As the readership of the Benchmark Blog increases, we’re realizing that we’re quickly becoming a hub for small business advice – yes, email marketing, but also other topics that help businesses do the little things a lot better. Very often, it’s important to analyze the factors beyond the mechanical email marketing process that significantly affect your email campaign’s success.

Today’s Blog Is for People Who Meet People

This entry is for the people that build lists by person-to-person interaction: you have a brick & mortar store, you’re an agent in the field, you see clients (and not just through Skype!) or you build lists by shaking hands. If you actually can put faces to your email subscriber lists, read on. This is for you.

How Do People Feel about Your Name?

A few blogs back, I suddenly realized that my smart phone is changing my email reading habits. In short, because the name of the sender is featured more prominently than the subject line, I now open my email based on my perceived stature of the company name.

We’d love to believe that our product is so good, our branding so strong, that the mere site of our company name will command an open. But is that really the case? You don’t have competitors? There aren’t similar products in your field? Come on, your customers have choices!

Good Companies with Good Practices Get Trusted

Before my Benchmark life, I spent decades giving my best to people in person-to-person transactions – a banker, retail employee, an ice cream scooper, a Disney employee, a musician, a promoter, a college teacher. Whether as a manager or front-line clerk, whether the center of attention or part of the support staff, I have spent the better part of three decades making people with expectations happy. Through this experience, I have had to develop some very good habits of personal contact customer service to do these jobs right.

And Trusted Names Get Opens

The goal here is to help you create a consistent aura of good feeling so that your customer feels bonded to the sum total of good experiences in dealing with your company. If they feel good about you, they will trust your name when it shows up in their inbox. It’s really that simple.

Tip #1 – Never Walk by a Customer without Saying Hello

This one goes for you and ALL your employees. It’s easy to say “hi” when you first meet a customer. But it’s how you act when you’re busy that counts. Never ever walk by a customer who is looking at you without acknowledging their existence in a friendly manner. Eye contact demands a smile from you.

Tip #2 – Every Employee Is a Customer Service Rep

Is this hard to digest? If it is, change your mindset quickly because you’re creating a bad culture from the top down. Whether it’s a waiter walking by another waiter’s table or a VP who is visiting a store for inspection, every person who works for the company owns the responsibility for those with whom they come in contact with. “That’s not my department” is a criminal response. “Let me get someone who can help you” is barely acceptable. “I’ll handle this” is what people want to hear. Even when approached on the floor with a customer you don’t have time for, you need to find it.

Tip #3 – Don’t Switch Out Players, Increase the Team Size

Sometimes you have to pass on the responsibility of a customer issue or transaction to the person who best can handle it. Don’t just hand it off and wash your hands of it. First, you inform the customer that another team member has joined because you both need their expertise. Second, you introduce the new member personally. Finally, you follow up to make sure that the issue that originated on your watch gets resolved. Did you notice “you” were the doer in all three steps, even as it became someone else’s customer?

Tip #4 – Don’t Pass the Buck, Deliver the Baby

Do you have a store or business with many departments or sections? Are there times when customers just show up in the wrong places? When this happens, please don’t send the customers off to navigate for their own salvations alone – even if it’s a short walk. How much more effective is it to walk the customer over to the right aisle, section or person? Again, introductions are key. “Here’s Jim, he’s who can help you with this.” By the way, think of all you can learn about the customer on the walk. Think about all they can learn from you.

Tip #5 – If “Customer” Doesn’t Mean Enough to You, Change the Name

Do you know that Disney doesn’t have customers? That word is simply not used. Any person who isn’t an employee is simply and importantly a “guest.” It works. You would never inconvenience a guest and you would always do your best for them.

With Treatment This Good in the Store, Your Good Name Gets Opens

In Email Marketing, the reputation of the senders (i.e. not spammers) is integral in making sure an email gets delivered by the ISP. Signing up with a good email service provider and following email marketing best practices takes care of that. But the final hurdle is the hardest: once your email shows up in the inbox, what motivates a customer to open the email? With subject lines playing a subordinate role to the name of your company, you’d better make sure your personal reputation with your customer is gold. If you can make seeing your name synonymous with being well treated, opens are sure to follow.