Archive for General Management

How to Provide Great Customer Service (Part 5)

Posted in General Management with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 19, 2009 by Robert Finkelstein

Let’s finish up our Top 10 suggestions for providing great customer service. If you value your customers and clients as much as I do, you’ll make an effort to implement all 10 ideas. This is one area of your business that can’t be taken lightly.

9. Are you doing business on Mars? Since the answer is ‘no’, then you must have competition. What are you doing to stand out from the pack? Great customer service is essential to retaining customers and attracting new ones. Is there something you can do that no one else can? Differentiate yourself. How about your follow-up? Whether a sale was made or not, if you have a way to reach out and say ‘thank you’, do it. If you’re just like your competition, you’re not giving your customers or clients a reason to only do business with you. And finally, do the unexpected. Nothing leaves a more lasting positive memory than a company that goes above and well beyond the expected.

10. Let me make a suggestion. No, seriously, let me…or rather, let your customers make a suggestion. When you let them know that their opinions matter, they’ll want to give it. And if you respect their feedback and respond to it, you’ll earn their trust and business. At the very least, you’ll learn what areas might need improvement. Give them an easy way to provide constructive criticism, suggestions and, hopefully, praise. And when you implement changes, ask again. And then…ask again. Keep your customers and clients engaged. Above all else…listen to them. You may not agree, but they’re the ones that keep you in business.

Let me know if my suggestions have been helpful.

If you’re interested in a consultation or have questions, please email me at Robert@RobertFinkelstein.com. If you have any comments, please write them below.

Advertisements

How to Provide Great Customer Service (Part 4)

Posted in General Management, How to Provide Great Customer Service with tags , , , , , , , on November 18, 2009 by Robert Finkelstein

Great customer service doesn’t happen over night…literally. It takes a shift in your thinking, values, training, and culture. But if you choose to make the investment in yourself, your employees and business, and understand the importance of this one critical area, it will pay off more than you know. And I don’t mean just in business. Your life itself will change if you place a greater value on those you and your team interact with.

7. What’s in it for them? Wouldn’t it be nice if your business was the talk around the water cooler…and it was all positive? Great customer service should not be measure by whether or not it yielded a sale. Just being helpful, answering a question, and dare I say…providing a service for free…can lead to many more sales and, through word of mouth…a lot more customers.

8. Extra, extra, read all about it! Whatever extra you can provide, goes a long way. There are so many creative things you can do to impress your customers or clients. Think outside the box. At the very least, throw in some coupons to entice repeat business. Product information, samples, discounts, newsletter, workshops…the list is very long. Whatever you do, as inexpensive as it might appear, the little things can go a long way. And always throw in a smile.

If you’re interested in a consultation or have questions, please email me at Robert@RobertFinkelstein.com. If you have any comments, please write them below.

How to Provide Great Customer Service (Part 3)

Posted in General Management, How to Provide Great Customer Service with tags , , , , , , , on November 16, 2009 by Robert Finkelstein

Okay, I’m back by popular demand. It’s been a very busy couple of weeks, attending two valuable seminars. Always looking to learn more.

Now back to providing great customer service. We’ve covered four important topics so far – (1) Is the customer always right?, (2) Come on, answer the phone!, (3) Go the extra mile., and (4) A promise is a promise. Today, we’ll look at two more equally important elements to this very important aspect of your business.

5. Don’t turn a blind eye! I can’t say I personally like dealing with complaints, but they are unfortunately a part of doing business. Some say, “You can’t please everyone all the time.” Basically, that’s true. Sometimes it’s not even your fault. Life just happens and you’re caught in the crossfire. That being said, there’s no excuse for not trying to please every customer every time. Even if one person walks away disappointed or upset, they may, upon future reflection, realize you did make an effort…and that might just be enough to bring them back again.

6. Welcome to Basic Training! There’s no excuse for a poorly trained team. Granted it takes time, resources and there may be a learning curve, but it needs to happen… especially if there’s contact with the public or clients. If you can’t train them yourself, find someone who can. “I don’t know,” can’t be an acceptable answer. Create the training tools, the methods of delivery…and then empower your knowledgeable team to make “customer-pleasing” decisions. It’s essentially to the success of your business. And I suggest you make great customer service a part of the culture.

If you’re interested in a consultation or have questions, please email me at Robert@RobertFinkelstein.com. If you have any comments, please write them below.

How to Provide Great Customer Service (Part 2)

Posted in General Management, How to Provide Great Customer Service with tags , , , , , , on November 2, 2009 by Robert Finkelstein

Customer serviceLet’s continue down the path of better customer service. It’s not rocket science. It’s actually quite easy. It takes patience, some educating and perhaps a shift in the culture of your team. Take a page out of Zappos.com’s play manual, recognized for its over-the-top, outstanding customer service. No request is too small or too great. They will make every effort to satisfy the customer. Read up on them. It’s inspiring.

Extra mile3. Go the extra mile. It’s not about asking, “Can I help you?” when a customer walks into your store. What’s the automatic answer to that question. “No, thank you. Just looking.” Give it some thought and come up with a welcome that’s different and more helpful. Try to elicit a “Yes” answer. And don’t just point to where a product is, take the customer there. Whether you’re on the phone or face-to-face, provide more assistance than is expected. When you do, it’ll be noticed. And that leads to more customers.

4. A promise is a promise. If you allow for exceptions, there will be more and more of them. Keep your word, making only promises that you can keep. Most customers are forgiving…within reason. Say what you mean, be where you say you’ll be, deliver on time, honor and fulfill obligations…in other words, be everything you’d like other businesses to be. And do it all with a smile. It’s contagious.

If you’re interested in a consultation or have questions, please email me at Robert@RobertFinkelstein.com. If you have any comments, please write them below.

How to Provide Great Customer Service (Part 1)

Posted in General Management, How to Provide Great Customer Service with tags , , , , , on October 30, 2009 by Robert Finkelstein

Customer serviceIf there’s one thing in business that we all appreciate, it’s great customer service. It can make such a tremendous impact on our perception of a company. Equally so, one terrible experience can end a business or a consumer relationship. Let’s explore some simple ways of making sure your customer service is always great!

Listen to your customer1. Is the customer always right? Not exactly. But what I do recommend is the following: Listen to them. Everyone has their own perspective and you’ve got to respect that. Realize that you can’t please everyone all the time…but you can certainly give it a good effort. Consider how many times you’ve told a customer service representative your whole story only to find out they’re not the right person to be talking to or they weren’t really listening at all. Then you get to repeat it all over again…in hopes that this time your story won’t fall on deaf ears. Frustrating, wouldn’t you say? Bottom line…make an effort. Listen to your customers and try to resolve their problem as best you can.

Answer the phone2. Come on, answer the phone! Since the first automated telephone response system was created, customer service has gone down hill. I called my satellite radio company the other day and it took 20 minutes to get through the 1000 questions they had for me. Then at the 40 minute mark, I finally got a real person. At the 43 minute mark, we got disconnected! So what am I getting at?! Answer the phone!! Look, I understand that some companies are just too big to answer every call live…most companies aren’t. Set up call forwarding, if that helps. You know as well as I do, it’s such a relief when someone answers. Pride yourself on answering within a certain number of rings. If it’s after hours, then I suggest your recorded message promises a call back the next business day. It’s not too much to ask…and it will be greatly appreciated.

If you’re interested in a consultation or have questions, please email me at Robert@RobertFinkelstein.com. If you have any comments, please write them below.

Great Ways to Save Money in Your Business (Part 6)

Posted in General Management, Ways to Save Money in Your Business with tags , , , , , , on October 23, 2009 by Robert Finkelstein

Saving moneyIt’s been a few days, since my last entry, so I trust you spent some time evaluating your businesses. Are you doing what you need to do in order to save money in your business? Saving in one area will allow you to put that money to other areas…or put it in the bank for a rainy day. Let’s start today looking at Shipping.

Shipping
Shipping1. U.S.P.S. The U.S. Postal Service offers a lot of great value if you know what you need and what to ask them. Check out the various box sizes they have that allow you to ship any weight, as long it fits in the box. They can help you clean up you mailing lists, getting you zip codes + four numbers, bar codes, bulk rates, etc. Their international expedited rates are very competitive as well, but they don’t track door-to-door, as FedEx, UPS, etc. do.
2. Clean up your list. Are you sending duplicate marketing letters or ones to old, defunct addresses, or prospects that are a waist of postage (nonresponders). Evaluate, improve, and amend your list.
Freight3. If you ship internationally, talk to a rep from each of the major carriers. They will compete for your business and, in my experience, will provide solutions you probably didn’t think of. They get you set up online, with the software and equipment you need.
4. Don’t wait until the last minute. Obviously, you’ll save money when you’re not forced to ship overnight. If you offer free shipping in your business, make sure you’ve covered this expense elsewhere. It’s one of those costs that can easily get out of control.
5. If you ship on pallets, talk to various freight forwarders. Prices vary…radically. They offer a lot of different services – pickup, delivery, customs, taxes, etc. Don’t pay for what you don’t need.
6. Overseas manufacturer? HUGE savings if you don’t touch every product you ship. Can your manufacturer ship directly to your customers? Look into this.

If you’re interested in a consultation or have questions, please email me at Robert@RobertFinkelstein.com. If you have any comments, please write them below.

Great Ways to Save Money in Your Business (Part 5)

Posted in General Management, Ways to Save Money in Your Business with tags , , , , , , , on October 20, 2009 by Robert Finkelstein

Saving moneyOver the past week I’ve offer up some money saving solutions that I hope you’re seriously considering. We’ve covered The Team, Promotions and Location, Internet, and lastly Office Supplies. Today we’re going to look at that evil but oh-so necessary expense – Insurance.

Insurance
Insurance1. One of the unavoidable expenses, and for a good reason – it’s necessary! So be prepared, but don’t over do it. Make sure you work with a trusted agent and buy only what you need – not too much and not too little. It will save you money in the long run. Knowing your business and what would be catastrophic is very important. Make sure you’re adequately protected. If something terrible happened, you don’t want to be out of business…permanently.
2. Medical insurance can be costly. Again, shop around. As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, taking care of your team is very important. Provide benefits that are fair, both PPO and HMO. Let them decide what coverage they want. Remember, if you take care of them, they’ll take care of you. Your agent should help you find the best and most affordable rates.
Save money3. If you’re part of a business or trade association, look into whether or not they offer group insurance. Many do, and this could save you plenty.
4. Have a contingency plan. In other words, if there was a disaster of some kind (flood, fire, etc.), try to have a backup location to run your business. Have a partner that will allow you to operate from their office or facility, and you would offer them the same. This could save you money on business interruption insurance. Something to think about.
5. Last but not least, consider raising your deductible. Your premiums will definitely go down, and if you had to pay the deductible, it would still be less than what you’re saving on the monthly rate (at least most of the time).

If you’re interested in a consultation or have questions, please email me at Robert@RobertFinkelstein.com. If you have any comments, please write them below.