Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Marketing: Things I Learned by Working at the Telephone Company

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Today, we're talking about marketing and some things I learned from my time at two different telecommunications companies. Ready? Grab that pen and notebook and let's get going!

I was lying in bed this morning, my brain ticking away, and for some reason yet unknown to me, my brain attacked my past work experiences in the telecommunications industry. Yeah, okay, I was thinking about marketing and how different approaches yielded different results. For reasons of anonymity, I'm going to call them Company A and Company B. In both companies, I was a customer service representative.

Now, I worked for Company A in 2003ish. I had over a month of training before they'd even allow me to get near a real telephone and consumer. What I learned in training was how to provide customer satisfaction, and how to sell, sell, sell.

You see, Company A gauged performance on sales and disclosure. Problem solving was tickled, but we didn't get down and dirty with how to listen and respond to issues the customer was having. No, we were taught how to turn those issues into sales.

What was unique about Company A is how they taught us to approach the pitch. If you called in with an issue about having a prank caller, I would offer you XYZ product that would allow you to see who was calling and block them or offer you a number change (for a fee, of course).

When a customer called in wanting a cell phone, I was to listen and ascertain how fancy that phone offer should be. Was it someone who appreciated all the bells and whistles, wanted something basic, or wanted the latest and best thing on the market so they had a certain level of status socially? I then sold them a product based on their needs/desires.

Even if you called in and didn't want a cell phone, I was told to prompt you for a story about a scary experience where you had a flat or were worried about your teen. Then, in order to soothe your fears, I was to sell you a mobile device.

There were only three hard and fast rules: 
  1. Don't piss anyone off (because a satisfied customer tells maybe ten people, but a dissatisfied customer tells anyone who'll listen).
  2. Don't lie (that's lawsuit material right there). 
  3. Don't hang up on the customer no matter what (see item one).

I worked for Company B in 2006ish. I had nearly three months of training, the last of which was done talking with actual customers while a coach sat nearby to answer questions or provide guidance, before I was allowed "out on my own." I was trained on how to make the customer happy and give accurate information.

Company B rated performance on customer satisfaction, problem solving, and accuracy of information given. Period. We were taught how to make our customers giddy.

This company's unique approach was not in the customer having the latest and greatest gadget or upgrade, but having the plan that was right for their usage. If you didn't sell anything, that was okay. They wanted people paying for exactly what they needed and no more.

Why? They were looking at it from a retention perspective.

You see, customers aren't profitable for at least two years. If you can't keep your customer around, you lose oodles of money. So, it was still needs based, but it wasn't about the upsell.

I was told to examine every customer's account and make sure they had the plan that worked best for how they used their phones. If that meant removing a product, then so be it. When you hung up, you knew Company B had your back and wasn't trying to price gouge you.

There were only two hard and fast rules:
  1. Listen closely and provide the best customer service possible.
  2. Don't get belligerent or hang up on the customer no matter what.

How does this pertain to book sales?

I'm getting there! Hang with me.

What hit me after I had a little while of contemplation was: Both companies were after customer satisfaction, but one focused on sales while the other focused on retention. Each method worked (they're both huge companies), but the difference in the people working there was astronomical.

At Company A, everyone in the office was on some kind of antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication.
At Company B, everyone was genuinely happy. Every single day.

So, here's what I'm getting at with my lengthy retelling:
If you create a novel that's well written, well edited, and tells a great story, you'll be able to sell it because the level of reader satisfaction rises. Those readers will keep coming back because they know you'll produce a great product and you care about their experience.

But you have to market according to why those readers need to read your book.

Marketing and selling are just phase one. Reader satisfaction is the biggest chunk of pie imaginable. So, focus on the reader and writing a book you know will bring them back for more, and you'll be selling oodles of novels in a short amount of time.

My question for you today is: Why does a reader need to read your book? Give me your best pitch in the comments!

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!


1 comment:

  1. My Book Illusional Reality is different to most of the fantasy novels out there. There is NO stereotyping. So no trolls, faeries, witches or goblins. But Illusional reality is still magical.


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