Tag Archives: customer service

Vendor/client relationship in real life, sad but true

It’s something we’ve all have to deal with at one point or another – a not-so-balanced vendor/client relationship. If you’ve ever struggled on either side of the equation, you’ll appreciate the sad but true scenarios played out in the video below. Enjoy!

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Don’t drop the price, fatten the offer

Yes, everyone is well aware that we’re in a recession and customers everywhere are looking for a great deal. But relying on that fact alone is the wrong reason to start reducing the price of everything you sell.

Instead, during these lean times it’s best to fatten your offer, according to Judy Kirkland from Echo Point Marketing partners in a Business Management Daily post.

The problem is, she says, is that when you “only focus on price you’re vulnerable to any competitor who undercuts you by a couple dollars.”

When you “fatten your offer” with something extra, you’re giving customers an added reason to buy from you.

Don’t have the money to add anything extra to the sale? No problem. It’s easy to find “extras” in things you’re already doing for your customers.

For example, the Wyndam hotel print ads offering to make sure your favorite snacks and beverages are in your room when you arrive. Since the hotel already stocks mini bars with a variety of snacks, allowing guests to make requests requires little to no extra effort on the hotel’s part.

Or the kitchen remodeling company that offers an added concierge service to help clients clear out their cabinets. The company had been doing it for years until they started positioning the service as an added bonus for signing a contract promptly.

Whatever your product or service is, odds are you can find something “extra” to help fatten the offer.

Think about giving customers added content with their purchase, such as a white paper or tip sheet. And what about offering free customer service for the life of the product?

In what ways does your company “fatten the offer” when selling their product or service? Any ideas to share with the rest of us? Leave a comment and let us know.

Of demons and customer service

Seth Godin wrote a blog post last week, titled “Demonization,” that ties in seamlessly with our Tuesday post on what can happen when terrible customer service hits the Internet.

Here’s what Seth says:

The closer you get to someone, something, some brand, some organization… the harder it is to demonize it, objectify it or hate it.

So, if you want to not be hated, open up. Let people in. Engage. Interact.

If you interact regularly with your customers in the places they like to hang out (blogs, forums, Twitter, etc.), an unhappy customer will be more likely to approach you first, before telling all of their friends about the horrible experience they had.

Be open, engage your customers and help them when they ask for it. Instead of telling everyone how terrible you are, maybe, just maybe they’ll spread the word on how absolutely wonderful your company is.

Low-cost, peer-to-peer sales training ideas

How often does your sales team go through training? Once a quarter, every other month?

I recently came across a practical idea over at the B2B Lead Blog to train your sales team more frequently, without involving any additional costs or resources.

In the post, Lauren Kincke, Marketing and Sales Operations Manager at ReachForce, shared how frequent, peer-to-peer training has helped their sales team to reach and exceed their goals.

Here’s part of their story:

Our typical training regime used to be comprised solely of a full-day quarterly kickoff.  During that time we would run through a few “sales” skills specific sessions, some background on our industry, and a piece on what we do and how we do it (for newbies).   Part team-building, part skills training, it was an exhausting day and by the end of it some of our more ADD inclined employees had mentally checked out.  Recently we decided to make some changes.

First, instead of only hosting training sessions on a once a quarter basis, each of our weekly sales meetings would be host to a mini-session led by a sales rep.  Second, our quarterly sales training meeting would be shortened to a little over half a day.

During their weekly sales meetings, employees were assigned and presented topics ranging from overcoming customer objections, to managing your time effectively to advice on how to prepare for a first call.

There’s no set format for how employees can present the material. Some have found success using PowerPoint presentations and others have simply discussed the topics in front of the class.

“I can’t say that we’ve measured our results, but I can say that our reps have been able to put these things into practice as quickly as they are being taught.  One of the greatest things about this training is that it is led in a peer to peer setting.”

It’s an interesting training idea that gets everyone involved in the process. Apart from learning how to be more efficient at work, the peer-to-peer sales training strengthens the bonds between coworkers and improves engagement across the board.

Moreover, the training method helps businesses save money by eliminating the need to bring in outside training providers and lessening the time employees spend away from their work. When combined with a formal sales training program, the peer-to-peer method has the potential to bring success to almost any business.

Do you think a training method like this could work in you organization? What benefits does peer-to-peer sales training offer that traditional training can’t deliver?

Taking terrible customer service to the Internet

Thirty years ago, when a customer was upset with a company over their poor customer service they could spread the word by calling friends on the phone, sending a complaint letter, or could possibly go as far as to write an editorial in their local newspaper.

Today, letting others know about shoddy customer service is as simple as pressing the power button on your computer.

Case in point, this disgruntled customer and author at Gaebler.com:

If you are doing business these days, you have to recognize that the world has changed. As consumers, we expect good customer service. If we don’t get it, we don’t just forgive and forget. We never buy from you again. We tell our friends not to buy from you. We tell the world not to buy from you.

That’s right. In the days of blogs and search engines, customers have the final word. That’s why you need to bend over backward to keep them happy. Because the happy customers stay quiet. It’s the angry customers who speak up, and deter others from doing business with you.

After a terrible experience with a major computer manufacturer, this customer made it his “new hobby” to let everyone know about it. He’s estimated that his tactics could potentially move $500,000 in sales away from the company by not buying their product for his organizations and compelling others to do the same.

Whether he hit his goal or not will continue to be a mystery, but it still shows the lengths to which an angry customer will go in order to get their voice heard.

Training customer service representative to resolve customer complaints is essential to the success of your business. As soon as a customer feels like they have been mistreated, they can quickly get online to start telling all of their friends and online connections about it.

Always remember the tried-and-true formula that a happy customer will tell one of their friends, but an unhappy customer will tell three. If that unhappy customer is active in social media, they may be able to quickly spread their story to 300,000 of their friends in just a matter of minutes.

Technology is forcing customer service to reach new levels of satisfaction. Representatives must be aware that the customer on the other end of the phone can easily spread the word about their experience just minutes after the call is over.

But it doesn’t have to be all gloom and doom. When a disgruntled customer vents about their problem on the internet, it could give your company a second chance to resolve their problem that you may have initially overlooked.

Say you come across a blog post from a customer who recently had a terrible experience with your company, what’s the best thing you should do?

For starters, you could leave a comment on their blog as a representative of your company. Tell the customer that you’d personally like to help with their problem.

If you can’t personally do anything to remedy the problem, continue to work with the customer until they are satisfied. Connect them with someone else in your organization that could help and remember to follow up to see if their issue was resolved.

Listen to what customers are saying about you online with tools like Google Alerts. If what they have to say is positive, tell them ‘thank you’ for their kind words. If their words aren’t so kind, ask them how you can help.

When customers share their opinions about your company on the Internet it can either be good or bad (sometimes, really bad). It’s up to you to determine how to handle the comments once they’re made.

How to set company standards for response in social media

One of the biggest fears companies have when it comes to getting started in social media is how customers will respond to your presence and how to control the communication coming from your organization.

A simple way to ease the fear of handling customer responses is to come up with a plan.

The U.S. Air Force is an organization that is taking social media very seriously. To help their Emerging Technology Division know how to handle comments, they created this detailed chart.

How to set company standards for response in social media

How to set company standards for response in social media

By answering a series of yes-or-no questions, those within the organization can determine exactly how they should approach each comment posted within their social networks.

Using a chart like this ensures that everyone involved in your organization’s social media efforts will know the correct way to respond to your audience.

If your company has been hesitant to join social media out of a fear of losing control, you can ease some of those fears by setting standards for communication, like the Air Force’s chart.

Visit Global Nerdy if you would like to download a full-size PDF version of the poster.

What do you think of this chart? Does your organization have a “standard operating procedure” for handling communication in social media?

Why Zappos sent my mom a get well card

Today I’d like to lighten the mood a bit and tell you all a warm and fuzzy little story about my mom and Zappos. Yes, my real mother (Diane) and Zappos, the customer service focused online shoe retailer.

A few weeks ago she was online looking for a new pair of shoes to wear to a wedding. She had recently broken her ankle and needed a pair of shoes with a long ankle strap to fit around an air cast.

So, she finds a pair of shoes she likes online. Being more of a traditional shopper, she wanted to call and speak to a human being about the shoes to make sure the ankle straps would fit in her situation.

During the conversation with the customer service representative, she shared her reasons for shopping for a new pair of shoes. After hearing her uncomfortable reason, they waved any shipping costs and put her name on a “Preferred Customer List.”

If that wasn’t enough, one week later she received this get well card in the mail:

Zappos' outstanding customer service

Zappos' outstanding customer service

Not only did the customer service representative she was working with write her a thoughtful message, but six other representatives signed the card as well.

It’s just another lesson on awesome customer service and an example of how Zappos is leading the way.