Do you think it’s a good idea to ask your customers to jump through hoops and vault over hurdles in order to get to the meat of your brand? Do you think that the harder they have to work to get to the good stuff, the more they’ll appreciate and support your brand?
To most of us, this seems silly. Why would we want our customers to go through anything they don’t have to? And won’t they get frustrated and turn to the competition?
Well, as crazy as this may sound to some of us, I have some news:
- A lot of brand-builders really do believe this.
- In some way or another, you’re probably doing this.
Let’s not waste another minute. It’s about time you learn to identity and take down the barriers that are keeping your ideal customers from your brand.
Today’s consumer is busy, with a shorter-than-ever attention span. So common sense would tell us that we need to make their brand experiences quick and simple…without losing the customer experience.
Your first order of business is to identify those processes within your brand that may be acting as obstacles for your customers—either slowing down their arrival at satisfaction or causing them to turn away from your brand in preference of an easier solution.
- Ask for Feedback. A big part of putting yourself in your customer’s shoes is getting in there and starting conversations. Create a poll. Ask specific questions. Prove that you’re listening. And then make changes.
- Watch the Competition. Take the time to read what people are saying about the competition—what they like and what they don’t like—with your attention focussed on things that could be acting as barriers. Maintain this focus, and you’ll notice that you begin to see processes and ideals for the hurdles they really are, and you can decide to break them down in your own brand, as well as learn to avoid putting them up in the first place.
- Exit Interviews. In the sad case that an established customer leaves your brand, talk to them about why they left—not with the blatant intention of getting them to stay, but with a genuine concern for making changes. If they feel a certain way, chances are there are a number of other customers being annoyed and thinking about leaving, too.
- Stoppage Interviews. If you can see, through analytics, that there are prospects moving through your sales funnel and abruptly leaving, find out why. Pay special attention to those areas where the exits are most prominent.
Okay, you get the idea there. Next, it’s time to look at some common problematic areas, so you can break down those barriers before they arise:
- How difficult is it to get on with your brand? Is there lots of cumbersome paperwork, or an opening consultation that feels like a lengthy vetting interrogation? Are you asking people to sign documents, scan, and email…rather than using an electronic signature function? Know your ideal customer’s lifestyle and preferences, so you can make getting started less like a barrier and more like an open door.
- Have you published answers to FAQs? Frequently Asked Questions, or FAQs, serve a number of purposes, including freeing up your customer service department and dispelling fears on the way to the shopping cart. And there’s more. By answering people’s most commonly asked questions, essentially before they ask them, you are avoiding stoppages along the sales funnel. Your prospects are no longer delayed (and given time and reason to back out) whilst waiting for your staff to get back to them.
- Are you hard to access? When people have questions or comments, is it difficult to contact you? Do you take more than 24 hours to respond to messages? Or do you refuse to answer your phone? Most often, business owners like you are simply too busy to respond to every enquiry and phone call; however, that doesn’t mean you can’t assign a team member, who is well-versed in your brand culture and language, to handle these communications. Not getting back to people, or taking too long to do it, is a significant barrier that will earn your brand the type of reputation you don’t want.
- Is your website slow to load or difficult to navigate? You have only a few seconds to grasp attention and keep it—and the seconds after that are crucial, too. When people visit your website, especially for the first time, they are uber-sensitive to even a hint of difficulty. After all, your website is a stand-in for both you and your physical store, so if your site is asking them to jump hurdles, they will assume you’ll do the same and split.
Wow! There are so many more hoops and hurdles we could talk about; however, I think you’ve probably got some good material here to get you started on your brand’s path to a barrier-free experience for your customers.
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