Category Archives: Customer Service

Get More Customer Referrals With Great Customer Service

Of all the ways we work to get new customers, the referral is the most successful. Companies with referral programs report higher conversion rates, quicker sales cycles, and higher lifetime value of that referred customer. A referral means your customer(s) are so happy with the product or service you provide that they become your sales representatives.

So how does a small business get more referrals? In addition to having a referral program where you are actively soliciting for them, you first have to start the beginning: great customer service.

Get More Customer Referrals With Great Customer Service Continue reading

The Art of Influence and Using it to Gain and Retain Clients

Often confused with word-of-mouth marketing, influencer marketing is really its own thing. Although they often work in tandem, they should not be used interchangeably. By knowing the difference, recognizing why it is important, and identifying how to harness the power of the influencer, your business cannot only attract more customers but, more importantly, retain its already existing clients. In this first installment we will look at the what and why of it and next month we will follow up with how.

The Art of Influence and Using it to Gain and Retain Clients

Word-of-Mouth vs. Influencer

Word-of-mouth is a tool by which communication about a product gets out, whereas influencer marketing engages leading individuals to leverage their influence among family, friends, and beyond. Not all word-of-mouth marketing is guided by an influencer but almost all influencer marketing includes some form of word-of-mouth marketing. This approach can be seen in the recent influencer campaigns of both Jägermeister and Pabst who are using influencers in the bar industry to guide the trajectory of their respective brews. By rebranding their companies through one-on-one, word-of-mouth marketing, they hope to bring their products to a new and more refined demographic.

Influencers often work together with both social-media marketing and content marketing to drive a brand’s message to a larger market. In today’s digital world, word-of-mouth encompasses much more than yesterday’s intimate one-on-one conversation. Word-of-mouth now also performs on a one-to-many basis, with product reviews and opinions posted online through “neutral” social networks.

Influencers, both famous and home-grown, even use their own websites or blogs to scrutinize brands comparatively for their readership, inadvertently offering free content to the brands they highlight.

Why Influencers Are Important To Your Brand

Peer recognition has always been a powerful force in our society. It should be no real surprise that peer recommendations hold so much weight among consumers. And although the Kardashians of our celebrity-obsessed culture still hold a lot of weight as influencers, we are seeing an increasing response to seemingly “regular Joe” influencers whose motives seem less tied to brand. Consumers have become skeptical about traditional advertising and marketing which tells about a product by the very company that makes it. A thoughtful critique or passionate endorsement by someone with no skin in the game, free and unbiased, is now often looked to as a more trusted source.

By some industry estimates, word-of-mouth creates more than twice the sales of paid advertising. When further looking at those clients, they have over a third higher retention rate. The impact with first time buyers is also significant, as they tend to research before buying and seek more opinions. These are statistics that can’t be ignored. Coupled with the megaphone that social media can offer, influencer marketing is getting scrutiny by top marketers as an easy and subtle way to reach today’s discerning consumers. The trick is to secure an influencer who is congruent with your brand.

Image: Photospin

3 Ways to Build Customer Loyalty This Holiday Season

As your small business prepares to make the most out of this holiday season, you have an opportunity to increase customer loyalty, or squander it to the hustle and bustle of the season. Obviously, you’d rather maintain, and even build on, the momentum of what promises to be a busy holiday shopping season, so let’s look at three ways to build customer loyalty in the next two months.

The cornerstone of customer loyalty is knowing which experiences your customers value and then delivering on that experience better than most. If you have data from which to pull, now is the time to use it to develop your own customer loyalty secret sauce. If you don’t, the following list will help you get started.

3 Ways to Build Customer Loyalty This Holiday Season Continue reading

Be Grateful This November By Improving Your Service Marketing

Regardless of your business model, we’re all in the service business. So you can’t forget to include service marketing into your small business marketing mix as you finish your annual plan to better marketing. Let’s take a closer look at these 3 Ps of service marketing and ideas for how you can improve your service marketing.

People

Whether software engineers or young staff manning your cash registers, your small business is defined by your staff. You may understand the importance of hiring and training, but few small businesses look at ways beyond compensation to motivate these service employees.

Be Grateful This November By Improving Your Service Marketing Continue reading

February Plan to Better Marketing: Rekindling Lost Relationships

Last month, we posted an annual plan to better marketing and I wanted to flush out some of these ideas further. So let’s look at ways to reignite relationships with past customers and contacts so your business continues to feel the love and thrive.

February Plan to Better Marketing: Rekindling Lost Relationships

The first step is to identify customers with whom you want to re-establish contact. Go through your CRM and/or old sales pipelines and identify customers that stopped returning or fell out of the funnel.

Next, you’ll want to plan the channel to best reach them: email, direct mail, phone call, social? Regardless of the channel be sure to personalize your message and experiment with several different channels to test their performance. Simple planning and tracking now can save you time and money in the long run so you’re not re-inventing the wheel in the future.

Now that you know who you’re targeting and how you’re reaching them, let’s look at what you’re going to say to get them back.

Ask

Oftentimes, customers just need to be reminded of their relationship with your business and a targeted, personalized phone call, email or direct mail campaign admitting you miss them and asking them to return may be all it takes. If you’re doing an email campaign, trigger a “good to see you again” or “welcome back” message if they click through the initial message to make sure they know you appreciate their business.

If you’re not sure why customers are falling out of the pipeline, ask them to fill out a survey which will serve as a reminder as well as help you gain insights of where you can improve.

Inform

If you’ve been making improvements to customer experiences or products that have been reducing your churn rate, let your past customers know, since those improvements may have been solving the problems that kept them from returning in the first place. “You Asked. We Listened” can be a powerful message to bring back old customers. Just be sure you deliver on your new promise by keeping expectations realistic or risk losing them forever.

Entice

An exclusive discount throughout your store or better yet, on a specific accessory that pairs well with a past purchase, is a great way to bring customers back into the fold. Consider also that, based on your business, a warranty or access to service personnel may be seen as more valuable than a simple discount. Test several different offers and see which gets you the most returns.

You know your business and your customers and by asking, informing and enticing them to return, you may have the best year yet.

Next month: Following Up Like A Lion

Image: Photospin

Getting the Most Out of Yelp

With 132 million monthly unique visitors and 57 million local reviews,Yelp is a force to be reckoned with in the online marketing world.

775_4246985

If you’re like many local businesses, you neglect this powerful website. Many startups believe that Yelp is best left to restaurants, lounges and bars. While the site may have started out catering to the food service industry, it is also proving enormously beneficial to many other local businesses.

How to Leverage Your Success with Yelp

Like any other web platform, Yelp requires smart care if it is going to benefit your business. As you create your business’s profile on Yelp, use these tips to help you get the greatest impact from this review site.

1. Complete Your Profile

While this might sound basic, many small businesses leave this critical step out. To have the greatest success on Yelp, you need to give the millions of site visitors a reason to visit your place of business. Continue reading

5 Tips for Kick-Butt Customer Service

Businesses of all sizes need to be concerned with one thing: providing awesome customer service. Even if you don’t have a full customer service department, you can easily make sure your customers are happy and keep coming back for more with these tips.

Call center woman with headset

1. Start with a Great Experience

Whether you run a brick-and-mortar retail store, restaurant, ecommerce, or consulting company, customer service begins the moment you get a customer in your door or on your site.

Make sure your staff is trained to greet each walk-in pleasantly. Ensure your website is easy to navigate and appealing to the eye. First impressions matter, so make sure yours put customers at ease and ready to shop. Continue reading