March 18th, 2010 Archive

Think Fast

March 18th, 2010 by Adaire in Financial Freedom

Seconds. Can you believe that’s all the time you have to make an impression? What if you’re not prepared? How do you make a good impression? It doesn’t even end there. To ensure success, you have to make sure, too, that you’re providing the utmost service you can offer. That’s a lot of pressure to take in, especially for meeting new people or business and client prospects. I got you nervous right then didn’t I? :)

WelI, don’t fret, because I came across two Small Business CEO Magazine articles recently that I’d like to share with you. They spilled the beans on two of the money-making success secrets business owners have known and been applying in their businesses for years. 

By the second

Information sharing and delivery has changed dramatically these past years. Due to the increasing power, reach and influence of the Internet, business cards were replaced with websites.

When we first meet potential clients, we don’t just give them our numbers anymore, we also add in our emails and websites. More than a calling card, these websites can showcase everything about us and our business. Instead of waiting for the physical presentation of your portfolio, you could show them your works online in just a few minutes and clicks.

Thus, your websites have to be striking. Not just in design but more importantly, in content. It can be as simple as you want it to be, as long as it’s easily navigable and contains only the pertinent information that your client needs to know beforehand – on the home page at least.

What if your website’s full of clutter and is easy to get lost into — and not the good kind of lost but the get me out of here and turn it off kind of lost? That could be disastrous or embarrassing even. You definitely don’t want that happening. :)  

Luckily, Sandi Smith, who’s been in website design and development and has helped small business clients succeed for years, wrote Only Seconds to share some tips on website development with us.

Brainstorm

Whether or not you already have your own website, it’s important to keep things fresh and interesting. This comes from constant re-evaluation and brainstorming.

What’s your business about? What products or services do you offer? Do you want to continue on this path or do you want to add new packages? What are the goals you’ve set for yourself and your business?

Know your strength

You do not have to do this brainstorming alone. You could tap your colleagues and clients’ help to answer some questions.

Find out what you’re good at. What keeps your current clients happy? Get them involved. Take surveys from them, ask them questions, hold focused group discussions and discover your strengths as business owners and as a business. With this, you should be able to re-establish your unique selling proposition or USP – what sets you apart from the rest.

When you’ve done these things, you could either build on your current website or create a better one. Just make sure that it’s a site you would be proud of and would lead clients to you instead of turn them away from you. It has to be a reflection of who you and should make it very clear to the customer s what your business is and what you could offer them that others cannot.


It’s about them

One of the foundations of business is your customers. Without them, you won’t have any income and quite frankly, no or less reason to be around in business in the first place. :)

It’s one thing to catch their attention and get them interested and excited about the prospect of working for them or with them. But, as mentioned above, it doesn’t end there because you have to follow through with excellent service. There’s also something to be said for building a great relationship with clients that fosters years of good business and good times.

That’s what Rita Ballard, a virtual assistant for seven years and owner of Healer’s Helper, wants to emphasize in her article Are You Providing Outstanding Customer Service?

A few ideas

Being with customers is a lot like being on stage. You can’t let them see what’s going on with your personal life or make them feel whatever you’re feeling, because it’s all about them. This is important to remember. :) You are in the business you’re in because you have a unique product or service that you can offer, which you use to answer a specific market need. Every time you face a customer, that’s what you want them to see. I don’t mean that you have to be less than honest with them or some such. You just have to remember that there’s a time for everything. Being in front of a customer means business. You can always deal with your personal situations after work.

Always remember that tone, gestures or actions and manner are also very important when dealing with clients. Your tone relays your message, your actions support them and your manners cement the deal. Be courteous on the phone or in person, add a few gestures and touches to make the setting more friendly and personal and don’t forget to show them respect. When they feel they could trust you, you’ll be first on their list. When they remember your excellent service and you’ve captured their attention and preference, they’ll end up going back to you repeatedly – with possible references and word-of-mouth advertising too. :)

Practices that benefit

To give you a better view on how you could reap benefits from excellent customer-service, let me quote and share below the exact same practices that Rita Ballard follows in her own business (and in Rita’s own words no less :) ):

  • Promptly return phone calls.
  • Go the extra mile; give a little extra, for free.
  • Send small, inexpensive (but not cheap or tacky) gifts to new clients.
  • Keep in constant contact.
  • Remember customers on major holidays with a card or postcard.
  • Ask, “Is there anything else I can help you with?”, and mean it.
  • Chat with your customers about their interests.
  • Offer to link back to their websites, or place an article of theirs on your site.
  • Refer them to others who need what they offer.
  • Always say, “Thank you!”
  • Call or email just to say hi.
  • Tell them how much you enjoy working with them – often.
  • Provide freebies occasionally – articles, pens, notepads, etc.
  • Remember birthdays.
  • Be creative and unique.
  • Show them easier, more efficient, or faster ways to do things.

When dealing with customers, always remember that they’re the stars and it’s all about them. Excellent customer service equals success. Before you get there, you’ll have to work and capture your clients’ attention by making a good first impression. Be sure that you don’t waste any of yours and more importantly, their time. :) Make the first few seconds count, since they are, quite possibly, the only ones you’re going to get.

Do you have anecdotes on first impressions or additional customer-service tips you’d like to share? Just post in the comments section below and let us know.

Until next time!

Adaire