The Art of Customer Service every business should adopt

As important as branding and advertising are, one of the most important elements of selling a product/service is customer service.

Excellent customer service puts your business ahead of the competition as it is something that is often missing from the a lot of countries, especially the Ghanaian business model.

Small businesses tend to jump straight to digital marketing or advertising without taking a moment to fully understand their business model and industry and how their product (or service), pricing, place (online store or brick & mortar store) and people (service personnel) intertwine and affect the overall brand and ROI.

In case you didn’t know, people are one of the most important aspects of the business, that is service personnel across the production line or yourself if you are running a run man show.

Customer service does not begin and end at the point of transaction and as a small business owner, you must consider the pre-purchase experience, purchase experience, and post-purchase experience

So what does this mean for your business? 

Pre-purchase experience

This refers to the experience your customer has with your brand before they decide to purchase anything. Is your website appealing? Does it have enough information to allow the customer to make an informed decision – or are your photos outdated? How is your advertising?

Are people speaking positively about your brand?

Purchase experience

This is the actual moment of transaction where you exchange the product (or service) for payment. If you run an online store, you must consider your interface – is your website easy to navigate? How does your customer pay for their purchase – do you have Mobile Money integrated? Can they use a Visa Card?

There are many services in Ghana that allow you to develop a website that allows your customers to shop online. A personal favorite is Storefoundry, it works very well for small businesses in Ghana.

If you run an actual brick & mortar store, what is the ambiance like? Is it easy for customers to locate the products in your store? Are they on high shelves and do they always need an attendant to help?

Is your store so small that your customers can only come in one at a time? Is your shop attendant interactive, willing to help and offer alternatives? Or are they constantly on their phone?

Post-purchase experience

This covers your follow-ups and interaction with the client after the transaction. Are you bombarding them with irrelevant SMS messages and emails? If you provide a delivery service, was your delivery driver dressed appropriately?

Below are practical tips you can put into action to make sure your customer service is top notch.

  • Recruitment & Training – Recruitment and training is the beginning of providing excellent customer service. Even if you are running a run man show, you need to stay up to date on customer relationship trends and train yourself to always put the customer first.  If you are hiring others to handle the customer interaction, make sure you hire people who know and understand the vision of the brand and are willing to be brand ambassadors both inside and outside the workplace. Personnel must also be conversant in the industry-speak as well as in the product itself, in order to serve as a salesperson.
Hiring the right people will allow you to build the right company culture that is well aligned with the brand Click To Tweet
  • Go the extra mile – The data you collect from your customers serve many purposes. One of the main ones is to compile a mailing list for your newsletter but another important use would be to study your customer’s purchasing habits and stay a step ahead of them all the time. Group your customers by date of birth and send out a personal message to them via text message or Whatsapp, which has become a popular medium for business communication in Ghana. Get to know your customers personally, are they parents? Do they celebrate religious holidays? Make sure to reach out to them accordingly.
Reminding customers that you have them on your mind will make them feel involved with the brand. Click To Tweet
  • Feedback is key – Receiving feedback from your customers at least once a quarter is important. Simple tools such as Google Forms or Survey Monkey are helpful for designing easy to use surveys which gives you direct feedback from your customers and clients. This way, your clients feel involved with and connected to your brand.

 

  • Appearance – You and your staff’s appearance is one of the most important elements in building a strong brand. Ensure that staff (and yourself) look the part at all times. Customers appreciate a smile and a helping hand, as difficult as it may be on some occasions.

The best way to make sure your customer service is on point is to align the pre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase experience to ensure a smooth transaction!

Go forth and provide an excellent service!

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4 simple steps for developing a marketing strategy for your Small Business

It’s common to see many small business owners unintentionally ignore marketing, as in this digital age, a lot of SME’s interchange ‘marketing’ with ‘social media’ and ‘advertising’.

This article aims to get small business owners to think about marketing holistically and systematically. Marketing is definitely not a few social media posts with a few Instagram ads here and there. You need to put in WORK!

Running a small business without a strategy in place leads to confusing your customers with mixed messages, and worst of all, confusing yourself with a lack of direction.

We’ve put together for you, some simple steps to developing a marketing strategy as a small business owner.

Step 1: Take a step back

Look at your entire business as it relates to your marketing strategy, plans, and campaigns as well as your competitors, your customers and your industry as a whole.

Take the time to write (or type) things down, getting your thoughts out of your head allows you to see the bigger picture.

Step 2: Plan ahead

Lucky for you, here is a FREE template you can use ( because who doesn’t like freebies?) to develop your marketing strategy, which you can download and work through. Make sure you are as thorough as you can so you don’t get overwhelmed later on when it is time to execute your plans.

When you answer these questions, it is time to think about how they will affect your marketing communication.

Step 3: Communicate appropriately

Your communication depends on your strategy (which you should have created using the template above). For example, if you provide a home service or you offer delivery services, your communication should play upon the element of convenience.

If you do not have a permanent location and offer a nomadic experience, then your communication should play up the element of mystery.

If your target customer does not have a car and uses public transportation, your location is key as it needs somewhere that is close to where your customer works/lives or you can consider a delivery service and cut down on your overheads.

Your product, customer base, and price point will determine your tone of voice in your communication for example, if you are selling luxury high-end handbags to women over 40 years old, it is not advisable to use slang such as ‘slay’, ‘beat’ or extensively refer to popular culture as your customers are unlikely to relate.

If you are selling a luxury product/service, your communication should be minimal, professional, impersonal and aesthetically pleasing. Make sure you are not partnering with brands that might dilute the luxury i.e. lower end brands or brands that cater to a completely different market in the same industry.

If you are selling a product/service that is complementary to another e.g. if you are a makeup artist, your service complements or relies on makeup products and tools. Therefore, your communication can involve displaying makeup products or you can possibly collaborate with brands that offer the complementary product/service.

Step 4: Stick to your plans

Defining your USP (Unique Selling Point) and communicating effectively will allow you to play up your strengths and allow you to stay consistent and relevant in your consumers’ minds. You will be able to let your customers know exactly what problem your product/service solves and what gap it fills.

Without actually writing down these points, you may be communicating something that you think is a strength but is actually your weakness in comparison to your competitors.

Once your marketing strategy is in place, it becomes easier to develop your marketing plan for different instances, e.g. your launch, new product releases, and your seasonal campaigns.

Go forth and strategize!

You vs Them: Staying relevant in the dawn of rising business competition

Never, ever, lose sight of your business game because of the competition Click To Tweet

Competition is everywhere. These days, everything is basically a competition in business, from online DIY blogs and vlogs giving clients all the information for the same services you render to the new enemy in the block rendering the exact same services or product your offer.

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On the bright side however, competition can be healthy for your business and customers too (they literally pray for it). Every customer loves to have a wide range of options and the universe is big enough to accommodate you and a million others to do business.

So rather than putting all your energy in prayers for your competitor(sss) to fold up pretty soon, it’ll be much better for you to start pouring all that energy into keeping your business relevant and on top the lighthouse, and here’s how:

First things first, avoiding irrelevance is the first major step to take in staying relevant

really? gifSo at every point, always halt and ask yourself (with or without the competition) if your business is still relevant. You should also ask if your relevance is slowly fading out. This helps you understand and reinvent your business better to fit the changing times.

Keep your eyes on the game:

cookie empire gifNever let your competitors get you all jerky and stuff. Stay focused on your business, consolidate on your strengths, and work on strengthening your weaknesses. Think about:

Build integrity for your business and keep it that way. Say what you have and offer what you can give, this will keep your customers coming back to you even after checking out a new competition. Never, ever, lose sight of your game because of the competition.

Do a Lil’ Checking Out: Eyes on your game all right, but a lil’ spying never hurt anybody.

cookie eyeing gifTake a moment to check out your competitors, do some quick research, find out all you can about them especially their greatest strength and weakness. Leverage on their weakness and see what you can do about their strength.

However, don’t panic and copycat the enemy in desperation. Don’t go slashing your prices when you clearly don’t need to, because your competitor has done so.

Do Not Be The Last To Trend:

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Time waits for no one and so does technology. Whether it’s a start-up or full grown business, don’t stay sleeping on your achievements and get left behind. Be innovative, research on the latest technology, (and the ones to come) and constantly build your brand to fit in before you walk into a Kodak moment.

This also involves understanding that diverse locations have diverse customer needs. Know your customers and know what is in trend for them, like if they more concerned about service or quality, or price.

Spice Up Your Marketing Strategy:

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Constantly make an effort to spice up your marketing strategy. It could be with a re-branded logo or a new tag line, loyalty discounts and promotions on your services and products, collaborating with other products or services related to yours, anything to customizing your bottle with individual consumers’ names (we know who did this one).

#MotherlandMogul key word: Keep it spiced up, don’t hang on stale strategy (even if it was once a major hit).

Take Care Of Your In-House:

maryj-gifTreat your employees great and make them understand the goal, cause employees can make or mar your business, sista. You don’t want your employees telling your clients (through words or actions) why patronizing your competitor might be a better idea.

We know the competition can be fierce sista, but so are you. So, put on some stilettos, and get to work; today is for good business *raises glass*