How does your company communicate with clients? Email, text, video conferencing, snail mail, or in-person contact are a few of the ways to do it. But are you doing it right and at the proper times? Business communication specialists recommend optimizing all the ways that you communicate so that clients have a positive experience regardless of the method. Let’s take a closer look at communicating with your consumers.
- Email is a great communication tool because it allows the viewer to look at the communication when it is right for them, versus the need to reply to a phone call or instant message immediately. The urgency is lower with emails and they also allow for communication that can reach several parties, thus keeping everyone in the loop. One negative aspect of email is the vast amount of messages that most business people receive on a daily basis.
- Phone – Sometimes when an issue needs close attention and immediate feedback, it is best to just pick up the phone. It allows for human contact and tells your client that you are handling the problem as you speak.
- Newsletters – Whether done electronically or in paper form, these are still worthy of creating if you want to reach a
- broad audience and hope to keep everyone on the same page or make announcements about new products or news.
- Virtual Conferencing – Regardless of the platform you use, whether it is Google Hangout or Skype, seeing your client can take away all the guesswork of reading the mood and reception to an issue or problem. These conference calls are great with remote clients or clients in several locations.
- Texting – If you need a quick answer that can be done in a few characters this may be the way to go, especially if you have just had contact with the client and you are already on the same page.
Regardless of which method you use to optimize communication with your clients, try to be aware of the positives and negatives of each method.
Tick, Tick, Tick. . .
Does your work day slip between your fingers and make you wonder where the time went by the time you reach closing time? If so, you may need to re-think your time management skills. Learning how to manage your time can be difficult and take some time to learn but here are some expert tips that can get you started.
- Maintain a Calendar – Carry your schedule with you at all times. This may mean using an online scheduler and project management tool. Be sure to refer to the calendar regularly throughout the day and keep track of how long regular activities take. This may seem tedious but will give you a better idea of how long certain activities will regularly take. You will then be able to plan your time better in the future.
- Plan Every Morning – Many business leaders emphasize that what keeps them on track all day is a 30 minute review every morning of what the goals are for the day and week, maybe even the month. Having those goals in mind before you start meetings or rushing from activities to activity can keep you focused.
- Know How to Delegate – Having a trusted employee who can handle some of your daily duties can mean you can attend to more important duties. Someone who can field your email and phone calls as well as prioritizing them can help you stay on task all day long.
- Eliminate Distractions – Start paying attention to the number of times someone interrupts you when you’re in the midst of an important task. Eliminate those distractions by closing your door or doing work in a separate area. Or set aside a certain time of day when you are free.
- Start Early – While it might be nice to sleep in or have a lazy coffee, getting an early start is the hallmark of leaders who have time management mastered.
What is your company’s online reputation? If you Google yourself or your brand name what is it that you find? Do you see positive comments on social sites or negative comments on review sites like: RipOffOnline, Yelp or the Better Business Bureau? Worse yet, is your knowledge limited of what customers, clients, vendors and employees are saying about you? Here is a quick guide to help you and your brand manage your online reputation.
In the past few years having an online presence has changed drastically. What used to be static sites and little user interaction has blossomed into daily interactions and comments on social sites and review sites. These types of sites are easily accessible to the public and can show up on a general search for your company, name or brand. No matter the size of your business, people are talking about you. If it is positive, then great. But if it is negative, you better have a way to take control of your reputation. Using Online Reputation Management Tools is probably the best way to go for busy business owners.
According to research and tutorials from Neil Patel at QuickSprout online, there are several steps to taking control of your online reputation. Most of them are fairly simple and will save you money in the long run.
Google Yourself –
The first step is to Google yourself. Literally type in your name, brand or email address and see what comes up. There should be social media profiles, your web page and all the good stuff that you want potential customers to see about your and your brand. This is the information you can control.
Manage your Reviews –
One great tool that’s free is called “Me on the Web” by Google. What you want to do is log into your Google account and your Google dashboard and then click on “Me on the Web.” The main features of this tool allows you to search for yourself and most importantly get alerts when your name is mentioned on the web. This includes your name, email, business name or brand.
One of the most important things you want to be alerted to is if there are any negative mentions or reviews of you or your brand so you can respond quickly and professionally. There are so many review sites out there like Yelp, RipOffOnline, BBB and a host of others. You can choose to go to each, individually, to view what is being said about you, or you can get help with an online tool such as Go Fish Digital or Mention.net. Sites such as these can search all the complaint sites at once or alert you by email if it has found your name mentioned. Being proactive can save you time and money. Companies who have not reacted quickly have seen consumers react in powerful ways such as taking their business elsewhere or even escalating negative reviews.
(Initial or Renewal Course based on the 2015 AHA Guidelines)
Basic Life Support (BLS) is the foundation for saving lives after cardiac arrest. This course teaches both single-rescuer and team basic life support skills for application in both in-facility and prehospital settings. This course is designed for healthcare professionals and other personnel who need to know how to perform CPR and other basic cardiovascular life support skills.
In addition, BLS training can be appropriate for first responders, such as police officers and firefighters, as well as for laypeople whose work brings them into contact with members of the public, such as school, fitness center, or hotel and restaurant employees.
Students must pass a written exam and skills test in order to qualify for a BLS Course Completion Card.
Upon successful completion of this course, students will receive a completion cad valid for 2 years.
Conveniently scheduled on Saturday, please choose the session that works best for you.
So you started your own business? Each sale, each new client and each business connection you make grows your small business just as you dreamed right? But maybe you want to continue to broaden your client base. There are many options to consider when thinking about expanding and growing your small business no matter what field you are in.
What are some of the most effective small business expansion tips to grow a business beyond its current status? Let’s take a closer look at steps you may want to initiate to grow your small business.
- Social Media – If you are looking for a fairly cost effective and easy way to reach more of your targeted audience try a social media campaign. Do some research on which social media platform attracts your demographic and start posting in that medium. The more your name is seen the better. Social media can be an invaluable tool for engaging with consumers and expanding your brand recognition.
Open Another Location – This is often the first way business owners approach growth. If you feel confident that your current business location is under control, consider expanding by opening a new location.
Merge With or Acquire Other Businesses in Your Market – There are bound to be other companies in your field who may have similar goals. Explore merging, partnering or possibly even acquiring those companies as a way to expand.
- Stay Competitive – Technology changes so rapidly these days that it would be easy to be left behind if your new company does not keep up with the latest and greatest technology. This is especially true if your company is in anyway related to the tech world or relies on technology to provide a product or service.
- Target Other Markets – Your current market is serving you well. Are there others? Probably. Use your imagination to determine what other markets could use your product.
There are so many facets to your business to maintain and nurture on a daily basis that it is sometimes overwhelming to figure out where improvements should be made. One area that can always be improved upon is customer service – the life and heart of your business.
Standing out in today’s competitive marketplace means putting exceptional customer service at the top of your list of “things to do.” No matter how great your product is or how talented and experienced your staff is, one of the things that customers are most likely to remember is the direct interaction they have with your company. Whether that interaction is positive or negative is all up to you and your front line employees. Here are some tips to delivering exceptional customer service to each and everyone of your clients and consumers.
1. Training, Training and more Training– While this may seem boring or tedious, the better your employees know their job, the product and the customer, the better they can handle issues that arise. The more an employee knows about the general workings of the office, who does what and common issues that arise, the better they can not only handle customer questions and complaints, but they will almost be able to anticipate them before they happen. In addition, the more breadth and depth of knowledge the employee has about the products/services your company offers, the more likely they will be able to answer questions and concerns without having to pass it off to a more knowledgeable member of your team. There is nothing worse than getting passed off with a statement of, “Sorry I can’t find the answer for you!”
2. Customer Service Skills – Inevitably there will be that customer. You know the one. They are angry, passive aggressive or frustrated. Dealing with this type of personality may seem Herculean, but with a little finesse and practice it can be done – and even have a positive outcome. Acknowledging the issue, using active listening and reflecting back on their feelings is a great strategy to diffuse a volatile situation.For example say,
- That must have been very frustrating.
- I would be upset too.
- So this is what I understand the issue to be, right?
- Let’s clear this up.
A little attentiveness, clear communication and a whole heap of patience will do wonders.
3. Online Follow Through – With so many avenues for customers to interact with your company, it is a good idea to regularly check social media pages and online reviews for customers who are less than pleased. Follow through with issues online and make sure you post how the problem was resolved. For example, if a customer complains via Facebook explain the resolution in a “reply post” and thank them for bringing it to your attention. This will show not only that you are active online but that you follow up on customers needs in every arena.
We have all heard the time honored adage that “The customer is always right!” Keeping the customer happy and coming back for business should be every company’s first priority – whether they are actually “right” or not. Maintaining a satisfied customer base is easier, more cost effective and takes less time than finding new customers. How, then, can businesses deliver excellent customer service, create personal relationships with customers and make customers feels appreciated?
Customer service is emerging as a critical differentiator for businesses. Small changes and personal interactions can mean a world of difference for clients to go from being a “customer” to being a “loya”l customer. Let’s look at some key components to meeting those customer satisfaction goals.
- Customer Service Plan – As a company, brainstorm and decide on your service goals. These goals should reflect interactions with both internal and external customers. What is the ultimate goal? Do you want to be known as efficient, helpful, honest, cost effective, or all of the above? Possibly list every time an interaction may happen. (In the lobby, on a sales call, via email, social media, or in person) What ways can customer service come into play in those circumstances?
- Explore the needs of the customers – Each customer has unique needs so try to explore what needs those are for your typical client base. Do you usually deal with small businesses so they are cost conscious and need to be made aware of special deals or sales? Do you service large companies that need large volumes of items? Look at the specific needs of your clients so you can solve their particular problems quickly and kindly.
- Go back to basics – A smile, a personal greeting or even a kind word can go a long way with customers. Don’t just hear what they say but really listen to what their needs are so that you can anticipate those needs as your relationship with them grows. It goes without saying that you should always be courteous and polite with the customer even if you don’t agree with their assessment.
- Follow up and Follow Through – Do what you promise and when questions and problems have not been resolved follow up to try to rectify the problem. In our digital age it is far too easy for a customer to post a bad review due to customer service issues. When you follow up on how the service went you will be confirming that the customer had a positive interaction and let them know that they matter to you and your business.
- Establish “customer friendly policies” -There really is nothing worse than having someone tell you that they don’t have the ability to help. Give employees the power and knowledge to fix problems that arise. Make rules bendable in case special circumstances come up with loyal customers. Eliminate policies that make dealing with customers rigid or routine in nature. Make it as personal as possible.