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Customer Service Is Not a Marketing Strategy

cus. serv.A few weeks ago as I sat down to put my marketing plan into place for my business for 2013 I started to look at the services I was offering and what it meant to my customers.  I was looking for that angle that would help me differentiate my business from my competitors.  I thought about my existing customers and what they have wrote about my business in the past or just what many of them said to me in the course of our conversations and decided they all said the same thing,

 

their customers were getting excellent service and they had peace of mind, so when I put my marketing campaign together I had many different campaigns all ready to go, and all had the same message, we give excellent customer service.

Then I started looking at some of my competitor’s and guess what? They all had the same thing!  I subsequently ended up spending some time doing  research and I came up with a startling revelation!  Many different businesses out there are sending the same message!  So I thought to myself are we all lacking in that creativity to come up with something unique to sell our business, and as such is the phrase or variations of the phrase “we offer great customer service”  a point to differentiate ourselves from our competitors.  Well guess what?  It’s not.

These kinds of statements are so overused; they are the marketing equivalent of wallpaper, i.e. they are designed to be ignored.  Everybody claims to serve customers well, but not all companies actually do.  So not only do you have an identical point of difference, with your competitors, well….nobody believes you!

Great service is defined by the person receiving the service, not the server. Two people may experience the same service, and one will walk away totally captivated while the other is completely underwhelmed.  So what one person considers being pushy another person might consider attentive.

In fact, the business is the only entity that should never claim to offer great customer service; this can only work if others put that label on you. The moment you claim it yourself, you come off sounding desperate — or just boring.

 So what do we do about it?

Find something that meets two criteria: (1) it makes you unique, and (2) customers care about it.

It’s true that customers care about the service they get, but because everyone claims great service and there is no universal agreement on what it looks like, it’s not differentiating. To find a point of differentiation, you need to go a level deeper. Ask yourself what you do in tangible, concrete terms that make your service better than your competitors’. For example:

Enterprise Rent-A-Car does not claim to provide “great customer service;” it offers to “come and pick you up,” which is a concrete and tangible way it differentiates its service level from that of Hertz.

In a crowded hyper-competitive market, it may be something very small and subtle that makes you unique. That’s OK, as long as it is truly yours and your customers care. For example, if you ask a staff member at a Ritz-Carlton Hotel for directions, he will not point toward your destination; he will accompany you there. Guests — often late and lost in a new city — tell friends about the Ritz because of the experience they receive, not because the hotel talks about great service.

So stop saying you offer great customer service. It’s not doing you any favors. Figure out what it is about your service — in concrete, tangible terms — that customers value and start talking about that.

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Why choose a Virtual Office?

Today business people need a smart efficient solution that will not only give their business a professional image and the tools to focus on increasing their bottom line rather than having to worry about the day to day running of an office. So the concept of virtual offices is fast becoming a worldwide phenomenon and that Holy Grail solution that businesspeople have been searching for.

For businesses and entrepreneurs setting up an office can take months, plus there’s the costs of hiring staff, finding furniture and that complicated task of trying to work out the hassle of setting up the internet, telephone and other technology.  Not to mention the task and cost of training the new staff. By signing up for a Virtual Office clients can skip all this and are literally ready within minutes to focus on making their business a success.

The opportunities with the Virtual Office are what can set your business apart from the rest. Whether it’s a local business you’re running or are looking to expand your business nationally or even gain access to an international market, business people can have a local address, local phone number, local support team and a professional presence in any market!

For help to focus on making your business a success why not contact us at the Virtual Office to see how we can give you your very own professional presence that will set you apart from your competition, e-mail Samantha: info@virtualoffices.ie or contact us on 051 351286

Unlocking the Secret to Great Customer Service

Do we really guarantee Customer Satisfaction?

Two years ago, I went to a trade show at the NEC in Birmingham. A friend kindly gave me her apartment to stay in, along with the use of her car.  She was gone on holidays so it suited her to do so.   Whilst at the trade show we were given some very good presentations on various aspects of business and proper customer service etiquette which was all very compelling and  inspiring stuff.

But as good as these presentations were, they didn’t show me anything different about  customer services, that I really didn’t know already.

I learned about excellent customer service from a set of car keys. And a lady called Sarah.

Minutes before I was due to fly home, I realised that I had my friend’s car keys in my handbag. I had to get on the plane – it was the last one flying to Ireland that day, I panicked I couldn’t leave my friend without the use of her car!  I raced frantically through my options and spotted an airport information booth. I ran up to it and through gasps of breath  explained to the woman behind the glass that I needed to find somewhere safe to leave my friend’s keys and still make my plane.

“Here,” she said, immediately extending her hand. “Give them to me. Here’s my name, and mobile phone number.  Call your friend and explain where the keys are.”

I was floored.

It’s the easiest and the quickest way” she replied, “all it needs is someone to take responsibility for the problem.”

That was it! All it needed was someone to take responsibility for the problem!  That’s all you need for great customer service. Not a huge presentation or a huge viral video. Just the willingness of a lady, who was Employee of the Century as far as I was concerned.  It’s a lesson that all business owners and their staff can benefit from.  When my plane arrived in Dublin, I immediately rang Inter Flora to arrange for a bouquet of flowers to be sent to my lifeline.

Believe it or not, 80% of companies think they have good service, but only 8% of their customers agree (this is according to a survey prepared by Business Management Ltd.).

When a customer comes to you, they have a problem they need you to solve. You can decide to take ownership of the next problem that lands in your lap, whether it’s from a client, a colleague, or just a frazzled,  crazy lady.

It may not revolutionize your business. But at the very least, it might inspire a grateful stranger to send you flowers.

To see if we can help you to increase your customer service level to your clients why not contact The Virtual Office on 051 351286 or email us at info@virtualoffices.ie

Effective Time Management Strategies

Do you wish that you had more hours in your day? Does your to-do list keep getting bigger instead of smaller? Is your desk covered in clutter? Are you working longer hours, yet still not getting enough done?

It’s easy to feel that time is running away on us. When that happens, we can feel stressed. We talk about our heads being fried, or about to explode. And in the end, our work and family life suffers.

Why do we find it so difficult to manage our time? A lot of the time, we take too much on. We find it hard to say no when people ask us to do something and we don’t delegate jobs to our staff and colleagues. We allow ourselves to be distracted by things happening around us. And when we have a difficult job to do, it’s easy to put it off, which makes it even harder to start.

When it comes to managing your time, attitude is everything. Better time management starts with a decision to make a change. It’s a kind of mind makeover. And it starts with a bit of tough talking, admitting to yourself that your habits are causing you to waste time and need to be changed. And that it’s time for the excuses to stop.

Next, you need to think about what changes you can make to take your business to the next level. It’ll mean leaving your comfort zone, but if you can embrace those changes, you’ll really feel the benefits. Here are some examples of a few simple changes that have worked for us.

Write it down. Write a list of all the jobs you will need to do, in the short, medium and long term. Once you have a handle on what’s ahead of you, your mind will feel clearer.

Prioritise. Go through your list and decide which tasks are most urgent and important. Set yourself a date for when it will be achieved, whether it’s today, this week, this month or even this year. And keep your eye on those goals. If anyone distracts you from them, learn to say a polite no.

Be realistic. Arrange your schedule in a way that fits your business and lifestyle. Recognise that it won’t be possible to get everything done and resist the temptation to cram your timetable. That way, if unexpected challenges crop up, you’ll have the flexibility to deal with them.

Limit Distractions. Keep concentrating on what you need to do and learn to shut out excess noise. Resist the urge to keep checking emails and Facebook and answer the phone. Handle email, social media and phone calls in batches.

Delegate. It’s tempting to think you can do things faster yourself. But a few extra minutes spent explaining a job to a member of staff will save you hours in the long run. You can give them the routine jobs, while you get on with the major tasks.

The Virtual Office can save you time. Find out how by calling 051 351286.

8 Tips for Remaining Motivated in your Business

Even the most motivated of business people find it difficult to stay motivated all the time. We can sometimes get so low that even the thought of trying to be positive makes us even more unmotivated, which can lead us into a spiral of negativity. When you feel like this, there are small changes you can make to get you back on that road of success.

1. Focus on one thing at a time Doing too much can eat up your energy and consequently your motivation. It is difficult to concentrate only on one thing at a time, we often take on too much or there are constant distractions. Remember energy and focus are the two essential ingredients for achieving any goal.

2. Create excitement about your goals Think about what you would feel like when you have accomplished a goal (a reasonably big goal) this will create more momentum into your actions and of course increase your motivation. Visualization of your achievement can also help to increase feelings of motivation and excitement.

3. Write down your goal. Don’t only write it down, put the written goal in a place that you will see many times a day – it is a bit like an affirmation. A good place would be up on your wall in the office. You should try to create constant reminders about your goal, in order to stay focused and to sustain that excitement.

4. Make a public statement. We tend to want avoid looking bad in front of other people. We are more likely to keep to what we say when we have told several people. A good place to announce your goals is on Facebook – Your associates are sure to ask you about it and take interest in your progress. It is difficult to back down when everyone is talking about it. This way you can keep everyone up to date with updates about how you are doing.

5. Do Something Everyday Even if you don’t feel motivated, sometimes doing something actually puts you in the mood, even by outsourcing some of the work it can feel like you’ve made a step in the right direction. I am sure you have had times when you have not been hungry, but started to eat anyway only to find you got the appetite through eating. It is often the way with work, get into the routine of doing something for your goal everyday and you will get the motivation by seeing the goal gradually develop.

6. Get support. Find others who have the same goal as you, join an online forum.

7. Accept the ups and the downs. Motivation is the same as every other feeling, it comes and it goes. You can do a lot to keep the motivation up, and accepting the times when you are unmotivated will prevent the pressure and the unrealistic expectations. Accepting that you will have times when you feel unmotivated, will help to keep up the motivation. Just do some of the techniques mentioned and the motivation will come back.

8. Persistence is the key Keep on working on your goal and stay with it. I am not saying that you should stay with the goal if you find that it is better to take a different road but don’t give up. Be flexible but continue, challenges are there to test you. Even if you are feeling unmotivated, focus on the next step and don’t give up.

If necessary don’t be afraid to ask for help, that’s where our services come in, you can contact The Virtual Office and see how we can help you to reach your business goals.

WHAT CAN I DO TO GET ORGANISED?

“WHAT CAN I DO TO GET ORGANISED?”

For months, a friend of mine would toss out that hypothetical question in the course of conversation. It was often uttered in an emotionally charged verbal volley of all the ‘To Do’ list items that perpetually plagued this person.  Whenever she’d finish, I’d give a knowing nod; after all, everybody’s busy!!

After the umpteenth hypothetical howling on the topic of “how to get organized,” I finally decided to offer more than a knowing nod.  It’d become clear to me that this successful individual was not succeeding at conquering the issue.  I lightly offered a real answer to her hypothetical question.

“Hire a virtual assistant.”

This friend didn’t take my response seriously at first.  Like so many people, she had some preconceived notions and misperceptions about the whole hiring prospect.  “I can’t afford that.”  “Well, I’m busy, but not that busy.”  “I should be able to overcome this on my own when things slow down.”  “I’d feel awkward having an assistant.” “I don’t have time to try to find the right person, let alone train them.”

Of course, being an authority on The Virtual Office market, and, as she rapidly fired those “but,I can’t,” or “I don’t” theories, I responded with immediate answers to explain how she could and should afford to hire the reliable help of a virtual assistant.  I explained that virtual assistance services are surprisingly affordable and that companies like The Virtual Office do the heavy lifting in terms of hiring-equipping-training.  I also told her that having assistance would not only help her with immediate organizational needs, it would open up the chance for forward-thinking, proactive possibilities.

“Once you get out from under the work pile,

you can start to think ahead.”

I’d love to report that this friend was immediately motivated to call The Virtual Office and get the assistance she clearly needs and has since conquered her issue of getting organized.  However, in the time since our conversation, she’s actually stated that she’d love to check into getting an assistant if she could just find the time to visit www.virtualoffices.ie.  The fact is she’ll have to take the first step on her own.  She’ll have to decide that it’s not okay to be so busy that she feels buried.  The ball is in her court, and now she knows she has options.

What about you?  Do you find yourself repeating the same questions over the same frustrations?  Would you like help but feel it’s too costly or not for you?  Put down your To Do list and visit www.virtualoffices.ie right now.  Take the five minutes you were about to lose fussing over what needs to be done that you don’t have time to do, and learn about your options for getting real, professional, change-your-work-a-day world solutions.  Real people like you are tapping into virtual staffing solutions every day.

Get out from under that pile of ‘to do’s’, so you can look ahead.