There are times when customer service just isn’t what you had hoped for when you’re shopping or even when you’re dealing with another business colleague. What is wrong with people today you may wonder? With this in mind, you need to make certain that both you and your staff continually provide stellar customer service in all interactions with clients and potential clients.
Here are our top tips for providing a great customer experience:
- Answer your telephone. Business owners need to make it a practice to answer their phones during business hours. If a client has taken the time to call you, you should have the courtesy to not make him or her wade through a phone menu to get to you.
- Listen to your customers. They may be telling you something and if you’re not listening you may miss out on an opportunity to further serve them.
- Under-promise. Over-deliver.
- You don’t have to be everything to everyone, but if a client asks for assistance in an area for which you’re not proficient, make a few calls to colleagues (they will thank you for it!) and make an introduction. You will have helped your client and your colleague.
- Provide an add-on service or product. Just as infomercials promise “but that’s not all” if you buy one of their products, so too should you offer something additional — if possible to your clients.
What steps can you take today to provide a better customer experience?
You cannot do it all. What does this mean to an entrepreneur? It means you need to set boundaries (and likely learn to delegate) but in order to truly get anything done, you need to set boundaries with colleagues and even family in order to get to the tasks at hand.
We know it’s tempting to work all day, every day, especially when you’re in growth or start up mode, but doing that means you leave yourself at risk of illness and honestly the more you work, the less productive you become.
What can you do to set boundaries and remain productive? Here are three suggestions:
- Social media and anything online can take away valuable time from the tasks at hand. Turn off your email and social media notifications and set your mind to a particular task. Once that task is complete, treat yourself to a little online interaction.
- Is there a task you’re procrastinating? Did you know that procrastination takes more mental energy and saps your reserves than simply jumping into a task you’re dreading? It does. Give yourself a time limit — 15- or 30-minutes — and delve into a task you’re dreading. Anyone can work on any objectionable task in small chunks.
- Be deliberate in your plans. If you make a goal concrete rather than vague you are more likely to complete it. For example, saying, “I will make client follow up calls Wednesday” instead of, “On Wednesday from 10 am until noon I will make client follow up calls.” Even better would be to attach a number to that, “I will make 10 client follow up calls between 10 am and noon on Wednesday.” If you don’t set a time frame to it, the day will come and go and that item will remain undone.
Set limits. Write your goals down. Note if your productivity increases.
When social media was first “taking off” everyone touted the numbers of followers and likes they had on their Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn pages, but did those numbers matter? Were those people engaged with you and your content? Chances are some were, but there were those that were not.
In everything you do in your business you should be tracking your numbers and your successes as well as your failures. But to make it valid and to make those numbers mean something, you need to track the correct ones.
After you’ve set a goal, here are some numbers you may want to monitor:
- The time frame for your goal, broken down into measurable, actionable items. Track whether those goals are being met.
- What numbers actually mean success? Is it dollars? Numbers of new clients? Additional engaged followers on your social media pages? More clicks on your newsletter? Once you choose the numbers, it’s best to put a dollar value to them. Why? You’re in business to make money, right?
- Compare the goals you’ve set with the goals you’ve met. It doesn’t do any good to set a goal if you’re not checking in to see if you’re achieving the results you’d set for yourself.
What are you measuring? Are you following up to make sure they are numbers that make sense? We work with clients to help them set goals and targets. If you need assistance, contact us.
Business owners — whether you’re a new entrepreneur or have been in business for decades — still need to spend time marketing themselves and their businesses in order to achieve growth and success.
Here are our top three business building steps:
- Word of mouth and credibility will take you a long way. New entrepreneurs will need to work to prove credibility and this can be done by consistently performing at high levels of service.
- Once you’ve signed a client to a contract, the work isn’t over, it’s just beginning. You need to be available to your clients and responsive to their needs and concerns. You also need to be visible at networking events, volunteer organizations and other places in which you can network with others to grow your business.
- Share your expertise and skills. How can you do this? By blogging. By being on a board or a member of a group in which your talents will shine through. It is your unique expertise and the knowledge that you bring to the services you offer that set you apart.
Being a business owner is only the first step in the process of success. Continuing to network and market yourself and to continue keep up with trends in your industry are crucial.
Are there times when you feel you’re spinning your wheels when it comes to your marketing and prospecting efforts? If that’s the case you need to understand that in order to make your marketing effective you need to have a strategy and tactics in place that suit your particular, unique audience.
That being said, there are items that every marketing strategy should have in place:
- Understand what the life cycle of your prospect is, in other words do your sales usually follow a particular path? If so, your strategy must incorporate that unique process.
- How do your prospects want to be contacted? Email? Telephone? Text? Face-to-face meetings?
- Is there a way to automate any of the sales process? Either through mailings or email campaigns or other ways in which you can reach a target group of prospects all at one time?
When you’re looking back at the effectiveness of your 2014 sales and looking forward to 2015 and increased sales, you want to make sure the steps along your sales path are clearly defined.
No man is an island. This adage is true in life as it is in business. Successful entrepreneurs know that to grow a business they need to collaborate with others. How can you make certain your collaboration skills are as strong as they could be?
Here are some steps you can take to strengthen them:
- Make certain your associates feel a part of the process and that their contributions are given thoughtful consideration.
- Do you include all relevant team members in discussions? Do they feel part of the team?
- What do you do with that one person in your organization who tosses out ideas — that may at first seem out of the scope of what you’re doing — to make him or her feel part of the whole?
- When you’re attempting to formulate solutions to problems, do you involve team members from a cross section of your organization?
What can you do to foster collaboration and input from all team members?
“I’d like to run a business.” If you proclaimed that, but didn’t add in the question of, “Do I have the leadership talents necessary to do that?” You may want to take a step back and consider that question.
Here are three leadership talents that we believe entrepreneurs should either possess or hone:
- Are you able to articulate your mission, vision and purpose? You need to be able to do this whether you’re hiring and training new employees or if you’re at a networking event.
- What makes you an influencer? Do you now how your own character and personality influences others?
- What is your overall plan for execution of business growth and execution of a business plan?
Ponder these three questions and determine whether you have these leadership talents or what you can do to hone them.
Why isn’t the phone ringing? You’ve been attending networking events and conference and handing out your business cards so it stands to reason the phone should be difficult to keep up with, right?
Perhaps the reason it’s not ringing is because you don’t have a plan in place to follow up with those individuals you have me and networked with. Here are three steps you can implement that just might have your pool ringing off the hook:
- Make time for follow up phone calls or to send follow up emails. When you’re planning out your work week, you need to plan for prospecting and follow-ups. While it’s nice to believe that your prospects might just call you back, they are likely just as busy as you are and you need to be proactive.
- Write a thank you note. If someone has done something nice for you, send a thank you note. If you meet someone at a networking event, rather than sending an email follow up, break out of that routine (hint, that is what everyone does!) and send a handwritten “great to meet you” note.
- Make certain your prospecting goals are realistic. Don’t jot on your to-do list that you will make 50 follow up calls this week. That number is daunting and likely not realistic. Set a goal of making two or three calls a day or set aside an afternoon and make ten calls. Make sure the goal is attainable or it will become insurmountable.
What plans do you have in place for prospect follow ups?
Great! You’ve decided that you’re going to become an entrepreneur! What are the downsides to being your own boss, being the master of your own domain and not having to answer to a supervisor? Well, there are a few and they include:
- The hours are long. When you’re an employee, you punch a clock and go home at the end of the day. As an entrepreneur, you don’t have a clock to punch and you may find yourself putting in more hours than you originally imaged and when you take the hours worked and divide that by the money you bring in you may find that…
- The money isn’t as good in actuality as it was on paper when you put your business plan together. You should have a bank account that can support you and your current lifestyle for at least three (preferably six) months while the business gains traction.
- It can be stressful knowing that you don’t get paid unless you sell your goods or services and that means you have to be constantly selling. It can be stressful when you’re making a sales call that could make the difference between filet mignon and rice and beans. You don’t want to let desperation seep into the tone of your sales calls.
Take heart, though, there are benefits to being a business owner and they include:
- It is so rewarding to see your successes and know you were the one responsible for it.
- You have flexibility to work the hours you choose whether you’re an early bird or a night owl or if you want to work on the weekend and take a day off during the week.
- You can create your own destiny and perhaps even a business that you can pass down to your children.
If you’re ready to take the leap from employee to entrepreneur, working with a business coach may be your first, best step!
If you’re on a highway, it’s much easier to see your destination when you have a clear road ahead and a road map (or GPS) to guide you. In business if you want to grow strategically, you need a clear, well-laid out path toward the finish line of success.
What will make your business succeed where a competitor might fail? Clear objectives. Here are some of the objectives that you should write down:
- Revenue goals
- Loss projections
- Profit margins
- How you will gauge customer satisfaction
- Your salary
- How you will determine when you will need to hire help
- What products and services you will offer
- Who your target market is
- How you will determine when you have achieved success. What does that look like to you? Hint, it’s different for every business owner.
Once you have your initial objectives written down, write down this question and ponder the answer, “Where do I want to be one year from now?” Write your answers as they relate to income, business location, new products or services you might want to offer — the sky is the limit on your dreams. If you write them down, though, you might just be compelled to make the steps necessary to make them happen.