Category Archives: Customer Experience

Small Business Saturday Tips

Small Business Saturday is almost here!  This Saturday, November 24, marks the 3rd annual day that this event will be held.  As small business owners, planning and developing ways to effectively enhance your business image is a vital process in attracting and procuring customers during this day.

Inform the Customer, Raise Awareness.  Letting people know that Small Business Saturday is on November 24, or this Saturday, is crucial.  Many people are aware of national events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but being that Small Business Saturday is only in its third year, they still might be unaware.  When customers come into your store during this week, let them know that the event is going to be going on this Saturday and find ways to raise awareness.

Create Something Tangible.  Whether an advertisement, fliers, a storefront sign, or a creative display, let people know what Small Business Saturday is all about.  Tangible items and/or products better inform the community and provide them with added information needed in decision making processes.

Provide a Takeaway.  During this week leading up to the event and also on the day of, provide your customers with something that will allow them to remember YOU.  Takeaways allow customers to ingrain your business into the back of their minds and remember what you have to offer them.

Build Relationships.  Lasting relationships will not only benefit business success, but will also highlight your business proficiency and effectiveness for meeting needs.  Make the customer and community feel as though it is family.

So let us “shop small” and show support within our community by helping those who give so much to us!

 

Let Us Better Serve You!

This week is National Customer Service Week, and we at National Pen are always looking for ways to better extend excellent customer service to those who do business with us.  Customer Service is highly important to our company because ensuring that our products fulfill your needs and wants is our top priority.

In any business, it is the company’s duty and responsibility to ensure satisfaction on all fronts.  The customer is the main determinant of business prosperity and without the customer, there can be no business.  Below are service highlights that have shaped National Pen Co. and our mission towards generating excellent customer service:

Customer Care Center with many outlets for support: http://www.pens.com/customer-service-national-pen

These highlights have built the foundation for extending excellent customer service to all.  We take great pride in serving our customers and would like to hear from you as well to improve.  How can we better serve you?  What can we do to make our business more efficient?  What changes would you like to see us make?  During this week we want to hear from you, the customer, on ways we can better provide our services!  You can contact us via our Customer Care center (http://www.pens.com/customer-service-national-pen) or find us on Facebook and Twitter to contact us as well.  Have a great weekend!

Knowledge is Power

“Knowledge has to be improved, challenged, and increased constantly, or it vanishes.” – Peter Drucker

January 19 is Get to Know Your Customer Day. It seems like we should spend more than a day learning
about our customers, right? Customers are the key to your success so it’s important to get to know them as well as you can. Learn about their interests, needs, and challenges so you can offer the products and services that are best suited for them.

What are the best ways to do this?

Surveys: An easy way to learn about your customers is to just ask. There are plenty of easy-to-use online survey tools that you can use to collect feedback. Ask about their satisfaction, where you can improve, what needs are not currently met. The benefit of doing this online is that customers will speak candidly and let you know the good and the not so good. Also include some questions that can help build your relationship. Do they like to travel or play sports? Do they have kids? You may find you have more in common than just your business relationship.

Personal Meetings: If you’re in the sales field, take your top customers out for lunch or coffee. Instead of just sticking to business, keep the conversation diverse so you learn as much as you can. If you have a retail or service location, consider providing refreshments for an hour or two when you can mingle and chat with customers.

Social Media: The Internet makes it possible to connect to your customers year-round. Set up accounts on Yelp, Facebook and/or Linked In for your business. Let customers know where to find you so you can keep an open dialog with them. The bonus to you is that new customers may find you online, especially when you get rave reviews!

The most important thing about getting to know your customers is taking the time to interpret what you learned. Listen to what they’re telling you, and read through their comments. Based on what you now know, think about what you can do to best meet their needs. Answer that succesfully and you’ll have more customers to get to know next time around! Happy customers tell their friends…

We value your support would love to know more about you and what you think about National Pen. Please let us know how we’re doing!

Guarantee Your Sales!

Have you ever taken a plunge on a new product and realized it just wasn’t what you were hoping for? I know I have, and as a direct result, when I do my online shopping, I look for a guarantee. Though it might seem like a big risk as a small business, guarantees can actually pay you back with more sales, customer loyalty and buyer confidence.

When customers are looking for which product or service to choose, a guarantee might be the deciding factor – offering the risk-free purchase they desire.

Some of the other benefits of offering a guarantee are:

Customer Buying Confidence – offering a guarantee ensures customers they can purchase with you with no need to worry

Increased Sales – If someone is not 100% sure of their purchase, this might give them the final push they needed to complete the sale.

Give you a leg up on the competition – This can be a real differentiating point between you and your competitors – so use it in your advertisements and marketing!

Internal quality control – In order to make sure these guarantees don’t have to be used, this can create a way to ensure the best service and product you offer is consistently being delivered – a sort of check and balances for your internal team.

With a good product or service and a sound guarantee in place, you are sure to see sales skyrocket!

Connect with us online!
Follow us for helpful tips & special offers

Get to Know Your Customer Day

According to a few sources, January 20th is “Get to Know Your Customer Day”. Whether you are a small business owner or a sales professional, you have one thing in common – your business IS your customer! While it is great to highlight “getting to know your customer” once a year, this really needs to be a daily effort. This got me thinking – how can we all really get to know our customers?

1. Ask! This might seem straightforward, but simply asking your customers opinion is worth its weight in gold. They can offer you insights such as product requests, service upgrades, and just general suggestions to help you give them exactly what they need – and stay loyal to your business.

2. Show them you care – loyalty clubs, customer appreciation days and incentives show customers you truly do appreciate their business – even if you just send them a thank you note with a personalized pen in it, that little gesture can go a long way.

3. Sales promotions can help customer retention and interest.

4. Customer Service – make sure your sales and customer support groups are delivering consistently pleasant and helpful service. They often times are the real face of your company.

5. Goodwill – support local causes in your community, or even sponsor a little league team. It’s a great way to give back to the community you sell to.

And remember, as Peter Drucker once said the only purpose of any business existence is the customer.

Connect with us online!
Follow us for helpful tips & special offers

Customers for Life

Identifying and reaching out to customers is a challenge that businesses face on a regular basis. But what about retaining customers – for life? A plumber in Missouri, Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, uses a “front of the line” program for regular customers – meaning that in the dead of winter, if your pipes freeze, you won’t have to wonder when you’ll be able to get a plumber out. In a recent article on MSN’s Business on Main page, Keeping Customers for Life, companies like Benjamin Franklin Plumbing are used as a model for how to grow and retain your long-term customer base.

Here are some key steps used by companies like Southwest, ED Foods, and Crucial Technology:

– Delivery what you say you’re going to

– Expect the best

– From there, go beyond the usual

– Watch your customer, not your bottom line

– Nurture lifelong employees

– Make customers want to stick around

– Be picky about your lifelong customers

Customers truly are the heart of any business – we simply wouldn’t exist without them, so remember: treat them well, and your company will be treated well in return!

Connect with us online!

Follow us for helpful tips & special offers

Online User Reviews – How to Make Them Work for Your Business

A recent Wall Street Journal article “As Online Reviewers Grow, Businesses are Listening” discusses how online reviews, written by everyday customers is on the rise. With sites such as Yelp, UrbanSpoon, Yahoo Local and CitySearch, users have the ability to review and rate their favorite (and not-so-favorite) businesses. Many consumers use these sites to discover and research their choices online. In fact, the article states that 4 in 10 consumers perform online research to aid in offline purchase decisions.

So how can you harness the power of this user-driven content? Some businesses publish positive reviews on their websites, or print them for viewing in their stores. Sites such as Yelp and CitySearch offer the ability for business owners to publish special promotions for their users. Yelp alone had 29 million unique visitors in September, so the purchasing power behind these users is quite attractive.

So in short, be aware of and listen to your reviews. It’s free market research from your actual users!


Connect with us online!
Follow us for helpful tips & special offers

Customer Ideas and Involvement

Sometimes the best ideas come from your customers. After all, they are the ones looking to purchase from you, utilize them to help drive your business to the next level. As a company, your best interest is the customer because if you can sell or provide them what they want or are interested in, they are more likely to convert.

It seems that, in general, people like to have a say in the things they buy, own, or consume. Take the example of food – while McDonald’s McCafe is growing up its own customer base rather quickly, there still many die-hard Starbucks fans. Taking the facts of coffee quality and price aside, you’re left with options. I see that McCafe is trying to give the customer more options but at Starbucks you are pretty much free to customize your coffee any way you want.

An article in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) titled, “The Customer Knows Best,” gives several examples of companies who have involved their customers or prospects in the design of a product or just tried to get ideas from the people to generate discussion. This works because if the customer has invested their time and opinion into what you are producing or selling, that product or service will be more suited to what they desire, thus making them more likely to buy.

One example from the WSJ article is about Local Motors Inc. (small-scale auto maker) who started to let people upload designs onto their website. They give out prizes to the designs they like best and then incorporate those designs into the cars they build. Another example I have is from our very own company. Awhile back we held a contest to engage customers to help create a design for one of our pens. The outcome was a great success as we were able to receive some awesome contributions, but people very much enjoy the winning design.

Bottom Line: Engage your customers, you may learn something you didn’t know about and can use to drive sales or leads.

Optimize Your Website for Success

In this economy, people are taking a lot longer to buy, doing research, and looking for the best deal. I came across an article from ClickZ on “Optimizing Your E-Commerce Site: Three Levers for Success” and feel that it provides a great sum up of how you can improve your website to hopefully grab that next sale or lead. Here’s a quick rundown:

Audience
Understand your core demographically, geographically, and behaviorally.
· Do you have consistent messaging across the site?
· Are you targeting your core customers in the way most appealing to them?

Offer
Utilize the 4Ps: Product, Pricing, Place, Promotion
Product
· Is your product presented in an appealing and information way?
· Do you offer anything special with the product – guarantees, upsells, cross-sells?

Pricing
· Can you sell in bulk or groups?
· Is the pricing consistent across all channels?
· Can you offer special pricing?

Place
· Where do customers land?
· What will drive them to make that last purchasing step?

Promotion
· Offer shipping promotions.
· Coupons for future orders.

Creative
Focus on: benefits, call to action, media/format, response channels, and branding
· Test images/photographs and copy.
· Button language/placement.
· Use of colors – easy to read.

Even if you’ve considered all of the above in optimizing focused on your audience, offer, and creative, a very important piece of the puzzle is measuring your results. Look at visitors, sales, and costs. Have any of these increased, decreased, or stayed the same since your tests or optimizations? How about compared to last year? Test and measure, test and measure, and continue to make adjustments to find the sweet spot.

Bottom Line: It’s a tough economy, fewer people are buying, but people are still buying, encourage them to buy from you.

Sample Customer Survey Questions

2 weeks ago I posted about the importance of surveying your customers. This allows for you to learn more about what is important to your customers, how customers feel about your products/services, and/or what customers thought about their shopping experience. You can use this information to improve your products/services and shopping experience. You can also use the information you find out about your customers to better target them – providing them what they are most interested in so that they are more likely to convert. Below are some sample customer survey questions you can use to learn more about your customers.

Rating Questions (Typically from Poor to Excellent or N/A)
Overall Shopping Experience
Selection of Products
Ease of Finding What You are Looking for
Information Presented to Help Make Shopping Decision
Shipping Options
Customer Service

Yes/No Questions
Would you shop with us again?
Would you recommend us to a friend?
Did you receive your order in a timely manner?
Was your order fulfilled correctly?

Open-Ended Questions
What else would you like to share with us?
How can we improve your shopping experience?

This is just a sampling of the types of questions you can ask, there are many more and you can always customize the questions to your business. Remember, this information is useful – analyze it and consider what your customers say. Customers keep your business alive – listen to them. :)