Archive for July 20, 2013

Talk to Me Like I’m Five


There are some days, usually when I’ve not had enough coffee, where things just don’t make sense to me. If I get an enthusiastic colleague or client on the phone when this happens, who tends to speak at a high level, using euphemisms, words that are PhD level, and tries to explain something as though they were lecturing at MIT, I’ve been known to say, “Please, talk to me like I’m five.” That usually gets the message across (and a laugh), and helps me get to the heart of the conversation.


On the flip side, I’ve been known to do the same thing. I can tend to be wordy and more “academic” than necessary. This is one reason Twitter and I are not good friends on many days.


Your company’s website is no different – it’s been long said that keeping it simple gets you further. Making things simple to understand can give potential customers a sense of trust that you “speak their language” and makes them more comfortable.


Sometimes, when creating web content, it can be easy to get caught up in terminology that you may use on a daily basis, but your customers don’t. Or, you can get too long winded in the heat of trying to give enough information to get your audience to reach out and become a customer.


A great tool I’ve found is right within Google – it’s easily overlooked, but can be useful in learning more about your writing level.


Next time you are doing online searches in Google, take a minute to look at your company’s website. Simply type in on the Google search bar. Once the results come up, click on “all results” below the search bar so you can open up the drop down menu and click on “reading level”:


amazon reading level


This is what you’ll see next:


amazon reading level 2


By clicking on basic, intermediate, or advanced, you can filter the search results to see what sites or content is generating that reading level result. I’d first go to the advanced option – if your company site shows up in this search result, it may be time to rethink the content you’ve incorporated into your site.


In the case of Amazon, it looks like there are some links to some advanced reading reviews and discussions in the advanced tab, which is okay given the nature of the information being shared.


amazon reading level 3


Depending on your industry, having your website show up under basic or intermediate search results is best. The simpler you make it, the more likely customers will linger on your site to learn more, and hopefully make a purchase!




Top Customer Service Trends in 2013


Things are a’changing, and it seems like they change at breakneck speed.


Customer experience is no exception; as a business owner or manager, you likely feel the shift that has been happening over the last couple of years. The customer experience is changing, as are customer expectations. To keep up can be challenging.


Forrester released an article earlier this year revolving around the Top 15 Trends in Customer Service for 2013. It’s an interesting read, and one that businesses need to take to heart. Of the trends mentioned, I’ve found these to be the most significant or important to pay attention to:


1. Mobile solutions are becoming a must have: customers are on the go, and mobile use is significant. This is more than simply making sure your website is mobile friendly; the goal for mobile marketing, service, and support should focus on letting customers get what they need as efficiently and easy as possible. Helping customers get things off their “to do” list will create a streamlined, more positive experience for them.


2. Agile service is becoming more important than multichannel service: customers expect consistent communication across all channels, and if they start communication in one channel, they expect it to continue with the same consistency and personalization across other channels as they move through the purchasing process. What does this mean for business? It means that departments cannot remain independent of each other; customer service, marketing, IT, and sales all need to work together to create a consistent message and experience for customers. As this article suggests, and I’ve heard the term plenty recently, departments can no longer work in silos, separate from each other. It’s becoming a team effort, no doubt.


3. Customers expect proactive outbound communication: this goes hand in hand, in part, with the increase in mobile technology. According to Forrester, only 29% of enterprises are using proactive outbound communications, but it is predicted that this will increase in the near future. While this can suggest companies need more personalized email marketing programs, it is also focused on more personalized communications, whether it’s customized sales and discounts based on purchase history, alerts to upcoming offers, or even personalized recommendations via email, text, or other means based on a customer’s buying habits. It’s all about the customer, and they want to feel like their experience is geared just toward them.


You can find the rest of the trends for 2013 in the article published by Forrester. The trends noted above have been the most significant so far this year, and much of the research points to companies taking note of these trends and starting to align business models accordingly.


Mystery Shopping Reveals Key Questions Are Overlooked


A UK study recently released looked at independent optometrists’ best practices utilizing a mystery shopping program. Earlier this year, 40 “independents” were evaluated by shoppers, who were in the market for an eye exam. The study looked at key standard practices to see how each of the “independents” performed.


While generally yielding good results, some key takeaways showed that some of the most basic items were not consistently played out:


  • 25% of the mystery shoppers were not asked about lifestyle and hobbies, which can lend to a specific lens type, or even contacts, being offered. Without knowing this, it is possible the best recommendation cannot be offered.

  • 50% of shoppers were not told about certain options, such as tinted lenses or coatings

  • Approximately 66% of shoppers were not offered contacts as an option


The results shed some light on best practices, and as it was summed up, “‘It shows quite clearly that even the best independents have room for improvement,’ said PTR co-director Nick Atkins. ‘If you’re a mountain biker, for example, you need the most appropriate eyewear to ride your mountain bike.’”


They plan on repeating the study next year, and will likely do it on a consistent basis. This is a great case study that drives home the importance of conducting a regular mystery shopping program, not only to ensure staff are performing consistently strong across locations, but to look for potential red flags that may be compromising the customer experience.