Category Archives: Customer Service

Does Your Business Respond With RAGE?

JBMG_5500aBy Jeff Bowman

Nothing says more about a company than how they respond to customer complaints. As hard as we might try to be perfect in our business, there will always be something that someone either doesn’t like or appreciate about what we do. As we all know, most people will never complain directly to you, however they will talk to everyone they know behind our corporate backs, and that is far more damaging than expressing their concerns directly in the first place.

The thing is, that business owners often don’t want to hear complaints, they don’t encourage customer interaction and often won’t acknowledge there is even an issue. Educated consumers and social media have been changing all that!  Now the “talk to their friends behind your corporate back” means involving the masses through “internet interaction”.  There have been tons of high-profile cases where social unrest bred through internet or twitter posts have led to serious issues for large corporations.  Kevin Smith vs, Southwest Airlines , Lulu Lemon’s “exposure” grew tremendously due to the web. Maritz Research recently studied Twitter complaints and found that almost 70% went unresponded to by the company being tweeted about! That is simply unacceptable in today’s business world

Conversely, the study found that 83% of the complainants that received a reply liked or loved the fact that the company responded.Liked or loved, those are some pretty strong words! I’ll bet that those companies who responded did it with RAGE.  RAGE is my acronym for Recognize, Acknowledge, Gauge and Evaluate.

To be able to recognize that there is an issue, you need to invite conversation through social media, so that consumers can hopefully talk to you first. If they like the response, chances are they will not only like it, but respond socially in a more positive light about you.

When you acknowledge, you do it with empathy and understanding.  Put yourself in the consumer’s boots and respond in a way that shows real concern and a desire to rectify the situation.

Continue to gauge social media to determine if there is more to the issue than a few scattered complaints, as well as seeing if your goodwill is gaining you points by those who you have responded to.  Is your name popping up elsewhere or are you trending?

Finally, evaluate what happened, how quickly you responded, the importance of your actions, the outcome and if there is anything else that is warranted to be done. Try to measure the increase in goodwill that occurs after the initial interaction.

Utilizing RAGE to your benefit will help you turn dissatisfaction into trust, respect and business growth.  Turn those with complaints into your company’s evangelists and turn the social media tide in your favour.

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Filed under blogging, Communications, Customer Service, Jeff Bowman, social capital, social media, Social Networking, twitter

Putting the wow into your customer service

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

Customer service isn’t what you think it is; it’s what your customer says it is.

When we work with clients, we  ask  what separates them from the competition and often the response is customer service. And that’s not surprising because I have never heard a business say they have bad customer service.

The Disney model is to anticipate what the customer wants or needs and be one step ahead of them. Few businesses do that and that’s why Disney is in a class by itself. Before anyone steps into one of their theme parks, they know who you are, where you have come from, and how long you have been listening to your kids wail “are we there yet?” Your first visit  has to exceed your expectations or they haven’t done their job. And based on their research, they do time and again. All employees take the Disney training and are empowered to do whatever it takes to ensure the customers experience the wow factor.

Putting the wow into your customer service isn’t as difficult as you think. But it requires thought and discipline.

Those who know me, know I drive a 1995 Volvo, which requires some TLC from time to time.

In recent weeks I have had two mechanics look at a particular problem with the car not starting. Paul, a mechanic at Collex Collision 
( 322 Rutherford Road, Brampton (905) 457-9250)  has been servicing the car for a number of years and is mindful of the age (read value) of the car and not spending lots of money on it.  So Collex calCollexls me to tell me they suspect a certain switch needs replacing but didn’t want to spend $500 of my money in case they were wrong. I appreciated their honesty. That’s the way Bill Strachan and his team at Collex work.

auto acumenSo, my mailman, another Volvo driver, says he has a relative who just opened a garage – auto-acumen – (310 Queen Street, Brampton (416 402 3226) and he is an experienced Volvo technician. So I took the car to Fyzal and he promised to check it out. A few hours later he listed a bunch of issues but said only one was required to get the car running again. Imagine.  It was the same switch that Paul identified at Collex.

Fyzal replaced the switch and the car is running fine. Auto-acumen also services all car makes.

A few days later, I am waiting for a haircut and my cell phone rings. It was Fyzal asking if there were any problems with the car. I was flabbergasted.

Some businesses  understand the value of customer service and practice it daily. Collex and auto-acumen get it.

Have you got a great customer service story?

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Filed under Customer Service

Do You Measure Once, Cut Twice?

JBMG_5500aBy Jeff Bowman

Business owners often have a couple of objective measurements that they make to gauge the effectiveness of their efforts. As admirable as that is, the problem remains that these measurements are normally conducted quarterly, bi-annually or at year-end, and often measure the relative financial success of the organization, while leaving unanswered critical questions about the how’s, the whys and the when’s.

George Bernard Shaw once said; “The only man who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measurements anew every time he sees me, while all the rest go on with their old measurements and expect me to fit them”. This applies to the majority of business people today. We carry on with our business activities for months, sometimes years without checking back to those who are directly responsible for the success or failure of our business, our clients. Maintaining the status quo, assuming that our product or services are still desired, well received and recommended by clients can be a fatal error in judgment.iStock_000013870483Small

Here are 5 questions you need to have answers to at regular frequencies in order to strategically develop your business activities.

  1. How do your new customers hear about you? Was it through referrals, your marketing, networking or some other way? How will you capitalize on this information once you have the answers?
  2. Did your product or service offer them a solution to a problem or issue they were encountering?  Was the solution sensational, very good or adequate? Can you get a testimonial?
  3. What features of your product or service are providing the greatest benefit to the clients? Is there a way to build on those? Are there other potential markets? Does the feature provide a future opportunity to solve other issues?
  4. What do your customers tell others about you, your company, your product or service and the experience of dealing with you? How often do you survey your clients?  Do you provide a mechanism for them to feed this information to you? Do you want to hear the good and the bad?
  5. Are there misconceptions about your product or service floating around in the marketplace?  Are you aware of anything negative on social media about you or your business?  Do you respond and if so how? Have you ever heard a potential client express any concern about dealing with you from something they might have heard?

We can spend countless hours testing and measuring every area of our business, and still emerge with a basic misunderstanding of why we are successful or where our failures are being hidden.  Keeping in touch with our clients provides us the truest measure of our efforts, and the clearest direction on how to grow, yet it is an area we often ignore until it may be too late. Continuous feedback allows us to make adjustments as we need them which gives a small business a huge advantage over larger organizations where change may be more cumbersome. By measuring once and cutting often, you are creating greater opportunity for errors in your business.

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Filed under Communications, Customer Service, Jeff Bowman, Small Business

Would You Buy from You?

JBMG_5500aBy Jeff Bowman

Having been involved in sales and sales training for the last 30 years, I have seen some major changes in both buyer habits and sales skills usage. The economy, the type of product or service you are selling, the demographic you are selling too and the cost of the product are among the many factors that affect the type of sales interaction that should take place. Sales training continually ranks very low on the list of business expenditures, however it is probably the most important factor in the success of your business, and one of the most tracked and analyzed areas of measurable data a company has.

I have put together a list of the 5 most common mistakes a salesperson will make and how to avoid them in future interactions. They are certainly not a replacement for continual and effective sales training, however they might resonate with you on a recent lost sale.

1. Calling on the wrong person is something we have all done, and it results in a waste of time and effort on your part. I used to call on whoever I could reach at the company, or the person I met at the networking event, and found that it was very counterproductive. Sure, we can consider those people “influencers” however simply asking the question, “are you the decision maker?” or “will you be the person signing off on this?” will get you further.

2. Relying too much on the web and social media to sell for you is a trap that a great number of companies are still trying to get out of. All we hear about today is how we need to be online. Online is no substitute for your direct selling skills. Online tools are an important part of your marketing mix designed to create awareness and help the potential client move towards contacting you.

iStock_000016561283Small3. Dropping your price to meet the customer’s expectation of value is a killer. By dropping your price, you have simply created a new selling point for future negotiations. Hold your price; increase the perceived value by adding something additional on, an extra month of coverage, free delivery, 30 days additional warranty, some small inexpensive accessory.

4. Selling an “opportunity” is far different from selling to a “need” and will usually result in rejection. Don’t assume that because you have uncovered an opportunity for a sale that the client has a definitive need at this point in time and has to purchase from you. For every solid sale potential there are thousands of tire kickers.

5. Overselling or continuing the sales pitch just because you are uncomfortable with the pregnant pause to allow a prospect to consider the options and come to a decision, could end the interaction prematurely. Uncover the need, assist the prospect by suggesting a product, describe the features it has that satisfy the need as well as identify the benefits to them. STOP. Let them consider it and watch for a buying signal!

All of these mistakes are preventable, sales training to continually upgrade skills and competency levels are an investment every business needs to consider. These skills are tools of the trade. Are your skills up to par, and more importantly, would you buy from you?

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Filed under Customer Service, Jeff Bowman, Sales, Training and Development, Uncategorized

Panning for Gold in Your Database

JBMG_5500aBy Jeff Bowman

A common question that we ask business owners and those in the not for profit world is “how do you utilize your database?” The answers range from “we use it for our newsletters and contacts regularly” to “database?”

The collection of customer information has become a hot topic with new privacy laws and spam legislation. Many customers have no reservations about providing an e-mail address for instance, while others would sooner poke themselves with sharp sticks than give that information.  And I can’t blame them, I attended a “trade show” a month ago, and I am still getting calls about winning all sorts of prizes and unsolicited e-mail galore! It is critical for any organization to maintain current contact information for primary and secondary contacts as well as warm and hot leads, however the real concern is how do you use the information.

E-newsletters sent to clients utilizing 3rd party organizations are good for relating industry or market news, advising about sales or new products and to share quality information. The fact is that maybe 25% of those you send it to will ever open it.  You may have between 5% to 10% bounce backs and others who will outright ask you to remove them from your list. Sending newsletters to prospects is a little like panning for gold. You are hoping that you may find one shining prospect in the slurry of potentials. There is potentially gold in your client and prospect contacts, but you need to be diligent to find it.Slurry

Here are some tips to assist you in separating the pyrite from the gold.

  1. Review e-bulletin results each time you send one.  Advise those who asked to be removed that regretfully you have done so, and perhaps in the future there may be a new opportunity to connect.
  2. Call the bounced back addresses to see if the e-mail address has changed, if that person is gone and if so who might be a new contact for you to meet. (be sure to remove the address from your list)
  3. Review and keep track of who reads the item.  Regular viewers will have good feedback on why they continue to read.  Don’t be shy about calling those who do not open the e-mail to ask them for feedback on why they don’t.  You may find it has somehow been re-directed to Junk mail or blocked.
  4. Use news, polls and articles to link readers back to your website or social media pages.
  5. Find out if more than one person in an organization should be on your list.
  6. Utilize your contacts to ask for referrals at every opportunity.
  7. Be brief and informative.  Today we get hundreds of e-mails daily, and time is always of the essence, it is a case of “grab my attention or lose me”

Your database is very important, and should be well maintained at all times. With the price of gold today, even gold dust is valuable!

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Filed under Communications, Customer Service, Jeff Bowman, Marketing, not-for-profit, Privacy