Are You Losing Customers?

Are you so successful that you can afford to lose good, long-term customers?  Most of us want to retain customers and continue to provide value for them.  But  inflexible policies and procedures can cost you business.

dreamstime_s_43391176Let me share a story.  I recently moved from Florida to California.  I notified my banks, the IRS, my credit card companies, etc.   All transferred me over to the new address except one- a gas company.  I had been their customer for 26 years. That's a long time. I typically spent $4000 a year with them, including some $500 moving across country

And they would not allow me to change my address.  I called and they said I needed to provide proof of the move in writing,  Which I did- to no avail.  They continued to send bills to the old address, where anyone could see my credit card number and use it. (Most companies no longer put account numbers on bills for this very reason.)  They were not concerned about that kind of fraud; I was.

They refused to accept the proof I sent them. They wanted something from the Secretary of State of California. They were absolutely rigid and unyielding. And so I cancelled my card.  They lost a 26 year customer over a policy.

It's the exact opposite of how a customer-focused organization like the Ritz Carlton operates.  As I understand it, every employee is empowered to fix a customer problem up to $200.  Above that, they can go higher and seek assistance for the guest.

That's how you keep long-term customers.  Think about your policies and the way you do business.  Could some added flexibility enhance relationships?

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©2016, Snowden McFall All Rights Reserved. You may share this post and reprint with author reference and copyright.

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The NO, NO, NO Woman

man yell into phoneLRRecently, I was shopping at a retail store which had a big sale.  (This was a week before Black Friday.) I had half an hour before my meeting and zipped in, found what I wanted and stood in a looonnnng line where only two cashiers were working. (Personal pet peeve- when you have a sale, staff up for it.)

While I was waiting, a woman was trying to return some pastry making items.  Very loudly, this older cashier said, "These caps don't have a safety seal. " The customer replied "They never had and they have not been opened." The NO, NO, NO Woman said, "I have to call my supervisor," which she did very loudly and said "This lady is returning pastry items with no safety seal.  Can we take them back?"  Want to guess what her boss said?

No. And then the NO, NO, NO woman proceeded to humiliate the poor customer further by shouting out- "No, we can't take this back."

The whole thing was completely unnecessary.  And unpleasant!  And time consuming.  I never did get to buy those items that morning, as the time exceeded what I had allotted before my meeting.

Lessons here:  Never put NO, NO, NO people in customer service.  NEVER humiliate the customer.  Don't sell products that can't be returned unless you notify people.  And find some YES employees.  Is it any wonder why some retailers are in trouble?????

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©2014 Snowden McFall All Rights Reserved. You may share this post and reprint with author reference and copyright.

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5 Ways to Fire Up Your Sales

Ignite Your Sales with These Quick Tips 

Never push a prospect- add value.

Never force or manipulate- demonstrate listening and caring.

Businessmen Handshake1.Truly listen to your customers
Everyone wants to be heard, and appreciated. Ask what their needs and concerns are, find out what successes they have had, focus on them and do whatever you can to help, even if it means you don't get the sale, this time.  Be a valued resource and trusted advisor.

2. Use stories and customer testimonials -   Give examples of real people who have had a problem you solved. Tell the truth. And use customer testimonials to back up your stories. Always get written permission.  Here's an example from one of my speaking programs: "Snowden McFall, may I personally say what a fabulous speaker you are. We all enjoyed your keynote speech. Productivity is certainly the topic of the decade. Thank you from the bottom of my heart." Mary Fisher - I asked her permission to use and she said absolutely.

3. WIFT Always focus on the benefits to that particular customer.  What is in it for them?  Why choose you over all the other competitors out there?  Demonstrate you understand their needs, fears and pain points and show you have
proven solutions for them.

4. Overcome objections by raising them yourself.
You know what the push-back is.  Overcome it by demonstrating why the objection is not valid, or how you have resolved it.  Show you think like they do.

5. Have genuine enthusiasm for your products or service. Nothing sells like genuine enthusiasm- it is rare and it is contagious.  Get Fired Up! about what you are sharing and keep that top of mind. Your Fire will spread and ignite theirs.

 

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©2014 Snowden McFall All Rights Reserved. You may share this post and reprint with author reference and copyright.

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Good Customer Service- NOT

AT & T Did Not Make This Customer Happy

Screaming man who is very stressed outHave you ever had the experience of dealing with someone where you just could not get anywhere and you were incredibly frustrated, maybe even furious? Enter AT&T business, whom I have used for decades.  When we moved to Florida , I set up my business account with them. In the spring, my plan expired.  I was exploring savings options and called them to see what they could do on pricing.

They quoted me one price, but when I got the bill, it was much higher. I called and inquired if there was some mistake and they said no, and that was the bill.

So I explored other options and found I could dave over $65 a month with Comcast, bundling my services.  I called and canceled my AT & T service.

And then I got my bill.  At & T actually charged me $165 for canceling service. They said we had a "verbal agreement" which they refused to produce for me.  I never would have agreed to a cancellation fee when I was still exploring options. I explained all this and got NOWHERE.  ARGGGHH.

As a thirty year small business owner, I certainly would not treat my clients the way I was treated. There was no flexibility, no opportunity to do anything else.

And what they don't realize is that as a professional speaker, I encounter thousands of people in my audiences.  I love sharing great customer service stories.  And unfortunately, this is an example of a bad one.

When something like that happens to you, one of the best ways to deal with it is go work out.  Exerting your frustration on a punching bag or by running, biking, swimming or some other physical outlet makes you feel better.  You're doing something good for yourself and releasing the negativity of the experience.

How about you?  Ever had a bad experience with your telephone or Internet provider?Email me at orders@firedupnow.com.  I look forward to hearing from you.

 

To sign up for Snowden’s ezine newsletter on stress, happiness, marketing and motivation, please go to: http://firedupnow.com/firedupemailregister.html

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©2013 Snowden McFall All Rights Reserved. No duplication or reprinting without permission and author reference

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A Good Customer Service Story

All it Takes is Kindness and Attention

Thank you notes keep employees Fired Up!

A few weeks ago, between appointments, I ran into Dillards to return something and stopped by the Estee Lauder counter.  Surprisingly, I had a delightful time.  Karen greeted me warmly, inquired as to my needs and then went a step further. She got to know me. She observed I had bought some new suits, and I explained I was a professional speaker. We had a great conversation about stress, and she said, "Let me check your previous sales slip." Seems I was entitled to a 10% discount that had not been taken by the other salesperson. She voided out everything, reentered it and saved me over $20 on a variety of purchases.  She took my name and contact info for future sales, and gave me a card.  It was a wonderful experience.  She demonstrated a personal interest, valued me, made my shopping more positive and memorable. That's what I call customer service. How are you doing that for your customers?

©2012 Snowden McFall All Rights Reserved.  No duplication or reprinting without permission and author reference

Why is Good Customer Service So Rare?

Ok- I admit it- I'm frustrated.  Very frustrated.  I have dealt with many vendors including phone companies, insurance companies, and banks this week who seem like they could care less about their customers.  They don't return phone calls, they change your plan without your permission, they start charging you fees out of the blue because they want to and they really don't care if you are unhappy.  They break agreements, lie to you and then consider this acceptable.  This is not the way to run a business.

You and I both know that if we treated my customers and clients the way I have been treated this week, we would be out of business. In my speeches and trainings, we focus on adding value to the customer, delighting them, giving them so much more than they expect.  Often what happens is they become viral advocates for your business and tell others how great you are.  But that's not the reason to do it.  The reason to do it is because that's the way to do smart business- to provide quality, excellence and added value.  That's how you stay in business.

Maybe one of these days conglomerates will start to understand that- as their customers leave in droves.  I am certainly thinking about it.

How about you?  Any great customer service stories?

 ©2011 Snowden McFall All Rights Reserved. No duplication 
or reprinting without permission and author reference

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What’s In it For Them?

Focus on Customer Needs First and Foremost

All too often, as a CEO, entrepreneur, manager or leader, we are looking at our bottom line, our corporate goals, our sales forecasts. etc. Equally important is to focus on the needs and issues of our customers and clients.  What issues are they facing?  What is happening in their industry?  How can you help them meet their needs- even if it means referring them to someone else for business solutions you can't provide.

Becoming a resource for your clients, where you focus on what THEY need, makes you an invaluable partner in their success.  It may also mean you develop new products and services to match current demand and it may impact your future strategies in the marketplace.

Bob Burg's books on adding valueAdd value first to others, send them articles on subjects they are interested in, try to solve their problems, even if it means you don't do business together.  The more helpful you are and the more sincerely interested you are in them, the more they will remember you and refer you to others.

For more information on this concept, read Bob Burg's great book The Go-Giver.

To sign up for Snowden's ezine newsletter on stress, happiness, marketing and motivation, go to: http://firedupnow.com/firedupemailregister.html

 ©2011 Snowden McFall All Rights Reserved. No duplication

 

Take Excellent Care of Your Customers

Shaking handsOne of the most important dimensions of any marketing plan should be customer retention. The best way to keep your business healthy is to take excellent care of your existing customers.

Even if the primary work you have done for them has been completed, check in regularly- at least once every 4-6 weeks.  Educate your customers, send them articles, post information on your website, send out ezines. Have lunch when you can.  Send them greeting cards.

A personal touch means so much.

Let them know you value you them. Always thank them for referrals- write handwritten notes and let them know how much you appreciate their business.

Never, ever, take them for granted.

 

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The Value of Great Customer Service

Last night, we had two completely different dining experiences, which highlight the value of excellent customer service. It was a special occasion: we were celebrating the fact that my new book, Stress Express! 15 Instant Stress Relievers had been sent to press. We had invited some dear friends for a nice dinner out. We chose a beachfront restaurant, made reservations for a waterfront table, got dressed up and drove over. After we were seated, a waitress who clearly did not want to be our waitress came over and asked us what our member number was??? We explained that we were not members, that we had made reservations and no one had told us we had to be members. In a huff, she left the table, saying she had to talk to the manager.

We waited five minutes for the young, gruff and unpolished jr. manager to come over. He explained this was a private club. We said our friends so and so (whose family must have been members) had recommended the restaurant and that no one told us when we made reservations that we had to be members. He made it very clear that we had to leave now, in a rather embarrassing fashion. Completely insincerely, he said “I ‘m very sorry.” Not how I wanted my special night to start.

We called our friends, who had nearly arrived, and told them our conundrum. We then tried to figure out where we could go on a Sat. night. I called the Aqua Grill in Ponte Vedra from my cell, made reservations for four.

That was the beginning of our special night! We were greeted warmly when we came in and seated shortly after we arrived. My husband told the general manager, Cary Paige, about our unfortunate experience and how this was to be a celebratory evening. Cary empathized and demonstrated quickly his philosophy of service. After we were welcomed enthusiastically by Tricia, who artfully described the best entrees on the menu, we were treated to a complimentary serving of BangBang shrimp- absolutely delicious. We were so touched that they would make that generous gesture, but that was just the beginning. Throughout the evening, Cary, Tara and Tricia came to check on us, find out about the book and chat with us. Their interest in us and our experience was clearly genuine and made us feel valued. Every appetizer (we had three more) was scrumptious and our entrees were equally so. Generous servings of delicious food delighted us all, plus we had a lovely view of the lake. The highlight came when the dessert arrived with a miniature drawing of my book (with title ) in raspberry syrup! What a great touch. So thoughtful and so memorable. Of course we got a photo and I was absolutely thrilled. Now that was excellent customer service.

What they did at Aqua Grill was listen and make us feel valued. They took an extra few steps to turn around a special night and we will never forget it. Their interest in us was sincere; they delighted in celebrating with us. Their culture of service carried from the top down to everyone we encountered. They invested in us and they will definitely see the return. It’s now my new favorite restaurant and I will share with others how terrific they are. Although it’s rare, great customer service pays off in untold dividends. Thank you Aqua Grill, for a fabulous night!

http://aquagrill.net 950 Sawgrass Village Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082 (904) 285-3017