Improve Customer Service With Great Recommendations

December 9, 2008

A great way to improve customer service and encourage customers to come back to you, is to make useful recommendations.

Now I know some of you don’t like recommending additional products or services to your customers, as you worry it might seem like you’re trying to sell to them all the time. But that simply isn’t true.

Recommending good products, services, or articles, either in person, on your website, or by letter, phone or email, is one of the best ways to improve customer service. And if you don’t do it, you’re actually giving bad customer service, because your customers may have to rely on guesswork to get what they need and they could wind up making a bad choice.

Good Recommendations Not Only Improve Customer Service - They Can Be Profitable Too

Making good recommendations improves customer service and it can also be profitable. Until a few months ago, I rarely made any product recommendations on this blog. Then I would get emails from folk saying, they’d read an article of mine and went out and bought a particular product or book to find out more.

The trouble was, sometimes, those products sucked. So to avoid letting my readers buy worthless crap, I knew I had to make my own recommendations. Sometimes I receive a commission for those recommendations and sometimes I don’t. But people don’t mind you getting a commission if you recommend something that’s useful to them.

For example, I’ve mentioned the Amazon Associates Program before and pointed out that the commission they pay is low. And it is - you only get a few cents for each book you sell. But I added Amazon stores to my blog yesterday.

If you’ve read widely in your niche, it’s worth adding an Amazon store. They’re easy to put together and you may not make a fortune in commissions but you’ll be doing your customers a huge favour.

Folk who want to learn more about your particular niche will be able to make good book choices, if you make personal recommendations. For example, all the books in my writer’s book store. They’re all ones I’ve read and would recommend.

* The two Jesse Livermore books in the business section are for entertainment purposes only. They’re fascinating to read but you should not try to copy his investment methods.

You Can Improve Customer Service By Saving Your Customer Money

Would you rather improve customer service by saving your customer money, or avoid making recommendations altogether and risk your customers losing a whole heap of dough?

A few months ago, a reader emailed me to say they were having a business blog built, by some Joe Bloggs guy and it was costing them over £2000. Well it was too late for me to say anything, as it was almost complete. But Men with Pens could have customized an existing blog theme for less money and made a much better job. So, now, when I’m discussing a topic, I make sure I make good recommendations where I can, to stop my readers from getting ripped off.

Not Telling Customers About All The Products And Services You Offer Is Bad Customer Service

You should always keep in touch with your customers and make them aware of products and services you offer. It’s bad customer service if you don’t, as your customer may wind up using a mediocre competitor.

This happened to me a few years ago. I was telling a loyal customer about a service we offered. And she was disappointed, as she hadn’t been aware that we offered that service. So she used a competitor and she was disappointed with the results. So it’s definitely worthwhile making sure your customers know about every single service and product you offer.

Providing Links To Excellent Resources Will Keep Customers Coming Back To You

As well as recommending good products and services, you can instantly improve your customer service by providing links to excellent resources from your website. Your customer will love you if you link to helpful articles. And don’t forget, as well as linking out to other websites, it’s useful to provide a related reading list at the end of each post, with links to related articles on your own website too.

Improve Customer Service By Telling Folk When They Don’t Need Something

Don’t give recommendations just for the sake of it. You can also improve customer service by telling customers that they don’t need something. For example, a reader recently mentioned that she was considering buying a product to help her blog.

To me, the best product for setting up a blog and learning how to promote it is the 8 Week Power Blog Launch. But it soon became apparent that the customer was already working through one guide on how to blog. So I told her that she really didn’t need another one.

If your customer is considering buying something from you, or someone else and you don’t think it’s something they need, you’ll be providing good customer service if you point out that it won’t be useful to them.

Do you provide your customers with recommendations for products and services that you like? Do you use the recommendations of businesses that you know and trust? Please share in the comments section.

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Is Technical Jargon Losing You Customers?

October 21, 2008

Do you use so much technical jargon that you scare customers away? Maybe you’re doing so without realising.

Technical jargon has been around forever. Doctors and lawyers in particular, have used their own language since the year dot, to make it difficult for outsiders to enter their professions.

And many types of business have created their own technical jargon and buzzwords, to prevent any old Joe from entering the game too. Trouble is, sometimes overuse of jargon can lose you customers.

If you’ve ever been a customer of a lawyer or a doctor, you’ve probably noticed, they don’t use technical jargon when they’re talking to you. They tend to explain things in terms you’ll understand.

So why don’t all businesses avoid using too much jargon when they’re speaking to their customers and explain things in a non-technical way?

Some Reasons For The Overuse Of Technical Jargon

They think it makes them sound more knowledgeable.

They learned the jargon when they were training and they think they should use it all the time.

They’ve got so used to all this technical speak - they don’t realise they’re overusing it.

They don’t really understand what they’re trying to say, so they can’t put it into simple language.

They hope that by confusing the customer, they’re more likely to make a sale.

Do you overuse technical jargon, when you’re speaking to customers, or writing to them; or on your website or blog? If you’re not sure, because the words have become so familiar, you might want to get someone outside of your industry to give you some honest feedback.

If potential customers don’t understand what you’re talking about, you haven’t got a hope in hell of selling them a thing.

Cartoon by Brad Shorr

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Give Value If You Want To Survive

October 6, 2008

To become successful in business, you’ve got to give value. True - you may be able to exchange crap for money in the short term but you won’t get the repeat business, or referrals that are essential to the survival of your business. And you’ll probably kill your reputation too.

So how do you go about finding a way to give value? Well, for a start, I think you’ve got to forget about what you want for a minute and work out a way to give others what they want.

Mark Hayward recently asked the following question on Twitter: “What Is Your Ultimate Job Or Life Description?” And most folk responded with the things they wanted to do to help others. Few mentioned what they wanted for themselves, without explaining what they were going to give to get it.

Which ones do you think have the most chance of success? I’m betting it’s going to be the ones who intend to make money by giving value to others.

Finding a way to give value is as simple as finding out what people need and finding a way to make money by giving it to them.

This doesn’t mean ignoring your passions. It just means focusing on a niche you’re passionate about and finding out what other folk who are interested in that niche want. What problems do they have that need solving? What gaps in the market need to be filled?

Which companies give you great value? What do they do that makes them use again? Have you had bad experiences with businesses that didn’t give good value? Please share in the comments section.

Image Credit: Melanie Major

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11 Star Quality Customer Service Tips

February 25, 2008

Star Quality Customer Service
Image by takingthemoney

It’s really not that difficult to provide good quality customer service, because so few businesses actually do it. The trouble is, they concentrate all their efforts on making the sale, then once it’s made the customer doesn’t hear from them again.

This is a shame, because the chances are, they won’t come back, even if they were happy with what they bought from you. And often, this is because they simply don’t remember your name. So, don’t let this happen to your business. Check out the following tips and keep your customers happy after the sale.

Star Quality Customer Service Tips

1) Keep In Touch: If you’re carrying out a project that will take a while, or they’ve bought something that won’t be delivered straight away – keep in touch and keep them up to date, so your customer doesn’t feel as though they’ve been forgotten.

2) Make Sure They’re Happy: After you’ve made the sale, call or email to make sure they were happy with your product or service. Don’t try to sell during this contact, as you won’t come across as genuine.

3) Get Permission:
Ask if it’s ok to keep in touch with them from time to time, when you have special offers etc. Getting permission makes all the difference in the world to the way your communications are received by them.

4) Thank Them:
Send a thank you email or postcard and make sure it’s personally addressed and signed by a real person.

5) Send A Card:
Send cards at different times a year, but don’t do the tired old impersonal Christmas card. Your customers will take more notice of a card that comes when nobody else is sending them.

6) Keeping in Touch Doesn’t Mean Selling: Keep in touch to remind them you’re there – don’t try to sell each time. This enables you to find out more about your customers so you can give them what they want.

7) Send Small Gifts:
A small gift can sometimes be as cheap as a mailing or brochure. Remember it’s the thought that counts. Things like candy, key rings or fridge magnets are good. Pens are ok, but if you’re going to send these make sure they look half decent - don’t send the really cheap plastic ones.

8) Don’t Go Overboard: Don’t go overboard with gifts. And make sure they are happy with your service before you send them or they’re liable to feel insulted.

For example - three years ago, I rented tens of thousands of pounds of equipment during Carlisle floods from HSS Hire - one of our regular suppliers.

I’d heard they offered extended credit of 90 days to their best customers, instead of 30 day terms. So, I asked them to extend this to me and they declined. A couple of months later, they told me I was their customer of the year and presented me with 2 DVD TV’s.

I was left wondering why I didn’t get extended credit when I was their customer of the year and whether they’d actually overcharged me, since they were able to give me such a generous gift. It left a bad taste in my mouth. Be careful not to treat your customers the same way.

9) Get Their Opinion: Ask for your customer’s opinion when you’re doing research. Most people are flattered that you value their input and they’re glad to help. And you can also use this opportunity to gather further information about your customer.

If you prefer to contact your customers by email, check out this useful post by Ian Denny on how to organise the information you collect from customers and use it in email campaigns.

10) Don’t Expect Your Customers To Be Mind Readers:
Make sure you keep them informed of all the products or services you offer. They’ll appreciate it because people prefer to deal with businesses they already know and trust, so they’re more likely to buy from you.

11) Stay Organised:
Keep your customer details organised and make sure you have a future contact date in your diary for each customer. Customer Relationship Management software is the easiest way to do this. I use Salesforce, because it’s reasonably priced and you can customise it.

If you follow these practical star quality customer service steps, your customers will come back to you again and again.

Do you have any customer service tips to share? What have you tried that has had good or bad results?

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