Customer Retention Strategies

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Friendsgiving: An Opportunity to Build Connections–Brought to you by the Millenniums

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Friendsgiving has been lurking around since 2007; it’s now becoming well-known name and likely a new holiday. It reclaims a holiday for people who, during the Thanksgiving season, can’t get to family; don’t want to be with family and those that don’t have family. In my neighborhood, we’ve called them, for lack of a better word, Thanksgiving orphans. It doesn’t take away from the traditional holiday; it adds a new dimension to it. It underscores the value of friends.

I must admit I was getting tired of going to my relatives. They served the same-old foods, nothing for the vegetarian except vegetables with no imagination or too much cheese.  My other aunt used to make a complete vegetarian dinner along with the turkey, for the vegetarians next door.  I didn’t realize you could eat anything but turkey on Thanksgiving Day. There were the relatives who drank far too much and told the same-old stories over and over. There were also the ones I just didn’t like.

We are happy to have a new description of something very cool and started by the Millenniums. In 2007, the term ‘Friendsgiving’ made the Urban dictionary. This is a great way to connect with this customer. In my book, “50 Ways to Bring Customers into Your Store,” I talk about holding events and raising money for charities.

WHY NOT HOLD A FRIENDSGIVING PARTY IN YOUR STORE AND RAISE SOME MONEY FOR YOUR CUSTOMER’S FAVORITE CHARITY!

The other day I asked my neighbors where they were going; they said a Friendsgiving party and would be back for Thanksgiving. I gave them a big smile; I was in the know!

In order to connect with your customers, you’ve got to know where they are and what they’re doing. If you’re not part of something, how will you know? Friendsgiving is not a way to forget Thanksgiving; it’s a way to add something new. Friendsgiving legitimizes something we’ve known all along—friends matter. It’s also a new way to celebrate and create a tradition.

Friends are important, no matter what your age. They make you feel better, can improve yourself-esteem and have an overall positive effect on your life. I have one friend whom I speak with almost every night; sometimes we just discuss what movies are playing.  As you age, you can expect to lose friends. My dad told me to start hanging around with younger people, this way I wouldn’t be losing friends every year!

The Millenniums are breaking the rules, how they shop, what they buy and what matters to them. They are very connected to their friends and are willing to put effort into building these relationships. According to statistics, this group is also the most connected to real ‘giving.’

I’ve been holding Friendsgiving for years; I’m glad it has a name! Enjoy  your holiday whatever its name!

Lisbeth has been helping businesses build customer relationships for over 20 years. To consult with her, call 518.495.5380 or email Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

 

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Lost Your Brand? The Customer Owns it!

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This is how Coke built a relationship with the consumer.

Customers own the brands by supporting or hating them. Either way they’ve taken the place of  the branding power your brand held.

Up until the late 199o’s, we were in the  the industrial age, and brands had a prominent place in society. Since then the customer has taken over the power of branding.

In the industrial age, there were certain unwritten laws that everyone obeyed. For instance:

  • You couldn’t start a business without capital.
  • You needed a certain level of personal qualification and social status to be successful.
  • Gatekeepers monitored broadcast channels like radio and TV.
  • Success was a result of offering better products than your competitors at a better price.

Things have changed considerable: 

CUSTOMERS DON’T WANT RELATIONSHIPS WITH BRANDS, THEY WANT RELATIONSHIPS WITH EACH OTHER. IN ORDER FOR  YOUR BUSINESS TO WORK, YOU WILL HAVE TO FIND A WAY TO GET IN THEIR CLUB!

Brands have to be careful; being intrusive, buying likes, paying for placement will not work. In fact, it will turn the customers off and send them fleeing to the competitor.

In order to get placement in the world, brands will have to find a new way to be part of club. They have to become a part of the world instead of leading the world. The world is being led by consumer conversations; conversations about you and I. What they say about us is what the new customer reports.

Your brand must find a way to communicate with the customer.

Nike brought jogging into our culture. With that began the expansion of their brand.

Nike’s greatest achievement wasn’t the Nike Swoosh. Nike’s greatest achievement was creating America’s jogging culture. Nike has moved from sneakers to fitness. Everything fitness is Nike!

Success in branding hinges on understanding business needs, empathizing with consumers’ needs and providing a creative solution that addresses both. 

We must all try to become part of the customer relationship. In order to do this we must build a customer relationship. The extension of customer service has become the customer relationship. We are no long in charge of anything; the best we can hope for is the ability to engage the customer in things they will love–parties, information, ways to enjoy life, planning trips for them–yes this is you.

Taken from Timothy Ingram, the Medium, “How Branding Has Changed.” This is probably the best article I have ever read on the new branding. If you plan on staying around, I suggest you familiarize yourself with this concept. He’s right and it’s brilliantly put.

Lisbeth had been a thought leader for over twenty years. She is a risk taker, cat lover and forever young. Call Lisbeth if you need a jolt of optimism and fun. 

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By |2017-09-27T15:52:10+00:00September 17th, 2017|Customer Retention Strategies|0 Comments

Will You Have Enough Guts to be Your Own Hero?

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Sam Elliot in “The Hero”

I recently saw the movie entitled “The Hero,” with Sam Elliott. Sam Elliot is an aging actor, Lee Hayden, who is forced to look at life squarely in the face.  He recently found out that he has a very serious cancer. We become immersed in his pot world as he wrestles with whom he should call and what he should say. Of course, he is estranged from his family and feels particularly bad about his relationship with his daughter. He decides to call her and convinces her to see him. Of course, he doesn’t show up—too many pills and pot.  Okay that’s all I’m going to tell you, but I think it’s worth seeing. “The Hero” refers to his old movie roles where he usually plays the hero. To see the trailer, http://bit.ly/2rNWf7a.

His situation is something we are all likely to encounter; getting old, not being seen as that vibrant person in our 30’s and more time behind than in front of us. It was easy to put myself in his place.  He continues to look for his last opportunity to be “The Hero.”

Lee is creepy and selfish. All he can think about is what’s happening to him and how bad he feels. The longer he wallows in his misery the more we begin to dislike him. It’s when he realizes he has to move forward that his world begins to change. He decides that he will take a chance and engage with the new people in his life.

What will you do when life confronts you, when you find ‘you’re not who you used to be?’ The new person has yet to be defined. Will you continue to look backwards to revive your ‘old’ self?  Will you spend your remaining time trying to be the old self or will you be able to move forward?

In order to move forward we must take risks into a new life, one that we’re not familiar with.  We can move into a life that may feel dangerous, like being on a swing for the first time. We know we’re safe in the swing, but as we swing out we wonder what would happen if we let go. If you’re like me, you let go of the ropes and took a chance. Do you remember how wonderful it felt to fly through the air? Will you be able to do this as you get older? Will you look forward to new experiences and upcoming changes?

In order to make this happen you will have to begin to seek fresh things, new people and ideas. Look for different types of people, seek something creative that you’ve never thought about. If you want to go bungee jumping this might be the time.

 

It’s likely our older life will be filled with challenges, now’s the time to set up some parameters so you can experience your new life with excitement.

Do you need someone to bring excitement to your business? Lisbeth has been motivating audiences for over 20 years. To connect with Lisbeth,  reach out to her, Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com. 

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By |2017-09-27T18:47:34+00:00July 30th, 2017|Customer Retention Strategies|0 Comments

Who is This New Consumer?

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Event: The New Consumer, with LIsbeth Calandrino, Associate Publisher of Fabulous Floors Magazine

The new consumer is out there. Knowing where they are and how to connect is often a confusing path. Ever since psychologist Stanley Milgram conducted his famous research on the subject in 1967, the popular ‘Six Degrees of Separation’ theory has claimed that you can connect any two people in the world in six steps or fewer. Thanks to social media, researchers believe that number is lower. 

How many businesses actually take advantage of the tools that can make this possible? My experience is that not many have a good sense about how it works.

LinkedIn has made cold calling a thing of the past. It’s that ‘Six degrees of separation’ again. Social media allows us to connect with almost anyone in any part of the world. You just have to know how it works and then do it. 

Facebook allows you to produce videos through their Facebook Live and we have so many other possibilities.

To make this work you must understand the new consumer and their path to purchase. I will be speaking about this  “New Consumer” and their buying path on  March 15, 2015, at Surfaces, 327 Park Street, New Britain CT, 06051, from 6-8 PM. Register now at https://www.marble-institute.com/NewEnglandMarch15.

 Hope to see you there.

Warmly, Lisbeth (If you want to know more about the workshop, give me a call, 518-495-5380.

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By |2017-09-27T19:17:36+00:00March 11th, 2017|Customer Retention Strategies|0 Comments

Why do Businesses say Stupid Things to Their Customers?

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no cookingOn my way to the gym I pass this restaurant; today the sign outside says “No Cook.” I’m assuming that means they’re not open. Why would you put that sign up? This is just a ridiculous thing to post for your customers. What’s the point? What kind of customer service can a restaurant deliver without a cook?

It brings up all kinds of thoughts for me.

  1. They don’t pay their help very much or why would the cook leave?
  2. There will be no food until they get a new cook; will the new cook be good? Should I even try it?
  3. When the new cook comes, will there be a sign that says, “New Cook?”
  4. They don’t sound very resourceful, why not just start cooking? There must be someone who works or owns the place that knows how.
  5. Why do we care about your cook? It’s your problem now it’s mine.

Why would you share any of your misfortune with your customers? Consumers don’t care about your problems only that you make them feel good.

Actually, I would have liked it better if the sign says, ‘cook quit or cook fired.’ At least, I can get a laugh about it. It reminds me of the nursery that had the sign, ‘closed during the winter,’ of course; we know that. Why not the sign that says, ‘can’t wait for spring?’

There was another sign on a restaurant door that said, ‘closed because of lack of customers.’ I guess that’s my fault; nasty implications with that sign.

Why not be positive with your customers? Why not close because you’re giving your business a face lift, or you’re having a face lift? My friend had a sign on her restaurant that said ‘owner taking a cruise; she needs it. Thanks for being my customers see you on July 1.’ Those of us, who know Carmella knows she works really hard and deserves a vacation.  We were all excited to welcome her back and ask about the cruise. She even came with gifts for her ‘regulars.’

Customers always want to know, ‘what’s in it for me?’  There’s nothing in it for me when the cook leaves. We all listen to the radio station, ‘what’s in it for me.’ WIIFM. If you do something that inconveniences the customer you can be sure they won’t be happy.

If you can’t make the customer happy, at least make them laugh, or  hold their hands to improve the customer experience.

 

Lisbeth Calandrino has been helping businesses build sales and customer service strategies for over twenty years. To have Lisbeth consult with you, reach her at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

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Does Anyone Care You’re Saying? 4 Ways to be a Better Listener

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ListeningI don’t know about you, but I like to talk. I don’t know if it’s being a speaker, I doubt that, but I can talk about everything and nothing for hours. I think I’m funny, but I’m not sure if that’s the way to build rapport. What feels worse than trying to talk with someone while they’re texting or playing an online game?

As a child, I stopped being friendly at about 4. At which point my mother told me what I would have to do if I was going to make friends. My dad was very funny, and everyone liked him; I guess that’s how I thought it could be. I didn’t realize it then, but there was more to it. My dad was very empathetic too.

Just because we listen doesn’t really mean we heard anything. These day’s people act like they’re listening, but we know everyone is multitasking. It’s doubtful they heard what you said.

How can you listen?

distraction

  1. Don’t distract yourself. Put your phone and the rest of the devices away. This is not the time to check your email or Facebook message. Listening and connecting is an art. Being a good listener is a way for you to really connect with customers and your friends.
  2. Don’t top the speaker’s story. Isn’t it awful when you’re telling someone what happened and without taking a breath, they “up you one better?” If you went to the doctor, they’ve been to two. If you’re going on vacation to New Orleans, they’ll tell you they once lived there and what’s wrong with the place. This is what we call the “me too” habit. Whatever you’ve done; I’ve done it as well and probably better.
  3. Try not to interrupt. I say “try” because when I’m on the telephone I can’t seem to judge when to pause. I’m not sure if I can’t hear, or it’s the connection.
  4. Stop trying to find problems to fix. Are you listening only enough to find a problem to fix?

Don’t be afraid to give your listening skills an overhaul. Like anything else, it takes practice and more practice.

Without customer service, a customer doesn’t have any customers,  good sales don’t necessarily bring back customers, but good customer service does.”

Lisbeth has been teaching businesses how to improve their customer service and the customer experience for over 20 years. To schedule a consultation or have her speak at your business, reach her at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com. If she’s not in her office, she can often be found mornings at the YMCA in East Greenbush.

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“Do You Have Leaving on Your Mind?” 5 Things you can do to Stop Customers from Cheating on you

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Customers don't tell you when they're getting ready to leave--they just leave.

Customers don’t tell you when they’re getting ready to leave–they just leave.

I was listening to Patsy Cline sing, “Do you Have Leaving on Your Mind?” She’s asking her lover to tell her if he wants out. Customers rarely tell you their leaving—they just go.

The years 2008 and 2009 were tough years on many businesses. When the dust cleared you found you had lost many of your “regulars.” Sure some of this was due to the economy, but how much of it was due to “negligence” on your part?
The statistics in 2014 are no different than they were 20 years ago.

68% of customers leave because of the treatment they receive and 71% specifically said because they received poor customer service. Here are some ideas for keeping those “cheatin” customers.

1. Make it easy for them to talk with you. Is your voice mail filled to the brim? Do you resist picking up the phone when you’re really not that busy? The nicest thing you can do for a customer is to answer their phone call or at least sending a quick text that you will can back in a few. I love the phone app that sends a text  to callers telling them you’re driving, and you will call back once you reach your destination.

2. Have you noticed them in the “box” stores? After my gym workout, I stop at one of the “box” stores to be nosy. I walk the departments to look for signs of “cheating customers.” You know the type; they’re laughing and getting friendly with the store clerks. They are hanging around making small talk. Good businesses know that small talk can lead to big sales. Maybe the customer just needs a friendly hello?

3. How good are your salespeople at “small talk?” Some clerks are “all business” and forget that before business there’s small talk or building rapport. People still buy from people they like and feel comfortable with.

4. Can you get your customers to follow you—everywhere? If you want to get follow, it should be “around the Internet.” Are customers connected to you in the usual places— Facebook, Google +, Pinterest, Houzz and to your blog? Do they like what you post?

Customers leave because of "perceived indifference"

Customers leave because of “perceived indifference”

5. Be “nicer than nice.” Do your employees have the latitude to go out of their way for your customers or does everything have to be cleared through the manager? As a customer, we all want to speak with someone in authority.

Why not give your salespeople “perks” to share with complaining I was watching an undercover complainer at Zappos. She said she didn’t want the shoes, and the clerk said she should return them, and she would give her a free pair! This might be tough on your business, but a coupon on the next purchase shouldn’t be. Zappos motto,  “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing with a WOW!”

RedHotCustomerService“Without customer service, a customer doesn’t have any customers,  good sales don’t necessarily bring back customers, but good customer service does.”
Lisbeth has been teaching businesses how to improve their customer service and the customer experience for over 20 years. To schedule a consultation or speak at your business, reach her at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com. If she’s not in her office, she can often be found mornings at the YMCA in East Greenbush.

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Three ways to Build Your Relationships, One Customer at a Time

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Wellness Center

Wellness Center

The world has changed more than we know. I went to my favorite supermarket and saw this sign in front. More businesses are wearing “new hats” so they can compete. Hannaford also has a wellness center that is part of CHPHP and the YMCA in East Greenbush. I still think that’s a slam dunk. I met someone involved in this association, and she said this brings exercise and wellness to people who might not be able to afford the gym. It’s free, and the programs can compete with any of the gyms in town.  They’re trying to build relationships with their customers.

It’s time to think creatively. Many of you are holding events in your stores to bring in customers. Your business should be considered your home and having an event says, “Welcome. “I hear people saying but we didn’t do any business, and we didn’t have many people show up. This is not about doing business, but it’s about building relationships. If you didn’t get many people that you don’t know how to throw a party. If you want people to come you’ve got to tell them why they should come, tell them again, and then go pick them up! I know you’re saying it’s too much work, but building relationships is work. It means showing an interest in someone else and putting your own agenda on the “back burner” as they say.

I remember when we had an event in our store for contractors. Our biggest contractor said he didn’t want to drive the 40 miles to come to the party—I didn’t blame him. I said a car just left and would be there to pick him up at six! He said he was so embarrassed, but he showed up.

Sometimes it just means paying attention. Today in Pilate’s class a woman came up to me to talk about the class. She was very out of shape and said she wanted to talk with me about a weight-loss program I had mentioned. I knew the class would be hard for her, but I suggested her not worry and do what she could. I told the instructor about her who was kind enough to give her a little extra attention without embarrassing her. She felt special and signed up for the weight-loss program after class. I was so glad I took the time to talk with her; I knew she was serious.

  • Show that you care about others. Instead of waiting for people to talk with you, reach out. What do you have to lose?
  • Be genuinely helpful to others. That doesn’t mean doing it for them, it means noticing when someone needs you.
  • Just listen to someone. Sometimes just listening, without providing a solution can be very comforting.

 

Summer is around the corner; what’s next?

 

Lisbeth had been helping businesses build relationships with their customers for the last 20 years. Need some new ideas?

Lisbeth can be contacted at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

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“The Real Sale Begins When the Customer Gives you Testimonial”

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The customer only cares about three things: me, myself, and I.

The customer only cares about three things: me, myself, and I.

I was talking with John Gregory, owner of Capital Vacuums, in Albany, New York. John has been in the  vacuum cleaner business for most of his life; he started by selling vacuums door-to-door. He insists the key to business is by giving customers a positive experience through “added value.” I asked John if he would share his ideas with us.

 

“When I was knocking on doors, cold calling I came up with procedures to follow. Once you learn them you develop good habits that make your job more exciting and profitable. One of the habits I want everyone to learn is to call our customers after the sale.”

 

Happy customersJohn’s theory of business is simple, add value and make the customer happy.

 

“If the customer isn’t happy with the product/service/experience we need to know it.   If they’re  happy with the product/service/experience we need them to tell the world by giving us an online review.”

 

Retail is a game that both the customer and the store have to win. If the customer is happy, everyone is happy. In the end the business will get more referrals and sales.

 

An online reviews seals the deal!

An online reviews seals the deal!

It used to be we thought when the customer paid us, they were satisfied. Now, we don’t consider the transaction over until we get a review online or a “like” on Facebook. Since I know that 90% of my business is from referrals, the real payoff is the customer’s review. It’s a satisfying   feeling to know that my team can provide an experience worthy of a good review.

 

Years ago we had to ask the customer for referrals. We would ask them for a list of names or ask them to go out of their way to tell their friends and family about their experience with us. No matter how good the experience was the chances of that customer sharing it with friends/family were pretty slim. Most likely, the customer would soon forget about it. Now they can do it with a “click of the mouse,” or by hitting “send” on their phone. It’s amazing!

 

Think about how powerful that is. If we’ve met and surpassed the customers’ expectations, they can put it on the Internet for everyone to see. It’s just as easy for someone to spread the bad word about our business if they aren’t  happy. If they tell us first, we can fix it before they tell anyone else. Businesses need to be proactive.

 

Remember, business is built on value not on price. If you build it on price, you may not be in business very long. You must be able to define value if you’re going to deliver it. Here’s John’s take on value:

 

  • Building value can be as simple as explaining all the features & benefits of your product or service to the customer.

 

 

  • Building value can be as simple as engaging in real conversation with the customer, finding out their needs and conveying/painting a picture/ getting a customer to visualize using your product or service.

 

  • Building value is making sure the customer sees how the product or service will make their life easier or better. The idea is to make the value exceed the price. Make your product or service worth more than what you’re asking!

 

  • Building value can be throwing in something extra with their purchase. It can be as simple as a pen, mug or vacuum bag. It’s a present and we all like presents.

 

  • Building value can be an extended warranty, maybe a service plan.

 

Whatever value you give the customer it should be given to the customer as a present. Who doesn’t want a present? For your present, visit John and his staff at Capital Vacuum, 1593 Central Avenue, Albany, New York. http://www.capitalvacuums.com/

Lisbeth has been coaching for over 20 years. To consult with her or have her speak with your sales team, reach her at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

 

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6 Ways to Insult An Old Customer

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Old people driving.

Old people driving.

We find old people annoying because they walk slow, talk slow and spend time counting out the exact change for you.  Old people know they’re old and don’t need or want to be reminded. I notice that clerks look annoyed when the older person takes more time to get out their credit card or are looking for their glasses.

Age is just a number; it only becomes more when you choose to make it so or someone reminds you of it.

The other day I was in the gas station and heard the clerk tell the owner that the elderly lady from down the street said she thinks you undercharged her for the oil change. He’s my age; does she call him old too?

Why are we reluctant to deal with the process of aging? You can either get old or drop dead, which to you prefer? If it scares you learn more about it.

The Tibetans have a saying, “to get over your fears, bring closer to you that which frightens you the most.”

Here are my top 10 things that really make me hate you. Feel free to add a few of your own.

  1. Call me “dearie “when the hot chick next to me gets lots of smiles and jokes.
  2. Ask me if you can help me carry the quart of milk to my car. Do I look that frail?
  3. Do you need to sit down? I just walked in and now I need a chair. You don’t mind if the girly girl walks around because she has nice legs.
  4. “Take your time with it.” Can I first open my purse?
  5. If I say, “Prices seem high,” it’s not necessary for you to say, “Compared to what they were in your day I’m sure they are.”
  6. “You look tired.” Don’t ever say this to anyone unless you want a swat.
  7. “Shall I give these to your son to carry?” Could that “son” be my boyfriend? You probably don’t know about the famous artist, Georgia O’Keeffe and her companion who was 48 years her junior.
  8. Tell the customer after looking at her license, “I just saw your birth date; I can’t believe you’re that old! Or, you really look good for your age.
  9. Ask me for my license to prove I’m 21 when I want a drink.
  10. Give me the “Yes and No Mam” treatment.
  11. Just because I need to get my glasses doesn’t mean you need to read it to me. Everyone I know wears glasses.

If you would like more ideas for insulting old companies, take a look at Stan Goldberg’s blog,http://stangoldbergwriter.com/about/top-10-insults-for-old-people/.

Give us a break, one day you might be old.

Lisbeth has been helping businesses be more profitable for over 20 years. To have a consultation with her or have her speak to your employees, reach her at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com. To read her Success Blog on the Albany Times Union, go to,http://blog.timesunion.com/success/author/lisbethcalandrino/.

She lives in Albany, New York, in Historic Hudson Park with her cat, Rainyday. When not in her office she can be found at the gym.

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