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30 Do’s And 20 Don’ts In Starting A Small Business

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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Insights On The Entrepreneurial Mind Frame

Entrepreneurs make up only about 15% of the working population in the US. Far fewer actually succeed than those who attempt to become self employed business people and venture out on their own. So what makes people decide to take the entrepreneurial path, when so few actually make it a reality?

Is the American dream a possibility for anyone, or, does it take more than most to become a successful entrepreneur?

The success of an entrepreneur does depend on their mindset. A large percentage of business owners will quit in their first five years in business. What is needed is the fortitude and belief that goes with attaining success.

Entrepreneurs are risk takers and dreamers. The difference between the dreamer and the entrepreneur though, is that the entrepreneur takes actions based on their dreams. They persist through the hardships and never give up! Many entrepreneurs start with an idea. Their success is determined by their belief that they can create something greater than simple monetary success. Often, it is about creating something which will benefit the world.

James Dyson, for example, came up with the idea of the bagless vacuum cleaner. Despite multiple set backs, over 5000 prototypes and not being able to get any manufacturers or distributors to accept his idea, he persevered. It was over a decade after his initial idea when his concept came to fruition. Even then, it was after a lot of difficulties and hardship due to the vacuum replacement bag industry, which was worth �100 million in the UK.

In Simon Sinek's book 'Start With Why', he suggests that the biggest companies in the world are so because of their "why?" - their reasons for building a business in the first place. In all cases, it wasn't just to make money, or make technology better, or some whimsical ideology.

The Wright Brothers, for example, became known as the pioneers of the first manned flight. But their competition was much better funded and well connected - Samuel Pierpont Langley had worked at Harvard, had a number of powerful connections, including Andrew Carnegie and Alexander Graham Bell. The War Department funded his project with a $50k grant, a seemingly massive advantage to the unconnected Wright Brothers who had no money or influence. However, their passion and devotion to change the world with this new technology drove them to attain the first flight in history in 1903.

Desire for material things and monetary wealth can only carry someone so far. Unless you have a goal or passion which is bigger than that, you may lose the momentum and fail to maintain your enthusiasm for any length of time.

The entrepreneurial mindset is one which taps into your purpose. Without a purpose driven goal or aim, it can't take long before disillusionment kicks in. With a mindset which takes into account a larger purpose, entrepreneurs can build huge businesses because they 'saw' a vision of what they wanted to create. If the purpose is greater than the obstacles which lie in the path of attaining it, no amount of setbacks will stop you from achieving your goal.

On the other hand, if you set out to do something and something gets in the way and stops you, your initial reason, (your "why?"), may not have been strong enough to endure all the battles along the way.

Entrepreneurial mind frame (or mindset) therefore, must be aligned with both your vision, your values and your purpose. If your values are not in alignment with your purpose and vision, you'll come up against road blocks which will stop you from achieving your goal.

By Tim Halloran

Tim Halloran is a stuntman, martial artist and online business owner. https://tim-halloran.com/entrepreneurial-mind-frame/

Thursday, January 10, 2019

How To Make A Small Business Grow

Despite the many ways to build your online business through advertising, you can also alter your pricing and offer more to existing customers. This is something many small business owner neglect. They only go after finding new customers, rather than leveraging what they already have, loyal customers who can grow your business if you offer them more.

People don't buy only based on price either. Testing a new pricing structure can add profit to your bottom line in the long run. Yes you could lose customers, true. But if your profit goes up and most of them stay, you've already grown your business with a simple change.

You can also use your existing customers to grow your customer base by offering referral rewards. Give your existing customers motivation to bring in new customers for you by offering a discount or some kind of reward.

People will buy the same products for vastly different prices too. They might purchase the same jar of coffee from Harrods, for example, as they can get from ASDA for less than half the price. By aligning your branding and business with a premium image, you can charge more and customers will happily pay if you offer a good service.

This comes down to brand perception. If you are perceived as a market authority, people are more likely to buy from you anyway, because they perceive you as 'the best'.

You can build you reputation in a number of ways. Branding, celebrity endorsement and marketing are just some simple strategies. First though, you need to build a loyal following. Once your customers like you, they are much more likely to continue to use you. If they trust you and know you offer a good service, they are likely to keep using you, despite small price increases.

If you look at the top brands of mobile phones, for example, you'll see them rolling out price changes on a near constant basis. that's because they know you'll probably stick with them anyway, and for the few people they lose, they'll make a huge profit for the ones who stay. Their future customers will accept their pricing immediately anyway, as they build their business.

So, if you test your prices, offer add-on products for existing customers and offer a referral scheme to reward customers for referrals, you can make a substantial shit in your business right away. That's before spending any money!

Then you can also use Google Places for business. This is a free service which you should be using if you're a small business. It allows you to list your local business on Google's directory and it will usually show in the results of the search results for your major keywords.

Bing and Yahoo also offer a similar service. It's well worth the few minutes it takes to set up your listing. You then just need to verify your listing after you get a code in the post. Once you've done this, you're all up and running. You'll potentially have a free business listing which brings you consistent new customers for years to come. Worth its weight in gold.

Facebook also offer the option of building a free business listing too. This is well worth doing. Your business listing on Facebook can easily rank on Google's first page too, depending on your relative competition. Again, this doesn't take long to set up and you can build a stream of new customers through it.

Blogging is another free strategy for lead generation in your business. Of course you need a website, but you should have one of these already if you're serious about your business. Once you set up a website, you'll also want to start building a list of subscribers from it. Email marketing is an absolute necessity if you want to grow your business. By offering a free giveaway product on your website, you can get your visitors to opt in to your email list. The giveaway can be anything which your customers are likely to benefit from and which are relevant to your business. You can offer discount codes if you don't have anything else.

Then there's paid marketing. Direct response marketing is the fastest way to grow your business. Each of the methods listed above, will work, depending on your competition. However, pay per click advertising is faster and can be scaled up very quickly.

If you don't know about pay per click marketing, and you want to grow your business, you should definitely take the time to learn. It can dramatically grow your business in a very short amount of time.

AdWords and Bing are good platforms to start with. Then there's Facebook and even YouTube which offer a very targeted platform for businesses.

Once you've mastered all of those strategies, you'll have a business which is booming! Start with one strategy though and learn how it works. AdWords does take time to learn and you need to be careful. You can burn through a budget very quickly and get nothing if you don't know what you're doing. Many business owners try this strategy and quit. That's because they haven't stuck at it for long enough.

Initially your adverts might not work, but that's not the fault of the platform. It's down to your understanding of how to test and measure adverts, and to either cut back an advert or scale it up according to its performance.

Start with a small daily budget and target keywords which are relevant for your business. Your advert will show only for those keywords, if you do an exact match search. You can also broaden your search if your advert isn't showing up enough in the searches. Just be careful not to do a broad match at first because you don't want your advert showing for any keyword. This is how to burn through you budget very quickly and get the wrong kind of traffic.

Over time, and with practice, you adverts will bring you new customers. Make sure you track where your customers have come from. Then you'll know if your advertising campaigns are working. When you have multiple campaigns running along side each other, you'll be able to determine which to scale up and which to cut back on.

You can apply this same methodology to other advertising methods too. You don't have to stick entirely to online advertising, but it's a good starting point. Once you have learned one strategy, you can move on to another. Use newspaper adverts, magazine adverts, radio advertising and banner advertising too. Make sure you track all your sales by using discount codes or tracking in your online adverts.

By Tim Halloran

Tim Halloran is a stuntman, martial artist and online entrepreneur. To learn how to build your own online business see his site here: https://tim-halloran.com/how-to-make-a-small-business-grow/

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

10 Profound Insights From Impactful Entrepreneurs

Wouldn't you love to have Seth Godin, Marianne Williamson, and Prince Ea give you advice about your impact?

You can!

Those are just three of the impactful entrepreneurs I've interviewed on the Work Alchemy podcast. And every time, I ask them: what advice would you give an entrepreneur who wants to make a difference, to contribute more, to have more impact?

So here are 10 profound insights from the famous and not-so-famous, all impactful entrepreneurs and leaders. (Note: slightly edited to make the conversion from conversation to the written word more easily understood, but it's as close as can be):
  1. Look inward. We were put on this planet with gifts, talents, a perspective that no one has. It's our obligation, our duty, to find out what that is, to do that. Loving, serving, or giving or all 3 is why we're here.
~Prince Ea, rapper, filmmaker, speaker, activist
  1. Don't wait. Get started. Be brave and jump. But admit when something's not working. You'll find a way around obstacles.
~Kate Groch, educator & changemaker
  1. Don't see your business as separate from your spiritual life. Business plays an important part in the world today, so it's important to recognize your ethical responsibility. How will their life be affected by your business? Positively? If you take care of that domain, if you water those roots, blossoms will emerge.
~Marianne Williamson, spiritual teacher, lecturer, author (& all-around sage)
  1. Put your creativity first. First in the day. It only takes 10 minutes a day to play with what it is that I love most to do. It may not look like anything to do with your business. It will open more magic for you than any single thing you can do.
~Katie Hendricks, conscious living and loving trainer & author
  1. I would love it if people would be able to identify people they love in their lives who they love and admire, and turn that same intensity on themselves. Bring as much admiration and open-eyed joy to yourself. Then say, now let me look around my business to see what small change could I do to effect positive change.
~Indrani Goradia, nonprofit leader dedicated to empowering women around the world
  1. In my integrity cleanse, I decided I will ask myself every time I take an action, I stop and check, what's truest for me? I don't just agree with people idly anymore. I only say what I think is true. That's quite challenging! Sometimes what you have to say is not socially welcome. It does immediately begin changing your social world in a way that takes you to the people you love, and then your business becomes the people you love. It's a poorly kept secret that people who love each other in business do better.
~Martha Beck, life coach (the original), speaker, best-selling author
  1. Two things: 1) Check your broadcast. What are you broadcasting to other people? Start with what I call the power lead. Start conversations, emails, meetings, phone calls by saying something positive and meaningful. Those sentences can set the tone for the conversation. 'Meaningful' creates social connection, one of the greatest predictors of long-term happiness. 2) Before you read any emails in your inbox, write a 2-minute email to someone thanking them for something they've done recently, why they're important to you, praising them. It tells people they matter to you. It also communicates to your brain how robust your social support is. That alone will change the rest of your day.
~Michelle Gielan, national CBS News anchor turned positive psychology researcher
  1. You're not creating something, you're steward-ing something. Something wants to come through you, to be born, to express itself. Think, 'how can I steward that, ease the path for this thing', instead of 'how can I be me'. You happen to be the vessel. It can't happen without you. With any shift you can make from create/manufacture to steward/guide, more wisdom comes from looking at it that way.
~Susan Piver, meditation teacher, bestselling author
  1. Here's my simple 3-part formula for social media success that's in alignment with your values and your available resources: 1) content - tell the story of your brand, yourself, making of your product, and also putting the spotlight on your customers; 2) engagement - respond to people, proactively start discussions, proactively reach out to people, and 3) conversion - ultimately, the purpose of business is to make money/profit, and it's challenging for women to own that piece. Ask for the sale, include a call to action. Have that 3-part system permeate your emails, social media. Integrate your personality into your communications, your heart, your love - that's a wonderful impact on the world at large.
~Mari Smith, marketing expert, keynote speaker, brand evangelist, author
  1. Don't worry about the larger world. Start with 10 people, 5 people. Change 5 people. If you can change 5 people, you're on your way.
~Seth Godin, author, speaker, marketing sage

You can listen to the full podcast episodes for even more insights for your business: subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher - over 100 episodes already and more on the way!

By Ursula Jorch

Ursula Jorch is a speaker, business coach and consultant who helps entrepreneurs grow a successful business that makes a difference in the world. A 21-year successful entrepreneur herself, Ursula helps you define the difference you want to make in the world and develop strategy and marketing so you have ever-expanding impact.

Find Ursula on her podcast, Work Alchemy: The Impact Interviews where she interviews impactful entrepreneurs and leaders like Seth Godin and Marianne Williamson, and at WorkAlchemy.com for free resources for you and your business.

Friday, January 4, 2019

5 Business Lessons I Learned From My Mom

Who would you expect to be Shark Tank investor Barbara Corcoran's most important mentor? Barbara says in her new podcast, Business Unusual, that her mom was her best teacher when it came to business.

I've been fortunate to have had several mentors (I always have at least one coach, usually more), and I value them all. But Barbara's podcast got me thinking. How did what my mom taught me influence me in my business?

My mom wasn't a businesswoman, but she should have been. She managed money like a champ. She worked miracles with a small budget. She was a supermom before the term was coined: she worked a full-time job, she cooked, she canned, she cleaned, she even sewed many of my and her own clothes!

The woman was a dynamo, even as she continually battled depression. There's no telling what she would have accomplished without that constant companion.

Even though she didn't have her own business, my mom's way of being in her prime has been valuable for me in my businesses. So, in honor of all that was good in my mom, I'd like to share them with you. I hope they provide equally valuable lessons for you in your business.

Lesson #1: Be kind to people. 

My mom was known for her kind and gentle ways. Connections were very important to her. As a result, people always turned to her and had good things to say about her. In your business, your reputation precedes you. When you're kind, you inspire positive reviews. People turn to you. You deepen and strengthen relationships, which are at the heart of your business. Treat the people around you well.

Lesson #2: Follow through on your commitments.

Skipping out at the last minute just because you don't feel like, or blowing people off because you've had another offer just was not an option for my mom. Commitments once made had meaning, and they were to be honored. I've always valued that teaching. The trust that you build with people, whether it's with clients, team members, or colleagues, when you do what you say you're going to do is priceless. Another relationship builder!

Lesson #3: Work hard.

A cardinal trait of my mom's was her ability to work. And work. This energizer bunny seemed to never stop. I attribute my willingness to work hard to my mom's example. Business success takes work. Pretending that it doesn't, or listening to someone telling you there's a shortcut, only slows you down. When you recognize the value of working hard, when you are willing to do the work, you are closer to accomplishing your goals.

Lesson #4: Persevere even when things get tough.

Mom stuck by projects. She found a way to get them done. She didn't see gender or past experience or current skill set as obstacles. She pushed right on past them and focused on the outcome. From her, I learned that if you want something badly enough, never give up on it. That includes your business, and your impact. Find a way to move through tough times. Get support from a mentor - it eases your way.

Lesson #5: Know when to quit.

Um, I thought you just said to persevere, you might be thinking. The key is to know when to chill. This one is more like an anti-lesson: my mom never knew when to quit, when to step back. That backfired at times. So I've learned the value of knowing when to quit, even if only temporarily. In your business, when something isn't working, it's important to be able to step back and consider, why isn't this working? Is there an easier path? Is there an adjustment I can make to what I had in mind that would actually be better?

Most of us are surrounded by people with gifts to give. My mom was a gift in many ways to me. And now, to you. Class dismissed.

By Ursula Jorch

Ursula Jorch is a speaker, business coach and consultant who helps entrepreneurs grow a successful business that makes a difference in the world. A 21-year successful entrepreneur herself, Ursula helps you define the difference you want to make in the world and develop strategy and marketing so you have ever-expanding impact.

Find Ursula on her podcast, Work Alchemy: The Impact Interviews where she interviews impactful entrepreneurs and leaders like Seth Godin and Marianne Williamson, and at WorkAlchemy.com for free resources for you and your business.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Making Customer Service Effective In The Digital Age

What is Customer Service?

Customer service is an elaborate and interactive process of understanding a customer and fulfilment of his needs as per the company's resources, capacity and capability for the product sold or service delivered. In this context, the customer's expectation starts from the time he has purchased the product or subscribed or hired the services. Therefore, customer service is an end-to-end process which begins from the time of sale till the end of life cycle of a product or the service or its usability to the customer. Thus, this concept originates with the customer and ends with the customer.

Synonyms of customer service: customer support, helpdesk, service centre, customer care, troubleshooting team, client service, after sales service, customer helpline.

Customer service is a part and parcel of every organization. For any company to sustain and grow, their focus and efforts have to be channelized towards creation of good customer service team.

Good customer service should aim towards enabling the following:

- Long-time Customer retention

- Loyalty towards Company's products and services

- This in turn should build a customer's trust toward the brand

- Enhancing product effectiveness and its value among the competitors

- Translating to higher sales thereby impacting overall revenues positively (due to same customer buying products or services repeatedly or recommending them to his family and friends)

- Resulting in Company saving its cost of customer acquisition on account of customer churn (which is almost 5 times more expensive)

- Strengthening a positive word of mouth and increasing Company's goodwill and equity

- Leading to less expenditure on advertising, promotion and marketing activities

So, all these efforts will ultimately lead to company's prosperity and increased market share which is beneficial for its employees and vendors and its longevity.

Nevertheless, an unhappy customer is an opportunity and the company should never lose out on insightful experience through the customer's feedback to analyse the root cause of the problem that led to poor customer experience. Further, the company should invest time in reviewing their current working mechanism, getting into process reorientation, improving their product or service, it's features or offers, grooming and training the staff or bridging any gaps that exist as per the customer inputs.

Customer Service Representative, his qualities and the different channels:

Customer service representatives (cse) are the actual brand ambassador for any company since a customer interacts with them on phone, through on-line chat, on company's website or portal, on e-mail, social media and on-line forums, face to face interaction at service center.

A CSE should therefore:

- Speak to the customer politely

- Listen to him

- Give him respect

- Understand his need or concern

- Empathise

- Finally, most importantly, provide solution or an alternative as per his problem or requirement.

Being polite and humble without resolving customer's query won't help. Similarly, giving solution but in a rude tone will also back fire. It's a viscous circle of expectations. Customer wants everything - politeness, empathy and solution. And he is right as he has paid for the product or the service.

Customer is always right and is the king.

A Company has to:

- Keep their CSE motivated.

- They should be trained well in product and soft skills

- They should be able to communicate well with the customer

- Have patience, take ownership and work towards providing resolution to the customer.

Every organization contributes in some way or the other by working for its customers - it could be a B to B (Business) model or a B to C (Customer) model. In the long run, to accomplish its goals, every organization should align customer centricity to its vision and organizational strategy. This is an aspect no Company can afford to miss even a PSU or a Government organization.

Guide to great customer service is extremely simple:

- Remember, it is important to build a good rapport or connect with the customer

- Have qualitative interactions with him

- An intent to solve his problem no matter what.

- Smile while talking to the customer.

- Acknowledge the fact that most of the customers prefer human interaction more than communicating with machines. So, treat the customer the way you would like a service provider to treat you.

Different industries could have different levels of customer engagement as per their business and could have different ways to assess or measure their customer satisfaction.

Customer needs could be different for retail industry with regards to telecom, utilities, logistics, financial, outsourcing, government, healthcare, media, manufacturing, IT, real estate, service industry and so on.

Background of Customer Service: The concept of customer service is as old as early 1800s and it all started with the industrial revolution where products were designed and manufactured as per customer's needs. However, since then, as we have noticed, customer's behaviour has been dynamic, unpredictable and influenced by numerous factors, that's why it is never consistent and is changing even faster than a stock market. Dealing with customers is challenging most of the time as it is like solving a jig saw puzzle every time.

Problems faced in Customer Service due to:

1. Limited authority with each service channel

2. Communication barrier between the customer and the CSE

3. Resolution being awaited from the concerned person/ team

4. Every customer's problem is unique and expectations could vary to a different degree

5. Less staff available to cater to customers (due to leave, absenteeism, attrition) leading to high pressure

6. Technical or unknown issue (with no timelines or alternative available)

7. Company policy that acts as a hindrance sometimes

8. Lack of knowledge or skill

9. Customer reluctance to accept a resolution

10. Competition leading to higher expectations

How do we gauge effectiveness of customer service?

1. On-line surveys (as part of CSAT tool) as a part of buying a product (mostly asking to rate customer's experience on E-commerce websites). CSAT is Customer Satisfaction.

2. Surveys at IVR (Interactive Voice Response) as part of CSAT tool

3. Mystery Shopping by posing as a customer

4. Live and remote monitoring of customer interactions (random sampling) and evaluating the quality of each interaction

5. Feedback calls, SMS, e-mails or IVR calls made to the customers to confirm if their query / concern was resolved or not

6. Analysing and taking action basis customer feedback on Website, Social media, Customer Portal

7. Assessing customer's behaviour towards the brand, its products and services by applying Business Intelligence, Data analytics, Search Engine Optimization and other techniques.
What is CSAT?

Customer Satisfaction Survey is a powerful tool shared by the Service provider with the customer after he has had an interaction with the Customer service representative to rate his experience along with rating on service related parameters including resolution of his problem. This tool is a Voice of Customer that provides an insight on customer's experience, whether it was as per his expectations and anything that was lacking or could have been done better. For most of the companies, CSAT is linked to the performance ratings of the employees and it impacts their annual bonus and increments. Why not CSAT rating impact everyone in the organization as every employee is expected to do his bit that contributes or adds value to customer's experience? Thought to ponder.

With digitization, things have completely changed and the transition phase has emerged. Thanks to the changing technology and other strong factors:

1. Customers have become very demanding and so have their expectations increased with ease of technology. They want to control everything through the click of an app. They don't want to waste their valuable time visiting a Store or a Service Center waiting for their turn unless it is unavoidable. They don't want to call up the Call Center, wait in the queue and then talk to people who behave like robots reading a script and not as human interface.

2. There is whole lot of competition, which has given world numerous options available online as well as offline and that too cost effective ones. While there is a Big Basket for every Grofer. There is OYO rooms for every Make My Trip and Yatra. There is Amazon for every Flipkart and Snapdeal. There is Ola for every Uber. There is Zomato for every Swiggy and Food Panda and the race is endless. There is a Big Bazaar for every Reliance Fresh. There is a Chroma for every Reliance Digital, and there is a Jio for every Vodafone, Idea and Airtel.

3. With VCs and new investors coming from rest of the world, the business landscape has evolved and grown multiple folds adding to everyone's benefit including income.

4. Next is obviously, people's incomes (including disposal incomes) have increased along with the lifestyle. Luxuries have becomes necessities in today's universe.

5. Government policies inviting foreign funds, FDIs, have been favourable for creating a business friendly and investor friendly climate.

6. Start-up Culture, Tech Parks have been a big hit.

7. Mergers and acquisitions have become a norm of the day.

Thus, technology has bombarded our day-to-day life. Daily Routine has been adapted as per the smart phone and what what's app demands. Social media has transformed our life completely. Posts on FB, Twitter, and Instagram are dearer than real life friends.

So, if the personal and professional life has transitioned at such a rapid pace in the new millennium and in the last 10 years to be precise, the customer is justified in demanding excellent customer service with better reachability rates.

Sad but true, we are still missing out on several basic and important things that a customer in digital era will need even though he might be the most tech savvy person on this earth.

1. Most of the product Companies and Service providers are lacking in providing personalized services to every customer customized especially keeping his needs in mind. This is a challenge with hundreds of downloads happening every day for most of the Companies.

2. Deciding on the most suitable and preferred blend of touch points or channels of communications available to a customer 24 by 7. A company just cannot rely on FAQs provided on its app for all its customers. Or running analytics engine might not be sufficient for analysing his behaviour. A mere e-mail survey might not gather complete feedback about customer experience. All channels are equally important at different times and for different reasons and for different customers. A farmer using services might still prefer to visit a Service Centre personally while a person whose internet pack is over might just call up the Call Centre.

3. Even Robotics, Machine learning, Artificial intelligence and Chatbot has limitations and cannot answer everything or replace human interactions. Let's keep that factor in mind. However, in most of the Call Centers, CSEs have a very limited role acting like robots following a script blindly.

4. A help menu inbuilt in an app is a basic necessity but is the organization smart and prompt enough to swiftly engage with the customer on any dissatisfaction or mishappening reported in the app?

5. Is every CSAT survey being looked carefully to arrive at some conclusion? Who takes the ownership and why?

6. Are service commitments still being offered? How often does the Company engage with its customers and to what extent?

7. How about customer education not only about new offers and schemes but also guiding a customer what plan should be appropriate as per his last one year's expenses or usage?

8. Time to stop and think. With Big Data analytics, internet of things, is the company's quality of interactions getting improved or deteriorated? How does the customer satisfaction graph look like? How about the turnaround time for resolving a ticket on their Portal or app?

9. How about collaboration with the customer in making their app more useful and customer friendly? Inviting customer's feedback and suggestions from improvement and not just triggering a request to the customer to follow on FB, Twitter? Ensuring speed, agility, updation of question bank, posting customer ratings + reviews, checking app and portal's feedback and suggestions on regular basis?

10. How about ensuring adherence to code of conduct and ethical dealing with critical pointers being followed as a mandate: no data leakage, privacy breach, sharing of data with the third party?

11. Keeping the Customer Service employees motivated as happy employees will keep customers happy.

12. Challenge of retaining the customer and building loyalty. With a better offer, each day customer switches to a different Service provider.

Examples where services could improve (though their app is user friendly but few requests where customers cannot rely on app alone)

1. Paytm: For completing KYC (Know Your Customer) process, customer has to visit either the nearest store or paytm person visits the customer for fulfilling the process requirements. These guys seems untrained, lacks helpful attitude and professionalism. Company here lacks setting expectations and training its customer service staff.

2. Ola/ Uber: Their app and Call Center is extremely good. However, since they rely on a third party, sometimes, the cab is not clean, the driver talks rudely or does not follow route shown in maps or comes late for pick -up. In such cases, Cab Companies should have extremely stringent audits and regular checks to catch hold of defaulters.

3. Amazon/ Flipkart: They rely on third party courriers for more than 40% of their consignments and these courier persons give false commitments which leads to delays often. And no one takes ownership of such delays or miss outs.

No matter what the channel of communication is, what customer want?

A. Provide Mobile Access That Simplifies Their Tasks. Customers want and need information.

B. Take Responsibility For Your Business And Its Actions. Your employee made a mistake.

C. Communicate A Solution.

D. Provide The Best Service.

In short, give Them What They Really Want That No One Else Offers

By Gaurav Dua

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Sound Advice To Enhance Customer Experience

Have you ever walked into a store and the music blaring through the speakers was so bad you turned around and walked out?

Twice, in recent months, I had my blood pressure taken at a lab inside my doctor's office. I mentioned that the numbers were probably high due to the annoying hard rock music blaring from the tinny-sounding radio. She laughed and said she doesn't even hear it anymore. I mentioned spa-like music might make patients relax, especially the elderly patients waiting in the next room. The next time I went in, the same horrible sounds were coming from the same horrible radio.

For many people, noise is nuisance. It can be a significant source of productivity loss at work - or, if you get it right, you can increase sales by up to 39%. Play music that creates the appropriate ambiance for your customers.

At a local Thai restaurant recently, I noticed a news program was airing through the overhead speakers. The restaurant was playing a local radio station so diners' conversations had to compete with loud commercials. I suggested to the owner that she play traditional Thai music to match the beautiful ambience they had created with the d�cor... she was astounded that anyone would want to listen to it but was genuinely happy with the recommendation.

If you operate a spa with quick services so customers can get a fast manicure or pedicure and be back to work on their lunch hour, you want to have faster, and perhaps louder, music. If it's a relaxing space to unwind, you want ambient sounds to soothe the soul. Think of the tranquil sounds playing in the background as you ignore the daily stresses during a massage.

In-store music can even affect product choice. According to Jordan Stevens, a study conducted in a liquor store, two identical displays of wine were set up. One display carried French wine and another carried German wine. Each display was designed to be identical in every way except for the region the wine was from. The results of the study found that when French music was played, the French wine would outsell the German wine by 77%. When the music was switched to German music, the German wine would outsell the French wine by 73%.

Remember, music needs to fit the brand you want present - and that may not be the type of music you prefer.


Susan Regier, owner of Vantage One Writing, is an in-demand copywriter, marketing strategist, and business breakthrough specialist to serious entrepreneurs who want to have a profitable business they are passionate about. She has the uncanny ability to find the hidden gems in a business that can ignite sales and profits for her clients. Claim your free guide: 15 Tips to Increase Your Influence, Attract More Clients & Make More Money at http://www.SusanRegier.com.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

How To See Customer Objections As An Opportunity

It happens.

You're not going to make 100 percent of the people happy 100 percent of the time.

In my business, when we're faced with a challenging customer, we call it an "opportunity." That's literal by the way.

I've been in business for decades and in sales since I was a kid, and one of the key things that all good salespeople learn is that you want to know principal objections because as you address the complaints, it gets you closer to a yes. But, sometimes you also have to address the issues from a customer that is not satisfied with your company. Again, this is an opportunity.

Customers Want to be Heard

The most critical piece of advice I'm going to share with you in this post is to listen. Listen, listen, listen. I get it. No one wants to be on the other end of a customer complaint and often what happens is that the person hearing the criticism will feel that they have to respond. Perhaps they feel personally attacked because of inexperience, but sometimes that does happen. Maybe they think they have to defend the company because the customer, in their view, is wrong or incorrect with the supposed facts. Or maybe, they want to try to fix the situation quickly and they begin to speak.

Don't speak.

The hardest thing you can do, but the most important, is to train yourself and your team when they are hearing customer complaints to remain quiet. Allow the customer to have the space to express themselves. And, when the inevitable moment of silence arrives, hold back and don't jump right in with a reply. Sometimes a pause in the conversation is because the customer is thinking. You have to give them the space to express themselves, and depending on how upset the customer is, you might have to listen for more than just a minute or two. Wait.

If you train yourself and your team to listen and pause, you'll know when the customer has spoken everything they have to say about the issue. And more often than not, particularly if they are one of those people that gets easily upset, they will have expended the pent-up energy and feel more relaxed. You have to let them get the emotion out before you can begin to address the issue.

The other very important thing that happens when you provide a customer who is not satisfied with your company's service or product is that they will have a sense of appreciation for you because you did what so few people in other companies do--you listened and allowed them the space to express themselves.

How to Engage to Uncover the Facts

Once the customer has fully expressed themselves, you can begin to ask them questions. I tell my team always to ask open-ended questions. You're not looking to prove or disprove anything at this point. All you're doing is listening to uncover the facts, based on how your customer views it--not your team. Remember, people may see the same situation differently, and so it's important to understand how an irate customer views the circumstances of the situation that upset them.

When you're engaging with them at this stage, especially if this is the first time you're learning about this complaint, you should aim to obtain the facts, as they see it. You want to probe and carefully unpack what their experience is with your product or service, and you also want to understand how your team handled it because it can be a teaching opportunity.

Get the Facts and Return

More than likely, you will have to do your internal investigation and then get back to the customer. Generally speaking, your research should happen within the day. If your fact-finding is going to take longer, then make it a point to tell the customer that you will get back to them in (give them an exact number of days). If you don't have a reply to them by then because you're still in the midst of fact-finding, then make it a point to send them an email and apprised.

People want to know that you (or a manager) is dealing with whatever their issue is and they will generally give you the space to understand what occurred. However, to make sure that you keep the customer on your side as you help them with the issue, make it a point to keep them updated. It's one of the best things you can do aside from listening.

A Question for the Resolution

And finally, once you've got all of your facts and as you seek to resolve the matter satisfactorily (even if it costs you a little), ask the customer how they would like to see you address the situation. People like being engaged in the solution and more than likely, a customer will have in their mind what they would like the outcome to be for the matter. If you can satisfy them, you will see that your irate customer will become a happy customer because you handled their challenge to their satisfaction.

If their suggested solution is not something you can do, then consider if there is any way to compromise. Make it a point explain why you can't meet the full extent of how they would like you to address the matter, but strike a compromise if at all possible. In other words, allow them to become your partner in finding a mutually beneficial solution. And, when you and your team approach customer complaints in this manner, you'll discover how a stressful situation can become an opportunity.

By Wayne Elsey

Author of "Not Your Father's Charity: Grip & Rip Leadership for Social Impact" (Free Digital Download available at http://notyourfatherscharity.com/free-resources/ )
� 2018 Wayne Elsey and Not Your Father's Charity. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, December 14, 2018

10 Best Customer Service Companies You Should Learn From

Ask any 'Pretty Woman' fan and they'll gleefully recount that unforgettable scene when Julia Roberts hits Rodeo Drive for a shopping spree. Remember the revenge-bliss scene in the 1990s romantic fantasy?

So it happens that Vivian visits a fancy boutique to buy herself a nice dress where she is spurned by the snooty salespeople. Later, she buys a slew of obscenely expensive outfits and then returns - dressed to the nines and carrying handfuls of shopping bags - to the one boutique that had shunned her.

"You work on commission, right?" she asks a la-di-da saleswoman.

"Uh, yes."

"Big mistake. Big. HUGE!"

"I have to go shopping now," she says, turning on her heels to leave (as we give a collective contented sigh at the appalled look at the salesperson's face. She had it coming!).

Moral of the story? It doesn't matter how deep your customer's pockets are, it only matters how well you treat them. Imagine how different the movie would be if it was made now. What are the chances of Vivian tweeting out her anger and hurt, her tweets going viral with tons of people chipping in their own frustration, the movement gaining momentum and leading the store to a digital suicide?

In a service business, nothing is more important than having people on your team who'll do more than represent your current culture-you must have people who push the culture you have forward, not the other way around.

More often in customer experience, you could get away with doing the bare minimum. That is mostly enough. But enough is far from memorable. It is when you go out of your way that you make people's day!

We've cherry-picked 10 brands that have an unbeatable track when it comes to cultivating their customers' happiness.

Zappos

Did you know that up to 42% of consumers expect a response with 60 minutes? Apparently, a prompt response is the norm, not exception anymore.

If there is a gold standard in customer service, it has got to be Zappos. Their support success stories are the stuff of urban legends. One such instance, they won a customer for life by overnighting a pair of shoes, free of cost, to a best man in need.

On social media, Zappos doesn't hold back from having a little fun with emojis and GIFs, but they always adhere to their golden rule of putting their customers first. And it pays off, each time!

Delta Hotels

Mike McCready, your average Jo, was attending the #PSEWEB conference in Vancouver, when he stayed at Delta hotel. While he liked his room at the Delta, the view was rather ugly and he tweeted that with his followers. He didn't tag the hotel, merely commenting on it, as he didn't think anything would come out of the tweet.

He was in for a pleasant surprise when Delta responded within an hour- offering another room with a better view! And he had a dish of sweets and a handwritten card from the staff awaiting his arrival in his room. Mike was so profoundly impressed that he wrote an entire post about it, the very same day.

Amazon

If happy customers are what you have in mind, then an exuberant customer service team is what you should already have. Let your customer service team have fun. Amazon has an exciting story to tell of what can happen when companies give their teams more freedom in their client communications.

One such instance, when a witty customer service person engaged in a Thor and Odin roleplay with an equally witty customer, to the delight of everyone. ( https://www.thesun.co.uk/archives/news/1133174/now-thats-customer-service-amazon-worker-engages-in-hilarious-thor-roleplay-to-help-replace-customers-lost-book/ This Thor and Odin exchange was legendary. The hilarious communication between an Amazon employee and a customer couldn't go better even if it was scripted!

Now, can you imagine how dry things would have been if the Customer Service was asked to reply only with strictly professional (read stuffy), straightforward answers? More people than you'd think would appreciate humor. Just don't crack jokes at the expense of a pissed off customer.

WestJet

There is nothing more cheerier than surprise gifts (as Westjet proved)! In December 2013, the Canadian airline staged what would become the most stunning example of 'giftvertising' yet.

When Santa Claus greeted each of the passengers boarding the two Westjet flights with "What would you like for Christmas?", they thought it was a just an interesting Xmas celebration. From a warm scarf and clean underwear to holiday tickets and a big tv, their answers ranged from whatever first came to their mind.

In the following year, the number of visits to their websites doubled, with bookings increasing by 77% compared to the same month in 2012 and revenue rising by a whopping 86%!

Slack

Putting out figurative fires is what a customer service company does all day. But doing it gracefully is indeed an art! Sometimes it's when things aren't going perfectly that a company's true colors come out.

As is the case of Slack when they dealt with their app-wide outage like a pro in late November, 2015. For a new company on the block, they have more than their share of passionate customers for whom Slack has become an indispensable part of many teams' work day! That's why when Slack went down ten months ago, users blew up Twitter.

They responded to every complaint on social with speed and humility, and diligently shared regular updates until the issue was resolved, and the app was up and running again!

Salesforce

Transparency can leave a huge impact on the ones who are on the receiving end of it. Salesforce has an excellent customer service, that plays a vital role in making it the customer's favorite.
As they put it, "Success is built on trust.

Trust starts with transparency."

Salesforce is so utterly customer focused and upholds transparency so much so that the company publicly disclose in real time when its cloud services are unavailable or face some reliance issues. Now that takes some nerve!

Apple

The one brand that has inspired the type of customer loyalty which sometimes borders on the maniacal, Apple earned its loyalty through their exemplary customer experience.

"You've got to start with the customer experience and work backward to the technology."

Steve Jobs - Co-founder of Apple

While the Apple products are the very definition of innovation and ease, the real soul of the company is its employees. Apple mitigates the need for reactive customer service with a focus on building intuitive products and providing quality training for users.

Apple staff are highly knowledgeable and committed to passing on that knowledge in an empathetic way. They demonstrate enthusiastic, empathetic, and knowledgeable customer service. The sheer quality of training the staff undergoes make the entire customer experience seamless, and most of all, effortless.

Nordstrom

At a Nordstrom store, a woman lost her diamond from her wedding ring while trying on clothes. She was crawling on the floor under the racks when a store worker noticed her. He asked what was going on, then joined the search.

When they came up empty, he sought two building-services workers to join the search. To everyone's relief, the finally found the shiny diamond on one of the bags of the store's vacuum cleaners.

The video clips that captured this incident was shared proudly with the stakeholders in a meeting when the President of Stores Erik Nordstrom said, introducing his three employees who went out of their way to help the customer. "I've never been through a vacuum-cleaner bag. It's kind of disgusting, this raises the bar," he said!

Southwest Air

Southwest is not among the most well-known airlines in the U.S. for nothing. They have the most amazing personality as is evident from what they have to say about themselves on their website.

"We like to think of ourselves as a Customer Service company that happens to fly airplanes (on schedule, with personality and perks along the way)."

One of their memorable support stories is as follows: when a woman athlete landed at the airport but her running gear didn't show up, she was understandably distressed about the relay race that was soon to happen. She resolved to go to Walmart to buy herself a replacement before a Southwest team member drove 3 hours to deliver the bag to her so that she could continue with her team and go on with the race.

As is evident here, their dedication to customer service is simply a class apart!

JetBlue

Who, but JetBlue has an exclusive Customer Bill of Rights?

"JetBlue Airways is dedicated to bringing humanity back to air travel. We strive to make every part of your experience as simple and as pleasant as possible." They ensure that their service is thoroughly human, especially on social, responding within minutes, guiding customers throughout, and responding with emojis and GIFs to any questions customers might have.

They have no qualms whatsoever when it comes to delivering personal service. One time, when the customer's flight was delayed and it seemed like she was going to miss her second flight too, the manager booked her another flight home that took off from another airport and made the effort to drive her to another airport so she would make her flight on time.

It only takes a handful of disastrous customer experiences to shatter the credibility that took your brand decades to built. It pays to be long-term greedy and leave no stones unturned to ensure a supreme customer service.

Want to find your company on this list? There are no shortcuts save putting your customers in the center of everything you do. You need to know what they desire to offer them exactly that. And how do you do that?

By asking them, of course. Customer feedback surveys and market research surveys will give you precious insights on what your customers are expecting of you. Craft highly engaging that your customers would enjoy filling up.

SurveySparrow ( https://surveysparrow.com/ ) lets you do exactly that. Our all-new conversational surveys will give you up to 40% higher survey response rates. While we are at it, we also have an extensive collection of templates to make the job easier for you. Sign up for your free 14 day trial now!



Monday, December 10, 2018

7 Tech Trends To Add To Your Small Business Startup To Attract An Angel Investor

Angel investment is on the rise,and your small business startup needs to capitalize on all the opportunities at hand. Venture capitalists are on the hunt for business startups to invest in that are currently at the cutting edge of technology and taking risks with these advancements trends. You find that investors are eager to sink their investment dollars in these technologies so that they can reap the future returns. While the payoff might be big for an angel investor, these tech trends will also help your business startup to attract those funding dollars.

Artificial Intelligence

AI is not new to the scene, but for 2018, it is making a significant headway. By allowing companies to do more with less, AI will turn out to be a fundamental change in the way a company does business today and tomorrow. Startups that integrate AI into the fold will experience a shift in how they are able to perform routine tasks, freeing them up to focus on their customers. Angel investors see this as a win-win as they are able to invest in an advancing technology as well as a startup that is leading the way with its use. Your business startup will do well by having AI as a part of your repertoire and see more funding interest come your way in 2018.

Social Media

The uses of social media to enhance your consumer game is a boon for investors looking to find business startups that are succeeding in their customer engagement. While social media isn't a newcomer technology, those that have a strong endgame will win big in terms of revenue sales. Social media is proving to be the technology platform that links us all together and gives business startups the recognition they need early on. Venture capitalists are enamored with its use by business startup as they see the power it offers and the benefits a business startup can take advantage of. Using social media to boost your business in 2018 will be key to gaining funding from an investor as they recognize the strengths it offers to your consumers.

Blockchain

Blockchain is another technology on the fringe waiting to bust on to the scene in a fury in 2018. It's ability to provide a real-time ledger of transactions can give your business startup the transparency it needs to garner the nod of a venture capitalist waiting in the wings. Your business startup will benefit from Blockchain's ability provide stable and error-free operations while angel investors gain by investing in a technology that has proven its worth. You'll see funding offers from a series of investors if your business startup utilizes Blockchain to its full advantage within your organization.

Internet of Things

The Internet of Things is advancing at a steady clip for the New Year, and you'll see IoT virtually everywhere you look. With consumers becoming more connected than ever, IoT offers an opportunity for new products and services that enhance IoT's capabilities in the home, business, and community. Angel investors are savvy to the draw of IoT and how it is changing the way consumers interact and live their lives. They want to get in with business startups that are using this technology to move their business forward, engage with consumers, and improve their business operations. Count on IoT as a way to entice venture capitalists and secure funding in 2018.

Big Data

Data is everywhere these days, and it will only get bigger this coming year. Business startups such as yours will be able to use big data to understand every aspect, detail, and nuance of your customers, so you can create products and services they desire. With big data changing the way that business startups engage with their clients and provide unique customer experiences, it means plenty of evolution is on the horizon. Angel investors are keen on the possibilities all this available data can provide and know that companies that take advantage of the information can lead their industry in leaps and bounds. Use big data to enhance your business startup operations and stay tuned for venture capitalists to come calling with much interest and fanfare about your company this year.

Cyber-Security

While 2017 was a year that many will remember for its security breaches, this year provides a turn of events as business startup integrate or offer cybersecurity services to better protect their customer data. This cybersecurity will change how companies in all sectors operate and provide the level of security that is needed to protect that confidential information from getting into the wrong hands. Business startups that use cyber-security to protect their company or create products and services for others that help them secure their information will do well in the following year. Angel investors will show interest in these endeavors as the need for secure data protocol is growing without hesitation.

Virtual Reality

Also, on the fringe in 2018 is VR. This technology gives you the ability to engage with your customers in a new and exciting way. Through a more desirable customer experience, VR can help your business to increase its customer numbers as well as its revenue as VR improves workflow and access to customers all over your niche. Angel investors want in on AR as an investment opportunity, and your business startup will attract their attention now and into future with this technology at your helm.

Integrating any of these technologies in your business startup shows a strong sense of understanding and initiative to increase your customer base and profits this year and the coming year. Angel investors want to be able to get their hands wet with these new technologies so that they can be where the growth is with these trends. Think about how these technologies can help your business startup succeed in 2018 and secure the funding you need to get off the ground. You'll be surprised at how much attention you receive by taking the first step with any of these technology trends and reap the rewards of investment into your company by an investor.

More detailed information and useful advice can be found at http://www.Funded.com

By Pierre Jean-Claude

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The Challenges You Must Overcome To Turn Your Small Business Into A Big Business

You might have a small business today, but you don't want that label for the life of your business. When entrepreneurs make endeavors, they are looking to create a business that will rule the world one day. However, every business has to face some struggles in the beginning that it must overcome to become a big business. The way you handle these challenges decides the fate of your small business. Today, you will read about these challenges and the solutions to them, so if you are a small business, you can set the foundation for its success.

Knowing the Target Market

One of the biggest issues with most small businesses is that they don't know their exact target market. Sometimes, they don't know how to narrow down to the target market. This is a huge issue because you could have a perfect product, but you might pitch it to the people who don't need it. Keep in mind that people who don't need your product won't buy it even if you try to give it to them for free. On the other hand, people who need your product will be willing to buy it even if it is priced high. For your business to survive, it needs to start selling as quickly as possible, and that's why it is important to find your target market before launching your product.

Solution

The first step of identifying your target market is to know your product well enough. You have to ask yourself some important questions about the product and write the answers down. For example, you have to ask yourself "what existing problem does my product solve?" You also have to know if there are any other solutions available in the market for the same problem. If yes then you have to see how your product is better than them or how you can make it better. Conduct surveys on the street and social media to know the personas of the best buyers of your product.

The Right Type of Marketing

Businesses, small and big, have huge parts of their budgets allocated only for marketing purposes. However, the modern technological advancements have proven that a big marketing budget does not translate to successful marketing. So, you might have done a great job in identifying your target market, but if you approach them in the wrong way or through the wrong channel, you will not be able to reap any benefits from even the most potential market for your product or service.

Solution

Identifying your target market should help you identify your marketing methods and channels too. For example, if your product is for people aged over 50, you would not want to make Instagram the prioritized marketing channel because only 18% of the users on Instagram are aged above 50. Similarly, any product that targets executives, marketing officers and professional people should be promoted on LinkedIn before any other platform. After knowing the buyer personas, you should also select the type of marketing that best suits your potential audience. If you are creating a hip-hop music video for marketing to retired individuals or an opera video for 18-year olds, you are doing it wrong. Use website analytical tools to know what appeals or does not appeal to your website, visitors. Base your digital marketing campaigns on data-this is the era of data-driven marketing.

The Funding Problem

If there were no funding problem, every person who thinks of a unique idea would have a business. In the real world, funding is always a problem, and it is exactly the point where the journey ends for many aspiring people in business. However, it is not always the lack of funds that kill many small businesses before they even start. In fact, the important part is how much dedication you show in arranging those funds. Sometimes, people have the options available, but they do not knock on all the doors.

Solution 

First, you have to know all the options you have available for arranging the funds. If you are not okay with arranging funds through the bank or in the form of a loan, take a look around at your family and relatives. You will be surprised to know how many of the people in your circle will be ready not only to give you the investment you need but become a part of the endeavor. The crowdfunding options are also there. You don't even have to go to the investors personally today as you can visit a platform like funded.com and arrange funds online.

The Right Leadership

You can't make a business successful unless you have the right leader in place. It is not completely untrue that the attitude of the leader sets the attitude of the rest of the employees at a company. If you lack confidence in your leadership, you will end up hiring people who lack confidence in themselves. One of the biggest problems with most small business owners is that they can't convince themselves to delegate responsibilities. They believe in their skill so much that their mind never accepts that someone else can handle the responsibilities too. They end up taking the responsibility of everything on their shoulders and mismanaging things at the end of the day.

Solution

The first thing that needs to be fixed here is how you think. If you find it hard to delegate responsibilities, get rid of this habit as soon as possible. You can't handle everything as the business grows and so you have to create a team right from day one. Do not hire people just because they can do the job-hire people who share the same vision as you. Do not settle for good employees because finding the best ones is taking time. Do not try to take matters into your hands all the times. Listen to everyone that's part of the team and the decision making process. Have a great relationship with your employees.

Setting the Price

One of the most difficult decisions for a small business owner is to set the price of its service or product. When you are a small business, you can't afford to have a full-fledged marketing department. Of course, when you have a marketing department, they can set the price of your products, but when there is no marketing department, you are the one to take this decision. Price your solutions too low, and you might not make any profit at all. Price your solution too high, and customers might never buy your product.

Solution

It will be tremendously helpful in this scenario to take a look at your competitors and how they have priced their products. Secondly, you have to know a simple rule to set the prices of your products and services. You first set the price to cover your costs. Once you have started covering your costs, you set the price to cover the costs and make a profit. Once you have done that successfully, you start adding your "value" to the price. You should also know the buying power of your target market so you can keep the price within their comfort zone.

These points cover pretty much every big challenge that a small business comes across. Keep in mind that some of the challenges might be exclusive to your business and industry too, but if you can overcome these common challenges, you can cover the industry-specific difficulties as well.

More detailed information and useful advice can be found at http://www.Funded.com

By Pierre Jean-Claude