Category Archives: Customer Service

You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours

By Stephen Rhodes

Back scratching is at core of social media. That is, mutual back scratching.

Most small businesses that I have met are still scratching their head over the use of social media. Many are there because they feel they need to be but haven’t yet figured out that these tools – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn- are not just billboards to advertise their wares.

Three Happy Polar Bears with Santa's and Captain's hat

Eventually people will tire of your self promotion and stop reading your posts. To be effective in any of the social media platforms, you must share not only your own content but also that of people following or liking you. It’s about dialogue and not monologue- providing people an opportunity to talk to each other over shared values, emerging trends, business opportunities, even quality of service.

Online reviews, and referrals can carry enormous weight.  So, be sure to acknowledge praise when you get it and  most importantly, respond quickly and efficiently to any customer concerns or problems.

To do that you need to be scratching a few backs.



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Filed under Content marketing, Customer Service, social media

Never will you ever muck with your brand

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

iStock_000016561283SmallI said  the other day Knowing your customers is important. Knowing why they are your customer is even more so. And I have often said your brand is what your customers believe it is.

If your customers have come to rely on you for quality and service, resist the temptation to lower prices for short-term return. Once you set the bar lower, it’s difficult to lift it again.  It’s not a sustainable strategy.

So it comes back to building a brand that your customers want and cherish. Build on that reputation and don’t muck with it.


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Filed under Branding, Customer Service, Uncategorized

Who is your customer?

By Stephen Rhodes

stephen2I am surprised at times, about how little some business owners know about their customers.

Some they can actually name, but they aren’t sure why they buy. Some are regulars but little else is known about their buying habits. Some visit out of habit or convenience because that’s more important than britain-retailprice or service.

Imagine if we could sort them all into neat little piles. All those who come here for service to the left. If you are here because of price, head to the right. Quality? Follow me.

Knowing your customers is important. Knowing why they are your customer is even more so.

Ask them.



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Filed under Customer Service, Uncategorized

Volkswagen – another epic big brand fail

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

When big brands fail, somehow we are shocked.

The latest is Volkswagen,  engulfed by a growing crisis over its attempt to make millions of diesel cars appear cleaner than they are.

The scandal broke Friday, when U.S. regulators said the German company had programmed some 500,000 vehicles to emit lower levels of harmful emissions in official tests than on the roads.

vwVolkswagen stunned investors Tuesday by admitting that the problem was much bigger than that: internal investigations had found significant discrepancies in 11 million vehicles worldwide.

It set aside 6.5 billion euros ($7.3 billion) to cover the cost of recalls and “efforts to win back the trust of our customers,” trashing its profit forecast for the year in the process.

Shares in Volkswagen plunged 18% Tuesday, after crashing 17% Monday. That means about a third of the value of the group has been wiped out in two days.

Volkswagen is not the first. There is the GM ignition switch problem, that caused 13 deaths and 10 years to recognize. Toyota’s airbag problems. Toyota ‘s $1.2 billion settlement with federal prosecutors over its handling of more than 4 million recalled cars because of unintended acceleration in 2009 and 2010.

The US Justice Department will investigate Volkswagen, so undoubtedly there is more bad news coming.

What are we to make of this other than greed is ever present in corporate America?

Brand loyalty is built on trust. Trust isn’t bought, it’s earned. Volkswagen has a tough row to hoe.




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Filed under advertising, Branding, Customer Service

Do we need flyers anymore?

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

I am standing in a cashout line at my local grocery store and the woman ahead of me is flashing her iPhone at the cashier. I ask her what she is doing and she says she has sourced a dozen or so products at other stores selling for less money. The cashier is checking the price on the iPhone so she can apply a discount.

No way.

grocery flyersThe customer uses an app called Flipp, (no I don’t have shares) which carries a couple of dozen weekly flyers of grocery stores, hardware, electronics, general merchandising etc.

Two things struck me. All flyers are on my handheld device, not in a pile at my feet. And comparison price shopping is easy, and real-time convenient at the grocery store. The app is easy to use. Find a product, clip it and it’s saved.

I don’t think I had ever looked at a paper flyer until this year when I realized how out of touch I was with food prices – like the price per pound of meat. So now when I look for boneless/skinless chicken at $3.99/pound I do it on my iPhone app.

There is a belief in the food industry that most customers will not drive by one food store to get to another.

Price matching is just good customer service and it makes it easier to stay loyal to your favourite grocery store.

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Filed under advertising, Customer Service