Tag Archives: customer service

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


10 Steps to Using CRM Smartly

If you’re still logging customer contact information in a spreadsheet, let me introduce you to a tool that’s going to change the way you do business:

Customer Relationship Management software.

Also called CRM, this software is designed to help you easily maintain a database of all your clients and contacts, as well as keep notes on conversations you have, link to emails, and track where you are in closing a lead. Continue reading

How CRM Software Can Increase Productivity and Profits

Online tools

Naturally, small businesses tend to have their sights set on one thing and one thing only: generating revenue. But often this comes at the cost of letting other areas of their business slide—namely, organization.

Organization is the key to running a successful business, and by taking some time out of every day to do some simple administrative tasks, planning and arrangement, you’d be surprised at how quickly your company’s efficiency, productivity, and—most importantly—profits, could increase.

But the question is: How do businesses go about improving their organization skills? The answer is simple, but it may not be the first thing that springs to mind. Most people think of Client Relationship Management (CRM) software as a way of improving sales, but what they may not know is that it could prove to be an invaluable tool to boost your company’s productivity, sales tracking and internal collaboration, by streamlining all your communications into one database.

Still not sold? Well, if you’re not ready to upgrade that trusty spreadsheet just yet, here are five benefits that CRM software can offer your business that may just change your mind.

1. Better customer relations

Using a CRM often leads to greater customer satisfaction. All communications—whether they’re from marketing, sales or accounts departments—can be handled in a systematic manner. You’ll also gain a better understanding of your customers’ wants, needs and preferences, which in turn will help increase customer loyalty and decrease customer dissatisfaction. And what’s more is that as a byproduct, you’ll find that your buyers will share their positive stories about your company with their friends and family members—and as any business will know, word-of-mouth is the most powerful form of advertising for any business.

2. Increased revenues

So we know that putting a CRM system in place improves customer relationships, but did you know that it could also lead to an increase in revenue? Using the data you collect, you will be able to target certain products to your customers more strategically, meaning your efforts will be more effective. With the help of customer relation management software, you can create targeted promotions to specific segments within your client base, thus encouraging more sales, and in turn, an uptick in profits. Which leads us to our third benefit…marketing.

3. Easier marketing

CRM can help you understand who’s purchased what and how much they spent when they purchased it—essential data when it comes to launching an effective marketing campaign as it allows you to pinpoint the right potential buyers. Without CRM, this is a near-impossible task—your marketing department would have to go back over old invoices and PO’s to manually track this information and pull their target buyers’ contact details. With CRM, you can segment your customer database by a number of criterion to help you refine your marketing message and ensure it reaches the right people.

4. Efficient upselling and cross-selling

Often businesses spend a great deal of time and money trying to acquire brand new customers— so much so that they neglect to pay proper attention to their best source of revenue: their existing customer base. A CRM system not only facilitates upselling, but it also allows easy cross-selling—the practice of suggesting related products or services to a customer based on their previous purchases. In order to do this, salespeople need a good idea of their customers’ requirements and buying patterns, and CRM software provides just this. Any details about your clients are stored in a central database accessible by all members of your organization, meaning that when an opportunity arises, staff can cross-promote products to customers, and as a consequence, maximize sales.

5. Improved in-house communication

A central database of all your company’s valuable customer information doesn’t just help with external communication—it improves internal communication, too. Sharing important customer data between various divisions of your company encourages teamwork—which is a much better strategy for business than operating as a lone-ranger. Not only will it enable a higher standard of service, but it’ll also increase your company’s profitability.

Before you implement a CRM system (and ideally, before you even select one), be sure to do plenty of research and preparation. Begin by thinking strategically about your company’s mission and goals, and how you will measure your progress. Then start to think strategically about your customer segments and what you are doing with each of these constituents—this will help you define what information needs to be stored in your CRM system, what types of functionalities it will need to have, and what sort of processes people within your organization will need to carry out when using the system.

Remember: CRM is a dynamic application than can be used by more or less everyone in your company, and when used to its full effect, can hold vast amounts of data to create a pool of valuable information that can be used to prospect new business, identify leads, define customer segments, and much more. So, now are you ready to ditch that old spreadsheet?

 If you’re thinking of implementing a CRM system, check out Insightly and sign up for a free account.

Eight Rules of Social Media Customer Service You Can’t Afford to Ignore

We’re seeing more and more companies using tools like Twitter and Facebook to reach customers and address service issues. I personally am loving this, and have been helped by numerous companies this way (sure beats calling an 800 number).

In High Tech, High Touch Customer Service, author Micah Solomon covers eight “unbreakable rules of social media customer service.” Whether you’re currently using social media for customer service or simply considering it, these are worth examining.

1. Avoid the fiasco formula: a digital stitch in time saves nine (million)
Solomon says that the longer you wait to address a serious issue that’s been brought to the public’s attention via social media, the bigger the fiasco it becomes. He uses this formula to illustrate his point:

small error + slow response time = colossal PR disaster

2. Lie back and think of England: digital arguments with customers are an exponentially losing proposition
The same rule applies in any customer service scenario: arguing with the customer never works. But it’s even worse when it’s done online, because the whole world (or at least the whole Twitterverse) can see you looking like a jerk.

3. Turn twankers into thankers: reach out directly to online complainers
When someone bashes your company on a social channel, it should be your mission to quickly resolve his unhappiness and make him a satisfied customer again. If you succeed, he should be more than happy to revoke his previously damaging comment.

4. Consider getting a complainer on the telephone (with permission) – even if the relationship started in social media land
People tend to be more publicly irate on social sites than they might be on the phone, so if a situation escalates on Twitter, see if you can call the customer to resolve the issue. Don’t be afraid to move the conversation to another platform.

5. Get happy outcomes into the public eye
Just as they say an unhappy customer tells infinitely more people about his experience than a happy one, it’s your job to try to get that negative comment deleted once you’ve resolved the issue, or at least get the customer to then share a happy update.

6. Use social media and personal email to make your customers feel important
Pay attention to customers who follow you on social channels. Thank them when they say something nice about your brand, both publicly and privately, says Solomon.

7. Monitor
The only way you will know if someone is talking about your brand is if you’re paying attention. Set up Google Alerts and Twitter searches to show whenever anyone mentions your brand so you can quickly respond (see #1).

8. If your social responses are inferior to–or not integrated with–your other channels, they’re hurting your brand
Have you ever been on a website that encourages you to “email us!” and promises a response within 24 hours? But when you do email you only hear crickets? My point (really, Solomon’s) is if you say you’ll respond to customer service issues on social media, do it. Otherwise customers will get more irritated and talk even more loudly about you. And you don’t want that.

Solomon provides great, actionable tips for creating a solid customer service strategy using social media. Read High Tech, High Touch Customer Service to start developing your own plan.

Susan Payton is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an internet marketing firm specializing in marketing communications, copywriting and blog posts. She’s written two books: 101 Entrepreneur Tips andInternet Marketing Strategies for Entrepreneurs, and has blogged for several sites, including The Marketing Eggspert Blog, as well as Small Business TrendsCorpNet, and BizLaunch. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.

Photo: Phil Dowsing Creative on Flickr

6 Tips for How to Effectively Handle Dissatisfied Customers

You probably already know that stellar customer service is essential to help your small business reach its full potential. But regardless of your efforts, there will always be customers dissatisfied with the level of service you provide. But don’t view them as a nuisance or necessary evil. Adjust your perspective and examine how a very loud and angry customer could actually give your business just the boost it needs.

Below are some tips you can utilize in your small business to effectively handle dissatisfied customers:

1. Act Quickly
If you are faced with a dissatisfied customer, do not keep them waiting. This will only make their issue harder to resolve. Drop what you’re doing as best as you can and find out what the problem is as soon as possible. Remain calm, confident, and friendly, and address their needs quickly. If you absolutely can’t address their needs at that moment, get contact information, fix the issue, and quickly follow up.

2. Listen
More often than not, most dissatisfied customers are not looking for a freebie or a discount. They just want to be heard. Begin the conversation by asking what went wrong. Allow the customer to finish speaking, truly listen to what they’re saying, and show that you genuinely want to help resolve their issue. Being empathetic is much more likely to produce a positive outcome than figuring out who’s right and who’s wrong.

3. Don’t Take It Personally
This, of course, is much easier said than done. The first step is to understand that no business is perfect. Keep your personal feelings out of it – it’s not about you. After the problem is fixed, review why it happened and figure out how to prevent a future occurrence.

4. Come to a Joint Solution
If someone feels they deserve compensation, ask what they have in mind before you offer anything. You may find it’s much less than what you were considering. This is because acknowledgement is what most people are primarily looking for – and that’s free. By directly finding out what the person wants, you can usually save your company a lot of money and wasted effort.

5. Go the Extra Mile
When a dissatisfied customer demands compensation, don’t just accept their offer. Tack on a little more. This will definitely impress and show that you truly value that customer’s business, which is a great way to turn a dissatisfied customer into a customer for life. After all, someone who took the initiative and time to complain might also take the initiative and time to tell their friends about businesses they love.

6. Follow Up
Once the problem is solved and your customer is satisfied, follow up with them. Briefly recount the issue and ask if the solution reached has proved satisfactory. Then, simply say that you’re there if they have other needs or concerns. Just don’t make your follow-up call a sales pitch, or all the work you’ve done to create a satisfied customer could be wasted.

Final Thoughts
When it comes to handling unhappy customers, a sincere interest in wanting to help them is key. To achieve this, you need to consider the problem from their point of view. The last thing they’ll want to hear is why or how they are wrong. Remember, it may seem like a nuisance, but it pays to do this. Referrals and word of mouth marketing are often far more effective than standard advertising, and unhappy customers present the perfect opportunity to capitalize on this. In fact, in my experience running an online re-selling business, some of my most loyal customers are ones that I initially had problems with.

What tactics do you use when dealing with unhappy customers?

David Bakke owns an online reselling business and is a writer for Money Crashers Personal Finance, a blog that takes on topics such as money management, marketing strategies, and the best small business credit cards.

Create Demand by Looking Beyond What People Need

We often tell small business owners and entrepreneurs that the best practice is to find the gaps and fill the needs. However, it is important to remember what the difference is between what people need and what people want. There is a way to accommodate both and build a business that will be in high demand.
Here are a few examples that should get your gears turning:
• People NEED to be active – People WANT leisure, social and fun
• People NEED to eat fresh – People WANT convenience, quality and economical
• People NEED basics – People WANT unique, versatile and trendy
• People NEED food –People WANT an experience, variety and full-service
Most people know what they need but a good business should tailor these needs according to the most universal wants. This makes the difference between a product or company that fills a gap to one that creates a demand.

10 Tips on Offering Absolutely Brilliant Customer Service

Smiley Faces

When travelling one thing I always expect is good customer service, but I am often let down by people that just don’t get it. To ensure you’re giving your customers great service stick to these basic rules:

1. Ensure that your employees smile at customers. If you’re in customer service you must master the art of the genuine smile

2. Greet customers like you would guests to your home

3. Always say please and thank you

4. Try and memorise people’s name and call them by their name

5. Always under-promise and over-deliver

6. Answer the phone with a smile within 3 or 4 rings

7. If  you’re in retail  escort customers to a product or department they’re looking for rather than just pointing directions

8. Ensure that you and your employees are neat and well presented

9. If you’re in retail  ensure your employees wear name badges

10. Train your employees how to offer brilliant service