Archive for May 28, 2014

From Unicorns to UFO’s: Internet Searches by State

 

From time to time, statistics come out about most searched for terms on Google and other search engines. Last week, Estately, an online real estate search site published an article detailing the most searched for terms by state, with a quirky analysis to accompany the most popular search terms.

 

google by state

 

 

You can read the article in its entirety to see what each state’s popular search terms are, but some of my favorites include:

 

  • COLORADO:  CrossFit / Marijuana / Paleo Diet / Rocky Mountain Oysters / Tim Tebow

               Analysis:  Nobody jumps on the latest trends like Colorado.

 

  • MISSOURI:  Family Circus (comic) / Nelly (rapper)

               Analysis:  Missouri’s wifi must have gone out sometime in 2002. 

 

  • NORTH CAROLINA:  Barbecue / Charles Barkley’s Golf Swing / White Snake (band) / Your Mama Jokes

               Analysis: People are just having a real nice time on the internet in ol’ North                 Carolina

 

  • OREGON:  Allah / Sex / Spork

    Analysis:  Somebody needs to go and check on Oregon.

 

  • WYOMING:  Ann Coulter / The Constitution / Crank / Rush Limbaugh / Sheep / Socialism

    Analysis:  Not a fun state to be a liberal alpaca farmer.

 

 

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Sales Follow Up: Make Sure One Hand Knows What the Other Is Doing

 

This seems to be the week for interesting tales from real life….this time as it relates to following up with customers, or potential customers.

 

I called a medical-related referral service to help my mom find a dentist in the area. The call went very well, but I wasn’t sure about some details and said that I would call back if I needed further assistance, but for now was all set. I thought that was the end of the experience.

 

And then the calls started coming in. Many calls over a two day period. Way too many in fact. I counted, from my voice mail messages, five calls the first day and four or five the second. While that was a minor annoyance (I’m sure they get commission for a successful referral and really were only doing their job), I listened to my voice mail messages – all of them – and realized that there were different representatives calling me to follow up on my inquiry, sometimes within an hour of each other.

 

How did this happen?

 

There must not have been a record on my file from John Smith stating, “attempted to follow up on this date at this time” so the next person looking at my file wouldn’t try to call me an hour or two later.

 

On the third day, there were no calls, so maybe files only stay active for 48 hours before they are considered closed. I’m not sure. But, the experience left me wondering a few things:

 

1. This is a long standing, reputable (as far as I know) referral service – is business that slow that I’ve been the only call in weeks, so everyone wanted a chance at giving me a referral?

 

2. Do they not keep accurate records of customer contact? I know when I talked to someone, they said they could retrieve an old file of a past referral if need be, so I know they keep records of some sort. The rapid fire calling could be perceived negatively by a potential customer, and even if they had every intention of calling back to use the service, this may change their mind.

 

3. What is their follow up procedure? Are all follow up contacts from the previous day given to all of the representatives so that whoever gets to them first gets to talk with them (and their business if that’s how the company operates)? What would have happened if I talked to Joe Smith and got a referral, but Peggy Sue didn’t get that message (due to poor record keeping) and called me just a few hours later? It can send the wrong message either way.

 

Following up and staying on top of potential customers is good business, no doubt. Having a specific plan in place is too. It’s good to remember that even if a customer doesn’t do business with you this time, if the overall experience was good, they may remember you next time they are in need of your product or service.

 

They Ask The Right Questions, But Then What?

 

Staff, especially at the point of sale, are trained to ask certain questions or follow a certain path during each customer transaction. One of those questions might be, “Did you find everything okay?” This is a standard retail question, and one that most customers likely respond to with a “yes.”

 

What happens when a customer says, “No, actually….”

 

This happened to a friend recently in a grocery store. She did not find a particular item she was looking for, but finished her shopping and proceeded to the checkout. The cashier asked that standard question, to which the reply was, “Actually, no. I was looking for xxx and couldn’t find it. Is this something you carry?”

 

The first response from the cashier was more or less described as a deer in the headlights look. She did not have a response right away, and didn’t know how to answer the question. To her credit, she did try to find someone who did, and that person stated he wasn’t sure and went to look for it. However, he never came back, and at the end of the transaction, which wasn’t very long, there was never another mention about whether or not the store carried the product.

 

If a business expects staff to ask specific questions or go through a certain process when interacting with customers, it’s wise to make sure that all staff are trained to be able to answer the questions, find someone who does know the question if it’s something they can’t answer, and ensure that at the end of the contact, the customer’s inquiry was responded to as fully as possible.

 

In this instance, providing staff at the registers with ongoing training to ensure they are familiar with product offerings, or even keeping a sort of “cheat sheet” of available items can help an interaction be successful.

 

I found this interaction interesting, and one that highlights the importance of training, empowering employees and arming them with the knowledge to be successful, and continually monitoring staff performance to ensure the highest quality of service possible.