Companies Profit Most by Investing in Customer Engagement



Better business performance results when CEOs show leadership in providing the best-possible customer experience.

Yes, when the big boss is involved in improving the experience of customers, the company enjoys more profit – plus revenue growth and loyal customers.

Those are the findings from a 2015 global study by Genesys (www.genesys.com).

ID-10097371The report is entitled, “The Missing Link: Connecting Customer Experience with Revenue Growth and Profitability.”

The research includes the customer experience (CX) efforts and leadership of 516 CEOs in 21 nations.

“This study clearly demonstrates that C-level engagement in customer experience initiatives drives competitive advantage,” says Paul Segre, President and CEO of Genesys.

“In an era when consumers have more choice than ever, the research validates that investment in CX is a sound investment in sustainable competitive differentiation,” he adds.

Key findings

The study concludes 58 percent of companies led by a CEO in charge of customer experience enjoyed significantly more profit.

Fifty-nine percent had stronger revenue growth.

Many CEOs in China, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia seem to understand the connection between CEO leadership on customer experience and profits.

However, only about 33 percent of CEOS in North America lead in customer experience initiatives.

In Europe, typically it’s the chief marketing officer who is the executive to lead in customer service efforts.

Sixty-three percent of CEOS who lead in customer service beat their competitors in satisfying customers.

Only 55 percent of North American companies see customer experience investments as “very important.”

But 71 percent of CEOS in Brazil, Columbia and Mexico lead the globe in making the customer experience “very important.”

More than 50 percent will increase customer-experience investments by 10 percent.

“Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.”

-Walt Disney

Customer loyalty

Despite a universal decline in customer loyalty, only a third of CEOs understand that they’ll retain more customers with a customer-experience strategy.

An eye-opener: Just 20 percent of companies now see the benefits of social media in customer service perceptions.

But it’s different approach in Asia Pacific and Latin America. Such CEOs believe in the potential of social media of a customer-loyalty too.

For them, social media, Web self-service and online support will become more extensive.

“Ambitious companies are driving large investments in customer experience initiatives to adapt to the digital communication channels customers are demanding,” concludes Charles Ross, lead researcher of the study.

“By prioritizing CX and placing the CEO in charge, companies are taking an extra step to drive revenue growth and improve profitability.”

Amen. The data for North American companies is hard to believe — isn’t it?

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related resource links:

HR Management: 3 Values to Deliver Top Customer Service — The three values needed to achieve top customer service are easy-to-understand but arduous to achieve. But if your human resources program adopts and implements these values, you’ll achieve enviable organizational effectiveness – a high performance culture – for strong revenue.

13 Strategies to Keep and Attract Valued Customers — Have you experienced the agony of not enjoying the fruits of your labor? That includes not having enough time for projects, not enjoying life outside of your business, and worse – losing customers. You’re also losing opportunities for referral business. Here’s what to do.

How Some Companies Get Creative in Customer Service for Great PR — As you no doubt know, it’s increasingly competitive and costly to attract customers. It’s also a challenge to hang onto to customers while adding more for your business growth. Typically, consumers react favorably to marketing after receiving five positive messages.

How to Best Profit: Word-of-Mouth Advertising, Customer Service — To increase your sales revenue with word-of-mouth advertising, here are 10 tips.

10 Innovation Tips to Boost Your Long-Term Customer Base — Businesspeople are constantly under pressure. Daily events make it challenging to make critical decisions for financial sustainability. Businesses must innovate to survive. Here are 10 key questions to ask about your business.

Why Your Customer-Loyalty Program Might Not Be Profitable — Researchers are warning businesses that their customer-loyalty programs, which are designed to increase repeat business, may be causing more harm than good.

“Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.”

-Walt Disney


 

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.



Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at www.freedigitalphotos.net

HR Management: 3 Values to Deliver Top Customer Service



The three values needed to achieve top customer service are easy-to-understand but arduous to achieve. But if your human resources program adopts and implements these values, you’ll achieve enviable organizational effectiveness – a high performance culture – for strong revenue.

One key indicator is whether your employees are proud of your organization.

Here’s a question: How often have you as a customer experienced poor service from an employee? Quite often, I’d guess. It results from a lack of pride.

woman office teacherNot to oversimplify, here’s a case study:

A gas station attendant where I’ve frequently patronized annoyed me one day. I was in line first, and told an employee what I wanted to buy.

It was the same employee who once indicated his desire to me that he wanted to boost his career by qualifying for college in order to enter the medical field.

But I was aghast. The employee first finished serving a customer who arrived after me. The second customer paid for the gas and was on his way before the employee finished serving me.

Annoyed, but tactfully as I could, I explained to the employee principles of good customer service – why he and his employer were in danger of losing a customer – me.

Ironically, if the employee develops pride in his work and becomes better at customer service on behalf of his employer, he will also more easily attain his career goals.

Developing employee pride is or should be one function of human-resources management.

You see, proud employees see customers through a different set of glasses. They actually think differently, they develop good work habits, make sure customers are happy, and they are a source of profitable ideas for their employers.

The three values to deliver top customer service

More and more, employers value soft skills over talent. Either companies recruit employees with the right attitudes or they train them to become top performers.

Top-performing companies implement three core values:

1. With sovereignty or authority, managers give more sovereignty or autonomy to their employees.

2. With higher expectations in employee performance, managers make sure employees understand what’s expected in customer service and why it’s important.

3. With stellar practices in recognition practices, managers make recognition of employee contributions a top priority.

Sovereignty or autonomy

By employing trusted employees, companies give autonomy to make decisions to keep customers happy.

Micromanagement and unnecessary stress are non-existent.

Such empowered employees are more likely to be confident, polite, enthusiastic, and collaborative with other team members.

Employee autonomy involves employee engagement, and there’s a direct correlation between employee engagement and business success.

Higher understanding and expectations of employee performance

Managers, who emphasize why employees they should be mindful of enhanced customer service, inspire an environment for top performance. When employees get it, they do a better job of helping customers and they’re better team players, as well.

It’s also great for employee retention. You’ll be in a better position to spot the red flags you’re losing an employee.

Recognition practices

Best practices in employee recognition and rewards for terrific work, enhances the pride factor among workers. Work becomes fun when employees are recognized for their contributions.

As other employees see these principles at work, such a culture is a catalyst for trust. This positions the organization for high performance.

Finally, one recognition tool you can use is to help employees grow professionally.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are more HR strategies:

6 Tips to Turn Your HR Department into a Profit Center — At least 50 percent of a company’s profits are contingent on employee problems. If you have challenges in one department, odds are you have HR issues in other departments. In fact, human capital is the No. 1 reason why CEOs lose sleep. Many businesses often need an objective source of information and expertise from critical thinkers. It’s true you can turn your human resources department into a profit center.

How to Manage Your Employee Vacation Schedules for a Smooth Operation — Depending on the size of your staff, managing around your employees’ vacation schedules can be a thorny issue. That’s especially true for a small operation. With just a few employees, it can be difficult to keep everyone happy and to cover the workload.

Management/HR – How to Increase Profits via Employee Turnover — As cost centers, human resources have opportunities to shine whenever they act as profit centers. And employee turnover presents opportunities for companies to make money.

10 Steps to Manage Conflict for High Performance — For progress, a business needs human interaction for ideas and innovation. Sometimes, argument, debate and conflict prove to be productive catalysts for high performance. But such catalysts can be obstacles to success, too. Here are the simplest ways to manage conflict.

Hiring? 4 Pointers on Negotiating Wages with Job Applicants — Some employers have had difficulty in successfully extending job offers to applicants, especially Millennial professionals. It’s not uncommon to interview applicants who aren’t shy in negotiations with their inflated egos and salary expectations. Of course, that wasn’t the case in the Great Recession.

“The smaller the function, the greater the management.”

-C. Northcote Parkinson

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is also a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.


How Companies Get Creative in Customer Service for Great PR



As you no doubt know, it’s increasingly competitive and costly to attract customers. It’s also a challenge to hang onto to customers while adding more for your business growth.

Typically, consumers react favorably to marketing after receiving five positive messages. Conversely, they will cease buying from your company if they have five or fewer unfavorable experiences.

Such customers start buying from your competitors 70 percent of the time if they feel taken for granted.

woman-257623_1280Most unhappy customers won’t give you feedback.

They’ll simply shop elsewhere.

Worse, many will launch a complaint campaign — they’ll go out of their way to complain about your company on social media and to their friends and relatives indefinitely.

Therefore, exemplary performance and delivery become paramount.

A very informative blog, 5 Businesses That Leave You With No Excuses, on Website Magazine highlighted five companies that are excelling in providing a positive customer experience.

Not only did writer Ilan Nass list the companies, the post included the companies’ logos — a PR dream come true.

The article might also serve as an inspiration for you.

Here are excerpts:

 Olive Garden

Olive Garden is now partnering with MyGym to provide free babysitting while their customers enjoy a child-free date night. This offer requires that you make a reservation and provide proof that you ate at Olive Garden (like a receipt) when you pick up your child after dinner. 

LA Fitness

By offering on the spot babysitting during the majority of the gym’s open hours, LA Fitness removes the excuse of not working out because of lack of childcare. Childcare services are always free and will keep your child busy, happy and entertained. 

Walgreens.com

The story is all too familiar. Customers can upload pictures from a camera or smartphone and store all the images in online photo albums. These albums can be shared via email or social media and customers can also order a variety of products containing those pictures. Not only does Walgreens.com offer several sales on prints and photo products, they also have free offers occasionally. 

VistaPrint

VistaPrint offers a variety of printed products for your business: business cards, banners, t-shirts, magnets and more. Not only does VistaPrint offer easy-to-use software with templates and pre-made designs, but they also provide exceptionally low prices and high-quality goods.

Groupon

Groupon partners with various companies throughout the United States to offer great deals for the purpose of bringing in more business and making their name more widely known…The offers are organized by city and present deals of up to 95 percent off! Whether it be a custom framing special or discounted month membership at that barre studio down the street, Groupon makes sure you’re in the know. How do you keep your customers updated?

Not to be disagreeable, my only caution with the enjoyable post is with the Groupon mention. Groupon hurts restaurant owners in two ways.

Heavily discounted deals means customers will tip your employees less, which means you’ll lose valuable food servers. Such daily deal sites cost you in profits. Nor will such customers be loyal, repeat patrons.

From the Coach’s Corner, for better customer loyalty and revenue, here are valuable tips:

Strategies for Maximum Customer Loyalty, Profits — Customer retention is important for profits in good times and bad. Here are customer-retention tips, and social-networking tips from a B2B sales pro.

Energize Your Customer-Loyalty Program with 6 Steps — The quickest way for established businesses to optimize revenue is to have a stellar customer-loyalty program — there are six steps you can take for repeat sales and referrals. If you’re not a great steward of your current book of business, it’s futile to look for new customers.

Internet Shoppers Demand 3 Cs – Customer Experience Study — Success in e-commerce is increasingly challenging for retailers that want to dominate in brand preference, customer loyalty and word-of-mouth advertising. That’s because consumers want more and more in the three Cs — channels, choices and convenience.

Why Companies Are High Maintenance to Customers (but Don’t Know It) – Businesses are losing more than they know because they inconvenience customers. Such negative customer perceptions result in lost opportunities in revenue growth, tarnished branding and smaller profit margins, according to a study.

“Make a customer, not a sale.”

-Katherine Barchetti


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.





Marketing – Are You Making the Same Mistake as Big Box Retailers?



A high percentage of customer engagement is a valuable objective, and should be the goal of every manager and employees who deal with customers.

But how many times has a retail employee asked you: “Did you find everything OK?”

Your answer: “No.”

Then promptly, the employee fails to do something about it. Well, it’s happened to me countless times at chain stores. Not only in-person feedback, but in responding to online surveys, too. 

By failing to manage the dialogue, such companies run bigger risk of seeing complaints on Twitter, Facebook and in online reviews.

ID-10039150 ambroIt turns out that a study shows 85 percent of shoppers at big-box retail stores give the requested consumer information.

But only 46 percent of surveyed consumers believe the information will be used to improve customer service.

That’s the word from Empathica, Inc. The company surveyed 6,500 U.S. consumers in 2012.

Shoppers indicated they wanted to answer the retailers’ questions, but they’ve become dissatisfied with the lack of responsiveness.

Some 81 percent of respondents believe their feedback should be shared with all store locations.

But just 52 percent think the stores, managers and employees get the information.

The irony? Four out of five respondents “agree or strongly agree” they would be loyal to such companies, if they followed up on the feedback.

Why customers leave

Indeed, my research shows customers change brands 70 percent of the time because they feel ignored.

 “Our research proves that consumers really do want to provide feedback and engage in conversations with brands,” said Dr. Gary Edwards, Empathica’s chief customer officer.

“But at the same time, they are clearly disappointed by not having any visibility into what happens afterwards,” he said. “Feedback remains a one-way street and what consumers are yearning for is two-way dialogue. They want to know that their feedback is being acted upon in ways that will drive meaningful changes to the customer experience at the locations they frequent.”

The most popular delivery feedback is online.

About 50 percent will give feedback for an incentive. However, incentives aren’t necessary for the majority – 31 percent are willing to give positive input and 25 percent will give negative feedback.

 “Unfortunately, a lot of retailers fail at creating the transparency that customers desire,” adds Mr. Edwards.

“Admitting some areas of the business require more attention builds credibility and helps retailers realize the huge potential for brand advocacy,” he says. “There are large numbers of customers out there who are motivated to provide feedback for the brand.”

Obviously, big box retailers are wasting billions of dollars in research. Hopefully, your company has a better track record.

It’s imperative to act on valuable consumer feedback, and thank the customer. It’s good business. Besides, wouldn’t it be better to manage the dialogue?

From the Coach’s Corner, more suggested reads: 

Understanding Customers — Social Media Humbles Companies — Marketing is the understanding of your customer for the cost-effective process of selling the right product or service at the right time and at the right price. Inexplicably, Verizon joins the list of big companies failing to understand how poor research and judgment would draw fire from their customers and social media.

Social Media Debate: How or Whether it Influences SEO — Google spokesperson Matt Cutts maintains social media doesn’t impact your Web site rankings. But an authoritative Website Magazine article by Travis Bliffen, of Stellar SEO, raises some thought-provoking questions.

Critical Essentials to Develop the Best Marketing Formula — There are critical essentials for marketing, which includes the right channels and developing the right message. That includes the right branding slogan and logo. Unless your targeting upscale consumers, many consumers prefer value marketing — not cute, which doesn’t necessarily mean selling at a lower price than your competitors. Hyper-consumerism is history. Humor is great, but more importantly, traditional values with a purpose are in vogue. Why? Consumer attitudes are changing.

At some time in the life cycle of every organization, its ability to succeed in spite of itself runs out.


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.





Photo courtesy of ambro at www.freedigitalphotos.net

CRM and SEO Strategies for Higher Sales



True, there are shortcuts you can take for Internet prominence en route to higher sales. However, implementing those dubious tools will ultimately land you in Internet oblivion. Such shortcuts aren’t worth the risk.

The first smart move: It’s important to lay a strong marketing foundation – build your brand equity brick by brick. A rushed job might lead to success, but it’s only temporary. Marketing is a never-ending process. It’s a race – a marathon – not a dash or sprint.

What’s the secret to success? Well, that requires an easy-to-understand set of answers, but it’s laborious to implement for strong results.

ID-100233995 stockimagesLet’s start with strong customer-relationship management. No, not merely CRM software, but it’s important to develop stronger skills in literally managing your customers.

In essence, that means developing strong-enough relationships to persuade customers to become effective online brand ambassadors to write reviews for you.

Online reviews have become important. Many sites have become successful partially thanks to customer reviews.

Here are 20 User Review Web sites Critical to Small Business. Note, however, Google will penalize sites perceived to have too many reviews. More on reviews later.

Further, strategies with a full complement of SEO – search engine optimization tools – work best.

Much has been written and said about Google’s updates, which is making SEO more difficult for many businesses. The algorithm upgrade in Feb. 2011 was designed to provide better relevant search results by filtering out content farms and other Web sites of questionable value. But Panda has had its critics.

However, you won’t believe this: One problem with Panda was that a business with poor reviews gets a high Google ranking – yes, even negative consumer reviews are counted as positive results. One would think the opposite would be true.

But let’s congratulate Google on its efforts. It will get better once Google understands the issue.

There has been countless buzz about SEO – search engine optimization, key words and meta tags. It’s mostly accurate. Ultimately, businesses will succeed on the Internet by generating links and search results via marketing.

But to maximize sales, it’s a complex matter.

You have to generate clicks from quality Web sites to yours. Google assumes your Web site is getting a vote from another site when the Internet user visits your site. The more visits you get from quality sites, the more important your site becomes.

You also need to garner telephone calls and attract customers to your place of business for facetime. That means you have to become an orchestra leader of sorts by synchronizing all your marketing efforts.

Historically, you’ve had to start with the right drivers to your Web site, including the right message on the right mediums whether it be TV, radio, newspapers or Internet press releases and ads.

But since early 2010, there have been salient changes:

Additional tips in these articles about Google:

Incidentally, in a key word search for your site, don’t be surprised if your social-media mentions — such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter pages — rank higher than your site. They will likely continue to have a higher page rank until your site improves in page rank. But that’s OK, if you do it right. It’s all about brand equity.

Good luck! Master these ideas. Your CRM and SEO strategies will lead to higher sales.

From the Coach’s Corner, here’s a tip about the value of a press release to promote your successes.

Pick a press-release company with a strong Google page rank. Every time you achieve a goal, write a good press release. Not only will you generate productive direct links but others will blog or tweet about your press release. That’s when the multiplier effect kicks in. For every good press release, you’ll generate 15-20 times the number of links.

One of my favorite examples:

In June of 2010, I wrote an article and press release to promote while quoting security guru Dr. Stan Stahl about the WIFI security issues at Starbucks. It generated about what I expected in visitors to my column. But months later, a blogger who was writing about Starbucks on Yahoo Finance spotted my press release and linked to it. In just a few hours, more than 20,000 of his Yahoo readers read my PR, and at most of them read the original article on this Web portal.

If you promote a lot and your marketing budget is tight, I’d recommend the free online press-release company, www.prlog.org.

It provides at least nine benefits:

  1. You get to select 10 key words appropriate for your Web site
  2. Your logo
  3. Picture
  4. As many as two live links
  5. Your contact information
  6. An archive which it calls “Press Room” – it shows up online with all your press releases
  7. Your business profile which also links to your site
  8. It provides user data – readers of your press releases
  9. Within minutes of publishing a press release, it shows up on Bing Search as well as Bing News with your picture

The only downside is that the complimentary press releases indicate they’re free and they contain Google ads. My sense is that the benefits outweigh such factors. Prlog’s other options that aren’t free don’t include the Google ads and you’re guaranteed to be inserted in Google News.

Note: Don’t use the same headline for your press release as you do in your blog. Otherwise, your article won’t be indexed — just your press release. Not all readers of your press releases will visit your Web site.

“The success of a page should be measured by one criteria: Does the visitor do what you want them to do?”

– Aaron Wall


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.





Image courtesy of stockimages www.freedigitalphotos.net

Windows 7 Looks Great, but Should it Be Better? Yes.

 

Jan. 29, 2011

 

A review about Windows 7 in InformationWeek caught my eye because it struck a nerve. The publication’s senior editor, Serdar Yegulalp, wrote an insightful piece entitled, “What Windows 7 Is Still Missing.” As a longtime Microsoft supporter, I agree with his insights and have my own personal unfortunate experience but more on that later. 

“There’s little question Windows 7 has been received with open arms by users and admins,” Mr. Yegulalp writes.

”It fixed many of the problems that plagued earlier versions of Windows, made good on the promises that seemed only half-fulfilled with Vista, and introduced a slew of new functions — big and small — that were also warmly received,” he explains.

“When Windows 7 was released, Microsoft made a major blunder by not updating a free offering that had been previously available for Windows XP and Vista: SteadyState,” he adds. “Windows does not have, by default, a single all-encompassing mechanism for returning the entire system — user settings, data on disk, etc. — to a given state.”

He explains SteadyState saved Admins setup time.

“Instead, Microsoft released a white paper in which they described how admins could use many of the native technologies in Windows 7 to emulate the behaviors of SteadyState,” he points out.” It isn’t hard to guess the reaction: people booed Microsoft roundly for ignoring a much-requested feature from its customers.”

Mr. Yegulalp maintains Windows 7 doesn’t provide a critical function:  “…one of the biggest and most crucial functions — disk protection — isn’t provided except through workarounds like System Restore. These don’t work in remotely the same fashion as SteadyState’s own disk protection, which required little or no intervention or downtime.”

He points out it lacks support for other hardware.

“Most of us are all too familiar with this scenario,” he writes.”You install a copy of Windows on a newly-minted PC, or perhaps reinstall a clean copy on an existing one. Unfortunately, a great many things simply don’t work — your Bluetooth module, for instance, or your memory card reader. Or the whole system just seems weirdly sluggish for a fresh install.”

He makes these suggestions:

  • Extend Windows update to close the gap
  • Universal software updates
  • Proper touch support for tablets
  • Acquisitions, third-party features  

“But Windows 8 is two years or more away, and most people will not wait that long for solutions to the problems…They want some sign, sooner rather than later, that the right thing is being done,” he asserts.

“And if it Microsoft doesn’t provide it, someone else will,” concludes Mr. Yegulalp.

Amen.

To read his full assessment, here’s his article: What Windows 7 Is Still Missing.

From the Coach’s Corner, my own Windows 7 experience is not what I’d expect from a leading technology company.

After some thought, I decided to buy Windows 7 to upgrade my most-revered notebook computer, an IBM ThinkPad. (Actually, I own two.)

However, making a purchase online, it could not be installed. Plus, Microsoft didn’t send an email confirmation as promised. I tried every tip provided on Microsoft’s Web site to no avail. So I called the company. It took repeated calls. I was forced to deal with two people who were difficult to understand.

Initially, they didn’t believe I even made the purchase. After all, there was no receipt. Then, someone thought to ask for my product key. They concluded they couldn’t help me.

Ultimately, I reached someone I could understand. But the tech-support person concluded that I’d have to wait for the five days for a disk to install Windows 7.

Then, his major gaffe – he lectured me for buying Windows 7 instead of buying a new computer with it already installed.

“Where’s the attitude of empathy and customer service,” I thought. “What a waste of more than three hours.”

I hung up telling him: “You’re of no help.”

Oh, and more than 24 hours later, I finally received a purchase-receipt from Microsoft.

Is this the best a world-class company can do? Now, after reading Mr. Yegulalp’s article – not knowing whether Windows 7 will even be compatible with my own needs – it’s a purchase I hope I don’t regret.

Invigorate Sales with 11 Customer Retention, Referral Tips



First and foremost, if customer loyalty is not paramount at your company it should be. Businesses lose business 70 percent of the time because customers feel taken for granted.

In this digital age with a heavy reliance on social media, the Internet is indeed important. But the No. 1 reason – at least 52 percent of the decision-making process – why people buy a product or service — is what customers think of a company’s spokesperson and sales reps.

Yes, the quality of the product is important, but for customers to really feel like they’re making a smart buying decision, they want a good rapport and to feel appreciated.

Sexy ModelThat’s the best way to turn customers into brand evangelists, especially women, who make the majority of buying decisions in a family.

It’s also true that sales and networking strategies build strong relationships.

Here are 11 customer retention and referral strategies:

1. Like a marriage, to enhance any business relationship, it helps to listen during 80-90 percent of conversations.

Women, especially, prefer salespeople who listen to their concerns.

Typically, women make 80 percent of all household-buying decisions.

In my two+ decades of human-resources training, the No. 1 complaint women have about men is that “they don’t listen.”

2. Create an interactive dialogue and invite feedback.

3. Provide the best service.

4. Don’t get defensive in the face of criticism even when the customer is wrong – simply take notes and use basic assertive techniques.

5. Be careful in all negotiations. Use the 22 dos and don’ts for successful negotiations.

Yes, the quality of the product is important, but for customers to really feel like they’re making a smart buying decision, they want a good rapport and to feel appreciated.

6. Upon receiving a compliment from a customer, ask for two referrals – the names and contact information of “two people just like you who this need great product, too.”

7. Provide added value without hurting the bottom-line.

8. Prevent buyer’s remorse by reminding the customer of the value of the purchase.

9. Say and write the magic words, thank you, at every opportunity.

10. Depending on the level of purchases, make personal contact a priority.

11. Never assume customers are forever. Remind them in subtle ways why it’s beneficial to do business with you. (See the top 11 tips for a great elevator pitch and the seven steps to higher sales.)

So if you’re losing customers, improve your odds with excellent customer-retention and referral strategies.

From the Coach’s Corner, here’s related information:

How to Best Profit: Word-of-Mouth Advertising, Customer ServiceWhen was the last time you explored options for improving your word-of-mouth opportunities? Here’s a hint: Customer service is the No. 1 key to good word-of-mouth advertising and repeat business. Here 10 tips.

11 Sales Strategies to Outsell Your Big CompetitorsBig companies have obvious advantages over small businesses. Their brands are well-known. They can afford sales training, sales-support staff and customer-relationship management software. On the other hand, there are good reasons why Cyber Monday has become big. Yes, many online customers do it to save money on sales taxes.

The Lost Art – How and Why to Use Cold-Calling for Higher SalesAre you lacking in sales? Do you get enough face time with the right prospects? Here’s how and why in-person cold calls will help you make sales.

8 Tips for Cold Calling By E-mail and TelephoneSince the advent of the digital age, cold calling went out of vogue. But in the lingering downturn – whether you’re in advertising or staffing services – cold calling has become the logical tool to use to generate clients or business customers.

Want More Revenue? Avoid the 7 Deadly Sins of Selling — Whether you are an established company or a startup, what you probably need most in this economic climate is a positive revenue stream. It’s possible with a higher-performing sales staff.

“Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It is what the client or customer gets out of it.”

-Peter Drucker


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




Super Bowl: Great Metaphor for Business Success



Past Super Bowl feats serve as terrific examples to inspire equally superb business performances to achieve profits.

Indeed, enthusiasm, execution and hard work deliver results. The moral? Anything is possible if you dream big, stay positive and work hard.

Good Marketing Captures Emotions

In a nationwide TNS Express Online Survey asked fans to pick their favorite Super Bowl moments.

Joe Namath, Super Bowl III


Three of the most-mentioned favorites:

–Joe Namath’s 1969 prediction that his New York Jets would beat the then-Baltimore Colts, which was a lesson in confidence and marketing puffery.

You might recall he went on to sell tons of products –from hosiery to skin cream.

–Hank Stram’s colorful quote the following year, “Pump it in there, baby,” was a lesson in coaching — mentoring.

–The invincible “Steel Curtain” of the Pittsburg Steelers, which taught us lessons for protecting brand equity.

Even non-Steeler fans could appreciate the team’s defensive stars, including “Mean” Joe Greene, L.C. Greenwood and Jack Ham.

Lessons in Execution 

The aerial artistry of Terry Bradshaw’s pass completions to Lynn Swann and John Stallworth were awe-inspiring.

The receivers were like graceful ballet dancers as they leaped to catch the ball. They were also tough and never fumbled — outstanding examples of mental strength and focus.

Role model for courage

My all-time favorite Super Bowl moments were in 1980 when the Steelers defeated the Los Angeles Rams in a highly entertaining game, 30-19.

Why? One player stood out even in a losing cause. One of the gutsiest performances ever.

The most inspiring player in that game was All-Pro Ram defensive end Jack Youngblood — he  played every down of the NFL Title Game and Super Bowl on a broken leg.

Jack Youngblood, Super Bowl XIV


Jack Youngblood is synonymous with stud. There was no self-doubt in his eyes.

He remains as the consummate role model for grit and perseverance.

Lessons in Marketing Strategy

Reprise Media’s “Super Bowl Search Marketing ScoreCard,” measures how well advertisers capitalize on their Super Bowl advertising investments.

The technology firm, www.reprisemedia.com, helps companies increase their brand equity in online marketing.

The company contends that national advertisers fail to capitalize on their Super Bowl commercials by not taking enough precautionary steps in online marketing. That means focus on ad text, keyword selection, and landing page content.

Capitalize on advertising

Not to oversimplify, the company offers four basic reminders:

  1. Make sure to include your Web site address in your advertising.
  2. On search engines, bid on your company’s name, products, services, and your spokespersons.
  3. Ensure a common thread in all your advertising and repeat your key phrases.
  4. Prevent buyers’ remorse by making visitors feel rewarded. Offer to let them register to win a product and promote interaction with you.

Smaller advertisers, too, can benefit from Super Bowl-like performances by learning from successful national advertisers. You’ll reach the best prospective customers with good credit or high net worth by advertising on local news outlets.

Cost-effective keys to online success include media outlets with strong journalistic standards. You’ll also be amazed how economical their Web sites are, too, if you insert banner and rich media ads. Don’t forget to generate opportunities by submitting quality press releases to their news departments.

From the Coach’s Corner, branding remains an important factor in fast food sales, which has suffered as a result of the economic downturn.It has forced fast food companies to discount prices and focus on value meals. However, as consumers now count their eating out at fast food restaurants as a dining-out treat, the companies with the strongest branding and customer service will win.

Value meals are a drag on earnings if customer service is not perceived as good. Obviously, that’s a concern in the fast food business, especially when a company does not have a visionary salesperson. (Beloved Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas knew about quality, customer service and what his customers wanted.)

Whether the economy is strong or weak – 18 percent of customers will only buy the cheapest product or service – they’re not likely to return unless you have the cheapest prices. So, you want your stores to succeed on repeat business by targeting the 82 percent who are concerned about price but are influenced by other factors.

My cursory sampling of fast food restaurants shows a connection between a successful fast food stores and the perceived level of good food and customer service. A key ingredient is respect for the customer and showing an attitude of gratitude. The stores that have employees who excel in customer service and say thank you to customers are a catalyst for customer loyalty.

For value-conscious customers, price is important but their purchases are decided on emotion.

In order of importance, their five buying perceptions are:

  1. What they think about your spokesperson and employees
  2. Your company image
  3. Product or service utility (is this good food?)
  4. Convenience
  5. Price

For related reading: The Seven Steps to Higher Sales, and Sports Offers Lessons on Strategic Management and Planning.

“Winning isn’t getting ahead of others. It’s getting ahead of yourself.

-Roger Staubach


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is also a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.






How to Best Profit: Word-of-Mouth Advertising, Customer Service



When was the last time you explored options for improving your word-of-mouth opportunities? Here’s a hint: Customer service is the No. 1 key to good word-of-mouth advertising and repeat business.

My firm’s research shows that consumers usually respond favorably to marketing after receiving five positive messages. Conversely, they will divorce your company if they have five or fewer unfavorable experiences.

So we’re talking about performance and delivery. If your company fails to meet a customer’s expectations, it’s important to respond instantly with empathy and problem-solving skills.

ID-10054005 Stuart MilesIf customer-retention is an issue, it’s worth noting why: Customers start patronizing your competitors 70 percent of the time because they feel taken for granted. Most won’t warn you.

And if customers feel your service is horrible, they’ll vehemently complain and tell acquaintances about their unhappiness for years.

You might recall how Verizon learned a lesson in understanding customers from customer criticism on social media.

In the eyes of many consumers, customer service has developed a split personality. A boss is usually adamant about customer service being paramount. But the employees don’t seem to get the message.

It appears companies place too much importance on sales as a profit center while treating customer service as a cost center.

Naturally, it’s important to look at business processes and understand the emerging dynamic in consumerism. Thanks to the Internet, consumers are in charge. They can easily obtain competing information about products and services, and they blog about their experiences.

Your employees need to realize that consumers are serious about demanding service. Only then, will you be ready to develop and implement customer-service strategies for higher profits.

For your business to stand out to earn more word-of-mouth opportunies, here are ten reminders:

First impressions. Value perceptions about your customer service start within seconds of the first contact. In order of priority: Consumers psychologically evaluate your company by the quality of your people, your company image, product or service utility, convenience factors and price.

Last impressions count, too.

Dialogue techniques. Develop unique, value-selling propositions. You’ll want to establish a dialogue, but never start by asking a closed-ended question, such as: “Can I help you?” Great salespeople know an 80 /20 ratio of listening vs. speaking yields the best results. Use an open-ended question to entice the customer into talking.

When the customer leaves – whether making a purchase or not – it’s vital to thank the customer and close with a statement to prevent buyer’s remorse. But never close with this trite, over-used phrase: “Have a nice day.” Upon hearing that phrase 15 times a day, I’m tempted to respond: “Thanks, but I’ve made other plans.”

My questions are:

  1. How boring do you want your company to be in the eyes of your customers?
  2. Why would you want diminish your chances by 50 percent to make a sale?

Attitude gratitude and service. Look for opportunities to show a positive attitude. Never end meetings with customers or employees until you consider saying the magic words, “thank you.” In 98 percent of conversations, if you think about it, these events translate into golden opportunities to bond with others. That goes for emails, letters and faxes, too.

Centers of Influence. Some customers are Centers of Influence – their emphatic word-of-mouth advertising provides the prospect for a competitive edge. It’s then possible to kick sales to the next level with new cross-sell and up-sell opportunities.

Event factor. In the mind of a consumers, even the smallest of purchases represent an event  their lives – sometimes a celebration. That means the bigger the purchase a customer makes, the bigger the event. So be attentive before, during and after the sale.

Surprises. Consumers don’t appreciate negative surprises. They expect seamless service. When several steps are needed in the sale process, proactively keep the customer apprised with status reports with e-mails or telephone calls.

Commitments. Keep all promises. And you’ve heard the adage: “Under promise and over deliver.”

Common courtesies. Never miss an opportunity to say please, thank you, and the person’s name. If you’re talking to someone older than you, use the person’s last name, preceded by Mr., Ms. or Mrs. And in your e-mails and notes, use a 19th century salutation, “Dear…”

Candidly, I make it a practice to use formal greetings the first five times I meet a prospect or customer. I have two clients I’ve known since 1993 and I still greet them or refer to them in front of their employees as “Mr.” 50 percent of the time. And guess what, they still appreciate it. It also reminds them how I value them and it is an for me when I interact with them.

Referrals. The most-opportune time to ask for referrals is when a customer compliments you or your business.

Never ask: “Can you refer me to anyone?”

Instead, ask an open-ended question, such as: “What are the names of people just like you…?”

Remember good salespersons never let a customer do what the salespersons should be doing – by themselves.

Complaints. True, customers are not always right. But when they are, many companies forget it costs more to attract new business than it does to keep customers happy. If you get a complaint, the first response should be empathy.

The second should be appreciation. Encourage your employees to be resourceful in solving the problem. Give them adequate authority to act. Some calls from unhappy customers shouldn’t end with this annoying question: “If there anything else I can help you with?” Besides it’s poor grammar.

From the Coach’s Corner: The 22 Do’s and Don’ts for Successful Negotiations 

“It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages.”

-Henry Ford


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.





Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.