StrategyDriven Customer Relationship Management Article

Six Ways To Boost Revenue By Building Client Trust

StrategyDriven Customer Relationship Management Article
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

What’s the one way to guarantee repeat custom from a new client? Trust. All successful relationships, whether personal or business, have to be built on it. If a customer doesn’t trust that you’re genuine or that you have their best interests at heart, they won’t be back for a second round, and they certainly won’t recommend you to colleagues and friends. Building that relationship of trust between seller and buyer is essential for keeping a contract strong, and here are just a few ways you can guarantee it.

1. Listen, don’t talk

It’s impossible to offer the appropriate products to a customer if you think you know better than they do about their needs. Listening to them talk about their wants and their concerns can better help you to understand exactly what it is they require, so when you come to talk, you’re offering the perfect solution. A client wants to know they’re being heard, so practice your listening skills and prove to them that they’re important.

2. Be realistic

Promising the Earth might make you look good at the point of sale, but when you can’t actually pull it off, you’re going to look like a fool whose mouth is too big. If you promise a specific product within a specific timeframe, just to secure a deal when they are stalling, knowing deep down that it’s impossible, you’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster. They are being honest with you about their expectations, and unfortunately, it is your place to explain to them if their expectations are unreasonable. Sooner that than having to let them down in the future.

3. Be identifiable

Customers like knowing who they are dealing with, whether over the phone or face to face. On telephone calls, always introduce yourself at the start and end of the call – you put a name and a responsibility to the transaction so they feel they can call back and speak directly to a recognisable person. In face to face communications, always wear identification like a name badge or ID on a lanyard such as those in this catalogue. This allows customers to take note of your name, but it also reassures them that you’re a professional, and you are officially associated with the company.

4. Don’t make excuses

Sometimes things go wrong, through no fault of your own, and your customer has to to find out. In these situations, don’t make excuses. Simply explain what has happened, offer your apologies, and move on to explaining your proposed solutions. Excuses sound like you’re trying to wriggle your way out of responsibility, and your customer just won’t appreciate that.

5. Don’t bad-mouth the competition

If you ever have to talk about your direct competition, keep it civil and cordial. Even if you think they’re dreadful as an organisation, your customer doesn’t need to know that – it just comes across as petty and insincere.

6. Keep your promises

Finally, never ever renege on a promise unless you absolutely have to. If you’re building trust with a client, you want them to know that you’ll always keep your word. Once you break that, it’s almost irreparable, but if you put your neck on the line and make promises, only to keep them, you’ll be placing yourself far beyond the competition.

StrategyDriven Customer Relationship Management Article

A Customer’s Wish Is Your Command

StrategyDriven Customer Relationship Management Article
Photo courtesy of Pexels

The way that customers view your business is paramount to it’s success. If your customers are unhappy with the way that they’ve been treated; you will find that they never come back to you again. Some people in this world are incredibly petty. And, the littlest thing can cause a whole lot of trouble. So, it’s worth making sure that you cover all the bases when it comes to your customer’s service. To help you out, this post will be going through three areas of customer service. And, the ways that you can make sure that they’re running at optimum efficiency. Now, all you have to do is get to work!

Social Media

Social media is one of the greatest gifts given to businesses. For one, it can help loads with marketing and advertising. But, along with this, social media can also be a great place to host some of your customer service. Most people have a social media account of some sort. So, you have a good chance of them being able to reach you through this method. Twitter is probably the best place for customer services. It pairs a simple platform, with a good messaging system and no fuss. Unfortunately, as your business gets bigger looking after customer service on a platform like this will become a fulltime role. You will need to have a staff member dedicated to this job. But, they can also do some other work with social media.

Part of treating your customers well is providing them with easy and accessible information about your products. Customers won’t often go out of their way to learn about your business. But, if they find a Facebook post that they like the look of; you might just real them in. Thankfully, this won’t take as much time as customer service on social media. And, there are even tools available to help. If you can dedicate a day to working on social media, you can set yourself up for months. Making loads of posts at once is a great way to make sure that your content remains consistent. Once you have a stockpile, you can use a tool like Buffer to have the posts that you make automatically posted onto the sites of your choice.

Email/Livechat/Phones

Support comes in various forms. And, one of the best for small businesses is email. A lot of companies have email support because it gives them a way to have cases handled in a timely fashion. Agents won’t be stuck on the phone or on livechat. Instead, they can read an email and get to work. When you provide you users with the chance to email you, it’s critical that you have the right kind of email address. It should match the web-address of your website. And, it should include a word like support somewhere. Most customers will prefer to get their support like this. It enables you to give them all of the information they need in a way that they can use it at their convenience.

Next up in the mix comes live chat. If you want to have live chat support for your customer; you will have to have some staff to cover it. Thankfully, though, you won’t have to have many. It’s not uncommon for live chat operators to be working on 5 or 6 chats at once. This gives you the opportunity to cover a lot more ground. And, will enable you to have issues resolved very quickly. You can have software added to your website that will allow you to have live chat features. This sort of extension will have to be installed by a professional developer, though.

The most traditional form of support comes with phones. Having your customers being able to call your business can have a huge impact on the support that they get. Talking to a human is one of the easiest ways to have something resolved. And, a lot of people know it. Most small businesses won’t have the resources to cope with this on their own, though. So, the help of a virtual call center company could go very far. This sort of service will enable your calls to be mainly handled by a computer. Then, only the ones that need to come to the business will.

Feedback

The feedback that you get from customers is invaluable to your business. It gives you an insight into how your customer think you are doing. And, it can provide you with new ways to improve your business. So, it’s critical that you read the reviews you get. And, in some cases, it can even be worth directly asking for reviews. This should always be done when you’ve had a customer experience encounter with someone. Gathering feedback can be done on your own website. Or, you can use a survey making tool to collect the data for you. The data that you receive is very important, and you should always have a record of it.

Feedback can be a hard game to play. It’s easy to monitor the feedback that you ask for. This information will be stored on your own servers. So, you’ll be able to access it whenever you want. But, the reviews that you get on websites like TripAdvisor and Google Reviews won’t be. Instead, they will be in some far off part of the internet. Thankfully, though, you don’t have to go through every last site to find them. Feedback management software comes in loads of different forms. Some services can monitor different sites for you automatically. But, some will have to be set up by hand. Either way, these are very powerful tools that can give a clear picture of your businesses reputation.

Hopefully, this will inspire you to start trying to improve your customer experience. It’s important to take into account what people think of your business. A lot of companies will let these areas slip and end up with a very bad reputation. Unfortunately, companies can only work like this if they provide a service that no one else does.

StrategyDriven Customer Relationship Management Article

The Hospitality Business Bible

People running businesses in the hospitality industry have to work hard to ensure they maintain standards. There are lots of tools and concepts that help them to achieve that goal. For the purpose of this post, we’re going to focus on the management of hotels. However, much of the advice on this page applies to all companies under that umbrella. So, take some of the suggestions and tailor them for your company. At the end of the day, people who build a negative reputation will struggle to turn things around. That is why it’s imperative that everyone pays attention.

StrategyDriven Customer Relationship Management Article
Photo courtesy of Kristoffer Trolle via flickr

Use technology to your advantage

Firstly, all hotel managers can make their lives easier by using the latest technology. Developers from Mingus Software say it’s the best way to keep on top of essential duties. There’s no point working harder than is necessary to create the best experience for guests. The right software could handle everything from the moment they check in until they leave. Also, there’s no need to spend time entering data into multiple systems. You can manage everything from the same page, and that will help to save a lot of time.

Ensure all guests leave with a smile

As a hotel manager, it’s your duty to ensure all guests leave feeling satisfied. That means you need to work hard to ensure they never have any issues. Of course, some people will make complaints no matter how much effort you make. Still, you will keep a clear conscience if you know you did everything possible to assist. It’s wise to ask guests to fill a short questionnaire during the checking out process. It could be all you need to do to make your business a success. That way, you give them the opportunity to highlight some of the ways in which they think you could have improved. Feedback of that nature is the best tool at your disposal for making sure you don’t keep making the same mistakes.

StrategyDriven Customer Relationship Management Article
Photo courtesy of Martin Dube via flickr

Go above and beyond the call of duty

It’s vital that all managers strive to go above and beyond what their guests expect. That could mean something simple like leaving a birthday card in a room. You could also place a bottle of wine in a cooler when you know someone is celebrating an anniversary. It won’t break the bank, but you could ensure future custom from the happy couple. Also, you’re going to see some pretty pleasing reviews on TripAdvisor if you do things like that. With a bit of luck, other people will see the effort you made, and that will encourage them to make a booking too.

You should now have some excellent ideas about what you can do to become a better manager. The tips should apply to any business within the hospitality industry. So, consider the advice and try to put it into action as soon as possible. Your company will build a positive reputation, and you’ll have lots of returning customers. Of course, there is always more to learn, and so you should continue your research after leaving this page. There are plenty of other articles on this blog that could help you to take things to the next level. So, have a look around before you leave.

Noah Fleming

If You Want Happier Customers Get These Three Things Right

Most executives I talk to feel like they’re drowning in data and yet anyone and everyone within the organization is telling them they need more and more data! Do you ever feel overwhelmed with all the things you need to worry about, let alone the collection of “big data” with the belief that data might help you generate better customer relations, or a more loyal customer!?

I’m going to let you in on a big secret. The companies and clients that I work with who are at the top of their games, or continuously increasing revenue are only really placing a concerted effort on three key areas. I’m going to warn you, there’s nothing ground-breaking here that you don’t already know, but how these companies are focusing on these areas might surprise you.

I’m a customer loyalty and retention expert. I’ll tell you until the cows come home that most organizations are too focused on the new customer at the expense of their existing customers, but I’m also a realist. The current customer is the beating heart of any great business, but you need new customers to grow. Anybody who tells you otherwise should be thrown from your office. Today we’re going to about new and existing customers.

The first area that these companies excel in is their uncanny ability to sell to their existing customers more often. I said sell, not just “market to,” and not just putting offers in front of them, but selling. You need the same level of gravitas and effort that is put towards new customer acquisition, applied to selling more to your existing customer base. That requires a customer retention process. Most businesses have a sales process but not a retention process. The best companies do.

I once heard an author and marketer say that all great sales & marketing is just about sharing your message over and over again. He might have been half right, once. A decade ago, maybe a quarter right. Now, it’s more like a tenth.

If you want to sell to your prospects and existing customers either the first time or the sixth time, then you need to get three things right. But you need to get them right, all the time and every time.

1. You need to maintain top-of-mind awareness with your prospects and existing customers. Some of your prospective customers aren’t ready to buy yet, and some existing customers might buy from your competitors if you’re not there. Here’s an example.

I was doing a workshop with a 60M construction firm. During the workshop, an employee in the back of the carefully raised his hand and asked if he could make a confession. With the CEO room I didn’t know what to expect, but here’s what he told us.

They had just finished an enormous and successful project. The client was thrilled! But when he returned to the client a month or two later, he found their biggest competitor performing an even larger job. They didn’t even get a chance to quote, and when he enquired the client just kind of shrugged it off and said, “They were here at the right time.”

How often is this happening in your business? Customer loyalty is never owed. It’s a function of day in and day out marketing.

2. You need maintain consistent and valuable messing. You need to have effective sales and marketing processes for before, during, and after the sale. You can’t just show up on your customer’s doorstep when you’re looking to meet quotas or get the next deal. The best companies are consistently showing up with value.

I was speaking to a group of Executives in Calgary when one woman raised her hand and asked me the following question, “Why would we continue to spend time, energy, and money communicating with our existing customers in a down economy when they don’t have any money to spend?” This is exactly the type of backward thinking that plagues organizations everywhere. Eventually, they’ll have money to spend and guess where they’ll be spending it!

3. Lastly, you need a way to test, track, measure, and ensure your sales and marketing, and customer-related processes are being completed, and that the things you expect to be happening are actually happening.

With another client, the CEO expected that when a sale was made, there was a handoff to the next person, and a package was sent to each and every customer. It took about half a day and talking to a handful of their new customers to find out this was happening, but rarely. It was only happening about 20% of the time. I’m continually advocating that you need a defined sales process for each stage of the buying cycle, and proper reporting to show you the right things are getting done. Without a systematized process, it’s virtually impossible to know where you need to improve, or where you’re dropping the ball.

Getting these three things right is all about having the right tools, processes, and procedures in place. If you do that, your organization will run smoother, your customers will be happier, and you’ll be more profitable. It’s hard to argue against that.

Over 20,000 executives receive my weekly Tuesday Tidbit. You can subscribe here. Every week I give them a specific challenge they can take back and use in their companies. Here’s one for you.

Secret shop your customers and clients. Have someone from outside of your company call a couple of your top clients ask them for a referral for something that’s directly in your wheelhouse and see if your customer refers you.

These are the types of growth-focused challenges that can be hard to swallow. But that’s how we learn. If you hear something that makes you flinch, it likely has nothing to do with the quality of your products and services, and almost everything to do with one the three areas listed above.


About the Author

Noah FlemingNoah Fleming is a globally recognized customer loyalty expert. He works with companies in a broad range of industries with revenues ranging from 5M to 2B per year to create dramatic results. He is the author of the new book, The Customer Loyalty Loop, and the Amazon #1 bestselling book in sales, marketing and customer service categories, Evergreen: Cultivate the Enduring Customer Loyalty that Keeps Your Business Thriving.

Sharon Drew Morgen

Why the Need to Build Relationships is a Myth

In 1937 Dale Carnegie published his celebrated How to Win Friends and Influence People – the first book suggesting sellers build relationships. 1937: with primitive transportation, sellers found clients closer to home; telephones were emerging (FYI – Morse Code was preferred for 40 years after the telephone was invented!); marketing avenues were limited, as was advertising (Sears Catalogue, Life Magazine, The Farmer’s Almanac, the local paper or general store). Obviously there was no technology, or global competition.

Selling focused on natural customers – face-to-face relationships with neighbors and friends. And buyers needed sellers for information and relevance. Relationships were vital.

It’s now 2016. We have a plethora of options to present our solutions. Our communications capability is global, cheap, and ubiquitous. With safe payment and delivery options, global competitors are pervasive. And – here’s the big one – our prospects have the ability to receive the information they need to easily choose a solution without us. Buyers contact us only when they’ve done their Pre-Sales change work and are ready. They don’t need a relationship with us.

The Ploy of Building Relationships

So why do we continue to think we must ‘build relationships’?? As a carryover from Carnegie, relationship building has been used as a ploy to manipulate a sale. If buyers like us, the thinking goes, they’ll buy. Here’s the reality:

Everyone knows you’re pretending. Until you’ve known people over time, through the good times and bad, you’re not in a relationship with anyone, especially when you’re trying to be nice so you can meet your own agenda.

Your ‘relationship’ will not facilitate a sale. Buyers cannot buy unless they have managed their internal change management journey that

  1. assembles all the people needed to be involved and hears their voices/concerns/criteria;
  2. gets buy-in from the Buying Decision Team that something must change;
  3. figures out how to meet everyone’s needs and make adjustments that fit without internal disruption.

Buyers can’t buy until they’re ready, willing, and able to bring something new into their status quo regardless of how ‘nice’ you are.

Buyers aren’t swayed by your niceness. It will, however, make you a preferred vendor WHEN ALL ELSE IS EQUAL and WHEN THEY HAVE REACHED THE POINT OF CHOICE.

It doesn’t work when your focus is a sale. Here is a real dialogue:

SELLER: HI SHARON! AND how are YOU today?? ?
SDM:[picking up the phone in tears, thinking it was my friend] My name’s not Sharon! And I’m rotten. I just put my dog down!

I offered an ‘authentic’ moment, useful as an opportunity to connect: he should have said ‘I’m sorry that happened. Obviously you can’t speak now. Is there a better time? This is a sales call and I’d like to discuss X when you’re feeling better.’

Whether for a large, complex sale, or a small personal item, buyers cannot buy until they have their internal ducks in a row, and then agree to seek an external solution (Step 10 of a 13 Step process). Because the sales model focuses on placing solutions – possible only after buyers have completed their Pre-Sales change management issues – we can’t discern where buyers are along their Buying Decision Path and buyers show up seeking a transactional connection. Our ‘niceness’ (which I’m differentiating from real customer service) is irrelevant; we just sound like everyone else trying to sell them something.

Differentiation?

I’m told sellers use the ‘make nice’ ploy to differentiate – difficult using the conventional sales route. Following acceptable marketing criteria of the era – words and phrases that are in vogue, graphics and colors that are deemed ‘what everyone is doing’ – it’s hard to be unique. And the myth of being a ‘Relationship Manager’ or ‘creating a relationship’ is supposed to show buyers why they should choose us over the competition. See?? I’m NICE!

Here’s the truth: buyers don’t start off wanting to buy anything whether it sounds like they have a need or not. They merely want solve a problem. But they have work to do before they’re ready. It’s only once they’ve determined their systemic change management requirements that they’ll buy – but by then they’ll haven chosen their list of vendors and solutions from online data or referrals.

By focusing on attempting to influence people to buy because we’re nice, we’re left out of their behind-the-scenes decision process and reduced to ‘being there’ when/if they show up (the low hanging fruit, or 5%). Not to mention chasing bad leads with folks who we think should be buyers (Prospects are those who WILL buy, not those who SHOULD buy.).

We can mitigate this and REALLY be nice by entering enter early and facilitating buyers along the route of their systemic change/Pre Sales path. I’ve coded the steps in their decision sequence and developed a model that facilitates Pre-Sales Buyer Readiness (Buying Facilitation®). You don’t have to use my model – create your own! But entering the buyer/seller interaction as a change facilitator will differentiate you and enable a true relationship.

Buyers would never buy from anyone else when a seller has taught the prospect how to assemble ALL of the folks necessary to be part of the Decision Team, or HOW to get everyone on board for change. Remember: they will do this anyway before they buy – they might as well do this with you.

There’s a way to make money AND make nice. It’s by being a true Servant Leader and change facilitator; by entering into a WE Space in which there is a tracit agreement that everyone will be served. Stop using ‘nice’ as a sales ploy. Stop focusing on the low hanging fruit. Add a change management focus and find real buyers who’ve already recognized a problem, and first facilitate them through their route to inclusive, congruent, systemic change. Then you can become part of the Buying Decision Team, make a difference, close more, waste less time, and act with integrity.


About the Author

Sharon Drew MorgenSharon Drew Morgen is a visionary, original thinker, and thought leader in change management and decision facilitation. She works as a coach, trainer, speaker, and consultant, and has authored 9 books including the New York Times Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity. Morgen developed the Buying Facilitation® method (www.sharondrewmorgen.com) in 1985 to facilitate change decisions, notably to help buyers buy and help leaders and coaches affect permanent change. Her newest book What? www.didihearyou.com explains how to close the gap between what’s said and what’s heard. She can be reached at [email protected]