Do you need better marketing automation? Start by treating your customers the way you would want to be treated in the same situation.
“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” – Bill Gates.
These days nearly every online process has some automated component. Automation increases speed of sales and delivers instant gratification. When it works well, I welcome it and expect to be treated that way in many situations. Automation is a great thing when done well, meaning the designer thought of how the human who interacts with the automation would want to be treated.
But automation is only as good as the human who built it. Exception handling causes the most difficulties for everyone from marketer to audience. In other words, you have a situation that was not anticipated by the system. The more rigidly you design your system to serve your own needs, the farther away your business moves from your customers’ needs.
In many situations, a human must intervene to fix the automation or error. How the human handles the resolution is what determines if a company is viewed as exceptional, clueless, or uncaring.
For consumers, Zappos built its entire business on helping people handle exceptions from website errors to choosing the right shoe color, and of course, returns.
The difference between a remarkable firm and an also-ran is how your human team handles mistakes.
If your human team is remarkable in helping your human customers to resolve questions which are not answered by your site (or automation) or in resolving automation exceptions (personal preferences, outright errors, or human fulfillment mistakes), that makes the difference between a remarkable firm and an also ran.
The Customer Centric person treats their customers the way they would want to be treated in the same situation.
A few firms truly understand that. How often have you seen poorly written email invitations to industry events? Or read critical blog posts about mail merge errors and automated “personal” emails? Or you receive a few too many reminders because some other marketer desperately needs you at their webinar?
Is this how you want to be treated? So why are you doing this to your prospects and customers?
Marketing Automation tip: ask “Is this how I would want to be treated by a vendor?” If not, design a better workflow.
Ask Customer Focused Questions to Improve Customer Focus
Here are tips for building automated workflows which treat others the way you want to be treated in the same situation.
Asking the right Customer Question at each stage of developing a campaign, nurture flow, or lead management workflow will connect you to your customers in a more meaningful, human way.
How do you keep a Customer frame of mind? Ask Customer Questions!
- Ask the key Question: if I were to receive this email (or series of emails) is this how I would want to be treated? Is this email providing me with the information I need?
- Nurturing flows: “Would I want to receive this series of emails in their position?”
- Subscription Management: “If I wanted to change my preferences, is this how I would want to be treated?” What if I just wanted webinar invitations? Or live events?
- Lead Management: if I were a student, or had a question, but wasn’t ready to buy, is this the way I would want to be treated? How will that affect future perceptions of the brand?
- Sales Alerts: if I were a sales person, is this the information that would excite me to accept a lead, call that person, and be informed ahead of time?
There are plenty of opportunities to improve your workflows to save you time as well as make a good impression on people who contact your firm.
In case this framework sounded too familiar, it is: The Golden Rule.