Tag: customer service

Who’s the Boss?

By George Obst, Certified SCORE Mentor

Who’s the boss? Your true boss is your customer.

English: A business ideally is continually see...
A business ideally is continually seeking feedback from customers: are the products helpful? Are their needs being met? Constructive criticism helps marketers adjust offerings to meet customer needs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A customer-driven organization is constantly improving because the ownership and management is trained to hear the customer’s voice. The two questions consistently asked of customers are; “how are we doing, and how can we do better.”

This spirit of continuous listening to customers occurs with all managers and employees who have customer contact. Each person is trained to listen and hear the voice of the customer.
We may think we hear the customers through their verbalization of complaints. But the fact is most customers just don’t complain when they have an issue. The reasons are simple:

  1. Customers think complaining won’t do any good.
  2. Complaining is difficult. It takes time and has to be done with planning and thought.
  3. Customers feel awkward or pushy. Many customers are introverted and are not comfortable complaining.
  4. It’s just easier for some customers to switch their purchasing to a different supplier rather than to complain.

Recognizing that customers may not complain and just go away should lead the organization to implement a formal and informal customer communications and listening program.

In an existing company, transition to a customer driven organization is a process by which people unplug from the old ways of doing things and plug into a new world of customer communications and listening skills.

If an entrepreneur is starting a business, it means setting up both formal and informal customer communications and listening programs from the outset of the enterprise.

In either case the organization needs to “walk in the customers’ shoes”.

The many ways to romance the customer include:

  1. Create customer focus groups who are interviewed about your services and the competitors.
  2. Physically making periodic visits to new and old customers where possible, or at the very least visit customers through e mail communications.
  3. Mean what you say to customers. Don’t mislead customers by promising more than you can deliver.
  4. Teach every employee to visualize the customers’ experiences so that they see your products and services through the eyes of your customers.

Owners and leaders who spend quality time creating this customer environment will lose fewer customers and do more business with existing customers. The result will be greater sales and profit growth.

SCORE, a resource partner of the US Small Business Administration, can help you develop a customer driven organization. SCORE has more than 70 certified mentors skilled in most business applications, who will meet with you, at no cost, as often as you feel it is beneficial. Call 602 745-7250 or click here to make your appointment with a SCORE mentor today.

About the Author:

George Obst, Certified SCORE MentorGeorge Obst is a Certified SCORE mentor with more than 30 years experience profitably managing and growing businesses, including start-ups, purchasing, financing and selling businesses.




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The Bee-Attitudes, 10 Keys for Customer Service

By Roger Robinson, Ph. D. Certified Score Mentor

Bee-Attitudes - keys for customer service

We all know that success in business is a direct function of customer service. We constantly implore our associate to exceed customer expectations. But do we ever teach them how. Following are some hints based on over 50 successful years in business. We called them our ten Bee-Attitudes, our keys to providing absolutely awesome customer service.

  1. Be friendly, greet every customer sincerely when they enter your business or shortly thereafter. Make them feel welcome. Wear a smile, put a smile in your voice. They will notice.
  2. Be identifiable, always wear your business identity. Customers want to know who you are and who to call if they need assistance. Easy identification of associates may prevent a customer from becoming confused and just walking out.
  3. Be presentable, convey your professionalism and pride in the way you present yourself. Keep yourself and your business neat, clean and well organized inside and outside.
  4. Be informed, know what goes on at your business. The more information you convey to your customers, the more confident they will be in your products and services.
  5. Be effective, process customer transactions smoothly, efficiently and courteously. Make their experience enjoyable. The customer is your boss, s/he pays your salary.
  6. Be helpful, suggest additional purchases. Customers are often overwhelmed or uniformed about all you can do for them.
  7. Be agreeable and helpful. Handle complaints courteously. The customer may not always be right but s/he is always the customer. No customers, no jobs.
  8. Be positive, acknowledge customers as they leave. Whether they have spent money or not they should be appreciated. They will remember how well they were treated. Your last transaction with a customer becomes that customer’s lasting impression of your business.
  9. Be conscientious, maintain an awareness or your customers, answer questions helpfully. Convey to them in words and actions that they are your most important priority.
  10. Be professional, thank customers and invite them to return.  Customers don’t want to be taken for granted, convey your appreciation to them. Create a lasting impression that will make them want to come back. Treat them as you would like to be treated. Make your goal absolutely awesome service, exceed their expectations.

About the Author:

Roger_RobinsonRoger Robinson, PhD has been a SCORE mentor for over 16 years. His specialties include non-profits, business planning, specifically in restaurants and hospitality, recreational and arts
and Entertainment verticals. Read more about Roger here. Click here to schedule a free mentoring session with Roger or another SCORE mentor.

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What Business Are You Really In?

By Roger Robinson, Ph.D., Certified Score Mentor

We Mean Business

Mentoring clients, particularly new clients, invariably reaches a roadblock when you ask them to explain the business they are actually in. The usual responses tend to be in terms of what they do, not the benefit they provide their customer/client, i.e. what the customer/client really wants. For example someone who applies paint to the inside or outside of a home usually describes themselves as painters. But if that is all the customer really wants, could they not do that themselves? As my late colleague, Marty Robbins, often pointed out, they are really in the business or creating an ambiance, an environment, new surroundings for their customer.

Let me give you further examples, if you ask the airlines what business they are in, the usual responses center around transportation. Granted that is important, but is that the first and foremost factor on the minds of most fliers? From my point of view the real business of airlines is “live arrivals”! After all what is more important then arriving safely on terra firma. After that occurs, then all the other issues such as timeliness, luggage, comfort, etc, come into play.

Another example is what business are hospitals in? Sure their business focus is health, but as a patient what do I want most? How about “live departures”? What is more important then being able to walk out of these institutions? That clearly is my goal. Some further examples are what business are the railroads in? Of course they run trains, but for what purpose? How about “stuff movers”.  Or newspapers? Surely their business is not news, today we get that news immediately from our phones or our TV, etc. I like to think of newspapers as “sources of information”. Even Disney will tell you that they are not in the parks business, they are in the business of “making people happy”.

So what is the key to understanding what business you are really in? From my point of view it is understanding WIIFM from the customer/clients point of view. What is WIIFM? It stands for “What’s In It For Me.” Always bear in mind that every customer/client when appraising your product or service, asks him/herself this question “WIIFM?”

About the Author:

Roger_RobinsonRoger Robinson, PhD has been a SCORE mentor for over 16 years. His specialties include non-profits, business planning, specifically in restaurants and hospitality, recreational and arts
and Entertainment verticals. Read more about Roger here. Click here to schedule a free mentoring session with Roger or another SCORE mentor.



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Close Contact: Make it Easy for Customers to Get in Touch

By Jessica Spart, Godaddy

Is your method of communication antiquated?
Is your method of communication antiquated?

One of the biggest obstacles in any relationship is a lack of communication. How frustrating is it not to be able to connect when you want to talk to someone? We’ve all been there. In business, frustrations can mount when your customers can’t easily contact you.

This usually happens when your business’s contact information isn’t clearly visible on your website and easily findable when searching online. Because that’s how most people look for businesses nowadays. And if your customers can’t find a way to contact you quickly, or worse, they can’t find any contact info for your business at all, they are pretty likely to just stop trying and move on.

Prevent them from taking their business elsewhere because they can’t connect with you quickly and easily. Here’s how:

Give your contact information a place of prominence on your home page.

You don’t want your customers to have to search for your the best way to contact you when they land on your website. Whether you prefer a phone number or email address, be sure to make this info available at first glance — and include your primary contact information on every page of your website. Want more best practice tips for website content? Click here.

Include a Contact page on your website.

Yes, you do need a separate page dedicated to your contact information. Make it simple for customers who want to contact you with a tab on your home page that leads to a page with all of your business’s contact information — phone, email, fax, street address, etc. — plus a contact form they can submit with one click.

Set up a business-class email address.

In our digital age, email is the most common way we communicate. It’s fast and convenient — most people can access their email via their mobile phones, anywhere, anytime. So it just makes sense that your customers will want to reach out to you through email. Make it easy for them.

Set up an email address that leverages your business’s domain name. For example, instead of a generic address like joesbows@gmail.com, you might use joe@joesbows.com (if joesbows.com is your website address). In addition to helping your brand, a business-class email address will be easier for your customers to remember.

Bonus: Business-class email also can make you more productive and boost your credibility.

Leverage your social media profiles.

Include your contact information on all of your social media sites to help customers find your information no matter where they are. Twitter®? Facebook®? Instagram®? Yes, yes, and yes. Not only will that make your current customers happy, but it will help to attract new customers, as well. Interested in some tips for engaging customers via social media? Check out this post.

Show up on search engines and online directories.

Where do more and more people go to figure out how to find local businesses? Easy. Search engines like Google®, Yahoo!®, and Bing® and online directories such as YP.com® (aka YellowPages.com). When your customers type your business’s name into a search engine, you want your info to pop up on sites like Google Places™. If they’re looking for bows from that guy they talked to at the trade show in Topeka (just can’t remember his name), you want “Joe’s Bows” to top the list of results when they search for “bows + topeka!”

You can find out more about getting your contact info found on directories and other go-to consumer sites by clicking here.

See? It’s not too tough to avoid a communication breakdown with your customers. Take a few simple steps to ensure that your business’s contact information is at their fingertips, and you might find your inbox overflowing with new orders.

About the Author:

Jessica SpartJessica Spart is a small business consultant for GoDaddy and a freelance writer based in Arizona. She’s passionate about helping small businesses succeed. Jessica spends her free time reading, running and catching up on her favorite Korean and British TV shows. Connect with Jessica on Google+. The world’s largest domain name registrar and Web hosting provider, GoDaddy gives small business owners the tools to name their idea, build a beautiful online presence, attract customers and manage their business.


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Top 5 Reasons Customers Change Brands or Companies

reasons_switching_brandsCustomers are finicky. Mess up once and they’re out the door on the way to one of your competitors. This report from eMarketer shows the reasons why small-business owners have changed brands or companies with which they do business.

These are the top 5 reasons customers change brands:

  1. Bad customer service
  2. Better product, service or support from new brand
  3. Bad experience
  4. Another New product or service will improve business
  5. Special offer/sales promotion from new brand

Good customer service is crucial for keeping customers happy. It costs more to obtain new customers than it does to keep the ones you’ve got!

Tips on how to not lose a customer:

  • Monitor your name and brand on the social media channels and diffuse any customer complaints. The faster the better.
  • Ask customers how you can improve your service at the time of sale or delivery.
  • Ask customers how you can improve your product or what they’d like to see you carry or provide.
  • Keep tabs on your competitors on social media. Follow them on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn & Google+. Watch for new products or services, special and sales. A few dollars in pricing sometimes is the only difference between keeping a customer or losing them.

If you have questions on how to better your customer service, there is a SCORE Mentor who been there and can offer FREE ADVICE! Click here to schedule an appointment with a SCORE Mentor.

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Increase Conversion with Personalized Upsell Emails

By Stephanie Faris

Keep Calm & Remember to Upsell courtesy of www.rohitbhargava.comWithin the plethora of emails most people scour through each day, how can a small business craft one to stand out? According to a recent survey, email personalization increases conversion rates six fold, resulting in higher sales than impersonalized emails. Savvy consumers, tired of sifting through burgeoning inboxes, quickly scroll through hundreds of emails, opening only those that are relevant or important.

So how can your email as stand out as “important?” While it largely depends on the customer, a generic email with a subject line that intended for the masses will be as ineffective as no email at all.

To reenergize your campaigns and increase upsells, here are a few steps your small business can take.

Leverage Data

Until the era of mass Internet communication, upselling took place face-to-face or through direct mailers. For example, retailers sent catalogues full of new inventory to customers enticing more purchases. A catalogue will place a large amount of items in front of the customer, but it is not personalized to a customer’s individual taste and preference.

Advancements in analytics and Internet marketing allow small businesses to track the online behaviors of customers. Using customized tracking codes, you can mine very specific data about a customer’s online activities such as which website pages they viewed, past purchases, and sites they visit on the Internet. Once the data is combined and analyzed, customers can be placed in buckets according to their actions. You can then send very targeted upsell emails based on your segmented lists.

Use the Invoice

As GetResponse points out, many companies use the invoice as an opportunity to upsell. Just as many brick-and-mortar stores hand customers time-sensitive coupons with each purchase, online small businesses can add coupons and special offers to the emailed invoices. A simple call to action or, “Since you purchased an item, add this item for half off” messaging can help customers feel as though they’re getting a deal they wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.

Make It Conversational

Instead of pummeling valued customers with generic, automated marketing messages, small businesses should use a conversational approach. A friendly phrase such as, “We noticed you purchased our ink cartridges on January 3rd. did you know we also sell paper at a discount?” is more effective than simply sending a picture of a ream of paper with a call to action. Showing you know the customer can personalizes the email and will increase conversions. The email should also include a direct link to the product to make it as easy as possible to purchase it.

To make the email more enticing, you can consider offering to add the item onto a customer’s recent purchase with no extra charge for shipping.

Keep Customers Happy

In addition to upselling, small businesses can win over customers who have had bad experiences. In the past, these customers might have never purchased an item again, but through email automation; you can reach out to those customers asking for a phone call with a senior staff member to resolve the issue. Through automated software, these emails can be sent en masse, improving the chances that a business will win back several customers at once.

Customer loyalty is important to small businesses. Through email automation, companies can easily upsell their customers alongside their efforts to win over new business. Today’s software and analytics ease the process of upselling by segmenting customers based on behaviors, providing the format for personalized emails, resulting in increased sales.

Stephanie FarisAbout the Author: Stephanie Faris is a freelance writer and novelist, whose work regularly appears on Infusionsoft, Dell’s TechPageOne, GetApp, and Netributor. She is the author of the novels 30 Days of No Gossip and 25 Roses, both of which are being published by Simon & Schuster under the Aladdin M!X line. She lives in Nashville with her husband.



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