Customer Service

How to Entertain Clients Without Breaking the Bank

by National Peo National Peo No Comments

 

Once upon a time, it was common for companies to splurge on lavish entertainment to wine and dine their clients. Today’s tougher economic realities mean that many businesses can’t afford to splurge on client entertainment — and clients often don’t want them to. When you spend a lot of money on lavish gifts and entertainment for your clients — or even when you just seem like you have – you risk sending the wrong message. 

When you spend money on your clients, they’ll assume that they’re paying for it in the form of higher prices for your products or services. Your employees could get upset if extravagant client treatment isn’t matched with raises and bonuses for them. After all, if the company is doing well enough to lavish posh gifts on the clients, it should be doing well enough to reward the employees too. However, you do want to keep your clients engaged and show them you care. The good news is that you don’t have to spend a fortune entertaining your clients well.

Host a Dinner at Your Home

You don’t have to be a French-trained chef in order to host a nice dinner for your clients in your home. If you can’t or don’t want to cook, hire a professional to cook the evening’s meal in your kitchen — a hired cook can even provide the ingredients. Consider bringing a wine expert to recommend the right pairings for your meal and even give a talk on wines.

Exercise Together

Are you good at a sport your client would like to learn? Offer to give him or her some lessons. Alternatively, you could invite your client on a hiking trip or a bike ride. Use your discretion; this is really only a good option for physically active clients. It’s always a good idea to make sure there’s a cafe or coffee shop nearby, in case your client would like to stop for a break.

Use the Same Restaurant Every Time You Entertain

If you do a great deal of client entertaining, choose a restaurant you like and use it every time. This way, you’ll develop strong relationships with the restaurant staff, allowing you more control in the setting. When making arrangements for a meal with the client, it’s always best to work directly with the manager. Don’t make any reservations, event arrangements or table selections with the receptionist. Always speak directly with the manager about the details of your event — this is another reason having a relationship with a particular restaurant is a good idea.

If you have a relationship with a specific restaurant that you always use for client entertaining, you’ll be able to request the servers you like best. Make your arrangements a few days in advance, and call the day before to confirm and order any specialty items your client might want. Having a relationship with a specific restaurant will also make it easier to do things like order off the menu, arrange for more private seating or arrange to have an appetizer waiting at your table when you arrive. Make sure you tip the staff generously. Get to know the owner of the restaurant and don’t be afraid to take the opportunity to introduce your client to him or her.

Take Advantage of Social Media

Social media is an especially cost-effective way to market your business while entertaining clients. Younger clients will appreciate your social media-savvy if you use platforms like MeetUp to organize client entertainment events. Whenever you host group get-togethers, don’t be afraid to encourage your attendees to tweet about the proceedings in real time, using a relevant hashtag. Twitter is an excellent platform for spreading awareness of your corporate events.

Have Snacks Delivered

Save money on client dinners out by skipping the dinners out and simply having snacks delivered to your client’s home or office instead. Send a lunchtime pizza, a box of doughnuts or, during the warmer weather, an ice cream vendor. A box of chocolates, a fruit basket or selections of gourmet coffees are some other great ideas that should fit into any budget.

Organize a Tour

Group tours are an affordable way to get to know your clients and show them your appreciation. Organize a tour of an interesting local attraction, such as a local brewery or historic site. Let your clients’ interests be your guide. Arrange for your clients to receive souvenirs of their trip.

Entertaining your clients does not have to cost an arm and a leg, and in fact, your clients will be more inclined to stick around if it does not — they’ll feel more confident that they’re not being overcharged if you’re not spending a lot of money to shower them with lavish gifts. Think about your clients’ likes, dislikes and interests, and offer entertainment options they will enjoy.

Customer Service Tips to Keep Them Coming Back for More

by National Peo National Peo No Comments

 

No matter what business you’re in or what kind of contact you and your employees have with your customers — whether it’s face-to-face, over the phone, in an office setting or in a retail environment — good customer service skills are essential. Excellent customer service keeps your customers happy and satisfied, and a satisfied customer is a customer who is more likely to bring repeat business. Not only that, but satisfied customers tend to tell their friends and family about the good experiences they’ve had with your business. That kind of word-of-mouth advertising could make all the difference for your success.

Be Cheerful

They say that 93 percent of communication is nonverbal, so when it comes to your customer interactions, your body language and general demeanor are invaluable parts of the customer service you provide. Whether you’re speaking with the customer in person or on the phone, smile. Even if your customer can’t see you, he or she will still notice the difference in your tone of voice if you’re happy, enthusiastic and smiling.

When you interact with the customer in person, make eye contact, relax and wear an easy, natural smile. Maintaining a cheerful demeanor will make you seem approachable and friendly, will set your customer at ease, make him or her feel welcome and set a positive tone for the entire exchange.

Begin each customer interaction with a welcoming greeting. A simple “Good morning,” or “Hello, and welcome to…” followed up with a “What can I do for you today?” is enough to make your customer feel welcomed and communicate that you’re ready and willing to help. Be polite, and let the interaction unfold naturally. While you may want to eventually direct the conversation around to the product or service you’re offering, you don’t want to turn the customer off by being too pushy.

Honor Special Requests

When a customer wants something special, try to go out of your way to give it to him or her. You don’t have to make a whole new policy, just make one exception to help that customer feel valued. That customer will remember that you cared enough to make an exception for him or her when he or she asked. In the future, you’ll enjoy that customer’s loyalty and praise.

Set the Example for Your Employees

Your employees will take their customer service cues from you, the manager. Treat your employees the way you want them to treat your customers. Greet them politely and enthusiastically every day, and make them feel welcome. Be cheerful with them, as you would like them to be cheerful with your customers. Listen to them when they talk, and try to accommodate their requests and meet their needs. When you interact with your customers, model the customer service you would like to see from your employees.

Identify Yourself

Giving your customers the opportunity to learn your name is just as crucial to forming a lasting relationship as learning theirs. Make yourself visible as the manager — put your title on your name tag, and put the titles of your employees on their name tags. Remain accessible to your customers. In many businesses, the manager’s office is accessible to the public, so customers who wish to speak to the person in charge can easily do so.

Call Your Customers by Name

Calling your customers by name makes them feel important, and everyone wants to feel important. Learn your customers’ names and use them. Learn your customers’ names by looking at their credit cards, putting out a sign-in sheet or asking them to sign up for a mailing list. If all else fails simply ask their names when you introduce yourself.

Express Your Gratitude

Small gestures of gratitude let your customers know that you appreciate what they do for you and your business. In the digital age, a handwritten note delivered through the postal system or included in the customer’s package can go a long way toward showing your appreciation. Send your customers birthday and holiday cards; write congratulatory cards or notes for your customers when appropriate. Show your appreciation for your customers with small perks and benefits.

Solicit Feedback

Don’t be afraid to ask your customers what they think of your business and your customer service. Solicit customer feedback via a postage-paid “How Are We Doing?” card left near the register, near the exit or included in your customer’s package or statement. Keep the form short and sweet. Ask them to specify what they like, what they don’t like, how you can improve your customer service and what they would change about your business, product or service. Leave space for the customer to describe his or her most recent experience with your company.

When it comes to the overall profitability of your business, the money isn’t in attracting customers — it’s in keeping customers. The extent to which our customers are loyal to your business will depend on the quality of customer service you can offer them. The better your customer service, the more repeat business — and new business — you can expect to see.