Attracting More Customers, Finding Good Employees, and Improving Your Customer Relation Skills
All businesses have many moving parts and pieces that contribute to or detract from their overall success. Profit margins, supply chain and inventory issues, customer relations, inflation, funding, cash flow, and competition are just the tip of the iceberg.
If you don't want to sail a sinking ship, you need to keep your ear to the ground (or deck, maybe?) on each and every one of these. But for today, we're going to focus on three areas that are all interconnected and can significantly impact your business -- for good or for bad.
Recruiting and Retaining Dedicated Employees.
Developing Good Customer Service.
- For a business to grow, you need to attract more customers.
- More customers mean you need to hire more employees to keep up with the demand.
- More demand means more employee and customer interactions.
- More interactions mean more opportunities for employees to provide excellent (or not so excellent) customer service.
- Excellent customer service means more customers are coming to your door.
- More customers mean…well, you get the idea.
They are like the wheels on a tricycle; each one depends on the others to stay upright. You can have fantastic employees and great customer service, but that only works if you have the customers. Your marketing could be working like gangbusters, but if you don't have the employees to meet the demand, you're not going to get very far.
Continue reading for a closer look at each of these "wheels" and the actionable steps you can start today.
Every business, no matter the size, wants to attract new customers. That's why companies shell out insane amounts of green to get their message into consumers' faces. (Check out the going rate for the 2023 Superbowl.) But for smaller businesses that don't have the same amount of cash and resources to devote to marketing and advertising, how do they reach new customers?
- Ask for referrals. Use customer loyalty to your advantage and ask them to recommend your products or services to friends. You can even set up a reward system for extra incentivization.
- Reconnect with previous customers. Their reasons for separating may vary, but it's worth reaching out to see if circumstances have changed or to apprise them of any new updates or offers they might be interested in.
- Attend community events. The late Queen famously said, "I have to be seen to be believed." Get your face out there and start connecting with the community you serve.
- Update your website. A frequent way customers discover new businesses is through an online search. It's a crowded space, and if you want to stand out, make sure your site is easy to find, easy to navigate, and clearly identifies what you do and how to reach you.
Recruiting and Retaining Dedicated Employees
Having the right team in place can make all the difference for your business's success (not to mention your sanity). But finding, hiring, training, AND keeping good employees can be pretty challenging. A revolving door makes it difficult to operate and scale; it's like trying to brush your teeth with a mouthful of Oreos -- it just keeps getting worse.
- Describe your ideal employee. What skills would you like them to have? What qualities should they possess? You don't need to make it a black-and-white issue, but this will at least provide some clarity on the type of person you would like to hire.
- Spend time on your job ads. Don't go generic for the sake of time. Your job ads should be well thought out, detailed, and specific to the role you're trying to fill. Jeff Brekken (owner and founder of Blue Sky Benefits Solutions) recommends placing employer questions within the job itself -- and if an applicant hasn't bothered to answer them, their resume automatically goes into the trash. This can save you a lot of time sorting through applications of people who can't follow simple instructions. (Listen to our entire conversation with Jeff over on the Liquid Lunch Project podcast.)
- Train your employees. Once you have hired the right person for the job, train them well. You probably didn't bring a mind reader onto your staff, so take the time to provide training, support, and clear communication of your goals and expectations.
- Create and improve your SOPs. When was the last time you looked at or updated your Standard Operating Procedures? Your employees will be more successful if they have standardized processes they can follow that clearly explain every aspect of their job and responsibilities.
- Invest in your employees. That revolving door we mentioned can be pretty expensive, so retaining your employees and keeping them happy and satisfied with their work will pay huge dividends in the long run. Obviously, more money in the paycheck is always a popular choice, but you can also offer flexible scheduling options, reward them with extra days off, provide mentorship, give public kudos for a job well done, cover a portion of their health insurance, or give them buy-in to the company.
Developing Good Customer Service
One of the advantages or disadvantages (depending on how you want to look at it) of the digital age is that everyone's opinions on anything and everything can live in perpetuity online. That's great if you've made someone happy, but customers will not hesitate to put you on blast if they're unsatisfied with any aspect of your business. The best way to mitigate these scenarios is to ensure you and your team provide top-notch customer service.
- Be proactive, not reactive. Don't wait to address customer concerns or complaints after the grievance has been aired. You'll have a much harder time salvaging the relationship. Instead, a simple follow-up to ask if they're satisfied with the service or product they received can go a long way and can help you fix any problems before it goes public.
- Be accessible. How easy can your customers reach you if they have a concern? Can your contact information be found online? When they call in, do they have to wait through a long list of prompts to get them to the correct department? (Which, let's face it, will only add to their displeasure.) Consider simplifying the process so they can speak with someone more quickly. Set up an auto-reply email that lets them know their message has been received and how soon they can expect a response.
- Develop your communication skills. In a soon-to-be-released episode of The Liquid Lunch Project podcast, our guest Brenden from MasterTalk asked our listeners when was the last time they thought about their communication goals. Every time you interact with someone is an opportunity to grow your business -- so it's crazy that we don't spend more time and energy developing this skill. (Brenden holds a free workshop to improve your communication skills - register here. We also recommend tuning into our conversation with Steve Sims, the communication master.)