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Posts Tagged ‘Customer Service’

Are You Using Testimonials to Build Your Business?

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Testimonials are a terrific way to help market your quilt or creative arts business. It’s word-of-mouth advertising, only you get to decide who hears it and what is heard. While you may get unsolicited testimonials, it’s a good idea for you to actually ask for a response. In some cases you might want to offer a thank you gift for the comment. Here are some ideas to try:

1. For the fiber artist or longarm quilter who has finished a commission, include a self-addressed stamped reply postcard with the work. Ask for comments that will help you in the future. You might try: Was the communication between quilter and customer adequate? Was the project completed in an appropriate time frame? Encourage the buyer to send you a photo of the quilt in use and ask for any other comments. If you want to thank the person giving you the testimonial, perhaps a small discount on a future order is possible.

2. For the teacher, include an additional comments line on your evaluation form. You’ll not only get ideas to improve your classes, but you’ll also get wonderful and heartfelt comments to use as testimonials.

3. Any book author can tell you how valuable the testimonial blurbs are on the back cover of their book. You will need to ask someone if he or she would be willing to write a blurb and then provide a galley copy of your book for reading. A published book might be a nice thank you for the testimonial.

4. If you sell a product to the general public, you can include a comment card in your packaging. You can request that someone leave a comment on your website or return the comment card via regular mail. Another idea would be to encourage feedback from the user. All products include some written material. You can add a couple sentences about how excited you’ll be to hear back from the user about their experiences with the product. You’ll be surprised at the response you’ll get. I think this would be quite effective for pattern designers.

5. For shop owners it’s easy to get testimonials either with a return card with a purchase or a comment card box somewhere in the store.

After you start receiving these comments, don’t forget to pat yourself on the back. You are delivering a great product and building an ongoing relationship with your customers.

What do you do with the testimonials as you get them? Be sure to include them in all your advertising. Here are some specific ideas:

1. Create a page for testimonials on your website. We have one we call Success Stories. You could also intersperse them throughout your site.

2. Include testimonials in your catalog. For example, a pattern designer might include a testimonial about how easy to follow her instructions are.

3. Include testimonials in your tri-fold brochure if you are are teacher or do commission work. It lets potential customers know the value of your work.

4. Include testimonials in any of your print ads. Study ads in magazines to see how testimonials are used.

5. Include testimonials on your product packaging, if space permits. It might be limited to just a few lines, but it could make a difference in someone buying the product.

Lastly, remember you don’t have to use the whole testimonial. You can use an excerpt, just be sure to keep it in context.

How do you gather and use testimonials in your business? Please leave a reply and share your experiences.

Do You Provide Extraordinary Service?

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Last week I mentioned that during my vacation the hotel staff asked how they could make our stay more pleasurable. It got me thinking about extraordinary service and how rare it is today. Have you ever experienced extraordinary service? More importantly, do you provide extraordinary service?

I can think of several examples when someone in my family received extraordinary service. One that always comes to mind is my husband’s experience with Nordstrom. Service is legendary at Nordstrom, and I know a quilt shop owner who took a part-time job at Nordstrom to learn its service training. Back to my story: My husband purchased a suit at Nordstrom and on the first wearing, he caught the sleeve on the rear windshield wiper of the SUV, and it tore. We called the store to see if they could get another jacket or fabric so their tailor could replace the sleeve, anything to avoid a loss. It was irreparable. What happened next falls into the extraordinary category. My husband’s salesman called and offered my husband any suit in the store as a replacement, gratis. Wow, that’s extraordinary.

For me, when I stop at the local quilt shop, ordinary would be greeting me and asking if I need help. Moving toward extraordinary might be steering me toward the new items. It would be telling me what fabric has just arrived or the experiences of customers with some of the newer notions. It would be asking me to share my latest project. It might be showing me photos of samples other customers made to inspire me or introducing me to other customers or inviting me to the local sit and stitch at your shop. Really extraordinary might be giving me a fat quarter folded into a flower because it was my birthday, or I just moved into town, or I was having a really bad day.

I think what takes ordinary service to extraordinary is that it establishes a personal relationship between the parties. It’s an experience for the receiver, and, as the receiver, it’s one you want to share with anyone who will listen. And, it’s one that reaps rewards for the giver way beyond the service provided. I also believe this extraordinary attitude also starts at the top, and the business owner needs to look for ways to encourage her employees to provide extraordinary service. I’m not saying do this for everyone or all the time. It’s hard enough to be excellent every day, all day. Try looking for for simple ways that you can express support, affection and a desire to serve your customers in an extraordinary way. Here are some suggestions:

1. Have some fat quarters set aside for gifting on a random basis.

2. Have a quarterly luncheon and invite some of your best customers. And, ask them to bring a friend.

3. Today we rarely send or receive much handwritten mail. Once a week, send a handwritten note to one of your customers thanking them for their business.

4. Call your customer on her birthday.

5. Ask one of your customers to stop back in the office, share a cup of coffee and treat, and get to know him or her.

Once you start to look for ways to provide extraordinary service, you’ll find the ideas are endless. These “extraordinary  extras” will set you apart, strengthen your relationships and remind your customers that they aren’t simply the source of your business income.

Please share some examples of extraordinary service you provide.

The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business. Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership and join here.

Are you serving your customers?

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

Do you know what your customers want or need? Do you know what you’re doing right or what you can do better? I’ve been asking myself these questions, and I want to know more about my customers, what they need and how I can help them build and grow their businesses. And the only way I’m going to learn more is to ask them. So, that’s what I’m doing this week.

Please take a few minutes to answer some questions that will help me help you. I’ve put together a survey that I think will give me some great insights into what you are looking for, what information you value, and how you like to receive that information.  As a thank you for completing the survey, I’ll give you a 10% discount on your IAPQ membership.

Click here to begin the survey.

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