Customer service standards touch every business. People always notice bad service and the negative association that comes along with it. On the flip side, people also always remember the feeling of a great service experience. When it comes down to it, people like to feel that they have made good purchasing decisions choices and their service experience is directly related to that validation.
This is exactly why super customer service needs to be a priority in any marketing plan. Good service is a sure-fire way to have happy customers, support word of mouth buzz, generate referrals and…. have invoices paid in full and promptly. Money isn’t an easy topic for people to discuss, but it is part of the overall success formula. A few thoughts on how to make invoices a part of your customer-friendly plan:
- Ask clients what they need to make payment easy. Have a billing conversation with your clients early on in the relationship. Make sure you understand what is important to them for reviewing and processing invoices.
- Be concise and consistent. Now that you know what clients want to see on the invoices, provide it in a concise manner. Don’t be over-inclusive, but also don’t make them chase down clarifying information. If they need to do more work on their end, you are ultimately creating a bad service experience and holding up payment processes.
- Take time to invoice properly. Make sure your invoices reflect detail regarding the services you performed. Don’t just throw a number on a bill and send it along.
- Make it personable. Include a brief cover letter or email with your invoices so that you may acknowledge the importance of your relationship.
- Please and thank you. You earned the work from your clients, so make sure they know you appreciate the trust they have put in you. In your cover letter, politely ask them to please process the invoice for payment. Perhaps more importantly, make sure you include a brief thank you that let’s them know you value their relationship.
A quick review of your invoicing process offers you an easy way to make sure you meet service expectations from start to finish. Think about how you like your business interactions as a consumer and use that information to your advantage. Good service experience always translate into happier clients who are more prompt with their payments.
The past 6 weeks of winter have certainly been a difficult test for New Englanders. Basic things we were once able to do every day have now become quite difficult– two lane roads are now one lane, public transportation doesn’t run a typical schedule, ice damns are causing indoor floods and towering snow banks are causing blind spots that could unnerve an Indy driver. All of this can certainly get you down.
But we can’t let it! According to the calendar, spring is only 16 days away and I see the signs despite the white landscape. The morning birds are singing, the trees are starting to get a reddish glow and the days are getting longer. We have no better choice but to power through and let nature take its course.
Sometime business development can feel like a long, hard winter that will never end. Even the best planned efforts can get side-railed by other distractions and difficulties. New business sometimes feels like it is buried under layers of competitors and reaching it seems impossible. What to do?
STOP. Yes. Stop the downward spiral! Don’t get discouraged. Listen for the signs that people send when they trust and like you. Faithfully work at developing your relationships every day. Business will bloom if you persistently build meaningful relationships over time and ask for the work. Specifically, understand and prioritize your target audience, be yourself, offer help and build visibility. You will see the rewards if you consistently get out and make the effort to uncover new work. Don’t give in to the excuses that cover your pathway– shovel them aside and keep moving forward. Afterall, spring keeps coming back no matter what old man winter throws at us! I promise you that.
As the Boston area continues to get pummeled with snow storm after snow storm this winter, people are finding themselves home a lot more than usual. This may seem like the perfect opportunity to hunker down and get things done. But are you struggling to focus? Somehow, Boston has been brought to a grinding stop while the rest of the nation continues along their path. But be careful… your commitments, deadlines and every day work isn’t going away. It is quietly piling as high as the mountainous snowbanks we see around town. Need some words of advice to keep you in the right direction so that you don’t find yourself standing behind a huge mess come spring? Here are some suggestions for this snowy winter:
- It is far easier to market your services in small steps. Think about it…when you are faced with 18 inches of snow, it is daunting to shovel out the driveway in one outing. Much the same with marketing. If you try to do all your marketing all at once, you will exhaust yourself before too long and risk giving up. Break up your large marketing tasks into smaller, more manageable activities and spread them out over regular intervals.
- Use leverage. When lifting anything (lots of snow definitely qualifies), it’s important to lift with your knees and support the vulnerable areas of your back. When marketing your services, it is effective to leverage lots of different tools that gain you visibility.
- Layer Up. During cold weather, it’s best to dress in layers. That way, you can shed layers as you warm up and get comfortable. The same concept applies to marketing your services. Use content across multiple layers of platforms (email, Twitter, Linked In, Facebook, etc…) to reach your targets.
- Use quality tools. You would never try to shovel snow with a teaspoon. You need an appropriate tool for the job. Plan marketing approaches that take advantage of appropriate, available resources. This doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money, it just means you need the right tool for the right job.
- Outsource efficiently. If you can’t shovel, you can choose to hire someone to do the job for you. Perhaps you have the resources to hire someone with a snowplow or snowblower. Marketing your services can sometimes feel like a lonely road, but it needn’t be. It does take personal dedication, time and experience to accomplish your goals. The option to outsource components of your marketing plan is very helpful, but outsource appropriately…no one can replace your personal effort to build relationships.
So now what? Take advantage of travel bans and blizzards to connect with people and further your relationships from the safe comfort of your home. We can all relate to one an other in times such as these. It doesn’t take a huge effort– but it does take a concerted one. Don’t give in to the many lazy snow days. Take 15 minutes to connect with someone today via email, phone or social media. Besides, it beats shoveling!