Archive | March, 2011

Feedback Opportunity: Promotional Items

25 Mar

And…

Thanks so much for taking the time to take these polls.

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Coming Up: Blog Series

25 Mar

Friday, March 25, 2011

Throughout the months of April and May, I’m going to be featuring a blog series where I’ll focus on mini case studies of marketing and publicity successes and failures. Some stories you may be familiar with while others may not be as well-known. Ultimately, I hope you’ll take some aspect from each of the cases that you can integrate into your marketing plan. I’ll be posting new entries regularly so keep checking back. Better yet, for instant notification, subscribe and you’ll get the news right away. (All you have to do is enter your e-mail address over there to the right and hit “Sign Me Up”! It’s that easy. Or hit “subscribe” below to choose your preferred method.)

Stay tuned: The first installment is about KFC’s overwhelming success in China. Find out how KFC has become more profitable in China than in the U.S. using simple, but thoughtful, marketing strategies.

~Laura~


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The Value of Your Customer Service

15 Mar

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Customer service is the epitome of public relations. “[It] is a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction – that is, the feeling that a product or service has met the customer’s expectation.”1 That means when you’re talking on the phone, e-mailing, on social media or in person. I used to work for a company whose principal focus was customer service. We were even required to take in-depth training classes on the subject. Since then, I’ve been trained to notice it. And when I don’t get the service I feel I deserve, I don’t go back. And, let’s face it, it’s just common sense.

Did you know that 68%2 of customers who leave claim it’s because of bad service? No one can afford to lose customers. It is, by far, easier and less expensive to foster relationships with existing customers than to market to new ones. Some companies spend up to 80% of their marketing budget on recruiting new customers while returning customers are notoriously more loyal, purchase 33% more anyway and are 107% more likely to refer business3. Those are amazing odds. And customer service is at the heart of it.

First Impressions
You have one chance to impress a new customer. If they don’t feel they receive the service they should have or are worthy of, you’ll never see them again. The opportunity to convert them into a customer is gone forever. The first impression sets the tone for the whole experience. Here are just a few ways to create an amazing first impression – Trust me, there are thousands of more ways.

  1. Create an atmosphere of congeniality. Smile, introduce yourself, be willing to help and do whatever is necessary to make it a successful visit.
  2. Make note of something they purchase or something about their person and offer a product that will complement that. It’s that personal touch that people remember.
  3. It’s as simple as eye contact and friendly tone. Believe it or not, you can hear a smile over the phone. Think about that the next time your phone rings.
  4. Be willing to make small talk. Don’t hold the customer up, but show that they’re important to you.
  5. Respond within 24 hours. It is not only courteous, it shows that you value their time.
  6. Show them you appreciate them calling/stopping by/e-mailing by thanking them.
  7. Take a proactive approach. Don’t wait until someone asks for your help; offer it up front.
  8. If you don’t know the answer, ensure them that you will find out and get back to them promptly.

The Whole Experience
Customer service is the experience before, during and after the sale. It’s all about nurturing the relationship. The idea is, once you have captured their interest and loyalty, to foster a deeper relationship so that even when a seemingly better offer comes along, they stick around. Never give your customers a reason to leave.

  1. Establish a loyalty program.
  2. Make each customer feel special and appreciated by offering a unique experience. Research their buying history and offer suggestions or promotions based on that.
  3. Exceed expectations by following up after a conversation or sale; offering something unexpected or something you know they can’t get elsewhere; or customized packages/plans.
  4. Encourage regular feedback with the use of feedback cards, online surveys, etc.
  5. Be a good listener. Ask relevant questions and pay attention not only to the answer, but the tone of voice and accompanied body language. Those two things will probably tell you more than the words ever could.
  6. Throw in something extra that will complement their purchase. You don’t even have to think very big here. It’s the gesture that really counts.

This is your opportunity to be creative. There is so much competition today that it pays to be innovative in your approach. Just remember to treat the customer the way you would want to be treated.

Million Dollar Question: How is your customer service affecting your customer base?

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Here’s is another related article:Customer Service and Its Place in the Public Relations Mix


1 Turban, Efraim (2002). Electronic Commerce: A Managerial Perspective. Prentice Hall. ISBN 0131854615.
2 –
Small Business Trends
3 – Customer Relationships


SWOT Analyses

3 Mar

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I just posted a few things on my Facebook page and Twitter feed about conducting SWOT analyses for your business. So I thought it might be beneficial to follow that up with a quick overview of what a SWOT analysis is and how it can help you make some important decisions within your business operations.

SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. It’s utilized to examine the productivity of your business practices (i.e. marketing, publicity, finance, operational, etc.). The goal  is to determine how to better use these practices to your advantage while conducting them more efficiently. It will give you a general direction for pursuing your short- and long-term goals. And it’s simple really. You’ll have to set aside some time and commit to being brutally honest, but in the end, I think you’ll find that it was very much worth it. I would encourage you to try this at least once per year.

Here are just some of the questions to ask yourself for each item:

Strengths:

  • What are my advantages?
  • What do I do well or better than someone else?
  • What unique resources do I have?
  • What is my financial picture? (also applicable elsewhere)
  • Do I have an arsenal of new/innovative ideas?

Weaknesses:

  • What improvements could we make?
  • Where do I feel we are falling short?
  • In what areas do competitors have an overwhelming advantage?
  • What could/should I avoid doing?
  • What is my financial picture?

Opportunities:

  • Are there any interesting or promising trends?
  • Do I have beneficial partnerships on which I can capitalize?
  • Can I identify any untapped talent/markets?
  • Are there any advantageous changes in society, technology or media?

Threats:

  • Is there a competitor in my market that is better equipped?
  • How is staff morale?
  • What are my most immediate obstacles?
  • Is my changing financial picture affecting the long-term position of my business?
  • Will some of my products/services become obsolete because of technology, social changes, etc?
  • Do I have a contingency plan?

And it can be that straightforward. A simple list for each item is all you need. Audit your situation today for a more secure tomorrow. Good luck. Until next time,
~Laura~


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