Archive for the ‘Customer Service’ Category
At the beginning of January 2014 I decided not to take on any new clients for the next few months. We’ve had some changes at Appletree recently in terms of staff and the direction we want to take. In addition I’ve been working on a new Business Plan that focuses on regrouping and looking after our existing clients for a few months, before going after any new ones. We’ve got enough work to keep us busy for the moment and I don’t have a huge amount of spare time to spend on networking and looking for new clients.
So what happened in my first week back at work? I took on two new clients! I didn’t go looking for them – they both got in touch and asked for our help! If I wasn’t looking for them, where did they come from?
John runs a business locally and I first met him at least a year ago at a networking meeting. I’ve seen him there every now and then since the first time and we’ve chatted a few times. I gave him some advice about buying a Skoda (you’ll see from my last blog that I’m a big fan), along with some general marketing advice, for which he was grateful. I asked if he could help me with some equipment for my office, but at the time he couldn’t. I had never actively pursued him as a client, so I was delighted when he called and asked for my help. By the time you read this, we will have had our first monthly Marketing Mentoring session and John will have started putting together a plan for the marketing he needs to do over the next six months.
Toby is a consultant in London, who I’ve known for quite a few years. He has a simple website that really doesn’t do justice to his experience. It doesn’t show off his credibility to potential clients who are recommended to contact him. He’s asked us to write new copy for his site, to make sure that anyone who visits the site, as a result of a recommendation, then picks up the phone and calls him. Toby likes the Appletree website and wants his to do the same for him as ours does for us.
So why is content king? Because the content of what you say and what you write is incredibly important. In the conversations I’ve had with John, I’ve focused on giving him useful advice rather than trying to sell to him. The Appletree website does contain some ‘sales’ copy about the different services we provide. But mostly it gives visitors useful advice and resources that you can use in your marketing. The blog, the newsletters, the help sheets and the tweets are all there to show that we know what we’re talking about and that we’re happy to share our knowledge with you.
What can you do to improve the content of what you’re saying and writing? Does your networking need a refresh? What can you add to your website to help it give away more? Think about how you can improve your content and perhaps clients will just start to turn up on your doorstep too
Why I Still Love My Skoda – One Year On
Just before Christmas 2012 I treated myself to a new car. It’s a Skoda and when I first heard that the car that matched all my requirements (it had to be small, economical, meet my monthly budget, be delivered before the end of the year and, most importantly, be the colour green!) I wasn’t sure about the make. They’ve had a bad reputation in the past – click here to see the blog I wrote about branding when my new car first arrived. But as soon as he arrived, I was in love!
One year on and I still love my Skoda. He’s very economical to run and is a real talking point, because he’s always the greenest car in the car park! Just before Christmas 2013 I had reason to fall even more in love with my car because of the great customer service I received from my local Skoda garage. The car has to be serviced once a year on the lease deal, so I called the local garage to book it in. It was a simple, straightforward process with a nice, positive chap at the end of the phone. He asked if I would need a lift to anywhere in the town, once I’d dropped the car off.
Actually I decided to sit in their nice warm office and drink their free coffee, but it was great to be asked. I could have used the service to get to a meeting locally, to make good use of my time; instead I sat in a comfy chair and wrote this blog! This was made even easier by the free wifi available – and by free I mean that I didn’t even have to give anyone my email address. Too many meeting places and hotels are still asking for your details before giving you access, only giving you access for a certain time, or worse, still asking you to pay for access!
While my car was being serviced, the garage carried out a free ‘check’ of the car to see if it needed any other work done on it. Now I know that this is their clever way of looking for more work to do, to encourage me to spend more money. It didn’t work, but it’s a nice touch and something we should all think about doing for our clients, to see how else we can help them (and help them spend money with us.)
The other nice thing the Skoda garage did for me was clean my car for free – inside and out! I had actually washed my lovely little car a couple of weeks before, but hadn’t vacuumed the inside for a while. I’m really grateful to the garage for getting rid of all the autumn leaves, dog fur and other debris that had collected. I love driving an almost new car and like to keep it clean, so having this done for me, for free, without me having to ask for it, was a really nice touch.
Great customer service isn’t difficult. It’s about doing things that your customers expect, without them having to ask. It’s about doing extra things that don’t cost you much, but which will surprise and delight your customers. Skoda have done a great deal to improve the bad name they had many years ago and the team at Ridgeway Skoda in Newbury are working hard to maintain that reputation. Well done Dan and the team!
Being an Apprentice Must Be Rubbish!
On Monday I had my six month review with Chantal; it’s hard to believe I have been at Appletree for half a year already. The time has flown by and I have learnt so much. Starting as an Apprentice I was worried that my days would be filled with shadowing other staff members, making cups of tea and keeping the office clean and tidy. I was wrong! Although a lot of my time has been spent learning new skills by watching others, I have also been given a lot of free reign and left with a lot of responsibility. It’s nice to feel like an important part of the team so quickly after starting.
In my first six months here, I’ve had a variety of work to do, jobs such as co-ordinating events, editing blogs and writing newsletters for clients (the first of which went really well). I have had much more to do than I was expecting, which has made coming to work enjoyable and educational. After my colleague Yan left, just under a month ago, my role at Appletree has changed dramatically but only in a good way. I now have much more work to do and more responsibility. I can turn up to work knowing that I won’t be waiting for other members of the team to show up before I have something to do.
Just what do I love about working at Appletree?
There are quite a few things that are great about working at Appletree, if I was to write them all down this list would be endless, so I have chosen my top four and here they are:
The Location. One of the things I love about working at Appletree is coming to work in an office with a view of the countryside, apple trees in the back garden, a horse in the paddock to the left and no traffic noise to stress me out. It’s so peaceful in the office and its a nice relaxing drive to and from work every day.
The Office. The office at Appletree may be small, but it is never a dull place to work. As an Apprentice I was sceptical with how much work I would be burdened with. I have never had a day where the work has been the same. I am always being asked to work on new projects or finding new ways of doing my job. I have never woken up and thought to my slef “oh god! I have to go to work!” This is a fantastic feeling to have, as in the past I found myself getting bored with jobs after a while.
The Team. Again, like the office it may be small, but the team at Appletree is a hardworking and motivated team. We all know how to have a laugh and how to get work done. One of the most important things about a team is that they should all get along and I think it’s safe to say we are all friends as well as team members here.
The Clients. It’s great to have such a varied range of clients; it makes working with them on a day to day basis much more interesting. From writing tweets to uploading blogs and newsletters the work is never the same.
I think it has been a fantastic first six months at Appletree. I have learnt so much and knowing that my college course starts in January I know that I have only just started mt voyage of discovery. I am enjoying it thoroughly and I know that that I am going to carry on learning and enjoying my next six months and the months after that.
merry Christmas to you all, Have a fantastic New Year. See you all in 2014!
You’ve probably heard me say before that ad hoc marketing does not work. This means that just going to one networking meeting or sending out one newsletter won’t get you a flood of new business. You need to keep working at it. You need to give marketing a chance, because you need to get into the head of your prospective clients and really help them to understand how you can help them.
Here’s what someone thinks as he or she looks at each of the adverts you place in your local magazine or online:
- The first time a man looks at an advertisement, he doesn’t see it.
- The second time, he doesn’t notice it.
- The third time, he’s conscious of its existence.
- The fourth time, he faintly remembers having seen it before.
- The fifth time, he reads it.
- The sixth time, he turns up his nose at it.
- The seventh time, he reads it through and says, “Oh brother!”
- The eighth time, he says, “Here’s that confounded thing again!”
- The ninth time, he wonders if it amounts to anything.
- The tenth time, he asks his neighbour if he has tried it.
- The eleventh time, he wonders how the advertiser makes it pay.
- The twelfth time, he thinks it must be a good thing.
- The thirteenth time, he thinks perhaps it might be worth something.
- The fourteenth time, he remembers wanting such a thing a long time.
- The fifteenth time, he is tantalized because he can’t afford to buy it.
- The sixteenth time, he thinks he will buy it some day.
- The seventeenth time, he makes a mental note to buy it.
- The eighteenth time, he swears at his poverty.
- The nineteenth time, he counts his money carefully.
- The twentieth time he sees the advert, he buys what it is offering.
The list you’ve just read was written by Thomas Smith of London in 1885!
So you see, ad hoc marketing does not work – and it never has!
There are five weeks until Christmas is upon us, making the large companies going crazy with festive spirit.
In the past week I have been bombarded with TV adverts, radio broadcasts, Christmas posters and store-front decorations. Its easy to see how the big companies do it, using a huge budget, famous faces and instantly recognisable voices to get their names out there.
From the moment the latest John Lewis Christmas advert was shown on TV, people were talking about it all over social media. Twitter went crazy with #JohnLewisAdvert receiving 14,500 tweets. People from all over the UK started raving about it, causing floods of people to check out their website, YouTube account and visit their stores.
What can you do?
Make your website or social media pages as eye catching as possible, adding festive images or a change of colour scheme, just like shops do with their window displays. Entice people in. When people like what they see on your home page (or shop window) they are far more likely to want to delve in and see what else you offer.
Make sure the rest of the content on your website is just as interesting and festive as the home page. There’s no point in enticing people in, with bright lights and sparkle, if the inside of your shop is dull and boring. Keep your content up to date and make sure to keep the festive feel flowing throughout your site.
This is very important this time of year, with people waiting by their letter boxes, for news and letters from family members. Take this opportunity to send hand written Christmas cards. Make your mail “lumpy” add Christmas inspired branded stationary – I’d be much more excited to open a letter if I could feel a free gift inside.
I received a sample box from Whiney Woods with a fantastic selection of pop up business cards, collapse-able card pen holders, Christmas decorations covered with their logo and creative brochures – all emblazoned with festive decoration. Check them out for some brilliant ideas.
Of course without a million pound budget you can’t create a fantastic TV advert, with a chart topping star singing your jingle. However, with some careful thought and some clever planning you can spread the festive cheer from your business. When people see you aren’t the ordinary black and white business, like the other thousands out there, they will pay you more attention and visit your site or pick up the phone.
If you have any other festive marketing ideas or ways to drive business during the Christmas period let me know.