Easy Strategies to Help you Leverage the Remainder of the Business Year

Summer’s over, the kids are back in school, and the holidays are right around the corner. Yes, impossible as it may seem…we’re nearing the end of another year! So, what does this mean for your business?

The best way that I know how to have a great 2017 is to end 2016 strong. This is a prime opportunity to leverage the remainder of the year to your advantage. To do just that, begin by following the three simple steps I’ve outlined below.

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Can You Really Achieve Work/Life Balance?

work/life balance

Work-life balance. Resolutions…goals…intentions. Focus.

You’ve heard it all. You’d love to run your business without it running you (or worse, running you ragged) but no matter what you try, you’re still overwhelmed and frustrated. Sound familiar?

We live in a fast-paced world where at any given moment, we’re being bombarded with countless distractions. It’s hard to stay focused when you’re not even sure what you should be focusing on, especially when everything feels important and urgent.

So, let me ask you: Where’s your focus right now? If the answer to that just makes your head spin, you might be suffering from what I like to call The Busy Syndrome

Do You Have Symptoms of The Busy Syndrome?

  1. You never have enough time to tackle your to-do list.
  2. You feel like you’re constantly on the go.
  3. You often miss out on important family events even though you want to attend.
  4. You know you would have more clients (and make more money)…if it weren’t for everything else vying for your time and attention.
  5. You’re living life just to survive, while missing out on the best part – actually LIVING it!

The Myth of True Balance

If you’re like most of the entrepreneurs and business owners I work with, I’m sure you relate to most, if not all, of the symptoms of The Busy Syndrome. As a business coach, I’m asked all the time how to establish that work/life balance.

My answer is always the same: True balance is a complete myth.

Yes, you read that right. It’s pretty much impossible to attain a “perfect” balance.

You can’t separate your day out into equal parts for work, family, and self-care…and still expect to have time to achieve your goals while making sure everyone feels taken care of.

Why Harmony is What You Really Need

What you’re really looking for is harmony: time to achieve all your most important goals, while still making time for the people that matter most in your life.

Step #1 is to define what harmony looks like for you. Harmony doesn’t look the same for every person, so it’s important to outline what an ideal day looks like for you.

Step #2 is to honor your boundaries…a huge challenge for entrepreneurs. When you’re at work, be at work. When you’re away from work, be away from work. Stay present in the moment you’re in – and enjoy it! If you get a great idea during non-work hours, write it down! Then you have it saved for later to revisit during work hours.

Step #3 is to quit saying “I’m too busy”. When you tell your daughter you’re too busy to attend her soccer game, what you’re really saying is that it’s not important to you at that moment. When you replace “I’m too busy” with “It’s not important to me right now”, I guarantee you’ll find it much harder to say no to the people and experiences that contribute to a harmonious life – because you know how important they are.

And don’t forget – take time for yourself! You don’t need 3 hours to do this – a few minutes at a time is all you need to nurture yourself.

Stay tuned, because I’ll be talking all about my 3 favorite tools to help you take control of your time more effectively in my next post!

Tell me what you think your biggest obstacle is to establishing harmony – and what you do to overcome it.

How to Use the Summer Slowdown to Your Advantage

Summer is right around the corner – and if you’re in business, you know what that means…the dreaded summer slowdown. It seems like everyone is on vacation and plans are put on hold until fall.ID-100290315

When it feels like “normal” life as you knew it has slowed to a crawl, it can be pretty challenging to stay motivated and productive. Here’s the good news – summer is a great time to build some serious momentum in your business.

Follow these five tips and you’ll be in the best position to propel forward…

1. Plan in advance.

If you know summer is a slow time for your business, start researching potential clients. You can use social media or in-person networking events to build new business opportunities. And don’t forget about your current clients – just because many of them might be focused on other tasks and taking time off doesn’t mean you can’t reach out to them with a quick call or thoughtful note.

2. Switch up your schedule. 

Who said you had to miss out on lazy summer afternoons and days spent chilling at the beach? Don’t be afraid to switch up your schedule to accommodate fun summertime activities. If you haven’t already, determine when you’re most productive. Then plan key activities during that time to maximize productivity. If you’re a small business owner, it’s pretty likely that one of the reasons you got into business in the first place was to be your own boss. So, grab the reins and take back your schedule!

3. Delegate or outsource more.

If you’re like most business owners, you’re probably working too hard anyway. Summer can offer you an excellent opportunity to delegate some of your work. If you’re finding it a challenge to switch up your schedule to enjoy all that summer has to offer, odds are good that you need to start delegating more. Moreover, delegating will allow you to cross off tasks from your to-do list, freeing up your time to focus on what really matters – like getting some R&R or focusing on new ways to generate revenue, without working so many hours.

4. Put technology to work for you.

Face it – you’ve probably spent hours on end staring at that same old computer screen in your office. What you need is a change of scenery, and since it is 2015, you’ve got all the tools to help you get out into a fresh environment for a while. Smart phones, tablets, and virtually unlimited Wi-Fi make it easier than ever to work outside, at a local cafe, or from a remote location. And who knows, maybe you’ll meet a new prospect out there!

5. Get in on the fun!

If most everyone else is enjoying the sun – why aren’t you?! Business owners can easily get overwhelmed trying to handle the daily grind. If you don’t take a break once in a while, it’s easy to get burned out. If you haven’t already, plan a vacation or a couple weekend getaways to recharge. Unplugging from your business for a few days will help you refresh, and you’ll come back more productive and creative when you return.

If you use the summer slowdown to your advantage, it can actually turn out to be a time of tremendous growth for your small business. With these easy tips, you can turn the dreaded summer slowdown into a summer of success!

Tell me, what are you looking forward to this summer? Share your comments below.

Image courtesy of jannoon028 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Transforming ‘No’ to ‘Yes’

Here’s What to Do.

In our last post, we covered the money excuse and the difference between features and benefits. We also touched upon the art of overcoming objections. Now, we’ll continue with more on objections, outcomes, and effective techniques.

The Art of Transforming “No” into “Yes, Please!”

changing no to yesIf you want to overcome the money excuse, you’ll need to adequately define the value you’ll add and what payoffs your client can expect to receive.

This is a subtle technique and there’s absolutely an art to it, but once you master it, you’ll discover it’s easier than ever to transform a “no” into a paying client.

To get started, pretend there are two islands: The Island of Today (where your prospect is at right now) and The Island of Full Potential (where your prospect wants to be). The Island of Full Potential is a representation of what your prospect wants to achieve, create, or become.

Between these two islands is an expansive ocean – and you are the vessel that is going to take your client from one island (Today) to another (Full Potential) – in other words, from where they are now to where they would like to be.

Outcomes Are What Counts

One of the most important factors to remember is that your prospect doesn’t really care what the boat looks like – he just wants to know what the outcomes are:

  • What are the tangible outcomes (more sales, an organized house, a healthier body, etc)?
  • What are the intangible outcomes (higher confidence, less stress, more energy, etc)?

outcomes and resultsAs business owners, we tend to go into the details that don’t matter as much to the prospect as the actual outcomes – we tell him every little detail about how we’ll provide the product or service, but we don’t put outcomes firsthow will that client’s life, business, finances, or relationships transform through working with you?

Of course, it’s important to explain “how” you’ll work together, but it should be a much smaller part of the sales conversation. Remember, your prospect isn’t paying for the “how” – he’s paying for results – the action that is going to get him where he wants to be.

Your prospect doesn’t want to think he’s spending money on things like time, plans or calls – he wants to know what results – what outcomes – he’s paying for.

The Technique in Action

Taking actionRemember to emphasize benefits when you’re speaking with your client, and to avoid using words like “cost”, “fees”, or “price” – these are trigger words for spending and buying. You want your client to see this as an investment in herself – in her dreams, goals, and ambitions.

When you highlight the value you’ll add and the return on investment your client will receive, your services become an investment in your client’s future – not an expense she can live without. This subtle shift will motivate your prospects to see you in an entirely new light – and increase your chances of closing the deal.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that no matter what happens, hearing “no” from your prospects is not a reflection on your value – the value you bring as a human being.

Want some more in-depth insight to help you conquer the “Money Excuse”? Visit the Huffington Post to read my recent article.

 

Share your opinion: If you’ve put the techniques I explained above into action, what results did you see? How do your prospects respond when you approach them more with the benefits and outcomes rather than just a rundown of “how” you’ll provide the product or service?

 

Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tired of Hearing “No” from Your Prospects?

Here’s What to Do.

tired of hearing noWhat’s the biggest challenge you’re facing in your business right now? If you said clients who decline to work with you because of financial reasons, you’re not alone.

You know how it goes… you accept being paid less just to be able to work with a client. You charge what you think people will pay – not what the product or service is actually worth. And sometimes (ok, maybe a lot of the time!), you find yourself over-delivering to your clients and giving your time and expertise away for free to “help” your colleagues – without getting much in return.

If this sounds like you, I have good news – a) it doesn’t have to be this way, and b) there is a simple solution that you can begin implementing in your business right away to overcome what I call the “money excuse”.

Ready to start turning prospects that say “no” into paying customers? Let’s begin!

The Money Excuse Explained

Money excusesA prospective client decides not to work with you, citing financial reasons like any of the following:

  • “I’d really like to, but it’s just not within my budget right now.”
  • “That sounds pretty expensive.”
  • “I just can’t afford it.”
  • “Maybe in the future, but right now, I’m saving up for X.”

In each of these examples, the client is declining to work with you because of money. But, is it really about money? Not exactly.

The problem here is that the client is not viewing your services as an investment in themselves and an opportunity to achieve their goals. That client can’t visualize how working with you will deliver added value, so your services are seen more as an expense they can do without.

That’s why I call it the “money excuse” – the client cites money as the reason they aren’t willing or able to work with you, but it’s actually an excuse that’s hiding a much deeper reason.

Features vs. Benefits: What’s the Difference?

Your problem as a business owner is to conquer the “money excuse” – to transform that “no” into a paying client who wants to work with you. The solution starts with an explanation about the differences between features and benefits.

benefits vs featuresMany business owners spend lots of time unnecessarily explaining how they’ll work with their clients – the features – rather than clearly discussing the benefits (or outcomes) the client will receive that will solve their problems.

For example, let’s look at the features of a bicycle vs. the benefits of cycling. A bicycle has two wheels, handle bars, a seat, etc… and no matter how wonderful these features are they may not be a compelling reason for a person to buy a bike. However, when you start by listing the benefits of cycling; burning calories, building endurance, reducing your carbon footprint, reducing fuel costs, etc… The need for a bike is made stronger. Then, you can follow-up with the particular features that make your bike the best.

Put yourself in your client’s shoes. Sure, it’s nice to hear about the features, but don’t you want to know more about the benefits – what payoffs you’ll get by working together and how the product or service will solve your problem?

The Art of Transforming “No” into “Yes, Please!”

changing no to yesIf you want to overcome the money excuse, you’ll need to adequately define the value you’ll add and what payoffs your client can expect to receive.

Learn more about the art of transformation, outcomes, and putting these and other techniques into action in our next post, Transforming ‘No’ to ‘Yes’.

Want some more in-depth insight to help you conquer the “Money Excuse”? Visit the Huffington Post to read my latest article.

 

Share your opinion: If you’ve put the techniques I explained above into action, what results did you see? How do your prospects respond when you approach them more with the benefits and outcomes rather than just a rundown of “how” you’ll provide the product or service?

 

Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How Much Did That New Customer Cost You?

33315056_sI was speaking with a new client last week and we were looking at where his clients came from the last 12 months, how much he invested to acquire them and where to focus his time and energy this year to accelerate his sales.

We had such an eye-opening discussion on the whole conversation around cost of acquisition and the effect this was having on the ROI of his time and money.

Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) is the cost associated in persuading a consumer to buy a product or service from you. This cost includes costs associated with product development, marketing, research, and sales.

The reason this is important is so we can measure whether the investment we are putting in to attract and acquire new customers is paying off. It can be very exciting to have a new customer and we sometimes are so focused on looking at the sales that the entire cost is not factored in.

There are some costs that are kind of obvious like Direct Mail campaigns, advertisements, or Pay Per Click.

And there are others that are not so obvious and tend to be forgotten, especially for service based businesses.

Customer Acquisition Cost: A Simple Example

Here’s a way to look at an activity most business owners are involved in- networking. Let’s assume you are in a leads group, chamber or other group where you have a membership. Let’s assume the cost of the membership is $575 per year and you got 3 new clients for total sales of $10, 000. I’ve seen people say yep that’s a great investment. I spent $575 and got $10,000.

Well – maybe.

And here is the trap people fall into – looking only at the financial cost- membership.

Let’s say over the course of the year, you attended 45 meetings and each meeting is one and one-half (1 ½) hours so that’s 67.5 hours of your time.

Let’s say you had a bunch of coffee dates with members of the group to get to know them and share what you do in a deeper way. That’s an additional twenty (20) hours of your time.

Now, I know it is your time, not a physical cost. But your time is worth something, and you are an expert so it is worth a lot!

Just because I like easy math, let’s say an hour of your time for this activity is $100 per hour. So for 87.5 hours that would be $8, 750.00 for the 3 new clients ($2916.67 each). This is a lot more than $575.00.

And it may be worth it (especially after factoring in what they might buy next etc.. but we are not discussing that today).

The point I want you to takeaway is when evaluating where your clients are coming from and what are the best investments of time and money, you have to look at costs in totality. It’s not as simple as looking at sales minus hard expenses.

Items to Consider

So grab a note pad and start looking at where you made investments this past year to acquire new customers so you can identify how much it costs you to acquire a new customer. Ideally, you should account for everything you did to get that new customer so you can have a picture of the true cost so you can monitor it this year. This will also give you a picture of what you need to charge to cover all your costs and be profitable.

Here is a list of the typical costs to include (depending on your type of business):

  • Facebook ads
  • Advertisements in newspapers, journals or online publications
  • Google AdWords
  • Trade shows or vendor events
  • Giveaways like pens or water bottles
  • Direct Mail campaigns
  • Pay Per Click campaigns
  • Cost of meetings, events
  • Networking group costs, membership or dues

Here is a list of “forgotten” costs to include:

  • Time you spend on social media outreach
  • Time spent at networking events
  • Time spent converting a warm lead to a client: if you are in service based business you are most likely offering complimentary consultations- this time also adds up for the cost of client acquisition
  • Time to develop proposals and work through the procurement process if your client is an organization
  • Graphics or logos used in on-line and off-line advertising: development or purchase of
  • The time it takes to move people to your sales pipeline- this could be your time as well as time of team members involved in the sales process
  • Time to create and proof read copy for marketing

After my clients do this exercise, two things become really clear:

  • Prices may need to increase to cover all the costs,
  • Having a strategy to retain these customer’s is an absolute must (for more tips and tools on this, check out the 5 Star Customer Service Summit)

What insights or takeaways did you have after calculating the cost of acquisition for your clients? Share below!

You’re Hired!: Easy Tips to Help You Avoid BIG Hiring Mistakes

One of the big themes in 2015 that I’m seeing with all my clients is building a great team, which I love because no matter what the size of your business – you cannot do it all alone. Well you can, but you’ll be overwhelmed, tired, stressed and not having any fun 🙂

Why Having a Team is Important

Avoid hiring mistakes | Best hiring practicesHaving a team allows you to better leverage your time and talents – and focus on what you do best – so you can support your clients in getting the results they desire (and get paid well for it, too!).

Plus, you can work less so that you can have more time for other things that are important to you. Most importantly, all those tasks on your to-do list that never seem to get done will finally be crossed off your list.

To make this task a little easier for you, I am going to share some of the most common hiring pitfalls and how to avoid them. In my career, I have successfully hired hundreds of people and have encountered a few non-successes as well.

The Biggest Hiring Mistake Is…

What is that old saying- we learn from our mistakes? True, but I prefer to learn from others’ mistakes when possible. Here is a big one to learn from:

The biggest hiring mistake you can make as a business owner: hiring someone because s/he is like you.

I see this over and over – and in full disclosure, have fallen victim to this one myself. Sometimes you’re interviewing someone and she just resonates with you so closely. You find yourself really liking her and thinking you could totally be great friends. In fact, she is so much like you, you are sure this will be a perfect pairing.

What tends to happen is this: since the new hire is like you, she also likes to do the same things and has the same strengths, skills set and personality as you do.

Problem is – there is already one of “you” in the company. You hired that person to do specific tasks, and they are most likely the tasks you either don’t know how to do or don’t like to do.

So, no one is doing those tasks. But you really like the person so it feels bad to tell her that it isn’t going to work out. You think it might get better, so you put those tasks back over on your to-do list.

The result? They…Still…Are…NOT…Getting…Done.

How to Avoid Hiring Blunders

How can you avoid this? These tips below are key whether you are hiring a virtual assistant, a bookkeeper, a sales rep, an intern or a full time employee. Let’s get started:

  1. Know your own strengths and weaknesses so you can focus on finding someone who can complement your skill set. For instance, I know I love to create and I still have a little perfectionism in me. I know I need someone on my team who is more of a taskmaster and is going to push me to get things done – and keep moving forward.
  2. Clearly identify what tasks need to be done by someone other than you. Include the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to perform them, and the behavioral traits important to succeed in your company. These could be technical such as computer skills, customer service skills, or ability to handle multiple requests and deadlines. You are the boss so you get to decide what is important for your
  3. Write up a job description for the work you need done based on the information created above. It doesn’t have to be fancy or “corporate”- you just need it to share with potential candidates or for posting on various sites.
  4. Create a list of questions for candidates. This helps you get the information you need and enables you to be consistent with everyone you are speaking to.
  5. Look for candidates. This could be posting on job boards, submitting a request on eLance, asking colleagues for referrals, posting on Facebook, or reaching out to college placement offices. Where you look is going to depend on the type of team members you need.
  6. Conduct a formal interview with prepared questions. This can be on the phone, Skype, or in person – whichever works best for your business model. I recommend always having a phone interview before meeting with anyone in person just to make sure they meet the minimum requirements. If the team member is going to be virtual, then stick with the phone or Skype.
  7. Ask these two critical questions:
    1. What do you love doing that you would happily do even if you weren’t getting paid?
      You are listening for 2 things here;

      • You will find out what they are passionate about – THEIR genius zone, and
      • Their responses should coincide with the activities that are outside of YOUR genius zone (the things you don’t know how to do, don’t like to do, or don’t want to do).
    2. What questions do you have for me?
      • If they don’t have any- red flag! No questions = no interest in you – or your company.

Avoid hiring mistakes | Best hiring practices | Keys to hiringYes, these steps will take some of your time initially. However, I can tell you from experience that doing this upfront work will save you time and money in the long run.

You will bring on team members who are aligned with your needs and visions as a business owner, and who have the necessary skills, knowledge and ability to get things done so you can focus on running your business and serving your clients (you know…the reason you went into business in the first place!).

When you do the work up front, it also helps reduce the chances of having to let someone go- directly (“you’re fired”) or indirectly (“no, I don’t have any projects for you this month”).

Tell Me: What issues have you encountered building your team – and what did you do about it?

 

Images courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

What Will You Say YES To?

Is 2015 going splendidly for you so far?

Set New Year Priorities | What will you say yes to?This is not a post about resolutions or goals (nor is about whether or not you are achieving them).

This is a personal note that’s been weighing on my heart to share. And of course one really amazing tip for your business (you know I can’t help myself!).

Last year at this time I fell on the ice and got a concussion (ouch!). 2 weeks after that, I fell down a flight of stairs, well actually it was more like I went sledding without a sled, and tore my shoulder (double ouch!). It made for an interesting year. Last month, I finally had the shoulder surgery to repair the tears.

Everyone kept telling me that shoulder surgery was the longest and most painful recovery. I fought buying into that story, but I’ve got to say – they were kind of right.

I haven’t been able to drive the past 6-½ weeks. I just recently re-gained the ability to lift my arm up enough to reach the keyboard and type with both hands.

I’d be lying if I told you that the sprinkling of snow or icy pavement doesn’t instill a little fear in my heart.

But I’d also be lying if I didn’t tell you about the gratitude that I’ve experienced and has consumed me.

I am so grateful for my family who has taken care of me when I needed help.

I am grateful for my team, colleagues and mentors who’ve been there to support and encourage me.

I am grateful for my clients who continue to kick business butt on a daily basis and make me feel like a proud mama.

I am grateful for you. Thank you for “liking” my posts, following me on social media, reading and sharing my articles, connecting with me and for being part of my community.

I am especially grateful for something one of my mentors, Jeanna Gabellini, shared with me, which helped me have my personal best business year ever (despite everything that happened).

My YES statement… it goes like this, “I only say ‘yes’ to things that [fill in the blank]”

Here was my personal statement for 2014:

“I only say, “yes” to things that positively impact my time, money and peace”

How to choose your priorities | what to say yes toSimple? – YES.

Easy? – NO.

This was such a great mantra for me last year that I really wanted to share it with you.

My example might not be the most important to you, but it’s easy to change the scenario and the statement to reflect what is.

Write it or print it out and place it where you can see it every day. As business owners we have so much to think about and do. It’s a great reminder to focus on what really matters.

This year as I’ve been recovering from my surgery and reflecting on my goals and the road ahead, I’ve modified it a little.

Here is my personal statement for 2015:

“I only say YES to things that positively impact my time, money, energy and peace of mind”.

(I feel calm and happy just saying it)

As a result, I’ve already said NO to some amazing opportunities because they will take up too much of my time and mental energy. And I’m okay with it because I know that leaving that space open allows what I really want, to show up and get the time, energy and focus it deserves.

So, what will you say YES to this year? I’d love to hear it!

To Your BIG Breakthroughs and BIG Results!

 

Images courtesy of freedigitaldownloads.com

Want to Conquer Time Poverty? Enter Your Genius Zone.

Do any of these statements sound familiar?

  • Time trap | time poverty | DeadlinesThere just aren’t enough hours in the day – you’re always stressed because you never seem to have ample time to accomplish everything.
  • You zip through your day, going from task to task, but when the day is over, it doesn’t feel like you got anything done at all.
  • Your burgeoning to-do list is nearly driving you insane.

If this sounds like you, you’re experiencing time poverty. What on earth is that?! When you’re in time poverty, you’re always rushing through life, but you’re definitely not running at your productive best.

Not surprisingly, entrepreneurs encounter time poverty all the time. Overcoming time poverty is an absolute must if you want to truly enjoy success in your business – and in life.

Here are three of my favorite tips to help you overcome time poverty and start getting things done productively:

Enter your genius zone.

ID-100294722When you’re working on the things that you’re passionate about, you’re operating in your genius zone. It’s your sweet spot – where you’re most likely to get stuff done – and do it well.

Time just flies by and you’re ultra-productive. Why? Because you’re doing what you were meant to do – what you’re good at. Now that you’re in your zone, stay there – and delegate everything else.

Don’t force yourself to work on tasks that you don’t like or aren’t very good at. These types of tasks will waste your time and siphon your energy. Don’t let that happen!

You may sit on to-do-lists for months, telling yourself you don’t have the time. Be honest – you don’t really want to do these tasks, do you? And that’s why you’ve avoided them.

Remember: Work in your genius zone and for everything else, delegate, delegate, delegate.

Recognize your distractions.

Everyone faces distractions – social media, email, phone calls and texts…even free offers from programs you’ve purchased.

Sure, it doesn’t seem like much to interrupt your work flow to spend five minutes answering a text or email – but those five minutes add up, and before you know it, you’re out of time and frustrated…again.

Start by identifying what it is that distracts you most often. Once you’ve done that, you can develop new habits that will help you overcome these distractions.

Listen to your inner voice.

What are you really telling yourself? Your outward condition is a result of what you’ve been thinking about in your mind. Meaning, if you keep telling yourself you don’t have any time, you’re going to create that experience in your life.

Does your inner voice sound something like this, “I don’t have time! There is no way I’m going to get all this done.” Or, does it sound more like, “I have enough time to accomplish everything I need.”? It’s pretty simple to identify which statement is the more positive one.

Try this easy technique the next time you find yourself saying, “I don’t have time to do this!” Replace that phrase with this one instead, “That’s not important to me right now.”

You’ll soon have a surplus of time you’re spending efficiently, because you’ll only be focusing on the things that are truly important to you.

If you put even one of these simple suggestions to work in your life, you’ll be well on your way to greater productivity and a thriving, profitable business.

For a more in-depth look at time poverty – and what you can do about it – visit the Huffington Post to read my latest article.

What are you doing to conquer time poverty? Which of these suggestions do you think is most useful?

3 Companies that Make Their Clients #1 – and Why You Should be Doing the Same…

So often we hear about the Customer Service Hall of Shame – but what about companies that top the Hall of Fame list instead?

Here are three top companies that make customer satisfaction a main priority:

  1. Best Customer Service | Superior ServiceRitz-Carlton doesn’t just wait for the unexpected to happen – they plan for accidents and mistakes to help employees prepare for a variety of situations. This is a win-win since customer complaints are a reality, especially in the hospitality industry.
    Planning ahead gives employees a chance to turn a bad situation into a positive customer experience. “If-then planning” is a great way for companies of all sizes to be proactive. For example, if a customer has been waiting for over 15 minutes, then offer them a free item like a coffee or small appetizer.
  2. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is pretty passionate when it comes to customer experience. It shows, because Amazon consistently makes the top of the list when it comes to quality customer service. Headquartered in Seattle, Washington, Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer. Once an online bookstore, it expanded its inventory to include the plethora of offerings you see today. And its customer service doesn’t disappoint – pretty much anyone who has ever returned a purchase knows how helpful their reps are.
  3. Zappos has become strongly associated with excellent customer service, and for good reason. Many companies today can’t wait to get their customers off the phone – in fact, some companies would rather not talk to their customers at all. Not Zappos. Instead, Zappos sees the importance in developing an emotional connection with their customers. Employees are even encouraged to wow customers by addressing unstated needs. Now that’s quality customer service!

You don’t have to be a big-name company to wow your clients – if you’re a small business owner, make client experience one of your top priorities.

Best Customer Service | Superior ServiceSwitch roles for a moment with your client – what would you want to experience? Use this quick role-playing game to find out what you can do to give your client an unforgettably positive experience. Remember how good it felt when someone went the extra mile for you? Do the same for your customers.

Don’t worry about being perfect there – shoot for excellence instead. In reality, nothing is ever “perfect”. Show your clients you really care by giving them an excellent experience that will keep them coming back for more. Maybe they’ll even send their friends and family your way, too!

For more tips on how to retain your best clients, please visit my recent article, “Love ‘Em or Lose’ Em: How to Get Your Best Clients to Stay”, on the Huffington Post.

What do you do to show your customers they are #1? Please share below.