Smart Growth: How to Avoid Biting Off More Than We Can Chew

Read below in other to understand the phrase ‘biting off more than we can chew’.

To bite off more than one can chew means to take on more than one can deal with, to attempt to do something that one is not capable of accomplishing. This phrase is also employed in the warning don’t bite off more than you can chew, meaning don’t take too much work or responsibility upon oneself.

As a consultant working on a project, it can be easy to fall into the trappings of a large or high-profile project. Getting caught up in helping a contractor move to the next level in his or her career path, while attaching your name to the project, can sometimes be a bigger pitfall than a benefit. The same is applicable to customer service.

These situations can escalate very quickly, compromising the professionalism and trust between customers and their agents, as well as the quality of the project.

Once a customer loses faith in a contractor, it becomes very hard to earn that respect and faith back. In speaking with contractors, most have no problem with good competition, which yields competitive pricing and increased value. However, problems arise when consultants or contractors bite off more than they can chew. The consequences can negatively impact more than your company, but also the industry and your competition.

Smart Growth Means Smart Planning

While some may say that taking on bigger projects is the only way to grow a company, that growth needs to be tempered with good planning. It’s important to take the steps to grow a business and move up in the size of projects that consultants are undertaking, but if there is an obvious struggle to complete simple residential garages and trouble finding qualified labor to do that, how are you going to handle a large casino project with very tight time constraints and high demand for once-and-done application?

Know Your Crew

Before you start considering larger jobs, really get to know the abilities of your crew. If you find that your crew gets overwhelmed with fast-paced projects, bringing them out to projects on tight timelines may not be the best option. It’s common to see contractors struggle to keep crews focused when projects are difficult. Often, they end up not being productive or leave jobs altogether.

Since the industry is closely knit, a lot of contractors bring friends and kids to projects. The key is making sure they know how to work. Including friends and family on a job just to fill a body count can be counterproductive. Well-oiled crews that work together and know each other’s next move are efficient and effective. Another solution to finding a great crew is to consider teaming up with a contractor who may be able to handle a large project. If it’s your lead, you will be learning the ins and outs of handling a large project, giving you valuable experience to take on those projects by yourself in the future.

Mistakes Happen…Plan for Them

Every contractor has had a situation where bids don’t quite work out, or the work needs to be redone. Always try to bid the project so you can make money, but also cover a few unforeseen costs. Knowing that these will come up, and more importantly planning for them, can take a lot of stress off of the consultant or contractor. Instead of writing them off as a loss, consider them as a corporate investment.

Engage with Your Crew

Making a crew feel invested in the project is important. If concerns exist about damage, take the time to show the crew how to service equipment and give them the responsibility of fixing any broken equipment as soon as it breaks. The more time and effort you invest in educating your staff about cleanliness, organization and mindfulness, the greater the chance they will follow your lead. Also, have a formal equipment sign-out and hold crews responsible for bringing the equipment back.

No matter the size of your company, check equipment out with your staff every day and give the tools a thorough once-over to ensure they’re available and in proper working order. Some easy items to add to your crew engagement checklist include:

Educate them on a pattern of compliance, or they will never know what you mean about keeping equipment running.
Provide them with access to reps and/or maintenance companies, which can help maintain or repair equipment to create a sense of greater ownership and better stewardship of the tools and resources at their disposal.
Take time to show them how to organize their tools and to keep them in proper places.
Manage the equipment with quick visual checks to make sure everything is in its place.

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Customer Service Skills: The face of your business relies on the tone

Millennial customers today are like an entirely new category in their own light. Where previous generations prefer more one-on-one connection and personal relationships, young people today lean towards self-help solutions and fast-paced interactions.


The 4 Most Important Customer Service Skills to Master

Your business’ millennial customers today will bring about the next generation of confident and well-researched purchasers. In terms of customer service skills, and in our own experience, here are the top few that agents need to truly master before that next generation comes.


1. Professionalism The face of your business relies on the tone, grammar and writing style across digital ways of communication, as well as the professionalism and conciseness of any phone interaction.

Some rules for professionalism in email or chat customer service: no abbreviations or lingo, check your information, and definitely never be pushy or leading.
Being understanding, friendly, informative and quick to respond to any customer service interaction is the best way to remain professional and help a customer resolve any issues with lightning speed. When in doubt, one of the best ways to promote better professionalism is to craft standardized decision trees and agent scripts that follow your company’s voice and brand perfectly.


2. EmpathyEvery customer wants their issue to be understood and cared for. Customer service agents need to put themselves in the customers’ shoes and broaden their perspectives (and vocabularies, in some cases) to understand where the issue came from and how it can be resolved.
Everyone involved in a customer service interaction is a person — showing compassion and empathy in genuine ways for the problems they are facing, or relating on a more positive note, shows that you care and builds loyalty with the customer.


3. AssertivenessWith professionalism and empathy comes a need to be assertive in customer service situations. Now, we don’t mean aggressive — we mean being completely clear, confident and direct with the information provided and support offered. Taking control of a customer service interaction in a calm and helpful way by asking appropriate, direct questions will help guide support agents to the right conclusion far easier and faster, and the customer is much more likely to feel that the agent they spoke with is the right person for the job.


4. ExpertiseResearch shows the phone to be the most frustrating way to engage customer service.
Without your customer service agents fully mastering the ins and outs of your business and product or service offering, they’ll never feel 100% comfortable and confident helping customers, and in return, customers will be more frustrated.

Customer-facing agents should always be trained experts on every relevant inner working, allowing them to be more empowered to answer questions accurately and directly.

Are You Making These Customer Acquisition Mistakes?

Common customer mistakes:

The journey to the land of top-notch customer acquisition processes is riddled with twists and turns. And while customer acquisition is challenging, converting new business is vital to keeping a company profitable. Without customers, a company will not survive.

The right customer acquisition strategy should set your customers up for long-term success with your product and or services. However, companies often make decisions against their better judgements and wind up on the wrong path. If executed correctly, customer acquisition will enable you to reach your revenue goals in the near- and long-term. Here are common mistakes that emerge at customer acquisition and tips to avoid them to get on the path to success.

Your Customers Needs Don’t Come First

Do your customers see success with your product or services? Are they happy with the level of service they receive? If you answered ‘no’ to one or both of these questions, now is the time to go back to the drawing board. The needs of your prospects and customers should be the number one priority in your customer acquisition playbooks.

You’ve likely heard the phrase, you only get one shot at a good first impression. We’ve all received bad service in a business setting at least once in our lifetime. How did that experience make you feel? Did you solicit that business again? Or worse, did you post a disparaging review on your page or share your experience with family, friends, and colleagues? An accumulation of bad customer experiences can ruin your company’s reputation.

Bad impressions range from not having inventory to keep up with demand or a negative customer service experience.

You can prioritize the needs of your customers by: Creating a buyer persona to understand prospects and customers needs Investing in strong customer service or customer success teams

Ensuring in-field sales reps have a grasp on customer needs

Implementing a strong customer on boarding or training program

Including a FAQ section on your website or social media handle

Collecting customer surveys and feedback

Not Creating Return Customers

We all know it’s more cost-effective to keep a current customer than it is to attain a new one. In fact, a 5% increase in customer retention rates has the potential to increase profits by 25-95%. Many companies set a goal to gain repeat customers but fail to implement a proper strategy. Don’t fall into this trap.

To transform new customers into loyal brand advocates you need to think beyond the first sale or interaction. What are strategies to encourage a return visit or purchase? A personalised ‘thank you’ note or welcome email can work for some businesses. Offering discounts to entice a repeat purchase is another common tactic.

You’ll need to give customers a reason to come back or purchase again.

Here are a few tips to engage customers and to lower churn rates:
1. Focus on customer education by implementing customer training programs

2. Engage customers through email and direct mail nurture channels

3. Offer loyal customers incentives and rewards

Customer Service Skills That Really Matter

When it comes to customer service, listening skills help to build better relationships with customers, avoid misunderstandings, resolve conflicts and solve customer problems faster and more efficiently.

Customer service skills can actually make a huge difference between the average customer service agent and the one who is able to provide that WOW service your customers will remember and certainly appreciate.

While there are plenty of critical skills all customer-facing employees need to master, we would like to highlight two most essential of them, that will truly make you stand out and help you succeed with every support interaction.

 1. Active Listening

Listening is a master skill for personal and professional greatness. The best way to improve your listening skills is to practice ‘active listening’. It means making a conscious effort to hear not only what is being said, but also, more importantly, pay attention to what is left unsaid in order to understand the complete message being communicated.

How to develop active listening:

  1. Show that you are listening (eye contact, posture, smile etc.)

2. Be attentive, focused and relaxed

3. Keep an open mind with no judgement or mental criticising

4. Don’t interrupt – let them speak out

5. Wait for the customer to pause to ask clarifying questions

6. Give the customer regular feedback

7. Summarise to ensure understanding8. Pay attention to nonverbal cues

2. Clear Communication

Your ability to communicate is an important tool in your pursuit of your goals, whether it is with your family, your co-workers or your clients and customers. Needless to say, clear oral communication is a ‘must-have’ skill for everyone working in customer service. It implies using plain and proper language, no mumbling and grumbling, avoiding jargon and slang, maintaining proper tone of voice and being able to speak with confidence. But as digital technologies continue to take over customer service, written communication skills have become just as (or even more) important, especially for those service agents dealing with customers primarily over email, messengers, live chat or social media.

How to improve written communication:

  1. Write short sentences and short paragraphs that are easy to read

2. Make sure your message is clear, precise and relevant

3. Provide a complete response in one message

4. Look for potential misunderstandings and edit if necessary

5. Write in a friendly but professional tone

6. Use positive language and avoid negative phrases

7. Check your spelling and grammar using special tools8. Always proofread your message before sending it

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Is your social media customer service helping

Or is it hurting your customer experience?

Consumers who receive prompt responses through social media channels are more likely to remain brand loyal and provide word-of-mouth referrals. When implemented correctly, social media customer service encourages consumer spending, improves operational efficiency and increases organizational performance.

Customer inquiries on social are increasing. Twitter found, in recent research, that customer service conversations had increased by 2.5x in the past two years. Since it is social media, customers expect a fast response. Fast responses are an essential part of meeting customer expectations for social care.

When customers receive favourable service, advocacy increases. When companies engage and respond to customers over social, those customers spend 20-40% more with them.

Make Social Customer Service a Valuable Piece, companies that gets this right achieve the ultimate balance. They improve the customer experience while driving operational excellence, which translates into reduced costs.

But, a common mistake that many brands make with a social customer service program is to manage it as a soloed initiative. As a result, customers get frustrated and post negative comments about their experiences.

This is not good when 75% of consumers expect a consistent experience wherever they engage be it web, social media web or in person.

When social media is integrated with other channels, so data and insights are shared across the organization, brands can use these insights to tailor each interaction to improve the customer’s overall experience. Adding social media data into the mix only makes customer journeys richer. Building a comprehensive view into journeys helps brands understand, predict and address customer expectations.

Therefore, to have a truly omnichannel customer experience, it is vital that social customer service be a valuable component.

Meanwhile, omni-channel is defined as a multi-channel sales approach that provides the customer with an integrated customer experience. The customer can be shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, or by telephone, or in a bricks and mortar store and the experience would be seamless.

Implement Best Practices To Make Social Customer Service Stick.

Social Customer Service is a big deal. In fact, social customer service serves as an inflection point – it can determine whether a customer continues to do business or stops doing business with you!

The Quickest Magic in Service Recovery

Acting quickly, taking responsibility, making an empowered decision, and compensating the customer will result in customer loyalty that will increase your sales and profits and help to ensure your success in an increasingly competitive world.
In today’s fast-paced world we are needing service recovery in almost everywhere we go from the grocery store, to our banks (everyone has had a problem here), to our cable (very frustrating), to service providers at home and so on and so on. It’s frustrating and customers can vent their problems and dissatisfaction in person, on the phone, on the internet, and to their friends and family.
But, the exact opposite is true also if the magic of Service Recovery is used. Service recovery can have a major impact on an organization’s bottom line with word-of-mouth advertising as customers tell their family, friends, and coworkers about the exceptional service they received from your company. Including compliments and “Atta-boys” up on the internet, they recognize you and call you by name.
Service recovery is putting a smile on a customer’s face after you’ve screwed up. Now it may not be your fault, but it is your problem. How you handle those mistakes is what separates you from the rest of the pack and…keeps customers for life.
We have developed the following techniques for providing quality service recovery:
Act quickly.You must acknowledge the mistake within 60 seconds. That’s when the magic happens. The employee at the point of contact is the person in the best position to successfully implement service recovery.
Front-line employees should have the power to resolve more than 95 per cent of customer issues without having to pass the customer on to another person
Take responsibility.No matter who is at fault, you must own the mistake and sincerely apologize. Don’t place the blame on someone else; the customer doesn’t care whose fault it was, he merely wants it rectified.
It’s also important to thank the customer for pointing out the problem and for giving you the opportunity to correct it. It works like magic.
Be empowered.Employees aren’t making empowered decisions mainly because they’re afraid they’re going to be reprimanded, fired, or have to pay for whatever they give the customer.

Empowerment is the backbone of service recovery, and organizations that truly want to serve the customers and retain their business must not only allow, but insist, that employees bend and break the rules in order to keep those customers coming back. They are your magicians.
Compensate.Give away something that has high value and low cost. You must give the customer something of value, something that will impress the customer and give them the feeling that you really do value their business. Every company has something that doesn’t cost a lot but has value in the eyes of the customer.

Practice the magic every day when customers confront you with a situation or problem. No business can afford to lose customers, if only because it costs much more to replace a customer than it does to retain one – five times more.
Those that go out of their way to please customers and correct problems or screw-ups will soon have more customers than their competition. 
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Customer Mission Statement: Put The Customer At The Center Of What You Do


The customer should never be an afterthought. Your customer’s requirements and needs should be at the core of everything that your business does, so always work in this way, thinking first and foremost of your customers rather than what you perceive the business needs. That is the same with your marketing approach: it should be about how to engage with your target audience.
Putting customer firstThe fact is, users, understand when they have been put first, and understand very well when they have not. If you value what your customers think and say about you, and want to build repeat business, it is essential that you are recognized as a business that has a customer focus, which means everything from great customer service, to doing everything possible to fix things if and when they don’t work out (which happens).
Don’t Make Promises You Can’t Keep
It is imperative that you deliver on your promises, every single time. A broken promise cannot be recovered from, so just don’t do it. What kind of promises can you make?
Well, you can promise to always put the customer first, and work to this end, but you may not be able to promise that you always deliver the best price, because there is always someone somewhere who may undercut you.
Be realistic in what you promise: customers are experts at spotting an empty promise from a mile away,” says Russell Gomes, a marketing analyst at Write My X and Brit Student.
Deliver With ConsistencyOne central aspect of good customer experience is being consistent in how you deliver. What customers want to see is an approach that they can become familiar with and rely upon.
No one likes surprises when it comes to business, and so prevent these from occurring by having a well-defined and trained approach to delivering on customer experience. That means defining roles and responsibilities from the very beginning, and training staff to work to that end, with a series of checks in place which prevents anything falling between the cracks.
Regularly Audit Your Customer Service Experience
The secret shopper approach is a popular means of gathering valuable feedback on customer experience, and is employed by hotels and restaurants around the world. It’s a tried-and-tested approach, but is by no means the only one when it comes to auditing your customer experience.
Regularly auditing and testing ensures that the systems you have put in place are working as seamlessly as possible, and tweaks can be made where necessary. Once again, this is all about having the commitment to deliver fantastic customer service.
Invest In Your StaffThis point has already been touched upon in the form of training, which is certainly an essential ingredient for delivering great customer experience. However, it is certainly not the only element.

 A staff member who feels valued, rewarded and motivated is much more likely to deliver the levels of customer service that you desire.
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Implement Best Practices To Make Social Customer Service Stick

Respond immediately

The reality is social media implies immediacy, and customers expect brands to respond immediately. In fact, Facebook Pages show a company’s response times to resolve issues.  Brands need to respond in minutes. Social customer service isn’t only about solving problems; it’s also an opportunity to connect authentically, engage, and leave a lasting positive impression that will drive loyalty. In fact, 71% of customers who have a positive social media service experience are likely to recommend that brand.

Be consistent.

Consistency is one of the most important things to providing a great experience. It builds trust. It illustrates what customers can come to expect from a brand. Consistency also drives retention, loyalty, and advocacy, and helps you acquire new customers in the process.

Personalize the experience.

According to Accenture, 81% of consumers want brands to understand them better. Being authentic and showing empathy creates experiences that drive loyalty. You’ll be able to connect and engage on a deeper, more personal level and customers will leave feeling happy.

Be proactive.

Social customer service isn’t only about resolving issues timely and effectively. It’s also about anticipating needs and acting accordingly. And that means regularly monitoring customer activities on social media to determine when it’s appropriate to engage with a customer or alert other employees to get involved.

It also provides an excellent opportunity to obtain customer feedback, encourages customers to share their experiences with their social networks or offer additional tools to help customers be more successful. Brands should always be on the lookout for opportunities to drive customer value.

Share insights with other organizational teams.

The information you obtain from engaging with customers is vital to be able to improve the customer experience. Thus, you should share insights with other stakeholders so these insights can be acted on and improvements to existing processes can be made to enhance customers’ experiences.

Measure and monitor.

Measure the social customer service you’re providing through such metrics as CSAT, CES, NPS, and others. Be methodical. Know the KPI’s you need to achieve your desired outcomes. It’s important not only to measure but also to monitor and analyze trends so you can make improvements to enhance a customer’s experience.

Bringing it all Together

Providing an excellent customer experience is a must. Including social customer service in the mix will help brands create experiences customers expect. Social Customer Service will help brands shape conversations by engaging customers before and after purchase to drive customer lifetime value.

Job brief for a customer service representative

The following are duties and responsibilities for a customer service representative: 

A customer service representative, or CSR, will act as a liaison, provide product/services information and resolve any emerging problems that our customer accounts might face with accuracy and efficiency.

  • Managing incoming calls and customer service inquiries
  • Generating sales leads that develop into new customers
  • Identifying and assessing customers’ needs to achieve satisfaction

The best CSRs are genuinely excited to help customers. They’re patient, empathetic, and passionately communicative. They love to talk. Customer service representatives can put themselves in their customers’ shoes and advocate for them when necessary. Customer feedback is priceless, and these CSRs can gather that for you. Problem-solving also comes naturally to customer care specialists. They are confident at troubleshooting and investigate if they don’t have enough information to resolve customer complaints.
The target is to ensure excellent service standards, respond efficiently to customer inquiries and maintain high customer satisfaction.

Responsibilities

Customer Service Responsibilities list:

  • Manage large amounts of incoming calls
  • Generate sales leads
  • Identify and assess customers’ needs to achieve satisfaction
  • Build sustainable relationships and trust with customer accounts through open and interactive communication
  • Provide accurate, valid and complete information by using the right methods/tools
  • Meet personal/customer service team sales targets and call handling quotas
  • Handle customer complaints, provide appropriate solutions and alternatives within the time limits; follow up to ensure resolution
  • Keep records of customer interactions, process customer accounts and file documents
  • Follow communication procedures, guidelines and policies
  • Take the extra mile to engage customers

Requirements

  • 1. Proven customer support experience or experience as a client service representative
  • 2. Track record of over-achieving quota
  • 3. Strong phone contact handling skills and active listening
  • 4. Familiarity with CRM systems and practices
  • 5. Customer orientation and ability to adapt/respond to different types of characters
  • 6. Excellent communication and presentation skills
  • 7. Ability to multi-task, prioritize, and manage time effectively.

If You Don’t Take Care of Your Customers, Someone Else Will

Why you have to care for your customers

The basic truth is, to be successful in sales you need to be a Jack of all trades and a Master of looking after your customers, else, you will realise that, other outlet will take your customers away from you. So there is a HUGE financial link between high levels of customer satisfaction and the bottom line of a company.
 For example,  if a company eliminates just four representatives in a call center of about 36 agents (that’s about a 10% layoff), the number of customers put on hold for four minutes will increase from 0 to 80.  

Understand the following and work on the lapses if you are on this table: 

  • 90% of customers dissatisfied with the service they receive will not come back or buy again.
  • Only 4% of unhappy customers bother to complain.  For every complaint we hear, however, 24 others go un-communicated to the company.  Imagine that.  So, in theory, if you have 10 complaints in a month, that means that potentially 240 customers also have complaints but just didn’t share them with you.  But they did share them with others…
  • Unhappy customers tell his or her story to at least nine other people.  That’s not the “word of mouth” you want about your organization.  And with today’s social media, I think the number is growing.
  • Of the customers who register a complaint, between 54-70% will do business again with the organization if the complaint is resolved.  That number goes up to 95% if the customer feels the complaint was resolved quickly.  This is commonly referred to as “service recovery”: we all make mistakes, but it’s how quickly and thoroughly a company resolves those mistakes that determines whether a customer will remain loyal and engaged.
  • 68% of customers who quit doing business with an organization do so because of company indifference.  In other words, if you don’t respond and/or resolve a customer-related issue, your customers perceive that as not caring about their business.  And it takes 12 positive incidents to make up for one negative incident in the eyes of customers.

The following are the possible way out:

  • Develop listening and learning approaches to capture the voice of the customer.  We need a way to hear – and understand – their needs, expectations, and requirements, not just of the products and services they are buying but how they prefer to buy them…the whole customer experience pre-, during, and post-sale.
  • Consider the touchpoints you have with your customers – the phone calls, the face-to-face interactions, the emails, and so forth.  And then proactively think about how you can create positive interactions – experiences that satisfy or exceed customers’ expectations.  Consider doing this in a team or department meeting to get everyone on the same page and exchange ideas for better service touchpoints.
  • Identify processes that touch the customer – ordering processes, inquiry processes (like call/contact centers and your website), complaint and suggestion processes, physical space (your lobby, your “store”), and certainly service/product delivery processes – and ensure that each of these customer-facing processes is designed to ensure more service “deposits” than “withdrawals.”  Then,
  • Focus on your workers: train your staff to ensure that they have the skills and tools necessary to serve customers, internal and external.  Cross-train employees so they can step up to fill a variety of needs, which also gives you capacity and flexibility in your staffing model.
  • Reward staff for their good customer service (and for service recovery).

These tips don’t only apply to retail, service-oriented businesses.  They apply to manufacturers, schools, healthcare providers, non-profit and governmental agencies.  Remember, 90% of dissatisfied customers won’t come back: so there is a huge financial return for those organizations which truly focus on customers rather than just talk about customer service.