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Customer relationships are what will determine the health and prosperity of your computer consulting business. In order to get paid on a regular basis you need to understand the dynamics of customer relationships.

Customer Relationships And Your Financial Health

Customer Relationships And Your Financial HealthCustomer relationships are what will determine the health and prosperity of your computer consulting business. It is critical to understand the different dynamics of customer relationships. By doing this you can identify places of risk in terms of non-payment. Customer Relationships - Two Distinctions There are two main customer relationship types: Long-Term, Steady ClientsYour long term clients are your bread and butter clients. These people see you as an insurance policy: they have the ability to call you, the ability to pay you, and you're going to be there; pretty much right away to take care of things. The customer relationship you enjoy with these people is one of trust. They know that if they have a problem they can call you and you will fix it. These clients pay on time. If they didn't they would undermine the customer relationship and this is too risky. Would you feel comfortable calling your accountant if you were 5 months late in paying him or her? No. Likewise these people will pay you on time, every time. SteppingStone ClientsStepping stone clients do not enjoy such a healthy customer relationship. These clients perceive you as a commodity. If you don't show up to fix something - Oh well. They'll just call the next company in the phone book. They're not interested in building solid customer relationships with you and therefore have no qualms whatsoever about stiffing you on an invoice. The Bottom Line on "Customer Relationship" sIf you want to get paid you have to understand the dynamics of customer relationships and use them to your advantage. The stepping-stone or cherry-picking clients think of you as replaceable. You want to build your business by building long-term customer relationships with steady clients on maintenance agreements. These are the sort of clients that will be almost offended by a past due notice and thats a good thing for your billing and invoicing. Copyright MMI-MMVI, PC Support Tips .com. All Worldwide Rights Reserved. {Attention Publishers: Live hyperlink in author resource box required for copyright compliance}

IT Consulting: Providing Clients with Credit

IT Consulting: Providing Clients with Credit

In running an IT consulting business, do not be too quick to give new clients credit. Even when you give them credit, keep their lines of credit relatively low until theyve built up some history with you. Provide Low Lines of Credit If you have new "IT consulting" clients, it may make sense to start them out, even if you get a credit application and send out some credit reference letters, with a $500 or $1,000 line of credit. Dont go allowing them to hang you up on a $5,000 or $10,000 leash before theyve proven theyre able to pay small invoices. If they need a lot of work before that, it makes sense to get larger deposits and be able to accept credit cards, but do not be too quick to give new IT consulting clients credit. Its a way to get yourself in big financial trouble really fast. Require Written AgreementsIts even worse if youre selling products like hardware, software and peripherals. Always insist on written agreements for your IT consulting business. Verbal promises are for amateurs and belong in an era of time that disappeared decades ago. State what youre going to do, how youre going to do it, when youre going to do it, what its going to cost and the payment schedule, in four to six sentences. Of course, on larger IT consulting projects you will need multi page proposals. The Bottom Line about IT ConsultingAlways insist on written agreements, even if its a very small job. Just type up a couple sentences, a letter of understanding, to ensure you and the client are on the same page.Copyright MMI-MMVI, PC Support Tips .com. All Worldwide Rights Reserved. {Attention Publishers: Live hyperlink in author resource box required for copyright compliance}

Is Bad Customer Service Killing Your Business?

Is Bad Customer Service Killing Your Business?

It's time to beat the old bad customer service drum again. I know, I'm sick of beating the drum, too, but as long as bad customer service runs rampant through so many businesses I feel it is my entrepreneurial duty to bring it to your attention. So grab a pew and prepare to listen to the sermon I've preached before: bad customer service is the bane of business. If the Almighty smote down every business that dispenses bad customer service, the world would be a much friendlier, albeit much sparser place. Consider a world without malls and fast food joints would it really be so bad?What puzzles me most is if bad customer service is such a death knell for business, why do so many businesses allow it to go on? Don't they read my column, for Pete's sake? I think the problem is that most bad customer service is doled out (or at least condoned) by business owners and managers who have ceased caring what their customers think. When you stop caring what your customers think it's time to close the doors. Go find a day job. You'll make someone a wonderfully disgruntled employee.My latest parable of lousy customer service was actually experienced by my better half while attempting to buy my daughter a pair of basketball shoes. I won't mention the name of the sporting goods chain store in which the bad customer service took place, but I will tell you that its name is similar to the sound a frog with hiccups might make.As my wife waited for someone to assit, the four or five teenagers who had been charged with manning the store stood in a clump at the cash register giggling and flirting with one another as if they were at the prom instead of at work.When my wife pointed out this fact, one of the employees, a cheeky lass of 16 or so, put her hands on her hips and said, "How rude!" The males in the group didn't react at all. They were too busy arguing over who could take a break so they could chase other cheeky lasses about the mall.Needless to say my lovely bride, who has the ability to instill fear into the hearts of even the most worthless employees, left the gaggle of giggling teen idiots standing with their mouths open in disbelief. How dare a customer tell them to do that with a pair of basketball shoes?As much as I bemoan bad customer service I celebrate good customer service. It should be applauded and the purveyor of said good customer service should be rewarded for actually delivering satisfaction to the customer, above and beyond the call of duty.So let me tell you the story of my new hero, Ken. I won't tell you the name of the store in which Ken works, but let's just say they started out selling radios in a shack somewhere long, long ago.I first met Ken when I went into the store to buy a mixing board for my business that records audio products for the Web. In a nutshell, you plug microphones into the mixing board then connect it to the computer and you can record audio directly to digital format. Totally beside the point of this article, but I didn't want you thinking that I was purchasing non-manly cooking utensils.When I got the mixer installed it didn't work. So I boxed it up and headed back to the store to return it. When I told Ken my problem he didn't just grunt and give me my money back as so many bad customer service reps would do. Instead he asked, "Do you mind if I try it?""Knock yourself out," was my reply, confident that if I couldn't get it to work, neither could Ken. Ken took the mixer out of the box and went about hooking it up to one of the computers on display. He started pulling power cords and cables off the display racks and ripping them open and plugging them in. He tore open a new microphone and an adapter and kept going until he had the mixer hooked up and working. Yes, I said working. It turns out the mixer was fine. I just had the wrong power adapter.Ken could have just given me my money back and been done with me. Instead he spent 15 minutes and opened a number of other packages that I was under no obligation to buy just to help me get the thing working.I was so impressed that I not only kept the mixing board, I also bought another $50 worth of products. And the next time I need anything electronic guess where I will buy it? Even if it costs twice as much, I'll buy it from Ken.Now here's the moral of the story: if you are a business owner who has a gaggle of teenagers in charge of customer service at your store you would be better off replacing them with wild monkeys.At least monkeys can be trained.

Customer Service Done Right

Customer Service Done Right

Are you a stickler about receiving top notch customer service? Do you routinely "come through" as a provider of exemplary services to your customers? Chances are you have been greatly disappointed at one time or another regarding the service you received from a salesperson, an internet hosting company, a hair colorist, or any one of thousands of different service providers. Frankly, "customer service" in many areas -- retail, for one -- isn't what it used to be. However, where there is poor customer service there is also a great opportunity. Read on and I will explain.Let's say you are in a field that routinely provides so-so service to customers. It could be that customer expectations are low and no one expects top notch service. Maybe most customers are simply "price sensitive" and could care less about how fast or how well you deliver. However, you can bet that there are a percentage of customers out there who appreciate service that goes above and beyond the industry standard. These same customers typically will pay a little extra for service that really serves them. If you can tap into this customer base, you can create a niche, raise your prices, and make more money in the long run.Depending on your industry, you could command a price premium of 10-25% over the average provider. That may not sound like a lot, but it could spell the difference between eating hamburger or eating steak. I don't know about you, but I would prefer eating steak!Naturally, providing a high level of customer service means you will have to break a sweat. You may have to happily redo [its all in the attitude, baby!] or improve on an existing project in order to satisfy a good paying customer. This is what sets you apart from the pack.If you are satisfied with the "status quo" then that's okay too. Just don't expect to have customers beat down your doors for work. At least the better customers will not!

5 Simple Tips For Dealing With Nasty Customers

If youve been in business very long, youve likely heard it all! You know, the irate customer who is going to sue you over the nineteen dollar product that they claim is bogus; the one thats going to shut your business down because they conjure up in their minds that you might have breeched your privacy policy, or the one that takes complete advantage of your money-back guaranty. My favorite has to be the one that calls and screams vulgarities into the phone for apparently no reason.It doesnt happen often, but if youre going to be in business, you will run across some nut cases from time to time. Some can be diffused, some cant. Thats just the way things go in business.There are some simple techniques for dealing with irate customers without burning yourself an ulcer over them and without telling them you hope they get cancer and die!Here are some tips you may find useful1. Dont take it personalThere is one thing that almost all nasty customers have in common. They try to attack you on a personal level. Name calling is not unusual. When you take it personal, you are likely to get into a yelling match with the customer which resolves nothing and only stands to make things worse. Try to diffuse the situation kill the anger with kindness so to speak. If that doesnt work, ask them to contact you again once they have calmed down and are willing to speak reasonably. Refuse to speak with a customer in an irate state. You dont have to put up with abuse ever.2. Dont overdo the customer is always right conceptIn customer service training you will always hear that the customer is always right. While that is true to some extent, sometimes they are just flat wrong. You should always try to accommodate a customer within reason, but do not allow that concept to go too far.3. Realize it isnt always your problemSometimes people just have a bad day and are looking for someone to take it out on. A hateful, ugly customer is often one of these people. If you listen to their ranting and raving, then respond kindly telling them you understand their frustration and you want to work with them to come to a resolution, you will often diffuse the anger and uncover the rational human being beneath it.4. Dont fall for fear invoking bluffsIn customer service some business people tend to do anything to avoid the potential harm of a threat even if it means losing money or giving in to irrational demands. When you are threatened, consider the validity of the threat. Do you really think someone is going to pay thousands of dollars in attorney fees to sue you over a low dollar transaction? Likely not. Again, do what you can to accommodate within reason but dont give in to unsubstantiated threats.5. Be prepared to decide whether or not a customer relationship is worth salvagingYouve heard it said that one happy customer tells one person about your business while an unhappy customer will tell 10 or more. Undoubtedly, word of mouth can be the best or the worst exposure for your business. This is the very basis of the the customer is always right concept. Of course it is best to salvage a customer relationship if you can, but again, do so within reason.

Creating a Call Center Script

At the beginning of my creative career, I volunteered as an overnight deejay at a college radio station. I loved playing the music and interacting with insomniac listeners, but I got a real kick out of reading the news. I would tear copy straight off the wire service printer and if I was lucky, I had a producer turn that raw newsfeed into informational text that I read into the microphone. The text was broken up into reasonable sentences that were designed for easy delivery over the air. When my producer didnt show up for my shift, I did this myself Id mark up the page, insert pauses, and emphasize the words and sentence clauses that I wanted to stress. If I couldnt be understood over a fuzzy and weak AM signal, then what was the point of taking five minutes at the top of the hour to deliver the news? I had a lot of fun and I learned how to speak all over again. Whenever I do any live speaking today, I use the same exact techniques that I learned while the On-Air sign was flashing above the studio. I mark up my speech or the text passage Im reading because I know that impact is everything. If I lose my breath in the middle of a sentence, then its too long. If the last word of a sentence drops out inaudibly, my message is lost. If I stumble on an unfamiliar word or name, my audience loses confidence in my message. Live telephone operators who work in call centers and answering services need the same help that any live speaker needs. Its the job of the "call center" operator to communicate the clients business image to the caller, and this begins with the first few seconds of the phone call. Many small business owners needs never go beyond representatives answering their lines with XYZ Company, may I help you? and improvising the rest of the conversation to obtain the information that the client requests. When clients upgrade their accounts to more complex services, its important that they create a script that works for both the company signing up for the service, the operator reading the script, and the customer. Your sales representative is more than willing to help you create the best script to fit all of your sales or information inquiries. Creating a call center script begins with the answer phrase and the same principles continue through the entire process of creating a logical script. H ere are some important items to keep in mind when you are creating your script: Avoid tongue twisters. Make your greeting as easy to pronounce as possible. Doctor Perkowicz Peoria Plastic Surgery Plaza isnt easy to say, even for the native English speaker. Make sure that your operators know how to pronounce every part of your answer phrase, and the rest of the words in your script. Keep phrases brief and avoid repeating consonant sounds that will sound awkward over the phone or might lead the operator to stutter. Go global. A Good Morning/ Evening greeting can work for some businesses, but not for all of them. If your company is doing business across time zones, think about using a simple Hello, XYZ Company for your customer on the other end of the globe. Humanize your greeting. Have an impartial friend or a trusted customer listen to your greeting, especially if its a long introductory message of more than a sentence or two. Do you sound like a recording? If you give that impression to a caller, the person on the other end of the line might just hang up because she wants to talk with a live person, not a machine. Keep all parts of your script brief and give the operator relaying your message time to breathe and sound like a live person when you create your script. Less is more. Theres a temptation to try and pack all the information about your company into your call center script, including providing an operator a copy of your frequently asked questions list (FAQ) so that he or she can quickly scan the file and answer 99.9 % of your callers questions. However, this skill takes practice and training on the part of the operator and patience on the part of the caller. Long pauses to look up information, add expensive minutes to the call and are frustrating experiences for the operator and the caller alike. Extensive account training is available through most call centers, if your budget permits. If this resource is not an option for you, limit the information available to the operators to a few facts about your product or service, and let them know that its okay to ask callers if someone from the right department can return their call and answer their questions in depth. Test. Call your account weekly and test to make sure that the operators are following your instructions, are handling your scripts the way that you expect, and are able to easily access the information that they need to take your calls. After the honeymoon period with a new account, operators often grow lax and shorten your script, or improvise far beyond the call of duty. This can be detrimental to your business. Make sure that you follow up with your call center to make sure they are serving your needs. Tweak, and tweak again. Review your script from time to time, and see if its still leading to action. Ultimately, your script should lead to a sale, an appointment a request for more information or further contact from your office. Check your call logs and any statistics your sales representative provides you with on a monthly basis. If you notice a downward trend in your results, work with your sales rep to change your script. These suggestions are only the beginning of creating a successful call center script for your organization. Work with your sales representative and listen to their suggestions, add your own, do your market research and your script will be a success. Clear communication starts with clear instructions from you, and clear voices on the answering end of your phone lines. Your call center will work with you to make sure that all of your needs are filled over and above your expectations.

Summary

Customer relationships are what will determine the health and prosperity of your computer consulting business. In order to get paid on a regular basis you need to understand the dynamics of customer relationships.