Tag: customer

Why is signage important to your customer experience?

Why is signage important to your customer experience?

As I am sitting here at my favorite coffee shop. I enjoy the quiet, but I can’t help but notice when people use the restroom because they never know how to get in. 

People will stand there giggling the handle, waiting patiently, or knocking. Since I am a nice guy, I tell them, “you need to get a key from the counter.” I am usually sitting there getting work done; this process can be disturbing. I ask myself every time, why don’t they just put up a sign? 

Adding a sign that says, “Please get the bathroom key from the front counter,” could elevate this minor problem. My point is that signage is your passive communication tool for getting your clients/customers to do the things you want. 

Think about your sign on the door; it is designed to catch a person’s eye to entice them to walk in. The menu on the wall is to explain what options are available. Every single sign is about creating an ideal behavior. With all this in mind, here are a few tips on making and using effective signage in your business.

 

Tip 1: Design Your Sign to Convey A Clear Direction

 

A good sign tells a person where, when, and how to do a specific behavior. Therefore, it is essential to think of your signs as a sequence of physical actions—a step-by-step experience. You need to consider the person who will follow these directions, who they are, and what problem they have? 

 

Tip 2: Does Your Sign Tell Your Story 

What is your business identity? Why do you exist? What problems do you solve? A great sign can convey these messages. For example, take Royal Caribian Cruises. A few years ago, they rolled out their Live, Love, Cruise Campaign. It was to transition their brand from cruise vacation into a lifestyle.

 

If you walk around their ships, they have artwork, decals, and signage just to share and reinforce their beliefs. So when you think about your own location, consider what beliefs will support your companies identity.

Tip 3: Know Your Desired Customer Behaviour

 

Make sure you take the time to map out the action that is important to a successful customer experience. This may take the form of walking through your experience as your customer or creating a process map. It doesn’t matter but make sure you get into the head of your customers. 

 

Tip 4: Talk with a professional about all the above elements

 

Take your time to find a company that will understand your brand and the experience you want to create. Then, they will add their expertise to design signage that does all your desired outcomes and more.

A quick suggestion is to talk with my friends at Spark Signs and Graphics; they get that a sign is more than a sign. It is a visual story ready to be told. Here is what owner Alex Maurer has to say 

 

“When working with clients, we set out to understand their business and what challenges they are trying to solve. As an example, effective directional signage within a building – whether it is a corporate environment or a church – can make a visitors’ experience so much more positive when they get from point A to point B in an efficient and easy way.”

 

As you seek to create the best experience for your customers and yourself, make sure to consider these 4 tips. If you want additional help creating a business that thrives and generate the lifestyle you deserve, consider taking a test drive and see what our profit acceleration can do for your business.

 

Remember, the best time to change was yesterday, so you better start changing today.

8 reasons your business is not growing, and it has nothing to do with sales, revenue, or profit

8 reasons your business is not growing, and it has nothing to do with sales, revenue, or profit

There are 30.2 million small businesses in the US, accounting for 99.9% of all businesses in the country. Even though they account for 99% of all business;

  • They employee less than half of the American workforce
  • The average annual business revenue is $46,978 
  • 86.3% of small business owners make less than $100,000 a year in income

It begs the question; what is holding back your small businesses from reaching its full potential and becoming multi-million dollar businesses. This series will discuss 8 reasons why your business may not be growing and the action you can take to fix it. Today we will discuss numbers one and two.

  1. Cash Flow
  2. Dependent Model 
  3. Supporting Relationships (Trust) 
  4. Waste/inefficiency
  5. Leverage 
  6. Lack of curiosity 
  7. Vision with a plan 
  8. A mirror 

Cash Flow

Cash flow is considered by many to number one business killer. There is a saying cash is king when it comes to your business; there is no more accurate statement. For those that don’t know this term:

 

The term cash flow refers to the net amount of cash and cash equivalents being transferred in and out of a company. Cash received represents inflows, while money spent represents outflows. A company’s ability to create value for shareholders is fundamentally determined by its ability to generate positive cash flows or, more specifically, to maximize long-term free cash flow (FCF). FCF is the cash generated by a company from its normal business operations after subtracting any money spent on capital expenditures (CapEx). (definition provided by Investopedia)

 

So how do companies get into cash flow trouble? 

  • Accounts receivable; you have provided service but have yet to receive the cash. Again, this usually comes down to your payment terms and your ability to collect whenever possible try to get full payment before or at least at the time of completion. 
  • Paying Bill First; we all hate owing people, but many businesses do not take advantage of the same payment terms. For example, if someone offers you net 30, 60 payment terms, take advantage of them and wait until the last opportunity to complete payment without accruing penalty. Also, consider renegotiating for a more favorable term.

There are many other ways to develop cash flow problems, but these are two of the biggest. Please take the time to review your cash flow statement & balance sheet see how your cash flow looks. Then, consider setting goals to improve your cash flow as a tool to increase the value of your company.

 

Dependent Model

Now that you have begun to conquer cash flow, the next step will be to make an independent business model. But, of course, you’re probably asking yourself what the hell does that means?

It means creating a business model that does not rely on you as the owner to push the buttons, pull the levers, provide the basic service. It is the philosophy of shifting from working in the business to working on the business. 

There are several reasons why owners struggle to make this transition; we will discuss a few today but remember there are many more, and it is up to create time to do the work and discover your cause and correct it. Today we will discuss the sphere of control.

This is a big one for most owners. At some point, you will get to the place where you can’t be everywhere at once and can’t interface with every client. This can be very tough because this usually means you need to hire middle management. It requires a different set of skills than the ones you have hired before but usually comes with a dip in profit. So what can you do about it?

The first step is to get organized and answer these two questions:

 

What do I need them to do?

Where is the information they need to get the job done stored?

 

Simply put, to create a stable sphere of control, you need to have a documented process with clear expectations, responsibilities, and most importantly, the information to be successful. The standard term for this is SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures).

Creating your companies SOP’s or engaging these new hires in creating the first version can significantly reduce the mistakes, miscommunication, and headaches that occur.

I hope you have begun to see your opportunities to improve your business. As always, our fractional COO’s are here to help with these and all of your other operational challenges. Thanks for reading, and remember the best time change was yesterday, so you better change today. 

39 Tried and True Lessons to Put Your Word-of-Mouth to Work

39 Tried and True Lessons to Put Your Word-of-Mouth to Work

In the last post, we talked about conducting word-of-mouth research and then putting that research to work. Today we’re going to give you 39 great tried and true ways to use word-of-mouth when building and executing your campaign.

We’ve done it in a list form, so you can go through and highlight the ones you want to put into action. For more information read George Silverman’s “The Secrets of Word of Mouth Marketing”.

Here they are:

  1. Give them something worth talking about
  2. Cater to your initial customers shamelessly
  3. Give them incentives to engage in word of mouth
  4. Ask them to tell their friends
  5. The customer is always right
  6. Always tell the truth
  7. Surprise the customers by giving them a little more than they expected 
  8. Give them a reason to buy, make them come back, and refuse service from anyone else other than you
  9. Make eye contact, and smile, even through the telephone
  10. Find ways to make doing business with you a little better: a warmer greeting, a cleaner floor, nicer lighting, a better shopping bag, extra matches, faster service, free delivery, lower prices, more selection.
  11. Never be annoyed when a customer asks you to change a large bill even if he doesn’t buy anything.
  12. The customer is your reason for being. Never take her for granted. If you do, she will never come back and will go straight to your competition.
  13. Always dust off items, but never let the customer see you doing it.
  14. Never embarrass a customer, especially by making him feel ignorant.
  15. Never answer a question coming from a desire to show how smart you are. Answer with a desire to help the customer make the best decision.
  16. Never shout across the store, “How much are these condoms?” or anything about the personal items a customer is buying.
  17. When you don’t know, say so. Do whatever you can to find out the answer.
  18. Every customer is special. Try to remember their names.
  19. Don’t allow known shoplifters into the store.
  20. Don’t ever let two sales staff talk when a customer is waiting. The worst thing you can do is count your cash while a customer is waiting.
  21. If you can suggest something better, they will be grateful. Always respect their choice.
  22. Never pressure anyone into buying anything.
  23. Never knowingly give bad advice. Just help people come to the right decision.
  24. Personally visit the store of the competition or assign people to visit and report back to you.
  25. Hire a shopping service to prepare periodic reports on how your people are treating your customers.
  26. If you hear of a store where the management is insulting the customers, buy it, then put up the sign “Under New Management” outside. Then sell it later based on the increased sales.
  27. One expert (in the drugstore’s case, a nurse or physician) who is convinced you are better brings hundreds of customers and their friends through word of mouth.
  28. Always look for ways to make a stranger a customer.
  29. People will walk several blocks to save a dollar, or see a smile, or be treated right.
  30. Always run a sale promotion or an offbeat event. Make them come back to see what you are cooking up next.
  31. Use the best sign-maker you can find and pay him more than anybody else.
  32. If someone is mad at you, they will tell everyone who will listen for as long as they are angry, maybe even longer. So correct any dissatisfaction, and ask customers to send their friends.
  33. Treat your employees and salespeople who sell to you the same way you treat your customers.
  34. Have a zero-error system. There may be terrible consequences for example if a mistake is made filling a prescription. Have people check each other’s work for safety.
  35. Occasionally make intentional mistakes to see if people are checking.
  36. Always measure your performance.
  37. Always ask a customer to “come back soon.”
  38. If customers say they are moving away, offer to send them their favorite items by mail.
  39. Tell jokes.

 

I know your looking at this exhaustive list and asking yourself how can I implement these lessons. We’re going to wrap up this lesson to give you a chance to digest, prioritize, and plan. To aid you with this here is a little homework assignment.

Go through the list again, find 1 or 2 lessons that fit your company and that you feel you can implement. Then I want you to write down we business activities the lessons are relevant to. Next, write down a no more than 5 step process to implement those lessons into that business activity. This will provide you with a quick action plan.

If you need help with this process, feel free to email me at doogie@ideasactionsuccess.com and I will review it and provide you with feedback. 

Remember the best time to change was yesterday, so you better start today.

Decoding Word-Of-Mouth Messages

Decoding Word-Of-Mouth Messages

Title Photo

Today’s lesson will talk about how word of mouth messages are delivered and how you can influence those messages.

There is a simple hierarchy of how to make WOM most effective

  1. Be an expert talking to an expert
  2. Get that expert talking to ICA (Ideal Client Avatar)
  3. Then get the ICA to talk with other ICA’s

 

When experts talk about your products or service, you will usually receive an amazing rush of sales and new customers, so obviously, this is one of the best things that can happen. However, you can also help facilitate this by offering free products to experts to review.

Expert opinion can also bring about new ideas that help to fuel new products, services, and operating systems within your company. If you take the time to change or develop the opinions of even a small group of experts, you will have the opportunity to help your market explode.

There is a standard word-of-mouth delivery system that, in most cases, takes a few years. But, you can speed this up into only a few weeks. The traditional approach is:

  • First impressions from an expert
  • Organized trial of your products or services
  • Pooling peer experiences

 

It’s important to know exactly who is advocating for your products and service. Take the time to find out who they are and reward them. While you may already have a customer service system for filing complaints, do you have one for compiling praise? Most likely not. If you take the time to show these people appreciation, they will help take your products and services to the top. 

Some of the ways you can show them appreciation are:

 

  • Invite them to a customer appreciation dinner
  • Offer to videotape their testimonials
  • Ask to interview them for feedback to improve with
  • Offer them a premier customer membership
  • Ask them to join a referral incentive program

 

There are lots of things you can offer your biggest fans to help spread the word about your products and services. 

Conventional media has been around forever, and while it can still be effective, it’s lost a little of its luster over the last few years. There are a few reasons for this:

  • Expensive and doesn’t necessarily return results
  • Boring, lacking something fresh and new
  • Too short of a time slot to offer enough information

 

While these are all true, there are ways you can make conventional media work for you. For the information to be effective, it needs to be presented in the right sequence, come from the right sources, be relevant to the target customer, be credible, and be delivered at the right time in the medium. 

We’re going to switch gears a little and talk about the two phases of the product adoption cycle. Traditional media is great for taking you through the information stage, where you can offer the information you need to your potential customers. Still, it’s not so great for measuring the results of those efforts. 

Without these results, you can’t fine-tune your marketing and, therefore, can easily miss the boat and lose potential customers and waste a whole lot of money. Once a consumer has the information they need, they’ll go through a verification process as they analyze whether or not the purchase was a good one. They generally get their information through:

  • Direct experience with the product
  • Interaction with peers using the same product
  • Experts’ experience
  • Scientific journals and other resources
  • Independent reviews and opinions

 

You can accelerate this process by:

 

  • Providing your own demos and free trials
  • Offer them indirect experience through the experience of others
  • Offer a good, true story that can be passed around 

Once you have the ability and can work through these concepts, you will be able to target your customers much better. If you need help with any of this along the way, try our FREE test drive to gain access to our experienced business coaches.

9 Levels of Word of Mouth

9 Levels of Word of Mouth

Last time we talked about the second part of word-of-mouth tactics which help you put together a system to help shorten your customers’ purchasing decision time, which can increase your profits immensely.

Today is not so much of a blog but a tool to evaluate where your word of mouth stands and how it affects your business. We’re going to talk about the nine levels of word-of-mouth which gives you a scale to measure the word-of-mouth circulating around your company, products, and services. You can then see where you are getting negative or weak word of mouth and find ways to correct it.

So, launching into the nine levels of word-of-mouth, it should seem relatively obvious that the negative levels are, well, negative, and the positive levels are positive. 

Word of Mouth Scale

Minus 4-Death Blow

This is the worst of the worst and means your product or service is creating a scandal. Remember when the popular over-the-counter pain relievers, like Tylenol, were deemed unsafe? Yea, you won’t want that kind of word of mouth.

If this is where you are, it is most likely a death blow for your business and you have most likely done something very wrong. 

Minus 3-Karen is Out for Blood

Disgruntled customers are going out of their way to convince other consumers from purchasing your products and services. They are boycotting you. 

They are actively making a seen, leaving bad reviews, making their tik toks. In some respect, this can be the worst place to be. Karen does not allow you to have a minute to respond and fix the problem. 

Minus 2-Unacceptable and Unhappy

While not outwardly boycotting, when customers are asked about you, they will give a negative response. They will take the time to leave a Yelp or Google review and most likely leave it at that. 

Minus 1-Solvable 

At this level, people are mildly dissatisfied, and while not outwardly talking about it, they will have an opinion if asked. Now they may purchase from you despite their negative feelings; this can be a little confusing. 

These people may stick with you because it is easy or the pain is not enough to change. It is important to spend time giving them a better experience.

Level 0-Neutral 

This is sort of a neutral place to be. Customers are using your products, but don’t really talk about it. People rarely ask them about it, so they aren’t sharing their opinion with others. This can be a slippery slope because you don’t want to turn that neutral experience into a negative one. You should work to make it a positive one.

Plus 1-Satisfied 

At this level, we are finally starting to work our way into the positive word-of-mouth about your company, products, and services. Plus 1 signifies that people are generally pleased with your products, but unless asked, don’t really say anything about them.

Plus 2-Tip of the Tong Solution

When asked, your customers will talk about how much they love your products or service. They will be a person who says something like, “o I use …” or “consider trying …”. These people need to be prompted but once they have been you’re their go-to.

They may give a review but most likely need to be prompted before they will do it.

Plus 3-Have You Heard About

Customers will go out of their way to talk about your products, services, company, and shopping experience with you. This is most evident when you see how people recommend movies to their friends and family.

These people will leave an unprompted review and 5-star score. These tend to be your 7-9 net promoter scores.

Plus 4- Champion

Your product is the toast of the town. There is an obvious buzz going around, and your business is the place to be. People are not only talking about your great products and services, but they are talking about their shopping experience, your customer service, and how they perceive the company to help them in the future.

These are the people who do not only leave a review but also go out of their way to make a social media post. These are your 9-10 net promoter scores. 

Some great examples of Plus 4 companies are:

  • Lexus
  • Harley Davidson
  • Lululemon 
  • Tesla
  • Apple
  • Costco

 

We’re going to leave this lesson for you to mull over and take a look at what kind of word of mouth you are generating. If you need help with this process, try our FREE test drive to get help from our experienced business coaches.

Next ti, we will talk about the 30 ways to harness the power of word of mouth.

Get People to Talk About You The Way You Want

Get People to Talk About You The Way You Want

In the last post, we started our series on word of mouth and talked about making your customers purchasing experience a short, easy one. We are going to continue with that theme a bit today. We will talk about the power of word of mouth and how to mold it to your advantage.

The reality is everyone needs an advisor to guide them to make a decision. We rely on the expertise of others to make the right decisions as they are explained to us. When you take the time to understand exactly what and how word of mouth works, you’ll see all the great advantages it has to offer you. Remember this path when working to understand word of mouth:

  • Accelerate the decision-making process for increased profits.
  • You can accelerate product-making decisions by making the process easier. For example, try delivering on your word-of-mouth promises instead of low-ball advertising and the used car salesman approach.

Traditional advertising draws about one response for every thousand ads, and most of those are to ask for more information before the customer even considers purchasing. When you get information from a friend, you are more likely to take their word for it and act. On average, customers purchase two out of every five recommendations their friends make. That’s a HUGE difference.

So, what exactly is word of mouth? We know how powerful it can be, but to define it: Word of mouth is a communication between a customer and a potential customer. There is usually a relationship of some kind between these two people with an established level of trust. 

Now, compare this to advertising where you are providing a message to a potential customer who has not established a relationship with you or level of trust. Who are they more likely to take advice from? The answer is clear!
We talked above about the benefits of word of mouth now; let’s take a look at some reasons why it works. Some of these are:

  • The information is custom-tailored to the potential customer because of the friendly relationship of the referrer.
  • It’s more personal, relevant, and believable.
  • It’s customer-driven.
  • It’s self-generating and can take on a life of its own, especially with the information age of the Internet.
  • It becomes part of the product’s description.
  • The source of word of mouth can be meaningful and more effective when coming from an expert.
  • Word of mouth saves you time and money. 

To fully utilize word of mouth, you need to understand:

  1. Where is your word of mouth coming from?
  2. What products or services are being affected by word of mouth?
  3. How is your word of mouth traveling?

Once you know these things, you can work out a plan to trigger more word of mouth. This wraps up this lesson on word of mouth. If you need help understanding word of mouth and how it can impact your business, try our FREE test drive to access our wealth of resources and tools.

Next time we’re going to dive into the nine levels of word of mouth. These levels help you understand which word of mouth is positive and which is not.

Mom’s make the best customer service, experts

Mom’s make the best customer service, experts

The power of moms

My mother has taught me a lot over the years, but two key lessons that pertain to customer service are consistency and the Rule of 1%. In the last post, I shared my experience with STX and the lack of consistency and systems within their customer service experience. My mother’s lessons will ensure you do not make the same mistakes.

Your customer experience must be predictable and measured. You need to leave your clients, vendors, customers, and staff; feeling heard and cared for. The key to any customer experience is what do you want them to experience. Experience is a set of events and feelings. As you go about creating your customer service systems, keep this in mind. 

Be as my mother; she wanted to do what is best for me but rarely gave into everything I wanted. She listened to what I had to say even when I was wrong, acknowledged my feelings, and redirects me to the path of least resistance. She treated me the same every time, and I found comfort in knowing that. Everyone once in a while, she surprised me with something I never expected.

If you want to take your satisfied customers to Raving Fan status, you have to go above and beyond the average customer service experience. The key to any great customer service experience is consistency. 

There are three ways to develop consistency:

Limiting customer service options and. 

It is easy to give customers what they want. However, this can cause us to drift from our vision of how we want our customers to feel. Instead, stay true to your vision and offer one or two solid customer service techniques that will set you apart from the competition. 

Make sure the techniques you chose do not feel like a burden. To be honest, your goals are to address the customers feeling and before their problems. 

Start by fine-tuning your current systems before you can add anything to the mix. 

  • Think about how I want them to feel, and am I currently getting them to feel that way. 
  • What action am my staff or I taking to get them to feel that way?

There’s nothing worse than launching a new program when you haven’t even worked out the kinks of an old system. 

Put solid systems into place.

Once you know what you’re going to offer, you need to have a system in place to execute it flawlessly every time. This system needs to consist of the right people in the right roles and responsibilities and technology that guarantees a positive experience every time. Emphasis needs to be placed on the results, which ultimately is the satisfaction of the customer.

To get the best results to think about how you empower your staff to make decisions. If they have to go through a supervisor or you before they can approve a refund or replacement, what is the point? Your system needs to have the least number of steps possiable. Remember, your customer is already in a higher state of agitation, and your first job is to lower the feeling.

Good coaching is the key.

When creating excellent training, you need to remember it is not about the outcomes. It is about teaching your staff how to shift the emotional state of customers to create an optimal resolution for both them and the company. It is about the tools they have at their disposal and how information needs to be shifted through your organization. 

The final piece to consider is your process for continually enhancing your staff skills. Your goal is to train them to be confident that they are the empowered expert who can solve your client’s issues.

Small steps lead to great results.

You may be looking at what currently doing and saying, “shit, I have a lot of work to do.” That is okay let the Rule of 1% be your guide to implementing the change in your business.

The Rule of 1% is simply defined as adding to your customer service one percent at a time. Before you can do this, you must have your consistency perfected, or it will never work. This one percent may seem small, but if you approach the vision for your company with baby steps, you will find a massive increase over a solid chunk of time. It’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon.

Avoid doing too much at once, or you’ll set yourself up for failure. Think of the confidence you and your employees will have when you improve one percent each week. By the end of a year, you’ll have improved more than 50%!

While rules and standards are necessary for growth, always be flexible with your best customers. Most retailers only allow a set number of items into a dressing room to reduce the risk of shoplifting, but it generally restricts the large percentage of people who are not stealing from you. Flexibility is the key to what you deliver to your customers, and consistency is the key to how you provide it.

The bottom line is customers rely on you to deliver what you promise. If you spend too much on bulky advertising that promises more than you can deliver, even your best intentions will unravel quickly, and you will fail.

Focus on your vision and baby steps to turn your satisfied customers into Raving Fans.

I hope you’ve learned a lot about good customer service and how it’s essential to your overall success. If you need help with any of the steps we’ve gone through over the last four lessons, please feel free to connect.

In upcoming posts, we’re going to explore strategies of bagging the big clients and keeping them.

Customer Service Secrets

Customer Service Secrets

Attract client to post about customer service

Shhh... I Have a Secret

You can create a great customer service system for your business in 3 easy steps.

Customer service is a pretty hot topic and can make or break your business. Consumers have little patience for lousy customer service and quickly get tired of waiting in long lines, trying to get a live person on the line, going through an interrogation to return something, or trying to communicate through a language barrier. 

If you provide them with a simple, efficient, pleasant experience, they will revisit your business over and over. More importantly, your clients will tell everyone they know! 

There are three secrets to good customer service; the first one we’re going to conquer is knowing exactly what YOU want.

You are the captain of the ship and the visionary for your business’s future, so you need to have a clearly defined plan for your business, including customer service. There are three main goals you need to consider:

  • Understand Your Road Blocks
    • It needs to be easy for your customers to do business with you. You can do this with advertised discounts, kiosks, your website, and other technology-based programs to help them shop. No matter what medium you chose, make sure you understand all of the steps your asking your client to do. Then make sure you can make them as easy as possible.

 

  • Your Experience Needs to be Like Talking with Mom
    • Doing business with you needs to be a warm and pleasant experience. Your staff has to be knowledgeable, approachable, warm, and patient. Your customers need to feel like they are getting good value for their time and money. Perceived value goes beyond the price of the products and extends to their shopping experience.

 

  • A Penny Wise a Dollar Foolish
    • Change your mindset and ask yourself, “How can I NOT afford to do these things?” This shouldn’t be a question of expenses, but making and keep happy customers. It is always essential to think about customer lifetime value when dealing with complaints, refunds, replacements, etc. Think a penny today is a dollar tomorrow.

With these thoughts in mind, you also need to consider a few things when deciding on the actual programs and standards you’ll put into place.

  • Share your customer service vision with the rest of your staff. 
  • Empower your staff to make decisions at the moment.
  • Connect your incentive programs and bonuses directly to customer service.
  • Monitor the level of customer service your staff is putting out.
  • Set a time to review and improve your customer experience regularly.
  • Know when you can ignore what your customers want.
  • Continuously focus on your goals.

 

Now that you know what you want, you can start thinking about meeting those wants and creating a positive customer service experience.

If you’re having a hard time deciding on what you want, the tools, resources, and coaches in our GUIDED TOUR can help you define your company’s wants and needs in relation to customer service.