Sometimes the most difficult experiences can push you in the right direction. For Carmen Sturniolo, owner of Ambitious Athletics, that moment came after his father passed away from a medical condition. He realized a desk job wouldn't satisfy him and began thinking about how he could live his life to the fullest.
"There's gotta be something more I could be doing for the world, kind of like my dad did," Carmen said. "He was a carpenter, also cut hair. He had a small business in his day, and he never had to hand out a business card. Everybody came to him."
Inspired by his dad, Carmen quit his job and started working at a gym as a personal trainer, gaining skills and learning more about the industry. Feeling like he could offer more, he pursued his own fitness business, training clients at his house or the park and fostering an unofficial gym community. When it was time to open his first brick-and-mortar business in 2015, he made sure the space was encouraging and inspiring for his clients.
"With every decision as an entrepreneur, you're looking to maximize your time and perfect everything right up front. So it was many hours of standing in this shelled out space," he said. "When you walk in, there's a big mural with our chevrons up there that says, 'Strong, fit, athletic.' And that's what I always want to bring to our clients, and hopefully our clients want to embody."
Yelp reviewer Steven C. said he found Ambitious Athletics on Yelp while reading reviews to find a gym he could feel comfortable going to. Prior bad experiences at other gyms had made him nervous about entering the fitness scene without a lot of experience.
"What I was really nervous about was, I've been to gyms before, and most of the time it's just like open equipment. So you go and you feel bad about yourself because everyone else is very in shape," Steven said.
In order to address common concerns and fears similar to Steven's, Carmen has a personal conversation with each potential client that comes in and offers a $20 one-week trial period so potential clients have a low risk option to try out the gym.
"Honestly, it's so we can just have a conversation with you and be ourselves and demonstrate our quality of training here, our community, and how we carry ourselves and want to actually make a difference in health and fitness," Carmen said.
Because he understands how important it is for each client to be cared for, Carmen asks questions during the trial period—ranging from what their fitness goals are to where they are in their life. This creates a safe environment where clients feel understood and less intimidated with a professional to guide them and help them achieve their goals.
"So you come in for that starter session, and that gives us the opportunity to meet you, understand where you are, who you are as a person, what you've done in the past, what you're currently doing, what you're currently looking for. What's your injury history like? Why are you doing this?" he said. "That would be important to me if I walked into any gym, any business where I was investing in myself, to be known as somebody, not just a number, and be a part of the volume of clientele."
Backing up that sentiment, Carmen said he and his staff look at a report every Friday to see which clients have been able to come in and which ones haven't. If clients haven't shown up, they check in to make sure they're doing okay.
"We know that showing up three to four times a week is most beneficial for your goals. And we like to see people. It's always more fun when there's more people in here and everyone is in here and laughing and having a great time, 'cause fitness should be fun," he said.
When it comes to feedback about the experience his business provides, Carmen takes reviews very seriously and has a process for reading and responding to them.
"If it's a one star or a five star, I wanna be able to read it, absorb it, and react logically if there needs to be a reaction, or let it hit me emotionally. So I take the time to carve out like 30 minutes and just absorb it," Carmen said. "If it's a current member, I'll email them and say 'Thank you so much for taking the time to write this review that you feel is helpful to us, and also helpful to the next person."
Other businesses can learn from Ambitious Athletics's journey, including the following tips:
Source : https://www.entrepreneur.com
Are you seeking to foster growth and achieve better results for your business this year? In a world where customer expectations are rapidly evolving, the importance of creating a customer-centric culture cannot be overstated. One of the most effective strategies in this pursuit is the implementation of a Voice of Customer (VoC) program. However, it's not just about launching a program; it's about using it smartly to drive growth rather than just incurring costs.
What is a Voice of Customer program?
At its core, a Voice of Customer program is a vehicle through which customers provide their valuable feedback, insights and opinions about their experiences, needs, wants and expectations in relation to your products and services. It serves as a direct line of communication between your business and your customers, enabling you to tap into their thoughts and feelings to inform and enhance your strategies.
The pitfalls of ineffective VoC programs
Despite the popularity of VoC programs, many of them fail to deliver the intended benefits. CEOs often struggle to justify the ongoing expenses associated with these programs due to a lack of discernible return on investment. What should be a robust tool for insights and growth often turns into a one-dimensional process that merely yields scores and basic insights. So, why do these programs fall short?
The number one reason for the ineffectiveness of many VoC programs is the failure to ask the right questions in the right manner. A successful VoC program — backed by our global experience over two decades — recognizes that customers are diverse and their interactions with your brand are unique. Therefore, a personalized approach to gathering feedback is essential. Rather than asking every customer the same questions, tailor the questions to each customer's experience. Keep the feedback process concise, interactive and relevant, allowing for real-time adjustments. Aim to uncover the "why" and the behavioral aspects behind their feedback. Leveraging technology, such as text, audio and video responses, can enhance the depth of insights.
Take continuous action over passive insights
To derive value from a VoC program, it's crucial to prioritize taking action over merely collecting insights. While measuring customer attributes and tracking loyalty drivers are important, they shouldn't be the end goal. Instead, focus on identifying the most pressing customer-led priorities and addressing them promptly. By honing in on a single priority, it becomes easier to transition from data collection to impactful actions. Measure success based on individual and team improvements, aligning these improvements with sales growth and customer retention. By translating enhanced customer experiences into tangible business outcomes, the program's value becomes undeniable.
The role of program leadership
A successful VoC program isn't a set-it-and-forget-it endeavor. It necessitates robust program leadership and engagement. Collaboration with experienced partners is key to tailoring the program to your business, from setup to implementation and ongoing management. Software systems alone are insufficient to drive the program's success; customization is essential to align the program with your specific business needs. A holistic approach, including ongoing management of the customer journey, actionable results and integration with sales KPIs, is the recipe for meaningful change.
Feedback ASAP: Driving real change
In the quest for growth through a customer-centric culture, the "Feedback ASAP" program — getting feedback as soon as possible — stands out as a testament to the power of a well-executed VoC strategy. Rather than relying on generic solutions, this program capitalizes on personalization, actionable insights and robust program leadership to deliver tangible results. By identifying missed sales opportunities and offering real-time solutions, it empowers teams to improve their skills and capabilities through targeted eLearning.
This integrated approach aligns changes with overarching strategic goals, making the entire business ecosystem work in harmony toward growth.
The road to growth in today's business landscape is paved with customer-centric strategies, and at the forefront of these strategies is the Voice of Customer program. While its popularity has grown, so has the realization that the key to success lies in asking the right questions, taking continuous action and having strong program leadership. The paradigm has shifted from collecting insights to driving results and the Feedback ASAP program exemplifies this shift. The time has come to embrace a customer-centric culture and unleash the true potential of your business through the power of your customer's voice.
Source : https://www.entrepreneur.com
Ann McFerran understands the power of loyal customers. Ann is the CEO and Founder of Glamnetic, a magnetic lash beauty brand that she built from her small living room in Koreatown, Los Angeles, into a $50 million global company. Her secret? Ann is really good at turning customers into super fans.
I’ve served small and midsize businesses (SMBs), like Glamnetic, my whole career. These businesses are some of the scrappiest, grittiest, and most successful out there. And they are run by some of the most innovative, determined, and passionate people around.
One of the things that makes SMBs so special is their connection to their own customers. When it comes to serving customers, small business owners are on the front lines. They know and understand their customers in a very personal way.
How, then, can SMBs take these strong connections with customers and translate that into business growth? How can you activate your customer base to be vocal advocates for your business? While the journey to supporting your customers is different for every business, here are four tips that I’ve found helpful in leading teams to put customers first.
How to turn customers into fans of your business
1. Lead with values that serve your customers
Regardless of how you serve your customers, or who your customers are, there is one underlying principle that will help you earn their trust: values. Your company’s values are the foundation upon which your business is built. They are a North Star, guiding you through strategy, growth, and decision-making. Values are also how your business shows up in the world.
In my experience, businesses with values that authentically and empathetically put their customers first have an advantage. Values like these help motivate employees, build common purpose, and ensure your team is always focused on the thing that matters most—customers. And when customers see that you have built a company that is entirely geared towards helping them, you’ll be rewarded with trust and endorsements.
If your business already has a set of values written down, talk to your team about how those values translate to customers. And if you don’t, it’s never too late to articulate a set of values that aligns with your company and your customers.
2. Listen and learn from your customers
One of the things I ask every member of my team to do is to walk in our customers’ shoes. It sounds so simple, but empathy really is a superpower.
Whether you are a CEO, or just starting your career as an intern, set aside time to meet with your customers. Talking to small businesses is my favorite part of my job. It gives me the opportunity to hear directly from our customers what their pain points are, to understand from them how they use our platform, and to learn about how we can improve.
Listen in to customer service calls, or even put your hand up to do the job of a customer service advocate for a day. Talk directly with customers about what’s working, and what’s not. Listen and respond to reviews online. Don’t be afraid to admit when you’ve got it wrong. And always be focused on improving.
3. Leverage data to understand your customers
Data can be a secret weapon when it comes to understanding your customers’ needs and exceeding their expectations.
Traditionally, sophisticated data analytics were available only to big businesses. Fortunately, that is changing, and we’re seeing more tools available to help SMBs collect and leverage data to support strategic decision-making. A report published by SCORE found that 51% percent of small businesses believe analytics are critical, but only 45% are tracking data. I hope these figures continue to increase, because when harnessed creatively and thoughtfully, data can help you win customers for life.
The right data can equip you to understand your customers’ pain points, deliver on your value proposition, exceed your customers’ expectations, and tailor support for customers. Data can be a powerful predictor of customer trends, patterns, and preferences. It can also help you understand and improve the overall customer support experience.
Finding the right tool(s) for your business to collect, store and analyze data can be tough. Whether you are using surveys, consumer intelligence reporting, website tracking, or CRM software, I suggest looking for integrated software that provides real-time insights, analytical or forecasting capabilities, and that can scale with your business.
Once you have the right tools, collecting and analyzing the data can be overwhelming or disorientating—particularly if you’re working with large data sets. I always find it valuable to clearly define the business questions to which you’re seeking answers before diving into a sea of numbers.
Armed with these insights, don’t forget to empower your whole team with this information. For employees working on the front lines, understanding the drivers and motivations behind customer behavior will help them deliver great customer service, and ultimately turn your customers into super fans.
4. Harness innovation to better support your customers
We’ve all had that one amazing customer service experience. A company that went above and beyond to help make something right for you. Where you’ve had these experiences, chances are you talked about them with friends, wrote positive reviews, and continued to support those companies.
When it comes to customer service, people are increasingly interested in flexibility—some prefer the convenience of a live chat while others prefer the interpersonal connection of a phone call. However you deliver customer support, innovation can help empower your frontline support teams to deliver great service.
Adopting AI-powered chat, for example, can be a game changer for your customer service. Chatbots can help answer customer questions about a product, educate your customers, resolve problems, or even help lead customers through the sales funnel. Importantly, chatbots are also able to deliver friendly, accurate responses to customers due to national language processing capabilities. In a survey, 64% of respondents appreciated the 24-hour service that intelligent chat could provide.
Customer experience can be the difference between success and failure in customer retention. Of course, we need to get the basics right. Long wait times for service or advocates who aren’t properly trained to provide support have the potential to impact customer retention. But innovation is a powerful tool to enhance the customer experience of a strong base. And a great customer experience can help turn your customer into a super fan.
Customer success = business success
Customers know when a company puts them first. To deliver on this promise, build a strong foundation of values, leverage data for success, harness innovation, and listen and learn from customers.
The reward? You’ll have customers for life. And that’s a great thing for your business.
FAQs about turning customers into fans
How can you turn your customers into advocates?
There are four ways you can turn your customers into advocates:
1. Lead with values that serve your customers, 2. Listen and learn from your customers, 3. Leverage data to understand your customers, 4. Harness innovation to better support your customers.
What is an example of customer advocacy?
An example of customer advocacy might be when a satisfied customer talks about the business with friends, writes a positive review, and continues to support that company
What are the benefits of customer advocacy?
Customer success = business success. Customers know when a company puts them first. If you deliver on this promise, build a strong foundation of values, and harness innovation, then you’ll have customers for life.
Source : https://www.weebly.com/
Reviews and rewards are the biggest factors swaying consumers in the new digital landscape. Brands need to get with the program.
We've come a long way from the negative and misleading image of rewards programs only being for low-income consumers. I know millionaire investors who make sure they use their air miles and take advantage of the punch cards and point systems at local mom-and-pop cafes. The traditional approach of building a brand and a loyal customer base is being replaced by rewards programs, which disproportionately benefit bigger spenders. The more these consumers spend, the more they get back — setting up a virtuous cycle for both buyer and seller.
In our survey of over 50,000 consumers, only 3% said they would stay loyal to their top brand if a competitor offered cashback or points incentives. The explosion of the number of products at marginal price differentials on retail platforms helps explain this dramatic shift. With so many transactions taking place online, consumers are being swayed by the best deals, the best reviews and the best rewards.
Rewards build up over time, so the purpose of these programs is to create an ongoing relationship with customers, especially those who spend the most. It's a simple equation: Offering them the most value ensures they remain the most loyal. Brand equity may not be dead, but it is being redefined by the need to reward repeat customers in this more complex operating environment.
Reward programs are everywhere
From your local juice shop offering a free beverage after collecting 10 stamps to the major players such as Amazon Prime and Target Circle, rewards programs are ubiquitous and public awareness is high. Almost 80% of people in our survey said they were familiar with apps and websites that offered purchase rewards. According to software company Oracle, 72% of consumers belong to at least one loyalty program.
While reviews undeniably wield considerable influence over consumer choices, it's evident that spending habits are increasingly pivoting around the strategic redemption of reward points. For instance, when Discover Card designates certain vendors offering additional points for a limited period, consumers are spurred to intensify their spending at these locations. Such strategic initiatives benefit consumers with bonus points and stimulate the entire ecosystem, creating a win-win scenario for all parties involved.
Brand loyalty is also being informed by the preferred rewards of consumers, with two studies divided over the No. 1 category: Capgemini says 69% of consumers prefer cashback above all other rewards, while Merkle found that 79% of respondents preferred discounts. The constant is that everyone wants to be recognized and appreciated for their loyalty.
What works best for you?
There are two types of loyalty programs: Your own hosted program and an externally hosted program that offers a rewards ecosystem. No matter which you choose, you don't need to have an enterprise business.
A hosted program can vary from business to business, but it's likely the type you are most familiar with. You spend enough money or make enough purchases at a business and are rewarded with a free item or something similar from the same business. Almost every small business now has punch cards or a point system that rewards us when we return regularly — whether it be your local coffee shop or the restaurant down the street.
Alternatively, I am seeing growth in external loyalty programs that allow brands to reach new customers and reward them for sticking around. These programs can be broken down into two more categories: One that partners with individual industries or market segments, such as Ibotta's hosted rewards program that offers rebates in grocery and retail, and the other that operates across the entire consumer landscape.
I call the second type of program a "unified provider." This type of rewards program is evolving in unique ways as mobile apps allow people to be rewarded based on where and when they are spending across varying stores and brands and accumulate rewards.
Going further than games
The surge in mobile usage over the last decade has unlocked vast potential for these unified reward platforms. My company aims to become the primary channel for consumers to amass rewards from diverse spending avenues. Initially focusing on mobile gaming, we plan to extend into other sectors like fuel, groceries and other areas consumers wish to be rewarded in.
One of the key benefits of a unified provider lies in its cumulative nature. This allows consumers to garner more points than they ever could through multiple independent programs. The more consumers spend across diverse categories, the more rewards they accrue, creating higher value for the unified provider. In turn, the provider can afford to share more rewards with the customer, ensuring they stay engaged with various vendors. In essence, this creates a virtuous circle where all parties involved come out winners.
Do your homework
The arena of gaming for rewards and mobile rewards programs is relatively uncharted. Understandably, people harbor skepticism about earning gift cards simply for playing a game — it seems too good to be true! This newness and a dynamic marketplace indicate a clear need for brands to do their homework thoroughly before venturing into these emerging rewards ecosystems.
If you want your business to use an externally hosted reward program, know that the market can be volatile. New providers often spring up only to vanish just as swiftly if they fail to strike a balance that benefits all stakeholders. Reliable resources are crucial for gathering insights and making informed decisions. Major contributors to the app install ecosystem regularly publish performance indexes of leading publishers. These indexes often include information about players in the rewarded engagement field, making them valuable starting points for verifying potential partners.
The narrative of consumerism has pivoted; it's no longer just about brand loyalty. The innovative rewards program landscape, from local businesses to global corporations, is expanding, evolving and firmly establishing its presence. And it's not just about choice or variety.
Repeat customers generate around 65% of a company's revenue, underlining the vital role of rewards programs in customer retention, sustainable business growth, and market differentiation. They've become much more than just a trend; rewards programs are an essential strategic instrument in today's consumer market. Brands that recognize this shift and harness the power of rewards will thrive in this dynamic environment, enhancing their consumer relationships and, ultimately, their bottom line.
Image Credit: Pexels.com | Photo by Torsten Dettlaff
Membership is open to businesses and organizations interested in increasing visibility and brand awareness in Westchester County and surrounding areas.