How many times have you heard other businesses say, “Your satisfaction is our priority.” “We put our customers first.” “We’re never happy unless you’re satisfied.”
But do most businesses actually do that? Or do they just say it because that’s what you’re supposed to say to look good?
What about you? Do you put your customers first?
How do you know you are doing that?
Here are a few signs that you might (or might not) be putting your customers first:
Signs You Do Put Your Customers First
1. You don’t have a rigid policy - If you do have a tight policy, it means you’re trying to control how customer service works. Some basic structure is necessary. But if you have an incredible amount of detail, you’re trying to get money out of your customers. With a flexible policy, your reps (or you) have the ability to get solutions that make customers happy.
2. You actively solicit customer feedback - This means you care what your customers think of you. You can never do enough surveys to constantly stay up-to-date with customer concerns as they change.
3. You proactively communicate - If your customers constantly have to chase you down to get an answer, that’s no good. By being the first to communicate, you provide great service that’s hard to find anywhere else.
4. You consistently deliver on your promise - Remember the old adage “underpromise and overdeliver?” If you have a lot of angry customers, it’s time to look closely at your promise. It may be time to reduce what you promise so you make your customers happy. You may have to improve service quality too. Let the facts of your situation tell you what to do.
Signs You Don’t Put Your Customers First
1. You let the little things slideÂ - Remember how you used to return every customer email the same day? Now, sometimes you rationalize it’s okay to let it go until tomorrow or the next.
2.You always let the customer be rightÂ - You can tell them they’re wrong, but only when you believe that acts in their best interests.
3. If it’s not broke, you don’t fix itÂ - One of capitalism’s greatest market forces is innovation. If your customers are happy, that’s great. But you need to ask them what would make them even happier so your competition doesn’t find out before you.
4. You’re not 100% honestÂ - Big lies should never happen. But you should avoid even the “small” ones too. If you have a late delivery, take responsibility for that and don’t “spin it” to make yourself look better. Complete honesty in business is rare and customers respect the golden truth.
When you truly do everything you can to keep your customers happy, business is a cinch – even during difficult economic times.
You know how debit and credit cards have used magnetic strips for years, right?
Well, most likely that’s all going to go away very soon.
In fact, “chip cards,” as they are called, are in widespread use overseas – especially in Europe.
What Are “Chip Cards?”
Instead of the magnetic strips you know now, credit and debit cards all have chips inside. A unique code is created for each transaction. Data breaches aren’t necessarily any easier to stop, but security experts say this will stop criminals from using your stolen information.
Customers at physical stores won’t be swiping them, but they will be dipping them into a reader. Chip cards sit in the reader for a few seconds, until the transaction gets approved. They actually sit inside the card reader itself – and customers often forget them.
You can actually get these cards now if you request them. Currently, they come with magnetic strips on them in many cases because it won’t be until the end of 2015 or so that they get widely adopted.
What’s This Mean for E-Commerce Store Owners Like You?
Unfortunately, the preliminary news looks like it makes things more complicated for e-commerce store owners. In fact, security analysts anticipate there may be an increase in online crime with these cards. More than likely, criminals will work hard to find new ways to steal Â your customer’s data.
So somehow, you have to adjust. The article suggests you do something like sending a unique code to your customer’s phone to verify it is actually them making the purchase.
From the sounds of it, you’ll be forced to adopt this because there’s nothing really stopping big businesses from using it.
MasterCard also has a start on this with their Chip Authentication Program (CAP). If you want the full story on CAP, just know that it gets dense – fast.
But here’s basically what it does to protect your customers when they pay online:
1. CAP has 3 modes, and Mode 1 is the one used for normal monetary transactions
2. The CAP reader asks your EMV card for a data packet that confirms the cancellation of a fictitious EMV payment (it also includes your customer’s unique information)
3. You successfully enter your pin
4. CAP sends a binary code as an Authorization Request Cryptogram (ARQC) transaction
5. SmartCard gives a response and CAP cancels this fake transaction
6. CAP uses an IAI mask to drop bits which correspond to a 0 from the binary code
7. The final, and real transaction is revealed
Now, that’s just a simplification of what really happens, but it’s one way chip cards will be protected when used for online purchases.
Stay tuned…between that and Apple Pay, a lot of changes are coming for payment processing!
You know how you have keywords for Google, right?
They’re very important, as they determine how customers find you (or if they find you at all)!
Just like those keywords, there are “keywords” that make your customers more eager to buy.
And they’re not the natural words that come to mind, either.
Ignore those “fancy” words on other websites that you see often. Words like “maximize, unparalleled, best-in-class, market-leader” – they sound great but mean nothing to your buyer.
Instead, whenever you write any kind of copy (blog post headlines, PPC ads, product pages…whatever), use these words where they make sense. And while it is possible to distort the truth with them rather easily, use them only in a 100% honest, ethical way.
Here are some of the words to use:
This builds so much credibility in your product. If you use it, make sure you back it up with some sort of facts or statistics from legitimate sources.
These words are huge. Use them wherever you can. People love the new and exciting. Just make sure the product, in Â your eyes anyway, is in fact a true breakthrough.
If it’s not, your customers will be disappointed after purchasing. That hurts your reputation and long-term sales.
Humans always aim to take the path of least resistance wherever possible. Make your product sound easy to use, and use the word explicitly a couple times in your copy.
4. Limited Time
If you want to sell, copy the way infomercials work and the language they use. How many times have you heard, “For a limited time only!”
This adds to urgency for your customers, making them more likely to buy now.
However, don’t just say the phrase. Specify the time period that your offer is limited to so customers know how long they have to act.
For copywriters, this is a pretty basic word to use. However, on websites, you often see the words “we” or “company name” moreso than anything else.
That, however, puts the focus on the company.
And customers only care about your company insofar as what it can do for them.
By saying,”You,” as often as possible, you build a connection with your customers, making it more likely they’ll buy.
What customer doesn’t want to hear these words? FREE is the more powerful of the two, but make sure you use them both where you can.
7. Bonus Keyword: Bonus
This implies “FREE” and heck, who doesn’t want a bonus? Just make sure your bonus is a good one. Otherwise, people get angry and irritated with you when they find out it’s kind of a crummy bonus.
Anyway, if you use the keywords in appropriate places in your copy, you’ll definitely notice an increase in sales.
Do you really need all 56 free e-commerce tools that most recent blog post you saw said you did?
Whatever happened to simplicity?
Technology has done wonders in our world, but sometimes enough is enough.
Instead of adding massive lists of tools to your repertoire, use these essentials:
1. Easily Find Suppliers with CommerceHub
Want to sell the same products that the big brands do? CommerceHub essentially makes you the middleman between large retailers and their customers.
You don’t need to find wholesalers, and you won’t need a warehouse. It also takes care of purchase orders, shipping, and returns so you don’t have to.
2. Live Video Customer Service with Vee24
You know about LiveChat – that’s pretty much the standard. Step it up a notch with live video customer service! A great way to make your site even more personal than your competition’s.
3. Manage Your Inventory & Rapidly Fill Orders with Lettuce
It’s designed specifically for SMBs. You can take care of order processing and accounting in just a single click with this cloud-based software. Think of all the human errors it reduces too!
4. Nail Online Fraud with Forter
You get 100% chargeback protection. If the company and its professionals make a mistake, they take the fall for it – not Â you. They actually provide real-time fraud monitoring.
Instead of you have to manually review orders and manage multiple security features, Forter does it all for you.
5. Consolidate and Streamline Customer Support with Zendesk
You might have already heard of this program. Its customer service system takes requests through your social media accounts, emails, and phone and live chat inquiries. They’re all gathered into one handy little place.
Customers can also leave feedback on your team’s performance.
6. Learn How People Use Your Website with Peek – for FREE
They send you a 5-minute video of how someone uses your website. Then, you get tips for optimizing the user experience so you get a better conversion rate.
7. In-Depth Analytics from Lucky Orange
Google Analytics is a great starter tool, but it doesn’t give you everything you need to succeed right off the bat. Other analytics tools are ridiculously expensive.
Lucky Orange closes that gap for you. Heat maps, form analytics, and visitor recording are just some of what you get that Google Analytics doesn’t give you.
8. Retarget with Adroll
Did your customers not buy enough, or buy nothing at all? Retargeting is a more sophisticated form of marketing that keeps you in touch with them. And Adroll is one of the leaders for helping you make the most of it.
With those weapons in your arsenal, you’re sure to push your e-commerce site to newer and greater heights!
Whenever deals are made, that’s where you make money. For example, you make (or lose) money when you negotiate the price of your new home.
As you build your business, you will need the help of vendors. And you don’t want to beat them down on price too much. Because if you do, they’ll do 1 of 2 things:
1) Tell you “no” and go find someone else
2) Cut corners and reduce service quality to make their profit
In either case, you lose. So they’ll probably be willing to give a little, but that’s all you should push for. Value is worth paying for because you don’t have any bumps in your relationship later on down the road.
With that in mind, here are some simple (and ethical) tips for negotiating with vendors:
1. Research the Actual Costs
Some vendors do try to take advantage. And you shouldn’t even do business with them at all. Because if Â you do, and you know they’re inflating their prices way too high, they may be looking to see what else they can get out of you.
When you know the actual costs vendors have, you can work that angle because you know you can get the same quality from another vendor.
2. Know Industry Jargon
If you don’t know what you’re talking about, vendors can tell. Now an honest one will straighten you out and let you know the reality of the situation.
But many want to take advantage of you too. By knowing the jargon, you present yourself as competent and respectable. And vendors will give you respect right away.
3. Talk Like a Good ClientÂ
By showing what you will do for the vendor (pay on time, only make reasonable complaints), you show you’ll be a good business decision for them. They’ll treat you with more respect up front.
They may be willing to give potential good clients price breaks or throw in extras, and they may be more willing to do so later on down the line in your working relationship.
4. Make it Clear You’re Willing to Pay a Larger Deposit
What’s the biggest problem (or one of them) for any business? Getting paid on time! Tell your vendor you’re willing to pay 50-70% of their monthly price up front to get started.
You will have a lot of negotiating power in the relationship. Whatever they ask for – add a significant percentage to it, and you’ll be able to work some angles later on down the line.
Negotiations Don’t Have to Be Unpleasant!
With so many people opening up their own businesses online these days, you’re getting people new to business entirely.
It doesn’t have to be vicious, overly competitive, or stressful…unless you want it to be.
Anyone can use those simple negotiation tips to create win-win situations for themselves and their vendors.
The nice thing about running an e-commerce site is you have a nearly limitless talent pool to hire from. You don’t have to stick with just someone in your locality.
And who knows? Maybe your locality is so small that there’s really no one who’s ready to help you with your type of business!
Thank goodness for the internet, right?
Why would you want to hire virtual employees? They generally cost less than employees you hire locally. About $2,000 less, according to a study by Stanford.
1. Get Involved in LinkedIn Groups
LinkedIn has the best close rate of any social media website. You can just do standard searches if you want. But also participate in groups. Ask groups outright for recommendations. Talk to people you trust.
It’s a long, involved process, but you generally get much better candidates out of it.
2. Research Them as Human Beings
Do a little “cyber-stalking” (not the creepy kind!), and see what these people are all about. Check out their Twitter and Facebook profiles. Don’t forget LinkedIn.
If they’re willing to put irresponsible or obscene stuff into the eye of the public, that’s a red flag for you.
3. Have a Phone Conversation, and Ideally a Skype or Video Conversation
Some websites talk about using one-way video interviews. The candidate answers your questions in a video they record and send.
Don’t do that – you’re just not going to get a good feel for the person like you would talking to them live.
4. Should You Go Global?Â
This is a very tough one only you can decide. On the one hand, it’s cheaper and you can find very dedicated employees in other countries.
On the other, it’s a different culture and you may have a hard time getting along personally.
And then, you know how much some people hate the idea that the US outsources some of its work to foreign countries. Are you okay doing that?
It’s not necessarily wrong, but there are strong opinions on the subject.
5. Ask the Right Questions
This is a whole subject in and of itself. But you need to find employees who are self-motivated and driven to do work on their own. There’s no way you can supervise them and force them to be productive.
Whatever questions you ask, make sure you constantly listen for clues your candidate is 100% self-motivated to succeed.
It’s a Leap, But One You Have to Take
There’s nothing more to it – just do it. An employee pays for themselves in 6 months when you find the right one.
As you may already know (or not), Google changes its algorithm up to 200 times per year. It actually tests around 500 changes or so annually.
Then, you hear about 5-7 of those updates!
With all the change that’s happened, it’s easy to feel hopeless. It’s also easy to constantly research Google’s algorithms, learning what you need to do to make it happy next.
But here’s the thing: you can write good content now that never gets you penalized by Google – ever.
Yes, it is possible to do white-hat SEO that literally survives every possible Google algorithm update you could imagine.
You see, real SEO, the kind that really works is all about giving value and making for the best user experience.
So if you do it right the first time around, there’s no need to do it over again and again.
Here’s how to write truly awesome content:
1. Find out What Your Audience Likes
This is easy to do to start. All you do is go to your competitor’s blog and see which posts get the most social media shares. You have your topics right there.
But you don’t just copy the content. You write about the same idea providing your own insights and thoughts.
2. Use a Casual, Conversational Tone
Write exactly the way you talk. That’s literally all there is to writing well for your blog. The reason you write that way is that’s how people want to read.
They don’t want dense information. They don’t want to figure out what you’re trying to say. They don’t want to hear how smart you are.
Make your content simple and easy to digest. That keeps bounce rates low, time on page high, and you get more newsletter subscribers too.
3. Use Rich Media
With Panda 4.1, Google gave a slight edge to medium and small-size businesses in the search rankings. And there’s some evidence out there that content with rich media ranks higher than content with just the written word.
Use screenshots, images, videos, and self-made images to break up the text and keep things interesting.
4. Keep Reviewing Your Google Analytics
From here, you can learn which content works well and figure out ideas as to why. Then, you can deliver your audience more of what it wants. Over time, you’ll get a better sense of what works and what doesn’t.
The more engagement you get, the better your search rankings and the more you will benefit from future Google updates.
It’s Not That Hard to Make Google Happy!
You may not get those explosive results Â you see from superstar bloggers. But, you can build a legitimate, thriving business that does awfully well over the long haul.
Start working on your content now so you can reap its benefits later!
How hard have you been working on optimizing your Quality Score?
You have been doing this haven’t you?
According to ThinkWithGoogle.com:
Your Quality Score is like a warning light in a carâ€™s engine that shows how healthy your ads and keywords are. Itâ€™s not meant to be a detailed metric that is the focus of account management.
I’m sure you’ve read a number of detailed posts that tell you how to change every last bit of the PPC process to maximize your Quality Score.
But according to what Google just said, you shouldn’t be doing that anymore.
Instead, you should just look at it as a general guide.
So what should you be doing these days instead of micromanaging every little detail?
Follow this list:
1. Use Tight Keyword Groupings
In other words, they should all be roughly the same, or a very slight, variation of the primary keyword. If you try to stretch out your ads to include a wide variation of keywords, you get bad CTR rates because the copy isn’t relevant to the searcher.
2. Great Landing Page Experience
What is “great?” It always starts with speed. Now if you think you need a longer landing page, its okay if it loads slower (greater than 2 seconds) as long as visitors can see the initial text long enough.
In general, your landing pages should load in 2 seconds or less on a standard bandwidth internet connection. They also have to be clean, and the call-to-action button has to stand out and be above the fold.
That makes it easy for the user to take your desired action now.
3. Fine-Tune Your Copy Constantly
As your business evolves, you’ll learn what sells to your customers and what doesn’t. Communicate what does in your copy. Hint: very few businesses continue to fine-tune their copy over time (like less than 1%).
In fact, most use the generic copy you get from the manufacturer. In your copy, discuss benefits (solutions to problems) to overcome objections. Use active voice verbs – ones that happen in the now (not the past or future).
If your headline says, “Discount Blinds,” that’s a disinteresting headline to your readers. Use, “Need Discount Blinds?” and your conversions will increase because that’s an emotional headline that piques curiosity.
You could also say, “Discount Blinds – FREE Shipping!” or “Save Money with Discount Blinds.” You never know which approach converts the best, but you can find out through testing.
So that’s the latest on Google Quality score. Do these things, and you’ll be just fine regardless of what Google decides to do.
Ahhh Facebook. What would life be like without it?
Maybe a better question is what would your company’s life be like without it?
Don’t you get a little envious when you see another company with 10,000 or more followers?
What did they do to make that happen?
They did much more than these things, but at least they’re something you can put to use today so you can start winning tomorrow:
1. Boost Posts about New Products
It doesn’t cost very much and can be one of the most effective marketing tools for small businesses. Some experts advise not to do it, but for $10, $20, or $50 or so, what can it hurt to try if you already have a dedicated following?
2. Use Audience Insights
This tool allows you to see what your audience actually engages with and likes. You can learn whether you should be posting using photos, what topics work, and the results of your contests.
3. Establish a Brand Voice
You should do this with your website in the first place. But, make sure you do it with your Facebook posts too. Have an official document defining the voice, and train everyone who posts on your page on what they should and should not do.
4. Use Your Facebook Page as Your Business and Not YourselfÂ
Interact with other businesses that offer products and services similar to what you do. Make positive and helpful comments on highly active pages. Others on those pages may be inspired to visit yours and like it.
5. Promote TestimonialsÂ
Not too many things make your business look better than testimonials – especially ones that discuss the concrete results your business offers. Don’t just write them down, though.
Instead, use photos. And if you really make someone happy, do a video testimonial. Anyway you can promote your business without talking about it yourself is a great way to market.
6. Share Exclusive Content Just for Facebook Fans
Make sure they know it’s just for them only. Appealing to exclusivity is one of the most powerful marketing tactics you can use.
7. Like/Share “Votes”
“Like” this post if you… and “Share” it if you… By using this method, you enhance engagement. After all, when was the last time you saw a Facebook business page do something like this?
8. Create an OfferÂ
Just go to the “ads create tool” and click “offer claims.” But make sure your offer stays in line with Facebook’s guidelines.
Those are some neat tricks for getting your Facebook marketing efforts off the ground. Give them a try and see what happens.
So you just send out an application, do an interview, and then choose the person with the best qualifications, right?
If you use the standard process, you’ll find the standard employee.
And if you hire the wrong guy, that costs your company anywhere from $25,000 – $50,000, says a blog post at Forbes.
What should you look for in an employee? Here are some things to check:
1. Competence/credentials – These are still the most important factor notes that same Forbes blog post. And it makes sense. You gotta have someone who’s been there and done that before to handle the challenges at their new job.
Because you’re most likely a smaller company, you’ll need someone who’s flexible and can handle a number of different workplace challenges.
2. Focus on concrete achievements – Ask your applicant, “Which achievements are you most proud of?” Here, you look for specific, concrete evidence of exactly what the candidate you’re considering has actually done in the past.
3. Culture fit – You’re going to have to spend a lot of time with this other person – do you seem to have a personal connection? A culture fit may be just between you and the other person, but it’s very important to have. You’ll be able to get through difficult work situations with much greater ease.
4. Know their market value and pay above it – With everything in a capitalistic society, you get what you pay for. Know the average salary range for the type of work your employee does, and offer a compensation package above that. The very best employees know their own market value and go after the best-paying jobs.
5. Hire on a probationary basis – This makes it much easier to part ways if things don’t work out. It’s a nice way to test each other out for a few months first.
6. Do a simple test before that – Are you hiring a new sales person? Go with them on a sales call. Hiring a programmer? Have them execute a routine task and see how they do.
7. Have them meet other employees – If you have others on your team, have them meet the new candidate. Instruct your employees to come prepared to pepper the new person with a few questions.
8. Fire quickly once you know you made a mistake – There’s no way to hire the perfect candidate every time. Some CEOs use the rule of “If they’re a good employee and don’t do well in their first position, try them somewhere else. If they don’t do well there, it’s time to part ways.”
Give your employee a fair chance at succeeding, and then let go of them once it’s clear things weren’t meant to be.
If you follow those 8 tips, you will over time build a highly successful team.