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2 Important Things to Know About Your Customers

customerIt was a beautiful day in our area on Sunday so we decided to go for a drive. There’s an outlet mall about thirty minutes from us. So we stopped and shopped!

We like to combine work and play. While we were playing, we got a couple of ideas for post, including this one today.

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Where are your customers from?

As we made a purchase, the clerk asked us for our phone number. She said, “We like to know where our customers are from.”

Isn’t that an important thing to know about your customers? 

Geographic area
This is what the store we were at wanted to know. This may or may not be important to your business. It may be useful for targeting areas for your marketing.

Marketing activity
Unlike large companies, small businesses can’t afford to invest a lot of money on building their brand. When we spend money as small business owners, we need to see a return in the short-term while also building our brand long-term.

So discover what marketing activity is driving people to your business. While this is an inexact science, you want to determine as closely as you can if the time and money you’re spending on various activities are paying off.

Consumers often segment the research and the purchase. They may do some research on you as a result of one marketing activity. Then they may respond to another one to make a purchase.

The first activity may be important to the process but doesn’t get the credit it deserves.

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georgePrior to Bigg Success, my businesses relied on inbound telemarketing. In other words, our customers called us to schedule projects. Our Customer Service Reps might ask this question, “How did you hear about us?” Later in the process, we might also have them ask, “How did you get our phone number today?” We often got a different answer from the same caller!

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marylynnIsn’t that amazing? You don’t want to annoy your customers with too many questions. You do want to get as much information as you can as a natural part of the conversation you’re having.

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Demographics
There are a number of factors that may be important to understand about your customers. What is their level of education? How much money do they make? What is their occupation?

Obviously, you may not directly ask them some of these questions. You may survey them anonymously.

This information helps you target your products and services better. It’s also highly likely that your future customers will be a lot like your current customers. So it helps you qualify prospects.

Where are your customers going?

It’s arguably more important to know this one. What are your customers trying to accomplish? What problems are they having trying to do that? How can you help them?

Retailers
The type of business you have will dictate how you find this out. Let’s say you’re a retailer serving lots of customers with relatively small purchases. While they’re checking out, you may ask them if there was anything that they didn’t find.

You may want to keep a list of their requests. When you start seeing something over and over, you may want to add that item to your inventory.

Consumer services
For a consumer service business, the question is very similar. “Is there anything else that I can help you with today?” 

We used a version of this in my service businesses and it was amazing the projects we would uncover. For instance, we often learned that they were considering a remodel from this simple question.

Business services

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marylynnIf your business serves other businesses, the best way to find this out is the hard way – talk with them! This is what we do. It takes a lot of legwork to keep in touch with your customers at this level. But it’s the best way to find opportunities.

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Nobody likes to be sold. People like to buy.
Discover what your customers are trying to accomplish.
Uncover the problems they’re having getting there.
Then show them the solution you can provide and you’ll be a bigg success!

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Get the tips and tools you need to be a BIGG success.
Subscribe to the Bigg Success Weekly – it’s FREE!

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Thanks so much for reading our post today. Please join us next time when we’ll celebrate a bigg milestone. Until then, here’s to your bigg success.

 

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00519-111109.mp3

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Apologies – The Good

interactiveamy_dominos_crew.jpgToday on The Bigg Success Show, we were thrilled to welcome Amy Ravit Korin, also known as interactiveAmy. She’s a social media consultant to individuals, local businesses and Fortune 500 companies. We met Amy at SOBCon, the business school for bloggers. Amy has so much personality that, once you meet her, you’ll never forget her! So let’s get to the conversation …

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marylynnAmy, you told us this incredible story that we want you to share with our whole community. You recently ordered some pizza from Domino’s. But it took an hour to get the order to you and, when it arrived, it wasn’t right. What happened next?

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amyI called the store and they said they would send over another one. I’m also very active on Twitter – as a social media consultant it is one of my preferred methods of communicating. So I tweeted what had happened. I was just venting my frustration.

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georgeAnd that's when Ramon De Leon, who is the owner of the local Dominos stepped in, right?

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amyYes! He twittered me right away and asked which location I ordered the pizza from.

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Get in on the conversation

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marylynnThis is a good thing for local business owners to understand. Since you are a social media consultant, Amy, how did Ramon know that you had tweeted about him?

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amyThere are great tools out there that allow you to monitor the real time feed of what's being said on Twitter. Ramon probably had an alert set up for the word “Domino’s” or “Domino’s Chicago.” You can use any term that's relevant for you. In addition, you could also set up a Google Alert, which will alert you whenever your name, brand, or company is mentioned on the Internet. So Ramon said that he would remedy the situation and be back in touch when he had more information. I figured I was going to get a credit for free cinnamon sticks the next time I placed an order. Imagine my surprise when I woke up the next morning, logged onto Twitter, and saw a tweet from @DPZRAMON. It said, "Amy, we want to make it up to you, please click on this link." The link took me to a video apology from Ramon, who is the owner of six Domino’s franchises in Chicago. He was standing there with Junior, who is the General Manager of the store where I ordered my pizza. They were offering an apology for what had happened that previous night.

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The buzz begins

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marylynnLike a lot of people, we've watched that video. I really liked that the apology was very sincere!

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amyYeah, what's so crazy is, just this morning, I actually got a tweet from Ramon. He said that video has been embedded on over 30,000 websites! And this is not just 30,000 watching the video; this is 30,000 people who think it's noteworthy enough to feature on their website.

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Wow!

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marylynnAnd in this video, not only did Ramon apologize to you – and promise to make it up to you – he said that they were going to wow you! Now that's more than cinnamon sticks. So what did they do to wow you?

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amyFirst of all, I was totally wowed by this video apology. I had never seen or heard of anything like it. Well as it turns out, I'm also involved in the Social Media Club of Chicago. We hosted an event on Thursday, April 30th – the kick-off to SOBCon. It was a great event where we had all kinds of Chicago social media minds in addition to friends from all over the country. Independently of this video apology, Domino’s was already secured as an event sponsor. So if that wasn’t enough, Domino’s showed up with over 100 pizzas for our club. They also brought a personal pizza for interactiveAmy, with my name all over the box. Ramon delivered it himself.

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george
So he didn't delegate this!

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amyNo, he didn't! Not only was he there, he was really excited about it. He couldn't wait to meet everybody who had heard about him after the video apology. But he was most excited to come and meet me, which was really cool.

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george
And who can blame him, Amy? We know you!

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amyHe also brought some members of his team including Junior. And it was his day off! In addition to the personalized interactiveAmy pizza, Junior also brought me a dozen roses in my favorite color, fuchsia. See video of interactiveAmy with DPZRAMON and Junior.

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marylynnHow on earth did he know your favorite color? He must have visited your website where that color is so strong.

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amyThat's true. I don't know if he did his back end research or if he just took a guess that women like bright pink.

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marylynnWell, I am just wowed by all of this. It’s just incredible!

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interactiveAmy and DPZRAMON

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The conversation begins when a mistake is made

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amyI thought so too. Ramon and I are still in touch. He has become an example of what great customer service is and can be – how to take steps to forge relationships with your customers which is a huge opportunity. When somebody makes a mistake, it doesn't have to be the end of the conversation. It really should be the beginning.

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georgeThat's a great point, Amy. But you could have just said nothing and not gone back to Domino’s. Instead you said something – not even expecting a response – but he responded in such a magnificent way that you've talked about it ever since. Plus 30,000 bloggers have talked about it too!

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amyExactly. As the owner of my own social media company, this is definitely something I try to advise business on, from small mom & pops all the way up the Fortune 500 ladder. Take any opportunity to engage in a conversation about your brand, product or service. And listen – especially when someone says something that might not be the most flattering. It’s a great way to get insight and take steps to remedy the problem. So first you have to listen. Then you can engage. You can become part of the conversation and take the necessary steps to forge your relationship going forward.

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georgeThose are great points, Amy. Here’s what I’ve learned – if you need a case study for your social media consulting business, just be your own.

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amy
I think that's a lesson to all of us … go out there and make things happen!

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Get the tips and tools you need to be a BIGG success.
Subscribe to the Bigg Success Weekly – it’s FREE!

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Thanks Ramon for being a shining example of great customer service.

And thanks Amy for sharing your story with us.

And thank you for reading our post today.

Bigg Question

Have you been impressed with the response to a complaint? Share that with us by leaving a comment below, e-mailing us at bigginfo@biggsuccess.com or calling us at 877.988.BIGG(2444).

Please join us next time when we’ll continue on this thread. We’ll discuss bad and ugly apologies. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

 

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00392-051209.mp3

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(Image in today's post provided by interactiveAmy)

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5 Steps to Make an Unhappy Customer Happy Again

love We’ve all heard the basic rules of customer service. But they deserve repeating before we discuss how to resolve a customer complaint.

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Rule #1: The customer is always right.

Rule #2: If the customer is ever wrong, reread Rule #1.

These two rules are sufficient most of the time. However, sometimes we must realize:

Rule #3: The customer may not always reasonable.

You must know your boundaries in dealing with an unreasonable customer. If you’re a leader, you must communicate these boundaries to your people so they are effective when customers complain.

5 steps to make an unhappy customer happy again

Step #1 – Let the customer vent.
Before you can attempt to resolve the situation, you must understand it. Find out exactly what is troubling your customer. 

Step #2 – Listen attentively.
While this is really part of Step #1, it is so important that it bears special emphasis. Pay attention to what your customer is and isn’t saying. What are his or her specific objections?

#3 – Restate the complaint or complaints.
Wait until he or she has completely “unloaded”. Then, repeat back to your customer the complaints he or she has registered.

You may say, “Please let me make sure I completely understand your concerns.”  Then restate the complaint.

Step #4 – Assure them.

This is not to say that you agree with him or her. It simply lets your customer know that you recognize how they feel.  There is a difference!    You may say things like:

* “I can understand why you might feel that way.”
* “I can see your point.”
* “I can appreciate that.”

#5 – Find out what they want.

Everything has led to this point.  Simply ask the customer this question: “What would you like me to do?”

If you have handled yourself correctly up to now, you will find they will usually ask for less than you would expect.  If so, give it to them! If not, offer them a reasonable option to resolve the issue. 

Let them decide how they can be happy again.  It will be rare when you can’t find a good solution that makes both of you happy.

Complaints are an opportunity

Good things can come from a customer complaint. You can learn how to improve your procedures.

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georgeI once owned a carpet cleaning business. I remember a customer complained because we didn’t get the furniture put back exactly where she had it. We had a chair misplaced by about an eighth of an inch. From that day on, we asked every customer to look at the room before we left to make sure we had everything in the right place. Our customers were thrilled at this simple change in process!

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Remember this, if a customer is unhappy, they’ll usually do one of two things:

Take their business elsewhere or complain. Which do you prefer?

Research shows that customers, who have had problems resolved to their satisfaction, produce three times the revenue of a customer without a problem. On top of that, they are much more likely to recommend you to their friends and family.

Sounds like a good reason to try to make unhappy customers happy again!
 

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Want more tips to help you be a BIGG success?
Subscribe to the Bigg Success Weekly – it’s FREE!

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Next time, we’ll discuss what you have to do BEFORE you hire an employee. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

 

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Increase Your Sales without Spending a Dime on Advertising

hilton We were at the Hilton in Las Vegas recently for the New Media Expo. When we checked in, they offered us an upgrade for $25. We thought that an “upgrade” just meant a better room. But we knew we weren’t going to be in the room much. We’d be at the conference all day and meeting up with people in the evening. So why upgrade?

 

One evening, we were at dinner with some friends. One of them had upgraded. She got access to the spa and fitness center, a private breakfast, and more! As our friend described it all, we wished we would have gone for it!

However, the employee didn’t talk about the benefits (or even the features) when he offered us the upgrade. He didn’t give us a single reason to do it.

But at least he offered it; some employees don’t even do that. Or there’s the other extreme – selling so aggressively that you begin to wonder if what you were thinking about buying is any good at all. You start to question the company and its products or services.

We don’t know if Hilton…

  • has an incentive to reward employees who are successful at selling upgrades.
  • explains why upgrades are good for customers, employees, and the company.
  • Thoroughly trains their employees to present the benefits of upgrades.


We do know that …

  • We would have bought if the upgrade was presented how our friend presented it.
  • “What’s in it for me” applies to employees too!
  • We still love Hilton!

The power of offering more

Every sale presents opportunities for more sales. One of those opportunities is upselling – selling more of the same thing. According to the great book Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive, customers like choices “that fall between what they need at a minimum and what they could possibly spend at a maximum.”

The authors say that if you give your customers two choices, they will likely choose the least expensive one. However, you’ll make more sales than if you don’t offer a second choice at all.

The magic of 3

When you add a third product or service to the process, magic begins to happen. When that third product costs more than the other two choices, customers tend to go for the moderately priced product instead of the least expensive.

georgeOne of my businesses was a heating and air conditioning business. We had always offered our customers service agreements – we would schedule preventive maintenance of their furnace and air conditioner. We expanded that offer to include predictive maintenance (we automatically replaced inexpensive items that regularly broke down) and an all-inclusive program (our customers didn’t pay for anything else). We found that we sold more agreements than we did before. About 8% of our customers bought the high-end service, around 12% bought the low end package, and the rest bought the middle one!

marylynn So it pays to present your customers with a good – better – best offering. Your sales will skyrocket … as long as you can get your employees to tell your customers about it! Do you have any examples to share of good or bad upselling? How about some suggestions on how your business upsells to customers? Share your stories with us by leaving a comment.

 

 

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3 Strategies Small Businesses Can Use to Gain an Advantage in Bad Times

A recent study by Intuit, the software giant behind QuickBooks, Quicken, and TurboTax, found that three-fourths of small business owners expect to grow this year, in spite of all the talk about a recession, corporate layoffs, and consumers cutting back.

Now, it’s probably safe to say that small business owners are a relatively optimistic group. Part of their optimism, though, comes from that fact that two-thirds of the people surveyed said they had survived a recession before. They’ve done it by putting their customers first and focusing on their finances.

georgeWhen I first started studying entrepreneurship, my perception was that large companies created the jobs. Our colleges train us to work in bigg business. It’s true that large companies tend to hire a lot of people during boom times, as do small companies. But during tough economic times, large companies cut back. Interestingly, small companies tend to pretty much hold their own.

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marylynn If you’re keeping an eye on the news, you see that a lot of large companies are cutting marketing and even customer service. They’re cutting jobs and even entire departments. They’re streamlining.

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As numerous studies have shown, the net effect of this is that, over the course of the business cycle, almost all new jobs come from small businesses.

Opportunities created by large businesses for small businesses in bad times

As large companies make cuts, astute small businesses can gain an advantage by using any or all of the following three strategies:

#1 – Turn bigg companies into your customers.
They’re reviewing their operations. If what they cut is what you do – it’s your service – market to them! They may still need that service in some capacity … take advantage of it!

#2 – Recruit their talent
A lot of the people they’re laying off are very talented. These are people that you may have never been able to get before. Recruit that talent. Provide them with a nice place to fall.

They may look for something more stable or some place where they feel more of a sense of ownership. Your business could be the answer they’re looking for!

#3 – Go after the large company’s small customers.
With the cuts they’re making, they have few resources to take care of their customers. It’s the old 80/20 rule – they’re likely to super-serve the 20% of their customers that constitute 80% of their sales. Then they may cut back on service for all the rest.

Go after these customers that are facing reduced service. They may be a small account to a large company, but they may be one of your biggest customers!

 

 

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