Note: this is a whitepaper, written by Jeff Finkelstein, that discusses the background of the organization's mission and focus. Jeff Finkelstein is founder of Customer Paradigm is Boulder, Colorado.
More than anything, it's the concept that businesses that are succeeding are the ones that focus on the end user experience.
In the past twenty five years, the world as we know it has dramatically changed.
Those companies that realize that the end customer has a lot more choice in their purchasing decisions on where to buy are the ones succeeding.
The companies that are succeeding are the ones that are solidly embracing this new Customer Paradigm.
Customer Paradigm is both the name of a Web development firm I founded here in Boulder, Colorado in 2002, as well as a concept for customer-centric thinking.
Where the needs of the client (our Web development customers) intersect with the end user, and intersect with our company - that's where we can add the most value.
And because Customer Paradigm (the company) is based in Boulder, Colorado, our goal is to leverage this to make the world a better place. Even if it's just small measures, like saving someone time in the day, or allowing them to find what they are looking for that helps them solve their problems.
We infused this concept into our logo as well:
You can see here the concept of the three concentric, interlocking rings that stand for our company, our client, and their end customer.
Here's a bit of a closer view of how it all interacts:
Yes, this logo is a bit more refined than my drawing above. But that's why we have great web designers on our team. They took my idea and concept and came up with something so much better.
(That said, they'll probably beg me to change this site from a plain non-designed site into something with a lot more bells and whistles. But I like the simplistic view for this whitepaper.)
When I founded Customer Paradigm in 2002, I did so with the idea that I wanted to help businesses focused on their end customers. And help them make the lives of their end customers better. Faster. Easier. Help them find information more easily. Help them avoid pain, embarrassment, and make them succeed.
The name of the organization, Customer Paradigm, is infused with our processes and what we do.
Over time, it's become even more clear to me that this is a path for business success. And not just for us, but for our customers.
I've written this whitepaper as a manifesto. As a document that allows me to communicate out to the world what the Customer Paradigm is all about. Without a lot of flashy graphics andtraditional calls to action. (That said, if you'd like to call, feel free to call me on the phone - 303.473.4400 - I'm always happy to talk. Or visit here and fill out a contact form>>)
My goal in writing this document: I want you, the reader to understand what this Customer Paradigm thing is all about.
What's a Paradigm? It's a framework for understanding.
A Customer? Someone that buys goods or services from someone else.
Put together: the Customer Paradigm is a way to look at customer interactions and design trusted interactions that lead to happy, long term customers.
Before I jump into how to practically apply the Customer Paradigm, I want to jump back in time. And explore how the world has changed from the previous "olden days" of commerce.
In the older days, companies had a tremendous amount of control over the production process. If you owned a factory, you could produce goods in mass production manner. And in a way that completely removed individual, bespoke craftsmen from creating a similar type of product at a reasonable price.
Companies like this had a tremendous amount of control. They could dictate the styles, colors and fashions. The price for entry was huge - starting a large scale factory.
So, they could dictate where someone bought, and pricing.
But in the past twenty five years or so, three major forces have changed the world considerably:
Former protected industries like package delivery, airplane travel, and long distance telephone calls used to be closely regulated by the government.
With deregulation, the shift was made to open these formerly protected industries into more competitive industries.
Now, nobody thinks twice about paying for a long distance phone call, or sending a package.
With more competition, there are more consumer choices. The drawback is that the incentive now for airlines is to cram as many people into a plane as possible and then up-charge for everything from snacks to extra bags and a few inches of legroom.
If you're reading this, chances are that you're looking at this on a screen. (Unless you had someone print this out for you and put it onto paper. Which is okay, but a little wasteful.)
The world that I live in these days is digital. Quite a few of the products I consume are 100% digital.
The Internet is one of the most amazing creations, and connects people in ways that my grandfather - who ran a general store and saloon in Cheyenne, Wyoming - could never have imagined.
I'm a news junkie, for example. I love to be kept up to date with what is going on in the world. Instead of a dead-tree newspaper, I can get news pushed to me through breaking news alerts. Or, I can read curated articles via Flipboard on my iPad, iPhone or computer. Full disclosure: I still do get the Saturday and Sunday New York Times in print - I do like to sit down with a big mug of coffee and read it.
Many of the products I purchase are books or online magazines. Purely digital, and live purely in zeros and ones on hard drives some place.
Most of the work product my team and I create these days is 100% digital. When we build a website, it's just a series of files that live on a Webserver. Images, HTML, CSS, and content that comes in from a database. All digital, unless someone prints it out.
When it comes to photography, I'm a professional photographer. I take about 120,000 images per year, on average. Of those, probably about 8,000 - 12,000 images are ones that I'll show to clients. The rest are a lot of eyes that are blinking or unflattering displays. Of the final images, how many do I actually print? Maybe a 100 or so. Even fewer are the ones that I'll blow up on a big canvas gallery wrap and display. That's probably less than 20 per year.
My point? A tremendous amount of what is produced today is digital. And that means that for me to display an image to 100,000 people, the variable cost of displaying an image to 100,000 people is no different than displaying it to a single person. But imagine trying to print a full color photo and pay to have it distributed to 100,000 people? That's not an inexpensive proposition.
I took an image out of the window of an airplane a few years ago as I was flying by Copper Mountain, Colorado. It was an aerial photo of the mountain, dusted with snow. It was early season, and the resort was trying to get the message out that they had a lot of snow. I sent it to Copper, and they posted it on their Instagram feed of more than 100,000 people.
A company like Customer Paradigm isn't competing just in the Boulder, Colorado area.
We're competing on a national and global basis. Not a day goes by that we don't have people contact the company from India, Europe, Asia, and all across North America.
Instead, we're able to leverage the power of the Web to aggregate customers based on interest (i.e. Magento development) instead of geographic location.
While there are a lot of eCommerce companies in the Colorado area, there's sure a lot more all of the United States, and even across the country.
With a fast-loading, responsive Website, our company can work with customers across the globe. And that opens up really amazing possibilities.
And for customers, what that means is more choice in the marketplace. More companies to work with. So we, at Customer Paradigm, have to be on our toes to compete on a global basis.
Building trust is the key to success. In every day life, and on the Internet, little things matter.
If you walk into a bank, for example, the architecture is laid out in a way that builds trust. You see solid, granite countertops. Lots of heavy, dark wood. Visible cameras, and perhaps a big bank vault door. All of these clues reinforce to you that your money is safe here.
The same thing can be applied online. Make sure that a site loads quickly and looks good on a variety of devices. Make sure that images are crisp and clean; make sure that the design of your site reflects your business well.
If your site looks really dated, and has copy that is old and out of date, customers will then think your company's products and services are old and out of date, too.
Your site is a reflection of your business.
Here's a screenshot of the current top image and layout of the Customer Paradigm corporate site:
A couple of things:
Most important on the home page of the site: our phone number. Why? It instills trust and confidence.
I'm a big fan of using not so subtle clues to build trust and confidence like this.
On our corporate site, CustomerParadigm.com, our phone number is all over the place (it's 303.473.4400 in case you didn't know).
Why plaster a phone number at the top of a site?
Two main reasons:
But for many people, the act of simply picking up the phone is often too high of a commitment activity.
Instead, they would rather fill out a contact form, and shift the psychological burden for us to follow up with them.
As a company, the passive approach: wait for someone to pick up the phone and call us.
A more active approach is to give the end customer a contact form, like the one on this page:
This is one of our Magento Development landing pages. Built into the page layout is a contact form.
Here's a closer look at it the form:
The form is really simple. It asks the "Need to Know" information.
What does our company, Customer Paradigm, need to know in order to contact someone back?
That's it. Not more "nice to have" fields like what is the budget of their project or their address. Do we need that information right now to call them?
No, my team calls or emails everyone back that fills out a form.
I've also found - through customer testing - that the more fields you add to a contact form like this, the more likely people are to not fill it out at all.
Adding just two more fields would decrease the response rate by 60%. Adding in six more fields? Probably an 80% drop off
Okay... now you hit the "Submit" button.
I'm sure you've had the similar experience in the past. You hit a form button and it just says, "Success!" or "Thanks for filling out the form."
That doesn't do a lot to build trust and confidence. Did the form work? Did my information go through? Is anyone paying attention? Sometimes the success message is so subtle that it's tough to see that the form actually submitted.
My personal pet peeve is when the form submits, the site displays a tiny message in red, usually on a black background (so nobody can read the success message), but the end user is presented with a blank form. Which makes them think that the whole thing didn't work.
Instead, use a personalized success page:
This is an example of a personalized success page.
It's not just a message that's added to the existing page. Instead, it's a whole new page.
Again, our phone number is at the top of the page.
The middle headline is personalized with my name, "Jeff." Which I don't mind if someone calls me.
The messaging then reads, "Thanks, Jeff / Thanks for your request to be contacted. We are heere to help."
Awesome! What this says to me is that at least some of the information - my name - that I put on the previous form made it through to this page in the system.
It's subtle, but it puts my mind at ease that at least something seems to be working properly.
Personalization, when done correctly, builds a relationship. And with technology, it's just not that hard to do.
Why am I so obsessed with a simple contact form on a Website? Because trust and confidence are not built just with fancy looking graphics. Pour the same amount of attention into your contact forms that you do to other parts of your business.
Okay... what happens next?
A personalized confirmation email:
So, it might be confusing because this email is actually sent from me, and to me.
But I'm a big believer in company emails like this coming from a real person.
In this case, you'll see it's from me. Reply back, and it goes right to me.
Our logo and phone number are at the top.
The email is personalized with their first and last name.
It's signed from a real person, and it's addressed like you'd receive an email from a real person, too. Not some generic responder that says, "We don't really want to hear from you."
A simple nav bar is at the top, too.
It also has more information about the company, so that by the time someone on my team reaches out and calls them, they know that:
Further, we're training the end customer to receive emails from us. And since so many people use their email inboxes as a filing system, it's another way to have our contact information right in their inbox.
Again, I'm spending a lot of time delving into a basic contact form, and the parts and pieces that are (in my opinion) critical to customer-centric success.
And if we put this much time and thought into a contact form, imagine what a whole eCommerce shopping cart site can look like.
The goal goes well beyond just a simple contact form.
Research has demonstrated that it takes multiple touch points - often 6 to 12 - for someone to go from a browser to a buyer.
I think that if you do things correctly, you can automate some of these critical customer touchpoints.
Step 1. Someone does a Google search and finds out site ranked high in Google search results. That builds trust and confidence already, because Google only ranks sites that are good, right? (wink, wink)
Step 2. They read content on the site that resonates with their needs.
Step 3. They fill out a contact form, and receive a personalized success message. Wow - they're amazed that they received a personalized success screen. Okay. Perhaps they're not amazed. But at some level, they are impressed. And this builds confidence.
Step 4. They receive a personalized email in their inbox, thanking them for their request, and giving contact information for the company. Now most companies don't do this, so it's another small confidence building measure.
Step 5. Someone from our team calls them on the phone or emails them back right away. Wow... that's pretty impressive too. But even more impressive because by the time they talk and interact with a real person, they already have a lot of trust in the organization.
Here's a sample six step process that could work in a customer-centric automation process:
The goal: guide your prospects into paying customers.
But that's not enough. If you want to succeed, the customer acquisition is just the first part of the process.
Otherwise, you're spending all of your time getting new customers, but not taking care of your existing ones.
I've purchased a lot of cars in the past. Enough to know when a car sales person is trying to rip me off by extracting the maximum amount of money from me right now, and doesn't care if I ever come back.
Because chances are, that sales person won't be there next month or next year.
I think that the older-school model of thinking about each purchase a single, isolated transaction is outdated. And it implies a mindset of control over a customer.
The single purchase approach says, "I'm in control, and I'll make it confusing to purchase."
With the Internet, it's a lot easier to find out all of the relevant information about a car before you walk into a dealer. The control has shifted.
If a company focused on the Customer Paradigm, they will focus instead on selling 5 cards per customer for the next 25 years of their purchasing lifecycle.
That's a whole different approach to lifetime customer value:
Lifetime customer value is the calculation of how much a new customer will purchase over their lifetime with you.
It could be one and done. Or it could be start of a relationship.
I hope you understand a bit more about the Customer Paradigm, and how we as a company approach it. As well as how you might be able to leverage and apply these principles for better success in your online business.
Questions? Call Customer Paradigm at 303.473.4400 or visit http://www.CustomerParadigm.com/
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