Customer service advice for small businesses

If you’re a small business such as a dentist, medical specialist, auto shop, hairstylist, or veterinarian, you know how important each customer is to your bottom line. You can’t afford to lose a customer or patient due to a bad experience, and many of your customers might come to you specifically because they want the “white glove” customer support you can give them.

Every small business should strive to provide best-in-class customer support to its clients. The business that can make its customers feel special is the one who will foster loyalty and return visits. Additionally, your reputation – both online and via word-of-mouth marketing – will improve.

A Starter Guide: Customer Service Advice for Small Businesses 

Treat every client like they’re you’re only client… to a point

For any business, quality customer service and support are vital in keeping customers happy and willing to recommend you to their family, colleagues, and friends. If you strive to treat every client like they’re your only client, it’s a win-win. Just make sure you’re not neglecting other clients. Some advice:

  • If you can, assign a Customer Success Representative to each client, and try to have this be the point of contact for that client. Establishing a consistent representative for your business can help make your customer feel more comfortable and understood.
  • Avoid canned responses, and when possible, tailor your communications directly to your client, making sure to keep their preferred communication method and channel in mind.

Set boundaries and expectations… make sure you’re on the same page

If you’re going to grow your business, you need to recognize that some customers are better for your business than others. What this means is that as long as you show respect for your customers and treat them well, they will (and should) respect you and how you run your business. This is the customer that will help you grow, and the kind you want to keep coming back. If you don’t set boundaries with your customers, they can end up creating unneeded stress and consuming valuable time. Some advice:

  • You don’t need to be a 24/7 business if that doesn’t fit within your business model. It’s important that you run your business on your own terms and establish a clear day-to-day schedule with your customers. If you continue making exceptions, your customers might understandably not even know when you are truly open, and continue to expect “after hours” service.
  • Keep your business listings online up-to-date and send out text and/or email communications to your customers when you have modified or changing hours.

Handle things promptly… remember who your audience is

When you’re dealing with anything on social media, it’s critical to always respond quickly and in a professional manner. According to some studies, over 67 percent of Internet users are on social networks, and this means that you need to develop strong relationships with your customers on and offline. Think of it like a relationship: if one side thinks the other isn’t communicating, listening, or engaging, then a breakup might be on the horizon. Remember…

  • On social media, silence leads to losing customers – no response, or a slow response, can be read as apathy or coldness by customers
  • You don’t need to respond seconds after a post, but you should respond. Some incentive? A Harris study showed that 18 percent of people who posted negative reviews and received a reply went on to become loyal customers. And 70 percent reversed the content, either by deleting the negative comment or posting a follow-up positive one. 

It never hurts to ask… for referrals and testimonials 

If you’ve been in business for more than a few months, you probably know that referrals are one the most effective ways to grow your business and attract new, loyal customers. However, you also may HATE asking for referrals, or just not know how. Don’t assume that your customers will just talk about your business, and your great customer service. Remember: the more you ask for referrals, the more you’ll get. Here are some tips:

  • Make asking for a referral part of your routine. With some systems, like Demandforce, you can automatically send a referral follow-up to customers who have just visited your business. These are great ways to not only collect feedback on how you’re doing, but also allow your customers to review you and post those reviews online. Remember that most people like to help out others, especially if it’s not a complicated process.
  • Combine asking for referrals with requesting testimonials – consider creating testimonial cards that you can pass out at your front desk, so that someone can write one and then either drop it in the mail, or email you back. You can also send a targeted email requesting a testimonial or feedback from customers who have rated you highly in a review.

Looking for more advice on how to provide best-in-class customer service? It’s always a good idea to improve your communications, and Demandforce can help. Contact us today to see a demo. We believe in stellar customer service as well! Every Demandforce customer is paired with a Customer Success Manager, who will help you set up and optimize any and all Demandforce features to best suit your business and business goals. Call us at (888) 272-7821, or visit demandforce.com.

 

How Clickable Are Your CTAs?

A Call-to-Action (CTA) is a vital part of any business website and digital campaign. CTAs are the buttons or links that push traffic to where you want it to go. They drive sales, are important indicators showing how effective your campaigns are, and they are crucial in moving prospects further into the sales process.

Therefore, you should care how clickable your CTAs are, and take the time to test different messages and words to determine what phrases connect to your customers. In this article, we will discuss how to determine how clickable your Call-to-Action buttons are, and we’ll give you some examples of CTAs you could use.

How to build & test your CTAs

When done right, your Call-to-Action button can act as a visual attention-grabber that, when paired with a compelling message and offer, drive people to action. But even creating the CTA can seriously impact your click-through and conversion rate. So here are a few hints on how to test (and build) your CTAs.

Use active language

This might take you back to your high school English class, but active language motivates people much more than passive phrasing. Remind people why they want to take action to encourage clicks as well.

For example, when A/B tested, the phrase “Create My Account & Get Started” converted better than just “Create My Account.” And “Download to Save Time” converted more than just “Download.”

Show the benefit

It follows, then, that providing information about the benefit of clicking also helps. This doesn’t have to be within the button itself, but you can provide information within the same landing page or area your button shows up.

Test button design

The button itself has proven to matter for conversions, so always test certain variables to see what works best for you. Here are our favorites to test:

  • Color – consider contrasting colors that don’t blend into the background
  • Position – test placing the button above the fold, or below all the content needed to explain the offer
  • Size – Don’t get too crazy, but remember the button should be large enough to be easily seen among the other elements on your page
  • Special Effects – Consider graphic enhancements such as rounded corners, drop shadows, or a different hover color
  • White Space – Remember to keep white space around your button, and play with how much so that the eye is quickly drawn to and can stay focused on the CTA

It’s all in the language

So now we come to arguably the most obvious, and most difficult aspect to test in a CTA – the language itself. An ad adage to remember as you think about CTA copy is: people buy with emotion, but follow with logic.

You might have heard that CTAs must convey an urgency to attract impulse clickers, and that CTA should clearly communicate what will happen once you click the button. This is not an area for cleverness or subtlety.

For example, you might be surprised at the lower conversion rates for “Buy Now” buttons, but when you consider that some users might believe their credit card will be automatically charged if they click it… that’s why you see more “Add to Cart” or “Download Now”

Of course, the text does need to match what type of business you are, and what you are trying to get the visitor to do. But if you’re looking for help, Demandforce has done the heavy lifting for you. Our custom email campaigns use optimized language that is proven to drive click-throughs and engagement with your customers.

Some tips:

  • Once you pick a button, keep it consistent on your page. Carry the format and even language through so that your visitors know and familiarize themselves with your buttons.
  • Keep the opportunity. Sometimes soft CTAs work better than hard sells. Language such as “View offers”, “Learn more”, “Shop all” can keep people interested and clicking more than immediate sells, like “Buy now” or “Sign Up.”

Test, test, test!

The best advice we can give you to improve your CTA is to research, test, and tweak! Work with your designers and website guru and A/B test your CTAs on your site and on landing pages. Run user tests to figure out what colors and layout resonate the most with specific demographics. Check in on your analytics and remember – don’t test or change everything at once, or you won’t be able to tell what aspect affected your conversion or click-through rate.

Effective Email Marketing Tips for Small Businesses

As the season changes and the holidays approach, we thought it would be a good time for a refresher on effective email marketing tips for small businesses. Keeping your finger on the pulse of what’s working in email marketing can mean the difference between percentages in open rates, engagement, and – in the end – revenue.

The following is our newly compiled list of effective email marketing tips to help your business drive email opens, CTR, and customer engagement.

Plan out your emails and know your holiday dates

You might be surprised at how many businesses don’t give any thought to even a simple email marketing strategy; and yet then wonder why their opt-outs are rising and their emails are not connecting with their customers. Before you send out your next email, take some time (even just half an hour) to sit down and think through the next couple emails you might send out. Know your upcoming holiday dates—such as Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday—and think about how you might want to connect your emails to these dates.

Not only that, but plan what types of emails you’ll send. Which ones will have offers, and what offers; which ones will be content, and which will contain imagery. Planning out your emails helps take your customer through a journey that keeps them engaged and connected in your business.

Utilize email marketing automation

The holidays are always a busy time for businesses, and your customers as well. So instead of spending time setting up and wrestling with a series of individual emails, let email marketing automation do the heavy lifting for you. Once you have an idea of your email-marketing plan, you can create all your emails at once, and then set them to automatically send on a certain date. This saves you from headaches and last-minute emergencies, and also provides a consistent experience for your customers.

Consider offering opt-down, not just opt-out

Every business has to deal with subscribers who, for whatever reason, decide to opt-out of your emails. The good news is, you’re not alone in having to tackle this issue; the better news is, we have a way to cut back on complete unsubscribes! One way you can keep potential unsubscribers in your email marketing database is by offering an opt-down option, not just an opt-out. An opt-down means you’d send these individuals fewer emails, yet keep them in your communication stream.

Get creative with your content

Keeping your content different and fresh is a great way to drive CTR and engagement. A major study showed that a large majority of U.S. adults in fact enjoy receiving email communication from businesses they use and like, as long as that information is relevant and informative. If you establish yourself as a thought leader who has interesting things to say, or provides useful information, then your emails will be opened more and shared, and you will gain more legitimacy as a business. Another effective tip for your emails – using big, bold imagery that fills the frame for the hero images, and graphics over stock imagery.

Utilize segmentation and personalization

Another email marketing tip to remember – you should be utilizing segmentation and personalization in all your email marketing. Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened, and (according to DMA) marketers have found a 760% increase in email revenue from segmented campaigns. This means that you should be sending email offers and messages to your customers based on past purchases or behavior patterns, to foster open rates and stay on their radar.

Add social sharing buttons

Adding social sharing buttons to the bottom of your emails is an easy way to expand the natural reach of your email marketing campaigns, funnel readers to your social media channels, and integrate your marketing efforts.

Weed out inactive subscribers

An important email marketing tip is to pay attention to your inactive subscribers and make sure that you’re removing them from your email database so that they don’t end your email campaigns before they even have a chance to begin. You can use engagement scoring to determine engagement levels, and clear out from there.

Create events to drive customers to your business

An email marketing tip to remember in this digital age is that while it might be almost all about digital, you cannot forget the importance of in-person interaction, especially if your business has a brick and mortar side. In-person, a subscriber has more of a likelihood of making a purchase once they arrive, so consider tailoring an email marketing campaign around driving people to a special event hosted at your business, offering them exclusive deals that can only be used in person.

2016 Marketing Imperative for Small Businesses – Strengthening Your Online Reputation

Did you know that there are 3 billion+ Internet users across the globe, and this number is growing at a rate of 9% per year? That’s a lot of potential customers for your business, and a great opportunity to promote your name and reputation.

Of all the marketing trends we’ve seen this year, one stands out as imperative for businesses that want to continue to grow and attract new customers. The 2016 marketing imperative for small businesses is: to take immediate steps to strengthen and manage your online reputation.

Why your online reputation is so important

Your online reputation is your most important asset because it allows you to achieve all your business goals. It’s a digital age, where over 77% of searches for businesses begin online, and 92% of consumers read online reviews before making a service provider or purchasing decision.

A strong online reputation influences consumer decisions and trust, and when consumers trust you, they buy from you, become returning customers, and refer you to their family and friends.

In fact, a recent Pew Statistics poll showed that 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations over any other marketing – like ads. Professional marketers will tell you that trust is the #1 factor in making a positive first impression. Don’t believe it? Ask yourself: do YOU trust someone with a bad reputation? Neither will your customers.

A positive reputation can drastically improve your bottom line

There are many statistics that prove consumers value online reviews, and look at them before making a decision on where to go, or what to buy. And there’s even more evidence that a bad reputation can hurt your business, as a poor reputation leads to decreased word-of-mouth referrals, consumer trust, and bookings.
So what can you do about your online reputation?

So what can you do about your online reputation? First, you need to figure out where you are with it right now. Ask yourself these questions to gauge your current status:

  • When was the last time you searched for yourself on Google?
  • When was the last time you checked out your website? Do you have a website?
  • Do you have a Yelp, Google+, and CitySearch page?
  • Do you have social media set up – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram?
  • Do you send emails to your customers?
  • Do you have a loyalty program, recall process, or welcome email set up?
  • What is your current rating on the most popular review sites?
  • How do you handle feedback or comments online? Do you respond? How quickly?
  • How easy is it for people to book an appointment with you?

The answers to these questions can help you understand how visible and engaged you are currently with building and managing your online presence.

Some Quick Online Reputation Wins to Jump-Start the Process

Here are some quick wins you can do to immediately bolster your online reputation.

  • Respond immediately to any feedback or review posted online
  • Utilize email marketing campaigns for your new, current, and lapsed customers
  • Make sure you own and update your Google Local, Yelp, and social media pages
  • Request reviews from your customers/patients – the more reviews you get, the more legitimate and trustworthy you seem to be to others

Building a strong online reputation does not happen overnight, but if you establish a good foundation and you have a way to manage and track everything you do, you will be well on your way to strengthening your reputation and growing your business. If you want a partner who has experience with helping businesses like your achieve quick and lasting results, Demandforce can help.

Demandforce is an all-in-one platform that can help your business with its marketing, its customer communications, and appointment reminders and confirmation process. You can automate reminders, set up custom email campaigns and send newsletters, track confirmations and easily follow up with unconfirmed appointments, and even work on customer recall.

Visit www.demandforce.com to find out all about what we can do for your business, and if you’d like to speak with someone directly – you can at (866) 507-7016. You can also sign up to view a demo, to fully understand all the features and benefits of this powerful marketing and business tool. View the Demo Now.