WIFM (What’s In It For Me) is a good acronym that helps you think about why they would want to take action on your behalf:

What are you asking them to do? Do they know how to do it, is the goal attainable, and will they want to do it?

When do you need them to do it? Have you given the person enough time to consider what you’re asking them to do and have you made it very easy for them to comply? Have you asked them to do anything else recently?

Why should they do it? Does your action present an obligation for them and are they putting their reputation on the line by completing your task, or are you simply asking them to share information?

Then, THANK them for taking action on your behalf – and do it in a way that matches the communications you’ve had before. Not everyone likes being thanked publicly. You might send an email, a card, or pick up the phone. You might send a tweet. And you might say hello in person and buy that person a cup of coffee. The point is to display gratitude – to let that person know that their action mattered – and to help them stay motivated to help you in the future.

Career, Life Hacks

What is your Superpower?

Courtesy of ap-photographie on Flickr
Courtesy of ap-photographie on Flickr

What is your Superpower?

Are you Super? Some programmers are 10x+ times better than their peers. And this distinction applies to team productivity in general. It makes it really important for you to know the thing you do better than anyone else. Doing more of that thing will make you happier at work and in general.

What is the one thing you do better than anyone else? If other people were to talk about how you interact in the world, what’s the “signature strength” they would talk about when they talk about you? Continue reading

Customer Strategy

How do community managers build community?

courtesy of  https://www.flickr.com/photos/31246066@N04/4936872846
courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/31246066@N04/4936872846

Talking to customers. Understanding their needs. Brokering disputes. Learning what’s best for the community as stated by the members of the community. And communicating that to others. These are some of the things that the best community managers do (online and offline) to build a great community. But what do they do, really? Community is a messy thing and not well understood – primarily because participants in a community perceive that community differently based on their life experience and their goals for participating in community.

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