We’ve all heard the overused and ever appropriate saying of “first impressions are everything.” But how many companies successfully employ this concept when presenting their brand or products to customers for the first time?
Your brand creates expectations for your customer – it defines who you are, how you separate yourself from others, and what value you can offer to your customers. These expectations provide assurance to your customers that what they expect, will in fact be what they experience. Your customers’ experiences when interacting with your company validates whether or not you’re meeting their expectations, thus successfully connecting customers with your product and establishing valuable relationships.
By designing and controlling your first touchpoint experience with customers, you can ensure that your brand’s promise is carried out on a consistent basis and customer expectations are always met.
Here are six ways to ensure your first touchpoint experience with customers is a positive one:
1. Be There to Listen
We all want to be heard. Knowing someone is there to listen makes us feel empowered, valued, and respected. We want our experiences to be known and shared among others and we want our perspective considered when decisions are made that affect our experiences. It’s human nature and it’s an important part of customer service.
Social media gives customers an effective way to share their experiences – both positive and negative in nature – with their community. But it’s an even playing field because it also gives brands an effective platform to listen and engage with their customers. Social media allows companies to monitor the conversations about their brand 24 hours a day, seven days a week. These conversations offer powerful insights into customer behaviour and their interactions with your brand. It’s not enough to just listen though; you have to take action. Conversations that happen organically in online spaces can lead to businesses finding new opportunities to really “wow” their customers.
“Wow-ing” customers is easier than you might think. Consider for a moment the impact that KLM Royal Dutch Airlines experienced when they launched a campaign focused on using their customers’ tweets to create “customer happiness.” The campaign involved surprising travelers with unique gifts based on their social networking profiles.
When a passenger checked in at KLM’s Foursquare locations, the “KLM Surprise team” would look up the customer on various social networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to gain a deeper understanding of who this customer is, what their hobbies are, where and why they are traveling, etc.
Learning about your customer is easy as most people have a presence on at least one social network. Creating “customer happiness” was as simple as learning one unique thing about the person and offering them a product that matches their interests.
Back to the example at hand, the KLM Surprise team used this insight to offer personalized gifts to surprise the passenger with. The team then monitored the conversations generated by the event on various social networks. The result – with the passengers they surprised, they generated over 1,000,000 brand impressions on Twitter alone.
Watch this video and see for yourself how effective the campaign was and how easy it can be to make that first touchpoint a great experience for your customers:
2. Be Visible
Nobody likes a Where’s Waldo challenge when in pursuit of brand or product information on the web. Make it simple – take the time and make the investment to ensure that your product is easy to find when customers search your brand’s name online.
Create Compelling Content
Develop a content marketing strategy for your website and explore a variety of methods to engage your customers through the creation of different types of content such as e-books, “how-to” guides, blog posts, videos, infographics, etc.
Be Search Friendly
Invest in search engine optimization by researching which keywords are associated with your brand or product and simply writing content that includes relevant keyword phrases. Keep your content fresh and updated so that you continue to be included in search results. Including keywords in your website’s meta data, including the title tag and meta description will improve your website’s search listing thereby making your brand easier to find.
30 Second Pitch
You now have about 30 seconds to make a good first impression – that’s how long the average person spends on a homepage. Even less, about 0.2 seconds, for a visitor to form an opinion about your brand. So make it worth it. Now that you’ve successfully brought someone to your website, give them a positive experience and tell them a nice story. After all, they expect it, right?
Note: The formula for a good online user experience looks like this:
1. Logo and site name: Make sure your logo and site name is clear and visible
2. Navigation: Websites with a clear navigation experience users who browse rather than search
3. Search navigation: Make sure you have an obvious search box for your customers to easily find what they are looking for and to enable effective product searching
4. Current location: Include page titles to ensure your visitors always know where they are on your site and how to move forward
Make a Sale
You may have successfully positioned your website in the top search results and offer your visitors a great online experience, but are you transforming these visitors into customers?
Making your product easy to purchase online by clearly indicating pricing and purchasing options allows customers to quickly compare prices and make purchasing decisions more easily. Additionally, you should include contact information so that consumers can quickly contact the company for more information, purchase inquiries or to make orders.
Make it easy for your customers to find you and engage with you whether they are using a desktop computer, a tablet or a smartphone. In most cases, one single customer could use all three devices throughout the course of your relationship. Be adaptive and accessible so that you’ll remain on the fingertips of your customers at all times and ensure each interaction is a positive and productive experience.
3. Tell A Multi-Channel Story
Brand storytelling isn’t a new concept; in fact it’s the foundation of marketing. However, with the rapid growth of social media businesses now have more opportunities than ever to deliver compelling stories directly and intentionally to their customers and target markets.
Brand storytelling should engage, intrigue, and connect emotionally with customers. Compelling stories should include rich content and interesting visuals like infographics, diagrams, images, animations or videos. The key is to ensure that messages are relevant and consistent across all of the brand’s online properties including social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
Your brand’s website or social media profile is likely going to be the first touchpoint for your customer. Storytelling is a powerful way to connect with customers on an emotional level, a level more effective at driving sales, meaningful interaction, and positive word-of-mouth residual marketing. It’s also effective in building brand loyalty.
Consider for a moment, MailChimp, a company designed to help brands create, send, and track email newsletters. In an environment typically filled with straight-edged serious B2B language, this company embraces humor creating a positive and enjoyable experience for its customers.
4. Sell the Benefit
People don’t buy products, they buy benefits that will positively impact or enrich their lives. That’s exactly what Steve Jobs of Apple did. He sold benefits and solutions, not computers. To this day, Apple’s sales specialists are taught to sell the benefit behind their products and to customize those benefits to the customer. Focus on the need for the product or the solution it will offer, rather than the product itself, and market the advantage it will offer to the customer.
5. Practice Delivering the "Wow"
Delivering the “wow” is a concept originated from Zappos, an online department store that lives and breathes excellence in customer service. Their “wow” philosophy begins internally as the driving force behind the culture of the company and extends outwardly as the most important value offered to their customers.
Companies in all industries that strive for excellence in customer experience should practice delivering the “wow.” Delivering the “wow” should happen at the first touchpoint and the last. It doesn’t have to be difficult; it can be as easy as offering an extended return policy or delivering a small surprise gift to a customer at their first touchpoint. The “wow” should always be personal, so try eliminating sales scripts, make a personal phone call, or identify a customer’s personal interests by reviewing their social profile.
Most importantly, be dedicated to developing a “wow” culture. Whether you call it “wow” or not, building a brand culture around positive, above and beyond customer experiences will not only help you connect with customers but will also build brand loyalty and strengthen customer engagement.
6. Be Relevant
As you prepare to meet someone for the first time, you put some thought into what you’ll wear, where you’ll go or what you’d hope to talk about or learn. The choices you make will be a direct reflection of the specific individual that you are meeting in the hopes of appealing to their unique interests and personality. The same thought should be given to your brand’s identity. In an age where we have a wealth of data at our fingertips, there is no longer any excuse for failing to personalize your content and brand experiences to the different customer personas that will visit your site.
As HubSpot explains, “buyer personas are the result of slicing your target audience into individual groups of people. These people are fictional representations of your ideal customers, based on real data about customer demographics and online behavior, along with educated speculation about their personal histories, motivations, and concerns.” You can use readily available demographic and behavioral information (age, location, income, etc.) to create these customer segments. Once you have identified these segments, you can create customized brand experiences by creating custom landing pages, or pointing out specific content or features based on their customer profile. Once they click around and dive deeper into your site, you can start to infer their persona and deliver a more personalized experience from then on.
By making it easy for visitors to find the content and resources that are most relevant to them, you are not only increasing the likelihood of conversion by educating potential users on the benefit of your product and services, you are creating a positive brand experience. Customizing your content for your users is a simple and cost-effective way to create lasting delight and deepen brand engagement.
The long–lasting sustainable relationship is what brands are looking for. It’s those relationships that bring residual value to the company and help share the brand’s story offline.
What experiences have you had with brands that deliver an awesome first touchpoint?