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Tips For Retention!

Repeat After Me: RETENTION

How are we retaining our Customers?


Let those 3 words ring in your mind. What is the Lifetime Value of a Customer? CLV represents the total dollar amount that each customer is worth to your business. Now that we have established how important Retention is; let’s talk about a few tips for increasing it.

Tip #1 – Proactive Customer Support
For happy customers, great customer service needs to be the norm, but exceeding expectations is a powerful way to get your customers talking (after all, a recent survey found that Americans tell an average of nine people about good customer service experiences). The never ending pursuit of excellence to keep customers so satisfied that they tell others how well they were treated when doing business with you. This one is easy! The better the service you provide, the more customers you’re going to retain, and the more loyal they will be.

Tip #2 – Scheduled Frequent Communication
Your communications are fundamental to any customer retention techniques. However, this has to be planned out. You have to provide a strategy for how often you want to contact existing customers and decide upon what communication type should be used. (Email, newsletter, blog) The exact frequency you choose will depend on your industry and even seasonality but you must have a plan and you must communicate.

Tip #3 – Request Feedback
All the best customer retention strategies require constant feedback from the customer to establish what is working and what is not working. Surveys and questionnaires are a perfect way of doing this. Both of these methods gather information from your customer. When you get a complaint see it for what it is….. A Gift! 96% of unhappy customers don’t complain. The just walk away, and you’ll never know why. When you incorporate questionnaires and surveys it gives your customer a place to complain and share their experiences with you. When customers have the opportunity to complain/share they are giving you a gift; they are still talking to you and giving you another opportunity to return them to a state of satisfaction.

The consequences of customer retention will compound over time – and that can either be a very good or a very bad outcome; so be on purpose with your strategies for customer retention. These few tips should just get the juices flowing in creating that strategy. The resulting effect on long term profit and growth ….. Priceless.

Is Technology Moving Fast Enough?

Is computer technology moving fast enough?

Almost universally the answer to this question is: Yes, absolutely! Technology is moving at an incredible pace – at the “speed of thought” some say. Moore’s Law (search the internet for “Moore’s Law” for more details), formulated in 1965 and updated in 1975, has been accurate for 50 years in predicting the exponential growth of computer performance. Moore’s Law predicted that the number of transistors that can be packed into an integrated circuit would double every couple of years. This has far reaching implications, from the number of megapixels in your digital camera and the ability to deposit checks from your mobile phone, to navigation systems used by drones.

Having said this, the raw power of computers helps enormously, however, it is not the solution to everything. Someone has to write applications. These are programs written by humans that naturally will encapsulate human flaws. It is very common to hear in the news things such as that a disruption in stock trading or chaos in an airline reservation system was caused by a “computer glitch”. Most of the time, this really means that there was human error in a computer program.

There have been huge advances in computer applications that track and leverage on the power of microprocessors predicted by Moore’s Law. However, I would argue that there are some cases where perhaps technology is moving too slow. I will discuss one example that I am sure will resonate with everyone.

It is hard to believe that after decades since the advent of modern computers, passwords are the mainstay of computer security. Most likely everyone reading this article has experienced the “password nightmare”. A myriad of passwords written in sticky notes, forgotten passwords (at the worst possible moment), hacked accounts, etc. Experts provide advice on how to manage your password. The most common advice is to create cryptic passwords like “This#must$be@Joke”… Oops, the password cannot contain words found in a dictionary and it should contain letters and numbers, so it better be something like “GFt#kHgT$33@Ef20”. How am I supposed to remember this? So here come the sticky notes. Experts tell us that passwords need to be changed often (say every 90 days), and that you need to use a different password for each account that you use. All this is tragicomic and it results in many people getting frustrated and using passwords like “123456” and “password”. Amazingly, many industry surveys show that these are the two most popular passwords (search the internet for “most popular passwords”). There is new technology that helps authentication with devices such as finger print readers or iris readers, however these technologies are still not well developed. Let’s hope that at some point in the future, passwords will become obsolete and computer scientists will develop authentication that is easy, reliable and secure. It will not be soon enough in my book.

How To Be a Master Gardener of Your Business

My father was known as the Tomato King in our county – his garden was immense (11 dozen tomato plants) for our family of four – and that was just the first planting.  I still cringe whenever I hear the sound of a handle hitting the side of a bucket as it brings back memories of early mornings when he would bring in a hundred gallons of newly picked tomatoes for us to wash and can.  You would have thought I would have had enough tomatoes for a lifetime.  Truth be told, I did.

However, after years of eating pale, woody, tasteless tomatoes from the grocery, I longed for the taste of the juicy home-grown tomatoes I had eaten as a youth.  I had a little extra time on my hands, so I decided to grow my own.  After reading all I could on plant varieties and watching hours of YouTube videos on container gardening, I was ready to get started.  It is strange how a little gardening gives one perspective on other areas of life – even business.  Here are my 10 gardening tips that amazingly parallel ways to grow a successful organization:

  1. Choose a large enough container – think big – give the roots a place into which to expand.
  2. Select multiple varieties of plants – hire people with diverse capabilities and age ranges – choose new hybrids and heirlooms.
  3. Cage and stake the plants early – have processes and procedures in place so that there is structure – trying to fit a cage on a larger plant takes more effort and can damage the plant.
  4. Choose a sunny spot – create a positive environment – get 8 hours of sun a day.
  5. Water consistently – stay fresh and current – don’t let the roots go dry.
  6. Pinch off suckers – don’t get sidetracked from the main goal – keep the energy on the primary stalk.
  7. Flick the flowers – encourage skill development – stimulate pollination to develop the fruits.
  8. Rotate the containers – be strong in all areas of the business – develop every side of the plant.
  9. Watch for pests and disease – monitor and control the health of the business – be alert and treat issues promptly.
  10. Fertilize weekly after the fruit forms – don’t get comfortable with the first signs of success – extra nutrients are essential for a thriving plant.

The most successful organizations include all of these elements.  What other gardening tips do you have for growing a successful business?

Do It Yourself, But First Get Help!

I consider myself relatively independent.  I am not afraid to try something new, and if given the option, I prefer to do it myself: to learn about it on my own and try it out without somebody looking over my shoulder.

That kind of attitude certainly has its advantages, such as getting things done at your desired pace, not having to rely on anyone else, and best of all, avoiding the laughter or criticism of others when you trip and fall.

On the flip side, there is nobody there to pick you back up, encourage you, or help keep you from tripping in the first place.  Getting help at the start can mean avoiding common (and potentially costly) mistakes, and it can build trust and confidence that could make whatever you are working on better/faster/smoother/more successful.

More and more, your clients, your customers, or your members want to do it themselves, and they expect to be able to.  But they will likely need some help along the way.  Are you  providing the help they need to be a DIY’er success?

A couple of examples I personally experienced within the past week.

First, the DIY Fail.

My brother is coming across the country to visit next month, so we decided that for part of the visit we would all rent a condo at the beach together.  I’m very accustomed to booking travel online, so I started looking.  To my delight, there were several sites with beach condos for rent and the ability to book them online. I spent hours looking for the best location at the right size for an acceptable price.  Part of those hours were intentional, but part of them were caused by:

Problem #1: we only wanted 3 nights but most places wanted a week minimum.  This caused me grief in the search process because many places would appear to be available, but after spending the time to enter a lot of information, I would then get rejected because of that minimum.  That did not happen on every site, but on those it did, It was frustrating to say the least.

We finally found what we felt was a perfect setup, it claimed it was available for the desired 3 nights, and it had everything necessary to book it online myself, which I did with great satisfaction. I got the confirmation emails, and I let my brother know we were beach-bound in just over a month.  It was a learning experience, but I felt good about having found the best place I could, on my own, and booking it myself.  Until I got another email:

Problem #2: just a few minutes after celebrating the confirmation of our trip, I received another email from the vacation rental management company.

“Great choice! Only issue is we require a Saturday to Saturday minimum. Give us a call ASAP if you can make this work or if you are open to another option. Your card has not been processed.”

Fail!  I started looking on my own again, but at my brother’s suggestion, I gave in and called the place.  I got an extremely knowledgeable and helpful rep named Luke.  From him I learned that they have a standard 6 night minimum (that I misunderstood in the Terms and Conditions) but that it can be flexible if it’s closer to the travel dates and the condo hasn’t been booked (hence the ability to book it for 3 nights with the online tool).  We were not close enough to our dates, so the owners still wanted to hold out for a 6 night reservation.  What to do?

Solution: while on the phone, Luke immediately went into finding mode.  Within 5 minutes I was looking at a new place I hadn’t seen during all my independent searching.  It was in nearly the same location, with similar accommodations, and best of all, with a lower price tag.  Plus, Luke provided expert information and advice helping me get the lower price and feel even more confident about the new reservation than the one I had booked myself.

LESSON:  This was a DIY fail on multiple levels, from my own lack of experience and reluctance to get help, to the failure of enabling software to actually enable me.  In the end, if I could have talked to Luke or someone like him at the beginning of the process, I could have saved myself a lot of time and wasted effort.  The experts in this case had a lot of help to offer, but I didn’t get it until the end.  In other words, do it yourself, but first get help!

Second, the DIY Success.

Recently we decided to put wood flooring in the main level of our home, and with that “I can do anything!” spirit, we set out to do it ourselves.  Ripping up the carpet was easy.  Taking up the tile was more involved, and when it was done, we found ourselves with an area of the concrete slab with some superficial damage that would need to be repaired in order to ensure the new flooring rested on a smooth and level surface.  What to do?  Hello Google!

Within 10 minutes I was aware of 3 different products that could do the job.  The company that made one of those had also made several step-by-step videos showing how to use their products.  Five minutes later, I had seen what tools were needed, how to prep the surface, and how to accomplish the task.

Fast forward a week and my slab is patched and ready for the wood flooring.  The product was available at the store, looked just like it did in the video, and worked exactly as described and shown.  Success!

LESSON: Expert advice up front made all the difference.  I could have gone to the store and purchased the patching material without that advice, but I would not have been confident about what I was doing.  I could have followed the instructions on the bucket, but it did not provide the same level of detail about surface preparation or tools to use, and it certainly did not show me how to do the job.  The finished job would have been sub-par at best.  The video I watched at the beginning gave me important knowledge as well as the confidence to move ahead and successfully complete the project.  In other words, do it yourself, but first get help!

Technology is enabling the independent DIY’er in all of us more than ever, from booking a beach condo to remodeling your home to managing your investment portfolio.  But it is that expertise and human touch that can make a world of difference.  If you are diving into something new, look for help at the outset.  If you provide services for others, look for opportunities to better provide the help they need up front.  You can do it yourself, but first get help!

Marketing Lessons from Bernie and The Donald

FDR used the radio to speak to a nation with his fireside chats.  John F. Kennedy took advantage of television to display his charm and good looks.  Barack Obama used the Internet to break down communication barriers and be accessible to minority groups and young voters often untouched by political campaigning.  Looking back, these strategies seem like no-brainers.  However, in their time, these approaches were questioned and even criticized.  The lesson – those who learn to embrace the media environment of the time WIN.  The trend continues … as we see both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders innovatively using social media and finding success in the 2016 Presidential Election campaign process.  Political ad spending is to reach an astonishing $11.5 billion.  Spending on social media is estimated to account for more than half of the $1 billion budget for digital media.

So – how does a reality TV star/billionaire businessman and a 74-year old anti-establishment Senator find themselves taking prominent positions in the 2016 race?  Simply put, they both learned how to connect with people … and using social media to do just that is a big part of their strategy.

If you logged onto Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or Instagram, you have probably seen Bernie’s #FeeltheBern campaign slogan.  According to Winnie Wong, digital strategist for the Sanders campaign, the goal was “to find something that would carry his name all across the Internet and be more than just a hashtag.”  Wong describes the Internet as a “way you can express yourself in a very democratic way” and describes the strategy to bring people together to discuss and promote Sanders policies, platform, and 40 years of dedicated service.  Many experts attribute Sanders’ social media success to his authenticity – noting that he often writes his own posts and tweets.  Bernie said of his own posts, “Usually, it’s in the shower where something pops into my head.”  With millions of online followers and over $96 million in campaign donations coming mostly in small amounts less than $200 per donation, his social media connection appears to be working and is in large part responsible for the success of Sander’s “political revolution.”

And what of Donald Trump?  He has millions of followers on Twitter, Facebook, Vine, and Instagram.  He uses Periscope and YouTube. His own personal view is that he “understands social media maybe better than anybody else,” even calling himself “the Ernest Hemingway of 140 characters.”  He often tweets personal things about himself and his family and frequently thanks his supporters.  He participates in gossip and popular culture.  The result – many feel like he is “one of them.”  They believe he is more in-touch with them than other politicians.  Just like Sanders, Trump has found success in connecting with people.

Is there a lesson here for financial institutions?  Can financial institutions build an emotional connection with customers and therefore build a relationship?  Experts say yes – but many believe there may need to be a “rediscovery of social media”.  Many financial institutions rushed to social media without having a well thought-out strategy – or any strategy at all.  The result – many financial institutions have abandoned twitter, Facebook, and other social media venues.  Banks and Credit Unions have always spent considerable time and money on print ad strategies, considering things like demographics, circulations, and costs.  A similar strategic approach must be taken with the digital field …  with care taken to leverage analytics, add elements such as video and social feeds, and give customers mobile options they crave.  It is simply another way to connect with people.  Your strategy and authentic approach can be your game-changer …. Just like it has been for Donald and Bernie.  And remember – those who learn to embrace the media environment of the time WIN.

How Social Are You, Anyway?

Seven Social Media Marketing Tips for Financial Institutions

1. Ignore social media at your peril

Here are some statistics that will either excite you or scare you:

  • There are now more than 2 billion active social media users worldwide and this is growing at an amazing annual pace of 25%
  • Nine out of ten U.S. companies are active on social media
    • Question: Are you one of them?
    • Question: Do you know what you are doing on social media?
    • Question: Are you reaping benefits?
    • Question: Or not?

My advice to you: get excited about the opportunity to engage and market using social media!

2. Customers and prospects

There is not a single demographic that is not active in social media.  Well, maybe babies and toddlers (except have you seen some of those little children glued to their parents’ tables or Smartphones?).

Facebook, the most popular social platform, boasts 72% of all American adults!

And to show the diverse demographics of the users, check this out:

  • 77% of women are users,
  • 82% of adults aged 18-29,
  • 79% of adults aged 30-49,
  • 64% of adults aged 50-64 and
  • An incredible 48% of adults over 65!

This is just a teaser for you. Have a look at some of the other demographics and social media trends.

Now, imagine this:  These people are your customers and your potential customers.

What a wasted opportunity if you are not investing heavily into getting to know them better.

3. Listen

One of the first activities on social media is to monitor what real people – your customers – are saying about you.

4.   Engage

The next, logical thing to do is to engage them in a conversation.  This could be one that they start or one that you start, it doesn’t really matter. The important aspect is to either take the initiative or be responsive (which can only happen if you are listening, in the first place).

5.   Connect

When you engage your customers, you connect with them at a level that is not possible with other types of traditional marketing. By listening, by responding and by having a conversation, you are taking the connection to a new, higher level. And the amazing part of this is that, today, you are able to make this close connection on a truly human-to-human level without ever having to have face-to-face encounter in a physical branch.  It really works!

6.   Stay Connected

The story doesn’t end there. Once you connect, don’t make the mistake about forgetting about that connection.  Figure out how to stay connected.  During the first engagement, you found out something about that individual.  Now, it’s important to use that information in a manner that makes sense – one that is appropriate, relevant and ongoing.  The conversation will evolve and change, but staying connected to your customers through these social media channels should not be an afterthought.  It should be part of your entire marketing strategy.

7.   Repeat

Now that you have the formula, repeat it.  Repeat it with each and every individual customer and contact that you are able to make. And repeat the formula on an ongoing basis with all of your connections. When you think about the sheer marketing opportunity this offers, how can you help but get excited? I know I can’t!

Finally, to help you on this social media marketing journey a number of resources are either available now or being introduced in the market every day.

This is but the tip of the iceberg and the beginning of a long and profitable journey for your financial institution.



Image Credits:

1.     By Ibrahim.ID [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

2.     By Intel Free Press [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Content Credits:

Fast Company – 5 Trends That Will Change How Companies Use Social Media in 2016

Pew Research Center – The Demographics of Social Media Users



5 Steps to Building a Better Organization with CLASS

– Because somebody has to. Show up. Be invested. Clean up after yourself. Clean up after someone else. Don’t settle. Act like it matters because it does (and if it doesn’t, move on to what does).

– The opportunities to improve yourself have never been greater, and the cost to do so has never been lower. Perhaps more importantly, the cost of not doing so is higher than ever. Good enough will not be good enough for long.

– Do something! Learning is worth little without application. Caring is worthless if you keep it to yourself. Give yourself permission to make a difference, then do it.

– Be generous. Teach, mentor, and invite others to do the same. You’ll never get more out of others than when you give of yourself.

Start again
– It is an exhausting process, but it is the most satisfying and sustainable way to build up an organization, a family, a friendship, or even an individual.

H/T Seth (thanks for the daily inspiration)

The Mobile Juggernaut

In Case You Had Any Doubts

Recent business headlines include one that is worth paying attention to:



How quickly things have changed for Facebook! As this write-up mentions, just a couple of years ago, this was a company that was struggling to transition its mobile presence.

Welcome to this pace of technological change – where change has been the fastest that we have ever witnessed.  So far.  Technological change itself is increasing at an astronomical pace. We have no concept yet what will be invented and what will be brand new in a very short time horizon of the future.

The Emergence of Mobile

But back to “mobile” – a word that is fraught with so many meanings and connotations today.  A truly mobile world is not inconceivable anymore. That vision has turned into reality.  It doesn’t matter what the industry is.  If leaders and managers are not thinking “mobile first”, they very well could be last. They could conceivably even be extinct before long. That’s how fast things are happening.

In today’s world, mobile devices outnumber people, and smartphones are spreading like wildfire. So, for any type or size of business, they better be asking themselves these questions – what is the impact of mobile usage to us? And how do we use this incredible adoption rate to our benefit?

Mobile Advertising

Let’s have a look at one avenue for businesses to evaluate, namely mobile advertising and connecting with your customers on their mobile devices.

A little history lesson from not so far back, this picture to the right shows you what used to be known as “mobile advertising”.

Joking aside, advertising expenditures, once driven by TV and print, are being funneled increasingly into our digital and our handhelds. And why not?

After all, mobile web traffic now surpasses that of all desktops globally and as a matter of fact, it did not even take that long to happen.
According to eMarketer, the mobile tipping point will occur this year when mobile ad spending exceeds desktop ad spending for the first time ever.

[You can and should read the full article here: Mobile Will Account for 72% of US Digital Ad Spend by 2019].

Then, when you see the kind of results that a company like Facebook reported, you know that this trend is very real.

Meanwhile, at Banks and Credit Unions

Financial institutions have been going through their own transformative times, just as technology has.  But wait, technology has something to do with this transformation!  Among the trends we are seeing:

  • A continued shift and priority to all things digital
  • More digital = more cybersecurity awareness and measures
  • Acknowledging that a digital omni-channel presence is key to customer connection and retention, and doing something about it
  • Using data analytics, cut and sliced in many ways, in order to personalize customer experiences while increasing customer loyalty, banking income and competitiveness.
  • Mobility!

Since the focus of this write-up is mobile, here’s a great statistic that shows the sheer opportunity available for financial institutions of all sizes to leverage:

 > 42% of all US adults who own a mobile device have never used it for mobile banking. <

[Note that this statistic is dynamic and a fast-moving target; it may very well be out of date soon].

Not only is there a great opportunity for financial institutions to increase penetration of mobile banking with existing customers, but there is significant untapped potential for “native” advertising (like Facebook does) where a financial institution can use personalized and targeted advertising to really connect with customers wherever they are banking – at a branch, online, or mobile when they are on the go.

According to one industry analyst, financial institutions have already seen the peak of spending occur on compliance and regulatory matters. Now, they see a refocus on winning back customers and increasing their business footprint with them by making investments in digital channels, mobile and branch transformation.  So, in case you had any doubts, it’s still not too late to think mobile, think mobility first!

Tell Your Company’s Story!

So what does storytelling have to do with your business? Everything! As a company in this social media age, you have an opportunity to draw devoted customers by rethinking the way you express your company’s core value. If you can’t properly convey a story then your products are not going to appeal to your audience. Research shows with all the advertising messages overwhelming us all that a story can cut through the noise. Your story needs to have a message that is a clear takeaway for your listeners. You want those that are reading the story to become emotionally invested in the story and to leave them longing for more. If you give too many details readers/customers get lost in the details and don’t find the emotional tie to the story.

As a business owner or marketer you need to have many stories in your toolkit. Stories about your leaders and their values. You need stories that bring your vision to life. Stories that pack the most punch are personal ones. Your real value is about what you believe in, what you’re trying to do in the world and how you make others’ lives better. These stories ring true! Use language that speaks from the heart. You can’t engage your customers using industry slang. Also post these stories/video’s on your “About Us” page on your website. This is an ideal place to start telling your story. Stories grab our attention, change minds and attitudes and inspire us. Well told stories make you trustworthy and encourage others to want to collaborate with you. Your delivery may not be perfect but no one is looking for perfection. Your customers are looking to be engaged, inspired and to be entertained. With that being said, what’s your story?


A Beginner’s Look at UX Design

“Everything should be as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
– Albert Einstein

Have you ever tried to use something – anything, a website, an app, an appliance, a service – and found it so complex, so non-intuitive, or so utterly frustrating that you finally gave up? Similarly, have you ever tried to use something so presumably easy but over-simplified to the point that you could not figure out how to make it do what you wanted that it created the same frustration and, again, you gave up? Poor user experience (UX) design is likely to blame. Comedian Brian Regan illustrates this perfectly:

Conversely, think of the last time you used an app or a service that you really enjoyed, or that simply worked the way you expected the very first time. Think about your favorite restaurant, your favorite store, or your favorite app. What is it that you love about them? What makes them your favorites? Chances are, a lot of that has to do with the positive, easy-to-use, hassle-free, and/or delightful experiences associated with each. In other words, good UX design made a difference.

The term “UX” is everywhere these days. So what exactly is UX design, and why should you care? Well let’s begin with what UX is not.

  1. UX is not new. UX as a field or a career by itself may be somewhat new, but a lot of the principles and practices associated with it have been around for decades.
  2. UX is not UI. This is a common misperception. User Interface (UI) design is an important part of UX design, but it is only part and a small one.
  3. UX is not research and interviews. Certainly those are key to effective UX, but as with UI, they are only part of the UX design process.
  4. UX is not statistics or strategy, interaction design or information architecture, copywriting or creating personas. See where I’m going?
  5. UX is none of those things…alone.
  6. UX is not complicated, though it can be complex.
  7. UX is not easy to do well (but nothing worthwhile ever is).
  8. The great news is, UX is not difficult to learn, and there are a plethora of resources available (I’ve listed many below).

Now let’s focus for a moment on what UX is. In the “UX is not UI” article referenced above, Erik Flowers defines UX design as “the intangible design of a strategy that brings us to a solution.” UX design is the umbrella that pulls all of those other elements together into a final solution that provides the best experience possible for the end user.

In his book The Elements of User Experience, UX design expert Jesse James Garret defined user experience as “the experience the product creates for the people that use it in the real world.” He goes on to then define “user-centered design” as “the practice of creating engaging, efficient user experiences […by taking…] the user into account every step of the way as you develop your product.”

UX design is about caring. It involves strategy and structure, research and personas, mockups and prototyping, visual design and testing, and more all with the same focus: caring about your end users enough to make the experience of using your product or service effective, engaging, and delightful. It is powerful and a differentiator that can set your brand apart. In other words, it makes everything for your user as wonderful and as simple as possible, but not simpler.

Want to learn more about UX design? Here are a few places to start: