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4 Ways Your Business Premises is Giving Your Customers The Wrong Impression

StrategyDriven Customer Relationship Management Article |Business Premises|4 Ways Your Business Premises is Giving Your Customers The Wrong Impression Many businesses, especially retailers, have a blended approach to their operations encompassing elements of ecommerce and brick and mortar retail. However, running a business with a physical presence brings with it a certain set of responsibilities. Like your website, your social media presence or your content marketing materials, your physical premises is an extension of your branding. Your customers and visitors will judge it accordingly. And if you plan on growing your business, you can’t afford to take a single first impression for granted. The challenge, then, is to ensure that your physical premises gives your customers or clients the right impression even before they walk through your door.

But that can be easier said than done.

No matter how hard you work to create and maintain an optimal business premises, sometimes even little things can undo everything you’ve worked so hard to build. With that in mind, let’s look at 5 ways in which your business premises can give your customers the wrong impression…

They can’t park

Your customers’ first impression can be formed long before they set foot on-site. If they have to drive around for a long time to find a parking space because your employees have taken up the best ones, this can inject a sour note into their experience that you’ll need to work much harder to erase. Optimizing your parking lot, encouraging car pooling and having clear policies on where employees can and cannot park can all be useful in creating a harmonious customer experience and a great first impression.

It’s not consistently clean or tidy

You know how important it is to keep your space clean. Especially under the current circumstances. But customers don’t just notice the broad strokes. They notice the little details, too. For instance, they’ll notice if there’s one corner that the cleaners have missed that’s dirty and grimy. They’ll notice a bathroom that’s not been cleaned to a satisfactory standard. They’ll notice if an employee’s desk is cluttered or swamped with paperwork. It’s up to you to ensure that cleanliness and tidiness are consistent in your space, and that each employee does their part to ensure a clean, tidy and pleasant workplace. Even if you have cleaning staff.

It’s too hot

It’s a scientific fact. We all hate being too hot. Even if your premises is a little on the cool side, that’s infinitely preferable to being too hot. Being too hot makes us cranky and irritable. It can make small inconveniences seem like big issues. It can escalate conflicts and at the very least make us feel sweaty and unpleasant. So it’s up to you to keep your premises cool. From ensuring that the orifice HVAC system is working to servicing air conditioning units regularly or placing filters over your windows to block excessive heat from the sunlight. There are all kinds of ways in which you can maintain a pleasant temperature.

Your employees seem stressed and irritable

Finally, even if your premises is immaculate, your employees’ actions can make things seem chaotic, poorly managed… or really unfair to them. If your employees look visibly stressed, irritable and on the verge of nervous breakdown that can send a very strong message to your customers. Of course employees have stressful days. But they need to be trained and encouraged to seek out help when they feel out of their depth and to keep stress-induced outbursts out of the eyes and ears of customers.

How to Build Customer Relations That Cannot Be Broken

StrategyDriven Customer Relationship Management Article |build customer relations |How to Build Customer Relations That Cannot Be BrokenAre you a switcher?

Switchers are unhappy customers who switch from one company to another. Across the nation, businesses are losing close to $62 billion every year because of switchers.

As a business owner, you work hard to provide your customers with incredible experiences. However, sometimes things that are outside of your control are going to happen. Thankfully, business owners can learn to build customer relations that survive bad experiences.

Are you ready to find out how to create loyal customers? Read on to find out the secret to building resilient customer relations.

Build Customer Relations

The first step in learning to build customer relations that last is by knowing where you stand.

Here’s a short quiz to evaluate your company’s current customer relations:

  1. Are your customers recommending your company to family and friends?
  2. Are you attracting new customers regularly?
  3. Do you have a positive customer retention rate?

If you can’t answer yes to the questions above it’s probably because you need to improve your customer service in one or more areas. If you want to be a customer service expert, that means you want to build meaningful relationships with your clientele. Depending on the nature of your business and the budget you have at hand, you can achieve this goal by investing in phone systems for small business or training your employees to improve their customer service. Any of these strategies will require resources from your business, but as long as they’re implemented with consistency, these can serve as bridges for your business upon which to build customer relations.

The best way to lay the foundation for any relationship, whether business or personal, is with trust — and it’ll be very easy for customers to trust your brand if you prioritize their needs and provide excellent customer service whenever they reach out to you.

Be Real With Your Customers

Customers can’t trust you if they don’t know who you are. One of the biggest steps in learning to build customer relations involves learning to be yourself.

Customers want to know the real you. While it’s true you can’t come to work and behave the same way you might at home, this doesn’t mean you have to be fake. Authenticity will go a long way with each of your customer interactions.

If you want to be real with your customers, start by letting them know what your business does and what your brand is. Are you a business that prioritizes customer service? Or do you want to be known as a business that provides high-quality products and services? Regardless of what you want your business to become in the eyes of the public, it’s important that you communicate this message properly.

As a business, you should be real with your customers by setting their expectations and letting them know what your business can and can’t do. Transparency is always key when building customer relationships with your target audience.

Ask the Right Questions

One way you can be truly authentic with your customers is by asking them questions that matter. Let’s say for instance that you work in the hospitality industry.

As the customer is getting ready to leave your hotel, ask them, “Will we be seeing you again soon?”. After you ask the question, be quiet and give your customers a chance to answer. There are typically 3 answers your customer will give; Yes, Maybe and No.

Aside from building customer relations that can’t be broken, asking the right questions at the right time can also help your business improve its process. The information you can gain from your customers during this phase can help your business streamline its efforts, so you’ll end up providing products and services that suit your customers’ needs and wants.

Retaining Happy Customers

It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in. You can always ask customers if they’ll be bringing their business to you again.

If the customer says, “yes”, you’ll know you provided A-class service. However, just because a customer says they’ll return, that doesn’t mean you should end the conversation.

A happy customer is likely to want to share details about their interactions with your company and employees. Taking the time to listen to a customer talk about their positive experience, shows them you truly care. If the competition isn’t willing to really listen, you’ll instantly have a loyal customer.

You can also use the conversation as an opportunity to learn more about what you’re doing that’s working. Perhaps the customer loved the way you packaged their documents, or they enjoy your user-friendly website. The more feedback you can get from customers, the easier it’ll be to keep making them happy.

Winning Back Unhappy Customers

Let’s pretend you ask a customer if they’ll be returning to your business and they say, “maybe”, or “no”. When a customer feels comfortable saying they’re unhappy, you have a golden opportunity to win them back. However, it’s a delicate situation and you have to be careful to position yourself correctly in the conversation.

Contrary to popular belief, winning back unhappy customers is an attainable task. When you come across unhappy customers, take the time to listen to their concerns or complaints. Often, customers are unhappy about a specific business if they were unsatisfied with the products or services given to them. If this is the reason why your customer is unhappy, provide a guarantee that your business will do better moving forward.

Stop Saying Sorry

You never want the customer to feel as if you’re arguing with them or pushing them to choose your company. This is why you should avoid saying “sorry”, and instead show sincerity by actively listening.

Statements like, “I’m sorry to hear that”, can sound like an excuse to customers. It’s also a bad idea to say sorry since you don’t know what the customer’s experience was yet.

One of the best ways to have difficult conversations with customers, is by asking open-ended questions. An open-ended question is one that you cannot answer by saying yes or no. Instead, open-ended questions cause people to think, speak, and reflect on how they’re feeling.

Ask Open-Ended Questions

After a customer tells you they might not be returning to your company, or they’re not coming back, politely ask them why they won’t be returning. You can say, “I don’t want to bother you, we pride ourselves on the experience. Please tell me, why wouldn’t you come back?”

The main idea here is to ask an open-ended question that will help reveal the full story of your customer’s experience. After the customer explains why they’re unsatisfied, make sure you reply with a real response, not something fake.

To keep it real, avoid having employees use scripted responses. Instead, summarize and speak back the story you just heard to the customer. Now, they’ll know you were listening, and they’ll be able to offer any details they may have left out.

Express Genuine Interest

Chances are you’re super excited about the product or service you have to offer customers. Your excitement is contagious and people want to know that you care about your brand and your products. When you’re interacting with your customers, listen more than you talk.

Focus on Customers Life

When you speak with customers, the majority of the conversation should focus on things that have to do with the customer on a personal level. Ask the customer how they are doing, how their family is, what life goals they’re achieving, and so on. If you’re providing a service for their business, find out how their company’s doing.

The more you can learn about your customers, the more you’ll be able to find ways to provide value to them in your relationship. Oftentimes, companies fall into the trap of promoting their specials or deals or packages to customers that don’t need it.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Actively listening to your customers will help you avoid suggesting products or services they don’t need. Sure, a company’s package deal may be great for somebody looking to get a bundle, but what if the customer just wants to buy one thing?

If employees try to push the package deal on them, the customer may leave upset, or worse buy the product and not get enough value. A customer that doesn’t feel heard, or doesn’t receive value from your company, isn’t going to come back.

Small Words Big Sales

Listen to your customers, the smallest things they say can sometimes lead to the biggest sales. Not only will you get sales opportunities, but you’ll also be building meaningful relationships.

Another benefit of listening closely is you’ll create a work culture that cares about the customer first. When new customers see the way you treat your existing customers, don’t want to be a part of it.

Strengthen Every Relationship

Now you know how to use expert customer service to build customer relations. Taking the time to listen to what people have to say, is one of the strongest ways to show you care.

Remember, customer relationships aren’t static, they’re always changing. For more ways to keep up with your customers in the ever-changing market, check out the rest of the site.

The Customer Really Is Always Right

StrategyDriven Customer Relationship Management Article |Customer Care|The Customer Really Is Always RightIf you are a new startup, the chances are that you are overwhelmed by the amount of things that you need to get done. While you were once a specialist, you are now having to be a Jack of all trades. As well as being the owner, you are now the marketing executive, the financial guru, the social media manager, the reprographics assistant, the web designer and the coffee maker. You have a business plan to write and you might not even know where to start.

While you might be obsessed by getting all of your financial ducks in a row, securing funding for your business and ensuring that you have a buoyant cash flow, you need to consider the customer experience that you provide.

Your new venture will live or die depending on the reviews it receives. Nowadays, people venture online in the first instance when they are looking to research a company. Consumers are now incredibly savvy and want to know more about the startups that they are looking to do business with. If you are keen to hone your positive reputation, you need to have a policy in place that recognizes that the customer is always right.

Under Promise And Over Deliver

As a new startup, you have an array of already well established rivals to compete with. This means you need to solidify your reputation immediately. Ensure that you have a policy of under promising and over delivering. If you know that you can deliver a product in forty eight hours, ensure that you state that you’ll have it delivered in seventy two. This is an effective way of trading. When your customer sees that their item is on their doorstep seemingly a day early, they will assume that you have gone the extra mile. This creates a positive buzz and warm fuzzy feeling about you. This emotive response is vital if you are to encourage positive feedback.

First Contact

When a customer first makes contact with you, they need to feel inspired and confident that your company will provide what they need whether this is legal representation or a custom made tee shirt. An answering service for lawyers is perfect for those legal firms that want a polite and professional representative for their potential clients. Outsourcing this sort of service also means that you are more free to deal with more pressing area of your business vision.

If customers contact you via Facebook or Twitter, respond speedily. You can also utilize a less formal and corporate voice. Converse with your potential customers in a chattier tone and enjoy selling and marketing your wares on social media. If this will take up too much of your time or you are not au fait with social media, consider outsourcing this to a professional. These professionals will work with you to achieve your online and customer service goals through analytics and market research.

StrategyDriven Customer Relationship Management Article |Customer Care|The Customer Really Is Always RightIncentivize

While you can’t pay for positive feedback as this is not ethically sound, you can incentivize your customers to leave a review of any kind. When people receive the services or goods that they expect, they aren’t inclined to leave a review. However, if someone is let down or feels hard done by when dealing with a company, they will be proactive in seeking out ways to get their voice heard. You need to incentivize those people who are happy with your service. When you deliver items, place little discount cards in the packaging stating that your customers can receive twenty per cent off of their next order if they leave a review. Ensure that you have a range of platforms that accept reviews of your company such as Amazon, Trustpilot, Feefo and your social media channels.

Social media is the key platform that your potential customer base will flock towards when researching your company. If they spot a swathe of negative feedback, they won’t do business with your startup and will move onto another company providing the service or product they need. You need to hone those positive reviews. Any complaint (and you will receive them) needs to be dealt with promptly. Keep the customer informed and say sorry. Anything aired on social media is public so respond professionally and remain committed to resolving any issues.

You could have all of the funding that you need, a perfect supply chain and incredible cash flow, but if you don’t have the customer backing and reviews, your company will not survive. Provide an exceptional customer experience and your business will thrive.

Why Your Customers Need Choice

StrategyDriven Customer Relationship Management Article |Consumers|Why Your Customers Need ChoiceThe consumer world today is filled with options. Consumers no longer have to pay with cash or credit card. They don’t have a limited choice of high street shops to get the things that they need. They can choose from countless online shops, offering similar products. Ranges are enormous, and the options are numerous. It can be hard for a small business to keep up. But, you should make some effort to offer at least the basic choices to your customers. Here’s why.

Offer Choice Because Everyone Else Does

Because we’re so used to choice, we expect it, but we also need it. When it comes to paying, for example, there’s no longer just one way to do it. Shops, both online and in-store, give us options. We have different banks and kinds of card. Some people use Apple Pay for all online purchases. Others prefer PayPal. This means that your customers will have their own payment preferences. If you don’t offer them different payment gateway choices, you risk losing custom if they haven’t got what they need to complete a transaction.

Another area that you need to offer choice is the methods in which your customers contact you. Many businesses today speak to their customers via Facebook Messenger, but you may have customers that don’t have a Facebook account. Offer your customers plenty of options, and there’s no chance that someone will be unable to contact you if they need to. This can boost loyalty, improve the service that you can offer, and give you much greater opportunities to keep in touch.

You Need to Offer An Easy Service

If you want your customers to keep coming back, you need to make things easy for them. Offering them choices like how to pay, how to shop, product ranges and different services can make their shopping experience much easier.

More Choice Can Help You To Grow

When it comes to products, giving your customers choices of styles, colours, price points, services and sizes can help you to grow your business. It means that you’ll be able to offer something for everyone, appealing to a broader market. It also means that your customers will keep coming back for more. Say you sell clothes, if they love a dress, and you release the same one in different colors or prints, they’ll buy more, especially if it’s a great fit and good quality.

But There Is Such a Thing as Too Much Choice

While you want to offer exceptional service, an easy experience and enough options to keep your customers happy, you don’t want to dilute your brand, overwhelm your customers or make things confusing. Nor do you want to sacrifice the quality of your products so that you can offer more.

It’s vital that you work to find the right balance. Spend time finding ways to offer your customers the options that they need to make shopping as easy as possible. They should be able to find what they want and buy it easily, without having to worry about how they’ll pay. But, when it comes to products, listen to their feedback. Find out what people love, ask them what kind of options and extras they might want, and don’t offer too much. Make sure quality is your priority.

5 Reasons Customer Service is Important to Small Companies

StrategyDriven Managing Your Business Article |Customer Service|5 Reasons Customer Service is Important to Small CompaniesAs a small business owner, you may at times find yourself strapped budget-wise. Operating costs, marketing, and logistics may take priority over customer service but it should never be overlooked. Customer service is crucial – especially for small businesses looking to establish themselves in their respective industries.

The following article will articulate 5 reasons why customer service is so important for small businesses.

Customer Referrals

Word of mouth referrals is very important for a business, even more so for one that is just starting. No one is going to tell their friends or family about your business if they were treated rudely or didn’t feel valued as a customer.

People are much more likely to use the products or services of a company if they heard of them through a trusted friend or family member. Keeping existing customers happy is a great way to ensure you have consistent purchases.

Encourages Brand Loyalty

According to most answering services, when customers feel valued by a company, they are more inclined to stick with that company and purchase new product lines outside of their norm. Good customer service is therefore imperative for brand loyalty.

This is how you can extract the most value from a customer since the revenue you get from them comes with much less effort than trying to convert new customers. Great customer service can create life-long brand advocates and who doesn’t want as many of those as possible. One way to achieve this is through a call center or answering service that can tend every customer that calls.

Offers Valuable Insight

Having good customer service can add a valuable resource: knowledge. Some market research can only be done via a customer’s interaction with your customer service reps – and you don’t have to pay extra for it.

For instance, you can train your reps to ask questions about why a customer likes your product or what they use your service for. Their valuable answers can be used to direct your marketing campaigns to truly resonate with your customers. A well-trained customer service team can seamlessly insert these questions into their conversations with your client and phrase them so they are simultaneously providing value to them.

It’s Cost-Effective

The initial investment in your company’s customer service may seem costly but it pales in comparison to new customer acquisition costs. Having return customers means you don’t have to spend anything on their return business. Plus, customers are likely to spend more money with a company they like. Focusing on customer service is usually less expensive than focusing on new customer acquisition.

More Margin for Error

Customers tend to be more forgiving when a company with good customer service makes a mistake. Let’s say a shoe company ships the wrong pair to a customer. Usually, that is enough for a person to stop buying shoes from that company, especially if the company has bad customer service.

As much as the person likes their shoes, one small slip up can be enough for them to abandon them if they are known for poor customer service. Having good customer service will incline a consumer to stick around if you commit a shipping error or even if you raise your prices.

At the core of everything you do you should be providing great customer service because without your customers you wouldn’t be in business and doing what you love. We hope this article has provided you with insight into why this is so important even in this digital age.