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What kind of image do you present when marketing your products? Are you professional and well organized or does your store/site/whatever scream, "sloppy!," to those who matter the most: your customers? Let's see how one leading retailer is winning the sales war, but losing an important battle: cleanliness.

We Sell For Less and Our Stores Are a Mess!

We Sell For Less and Our Stores Are a Mess!What kind of image do you present when marketing your products? Are you professional and well organized or does your store/site/whatever scream, "sloppy!," to those who matter the most: your customers? Let's see how one leading retailer is winning the sales war, but losing an important battle: store organization.WalMart is dominant in so many categories with the various products that they sell. In 50 years the company has gone from a local player to a world powerhouse and is on track to expand throughout the land of the largest consumer market in the world, China.As much as WalMart is conquering new horizons and dominating the American landscape, one problem is arising: their stores are a mess. Visit your local WalMart store at any given time and you will find throngs of shoppers but few workers. Most workers are busy at the front end of the store ringing up sales, while others are scattered throughout the store putting up stock. Why is this a problem? Quite frankly, WalMart is a victim of its own success. Stock turns over so fast, that the store must replenish during peak store hours in order to keep everything on hand. A good problem to have, right? Not if you are a customer who wants something and you cannot navigate aisles to find what you need as boxes of stock partially block you out. WalMart's chief competitor, Target, seems to have gotten it right. Their stores are neat; the signs to help you find various sections are big, bold, and color coordinated; and stock replenishment does not take over the aisles. On the other hand, KMart was once an industry powerhouse and many of their stores are old and disheveled. More importantly, KMart is now an "also ran" as other retailers -- including WalMart -- have presented a better place to shop for customers.As much as price is a driving factor in winning the sales war, store organization and cleanliness can eventually undermine sales as customers are turned off by a messy environment and choose to go to your competitor. While many customers will accept a lower level of customer service [less floor help available, for example], clutter will drive them away faster than low prices will pull them in. You can tout, "Always low prices, always" in your motto, but your customers will flee if they find your store to be disorganized. Competitors wait in the wings to grab what you will lose: can you afford the loss of sales?

Four Sure-Fire Ways to Keep Your Customers Happy

Four Sure-Fire Ways to Keep Your Customers Happy

How much value do you place on your customers? Let's face it...without customers you have no sales...no profit...no business. Yeah, they're the keyplayers in the marketing game. In other words, wise marketers keep their finger on the pulse of their clientelle. The know what makes them tick and how to keep them coming back time and time again. Here are a four ways you can keep your customer's happy and loyal.Make Customer Satisfaction # 1Hey, forget about how many sales you make in a day, and look at how many customers you satisfied today! Every satisfied client means repeat sales. Yep, it might be a product that they purchase over and over again, or it may mean different products they pick up every time they walk through the doors. Heck, it might mean both repeat products and added impulse products as well.Happy customers talk to their friends, and friends trust what their friends have to say about a business. Yep, even though it's an opinion...they'll take it as the gospel and set a lot of stock in it. Keep your customers saying good things about your products and services...it'll pay off.Deliver...Don't Promise More Than You Can HandleNo one likes to be let down. Yeah, that means your customers will be happier if you promise less, but deliver more. Think about this...happy customers tell 3 of their friends about you, but disappointed customers gripe to 11 friends about what you didn't do right. Yep, it pays to keep your word!What about those unhappy clients? Deal with them as quickly as possible and do what it takes to keep them happy. Yeah, you might lose a little profit today, but think of it like this...if you keep them on your side they'll come back again and again - and so will their friends.Keep an Element of Surprise AliveHave you ever gone shopping and at the counter discovered the item you purchased was on sale? Yeah, it feels great to save money you weren't expecting to save! Along with your advertised sales, slip in some unadvertised specials. Your customers will look forward to the unexpected savings they encounter at the cash register.Think about this...would you rather shop at the new store across town where the clerks are unfriendly and you're not sure of the quality of the product when you've already got a good thing going on somewhere else? We all have a zone of comfort and are creatures of habit. When your customers are in the habit of smiling every time they walk out of your door, they'll be less likely to experiment with an uncertain competitor.Tell Your Customers You Appreciate Their BusinessWe all enjoy the warm fuzzy feeling that comes with being appreciated. Yep, a smile...a thank you...a pat on the back...they all leave us feeling great. How can you send your customers out of the store with the knowledge that they are valuable to you? Just say it...I appreciate your business! Say it with a special sale...by letting them in on a new product or service your are adding just for them...or simply with a smile and heartfelt thanks.Think about this...how do you feel when you know your opinion counts? Yeah, we all like to think people respect our thoughts and ideas. When your customers know you put a lot of stock in what they think of your business, they'll be more likely to talk it up to their friends and family. Reward them every time they share their opinion about your business. Set up a special referral reward program and watch the news travel.Invest in your customers...the dividends are great!

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9 Steps for Coaching Call Center Agents

9 Steps for Coaching Call Center Agents

The call record method is, in my opinion, one of the best approaches to coaching agent phone calls and ensuring quality. Heres a 9-step plan for effectively coaching call center agent phone calls: 1. Randomly record 2 3 telephone calls. Random recording is important. Do not record 3 calls back to back or on the same day, as your employee may be having a bad day and this may be reflected in all of one afternoons calls, but is not necessarily reflective of their typical performance. 2. Review the calls and note strengths and opportunities. Before meeting with your employee, listen to the calls and note what they did well and identify 1 2 opportunities for performance improvement. 3. Play one tape and let your employee listen. During the playing of the tape, you do not need to respond. 4. Have your employee respond to the tape. After the tape is played, ask your employee to respond. Most employees will be overly self-critical. Your employee will likely note many opportunities for improvement and struggle to articulate what theyve done well. 5. Coach the call. Use the sandwich approach. Tell your employee what s/he did well, followed by constructive feedback, and then end with positive feedback. When offering constructive feedback, share only one opportunity for improvement. The employee has likely observed and stated several improvement opportunities so there is no need to bring these up again Try to mention one thin g the employee did not bring up and offer this as your constructive feedback. 6. Gain commitment for performance improvement. Ask the employee, What specific steps will you take over the next 5 days to improve in this area? Write down what the employee states and repeat it to her. Summarize the session by reiterating strengths and offering a vote of confidence that she can improve in the identified area. 7. Repeat steps 2 6 with a second and perhaps third tape if necessary. The point of numerous recording is that an employee may respond defensively stating that was just a bad call. If that is the response, you may choose to review a second or third tape. 8. Follow-up before the next agent coaching session. Check with your employee in between coaching sessions to keep the commitment top of mind. You can touch base with your employee via email or a personal conversation. 9. Discuss improvement in next coaching session. Before listening to calls in the next coaching session, ask your employee how shes progressing toward the goal of the last session. Look for improvement on calls reviewed in this session. This 9-step call center agent coaching model is simple, clear and it both praises employees and offers support for improvement opportunities. When you follow this 9-step process, you will set clear performance expectations, coach effectively and consistently and at the same time you will be motivating your employees.

Christian Services: Service or Using Others?

I know a good Christian lady who cuts hair for a living. Thats her occupation. Thats how she makes a living. She is very good at it. Why is it that when Christians come to her shop they expect a discount just because they go to the same Church that she attends? There are some who refer to this practice as a believer discount. Now I am not opposed to finding discounts and deals, but not at someone elses expense. If someone decides that they want to give me a haircut at no charge, or half price, out of love, then thats fine. But to just expect that Christian businesses are supposed to give discounts to all the brothers and sisters is not love. Its actually an indication of a poverty mind set. Ill explain that later.For me to think that my Christian brothers and sisters are obligated to give me a cheaper price is selfish and it takes money away from them. Suppose you couldnt find a Christian for the service or product you needed? What would you do? You would end up paying someone the price they charged. I know some Christians who are very good at doing car repairs and some of them even do it as a business. And hardly a week or two goes by that another Christian asks them for help in fixing their car, expecting to pay little or nothing for services rendered. That is very selfish and, again, an indication of a poverty mentality.Heres a startling thought: pay your Christian brother or sister more than they normally charge! Now thats a concept that has love written all over it. Why would you do that? First of all it is indeed a blessing to have a Christian provide a service or a product. If they operate their business with integrity and love, that love will have an impact on my life. Secondly, by believing Gods promises of abundance you can go over and beyond and give more to the person who is providing you the service or product. That increases their prosperity. But, if you have a poverty mentality, you are always looking for someone to charge you less for everything and expecting any Christian to give you a discount. Why not believe Gods promises of prosperity, receive His abundance, and then share that abundance with others?Now I would rather pay a Christian for a product or service, but there is another side to this coin. Just because I am a Christian does that mean I have to find another Christian to provide my products and services? Suppose I know a Christian who could get the job done, but not with the quality I require? Am I obligated to hire a Christian anyway and then have inferior work done? Some say that would be the Christian thing to do. I say, No. If I hire you to fix my car I am expecting you to know what you are doing and to do it right the first time. If that doesnt happen then I have wasted the money God gave me to steward, not to mention the time that I have lost. Perhaps the Christian thing to do would be to be honest and tell someone that their work is not the quality that it could be. Instead of feeling obligated to hire them, why not give them some money so that they can get the training they need so they can do quality work? Feeling sorry for someone and then having them do a job that they or someone else will need to re-do it is not helping my brother or sister.As a final thought, why shouldnt Christian businesses be the best businesses on the face of the earth? That takes a lot more than just having a Christian sounding name. It means quality work. It means integrity and honesty. It means operating biblical principles of giving more value. Having a Christian business reflects back on our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. As a matter of fact, whether we own a business or are simply employed by someone, the Christian thing to do is to work heartily, ethically, and honestly with the love of God. Our light should so shine that everybody, Christians and non-Christians alike want our products and services.

6 Tips for Keeping Your Cool When Customers Get Hot

1. Be assertive - not aggressive or passive. My definition of assertion is simple: "Say what you mean, mean what you say, and don't be mean when you say it." Let this rule guide your conversations with all customers and you will always be confident, cool, and in control AND you'll always be professional. 2. Speak more slowly. You'll be amazed at how much more clearly you can think and how much control and confidence you experience when you consciously slow down your rate of speech. Speak slowly and methodically when your emotional triggers are launched and you'll maintain poise during difficult conversations. 3. Wait 1-2 seconds before responding. Responding immediately to difficult or tactical customers could result in you saying something you'll later regret. Before you respond, take a deep breath, wait at least 2 seconds, and think about the best response and the best approach. 4. Take a time-out. When you sense that your buttons have been pushed, take a break. You can tell the customer you need to put him on hold while you review a file, or whatever excuse sounds good at the time. The point is to get away from the customer for a few seconds so you can re-group. 5. Use positive self-talk. I'm going to sound like Dr. Phil on this one, but I'm quite serious. Instead of saying to yourself, "I don't get paid enough to put up with this ____." Say something more positive like "This guy really needs my help." Thinking more positively helps you respond more positively and professionally. Negative thoughts lead to negative words, and it spirals into a very negative situation. 6. Show your power before you use it. Often, a subtle suggestion of your "power" is far more effective than the outright use of your power. As a customer service professional you may have the power to terminate a phone call. You could say to your customer: "If you don't stop yelling, I will terminate this call." But, believe it or not, you are far more "powerful" if you say, "I want to help you, but when you yell and cut me off, you make it difficult for me to work with you." The latter statement demonstrates your power and your message most definitely gets across. The former statement uses up all of your ammunition and won't usually diffuse an irate customer. These incredibly simple tips will position you to keep your cool when customers get hot!

Summary

What kind of image do you present when marketing your products? Are you professional and well organized or does your store/site/whatever scream, "sloppy!," to those who matter the most: your customers? Let's see how one leading retailer is winning the sales war, but losing an important battle: cleanliness.