Ever Wonder What to Do After the Lunch is Over?

September 30, 2008 at 7:24 pm | Posted in Networking, sales, small business | Leave a comment

It seems simple enough. “Let’s do lunch and talk some business.” But without a plan of action on how to follow up after you’ve taken your last bite, you might end up with a prospect who falls off the grid.


A business lunch is a great business development tool, but it should be only one step in your sales process. Most clients are not going to be won over with one meal. Expect to be in it for the long haul. It may take months, if not years to cultivate and win a client. 


Once you’ve had the opportunity to plant the seeds of a relationship with a business lunch, it’s crucial to nurture them to make them grow. Consider the following:


  • Stay in regular contact with your prospect by using a contact management system.
  • Find ways to stay on their radar that may be slightly “out of the box” such as sending invitations to unusual events (gallery openings, fundraisers, sporting events).
  • Demonstrate that you’re thinking of them by emailing articles and links that might be of interest.
  • Be a conduit to other people that might be of interest to your prospect. Facilitate introductions, so that you are viewed as a valuable resource.


Be patient and understand that persistent and intelligent outreach that is value-driven and not merely “touching base” will ultimately help you to convert a prospect into a client. 


A Primer on Providing Professional Customer Service

September 14, 2008 at 9:44 am | Posted in Customer Service, small business | 1 Comment

(The economy just plain sucks!  This “stuff” is important!)

In an increasingly competitive market, the difference between you and your competitors often boils down to one crucial factor – customer service. The reality is that it has been proven time and time again that a company’s success often hinges on how customers view the service provided.  While it’s certainly helpful to utilize technology to increase customer loyalty, oftentimes it’s the basic customer service 101 that makes all the difference in the world when it comes to turning a one-time customer into a long-term client.


You Are How You Sound

It’s a given that using a negative voice and tone with a customer is an absolute no-no. However, there is frequently an overall acceptance for an unenthused, neutral voice.  Call it what you like – blah, bored, tired, or detached. Customers will perceive a monotone voice as negative and unhelpful. Paying attention to voice, tone, sounding positive, energetic, and consistently upbeat should be right at the top of the list of ways to improve your customer service.


The Delight is in the Details

Your customer service team needs to be able to manage the basics of their jobs, and customers expect that. But, what makes the difference between so-so service and helpfulness that keeps customers returning is paying close attention to details. Following through, keeping promises, and going that extra mile for a customer is the key to loyalty. Customers will always appreciate that personal touch that makes them feel appreciated and special.


You Said What?

With more and more communication taking place online, often delivered in bullets or short quips, it seems that many have forgotten the benefits of courteous dialogue. “Please,” “thank you,” and “How may I help you?” are far too frequently forgotten. By focusing on using those tried and true words of good customer service, you can go a long way towards differentiating yourself from a pack of poor communicators.


Frankly My Dear, I Don’t Give a Damn!

We’ve all had the experience of being circulated around a complex phone system, trying to reach a customer service representative – punching buttons, being redirected, then placed on hold, and finally hung up on. What’s the message that a company projects with this lack of respect for their customers’ time? A message of indifference; and it’s a surefire way to make your customers run straight towards a competitor who can manage to pick up their phones.  While this is one example of a lack of concern for customers, there are countless other ways that companies show they just don’t care. The bottom line here – it behooves every company to review their entire customer service process to seek out those deficiencies that create challenges for their customers.


Comfortably Numb

Your market is continuously changing, and so are the needs of your customers. This requires a customer service team to be adaptable and flexible. For this reason, watching out for signs of complacency and an inability to make improvements is crucial and must be corrected before your competitors surpass you with more innovative ways to better provide service to your customers.


It’s easy to go after the quick fix, particularly when it comes to customer service. You can certainly improve the efficiency of a team with a new phone system or software program, but it won’t necessarily improve quality. At the end of the day, successful customer service still boils down to people working with people. Treat your customers the way you want to be treated, and you will be rewarded with the loyalty of your customers.





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