Customer Relationship Marketing
Ernan Roman Direct Marketing guarantees double-digit response rates using consensual opt-in customer relationship marketing solutions, customer relationship management and creating integrated marketing solutions
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Issue No. 20   SUBSCRIBE » CONTACT US »
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  INSIGHTS FROM ERNAN
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Greetings,

Customer service has been on my mind given many recent experiences with customer dis-service.

We are pleased that DM News just published my Op-Ed piece titled, “Take Steps to Mend Telemarketing”. My key point is that the quality of the Customer Service Call Center experience has not improved significantly over the past 30 years.

The reason: Marketers consistently forget that the telephone is first and foremost about people-to-people interactions!

The wrong answer is to spend even more on call center technology! The solution is to invest more in your people. Spend more on training, scripting, call quality assurance procedures and analysis of why people were not satisfied. These actions will change the customer experience.

This month’s case study is very special. We are highlighting Palms Trading Company, which is a 75 year old American Indian Trading Post.

They have leveraged proactive customer service and opt-in driven marketing to grow bottom line sales 10% every year over the past 3 years in a very competitive industry.

With best wishes,

Ernan

To read previous newsletters, click here.

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Increasing Sales 10% Through Proactive
Customer Service

I. Background

Guy BergerAccording to Guy Berger, the owner of Palms Trading, “My relatives settled in New Mexico in the 1800s, thanks to the Homestead Act. Our challenge today is to maintain our legacy as a small American Indian Trading Post, yet appeal to a new generation of buyers and collectors who need to be educated and engaged, yet have limited time and patience.

“The goal is to get them into a relationship with Palms so they self-profile their interests regarding pottery, jewelry and rugs and indicate how they want to do business, i.e., any combination of retail, phone or the web. Additionally, we want to maintain our relationships with the multiple generations of consumer buyers, collectors and Native American artists from whom we buy art."

“Ernan helped us implement 21st century marketing practices in ways that worked for our 75 year old business.”

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II. Strategies

Palms conducted Voice of Customer Research in their store and learned that knowledgeable, caring, honest customer service was an important competitive differentiator. This applied to face-to-face and telephone interactions.

As a result, Palms created the “Personal Shopper” customer service program.

According to Guy, “We created the ‘Personal Shopper’ program for our retail and long distance customers to make them feel comfortable and enrich their ‘Palms Experience.’ ‘Personal Shopper’ is our proactive customer service program which educates customers, probes to identify their interests and enables us to search for their special items in the store, on the web or in the Indian Pueblos. Upon finding their item, they are immediately contacted by their Personal Shopper. Our goal is to give our clients the most complete, informative and pleasant experience we can. This is the difference between our Personal Shoppers and mere ‘customer service’ reps.”

Question for our readers: Are your Customer Service Reps this proactive? What can you do to help them provide this level of proactive service?



In addition, it was critical to build an opt-in database. The opt-in program consists of various channels:
  • In-store Personal Shopper Opt-in Form, which Personal Shoppers were trained to ask each customer to complete.
  • An electronic form on the Palms website which includes the Personal Shopper Opt-in form.
  • Prospects and customers could also opt-in to receive the “Indian Art Update” e-newsletter and could also request Updates regarding new inventory by email or Personal Shopper calls.
The FoundersAccording to Guy, “’Personal Shopper’ is not just a term we use. This service is incorporated into all of our communications and personnel training. Our Personal Shoppers are continually re-trained regarding how to provide our clients with value-added information. Our staff is taught how to find pertinent information on artists, their work, and specific lineage. Items that are not currently in stock, unusual requests and hard-to-find pieces are also a specialty of the Personal Shopper. Our goal is personalized and informative inbound and outbound customer service which benefits both our customer and Palms. This is a clear and easily distinguishable difference between a “customer service rep” and our Personal Shoppers.”

Another element of the media mix includes print brochures to reach tourists. Brochures are placed in hotel racks, tourist information centers and made available to interior decorators, trade shows and convention visitors. In addition to store visits and sales, this also increases web visits.

The web strategy (www.palmstrading.com) has several goals:
  • Provide rich information that puts the art objects in context; from artist biographies to lists of dates and time for Native American feast days and dances.
  • Keep a large amount of inventory on display and update it frequently, since these are hand-made, limited availability items.
  • Guarantee that the merchandise we sell is authentic.
  • Continue to upgrade the site to improve ease of use and navigation.
  • Make sure the site is safe and secure for our users by displaying our “security lock” icon which is backed up by our security certification. This is especially important given the rampant fraud in this industry.

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III. Results

Original goals had been to grow bottom line sales 5% year to year.

Actual results over the past three years: an increase of 10% bottom line sales every year.

The opt-in database has grown 470% over original projections.

Expense to revenue has been 6%.

According to Guy, “I credit the increase in sales to the power of the ‘Personal Shopper’ program which pushed us to be proactive in caring for and servicing prospects and customers through all of our channels.”

Pottery

Click here for additional customer relationship management solutions case studies.

We wish you the best of luck in using the Voice-of-Customer-driven 3-Step Marketing Process to achieve double-digit response.

    To read previous newsletters, click here.
    For additional case studies, click here.

     
Ernan Roman Direct Marketing | 3 Melrose Lane | Douglas Manor, NY 11363 | Phone: 718.225.4151 | Fax: 718.225.4889
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