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Start With The Customer To Get Technology Right

Landscapers love their toys.

 

They have a special affection for “iron,” the vehicles, equipment, and tools of the trade.

 

In addition to making work more efficient, all of that collectively speaks to the strength of the organization.

 

Nowadays, technology has become another signal of success.

 

It’s cool to be tech savvy, but unlike that iron that quietly does its job, technology eats away at your most valuable resource -- time.

 

For this reason, don’t get guilted into trying every single piece of tech that people rave about.

 

Instead, listen to your customers. Here’s why.

 

Where Can Technology Add Value To The Customer Experience?

 

Most customers will never know what goes on behind the scenes to make the landscaping solutions they enjoy possible. The truth is most probably don’t care either.

 

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What they do care about is what they experience, discovering, acquiring and enjoying those solutions. Anything you can do to take that to the next level is a benefit that adds value, and the right technology can be a key factor.

 

Steve Jobs had this to say about technology.

 

“You have to start with the customer experience and work backward to the technology. What incredible benefits can we give to the customer? If mistakes are made it means decisions are being made and that’s good.”

 

Somewhere in your customer experience there are gaps that can be closed with the right technology, and there are abundant technology solutions that can help.

 

Not only that, there are chronic industry obstacles that when removed will make your business stand out from its competitors.

 

To get ideas look no further than earning the trust of leads, prospects, and customers.

 

Technology Should Align with Company Culture

 

Design fees proved to be a chronic obstacle with our landscape customers. So, we did exactly what Steve Jobs suggested, walking our process all the way back to our first point of contact.

 

We smoothed out our talking points to help people understand the value of our design process. Nowadays we can have that conversation in advance with websites, social media, and other content marketing tools.

 

But here’s the thing.

 

Your customer experience may not call for a fancy website. And it may choose to forego social media completely. It all depends how it interacts with and serves its customers.

 

For some businesses, a great CRM that effectively manages customer relationships is a much better investment than a website with all the bells and whistles.

 

The point is that there is no perfect technology.

 

However, there are abundant technology solutions that when paired with your customer experience will move it closer to ideal, to perfection.

 

How do you find those opportunities? Ask your customers big questions, such as how they would buy if they could. They will tell you where you are coming up short?

 

  • Do your salespeople need better customer data for anticipating needs?

 

  • Are seemingly minor service requests falling through the cracks?

 

  • Or are customers asking for faster responses to inquiries?

 

Whatever the problem, it’s likely there are several viable solutions. Here’s how to make the best choice.

 

Prioritize Decision Making Criteria

 

Decision criteria are unique to each and every buyer. Develop a decision criteria template that will make short work of the evaluation process. Here’s my short list.

 

  • Reasonable price and payment terms

 

  • Free trial and onboarding

 

  • Company culture align with ours

 

  • Consistent user experience across devices

 

  • Timely customer communication and support

 

  • Regular technology upgrades and training

 

  • Integrates with related technology solutions

 

  • Gets better with use

 

In my opinion, price is the easiest to check off the list because thanks to cloud computing most technology today is rented, not owned. This allows for flexible pricing and pay as you go terms that are easy on the budget.

 

You should have a warm feeling about your technology provider because they will become a partner that must be committed to your success. As you know, technology breaks. This is why one of my top criteria is working with a company I can reach and trust.

 

[Read more about trusting tech companies: Change Your Game]

 

Another is getting the technology to do what it should with minimal effort. This means providing the right data when and where I need it, on whatever device I happen to be using.

 

Rather than going through all of my criteria, I’ll illustrate this further with a few technology tools I regularly use that work well for my business -- and why.

 

Evernote – Consistent User Experience

 

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As a marketer and customer experience strategist, the most valuable data in my world is information -- ideas, stories, and other customer data. Evernote captures them in the form of web clippings, photos, embedded links to documents, and of course, text notes.

 

Most important, the app synchronizes everything across all of my devices.

 

Evernote allows users to have hundreds of themed notebooks and thousands of tags to make everything easily discoverable. This is what makes it an invaluable tool.

 

After all, what good is information if you cannot find it when you need it?

 

Here are just a few of the ways I use Evernote (*some available only available with the modestly priced premium version).

 

• Daily journaling to capture ideas

 

• Summarizing books read for later access

 

• Tracking client activity

 

• Drafts of articles, presentations, and books

 

• Conversation summaries

 

• Photo ideas, such as unique landscape solutions

 

• Forwarded emails automatically inserted into a notebook*

 

• Capturing countless articles from the web in one click

 

• Retrieving relatable quotes like the one above from Steve Jobs

 

G Suite – Integrates with related technology solutions

 

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G Suite is Google’s suite of cloud computing, productivity and collaboration tools that includes Gmail and Google calendar, among others.

 

When you consider how productivity is driven by email and calendar appointments and reminders, G Suite is worth checking out. It started a decade ago as a service (then Google Apps) for using Gmail on your own domain. Today I have dozens of email aliases using multiple domains and G-Suite manages it all for the same $50 I’ve been paying all these years.

 

Like Evernote, a huge benefit of G Suite is its searchability, frequent updates, and integration with other services, including most cloud-based CRM’s.

 

Spotify – Gets better with use

 

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You may not think of Spotify as a business productivity tool but it can be. When working in coffee shops or on airplanes the right instrumental music keeps me focused and on task. Spotify has endless playlists to choose from, with some of my favorite artists being Marconi Union, Eluvium, and Max Richter.

 

The primary reason I’m loyal to Spotify is that it gets better with use, learning my music tastes to make informed recommendations. As machine learning and AI becomes more universal, the same will be true for all technology solutions.

 

Everyone wants to get better for their customers and the right technology makes that possible if you follow a predictably reliable path like the one outlined here.

 

 

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Jeff Korhan Bio

 

Jeff Korhan is the author of Built-In Social and founder of Landscape Digital Institute. He helps green industry owners, marketers and sales teams craft and communicate branded customer experiences that sell. Learn more at www.landscapedigitalinstitute.com and contact him at jeff@landscapedigitalinstitute.com

 

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