Virtually Anything

Archive for June, 2008

How Are You Keeping Your Clients Happy?

Posted by collinsadmin on June 10, 2008

Recently, I had to drop a service that I have had for 5 years. The main reason was they didn’t have all the features that I needed and I found something a bit cheaper that has the features I wanted.

Once I contacted the company to cancel my service, I received two phone calls from them offering a free month service as well as some other features. I know this is how corporate America works; the question is why? Had they offered me those same incentives while I was a client, I would have been more apt to deal with the inconveniences and the slightly higher price, but they didn’t. They waited until I canceled my subscription.

More and more, corporate America is more interested in getting rich than the needs and wants of their clients. They are forgetting about the clients that made their pocketbooks as fat as they are today. For instance, look at the gas prices. We all know the prices are high and it is hurting the little guy, while the oil companies are making record profits (but I digress).

As a small business owner, we have to make sure that we are keeping our clients happy. I’m not saying to go out and decrease your profits by offering free services constantly, but maybe send them a thank you card with a gift card in it for a local restaurant, offer a discount on their next month invoice, something just to let them know that you care about them and their needs and wants. Do this at other times besides Christmas. Your clients will really appreciate the fact that you are thinking of them and you appreciate them.

If you don’t have the finances at the time to do this type of thing, contact them once every six months or so and ask them if they are happy with your service and if there is anything that they are unhappy with. Sure, this might be tough to hear at times but your clients will appreciate the fact that you value their input and you value their business so much that you are willing to get their opinion. Also, if anything that they are unhappy with is something that you can fix or change without costing a fortune, do it. They will appreciate it.

Some customer service follow-ups can be automated. Look over your website, and see what it can be doing to help keep your customers happy – from providing easily accessible support, to automating customer awards, or collecting customer feedback.

Make sure that if you are in a business where service or product fees decline over time, that you keep your older customers up with the current pricing. Nothing is more distressing to them than to look at your website and realize that you are offering a higher service for a lower price to new customers, while the existing customer service package has not changed. Customer incentives need not be expensive to work – they just need to be meaningful and sincere. Some examples are:

 Create an award such as client of the year, client of the month, etc

Send Out Cards (www.sendoutcards.com)

Greeting Card templates to print your own

Ezine Director (www.ezinedirector.com)

SugarCRM (www.sugarcrm.com)

National Pens (www.nationalpen.com)

My Contact Form (www.mycontactform.com) for feedback from clients

Also, if you created/maintain your own website, do a client spotlight once a month or so. Have a link to their website, a write-up about them and their business, why you chose them etc. Just make sure that it is okay with your client first.

In conclusion, once you start making a comfortable living doing the business of your choice, don’t forget your current clients. If it wasn’t for them, you wouldn’t be where you are today.

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That Evil Thing Called Procrastination

Posted by collinsadmin on June 3, 2008

It’s time to be honest with yourself.  How many of you procrastinate? My guess is we all do it at one time or another, and for one reason or another.  I know I do it occasionally.  

I don’t procrastinate with my clients work because I love what I do and I know that my clients are counting on me to get it done quickly and efficiently. However, I do procrastinate my marketing a lot.  I always think of an excuse as to why I can’t do it.  Anywhere from I don’t know how all the way to, I need to do something else at the moment (non-marketing related).  It’s especially bad for me around the holidays (Christmas and New Years) and this time of the year because it is getting so nice out that I don’t want to be stuck behind a computer.  There are a few things that I have recently been doing to try and get past the procrastination and I am going to share them with you.

Find An Accountability Partner

This can be a friend, a colleague, a family member or anybody you know in general.  I just recently found myself an accountability partner, she happens to be a great friend as well as a colleague.  I tried to have my husband do it but he’s too laid back and because he is my spouse, I would just get annoyed and then pout for a little bit (who knew at 31 yrs old I would still be pouting).  Anyways, the accountability partner that I found is somebody whom I respect a great deal and I know that she will give me that extra kick in the pants when I need it.  Basically, I email her a list of my goals for the week and she tells me if she thinks they are reasonable and then she may brainstorm with me.  Then on the following Monday, I email her a list of my accomplishments and my new set of goals and if I didn’t get something done, she will gently but assertively prod me to get it done.  So far I think it is a good thing (after all I am writing a blog post, which was a goal for this week).

Review Your Business Plan

Pull out that 20 page business plan that has been sitting in your desk just collecting dust.  Take a look at what you wanted to accomplish and where you wanted to be at this time when you wrote the business plan. Make some changes if you feel your goals have changed.  If there are things in that business plan that you wish you had accomplished by now, focus on them and you will feel re-energized.

Understand Why You Procrastinate

 This is also a good time to sit back and think about why you are procrastinating.  Is it because you hate it, because you’re afraid of it, because it is so nice outside, or because your mind is wondering? If you are afraid of it, that is where the accountability partner can come in, not only do they hold you accountable but they can also help you get past your fears by just talking about them. If it’s because it’s nice outside, take a quick walk or if you have a laptop, go sit outside and do the work from there.  If it’s because your mind is wondering, you must realize that whatever your mind is wondering to whether it be vacation, time with friends, etc, if you don’t get the work done sitting in front of you, you won’t be able to enjoy the time you have doing those things because you will be stressing about work that didn’t get done.  If it’s because you hate doing the thing in front of you, outsource it.  If it’s marketing, outsource it.  If it’s designing your website, outsource it.  If it’s administrative, outsource it.  If it doesn’t have anything to do with business but it’s personal, like cleaning the house, hire a housekeeper.  If it’s cooking dinner, go out to eat.  There are a number of ways that you can handle things that you don’t like, just use your imagination.

We have all been there when it comes to running a business.  We procrastinate, we lose motivation, etc. We are all really gung ho when the entrepreneurial bug bites us but then we realize it’s not as easy to run a business as they portray it on the internet and even on TV but once we stop procrastinating and start doing, we will reap the rewards of being a business owner.

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