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September 10, 2020
If you’ve seen The Wizard of Oz, you will undoubtedly remember the iconic moment when the translucent bubble falls gently from the sky. The beautiful Glinda emerges to give Dorothy the unforgettable advice, “Follow the Yellow Brick Road,” complete with a lively backup chorus.
Historically, sales and marketing teams have been that kindly guide for customers. However, with the emergence of the internet – the open 24/7, 365-days-a-year limitless source of information – it’s now not just possible but necessary for customers to answer questions for themselves rather than wait for regular business hours or responses from your staff.
With much of the world flocking to the digital landscape due to COVID-19, it’s now more important than ever that businesses meet customers and their needs whenever, however, and wherever they may be on their buyer’s journey.
Foremost, everyone on your team who interacts with your customer should be on the same page about where that customer is in their buyer’s journey. It doesn’t make sense for customers to receive drip emails while in the decision phase of their journey. In the same way, customers in the awareness stage shouldn’t receive troubleshooting tips for a product they haven’t yet decided to use. Using tools appropriate for each customer’s place in their journey will demonstrate that you view each customer as unique and valuable, and not just as a number in your profit margins.
Customers are in the awareness phase of the buyer’s journey when they feel a particular pain point and realize that they have an issue. They begin to form questions about what they are looking for regarding solutions to their problem, and the simplest question is: can you answer them? They begin to consider pricing, reviews and credibility, and time investment necessary for a successful outcome.
Tools to help customers navigate through this phase and help guide them forward include:
Once your customer realizes they have a problem, they begin to consider possible solutions. You should customize your resources to this phase in the customer’s journey.
Important tools include:
Once the customer has decided on a solution to their problem, they have to decide on a guide to lead them. This phase is an opportunity to produce stellar content that encourages customers to choose you over your competitors.
Tools critical for this phase include:
Once a customer has chosen your business to resolve their issue, your role in their buyer’s journey is not over. It is vital to continue transparent communication with your customer, which involves check-ins or troubleshooting issues. Providing above-and-beyond customer service nurtures the client and grows a customer into a raving fan who will recommend you to their friends and family who experience the same issue your customer did before they found you.
Just as important as knowing where customers are in their buyer’s journey is deploying the tools that will give your customers – or potential customers – the information they need. To confidently reach your customers 24/7, social media posts or stories, after-hours responses, chatbots, and AI messaging are all useful tools.
While your customer may be reaching out at odd hours, you don’t want them reaching out to an echo chamber – the silence is deafening for your business. Chatbots and messages live on your website or business profiles and cover these times you may not be there. Chatbots are (often paid for) software applications that route customer inquiries to service agents during regular business hours. Outside of business hours, some can pay a premium for customer service coverage in different timezones, but for small businesses, the best bet is an automated message. The messages on your site can be as simple as “Sorry we missed you, but we’ll respond to your message tomorrow morning. In the meantime, check out this article to learn more.”
This form of customer support is reactive, as the customer has to initiate outreach for you and your program to respond. Whether a real person or computer-generated, this interaction is better than customers encountering the void of silence on your site.
Your client relationship management (CRM) is a small-business owner’s best friend! Every CRM is different, but in general, this tool helps you track previous customer purchases, buying habits, and contact information. These platforms offer a way (for free or for an additional cost) to proactively reach out to your customers via SMS text messaging or by email.
This could include:
With fine-tuning, these methods show an invested interest in your customer and keep you top of mind for their future purchases. By creating positive feelings associated with you and your business, you create raving fans without raising a finger.
To go one step further, you can bring machine learning and artificial intelligence into your digital tools to help on a reactive and proactive front. Artificial intelligence programs help by crafting a workflow to a desired action, such as scheduling an appointment or meeting. When synced to your CRM, the AI can serve responses based on the user via email or SMS text messaging, which also helps qualify your leads in a proactive manner.
If a lead goes cold, the AI can also attempt to drum up conversation once more by reaching out to see if they’re still interested in your product or service.
Are these features relevant to your marketing strategy? Consider this – if you don’t offer the same dynamic, easily-accessible communications tools your competitors do, your customers may choose them over you. Potential leads could slip through the cracks, even if you have an all-star customer support team. What happens if your potential customer wants to buy at 2 AM?
With no failsafe in place, they would meet silence. On the other hand, an automated response will continuously nurture the customer when human interaction is not possible.
Our team of digital marketers is ready to help you implement these valuable tools and effectively reach your customers at any time and any place.