Worth of a Customer

Worth of a Customer
Back in the days of the long distance phone wars, I thought some of their policies where nuts. Checks passed out for switching to their service, special rates for switching over, etc. One friend of ours made no long distance calls, but bragged how he kept switching companies every few months so someone would sent him a check. It became a source of income.

My mother-in-law never switched companies at least not for many years. Yet her rates were higher than everyone else’s. She got tired of seeing the special deals going to everyone else. She called to complain. Not happy with their answer, something to the effect if she wanted lower rates she just needed to call them an request such, she changed her service. Not only that, she sold all her stock in that same company, which was a blessing in disguise.

If only they realized the value of a loyal customer instead of rewarding disloyal customers. Then you have customers who leave because they are taken for granted, no sign of appreciation, no personal contact, just recorded messages and the voice mail system which never solves your specific problem. What does it take to get a live operator?

Seth Godin understands the value of a customer. If your read his Embracing Lifetime Value you’ll see he suggests figuring the value of each customer over time. Puts each client in a new perspective.

Find out the value of each customer, remember it. See if it doesn’t change how you treat your customers.

Image by Aresauburn

Treat Your Clients Like Celebrities

Donna Cutting

Customers are precious. They keep us in business. They are not just numbers on spreadsheets. These precious clients are human beings with their own dreams, hopes, lives. I don’t know about you, but I love my customers, I want them to stay. They are a great group of people. Customer loyalty is a 2-way street. If you treat them like just another number, you may wake up one morning and find they evaporated overnight.

I’ve had the pleasure of reading Donna Cutting’s book The Celebrity Experience, and no matter the size of your company, it is a book worth reading. Not only is it informative, but The Celebrity Experience is enjoyable to read. I’ve had the pleasure to ask Donna a few questions, and here are her answers.

1.What are some of the most important things a small company on a shoe-string budget can do to make their clients feel like celebrities

Here’s one of the best tips I can offer – get to know your customers! In casual conversation, see if you can pick up on the following items:

  • Their birthday
  • Their children’s birthdays
  • Their children’s names
  • Their pet’s names
  • Their hobbies and interests
  • Their anniversaries
  • Their favorite stores
  • Their favorite music
  • Their favorite foods
  • Their dreams for the future
  • Etc
  • Use that information to WOW them! Clip articles that might be of interest and send it to them. Send birthday cards to them and their family members. Send a holiday card to their beloved pet! Greet them in your office with their favorite drinks or snacks.

    I learned a lot about this from the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center Celebrity Services Department. The first time I was there they heard me casually (and without intention) mention that I liked blood oranges. Someone snuck a few into my hotel room later that day. On my next visit, blood oranges were not in season – however, I arrived to my hotel room to find two bottles of blood orange juice!

    Keep your ears open and imagination working and you’ll come up with many fun ways to WOW your customers without spending a lot of money.

    2.I remember horror stories from a company that had a very high turnover rate among their employees. It had become a toxic environment. The owner said “I rule by fear.” He believed that people are motivated by fear, and the only way to get 150% from your employees is when they fear losing their job or getting ridiculed in front of their peers. In fact, he fired an assistant who dared to tell him otherwise. He’d have food catered for his clients, lavish parties, then turn around and fuss when leftovers were served to his employees. Never mind they were working overtime for his event. What would you tell such an owner?

    I’m not sure I could tell that boss anything – sounds like his mind is made up! However, if he would listen, I would tell him that you can’t do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result. Bottom line, he is losing time and money with high employee turnover – and if he continues to treat his employees like the bottom of the barrel, he will continue to waste time and money replacing his staff.

    While he may think he’s getting 150% of his employees, I would be surprised if that were true! People are no longer loyal to companies because, frankly, the world has changed. The days of staying with one company forever, celebrating 40 years and collecting your pension are over. However, people ARE loyal to bosses. If they have a boss that inspires them, challenges them, appreciates them, and respects them, and makes them feel good about the work they do, they will give MORE than 150%. Show me a boss who disrespects his employees and I will show you employees who are disengaged in their job.

    The companies profiled in The Celebrity Experience all have this in common – they work to treat their employees the way they want their employees to treat their customers. They lead by example. For instance, the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, TN has seen much higher customer satisfaction scores in recent years. This is directly related to their decision a few years ago to put their STARS (Gaylord employees) first, their service second, and their product third. Treating your employees well, while training them and holding them accountable (in a respectful way), will result in better service to your customers.

    3.What is the “Booger Principle?’ or do we need to read the book to find out?

    LOL! Everyone loves that chapter. Actually, they do – and not just because of the title. The Booger Principle is the commitment to tell the truth because you care. Tell the truth to your customers, your employees, and yourself – even when it’s difficult. It’s about the fact that you will instill trust within your customers by being honest in all circumstances. Sometimes the Emperor needs to be told he has no clothes – and sometimes the Emperor is you.

    It’s called The Booger Principle because of a story told to me by Rita Tateel, owner of The Celebrity Source, about a celebrity on the red-carpet. And yes….you’ll have to read The Celebrity Experience to find out the full story.

    The Celebrity Experience by Donna Cutting

    This was a guest post as part of a blog tour conducted by Key Business Partners

    Yesterday, the blog tour made a stop here:
    Karen Putz / Karen Putz.com
    Debba Haupert / Girlfriendology
    Glenda Watson Hyatt / Author of I can do it Myself – Do It Myself

    Today, the tour finishes at these locations:
    Jenn Givler / Create a Thriving Business
    Melodiann Whitley / Wealth Together
    Andrea Nierenberg /Andrea Nierenberg’s blog

    At anytime, you can purchase Donna’s book, The Celebrity Experience, Insider Secrets to Red Carpet Customer Service by going to Amazon

Teachers Who Relate to Students

bird teaching baby to eat
Photo by foxypar4

When I was in college, after my freshman year, I decided I was going to pick my teachers. First day of class I was deciding “is it worth my time to listen to this dude (or “dudette”) for the next semester?” And if they didn’t pass, I was dropping their class and signing up for another.

I had a very dry chemistry teacher the year before, brilliant guy, wrote his own book, but couldn’t teach, didn’t relate well to others. I fell asleep in class, skipped class, had a couple friends in class and we tried not to miss the same days and hopefully not miss the tests.

Amazingly I passed. But I vowed never again would I waste my time and money in a class I didn’t want to be in. I know you have to take certain classes to get your degree, but in a large university it is about choices.

And it wasn’t about the subject as it was the teacher. I had an human biology class that I dreaded taking, afraid it would be full of terms to memorize. But from day one I was hooked. The professor got us thinking about how things worked, why, engaged us in fun discussions. I learned more chemistry in his biology class than my chemistry class.

Now this may not be the traditional way to go to college, but being somewhat of a rebel, I decided to learn the things I wanted to learn, from those whom I wanted to learn from. It would be sad to spend time and money at an institution that offered cool stuff and not to participate because it wasn’t on your recommended schedule.

Guilt was gone. Freedom! Take whatever I pleased but still work towards graduation. Contrary to popular belief, I did not take underwater basket weaving. I did take a rock climbing class, a hiking class, a how to put on a campfire program class. More than one ceramic class, I had no idea it would be so much fun to squeeze that mud between my fingers and make stuff. My roommates got a kick out of the funky looking toilet I made and stuffed an air fern in the bowl. Creative writing. Learned I had talent there. Was kind to myself, one creative class and one active class each semester. One summer I took off with my sister and we took classes while hiking, canoing, horseback riding in the Tetons and Yellowstone. Now the class that taught me how to load a pack horse I’ve not used since, and forgotten. Yet the experience taught me much, and I passed off more general ed requirements.

As Teddy Towncrier was saying how cool it would be to spend a week with Randy Pausch, I was thinking of Randy’s students, how they were blessed. One of my self-imposed rules was if you find a great teacher, take their classes, who cares if they count towards you major. Maybe you are in the wrong major? Stephen Covey was teaching at the university, someone had giving me one of his books when I graduated from high school. I liked the book, so I took his class. Worth every minute.

I’d had many great teachers, not all as well known, but great talent just the same. I remember one of my favorite high school teachers that had a student teacher for a 6 weeks. (Tough spot for the student teacher, pretty big shoes to fill, who would have thought a social studies teacher could be so popular). The student teacher was very bright, but did not have the attention of the class. He’d switch from one technique to the next. Didn’t matter. He’d lost us. Asleep, visiting with each other, whatever, but he did not have our undivided attention. We had a discussion with the teacher later, learned that he flunked the dude. Harsh? Maybe, but as he explained, nice guy, knows his stuff, but unless he learns to relate to his students he will never make it as a teacher.

And I think that is the key, relating to students. He treated us as equals, shared knowledge, had discussions not lectures. True he lead discussions, but they were discussions, sometimes off track, but the material was covered, ideas planted, and we were encouraged to have our own thoughts, learn new things, think outside the box.

Thanks to all the teachers who relate to their students, care about each and everyone, adding their own personal touch to the class.

Remembering Loved Ones in Iraq

by SoldierMediaCenter

I know several who are serving in Iraq, some military, others civilians. One friend’s husband is one of the volunteers, not military, but working for one of the contractors, his one year commitment, turned into two. Safe zone? Not really. When they get a chance to talk in the morning hours she can hear mortar fire in the background, bravely keeping a cheerful voice for the sake of her husband. Afterwards she is sick to her stomach.

Summer has hit, I just checked the forcast for Baghdad and tomorrow’s high is 111 F. Lots of dust and sand. HOT! DRY! and too many miles away from home.

One thing they really miss is home. My friend told how her husband would call early morning and just talk, needing to hear the voice of a loved one. He also craved photos from home. Yes, he does have a laptop, but the promised internet has not made it other than a few minutes far between.

Several in our church’s congregation are in Iraq, and as many are Dads, Granddads of our little ones, we planned a service activity for the children. Both those with family home and those with family away made picture frames for Father’s Day presents, wrote letters, drew pictures, brought gifts to put in care packages to those in Iraq. The funnest thing we did was provide flags, balloons, hats of various sorts, bandannas, longhorns, armadillos, etc. to dress up and pose in front of the camera. Great pictures were printed and added to the boxes. Other photos were saved to be turned into cards and mailed later.

It was a great experience. One young man (7 years old) was very excited as his Dad was coming home for 2 weeks.

Imagine the smiles that would come on their faces, as our surprise care packages arrive close to the Fourth of July. I’ve spent much time thinking of my friends’ families, and how over and over again the best part of the activity was the photos, both serious and silly.

I thought of how I enjoy sending cards through SendOutCards and what a great service it would be for those families. No need to leave home to make photo cards for those loved ones away from home. And for those in Iraq who are able to get internet, they can upload photos into greeting cards and they will be printed and mailed from the United States, less waiting time.

Connect Simply would like to help as many who wish send cards to loved ones in Iraq and from Iraq back to family members back home. If you know anyone serving in Iraq, send them a card, first one is on me, put a smile on their face. More details in my Cards to Iraq post.

Father’s Day Challenge

Father Son Bonding Time

Father’s Day is fast approaching for many of us.

I know that I for one appreciate my Dad and the many things he has done, the influence he has had in my life. My husband is a father to 7. My son does a wonderful job as a Father to his young one. A father figure could be a Grandpa, or other father figure, could be a coach, neighbor, etc.

My challenge to you is to take a minute to remember the “Fathers” in your life, put on your thinking cap, and find ways to let them know they are appreciated, honored. To get you started here are some suggestions I’ve found around the web:

  • Buy or rent a DVD or other great film for Father’s Day, one he wants to watch, without interruption.
  • Books, let your dad relax in his favorite chair or hamock with his favorite book. Not sure what book to get, you can always give a gift card.
  • Gadgets, gadgets, gadgets.I don’t think guys ever get tired of having a new gadget. Keeps them entertained for hours. Never too old to play with toys.
  • Some of the best Father’s Day gifts are free. I like to put together photos of the past year and send as a Christmas gift. The same can be done for Father’s Day. My kids like to give a coupon with gifts of service, although I think they secretly hope he forgets to collect. Better yet, just volunteer and just do the chore for him, unasked.
  • Cook your Dads their favorite meal, dessert.
  • A gift of time.Especially true for aging Dads who don’t need one more trinket to collect dust. But they do appreciate your company, a hug, whatever assistance needed.
  • Heartfelt appreciation.Pick up the phone! Visit! Say the words “I love you!” “I appreciate you!” We often assume others know how we feel. But it is great to hear the words. Put your words in writing. Add them to a card or letter, something the Father’s in your life can keep. I’m giving away cards you can choose online, add your message and photos, and your card will be printed and mailed for you. Send out a card to your dad today. Get Your Father’s Day Cards Here!
  • Update:Of course Dads should never get too old to play, with or without kids. Here are some cool toys my son found and ordered. Lots of good stuff off the beaten path.

Why Have Your Own Favicon?

favicons in favoritesFirst for those of you who want to know what the heck is a favicon?

I didn’t know either. I did know that some companies brand their business very well. Look at your bookmark sites. Some urls really stand out and are easy to find. Did you bookmark blogger, facebook, your favorite YouTube video? Easy to find are they not? Your eyes quickly scan looking for the icon.

Those little icons bugged me. Was this some secret the big companies with the big bucks knew how to do, an option not available to small business owners? But if they can do it, surely there is a way we can make one too. Not knowing the answer I decided to ask my son who working on his software engineering degree. “Those are called Favicons” he told me. Makes sense. Little Icons that show up when you add to your list of favorites.

Curious person that I am, I had to find more information on favicons. I wanted one on my sites. So I asked Google.
I found a few tips and how to sites. First, you save a 16 pixels bpy 16 pixels image as an ico file. I use Gimp, so I checked what files it supported, and did a little happy dance when I found .ico as one of my choices. Just had to test, so I pulled up a 16 by 16 blank image screen, and quickly drew a little purple flower, saved as favicon.ico. Uploaded following directions. Then checked out my website.

To my surprise, there was now a little purple flower in the address bar (at least it does in Firefox), tabs, bookmarks. So nice when something works the first time you use it.

Why Have Your Own Favicon?

  • Brands your business with a visual image.
  • Increases your professional image. Puts your website up there with the big boys.
  • Makes it easy to be found in favorites and bookmarked lists.
  • It’s is cool to have your own favicon.

If you’d like an easy way to make your own, check out my “How to Create Your Own Favicon Easily” post.

Send Cards to Clients – Timeless Advice

Photo by Hamed Saber

Long before there was even an internet, in fact even before our modern day postal service, many successful businesses have written countless greeting cards, notes of appreciation to their clients. Building relationships through that personal touch which sets them apart from the crowd.

Today we have so many ways to communicate. Technology has grown so much, not only has the mail service, which we take for granted, can get a letter across the world in a week or less, but we have so many other ways to keep in touch. Phones, cell phones, VOIP, emails, online groups, blogs, twitter, text messaging. . . No excuse not to keep in touch.

I was talking last week to Justin Walters from Arizona. He is very tech savvy, helping businesses connect with their clients online, even through text messaging. Justin told me about how while talking to a client he’d heard when that client’s birthday was. He wrote that date down and the next time that birthday rolled around he sent a birthday card through the mail. His client was so appreciative, thanked him. He’d only gotten 2 cards that year, one from his wife and one from Justin. It really meant a lot. Justin has continued to spend time each month sending out cards to clients. Timeless advice.

If you’d like to meet Justin and check out how he is sending out cards today, click here


This Valentine’s Day Focus on the Little Things

Little Things Ultimately Mean the Most

I’m always in awe of the talents with which my children have been blessed. This card is my daughter, Jessica Seller’s creation, and it seemed fitting for Valentine’s. Little things really matter most.

I’m room mother for my youngest daughter. Parents send candies, pencils, snack cakes, yoyo’s, books and any other little things they can find. With help from a few of the students, we filled their sacks quickly, ready for today’s party. Some of the classes did not have room mothers/fathers who could show up and get their classes goodies together. So this group of volunteers from my daughter’s class, happily and cheerfully put together goodies for some of those classes. Their teacher and I observed how much fun these 5th graders were having giving service to their fellow classmates.

My 16 year old son gave me a box of Reese’s chocolates and the cutest hand-made Valentine’s Day Card, and a note thanking me for the things I do for him. Again, a little thing which means much.

Valentine’s is a time to connect with your loved ones, friends, let them know how much you appreciate them. To me small acts of service, throughout the year, is a measure of love. Taking time to listen, share hopes, dreams, a quite smile, a sincere thank you. A helping hand a gift of service. I know how much it meant to me when I left my car with my oldest son and his wife as I flew out to be with his sister and her new baby. To my surprise they’d had my car cleaned and detailed, gas tank filled and waiting upon my return. Unexpected acts of kindness such as this mean more to me than the priciest bling bling on the market. (Of course if I had the million dollar diamond, I wouldn’t turn it down, I’d find some good purpose for it.)

I appreciate those who visit my website, read my blog, inspire me to be more of who I am. The kindness, advice I’ve received from my online friends and acquaintances, and hope to repay in some small way by sharing my thoughts, knowledge, creativity in return. Have a best Valentine’s Day yet as you have fun with small acts of kindness.

What was one of the coolest things, act of service that was done for you? Service you performed for another being?

More Business? Just Ask

Do you want more business?
Do you even have to think about that question?
How about more of your ideal customers?

I’ve always been told that the fortune is in the follow-up. One of my favorite newsletters is by Felicia Slattery, Communication Consultant, Speaker & Coach. Today I was pleasantly surprised, (well maybe not totally, I know she writes good stuff), to read Felicia’s article on how to ask for more business. For Felicia’s examples and tips on how to follow up and ask for more business, click on the more button and read her sage advice.

“Appreciation Wins Over Self Promotion”

“Appreciation Wins Over Self Promotion” I hear it at SendOutCards all the time.

More than just words, it is one of those universal laws. Think about it for a minute who would you rather refer your friends to, a business that sends you a bunch of junk mail, or the one that did a super job and let you know how much they appreciated you? And who would you rather buy from, someone who treated you as a friend or a company who saw you as just one more number?

Watch this video about Relationship Marketing Today!