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19 07, 2014

“When is it ok to Yell at my Customers?” Enough is Enough!

By |2017-03-03T12:06:55-05:00July 19th, 2014|Categories: Customer Experience, Customer Retention Strategies|Tags: , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

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We all have our limits; know yours!

A dear friend of mine told me she was recently fired because, in her words, “I went off on a customer.” At the time, she worked in a very stressful environment, and her mother lay dying in hospice. Apparently, she had enough.

We’ve all had those days when we literally “can’t stand it anymore.” We know that customers aren’t always correct, that’s just for fairy tales. However, as the saying goes, “If you want them to be your customers, you will make them right.” There are just some customers who know how to “push your buttons.” They key is not to get “hooked.”

There are some simple things you can do to get you through these rough times. Remember, you’re not the only one who’s been “hooked.”

1.Try not to let everyone know how much the person annoys you. If you do, you will continue to re-live the awful feeling you have about that person. If you continue to complain, your company will see you as a pain in the butt.  

2.For a minute, take yourself out of the equation and ask yourself some questions. “What has happened to me, why am I feeling so annoyed?” It’s doubtful they are angry with you; it’s likely something in the situation that is making them uncomfortable.

3.Look for the “customer’s scare.” We often use anger as a way of covering up  an imaginary problem that hasn’t yet occurred. Let’s say you’re afraid your mate is going to leave you so you get angry about them going to the movie without you. I was reading an interesting blog about a woman whose boyfriend wanted to have coffee with a female friend. The woman took the situation to mean he would be leaving her and marrying the other woman! Quite a jump you might say. He even called her when he left the coffee shop and told her he was on his way home. She still couldn’t believe it was simply “coffee.”

4.If you find yourself getting angry begin to confront your own scare. What do you think the customer is saying to you, why does it make you so frightened and what do you think you have to lose? Possibly, you can’t get the merchandise to the customer on time; are you afraid you’ll be fired?

5.  Take a deep breathe. Do you think the customer is out to get you? If so, what are they trying to gain? If they have nothing to gain, why are you reacting? My mother used to say, “Try and think before your speak.”

6.Is the person trying to get you to react? Have you ever had a customer bring up a tiny problem, like the delivery man was late and then ask for a discount? That’s a tactic to “throw you off the track” so they can get something they really don’t deserve. Okay, we’re not all perfect. The key is to separate yourself from the problem and think beneath your instinctive response. There lies the answer to your response.

You can’t keep customers if you do things to drive them away. (That applies to people in your life also.) If you want more information on how to diffuse your own anger, check out this link,http://bit.ly/1kFTG8T.

Lisbeth Calandrino has been helping businesses to build loyal customers for the last twenty years. To have her speak to your company or schedule a consultation, reach her at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com or check out her web site, www.lisbethcalandrino.com.

 

 

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30 05, 2014

Strategies are Nice but Results are Better

By |2017-03-03T12:06:55-05:00May 30th, 2014|Categories: Blog, Customer Retention Strategies|Tags: , , |1 Comment

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According to Nunes and Dreze, the head start loyalty card helped customers mentally reframe the completion process; the fact that they didn’t have to start something from scratch played a huge role in their motivation to complete the card.

Everyone says customer retention is a critical part of their business, but few actually follow through. Customers who continue to come back and refer friends are better than any advertisement you could run in your local newspaper.  Unfortunately, most businesses are focused on new acquisition and usually ignore customer retention.

Here is an interesting statistic on customer retention:

According to Bain and Co., a 10 percent increase in customer retention results in a 30% increase in the value of the company.  Wow, only 10%?

How will you get your customer retention moving forward? Here are a few strategies to make it happen.

Stay connected to sold customers. This can be done with newsletters, special officers and events. You know the expression: out of sight out of mind. A happy customer is likely to refer a friend.

Find ways to reward your sold customers– often. The other day I saw an ad for my cable carrier; the introductory price for new customers was really cheap. It’s a lot lower than what I’m paying. What do I have to do, opt out and go back in as a new customer?

Customer service is a marketing function. Marketing should look at all of their programs and make sure they are staying focused on sold customer. It’s been written that poor customer service accounts for 70 percent of customer loss. Customer service strategies should be pervasive throughout the entire company not just sales and customer service staff. Typically poor customer retention stems from bad leadership. If the owner doesn’t think, it’s important, why would anyone else? Customer service should be an ongoing conversation.

Quit talking and start listening! Try to tune into what your customers are saying daily.   This way, you can stop problems before they begin.

I was buying paint at The Local Paint Store this morning. Lyle, the paint maven, told me not to worry about the age of my paint; as long as the paint wasn’t frozen it would still work. Wow, I said, I thought I would have to throw it out.

The paint maven said, “It looks and smells good to me!”  I didn’t know the smell had anything to do with it; nice to know that someone cares about my pocketbook.

We are in the “participation economy: and we need to take our service to another level and constantly look for ways to be innovative. Consider finding ways to bring your customers together so they can share experiences with one another.

Lisbeth Calandrino has been providing business coaching for businesses for the past twenty years.  Her new book, “50 Events to Drive Traffic to Your Store” will be available on Amazon in June 2014. To have Lisbeth to provide training in your store, reach her at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com or 518-495-5380.

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21 02, 2012

Could Competition be the Best Thing for Your Business?

By |2017-03-03T12:07:06-05:00February 21st, 2012|Categories: Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |1 Comment

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How much time do you spend paying  attention to your competitors?  My experience with businesses is they only pay attention when the competitor hits them between the eyes. Then it’s about reacting rather than being proactive. Sometimes it’s easier to be a follower than a leader.

Walmart was considered the worst thing to ever invade the retail market. But Walmart, whether you like them or not, opened our eyes to pricing and what was possible. Soon we were on  our way to a new phase of retailers. Sure small local businesses closed, others found their niche and  became very successful. The Home Depot and Lowe’s Companies have had the same effect on other industries. But many smaller companies have profited from the advertising done by these two.

 If you study your competition you will develop your own niche or pout and pull up your tents and move. Success is what often kills business. Rather than realize that both success and failure are temporary they miss the winds of change. The winds are often fueled by their customer who they’ve taken for granted.

The key is to always be thinking, watching and asking questions and realize there will always be someone looking to dethrone you.

I think that Albany, New York  is about to go through a supermarket renaissance.  Soon we will have our own “Supermarket Square” around Everett Road and Central Avenue. It will be comprised of The Honest Weight Food Co-op, Hannaford Brothers, Price Chopper  and the new kid in town starting the rumble, ShopRite.  ( For those of you who are fans of Trader Joe’s and Fresh Market I don’t mean to slight you but they’re far away from  “Supermarket Square.”) Besides, without “Two Buck Chuck” Trader Joe’s is missing one of its finer elements. As Gary Vaynerchuk, who reviews wines on this popular video blog said, “There’s not a doubt in my mind that the two biggest things that have happened to the wine industry in the last 10 years are the movie Sideways and Two Buck Chuck”. Maybe Trader Joe’s will open a wine store next to their market.  

Hannaford and PriceChopper have had a lock on the area for years, competing across from each other on Central Avenue. The Honest Weight Food Coop is about to move closer to “Supermarket Square.” What will happen to them remains to be seen. They have their groopies and Gustoff,  the “cheese head” has amased himself quite a following. My next door neighbor told me she couldn’t have her dinner party until she consulted with Gusfoff about the cheese and the wine.

I believe  Price Chopper with its “gas card” and  community commitment as well as their wonderful new store left Hannaford in the dust. Funny because  Hannaford started their Nature’s Place several years ago which really catered to the “natural and organic foodies” who for the first time had lots to choose from at reasonable prices. Then all of a sudden Price Chopper expanded and blew Hannaford out of the water. At this point Hannaford looks small and uninviting by comparison. Hannaford is definitely strapped by its small store and maybe by the Delhaize Group out of Belgium who isn’t familiar with the Albany market.

One trip through Price Chopper and it’s hard to go back to Hannaford–which was my favorite because of the “Nature’s Place.” One thing about Hannaford, it’s smaller and quicker to get in and out but is this enough to keep it alive? I wonder how much business they’ve lost because of the store size and shelves that often look empty. The store needs a “make over” but the employees are still friendly, look great and always have time for a conversation.

But now the fun begins. I’ve known ShopRite  for years having had a furniture store directly in front of them  in Hudson, New York. (At the  insistence of ShopRite, it was either them or us  because they needed a parking lot where our business stood.) We closed our business and watched   as  the wrecking ball sent us into history.  After 16 years it was a big change for us, but not all change is bad. ShopRite then demolished their old building and rebuilt a magnificent store. This started in 1990–ShopRite knew that Hudson was thriving and changing.

Interestingly enough, I was given an assignment by DeLonghi to be part of ShopRite’s grand opening a couple of months ago. There I was, in the middle of hundreds of people and cooking roasted pepper panini. I can’t  remember the last time there was such excitement in town; for sure not because of a supermarket opening.

The foodies were all there, this time they were  the employees of ShopRite. The cheese boys from Jersey didn’t miss a beat, giving out big slabs of cheese along with “the cheese story. ”  The employees were definitely knowledgeable. Since that time I’ve been told that part of their training is knowing everything about the various cheeses. I loved it, felt right at home, since I come from the restaurant business. You really have to have a restaurant or cooking background if you’re Italian. Up until last year, we had a Thanksgiving cook off and everyone showed off their culinary skills. It was quite intimidating but thank goodness my 85 year old cousin decided not to compete last year with her stuffed artichokes leaving the prize money back on the table. The point is that many people take their  food seriously as does everyone in ShopRite including the cooks, and those lovingly shining up the oranges.  When the broccoli rabe was on sale people were scrambling over one another to stock up.

You know you never know what you’re missing until you get a new love in your life. Once who brings you something that you never thought possible. So it is with ShopRite. Customer service people standing at the end of the checkout counters asking if you have everything. 

This is so smart, great customer service–“I’m here to help and make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.” How many times have you been in the check out line, forgot something but didn’t want to lose your place in line? I wonder if they’re keeping track of how much is added to the customer’s bills at the end of the day because the customer service person has gone back to “pick up a few things” you might have missed.  “I brought an extra dozen eggs in case you need one more.” Customer service for sure can make you money.

Everyone in customer service seems to take their jobs seriously, I didn’t see anyone rolling their eyes when the old lady dropped her groceries out of her cart. You and I have both seen that in our supermarket travels.

Having culinary trained chefs in the kitchen is a nice touch; a better touch is one walking around and talking with customers. Now that’s customer service. I made it a point to talk with chef, compliment him on his tofu dishes which were very good. Cooking classes, recipes, small cafe to have lunch and the Health and Wellness Center, which includes an on site registered dietitian. My friend actually had a consult at the Wellness Center and said it was amazing; no lectures,  just a conversation–“tell me what your day is like and we’ll figure out how to work in the foods that will keep your  blood sugar from spiking.”

The amount of prepared food made me realize that ShopRite had done their homework. Yes you can get baked chicken anywhere but won ton soup? (Which was quite good by the way. Besides, what single person needs a whole chicken?) Small meals packaged,  a varied menu, lots of steamed fish and vegetables and cooking going on all day.

So what to do if you’re not the new kid on the block for some new ideas? I think it’s unwise to take your customers for granted. Some of us get out of town occasionally, have been to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.  We know there’s better things out there and we’ve been salivating and waiting.

How will ShopRite fit into the community? “ShopRite Partners In Caring” supports emergency food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters and much more. Sounds like they have their niche.

Ask your customers how you could kick it up a notch and listen. Don’t laugh in the back room because the customer wants you to put in a day care center. Of course ShopRite has a day care center or two around the country.

Have a consumer advocate group for your business, ask them, what  do they see in  the future for your business? Maybe you won’t be making Sweedish meatballs like IKEA but that probably seemed pretty wild in the day.

It’s hard to remain a leader but customer retention is the key to a successful business. Talking with them regularly will  give you new ideas about how to turn them into advocates for your business. The  key is not to be on the end of the curve but to set the curve. This means always looking for the next good idea.

The worst thing you can do is behave as if your customers don’t  matter. Businesses do this by thinking  customers will remain loyal no matter how they’re treated.

Not so honey bunch, there are too many other choices to stay around and be ignored.

Lisbeth Calandrino has been a business coach for over 20 years and develops customer service and sales training programs for businesses of all sizes. Lisbeth still has her grandmother Christine’s recipes and can cook up a pretty mean anchovy and tuna sauce.

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5 04, 2011

DO YOU WANT TO IMPROVE YOUR CUSTOMER SERVICE? TRY ONE QR CODE AT A TIME

By |2017-03-03T12:07:09-05:00April 5th, 2011|Categories: Blog, Customer Service|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |4 Comments

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This salesperson is always on dutyThe field of customer service is very different than it was a   couple of years ago. For instance, follow up meant calling your customer after the order. Now follow up may also mean  having a QR code for your business. Social media and mobile communication are moving so fast it’s hard to keep up with the changes, but if you want to deliver the best customer service you will have to keep up with the trends.Customer service has made so many changes and taken so many new paths it’s hard to know where to begin. Consider the following interview as another way to look at your follow up and customer service. 

Interview with Irene Williams, owner of QRHere, LLC

While at Crossville’s booth at Surfaces, I noticed  that several of their products had QR (Quick Response) codes; this was the first time I had seen codes used in this way. I turned around and ran into Irene Williams, digital marketing communications and copywriting expert and  developer of Crossville’s QR code program and accompanying smart phone app. I’d previously connected with Irene on Facebook, and was finally going to talk with her about her new venture, QRHere, LLC. I must admit, I thought I was up on most things, and then I had a conversation with Irene ; she’s light years ahead of me.
For those of you new to the topic, QR codes are a kind of 2-dimensional bar code. You may hear the phrase “mobile tag” referring to these marks as well. These codes bring digital content to the physical world. Using an app on your smart phone you can scan these QR codes or mobile tags, and you’ll be immediately taken to digital information—very often a web page.
With QRHere, Irene has created a way to make QR codes true Customer Relationship Management tools. While the experience with most QR readers ends on a history log on the smart phone, Irene’s app connects to an online account. When someone with an account scans an item on the smart phone, that information can be revisited later online. That’s a pretty handy feature for anyone selecting tile products. On the flip side, the brand that created the code—in this case, Crossville—is able to better understand what products are getting interest in the market and to know what specific customers are interested in.
That’s a lot of information from one little digitized square on the back of a tile sample!

Irene has been in marketing and PR for 19 years, 13 of those with a niche in the tile/flooring industries. I couldn’t help but ask her a few questions about her QR code venture.

Irene, how did you get into this?
If you’re a marketer today, how would you not get into this? We are now living in a relationship economy. The interactions—the relationships—we build with our customers have value and bring long-term rewards. I was an early adopter of social media and started leading social media programs for my clients because companies simply must be part of the conversation to succeed today. Social media and mobile marketing are extensions and new incarnations of the traditional PR and promotions we’ve all used for so long. It’s just that these modern tools enable us to be constantly present in our customers’ lives in more substantive ways. What an opportunity!

How are people adapting to this technology?
Just as social media grew really fast, the use of smart phones and other mobile devices are taking hold quickly. People across the board, regardless of demographic, are awakening to the power of the smart phone as a tool that makes life easier. Of course, some businesses are still slow to connect what this can mean for their marketing and consumer engagement. All age groups and all types of people are increasing in smart phone use, and brands that are future-focused are going to make the most of this kind of ceaseless connectivity.

How are the QR codes being used?

The QR Code  can hold much more information than traditional bar codes, and you can get to that information by using a QR code reader app on your smart phone. QR codes were invented in Japan by Denso-Wave in 1994 to track parts during auto manufacturing, but they eventually caught on at the consumer level. Today QR codes are widely used in Japan where smart phone usage took hold early on, increasingly popular in Europe and now they’ve really hit the U.S. You’re seeing these codes used in a variety of ways here in the U.S.—in publishing, retail, real estate—anywhere marketers want to connect in the moment with consumers by taking them to web pages, v-cards, YouTube videos, whatever digital content they want to share!
I’ve even heard of QR codes being used on gravestones, scan the code with your smart phone and get the life story of the person being memorialized right there, in the moment. Obviously, the possibilities are endless!
Why would a business want to use QR codes?
Think of every QR code as another sales person out in the world representing your brand. In the moment, when a customer is showing interest, the QR code can take them to deeper information that may help inspire a purchase. QR codes basically invert the lead retrieval process, letting your customers immediately get the details they want for specific products, services or displays. And once companies realize how simple QR codes are to work with, the barriers for use really start to fade.
You’ve taken it a step further with your QRhere.biz
As a marketer of the digital age, I was immediately enamored by QR codes and knew a hundred uses for them out of the chute. However, I also saw some opportunities to deepen their use both for marketers and consumers. That’s why I launched my biz, QRHere—to close the loop and make QR code usage really valuable all around.
With my system, marketers can easily create and manage their code inventories. They also get a custom, branded mobile app that their consumers download to their phones to scan all relevant product codes. With the online component and the custom mobile app, marketers will not only know when a code gets scanned, they can know who scanned—in real-time. They can track activity by product, zip code or by individual consumer. That level of data is immensely valuable. For consumers, my system lets people create their own portfolios of information that can be revisited anytime on roomier screens beyond their smart phones. They can share what they scan socially, immediately request more information from the brand or business, and they have more reasons to interact with products and make purchasing decisions.
This is a  good idea for most anyone wishing to get their message out.
I believe my biz empowers both marketer and consumer to really get the specific information they need and want. And that’s the ultimate representation of where the marketplace is going as a whole—more targeted, direct messaging customized to the recipient at every turn. The future is here, and everyone who hopes to sell stuff to modern consumers better be “Quick to Respond”!!

Personally I”m most fascinated with the QR code on the tombstone; does this mean I will be working forever?

Lisbeth Calandrino is an award winning author, trainer and blogger. She is  author of the book, Red Hot Customer Service, 35 ways to heat up your business and ignite your sales. Lisbeth can provide customer service and sales training using the principles of her book at your place of business or through video conferences.

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