National Get to Know Your Customers Day

In light of today’s national “get to know your customers” day, we’re featuring an article from woocommerce.com author Maria Scarpello, “a classically-trained designer who is passionate about the customer experience, and strives to deepen research practices among designers.” Find her on Twitter at @msdesign21.

“At WordCamp US 2016, Matt Mullenweg’s State of the Word outlined a vision for WordPress being design-led. Since then, WooCommerce has doubled down on our efforts to follow suit.

From growing our one-person design team to five (and still hiring!) to talking more to our customers — hearing what’s most important to them, and how eCommerce fits into their lives – we’re just getting started on our journey to make this transition, and we’re learning a lot!

Our hope is that you can take some of the lessons we’re learning and apply them to your business, no matter how big or small.

It’s never too soon or too late to start talking to your customers, understanding who they are, and how they made their way to you today.

  1. Understanding and mapping a customer journey

One key component of the design process is understanding your customer’s experience, often referred to as mapping a customer journey.

This involves examining a customer’s path from the first moment they interact with your brand to the endpoint of that task. For example, purchasing a product, completing a course, or booking a reservation.

These touch points can then be mapped to understand the overall picture.

To understand and apply this to your business, ask yourself:

  • What tasks am I wanting them to complete?
  • Why would someone need or want to complete this task?
  • How easy is it for them to complete the task?
  • What are the blockers?

From here, write out steps for each task.

We use the diagram below to help map each step, ensuring we consider what customers may be thinking and feeling alongside external factors that could interfere.

For example, if there are limitations with their device, connectivity, or environment that prevent them from easily completing a task and leave them feeling confused or frustrated, we note that.

Once every touch point is mapped, you can then vote on which are the most important areas to focus research.

When thinking about tasks, it’s important to consider what stage your customers are in via interactions with your brand and products.

Each stage has its own sets of needs and states of mind. For WooCommerce, we apply the Six Universal Experiences from IBM, which breaks down the customer journey into six distinct phases:

  • Discover, Try, and Buy
  • Getting Started
  • Everyday Use
  • Manage and Upgrade
  • Leverage and Extend
  • Get Support
  1. Talking to customers: smart listening and uncovering insights

One way to examine each of six phases is to talk to customers while they are in each stage. What initially brought them to you? Why did they want get started? How do they use your product or service? What happens next?

When talking to customers, it’s critical to ask the right questions. Rather than having them to talk about what they want, ask customers why they do what they do. Have them show you how they use your product or website, then observe how they go about it. Listen to what they say, but also take notes on what they do.

“To design the best user experience, pay attention to what users do, not what they say. Self-reported claims are unreliable, as are user speculations about future behavior. Users do not know what they want.” — Jakob Nielsen

For example, asking our customers what they think of a new WooCommerce feature that we have yet to develop would produce the wrong insights: they’d only be able to speculate on what they think we mean or want to hear. A better approach would be to observe customers complete a related task for the new feature, such as adding a new product.

By observing and talking with customers, we may discover that more control over customizing the product page could be useful because they want to be able to cross-sell a few related items but the theme layout isn’t what they wanted. Asking them what they want would not produce the same result.

As Erika Hall, author of Just Enough Research and co-founder of Mule Design suggests:

“Good research is about asking more and better questions, and thinking critically about the answers. It’s something every member of your team can and should do, and which everyone can learn, quickly. And, done well, it will save you time and money by reducing unknowns and creating a solid foundation to build the right thing, in the most effective way.” — Erika Hall

Erika is an advocate of good research and knows what it takes to uncover insights that can influence how customers use the products you’re creating.

“To make the best use of your time and truly do just enough research, try to identify your highest-priority questions—your assumptions that carry the biggest risk.” —Erika Hall

  1. Laying down assumptions, building empathy and cultivating curiosity

Anything you think you know about your customers should be considered an assumption that needs to be validated, when diving into research. Build your hypothesis and start exploring. For example, if you were to outline high priority questions for your eCommerce website, you might ask:

  • Can my customers easily make it through checkout?
  • What’s blocking them from making a purchase?
  • What information are they looking for?
  • Can they find the information they need to help make the decision to purchase?

From here it’s a matter of finding customers to talk with, setting a time to meet, and planning for your session. Ideally this can be done in person, but that shouldn’t stop you from talking to your customers in other ways.

There are many tools we use for remote user research. If you’re interested in learning more about various research methods and best practices, Usability.gov is an excellent resource.

In addition to Erika Hall’s Just Enough Research, Steve Portigal’s book, Interviewing Users: How to Uncover Compelling Insights goes in depth on interviewing techniques, tools, and how to analyze results. Both books can be purchased via Rosenfeld Media, which we’re proud to say is powered by WooCommerce!

In conclusion, know thy customers!

Learning more about customers and how your product or service fits (or doesn’t) into their everyday life allows you to relate to who they are on a more personal level.

Building empathy for your customers is key to helping ensure your offering is as useful, desirable, and accessible as possible. It’s important to take time to understand the needs and expectations of your customers as it’s been proven time and time again:

“Across sectors, satisfied customers spend more, exhibit deeper loyalty to companies, and create conditions that allow companies to have lower costs and higher levels of employee engagement.” —The CEO Guide to Customer Experience McKinsey Quarterly, August 2016″

 

Free Resources for Businesses

When you start a business, the path that awaits isn’t always a straight shot. The good news is there are a plethora of resources both locally and at the state level that can help guide you along the path that is best for your business.  Many resources are free to you, well you pay for them in your taxes so I guess they are prepaid. Below are a few resources to help you get where you’re going.

The City of Dallas can assist business owners in finding business resources, locating available properties, understanding local government permitting and approval timeframes & understanding current Dallas demographic and economic trends.

Chemeketa Small Business Development Center (SBDC) gives small business owners the tools and environment they need to make great decisions they offer classes, small business advising, and resource materials on loan.

Small Business Administration (SBA) is committed to helping small business in the US succeed. As such, several programs and laws have been sponsored that directly affect small business owners. Here, you can learn more about how legislation such as the Small Business Jobs Act and SBA initiatives such as Emerging 200 program can help you and your business succeed.

Micro-Enterprise Resources Initiatives & Training (MERIT) asks the question. “Have a business idea, but don’t know where to start?”  If you’ve been thinking about starting a business and you’re not sure your idea will make you money, they can help. They can guide you toward the information resources that will help you make a great decision.

Go to our weblink for more details and links to each of these resources.

https://dallasoregon.org/business-toolkit/

Member Highlight – Yolanda Zuger Keller Williams Cornerstone Team

Yolanda and her family have lived in Polk County since 1966. She currently lives on the farm where she grew up, along with her husband Craig and a variety of critters. She has made the Central Willamette Valley a base for her business because of her familiarity with the area and the beauty of this part of the Valley. In the Valley, we are located within an hour of the amazing Oregon Coast, the Oregon Cascade Mountains and downtown Portland.  Yet, the local community of Dallas has a population of just over 15,000. She says, “I can’t think of a better place to live!”

Yolanda is a member of the Polk County Association of Realtors and has held the posts of Executive Officer, President and Director. She was chosen as their Realtor of the Year in 2001 and 2012. She has been a full time licensed Realtor since 1998, and received her “Graduate of the Real Estate Institute” designation in 1999, her “Council of Residential Specialists” in 2003, and her “Accredited Buyer’s Representative” in 2008. She passed her Principal Broker’s License test in 2019. She is also a graduate of the Oregon & Washington Association of Realtors “Leadership Northwest” program. Yolanda is committed to continuing education and the use of technology in her business so that she may be of the highest value to her clients.

With that in mind, she moved her Real Estate License in 2018, to Keller Williams-the largest real estate company in the United States. She is part of the Capital City Branch (Salem) with an office in Dallas, Oregon. Keller Williams’ focus on technology and training has resulted in the best of the best when it comes to agents; she expresses that she is proud to join their ranks, expressing, “I am a graduate of their 7 week BOLD program, which teaches Business Objectives and a Life by Design. The program taught how to respond to changing markets and the best avenues for getting properties sold and further confirmed my belief that buying and selling real estate really is all about you.”

We asked about her mission statement and she shared the following”

“My philosophy is simple: clients come first. I pledge to be in constant communication with my clients, keeping you fully informed throughout the entire buying or selling process. I believe that if you’re not left with an amazing experience, I haven’t done my job. I don’t measure success through achievements or awards, but through the satisfaction of my clients.”

Thanks, Yolanda, for providing excellent service to your clients here in the Dallas Area and beyond.

Look At People As People

Our chamber hosts a monthly business education luncheon. This last month brought the owner of Salem company, Bob Dalton of Sackcloth & Ashes, who talked about using Instagram for business growth. He made some excellent points about the value of Instagram as well as some great tips on using it to its fullest potential.

However, what he closed with was potentially the most impactful thing he said. I asked him to give us some parting words of wisdom. What he shared with us had little to do with social media. He said the greatest piece of advice he could give is to begin viewing people as people as people. We must consider their identity, not their role in the community or the struggles they have or even their best qualities, we must consider them as a fellow person.

It may seem like semantics to say, a person who is homeless verses a homeless person. Or, owner of “business X” verses Lisa. Or drug addict versus person with a drug addiction.  Or, Republican verses Joe. But in reality, when we can think of people for who they are, we place a value on them. A positive value. When people have value in others’ eyes aren’t they more likely to respond well when disagreed with? In my experience, they are.

It may sound like I’m trying to portray a “Pollyanna” sort of reality where everyone thinks positive and the world is better. That’s not realism. But we can be real and kind. Next time you’re tempted to sling mud at a person because they differ from you, think of them as a person like you are a person. No better, no worse. Maybe, just maybe, we can take Bob’s second final word of wisdom and “start to focus on promoting solutions rather than just opposing problems.”

Best Social Media Marketing Tips

Ready to get started with marketing on social media? Here are a few social media marketing tips to kick off your social media campaigns.

  • Social Media Content Planning — Building a social media marketing plan is essential. Consider keyword research and competitive research to help brainstorm content ideas that will interest your target audience. What are other businesses in your industry doing to drive engagement on social media?
  • Great Social Content —Make sure you post regularly and offer truly valuable information that your ideal customers will find helpful and interesting. The content that you share on your social networks can include social media images, videos, info-graphics, how-to guides and more.
  • A Consistent Brand Image— Using social media for marketing enables your business to project your brand image across a variety of different social media platforms. While each platform has its own unique environment and voice, your business’ core identity, whether it’s friendly, fun, or trustworthy, should stay consistent.
  • Social Media for Content Promotion — Social media marketing is a perfect channel for sharing your best site and blog content with readers. Once you build a loyal following on social media, you’ll be able to post all your new content and make sure your readers can find new stuff right away. Plus, great blog content will help you build more followers.
  • Sharing Curated Links — While using social media for marketing is a great way to leverage your own unique, original content to gain followers, fans, and devotees, it’s also an opportunity to link to outside articles as well. If other sources provide great, valuable information you think your target audience will enjoy, don’t be shy about linking to them. Curating and linking to outside sources improves trust and reliability, and you may even get some links in return.
  • Tracking Competitors — It’s always important to keep an eye on competitors—they can provide valuable data for keyword research and other social media marketing insight. If your competitors are using a certain social media marketing channel or technique that seems to be working for them, considering doing the same thing, but do it better!
  • Measuring Success with Analytics — You can’t determine the success of your social media marketing strategies without tracking data. Google Analytics can be used as a great social media marketing tool that will help you measure your most triumphant social media marketing techniques, as well as determine which strategies are better off abandoned. Attach tracking tags to your social media marketing campaigns so that you can properly monitor them. And be sure to use the analytics within each social platform for even more insight into which of your social content is performing best with your audience.
  • Social Media Crisis Management— Things don’t always go swimmingly for brands on social media. It’s best to have a playbook in place so your employees know how to handle a snafu.

Don’t Be Vague

“I want to go back to school … maybe do something in the business world.”

Networking isn’t like the movies. Nobody is going to listen to some important-sounding core values and sea stories you tell, then immediately offer you an awesome job. Good contacts will want to know what you can offer, specifically. Specific skills, experiences and characteristics. What’s bad: “I want to go back to school. Something in business.” This is vague and could mean anything. What’s better: “I strongly believe in good products, which means good quality control. I did that in the military, and I’d like to do that in the civilian world. I’d also like to go to school to learn quality systems.”

The reason why that second phrase is better is that it initiates conversation. Whoever hears it can ask you about your work in the military, your thoughts on certain jobs in the civilian world and what schools you want to attend. Also, it invites the listener’s opinions on what you’ve talked about. It starts a conversation. And it doesn’t have to be your life’s dream, just pick something that interests you, research it enough to be specific and bring it to the networking event. Maybe you’ll find out it is your dream; maybe you’ll learn about something that becomes your dream later on.

Dallas Area Visitor Center

Introducing the 2019/20 Dallas Area Chamber of Commerce Directory and Visitors Guide!

This publication is full of resources for residents, visitors and businesses alike. This directory will be distributed locally, regionally and nationally. Our national and regional focus is on chambers of commerce, visitors centers, hotels, information centers and transit stations and airports.

 

Locally, we will put several copies in our area doctor and dentist offices, restaurants, hotels, retail businesses and local attractions.

We will be delivering throughout the next couple weeks. If you’d like yours right away, please feel free to swing by the office and pick up a stack!

See you soon!

Networking & Education

Networking is one of the most significant skills that you could learn in order to make your business a success story. The majority of business owners believe that they can just start a business, and the clients will come. Any successful business owner will immediately tell you this is not the case.

Building a successful business takes a lot of time and dedication, so it is sensible to have a network of business partners and associates to draw energy from and keep you motivated. By surrounding yourself with people who share a similar passion and determination, you are more likely to move forward and achieve results. Business networking is a really valuable way to expand your knowledge, learn from the success of others, get new clients and tell others about your business.

Industries are constantly changing. Continuing education is required for workers, and owners to stay current with the latest developments, skills, and new technologies that affect their businesses and their clients. Overall, your image will increase, as will your marketability, if you pursue continuing education.

The Dallas Area Chamber of Commerce provides networking and education opportunities:

  • Wake Up Wednesday Morning Networking.
  • Young Professional’s Evening Networking.
  • Willamette Valley Greeters Networking.
  • Monthly Speaker Series Luncheon.
  • Mid-Willamette Valley Leaderships Summit.
  • Chamber 101.
  • Chamber Chatter e-newsletter.

Business Promotion

Why is promotion important for a business? Business promoting is an active process which needs to be very closely scrutinized for obtaining the best results. You can utilize the manpower that you have to the fullest and come up with strategies to promote your business and let it flourish.

Promotional strategies and marketing go hand in hand. Marketing your brand or product will include different aspects of manufacturing, promoting, and selling products to the customers. Promotion is a key element in putting across the benefits of your product or service to the customers. Well-designed marketing and promotional strategies ensure long-term success, bring in more customers and ensure profitability for the business.

Promotion is the voice of your company which sends out your brand’s message loud and clear to the audience. Various media platforms can be used to promote your company and brand. They include television, radio, shopping outlets, billboards, magazines, and social media.

The Dallas Area Chamber of Commerce promotes its members by:

  • Providing complimentary listing in the Dallas Directory.
  • Newsletter and Social Media articles about Chamber Members.
  • Online listing for your business.
  • Business referrals are reserved strictly for Chamber Members.
  • Low cost advertising opportunities.
  • Promotional materials displayed in office.
  • Dallas LIVE! Advertising for Chamber members only.

5 Ways to Empower Your Customers to Be Your Biggest Marketers

  1. Boost Offline Word-Of-Mouth

Customers are never passionate about you, they’re passionate about what your product offers them. That’s why companies need to reach out to people that do magnificent things with their product and help show them off. Don’t use influencers (or influencer marketing) alone to put the spotlight on your product, use existing customers who are already die-hard fans of your product and shine the spotlight on them.

  1. Build Die-Hard Brand Advocates

Social media has made it pretty easy to build brand advocates for any company. With people constantly sharing their experience on social media, it’s up to you to chime in with help and get them excited about your brand.

Companies that reach out to customers with helpful information score high social points and successfully nurture brand advocacy. Real-time help can turn a negative situation into a winning customer experience and help develop a strong connection with customers. It’s the next step in making your customers become active advocates.

  1. Encourage Customers to Give Testimonials

No one enjoys reading web pages that are boring and full of dry statistics. Try using testimonials to revive them! They are a great sales technique if you don’t push it too much. Inevitably, your website contains some sales material without going overboard.

The right testimonial gains trust of customers and creates credibility with prospects. Clearly show your website visitors that other people dealt with the same issues and were able to overcome them by using your product. This way you can show your visitors that your ultimate goal is to help them.

  1. Dedicate a Page on Your Websites to Use Cases

A dedicated use cases page puts your customer on the spot to tell a story from their own perspective from customer acquisition, to purchase, and on to engagement. Just like you do offline, you’ll want to represent your business online in the best possible light. Let your customers do that for you.

A dedicated use cases page is a way of extending the brand you’ve worked so hard to create. Your website use cases page is an extension of that branding project in order to make it a seamless whole and not just an add-on feature.

  1. Ask for a Much-Wanted Review

Focus not only on your own website but widen your scope and concentrate on external online resources. Reading a positive review from an existing customer can only bolster confidence for a right purchase.

There’s no amount of advertising, tweeting, or direct mailing that has quite the same impact on customers the way an objective peer review does. What you say about your brand doesn’t matter. It’s what others say that counts!

It’s important to remember that soliciting reviews from customers should be handled with delicacy. The biggest challenge is actually getting them, and not dealing with negative ones. It’s definitely not abnormal to think it will turn off customers. So, make sure you make the reviewing process as easy as possible, or offer a small yet appropriate incentive (like a 10% discount or similar offer).

In summary, think about how you further want to leverage your customer relationships. Nothing sells your business more than great marketing for your customers themselves. Any kind of review from a brand advocate influences approximately 90% of a prospect’s buying decision. So, make sure it’s a positive one!