Saturday, January 31, 2009

Making Customer Satisfaction Surveys Work

Writen by Martin Day

Why bother?

Good customer service is the life blood of any business. Although new customers are important good customer service will help generate customer loyalty and repeat business. With each satisfied customer your business is likely to win many more customers through recommendations and remember, if you are not taking care of your customers, your competition will.

A Customer Satisfaction survey will help you not only identify problem areas but will also demonstrate to your customers that you care and are proactive in looking for ways to improve the service that you provide.

Where to start?

Objective - Before you start compiling your survey you should first consider what the objectives of the survey are, in that way you will remain focused and find it easier to decide what questions to ask.

Analysis - In addition to the objective consider also how you will analyse the answers having completed the survey. Keep in mind that 'closed' questions (where the respondent is asked to choose from a limited number of responses) are easier to analyse than 'open' questions (where the respondent can reply in anyway they want). Much will depend on the volume of respondents, the higher the volume the more important it is to have an easy method of analysing the results.

Opportunity – Keep in mind that as well as obtaining valuable market research data customer surveys are also a good way to publicise aspects of your service that your customers may not be aware of. After you have drafted your survey read through the survey from a market research view point and check that you are asking the right questions in the right way and that with the feedback information you will be able to make informed decisions. Then, read through the survey from a marketing view point, check that you have phrased each question so that every opportunity has been taken to promote your business? The ideal question will perform the following three functions:-

Market research - provide valuable feedback to help you improve your customer satisfaction levels and in turn your business
Marketing - promote aspects of your business
Information/Education - advertise a service that you provide that your customers may not have been unaware of

For example:- Do you find the in-store baby changing facilities useful?

By asking this question not only will the store receive good feedback on the facility they provide but they will also advertise their baby changing facilities and promote themselves as a family friendly store beyond those customers who have a specific need for the facility provided.

Warts and all – to benefit most from a customer survey you need to be prepared to dig deep and accept the worst. A customer satisfaction survey should be designed to highlight problems so that they can be addressed; regular customer satisfaction will prevent complacency and will also give early warning on where your competitors initiatives may be loosing you business.

What to ask?

Although each business is likely to have specific and unique factors that are important in providing good customer services there are common areas that are relevant to all businesses be they a physical store, Internet based or a service industry. The following are some key areas to providing good customer service.

Communication - Do you make it easy for the customer to communicate with you? When a customer telephones is the phone answered promptly; are enquiries about products or services properly handled? A good business will make every effort to ensure that whatever the customers query it is resolved by the right person, quickly, politely and fairly. If a problem is not resolvable immediately do you promise to respond in a given time period and do you deliver on your promise? Use a customer satisfaction survey to confirm that all your staff are perceived by your customers as being helpful, courteous and knowledgeable.

Location – Do your customers find it easy to visit you, if a physical store, is it conveniently located with good access?

Making it pleasant, making it easy - For a virtual business it is important to ensure that your website is aesthetically pleasing and easy to use. Physical store or website, is the store properly laid out, can your customers find what they need and is there sufficient information and help on hand to explain how a particular product works?

The right quality products – Not only should you measure the quality of the service that you provide but you should check that the products and services that you market are what the customer wants and closely match their expectations.

Value for money – Cheap or expensive is not always a good measure, value of money is. Do your customers equate your business with value for money, if not, why not?

Speed and attention – No matter what the business, the majority of customers will want to be dealt with quickly but attentively. Are you doing everything you can to avoid delays? Good businesses will try to treat each customer as an individual, does yours? Attention is one thing but this has to be hand- in-hand with a quick and satisfactory resolution of the query.

Demographics and Specific issues – Take the opportunity to profile your customers, for example where do they live and what is their age group? The more you try to understand your customers the better you will be able to target your business. Within the survey allow customers to highlight specific problems and provide contact details.

What next?

Having completed the survey analyse the results.

Trends – Look for common and specific areas where the service is failing. Ask yourself if the criticism is valid and is there anything that can be done to resolve or minimise the problem?

Training – Are the staff properly trained and do they have sufficient knowledge? Where staff training programmes have been implemented have they had a positive impact on the business?

Follow-up –If a customer who has completed a survey has raised a specific issue ensure that they are contacted and their complaint addressed. Don't loose an opportunity to resolve a problem and keep a customer.

Continuously Monitor - Make-changes and then measure by issuing further surveys.

The following sample customer satisfaction survey for a store demonstrates some of the areas discussed please visit: Sample Survey

Martin Day is a Director of Survey Galaxy Ltd a web site that allows anyone to create, design and publish online surveys. For more information please visit

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Best Kept Secret To Improved Customer Service Is To Let Your Employees Soar

Writen by Leanne Hoagland-Smith

In today's tight business market, companies continually try new strategies in developing loyal customers. Maybe the hints within this acronym will help improve your customer service and potentially increase both your customer loyalty and employee retention – S.O.A.R.

S – Specific Job Descriptions

Good customer service begins by thoroughly having your employees understanding the expectations in their roles as "The First Contact." All job descriptions should accurately reflect the entire performance expected, include the skills required to perform all tasks; provide a narrative explanation in how the skills are utilized on the job; contain any additional shared job responsibilities; and demonstrate how performance is evaluated and measured.

O – Orientation

Customers want employees who understand the policies as well as how to deliver the products or services. Loyal customers do not want to hear phrases such as "That's not my department" or "I'm new here and I don't know." New employee orientation should not only explain the physical structure of the organization and policies, but also include the culture of the organization. HINT: A clearly articulated vision, mission and value statements would be helpful to all new employees.

A – Achievement

Customers react positively when they see name badges with awards or a special designation to distinguish the outstanding customer service employees. New Employees should have the opportunity to see the achievement of existing employees and more importantly the value that such achievement provides to the company. Newsletters, awards are some of the ways to recognize employee achievement.

R – Reinforce

Customers value management that is also customer service focused. Management is not only responsible for reinforcing a workplace environment in which the employees wish to return, but more importantly in modeling the desired behavior. As the old saying goes: employees don't leave companies, they leave managers!

REMEMBER: Your desired end result is loyal customers. This begins by improving your customer service training and possibly your employee retention will SOAR as well. If you don't believer this to be true, maybe the words of W. Edwards Deming, who is recognized by some as the father of Total Quality, will help your company understand the value of excellent customer service "Profit in business comes from repeat customers, customers that boast about your project or service and that bring friends with them."

Copyright 2005(c) Leanne Hoagland-Smith, M.S.

If doubling your results or performance is important to you in real time, then visit to explore the types of customer service training that can be delivered on site and tailored to meet your needs. Sign up for a free monthly newsletter. Please feel free to contact Leanne at 219.759.5601. If you truly don't believe doubling your results is possible, read some case studies where individuals and businesses took the risk and experienced unheard of results at

Thursday, January 29, 2009

How Crm Software Works Creating Customer Satisfaction With A Click

Writen by Lucy P. Roberts

When people ask, "What is CRM?" the literal answer is, "Customer Relationship Management," but that doesn't really convey much in terms of what all CRM does for a business. This CRM definition is too narrow to really explain everything the system does if it is working to its fullest potential and is user-friendly enough to expand and grow as a customer-client relationship changes and grows.

CRM in the broader sense encompasses not only customer relationship management itself but how customer relationship management is handled and the most important elements of a CRM program that are essential to its being successful. The range of CRM software options vary from those that provide simple customer tracking and live chat capabilities to the more complex CRM solutions that can integrate all of the customer relationship data an enterprise has on each client past, present and future in a dynamic information data network.

What should I look for in a CRM software package?

If there's an ideal CRM software package that works for every company and every situation, it hasn't been discovered yet, simply because every company has slightly different needs for their customer relationship management needs as well as software implementation.

In general, however, when you are looking for a strong CRM software package there are a few things to keep in mind. If you are shopping for a CRM package, try to forget about the initial price tag at first (as difficult as this may be) and focus on the adaptability, usability and integrity of each system you evaluate as it relates to your particular needs. A few things to consider:

• What are the most important facets of customer relations are we looking to address, and does this CRM software support tracking and updating all aspects of this? For example, if your company wants to customer service to have ready access to changes in customer spending habits and an opportunity to offer new product options based on these records, make sure this capability is built into the software. Customization down the line will be time-consuming and expensive -- if you have a primary goal, make sure it is standard in your CRM software package.

• Will the CRM software package integrate smoothly with all platforms currently in use at your company? If you will have to re-enter all databases such as client names, addresses and phone numbers, this will significantly increase the amount of money you'll spend in the long run. Make sure that you can either integrate smoothly or import all information needed flawlessly.

• Is the product more than you need? An enterprise solution that offers fifteen functions you don't need and never will isn't a bargain if you will never expand into that market niche. Just because it's available doesn't mean you have to have it. Selling custom-sewn hats? You won't need a CRM software package for tracking million-dollar overseas accounts.

• Has this CRM software package been used for a company of your size before? If it has been used for companies up to 10,000 and you have 150,000, the system may simply not be able to sustain the volume of data and crash or develop glitches. Look for something more powerful with a support system capable of understanding the size of your company.

Can you build me a dream CRM software package?

Hmm…let's see. The best CRM software package would be optimally functional across all platforms and have its own customer support backing it, and …. Well, let's take a look at our own list of what we'd really like in a CRM software package if money was no object and we could "have it all," so to speak:

• A CRM software provider that has partnerships with other vendors for support in the event you need it for integration of platforms.

• Extensive training from certified CRM software technicians who will walk your people through the process of setting up, using and training others on the system.

• Full data migration capabilities to and from all programs in current use to the new CRM software.

• Offsite server storage backup for all information in the CRM system for added security.

• A toolbox for company programmers for customizing templates for company use -- this will save huge amounts of time by eliminating the need to write custom codes from scratch.

• Either in-house consultants or a choice of contracted consultants they recommend (try not to be at the mercy of one consultant when there is a problem).

• A CRM software package designed by a company familiar with our specific industry and its structural needs.

The best CRM software packages enable customer service representatives to review the account information of each client or customer when they are talking to him or her and immediately understand something about that person's needs, wants and spending patterns.

For banks, CRM software can indicate their banking patterns -- are they investing through the bank? Have they recently looked into a money market fund? Do they have substantial funds that could be put to better use than languishing in a simple CD?

A mail order company can note your shopping tendencies and make Christmas shopping suggestions based on past purchases by seeing that you buy a lot of kids' clothes and that you spend about $200 each holiday. Used correctly, a toy company can steer you toward some bargains and suggest alternatives, enriching your shopping experience and building customer loyalty.

Why does CRM software fail so often after it's put into place?

You've heard the stories about a company buying a CRM software package and then realizing it hasn't really changed anything. The big-wigs are disappointed, customer service is frustrated, and the clients are aggravated with the new changes that don't seem to show any improvements in customer service or client relations. How does it happen?

Because CRM software was purchased that wasn't appropriate, was purchased too soon, or wasn't implemented properly. If you don't purchase CRM software that specifically addresses what your customer concerns are, you may have software that is very detailed in an area you don't need and somewhat lacking in exactly what you do need.

Purchasing too soon means you bought the software before you had evaluated what you really wanted. Many companies by CRM software with a goal "to improve customer relations," which is not a clear business goal! You should have a very specific, well-defined objective that your CRM software solution can address, and you company should have developed a formal objective before you went shopping for a solution. Retaining customers? Improving the size of current customer portfolios? Penetrating a new market niche? Reduce customer complaints? Improve customer repair response? Determine what it is you want to focus on as a goal, and then choose your CRM software solution based on how it will address it.

Finally, implementation of a new CRM program requires proper management support and effective training. That means that management must be behind it one hundred percent, and not have "head in the sand" approach where they determine that "that's for customer service, I never did understand that stuff," and avoid learning how the CRM software works. It is an attitude that will pervade the company.

Second, training is essential and must encompass the company to ensure that all levels of personnel will embrace the new system and understand the genuine need for it and the real goal of what you are trying to achieve with your new CRM software solution.

Some CRM software options for small and medium sized businesses

For small and medium businesses, the most common customer relations management software request is for anything that enhances online communications and improves the time between a customer complaint or question and resolution of the issue for them.

For many companies, there are software solutions that can be purchased or downloaded to be used through their Internet website for basic services such as online customer support through live chat and customer assistance with online purchasing that is both efficient and relatively inexpensive. If your need is primarily to improve sales volume, improve response to customer questions and complaints and to make your company website more personalized, look into these solutions that are at the lower end of the price spectrum while providing solid CRM products:

LivePerson offers two different versions, Basic and Enterprise that provide live chat, email and a variety of interactive forms customized to meet companies' needs for customer relations. This company has developed live chat solutions and online forms for everything from universities to financial services firms. This company provides a wide range of services, including online marketing, case studies, and software designed to improve online shopping cart capabilities.

LiveHelper offers many of the same features, and adds real time traffic monitoring and other data assessment features as well. For the price, LiveHelper is a very good CRM software value.

GroopZ includes customer routing software so that you can transfer entire chat strings from one customer service rep to another if you need be, along with an efficient filing system for chat transcripts and customer records. For improving customer relations, the software support suggests pre- and post-service questions for all customers who contact you.

Also included are templates you can set up with specific, pre-scripted answers to frequently asked questions in online chat to save customer service representatives time and make the process clearer and more efficient. This company does a bit more customizing on the front end to fit your needs, and pricing is adjusted accordingly.

SupportWizard gives you three CRM options that give you some flexibility -- you can buy, lease or let them host your customer service/relations solutions. Interactive FAQs, live chat, standard answers to frequent questions, and Boolean search capabilities to review past interactions all make this package extremely effective. SupportWizard also has more customizable features than some, including an "escalation alert" that can be tailored to specific situations when a supervisor would be notified if a customer service situation exceeds certain parameters.

This is one of the more expensive packages available, but rather than a monthly fee you are paying for lease or outright purchase options, so factor this into the cost. You will also get spectacular customer support and constant upgrades and patches when necessary. The integration of email, live chat and telephone information into one database is also a plus with SupportWizard.

BoldChat offers free CRM software for online customer service chat that you can use for a limited time, and offers a $9.95/month and a $39.95/month customized version of their CRM software. Both offer live customer service chat, but one adds customized windows and more options on buttons and the number of available customer service reps you can add.

CSLive offers the most comprehensive CRM software solution available for small and medium businesses, with live chat, email, and the usual customer service features you expect from a small business CRM solution, but with plenty of extras. CSLive also offers an extensive tracking and filing system, an Internet server site where you can upload and store files of customer help articles that customers can be referred to that can by emailed directly to clients by your reps. Throw in the message center and online meetings, and this is practically an enterprise sized solution at a small business price of $29.95 a month.

CRM software, whether on a monthly user basis or purchased outright and downloaded onto your own server, will make serving and understanding your clients and customers a more productive experience, and you will all be happier for it.

Copyright © 2004-2005 Evaluseek Publishing.

About the Author

Lucy P. Roberts is a successful freelance writer providing practical information and advice for businesses about everything related to CRM software solutions and live chat software. Her numerous articles include tips for saving both time and money; product reviews and reports; and other valuable insights about the customer relationship management industry. Learn more about the history of CRM and related topics when you visit today!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Your Existing Clients How A Few Clicks Amp Good Response Time Will Save You

Writen by Anthony Jewell

As you develop your company you will start to pick up clients online. This is when you will start seeing the rewards of your efforts but also when you will start to learn the lessons that will shape your company and its success down the line. This article is to show you how a few minutes of your time and a few clicks of your mouse will save you alot of headaches as well as stress. It is something that we all take for granted but will help make your company more successful and keep your clients happy.

It is as simple as just a few clicks of your mouse. Whether you check emails morning, noon or night you need to get into a routine that allows you to respond back in a reasonable amount of time. So if you are going to respond back to clients in 1, 2, 5, 10, 12, 24 or 28 hours then you need to make sure you are consistent with this. This will build trust in your clients. It will also let them know when to look for mails from you. Always try to respond back in 48 hours or less. The sooner the better. It will make your clients feel safe with their decision to use your company but it will also let them know that you are there for them and that you care about them.

Now you may be thinking that I am making too much out of your response time. Well you could be right and I could be wrong, but more then likely I am right. I know, I know, I hate it when I am right too. I speak on this from personal experience of dealing with clients as well as being a client. Responding back in a timely manner will save your clients frustration as well as worries that they won't hear back from you ever again(you will be surprised how many will think this way). It will also show that you are a professional running a smooth operation.

This is show to be especially true when ever they send you a payment. Never wait more then 12 hours to respond back to your clients when you have received a payment. As soon as they send the payment a little bit of doubt will creep into their mind wondering if you are trustworthy, proove that you are. Unless you have told them otherwise of why your response may be late, get back to them the same day if you can. This will build trust in them as well as their confidence in you and will only make your working relationship better down the line.

This information and practice will prove most valuable when you are dealing with more then one client. You will be able to organize yourself so that you will follow the proper protocols to handle each situation. Your business will run smoothly, your clients will be happy and most important you will be successful!

Anthony Jewell has over 6 Years experience in the Web & Graphics World. You can visit my business at

©Copyright 2005 : Feel free to use this article freely but please keep in the copyright

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Did Your Customer Come For The Customer Service

Writen by Lance Winslow

As a consumer we often shop at our favorite stores and go to our favorite restaurants. Many times we make a choice solely based on the customer service we get and other times it is a combination of customer service and product. Nevertheless, the customer service aspect of it all is paramount and what keeps us coming back.

As business owners we must remember these things and why customers come to our establishments or hire out our services. Ask yourself when looking at a customer; Did your customer come for the customer service? Are they here right now because they wanted to do business with you because you treat them right?

If your answer is yes that is good, but your job is not done, perhaps you should ask them privately why they like the service and if there is anything you could do better. This will reaffirm their commitment to you as a customer and give you super valuable insight. Of course if you fail to ask them then it is all a guessing game and you will never know.

Not all customers have the same preferences and many customers use your service or buy your products for different reasons. You need to know what all these reasons are and concentrate on making them so, this way you can enjoy happy customers who are pleasurable to work with and enjoy the referrals they bring you as well. Consider all this in 2006.

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

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Sellers Creed

Writen by Rick Beneteau

I will not make sales. I will make Customers.

I will target the heart of my Customer. Never their wallet.

My Customer is the lifeblood of my business.

Though I may sell my Customers what they want, I will deliver what they need and make their lives better.

Courtesy and Service are cornerstones of my relationship with my Customer.

I will view complaints as opportunities . . . opportunities to create lifelong Customers.

The quality of my products and how I treat my Customers will determine the level of My Success.

My prosperity will come from 'growing' people.

My best advertisement is my product, and, the Customer service behind it.

Making money without making friends is not good business.

I will guide my business with the perfect blend of heart and mind.

I will make Integrity my trademark. After all, isn't integrity all I have and all I will be remembered for?

I will compete only against myself as the only true measurement is against myself.

It is fine to fail. In fact, it is most often a requirement of success.

My reputation is everything - my ego, nothing.

Every pittance I earn unjustly is a debt of fortune I must repay.

No matter the fame or fortune that may follow me, My values, My family and My friends must remain at the very core of my being.

Better I be trusted and respected, than be materially rich.

Better I be a dolphin swimming with sharks, than a shark.

(you can download an mp3 of The Seller's Creed here:

© Rick Beneteau

Rick is co-creator of the breakthrough Make Every Day A Great Day Program. Read the powerful, life-changing testimonials and discover how this revolutionary product can dramatically change Your Life too!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Positive Proactive Communication

Writen by Ron Kaufman

Every insurance company in the world is concerned about 'persistency', keeping policies in force by making sure clients pay their premiums year after year.

A small increase in persistency can yield a very large boost in company profits.

I have policies with several insurance companies. Every year I am stunned by the incredibly impersonal notices I receive stating: 'Premium Due'.

These communications seem to regard me as nothing more than an account number, a payment amount and a due date. As a prospect, I was engaged as a real person with needs and concerns, hopes and dreams. I was treated as a valued partner in the necessary world of personal financial planning.

Now that the policy is in force, I am just an invoice.

Here's what I would much prefer. (If you have an insurance policy, you might appreciate it, too.)

Ten months into the year, two months before the premium is due, a smart insurance company should send me a simple customized letter. Something like this:

Dear Mr. Kaufman,

In two months the annual premium for your insurance policy number 123456 will be due.

I want to take a moment now to congratulate you on your decision to keep this policy in force, and to remind you of the many benefits you have been receiving, and will continue to receive, throughout the year.

In addition to basic financial protection for you and your family members, your insurance policy has provided you with (include all of the following that apply):

• a guaranteed savings program

• effective retirement planning

• education planning for your children

• risk coverage against death or disability, and

• precious peace of mind.

Each year at this time, we ask valued clients like you if any major changes have occurred during the past ten months.

Have you added a new family member? Have you received a promotion or otherwise increased your income? Have you purchased a new home or automobile? Have any of your family members or friends recently married?

If any of these changes have occurred, we encourage you to speak with your insurance agent (name here), who can be easily contacted at (contact details here).

Once again, we congratulate you for maintaining the benefits of your valuable insurance program. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact your agent, or our office directly at (contact details here).

With best regards,

(Fill in the blank with the name of a smart, positive, pro-active and profitable insurance company.)

Key Learning Point
Whether you are in education, marketing, retail, logistics, government service, entertainment or insurance, communicating positively and proactively with your clients makes sense.

Action Steps
Don't wait until the last minute. Make an effort to stay in touch with your customers and clients with positive news and proactive views.

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

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Think Positive Care For Your Customers

Writen by Abe Cherian

You may publish this article in your ezine, newsletter on your web site as long as the byline is included and the article is included in it's entirety. I also ask that you activate any html links found in the article and in the byline. Please send a courtesy link or email where you publish to:

Operating a business on a daily basis dealing with customers can actually be frustrating and they often don't make it easy for you and your employees to treat them nicely.

You need to remember where all your revenue and sales come from for your business. Every dollar in sales that your business gets comes from these customers that can sometimes be frustrating. You want to treat them well and hope that maybe they'll return another day happy and satisfied and bring family and mends.

The old saying, "The customer is always right", is really not true. One unhappy customer, through word of mouth, can translate into a lot of lost customers. Just because customers aren't telling you how good you are, often times you think, "Everything must be okay." They may not come to you and say, "That was a horrible experience, but they might tell their family and friends that." Silence is not golden.

Each person really has different theories on this, but they have the potential to tell just one or many other people positive or negative things about your business. Look at a happy customer as free advertising. You might already know how much it costs for advertising.

It's been said that an unhappy customer will tell a minimum of 1-10 people their negative experience. Think about that. 1-10 people automatically not doing business with you. That might change the way you respond to someone. Just maybe a receptionist having a bad day and being rude on the phone - that person telling 1-10 people about that and they will never do business with you.

The first step to a better relationship is to realize customers aren't different from anyone else. They are people with feelings, reactions, wants and desires. They've been studied for the last 50 years and during that time, more than any other time in history. It's your job to understand human drive, passions, emotions, fears and target those emotions.

You want to always be looking for a response from them good and bad. Every bad response you get from a customer is an opportunity to improve.

The second step is to reverse your "Money Plan" that is always thinking of them as money machines. You want to think, "How can you get them more - better - faster - easier - less expensive - higher quality - longer service- better benefits - more options - and more desirable things that they want?"

In order for this to work you must think of your profit will come as long as you are running the business properly. You can't think like this for long without ending up with more value in your business or product or service. A greater number of customers that are doing more business with you, doing it more frequently, and they're doing it more often for a longer term and they're giving you referrals. Treat your customers like you want to be treated.

Abe Cherian is the founder of Multiple Stream Media, a leading performance-based Internet advertising company dedicated in helping small businesses create online presence, brand recognition and online automation. Main company web site:

Friday, January 23, 2009

How Well Do You Know Them

Writen by Jeffery Glaze

It is often said that it is not who you know that matters, it is who knows you. Well I would like to extend this statement by saying that it is not only who you know and who knows you, but how well do you know them and they you?

In business, networking is the ultimate form of promotion. It can help you to obtain new clients, a new job, or even help you to move up the corporate ladder. It is the process of building relationships. Any time that you attend a meeting, trade show, or a social function, you are networking whether you realize it or not. It is the relationship that you have with people, a prospect or a client that makes the difference between success and failure.

Often we fail to realize the reasons that we have for doing business with an individual or a company. In the case of products that we regularly buy, what helps us to make the buying decision? There are those that will buy a specific brand of product because they trust that brand to be of a high quality or durability. There are others that will make a buying decision based on price, although this is less frequently the case. Often we simply do business because we feel good about it. In fact most purchases or decisions to do business are based on two things. Trust and comfort. Trust is a very intangible emotion or feeling. How do you measure it? How do you develop it?

Trust is measured by the feelings that are generated by a process of letting someone get to know more about you than just product, features and price. I know a gentleman who provides a seminar on selling to C-level executives. He says that to sell to the C-level executive you have to be more than a salesperson selling a product or service. To sell to the executive level, you have to be more of an advisor. You have to find needs other than the ones that you can fulfill and help them to fulfill these needs. In doing this, you become a "trusted advisor". They feel "comfortable" that you have their interests in mind more than just making a quick sale and a commission.

In our daily process of seeking prospective clients, do we often just look for a person to pitch, or do we spend a bit more time getting to know them before we try to sell?

When we take the time to know a persons desires, dreams, and needs, and make an honest effort to help them realize that these things are important to us, we are really on the fast track to doing business with them. We are building the trust, confidence, comfort level, and most importantly the relationship that is needed to not only make the sale, but to create in them a resource for endless referrals.

As we go into the community meeting people who are prospective clients, we should keep the following in mind. The customer is a person just like me. The customer has needs other than the one that I can fulfill. Until I understand what the ultimate goal or dream of the prospect is, I cannot fulfill it with my product or service.

Selling and networking are about relationships. You sell in everything that you do whether you realize it or not. The time is now for more effective selling. Change the way you think about the prospect and the prospect will change the way that they think about you.

Jeff Glaze is the Editor of, founder of e-mail certification program and the author of several e-books. His company, Mostcool Media Inc.( ), specializes in marketing planning, coaching, business networking training, web and media development. His e-book "The Six Xtremes Of Power Business Networking" is available here: Jeff Glaze is available to speak to your group and can be contacted at 678.508.5975 Copyright © 2006 by MostCool Media Inc.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Your Competitive Edge

Writen by Ken Lodi

Today's retail marketplace has become an aggressive playing field. The internet provides consumers with a new medium for purchasing a world of products and services, and retailers with a new frontier to engage and retain customers. This competitive marketplace has allowed consumers to sit back and watch retailers slug it out until one brand remains standing. If most retailers deliver on what they promise, what are the attributes that make us partial to a brand? The winning brands sweat the small stuff.

Coffee Anyone?
Coffee has been around for centuries. Dunkin' Donuts got its start in 1950 and began selling "America's Best Coffee." I sat in a Dunkin' Donuts twenty years ago and read the Sunday paper. How did they fall behind Starbucks? Starbucks put their brand on the world map by creating a process and culture caffeine hounds couldn't resist. How? Starbucks sweats the small stuff.

Starbucks shifted the retail mission from coffee transaction, to coffee relationship. Baristas aren't happy to make you a cup of coffee; they are delighted to present you with one of their creations. Their employees report they can recall many first names of morning regulars and how they prefer their coffee. They handle the rush of customers with the flair of New York City bartenders. This kind of employee performance can make you believe you can taste the difference in their coffee.

The genius of this retailer began with empathizing with coffee drinkers. What else would customers appreciate with their beverage? Starbucks expanded their breadth of products to include breath mints, bottled water and even their own brand of music CD's. They created an experience people were inspired to revisit. An environment replete with "little things" (products and services) made a major difference to the average Joe visiting for his cup'o joe. That shift in thinking built an empire.

The Auto Wins the Lotto
Car dealerships have been around for seventy years. At the time of this writing, there are about 270 LEXUS dealerships in the country—compared with 5,000 Ford dealerships. LEXUS is the number one selling luxury nameplate in the U.S. Why has their success been a steady, steep climb since its conception in 1989? LEXUS sweats the small stuff.

Consider a car buying and servicing experience from a customer's point of view. What affects where you decide to take your business? LEXUS conducted a comprehensive study and put their findings to work. It doesn't make sense to guess at what people want, or try to condition customers to like what we offer. If the dogs don't eat the dog food, all else is immaterial.

At your typical LEXUS dealership, you can sit in a comfortable customer lounge, and enjoy a cappuccino while watching CNN on a flat screen television. Still not impressed? You can connect to the internet during your complimentary carwash. These are little details that make a car shopper partial to their brand aside of product attributes. For the average buyer, the buying decision isn't based on what's under the hood. (How many pounds of torque does your car offer?) The decision is based on the subtleties of value-added services that have little to do with the core product offering.

The Ritz Service Blitz
There are an abundance of hotels in the U.S. Each promise a hassle-free, turnkey experience. They worry about us while we tend our agendas. How did the Ritz-Carlton and The Four Seasons establish luxury brand name recognition? They focused on the small stuff.

Most premier hotels provide a luxurious $500 a night room. The reasons some perform better than others is due to an obsession with the little details. Many brands can offer you a room key with a smile, few anticipate your needs days before you arrive. The best brands take note of your pillow preference, wine preferences and if you are partial to egg whites? You don't think a little chocolate on your pillow is a major coup until one night is not there. It's always the little things.

W.I.I.F.M.? What's In It For Me?
You're wondering, "How does this apply to me?" Individuals who ask themselves "what's the small stuff in my business?" and convert the answers to actions will distinguish themselves from the competition in any industry. This may mean sending a hand-written thank you note, remembering a birthday, or offering customers complimentary bottles of water. These are the deeds and gestures that nudge new business in your direction when opportunities straddle the fence.

Ken Lodi is a productivity expert, author of Tapping Potential and other performance improvement books. He can be contact at or 323-932-1026.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What To Do When Youve Blown It

Writen by Lisa Packer

It's bound to happen sooner or later – yes, even to you and your business. Sometime or other, you will make a blunder that upsets a customer. It may be an employee mistake (honest or intentional), it could be a defective product, it could even be an unreasonable expectation on the part of your customer. The cause really isn't important.

What is important is that you have an angry customer on your hands.

What, you ask, does this have to do with marketing advice? Everything. Because it costs you eight times as much to get a new customer as it does to keep an old one. Because your angry customer isn't going to stop at avoiding your business – she's going to tell everyone she knows just how sorry you are. Because if you have been getting a steady stream of new customers (at eight times the cost, remember) but your overall numbers aren't growing as fast, you are losing money. Bigtime.

Here's an example: Jane is a regular customer of Joe's Bargain Dry Cleaning. Once a week she brings her entire business wardrobe in for cleaning. Since her entire business wardrobe isn't that big, she spends about fifty bucks every time. This week, a stain on her favorite blouse isn't removed, and Jane calls in to complain when she gets home. The employee Jane speaks to claims to be sorry (though she doesn't sound like it) and says that not all stains can be removed by the dry cleaning process. She will, however, give Jane a coupon for a free one-item dry clean.

Well, Jane wanted to wear her favorite blouse tonight for her big date with Jim. Now she can't. Since she lives right around the corner, she asks if she can bring the blouse back now and have the stain treated. She is told that Joe's does not accept same-day orders after 10 a.m.

Jane hangs up totally disappointed. Forced to wear a less-flattering blouse on her date, she is somewhat lacking in self-confidence (it's hard to feel good about yourself when you think you look bad) and her date does not go well. She vows never to darken the door of Joe's again. And she doesn't.

Now, lets crunch the numbers: Jane was spending $50 a week at Joe's. Subtracting two weeks for Jane's vacation time, that means she was spending $2,500 a year at Joe's. Ten Jane's in a year (if Joe is really lucky) and that is Twenty-five thousand dollars Joe will not be putting in his back pocket this year. Ten more next year and Joe is losing $50,000.

But if Joe had handled the situation correctly, Jane could have turned into one of his most loyal customers. Here's what he (and you, when it happens) should do next time:

1. Own up to the mistake. The sooner the better. It's hard for people, and businesses, to admit mistakes – but do it anyway. In the story above, the employee passed the mistake off to "the dry cleaning process." Never do that. Even if the problem is something completely out of your control, stand up and take responsibility. Yes, it may be hard on your ego. But what's more important: your ego, or your wallet?

2. Make it right. Immediately. Don't make them jump through hoops to get a refund or a replacement (or better yet, both.). Jane should have been allowed to come down right then and have her blouse treated while she waited. If the stain still wouldn't come out, she would know Joe's had done their best.

3. Make it better. Your customer hasn't just been irritated. She's been inconvenienced. Give her something extra for her trouble. After treating Jane's blouse while she waited, she should have been given an entire weeks dry cleaning for free. Joe would have been out $50 in the short term, but his $25k for the year would have been saved. And Jane would never even consider another dry cleaner as long as she lived.

Following these steps will give you rabidly loyal customers. And when you combine that with steady new ones, your business will grow exponentially.

Lisa Packer, author of "How To Dramatically Increase Your Business... Without A Blockbuster Budget," is an independant Copywriter and Marketing Consultant. To read more helpful articles like this one visit

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Customer Management Relationship

Writen by NamSing Then

The catch phrase of the 1990s, Customer relationship management, was an instant darling of large and medium business houses, which in theory promised to develop and manage a happy and cordial relationship with customers. Now a decade and more into customer relationship management, organizations are slowly realizing that the unwieldy process is no longer easy to handle easily, as they initially thought, and forging a relationship forever is not gaining ground.

The reasons for the slow progress of this magnificent management tool are not very difficult to understand, although it has taken years to dawn on the organizations. However, fundamentally, the theory of CRM, customer relationship management, is still the wonderful formula for insuring your customer base. Let us see the two biggest stumbling blocks on the road to successful customer management relationship.

Two of the Biggest Stumbling Blocks to CRM
1. The success of customer relationship management depends on whether each interaction of customers with the organization was satisfying enough.
2. The cumbersome process is cost ineffective and unfriendly to maintain and track product and user data accurately

However, software managed databases are coming close to inject efficiency with advanced features to track have changed the face of CRM vastly. Nevertheless, the recent advent of internet technology has proven to take CRM to an altogether different plane wherein customer can instantaneously interact with automated answer banks and/or a customer support executive.

So, What Is the Basic Structure of Automated CRM?
To make things simple, let's take the three core structural elements of an automated CRM. These three can be enumerated as: 1) Operational structure, to automate the fundamental business processes like marketing, sales, and service; 2) Implementing analytical technology to support customer behavior analysis and finally, 3) Cooperative approach to ensuring customer contact through media such as web, phone, SMS etc.

Software based CRM brings in certain cutting edge advantages.
1. Round the clock and 365 days information delivery on products/services, usage, problem solving over the web.
2. Automated scheduling of sales and service calls
3. Automatic guidance to typical problems
4. Interactive web tools allow customer define quality and/or problems
5. Easy tracking of repeat customers facilitate quicker identification

Still There Is Shadow beneath the Lamp
As business world is moving towards ironing out lacunae, there still remains lot of things to attend to. Not all the customers who emailed to customer departments are satisfied. The general complaint is the quality of service remained the same despite interactive websites. Whosoever is answering the emails still has the traditional supportive back office works to do. Another point that could be sighted here is the bane of automated email reply.

The bottom line, however is, come what may, CRM is here to stay.

NamSing Then is a regular article contributor on many topics. Be sure to visit his other websites CRM Solution, Free Sample Business Letter and One Stop Information

Monday, January 19, 2009

Top 6 Things Not To Do With Angry Customers

Writen by Myra Golden

1. Don't make threats. Have you ever said this, "If you don't calm down, I'm not going to help you." Or, "If you continue to yell at me, I'm going to have no choice but to terminate this phone call." If you've ever made these, or similar, statements, I'd bet that your sole intent was to regain control of the conversation. But the problem is, your customer perceives this type of language as threatening and it does not make them back down and it does not create calm. Try a phrase like this instead: "I really want to help you, but your tone/language is making it really hard for me to do that." And then pause for 2-3 seconds to let your words resonate with the customer.

2. Don't argue. Trust me on this one - you can never win an argument with a customer. Certainly, you can prove your point and even have the last word, In a discussion on the futility of arguing with people, Dale Carnegie once said "you may be right, but as far as changing your customer's mind is concerned, you will probably be just as futile as if you were wrong." Your goal in complaint situations is to retain the customer, not to be right. If you win the argument, you may very well have lost the customer. Carnegie encourages us to carefully consider some hard questions before going to battle with customers: "Is my reaction one that will relieve the problem, or will it just relieve frustration? Will my reaction drive my customer further away? What price will I pay if I win (the argument)?" Carnegie advises, "The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it." By the way, customers will spread negative word-of-mouth advertising to 50 people if they get into argument with you!

3. Don't hang up on the customer. I realize I sound conservative on this one, but I stand firm. If you hang up on a customer who is already livid, do you think a "disconnect" helps the situation or hurts the situation? The customer still has the problem and most customers won't give up their fight because you chose to hit the flash button. Most will call back and guess what? They will be angrier than ever AND it will cost far more in time and money to resolve the issue. If you just can't handle the customer, offer to transfer to a supervisor or co-worker.

4. Don't make the customer feel helpless. I cringe every time I hear an employee say, "This is all I can do." When customers feel helpless, some will resort to whatever they feel it takes to get their needs met. This behavior may include yelling, demanding to speak to a supervisor, or starting a blog about your company. This simple phrase changes the entire tone of a tough situation: "Mr. Bryant, what I can do is?"

5. Don't raise your voice. When I want my five-year-old daughter to use her "inside voice", I don't yell, "Lauren, USE YOUR INSIDE VOICE!" I speak in my "inside voice" with the expectation that she will mirror the calm tone of my voice - and she does without any further prompting from me. We must use the same technique with demanding customers. Escalating your voice when dealing with an upset customer will not create calm. It will only incite your customer. Lowering your voice presents you as confident, in control, and credible. In many cases your angry customer will begin to calm down because he realizes his intimidation tactic (yelling) isn't working. Try making one of these statements in a low volume when dealing with an angry customer. "What can I do to help?" or "What can I do to fix this situation?"

6. Don't tell a customer she is wrong. You will be smart to never tell a customer s/he is wrong or mistaken. Telling a person they are wrong arouses opposition and will make the customer want to battle with you. (Ever tell your spouse they are wrong?) It's difficult, under even the most benign conditions to change people's minds. So why make it harder by starting out on the wrong foot? If you know your customer is wrong, it's better to start off saying, "I thought the contract read otherwise, but let's take a look."

The next time you find yourself the target of verbal abuse from an angry customer, keep in mind these six "don'ts" and you'll be well on your way to getting the angry customer to back down and regaining control of the conversation.

Myra Golden is an award-winning professional speaker and principal of Myra Golden Seminars, LLC, a customer service training firm serving clients in food and beverage, banking, healthcare, hospitality, and other industries. Her client list includes McDonald's, Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola, Frito-Lay, Michelin Tires, Pirelli, and Procter & Gamble, among many others.

For hundreds of ideas for customer service improvement for use in customer service training, visit the customer service training resource portal by going to

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Handling Angry Clients

Writen by Shamus Brown

What do you do when your client gets mad at you? How do you handle this? An angry client can be one of the biggest time and energy drains on a sales person.

What you should specifically do will obviously depend on what the client is angry about. Sometimes our clients have a legitimate reason to be angry, such as when we screw up. Other times clients get unreasonably upset because they have different expectations about your business relationship.

In either case, your objective should be to make the client happy again (unless your client is so unreasonable that you need to let them go).

The first step towards converting an angry client to a happy one is to get in rapport with your client while he is angry.

This approach may sound a little weird to you. It works though, and you'll realize its true once you reflect upon your own experiences with anger. Ever been mad at a company, or another person, or a politician for example? When you were angry, how did you feel when you spoke to someone who didn't share your anger? You felt misunderstood, maybe even to the point where you didn't want to be around them, right?

Now think about how you felt when you encountered someone who shared you anger. You felt understood and wanted to be around this person more, didn't you?

© 1999-2004 Shamus Brown, All Rights Reserved.

People fundamentally want to be around others who are like themselves. We seek this all the time in all of our dealings with others. And when our mood change, we often want to be around people who are experiencing the same thing.

So then, how do you get in rapport with an angry client?

The simplest and fastest way is to match their mood, while being careful not to match the content of what they are saying. You do this by getting yourself into an emotional state similar to the client. This may be anger, frustration, or whatever word you think best describes their mood. The word label doesn't really matter. You can observe the client's mood, and you know how to create a similar feeling inside of yourself whatever the name.

Remember I also said not to match the content of what the client is saying. This is very important. In other words, you don't want to say nasty things to your client just to match them. Yes this will get you into a similar mood as them, and yes you will be in rapport. But only briefly as you watch their anger skyrocket out of control.

Instead what you want to do is say something to let them know that you are going to try rectify the situation that caused the anger. You tell them something like this:

"Jack, I know you are upset. I am upset that this situation has gotten you upset. I am going to get to work right away on..."

And remember to say this from a mood that matches their anger or frustration. Don't be all nice and comforting in your tone of voice. If you do, you'll just make them madder because they won't feel understood.

Mood matching is something you do often with friends, family and many prospects already. You just do it so automatically that you don't always notice it. By choosing to match someone, you give yourself greater influence with your clients and prospects. By matching moods and getting in rapport with an angry client, you will have greater influence over the future of the relationship.

Shamus Brown is a Professional Sales Coach and former high-tech sales pro who began his career selling for IBM. Shamus has written more than 50 articles on selling and is the creator of the popular Persuasive Selling Skills CD Audio Program. You can read more of Shamus Brown's sales tips at and you can learn more about his persuasive sales skills training at

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Quotcan You Help Mequot The Hidden Customer

Writen by Donovan Baldwin

I was an assistant manager for a major consumer electronics chain, and I was where you would expect an "assistant" manager to be, doing what you would expect an "assistant" manager to to do. I was on top of a ladder, less than ten minutes before closing time, trying to hang the signs for the new sales special starting the next day. I was tired, cross, worried about personal and financial problems, and not in a mood to deal politely with anybody about anything.

As I looked down at the scruffy, nondescript person who seemed to be a laborer in need of a bath and a change of clothes, I especially didn't feel like being helpful and polite. But, my parents had raised me that way, so as I wearily descended the ladder, I gathered it all together, turned towards the man, smiled, and said, "Yes Sir! How can I help you?", as sincerely as I could.

To make a long story short, he was the yard foreman at a local quarry, and his boss had sent him to us to see if we had some way he could communicate with his truck drivers who were going in and out of his site all day long.

Well, to make the story even shorter, I sold that man and his boss several hundred dollar's worth of communications equipment and made them regular customers, which earned me lots of commissions, and made lots of money and free publicity for the company I worked for.

All the training courses will tell you it is best to "target" your customer. Focus on reaching the specific individual who is interested in your product or service. They will tell you to go to where those people are found, either on the internet, in magazines, or other advertising venues.

True, most of your sales will probably come from targeted advertising such as that, but you can never tell when you will run into a "Larry" who will want to put some money in your pocket.

Who's Larry?

Well, in my younger, wilder days as a young soldier stationed in San Angelo, Texas, I used to spend a lot of time at the J&J Tavern, drinking beer and shooting pool. One of the regulars was an elderly man (about the same age I am now, only I am NOT elderly). He dressed in the same old beat-up outfit, and seemed to be content to spend his social security, or whatever he lived on, betting on his pool playing abilities and drinking beer. We would shoot him, beat him, but never play for high stakes because he wasn't very good, and we didn't like taking his limited funds away from him. We couldn't stop him from playing, however, and the games were always for money...and he always lost.

One hot summer day, in the middle of a pool game, a flashy brand-new Cadillac pulled up to the curb, and an older woman with way too much make-up and more than enough jewelry, and wearing a fur coat in the summer heat got out. Standing in the doorway of the Tavern, she yelled, "Larry! Get out here now! You know we've got to be some where!"

Poor old Larry slunk off without a word. Always laughing, drunk and boisterous, he now seemed a weak shell of himself.

As they drove off, we asked the bartender who that was.

She said, "Oh. That's Larry's wife."

She let it lay there a minute, and then said, "Bet you thought Larry was living on a Social Security check, or something?"

We nodded.

She said, "Larry scratched out a living for several years with a few head of cattle on a dirt poor ranch outside of town until one day they found oil directly under his little piece of land. Larry's been a filthy rich millionaire for several years. All he wants to do is drink his beer and shoot a little pool, and that keeps him happy, but his wife wants to be queen of the walk and every once in a while she ropes him in, cleans him up, and makes him go somewhere and do things he doesn't like to do with people he doesn't like to be with. He likes being here with you boys and shooting pool. I'm glad you never let him play for high stakes. That's nice of you. Have a beer on me."

Don't ever be so sure who ISN'T your next best customer.

The author is retired from the Army after 21 years of service, has worked as an accountant, optical lab manager, restaurant manager, and instructor. He has been a member of Mensa for several years, and has written and published poetry, essays, and articles on various subjects for the last 40 years. He has been an active internet marketer since 2000, and now makes his living online. To learn more about improving your marketing performance, please visit To read more articles by the author, please visit his blog at

Friday, January 16, 2009

Boost Business With Two Simple Words

Writen by JoAnna Carey

The economy is unpredictable. War is raging. People around the globe are expressing a renewed interest in re-evaluating priorities and rumor has it that humankind is embarking upon a major shift in consciousness. These are just a few of the reasons why adding a personal touch to your communications with customers and employees can lead to greater levels of success in today's impersonal business environment.

During the recent years of economic growth, many industries scrambled to keep up with a constant stream of new business. Buildings expanded, product lines grew and "mandatory" overtime became the norm. Customers were sometimes expected to overlook service and production delays due to an unusually high volume of business. Employees were often required to work extended hours to fulfill customer demands. Throughout these years of rising profits, many businesses promised customers and employees that the workload would return to a less frantic "norm."

Now, companies are facing an environment of slower growth and "normal" seems to be a word that can only describe a long forgotten era. Corporate down-sizings and plant closings litter the evening news and lease signs litter the industrial landscape. This uncertainty provides the perfect environment for business leaders to build more personal business relationships by offering a genuine thank-you to customers and employees.

Everyone leads busy lives. In our high tech, often impersonal society, people remember those who add a personal touch to their day. The key to success in a lean economy may be to retain, instead of having to replace, your best customers and employees. Consider the following questions.


1. Who is your best customer today and why?

2. Who was your best customer a few years ago and why?

3. When was the last time you personally asked customers to express questions or concerns?

4. What areas of your business need improvement based on customer questions and concerns?

5. How much would it cost you to replace a lost customer?

6. When was the last time you called each customer to say "thank you for your business"?


1. Who is your best employee today and why?

2. Who was your best employee a few years ago and why?

3. When was the last time you hosted an open forum for employees to express questions or concerns?

4. What suggestions do employees have in regard to customer questions and concerns?

5. How much would it cost you to replace a lost employee?

6. When was the last time you thanked your employees for helping you stay in business?

If you are wondering what all of this has to do with improving your bottom line, then think of a time when you have done a little something extra and found yourself muttering, "They didn't even have the decency to say thank you." I am not suggesting that you should thank others solely to improve your bottom line. Many kind acts do go unnoticed, but thanking others may help you focus on the things in your business (and life) that you have to be grateful for. And, aside from the bottom line, aren't you also in business for the victory, the accomplishment, the success, the reward of hearing someone say "thank you" for your contribution?

In my experience, thank-you notes are even less common in business relationships. It's a quick, thoughtful way to show clients and employees how important they are to you. An added benefit of business thank-you notes is that the receiver of that note will probably remember your gratitude long after the words have been expressed. As you move through the days and weeks ahead, think about those people in your life who deserve a genuine thank-you. Who goes above and beyond what his or her job requires? Reward that person by hand-writing a personalized thank-you note.

For readers who need statistics in order to believe in the power of saying thank you, the National Association for Employee Recognition partnered with WorldatWork to conduct a 2002 Employee Recognition Survey that showed … * 41% of respondents are "doing more" with employee recognition programs than they were in the 12 months prior. * Of the companies in the survey that did not have formal recognition systems in place a full 54% of respondents expressed intent to develop policies in the coming 12 months.

Thanking customers and employees is simply the right thing to do. Challenge yourself and your leaders to express gratitude and add joy to the days of customers and employees. Commit to sending a personalized, handwritten thank-you note to one person each day of this week and pay attention to how your business improves. (Don't cheat; there are seven days of the week to be thankful!)

* Copyright 2005 JoAnna Carey, Carey'D Away Enterprises, LLC.Adapted from the book Rat Race Relaxer: Your Potential & The Maze of Life by JoAnna Carey. All Rights Reserved.

{This article may be reproduced and shared in any format as long as the contact and copyright information is included. Please also send us an email at and let us know how you are using the articles so we can continue to provide useful and timely information to our loyal readers. A courtesy copy of your publication is appreciated. }

JoAnna Carey, aka "The Rat Race Relaxer," is an energetic entrepreneur who delivers influential, customized presentations that meet the fluctuating needs of businesses and associations. Her background includes marketing, public relations and sales experience, spanning the non-profit, healthcare, banking and financial services industries. JoAnna is the producer and host of her own weekly television program titled The Rat Race Relaxer™ Show and the author of the book titled Rat Race Relaxer: Your Potential & The Maze of Life. Contact Carey'D Away Enterprises, LLC; or call (616) 530-3787.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Golden Rule Of Customer Service

Writen by Dana Wallert

"Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you." Don't worry; I'm not trying to take you to Sunday school under the pretense of a business article! However, in one form or another we have learned this rule for as long as we can remember. Many people try their best to apply this rule in their everyday lives. But, how many of us try to follow such a simple principle when it comes to business?

If you think about it, it could single handedly be the most important rule to follow in business. After unpleasant sales encounters, most customers are not most upset with the product or service that they purchased. Sure that may have been the root of the problem. But, most people understand that we don't live in a perfect world and sometimes things don't work!

The reason most people leave these situations upset is because of the way that they've been treated. They feel that they have spent the money for your product or service that for one reason or another did not perform properly. This upsets them, but what really angers them is that they feel that no one cares.

We've all had negative customer service experiences. Those of us in sales have most likely been on both sides of such exchanges.

When we're in the salesperson role, we may be running ragged from an extremely busy day. We may have issues going on in our personal life. We might simply have gotten up in a bad mood that morning. There's nothing innately wrong with any of those things. However, it is our job to find a way to put all of those things aside to help the people we're paid to assist. This is why I feel that sales people should really be required to take Acting 101! Ideally, we would always be able to genuinely be interested in listening to our customers and helping them find the solutions that work best for them. But, we all know that that's pretty much impossible everyday, absent a fairly large prescription of Prozac! Salespeople are just that, people. We're not always going to be at the top of our game, but we must be able to "act" as if we are. Convincingly, act as if we are!

On the other hand, being that salespeople are people, we are constantly faced with these situations in which we are the customer. Undoubtedly, you have run into a few salespeople who have irritated you or who may not be quite as helpful as you'd like.

Now, obviously, we will never be able to be perfect in all of our customer interactions. However, if we were to try and keep the good old "Golden Rule" in our consciousness at all times when dealing with customers, I think we'd find our jobs more enjoyable, our customers happier and yes, even our profits growing!

Dana Wallert is the owner of an online virtual assistance company. She has many years experience in sales and marketing, as well as office management. Find more about Dana and sign up to receive her free monthly newsletter at DW Office Solutions - Virtual Assistant Services.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dealing With Difficult Clients

Writen by Sophie Moraga

Sooner or later, if you work as a virtual assistant, you are bound to come in contact with at least one Difficult Client. These are defined by the following behaviors:

1. Impatience & Irritation

2. Angry Emails

3. Yelling

4. Irrational Demands

5. Threats

6. Late Payments, or Not Paying at All

Before you get too scared, and think about ditching your comfortable work-at-home living, let me tell you that there are several ways to work with these Difficult Clients, and even possibly train them to your way of thinking.

Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. had it right when they said that the best way to solve a conflict is with non-violence. Yelling at a difficult client is only likely to yield even worse results than you're already getting. You may lose this client forever or, if an invoice is still outstanding, not get paid. And none of us wants that. Coward's Guide to Conflict offers real-life techniques for resolving conflicts, even if you'd prefer to curl up into a little ball at the very thought of your Difficult Client. This mediation coach and former psychologist really gets it, and can help you, before you lose your mind.

The second step may be to augment your understanding of conflict, and why it arises in the first place. Universal Class has a wonderful online class called Mastery Over Anger, which teaches tools for dealing with conflict, whether physical, emotional or mental, in ways other than violence. It's extremely useful in your personal life as well as your business life, and just might teach you a few techniques for tolerating your mother-in-law, too. All lessons are conducted online, so you can complete them whenever you have the time, which may as well be now.

If things get really bad, and you aren't able to alleviate tensions with your Difficult Client through talking, you may need a lawyer. If you have a signed agreement spelling out your services, along with any deadlines for delivery, and your client still won't pay, you may need to take him or her to small claims court. Legal Zoom is an excellent source for filing your small claim, simply and easily, right over the Internet. With a minimum of (additional) stress, you can be on your way to collecting money that's rightly yours, without having to fight with your client on the phone or over email.

And if all else fails, get yourself a nice bottle of Chateau St. Jean 2002 Sonoma County Reserve Chardonnay (with a 98 point rating in Wine Enthusiast) and give yourself over to the "bright inviting notes of pineapple, nectarines, and kiwi."

When you've calmed down some, you may realize that your life is better off without this Difficult Client. You may even want to join, rent a few video games, and take out your frustration in a way that's not going to hurt anyone, except maybe your joystick thumb. And that hasn't landed anyone in jail yet, so far as I know.

Copyright 2006

For more stories like this, visit

Sophie Moraga is part of the team at She has worked for the Walt Disney Company, Sony and New Line Cinema.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Made To Order 5 Ways To Add Value

Writen by Janice Hoffmann

A recent American Demographics survey concluded that 75 percent of American adults crave more customizable products and services, and 85 percent of 18 to 24 year olds feel the same way.

THE TEST: When you come in contact with one of your customers or colleagues, in what ways can you 'personalize' the experience?

1. SHARE A LAUGH: Laughing releases even more endorphins than smiling. It also releases enkephalins, which are natural pain suppressors.

2. PAY SOMEONE A COMPLIMENT: Praise stimulates the brain. Look for the good in others and learn to appreciate small things.

3. CULTIVATE A POSITIVE ATTITUDE: A Patient-focused medical study showed that optimists are able to cope more effectively with stress. They tend to look on the bright side of things, and take extra steps to circumvent or diminish obstacles.

4. SEND THANK-YOU NOTES: 'Management guru' Tom Peter's writes, "send them by truck loads". A good will message strengthens the importance of a relationship and validates an interest in the product, service, and collaboration. It's common courtesy, and you'll stand-out.

5. FORWARD AN ARTICLE ON A TOPIC OF INTEREST: Have you talked about movies, travel, or sports with your client or colleagues? If so, clip out a review of a movie they enjoyed, send them a hot tip on a restaurant in a city they frequently travel, or pass on an inspiring story---A fun note, a newspaper clipping, or an article on a recent business trend, can send a message that you've been listening carefully.

THE RESULTS: You affect others profoundly & people want more. WOW!

Janice Hoffmann is founder of SUCCESS IS SWEETEST, A New York City Career & Lifestyle Coaching Boutique.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Contact Centers Online

Writen by Jimmy Sturo

Online contact centers are a great boon to customers. These centers handle e-mail newsletters, website inquiries and chats just like regular contact centers. They are provided with special software that would allow contact information to be routed to the correct people, enable contacts to be easily tracked and required data to be collected quickly.

Nowadays it has become important to provide excellent customer service on the Web. Most customers prefer the web to phone or e-mail. So the web self-service should be the top priority for every company. An effective web self-service environment can significantly reduce the workload of the regular contact center. Online contact centers can produce a substantial return on investment. Now many successful web-based service implementations are available for a wide range of industries. Contact centers online can satisfy the customers in a better way, reduce the contact center costs and provide the maximum value out of all your Internet investments.

Online contact centers act as a tool to increase sales, provide new revenue-generation opportunities and improve customer satisfaction and loyalty. The web collaboration allows the contact center agents to provide immediate answers to customer questions, backed by web pages and other web based contents. The agents can also help the customers to solve complex support issues through simultaneous voice-and-visual interaction. The agents can also share web pages with the customers during a voice or text chat conversation. And it is possible to fill the online forms collaboratively in real time. They can share any windows desktop application by using a web browser and also conduct one-to-one interactions and one-to-many or many-to-many online seminars. The multi-session chat capabilities can increase the productivity of contact centers online. So the customer?s waiting time can be decreased.

There are some online contact centers powered by software catering to the needs of online merchants who wish to provide live customer service online.

Contact Centers provides detailed information on Contact Centers, Hosted Contact Center, Contact Center Consultants, Contact Center Outsourcing and more. Contact Centers is affiliated with Inbound Call Center Services.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Nine Principles Of Customer Service For The Travel Industry

Writen by Tim Warren

If you want to learn how to get your clients to do your selling for you through excpetional customer service, read on. Learn customer service secrets from tourism professionals, apply them to your business and prosper.

1. Be a Good Listener – Most important, listen to your customers' concerns and complaints, as well as their praise. Discover what it is they want. Your guests are your best source of information in assessing your services and performance. Well-written guest surveys are invaluable for getting feedback, testimonials, and referrals. Help prospects qualify themselves before signing up. Make sure they understand the rigors, responsibilities, and dangers, as well as the level of exertion, entailed in the experiences you offer.

2. Exceed Expectations – Under-promise and over-deliver on a consistent basis with exceptional service. This is what they'll remember and tell their friends about. It is amazing how small details can make a big impression. You work hard and spend big money to get qualified prospects to call your office or e-mail you. How professional, informative, and timely is your response? That first contact can set the tone and significantly impact a purchasing decision.

3. Practice Safety - Clients want to know the destination and activities are safe. They will feel more at ease during real or perceived risks if they have been educated about their new activities or environments in advance. Unfortunately, if most human beings' fears or worries are not addressed, their minds will grow weeds, not flowers. Advise on plant, animal, and natural resource cautions. Let them know that there is generally nothing to worry about if they respect the environment and heed your advice. Brief guests on your safety procedures for any excursions without staff away from home base.

4. Provide Great Food - Guests must eat well, never be hungry, and have adequate water and drinks. Fresh food with ample portions served at a scheduled time can make any adventure more memorable and satisfying. If meal service is going to be delayed, provide a little snack to tide guests over.

5. Cater to Sleep Needs - Guests need and want comfortable and peaceful sleep. Make sure everyone is comfortable with his or her bedding. Cater to individual needs by offering single accommodations. Charging an extra cost is okay. Provide easy access to bathrooms with safety procedures for nighttime use. Separate late evening social areas from sleep areas by distance and/or trees or a hill. Hand out earplugs if necessary.

6. Think Comfort - Provide first world standards when possible. Bathroom breaks and bathing is important on a regular basis. Give people every opportunity for comfort: hammocks, beach chairs, portable toilets, whatever you can provide. Never go too long between bathroom breaks. Some guests may have weak bladders and need more frequent breaks to feel comfortable and relaxed. Make sure everyone has adequate water, as well as appropriate clothing and footwear.

7. Be Sensitive to Capabilities - Never exceed physical or mental capacities of guests. Always ask groups and individuals if they are comfortable with the activity and exertion level before and during the activity. Be sensitive to the slowest as well as strongest in the group. Splitting the group into two smaller groups is a good option. Rest as needed. I believe in a trip rating or difficulty system that allows guests and outfitters to jointly participate in selecting the most appropriate trip.

8. Be Fun - Be friendly, helpful, courteous, and fun! Make sure your staff is there for the guests and not for themselves. Good storytellers, jokesters, and musicians can distinguish your staff and company from other companies. Be sensitive with humor and with families with kids. If you cater to kids, employ staff that loves kids. Guests sometimes need encouragement or guidance to try an activity. You are the guide and activity director combined. Discuss activities or mini- classes in advance so guests will know what is happening and when.< br>

9. Provide Information - An informed guest is safer and more relaxed, and has more fun. Our guests are educated and want to learn about their new environment. Assume that guests know little or nothing about their surroundings. Look for opportunities to provide a minimum of three details about each type of surrounding element during any outing. Be prepared to talk about the plants, animals, birds, trees, rocks, geological formations, fish, marine mammals, and shells. Include information about local culture, economy, and history, too. The more we can share, the more value we are providing our guests.

Like other businesses I know and have worked with, you, too, will experience more repeat clients and referrals by applying these details of great customer service. Your business, in time, will prosper like never before!

Since 1994, Tim Warren and Adventure Business Consultants, has helped dozen's of travel business, destinations, tourism Assn. and boards with customer service training, consulting and creating exceptional marketing material. Click Here For Free Bimonthly E-zine – Tourism Business Success - News, tips, tools and specials that you can use to increase your travel business success.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Customer Feedback The Breakfast Of Champions

Writen by Bill James-Wallace

Feedback is important in every sphere of life but more so in business simply because it tells how we're going and how we can improve.

If we continue to improve, we'll continue to grow.

The benefits of feedback are obvious:

1. Consolidates the relationship
2. Lets you know where you're falling down
3. Opens up communication
4. Can be the catalyst to valuable testimonials

But Many Businesses Still Don't Do It

So, why do so many businesses fail to implement a proper customer feedback process?

Every business will have their unique reasons and on the face of it, most will be very rational. Here are three:

1. Time - it's hard, in the traditional format to arrange constant customer feedback as well as track it and take action.

2. What to Ask - Some questions may seem personal, while others may seem to say "tell me how good I am". Where's the balance?

3. Customer Response - not to the survey questions but to the survey itself. Just not knowing people's reactions might hinder the implementation process.

But what if you could get the feedback when you wanted it, automatically and have it collated so you can get an overall feel for how you're doing?

How priceless would that be?

To know what your customer's think about you, your product and your service would be so powerful your business would be at the edge of its performance very quickly.

You see, you don't want "nice & fluffy" feedback.

You need feedback much like the Grand Slalom skiers are getting at the Winter Olympics in Turin at the moment.

If they miss by 2/100ths of a second, they get told. There's no apology or softening the blow.

That's what great business is about.

But How do You do This Quickly, Easily?

For those with assistants it may be easier but with any business there are simple and effective ways to get customer feedback. Some use checklists, others have it pre-prepared in the client file and hand it over or post it out at the same time every time.

One way I'm going to suggest is with an online survey.

Why Online?

To my way of thinking this is the best way to get client feedback today.

1. The population is increasingly "web aware" and are exploring the Web more and more.

2. An online survey (example below) is generally quick saving both you and your customer time.

3. Completing the survey privately will allow better responses. You can even have the responses go to a third party like a coach or a manager.

4. Inexpensive: this is a big one. Mail out surveys cost both time and money. Online surveys, once they are set up are done. All it needs is for clients to complete them.

Nothing Happens in a Vacuum

I can hear some people question the use of technology and how it might appear to be impersonal. I actually believe the opposite.

If any service provider has made enough of a connection then almost any tool used to promote the relationship (like a survey) will be beneficial. The means to that survey can be immaterial.

I will agree though that online surveys, just shot out of a cannon because it's the latest fad can do more harm than good. You need a well thought out strategy to go with the surveys.

Overcoming Resistance

If a client refuses an online survey, that in itself is feedback - not to change tools, but to develop a closer relationship, find out their objction to it and help them overcome whatever is getting in the way.

It is a signal to add value.

So How Hard Is It?

I'm not sure who said it but someone wiser than me stated: "The questions you ask are defined by the answers you need." (not want)

That is how you form your questions. And if you follow the advice the content becomes easier.

Click the link below and you'll be take to a survey site of mine where there are 6 short questions.

Complete the questions (takes about 3 minutes).

You'll get an email with your responses and I will too.

There will be a question about wanting to discuss this tool further. Just let me know either yes or no and I'll follow your decision.

Now What To Do

The next thing to do is to work out 3 - 5 questions you'd like to know from your clients and write them out how you'd like to ask them.

If you'd like feedback on your questions you can fire them off to me and I'll oblige - f.r.e.e. of charge for the next two weeks.

I'll look forward to your responses.

Bill James-Wallace

p.s. if you know someone who is looking into this already, feel free to pass this article on to them.

Bill James-Wallace helps his clients grow their business through better and more strategic customer relationships. Drawing on his 18 years experience in the financial industry as a Sales Manager and Manager of Training & Development, he helps business owners play on the same field as corporate entities.

Bill can be contacted at His blog-based website is

Friday, January 9, 2009

Foreign Contact Centers

Writen by Jimmy Sturo

Foreign contact centers are the contact centers of a country in foreign locations. Foreign contact centers are also referred to as foreign customer interaction centers or foreign e-contact centers. These are the central points of an enterprise from where all customer contacts are managed. They typically include one or more online call centers also which process e-mail newsletters and postal mail catalogs and handle website inquiries and chats. These centers also maintain a comprehensive record of customers.

Customer feedback reveals that there is comparable difference in the quality of domestic and offshore agents. Foreign contact centers train their customer care representatives in accent neutralization, which helps them to speak slowly and include idiomatic American expressions in conversation. Foreign support agents are often well educated and a rigorous screening of applicants is usually conducted because of the high competition for jobs in developing countries.

The primary things that the companies should consider when they want to start a foreign contact centers are: their expertise in managing remote locations, the caliber and skill set of the labor force, the cost of labor, language skills, telecom bandwidth, cost and reliability, infrastructure, political stability, enforceability of intellectual property rights and business contracts, and the general maturity of the business environment.

The most obvious benefit of having foreign contact centers is the low cost. You can set up your business with excellent infra structure at reasonable costs. You can get some of the best talented people to work for you at half the cost you would otherwise incur. They provide world-class service to your clients. The foreign contact centers offer high quality, reliable and cost-effective solutions. They also provide full service-project and account management support for their clients, from initial planning to pre-delivery, straight through to final implementation, assuring that the client?s requirements and objectives are met at every stage.

Contact Centers provides detailed information on Contact Centers, Hosted Contact Center, Contact Center Consultants, Contact Center Outsourcing and more. Contact Centers is affiliated with Inbound Call Center Services.