Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Customer’

You Receive Not Because You Ask Not!

When it comes to driving your business, you want to have a couple of  magical things happen:

  1. You want your customers to become even better customers
  2. You want those customers to tell people about you.

This magical one-two punch is what grows your business without inflating your expenses. But to get a handle on those two things requires you get the answers to three things your customers won’t tell you … unless you ask.

No. 1 – Why Do You Enjoy Being My Customer?

Customers continue to do business with you for a number of reasons (good rates, great service, strong rapport), but it’s rare that they’ll volunteer this information without being asked. So ask them.

Find out what you’re doing right, and you can do two things:

  • Do more of the things they like
  • Discover patterns

Get the goods on this question, and you can turn your current customers into do-more-business-with-you customers.

No. 2 – What Else Do You Wish I Did In My Business?

Customers don’t just get products/services from you – they get other products/services before, during and after their transactions with you. Don’t miss this chance to cash in. Find out what else they want, and discover how you can give it to them.

  • If it’s out of your business scope, make deals with trusted vendors and recommend them.

Either way, it’s a chance to tap into more revenue, potentially at a minimum of effort on your part. But you have to ask.

No. 3 – Who Should You Tell About My Business?

People like doing business with you. And chances are high that they know others who would benefit as well … but they won’t volunteer this info off the top of their heads (most of the time). So make it networking with future clients easier by offering incentives.(Be on the lookout for my next post on how to do this)

Give people a good enough reason to spread the word about you, and they surely will. And when your good name becomes a standard of excellence that attracts new customers to you, the effort you put into creating it is money in the bank.

 

Run FORREST (Customer) RUN!

Loving customers sounds great when we’re reading it in a business book. But in the real world, the way we interact with customers can be anything but loving.  Here are some of the bad behaviors that I’ve seen over the years as a business banker and how to fix them.

1. Pushy Salesperson Attitude.

The days of the pushy salesperson are long gone. And if you’re still measuring sales performance on quantity (revenue) instead of quality (profit), then you are bound to get reluctant customers who cost money to integrate into your system and are often lost before they become truly profitable.

Find your ideal customer.

Start by identifying your favorite customers, the ones you get along with, who seem effortless and even a pleasure to work with. They are often a pleasure to work with because their requirements match what your business system delivers. For example, if you consistently deliver within 48 hours and your customers need product in 48 hours, they will be delighted. But if you bring on customers who need 24-hour delivery, you will consistently disappoint. When you’ve identified your ideal customers, dig into the specifics of what it is about your business that works for them.

2. Overpromise and under-deliver. (elementary?)

Studies show that expectations drive satisfaction results. So if you set your customers’ expectations higher than you are able to deliver, they will be MORE dissatisfied than if their expectations were closer to the true experience.

Listen.

For what’s really important to your soon-to-be-customer. Ask them what they expect from your company and then speak to each expectation and detail what a real experience is like. Then ask them how that sounds to them and if that meets their expectations.

3. Tell them what they’d like to hear.

This is another expectation issue. Customers want to know what to expect: when will their product be delivered, when will the service guy show up, etc. People are planning their busy lives around your answer, and when you just tell them what they want to hear but deliver something altogether different, this absolutely sends people through the roof.

Tell the conservative truth.

If you have only been able to deliver overnight 1 percent of the time, don’t say that you can always do it. If you’re not as good at providing a typical service because you just don’t like it, then refer them to the person who is better. This will actually work in your favor.

4. Ignore them after the sale.

Bringing on new customers is important, but loyal customers who refer people to your business do so because of their experience AFTER the sale.

Create a process.

Customers get ignored because there’s not a process to service them after the sale.

Love your customers.

I mean this in the most serious way. Look for ways to offer them special deals and introduce them to new products and services. Have special events just for them where they can learn new things about your product or service. One client I have sent their customer a truckload of balloons, hamburgers, hot dogs, a grill and all the fixings for a picnic to celebrate their anniversary of being a customer for 25 years.

5. Keep the owner (President/CEO) behind the scenes.

Loyal customers feel like they have a relationship with the company. When customers have the feeling that they can reach out and talk to the owner whenever they want to (even though they rarely do it), it gives them a sense of closeness and loyalty.

Interact with customers.

Find opportunities to put yourself in front of your customers.  If you own a retail operation,  be there and answer questions. If you are a manufacturer, take customer service calls now and then. You might think you have more pressing things to do, but they will not yield the powerful customer loyalty that a personal connection does.

6. Make them feel stupid.

Rude and condescending tones can creep out in your communication— especially if you’re stressed. Your customers probably aren’t as smart as you about the product or service that you sell—that’s why they buy from you!

7. Voicemail, and no other way to find you.

It’s getting more difficult to find people at their desk.  And today’s communication tools have increased expectations that when a customer calls, they expect a call back or a response ASAP. Voicemail will NOT cut it anymore.

Leave a cell phone number.

Be sure to include your cell phone number in your voicemail recording so that people can get in touch with you.

8. Not understanding what’s important in their application.

There’s nothing more frustrating to customers than feeling like they are talking into a black hole when they explain how they use your product and service in their application.

Observe your customers in action.

Take the time to actually spend time with your customers watching how they use your product. You might even discover a new product or service in the process.

9. Putting your policies over their satisfaction.

Have you ever created a policy about customer satisfaction? The customer isn’t always right, but is following your rules worth the loss of a customer?

Plan to break the policy.

This might sound odd, but think about when it makes sense to break the policy. Think about when breaking your rules is worth it. This makes it easy to deal with situations quickly and easily without taking too much time to have the customer wallowing in discontent.

When Customers ATTACK!

When making the decision to become a small business owner there’s a good chance that at some point in your career you’re going to come across a customer or two that might have had an issue with the service that your business provided.  I would imagine that the more conversation that occurs between veteran business owners and newbie business owners the better off everyone will be, or at least customer service concerns might get handled faster.

It’s safe to say that you’re going to need to have tools that you can use in order to address and resolve those customer concerns in the fastest possible manner. Your business relies on it.

1. Respond QUICKLY

No matter what you do make sure that you always have a prompt, lightning fast response. Yes, even if you don’t have a resolution or an answer to the situation you should still make sure that the customer receives a call that let’s them know that their concern is being worked on. A stewing, raging, waiting customer is NEVER a happy one.

2. HOLD Your Tongue

It’s so easy in business, especially as a young manager or newbie small business owner to wanna jump right in and start running your mouth. This sounds nice, but it won’t solve the problem, sit back and shut up and remember that the customer is the one that has a problem with your business. Jumping in before you hear your customer out will only frustrate your customer and it can cause you to miss important details.

3. Professional Reply

Assuming that you actively listened (based on step 2 above) it’s now time for you make it very clear to the customer that you understand their problem, 100% of it. Take the time to repeat back to the customer what they said to you and be sure to focus on the key points to ensure that the customer is comfortable with exactly how much you understand their concern.

4. Resolve the issue

Now that you’ve listened to the customer and displayed good active listening skills it’s time for you to get down to solving the problem, this is the big moment. Once the screaming and yelling stops it’s time to focus on the problem and get it resolved, no matter what it takes.  Overdue it.

5. Follow Up

Once the issue has been resolved it’s always a good practice to follow-up with the customer to ensure that things are still moving in the right direction.

6. Training

Complete your customer resolution process by taking the time to train fellow staff members and associates, doing so will help avoid the same issues in the future.

It’s important to handle every customer service issues as an experience and learn from it, it gives you a chance to improve your skills as a leader and business owner and helps you to mentor others.

Open Your Cash Flow Spigot!

Cash is the lifeblood of small businesses. Cash comes from sales, account receivables collections, and the sale of assets. Unfortunately, as long as more cash is flowing into the company than going out, many owners fail to pay close attention to their cash management plans.

If that sounds like your business, it’s time to take a closer look at your system. One of the major lessons from the recent recession is the importance of having an adequate supply of liquid assets, such as cash and its equivalent, on hand when business slows down.

Implementing efficient cash flow techniques ensures that your company always has enough money to meet its financial obligations. A shortage of cash could lead to embarrassment due to late payments, or in the worst case scenario, bankruptcy. To avoid those problems, check out these tips to make sure your cash flow system is top-notch:

Get organized.

It may sound obvious, but making sure your billing, collections and payables systems are efficiently operating should be your first stop. Use check lists and automatic calendar reminders to keep track of payments that are due.

If the account payment is a receivable, then make sure that you bill promptly, follow up on overdue invoices, and quickly collect on overdue accounts. The longer your customer’s balance remains unpaid, the greater the chance you will not receive full payment.

Offer “carrots” for early or pre-payments.

To the extent possible, get your customers to pay you as early as they can, perhaps by requiring up-front deposits or offering an incentive. “You’d be surprised how many of your customers might be willing to pre-pay for your services or products if you offer a nominal 2-5 percent discount,” Matt Mickiewicz, co-founder of 99designs, tells The Huffington Post.

Give bad customers the boot.

If a customer is consistently late in making payments, cut that person off. This may cause you to have fewer clients at first, but it will allow you to focus on providing optimal services for your loyal customers, thereby building a better reputation, which will more likely pay off in the long run.

Tighten credit requirements.

Offer the best product or service relative to your competitor so that you can obtain the best possible credit conditions, says Isabel M. Isidro, managing editor of PowerHomeBiz.com.

“To improve your cash flow position, you can be more stringent in your credit and terms, requiring more customers to pay cash for their purchases,” says Isidro. “This will increase the cash on hand and reduce the bad-debt expense.”

Be aware of the trade-off to tightening credit, however. A flexible credit policy gives more customers the opportunity to purchase your products or services. Weigh the potential decrease in sales against the benefits of having more cash before making any changes.

Review your expenses

Make sure you are not trying to grow your small business too fast by spending aggressivley. “The largest problem entrepreneurs face is the pull between revenue generating and ‘brand building’ activities which do not generate steady cash flow,” says Kris Ruby, founder of Ruby Media Group LLC. To bridge cash flow gaps, focus on your top 3 revenue generators, recommends Ruby, and put your “brand building” on hold.

The Price is RIGHT! or Is It!?

1. NEVER compete on price. Period. Yeah, yeah, I know that the economy sucks and that people are more price conscious than ever before, but you MUST show your customer the other reasons to buy BESIDES just a low price.

If the only thing that you can do is to compete on price and you have no other competitive advantage, then you might as well close the doors right now instead of waiting for the inevitable.

Don’t turn your life’s work into a commodity like toilet paper, milk, and facial tissue.

2. SHOW your customers why you are worth a premium price. Most people don’t buy on price alone. They want the PERFECT solution to the problem that’s keeping them awake at night. If you take the price out of the equation (for the most part) and show them exactly how you are the hero riding in on the white horse, people are happy to pay a premium for something that they know will provide the results they had hoped for.

3. Don’t chase after the bottom feeders unless you have no choice. If you can, aim your business towards a higher caliber of customer. If you go after people that don’t have two nickels in their pocket, you are going to focus your entire business on a niche of people that cannot afford what you have to sell.

I know this sounds a little elementary, but you’d be surprised how many businesses are started where the entrepreneur did not think about the income level of the customer and their ability to actually BUY the product.

4. Dump your worst customers. Price shoppers are the worst customers. They will beat you to death to knock off a few pennies, tell all of their friends how they totally took you for a ride, they’ll give you the highest return rate, and they have absolutely NO LOYALTY to your business whatsoever.

It’s healthy to lose a few customers on price. This means that you are just at the right place. If you are not losing anyone, then you are the one that is holding your industy back from making more money.

5. Create some kind of scarcity with your product. Artists learned this a long time ago by numbering their prints with limited editions. Sculptors break the mold after they cast just a few copies.

People are naturally drawn to wanting things that other people don’t have. Especially in the U.S., at least. So, no matter what kind of business you have, create a REAL element of scarcity and you will be able to justify a higher price.

Just look at the latest games systems that are HOT for Christmas. Do you think these guys need to put them on sale? Nope. They can charge double, because everyone wants them and there are not enough to go around.

How can you make your business like the latest Christmas craze?

So there ya have it. Ways to make a little more money in your business, help out with the longevity, and to get rid of those pesky customers that eat all of your time.

They’re Just Not That Into You!

You’ve tried to get their attention. You’ve read the right books, listened to all the gurus, and freshened up your appearance, but it’s not working.

You aren’t being noticed by the one you love. Your ideal customer isn’t giving you the time of day. They’re ignoring your offers. All of your overtures are rebuffed.

They’re just not that into you.

Today we’re going to cover how to flirt with potential customers, get their attention, and make them fall head over heels with your product or service. It’s a technique that — when implemented together — will attract the most resistant customer.

1. Make yourself desirable

Want to capture your potential customer’s attention? Give them what they’re looking for.

Hunger is the best sauce.
~ Italian proverb

Share valuable information, and make sure you’re offering what they actually want. You can do that by:

  • Checking your search stats to see what terms people use to find your site,
  • Using sites like Twitter and Facebook to “listen in” to conversations about what buyers in your niche want, and
  • Observing what people actually buy (rather than what they think they would buy).

High-quality information will establish your expertise and build your authority over time, and that is irresistible.

2. Show them the goods

You’ve captured their attention with your valuable, optimized content. Now it’s time to get their number so you can stay in touch.

Forget about all those cheap pick up lines you learned in high school. (Or the equally cheap lines that are still taught by sales trainers who apparently think we’re going door to door with vacuum cleaners.)

Instead, dangle something in front of your audience that they’ll find so useful, so compelling, and so tempting they’ll be rushing to type their e-mail address in your opt-in form.

Offer a solution to a problem, or a series of tips. Create a guide or checklist for getting something accomplished. Give them access to a free audio or video product.

It’s the first step in a sales funnel that will lead them along from free, to entry-level, moving through mid-range and on to the top of your price range. A really good free offer will make them fall right into the top of your funnel before they know what’s hit them.

3. Surprise them (in a good way)

Once they’ve signed up for your free offer, surprise them with the high value content you keep delivering. This is the ideal time to establish that you are a class act, and make it known you won’t let them down.

Deliver superior quality content, and present it in a professional-looking package. If it’s blog content, make sure your site looks great and works perfectly. If it’s an e-book, take the time to design it well. If it’s an email auto-responder, create a template that’s polished and easy to read. If it’s audio or video, deliver it with the best production values you can muster.

Because they’re watching your every move at this point. You have their attention. Don’t blow it.

4. Respond to their overtures

After you’ve done steps 1 through 3, some — not all — of your audience will respond to your customer flirtation techniques.

You might start to get blog comments, Twitter DMs or e-mails sent from your website.

When the messages come in, be sure to respond promptly and professionally. Don’t leave your prized customer hanging!

Show potential customers they can count on you to be responsive and trustworthy. Let them know you’ll be there when they need you.

5. Stay faithful

The last step? Repeat the first four over and over.

Consistent, high-quality content delivered over time will establish you as a reliable, authoritative source of information. “Getting their number” and staying in touch (via an email or RSS subscription) will allow you to continue the courting process. And reliable, responsive customer service will seal the deal.

When it’s time to swoop in and make the sale, the stage will be set. Your customers will be all warmed up and ready for action. These techniques will make it easy to sweep them off their feet.

Before you know it, they’ll be in your arms with wallets open — captivated by your content, smitten with your services, and carrying a torch for your products.

Warm and Fuzziness: Keeps Them Coming Back!!

Customers are your business’s lifeblood. Without them, you don’t have a business at all. But woo them carefully with devotion, and your business sales can skyrocket. Who doesn’t love being romanced?

Want to know how to create those warm, fuzzy feelings? Use these easy tips and make your customers love you so they keep coming back for more.

Tell the World They’re Special

What do you do when you love someone? You want to tell the world how special that person is to you.

So tell the world about your customers and how special they are to you by giving them some spotlight attention. Display glowing testimonials proudly on your website. Write a blog post and mention kind words a client told you. Write a case study or success story. Talk about how much your customer’s life has changed since discovering your business.

By putting your customers in the spotlight and telling the world about them, you create a win-win. You help their business get some free exposure to new clients, and you show your prospective customers that your business creates positive results.

Take this tip one step further: Write a blog post about a recent project or sale. Talk about how much you enjoyed getting to know your customer and mention what you liked — friendly attitude, pleasant manners, or even a great smile. This definitely creates warm fuzzies for anyone!

Thank Them, and Mean It

Here’s an easy way to bring a smile to anyone’s face: Thank them for being customers in a way that shows you really appreciate having them.

It takes mere seconds to send a customer a personal thank-you note for having trusted your business to provide them with what they want. Send a quick e-mail a week or two after the purchase, or even better, mail them an old-fashioned handwritten note. People love getting these — really.

Double-whammy your thank you note by giving a little gift. Tuck a coupon into the envelope or offer your customers a five-percent discount on their next purchase.

Remember Them So They Remember You

Out of sight, out of mind, as the saying goes — which means that dropping contact with your customers can result in them forgetting your business exists. Or worse, showing that you don’t care.

That’s why staying in touch with customers over the months or even years can help retain their patronage for a long time to come. They never forget you — and they might even think fondly of you.

Don’t just stay in touch; get personal about it. Take note of details that your customers share with you either while making a purchase or in conversation. Note their birth dates. Mark down the name of their pets. Jot down that your client had a big golf tournament coming up.

Then use that information to show you were paying attention to your customers. Mention Rover in an e-mail. Mail a  birthday card. Ask how the tournament turned out on your next call. Your clients will love you for it.

Treat Them with Responsive Respect

There’s nothing worse than being put on hold and hearing a tinny recording say, “Your call is important to us.” (It’s even worse if you have to wait 20 minutes for a live person to actually back that up.)

So when customers get in touch with you — no matter who they are, no matter why they’re contacting you — respect them, and respond to them.

This is so easy to do, and responding to people in a personal way is actually so rare in the world of business that it pleasantly surprises people when it happens. Doing so can build huge loyalty and fond thoughts in the minds of your customers so they remember you for a long, long time.

So ditch the canned responses. Answer people who get in touch via social media platforms. Reply to e-mails, and do so personally if you can. The phone rings? Pick it up — don’t let the call fall into some robotic system. It may take extra time from your day, but it’s worth every minute.

Also, be personable when you talk with customers and prospects. Show them you’re a genuinely great individual who is interested in them by being approachable, friendly, and pleasant. Your customers will get the chance to know you, like you, and appreciate you and your business even more for who you are.

Check in on Them, Just Because

“Hey Jenny, I was thinking about you today and just wanted to drop you a note to say hi — no particular reason. Hope things are well!”

There you go, how easy was that? Sending your customers an out-of-the-blue e-mail like that can be a great way to show them you value them as people, that you care about them, and that you like them for who they are.

Business-wise, an unexpected “How are you?” e-mail opens up the lines of communication. You might find your customer replying, “I’ve been meaning to get in touch — glad you wrote!” and secure a new sale. You might just end up having a great conversation (which gives you extra notes about your client you can jot down and use in future communications).

Customers will enjoy the no-obligation, no-pitch contact, too. A “just saying hi” makes everyone feel better. That’ll make it a lot easier for customers to remember you when it’s time for the next purchase.

It all comes down to a very simple sentiment: People like to buy from people, not from faceless businesses that don’t care. So show that you do, and woo your customers carefully for a devoted relationship they’ll adore.