Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Customer Service Charm School

In utilizing today’s business communication methods such as voice mail and email, many companies overlook the value of customer service.  Every organization approaches customer service differently, but many miss a unique opportunity: the live customer service conversation.

Responding to customer inquiries via the web or recorded voice mails may get the requested information to the customer, but there is no substitute for a real person interacting directly with a customer.

At NetPublications, we like to put our customer service representatives through “charm school.”  Here are ten points we stress to assure that our new and existing print customers receive the “white glove” treatment.
  1. Make It Personal.  Each customer should feel as if they are the most important person you are talking to on that day 
  2. Don’t Make Excuses. Don’t tell them you have had a bad day, need to return fifteen other calls, or have other pressing problems to solve. 
  3. Be Empathetic.  Try to understand how the customer feels about the problem or opportunity that they are discussing with you.  Put yourself in their situation. 
  4. Listen.  When a person is upset, they tend to turn you out; be sure that they understand what you are telling them.
  5. Ask, and Then Ask Again.  Have the customer repeat back what you said, so that both of you are on the same page at the same time.
  6. Solve It Together.  Give the customer solutions that will help them to solve the problem.  Offer them choices.
  7. Be There.  Do your job.  Get involved.   If at the end of the day you do not remember the last three problems you have solved, then you are not really involved with the customer’s needs.
  8. Always Focus On The Customer. Only when you have assessed and resolved their primary problem(s) can you recommend other services of the company as a “new sell.”
  9. Understand Your Company.  Be sure that you know your company’s services and capabilities so that you can address the customer’s issues without putting the customer on “hold”, or asking them to “hang on.”
  10. Call the Customer Back. If you must get off the phone to check something, call a customer back.  A second of hold time to a potential customer or existing client often feels more like a minute of waiting time.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Technology of QR Codes

QR Codes are now being used to extend the value of the printed page, while providing more interactive and engaging information to the customer.  QR, short for quick response, allows information to be read at very high scan speeds.  The technology was invented by the Japanese company DENSO Wave, but it is available to everyone since DENSO does not exercise any rights under their patent.

The usage of QR Codes has progressed from Japan to Europe to the United States, where it is quickly becoming a valuable communication tool.  The key to the use of the QR Code is the smartphone, which can instantly scan and read the code. According to Nielsen, 17% of the U.S. population owns a smartphone.  ABI Research reveals that by 2015,119 billion dollars of purchases will be made via these mobile phones. 

Often described as a sister or offspring to the traditional linear barcode, the two-dimensional QR Code looks like a series of black-and-white squares resembling a puzzle.  The codes are machine readable through any smartphone equipped with a QR Code Reader App. The more complicated the lines of the code, the more information there is contained inside.  A QR Code can include a URL, SMS message, contact information, a phone number, or an invitation.

Using a QR Code in a printed piece allows your intended audience to instantly connect to a website without having to manually enter a long URL into a browser.  The codes can take any marketing campaign viral with the option of linking to a landing page, or a PURL (personalized URL).

QR Codes are still a novel idea for some, but they are gaining in popularity. These codes are a great way to connect your printed pieces to your web content, and a method of getting your potential customers to an exact location on your website.   Scan the QR Code below for a demonstration.