Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What are your customers saying about you and your business?

What are your customers saying about you and your business? And they are talking about you. Some will be saying nice things and complementing you on a good service or response. Others will be less complementary, and they will be telling people too.
Other businesses will be listening as well because if they hear a business is a poor supplier, they may think that they are also a late payer.
So far this week I have heard of bad service from an on-line supplier, an insurance company and a train company. None of them were named on this occasion.
Do you have a system to find out what people are saying? Because people are talking.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

National Customer Service Week

National Customer Service week is coming in October. What are you going to do for your customers?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Video on You Tube

We now have an ‘ Introduction to Research Plus+ ‘ on Youtube.

click here to watch the video

Monday, April 30, 2012

Networking Your Way to New Business

To see the evaluation of the Networking Your Way to New Business held on the 21st March, please click here

Monday, March 26, 2012

Social Media - Not just a waste of time

This first appeared in ‘The Plat4orm’ magazine

Social Media - Not just a waste of time

There is a lot of talk about ‘social media’ but what is it? Social media refers to websites where people interact with each other, and many businesses are using them to promote their products and services. There are over five hundred different social media sites on the internet. For the purposes of this article let’s keep it a bit more manageable and look at some of the more well known sites. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are perhaps the three best known international sites used by businesses in the UK. One site with a strong local base that is expanding its presence further afield is ipatter. Then there is the ‘new kid on the block’ Google+ pages.

The different sites each have a different approach or culture. Facebook started as a social friendship site but is now also being used for business purposes and some people use it instead of having a website. LinkedIn is more akin to having your CV on-line and much of the interaction takes place through discussion groups. Twitter consists of conversations using a maximum of 140 characters per message. ipatter allows you one message a day of up to 3,000 characters. Google+, like Facebook, allows you to create pages specifically about your business, but also allows you to filter your messages to, for instance, your suppliers or your customers. Writing your own blog linked to your website is another form of social media.

Here are some of the ways that you can use social media:
• Are you looking for new employees? Why not start your search on LinkedIn? Here you will find on-line versions of people’s CV and recommendations on the quality of their work.
• Have you got a special offer this week? Twitter and ipatter are good places to broadcast this.
• If you need more space then Facebook and especially Google+ give you the space to expand your thoughts further.
• Through all of these sites you can refer people to a blog that you have written or to an interesting website or article you have found.

It is easy to sign up and start using these sites and all of them are free to use at the basic level. It is best to have a steady, regular presence rather than send 50 messages on one day and none for the rest of the month. Always be aware that what you say is in the public domain and never write anything that you would not be happy for the whole world to know. As Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon said: “If you make your customers unhappy in the real world, they might each tell six friends. If you make customers unhappy on the internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.”

Using any of these sites can help drive traffic to your website and / or generate enquiries about your business. This may not happen overnight. Through social media you can build up relationships with people so that they grow to like, know and trust you and will therefore consider using your products or services. Using social media is also a good way to alert your existing customers to new developments, products or services. People have also found that using social media has helped increase their ranking in Google searches. An excellent book by Heather Townsend “The Financial Times Guide to Business Networking: How to Use the Power of Online and Offline Networking for Business Success” provides more detailed advice on using social media.

Will social media really benefit your business i.e. find you new customers or increase your sales?
Jez Middleton from Adventure Safety Training has found that social media has been beneficial to his business:

“I have used ipatter to increase my Google rating, it has brought me up the ranks quickly without the need for SEO [Search Engine Optimisation]. I don’t know what they do but it works for me. I have had posts that have had a huge amount of views. When I search for other businesses often an ipatter post or listing will be one of the first entries to come up on Google. ipatter has found me about 10 new customers (individuals booking onto first aid courses) in 2011

I have found that I get lots of contacts from customers and potential customers through Facebook and Twitter. I am not saying that they don’t look at my website, but they decide to contact me through Facebook or other social media. This will then be transformed into email communication and potential meetings and bookings.

I have also found that LinkedIn has worked and has started several communications and found me potential customers for 2012. They have connected with me and seen posts on there and then contacted me to find out more about what I do and to arrange meetings.

I have found social media takes time to pay back (about a year) but it is working for me.”

There are plenty of Norfolk businesses on the different social media sites. Are you ready to use social media? If so choose your site or sites, find some people you know who are already there and come and say hello.