Archive for the ‘Customer Service’ Category
When you provide a service to your clients, or you sell high cost, high quality products, credibility is one of the things you need to help you grow your business. You won’t find it listed as one of the tools you can put into your ‘marketing mix’ and yet it is vital for your success.
This blog looks at some of the ways in which you can build credibility for yourself and your business. I’ve also recorded a short video about building credibility, so if you’d rather listen than read, just click here.
Credibility is about good reputation; it is the power or influence it gives. All your prospective clients will be naturally suspicious of you, so it’s your job to show them that you can be trusted by building respect with them. When someone trusts you, they are far more likely to buy from you. Your credibility is what allows you to develop the high level of trust needed for someone to agree to spend their money with you.
So how do you build your credibility?
Be helpful. When you meet a prospective client or referrer, find out how you can help them. What sort of clients are they looking? Do you have a new supplier you can recommend to them? If they ask for your advice, share your knowledge and expertise with them. Don’t keep it all to yourself and only help your clients. Give whatever you can.
Stick to what you’re good at. You need to become an expert in your field and the only way to do this is by sticking at it. Don’t get distracted by something else, just because you think you can make money from it. Don’t try to jump onto a new band wagon – focus on getting even better at what you already do well and become known for that. You can’t claim to be an expert when you’ve only been doing something for a year, so you need to really work at it over the years.
Be consistent. As well as sticking to what you do and being consistent in your services, you need to show consistency in how you promote your business. A company that keeps changing its name or branding is likely to confuse potential (and existing) clients. Create a brand that reflects your values and then stay true to those values.
Write about it. One of the best ways of sharing your expertise and thereby building your credibility is by writing about it. Blogs, articles and newsletters are a great place to start. Don’t brag about how great your business is, but focus on being helpful. Give your readers tips and ideas to help them. Once you’ve mastered short bursts of writing, thing about putting more of your knowledge into a book. A book will really boost your credibility.
Speak about it. Giving talks about your experiences is another way to share your knowledge with a large number of people and therefore increase your credibility. Running workshops and seminars allow you to share even more, over more time. A word of warning – if you’ve not had any training in public speaking, or you’re very nervous, you can actually do your credibility more harm than good. Get some professional help if you need it, before embarking on a career on the stage. When you can do it professionally, you’ll see your credibility soar.
In order to turn a suspicious prospect into a trusting client who loves what you do for them, look at all the ways in which you can build your credibility. Select the tactics that will work best for you and you’ll be able to build a great reputation and a loyal following of clients.
Alex Polizzi, The Hotel Inspector, knows a thing or two about running successful hotels and about turning struggling establishments into ones that really thrive. While watching an episode on the TV recently, it occurred to me that some of her ‘rules’ can easily be applied to many other businesses.
The episode that inspired this blog focused on an historic hotel in St Albans, where the owners were trying to do too much. The building was extremely old and had all sorts of history attached to it. There was also rumour that the hotel was inhabited by ghosts, so one of the owners – part of a husband and wife team – had decided that her guests really wanted to know about all things paranormal. On arrival the Hotel Inspector was told about all the ghostly inhabitants and shown a bizarre – and somewhat tacky – collection of Halloween decorations, masquerading as a ‘secret scary gallery’. The stunning dining room, with its oak panelling, was rather downgraded by the menu that featured a number of ghost-related dishes and the landlady was planning to convert the cellar into a themed room – probably a dungeon or torture chamber!
Aside from the ghostly goings on, the landlady also wanted to upgrade the bridle suite by spending up to £25,000 on redecoration and a brand new bathroom. Her husband was not impressed by most of her ideas; neither was our hotel expert.
Some programmes of this type carry out total renovations of homes or hotels, spending thousands of pounds on the work and implementing expensive marketing campaigns. This one was refreshingly different because the main recommendation was to simplify the business. Instead of scaring guests, they were treated to historical tours of the town and a menu that reflected the age of the building – something that none of the other eating establishments in the town were offering. A simple £10 lunch menu was created to encourage more day time passing trade – any elaborate ideas for themed evenings were turned down. In addition, Alex Polizzi suggested that the husband and wife take very clear, separate roles within the hotel. The wife was put in charge of learning the history of the hotel and the town, so that she could lead walking tours and talk to her guests – something that she realised she loved doing. The husband was responsible for the menu and for keeping it simple (and for keeping his wife out of the kitchen so that their staff could get on with their jobs!) This allowed him to carry out very simple, inexpensive local marketing, to bring more customers through the doors, where they could enjoy good food without be scared by the prices.
What about the bridle suite? The landlady got her wish of a new one, but for a mere £7000 and it was extremely tasteful and in keeping with the old building.
I’ve realised that the times when things haven’t gone so well with my business are when we’ve tried to do too much. When you lose focus on what you’re really good at, it can be all too easy to throw money at a new idea or an expensive marketing campaign – probably the worst thing to do if money is already tight. Instead, focus on what you’re good at and look for ways of doing it even better than before. That way, you can build a business on your reputation, with a simple marketing message, without the need for gimmicks and a huge budget.
A book is a powerful way of promoting your business. It’s like a giant business card that shares your knowledge and experience with your potential clients. Writing a whole book can be a daunting task, so why not start with something smaller and less expensive, like an ebook? Here’s how you can get started.
Set your structure. A couple of years ago I started to write a book about Marketing Planning. The idea actually came from a presentation I’d been asked to give at a networking meeting about the basics of Marketing Planning. I created the structure for the talk, based on the nine stage planning process I’ve developed. Having written the talk, I realized that I actually had the structure for the book too! Once you have your structure, you’ll find it much easier to get going, so think about the key topics you want to cover in your ebook.
The time and place to write. Trying to write in my office rarely works. The phone rings or someone says something that distracts me. Instead, I like to write at my kitchen table with a cup of tea, a cat and view out into my garden. I have also found that I do my best writing in the morning. When I’m working to a writing deadline, I spend the first hour of each working day writing in the kitchen, before heading for the office. Find the time and place that suits you best.
Work to a deadline. When I don’t have a deadline to work to, my writing doesn’t get done. Other things crop up and seem to be more important. I’ve just finished writing my second book (with the working title of One in Ten) which has to be printed by 13 September 2013. I worked out a schedule for completing the writing and time for everything else that needs to be done, for it to be ready.
Editing and proof reading. I’m hopeless at proof reading my own work, so I always ask someone else to do it for me. I also had help with the editing of my first book, to make sure I was on the right track. If you’re writing your first book, look for someone who can guide you, to make sure your book hits its mark and does its job.
How does it look? The layout of any book is really important. It has to look professional and be easy to read. My first book was a workbook, full of tables and space to write. I worked with a graphic designer who works on a lot of books, to create something that looked just right.
Promoting your book. So you’ve written your ebook and it looks wonderful. Now you need to tell people about it! Talk about it when you go networking; put it on your website and make it easy for people to buy; and sell it through Amazon. You can give away free copies to people who will help you spread the word – or to potential clients.
So that’s how to create an ebook. What’s stopping you?!
A very wise man once said “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” (Alan Watts, British philosopher). How can this sentence apply to you? Do you accept change or do you fight it?
Arguably, one of the biggest changes we have seen in the business industry within the last few years is social media. Social media has been around for a fair while now but the importance of it crept up on us and it soon became a standardised service that marketers were offering. After understanding the importance of social media, more and more businesses slowly but surely started investing in it. However there are still a lot of business leaders that do not see the value of it and refuse to even look at it.
Nowadays there are so many social media platforms available that it almost becomes overwhelming for the user to know which to use. Could this be the reason business leaders are not keen to interest in social media? Too much choice? If that is the reason for you then here’s a quick summary of the main social media platforms that we use for ourselves and our clients.
– A good platform for consumer based clients. Using engaging techniques like posting tips or posting photos you can really interact with your audience and enforce your brand. Facebook can also be very effective for events as you can set up an Facebook event, send out invites and gain a following.
– This micro blogging website allows you to post updates (no bigger than a 140 characters) and retain an audience. Twitter is a brilliant platform to show off your expertise and start a conversation that could lead to work.
– LinkedIn is the host to a thriving business community from around the world. Depending on your business you can engage and interact with people in your local area. Through LinkedIn you can start discussions to a mass audience, share expertise and gain valuable advice through other members.
– YouTube is a video sharing website, you can upload, watch and share videos from all around the world. Videos can prove to be a vital part of business so uploading them to a site visited by millions of people a day can prove very effective.
This list goes on and on but these are some of the main social media platforms that we use. We are always looking at other social media platforms and keeping up to date with the new updates or new platforms. The ones listed – among others, have proven to be the most effective for us and our clients.
Remember that using social media does not mean posting updates about what you had for breakfast, or what you thought of the latest football scores. It’s a marketing tool that you can use to improve your relationship with your clients and show professionalism and expertise to potential clients. It is also another platform to use to get relevant people to visit to your website/get in contact with you and then convert them to a client/customer. So instead of battling with change, just accept it and join the dance.
For more information on social media or if you would like further tips on how to use it in business, send me an email. Does your business use social media? If so what social media websites does your business use and which ones are effective? Facebook? Twitter? LinkedIn?
‘People buy people’ is a phrase you’ve probably heard more times than you need to, but when you sell a service it really is important. I’d like to share a story with you, to show you how important it is to develop a good reputation in business.
A few months ago my friend Mandy moved to a new job. She went to a different industry but within the same town, so kept going to the same networking meetings. Because she’d been networking in the local area for some time, it was easy for her to stand up and talk about the new job and business, because people already knew her. She might have changed jobs but she hadn’t changed – she was still the same reliant, efficient, well connected person. She was doing a great job of raising the profile of a local business that many people didn’t know about, because no one from the business went networking.
After being in her new job for just a couple of months, Mandy told me that she had smashed the sales targets she’d been given. Her job is mainly about handling enquiries that come into the business and converting them into sales. How did she manage to do this, having been in the job for such a short time? Mandy is a people person, so instead of just sending a standard reply to email enquiries, she picks up the phone and speaks to people. She talks them through the options, to help them decide on the best service for them. She’s converted a lot of small jobs – ones that her customers tell her they could have got cheaper elsewhere – because she takes the time to speak to her customers and get to know them. They tell her that they’re giving her company the work because she’s put in the effort. Making a quick phone call doesn’t take up much more time than sending an email and doesn’t cost much more – and it has much better results for Mandy.
So do people really buy people? When you’re selling a service, rather than a product, then yes they do. You need build up your reputation – in your industry or local area – and really get to know your potential customers. When you can do that, you’ll find it much easier to find new clients.
What can you do to improve your reputation and help people buy ‘you’?