Blog

Customer relationships, Uncategorized

Customers Are Won, Not Managed

Far too often I hear company executive talk about “managing their customers.” Customers are people who pay your salary, not widgets to be managed.

You can manage expectations, but managing people for profitability is just…wrong.

Let’s talk instead about building trust, value, and long term relationships for enduring loyalty. And yes, profits. Profits come after building trust and value.

Today I’ve published a new piece on Medium talking about how CRM is often used to mean software instead of the relationship itself. You may read the article here: Don’t Manage Customer Relationships. Build Them. 

 

Author Interviews, Uncategorized

Seven Oaks Consulting Featured in Fundera

There’s greater interest now than ever before in rural small businesses. Journalist Priyanka Prakash interviews me for this piece on rural small business in the online publication, Fundera.

Rural Small Businesses Earn Better Profits and More Financing

Among business owners, rural areas get a bad rap. But I’ve found that conducting business in a rural area – thanks to the internet – offers many advantages.

Read the article for the full story. Thank you again to Ms. Prakash for the opportunity.

Retail Marketing, Technology

Walmart Thinks It Can Tell if You’re Happy

Last night I read an article in Direct Marketing News which literally made me LOL (for those not familiar with online acronyms, that’s laugh out loud – LOL for short).

Walmart is exploring installing facial recognition software to install in their stores to assess how happy their customers are with their shopping experience.

Are you laughing yet?

Because I am.

First of all, shopping at Walmart is never a happy experience. It’s mostly neutral with a bit of stress and exhaustion thrown into the mix. I shop weekly at Walmart for groceries (don’t just; it’s one of only two choices in my tiny rural town). I feel as if I have walked several miles by the time I have found a cart without wonky wheels that spins me in circles, passed the endless center aisle displays of sugar and fat laden junk food, and reached my destination aisle.

Half the time, the shelves look as if a tornado has cruised through, and the other half of the time they’ve moved what I know should be in that aisle to somewhere else in the store and I spend an awful amount of time playing hide-and-seek with the laundry detergent or whatever it is that I want.

According to Inc., Walmart’s facial recognition software will assess your happiness level as you search for the last non-crushed box of graham crackers and if it detects you aren’t ecstatic will staff up accordingly.

As if lack of staff makes anyone unhappy at Walmart.

Listen, Walmart, if you really want to make customers happy and not creeped out that big brother is watching them with facial recognition software – which may or may not violate several rights to privacy I have, I’m not clear on that yet – let’s get a few things straight.

There are stores people shop at for pleasure and stores people shop at for necessity. You fall into the latter category. Therefore, few people are going to grin from ear to ear when they look at, say, the crumpled blouses on the floor in the clothing aisle or the whirlwind of jumbled cans in the soup aisle.

The expression of unhappiness on my face may be caused by a thousand things outside of a store’s control. I may have just had an argument with my spouse and stomped off to do the grocery shopping. I may have realized I am almost out of gas and have to stop for more if I want to make it home. My shoes may hurt because they’re pinching my feet. Who knows? Who cares? Who made it your prerogative to assess my happiness, anyway?

There are four places where staffing matters in any given Walmart and you are already failing miserably in most of them. So fix these before buying happiness software, please:

  1. Registers. Thankfully, our Walmart in Farmville, Virginia, has some of the nicest cashiers around. But for goodness sake, OPEN MORE REGISTERS.
  2. Fabric counter. Anytime I’ve wanted to purchase fabric, it’s an ordeal. I wait. And wait. And then a clueless person shows up who can’t stop to cut my fabric because he or she is a manager or something. If you’re going to have a fabric counter, have a button or something customers can press to call help over to cut their yards of felt or whatever.
  3. Online order pickup. Oh, what a nightmare. What an awful, time wasting, soul sucking nightmare. I order online. It ships to the store. I then wait at an empty counter for 15 – 20 minutes while employees run by on their way to jolly old breaktime and I grow gray and stooped and old waiting to pick up my water filter or whatever I ordered online. Then, someone does show up, and THEY CAN’T FIND THE THING IN THE BACKSTOCK. One time, they lost an archery target on us. Let that sink in. A freaking three foot by three foot archery target box was somehow hiding itself in the backstock area. Fix this, please.
  4. Stocking shelves. See above – my comment on shelves that look like a tornado breezed through them once, twice, or three times. Restock. Stock again. Then, check your stock. Because you can’t sell what you don’t have.

 

Do you know what these four areas have in common? Low tech, low touch solutions.

I’m all for high tech. I love high tech. I love technology in all of its wonderful forms. But the area where Walmart and many other ‘big box’ stores needs to improve is not in their use of technology but in their use of people or the current staff and resources they have on hand. Scanning my scowl won’t make a difference.

Writer Jeanne Grunert

 

About the Author

Jeanne Grunert is the President of Seven Oaks Consulting, a company focused on making customers smile (but not through facial recognition). She helps marketing agencies, publishing companies, and technology businesses with client-centered marketing strategies and content marketing that helps them acquire, retain, and create loyal customers. Visit Seven Oaks Consulting or Jeanne’s Amazon Author Page for her fiction and nonfiction books.

 

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Uncategorized

Grow Your Email List Fast

email marketing

Email remains one of the most popular ways of reaching customers. Constant Contact, the email marketing company, states that for every $1 you spend on email marketing, you earn $38. The right list, strong copy, and a compelling call to action get results.

I’ve written a new article for ADP THRIVE on how to grow your email list quickly. It includes my tips for growing a strong, responsive email list. You can read the article here: How to Grow Your Email List.

AI and banking
Technology

People-Centered AI

AI and banking

AI, or artificial intelligence, fascinates me. As a communications geek – someone gifted in both verbal and written communications – programming intelligent computers in linguistics, neural patterns, and ontology makes me happy. I love learning about AI, writing about Ai, and understanding the new discoveries around the globe that are revolutionizing banking, insurance, and many other financial institutions.

Fei-Fei Li is one of Google’s chief scientist and former director of Stanford Labs. MIT Review recently met with her and discussed the future of AI. Her interview offers a glimpse into the direction the industry is moving into and her emphasis on “people-centered AI.”

Read the full article here: Put Humans at the Center of AI

Social Media

Should Freelancers Express Their Opinions on Social Media?

This week, we’ve watched horrific events unfold across the nation. Hurricanes decimated Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. A gunman opened fire on concert goers in Las Vegas, killing 59 and wounding hundreds of people. It’s more than anyone can bear. To be honest, some days, I don’t watch or read the news.

I can’t avoid the chatter on social media, however. Not only do I rely upon social media for my own promotional needs, but I am part of a freelance team managing social media for a large, global marketing agency. Our clients rely on us to publish great social media posts and to maintain constant awareness of what’s trending. On any given day, I am checking into my social media accounts several times a day, liking, commenting, following, and sharing.

As anyone who follows social media will attest, there’s no shortage of opinions. No, people aren’t shy on social media! This week alone, I’ve read everything from conspiracy theories about the Las Vegas gunman (he wasn’t a lone wolf, he was a secret Antifa member, he was a secret Al-Queda member, you name it) to so much vitriol and hatred against the president that I feel like I went swimming in a tar pit.

I have opinions. I consider my opinions well-formed, based on sound, intelligent reasoning, logical deduction, and a well-read mind. That said, I don’t share them on social media.

Social media has been called an echo chamber and it is quite true. Few of us have friends with differing opinions; we rarely tolerate opinions contrary to our own.

Perhaps even more importantly for a freelancer such as myself, social media puts my opinions on display for all to see, including current and prospective clients. It’s a known fact that companies screen potential employees’ social media feeds during the recruiting process. So too do clients see my social media posts, which is why I stay within neutral topics.

I’m not saying that freelance writers, consultants, editors and others offering services hide their opinions. We all have opinions. I am saying to be very careful about how you express them on social media. Unless you want to limit your work options, it may be better to keep your opinions to yourself or express them among close friends. In person. The old-fashioned way.