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.

Member Spotlight – MAK Grills

MAK Grills is a family and veteran owned, US-based company rooted in over 25 years of metalworking and fabrication experience. An acronym for Matt, Alex & Kal, MAK Grills got its start from our desire to create a pellet grill that measured up to our high quality standards. We wanted to create a pellet grill company that truly put quality and customer service squarely where they should be, at the core of who we are.

Upon discovering pellet grilling, we instantly loved the idea of precision-control and genuine smoke flavor, but we had long been disappointed by models that kept falling short of what we knew a pellet grill could be. At MAK, our grills have been designed without cutting any corners to be nothing short but best-in-class, reaching the peak balance of temperature control and real smoke flavor.

We are often asked, “Why do your units cost more than most of your competitors?” The simple answer is, their units are built overseas and have a fraction of the features found on MAK Grills.

The saying, “You get what you pay for” has never been truer than right now. In a world filled with disposable products, MAK Grills stands out as a manufacturer that cares about building long-lasting products that customers can enjoy for many years. Many of our grill components are made of stainless steel, so they won’t rust, and will last for years to come. We design our grills to exceed your expectations for a quality product.

https://makgrills.com/

Red, White, BOOM! Happy Independence Day!

Independence Day 2018, also known as Fourth of July, is a federal holiday observed yearly on July fourth. It is the anniversary of the publication of the declaration of independence of the United States of America from Great Britain in 1776.

Dallas will once again be celebrating the Fourth of July in a big way; Red, White, BOOM! We invite you to join us Wednesday for a spectacular day and evening for family fun as we recognize our service men and women with a beer garden, vendors, non-profit hosted games, field games, live band, a DJ, food trucks, and of course the first-rate fireworks show at dusk. The celebration will continue on July 6th with the sanctioned BBQ Competition Smoke of the Dragon!

All activities will be held at the Roger Jordan Community Park. Dallas Fire and EMS Department will light off the show from LaCreole Middle School. Citizens are encouraged to grab their chairs, blankets and family for the celebration. Come down early to pick your spot!

If you are headed to Keizer to celebrate this Fourth of July be sure to pick up your ticket to the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes 12th Annual Patriotic Tribute baseball game. With his family in attendance, the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes will Thank, Honor, and Salute the “Ultimate Sacrifice” of Fallen Marine, Sergeant Ian Tawney of Dallas.  This annual salute to fallen heroes will honor one of our own local heroes.  Tickets may be close to sold out but check for yourself by clicking here.

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.”

Dallas School District #2

Dallas School District serves a large geographic area of nearly 250 square miles. The students enrolled in the school system represent nearly half of all students served by Polk County schools. A staff of 169 licensed and 152 classified people work in six schools and one administrative building. The District also sponsors Luckiamute Valley Charter School (formerly Pedee School and Bridgeport Elementary)

They believe the school is one of the major institutions through which our cultural, political and social heritage is transmitted from generation to generation and the means by which the members of our society are prepared intellectually to evaluate and control cultural, political and social changes.

The primary purpose of Dallas School District is to provide opportunities for the full intellectual development of each child. The child has the responsibility to himself and society to purposely pursue the educational opportunities provided him. Dallas School District has a shared responsibility with parents and with other institutions and agencies for the social, physical, and emotional growth and development of the individual child.

It is an obligation to our children, community and country to institute those programs necessary to fulfill the education needs of our children and to provide the facilities, materials, technology, and staff required to do so.

Dallas School District is working hard to shape the future.

https://www.dallas.k12.or.us/

Polk Itemizer Observer

If you live in Dallas you are familiar with our trusted news source, Itemizer-Observer. They have been serving Polk County since 1875 and the Dallas Chamber is proud to have them as a Cornerstone Member. We work hard to bring our community great events and the sponsorship and advertisement from the Itemizer-Observer greatly support our efforts. Their support of our community during their time here in Dallas cannot be missed.

Polk Itemizer Observer actively covers sports, events, and works hard to highlight what’s going on in Dallas and give its citizens a voice.

Emily Mentzer, editor at the Itemizer-Observer had this to say, “We have a renewed focus on serving our readers and our local businesses. We have a lot to offer both in print and online, and we’re taking full advantage of it to keep readers informed and help businesses get their message out.” Don’t just take our word for it, Dallas Residents have this to say about Polk Itemizer Observer: “A great way to stay informed on the happenings in and around Polk County!”

“This is a great small town newspaper. They do a really good job of staying local and reporting on the important things in the community. My kids have been featured many times with sports and different school activities. I’m very glad to have this paper in our small town. Thank you!”

  • Matthew H

https://www.polkio.com/

Columbia Bank

Wherever you are headed, Columbia Bank has the people and resources to help get you there. It starts with “Hello.” They never forget a name of a face. Real human beings answer their phones. Their commitment to providing all the services required to help the build strong Northwest communities is firmly rooted in their DNA.

Growth is vital to remaining a preferred option for customers. It advances the services and expertise they provide on their customers’ behalf. Columbia Bank has grown both organically and through acquisition, in cases where they recognized the benefits of a strong fiscal and cultural fit. In the process, they have leveraged their community-minded, locally committed way of doing business from a single branch to a 150+ branch regional footprint throughout Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.

They demonstrate this commitment through their comprehensive approach to community engagement, empowering employees to address the unique needs of their communities through four distinct pillars: fundraising, employee giving, volunteerism, and company giving. Providing support through these employee-driven pillars allows them to have the greatest impact in the communities they serve. Because of these efforts, they are deeply woven into the fabric of our communities.

People truly do make all of the difference.

https://www.columbiabank.com/

The Outward Mindset

An outward mindset will greatly impact how we negotiate our world and the impact we will have. An outward mindset helps us to see the world as it is and not how we imagine it to be. An outward mindset doesn’t come naturally though. We have to consciously change how we think about the world and about others.

In The Outward Mindset, the Arbinger Institute reports that “the biggest lever for change is not a change in self-belief but a fundamental change in the way one sees and regards one’s connections with and obligations to others.”

Moving from an inward mindset to an outward mindset is more than a surface adjustment or behavioral change alone. It requires a change in how we see and think about others. How we see and respond to others is not so much about them as it is a reflection of what is going on inside of us. We often fixate on other’s shortcomings so we don’t have to deal with our own.

Arbinger has discovered that those who consistently work with an outward mindset follow a pattern. They:

· See the needs, objectives, and challenges of others (Create opportunities for people to see each other so they can begin to talk.)

· Adjust their efforts to be more helpful to others (“Real helpfulness can’t be made into a formula. To be outward doesn’t mean that people should adopt this or that prescribed behavior. Rather, it means that when people see the needs, challenges, desire, and humanity of others, the most effective ways to adjust their efforts occur to them in the moment. When they see others as people, they respond in human and helpful ways.”)

· Measure and hold themselves accountable for the impact of their work on others (“Measuring one’s impact requires nothing but a willingness to stay in regular conversations with others about whether they feel one’s efforts are helping them or not.”)

An outward-mindset begins with you. “While the goal in shifting mindsets is to get everyone turned toward each other, accomplishing this goal is possible only if people are prepared to turn their mindsets toward others with no expectation that others will change their mindsets in return. This capability—to change the way I see and work with others regardless of whether they change—overcomes the biggest impediment to mindset change: the natural, inward-mindset inclination to wait for others to change before doing anything different oneself.” This of course, is true leadership.

The chamber office is carrying this book. Stop by and purchase your copy today to learn how you and your organization can benefit from building an “outward mindset”.