Archive for January, 2011

In today’s technological age, people communicate primarily through e-mail.  While we communicate with both our friends and business associates via e-mail, rules of professionalism and politeness still apply.  Your e-mail communications are a part of your professional image, and as such, you must pay attention when sending off even the quickest of electronic communications.

If you want to impress the recipients, you have to make sure they choose to read your e-mail.  As such, take the time to make a meaningful subject line.  Your header should be pertinent to your message, and should stand out from the volume of other e-mails in the recipient’s in-box.  Additionally, don’t forget to update your header each time you reply.

Once your recipient opens your email, make sure you have properly personalized it.  Even though e-mail is informal, it should still always have a greeting.  Your email will seem rude and unpleasant without a greeting, and you want the tone of your message to seem professional and friendly.  On that note, always choose your words carefully to make sure your email has an appropriate tone.  Sarcasm, for instance, while appropriate in oral communications often comes across differently via e-mail.

Finally, your e-mail is a representation of you.  Always check spelling and grammar.  If you don’t, people will question the quality of your work.  Additionally, say only what needs to be said.  People skim or ignore e-mails that are too long.  If your e-mail is overly long, the topic probably shouldn’t be communicated via e-mail.  Pick up the phone or schedule a meeting.  Additionally, don’t expect people to respond right away.  If the communication is urgent and requires an imminent response, use the phone.  People check their messages at their convenience, not yours.

E-mail makes everything easier and faster.  It can also quickly establish positive professional relationships and make a powerful business impression.  Poorly written e-mails can just as quickly do the opposite.  Use technology effectively and appropriately, and you will see the results of your effort.

Negotiating Successful Customer Relations

Monday, January 17th, 2011

When faced with a combative customer, you often seem to face only two options– to fight back or to submit. Neither of these options is a good idea.  Assertive behavior, instead, is the best way to quell a belligerent customer. Battling a customer is a negotiation, and the most optimal outcome isn’t always winning. Achieving a state of cooperation rather than one of domination or submission is usually the best option for both a negotiator and a small business owner.  Great negotiators listen to and mirror their opponents in an effort to eventually take control of the negotiations.

Listen: Playing poker involves a level of negotiation.  The player who bets last often has a large advantage because he or she knows the most.  The player hears the other bets first and can use the extra information to optimize his or her utility.  The same goes for customer relations.  When you allow difficult customers to speak first, you can use what they tell you to craft the right response.

Mirror. There is an old saying that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  Research using monkeys has shown that this may be truer than we think.  Monkeys prefer working with researchers who imitate them, and often humans do as well.  Mirroring someone promotes social bonding, and thus can help with persuasion.  One rule of mirroring during negotiations is to do so subtly, don’t be obvious.  Mirror the customer’s body language, tone of voice and talking speed.  If a customer is yelling, try to align yourself (or face the same direction) with your customer; do not imitate the violent behavior.  Mirroring and alignment promote feelings of trust and cooperation.

Cooperate. Once you have established a rapport, you can start to move the conversation where you want it to go.  You have been approached by a customer, no matter how difficult that customer is being, because the customer believes you can help them.  Usually, helping the customer helps your business and you can work together to reach a solution.

Using these small non-verbal cues, you can begin to control the outcome when faced with belligerent customers.  Rather than facing customer resentment by fighting back, or customer superiority by adhering to demands, you can work towards a mutually beneficial cooperative solution.



Friday, January 7th, 2011

Customer care is the service that you provide to your customers on a daily basis and it is extremely important to the success of your business.  In today’s economy, it is especially important to keep your current customers happy.

Customer Care and Word of Mouth

Appreciate your customers!  This is everyone’s responsibility – business owners, managers and employees.  Satisfied customers are easier to retain and your appreciation of them translates to good word-of-mouth communication.  In this technological age, word spreads faster than ever – make it positive!  Keeping customers satisfied is critical to the success of your business and your bottom line.

Communicate and Appreciate

Quality customer care is characterized by excellent communication and appreciation.  To develop long-term relationships with your customers, you should strive for optimal communication and appreciation every day!