What They’re Saying About You

I am ranting today so get ready.

The “they” in the title refers to your customers and/or staff.  Your customers (current and former) and staff are either helping or hurting your business by what they are telling people about you.

Thing is, you may just not know which.  Your goal is to do all that you can to ensure what they are saying either in word or action is helping.

There are ways to do this which I’ll get to in a minute.  First, let me tell you that the reason for this post stems from a few recent experience that left me fit to be tied.

It all comes down to customer service.

Sales and customer service go hand in hand.  Sales are based on relationships.  Customer service is a demonstration of how much you value that relationship.  If you didn’t know that, you should.  If you already know that, you can never hear it enough.

Exceptional customer service is a must in your business.

So let me break down what happened:

The other day I was attempting to schedule an appointment with a new doctor that came highly recommended by another doctor.  And I mean, HIGHLY recommended.

When I called to tell the receptionist my intention of becoming a new patient, her first thing to do was to ask which insurance carrier I had–standard protocol,  so I responded.

She then asked which type of coverage I had from the carrier.  My bad on this, I really didn’t know which as I told her.  She proceeded to tell me, with the slightest of attitude, that they do take the insurance just not one particular type of coverage, but doesn’t tell me which one.

Okay, this was the first pause because wouldn’t it have made for sense for her just to say, “Yes, we do take ABC Insurance, just not the HMO.  Do you have the HMO?”

Or maybe that’s just me.

She tells me to call back when I find out.  Huh.  Call back.  Nice.

Thankfully I have my card on me so I call back within minutes.  At this point I’m kind of chuckling and trying to joke with her that good thing I’m happy I have an accepted version.  No laughs on her end,  just more of the flat tone.  (Well, hello to you too, Nurse Ratchet!)

She next asked why I wanted to see the doctor.  I told her to have a particular test done.  Now, in a really nasty tone, she says, “You’ll have to have a consultation first.  You just can’t come in and get that done.”

No. Duh.

Did she really think I didn’t know that?  Now granted, it is possible some people may be unfamiliar with how these things flow, but chances are, most know the drill.  And even if they don’t, where did the tone come from?

The fact that how she responded was not only rude, but condescending as well (and really, I was pleasant—ask my husband, he heard the whole thing), was getting to me.  BUT…I wanted to see this doctor because remember, she came highly recommended.   So I figured I could get over this woman’s attitude (obviously she was having an off day) enough to make my appointment.

One would would think anyway.

The thing is, I just couldn’t because her attitude continued to be so off it really put me in a mood.  I mean, how is it making a simple appointment would lead to such animosity–especially to a new patient?

When she asked me my name in the same nasty tone, I started to say it, and then paused.  Instead I asked her, “Is there something wrong?  Is there a reason for you to be angry? Am I missing something here?”  Of course she said ‘no’, in an even nastier tone.  That was it.  I had enough.

I replied, “You know what?  Never mind.  Tell the doctor she just lost a new patient…because of you.”  Then I hung up.

Man, I was pissed!  I was so pissed you could have fried an egg on my head (that’s a little Mother’s Day shout to my mom–one of her favorite sayings–love you, Mom!)  I also knew there had to be something to it because my husband volunteered to drive me to the office so I could make an in person complaint (bless his heart) or kick her tail (which is more of what I was considering by this point).

Even though I appreciated his offer I decided to call the office back instead to speak with the office manager.  Somebody should know about Nurse Ratchet’s behavior, right?

Well, I got another woman on the phone who put me on hold and within 10 seconds hung up on me.  Hmmm, wonder who was behind that?

Right there and then I decided that this doctor is a hack, her staff is unprofessional, and she’d have to be the only specialist of her kind in the world for me to ever darken her doorstep.   Something else that’s unfortunate, if someone ever asks me if I’ve ever heard of her, this is the story I’ll relate.  The high recommendation goes out the window because I’m a disgruntled, not even signed up, potential patient.

And that’s not even the worst part. You know what’s REALLY messed up about this?  The doctor will most likely never even know this happened.  She was probably seeing patients, oblivious to what her office staff was up to and thinking her business is in capable hands.  Poor thing.  She better hope her bedside manner is stellar because she is relying on some serious saboteurs.

I wonder how many patients she loses a day?

It’s a shame really.  I even wanted to help her by alerting her.  Maybe a letter in the mail?  Maybe I should go by the office?  Eh,  maybe not since now my priority is finding a new doctor.

And with that I ask you, what are your customers and staff saying about you?  Are their actions in line with what you would like them to be?  Are they saying and doing the right things to help you get more business and keep your business or are they repelling business away from you?

How can you avoid the latter?

Here’s a couple of things you can do to ensure the right things are happening:

1) Put a customer service protocol in place and train everyone on how it should be done.

2) Ask your customers how satisfied they are on a regularly basis.

3) Ask your customers for ways to improve service and implement what can be implemented immediately.

3) Assess your staff regularly.  Don’t have staff, yet?  See #’s 2 and 3.

4) Demonstrate your expectations by leading by example.

5) Remove anyone from your establishment who goes against protocol…quickly.

Because see, now I’m left looking for a new doctor and to me, it didn’t even have to be this way.  There is no excuse for the behavior of this woman.

There are moments I ask myself if I can get over the experience and the answer remains ‘no’.  This is one of those times a trusted referral doesn’t trump poor customer service.

Guess what?  It never should.

Let me ask you, what would you have done if you were me?  Would love to any ideas on what I can do to alert this doctor to her staff issues.  Thoughts?

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Filed under Business, Coaching, Customer Service, Entrepreneurship, Sales, Selling, Uncategorized, Women

What Business Are You In…Really?

My mentor always says, “If you’re in business, you’re in sales.”  Every time she says it, I swear I hear someone groan.

If you don’t like sales or fear sales then you may want to ask yourself how badly you want to be in business.  I’m going to tell you that it has to be badly enough to kick that dislike and fear straight to the curb without looking back.

If you want to build and grow your business, you are going to have to sell.  I know, I know, you’d rather poke your eye out, but guess what, you don’t have to.  Selling can be pretty simple, once you get the hang.

I will forewarn you though, you will need to be prepared to be strong because even though selling can be easy, there are things you may not like so let’s get them out of the way for you.

You will need to be strong enough to hear the word ‘no’ to your offer.  Eh, rejection happens.

You will need to be strong enough to pick up the phone and call people to extend your services.  Although calls may come in, you doing the calling makes things move much faster.

You will need to be strong enough to tell absolute strangers your most intimate desire…that YOU can help them.  (Probably the part the holds most people back because they are not quite sure what they offer.)

You will  need to be strong enough to ask someone to do business with you.  Believe it or not, you are the one who will determine that the most.

You just need to be strong…and sell.

So get comfortable with selling. 

Get comfortable with what you offer, saying it out loud, saying how much you charge for it, and asking for the business.  Why?  Because somebody wants it and they’re just waiting for you to offer it to them.

Sales is the business you’re really in.  And you rock in that business so get out there and sell something.

How ready are you to sell?

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You Had Me At Hello, Until You Lost Me

David Neagle showing how easy it is to make a million dollars. I was computing.

I’ve been doing quite a bit of networking over the last few weeks.  All unbelievably outstanding, especially at two conferences I attended, where I met literally hundreds of entrepreneurs from all over the world who were ready to get serious about their minds, money, marketing, and sales.

I made so many fabulous connections and walked away with  learning that will help me tremendously in my business.

Now despite all of the fabulousness of these events, there is  one thing that always seems to happen that tends to irritate me ever so slightly.  (And to be fair, it’s at any networking event not just these)  There are the people who you  have a nice chat with, exchange cards with, who then proceed to add you to their mailing list even though all you ever said was, “We should keep in touch.” The topic of being added having never come up.

Now we’ve moved from, “Nice to meet you” to “Oh no you didn’t!”

There’s a name for this …it’s called SPAM.

What is missing in this scenario is permission.  We are in a world of permission-based marketing.  I opt in if given the choice or better yet, you ask me first, I say ‘yes’, and then you add me.

When you add someone without permission it is a sign of disrespect.  You are taking away a person’s power of choice and potentially damaging a relationship.

No relationship.  No sale.  No bueno.

It’s equivalent to the end of a first date when you’re standing there awkwardly not knowing what to do next and the guy grabs you and shoves his tongue down your throat. What the…?!?!?

Graphic?  Yes, but you get the point.

Wouldn’t you much prefer, “May I kiss you?”  or at the very least the silent question with his eyes where you still have to give the green light?

Most likely I’m thinking the latter is more appealing.

One good thing is, there is the option of ‘unsubscribe’ which for the receiver is freeing.  Although it tends to leave a dirty taste in the mouth of the subscribee who is now the one left feeling uncomfortable.  They know you know they unsubscribed.

And lately I’m also noticing there are some folks who are not using an email program.  They are just sending emails without the option to even get off the list.  This is the epitome of ” No-No Marketing”.

I will not be held hostage by your email.  You leave me no choice but to block you.  You asked for it.  You got it.

So, how do you always ensure you are always giving the choice to be added?  There are three easy ways to do this with permission and happy feelings all around:

1)  Just ask. I know sometimes this can feel awkward, but the more you do it, the easier it gets.  A simple, “I’d love to keep in touch with you and one way is through my newsletter which provides a lot of information on what we discussed.  Is it okay if I add you?”

2)  Let technology ask for you.  I’ve received some rather creative invites to newsletters and such that have me laugh and get me intrigued via email.  Interesting subject lines and a reminder of where and how we met with the invite to opt in, usually get me to agree very easily.

3) Do it social media style.  With the advent of social media, people are connecting more than ever before via tools like Facebook, Twitter, and Linked In.  If you know where to find your peeps  (which you should, by the way), these are great ways to stay connected and maybe even more frequently.

Few quick things to remember in whichever approach you use, remember to stay authentic, keep it warm, and be the person they met in person.  Nothing better than being who you are online and off.

So long and the short of it, always choose the path of highest respect and get permission before you lose the connection forever.

Would love to hear your thoughts and comments on how you handle lack of permission or if this even bothers you.  Please add to the comments below. 😉

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Filed under Branding, Business, Coaching, Customer Service, Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Networking, Sales, Selling, Solopreneur, Success, Women

How to Handle Rejection and Keep Your Dignity

Apparently newspaper sales are way down.
You’re probably not shocked by that.  I am sure based on the sharp increase of internet use and rise of online publications; you can draw the same conclusion.  However, I’m going by the last phone conversation from my weekly local publication’s sales rep that confirmed it for me.

 

They are practically giving papers away.

When I was called and asked to renew recently, I said ‘no’.  When the representative asked why, I gave her my honest response of, “I don’t have time” to which she in turn offered me a $50 discount off the annual subscription price—or an 84% discount.  Now that’s a bargain.

And I still said no.

To be honest I was taken aback by the whole steep discount thing.  It actually turned me way off.  To offer that much discount felt like a desperate act rather than a strategy.  Maybe it would have helped if she called it a discount for people who renewed?  I don’t know.  It just makes me think I spent way too much money the first year.

That coupled with her lack of fight and a simple resigned, “Thank you,” made the rejection that much easier.  Really that shouldn’t be the case.

The question is then, what could she have done to get me to say yes?

Honestly, I really didn’t want the paper anymore so I’m not sure there was much more she could have done, but perhaps had she tried a little harder, I may not be writing this.

So, for kicks and giggles and a little learning, let’s examine a couple of her missteps and the tips that may have helped her keep the sale.

Misstep #1:  Weak phone skills.

Yes, she has a tough job calling lists and being prepared to hear rejection over and over again.  I get it.  Heck, I did it.  However, she may have been a bit more engaging had she sounded more like Winnie the Pooh than Eeyore.  It’s harder to say no to someone who is engaging.

Tip: Be warm even if you are sure you’ll get a ‘no’.  It’s not just for them.

Misstep #2:  Jumping the gun.

Although she gets kudos for inquiring as to why I was cancelling, she loses them for going straight for the discount.  Surely I gave her one of the most common objections of “I just don’t have time.”  What I didn’t indicate is time for what.  I could have meant time to read the paper or time to renew on the phone.  She made an assumption which cost her.  (I meant read the paper, but she didn’t know that).

Tip: Clarify the response and keep asking questions until you uncover the REAL reason for the response.  Most likely the first reason is not the real reason.

Misstep #3:  Offered too low of a discount.

As I stated, the discount made me suspicious.  It made me think something was wrong, like there’s a going out of business sale happening.  What, two months from now no more papers? I would have preferred an alternative solution like weekend only papers which would have justified the price adjustment.

Tip: Don’t discount.  Ever.  It appears desperate and a last ditch effort.  Offer an already created lower priced offer or negotiate terms instead.  If it is rejected it’s best to walk away.

Misstep #4:  Didn’t show appreciation.

Hey, don’t get mad at me for not renewing!  She could have at least thanked me for my time or my past subscription.  Nada.  Zippo.  Zilch. What’s the likelihood I’ll be a return customer now?

Tip: Appreciate your customers whether they are coming or going.

And although there are more steps and more ways to handle objections, this was just a few wrong with this call.  Hopefully these few tips help you avoid rejection or take it with dignity.

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The Rule of Engagement

I bet if you ask 100 people what first attracted them to their significant other, there would be very few who would say, “The way he scowled at me.  It was so warm.”

I would guess most would say something along the lines of, “The way her eyes lit up when she looked at me,” “He had a great smile,” or “The sound of her laugh,” because these are the things that make people magnetic.  And as a people, in my humblest opinion, we don’t let ourselves be magnetic nearly enough.

In business, that can kill your relationship with a prospect before it ever has a chance to begin.  You want to hear ‘yes’ more often, than be magnetic.

The quickest and easiest way to do that is to smile.  Okay, before you get to thinking, “Oh, puh-leeze!”,  just hear me out.

Let me share with you one of my Graves Golden Rules of Sales (Like it?  I’ve got more):   Engage Your Prospects.

Smiling is engaging.  When you are smiling you are generally viewed as warm and approachable.  One of the easiest ways to engage is to smile.

And to be clear, the smile needs to be real…so smile authentically.

How do I know?  Well, smiling helped me through one of the toughest times I ever had.  At one point I had to take a job because my business wasn’t going so well.  It was a really low point for me (you know what failure feeling thing) and I had a lot of resentment around it.  What was even worse was, I hated the job.  And I mean, really hated it, but I needed the money so I went.

When I got up to go to work in the mornings, I was one grumpy chick.  Every morning I left my house grumpy.  Bless my poor family, these were not easy times to deal with me.

One of the main things that got me through that period (did I mention I really hated this job?) was my daily stop at the Dunkin Donuts near the company.  Everyone there greeted the customers with big, wide smiles.

Every, single one of them.   Every, single day.

Seriously, these were the happiest employees I had ever seen in any fast food setting.   Heck, anywhere! Their smiles were contagious.  So contagious that before I left the store I couldn’t help but smile right along with them.

Now, just the fact that they were handing me my favorite coffee was enough to warm my soul, but that coupled with their smiles and hearty hellos always helped ease the “I’m going to quit today” speech I gave myself every morning.  They lessened the pain of a really painful situation just by being cheerful.

It became my daily routine to get those smiles before work.  The coffee became secondary.  Customer loyalty through engagement.

I often think I only stayed as long as I did because I would have missed them.  And I know I will never forget them because of what they did for me.

I share that story because you have the same power to touch people and often times it begins with a simple smile.  When your face lights up with enthusiasm, you spread enthusiasm.  You make the person who receives it feel special.  We all want to feel special.

So the next time you are out anywhere remember to smile from deep in your soul.  Smile at every person you meet.  You may just be smiling at your next customer or lifelong friend.  Often times that’s the same person.

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How Debbie Macomber Beat the Odds and You Can Too

With #1 New York Times Bestselling Author Debbie Macomber

On International Woman’s Day (March 8th) I attended a celebration conference in New York City.  Although I was excited for what looked to be a wealth of information from known speakers,   I had no idea that the person I knew least about would have the most profound effect on me.

As much as I am a reader, I have not been a reader of Debbie Macomber’s.  Now, forgive me with that as it’s just that the reading I have been doing the past 3 years has been all business/spiritual based and as much as I love fiction, it just has not been on my radar.

So when I saw her listed as one of the speakers  I had no expectations.  Well, that quickly changed as I saw this woman with a bright, engaging  smile take the stage and begin to share a myriad of reasons failure is not and should not be an option for any women as she embarks on beginning her business.

With her life story she shared pearls of wisdom that gave encouragement and constant reminders of perseverance, faith, and gratitude.  And in the end I felt with all she went through, if  she can do it then I have no excuses.

I was pretty surprised to find myself with a full page of notes that I now dub, “7 Gifts of Inspiration from Debbie Macomber”.  She also said it was fine to share, so Debbie, if you read this, thank you for the inspiration.

I hope you find these as inspiring as I did.

Here goes:

Seven Gifts of Inspiration from Debbie Macomber

1) Dream Big Despite What You’re Told

Debbie Macomber, dyslexic and a poor student, was told at a very young age she would never be an author.  Despite the grim prediction, the dream inside burned brighter and she never let it go.  Today she is a #1 New York Times Bestselling Author who has sold over 75 million copies of her books.

How ya’ like them apples?

2) Following a Dream is Leaving a Legacy, not a Selfish Endeavor

Debbie battled with feelings of guilt because she initially believed her pursuit of being an author was taking away from her family’s livelihood.  The realization that she was teaching her children to believe in themselves and bravely pursue their dreams allowed her to giver herself permission to continue.  It is now a gift she shares with her grandchildren as well who will surely continue to pass it on.

3) Heartbreak Often Comes Before Success

It took 5 years, 4 completed books and numerous, sometimes painful rejections before her first book was published.

Lesson to remember, overnight success happens to very, very few entrepreneurs so keep going!

4) Celebrate All Success Big or Small

In an effort to just get started, Debbie turned to writing articles.  She remembers the joy she felt when she was paid $15 for her first published piece.  To her, it meant she was finally being taken seriously.

Her second article sold for $35.  She was thrilled when Woman’s Day finally paid her $350.  Every article validated her talent and she was grateful for every reminder.

5)  Go Where There is Opportunity and Be Open to Feedback (Even When It Hurts)

At an author’s conference she was almost discouraged by someone telling her she shouldn’t write. As much as it pained her, she didn’t take the feedback to heart instead looking at how she could improve her craft.  The best part was, the feedback came from someone in the industry so it was more objective than most.

I had a similar experience when I participated in a speaking contest this past December.  One of the judges told me he still didn’t know why he would hire me.  Now believe me, that hurt.  Yet, instead of getting angry I examined what I could do to improve my impact.  You best believe he’d know why now.  So I thank him for the honest critique because it just makes me work harder.

5) Have a Source of Inspiration

There will be times you need to dig deep and go outside of your head to a something greater than you to stay motivated.  Many turn to a higher power.  Whatever works for you, tap in and hold on.

6) Learn From an Expert

When she realized she needed to move to the next level in her craft, Debbie realized that there were others who had “been there and done that” who could help her shortcut the time it would take to get to her goals.

We don’t know what we don’t know.  The beauty is, there is ALWAYS someone else who does.  Find that person and let them help you shorten your journey.

7) Feed Your Soul – Daily

Through a consistent regimen of quiet time, working out and writing, Debbie says she stays balanced and joyful.  She stated that doing those things daily helps her continue to enjoy what she does all of the time.   She also appears to have deep faith which helps her stay grounded and connected.

What do you do daily to stay grounded, balanced, and joyful?  Don’t know?  Think about just one thing you can do for 20 minutes everyday.  Start there and you’ll see a dramatic difference.

 

So there you have it.  Although I drilled her boatload of wisdom down to 7 key points, believe me there was so, so much more.  I didn’t even tell you about how at one point she and her husband were living on $350 a week with 4 kids to feed which drove her to getting a job without ever having work experience.  And even with those struggles, she still made it.

There’s hope for the rest of us.  Thanks again, Debbie.

Oh, and you may be interested to know, she has now written a new NON-fiction book called, “God’s Guest List,” which she is holding in our picture.  She even signed it for me!  I have begun to dig into my copy and I can tell you, the inspiration she spreads is coming through the pages.  I recommend the read.

Stay inspired, keep going, and continue to dream BIG!

 


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The Rise and/or Fall of Entrepreneurship

This was a result of the musings going through my brain one day.  Please excuse the crude artwork.  I think you get the gist though.

As you go forward in the entrepreneurial arena, ever wonder if you have a rock or parachute strapped to your back?

What do you think the road to success is paved with?

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