• Customer Service
  • What Walmart and online “gurus” have in common

    A lot of people like to hate on Walmart. Just like a lot of online entrepreneurs diss marketing “gurus.”

    Here’s a fact about Walmart that isn’t widely circulated: according to reason.tv, a 2008 study revealed that the states with more Walmarts have more small businesses.

    The small businesses that go out of business when Walmart comes to town are replaced by small businesses that do a better job of appealing to customers.

    The small mom and pop shops have to keep their stores clean, treat their customers as they are their only customer, and offer the best possible prices. Then they can hold their own against Walmart.

    Every online niche has Walmart equivalents.

    You can either hate on their practices, crappy products, or whatever. You can give up and close up shop.

    Or you can stand out by providing superior customer service and products in ways the big guys can’t.

    These “gurus” are actually making it easier for you to succeed, not harder.

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  • Customer Service
  • Are your listening ears on?

    When my daughter was 7 years old she went through a knitting phase.

    A friend taught her to knit and she would curl up on the couch every evening and knit for a little while.

    Her first project was a wash cloth. It was made with a mixture of purple and blue yarn.

    After she finished it she came up to me at my desk and told me.

    I was busy writing some copy and my mind was in another place. I did not hear her at all and she walked away.

    A little while later I went to the kitchen and she said to me, with tears, “I showed you my wash cloth and you didn’t even care!”

    I felt bad, of course, and gushed about her wash cloth as if it was a masterpiece.

    Then we had a little chat about how sometimes my listening ears don’t work properly when I’m working at the computer.

    Now…how about you?

    Are your listening ears on after you send an email to your customers?

    This doesn’t get discussed very often but sending an email is one of the best ways to listen to your customers.

    Rather than just focusing on getting them to click on your website, you should also try to write emails that they will want to reply to.

    Step back from your balance sheet and statistics once in a while and listen to your customers.

    It’s not just good for business. It’s good for you.

    After all, the whole point in growing yourself professionally is to become a better person, isn’t it?

  • Customer Service
  • The most overlooked part of email marketing

    When’s the last time you ordered a product and received a series of emails that were NOT sales pitches but instead held you by the hand and guided you through the use of that product?

    I can’t think of a single time I’ve received emails like that beyond a “thank you for your purchase” email.

    Emails like these are called consumption (or “stick”) emails.

    About a year ago a client of mine ordered a series of consumption emails for a product and ever since I’ve encouraged my other clients to consider using consumption emails as well.

    Most marketers usually think in terms of a 7 part emails series for prospects when creating email copy for a new product and that’s it.

    But if you follow up with your customers after the sale with 7 more emails that help them use your product, you will reduce refund rates, deepen your bond with them, and build trust.

    It will also encourage your customers to communicate with you, and it’s through that communication that you get opportunities to improve your product and even come up with new product ideas.

    Consumption emails are also a great way to distinguish yourself from your competition.

    So what’s the best way to write these emails?

    First of all, it’s imperative that these consumptions emails do NOT sell anything. They should not be upsells in disguise.

    If you have a user’s guide for your product you could take 7 topics from there to use in the consumption emails.

    Or if you have a sales letter with bullets – especially bullets that refer to page numbers – just take seven of these and build seven emails out of them.

    I can’t think of a better or faster way to improve your customer service… and increase the chances that a customer will buy from you again.. than to start sending consumption emails.

  • Customer Service
  • An example of broken customer service

    Last night I wanted to go to Borders and buy a book.

    The only problem was that yesterday was Monday and Borders has made it clear to me that they don’t want me to shop there on Mondays.

    Even though I was willing to use a half gallon of gas to drive there and make a purchase.

    What stopped me from doing this is that I have a Borders Rewards card.

    There are two major ways that the Borders Rewards program is broken.

    First you have to remember to print out the coupon they email to you every week and present it at the checkout (or display it via your smartphone).

    You can’t just show your plastic Rewards card and automatically get the discount like you do at the grocery store.

    But the worst part is that the coupons are almost always valid only Thursday-Sunday.

    In other words, it’s as if Borders says: “We don’t want you to shop here Monday-Wednesday.”

    There’s a book I wanted to buy last night. But I looked in my email for a Borders coupon, wondering if there was a coupon for today. There was not.

    So I ended up buying two books on Amazon instead.

    Amazon will take my money 7 days per week and I don’t have to go through hoops to get the discounted price.

    So….are you putting up any barriers that make it harder for your customers to buy from you?

    Do customers have to go through hoops to place an order?

    What are the “rewards” for your customers if they purchase from you? Are they truly rewards?

    Those of us running small businesses should be able to rock at customer service in ways that the big businesses don’t.

    Never forget: every business is ultimately a customer service business regardless of what type of product or service you sell.