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Honesty is the New brand of Choice

The internet has empowered the consumer like nothing before … and this change is still in it’s infancy.

Going forward you cannot hide poor service behind a sexy brand, or bad practices behind clever marketingSocial media.

Customers HATE being misled: when the truth appears they’ll disappear quicker than rats out of an aqueduct (remember the Ratners story?).

This new age requires honesty and integrity. Customers’ word of mouth will be there whatever happens and it will do one of two things:

  • Draw more customers to you
  • Warn people to stay away

Your actions will determine what they do.

They can forgive mistakes, honestly handled (remember when M&S ‘boobed’?), but they can’t EVER forgive you for misleading them or appearing not to care.

Respect them, make them happy, and treat them with honesty, in good times and bad, and all will work out fine.

Of course: that’s always easier to say than to do.

Everyone says it, but it’s rarer than hen’s teeth to find genuine ways to do it that really work!

So, if you think it’s a good idea (and of course it is), and you’d like to find foolproof, genuine way that will make this happen for you, then give us a shout.

You don’t have to spend any money: we’ll send you our powerful free booklets for nothing, and they may be all you ever need.

It ain’t rocket science … it’s just a few simple, powerful tools and systems that need to be applied to all that you do.

If you like what we’re saying and want to know more, without any obligation, please email support@salesthroughservice.com and ask for our free ebooks on ‘The 7 Deadly Sins of Sales and Service’

There’s no such thing as a ‘Bad’ online review

There’s no such thing as a ‘Bad’ online review

 

How to turn negative reviews, fake or real into extra sales and PR.

 

There’s a lot of talk about ‘bad’ online reviews, and the negative effect they can have on a Pub or Hotel business, and, indeed many acres of print have been devoted to legal routes and fighting them. But we work with Pub and Hotel Businesses across the UK and have developed a different response that works to:

  • Reduce stress and time
  • Improve your PR whether the review is ‘good’ or ‘bad’
  • Help turn any review into extra business

These ideas have been adopted by leading Pub and Hotel operators across the UK, including former BII licensees of the year … and, by the way, they work.

So, what’s the secret and what do we do about these ‘bad’ reviews?

There are 4 steps:

Step 1: Accept that the world has changed and the customer really is in charge

  • Social media and online review sites have empowered the customer like nothing before: this is a genuine revolution in consumer behaviour, not a fad
  • Don’t swim against the tide, you’ll be like King Canute …. Pointless and frustrating.
  • Example of success: you see them every day in the news: Ebay, AirBnB, Uber etc

Point 2: Genuinely put the desire to give a ‘Great Customer Experience’ at the heart of all you do

  • In this new world, you can ONLY be genuinely successful in the long term if you change the ‘business mantra’ from:
    • ‘We’re here to make money, and we also want to be nice to the customer’.
    • To: ‘We’re here to be loved by the customer, if we do this well the money will follow, not the other way round’
  • This ‘customer communication revolution’ genuinely affects EVERYTHING you do, so you need to filter all your systems and processes through these beliefs.
  • Example of success: The Monkton Inn: small village pub increased turnover from under £1000 per week to over £12000 per week by genuinely adopting these principles

Point 3: Put proactive feedback systems in place

  • Don’t wait for the review to appear on TripAdvisor: it’s too late!
  • If you don’t actively demonstrate to the customer that you really DO care and really DO want their feedback, they’ll assume (usually correctly) that you don’t.
  • You must put proactive feedback systems in place to help them tell you what you need to know (to get Point 2 right!) These will vary according to the business, but may well include:
    • Tokens and feedback boxes (these work like magic in a pub)
    • Active Twitter engagement (customer like this)
    • Telephone feedback
    • Facebook page for feedback and engagement
    • Online systems
  • Examples of success:
    • The Bull’s Head Repton (amazingly successful pub run by former BII licensees of the year): tokens and feedback boxes
    • Café Nero: SIMPLE online feedback system

Point 4: React strongly and positively to all public online reviews: there’s no such thing as a ‘bad’ online review

  • KEY point: you are NOT responding to the individual, you are demonstrating your personality to the world – this is FREE PR and marketing, pure and simple
  • Calm your ego: customers are NOT always right (but they ARE always the customer)!
  • Respond to ALL reviews: otherwise it looks like you don’t care (This is VERY important)
  • Customers are 3X more interested in your response than the review: they know that people can be awkward: what they’re interested in is what you’re like when you respond!
  • Negative reviews are read 5X more than positive reviews: responding to these properly is a HUGE opportunity.
  • Example of excellence: The Rockford Inn, Exmoor (check out their TA reviews and responses!)

And lastly: ‘bad’ reviews: well, these fall into 2 categories:

‘Valid’ and ‘False’

For ‘Valid’ reviews, take it on the chin, ask them to contact you offline, and state publicly what you aim to be great at and how brilliantly you would have handled this complaint if it had been made direct to you at the time: Free publicity for how great you are.

For ‘False’ reviews, treat them exactly the same,

  • ask them politely and kindly to contact you offline
  • state your commitment to great customer experiences (and all the steps that you’re taking every day to make this a genuine reality)
  • apologize for what needs apologizing for, and state what you DO do and DON’T do (eg: you don’t need to apologise for not having a fruit machine if you don’t do fruit machines!) … and why this is.
  • state what you would have done if they had brought this to your attention at the time
  • reiterate your commitment to feedback and wanting to get it right for the customer
  • if you can manage it, add a little humour throughout: the reader will pick it up, and after all, pubs and hotels are supposed to be fun places!

 

  • Example of excellence: Pizzeria Delfina SanFrancisco: search for their response to false reviews on Yelp: it’s hilarious and supercharged their business.

 

If you manage all the above well, you should also get MANY more positive reviews online – that’s GREAT: it’s free marketing to the people who are interested! Fantastic!

So: there’s no such thing as ‘bad’ reviews, and, by the way, there’s no such thing as ‘bad’ feedback: it’s how you respond to it that makes all the difference.

 

 

A complaint is a compliment

A complaint is a compliment

 

A complaint is a compliment: what do we mean by this?  Surely a complaint is a bad thing because it means that the customer is unhappy about something?

Well, of course it’s usually better to have happy customers than unhappy ones, but, who are you kidding?  You can’t get it right all the time, no matter how great your business and systems.  And the person who will notice when you’ve made a mistake before anyone else is the customer.

Yet all research shows that the customer very often doesn’t tell the organisation, so most organisations are supremely ignorant customer experience and all the small moments of truth that really matters to the customer that they are not getting the right is the need to in order to deliver consistent and continually improving customer reputation and loyalty.

So, when the customer complains, they are really doing you a massive favour:

  1. They are informing you of something about your business that you may well not have been aware of.
  2. They are telling you rather than all their friends behind your back.
  3. They are bucking the trend and are being brave enough to bring this to your attention when the 20 other people may well have noticed it but not told you anything about it.
  4. They are subconsciously telling you that they trust you to do something about it and want to have a long-term relationship with your business.

So it’s always a mystery to me why customer facing staff in any organisation so often find a complaint a problem to deal with.

Instead of saying: “thank you so much for bringing this to my attention, let me listen to you more”, they often say something inane and defensive that puts the customer’s back up and makes them which they had never bought this matter to the attention of the member of staff in the first place.

Top tip: change the word “complaint” to “compliment”

Action:

  1. Send this piece of information to every member of your staff and have a 10 minute meeting every month on the value, power and joy of compliments.
  2. Start developing a world class compliment response process that is designed to consistently build reputation and referrals in every situation.

For more information for practical support in these areas, please contact support@salesthroughservice.com

Business Karma

Business Karma

The Dalai Lama writes:

‘The word ‘Karma’ simply means ‘action’. So when we talk about our ‘Karma’ we are talking about our intentional (and unintentional) acts of body, speech and mind. And when we talk about the fruits of our Karma, we are talking about the consequences of those acts.’

The same is true of Organisations (and teams within them). Their ‘Karma’ are their acts, and the fruits of their ‘Karma’ is their reputation in the market (and therefore their customer loyalty and referrability).

So ‘Karma’ is VITAL FOR LONG TERM SUCCESS in today’s world of informed and hyper-connected customers.

How do Organisations usually know what results their Karma are generating? There are 3 ways:

  1. Guessing (the normal way) – resulting in pain and waste
  2. Surveys (the next most normal way) – the same as guessing, but this time with the added complication of incomplete and misleading information thrown in!
  3. Genuine customer feedback and engagement (the rare way) – resulting in genuine knowledge, motivation, reputation, loyalty and referrals

The conclusions are simple and don’t need to be spelt out.

In a world where the fruits of your ‘Karma’ will determine your success, you need to obsessively listen for your ‘Karma’ and systematically work on it bit by bit, until it is consistently and predictably positive.

And then work on it some more.

Please feel free to contact us for free information on how to do this in your team or organisation: support@salesthroughservice.com

How do I make sure that I always get good feedback?

How do I make sure that I always get good feedback?

The answer is you can’t and you don’t want to anyway.

  1. You can’t: we’re now in the age of the empowered customer and the transparent business. Don’t try and manipulate the customer feedback and reviews: it’d be like King Canute trying to hold back the tide.
  2. You don’t want to: because in the age of the empowered customer, no one trusts an Organisation that only has great reviews (that’s why ‘testimonials’ no longer have any value). So it’s OK to get bad (and good) reviews and feedback: just accept them and use them to power continual improvement and continual development of your customer relationships and loyalty.

This is a truly new age, and it needs truly new tools: you can’t build a steam engine with the tools of a carpenter …

The tools you need are outlined in our book ‘Great or Poor’. This work outlines a simple, systematic approach to using the customer experience as your key driver of success, and gives you 4 straightforward but powerful principles and steps to achieve this.

If you want further information and support on how to get this right, please contact us at support@salesthroughservice.com

 

How do I destroy my competition and make lots more money?

How do I destroy my competition and make lots more money?

The answer is to see your competition as yourself … not as the others.

Of course you need to know what’s happening in the market, but the best way to do this is to get very close to your customers (including potential customers and lapsed customers).

And, yes ok, listen to some ‘experts’ but take everything they say with a large pinch of salt.

But, to answer the question, if you examine almost all truly long term successful and profitable organisations, you will find that they obsessed about themselves and how they could obsessively, systematically, consistently, and continually blow their customers’ socks off.

So, focus on this, and getting as close to your customers as you can, and they not only fantastically complement each other, but they also, by the way, will destroy your competition and ensure you make lots more money.

(And when you do, don’t stop doing what got you there in the first place!)

If you want further information and support on how to get this right, please contact us at support@salesthroughservice.com

 

How can we protect our reputation from malicious reviews?

How can we protect our reputation from malicious reviews?

This is a question that more and more people are asking as reviews and online feedback sites become more and more popular, and there is a simple answer.

You can’t control the reviews, but you can control how you treat the customer AND how you respond to the reviews. Any attempt to do otherwise is futile, dysfunctional and counterproductive.

So:

  1. How you treat the customer: no longer can you see ‘customer service’ as a ‘quite important issue’, it is now the heart and soul of all you do (whether you like it or not). We write and teach extensively on what to do to get this right, so look for our work ‘Great or Poor’ in this area. This includes a proactive system to encourage feedback direct to you (and then shared with others).
  2. When you get online reviews, the key is to respond to them (every one of them): there is no such thing as a ‘bad online review’ … if you do the above right, most of your reviews will be great and positive, but even the best organisations make mistakes sometimes, and critical reviews will always be experienced. You should not be afraid or angry at these (leave your ego out of this!), but treat them as valuable feedback and respond politely and positively, exactly as you would if they’d told you this information in a constructive and kind way to you personally. The key to remember is that this is NOT a personal conversation, you are talking to the world, and the world is very interested in how you deal with complaints (it exposes your true character). So do it well and be constructive and positive!

And malicious reviews? They’re just a minority of customers, don’t worry about them. Stick to the above 2 points and they’ll go away and get swamped by all the great stuff. We’ve seen it happen with our clients time and time again.

How can I get more referrals?

How can I get more referrals?

Some businesses depend on referrals more than others – in fact, the more valuable your customer transaction and lifetime value, the more important referrals are to you.

So, if you want more referrals, it’d be a good idea to get the process right!

Here are some rules:

  1. Be referable: you’ll only get referrals if you consistently act in a way that gets people talking about you for all the right reasons – and none of the wrong ones. (This is of course easy for us to say and much harder to do – for a simple powerful system on how to do this, please see my book ‘Great or Poor’).
  2. Continually mention in all your communication, your desire to do such a great job that you grow through referrals.
  3. Gather feedback using a quality professional system (not a cheap online one): if you want someone to go out of their way to refer you, you need to go out of your way to engage with them first.
  4. Split the feedback you get into 3 categories, using the net promoter system ®
  5. For the promoters, have a systematic approach to ask them for permission to ask them for a referral … you could perhaps call it an ‘introduction’ … don’t go charging in at the deep end, take it slowly.
  6. For the detractors and passives, have other systems which we talk about elsewhere.
  7. Know what type of referral you ideally need and have a set phrase to ask: something like: ‘We’re looking for people like you who want to [achieve result] without [issues that they’re worried about]’
  8. Take up the referrals professionally: have a set system and a professional manner.
  9. Follow up with the referrer and keep them in the loop.
  10. Have a quality ‘thank you’ system: maybe a specific gift, extra valuable service or special event.

 

For more information or a free e copy of my book ‘The Sniper Approach: how to get more referrals without the BS’, please contact us at support@salesthroughservice.com

 

 

What is the ‘Net Promoter Score’ about?

What is the ‘Net Promoter Score’ about?

You’ll see a lot of people using and promoting the ‘net promoter score’. If you don’t know what we mean by this, you’ll probably have noticed an explosion of people asking one question of you in feedback systems:

‘How likely is it that you’d refer us to a friend or colleague’

The answer and scoring to this is the ‘net promoter score’.

Basically it asserts:

  • If people say ‘very likely’, they’ll probably be loyal and want to promote you to their friends
  • If people say ‘unlikely or worse’ they’re probably not loyal at all and could easily spread a bad reputation about you
  • If they’re in the middle, they aren’t loyal not disloyal, they’re ‘passive’

And this makes a lot of sense.

The trouble is that this genuinely excellent piece of work has been badly mishandled by the crowd in search of a quick fix (as ever), and is often used so badly that it had no, or fairly frequently, a negative impact (on both parties).

It’s a great question, but the key thing is to remember that any feedback is only ever of any use if it’s, proactive, systematic, high quality, engaging and enhancing.

And this is not the case with 99% of feedback systems we all see as customers.

If you want advice on how to get this right, please contact us at support@salesthroughservice.com

 

 

How do we gather feedback effectively?

How do we gather feedback effectively?

In the world of the empowered customer, feedback is the breakfast of champions.

In the ‘old world’ of one way mass communication, marketing was king, but as this changes to the world of two way mass communication, the power of marketing continues to diminish and the power of engagement and innovation around the customer’s REAL needs is the new main business driver.

And effective feedback systems are the powerhouse of this driver.

So, how do we gather feedback effectively?

The answer to this is specific to the specific situation of your organisation and situation, in exactly the same way that marketing has been. It would be churlish to write ‘just do these things and this will solve all your problems’ (exactly as it would with marketing). In short, there is no quick fix.

But here are some rules to help:

  1. Do it for a genuine reason – this is a new world, not a PR exercise
  2. Get it going little by little – test and measure every step
  3. Put robust follow up and action systems in place early – it’s not the feedback that matters, it’s what you do with it that counts
  4. Do it properly – this is not a cheap or a quick fix exercise, this is about building up long term customer loyalty, reputation, referrals and innovation
  5. Design it to enhance the customer experience in itself – not an annoyance to the customer!
  6. Make it personal – this is about genuinely building relationships
  7. Continually focus and hone it – this is now an essential business survival tool

 

For help in setting this up and auditing effectiveness, please see www.investorsinfeedback.com