Customer service secrets to make you stand out from the crowd

Customer service secrets to make you stand out from the crowd

Over the past couple of weeks I have been amazed by the ongoing lack of customer service by so many businesses that I have come into contact with.

Make your first impression the right one

Firstly, I requested quotes from a number of virtual assistants to supply help to a client of mine whilst they were going through a particularly busy period.

One that I contacted did not respond at all and another came back with just a one-liner that they could do the work.  Not a good first impression!  If that was the standard of work they sent me I certainly wasn’t going to let them loose with admin for my clients.  Only one replied with a fully prepared proposal and price and suggested a phone conversation so that she fully understood what was required and to ensure she would be a good fit.  I chose this lady as during our conversation, she was honest in what she couldn’t do but said she would do her best to learn anything new if required to do so.  To me, this showed enthusiasm and a desire to work with me.

 

Every contact we have with a customer influences whether or not they’ll come back. We have to be great every time or we’ll lose them. – Kevin Stirtz

 

Be crystal clear on your service and what you can offer

I then phoned to get quotes for social media support for a client from a number of companies.  One passed me through to their social media ‘specialist’ who took what seemed like forever to find his notes on what they could offer and at what price.  He then could not clearly explain the service and upon questioning had no idea what he was talking about. No sale!

The next waffled on forever and ended up asking me what I thought they should put together as a package and at what price.  Hang on.  I thought I was phoning to find out what they could do for me, not for me to give them business advice.  No sale!

Another went into a barrage of sales spiel but was rabbiting on about social media channels wholly unsuitable for my client.  He didn’t ask one question about my client’s needs and gave me no opportunity to explain them.

 

“The first step in exceeding your customer’s expectations is to know those expectations.” – Roy Hollister Williams

 

Don’t make promises you cannot keep

Next I went to order some items from a website but had a query on another product they had for sale.  I phoned and left a message as their answerphone promised a call back within an hour.  No return call was forthcoming so I then emailed and again received no response at all.  Needless to say that I deleted the items in my shopping basket and purchased them elsewhere.

I then had another purchase to make and ordered an item for next day delivery but which did not arrive for 48 hours.  This really irritated me and I complained to the company.  If they had said delivery in 48 hours my expectations would have been met and I would have been a satisfied client so why did they promise me something that could not deliver?

 

 Make a customer, not a sale. – Katherine Barchetti

 

Exceed expectations

Finally, I made one more purchase that stated 5-day delivery yet turned up in 3 days.  Even though this item turned up one day later than the promised delivery time of the first company, I was over the moon as they had exceeded my expectations.  Just be honest with your customers and don’t set out promises that you can’t keep.

It is no use going to the time and expense of promoting your business only to throw away enquiries and valuable customers when they try to buy from you.

 

Here is a powerful yet simple rule. Always give people more than they expect to get. – Nelson Boswell

4 key tips to satisfying customers

So my key 4 tips to satisfying your customers are:

  1. Create the right first impression. Whether it is via email, phone call or face to face, when someone gets in contact for the first time, ensure that you create the right impression to gain their business.  Be professional, take an interest in their needs and listen carefully to what they actually want.
  2. Be clear on what you can offer. First and foremost, make sure that both you and every single staff member know what you offer and can explain this clearly when asked.  If you can’t, you will lose your prospect from the outset.
  3. Set expectations and then live up to them. Be clear on your pricing policy, terms and conditions, delivery and anything else relevant to the sale.  Make sure the customer is clear on these and set their expectations accordingly.  Don’t make promises to gain the sale that you just cannot keep.  It will do you more harm than good in the long term.
  4. Under promise and over deliver. Wherever possible exceed customer expectations so that they remember you for all the right reasons.  With the apparent lack of customer service with so many companies, you are highly likely to stand out from the crowd and gain long term customer loyalty.

 

Do you have a customer service story to tell, either good or bad?  Please leave your customer service experience story in the comments box below.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

When was the last time you decided to ask for help?

Why is it that as women we struggle on trying to juggle everything on our own?  Now, I am not knocking the men out there but they seem to be much better than women at making the decision to ask for help.

Women continue to try to balance looking after the home, the family including children and elderly parents, our own business and everything else that comes along our path in our day to day lives.

Why don’t we ask for help?

When running a business we are advised not to try to do everything ourselves for fear of burn out and to seek support so is it not time we do the same in our personal lives also?

I have personally been through a particularly busy spell.  I have been working 12 hour days providing one to one support to clients including research and report writing time.  Outside of these hours I also run my online business support service through The Small Business Kit.  I continue to run the home making sure there is a hot nutritious meal on the table each evening.  I try to keep the house clean and tidy and everyone’s laundry up to date.

And I struggle!!!

To top it off, this past week my elderly mother was taken poorly and I had the added burden of trying to look after her.  And to be honest, I thought I was going to go pop!

My sleep got disrupted and during the day I regularly felt like I was on the verge of a panic attack.  So what did I do?  I took stock of what I could and couldn’t do and decided that housework was one chore too many.  And I booked a cleaner.

The relief of asking of asking for help can be immense

The relief was immense.  Just having that pressure of such a time-consuming chore taken off me was incredible.  At first I wondered if I could afford to have someone come in and do something that I felt I should be doing myself.  But then I decided I couldn’t afford not to.  If I didn’t get help somewhere I was going to run myself into an early grave.

I also looked at my business and decided I could no longer afford to keep trying to do everything myself.  Due to exhaustion my focus was being lost and I was not promoting The Small Business Kit effectively and getting it out there to help those women that I so desperately wanted to.  So I have also employed a coach of my own to help me refocus and drive this side of my business forward (something that I do for others but just couldn’t seem to do for myself – can’t see the wood for the trees syndrome!)

Even Super Woman needs to hang up her cape sometimes

So don’t feel guilty and feel you have to do everything yourself.  Long gone are the days of Super Woman.  Even Super Woman has times when she needs to hang up her cape and get someone else to pick up the pieces to avoid burnout.  Be realistic about what you can physically and emotionally keep up with and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

If you ever feel like you just want a simple chat, I am more than happy to be there for you.  Don’t ever feel alone.  Get in touch and ask for help.

The perils of using Facebook for your marketing

The perils of using Facebook for your marketing

Do you rely heavily on Facebook for your marketing?  If so ….

Are you aware of the perils of using Facebook?

On Monday the Facebook page for the world’s largest social media magazine, Social Media Examiner, page disappeared. Yep! Gone completely without warning! This page had over 380,000 followers and is an excellent source of information but for some unknown reason it went!

The owner, Michael Steizner, posted this message on his own Facebook page.

Social Media Examiner

And this message appeared on their Google+ page.

Social Media Examiner

What transpired from messages posted in response was this has happened to numerous followers ranging from pages with fans of just a few hundred, to one with over 3 million followers!!!

This proves that can happen to anyone at any level.  I personally know of a lady who sold handbags through her Facebook page and had just over 4000 followers.  Overnight her page disappeared and she lost contact with all these prospective customers.  She had to start from scratch again and in the meantime her business basically stopped.

So please don’t sit back and think it will never happen to you.  Hopefully it won’t but any business should put plans in place to protect yourself should it happen to you.

Remember, something like this can happen to anyone and any business and once your page is gone, it’s gone!! You are unlikely to ever get it back.

As a business you don’t own your fans or your page so if your page goes you lose contact with these people.

 

What can cause my Facebook page to disappear

There are a number of reasons why a Facebook page can disappear such as:

  • An administrator deleting or un-publishing the page. Make sure you know who has access to make changes to your page and remove anyone who should not have permission anymore.
  • A breach of Facebook guidelines. So many Facebook users are totally unaware of the guidelines.  One of the most common breaches I see are pages running competitions and asking for likes and shares in order to enter which is a direct breach.  If this gets spotted and reported you are in serious danger of your page being removed.
  • Using your personal profile as a business page. Again, this is a breach of Facebook guidelines.  If you haven’t already read it, have a read of the article Facebook Business Page vs Personal Page
  • Technical issues. It appears this may be the case with Social Media Examiner and their page has now been restored.  However, there is no guarantee that once your page has gone that it can be recovered.

 

The key lesson here is DO NOT put all your eggs in one basket. Do not purely rely on one social media platform for all your marketing. Always make sure you list build so that whatever happens outside of your control, you have a database of email addresses that allows you to retain contact with your prospects and fans.

 

What can I do to get my Facebook fans on to my mailing list?

Here are a few tips to help you get your Facebook fans on to your mailing list:

Have an opt-in form

Put an opt-in form on your website so that when you post your blog on your Facebook page and readers get taken to your site, they have the option to sign up.  Put one in the sidebar and at the top or bottom of your blog posts so that people can easily subscribe to get future news and information delivered directly to their inbox.

Offer an incentive

In order to make it more attractive for people to sign up, offer them a freebie to download when they sign up.  If you are in the holiday home industry this could be something such as ‘Top 10 things to look for when booking a holiday’ or ‘A guide to choosing colour for your home’ if you are an interior designer.

Post links to your opt-in form

Make sure you have a link to your opt-in form everywhere you can.  Use Facebook apps to add one to your business page and include the link at the bottom of your Facebook posts.

Ask for email addresses in groups

If you are in a group on Facebook and someone asks a question which you take the time to answer, ask them for their email address to send some further information.  Send them a little extra info and let them know you will add them to your mailing list (with the option to unsubscribe) for any future news.

Ask interactive fans for email address

When a person comments on one your posts you now have the option to send them a message (see pic below).  Use this to thank them for their comment and to invite them to join your mailing list (remember to send them the link).

Facebook message option

 

So now you know the perils of using Facebook and to how to protect yourself.

I hope you have found this article useful and please share the love and pass on to anyone else you know who has a Facebook business page.

8 benefits of reading a book on a daily basis

8 benefits of reading a book on a daily basis

There are numerous reports and studies that claim one of the things that successful people do is to read each day.  No, not a Jackie Collins novel but self-help and motivational books.

But why if they are already so successful?  What are the benefits of reading a book on a daily basis?

Because these people realise that you can never stop learning.  There is always something that can be learnt from reading someone else’s perspective or experience.

But what are the other benefits of making reading one of your daily habits?

 

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body

Whereas our muscles will waste away if we don’t exercise them, so our brains capacity and ability to work will lessen if we do not use it.  Reading stimulates the brain and helps it to keep active so that we are more mentally alert.

Reading improves memory

As we exercise our brain through reading, so it becomes stronger and more able to remember information.  Our memory can improve which can only be a good thing.

Reading helps us to think outside the box

Reading information from someone else’s perspective can help us think about and analyse another way of thinking that we may not have otherwise considered.  This may help our thought process in the future and help us to find new, creative ways of doing things rather than sticking to old habits.

Reading can help reduce stress

As in my previous article How reading can help reduce stress claims have been made that just six minutes can be enough to reduce the stress levels by more than two thirds.  If that isn’t an incentive in our stress filled lives, then I don’t know what is!

Reading increases knowledge

As previously mentioned, we can never stop learning and there is always a golden nugget of knowledge to be found in anything we read.  We can use this knowledge to help further ourselves and also recall information we have read when helping others.

Reading improves our vocabulary

The more we read, the more words we will come across that we can add to our vocabulary.  Having this additional resource of new words to add to our everyday conversations makes us more articulate and can help build self-confidence.

Reading can help our written skills

Following on from the previous point, the more we read, the more words we learn and add to our vocabulary which can aid our writing skills.  You may find a particular style of writing that appeals and that you can master for your own written work.

Reading can help us reach our goals

By reading motivational books where we learn about others who have been there and done it and survived the hardships it took, we can gain a commitment and determination to keep moving forward towards our own goals.  We can find someone who we can empathise with and to know that we are not alone in our feelings and struggles as we strive for success.

 

And here are my top recommended reads that I simply love

When are you too old to start a business

When are you too old to start a business

Do you think you are too old to start a business?

A recent report from O2 Business stated that ‘A wave of over-55s are looking to use their newfound access to their pension savings to start a business’ and one in four over-55 respondents to their survey aspire to start a business and ‘become their own boss’.

I have met a number of people in the over 50 age bracket who have felt that they are too old to be taking a risk in starting their own business.  But when I ask for the reason they feel this way, I rarely get a clear cut answer.  It just seems to be a common misconception that you have to be young to start a business.

However, as the article I read pointed out, 70 per cent of businesses started by over-55s last longer than three years, while only 28 per cent of those set up by young people last that long.

So what are the benefits of starting a business in your later years?

Firstly, life experience!  You will have been there, done it and got the tee shirt.  You will have had to deal with life’s ups and downs and found ways to get through them – essential qualities when running your own business.

Over the years, you will undoubtedly have built up many transferrable skills that younger entrepreneurs have yet to master whether these be people skills, patience, determination, handling finances or one of the many other that you gain through life that are too many to list here.

And from a buyers point of view, they tend to trust more mature traders.

When people come to me and say that they are too old to start a business I relay the adage to them that ‘age only matters if you are a cheese’.

Age only matters if you are a cheese

To name just a few older famous people who started business in later years ….

  • Julia Child wrote her first cookbook at age 50.
  • Colonel Sanders, was 62 when he franchised Kentucky Fried Chicken.
  • Peter Roget invented the Thesaurus at Age 73
  • John Pemberton invented Coca cola at age 55
  • Maxine Clarke invented Build A  Bear at age 48

And, far more importantly, the mother of a friend of mine has just written her first ever children’s book at the tender age of 91 years young!!!

So if you are over 55 and have an unfilled dream, please don’t think you are too old to start a business.  Be brave, do your research and go for it.

If you would like a sounding board as to your idea or tips on how to get started, get in touch now.