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Generating Word of Mouth Advertising

9th July 2015

Generating Word of Mouth Advertising

telling secretsEvery once in a while,  during an otherwise ordinary conversation,   something that really makes you think will be said.   That’s what happened to me this morning during a conversation with one of our West Coast customers.   We were chatting a bit after he placed his order and he told me he was amazingly busy,  pretty much running to capacity.   Then he told me that the only advertising he has or does is word of mouth.   Satisfied customers tell other potential customers about him,  and when those that have received recommendations come to him,  he provides such great service and product that they don’t want to go anywhere else.  The new customers become satisfied customers and,  in their turn,  tell other people about him and his business.   The cycle just keeps rolling on and on.

What got me thinking is the fact that most business owners would probably kill to have achieved that sort of customer recognition.  For many business owners, word of mouth is the holy grail of ways to bring in business.    On the surface,  it doesn’t cost anything.    There are no magazine ads to design,  no flyers to print,   no product displays to create and hang on the wall.   Word of mouth does not require worrying about hits on a website,  or landing pages for banner ads  or maintaining social media accounts.   All you have to do to generate word of mouth advertising is to provide a product and service that is so inspiring that your customers are compelled to talk about your business.   It’s that simple.   Really,  what could be easier?

Sadly, pretty much anything.

Like the marketing and social media “gurus” who say they can make your video “go viral”,   there are those out there who will sell you a lot of tips and tricks for generating “buzz” or taking your company “viral”.   It’s tempting to think there is an easy way to generate positive word of mouth,   but that isn’t really the case.   If you want people to talk about your company for the right reasons,   you have to do a lot of things right.     Generating positive word of mouth is an ongoing process,  one that may take years to provide full benefit,  and it can easily be destroyed by the surly counter person who provides a customer with a bad experience,  or the production employee who doesn’t pay attention one day when creating embroidered polos.

If you’re looking to generate word of mouth for your business,  the first fact with which you need to make peace is the fact that you can’t force anyone to talk about you.   People generally talk about something for one of two reasons,   either they’re amazed and astonished by the experience they just had or something about the experience has made them annoyed and angry.    Obviously,  most business owners are shooting for amazed and astonished,  but many often miss and score a bullseye in angry and annoyed.  You don’t want people talking about you for the wrong reasons,  so one of the first things you need to do if you want to generate positive word of mouth is to make sure your customer service and production processes are as good as they can possibly be.

Another thing to keep in mind when working to generate word of mouth for your business is the fact that you can’t force people to talk about you positively,  but you can ask them to do so.   It might be as simple as a sentence on the end of an invoice “If you like our work,  please tell your friends”.    You could simply ask current customers for referrals to new customers,  which can be as easy as saying “Do you know anyone who could use our services?”.  You might also consider offering a discount or a rebate to those who recommend you to others.   If you are already providing an experience that amazes and delights,  there’s nothing wrong with asking people to talk about it.   Just be very sure that they are amazed and delighted before making your request.

Finally,   you need to remember that generating positive word of mouth is a marathon,  not a sprint.   It isn’t about providing great product and a stellar experience one time,  it’s about providing great product and a stellar experience time and time again.   Yes,  one good experience may make a customer talk about your positively,   but a consistent string of positive experiences will generate the kind of recommendations and buzz that will keep your shop humming for years.

posted in Making Your Business Grow, Marketing Monday | Comments Off

7th July 2015

How Do I: Provide Good Customer Service

customer service blocksSome people might think this post should be presented on a Monday,  as customer service generally is thought to fall under the Marketing umbrella,  and they wouldn’t be wrong,  just a bit incomplete.   When done correctly,   customer service is about marketing your business,   but it’s also about a lot more than that.   Providing good customer service requires being part swami,  part teacher,  part disciplinarian,   and part butler.    Your goal is to provide not what your customer wants,  but what they really need which requires the swami to read minds,   the teacher to educate,  the disciplinarian to steer them away from things that won’t do what they need,   and to be firm about why they don’t need them,   and the butler to provide that little extra touch of luxury that allows your customer to walk away feeling pampered and appreciated.   Providing good customer service is a lot about being aware and alert,  and much less about mouthing some tired platitudes about “how your business matters to us”.  Good customer service doesn’t tell your customers they matter to your business,  it shows them they matter.

Peter Shankman,  who gets a lot of things right when he talks about customer service,  says that these days,  great customer service doesn’t require being stunningly awesome every second.   Being better than the rest just requires elevating your game a little bit.   Sadly,  most people are so accustomed to being treated like an inconvenience and enduring terrible customer service that they’ll react to even a modest effort like you’ve offered them a Godiva chocolate in a solid gold box strapped to the cutest puppy in the universe.   Even being seen to make an effort while being unable to deliver can win you points.   We’re all so beaten down these days by companies that basically treat us like ATMs that simply being treated like a human is a refreshing change of pace.

So,  given that we know most companies are providing rock bottom customer service,  and realizing that it only takes a little to be a lot better than average,   the next step is to harness your inner swami,  teacher,  disciplinarian and butler and take your customer service to the next level.   Here’s how that works:

The Swami – You don’t have to read minds,  you just have to listen and be observant.   Customers aren’t always the best at expressing what they need, so you’ll need to read between the lines on occasion.   Being a swami also requires thinking about the orders that come to you and paying attention to what’s being ordered.   If you have a customer who orders consistently,  and their orders are generally the same type of thing,  and then they order something completely different,  it’s worth checking to make sure the order was placed correctly.   Even if they did order properly,  they’ll still appreciate that you knew them well enough to know this wasn’t their usual order.

The Teacher – Teachers educate,  and many of us in the industry talk often about what customers don’t know and how it’s our responsibility to teach them.   Your customers don’t expect and probably don’t want a college level seminar,  but explaining a few basic details can help them better understand what you can and can’t do and why.   Educating customers about the value of what you do,  both in creativity and in dollars and cents is also worthwhile.     You don’t have to lecture,  but taking advantage of a teaching moment is always a good thing.

The Disciplinarian – Anyone who has ever been around a child has probably had the experience of telling them no,  or stopping the kid from doing something they really wanted to do but which was dangerous or not good for them.    I’m not saying customers are children,  or should be treated as such,  but there are times when you,  as the expert,  will know better than they do.   At those times,  it’s your job to provide information that will allow them to make the correct choice,  and to steer them away from the wrong choices.   Sometimes that requires being firm.   The traditional rule is that the customer is always right,  but that doesn’t mean they always make the right choices.   Your job is to help them see where they’ve made an error and to provide them with good choices that will help achieve their final goal.

The Butler –  We can’t all be Jeeves,  but we can provide that little extra touch that makes our customers feel spoiled and pampered.  Whether it’s a handwritten note to say thank you for an order,  or a little extra something thrown in with finished garments,  letting your customer know you appreciate their business doesn’t have to be fancy,  it just needs to be sincere.

Sincerity is probably,  in the end,  what matters most.   If you genuinely appreciate your customers, truly want to provide them with the best products and service you can,   and are willing to put some effort into doing so,  it’s likely that your customer service will be way above average.   It’s also likely that your customers will recognize that,  and continue to be customers for years to come.

posted in Making Your Business Grow, Marketing Monday | 2 Comments

23rd September 2014

3 Tips for Dealing with Changing Plans

whyAs some point in every workday, it seems,  I say to myself or sigh to a co-worker “I wasn’t planning on doing this today”.   Now,  I’m not rigidly married to a plan or a schedule,  but I usually have three or four things to get done planned out for each day,   and I try to stick to my list.  Despite my best intentions, however,  at some point in almost every day,  the plan gets derailed.  I’ve learned to take that in stride and to adjust to the situations the events of the day dictate.   It wasn’t always that way.

When you create and run your own business,  the tendency is to want to create a plan and stick to it.   Having a plan and a direction is, after all,  how most businesses are built,  and sticking to a plan is how you set a direction and keep the business on track.   Every business should have a plan,  it’s a guidebook for where the business is headed,  and a checklist for keeping things on the right path,  but the plan can’t be followed too rigorously.   Allowances have to be made for the fact that daily life will cause the plans to change,  and acceptance of the idea that a change in plans does not spell disaster has to be cultivated.   If you’re like me,  achieving that state of acceptance may be difficult.  Here are a few ways to achieve the zen of plan flux for yourself.

1. Acknowledge there are big plans and small plans –  Everyone probably has some sort of plan for their workday,  but not all plans are created equal.  If you’re on deadline,  then certain tasks must be done.   If you promised you’d get something to a customer by a certain date,  then that package should go in the mail.   Those are big plans,  with specific requirements and specific consequences if they’re not completed.   Planning to clean out your e-mail box is a small plan,  and the world won’t end if it’s not done today.   Big plans take priority.  Small plans can be postponed if circumstances require it.

2.  Allow yourself some time to be irritated –  You had a plan,  which you made because you thought it was the best way to proceed,  and it got changed,  often through no fault of your own.   This is irritating and you have the right to be irritated.  Allow yourself some time to feel annoyed,  but make sure it’s a set amount of time,  fifteen minutes at most,  and once your time to be annoyed is up,  you drop the subject and move on.

3.  Accept what you can’t control – The one sure thing we can control is our reaction to the events and people around us.    Everything else may or may not be in our control depending on circumstances.   If your plan gets changed and you have no control over that change,  all you can do is accept what’s happened and go with the new flow of events.   You control your attitude and a positive attitude will make any change of plans easier for you and those who work with you.

posted in Making Your Business Grow | Comments Off

26th November 2013

Uses for a Heat Press

Collage_SwingEven though it might not seem like it at first glance,  a heat press is a very versatile piece of equipment.  While it’s true that all a heat press can do is heat up and press things,  the variety of  techniques for which it can be used may well make it one of the most valuable instruments in your shop.    Adding a heat press to your set-up can open up a whole host of opportunities for new markets and new sales.    If you’ve never considered adding a heat press to your shop before,  here are some uses for a heat press that may make you think again.

Use 1:  Sublimation – Dye sublimation is a process by which a special ink is printed on a special paper and then the transfer is heat pressed on a polyester garment or a poly coated substrate.  Sublimation offers you the ability to do more complicated designs on garments,  as well as widening the number of items you can offer to your customers.  If you’ve ever wanted to offer mousepads or coffee mugs or jewelry boxes,  then sublimation is the discipline for you.

Use 2:  Screenprint or plastisol transfers – Screenprint is a very popular decorating technique,  but it does have a learning curve,  and setting up a shop can be expensive.    Plastisol transfers allow you to offer screenprinted garments and items to your customers without having to do the screenprinting yourself.  All you need is a transfer,  an item to embellish,  and a heat press and you’re in business.

Use 3:  Vinyl –  This is another popular decoration technique that can be used on garments and other items.  Vinyl is often popular for the names and numbers on sports jerseys and team uniforms.   If you have a lot of school or sports league business available in your area,  vinyl may well be a great addition to your product offerings.

Use 4:  Rhinestones –  If bling is your thing,  then you’ll love rhinestone transfers.   A heat applied rhinestone transfer allows you to add sparkle to garments and other items without having to deal with the hassle of buying rhinestones and placing them yourself.

Use 5:  Decorated patches –  A blank patch,  embroidered or screenprinted by you,  can be heat sealed onto a garment,  backpack or other item.   Sublimated patches are a terrific way to make complicated designs with many colors simple.     If you have a design that won’t translate well into embroidery or screenprint,  put it on a sublimated patch and then heat seal it to the item to be decorated.    Your complicated design is now decorating the item of your choice with one easy press.

Finally,  if all else fails,  and you’re having a busy day at the shop,  you can always make a quick snack on your press.  Now,  we don’t recommend this option,  but it can be done and apparently,  the grilled cheese sandwich turns out quite tasty.

Clearly,  a heat press has many uses,  but some of you may still feel that a heat press isn’t right for your business.   Since it is the season of giving,  and since we are thankful for our customers and those who take an interest in EnMart,   we don’t want you to leave without a little something.    Use this coupon to take 5% off your order of $50 or more.  Happy Holidays!

 

 

posted in Garment Decoration, Making Your Business Grow, Patches/Emblems, Sublimation | Comments Off

19th September 2011

Do The Math

Let’s face it,  we’re a world accustomed to buy one get one free,  everything’s on sale,  coupons and discounts and special offers.  You can always find a website or a store or an e-mail in your inbox that will claim to have more for less,  better for cheaper, or a deal you won’t find anywhere else.   The problem is that with all these deals and specials and buy one get one free  it’s hard to know where to find the best price and whether the deal you’re being offered is really the best deal.   Unless, of course,  you do the math.

Doing the math doesn’t take that much time to do,  and the results can help you be sure you’re getting the best deal, so it is worth doing.   It’s also quite simple.   All that’s required to do the math is a deal,  some comparative pricing and a calculator.   The process works like this:

Suppose you’ve gotten an e-mail from a company offering a buy one get one free special.  In this case,  it’s 250 piece packs of cutaway backing.   If you buy one at x price,  you get another for “free”.   The first thing to do is run the numbers on this deal.   Divide the price by the number of sheets of backing you’ll get for that price (500) and that will give you your cost per sheet.   Once you have this number,  you need something to which it can be compared.  That’s where a little research comes in.   Do a search and find out for what price other companies are offering 500 sheets of the same type of backing.  Then do the math on those prices.    You may find out that the deal is really a good deal.  You may find out that another company has a better price per sheet.  Whatever the outcome,  at least you’ll know, and you’ll be sure that you’re getting the most for your hard earned dollars.

This process can work for anything.  Want to figure out which machine embroidery thread is the best value? Figure out your income per hour when the machine is sewing at top capacity and then subtract the time it takes to repair each thread break.   Each second of production you lose reduces your income per hour,  so a thread with less breaks is going to be a better value,  even if the purchase price is more expensive.

The thing to remember is that any company can tell you they’re offering a deal,  but it’s the math that confirms whether a deal really saves you money.   Doing the math will help you make sure you’re getting the most for the money you’ve worked hard to make, which is, in the end, the goal for which we all are shooting.

posted in Machine Embroidery Supplies, Making Your Business Grow, Shop EnMart | 1 Comment

7th June 2011

Loyalty Works Both Ways

In the course of my work day, because I spend a lot of time on forums and on Facebook and Twitter,  and because I also write a blog and column of Stitches Magazine,  I get to see a lot of posts about how people think a business should be run.  There are posts talking about social media,  comments about sales and special offers,  gripes about poor communication and slow shipping times,  pretty much every aspect of running a business gets covered, except one.  Loyalty.

When loyalty does get discussed it’s generally mentioned in the context of making customers more loyal to a company.   There are customer retention programs and customer discount clubs and all sorts of things designed to make the people who buy from a particular company more loyal to that company.   Everyone knows that recruiting a new customer always costs more than retaining a current customer, so the focus on customer loyalty makes sense.  In my opinion, however,  the focus is on the wrong part of the equation.   It shouldn’t be entirely about how loyal the customer is to the company,  it should also be about how loyal the company is to the customer.

If you’re a customer, you should, in my opinion anyway,  be asking a few questions about those with whom you do business,  questions beyond “do they have the lowest price?” or “can they ship things to me fast?”.   Price and speed of delivery are important,  no one denies that,  but lowest price isn’t always the best choice and speed of shipments doesn’t mean a lot if the company treats you poorly.   Every customer will, of course,  have slightly different criteria for what makes one company a keeper and another not worth buying from,  but I’d say, if the companies with whom you do business are showing these traits,  you’ve probably got a company that will be as loyal to you as you are to it.

5 Traits of Loyal Companies

  1. They talk to you – They have a blog, or a Twitter account or a Facebook page,  or send e-mail blasts,  but the content isn’t always about selling you more product.  They may try to educate, steer you toward good deals or help you get the most out of your current purchases,  but the goal is always to help you do more,  not get you to buy more.
  2. They’ll help you in an emergency – You need a cone of thread in a hurry.  You just ruined your last tile and the customer wants their order tomorrow.  When you’re really in need,  a loyal company will do whatever possible to help.
  3. There are real people on the other end of the phone – Maybe you have a rep you always work with, or maybe there’s a team of customer service people who can take your call,  but there’s always someone there to whom you can speak.  The company may have automation to make call handling more fast and efficient,  but they’ll also give you an easy way to speak to a real person.
  4. They’re a resource – No company, as much as most would hate to admit it,  can be all things to all people.  Loyal companies are the companies that will help you find someone who can do what you want,  or sell you what you need, if it isn’t them.
  5. If they screw up, they make it right – Companies are run by humans, and humans make mistakes.  A loyal company will do what they can to minimize the damage and to make sure the mistake doesn’t happen again.

 

posted in Making Your Business Grow | Comments Off

3rd February 2011

Tooting Your Own Horn

Everyone knows that if you don’t talk about your accomplishments and what you do well, particularly in the context of your business, no one else will,  but promoting yourself  is still a tough thing to do sometimes.   I think part of the difficulty is the idea that praising your own accomplishments or talking up your own skills will sound like bragging or make you seem conceited.   Another part is simply that running a business requires a lot of time and effort,  and promoting yourself can seem like the last thing on which you want to spend your precious time and effort.  I also think sometimes people simply don’t know how to promote themselves, and so miss out on opportunities that could be of benefit to their businesses.

Since I promote Ensign Emblem and EnMart for a living,  I often get asked for ideas about how a small business could promote itself.    If you’re looking to generate some additional promotion for your business or for yourself, here are some simple ideas that can get you started.

Idea 1: Look to the media – local or national – Local media, newspapers, television stations, radio stations or local magazines are often looking for local experts.   They’re also looking for filler, so a well written press release will often get published.    National magazines are also often looking for business owners to interview for articles.  Make sure you know the media players in your industry both locally and nationally and keep your name in front of them.  Sometimes doing that is as simple as sending a letter saying who you are and what your areas of expertise are.   The worst that can happen is your letter gets ignored.  At best,  you have a source of good publicity that may only cost you a little bit of time.

Idea 2: Facebook and Twitter – Facebook and Twitter can be very useful if you are mindful about who your follow and you make sure your feed is updated enough so that it stays interesting.  Post pictures of your latest work.   Answer questions from customers.  Give people glimpses into the day to day life of your business.  Be human,  but be professional.   Remember this is a business feed, not a personal feed and craft your posts accordingly.

Idea 3:  Testimonials – Testimonials from satisfied customers are a great way to promote your business.  Some people simply have a page on their website that shares comments from customers who like their work.  Other people ask customers with Twitter feeds or Facebook pages to post their positive comments to their feeds.   However it’s done, the idea is to let potential customers know that present customers are satisfied and happy.

Idea 4:  Post pictures of your work – A lot of the work that a decorator does is visual.  Sometimes, though it pains me as a writer to admit this,  words just don’t tell the story.   Post pictures of your favorite pieces.  Share pictures of just completed work on your Twitter feed and Facebook page.  Don’t just tell people what you do,  show them.

Idea 5:  Help others promote their businesses – Part of being a success is knowing how to network.  Whether it’s online or in person,  always be ready to help other businesspeople spread the word about their businesses and their successes.   Do it simply to help,  not with the idea of there being some sort of quid pro quo situation.  Odds are some people won’t ever offer the same sort of help to you,  but the larger majority most likely will.  Soon, without even realizing you were doing it,  you’ll have built a network of people who will be happy to promote you simply because they like you and think you do good work, and what could be better than that.

So, those are five of my ideas for how to promote a small business.  If you have any additional ideas I’ve missed, please share them in the comments.

posted in Making Your Business Grow | 2 Comments

16th February 2010

Sell,Sell = Bye,Bye

As some of you may already know,  I recently was a panelist for a Stitches Webinar on social media.  After seeing the interest in the subject of that webinar, it seemed like a good idea to go beyond the webinar and continue to share  some helpful hints about social media with those who read these blogs.   EmbroideryTalk and its sister blog, SubliStuff, are devoted to the disciplines and business of embroidery and sublimation respectively, but they’re also about helping our customers prosper.  Part of that help should include the lessons we’ve learned, not just about embroidery and sublimation, but about business in general.

Today I wanted to share one of the lessons I’ve learned in my time working with social media marketing.   This lesson is a simple one, but it can have a huge impact on the success or failure of your social media campaigns.   The lesson is simply this:

If you want your social media marketing campaigns to be successful become a part of the community.

It doesn’t matter where the community is, on a forum, or on Twitter or Facebook, or part of Google Buzz, this rule extends to all social media venues.  If you want to have credibility and to be thought of as trustworthy and reliable, you have to form relationships with others.  The best way to do that is through interaction.  If you’re on Twitter retweet and reply to other people’s tweets.  If you’re on Facebook, comment on other people’s posts and make some posts yourself that let other people get to know who you are.    If you write a blog get to know other bloggers who write about the same or similar topics,  comment on the blogs those bloggers write, and build a blogroll that will help spotlight your blogging friends.  Bring value to the table beyond the products or services your business offers.

No one likes to be sold all the time.  A Twitter feed or a Facebook page that is a constant litany of “buy my products, buy my products” and nothing else isn’t going to do for your business what you think it will do.  Social media marketing offers some great new ways to get in touch with prospective customers and publicize your business, but it also has some pitfalls, and the biggest one is this:

If all you’re saying is “Sell! Sell!”

All you”ll be hearing from those who follow your social media accounts is “Bye, Bye”.

posted in Making Your Business Grow | 1 Comment

11th January 2010

Five Tips for Managing Your To Do List

This is a very busy time for us here at EnMart.  We’re gearing up for the 2010 trade show season.  EnMart is working to open a fourth warehouse in Georgia.  Research is being done on new products we plan to add to our web site.  We’re considering ideas for contests.  The blog and web site and being edited and updated.  The to do list of wants and needs and tasks is running into a second volume, which is a good, but occasionally overwhelming, thing.

Because of the time of year, and the nature of running a business, I have to guess that we’re not the only company that is facing a long list of things to be done.   Given that fact, I thought it might be a good idea to write a post sharing the top five ways we keep our long to do list from being overwhelming.  My hope is that you will also share some of your tips for time management in the comments so that, when we’re done, we’ll have a great list of ideas that might be of help to those people who are feeling a little overwhelmed right now.

Tip # 1:  Actually make a list – Some people don’t like writing down their tasks simply because seeing the list on paper seems so overwhelming.   Even if seeing the entire list in print does make your day seem filled to the brim, writing things down helps make sure you won’t forget anything important.  Plus, studies have shown that being able to cross a task off the list will give you a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction which could help propel toward finishing the next task.

Tip #2:  Determine ROI – When deciding the level of importance of each task, figure out what the return on investment (ROI) or payoff will be.  Say, for instance, you’re trying to decide between attending a local Chamber of Commerce meeting and reducing your to be filed pile.  Keeping your files in order is a good thing to do, but that’s something which could be done anytime.  The local Chamber of Commerce meeting only happens at a specific time and it has the potential to bring more customers to your business.  The meeting clearly has a better ROI and is worth spending your time.

Tip #3 – If you can, delegate – I recognize that not every small business owner has someone to whom they can delegate, but even family and friends who aren’t directly connected to the business can be asked for help when time is short.   Make a separate lists of tasks that need to be done but which don’t have to be done by any specific person and delegate those tasks.

Tip #4 – Schedule time to organize your list –  Take a half an hour every morning or evening to review and revise your list.  Keep a calendar so you have a reminder of upcoming deadlines.   As things pop up on the deadline list, they can be added to the master list.  Reserving this time helps to ensure that your list will always be up to date, and that you will be concentrating on the most urgent and immediate tasks.

Tips #5 – Give Yourself a Break – A list is a guideline for what needs to be done, but it shouldn’t become an imperiative.   Don’t expect to cross every item off the list every day.  Learn to accept the fact that some less important or less time sensitive tasks might be on the list for months.   Count any day where you can cross a few items off the list as a day where you got something accomplished and be proud of that fact.

Those are some of the tips that we use here at EnMart.  I hope some of you will share your favorite list management techniques in the comments.  I’m always looking for new suggestions on how to manage my time, and I bet others who read this blog would find them helpful as well.

posted in Making Your Business Grow | 1 Comment

20th July 2009

4 Customer Service Tips

customer-serviceI’ve noticed that I always seem to write a post about good customer service when I’ve experienced bad customer service from another company.  My guess would be that I write these posts because 1) I’m frustrated and want to vent a bit and 2) experiencing bad customer service makes me think about what constitutes good customer service.  Since I’m one of the people who is responsible for customer service at EnMart, I try to learn from the customer service mistakes of others.  Here’s what I’ve learned from my most recent experience.

1. Your web site should work – If you offer changes or returns or give your customers any ability to do things through your web site, make sure that web site works.  It is very frustrating when you’re attempting to do something simple and the web site won’t allow you to do it.

2. Your customer service representatives should have current, accurate information – The people who work for you are supposed to be experts on your products and your policies.  Make sure they have the latest up to date information.  Giving the customer the run around, or sending them to one person after another who can’t answer their questions will not make for a happy customer.

3. Tell your customers what they need to know up front – If your customers need to call a special number to cancel an order, or if there are special requirements they need to meet to be eligible for a promtion, tell them that up front.  No one likes to be surprised by restrictions and details after the fact.

4. Give your reps the power to go off script – Most customer service reps and clerks have a set script to follow.  Make sure your reps know they can alter or dispense with the script as the situation requires.  It is nothing but irritating when a customer service rep who wasn’t able to help parrots “I hope I was helpful” at the end of a call.   You want CSRs who think for themselves, so give them the power to do so.

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