Thursday, May 28, 2015

What to do when a Customer Complains

We have all heard the mantra, "the customer is always right".  While this sentiment comes from a good place and encourages a positive attitude towards customers, it is quite simply, not always true. In fact, it can actually reward customers for their demanding and rude behavior. 

Encountering a rude customer, or a customer who wants something you cannot give them, is not an uncommon occurrence for business owners. It's important to develop a strategy when faced with these types of situations. It can mean the difference between a customer feeling satisfied or promising to never do business with you again.

  • Stay calm. No matter how angry or rude the customer is you never want to react similarly, as it could escalate things and make matters worse.  
  • Be a good listener. Try not to interrupt the customer until they are finished, as this will likely make them more frustrated.
  • Show the customer you were listening by summarizing their words back to them. Then ask questions to further clarify their complaint.  
  • Apologize. Regardless of who is at fault, a simple "We're sorry you've had such a frustrating experience" can go a long way.
  • Tell the customer what you can do. You may not be able to give the customer exactly what they want, but by offering an alternative suggestion you are showing the customer you would still like to do what you can to make things right.  
  • Know when to walk away. Sometimes there is no way to satisfy an angry customer.  If this is the case, all you can do is offer an apology and step away from the conversation.
Something else to consider: living by "the customer is always right" mantra can also be bad for your employees and the general company moral. Your employees come to work each day and help make your product what it is. Make sure your company policies support the employees responsible for handling customer grievances. They should feel respected and empowered.

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

What Motivates Consumers To Make A Purchase?

It's safe to say most business owner's objective is to make a sale, but to make that sale it can be helpful to understand what motivates a customer to make their purchase. Your Better Business Bureau recommends considering the following four points to improve your business and sales strategy. 
  1. How convenient is this experience for the customer? This can mean a number of different things, from parking convenience and storefront location, to website intuitiveness and delivery methods. 
  2. The customer wants the best value. Many consumers looking to make a purchase will research a product before purchasing. Their interpretation of value can be determined by price comparisons and even online reviews. Is your business's online presence scarce? Consider registering your business with an online directory, like BBB for example. 
  3. Do you give your customers individualized attention? Try to gently identify what it is your customer is looking for. Are they dissatisfied with a similar product from a competitor? Set your business apart by being attentive and helpful. 
  4. A consumer wants it to be easy. If your online ordering process is too complicated you will find that many potential customers are abandoning their cart. If a product is out of stock do you go ahead and order the product for them? Or do you encourage them to use your website or seek out another store? 

Ultimately a customer is going to make a decision based on experience. Are you creating a positive customer experience or is it forgettable? 

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Embrace The Negative Feedback

Negative feedback online can seem like a nightmare to small business owners. The Internet is an unregulated platform - anyone can say anything and you have no control. However, there can be a silver lining to this kind of feedback, you just need to know from which angle to approach the negativity. Here are some things you should know when addressing negative feedback online:

Whether you like it or not, people are leaving reviews of your business online. There are several review platforms and online directories that allow consumers to talk about their experience with a business. The sooner you begin to engage with consumers the sooner you'll gain some control over your business's online perception. 

Your business is not the only business receiving negative feedback. 

Stop taking it personally. Regardless of the delivery, keep an open mind. Sometimes customers can help you identify an area of your business where there is room for improvement. If you notice users are making similar complaints, you know you have some work to do. 

People are suspicious of business's that do not have negative online reviews. According to a study by Reevo, positive reviews did not tip the scales when it came to making a sale. However, there was a positive impact on sales the more reviews a business had total - regardless of the tone. 

Respond! This is your opportunity to show the consumer that you care about their experience. Not only does a thoughtful response go a long way with the disgruntled customer, it goes a long way with potential customers.

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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Spring Cleaning For Your Small Business

With winter safely behind us (knock on wood) many Americans are participating in Spring Cleaning. Though typically thought of as something reserved for the home, it's a great philosophy to apply to your small business as well. 

So what areas of your business should you consider when starting fresh this spring? 

Your Finances. For many businesses summer tends to be slow so you may be reserving bigger purchases until the fall. Despite slow business and postponing major spending, bills still have to be paid. Review your cash balances now to determine how you will be covering your expenses during this period. Additionally review any auto renewal payments. You may find you're paying for something you only needed temporarily or something you no longer use. 

Filing and Documents. How do you keep track of important paperwork, files, and documents? Are you still storing these things in an old school filing cabinet? Consider going digital. By utilizing a CRM service not only are you diminishing the physical clutter around your office, but you are also increasing productivity by having this information at the ready in a digital dashboard. You will be able to find specific files in a matter of minutes just by typing in a simple search, and you can access this information anywhere at anytime. 

Staff Responsibilities. Take inventory of your staff and their responsibilities. We're not recommending you fire anyone (unless of course you have an employee who simply does not do their job) but take time to consider who your staff is and what they do. Has an employee outgrown their position? Is there more you could be delegating to them? Have certain positions become irrelevant? Could you redistribute the employee filling this position to another area of your business? Consider the ways in which your staff can be the most productive and successful. 

Business Plan. Review your business plan. What do you hope to achieve over the next 6 months? Year? Five years? Think about this in terms of your expectations for your own professional growth as well as your business's growth because as a business owner, these two things overlap. Have your expectations and goals shifted? If they have (which is not a bad thing) then how can you adjust your business plan to reflect these changes? What should you be doing differently in order to achieve success?

Be sure you are checking in weekly for more tips and tricks to benefit your small business! 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

3 Steps to Bridging the Sales & Marketing Gap

The divide between sales and marketing has almost become expected. It always seems to come down to the same problems. Marketing is dissatisfied with sales because lead conversion rates are low. Sales is dissatisfied with marketing because the leads are not qualified. 

So how does this issue get resolved? How do you go about re-evaluating your marketing and sales strategies? How do you close the loop?

You must develop a clear plan and process, then follow through.
  1. Set the expectation that sales and marketing work together. Apple has mastered an uninterrupted connection between marketing and sales. It's almost unclear where the marketing ends and the selling begins. The sales team should understand that a marketer's job is more than making things look pretty. They should understand that a marketer's job is to increase the salability of the product or service. The marketing team should understand that a salesperson's job is critically important as they drive business. 
  2. Define the term "lead." Who is your customer? Who are you trying to sell to? When both marketing and sales can agree on what a good lead is, marketing will be able to develop a strategy to attract the appropriate potential customers, and sales will be more likely to convert the lead because the product or service being sold speaks to the consumer's needs. 
  3. Establish a method for accountability. Utilizing a digital dashboard with lead management software can help do this. Not only can you see where leads are being sent, see who is following up on those leads, and view their status, you can also keep track of key details. Lead management software makes key brand messaging more accessible. It also allows sales reps to keep track of strategies that worked and any other notable information that might have transpired during a sale. From a marketing standpoint this is incredibly helpful as this information can be used as feedback when moving forward with new strategies. 
Be sure you are checking in weekly for more tips and tricks to benefit your small business! 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Old School vs. New School: How to step up your small business's marketing game.

Marketing tactics are ever evolving and in order to stay relevant it is critical to develop your small business marketing strategy as these changes occur. 

Here are three ways you can take your old school marketing tactics new school. 

1. Interruption Marketing
 old school

You're interrupting someone's day to push your product. This conversation is entirely one way and your focus is to make a sale ASAP. This can incite anxiety in the potential customer as the tactic feels pushy. 

what to do instead...

Permission Marketing new school

You're earning the potential customer's interest with a educational dialogue about your product. Your focus is on quality rather than quantity which is essential in building long-lasting relationships with your customers. This will likely result in higher customer retention. 

2. Advertising in Print Directories old school
Placing an ad in the Yellow Pages was once considered one of the best ways to get your small business's name out there but now it's more likely the directory will be tossed in the recycling bin before it's even opened.

what to do instead...

Online Directory Listing new school
Try an online directory. Updating your business information on an online directory (like your BBB) is a sure fire way for relevant consumers to see your business. Not only does it increase your visibility online but it helps generate traffic to your website, establish credibility, and improve sales. 

3. Radio Spots old school   
While radio spots are popular because they deliver short and sweet information, they also cost money.

what to do instead...

Tweets new school
Try modifying your radio copy for Twitter. Not only are you sharing your message with a vast audience (like radio) but you are able to generate traffic to your website. 

Be sure you are checking in weekly for more tips and tricks to benefit your small business! 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

BBB Warning: Scams Currently Affecting Small Businesses

Scams targeting small businesses are not only becoming more frequent, but are also appearing in many different forms. Most recently, BBB has received reports of office supply scams and Yellow Page spoofs.

Office Supply Scam

How It Works:
Scammers will call your small business claiming to be from an office supply company making offers for limited time pricing, discounts, or going-out-of-business sales. Once you have agreed to make a purchase, weeks later you receive a large invoice for products you did not order. If the scammer is questioned regarding the invoice, they will often back off. However, if your Accounts Receivable staff is authorized to pay any and all invoices, and are unaware of current scams, your business could fall victim.

How to Avoid this Scam:
  • Train your staff and make sure they are up-to-date and aware of current scams and schemes.
  • Make sure your staff does not respond to unsolicited phone offers. All sales pitches should be made in writing.
  • Do not engage with unknown sellers. Make sure they are a trustworthy business by visiting

Yellow Page Spoof

How It Works:
A scammer posing as Yellow Pages might contact your business about updating your directory information. They ask you to confirm some basic information such as your name, address, and phone number. Weeks later you will receive an invoice for an ad in the Yellow Pages. When you call to complain, the scammer posing as a representative tells you that you made a verbal confirmation. They might even play you a spliced recording making it sound like you had agreed to placing an ad.

How to Avoid this Scam:
  • Hang up. Don't confirm information over the phone from unsolicited callers.
  • Don't trust caller ID. Scammers sometimes use special technology to fake the number and name that appear on your phone.
  • The Yellow Pages name and logo are not trademarked, making it an easy target for scammers to impersonate.

If you are unsure if you have fallen victim to a scam, trust your instinct. If something seems too good to be true, it usually is. If your business has experience with or has fallen victim to these scams be sure to contact your local Better Business Bureau.

If you are seeking specific information about a business, or simply need assistance, contact BBB serving Eastern MA, ME, RI & VT by or call 508-652-4800.