Printed Pens and Press Releases: Marketing on a Budget

Multi-million marketing budgets probably won’t do a business any harm, but for a small business which is just finding its feet it’s completely unnecessary. There’s plenty of ways of making your modest budget go that bit further, to maximize your potential revenue and ensure that you’re not getting lost in a sea of competitors.

What you need is big budget results on a small budget.

If it works, stick to it

Trial and error isn’t always advisable when it comes to business, but with marketing it often is. Trying lots of different techniques on a small scale will help you clarify which methods work best for your particular industry. Usually these will vary from business to business, but there are lots of more general concepts which can be used in all sorts of industries.

Make sure you inquire how your leads have come across your business. This will help you identify whether your printed pens or your website is working hardest for you. There’s no need to continually trial new, fad marketing styles. These will usually only work for a very short time (and by the time you’ve heard about it, it could well already have run its course).

What we’re saying is don’t write off the traditional physical marketing techniques like brochures and printed pens.

Market for your business

It might sound obvious, but what works for huge brands categorically will not work for your small cafĂ© in the center of Leeds. Big brands can get away with all sorts that won’t work from small and local businesses.

Keep things simple, and always keep your customers at the front of your mind. Don’t use language which they won’t understand, or try and over-complicate your product or service. Simple, easy to understand concepts sell best because people don’t feel as if you’re trying to manipulate or trick them with language.

If you have several products, produce a brochure for each to keep things very simple.

Promotional marketing

When you attend trade shows or simply when you’re signing contracts, a printed pen is great to have on hand. These are useful resources which all of us will use at least once a day. It means that your key information will always be on hand. If nothing else you should include your logo, your website address, and your telephone number.

Printed pens are incredible value for money, as they have such longevity.

Office Design for Improving Productivity

Sometimes, adding chalkboards and whiteboards can seem handy, but there is more than you can do to improve your office space. Here are just a few office design tips to help improve your overall productivity.

1. Idea Storage

One of the worst things that can happen for creative people is that they have a great idea but do not have anywhere to write it down, and they lose it. There is also the chance that you will end up doing a huge amount of research on a topic that you are not going to use. Whiteboards and notebooks are a great option for writing your ideas down, so you can continue to work on your main task for the day.

2. Remove the Clutter

It is important that you are regularly cleaning your office. Clutter comes from your creative mind working, but it can make focusing and getting your work done difficult. You should make sure that you have enough storage for all your items and that you have access to your most used objects.

3. Bring in Some Nature

We are biological creatures, so we should be spending some amount of time outside every single day. However, being inside all the time has a huge effect on our work. While it would be nice to spend a lot of time outside, for most jobs, this is not really possible. If you cannot take your work outside, why not bring nature to you? Try opening the shades and letting fresh air. This could help you feel more energized and help you get more done. Plants can also be a great option to add to your office, you just have to remember to water it.

4. Table and Chairs

We have all experienced having to sit at a table and having to consistently having to readjust to be comfortable, so we could focus on our work. This is why you should take the time to find a desk and chair that both fits your body and the way that you sit. This can take some adjusting to if you are working on an office where you do not have control over when items are ordered. If you are working at home, try to sit in chairs that you are thinking about buying for around 30 minutes to find out if they are comfortable for you.

Why to Choose a Lead Generation Service?

Lead generation is a critical component of online sales and a proven strategy for an organization’s profitability.

Firms generate around 60% of more sales with the process of online lead generation than traditional methods of marketing.

A reputed service provider offers a wide range of online marketing services, including search engine optimization, paid search, email marketing, social media, telemarketing and traditional mailing. There are three main parameters to consider while planning an online sales strategy for an organization.

Tracking

Tracking the performance of a lead is essential to map its progress towards making a sale. After the initial contact with a potential lead, service providers track its performance in order to instigate to turn it into a buyer and help in achieving the sales target of an organization.

Outsourcing firms empower entrepreneurs to track a lead’s behavior, for instance, how likely they are to buy from an enterprise or what kind of response do they give to sales professionals during follow-ups. Service providers increase the chances of making a sale by mailing or calling the leads just when they need it.

Reporting

Enterprises that want to outsource an online marketing service rather than doing it in-house, can take the help of service providers. These vendors do a proper analysis and provide reports of the progress of a marketing or sales campaign to an organization. This helps in exploring the strengths and improvement areas of engaging prospective customers online.

Help & Support

Organizations strive to make productive sales. By implementing effective marketing techniques entrepreneurs can do so efficiently. With a quality sales mechanism, service providers bring new customers on-board, while entrepreneurs focus on serving existing customers better.

Some of the popular ways of generating leads today are via:

  1. Banner Ads
  2. Pay-per-Click (PPC) campaigns
  3. Viral videos

Out of all, although PPC ads might generate immediate results, though, organizations need to spend continuous money on this to fetch desired results. Apart from the ongoing expenses, the quality of leads generated from PPC tends to be lower than those generated from other organic channels.

There are plenty of people who want to buy what enterprises are selling. The problem is finding those customers and letting them know about the service offerings of an enterprise.

A good marketing service helps an entrepreneur to connect with its potential customers in order to make maximum sales. Most marketers target people who are already thinking of buying a product or a service. This is done by using online research and marketing techniques.

Being one of the most popular ways of online marketing, lead generation enables businesses to:

  • Regulate pricing on a per lead basis
  • Select the product or service entrepreneurs wish to offer to its prospects
  • Choose the geographical area which interests an organization
  • Control the number of leads an organization wants to receive per month (it helps in budgeting)

A Perfect Sales Training Coach

Even though there isn’t any formal education required to be a bigwig in sales, it is true that most of the people are involved in selling products and services. One can find several people performing sales tasks and each and every one of them are trying to complete with one another. In order to stand a class apart from others, it is important to acquire some excellent selling skills, determination and the perfect mindset. It is very important to move along with the change, as the environment keep on changing. So, it is essential to think out of the box, as it helps to stay ahead of the business rivals. So, it is essential to stay equipped with some of the effective sales tips by availing the services of a sales coach. Only those who are well trained to perform such tasks must perform the task of sales. This task should be performed by the experts in sales training. When you are in search of an expert, you must know that there are several speakers across the globe who claims to be the sales coach. However, make sure that you choose a perfect person offering useful sales tips programs to enjoy the maximum output. You must consider certain aspects while selecting the perfect sales training coach to save your money and time.

About Choosing the Right Sales Training Coach
It is important to consider the right kind of issues prevailing in your business to get the perfect solution immediately. There might be many areas in your business that require improvement. Generally, your sales managers would need you to enhance the performance of their team. So, it needs you to redefine the current sales process and the way through which it is executed. So, make sure that you hire the services of a best sales training coach who can improve the sales strategies as well as the selling skills of your workforce.

Top qualities of a sales training coach
The sales training coach whom you are choosing must have the following qualities to prove that he is a sales pro.
1 Highly experienced: The sales training coach whom you approach must be the one who has immense years of experience to handle the sales process. Observe the training coach’s path of career and check his achievements in the career timeline. Choose the person who has a lot of professional experience is the proof that this sales coach is reliable and credible.
2 Interaction with sales team: The expert sales training coach must know the secret of winning the trust of your sales team. He should have handled several sales teams in his career and must be able to interact with them in a positive fashion. This quality of a coach can help your sales build the trust on the tips for selling he teaches them.
3 Should provide intelligent coaching: The sales coach must hold intellectual sales training sessions that have activities which can kindle the sales skills of your work team. The training sessions or coaching classes that the coach conducts should be related to the specific industry of your business to improve the sales wing of your business. The sales coaching should be aimed at helping your work team members become experts in their related field.

The sales training program that the coach offers should have several components that are essential for the growth of the organization. So, it is important for you to avail the services of a sales coach like. We to give your sales team the much needed push.

Expand Your Brand Using Other People’s Money by Using Franchisor Strategies

Back many years ago, I met a fellow franchisor, he’d built a nice company with 250 franchisees which operated Kiosks in shopping malls – you know those carts in malls that sell various wares. What he did was make each Kiosk its own business, at first as “independent contractors” but later as Franchisees due to the Franchise Law rules. Each franchisee had to sign a two-year franchise agreement with non-automatic renewal, where the Franchisor could merely take over the business, location, as he already had the lease-space agreement with the malls, including the corporations that owned many malls around the country.

After two years, he stopped renewing franchise agreements, took control of all those little businesses, and then sold the whole thing and retired a very wealthy man. Unfortunately, many of the independent contractors, turned into Franchisees were forced out after building up their businesses and providing a substantial amount of goodwill. The franchisor’s concept was built by the blood, sweat and tears of all those individuals, who did make decent money in the meantime, but were then basically terminated when their franchise agreement term ended.

Recently, there is an interesting company in the “Handy Man” sector which has a franchise agreement that states it may unilaterally buy back the franchisee’s business at any time after 2-years of operating. In the Franchisor’s option to purchase there is a mathematical formula for valuation of the Franchisee’s business that negate the value of any “goodwill” and allows the Franchisee to choose if he will see at “Fair Market Value” of assets (used equipment, office furniture) or twice the earnings before interest, taxes, and amortization (EBITA).

Why would a Franchise Buyer buy a franchise like that? I suppose there might be a few situations where it makes sense for instance, the Franchisee just needs a couple of years of income and believes they can build up a good “book” of business, and if it starts to go South, the Franchisor may buy him/her out and they can move on, less risk? But what if the Franchisor chooses not to buy and the business fails? What if the business succeeds wildly and the Franchisee is forced to sell-out a thriving and growing business?

If you think about it, it is a brilliant strategy for a Franchisor, have others build your business, take all the risks, and if they succeed, you terminate their franchise agreement instead of renewal, and if they fail, you simply let them fail, then sell that territory to a new franchisee, until one succeeds and then you just keep winning and building on the backs of others. As a franchisee buyer it may be wise to recognize such strategies and be weary of them, unless it serves your temporary purpose of a short term business and solid temporary cash flow based on your abilities and the Franchisor’s model. Think on this.

Quality Furniture

Events are synonymous with real-world marketing for businesses across industry verticals. They are being leveraged by brands small and big alike to reach out to customers and convey their messages. A growing number of firms trust events to build their base, expand their horizon and tap into the potential in the market. Quite clearly, a lot is at stake when a business decides to host an event and penetrate the market deep. Right from launching a new product or service to enhancing the goodwill of the existing resources, businesses know where to turn to in the need of hours.

With so much benefit to take, it’s natural to expect your event to be successful so that all goals are realized with ease. For that, an expert agency will be needed familiar with every aspect of event, including from planning to strategics to hosting to customer servicing. The job at hand is not that easy for the agency as well as it has to take care of a lot of aspects to ensure success for the planned event. Among other things, it has to make sure that the brand messages are conveyed in the way they should be.

Further, a good event is one that seamlessly merges the concepts of aesthetics and functionality in true sense. And this is where furniture do have a role to play as they often add a great deal of value to any occasion. Their market is stuffed with inventive, high quality event furniture which can really make a big impression on your product launch party or customer get-together occasion. Right from chairs, sofa seating, stools, benches, poseur tables, dining tables, bars and plinths, your event can benefit from a wide range of furniture and surely stand out from the crowd.

Further, event planners know how to place furniture at right places and positions to have maximum impact out of them. They add a creative approach to occasion and make guests and potential customers impressed in true sense. It’s also a cost-effective approach to not buy all of those furniture and rather hire them and add great value to the whole affair. Whether classic touch or contemporary styles, you can select what suits your interests and events the best and win maximum attention out there. After all, the purpose is to create a vibrant atmosphere and let the brand benefit in more ways than one.

In overall, furniture hire is a very helpful and innovative concept to benefit from as make the event a big success. It has the potential to enrich your business even without asking for resources to be put at used. So, your business can benefit from furniture by adding value to the event for brand building efforts. For that, you have to find a right agency with years of experience in the domain and you will also need a company that rents out furniture. This is how your event can become as successful and impact as you’d expect it to be in a real sense.

Constitutes Ethical Company

I wanted to explore the meaning behind the word ‘ethical’ in this day and age, and how some companies manage to slip through the net using marketing tactics.

I have recently read articles praising companies who are considered the most ethical – there is a list of these illustrious and successful business ventures of 2013, 2014 etc. – and they are set up as the benchmark for the rest of us. I opened the list in anticipation of seeing estimable companies mentioned, but was horrified to see a number of corporations on the list who are known to create products that compromise health or are involved in deforestation or child labor – to name but a few crimes against humanity.

Even if a company is taking steps to become more ethical, surely they shouldn’t be allowed on such a list until they have some substantial history in ethical practice. These questions immediately came to mind – “who on earth compiles these lists and what is their agenda?” “Are they genuinely ignorant of the practices of these companies, or is profit the only criteria?” Or even worse – “Is ethical practice now being judged by the 80/20 rule?”

So, what is considered an ethical company in this day and age?

Employment

Is it all about how a company treats their employees? If the people that work for them are treated well, getting decent salaries and benefits – does that make the company ethical?

If their employees have protective clothing while they are spraying the planet with toxic chemicals – does that make the company ethical because it is looking after its own?

If employees are given the benefit of cheap food and clothing in the form of company discounts, is the company ethical if the food is the end product of compromised ingredients and tortured animals?

If job opportunities and helping the economy is stated as being a valid reason for companies to start business ventures that poison the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat, I have to ask – who benefits?

Marketing

Or maybe being seen as ethical is all about a brilliant marketing campaign. A campaign which makes the general public feel all warm and fuzzy – full of cute animals, young children or a celebrity or two – or maybe all of the above if the company has unlimited finance to throw at it. We are presented with an emotional roller coaster ride which dulls the senses and convinces people of its sincerity and authenticity, because it’s just so darn pretty!

For example, the food and drink industries are money machines that can employ the most ingenious and brilliant of marketers who are capable of blindsiding the uninformed into believing every word they say. A lot of them churn out addictive products which lack nutrition and create severe health problems through the addition of ingredients which kill brain cells, and generally attack the organs of the body. However, that seems to be acceptable because their marketing campaigns bring people together in happy food and drink related ways, and their packaging is so bright and colorful and the wording so reassuring – natural, farm fresh – got to be true, yes?

It comes to mind that some of the most successful confidence tricksters and serial killers come in a very pleasing physical package. It is because they are good looking that they are able to get close to their victims, but beautiful on the outside doesn’t necessarily mean beautiful on the inside. I think this rule applies to companies and their marketing campaigns as well.

We are surrounded by marketing images which promote ‘beauty’! These images not only corrupt and destroy people’s self-confidence, but they also set the precedence that beauty is best. Therefore, in our subconscious we link beauty to all that is good, and we dismiss all that is not beautiful, according to the current standards set by the media and marketing industry.

I lived in the Algarve, Portugal for a couple of years and while I was there I knew people who had orange trees on their land. They were the sweetest oranges I’d ever tasted in my life, yet none of those oranges would have reached supermarket shelves. The reason why is that they were all ‘ugly’ fruit – they weren’t tampered with in order to make them visually pleasing. I was told by the owner of the orange grove that the ugly fruit were the sweetest, and that is something I think is worth remembering, because it opens our minds and we won’t so easily be seduced by beauty if we know there is a viable alternative.

Charitable Donations

If a cosmetics company donates money to eradicate skin cancer they have to be ethical, right? People will think that they are wonderful and more readily buy their products. However, what if that same company includes ingredients in its products which can cause cancer – aren’t they just creating a market for themselves? It bears thinking about!

If a food or drink company gives donations to schools in the form of IT or sports equipment etc., is it really an altruistic act? They often get returns in the form of advertising on the premises and massive hikes in sales as the word spreads about their good deeds. Not forgetting that they are creating a new generation of people who will be addicted to their products.

Charitable donations also need to be a win/win situation. The people needing help are no lesser beings than the people giving it, just because they don’t have financial wealth. They shouldn’t be exploited in the name of profit.

I think we need to remember that the companies that give lots of money to charity are usually companies that can easily afford it. It doesn’t hurt them at all, in fact it often benefits them – they don’t feel the pinch. There are many companies that give money open-heartedly and genuinely help everyone they touch, and there are those that give money in order to gain goodwill and a rise in sales. It is our job to find out which is which.

So what percentage between donations and damage constitutes ethical by today’s standards? Is it 25%/75% or does it need to be 50%/50%? Who makes these decisions and what is their agenda? It doesn’t seem to be the health and well being of the planet, that’s for sure.

Conclusion

I suggest that before we decide that a company is ethical we look deeply into the face of that company, look into its eyes and see its soul. Remember that a beautiful face is no indicator of a beautiful soul – the eyes are the windows of the soul and by looking deeply into them you will be able to discern whether it’s transparent or deceptive.

My father was a magician, a member of the Inner Magic Circle, and when I was growing up I used to watch him practice. He told me to always watch the hand that seemed to be doing nothing – and that has taught me a valuable life lesson. So when a company or institution of any sort puts forth a spectacular display which draws my attention, I drag my eyes away from where the lights are shining and look into the shadows to see what they are hiding, what is it they don’t want me to see? If after careful scrutiny and research I find there is nothing being hidden, then I deem that company ethical and sit back and enjoy the show!

I am not for one minute telling anyone what to think, or what to do. What I humbly suggest is that everyone looks carefully at the decisions they make, and the companies they support by either using their services or buying their products. Then each of us will know that we aren’t being led by the nose into compromising our own set of values and what we personally believe in.

The bottom line is that if people, animals and the planet are being negatively impacted by a company’s products or services, that company is not ethical – no matter how much they give to charity, or how many heart-warming marketing campaigns they launch. They are shirking their responsibility towards all living things in the name of profit. That is the truth!

I would love to hear your comments and what the word ‘ethical’ means to you personally.

Sue is the Founder of Soulfully Connecting. The idea behind Soulfully Connecting is to demonstrate that there are other ways of living which can heal the earth, the animal kingdom and ourselves. She is passionate about people having freedom of choice, which is only possible when they know about all the options.

Plans for Your Business Venture

Whatever the health and condition of your business venture, it will benefit from planning. Business planning of all types provides a road-map that guides the leadership team to successfully achieve business goals.

I’ve taught business plan writing for more than 10 years and I’ve also developed a one-day business plan writing workshop. As I see it, the process of business planning gives company leaders opportunities to see the big picture and remove “magical thinking” from the process. Business planning first reveals if the proposed goals are potentially viable and second, requires that we devise strategies that will make them a reality.

What your team wants to achieve will shape the plan that is written. For example, if the mission is to launch a start-up that will require significant outside investment, then the plan will include detailed financial projections. Additionally, marketing strategies that delve into customer acquisition, the competitive landscape, the logistics of the product or service launch, messaging and sales distribution, along with operational aspects such as manufacturing, staffing and quality control, must be thoroughly detailed.

Solopreneur consultants will focus heavily on marketing, in particular defining the target clients and client acquisition; providing services for which there is adequate demand; and appropriate pricing. Financial planning will focus on allocating the budget to support promotional strategies and marketing campaigns.

Whether the plan will be used to launch a big venture and attract outside investment money or open a boutique-style consulting service, include the following elements:

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Present the business mission statement here. Include as well the date the business was formed; the leadership team and other key management personnel; the credentials or experience that make you and the leadership team uniquely qualified to launch and successfully run the venture; the business legal structure (LLC, Sole Proprietor, or Corporation); the products and services; one or two key competitive advantages; a concise overview of sales projections; and the amount of capital needed if recruiting investors or obtaining bank financing is a goal.

BUSINESS DESCRIPTION

It’s traditional to present a brief description of your industry and its outlook, nationally and regionally. Give the details of your products and services and briefly discuss how they’ll be used by target customers. Identify whether the venture is B2B, B2C, or B2G. If the organization holds a patent, review the competitive advantages that it will convey. Have there been any technological advances that will help or hinder the enterprise? Divulge the details here.

MARKETING

This element is a big tent that encompasses sales, product or service distribution, competitors, advertising, social media, PR, networking, branding, customer acquisition and pricing. Plans written for a small organization will spotlight the role of marketing because for Solopreneurs, success hinges on identifying and reaching paying clients, as well as pricing the services advantageously.

FINANCE

Whether you’re wealthy enough to self-finance or the venture is small and not especially demanding of capital investment, the leadership team nevertheless needs to know with a reasonable degree of certainty how much money will be required to achieve important goals.

The plan might be written to support financing for the acquisition of new office space, additional staffing, or manufacturing equipment. Bank loans typically require a business plan to demonstrate how the investment money would be used and how the organization will generate funds for loan repayment.

If the goal is to attract investors, they’ll need to be convinced by the projected sales revenue figures (as will the bank), so they’ll know when their investment will be repaid and when to expect profits if they are made co-owners of the business. A break-even analysis, projected income statement, projected cash-flow statement and projected balance sheet are required by those who will need significant money.

OPERATIONS

How will day-to-day business processes function? Tell it here, along with providing the organizational chart, the business location, the method of producing that which you sell (if you are, for example, a freelance book editor or graphic designer, you produce the service yourself), your usual sub-contractors (if you are a special events organizer, who are your preferred caterer, florist and limo service?) and quality control methods. This element is about logistics.

The Secret of Successful Negotiation

Your best work is done before you get to the negotiation table.

The area of negotiation that most affects the outcome is the part you have most control over – the preparation. Research has shown that the best prepared negotiator is the one most likely to get the best outcome.

Preparation that gives you a head start on your opponent can be achieved by anyone willing to spend the time. Here’s nine factors you should prepare.

1. Know the ‘pie’ – fixed or variable

‘Fixed pie’ negotiations are those where the only way I can get a better outcome is to get you to accept a lesser outcome. These never result in a win-win outcome. ‘Growing the pie’ negotiations include variables that creative negotiators use to create high perceived value for the other side at little cost to them. Thinking creatively can even allow you to turn a fixed pie into a variable one. Perhaps the asset (a motor vehicle) is fixed, but you could add variables like payment terms, advanced servicing. The salary might be fixed, but flexibility of hours could add significant value for some candidates.

2. Know the impact

Will the outcome of this negotiation impact on any other current or possible future negotiations with the other party? You don’t want to compromise any negotiations going on now or set precedents that might disadvantage you at some time in the future.

3. Know which side is under the most time pressure

The side under the most time pressure has the greatest incentive to be flexible and may be prepared to give more as the deadline gets closer. If the other side is under the most pressure, your advantage grows daily. If the time pressure is on you, be aware this is a weakness and that if the other side becomes aware of it they will use it.

4. Know the relationship

Is this a one-off negotiation or are there likely to be future dealings? Is the relationship important to you? If the answer is yes, is it important enough for you to be more generous with your offer(s)? If the answer is no, will this change your approach and tactics?

5. Know the other side

Is their negotiation style primarily competitive or cooperative? How likely are they to try to bluff? If you haven’t negotiated with them before, is there someone else you know who has that you can talk to? Is there anything you can find out about them that they might not expect you to know? Anything you can do to compromise their confidence in their preparation is a useful tactical tool.

6. Know what they know

Research yourself. Find out what they know about you. Don’t let them spring any surprises on you.

7. Know some accepted authorities

Facts and figures are so often misrepresented in negotiations, nobody takes the other side’s word. Try to find some authorities that you will both accept as reference points.

8. Know your ‘negotiable’

Build a list of all the negotiating issues you are prepared to bring to the table. Priorities them. Try to build a similar prioritized list for the other side. Issues which appear lower on your list but higher on theirs are the ones that you will get most value for when bargaining. Determine what will be your starting point and your bottom limit. Be as precise as you can.

If you cannot priorities a list for the other side in your preparation, try to determine their priorities in your preamble discussion with them before you start putting offers on the table. If appropriate, try to have a pre-negotiation discussion with them where no one would be making any commitments; you would just be getting to understand each other better to help you create the highest-value offers.

9. Know your alternatives

The side who is most able to walk away from a negotiation will negotiate strongest. You can only do this if you have an equivalent alternative to negotiate with. If you don’t, and this party is your best or only option, then do you have a Plan B to offer them if all else fails?

All the latest studies have shown that preparation and planning are the keys to success in negotiation. Sides that prepare and know precisely their goals in a negation always do better than those who go in ‘hoping for the best’. Those who set specific timelines do better than those who are more flexible. Many things happen in a negotiation that you don’t have control over; but your preparation is not one of them. Everyone is busy; but using that as an excuse is a mistake. Walk in best prepared – and walk out most satisfied.

Customer Service Can Makes a Company Great

What makes a company great, makes it stand out head and shoulders above the rest; has not only loyal but repeat customers who go back time and time again?

Is it the size of the company – bigger is always better?

Is it the amount of profits they make – well they must be good if they are making all that money – right?

Is it maybe they are the only business which has a particular item – hardly.

Or is their marketing excelling, taking full advantage of ALL media including online, social, TV and broadsheets as well as radio and tabloids.

What is their secret?

The truth is there is no secret, it all boils down to one thing – no matter size, profits, products, services or marketing plan, if you don’t have this one thing you may as well shut up shop and go home – and that one thing is Customer Service.

Don’t get me wrong the other things do help in some small way but Customer Service is King.

It should be natural and not forced. How annoying did “Have a nice day” become? It was novel at first but…

So how do you achieve great Customer Service?

Try following these dos and don’ts as guidelines:-

Do smile when talking – seems strange I know but it works, try it and see the difference.

Do listen and hear what your Customer is saying but don’t sit in silence use audible nods and empathise then repeat to show you have been listening using expressions like “If I have heard you correctly… ,” or “If I may repeat to make sure I have understood you… ” Goes a long way and also informs customer that you have been listening.

Never use the expressions “You need to… ,” or “You have to… ” They neither have to nor need to do anything.

Do ask permission “Is it OK if I take some details?” “May I have your name?” “Can I take a message?” “Are you happy to give me…?”

Don’t swear, be rude or argue back, tempting as it maybe, wait till your are of the call/ customer has gone/can’t see you, if you must vent/rant.

Don’t take it home, and never carry it over to the next customer.

Do treat each customer individually and although you may think that they are Bat Crap Crazy/stupid or what they are contacting you about is trivial, always remember to them it is important.

Don’t take it personally, they are just wanting to rant at somebody and don’t know you, all they want is for someone to take responsibility, not pass them from pillar to post and to listen.

And finally always end on a positive note, even if it’s a simple thanks for your call.

Follow these guidelines and you will notice a difference, not just in your customers but also in your staff who will be happier in their work and less stressed and if they are less stressed then they are willing to go that extra mile.