Three Customer Service Tips for the Digital Age

Three Customer Service Tips for the Digital Age

Customer service used to be about your relationships with people that were doing business with you or might do business with you. Back then, you had face-to-face, phone, or mail. Now we live in the Digital Age and have Customer Relationship Management (CRM). What’s changed about customer service? Nothing has changed except the communication delivery options. It’s still about the relationships. We’ve compiled some advice from Carl Phillips, founder of Customer First and principal at Business Evaluation Services, on best practices for customer service in the digital world. I learned about customer service from my dad, an old-school salesman who still believes that it’s about the relationship and taking care of people beyond their expectations. Carl Phillips says, “Always under commit and over deliver. Beat their expectations consistently.” The phone is still an important tool, but conducting business face-to-face is a much smaller portion of the pie.  On the phone or in-person, we have the benefit of interaction through voice, facial expression, and even body language. According to Carl Phillips, electronic communication can lead to the loss of empathy and urgency customers need to sense from you when there’s a problem. For example, an email expressing a problem may lead you to action but not an immediate reply to the customer emphasizing your concern and attention. Tip #1 If you get an email from a customer with a complaint or question, answer it immediately. If you don’t know the solution or answer, say something like this: “Dear Mr. Hollister,  I apologize for the problems with your order. This is unacceptable. I’m working to resolve the problem right now. I’ll...
Donald Trump’s Lessons on Branding

Donald Trump’s Lessons on Branding

Political pundits aren’t the only people predicting a crash for Donald Trump. Marketing and Branding experts also predict “The Donald” may soon regret his 2016 presidential run. There are small business branding lessons worth teasing out of Trump’s approach. Love him or hate him, you can’t help noticing him. Trump possesses two elements critical to business and brand success. Donald Trump’s Background Trump graduated from University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School in 1968. Since then, he’s lived through seven recessions, climbed his way out of $1 billion in personally guaranteed debt, and never filed personal bankruptcy, according to Investopedia. Trump’s wealth came from luxury real estate including hotels, apartments, casinos, golf courses, and more. His brand is built on ostentatious, hard-to-reach, in-your-face luxury and personal boldness. He’s probably known best by the thirty-something crowd for the statement “You’re fired” he so often made on The Apprentice. Trump Possesses Two Key Success Factors In his book, The Art of the Comeback, Trump notes, “If you don’t have passion about who you are, about what you are trying to be, about where you are going, you might as well give up.” Trump, like successful people from Thomas Edison and Henry Ford to Mark Cuban and Jeff Bezos, is not afraid to fail. People who’ve made it big always have some failure story in their past. Mark Cuban told Entrepreneur last year, “It doesn’t matter how many times you fail. Each time only makes you better, stronger, smarter, and you only have to be right once. Just once. Then everyone calls you an overnight success and you feel lucky. I still feel that...
Do those creepy website visitor tracking software programs work?

Do those creepy website visitor tracking software programs work?

Web analytics software is ubiquitous. If you’ve spent thousands of dollars creating a virtual store, it makes sense you’d want to know who’s coming, what makes them buy something, and more importantly why did they leave without at least contacting you. Reportedly, only two percent of web visitors make contact. If you are a B2B company, Lead Forensics could be worth checking out. About two years ago I connected with a sales rep from LeadForensics, a U.K. based web analytic software company with an Atlanta office. They offer “a lead generation tool designed to reveal the identity of your unknown website visitors.” Who needs web tracking? The service is only for B2B companies because they can only track visitors with a static IP address. I’ve recommended Lead Forensics to two clients. One is using the service and had this to say: “I have recommended Lead Forensics to many of my business friends. Their service is excellent. My business continues to struggle since the departments that buy our services could be HR, Marketing, Procurement, Operations, or Loss Prevention. So once you get a lead you never really know who in the company to follow-up with.” How does it work? The way Lead Forensics works is via a tracking link for your website. They set you up with a pretty cool dashboard system that allows you to see company name, phone, address, and website address. It also identifies the full visitor journey, including any search term used to get to your website, pages they landed on, and pages they visited. What good is the information? The idea is that this information allows you...
In-House vs. Outsourcing for Marketing

In-House vs. Outsourcing for Marketing

Chris Zona, Manager of Global Brand Management for Volvo’s Mack Truck Division, sat down with us to discuss in-house versus outsourcing for marketing and, of course, branding. (Please check out chriszona.com for great personal web design and content ideas). Remember brand is your promise. Everything from logo and packaging to how associates treat customers conveys your company brand. Zona says that fear of appearing weak or losing control is why many companies don’t outsource some marketing functions that could generate sales. However, he’s quick to add that before you can assess in-house versus outsourcing, you must know your customer. Your brand’s future depends on how well you know your customer. “Not through your eyes, but the customer’s eyes,” Zona insists. “You’ve got to shop it and talk it like a customer. Get close to them. Find out how they think.” Brand and product loyalty today is fickle because there’s some place else to go for about everything. You often get one shot at delivering what the customer expects. If you fail, they go elsewhere. Even in the rapidly changing Digital Age, relationships are still vital to brand success. Maintaining brand loyalty involves changing to keep up with competitors and customer demands. “Oldsmobile, Hummer, and Block Buster didn’t want to change, and now those brands are irrelevant,” notes Zona. He points to everyone’s favorite example for how to get it right – Apple. They have continually disrupted the music industry over the last decade with no signs of stopping. When Spotify and Pandora undercut ITunes, Apple introduced Apple Music. Who would have guessed that the music industry would have agreed to...
What Kind of Website Do I Need: Breaking down the Lingo and Investment for Small Businesses?

What Kind of Website Do I Need: Breaking down the Lingo and Investment for Small Businesses?

Guest post By Dennis Barber , DMB Web designs   Today, if you are in some form of business, you need a website. According to Research Local, 85 percent of consumers are searching online for products and services. Many people are selling websites either custom, semi-custom, or out-of-the-box. You can expect to pay, on average, from $2,500 for a simple template-based site to $10,000 and way on up for a customized site. I’ve provided a simple explanation for a few terms and topics you might have questions about when approaching website creation, management, and cost.   Web designer versus web developer (frontend versus backend) *see Team Tree House article for more detail  While many designers and developers are multi-talented, they serve two different functions. In general, web designers deal with what is called the “frontend” of the web, i.e. the visual part everyone encounters. A designer creates imagery using a tool such as Photoshop. They may also work in code such as HTML and CSS. Your computer’s browser controls the things you see online. The browser, e.g. Chrome, converts a combination of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript into the words and images you see. Web developers use technology to enable what you see on the “frontend.” A server, an application, and a database make up the “backend.” A server stores the information placed into a database using an application.   Where is my website once it’s created? Your site “lives” on a server. It could be in Phoenix or London. When someone searches using the name of your site, a request is sent to the server for the website. The information is...
Will a “content marketing” plan increase revenue for my business?

Will a “content marketing” plan increase revenue for my business?

Content marketing turns your knowledge and value propositions into inspirational stories and images that pull people into engaging with your brand. Done right, content marketing will enhance and likely boost your sales. As a niche, content marketing is the offspring of second-generation digital technologies. It’s not advertising, which interrupts people to beg for their attention. It’s not salsey. Content marketing is about sharing what you know free of charge yet realizing returns. Content is the words and images that share knowledge in compelling and manageable configurations. Marketing is sharing that information in various formats such as articles, posts, infographics and across multiple platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, your blog, email campaigns, YouTube, etc. Strategy is determining when, how, and where to share the content as well as analyzing the results and responding with appropriate course and speed changes. “Content marketing strategy is the practice of planning the creation, distribution, activation, and optimization of thoughtful and relevant content, in order to inspire positive engagement and profitable action,” according to Pace Communications. Three Questions to Ask Before Launching a Content Marketing Strategy Our role is as much project management and coaching as it is marketing. If someone is not a good candidate for content marketing, we don’t recommend it. Here are three screening questions: Can the cost of a month’s worth of “content marketing” be recovered with three or fewer sales, grants, referrals, etc.? Are you willing to engage in creating content with us for at least a three-month trial? Do you believe that your business or organization is a leader and has something genuinely unique and/or important to share with...