Tag Archives: Customer service

Shopping With You Versus the Mall: Customer Service

Why should someone shop with you instead of at their local mall or big box store as chances are they can buy a similar product for less money there?

The reason is customer service!  How often do you go to the store and the clerks are doing nothing and they ignore you?  Do you really want to shop there and keep them in business?  Probably not.  But if you found a store that was really helpful, brought you the products you wanted to see, suggested items they thought you might like and then contacted you later to see how they were working out, you would be impressed and likely would shop there again.

This is where you can excel in your direct sales business.  Treat your customers how you want to be treated.  If you have a favourite store, think about what they do and emulate it in your business.  If you do not have a favourite store, think about how you would like to be treated and implement that into your business.

The biggest challenge is actually following through with good customer service once the person leaves your party.  We have good intentions but life can get in the way and the follow up is neglected.   By not following up, chances are you are leaving money on the table and your business will not grow and flourish.

Give your customers a quick call after they have received their product with a few questions.  I always recommend writing them down or having a check list, as it is easy to get off track or forget what you wanted to talk about.

“Hi Sue, Its Sharon from XYZ Company.  Do you have a minute or two to talk?”

“I was wondering if had gotten your order from Jane yet?  You have?  Great!  Have you had a chance to try it out?  Wonderful!  What do you think of it?  That is a product we just came out with and I’m trying to get feedback from people.   Do you have any questions in regards to it? “

From there, you could end the call or you could try to get a booking, depending on her responses.  If she starts raving about how great everything is, she likely would be receptive to hosting.  If she seems rather lackluster, then you likely won’t have much luck and you will want to move on.

“Sue, I’m going to let you go in a second, but did you know that Product A is our hostess special next month and with a party you would get it for Free?  Does that interest you?”

It is amazing how much business you can get with only a 2 minute follow up call.  You could end up a sale, booking or even a new team member!

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7 Simple (and Cost-Effective) Ways to Show Customer Appreciation

The best way to ensure repeat customers is to make sure the customers know you appreciate them. However, finding out whether the customers know this or not can be difficult. Sometimes they’ll let you know, sometimes they won’t.   cust apprec

Customer review sites make this easy; for instance, you can read real customer reviews on OpenTell.com, but even then there might not be enough information for you to gauge how they feel. Here are seven easy, and most importantly, cost effective ways of showing customer appreciation.

1. Personalize your service to them.

If you can, show a bit of personalization in the service you provide them. Leave a few kind words, or use their name on something. It doesn’t take much, and a little personalization goes a long way.

2. Check in with new customers. 

Send customers a report of your service, or give them a call after they buy a product and ask how it’s working. It doesn’t take long – you could even assign the task to a subordinate – but the simple gesture lets the customers know they are respected.

3. Create a ‘wall of honor’ of your best customers.

Many restaurants do this. Including photographs of your regulars on the walls makes the place feel more personable, and goes a long way towards building loyalty.

4. Give special treatment to long time customers.

Maybe on their birthday or on a special occasion, give your best customers a one-time deal or discount of some sort. Make sure it’s understood to be a single deal, but this will help build a relationship with your customers.

5. Remember their names.

This goes a long way. You see hundreds if not thousands of people each day, but by remembering the names of as many people as you can, you inspire fierce brand loyalty. Names hold power.

6. Ask for feedback.

Ask your customers how their experience was, and ask if there is any way you can improve it for next time. Most of the time the customers will be too surprised to answer, but this can be a great way of getting first-hand feedback.

7. Go out of your way to provide amazing customer service.

Don’t let rules and policies stop you. Bend them just a tad if the situation calls for it, and make sure you provide absolutely legendary service for a customer if they need it.

Following these seven simple steps will inspire customer loyalty and show your appreciation for them in ways they’ve never before experienced.

 

 

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Making an Online Sale Personal

In the age of information, when everything is at our fingertips, it makes sense that more and more people are starting to favor shopping online versus shopping at the mall. However, a computer screen can’t replace human interaction, especially when purchasing big-ticket items like jewelry and electronics. Having the opinion of a customer service representative or personal shopper can be priceless and have a huge impact on whether or not you will make the sale. When running an online direct-to-consumer business, here are some ways to keep it personal to help out your bottom line.

Shop online

Shop online (Photo credit: Daniel*1977)

  1. Be present: Just because the sale is happening over the Internet doesn’t mean that there aren’t two parties on either end. Taking advantage of great tools like live chat, where customers can ask specific questions about a particular product or ask for advice can be the difference between a consumer buying an item online or going into a store to check it out.
  2. Have a good return policy: Your return policy is key for customer service, and often plays a direct role in whether a customer will give repeat business. If one of your clients isn’t satisfied with her purchase, having the ability to return it hassle-free will help her keep her faith with online business.
  3. Communicate often: Your website offers a wealth of information about your business, but the difference between a good and a great FAQ page can affect your bottom line. Don’t have control over you’re employer’s website? Facebook and twitter are great tools to help address customer concerns and inquiries. Think about it – if you were shelling out mucho dollars for a set of pearls with diamonds, you would want to know that you were getting great bling for your buck, and constant contact would play a big role. Focusing your store on customer service instead of sales breeds repeat customers.
  4. Socialize: Social media is a huge opportunity for consumers to interact with merchants, so keep it personal when utilizing social media. If someone airs a grievance, use discretion in determining which posts to keep or delete, and don’t be afraid to comfort a customer on a public forum. If other potential clients see that you care, they may bookmark your site.
  5. Be creative: As a business owner or operator, you are certainly creative, so put your brain-wheels to work to figure out the best way to achieve making relationships with your clientele. For some, offering the option of an interactive “dressing room,” where customers can upload an image of themselves and “try on” products may be the way to go; for others, it may mean offering a “Free Try-on Period” where you send home a few items with the understanding that the customer will get charged for the items they don’t send back within a few days of receiving them.

In the age of information, it seems like everything is done online: dating, college classes, and of course, shopping – but that doesn’t mean that these should be impersonal experiences. Keeping these tips in mind can ensure that your customers are happy with their shopping experience enough to return time and time again.

Carly Chodosh is the Social Media Manager at Pearl & Clasp, a pearl jewelry company that specializes in restringing pearls, pearl clasps and custom designed pieces.

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Going the Extra Mile: 4 Ways to Impress Your Potential Clients

Whether you are in business for yourself or work for someone else, you probably spend considerable amounts of time trying to build relationships with clients. And as everyone who has ever sold anything to others knows, products and services can be bought anywhere. It’s the relationship and related trust between a customer and his client that makes the difference. For this reason you are probably constantly trying to impress your clients. This article will serve as a primer for doing just that.   Going the Extra Mile

Be Professional

It might go without saying, but it’s still often forgotten that image is everything. Let’s say two people come to your office for business. One is unshaven and with clothes that are dirty and disheveled. He takes notes on a cheap note pad with a sharpie pen. The other is clean cut and dressed in a Brooks Brothers suit. His paperwork is neatly organized in a leather portfolio and he takes notes on an electronic device using a stylus pen. With whom would you do business?

Mention your VIPs

If a salesperson entered your office and told you that you were his first-ever prospective customer, you wouldn’t be very impressed, would you? On the other hand, if he told you about other clients who used his services with good results, you would be more tempted to buy what he’s selling, wouldn’t you?

People Love Free Stuff

Giving gifts is a great way to impress customers. And the gift doesn’t need to be expensive either. That’s what makes promotional products so effective. Not only are they inexpensive, but they can be personalized in any way you wish. Custom keychains and other personalized items can be imprinted with your company’s logo and contact details so every time they are used by current and potential customers, you gain marketing exposure.  Promotional products like these act as walking billboards, ensuring that you gain repeated marketing exposure every time they are used by recipients.

Over-Deliver

Everybody remembers the instances when someone went an extra mile and came through when it wasn’t expected. Even better is the fact that these little gestures often don’t cost anything to deliver. Go the extra mile. Over-deliver and under-promise. Make the client feel that he is special and that you went out of your way to give him something extra. Chances are good that your actions will be rewarded and probably even reciprocated.

If you’re looking to expand your client base, it is worth it to strive to impress those who could be potential customers. And remember, in many industries, anyone could be a potential customer—so every aspect of your business needs to run smoothly and be ready to impress. You never know when a potential customer is watching!

 

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Party Cancelled? Use that Time for Business

Have you ever had a party cancel at the last minute and you cannot rebook that time?   All is not lost, you can use that time to get other things done for your business.

Newgate Wall Clock - Brixton

Newgate Wall Clock – Brixton (Photo credits: West Elm)

Customer Care Calls

Take some time to call customers and see if they have any issues with the product or any questions.   Many times, people cannot be bothered to let you know they had a problem, they just decide to shop elsewhere.   Be pro-active and find out before that happens and you will likely retain the customer.

Advertising

Chances are, you could spend more time advertising but you never get to it.  Use this time to do that.  Place ads online on various social media, look for classifieds or other sites that will let you put up an advertisement.  If you always use the same ads, take a look at them and see if they are still current and relevant.  Update whatever needs to be changed.

Social Media

Have you meant to start social media accounts and keep putting it off?   Why not do it now?  Or maybe you have accounts that have been neglected?  Do some updating.  Maybe you can find a partner that you can work with to make sure you stay updated in the future.  I have a friend who will update my Facebook page with images and new catalogue information when it comes out for me.  It is greatly appreciated as I never seem to remember!

Clean Your Samples

Take a look at the items that you take with you to your parties.   Do they need to be wiped down?  Are they still in good shape or could they stand to be replaced?  If you aren’t sure, err on the side of caution and replace them.   If you can’t afford to replace them, do what you can to make them look better.

Organize Paperwork

Most people could always stand to deal with paperwork so try and at least track down your paperwork and get it organized.  You can deal with it another day if it will be too time consuming but if you find it now, it will be ready to go.

You already had this time set aside for business; you may as well still use it.  And just think, you won’t have to find time to do these tasks on another day!

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Giving Away Some Products Can Gain You Much

When it comes to running your own business, whether it is direct selling or not, it can be scary.  Your income is not guaranteed and you are careful about spending your earnings so that it will go further.   But when you are approached to donate or give away a product, it can send your heart into palpations due to the lost revenue.  Fear not, there are many valid and good reasons for giving something away.

Lucky Door Prizes

Lucky Door Prizes (Photo credit: Mosman Library)

Cheap Advertising

By giving something away, you are getting your name out there.  Chances are your name is going to be mentioned at least half a dozen times.  Make sure you give them many business cards to put out with your item so that if people are interested in purchasing one if they don’t win, that they can contact you.

New Customer

If the person who wins your product is not familiar with what you sell, they will be now.  Hopefully they use it and are able to tell people about how they like it and then they will buy more.  Even if they do not like it, they may know people that would and will make sure to inform them.

Customer Conversion

You may have a customer that is on the fence about your product.  Maybe they have heard about it and want to try it but are not willing to spend the money.  If they have a chance to try it, it may be enough to push them over the edge to make the purchase.

Potential Customers

If you are doing a door prize, people are going to enter.  People see free and they want it. On your entry slip, you want to make sure to get a phone number and an email address.   You can then add them to your email list and hopefully convert them to customers.  By letting people know you are giving something away, they are more likely to stop at your table and check things out.

An item for giveaway does not have to be expensive.  It could be something that you won from your company, a discontinued product or something that you ordered for demonstration.   The business you gain should offset the cost and you will be ahead in the long run.

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What is a Basket Party?

Basket or sample parties are becoming more popular.  Instead of the traditional party where the direct sales consultant comes into the home and does a presentation, a basket is given to the hostess and then passed around to her guests.  This gives them a chance to try the product and make their own decisions.  Depending on what you sell, this can be a bit time consuming but it should also be higher sales as people have experience with the product already.

Basket full of toys...

Basket full of toys… (Photo credit: lorises)

Having a Basket Party

There are a couple different ways to do this and how you do the basket will be determined by the type of product you sell.  For those that sell candles, a basket that goes from home to home is likely easiest.  If you sell a consumable, the basket also goes from home to home but a few could get together and try it out.  In that situation, encourage your hostess to have a get together with a few people and do some cooking/baking to try things out.

Put together some of your best selling items and put it in an attractive and easy to carry container.  It can be a basket or it can be a bag.  Whatever works for you and your product.   Include order forms, information on how to fill out the order, and any specials that are going on.

Include a notebook and encourage people to make notes or comments about the products they tested.  Offer an incentive for writing something – a chance to win something, a discount on orders, whatever you think will entice them.  If they have questions, have them indicate that and make sure you go through the book and call them with answers before placing your order.

Set a deadline for the party.  Depending on how many people the host is planning to pass the basket to will help determine this.  Typically, you never want a party to last more than two weeks as those who had it first start to wonder about the status of the party and when their product is going to show up.

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How Small Businesses can Deal with a Bad Economy

A bad economy does not mean the end of a small business. It just means getting more creative and finding other solutions to a problem.

For many businesses, keeping afloat during economic turmoil can be difficult. No matter whether the problem is the general economy or specific competition from other businesses, there are things that can be done to help the business weather the storm. An advantage of small businesses is that they are flexible and they can make changes quickly, which large businesses can’t.

English: Water Customer Service Center - 4200 ...

Direct Sales in a Bad Economy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Customer Service

One of the biggest things that a small business can do is to make sure that they have excellent customer service. If the owner is not sure if the store has this, it is likely best to think that they do not and train the staff. Doing things such as special orders or making sure to assist the customer can go a long way. Customer service does not have to be difficult; it is paying attention to a lot of the little things.

Quality

Another factor is making sure that the business keeps up with the current trends. The moment customers think that you are falling behind they will start to leave you, feeling that you are not going to succeed. Cash flow may cause issues with this, but you may want to decrease to bringing in seven new items instead of 15, or making other small changes.

Cash Flow

Of course, you cannot forget about the money that is or is not coming in. Regardless of the state of the economy, it is best that you do not overextend yourself beyond what the business cannot comfortably afford. Many businesses end up failing because they try to do too much at once, when they can’t afford it.

Be Creative

Due to the small business being able to make decisions quickly compared to the large stores, the small store can seize this opportunity to do something special or unique. Maybe host fashions shows when a new line of clothing comes in, or have a special night for key customers to see the new collections. Make your customers happy and make them feel special and they will continue to patronize your business.

Check Efficiencies

There may be things that your store can do to make itself more efficient which will help with cash flow and customer service. It may be investing in some software that can create notes to go to customers, finding a better way to unpack and sort inventory or a better way to show off new product. Chances are there is something that can be done in a better way to increase sales.

No matter the type of business you are in, chances are you can find some methods that you can use to keep your business afloat in bad economic times. Choosing to slash prices is not the way to compete, as people will come to expect it. Instead, improve other methods. People are willing to pay more if they feel they are getting value for their money.

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How often to contact Direct Sales Customers?

There are a few different reasons that you are going to contact your customers and different ways you are going to approach them.  Some are direct and some are passive but they each have their own reasons.

Email Newsletters – You should have a newsletter that goes out each month to your customers.  Some companies will provide this but some will not.  If they do not, create your own and send it out.  It should have that month’s special in it and anything else your customer might want to know.

Party Hostess – If you have someone who has booked a party with you, you should be in touch with them weekly before their party to do any hostess coaching required.  A call a day or two before the party should be made to find out how many people are expected and to help you prepare for the event.

After a Party – Once a party is over, you want to stay in touch with your hostess to let her know when she will be receiving the order, especially if it ships to her directly.  If it is coming to you, then it is a good idea to give her an expected delivery date as her customers may be getting anxious for their product to arrive.

Two Weeks after Delivery – It is a good idea to contact the hostess and customers a few weeks after they have received their product to make sure that everything arrived satisfactorily.  If there were any issues, you can use this time to find out and resolve them.  Bad customer service will not grow your business.

Three Months After – It can be a smart idea to contact a hostess again three months after their party, or if there is a big sale/new catalogue that has come out to see if they are interested in hosting again.  Even though they may be receiving your newsletter, many people do not bother to read these or they may mean to contact you and forget.  Be pro-active and keep in touch with them.

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Providing Customized Customer Service to your Downline

As time moves on, everything continues to evolve.  This is also true of marketing.  One of the trends is the practice of niche-marketing. What this means is that you make a deliberate attempt to narrowly define what your marketing message is so that it speaks powerfully and clearly to those that you are able to work with.  By using this method, you can fine-tune your marketing message and continue to grow your business even in an uncertain economy.

Knowing all this, you can then use a technique called niche-servicing which will help to improve loyalty, retention, revitalize your recruiting efforts and strengthen your team’s moral.  It means to narrowly define the segments that exist in the customer base and to understand, acknowledge and meet the unique needs of each of these segments.

There are four components you can look at so we will do that here so that you can do this within your own business

1)  Define the segments within the distributor base.  Meaning, you do not see your distributors as one group with the same interests, motivation and needs.  Start by pulling various data to get some ideas of where they are:  Ages (under 29, 30 to 45, 46 to 65, and 66 and over).  What other groups can you find in your downline – single people, married people, parents, hobbyists, small town sellers?

2)  Understand their needs. Once you know what segments you are dealing with, you then need to find out what is unique and significant to each group. There are a variety of methods you can employ to do this but the easiest might be online surveys (easy analytics once you have results) or just having a phone conversation.  You could try email or whatever other means of communication you have available.

3)  Acknowledge the specific needs of each group. The first step to incorporating niche-service into your business is to acknowledge these various groups as valued segments.  You could spotlight a different success story each month such as a husband and wife who show a great partnership in both business and life or maybe a single mom who is able to accomplish her dreams. Try and find a way to acknowledge everyone at some point as this can do more for the moral of your team than you may realize.

4)  Find ways to meet the needs of your team groups.  Here is where you are going to do the most work by showing your team that you are willing to go the extra mile to help them.  Maybe you want to tackle techniques that someone working 9-5 and then trying to run a business can use to make better use of her time; maybe you want to talk about how those who are in their 20’s can be taken seriously in the business – chances are you can find a variety of methods that will help out your team.

By taking the time to identify the various niches within your sales team, you can identify where they may need assistance and provide specialized help for them. While it can take some time to figure this out, once you the groups, you can help them improve their business which will help to improve yours.

 

 

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