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Tag Archives: Customer Management

Unreasonable clients: Who gets your best work?

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by Seth Godin -

If you reserve your best effort for the irritable boss, the never-pleased client and the bully of a customer, then you’ve bought into a system that rewards the very people who are driving you nuts. It’s no wonder you have clients like that–they get your best work.

On the other hand, when you make it clear (and then deliver) on the promise that your best work goes to those that are clear, respectful and patient, you become a specialist in having customers just like that.

One of the largest turning points of my career was firing the client who accounted for a third of my company’s work. We were becoming really good at tolerating the stress that came from this engagement, and it became clear to me that we were about to sign up for a lifetime of clients like that.

Set free to work for those that we believed deserved our best work, we replaced the lost business in less than six months.

Years ago, I heard the story of a large retail financial services company that did the math and discovered that fewer than 5% of their customers were accounting for more than 80% of their customer service calls–and less than 1% of their profit. They sent these customers a nice note, let them know that they wouldn’t be able to service them properly going forward, and offered to help them transfer their accounts to a competitor. With the time freed up, they could then have their customer service people double down on the customers that actually mattered to them… grease, but without the squeaky wheel part.

No, you can’t always fire those that are imperious or bullies. But yes, you can figure out how to dig even deeper for those that aren’t. That means you won’t take advantage of their good nature, or settle for giving them merely what they will accept. Instead, you treat the good guys with even more effort and care and grace than you ever would have exerted for the tyrants.

The word will spread.

[The other alternative is a fine one, if you're up for it... specialize in the worst possible clients and bosses, the least gratifying assignments. You'll stand out in an uncrowded field! The mistake is thinking you're doing one and actually doing neither by doing both.]

 

 

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Strategies For Customer Retention

article_photoWithout customers any business no matter how smart or inventive will simply curl up and die, in this hyper modern market with quick changing frequencies it’s imperative you manage to get your customers to stick to you like glue. Enticing them in is just the beginning of the journey, once they’re through the door, it’s not enough to just leave them standing there admiring the wallpaper. Unless you apply some notable retention strategies, you’ll soon find them running for the nearest fire exit as your business slowly withers into extinction. Here are some great tactics that will ensure your customers stay right where they should be; with you.

Start as you mean to go on

Form the very first nibble of interest you should be finding ways to keep your customers coming back for more. Customer loyalty is a highly sort after prospect, and it’s not just given away like yesterdays newspapers. Your customers want to know you care about them and not just about notching up another sale. Getting to know and understand your customer is like entering into a lifetime relationship that will flourish over many years, and benefit both parties. You get your repeat business, and the customer feels valued and part of a brand. As human beings it’s a natural occurrence to want to belong to something, be it a family, a sports club or a brand. Sharing values with your customers is a sure to way to make them feel welcomed, and part of the community that you offer rather than just a statistic on a flow diagram or a thin slice in your latest pie chart.

Engage your customers in every way

Engaging with your customers through various media will give them insights into your business and spur on reciprocated insights for you to use in return. Keep your content informative and relevant, and listen carefully to the feedback that you get. This can be one of the best places to get advice for innovations as they come straight from your own customers who know your business without bias. Using blogs and social media channels are great ways to connect with various customers and engage through different ways, monthly or weekly emails can be good reminders to customers to show you are constantly thinking of them and they’re not swept to one side once they’ve crossed your palm with gold.

Always go further

Going above and beyond the call of duty is probably the best way to enhance customer loyalty. If a customer feels they can confide in your brand and get trusted advice then they will consider you a trusted relation that they can come to time and time again, this is a certain way to create unbreakable bonds. Online contact retailer Nextdaylenses, has gone beyond simply allowing customers to visit the NextdayLenses website. They also offer e-mail and Skype Optical advice which gives their customers a more personal chance to directly connect with staff and the brand.

No sooner have you found your customers than you begin to lose them again unless you’re prepared to fight for them. Many businesses today will see as many as 80% of their customers drift in to the ether, just make sure your business doesn’t follow the trend.

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Kevin McNulty is a budding entrepreneur and author. When he’s not working on his own projects he loves blogging and cycling.

 

 

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How Important Is Support On Your Site?

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In the modern era of technology, one of the things that a lot of websites will now offer is a 24-hour support service to all of their customers and potential clients. Although this seems like a good thing to have, there are a number of points that you need to take into account before you decide whether it would be something that would be worth it for you in the long term. Here, we will explore more about if having on call support regardless of the time of the day is right for your business.

What queries will you have to deal with?

The first thing that you need to consider is what kind of queries may be asked. If the usual things are quite general, then you might find that it is sufficient to simply have a page where common questions are answered, and a call line or email support that aims to respond to users within a 24-hour period. There are a number of very successful websites that choose to do this, and it can work well.

What about if there are urgent issues?

If it is likely that your customers would have urgent problems, then you might find that offering 24-hour support is worth it. A live chat feature or a phone line may be sufficient. However, it might be that you can offer a 24-hour call out service where you charge premium rates. This could be ideal if you offer a service that people require all hours of the day.

How many customers do you have?

You also need to consider the number of customers that you have who are active at night. It is likely that you would have to pay somebody a wage if you wanted an all day and all night support contact, and this means it is important that you ensure you are making the right choice. Hiring somebody is going to cost a lot of money so you would need to do some sort of feasibility study. If you are only a small company, you might find that it would not be worth it. However, if you find you are getting a number of email queries during the night that are urgent, and that would be beneficial to hire somebody this will be the right move.

Offer the customer what they want

The most important thing to think about when you have a website that aims to sell services is whether you are giving the customer everything that they need. If you are, this means that not only are they going to be happy with the service that you’re providing, but they would also be much more likely to recommend you to other people in the future. So, if you feel that it would be worth it in the long term, support would be a great idea. However, it very much depends on your company, the size of the customer base, and the nature of the queries that would likely be handled.

Kristian has plenty of experience working with those offering IT support London. He has worked with several developers, and also offers some of these services as well.

 

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The Key To Happy Customers

Happy pretty young girl with friends in the backgroundIf you want your business to do better, you really only need to have one thing: happy customers. While customers in general will support your business, happy customers, the ones that are completely satisfied with your service, your products, and the experience you offer, will make sure your business succeeds beyond your wildest expectations. If you’re looking to put a few smiles on some customers, here are some tips you might find useful.

Don’t Bombard Them

Happy customers also mean satisfied customers. They’ve received the information they needed from you, nothing less and nothing more. While more content, more deals, and more emails might sound like a good thing from a business owner’s standpoint, you have to consider the perspective of the consumer. Most likely, you’re not the only business they’ve subscribed to. This means that in addition to your one or two emails per day, they’re also receiving emails, status updates, texts, and seeing advertisements from various other businesses. The last thing you want to do is be the business that goes overboard because they won’t hesitate to unsubscribe from your updates.

After you’ve gained a new follower, like, email subscriber, or blog reader, thank them for their support and then give them some space. You’ve captured their attention, which means they’ll be more aware of the amount of content you send their way. If that content is too few and far between, they can quickly forget about you. On the other hand, too much content can be overwhelming, annoying, and misinterpreted as lower quality. None of these bode well for your business development purposes.

Instead, find the right balance between the amount of content you send out and the time you send it out. Sending out smaller amounts of the right content at optimal times means that you have a higher chance at the success of that email, blog post, status update, or otherwise.

Ask For Feedback

If you’re sensing that your customers aren’t happy or you’d like to find ways to improve their experience with your business, the simplest way to find viable data is to simply ask them. That’s right; your customers partially hold the key to their own happiness. But it’s your responsibility as a business owner to unleash that insight and analyze it.

You can ask for customer feedback a number of ways. The most obvious is through online surveys. But this requires asking the right questions in the right format. The trick is to figure out what you’d like to know the most and then ask it in the simplest way. For instance, if you’d like to find out how your customer service team is doing ask how customers would rate their experience when deal with them. Asking for an answer on a number scale like 1 being the best experience and 10 being the worst experience would make the question even simpler. Also, try asking the question again but in a different way. This gives you more data to base your analysis off of. For a similar question to our previous example, you can ask how likely your customer is to recommend the customer service team. Again, use a numbered scale for easy answering.

You can also request feedback through social media, email newsletters, and posing questions at the end of blog posts on your website. Engage your customers and have them take interest in making the business they patronize better for their own benefit. You might want to offer deals, discounts, coupons, and other prizes for those who fill out the surveys. This will generate more interest, giving your surveys a variety of people to request feedback from.

Offer Occasional Deals

There are only a handful of companies that can get away with not offering any deals to their customers, but those companies have spent decades building up a reputation to do so. Apple, for instance, is know for it’s incredible customer service and top-of-the-line products, so customers are happy even though they almost never get a deal on a new mac computer. However, the rest of us have to find a way to compete and keep our customers coming back.

Offering deals, exclusive memberships, coupons, discounts, or another type of content is a way to reward your customers. Don’t think of offers as giving money away, think of it as an investment in the happy customers you’ll make along the way. You could either start with small offers to get your customers buzzing or go for a great big sale or deal to get them really excited. Afterwards, you will have established long-term relationships with many customers that might even do some word of mouth marketing for you. Offer rewards every now and then to keep customers looking forward to coming back into your store or onto your website.

Turning regular old customers into happy, satisfied customers means your business can do more and more. Instead of worrying over the perfect product, the perfect website, or the perfect Twitter account, worry yourself with how to make your customers smile every time they think about your business. Happy customers like that will keep your business alive for years to come.

Pete Wise is a copywriter working for Luminar Insights, a source of hispanic data. When I’m not writing articles, I’m posting to my LinkedIn page.

 

 

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The Ten Steps to Achieving Enlightenment in Customer Service

It really does not matter what industry you are in, or whether you provide a service or a product, the essential tenements of customer service are the same.

The first and more natural form of customer service is reactive.  It consists of the following progression:

  1. You receive a complaint or are somehow made aware of dissatisfaction.  It is imperative to respond quickly, without excuses, and honestly.
  2. This phase is essentially about listening, showing empathy, and trying to ascertain what the customer expectations were and how the customer perceives they were not met.  It is imperative to detail and documents what the customer has been promised, by whom, and in what timeframe.
  3. Then you need to get the customer to agree on what an acceptable outcome would be moving forward.
  4. Now is the time for research, you need to go back to your service providers, compare the information given to you by the customer and ask them honestly for their version of what happened.
  5. Comparing version A (customer) with version B (supplier) it is then up to you to determine how get from A to B in such a way it that the customer perceives the original expectations have been fulfilled or exceeded.
  6. This is where it gets really fun.  A really great customer service Rep is nothing but a problem solver.  If you look at it as doing the minimum to get your complaining customer to shut up, you’re missing boat.  To me there was no greater satisfaction and being able to take a completely unhappy customer and making them so delighted with the process that they become the biggest advocate for your company or service.
  7. Here the selling goes both ways, but at this stage it usually negotiating with the service provider to get them to agree the original expectations that were promised to the customer, what resources are required to reasonably get those expectations fulfilled, and agree on how soon that can happen.
  8. Communication on both sides is critical.  The side that usually fall short, is keeping the customer abreast of the day-to-day efforts you are making, and progress that is happening on his behalf.
  9. When you believe that you have resolved all the issues, restored performance to meet the customer’s expectations, it is crucially important to have the customer agree.  Most often they will be very appreciative, and happy to document the turnaround and all the efforts made on their behalf to make things right.  This is when they become not only good references, but advocates and the subject for testimonials.
  10. The last step in the process is to return to your supplying team, share with them the success of your customer service effort, their part in it, how much you appreciate them, and if possible name them specifically and the customer testimonial.

After repeating the steps many many times, the process becomes second nature.  A truly enlightened supplier will by nature intuit this procedure.  When this happens one can predict many of the steps of this process and create a similar set of positive customer experiences proactively.

Although in a perfect world predictive customer service would preempt much of the pain and duplication of efforts, and the steps outlined above.  In actual practice sometimes it is actually a benefit to walk a customer through the steps of pain, to endear them.  As they say “the selling begins when the customer says no,” so sometimes endearing yourself to a customer begins when you really blow it, then make it right.

In my former life as a Semiconductor Capital Equipment salesman, I walked into a situation where we were eight months behind on a one year  $2,000,000 retrofit program.  It took me almost a year to get everything cleaned up, and within a few months after that I ended up selling them an additional $14,000,000 worth of equipment.

 

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Top Tips for Ensuring Your Customers Come Back Again and Again

Finding new customers can be an expensive and time consuming process.  You need to figure out where to advertise to reach them, build up brand awareness, and then persuade them to trust you enough that they’ll hand over their money to you.  You could invest in thousands of ad impressions, get a lot of visitors and a fair few calls and emails, but end up seeing only a handful of sales for all your work.  Depressing, isn’t it?

That’s why it’s so important to look after your existing customers.  You’ve already built up brand awareness and trust with them, so they’re much more likely to buy your product, or hire your services again.  What can you do to keep your existing customers happy?

Reward Loyalty

Rewarding loyalty doesn’t have to mean starting your own loyalty card or points scheme, although you could do something like that if you run an online store that attracts a lot of smaller, repeat purchases.  There are other things you can do.  Offer a special discount to people who have purchased from you recently, or give your regular customers some little “added extras” with your next order.  If you have a customer that has been buying from you regularly for a long time, send them a token gift to commemorate their 50th purchase. It doesn’t really matter what you do, as long as you show your customers that you appreciate them.

Prioritize Customer Service

Good customer service should be your top priority from the outset; not only because quality customer service is an important part of crisis prevention, but because the quality of your customer service will be noticed during good times too. People don’t always call customer service with a complaint – sometimes they call with a question, or even to leave a compliment.  You don’t want to sour the tone of a happy customer by having their first interaction with your customer service department be 25 minutes of hold music.

Communicate When Things Go Wrong

No matter how carefully crafted your crisis prevention plan is, it’s inevitable that one day, something will go horribly wrong, and the effectiveness of your business crisis management skills will be tested.  When that day comes, you want to make sure that you win your customers over.  Most people will be understanding when they find out that there’s a problem – as long as you communicate effectively and work with your customer to fix the problem in the best way for both of you.   Be open, honest, and flexible, and you could earn yourself a valuable ally thanks to your communication skills.

Be Human

Dealing with faceless corporations is not pleasant.  The simple act of being human, and treating your customers as humans (rather than entries in a CRM database) will inspire loyalty in a lot of people.  It’s easy to get caught up in paperwork, invoices, spreadsheets, and crisis prevention plans when you’re running a business.  Don’t lose sight of the fact that your customers are real people, and that sometimes a personal touch is appreciated.

This post was written by Crispin Jones on behalf of Insignia who can advise you on crisis prevention and business crisis management. Photo: Victor1558

 

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Key Benefits Of A CRM System

A CRM system enables a business to manage customer relations. Customer relationships are perhaps the most important as aspect of a business. Have you ever met people who only trust a certain brand? Of course you have. Chances are, you yourself might be having preferences regarding certain brands of businesses. More often than not, this brand loyalty is result of a CRM system. Let us assess the benefits of a CRM system in further detail.

1)       A CRM system saves money: this is simply due to the fact that all the processes are automated. If your business is small, then you can control all your interactions with your customers with just one computer. Traditional methods of maintaining and managing customer relations are not effective and they are expensive. They involve processes which are obsolete and sometimes backfire by irritating the customers. A CRM system lets you interact with your customers in a way that is easy on the pocket. Often, it costs next to nothing to operate this software.

2)      A CRM system saves time: This one is pretty obvious. Time can be equated into money. We have already mentioned that a CRM system is automated – this helps it to save time. For example – if you need to reach out to a particular customer; then you might call him or post him a letter. If you want to send even more time and do not want to invade upon the privacy of the customer; then you may decide to write an email.

This would require you to type a message. Reaching out to 1000 customers a day means that you have to type or edit a message 1000 times. However, if you have CRM system -it will call, text or mail a customer automatically. It will also generate a relevant message and convey it to the customer. It also analyses feedback from a customer and updates the database. It also acts upon the feedback that it receives from a customer. Isn’t it amazing?

3)      A CRM system helps to attract new customers: A CRM system can be programmed to interact with customers in a way that is non – intrusive, polite and interesting. This enables a business to create a good first impression upon a customer without appearing desperate or cheeky. For example: You own a website regarding your business. If a customer likes your website and decides to sign up, then this is usually achieved by asking the customer to enter his/her email.

Once the email is entered, the CRM system updates the database and sends a welcome mail to the customer. Then it performs other functions such as updating the customer with information in the form of newsletters and so on. If a person unsubscribe, then it also strikes out the customer’s email from the database.

4)      A CRM system maximises profit: A CRM system saves money, saves time and attracts new customers. Obviously, it helps to improve the efficiency of a business and thus maximises profit.

5)      A CRM system is hassle free: A CRM system saves time, money, maximises profit. It saves the need for physical tasks and meticulous documentation. Once programmed, it takes care of all the hassles and lets the owner concentrate of other important aspects of a business.

Dan Rostner is currently working for company that offers CRM and successful implementation of CRM System.

 

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Does a Help Desk Software Application Provide Help?

In Customer Relationship Management, one of the critical elements of a business is customer service, the key aspect of which is to provide timely assistance to the customer when required. When a customer calls for help, the help desk representatives and customer service personnel will be able to help the customer by providing quick and accurate solutions with the use of an efficient held desk software application.

Typical Functioning of a Help Desk

Help desk representatives mostly rely on databases and spreadsheets to access customer information. When a customer calls for help, the representative usually locates the customer’s purchases, contact information, and order history. The representative may have to take note of the information provided by the customer, and then open the database and spreadsheet containing the customer’s history. This process may take up to five minutes, depending on the speed of the computer in use. The representative may have to fetch information from another department, during which time the customer is placed on hold. After nearly 10-15 minutes, the representative may have to inform the customer that further investigation is, and that the representative will have to call the customer at a later stage.

Wasting the customer’s time in this manner may be detrimental to the company. The customer may decide to search elsewhere for friendlier and less time-consuming service. Losing a customer may be the last thing that a business needs when trying to deliver efficient customer service.

How Help Desk Software Helps?

With proper help desk software, a help desk representative can easily and promptly attend to the customer’s query. It allows the representative to pull up organized information about a specific customer immediately. Help desk software programs that offer self-service options are available, which may reduce the total number of representatives required in a company. Such programs help businesses by providing problem resolution options to the customer, knowledge management, call tracking, and call management. Some help desk software applications can be integrated with several popular business applications and phone systems. These programs can be used to augment a company’s existing customer service strategies and help desk applications.

Retain Your Customers

Help desk software is considerably helpful when dealing with customer relationship management. Not only does the software help to manage user data and information, but it also helps to route inquiries and calls to the appropriate people, who can make the relevant decisions. By streamlining the customer service experience, help desk software makes the operation more efficient for both the customer as well as the business. This helps to retain customers, thereby making the business more cost effective.

Helping an existing customer is considerably more cost-effective than seeking a new customer. All businesses may not equally benefit from help desk software; however, there is no doubt that the software provides companies with improved methods of helping their customers. Sustaining customer relationships and supporting your business can be simpler by using technology that enhances the customers’ experience when they contact a company for assistance.

Jacob Jackson works for one of the leading developers of online CRM - WebCRM. He also blogs a lot about this topic at the official WebCRM Blog.

 

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Who Says You Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks About Service?

When it’s time to teach a long term employee who has been around since the early days how to handle new customer service challenges and tools many managers decide that it’s time to let the individual go. After years of hard work and service the assumption that an old dog can’t learn a few new service tricks costs them their security. And with that you may find much dissention among the remaining employees. An older employee can still learn all of the software implemented tools and the new ways of providing customer service that are much more effective than some of the old ways.

Don’t discount experience. Experience gives a representative a depth of knowledge that can’t be learned in any other fashion. This is knowledge that can be drawn upon in an urgent or taxing situation that can save the day. It’s important to give the reps a chance to grow into the idea of using software programs, chat windows, and other alternative forms of communication to deal with customers.

When you begin your training remember that the software program you have for customer service is complex in what it can do. It should not be complex to look at or to follow. Your new reps will probably pick it up faster than your older reps but that doesn’t mean that you won’t be totally blown away by the older reps’ performance over the next few months. Allow each their own space and time and help them see the advantages of the program. Once the connection between doing their job easier and doing their job better comes together they are likely to take off with it and run.

Your older long term reps are naturally going to be a little nervous about using the customer support software. Most of them have been using an old phone and email based system that may have them believing that it only gets harder from here. Make it fun when possible. Make it lighthearted enough that you help set the reps who are learning at ease. This way they will be much more open to listening and understanding while putting forth the effort they need to in order to relearn their job.

After fun, of course, comes lots of practice. Of course, every time you bring out the role playing techniques you get a few eye roles and groans, but it actually helps. These exercises are still used today because they work. Whenever possible have the reps use the customer support software during the role playing so that not only do they get to practice brushing up on their skills with customer relationships but the also get a chance to see that the customer support software really isn’t a big scary monster hiding in the closet. Hands on approaches are almost always more effective than lecture approaches for teaching nearly anything.

Your customer service reps are there to learn as are you. If you make a mistake within the class or the training session let your reps see and hear that it happens to everyone and you fix it and move on. That is all there is to it. Hopefully, there won’t be many mistakes but alleviating the pressure from the very first training will help them perform better under real circumstances.

Steve Davidson is President of Cynergy Corporation, a software development company formed in 1998 to develop and support Help Desk Support Software and CRM relationship software to improve help desks, customer relationship building, and general communication between business to business.  He is also President of U.S. Infotel Corporation.  U.S. Infotel provides and supports corporate telephone systems and call center applications geared towards improved productivity through technology.  Contact Cynergy Corporation  for more information

 

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Five Steps to First-Class Customer Service

Part of having a successful business is having the ability to deal with customers effectively. It is not just enough to have products or services which work. This is because consumers like to feel pampered and important, and they will not hesitate to take their business elsewhere if they feel like they aren’t being treated well enough. Great thing that there are only five strategies that separate so-so from award-winning customer service.

1. Keep in Touch

The most basic of all pieces of advice, it is extremely important to keep in touch with your customers. There are a myriad of ways to do so from newsletters to emails. However, it is crucial that you obtain your customers’ explicit permission to receive any written content from you or else they will just be bummed rather than thrilled. Make sure that your newsletters and emails contain information that will help your customers solve frequent problems.

2. Aim for Great Service

You, as an entrepreneur, might put premium on great service but your staff might not. This is why a whole segment on customer service should be dedicated when training your employees. Don’t underestimate the simple gestures of greeting customers.

3. Have a System of Responding to Customers

What customers hate the most is when employees are not able to help them well enough when it comes to queries and disputes. For this reason, your company should have a system for providing solutions to the most common customer complaints.

It is crucial to have disputes solved during the first contact with the customers in question and as-much-as-possible during the same business day. You can keep a notebook which will guide employees throughout the entire situation or a searchable text file.

4. Trust Your Staff

In the absence of a manager or the proprietor, employees should be able to make the right choices and appropriate calls. If you’re confident enough to trust your employees, simply instruct them to document any special cases or designate someone as the problem-solver. For instance, every dental office usually has a front office worker who tries to resolve disputes when the dentist is out.

5. Know Your Customers

In order for any business to solve their customers better, they need to know who they are dealing with first. Businesses can do so by keeping track of their interactions with customers whether that is through a piece of software or through old-school index cards.

Elliot Pearson Writes as a specialist for Dentist Identity who provides Dental Marketing and Dental SEO

 

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