Tag Archives: customer service

25 Jul

5 Recommended Good Business Practices

It takes a lot to run a business. One of the most effective ways to maintain a good business is to develop good practices you can utilize on a regular basis. Here a few basic things you can do to stay current and on top of things:

1.Update your business plan.
Sounds like business 101 right? But many small business owners never put all the pieces of the puzzle together to see how or why their businesses succeed or fail. Nor do they even make a business plan or revisit their plans. A good business plan includes a summary of the what your business is, a detailed description of the goods and services you plan to sell and includes market research to identify who the competition is, what they are selling and how they are doing in the market. It also spells out how you will market your business, and what your internal management structure will look like. If you are looking to get a loan, a written business plan is often a must and can include market strategies and a financial forecast of your business.

2. Shop your competition.
When was the last time you drove around to see what retailers are in your area? Or shopped online to check out who else is doing what you do? Too many small business focus only on what they offer. They have no idea what is going on around them in their market niche. This is true from groceries to tires, appliances to real estate. To really compete in the market, you have to know what’s out there and what you are competing against. Only then can you be secure in your business model, price point and services.

“Customer perception is defined as: ‘A marketing concept that encompasses a customer’s impression, awareness and/or consciousness about a company or its offerings. Customer perception is typically affected by advertising, reviews, public relations, social media, personal experiences and other channels.’ ”
-Businessdictionary.com

3. Train the staff.
Small business often don’t put the necessary time and energy into the people they hire to make sure they have the skills they need. Sure the employee may come with a great resume and attitude, and perhaps good experience, but they will need your support to get the job done in your business. What’s your vision? How do you share it with your staff? What do you want them to focus on? How do you communicate that?

Research is well documented in showing that training that is on the spot, unplanned or lacking all together, takes away from productivity, performance and sales. It ranks up there in the loss category with lengthy meetings as a productivity killer. Give your staff the advantage of knowledge and a skill set that will give your business a leg up in the industry. Take an interest in what they want and in what they need to learn to do their jobs effectively and outperform the competition!

4. Improve procedures and systems.
Too many people get stuck doing things a certain way (“because that’s just the way it’s done” or “because there’s just no way around it”) which frequently causes a backlog. Do you know who ends up suffering? The customer. Simply put, you can’t afford that in your business. If customer service is your priority, and if customers truly drive your business, what can you do to improve policies and procedures to reflect that? Find an efficient way to offer the same quality product or service in a reasonable amount of time. And if you can’t, create a policy that includes incentives to help the customer adjust to a lengthy wait time and their dissatisfaction – before they get online to talk about it!

5. Connect with the community where you business lives.
Don’t be a stranger, visit the Chamber of Commerce, volunteer at local agencies, attend conferences and local meetings, sponsor a school or sports team. Engage with the community around you. It will be bring name recognition, put your face to your business name and give you a chance to develop real relationships, one of the pillars of successful businesses. Expand your personal referral base.

Additional questions to ask yourself:

Do you take every opportunity to get a sale or do you just wait for business to come to you?

Do you know the demographics of your customer base?

Do you take steps to increase sales, improve relations with clients or take an active interest in what people think of your business?

Are you actively involved in your community?

Is your business on Yelp? When was the last time you looked at the reviews?


References:

From Entrepreneur.com – Why you must have a business plan. 

From Commercialtribe.com- Why an Inadequate Sales Training Program is Hurting Your Goals
From SBS.org  an article on how to build a small business –  10 Tips to Help You Build and Grow a Stand-Out Small Business Brand.

From Entrepreneur.com – Closing Time: 6 Lessons in Good Business Practices From a Maryland Crab Shack.

From the Design Craft Council of Ireland, CCOIEnterprise.ie , 10 Essential good business practices.

From Forbes.com –Entrepreneurs Should Be Community Leaders.

From The Community Tool Box at the University of Kansas, CTB.KU.edu, Chapter 14, Section 1: Learning How to Be a Community Leader.

From SBA.gov- Write your business plan.

18 Jul

5 Basic Tips to Good Customer Service

What happened to good customer service?

True story: A friend of mine went in to a bagel shop one day. There was a young woman standing behind the counter and behind her were 4 racks with fresh bagels. Sam asked for 2 of his favorite bagels. The girl said “I’m sorry we’re out of bagels today”. He looked at her, surprised, and then pointed to the racks behind her. She replied, “Oh those are tomorrow’s bagels”. So he asked for the manager who came out and said, “Sorry we are out of bagels”. Again he pointed to the racks of fresh bagels sitting there. The manager said, “we can’t sell those, those are tomorrow’s bagels”. His response: “you won’t have tomorrow customers if you don’t help the customers you have today”. They, of course, sold him the bagels.

Question: Do you think he ever went back to that bagel shop?

The reason why a business needs good customer service is pretty simple: Customers drive the business. Every business should seek to offer outstanding customer service.

“A customer interaction can become a brand reputation action really quickly”.
– Madeleine Aman, Social Media Strategist, Duke Energy

Tips to good customer service

 

“Customers may forget what you said but they’ll never forget get how you made them feel.”
– Unknown

1. Create a forward thinking culture of service within your organization.

If employees believe in the business, if they are invested, feel valued, and are offered opportunities to succeed, they will be much more likely and better able to sell products. Make sure your employees understand all the products and services that are currently offered and what’s coming down the pipeline. Be on site with your staff, check-in, answer questions, model good sales and customer interaction. Offer training and support. Be enthusiastic. Offer incentives. Make your team feel valued. They are the ones that make contact with the customers. Creating a team perspective can also automatically generate accountability, enthusiasm and engagement.

 

“The customer’s perception is your reality”
– Kate Zabriski

2. Hire people that are friendly and people oriented!

Who does the customer come into contact with first when they walk in? Or call on the phone? Customer service is a skill set beyond just a position to fill. People that get hired as a favor to someone or because they were the only person you could find, may not be the best candidate to make a first impression. Research shows first impressions happen within the first 7 seconds of contact. Consumers today are savvy; they have a level of expectation before they walk in the door. Create an inviting environment by phone or with a friendly warm body. Meet their expectations from the start!

 

3. Include a strategy that promotes employees making contact with the customer immediately.

Hire staff that can greet a customer face-to-face, look them in the eye and say “hello” in a polite and respectful manner! It’s easy to create an inviting atmosphere, even on the phone or online. That is the experience you want the customer to have during those first 7 seconds. After that the staff can then start to work on building a customer’s trust by asking important questions and assessing the customer’s needs.

 

“The art of communication is the language of leadership”
– James Humes

4. Teach and model good listening skills to your employees.

Good communication skills include asking important questions to assess the customer needs and then actively listening to how the customer answers. Is the customer upset? Confused? What else are they looking at? Communicating clearly, communicating in a positive manner and utilizing product knowledge during the conversation are great attributes for good customer service. Teach staff to get excited about products and to expand their product knowledge. Model patience with your staff so they learn to offer that trait to customers. Especially for those irate customers! Teach your staff to value being of service to customers. That’s what they are there for.

“When customers feel taken care of they are more inclined to buy from you again.”
– Helpscout.net

5. Sell the product with a service profile that invites a repeat customer.

Give the impression the customer is invited to come back. Assessing the needs of the customer also means listening to what the customer is not saying. Say it for them. Offer additional product knowledge, information about upcoming sales, other services or other ways to invite additional business, maybe through mail order or online. Successful businesses direct their service profiles and strategies to achieve customer loyalty, customer retention and generate referrals. The only way a customer can respond is if they have the information in hand. And they only way they will come back or refer someone is if they have a positive experience.

So plant the seeds. Make it so they want to come back to buy other things, or refer a friend and talk about you – in a good way!


References:

Customer service assessment by Job Test Prep.

Forbes magazine: 7 seconds to make a first impression.

Inc.com: 9 ways to make a great first impression.

Business.com: Making a great first impression with your customers. 

Social Media Today Episode #33: How the largest utility helps customers.

Callcenter-iq.com podcast: Assessing maturity in customer service experience.

Inc.com: 10 reasons employees really care about their jobs.

Helpscout.net: Customer loyalty.

Copyright 2019 Etain Services.