Human to human interaction still proves to be the best way to win hearts. Today, Ken Courtright shows some proof that regardless of how you modernize your website and how you think your clients won’t ask any questions, without human interaction, there can be negative feedback. Ken believes that the concept or the psychology behind your customers and clients need to be heard. Through first-hand examples from his own websites, the demand for other companies to pattern their strategies led them to host the first Digital Footprint Conference.
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This is episode number 55. It’s called Need to Be Heard. Bill McCroskey interviewed me on his Outstanding Customer Service Podcast. Some of the questions that Bill asked were outstanding. It made me think and rethink some of the things we’re doing. It also made me immediately change this episode. I want to walk you guys through something that happened to us. It involves the concept or the psychology behind your customers and your clients need to be heard. It’s not a want or a desire. It’s a physical need. Some of you that are reading this know we have two different companies, Today’s Growth and Income Store.
One builds authoritative websites for authorities, maybe executives, authors, ex-NFL players, etc. Anybody that is a true authority in their space, they can write us a check and it takes us 6 to 18 months to build a fairly substantial website and then we split revenue 50/50. Our other company, Income Store, takes people that are not necessarily authorities, but they could be. For people, businesses or private equity firms, we take their money and we go out and buy a website that’s already making money. We bought it at two times earnings and split the revenue 50/50.
In both of these companies, we overlay a consulting performance agreement that says, “For whatever money you put into this project, our average deal sizes in the six figures, we’re going to guarantee a 12% to 22% return on your upfront funds.” It’s a consulting agreement. It almost has nothing to do with the website in question. It’s just to honor the amount of money these people put in anywhere between $40,000 and $4 million per transaction. We have an Act of God clause that says, “If anything happens to this website for any reason, including an Act of God and the revenue starts to drop, we’re going to honor this contract by building or buying you another one with our company operating capital.” Out of 714 websites, we’ve had to use that clause four times. It does happen once in a while.
In 2009, when we first started going into the authority websites, you need to understand that there’s a contract that overlays our deals that guarantees the performance of these big websites we’re building at a high level. It’s a comfortable contract. People can rest knowing that these things are probably going to grow and they know we’ve got a couple of hundred million eyeballs on our stuff every year. I made a stupid decision in 2009 to model Google’s customer service division. There’s probably people laughing right now like I am because some people know that Google doesn’t have a customer service division. They have a help email. Unless you’re spending $10,000 or $20,000 a month in pay-per-click, their help email gets 3 million to 30 million emails a month and then they have a response tree that’s automated. It takes anywhere from a couple of days to twelve weeks to reach a human being if your problem is truly problematic and it can’t be answered with some form of an answer tree.Regardless if the income is great, a business without human customer support can have customer relation problems. Click To Tweet
What I decided to do in my infinite wisdom of customer service in communication, my super deep knowledge and understanding that a customer and client voice needs to be heard, I decided to enact that same type of customer service. For a couple of few years, we ran in a way where people would fund a deal and these are authority people, leaders and executives. We would barely speak to them once they funded a deal because our motto was, and we told them this upfront, that 100% of our payroll budget goes to performance, not communication. We sold them hard that, “Trust us. You would want it this way. You would rather have the asset that we’re building you or buying you growing every month so you can make more money every month than the previous month.”
Here’s the bottom line. I had done episode 54, the one before this, that exposed the top ten reasons someone stays at a company for more than two years. The seventh reason is pay. There are six reasons that show up above pay like feeling part of a team, having their voice heard and being respected. It did not take us long. By month 6, 7 or 8, things were starting to get bumpy because we were starting to get emails in our email helpline that said, “Can I talk to a human being for crying out loud? We gave you guys $100,000 to build us something. Can I talk to somebody?” It’s hard to even admit this is for another 1 to 1.5 years after meeting with our management team, we stayed resolute thinking over time we’re going to win because we would write these long emails back, not an email tree. It would have a good legitimate response.
It would be, “We were listening to your concern. Here’s the marketing we’re doing.” Their sites were growing and there was never a problem with the results. It was just strictly a problem with communication. It took 2.5 full years before we hired our first site partner liaison. It’s a fancy term for a customer service person and it was magical. It was like the parting of the Red Seas. The emails that came in went from people saying, “Can I talk to somebody?” to, “Thank you so much. This person is refreshing. It’s great to talk to someone.” It’s like, “Hallelujah.” We have eleven site partner liaisons. We went from 1 to 11, which for us is huge in the amount of communication points to the number of assets we have in a portfolio. We’re not there yet. We need about twenty but we’re getting there. That’s another story because we’re still focused on performance. We’ve got a lot of contracts with our name on it. Here is probably the most shocking thing that we learned.
One of the reasons we hesitated on that first site partner liaison is we thought we knew what was coming after the sentence, “For crying out loud, can I talk to someone?” We thought maybe they were angry or they wanted to have us change the marketing on their website. They wanted to enact change in what we were building quickly. What we do is specific and it’s scientific. It’s more math than art. What we didn’t want to do is start engaging with the site partner who might be an expert in the NFL or in wine or in furniture, but they weren’t an expert in marketing content. We had a big fear and then we had a management meeting and I explained to our team, “FEAR stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. We don’t know what their concerns are because we haven’t asked them.”
We hired this site partner liaison and to our absolute shock, one of the top five things that the people wanted to know was this, “The site you’ve built us is amazing. Quite frankly, it’s outgrowing the other sites we have in our business that we’ve had longer. We pay people monthly to do search engine optimization in internet marketing. We’ve got these contracts. What we want to know is we’ve got this one site with you that we paid one time for. We never have to pay again, and now we get paid monthly. That site is outgrowing every other site we have with all these other companies that we pay monthly for maintenance and marketing. Can you teach us what you’re doing on your authority site so we can train people internally and cancel all the contracts on the other sites?”
We had no idea that this was one of the top five concerns by these authorities. They wanted our intellectual property to help them truly. Since we weren’t an SEO firm and we’re not an internet marketing company, we certainly weren’t going to start that division and take over those contracts. We started asking ourselves, “We don’t have the ability to teach and train these people and we barely have enough time to keep their one site growing. What can we do here?” Since this was coming from more than one person, we said to ourselves, “It’s way down there, but one of the top 20 to 25 questions we get is, ‘Do you ever hold trainings to teach people what you guys do?’” It wasn’t a common question, but it started becoming more common. As we got to 300, 400 to 500 websites, this question became common. That’s what led us to hold our first Digital Footprint Conference at the Westin Hotel in Los Angeles.
The whole reason we have events is because of your customers and your clients, like our customers and our clients, their voices need to be heard. When we stopped our life long enough to listen, what we heard was, “Can you please come out and hold an event so we could bring our IT department and our marketers to your event? Your team and your employees could teach us what you’re doing so we can go into the marketplace and manage our other web properties while you manage our authority site or our income-generating site.” There’s another step on IncomeStore.com, if you click How It Works, there’s a video on the top right that I’ve never taken down. It shouldn’t even be there because the data and the information are bad, but it has two puppets. It’s one puppet asking another puppet of question and the second puppet answers the question.
Those questions are the top 20 to 40 most commonly asked questions before, during and after a sale of one of our authority websites or income-generating websites. Not only did we hire site partner liaisons, but that’s also only one step. That’s customer service. You’ve got to record and mathematically calculate what your frequently asked questions are and in what order are they the most frequent. You’ve got to be offensive. You’ve got to take offense and you’ve got to build those questions and answers into your sales process setting right expectations. We made a video with a guy in Hollywood with two puppets and it’s in the display. It’s fantastic. We have to update that. We just put twelve new 92nd clips below it because we were sentimentally attached to Professor Hans Von Puppet and his buddy. The title of this episode number 55 is Need to Be Heard. If you don’t stop and listen to what your clients and your customers are asking you.Your number one source of revenue in your business has a 100% chance of dying. Click To Tweet
This goes right to episode number three called How To Read Your Client’s Mind. If you don’t take the time to listen and understand what they’re asking, you’re defeated before you begin. As Greg Reid, one of my mentors told me one time, he goes, “Ken, did you know that 100% of main revenue streams die?” I said, “What do you mean?” He goes, “Take a look at the number one revenue stream on your company.” I go, “I know what it is.” He goes, “It’s going to die.” I go, “Yeah, I know that.” He goes, “The guy that has one job, he’s married and his wife doesn’t work, isn’t that source of revenue going to die?” At some point, I go, “Yeah,” because he’s going to die.” He goes, “Look back 70 years ago at all the biggest companies in the world. Are any of those still in the Fortune 500?” I said, “Good point.” Your number one source of revenue in your business has a 100% chance of dying.
Guess how you can figure out what 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th revenue streams you should jump into. Guess what the quickest way to do it is. Ask your clients what else you guys should sell. Ask your customers what ancillary products or services they would also buy from you. It’s dramatic and it’s massive. We started doing this 3.5 years ago. We do this evaluation once a year and anybody that’s tracked IncomeStore.com has noticed that once a year, the product lines drastically change or get a tweak in a major way to our deliverables and we’ll continue to do this. We have four main product lines and all of it 100% comes from our clients and our customers that come to our annual events and in our campfire meetings in the evenings. We meet in the lobby, we break bread and have a glass of wine, and they ask us, “What are you coming up with next? Have you ever thought of this?” Every product we have today is because a customer or client said, “Have you guys ever thought of building this?” I want everybody to understand that your clients’ and customer’s voices need to be heard. I hope this helps. Take care.
- Today’s Growth
- Income Store
- Episode 54 – past episode
- How To Read Your Client’s Mind – past episode
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