Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Six Drivers Of Customer Loyalty

Writen by Kenneth Wallace

Many well-known companies have famously fashioned mission, values and vision statements that claim they begin and end with their customers. Oh, but were it so in reality! Be this as it may, these carefully crafted proclamations are nevertheless informative and valuable because they serve to remind companies of their high calling and to help them measure how far away from their standards they've strayed.

In reviewing many of these iconic declarations I've discovered that six aspects of how an organization should view and treat its customers are usually mentioned. I believe that when all six of these drivers are consistently and thoughtfully implemented throughout a company, the financial bottom line increases because the operational bottom line of building caring and satisfying relationships with customers is effectively and creatively addressed.

The best way to increase profitability is to increase customer loyalty to your organization because loyal customers spend more and cost less than new customers. Of course, when you do acquire new customers these drivers will serve to develop the quality of relationship with them that will keep them loyal to you.

I have done a lot of coaching and consulting in the automotive industry over the years. It occurs to me that no matter what industry you're in, you're actually in the C.A.R. business. Everything you and your people do with, for and to the customer serves to create one of two types of relationships: awesome or awful. In other words, in every action and inaction you're either Creating Awesome Relationships or Creating Awful Relationships. The "A" is the variable and is within your control to create and change.

Over the years, for a variety of reasons, some justified but most unjustified, the car business has gotten a bad reputation. Keeping in mind that YOU are in the C.A.R. business, too, no matter what you do, what kind of relationships are you creating with your customers: awesome, awful or somewhere in the mundane and mediocre middle? One way or the other you are earning a reputation by what you do and don't do for your customers. Your reputation is what your community as well as your customers think of when they think of you and your organization. When they think of you are they inspired to return to you? With every interaction you're giving your customers one of two things: a reason to come back or a reason to go elsewhere.

Here are the six drivers of customer loyalty:

1. Trust

• Customers want to be treated fairly and honestly without reservation or hesitation

• They desire friendly service in a stress-free environment

• Customers crave a pressure-free purchase experience; the central focus of conversation should be their interests, not the interests of the company or its personnel

• Customers like to do business with businesses who maintain long-term employees

• Customers look forward to consistent and predictable patterns of employee behavior; if there are any surprises, they had better be ones that delight them, not disturb what they've come to expect

2. Caring Treatment

• Genuine concern for and appreciation of the customer and his/her specific needs, desires and idiosyncrasies

• Exceeding customers' expectations should always be strived for; this can only be done, however, when you know exactly what customers actually expect from you and your organization; when you know what they really want and need, that will usually be enough for most customers

3. Ongoing Contact

• Consistent contact that is personalized is highly valued by customers

• Such contacts in all forms (written, verbal, face-to-face) should be event-driven and value-added; anything that is not perceived as being value-added is perceived to be pressure-added

• The events that drive customer contacts should be primarily those occurring in their lives and not solely as a means to sell the company's products and services; if the former is done regularly and is personalized, customers are more open to and welcoming of any marketing messages from the company; consequently, advertising costs decline as revenues are enhanced

4. Ownership Benefits

• Customers who are loyal are fond of receiving special privileges; examples are frequency programs, access to areas of the facility that are normally unavailable, exclusive lounges or meeting places, partnering opportunities with both for-profit and non-profit organizations, etc.

• Recognition of customers by name and genuine expressions of appreciation for their business is very important; recognizing loyal customers for their contribution not just to the company but to the community is especially important

5. Convenience to the Customer

• Respect for customers' time is paramount; the company that can provide the most valuable information to help customers comfortably make informed decisions in the least amount of time is the one that earns their loyal business

• Customers want the shopping and purchasing process to be easy; the company that develops processes that not only streamline the customer's experience but also make it enjoyable and fun will capture more of their customers' business

6. Consistency of Performance

• The organization must possess processes that enable all employees to deliver a consistent message of care and competence whenever customers interact with them; this must be true at all levels of the company and at all times in all ways with all customers

Implementing these six drivers of customer loyalty in creative ways will drive your business toward capturing a greater "share of mind" in your marketplace. When people think of your organization they will say, "what an awesome place to do business! Let's do it again!"

Ken Wallace, M. Div., CSL has been in the organizational development field since 1973. He is a seasoned consultant, speaker and executive coach with extensive business experience in multiple industries who provides practical organizational direction and support for business leaders. A professional member of the National Speakers Association since 1989, he is also a member of the International Federation for Professional Speaking and holds the Certified Seminar Leader (CSL) professional designation awarded by the American Seminar Leaders Association.

Ken is one of only eight certified Business Systems Coaches worldwide for General Motors.

His topics include ethics, leadership, change, communication & his unique Optimal Process Design® program.

Tel:(800)235-5690 Claim your free Leadership Self-Evaluation Checklist by visiting the Better Than Your Best website.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Investment On Returns

Writen by Laurie Brown

So there I stood, feeling incredibly stupid. Having waited in line for a few minutes to return a paperback copy of Harry Potter, which I realized I already owned once I brought it home, I stood face-to-face with the cashier. I looked over his shoulder and ready "Barnes and Nobles", I looked down at the imprint on my plastic bag "Waldenbooks". I paused , turned beet red and said "Oops, I am obviously in the wrong place". I started to turn and leave when he gently stopped me with the words "If we carry that book we would be happy to refund it for you". "Really???" I asked. "Sure no problem let me have a look". He determined that he already had 24 copies in stock and was more than happy to take one more. He handed me a credit card looking store credit, had me sign a receipt and that was that.

But that was not the end of the story. I was so blown away and so grateful I decided to go buy a CD. Now the CD was about twice what my refund was so I handed the card and the money and I took my CD and left

But that was still not the end of the story. As soon as I got out of the store I called my brother and 5 of my friends to tell them about this amazing customer service. And now of course I am telling you, too.

So let's look at this story and see what actually occurred. Barnes and Nobles made an "Investment on my Return". What exactly was the "cost" of this investment? Perhaps there was a cost for training the employee that taught him to act in this kind and generous way. But other than that it cost them nothing. Okay maybe there was some cost for restocking. They will surely sell that other copy. But then we need to reverse this formula and see what the Return on Investment was.

Here is where the real power of this theory is seen. They not only were repaid their initial outlay of $7.99, they received an additional $7.99 that I most surely would not have spent otherwise. They received free word of mouth advertising (which is far more powerful and effective than traditional advertising) and they created a loyal, raving fan customer.

"Returns" are often emotionally charged events. Think about it. People return things that "don't fit", that they "don't like" , that they "can't afford" , "wasn't what they expected", that are of "inferior quality", that" they don't need" or "they don't want"

For a lot of your customers returns are either embarrassing, filled with disappointment or frustration or at the very least a major inconvenience.

How you handle this touchy situation will impact on your customer's decision to continue doing business with you.

There are many stories going around about how Nordstrom would take anything in a return (including a car engine). Of course you don't have to go to that extreme to make your return policy fair, easy and effective.

What does it take to create a return atmosphere that will keep your customers coming back?

1. Create

Management needs to create a policy that is fair, easy and effective. Put yourself in your customer's shoes and make a decision that benefits them.

2. Train

Once you have your policy make sure that your employees understand what the policy is and how to implement it.

3. Empower

This may be the most essential element of the process. Empower your employee to "do the right thing" to "err" in favor of the customer. Then publicly stand behind that employee even if his or her decision goes beyond your policy. Take them aside privately and discuss and modify.

4. Educate

Your customers need to know your policy inside out. This is especially true if your business has strict regulations. If they need to have a receipt to return the product then it is best to say to the customer as they are checking our "Remember if you need to return this we require the receipt. Would you like it in the bag or would you like to have it?" Granted this will not guarantee that the customers will remember but it does help. Also have the return policy displayed at the check out line and on the receipt.

5. Bend within Reason

Rules are important, but customers are more important. Even with a strict return policy you need to be customer focused. Do what you can to help that customer with their need. Remember the Investment of Return.

Truly looking out for your customers best interest is actually in your best interest. Take a long hard look at your policy. Is it serving you and your customers? If not change it NOW!

Laurie Brown is an international speaker, trainer and consultant who works to help people improve their sales, service and presentation skills. She is the author of The Teleprompter Manual, for Executives, Politicians, Broadcasters and Speakers. Laurie can be contacted through http://www.thedifference.net, or 1-877.999.3433, or at lauriebrown@thedifference.net

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Importance Of Good Customer Support In Online Computer Peripherals Shops

Writen by Vinodh Pushparaj

Looking for hi-fi computer peripherals? Finding it tough to decide on the product you need to purchase? Not sure about the models that are available? Not sure about the configuration that would best suit your need? Worried that your budget might not fetch you your long dreamt hi-fi? Just relax!! There are many great world class online computer peripherals shopping centers. They offer you not only the best computer peripherals but also friendly online help in their world class online computer peripherals shopping sites. All that you have to do is to avail all the help you need in terms of the counseling you would require on the purchase of the right computer peripherals. These websites have always-available customer support agents' usually just one click away. The ones that are successful have provided exceptional customer support available online which is dedicated to make their customers feel delighted and satisfied. Because they have learnt the business mantra very well - Their success lies in their customers' satisfaction.

The main criterion you should look out when dealing with an online shop is whether the online customer support is designed to help the wary customers in product counseling and budget counseling. They should have trained agents who will be able to give you guidance on the computer peripherals that would best suit you. In terms of budget counseling, their agents should be able to choose the most cost effective solution for your need. Any good shop would train their online customer support agents out of their longstanding experience. Look out for the availability of online customer support agents who are readily available to resolve your billing related queries and your shipping related queries. These are the shops you should be buying the products as they can offer the needed assistance post sales.

You got to ask the following questions: What is special about their online computer peripheral site? Is it the price? Is it the quality of the products? Or is it something more than that that makes them popular? Apart from all these usually, it is something more than that, that makes them popular and the most sought after online computer peripheral stores. The website should make you feel important you are not left on your own to be lost in the complicated technical configurations and specifications of the products which often most of the users find difficult to translate it in terms of meeting their practical requirements. The online customer support agents should listen to your requirements and should be happy to counsel you on the product, configuration that would best suit your need.

The website should be flooded with the latest technology products which also maintain consistency in offering the latest technology customer support. Ages have changed and everyone is expected to move along with the time. The same applies for maintaining a website and keeping the customers happy. It requires dedication blended with a sense of service.

Though still used in many websites, customer support offered through telephone has become a headache for both the customers and the companies that offer the support. Making calls to toll free numbers and waiting for long minutes have become obsolete. We understand our customers better and are aware how tired and frustrated they feel about making calls just to hear a monotonous reply – "Your call is in queue please wait". Live chat customer support has changed the situation. Immediate response accompanied by valuable suggestions has become the specialty of having live chat customer support on websites. But this doesn't apply to all great websites as the toll free support is relatively good. You should look for a good customer support that you prefer, if you want phone, email, snail mail or chat you should look out for the shop that offers the right support like the one you prefer.

One good online Computer components and peripherals store that offers great support is the theredhotgroup.com. You can also take a look at the training packages offered in redhottraining.com.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Answering Services Help Make Customer Care A Top Priority

Writen by Tom Sample

The personal touch is often overlooked in this fast-paced computerized society. It seems there's just never enough time in a day to do everything that needs to be done and return every phone call that comes into a business. But, the most successful businesses know customer service must be a top priority. A 24-hour answering service can really help any business make sure the personal touch isn't overlooked. It can, however, only go so far.

Businesses that use a 24-hour answering service to ensure calls aren't missed are one step ahead of the competition, but their obligation doesn't stop there. It's important for any business to remember there are people on the other end of the line, people who want to spend money, get questions answered and so on. Without these people, no business will be successful. Businesses that view incoming calls as the lifeline for their success tend to do well.

Here are some tips for top-notch customer service, regardless of your field:

* Treat each customer or client as you'd want to be treated. This means showing respect and personal attention.

* Return all calls. Even if you can't answer a client or potential customer's questions, it's important to acknowledge the call. If no answers are forthcoming, tell the client you're working to get the answer and you'll get back with them as soon as possible. And, then of course, do this.

* Treat client's concerns as if they're your own, because they are. An unhappy client is perhaps the worst phone call a business can obtain, but that disgruntled call can be turned into a lifelong customer if the right customer service approach is used. Seek solutions, use courtesy in speaking with all clients - even angry ones - and try to turn those problems into solutions.

* Demonstrate good customer service even in house. Even your co-workers are technically your customers. When employees treat each other's requests with respect and expediency, an entire business can benefit. Don't overlook the importance of in house communication and customer service.

Picking up the phone and answering a client or customer call might seem like a pretty basic undertaking, but it's much more than that. Whether you use a call service around the clock, or you man your phones with an employee, those calls are links in to your business, links in that can produce big results or big problems. Good customer service begins with the people who work for you.

Make these things a priority:

* Handling each and every call with care, concern and expediency.

* Honesty and respect. When clients are treated with this, they'll come back when they need your services again. If they're not, they won't.

* In-house courtesy. Employees who work well together and help each other with basic tasks help improve morale, which is good for the entire operation, no matter what kind of business it is. Remind employees that co-workers are important, too, in the customer service chain.

It's not always possible to pick up the phone and answer every call yourself and this is where a good call service can really help. However, the service can only do so much for you. It's up to you and your employees to ensure those calls are returned and clients receive the personal attention they deserve.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Managing Your Business When One Client Takes Alot Of Your Time

Writen by Leila Johnson

How often has your schedule been thrown out of whack because of a client's needs?

I try to live by the 80/20 rule: working from my home office 80% of the time and working onsite with clients 20% of the time. But, the past week has been the exact opposite.

I had a demanding onsite project. I had to drive halfway across town and give up my weekend to help my client meet their deadline. Yeah, I know. It's time to get me some cheese to go with my whine.

You could think of this as "drowning in success". It's an interesting image. You're surrounded by good fortune – your clients need you, you're doing rewarding work, and, of course, you're getting paid. But, at the same time, you feel like you're drowning. You're so focused on how you're going to get through this stretch that it's easy to lose sight of your larger business goals.

When this happens, I have to put my situation in perspective. The following are 4 steps that help me to see the bigger picture.

1. Discuss your upcoming schedule with your business partner(s) and/or family members. You may have to reallocate some business or household responsibilities. Your business partner can continue to focus on marketing, searching for clients, and getting the word out. Your family can chip in by covering some of your chores. Brett and I are great about continuing to keep the business and household afloat when one of us gets too busy.

2. Be thankful for your current "problem". Acknowledge how busy you are right now. Then, think about what it's like when you're struggling to find clients. I know which "problem" I prefer.

3. Give yourself permission to relax. Sometimes when you're spending that much time on one client, you feel guilty about the other things you haven't had time to do. But, instead, set aside time to do something mindless. My guilty pleasure is my free money online poker game.

4. Leverage your current project.

  • Write a press release about the client you're working with. For added punch, include a quote from your client. It's a win-win.
  • Write a case study based on the work you did. You could include this with your marketing materials. Or, you could turn it into an article and submit to an industry magazine.

See you in the pool!

Leila Johnson co-owns Data-Scribe(tm) along with her husband Brett Johnson. The New Mexico-based firm empowers Micro-Businesses through technology, the written word & training. To get more tips like this, visit their Micro-Business E-Library or sign up for their Micro-Business Gazette at http://www.datascribe.biz.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

In Customers We Trust

Writen by Ron Kaufman

I was in Boston and wanted to buy a homeopathic remedy for my young daughter. At 9:10 pm I drove up to a local health food store, Bread & Circus.

The store closed at 9:00 pm and cash registers were sealed for the night. But the manager could see my concerned face through the glass door and let me step inside.

He listened to my concern, then walked down the aisle, picked up and handed me the $10.95 product I needed and said, 'You can come back and pay for it tomorrow'.

I was amazed. He asked for my name and telephone number, but when I said I lived outside the United States, he replied, 'Well, just come back in the morning and tell them what you got. We open at 9:00 am.'

I was back in the store the next morning with a grateful smile, and $10.95, and a big compliment for Mike, the night manager of Bread & Circus.

Key Learning Point

Statistics (and common sense) show that most customers are honest, appreciative and sincere. Yet organizations are filled with strict policies to foil the few who might try to cheat.

Make your business a place of caring, connection and trust. Those you serve in an open manner will gladly return the gesture.

Action Steps

The next time your customer is in a tight spot, forgot his wallet, needs something extra now with only a promise for later, create a powerful and positive impression.

Take action on this oath: 'In customers we trust'.

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 http://www.UpYourService.com 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 http://www.RonKaufman.com.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

If Everyone Thinks They Give Good Service Why Do We As Customers Think Its Poor

Writen by Tim Stokes

First of all let's look at what customer service is all about.

If you go into a shop and talk to anyone who works there you expect to be treated with respect, not sold to and to have en enjoyable experience.

Often that isn't the case, in fact we're often not spoken to at all, or we're asked the silly question, 'can I help you', which virtually everyone knee-jerks an answer to with, 'no thanks, I'm just looking'.

We want help, but funnily enough we don't want to admit it. We need an education on what it is we're buying so we can be confident with out buying decision, but we don't like to admit we're dumb or don't know anything to the sales assistant. So we have a dilemma!

Then if we do find someone who we feel wants to help us, then often we don't relate to them as a person and so we don't have a good emotional experience.

A good emotional experience is what great customer service is all about. Poor or satisfactory service is where you get an average experience that doesn't make you 'feel' better than you did before you went to the store.

The difference between satisfactory and poor service is the difference between the emotions experienced in the buying process.

Let's face it. There are two types of service we experience that we will tell people about PRO-ACTIVELY.

Very bad service, or outstanding service! Typically we have forgotten about the business and persona we have just bought from in about 5 seconds after leaving. Do you think that is conducive to getting a customer to give you lots of referrals?

It all comes down to making your customer feel better than they did before they purchased from you. So customer service...a major part of sales...is really this...

Emotional Upliftment!

What sort of emotions do you want to help your customers to experience?

Confidence, happiness, friendship, joy, removal of fear, reduction of apprehension, or a combination of any of these.

Now let's look at how you can have you customers experience any of these emotions.

First of all we need to understand a couple of proven principles. The first one is that 80% of the population has a fear of sales people. They don't trust them, they don't really like them and they are worried about being ripped off by one of them.

Why do I say this? Because I have asked hundreds of sales people in sales training seminars that I conduct what their beliefs about sales people are. And 80% of sales people believe sales people are liars, rip off merchants, just want you money, talk to much etc. etc. It may seem had to believe, but ask yourself the same question, what do you believe about sales people and see what your own answers are!

So if we as customers believe this about sales people, we're already on the defensive before the sales person opens their mouth. That's often why we tell them, 'we're right, we're just looking'. It's better than saying, 'we don't know anything about the product we'd like to buy but we have the money to buy it and I am sure you will help us to make an informed decision today to buy'.

So to be effective in customer service we must understand people have a basic fear and distrust of sales people, and they think any person who talks to them from any business they want to buy from has sales people. Can you see the Dilemma?

So here's what you need to do to develop outstanding customer service, in the customer's eyes...

Stop being anything like a typical 'sales person'!

Don't say things to customers every other sales person says, instead of saying, 'hi can I help you', why not say, 'hi have you been into our store before?'

You'll be starting off on the right foot and it will sound like you genuinely want to help them!

Then ask questions and keep asking questions, because what do 'sales people' do? They "tell" people what to think and give their "opinion". How much do you think the opinion matters of someone you already think is a liar?

That my friend is the secret to sales, don't be a sales person! Be anything but a "sales person". Be the opposite to everything a typical sales person is, as defined by a customer and your sales and customer service will increase dramatically, and of course so will your profits!

Tim Stokes is a master communicator. He teaches small business owners how to give customers a strong emotional uplifting experience.

Tim's results speak for themselves with clients increasing sales by 357% in 30 days, others selling 50% more at 30% higher prices. This information he touches on briefly above has incredible power when applied to any business no matter what product or service it sells.

Tim Stokes is available for help with your customer service or sales process so visit his website to learn more, at http://www.bbms.com.au

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

We Got It Wrong Never Under Promise Amp Over Deliver

Writen by Debbie Jenkins

You know how it is, you believe something for so long, everyone agrees with you, all the books tell you it's true and then suddenly you have a blinding revelation - we've all been duped! You know like my gorilla mates were? (If you're not sure about my gorilla mates then you really need to read the book - we've got a great offer on at the moment!)

And you feel such a chump - how did I ever fall for that - the logic just isn't there - I must have been a fool. Let me explain.

"Under Promise & Over Deliver"

You know the old saying "Under Promise & Over Deliver"? - well, here's the idea behind it.

Buyers these days are ever more ready to complain when something isn't to their liking (yes, even in the UK!) Customers are prepared to walk if you don't deliver when you said you would. Clients are mobile and promiscuous and will change supplier if they can get better service.

So in order to meet these demands, for the last 20 years or so, we've all been applying the mantra "Under Promise & Over Deliver" - for example, tell them the job that'll take 10 days will take 12 and then wow them when you deliver ahead of schedule.

Now, in theory this sounds great - your client can't fail to be impressed at your over delivery! Or can they?

Big Mistake

Now, think about it for a little longer. Mr client comes along and you promise to deliver the project by 2pm on Tuesday, even though you know you can get it finished by Friday. Hey, that gives you the weekend to reflect, Monday morning to add the polish and you can deliver it on Monday afternoon. A great under-promised and over-delivered job! But what actually happens?

The client is delighted - you delivered a day early. But then Mr Client has a few fleeting thoughts; did this mean it wasn't such a complicated project as you'd said? Or could you have actually got it finished by Friday? Perhaps you've over charged him?

Because he's happy you did what you said and within the time scale, he pushes his doubts to the back of his mind.

However, the client now learns to "expect" (that's his job) the service you created in your fantastic under promised way. So, he gives you another project. You give him a timescale and price, again under-promising so you can confidently over deliver with a big smile on your face. The client remembers his thoughts from the last project and asks you to "try a bit harder" on the timescale. You do, because hey, you like the guy. He was really grateful last time.

And so, the next time Mr Client asks you to do something he expects it to be done as fast and efficient and for the same price as before - now he won't be impressed by your over-delivery - this is just his expectation.

And sadly, when you deliver on time and in budget, Mr Client wonders why it took so long. He wonders if he pushed a little harder he could get your price down or your timescale shortened. And he pushes, and he pushes...

You've taught your client that you can do it faster than you've told him. The doubts are there. He wonders if you've lied to him! The shame of it!

And what happens if something goes wrong - if you can't deliver in the real timescale - or the price escalates? Or someone lets you down, or the goalposts change?

The Issues

Now, the issues are a little more wide ranging than the example above.

Some of our clients are even saying that these days in order to get a chance of winning work they have to make big promises (and then work out how to deliver on them ;-)

Quite often the client needs to do her bit to make the project run well - and she'll have her own clients and other things to do!

Increasingly, you're not working on a project in isolation, there may be other suppliers in the equation

This can all lead to dissatisfaction for everyone involved.

So, What's The Answer

Well, taking everything into account, you still need to make promises to your customers, but the answer is in the details. The answer lies in understanding what's important to the client and working with the client to make sure that you can deliver on that. Then over deliver on something you have complete control over.

In our course "Coaches Can!" we talk about the difference between control and influence.

So before I let you into our secret, I'd just like to clarify the difference between Control & Influence. To me, misunderstanding the difference between that which you can control and that which you can merely influence is the biggest reason for client disappointment and feelings of failure.

Control VS Influence (Outcomes and Intentions)

That which is beyond your immediate and complete manipulation is not, whether we like it or not, within our control. So what is within our control?

* Our Emotions and Motivation (although not all of us accept this)

* Our Response To Outside Influences (although not all of us accept this either)

* The Direction We Take In Life

* Every Action We Take

* The Way We Communicate

* What We Say and Do and Promise

* What We Choose To Believe or Ignore

* Inanimate Objects & Tools We Use

Everything else that is outside of us (especially other animals/humans) we can only influence. Here are some examples of things you can only influence...

* Whether Someone Likes You

* Whether People Will Buy

* What Other People Find Important

* Whether People Believe You

* Convincing Someone of Something

* Getting Someone to Do Something (even if you're a hypnotist)

Sure, you can exert enough influence that it seems like control. If someone held a gun to your head, they could probably influence you to do a lot of things. But despite that, they couldn't get you to think different things or feel differently about something because they still only have influence.

Finally, there are some things we have no direct control or influence over... such as the weather, space, time, where we start out in life, but there's no benefit dwelling on the things we cannot do - because it's more empowering to focus on what we can do.

The Solution

You cannot control how your clients feel, but you can influence this. You need to concentrate on explaining the value, rather than the cost. Understanding their real requirements, rather than the standard trotted out time and budget ones. You need to work out what you are in control of and what you can merely influence. And then you need to Over Promise & Deliver on the Promise on those things that are in your control.

Simple ;-)

Speak Soon,

'Dangerous' Debbie Jenkins

(c) Copyright 2005 www.BookShaker.com

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Monday, September 22, 2008

How To Boost Your Bottom Line With Two Little Words

Writen by Tim Knox

I hate to sound like one of those cheesy get-rich-quick commercials, but this week I am going to let you in on a little secret that is so powerful that it will immediately change the way you do business.

In fact, this little secret is so powerful that you will be amazed at its immediate effect on you, your employees, and your bottom line. This little secret is guaranteed to improve your relationship with current customers and if used wisely, can get you lots of new customers without spending a dime on marketing or advertising.

Do want to know what this little secret is?

Before I let the cat out of the bag let me ask you one question: What are the two little words you can say to every customer that will immediately endear them to your business and guarantee that they will be your customers for life?

OK, here goes: the little secret is this; whenever you have contact with your customers, whether it's in person, or by phone, fax or email, always use their name. Likewise the answer to my question: what two little words can drive your business through the roof: your customer's name.

When you use a customer's name the business experience becomes personal. And when the business experience becomes personal your customer becomes vested in the relationship and thereby becomes your friend. When you use the customer's name they become as concerned about your success as you are.

At the sound of his or her name your customer becomes your champion. They will toot your horn and defend your honor. They will recommend you to their friends and be loyal to you to the end, even when they can get the same product or service elsewhere for less money.

Unfortunately, 99% of business owners and especially their employees fail to realize the importance of personalizing the business relationship. While they are happy to take my hard-earned dollars, most businesses could care less what my name is. That's why so many businesses fail: they see their customers as numbers, not names. The 1% of businesses that understand the impact of personalizing the business experience are the ones that will flourish for many years to come.

Case in point: I'm the one at my office who goes through the mail every day, pulls out the checks, opens the envelopes, signs the checks, makes out the deposit slip, and takes the deposit to the bank. Sure, I could have someone else do this for me, but making the bank deposit is my absolute favorite thing about being an entrepreneur. Seeing numbers on a deposit slip validates my efforts. It is proof that I am doing something right.

So I go to the bank a lot. So much so that the young lady at the drive through, whose name is Karen, knows me on sight and always seems genuinely happy to see me pull up.

"How are you today, Mr. Knox," she always ask.

I can be in the lousiest mood of my life, but when I hear my name come through that speaker my mood immediately brightens. I always smile and chirp back: "I'm fine, Karen, how are you?"

And it's even better if I have someone in the car with me. I have gone through that drive through with business partners and customers in my car and when they hear "How are you today, Mr. Knox?" they are highly impressed, simply because Karen used my name.

"Wow," they always mutter. "They know you here, huh."

"Yep," I say proudly, ego adequately stroked. "I have all my accounts here: personal and business checking, savings, lines of credit, merchant account. This is the best dang bank on the planet. In fact, you should move all your accounts here…"

Over the years I have probably recommended a dozen new customers to this bank, just because Karen, the wonderful drive-through teller who understands the value of good customer relations, uses my name every time I drive in.

Here's another example of how using a customer's name can add dollars to your bottom line. I was in Kansas City recently and stopped in at a Ruth's Chris Steakhouse for dinner. When I asked for a table the host asked for my name before showing me to a table.

A few minutes later a young man came by to fill my water glass and asked, "Can I get you an iced tea, Mr. Knox?"

The host had obviously told the waiter my name and the waiter used it immediately to make me feel at home. A few minutes later another young man delivered bread to my table and said, "Here's your bread, Mr. Knox."

Before the night was over four different service people had visited my table and each used my name in a respectful manner. By the end of the meal I had spent $75 on dinner and dropped another $50 on tips.

Was it because the food was delicious? In part, but primarily it was because I felt like I had just had dinner with friends.

And do you think I now tell everyone I meet about this restaurant with the great food and the amazing service?

I'm telling you about it, aren't I?

Here's to your success!

Tim Knox

Tim serves as the president and CEO of three successful technology companies and is the founder of DropshipWholesale.net, an online organization dedicated to the success of online and eBay entrepreneurs.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Customer Service Leads To Customer Loyalty

Writen by Jay Conners

All customers want and expect superior customer service, and it is all too important that we give it to them. Otherwise, our competition will.

Your customer doesn't want to be treated like another statistic along an assembly line. They want to be treated with respect. It is very important that your customer realizes just how important their business is to you.

Imagine if you were a daily customer at a bank, restaurant, or some other establishment. And every day that you walked in, a sales associate would take care of your business, than hurry you out the door, without so much as a hi, bye, or even making eye contact for that matter.

Okay, so you don't necessarily go to these places to make new friends, but you would think that the experience could be just a little bit positive.

Maybe this isn't enough to make someone take their business elsewhere. However, it just might if they were approached by your competition, and your competition gave them an idea of just how the grass can be greener on the other side, and managed to swipe that customer from you. And if they did, would you even realize it?

The most important thing to your customer when doing business is customer service. People want to be treated with respect. They want to be addressed by name, they want their phone calls returned, and they want their problems resolved in a timely fashion.

Customer service, believe it or not, is more important to people than the amount of the product, or the over all fees' they have to pay.

So before you discuss pricing, give them great customer service up front.

When I was in banking, I had an elderly couple take their business to a new bank that just opened across the street offering all kinds of special promotions at their grand opening. They happened to be very good customers of mine, and they were sad to go. They told me that the new bank was able to offer them the same products I could, except the products were free.

I told them that although the products may be free, they would never experience the customer service there that they received here.

They understood, but left by telling me that it just made economic sense for them to leave.

A month later, they came back. Needless to say, they were not happy with the other bank's customer service.

I wasn't at all surprised and was only too happy to have them back.

Excellent customer service is a great way to build customer relationships, and also build customer loyalty.

When I say customer loyalty, I mean they won't be so quick to jump ship when approached by your competitor.

People love to have the peace of mind that whatever product or service they have with you is secure with you. They like knowing that if ever there is a problem, or if they have a question, you will be there to resolve their issue, regardless of what it may be.

Excellent customer service also leads to loyalty because if your customers like the way you treat them, they will be happy to refer their friends and family to you.

Providing excellent customer service to gain loyalty is quite easy. People love to be greeted by name along with a smile. They love to have their problems resolved quickly, so make sure they know that they can depend on you. They like to have their phone calls returned, so return them.

Customer service is key to retaining your customers, and obtaining all of their business. It is also a great way to obtain referrals from them.

Trust me, treat your customers the way you would treat your friends or family and they will stick with you forever, and provide you with a lot of business. Good luck.

This article may be reproduced by anyone at any time, as long as the author's name and reference links are kept in tact and active.

Jay Conners has more than fifteen years of experience in the banking and Mortgage Industry, He is the owner of http://www.jconners.com, a mortgage resource site, he is also the owner of http://www.callprospect.com, a mortgage lead company.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

They Cared The Story Of Delta Air Lines And Katrina

Writen by Lawrence D. Elliott

As we watched the horrific pictures of the Katrina victims in various parts of the gulf, and in particular the sad and sometimes infuriating pictures of those stranded in New Orleans, it never occurred to me that there would be anything good we could see come out of this. Almost an entire city destroyed, countless lives lost, and other lives changed forever. And as I received word that we had family members involved in the nightmare, that belief seemed to be reinforced. But there was a beautiful light at the end of this dark tunnel.

The outpouring of help that came from this situation was something that one has to experience at least once in a lifetime to renew one's faith in humanity. Family, friends, friends of friends, even strangers, rushed to the rescue of not only my family, but members of countless other families in the face of this tragedy. Our gratefulness cannot be measured and the gifts of love will always be treasured.

But there was one act of kindness that was definitely surprising…and welcomed! There were 17 members of the family who had lost virtually everything. Of that number, five members were stranded in Mississippi without any means of transportation. They had fled their homes with almost nothing but the clothes on their backs. We had to get them to San Diego to my sister DiAnna's home where they could try to pull their lives together. We just had to find a way.

Money was pooled together, thanks to the kind assistance of many generous people. We thought about the bus, but that wouldn't work. They were not running. Then, my hardworking sister discovered another route: Delta Air Lines. She discovered Delta was discounting their flights for Katrina victims trying to get to the safety of their families. Whatever they could do would have been welcomed and my wife Lisa and I were prepared to make up the difference. They just had to find transportation to Jackson, which was 90 minutes away.

To our comfort, the Delta representative—Margaret—was an angel. Delta was able to discount their normal ticket fee by over 85%! That was more than anyone could have reasonably expected! After all, Delta is a business and their primary concern, as all businesses should be, is with profit. Their job is to deliver the best service at a profit. But in a disaster, when the choice came down to lives versus making a profit, they chose lives in this situation. I was impressed and there is definitely a moral and business lesson to be learned from their choice.

There is an old business adage that every salesperson has heard in seminars, sales meetings, and training courses: People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. I don't think I will ever hear that phrase again without thinking about the kindness shown to us by Delta Air Lines. Sometimes, you have to put profit aside—even if partly—when it is necessary to serve your customer. They will appreciate it and they will never forget it. Why? Because they know you care.

Thank you, Margaret and Delta Air Lines. You cared!

Lawrence D. Elliott has been a Realtor® for over 16 years and provides professional representation for clients in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, and Riverside counties. He can be reached direct at 1-888-810-SOLD. He also runs a network of real estate web sites, which can be accessed through his main site at http://www.LawrenceElliott.com

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Customer Service For The Airlines

Writen by Lance Winslow

Customer service for the airlines is so important these days because the weary traveler is already upset with the treatment, heightened security at the airports and the cut backs of meals on planes and other amenities. What can an airline do to increase customer service to insure a pleasurable flying experience these days?

Surely they can do something seeing as staff has been cut at the ticket counters, baggage and ground crews to save costs and keep the airline flying. A better attitude would also be nice although this is also tough with pensions being raided, lay off announcements and increasing fuel costs meaning the money will be made up somewhere, probably including pay decreases, lessened benefits or less sick time.

No matter what if the airlines do not have good customers they will watch their best customers migrate to other airlines and that means disaster down the road. Currently, we see customer service awards being awarded to Delta Airlines even though there pilots have taken a pay cut and may lose part of their pensions. Even though the company has cut back on the number of in-flight meals and other services, airline travelers still rate them very high.

How are they able to do this? Surely the competition is asking themselves the same thing, as they assumed that Delta Airlines would go out of business leaving more routes open for them. It seems the employees have taken it upon themselves to offer exceptional customer service and they're going to help the airline come out of the nose-dive. It is amazing what you can do with customer service if the employees have by-in and truly care. Consider all this in 2006.

"Lance Winslow" - Online Think Tank forum board. If you have innovative thoughts and unique perspectives, come think with Lance; http://www.WorldThinkTank.net/wttbbs/

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Customer Service And The Truth About Happy Customers

Writen by Lance Winslow

All entrepreneurs who run their own small companies believe that they have the greatest customer service and yet if they were to survey their customers they might find out the truth about exactly how happy their customers actually are. When doing surveys for customer service for small businesses I am always amazed at the difference between what the entrepreneur thinks about his own customer service and what the customers actually think.

Another interesting point is that many customers who no longer do business with the company had a bad experience with customer service and rather than telling the company about it they told 20 of their best friends about the poor customer service they received. These customers generally will not participate in customer surveys because they are no longer customers or because they are not the type of person who would bother to fill-out a survey.

Your company's customer service and the truth about happy customers may be completely different and perspective based. From the customer's point of view they think you're customer service is lousy and from your point of view you believe you are doing the most you can possible and still make a profit.

It is amazing the little things you can do to improve your customer service, which will change the customer's view. Sometimes it is merely a smile on the face of the person behind the counter. I want you to go home and think about this tonight and consider what I have said. Thank you very much.

"Lance Winslow" - Online Think Tank forum board. If you have innovative thoughts and unique perspectives, come think with Lance; http://www.WorldThinkTank.net/wttbbs/

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

How To Beat Those Automatic Telephone Answering Systems

Writen by David Carter

Surely one of the biggest bugbears of the modern age are those automated telephone answering systems that try to answer your telephone calls, but rarely actually do. It seems to make no difference whether you are trying to speak to your bank, a utility company, or any large corporation, you are almost certain to be faced with a computer inviting you to make a selection. Press 3, and on and on.

Only yesterday when trying to obtain some service on my crackly telephone line I was invited to press a certain digit. After leaping over no less than eight separate hurdles I was finally assailed with this glorious message, "we are experiencing a larger than usual number of calls at present, and cannot immediately take your call. Please try again later!"

Perhaps if seemingly half the population weren't chasing themselves around these computerised mazes of infuriating messages like crazed rats in a wheel, the company in question wouldn't have been fielding so many calls in the first place. Whatever happened to personalised company service anyway? If I ran a small business in that fashion my customers would soon let me know about it, so how come the big boys can get away with it like this?

However, all is not bad news because there are now flourishing new services from alert businesses offering "cheats" and advice on how to confuse and get by these infuriating messages. One of the simplest is when you are first invited to press 1, or whatever digit it might be, that you do nothing. The theory is that the computer then believes that you are ringing from a phone that is not a touchtone, and simply passes you through directly to a human being. Another regular cheat when you first get through is to press "zero hash" three times at speed, that sometimes works, or failing that try "*" repeatedly, perhaps ten times, and then followed by a zero.

There are even web sites out there now that specialise in providing the latest cheat information, and if it is important to you that you receive personal human service quickly, then they are well worth keeping an occasional eye on. One such site is www. paulenglish.com/ivr though there are several others, and these provide regularly updated information on how to skip by those computerised nonsenses on both sides of the Atlantic.

Of course the ultimate answer would be for the big corporations to make a return to providing actual human customer service, but unfortunately that seems unlikely, because they are expensive to staff and maintain, and many of these giant organisations have discovered that they can get away with offering a minimum standard of service. In that case, I invite you to do what I do, move your account to someone else, someone who will provide a decent service, for there are still businesses out there who will do so, though regretfully they are becoming harder and harder to find.

David Carter's latest published work is SPLAM! Successful Property Letting And Management. Splam! contains over 240 pages of hints and tips on how to start your own property business on a limited budget, and how to successfully let residential property. You can view actual extracts of the book at http://www.splam.co.uk and order a download or a hard copy at this site or you can go direct to the publishers at http://www.lulu.com/dc He also runs a holiday cottage website where you can access over 7,000 holiday cottages, apartments and villas worldwide at http://www.pebblebeachmedia.co.uk Don't you deserve a holiday? Well of course you do! You can contact David on any matter any time at supalife@aol.com

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

An Open Letter To Weis Markets

Writen by Susan Stamm

I have discovered that there are many little things that make moving to a new home a rich experience. Simple changes such as finding a new place to get your groceries can be an amazing journey of discovery. This was the case for me when we moved just far enough away from my favorite grocer to require a back up store closer to my new home. Welcome to Weis Markets.

My welcome to Weis was an unforgettable experience. As I stepped out of my car for that first visit and my foot touched the parking lot it landed in chewing gum. Gum in a parking lot can really happen to any business, but this lot looked grimy. I guess with 157 stores though, that is a "lot" of parking lots to keep up with, and I am sure that Weis is too busy to care about one customer with gum on their shoes.

On my first and subsequent visits, I was amazed to find that all but one of the cashiers were bagging or teaching customers how to use the self-service scanning devices at every register forcing any customers not willing to wait for the one and only human cashier to check out their groceries themselves. I even asked a manager about this, but was told they could not find enough employees. I was really curious about the ones that were already working there, but this did not seem to go anywhere with the manager who seemed to have more important things to do than talk to customers. Perhaps I am old fashioned, but having a human at a register is one of the last few services left that I am ready to give up.

So, I wait in the long line with the one human who is paid to run the register. Opps, Can you help me? I forgot my "Weis Store Card." What? You can't ring it on a generic store card like my favorite old store use to do for me? I have to wait in line at customer service so they can look it up? You can't even call them on your phone for me? Oh, you don't have a phone at your register, do you? Gee that makes it a bit hard to help customers doesn't it?

As I wait for ten minutes in the "Customer Service line" staffed by one frazzled employee, who is providing a whole host of services, I realize that 9000 employees is far too many to train and besides they won't work for Weis long enough to make the investment in training worthwhile. What does it matter if you loose customers like me who drop an average of $120 per weekly visit into the one register staffed by a human. Who cares if I refuse, even in an emergency, to go to Weis and instead drive 12-15 minutes to the Oregon Dairy, where there are always humans who will ring me up on the "store card" and go out of their way to help me. Once they even sent me home with several bags of groceries and an IOU when I forgot to make a deposit and my bank card came up insufficient funds!! How does the Oregon Dairy do it anyway? They are a single store operation but charge the same prices as Weis and can actually afford to staff all those registers with humans? And where do they find all those employees just 15 minutes away? Something sure is fishy here. It must be the shrimp sale at the Oregon Dairy. I think I will stop by seafood and pick up a few pounds.

Susan Stamm joined her husband as a Partner in their firm "The TEAM Approach" - http://www.teamapproach.com 17 years ago and claims that they are still best friends! She and Rick Stamm offer many more articles on teamwork topics at their blog:


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Monday, September 15, 2008

Effective Customer Communication

Writen by Jonathon Hardcastle

Organizations are open dynamic systems for transforming resource inputs into saleable outputs (goods & services). They are created to provide useful products and services that satisfy the needs of customers and provide value to stakeholders. But the interests of various stakeholders (whether employees, customers, suppliers, or stakeholders) are not always aligned. This places conflicting pressures and demand on managers.

To maintain organizational viability, managers seek to navigate competitive environmental forces and work to achieve goals in the areas of productivity, satisfaction, and revitalization. One of the realities of life in organizations is that today's effective practices are not likely to suffice tomorrow. Whether pulled by the success of growth or jolted by crisis and downturn, managers must periodically transform the system to adapt to environmental realities. In the process of transformation, managers can target changes in the key internal resources such as tasks, technology, organization, people, and culture. Maintaining a dynamic balance among these resources is what human resources management is all about. Particularly, in order to analyze the changes that occur to an organization's strategy, structure, and culture, due to consumer demand, the human resource management communication framework becomes the dominant tool.

Effective communication is essential for transmitting directives, building co-operation and team spirit, optimizing performance and satisfaction, and avoiding and solving problems. Formal communication channels flow in downward, upward, and horizontal directions. Informal networks, essential for any contemporary business unit, are extremely useful as the need to tap into current feelings and reactions of employees, apart of customers, is evident. Thus, messages need to be encoded carefully so that they clearly communicate intentions, feelings, and expectations. Then these should be sent through the most appropriate channels, and feedback should be solicited from the receiver to be sure that the message was decoded as intended.

Such barriers as frames of reference, value judgments, selective listening, filtering and distrust complicate the internal and external communication systems of companies. They can be overcome by sending clear, complete, and specific messages. Demonstrating expertise, clarifying intentions, being reliable and dynamic can enhance credibility, exhibiting warmth and friendliness, and building a positive image. Soliciting and providing specific feedback can also enhance communication effectiveness.

One of the most important consumer satisfaction elements is the ability to ask questions and being able to receive appropriately answers from company executives. Gaining information, uncovering motives, giving incentives, obtaining participation, checking understanding, initiating the thinking process, inducing agreements, and refocusing attention, are all essential components of an effective consumer communication plan. Thus, employees' active listening skills assist a company to build rapport with customers and help them obtain the relevant information they need.

Moreover, body language is useful both in reading the emotions and attitudes of customers and in reinforcing an employee's verbal messages. Understanding vocal qualities can enhance the reading of other people's messages by a company's employees and help them to project their own, more effectively.

Concluding, due to the growing complexity and turbulence of the business environment and the related growth in research knowledge about customer behavior patterns, managers of the 21st century have to take four themes as paramount; the necessity of managing the challenges of change; functioning within a global environment; being sensitive to the diversity among people; and behaving with ethical integrity.

Jonathon Hardcastle writes articles on many topics including Consumer Information, Finance, and Business

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Whos In Control Of Your Customer Service

Writen by Kenneth Wallace

Make the Process Visible

In the 1960's, when the fast food industry was brand new, most restaurants had a wall between the order counter and the kitchen. Customers didn't know how their food was being prepared or how long it would take (or if it had been pre-prepared and resting under heat lamps awaiting an order).

In the seventies, some restaurants took down the wall so that customers could see who was preparing their food, how it was being prepared and about how long it would take. This gave customers psychological control of the "order-to-delivery" process by making it visible: if customers wished, they could see the process and thereby be mentally involved in it every step of the way. This gave them the feeling of control without actually being in control of the process.

There are several ways you can make your sales process visible for your customers and give them the feeling of control that is so important to them.

Provide your customers with a small, concise booklet which gives a thumbnail sketch (maybe even a colorful flowchart) of each of the steps in your sales process. This booklet should also contain an approximate time the entire process should take as well as the value of each step for the customer. If you don't think through your sales process in these terms from your customers' point of view, how can you expect them to want to go with you, a stranger, into unfamiliar territory? They will find many ways to resist your efforts to take them "down the road" to the sale.

Hyundai gives its retail sales personnel colorful and graphic-intensive booklets which provide a brief explanation of each of the sales process steps. Customers can quickly read and easily understand the "Big Picture" of what they're about to go through. They also learn of the sales person's commitment to developing a long-term relationship with the customer to ensure complete ownership experience satisfaction.

Customers are given a sense of control of the process when they know what all is involved, how long it will take and what value there is for them all along the way.

Use the P.T. Barnum method of communication throughout your sales process: "Tell 'em what you're going to tell 'em; Tell 'em; then, Tell 'em what you told 'em." When prospects know what to expect, they will be much more willing to give you their time and attention; they will also feel much more comfortable and confident in taking every step of the sale process with you..

For many years, automobile manufacturers have been conducting ongoing, in-depth research to keep abreast of customer wants, needs and expectations. Hyundai Corporation has determined that there are nine "core values," or "needs," that customers want honored every time they interact with the dealership:

1. Need to feel in control.

2. Need to be treated professionally and respectfully.

3. Need for consultative guidance.

4. Need to feel comfortable and confident.

5. Need to feel valued.

6. Need to have an ongoing relationship.

7. Need for quality product.

8. Need for quality, personalized experience.

9. Need for "value added" experience.

These "core values" are not unique to automotive customers. In fact, they are what any retail customer interacting with any business wants, needs and expects.

The first customer "core value" is: "Need to feel in control." Read it carefully: It says, "need to feel in control" not, "need to be in control." In the sales process, if you are meeting the prospect for the first time, it is crucial how you greet him/her. Whether or not you get to move closer to the sale depends upon how well you take this initial step.

However, most prospective customers make it difficult for you to take that first step with flair and confidence. Retail shoppers across the country have "loaded their lips" in preparation to fire off the usual response familiar to sales professionals everywhere: "No thanks, I'm just looking."

It is my belief that the primary reason people respond this way (no matter what question the sales person asks) is because they don't want to be led into unfamiliar territory by someone they don't know and don't yet trust. Customers know that sales professionals have an agenda in talking with them in a retail setting. It's not the fact of having an agenda that bothers most people; rather, it's not knowing what the content of the agenda is.

At the beginning of any sales process, every customer has at least the following questions in mind, even if they're not consciously aware of it:

1. What are the steps of the process you will be taking me through?

2. How long will the process take?

3. What's in it for me to go through this process with you?

When you answer these three questions at the beginning of the sales process, you have given the prospect the feeling of control of the process. Even though you are the one in control of the process, the prospect feels in control by being aware of exactly what the process is, where they are in relation to all the other steps, what's coming next and what the value in each of the steps is for him/her.

When you can answer these three questions at the beginning of the sales process, you will be well on your way to making both a sale and a very happy customer.

Ken Wallace, M. Div., CSL has been in the organizational development field since 1973. He is a seasoned consultant, speaker and executive coach with extensive business experience in multiple industries who provides practical organizational direction and support for business leaders. A professional member of the National Speakers Association since 1989, he is also a member of the International Federation for Professional Speaking and holds the Certified Seminar Leader (CSL) professional designation awarded by the American Seminar Leaders Association.

Ken is one of only eight certified Business Systems Coaches worldwide for General Motors.

His topics include ethics, leadership, change, communication & his unique Optimal Process Design® program.

Tel:(800)235-5690 Claim your free Leadership Self-Evaluation Checklist by visiting the Better Than Your Best website.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

How To Overcome The Fear Of Making A Phonecall

Writen by Abe Cherian

We spend almost every waking moment on the phone. We're on the phone in the car and in the grocery store, sitting in meetings and standing in line, at ball games and concerts. We cannot tolerate being out of the loop or spending time quietly with ourselves. Yet the cry continues from small business owners, sales associates, and customer service representatives that they hate to make calls.

Here are a few of their reasons and a suggestion of how to overcome the fear.

The fear of being rejected- With so many sales gurus out there, we really believe that the buyer has to say NO six times before they will buy. Their great plan is for us to make so many calls that we have to average a couple of Yes's a day.

The fear of being interrupted- Nothing has impacted how we treat sales calls more than the telemarketing industry. The number one complaint I hear is that they want to read the entire script, with appropriate pauses for emphasis, without taking a breath. Interrupting them will only make them start over.

So don't read to your prospects. You don't get interrupted in a conversation. Get the buyer involved in the dialogue early. And don't think those cleverly crafted questions that can only be answered YES count. Identify the real decision maker, the need, the timing, and the budget by sharing information. Give your prospect permission to add to the conversation. When you aren't doing all the talking, you may find time to listen. Remember, though, listening is more than waiting for your turn to talk.

The fear of seeming unorganized- Do you dial a number without having the file open on your computer or on your desk? Have you taken a moment to familiarize yourself with the account, the last purchase, or the last requested action? If there was a previous misunderstanding or error, have you verified the outcome and the customer's satisfaction?

The person who makes the call controls the call. Don't ask prospects to call you back. They may catch you at an inopportune time when your mind is on something else. You may not be able to fight back the urge to put them on hold while you locate the information that you were calling about earlier. Or worse, you could confuse them with another buyer. Organize your thoughts and information before the contact is made.

The fear of not knowing the answer- No one has to know everything about everything. Have you ever watched a computer genius? There is more button pushing and screen hopping and cable repositioning than one can bear to watch. Afterwards, I don't have any idea what he did and I'm not sure that he does, either. But now it works.

You have permission to learn something new every day. How you stall for time is what separates the professionals from the fearfuls. "That's a good question. Do you have a minute to hold while I verify that for you?" "I may need to research that. Are you able to hold or may I call you back?" "No one has ever asked me that before. Would you give me the opportunity to look into this on your behalf?" Prospects, customers, patients, and clients would much rather give you time to check on their questions than have you simply hazard a guess. Know It All - not at all.

The fear of taking it personally- Do you think that problems go away if you ignore them? Recently, I arrived to view the proofs of our family photographs. The clerk greeted me with, "They're not in, yet." What do you mean they are not in? This is my appointed time. "Well, they were held up yesterday and they're not in, yet. It isn't my fault." When did you know the pictures were going to be late? "Yesterday, but I was still hoping they'd be here. Yours aren't the only ones. Is there a number I can call when they get in?" Wouldn't yesterday have been the appropriate time to make the call?

No one wants to be the bearer of bad news. However, letting the customer know what is happening and what you're doing about it before it becomes an inconvenience gets you huge payback in loyalty.

Abe Cherian is the founder of Multiple Stream Media, a company that helps online businesses find new prospects and clients, who are anxious to grow their business fast, and without spending a fortune in marketing and automation. http://www.freehomebusinesstips.com

If you wish to find a suitable home business or learn how to start your own business from your home visit Free Home Business Tips: http://www.freehomebusinesstips.com

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Moment Of Truth Or Moment Of Impact

Writen by Ron Kaufman

Moments of truth are all those times when customers experience and evaluate your service. Work hard, do a good job, and customers will come back for more.

Moments of impact are those rare moments when someone goes way above the call of duty, stretches the envelope far beyond the stamp, innovates and takes action in unexpected ways that are valued, appreciated…and remembered.

A client at a seminar handed me this note: 'Last night, 10 minutes before departure at the airport, I found my car and house keys still with me, which means my wife would have been locked out of the house. I passed them to the Singapore Airlines in-flight supervisor and they managed to get the keys to her within the hour!'

This is a great moment of impact. If the airline was only in the business of flying passengers from city to city, they would miss the opportunity to impact this customer for life.

A client of Citibank was delayed for four hours overseas. He called the local Citiphone office at 2:00 am and asked them to call his wife six hours later…by which time she would be awake, but he would be 37,000 feet up in the air. The bankers made the call, and made the impact.

Key Learning Point

Moments of impact do more than just surprise your customers: they deepen the relationship, extend goodwill, increase tolerance of any future problems and build loyalty far into the future.

Action Steps

The next time your customer needs assistance that's outside your normal course of work, make the decision, make the effort – make the impact

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 http://www.UpYourService.com 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 http://www.RonKaufman.com.

medical health hospital

Thursday, September 11, 2008

7 Bits Of Critical Information You Cant Afford Not To Know About Your Customers

Writen by Lora J Adrianse

If you think customer relationship management is just a piece of software, you're dead wrong. Customer relationship management is about understanding your customers. It's about really knowing them as individuals, knowing what they mean to your business, and most of all, knowing what you need to do to keep their business.

Ideally, you need a profile for each of your customers. Most customers will gladly give you the information you need especially if there is a small incentive. Offer them a coupon, a special discount, a gift certificate or even movie passes.

What do you need to include in the profile? Other than personal information, data you track can be as detailed or as simple as you can manage. The key point is to use a process or system. Here are some basic categories of things you want to know for sure:

Customer Value - How much do they spend with you in a month or a year?

Top 10 or 20 Percent - Who are the top 10 or 20 percent of your most valuable customers? These are your "gold" customers. Know who they are and treat them accordingly!

Why They Choose You - Why do they keep doing business with you? If you're not sure about what you're doing right, how will you know what to keep doing? Ask them!

Where They Came From - How did they find you? If you know where they came from you can go back for more customers just like them!

Who They Brought With Them - What new business have they brought you? Who have they referred you to? Referrals are like automatic deposits in your bank account. Find out who is making the deposits!

How You Thanked Them – If you don't currently use a simple system to thank your customers, start now! Customers who feel appreciated are easier to retain, and better yet they will reciprocate with referrals.

Deal Breakers - This is the most overlooked bit of critical data. If you've lost customers or just haven't seen them in a while (and it happens to all of us), find out what's going on. Most customers will welcome the opportunity to tell you, especially if something went wrong. What you don't know can hurt you!

Now, compile the information, keep it up to date, review it regularly, and use it to manage your customer relationships. A simple spreadsheet, database may work just fine for a smaller business. The objective is to collect enough information and data that you can use to understand how they are important to your business. It's the same concept retailers and buying clubs use in issuing customer cards. They use the information to track customer value, buying habits, etc.

Too busy to spend your time collecting information about your customers? Think again!

If you're serious about competing in today's business climate, it's time to start strategically managing your customer relationships. After all, your relationships with your customers are your business.

About The Author

Lora Adrianse is passionate about working with highly motivated people who are ready to unleash their potential and maximize their personal and professional development. She is accomplished in developing employees at all levels, a seasoned business manager, and an expert in building solid business relationships in the workplace and with customers. She can be reached through her website www.connectionscoach.com; coach@connectionscoach.com.

medical health hospital

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Customer Service Critical For Car Sales Lots

Writen by Lance Winslow

One of the most important things in business is customer service and if you don’t service your customers then your competitors will. It hardly matters what type of business you run, because customer service is always one of the keys to becoming successful. Of course some businesses require extra customer care and it is highly critical to overcoming obstacles and perhaps negative connotations or stereotypes in the industry.

One such business is car sales lots and the public perception of new and used car salesmen. You see, customer service is critical for car sales lots and without customer service you are just another used-car salesman. Do you want your business to be considered in such a negative light? Of course you don’t.

This is why you must concentrate on customer service and why it is so critical for future sales at your car lot. But what can you do that is different than other businesses you ask? Well one thing you can do is customer exit surveys and ask your customers if they were happy and have them fill out a form to take a drop in the mail and receive a free gift. Another thing you can do is a customer service audit of your business, which would include all the points at which your employees communicate with the customer.

There are many ways to improve customer service that are fairly easy and it is recommended that you do all the easy things first and then hire professional help to come in and help you strategize on ways to boost your customer service even more. Strong customer service means increased sales and isn't that what you're looking for in a car sales lot? Consider this in 2006.

"Lance Winslow" - Online Think Tank forum board. If you have innovative thoughts and unique perspectives, come think with Lance; http://www.WorldThinkTank.net/wttbbs/

medical health hospital

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Virtual Call Centers

Writen by Damian Sofsian

In a virtual call center the organization's representatives are geographically dispersed, rather than situated at workstations in a building. Virtual call center employees may be situated in groups or in a number of smaller centers, or they work from their own homes. This is an attractive arrangement for many employees as the hours are often flexible and there are fewer liabilities.

The virtual call center model saves housing and equipment costs and can lead to lower employee turnover rates that tend to be high for physical call centers, but in the end it turns out to beneficial to the organization. In companies whose business is highly seasonal, the virtual model also means that they don't have to maintain large facilities year-round. There is a high demand for virtual call center work and a supply of appropriately skilled labor ready to work in this sector.

However, with all the advantages, there are a few barriers to virtual call centers. There is an understandable reluctance to adopt technologies that may be seen as untested and risky. In many virtual call centers, a major cultural shift is required for supervisors to learn to trust workers they cannot see and control directly. Also worries about data security, fraud and training and team building for remote workers are seen as potential problems. But with certain practical solutions like technical ideas and proper staff recruitment and training problems can be overcome. These may include management and management training, proper handling of contractual issues, health and safety and most importantly, proper management of expenses.

Hence, with the ever-expanding need of customer service provider's virtual call center is no longer an illusion.

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

Monday, September 8, 2008

Generate Word Of Mouth In Six Steps

Writen by Alan Fairweather

Let me ask you a simple question - do you want your customers to say positive things about your business to other people? I bet you do, because as we all know "word of mouth" is one of the most effective and low cost ways to find new customers. And the most effective way to generate "word of mouth" is to provide extraordinary customer service.

Remember - the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is just that little bit "extra." So what is that little bit extra?

I recently decided that I needed a new pair of training shoes. I was suffering from sore calves after exercising and put it down to the state of my shoes. (And before you say anything, there's no way I'm putting it down to old age).

A visit to a local sports shoe store resulted in me walking up and down the length of the store in my bare feet with my suit trousers rolled up to the knee. Two sales assistants were sitting on the floor watching my progress.

After much discussion between us they recommended two pairs of shoes that I should try. New shoes were purchased; no more sore calves and I told you it wasn't old age.

These sales assistants provided that little bit "extra." They made me feel important, they were warm and friendly, they responded to what I had to say and they listened to my complaints about my aching muscles. I've now recommended that sports shoe shop to several people.

Research tells us that customers want two basic things from a supplier: -

Firstly, they want quality core service. - In other words, they expect your product or service to work, to do what you say it'll do. (However, do this alone and you'll only provide "ordinary" service).

Secondly, they want friendly caring service. - They want to be acknowledged, to feel that someone is interested in them as an individual and that they're cared about. (This is what provides that little bit "extra").

Here are Six Steps to add that little bit extra and generate word of mouth:

1. First impressions are vital - It therefore makes good sense to consider what you look like and sound like. In a face to face situation it's important to make eye contact and smile. On the telephone, it's not what you say as an initial greeting that matters, but more important how you say it.

2. Warm and friendly - This is what most people want and it makes your life easier too.

3. Use names appropriately - A person name is one of the warmest sounds they hear. It says that you have recognised them as an individual.

4. Respond - If a customer says something, the intention was for you to hear it. And if you hear it, it's a good idea to acknowledge it.

5. Actively listen - When you think about it, most people aren't very good listeners. We'd all rather be talking. You have to work hard at listening particularly if you want to let the other person know that you care. Many people listen but don't show that they're listening. You've got to do all the nodding head stuff and look like you're interested. And remember over the phone; occasionally make some indication that you're still there.

6. Close positively - At the end of an interaction it's a good idea to make a positive statement on a business level and a personal level. Say something like - "If you have any further problems then please phone me on this number and I'm sure you'll enjoy your holiday next week".

Make no mistake about it, providing friendly caring service creates that little bit extra and generates word of mouth for your business

Discover how you can generate more business without having to cold call! Alan Fairweather -"The Motivation Doctor" - is the author of "How to get More Sales Without Selling" To receive your free newsletter and free e-books, visit the Motivation Doctor

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Customers Hold Onto The Ones Youve Got

Writen by Alan Fairweather

You probably spend a great deal of your time looking for new customers or clients. However, are you sure your doing enough to hold onto the ones you've got.

One of the least costly ways to grow your business is to get customers to come back and buy more of your product or service. How many customers have you lost this month? I'm sure it's not something you want to think about too much, however it's inevitable that you'll lose customers and clients for a whole range of reasons many of which are out with your control.

A survey I read some years ago suggested that customers leave a business for four basic reasons: 14% leave because they're dissatisfied with the quality of the product or service, 9% leave because of price, 5% leave for other reasons and a whacking great 72% leave because of "supplier indifference".

Too many suppliers give customers the impression that they don't care about repeat business. I've stayed in hotels, dealt with banks and building societies and dealt with suppliers who didn't seem to care whether I came back or not.

We need to continually let our customers know that we care about them. We need to keep in touch, write to them, send them information and occasionally 'phone them. When they contact us we need to make sure we sound warm and friendly, pleased to hear from them, efficient and maybe even look and sound like we're fun to do business with.

It's not a lot different from our personal relationships. If we don't keep telling the people close to us how much we care and keep writing and 'phoning, then we shouldn't be too surprised if they leave us one day.

Use logic and emotion to keep your customers. Give them the best products and service and give great value for money. However, always remember, your competitors will be doing much the same thing. The difference will be determined by how you communicate with your customers on an emotional level, either face to face, on the 'phone, by letter or email.

I bought a new car from a local dealer a few years ago. I've never heard from them since. A dealer for the same brand of car fifty miles away writes regularly with details of special offers. They send a regular news letter and the occasional very courteous 'phone call. I'm going to change my car soon, guess who'll be getting the sale?

Business is like a car - it won't run by itself except downhill.

Discover how you can generate more business without having to cold call! Alan Fairweather is the author of "How to get More Sales without Selling" This book is packed with practical things that you can do to – get customers to come to you. Click here now http://www.howtogetmoresales.com and http://www.alanfairweather.com

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Loyalty Programs May Keep Customers Coming Back But First Youve Got To Earn Their Trust

Writen by Julia Hyde

Remember trading stamps? If you're over 40, chances are you will. Every time you shopped at a participating grocery store or gas station they gave you stamps to paste into a book. When you'd accumulated enough stamps, you could cash them in for "free" gifts.

These stamps were one of the first loyalty programs. They kept customers loyal to a particular product or merchant because they offered an incentive that encouraged the customer to keep coming back – and spend more money.

While trading stamps are a thing of the past, a wide range of industries still use loyalty programs to establish long-term relationships with their customers. By far the most successful and well known is the frequent flyer program.

On the surface, frequent flyer programs appear to be all about rewarding customers with free flights just because they choose to fly with a particular airline – the more miles you fly the more free miles you get. But, if you asked the airlines who really benefits from these programs, chances are you'd hear a resounding, "We do." Ask them to explain, and they'll likely tell you that frequent flyer programs allow them to collect data on individual customers, help them tailor their mailings and special offers to the customer's specific needs, allow them to promote higher fares, and ultimately increase their sales.

But, as popular as frequent flyer programs have become they only work if the service offered by the airline is good enough to earn the customer's trust. And that means not only offering a quality flying experience but great customer service and on-going communication.

For smaller businesses, the benefits of establishing a loyalty program are no different to those enjoyed by the major airlines. And equally, the program's success depends on first establishing the three most important elements of building that loyalty:

1. Treat your customer's right, and they'll be yours for life.

Your customers will not only judge your company by the quality of your product, but also by the level of service you offer. Offer one without the other and you may as well give up now.

Great customer service includes, among other things:

Credibility: Your customers should be able to trust you. No one wants to be on the alert for the small print or hidden charges. They want to know that your company can be trusted and has their best interests at heart.

Flexibility: Never use the words, "I'm sorry but it's not our policy." Always solve your customer's problems, even if it means losing the sale. There's nothing worse for a customer than a company that will not go out of their way to accommodate their needs.

On-time Deliveries: If you've ever ordered a product and been told that the delivery time is 6-8 weeks, you'll understand the frustration a customer experiences. Unless the product is out of stock, or is an international delivery, there's no earthly reason why a product should take 6-8 weeks to deliver. Similarly, if you promise a certain delivery time, you must abide by it. If you say the product will be shipped within 72 hours, then ship it within 72 hours. If for some reason you find you can't meet the delivery time, notify the customer and give them the option to cancel their order.

Accurate Billing: We all know mistakes happen. But when you make a billing error or you overcharge, you immediately lose credibility. Add to that the time is takes for a customer to contact you to complain or get you to adjust the bill, and you may well have lost a future sale – and the potential sales of friends and family they've complained to.

Hassle-free refunds: We've all been there. For some reason we change our minds about a product, or it doesn't work properly, or it's not quite what we expected. And we want our money back. Make sure your customers know this is an easy process, up front.

2. Obtain Customer Information

If you want your loyalty program to succeed you must obtain background information from your customers. A program that only requires a name, address, and proofs of purchase isn't building a long-term knowledgeable relationship with them. And it makes sense that a customer who will take the time to complete an enrollment form is going to be more interested in the product than a casual purchaser. When designing your enrollment form make sure you get information on product usage, purchasing habits, attitudes etc. That way you can tailor your products and services to your customer's specific needs. And build a database of customers who actually want a long-term relationship with your company.

Keep Communicating

One of the easiest ways to keep customers loyal is to establish on going communication. This can be in the form of emails promoting special offers, letters announcing new products, electronic or print newsletters or even offering educational materials. Another good way of continuing communication is to send them something useful with your company name on it. These simple, inexpensive gifts keep your name in front of a customer, and help to keep them loyal.

Need some help thinking up a loyalty program for your business? Here are some suggestions.

  • Gift certificates: Offer your customers a gift certificate when they spend a certain amount of money. For example, if they buy $200 worth of goods during a six-month period offer them a $25 gift certificate.

  • Offer point programs: Give your customers points for every $10 or so they spend. When they've acquired a certain amount of points they can exchange them for selected goods or services.

  • Free Shipping: This incentive is a sure-fire winner for mail order and online companies. Offer free shipping on orders over a certain amount or on future orders.

  • Communications: Newsletters, pamphlets, direct mailings, postcards, magazines, white papers etc. All these can be used to increase customer loyalty. They don't need to include a special offer or discount, but it will help.

Properly implemented loyalty programs are a long-term marketing strategy that takes a lot of work and commitment. But, getting new customers takes a lot of work too. So, it makes sense to do everything you can to make sure that every one of those customers keeps coming back time and time again, and recommends you to others.

About The Author

Julia is an independent copywriter and consultant specializing in advertising, search engine optimization and search engine marketing services. To learn more about how Julia can help boost your company's profits visit her site at www.juliahyde.com. You may also like to sign up for Marketing Works! Julia's monthly ezine. Visit www.juliahyde.com/form.html to sign up or email Julia at mailto:info@juliahyde.com for details.