Saturday, May 31, 2008

Battling With Customer Service How To Win The War Part 1 Of 2

Writen by Gwendolyn Lee

A call to customer service can be an infuriating ending to a frustrating experience. You're upset and looking for empathy, but all you encounter is disappointment. Could Company X have done something differently? Probably, but if you follow these tips when dealing with customer service, you'll be in the driver's seat for the next dispute.

1. Be prepared.

Seems basic, right? Unless you've called Company X several times, you're probably not familiar with their required information. Have every tracking number, account number, itemized statement, and order number before you call. Customer service representatives are held responsible for torturous call-handling metrics designed by masochistic management. Length of call, resolution (if the customer calls back to the company within an allocated amount of time), and randomly monitored calls are measured stringently. Bottom line: they want to help you quickly and completely, lest a superior crack a whip.

2. Be nice.

Customer service representatives speak with upset, irritated, and/or irate people all day. Every day. You may not agree with a credit denial, but screaming "the customer is always right, (expletive)!" will not help. Be pleasant and the rules may be malleable. Be another unpleasant customer and the guidelines will be set in stone.

3. Know when to call, know when to write.

If you need to request a price quote, add/remove a feature, or ask for explanation of a bill, e-mail is the most efficient route for your correspondence. For repair concerns or credit requests, call customer service. Repair specialists will need to troubleshoot and get access information should a technician need to be dispatched. Credit requests can be handled via e-mail, however, it is easier to reply with a "credit denied" form letter than to deny credit to a real, live person.

4. Get on record.

If something is not working properly, call the company immediately. If there is a cable, satellite, or phone outage, Company X will only be able to diagnose and correct the problem if they are notified a problem exists. This also establishes a record of communication should you need to request a credit or refund at a later date.

5. Be persistent, but not obnoxious.

Many companies have guidelines for dispensing credit that require denial the first time for any request that is not a previously-reported "out of service" issue or a known billing error. The second time a credit request is made, these guidelines can be relaxed. If you have followed the "be nice" tip above, you may be rewarded with your credit request.

Following these five tips will help you get what you want in the most efficient manner possible. Stay tuned for the next installment to find out how you can aggravate the customer service experience and actually delay resolution!

Gwendolyn Lee is a statistician and analyst of Internet-related metrics for She has researched and implemented business models to maximize profitability, efficiency, and advertising tracking.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Hosted Crm What Is It

Writen by David Cowgill

When hosted CRM was first introduced, concerns were voiced about its drawbacks: the lack of customization, integration with other applications, support, third party storage, control over data control and the performance of service reps - not to mention the all-important security issue. Hosting's biggest drawback is that your most important data is in a third-party's hands.

Although CRM, as hosted solutions are also known, are not as difficult or as costly to install as packaged solutions, they still require an infrastructure, significant IT resources, and time to deploy.

Application integration has been another challenge for ASPs. Since ASPs unilaterally update their code bases, this opens the possibility that an integrated business process could be broken by a change that you don't control.

Privacy and privacy laws are another concern: you must investigate what safeguards an ASP offers to protect your data. As you can see, hosted CRM isn't perfect. Aberdeen researchers found that when considering these problems, support for hosting dampens. One way around this might be a hybrid approach: rent now, buy later.

It Does Not Have To Be Either-Or

Another emerging trend is that companies adopt hosted solutions as a low-risk way of evaluating a CRM solution's capabilities before they buy into an in-house set up. This approach allows companies to mitigate risk and experience the benefits of rapid time-to-value. Once companies see a ROI, then they can choose to bring the solution in-house.

The decision between an in-house implementation and a hosted solution is based on many factors. It is important to evaluate your business plan, technology strategy, risk profile, IT budgets, IT resources, opportunity costs, customization requirements and industry-sector requirements.

Visit for more information.

David Cowgill e-mail protected from spam bots


Accessing Legal Services With Toll Free Numbers Directory

Writen by Amit B Sharma

Toll free numbers allow us to conveniently interact with product and service providers and obtain the information required. This is especially true for professional services in areas like law.

Legal services need to be accessible to the majority of the population whenever needed. It could be an emergency, or a routine legal query. Toll free number services give you instant access to legal firms and representatives whenever the need arises.

Prepaid legal services are easily available through toll free numbers. Whether it is signing a contract or insurance difficulties, speeding tickets or routinely occurring issues, a toll free number gives you access to legal firms who then return your call through trained professionals to answer queries and solve problems.

Having access to law professionals was never so easy. You need not pay for the call. The legal services cover a whole gamut of issues, from simple problems to legal hassles. Prepaid legal services can work over toll free numbers and charge monthly or annual fees for their services.

The Internet has made it all too easy to locate toll free numbers. Several online toll free numbers directories cover the entire U.S. with various tools to locate the services needed. Apart from providing phone numbers, they also contain useful email addresses, Website addresses, classified advertisements, and other related information.

A useful feature of online toll free directories is the reverse number lookup. A visitor can verify the contact addresses from a given toll free number at the click of a button.

Legal problems can arise anytime, anywhere. Toll free numbers give us access to legal help quickly and conveniently and save us calling charges as well.

For more information on toll free legal services, visit

For more information on toll free legal services, visit

The author is the content developer of online internet toll free directory internet toll free directory He can be contacted at

Thursday, May 29, 2008

An Upgrade Is Usually Worse At First

Writen by Ron Kaufman

I recently upgraded the telephone system in our home and office. For the next two days everything about the phones went wrong: crossed lines, disconnected calls, non-working outlets, strange buzzing sounds.

Only after two additional visits by the technician was the upgrade working as intended.

Have you noticed how often this happens?

The new improved computer software runs slower than the version you just replaced. The latest hardware proves harder to manage than the system you abandoned. The new car goes back to the shop for an adjustment within two weeks when the old car worked perfectly for years. The new home has a door that jams, a roof that leaks, a window or floorboard that squeaks.

No one intends an 'upgrade' to start out as a 'downgrade', but the pattern is familiar and occurs frequently.

Key Learning Point
Be upfront with your customers about glitches or hiccups that may occur - and be ready to provide help and reassurance through the early stages of implementation.

Action Steps
If you are upgrading or changing your service in ways that affect your customers, send them advance warning and acknowledge openly what everyone already knows: things go wrong, upgrades take time, it takes effort to locate and iron out the wrinkles.

Be positive and proactive about problems that may occur. Use honesty to build a bond of truth and a commitment to constructive collaboration.

And, if you are the customer, be prepared to hurdle the hiccups!

Ron Kaufman is an internationally acclaimed educator and motivator for partnerships and quality customer service. He is author of the bestselling "UP Your Service!" and founder of "UP Your Service College". Visit for more such Customer Service articles, subscribe to his Newsletter, or to buy his bestselling Books, Videos, Audio CDs on Customer Service from his secure Online Store. You can also watch Ron live or listen to him at

Breaking The Ice And Winning Over The Client

Writen by Robert Moment

Wherever you turn these days you'll find articles covering every business strategy and tactic available to man, from how to make a great presentation to strategies for success all the way to negotiations and prospecting and getting a client to commit. But hardly anyone touches on the subject of breaking the ice with a new client and winning them over.

Experts say it takes only three seconds to make a first impression. That doesn't give you much time to dazzle someone with your professionalism and polish, especially since it's so difficult to change a first impression. Naturally that leaves most of us a bit concerned when meeting someone for the very first time, especially if a lot is riding on your presentation.

Since your success is based heavily on your approach along with your understanding of the potential client's goals and purpose, it is up to you to plan for that first moment of breaking the ice. If you investigate the approach and attitude of top producers you'll discover that they all use some similar strategies for meeting and greeting a new client. Because they know just how important it is to prepare for the first meeting and how crucial it is to break the ice correctly, they come well prepared.

Consequently, whether your communication begins with a simple e-mail message, telephone call or person to person visit, the first contact is the most important. How you present yourself along with the questions you ask determines your success. And while there are no guarantees that any one strategy will work every time, applying the following few techniques will help make an impression that will certainly impact your very next presentation.

Make Your First Meeting Count!

1) The first and most important strategy for breaking ice is being fully prepared. And the best way to prepare is by knowing all you can about the company or individual you are planning to address. Prior to making an appointment, conduct some preliminary research about the company and individual so that you feel confident when making the first contact. Bios or articles about the person are often posted on the Internet so it's usually easy to find information. By knowing the company's history or something about the individual, you'll be in a better position to know what the prospect needs. Familiarizing yourself with the prospect opens the way to conversation.

2) To gain the respect of a potential client, there's a lot more to communicating than just words. Your body language and your tone speak as loudly as the words you say, therefore each presentation must be offered with cheerfulness and confidence. Needless to say, your overall appearance is critically important to the way you present yourself. Feeling good about your appearance is critically important to the way you present yourself. In fact the confidence you feel both about yourself and your product might well be the primary ingredient for winning over a prospective client. When it comes to speaking about your product and your service, it is your confidence and belief in your product that does most of the selling. So during the first moment of meeting, greet the person with a firm handshake along with good eye contact. Stand and walk tall, keeping your shoulders back and your head erect. And don't forget to smile.

3) We hear a lot today about the value of connecting with a person, yet what does That really mean? A connection comes when two people meet on common ground. One way you can connect with a potential prospect is by being your authentic self. Allow your personality, integrity and sense of humor to shine through. If the person you're meeting is aloof or hard to connect with, they might just need a bit more convincing. So rather than leaping right into the sales presentation the minute you start talking, speak first about some mutually interesting topics of conversation. If you did your homework you already know something about the company or the person, therefore you might try opening on a light note. After a few minutes, when you've had some time to relax and establish rapport, you can launch into your presentation.

4) There may be times when you meet with a client and you don't feel an immediate connection. Although your first instinct is to run and find someone who's a bit more compatible, perhaps you might consider viewing the situation from a new perspective. Consider it a challenge. Trying to find ways to connect with the person and then achieving it can be very rewarding. After all, your mission is to be the most important resource to your client therefore your goal is to impress the potential client with your ability to solve their problems. Pay careful attention to what the client really needs by actively listening. Don't oversell or try to convince the client that what you have is absolutely perfect for them. State clearly and plainly how you'll be able to help the client. Basically, before quitting on a potential client do your best to gain insight into the client's needs. If it doesn't work, you'll know you gave it your best shot.

5) Listening to what your client has to say is extremely important. It may be basic Knowledge that one should listen and not talk too much, but in our exuberance to sell we often forget to listen. When paying attention to conversation, you learn a lot about the potential client. Therefore, a good rule of thumb is to listen more, talk less and glean the knowledge that will help you understand the prospect's goals, concerns and overall needs. Ask questions, but be sure to pay attention to the answers. Additionally, use common courtesy by letting the prospect know that you understand how precious time is to him. If you requested 30 minutes and the potential client agreed, respect that time frame.

Breaking the ice can at times seem like a difficult task, but if you're genuinely committed to helping your potential client, it won't be difficult. Be sincere, respectful and open-minded. Take the time to understand the client's needs and they'll take the time to understand yours. If you plan, prepare and manage the initial breaking of the ice effectively, the potential prospect will soon be considered a well-established business associate.

Robert Moment is a best-selling author, business coach, strategist and the founder of The Moment Group, a consulting firm dedicated to helping small businesses win federal contracts. He just released his new book, It Only Takes a Moment to Score, and recently unveiled Sell Integrity, a small business tool that helps you successfully sell your business idea. Learn more at: or email:

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Computer Reseller Business Effective Recourse Policies

Writen by Joshua Feinberg

As a professional in the computer reseller business, you need to create strong recourse policies to handle any customer complaints. If these policies are clear and in place, you can have satisfied customers and a good reputation even if you run into snags along the way.

Elements of Computer Reseller Business Recourse Policies

The most effective recourse policies give the customer a sense of total control. Listen to concerns, apologize for any inconveniences and quickly fix the problem. Taking action in this way will help build a positive relationship in the computer reseller business and give a customer the opportunity to get his needs best met.

A Good Advisor

Consulting an advisor can help a computer reseller business build its reputation. Choose someone that has a strong presence in the community and put the advisor's name on all brochures, on the website and on the letterheads. Customers will trust you more as a business connected with a well-respected community leader.

The Better Business Bureau

Joining the Better Business Bureau or another similar community group is also important for a computer reseller business. But do more than just join; attend meetings and activities to gain insight into how to better deal with customers and run your business.

Employee Involvement

Employees handling customers on a daily basis need to be involved in the development and execution of recourse policies. You can get valuable information and feedback from employees. Some team members might be overworked or may be in need of new supplies or critical tools. Open communication will make employees comfortable with the sharing process, and they will work harder to find solutions before they think about complaining.

Customer recourse policies are vital to every computer reseller business. Responding to customer complaints quickly and efficiently and making yourself accountable will help promote customer satisfaction.

Copyright MMI-MMVII, Computer Consulting 101 Blog. All Worldwide Rights Reserved. {Attention Publishers: Live hyperlink in author resource box required for copyright compliance}

Joshua Feinberg, co-founder of Computer Consulting 101, helps computer consulting businesses get more steady, high-paying clients. Learn how you can too. Sign-up now for your free access to these field-tested, proven business strategies on the Computer Consulting 101 Blog.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Transforming Disgruntled Customers Into Your Biggest Advocates

Writen by Stephen Munday

"I am writing to complain about the widget I bought from your site the other day."

Sell anything and eventually you will be on the receiving end of a sentence like this. So how do you turn a disgruntled customer not just into a satisfied one, but – even better - into a powerful advocate for your business?

1. Don't get angry, don't act hurt

Reactions are initially emotional. Particularly if you are in a small company or you are the owner of the business, you may take a complaint as criticism – a personal attack.

What do humans do when attacked? We want to fight back and justify ourselves. We become angry and act hurt. But this is the last thing you want to do when interacting with your customers – however difficult they may be sometimes.

So prepare yourself in advance: Read this article and you will know how to turn these situations around, so make a decision right now to receive any negative customer feedback in a positive way. As my mother would say: "Engage brain!"

2. Save the sale

Got your feelings under control? Good. Now you are ready to secure your primary objective – saving the sale.

Remember: this is a person who has already bought from you. The vast majority of visitors to your site don't even do that, so just the fact that this person has already made a purchase makes them an instant VIP and their business worth fighting for.

How do you it?

1. Prioritize – Remember this sale is a bird in the hand. Yes, enquiries from potential customers are important, but remember you already have this person's money in the bank. Not potential money – cold hard cash! So first prioritize the disgruntled customer with a speedy response.

2. Be respectful – Remember not to get riled. A polite, calm attitude will go a long way to taking the heat out of the rhetoric.

3. Be informative – Reply thoroughly to every point that has been made and add any other information you think could be useful. Misunderstanding or a lack of knowledge rather than a problem with the product itself is often the real issue. Part of being informative is also going out of your way to remind the customer about his or her right to return or replace the product under your (generous) full satisfaction guarantee. Being up front and positive about this will go a long way to diffuse any concern the customer may have about having to wrestle the money out of your hands at some point in the future.

Apply the above methods and the chances of securing the sale will increase tremendously.

But remember that even if you do lose the sale, your positive approach may well have saved the customer: Part company on good terms and you retain the potential for future sales and have at least neutralized a lot of negative word-of-mouth publicity.

3. Sell more!

Now this might sound crazy, but a disgruntled customer is actually a sales opportunity in disguise. Just think about it for a moment: Perhaps they are unhappy because they did not get what they wanted from their initial purchase.

Of course, one way they might choose to solve this problem is by returning the goods. Your job is to show them there is an alternative that will be a win-win situation for both parties. Here are two ways you can do this:

1. Offer a higher-spec / revised spec product. 2. Offer an additional product.

Just remember not to "sell" but to "help": Show the customer a solution that will meet their needs. Offer a discount and make it as painless as possible for the customer to part with more money. At the same time, always be sure to leave the door open for them to back out from the existing sale so that they don't feel pressured. Follow this simple strategy and they will thank you for helping them out while you pocket the extra profit.

4. Glean Knowledge

Let's face it, this particular sale may still sink beneath the waves before you can rescue it. But all is not lost! Anything you learn from this experience can pay you back many times over in increased future revenue.

What do the experiences this customer had tell you about:

- The product itself?

- Your service?

- The information on your site?

- Navigation on your site?

- External factors – such as difficulties with your payment provider?

Be sure to bear in mind the following points to get the most out of these questions:

- Don't assume your customer is just an idiot: If he / she has made a mistake, it is fairly likely that other people have done and are doing the same thing.

- Don't take everything the customer says at face value: For example, it may appear that the issue is the product itself, but closer inspection could reveal that your site failed to give them enough information prior to purchasing, leading to this later disappointment.

Once you have discerned the problem - solve it! It is costing you sales right now.

5. Disgruntled customer turned advocate

If you have successfully followed the process outlined above, not only have you saved the sale, but maybe you have even added to it and the valuable insights you have collected and acted on are boosting your revenue right now.

Perhaps you are thinking that it can't get much better than this. But there is still the ultimate payback – the icing on the cake: Turning an unhappy customer into an advocate for your business.

Your positive attitude will often not only secure the sale, but also win over the customer themselves. In my experience this is exemplified by the fact that a surprisingly large proportion of the testimonials I use originated in a negative customer experience.

But far from wanting their money back, these customers are now encouraging others to part with theirs through their testimonials. Make this your goal when dealing with a disgruntled customer and all the heartache along the way will be well worth it in the end.

About the Author

Stephen Munday lives in Japan. He works for Provide Cars, who buy cars at japanese car auctions and sell them to japanese car importers around the world. This article is (c) Stephen Munday 2005. Permission is given to reproduce this article in whole with the URLs correctly hyperlinked.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Creating Satisfied Customers

Writen by Christine Peppler

Everyone in business wants to have customers but anyone wanting to remain in business wants satisfied customers. A satisfied customer is often a repeat customer and everyone knows that repeat business makes an easier sale. Obviously, creating a satisfied customer is a complex issue; from offering products and services that are reliable and high quality to being responsive when issues arise. The scope of this issue can't be discussed in a meaningful way within a single article; however this article can present some ideas on how to guide your customers to assist them in making the best choice to suit their needs.

In general, the most satisfied customer is the one who knows what his expectations are and knows the most about the capabilities/functioning of the product or service he is purchasing. Many successful entrepreneurs understand that a large part of their role is to assist customers in identifying their needs and in assuring they are fully informed about the products/services they are considering.

There are numerous options open to website owners to assure this need is fulfilled. Here are just a few:

1. Develop buying guides which prompt your customers to think critically about what features are of interest to them. For instance, when purchasing a digital camera they might want to consider first how they will use the camera, what kind of shots they will take, how they will share the pictures, where they will use it, how much they will carry it around, what size prints they will want, how much skill they have in order to use manual controls, etc. This kind of information will then assist them in determining the appropriate the size, weight, speed, and other features that they want in a camera.

2. Develop resources which provide information on how products function and the pros/cons of the various features in an unbiased manner. Back to the example of digital camera, you would be providing information on zoom for instance. Both optical and digital zoom would be explained; what it is, what it does, which is more critical to picture quality and so forth. Be sure that explanations are in "lay terms". Don't insult your customers by assuming they know nothing but avoid using industry jargon without an explanation unless the term is used universally.

3. Be sure to provide pertinent information on important characteristics of your product. Do not misrepresent them. When a product does not have every feature imaginable that is reality. You can't assume that just because a particular camera does not produce good prints over 8x10 that the customer will consider this negatively. It may be of no importance to them. In addition, a good sales person understands that you can state what the product/service can and can not do but put a positive spin on it. For instance, "Model xyz is not recommended for large prints over 8x10 but it produces excellent 4x6 and 5x7 color images, perfect for the average person wanting photos of the family, nature, and special events. It is our most popular model." The customer needs to be fully aware if a feature that is critical for them is not present. The most successful entrepreneur will focus on providing the product that is right for the customer rather than getting hung up on one single product.

4. Provide contact information for those customers with questions and follow up promptly.

5. Another source of information that is very useful to consumers is feedback from current customers. This can be achieved through a forum, web polls, or by providing information from traditional customer satisfaction surveys such as information from the JD Power & Associates website.

Website owners can present the information in any number of ways but the important thing is to assure that your customers have carefully examined what they want and know what they are getting. Meeting, or exceeding, their expectations is then a much easier task.

Christine Peppler is the owner of the website

Heroes Take Care Of Customers Even If Theyre Wrong

Writen by John Madden

It has been said, and I was taught it as a young teenager in my aunt's small hotel in Dublin, Ireland, that the customer is always right. While trying hard to accept this philosophy (With my aunt, it was a dogma!), l can still recall incidents that, in my mind, totally disproved this theory.

And yet, as I advanced in the world of business, I soon learned that the best way to lose customers to the competition was to make sure that they knew when they were wrong... and put them in their place! Can you be sure that some of your customers haven't gone to your competition because of an "I can prove you wrong" attitude on the part of one or more of your people? Employees follow examples and generally do what they're trained to do.

One day I called the customer service "800" number of my long distance telephone provider.I believed that I had not received the appropriate "volume discount" on my last telephone bill and I told the customer service representative that I would like a credit on my next month's bill. She was quick as a flash to assure me that I had indeed received the correct discount. I went over the numbers with her, disputing the long distance total she mentioned. It was a lesser number than I had calculated, which explained the smaller discount I had received.

She informed me that the discount was only applicable to domestic calls, and that if I would just look at my bill, I would see that three of my calls were made to London, and therefore I was not entitled to this discount She appeared to derive some sardonic satisfaction from showing me that she was right, and I was wrong.

Has this sort of thing ever happened to you as a customer? Has it happened to you as a customer service worker? When this happened to me, it was painfully obvious that although I was technically wrong, this employee was not trained - nor inclined - to let me off the hook and help me save face.

Exceptional employees will go beyond that, especially when we acknowledge their efforts and accomplishments and encourage them to strive for excellence! The question is, are you (or is someone) teaching your employees the skills they need to provide outstanding service to your customers? Are you teaching them how to respond to "situations" instead of reacting to them?

You'll be doing your customers and your employees a great service if you are! Here are some guidelines you can follow to keep your customers coming back, especially if they were "wrong":

1. When answering the phone, smile immediately; it makes the customer (or any caller) feel at ease and comfortable, and you'll feel better and more helpful to the caller.

2. Listen until the customer has finished, especially if he or she appears upset.

3. Don't take it personally. To the customer you are the company!

4. Empathize. See the problem or concern from the customer's point of view.

5. Apologize, even if you're not at fault. The fact is, customers will often understand it's their mistake, but why rub it in? Tell them the small print was probably not clear, and that you're sorry for the confusion.

6. Ask the customer if there's anything else you could help with.

7. Thank the customer for calling. By calling, she gave you an opportunity to show off your outstanding customer service under adverse conditions! Tell the customer you appreciate her business and that you hope to continue to take care of her in the future.

8. Record the customer's concern or problem, and see if your company needs to make any refinements to a process which affects customer service.

9. Follow up with a brief thank-you note, and you've probably won a customer for life!

John Madden is an international speaker, trainer, and author of "Leap, Don't Sleep" (How to get different results by doing something different). He specializes in leadership, customer service, stress management through humor, time mangement, and interpersonal skills. You can reach him at 316-689-6932 or 1-800-301-2924; email at; web site:

Sunday, May 25, 2008

What Type Of Software Is This

Writen by James NK Khoo

The other day while at the book store, I came across some accounting software CDs strewn with other CDs and books in garage sale box.

How can any self respecting businessman (even a small one at that) pick up a copy of this cheap sale accounting CD from the box for his business to use? He'd think "what type of accounting system is this that would end up in a garage sale?"...and he's not even heard of free software yet! If he did, he'd probably figure "What type of software is this that you can just click and get it for free on the Internet?"

In most cases, this thinking "..what type of..?" continues and applies to the person on the other end - the guy promoting it. It goes "what type of person are you to promote something that cheap (that ends up in a garage sale box) to me?". It follows "What type of company are you representing? Or do you even have a company?"

Even small business owners have self respect when they shop for budget items.

The guy selling free software tried "No sir. This is open source program, very popular and respectable. Do you know Apache? It's also free.."

Businessman "You mean the one with war paint on his face fighting Custer in the movie?". Thanks to Hollywood, some things just get stereotyped.

For those of us who promote open source applications the above scenario though hilarious, is not unreal.

If we think about it, what do people actually buy from a garage sale box? Most likely something for a hobby, say something you want to learn about but a new book costs a bomb. Maybe a recipe book, taichi and of course the fast outdated tech books. We're talking about something 'light' or outdated that ends up in the garage sale box. Certainly not for something that's as important as accounting software for any business to use.

Perhaps open source businesses need to emphasize on the word solutions instead of free or open source. Package the software into a decent looking box. Show the customer that there are costs by itemising, 'software cost' foc, show a charge for download, copy, packaging, transport and include training, upgrade, email, telephone, etc support services, add them up and show a 'total solutions' cost. Stack the costs up against proprietory solutions and very likely open applications looks a better option for the customer. The idea is to show that there is a cost for the solution you are selling - just like any other product. The marketing campaign may be capped by putting it as a summer offer - normal say USD400 now only USD199.

James NK Khoo is the owner of Qwenkay Information a company providing support for content management systems software and accounting software. Contact

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Are You Referable

Writen by Ron Kaufman

Technical competence alone does not make you 'referable', no matter how good you are.

My friend Treva recently experienced a car breakdown in Los Angeles. Her vehicle was towed to a nearby service station where the manager put her at ease with his comfortable style and obvious expertise. He promised to call her the next morning with an evaluation and an estimate.

She took the bus home. The next morning, he did not call. She called him in the afternoon. He apologized and agreed to call her back by the end of the day. But he didn't. She reached him again the next morning. This time he promised to call back within 45 minutes. Two hours later, he still had not called.

In the end, Treva's car was very well repaired. The manager gave her a clear explanation of what had gone wrong and charged her a very reasonable price.

I asked if she would take her car to this person in the future. She paused and replied, 'Yes. I can trust him to take good care of my car. But I won't refer him to anyone else. I can't trust him to take good care of my friends or my colleagues.'

Key Learning Point
Being technically competent is not enough to build a growing business. You may be a terrific lawyer, doctor, accountant, broker, supplier, programmer, manufacturer or car mechanic, but if you don't keep your promises in every way, you just won't be referred.

Action Steps
Promises are the foundation of reputation. Make them, and keep them.

Ron Kaufman is an internationally acclaimed educator and motivator for partnerships and quality customer service. He is author of the bestselling "UP Your Service!" and founder of "UP Your Service College". Visit for more such Customer Service articles, subscribe to his Newsletter, or to buy his bestselling Books, Videos, Audio CDs on Customer Service from his secure Online Store. You can also watch Ron live or listen to him at

Friday, May 23, 2008

7 Simple Key Principles Of Relationship Marketing To Attract Lifetime Customers

Writen by Gley Yahya

Most of business owners fail to effectively attract and retain lifetime customers. What they fail to realize is the key principles of relationship marketing, that converts potential customers into repeat clients.

To succeed in your business, your main goal should be to build a responsive email list of lifetime customers from your targeted market who trust you, feel grateful to you and value your recommendation.

A good relationship with loyal customers is worth a fortune. That's the most valuable thing any business can have. The key here is to build your large list of lifetime customers who trust you. Achieve this and you're set for life.

For that reason you need to learn the key principles of relationship marketing to be able to apply relationship marketing concepts to your web site.

What's Relationship Marketing?

Relationship marketing is the method of gradually turning website visitors into subscribers and leads them from position to position along a planned program to convert them into life time customers.

Think of relationship building as the foundation to your business. It establishes you as a professional, trust worthy and a consistent source.

7 Key Principles of Relationship Marketing.

Building relationship online is more difficult when compared to offline relationship building. The techniques used are almost the same. But, turning a potential customer into lifetime customer offline is easier due to the nature of the process. In online marketing you can't meet your clients in person like in offline marketing. But, you can deliver what you want if you think of your potential clients in each step you make when building your business. Relationship marketing is a process, not just a one-time commitment. It starts the moment you think about building a business and continue as long as you stay in.

1 - Know your potential customers.

Before you start building your business; you need to determine your targeted market and know your potential customers. Learn how to know your customers to develop effective tactics for delivering your message to them.

You can start getting to know your customers by taking some very simple steps.

- Determine in advance where your potential customers   congregate.   - What newsletter they read?  - What forums they visit and post to?  - What else might do while surfing the net?

The best places where you find your prospects are forums, discussion groups and discussion boards. Visit forums of your targeted market and figure out:

- What's your potential customers' problem?  What they are   looking for?  - What kind of business they are involved in?    - How they want their problem to be solved?  - What words they use?

Only by knowing your customers' wants and needs you can successfully grow your business and be totally customer-oriented. In order to tailor your marketing and advertising strategies to appeal to the tastes and interests of your market, you must first identify your customer.

Relationship is not only based on knowing who your visitors are, but on knowing your customers' and prospects' specific needs.

Note: To attract more subscribers and build a strong relationship marketing the easy way use your prospects words. If you feel their pain and use their words when posting to forums, sending message, etc… they'll be related to you. You will be one of them; you are not a stranger then they will be likely to trust you and consider your recommendation.

2 - Show your expertise.

The majority of business people, never completely and clearly display their knowledge to potential customers. Show to your targeted market you are the leader in your industry and they will follow you.

People like to learn about your experience. They like to follow the expert's steps to avoid mistakes and reach success the easy way with less investment in time and money.

3 - Start a dialog to establish trust.

Set up a continuing dialog to establish trust. Trust is a vital step to building long-time relationship. This dialog should starts as soon as your visitors submit information along with their email addresses. This explains their interest in your business. In return, you give them what promised when they subscribed and keep contacts at periodic intervals by sending quality information to your subscribers.

Your goal is to create long term relationships marketing with your subscribers. To do that you must invest time to gather available sources and high quality information and put it at your prospects' disposal to help them succeed. Remember, maintaining customer enthusiasm and creating customer loyalty is your key to success.

4 - Follow up

Dialog leads to follow-up. Hook your subscribers with your follow up messages series. Set up a series of follow up messages to send quality information to every new subscriber. Professionalism is the key to successful relationship.

The main purpose of follow up is to remain visible to your subscribers so, when the need arise and your prospect wants to make a purchase, your product will be the first one the subscriber thinks of.

If you want to make good money your mission will not cease at selling your product. Going after one sale is worthless. Following up with your customer after the sale is made is a great tactic. This important step will help you strength your relationship, decrease the refund proclamations and keep your customer baying from you again and a gain.

Keep following up; don't stop and be creative. Don't send your customers only sales messages. From time to time send free useful product they don't find elsewhere that can help them make money and/or save time. Send special offers with discount for loyal customers only. Keep them up to date and to the point with latest news, etc…

5 - Offer good customer service.

Some people will start an online business and only focus on what services or products they can sell to make good money. They are not worried about establishing good relationship with their customers and potential clients.

- Answer your prospects' requests as soon as you receive them.

- Replay to every email within 24 hours with the needed response whether it is a question, concern or simply someone looking for more information.

- Treat your customers right. Even if you offer the best products or services, most customers will evaluate your business by how they were treated while doing business with you. For that reason, it's important to take care of your customers and give them the best product or service they want.

By providing great customer service to the people you do business with, you will get customers coming back to you again and again to buy your products or services.

Note: If you want to stay in your customers' minds serve them better. You can do this by collecting information from your customers' feedback. Having a contacts page on your website with a comments or feedback form will keep you informed about your customers' wants and problems. If you publish a newsletter, you can also accomplish this by asking for feedback from your subscribers.

This is a great way of making your audience know you care about what they have to say and how important they are to you. When you show interest in your customers you will build credibility and loyalty.

6 - Educate your subscribers.

Put at your customers disposal manuals, frequently asked question (FAQ) web page, articles, etc… to help them learn how to use your product or service perfectly. Educate your subscribers to help them build interest and loyalty for your business.

Lifetime clients want you to be their trusted advisor. The more you educate your customers by offering them a variety of options, the greater your chance to earn their lifetime business. Education strengthens relationship marketing with clients.

7 - Sell or recommend only quality products.

Sell quality products that have value, plus offer a guarantee and stand behind it. One of the quickest ways to destroy a business relationship is selling poor quality products and not standing behind what you promise.

If you want to promote other marketers' affiliate programs from your website, take the time to investigate the companies you advocate. Promote only products from legitimate companies with solid Internet presence. Remember the companies you suggest will have an impact on your business reputation.

Relationship marketing is the corner stone of every business. If you follow these key principles of relationship marketing, you'll be on your way to building a responsive opt in email list which will lead to more and better sales.

Gley Yahya is the editor of the Email List Builder Newsletter and owner of the Strategic Internet Marketing website. If you want to learn more about creating a Business and growing your opt-in list using simple, proven methods, subscribe now and let Gley show you exactly how you can build a business that attract thousands of targeted visitors and how you can create a responsive list from scratch.

Hospital Call Centers

Writen by Damian Sofsian

In hospital call centers, doctors and other medical staff take calls from patients and assess the harshness of their symptoms and guide them accordingly. Demographic data such as age, gender, height, weight can also be analyzed. Hospital call centers assist to determine the course of medical action, based on the various symptoms. Hospital call centers also give technical and customer support for medical emergencies.

Hospital call centers answer phones, make physician referrals and register callers. People generally want to speak with a live person. Internet is an effective means that avoid dumping of telephone calls. It is less expensive than hiring a live person. Some hospitals have introduced 'live chat' on their websites. Through the Internet, a consumer can talk live with a hospital representative. Sometimes customers can request specific times from hospital representatives for live telephonic conversations. Normally, answering phones is not a business of hospitals. Hospitals can also outsource these services to outside companies. Lots of companies provide call centre facilities to hospitals. They boast an array of trained medical men who specialize in medical services.

Hospital call centers can handle outpatient scheduling and then integrate it with the hospital's in-house database. A hospital call center can also make post-discharge calls to check on patient status, in order to make sure that patients follow post-discharge instructions. Thus, hospital call centers assist in post-therapy and post-surgery services for the hospital.

Most hospital call centers are equipped with scalable, state-of-the-art computer systems, backup power supply and data management/messaging programs specifically designed for the healthcare environment.

Call Centers provides detailed information on Call Centers, Inbound Call Centers, Outsourcing Call Centers, Conference Call Centers and more. Call Centers is affiliated with Call Center CRM Solutions.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Crm Vendors Plows Rapidly Adding Analytical Capabilities

Writen by S. Maurer

One of the keys of CRM success is acting on the understanding that customers plows the intended end-users of CRM systems, not the staff of the organization that is deploying the system.

CRM vendors plows rapidly adding analytical capabilities to their applications, which will better enable their customers to leverage customer it dates that is scattered throughout their networks.

A lot of clients think they can go to a vendor and get CRM. Instead, they get a few components. They buy a suite of front-office applications. But do they have all the channels and the technology, all the functionality and the services to really enable CRM?. It takes multiple technologies and multiple vendors to pull this off.

You need a managerially useful, end-to-end view of the CRM process from a marketing perspective. The basic perspective taken is that of the customer, not the company. In other words, what do managers need to know about their customers and how is that information used to develop a complete CRM perspective?

Many companies invested in CRM solutions based partly on promises of ROI. However, too many plows left wondering what happened to the return that was promised. Fortunately, dates analytics holds promise it goes addressing the problem.

It is difficult to state precisely what CRM Customer Relationship Management means to everyone. Ironically, the term is also applied in those aspects of business that even remotely interacts with a customer. Understanding the concept of CRM will help in decisions relating Customer relationship management product, CRM software and CRM solutions.

Publishing Guidelines: You may publish my article in your newsletter, on your website or in your print publication provided you include the resource box at the end. Notification would be appreciated but is not required.

By S. Maurer

S. Maurer is a 53-years old college graduated IT professional, with 30 years of experience in the computer & technology business. Now is the Correspondence Courses Director of and

Education Is The Star At Starbucks

Writen by Ron Kaufman

I avoided caffeine for many years. But with so many flights and late, late nights, I recently tried 'just a sip'. The next day I dunked a Danish pastry. A few days later I asked for 'half a cup, please'. In very little time, I was enjoying café latte for breakfast!

Much has changed in the world of coffee in the past few years. Waiters used to ask, 'Would you like cream with your coffee? Will that be one sugar or two?' Now baristas enquire 'Cappuccino wet or dry? Solo, doppio, soy, low-fat, not-too-hot, extra-hot, full or half-pump mocha?' The menu can be overwhelming.

Except at Starbucks. Starbucks is an extraordinary example of a company with loyal customers and vigorous global growth. One reason is their devotion to quality service. Another is their fanatical commitment to cultivating customers through attractive and persistent education.

With my latest café latte I took a copy of each brochure sitting on the counter. Here's the rundown of what you can get simply by taking what's freely offered:

1. The Story of Good Coffee – 12 panels detail the growing cycle, roasting, color and freshness of beans. Eight levels of roasting explained with clear graphics and text. It takes 4,000 beans to make one pound of coffee. The coffee bush takes five years before it yields a single crop.

2. The World of Coffee – another 12-panel tutorial on bean varieties around the world, including descriptions of 24 popular beans in four 'coffee categories' for your tasting pleasure. Also a primer on 'The Four Fundamentals of Brewing'. Ninety percent of your tasting ability is based upon your sense of smell. Ten grams of coffee and 180 millilitres of water is the 'classic recipe' for a great cup of coffee.

3. Espresso. What You Need to Know – I didn't know what I didn't know! Eight panels on 'Grind, Dose, Tamp and Rate of Pour' with additional insights and graphics on properly steaming milk. The ideal temperature for steamed milk is 66–76 degrees centigrade. Foamed milk is a few degrees cooler due to 'incorporated air'.

4. Experience the Perfect Cup – an 8-panel treatise with cut-away schematics revealing the ingredients and precise architecture of the five most popular drinks. It includes company history and a sidebar on 'additional choices'.

5. Try One, Try Them All – a 2-panel flyer encouraging you to try Starbucks new iced drinks – three unique blends in eleven different flavors.

6. How Are We Doing? – a 4-panel customer survey form with postage paid to return your comments to the waiting eyes and ears at Starbucks.

Starbucks understands. They are not just selling coffee. They are educating and creating loyal customers, building a long-term clientele, increasing understanding while promoting the industry, the products and the brand. This company knows the power of attraction is not just in the drinks, it's in the experience they create – and the rich, steamy, full-bodied education they provide.

Key Learning Point
Education adds value, and your customers want a full cup.

Action Steps
What lengths do you go to effectively educate your customers and colleagues? Is your effort a watery dose of weak support with lukewarm staff and systems? Or are you serving a hot, fresh brew of potent answers, proactive ideas and positive, powerful insights?

Now take your team to Starbucks. Order a round of delicious drinks and then get to work. Find a way to match Starbucks' blend of attractive and effective education.

Ron Kaufman is an internationally acclaimed educator and motivator for partnerships and quality customer service. He is author of the bestselling "UP Your Service!" and founder of "UP Your Service College". Visit for more such Customer Service articles, subscribe to his Newsletter, or to buy his bestselling Books, Videos, Audio CDs on Customer Service from his secure Online Store. You can also watch Ron live or listen to him at

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Modern Call Center Solutions Keeping In Touch Is The Key

Writen by Trevor Mulholland

Call center solutions solve a range of age-old problems. As far back as ancient times, the success of a business has always depended on how well that business can communicate with clients and meet their needs. It is necessary to be available, in touch, easy to reach, and pleasant to deal with. From the point of view of the customer who needs to purchase a product, or is having trouble with a product or service he has already purchased, help must be readily available. From the point of view of a business competing within a certain market or industry, it is necessary to be recognized, and to constantly maintain or increase one's market share. At the bottom of all these needs is communication, and that is exactly what the call center is there to provide.

This may sound simple, but it isn't. Communication is no longer just a matter of answering the phone. For a start, there are several different modes of communication - phone, fax, email - and clients use them all. In response to this, there are several solutions that make it easier to compile and integrate communication from all these different sources. Computer telephony integration, or CTI, is important to every major call center. This is just one example of a solution that a large call center is able to provide, while smaller, in-house centers may find it harder to keep up to date.

Because of the sheer number of calls and other communication coming into a call center on any given day, it is important that the calls be managed and distributed for maximum efficiency. In and of itself, answering calls in a timely fashion is vital. Being put on hold for lengthy periods of time is a common pet peeve for many customers; in fact, it has been proven that businesses lose clientele because of this. Everybody's time is valuable, and clients resent it when technology appears to make things more difficult rather than easier. Moreover, if a customer calls in order to get a solution to a problem, he or she wants to speak someone qualified to solve that problem - as quickly as possible. Nowadays, various solutions exist that allow calls to be answered quickly and distributed effectively. These include interactive voice responses, which make it easy for a call that is answered automatically to be managed correctly.

Call centers are also a major source of outreach for many organizations, and there are many technological solutions that allow outgoing calls to be made much more efficiently than in the past. With manual dialing or elementary automatic dialing, much of the call center agent's time was wasted. The agent would continually call numbers that were not answered, out of service, or busy; he or she would reach a live voice less than 50% of the time. In fact, in the past, agents would typically spend only twenty minutes of every hour interacting with clients or potential clients. Developing a solution to this problem, and the inefficiency that accompanied it, was paramount - and sure enough, today's predictive dialers allow the agent to spend about fifty minutes of each hour interacting with clients. This is a far more efficient use of time. Predictive dialers transfer the call to an agent only when a live voice responds. They also keep track of which agents are available at a given time, in order to correctly distrubute the calls that come into the call center.

All in all, call centers today are equipped to provide a wide range of effective solutions to age old communication problems, as well as the increasing communication demands of today. There is one possible catch, however - larger call centers are far more able to provide these solutions and services. Smaller centers, or in-house call centers in smaller companies, may not be able to keep up. Keep in mind that it is not only their own client base that they need to 'keep up' with - as the demand for good communication increases, each company is competing with every other company's level of communication, service and self-promotion, as well. For this reason, many companies are turning to larger centers to outsource communicaiton services, knowing that in this way they will be able to access a full range of call center solutions.

Prodialing strives to provide concise information concerning the high tech arena of callcenters, including call center solutions, predictive dialers, IVR and much, much more. See our website at (

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Customer Satisfaction

Writen by Russel Espino

Call center outsourcing is one of the most high-rising industry in our world today. But what really happens in a call center outsourcing center? Primarily, call center outsourcing or contact centers is a service that conduct both inbound and outbound services. They are a function outside of the main company that focus on the services for customers. They can do inbound technical support or customer help or outbound telemarketing services. Some call centers handle several other services. Some do chat services, e-mails, operator services, directory assistance, and many more. So basically when we say "call center" it's almost the same thing as customer assistance. It is all about the CUSTOMERS!

It is a must for call center companies to keep their customers satisfied. When we say customer satisfaction what comes into mind? Usually it is said that it is making sure that the customer is happy. That is so true! Customer satisfaction is Keeping the customer happy and making them enjoy your full services, when I say enjoy I mean that after serving the customer they will want nothing but to come back and avail of your services again. So, what about customer satisfaction when it comes to call centers? Customer satisfaction works hand in hand with quality in service.

To reach the optimum quality in service by a call center a lot of factors are needed to be considered and managed. The process as a whole should be perfectly planned before trying to implement in a call center. The structure of the whole company or project must be considered, meaning that the plan, the structure of personnel, and possible call flow must be thoroughly studied. Another is the technology that is to be used. Much has to be considered as to what softwares and hardwares are needed for the project to run smoothly. Softwares as to the databases for the campaigns is needed and the tools that are needed or will be needed. Things like several programs, specifically softwares that is made especially for the campaign, for some the dialers that is needed, even the operating system to be used must be thought of. For the hardware, internet connection is to be availed and see if it is able to give the quality that you need especially check if it ca carry out voice transfer and if it is clear. Another is the phones to be used in making calls. Voip or voice over internet protocol is the commonly used nowadays. Lastly the computers that is to be used. Its specifications must be able to carry out the needs of the softwares.

Lastly the trainings of the agents that is going to engage in the calls. They should be really trained with regards to the soft-skills and product. Soft-skills means the agents should be well-trained with regards to the proper use of the language that they are to use, the accent of the said language, call handling and lastly, what data is needed to be gathered at the end of the call. On product, they should be properly trained with regards in using the softwares for the project, information regarding the project and the products, if there are, of the project and some basic things in handling some of the common inquiries about the project.

This factors, if completed, will lead to a high rate of customer satisfaction. If all these things are met by the company then you are assured of, not only satisfied, but happy customers. Still customer satisfaction is not perfect, as the saying goes "you can't please everybody". So that basically means that there can never be 100% customer satisfaction. Maybe you can settle with 90% on that!

Russel Espino Business Development Officer Global Sky Incorporated

Monday, May 19, 2008

Love The New Business Secret Weapon

Writen by Wes Hopper

"Any business arrangement that is not profitable to the other person will in the end prove unprofitable for you. The bargain that yields mutual satisfaction is the only one that is apt to be repeated." -- B.C. Forbes, founder of Forbes magazine

For some reason many businesses seem to be designed to leave customers with a bad taste in their mouths. It might be from indifferent service, mediocre merchandise, or from the feeling by the customer that they were in some way short changed on the deal.

Some businesses act this way and then wonder why they don't get referrals. Most businesses that act this way don't even think about referrals; they just worry about getting the next sucker in the door. This qualifies as brain-dead stupidity, since any marketer will tell you that the cost to acquire a new customer is much higher than the cost to get more business from an existing one.

The same holds true in your relationships, by the way. It is easier to develop and maintain a good relationship with your spouse or your kids than it is to win it back (or break in a new one) after you've screwed it up.

In "The Science of Getting Rich" Wallace Wattles introduces the concept of "use value" in our transactions. He says, "Give every person more in use value than you take from them in cash value." What he means by this is that you give more VALUE than they expect, and they feel that they got a great deal. Guess what - there are three recent business books that hit strongly on this theme with an interesting twist. They advocate a different kind of use value - love.

Yup, you heard me right. Love.

"But Wes, " I hear someone whining, "isn't that getting pretty hokey and touchy-feely? I'm running a business, after all." Yes, it's pretty touchy-feely, but as Harv Eker would say, "Do you want to be touchy-feely or do you want to stay broke?"

Let's look at these three books, all by certified business experts. The first to come out was by Yahoo senior executive Tim Sanders with his book, "Love Is The Killer App" in which he said:

"The most powerful force in business isn't greed, fear, or even the raw energy of unbridled competition. The most powerful force in business is love. It's what will help your company grow and become stronger. It's what will propel your career forward. It's what will give you a sense of meaning and satisfaction in your work, which will help you do your best work."

Hmmm - grow our company and our career, give us meaning and satisfaction - maybe there's something to this love stuff.

The next book is "The Radical Leap" by Steve Farber, former VP of the Tom Peters Company, in which he says:

"Love is the ultimate motivation of the Extreme Leader; love of something or someone; love of a cause; love of a principle; love of the people you work with and the customers you serve; love of the future that you and yours can create together; love of the business you conduct together every day. Think about it..........Without the calling and commitment of your heart, there's no good reason for you to take a stand, to take a risk, to do what it takes to change your world for the better."

Ah, so here we see that love isn't something we do for others, it's something that powers us! It's associated with a higher purpose for the business, a sense of mission and desire to make a lasting impact. It makes us passionate about our work.

The third book is "Lovemarks: The Future Beyond Brands" by international advertising company CEO Kevin Roberts, in which he said:

"'s not a touchy-feeling concept: companies that make deep emotional connections with their customers create 'loyalty beyond reason' and have no problems retaining clients over a lifetime....It's the only thing that differentiates companies."

Wow! So here's a way to create massive "use value" for our customers - build deep emotional connections that show we really care about them, and not just their orders. It creates "loyalty beyond reason", Roberts says. Would that be good? The side benefit, if you can call anything this important a side benefit, is that running a company this way inspires and empowers us at a deep level. It changes the office atmosphere, it adds meaning to the work day.

I've never been real big on following popular trends, but this is a trend I can really get enthused about. It starts in us, spreads to our coworkers and then to our customers. When we do this, Wallace Wattles says, "you are adding to the life of the world with every business transaction." And becoming wildly successful in the process.

Yes, that would be good.

Wes Hopper is the founder of Create Success Seminars and an author, trainer and motivational speaker who is dedicated to assisting sales people and business owners in finding their purpose and living their dreams.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Stay Say Pay

Writen by Alan Fairweather

Would you like to have customers that stay with you and don't buy from your competitors? Customers that say nice things about your business to other people; pay you on time and accept the fact that you might be a bit more expensive then other suppliers? Of course you do but how do we perform this miracle? It's dead easy really; you only have to consider two factors: be Reliable and be Likeable.

It almost goes without saying that it's vital to have a reliable product or service. Most businesses spend a great deal of time and money ensuring that their product does what they say it'll do and striving for exceptional customer service.

However, if you do this consistently, don't expect any "brownie points" and it won't ensure stay, say and pay. Providing reliable products and service is vitally important however after a while customers start to take it for granted.

I can remember the days when a motor car was difficult to start on a winters morning. When a telephone engineer took a week to fix your phone and a retail store wouldn't take back an item you'd purchased. Nowadays, cars start first time, engineers come the same day and retail stores give you your money back immediately. We now take this kind of reliability and service for granted.

To give your business the competitive edge and ensure stay, say and pay you, your business and your people need to be likeable. Too many organisations forget that their customers are humans and the thing about humans is - they don't always make decisions logically. Customers are driven by their emotions and they make decisions about organisations based on their interaction with the people in the business. They'll even forgive your mistakes if they like your business.

So what do we need to do to ensure the likeability factor? Run your eye down the following list and see how many you can tick off:

* We always have a genuine smile for every customer.
* We are warm and friendly to all customers.
* We listen carefully and make it obvious that we're listening.
* We use the customer's name and our name appropriately.
* We give the impression that we care and are interested in the customer.
* We empathise with problems and complaints and respond quickly.
* We occasionally do something to pleasantly surprise the customer.
* We always keep our promises.
* We give the impression that we're fun to deal with.
* We treat the customer the way they want to be treated, not the way we want to be treated.

(The * We means everyone in the business be they sales people, delivery drivers, accountants, engineers, managers or directors.)

How well did you do? If you've got lots of ticks then you probably have lots of customers who like you. Just a word to the managers and employers amongst you; run your eyes down the list again and replace the word customer with the words employee or staff colleague.

How many ticks did you get this time? Lots of ticks mean your staff like you and it probably follows that your customers do as well.

Have you noticed how being likeable cost so little? A lot less than advertising or other promotional activity required to replace lost customers.

Working a little bit harder on the emotional connection with your customers will increase your likeability factor and ensure they - stay, say and pay.

Discover how you can generate more business without having to cold call! Alan Fairweather is the author of "How to get More Sales without Selling" This book is packed with practical things that you can do to – get customers to come to you.

Click here now:

Customer Service Speaker Says Quottry Before You Buyquot

Writen by Dr. Gary S. Goodman

After numerous speeches and seminars, I'm asked, how can consumers and businesspeople protect themselves against rip-offs?

There's no foolproof way to assure that you're going to receive quality customer service, to be surprised and delighted, or to have your expectations surpassed.

But one way to avoid scams and to foil the fraudulent is to "Try before you buy."

What, exactly, do I mean?

Make sure, as part of your negotiation, you are able to sample something before completely committing to owning it.

For example, a few years ago troubled car maker Jaguar offered a 30 day, money back guarantee to folks who bought their cars. Because this nameplate had a reputation for bringing heartbreaks to purchasers, the manufacturer felt it had to try this gambit to get people to drive these vehicles from showrooms.

There's no reason you can't personally negotiate the same guarantee from any dealer selling any model at any time. The dealer owns, or is technically financing the car he sells to you, so he can cut nearly any deal he wishes.

If you insist that you want to try before you buy, or more specifically, that you need an "out," if the car fails to meet your requirements, then he can write that into the deal, if he wants your business badly enough.

This also means beware of any situations where you see the sign, "All sales are final."

That's usually a tip-off of a rip-off; that whatever is being sold either falls apart fast or fails to satisfy buyers, so sellers feel they must circumvent buyer's remorse.

Never make a sale final until you're convinced you have done the right thing.

Sometimes this means crafting, or having your attorney draft what is referred to as a "condition precedent" or a "condition subsequent."

In layman's terms these are clauses in contracts that say a deal isn't sealed until something happens first, or it's only a deal if something doesn't happen later.

"I have to keep it 30 days before the sale is final" or "I can return it for a full refund within 30 days if I'm not satisfied" are the kinds of conditions that can be agreed to.

When you have these in effect, you can be assured that you can safely try before you buy!

Dr. Gary S. Goodman, President of, is a popular keynote speaker, management consultant, and seminar leader and the best-selling author of 12 books, including Reach Out & Sell Someone and Monitoring, Measuring & Managing Customer Service, and the audio program, "The Law of Large Numbers: How To Make Success Inevitable," published by Nightingale-Conant. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, worldwide. A Ph.D. from USC's Annenberg School, a Loyola lawyer, and an MBA from the Peter F. Drucker School at Claremont Graduate University, Gary offers programs through UCLA Extension and numerous universities, trade associations, and other organizations from Santa Monica to South Africa. He holds the rank of Shodan, 1st Degree Black Belt in Kenpo Karate. He is headquartered in Glendale, California, and he can be reached at (818) 243-7338 or at: For information about coaching, consulting, training, books, videos and audios, please go to

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Customers Always Right The Grand Illusion

Writen by Jay Bartels

I have to tell you I was dumb founded by what I was hearing from the Cingular "Customer Service?" Rep. Wasn't this the same company that spent millions of dollars with their ad campaigns, telephone solicitations, and those cozy family plan commercials offering free phones and wonderful plans with their smiley employees, so friendly, with their "we'll take care of you" promises? How comforting it was to know that there is still a company out there with the lost philosophy of "the customers always right". What a relief.

Let me fill you in on my latest conversations with the good people at Cingular's customer dis-service department. I have 5 phones from cingular and in all we have about 12 in my family. We liked the idea that we can have unlimited calls to others with the same service, and indeed we do. That's about the last positive thing I can say about our mobile phone service.

My final fiasco began when I lost my main phone some weeks back. This number was on all my business cards, car magnet, internet sites, and in countless advertisements in print and online. So needless to say, I needed to keep this number.

My first call to Cingular was to report the phone lost. which I did that same night. My first question to customer service was "How can I keep this number, yet block any out-going calls at the same time should the phone end up in the wrong hands?

Here are the options that my phone company gave me:

1) We can turn that phone off and you can purchase a new one. (Okay, that sounds fair, after all they practically give these phones away, so how much could another phone possibly cost.)

"Well sir, to replace the phone you lost will cost you $249.00". "I don't understand", I replied quite puzzled. "I only paid $50 for that phone when I bought it, plus I received a $50 rebate, so I paid nothing for it"

"Well sir, that price is only available when you sign a 2 year contract, unfortunately you don't qualify for an upgrade for another 5 weeks when your existing contracts expires on that particular phone" Okay, do you see where this is going?

So I'm forced to bring out the heavy ammo. I have no alternative at this point but to threaten to cancel all my accounts and I let them know I'm taking my entire Network of friends and family members with me. I hate to do it , but these people have to realize how serious I am in order for them to fully understand the ramifications they are facing by jeopardizing their chances of losing this large account that they spent so much time and money on to make sure we didn't fall into the hands of any of their many competitors. Basically they said, "See yuh!"

Now I'm stuck like chuck and end up buying the cheapest phone they have and now the old number is forwarded from the lost phone I can no longer use, (yet I'm still paying for) to the new phone I was forced to purchase because I still have 6 weeks left on my contract. Are you following me so far? Now pay close attention, because this is the proverbial "icing on the cake".

My phone bill arrives and I'm being billed over $500. Surely there must be a mistake and I know with just one quick phone call to my friends at customer service this will all be corrected and the charges will naturally be removed due to some understandable mistake on their part. It was then explained to me why my bill was so unusually high. You see, it seems I had made several calls out of the country from the phone I reported lost and no longer had in my possession. Yes, after having this account for 3 years it seems I was now making calls to Haiti and points beyond. Good thing for me I had reported the phone lost and Cingular put a calling restriction on the phone in case it turned up one day. Could you imagine if I was the one they were going to hold responsible for all those calls? I knew their fraud department would pursue this and maybe even recover my phone. "Excuse me, what did you just say?" I asked the fine folks at the phone company. "You want "ME" to pay for the calls to Haiti, are you serious?" Oh yes, they were very serious. They are demanding, yes demanding, as in threatening to cut off my service if I don't pay the bill from the phone that I reported had been lost over a month ago.

Are you kidding me? Try talking to a supervisor; see how far that gets you. First they try to keep you on hold long enough to get you to hang up. Tactic 2 (unofficially there are rumored to be 113 stall and distraction techniques, but this is only a myth and the exact figures are top secret and perhaps we'll never know. This is Cingulars version of the "Grassy Knoll" and to speak of it may be endangering my next phone bill at this very moment.)

Do you get the big picture? This is big business's version of "You can't fight city hall". The sad truth is the customer is not always right any more; in fact we're almost never right, because they have an excuse for everything. They have it right there in front of them in the form of cheat sheets. You say this, they say that. They don't care about giving the individual "Customer Service". They target millions of people all in the same fish bowl. If you or I have a problem they really aren't concerned about losing our $50 or $150 dollars a month, they have trained people to deal with dis-satisfied customers and they call those specialists "Customer Service Reps", which translated means "see you, wouldn't wanna be you". Face it folks, you can't win, the best you can do is think you won, and go away happy. And that is where Customer Service Reps excel.

If you enjoyed this article, please visit Jay's Family sites at Jays Plan - Secrets of a Single Dad and Family Health With Mister Mom

Jay Bartels is the author of many human interest stories. Jay's own story of hope and inspiration can be found on his highly resourcefull family sites. Jay is a single father raising two young girls and shares his experiences in several journals that can be found on his web sites.

Friday, May 16, 2008

11 Things Small Business Owners Can Do To Recover From Customer Service Issues

Writen by David Handler

1. Be Swift – When someone has an issue with your company, address it quickly. Promptness goes a long way in letting customers know you truly care about their business.

2. Go Deep – Don't just give someone's complaint surface treatment. Seek to find the root of the problem, and after correcting it, redirect your employees to keep it from occurring again.

3. Listen – Many times clients don't want anything fixed; they just want to tell you what happened. Let them talk and express their feelings, and they'll leave more content.

4. Seek First To Understand – This is Covey's 5th Habit: "Diagnose before you prescribe." Let your customer share her side of the story before asking what you can do to fix the situation.

5. Send A Note – In this age of e-mail and IM, few take the time to send hand-written notes. Investing two minutes and 39-cents after you resolve an issue will make a lasting impression.

6. Never Make Excuses – The last thing a client wants to hear is why it happened. He only cares about what you're going to do. Keep this in mind, and choose your responses carefully.

7. Be Fair – Resolving complaints is a key part of owning your own small business. When you consider how hard it is to get new customers, it makes sense to seek equitable resolutions.

8. Think Long-Term – Remember, the objective is for clients to continue doing business with you. Use their complaints as an opportunity to "Wow!" them with your unexpected response.

9. Apologize – Sometimes all a customer wants is to hear you say "I'm sorry." Start the conversation with "First, I apologize for anything we did," and you'll diffuse a lot of his anger.

10. Ask – After allowing customers to voice their displeasure, ask what they would like you to do. They may not want much, and for minimal reparations you can save the relationship.

11. Do It Yourself – Clients never want to be contacted by someone without power to resolve situations. Don't dodge discomfort. Step up to the plate and handle complaints yourself.

The Coach, David Handler, is the founder of Success Handler, (, and specializes in helping small business leaders find clarity and take action. He understands the challenges of running a business, because he's been there – as a small business owner, franchisee, franchisor, corporate leader and trainer. Much like sports coaches, his coaching will show you how to compete on a level playing field in your industry.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Business Opportunities Are We Giving The Business Away

Writen by Susan Bagyura

How often we are reading or hearing about jobs and industries being lost in the West and moving East? People, particularly the business and political leaders, are all complaining about it but does anyone look at why it is happening. It goes right across the board, starting with manufacturing, IT call support centers, banking support centers, and so much more. When one first looks at this, it appears that the West is losing these business opportunities but perhaps the truth is not in the appearance.

An example which I believe is a microcosm of what actually is happening is taken from a client experience. One of my clients has developed a children's drink. Within the prototype phase, we were able to have samples manufactured and bottled on the Continent. Our testing showed that there appears to be a market, but based on a variety of other factors, a decision was made to change the packaging and the form of the drink. These changes necessitated finding and working with other packaging companies.

During this process, we learned that many of the companies do not even respond to requests for any assistance at all. Numerous requests and even attempts to elevate the questions to people higher within these large organizations fail to bring forth any response. These are the same organizations that are moaning to the press and anyone else that will listen that they are losing market share, losing jobs and need to have tariffs or other penalties lodged again the businesses coming from the emerging markets.

It begs the question of what is driving the change. Is it that people are forever seeking the cheapest price and willing to go to the other side of the world to get it? Or is it that the companies located nearby are so confident that people will accept any type of service they choose to give that they falsely think they do not have to provide service at all? Looking at these questions in more detail, it seems a reasonable assumption that most people, including people within organizations, would prefer to do business with someone that they can see, meet with and feel a connection to physically – not just over the Internet or a telephone. This is a natural order for us and our approach to our world.

So when people and companies are looking to other countries, cultures and places to do business where it is difficult, if not possible, to verify that it really is a business and that the promised products and services will be delivered, where there are language barriers – is that the choice because they think it will be better or because these are the people that are responsive to their questions and requests?

Company leaders should take a good and honest look at their organizations and answer the question: are we losing the business to the East or are we giving them the business?

Copyright, October 2006, Susan Bagyura, Blue Danube Coaching Limited

Susan Bagyura, a LifeSuccess Consultant, with more than 25 years of highly successful sales and entrepreneurial experience, works with clients to attract, motivate and develop their employees, starting with the leadership and going throughout the organization. Visit

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

How To Beat Automated Phone Systems

Writen by Steve Kaye

Many companies save money at the expense of the consumer. For example, when you phone a business, most likely you'll encounter an automated answering system. Some of these systems cause you to waste time in a labyrinth of menus or they insult you by asking you to converse with a robot.

Here's how to protect your time and reach a person.

1) Work on other tasks. While on hold, read magazines, balance your checkbook, file papers, write a complaint, or search the web for other companies. Purchase a hands-free headset so you can work with both hands.

2) Keep calm. After spending hours pressing buttons, repeating answers to a robot's questions, and being disconnected, you will feel mad enough to yell at the person who (finally) answers. Instead, talk about the issue that you called about.

3) Try other paths. Respond to system queries by pressing O, OO, O#, or O*. Or, call back and do not press any buttons. The system may assume that you called from a rotary phone and transfer you to an operator. Call other extensions until you reach someone and then ask to be transferred. Be creative. For example, I was able to reach a person at a major phone company (let's call them AZ&Z) by calling the telephone operator and asking to speak with someone in customer service. (That is, I pressed O instead of dialing the direct number.)

4) Complain. Mail the letter that you composed while on hold. Calmly and briefly describe your experience to the customer service representative. (e.g., "I just waited on hold for two hours and was disconnected three times.") Or be creative. I mailed AZ&Z a bill for the three hours that I spent trying to talk with someone about an error in my bill.

5) Support good companies. Reward courteous service with your business. For example, I switched from AZ&Z to another long distance phone carrier.

Final thought: If your business uses an automated system to answer the phone, make sure that it facilitates the communication necessary to make your business profitable.

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Steve Kaye helps leaders hold effective meetings. He is an IAF Certified Professional Facilitator, author, and speaker. His meeting facilitation and leadership workshops create success for everyone. Call 714-528-1300 for details. Visit for a free report.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

How To Handle Customer Billing Snafus

Writen by Tim Knox

Q: I just discovered that for the past six months I have been billing a client half of what I should have been. Should I just include the total of the past due balance on his next bill or contact him first to let him know that it's coming? This client has been difficult in the past, so I'd rather not deal with him until I absolutely have to. My partner, on the other hand, thinks we should call the client and let him know what's going on before sending the bill. What do you think? -- Louis K.

A: I think your partner is right. If you think this client has been difficult to deal with in the past just wait until he opens your bill with six months worth of arrears attached to it without prior notice or a full explanation of the amount owed.

Sending such a bill is like dropping a bomb on the client's desk, and I guarantee you the fallout from the resulting explosion would end up landing squarely on your head.

So the question then becomes, how do you collect money that is rightfully owed to you from a client who has a history of being difficult? That's easy, Louis. You make your partner call him.

Seriously, whether the client owes you the money or not is a moot point. Yes, you made an accounting mistake, but if the client agreed to pay you a certain amount each month in exchange for certain services rendered, and you have been under-billing that client for delivering those certain services, the client owes you the money, period.

I have found that in situations like this it is always best to be proactive and face the problem (or what you perceive as a potential problem) as quickly as possible. This will save you hours of needless worry since most of the time the problem is not as big a deal as you imagined it to be.

There can only be three outcomes in this situation.

(1) The client will understand and pay you without argument.

(2) He will argue the point, forcing you to offer a compromise plan.

Or (3) He will flatly refuse to pay, forcing you to decide how far you're willing to go to collect what is owed. You should be prepared for either occurrence before getting face-to-face with the client. Remember this: In a business negotiation, he who is prepared the least gives up the most.

With that in mind, here's how I would handle the situation.

Arrange to meet the client in person. This is much better than trying to explain the situation over the phone because most people (including myself) tend to only give half of their attention when on the phone. The other half is usually focused on things going on around them while they're on the phone.

Once you're in front of the client, downplay the fact that an error was made (since the error did not negatively affect the service the client received). You might even poke fun at yourself over the situation (if the client has a sense of humor, that is). You should then politely ask if he would prefer to have the unbilled balance included on his next invoice or submitted as a separate invoice.

Then close your mouth, smile, and wait for him to respond.

You'll notice that you did not give him the option of not paying the bill, nor did you give him a point of contention to argue over. He should get the message that it goes without saying that he owes the money and needs to pay the bill, but being the wonderful person that you are, you are willing to let him decide how you should be paid.

I'm willing to bet that the client will choose option A or B and that will be the end of that. If this client has been difficult to deal with in the past, he may argue that since the mistake was yours, he shouldn't have to pay the bill. This is, of course, a BS argument (and I don't mean Bachelor of Science), but one that some clients might make just to get out of writing you a check.

As mentioned earlier, you should have prepared for this possibility before going in. If your business can survive without collecting the unpaid balance and you really want to maintain a relationship with this client, you should be prepared to offer a compromise that lets the relationship continue.

Without appearing to be caving under the pressure (this is the hard part) look the client dead in the eye and say, "Mr. Client, since I value your business and the billing mistakes were indeed mine, I'm willing to forego collection on the unpaid balance and start billing the correct amount with your next invoice, which, by the way, I happen to have right here…"

Granted, in this situation you are not going to collect on the past balance, but you are establishing the rules of the game for the future and you might even improve your relationship with this client. The money you forfeit today could lead to an increase in referrals, testimonials, and repeat business tomorrow.

Here's to your success.

Tim Knox

Small Business Q&A is written by veteran entrepreneur and syndicated columnist, Tim Knox. Tim serves as the president and CEO of three successful technology companies and is the founder of, an online organization dedicated to the success of online and eBay entrepreneurs.

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