I recently visited a highway-side diner with my family. It’s as close to our home as the local chain hamburger restaurant. I always pay more at the diner for my burger and fries, but why do I choose greater cost over a more economic option that comes with toys for the kids.

 

Besides a really great burger, what I’ve come to expect from this diner is customer service that is not only consistent, but consistently excellent. Whenever I go in there I feel welcomed, that they value my business and I’m willing to pay more for it. What surprises me is that besides the welcoming environment and the pleasant manner of the staff is that they always try to down-sell me. Suggesting alternatives to what I order to save me money, and leave us with less left-over food at the end of the meal.

 

The experience I have with this diner can easily be translated into any business model. Fantastic customer service turns into:

 

  • Repeat visits – We all know that new clients are great, but it’s much easier to keep the clients you have, versus going out there and getting new clients.
  • Word of Mouth Advertising – The value speaks for itself. Really, what better form of advertising is there?  When they down-sell me, I am quick to pass that information along to my friends, so at that moment, it may have cost them one order of fries, but they gained an order from a family of four.

 

Remember your client, try to go the extra length to save them money, go above their expectations, and leave them with the feeling that their business is valued.

 

When I think about customer service, I am reminded of this quote by Maya Angelou:

 

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did,

but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

While doing research for a client in order to boost their client retention, I have really learned a few things. I thought it would make for a great blog post to help others as well as remind myself.

So we have all used customer relationship management software, whether in the sales process or in the win-back of lapsed clients, it is a fantastic tool to keep all pertinent data in one location. At the click of a mouse, you have the clients information in front of you which gives the customer that personal touch that we all love.

We have also seen customer loyalty programs in business. This may be a retail store offering a free item with the purchase of 3 other items. Or every 4th visit you get a free cup of coffee. While that is nice, it is not the real reason we are patronizing the store. If we didn’t like the product, giving it for free would not really be beneficial to us, would it?

Customer loyalty cannot be bought, it must be earned!

I have loyalty cards from the 8 major grocery chains in my area hanging from my keychain. Does it pay? To build loyalty, you must earn it. But how?

  • Customer communication – be sure to keep in communication with your client base. Send them small thank you’s, birthday cards and company newsletters.
  • Make sure you focus on the customer over your company, keep the focus on the customer’s needs and not your needs (customer centric)
  • Establish good ethics – be a company that the customer can really trust

Customer loyalty and retention is about relationships. If you build a solid foundation, your customer will not only remain but they may just refer new business to you.MA cropped2

While reviewing my personal credit card a few weeks ago, it came to my attention that there was a recurring charge that I didn’t recognize. I immediately began researching the charge and after a quick Google search determined the company in question. I was immediately alarmed because this company had been charging me for months and was never supposed to be a paid service. In their commercials and on their site, it boasted of “free” and never mentioned that it was a “limited time offer”.

It seems that they have since made it more clear on their site. This of course is after class action lawsuits and complaints by many to the Better Business Bureau. How unfortunate that they don’t seem to understand the importance of customer care.  After speaking with 3 people within the company, escalating to the manager and being put on hold multiple times, I was not adequately compensated for my charges.

Customer care begins with the first contact a customer has with your company. It is their very first impression that they have of you and representative of the company as a whole.  In order for this to be positive, be sure you are representing a company or product that you truly believe in.

Once this initial contact is made, it is important to develop a rapport with the customer based on respect. This will allow them to feel appreciated.

Work with them to develop an easy and seamless way to complete their transaction. This will encourage them to return to work with you again.

And lastly, please be sure to thank the customer. With so many opportunities for them to select from, it is imperative that you show your appreciation for their business. On a recent trip, Southwest Airlines did this very well when the flight attendant said “You have many airlines to chose from but we are very happy you gave your money to us”. Nothing like a little humor with your thanks.

Excellent standards of service will lead to happy and repeat customers

 

 

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Murphy Assistants challenges Virtual Assistants and other Entrepreneurs to think beyond green and to encourage healthful and sustainable activities in the work place as well as at home  

 

What is a Victory Garden?

During World War I and World War II, the United States government asked its citizens to plant gardens in order to support the war effort. Millions of people planted gardens. In 1943, Americans planted over 20 million Victory    Gardens, and the harvest accounted for nearly a third of all the vegetables consumed in the country that year.  

Emphasis was placed on making gardening a family or community effort.

 

Today our food travels an average of 1500 miles from farm to table. The process of planting, fertilizing, processing, packaging, and transporting our food uses a great deal of energy and contributes to the cause of global warming.

Planting a Victory Garden to fight global warming would reduce the amount of pollution your food contributes to global warming. Instead of traveling many miles from farm to table, your food would travel from your own garden to your table. (thanks to http://www.revivevictorygarden.org/ for this definition)

 

Get involved! Let’s grow together!

 

Post a comment here if you are taking the challenge.  Lets’ s share our progress.

Send an email to us at victorygarden@murphyassistants.com if you are joining our challenge.

We will send you a gift to show our appreciation. You will also be automatically entered in our monthly drawing for prizes. The drawings will be held monthly from April 2009 through April 2010, the entire 5th anniversary year of MA.

As a business owner you will wear many hats and have many responsibilities fall on you directly. At times you may get so caught up in the day to day business that you fail to realize you can’t do it all yourself.  Finding the right business support is essential to your business success. To assist in your process, try to assess your workload.  Deciding what needs to be done and whether you will be able to outsource it will help you get a clear idea of what type of help you will need.

Outsourcing or subcontracting is a great way to get the help you need without the responsibility attached to hiring a part time or full time employee.  The individual or company you partner with is a professional. You only need to discuss the scope of the project, the desired end result and your business support partner will take it from there. 

As you are organizing your thoughts initially to outsource a project or multiple projects, you will want to do the following:

  • Make a list of your everyday tasks
  • Identify those that need to be done only by you and those that can be handed off
  • Determine if there will be a significant savings to you by delegating

Amidst an ever-louder cacophony of environmental doomsday projections, it’s daunting to know how to make a personal contribution to the cause. The answer may be simpler than you think. If you happen to be equally unsure as to whether to outsource some of your administrative work, consider this: it could well be your opportunity to get temporary office help and do your part for the environment!

 

Many people in the business world are aware of the advantages of using a Virtual Assistant (VA), including enabling them to outsource tasks which are stressful, mundane, outside their own skill set, or that get left on the back burner for whatever reason. The VA is only paid for actual hours worked on each particular task. And there are none of the stress or medical leave worries, or the benefit, bonuses and tax headaches associated with full time employees.

 

But think of the environmental implications of hiring a home office VA as opposed to a traditional, commuting employee. From the moment the VA gets dressed and ready to work, she has already spared the environment in numerous ways. The casual clothes worn by VAs working from home have introduced little or no dry-cleaning solvent into the wastewater. The 10-second commute to the home office released no significant air, water, land or noise pollutants nor required any fossil fuel consumption. The VA’s office uses fewer lights, almost no paper (and by inference toner and printer cartridges), and the VA more than likely turns off the printer, computer, copier and modem when not in use. Then there are the take out meal containers and utensils she didn’t use, and the harsh industrial strength chemicals that didn’t go down the drain. What does it all mean? Less energy used, a smaller landfill burden, less particulate in the air, less noise pollution and fewer logged trees.

 

So, how can you do your part? Mentally unchain yourself from those pestering office projects that never seem to get done, and leave the administrative work to VAs. It will be good for your business and sanity, plus will do wonders for the environment. Less time spent in the rat race means more time spent nurturing healthy family and community ties.