Raving Fans

raving fan imageOne of my favourite business books is “Raving Fans – A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service” by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles.  Published in 1993, the concepts in this book are as relevant today as they were then – perhaps even more so. One of the best ways to increase customer retention is to simply over deliver whenever possible. Giving your customers or clients more than they were expecting is a great way to keep them returning to your store or website (read: “raving fan”).

Who doesn’t like to get free stuff?

How can you over deliver to your customers as often as possible? Here are some unique customer service ideas to get you started (not surprisingly, it’s the little things that count and it doesn’t have to cost much).

  1. Give your customer a bonus, this could be a sample product, access to a coaching call or access to a private mastermind;
  2. Send them an article or a website link about something you know they’re interested in;
  3. Offer your customer a coupon for a discount on their next purchase. This also helps to get your customers visiting your store or website again. You could also offer a free sample, a consultation or a buy one get one free;
  4. If you offer a service, the best way to over deliver is to get the project finished ahead of time. Beating deadlines is a wonderful way to add value to your own offers and gain lifelong customers;
  5. Small gestures can go a long way in gaining appreciative customers. Sending a handwritten thank-you note by regular mail is one way to achieve this. Other small gestures include sending birthday and anniversary cards, or any number of other card ideas. (Tip: ‘Lumpy mail’ gets opened more often than flat mail…)
  6. Why not set up something such as a Customer of the Month or Customer Shout Out. Here you would thank your customer or highlight something they did that you thought was really cool;
  7. Invite them on an outing at your cost and go with them – a round of golf, a cycling trip, concert, festival. This is a fantastic way to build rapport with your customers and shows them you care.

Don’t forget to celebrate with your clients and customers and even fellow business owners. If they win a new contract or make a significant improvement in their business, send them a card or small gift. This sends the message that you’re paying attention.

Another fantastic way to over deliver to your present customers is to network with other business owners. Refer local businesses that offer quality services and products, which you do not carry. By doing this, you create resources for your customers and clients and you also help support local business. Always be sure to check out these sources first though because your reputation is on the line. You don’t want to recommend a bad resource or product to anyone.

 

 

The High Price of ‘Doing the Paperwork’

When you think of the most expensive admin assistant on the Planet, you might think of someone like Tony Stark’s assistant who puts up with all his quirks, but who is handsomely paid for her hardship. Or a billionaire’s assistant who is available 24/7 and at a moment’s notice may be called upon to drop everything and jump on a plane to Tokyo to attend meetings with their boss. You might think that…… and you would be wrong.

YOU.. yes.. you… are the most expensive admin assistant on the planet.

How can this be true? It’s because studies show that administrative tasks take up as much as 25% of an organization’s time.

So, what does this mean? Before we even talk about the dollar cost of this truth let’s talk about time. As a business owner, working a very conservative 60 hours a week, this equates to 15 hours per week. Which may not seem like that much, but how about when we look at the annual cost of this truth?

720 HOURS per year the average business owner spends on administrative tasks, that’s THREE MONTHS!  Take that 720 hours and multiply by your client charge out rate.  Not only is that a lot of money for doing back-office work that you shouldn’t be doing in the first place, it’s also money you haven’t billed because you’ve been doing “the paperwork”.  If you outsourced these tasks alone at a much lower rate (hopefully) than you bill your clients, just think what you could do with an extra three month’s worth of time and a whole lot of extra money every year!!!

  • How could your organization grow?
  • What activities could you do with your family?
  • How could you invest in your network and members?
  • How could you serve your community?

If you have ever thought, “if only I had more time…” (you know that’s just an excuse, right?!?) and yet repeatedly find yourself burning the midnight oil filing invoices, inputting information into a database, updating your social media (or wishing you had time for social media)…

Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day so why not change things up and use those hours to full advantage?

Customer Loyalty :: a study in opposites

gift “Before the pandemic, I was making arrangements for my summer holiday to the U.K.  Among those many arrangements and bookings I had to make, two stood out in my mind – each of which are a great example of customer loyalty, how to build it and how to lose it quickly.

The first experience was with a large, well known mail order firm in the U.S. I had purchased travel clothing for my trip and not everything fit well so I had to return a few things. The return slip was easy to complete and advise what I wanted done with the returned items.

Rather than me hunting all over the house for a copy of their catalogue, they included one with the order so it would be easy to find substitutions if I wanted. They included a pre-printed return label within its own folded card with instructions. These few easy to do steps made the return of the clothing really easy and hassle free to the extent that I just had to fill in the sender address on the label, tape up the box and drop off at my local post office. It was almost a joy to return the things I didn’t want. Will I purchase from them again? Absolutely!

The other experience was with a tour operator for an excursion of a now well-known castle in Britain. I had made the booking back in March and I was so happy that the date was available as it was going to be one of my last days in Britain – I really lucked out! I was so looking forward to it even though it was 6 months away.

In May, I received a notice by email that my booking was cancelled and asked what other date would I like to choose? I replied by saying it was the only date I was available for the tour and requested that my money be refunded. I waited a week and sent them a reminder. A couple of days after that, they requested my PayPal account address. A week later I checked my account and there was considerably less money in my account than the original amount I paid. There was no explanation by email for the difference. I researched their website to see if there was a cancellation policy, none to be found. I emailed again advising what I had paid and what I had received as a refund and requested they remit the difference immediately. Will I purchase from them again? Absolutely not! Will I recommend them? Not a chance.

In both these situations, the return process is handled by using a few simple steps to keep the customer (me) happy and coming back. One of them has it perfected; the other has a lot to learn!

Do you have any customer loyalty examples to share that we can all learn from? Please comment and feel free to social share below. Thanks!

The Value of Black Goo

I was in denial. My driveway needed re-sealing for quite a few years and I was really hoping the night fairies would come and do it for me. Alas, no. A couple of summers ago, I thought I’d do it myself: get the bucket of black goo and the roller from the DIY store and spend time in 35C heat rolling said black goo on  my 2 cars wide and 2 cars long driveway. I never quite got around to it. I’m not a procrastinator but somehow I always managed to justify my lack of dedication to this part of home ownership.

About a month ago, a young man from 2 streets away knocked on my door and told me that he had a new business re-sealing driveways for the summer. He was studying accounting at university and thought this type of business venture would help him in school. (Great idea!)

I asked him how much to do the job and he said $195 tax in. I had to think about it – that’s quite a bit of money just to roll out a bucketful of black goo. I looked at my dismal driveway and thought woefully how long I had been putting off the task. I called him back to say that I would take him up on his offer. We scheduled the work for the following day.

My hero came over close to supper time the next day and while I was preparing the meal, I checked in on the progress by periodically going back and forth between the kitchen and the living room. The first thing I saw was him power spraying all the weeds out from between the driveway and the curb. I didn’t even think of that. The next trip to the living room I saw him power spraying the entire surface of the driveway. I would have swept the driveway; I didn’t even think of power spraying it. Then he taped off the entire perimeter of the driveway so that no black goo would get on the lawn. After that, he manually filled in all the cracks and holes (there were many). Only then did he roll out the black goo.

By the time he finished, that $195 was the best money I ever spent for value of work. Not only did he save me the labour of doing that type of work in the summer’s heat, he also provided value because he knew what he was doing. He’s done a lot of driveways and has a level of expertise that I will never have (nor wish to have). Sure, I could have done it, but outsourcing this task yielded much better quality results and freed up my time. Now I have this task off my to-do list.

There is value in everything we do, both personally and professionally; our expertise in what we do daily provides value to others.   What do you need help with in your daily life?  In my view, it’s worthwhile seeking out resources to help you get things done, things that you don’t know how to do, or have no wish to learn how to do, and free up your time on what matters most to you.  Agree? Disagree?

No Excuses: the art of follow-up

why is consumer relations important

Just a little reminder today that the art of the follow up is now easier than ever. Why? Because of our ever-increasing virtual world of electronic media, social media, video, audio, smart phones and goodness knows what else will be available tomorrow!

Add these resources to what were used even 10 years ago, and there really is no reason not to follow up with your donors and sponsors for their contribution and to keep in touch with your members.

It’s so easy for organizations to post to their donors’ and sponsors’ Facebook feeds: send them a text message, record a personal video or send an email. On top of this you can use Skype, Facebook or Google Chat or Hangouts to connect and have a virtual coffee break to check in.  AND add to this the more traditional ways of keeping in touch with cards, notes and gifts in the regular “snail” mail, there’s no excuse not to keep in touch with your networks.  Personally, I like to mail hand-written cards and gifts.  From a marketing perspective, there’s nothing more alluring than ‘lumpy’ mail, so include a pen, a block of sticky notes or a little gift with a card; the chances of that piece of mail being opened will increase exponentially.  Even if you just write thank-you (for your time, for your call, for your donation, for your sponsorship…), doing so will go a long way. The combinations you can use to keep in touch are endless!

While most organizations spend time recruiting potential members, sponsors and donors, what about your current members, sponsors and donors? Do you ever thank them, take them out to lunch or send them a birthday card or gift? Your current database of contacts are your biggest fans and the most likely to refer. Stay connected with them and nurture those relationships! It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money – it’s the thought that counts.

Finding The Confidence to Speak

Being invited to speak at an in person or virtual event can be a wonderful honour given to the potential speaker by those who want to hear the speaker’s message and share it with others. However, for some, it can be a great cause of anxiety and fear, with the thought that all those eyes will be on them and focused on everything that’s said.

The ability to be a good speaker doesn’t always go hand in hand with the ability to do it easily. It takes practice. I have spoken with many who are fantastic speakers, but they are extremely nervous before hand to the point of being physically ill. Just remember, if you are in this group of uneasy speakers, you’re not alone!  So, then what? What can be done to make this easier, or at least get you through it?

Keep these few things in mind when getting ready to speak to a group when you may be feeling less than confident:

Your audience is there because they want to be: For the most part, people attending a conference, meeting or lecture are there because they chose to be there, they want to hear your message and will be supportive of your efforts. Attendees tend to not be judgmental, are not making snap decisions about you based on your haircut, clothes etc. and are there to hear what you have to say, even if they’re there not by choice (perhaps they have been instructed to go by their boss), these attendees, will most likely just listen politely.

Change your worry to excitement: This is a tough one because you’re so focused on the negative aspects of what you think may happen. What if you switched your thought process and redirected it to excitement at the possibilities of doing a great job? Go into it with a positive outlook and understand that even if it doesn’t go the way you want, you still did it! You would have accomplished a major step in your own personal development and that’s awesome!

Practice and prepare: Practicing the presentation before hand helps a lot. Try getting a small audience together or even just practice by yourself. Give yourself a few days in advance to do this. Go through and read your presentation, re-write if you have to and make a few speaking notes for yourself as a guide. By taking these steps to practice and prepare, you’ll be more familiar with the material, therefore making it easier to engage in a conversational type of presentation and making eye contact with your audience, instead of looking at your notes. Another great place to practice amongst a supportive group would be to contact your local Toastmaster’s group.

Know the environment: If you’re in-person, make yourself familiar with the presentation venue and environment so you’re more comfortable before speaking. Arrive ahead of time, sit in various places in the room for a few minutes to get different visual perspectives and get settled in.  Own the space.

Interact with your audience: If you’re worried about the audience getting bored, make sure to leave room for people to ask questions. Listening to their questions can give you a little break as well to take a drink of water and re-group as needed. This can also help you gain some extra time on your presentation if it seems to be too short. Remember to be welcoming of questions and stay calm.

Take care of yourself: Get plenty of rest, eat well and taking the time to pamper yourself a little before the presentation day provides a little extra boost and don’t forget to give yourself a little time to use the restroom before the presentation. Make sure you have some water by your side to take sips to avoid a dry mouth while speaking. If possible, make sure you’re already standing up a few minutes before the presentation, so you don’t have to maneuver around obstacles to get to your place.

Are you in the audience? Perhaps you are reading this and are not a speaker, but frequently attend presentations. Why not do what you can to make the speaker feel confident and perhaps let them know what you enjoyed in their presentation? We’re all in this together. No matter the size of the group you are speaking to, you can do it and there are people in your audience that are in your corner. Be excited for this opportunity – you’ll do great!