We’ve all heard the mantra that customer satisfaction is imperative when it comes to running a business. In fact, customers are the lifeblood of any business, large or small. That’s why maintaining and, in some cases, improving customer service is imperative to any company. Let’s review some rules for keeping your customers satisfied and loyal to your brand.
Most companies already have a customer service policy in order to maintain strong relationships with their customers, but a smart company will always ask the question, “What is good customer service?” This is especially true as touchpoints with clients and customers become more technology driven.
Deal with Complaints
We know it is no fun, but handling complaints head on is the best way to turn a disgruntled customer or client into one that may value your efforts to make things right again. This is critically important in our social media driven world where one post about a bad experience could spread like wildfire. Sites like Yelp, Google Reviews and other online review platforms should be monitored so you can make things right with a customer as soon as possible. Be sure that you respond online as well as through other more personal avenues to show others who are reading that you value your customers’ experiences and are trying to rectify the situation.
Know Your Product or Service
Honestly, every person who deals with clients or customers should know the intricacies of your product or services. When a customer has a question or problem, a customer service agent should be able to talk him/her through the issue easily. That means knowing the product forward and backward and being trained on potential issues that could arise. For service-related fields, agents should understand what the service entails and what it is limited to including a warranty policy.
The Ability to Read People
Reading a client’s emotional state is important to being able to successfully help them. If you are face-to-face, body language and eye contact should be fairly easy to pick up on. On the phone or even through an online chat, things get a little more complicated. Look and listen for subtle clues about the client’s current mood, patience level, and personality. This will help you go far in keeping your customer interactions positive.
Survey Your Customers
As your company grows and evolves, it may be worth your time to take a gauge of how well you are really doing in terms of customer service. A short survey could give you some insight into both what is working and what could use improvement.
Need more information on providing superb customer service? Check out our workshop on this topic September 20, 2019.
How does your sales team operate? Are they cooperative and open, or do they like to keep all their strategies secret? Chances are that there is a little bit of both going on in offices across the region. The balance can be hard to maintain, especially when numbers are measured and compensation relies on quantities sold. Here are a few ways you can encourage your sales team to maintain a healthy balance between competition and cooperation.
Brainstorm Targeting Techniques
Criteria for Success online suggests asking your sales team a few important questions. “Does your company have a set plan for targeting? Is every salesperson on the team executing the targeting plan the same way? Want to mix things up?” Ask yourselves who your best customers are and where they are coming from. Why are they your best customers? Take some time to look at where your targets are found and what other areas can hold similar customers.
Develop Success Stories
Whenever someone is considering investing in a product or service, they want to hear from other customers and how they fared under your company. Create a series of success stories that can help you explain how your business has helped others succeed. For example, if your company is an IT support company, have a few short stories that can illustrate how your company has guided or supported other companies that needed IT services. Maybe a business that you have serviced has seen an increase in traffic on their website or and increase in clients of their own due to the work you have done. Stories like those can help sell your business without being a hard sell.
Ask for Referrals
We all have those loyal customers whom we adore. When the opportunity arises, ask for a written testimonial for your social media platforms or possibly a write up on an online review site like Yelp or Google Review. Most clients are thrilled to be able to help grow your business. These reviews or testimonials can really help the sales team when it comes time to close a deal.
Not only can loyal customers help out with testimonials or online reviews, they can verbally refer you to other people in their field of work. It never hurts to ask for a referral or a mention to others.
Finding customers can happen in the most unlikely places. Not all sales are made at networking events, seminars, or workshops. Many times, the sale happens months down the road after someone has gotten to know you during community events, volunteering opportunities, or through valued referrals. Building relationships and talking about your business can be something you do in many venues. You never know when someone may need your services and suddenly your name comes to mind.
Do you need help with your sales team? Check out our workshop on September 19th titled, “Secrets of Effortless Selling.”
In order for any business to grow and evolve, it needs financing. For some, that means taking out loans through traditional banking institutions while, for others, it means finding investors to support your company. But how do you get those investors? One way to gain them is to impress them with your business plan which includes finding customers, improving your service or product, and growing the business over the course of several years.
Entrepreneurs around the nation are always on the hunt for investors for their business. According to HackerNoon, “Searching for an investor is not easy, especially when there are high chances that your idea might get turned down. Looking to raise funds is an entrepreneur’s version of taking a job interview where you need to say the right things at the right time.”
The Role of the Business Plan
A business plan is a written description of your business’s future, a document that tells what you plan to do and how you plan to do it. Most business plans are written to not only impress investors but also to provide direction to a young business hoping to be successful. The U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) suggests having the following categories:
- Executive summary – a snapshot of your business
- Company description – describes what you do
- Market analysis – research on your industry, market and competitors
- Organization and management – your business and management structure
- Service or product – the products or services you’re offering
- Marketing and sales – how you’ll market your business and your sales strategy
- Funding request – how much money you’ll need for the next 3 to 5 years
- Financial projections – supply information like balance sheets
- Appendix – an optional section that includes résumés and permits
These categories will be able to tell your potential investors a lot about who you are as an entrepreneur and what your company will look like in action. The more concise and consistent you can be in this plan the more you will reassure investors that you have a well-thought out plan for your business, its services and/or products.
In order to let investors know that you have done your due diligence in researching your field, be sure to include charts and graphs that make it easier for investors to grasp the projected evolution of your business financials. In addition, you will want to demonstrate that your projections are achievable and not just a pipe dream.
Investors like to know that every conceivable issue has been hashed out, so be sure to include possible challenges and how you will overcome each one. Look ahead a few months into your company, a year and then several years to find potential obstacles. That means you will need to be as honest as possible in revealing what you see as your potential strengths and weaknesses as you start your business.
Do you need help writing your business plan or finding ways to impress your investors? Check out our workshop on Creating a Business Plan that is Investor Ready or Understanding your Business Financials.
Making a sales pitch can be a balancing act that not many people can do with ease. You don’t want to come off as aggressive and you surely don’t want to be meek in your approach either. What is the right tone, pace, and level of authority that you should take when making your sales pitch?
Know Your Audience
Obviously, you wouldn’t talk to an audience consisting of a panel of experts the same way you would talk to people who are just now entering the field. The same goes for your sales pitch. Always know to whom you are speaking. Research what their specific needs are and what they are hoping to get out of the pitch. Gear your level of information toward their level of need. The more you know about the group you are pitching to, the better. Include stories that may apply to them and their field as well as gear all slides or handouts in the same manner.
Keep it Short, Simple, and To-the-Point
Business people are inherently busy. The fact that they made time for your pitch is good, but you want to value that time as much as possible. Keep your message clear and to the point. Try to avoid straying off topic or relying on small talk once you have started your presentation. Keep all graphics or slides easy to read and direct. Your audience will appreciate that you value their time and will know immediately if you have a deep knowledge of your product or service rather quickly.
Anticipated Questions Early
If you have been in the marketing field for a while, you can probably anticipate the questions that inevitably come up at the end of your pitch. Instead of waiting to be asked, build the answer directly into your presentation. Your audience will appreciate that you have anticipated their concerns and that you have already considered a response or solution.
Don’t Just Talk, Listen!
Many salespeople have perfected their pitches within the first few months of working with a certain product or service. Make sure that your pitch doesn’t sound scripted. Change it up and use different stories or updated information whenever possible. In addition, don’t take up the allotted time by talking endlessly. Listen to what your audience has to say as well. You may have inadvertently missed some information or confused members of your audience. Take the time to hear their questions and follow up, even after you have completed your time by text, email, or voicemail.
We all live busy lives and setting time aside to hear another marketing representative drone on can be painful. Try to be yourself and sprinkle your personality into your presentation. This may be the thing your audience remembers most about your presentation. It will also let the group learn about the human side of your business/product.
Do you have questions about how to improve your sales pitch? Check out our workshop on Sept 12th called Pitch Panel Session.