How to catch the client? PERFORMER and the direct communication with current and potential customers
In the previous watch blog article the potential communication channels which can be used for effective promotion and commercialization of the PERFORMER solution have been initially described. The main aim of this article is to present in detail different direct communication channels in order to show how they can be effectively customized for the purposes of commercialization processes. Among the described communication channels face-to-face meetings, website, social media, technical support, call center, phone, e-mail and SMS can be found.
– Face-to-Face meetings
As a business owners of the PERFORMER solution, we should talk to customers in person. Regardless of the topic, we represent the consortium (or single companies involved in creation and exploitation of the PERFORMER exploitable results) and our communication with customers will directly impact their perception of the PERFORMER business. Having this in mind, we have to remember to keep our focus on the customer with a customer-centric approach – in this way it will be much easier to uncover and meet customer needs.
It seems that in the PERFORMER case, rather direct contacts like door-to-door marketing, briefings and demonstration meetings at any dedicated events like courses and training for property managers are appropriate. Traditional way of communication (commercials, press advertisements) might not work in case of such complex and innovative solution – it would be worthy that PERFORMER is introduced to the potential clients by the expert who is available to answer to any questions/doubts. Another effective channel to disseminate PERFORMER might be to demonstrate its results in buildings frequently visited by many people (e.g. office buildings in business districts, public administration premises, etc.) with intense informational campaign informing visitors that they are in the building where PERFORMER Building data warehouse service successfully helps to efficiently manage the energy use, etc. This approach would also facilitate word of mouth marketing of the PERFORMER solution. This could be coupled with good news stories and positive references from well-known and esteemed clients to attract more users.
Face-to-face communication forms can also be established with Social Networks, especially occupants of a building who may not be using the building correctly, or when change in heating/cooling strategy is implemented. For example, some of the lessons can be organized among buildings designers and architects. This could be also dedicated to citizens and managers of buildings, including special courses on raising awareness about saving energy in schools and other public buildings.
– Face-to-face technical support
User-friendly assistance is dedicated to individuals having technical problems with electronic devices. The technical support team is composed of individuals that are familiar with the ins and outs of a device. With this knowledge, they are able to troubleshoot most problems that a user experiences. Information on how to reach technical support is usually provided with the packaged materials included with a device. It has to be noted that other forms of technical support are based on the digital solutions, so they are provided over the phone, through email, or with a live-chat interface.
While face-to-face communication is more conducive to certain businesses, even ecommerce companies and remote services can find opportunities to get in front of customers. Among channels which can be used in order to maintain strong communication with the potential PERFORMER customers, the following ones can be found:
Websites can be used to offer full communication, and other information concerning the identity of the company, but it the same time can be used as a marketing tool aimed at promoting businesses, reaching a far more number of customers, expanding businesses or playing a role of a virtual shop (e-commerce website). Maintaining a site for PERFORMER may have different objectives, such as presenting and strengthening the image of the company’s identity, promoting company products and services, sales presentation, demonstrations, marketing, financial information, etc.
The success of a site is determined by its quality control system, easy access to information and quality photos. In general, the criteria used to characterize the quality of a website is: navigability (ease of authentication, menu functionality, positioning within the site), design (home page, layout, methods of capture visitor attention), information content (structuring information, help area, contact page), custom criteria (ease of implementation, combining safety with seaworthiness, ease of access to the demo account, offered help in case of loss/theft of login information on costs incurred by the customer).
Therefore, a quick and easily accessible website is an excellent tool to promote PERFORMER library’s programs and services. In this context, the website may be the first impression that many of our prospective customers will have of our company. The site needs to be optimized to do four things:
– Smart, comprehensive and understandable description of the PERFORMER solution,
– Help the customer solve their problem,
– Convince customers to buy from PERFORMER consortium
– Actually be usable.
Thanks to that, PERFORMER website can be targeted at business leaders, facility managers or local authority personnel, providing them with valuable information which would encourage experts to implement the PERFORMER solution and use it in appropriate and effective way.
– Social Media
When customers are talking in a public forum, it is a great opportunity for us to transparently address any questions or concerns and solve their problem. Therefore, there are times when social media platforms can be used to initiate or respond to contact. Several advantages of these channels can be found, among which are the following features:
– providing an identity to who we are and the products or services that we offer,
– creating relationships with people who might not otherwise know about our product(s) or service(s) or what our companies represent,
– making products “real” to consumers (i.e. not just talking about the latest product news, but sharing manufacturers’ personality with customers),
– using social media to communicate and provide the interaction that consumers look for.
The advantages of social media are well recognized by manufacturers of BEMS who often use these channels to communicate and disseminate information about their product and services. It is worth noting that all examined competitors of the PERFORMER instrumentation toolkit use more than one social media channel to establish direct interactions with their customers.
The most popular social media channels are: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Google+, but several competitors have also decided to promote their products and services through other services, such as RSS, Vimeo, Instagram and XING.
The PERFOMER competitors use these tools to inform current and potential customers about:
– new products and services which contribute to achievement of targets established in public policies and offer good opportunities for reducing energy consumption in buildings,
– new initiatives aimed at improving energy efficiency in the construction sector that are adopted by European and global institutions or local and national governments,
– prognosis, threats and challenges related to global energy consumption,
– reports on energy efficiency in European and non-European countries,
– research projects which examine benefits resulting from implementation of BEMS.
– Call Center and phone
While written communication is fine in many circumstances, it’s definitely not a perfect solution. Communicating with customers over the phone is an effective strategy in many industries when something like email or SMS isn’t possible. This is the reason why many customers call the company on the phone to conduct business or get help.
Another option is the call center. The most important goal of this communication channel is to enable our representatives to actually solve problems so that our employees are empowered to meet the customer’s needs without sounding like a broken record.
While phone calls from the company to the customer serve one purpose, having a call center in which customers can initiate contact themselves is also critically important for seamless communication. The key to a successful call center is responsiveness. If the PERFORMER consortium will not be able to engage enough people to staff the call center, it is possible to offer a callback feature which allows you to then call the customer when lines free up.
– Direct Mail
While it is clear that phone calls are still the most effective means of communication for contact centers, there are cases in which email can provide better results, or even boost the efficiency of your contact centre. Direct mails can be dedicated to e.g. facility managers and local authority personnel directly involved with building. Here are a few situations when sending a written message is advantageous to a phone conversation:
– Sales and offers: customers often get in touch with contact centres to request information about a product or service. While a phone call is the perfect way to answer a customer’s questions immediately, a follow-up email with a personalised offer after a conversation can be a great way to keep the customer’s focus on the product or service, and boost potential sales.
– Detailed step-by-step information: every technical support agent knows it can take a long time to guide users through product or software enquiries over the phone. Sending step-by-step help in an email can save time and energy, and also allows customers the chance to refer back to these emails in the future, instead of calling again.
– Attaching files and screenshots: timely and competent technical support often requires a screenshot or picture of the experienced issue. It is undeniable that email is still the most reliable and easiest way to attach a picture, screenshot or any other visual material that helps describe an issue.
– Paper trail of communication: it is important for both contact Centre agents (especially when dealing with complaint handling) and customers to keep a written trace of communications and exchanged information, both for future reference and proof of what was said.
– Better quality of service: providing a perfect answer requires time, which, with a customer waiting at the other end of the line, is what you don’t always have during a phone call. In sensitive cases, email can be a better communication tool, as it gives enough time for careful phrasing. It is also useful if you need to provide clear and high-quality technical descriptions and information.
For marketers, the prominence of SMS shouldn’t be ignored. While the rules for sending SMS are very different than for other communication channels, SMS and other phone application notification methods are an increasingly important communication channel. According to statistics, text messages have an open rate of 98 percent and nine out of ten messages are opened within three minutes.
Communication via text provides a great all-round service for the customer and business. There’s no expiry date with SMS. It’s a communication channel that works just as well on old phones as it does on the latest smartphone. The networks are reliable and for businesses, few other channels provide the reassurance that time critical messages will be read almost instantly.
– Push Notifications
For less-pressing communication, a push notification via a mobile app can be an unobtrusive way to get in touch with customers. Push notifications are great because they allow you to deliver information without totally infiltrating the customer’s space. They see a notification pop up and can deal with it when they feel the time is right.
– Journals and newspapers
Publishing PERFORMER consulting articles is an important part of getting our name out to the business and marketing world. Becoming acknowledged as a readable, authoritative source is a gold mine. Consultants who get their articles in the right places get contacts, fans, and clients from their writing work. The return on our publishing efforts will yield both short and long-term benefits.
Today, especially with the Internet it is fairly easy to distribute and track the results of your publishing efforts. Consultants should make themselves available to their readership. This means in all our article submissions and PR news releases we should include our email address and links to our website or blog.
Taking this into account, PERFORMER can be promoted in many professional scientific journals and newspapers, local authority press and regional news magazines which offer good opportunities for promotion of the technological solutions created during the project.