Monday, October 21, 2013
The best channel to communicate with customers
By Becky McCray
The best channel to communicate with customers is … the one the customer chooses.
OK, you can stop reading right there, if you’ll take that sentence to heart. But for this installment of the Small Biz 100, I’m going to tell you a true story, as well as how to do this right.
My husband emailed five or six product questions to a small business. The email reply was this, and this is the entire reply:
Please call [phone number] and I will be able to answer your questions.
Ouch! You can bet your customer had a good reason for picking this particular method to reach you, and you just stomped all over it.
- If Joe wanted to call, he would have called. Why ignore the customer’s preference?
- If the customer is deaf or hard of hearing, why turn this into an issue?
- If the customer has trouble speaking, why make it harder for them?
In this case, the customer would simply prefer to email, rather than call. But now he’s looking for a different place to buy.
How do you make sure that you are using the right channels for your customers?
1. Offer many communication methods
Offer people as many ways to communicate with you as you can.
- Text message
- Online form
- Blog comments
- Voice and video message widgets
- You can add other tools in the comments, since you’ll remember ones I missed.
Of course, not every business needs all of these. My liquor store uses phone, email, blog comments, Facebook, and mail. I’ll add new tools as it seems reasonable and discard those that don’t help customers reach us. You may use more, or less. Let us know in the comments.
Try to list as many of your open channels as possible on your website, printed materials, social network profiles, etc. Make it easy for people to quickly find the tool they prefer to talk to you.
2. Set notifications to come via your preferred channel
Almost all social networks allow you to choose from different notification methods, including text message, email, or RSS. So rather than bounce all over checking messages at each different network all day, set up the system to come to you.
3. Respond in the same channel as the customer
This is the key. Answer customers in the same way as they reach out to you. If Facebook sent you a text because a customer sent a message, go back to Facebook to answer.
Don’t tell callers to check the website. Don’t ask emailers to call in. Don’t require online forms be printed out and mailed or faxed! (No, really, I actually still see this done!)
4. Be considerate if you change methods in mid-conversation
Sometimes, you will be better able to serve the customer if you can switch channels. But do it in two steps:
- Answer as much as you can in the customer’s channel of choice.
- Then ask permission to switch to the better channel by explaining why it helps.
How do you converse with your customers?
This article is part of the Small Biz 100, a series of 100 practical hands-on posts for small business people and solo entrepreneurs, whether in a small town, the big city, or in between.
Posted by Lydia at 4:51 PM
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Downton Abbey to Launch Apparel, Home Accessories
Downton Abbey, the smash 1920s-themed show that has set off an endless array of inspired fashions (we’re talking to you Ralph Lauren!) is now launching its own line.
“We’ll be working across an entire range of products coming out this year, from fashion, apparel, and home[goods] and furniture to wallpapers, beauty products and stationery,” says Downton Abbey producer Gareth Neame in a CNBC interview. According to another report, Knockout Licensing will create the merchandise.
This isn’t Downton’s first foray into fashion, however. The show has a jewelry line licensed to 1928, a company that specializes in colorful stone and vintage-inspired jewelry (and now the name fits perfectly!).
Now with the new products in the pipeline, consumers can dream about adorning their estates, well, apartments and homes, as well as their bodies with merchandise suitable for Chez Crowley.
For those of you who haven't heard of the tv series, Downton Abbey, it's set in the Yorkshire country estate of Downton Abbey and depicts the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in the post-Edwardian era.
Now 1928 Jewelry has been licensed to create and sell some Downton Abbey inspired jewelry. Here are just a few items.
E-MAIL TO REQUEST A WHOLESALE CATALOG.
Monday, July 29, 2013
Oilcloth is great fabric for protecting surfaces, creating fun settings and crafts. Oilcloth is durable and very versatile. Sew placemats, tablecloths, baby bibs, floor coverings. It's great for under pet dishes, under high chairs for easy clean up and makes a wonderful shelf lining. Don't forget oilcloth for your picnics! No need to hem just cut your shape and your done! Great for beginner sewers. You can buy it by the roll or buy all ready made up products. E-mail for wholesale catalog and prices: firstname.lastname@example.org
There are tote bags of all sizes and shapes.
This is just one of many apron designs.
All sizes of tablecloths including custom sizes!
This weekender bag is perfect for traveling!
Gorgeous make up bags in 3 sizes!
And just this weekend I used 2 rolls of oilcloth to make some tablecloths. They were quick and easy to make.
Posted by Lydia at 12:08 PM
Friday, July 26, 2013
THESE ARE THE CUTEST VINTAGE INSPIRED TEA TOWELS AND HANKIES. THERE ARE POLKA DOTS AND FLOWERS IN A WONDERFUL COMBINATION.
THESE HANKY PILLOWCASES ARE DARLING!
AND, OF COURSE, WHAT LURAY HANKIES IS KNOWN FOR IS THEIR BEAUTIFUL HANKIES
Send me an e-mail if you'd like a wholesale catalog.
Posted by Lydia at 8:11 AM
Thursday, July 25, 2013
FIVE WAYS TO DISPLAY TEA TOWELS:
1. I found some of these great pictures on Pinterest and some on the Anthropologie website (I love Anthropologie!). These are all simple and fun to do so get creative! None of these towels are from my wholesale lines but I do offer pretty wholesale tea towels and linens.
2) The display above is a great mix of color and texture.
3) A wine wire rack or basket would work well too.
4) Pegs on the Wall!
5) And last, but not least, tea towels in a pretty basket. Simple yet effective!
Another great but not so original idea is to hang them from a cute clothesline.
Posted by Lydia at 12:29 PM