Monthly Archives: October 2017

Provide Excellent Customer Service Without Uttering a Word

Customer female operator in headset giving online customer serviceCustomer service is a powerful thing. It can make or break a business.

Think about it.

The last time you had a problem, what made the problem better? What made everything okay? Who earned your trust and loyalty? It was the business that solved your problem.

And as easy as it would be to just talk to the customer and fix their problem, this is the modern world. People are busy, and they want help with their problem at a time that works for them. They want you to fix their problem, and they’re not always able (or willing) to pick up the phone.

This is a modern trend that we see more and more today—and expect to see more of. People want to find information on their terms when they want it.

The good news: while your business might not have a fleet of customer service representatives that can answer questions 24/7, you can still use modern technology to answer questions, provide customer service, and, ultimately, earn their loyalty.

Be ready.

Don’t leave customer service to chance—as in, chance encounters with no preparation. Prepare you and your staff for any customer inquiries that come in. Train your staff to answer e-mails, social media messages, and in-person interactions so every customer is satisfied.

If there is a significant amount of online and phone customer inquiries, keep a log of the calls and messages to ensure that every customer is followed up with. Make sure you designate certain parties to be in charge of each kind of interaction (i.e. e-mail, social media messages, etc.)

Make sure you’re aware of every social media message.

You’re not going to have a satisfied customer unless you respond—and respond promptly; a study found that almost 42% expect a response within an hour of posting on a company’s social media. Make sure that your social media settings are set so that you are notified of every message that comes in (or make an arrangement with your marketing firm so you are alerted ASAP). Respond to the messages as soon as they come in, even if it’s just to ask for more information.

To be clear, you don’t have to be online 24/7; this would be difficult for most companies, especially smaller businesses with less resources. Be very clear about your company hours, and respond promptly within those hours, or as soon as possible the next morning.

Make your responses count.

When messages come in, create a smooth system so you can respond quickly—without having to go through an arduous process of management approval before posting. Managers and owners, make sure you choose a staff member to deliver the customer service you trust; just because your intern is online all the time, doesn’t make them an ideal candidate for handling delicate customer inquiries. If you’re not available, or don’t have the staff on hand to deliver prompt customer service, don’t be afraid to outsource your efforts; a company with experience can deliver the customer service your customers expect—without you having to invest in the training.

Give them an answer (before they ask).

Don’t make your customers wait for a response; many customers would rather find the answer themselves. Give it to them via content marketing, and establish yourself as an expert in the process. Write posts on your blog that answer common questions, and share them on your social media sites. Customers can find your post two different ways: via search engine listings or social media (or a combination of both!).

If you optimize your posts, your blog posts can show up in search engines when customers let their fingers ask the questions. Make sure you write a highly relevant headline, and continue your efforts in your blog post. Include topics that are related to the question in the post. Share your posts in your e-mails and on your social media sites.

Make sure you share these blog posts regularly; customers who follow the social media site see these posts when you post them—and so can anyone who checks the site when researching your company. Make sure your social media sites are easily accessible on your website. Your social media sites can also come up in organic search results when your customers search online.

Handle negative inquiries with care.

Angry inquiries are an unfortunate part of customer service. If a negative inquiry does come in, make sure your designated staff member is trained to deal with negative comments and messages (other tips for dealing with angry customers here). Authorize the staff member to honor any special requests (i.e. discounts, extra trips, etc.) if needed so they can respond promptly with an answer—an answer that builds trust and loyalty.

Marketing that Doesn’t Take Much Effort

businessman with clock who has no time for marketingAny business owner or manager can give you an endless list of tasks they have to tackle every day (sometimes every hour). Marketing the business is just another to-do item on the list, often getting pushed to the bottom of the list. That’s why we’ve compiled a list perfect for you, the business owner who needs effective marketing tools but has a million things to do (and little time).

Marketing that works (with little time)

Website SEO

Optimizing a website may not be the most glamorous marketing task; you won’t see your website on a billboard or the news. However, the results and return-on-investment can be just as effective—and with very little effort.

Optimization is the process of crafting an ideal website for search engines, which gets your website to the top of the search engine listings. If you’re a brick and mortar business, search engine optimization technology can be used to increase your website’s local reach. Put simply, local optimization puts your website in listings of users within 10, 20, and 50 miles of your location.

Optimization takes very little effort on your part. Business owners and managers only need to provide information on their services and products and what sets their business apart. A quality optimization firm can do the rest (and be wary if they don’t ask for information specific to your business), and show you proof of their results.

Social Media

Social media may be free to sign up and post, but standing out from the crowd—and getting results—takes time and effort. If you want to drive sales, you need to put time in selecting the right social media sites, taking and selecting images (social media posts are far more effective with images), posting on a regular basis, scheduling for the future, and crafting a plan for the future.

If you don’t have time to take on an effective social media campaign for your business, contact a marketing firm about an affordable social media marketing plan. To make the plan effective, put aside a small amount of time to send testimonials and images to the marketing firm that give your followers a unique insight into your business, services, and products.

Email Marketing

There are several different reports on the effectiveness of email marketing, with some putting them as high as 400%. Email marketing is the process of building an email list (with the consent of your customers, here’s good ways to build an email list) and sending emails on a consistent basis with news and sales offers.

Email marketing can be as time-consuming as you choose. Option one is to create your own emails with relevant content and calls-to-action (make sure you send them from a dedicated server so you’re not blacklisted-more info on setting up quality email marketing here). The second option is to contact a marketing firm that can create and send out quality emails on a regular basis—emails your customers want to receive and keep them coming back.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is one of those “why would I need that?” marketing tools, but content marketing can be an effective way (both return-on-investment and time-wise) to increase the reach of your website and as a foundation for a social media and email marketing campaign. Relevant content posted on a regular basis is a sound part of a website optimization campaign to get your website at the top of local search results (along with local SEO). Quality content can also be used in e-mails and on social media to drive traffic back to your quality website (with these must haves of a valuable website).

Like other marketing tools, quality content marketing pieces can be produced by a marketing firm (tips on how to choose the right content marketing firm here). Be wary of content marketing firms that write one-size-fits-all pieces that are not specific to your business. Instead, choose a marketing firm that answers questions provided by your customers.

What you need to contribute

No matter what marketing tool you choose, or what combination of tools, you, or one of your staff members, need to contribute to make marketing efforts successful. You need to provide information specific to your business that your marketing firm that they can use to market your business (i.e. sales, testimonials, questions from customers).

Images are another valuable part of marketing. Pictures of your staff (with their consent), images of products or services delivered, or “insider” glimpses that intrigue and make your customers want to stay in touch with your business.

You can back up their loyalty by providing prompt and excellent customer service (details for stellar online customer service here). Once a message comes in, follow up with the customer and provide the customer service that your marketing firm has been highlighting online.