Customer Service is not about Technology, It’s About Keeping Up With the Customer

23 January 2014 Categories: Blog, Customer Service

It’s not about technology; it’s about the customer and how the customer is getting information.

Yesterday I receive a  call from a floor covering retailer about technology.

“I just can’t keep up with it, he said, I don’t know what to do first!”

This is a common cry from business owners who believe that technology is the key to their existence.  They think if they don’t learn everything about it, their business will fail.

Yes technology is changing every day, but that’s not the problem. The problem is finding your consumer.  The consumer  has  found new friends in cyberspace. Instead of starting their product search in your retail store; they are starting their search online. To  keep your business alive; you must know the following two things:

  1. Who is your primary customer? No, not everyone is a customer. Your customer should be profitable and should want to sing your praises. (This customer is probably a referral.)
  2. Where online does your customer hang out? (Everyone has their favorite places to connect.)

Your customer may still be at the Chamber of Commerce or at the Networking Group, but they are also online. To keep up with your customers, you will need to know their favorite haunts. Why spend all of your days on Facebook chasing down a customer and then realize they’re on LinkedIn?

Google has been writing about the Customer’s Zero Moments of Truth, ZMOT to give us an idea of what’s fueling the customer. Instead of telling us “what technology to use” they are telling us to find our customer. I have linked you to an article I wrote for the Albany Times Union on the ZMOT.

Three ideas from  Google are worth significant attention. When it comes to the customer, Google suggests the following: Here is a video link to ZMOThttp://v1.zeromomentoftruth.com/google-zmot-es.pdf.

  1. Know where your customer hangs out and show up to engage.
  2. Show up often. (Don’t be a stranger or ‘one-hit wonder.’ hit wonder.’
  3. Know what to say when you show up.

If your primary business is B-to-B, then LinkedIn might be the place to show up. What will you show up for? Note the above. Either join a group connected with your industry and the people you want to know. If there isn’t a group, start your own.

If your primary business is retail, check out Facebook, Pinterest and Houzz. If you’re not sure which ones apply to your customers, ask them.

Let’s stop kidding ourselves. Most searches start on-line. Our job is to decide where our customers are on-line and meet them there. This is where the dance begins.  The idea is to get the customer to engage with you so get to know and trust you. Once this happens they will consider going to your retail store.

Today engagement is all about listening to, and talking with the customer. The days of “telling the customer anything” are over.

Lisbeth has been coaching businesses for over 25 years. Her focus is helping businesses use customer service to impact the bottom line. Not sure where to begin? Give Lisbeth a call and share your thoughts. Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com or 518-495-5380.

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Success Is Not All About You

12 January 2014 Categories: Blog, Motivation

Success is about everyone.

Many of us grew up wanting to conquer the world. We didn’t want partners; we just needed challenges.

There’s a point where you realize that true success is when the team achieves success and everyone gets what they want.  Unfortunately, there are many who don’t want to share success, they want it all for themselves. As a “mostly” only child, my sister was six years younger than me. I always felt I was the star.  My parents doted on me and everything I did was wonderful. My one good quality as a kid was that I shared my toys until my sister came along.

 

Many of us are “self-starters’ or entrepreneurs. The good news is we “can do it by ourselves,” the bad news is we only want to do it alone. The key is to recognize that it’s a lot easier and quicker if we join forces with others. We also have the opportunity to learn from others and improve our “vision” of the world.

How do we make it happen? First, we have to realize that every employee brings different skills and attitudes. It doesn’t mean everyone is great, but together they can shine and  produce something awesome.  It’s like being the team captain and loving the results.

How do you build a great team?

If you’re the team captain, forget about all those well-rounded employees. It’s doubtful that you have them. Instead look at everyone’s strong points and figure out how to use each of their skills. Maybe some people have considerable interpersonal skills and get along with everyone. Some people have great attitudes. Support those with the skills and help them get better. Make sure you find something that works for each of them.

Know your goals and what you’re trying to achieve. Give each person a spot and help them succeed. Some people need more support and praise then others—give it to them.

Maybe its attitude, or interpersonal skills, or teamwork, or a specific skill set… whatever it is, that attribute is the foundation for individual employees and for your team. Training can fill in the gaps, but this is the attribute almost every employee must possess.

Look at your puzzle. Can you take weaker people and help them achieve and shine? Long term it’s a lot less work if you can get others to do it for you. Once they have their maiden voyage, they will get better. I worked with a group that decided to create a cookbook for their customers. The first year it was so much work that several times the leader wanted to tell all of them to leave it alone, and she would do it. The next year it was like “a walk through the park” as they say. Everyone knew who they could depend on and what each person was capable of doing. Now they’re working on the third year and they are getting incredibly creative. Everyone learned from this event, especially the manager who was able to continue her work while everyone found their place. For some interesting ways to motivate your employees, check out how to motivate employees.

Lisbeth A. Calandrino is a high energy inspirational speaker who brings practical ideas that can immediate applied to the workplace. She combines real life stories and cutting edge strategies to support organizational change. To motivate your organization, Lisbeth can be reached at lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com

 

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Will 2014 Be Any Different? Forget the New Year’s Resolutions.

31 December 2013 Categories: Blog, Motivation

Do something different this year.

About five years ago I discovered some New Year resolutions from about twenty years ago.  First on the list was get organized! I was horrified. It was like I had just discovered some flaw in my life. What in the world did it mean?

Resolutions are like stones in your shoes. You tip toe around them and hope they’ll fall out or stop bothering you.

Look at it this way.

What could you do that will cause a change in your life and give it some serious thought? Sure you can vow to clean up your house but who honestly cares? Does it matter in your life? If it did you would clean it once and for all keep things in place instead of keep messing it up. If someone is visiting maybe you want to clean up. If you drop dead and the place is a mess, someone will say you were a bad housekeeper. When you’re deceased who will care about your house?

Do you want to build your business? Make a list of what you want to happen and determine what tools you will need. Don’t know what you’ll need, hire someone who has the answers to these questions.

Seek out opportunities. They are out there; you must know what you want and where it can be found.

Hire a coach to keep you on track. A friend of mine asked me why I hired a personal fitness coach when I was a PF coach. I told him successful athletes all have coaches. Great golfers have coaches; actors have coaches, and Olympians have coaches. If you really are serious about change, hire a coach. Someone who will kick your butt and not care about your excuses. Their job: help you win.

Take a good look at your fears. What keeps you from sleeping at night? Maybe you spend too much time worrying about your fears instead of focusing on your strengths. Write your fears down and tackle them, now.

Help someone else get ahead. Maybe this sounds stupid but I gave my friend one hundred dollars to get a tutor to help her with her math classes. I told her if she didn’t pass she had to pay me back. The other day she came to be glowing with her grades; she passed them all and several with A’s. She is in her seventies and hadn’t been to school in forty years. I think it took a lot of guts to go back to school. I think it was a good investment. I heard that Traveler’s Aid needed coats for the cold winter nights. I brought up a nice coat, with mittens and gloves! It looked so pretty that the social worker said she wished it would fit her. Just because someone is poor doesn’t mean they have to look bad. So whatever you can for someone—your way. It will bring you comfort and lower your blood pressure. (I think.)

Get committed to something. You don’t have to tell the world what you’re doing—decide what matters and do it. Maybe it’s being nice to someone in the supermarket, enjoying the world outside your own thoughts.

Act as if you matter because you do. When you do down memory lane what will you remember? It will be the people you’ve met and the experiences you’ve had. There’s no time to start but the present. If you need some additional ideas, try these.

Don’t get bogged down.

Happy New Year!

Lisbeth helps people get off their butts and accomplish their goals. Lisbeth’s resolution is to spend more time providing  valuable information that will make her clients successful. She can be reached at www.lisbethcalandrino.com.

 

 

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Who Are The Millenniums? They’re You’re New Customers and Your New Employees!

26 December 2013 Categories: Blog, The Millenniums

Our new employee and consumer.

Dave Foster owner of Talkfloor Radio asked if I would talk about marketing and the new consumer, known as the Millenniums. Dave hosts a daily radio show which focuses on the floor covering industry and related topics. I’ve sent you a link to part one of the interview.

I chose to look at the group as both employees and customers.Soon enough the group called the Millenniums; ages 18-35 will comprise 36% of our workforce.  (This is a link to the Millenniums and the “oldies” working together).Consider that by the year 2020; this group will be  nearly half of our workers. As with every generation, let’s face it, they’re different. However, this group stands out from generations of the past. This group is  the most educated and culturally diverse of any generation. They are  self-motivated and have their  personal agenda. They aren’t as influenced by their elders and have “minds of their own.” This can be frightened to a generation that expects everyone to follow the rules.

Education has become more important than ever.   

According to Jeremy Kingsley, leadership expert and author of ‘Inspired People Produce Results‘, millennial workers are more likely to look for meaning and impact on their work and aren’t satisfied simply punching a clock. Helping them understand their role in a larger plan gives them a clearer sense of purpose. ”It makes them feel valued, which in turn boost’s productivity,” says Kingsley.

Businesses have always felt that a good employee above all else, is dedicated to their employee and the best way to motivate an employee is with money and other perks. However, a recent study by the Pew Research Center in 2010 found that Millenniums place a higher priority on helping people in need (21%) than having a high-paying career (15%). This means businesses must rethink their training programs and their new employees. It sounds like businesses “carrot and stick” approach may be going out the window. Maybe it’s time for businesses to examine their values.

So what is a business to do?

 

According to a 2012 survey by staffing agency Adecco Adecco, 68% of recent graduates identified good opportunities for growth and development as one of their top professional priorities. “Most in this group are hungry and want to advance,” says Kingsley. “If you do not provide development, it’s like a slap in the face.” Assigning stretch projects, bringing in speakers or sending employees to leadership conferences will be especially helpful for those millennial workers interested in learning and growing their skills.

When I was growing up, my dad wasn’t available for any of my school functions. He worked 12-14-hour  construction and came home to eat and sleep. To support his family, this was expected. The Millenniums are telling us they are willing to make sacrifices for their families.

This is a new generation with fresh expectations and concerns about our world. Businesses are always wondering what they can teach their employees. It appears; there is much to be learned from our new generation of workers and consumers. It looks like things that will make the world a better place for all of us.  

Lisbeth Calandrino has been a speaker and trainer for the past twenty years. She helps businesses build loyal relationships with their customers. She can be reached at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

 

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Feelings Can Be Good Or Bad; They Are Both Part Of Your Success

09 December 2013 Categories: beliefs, Blog

Good feelings help us take in success.

Ask most people if they want to be successful, and they would say “of course.” If you ask them their strategy, they have the “deer in the head light look.”

Being successful requires a strategy. If you’re buying a new car or a house, you have a strategy. You make a list of the things that are important and exactly what you’re looking for.

Saying, “you’re not sure what you’re looking for” is not a strategy.

One thing you can do is to pay attention to your gut instinct. You know; “gut instinct” is a feeling. It is the feeling that makes you question what you’re doing. It may suggest that you not do it, or that you proceed ahead. Part of building a successful life is paying attention to your feelings.

You can have all the best plans in the world but if it “doesn’t feel right” you can be sure there is something wrong.  Smart people pay attention to these feelings.

How do gut feelings work? Whenever we have an experience not only is the data stored but so are the feelings about it. We’ve all had butterflies in our stomach when we are trying something new. These feelings are connected to something that has happened during the past.

Have you ever met someone, and a warm feeling came over you? Instinctively, you liked this person? This likely comes from an experience of a person who is “similar.” This also happens when you don’t like the person. There are things that happen in our life that makes us feel good or bad.  We call this “intuition.” This is why people who look for success find it. They continually conjure up positive feelings and go with them. This doesn’t mean they ignore danger, it means they look for positive rather than negative cues.

Paying attention to your gut feelings can help you stay on the road to success or derail you; feelings are not to be ignored.

Why would you fear success?

My experience tells me that most people don’t fear success; instead they feel failure. In order to be successful you must take risks and not all risks end with positive results. In order to get to success you may run across failure. Success is linked to failure in fact people who are successful have either overcome their fear of failure or believe their tough enough to get through it. Failure is often related to criticism and rejection.

Have you ever had a time when you were incapacitated with fear? The key is to forge through it and consider your mistakes as part of the learning process. Once you make a mistake, you have a better idea of what to do next.

You have probably heard the Law of Feedback—there is no failure only feedback. If you consider failure and mistakes as permanent, you will never be successful.

If you think back through history, the early settlers were probably wrecked with a mistake, but they never gave up. They ate foods that were poisonous, drank bad water and met up with dangerous animals. They didn’t feel they could give up. They knew they had to continue. Maybe we should consider ourselves as pioneers in our personal life. We are forging our path and are on our journey. No two lives or journeys are ever the same so how would we really know what works?

One thing you can do is take action, any kind of action. Do something that might frighten you and act on it. Every action you take will help you over your fear.

If it doesn’t work, try something else.

 

Lisbeth Calandrino helps businesses build loyal and profitable customers. She have her speak or provide training for your group she can be reached at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com

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Do You Really Want To Measure Customer Service?

17 November 2013 Categories: Blog

Many companies send out surveys to determine how their customers feel. The question is, do they care about what customers honestly think or do they want to make themselves feel good? Asking questions like, “Did we do a decent job, were we pleasant, do you think are products are acceptable, ”  are pointless questions. These are questions any business should know the answers to.

Think about it; if you can’t  get a  good rating on these questions, how can you stay in business?

Why not ask more direct questions  like the following: “Were our salespeople on the phone when you came in, did they hang up when they saw you or did they ignore you?”  These are questions you might not want the  answers to but you should.

If you want to improve your customer service you need to ask the hard questions.

Improve sales by providing a different type of customer service.

WHAT CAN YOU DO FOR YOUR CUSTOMERS  THAT’S A LITTLE DIFFERENT?

One of the interesting things you can do is build community with your customers. The Internet has helped us know more people but may take us away from our friends. Because of time constraints, it’s s not easy to make time for our friends.  Instead of meeting them face-to-face, we spend time on Facebook and other Social Media. It’s no secret that this doesn’t take the place of a sit-down latte.

How can you build community? One way is to  open your doors to your customers. It doesn’t matter what type of business you have, extending an invitation to your customer makes you and your business seem  more transparent and friendly.

Considering asking your customers to spend time with you raising money for your favorite charity or collect toys for the holiday. If you want, you can collaborate with   other businesses or hold an event at a local museum. These are things that we all love but don’t expect from the people we do business with.

If you want to do more business, why not get to know your customers better? Building loyalty takes time and comes from developing trust with your customers. How can you build any kind of relationship if the only transaction you have with them  is selling product? Of course if your product is substandard and your employees are questionable, who would want to spend any more time with you?

The key is to get the basic customer service out of the way and then move to what I call “Red Hot Customer Service,” or connecting in the way that makes the customer excited and thrilled. When I was in the carpet and furniture business once a week I would roller skate around my store. In fact I invited my customers to join me. There were people who thought I was crazy but not the roller skating crowd. They couldn’t believe I had 25,000 square feet of concrete to skate on.

Did I mention the music?

The first question: who is your community and what would they like you to do? Once you get the answer the answer to the this question, the rest is easy. Check out this article at Forbes about building  customer service.

Lisbeth Calandrino provides innovative and practical advice to businesses wanting to build loyal customers. To have her speak to your group, she can be reached at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

 

 

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How Do You Know When To Say No?

11 November 2013 Categories: Blog, Change

Over extended?

 

Are you uncomfortable saying no when requests come your way? Are you afraid if you disagree that you will be starting a conflict, or that you will antagonize some folks?

All of us at one time or another is uncomfortable disagreeing with the masses.We’re afraid our opinion might be very unpopular and lead us into uncharted waters. Piling your already filled plate can have devastating effects on your health. Although saying “no” might not be the easiest, in the long run it’s the best for you. Just because others can juggle 10 or 12 things on their plate doesn’t make you less effective because you can’t.

Sometimes it’s tough to determine what you should do and what you should give up. If you find you are continually saying yes to too many things, it’s time for you to use the “no” word.

Each of us has commitments. obligations, and priorities that determine our daily life. Often time these priorities are important to you and no one else. I rarely tell people how much time I spend at the gym; to most people they think it’s a waste of time or wonder why I do it. Some people watch football, play golf or shop. If I have my way, I’ll take the gym over television. As they say, “that’s the way I roll.” I was in Dick’s the other day and I heard a voice behind me say, “I’ll get that for your shorty.” It turned out to be one of the body builders from my gym. We both admitted we wished we had an unlimited budget so we could wear just cool workout clothes and hang around the gym!

When do you need to say no? How about when you are trading your priorities for someone else’s—period? If  their priority is more important than yours;  by all means do it.

How should you say no?  How about just “no.” The word “no” has real power. Don’t be afraid to use it, in fact practice using it! Stop with the wimpy, “I’m not sure” or “I don’t think I can.” This leaves it open or a possible yes later.

If you’re used to saying “yes” all the time then saying “no” may be very difficult.  But adding a few “no’s” will keep your  stress level down and simplify your life.

Lisbeth Calandrino has been coaching business owners for over 20 years. If you need help simplifying your life, Lisbeth can be reached at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

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Does Your Customer Service Need Cleaning Up?

01 November 2013 Categories: Blog, Customer Service

Customer service is all that matters.

Lots of things can clutter up your business. One of them is old customer service ideas. The most important thing a business can do for their customers is to stay in front of them.

What are you doing to keep in touch with your past customers. 85% of your business will come from referrals so it’s time to check in with them.

There’s nothing worse than a customer who makes a referral to your competitor because she forgets about you. Yes, it happens more than you think.

 

Lisbeth Calandrino helps businesses build loyal relationships with their customers through customer service and sales training. Call for a free consultation! 518-495-5380.

 

Years ago, my friend was one of the only people without a cell phone. Several of his friends were in the cell phone business, and he promised when the time came, he would consider their services.

So his car broke down one dark night, and he walked to the nearest pay phone! Yes, this was 20 years ago. When the technician showed up from AAA, he asked the technician about his cell phone. The technician raved about the phone and the carrier. Sure enough, the next morning my friend bought the same cell phone. He never even thought about his friends in the cell phone business.

Start with your email lists, those that have been sitting around for years. The ones you haven’t checked, and you don’t know if the people are living or deceased. By the way, sending notes to deceased customers isn’t a good idea; particularity if their spouses are checking their emails. Start cleaning out all the bounced email addresses and the people who have changed jobs just disappeared.

What about your news contacts? Do they still exist or changed jobs? When was the last time you sent them, a news released? Are you still trying to figure out your password for Facebook? When will the fingerprint recognition kick in? It can’t be soon enough.

How is your social media doing? Are some channels working and others not? You know the ones you signed up for and never used?

 

Time to clean out your customer service.

What about all those news feeds you signed up for and never read? They’re just cluttering up your mailbox waiting to get deleted. Get rid of them or read them. I have lots of feeds that seemed like good ideas, and now I don’t know why I wanted them.

What about your customer testimonials? How up-to-date are they? When was the last time you checked your online reputation, is there anything out there that needs tending?Here is an article on managing your on line reputation.

Do you ever look at your own web site? Is everything in order? What about your blog? Do you ever check your stats to see how many visitors you are receiving?

I know Spring is months away, but why not take a look at these things and make some changes now? There will probably be lots of nasty days where you can be making great changes and be ready for Spring.

Happy cleaning!

Lisbeth Calandrino helps businesses built loyal customers through sales and customer service training. She can be reached at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

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Let Your Creative Juice’s Flow!

27 October 2013 Categories: beliefs, Blog

New doors lead to new thinking.

Looking for something new?

Life is about being creative.I don’t know about you, but some days I’m on automatic pilot. Ask me what I’ve done and I’ll tell you “the same old, same old.” The only way to have something different happen is to choose to do something different. It’s not so easy. I have had a writer’s block so to speak. For some reason I wasn’t making time to do one of the things I really like and that’s write. Luckily enough, my friend Jeanne Heiberg was holding another writer’s workshop. Jeanne is a well known author and painter and always brings new ways of thinking to her workshops.

Her workshops are very much like guided meditation except with a “hook.” She gives you a topic, suggests that you “go there” and then you write about it.It can be rather unnerving but being with a group of writers it is also very stimulating.The end results are very personal and thought provoking for everyone. Having shared your deepest thoughts with strangers they suddenly  become new friends. The strangeness is replaced with a wonderful new bond.

Once everyone writes their piece, we are asked to add our “two cents.” There is rarely anything critical, just everyone’s thoughts about your plot and how it made them feel.Of course this is all very subjective but it’s fun seeing everyone’s reaction.

A writer’s workshop isn’t just about writing; it’s about thinking in a very different way. Whether it be personal change or change for your business, you have to approach tasks differently if you want new results. It’s like a free flow of information and thought. How you approach the task is up to you, there is no right and now wrong there’s just a new ending. The key is to get those creative juices flowing. Yes, we all have them, they just need a push!

Consider if you’re wanting to make changes in your business. Maybe your sales and customer service just don’t seem up to par. A brain storming session might be just what you need. The key is to stop trying to make changes with old information. The first thing a business owner does is reach into the archives of his mind for old solutions. Unfortunately today’s problems are more complicated and require more sophisticated solutions.

Was Marilyn known for her beauty and wit?

I held a workshop not long ago with business owners and asked them to draw pictures of the person they would like to be. Of course many people showed up from the “dead file,” i.e. Marilyn Monroe and John F. Kennedy. Next I asked them to describe the traits that these people admired. The last part of the exercise was to “try on those traits” and decide how to use them to grow their  business. I know, it sounds simple doesn’t it? It is a simple task with powerful results. (There was high tension in the room, everyone thought they were getting graded on their photos!)

You see learning is best accomplished when the participants feel like whatever happen it’s “their idea.” Since we’re no longer children, we are skeptical of people who tell us what to do even if it’s good for us. The best example of this is the man who gets divorced and over time remarries the same woman. His friends all ask him why and tell him it never worked the first time. He agrees and  confesses he really doesn’t like her that much but at least he knows what to expect!

Wasn’t Thomas Edison the one who said the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over again and expecting different results? It’s up to you to determine your end results.

Lisbeth Calandrino is a coach who helps people discover their true direction in life.  To reach Lisbeth  to have her speak to your group or for a personal consultation, she can be reached at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

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Learning How To Sell Really Won’t Help You

21 October 2013 Categories: Blog, Sales

You need to update your tool kit.

Selling used to be a game and the rules and suggestions were always the same, “Close  them” was the cry.

The problem is we don’t sell customers  anymore, they sell themselves.

They get much of their information on line; hopefully your company has a web site and social media to engage them.

You need content, content, content as my friend Shelia Carmody, Content Specialist from Guaranteed Press. According to Shelia, “The most challenging part of Internet Marketing is creating good, relevant, engaging content for your web page and all of your web communications.” Why not consider writing your own blog or have someone do it for you? You can buy content and post it yourself or have someone take charge of your blog. The key is to get others to read your content.

If you come from “the old school of sales” this is all new and most likely foreign to you. Since when do sales people have to write, don’t they just sell?

Since when do salespeople have to worry about internet marketing, don’t they just sell?

Well the new selling is all about this stuff; the more value you can add for your customers the more likely you are to get the customer to buy. (Notice I didn’t say “sell them.”)

As salespeople you were all taught about networking. Well networking hasn’t changed it’s just gotten easier and a little more complicated. You used to say I met Sally at the Chamber, now you say I met Sally at the Chamber, I joined one of her “meetups”, invited her to join me  on LinkedIn, friended her on Facebook, following her on Twitter and signed up for her blog! No that doesn’t make it more complicated, it makes it easier and really puts you in control. Look at all the options you have! The only way you could continue to connect was through the telephone.

This is selling in a different format. It puts some of the responsibility for getting sales on the salesperson.

What are you thinking about?

That’s a good thing right?

You don’t have to wait for the owner to run an ad, essentially you’re running your own ads by being out in the public.

As my mother would say, “It’s time to make a name for yourself little girl !”

Lisbeth helps business and individuals built loyal customers through customer service and social media marketing. To have her speak at one of your meetings, send her a text 518-495-5380. How’s that for a connection?

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