Tag Archives: Customer Service

Do you need more customers ??

Float, fishing line and hook underwater
Float, fishing line and hook underwater

So many people all around the world have great ideas, products and services. And yet some businesses do well, and some fail.

What separates the businesses that starve from the businesses who feast?

For the answer, we turn to another way people have been setting their feast table for hundreds of years: fishing.

Landing a fish, just like landing a customer, requires strategy and know-how if you’re going to come home successful.

Here are my top 10 ways to land the catch of the day.

1. Know what you’re after

In fishing, you always use the best bait possible for the particular type of fish you’re after.

So many times clients come to me and say, “I don’t have a target market”. They’re always wrong.

At a minimum, you should understand:

  • The problems your customers have
  • Their buying habits
  • Their potential objections to your product
  • Where they go to find information
  • What influences them (their heroes and idols, TV shows they watch, websites they enjoy, magazines they read, etc.)
  • What their core demographics and psychographics are

Even if your product “appeals to everyone,” typically 20% of your audience will generate 80% of your revenue. Your job is to figure out who those 20% are, so you can find the kind of bait that appeals most to those customers.

Bait that works for trout won’t necessarily let you land a great white shark.

2. Know where to fish for your customers

Determining the right fishing location can be the difference between a successful fishing trip and going hungry.

Knowing the places where your customers hang out online gives you a much greater chance for marketing success. Figure out which sites your customers frequent and you’ll have a much better chance of reeling one in. Try seeking out:

  • Blogs they read
  • Forums they participate in
  • Social networking sites and other membership groups
  • Entertainment or other non-work related sites

You don’t want to use a top water lure if the fish you want are feeding on the bottom.

3. Be aware of your competition

All fishermen guard their secrets closely, but newcomers can still pick up plenty of tricks by watching what their competition does.

I’m not saying it’s smart to copy your competitor exactly. “Me-too” marketing doesn’t work.

But learn from them and get a feeling for the overall marketplace you’re in. Incorporate those insights into your own marketing and content strategy.

By analyzing your competitors you can also figure out how you can position your brand to stand out from the crowd.

4. Use good bait

When you’re hoping to catch a fish standing side by side with a row of other fishermen, you have to make sure your bait is the most appealing fish food dangling the water. Otherwise, that fish is liable to go for one of your neighbor’s hooks instead.

Consumers have lots of options and offers dangling in front of them in any marketplace. You’ve got to have some pretty juicy bait to stand out from that crowd.

So what makes good customer bait?

  • Magnetic headlines
  • Compelling images
  • Content that’s valuable in its own right
  • An attractive niche that makes your customer feel “this is for people like me”
  • Easy-to-swallow landing pages

5. Setting the hook

Just because a fish bites doesn’t mean you can reel it in. Many a marketer has a woeful tale about the big one that got away.

Once a customer is interested and bites by clicking through to your sales page, you have to set the hook by making an offer that’s so great it’s practically unfair.

6. Forget catch and release

Remember, it’s a lot easier and more profitable to re-sell an existing customer than acquire a new one.

So if you land a big fish, keep it! Don’t throw it back for someone else to catch.

Re-marketing, high-quality affiliate offers, and up-sells are great for keeping the customers that you currently have, instead of letting them drift back into the stream for some other savvy marketer to reel in.

7. Test the waters

Fishermen often track different variables, like what time of day they went fishing or what bait they used. They measure their results over time to figure out the smartest way to get certain fish.

Similarly, in marketing it’s always wise to test various aspects of your marketing campaign. Measure your results to see what works best, and track your results over time.

Try different images, headlines, or layouts to see which one maximizes time spent on your site, lowers bounce rate, and produces the best ROI.

8. Don’t get discouraged

Some days the fish just aren’t biting.

Sometimes you are not going to be as successful as you’d like, but it’s a process. Continue to educate yourself about business and marketing, keep analyzing your competitors, keep talking to your customers and refining your message.

Keep going and don’t get discouraged. Tomorrow’s the day you’ll get the big one.

9. Partner up to get a bigger catch

Fishing with a buddy helps you to both cover more water and come home with a bigger catch than usual.

If you’re hoping to land more customers than you’ve ever reeled in on your own, find a partner. By knowing your own skill set, you’ll be able to effectively select partners that complement your skills. This strategy can also help you get bigger customers than you could have handled on your own.

10. Enjoy the trip

It’s definitely a lot more fun to catch the big one than to see it get away, but no matter what happens, remember to enjoy yourself.

Entrepreneurship is a lot like fishing. Even when it’s not going as well as we’d like, it’s still a privilege to be able to spend our days doing it.

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8 Rules for Good Customer Service.

customer-service
customer-service

Good customer service is the lifeblood of any business. You can offer promotions and slash prices to bring in as many new customers as you want, but unless you can get some of those customers to come back, your business won’t be profitable for long.

Good customer service is all about bringing customers back. And about sending them away happy – happy enough to pass positive feedback about your business along to others, who may then try the product or service you offer for themselves and in their turn become repeat customers.

If you’re a good salesperson, you can sell anything to anyone once. But it will be your approach to customer service that determines whether or not you’ll ever be able to sell that person anything else. The essence of good customer service is forming a relationship with customers – a relationship that that individual customer feels that he would like to pursue.

How do you go about forming such a relationship? By remembering the one true secret of good customer service and acting accordingly; “You will be judged by what you do, not what you say.”

I know this verges on the kind of statement that’s often seen on a sampler, but providing good customer service IS a simple thing. If you truly want to have good customer service, all you have to do is ensure that your business consistently does these things:

1) Answer your phone.

Get call forwarding. Or an answering service. Hire staff if you need to. But make sure that someone is picking up the phone when someone calls your business. (Notice I say “someone”. People who call want to talk to a live person, not a “fake recorded robot”.)

Customer service
Customer service

2) Don’t make promises unless you WILL keep them.

Not plan to keep them. Will keep them. Reliability is one of the keys to any good relationship, and good customer service is no exception. If you say, “Your new bedroom furniture will be delivered on Tuesday”, make sure it is delivered on Tuesday. Otherwise, don’t say it. The same rule applies to client appointments, deadlines, etc.. Think before you give any promise – because nothing annoys customers more than a broken one.

3) Listen to your customers.

Is there anything more exasperating than telling someone what you want or what your problem is and then discovering that that person hasn’t been paying attention and needs to have it explained again? From a customer’s point of view, I doubt it. Can the sales pitches and the product babble. Let your customer talk and show him that you are listening by making the appropriate responses, such as suggesting how to solve the problem.

4) Deal with complaints.

No one likes hearing complaints, and many of us have developed a reflex shrug, saying, “You can’t please all the people all the time”. Maybe not, but if you give the complaint your attention, you may be able to please this one person this one time – and position your business to reap the benefits of good customer service.

5) Be helpful – even if there’s no immediate profit in it.

The other day I popped into a local watch shop because I had lost the small piece that clips the pieces of my watch band together. When I explained the problem, the proprietor said that he thought he might have one lying around. He found it, attached it to my watch band – and charged me nothing! Where do you think I’ll go when I need a new watch band or even a new watch? And how many people do you think I’ve told this story to?

6) Train your staff (if you have any) to be ALWAYS helpful, courteous, and knowledgeable.

Do it yourself or hire someone to train them. Talk to them about good customer service and what it is (and isn’t) regularly. Most importantly, give every member of your staff enough information and power to make those small customer-pleasing decisions, so he never has to say, “I don’t know, but so-and-so will be back at…”

7) Take the extra step.

For instance, if someone walks into your store and asks you to help them find something, don’t just say, “It’s in Aisle 3.” Lead the customer to the item. Better yet, wait and see if he has questions about it, or further needs. Whatever the extra step may be, if you want to provide good customer service, take it. They may not say so to you, but people notice when people make an extra effort and will tell other people.

8) Throw in something extra.

Whether it’s a coupon for a future discount, additional information on how to use the product, or a genuine smile, people love to get more than they thought they were getting. And don’t think that a gesture has to be large to be effective. The local art framer that we use attaches a package of picture hangers to every picture he frames. A small thing, but so appreciated.

If you apply these eight simple rules consistently, your business will become known for its good customer service. And the best part? The irony of good customer service is that over time it will bring in more new customers than promotions and price slashing ever did!

Fruits Of Moment of Truth in Retail.

Moment Of Truth
Moment Of Truth

Moments of Truth is a term popularised by Mr Jan Carlzon – the famed CEO of SAS Airlines who had written a book of the same name highlighting the efforts he had made to turn around the ailing airline.

Moments of Truth is defined as those touch points in an organisation where the customer directly interacts with the firm. These are the moments where the customers come in direct contact with the company. The interaction can be with a man or a machine. The touch points are critical because it is where the customer makes a decision to continue or terminate a relationship.

Moments of Truth concept has a wide application in marketing of services. Since services involves close and frequent interaction between the consumer and the service provider, managing these moments acquire strategic importance. The moment where the sales person visits the customer or when the consumer visits the office are opportunities to create an impression and build a relationship.

Identify Moments of Truth

The first step in managing these critical touch points is to identify the points where the company comes in contact with the customer. Kingfisher Airlines had the wisdom to understand that one of the first interactions between the Airlines and the customer comes when the customer reaches the airport. This moment was often neglected by most airlines. Kingfisher capitalized this moment of truth by introducing ushers who would welcome travellers and direct them to the boarding counters. This small step created a huge positive impact on the customer service perception for Kingfisher Airlines.

Organizations often fail to correctly identify these interaction points which often results in a negative customer experience. Hence it is important for all firms to identify and map the customer touch points so that those points could be made an opportunity to make an impact on the consumer.

For example, most of the firms think that the first touch point for a customer who is visiting an office will be the front office personnel. But in reality, the first touch point is the security personnel at the gate who makes the first interaction with the consumer. One of my colleagues discontinued his relationship with his car service centre because of the raw deal given to him by the security staff.

While the front office personnel are trained, security staffs are often outsourced and may / may not be trained in customer service. Smart companies even train these personnel on effective customer service behaviour because first impression is so critical.

Hence it is important for firms to have a service map which gives the marketer an idea about the instances where consumer tries to interact with the firm. Once this is mapped, the marketer will be able to create strategies to create an impact during these moments

Create Moments of Truths

While service organizations have a constant interaction with the customers, product companies may not have any direct interaction with the customers. A soap marketer may not directly interact with the end consumer at all.

In the highly insightful book The Game Changer, the CEO of P&G – AG Lafley identifies two moments of truth for product consumers. The first moment of truth is when the consumer goes to the retail store to purchase the product and the second moment of truth is when the consumer uses the product. The product marketers should make sure that they positively touch the consumer at these critical points.

How ever marketers should not resist from creating new touch points with the consumer. Brands like Sunsilk have taken the initiative to make a direct connection with the consumer by building a community – Sunsilk Gang of Girls. TVS and Maruti Suzuki has tried to connect with the consumer by opening driving schools for the consumers. Fastrack is constantly communicating with the consumers through social networking platforms like Twitter.

Internet has opened up a new platform for marketers to create and manage new moments of truth. Although internet penetration is low in India, it never the less produces a platform to meet consumers who are often the early adopters. Blogs, Twitter, social networking sites like Orkut and Facebook offers an opportunity for marketers to create a community and thus understand the pulse of the market.

People are the key

People are the key to managing moments of truth. Whether it is the front office personnel meeting the consumer who visits the office or be it the sales personnel visiting the customer, people form the most critical media through which the impression is made. It is important for people across different levels in the organization to understand that they have a role to play in managing these interactions.

In a highly insightful book on customer service titled “Hug Your Customers”, author Jack Mitchell talks about the importance of involving every member or organization in meeting and interacting with the consumer. Jack Mitchell is the CEO of a premium clothing company Mitchells/Richards which is well known for their extraordinary customer service. In Mitchells & Richards, every member of the firm from the CEO to the Accountant interacts with the consumers so that the concept of customer service excellence runs through the entire organization.

Encourage Interaction

The customer (client) is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is a part of it. We are not doing him/her a favour by serving him/her. He is doing us a favour by giving us an opportunity to do so.

Mahatma Gandhi

This famous quote is seen displayed in most of the offices but seldom have we undertaken the activities in true spirit of this famous saying.

The critical questions that should be asked by firms in managing customer interactions are

  • · How easy is it for the customer to contact you?
  • · How fast will his query be answered?
  • · Is there a mechanism to measure his satisfaction?
  • · Do we reach out to him or wait for him to contact us?
  • · Do we discriminate our customers into large & small or do we have a culture that treats customers as equal?
  • · We have a promotions budget, expenses budget etc. Do we have a consumer relationship budget?
  • · Do our staffs are given sufficient authority and responsibility to make customer interactions fruitful?

Managing moments of truth is an expensive initiative. The fruits of which will be only visible in the long term. But this investment is worth it.