Gimme a jingle Send voicemail appointment reminders with Phonevite

Posted by tom klein August 16, 2007 at 2:30 am

Even though it seems like the whole world carries a PDA with up to date calendaring, text messaging, and email, why is it still so hard for your customers to remember appointments? No matter what you’re selling, a missed appointment is revenue that’s not going to happen.

Phonevite is another tool in your arsenal to make sure your customers don’t “forget” appointments. At the very least, it will make them dream up new excuses. It works very simply. You sign up for an account and have your phone number verified (to avoid voice spam). Then, all you have to do is record your message (on the phone or on your computer), provide the list of phone numbers you would like the system to call, and then sit back and do nothing. The system will call all of the numbers you’ve indicated and deliver your message.

One nice feature is that it lets you request a voice message in return or simply an RSVP (assuming you’ve extended an invitation). You can also track everything from their website. If you ever lose revenue because your customers forget to just show up, why not let this system send everyone a nice, friendly voice mail reminder . . . from you?

This technology is somewhat similar to that of Memotext that we discussed in Let’s Do Lunch. While that system was for medical purposes, this system might be more appropriate to remind people of everything from haircuts to auto repair appointments. Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) enables these helpful services.

When you’re recording a voice mail reminder for customers, make it short and memorable. If you have a song or a tune associated with your brand, now’s the time to use it.

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  Breakfast at Tiffanys Publish a calendar for customers with Google Calendar

Posted by tom klein August 9, 2007 at 2:30 am

Almost every business has an ebb and flow of important events throughout the year. There’s always something interesting on the horizon – the next season of clothing, the new model year, the next version of the iPod . . . or maybe just the big annual sale. It’s the rare company that gives its customers a full view of what’s going to happen throughout the year, even though this is exactly how everyone in marketing normally looks at things.

With Google Calendar, your brand can be the exception and give your customers a full view of key events. As you’ll see in this public calendar gallery, brands ranging from Faith Hill to Disney to the Florida Gators have found value in publishing a calendar of events. This calendaring system makes it easy for viewers to add an event to his/her own (Google) calendar. Or, even better, the system can let a viewer save all of the events to his/her (Google) calendar.

Shouldn’t you have a way to ensure that your best customers know about your key events – whether that’s a sale or the arrival of a new product line?

With web-based calendaring, there’s no limit to the number of calendars you create, or the level of detail you provide for each event. Calendars are a very familiar way for people to interact with data. Even the political campaigns have gotten into the act. You can see where Senator Clinton is having lunch today.

If you manage a multi-location business, this kind of calendaring represents an easy way to create real outreach in the local community. What’s going on in your local Borders or Starbucks could be very different from what’s happening across the country. Why not give your local operations a way to reach out to local customers?

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  It's my party Manage ticketed events with Eventbrite

Posted by tom klein August 8, 2007 at 2:30 am

Surprise! One of the best ways to grow sales is to just meet with a lot of customers or prospects all at once. Creating and managing events represents a core element of the marketer’s repertoire. However, events can also represent a tar pit of details and aggravation . . . something that will give you gray hair (or more of the same).

Eventbrite can help you with many of the challenging aspects of event management. First, you can use the system to create the event, including setup of tickets and acceptance of credit cards or Paypal / Google Checkout. One especially nice feature is the ability to make an invitation match your company style and carry a logo. Next, you can promote the event, including of course sending email, but also publishing the event on major search engines. Finally, you can even use the system to keep track of attendees, and even manage payment for tickets at the door.

While it rhymes with E-vite, it’s an entirely different animal. The price for all of this event management goodness? 2.5% of all ticket proceeds (maximum fee of $9.95 per event). Free events are, well, free. Wouldn’t you take on more events if they were easier to manage? Look for a feed growth! event sometime soon, managed by Eventbrite.

The most important technical hurdle here is how the system lets anyone accept credit cards for an event, without all of the normal hassles. This opens up the door to creating many events, because now you have a way to make people pay for the keg of beer - in advance.

We’re very social creatures and seem to have no limit to our desire to walk around and shmooze. While most event-driven companies put a great deal of effort into using events for prospects, don’t forget your current customers. Creating a compelling customer appreciation event will certainly show your appreciation, but may also close more deals than you imagine.

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  Let's do lunch Keep customers and patients buying with a reminder service (like MemoText)

Posted by tom klein July 2, 2007 at 2:30 am

Appointments make the world go round…or at least most businesses. When customers miss their appointments, or, in the pharma business, forget to do what they’re told, that’s revenue lost. Imagine if there were a way to keep your customers on time and, where relevant, on their program (take the meds, follow the diet, put the flea stuff on the dog, etc.).

Memotext is a great example of how to keep patients on the straight and narrow. For only $10 a month, a patient can receive a daily text message or voicemail reminder to take a medication. With 60% of medication not taken correctly or at all, there’s plenty of room for improvement. While this is an ideal solution for pharma companies, the idea could be replicated for almost any industry. Even a chain of hair salons or health clubs could benefit from a similar service.

Your customers are with you because they want to be. When it comes to an appointment, a program, or a medication, they don’t want to stray. They may just need a bit of electronic discipline. Are you doing everything you can to keep your customers in the fold?

One of the benefits of an SMS/text messaging system is that not only can you send a message, but you can also send a website address. Now, in the age of the iPhone, we no longer have to view mobile access as a "watered-down" version of the internet. People really can surf the web from their (i)phone.

This sort of programmatic discipline may keep customers in a consistent usage and buying cycle. Even more importantly, it may be perceived as being so valuable as worth a significant premium over the current price of your product. Imagine Jenny Craig’s weight loss products being sold with a reminder service (maybe voice mails from Kirstie). Don’t leave revenue on the table when you add value.

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  Service with a smile Develop a service business with online scheduling

Posted by tom klein May 18, 2007 at 2:30 am

All of your company’s smarts are locked up in the brains of your employees. But most of the time those brains are locked up far away from customers.

With online scheduling, you can give your customers access to your employees to create an instant service business – and high-margin service revenue. Apple has recently unveiled its One to One program that unlocks the intelligence of its legions of retail employees. Customers use a simple online scheduling tool to create an appointment for personal training with store employees.

Not just retailers can turn smarts into service revenue. Manufacturers should consider opening up R&D, operations, or any area of expertise to customers. Remember, even IBM is now a service company.

While the technology might seem simple, there are few web solutions available - a good reason for building your own. The challenge is the combination of both customer visibility (what's available) and scheduling employees to deliver the services. Depending on the scale of your company and your offering, you can probably manage a test with existing calendaring tools (MS Outlook or online calendars like Google Calendar).

By creating a disciplined, yet self-service model for post-purchase service, you can improve your brand experience for very low cost. Also, by charging for the service, you will help communicate the value of the service you do provide. Finally, it's one more benefit to help close the deal in the first place.

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