Nurture over Nature: How to Guide Visitors through the Customer Door

customer experienceWe all know the saying, nature over nurture; however, is that true when it comes to the customer journey? Does natural instinct kick in when a customer comes to your website and they automatically know exactly what they are going to buy? The answer is obviously no, we have so many digital distractions on our websites now a days that a customer, unless they have been there before or knows exactly which model or services they are going to buy is going to get lost.  There are millions of businesses on the internet and the way you make your visitors feel on your site and through your other digital presences will make the difference between converting them from leads to customers. The customer journey is not a simple one, but as a business it is your responsibility to help them through the journey.

As businesses, we like the fact that most customers don’t come to an online store knowing exactly what they are going to buy because of the fact it often leads to customers buying additional products from us.

Come on, we have all been there with Amazon, we go for one thing like a new phone charger (the nature factor) and then $100 dollars later we now have a new cutting board shaped like a fish made of bamboo and four other things we didn’t intend to buy and chances are you forgot the phone charger.

But Amazon didn’t just allow nature to put $100s worth of products in your cart, no they nurtured you through different call to actions like New for You or my favorite Inspired by your Shopping Trends.

But how as business owners who may not have the wide-variety of inventory that Amazon has, be selling a service vs. a physical product, how can we turn site visitors into converted customers?

First you will have a little pre-work:

Step 1

  • For Retail Businesses:
    • Do you know what percentage of your site’s visitors put items in their shopping cart but don’t checkout? We have all done it, gone to a website put items in our cart and for whatever reason, whether we decided we didn’t want the items or simply walked away from our computers and closed the tab and just forgot it doesn’t matter – the potential customer still did not convert.
    • Do you know what percentage of those who put items in their shopping cart actually checkout? This number is hopefully much higher than that of the above. A Moz study of retail clients found on average visitors who put items in their cart checked out approximately 30% of the time that means 70% of visitors who had something in their cart did not check-out.
  • For Service-Based Companies:
    • Do you know what percentage of leads are converted into customers who use your service? This is important to know and then dive deeper into the why behind the leads who aren’t being turned into customers?  Is it due to the call to action, the copy overall on your website, the customer service delivery, or even reviews on external websites.
  • For All Business Types:
    • Do you know what percentage of visitors to your site walks through the digital door with a purchase in hand? It is important to note, there are a lot of factors that can skew this number so be prepared for it to be low. You may be surprised to learn that ecommerce as an industry only converts between 2-3% of visitors.

Step 2

  • Now that you have your benchmarks, you will need to set objectives for where you want to be. For example, do you want to increase the percentage of visitors who put items in their cart but don’t check out or is your objective to increase your total site visitors who convert? Be specific when you set these goals.

Now that you know what your benchmarks are and you have determined what your metrics for success are going to be, we can focus on four techniques for getting visitors through the customer door.

  1. General Email Campaigns

Now, not everyone collects emails on their customers, so if you don’t feel free to skip ahead but consider why you don’t have an email list of subscribers, leads, blog followers, etc?

Other companies have massive email lists and the more information you can utilize to develop targeted campaigns the better.

Not everyone has the luxury of having detailed information on their email list but you probably have more information than you think. For example, where did the lead/email come from? Was it through a contest; the website, or an in-person collection?  Where was the form filled out?  Location and source of lead can be great ways to start your targetted email campaign.

When sending out an email campaign, make sure it is segmented by a specific category/customer profiles and then personalized.  Email campaigns that utilize segmented lists have a 50% higher click-through rate. Utilizing segmented email campaigns will also help achieve a higher conversion rate with the next technique.

  1. Automated Email Campaigns

We all get them, emails on a seemingly random basis that offer us different deals for retailers, conferences, products and services at different times of the year.  These emails can come in the form of offering free promoted content such as a whitepapers or eBooks to get us to click to a website or a 40% off coupon.  These deals are extremely effective at making a customer feel personally tied to the brand as they appear to be completely customized to them.

If you plan to run a success email marketing campaign you have to remember you are trying to nurture your customers and show them that you care about them personally.  Automated campaigns can feel extremely cold if you don’t target them to the specific audience you are trying to convert with a specific message that appears personal.

Some techniques that help to drive successful campaigns:

  • Vary your content, this can be through different offerings, different incentives or different calls to action
  • Create a calendar of when your email campaigns are scheduled to run this can be part of your overall digital calendar you create that includes social postings or promotions
  • Utilize an automation tool and set up your varying campaigns through that
  1. Promoted Content

Just like an email campaign can work from some, other business find that promoted content works best.  Case studies, whitepapers, e-Books are all great examples of content, but they can’t stand alone.  Having great content is not the challenge it is getting it seen by your target audience that is the real challenge.  The reason you created this content, free or paid is to drive people to find out more about you and you can do that through a variety of means.

Promoting posts on social media channels in a targeted way can be a great way to introduce you content to a new audience.  Promoted posts can be either paid or unpaid.

If you are sharing content with an Influencer, it is highly recommended that you put a . before the @. Why you ask? If you tweet something at someone without the period, the only people that will see it are people that follow both of you, great if you want to tweet something amongst friends, not so great if you are trying to great viral content.  For example, if I wanted to tweet out the whitepaper I just created on Nature vs. Nurture to someone I think may retweet it  and expand my reach but not have the reach I could say:

  • .@SreWebSolutions check out this new whitepaper I created on #naturevsnurture in #business #internetmarketing

Another technique involves piggybacking on viral topics, trending posts or articles, or feature content.  There are several different ways to do this; however, if you are trying to promote content you have already created there are several tools out there.  I prefer to use Sniply to promote my content within others content because it is simple and I find potential leads are less turned off because the misdirection is less noticeable. This is the nurturing factor, you want to put your content in front of potential leads without them feeling like you are trying to sell them something.

Keys when you are developing promoted content:

  • Make it skimmable
  • Use headlines that encourage someone to pause and read
  • Stick to one problem you are identifying a solution for

The Call to Action (CTA)

Whether you are talking about body copy in your email or copy on your website, a call to action must be specific and must be utilizing the old newspaper term “above the fold” meaning a reader should not have to scroll in the email or on the website to find what you want them to do.  If you take a look at Amazon’s website, New for You is always above the scroll.

You never want to confuse your readers/visitors about what you want them to do because a confused customer is more likely to bounce from the site or not delete the email without clicking through.

Calls to Action must be:

  • Clear
  • Simple
  • Concise

CTAs that are original and directly state what you want the customer to do have a higher CTR and conversion rate than those that are indirect and unoriginal, don’t let your customers find out you borrowed copy from a competitor.  Customers will shy away from CTRs that have “the fine print” at the bottom especially if they feel suckered into paying for something.  Instead you want to go back to the nurturing mindset, make sure they understand there is no commitment this helps build trust.  You also want to make them feel like they are special and you want them, encouraging them to click with an incentive is important.  Remember you are telling them why they should waste their time and even more importantly in today’s day and age, their data, getting to another page.

Your call to action should avoid asking for money until it absolutely necessary

You want your potential customers to ultimately come to the conclusion of buying before you ever have to ask.  Think about it like this, when you go and buy a car you ultimately want to believe you decided what car is right for you and your situation, not have a sales person directly tell you what car you should drive and charge you for features you don’t need, the same should be said online.  It is more challenging to be the guy that gets a customer to buy online because you aren’t typically sitting with the customer and they have the world searchable at their fingertips to find reviews and your competitors.  But your call to action in an advertisement, mailer, email campaign, or direct content your website can help by making the customer question, “Why not you?” for the service.

It’s All About Nurturing your Leads

It’s easy to say you are going to be able to write effective copy, unfortunately not everyone does it. Internet marketing is about making your connections feel special, making them feel like the offer or Call to Action is just for them, internet marketing has to have the personal touch of in-person customer service.  Remember, it is simpler to nurture a lead that is on the fence about buying your product than it is to try and nurture your way into someone’s heart from the get go.  Allow nature to kick-start the process for you and then add the nurturing factor in to seal the deal. 

 

 

#ExtraordinaryHair System

I lo#ExtraordinaryHair VoxBoxve receiving new products to try out. Especially when I have been feeling so stressed at work lately and the weather has been less than spring-like (thankfully it is turning around now). Free hair products are always nice but ones that work are even better! Influenster has really upped their VoxBox game and I am loving it.

Post-Workout Frizz

My Frizzy Hair after a workout before using the product!

I was really excited to be included in the L’Oreal Paris Extraordinary Oil Voxbox fromInfluester this month because I was looking for a change up in my hair routine.

The box included

  • The Advanced Haircare – Extraordinary Oil ShampooExtraordinary Shampoo
  • The Advanced Haircare – Extraordinary Oil ConditionerExtraordinary Condition
  • The Advanced Haircare – Extraordinary Oil Lustrous Oil SerumExtraordinary Oil Serum

The Pros of this Vox:

  • Extraordinary Oil StraightenedI got to try the entire Advanced Haircare Extraordinary Oil System!
    • Sometimes when you try products from other companies you only get one of the system’s products.
  • Full-size products!Again, other companies tend to send you trial sizes and then ask for your opinion. The problem with those for me is when they send me conditioner, I have long thick hair! I use more than the average user who has shorter hair than I do. So I can’t ever get a really good feel of if the product works without going and buying it myself.

The Shampoo:

  • Smells great!
  • Not a lot of bubbles when you suds up your hair.

The Conditioner:

  • I could feel a difference when I combed out my hair that it really worked to detangle.
  • The smell again matched the shampoo smell. It isn’t too overpowering but it is just enough to make it noticeable.

The Oil:

  • I am convinced this is a miracle product!
  • I really enjoyed how it made my hair smell after I put it on. It was like a coconut meets banana to me. I thought this part smell was stronger than that of the shampoo and conditioner but I didn’t mind it. However, if you have a sensitive nose you may want to smell it before you buy it.
  • I definitely noticed a difference in the smoothness of my hair after using it as well.
  • I used the oil in a few different ways:
    • When my hair was wet and I was just going to let it air dry out.
    • When my hair was drying and I was about to use my hair straightener.
    • Both ways I noticed a reduction in my overall frizz!

      Extraordinary Oil Naturally Dry

      My hair noticably less frizzy after I let it air dry!

Overall, this product as a system works great. I think it is one of those that really works well together and is not just a gimmick that you should buy the complete system. Often times I find that I can mix and match products and it works well, but I love the results of using this system and am sold that when I buy it again, I will buy all three products. I would definitely recommend this product for those people who have wavy, long hair that is often frizzy if you don’t do anything with.

 

So glad I got to try these out thanks to Influenster and L’Oreal Paris!

 

"I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes."

#ModaVoxBox from Influenster

#modavoxboxYou know it is a great day when you hear you are going to be getting a new batch of products to try from Influenster.  It becomes an even better day when you come home to that brightly colored box on your porch steps! I came home to find the #ModaVoxBox on my porch a few days ago and I am so excited.  It was so filled to the brim that I had to open the box very carefully as to not have all the goodies spill out.

There is such a variety in this box that it intrigued me as to what the thoughts were in selecting the products that went together. #ModaVoxBox

The first product was Resource water. I love trying this type of a product because normally I am that girl with the athletic Gatorade bottle in her back-up (back in the day when I could carry one) and I always have my bottle with me at the gym.  As someone training for a marathon finding the right kind of pure water is something I am working on and this was a great way to be introduced to a new brand.  I also really liked the design of the bottle – gone are the days when companies could get away with the same bottle all around, now people want to have that Evian or Fuji brand like bottles.  Want to know more about my experience with Resource Water, check out the latest post!

The next product in the box was the new Puffs Soft Pack.  What a cool way for Puffs to stand-out among the competition.  This is something that I can see a lot of parents using in the car because it fits in smaller spaces like the glove box without having to be bent.  It looks just like a single “pocket-pack” of tissues only in full size!  I say this is a win for Puffs!

#swissmisssimplycocoaLiving in Western New York, the weather is turning colder – it has already semi-snowed which is a super scary concept! But what it does mean is that it is Hot Cocoa season.  I am a Swiss Miss girl from the start and I love adding marshmallows to my hot chocolate on a cold winter night, snuggled up with a blanket and good book – the latest book I am reading is Ninja Innovation given to me by one of my awesome co-workers.  Swiss Miss hit the nail on the head with their dark chocolate variety which I had to go out and try when I saw that was the other option of this box! I received the milk chocolate variety!  The picture to the left shows my cookies and cream hot chocolate found via Pinterest!  I have submitted my image for the Facebook Contest and you can too, even if you did not get the #ModaVoxBox.

Jergens Ultra HealingAnother thing that comes with the Western New York weather is dry skin and boy when it hits it hurts, itches, gets rough and all around does not look good.  Thankfully I am not going to have to deal with this because another product in this box was Jergens Moisturizing Lotion.  Even though I do not want the cold to come, I know at least I do not have to worry about fighting off the dry skin throughout the day – just all the transplant to New York drivers in WNY.  Those people are probably better off practicing in a parking lot like us New Yorkers did when we were 16 and newly licensed/permitted before hitting the roads.

The next product in the Vox was #HairFood Moisture Mask.  Now you might be saying “Hair Food?  Wouldn’t that just be a clever name for shampoo or conditioner?”  I would say you are right.  It is genius marketing for a product that is designed for your hair! I have already added it to my shower next to my other hair products and used it Halloween night and boy was my hair soft!  This product is available from Target and it really makes your hair feel silky soft!

Rimmel ScandaleyesFinally this box contained 3 #Rimmel London products to try out.  First was the Scandaleyes Rockin’ Curves Mascara.  The second was #MoistureRenew Lip Liner to go along with the Moisture Renew Lipstick.  I wore this look out for Halloween with the addition of Rimmel Cheek Tint and Blue Eye Shadow to go with my Blue Moon costume and it was a very simple hit! I love changing up my look every once in a while.

"I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes."I am definitely excited about this box as mentioned before because of the wide variety of products in it. There really is something for any occasion!

I received these products from Influenster, complimentary for testing purposes as part of the #ModaVoxBox!  Want to learn more about Influenster, leave me a comment and I will let you know!

The Future is #Flawless: Flawless Future Powered by Ceramide Caplet Serum

#flawlessfutureWho doesn’t want flawless skin? We see commercials every day for products claiming they are giving people flawless skin but you never really know.  I consider myself very fortunate because my skin has always been pretty clear.

fresh faceGrowing up I had friends and family members with acne or other skin problems, I found myself lucky.  I have always taken pretty good care of my skin though.  I wash my face approximately 2 times a day, try and take off all of my makeup every night (though I do not really use concealer, blush or foundations), use a face wash at least once a day and I try and drink plenty of water throughout the day.

 The Elizabeth Arden Flawless Future Caplet Serum has been a great addition to my skin care routine.  So I decided to share my morning routine and how easy this product is to use.  I also wanted to be able to show my readers that it does make a difference.The morning grind

My Morning Routine:

  1. Gym Session
  2. Shower
    • Wash my face with Clean & Clear
  3. Use Clean and Clear Anti-Blemish Lotion
    • I typically only use this in the dryer winter months; in the summer my skin is naturally oily so I avoid adding additional lotion to my face.
  4. Do My Hair for the Work Day
    • This really depends on the amount of time I have.  If I go to the gym then I typically braid back my hair or curl it.
  5. Put on my Make-Up
    • This typically consists of:
      • Mascara
      • Eyeliner
      • Dark Circle Remover
  6. morning routineMorning Coffee/Tea with Breakfast
  7. Get Dressed
  8. Use Elizabeth Arden Flawless Future Caplet Serum
    • I use approximately 2-3 pumps of the stuff and it adds that finishing touch everyone is looking for.

I have been experimenting with using lotion vs. the serum vs. using both.  In the above day I just choose to use both.

#flawlessfutureWhat I really like about the #flawlessfuture serum is that it is very light weight.  When you first put it on initially it has a At the end of the day my skin can sometimes feel extremely oily based on what products I used in the morning but what I like about the Elizabeth Arden version is that it doesn’t give off that feeling.  When I first received the product from Influenster and researched the product I thought – a product for wrinkled and tired skin? Why would a 22 year old need that?  But it is a lot more than a serum for old-age because it allows for your skin to look refreshed which is what a lot of twenty year olds need because they tend to work long-hours, being going to school and studying late at night or for any other reason – every 20 something could use a little refresh.

Think you may be interested in this product, check it out #flawlessfuture for more information.

"I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes."**I received this product from Influenster for testing purposes.  I have expressed my own opinion regarding the product.**

#VitaVoxBox

#vitavoxboxWhat does the word VITALITY actually mean? When I received the news that I would be receiving the Influenster #VitaVoxBox I had to stop and think about what it could actually contain, what products would I be testing and reviewing. Would it be all health and wellness items? Would it be make-up that makes you look younger? Would it be fitness related? What did Vitality mean to Influenster?

Well I loved the box that Influenster came up with for this campaign; however, I am extremely jealous of those who received the Keurig box which included the new Keurig 2.0! I really want to try that new brewer because I make 2-3 cups a day with my single cup Keurig but it can get expensive using multiple K-cups to satisfy that caffeine addiction. But I digress! Included in the #VitaVoxBox was a nice range of products that complimented each other very well. You had things like Playtex Sport Fresh Balance Tampons (you can never have enough of those if you are a girl), Elizabeth Arden Serum for younger lively looking skin, First Degree Burn Cream, a SoftLips cube, Bikini Ready energy gummies, and Pure Leaf Tea.

tamponsI am a big proponent for girls getting free tampons and when they are the ones I use….even better! As an active girl, you really cannot go wrong with Playtex Sport and the Fresh Balance adds a nice soft odor to a sometimes…uncomfortable situation.

#loveofleavesAs a caffeine drinker I like to switch it up between tea and coffee depending on my mood and the day. I have tea K-Cups as well as coffee ones because you never know in the morning if it will feel like a tea kind of day or a big cup of coffee kind of morning (The work world is complicated!). So receiving the Pure Leaf bottle of tea was welcomed because it gave me a nice option to bring iced tea to work and have it during the afternoon slump post-lunch.

Energy GummiesThe Bikini Ready gummies were not something that I would necessarily ever buy myself; I would however, look into trying out the protein powder that they also have in their product line. I love coming home and making a protein shake or smoothie after a nice hard work-out so that would definitely be something I would use. I am hoping that I can earn a top spot in that badge so that I can try out the other products in the line and make a better judgment on the brand as a whole.

The First Degree Burn cream is #burnshappenawesome though I haven’t had to use it yet which I am not complaining about! I have my own aloe plant that Brian and I use if we burn ourselves typically but having an actual cream that you can apply is a nice safety net. We now keep the burn cream in the bathroom for my hair straightener accidents which is super convenient. I cannot count the times I have unfortunately burned my finger with my straightener because I have to keep it on the hottest setting because of my thick hair!

#flawlessfutureI never would have thought that I liked the Elizabeth Arden products but I really like the appearance it gives to my skin. It is not super oily which I tend to have a problem with when using certain products like this because I have naturally oily skin but this works very nicely. It takes approximately two pumps of the serum to cover my whole face. Not that I am trying to make my skin look younger but giving it a fresh look is something every girl wants to have.

Finally the last product in the box – the SoftLips cube! I have carried this with me practically everywhere. I have taken it with me to concerts, to work, to training and to the gym – it is great! My only complaint is that it is an awkward shape to take out in a little clutch or wristlet but if you have a big purse you are golden! It keeps my lips super hydrated and does not make me feel like I have to keep applying more and more like certain other brands who shall remain nameless.

#getcubedI am such a fan of Influenster and the work they are doing serving as a market research distributor to their network of bloggers and social media users. It is such a nice tool for companies to be able to utilize and I am so pleased that I am a part of the process. This is my fourth box so far and I hope to receive many more in the future! I love that I really feel that the box is geared towards me and my interests because as a marketing person, I feel like that is exactly what companies want when they give out free trial products, they want their target user to try the products and get hooked!

*I received these products complimentary of Influenster for marketing research purposes!*

"I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes."

#LoveofLeaves

#loveofleavesNow a days the drink market is one of the fastest growing markets for companies in the food industry. Pepsi and Coke are constantly trying to outbid each other to diversify their product lines by acquiring smaller popular drinks. For example Gatorade is owned by Pepsi. Coke has made recent headlines by bidding for a stake in both Keurig Green Mountain Coffee and Monster Energy Drinks. What does this mean? Well the fact is the carbonated beverage market has been in decline for years while the beverage industry’s product lines are constantly expanding.

The popular brand Lipton is owned by UniLever which also owns products like Dove, Axe, Ben and Jerry’s and Vaseline. A few years back Lipton expanded their tea line to include Pure Leaf Tea. I have been a fan of this team for quite some time but have not been keeping up with UniLever’s marketing campaigns since starting work but I have to say their website looks awesome, especially the page showing off their brand’s most recent spotlights. What is interesting about Pure Leaf’s most recent campaign is that for every tweet, share and post with #LoveofLeaves, the company is donating one dollar to Wholesome Wave. You can check out this campaign, local Farmers Market and so much more on the Love of Leaves website. But hurry there is only a short time left for this marketing campaign and they are approaching the $150,000 goal!

I am really grateful that Influenster introduced me to this campaign (I had heard about the product before but had not heard about this great campaign). The idea of buying local and helping your community is a concept close to my heart and my company’s.

IMG_3399I love that my office, twice a week, is in a location where I can walk across the street to a local Farmer’s Market. It is nice to be able to hand the farmers money rather than paying for the fruits and veggies in the stores. Today was great because I was able to get 5 zucchini, 3 egg plants, 3 bell peppers, a quart of yellow and green beans and a quart of peaches for just sixteen dollars – that is simply unheard of!

I love not having to brew tea in the mornings during the summer just to be able to have it in the afternoon at work. I also like that Pure Leave Tea truly does taste like it was brewed that day and not been sitting in a bottle for months. When I bring it for lunch for that nice caffeine burst to beat the afternoon slump, I like to be able to keep it in the fridge so it really is like a nice iced tea! I recommend trying the Raspberry flavor of the tea. Just as a note I wish like Snapple that Lipton would produce more this tea’s flavors in the diet version because one bottle has 160 calories which is a lot for a drink.

***I received this product complimentary of Influenster for testing purposes. The opinions expressed in this blog are simply my own and created based on my love of blogging!***

"I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes."

Cortese Auto Fraud

ford fusion hybridAs a recent college graduate with my MBA I made my first major purchase as an adult…a car! I was extremely excited to make this purchase but as everyone knows buying a car can be tricky, scary, exciting, exhilarating and many other words.

It was also sad because it meant that I was getting rid of my college car, my 2008 Ford Fusion. During the last four years Pearl (my car’s name) has gotten me through my college experience, has taken me over 30,000 miles, gone on a East Coast road trip with my best friend and gotten a few bumps along the way.  The car had been my high school graduation present from my mom though I had paid a portion of it because my mom wanted me to feel responsible for it.  Looking back on it, I think that was a great way for a parent to teach their child responsibility for such a big purchase.

So I did my research about the types of car I wanted to get, I had had a few months to think about it but knew in the end I wanted a Ford Fusion again but this time I wanted a Hybrid.  I had reached out to a few dealerships online because I wanted to test the waters and I wasn’t sure if I wanted a 2013 used or 2014 new.  Cortese Auto returned my email though I had to delay going into the dealership a few times because of finals, graduation and vacation.  I stated in my initial email that I wanted to be able to look at 2013 and 2014 cars.  Cortese received a 2013 with less than 9000 miles on it in early May.  I will say the person who handled all my initial emails, Jill, was great.

do not buy from themAnyway, I went in Monday, June 9th to test drive, look at and ask questions.  I went alone because I felt that it was my decision and no one else’s. Sadly I should have taken my mom with me as she has much more experience buying cars.  When I sat in the chair the salesperson who will remain nameless was very nice but threw a lot of options at me very quickly.  I am a fast learner; however, when my questions were redirected with another question and told “let me look that up for you in a second” and then would conveniently forget and I would ask again and he would do the same thing.  Don’t get me wrong, he was extremely pleasant but is it all an act?

One of the extras I did end up buying was a package that would provide lifetime rust protection and paint protection.  Living in Upstate New York and relocating to Western New York in the next month we get a lot of snow and there is a lot of salt on the road.  These things will cause rust and did on my old car.  With this being my first major investment, I wanted to make sure that I could protect it – this was something I think was money well spent.  We will see when I go to trade the car in if it is still worth it.  When I left the shop I felt good and was told that it would be ready by Wednesday.

rust proof for new carsTuesday came and just as I got back from the gym I had a message on my phone that said I could come by and finalize everything and pick up the car at 3pm.  I was excited a little anxious but mostly looking forward to the new car. When I arrived at Cortese Ford I thought everything would be all set and done which was what I had been led to believe the day before.  That included the Ziebart package I was about to purchase  But to my surprise when I arrived they said I would have to return to the shop later that week to get the work done which would take about half a day.  RED FLAG….I was not happy.  Then I asked if they had figured out if I could have the yearly work done in Buffalo at a Ziebart location, he hadn’t been able reach them he said but would try again.  I also wanted to know if my car qualified for lifetime warranty or just 10 years….sadly he never answered that question and had to send a follow-up email.  The response was that the lifetime warranty was my “I’m sorry” present for what happened the next day.

When I went into the financial person’s room…I should have done more preparation about this part and the questions they were going to ask me.  I had no preparation about what to say with extended warranties and what it meant with my already existing warranty.  In my head I didn’t understand when everything on my car was under warranty why I would need an extended warranty already?  car warrantiesBut being a first time car buyer….who for the first time in my life didn’t do their research in this area, wasn’t sure.  So I asked the guy what was different than my current warranty, why would I need an extended warranty when I had one already and could I purchase this at a later date.  The guy scooted around all of those questions and I was over-whelmed and didn’t realize that he didn’t really answer the questions.  So stupidly, I bought the extended warranty which bumped my month payments up quite a few dollars considering I could have waited the year and ten months that is still on my warranty.  Thank you jerk….I really appreciate being taken advantage of.

When I brought the car back the next day, I took it in around 12.  I was told that it was between a 5-6 hour job so my car would be ready by 6 at the latest.  Cortese provided a shuttle to and from the shop but the shuttle would stop at 5.  My sales rep guaranteed that he would find me a way to get me car if it was after the shuttle hours.  So the hours ticked by I cleaned up my apartment sorted through some things and did some odd chores.  By the time 6pm rolled around I was getting antsy.  I knew that Ziebart closed at 6 so my car should have been done by that point.  I tried calling my rep’s desk and cell phone to no answer, Ziebart didn’t pick up (why would they, they were closed for the day) and then I tried the dealership and was transferred to my sales rep’s desk phone where I had to leave a voicemail.  By that time it was almost 620 and I had no clue where my car was and could not get an answer out of anyone.  Then Ziebart called me to let me know my car would be ready in 10 minutes and I could come pick it up…well that would be nice if I had a car.  I told the woman on the phone that she had my only ride on their property and she was really nice about it but let me know that their shuttle driver had just left for the day but she was going to contact my Cortese and see what they could do.  She called back less than five minutes later and told me she had spoken to my sales rep (funny he hadn’t called me back) and that they were going to try and figure out a way to get me my car.

That was the last I heard from anyone about my car until after 8pm.  My sales rep finally called me and said “it was out of his control” and he was very angry with Ziebart but he was responsible and was talking to his manager how to make it up to me.  First rule of customer service always outright take responsibility don’t point the finger.  My sales rep also told me he was still looking for a ride to get me.  Typically I would walk since it was only 1.7 miles but it was pouring rain and by that point it was after 8pm.  The guy finally called me back after 845 to let me know that he had found me a ride and that I would have to drive my ride back to the dealership after he dropped my car off…..wait what?

Now I could not take it out on Chris who dropped my car off.  He was great and said that my sales rep was steaming mad about the situation back at the office but at that point I was pissed at the whole process.  What bothered me even more was that he told me that he had clients who get the Ziebart full package and it is done in the time it takes for them to go across the street and see a movie at the dollar theatre.  That just made me even more ticked and annoyed.  So after over 9 hours of not having my car….I finally had my car back, that does not even seem possible about why they would need the car so long!

Follow-up the terrible buying experience with the terrible paperwork experience that followed with my loan.  Cortese’s workers mis-placed my loan paperwork or did not file it properly with the bank so for about a month, the bank had no record of loan and I could not make a payment and I was worried that it would get processed without my knowledge.  When I tried to email Cortese, my emails went unanswered.

Finally when I did get the paperwork processed with the bank, I was ready to refinance my loan at a lower rate with M&T Bank but it was about 2 months later and I still had not received my title.  Now, I understand that the title is not the dealership’s fault and is the DMVs task; however, Cortese told me that the title was going to come to their dealership and then they could send it to my new address because I was moving before it would come.  Thankfully I received a package at my old address because my title arrived at my old apartment and it is a document that cannot be forwarded – this was without word from Cortese.

Another problem: the title had no lien on it.  When I showed M&T the title as I was apply for the loan, they were extremely confused and said that I had a right to consult the dealership about not owing them money. I was not ready to not make payments on a vehicle I had signed a contract for, I was not willing to commit auto fraud.  I am also not one for confrontation so I just called Cortese to tell them how much time I had spent correcting their mistakes hoping they would try to make me happy.  The manager blamed other people for the mistakes that happened, said my emails were never received and offered me no way to make it up to me.  I was in shock that they offered me nothing.  That sealed the deal – this post was going to go live!

I wish companies realized the Lifetime Value of a Customer.  My sales rep tried to explain that they believe in the lifetime customer and want customers to return for future car purchases and encourage their friends and family to come to them for their car purchases.  I mean if Cortese was smart they would have realized that if you give customers the absolute best deal, lay everything out up front you are going to have more people talking about their business around town, sharing online about them, building up their search engine traffic which will lead to more new business and more repeat business.

If customers value the service that they receive and the time the sales reps take – they will return – it is a simple fact of life.  However, I really liked the service team who had done work on my previous car and sadly learned that the sales people can’t back it up.  The lifetime value of an auto customer who buys their first car at 22 when you think about it could be limitless because if they talk about the great service, care and people at the dealership their friends and family are more likely to check it out.  And a 22 year old will most likely own anywhere from 7-12 cars in their lifetime plus their future family member’s cars and as they become more established buy more and more expensive cars.  Their value to that dealership just increased especially when you add in body shop repairs or regular service appoints.  There are so many trusting people out there, I don’t like to barter, I am not a big gambler and I like what I like and am willing to pay the price to get it….which made me an easy target for the dealership…congratulations, you won one car off me and lost my lifetime business in both service and sales (after I get my 2 free oil changes and tire rotations).

In the end, I will not be buying another car from Cortese Auto in Rochester again.  They took advantage of me being a first time car buyer who was alone and was female…they lived up to the stereotypes of car salesmen and sadly I lived up to being the stereotypical female auto buyer.  I really do like the service team at Cortese, they have been awesome with my car troubles in the past and I have no complaints about them.  But the sales team I found ruined the dealership for me.  I hope Ford knows you are a poor reflection on their company.

So Here Are My Tips for Buying a Car…Ladies:

  1. Bring someone with you that is not invested in the purchase or who has been through the car buying process before.
  2. Don’t be afraid to walk, dealerships are looking out for #1 first.  They want to make as much money off of you as possible.
  3. You do not need to buy an extended warranty up front.  Save yourself the initial payments until the warranty on the car is about to expire.
  4. Understand what questions they are going to ask you because they try to throw a lot at you at once to try and confuse you, frazzle you and make you make impulsive decisions.
  5. Know what you want going in.  Know the options that are available to you if you are buying a new car.
  6. Look around the dealership lot in the evening with out a dealer.  This helps you get a feel of what you want and like without someone breathing down your neck.
  7. Don’t fall in love with a car until you have been dealing with the dealership for a couple of days, I was too anxious.

I hope that others can learn from my experiences.  I am typically not one to rant about a bad business but this was my experience with a “dirty” dealership who continued the stereotype for car salesmen.

***Update: After the printing of this post, the GM for Cortese Ford reached out to me to try and apologize for the situation.  He was very kind and explained that this was not how they do typical business and how the average consumers experience with Cortese goes.  Unfortunately I had to see the poor end of the process with things seemingly going wrong at every phase.  It was nice to see that my blog had an impact and that they did notice that there was a very disgruntled customer out there.  I appreciated his apology as he did not try to make excuses for his team but tried to make it up to me, at least a little, in whatever ways he could.

Welcome to the 8-5 Life

M&T MDPSo, by now I bet you are wondering how my first week on the job went and I do apologize for the delay, I have been trying to adapt to my new schedule and my new life in the real world better known as the work life! This basically involves waking up earlier than I have since high school, trying to fit in a workout before work to get the juices flowing, spending the 8-5 at least at the office and then coming home or heading to the gym or to a gathering with friends, making dinner and basically enjoying life without studying; however, in this adjustment period to my new work life balance I haven’t had much time to work on my blog; however, I have begun to adjust to less sleep and longer days (without a nap). So without further delay, after an amazing first day of orientation I was definitely ready to start work and meet the team I would be working with for at least the next year.

I think if you are going to be following my blog about the MDP program for the next year, I think it is important to give you some background knowledge about the program.  Unlike many company’s college-to-work programs that are rotational based meaning the company puts you in a rotation throughout different departments to find out where you like to work, M&T’s Management Training Program is different.  M&T hires their college graduates into specific roles that the bank needs to fill.  But really what is the difference from the other programs, what makes M&T stand-out in the crowd?  The biggest difference at the end of the day is that you are working in the department that hired you for the entire year and beyond.  Maybe this does not sound so different from the other programs but it is, trust me.  The major advantage of MDP is that you are hired into a role you would be doing regardless of the MDP title.  And you are also not trying to win a spot or compete with the others in the program.

collaborationM&T is an extremely collaborative environment and one of their focuses is on working together.  The goal is to be the best bank and while friendly competition can be good, if you have a group of fresh hires competing to still be with the bank in a year you will not get as high quality and collaborative work because these new hires will be trying to outshine each other on a daily basis.  Think about it like the movie The Internship (if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it), MDP is not an internship; however, that large group of interns from the movie internally fought to outshine the others to win a spot at the company the following year.  At M&T you are being watched, judged based on your quality of work and making the bank better, not about outshining other employees.  The other rotational programs to me, though great in their own ways, make it seem more like an internship than a full-time job that you will continue after the program.  Some people may question how MDP is different than just being hired full-time and the main difference is that approximately one week out of the month, we are in training learning about different departments in the bank. M&T brings in speakers from across the different departments, often Vice-Presidents and upper management to talk to the MDP class about their part in making M&T as successful as it is.

So, now that you know a little more about MDP I can tell you about my first week OTJ (on the job).

My first day in the office was extremely interesting because unknown to me, I was coming into the bank on the day of a major reorg (re-organization) of my entire department.  M&T recently brought in for the first time ever a CTO (Chief Technology Officer) which was a major milestone for the bank and very likely will change the bank forever.  Julieta Ross is coming into the bank with fresh ideas and opinions and she is only getting started as she has been at the bank for about two and a half months now.  I am excited to be a part of the changes that are happening at M&T especially within the technology department.

But going back to that first day on the job, there was a team meeting at the end of the day where it was announced my boss of one day was moving to a different department within the bank.  I was stunned because I had been communicating for the last six months with this one person who at the time was really my one connection (who I had communicated frequently with) within the bank.  After going home and have a mild freak out about making the right decision to join the bank, I realized that this could be a good thing because while everyone else was unsure in my department, I was new and did not know the old structure – this new M&T Technology department was simply the technology department to me.  This was my chance to see the upper management at the bank handle change management a word that was used many times during my MBA studies.

Change management is something that not every organization is good at.  Within M&T change can be hard because of as previously mentioned in my last post, our tenure. We have employees who have been with the company since they started their careers thirty plus years ago.  Some employees have been following the same processes for their entire careers so change is hard.  Think of the movie Office Space, there are going to be employees in every organization that do not like change and really struggle.  It is up to the organization to wait to implement change until the employees retire, proactively reach out to the struggling employees and guide them through the change or watch the employees struggle through on their own (I would not necessarily recommend this method but it is practiced at some companies).  All three methods have costs associated with them and I am excited to see how M&T handles change management and I am fortunate to have a front-row seat within technology.

business wearSo after such an eventful first day, the rest of the week was pretty much an ordinary start for an employee.  I attended several meetings, listened in on conference calls, learned the different systems and environments I would be using and worked on the compliance on-boarding training that is required of all new employees at the bank.  It was a fairly ordinary first week I think and I was able to make a lot of contacts in the bank, sit down and talk face-to-face with people who I had spoken with either on the phone or through email since accepting my offer and had some amazingly supportive members of the team help to train me on our different systems, so I was very fortunate with that.

After a busy first week at the office it was time for an even crazier weekend of making the three hour trip home to move the furniture from my mom’s house which you can read about that journey in my Relocation post.  Though Brian and I may have been tired we were excited to be able to see my family and eventually have furniture in our house!  One Lazy Boy chair and all my clothes in boxes was getting old pretty quick!  It was setting up to be a gorgeous day for a drive home and calm night and my mom was grilling ribs, had some of my summer favorites ready and had the outdoor movie set-up and ready for Anchorman 2; as well as, an assortment of toppings for s’mores including Reece’s cups, Hershey Bars, Oreos (three different kinds) and my childhood favorite movie candy, gummies from the bulk section of the grocery store as an addition to the gummies!  What, I am a child at heart when it comes to my sweets!

Stay tuned because week two of my career at M&T is the first week of MDP training and it is shaping up to be an exciting week filled with new faces and new experiences including the networking happy hour.

***This blog is in no way endorsed by M&T, this is simply created by a girl with a blog who loves to share what is going on in her life. The opinions expressed are 100% my own.***

#MullerQuaker

Over the last year since having my own apartment I have been on a quest to try all the different brands of Greek Yogurt out there! Before I began this “journey” I was only buying Chobani.  I love the company and what they try to stand for.  I like helping out a “local” company from NY, even though now they have become a household name around the country.  I love that Greek Yogurt lasts longer than regular yogurt, has more protein and is so much creamier.  But who really does have the best flavor, texture, variety, etc of Greek Yogurt.  Everyone’s tastes are going to be different.  My boyfriend used to say he didn’t like Greek Yogurt; however, I have gotten him to like the Creamy Wegman’s Greek Yogurt.

Here is my top 2 brands of Greek Yogurt to date (in no particular order):

  • Oikos
    • But not the Fruit on the Bottom Variety but that is because I don’t really like fruit on the bottom yogurt in general.
    • I love the Cafe Latte Flavor and the Lemon Meringue!
  • Chobani
    • I use to not want to but the 2% but in the scheme of things that really doesn’t make a huge difference!
    • I love the blood orange and the chocolate chip flavors (only available in the chobani champions or the larger tub)!

As a special treat to myself because they are a little more expensive than I would like to spend on yogurt, I will buy:

  • Yopa
  • Powerful Yogurt
    • The option has extra protein on top of the extra protein Greek Yogurt already has in it!

I am not a huge fan of the following popular brands of yogurt:

  • Fage
  • Yoplait Greek 100 Calories
    • I just find it not as creamy as other brands and tastes almost watered down.

So when I received a coupon for Muller Quaker yogurt as part of my #GoVoxBox, naturally I was driven to try the Greek variety.  I have tried a few of the flavors of Muller Quaker before.  When Chobani released their version of the corner I had to compare.  But this time I went for the apricot variety in the greek corner.  The flavor is really called Honeyed Apricot Greek Corner.  I really liked it! I will be adding Muller to top three brands of Greek Yogurt and will be buying more in the future.

I want to add the only product that I did receive for testing was Muller Quaker, the other brands are not a part of this Vox Box that I received through Influenster. 

"I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes."

#GoProFoot

By playing college sports or sports in general it would be nearly impossible to say that you have perfect feet.  I did not see the point of getting regular pedicures during season because frankly on a student budget, even though I worked through school, I was not willing to ruin a perfectly good pedicure by shoving it into my basketball shoes for two hours+ of practice and workouts six times a week.  That did not make practical sense to me.  So I would get one pedicure to celebrate the beginning of season and then another to celebrate the end of the season.

#goprofootMy super high arches had also created an awkward wear in all of my shoes and led to me getting custom orthodics during my freshman year when my blisters had gotten so bad I couldn’t make it through simple drills and even walking normally to class.  My amazing trainer was there for me and my feet during all four years and I was also always looking out for new products that would work to reduce callouses, blisters, dry skin, etc.

So why am I telling this terrible tale about how bad my feet are? Well in my latest vox box from Influenster I received two new products to try out for my feet! As a newly appointed NARP (none athletic regular person) I am constantly discovering new ways to workout that do not relate to basketball.  I have dedicated basically my whole life to training for basketball and now I am able to workout and train on my terms but that also means without Missy’s help to watch my feet.  So, receiving new feet related products to try out is a big bonus to me….even bigger when they work!

IMG_3067The first product that I received was the Triad Orthodic.  Now as someone who only wears orthodics in my basketball shoes and only has custom orthodics for her high intensity workouts with a lot of agility movements (aka basketball workouts) I was a little hesitate to even try them out.  I have to say that they are really nice for walking around; however, I would never do a long workout in them because they are a 6-10 size (I wear a 10.5 in most of my athletic shoes) and they do not hit the balls of my feet correctly but they are nice as a backup for my shorter workout shoes just to add the extra support.  The orthodics also feel very nice on the heel but my high arches create an problem for off-the-shelf products.

The second product on the other hand is great! The pedi-rock may be like my new best friend.  It forms to your feet and works to scrap off that hard dead skin and make your feet nice and smooth.  The pedi-rock is a softer foam like material that forms to your feet so you can get the perfect feet.  I would highly recommend this type of product for anyone with callouses.  Just as a side not, remember do not try and scrap off blisters until they have drained and dried out – you could cause infection and worse problems for yourself. pampering myself

I love being pampered and getting pedicures every once in awhile but the pedi-rock may be a close second but I will definitely not stop getting regular pedis because I still like to have someone else work their magic on my athletic feet.  What girl doesn’t love to be pampered?  "I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes."