Tag Archives: customer service

Top Tips for Small Businesses – From Radio Interview with Leanne Hogland-Smith

Leanne Hogland-Smith – Chicago 219-759-5601, entrepreneur small business for 15 years, uniting people and their talents with operations through management, increase-sales-coach.com

Consistent challenge in businesses today is a lack of processes and procedures. A lot of this comes about because there is no strategic plan, there are no goals written so what happens is that everyone is hitting different targets and the individual and business goals are missed.

A lot of communication is just refocusing the way they state things, getting rid of the words like need and should and start using “may I suggest this”. When you get rid of the emotionally judgmental words, it’s amazing at the reactions you get.

An employer now, if they have not hired smart, they end up with maybe one good employee for every four employees. Employers need to have consistent performance reviews. Employees then feel like they are part of the company’s success.

Top Tips for Small Businesses

  • Communication is consistent and everyone knows where the organization is going and what their goals are. Is everyone sharing the same goals? It is critical to have your goals communicated consistently throughout your company.
  • Values – What are your non-negotiable behaviors that you will demonstrate with your employees, vendors, strategic partners?
  • Find out what your real brand is – Talk to your customers, not a marketing company. The expectactions held by customers, it is a really definitive way to identify your brand. Ask them, “When you hear my name what expectations come to mind?” You will get a really good idea of your brand, but you also gain a competitive edge. When you have down-time, that is up-time to talk to your customers.
  • Marketing is about attracting attention and build relationships – Write copy and test it out. See if it gets some sort of emotional attention for your business.

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When your marketing funds are limited what do you do?

Listen to A Different Perspective From Voices of Experience
By Leslie Wolff

Show Love & Respect

“Every person is a jewel, worthy of love and respect.” – Anonymous

A proud part of my career was when I was the business and personal manager of one of the world’s most famous athletes – Smokin Joe Frazier, the former World Heavyweight Boxing Champion in his later years. I was constantly amazed at the love and respect he received from his fans and it didn’t take long for me to understand why … because, he showed his love and respect for them. How many companies do you know show love and respect to their customers, employees, vendors, hell even their competition. It costs nothing to do so and the rewards are constant and significant. What should you do, the opportunities are limitless. One way is expressed ‘Thank You” whenever the opportunity arises. In a world of a never ending flow of e-mails, a simple hand written note will raise you high above your competition. Treat your employees well and they will treat your customers well. Let vendors know you recognize their efforts on your behalf and they will redouble or multiply the way in which they will seek to help you grow your business. Even competitors will have good things to say about you when you treat them with respect as well. Going back to the impact of e-mail where in the past a good or bad experience led to it be “told” to perhaps 10 other people, in today’s high tech communication channels it could be told to thousands, thus you want that ‘tale” to express how well you treat those with whom you interact.

Don’t be afraid of Change

“The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.” – Charles Kettering

The fear of change is a natural human response to something that seems new and opening your mind to be more accepting to change or the consideration of it releases you from the binds of conformity allowing you to examine and explore possibilities that exist around you. Some of these may offer the opportunity to maximize your potential revenue while minimizing expense. Look at the various facets of your business from new business development, advertising, promotion customer service with a fresh perspective and encourage customers, employees and even vendors to contribute ideas that can enhance your operation and in doing so impact positively your bottom line.

Big Ideas Start Small

”Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises” — Demosthenes

Just because you have limited funds does not mean you can’t take carefully controlled actions to improve results. If you believe you have identified a need that has gone unrecognized or is underserved look at how you can develop it in a way where you give it all you can. Think big, but remember everything starts out small. Never prejudge an idea because at first it looks too small, unimportant or unrealistic nor if your initial view is its too big. Look how you can break it down
into reasonable modules, set priorities and take each segment on in a way it will make the other segments easier to handle as you accomplish each step.

Motivate to Stimulate

“Recognition is the greatest motivator.” – Gerard C. Eakedale

Surprisingly, although material rewards are appreciated they are not as effective in motivating people and stimulating them to perform to more of there potential than praise and recognition. Praise of one’s contributions to the success of the business is the most desired reward of all. Publicizing that praise to the right audiences makes it even more valued to
the recipient. Something a simple as a press release to a local paper, a framed ‘Certificate of Appreciation” or a simple letter to be shared with family and friends recognizing one’s contributions carries with a major positive impact not only on that person but those with whom they interact.

Originate Don’t Imitate

“It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.” – Herman Melville

There is a tendency in all businesses to mimic each other and that can be a benefit for a smart marketer. Take a close look at what your competition is doing where there is a tendency to replicate, duplicate or imitate. In identify those traits you will almost always find overlooked and untapped opportunities that will enable you to outsmart rather then outspend the competition. It may be a single large opportunity or a series of small things like we discussed above where the cumulative effect of the actions you take can significantly impact the results you gain.

“The successful person has the habit of doing the things failures don’t like to do.” ~ Thomas Edison

Leslie R. Wolff is an experienced and outspoken Marketing professional; with more than a half century in the marketing arena His mission in his business, speeches and writings is to reestablish a lost factor in business … commonsense! It is the foundation on which Smart Thinking is built. Les is CEO of The Smart Marketing Group, who simply help clients work smarter. He can be reached at 215-334-3432, marketingsmartly@aol.com, Skype: Smart Marketing or http://www.smartmarketingroup.com. Listen to his radio show, “Smart Marketing for Small Business” and participate in his LinkedIn Group of the same name.

His E-Book” Smart Thinking- Vol.-I” is available @ www.smashwords.com/books/view/34172

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How to Improve Customer Service – Radio Show 7/5/2012

Listen to
internet radio with Smart Marketing for Small Business on Blog Talk Radio

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5 Steps On How To Outthink Your Competition

©  2012 Leslie R. Wolff

Are you a

Mimic…Mimic…Mimic…Mimic Marketer?

Do you  imitate, duplicate,  replicate rather then Originate?

Recently I placed this question on a corporate planning group on LinkedIn.com – “Why is it so many executives can’t think “outside the box?” The responses were many and fascinating as were the stated reasons, but the general sense still was … they don’t.


Why do you think it is so many marketers can’t differentiate themselves from their competition? Is it because they… Continue reading


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Everyone Collects Something, Some Like Matchboxes – Smart Marketing Move

This week’s Smart Marketing Move goes to A Little Taste of Cuba.

It’s a smoke shop, mainly featuring fine cigars plus other tobacco products. Normally, I wouldn’t go to one, but a friend needed just a pack of cigarettes, so we went in.

I wasn’t expecting anything fantastic out of a smoke shop, because it’s a smoke shop. But this one lived up to its name because they created an experience when you walk in, through Cuban art, music and furnishings that transported you from New Hope, PA to some nook in Cuba. Although that’s not the reason why they’re getting a smart move.

We were in this store just for a moment while my friend bought what he needed. With his purchase, even though it was under $10, they gave him a pack of matches. But it wasn’t just “Here’s a pack of matches”, it was wooden matches in a box that had A Little Taste of Cuba’s logo on it and on the back were their two locations.

With all of the options of where to get a pack of cigarettes, they’re doing it right. You can’t expect a customer to walk in the first time and want to come back immediately, or even remember where they were. Since New Hope is a weekend destination spot, it’s smart that they are reminding customers with a nice box of matches. I know that I like to keep matchboxes as reminders of place I’ve been, and this is just another way that the shop did a great job of staying relevant.

So far, my friend still has these matches, and what does that mean? Every time he looks at them, he is reminded of when he stopped in and the next time he is in town, he’ll remember that there’s a smoke shop that he can stop at rather than a convenience store.

Lesson Learned: There are subtle ways to be in your customer’s face like a box of matches with a purchase or even something as simple as a business card in their bag. The hardest thing is to find new customers, so if someone makes a purchase or uses a service you offer, make sure they remember you and come back for more!

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Coupons Combined With Considerate Customer Services Adds Customers – Smart Marketing Move

This week’s Smart Marketing Move goes to Wild Garden Accents!

A friend and I were driving past a garden center; it looked more like decorations and we weren’t in a rush, so we stopped. This place was packed with goodies to make a garden unique to you. Wild Garden Accents had many employees that greeted us and asked if we needed help. The customer service was spot on, but that’s not the main reason they are getting this Smart Marketing Move.


We made our way around the entire store, the display outside is where we found something we were considering. We came inside and were approached by yet another employee. She asked if we received the 20% off coupon. We hadn’t; so she gave us one to use only for that day. That sealed the deal. We got the item, which wasn’t a high ticket purchase, but we might not have bought it otherwise.


Lesson Learned: This was very smart of the employee, I’m sure she saw us taking our time looking around. Maybe we had a specific person in mind for a gift, or something for ourselves. Either way, we might not have made a purchase without that the extra nudge. This sale was already happening, so why not make sure that all of your customers receive a little perk?

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Personalized Attention Makes for Happy Consumers – Smart Marketing Move

This week’s Smart Marketing Move goes to PetSmart.

PetSmart is huge and overwhelming if you’re looking for one specific item, as I was this one day. I was looking for a urinary tract infection paste product for my cat. I have never bought it before so I must have been looking really confused in the maintenance section.

There were two employees on the next aisle over that could see me. The one that was stocking the shelves closest to me simply asked, “Do you need any help?” This was one of the few times that I actually did when someone asked me.

She came over and helped me find what I needed with my vague description and then she said, “Hang on a second, I think we have something over here too.” They were changing out brands they were using for all of the over-the-counter medication and she brought over the same exact thing for $3 instead of $9.

I was shocked. First off, this is a big chain and I don’t expect good customer service. Second, she went way above and beyond, saving me $6. It adds up! I wish I got her name, she deserves praise because I’m sure that I’m not the only person that she helps that much.

Lesson Learned: Going above and beyond is not just a personality trait, it can be taught. A little bit of kindness can go a long way and bring customers back to your store. Make sure you say hello to customers, treat everyone the same, and if someone is looking confused like I was they definitely need help…so help them. You’ll have a happy customer and they’ll tell others. Word of Mouth Marketing – use it to your advantage.


“Outthink the Competition Rather Than Outspend Them”

Author: Leslie Wolff, CEO of Smart Marketing Group, speaks from experience as an entrepreneur, sales and marketing executive plus advisor and coach. Les has “walked the walk and talked the talk.” The knowledge that he imparts with passion has been learned in the toughest of schools, “Real Life!”, in the trenches, on top of the mountain and everywhere in between

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