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Archive for the ‘Customer Service’ Category

What Message Does Your Environment Send?

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

Have you given much thought to the message that your environment sends? This could be the space that you invite the public to enter, whether that’s a storefront or your website. It could even be your personal workspace. Recently I had two interactions that brought this to the forefront.

The Chef

Last year I had lunch with a friend at Petit Louis, a small French restaurant in Columbia, MD. It was a delightful meal, and we both commented on the relaxed and inviting environment. An added plus was the tile floor we both shot photos of.

Because of that experience, I read with additional interest a business article in the food section of the Washington Post about Cindy Wolf, one of the owners of Petit Louis. She was nominated for the sixth time for a James Beard award for Best Chef Mid-Atlantic for Charleston Restaurant in Baltimore. Cindy, along with her partner and former husband Tony Foreman, own Foreman Wolf, a restaurant group. The group owns and operates six restaurants and two wine shops, and the two owners also host a local radio show weekly.

Read more…

Do You Zappos?

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

doyouzappos

I am sure many of you have purchased from Zappos? They have great customer service, free shipping, 365-day return policy, someone to answer your questions 24/7/365. Plus all those shoes! What is not to like?

Have you looked at the service you offer your customers? Shoes aside, how does it stack up to Zappos?

Read more…

How Do You Treat Your Ideal Customer?

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

 

takemehomeLast week I wrote about discovering your ideal customer. I am always delighted when I shop somewhere and see that I am valued as a customer.

 

One of my favorite shops to visit when I am at my home in St. Michaels, Md., is Take Me Home. It is quite a challenge, and one I cannot meet, to leave without a little something. Recently I picked up some cute cards for my sisters and myself. The cards had our dog breeds on them — a golden retriever, a greyhound, and a havanese.

 

One of the joys of shopping here is the shopping experience. The owner opened her shop about seven years ago and has an eclectic mix of items with quotes, whimsical designs, soaps and other household gifts and accessories. She puts herself in her customer’s place when she thinks about her merchandise mix. She is always engaging with each person who visits. And she looks for creating an experience for her customer that lasts beyond the visit to the store. One way she does this is in her packaging. It does not matter how much you spend (I spent less than $15); the package is special. My purchase was delivered to me in a nice toile-design paper bag with the store label. The item was wrapped in tissue paper and then two decorative papers were stuffed in the top of the bag and it was finished with a satin bow on one bag handle. It looks so good that I almost did not want to share the gifts!

 

What are you doing to create an experience for your customers? It could be in the packaging. It could be in the greeting you offer when they come into the shop. It could be the invitation to join you for a cup of tea and a sharing of your customer’s latest quilt. It could be a nice note you tuck into the shipment with your wholesale orders.

 

If your actions have the same as my favorite little shop, you will have lots of repeat business. I cannot wait to check out what is new each time I am in town, and as I said, I do not leave without a little something.

 

Please share how you make your customers’ experience special below. You may also leave a comment on the ICAP Facebook or Google+ pages.

 

 

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WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE?
Please do! Just use it in its entirety and be sure to include the blurb below:

Morna McEver is the founder and CEO of the International Association of Creative Arts Professionals where creative arts entrepreneurs craft business success. Her weekly e-zine offers tips, techniques and inspiration to help you craft business success from your creative arts passion. You can sign up for a FREE subscription at http://www.creativeartsprofessional.com.

 

WANT TO SEE MORE ARTICLE LIKE THIS?

See the ICAP blog at http://www.creativeartsprofessionals.com/weblog/

 

 

Are You Asking for What You Want?

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

frankie

My two-week vacation in Aruba  was ending and my husband and I were on the way to the airport. As I often do, I engaged in conversation with our cab driver. Frankie was a native Aruban and had lived in Aruba his entire life. He had been driving his cab for 27 years. He shared some stories about politics, how the island has changed over the years and his restaurant recommendations for our next visit.

 

My husband asked Frankie if he had met many “famous” people over the years. He told us about driving Rev. Jesse Jackson to the airport for a last minute flight from his cruise ship back to the States. He was Ice Cube’s personal driver during a weekend wedding a few summers back.

 

The passenger he was most excited about was boxer Evander Holyfield. Evander (we are obviously on a first name basis) had come to Aruba for the annual Soul Beach Music Festival. Frankie spent several days driving him and also watched the event with him.

 

How did that job come about? Frankie is a big boxing fan so he followed Evander. He also knew about the festival and that Evander would be coming. Frankie wrote to Evander, who lived in Atlanta, and offered his services. As they say, the rest is history.

 

I loved hearing Frankie share this story. He wanted something and he asked for it. That was a simple reminder of a powerful lesson from my cab driver. Ask and it is given.

What have you asked for lately? There is a saying, ask and you shall receive. I welcome your response below or on a ICAP Facebook or Google+ pages.

– – – – – – – – – –

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE?
Please do! Just use it in its entirety and be sure to include the blurb below:

Morna McEver is the founder and CEO of the International Association of Creative Arts Professionals where creative arts entrepreneurs craft business success. Her weekly e-zine offers tips, techniques and inspiration to help you craft business success from your creative arts passion. You can sign up for a FREE subscription at http://www.creativeartsprofessional.com.

 

WANT TO SEE MORE ARTICLE LIKE THIS?

See the ICAP blog at http://www.creativeartsprofessionals.com/weblog/

 

Do You Follow These Four Rules?

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

small__3172736983About 10 years ago my husband worked with Toronto-based Strategic Coach, a firm run by Dan Sullivan. Dan and his staff worked with entrepreneurs on issues ranging from “strategy creation” to “work/life balance” and from “developing intellectual capital” to “creating and implementing exit strategies.” Because my husband would share the lessons, I felt like I was learning right along with him. One of the lessons that stuck with me was what Dan calls “The Referability Habits.”

 

If you stop and think about any success that you have experienced, it is because of a relationship. You do not just create the success by yourself. I see this everyday in myself and my clients. And, if you think about it, your most powerful testimonial is “word of mouth.” That’s your best customers wanting to introduce others to you, so that you can help them. Why do they do this? It is not just because you do a good job. According to Dan, you have developed four key habits. If you have these four habits, you will get referrals. Here they are.

 

1. Show up on time. How many of us making punctuality a priority? I believe that when we are late, we are saying that our time is more important than the person we are meeting with. It is rude behavior, and I doubt any of us wants to be perceived as rude. Allow yourself time to be on time, maybe even a bit early.

 

2. Do What You Say. This is all about commitment. Your word is your word. Do not over commit, keep a schedule so you know what you committed to, and follow-through. And this applies to everyone in your life and business, even yourself.

 

3. Finish What You Start. Do you ever get excited about a project and then get sidetracked and don’t finish it? Keep at it until it is fully done. To do this, you have to know what the finish looks like, so spend time figuring that out and follow through until you reach the goal.

 

4. Say “please” and “thank you.” We learned this common courtesy early on as children. I know I learned this from my parents. I still remember it being reinforced as the two little magic words from Captain Kangaroo. Doesn’t it make you feel good when you hear those words? It makes others feel good to hear them.

 

What do the four rules have in common? They show respect and appreciation for the other person. They let you build a level of trust and you become a valuable resource for the other person. And, it makes you a referable person. These are great every-day strategies to incorporate into your life.

 

Do you have others you might like to add?

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photo credit: Leo Reynolds via photopin cc

What’s Your ROR?

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

RORI know you’ve heard of ROI – return on your investment. It’s where you figure out if the amount of money you invest comes back to you at a greater return, whether that is a profit or cost savings. You may have heard of ROTI – return on your time invested. You look at where you are investing your time and determining whether or not it produces a return. I have a new one to share: ROR – Return on Relationships.

This week I was thinking about a conversation I had with a client last month. She was lamenting all the time she spent working on an unpaid design project for someone. This was not the first time she had agreed to do this type of project. And, while she thought the exposure would be good, it had not panned out exactly as she thought. Yet she continued to say yes whenever this particular company came calling. Not only that, she was starting to feel stressed by the amount of work she was unable to get done, work that would actually bring money in the door. The problem was that she did not want to “upset the apple cart” by telling this company no or discussing how the arrangement could be altered.

I am sure you can figure out her ROR was zero. Yes, sometimes we take on projects because of the potential in the future. And, I know I have done that. At some point, though, you have to look at your business and ask whether or not is really the right approach. Your goal should be to create a win-win proposition, a cooperative environment that focuses on mutual benefits for all the parties. When that happens, everyone feels good.

Do you have examples in your business or life with low or no ROR? What did you do to change that?

What is Your Customer’s Experience

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

TakeMeHomeBagOne of my favorite shops to visit when I’m at my home in St. Michaels, Md., is Take Me Home. It is quite a challenge – and one I cannot meet – to leave without a little something. This time I picked up two small treats, a gift for my sister to celebrate her new dog and a some clever napkins for my book club.

One of the joys of shopping here is the shopping experience. The owner opened her shop about five years ago and has an eclectic mix of items with quotes, whimsical designs, soaps and other household gifts and accessories. She puts herself in her customer’s place when she thinks about her merchandise mix. She is always engaging with each person who visits. And she looks for creating an experience for her customer that lasts beyond the visit to the store. One way she does this is in her packaging. It doesn’t matter how much you spend (I only spent $15); the package is special. My purchase was delivered to me in a nice toile-design paper bag with the store label. The item was wrapped in tissue paper and then two decorative papers were stuffed in the top of the bag and it was finished with a satin bow on one bag handle. It looks so good that I almost don’t want to give my sister the present!

What are you doing to create an experience for your customers? It could be in the packaging. It could be in the greeting you offer when they come into the shop. It could be the invitation to join you for a cup of tea and a sharing of your customer’s latest quilt. It could be a nice note you tuck into the shipment with your wholesale orders.

Please share how you make your customers’ experience special on the blog.

Consider It Done

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

CID ButtonEver wonder if anyone actually puts the slogans they spout to heart? Well, I found that to be the case during our recent Mastermind meeting at the Doubletree by Hilton BWI Airport in Baltimore, Md. The hotel’s motto is C.I.D. It stands for Consider It Done and it was the brainchild of Adam Novotny, the hotel’s general manager. The employees wear the pin shown to the right. And, when I would ask a question, I often heard “Consider It Done,” and it was. From the management to the dining room staff to the cleaning crew, everyone exhibited a friendly attitude and clearly wanted our meeting to be a good experience and it was.

The experience got me thinking again about how our customers think about our businesses. What qualities are important for you to leave with your customers: being friendly, handling orders/questions within a certain time frame, being sure your customers have a positive experience, providing extra touches? I’m sure you can come up with others.

It would be a valuable exercise to write down the values you bring or want to bring into your business and how you interact with your customers for a week.

Next, think about the systems that you could create to see that your business continues to express these values.

Please share your insights below this blog.

Do You Zappos

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

I’m sure many of you have purchased from Zappos? They have great customer service, free shipping, 365-day return policy, someone to answer your questions 24/7/365. Plus all those shoes! What’s not to like?

Have you looked at the service you offer your customers? Shoes aside, how does it stack up to Zappos?

One of my private coaching clients has set an intention for the year to Zappos! She is aiming for 100% customer satisfaction. To do that she is going back over all her processes, and she is creating written standards and checklists to be sure that every product she offers can be a 100% satisfaction for her customers.

Is this one of your goals? Here are some tips:

1. Customer satisfaction begins from the first time someone is aware of your existence. People will draw conclusions about you and your product from the first time they are aware you exist. They also draw conclusions based on anything and everything. For example, if you fly on an airplane and the trays are dirty, you might think that if the company doesn’t care about the cleanliness of the plane, they aren’t maintaining the engines. That could be extreme, but look at it in relation to your business. If you consistently have mistakes in your pattern directions, that leaves a negative impression on your customers.

2. Take time to write what your standards are and communicate them to your team and your customers. You can include on your website, if appropriate.

3. How do you let your customers know that you value them? It could be extra help on a project, following up personally on their experience, or offering a special gift with a purchase.

4. While your goal is 100%, you may not get there right away. You need to have a process for measuring your results and making adjustments.

What are your customer service standards? How do you measure your results and make adjustments? Please share your thoughts below.

 

Are You Selling Benefits Not Features?

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Defining your product is key to creating a good marketing plan. To define your product, you consider both its features and its benefits. One of the keys to marketing is to sell the benefits not the features. How do you know the difference?

Features characterize the product; benefits are why we buy the product. Features are easy to describe. Examples could include size, color, design, hours of business, fabric content, years of business experience.

Benefits are more difficult to define. They do, however, answer your customer’s question, “What’s in it for me?” When you buy products, you don’t buy because of a feature; you buy because of a benefit. Benefit is the value attributed to the feature of the product; in other words, it’s the result of the feature. Benefits are not as easy to describe and are often intangible. The most compelling benefits are those that deliver emotional or financial rewards. Emotional rewards let the buyer feel good. Examples could be shopping at an online retailer who donates a percentage of your purchase to a charity you choose or sending a quilt to someone to let you express love. Products that offer financial rewards usually save time or money, offer convenience or make you money.

How do you determine the benefits of your product or service? Start by knowing who your customers are and then look at your product from their point of view. Who are your customers? Are they baby boomers with expendable income? Are they Gen Xers? Are they teens and tweens? Are they working mothers with little free time? You might be trying to reach a variety of groups and need to consider benefits for each of them. Consider also who has purchased your product or service in the past. What does your customer profile tell you about your product? For example, do you sell your product to customers who might be retired and have extra time for long-range projects? Do you sell your product to working mothers who want something quick and easy? Do most of your store’s customers shop after 5 p.m. and on weekends? Ask your customers to help identify your product’s benefits. You could do this informally or with a survey. Your customers might even identify benefits you didn’t consider.

Developing your benefits statement is an ongoing process. As you continue to market your product, be aware of additional benefits. You might ask your customers for suggestions to your product or service. Pay attention to complaints or unsolicited comments about your product. Also, consider what your competition is doing. Additionally, consider how you’ll package your product. You might find a benefit there.

Once you’ve established your benefits statements, you will be able to describe your products in ways that are important to your customer. You will do this in all aspects of promotion, whether that is in creating your marketing collateral, advertising your product, writing articles or speaking one-on-one to customers about your product. You will also be able to differentiate your product from that of your competitors. You will be able to provide a benefit to your customers that your competition cannot. Now you’re on your way to a successful marketing strategy.

Please  share your thoughts on creating your product’s or service’s benefits below on our blog.

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