Are the Six Most Expensive Words Killing your Business

We've always done it that way

The term “microwave generation” has been applied to our society of people who want what they want NOW.  Information is readily available literally at their fingertips and in the palm of their hands.  What does this mean for the business owner?  Business as usual is no longer going to be effective and the idea of ‘We’ve always done it that way…” is no longer going to be acceptable. These six most expensive words could be killing your business!

How does this affect Customer Care?

There are some benefits to doing business the way you did it in the past, but these have to evaluated individually.  For example, in the past small business owners found it easier to connect with their customers and build a one-on-one relationship with them.  A lot of that intimacy may have been lost as more people do business online or over the phone.  So what’s required?

1)       An active online presence, which includes having a user-friendly website that provides information on your products and services.  Depending on the type of business you have, research shows that visitors would prefer if you have information right there on the website, perhaps a section for Frequently Asked Questions so that they can get information without always having to make a phone call to speak with a person.

2)      Finding out where online your customers and prospects hang out and make sure that you’re on those platforms to answer questions, add value, and position yourself as an expert in your niche.

3)      While you do not have to spend large chunks of your day on social media platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn; it makes sense to have a basic schedule of what you will do in the limited time you spend there and the kind of content you will share to educate your prospects and customers.

4)      In order to restore a measure of intimacy so you get to know your customers, ask for feedback and try to get them involved in what you’re doing.  At the same time, share, to the extent you feel comfortable, some information about yourself so they get to know, like and trust you.

5)      Customers do not want to wait for days for a reply.  They want it as soon as possible so it’s your responsibility to explore what channels you’ll use to deliver exceptional customer service, always keeping in mind the goal of customer/client retention.

“We’ve always done it that way” could be killing your business unless you analyze and evaluate what’s working and what you need to change to meet the demands of your customers so you deliver superior customer care.

Are you losing your customers? Do you know someone who is? You may download my Special Report: “STOP Losing Your Best Customers: Time-Tested Tips to Grow Your Business with Customer Retention.” Please forward to a friend who may find value in this information.

 

Why Make Time to Keep in Touch with Customers

keep in touchSmall business owners often wear many hats and are very busy.  Even if there is a small staff in place, a great deal of the decision-making and general day-to-day business operations fall of their shoulders.  It’s easy for some things to get lost or be given a lower priority.

One of the things that often get pushed down on the list is making time to keep in touch with customers.  The thing is that keeping in touch with customers should be given as much priority as Marketing and Sales.  Why is this so important?

  • Keeping in touch with your customers on a consistent basis builds the relationship and creates a bond that affects the emotions.  Your customers will get to know like and trust you even more.  When your customers are emotionally attached to you they’re less likely to defect to your competition.
  • Keeping in touch works in tandem with Marketing and Sales.  In fact, it can contribute to effective marketing because surveys and feedback from your current customers empower you to identify what’s working and what may need to be improved in your marketing strategy.  At the same time, your sales will improve as your customers become repeat buyers.  You also have an opportunity to cross-sell and upsell.
  • Many small business owners struggle with consistency.  They may intend to contact their customers on a regular basis, say two times per month or even once per month but they become distracted so that months may go by with no contact.  The effect of this is that you will be perceived as being unreliable and your customers could lose trust in you.  Since recapturing lost trust is very challenging, making a schedule and sticking to it is important.
  • When you keep in touch with customers it gives you an opportunity to educate them and position yourself as the expert in your market.  Let your customers know what you’re doing in your business.  Large corporations have credited the success of some of their products to the suggestions and recommendations of their customers as they kept them updated during product creation.
  • If you’re a speaker, share with your customers where you will be speaking.  If you’re sponsoring an event or doing something in your community share that with them.  People want to see  and come to know who you are as a person, not just the business side. 

It takes time to stay in contact with your customers, so this is something that has to be included in your formal schedule of activities.  It cannot be left to chance.  Building relationships with your customers when you keep in touch with them on a regular basis will help to bridge the gap between your efforts to attract them and retaining them on a long-term basis.

 

Building Customer Relationships – a Priority for Long-Term Success

build relationship with customersBuilding customer relationships is of utmost importance.  Businesses know that their competition will gladly service their customers if they fail to do so correctly.

Customer attraction is rarely an issue because companies, large and small, are well-equipped with sales and marketing strategies that attract new clients and customers.  This is evidenced by the volume of offers most residents receive in their mail boxes.  And some of these offers can be quite enticing.  From banks offering appliances or Gift Cards to communication providers offering up to $250 Gift Cards, it can become challenging for individuals and businesses to remain loyal to their current provider or bank.

Failure to build strong relationships with customers is a mistake!  Michael Denisoff, Business Consultant; some time ago noted that all successful small businesses–regardless of what they do or sell–have one thing in common:
their owners know how to build and maintain relationships.  He continued, “Without strong relationships, it is impossible to have success as a business owner.”

Like any other relationship, building strong relationships with your clients and customers, as well as vendors and suppliers, all of whom have a stake in your business, take time and work.  However, once all of these stakeholders recognize that you’re serious about cultivating the relationship and are willing to enhance the value you bring to them, you’ll find that you’ve built a community that will be loyal to you.

Think about it: If you had a friend and the only time you contacted him or her was when you were in distress and needed their help, how long do you believe that friendship would hold up?  Eventually your friend would begin to see you as a ‘user’ who only contacts her when you need something.

The same is true for your business.   In building customer relationships here are some important questions to ask yourself:

  • Have I set up a database of my customers with as much information as possible?
  • Do I have a system in place so that I contact my customers on a regular basis?
  • Is my system flexible so that I can add notes from conversations I, or any member of my team, have with customers for effective follow-up where necessary?
  • Do I ask for feedback from my customers so that they feel that they have an active part in the growth and success of my company?
  • Do I carefully listen to the feedback objectively and seek to implement where necessary?

It’s important to remember that as business owners, we’re often so close to our business regardless of the size and scope, that others can often see what we cannot.  In addition, your customers need to be made to feel they are important to your business.  The reality is that they are.  So by seeking their feedback, listening, and implementing where necessary, you’ll be building and cementing the relationship with your customers.

What steps have you taken to build or continue building customer relationships with your customers and suppliers?

3 Ways to Create an Online Reputation that Attracts Your Ideal Customers

threeThe importance of creating an online reputation that attracts your ideal customers and clients cannot be underestimated. Advancement in technology makes the world a smaller place because of the various means of communication.   The Internet makes it possible to impact and be impacted by people ‘on the other side of the world’ at the drop of the proverbial hat.

You know that people do business with people they know, like and trust; therefore, it’s important that as part of managing your online reputation and allowing people get to know you, you create products that educate them, not only on what you do, but also provide information that answer their burning questions. You can do this in the following ways:

  1. Article Marketing: Article Marketing is constantly evolving, and is still a valuable way to acquaint people with what you do and build your personal brand. It’s a good way to let your ideal customers know how you can help them with the questions they have and the problems they’re seeking a solution to. The Resource Box is valuable real estate that should be used to lead them to learn more about you and the solution you provide.Another advantage of Article Marketing is that you can submit your content to multiple article directories where they can serve to attract your ideal customers that are outside of your normal sphere.  You also build your online reputation based on the excellent information you share in your articles.
  1. Blogging: Blogging, like Article Marketing, is a way to educate your audience. Becoming part of the blogosphere allows you to connect with your customers – you can answer their questions and address their pain points. By having a comment box that is active on your blog, this allows your customers and potential questions to ask you specific questions and for you to provide specific answers.  You can also expand on your answer by writing a blog post that can benefit even more people. It also allows you to get your name out to others bloggers and connect with them and build a relationship.The key is to blog about content that will appeal to you ideal customers. This will help to create an online reputation that attracts your ideal customers and make them want to learn more from you.
  2. Monitor what others are saying about you:The people who become customers usually do so after they’ve spent some time getting to know you.  They may do this through opting into your list and receiving emails from you.  Or they may get to know you through social media posts.  However, all the goodwill that may have been built up over time can be destroyed in a moment by malicious or derogatory comments on your blog or social media platforms.Monitoring mentions of your name and company name online are a must!  One free way to do this is by setting up Google Alerts for your name and the name of your business.  There are also paid services that will monitor mentions like Beevolve which offers a 7-day trial.

Your reputation can attract your ideal customers or repel them, so it’s important to make sure that your online reputation serves you in a positive way.  Do you have questions, please contact me at http://yvonneajones.com and I’ll reply to you personally.

 

Time Management: A Crucial Component to Goal-Setting

time managementThere is a lot of emphasis on goals at this time of year, but really, S.M.A.R.T goals can be set for anytime in the year. Every month presents an opportunity for a fresh start, if you choose to view it that way, and so you can set goals on a monthly basis. On the other hand, your annual goals give you a picture of where you are and where you want to be at the end of the calendar year.

A point to keep in mind is that your annual goals should be broken down into monthly goals, then weekly goals. This way every week you know what you should be working on. The challenge that arises after the goals are set is devising a strategy so that you will stick to your goals and complete them.

Time Management, or as I prefer to call it, self-management, is a crucial component to overall productivity and goal-setting achievement. And in order for you to get the most out of time or self-management, you have to know what your day will look like so that you will use your time effectively.

Set aside time each day to plan for tomorrow. Many people do this first thing in the morning, whereas other people do it the night before. If you are a “morning person” the “day-of” tactic will probably work best. If you have a hard time getting started in the morning then the night before would probably be the smarter time to plan your day so you know exactly what to do and when to do it, and you can hit the floor running.

There are people who say that they do not like to have to stick to a schedule, but having something to guide and remind you on the most important things you want to accomplish in a day or a given period can be very helpful.  I personally do not operate well without a Planner with the items and tasks that I want to accomplish each day.  Frankly, I’m lost without my Planner as it keeps me on track…and I love being able to check things off as I go.

When you are planning out your day, be sure to work based on priority. In her book, Never Check E-Mail In the Morning: And Other Unexpected Strategies for Making Your Work Life Work author, Julie Morganstern offers some great tips on the value of placing priorities in the right place.

Start with a list of all the things you would like to accomplish. Then, put the items that will make the biggest difference first. This may not be the task you really want to do, but it may be the one that gives the greatest results. Next be sure to put down the items that are time sensitive. And lastly put the items you will enjoy the most.

If you put your favorite activities at the end of your day you will not only be more motivated to accomplish your goals but you will end the day on a high note. Time Management is a crucial component to goal-setting and recognizing that and working with that premise will be one of the most beneficial ways to stick to your goals and achieve them.  Remember that the key is not just Time Management; it’s more important to take action!

What strategies have you found to be effective in goal-setting?  Please share.