Wednesday, 12 October 2011

ISO27001? - Let the force be with you … (not against you)

Data security reminds me of global warming; it is an ever encroaching force in which we seem powerless to resist. Our thirst for data, its collection, availability and the sheer number of ways in which it can be accessed is mesmerising. So much so that the number of regulations acting in equal and opposite force has left communication companies like us facing the twin gauntlets of the law and those of whom we hold information.

Well, don’t you know it; there is a way in which you can live with the force, which admittedly comes with some pain – but hey no pain no gain! –and that is ISO27001 Information Security Standard. I know what you are thinking, I can hear the yawns already – another tiresome quality accreditation, hard to obtain, impossible to police and despised by the staff that have to pay attention to it.

Well, partly true, but with some (not inconsiderable) focussed effort, the sunny uplands of ISO27001 can be quite uplifting. And before being cast in the role ‘anorak’, this bit of regulation train spotting will make a profound difference to how your company is perceived by its clients and prospects, whilst being the catharsis of data management if handled with the right attitude.

Comfortingly it did prove that our systems were in pretty good nick before accreditation. So now we proudly fly our ISO flag, confident that it helps to open doors to new contracts, makes our existing clients very happy and secure and wouldn’t you know it – it has actually helped our sceptical workforce by reducing their paperwork and misunderstandings about the ‘monster’ data security; and by making sense of and seeing the benefits of the apparently incomprehensible.

Monday, 10 October 2011


I recently read an article on social media which suggested that consumers contacting brands through Facebook and Twitter had a much higher expectation of fast response times than consumers using other more traditional channels.

This brings about the question of how Brands should respond to this growing trend of ‘social is instant’ and ‘instant is best’.

Surely a consumer is entitled to a great ‘customer experience’ regardless of the channel or channels they choose to communicate via?

Of course it is essential that Brands adopt and respond to new media, and the growing number of consumers using these channels to seek information, contact a brand or comment on products – but the real question is how?

Throwing resources at the challenge is very often the first response but Social Media and the opportunities it provides should be integrated into the core Customer Management, CRM or communications Strategy.

Responding to tweets in a matter of seconds, while a backlog of emails builds up in the website inbox or customers listen to ‘greensleeves’ for two minutes before someone answers the phone is simply not acceptable.

Why not strive to provide an excellent customer experience across all channels at all times?

And, what about customer value? – Surely if you knew a high value customer was waiting for an email response while you deal with a low value prospect, you’d get on the case – and quickly.

The point is that measuring customer value and integrating channels for communication shouldn’t be a ‘nice to have’ – it should be fundamental to the investment in the future of your Brand.

Good consistent customer service delivered across all channels is within reach but needs to be a priority if Brands are to realise the vast opportunity as communications and consumer response expectations evolve.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Customers are revolting!

Isn’t it sad – in a recent survey of consumers in London and the Southeast, top of the list of ‘things that irritate them’ was...

Overseas Call Centres! – and, even Health and Safety overkill came in at number 5 . . .

This brings about a bigger question though, which is: what is it about Overseas Call Centres that really irritates people? – Most probably, it isn’t actually anything to do with location.

When you think about the original key driver for off-shoring these critical services in the first place – in virtually all cases it was to save money – not improve the customer experience, sharpen up the knowledge base, give customers better value or to make it easier for customers to access services. The bottom line, financial benefits far outweighed any real concern over the customer reaction or long term effects on the Brand.

But of course over time, the inevitable u-turn has taken place – big Brands (many of which pioneered the mass exodus from UK based suppliers in the first place) are returning to UK Call Centres and prioritising this return in terms Brand differentiation.

Regardless of where a call centre, customer service desk, helpline etc. is based, it needs to be geared around providing the very best customer experience possible and this should be viewed as an investment, not a cost.

Fill your desks (preferably in the UK) with bright, professional, enthusiastic and well trained people; encourage them to build their knowledge; give them fast access to key information so that the advice and guidance they give the customer is accurate and consistent and get them to LISTEN to what the customer wants – then perhaps we can move Call Centres down the list of irritations or rather leave the list altogether!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

B2B Marketing Fundamentals – Your Website & Data

From my previous post on B2B marketing fundamentals you should now have a clear idea of who you are, what your offer is (your business identity) and who you are offering it to (your target audience). This post will study the second element in our B2B Fundamentals blog series, highlighting the importance of using websites and data in successful B2B marketing.

Make sure your website is earning its keep

You should be asking yourself if your website is effective at promoting your brand, products and services. You should also be questioning whether it is an effective generator of enquiries or leads and finally, if it is visible online and whether it is geared up to receive any campaign specific traffic you may expect to receive.

If not, why not? Start thinking about how you can make your website more effective, not just in terms of the way it is laid out and navigated but also the message it provides visitors through content. If it is ineffective at generating leads look at the way it entices visitors to make contact or enquire and perhaps even test page elements to find where your website could be working harder (or smarter) for you. If it is not visible online, consider online marketing strategies, focussed towards your target audience with relevant keywords that will drive traffic to the website.

Track who visits your website

The value of understanding who and how people use your website should rarely be underestimated. Analytics software can help you to understand how effective your website is and will tell you how people arrive at your site and the way in which they behave once they are navigating it. This data if used correctly can help you to improve your website and help you get the most from your online real estate.

Get your data sorted

As well as the data you are able to glean from your website you should make use of existing client and prospect data. If you don’t have enough data to sustain your B2B marketing consider buying data. Do however ensure that your data is clean, contains the correct information and is up to date. You should also place your data in an actual database, as this is far more efficient that hoarding it away in a spreadsheet.

The success of your B2B marketing efforts is closely tied to the cleanliness and usefulness of your data as this allows you to target prospects effectively. Equally, your website also needs to perform effectively, generating prospects and converting website visitors into leads.