Feb 162015
 

love=customer serviceFebruary is here and love is in the air. Flower shops and chocolate stores will have lots of sales. Most people get cards so the greeting card industry flourishes.

But people should show love all year especially in business. It’s actually delivering great customer service.

Here are five ways to show that you’re always thinking of your clients.

1. Send a heartfelt message (when they buy). Your message shouldn’t have any sales pitch behind it; you simply want to tell your customers how much you appreciate them. You can do that in a couple of ways:

  • Send an ecard
  • Mail a physical card (write a note in it. Don’t just sign your name.

2. Spread love this month. Mail your clients a Valentine’s card.  When you take your focus away from selling and put it on giving (even if it’s just giving customers something to look at), they’ll want to come back.

3. Ask them what they want. One of the best gifts you can give your clients is your attention. How can you better deliver what they want from you? Ask them to find out. Send a brief survey to find out what services they like, what might be keeping them from buying them, what they think of your prices, and any suggestions they have for other things they’d like you to offer.

4. Have in person “coffee dates”. When’s the last time you actually spent face-time not talking about work? Book coffee or tea dates with your clients and spend each meeting just building on the relationship, not trying to sell. You’ll be surprised what you might find out about them.

5. Offer incentives to buy again. One strategy for building customer loyalty as well as providing great customer service is to create attractive offers to past clients. That could be anything from 25% off of their next order to a gift card.

Do this …

Pick one of your goals for the next year. Now think about one way to show your love to clients.

Tell us how you show the love to your clients!

photo credit: XX → XXI via photopin (license)

 February 16, 2015  Posted by  Client Service No Responses »
May 282014
 

thank youThank you :-)

There are many ways to show your thanks but we were taught that we should say it, weren’t we? Do you remember being told as kids that the “magic” words are please and thank you?

When should you use thank you?

After EVERYTHING that’s done for you especially when clients buy your product or service.

You should use it in your emails and on phone calls.You can mail a “thank you” card, send flowers, do something special that the other person likes (and that you know they do) or send an electronic card that makes them smile.

Say thank you all the time.

There’s another positive result from this this. You get remembered. You get cheques faster, things done for you with a smile and immediately, repeat and referral business and best of all you feel good.

What have you done today?

photo credit: adihrespati via photopin cc

 May 28, 2014  Posted by  Business Basics, Client Service Tagged with:  No Responses »
May 072014
 

garden centerThe other day I went out with a friend to get some plants for my balcony. It was a simple task … and as always I was watching and learning what I could (for business and life).

Three things I learned that can be used in business

1. learn by doing it yourself. There was a child of about 8 or 9 putting three letters he had in the post box. He could barely reach the opening but his mom stood by and let him put each one in by himself. (use in your training – both in person and in webinars)

2. ask for what you want. We talked to a saleswoman outside at a garden centre that the grocery store puts up each year about pots to put our purchases in. She said they had none. We asked if she had clear saucers to put under each pot and she said yes, but we’d have to go inside the store to the plant section and get them there.
While we were inside the store we asked another saleswoman for these ‘plant saucers’ which we bought. We then told her about our need for pots and that they had none outside. She told us that the store had a program whereby people could bring in their used pots and get a credit against plant purchases. The outside salesperson hadn’t told us that — poor staff communication. My friend went back and got three pots ‘for free’! (use all the time for whatever you want. People can say yes or no – you never know.)

3. go out of your way to be helpful. The woman inside the store (unbeknownst to us) went outside to the plant centre to remind the woman working there about the returned pots. And you can see that we had got three! (use in customer service)

Whether you’re out personally or doing business remember these things.

Do you? Tell me what can be added.

photo credit: wallygrom via photopin cc

 May 7, 2014  Posted by  Business Basics, Client Service Tagged with:  2 Responses »
Feb 192014
 

customer serviceI had gone with a friend to the Eaton Centre which is a large mall in downtown Toronto. We went for several reasons – conversation with each other, good company, lunch and of course a bit of shopping!

Poor service

We parked the car and started with lunch. It was 1:30 on a Saturday so we thought the lunch rush was ending. We waited for 45 minutes for our lunch to be served and we had to call our waiter over and ask where it was. Two problems – communication and empowerment. Communication was our waiter’s problem. He should have told us about the time it would take without us asking. Empowerment was management’s issue. The waiter didn’t have any power. But he brought our bill quickly! This is an example of poor service.

Good service

The service at  The Bay (a Canadian department store) was good. We asked for help to find something and got it (eventually) but they didn’t have as many salespeople as they used to. In general, the salespeople (we dealt with middle aged women) were friendly and smiling.

Great service

The great service was by far and away what we got at the Apple Store . It was what all customer service should be. We were greeted at the entrance by a young person (early 20s) with their latest technology (Apple’s of course). I knew just what I wanted so my salesperson typed it into his device then went and got it. I was paying by credit card which he slid into his device and then went to get the printed copy. I didn’t have to move. When my transaction was finished I had a couple of questions. His product knowledge was superb. Did I say that all of the salespeople were recognizable? They wore the same tshirt.

Our experience there was the best not because they used technology but because they had several qualities of customer service that we all expect: communication, empowerment, product knowledge, friendliness (you have to LIKE being in sales) and information at one’s fingertips.

 

Our overall experience that afternoon was good. What customer service do you provide?

photo credit: zachtrek via photopin cc

Feb 052014
 

hairdresserMen will look at this title and say this is a post for women but there are some very good customer service activities ANYONE can do in their business.

Know and use the client’s name

I take a taxi to the hairdresser from the same company each time. I chose this company because it didn’t charge a fee for using their wireless device when I use my credit card. Now I have found more reasons to keep using them.

The dispatcher knows my name and address when I call from home (I know that this is available to everyone now – a technology feature). She says “Hi Trudy. Is that a pickup up at (my address)” which is  friendly.

But when the hairdresser calls in for me when I’ve finished and the dispatcher asks “is that for Trudy?” she and I smile broadly at each other. That’s why I stay with them.

Ask if the client would like a coffee or tea

Someone asks, “Would I like a drink of something?”  This is another way they show me friendliness. They remember what I had last time, too. They bring me back a little something extra. In the case of my hairdresser it was a “sweet treat”. (They also remember that I have a sweet tooth.)

Listen

I know this is one of the reasons I (and many other women) go back to the same hairdresser for years. She listens – with interest. And not only does she listen to me but I do to her. We become “part of the family”. My hairdresser truly cares about what I do.

Not only does my hairdresser do these things – listen, care, remember, ask – but every one of her staff does, too. Could you add this kind of customer service to your business? It makes me a loyal client who goes back over and over.

 

Trudy Van BuskirkWhat do you do to care for your clients?

This is a photo of me at the hairdresser’s in Sept 2008. I was trying to look “professional”.

photo credit: Wm Jas via photopin cc

 February 5, 2014  Posted by  Client Service Tagged with: ,  No Responses »
Feb 182013
 

We all feel good when someone uses our name when they speak to us. It raises our self esteem, doesn’t it. This past week I had a real life experience with a hospital clinic using my name. It actually made me feel less pain — and trust the person doing the procedure more.

If you’ve visited my About Me page on this website, you’ll know that I had a stroke in 2005 that means that I take blood thinners and have my blood tested bi-weekly. I had a very different experience of the blood test recently.

Usually I go to the blood clinic at Princess Margaret Hospital. There you show your card at registration, take a number and wait until they call you. They call you by number. No name.

Last week I went to the blood clinic at Sunnybrook Hospital. You use a paper clip to attach your hospital card to a numbered card which is nearby. Then you sit down to wait. The difference is that when they call you, they use your name NOT your number!

How did I feel? Well I was pleasantly surprised and felt like a human being AND that I would be treated like one. I wasn’t just a number.

Colleen was the person who “poked me” and I took some time afterwards to chat with her about my experience. She smiled and said that they called you by name for the reason I’d said – so you’d feel like a human being.

Now that is great customer service :-) If a hospital can do something so seemingly small like using your name then anyone can do something.

What do you do in your business for people who DON’T have to come back like I did?

photo credit: _Untitled-1 via photopin cc

Jan 092013
 

For those who don’t go to a “bulk grocery store” you’d be surprised at what they sell there. They have the usual – nuts (did you know that here in Ontario if you buy the unsalted type there is no sales tax?), raisins, coffee beans, tea bags, flour, etc in bulk – but they have other groceries as well. Where I go they sell organic cereal and baking materials!

OK. My anecdote ….

Recently I got some things at the “Bulk Barn” – a chain in Toronto. I  had spent a bunch of money (as you do) and when I was at the checkout, the girl there gave me a gift certificate. I wasn’t expecting it and therefore didn’t spend/ buy accordingly – it was a surprise!

I knew it was to get me to come back (a type of marketing) but because I wasn’t expecting it, and the checkout person smiled as she gave it to me, it was a joy.

I smiled as I received it :-)

Do you give your customers gifts even if they have “strings” attached? This event made me think  about my own business and what I could give to my clients to get repeat business — or referrals — or even to  have clients remember me and talk about me.  HMMMM ….

What do you do to get your clients to keep coming back?

P.S. One Christmas my hairdresser gave me a gift certificate for a haircut at her shop. A very welcome surprise :-)

 photo credit: st_gleam via photopin cc

Sep 252012
 

Is faster better than slower? The advent of new technology has brought expectations of speed in everything. That’s not true. While the technology itself is faster everything shouldn’t be. Let me give you an example.

Assumption #1. Technology means faster
In the early 80s when personal computers were new most people assumed that because of technology their work would get done faster. I know firsthand what they thought because I taught our clients (I co-owned an Apple computer dealership in Toronto) how to use computers and their applications.

They were both right and wrong. While computers could do work faster than a human, a human took a lot of time to learn how to use a program.

By 1990 most companies had computers and the user’s learning curve was shorter. But now it took them time to develop a template.

Assumption #2 Learning slows you down
This is only partially right. Yes, learning slows you down at the beginning in order to do the work faster later. It’s like return on investment. Spend more now and get more later.

People eventually understood the two assumptions but like forgetting what it’s like to drive on snow and having to relearn it every winter, with the advent of voice mail and email and their speed they have forgotten what they learned about technology and its speed.

… This leads me to our topic about training clients ….

How to train your clients

Does it bother you when clients using email expect you to reply right away? Don’t they know that you’re working on something for another client just then? Aaargh!

You’ve probably unknowingly taught that you’d reply right away or that you work on weekends or late in the evening.

Here’s how to train clients so they have expectations that match yours.

#1. First meeting
You have a set of questions you ask clients in your first meeting. Conclude by asking them the best manner to communicate with them and then tell them the best way to communicate with you and even more important when you’ll get back to them. In summary tell clients how and when.

#2. Voicemail
Record a message which is very explicit about when you’ll get back to them. For example “This is Trudy of BoomerBizBuilder. Thanks for calling. I answer all calls within 2 business days and read my email at 9 am and 3 pm. Please help me by leaving your phone number. That will save me time looking it up. Thanks and I’ll speak with you soon.”

#3 Email
Email time and date stamps every message so you know when it was sent … and so do your clients. If you don’t want them to know you’re working at night or on the weekend type the reply whenever you can and save it as a Draft. It’ll be put automatically in the Drafts folder. Then send it during working hours.

Remember you can “train” your clients about how to communicate with you. It’s good customer service. Then be sure you do what you say :-)

Where else do you “train” your customers on how to work or communicate with you?

 

 September 25, 2012  Posted by  Client Service, Marketing Basics Tagged with:  2 Responses »
Aug 312012
 

road signAs baby boomers how many times did we hear that from our parents. It’s an “ageless” saying that I even heard mentioned on TV recently. A parenting coach was being interviewed about the age that children should be to get cell phones. She said that she had not grown up with cell phones and was guilty of not following many of the rules that she told her kids to follow. She had told them implicitly to “do as I do not as I say.” (Picture courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net )

It can be very confusing for children AND for adults. Should I do as you say or as you do? As business owners we’re often told that “actions speak louder than words”.

You’re in business. What should you do when you choose someone for a service?

When you hire  a web developer, a business or marketing coach or a social media manager you should look at the work they have done for themselves. What does the web developer’s own website look like or has the business coach ever hired a coach herself or how often does the social media manager write a blog post?

I know the old saying that “… the shoemaker has no shoes” could apply and probably your web developer hasn’t had time to change their site for several years or the marketing coach you are talking with gets all of their business from referrals but your due diligence should include several things. (Explanation: due diligence is the research you do.)

What due diligence should you do before you hire?

  • Ask other business owners who you trust. Who did they use and why?
  • Look at the people you plan to hire as individuals and depending on what you’re considering them for see how they deal with it in their lives. Remember that doing it themself is a good teacher.
  • Study their website carefully. How do they describe what they offer? Read their “About Me” page and see what they tell you about themselves.
  • Ask potential service providers for referrals. Who were their clients? Call them and ask them what they liked or didn’t like about the service. Don’t just trust the testimonials on their website.

Remember that it is so important before hiring anyone to check them and their work before you proceed. You’re committing to spending a lot of money.

 

What have you done? Does it matter to you whether your web developer has a great site or whether someone you’re hiring to coach you has one themselves. Comment and let us know.

 August 31, 2012  Posted by  Client Service, Marketing Basics Tagged with: ,  No Responses »
Aug 062012
 

salesAs a baby boomer, you may have sold in your past. Go all the way back to a time when you were putting yourself through school or some of the jobs you’ve held. Whether you sold insurance, software, groceries, clothing, coffee in a coffee shop, or cars and whether you sold in a retail store, in a restaurant (a server is a salesperson), cold calling by phone or door to door (we’re dating ourselves! Remember the Fuller Brush man?) you learned a lot. You knew how to pick up a phone and sell, didn’t you? (Image courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net )

You probably received a salary plus commission or only commission but nevertheless you were a  self employed person when you were in sales.

Here’s what you learned and why you’re good at owning your own business.

  • Know your target market.
  • Always smile and mean it. Have you ever been at the checkout and made the comment to yourself that the person there didn’t like what hey did? You could tell!
  • Listen to the customer and what they want and then give it to them.
  • Be polite. I don’t know what happened but somewhere along the way parents stopped teaching and showing their children how to be polite. In the 50s and 60s when I grew up people were generally nicer, weren’t they?
  • Go out of your way to be helpful.
  • If you haven’t got what the customer wants offer suggestions on where to get it (clothing or software) or what they could have instead (restaurants, desserts in a coffee shop). Show them. (coffee shop or clothing)
  • Be quick to respond and ask how you can help AND then deliver what you say you will WHEN you say you will.
  • Follow up. Ask how they their problem was solved. Did they like the food? Was the service as timely as they wished? Customer service is not only what you do at the time but also how you follow up.

All of these are skills needed by a successful business owner. In fact, they should be used by everyone all the time not just at work.

 

Have you got anything that you’d like to add to this list? Please do :-)

 August 6, 2012  Posted by  Client Service, Marketing Basics Tagged with:  2 Responses »