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I read an interesting blog this morning entitled ‘Customer service key to Christmas’.  It was music to my ears!  Is good service more important than discounted prices?  Yes – every time.  Of course we all like to get a bargain, but if a lower price means the level of service is compromised, it’s not a good deal.  In my opinion, communication is the key to great customer service.  What’s more, it doesn’t cost a lot in terms of time or money, but the rewards are huge.

As the executor of a will, I’ve recently had dealings with a fairly large firm of solicitors.  If you were to look at this company’s website and listen to the recorded phone messages, you’d probably be delighted to hear that I, as a client, am the most important person in the world.  At least that’s the theory … until it comes to communicating with me, that is.  My emails have gone unanswered and phone calls unreturned.  Eventually I couldn’t take any more and I made a complaint.  After a couple of letters, the gist of the senior partner’s reply was … ‘it wasn’t their policy to communicate because it cost too much money!’

How many small businesses can afford to take that sort of attitude? WORD-right certainly can’t.   Will I be recommending that firm of solicitors to anyone?  Not in a million years!  Will I be telling everyone about the poor service?  Of course I will!

It doesn’t take too much imagination to work out that, if your client, customer or prospect sends an enquiry, it’s because they need information … ignore it at your peril.  If you don’t respond and at least try to provide the answers, they’ll pretty soon find someone who will.  And that someone might just be your competitor.

Imagine this scenario … you’ve just walked into a restaurant or a café.  You find a table and sit down.  If, after 15 minutes nobody has acknowledged your presence, let alone given you a menu or taken a drinks order, what will you do?  It’s likely you’ll make a fuss or walk out, and you’ll tell everyone who’ll listen about the appalling service.

On the other hand, providing you’re welcomed with a smile … told they are very busy so there might be a delay in fulfilling your order … you’ll sit there quite happily.  In fact, if they keep communicating with you and perhaps offer you a complimentary glass or two of wine, there’s a good chance you’ll wait for hours and still rave about the service!

Communication doesn’t cost a lot.  If you haven’t got time to answer that email in depth, at least acknowledge it.  Send a reply saying you’ll answer fully after lunch or the next day … and be sure you do!  If you’ve promised to phone someone back at a given time, make that call.  If you haven’t yet got the information they want, at least phone and tell them so.  That way, you’ve fulfilled your promise, the client knows they are not forgotten, and you’ve bought yourself some time.  Apart from being good practice, it’s just common courtesy.

And finally, if you have got it wrong and someone complains, hold your hand up … admit you’ve got it wrong and do something to put it right.  Good communication skills will help you win new business, increase your professional standing, and most importantly … keep your existing clients and customers coming back for more.

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

Finding the right CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system isn’t easy.  Like many small businesses, we recognised the need for a system which would meet our individual requirements, not just here and now, but for the future. 

I cut my teeth on ACT in the days of DOS systems.  But as some of the WORD-right team works remotely, having a PC-based CRM wasn’t going to be easy to use or manage.  So after much deliberation, we decided to investigate online CRM packages. 

The word ‘minefield’ springs to mind!  There is a vast array of packages out there, with set-up fees ranging from a few pounds or dollars to several hundred.  I was dazzled by all the available bells and whistles, and in some cases, by the dazzling prices too! 

When I arrived at iport4business, I had worked out what bells and whistles I wanted from my CRM system, and which ones were just going to be an unnecessary added cost.  iport4business met all my needs, was easy and intuitive to use (even for little old me!), and … very important in these credit crunch times … had no set-up fee. 

But our decision to invest in the iport4business system wasn’t based on the cost or even on its range of bells and whistles.  So if we weren’t swayed by prices or ingenious features, what did prompt this buying decision?  That’s easy … good old-fashioned customer service … that’s what! 

After we’d set up our free 14 day trial to get familiar with the software, I had a few queries.  After all, this was a big decision for a small business, and I wanted to be sure the system worked for us.  Not only did I get an  impressively fast response from the company’s Airdrie office, I also received the first of several emails from the iport4business CEO, Chic McSherry! 

Iport4business counts many huge organisation as clients, both in the UK and ‘over the pond’.  Names such as Spar and Virgin Trains clearly demonstrate the stature of this international company.  Needless to say, I was very, very impressed at getting fast, chatty, and really helpful replies from the CEO himself.  

There is no doubt in my mind the world would be a better place to live and work if more companies took this attitude.  We’re probably one of the smallest tiddlers in the iport4business pond, but we feel welcomed, cared for, and valued.  That, for me, is what customer service is all about. 

So sorry Chic … if you find yourself knee deep in emails after this post, you’ll know who to blame!

When you book a service you’ve never used before and without a recommendation, you have to cross your fingers and hope for the best. 
Well, my fingers were crossed yesterday … quite unnecessarily I might add.

We booked a lunch party for my father’s 90th birthday at Southsea’s Royal Beach Hotel (http://www.royalbeachhotel.co.uk).  In true Scottish style, I also arranged for Daniel Del Piccolo, a Highland Bagpiper, to play both at the hotel and afterwards at the Nursing Home where my father now lives. 

From start to finish my father’s special day was everything we hoped it would be.  From our first enquiry, the staff at the Royal Beach Hotel were helpful and professional.  Davina and Sally from the hotel’s events team couldn’t do enough to make the day a success.  We were greeted like old friends and treated like royalty from start to finish. 

Birthday party announcement!

Birthday party announcement!

I have now quite forgiven them for aging me by several decades … whoops!  The display board in the hotel foyer announced MY 90th birthday party was being held in the Ark Royal Restaurant.  Needless to say this caused much hilarity and the board was well photographed by several members of the family! 

The food at the Royal Beach Hotel was first class (no small comment from a former caterer and restaurateur!) and the wines excellent.  There’s no doubt we’ll be treating ourselves to lunch there again at the next opportunity.  So a big thank you from the WORD-right team to all the staff at the Royal Beach Hotel, Southsea.

The highlight of my father’s day was the surprise arrival of Daniel del Piccolo.  In full regalia Daniel, a member of the Rose and Thistle Pipe band,  piped in the birthday cake and brought tears to an old man’s eyes. 

Daniel - the South Coast Piper

Daniel Del Piccolo - the South Coast Piper

I had no idea where I would find a piper for the event and found Daniel on a Google search.  We communicated by email and phone to tie up the arrangements for the day.  Daniel sent me a copy of his repertoire and even went so far as to learn to play ‘The Dark Island’ at my request. 

Daniel Del Piccolo is an incredibly talented young man!  Not only is he an accomplished musician, he is charming, helpful and a sheer delight to work with.  If you’re looking for a piper in the Hampshire or South Coast area, don’t hesitate.  Check out his website (http://www.southcoastpiper.co.uk).  He comes highly recommended!

Finally a big thank you to all the staff at The Regency Nursing Home who do so much to care for all their residents.  Everyone’s birthday is marked by a tea-party complete with cake.  They do a great job and it’s good to know there are so many dedicated professionals helping look after my Dad.

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