Category Archives: Customer Service

Social Media Engagement is More Than a Thumbs Up!

Social Media Engagement is More Than a Thumbs UP!
By Talmar Anderson
Talmar It Up, LLC

 

“Social media is THE way to economically and organically grow a business.” That is what a lot of entrepreneurs are being told by well-meaning friends, vendors and other business owners.  And it certainly can be. However, please be aware that engagement is REALLY how social media works for helping significant leaps happen for your company.  Clients sometimes list social media under their marketing plans with a line item expense of little to minimum costs.  I challenge that because your social media plans need to include engaging with your audience to take full advantage.  Engaging certainly costs more (whether more of a commitment of your and your team’s time or by hiring an outside marketing vendor) but WOW, that is where that exciting and exponential growth can come from for your company.  Whether growing to a billion dollar company like Chobani or developing a raving and true following like Chubbies Shorts (clothing line with marketing content that is real AND funny), engagement can help a company sell products/services, grow market share, build brand awareness and even improve operations. (You know I love the last part!) …. Consider focusing on this piece if social media is in your marketing plan or a part of your strategy for the year.

Pushing out posts, messages and pictures can provide true value when engagement is a part of the plan.  Your social media plan must include assigning not just the content creation and the management of the posting schedule, but also who is authorized to respond to your audience. How are they allowed to position your company through responses? also cover how to capture and track the engagement data that your audience is giving you with every “thumbs up”, share or comment.

As you start spending time and energy for engagement consider that it is more than going through to “like” posts. Your process should include thoughtful consideration on how you handle the good and bad comments. Want a great response? Choose an area that you think you are doing well and ask that loaded question. “What could we do better with…?” Boy howdy, strap into your seat and get ready. Continually encouraging feedback (good AND bad) will help your company define and improve on what your clients really want. We all know that social media lets the public they you what they really think about any given subject.

What can engagement do for YOUR company?

  • PR (stands for public RELATIONS people!)
    • building a larger market opportunity through awareness and education
  • Build your brand and reputation
    • Here is where your company’s responsive, timeliness and topical relevance can shine
  • Improve customer satisfaction and operations
    • Gathering data on what clients like, want, don’t like and LOVE. See below for a great example!

I love this one excellent example that could EASILY be applied by any small business. Recently, Elon Musk and his company Tesla took a social media post complaining about how cars were parking in the charging stations and within eight days created an entirely new company wide- process. It is well thought out. (Check out this Inc. article for more details HERE). This whiplash-speed operational change not only resolved the issue to incentivize people to get out of those spots and free them up for other customers who need to charge their electric cars but allowed that it could also create a new revenue stream.

I do recommend developing your social media plan to include a thorough engagement commitment and policy. Certainly, an outward push is helpful but incoming information and your team consistently monitoring to allow responsive, considerate engagement and ensure there are no great opportunities missed is where the bigger “bang for your dollar” comes in.  The right engagement in the right moment will enhance your reputation, build a more loyal fan base and potentially grow more of the market share. Engagement can help you deliver exactly what your clients want AND operational follow up can build immediate brand loyalty and strengthen your company’s reputation. Now Go! Grow!

Are you on the Talmar It Up mailing list yet? Join now to be sure to directly receive insights, clarity and business operation answers. Check it out in the latest blog post HERE.

 

 

 

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Surveys and Polls. Yes but the Proof is in the Bottom Line!

Surveys and Polls. Yes but the Proof is in the Bottom Line!
By Talmar Anderson

Understanding what needs and results your market will be moved to purchase can be a changing target.  Specific review and checking in with your customers and prospects is always a great step as a focused effort ( at LEAST annually). Technology changes accessibility to solutions, economic swings can inspire more or less spending and innovation can change an entire industry.  (VHS anyone? I still say “tape” to digitally record anything!) If you have been following the Talmar It Up blog or worked with me in any way, I hope you have heard me say, “Sell what your audience wants to buy instead of what YOU want to sell”.  The idea is that some business owners will be convinced that a product or service is what their target market really wants or needs. “Really. They need this.”  During these conversations, I love to get it straight from the “horse’s” mouth.  There are a few ways to do this…let’s check it out.

Surveys and polls are a great a way to reach out and create a separate conversation opportunity outside of the in the moment service or purchase. Maybe you have a system that delivers the survey to the clients at the end of the engagement or perhaps you just want to do a focused assessment of a general concept.  How is one solution working for the market?

Even if you regularly collect this data, a big picture overview with an eye to the next 12 months can be hugely beneficial.  These efforts can start internally but may need to include research for a larger market not just your clients. However, don’t let this stop you. At least start with your current contacts, prospects and clients to gather data.

During these surveys pick 3-5 questions that are targeted at a certain product or service satisfaction level.  If you try to capture too much at once, your few willing participants will get interrupted, frustrated or lose interest and you will receive far fewer responses. Look at interaction on the value or benefits your company’s solutions offer to current client pain points.  If your company offers more than one solution, you can ask them to rank their preferred product or solution. Regardless of how you structure your surveys remember this is just a sampling of the views of a few within your market. Certainly, there is value here but it is a limited perspective.

A poll is a quick and focused way to lead your market to respond to one specific question. This single question with multiple choice answers allow you to lead and limit choices.  As we know, there is usually one person who will choose ‘None of the Above” because they feel the choices do not perfectly fit their way of thinking.  You can consider allowing “Other” as a choice with a write in field.  Some innovative and clever ideas can come in this way but it can dilute the focus if you are trying to understand how your offering fits with your thought out alternatives in the pol question.

If you are choosing this time to understand what your market wants from you…I would also consider talking to their wallets! Let’s do a 3-6 month review of YOUR company.

If you are trying to decide where to focus your next marketing effort or which product service to be promoting, make sure to go back to your numbers.  What has ACTUALLY resulted in revenue for your company? Is anything trending up?  This can be enlightening and get you ahead of either a growing need.  Take the time to understand why these customers purchased because you have readily available access. What you have sold over the last few months IS what your market wanted.

Asking you clients, prospects and target market what they need and want to buy is a regular part of any business looking to have longevity.  Very few companies sell exactly the same item, exactly the same way 5, 10 or 20 years down the line.  Certainly, more than a few companies that have kept the nose to the grind stone and just kept pounding out the products have been run out of business.

By asking we can gain insight, inspiration and validation for our company and its services. This can also uncover a new opportunity or segment of your target market to access. Growth, my friends, is often on the other side of an ask. The most successful entrepreneurs and business owners LOVE a good question! Now GO! Grow.

Are you on the Talmar It Up mailing list yet? Join now to be sure to directly receive insights, clarity and business operation answers. Or reach out to chat with Talmar for structure and process to grow your business HERE

Is Your Price Increase going to Make Your Clients Happier?

Is your price increase going to make your clients happier?
Higher prices mean better service so Get Your Operations Organized!!
By Talmar Anderson

Deciding to increase pricing can be a difficult piece in any business if you do not make it a regular part of your strategic review process. Is now the right time for a price increase?  Are you worried how the customer will respond? If you are a company that understands both the business need and the market demand that should be involved with a fee or pricing increase, there is a way to make sure success and happy customers are on the other end of those new price quotes. We need to ensure we deliver on every touch outside of the product or service delivery time. “Ummm, but aren’t the clients buying the product? Isn’t that the point?” Yes, and no.

Yes, I am SURE you are brilliant at what your business offers and have got down that repeatable process.  Now, I want to ask about ALL the other repeatable processes that your clients crave and covet.  In fact, this piece is where your business can turn clients into;

  • fans that understand the value and barely consider the pricing when writing checks

OR

  • reputation & growth stoppers that lightning fast switch from current to previous clients

Customer service is where you add high level value that give your clients confidence in you, your business and allows them to trust you to steward their needs.

Think about your own experiences. Have you ever dropped a restaurant from your neighborhood rotation after saying, “The food was alright but phew, that bad service!”? Or have you ever chosen a restaurant because of the ambiance and great service instead of thinking of the food items on the menu first?

What about shopping in a high end store? It’s the always smiling assistants and the complimentary conversation you get from everyone.  I mean…it is a shirt.  You could buy it online, right?

Here is a big list of client engagement processes that will support your higher pricing. Consider how your business handles each of these.

  • On boarding new clients/customers
  • Billing, payments and credit card changes
  • Appointment setting, reminders and follow up
  • Prospect calls and appointments
  • Contract /engagement renewal
  • End of engagement
  • Support options and contact details for outside engagement needs
  • Resource or Recommendation management
  • Marketing process – don’t keep selling to a closed client…they should be on a different list!
  • Questions – Even if you think you have laid out the answers, higher value and there ore higher priced businesses  will always offer a place to direct your questions

The key to happy clients, whatever your price, is not just to set up these processes but to communicate HOW to use these processes from the moment one of them converts to your client. A business needs to set expectation early – when and how clients can engage with each of these processes. Make sure your customer always know what is going on by setting expectation Number 2: each process will need to communicate an anticipated response time. If your clients know it could take 48 hours – it keeps panic of being lost in the shuffle at bay! The last piece should be obvious, make sure your business meets or exceeds these promises! Timeliness is the definition

If this sounds like a lot …it is.  If you have not already, it is time to start hiring your support team.  A growing and profitable business will require more than your 2,080 hours a year and will be better served if it is not all on you.  Did you hear that?  YOUR business will be happier and even better if you get help!  

Understanding this need for hiring NOW will allow you to value price your services with consideration to your growing staff costs!  Clients will value knowing they don’t have to wait for you to finish with other clients to get responses to their questions.  Clients will value knowing that their immediate need is someone’s priority – not necessarily waiting on a list for you to “get to” between meetings. That operational contact and organization can either stop growth in its tracks or turn your satisfied client into a full voiced and excited advocate! The later would make ME happy as a business owner, what about you?

Want more Talmar? Check it out here!

Are you Good, or Good Enough? Time for a Reputation Audit

By Talmar Anderson

Originally published Oct. 19, 2012

Your favorite clients love you (of course!) The worst client blew up a gripe into a whole attack on the company.  Do you really know how your company presents? Are you good, or good enough? Are you really nice but a little slow?  Are you slightly abrasive but getting the job done? Everyone wants their clients to refer them more business.  That’s the best referral stream, right?  The problem is that just like you, most businesses will stay with a vendor that is “good enough” for a little while. Maybe longer.  The idea of finding a new resource and trying them out is time-consuming and creates the awkward conversation.  You know the business equivalent of “It’s not you.  It’s me”. But that “good enough” time is DAMAGING to your company’s reputation!

“So, Honey Boo Boo, I need a new IT company to support my business.  How is your guy?” “Eh. They are ok. They are not very expensive but I have to wait a day or two for them to get back to us. I can send you the contact info, if you want?”  Ooofff! Who would want that contact info? MISSED NEW BUSINESS!! A potential client with an immediate need and an existing client did not get you the call????

By looking at how each person performs every step within your business, you will have an opportunity to improve your reputation.  You can survey the market, survey the current clients, survey the past clients and you can hire an outside source to truly come in and take your company for a test drive.  You need to protect your business’ name like it is your first-born.

Take ownership of all breakdowns in product or service delivery.  All businesses have missteps or they are not growing.  Learn and keep going.  Adapt and deliver what the clients need and want. Recognize a consistent problem in your processes and look for new solutions.  Remember, what you intended your service or product to do is not what you are protecting.  It is your company’s ability to satisfy the clients. That is what will keep bringing you new business. That is where success lays. That is what people talk about when they talk about your company.

What Does Your Company Need to Do Better?

By Talmar Anderson

Originally posted Nov. 20, 2012

Do you know your competitors?  Who are they?  What do they charge?  Where are they located?  But here is the important one….what do they offer that your company does not?

This may seem like a backward way of asking what you do better than them but I really do mean…what do they do better than you?  As a business owner, you need to be able to answer this to ensure your success.

Sometimes a competitor is better at a segment of your industry.  If you’re fortunate, it is a segment that you do not particularly like and may be able to create a referral partnership.  You are more likely to make mistakes (which cost money and time to fix) in the areas that you do not like anyway. Do they offer more of a selection of products or services?  Does this lessen their quality control or expertise? By offering a narrow service list, are you more specialized? More fluent in these problem solving? More connected within the niche of the industry? Sometimes a competitor can be a partner and referral to back you up, sometimes the competitor can help you focus your offering and sometimes they are just a really good measuring stick.  What do their clients love about them?  Which does lead to…what does your company need to do better?

I couldn’t do it without you…no, really!

By Talmar Anderson

Originally published Apr. 4, 2013

In moments of stress, who do you turn to?  When you have great flashes of success, who is in the room with you? Gratitude is a reoccurring theme I have been noticing this year.  While it is fine to notice it, make sure to turn it to action.  There is a place for sitting in the moment and finding peace with where you are at that EXACT moment and being grateful (This would be one of my moments.  I am writing to all of you from my balcony, listening to the blue ocean waves while a soft breeze swirls around me. I am grateful for where I am.) But action is where team building and supportive relationships really build for greater success, whether in your business or your personal life.

Powerful “thank you”s come in many sizes and shapes. A powerful thank you is one that will allow a person to feel that they personally contributed to your feeling of gratitude.

Being grateful it is a sunny day does not involve your staff.  Being thank full that all the projects were finished in a timely enough manner as to allow you to enjoy the sunny day is good.  Better is the face to face thank you that tells your staff member exactly what they did ( gave you a heads up on a project flaw that saved time or finding a work around AND resolving a problem before it was even brought to your attention).  There is powerful connection in thanking a person one on one and letting them know how they helped you. Whatever the reason, if they saved you time, made you laugh, made you feel safe, made you lots of money!

Whether a member of your team, a friend or a family member, letting a person know how their actions contributed and how it made you feel will build that relationship.  Saying it when they least expect it builds on that connection.  You can take a moment in a very busy situation.  Saying it immediately in the moment of the assistance can be effective too.  Gifts given are best if hand delivered but appreciated if accompanied with a sincere note.  The thank you that you extend will be returned to you again and again.  I promise.

Think about it….which of your clients do you most enjoy working with? I am willing to bet it is the one that appreciates your insight, product and delivery.  They are grateful to be working with you. Is it time to thank the people that make your days go well?