Category: Business


 

Research shows that contrary to a happy customer who will tell only two to three people about their good experience; a dissatisfied customer will tell at least eight to ten people about his or her bad experience. This disparity shows how much just one displeased customer can negatively impact your reputation. It also shows the importance of providing quality customer service to your customers. The following are ways to improve and maintain good customer service, and avoid down-grading your service and company reputation.

  1. First impression is the last impression

This adage is foremost true in customer service. If a customer does not have a good first impression, the customer will leave with a bad impression of your company. Examples where customers may find a poor first impression:

  • Customer service rep (CSR) had a poor interaction with customer
  • A customer’s questions were not answered
  • CSR did not have good knowledge of product or service
  • Customer had to wait too long
  • Website is not user-friendly
  1. Treat your customers the way you want to be treated

The golden rule equally refers to business as it does your personal life. Think how you would feel if you, as a customer, are not treated well. Likely you will be upset and frustrated. Even more likely you will end up telling a friend or colleague about your bad experience. If you think as if you are the customer, you have a better opportunity to provide customers with a great first impression.

  1. Keep your promises

Broken promises lead to lost trust and ruined relationships. This is also true with customer service. Cancelling appointments or not responding to customers’ concerns can damage your customer relationship. What many people don’t realize is that poor communication is rampant in customer service. If you are one of the few who can deliver timely communication you will stand out against your competitors.

  1. Be all ears

Customers are likely to get satisfied if a CSR listens to his needs or problems and then come up with a solution. Same goes with angry customers. Make sure your CSRs listen attentively to whatever the customer has to say before making suggestions or selling a product or service.

  1. Don’t stop at ‘I don’t know’

It is likely most people in your company don’t know everything. This is okay. It is also okay to say, “I don’t know.” However, don’t stop there. If you don’t know the answer, the real key to good customer services is going out of the way to find out the answer. Providing a timeline to the customer for when you will follow-up will show the customer that you didn’t blow them off and builds a level of trust.

  1. Empower your frontline staff

Customers get angry when they hear a CSR say he can’t do anything regarding their problems. Mostly, this happens because a CSR does not have the power to make decisions and has to ask senior management. Make sure you empower your frontline staff enough to resolve customers’ complaints. At the same time, you must establish boundaries and escalation procedures for more complicated matters.

6.5 Organize frequent training sessions

Many companies provide an abundance of front-end training, yet do not train consistently as the employee develops in the company. Providing regular training and customer feedback to your CSRs will help your team grow and develop in a positive way.

www.52CustomerServiceTips.com

customer relations management

The customer relationship managers influence your relationship with the customers more than the taglines. They need to achieve their goals including retaining the established customer base, attracting new customers, persuading the customers to buy your products or render the services and conjuring them to transform into brand ambassadors and spread the word. Effective and timely problem resolution and excellent communication skills are the keys to excellent and satisfactory customer services.

However, you also need to include the following customer relations management skills when recruiting the employees or training and monitoring them.

Direct Marketing Skills

Improving your sales conversion rate is highly crucial to boost sales, expand customer base, and improve brand reputation in the market. Your organization spends time and money on the customers, and for boosting your Return on Investment, the customer relations manager needs to keep an eye on the sales conversion rate. The customer service representatives should be able to directly market your services and products while theconsuming the least possible time.

The Ability to Make Connections

The process of converting the prospects into customers requires exclusivity in establishing warm connections with friendly prospects as well as cold leads. Sometimes, a prospect may be friendly but unwilling to convert into a customer. Following are the two capabilities crucial to make connections.

  • The power of persuasion
  • The ability to motivate the prospects to climb up the ladder step-by-step

You may already be aware of the power of persuasion. The latter refers to a systematic process, essentially required to transform the ‘cold prospects.’ It includes:

  • Generating responses and callbacks in the first meeting
  • Inviting prospects to corporate events
  • Persuasive conversions with direct marketing

Skills of Establishing a Sales Funnel

Retaining your established customers along, with constantly adding new customers in your customer base, is critical for the growth of your business. This process is called creating customers. You need the knowledge and understanding of a sales funnel to create customers.

The sales funnel looks like a hierarchy with Leads on the top, Prospects in the middle, and Customers at the bottom of the hierarchy.

The first step is to attract leads. The sales process revolves around awareness and education about your brand, purchase evaluation, engagement of the customers, commitment of the engaged customers, purchase process, and converting the shoppers into repeat customers. A customer relations manager with a good understanding of the sales funnel is nothing less than an asset to your organization.

Entrepreneurship and Ambassadorship

The customer relations manager should be able to identify and mobilize the resources in order to convert the right people into leads and customers. The manager should be able to establish strong networks inside and outside the organization. The managers should have extensive knowledge of the products and services offered by the firm, along with the ability to establish a relation with the right type of offerings.

The customer relations managers can prove to be an invaluable organizational asset, useful for your business growth and expanding the customer base.

www.FreshCustomerService.com

Keeping Customers Happy

As a bitter reality, a hundred good customer reviews do not make the headlines but only one poor review could devastate your successfully growing business.

Chipotle has recently been in the news for its customer services. The poor customer reviews have dropped its recommendation scores by 17 points at YouGov BrandIndex. Chipotle was hovering at 84 recommended score before. Different customer queries brought important issues to light including the rude behavior of customer service representatives, unhygienic service, and such, which resulted in this downfall. According to a recent Bloomberg’s report, Chipotle’s sales have decreased by $10.3 million in the last quarter due to various cases of food poisoning, most of them occurred with Burrito buyers. Chipotle’s  slow reaction to this issue deepened the decline in it’s financial performance and brand reputation.

Here are some secret weapons to avoid customer service failure like Chipotle and keep your loyal customers happy.

Communicate Genuinely and Rightly

Loyal customers are the assets of a brand. According to the Forrester research, around 64% of the brands receive average or poor feedback from their customers. Another report claims that 37% of the customers are willing to pay extra for better customer services. This means that with poor customer services, your business may lose 37% of the customers.

The brands need to listen and evaluate the customer needs in order to address them. It is equally important for the customer service representatives and brands to accommodate the customer needs.

Genuine communication refers to utilizing all the types of resources to communicate with your customers at the right time. Attending events and exhibitions, quickly responding to customers’ queries on social media, and respecting your customers are a few tips to communicate genuinely with the customers.

Value them to the Point of Satisfaction

The brands lose their loyal customers when the customers become dissatisfied. When you lose a loyal customer, one brick of your business’s success is taken down. Therefore, it is highly important to keep your customers satisfied to retain them. There are two ways to achieve satisfaction.

  1. Resolve the problem to satisfy the customer
  2. Keep the customer hooked up until the problem is resolved

Add Personal Touch to Every Relation

Adding a personal touch makes the customers feel valued. For this, you need to communicate with the customers often and associate with them in a variety of ways. For example, send them cards on important events like birthdays and Christmas. Offer deals on special days like Mother’s Day.

Do Not Over-Promise

As explained earlier, you need to reach the point of satisfaction to retain the loyal customers. If you set the targets too high, the customers’ satisfactory needs will also rise up to that level. Be rationaland set realistic expectations only.

Show Gratitude

A positive attitude of the business towards customers is one of the important building blocks of long-term relationships. Your positive attitude includes:

  • Responsible problem resolution
  • Expression of customer value

The latter type includes saying thank you, expressing kindness, and expressing gratitude that makes the customers valued and establishes long-term relations.

Equip your brand and customer service representatives with these weapons to retain your loyal customers, establish positive brand reputation, and expand your business and customer base.

 

www.FreshCustomerService.com

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In the third quarter of 2015, Hewlett-Packard laid off 10% of its employees, cutting 30,000 jobs in the workforce. According to the Fortune report, most of the layoffs have been reported in customer service and consulting and call center departments. According to HP’s CEO, Meg Whitman, the company may continue firing employees as it moves forward. Whitman took charge in 2011 and since then, the company has downsized by almost 88,000 jobs.

However, if you are also planning to cut jobs like HP, then have a look on these possible side effects.

Loss of Market Credibility

Downsizing is never a desired option for companies. However, the pitfalls of downsizing are way bigger and more today than in the past. As private organizations are choosing ‘blind recruitment’ and ‘recruitment without a university degree’ techniques for hiring new employees, downsizing your customer services could badly affect not only your customers but also your talent pool. This phenomenon could lead to shortage of talent for your company.

Loss of Customers’ Loyalty

You might have spent thousands of dollars to win customers’ loyalty, but cutting thousands of jobs from customer service could result in loss of loyal customers. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, the customers start believing that your company is living on the edge and may not survive in the long run. Secondly, your brand starts losing its positive market reputation.

Instability in the Services

One of the most obvious pitfalls of cutting jobs in customer services is instability in the services. Laying off employees to manage your budgetary concerns may lead to reduced services on the scale. You may easily lose your customers if you fail to provide need-based services. Ultimately, the loss of customers will lead to reduced profits. In contrast, downsizing due to shrinking customer base is ideal to maintain your budget.

Weighing the Pros of Downsizing with Cons

Most of the people believe that financial restrictions are solely responsible for downsizing. However, there are numerous reasons for downsizing a company that sometimes lead to effective, productive and better customer services. Some other reasons of downsizing include:

  • Decreased customer base
  • Mismanagement due to imbalanced managerial and employee ratio
  • Reorganizing workforce to improve efficiency
  • Converting employee based organization into a leaner, better-managed enterprise
  • Switching jobs by downsizing one department and expanding the other
  • Shuffling resources by saving on recruitment and service costs to invest the money in productivity costs

When a company downsizes for a specific goal, it is called reengineering or reorganizing, and this is exactly what HP did. The concept of strategic downsizing evolved in 1980s. However, it is essential to remember that your company may suffer miserably if your strategic downsizing plan is miscalculated, or if it fails.

www.52CustomerServiceTips.com

 

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……….and you will deliver world-class customer service.

Popular belief suggests that customers are the reason problems begin in any organization. That’s far from the case in reality; problems begin with the company and its employees. Customers expect a top-notch experience but receive a bad one instead. As a result, the company loses them forever.  Excellent customer service starts with employees, and if the employees aren’t happy with your company, how can you expect them to make your customers happy?

In my book  Fresh Customer Service- Treat the Employee as #1 and the Customer as #2 and you will get customers for life – I explain that the best way to make your customers happy is to ensure  your employees are happy with their job and empowered and equipped to deliver a world-class customer service experience.  The first two steps of the 6.5 steps  are Side by Side Walking and Smart Tasking.

  1. Side By Side Walking

The first fresh step towards understanding your employees is side by side walking. This essentially means stepping into your employees’ shoes, enabling you to identify the gaps in your company’s operations and helping you determine which areas need improvement. All you have to do is engage in the same activities as your employees for one day to understand where your company stands.

Steps to Effective Side by Side Walking

Following are the main steps for side by side walking:

  • Make safety a priority
  • Jobs should be described in written documents which outline the tasks and desired outcomes
  • Mentally prepare yourself and realize the significance and purpose of this strategy
  • Ensure you adopt same dress code, gear, and use the same equipment as your employees
  • Perform all pre-work tasks your employees have to perform like clocking in, preparing shift register, reading the task board, etc.
  • Do all the tasks as per the existing processes and procedures the employees follow
  • Observe all the tasks and process being followed during the shift
  • Ensure that you complete the entire shift
  • Reflect and assess the tasks you did, the problems that occurred, and compare it to the job description of your employees
  • Determine where the problems are and where improvements are needed.

2.    Smart Tasking

The second fresh step towards understanding your customers is Smart Tasking. It helps in setting up clear priorities and expectations for your employees which would assist them in offering the best customer support to your customers. Train your employees to smart task effectively and encourage them to speak up if they are assigned tasks that they deem ineffective and unnecessary. This helps in eliminating unnecessary work for the employees and makes their tasks more manageable and enjoyable for them.

Steps for Smart Tasking

Following are the main steps for smart tasking:

  • Understand the processes and operations
  • Identify the right tasks and eliminate unnecessary ones
  • Recommend specific time duration for each task
  • Never sacrifice safety of your employees
  • Ensure you provide easy step-by-step instructions for all tasks
  • Determine if the tasks adds to the customers’ experience and to what degree
  • Make adjustments where necessary
  • Review all tasks to ensure they are necessary for the overall process
  • Offer appropriate training of smart tasking for your employees

Understanding the problems your employees face and the environment they work in will help you in making their work experience better. Training them to prioritize and eliminating complex and unnecessary tasks will enhance their work satisfaction and make tasks easy for them. As a result, they will be able to offer a world-class customer service experience  to your customers.

 

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Social Media

Not having an active presence on major social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest today is like not having a website 10 years ago. It marks your brand as behind the times and cuts you off from a valuable means of interacting with customers.

Social media is a great way to collect customer feedback, let your customers build a community around your brand, services and products, and communicate in a more personal and informal way. Savvy companies engage in “social listening,” or monitoring social media networks for commentary about your brand to detect positive and negative consumer trends and respond in a timely and appropriate manner. Many technology companies provide software or hosted services to manage social listening.

The same rules about carefully monitoring everything you do and say apply to social media as apply to regular websites or email. In addition, you need to understand that each social media platform has a different purpose. Facebook is good for registering and rewarding fans, Twitter is good for making short, timely announcements, LinkedIn is good for presenting a professional image and for recruiting employees, Instagram and YouTube let you visually represent your company, and Pinterest is where you and your customers can demonstrate how your goods and products can be used in daily life.

Gamification

The average video gamer is a college-aged professional in their mid-30s. The days of the bored teen slumped on the couch playing video games instead of doing homework are long over. A good chunk of your brand’s customer base probably plays video games, and your brand needs to adapt.

Gamification is the increasingly popular practice of applying video game dynamics and contest strategies to online interactions with customers. For example, you could run a contest for customers to post photos of themselves with your product online, with the public invited to vote on the best photos (with prizes, of course). Or customers registering for an online service could have the option of doing so through a mini-video game.

Customers of all ages and professions live in a world of instant gratification and constant entertainment, largely due to the pervasiveness of technology. Your brand should engage with them in kind.

I have long been a proponent of “Fresh Customer Service,” or putting your employees first and customers second to ensure a customer experience that maximizes satisfaction and repeat visits, ensuring higher sales. And I still stand behind it. But the way customers engage with your brand is changing due to technology, and you need to use the same technology to change how you engage with them.

I’d like to briefly review a few ways you can use cutting-edge technology to ensure that your brand is engaging customers in the way they want to be engaged, with personal and professional success as a result.

Mobile Devices

Consumers of all ages are now “constantly connected,” using smartphones, tablet computers and even smart watches to maintain Internet access everywhere they go. Especially among younger consumers, there is a sense that the “virtual” and “physical” worlds are blended, with the mobile device serving as a continual bridge between the digital realm and everyday life.

You must respond by offering your customers the same experience through their mobile devices as you do in your physical place of business or PC-based website. Responsive design is a Web development strategy that lets you develop your customer website with a single code base and have it automatically optimize itself for whatever device accesses it. No more clunky or incomplete mobile websites!

In addition, customer-facing employees should be armed with mobile devices and well-trained in how to use them to immediately respond to customer requests for information, alternate sources of goods and services, etc. Modern customers will not wait for an employee to run and check on something, they want the answer immediately!

 

Basic RGB

Winning customers is important, and there are many tried-and-true methods for obtaining new customers (which often means “stealing” them from your competitors) I won’t go into here. However, too many professionals and businesses focus only on the win and not on the equally important task of not losing their customers to their competitors after the fact. After all, your competitors are also constantly trying to “win” customers, and they do not consider yours to be off limits!

To help ensure that customers stay won once the winning is done, I have compiled a list 6.5 ways to lose your customers to the competition. Remember, this is a “to-don’t” list, not a “to-do” list!

 

  1. Save your best offers for new customers. There is nothing more annoying to a loyal customer of a business than to see much better prices, deals and promotions given to new customers than anything they receive as established patrons. The message it sends is you only value customers up until the moment they switch their loyalty to you. And guess what? Your competitors are also offering lots of great new (or even returning) customer incentives your own, feeling-overlooked customers will likely be receptive to. Don’t stop incentivizing new customers, but make sure you also give incentives to existing customers who stick around, too.
  2. Provide poor customer service. It’s understood that the general quality of customer service offered today is abysmal. However, if your business is among the swelling ranks of companies providing poor customer service, your customers will switch to a competitor who even offers something marginally better. If you want truly top-notch customer service, try the counter-intuitive notion of putting your employees first and customers second. The resulting wave of morale and engagement among your employees will naturally produce excellent customer service that attracts and maintains customers, rather than pushes them away.
  3. Offer non-competitive prices. Figuring out what to charge for your products and/or services is never easy. Prices that are set too low will make profits hard to come by and also attract the least loyal type of customer – the one only interested in the cheapest price. However, if your prices are too much higher than those of your competitors, your customers will consider saving money by switching to a competitor, even if there is some drop-off in quality. Determine the top and middle of the price range offered by your competitors, and position yourself somewhere in between. Be sure you justify the price with your results!

 

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  1. Good performance is its own reward. When employees consistently demonstrate good or even great performance, but do not receive any reward or recognition beyond what their average or below-average peers receive, they will quickly become disengaged. Employees do not need a bonus check every time they go “above and beyond,” but never recognizing exceptional performance will disengage your top employees while ironically inferior employees relatively unaffected.

 

Truly exceptional performance must be rewarded. This can consist of public praise or perhaps a gift certificate to a local restaurant, but sometimes may need to consist of a raise or bonus, as well. By directly tying any financial rewards to the actual increase in revenue an employee’s performance produces, employers can ensure they still leave room for the company to profit.

  1. Too much work. The pace of modern business requires employees to produce more results with longer hours than ever before. Even when off hours, many employees are expected to remain on call through smartphones, tablet computers, etc. Employees understand the situation, but are still only human and have their breaking point. An endless succession of 70-hour weeks, weekends at the office, personal time disruptions, etc., will lead to disengagement.

 

Employers need to realize that at a certain point, quantity of hours worked starts to have a negative impact on quality of work. Only ask for extra hours when they are truly needed (such as imminent deadline for a major project), and only text/call/email off hours in an emergency. Employees who are allowed to engage in their personal lives will be more engaged at work.

 

  1. Not enough play. The workplace does not have to be an adult playground, but an office or worksite that only offers drudgery and stress will breed disengagement. Provide break areas that let employees relax and have fun when they need a few minutes away from their desk or workspace. A few beanbag chairs and foosball tables can go a long way. Also investments in free perks like snacks and beverages can more than pay for themselves in increased employee engagement.

 

  1. Employees feel disrespected. A lack of respect is one of those situations that is hard to define, but everyone knows it when they experience it. Disrespect is an active effort. Where not listening to employees is passive, belittling them for speaking up is disrespectful. Publicly screaming at an employee who is tardy is disrespectful, while calling them into a supervisor’s office for a private reprimand is much more appropriate (and the employee could even be allowed to explain a possible extenuating circumstance, such as a child’s school bus running late). Disrespected employees become disengaged.

6.5 Don’t be a dead end. I will use the last .5 reason to offer a brief word of encouragement. Ultimately, employees disengage from “dead end” jobs that offer no personal or professional reward, but are merely a grind that pays the bills. The job you offer doesn’t have to be a dead end! By recognizing and rewarding top performers, offering humane working hours and conditions, and letting employees speak their minds when appropriate, you should avoid most disengagement. Employees who do become disengaged in this type of scenario probably aren’t worth retaining, anyway!

 

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The perils of the disengaged employee are well-documented. Disengaged employees are employees who show up for work every day, but don’t feel connected to their jobs, companies, bosses or coworkers. Their performance is mediocre and behind schedule, and they often bring down other employees around them with their poor morale and generally disgruntled attitude. Most business experts agree a disgruntled employee is a much greater threat to your organization than one who quits.

However, while a good deal of attention has been paid to who disgruntled employees are and how they threaten your organization, there has been far less light shed on why employees become disgruntled in the first place. Following are 6.5 reasons employees become disengaged, with a fresh idea on how to counteract and prevent each reason from occurring.

  1. Employers don’t engage. This reason is so obvious it almost seems not worth mentioning, but it’s listed first on purpose. Many employers never engage their employees on any real, human level. They simply assign work, hand out paychecks, and leave workers feeling very much like small cogs in a large machine. Any type of human engagement, even something as small as a suggestion box, monthly birthday celebration or words of encouragement from a boss, can go a long way toward making employees feel engaged with their work.
  2. Employers don’t listen. Many organizations operate in a “top-down,” hierarchical format where senior managers give directions to middle managers, who pass them along to employees. Obviously most companies cannot function as direct democracies where everyone gets an equal say, but too rigid a hierarchy creates feelings of resentment and powerlessness among the “rank and file.” Unchecked, these feelings lead to disengagement.

 

Discretion is the better part of listening. Any time a new process or responsibility is implemented, give the employees carrying it out a chance to give positive and negative feedback, and listen to both. The people who actually carry out orders have insight those giving orders will never possess.