Customer Service Goof: Communication is Critical

Have you ever been surprised when you received your bill at a restaurant? That’s what happened to me.

Friday night I went out to dinner with my husband and a friend at a local restaurant. It was crowded and we had a 20 minute wait for an outside table, so we sat at the bar and ordered drinks.

We ordered a round of drinks and before leaving for our table, I ordered a second glass of wine. When I checked the bill, I had been charged $2 more for the second glass of wine. When I questioned the bartender, he said they had run out of the original wine and had replaced it with a different one.

My response, “So I have to pay $2 extra because you ran out of my wine?” His response, “We run out of stuff all the time so we have to do it, sorry.”

I paid the bill and tipped him. It wasn’t his fault That is what we had been told by his manager.

For you business consultants or customers, what’s wrong with this picture?

1. They run out of items all the time. Perhaps a better inventory system needs to be put in place.

2. They didn’t ask me before making a more expensive substitution.

3. I had to look at the check to find the difference. Looking at a check and realizing you have been charged more than you thought you were going to be charged is never a good thing.

Had the bartender taken one moment to tell me about the $2 difference before pouring the wine, I would have been fine. I would not be writing this blog and I would not have a slightly negative feeling about an overall very pleasant evening.

What is something you can do in one minute that could change a customer’s experience for the better? Communication can make all the difference.

If you need help with your business’ marketing, contact me at kparis@itsallgeek2me.org

What Can a Small Business Owner Learn From an Ice Skater?

When my daughter was young, we used to watch ice skating all the time. She liked the beautiful costumes, pretty music and young girls, not much older than herself, who were in the spotlight.

Of course I liked all those things, but what I really loved was the lessons that ice skating teaches.ice skater

Sometimes a performance would be perfect and would go off without a flaw, but more often than not, there was a mistake. It might be a little mistake that no one else but the judges would notice, sometimes it was a huge face plant.

A beautiful, graceful ice skater would go up for a jump, come down on their rear end and slide across the ice. The music was still playing as they picked themselves up, caught up with the music and kept on skating and smiling. Sometimes at the end of the performance you could see their facade crack, but rarely did anyone cry, at least not in public.

I see this as a metaphor for life and business. I have been a business woman for more years than I care to admit. Sometimes, my mistakes have been a little bobble. A missed meeting or deadline, a misspelling on a social media post or forgetting someone’s name during a networking event. The little things that you can cover up from everyone except the judges.

Other times, I have a had huge face plant right on the ice. You know what I mean. The kind of mistake that makes you want to go home and hide or cry or give up.

As a business owner, these falls can happen at anytime. No business is immune. Especially with social media. A small error can be videoed and played over and over. In the past it would have gone unnoticed, but now it’s gone viral.

So think like an ice skater.

1. Prepare like crazy. Ice skaters always know their next step because of all their practice. Check out social media and see what types of things have tripped up other businesses especially your competitors. A bad review or a negative comment on social media. See how that business handled the situation. What did you think about the way they handled it? How would you have handled it differently/

2. Stand up and catch up with the music. Most times you can’t simply ignore the issue. You need to deal with it. Many times owners simply want to delete negative comments, but I encourage them not to do that. My advice is to give the person making the negative comment a way to discuss their concern offline through a company email address. (I draw the line if comments use foul language, disparage an individual or a group of individuals. Those comments always get deleted.

3.  After you recover from your fall, move forward. Don’t dwell on the situation, concentrate on the future. When a reporter asks the skater, “How did you feel when you fell on your face and lost any chance of winning,” the skater always has an answer with a positive spin. “I’ll do better next time.” “I need to practice that spin more.” For a business owner, it might be, “We apologize and will do better to provide better service in the future.”

So the next time someone in your house turns on an ice skating competition, don’t immediately turn it off. Watch how the skaters handle setbacks. How quickly do they get up when they fall? You’ll be amazed how truly tough they are.

If you need help with your social media. contact me. kparis@itsallgeek2me.org.

What’s a Persona and Why Is It Important to Your Social Media Plan?

Imagine explaining to someone how you make a cake, but you don’t know who they are. They could be a gourmet chef or a six-year-old.  Would your message be different?

Of course it would. When explaining something to a six-year-old, you would use simpler language and more pictures and you would explain simple concepts in more detail.

For a chef, your language would be more nuanced and you would explain details that a child would find boring.

That’s why it’s so important to know who your audience is when creating a social media post. Each post needs to be designed in a way that it meets the needs of the intended audience.

A persona allows you to do that. It gives you a clearer picture of who you’re speaking with.

A persona is more than just a general description of who might read your post. Personas are developed to represent individuals and become the embodiment of your target audience. Each persona is given a name and background. You can even use a picture of a person to get a clearer imagine of your persona.

Also included in a persona are the individual’s pain points.  Is your persona price conscience or is convenience their highest priority? You have to identify their problems and explain how you can solve them.

Another important detail about your persona is how the person receives his/her information. Once you determine how he/she receive information, you have a better idea of where you should post. Facebook is for a more general audience, whereas Instagram tends to skew to a younger demographic. Perhaps you should be even being looking at other methods of delivering your message such as email marketing.

Most companies have more than one persona and each one should be developed with its own details. Identify which persona you are addressing with each post.

If you would like a template to develop persona for your business, just email me at kparis@itsallgeek2me.org for your free template. As always, if you have any questions about social media or are looking for a social media consultant, please contact me on 410-746-5801.

 

 

What is UGC and Why Is It Important?

You may have heard the term UGC otherwise known as User Generated Content. It is the most valuable type of content in the social media universe. It is exactly what it sounds like, you get your customers to create posts for you. But how do you do that?

One way to get UGC is to just ask. You could ask your customers and followers to post photos of their favorite product or service from your business. Or you could encourage them to tag your business in their posts.

It can be as simple as asking a question related to your business. Be careful of the phrasing because you want to make sure the posts stay positive.

All encourage your customers and followers to tag you in their posts.

The most important part of this concept is to make sure you have set up your business so it can be tagged.

  1. Click on Setting on Your Business Facebook Page
  2. Go to: “Other Tagging this page”
  3. Make sure to check “Allow people and other Pages to tag

Another way is to ask followers to message your business photos that you can then post on your page. People love to see themselves on social media and will be more than willing to provide you with photos.

If you want UGC on Instagram, create a unique hashtag for your users to tag their content. Make sure to comment, like and share any content using your hashtag. You can even offer incentives for people using your hashtag.

Remember the first word is “social.” These platforms are all about interaction. Make your customers the star of your social media and it will pay you dividends.

Small Business Owners Can Help Each Other on Social Media

You’re on social media. Your customers are on social media. So why are you not connecting?

It may be a problem with real estate.

There’s only so much space in a newsfeed and both personal and commercial posts are vying for the same property. Sometimes it’s difficult to get traction.

But just like the Beatles, you can “Get by with a little help from your friends.”

Working with other business owners can actually help both your business and their business with visibility on social media.

How does it work?

1) Find other businesses on social media that would be complimentary to your business. These may be other businesses in your community or businesses that you do business with.

2) “Like” those pages as your business page so they will become part of your Newsfeed.

3) When you see those businesses come up in your feed, make sure to like and comment. If you see that the business is using a particular hashtag, make sure to use it as appropriate. You can even share that business’ posts on your business or personal pages.

4) Different platforms evaluate interaction differently. On Instagram, only a comment of three words makes an impact in the algorithm. So be mindful when helping your partners. Don’t simply go through liking all the posts, make sure to also comment.

5) If another business comments on your page, make sure to respond with a “like”and comment.

6) When appropriate, tag other businesses in your post.

Working together as a community to help other businesses is good for everyone. Not only will other businesses be more likely to share your posts, but also, it demonstrates to your customers you commitment to community.

If you need more assistance with your social media, contact me: kparis@itsallgeek2me.org.

3 Reasons You Should Follow Other Business Pages and How To Do It

Have you ever wonder what other businesses are doing to get customers in the door? Have you ever wished you were a fly on the wall listening to all of your competitors ideas? Or maybe you’re wondering how to support other businesses in the community?

Here’s how you can do all those things in a few easy steps

Everything you want to know about your competitors, partners or friends is on social media. You can find out:

  1. Specials they are offering
  2. Customers opinions about them
  3. Their next great idea

Of course, you can like all their pages and wait for them to come up in your newsfeed, but there are easier ways to get the information you need in one place.

You can like other pages as your page.

To like a pages as you page, go to the Facebook page you want to “like” and click on the three dots next to share.

Then choose “Like Page as Your Page.”

like a page as a page

Once you have liked the page as your page you can access it from your page in two ways.

On the right-hand side of your page, there is a section “Pages Liked By Your Page”.

like page as your page 2

 

The names are visible on the right side of your page. Click on any name and you will be taken to that page. For more pages, click on the > next to “Pages Liked By This Page.” All the pages you have liked will be there.

 

 

 

There is another way to see the pages in a newsfeed so you can see them all together, how often they are posting and what they are posting.

Create your own personal url. If you go to: http://www.facebook.com/********/pages_feed, then you will see a newsfeed of the pages you have liked. (The asterisks represent your page name.) This is a great, easy way to check out what other pages are doing. (Thanks to Martin Kaiser for helping me find an answer to this question.)

This is one more way to make social media work for you. If you need help with your social media, DM me @itsallgeek2me or email me at kparis@itsallgeek2me.org.

 

 

 

The Transformation of Netflix: How can you apply the lessons to your business?

Did you spend the holiday vacation watching BirdBox on Netflix? Well, apparently 45 million people around the world did.

Without a doubt Netflix is an example of an organization that is constantly transforming itself in order to stay relevant in the marketplace and as a result has grown into an entertainment powerhouse.  My how things have changed.

How Netflix Began

Some of us remember when Netflix began as a DVD subscription service.  The convenience of having movies delivered to your doorstep with no late fees seemed revolutionary.  But then came streaming services and Netflix changed to meet the new market demand by offering not only movies, but also TV series that could be streamed at will. The concept of binging was born.

But it didn’t stop there. Now Netflix is producing original content. Content that is not only increasing viewership, but also garnering accolades including Emmy nominations. The only similarity between the Netflix at its inception and the Netflix now is the name.

Holding on to What Works

More than one company has gone out of business chasing trends and expanding too quickly. The lesson of Netflix is not change, change change.

The lesson is about listening to and monitoring the marketplace to determine what trends your business can take advantage of in the coming year. Moreover, it’s important to know when and if to let go of products or services that are no longer working.

Imagine if Netflix was only mailing DVDs to people through a subscription service. Yes, it still offers that service and over 3 million people take advantage of it, but it is a small percentage of its business. www.dvd.netflix.com. Netflix would still be in business, but it never would have grown into the major corporation it is today.

How can you apply these lessons to your own business? 

Do you currently have a product or service that needs a revamp? Is it time to start home delivery or a subscription service for your product? Is there a company that is already in business you could partner with to give your product or services greater exposure? Or is time to rethink the whole concept of what you offer?

Think about how Uber and Lyft have turned the transportation industry on its head. What seemed revolutionary is now mainstream. Sometimes it’s easy to criticize new ideas and focus on why they won’t work or even try to fight against them. Think about taxi companies suing Uber.

This year look at ideas with fresh eyes and think if incorporating them into your business could be transformative.

What’s next for Netflix? Black Mirror is a movie that premiered over the holiday season where the viewer controls the content. The viewer actually makes decisions throughout the movie that influence the arch of the story. It even tells you when you’ve “gone the wrong way.” There are 5 different endings.

Happy 2019. No matter the size of your business. Think like Netflix and chances are you’ll be ending the year in a better place than you began.

 

Shopping Small is More Important Than Ever This Year

2018 was a challenging year for businesses in the Catonsville and Ellicott City area. A weekend of rain left businesses devastated, many of whom are still feeling the affects of the Memorial Day flood.

But entrepreneurs are tough! Many of them have decided to continue in business despite the challenges. They are rebuilding and remaining in the community. However, it has not been easy.

As a small business consultant, I have been helping these businesses regrow their customer base. Amazon and other online companies make it difficult to compete.

So why support a small businesses?

  • They offer unique, one-of-a-kind gifts and personalized service.
  • If there is a problem, you know who to call and you talk to a real person.
  • They are willing to customize.
  • They will go out of their way to help you find what you are looking for.
  • They employ individuals in the community.
  • They keep their dollars local.
  • They often give back to the community with time and money.

No one is telling you to abandon your online shopping, but this season, reconnect with your community. Shop Small on Saturday and other days throughout the holiday season. It’s a great way to make your holiday special while helping those in your community.

Could Profinder be right for your business?

LinkedIn is more than just a place to find a job. It can also be a great way to grow your business. Profinder is a part of LinkedIn that allows you to find professionals for your business as well as bid on proposals for other businesses.

As a small business owner, you know that sometimes finding contracts or your first gig can be challenging. ProFinder may be a good place to begin.

  • What freelancers need to know?
  • Profinder is free.

    Profinder is accessible through the LinkedIn website.
    Profinder is not available for all industries.
    You need to apply to be part of Profinder.
    You will submit a proposal and be bidding against other consultants.
    Most requests for proposals have very short deadlines.

To find out more information about applying go to: https://www.linkedin.com/help/testing/answer/67210

What clients need to know?

  • Profinder is free for potential clients.
  • Some requests are better fits than others.
  • Your request will close when you receive 5 proposals or after 48 hours.

To find more information about Profinder, go to: https://www.linkedin.com/help/profinder/topics/25016/25017/70180

You can access Profinder at LinkedIn.com and them click on the grid next to your profile picture.

For more information about Profinder or other aspects of LinkedIn, contact me at: kparis@itsallgeek2me.org.

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