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5 Signs Your Customer Doesn’t Belong With You

Too often, we fall back on the mantra “the customer is always right.”

But is that always true?

Here are our five ways of telling if you aren’t a good fit with your customer:

1. You dread you interactions

Your day is going fine. Everything is lovely. You get a call, check the number on the caller ID, and your whole mood deflates. It’s not just that some customers only call when there’s a problem. Even if that’s the case, a customer could still be a good fit.

No, these calls are the ones that never go anywhere. Your staff complains about working with them. They are never satisfied and likely never will be.

Cut them loose.

2. They complain about who they used to work with

If you have a customer who seems to have never had a pleasant experience with anyone they’ve worked with, be weary. You’ll likely not be any different. You’ll just be the guy they complain about to the next company they work with.

3. They threaten your company

If a customer raises hell about something, you should definitely take notice. Not everyone who has had a bad customer experience with your company is a bad customer. You should be paying attention to Yelp and other business review sites to always improve how you deal with your customers.

On the other hand, if a customer is threatening to cause trouble and raising a stink, yet still continue to work with you, maybe politely suggest they would be happier with someone else. The threat of a bad customer review is exploitative.

4. They don’t pay on time

It’s uncomfortable talking about money. It’s unacceptable to not get paid. One late payment isn’t the end of the world or the destruction of your company. But, if it’s a pattern of behavior, you can’t keep that customer on as a business expense.

5. They don’t respect your expertise

You’re good at what you do. If your customer can’t see that, maybe they should find someone else. You should also have respect for your customer. If you can’t nourish a relationship, they might be better served somewhere else.

Have you ever fired a customer? Why? Share in the comments!

Interview: Joe Pulizzi, Content Marketing Evangelist and Founder of the Content Marketing Institute

Joe Pulizzi is a content marketing evangelist and CEO of SocialTract. He founded the Content Marketing Institute. He is the author of Epic Content Marketing.

Listen to the interview here.

Read the rest of this entry

Required Reading for Entrepreneurs: Be Our Guest by Ted Kinni

Required Reading for Entrepreneurs: Be Our Guest by Ted KinniExceeding expectations rather than simply satisfying them is the cornerstone of the Disney approach to customer service. Now, in honor of the tenth anniversary of the original Be Our Guest, Disney Institute, which specializes in helping professionals see new possibilities through concepts not found in the typical workplace, is revealing even more of the business behind the magic of quality service. During the last twenty-five years, thousands of professionals from more than thirty-five countries and more than forty industries have attended business programs at Disney Institute and learned how to adapt the Disney approach for their own organizations.

Be Our Guest highlights the successes many of these companies have achieved, plus the key processes and best practices that have made Disney a trusted and revered brand around the world for more than eighty-five years.

3 Tips on Building Trust with your Online Customers

Many entrepreneurs and small business owners would argue that it’s easier to build trust with a brick-and-mortar Building Trust with your Online Customersbusiness than a purely Internet based one. Why? Well, with your regular customers, you have a chance to engage in small talk, ask about the kids, and fill the downtime with getting to know them. You know their regular orders; you know when they usually visit; you know which of their employees they’ve developed a relationship with.

Online, you don’t get the face – to – face human interaction that helped our species evolve into a society. Here are some things you can do to make sure that trust relationship is still developed online.

1. Connect with the experts

Chances are, someone online is already doing what you’re doing and they’ve already developed relationships and reputations. Try to connect with them to see what they’re doing. Interact. Build your own relationship with the expert. When the time comes, you might not be able to help a customer with their needs, but if you can point them to someone who will, you’ve become the person they can go to for connections. Next time, if that customer needs something, they’ll come to you for help. And, this time, it might be your business that can provide the service.

2. Acknowledge your advocates, apologize to your critics.

If someone praises you for the work you did, send a thank you. A Tweet, an email, a Facebook post. It doesn’t cost you anything to make your customers feel good. And, hey, if they went out of their way to show you some gratitude, you should return the favor.

On the other hand, if someone gives you a bad review, don’t ignore. See if that person will engage with you. Ask them about the review and see if there’s something you can correct. Was their order broken or not as described? Was it not shipped fast enough? If they’re complaining about something that really can’t be changed (like they didn’t realize what they ordered or forgot they already had one), don’t start a fight. Send them a coupon (something like free shipping or 10% off) as a way of an apology.

3. Give them content they can use

Let’s say you sell air conditioners and you have a blog on your website. Rather than blogging about how much people need air conditioners, give them some tips on using them. Like, turn it down or off after 6pm to save on your electric bill. Or how to check your house for places the air might leak out.

Maybe it means air conditioners will last a little longer and people won’t buy as many, but when it’s time for that new one, you’re the company that knows how to take care of air conditioners and are interested in helping people cut costs.

How have you built your online reputation? Share in the comments!

Pass it On: A few things you can delegate right now to free up your time

Entrepreneurs are always working and working hard. But, what if I told you, you don’t have to work so hard? I know, I know it sounds crazy. Here’s what the secret is: Trust your employees.A few things you can delegate right now to free up your time

You may be afraid to relinquish control, but here are some things you should definitely consider taking off your plate and handing to someone else:

1. Social Media

It’s no great secret to say that social media can be a huge time suck. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, that means that it can take a lot of time and that time can get away from you. For most companies and especially new companies, the social media component of their marketing department can make or break them. Don’t be afraid to hire someone specifically responsible for all things social media.

2. Customer Service

This isn’t too far from social media. You don’t want to distance yourself from your customers. But, you also have a lot of things to do. Get someone to handle customer service. This will help you because it’s fewer things that you need to deal with and, better yet, you won’t accidentally lose customer correspondents.

3. Number Crunching

You may be the greatest business person in the world, but you don’t need to sit around and keep the books all day. When you have someone who can focus completely on one task, you are less likely to make mistakes. Go ahead and give someone you trust the ability to keep your books for you.

4. IT

Another time suck. Updating software and staying on top of your tech is an epic task. If you have someone who can take care of IT, give them the chance. It will keep you ahead of any updates or upgrades before you have a chance to fall behind.

It may not seem like a lot in a blog post, but handing out these responsibilities can make all the difference in the world. What did you delegate? What have you been able to give away in order to save some time to get down to business? Share in the comments!

The Customer is Wrong

Our society functions under the mantra: the customer is always right. This is a notion that has been fed to us since we entered the work force. No matter what, make sure the customer leaves happy.

Small businesses and startups rely heavily on word of mouth to find loyal customers and advocates for their businesses. Your customer can be your greatest ally. If you can give them a great customer service experience, you have a fan for life. At this point, you know how to treat customers. Be kind and courteous. Address their issues in a timely fashion. Make sure you listen to their concerns and discuss things with them to make sure you both understand each other.

So, what happens if you can’t make a customer happy?The Customer is Wrong

There are people out there who want to test how far that can go without holding up their end of the deal of being a customer. While you should never assume someone’s trying to scam you, some customers might be testing the waters.

In this case, you want to work closely with your employees and customer service staff. Don’t automatically assume they did something wrong. Customers can abuse products and policies, demand unreasonable resolutions, or verbally abuse your staff. When you step in, make sure the customer knows the buck stops with you.

Don’t belittle your team or employees. Trust that they did all that they could to give the customer what they asked for.

When things start to get hairy, you should start collecting the records of your interactions. If you have a paper trail of evidence that shows this customer has made a habit of being a bad customer, everyone on staff can be appraised of the situation. In the future, don’t work with this customer.

While you might lose one business opportunity, you will show your support for your team.

If you want to learn more about dealing with no-pay customers, check out Business Beware.

Flight attendant scores epic win for customer service

If you’ve ever been in the customer service field, you understand. A JetBlue flight attendant was allegedly in an altercation with a passenger, grabbed a couple of beers and slid off a plane through the escape chute.

Steven Slater apparently had an altercation with a passenger who retrieved a bag from the overhead bin while the plane was still taxiing. If you’ve ever been on a plane before, you know you’re not supposed to do this. If you’ve never been on a plane before, they tell you that you’re not supposed to do this.

Slater has been released on bail, but believes he will lose his job. In an era when Southwest Airlines continues to get accolades as one of the best companies to work for, is it surprising that an airline has a disgruntled employee?

After the altercation, Slater got on the PA and said, “To the passenger who just called me a motherf—–: f— you. I’ve been in this business 28 years, and I’ve had it.”

Did Slater overreact? Yes, but the fact remains that he had to deal with people who treated him poorly. Is it any surprise that he snapped?

Now, the only problem will be keeping people from repeating his performance across the country.

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