Excellent Customer Service generates more business

Customer service is a subject where we all have an opinion.  It is a subjective thing we people need, want and expect different levels of customer service.

However we think about it, I am pretty sure that we all agree that excellent customer service is a key factor in generating more business, either from current customers or from new ones.  I wanted to share an example of excellent service I received.

When I launched SME Needs I needed business cards to help me spread the word.  I spoke to the company who had always supplied them to me at my previous place and they admitted that they simply used someone else and I should go direct.  That company is Solopress.

I ordered my cards on the Wednesday and was told to expect them on Friday.  On Tuesday morning I received a phone call from Solopress asking about the cards and whether they met with my satisfaction.  Unfortunately I hadn’t actually received them at this point and so I wasn’t that happy.  They promised to investigate.

At this point, as you can imagine, I wasn’t overly impressed but it was the way they recovered that has led to me talk about them on a frequent basis.

I’m based in Croydon, South London and Solopress is in Southend, Essex. The business cards I’d ordered seemed to have been lost in transit but I needed them for a big networking event the next morning.

I got two phone calls early that afternoon.  The first saying they would deliver them to the networking event in St Pauls for 6.45am; the 2nd asking if they could deliver them, that night, to my house.  I had them in my hands by 10.00pm.  Three weeks later it seems that the transit company found them as I got another delivery.

I am now about to order more cards so what do I think about Solopress?  The initial delivery failure or the way they went well out of their way  to fix the problem?

The order went in yesterday.

The morale of the story – even if your initial effort isn’t as good as it should be, the way you deal with the problem will determine whether you keep the customer.  Great Customer Service will win you customers


Networking: The questions to ask yourself before choosing which groups are best for you

Which networking groups are right for you?

Is it me or has the number of networking groups ballooned recently?  Typing Business Networking in London into Google brought up 38,000,000 results in 0.13 seconds.

The cynic in me says this is because of the number of people out there being made redundant and therefore looking for self-employed work or another job and the networking groups can take annual fees off them with the vague promise of helping their achieve this goal.

The optimist in me says this is a great way to meet new people, to help them and to find the work/jobs you are looking for.

As it is entirely possible to network morning, noon and night, how do you protect your wallet, waistline and sanity by choosing the right groups for the way you like to network?  Here’s a few questions to ask yourself and shorten the list considerably:

  1. Are you an early bird or a night owl?  Early birds may have to be at the meeting for 6.30am whereas the night owls can still be there at 11.00pm.  Choose which end of the candle to burn because not many people can burn both ends all the time
  2. Do you want to subscribe or PAYG? Many of the formal organisations require membership and annual fees to be paid – and then may kick you out if you miss a few meetings whereas others simply ask you to pay when you come along
  3. Do you prefer to meet the same people each time or a set of new possible connections? Getting to know and trust people usually improves your chances of generating quality referrals
  4. Are you a structured networker or a relaxed “go with the flow” type person? A fixed formula works for some people but others don’t like to be told what to do and when during a networking event.

If networking is part of your marketing strategy, you want it to deliver new sales.  You therefore need to make sure the networking events you go to are right for you. This blog article isn’t designed to tell you which one(s) to attend, but simply to help you shorten the list to be considered.

I hope it helps

Five great sources of market information

When looking to expand your business, it’s vital that you research the market and the opportunity.  If you don’t there is a chance that your business expansion plans don’t deliver the business growth you are looking for.  The question is: where do you go to understand the size of the opportunity?

Here are five really good sources of quantitative information:

1. The Office Of National Statistics

Want to know about the businesses in your county, borough or town; look no further. ONS will provide information by industry, by size, by age and a whole lot more.

2. LinkedIn Search

How many, for example, solicitors are there within 10 miles of your office? Don’t know – used LinkedIn to find out.  With over 7 million people in the UK on LinkedIn and 141,842 UK companies  it is a great source.  Want to know if they are in private practice or within a commercial organisation – simple use another filter.

Just in case you wanted to know, there are 5,404 solicitors within 10 miles of my postcode.

3. CreditSafe

Is your prospective client creditworthy? How much money did they make/lose last year? You can find out here.  There are plenty of other similar sites out there but this is one of the best.  It’s a paid for service but it will tell you what you want to know about your clients and prospects.

4. Companies House

Don’t want to subscribe to an annual service – go PAYG instead at Companies House. Annual Reports direct from Companies House are just £1 each.

5. Facebook Ads

You don’t need to spend any money to get numbers from Facebook.  With 35 million UK adults regularly using Facebook where’s better to get information about the consumer market?

Set up a Facebook Ads account (no charge) and use the plethora of filters to understand how big your target market is. If you think of all the information you put into Facebook, that’s the number of filters you can apply to really target your search.