6 Things to Kill in Your Business for Better Customer Service

Surveys aren’t the way to good customer service. They might’ve been five years ago, but they’re being used with such an annoying regularity that no one wants to take part in them. But how do you improve your business’ customer service if you don’t know what your customers want? Trust us. There are other ways. Here are a few things you need to ditch in order to begin providing better service.

Surveys

As I just mentioned, surveys are overdone in 2018. Call the bank, they send a survey. Get the oil changed in your car, survey. Everything is a survey these days. Sure, you can get people to participate through free goods and discounts but no one wants to waste time telling you how to do your job.

Try this instead: try one-question, emoji-style ratings when you send a follow-up email thanking them for their business. Smiley face or sad face. Or use a clickable star rating the way Amazon or Goodreads does on their reviews. Then give them contact information to a real person if they have more to say. They can rate you in a second as well as ask for a follow-up.

Not Filling Empty Positions

When an employee leaves, there’s a time before you hire again while you’re searching for an ideal candidate. If that process becomes long and drawn out, co-workers are usually called upon to fill in the gaps. After this occurs for a while, management often thinks that position doesn’t need to be filled since everyone is managing fine. Unless you are making it worth the employees’ while financially, you are over-burdening the employee. Burnt out employees don’t provide good customer service, let alone excellent service.

Try this instead: as soon as the employee gives notice, begin the hiring process. As a preemptive solution, always have up-to-date job descriptions on file so there’s no time wasted writing them. Ask good employees for referrals. Fill that position or compensate the individuals who are taking on an increased workload.

Undisclosed Expectations

Everyone working for you should know two things: what’s expected of them (including how they’re measured against those expectations) and how you expect the customer to be treated.If they don’t know these things, it’s difficult to do their job.

Try this: Give employees processes and missions to go by so it is clear to them to what degree your company believes the customer is always right. This empowers them to do right by the customer on a level that you support, even if you’re not available to ask.

Excuses

If your employees are always making up excuses as to why something didn’t happen or why they’re not meeting expectations, your customers will grow tired of this. Customers recognize an excuse. Excuses never smooth over any of the ruffled feathers.

Try this: Ban certain language from your employees’ repertoire. Things like, “I’m new” or “That happened because X is new” don’t matter to customers. They don’t want an excuse. They want a solution. Make sure your employees are skilled at providing them.

Square Hole, Square Peg Thinking

Yes, protocols are essential to businesses operations but you also want your employees to be creative problem solvers. They should not feel hemmed in by rules that can never be bent. Sometimes, it is necessary to make allowances.

Try this: as mentioned earlier, let employees know how far they can go to do right by the customer. It’s important they feel empowered to act on the customer’s behalf.

“Not My Job” Mentality

The customer doesn’t care whose job it is. When they have a problem, they want it handled. There’s nothing more frustrating than an underling saying they can’t do anything or the customer being passed around the company explaining the issue each time.

Try this instead: even if the person answering the inquiry isn’t fully equipped to solve the issue, they should remain the main point of contact for the customer. The employee is the one who works for the company. They are the most skilled at dealing with peers and departments. Stay in good communication with the customer and allow one point person for customer convenience and relationship building. This way your customer will see them as an advocate for them.

If you want to start providing better customer service, think of the customer experience. Consider the things that bother you most about dealing with businesses. Then refrain from introducing those frustrations into your environment.


Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and WritersWeekly. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.  

Christina is an introverted writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.

How to Give Your Business a Facelift

Businesses need to evolve periodically. Whether you like it or not, you have to look at the trends going on around us and make decisions accordingly. These decisions may involve reaching out to a new demographic, offering new services or products, or changing the way you do things like tailoring your marketing writing to Google’s ever-changing rules.If it’s been a while since you’ve innovated in your business, now might be the time to consider a facelift.

Many business owners embrace tradition and refuse to yield. That worked for Blockbuster, too. But seriously, no one stopped watching movies. They just changed the way they did it. The same may be true of your business. To keep from closing your doors, you need to watch for trends. Here are a few that may influence how you think about your business.
Three Not-So-New Trends That Are Shaping Today’s Businesses
When you talk innovation, very few people have the intestinal fortitude to be on the bleeding edge of adopting completely new approaches. That’s why this article features trends that aren’t so new that they haven’t been tested but are still new enough that they may give you some exciting ideas.
Subscription Boxes

If you sell products, you may have been watching this trend. Today, you can get hobbies, pet toys, clothing, beauty products, razors, books, teas, coffee, wine, fitness equipment, snacks, dinner, and so much more sent to you weekly or monthly. They have sample and full-sized boxes. Some companies allow you to control your selections, delivery frequency, preferences, and many other customizable options.

But for most of the boxes, you don’t know what’s coming in them until they arrive (or you see an early opener on YouTube). The boxes always boast a value of more than you pay for the subscription service.
Why it works: it surprises and delights recipients. Often it streamlines something they need or want and offers an attractive entry price. Many box services use word of mouth and offer discount codes to influencers in their target market like mommy bloggers or YouTube beauty experts.
Divesting Resources

It used to be when you started a company, you needed to invest in resources and other start-up expenses. These days, a new type of business is putting that onus on contractors. Airbnb, Uber, Lyft, and others aren’t ponying up the necessities for their business operation, contractors are. From homes to cars, boats to crafts, there are businesses that are building their entire empire on things they don’t own or need to worry about maintaining.
They pay their contractors a portion or charge them a fee to be listed on their site. Some of them cover the contractors under an insurance policy to ensure the property is protected but the contractor is in charge of their own maintenance, production, and other critical components.
Another idea that’s similar is how direct marketing companies work. They make the product and then have an army of contractors sell it for them. Each contractor runs their operation as a mini business adhering to the manufacturer’s rules for selling and they receive a commission when they move product.

Why it works: fewer start-up costs to hamper growth.

Reshaping a Mission
The final trend that more companies are embracing is telling their “why,” and in doing so, embracing a culture of giving back. Many businesses find a cause to support now and give a portion of proceeds (either of the whole business or a particular product line) to that group or cause.
Why this works: a study has found that young people (especially) are willing to pay more for a product that supports a good cause.
If it’s been a while since you rethought your business strategy, it might be time to open yourself up to some of the newer trends out there. These ideas won’t work for every business so consider your offerings and your target market before making any big decisions. However, you might just find that these ideas get you thinking about one that’s an even better fit for your operation.

Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and WritersWeekly. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.
Christina is a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.

Tigard Chamber of Commerce Endorses Candidates for November 2018 General Election

August 30th, 2018 – For Immediate Release
Contact Information:

Debi Mollahan                       Megan De Salvo                 Tim McBratney 

CEO                                         Board Chair                        CEC Chair

503-639-1656                          503-567-7343                     503-789-4515

Debi@TigardChamber.org     Megan@edge-one.com    Tim.McBratney@pacresmortgage.com

Tigard Chamber of Commerce Endorses Candidates for November 2018 General Election

(Tigard, Oregon) – The Candidate Endorsement Committee (CEC) of the Tigard Chamber of Commerce, launched earlier this month, has determined its list of endorsements for the upcoming Tigard City Council and Mayor race in the 2018 General Election. The Committee consisting of local business owners, community leaders, and members of the Chamber Board of Directors came together to go through a non-partisan process to consider candidates for endorsement who align with the Chambers’ core values/mission, legislative agenda and who support public policy that strengthens the business community and free enterprise system.

“This is a historic time for our Chamber” said Debi Mollahan CEO of the Tigard Chamber. “These decisions, while never easy, need to be made in order to move forward in the best direction for Tigard businesses. We looked for candidates who support collaborative, open communication and problem solving between business and government.  We recognize how challenging running for public office can be and appreciate the drive exhibited by all the candidates.” said Tim McBratney Candidate Endorsement Committee Chair.

The Candidate Endorsement Committee for the Tigard Chamber of Commerce is proud to announce their unanimous endorsement of the following candidates for the 2018 General Election held November 6th 2018.

Tigard City Council: John Goodhouse

John Goodhouse has been a member of the Tigard City Council since 2014 and is seeking his second term. He works as an independent insurance agent and owns his own company.  John believes Tigard citizens need a voice that represents them, they need to feel heard and have a representative who listens and responds. Owning his own company, John uniquely understands the challenges small businesses face and will bring that perspective to the table. John has proven he can be that person who can build that bridge of communication with the citizens of Tigard.

Tigard City Council: Liz Newton

Liz Newton is currently a member of the Tigard Budget Committee and worked for the City of Tigard for 37 years, serving as Assistant City Manager from 2005 until her retirement in 2017. Liz has been an enthusiastic member of the Tigard community for more than 38 years. Her nearly 37-year career working for the city allowed her to do what she enjoys most – engage with Tigard residents, business owners, regional partners, nonprofits and elected representatives.

Liz knows that business wants a safe community including quick police response and that partnering with business organizations helps steer successful business improvements in key areas of the city. Liz listens to concerns, finds solutions and provides understandable answers.  We believe this will serve our business community well.

Tigard Mayor: Jason Snider

Council President Snider moved to Tigard in 1999 and began his full-time career as clinical manager at American Medical Response from 1999 to 2003. In 2003 to the present, he has been employed in a number of management roles at Kaiser Permanente Northwest and is currently the administrator of the Regional General Surgery and Plastic Surgery Departments.  Prior to these larger company roles, Jason has also owned his own small businesses, giving him the ability to understand the challenges that businesses both large and small face. 

Jason began public service early in life, working as an Emergency Medical Technician his senior year of high school and served two years on the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District Board during his junior and senior years in high school.  In the Tigard community, Jason has volunteered by coaching 8 teams for Tigard Youth Soccer and Tigard Youth Football.  He also volunteered as a Tigard Reserve Police Officer from 2001 to 2004 and was a member and Chair of the City of Tigard Budget Committee from May 2005 until December 2009 prior to his service on City Council. 

Jason was elected to Tigard City Council in 2013 and was re-elected in 2017.  In 2015 he was voted to serve as Council President a role he currently holds.  Jason’s has a very good understanding of the City’s financials and its challenges, is measured in his approach and very practical.  All crucial skills in both helping guide City staff during this challenging time as well as problem solving with business.

“We greatly appreciate all of the candidates that took the time to go through our confidential in-depth questionnaire and took time out of their busy schedules for our in-person interviews” said Megan De Salvo Chair of the Chamber’s Board of Directors. The Committee and Chamber agree that voters need to do their due diligence and cast their votes this November.    

About the Tigard Chamber of Commerce

The Tigard Chamber (TCC) enables and equips your business to be more nimble, reach farther, grow faster and stay ahead of the competition. Our member businesses that are part of the Tigard Chamber, not only leverage each other, but each of these members’ connections and knowledge, as well. It is exponential. Have a business challenge, question or idea? You are not alone as part of the Tigard Chamber. The TCC provides for its members: Business Advocacy, Connections & Credibility, Learning, and Community Involvement.  Learn more at www.tigardchamber.org

6 Reasons Why a Facebook Group Can’t Replace Chamber Membership

Some people think a chamber membership is all about networking and because of that they see it as obsolete. After all, you can just meet other business people online, right? Search on Facebook and a number of business groups will come up, many geared to a certain profession or business size.Some of these groups are private so you have to apply to get in. A few even require you to answer questions and promise to play nicely with others. Upon acceptance, you can spend all day chatting it up with other like-minded business owners (for free!). No need to join the chamber, right? Wrong. Saying that joining a Facebook group for business replaces the need for a chamber membership is like placing a nickel in your piggy bank and claiming to have a retirement account. Sure, the two are kind of similar but you’ll never get the same amount of return from that group as you will from a chamber membership. Here’s why. With a chamber membership you get the following things you won’t get from a Facebook group: 1.A Connection with the Community and a Marketable Designation The chamber is a well-respected community organization. Many people see it as similar to the Better Business Bureau. Your membership plaque or window cling tells customers that you are intending to be part of the community for a long time. Being a member of an online group is not a reputation builder. 2.Knowledgeable Help With an online Facebook group, someone will ask a question, others will give their advice. This can be a wonderful experiment in crowd-sourced learning. However, it can also have its downside. While the group administrator may have asked a few questions when someone entered, most groups do not vet members. Anyone can offer advice, skilled/experienced or not. It’s difficult to tell the good from the bad. Facebook also allows frequent contributors in the group to receive a designation next to their names. Be aware this just means they answer questions often. This does not indicate expertise of any kind just a willingness to jump into conversations and post. 3.Hands-on Learning Opportunities The chamber offers hands-on learning opportunities as well as lunch and learns. For many people, it’s hard to learn by being told what to do. But seeing it or working on it on their own through the instruction of others, can help improve the learning experience. That’s why some chambers have created learning opportunities that include things like social media help and in-person website attention. Check with your local chamber to find out what sort of learning sessions it offers. With Facebook groups, there’s a limit to the amount of information must people are willing to share. In depth learning will likely occur elsewhere. 4.Ribbon Cuttings When you open a new location for your business, hit a milestone anniversary or some other accomplishment, your Facebook group might send you some emoji balloons but the chamber will be there with a social media mention, perhaps an article, help on a press release, and/or a ribbon-cutting event to celebrate your time in business. 5.Advocacy Your Facebook group may be exceptionally supportive and you may even feel like you have a group of online friends, but it’s likely that as supportive as these friends are, they are not lobbying on behalf of your community and business on a local, state, and national level. Your chamber is. Many businesses forget this valuable part of chamber work. While most businesses can’t afford their own lobbyist, they can afford chamber membership. 6.Trust I’ve known a lot of people to get “burned” by something they shared on social media. If you need help on a delicate matter within your business, it’s likely you don’t want to splash it across a public forum, even if that forum is a “private group.” If you’re dealing with something sensitive and you need advice on next steps (like in the case of a termination, business bankruptcy or going-out-of-business situation) you don’t want to share that with the world. At the chamber, you can get the help you need or a reference to someone who can assist you without sharing it with the world. Chambers handle delicate situations all the time and they do so with discretion. There’s nothing wrong with joining Facebook groups. They can be extremely helpful in hearing advice from people who may have gone through similar situations. But these memberships will never cover everything your chamber can do for your business. Still, there’s no reason to choose between one or the other. When it comes to business growth, multiple tools and investments are required, and chamber membership is an excellent one.   Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Writer’s Weekly. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.   She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.  

8 Things to Do to Make Your Business Life Easier

Efficiency is key these days as we’re pulled in hundreds of different directions. If running your business seems like a struggle, it’s time to make things easier. Some businesses choose to do that by hiring additional people, but if you don’t have the budget for that right now, there are other things that can be done to help you make the most of the hours in your day.Outsource. It costs less than adding new positions at your business and you can adjust “headcount” as needed in slow or busy times. If you work with a great virtual assistant or delegate to some other freelancer or contractor, you may be able to hire them later if you decide to add to your staff. And best of all, you already know how they work. Employ technology. Ford changed the automaking industry (and others like it) forever when he compartmentalized the work moving away from one person doing all of it from beginning to end and giving people specific roles to perform over and over. He didn’t invent the assembly line but he popularized it. Just like the assembly line, if there is technology or a way to streamline work, consider adopting it. That may take the form of a chatbot (easily implemented through Facebook Messenger) to answer basic questions and take the burden off of employees or a content management system or email marketing software to streamline customer communications.  Have (and use) goals. This sounds a little remedial. All businesses have goals, right? But you need to make sure all employees know your business goals. This not only gives them something to shoot for, it also provides a framework for decision making. Every decision can be weighed by asking if this moves your business closer to the goal(s) or not. Launch one new thing at a time. When it comes to business, there are hills and valleys of creativity. Occasionally, you’re filled with all sorts of ideas on how to grow and improve, to meet more customer needs, to expand markets or offerings. It’s often difficult to select the one to focus on but it’s imperative you do. Don’t launch multiple big projects at once. You’ll spend a lot more time getting them off the ground because your attention and focus will be diluted. Go to the cloud. Years ago, if you left a file at the office, you were out of luck unless you went back in. Today, you can access all of your files, photos, videos, and projects from the cloud. There are free options like Google Drive and DropBox as well as paid options if you need more storage. Not only is cloud hosting more efficient, it does provide some peace of mind. While moving to the cloud doesn’t save you from hackers (you still need to worry about security), it does ensure that if a physical disaster affects your office or business, your files and important information will remain intact. Take security seriously. Many small businesses think that cybercriminals are not interested in them because their operations are too small. However, if you have data that is important to you and involves private customer information (like credit card numbers or social security numbers), you can be assured you are a target. You are even more of a target than a large company because hackers assume you won’t have the security protocols that larger organizations have. Make sure your data is safe. It’s one of the most important things you can do for your business. Learn when “done” is better than “perfect.” Some tasks require exacting specifics and it’s important to get it right, like launching a space shuttle, doing your taxes, or building a bridge. While with other tasks it’s better to have them complete than done over and over trying to get it perfect, like stocking shelves, for instance. Recognizing what has to be perfect, and what’s better just getting it finished is an important step to better efficiency and an easier business life. And once those things are complete, let them go.  Join your chamber. Most people don’t understand the immense help a chamber of commerce can be. Not only can it put you in touch with more potential customers, it can also be a place of learning about business tips and trends, and a group that can help connect you with like-minded business owners. Unlike a lawyer, you’re not paying per hour for this advice. You’re getting it for the cost of membership. There’s no reason to make your business life any harder than your job requires. Look for ways to streamline your operations and you’ll have more time on your hands and less stress.   Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Writer’s Weekly. She blogs regularly at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.     She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.