I recently saw a series of television advertisements for a large business touting their customer service. The commercial starts with a customer relating a story about good customer service they received. Then the employee and the customer, often with tears streaming down their faces, talk about how special their encounter was. This large company has to demonstrate, sell their customer service to us.
Why? My theories - First, because it is not the norm. Consider the last time you conducted business with a large company. I'm sure the employees were nice, probably thanked you for doing business with them. Chances are it sounded mechanical, the same you've heard every time you visited the business. Second, because big business is not truly customer service focused. Think of how many large companies you see advertising their customer service. In defense of big business, customer service is difficult because their employees don't have an immediate investment in whether or not you are happy.
In big business, customer service for employees is dictated by rules and regulations. They only need to meet the minimum requirements set by company policies and procedures The employees are a small cog in a large wheel. They don't have skin in the game!
Big business also works on averages. With a large customer base, having 5% unsatisfied customers is a win. What if you are one of those 5% of customers? Keep in mind, that 5% is thousands of unsatisfied customers.
Small businesses thrive on providing great customer service. They know their livelihood depends on repeat business, providing goods and services that meet the needs of the customer. Small business owners can see the immediate, negative impacts of providing bad customer service. Just one bad event can drop their sales. Their reputation IS their business, their livelihood.
Small businesses are often a member of the community they serve whether it is a small geographical area, or a small niche market that can stretch worldwide. They know they have a greater chance of encountering one of their customers again in the future.
Next time you are considering a purchase or contracting for services, seek out a small business. Providing great customer service is one area that big business just can not compete with small business. Think about it - Big business spends millions in advertising to demonstrate they have great customer service!!
You may pay a little more for a specific service with a small business because they don't work on big business averages of bulk purchasing economies, but you get so much more when buy goods or services from a small business. Consider that you are directly investing in a community as well.
Thousands, no millions of social media postings, web advertisements and even the spam form entries you probably get on your web site, if you have a contact form, promise to increase traffic, or visits to your company's website. Beware!
We've seen companies offering to increase visits to your website does increase visits to your website!!! Good news??? Not always. We see that most of these visits are from strange, or suspicious locations on the web. We suspect that many are generated by software rather than a real person. A few of our customers have tried them and seen no increase in sales.
Also, consider how major search engines, like Bing, Google, Yahoo, etc, work. Search engines use data provided by the user such as past search results, their location, and other information from the terms they enter in the search to find the results best suited for the user. This is great news for us as users so when we are looking for a place to get our car tire repaired our search results will be local to us. Great news for local businesses that provide those services as much of the web traffic they receive will be from people near them.
So what can you do? You do want to increase the number visits to your website to reach more potential customers or clients.
Ideas that cost money:
Ideas that don't cost money:
It is important that we emphasize - Your web site is one part of a greater whole when it comes to advertising your company. Don't rely on having a website only. You need to incorporate additional ideas such as link-backs, printed media, and traditional advertising to create an overall marketing strategy.
Meetings are an important part of getting work done, sharing information, and ensuring everyone is on their tasks. However, we often see there are too many meetings, and the majority are not productive - actually they are counter productive.
Things to consider about holding meetings:
1. It costs money! - Think about a meeting you recently attended. How many people were there? Then estimate how much each person makes an hour and add that up. Also consider time for IT support, admin work scheduling the meeting, and other tasks that must be accomplished to conduct the meeting. It all adds up to a realistic cost.
2. It takes time away from other work - There are meetings that are important, but consider you are taking employees away from their daily tasks to attend a critical meeting.
3. Technology has greatly improved communication - There was a time, before cell phones, online chat, email that meetings were critical to improving communication.
So when do you hold a meeting?
There are other good reasons to hold a meeting, but ensure they have a specific purpose, a deliverable that you can point to after the meeting is over.
When not to meet?
The next time you consider calling a meeting together ask yourself a few questions; "What will I learn from the meeting that I could not learn some other way?", "What is the deliverable to expect from the meeting?" Yes, you should have something to show from your meeting. (See our blog articles on agendas such as "Effective Meeting Agendas." Most importantly, "How much will it cost in money and lost time from work and is it worth it?"
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