Encourage Customer Loyalty With Your Call Center

call center team

Keeping customers happy and coming back is more important than ever.

Today’s competitive business environment means companies need to make sure they are meeting their customers where they are. It makes sense to think about what matters to customers when managing a call center.

It’s been said that what unhappy customers want most is to be heard. This is where a call center can be most effective.

Many call centers are designed to follow a system, a pattern with the goal of ending the situation in a way that is best for the company. And, ultimately speaking, that makes sense. The question becomes, what is the best way to get to a good conclusion.

There are three aspects to an effective call center that build and encourage customer loyalty.

Problem Solve

The best scenario occurs when the customer’s problem is resolved. This requires keen listening skills.

Call center staff need to be sure they are really hearing what the customer is saying. Most people are reasonable and understand what is possible. When call center staff members start from a desire to problem solve, they are more inclined to really listen to what the customer is saying.

They can then respond to the concern in a way that provides the customer with the belief that they are cared for.

Customers stay with a company when they believe their needs have been met and the company cares about their experience. Most problems can be solved quickly and without a huge investment. Empowering call center staff with the ability to solve those problems goes a long way to encourage customer loyalty with their clients.

Relationship Building

Another aspect of customer care is building relationships with those customers. The call center staff is uniquely positioned to aid in this process. When someone calls a company with a complaint or concern, the person on the other end of the call can become their best friend or their worst enemy.

When call center employees approach customers with a relationship building mindset, they project a real interest in making sure the customer is cared for. The customer feels valued beyond the transaction. It really matters to customers and yields long term results.

Relax the Script

There is real value in having a process for dealing with customer issues. However, often times the script can get in the way of customers feeling like they are being heard.

The best way to ensure call center employees adopt a policy of problem solving and relationship building is to encourage them to relax the scripting they are provided. When they can think on their feet and communicate beyond the script they connect more effectively with customers.

Customers want to feel valued and heard. Call centers have a unique place in that process.

When someone calls a company with a concern, they are presenting the company with an opportunity to prove how much they value an ongoing relationship with that customer. Relaxing the script in order to problem solve and therefore build relationships with customers goes a long way to encouraging customer loyalty.

Call Center Team Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Encourage Customer Loyalty With Your Call Center” was first published on Small Business Trends

from Blogger http://evangelinagius.blogspot.com/2015/05/encourage-customer-loyalty-with-your.html

Nimble Smart Contacts Builds Profiles on the Fly

nimble contacts main

Nimble announced launch of its Smart Contacts app today May 6. The app is designed to automatically create live contacts and company profiles on the fly.

Where are you storing your contact information?

Jon Ferrara, the founder of Nimble, says if you’re like a lot of other small business owners, it’s a in spreadsheet or your inbox or somewhere else.

It’s here, there, and … you guessed it, everywhere.

“Today, they are literally strewn all over the place,” Ferrara remarked to Small Business Trends in a recent interview.

Ferrara says that Smart Contacts “automagically” builds your own CRM (Customer Relationship Management) database simply based on your browsing activity.

As you’re browsing the Web, Smart Contacts is open along the right side of your open window. It’s job is to follow your cursor and react.

Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 6.55.52 AM

As you hover over names, Smart Contacts detects company and brand affiliations and begins to scour Nimble and the Web for more information.

“It works for you everywhere you work,” Ferrara told Small Business Trends. He said Smart Contacts “takes your contacts with you” as you peruse the Web.

If a contact has a Nimble profile already, he or she will be added to your database in a second. If they don’t, you can trigger Smart Contacts to begin building a live profile.

In a few seconds, you have more than enough information accumulated in the Smart Contacts app to build a proper CRM profile.

And as you continue to browse the Web, that Smart Contacts profile you’re building on one connection continues to update. It’s updating even as you’re building a profile on someone else.

The Smart Contacts app also tracks your interactions with people in your contacts list.

That’s really the drive behind creating Smart Contacts. Ferrara told Small Business Trends that one of the fatal mistakes a small business owner makes is not keeping up with their contacts. A lot of those contacts are customers, after all.

Ferrara says that cobbling together information on a contact is a workload on its own.

“You basically have to do all the work of Googling who somebody is and then going, logging that in your database and then engaging on whatever channel is effective for your customer,” he added.

“Today, it’s not just your inbox. It’s whatever channel your customers are having conversations on. Then try to make sense of that with some sort of social dashboard and then go log what you do in the CRM,” Ferrera said.

So rather than doing all that work, Smart Contacts tries to do it for you. The app is now available to all Nimble subscribers.

Images: Nimble

This article, “Nimble Smart Contacts Builds Profiles on the Fly” was first published on Small Business Trends

from Blogger http://evangelinagius.blogspot.com/2015/05/nimble-smart-contacts-builds-profiles.html

Spotlight: Build Customer Loyalty with Loyalzoo

loyalzoo customer loyalty app

Building customer loyalty can be more difficult for small businesses than it is for large companies. Big brands have more resources to develop in-depth loyalty programs that give customers different rewards or offers based on their past buying behavior.

But technology is now offering new options for small businesses looking to build loyalty.

Loyalzoo is one such option. The company offers an app that is available on mobile, online, and even on POS systems. Read more about Loyalzoo and get a behind-the-scenes look at the company in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does

Offers a loyalty app designed specifically for small businesses.

The app is made to integrate with a number of different systems, from online to mobile to POS systems. So different small businesses can use the app in whichever way best suits them.

Massimo Sirolla, CEO and co-founder of Loyalzoo says:

“Regardless of the type, each business can create their own digital loyalty cards in just minutes, choosing between traditional stamp cards and flexible points and set the rewards that fit them best.”

Business Niche

Offering a fully versatile solution.

Since the app is created with small businesses in mind, it needs to be able to work in a variety of different ways. Sirolla explains:

“We are the first loyalty app to integrate with POS, and also the first to allow merchants to give loyalty points precisely the way they want using our app, using printed codes or sent digitally. We didn’t want retailers to have to change their habits. We can fit seamlessly into almost any business with their existing setup.”

How the Business Got Started

From a desire to help local businesses.

Sirolla explains:

“Loyalzoo started when Mark Ryan and I, good neighbors and friends, looked down at our wallets and realized half the cards we carry around are unused paper and plastic loyalty cards. And when we looked up, we noticed deserted local businesses and chain stores popping up one after the other. It’s crazy — and so we thought surely there must be a way to help these businesses compete with the chains and big brands.”

loyalzoo customer loyalty app

Biggest Win

Successfully completing a round of crowdfunding last year.

Sirolla explains:

“We reached target in under 24 hours, and that allowed us to employ more people and drive the business ahead.”

Lesson Learned

Focus on digital marketing and SEO.

If the Loyalzoo team could go back and change anything, Sirolla says they would have just handled the digital marketing and SEO efforts in-house from the beginning. He explains:

“We employed a company to do it for us, and suffice to say they did not keep up with Google’s changing guidelines which meant our webpage was nowhere to be found in organic search for more than a year. With limited budget for marketing through paid channels this was really tough and we’re still struggling from the aftermath of it. If I was to give one piece of advise to anyone else starting business it would be to spend time getting familiar with SEO and how Google operates.”

How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000

Hiring more people.

Sirolla says:

“We are a small team in an even smaller office. We need someone new to pick on! Actually, a bigger office would probably be on the list too. Jokes aside, our team is really great, but with more people we could do so much more in getting the product out there.”

loyalzoo customer loyalty app

Team Tradition

An ongoing table football tournament.

Sirolla explains:

“It started with Andy and I playing every lunch and eventually we dragged Martina along. She started out in defense and was exceptionally bad! So we tried her in attack and lo and behold it was like a different person. We get quite into it. And it’s a really fun way to spend some time together which is also completely separated from the work we normally do.”

Favorite Quote

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” ~ Albert Einstein

* * * * *

Find out more about the Small Biz Spotlight program.

Images: Loyalzoo, Top image: (from left) Martina Wade, Massimo Sirolla, André Johnson, Mark Ryan, Boydlee Pollentine

This article, “Spotlight: Build Customer Loyalty with Loyalzoo” was first published on Small Business Trends

from Blogger http://evangelinagius.blogspot.com/2015/05/spotlight-build-customer-loyalty-with.html

The Businessperson’s Guide To The iMovie Galaxy

Guide To iMovie Galaxy

These days, making professional-looking movies and presentations is a necessity when marketing your business. If you have an Apple Mac, then the best pre-installed program on it by far is iMovie.

If you want your marketing to look like a million dollars, check out this business person’s guide to iMovie Galaxy. Create impressive and effective video content on iMovie today.

Get Your Photos and Video Clips Together In a Folder

Decide which movie clips and photos are going to appear in your movie and collect them all in a unique folder on your computer. When you import these materials into iMovie, the program makes copies of all the files, but mistakes do happen. If you happen to accidentally delete something, or forget to press the “undo” button, then you will have the originals to start with again.

Guide To iMovie Galaxy

Importing Into iMovie

Now that you have your pictures and movie clips ready, open iMovie. At the top of the screen, it says “New” and “Import”. Click on “Import” to begin with.

Obviously this opens up the “import” section. The first thing to do is establish a unique folder on iMovie for your photos and movie clips. So at the top of the import window, where it says “Import To”, drop the menu and choose “New Event”.

That opens a box with today’s date. You may want to change it to something memorable such as “company advertisement”, or whatever you are working on. If you end up working on multiple projects, you will need to keep everything separate.

Guide To iMovie Galaxy

Make sure that the new event is showing in the “Import To” box, then on the left hand side, navigate to the location of your media folder. When you get there, you will see your files appear in the main part of the window. Highlight them all (or the ones you want) and press the “Import Selected / Import All” button. They will now be copied and brought into iMovie.

Choosing Your Theme and Title

Now it’s time to press the “New” button.

This opens up the “themes” section. If you see something that you like, then feel free to choose it. However, don’t be confined to the theme’s restrictions. For a more flexible experience, choose “No Theme” instead.

Guide To iMovie Galaxy

A box will then pop up with the newly created event pre-filled. If not, drop down the menu and find the event you just made. Click OK, and you’re in.

Guide To iMovie Galaxy

Take the time to look around. The black rectangle to the right of the clips is the media player, for playing back what you have made. At the bottom is the area where you will be inserting your media and editing it to make your final masterpiece. Are you starting to feel like Stanley Kubrick, yet?

There are many ways to use iMovie, but this will be a quick and easy guide to give you a general overview of the program.

The Quick and Easy Way

Highlight all of the media with your mouse and drag it into the big window below.

Guide To iMovie Galaxy

At the top right of the big window is a slider. Moving it to the right will make your media bigger, so you can have finer control over what gets cut out.

In the bottom right of the iMovie window is a section called “Content Library”. Choose the “Titles” option. The titles are the screens upon which text is displayed. The text can either be placed on top of an image /piece of film, or it can be shown separately against a black background.

Guide To iMovie Galaxy

You can also choose between different types of animation. You really just have to choose which one best suits your needs. Here’s an example just to give an idea what happens when you choose and what to do next.

Click on your desired title page and drag it with your mouse down to the editing window to the position where you want it. When you get closer to the images / movie footage, they should automatically jump out of the way to let you drop the title page in.

Guide To iMovie Galaxy

If you want to place a title page in the middle of a piece of video footage, you will need to cut the video footage in two. This also works for images. Simply move the white thin vertical line that moves through the movie to the point where you want to cut. Then right-click and choose “Split Clip”.

The two parts should then divide, and you can then slide the title card in.

Guide To iMovie Galaxy

If at any time you make a mistake, don’t freak out. You can just do CMD + Z to undo your last action.

When you have all your title pages in place, it is then time to add the text. This is easy. Simply click on the title card and you will see it in the top right-hand media player screen. You will also see the default text highlighted, which can then be deleted.

Guide To iMovie Galaxy

Delete the default text and write your own. Choose your font, font size, font color, alignment, whether to use bold, italics or underlining, and so forth.

Your text is confined though by the boxes in the title cards. You are unable to make the boxes bigger, which is very frustrating.

Timing Each Sequence

When you enter an image, a piece of video footage, text, or music, it guesses how long each section should take. You can see it at the top of each part.

Guide To iMovie Galaxy

Invariably, these times are wrong, so you need to decide how long each part will be. Maybe you want to time the thundering crescendo of the music with a particular part?

To change it, simply click the part until it is highlighted. Then click on the right hand side of the section, and drag it along. You will then see the number of seconds increase. To make them decrease, slide it back to the left. Or CMD + Z to undo.

Now For a Little Music….

OK, now it’s time for the music. You have to remember copyrights here, and avoid just taking whatever music you want. You either need to pay the licensing fee to have the right to use someone’s music, or you need to use free public domain music. A good place to look for that is Creative Commons.

A Google search will throw up options, such as Free Stock Music. YouTube offers a fantastic service called “Audio Library” where you can download free public domain music for your movie projects. Some have ads and some don’t.

Although YouTube obviously prefers that you eventually upload your work to its site, there is no actual requirement for you to do so.

Guide To iMovie Galaxy

I would recommend that you avoid ad-supported music, because there are rules such as countries where the music can’t be played, and the copyright holder can make further rules later on, which you may not like. This would result in you having to redo everything. So play it safe and stick to the free stuff.

You can filter the selections by running time, genre, mood, instruments and duration. You can preview each one, and when you have got the one(s) you want, simply download it/them to your computer.

To get the music into your movie, just import it like you did with the images and video footage. The music will appear as green bars at the top of the software window, next to your images and video footage.

Just drag it with your mouse down below and place it at the beginning of the movie file (underneath the images and/or video footage.

Guide To iMovie Galaxy

If the music file is too long, and overruns past the end of your movie, then click where on the track the music should stop, right-click, and choose “Split Clip”. You can then delete the part you don’t need.

OK, you’re almost done. The next thing is to make one small alteration to the music. When music ends, or changes to other music, does it suddenly stop abruptly? No, it fades out quietly. So with the music here at the end, grab the music bars with the mouse and slowly move them to the left. You will then see a bar going from thick to thinner. This is the music fading out. Listen to it and see.

It’s Showtime!

OK, time to publish the final product. Go to “Share” in the top right-hand corner. This gives you a possibility of different places to send to. Or you can choose “File” so the finished product can be placed in the movie file on your computer.

Guide To iMovie Galaxy

So, choose “File” and edit the title of the movie, its description, and its resolution. iMovie will then create a finished file for you. This is not a fast process, so go do something else and come back later. Perhaps you need another cup of coffee?

And that is your basic guide to making a movie on iMovie. There is so much not covered here. But if this tutorial has given you the confidence to explore further, then please do. Perhaps you can spend some of your free time exploring the other options to make high quality video of your own.

Image: Apple

This article, “The Businessperson’s Guide To The iMovie Galaxy” was first published on Small Business Trends

from Blogger http://evangelinagius.blogspot.com/2015/05/the-businesspersons-guide-to-imovie.html

Google Grants 40 Percent of Right to Be Forgotten Requests

A new transparency report reveals that Google has granted hundreds of thousands of requests to be removed from search results in the first year of Europe’s controversial right to be forgotten program.

from Blogger http://evangelinagius.blogspot.com/2015/05/google-grants-40-percent-of-right-to-be.html

Can You Afford to Apply for a Loan?


There’s a lot for a small business owner to think about when preparing a business loan application.

But before you begin to compile documentation, take a step back and ask yourself — “Can I afford to apply for a loan?

Can I afford the repayments?

Does my business have the revenue to actually make the loan payments?”

In short, do you have the ability to pay for this business loan?

Asking these questions will help you think about the loan process from the lender’s point of view.

Can You Pay Back the Loan?

Most lenders use varying tools to determine if your business is worthy of a loan, and whether or not you can, in fact, pay it back.

One tool is a debt service coverage ration (DSCR), which compares the cash that you have available as a business owner (to pay back the loan) and the amount of money you hope to borrow per year, including interest.

Generally, banks are more comfortable offering assistance to businesses that have been in existence for a number of years and have a proven financial track record.

If your business has consistently made a profit and that profit can cover the payment of additional debt, it is likely that your loan will be approved.

If however, your business is a startup or has been operating marginally and has an opportunity to grow, you need to prepare a thorough loan package with a detailed explanation including how the business will be able to repay the loan.

More Importantly, Will You Pay Back the Loan?

Lenders look at more than your business’s finances when they evaluate your loan application. They will also look at you, the business owner, and will likely use another tool to determine your personal aptness for a loan — your debt-to-income ratio.

They’ll evaluate your monthly personal debts (including things like credit card payments and car loans) as well as your housing expenses (mortgage payments as well as homeowners insurance, property taxes, etc.). They’ll divide your total monthly debts by your monthly gross income to get a percentage.

Most lenders prefer debt-to-income ratios under 36 percent.

You can get a step ahead here by calculating your debt-to-income ratio yourself to see if your income far exceeds your debts. If it does, a lender may add some of the excess income to your business’s available cash, which can be helpful for businesses with DSCRs that need a boost.

Lenders may also use your personal credit score to decide if you are worth the risk, ensuring that you have a history of paying your bills. Banks and other traditional lending institutions may place a greater emphasis on credit scores, so if your personal credit isn’t great, you may want to look for other, alternative loan options that are more flexible.

Be Sure to Ask Yourself, “What If?”

Even if you know that you can and will pay back your loan, you have to consider the toughest question of them all — what would you do if you can’t pay it back?

Even with the best intentions and responsible planning, all business owners must have a plan in place in case the business does not work out. A typical backup plan might include assets or collateral that the bank can claim if you’re unable to pay back your loan, or an extra source of cash float that can go toward loan payments.

For many small business owners who don’t have that cushion, the backup plan could be what a lender might call a “personal guarantee” — a promise that if you can’t pay back the loan through your business, you’ll pay it out of pocket.

It goes without saying that assuming personal responsibility for business debt comes with a lot of risk, so be sure to consider your decision carefully. If every single part of your business plan would have to play out perfectly in order for you to pay back your loan, then it may not be time to apply for one yet.

Once you can address the questions above, you’re ready to decide if you should move forward with the loan application process.

ATM Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Can You Afford to Apply for a Loan?” was first published on Small Business Trends

from Blogger http://evangelinagius.blogspot.com/2015/05/can-you-afford-to-apply-for-loan.html

The Business Case for Gratitude, Become a Better Entrepreneur


Before you read deeper into this post, I’d like you to do something first: Take five seconds, close your eyes, and think of one thing that you’re thankful for.

It could be an important person in your life. It could be your new car. Maybe you’re just happy to have a roof over your head. Whatever it is, just hold that thought in your mind.

Yes, I know it’s a little cheesy, but do it anyway. You’ll be glad you did, I promise.

See? That wasn’t so bad, was it? It probably felt good, right?

Why is this important? Because doing this on a regular basis will make you a better entrepreneur. Gratitude isn’t just important for your mental health, it’s essential if you want to build a lucrative enterprise.

Years ago, I sat in a sales training where the presenter was discussing the topic of gratitude. I remember thinking “Why is this guy talking about gratitude in a sales training?”

It didn’t make sense to me. However, as he explained it further, I began to understand.

He proceeded to lay out the reasons why gratitude is important. He explained how it could impact our personal and professional lives. It was a compelling business case for gratitude.

After the presentation, I was slightly skeptical, but I figured it was worth a try, so I took some of his suggestions. I started keeping a gratitude journal. Every day, before I started working, I wrote 5 to 10 things that I was grateful for.

It changed my life. This post will tell you why.

Gratitude Helps You Become More Productive

When I began keeping my gratitude journal, I started seeing results in that first week. I noticed that I was far more motivated and focused. I found that it was easier for me to accomplish my goals and finish the tasks I had set out to complete.

This is because gratitude has been shown to increase determination, energy, and performance. People who are grateful are able to produce more than those who aren’t.

Not only that, people who are grateful find it easier to reach the goals they set for themselves.  Goals are important for any entrepreneur.

Gratitude also makes you healthier. It helps you sleep better, lower blood pressure, and boost your immune system. Healthier entrepreneurs get more done.

Gratitude Makes You a Better Leader

I managed a team of sales reps whose performance I was responsible for. This particular team had a more difficult job than the other sales teams in the company at that time. Because of this, it was important to maintain morale as best as I could.

I found out very quickly that being grateful is a non-negotiable factor if you want to be a great leader. Being grateful helps you to focus more on the positive traits of your team members rather than harping on their weaknesses and mistakes. When you hone in on your team’s strengths more than their weaknesses, it improves their performance.

Along with helping you coach your team to success, gratitude also motivates them to work harder. When a leader consistently expresses gratitude to their team members, it shows that the team’s efforts are noticed and appreciated.

Gratitude Helps you Sell Better

Having a grateful attitude made me a better salesman. To put it simply, when I practiced gratitude, my numbers went up.

It was uncanny. When I committed to writing in my gratitude journal daily, I sold better. It helped me become more persuasive. It also made it easier to connect with my customers, which made them more willing to buy from me.

This shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone. Having a grateful attitude heightens your mood, which makes you more personable to others. People tend to buy from people they know, like and trust. When you are more relatable, it’s more likely that your customers will like and trust you more.

It also helps to show gratitude to your customers. Customers are more likely to return to brands that make a sincere effort to show the customer that their business is appreciated.

It’s becoming more and more important for a brand to form deep bonds with their clients. Showing appreciation goes a long way towards establishing connections with your audience.

Gratitude Keeps You Sane

Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m an entrepreneur who gets discouraged, stressed, scared, frustrated and mildly insane from time to time. If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve likely gone through the same thing.

Gratitude helps me get through these crazy moments. It allows me to acknowledge my challenges while still focusing on what I’ve accomplished so far.

I have a lot to be thankful for. This knowledge is what keeps me sane when I’m going through the entrepreneurial emotional roller coaster.

If you’re feeling discouraged or frustrated, focus on the successes you have had. Think of the people who support you. Think of the vision you have for yourself as an entrepreneur.

Chances are, you have done things that many other people haven’t done. If you’re intentional about focusing on these things, it will make it easier to go through the tough seasons.

It’s been shown that gratitude greatly increases your mental strength. In 2003, it was found people who were grateful were far more resilient after the 9/11 attacks than those who were not. Even when you’re going through horrible experiences, gratitude can help you push through it.

Conclusion: Build a Culture of Gratitude

If you want to build a successful enterprise, you will be best served by focusing on developing a culture of gratitude. But first, you must develop this culture in yourself. It’s not easy for everyone, but the rewards of becoming more grateful can be enormous.

It can be contagious. When you exhibit gratitude on a regular basis, the people around you will become more grateful as well. As a leader, you can create an entire culture of gratitude in your company. Imagine what it would be like to have an entire team made up of people who are mentally strong, productive, healthy and persuasive. You would be unstoppable. Gratitude really is that powerful

Here’s some helpful tips to help you get started:

  • Keep a gratitude journal. Try to write at least three to five things that you’re thankful for each day. Don’t worry if there are repetitive items on the list each day; if you’re thankful for it, put it on the list.
  • Throughout the day, think about the things you wrote down. Remind yourself of how these things have benefited your life.
  • Practice gratitude. Put it into action. Look for opportunities to thank someone for something they did that you appreciate. Not only does this make you feel better, it also makes them feel better!
  • It’s okay to think about the things that frustrate you, but every time you do it, try to also think of something that you’re grateful for as well.

I can tell you from experience that being intentional about being grateful is not easy at first. But if you persist, it becomes easier over time. There are tools that can help you do this.

If you’re not convinced, just try it for a month. It couldn’t hurt, right? Eventually, you will find yourself being grateful without even trying, and you will notice a positive difference in your personal and professional life.

Young Entrepreneur Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “The Business Case for Gratitude, Become a Better Entrepreneur” was first published on Small Business Trends

from Blogger http://evangelinagius.blogspot.com/2015/05/the-business-case-for-gratitude-become.html