Keeping your customers happy is no easy task. We talked to one of the world's leading customer service experts Chip Bell about what makes clients stay loyal and what obstacles companies face when trying to improve customer service:
1. It’s not exactly a secret that great customer service is a key to success to today’s hypercompetitive environment. People have been talking about this for years. Yet one can’t say that we’ve progressed a lot and customer service today is much better than, say, 20 years ago, at least as far as an average company is concerned. Why is that?
Blame it on Amazon, Disney, UPS, USAA, etc. who provide great experiences to customers. It has elevated the standard for "great customer service." After customers log on Amazon, they look at every other website through Amazon eyes. When the UPS delivery person walks fast delivering a customer's package, the USPS mail carrier gets painted with the same brush. Disney friendly raises the ante on the next receptionist or sales clerk the customer encounters. Another factor is the short term, quarter-to-quarter preoccupation some organizations have with the bottom line. Great customer service is an investment. And, there is not the quantitative cause and effect capacity to measure return that a company might have with adding a branch or new product. Yet, look at the organizations selected as the best customer service companies and they are also on the most profitable lists.
The beginning of a new year is a great time for resolutions. Better than resolutions, however, are simple but specific changes you can make right now that will help you make this a more productive year.
1. Think small, not big. We like to talk about big goals and big dreams. That's not a bad thing, but when we only look at the big picture, we can miss out on the small actions that we need to take on a daily basis.
You can work up your energy and motivation, and make a few great big leaps forward. However, it's far more effective to cultivate the habit of small but consistent progress.
Think of making regular bits of progress rather than huge surges toward your goal. You can't maintain the focus and energy required for those all-out effort. You can, however, maintain a tiny, daily habit or a weekly step forward. Break big goals into smaller goals, and then into tiny actions that you build into your daily routine.
2. Limit your to-do list. An overgrown to-do list requires you to spend your valuable time sorting, prioritizing, and shuffling tasks instead of getting important work done.
It's okay to admit your limits. The sooner you do, the sooner you can start completing tasks instead of simply moving and managing tasks.
Limit your daily list to one to three important tasks that you must complete. You will gain immediate clarity. You know what you're supposed to do, and you can focus on it and let other things fade out. There will always be unplanned tasks and questions that come up in your day. You will have to handle those, but then you can go right back to the important tasks on your list without any hesitation.
Reaching good goals starts with knowing how to set the right goals for your team. Once you get the right goals in place, knowing how to lead your team to accomplish their goals set you up for even more success.
Team Goal Setting 101
Team Purpose All goals for your team should come from your team's purpose. Clearly define your team's purpose, but don't stop there. Remind your team of the purpose often. Put the team purpose in team communications. Open meetings (and close them) with a reminder of the primary team purpose.
This kind of repetition seems childish, but it is very effective in management. Jack Welch, 20-year CEO of General Electric, said, "In leadership you have to exaggerate every statement you make. You’ve got to repeat it a thousand times." Repeating your team's purpose to yourself - and to your team - will help you all choose and focus on goals that line up with it.
What small business couldn't use a little more cash and a little less financial stress? Here are several ways to cut costs now so you can focus on growing your business.
1. Know where your money is going. The first way to save money is to know how you're spending it. If you are not intimately acquainted with your financial reports, now is the time to get friendly. Get a list of expenses and arrange by priority, then by cost. The low-priority, high-cost items are the ones you should immediately find ways to eliminate or reduce.
2. Research your options. That insurance plan, Internet service, or tech support you signed on for might have been the best option when you got it. Things change, however. Options appear. Got through your list of high-cost expenses and research new options that would reduce your costs. If you focus on researching one or two per week, you might find better, less-expensive options for a dozen of your highest expenses within a few months. Even if the savings on each expense are not huge, the cumulative effect of small savings on a dozen expenses adds up to big reduction in expenses.
Remote staff benefit from the flexibility and self-direction they have in their jobs; but they can also be at a distinct disadvantage if they feel disconnected.
It's important to make sure that your remote workers are not only equipped, but engaged and aware, fully part of the team.
1. Hold regular team meetings with all staff.
A regular meeting offers all the staff, both on-location and remote, a chance to stay connected with each other and with the team leader. If you want your team to work together well, this is not an optional exercise. Use the time to review goals, explain areas of focus, set agendas and timelines, get input and reports, and discuss any issues or ideas.
Choose a regular time: weekly, bimonthly, or monthly could work. Set it as a recurring event so that everyone can put it on their calendars.
Limit the meeting time: there's nothing wrong with a bit of socializing (in fact, that's kind of the point) but if you let the meeting eat up more than 60 - 90 minutes, people will start to resent the loss of valuable work time. Respect everyone's time by setting a clear starting and ending point, and sticking to them.
2. Set up virtual break rooms and command centers.
What remote staff tend to miss out on are the "unofficial" interactions that take place, daily, in an office environment. Help them find a meaningful way to interact by setting up a virtual “break room,” such as an instant message service used by all team members.
Being productive in a mobile environment gives us a great set of tools for getting work done on the go, but it also creates a unique set of challenges for dealing with customer issues.
Is it okay to call a customer from a noisy airport terminal? What if you can't get consistent wifi to handle customer needs? How do you solve a customer issue when you don't have all the documentation or details at your fingertips?
DO get in touch with your unhappy customer as quickly as possible.
Don't use your mobile environment or travel plans as an excuse to avoid handling a sticky customer issue. Even if the best you can do is a quick email, take the time to let your customer know you are doing all that you can to solve the problem and come up with the right solution.
Holidays bring a general air of festivity and a whole list of traditions, from office parties to tree-trimming to gift exchanges, fundraisers, and community service opportunities. Then there are more vacation days than usual, plus, for many businesses, a huge rush in work orders and customer service needs. All the festivity can cause a lot of disruption to work getting done.
You don't want to be a Scrooge, but none of us can afford to be unproductive for weeks even for the holidays. Try these tips to stay festive and stay productive.
1. Stick to your daily routines as much as possible.
When our schedules change, we tend to react to those changes by changing our routines. Sometimes that's appropriate, but often those routines can help us find our place even in the midst of chaos. When you find your daily schedule getting crowded or interrupted, do your best to stick to your routines, even if you have to adjust them a bit.
Social media is all about connection and networking, but it's also distraction and procrastination in their finest, pixelated forms.
Help your team use social media productively with these tips.
Define the End Goals for Social Media Use
Who's doing what, and why?
Social media professionals know that without clear goals, social media use becomes a chaotic mess of button-clicking and key-tapping. You have to know what you're attempting in order to know if you're getting close.