So you want your website to make you look big. More power to you. But the business experts I talked to recently say small is cool with customers, too.
Small businesses, they say, have a personality, flavour and sensibility that big businesses can’t match. And when it comes to what you put on your website, they urge: Don’t be afraid to tout your smallness. Small businesses can have more fun with their sites. A small-business site needs to include something that reflects the creativity and personality of its owner.
As a general concept, research is the process of gathering information to learn about something that is not fully known. Nearly everyone engages in some form of research.
From the highly trained geologist investigating newly discovered earthquake faults, to the author of best selling spy novels gaining insight into new surveillance techniques, to the model train hobbyist spending hours hunting down the manufacturer of an old electric engine, each is driven by the quest for information.
Operational margins are narrowing; leaving business owners constantly looking for ways to reduce business running costs and increase profits.
Here are simple things you should do to reduce your business expenses and increase revenue without affecting productivity or quality.
Review Standard Operating Procedures
If a business has been in operation for several years, it is possible that some standard operating procedures have become obsolete or less efficient. It is important to re-evaluate operational processes from the bottom to the top, and make changes like trimming unnecessary steps that were needed before but are not anymore, or making new changes to labour functions.
Building a brand is about building a relationship with your customers. For this relationship to be long-lasting, it has to be based on something meaningful. That comes when a brand satisfies a real need, either better or in a different way to any other brand available.
Understanding customers is the key to giving them good service. To give good customer care you must deliver what you promise. But great customer care involves getting to know your customers so well that you can anticipate their needs and exceed their expectations.
To understand your customers well, you need to be attentive to them whenever you are in contact with them. The potential rewards are great: you can increase customer loyalty and bring in new business through positive word-of-mouth recommendation.
Know the competition. Find out who your competitors are, what they are offering and what their unique selling point (USP) is. This will identify the areas you need to compete in, as well as giving you a platform for differentiating yourself.
Know your customers. Customer expectations can change dramatically when economic conditions are unstable. Find out what matters to your customers now – is it lower price, more flexible service, the latest products? Revise your sales and marketing strategy accordingly.
Good customer service goes a long way in business; a happy customer is a customer who will recommend you to other shoppers, a returning customer,…. But so many companies just can’t get this right. They’re either putting their needs ahead of their customers’ or too wrapped up in finding new customers that existing ones become expendable.
I’ve had my fair share of experiences with bad customer service. Here are some horror stories… and what you can learn from them:
I’ve recently bought 30 books from a man who started the negotiation with “I do not negotiate.” True story. It wasn’t so much that he didn’t want to give a discount for buying multiple items, but what was most frustrating was his attitude in general. It didn’t matter how much I was spending, or how pleasant I was trying to be, he does “not negotiate” (or he just woke up on the wrong side of the bed) and nothing was going to change that.
Do you know if your customers are happy? If not, you should.
It’s imperative that you fulfil your customer pillars of delight. Otherwise, you might lose customers to your competitors. 48% of customers who had a negative experience told 10 or more people.
Unfortunately, more of your customers are likely to talk about your poor customer service or a bad experience compared to those individuals that love your company.
Your customers are your biggest assets. Don’t give them a reason to leave. Customer loyalty should be your ultimate goal, but it cannot be accomplished if they aren’t happy.
Raising prices is never an easy thing to do. Despite most people understanding that prices have to be increased on a lot of items, from fuel and food to insurance and utilities, it remains a delicate task.
Here are a few tips on how to do it in a way that puts your company in a better financial position and not a worse one caused by an exodus of irritated customers.
Identify where your prices need to go
Once you’ve established the exact percentage of your price rises, there are two trains of thought: phase them in with smaller increments over a period of time or institute one larger price increase in one fell swoop. There are pros and cons to both methods.
Culture is crucial when it comes to understanding the needs and behaviours of an individual. Throughout his existence, an individual will be influenced by his family, his friends, his cultural environment or society that will “teach” him values, preferences as well as common behaviours to their own culture.
For a brand, it is important to understand and take into account the cultural factors inherent to each market or to each situation in order to adapt its product and its marketing strategy. As these will play a role in the perception, habits, behaviour or expectations of consumers.
A recent study revealed that 26% of respondents would stop buying from a company if they were not happy with the delivery firm used. Losing business over a problem which is not caused by you is certainly the worst way for it to happen.
We found that most online shops use more than one delivery firm – but none of them offer customers a choice over which is used.
With a third of online shopping problems relating to delivery, this seems to be the weak link in the web retail boom. It means customers who have had a bad experience with a particular delivery firm are left pretty powerless if they want to avoid using them again.
Social media has paved the way for companies to get closer to their customers. And while this has proven to be advantageous, it can also be disastrous if you do not know how to properly deal with angry customers who vent their ire, frustration and disappointment in social media.
Word of mouth still is the best marketing method, and whereas before any bad feedback or complaint from your customers may have gone no further than a conversation between friends or through snail mail, nowadays every complaint, valid or not, is available for the world to see.
Sometimes, bad publicity is inevitable. Even when you and your organisation behave responsibly, you always run the small risk of an unexpected PR disaster. In the information age, bad publicity can reach the masses before you can even mount a defense.
The only thing worse than having your image tarnished in the public light after you’ve done everything within your power to protect yourself is to find out you’re the one who caused the disaster. For every rogue employee saying something stupid to the media, there’s a poor senior-level decision being made.
What to do when your business gets bad publicity
Respond quickly, honestly and decisively. Don’t get defensive. If you are in the wrong, it’s vital to own up and apologise. Never say “no comment” – it sends the message that you are in the wrong but feel no remorse – and the press may keep digging for dirt. Face up to the situation and you can begin to restore the reputation of your business.