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.

Freight Forwarders – Great Help for All Transportation Requirements

A freight forwarder is an agent hired by importers, exporters and companies to efficiently and safely transport goods from one international location to another. Used for multi-national or international import and export, freight forwarders do not in most cases perform the transportation task by themselves. They actually serve the purpose of establishing an effective communication between the client and the transportation services, thereby playing the role of an intermediary between the two.

A freight forwarder takes full responsibility of organizing and handling the large number of carriers, legalities and requirements involved in transporting goods internationally, thereby relieving customers completely of the hassles and botheration involved in the process.

These agents make sure that they use the most efficient, reliable and safe transportation means for delivering your goods to the desired location, with regard to the type of goods and your individual transport requirements. As per the situation and requirements, they make use of all kinds of freight operating systems, including air freighters, ocean liners, trucking companies and rail freighters. Whatever the means of transport, they guarantee the delivery of your goods on time and in the best condition. They always aim at offering the most affordable rates by negotiating with the freight operators to take the most economical and reliable route while transporting the goods.

The function of a freight forwarder may vary to some extent depending on the client requirements and type of goods. However, some of the common activities performed by them include:

  • They play a significant role in determining and organizing the most suitable transportation route based on the type, fragility or hazardous nature of the goods to be delivered.
  • Negotiating with the freight operators on the costs of handling and transporting the goods.
  • Taking care of the safety of the goods by ensuring the most efficient and reliable packing, warehousing and delivery.
  • Verifying and arranging necessary documents required for clearing customs, meeting insurance needs and obeying the rules and regulations of overseas countries.
  • In case of any damage to your goods, they take full responsibility of arranging for the insurance claims.
  • Using various advanced methods, including internet technologies, e-commerce and satellite systems to facilitate customers with real-time tracking of their goods.
  • Serving the purpose of making as well as collecting payments on behalf of the customers.
  • Verifying the urgency of the delivery in order to determine the means of transport. For example, they opt and arrange for air transport for goods that are of high-value and need to be delivered on an urgent basis.

A reliable and reputed freight forwarding service has the expertise and skill to provide efficient transportation services while saving their clients a great deal of time and headache required to handle such procedure. They efficiently take care of all the necessary requirements involved in transporting your goods internationally. These include maintaining effective communication with all parties involved, handling and storing the goods in the most appropriate manner and delivering them to the desired location in the best condition. For any company having the requirement to transport goods internationally, a freight forwarder can be of ultimate help.

Using Advertising Flags to Increase Your Sales

If you are going to establish a new business, know that it is not going to be an easy job. Starting a business is not about setting up a new office. As a matter of fact, the most difficult part of running a new business is getting it promoted the right way. Nowadays, you can use advertising flags for the promotion of your products and services. You can find a lot of promotional tools in the here and now. As far as choosing marketing tools is concerned, you have a lot of things to choose from. One way is to use advertising flags. Let us know more.

Advertising flags

Since technology has introduced so many ways of promoting products and services, the conventional methods have experienced a drop in popularity. They have not lost their usefulness but new methods have rose in popularity with the passage of time. Flags for advertising were used in the past and they are still very effective.

If you have made your mind to make use of this marketing tool for your business, we suggest that you learn to use them well. Given below are some tips that may help you.

Offer discounts

You can make your customers glad by offering special discounts. And for this purpose, this tool can work in an effective manner. All you have to do is put these flags on the sales counter or other areas of your office or store. The thing is that you have to place them somewhere where they can catch the eyes of the visitors.

New products or services

Another way to use them is to put them outside your physical store like the car roofs, hotels, shopping malls, busy streets and restaurants, just to name a few. if you have a new product or service to promote or you want to give a huge discount, this marketing tool can help you a lot. Just put them somewhere where you know that a lot of people see them.

Online business

The use of advertising flags is not limited to new launches and deals. You can also use them for improving your web presence, and endorsing different contests, just to name a few.

Trade shows and exhibitions

If you are going to take part in a big exhibition or show, you may be excited to see a huge audience. You may want to let the people know about your presence or participation in the event. If your prospective customers don’t know about you, they are not going to get in touch with you. Therefore, what you need to do is make them aware of your presence in an easy way. And one way of doing so is to use a promotional flag. All you have to do is put them up at the right place so that others could see it.

How To Develop A Business Strategy For Your Home Business

It has been found that tested theories and frameworks still form the foundation when developing a strategy for your business. To develop the right strategy for your business you need to do the following things:

Identify a product or service to sell

This is the first step in developing your business strategy. You need to remember that there are thousands of products and services that you can sell; however, for you to compete effectively with other businesses, you should ensure that your product is unique and better than other products in the market.

You need to think for you to come up with a good choice. To be successful in your efforts, you should go for products that you like and you enjoy selling. It’s recommended that you choose a product that you are able to visualize yourself selling it.

Experts recommend that you should be able to see yourself selling the product or service for the next five or 10 years.

For you to settle on the product or service, you should ensure that there is real demand for the product or service at the price that you are interested in charging.

You should also ensure that the demand is high enough for you to make a profit. The demand should be concentrated such that you are able to advertise, sell, and deliver the product at a reasonable expense.

Identify your customers

There is no way your business will be successful if it does not have customers; therefore, you should ensure that you identify the customers who will buy your product or service.

The right customers should have the ability of buying the product at the price that you will be selling at. This means that you should be able to tell whether you will be targeting the poor, middle class, or the rich.

You also need to ensure that the product is valuable to the customer. Here you need to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and see whether the product will be of value to you.

Identify how the product will be sold

Once you have identified the right product and the right customers, you should determine how you will sell the product.

You can decide to sell the product by yourself or you can hire other people to do it for you. You also need to determine how you will promote your product or service. Here you can promote using word of mouth, or other ways such as TV, radio, or social media.

Procurement Skills: 9 Steps to Boost Your Persuasion Skills Through Improved Presentations

Presentations are an inherent part of today’s workplace… business presentations, public speaking and general communication. All involve formal and informal levels and ultimately impact your career progression. So here is a 9 step process for how you can improve your persuasion skills and so become a more effective persuader.

  1. Understand the issues faced by your audience. It is often said that a busy person (and who isn’t busy these days?) can only deal with 5 topics at any one time. If you are going to get air time with busy people you need to make a connection from the very beginning with what is currently on their mind. So you need to link the subject matter of your presentation to one of these key items which means you need to research your audience.
  2. Decide what kind of presentation it is. Is your presentation a pitch for something (such as resources for a project, agreement to go ahead with something or even a pay rise), is it informing the audience or is it to build goodwill (for example at a supplier event)? Is it a formal presentation in front of many people, an informal presentation to a few or even a one-to-one conversation with someone?
  3. Decide your objectives. What is it you want as a result of the presentation? Do you want people to leave feeling enthused for your project? Do you want commitment to give your project money? You need to decide what you want before you design your presentation.
  4. Create a “hook”. This is a vital part of your presentation. You need to grab your audience’s attention from the very beginning. For example, Robert Cialdini has found that the most absorbing presentations and articles start with a mystery. The presentation then engages the audience as they unravel the mystery together.
  5. Create your memorable opening. This is closely linked to the hook. In their book “Made to Stick” Chip and Dan Heath tell the story of someone pitching to venture capitalists for investment in developing a new laptop computer. He started by throwing onto the table a plastic folder and declaring that this was his new laptop. Clearly it wasn’t but it started a discussion about how a laptop could be made so thin and small.
  6. Craft your action focused ending. Too many presentations follow the formula “tell them what you are going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you have told them”. This might work if your objective is to inform the audience. For every other type of presentation it is insufficient. What you want is action of some kind so finish with what you want them to do – a “takeaway” list of actions.
  7. Use graphics for impact. Most people respond better to images than to text. Think about all of the slide shows you have had to sit through that are crammed full of text and bullet points. Images have more impact as long as they are relevant to the topic and are unique. Avoid stock photographs that bear no relation to the point you are trying to get across.
  8. Pull it all together into a coherent story. Do not underestimate the power of a story. We are conditioned from a very young age to engage with and respond to stories. Don’t get “cute” but do have a story that unfolds with a well-crafted opening, middle and end.
  9. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. As a golfer once told me, amateurs practice until they get it right – professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong.

Building a “Successful-Product Pyramid”

Basically, businesses that are into tangible products are on a dead end today. It is because they don’t have an idea on how to create a successful product. Most of the businesses today only adds more features on a certain product and increase its price. They market it as new products even if it is only an improvement of the latter.

It is true that we are lacking enough minds to create a successful product, but deceiving the public is not something that businesses should do. The richest man in the Philippines once said that you have to be honest with your customers if you want them to stay and be loyal in your brand. Well, how can you expect them to stay and be loyal to your brand if you are not giving them what they deserve?

If you wanted to build a successful product, here are some of the important things that you need to know.

Put Innovation as your Product’s Foundation

When creating a product, you should always put innovation as the foundation because in the end, everything comes down on how your product is unique from the others. It is really hard to create a unique product and it is also the reason why every company spends a lot of time, effort and money to create a new product.

Instead of wasting time thinking of adding new features on an already existing product, think of a new product. It will take time, but you don’t have to release new products on a regular basis. You can always add features and tell them that it will be a new addition to the products. You don’t have to add features and increase the price of the item.

Your Product should be Functional

The term “Functional” is not only for electronic products. It can be applied to all the other products on the market today. Let’s say that you already have an idea on what to product, the question is how can you make it functional? You cannot sell an idea. Your idea should be functional if you want people to buy it. If your product will not live up to what you are claiming, it will never be successful no matter what you do.

If you think that the idea of the product is good enough or the design, it should be functional first. It should be a step by step process. You can determine the functions of a product unless you innovate first. You cannot make a design unless you do the first two.

Think of an Attractive Design

Don’t overdo the design because you are not selling a product just because of designs. Make it look attractive and make sure that the functions will not be affected in any way. This is the last step in the successful product pyramid. Even if it is only about the design, it plays a very important role in the marketing of the product.

Many business owners and Filipino billionaires know about this, but only a few are using this. It should be done by business owners if they want to make a successful product.

Procurement Skills: How To Demonstrate Your Value To Your Organisation

As procurement professionals we have to continually demonstrate our value to our organization by focusing on the key activities that deliver the most added benefits. What gets in the way of doing this is the myriad of other things that we have to do each day. Often there is more to do than we are able to achieve in the time available to us.

At this point we need a good process for prioritizing our tasks, planning our work and working our plan. The best analogy I have ever heard on prioritizing work came from Stephen Covey; it is called the “rocks, pebbles and sand” analogy for time management.

The story as told by Mr Covey is that an expert was addressing a group of business students. He reached beneath the desk to produce a large glass container and proceeded to fill it with rocks. When he could fit no more in he asked the group whether the container was full to which the group replied yes it was.

He then produced some pebbles and through a process of shaking the container managed to fit them all in the gaps between the rocks. Similarly, he managed to fill the gaps between the pebbles with sand. The group then thought the container was full until the expert successfully poured a jug of water into the container.

The lesson of this story is clear. If the container represents the time we have available to us in a period of time and the rocks, pebbles, sand and water represent the tasks we have to carry out then we can only do them all if we do the rocks first and the rest in order of size. In other words, start with your biggest tasks first and only go to the next level of tasks once the big ones are complete. If you do the tasks the other way round, you will never get to the big rocks (tasks).

So what are the big rocks that procurement professionals need to do first before they give their attention to the smaller tasks? I would suggest the following:-

  • Understanding your supply markets – what is their scope, who are the major players, are they growing or declining, is there scope to bring in new entrants and so on.
  • Understanding the demand for products and services in your organization and how this relates to your supply market knowledge. For example, is there a need to develop a particular market by stimulating innovation or attracting new entrants?
  • Organizing price and cost analyses and carrying out bench-marking exercises to understand the opportunities for savings. This might be linked to value analysis and value engineering exercises.
  • Carrying out supply chain risk assessments so that you understand the potential vulnerability for your organization and then put in place effective monitoring and mitigation.
  • Working with key suppliers to bring about product, service and cost innovations, improve delivery processes and carry out joint planning and product/service co-design (all part of a supplier relationship management program).
  • Building effective working relationships with other parts of your organization.
  • Measuring performance (both the procurement organization and suppliers) as the basis of designing and delivering improvement programs.
  • Continually improving your capability through knowledge exchange, training courses and coaching.

Do these big rock activities well and you will show your organization what great value you can add. This then becomes a “no brainer” case for investing in more resource to do the other, smaller tasks if you can’t do them all yourself.

Why We Shouldnt Be Afraid of Emotions

For so many decades we’ve been taught that Intellectual Intelligence (IQ) is what gets us places in the corporate world, yet nowadays we are seeing that it is more Emotional Intelligence (EQ) that gets us places. IQ is what gets us our position, EQ is what enables us to keep our position and become a great leader.

However we are not taught EQ skills at school, nor at Varsity and certainly not in the workplace. At least not until recently when mentoring and coaching started becoming a profession. And even then, it has only really been aimed at the Senior managers and Executives of an organization.

Its a known fact that the higher up the corporate ladder you climb, it is more about EQ and less about IQ as your day to day duties largely revolve around managing people, teams and divisions to ensure deliverables and business objectives are met.

So what is being done to help the newly appointed junior managers to develop their EQ skills and become better managers and leaders?

If they are the future of a business and are being groomed to take the lead at some point, then surely it should be key for them to as eligible for the development of EQ skills?

There is a huge need to help up and coming managers develop their EQ skills to become better managers. Often they struggle with the transition from being on the same level as their peers to at times having to manage those very same peers.

By becoming self aware of our own emotions and what drives our actions and behavior, we can better self manage as well as others who come into our space by being conscious and aware of the relational space between two people. This is termed as Self Mastery.

If we can practice self mastery in our personal and peer relationships, not only do we become a better, more authentic person, but we also have better quality relationships. Self Mastery teaches us important skills such as: effective communication, hearing vs. listening, conflict and diversity management, empathy, compassion and understanding. It also helps create trust and safety in relationships.

And this is where HR departments can play a big role in creating an environment that enables mentoring and coaching as part of everyone’s career path to help create more authentic, emotionally attuned leaders resulting in a healthier working environment and happier employees all round.

Tips On How To Create A Powerful Online Presence As A Small Business Owner

We are living in the internet age and for your business to be successful you should ensure that you have a strong web presence.

The first thing that you need to do is to have a website. Here you need to purchase a unique domain name and sign up for a web host. Although, there are many free web hosts and portfolio sites that you can use, you should avoid using them.

This is because such sites tend to make your business look unprofessional. To be on the safe side you should always go the paid hosting plans. The good side is that the hosting plans are usually cheap and almost every small business can afford them.

Once you have done this you should now design a stylish and user-friendly website. If you don’t have the skills to design a website, you should consider hiring a professional who will do it for you. To be successful you should ensure that your website has a current design.

In addition to having a website, you should also ensure that you have profile pages on the popular social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.

The main function of the social networks is to help you communicate with your customers. To ensure that you are able to easily communicate, you should put links of your social profiles on your website.

To increase your followers on social media, you should share content that is beneficial to your customers and clients. When sharing content, you should be very careful and avoid spamming your readers.

If you are a lover of videos, you should highly consider using YouTube videos as a way of marketing your business. The good side is that it’s very easy to create the videos; however, if you don’t have the skills to create them, you should hire a professional to do it for you.

Another great way of having a strong online presence is by purchasing advertising space that is relevant to your readers and followers. A great way of going about it is buying advertising space on Google. You can also write articles and post them on websites that are relevant to your readers.

Although, you might be desperate of having a strong online presence, you should avoid deceitful ways of marketing. For example, you should avoid “sock-puppeting.” This is because such methods can easily create serious backlash against you which would be devastating to your business.

How Penetration Testing Tools Can Help Secure Your Business Operations

When it comes to online selling, one important thing you should remember is that there will always be customers who will abandon their shopping carts. For one, there are consumers who visit online retailers merely for research and do not really have an intention to finish a transaction. There might also be issues that hinder them from completing the purchase. These may include poor user interface, hidden or high shipping costs, or a lengthy checkout process. Another issue that online merchants have to face is security.

If you work hard for your money, then it follows that you simply won’t hand it over to an online entity promising to exchange a product or service for it. Consumers want to feel secure when they are making an online purchase. Your buyers want to make sure that the exact item they purchased will be delivered to their doorstep.

At the same time, they’d want their credit card information as well as other sensitive data kept secure. As an online merchant, you’d want to keep cart abandonment to a minimum. That is why it is worthwhile to invest in website design and SEO and offer the best pricing, shipping and payment options. But merchants should never put customer safety and even their own network security as an afterthought. One significant step toward guaranteeing your network’s and your customers’ safety is PCI credit card compliance.

From there, several things can go awry if you remain complacent. Although many would like to think of the Internet as a true democracy, it is still far from that. The truth is that it is somewhat akin to a public market place where there are legitimate businesses plying their wares alongside shady sellers and even pickpockets biding their time, waiting for an unwitting customer to make a false move.

It doesn’t help that these baddies are shrouded by the veil of anonymity and even geographical distance. A proactive approach that online sellers use and even enterprises which rely on an IT infrastructure, is to enlist the services of specialists in penetration testing tools. Hackers have, rightly or wrongly, gotten a bad rap for compromising network security and even stealing sensitive information. Indeed, many of these hackers have made a living out of these illegal deeds.

However, some have reformed their ways and now help organizations pinpoint weaknesses in their network infrastructure through network penetration testing. Through this test, a business can learn its vulnerabilities and put into place the necessary remedies that will reinforce security. With the aid of these experts, you do not have to watch at the sidelines.