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  • 3 Secrets to Making an Emotional Connection with Customers

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    Positive emotions are vital to a good retail customer experience. But how can you ensure customers have a positive experience in your store? The Power of Emotion and Personalization, a survey of more than 20,000 people by InMoment, has some guidance about what emotions matter most to customer loyalty.

    Emotion has become the No. 1 driver of a great customer experience, InMoment reports — more important than ease or effectiveness. The study surveyed both customers and businesses about what emotions create positive brand experiences. Here’s what they said:

    Satisfaction is by far the most important emotion in creating positive brand experiences. Thirty-eight percent of consumers ranked it as important, compared to 26 percent of businesses.

    Other emotions ranked far behind satisfaction for consumers. Feeling safe/reassured is the second most-cited emotion related to positive brand experiences (14 percent). Being made to feel important ranks third (12 percent) while being made to feel “relaxed/at ease” ranked fourth (11 percent).

    However, there are some important discrepancies between the emotions that consumers feel are important and those that businesses think are important to their customers. For example, consider that 12-point gap between consumers’ and businesses’ rankings of satisfaction. Businesses are also more inclined to think consumers want to be part of something special (14 percent of companies, but just 7 percent of consumers, say this is an important positive emotion).

    The survey also asked what emotions are important to making consumers loyal to businesses. Again, satisfaction topped the list: Almost 40 percent of consumers associate satisfaction with customer loyalty. However, businesses overvalued emotions such as feeling important (15 percent) and feeling a part of something special (11 percent) in creating customer loyalty.

    What emotions are associated with a negative brand experience? One-fourth of consumers say they associate disappointment with a bad experience, 23 percent mentioned “frustration” and 20 percent say feeling disrespected leads to a bad brand experience. In addition, 19 percent say a bad experience makes them angry.

    Once again, businesses in the survey drastically underestimated the emotions of disrespect and anger, with 13 percent and 10 percent, respectively, saying these emotions are associated with a poor brand experience.

    Making an Emotional Connection with Customers

    What’s the takeaway for retailers?

    1) Deliver what you promise. Given the discrepancy between the emotions that businesses and consumers feel are the most important for a business to create, InMoment concludes that many businesses are missing the mark. Brands that focus on trying to make customers feel part of something special or feel important may be overlooking what really matters to their customers. Before you try to bring out strong emotions — to “delight” consumers — you need to master the basics: delivering what you promise.

    While these days it’s common to complain that consumer expectations are too high, in reality, InMoment points out, most customers’ expectations are simply for a business to deliver what it promises. If you don’t do what you say you will — for instance, if your store doesn’t have advertised items in stock — customers will feel more than just let down; they’ll feel betrayed.

    2) Create personalized interactions. Personalization is a hot buzzword in marketing right now. However, for consumers in the survey, personalized, targeted advertising is not as important as a personalized experience with the business. One consumer in the survey put it this way: “Knowing my needs [is] far more important than knowing just my name or my status on a screen that they look at. I like [it] when they offer recommendations that I may not have thought of at first but feel would be beneficial to purchase, not just another upsell.”

    Go ahead and collect customer data you can use for marketing and advertising. But go beyond “staring at a screen” to reach out and make suggestions with the customer’s benefit in mind.

    3) Survey your customers. The only way to know if customers are truly satisfied is to ask them. Conduct regular customer surveys and touch base with customers informally to get a sense of how well your business is doing at delivering the essential emotion –satisfaction.

    Customer Photo via Shutterstock



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  • Customer Service Basics

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    Customer Service 101Business Know-How, like a lot of small companies, operates with a very small staff. We rely on highly skilled contractors and paid product support services to handle jobs that we don’t need done daily on a set schedule. In fact, when we choose technical products, we look as closely at the vendor’s support services as we do at the product itself. As a result we often pay top dollar for products or services, but we expect that the support we will get will be top-notch too.

    And usually support is good. But every once in a while we run into situations where a vendor’s tech support staff is less than helpful – or worse, seems to have an attitude problem.

    That was the case recently when my assistant contacted a long-term vendor about a problem with their service that started while I was out of town on a business trip. The tech person we usually work with wasn’t available, so another tech support rep took the call. My assistant explained the problem we were having, expecting that the tech support person would either look into it while she was on the phone, or say he’d check it out and get back to her.

    But the support representative did neither. Instead of indicating how he’d research or solve the problem he said, “Whaddaya want me to do about it.”

    The tech support rep finally made one suggestion – one that my assistant knew was something we considered a last-ditch effort. So she called me to explain what had just happened and ask how to proceed. She then called back the vendor, got the same contact support person, who in the meantime had tried solving the problem with some more acceptable options.

    In thinking back over what happened (and having dealt with this alternate tech support person myself at times), I can’t help thinking that what sounded like a rude or arrogant initial response to my assistant, was really a lack of training. The tech support person did all the things we would expect the vendor to do, but angered the customer because he didn’t know how to communicate effectively.

    How can you be sure your tech support isn’t irritating your customers? Begin by listening as your staff answers phones and works with customers. Are they answering politely? Do they use full sentences, identify themselves and your organization? Are they actually listening to the customer, or just giving them pat answers that may or may not solve their problem.

    Send customer satisfaction surveys to your customers, too. Be sure the survey is short, and that there is the opportunity to write in comments as well as answering one or two multiple choice questions.

    Consider  providing customer support training as well –either sending them to live training seminars, or, if that’s not practical, providing training on disk, or through manuals.


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  • Marketing Ideas For Vitamins And Supplements Business

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    With people becoming more health-conscious, the market for vitamins and dietary supplements has increased significantly. Customers are given an exciting array of choices, with many different brands competing with each other and offering better products at fairer rates.

    People use vitamins and supplements to lead healthy lives, with greater energy and vitality, improved memory and strength, and improved nutritional quality. Nearly everyone makes use of vitamins and supplements these days.

    Manufacturers of vitamins and supplements face stiff competition because there are so many firms offering various combinations of products for the target customers. It is imperative that your advertisements be unique and informative, inducing customers to buy and use your vitamins and supplements. The advertisements have to be consistent and convey the message intended to the customers to choose your brand over others. You can do this by listing the benefits of using your brand and may attract customers by offering freebies that are useful.

    Some Marketing Ideas for Vitamins and Supplements

  • Infomercials on TV, which if implemented correctly, can have a great ROI. It helps people become familiar with your brand and will help them choose your brand the next time they buy vitamin or supplements.

  • Having advertisements appear in health-oriented magazines as well as other magazines. They have to be frequent, as repetition is the essential ingredient to advertising success.

  • You can have brochures of your vitamins and supplements be made available in the local gyms and beauty parlors and spas, clinics, and supermarkets, etc.

  • Forming partnerships with pharmacies is another marketing idea. Having signboards and fliers advertising your products and brand name can influence many customers.

  • Using medical representatives to entice practicing doctors to prescribe your brand of vitamins to patients.

  • Using celebrities to endorse the vitamins and supplements. This has a very high ROI, as many fans will follow through.

  • Organizing health camps and awareness camps and offering the services of doctors for free can be very effective ways of marketing your products.

  • Using trade shows to promote your brand name and products.

  • Giving out educational leaflets in schools and colleges can influence some customers to try your products.

  • Using MLM to sell your products can be successful, too.

  • Develop catch phrases that will stay in the minds of customers and bring uniqueness to your products.

  • Opting to have referral programs with affiliate services. This may be very advantageous. You may have a website to promote your products, too.
  • These are a few marketing ideas for vitamins and supplements. There are firms that offer services as well as products to help run a successful business.

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  • Why Employees Quit Small Businesses

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    Is employee turnover a probemployees quitlem in your company? If so, it’s easy to blame the problem on any number of things – salary levels, benefits (or lack of them), size of the company, or your industry. These are just some of the circumstances that are often blamed for making employees quit and  look to greener pastures.

    But often none of those external factors come into play. Instead, the things that cause good employees to quit are often internal problems. And in many cases the small business owner’s management “style” is at the root of the problem.

    Ginny Smith (not her real name) recently wrote to Business Know-How to explain why she quit a previous job and is thinking of quitting the one she has now. We asked for (and got) her permission to reprint her comments below because they are so representative of the way a wide range of small businesses operate. Here’s what Ginny has to say:

    “Previous job: I was an administrative assistant for way too may departments (5), each of which argued over my time. I had one boss who was in charge of the departments. She had difficulty saying no, so instead of divide and conquer, the work ended on my desk. I was constantly busy with few breaks for three years until my health went and I had to quit. It took me two months to recover enough to seek employment again. Needless to say, after I left, there was a major reorganization, but too late for me.

    “This time, I got talked into going to work for a small business with few employees. I worked there as a temp and they begged me to stay. As people, I love them. They promised all these wonderful things about an office, a desk, and how I was going to do this and that. Well, it’s been over a year and I do have a computer which sits on a table. I had to beg them to get me a decent chair.

    “I can’t do anything without my boss looking over my shoulder. Answer the phone, take messages, and I’ve been there over a year and I know very little more than I did when I started because as soon as I get the hang of it, the rules change. Everything can only be done one way and that is her way. The problem is I can’t figure out what her way is, because as soon as I figure it out and start doing something on my own, she changes it. Initiative is frowned on. Everything must be done in tiny step. Efficiency is not a byword. Anticipating needs is impossible.

    “We are always behind on our order processing and people complain about it. If she asks me to write something, I’ll write it and then she will rewrite it. It’s not just me, she does this to everyone. I understand why they have difficulty keeping anyone employed now. Since the business moved here two years ago, they’ve had three secretaries and one shipping manager who all quit without notice for the reasons I just gave. I spend my time on the phone taking complaint calls because all aspects of the business must be authorized by the boss. The boss spends so much time watching everyone else, we stay constantly behind. She takes contracts and walks around with them, leaving them lie around anywhere, then asks everyone if we’ve seen the contracts. If I get up to find information, she wants to know exactly what I’m doing. The only reason I think they are still in business is because they’ve been around for awhile and have a unique product (she’s only been around the last few years).

    “Personally, I can’t take it anymore. Example: I was fixing the printer by cleaning it as it was printing badly. I’ve done this quite a few times with various printers and most of the time, I’ve met with success. The boss came in and took over without letting me finish and it gave an error message. She says hey it might not have been printing right but at least it was printing before. I said let me finish this. Then she yelled that she had stuff she had to do and needed the time to do it as if all her time must be spent babysitting me, therefore I was to sit there and do nothing so she wouldn’t have to attend to me.

    “Well, I fixed the printer, and it’s printing okay now, but it sure left a bad taste in my mouth. I’ve been working for nearly 30 years and never had a boss like this. I can’t wait for her to leave, because that’s not going to happen. She’s the owner’s wife. I have a tremendous amount of computer, administrative, and writing skills, but I’m not going to get to use them here. I’ve never worked for a micromanager before and I hope not to do so again. I’m just waiting for the opportunity to bow out gracefully. If nothing else, now I know what to look for.”


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  • 3 Crucial Questions to 'Fail Proof' Your New Business Idea

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    Starting a successful business is hard, but let’s not presume that entrepreneurship itself is intrinsically riskier than other things that popular culture deems as “acceptable.”   

    You’ll never be able to completely avoid risk, either in your personal or professional life, but you can mitigate it significantly by having a solid game plan in place. You need a proven system that will help you determine which ideas are worth pursuing so that you don’t become a statistic of America, Inc.

    You want to be as certain as possible that your business will succeed before you launch. In other words, you need to “fail proof” it. Luckily for you, I’ve developed a process to get you as close to 100 percent sure as humanly possible.

    I call this process “Three Question Validation.”

    At it’s core, Three Question Validation involves answering three pivotal questions to determine if your business idea is viable and likely to succeed. It’s a compact method to test if your idea holds water before you waste the time, energy and money on something that isn’t going to work.

    If you can say “yes” to all three of them, you have an idea that’s likely to do very well. If you can’t say “yes” to all of them, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

    Related: Five Hacks For A Fail-Proof Business

    1. “Is there competition in my space?”

    Contrary to popular belief, you want competitors in your space. If you find a market that’s 100 percent unoccupied you’re either the first one there (risky in that nothing has been tested) or you didn’t get the memo (other people have tried unsuccessfully and abandoned the market).

    Being the first isn’t horrible, but there’s less of a roadmap to follow. Being last doesn’t mean that you can’t find a way to make your idea work in the marketplace...but that will take considerably more work.

    Remember, the purpose of this freelance business doesn’t have to be finding the #1 thing you want to do for the rest of your life. It’s a bridge to freedom. It’s a tool to earn some more money as you get the rest of your life in order. Over time, you may find other things you like more. That’s totally OK.

    For now, let’s try to pick something that has a high probability of succeeding so that you can build your confidence, business savvy and skill set.

    Pick something where there appear to be many other people doing what you’d like to do. If you can answer “yes” to this question, it’s time to move on to the next question.

    Related: 7 Crucial Money Tips to Failure-Proof Your New Business

    2. “Are my competitors making money?”

    A bit of a no-brainer, but very important to consider: even if there are people doing what you want to do, you need to make sure they have enough clients and are making the type of money you’d like to make.

    This step will ensure that it’s worth your time to invest in your idea. There are a bunch of different ways to tell how well your competition is doing. You could look on their website for testimonials and client success stories. Browse through their portfolio if they have one.

    You could stop in (if they are local) and talk to them, or give them a call over the phone. Ask about rates, schedule and typical client experience. (Obviously, don’t tell them why you’re doing the research.)

    I love looking at unbiased third party sites like Yelp to see what their rating is, and what customers have to say. You don’t need to get exact revenue numbers. The point here is just to get a general sense for how they’re doing. If other people are successfully getting clients and customers, so can you.

    Related: 6 Things No One Told You About Fear of Failure

    3. “Can I do my product/service/idea differently and/or better?”

    This is the question that ties everything together. You’ve found your competition. They appear to have some business. Now what?

    It’s time to make your stand by standing out.

    For customers to buy your idea instead of, or in addition to, another company’s, you must show why your product or service is different and/or better. If you can show why you’re unique, you’ll attract just the right customers who are perfect for your business. The type of clients who will buy from you time and again, and who will continually refer you to all their friends.

    This point of difference between you and your competition is called a USP, short for “Unique Sales Proposition.” Here are five examples of how to stand out with a Unique Sales Position: better/lower price; convenience; better quality/aesthetic; better variety; better customer service or guarantee.

    There's no "right" USP, and you don't only have to stick to one. Test your market. These are some ideas to get you started immediately.


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  • Ask the Experts: Things I Wish I’d Known Before Starting a Business

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    While it’s generally good to be forward thinking and avoid dwelling on the past, most of us have made a few key, crucial mistakes that we’d reverse if we could.

    The same is true for small business owners. In every startup story, there is bound to be a wrong turn here or there. With hindsight being 20/20, it’s easy for entrepreneurs to look back on their mistakes and see exactly where they went wrong.

    This isn’t meant to warn you against making your own mistakes—you’re sure to make them. However, with this in mind, it’s a smart move to look at what successful entrepreneurs wish they’d thought of before starting their businesses, what they realized too late, and which wrong moves they’d avoid now that they know better.

    Here are eight lessons that the entrepreneurs from the Young Entrepreneur Council wished they’d known before they started their businesses.

    You can’t know everything, and you’re bound to make some mistakes—just perhaps not these ones.

    1. Your environment affects your success

    It can be tempting to rush through the early stages of the startup process; you might be inclined to hire the first person who comes along, or choose the first storefront location you find that checks most of your boxes.

    However, think carefully about whether or not you are making choices that come together to create the type of environment you want for your new business in the long run. “Surrounding yourself with inspiring, supportive people and environment helps boost your productivity and creativity,” says Artur Kiulian of Colab. “Not many people follow this rule, and sometimes end up with a counterproductive environment, hurting every single aspect of their business.”

    This might mean holding out until you’re sure you’ve found the right business partner, office space, or logo design—and that’s fine. Choosing wisely will benefit your business in the long run.

    2. Your personal development goals go hand-in-hand with your business goals

    You might be focusing on building your business and improving your offering, but are you devoting enough time to self-improvement as well?

    Joe Apfelbaum of Ajax Union advocates that entrepreneurs look to themselves first, and make sure they are on track to meet their own personal development goals, in addition to business goals. “My business is a reflection of me,” says Apfelbaum.

    When he first started his business, he didn’t initially make the connection between the two. “I wish I knew how important personal development was to the growth of the business,” he says. “When I got in control of my bad eating habits, my waist shrunk—and my bottom line increased.” His advice? “Hire a coach, hire a trainer, and read and write every day.”

    3. It always takes longer than you think

    Starting a business isn’t typically a weekend project, but rather something you’re in for the long haul—and it’s important that you take your first steps with this in mind.

    “I have founded multiple companies and mentored multiple founders; one common thread is that it always take longer than you think to grow a business,” says Karan Chaudhry of Comnplus.

    Chaudhry emphasizes this to highlight the investment would-be entrepreneurs must have in their idea, as it will likely take much longer than anticipated for a business to achieve success.

    “It is an important realization, as one needs to be passionate and resilient to weather the storm and keep persisting when things are rough,” he says. “It’s important to do it for the right reasons and not with a goal to get rich or famous.”

    4. Just because you build it, doesn’t mean they’ll come

    “After a year and a half of hard work raising my startup’s first million, I spent it all without signing one customer,” says G. Krista Morgan of P2Binvestor.

    The fatal flaw in Morgan’s plan? A lack of focus on actually talking to customers and finding their target audience. “We thought our plan was simple enough: We were going to work hard and sell stuff,” says Morgan. “The lesson? Spend as much time finding your customers as you do finding your investors.”

    5. If possible, build a recurring revenue model

    The popularity of subscription-based services is due in large part to the fact that they use a recurring revenue model. The appeal is obvious—who wouldn’t want to set up their business so that their customers bought and paid for their product or service regularly, time and time again?

    Peter Boyd of PaperStreet Web Design says he wishes he knew about recurring revenue before he started his business. “We lucked into a recurring model after a few years and that is when the business started to really expand,” he says. “The key to growth is getting a consistent stream of recurring revenue that can be relied on, even if one-time projects slow.”

    Boyd also highlights the security that establishing a recurring revenue model can provide. “It allows you to budget for the future and take more risks,” he says.

    Think your business won’t lend itself to a recurring revenue model? Think again—it isn’t just for subscription boxes.

    6. A clash in values makes for a bad business partnership

    If you’re just starting out, you might be desperate for someone to share both in the hardships and the excitement that comes with getting your business off the ground. However, echoing suggestion number one, Anthony Davani of Kreoo/The Davani Group warns against choosing your business partners rashly and urges new entrepreneurs to look closely at their own personal values before settling on a new partner.

    “Having a partner that is not aligned with your values can ruin your business,” he says. “It’s OK to have different beliefs and healthy to argue over the direction, but if you do not fundamentally share the same values, then you are set up for a disaster.”

    Davani argues that a shared value set should be the deciding factor when choosing a business partner. “Values are the core foundation of who we are as individuals, which will transcend over how we run our business,” he says.

    7. You’re never going to “get it”

    “When I started my business, I had this unrealistic idea that after a year or so, everything would click into place and running my company would become second nature to me,” says Alyssa Conrardy of Prosper Strategies. “That couldn’t be further from the truth.”

    Conrardy believes that framing your journey into entrepreneurship like this is helpful, as it prepares you for potential unforeseen hardships ahead. It also allows you to think of your experience as a small business owner as an ongoing adventure, rather than a trajectory that has a fixed end point and finite set of lessons.

    “I wish I knew that building a business is a marathon, not a sprint, and that figuring out how to thrive an entrepreneur is a lifelong journey, not something you suddenly ‘get,’” she says.

    8. The starting process will be over before you know it—so enjoy the ride

    So, you know you’re in for a marathon adventure. With that in mind, make an effort to have fun and enjoy the view, rather than keeping your head down and pushing relentlessly forward.

    “When my co-founders and I started our company, we were so busy trying to make it work that we failed to enjoy the process of actually building a company,” says Alfredo Atanacio of Uassist.ME. “I wish I knew that one of the most beautiful parts of entrepreneurship is precisely when you start the business.”

    Which lesson do you feel is the most valuable? Have you learned another important lesson while starting your business?

    Share this article on Facebook or Twitter and let me know, or reach out to me @BrianaMorgaine on Twitter!

    Download your free business startup checklist today!

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