No one to answer the phone?

No one to answer the phone… = frustrated customer, frustrated owner

Have you ever phoned a business and heard endless ringing or a busy signal every time?

In today’s world of instant everything we expect something to happen when we dial a phone number, especially when it is a business phone. At the very least, we expect a voice mail although our preference always is a person.

So why is the phone not answered, especially when it is your business? When your business is closed during after hours or special holidays, there should be an answering machine with a polite welcome message. But when your business is open… what then?

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Keep Your Promise to Your Customers

One thing I like about speaking with an Apple representative is they always take down my phone number so they can reach me in case we get disconnected. What have I learned from that? I always want to know how I can reconnect with a customer to keep in touch just in case.

Group of workers people.

Staying in touch is critical in today’s business world. Both you and your customers are busy people. You get disconnected. What if you had promised to do something for them and didn’t record their phone number or name when they called? What if another call came in before you got a chance to return their call or another customer came to your counter? Drat! You forgot. Unless the person is a regular customer or you have a photographic mind, it is challenging to remember the intended action and connect it with the correct customer. There goes your promise. Unfortunately the reminder may come in later as an irate customer. If another staff person starts to serve them it causes another delay. Little delays seem to snowball and test everyone’s patience.

Every business has to find a way to eliminate or minimize delays in order to keep their promises. Continue reading

Loyalty Programs are Hot

Loyalty programs are not just for ‘Big Business’. If you want to stay in the game, consider having a mobile-friendly loyalty program to keep your customers engaged.

Nation’s Restaurant News (NRN) highlighted the latest trends for eating establishments in an August 20, 2014 article..

One of the hottest areas of innovation is loyalty programs. Consumers especially younger generations demand technology-enabled speed and convenience in everything they do, including ordering and paying for restaurant meals. Beyond that, they have a hunger to belong. They want to align themselves with brands that reflect their lifestyles and values and they want to be rewarded for doing so.”

Further along in the same article they stated…Eight out of 10 participants in restaurant rewards programs affirm that they’re more likely to frequent a restaurant where they’re recognized as a loyal patron. And regardless of whether they currently participate in any loyalty programs, nine out of 10 consumers say they’d be likely to sign up for a new program inaugurated by a restaurant that was already a favourite of theirs. Of these enthusiasts, 94% say that after joining the new rewards club, they would likely patronize that restaurant even more often going forward.”

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Just like automobiles were in the early 1900’s, loyalty programs are the ‘wave of the future’. But remember your customers want great value and convenience. NRN also stated in their article that…

“Two-thirds of consumers say they’d likely turn down the chance to join a restaurant loyalty program if there were a joining fee, and almost half would take a pass if they felt the rewards weren’t worth the hassle of signing up.”

So you have to ‘know’ your customers to decide what they would find valuable and don’t charge a fee for signing up. That’s like closing your doors and expecting customers to come in.

If you don’t own a restaurant, it doesn’t mean you don’t need a loyalty program. In fact you probably need it even more. The NRN article also stated…

“Your best customers want to feel they’re special and part of the action. Reward loyalty members with frequent coupons and special deals, exclusive chances to sample and comment on new items, and other members-only perks.”

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Every day you delay implementing a loyalty program NRN notes you are “leaving money on the table”. A loyalty program is an increasingly powerful tool to keep your present customers, attract new customers and increase customer referrals.

In this digital age, what are your thoughts about making technology work for you to attract customers?

http://nrn.com/sponsored-content/diner-loyalty-digital-age Nation’s Restaurant News’ sponsored by American Express

Plenty FULL Services is a money-saving, mobile-friendly loyalty program that can be customized to fit any type of business. Remember, customers want to be rewarded.

Attracting Success to your business…

Peter

Tankful of Hot Water

It’s been a long time since I had to have cold showers but this past summer it was not by choice. My wife even partook in one or two much to her disgust. But back to the beginningin the spring time.First Sign of Spring

Just after we had an enjoyable weekend with company, we noticed our house had no hot water. We were thankful we hadn’t run out while our company was here. But after a day and the tank hadn’t recovered, we started to investigate.

A couple of years back we had installed a new high-efficiency gas hot water tank. As with all new equipment it came with a plethora of paperwork. Fortunately I keep all the warranty materials in one box and write the purchase date on the front page. Thankfully I found the instructions for the tank―unfortunately most of the warranty was expired―it has been more than the two years I thought.

After a coffee and reading the manual, I checked the tankyellow lights were on. The booklet explained how to reset the tank. It was simple. Everything fired up and we had hot water in an hour or so.

Things went fine for a day or two then one morning I noticed the water was getting cool. When I went downstairs to check the tank, those pesky yellow lights were on again. Once more I got things started but by evening my wife was mentioning the water seemed to be cool. Downstairs again and you guessed ityellow lights. I reset the tank once more. We kept doing this for about a month sometimes having to reset the tank half-an-hour apart.

When I finally had enough and called the gas company, they informed me they had run a special cleaning chemical through their lines. It sometimes fooled the sensors in the newer hot water tanks indicating there was low gas pressure. The gas company recommended we wait a month. If we were still having problems then call back.

Well by now I had shown my wife how to reset the tank which she reluctantly learned as she is not mechanically inclined. The month went by with each of us taking turns to check and reset the tank. Some mornings were frustrating because neither one of us checked the night before. We learned to shower like we were in a holiday trailer.

The problem didn’t go away. Further discussions with the gas company did not solve the problem either. But one of our sons is a plumber/gas fitter so we called him. He thought it could be a build up of lime or calcium in the water that was causing the problem with the sensor. He gave me instructions over the phone and told me to look for them in the warranty booklet. That was not the problem. Talking more with my son, it now looks like a part will have to be ordered and replaced. Did I mention we live in a small rural town which has no plumbers, gas fitters or electricians? The closest one is 80 km.

The summer has now passed into fall and we are very grateful we only have to check the hot water tank once or twice a week. Most mornings there’s lots of hot water. The moral of the story…no matter what issues you have in your day be thankful you have a tankful of hot water.

Keep smiling,

Peter

Your Staff is Your Voice with Your Customers

It’s my experience savvy staff know politeness, helpfulness and a smile translate into cash tips in the hospitality industry. Your staff is your frontline face for your business no matter what industry. Smiling faces and voices welcome customers, put them at ease and give them the feeling they are respected. Yes, it is important to have well trained staff, but I find it is equally important for staff to feel they have the support of your business behind them.

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Anything you can do to make your staff feel part of the team is good for business. It is the little things that count. A word of gratitude for a job well done, a signed card with a bonus cheque at Christmas time, public recognition for their work…there’s lots of ways to build a team. When your business has teamwork you can guide your staff to talk with customers in the way you want. Their voices reflect your message with customers.

Of course there will always be staff that are there only for the paycheque, but others have deep personal values and always strive to do a great job. Those loyal staff members not only deserve to be rewarded but must be rewarded with satisfaction in both tangible and intangible ways. Staff can be your biggest asset or your biggest liability. If you have a system to reward your staff with things they value, some of your paycheque-only staff may change their attitude. Finding ways to make your staff into your greatest asset pays huge dividends. Remember, your staff is your voice with your customers.

It is the day-to-day actions that build or destroy a staff-management relationship.

  • Always speak with your staff like you would like to be treated.
  • Be flexible, but also clear about your expectations that come with the job. Give them a vision.
  • Voice your satisfaction immediately with individual staff when you see outstanding work, especially the ‘small’ things.
  • When you have a concern with one of your staff, begin the discussion by giving a compliment first.
  • At staff meetings start discussing what went right first. Then you can go into asking for input for improvements, setting goals for the team to focus on, asking for solutions when challenges crop up or whatever pressing topics need to be addressed.
  • Consistently be the example for your ‘Business Face’ to steep your staff in your business culture. After all, you cannot always be in front of every customer so your staff is your voice with your customers.

What is your experience with building staff loyalty?

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Visit Plenty FULL Services (PFS) for ‘Staff Management Tips’ to make your work load easier to manage.

Here’s to your success!

Peter

Creating Staff Loyalty

Recognition for staff efforts is important for building a loyal team atmosphere. It can be given many ways, but sometimes you need to use tangible rewards to build staff loyalty. It is the old saying, different strokes for different folks and I have seen a lot in my 30 years. Rewards are a great way to motivate your staff anytime, but especially when you are introducing a customer loyalty program.

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Loyalty programs are for customers and have to satisfy their ‘what’s in it for me’ expectation. Sometimes staff don’t see the big picture…how a customer loyalty program will benefit themselves. Staff incentives can make the difference because there is something in it for them while they are promoting your new program.

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It can happen several ways:

  • Some staff members enjoy a contest, but in the end only one staff member gets the ‘big’ reward.
  • Rewards for reaching milestones within a time-frame produces greater motivation among a larger number of your staff. Each one has an equal chance to get a reward.
  • Have different levels of rewards…
  • give a gift card prize for ‘x’ number of sign-ups
  • first staff member to get 100 customer sign-ups gets double the gift card prize
  • greatest number of sign-ups over a base number within the week gets a cash bonus of ‘x’ amount. Several of your staff may qualify, especially the competitive ones.Have fun with staff rewards.

Rewards directly linked to the number of customer sign-ups ensures your new loyalty program is promoted to as many customers as possible. The more sign-ups, the more perks staff can qualify for whether it’s a cash bonus, gift cards or a day off with pay.

How do you inspire your staff loyalty?

If a customer loyalty program is something you want to explore, send an email to peter@plentyfullservices to see how we can make it as simple as 1-2-3 for your business to bring in more customers over and over again and have a 1-2-3 way to reward your staff for their loyalty too.

Here’s to YOUR Success,

Peter

The Golden Rule of Customer Loyalty

The Golden Rule of Customer Loyalty

‘Always provide the quality of product the customer expects with the best possible service for every sale.’

crowd_peopleIf your claim to fame is to provide the lowest price, then you provide the lowest price. If your claim to fame is quality then provide the best in the market. Whether all your products are just a few pennies or thousands of dollars, providing top notch service is the standard to gain and keep the loyalty of your customers.

What is customer loyalty? It is the kindness of a consumer to choose to purchase items from your business over and over again. The consumer is looking to fulfill a need or want. The way I see it, there are two main underlying emotions for customers. First is the emotion to purchase items for the best quality for the lowest price. They want the feeling of a great deal which is the joy of shopping. Second is the emotion of self-esteem. ‘I will look great in this!’

It is important for you to know which customer emotion(s) your business is targeting as a goal. Once you identify your goal(s), then everything you do as a business must be directed towards those goal(s). The more clarity you have, the more focussed your marketing can be.

So if you have focussed marketing, customers ought to flood your doors. Right? Wrong! Customers will try your products/services once to see if it meets the hype of your advertising. If they like it, there’s a better chance they’ll come back in the future.

If you want customer loyalty, follow the Golden Rule and go one more step…appreciate your customers and consistently let them know it.

Customer loyalty means a consumer will return to your business again and again because they feel they get the best service and product. Price is no longer their only criteria. They are prepared to pay slightly higher prices because the intangibles you offer at your business is worth the price difference. When consumers develop a loyalty to your business they have a sense of security…you will look after their best interests. Having ample loyal paying customers returning over and over again keeps you in business.

What would your business look like if you could consistently let your customers know you appreciate them?

Having a host of paying customers returning over and over again is what Plenty FULL Services helps you do consistently. If you want to find out more, take some time and visit plentyfullservices.com or if you want to know if we are a match for your business call us! If the line is busy please leave a message with a good time to call you back.

May your doors be flooded with Loyal Customers!

 

and by the way in case I have not told my loyal customers…

thank-you

Here’s to YOUR Success!

Peter

Keeping Customers Coming Back Part Two

Keeping Customers Coming Back

Part Two

Introducing customer retention ideas to the 21st century is here. You can keep bringing customers through your door by…Working_computer_Program_IMG_0803

  1. Hire a company to build an app to keep in contact with your customers by sending offers directly to them. The up side is… you own your customer list and can target your messages to your customers. The down side is… it is costly, time consuming and requires constant updating.
  2. Use the services of a customer contact company to send out messages and then set up an in-house system to track the customers who come back to spend with you. The up side is… contacting your customers is automatic and your customer list grows. The down side is… It is time consuming to set up an in-house system to monitor customer activity. As your customer lists builds up, your service fees go up. Also if you choose to leave the service, you are responsible for exporting the list. If exporting is not your thing, another choice is to have a duplicate list at your business which you keep up-to-date on a weekly basis. It does take time so consider this option carefully.
  3. Use the services of a Customer Appreciation Program which make it easy for your customers to take part in your offers. Make sure which program options you want. Some services have a sliding fee… program costs are based on the number of transactions or growing numbers of customers. Ask about reporting capabilities, whether an automated survey is available or mobile friendly options. You may want to know the length of the contract too. The ease of monitoring your results vs the cost of the program in time and money will determine the best value. If you like, add Plenty FULL Services (www.plentyfullservices.com) to your list of vendors.

If you keep doing what you’re presently doing, you will get the same results. Remember, consumers want to be rewarded for spending their money. Savvy marketing not only is critical to keep customers coming through your doors, but critical in saving you time, effort and money. Contacting individual consumers automatically is the wave of the future.

If you had a simple way to bring in more customers regularly, what would you change in your business?

Until next time…

Peter

Keeping Customers Coming Back

Keeping Customers Coming Back

Part One

Today’s businesses are concerned with ‘customer retention’… keeping existing customers coming back instead of expending so much time, money and energy finding new ones. There are a number of challenges to keeping in touch with customers including more tasks than time in a day.

Some businesses have an invitation to complete a survey on the back of the till receipts they hand out to their customers.

This is a great innovation but the drawback is most customers either throw out the receipt or they forget about it by the time they get home. Plus more and more shoppers find there isn’t enough value for them to complete the survey.

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Some till receipts have a discount offer.

But the restrictions don’t make it convenient for the shopper. For those who live an hour away from the store, a time-limited discount is not going to attract them back. The receipt gets tossed. If the discount is valid for several weeks, the shopper still won’t come back to use the offer if there are too many restrictions. Or worse… the customer does come back to make a purchase and finds out the discount does not apply. They didn’t read the fine print close enough… one instantly annoyed customer!

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For a restaurant, having a card on the table for the customer to fill out is another response solution.

Someone has to record and analyze the comments to gain any benefit from the exercise. Again, there has to be some attractive value for the customer or they won’t take the time to fill it out. Customers want to be rewarded for spending their money.

These customer retention ideas and others have been around for a long time; long before the introduction of computers and other electronic devices. Rather than re-inventing the wheel, they need to be updated to the 21st century. Offers need to be connected to the individual shopper.

If you could easily keep your customers coming back month in and out, what would your business look like?

Until next time…

Peter

Customer Put on Hold

(then You Drop the Ball)

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Have you ever put a customer on hold on the phone saying it will take you 5 minutes to get an answer and then forgot them or it took 20 minutes? Somedays it seemed like the phone was permanently glued to my ear! I had the best intentions but there were so many things which happened in each day. It was tough to remember the customer who was on the phone earlier. Unless I wrote down a notethere was no physical reminder to trigger the thought to call them back. Sometimes even a note didn’t help.

Customers are not concerned with how busy your day is because they have pressing matters themselves. They just want to know if you can provide the service or item, when and for how much. So how do you make good when you’ve forgotten them, when you’ve dropped the ball?

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I found you usually can get the situation cleared up by…

  • phoning and starting with an apology for the delay.
  • thanking them for their patience. This tells them they are important to you.
  • giving them an offer to show how much you value them.

What if most days you could guarantee your customers being patient with you, especially when you drop the ball?

Imagine your business if all your customers truly felt loyal to you?

How do you think they would feel if you had an occasional ‘oops’, when you dropped the ball? My experience tells me most days they would overlook it. They would stay with your business because you gave them ‘special treatment’. Loyal customers stay with you through thick and thin.

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So how do you get loyal customers? First of all, you must have top-notch products and services. Then…

  • Develop a niche market. Your business must be unique is some small way so it remains memorable in your customers’ minds.
  • Listen to your customers. The’ll tell you what they like best and then give them more, or what they like least and then resolve it.
  • Be fully present with your customers. Really listen to them so they feel valued.
  • Reward them occasionally. Make it fun.
  • Do little things like keeping them informed of local events or places of interest such as museums.

Don’t have the time to do ‘all that stuff’? Then use a loyalty program.

A loyalty program lets you stay in touch with your customers consistently. Some will let you add a note to a customer’s account file so you can follow-up easily. Some have the ability to set up an immediate reward with a specific customer. This feature alone would pay big dividends in keeping your customers happy. Keeping customers thrilled is a great way to get more customers.

What one thing would you want a loyalty program to do to keep your customers happy even when you drop the ball?  Leave me a comment below.

Plenty FULL Services is an affordable loyalty program which makes it simple to keep your customers content. Visit www.plentyfullservices.com to get happy customers bringing customers to you.

Here’s to your Content Customers!

Peter