Over at CMS Wire they have a really cute infographic about customer service during the holidays, but the stats aren’t cute at all.
74% of the respondents in the survey believe that contacting customer service is more of a hassle during the year-end holidays than at any other time of the year. 37% percent said they’d rather eat last year’s stale fruitcake than contact customer service during the holidays.
Sure, it’s kind of a funny statistic, but what it’s really saying is that there is some room for improvement for the holiday customer experience. So here are some tips to help your business shine during this busy season.
Empower Your Team
If you haven’t already seen this video from Canadian airline WestJet, take 5 minutes and give it a look. As much as the customers enjoyed this holiday surprise, the WestJet employees really seem to be the winners here. Imagine how much fun they had pulling this off. (more…)
Knowledge is power. Knowledge of your customer. Knowledge of their needs. Knowledge of their habits and desires and beliefs. As important as building the right widget or service to meet their needs, is building the right process for finding those who will benefit from your product and selling it to them.
Today we are releasing a new set of sales tools in Batchbook to help you better develop and manage the right sales process for your business. We’ve made it super simple to create a process for turning your interested visitors into paying customers and long term champions.
The new deals tab in Batchbook will let you:
- Easily work through your sales process – Easily sort deals based on assignments. Quickly preview action needed, contact your customer and update the deal stage from one screen.
- Customize your sales stages – Create your own custom deals stages based on the steps involved in marketing and selling your product or service to your customers. Update that process as you learn more about what is working and what isn’t.
- Categorize different deal types – Create your own categories for the different services you offer, versions of your product or distribution channels. No matter what you are selling and who you are selling it to, you can easily set up different strategies that will work for you.
- Create your own territories – Create your own territories and track all deals based on those areas. Whether you distribute opportunities to your sales team based on locations, or just need to track different currencies across your sales region, you can use custom territories to track locations that make sense to you.
- Manage sales from your phone – The new deals tab is designed for mobile first. All features available in the web version are also available across all smartphones including searching, viewing, updating, quick calling and mapping customer locations.
- Involve everyone at your company in the sales process. The owner, partners, business development, front desk, support team. Everyone is part of the customer conversations, so make sure everyone is sharing their conversations and notes in Batchbook. Unlimited users means everyone can be involved for the same low price.
Get a Glimpse of the New Sales Tools
As with the rest of Batchbook, we have made the new Deals feature extremely customizable. Creating the right process for yourself and your team is a very important and an ongoing process. Below are a few screenshots of the easy customization and deal flow in the new Batchbook Deals feature.
Wow, time is flying and the holiday season is in full swing! If you’ve been following along with our blog series and our Procrastinator’s Guide to Holiday Promotions, then I’m sure you have things under control. Since you want to keep the momentum going, now’s a great time to put together a social promotion or two and we’ve got 5 ideas for you.
1. Deck the Halls
You’re likely to have more visitors than usual, so spruce up your social profile pages for the holidays. Whether the images are holiday themed or have a promo code that customers can use (or both) , this is a great way to get some attention post-Cybermonday. Social Media Examiner has 5 Ways to Prepare Your Facebook Page for the Holidays, but these ideas can work for other social networks too.
2. Win Big
Put together a contest for a cool gift item or gift certificate on your Facebook page. You can use apps like Offerpop to easily set up the contest, keep track of the entries and pick a winner. If you use Pinterest (and you probably should), I love the idea of having a “Follower of the Week” contest. Maybe a weekly holiday themed contest for the next three weeks?
Customers will come looking for coupons and special offers before they decide where to spend their holiday dollars, so make it easy for them to find the info they need. You can easily create an image of a coupon and then share it across your social media networks just like any other picture. You can make even more interesting images if you have a designer on staff or are handy with graphic design software.
4. Take a Picture
Twitter recently added image previews. This means you can upload a photo with your tweet and it will be seen in the twitter feed without having to click a link. You probably don’t want to add an image to every tweet, but if you have a coupon or a fun image to share it’s more likely to be seen if your followers don’t have to click on a link to open it.
Why not run a social promotion counting down to the holidays? The folks at Brix Wine Shop run a 12 Days of Christmas promotion for the last 12 shopping days. They run different sales and tastings in their store each night. Remind your customers how many shopping days remain and give them a cool gift idea for each day.
Have you done any holiday social promotions that were really successful? Tell us about what has worked and what hasn’t.
Thanksgiving is nearly here and that means holiday greeting cards should be arriving soon. If you don’t have a plan for your cards yet, it’s not too late! Here are 5 ideas you can use to make some memorable holiday greetings.
1. Let The Dog In
Do you have an office pet? Now’s your chance to dress him up like Santa, or Rudolph, or Frosty, or… all of them? Luckily, holiday pet costumes seem to be plentiful in the stores this year, so here’s your excuse to finally buy one. Can pet costumes be written off as a business expense? Hmmm…
2. Dress Up
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. Bust out those ugly holiday sweaters and get a picture of your team wearing them. If you have an in-office competition for the ugliest sweater, you’ll be sure to get some interesting ones. It’ll bring a smile to the recipient’s face and it’ll be a lot of fun your team, too (or at least for the photographer).
3. Share Some Info
Take a quick survey at your office or share some milestones from the year in the form of a holiday infographic. You can use a tool like Piktochart to create the graphic and have it printed on greeting cards or even as a small poster. I’m not gonna lie, you’ll need to get started on this one pretty soon. Or see #5.
Add some holiday bling to your logo for your greeting cards. Our friends at Swiftly sent over a Thanksgiving-ified Batchbook logo that they made for us.
You might try a Christmas, Hanukkah or winter theme for your logo and make a cute card with that. If you just don’t have time to do it yourself, consider outsourcing the task. We’ve got a special deal from Swiftly at the end of this post, if you need some help.*
5. It’s Never Too Late
Just can’t squeeze it in before the end of the year? There’s always next year! Send New Year’s greetings instead for a change of pace. Direct Mail Manager has a fine selection of New Year’s cards that you can quickly customize and they will mail them for you. Thank me later.
If you missed the announcement, we have a contest going on Facebook to give away 100 custom cards which will be printed and mailed. Hurry up, go enter!
But Wait, There’s More
This is just the latest in our holiday blog series. If you missed the previous ones, you should take a look. We also have our Procrastinator’s Guide to Holiday Promotions, which is full of ideas for your small business holidays. We’d love to hear how your holiday promotions are going. Are you stuck on anything? Let us know, we’re here to help! Also, if you dress your pet up in an embarrassing costume, we want to see those photos!
*Need your red-eye removed or photo retouched before you send your card out to your customers? Or perhaps you want to holiday-ify your logo? Swiftly has a special offer for you. You can get 3 tasks for $30, so you pay only $10 for each task! (The discount will be applied to your order automatically.)
As part of our holiday blog series, we’ve just launched a Facebook contest where you can win 100 free holiday cards for your business! Our friends from Direct Mail Manager will provide 100 free, customized cards which they will mail for you AND they pay the postage. All you need to do is select one of their lovely holiday designs, choose your greeting and upload your logo. You can even send your mailing list over from your Batchbook account using their handy integration. They do the rest! Sounds great, right?
To enter, you just head over to our Facebook page and tell us something that’s really great about your business. Don’t be shy, we really want to know. The contest ends 12/3 and we’ll pick the winner on 12/4. Good luck!
I don’t know about you, by I am in Big Time Denial that Thanksgiving is next week. Which can only mean one thing: Small Business Saturday is next weekend. Yep, I know, it snuck up on me, too. If you’ve been too busy to plan your Shop Small strategy, take heart. It’s never too late. (Actually, it would be too late next Sunday, but you know what I mean.) Here are some tips to quickly get ready for the big day.
1. Get Started
Just put one foot in front of the other and head over to the Tools & Resources section of the Shop Small site. It’s pretty much one stop shopping over there. You can create a personalized marketing campaign and register your business so shoppers will know you’re participating. There are logos and templates and signage you can use. Join a neighborhood circle, so you can help promote other businesses in your area, and they can promote you. You can customize your Facebook tab while you’re there, as well. All for free! Even if this is all you have time to do, it’s a great way to let shoppers know where you are. But wait, there’s more…
2. Make It Special
Put together a quick list of the special promotions you’ll be running that day. A percent off of everything? A BOGO offer? A small free gift for everyone who comes by? Give it some thought so you’ll be ready to share with your customers ( see #’s 3 & 4).
3. Let Them Know
You’ve got your free, branded signage, right? Put some of those cuties up around town. Library, Post Office, grocery store, you get the idea. If you have an assistant (or a kid) you can make a list of places to distribute the signs and get it done in half the time.
Remember how we talked about email campaigns? This should go in your email newsletter. Make an Eventbrite listing or a Facebook event to share via email and ask your customers to invite their friends!
Put up that new Facebook graphic that you got form the Shop Small site. Invite your fans to your Facebook event and ask them to share. Wouldn’t hurt to give them a coupon or Super Special Deal, either. Send out some quick messages to any of the social networks you have a presence on.
5. Have a Party
It wouldn’t take much time to order up some refreshments from another local business, for shoppers who are coming by to Shop Small. Make your business as inviting and welcoming as possible with a festive decor and party atmosphere. Shoppers will appreciate the extra effort and remember you for it. A good experience will result in return visits and word of mouth referrals.
Have some fun!
The holidays are a wonderful time to connect with your customers and show them how much you appreciate them. Even though you will be really busy, try to enjoy it. These are the people who support your business, what could be better?
Participating in Small Business Saturday? Leave a comment and let us know. We want to hear all about it! If you’ve been procrastinating about other things, we’ve got the Procrastinator’s Guide to Holiday Promotions as well as a whole series on this very blog to help you out.
Following along with our series about holiday promotions? Today we’ll help you decide when to schedule the holiday emails we talked about last time.
Timing is Everything
We shared some statistics in our guide for the best days to send holiday offers. Think about when your customers will be reviewing their shopping lists and looking for offers or sales. Be sure your emails arrive before they’ve planned where to go and where to spend.
When to send?
While the perfect time to send will depend on the type of business you have, consider these suggestions:
- Thanksgiving Day – US customers who shop on Black Friday finalize their lists on Thanksgiving. If you have a Black Friday offer, get it in front of your customers in time to be considered.
- Cyber Monday – total sales reached $1.98 billion on Cyber Monday in 2012. Cyber Monday sales take place online, so if you offer ecommerce, be sure to participate in this important sale day. If you have a brick and mortar store, you may still be able to cash in on Cyber Monday with creative email promotions. Think about sending a coupon via email coupled with extended after work hours and snacks to entice shoppers to shop your holiday sale.
- Christmas Day – 57% of shoppers will be out shopping the day after Christmas. They are looking for sales, so be sure they know about yours before they head out.
While we wouldn’t suggest burying your customers in holiday emails, you’d also want to let them know if you are having an open house, extended shopping hours, or if you have new stock (especially if it’s a sought-after item).
How’s it going?
We know you’re busy at this time of year, but if you have a moment let us know how your holiday promotions are going. Need more ideas? Take a look the other posts in our Small Business Holiday series. There’s more to come!
This is part 2 in our series on holiday promotions for small business. Check out part one.
If you’ve been following along with our Procrastinator’s Guide to Holiday Promotions, then you know it’s time to get your holiday emails ready to go. (If you haven’t seen our guide yet, go take a quick peek.) Today we’ve got 5 tips for your holiday marketing emails.
1. Make a List and Check it Twice
Be sure to take some time to curate a healthy email list. You can divide you list based on your customers’ prior buying behavior, location or other factors. Send relevant special offers to each list, rather than just one generic ho-hum offer to everyone. Customers are more likely to click on an offer that is tailored to their interests or buying habits.
2. Entice Readers to Open Your Email
A carefully crafted subject line will get more people to open your newsletter. MailChimp has done a ton of research about subject lines, which can help you write yours. They suggest that you tell rather than sell and keep it short and descriptive. There is a Santa’s sack full of emails being sent during the holidays, so it’s worth taking some time improve the chances yours get opened.
3. Reach Customers On the Go
It’s a good idea to use a mobile friendly template when you’re creating your holiday emails. A recent study says that 61% of brand emails are opened on mobile devices. If customers aren’t able to easily read your email on their phone or tablet, they may just delete it. Most email service providers have mobile templates to choose from which will make it easy for you to get started.
4. Keep it Simple
Busy customers will appreciate receiving a short email with easy to understand offers. Spell it out for them, quickly. A long email with a lot of information will likely get saved to read later, or worse, deleted. Show your customers that you appreciate their time by keeping it short.
5. Have Fun!
If you can deliver your message with a sense of humor, all the better. People will be more likely to remember (or even forward) an email that brought a smile to their face. Consider including a fun photo or graphic along with some friendly text. This is a great place for that fun team photo, meme-type image, or a creative shot of your product. If you don’t have a graphic designer on staff, you can create your own pretty easily using tools like PicMonkey or Canva (Canva’s in Beta, but I have a couple of invites. Let me know if you’d like one!).
Tell Us About It!
Let us know if this post was helpful for you in the comments. If you have other holiday ideas or tips, we’d love to hear them. We’ve got a few email ideas over on our Pinterest board. Be sure to take a peek at the other posts in our Small Business Holiday series. Our next post in this series will talk about the best times to send those holiday emails (the answer may surprise you).
We published our Procrastinator’s Guide to Holiday Promotions last week to help small businesses schedule their promotions and… well… quit procrastinating! This post is part one in a series that will dive in to some of the tips from the guide’s holiday promotion timeline.
The first thing we have on our timeline is to write holiday blog posts. We know coming up with the idea for a blog post can be the hardest part, so we thought we’d help you get started with that.
1. Gifts Guide
Let your customers know what your company’s popular holiday gifts are. Give them a top ten list of cool gifts within a price range. If you can think of themes to use for putting together gift packages, you’ll make it easier for shoppers to find the perfect gift.Themeing gifts around the recipient can be very helpful for shoppers.
- Gifts for Teens
- Gifts for Moms
- Gifts for Teachers
You can probably come up with a bunch of ideas for themed gifts from your inventory. Extra points if you offer to take orders, wrap and ship the gifts for your customers so they can get busy doing other things.
I had the great pleasure of interviewing Gary Vaynerchuk, founder and CEO of VaynerMedia, author of NYT Bestselling book “Crush It!” and just all around famous web guy. He is an inspiration to anyone trying to figure out how to build a successful business and fulfilling life with equal abandon.
We recorded the interview, so you can hear Gary’s advice in his own words (and accent) below. I’ve condensed things up, but kept the best nuggets here.
Balance is My Religion
Pamela: First, I asked Gary a bit about how he manages so many impressive accomplishments; running a business, authoring several books and staying so involved with his family.
Gary: I have a great partner in crime. Balance is the religion I am most connected with. It is crazy to me that 2013 is the year I worked the most, but it is also the year I spent the most time with my family. I did it through extremes. I work hard & long during the week, but I get more from the weekend and vacation because I am all in when I am working.
Avoid Paralysis of Tools
Pamela: Gary is famous for his personal engagement. He answers all of his e-mails, tweets, vines, etc. I asked Gary what tools he uses to stay so engaged.
Gary: I make it a priority to engage with the end user. I am a farmer equally as I am a hunter. Massively important thing to me. I am less tool oriented. People over tool themselves. All you really need to eat your meal is a fork. It gets the job done. Paralysis of tools. People are crippled by tools. People want tools because they don’t want to do the work. It’s like bringing a cannon to a thumb wrestling match.