From psychological barriers to website blunders, we offer four major reasons your customers still haven’t enrolled in what should be extremely helpful assistance programs. Learn from this two-part series on why enrollment could be suffering, and get ideas on how to boost your awesome program’s numbers.
You’ve identified a billpay problem, spoken to customers in need, determined a solution to help, approved a budget, put plans into action, hired a team of web designers to create beautiful landing pages, and now your awesome program is built. Hooray!
Now all you need are a few folks to sign up and it’s off to the races. Right?
Or, you’ve managed a financial assistance program that’s been around for decades, helping hundreds, or even thousands, of people over the years to maintain economic stability. Well done!
Expert that you are, you know that now, more than ever, your customers need the help of your program–they’re likely being hammered by the COVID-19-related economic downturn, along with millions of other Americans.
So…where are all of those in-need customers? Why aren’t they all flocking to sign up for your program?
The answer is, well, complicated.
We’ve studied a multitude of company websites and data from across sectors to learn what kinds of barriers might account for low enrollment numbers. What we found is that, while plenty of companies out there seem to be doing things right in a lot of areas (and kudos to them!), not everyone is doing everything right all the time.
Even if your company is doing great work, which we’re sure it is, there are probably some key areas where it makes sense to deploy a few easy tools to:
- increase enrollment numbers,
- hit company targets, and
- help more customers
We’ve broken our findings into two bite-sized reads so that you can gain a deeper understanding and focus your efforts with better precision. Without further ado, we bring you Part 1.
People are too stressed out to deal.
According to the New York Times, Americans have been feeling more “stress, anger and worry” lately than in years past–and this comes from a study completed in 2018, so it doesn’t even account for the new, unprecedented levels of grief and anguish around the world caused by COVID-19.
When we’re stressed out, says the Mayo Clinic, we can experience physical problems, like headaches, pain and sleeplessness, as well as behavioral problems, such as angry outbursts and lack of motivation.
Under these conditions, who has the bandwidth to research financial assistance programs or crisis relief services? We’re all just trying to survive.
Many of us are home-schooling children while we try to get some work done. Or we’re laid off and frantic about how to feed our families. We’re tending to our vulnerable older relatives, or dialing into yet another Zoom call, or sewing masks like crazy to donate to front line workers.
If your company’s message isn’t bonking us over the head day in and day out, in other words, we’re most likely not even aware of the awesome services you provide.
No one’s suggesting you actually bonk anyone over the head with anything. We don’t want you to risk annoying your followers, after all. But we do recommend harkening back to your Marketing 101 class and recalling the wisdom of that old, familiar “Rule of 7.” That’s the number of times a customer must be exposed to your brand, service, product or program before a sale–or signup–can ensue.
These days, seven touches are an absolute minimum. With social media and a constant influx of digital information firing at us all day, we need to see and hear about your valuable services over and over again, simply so we know you exist–even when we’re stressed out.
Lighten your customers’ stress load and make signups a cinch by putting the news of your awesome programs out there in the most obvious, easy-to-find places possible. Advertise at the places people already go–schools, churches, community centers (this can all be done virtually, too, even during a pandemic). And be sure to place a big, fat button on your website’s landing page, like the one that the Duquesne Light Company added, shown below, to let folks know, without a shadow of a doubt, about the benefits you’re offering.
Which brings us to our second barrier to enrollment.
(Some) websites are not easily navigable.
In times of economic growth, the last thing on the minds of many boardroom execs are financial assistance programs built for the economically vulnerable. These are programs that cost companies money. They require funding from donors and government resources, or contributions from other customers.
It’s understandable, then, that they’re not necessarily top-of–mind as far as what companies wish to market. And so, it seems, they tend to get buried in the subterranean underbelly of a company website; mere after-thoughts that exist purely in the event of an unlikely scenario…
A global pandemic, for instance.
Much like that dazzling pair of spiked heels you pull from the back of your closet once a year to wear to the company gala, now is the time to pull forth that hidden link to the little-known assistance program your company offers.
Because now, more than ever, is the time to help your customers try to stay afloat.
In our research, we discovered links to assistance programs that were tucked four, five, even six clicks deep in some websites. When we finally arrived at pages that listed available support services, we found even more links–sometimes broken ones, others to external websites that pointed us right back to step zero, so that we ended up on our own again to find out how to get help.
We found 1-800 numbers with instructions to “please call between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. to speak to a representative” about a program, or advice to visit a local non-profit organization for assistance in applying to programs.
It’s almost as if some companies don’t want customers to know their programs exist. Or they want to limit the public’s ability to access available resources.
Which surely can’t be good for lifetime customer loyalty…
We recognize there are government guidelines that companies must comply with, and there’s paperwork that’s unavoidable. Sometimes companies’ hands are tied that way.
But don’t forget that requirements to call 1-800 numbers or show up in person to a place people have never been are major barriers to customer engagement. Especially for younger, tech-savvy consumers, and even more-so during stay-at-home orders, when folks are trying to handle extraordinary amounts of stress.
Today’s consumers, regardless of economic status, are choosy spenders who have grown accustomed to easily navigable websites like the ones they visit frequently (think Netflix and Amazon). Use more of the modern digital tools available to make ease of navigation a priority, such as automated chatbots like Sprint.com uses to guide people through problems, or online forms customers can fill out right away to find out quickly whether they’re even eligible to apply.
Join us again next week for more in-depth coverage of what might be preventing your customers from enrolling in your awesome programs.