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!

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!

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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!


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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.

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. :)

Survey Your Customers

Almost every receipt I get from a restaurant or fast food place has a link or a phone number to a survey. I’ve also noticed that a lot of stores and businesses are doing the same thing on their receipts. Some cashiers or waiters/waitresses even purposely circle and point out the survey when they hand the receipt to you. I’ve been noticing that surveys have become a great thing of interest to businesses lately and for good reason.

Don’t you, as a business owner, want to know what your customers feel about their experience with your products, services, or business? Don’t you, as a business owner, want to learn more about who your customers are and what they are looking for? This type of information is extremely important to businesses as they can use this to improve their services as well as better understand how to market to your customers and prospects. Information is important to many businesses and it should be important to you too.

This topic is very similar to my previous post about earning credibility through testimonials and reviews from your customers, except this one is more targeted towards learning about your customers and using that information to your benefit. Next week I’ll follow up with a post about the types of questions you can ask your customers.

I Want to Buy Something on Your Website, But I Need Help!

Most of the time when I shop online, I start browsing the site, looking at the products, and realize I have questions. I’m sure this has happened to you too and surely it will happen to your customers. What types of questions/concerns might your prospective customers have? Well, there are many, they can range from simple questions to more complex ones. For example: How do I know if this shirt size will fit me? What is the return policy? I have questions about the product, is there someone I can ask? Is there a guarantee?

Your prospective customers are bound to have questions when shopping, so you, as a business, should provide a customer experience that will answer all these questions. You want to make the prospect feel comfortable about buying from you. With that said, it is extremely important to have a help center or customer care section on your website.

This help center needs to be easily seen, easy to access, and easy to use. It may just be a simple phone number that customers can call. You may have an email address or live chat. It is even better to have multiple ways for customers to contact you. This is because some people would rather bypass the phone call with a rep because they prefer to email, others may like speaking directly to a person. Another important section to include on your site is “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQs) where customers can get answers to all their questions. This is a good place to talk about guarantees, returns, shipping/billing, sizing, and any other important information for the customer.

I would say the most important thing is to make sure this “help” is available on each page of the site. Don’t make the customer leave what they are looking at to go hunt around for help. If I am looking at a product and have questions about it, I want to be able to ask questions while I can refer the representative to the page/product. If you make your customers navigate away from what you are trying to sell or offer, you may lose them completely.

A good place to put a help phone number or contact information is somewhere near the top of the page. It is also good to keep it in the same spot on every page – keep things consistent. This way, no matter where on the site the customer navigates to, they will know that help is right there on every page.

Bottom Line: You end up helping yourself when you help your customers.