You’ve done your market research, you’ve got a solid business plan, you’ve registered your company and pulled together funding, suppliers and everything else you need to start your new business. You’re ready to trade – you just need some customers.
However, not all customers are created equal; some are a delight to deal with, while others seem to have crept from the depths just to torment you. When you’re building up your customer base, you obviously want more of the former and fewer of the latter, especially if you’re in a service-provision industry where customer relationships are key; but how can you achieve this? (more…)
In the past, company leaders were focused first and foremost on the development of innovative products and operational excellence.
Today, customer satisfaction is the absolute number one priority – a point confirmed by almost every recent survey of top managers, with 89% of company leaders now seeing customer experience as their biggest differentiator.
Here, customer expert, Prof. Steven Van Belleghem explains why every business leader should view the customer relationship as the key to their future business success.
New research finds the UK’s SMEs are optimistic about the global economy and their role in it – and indicates that they are going ‘back to basics’ to unlock ambitious growth over the next 12 months.
The study also suggests that Britain’s SMEs could be ripe for international expansion. (more…)
The number of businesses in the UK is at a record high. It’s exciting the country is a fantastic place to start a business, but, it also means today’s business landscape is more competitive than ever before.
With lots of competition for customers it’s imperative you find ways to stand out in a crowded marketplace and set yourself apart from your competitors.
Creating strong brand messaging is one of best ways to get your product or business noticed. So how can smaller businesses do this effectively, without it costing too much? (more…)
The growth of AI is set to be one of the most disruptive technologies in the coming years for businesses of all sizes. Even in these relatively early days of AI, it is already affecting customer experience.
The younger generation have grown up in a world where they are used to a quick and effortless service, and as a result, will lose interest with anything that takes too long or requires too much effort from them.
Here, Prof. Steven Van Belleghem, an expert in customer focus in the digital world, examines the evolution of customer service under Artificial Intelligence. (more…)
In marketing, there a million ways to reach your customers. You can go big with a billboard, or far with a Facebook post, targeting potential customers city-wide, nationwide and globally.
The internet has allowed us more reach than ever before, and while powerful, this means that we can easily lose the humanity of our marketing.
When it comes to retaining your customers, this humanity is crucial. Will your customers still be with you once serious product competition appears on the horizon, ready to snap up your valued buyers with slashed prices and easier delivery means?
Customer service is accelerating towards ever greater automation. In some sectors we’re already seeing chatbots and virtual assistants transforming the customer experience.
But at what point do the cost efficiencies that technology provide become less compelling, and can the human touch ever be fully replicated or replaced?
We asked Chris Cullen, head of sales and marketing at outsourced customer contact specialist, Echo Managed Services, to assess the changing consumer communication landscape and to explain how businesses can incorporate new solutions alongside traditional methods of customer contact. (more…)
Pop-up shops are an excellent way to test new ideas and products, engage with your target market and get feedback from potential customers, without making a big, long-term investment.
In addition to their value as a testing ground for new concepts and new businesses, pop-up shops are becoming increasingly popular as a way for existing business to take their offering to new locations.
There are lots of different factors that can determine the success or failure of a pop-up shop and it’s vital you consider these before starting your pop-up venture. Here are 6 key considerations to help you get your first pop-up shop running smoothly and generating income for your business. (more…)
“Will you give us a discount on that figure?”
“Can you match the lower price I can get down the street?”
“Can’t you do it cheaper?”
These are the kind of questions people running start-ups and small businesses get asked an awful lot.
But what are the best answers to give? Here, we look at how small business owners can respond to these kind of questions, without losing business and without cutting prices and profit margins.
As the name suggests, a dual sim phone allows you to have two sims in a single phone. There are a variety of reasons why people may want access to two different phone numbers on a single device.
A dual sim phone could be of particular use to self employed people, freelancers and business owners who want to be able to handle personal and work calls separately, but don’t want to carry two different phones.
The facility to have separate numbers for work and personal contacts, with tailored voicemail messages can help you to be more professional and create a better impressions with potential customers. With dual sim phones seemingly solving a communications conundrum for many small business owners we asked telecoms expert, Dave Millett, to share his insight into them; (more…)
Technological innovation is happening ever more rapidly and the changes will transform every industry. Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) can benefit from these innovative technologies but must strike a balance between using technology and being overwhelmed by it.
To help business owners embrace the potential of new technologies we asked Rohit Talwar, editor of, ‘The Future of Business’ and ‘Technology vs. Humanity’ to provide some practical advice on how to survive, and thrive, in the face of this continuous tidal wave of technological change. (more…)
If you’re starting a new business you’ll, no doubt, want to establish and build a strong brand. Doing so will bring huge benefits over the long-term, helping you to stand out from the crowd, generate more customers and ultimately build a more valuable business.
But how do you build a brand, and where do you start? We asked branding expert, and author of ‘Winning in Your Own Way; the Nine and a Half Golden Rules of Branding‘, Robert Bean to explain;
When you are starting a business, you will need to answer many questions. However, one of the most fundamental questions any business owner will be asked is, what is the purpose of your business?
So what would your answer be?
How you answer the question, has a significant bearing on whether your business is likely to succeed, so we asked Jim McGrath, author of The Little Book of Big Management Wisdom to reveal what your answer should be; (more…)
One in three customers do not buy your complete range of products and services. Why? Well the answer is very simple! It’s because they don’t know you offer them!
So is your business unknowingly falling victim of this profit-crushing statistic?
A thought-provoking question, isn’t it? (more…)
Launching a startup is weird. You have a big idea driving you, with lots of small things to do to get going.
You don’t necessarily have lots of business coming in or staff on board yet, but still you have to run this fledgling business the way you are going to run your future super-successful business.
The way you behave, now, at the start, will set the scene for what your business will be like in the future. This is where being a good customer comes in. (more…)
Customer-centricity is one of the hottest topic in business today. Across the world, companies of all sizes are looking for new ways to become more customer-centric in order to give themselves a competitive advantage in a decreasingly loyal marketplace.
Unfortunately, however, for many businesses the phrase “give them an inch; they’ll take a mile” is all too appropriate when it comes to customer-centricity. By striving to accommodate their customers wants and needs they leave themselves open to a proportion of their clients who will take advantage.
Get the balance wrong and give customers too much power and you will find yourself in a situation that is completely unsustainable in the long-term. (more…)
We’ve all heard it; “You just have to be using social media marketing.”
And the response from many business owners is; “I’m keen to try using social media to promote my small business but I’m not sure where to start.”
If this sounds like you, here are ten simple but effective tips that will help any business starting out with social media, no matter how big or small your budget.
When considering great customer experience (CX), it can be helpful to picture a shopkeeper.
The more we visit the shop, the better the shopkeeper gets to know us. After a few visits, the shopkeeper initially learns our name; then what products we like and have previously purchased; when we’re likely to need more of them; and finally to the stage where they can make recommendations of what we might like to try.
Such a role is now expected, and even demanded, of all the brands consumers interact with. The days of a one-size-fits-all approach to customer communications are long gone. Today, brands need to forge personal relationships, similar to that which people enjoy with their favourite local store. (more…)
Traditionally, tradesmen have thrived on word-of-mouth recommendations, but in today’s marketplace online referrals can have a big influence on whether a customer decides to employ your services.
By the nature of their work, trades people cannot be expected to be experts in generating business online so we asked Jonny Lawrence, a digital marketing expert at Logic4training, to give an insight into how online referral sites and social media can work for the trades. (more…)
A key part of any business development goal is creating an efficient sales strategy that gets your products or services in front of the right people and invites them to make a purchase.
Successful business leaders understand that the sales process is the lifeblood of the company. Without an efficient, productive means of making sales, even brilliant ideas will fail, so it’s vital for every business owner to find the sales process that work bests for their company.
The quicker you can do this, the better your chances of growing your business, and the more likely you are to succeed. With so much at stake, William Buist reveals the sales strategy secrets that will help you make sustainable sales.
In the world of marketing, Word of Mouth has great, well … word of mouth.
According to WOMMA (the Word of Mouth Marketing Association), word of mouth marketing is considered to be more effective than traditional marketing by 64% of marketers.
You may be thinking they would say that, wouldn’t they, but their survey is backed up by research from Nielsen that revealed 84% of us trust recommendations from people we know; and research from Market Share that found marketing impact can be increased by up to 54% by social voice (i.e. online & offline word of mouth).
For every service business, ensuring your customers have a great experience is paramount. Whether you’re a small start-up cafe or a global hotel chain, customer satisfaction needs to be a top priority if you are to succeed.
To help you put in place the foundations for a thriving service business, we asked Michael Heppell, the author of, “5 Star Service – How to deliver exceptional customer service”, to reveal the key issues you need to get right, before you can start wowing your customers; (more…)
If you’re starting a business then chances are money is tight – so anything you can do to increase sales without spending a fortune is worth looking at.
It’s easy to imagine that you need to employ a crack sales team – but the truth is, if you’ve made one sale, then you already have one sales person – that customer. And more often than not, the best people to sell your products and services are your customers.
Customers have already gained benefit from you and because they are impartial, they can provide legitimate social proof. So how do you get your customers selling for you? (more…)
Giving your customer a great experience is not just about customer service. It goes far deeper than that. It’s also essential if you want to increase your sales and make your marketing budget go further.
The reason people don’t want to do business with organisations that aren’t customer focused is because it’s so difficult to do business with them! As a start-up or small business the last thing you want to do is make life difficult for your customers!
This is why it is important to understand that delivering great customer experiences is about the WHOLE customer journey.
From website design, product design, and marketing to finance, operations, HR, procedures and policies. You name it, and it should be linked to delivering a WOW customer experience.
The development of a strong relationship between consumers and your company is one of the keys to achieving a good level of customer retention.
Now, with the increasing possibilities offered by digitalisation, it is even possible to make the customer a part of the company, allowing them to play an active role in its activities and build a genuine emotional connection through the four following options (more…)
The ability to negotiate the highest possible fees without risking a client relationship or an instruction has become increasingly important to individual professionals and professional service firms in recent years.
The rising influence of procurement on the buying side has squeezed margins for many service providers. Those best able to withstand these pressures are usually those that have the ability to negotiate robustly on fees.
Clients often ask what makes someone a great fee negotiator, i.e. someone who is able to get clients to agree to pay as high a fee as possible without losing the work, or the client. (more…)
So you’ve decided to go freelance. You’ve picked a smart balance between being a wage slave employee, and the full stresses and strains that go with building a stand alone business.
Once your marketing efforts have generated you a list of prospects, it’s time to see them and get them to buy. The first thing to remember is that you’re not selling a product or service – you’re selling the benefits it brings to the buyer.
Of all the areas where a small business can compete with the big boys, customer service is the one where it should really shine.
With the economic dowturn still with us, despite encouraging signs that the worst may now be over, many small businesses will have experienced ‘shrinkage’ in their customer base.
And that leaves you fighting your competitors for a smaller and smaller share of the market (until your competitors go under, anyway).
Actually, there is a bountiful supply of business for you, and the good news is you already have it.
Benjamin Dyer, director of product development for ecommerce and EPOS supplier Actinic, shares his experiences of creating a successful customer community.