Do You Have Silly Customers?

Recently I had an on-line experience with a person that offered a free book – at least that is what my computer said. When I attempted to order it, the link didn’t work. I contacted the author’s customer service rep who agreed that there was a computer error on their end. It turned out that the book wasn’t free and I was called “silly” for expecting it to be free.

An example of a better way to handle this happened to me a couple of years ago. A reader wished to purchase my It’s Time to Brag! book online in a PDF format (this was before I setup an agreement with Kindle and am no longer selling PDF copies). (Time2Brag.com) The person didn’t have a good on-line experience so I gave her the book, complimentary, with my apologies! (No, there was not a problem on my end.) I did not have another on-line issue, and more importantly, I kept a customer.

Three things to remember if you sell on-line:

#1: It costs way more to attract a new client than to keep a current one.

#2: When it is brought to your attention that your system is not working, you need to thank the person and offer them something in return. Obviously, don’t call them “silly!” After all, they took their time to help you solve a problem to keep your technology working correctly so you can continue to attract and keep customers.

#3: Customer service interactions via email (or other electronic means) may not translate in the tone you intended. It’s important to slow down and reread your correspondence out loud (and listen to yourself) before sending it. Remember, keep it simple and smart because the average national reading level is 6th grade.

Get your brag on — your customers are about to stray! http://SeibCo.com/contact

Jeannette Seibly is an internationally recognized business advisor. For the past 23 years, she has helped thousands of people work smarter, enjoy financial freedom, and realize their dreams now.  She has an uncanny ability to help her clients identify roadblocks, and help them focus to quickly produce unprecedented results.  Each client brings their own unique challenges, and her gift is helping each one create their success in their own unique way. Along the way, with her commitment, she helped create three millionaires.

 

Got client loyalty?

Many of us falsely believe that once we have a client they are ours for life. We stop doing the little things that differentiate us from our competition. Perhaps we rank order our clients in order of revenues received, and respond to them accordingly.  Or we fail to form strong relationships that will get us through any “bumps in the road.”

Be a great advocate.  People are looking for quality and service not just a good price.  Most clients are willing to pay extra for the right connection, service and knowledge.  Clients love to do business with people they like and enjoy, particularly vendors who share their products and services with their own clients. 

Connections.  Treat these clients as “gold” and look for the “little things” that  make the difference.  For example, if you enjoy researching family genealogy, share resources.  If you love stock car racing, pics of nature, or a particular sport, connect with them on FaceBook and post your pics or other activities.

Responsiveness.  Minimizing the importance of others’ requests will not keep them as your client. What may seem obvious to you, will not be readily apparent to others.  If there are complaints, handle them as quickly as possible.  If there is a constant nay-sayer, or you repeatedly receive the same or similar requests, provide these clients free training, either one-on-one or in a webinar.

Customer Service Blitz.  Conduct a Customer Service Blitz designed to get your staff on the same page.  This will allow them to do what they do best: 

  • Sales people focusing on selling
  • Customer service advocates handling the details. 

Train your staff in the nuances of client management, share legacy knowledge with them of client issues and situations.  Encourage and enable them to continually cultivate client loyalty.

©Jeannette Seibly, 2010

Attitude Transformation Brings Satisfaction

Do you hear an internal mantra, “I should not have to do this!” over and over?

Unfortunately, there will always be job duties or activities that must be accomplished for your continued employment or to run your business successfully. If these hated tasks constitute more than 20% of your job, you are probably in the wrong line of work.

Truly successful people learn how to get the hated job activities over and done with minimal stress. They are good at delegating to others who are competent to do them. Yes – there are people who actually enjoy doing the work you hate to do!

There are certain business practices and standards must be adhered to, no excuses are acceptable. Customers, employees, the IRS, a judge or plaintiff attorney are not interested in excuses; they do not care “why.”

We all must follow the laws and common expected business practices (e.g., following standard accounting practices, refunds, EEO/Equal Employment Opportunity, DOL/Department of Labor, etc.) Failure to follow your own business policies and practices can provide irreversible consequences, personally and professionally.

Swish. When there is something you hate doing, create a new attitude or visual picture. For example, if you work in retail and hate it when people walk in the door, “swish” to see the people walking in the door as “new money.” Or, if you hate working with accounting details, “swish” and see QuickBooks as the pathway to your million dollar success.

Be selective when saying “yes.” Learn to say “no” instead of taking on job duties or activities that are not your forte.

  • If there is a legal issue, give it to the attorney.
  • If you have an accounts issue, delegate it to your customer service rep.
  • If you have a sales or customer service person who won’t return calls, replace them!

Realize you are setting the tone for your future. Then you are free to say “yes” to legitimate requests from your customers, boss, Board of Directors, or business partners.

Create your future. You were hired, and you accepted the job. Now you need to adhere to getting the job done in a manner that positively supports the company. Customers truly don’t care how you feel about your job duties. As the business owner or executive, you created the current business model. Even though it may have worked well at one time, if it no longer meets your business goals, it’s time to strategically create the future. If you are no longer energized in your business or job, hire a coach and find a job or business the “fits” your thinking style, core behaviors and occupational interests. Set yourself up for satisfaction and success.

(c)Jeannette Seibly, 2010

Are your customers never happy?

Recently a customer service manager had received several complaints about a new system that they had implemented. The feedback from clients was not positive. There appeared to be errors in the system design, and it was difficult to use. The product developers had not asked for input from end-users before creating and launching it. The product manager deflected these valid complaints by saying, “They’ll never be happy, regardless of what we do.” The problem has now escalated to the point where major clients are ready to leave.

Customers are the lifelines for most businesses.  Vendors and suppliers do not have the luxury of sticking their collective heads in the sand (think “ostrich”). There is always a solution, but it may require setting aside egos.

Listen and Learn!

Then, listen some more. Frequent complaints indicate there is a problem, whether or not you agree about the significance of the issue. Unfortunately, product or service designers may not have directly worked with the end-users (aka their specific target market). Customer service people may not have an adequate understanding of how to resolve glitches due to limited work experience. Regardless, everyone’s lack of understanding can be costly. Learn first hand from actual end-users about the use-ability of your products or services.

Solution-Focused Task Force.  

A simple concern can quickly escalate into a major problem when your customers do not feel heard. What’s the key? Put together a structured task force with both customers and people responsible for the design of a product or service (or, use your account executives or sales reps to elicit invaluable consumer information). Be sure everyone has the opportunity to voice concerns. When this process is handled properly, it reduces emotionally charged dissatisfaction, weeds out inflated egos, and unites the task force toward a common goal. Come prepared to impartially state the facts for both sides. Brainstorm possible solutions. Learn how to ask questions that elicit clarity instead of defensiveness.

Resolve it now!

Your failure to act quickly or to effectively resolve issues objectively can make a significant difference in the longevity of your company. Or even your own career. The solution can be very simple (e.g., clearer instructions). Other times it may actually require costly re-engineering with more adequate beta testing this time. Your clients’ eyes are watching you. In the meantime, they are assessing the perceived value of any of your services or products. The goal is to create a win-win outcome for everyone.

©Jeannette Seibly, 2010

Do your clients think you are inaccessible?

Ridiculous you say?  Hhhmmm…

  • Does it take several phone calls to get in touch with you? 
  • Does it take longer than 24 to 48 hours to respond to your voice mail messages or emails?
  • Do you normally use the excuses “I’m too busy.” OR “I don’t have the time?”
  • If so, you probably do not know this Law of poor customer service:
    The longer it takes for you to return a call or respond to an email, the more the issue will grow exponentially larger.

 Try this instead:

Treat your phone and email with reverence. Phone messages and email messages from clients and prospective clients are the life blood of your business. Prompt responses are a good opportunity to enhance the value you provide to your clients. It’s also a great way to up-sell and cross-sell any additional products and services that they may need, but do not realize you offer.

All clients are important. Rank ordering clients as to whom you will contact based upon revenues will work only until you lose the BIG client. Then, you’ll need to re-group and try to re-capture smaller clients who found excellent customer service with your competition while you focused on the BIG client.

Keep meetings. Continually canceling, not being prepared, and not taking responsibility for ensuring the client feels valued are good excuses for your clients to seek out other vendors. It’s easier and less expensive to keep good clients, then to go and find new ones.

Blitz them with customer service. We falsely assume, with devastating results, that everyone knows how to be a good representative of the company. Train all employees to be on the same page, and work together for the benefit of the client. Contact me for details … it will save you many clients! JLSeibly@gmail.com

©Jeannette Seibly, 2010