customer service

Outsourcing, a good idea?

Outsourcing can be a great way to grow your business or it could be a way to destroy your business.  Selecting the right people or company to outsource is important. You can take more work on by using contractors or temp staff, or offer more services by working with other companies. This can increase your business and is good for the people or businesses that you outsource to.

Time To Get Personal

I am not one of those bloggers who tend to rant and rave all the time. I don’t set out to offend anyone or be controversial.

However, enough is enough!

I am fed up of people using technology to create numbers not names and to completely ignore the personal touch – and I am sure I am not alone.

Columbo

I love watching Columbo. Infact I’ll be curling up on the sofa this afternoon with a cuppa to watch it. I don’t care which episode it is. I don’t care if I have seen it 15 times already. I’ll still be glued to the TV

Even if you have only ever seen one episode you’ll probably know that Columbo often looks like he is going to leave his suspect in peace but at the last second comes back to ask ‘just one more thing.’

It’s a great technique and always gives him a vital piece of information.

As techniques go it is one that could prove invaluable to you too. Give it a go when you are next talking to a customer or prospect. If you ask one extra question you could end up getting the vital piece of information that will get you the contract, a larger order or establish a loyalty to you as a supplier that didn’t already exist.

Poor public relations

I wonder if there is any other service provider that has such a “customers must play by our rules” attitude as that I recently experienced with Fitness First?

Is the customer always right?

Over the past month I have heard the phrase “the client is always right’ too many times to count. Is this away to do business?

Can you run a business where you have no limits on the service you provide?

Would you expect to go into a shop to buy a new fridge and expect to pay a fraction of the sticker price and get free support and service for how ever many years you want, all the extras you want for nothing!

Does Great Customer Service Really Make a Difference?

I think most of us like to think that we have good customer service. I know I spend hours of unpaid work on each of my clients, and no I do not figure this into the cost I charge. But how many of us really know if the client appreciates the service we spend?

I have just read http://www.businessinsider.com/home-depot-snow-blower-customer-service-2011-12?nr_email_referer=1&utm_source=Triggermail&utm_medium=email&utm_term=War%20Room%20Select&utm_campaign=War%20Room%20Select%202011-12-06 from business insider, if you have a few minutes it is worth the read.

Think like the buyer

The previous article covered the subject of your customers purchasing on need
www.thebusinessbloggingnetwork.com/?p=1552.

You have made contact with your customer, identified a requirement & understood their needs (hopefully)
You are now working on closing the order.

Before that meeting or call you must sit down and consider your approach and answer three questions:
What do they gain by purchasing from me?
Why would your product make their job easier?
Why should they buy from you?

Change your mind!

They say it’s a woman’s privilege to change her mind, but I’d argue that it’s vital for everyone to have the ability to change your mindset if you want your business to succeed.
I have two good examples where a change in thinking, nothing more than that, enabled two business owners to turn trying times into triumphs.

With Banks not lending what alternative sources of funding are there?

This is the question that many SME’s are asking in ever increasing numbers. If the Banks will not lend to them who will? The answer is that there are many alternative sources of funding that many people are totally unaware of. There are even some products from main stream lenders that seem to be forgotten. Here are just a few examples, but remember these are ‘alternative’ sources and as such are more expensive than High Street lenders.

Automating Twitter: Beware of the Dangers

Being a bit of a geek, I thought it would be great to use technology to help generate tweets to my followers. So, having checked out the likes of SocialOomph and Futuretweets – I thought great, this is right up my street to manage a 3 month campaign to automate various tweets on articles, case studies, newsletters, blogs and various other business related links. (Hmm – note to self, it’s sounding ‘spammy’ as I’m writing this).

How important is Facebook to your business?

Social media isn’t going away any time soon, so platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter will have an impact on our businesses – or will they?

How do you use the social media available to market your business?  Does the information that 100,000 people in the UK have left Facebook recently worry you at all?

All this social media stuff doesn’t work!

So many people scoff when I tell them how active I am on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Ecademy and about 30 other networks.  “I don’t have time for all that,” they say, “It’s a time waster – and, anyway, it doesn’t work.”

“What do you want it to do?”  I ask.

It’s a question guaranteed to stop most people in their tracks.  The responses I get vary from a shrug to a bit of preliminary mumbling followed by “More sales!”

I can be really horrible and ask a lot more tough questions (I was trained as a coach once) like:

“Do you like people selling to you on social media?”

“Do you have a marketing strategy for your business?”

“How much time to do you invest in networking offline?”

I’ve tried asking some of these questions, but they scare people!

So here’s my opportunity to explain about why social media doesn’t work – and how it can work very well indeed.

History lesson

Social media has been around since the 1990s, Ecademy launched in 1998.  LinkedIn appeared early in 2003, followed by Facebook in 2004 and Twitter in 2006.  They’re not going away so people who don’t use their free services are missing a marketing opportunity.

Activity

Social media needs consistency – so one tweet a fortnight isn’t enough.  If you’re not making any noise people don’t know you’re there.  If you have a Facebook business page you need to keep it active, it won’t happy all on its own.  If you have a LinkedIn profile you need to be seen in groups and on the Q&A section for people to know you exist and get to know you.

Time management

The time issue is important – it’s true that you can get distracted and find a morning or afternoon has disappeared if you’re not careful.  However, most people are willing to attend one networking meeting a week to promote their business and meet people who may either become customers or refer them to others who need their products or services.

The challenge for most people is that it’s easy to get sucked in and spend half a day chatting to people about inconsequential trivia.  I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t have conversations, but they should be a conscious investment of time.

The average networking event lasts a couple of hours plus travelling time.  It’s part of your marketing effort – why would you not be willing to invest three hours a week in marketing online too?

What’s behind your website?

A colleague of mine recently asked me for advice on social media strategy which resulted in us exposing some serious flaws in her company’s on-line presence which left me wondering – just what lies behind most websites and how effective are they?

10 things I have learned about Twitter

It’s been an interesting journey over the past year for me in respect of Twitter so I thought I would share with you 10 things I have learned about Twitter.

It would be great to hear what you have learned.

One

You can make friends on Twitter with people from all over the world, and when you actually meet them it often feels like you have known them for years.  Because people share the personal insights as well as the business you can really paint a picture of them in your head.  It’s not all about business, that’s why they call it social media!

Two

You no longer need to worry about watching the reality TV shows as there is such an excellent source of information on Twitter each evening you can be sure you will never miss out on the what is happening.

Three

You should be wary of tweeting when under the influence as others on Twitter will be stone cold sober. (Please note this is not from personal inebriated experience but from being on the other side of the fence) and your followers will see a side of you they didn’t know existed.

Four

Twitter is an excellent alternative to locating suppliers or services via Google.  It’s all well and good using an internet directory but how good are the results without a personal recommendation.  One Tweet asking for recommendations and you will have saved yourself hours of work and have built up a shortlist.

Five

You can win stuff on Twitter, quite often all that is required is a simple re-tweet of a tweet and you can win some pretty cool prizes such as tickets to events, chocolate, hampers and much much more, although I have yet to win that coveted iPad.

Six

Twitter is not the place to air your personal grievances, that is still best done in private, however, a carefully worded tweet can encourage a supplier or retailer to respond to a concern that you have, and by carefully worded I do not mean offensive.  I have heard of some really positive responses to tweeted concerns, but then again I have also heard that the same tweets can fall on deaf ears with some companies.

Seven

Twitter is an educational resource! Who would have thought I could have learned so much from 140 characters.  Sometimes you can learn purely from those 140 characters but more often you learn from the blog or article that is linked to from the tweet.  There are some fantastic minds on Twitter, not just business minds, who truly embrace what Twitter is about, and are sharing knowledge and experience on a regular basis.

Free Apps to Enhance Your Facebook Page

Facebook Pages are terribly dull places when you first create them. You have a wall, an info tab and a place to stick some photos. You might think of using the discussion area on there but mostly these are pages with only a few posts by the page admins. By and large, Facebook Pages aren’t very interesting until you add some apps and custom tabs. Here I want to run you through some of the free tools you can use to enhance your Facebook Page in an instant.

Add Google Maps

This app is a great contact tab for your Facebook Pages despite suggesting you simply get a Google Map added to your page. Instead of just that, you get to add links to your business’ other social network accounts on Twitter, Tumblr, Blogger, Flickr, YouTube and others. There is also a section to add a Google or Bing map to your page making it even easier for your users to find your business. To find the app, click here.

Pagemodo

I am probably not alone in thinking this but it is pretty hard trying to design a good looking landing tab on Facebook for those of us who were not blessed with a designers eye for detail. Thankfully a bunch of clever people created Pagemodo, the WYSIWYG page creator for Facebook Pages. With no technical knowledge at all you can create a Facebook Tab that shows off your business in a great light – no Microsoft Paint necessary! The best thing about is it you get one tab entirely free. Result!

RSS Grafitti

If you’re using your Facebook Page to get people onto your website, quite possibly via your blog, you could a lot worse than install RSS Grafitti. A lot of RSS tools that you can install onto your Page will give you a plain list of your most recent posts whereas RSS Grafitti allows you to add a great looking tab to your page that pulls all your content into a fantastic looking page. It automatically posts content to your wall and can be setup in a few minutes with you never heaving to fiddle with the settings again.

Static HTML

The guys at Involver certainly know how to make a decent app or two and their Static HTML tab gives you the freedom to create a tab using HTML that we all know and love. When Facebook stopped supporting new FBML tabs there were many who thought setting up a simple page with a few graphics and clickable links would become very difficult to run. Not so. Installing Static HTML makes the whole process real easy and you once again you can play about to create tabs that really make your Page stand out.