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    Is bad customer service killing your business

     

    It's time to beat the old bad customer service drum again. I know, I'm sick of beating the drum, too, but as long as bad customer service runs rampant through so many businesses I feel it is my entrepreneurial duty to bring it to your attention. So grab a pew and prepare to listen to the sermon I've preached before: bad customer service is the bane of business. If the Almighty smote down every business that dispenses bad customer service, the world would be a much friendlier, albeit much sparser place. Consider a world without malls and fast food joints… would it really be so bad? What puzzles me most is if bad customer service is such a death knell for business, why do so many businesses allow it to go on? Don't they read my column, for Pete's sake? I think the problem is that most bad customer service is doled out (or at least condoned) by business owners and managers who have ceased caring what their customers think. When you stop caring what your customers think it's time to close the doors. Go find a day job. You'll make someone a wonderfully disgruntled employee. My latest parable of lousy customer service was actually experienced by my better half while attempting to buy my daughter a pair of basketball shoes. I won't mention the name of the sporting goods chain store in which the bad customer service took place, but I will tell you that its name is similar to the sound a frog with hiccups might make. As my wife waited for someone to assit, the four or five teenagers who had been charged with manning the store stood in a clump at the cash register giggling and flirting with one another as if they were at the prom instead of at work. When my wife pointed out this fact, one of the employees, a cheeky lass of 16 or so, put her hands on her hips and said, "How rude!" The males in the group didn't react at all. They were too busy arguing over who could take a break so they could chase other cheeky lasses about the mall. Needless to say my lovely bride, who has the ability to instill fear into the hearts of even the most worthless employees, left the gaggle of giggling teen idiots standing with their mouths open in disbelief. How dare a customer tell them to do that with a pair of basketball shoes? As much as I bemoan bad customer service I celebrate good customer service. It should be applauded and the purveyor of said good customer service should be rewarded for actually delivering satisfaction to the customer, above and beyond the call of duty. So let me tell you the story of my new hero, Ken. I won't tell you the name of the store in which Ken works, but let's just say they started out selling radios in a shack somewhere long, long ago. I first met Ken when I went into the store to buy a mixing board for my business that records audio products for the Web. In a nutshell, you plug microphones into the mixing board then connect it to the computer and you can record audio directly to digital format. Totally beside the point of this article, but I didn't want you thinking that I was purchasing non-manly cooking utensils. When I got the mixer installed it didn't work. So I boxed it up and headed back to the store to return it. When I told Ken my problem he didn't just grunt and give me my money back as so many bad customer service reps would do. Instead he asked, "Do you mind if I try it?" "Knock yourself out," was my reply, confident that if I couldn't get it to work, neither could Ken. Ken took the mixer out of the box and went about hooking it up to one of the computers on display. He started pulling power cords and cables off the display racks and ripping them open and plugging them in. He tore open a new microphone and an adapter and kept going until he had the mixer hooked up and working. Yes, I said working. It turns out the mixer was fine. I just had the wrong power adapter. Ken could have just given me my money back and been done with me. Instead he spent 15 minutes and opened a number of other packages that I was under no obligation to buy just to help me get the thing working. I was so impressed that I not only kept the mixing board, I also bought another $50 worth of products. And the next time I need anything electronic guess where I will buy it? Even if it costs twice as much, I'll buy it from Ken. Now here's the moral of the story: if you are a business owner who has a gaggle of teenagers in charge of customer service at your store you would be better off replacing them with wild monkeys. At least monkeys can be trained.

         
    Is it really worth the money

     

    When it comes to services I sometimes wonder if the asking price is really worth it. I can usually find the service that I am looking for online. Then I have to look around to find witch one is going to give me the most for the money. Well I have found that if I go with the low ball guy, he is reeling me in for a huge sales pitch to asks me to spend more than I would with the high roller guy. Maybe that’s where I should have started my search. Then again I wrote an article a couple of months ago about an auto repair shop that promised to fix my truck for $1,000.00. Fair price to install a new rear end and I agreed. 2 months later I could not get my truck out of the shop for less then $2,000.00. They actually told me “two grand or we will auction off your truck to pay the charges.” I was robbed!! I found out once again that maybe checking with a higher priced guy may have been a good idea. I am sure the price is higher because the put all of the add on stuff in the original quote. The quote is supposed to at least be close to the actual price, right? The gist of my article is this. I have been in the carpet cleaning industry for almost ten years. We get a bad rap, no doubt about it. We have to earn the respect that others have spit on and ripped off. There are a lot of great cleaners out there and there are a few that kill the reputation of the entire industry. Now we all have to make a living and I have chosen to make mine honestly. I may not be the cheapest, but my quotes are on the mark. If I give you a quote and then try to charge more for the same amount of work after you let me in. I am sure you will kick me out then or never call me back, so I prefer giving a little extra than taking what ever I can squeeze out of you. I say go with the guy in the middle when it comes to choosing your service providers. If it seems to good to be true then it probably is. If it seems way too high compared to the competition then it probably is for the more elite or just plain over priced. Talk to others to find out whom they use and give an honest man the job.

         
    Is the customer always right

     

    Last week I made an early morning trip to a seminar/book promo breakfast to promote my web site. After putting out flyers all over the place I took a moment to step in to the facility and caught a few moments of a morning with Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE. As I stepped through the door, a question and answer session was in progress. A woman stepped up to the microphone and asked "Is the customer always right?" Jack smiled and said, "You might not think so, and they may believe so, but if you don't make it so, you're dead!" Jack, that is a pretty strong consequence. Dead. But let's face it. Who will come to do business with you again after you argue with them about their dissatisfaction? I think most people will just go somewhere else. Isn't is just common sense that we let our customer complain and then make it right? Well for the business owner, we usually just grin and say " what would it take to make you happy today?" but what about our employees? If we have not taken the time to train our employees how to deal with an unhappy customer, how will they react when one attacks them with " the food was cold and tasted like crap!" or "I only had it for three days and the wheel fell off!" It is important that as part of training any employee who has contact with the customer they have training on dealing with complaints as well as how to work the register or take the order. As a business owner you probably have already thought of that. Is there a piece of this puzzle missing? The missing piece might be empowerment. The employee can be trained how to be calm and not take complaints personally. But what if they are not empowered to take action and correct the problem immediately themselves? What if you have instructed them to get you if there is a problem and you are on your way to the bank to make a deposit? In most cases an angry consumer will not wait for you to return. This would mean that if your employee is not empowered to make a correction or offer a compromise to make the customer happy, you would lose their business forever. How much does it cost to get a new customer? How much does it cost to make them happy when they are dissatisfied? The difference on paper is staggering. Therefore, as part of the training of a new employee, it should be taught what is possible to do to make a customer happy when they are complaining. A quick response to a problem is appreciated almost more than the actual solution in most cases. You see in life, we are all customers at some time or other, and I don't know about you, but when I am an upset customer, I am always right!

         
    Is your credit score costing you a fortune

     

    While some surveys show that 9 out of 10 consumers are unaware what their credit score is, I'd like to quickly share with you how your credit score could be costing you a fortune (in more ways than you can imagine). We all know a low credit score will make everything in the world of finance more expensive because of higher interests rates from lenders due to being considered a greater credit risk ( i. e. higher interest rates on cars, homes and credit cards). While this may be considered common knowledge by some, it's truly devastating effects are understood by few. For example, If you purchase a $200,000 home on a 30 year fixed mortgage at 8% interest instead of 6% (because of your credit score); that 2% is going to end up costing you a total of $96, 934.11 over the term of the loan. Now, think about how many extra years you'll have to work to pay off $96,934.11 because of an extra 2% in interest? The part few people talk about is all the other areas in life where a low score will increase your cost of living on an annual basis. For example. In addition to paying more for a car, home and credit cards, a low credit score will most likely have you paying more for the following as well: 1.) AUTO INSURANCE. As many as 92% of the 100 largest personal automobile insurers use credit information to underwrite new business, according to a 2001 study by Conning & Co., an insurance-research and asset-management firm. 2.) HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE. It's thought many insurance companies see a correlation between low credit scores and increased property insurance claims. Therefore, a low score will result in higher rates. 3.) LIFE and HEALTH INSURANCE. Customers who are unable to pay their monthly insurance premium thereby pass along that increased cost to the insurance company whose stuck with the bill (resulting in a loss for the company). Since customers who pay without lapse are more profitable it is felt by many that a low credit score now even affects a monthly life and/or health insurance premium negatively. One of the more shocking areas where a low credit score will you cost you is in the area of employment. It's estimated as many as 42% of employers now do credit checks on applicants before hiring them (according to a 1998 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management). While many employers claim they only do it to verify information on your application (such as where you live and where you have worked etc.) we can both assume they are taking the liberty to have a peek at how you handle your financial affairs as well. According to the Public Research Interest Group (PIRG) as many as 79% all credit reports contain errors, 25% of which are serious enough to cause the denial of credit (according to a 2004 report). And that's all the more troubling in light of the increasing impact a bad credit report can have, says Ed Mierzwinski, director of PIRG's consumer program. "It's outrageous that the credit bureaus are claiming their scores are accurate enough to take people's lives and screw with them like this". In the next segment we'll be talking about something very, very exciting. It's called... "Insider Techniques to Raise Your Credit Score... FAST!" See you in a couple days...

         
    It consulting providing clients with credit

     

    In running an IT consulting business, do not be too quick to give new clients credit. Even when you give them credit, keep their lines of credit relatively low until they’ve built up some history with you. Provide Low Lines of Credit If you have new IT consulting clients, it may make sense to start them out, even if you get a credit application and send out some credit reference letters, with a $500 or $1,000 line of credit. Don’t go allowing them to hang you up on a $5,000 or $10,000 leash before they’ve proven they’re able to pay small invoices. If they need a lot of work before that, it makes sense to get larger deposits and be able to accept credit cards, but do not be too quick to give new IT consulting clients credit. It’s a way to get yourself in big financial trouble really fast. Require Written Agreements It’s even worse if you’re selling products like hardware, software and peripherals. Always insist on written agreements for your IT consulting business. Verbal promises are for amateurs and belong in an era of time that disappeared decades ago. State what you’re going to do, how you’re going to do it, when you’re going to do it, what it’s going to cost and the payment schedule, in four to six sentences. Of course, on larger IT consulting projects you will need multi page proposals. The Bottom Line about IT Consulting Always insist on written agreements, even if it’s a very small job. Just type up a couple sentences, a letter of understanding, to ensure you and the client are on the same page. Copyright MMI-MMVI, PC Support Tips. All Worldwide Rights Reserved. {Attention Publishers: Live hyperlink in author resource box required for copyright compliance}

         
    It helps small businesses enact big ideas

     

    Good customer service is crucial to success in business; there's nothing high-tech about helping customers get exactly what they need. But technology can make the process easier and more efficient. For most small businesses, investing in information technology (IT) can pay dividends in more ways than one. Not only can technology help companies establish a corporate identity and lower the cost of doing business, it can also help level the playing field. The Dell/National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Small Business Excellence Award, established in 2004, honors small businesses that instill the spirit of innovation and apply IT to improve the customer experience. Think big, win big The winner will receive $30,000 in technology and professional services from Dell; a Day with Dell program with Dell executives, including Michael Dell, to share best business practices; a lifetime membership to NFIB; and other prizes. Nine other companies will receive a Dell Latitude notebook and a one-year membership to NFIB. The finalists for the 2006 award are: • AMAD Logistics, an international freight forwarder and logistics company. • DataCert Inc., a fast-growing supplier of electronic invoicing and corporate legal spend-management solutions. • Errand Solutions, which provides customized errand-running and concierge services as an employee benefit and customer relationship enhancement to health care, hospitality, residential property and corporate organizations. • Harrison's Roof Truss, L. L.C., a manufacturer of engineered wooden roof and floor trusses. • Micro Technology Services Inc., which develops and manufactures electronic products. • National Association of System Administrators Inc., provides a 24-hour, Web-based customer portal through which clients can track service calls and on-site parts storage. • Ntelicor L. P., an information-technology consulting and staffing firm. • Pipal Research Corp., a team of strategists and investment bankers who provide research and analytical services. • Sew What? Inc., a theatrical drapery manufacturer and custom sewing service. • TRS Consultants Inc., a multidisciplinary engineering and construction management firm.

         
    Keeping your cool when the customer gets hot

     

    A day in the life of a business person can be filled with joy and satisfaction or it can be frustrating and stressful. When things go wrong, some people lose control. Holding emotions in check and reacting professionally under fire are not always easy. It is particularly difficult to be nice to people who are not being nice to you. So what do you do to keep your cool when the customer is chewing you out? Most of the time, it is not even your fault. It could be that the problem was with a product or a service delivered by someone else in your organization. You're getting the blame because the unhappy person found you first, and it's not pleasant. When faced with angry people, there are four key steps that will help diffuse the situation. Step one is to apologize. "But," you say, "it's not my fault." It doesn't matter who's to blame; apologize anyway. As a representative of your company you have a responsibility to see that things go well. Your willingness to be accountable will have a positive effect. After all, it takes two to have an argument. If one of you refuses to be disagreeable you can't have a disagreement. You are not accepting blame-you are simply saying, "I'm sorry about the problem." You are wasting your breath unless you apologize with complete sincerity so be sure that your tone of voice matches your words. Step two is to sympathize with the irate customer. Let the person know that you can identify with his feelings. Say that you understand the frustration of receiving a faulty product or poor service. The angry person begins to feel better as soon as his reaction is validated. Step three is to accept responsibility for the situation. Be accountable to the customer. Let him know that you intend to do whatever it takes to make things right. You can't help what has already happened, but you will come up with a solution to the problem or you will find someone who can. The last step is to take action. Decide what you can do and tell the customer. You will replace the defective or incorrect product as quickly as possible. If the issue was poor service deliver better service. Whenever you can offer a bonus of some sort or waive fees, the tiger before you is transformed into a pussycat. Use the acronym "ASAP" to remember these four steps for calming upset customers. Each letter stands for part of the process. A is "apologize." S represents "sympathize." A stands for "accept responsibility." P means "prepare to take action." Nothing will be solved by becoming argumentative and reactionary. Instead, diffuse the client's anger by being apologetic and sympathetic and focus on positive steps that will resolve the situation. Before you know it, your adversaries will become your allies. Oh yes, remember to smile. It will make everyone feel better and behave better. (c) 2005, Lydia Ramsey. All rights in all media reserved. Please reprint article with by-line intact and all links made live.

         
    Learn how to dress up your presentation the easy way

     

    Honoring individuals for their achievements may say a great deal about the person but can also demonstrate the sincere appreciation of the one awarding and recognizing the recipients’ success. Everyone enjoys receiving awards and being recognized for their efforts. Many times our trophies and plaques are proudly displayed in a prominent place in the home or office. This may be a wall, trophy case or fireplace mantel that in some environments can represent a small shrine. Reflecting back on awards that have captured my attention, it’s always been the logo or graphic picture that first caught my eye. After looking at the design (or the structure of the award itself), I then focus my eyes towards the inscription engraved on the plaque. There are numerous types of awards from appreciation, acknowledgement, retirement, sports and more. One of the easiest ways to dress up your presentation and make it stand out among others is done by simply applying graphics to the item you are presenting. By adding or implementing a cool design, you will give more personality to the award and make it more attractive to the recipient and the individuals who view it. Adding clip art or logos to your presentation can be done at a small expense and at times even free, while adding value to the award. Usually the organization or company giving the presentation has their logo available in print or in a digital format that can be reproduced easily. Simply request to receive their insignia in the computer format you need. Now days, more and more company’s have their logo already available on CD that will work within the environment of your graphics software. Many times this is easily downloaded from the associations website or may be emailed directly to your address. If for some reason a logo or design you wish to reproduce is not readily available, you can always have it created or have one “digitized” to meet your needs. By digitizing someone’s logo you enable it to be used with certain computer software programs while at the same time giving way to numerous other applications as well. For example: If you were in need of reproducing a logo for use with a laser engraving process, you may have it digitized and supplied to you in an. EPS format. This particular format is one of the more universal files of type, which many of your leading software programs can import into their layout screen. Additionally, this type of format can be used for other types of applications too. The key to creating any image is to better understand the application (or process) in which the design is going to be reproduced. If you are unsure, it’s always best to contact a professional digitizing company to assist you with the production or reproduction of the logo. You can find many sources on the World Wide Web that can help you from beginning to end, with logo design or clip art images all ready to engrave or print for most any application. The quickest way to locate some of these vendors is by typing in a “keyword” at any of your favorite search engines search bar. Example: goto MSN and key in the words “laser engraving”, “logo company” or refine your keywords to a more specific industry such as, “wedding clip art” or “religious clip art”. By using search engines to “search” for a specific type of logo or desired application for creating your awards, this enables you to locate numerous choices much faster and compare their services and/or products on line. Once you begin to settle in on a company to assist you with your award creation or logo digitizing process, ask them what other type of industry applications they service. One of the reasons you want to acquire this information is for future uses of your digitized image. You may only need to have your logo laser engraved today however, next time you may need to have a banner created with the same design. If your vendor can create your logo to work with both applications without a re-work, it may same you time and money for up coming awards and presentations. You don’t need to know every finite detail for dressing up your presentations. My suggestion is that by adding logos or a graphic design to your awards, it adds value and makes your item more attractive. Connecting with a cutting edge technology companies will help you create these types of designs and have your recipients proud to display their trophy for all to see.

         
    Listen to suggestions

     

    If you are up to your ears in a stressful situation, it becomes difficult to think clearly. Sometimes, it is best to walk away from a problem, and think about it, rather than try to solve it with an instant solution. My grandfather used to say: “Even the court jester can teach us something useful.” This saying goes much deeper in meaning and applies to many things - from a Yoga class, to not taking life too seriously, and to the unfortunate way customer feedback is commonly handled by the business world. As a customer of any service or product - how do you feel when your Email is ignored, your voice mail message is never answered, and you don’t get any feedback or concern, at all, from customer service? We all feel the same – nobody likes to be ignored. The shame of all this is that customer service is getting worse on a global scale. Knowing this, we should take the time to listen when someone has taken the time to give us a constructive suggestion. When you do acknowledge a suggestion and consider, implement, or try it, you could possibly create a bond for life. Here is a little story about how listening can pay off. Years ago, I was working at a health club and had a dilemma. I had a personal training client with a weight control problem, but I couldn’t figure out what the problem was. She was exercising, eating the right things, following a new healthy diet, taking Yoga classes, and had made a 30 day turn around in lifestyle, with no results to measure. I brainstormed with the health club owner with no real success, but we were interrupted by someone who said that I should have my client log everything she eats and drinks. Well, I took the suggestion and ran with it. I discovered my client was drinking three Cokes a day. She didn’t equate Coke with sugar grams, and didn’t think it was important enough to mention. After that, she lost five pounds a month, on average, for the next twelve months. That’s an optimum 60 pound weight loss in a year. This particular client kept the weight off. The person who made that suggestion is still a dear friend to this day. Needless to say, I have every personal training client log their meals, and drinks - just to be certain. In summary, it doesn’t take a “rocket scientist” to listen to customer feedback, or a colleague’s suggestions; but all of us, no matter how important we think we are, must be willing to sit back and listen to constructive advice. This will be the difference between managers of businesses that flourish and those that fail in the twenty-first century.

         
    Live answering service

     

    With so many automated answering services for businesses out there, customers often find themselves extremely frustrated, wishing they could talk to a live answering service instead. Answering services have gone the route of letter writing – it’s all gone to computers in an attempt to make life simpler. However, most customers prefer to talk to an actual person when it comes to their concerns, rather than a cold, unfeeling machine. From the moment that an actual person answers a call made or transferred to a live answering service, a bond begins to form. Personal interaction begins from the very first greeting, and the feeling that your customer is not just a commodity to be transferred over to an automated recording can be overwhelmingly touching. Of course, with today’s busy communications demands, your customers may only receive a friendly sounding voice and an upbeat manner, but that’s really all that’s necessary to maintain a positive outlook regarding your business. With the personalized attention and interaction that goes into a live answering service, the needs of the caller are professionally met, but with a personal touch that makes the customer feel as though their concerns, complaints, and questions are truly important to the business. This should be kept in mind when looking for a service for your business. A live answering service will be received by your customers with open arms, as they will be able to voice their concerns to someone who might actually be able to sympathize and care about what problems they may have. Such a benefit will make your customers feel important and cared for, which is exactly what you want for them. When a customer feels cared for, their opinion of your business is much higher than if your customer was transferred to a cold, unfeeling automated service.

         
    Making great first and last impressions over the telephone

     

    : 1. Greet the customer enthusiastically. Put a smile on your face and energy in your voice. Intentionally sound fun, interesting, friendly, and conversational. When you do these simple things, you will find that you are quickly establishing rapport with callers and that customers enjoy speaking with you. 2. Listen without interrupting. It can be tempting to interrupt a rambler or storyteller, but try not to do so within the first few seconds. Listen patiently and let the customer tell you what is on her mind. Of course, you can't let a long-winded caller get out of hand. 3. Respond with appropriate emotions. Be natural with your customers.

    When they are happy and the situation calls for more energy, express this energy. If the situation calls for empathy, don't sit there like a stone, express empathy. When I was in car rental and a customer would complain about a breakdown in one of our rental cars, I'd quickly make an expression of empathy like: "I realize how frustrating this whole thing must be for you." 4. Make the customer feel smart/good. Yesterday I conducted a mystery shopper call for a client and one of the customer service representatives did an outstanding job of making the caller feel good.

    The "mystery shopper" was told to ask several redundant and "dumb" questions and she did that very well. At one point the customer service representative said, "You obviously care about your health or you wouldn't have called today." That went over very well---instead of making the caller feel like an idiot, she made her feel like a star! 5. Never come across annoyed, "interrupted", or irritated. Your job is to help and serve.

    And in your job you are going to hear a lot of the same thing over and over. Some customers will annoy you and some of the comments you hear will be just outrageous. But don't let it show. Give every caller your best and sound patient, interested, friendly and helpful every time. Master these five points at the beginning of the call and your impression will be friendly, helpful, and memorable.

    Read on to discover ways to end the call on positive note. Make the most of the last few seconds of the call-- 1. Ask if there is anything else you can do. Don't rush to end the call. Make sure you've answered all of the customer's questions by simply asking, "Is there anything else I can do for you today?" 2. Express sincere appreciation for the call. One of my clients does a phenomenal job of this. Anytime and every time a customer calls Accuvue Vision, they will get a warm and sincere thank you for the call.

    Every representative will make the caller feel great about calling with sincere phrases like: "I'm really glad you called us today." "Your feedback is definitely appreciated and I'm so glad you chose to share it with us today." "Thanks so much for taking time out of your day to call and tell us this.

    " Always end the call on a positive, upbeat note. 3. Let your caller hang up first. It's simply polite to let your caller hang up first. In most cases, callers will hang up with 2-4 seconds of the last spoken word. Never forget that your callers remember the first and the last thing in a series of events disproportionate to anything else.

    Make the most of these critical touch points by adopting these steps.

         
    Musical phones

     

    "Let me transfer your call." What goes through your mind when you hear those words? Do you have visions of being placed on hold, waiting for someone else to come on the line, repeating what you just said, and then hearing one more time, "Let me transfer your call?" Feelings of frustration set in and your confidence in the company you dialed begins to diminish. It's a game of musical phones played to a tune that no one enjoys. If you don't like being transferred from person to person over the phone, your customers don't care for it either. There are a number of ways to transfer callers without creating more problems along the way. Listen to the caller's issue. Even if you think you know immediately what people want and who can help them, hear them out. Don't interrupt. You could learn something that will change your mind about how to handle the call. Avoid saying the word "transfer." Tell people that you need to "send" their call to another department or employee. Offer to "connect" them or "put them through" to someone else. Using a different term can save your callers undue anxiety and fellow employees from having to deal with edgy customers. Check to be sure that the person to whom you are sending the call is actually available. Your customer will not be happy if the call unexpectedly goes through to a voice mailbox. If you know that the person who can help is not in, ask before transferring callers to voice mail. They may prefer another route. Verify that you have the right person before connecting the call. If you aren't certain, ask the caller to wait while you check. Tell callers why you need to transfer them. Give your caller the name and the direct number of the person to whom you are directing the call. That way, if there is a disconnect, your customer knows whom to ask for when they call back. If you have the ability to stay on the line and make an introduction, that is all the better. If you want to provide customer service that will delight your callers, offer your name and phone number and invite people to call you back if their needs are not met or their questions are not answered. Thoughtfully and carefully transferring calls reflects positively on your entire organization and will eliminate musical phones. (c) 2006, Lydia Ramsey. All rights reserved. Reprint rights granted so long as article and by-line are published intact and with all links made live.

         
    Online call center outsourcing

     

    If you business has large customer business then you definitely need to provide efficient customer service to keep them happy. Many small and large multi-national companies such as banks, insurance companies or electronic companies, who enjoy the large customer base, need prompt and efficient customer service to handle customers’ inquiries and grievances. Customer service reflects organizational behavior and its strengths and weaknesses. Inquiries from customers should be given priority and must be attended courteously. Failure to do so may cast shadow on the market reputation of the company. Having less time at the disposal, many multi-national companies now resort to outsourcing customer service jobs. This not only reduces their labor cost but also help in saving tremendous amount of time, which they can utilize in their core competencies. Many voice and data based customer service jobs are now being outsourced to India and other Asian countries due to abundance of cheap well-educated workforce. They are even ready to work in shifts to help U. S. and western companies. Hence, Call Centers are ultimate answer for the wide customer based companies for all their customer service problems. Outsourcing companies invest heavily in its infrastructure and staff. Their staff and well-educated and experienced, companies are well equipped with required infrastructure to meet the requirements of their clients’ needs. Many voice based call centers are now using automatic answering machines, which are doing most of the job for answering the overseas clients’ inquiries. These machines are technically so advanced that you can program it with the most frequently asked questions. Even if caller does not find answer to question, then call will be automatically directed to operator who will assist in getting right person. Sometimes calls may also be linked to a corporate data network. Call centers not only attend the calls but they also help in solving problems satisfactorily. Even difficult matters such as high-tech matters are discussed and solved on phone. In any case, your calls are not answered properly, then it will be answered by senior employee in a detail email. Now voice and data network are being interlinked, thanks to network technologies, which help providing data information to clients without hassles. On the other hand, contribution of internet has added tremendously. Call Centers employees can now have a chat with clients, exchange files do video chatting and so on. Please visit at kpoasia to know more about outsourcing.

         
    Outsource your intranet it makes more sense than you may think

     

    Until recently, if a company wanted to implement an intranet, they first had to install an internal network. Next they had to install a web server and set it up to host their internal documents. This created an intranet, which is an internal network that uses web-based technology. The difference between an intranet and a traditional company network is that everything on the intranet is accessed through a web browser. To secure access to the intranet, the company needs to install special software, set up firewalls, and install a VPN server or switch. The equipment could be very expensive and most companies had to hire or train someone to maintain everything. As a result, intranets were beyond the reach of smaller companies. However, all of that has changed. There are now a number of service providers that offer hosted intranet solutions, which allows a company to outsource all the hardware, software and maintenance for their intranet. These service providers are sometimes referred to as intranet application service providers (intranet asp). Why Host Outside Your Company? For smaller companies, cost may be the determining factor. For larger companies, unless the necessary infrastructure already exists, not having to purchase new equipment and train personnel may make it more cost efficient than doing it themselves. Advantages of a Hosted Intranet • Hardware and software do not need to be purchased or installed • Security measures such as authentication, regular backups and disaster recovery are already in place • Personnel to maintain the equipment do not need to be hired or trained • Many applications are already available from the hosting company • Technical support provided by the hosting company Disadvantages of a Hosted Intranet • Data may or may not be more secure than if it was all kept internal to your company • Possible limitations on the software you use and services you can provide • For larger companies, it may be more expensive over the long run than hosting internally.

         
    Over delivering provides big results

     

    Over promising is a problem only when you under deliver. There are a number of ways that you can overdeliver to your customers or prospects, and as a result create a win-win situation for you both. They will be provided with some additional value, while you will be upgrading your learning around a particular issue, adding another product or service to your business, or even increasing the mastery level of your craft. For example, let's say you are a communications coach. You might consider offering a complimentary group call for your current clients. The discussion during this call will not only increase your understanding of some aspect of your business, but it might provide the raw material for crafting a top 10 article, an e-book or an e-course - more things which might be passed along to your clients as a value add. Of course, your clients will love the opportunity to have more time to benefit from what you have to say - and at no cost to them! What can you do today to provide more value to your prospective and current clients? 1. Underpromise and overdeliver. Before you even think of providing more value, you must set the stage from which you will operate. Always deliver what you promise to deliver by way of your products or services within the time frame specified. Never leave any loose ends. But, when you do deliver to your clients, always provide them with more than they expect. Not only will this come as a welcomed surprise, they will consider you as someone who is generous and who really cares about them. It can be as simple as providing a handwritten note or any of a number of other possibilities which will be discussed shortly. A human being's highest need is to be acknowledged. Think about the different ways you can acknowledge others when doing business. 2. Provide complimentary support. One of the easiest ways to provide additional value is to provide complimentary support for your products or services. You can provide phone or email support, or even an FAQ document that can be posted on your website. This gives the customer confidence that they will have a way to follow up with any questions or concerns that they might have. The beauty of this is that very few people will ever take advantage of it, yet by providing it, you can create a tremendous amount of customer goodwill. 3. Provide information and lots of it. We all crave knowledge and information. Provide as much information as you can around your products and services. You can provide articles, special reports, and links to other resources on your website. You can write the articles yourself, or use those of others with their permission. In less than a half day, you could find a dozen articles and as many links to other informational sites to support what you do. If you have your own articles to post, that's an added bonus. With your own articles, you can feature them in your email signature, along with an autoresponder (a type of email system that delivers the article automatically and immediately) so that folks can receive a copy right away. A small investment of your time can provide valuable content for your website and a valued resource to prospects and current clientele. 4. Create a free eCourse. It's so easy to create an eCourse. An eCourse is merely a series of short emails delivered via an autoresponder designed to teach a concept or series of concepts in an easy-to-understand manner. You can easily take a top ten article or other information that you have and “chunk” it into a series of 5, 7 or 10 lessons, which can be delivered over as many days or weeks. Each lesson is a short description of the topic along with an example and perhaps questions or resource links for future follow-up. An eCourse is set up in a mechanism called an autoresponder, an automated email system that delivers lessons at the interval you specify. An e-course is the perfect “product” to advertise in your email signature and can be triggered by the recipient merely sending an email to a specified address. From that point forward, the lessons are automatically issued without any further intervention on your part. E-courses are a great way to showcase an upcoming product or program offering, a way to get people interested in what you have to offer. They are a great way to offer a lot of value with less than a day of effort to write a simple course, set it up for distribution and let it work for you. 5. The benefits of an R & D team. Offering prospects and current clients the opportunity to join and participate on your research and development team is another way to offer value. Your R & D team can be used to test product or program ideas that you might have. By seeking feedback now, you can gather new ideas and you can which ones are worthwhile and of value to others. The benefit to the recipients is that they can play a role in influencing the types of products that they like most. Many folks who have R & D teams also enjoy offering participants special incentives like coupons, discounts, or even a free sample of the product or program before it is issued to the general public. 6. Offer free teleclasses. Offering free teleclasses to prospects and current customers is a great way to generate goodwill while providing valuable content. Free teleclasses are a wonderful way for newcomers to experience who you are and how you operate. For folks who already do business with you, they look at this as a wonderful bonus to experience more of the quality service they have come to expect from you. Teleclasses are a cost and time efficient value add and an easy way to reach others on a global basis. You may want to consider recording these classes and making the audio available from your web site. 7. Offer free assessments. Another way to provide more value is to offer assessments. Assessments are wonderful because they provide the prospect or client with additional information. Provide useful information, links to other sites (or yours), references to helpful organizations or even titles of books to read. Gear the assessment outcomes to focus on various products or services that you have developed so you can drive people to consider your various offerings. People like assessments because they can do them on their own and get immediate feedback. You may also consider bundling an assessment with a 15-minute complimentary consult allowing you to develop a stronger relationship with this prospect. 8. Celebrate special days in special ways. There are hundreds of different holidays celebrated throughout the year. Find a way to couple something you're doing with an upcoming holiday and share that with your customers. For example, if you're a relationship coach, you might want to send out a special report on celebrating Valentine's Day the week before. For folks who might be spending that day alone, you might provide a complimentary teleclass for everyone to get together to talk. If you're an event planner, you might wish to send out a special collection of easy-to-prepare recipes for the Fourth of July or the Super Bowl. These are simple things to do, but can mean a lot to your clientele. 9. Reward your long-time customers. It has been said that it costs up to six times as much to get a new customer than it does to maintain the ones you have. One of the best ways to maintain a good relationship with your current clients is by rewarding them for their long-term patronage. At least once each year, offer them discount coupons for themselves or to give to a friend, free product samples, or other promotions to thank them for doing business with you. This type of relationship building will go a long way in creating customer good will and it will probably result in many more referrals. Low cost offerings like this generate additional revenue for you, and can expand your client base with very little effort on your part. 10. Share the wealth. If you create new products or services based on customer requests, figure out some way to reward the person or persons who came up with the idea. You might compensate them by giving them complimentary access to your product or service. You can formally acknowledge them as an inspiration on your website, or you can send them a monetary or other gift as a “thank you”. © Copyright 2004 by Alicia Smith

         
     
         
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