Thursday, July 31, 2008

How Would You Handle This Customer Service Issue

Writen by Kevin Toney

I was reading in the Winnipeg Free Press (my local paper) about a woman who was a passenger in a Unicity taxi cab. The woman had pre-paid her fare to the tune of $25.00. Nine dollars into the cab ride, the cab got into an accident.

The woman was injured and unable to complete her trip. She asked for a refund of at least $16.00. The balance left on her pre-payment.

You would think the cab company would bend over backwards to accommodate the woman, but no; they refused to give her a refund. This kind of customer service attitude is REALLY DUMB on the part of Unicity and it's bad for business. Their refusal will cost them a lot more than $16.00.

First the story made the Free Press so thousands of people are going to read about the incident and Unicity Taxi will get a lot of bad publicity and lose business.

Secondly I'm writing about it to the 1500 subscribers to my Newsletters. And I'm going to post it at my web site. More bad publicity and some people will definitely talk about it to friends, family members and co-workers.

All this bad publicity and lost business to save $16.00. Talk about short sightedness. This reminds me of one of my grandmother's favourite saying "don't be penny wise and a pound foolish".

This kind of customer service attitude is a result of management not looking at the "life-time value" of their customers. If Unicity did the math they would clearly see the error of their ways.

If that passenger uses Unicity 5 times a year for an average fare of $25.00, that's $125.00 a year. She uses them for the next 5 years, that's $625.00. Now I'm betting that the injured woman will never use Unicity again. So to save $16.00, Unicity has given away the opportunity to get $625.00 worth of business from her.

Now you tell me, is that a smart way to operate a business? I say absolutely not. How would your company deal with a situation similar to this? Email me your opinions.

Author: Kevin Toney is "The Marketing Coach". Kevin coaches small businesses on how to increase their sales by attracting more clients/customers, increasing their repeat business and generating more referrals. Call 204-783-6342 for a Free over the phone Coaching Session where you can get solutions to your marketing challenges and issues. Go to his web site to subscribe to his Free Marketing Newsletter and you will receive free monthly marketing tips and advice.


Call: 204-783-6342

The Abc Of Superior Customer Service

Writen by Eric Garner

If you want your front-line staff to remember the essentials of customer care, there's no better way to teach them than with the ABC of Superior Customer Service.

A is for Attention to Detail. Because when customers know you care passionately about the little things, they'll know you care a great deal more about the big things.

B is for Benefits which is all your customer wants you to tell them.

C is for Complaints, your free marketing service.

D is for Dedicated staff, because when the team is fully engaged, customer loyalty goes up by two-thirds.

E is for Empowerment which means trusting and training your staff to do whatever it takes to thrill the customer.

F is for Feelings. As the Scottish Life advert says: "Make each customer feel like you've held the door open whilst laying your jacket across a puddle and then rescued their kitten from a tree."

G is for Going Out Of Your Way, just like the engineer who took a 50-mile detour on his way home from work just to deliver a phone to a customer who had been waiting all day for it.

H is for Hi-Tech, Hi-Touch, because when things get complicated, that's when people want the personal touch.

I is for Ichiban, the Japanese word for "wanting to be the best".

J is for the customer Journey, which you must know every inch of.

K is for Kaizen, another Japanese word which means "continuous improvement".

L is for Loyalty, which you buy by engaging their minds and piercing their hearts.

M is for Moments of Truth, those hundreds of opportunities every day to turn their heads.

N is for Now For Something Extra, that ends every customer interaction on a high.

O is for Observing your customers' needs before they know them themselves.

P is for the Pride that staff feel when they know they're in a valued profession.

Q is for Quality: of product, of service, of manners, of courteousness.

R is for the golden Rule: the customer is always right, even when they're wrong.

S is for Sincere Smiles, that aren't false but melt the coldest hearts.

T is for Tact, the one thing your customers will notice but you must pretend not to.

U is for Underpromise and Overdeliver, the simplest way to make someone's day.

V is for adding Value because there's nothing so precious as your time, your care and your attention.

W is for the Wow Factor, when you stop them in their tracks.

X is for Xtraordinary service that is out of this world.

Y is for Your Mum Was Right, because it's all about respect.

Z is for a good night's Zzzzz's after a great day's work.

Practise these attitudes and skills, and you'll love your job and your customers will love you.

© 2005, Eric Garner,

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A New Way To Handle Complaints Or Is It

Writen by Peter Hunter

What a lot of money we have been wasting on dealing with customer complaints.

Instead of dealing with them and attempting to satisfy the customer we should create a process that makes complaining so difficult then when customers complain they get such a huge negative experience and never receive any satisfaction.

They will think very hard before they complain again.

This approach is working already.

Fifteen Years ago I moved up to the West Coast of Scotland. After three years of the Highlands I decided to make it my permanent home and settled down to live in the most beautiful imaginable spot on the shores of Loch Long.

In the mornings I would lie in bed and listen to the radio, gently smiling at the all the roads in England that were listed almost daily as the announcer plunged again and again through the litany of names that spelled delays and frustration for millions of trapped motorists.

I had lived in Surrey and then Bedfordshire and one of the principal reasons for getting away was to avoid the frustrations caused by the movement of large numbers of people that were a permanent feature of living in this overcrowded corner of England.

I felt quite smug to have got away but last year cruel circumstance forced me back to within commuting distance of London.

The first thing I decided was that any trips to London would be on the train. I had spent too long laughing at the travel news to believe that it would ever be possible to penetrate inside the M25 in a car.

On my first trip to London I got a lift to the station. It was only fifteen minutes, then I stood on the platform waiting for the train. There was a train due every fifteen minutes and after about ten minutes one arrived.

Travel time was to be an hour so I sat down to read some proofs. As the train got closer to London it filled up until the announcer declared that the train was full and would not now stop until it arrived in London. I have since discovered that this is the normal routine but at the time was heartened to hear what I thought was a sensible decision being taken. The train was full but not uncomfortable in the same way that a full tube train is.

After a further ten minutes the announcer came on again to tell us that the train was broken and that instead of delivering us to our station of choice in London, it would now drop us on the outskirts from whence we would have to make our own way to town on the tube.

It took me a while, and a conversation with the man next to me, to decipher what the change meant to me in terms of connections etc but having left an optimistic 45 minute buffer for my speaking engagement I worked out that I could cope with the extra delay.

Having settled my own mind I started to look at my fellow passengers and realised that when the announcement had been made there had been absolutely no reaction from the rest of the passengers. There was no hint of outrage, no gasp of resignation and no casting heavenwards of the eyes of despair.

No reaction at all !

I began to ask why that was.

Did the train break down every day?

That could explain the lack of reaction but it hardly seemed credible. There had to be an expectation of some sort that caused this complete lack of response, and I thought that I could see what it was.

When we are given a stimulus we respond to it.

We are drawn towards warmth as we also avoid heat and cold.

Pavlov created an expectation of hunger in his dogs with the bell such that they salivated even when no food was present.

The lack of response that I saw on the train told me that the passenger's expectation was that they were absolutely powerless to do anything about their situation and therefore there was no point wasting any energy on being indignant or concerned.

When the train stopped everybody got off and I followed as we descended into the tube station to continue our journey into London.

It was on the tube train that it suddenly occurred to me what a lot of money we have been wasting on dealing with customer complaints. If instead of dealing with them and attempting to satisfy the customer we instead create a process that makes complaining so difficult then when customers complain they get a huge negative experience and never receive any satisfaction, they will think very hard before they complain again.

Before long the expectation of the customers is that there is nothing to be gained by complaining and the whole of the resource that was dedicated to dealing with complaints can be reallocated to other more needy areas of the organisation. The provision of nursery care for the children of employees and assisted study programs to retrain the personnel who used to work in the complaints department.

There would be a small staff kept on to deal with the complaints about why there was no complaints department but, using the same strategy, that too could be phased out in time.

The one requirement for the organisation considering this strategy would be a captive market.

So long as the customer did not have a choice I felt that I was on to a winner.

The more I thought about it the more I realised that all of the organisations for whom the prerequisite of a captive market already existed had been running the same system for years.

That is why the passengers on the train failed to react.

These same people will still react when their cheap no frills flight fails to turn up but that is simply because these airlines are relatively new and the expectation that complaining is pointless has not yet been made.

These airlines are working hard at their complaints procedure, if complaints are still being received they have clearly still got some way to go.

Give them time.

Peter Hunter's career started on a nautical theme. After leaving school he spent six years as a navigating officer in the Merchant Navy working within a strict hierarchy. It was not until he joined the Royal Navy in 1988 that he began to realize how valuable people really were when they were allowed to be.

Peter studied for his master's degree at Cranfield Institute of Technology before going to Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth as an Instructor Officer in the Royal Navy. He rose to become Head of Department at the RN Strategic Systems School, Faslane where he further developed the concept that "management is a two way thing".

After 8 years with other consultancies Peter formed his own company on the West Coast of Scotland. Hunter Business Consultancy associates are now based all over the United Kingdom and are expanding into Europe.

Peter is the Author of the book "Breaking the Mould" -

and at

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Say It With Humor

Writen by Luana Emmons

When you own a business, you may find yourself in situations that may be a little tricky to handle. Dealing with customers who steal is one of them.

A few years back we were faced with the problem of how to handle our free water cups. It seems some of our customers were filling them with the fountain drinks instead of water. This was, of course, was theft - pure and simple, but we felt confronting the guilty customers would create a bad atmosphere in our restaurant and we wanted to change their behavior and keep them loyal.

As we were mulling over how to handle this, one of the young men on our staff decided to take things into his own hands. While he was making his rounds, checking the dining area, he came across one of our chronic offenders. He walked over to his table and looked at his drink in the free water cup and said, "There is something wrong with your water, it's a mess!" He then picked up the water cup and said with a smile, "Let me get you some fresh water."

Well, the chronic offender knew we were on to him, along with some of the other onlookers and that problem was no more. We all had a good laugh and it made a lasting impression on me.

Recently, we were visiting our daughter and her husband in Maryland and they took us to the "California Tortilla." We ordered our food and moved down the line and when we got to the beverage counter we noticed two pictures. One of the pictures was titled; "Good Bob" and it showed "Good Bob" holding a water cup and under the picture was the caption, "Good Bob only puts water in his water cup." The other picture was titled "Bad Bob" and it showed "Bad Bob" holding a water cup. Under the picture was the caption, "Bad Bob puts fountain drinks in his water cup." We thought this was a great and ingenious way to handle this problem and we noticed it brought chuckles and smiles to the other customers as well.

About The Author

Luana Emmons,;

Monday, July 28, 2008

Top Customer Service Speaker Says Forget About Service Focus On Satisfaction

Writen by Dr. Gary S. Goodman

"I really LOVE my customers," I heard one agent gush.

"My customers ADORE me!" another one boasted.

"I always try to do something EXTRA," confides a third.

Ask most customer service managers what they would think about these three reps and they'd probably beam with pride and be elated.

Each rep sounds as if she is reaching for the stars, never satisfied, and always achieving.

I hate to bear bad news, but they're all off the mark.

Customer SERVICE is about what WE do, the techniques we use, and the feelings we have.

But customer SATISFACTION is about something entirely different.

Satisfaction is about the RESULTS we produce for customers, and it's the single most important thing we need to focus on arousing, time and again.

But, you might wonder, if I'm enthusiastic and fully committed to delivering the best service in the world, my customers will just have to appreciate me and my company, right?


Peter F. Drucker, one of my revered professors, an international giant in the field of management, and a consultant to several nations, including Japan and Brazil, wrote a seminal book, called MANAGING FOR RESULTS.

Please study those three words very carefully.

Drucker's view is that there is far too much attention paid to the mechanics of business, to the actions we take, to our internal processes of developing and delivering and servicing products, and not enough attention paid to what customers truly value.

What we like and what we value has to come second, Drucker maintains.

The customer is the alpha and omega of our business lives, and for all of our protean efforts, if the customer doesn't think they matter, they don't matter.

Drucker has a wonderful way of cutting through the fluff and our self-delusions, especially in customer service.

He asks two basic questions that are remarkable and worth contemplating:

(1) What is "service," defined from the customer's viewpoint?

(2) If you were to un-bundle what you're calling "service," and charge separately for it, would customers gladly and willingly pay the price, or say, "No, thank-you"?

Drucker is really asking, "What satisfies customers?" Once we know the right answer, we should do ONLY that, and nothing else. We're being paid only to create satisfactions and customer value.

Moreover, if the answer to the second question is that customer would NOT pay value for you are currently calling "service," then start focusing on satisfaction, instead.

Whatever you do, don't mosey along the same path you've been using.

"Service" is a dead end.

"Satisfaction" is what brings them back, makes them sing our praises, and rings the cash register down the road ahead.

Best-selling author of 12 books and more than 850 articles, Dr. Gary S. Goodman is considered "The Gold Standard"--the foremost expert in sales development, customer service, and telephone effectiveness. Top-rated as a speaker, seminar leader, and consultant, his clients extend across the globe and the organizational spectrum, from the Fortune 1000 to small businesses. He can be reached at:

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Is It Time To Start Paying Commissions To Customer Service Reps

Writen by Tino Buntic

You pay commission for each closed sales to your sales reps. You don't pay any commission to your customer service reps. Perhaps you should. Perhaps it's time to start paying commissions to your customer service reps. Here's why.

You know that you need to compensate your top sales performers well. Commission is a big part of their remuneration package. Top sales performers will move on and work elsewhere if they are not competitively compensated for the revenue that they generate for your organization.

But, studies have shown that it costs less to keep a current customer than it does to convert a new one. Top customer service reps know how to keep current customers, keep them happy, and keep them buying from your organization.

With that in mind, ask yourself the following question: Could your firm afford to lose its top customer service reps? I think not.

When a customer service rep saves an unhappy customer from canceling an account, it saves a sales rep from having to sell a new account. When a customer service rep cross-sells an existing client it saves a sales rep from having to sell a new client. When a customer service rep renews an order, it saves a sales rep from having to generate a new order.

As you see, a customer service rep can generate revenue from existing clients and a top-performing customer service rep can generate just as much revenue for your firm that a sales rep can.

So, should you pay commissions to your customer service reps? If you can't afford to lose them to a firm that would, then you need to start paying commissions to your customer service reps. It really is that simple.

Tino Buntic created TradePals to provide free sales leads and free advertising to business professionals, entrepreneurs, salespeople, and freelancers across The United States & Canada. Tino is also an avid blog reader. One of his favorite blogs on the topic of customer service is Kevin Eikenberry's blog. Kevin Eickenberry's firm provides training, performance support development, performance coaching, and organizational development consulting.

Understanding Clients Or Customersfool Proof Secrets

Writen by Dorothy M. Neddermeyer, PhD

If you could buy fool proof secrets that would bring more clients or customers to need your product or service, would you buy them? Pause a moment and then give your answer.

If you know the secret, it is not surprising, the majority will answer, "Maybe." The reason the answer is "maybe" is because few people buy what they need. Yes, of course, everyone buys necessities such as: food, but does everyone buy the healthiest food--if we did, many fast food restaurants would be out of business.

The secrets are simple, albeit secrets most people seldom think about or understand. However, if you know and understand them, you will surely change your rate of business success with little effort. Now are you willing to change your answer to, "Yes, tell me more?" Even if you didn't answer 'Yes' or aren't willing to change your answer to "Yes." I invite you to read this.

The first secret: "Success and failure are the same. What? Yes, Success and failure are the same. Remember success isn't a one step process. Success is a series of completed tasks that have an end result. The completion of one task may lead you toward your goal. The next completed task might not. That is when many people say, "Failure," and stop dead in their tracks.

The success or failure of your goals—endeavors—is accepting this little known secret. Now that you accept this secret you can change the outcome. If a completed task doesn't lead you to your goal you need to determine what actions will and then execute that action(s).

The second secret: Understand your clients or customers wants. The bottom line is give your clients or customers what they want; not what they need.

For example, let's look at multi-millionaires. They love to make money. They have more money than they could ever possibly spend in their lifetime. They don't need more money, but they want more money. If you position your product or service to meet their wants, you will have a new client/customer.

If your service is related to holistic health care, how can you present your service to meeting a multi-millionaires wants?

For example: You are a Health Care Provider, who specializes in Stress Reduction. You could show him/her all the data on stress related illnesses for people in their age range, relevant data that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt she/he needs to reduce stress, it won't matter one iota. Why? It isn't what she/he wants.

However, if you present data on how stress affects the ability to be productive, think clearly, how she/he can maximize on making more money with less effort, you will have an interested person.

The bottom line: People don't necessarily buy what they need. They will buy the things they want before they will buy what they need. This fact applies to all walks of life—millionaire to pauper.

Next time a person approaches you to sell you something, they are convinced you need—observe how you react. Also, observe how you react when the person discovers what you want and includes what you want in the equation. Using the example of multi-millionaires, the key is showing them ways your product or service will help them make more money with less effort.

Dorothy M. Neddermeyer, PhD, Life Coach, Author, International Speaker, and Inspirational leader empowers people to view life's challenges as an opportunity for Personal/Professional Growth and Spiritual Awakening.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Isnt That What Customer Service Is All About

Writen by Mike Moore

Last week I went to a local pharmacy to have a prescription filled. As I approached the prescription counter I noticed a sign beside the cash register that said, " Let's Talk." Considering it an invitation I said in a friendly, cheery voice, " OK let's talk." and proceeded to say " How are you today?" The woman waiting on me was not amused. She looked at me in frigid, non-responsive silence and finally said cooly, " Can I help you?"

It didn't take a degree in nuclear physics to figure out that she was totally ignoring my humble attempt to be friendly so I too immediately responded to her icy tone with one of my own. I gave her the information regarding my prescription and was told curtly that I was at the wrong counter. I was at the "PRESCRIPTION OUT" counter when I should be at the

" PRESCRIPTION IN " counter. How silly of me to make such a mistake. Maybe that's why she was so unfriendly to me. I had committed a huge unforgivable sin in Pharmacy Land.

As I approached the proper counter I once again saw the sign, " Let's Talk." and decided to give the place a second chance. I looked at the lady waiting on me and said once again in an upbeat and friendly tone, " The other woman who waited on me wasn't really in the mood to talk so I came down here. So "Let's talk."

Again stone cold, icy silence followed by " Can I help you?" If you can't beat them, join them so I too became cool, abrupt, assertive and said, " Mike Moore/ Doctor Quinn/ asthma medication/ repeat required please. She checked the computer and found that I did have 4 repeats left. I told her that I would be in at 10:00 a.m. the next day to pick it up and I left. I know I shouldn't have responded in kind but I was ticked off at the way a paying customer was being treated.

I wanted to hand the woman my card and tell her that I spoke to companies and organizations on customer relations and would be more that happy to conduct a seminar for their employees on the topic. But I didn't.

I'm not saying that dealing with the public is easy. It isn't. In fact it can be very stressful but you can neutralize the stress with a simple smile and a bit of humor. All these people needed to do when I responded to their invitation to talk was smile and say in a friendly tone, "OK. Let's talk. What can I do for you?"

Simple, easy, effective and it leaves your customer wanting to return to do business with you. Isn't that what customer service is all about?

Mike Moore is a speaker/humorist who speaks on " Humor and Stress" Humor in the Workplace" and "Customer Relations"

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Unbeatable Laws Of Customer Service

Writen by Eric Garner

If you want to be number one in customer service, you have to do a number of things that make you stand out from the crowd. Here are 7 ways that will put you on top.

1. Roll Out The Red Carpet For Everyone. If there's one thing people hate about poor service, it's getting treated differently from others. It makes them feel inferior and second-class. Gary Richter says you should roll out the red carpet for everyone, but particularly those who don't expect it. "I tell my employees, if we roll out the red carpet for a billionaire, they won't even notice. If we roll it out for millionaires, they expect it. If we roll it out for thousandaires, they appreciate it. And, if we roll out the red carpet for hundredaires, they'll tell everyone they know."

2. Take Time To Know Your Customers. The fast pace of modern living together with advances in technology have together put a non-human face on much of our customer service. If you can find a way to re-connect with your customers one-on-one, you'll strike a chord with your customers that will be like a streak of gold. Kathy Burns remembers a time when people took time to care and listen. "Some of you may remember, and others may have heard stories about, a time in life when the doctor would come to your home to check on you if you were ill. Or maybe you've heard about going down to your local pharmacy and having the owner greet you by name and ask how you're doing. Not only did they ask, but they really wanted to know the answer and they took the time to listen to what you had to say. That's customer service – taking the time to know your customers, really caring about how they feel, and wanting to go the extra mile to make sure they're happy."

3. Be Easy To Do Business With. One of the problems with modern businesses is that the systems we use to save time and money are often devised for the company's benefit and not the customers. As a result, the customer experience is frustrating and difficult. Tracey Lowrance says this needs to be reversed. "Customers expect single source service. Customers don't want to be transferred to every unit of your business to have their problems solved. They want to be able to do business with you with the slightest amount of discomfort. You must be easy to do business with."

4. Go Out Of Your Way To Make Sure They're Happy. One of the most important things your customers want from you is a guarantee that your product or service will work. So move heaven and earth to make sure it does. Bob Leduc suggests you shouldn't make people pay until they are fully happy. "Instead of offering a money back guarantee, a service business can provide a guarantee to solve the customer's problem. For example, a plumber can guarantee to come back without charge as often as necessary to stop the leak. A landscaper can replace without charge any plants that don't survive for at least 6 months. A sales consultant can continue working without charge until the promised sales results are achieved."

5. Notice What Customers See. A big part of what customers think about you comes from what they see and believe. Personal Selling Power noticed the following difference in two candy stores. "Although two competing candy stores had the same prices, neighbourhood kids preferred one store to the other. When asked why, they said, "Because the person in the good store always gives us more candy. The girl in the other store takes candy away." True? Not really. In the good store the owner would always make sure to put a small amount of candy on the scale and then keep adding to it. In the bad store, the owner would pile a heaping amount of candy on the scale, and then take it off until it hit the right weight. The same amount of candy was sold, but perception is everything."

6. Work On Everything The Customer Experiences. The customer experience isn't just receiving the service or buying the goods. It's about all the other little bits and pieces in-between. Such as the manner of the receptionist, the state of the floors and tables, the attitude of other staff, the ease of parking, the tone of the notices, the smile or lack of it on the face of the checkout team. Be like the Mirage hotel in Las Vegas who have a slogan that says: "We spend 600 hours a week pampering the plants. Imagine what we'll do for our guests."

7. Believe In Customer Service From The Bottom Of Your Soul To become a great service organization, you have to believe in customer service from the bottom of your soul. It has to be part of the way you work. Anita Roddick, founder of retail cosmetic franchise group Body Shop puts it like this: "I am still looking for the modern equivalent of those Quakers who ran successful businesses, made money because they offered honest products and treated people decently, worked hard, spent honestly, saved honestly, gave honest value for money, put back more than they took out and told no lies. This business creed, sadly, seems long forgotten."

If you take time to look, there are many examples of great customer service around you. Follow these 7 laws of unbeatable customer service and you'll join them.

© Eric Garner,

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Best Kind Of Advertising

Writen by Donovan Baldwin

He was a little old man, and he was confused. All around him were huge, confusing technological marvels, and he had no clue what he was really looking for...or at, for that matter.

I was on commission, so the higher-end merchandise meant a bigger commission for me.

I began by asking him what he was trying to do.

It was simple. He had a huge record collection (you remember records, right?), and he just wanted to sit and listen to Bing Crosby, The Andrews Sisters, Perry Como, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra...artists like that.

This led to one of my next questions. Were any of the records 78's?

Yep, he had a bunch of those.

Well, in that time and place, the standard reply was that it was very hard to find anything that would play a 78 rpm record. Most people were looking for high-end sound reproduction also, so that cut out the few units that would play 78's.

In talking to him a little more, I learned that he didn't care that much about sound quality, he just wanted something that would make Dean Martin sound like Dean Martin or Peggy Lee sound like Peggy Lee. I also learned that he was on a fixed income and didn't have much money, but, as he looked around at the systems valued at several hundred dollars, he made it plain that he was willing to pay whatever was necessary, but his means were limited.

Well, after talking to him, I assured him that I had exactly what he was looking for, and walked over to a unit that was almost hidden behind a big entertainment center. The price was about $89.00 if I remember. It played 33's, 45's, and 78's, had good sound quality, had an AM/FM radio, playe cassette tapes (I'm showing my age here) and it was light. He had also mentioned that he would have to get it in his car as he lived several miles away, and would have to get it in the house as well when he got home.

This seemed to hit the spot with him. In fact, he became very excited. He had not been able to listen to his favorites for a couple of years apparently.

It felt good to have helped him out even if I didn't get much of a commission on the sale, but I soon forgot about the event.

A few days later, however, I came in to work, and one of the clerks called to me and said, "There's a guy over there who has been waiting for you all morning. He was here when the store opened, and said he would wait, even though you weren't coming in for a couple of hours."

I looked over, and it was the little old man. I got a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Something was wrong! He lived pretty far away, and wouldn't have come in unless something was wrong with the system.

He saw me, and as he started towards me, he proclaimed in a loud voice that carried across the store, "Don! That system you sold me is GREAT! It's exactly what I wanted. I've been listening to my favorites for days. It was so easy to get into and out of the car, too. Thanks for thinking of that. I just wanted to come over and tell you how much I enjoy the unit you helped me pick out. Thanks for not pushing that expensive stuff on me. I know you didn't make much on the sale, so I really wanted to come in person and tell you thanks!" He shook my hand vigorously and walked smiling out of the store.

There were several customers in the store who heard his remarks, and I am sure a few friends of his who heard similar remarks from him as well. Even if they didn't come to see me, I am sure some of them went to other of our company stores near to them.

Flyers and newspaper ads are nice, but few types of advertising are more effective than the enthusiastic comments of a satisfied customer.

The author is retired from the Army after 21 years of service, has worked as an accountant, optical lab manager, restaurant manager, and instructor. He has been a member of Mensa for several years, and has written and published poetry, essays, and articles on various subjects for the last 40 years. He has been an active internet marketer since 2000, and now makes his living online.

Customer Service For Trash Companies

Writen by Lance Winslow

The Trash Service is one of the most important things in our civilization and yet in some cities the word trash and service hardly go together. Yet in other towns the trash service is incredible. In some cities the trash men go and get the trashcans and bring them to the trash truck themselves, you never have to take them to the curb.

There are many cities where this is done and especially in retirement communities and areas where the average age is over 55. This is what the customers want and they all pay extra for it so this is the customer service they get, because the trash companies have to bid on the garbage contract with this extra stipulation.

However, obviously the trash company is not going to do this unless they are paid for it and in some cities it is also an option, you can pay for that level of extra services. Working to fill the needs and desires of the customers is what customer service is all about and this should be a lesson to all companies. For trash companies it means extra revenue and happier clientele.

Happy trash customers mean a better chance of keeping your contract with the city and automatic renewals without yearly bidding to keep the account and to think that you had never even considered this. You see the name is Trash "Service" and this is one industry where service really matters and I am not talking trash because it is a compound word; Trash-Service.

"Lance Winslow" - Online Think Tank forum board. If you have innovative thoughts and unique perspectives, come think with Lance;

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Can You Hear Me Now Is You Phone Killing Your Business

Writen by Meredith Gossland

This is a really cranky article, but someone has to write it!

Why do business owners continue to invest in automated phone mazes when we all know everyone hates them? Mom and Pop or multi-billion dollar company, growth is dependant on customer satisfaction. (…unless you have a monopoly)

It is beyond belief that as many times as we all have hung up on automated phone service, that business owners still think it is better to have a machine answer questions than to have a live, friendly, intelligent human being answer the phone who can quickly take care of a clients needs on an individual basis.

Haven't these business owners had to deal with voice mail hell? Don't they hang up in frustration when they hear "Press 1 for English press 2 for Spanish, Press 3 for locations, press 4 for business hours, press 5 for our web address, press 6 for payment locations, press 7 to leave a message, press 8 to return to the main menu press 9 to speak to an operator." Then when 9 is pressed you hear "All agents are currently serving other customers. Your call is very important to us. Your estimated wait time is 15 minutes."? AUUUUUUUUGH!

The automated phone system purchasers seem to assume that all phone calls are either stupid questions or trivial issues, such as my account balance at a bank ( I don't think that's stupid or trivial), or where the business is located (especially important for retail stores and not trivial if the caller is going there to buy something), or the calls are complaints(Better solve the problem with a live person than create a furious and frustrated ex-client who's going to bad mouth your business all day, or all week.)

These office managers, C.E.O.s, and entrepreneurs assume you already know the person or department you want and most important they don't want to use up an employees valuable time ($7.75 per hour) taking care of a customer or making a sale when they can have a cheap and brainless machine answering their phone and losing customers left and right.

Automated phone systems have even gone so far as to make sales calls at dinner time! Telling the poor soul on the receiving end to then call the company and ask about their products. ???????? (Of course the company didn't even want to spend 30 seconds on the phone with the prospective customer until the prospect called them!) What is wrong with this picture?

This article was written for the victims of these systems. No... not the customers...the business owners.

I can think of at least 10 calls that I have made in the past month that could have resulted in a sale for the company if someone had just taken the time to answer the phone. Ten phone calls that will not be made again. I am one of the silent lost customers. I won't call back. I won't write a letter of complaint. I simply will not come back. Period!

There are at least 30 companies that I will never do business with because of the kind of service I get on the phone. (They all have competitors who are willing to speak to me personally on the phone without making me wade through 15 minutes of button pushing sludge that slows down my day and makes me really cranky.)

Can you hear me now?

Why The Extra Mile Never Has A Traffic Jam

Writen by Gary Kelly

We all hear anecdotal stories of horrible customer service. Sadly, many people have come to expect bad customer service as the norm today.

If you are starting a business in today's hyper competitive marketplace, you should realize this acceptance of poor customer service as a real sales opportunity.

If people's service expectations are low and you can provide excellent customer service, you can expect your business to grow. The real question becomes are you willing to do what it takes to provide this level of customer service?

Starting a new business is frustrating and hard. The emotional roller coaster ride can be brutal. Committing your organization to achieving outstanding customer service is easy when you are starting out. The hard part comes when things are not necessarily going your way and you begin to encounter many of the frustrations new entrepreneurs often face.

When you are tired, frustrated and wondering if your new venture will ever succeed is the most important time to deliver above and beyond what your customers are expecting. Often times, many entrepreneurs call this "going the extra mile."

Recently, one of our customers purchased a membership from our dating website for golfers. During the registration process, he had selected the buy now button twice and his credit card was mistakenly double billed. He called the contact number on our website and was pleased to speak with a real person regarding his concern. Within 15 minutes, we had issued a refund and personally called him to let know what we had done.

Needless to say, many consumers are still somewhat leery of purchasing something online. This personal follow up with customers can help your company get to that extra mile. Keep doing this and your business will grow.

Our customer was very pleased with our quick follow up. He expressed his gratitude by saying he would have no reservations in recommending our site to his golfing friends. Instead of saying what a brutal job we had done, our customer was telling others about his positive experience on our site. As well all know personal word of mouth advertising is the absolute best kind.

Helping one customer at a time will help you get to that extra mile. As you will soon find out, the organizations that go that extra mile for their customers will see this reflected in the bottom line.

The "extra mile" is often the road less traveled because you have to cover hundreds if not thousands of miles just to get to that point. Once you get there, you will be very pleased to realize how little traffic there is.

Gary Kelly is co-creator of the online dating website for golfers, and, a golf website specializing in personalized ball markers

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Cooperation Is The Key To Effective Communication

Writen by Martin Hahn

Why is communication so important? It is important because it is the mortar which keeps our society together. Without the ability to communicate, we would not be able to create a civilized society which offers order and stability necessary to improve the quality of our lives. But what is actually effective communication? Much has been researched and written about this topic, but so far, the ability to genuinely be able to communicate effectively seems to depend on factors difficult to replicate: talents, emotions, psychological willingness to communicate, and many other 'subjective' factors. With all these limitations in mind, it is extremely difficult to find an objective and rational way or formula to be able to communicate objectively. Rules of etiquette have been developed over the centuries to facilitate non-violent and civilized communication between people. These rules have indeed proven to be effective if certain conditions can be met: sophisticated education of the people, an advanced economic system providing enough high paying jobs, and a social security system to protect the weak members of society. If these 'external' conditions can be met, communication between people will become much more effective because the people will be able to control their emotions and anger ('anger management').

If all those conditions have been met, the people will experience the right conditions to communicate effectively. However, effective communication is just one of the possibilities or an option from which the people can choose. Other options of ineffective communication will still be available. Two aspects are quite important in communication: self-interest and interest of others. The three possibilities of interaction which are ineffective can be identified as: ignorance, submission, and dominance. Only one mode of communication can be identified as being effective: cooperation.

What are the characteristics of cooperation? When people are communicating cooperatively they are truly trying to find a consensus based on an equal relationship. Both are engaging themselves in a communication/interaction setting which is symmetrical. The two ineffective modes of communication, dominance and submission, are both caused by asymmetry.

Another important criterion is trust. Without trust, one cannot expect fruitful collaboration or cooperation. Trust is based on the ability of both parties to show integrity and reliability. How can one trust another person who is not telling the truth (non-integrity) and/or net keeping his/her word (not reliable)?

The final criterion which is crucial to facilitate effective communication is action orientation. Communication is a process of exchange of words. However, if the words are meaningless and not oriented towards the improvement of something, it becomes an empty ritual. This is actually happening when the ignorant mode of communication is happening. Both parties are not really interested in each other, worse even, they are not interested in themselves.

The above explanation may seem obvious, but it does not say anything about the effective communication skills one has to possess to facilitate optimal communication outcomes. Communication is a dynamic process. Unfortunately, the process can be interrupted before it really begins.

The following can go wrong:

1. Deciding what to say in the communication process. Many people make the mistake of trying to convey everything they know about a subject. Unfortunately, when a message is overloaded with too much information, it is difficult to absorb. To get your point across, decide what to include and what to leave out, how much detail to provide, and what order to follow. If you try to explain something without first giving the receiver adequate background, you will create confusion.

2. Creating an effective message is difficult if you do not know how it will be used. This might be caused by a lack of familiarity with the other person(s). You need to know something about the biases, education, age, status, and style of your receiver in order to create an effective message. Decisions about the content, organization, style, and tone of your message all depend at least to some extent, on the relationship between you and the other person(s). If you do not know the other person(s), you will be forced to make decisions in the dark.

3. Lack of experience in speaking can also prevent a person from developing effective messages. Some people have limited education, lack of aptitude, limited vocabulary, are uncertain about grammar, are frightened to communicate, and lack experience in using language. These problems can be solved by taking courses in communication, participating in communication training programs, read plenty of self-help books, join some association or organization to practice communication skills: anything positive to overcome lack of communication skills.

My name is Martin Hahn Ph.D. and I am an industrial sociologist with more than 20 years experience in teaching, management consulting, and corporate training.

Can You Build Customer Loyalty

Writen by Jo Ann Joy

Unless you are a one-person shop, you are not the only person responsible for your customers' opinions and whether they will do business with you again. Your employees make an impression on your customers every time they make contact. One of the first things you must do is make certain that your employees recognize that every contact with every customer is vital.

It is your job to stop negative attitudes or comments about your customers. If you allow your employees to make disparaging remarks about customers, it creates a negative attitude that customers can read. Customers can be a big pain, but stay positive and be sure your employees stay positive. You employees must understand that it is the customer who actually pays their salary.

One employee's negative attitude can chase away current, future, and potential customers. Remember the adage that every dissatisfied customers tells ten people about the bad experience, and so it spreads. Whereas, a satisfied customer may not tell anyone about the good experience. The customer expects and is entitled to a good experience with your business. When they get what they expect, they are not as likely to talk about it.

Ask your customers what they want and listen to their answers. Let customers know that their opinions are important to you, their opinions have value, and their opinions will have an impact on how you run your business. Make sure all employees know what customers want and are prepared to give even more than the customers want. If you exceed your customers' expectations every time, will you create customer loyalty? The answer is probably "No."

Customers may be loyal to a brand or to someone they deal with in a company, but they are not likely to be loyal to an impersonal thing like a company. However, your company can create satisfied customers who will come back again and may recommend your company to friends and family. That may not be loyalty, but it is a good result that will boost your success.

Jo Ann Joy, Esq., MBA, CEO Copyright 2006 Indigo Business Solutions. All rights reserved.

About the author

Jo Ann Joy is the CEO and owner of Indigo Business Solutions, a legal and business consulting firm. Indigo Business Solutions is a "one stop shop" for small businesses. We differ from other business consulting firms, because we offer comprehensive legal and business counseling. We can offer most of the professional services that a business requires.

Jo Ann has a law degree, an MBA, and a degree in Economics, but she is not a traditional attorney. Rather, she is a strategic business attorney who works closely with clients to create and implement strategies that will greatly improve their performance and chance of success. Her background includes commercial and real estate law, accounting, financial planning, mortgages, marketing, product development, banking, and business strategies. She ran a successful business for 10 years, and she has written and given presentations on many different legal and business subjects.

Contact me for free copies of my articles. If you want to achieve more with your business, please contact me for success secrets.

Monday, July 21, 2008

How To Keep Your Customers For A Quarter Of A Century

Writen by Errol Blackburn

Add Value in Everything You do.

A few days ago as I was reading an E-Book on effective Internet Marketing I remembered an incident that had a profound impact on my life. The incident took place shortly after I had completed my studies and left college.

One of my best friends and his wife came to visit my wife and myself at our home. At the time we had a five year old son. After chatting for a while and playing our favourite card game, UNO, my friend asked, "Why don't we just go out for a meal?" As we all were vegetarians he suggested that we visited a South Indian Restaurant very near to the World famous Wembley Stadium in London, UK. What happened next overturned everything that I had come to believe about service organizations and Customer Service.

I telephoned the restaurant and tried to book a table. The manager told me that they were closed and would not be opening until 6:30pm. So far so good (or bad). That is where the conversation would have ended with most organizations but not this one. The manager asked me "How many are there in your party?" I replied, "Four adults and a five year old boy." His next statement blew me away. The manager asked "How soon can you get here?" And I replied, "I can be there by three." He then said "Come on down, we will open up for you."

That day we (my family) were introduced to the Royal Mysur Thali, to Mango Lassi and Culfi ice cream. It was a fabulous meal with huge portions. We had the restaurant all to our selves. We felt like royalty. My friend seemed to take the service and attention in his stride. Apparently he was accustomed to this level of service from his days growing up in his homeland, India.

Since then whenever I felt like having a meal out, my first choice is always Woodlands. I have taken business associates, friends and potential clients there. In fact perhaps eight out of ten of my visits to a restaurant have been to Woodlands.

That incident took place a few years ago now. As a matter of fact, the five year old boy will be twenty eight years old this year and my most recent visit to Woodlands was just before Christmas. I am amazed to think that twenty three years have past since my first visit to that restaurant.

I guess this question is really a no-brainer but I will still ask it; was it worthwhile to the company that the Manager decided twenty three years ago to open the restaurant nearly four hours early for two families to come dine with them? You bet it was.

I could have waited and gone for my meal at a time when they were open and I would have been a 'satisfied customer' but that was not good enough for this Manager. He apparently decided that he did not want a 'satisfied customer.' What he wanted was a 'DELIGHTED CUSTOMER." Did he succeed? Well, what do you think? Eight out of ten visits over the past twenty three years certainly speaks volume.

How would you like to have your customers stay that loyal to you? You would? Ok, let's see what that manager did. The first thing he did was to recognise that I could easily go to another restaurant and might never call him again. Next, he decided to inconvenience himself so that I would feel special, in his effort to get me onto his premises. When I got to the premises the staff ensured that my party was comfortable and well looked after. They then provided some of the best food I have ever tasted. Truly a quality product and top class service. That warm towel after the meal is really something special.

The final touch, as we were leaving, was the manager walking us to the door, opening the door and saying to us, "thank you for coming, please come again." Would you have gone back to a restaurant after such treatment? I guess that Manager did a great 'sales job' on me, but I didn't mind one bit. That Manager knew all along, that I would most likely be asking myself "What's in this deal for me? Is he going to over charge me for opening four hours early? Not only did he not over-charge, on the contrary he over-delivered and greatly surpassed my expectations.

You might not be selling South Indian food but the same principles apply. Now you know how to keep your customers for a quarter of a century.

I have worked as a Minister of Religion for many years but currently my religious activities are voluntary. I am very open-minded and enjoy interacting with most religious persuasions.

My passion is to help people become the best that they can be. For over ten years I have studied success related literature and I have found that one of the 'side-effects' is that it makes you a 'giver.' Not necessarily going down the High Street handing out cash (I don't have enough cash to do that as yet.

For me, giving is of the variety of helping the 'Farmer' to become a 'Fisherman' when his land becomes unproductive. Or helping that new employee, student, etc. develop the confidence to go after the dream that means so much to her. As I said I love people; If you are reading this then go the next step and contact me.

Read my profile on Ecademy.

Visit my Wealth Coaching page below.

Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder

Writen by Janice D. Byer

However, in the world of business, this cliché may not necessarily be true. Sometimes it can be more like 'Out of Site, Out of Mind'.

Your existing clients are your most important business assets. They are already aware of the exceptional products or services that you provide and you have already built a trust with them.

These happy clients will be the first to recommend you and your business to others that may be in need of your services or products. It is essential to build a lasting relationship and keep in touch with these influential people…keep your name fresh in their minds. They have become 'business friends' and what kind of friend would you be if you didn't stay in touch.

There are several ways to build a loyal and lasting relationship with your clients, besides the exceptional customer service and support that you are already providing. You need to set yourself apart from the competition and give customers something that will keep your business in the front of their minds, thus producing repeat and referral business.

Your first step is to ensure that you make your client feel like they are number one. This should be something that you strive for with every client you acquire. Sure, there may be some that will take this to heart and put excessive demands on you when you are really needing to get work done for your other clients, but the majority of them will be just like friends and supporters and you need to show them that you appreciate them. You need them to know that they are not just clients, but that they are a value to you and your business.

A great way to get the ball rolling is to send a letter thanking the client for the chance to provide them with a quotation and let them know that you are here to help, if they need it. Include, with the letter, a copy of your brochure, any specials that you currently have running and, of course your business card.

Once the quotation has been accepted and you both agree on the details of the project, it's time to send a Thank You card. If the new client is a local business owner, send a card with a hand-written note and, of course your business card. If the quote is for an online client, you can send a hand-written note or try going to one of many greeting card sites and sending a personalized electronic card. My personal favorite is This is a nice touch as opposed to just a buttered up email.

After the project has been completed, I like to send a personalized, hand-written note on suitable stationery.

Now… where to go from here? Just because this particular project is finished, it doesn't mean that you should just put their file away and forget about them. On the contrary… you have to stay in touch with them. If they have used your services and are very happy with the outcome, they will probably need you in the future, or know someone who does.

If you happen to have the client's birth date, send them a nice card on their special day. If you don't have that date, there are still other ways to stay in touch. One is to send a card on special holidays, such as Christmas. With these special holiday cards, it is not recommended that you send a business card with it. These type of cards should show that you care and don't have an ulterior motive to your action.

So, what about the rest of the year? They say that you need to be in the right place at the right time to take advantage of some opportunities. But if you aren't in the right place, the forefront of you client's mind when they may need your services, you may lose out. You need to keep in touch with them throughout the year. You need to send them something that they will hang onto.

The most cost effective way to do this is to send them a newsletter. If you have a business that is online and you have cyberspace clients, start an online ezine and send it out on a regular basis. Fill it full of great links and articles to help your clients. And, it doesn't hurt to mention their business in an issue. For local clients, put together a print version of your newsletter and keep them informed about what is happening with your company and your other clients. Again, putting a free mention about their business will be something that they will really appreciate.

Staying in touch with you clients and contacts is vital for repeat and referral business. When the time comes that they, or someone they know, are in need of your product or service, make sure that they remember you, your business and how you can help them.

About The Author

Janice Byer is a certified Master Virtual Assistant and owner of Docu-Type Administrative & Web Design Services ( See this and other articles on her website.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

What Is Customer Service Ten More Things To Remember

Writen by Marilyn Cahill

Ask yourself why you love your favorite restaurant. Chances are that you frequent a restaurant because they offer great food and a warm ambience. Comfortable seating and good lighting are important factors also. But what exactly is customer service? Do retailers even know the answer? Is it the warm and friendly greeting, the good food, the charming atmosphere or the comfortable seating? Of course, the successful retailer knows that the answer is all of the above. If you are starting a new business, ensure that your customer service strategy integrates all aspects of your business – staffing, product merchandising, convenience, comfort, store policies and after sales. Because being nice isn't enough!

Ten more points to remember about customer service:

1. Knowledgeable staff – cheerful and informed – knowing the product is paramount – informed about how the product works; how the item is made and its care; informed about the suppliers; informed about the store policies and its values; informed solutions to customer's needs and wants; gives expert advice and gift suggestions. If knowledge is power, then empower your staff!

2. Signage – legible price tags and sizing labels – can the customer find the item easily; can the customer "reach" the item and if not, does the signage inform the customer of options. Don't forget that signage is the silent salesperson.

3. Selection of product – is their depth and breadth? And if not, is the retailer willing to special order for the customer. Does the customer know this? Or does the customer just walk out of the store when the item isn't readily available?

4. Presentation of the product – is the merchandise presented attractively? Does the presentation tell a story? In other words, does the presentation make a "sales pitch". Can the customer access the item? Is their a flow to the placement of the product? Does the placement make sense to the customer?

5. Is the customer comfortable and at ease in the store? Is the lighting sufficient? Is the music too loud? Are the aisles wide enough for wheelchairs and baby strollers? Are there seating areas for tired customers? Does the dressing room have a sufficiently-sized mirror? Hooks? Seat? Does the dressing room door lock? Adults may prefer that the door locks, but mothers of small children would prefer not! Does the new mother have an area to change her baby's diaper? Does the retailer have diapers for that new mother? (Complimentary, of course!)

6. Is "Point of Sale" efficient? – correctly fill out invoices, and check credit cards and handle cash – efficiently - as errors inconvenience the customer and waste time. Has the customer been offered complimentary gift wrap and/or enclosure card? Has the customer been asked to sign the mailing list? Does the customer know the store's return policy? Has the customer been informed of upcoming sales and promotions? Always ensure that errors are corrected as soon as possible and at the store's expense. Anticipate the customer's lack of time (lunch hour, on coffee break, children close by and crying, etc.) and help process the sale as quickly and efficiently as possible.

7. After sale – returns – the savvy retailer knows that to compete with the big box stores a flexible and generous return policy is a must! Handle all complaints by asking the customer, "How can I make this right for you!"

8. Flexible store hours – store hours should reflect the customer's lifestyle NOT the retailer's. Those cutesy signs informing the customer that the store owner is "here some days, but not on other days" is annoying to say the least, detrimental at most.

9. Special extras – most retailers assume that the "extra mile" is what customer service is all about. And it is. Unfortunately, most retailers forget about the first mile. The extra mile is all about smiles, and thank you. Extra phone calls, specialty items, special orders, flowers on the counter, coffee for customers, free add-ons, pretty packaging. But the first mile is about the "bones of the business". It is what your business plan is all about. It's what you told the bank manager at your initial visit. It's about the "how." How will the merchandise look in the store? Where will it be placed? How deep will the shelves be? How many sweaters on each shelf? How many colours and what sizes? Where will the cash register go? How long will the counter be? (because a short counter cannot service the customer well) How many dressing rooms will there be? The savvy retailer knows that the answers to these above questions are all part of the "customer service driven" business.

10. The long good-bye! Retailers often "forget" to say thank-you and goodbye. This is a great oversight. This is an opportunity to shine. A simple "thanks for shopping with us" goes a long way to goodwill and ensuring that the customer feels appreciated. In fact, a savvy retailer always greets his customers and when leaving "shows them to the door". (After all, isn't that what a good host would do!) Ensure that a sign is placed on the door, that reads, "Thank you and come again!" (Needless to say, carry packages to the car.)

Superior customer service drives the customer's trust and respect which leads to a long-term relationship. Increased sales, increased market share, increased profits – everything flows from superior customer service! So the next time you ask "what is customer service", remember the key strategies that make a business are all integrated and become the "how" of customer service.

Marilyn Cahill is a newly-retired retailer. Marilyn has owned two children's clothing stores and a home-based gift basket business. She is an avid reader, writer and gardener. She is passionate about retailing and customer service.

Using Christmas To Keep In Contact With Your Customers

Writen by Bill Nadraszky

The end of the year is fast approaching. I remember that years back I would take a couple weeks in December and just solidify my relationships with my buyers and sellers. I know that we are a little early right now but it is a good time to plan as some of the work can mount up during December if you are lucky.

Today, go through your list of clients and maybe clients and decide two things:

1. What is the value of this relationship today and tomorrow?

2. What is the best way to show that I care as a person and not as a salesperson?

Here is what I used to do. I would hand write Christmas cards to everyone on my maybe list of buyers and sellers with a little personal note, this could go out to 300 or 400 people or maybe only 50 you have to decide. You can write these Christmas or more probably holiday cards very quickly once you get a roll going. I just go to the local Wal Mart or somewhere where boxed cards are cheap and buy a bunch, fill them out with a short message personalized with their name on top and send them out. One bad mistake is to have the office pre print cards as it just screams of insincerity. On the same note be sure to stamp the envelope as your office may have a meter machine for postage and this will make your letter look more like a bill, no need to remind them of January early!

The next thing you can do is to find a supplier of low priced quality chocolates and get together with others in your office to order to drop the price point per box and then hand deliver these chocolates to each of your good clients. This will take more time as you want to do it close to Christmas and getting time in everyone's schedule is difficult. When you do deliver these chocolates you will also drop of the holiday card as this will save you postage for a few people.

Calendars are the last thing on the list. Everyone gives out Calendars so you want to make sure that your calendar stands out. I have seen Realtors give out appointment books, as an alternative and I am not sure how well this can really work as no one else will see this. By all means give out calendars this year but if at all possible give out something that people will use at other times of the year. Go to a promotional supply store personally and see what you can find. Maybe you can get a fridge magnet with your picture and the schedule for one of the local sports teams that you can mail out in the spring or maybe you can get a magnetic month at a glance board that is just 8 and a half by 11 inches, I know my mom still has one of these on her fridge and it lasts forever. The best thing you can do with the idea of calendars is to be different because it is really hard to stand out when you are doing the same thing as every other Realtor in your area.

Bill Nadraszky offers great real estate articles and a directory system that allows you to see the top real estate sites anytime at Check it our today.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

You Cant Have Juice With A Special Broiler Meal

Writen by Ron Kaufman

Years ago, I frequented a well-known quick-service restaurant for their Special Broiler Meal, a fast-food lunch of broiled chicken sandwich and french fries.

But instead of taking the large cola with the package, I always asked for a small glass of orange juice instead. Predictably, the counter staff would freeze up with uncertainty and refer my request to the floor manager.

One young manager was particularly memorable. 'I'm sorry, sir,' he told me. 'You can't have orange juice with the Special Broiler Meal.'

'Sure I can,' I replied, 'I do it all the time at the other outlets in your group. There is a 65 cent price difference and I am happy to pay it.'

'That's not the problem,' he said with a touch of annoyance. 'There's no key on my computer to make the substitution, so I can't let you do it.'

'Hey, sometimes you have to break the rules,' I said, reminding him of his brand's multi-million dollar advertising campaign. 'I'll take the Super Broiler Meal, with orange juice, please.'

He realized I was not going to take 'No' for an answer and he could not go against a well-informed customer and his chain's well-known advertising promise.

'I'll do it for you just this once, as an exception,' he said.

'Oh c'mon, you can do it for me anytime,' I replied.

'No,' he said again, looking me straight in the eye. 'I will do it for you this once, but I won't do it again.'

'Wait a minute,' I asked gamely. 'You are about to make me a happy customer. Do you really mean you wouldn't make me a happy customer again?'

'I will do it for you this once,' he repeated flatly. When I received my meal, with orange juice, I gave the manager a genuine smile and said, 'See you again next time.'

He replied, just below his breath but loud enough for me to hear, 'I don't want to see you again.'

Somewhere within this company, computer programmers design point-of-purchase terminals to carefully limit the choices and options of customers around the world.

The accountants are happy. Daily sales reports are clean and accurate. But at the sales counter, face-to-face between customers and staff, both parties experience frustration.

The advertising slogan says, 'Sometimes you've just got to break the rules.' But the restaurant manager would not.

I wrote an article about this encounter in my local newspaper. The following week, a regional manager from the restaurant chain called and invited me to lunch.

The next month I returned to the same outlet seeking a Super Broiler Meal, with orange juice. The counter staff smiled brightly and keyed in my order.

'How did you do that?', I asked in a state of pleased amazement. 'Now it's easy,' she replied. 'Last week they put a new key on the computer to allow simple menu changes.'

Congratulations to this well-known restaurant chain. You are listening!

Key Learning Point

If you are going to bend the rules for your customers, be ready to do it each and every time they ask. Then make life easier for them, and for you - change the procedure, or change the rules.

Action Steps

Some rules are essential and must be maintained. Others should be refined or abandoned. Try suspending a different rule each week. Notice what new actions can be taken, new customer value created. Then keep the rules you really need and get rid of those you don't.

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, July 18, 2008

Customer Service Credibility With Customers

Writen by Lance Winslow

Many consumers have been burned so many times after buying products or services that they do not trust the customer service promises of salesmen anymore. Of course the salesmen work on reassuring the customer while at the same time thinking to themselves; why am I working here, no one trusts these products or this company?

The customer often has to be convinced in advance that your company will back up the products and services it sells in the market place or they will be hesitant to buy. Worse they may continue shopping and end up at your competitors business and then buy from them instead.

Does your company have; Customer Service Credibility with its Customers, Potential Customers and Brand Credibility with the Public in general? If not you need to work on this and the sooner you do the more customers there will be willing to purchase what your business is selling.

How do you gain customer service credibility? Well, by giving good customer service, advertising that you give good customer service and then backing it up again and again. If you do this then your customers will tell all their friends and the word of mouth advertising will spread throughout the land. And it will happen faster than you know it and right before your eyes.

"Lance Winslow" - Online Think Tank forum board. If you have innovative thoughts and unique perspectives, come think with Lance;

Thursday, July 17, 2008

What Every Employee Should Know About Putting Positive Phrases Into Customer Service

Writen by Etienne Gibbs

If you were a customer on the telephone with a question or complaint and were ready to make big purchase, which of the following phrases by this employee would make you feel welcome and want to complete your transaction? Which would drive you away?

* I'm sorry. I didn't get that.
* I can't understand what you're trying to say.

* Yes, Mr. Jones, I'll be happy to do that for you.
* All right. I'll see what I can do about it.

* It will take a few minutes. Would you like me to call you back?
* Hold on. I'll be right with ya.

* Thank you for waiting. I have that information now.
* You're out of luck. We don't sell that any more.

* Would you spell your name, please?
* What did you say your name was?

* Thank you. I'll check for you.
* Okay. Let me see if I can find out about it from someone.

* I'm sorry. Mr. Smith is away from his desk. May I help you?
* He's still out to lunch. I don't know when he'll be back.

By now you can certainly see and feel the advantage that using positive phrases creates for your organization, your customer, your organization, and yourself. Positive phrases cause positive outcomes for everyone involved.

When you're positive with your customers, they'll be positive with you. After all, isn't that what doing business is all about?

Be courteous and professional with others and watch the benefits fall into your lag. It's guaranteed.

Remember: When you maximize your potential, everyone wins. When you don't, we all lose.

© Etienne A. Gibbs, MSW

PERMISSION TO REPUBLISH: This article may be republished in ezines, newsletters, and on web sites provided attribution is provided to the author, and it appears with the included copyright, resource box, and live web site link. Although advance permission is not required, please notify us at when you use this article.

Etienne A. Gibbs, MSW, Management Consultant and Trainer, conducts lectures, seminars, webinar, and writes articles on his theme: ... helping you maximize your potential. He offers management, marketing, and parenting resources at his Maximizing Your Potential blog.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Affordable Call Center Solutions

Writen by Kent Pinkerton

There are a number of options that businesses can choose from to set up a call center. For companies that have the resources, they can set up the necessary infrastructure for call center operations. On the other hand, smaller businesses can also use recent developments in technology such as VoIP, to help them set up a 'mini' call center.

One of the first things that a business owner should consider is the price of the services that a call center offers. In line with this, business owners should be wary about call centers that require large deposits, as this may be a sign that the call center is just trying to make a fast profit that could mean the company is not taking good care of their clients. Fortunately, there are a number of call centers that offer good prices for their services.

Another important factor to consider is the type of management and the quality of service that operators provide in the call center. However, this may be difficult to ascertain, so it is a good idea to rely on recommendations from other business owners. As a rule of thumb, one of the signs that a call center provides good service is they do not require long-term contracts. This indicates that they are very confident that business owners will stay with them on a permanent basis without a contract.

Nowadays, a business can outsource call center services -- a convenient and affordable way to take advantage of the benefits that call centers provide. Fortunately, the search for affordable call center services has become a fairly easy process as long as business owners are aware of what to look for.

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

The Pros And Cons Of Using An Answering Service

Writen by Miranda Keene

As with most things in life, answering services have their advantages and disadvantages. For some independent contractors who are one-man bands, they are live savers, to others they can be your worst enemies. Read the pros and cons of having an answering service and decide for yourself.


· No need to employ additional people to man telephones, this is especially important if you are running a small start up company or a large operation that needs twenty-four hour customer service availability. This can result in massive savings as salaries and benefits are not necessary.
· No more missed calls /lost clients; losing potential clients can be a hard blow especially for small operations.
· Urgent calls are handled until you are able to deal with them from a company level. Also, you can screen calls when on holiday, and if you are an independent contractor, take messages only from those clients you want to
· Many answering services are located off-shore or in Third World countries leading to reduced cost to the business.v


· Less control over people answering calls on behalf of your business; some services may be staffed by people who are unmotivated or dislike what they do. This can reflect negatively on your business.
· Accents / language barriers can pose communication problems; this is especially true for call centers which are located overseas or in another state where there are major differences in pronunciation
· Some persons are reluctant to leave voice messages, so automated systems may not work in some instances.
· Confidentiality issues are also important as persons beyond your realm of control may have access to sensitive telephone messages
· Automated systems tend to be full after a while, and unable to take any more messages. Click here now to find more observations from Miranda.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Dealing With Difficult Customers

Writen by Mary Eule

Responding to angry, disgruntled and frustrated customers can be very stressful, especially over the phone. However, I strongly believe that this is precisely the time when businesses have a golden opportunity to shine. Think of it this way… it's easy to be polite and upbeat when things are going great… but way too many business owners underestimate the value of training their employees in the fine art of dealing with difficult customers; demonstrating the "right way" and tolerating nothing less.

Sidebar: Before I continue, some words of caution… Employees are much more willing, and able, to arrive at positive solutions for unhappy customers if they are armed with the tools necessary to make this happen… the most important being, empowerment. If you cripple your employees' ability to "turn lemons into lemonade" I've consulted with many companies that cripple their employees by severely restricting their ability to "make good". They erroneously claim that they will "give away the farm" (the old, "give 'em an inch and they'll take a mile" syndrome.) without ever considering the amount of money they're losing on lost customers; rotten word of mouth; excessive employee turnover; wasted phone time, stress, etc. I cringe every time I hear this! If you don't believe me, go to your nearest bookstore and buy a copy of "The Nordstrom Way" (Spector and McCarthy) and see if reading that changes your mind!

One of the unexpected pleasures you and your employees will derive from really, really pleasing a miserable customer is the joy it brings! No, this is not " touchy-feely-warm-and-fuzzy-psychobabble" … just try it and you'll see.

Remember, no matter what "business" you're in – whether you're a doctor, lawyer, retailer, non-profit organization, wholesaler, consultant, etc. you are there to serve… As one of my mentors, Zig Ziglar, said best, "The more you help other people get what they want, the more you'll get what you want."…

So, be grateful to that irate customer who snaps you awake, and presents you with an intriguing psychological challenge and is often the most thankful and your most loyal customer when its over!

Tips for Dealing with that Distressed Customer

1. No matter how angry or unreasonable your customer is, your ultimate three goals are to:

√ Calm them down;

√ Communicate your understanding of their complaint or problem and empathy; and

√ Have them leave, or hang up, thanking you.

2. How do you make this happen?

√ Smile (not profound, trust me, people can really tell)as you answer the phone or greet the customer in person

√ Introduce Yourself Enthusiastically (and your organization if the customer calls in), e.g. "Hi, my name is Mary… we're glad you called the XXX Company today! How can I help you?"

Once they've told you the reason for their call, it's important to:

· Let them know that you will personally handle their complaint

· Apologize and acknowledge their feelings

· Sympathize and draw them out

· Prepare to help, ask questions, and convey personal caring

· The voice's volume should be normal, not loud

· Slow your speech down a bit and lower your pitch – these have immediate calming effects and place you in control of the conversation in a non-threatening way. Note their Name: Then use it! It's the sweetest word(s) in any language… but make sure you ask the proper pronunciation if you're not sure!

√ Give them Your Undivided Attention: They're already unhappy, so don't make it worse by making them feel that you're not really "there" – e.g. don't look around – keep your eyes focused on them; no rustling papers; answering other calls; etc.

√ Listen Carefully and Take Notes: The vast majority of customer complaints are legitimate… so this should always be your first assumption. Write important information down to ensure accuracy; help you get to the bottom of the problem; avoid making the customer repeat themselves and make it easier for you to relate the situation to someone else if needed.

√ Echo key points This will go a long way in reassuring the customers and make certain that you understand the "heart" of their complaint… "ask the question behind the question."

√ Provide a resolution (A great question to ask is: "How can I best resolve this for you?)

√ Lead them to a solution (remember, if you're contact personnel are not empowered offer a solution the process make break down here…)

√ Thank them for calling or visiting; apologize for any inconvenience they've experienced and let them know that you work hard every day to ensure that every customer experience is delightful, and you will continue to do so.

√ Update their customer account to reflect your conversation and resolution to ensure that other employees can get up to speed, if needed. Additionally, make sure that you follow-up with anyone else involved in the "fix" within 24 hours! This is key!!

3. Put Stress in Prospective

Unhappy customers can cause stress but it's important to remember that their anger is not personal. They are annoyed at a problem, not you. Sometimes they just need to vent. If you suspect this, it's often a good idea to let them go on a bit.

4. Helpful Phrases to Use

√ How can I help you?

√ Thanks so much for your patience and cooperation

√ Sir, could you please explain the situation so I help you resolve this?

√ I'm so sorry to hear that… I don't blame you for being frustrated. I believe I would as well…

√ Let's work together to resolve this, shall we?

√ I can see why you feel that way…

√ I see what you mean…

√ That must be upsetting…

√ I understand how frustrating this must be for you and I really appreciate your patience…

5. Phrases to Avoid at all Costs

√ Our policy is…

√ Calm down!

√ What's your problem?

√ That's not our fault!

√ I can't help it if my employee was rude…

√ I'm not going to repeat this again…

√ Listen to me…

√ I can't…

√ Why don't you be reasonable?

√ There's nothing else I can do…

Challenge: What is the best and/or worst comment you've ever received from a company representative?

6. Ways to Remain Cool

√ Tell yourself it's futile to allow another person to ruin your day, then don't let that happen.

√ Remind yourself that you're a professional and know how to deal with this situation in that manner.

√ If you want to solve the problem quickly, don't throw fuel on the fire…

√ Understand how good you'll feel when you look back with pride on how you handled a difficult


There are a few customers use "bullying" as a means to intimate others personally and professionally. Whatever their reasons for "being mad at the world," they may take advantage of any excuse to "get back". This type of interaction, although rare, presents added challenges but if you know how to deal with them correctly, your stress will be greatly diminished.

No person should have to tolerate behavior that crosses certain boundaries. Abusive language can be dealt with immediately with a firm, "Mr./Ms. Smith, excuse me, I want to help you, but I cannot permit you to use unprofessional language." Nearly always, this results in an apology.

Using the customer's name and, if appropriate, formal title improves the chances of this working. If not, this person must be handed off; put on hold; or terminated with a statement such as, "I'm sorry, this cannot continue." Period.

Any incident that goes this far, harassing, and/or threats of violence should be reported to other employees or supervisors and/or the proper authorities.

Bottom Line: Your most loyal customers are always the ones that had a problem that was solved to their satisfaction RATHER than the customer who never had a problem! This is a very important distinction!

Mary Eule specializes in helping small and medium-sized businesses get and keep profitable customers. Formerly a Fortune 500 marketing executive; founder of two successful small businesses and award-winning speaker, Ms. Eule is President of Strategic Marketing Advisors, LLC. and co-author of a new book, "Mandatory Marketing: Small Business Edition".

She has a BA in Journalism/English from the University of Maryland and earned her a master's degree in marketing from Johns Hopkins University. Log onto her website: for free articles, newsletter and helpful marketing tools, tips and templates… and/or to purchase the book.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Hospitality Not Service

Writen by T.J. Schier

I find myself dining more and more often in fast-casual restaurants instead of ones that offers full service (and I use that term loosely). Why? In addition to being more in control of the timing of my experience, I find the level of hospitality in many fast-casual chains equal to or better than many of the casual full-service restaurants - for less money. What can you learn from a CASE (copy and steal everything) study of today's successful concepts? Think hospitality instead of service.

On a recent visit to Pei Wei, PF Chang's fast-casual concept, with a colleague of mine (his first time to eat there), he was impressed with the friendly food delivery and offer to get drink refills for us. Drink refills? Most of us could offer that little dose of hospitality in our restaurants. Heck, at most full-service restaurants today, you're lucky if you get a refill in a timely manner. Will that build your sales? Certainly!

The Golden Corral in my neighborhood has a very Cheers-like atmosphere, where the guests request specific servers and the managers are out front and seem to know everyone. Wonder why they continue to build sales and have long lines? The guests have a better experience for less coin. You certainly have the ability to create an experience like these in your building as well--if you move out front.

Get off the kitchen tiles and spread some smiles working the guests' tiles. Get on the other side of the counter and check your guests' meals. Inject some hospitality into your restaurant. Why do you think so many people go through the drive-thru? They might not want to come inside. Create a better experience and they'll be lining up. Studies have shown that dine-in guests spend more, so give them a reason to come on in!

Hospitality Rally

Add a dose of hospitality to your pre-shift meetings. Teach your people to interact with your diners--and that starts with you. It takes no more time and costs no more money for someone pre-bussing a table to smile, find out how the meal is, and see if they need anything else. Your rally should focus on how the interactions happen, not on a series of steps and tasks the guest doesn't care about.

A recent trip through my local Chick-fil-A drive-thru opened my eyes to the difference between service and hospitality. I ordered a large drink and pulled around to the window. The attendant passed me a straw and told me the total was $1.29. I gave her the money, and she joked that was just for the straw--the soda was an additional $1.29. A little laugh from someone enjoying her job and showing it to the guests. Service is filling the need--in that case, the need being "I'm thirsty"--and can be delivered by a vending machine or any number of places. Hospitality, though, is different. It happens through people. My family dines at this restaurant frequently for this very reason. How can you make the transition in your restaurant?

Cashiers, phone, and drive thru. A good rule of thumb is to greet the guest by name. If you don't recognize them, their name is Welcome. Start their experience off on the right foot. Positive, reassuring responses such as "great choice," "that's my favorite," "it's one of our most popular items," "that also goes well with ___" will ensure the guest feels good about their order. Simply replace the nod, non-acknowledgement, or "okay" with eye contact and a positive response. Watch the sales add up.

On the floor. Lead the charge--get out from behind the counter. Sonic's carhops stop by to ask how the meal is and to see if you need any additional condiments. Offer a drink refill, additional napkins, and ketchup or salsa refills. Find out why the guest is here and inform them of any catering, office packs, and fundraising events you offer. Build your sales by focusing on frequency and marketing opportunities with the minimal investment of only your time. The old expression "don't trip over dollars to pick up pennies" rings true here. Sometimes we focus too much attention on minor items while missing the big-dollar opportunities to build sales.

Think about an encore at a rock concert. It certainly doesn't look impressive if only one lighter is held out, and it won't get the band back. But 20,000 lighters in unison is an impressive sight, and it starts with only one--yours. Don't let the rigors of the shift extinguish it. Keep modeling the behavior and rewarding those on your team who mimic you. Pretty soon you will have an impressive team holding the lighters in the air and a long line of guests waiting to experience your great service.

And pretty soon the competition will be trying to do a CASE study on you.

T.J. Schier is service professional, consultant and speaker with over 20 years experience in operations and training. Founder and president of Incentivize Solutions and podTraining, T.J. has helped numerous clients enhance their service and training programs and spoken to tens of thousands of managers, franchisees and operators in various fields. Visit for more info motivating today's employees, training today's generation and delivering outstanding guest service; or, a unique new system and the foundation of 'i-learning' - using the device of today's generation, the iPod - to train your workforce.