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Customer Retention is Boring

customer retention

I recently signed up for a very expensive service from someone who positions himself as an expert, no, THE expert in his field.  I was given a lot of promises which made the large investment a no-brainer.

I have pretty high standards and, over the years, I have learned to lower them.  And lower them some more.  So, even with the hype, I wasn’t expecting everything which was offered to the degree it was positioned.

However, after a possible 20% delivery and 80% disappointment, and having given said-company ample time to catch up with themselves, I was told they were too busy to deal with it.  They had new customers to deal with.  New customers are EXCITING.  Problems are boring – or so they believe.  He is operating the customer churn and burn strategy.

This individual is pretty charismatic.  He is good at winning new business.  However, his reputation is being tarnished because he is good at customer attraction and very poor at customer retention.  Given that keeping a customer is less expensive than attracting a new customer.  And that there are only so many customers in the world, no matter how charismatic you are, looking at how to keep the ones you have is an important part of your business strategy.

Brand management and reputation management are key to this.  So, a couple of questions for you:

  1. Do you have a customer retention strategy?
  2. How effective is your customer retention?
  3. What would your customers say about you if you weren’t in the room?
  4. What would your customers say are your most redeeming qualities?
  5. What would your customers say is most frustrating in dealing with your company?

Here are some of the customer retention strategies I teach my clients:

  • Make sure your systems make it easy for them to do business with you
  • Offer only quality service and quality products
  • Have a quick turnaround on queries
  • Be easy to get hold of
  • Acknowledge every communication
  • Treat existing customers with as much care as you do prospects, if not more so
  • Under-promise and over-deliver – this on its own will set you apart from the competition
  • Stay in touch

Your customers will forgive you a lot of you care about them.

Tricia Woolfrey is an integrative business coach helping people like you and companies like yours perform at their best, so that you can be more profitable, with less stress and with your integrity intact.  Call 0845 130 0854 for a free telephone consultation.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2014

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A-Z of Business: X- X-Ray Vision – Know your Business Inside Out

Business performance

Your business results don’t reflect the effort you put in. Sound familiar?

If so, you are not alone.  Indeed, some of my clients have been working so hard that they are nearing burnout.  This is often because they are focusing on the wrong thing, which they believe to be the right thing.  This is why having a forensic view of your company – x-ray vision – helps you to focus on those factors which make the biggest difference to your success.  Working smart, not working hard is the difference which makes the difference.  Productivity, not activity.

For example, if you are spending a lot of time bringing in new business but haemorrhaging customers out the back door, your efforts will be as effective as attempting to fix a burst pipe with a sticking plaster.

Or perhaps you are spending your time bringing in new business that you don’t have the infrastructure to support?  Like building a house without it’s foundations.

Maybe your customer service is poor and you are busy sending out feedback forms when really the problem is that your hiring processes and training do not enforce your company value of customer satisfaction?

Or is your business booming but your customer’s aren’t paying their invoices?  This is where success leads to ruin.

So, x-ray vision on the essentials helps you work strategically – making the right decisions about how you spend your time and your money and what will be the best strategy to take your business forward.  The first step is to get yourself some key performance indicators.  These help you to measure your performance against target on areas you consider to be important, for example:

  • Turnover
  • Profit
  • Product revenues
  • Sales growth
  • Cost of sales
  • Costs
  • Performance against budget
  • Sales conversion ratio
  • New sales by marketing method
  • ROI (see individual blog about this)
  • Revenue by customer
  • Employee satisfaction
  • Employee performance
  • Revenue by employee
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Customer complaints
  • Customer complaints resolved
  • There are also various KPIs for:
    • Social media
    • Site engine optimisation
    • Call centre performance

Lies and statistics

A lot of clients view a nice big turnover as proof of their success and they just work very hard at increasing that number.  However, a forensic examination of the statistics will let them know whether there is also a healthy profit because if the ratio of profit to turnover is low, you are working hard for little reward.  It will help you look at what is creating the biggest profit and whether you need to make a loss on something to bring in profit on something else.  This is both an art and a science.  Also, if you are producing lots of nice big invoices but not getting paid because your credit control is not effective, that turnover is meaningless.

Here are my 5 steps to help you take control of your business with x-ray vision:

  1. Consider what KPIs you want in your business (the above are just a few examples)
  2. Regularly review performance against these
  3. Look at the relationship between them
  4. Decide what is causing the positive results and do more of those
  5. Determine what is causing negative results and take remedial action.  Make sure there will not be negative consequences elsewhere.

Remember that an x-ray shows you what is wrong structurally, it is up to you to find out the cause and to take appropriate action.

If you need help with any of this – it is hard doing it for yourself – do give me a call on 0845 130 0854.  I look forward to hearing from you!

© Tricia Woolfrey 2013

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: U – USP – Why You Need One

Unique Selling Point

Do you really need a Unique Selling Point?  What happens if you don’t have one?  Well, unless you are in an industry with no competitors then your USP is what will set you apart.  It will give your prospects a reason to go with you instead of someone else.

In a struggling economy, you need all the competitive advantage you can get.  And if you are looking for a job, you need that competitive edge too. 

So, why should someone buy your product?  It is no longer enough to say “we are the best”, you need to say how.  And it needs to be based on reality rather than an aspiration that you are working towards. 

There was a wonderful sign displayed which went like this:

“We offer three kinds of service – Good, Cheap or Fast.  You can pick any two.  Good and cheap won’t be fast.  Good and fast won’t be cheap.  Cheap and fast won’t be good.  ”

At the gym yesterday, my personal trainer said the best advice he was given is to always think of yourself as number two so that you would still strive to do better.  This reminded me of the Avis USP which is “We are number two – we try harder.”  What a great USP which succeeds in turning a negative into a massive positive.

Apple’s USP is to think differently – they are the company best known for their innovation, having broken many technological boundaries.  They can be relied upon to be innovative, fun and customer-focused.

If you are finding it difficult to identify your USP, go back to testimonials you have been given by your customers.  It is easy to forget these but hopefully you have kept a log of them.  Also, consider what your competitors are doing and what they are promising.  How are you different to them?  What are the problems you are solving for your customers?

Let’s take an example.  For an IT support company, their customers may suffer from not being terribly IT literate, having to wait a long time before an engineer can fix their problem, or their technology is stopping them from getting on with their work

Let’s look at the customers’problem, potential USPs and their corresponding straplines:

  1. Waiting a long time for an engineer
    • USP – getting their IT problems solved quickly
    • Strapline – Your IT Support within 24 hours or quicker
  2. Not very IT literate
    • USP – use jargon free communication so that the problem is easier to understand
    • Strapline – Taking the Jargon out of IT Support
  3. Technology stopping them from working
    • USP – getting you up and running quickly
    • Strapline –Helping you to work when your computer doesn’t
  4. Frustrated that every problem seems to mean a new computer
    • USP – providing the simplest, most cost effective solutions
    • Strapline – Simple Solutions to Complicated Problems

Whatever your USP, do make sure that you live and breathe it.  You don’t want your USP to be “tried and failed” – it should enhance your reputation, not undermine it. 

© Tricia Woolfrey 2013

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: EQ – The Difference Which Makes the Difference

Emotional Intelligence

In this A-Z of Business series, we have reached the letter Q.  Now, I could have talked about quotas, quoting or questions if I was being a purist.  But, if I look at the balance of what’s been written and what’s missing, I think that EQ (Emotional Intelligence) is far more important.  Anything which omits this key area of business success is lacking.  So I decided to break my own rule and hope that’s OK with you?

In case you haven’t come across this before you may be wondering why it’s called EQ when it refers to Emotional Intelligence (EI)?  The Q refers to “quotient” which is the amount of a specific quality or characteristic, in this case, emotional intelligence.  But, what does it mean?  It is the capacity for self-insight, for understanding and managing your emotions and having empathy for others’.  In this way you can better manage your relationships and your stress levels.

It is such an important skill that it is thought to be more important than IQ in helping to get you promoted, in creating sales and in building collaborative effort.  Research suggests that it accounts for around 90% of managerial success as opposed to IQ which only accounts for 20%.  Not that IQ is not important.  Of course, it is.  But you need both.  The ability to put your knowledge, your expertise, your skills into effect in the most  constructive way possible is said to be the difference which creates the successful business person whether you work for yourself of for an organisation.

So, ask yourself:

  • How well do you respond to setbacks?
  • How well do you understand people’s different motivations and behaviours?
  • Do you have a balanced view of your own strengths and weaknesses?
  • To what extent are you able to control your responses in situations which challenge you?
  • Are you good at building collaborative relationships?
  • Could you be described as someone who is level-headed, positive and flexible?
  • Do you inspire trust?
  • Do you manage conflict well (rather than avoid it)?
  • Are you self-motivated?
  • How good are you at bouncing back when things go wrong?

You can learn more HERE on our website.

Emotional intelligence is one of those concepts where you need a lot of it to know you have it.  So if your EQ isn’t as high as you think it is, it will almost certainly be inhibiting your progress.  To be sure what your level of EQ is, why not book an assessment?  It’s well worth it and can put you on track for success like nothing else.  Call me on 0845 130 0854.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2013

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: K – Knowledge – Your Competitive Edge?

It is estimated that 15% of success is from your technical skills whereas 85% is through gaining trust and respect.  So, what has knowledge to do with this?  Plenty, as it happens.  Knowledge covers the whole spectrum.  Good technical skills are, of course, important.  But not if the knowledge is out of date.  Technology is changing all the time – as are trends – and it is essential to keep abreast of what’s going on in your market place and in your profession.

Solicitors and doctors go through years of training in their profession before they are able to practice.  Yet, how much training have you had to run your own department, or your own business?  How much knowledge have you acquired to help you be successful?  Whether you are running a department or a business of your own, the knowledge you need to be effective is extremely broad and most people simply muddle through.  In the meantime, what happens to the trust and respect essential to 85% of your success?

The following table helps you to understand some of the fundamentals for trust and respect and the kind of knowledge you need for them:

TRUST AND RESPECT KNOW-HOW
Good people and rapport skills Influencing and leadership
Doing what you say you will do Planning and organising
Doing an excellent job Technical and delegation
Managing complaints effectively Problem solving and conflict management
Meeting your obligations Business acumen and resource management
Emotional intelligence Understanding of people and yourself and how to manage yourself and your relationships in times of stress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Business knowledge – such as sales, marketing, finance, operations –  is important whether you run your own business or manage a department as you need to see how everything fits together.  These will help you to exploit strengths, minimise weaknesses, seize opportunities and handle threats from a point of strength.

So, how can you increase your knowledge?  Through coaching, training, reflective learning and study.  Often, you don’t know what you don’t know (in the case of business, ignorance is not bliss) and it is helpful to have someone there who can help you see your blind-spot. Having your own coach and mentor is an excellent step to take to help you stay on top of your game.  For more information call 0845 130 0854 for a no obligation chat.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2012

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: I – Influencing Skills

The ability to positively influence others with integrity is a key skill in business.  It affects your ability to have people buy into you, your business, your product and your ideas.  It impacts your leadership style and your ability to build constructive relationships.  It can also be incredibly stressful if you are unable to influence people constructively, impacting your productivity, your sales and even your profitability.

Influence is about your ability to have a positive effect on someone.  It differs from manipulation in that it is undertaken with integrity and regard to the interest of the other party.   It’s about having people buy in to your ideas and perspectives, so that they say ‘yes’ to you more.

 

The talent for influence requires flexibility in style, clarity of outcome, the ability to understand a situation from several perspectives, and creating and maintaining a resourceful state, particularly during times of conflict, or when the stakes are high.

It is not about imposing but inspiring someone to take a particular action, while maintaining strong rapport and building positive relationships.

There are numerous language patterns which enhance your capacity to increase your powers of influence which are too numerous to go into in this short article but which I teach to many of my clients and which I include on my Influencing Skills training course.  The issue, though, is not what the skills are, but the effect that they can have on your success.  They can help you deal with objections and concerns so that you are able to transform potentially negative situations elegantly. It’s the YES factor!

 

Whether your intention is to create change, elicit support or diffuse potentially contentious situations, influencing skills can be a real boon to you in your business.

For further details, please contact Tricia Woolfrey on 0845 130 0854 or see www.pw-consulting.co.uk.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2012

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: D – Decision Making

 

Of all the things you have to do in business, making effective decisions is probably the most important.  Decisions can vary from a simple yes” or “no”, or between a variety of options or even to determine what the options are.  The subject of the decision can also be varied from hiring and firing, appointing the right supplier, deciding whether to increase your product portfolio or consolidate, expand or downsize, borrow or cut costs.  Each of these decisions can have long term consequences so it’s prudent to make sure your decision-making is pretty robust.  Delay can be as destructive as the bad decision.

Here are my top ten tips to effective decision-making:

  1. Clarify the problem you want to resolve – different people may have a different perspective on what the problem is.
  2. Include relevant stakeholders in the decision-making process – if the right people are not involved, they can adversely impact the implementation of your decision.
  3. Brainstorm all the options – don’t judge them yet, just put all the options down on paper.  Essentially this is about becoming aware of what you could do before you decide what you should do.  If you go into the shoulds too early, you cut yourself off from creativity.
  4. Determine what will let you know the decision was a good one.
  5. Make a list of the pros and cons of each option and for each stakeholder including:
    • Costs involved, especially whether the solution outweighs the problem it is intended to resolve
    • Effect on profit
    • Effect on customer relations
    • Impact on employees and workflow
    • Ability to support the decision in terms of skills, time and resources (a lot of good decisions don’t work out because of the lack of infrastructure to make them happen).
  6. Ask yourself whether it is line with your personal and business values – if it is not, it is bound to lead you into hot water at some point.
  7. If you are not at peace with the decision ask yourself what the concern is.  Is there a way of addressing this concern whilst going forward with the decision?
  8. Make sure the solution is treating the cause of the problem rather than the results.
  9. Consider any negative outcomes which may result from your decision and minimise those as much as possible – even the best decisions can have negative consequences – sometimes the best decision is not the most popular so it’s important to think of the short-term and long-term implications and how you can mediate those.
  10. Last, but by no means least, develop an implementation plan – no point in going through all of this if it isn’t going to bear fruit.

Finally, problems to avoid:

  • Analysis paralysis – you can spend too much time gathering data to make your decision – get the balance right.  Often the information being collected is to provide comfort rather than to influence your decision either way. Gather only what you need.
  • Procrastination – the enemy of success and the refuge for those who fear failure.  Procrastination can cause missed deadlines, missed opportunities, wasted resources, delayed projects, and frustrated customers, vendors, employees and co-workers .  It can often cause a loss of respect.  The worst thing is not to do anything.  Much better to anticipate problems and plan for them.
  • Impulsivity.  This is often the curse of the enthusiast.  They often rely on their “gut” but the decisions are not backed up by critical thinking around consequences and implementation issues.  Make calculated decisions and then your gut will tell you if it’s right or not.   A “niggle” can tell you that there is something you’ve overlooked.
  • Ignoring different viewpoints.  Sometimes the best ideas come from the most unexpected places and if you are filtering information through your ego, you are closed off to this.  At the same time, you don’t want to pander to people’s ideas if they don’t work.  It’s important simply to be open and receptive. Sometimes someone else’s idea might not be right in itself but is the seed for something which is.

I can’t resist one more tip:  ask yourself whether it will feel like the right decision a year from now.  This often flushes out any unconscious concerns or validates a difficult decision.

To your success,

Tricia Woolfrey
© Tricia Woolfrey 2012

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: C – Customer

Customers are the lifeblood of any business.  It doesn’t matter how good your product or service, if you don’t have customers willing to buy, you have nothing.  In such challenging times, and considering the cost of attracting just one customer (have you ever done the maths on this?), customer retention is a stronger strategy than customer attraction could ever be.

Yet, it seems that customer care has taken a back seat to profit.  A short-term tactic with long-term consequences.  And yet, effective customer care does not have to be costly.  Not only that, you can expect to see your profits increase as your customers stay longer, buy more and refer more.  And the benefits don’t end there – your employees will be happier.  I am always struck by the check out staff at supermarkets who don’t acknowledge you – how unhappy they look.  I pay extra where the staff are happier – it makes such a difference to the buying experience.

Below are my top ten tips for customer retention.

All customers:

  1. Acknowledge them by name if known, and a warm smile – a genuine smile even comes across over the phone.
  2. Tell them you’ll be with them in a moment if you are busy with someone else.  If it will be more than a moment – let them know in advance.  Set realistic expectations.
  3. Ask yourself how your processes and actions serve customer needs and affects their experience .
  4. Make sure your staff are knowledgeable and find answers to questions if in doubt.  Saying “I don’t know” is just not acceptable.
  5. Under-promise and over-deliver – essential for trust.  Do keep them updated if delays are foreseen.
  6. Hire and train staff who have a strong customer service orientation – be uncompromising about this.  Any apathy or negativity affects profit and morale of other staff members.
  7. Treat your customers how you want to be treated yourself.  You know how it feels when you are respected and when you are treated well.  I am reminded of a friend of mine who recently reported that she closed her bank account as her bank was offering new customers a better interest rate, despite the fact she had been a loyal customer for years.

The biggest risk factor in terms of customers is how you deal with them when there’s a problem.  Here are my top tips to deal with unhappy customers:

  1. Respond positively and empathetically:
    • Thank them – their feedback is a gift and helps you improve your business.
    • Be quick to apologise authentically.
  2. Inform them of what you will do with their feedback – and then make sure you do what you say you will do– it will help build your business in all kinds of positive ways.
  3. Resolve problems quickly and thoroughly.  Be sure to give a little extra to make up for the inconvenience.

Responding well to complaints can not only redeem you in the eyes of the customers but make a complainant into an ambassador for your company, bringing in new business.

Finally, one last thought – do make it easy for people to do business with you – don’t let apathy be your only weapon for customer retention.  Delight them and make raving fans.

To your success!

Tricia Woolfrey

PS  Customer attraction and retention are a very complex area – to book a consultation to find out how you can gain more business through customers new and existing, call 0845 130 0854.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2012

About Tricia Woolfrey

Tricia Woolfrey is a business, performance and productivity coach, helping people to succeed in their business, and for their business to succeed. She has extensive experience with clients across several business sectors, including IT, telecoms, event management, entertainment, recruitment, finance, PR, coaching and therapy, support services, legal and more, ranging from large corporates to start-ups and the solo-preneurs. 

Prior to running her own consultancy, she was Group HR Director for a multi-national organisation and is a member of the Chartered Institute for Professional Development. Her integrative approach to change has had profound results for individuals and organisations alike.

“The results there were nothing short of fantastic”- Guy Apple, VP Marketing & Sales, NVT, UK

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