Customer Service Management Tips – Part 1

Customer support teams are perhaps the most misunderstood, and underappreciated teams in the business world. In many businesses the customer support staff talks to the customers more than every other team combined. They play a critical role in ensuring customers are satisfied. Satisfied customers are repeat customers. Everybody knows that a large percentage of business comes from repeat customers. And yet customer support teams are commonly staffed with junior, inexperienced people that don’t have the authority to make any decisions, or the training and knowledge to answer difficult questions. What’s the deal?

What is Customer Support?

First, let’s clarify what I mean by “Customer Support”, because different companies use this term in wildly different ways. I am talking about the team that takes care of the customer after the contract has been signed and the initial invoice has been paid. You may work in a company where a customer service team handles the transaction from order to invoice. You may have been taught that customer service starts when the customer walks in the door, and doesn’t end until the customer dies or decides not to be a customer any more. These are fine concepts, but what I am talking about here is the role of taking care of the customers’ needs after the invoice has been paid, and before they have expressed a specific interest in buying again. I refer to this as Post-Sale Customer Support to differentiate it from other definitions.

What’s So Important About Post-Sale Customer Support?

As a customer, up until the time that the invoice is paid you always hold the trump card of being able to withhold payment if you are not satisfied. And everybody understands that money talks. After the invoice has been paid you can often be left feeling powerless. The delivery team has collected their money and been assigned a full load of new customer transactions to look after. The sales team is being pressured to focus on customers who have already expressed a specific interest in making a purchase to meet monthly sales targets. So who takes care of you now?

This is where customer support comes in. There is a general feeling within most companies that they need to provide some sort of post-sale customer support, but there is a poor understanding of why. The sales team brings in the customers – which equals the promise of money. The orders team works out the details – which equals the promise of money. The delivery team provides the solution – which equals the collection of actual money. The customer support team ensures the customer is able to use the solution – which equals what? Happiness and karma? Let’s face it; shareholders can’t trade in their karma for a retirement home. Companies want money.

Here’s what people are missing. In a healthy business between 25 and 75 percent of all revenues should come from repeat customers. 25% to 50% is considered typical for a healthy retail outlet, and 75% repeat business would be the top end for a healthy service business. Retail outlets with less than 25% repeat business are probably not meeting their customer needs or more of them would be coming back. Service businesses with more than 75% repeat sales are probably losing their skills at generating new customers and run the risk of severe financial problems if they lose 1 or 2 major accounts. Any way you look at it, a very large part of your business should be coming from repeat customers.

The other factor you need to look at is that the cost of getting a new customer is much higher than the cost of keeping a customer that you already have. Marketing and advertising are expensive business.

Smart businesses invest in retaining customers. That’s what customer support is all about. There is no better time to ensure repeat business than when your customers are feeling that they have no leverage. That is exactly when they appreciate your support the most, and will remember it as something that makes them want to come back.

In part 2 of this series we’ll look at some practical management tips for customer service managers to get the business behind your team and your customers.

Outsourcing Your Copywriting: One Of The Better Stress Management Tips Or Not?

Stress management tips and relevant training in how to use them have taken a prominent place as part of the staff benefits package in many big companies. If you are a small business owner you may have to become creative in how you manage not only your stress but those of your employees as well. The ultimate benefit is less revenue lost to sickness/absence due to work related stress.

One of the main stress management tips a small business owner can employ is outsourcing. However, they would have to think very carefully about what they are willing to contract out and at what benefit or cost. Many choose copy writing and writing for the web as the task they are most willing to outsource, but is that a good decision or not?

As with anything else there are benefits and drawbacks to outsourcing any aspect of your business.

Outsourcing writing for the web and copy writing

Benefits

One: It frees up your time to do other tasks

Writing for the web and copy writing can be a time consuming task and is not something many people like to do. For small business owners or self-employed persons freeing up themselves to complete other tasks by delegating or outsourcing anything would be an absolute godsend. A definite plus!

Two: It saves you time

Small business owners and self-employed persons have so much to do on a daily basis that anything they could do to save themselves some time is welcome. Finding time saving methods to complete tasks is identified as one of the better stress management tips.

Three: You can have quality content quickly

One of the main reasons many marketers and business people pay other people to do their copy writing and writing for the web is so they can have access to the content they need quickly. Many copywriters and ghostwriters provide deadlines or time frames for specific pieces of work and often try to work to deadlines set by the person purchasing the work. In some cases work can be delivered within a few days of it being outsourced and it can be of very good quality.

Drawbacks

One: Costs can add up

The cost of hiring a freelance writer to do your copy writing or writing for the web for your business can range from a US$5 dollars to US$30,000 depending on what you want them to do. Even at the lower end costs can quickly add up, so any plans to pursue this course of action needs to be clearly thought through and budgeted for.

Two: You have less control over the quality of the content

Sourcing good quality writers can be difficult and you may have to ‘kiss a few frogs’ before you ‘meet your prince’. Even then you have little control over the quality of the content you paid for as you can give the writer guidelines to work by but there is no guarantee what you will get back as the writer may have taken on a lot of work and in order to deliver on time may skimp on the quality.

Three: Your favorite writer may not be available when you need them

One of the problems businesses face if they manage to successfully outsource their copy writing or writing for the web is that they cannot control the external environment in which their chosen ghostwriter operates. Unexpected incidents, holidays, illnesses, childcare issues etc. could mean that your writer is not available when you need them. If you do not have a backup plan you may find yourself in need of some other stress management tips.

Four: You are not building knowledge and skills in house

Outsourcing any aspects of one’s business generally has consequences, in this case getting someone else to write your content often means that staff already in your employ won’t get the opportunity to develop or exercise this skill or any knowledge in this area of marketing which may be beneficial to your business in future.

Five: Failure to deliver

The inability to control your writer’s external environment may mean that content you ordered and possibly paid for in advance may not be delivered on time. Issues like taking on too much work, sickness, family commitments or holidays can affect the delivery of your content when you need them. This can be extremely stressful especially if your content was for a specific promotion.

Deciding whether to use outsourcing of your copy writing and writing for the web as one of your stress management tips needs to be thought through. Knowing the benefits and drawbacks of this decision can be quite helpful in your decision making and help you to think through other areas that may be more suited to outsourcing in your business.

Internet Marketing Management – Three Secrets to Igniting Your SEO Return on Investment

As I’ve said before, put at its simplest, a good Internet Marketing management strategy is going to make it easy for the people who want what you have to find you.

Like most professionals with a web presence, you likely recognize the value of search engine optimization. After all, who’d turn down organic, highly-targeted web traffic?

So you know where you want to end up on the SEO front. But where does one start?

Secret #1: Keyword Research

Once you’ve nailed down your basic strategy, Internet Marketing management begins with keyword research.

You want to uncover keyword phrases which:

  • are relevant to your product or service
  • generate sufficient traffic to make optimizing for them worthwhile, and
  • have relatively light competition

To generate a list of potential keywords, start by putting yourself in the shoes of your target audience. What words would you use if you were the one searching?

Play around with these phrases a bit. If you add a geographic reference (e.g., ballet classes in Baltimore), how does that affect the level of search engine traffic and competition? What about if you add a gender reference (e.g., ballet classes for girls) or skill level (ballet for beginners, or beginner ballet classes)?

Narrow your choices down to four or five keyword phrases to start.

Secret #2 – On-Page SEO

It will come as no surprise that once you’ve selected your keyword phrases, you need to make sure that you’re including these phrases in your website content.

Remember to write for people first, and search engines second. In other words, when you weave your keyword phrases into your content, you need to do this in such a way that your writing makes sense to the people reading it.

You may find it easiest to limit yourself to one keyword phrase per page when you’re starting out.

Be sure to include your keyword phrase in your first paragraph; your last paragraph; and one to four times in the middle, depending on the length of your page.

But don’t stop there! There are several other places you can incorporate your keywords, such as:

  • Page title
  • Meta description
  • H1 headline (but remember, it must make sense to the reader!)
  • alt-image tag, if you have an image on the page
  • Page URL
  • and more…

Secret #3 – Link Building

Google loves to see relevant, one-way links going back to your website. You can do much to generate these links, so don’t leave this Internet Marketing management traffic-builder on the table!

For instance, taking the earlier example of dance, let’s say a studio owner wants to create a series of videos with ballet tips. She could start by optimizing her videos with keywords.

To show you how this might look, see below:

Fictional Case Example: Madame Fifi’s School of Ballet
Keyword Phrase: Ballet for Beginners

Video Title: Ballet for Beginners – How To Develop Gorgeous Ballerina Posture

Video Description: www. madamefifisballet. com Discover how easily you can start to develop the beautiful posture of a prima ballerina with this fun, ballet for beginners warm-up routine. Check out other great tips at MadameFifisBallet.com

Perhaps Madame Fifi will choose to embed this video in a blog post (remember that blog categories and tags can use keywords, too!). She then publicizes the blog post to her social media followers and friends and submits it to three social bookmarking sites. Just by doing this, Madame Fifi has created multiple relevant, one-way links back to her web presence!

So there you have three secrets to Internet Marketing management bliss. To recap, start with keyword research. Use those phrases to optimize your website or blog for the search engines. Finally, craft a link-building strategy to increase search engine listings and ranking and to create conduits for targeted traffic.