Archive for the ‘Customer Service’ Category

Feb 20

Boosting Client Relationships with Customized Business Greeting Cards

Posted by Jodi Riolo | No Comments

While pre-printed cards are cheaper, sending out customized business greeting cards sends the message that you value your clients enough to invest in them. It is also a good idea to make your company standout by adding your logo or any personalized messages that reflect the culture of your company. Anyone in sales will tell you, boosting client relationships that you already have is much more profitable than constantly seeking out new prospects.

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Dec 19

Custom Thank You Cards for your business – Vendor Appreciation

Posted by Jodi Riolo | No Comments

For most business owners, more customers means more revenue. This is why they make the effort to impress their customers even more through promos and special offers. Entrepreneurs should remember that they have another partner for success – the vendors and suppliers that keep their business running. Since there is no special day dedicated to Vendor Appreciation, you can let them know you care with a personalized card sent through the mail a few times a year. Client Retention Inc. can customize thank you cards for your business, and help you with other on-going programs to stay in touch with your favorite customers and suppliers.

CBSNews.com Michael Hess gives an insight on these unsung heroes—the suppliers:
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Dec 17

Personalized Greeting Cards for Customers: The Essentials

Posted by Jodi Riolo | No Comments

Even in this day and age of social media and e-cards, nothing can equal the warm fuzzies brought on by the sight of personalized greeting cards in the mailbox.

As such, the effort from business owners to send their customers a “Happy Holidays” card can go a long way.  Experts.allbusiness.com writer Drew Hendricks offers a few reminders on this gesture, including:
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Jan 19

13 Sizzling Customer Service Tips You Can Use Today!

Posted by Jodi Riolo | 2 Comments

 

The Secret Sauce to Customer Service

Did you know that you stand to lose approximately 50% of satisfied customers within 5 years?  It doesn’t matter where they went, they left you! Customer service skills count.

Can you afford to lose these customers?  The answer is an obvious no.  We all know it’s a lot harder and a lot more costly to get a customer back once they’re gone, than it is to keep them once they’re yours.  So why put your company through a costly process and rigorous churn to replace or win them back?

Don’t lose any of them. Period. These customers are your revenue builders, they provide repeat business and referrals.  To keep your customers, every interaction must be memorable, in a GOOD WAY!   

Exceptional customer service skills are directly attributable to customer retention.  In case you need it, here’s a little help . . . 

 Starting Today, Use These Sizzling Customer Service Tips

  1. Use your customer’s name at least 3 times in a conversation.  Keep it natural sounding. 
  2. Stay away from canned or scripted language.  This is extremely annoying and can be recognized in a heartbeat.   Keep your conversation friendly, natural and interactive.  We want to talk to someone that breathes and blinks.  
  3. You can’t actively listen to a customer and do other tasks.  Stop what you’re doing and give them your full attention.  Multi-task when you are not serving a customer.
  4. Take ownership of your customers’ problem – even if you are not the cause of it.  Don’t pass them all over the company so that they have to repeat their problem over and over again.   This is a real customer destroyer. You could easily loose them here. 
  5. Go the extra mile for your customers instead of looking for shortcuts. Customers can tell the difference right away and will appreciate the time you spend with them. 
  6. A silent minute on the telephone seems like forever.  When you are looking up information for customers, keep talking to them.  Keep it natural. Refrain from saying, “So how’s your day going so far?”  Seriously, this phrase has worn itself out.   
  7. Follow up with a courtesy call for every customer who was upset or had a difficult problem.  Then do it again within 30 days.  A necessary move on your part and a great relationship builder. 
  8. Take responsibility and fix a customer’s problem – OWN IT.  Avoid the, “It’s not my job” attitude.  Fix it so it stays fixed! 
  9. When said with sincerity, the words, “I’m sorry” can diffuse about 95% of most customer’s anger.  Oh yes . . . listen, listen and then keep listening. 
  10. Terminate calls courteously and let your customer hang up first.  
  11. Don’t speak negatively about anyone in front of a customer that you wouldn’t say for the entire universe to hear.  This could damage and destroy your reputation! 
  12. Make a sincere effort to remember personal details such as birthdays, their jobs, etc.  This makes customers feel important.  A good feeling.
  13. Keep greeting or note cards in your desk.  A card mailed (yes, the kind with a stamp) is more powerful and memorable than anything you could possibly send that is electronic.  Another good feeling.  

Do you have any bold tips you would like to share?  Let us hear from you!  Contact us . . . info@ClientRetentionInc.com

Oct 30

10 Killer Customer Service Tips You Didn’t Learn in Training

Posted by Jodi Riolo | No Comments

 

We’ve outlined some very important customer service tips that are basic, but valuable in achieving good customer relations and creating that needed customer experience. 

 

Picture this . . .

You enter a room and it is filled with every customer you currently have in your entire customer base.  Those are the only people in this room, and the room is jam-packed (yeah!).    Now for the reality check and a shocking statistic

At some point in time, approximately 75% of your satisfied customers will leave that room and go to the competition.  Scary thought, isn’t it?   Can you afford to lose that many customers? Sure it happens over a period of time, but I don’t know of any company that could sustain that kind of a hit. 

Why put your company through that rigorous churn?  

 

When your customers move on, here’s what you need to ask yourself . . .  

  1. How much revenue are you going to lose?
  2. How much will it cost to get them back?
  3. How much time will it take to get them back? 
  4. What is the game plan to win them back?
  5. Who is going to work this game plan?
  6. Why did they leave in the first place since our products and services are competitive?

Here’s the hard core fact:

It’s a lot harder and a lot more costly to get a customer back once they’re gone, than it is to keep them once they’re yours.

Building customer loyalty and a business relationship is paramount if your want to retain each and every customer you have.  Remember, you need these customers because they are your revenue builders, they provide repeat business and they give you referrals.  Don’t lose any of them.  Period.

10 Killer Customer Service Tips You Didn’t Learn in Training

  1. Use your customer’s name at least 3 times in a conversation.  Keep it natural sounding.
  2. Take ownership of your customers’ problems – even if you are not the cause of them.
  3. Go the extra mile for your customers instead of looking for shortcuts.
  4. A minute on the telephone seems like forever.  When you are looking up information for customers, keep talking to them.  It’s an excellent time to build relationships.
  5. Follow up with every customer who was upset or had a difficult problem. 
  6. Take responsibility and fix a customer’s problem – OWN IT.  Avoid the, “It’s not my job” attitude. 
  7. Any time you blame someone else for poor service, YOUR credibility goes down.
  8. When said with sincerity, “I’m Sorry” can diffuse about 95% of most customer’s anger.
  9. Terminate calls courteously and let your customer hang up first.
  10. Keep note cards in your desk.  A hand-written note is more powerful and memorable than anything typed. 

 Bottom Line:  Question: How do you keep your customers?  Answer: By showing you care. It’s that simple.

Sep 4

We Tackled Our Worst Fear; Cold Calls

Posted by Jodi Riolo | 1 Comment

This is an unusual post from Client Retention and our business greeting card business.  However, we needed to continue to challenge ourselves to grow, which means putting our vulnerability “out there.”  We did and here’s what happened.

Seriously, we would rather deal with an angry customer than pound the pavement making cold calls.

Cold calling –  not our specialty and certainly out of our comfort zone. However, there comes a time when you just have to remove the duct tape between you and your desk, bite the bullet, overcome your fear of possible rejection (no hives!) and physically start knocking on those business doors.

Our B2B, Client Retention, is getting close to the 5 year mark and it occurred to us that maybe we should venture out in the premise visit cold calling area.  Don’t get us wrong, we are not strangers to “sales,” thank goodness.  We have dabbled in it all, belong to many networking groups, organizations, have a great referral incentive in place and do our share of social marketing.  What we have been missing is the face-to-face connection with businesses at THEIR storefronts.  In other words, going out to meet the people unannounced, unscheduled, no appointment.  Well, you get it.

We figured it was about time (you think?).  Our desire was to accomplish two areas.  First,  to introduce ourselves and do a little “soft” self promoting and Second, we wanted to pass out a killer flyer for our upcoming Thanksgiving Business Card Special.   Outside of being dressed in heavy armor, we mapped out our individual trails and proceeded in foreign territory.

What we weren’t prepared for was the responses we received.  We were not target practice at all and the armor was quickly shed. What a delight! In fact 200+ premise visits later, NOT ONE person was rude. Believe me, we are far from being experts at outside sales, but we conquered our fear and realized that the monkey on our back was from our own fears of being rejected and of course all the horror stories we’ve heard since birth.

So if you are in the same boat as us, here is our recommendation:  Face your fears, pray a little, honor the “no soliciting” signs, don’t go on a Friday, don’t go when it’s 100+ degrees outside, fill the jalopy up with gas and GO GET ‘EM!   You will totally amaze yourself and may actually be rewarded at the outcome. We were!

Jun 8

Got Attitude? 9 Painless Ways to Improve It!

Posted by Jodi Riolo | No Comments

Research shows 68% of customers who stop doing business with a company leave because of a bad attitude by a single employee. 

The sad story here is that when a customer leaves as a direct result of how he/she was treated by an employee with a negative attitude, the company will never know why.  

And the customer?  Well imagine how many times the story is going to be told about the “cranky employee.”  Not a way any company wants to lose a customer or have their reputation tarnished.

Attitudes among employees improve drastically when they see the CEO and top managers (regardless of their department) demonstrate great customer service skills,  These “higher ups” must realize that their primary customers are their employees.

Ultimately they must set the example of displaying smiles and positive attitudes when they are walking in the halls, visiting various departments, break rooms, and anywhere they are face-to-face with their employees, regardless of where any of them are in the chain of command. 

Your attitude is your personal signature.  How do you want people to remember you when they see or hear your name?  

Here are some “attitude improvement tips” you can use right away:

  1. Don’t take yourself too seriously for most of us, nothing we are doing today will make any bit of difference in the world a hundred years from now. So, why take yourself so seriously? Laugh (for those that know us, this is our forte!) and learn to laugh at yourself.
  2. Keep Your Spirits Up No matter how difficult the situation, maintain a positive attitude. It really will turn out just fine. (How’s that for a positive attitude?)
  3. Learn to FailHeard the quote, “learn to fail . . . but fail quickly?” Deal with it, learn from it and then move on quickly.
  4. Leave Your Ego at Home “The bigger a man’s head gets, the easier it is to fill his shoes” ~ Henry A. Courtney. What can we say?!
  5. No Screaming! – No matter how bad things get, no situation warrants an angry response. It shows a total lack of control and makes you look bad . . . very bad.
  6. Stop Whining A whiner is like an infection, it spreads. No pity parties and stop it immediately at the source.
  7. Dump the Drama It sells tabloids but has no use in the workplace. It’s draining and zaps valuable creativity.
  8. SmileIt increases your face value. It also increases your success. Remember, people aren’t happy because they are successful, they are successful because they are happy. A smile totally effects those around you. You just might make their day too!
  9. Tell Good Stories The world is often too serious for us humans. Chances are, you have been through a lot to get where you are today, so share some of your humorous adventures.  (You’d be surprised at the camaraderie this might create.  It’s called relationship building :))

Bottom Line:  Customers respond better to an employee that is positive and upbeat, so share your new attitude and that smile in your voice with your customers. You will love the outcome!

May 29

10 Tips On How To Deal With Angry Customers

Posted by Jodi Riolo | No Comments

With summer around the corner and rising temperatures approaching, here are some tips on how to deal with angry customers and heated tempers in the workplace.

In every business, mistakes happen and customers get angry.

When someone is screaming in your face, you might be saying “good riddence and get lost” under your breath, but don’t forget that when they walk out the door, how many people they are going to tell about their experience with you.  Anywhere from 9 to 20+ and it grows from there.  If they use social media, add several zeros to those numbers.

Don’t risk your untarnished reputation because you failed to properly handle their problem. Take care of the situation in the right way, build their trust once again, and enjoy their continued repeat business and referrals.

Because every person is different, nothing is certain 100% of the time. However, these tips will help you increase your chances to keep your customer.  He/she will walk away feeling that you were honest and believe that you did everything you could to help.  How great is that?!

 

1. Don’t Take it Personally

Customers are angry at a situation, not you. Until you hear them out, you will have no idea why they are frustrated.

2. Let Them Vent

Their perception is their reality.  Let them tell their ENTIRE story without interruption.   Typically an angry person will “talk themselves out” within a short amount of time.  If you interrupt, it is like fuel to a fire.  It maybe very hard, but don’t say anything until he/she is done talking.  Take notes if needed and listen to what is being said, OR not said.

If they are using abusive language:  Here’s what you do . . .

Talk slowly and lower your voice. Say, “I can handle your problem. I am not able to handle your abusive language.” 

3. Ask for Clarification if You Don’t Understand

Better to ask what might seem like a dumb question than to start off on the wrong path to solve the problem.  If you begin by answering a question that was not asked, the anger will escalate. 

4. Validate Your Customer

Empathize and sympathize as much as possible.  Tell the customer you are sorry they are so frustrated. THIS IS NOT THE SAME as admitting fault or accepting blame. 

It reinforces that you want to help and interested in their situation, not the company’s bottom line.

This is where the rapport building starts!

5. Repeat Back What You Heard Him/Her Say

Paraphrase back what you heard.  Two reasons . . . 1) it shows that you were listening intently and 2) it gives you an opportunity to clear up any details you may have missed before you respond.  Remember to talk slowly and lower your voice.  Seriously, this technique works well.

6. You Don’t Have to Have All the Answers

It’s OK to say “I don’t know.”  One of the worst things you can do is not respond truthfully. Be honest and tell the customer you will find out and call him/her back.  THEN DO IT!

If you don’t have a resolution at the agreed upon “return call” time, still make the call.  If for some reason you can’t, get someone else to make the call for you.  State that you have not forgotten about them and that you are still researching.  

The resolution may still be pending, but you just made great headway. The customer feels appreciated that you kept your promise to call back at the time you said you would, even if you didn’t have any answers.  Great anger reducer and trust builder!

Note: Not getting back to the customer at the time you committed will feed additional anger.  Don’t put yourself in that position, it’s completely avoidable.

7. Share What You Have in Common

Do you have something in common? Tell him/her a short story that is similar to what happened to you.  This builds camaraderie between you and him/her. 

8. Tell Your Customer What You Can Do for Him/Her

If you correct the problem exactly the way your customer requests, HALLELEUJAH!  

If not, have another solution ready that FITS the problem. Don’t offer a fishing pole for a defective lawn mower.  Perhaps a discount or a replacement that is better than what they originally purchased? Exceed their expectations on this one.

9. You May Have Limitations on What You Can Do

If it’s simply not possible to do what the customer wants or it’s too costly, explain that honestly, but come up with a mutual resolution.  Avoid bantering back and forth.

10. Thank Your Customer!

If their issue is something that is going to better meet the needs of your customers, you certainly want to know that.  

Thank your customer for bringing the situation to your attention which in turn will now provide better service/product to your other customers. They will appreciate that their problem and your solution is the catalyst for a positive change in your company. You can also be pro-active about thanking your customers by sending a greeting card customized for your business.

Bottom Line . . .

Take special care of your angry customers, they are like gold. 

You have just been given a second chance

because they cared enough to bring the problem to your attention.

When a problem is fixed properly and stays fixed,

customer loyalty actually increases!

 

 

May 8

“FINE” is a Dangerous Word in Customer Service

Posted by Sandie Marinoble | No Comments

Have you ever had good food at a restaurant but the customer service was terrible? Then, as you are walking out the door, the manager asks, “Did you enjoy your meal?”

Are you truthful or do you just want to leave and not look back? Most often we say nothing for several reasons.

  1.  We don’t want to complain
  2.  No one is going to listen
  3.  We feel nothing will change anyway

After all, you won’t be going back so what does it matter? It does matter. Actually, you are doing the restaurant a severe injustice by not talking about your negative experience to the manager.

Do not be satisfied when you hear the word, “fine” because 65-85% of satisfied customers actually switch to the competition. It means the quality of service you are providing is either average or below average and your customers are on the fence. In other words, they are not loyal and will go elsewhere in a heartbeat. Satisfied customers are neutral and ready to bail. That is as clear as we can be.

Superior Customer Service should always be your goal!

Here’s what could happen to that restaurant:

Read More About Why FINE Is a Dangerous Word

May 1

10 Surefire Ways to Keep Your Customers

Posted by Sandie Marinoble | No Comments

We have been noticing and experiencing a tremendous spin on the customer service skills of employees. We mean that in a good way! They seem to be more attentive and engaged lately.

  • Recently at a local restaurant, we observed an employee whose soul purpose was to open the front door for every customer coming and going.  We actually watched the front door for quite awhile and that employee never left her post.
  • Another example was at a theater we recently attended. There was an employee “on post” that actually acknowledged all the patrons one-on-one as we left, and thanked us for coming to the movies.  That’s a first.
  • What about fast food? Employees are getting friendlier, look happy and seem to genuinely enjoy the interaction they have with their customers! (Well, most of them.)

It is so refreshing that companies are finally getting on board by understanding the necessity of creating “the customer experience” by training and hiring the right people for customer service positions. Why the change? Competition maybe? Whatever it is . . . we are loving it!

However there is a flip side. Companies really need to embrace the fact that up to 70% of their employees may no longer be committed to the company or to providing quality customer care.  They are just going through the motions.  Identify these employees and address it.  Unhappy employees have a direct reflection on the bottom line, so it’s critical that your “front line” employees are committed to providing excellent customer care. The “I don’t care” or “it’s not my job” attitude can hurt a business in a huge way. When you want to stay in touch with the customers that mean the most to your business, we suggest setting up a greeting card program where you can thank your customers with no strings attached.

Learn The 10 Surefire Ways to Keep Your Customers