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Archive for May, 2012

Focus your Strategy on Customer Touch-Points

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

There’s a saying I like – where the rubber meets the road. In a business – whether you sell photography, coffee or professional services – the rubber meets the road whenever and wherever a customer interacts with your product or service. These customer-business interfaces are often called touch-points.

Think of those moments for a second. Customer email. Customer phone. Customer face-to-face. Customer enquiry. Customer complaint. Customer invoicing. Customers on social networks (Facebook, Twitter).

There are a huge number of situations where your business has an opportunity (where the rubber meets the road) to put a comforting hand on the customers’ shoulder for reassurance, support and to remind them that you exist.

So you can look at those points strategically and ask yourself what experience, what impressions, what outcomes arise from each of those touch-points? How can you, the business, create value or maximise the customer’s impression of your business (product / service)?

Was the customer treated with less than optimal respect; or, was the customer happy with their treatment? Did the representative at the counter trash the company brand by being curt or petty? Was there an opportunity to use the touch-point as an up-selling or cross-selling opportunity. Could you develop relationships? Could you put coupons or theatre tickets attached to certain invoices as a reward program for continual prompt payment?

Here’s a classic e-marketing example. Somebody registers on your website (a touch-point) and leaves an empty shopping cart with two books (another touch-point). The following week, if the cart remains idle, you could reach out and remind that registered customer that they haven’t revisited the cart – maybe they’re interested in something related, perhaps they were absent-minded? If the cart remains idle, two weeks later you reach out and touch them again to raise awareness of a special deal. One month later you reach out and simply say we appreciate the opportunity to do business and hope they return for the Summer / Winter / Easter Sale.

It’s certainly a different way to look at your business. Rather than seeing it as a simple transaction in the marketplace you refocus onto all those touch-points and hone them into a great experience for the customer. The email gets answered within hours, not days. The social media comment is responded to intelligently – even when it is critical of your mistakes. You continually try to value-add, enhance and influence the minds of the market.

And you do this strategically. You sit down and codify the lot so that you know the exact response time for each touch-point. If you receive a complaint it ceases to be arbitrary… the response is courteous, appreciative of feedback and, if valid, the customer gets some free service or product or other opportunity that will turn them around.

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Henri Cartier-Bresson: Photographer (Book Review)

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

Henri Cartier-Bresson: Photographer

Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004) was a legendary photographer best known for being a father of photojournalism and street photography and for the promotion of a paradigm he called the decisive moment. Along with Brassai, Cartier-Bresson is probably the most influential European photographer of the Twentieth Century, a trained painter, master of photographic composition and a founding member of Magnum.

Yet, the previous brief description is a profound understatement of Henri Cartier-Bresson and the complexity and sheer life experience of the man behind the camera. This review can barely touch on Cartier-Bresson’s life story. To that end, the Internet provides ample anecdotes and history.

My copy of Henri Cartier-Bresson: Photographer is in constant use – a solid 338 pages measuring 30.5 x 29 x 3.3 centimetres and weighs 2.7 kilograms. It is a beautifully made book of 155 black and white photographs and worth absolutely every penny. The photographs within were selected by Cartier-Bresson and he gives insight into many of them during interviews for the documentary Henri Cartier-Bresson: l’amour tout court. This documentary is available on YouTube in five parts – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5.

The book spans work from the whole of Cartier-Bresson’s career and includes photojournalism as well as many iconic photographs made between the employed moments in his life. The prostitutes, the boy on the country road who walked on his hands, the social, tranquil and profound. The documentary mentioned above is great to watch for those explanations behind the photographs, too. It brings many of them to life like personal memoirs – his mother never liked him hanging out with the prostitutes; he took two photographs of the stairs but only showed the one with the child and not the one of the priest; he set up the scene for his most famous photograph – Plate 14: Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare, 1932 – and fired the camera through the hole embracing luck as much as opportunity and preparation. That photograph was also one of his very few crops. It’s arguably said to be the best photograph taken in the Twentieth Century.

In my world Henri Cartier-Bresson: Photographer is everything that I’m looking for in a photography book. It has quality, durability and ongoing fascination.

Commercial Quality Apple & Cinnamon Melomel

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Sometimes an email from a person you respect can lift you out of a creative malaise. I recently gifted my last bottle of year old apple and cinnamon melomel to a friend and this afternoon received feedback.

She wrote:

I wanted to let you know that your Apple & Cinnamon is amongst the best mead I’ve ever tried. I knew it would be nice when I took the cap off, the bouquet was magnificent; I have been in heaven having a sneaky little glass (or four) every night. Honestly, I have a friend who makes mead for a living and he would be proud to produce something like that.

So here I am with an MBA and the ability to produce a fine quality Tasmanian gourmet product at around the $30 price point. I would spend another year perfecting this particular melomel, riding on the back of local vineyards educating the visitor’s palate, and securing consistency of produce in the supply chain to follow through over the next few years with orange melomel, cyser and plain mead. The step to high volume production potential is in mixing a consistent plain mead and fruit juice blend marketed in highly differentiated frosted glass bottles available in four packs or as singles.

However, the Tasmanian government know this scenario could never be the case. I’m unable to be licensed to manufacture or sell fermented products. I’m unable to be a person of influence within an organisation that manufactures or sells fermented products. It’s the same legal barrier that prevent me managing a hotel or running a casino or being a bookie.

Meanwhile, the Tasmanian economy heads down the shitter because Rome burning hasn’t reached the common sense of the populace that there should not be one single local university graduate out of work. We don’t need a government that researches economic development – we need a government that creates an environment where we can do business. We don’t need a government that is one quarter of our State’s labour force. We need a lean, economically vibrant, entrepreneurial, supportive government that cares about small to medium enterprises with the vigour it used to reserve for certain large industry cohorts.

I mean, for Heaven’s sake, don’t Tasmanian politicians see the potential of a burgeoning middle class through India and China? Don’t they realise the small speck of that market that could sustain the Tasmanian economy over the long haul between now and 2030? There are people across the world rethinking their allegiance to the Walmarts and IKEAs. They are cashed up and demand quality products that are unique, hand crafted and have an exotic Tasmanian provenance.

If we can just stop looking inward for a moment we can dig our way out of this pile of crap economic situation. We’ve got the tools AND the talent. We just need the will to enable entrepreneurship and stop locking people like me out.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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