Customer Value

Embrace Techonolgy, Cut Down Drive Time

At the risk of being redundant with recent reports, gas prices are on the rise.

613_blog What does that mean for your customer service? I've been reading where some small businesses, primarily delivery services, have started doing one of two things: including a gas charge in their fees, or simply not servicing areas that are more than 30 miles away.

I just mentioned in last week's post about not cutting your prices, and I'm here to tell you that charging a gas fee isn't the route to take, either. Customer service is the key to ALL business success. If you keep the customers happy, they'll keep coming back for more. Remember this was discussed here. If for a moment you can look past the increased costs of doing business and envision ways to keep up with the demands of the customer and help stabalize cost, embracing technology is the way-to-go.

Maybe now is a good time to evaluate the customers that you serve. This isn't a one size, fits all approach. The project manager at XYZ Accounting may not mind conducting project meetings via video teleconferencing (VTC), whereas the sales manager at XYZ Foods breaks down at the thought of having to appear on camera...

The first step is to realize what technology options such as gotomeeting and web video conferencing are available to you and which would be a good fit for you and that particular customer. Once you understand this, have a conversation with the customer about how much you value their business and how important it is to you to keep costs down and being able to keep the processes moving, then introduce your new meeting and follow-up options.

I know that I may  be making this sound more dramatic than it is, but my motive is to get you to think of what's possible outside of raising your fees or charging extra fees to visit the customer. I'm BIG on customer service and I don't think that the customer should have to pay to receive this feature. Get creative and keep the lines of communication open.  You'll be glad you did.

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Going For The Discount During A Recession

Are you a bit confronted or tempted to cut your prices during this economic downturn?

J0400966 If so, you are not alone. Professional services companies are faced with this reality, too. Today, I'm here to spare you the anxiety of possibly cutting prices. Freddy Nager over at
Atomic Tango, a creative strategy agency, gave these reasons why cutting your prices could do more harm than good:

1. It sends the message that you've been ripping your customers off all this time.
2. It means you'll have difficulty increasing your prices to "normal levels" when the economy starts jamming again.
3. It kills your profit margins, so you won't have the cash to do what might really make a difference to do during a recession: better marketing.

Freddy's blog also shares the importance of marketing the value of your services. Which leads me to my next point...

Yes, times are tough in this country, but don't lose sight. Remember who you are, what your product or service brings to the market, and how it's making a difference in the businesses of your current customers. It's time to visit Sales 101. Don't let a prospect pigeonhole you into lowering your prices, instead gently remind them of the customers your product or service has already helped (name-drop) and stick to your story.

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Where Has Good Customer Service Gone?

First, let me start by saying Happy New Year!

I’ve been spending most of my holiday with family and friends and overall, the experience has been refreshing.

On New Year’s Eve day, I decided to eat breakfast at a local restaurant. The experience left me thinking, ‘Where has good customer service gone?’ After being seated by the host, I decided another available location in a booth was more preferable than the table I was initially given. I asked if I could move and was surprised to hear the host say, “That’s another section, I’m not sure, let me go check.”

I didn’t need to hear the turmoil of the host not knowing and that being another section. I was expecting something like, I’m sorry that’s reserved or “Oh sure, sir, go right ahead!” Whatever happened to that?

This leads me to this post today. They say in life you should never waste an experience. Always use what you’re going through for the greater good of someone else. So I guess it’s safe to say that my turmoil is for your good.

What does it cost to retain customers vs. acquiring new ones?

According to authors Emmett C. Murphy and Mark A. Murphy’s Leading on the Edge of Chaos, acquiring new customers can cost five times more than satisfying and retaining current customers, a 2% increase in customer retention has the same effect on profits as cutting costs by10%, the average company loses 10% of its customers each year, a 5% reduction in customer defection rate can increase profits by 25-125%, depending on the industry and the customer profitability rate tends to increase over the life of a retained customer.

There you have it! That’s it in a nutshell. What are we doing to keep our current customers happy? It’s a matter of sales and excellent customer service. Many times the sales team is there to close the deal, then the customer is passed on to a formal customer relations program to ensure that the customer’s overall experience is managed. This is all good. In fact, I highly recommend having systems in place for retaining the customer. That’s ‘getting it’ when it comes to the profitability and success of your department or business.

I’ve been a customer of L.L.Bean for years and my experience has always been excellent. They go out of their way to accommodate my needs and they guarantee their products. Sure, I bet they get new customers logging on or entering their stores everyday to make a purchase, but they understand the value of paying attention to the customers they already have, and how profitable customer retention is to their bottom line. That’s being better than good.

The New Year is here...2008 is upon us, how are you planning to be better than good to your customer? Leave me a comment, I’m open to how we can maximize the lost art of “good customer service.” At Bizucate, we plan on making that a focus of ours for the new year.

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