Tag Archives: Customer Service

Fans Wanted

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Businesses get more revenue when they have fans… or what is commonly known as loyal customers.

Loyal customers are the most important assets of a company. They are the most passionate advocates and promoters of your brand. Ask them why they are your fans and they’ll likely answer: (1) they like your products; (2) they feel at home with you; (3) your store is the nearest and most convenient place where they can get what they need; or (4) they can rely on you to provide them what they require. All four reasons are good selling points, which your company can take pride in and continue to improve upon. They all speak about your commitment to quality results and good customer service that you need to keep standing for.

You already have the recipe for success when you get at least three to five satisfied customers who refer your business to other people. The hardest part is how to maintain that reputation and continue providing the experiences those delighted customers found in your store. It can be quite easy to get sidetracked due to concerns of day-to-day operations, crises looming on the financial front, and those pinches competitors caused on your sales.

Focus is instead turned to generating more sales and maintaining profit. This is quite necessary and understandable on the whole, but is it all right to concentrate only on those and neglect customer service? Many business experts would disagree. They would say you’ll also need to pay attention to customer relations, as your customers are your best bet against that frightening scenario—bankruptcy.

Just like in the comic strip above, customer and service do go together. You cannot maintain a customer without providing fine service, and if there are no customers, there’s no profit. This makes it important to be dedicated to your customers at all times, good or bad. Once you’ve proven your dependability, customers will keep coming back. The good thing about this state of affairs is they’ll bring other people with them who might become your next customers.

What is good customer service? How you gain or lose customers?

Personable service is defined by the following activities or qualities:

  • Getting to know your customers’ preferences and pet peeves
  • Anticipating their needs before they tell you
  • Asking customers about further inquiries or complaints
  • Doing your best to exceed their expectations
  • Focusing on providing quality products and services
  • Being on time to give what your customers need
  • Providing warranties and solving grievances

Disregarding any of the traits listed above earns you minus points on fine customer service. The list may be tough, especially on the first days. But when you make it your goal, these actions will become routine. Once you become well-known for good customer service, people will flock to you and become your customers. Your client base will surely widen and your business a success in the long run.

 

Reference:

MentorsOnline.Wordpress.com

Making Businesses Available for Customer Communication

How to Increase Visibility when Customers Need You

It’s hard to keep up with day-to-day operations, meetings, client talks, and customer service all at once. We can only attend to one thing at a time to effectively accomplish any task. But, aren’t customers the most important aspect of any business? Without them, there would be no business to take care of at all. This is why entrepreneurs must set aside some time to personally attend to customer matters. Customers feel more treasured when answered by the owner of the company, rather than the support staff.

Place your email on your company website and designate a personal Twitter account where you can be reached. This will enable customers to easily contact you about their concerns and complaints. When customers try to reach you, they either had a wonderful experience or a terribly disappointing one. It is rare to find a person willing to contact a business they have issues with. There are far more customers declaring about their dissatisfying experience. They may even post their protests on social networks.

Listening to what your customers are telling you opens up a realistic view of what goes on in face-to-face customer engagement. With their commendations, you gain pride that you’re doing a good job. Complaints, on the other hand, can lead to improvements you haven’t been able to think of on your own. Flaws in business processes can be made known to the owner this way, which is particularly advantageous to quality management projects.

It is important for entrepreneurs to promptly reply to each customer email. This has the additional benefit of gaining a reputation of being communicative and easy to contact. This is especially beneficial in the social networking sites, where the owner can personally reply to comments. Relying all the time on the customer support team can make an entrepreneur unaware about the fine lines on customer engagement. Keeping a finger on the pulse of your customer service campaign makes you fully aware about the state of your customer service campaigns.

A business should be more than about profit. It should be about teamwork as well, with an emphasis on striving for customer satisfaction. Mix that with a healthy attitude about mistakes and failures, for without them, improvement is impossible. Once attention is focused on customer communication and service, everything else will follow.

 

Reference:

INC.com

Lifelong Commitment to Social Media

Gary Vaynerchuk’s Take on Customer Service in the Time of Social Media

Social media, according to Gary Vaynerchuk, needs a long-term commitment, not a one-night stand with immediate gratification. When entrepreneurs go into social marketing, they should not expect huge returns on investment as soon as they first create their Facebook, Twitter or Google+ company page. Like any relationship, an entrepreneur should nurture open and communicative dealings with customers to establish their presence online.

In fact, Vaynerchuk says one must go Jetsons and venture into social media, the future marketplace. Combine it with Flintstones’ attitude to small-town values on business-customer relations, and entrepreneurs are well on their way to success. Not paying enough attention to customer service online will make it hard for business to make it on social networking.

Things were easier in the old days when people set up their business. They strive to connect with customers who come to their store and take care of these customers well so they will keep coming back. Satisfied customers will spread the good word about your store. Soon enough, you’ll have a steady, regular clientele to serve every day.

Getting customers is different with social media. You cannot easily win customers with the usual smiles, greetings and how-can-I-help-yous in online interaction. To win them over, you’ll need the following: (1) a well-designed website, (2) customer-friendly networking pages, and (3) an engaging blog. You need to update your pages with quality content at least three times a week to continue charming customers. Not updating can mean failure for your web marketing strategy. The long and short of it is, you have to invest time, money, and effort in social media.

Giving social networking less than 100% commitment can draw losses for your campaign. A short-term commitment will not provide you the customer base you want to achieve. For example, you set up a social media page and neglect it after a while. Customers who got interested in your initial campaign will be disappointed and move on to another business, which might be your competitor.

This drives us to think it’s not only vital to reach out to customers online. It’s important to keep tabs on the competition as well. Competitors who manage to use social media successfully have an edge over you and might overtake you if you don’t put your act together. The most practical way to ease out the competition online? The solution is building and nurturing good customer relationships online. Your happy customers will serve as your testimonials and their positive reviews will make your business flourish.

Follow Vaynerchuk’s advice and make a strong commitment to social marketing. Go Jetson on your business and advance to the social media future. Keep your Flintstone customer values and you’ll do fine on the Internet.

 

Reference: INC.com

Responding to Negative Reviews the Right Way

Protect Your Online Reputation from the Effects of Negative Reviews

Finding a negative review of your business can be distressing. The reflex reaction is to ignore the review and move on. This is a mistake that will backfire once you search your business and seepages dedicated to results that show reviews like these:

  • Don’t trust Business X. It’s a scam!
  • How Disappointing Business X Is!

Damage control can get worse if you don’t take action after seeing even one bad review. To avoid this scenario, entrepreneurs should create accounts in all review sites where they’re mentioned. This will allow them to monitor the positive and negative comments about their company. Close tracking will allow you to immediately reply whenever a negative review is posted.

Make your profile look well-appointed, as customers are likely to check your profile to see the reviews about your products and services. A well-designed profile can enhance your online image and increase consumer trust.

Many consumers now check for product reviews before transacting with a business. They want to make sure they’re spending their hard-earned money on high-quality goods that will be useful for a reasonable amount of time. This makes it imperative for entrepreneurs to ensure customer satisfaction while guarding their online reputation.

Letting one bad review fester can tarnish your pristine business image. Make sure to take action with diplomatic reactions that are prompt and properly phrased. There are review sites that allow a business to reply back to comments. Use this feature to answer destructive comments that can hit your enterprise hard. It is important, however, to be careful on how to phrase your answer. You want your business to be seen as solicitous and open-minded enough to make reparations, not defensive and bitter.

A terrible review can make you feel disheartened. Accept it and handle it objectively. Create a personalized response will would humbly convey your apologies, explain your side on the matter and make compensations, if necessary. You can offer to exchange the product for more satisfactory items or refund the offended customer for the trouble.

Always remember that a negative review shows you how things can be better improved. You might have scored a little low on customer service. Why not provide trainings and refresher courses for your staff? Customer passed from one staff to another? Maybe there’s something wrong with the workflow. Complains about a defective product? Ask the customer if they want a replacement or refund.

Proper communication is the key to improve your relations with your reviewers. There are some cases, however, of inaccurate reviews and black propaganda arranged by your competitors. In this case, you have to find evidence that the transaction is completely untrue. Approach the review site administrators with your proof and ask them if they could take down the libelous reviews. On the occasion that the bad reviews are not taken down, ask satisfied customers to post reviews on the sites you’ve been blackballed. A stream of good reviews will help neutralize the effects of those bad comments against your business.

Do not ask people to post positive reviews in exchange for cash. That tactic is not only prohibited by the provisions of the Federal Trade Commission, but also flies against ethical business practices. No amount of money can erase a reputation further blackened with the scandal of ‘pay-per-review.’ This will just continue to make you look bad in front of customers.

Bad online reviews cannot spell doom for your online marketing campaigns unless they’re very pervasive and cannot be controlled anymore. What you must do is to strive to defuse the damage with good reviews requested from customers who liked and loved your service.

 

Photo Credits:

Netwirks.com

Double-Crossing.com

Strutting Your Stuff and Getting Your Audience Involved

Attract Your Target Customers for Customer Engagement

Writing great content is worthless if there’s nobody reading it. Make sure your content reaches your target audience with the help of social media.  Before you do that, though, you must study which social network to join. You should determine what group of people you need to engage. Are your products for the teen crowd? Or the 21-35 age bracket? Where are your target customers active? Chances are they’re on Facebook with its 800+ million users. Are they more sociable on Twitter? Maybe they’re on Google+ or Pinterest.

Find out where your customers hang out online with surveys asking what social networks they belong to and how long they stay there. When are they usually online? What do they like to see from your page? Can they be interested in articles written about this topic or so? If you are particularly close to your customers before you go online, they are more likely to join you on social media. This is why offline customer engagement is still more important than online customer service. There’s more face-time and actual conversations. Lasting impressions are triggered with close contact as well, which is not much encouraged online.

Creating accounts in social networks where your customers frequent isn’t enough. You must be prepared to be committed to posting at least three updates every week to ensure your customers will continue reading your content. Make sure that you provide quality content every time to keep them interested. One way you can do this is to check out successful companies in your field with social marketing campaigns. Examining their social media pages can bring you insights on what kind of content works. Figure out how they engage their customers. Learning from them will help you create a feasible strategy to establish a strong online marketing campaign.

Found that your content doesn’t rock as much as you think it does? Browse the comments page and see whether there are some remarks you can work on. Maybe your articles need to be professionally edited for stylistic mistakes. It might be that your pictures are not sharp-looking enough and your videos may not be that exciting, too. It is better to let an editor, as well as a member of your target audience, examine your content first before you publish it. This way, you’ll make fewer mistakes and churn out better content. Once they see that you’re consistent with the quality of your content, they’ll be more encouraged to regularly check your page for updates.

Combine pictures and videos with your articles. Writing blog posts are great, but providing only this type of content can get boring. Why not experiment with meme creation? A picture’s worth a thousand words and a picture with a fitting and funny caption can draw the number of eyes you want on your page. Videos, if made right, also attract a high number of interested viewers. Watch business videos that generate the highest view count. What do they all have in common? They’re short but they get the message across in a creative way without seeming hurried or lengthy. Study and adopt the techniques they use to create successful videos. You’ll enjoy the same triumph if you manage to follow the right formula.

In addition, why not experiment with other types of content? If you have good speaking abilities, a podcasting channel may be right for your marketing needs. It has proven to be effective for various businesses with many subscribers swearing by its benefits. With podcasting, you can reach busy professionals, working mothers, and other people with less than an hour’s free time every day. All you need is a properly working microphone, sound equipment or computer, and you’re on your way to starting your first podcast session.

Providing high-quality content, however, does not necessarily mean hundreds of customers waiting to read your content. You might have readers, but they’re small in number and do not give you enough exposure on the web. What you can do is to take care of the customers you’ve got. Interact with them well. Sooner or later, the fans and followers you’re looking for will come to your page. They’ll post questions, comments and click ‘Like.’

Sustain this pace with engaging answers. Make them feel that you care enough to listen to their opinion about your merchandise, store, employees and work strategies. If you meet them at your store, chat them up and make them feel comfortable. Back up your online marketing strategy with reliable face-to-face customer service.

The secret to getting customers to check out your page is to provide unwavering online service. You must be ready to promptly answer their questions. In fact, you should take a step further and take a look at their profile pages as well. Like and share content you find interesting. Followers will be touched and pleased to realize that you like the content they post. This will make them continue to reciprocate. Continue doing this and you’ve got a cycle of regular customer engagement. You’ll have good relationships with them online, get more customers through word-of-mouth marketing and win more sales. A win-win situation for everyone.

 

Reference:

JenniferHerndon.com

Customer Service in Social Media

How Online Customer Service is Good for Your Business

You’ve successfully created social media pages and attracted a lot of followers. One day, you signed in and saw some inquiries from a customer about a faulty product. As you do not know what to do, you ignored the questions and turned to the contact center to solve the problem. Days passed and the customer felt neglected. This made the customer complain about bad service, which further worsened the issue.

If you were the boss, how would you have solved this matter?

Customer service is not just served face-to-face or over the phone anymore. It can be delivered through your social media pages, too. For example, look at how Cathay Pacific, an airline, handled an inquiry and two issues:Notice when the customer shout-outs were entertained? The replies are prompt and phrased in a polite manner. This helps appease boiling tempers. Figuring out solutions and advising customers online is more convenient than speaking to customers on the phone. A few taps on the keyboard and a mouse click, and you’ve managed to respond to your customer.

This is why you need to train your customer service staff in responding to inquiries and complaints using social media. There’s a sense of urgency when a customer complains on a social network, and quick replies can smoothen out a potentially harmful situation. This damage control method is more effective than contacting a customer days after an inquiry. It diminishes the destructive effects and the nightmarish PR efforts needed for entrepreneurs to neutralize a sensitive issue.

If you provide good customer service online, satisfied customers would……spend more and tell at 42 online about the satisfying customer service they received. This results in huge returns for your business if you start engaging customers online, instead of relying only on traditional means. Making your customers feel cared for will encourage them to do business with you. Additionally, this makes them feel comfortable dealing with you because you assured them that you would serve their requests in a timely and courteous manner.

Cultivating good customer relations online earns you a good reputation among your followers. They will be further encouraged to write positive reviews about you. Once other people see these reviews, they will be more likely to buy your products and services. Companies with a good image online drive more traffic to their website and promote further customer engagement. Customers are more content and businesses earn more profit; a win-win situation, all around.

Customer service has long moved on from sending letters to the manager and irate messages to the contact center. Now, social media gives customers a more effective way to reach entrepreneurs. Business owners who ignore this development will earn a bad reputation for not responding to customer inquiries, complaints and other concerns. You have to perform extensive reparations if you don’t keep providing good customer service through the social networks. You can prevent these problems if you promptly and politely reply to your customers’ questions.

The Little Things Customers Need

How to Earn Loyal Customers with Small Gestures

One cheery hello, a welcoming smile or a helping hand can strike quite a good impression and leave customers feel well cared. These days, businesses seems to be run on a fast pace. Entrepreneurs are more concerned with quicker waiting times and damage control in times of complaints. Their strategy to customer relations is more reactive than proactive. This just causes their reputation to go downhill for a lack of a proactive strategy can make their customer service appear lousy.

How can you make customers feel like royalty whenever they interact with you?

Go the extra mile.

Serving guests on an inn? Deliver five-star treatment with a tour of the place before giving them the key to their rooms. This might be more work for you but welcoming guests this way makes them feel happier to be in your establishment than anywhere else. Anticipate their questions and provide the information they need without them asking for it. Adopt a genial attitude as well. A dour, serious expression can make it seem that you’re forced to serve. This would detract from the effect you want to achieve and make them feel like uncomfortable instead.

Greet them with complimentary notes and tokens.

This is important, especially when you’re in the hospitality industry. Greet customers with a ‘Good morning’ note with a flower, some chocolates or some other token. This can make guests feel special and very much welcome. By the time they leave, offer them some souvenirs like pens engraved with your business name, mugs or other promotional items.

Personalize your approach to every customer.

Each customer is different from one another. Know their requirements and tailor your services to their needs. Learn how to read body language, verbal cues, facial expressions and gestures. If your customer likes to talk while choosing merchandise, smile and engage in small talk. Exchange jokes with them and touch their arms in a friendly yet unobtrusive manner. If customers like to be left alone while making their choices, observe from a far distance and approach when they look around for someone to ask about something. This would make them feel more comfortable browsing items and picking goods they like.

Memorize their names and their favorite items.

Customers love it when you remember their names and what they’ve bought the other day. Take note of their favorite items and inform them when you have their much-loved merchandise on hand. Take the trouble to wrap their bought items with high-quality paper or some other wrapping material. Ask them about the nephew they’ve talked to you about when they last visited. This would endear them to you and make them feel that they’re very much important.

Before you succeed in social media, you must first do well in actual customer relations. Remember that your offline dealings with your customers are more important than your online reach in the social networks. The more meaningful your customer relationships, the more online engagement you’ll receive.

Think some other approaches have been missed? Please mention them in the comments below.

 

Reference:

INC.com

Making Businesses Fun

How Gamification can Increase Customer Interest

Gamification, (noun): the application of typical elements of game playing (e.g. point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service

Games, especially those with high-quality designs and graphics, have such an absorbing effect on everyone. It can make people stop and engage in a game for as short as five minutes and as long as five hours. This can be an option for businesses to engage in some business marketing with a well-developed game, as social game advertisements are relatively cheaper than regular ads. Everybody loves to have fun and be carefree. This makes people more susceptible to check out the ads while they take a break from real life and all its issues.

If done right, businesses can benefit from games, as they help make people become more familiar with the processes of a certain company. This is the situation with the Marriott Hotel game, which promotes brand exposure and awareness among its players. People who participate and follow the game’s rules basically learn about the processes of hotel operations from kitchen orders to room reservations and other amenities.

According to Daniela Baker, a game’s creation, marketing and launching can cost as much as $100,000 to $300,000. Businesses, then, have to spend $12,500 to $22,500 to maintain the game for at least four months. These expenditures are enough to make entrepreneurs think twice about setting up a game for their businesses. Other than that, there’s the risk that the game will not earn much popularity. That would make an expensive investment even more impractical to get into. This makes it important for businesses to properly weigh the potential returns and losses they might incur to develop a social game.

Another thing to consider is how they would tailor their marketing strategy with a game. Would a funeral parlor, for example, succeed in duplicating their operations in a game? Would a game like that attract a large following or would it result to a major flop? Wouldn’t an embalmer role be too morbid and creepy to play?

Before you think to dip your toes into the gaming business, let’s look at some statistics:

In the infographic, “Battle of the Sexes: How Men and Women Use the Social Web,” women outnumber men by at least 20% in playing online social games like Farmville and Plants vs. Zombies.

In fact, it is said that the older female demographic (40 to 60-year olds) play more often than their male counterparts. Women also play longer, as proven by PopCap Games when they commissioned Information Solutions Group to conduct a study on the gaming population:

This puts another spin in businesses trying out their own games for marketing purposes. As women are more active in playing social games, companies with female-targeted or gender-neutral games fare better. This makes it vital for corporations to make their games ‘social’ and appealing for the female demographic.

So, what makes a social game?

Social games can be found in social networks, which encourage players to compare gameplay and scores with friends or people outside their online social circles. Nick O’Neill defines social games as “…structured activity which has contextual rules through which users can engage with one another. Social games must be multiplayer and have one or more of the following features: turn-based, are based on social platforms for providing users with an identity and are casual.” [sic]

Facebook games like Farmville, Cityville, Mafia Wars and Tetris Battle have the characteristics mentioned above. The framework of those games caters to a wide community of players who need to interact with each other to move on to the next level. They need gifts like energy bars and other materials that only friends could give them. This, I think, is the primary attraction for women to play social games. Women, in nature, are more sociable and group-oriented. This kind of setup, the gift-giving and sharing of resources appeals to them.

This impresses the need for businesses to create games that would be ‘social’ in nature. It should be aesthetically designed and easy enough to play with enough features to keep players engaged and prevent them from getting bored. Develop your game with a knowledgeable social game marketing company to plan your budget well and minimize potential losses.

 

References:

CreativeGuerrillaMarketing.com

Marketing XD Blog

NPR.org

Mashable

Social Times

Oxford Dictionaries

From Complaints to Accolades

How to turn your complaining customers to loyal customers for life

When we see a customer’s thunderous expression and aggressive stance, we turn our heads from left to right looking for a way out. Since dealing with complaints can be stressful, some businesspersons avoid answering a complaint and hoping it will go away. That approach, however, will provide adverse effects to your business. Customers who are supremely dissatisfied can be effectively influence other people to turn away from the direction going to your store. They can persuade other people to look for other places where they’ll be treated better. Here are some tips for you to think about the next time you encounter a grievance:

1. Handle complaints in a courteous and solicitous manner.

Presenting a confident yet caring attitude when customers comes complaining can make them feel that they can rely on you to solve their concerns. If you face customer protests in a defensive way, you risk fanning the flames of their temper and being burned with it. If they’re spitting mad, strive to calm them down first and listen to their issues. Ask questions to clarify the matter to ensure no confusion about the issue involved.

2. Your business should have a clear workflow on taking care of complaints.

If your business does not have a clear-cut procedure in handling irate customers, you should start making one as soon as possible. This would help prevent your employees from making mistakes in handling the situation while experiencing nervous tension because they don’t know what to do. Train everyone well, from the receptionists and sales staff up to their managers. If everyone is knowledgeable about the right ways to deal with complaints, then business will be a whole lot easier and the customers a lot happier.

3. Settle the problem efficiently and quickly.

Customers are further incensed when they approach the manager or owner with their issue and not much is done for resolution and reassurance. Make sure to solve the problem immediately. If the complaint concerns a product, offer to repair or replace the item. Customer still not yet satisfied? Give a refund instead to compensate for the trouble.

4. Follow up with the customer regarding their issue.

Let the aggrieved customer know how the issue has been resolved. Make a letter of apology detailing the problem or, better yet, call them to provide the news that their concern has been made good. This makes the customer feel well taken care of. If you’ve managed to gain their trust with your professional attitude, sympathetic ears and helping hands, then you are sure to see them once again in your shop.

5. Record all the details concerning every complaint.

After the complaint has been resolved, make staff concerned fill out an incident report detailing all the events that led up to the complaint. Arrange a meeting with the staff’s direct supervisor or manager to clarify the details and learn how to prevent the problem from coming back again. Although this may prove to be additional paperwork and bother for everyone involved, this process actually sheds light on any procedural flaws, staff problems or managerial issues you may not be aware of.

 

Knowing how to placate the customer well puts you up a par against your competitors. Once you’ve managed to organize a simple yet effective strategy in handling customer complaints, you are well on your way to converting dissatisfied customers to steadfast ones. So, learn to welcome complaints. This drudgery will lead you to realize solutions on how to better improve your business.

 

Reference:

BusinessLink.gov.uk

How Valuable is Social Media?

Other than sales, what other benefits can we get if we subscribe to social networking?

For businesses, social media is used to connect to potential customers and persuade them to be part of your client base. It is about letting your target audience know you’re in the business, and you going to meet their needs and satisfaction. Social networks, however, do not end with customer collection and sales. It is also about (1) customer support, (2) brand equity, and (3) market research.

Customer Support

Businesses can use social media to field questions from their customers in a timely manner. Actual customer calls can be problematic due to long waiting period, lack of available customer service representatives and negative experiences that can drive clients away. Responding to customer inquiries on the Internet should cost less and be done in real time. This is a more efficient way of providing solutions to customer concerns and problems.

Using social media, companies can easily reach out to unhappy customers who share their unpleasant experience online. With the presence of customer support on different social network, a company is able to resolve customer issues and perform quick damage control to preserve online reputation.

Increased Brand Equity

According to Investopedia.com, brand equity is about “making them [products] memorable, easily recognizable and superior in quality and reliability.”

Businesses can use social media to undertake mass marketing campaigns to improve the image of your product. Memes and YouTube videos can be used to introduce new merchandise to your target audience. Make the videos catchier so that followers or fans would easily remember them. This can help your campaign to go viral.

Market Research

Social networks are the online hubs where people congregate and exchange thoughts and share content. Getting into these interactive sites gives businesses ideas on how to get the interest of their target audience. Once entrepreneurs are able to study customer habits, they can discover which approach will work best for their marketing goals.

You can also keep a digital eye on how your competitors are faring online. Social media allows them to scout how other businesses succeed or fail in their marketing campaigns. Learn the corresponding customer reactions to your competitors’ marketing strategies using effective social media strategies. Businesses can refine their own advertising plans if they have the right tools and information.

The rising popularity of social networks makes industry leaders more accessible. Keeping up to date with their methods helps business develop their operations further. Be a leader now, use social media effectively.

 

References:

Social Media Today

Investopedia

InBlurbs.com