Making Your Mobile Loyalty Program Work, Part Two: How to Build Rapport with Your Customers

Now that you’ve hired a strong team to support your business, a powerful connection with your customers is next.  In a recent survey featured by Loyalty360, 32 percent of loyalty marketing respondents said they are in development with their “customer astonishment” strategy and an equal number noted that it’s “on their radar screen” to develop one. Nearly 60 percent felt that the most useful strategy for astonishing customers included recognition and personalization.

Being personal in your greetings and conversations with customers, both new and the old faithfuls, is essential. It’s important to remember that you should not only be friendly with your customers when they are happy with your product. Engagement is vital when you have an unhappy customer; you must be genuine, listening, and acknowledging.

Mike McDonnel, Vice President of Product Management and Client Solutions with Affinion Loyalty Group, said, “There can be a significant increase in a company’s bottom line, as customers are regularly willing to pay a premium for a superior customer experience.”  When you are cordial and accommodating as a business owner along with your staff, long-lasting, loyal relationships are yours for the taking.

If you communicate frequently overseas you can receive international calls by benefiting from call forwarding services and international calling services. Receive international calls on your own toll free phone number and build relationships with your loyal international customers.

The combination of building a relationship with your customers while enacting the Sundrop Mobile Loyalty program will help your business grow and prosper.  In part three of our blog series, we’ll be chatting about how you can call your new customers to action by asking for their mobile numbers.

Here are our three take-away tips:

  1. Be personal when greeting and chatting with customers both new and loyal. There’s a reason why when you walk into a Moe’s location the staff shouts, “Welcome to Moe’s!”
  2. Be engaging and accommodating when you have an unhappy customer. How you treat the situation can help a customer forget about his/her unpleasant experience and keep him/her coming back. In 2009, one man’s complaint to Starbucks corporate resulted in a happy ending for both Starbucks and the upset patron. Read more here: http://consumerist.com/2009/04/unexpected-starbucks-apology-overflows-your-rewards-card-with-delicious-credits.html
  3. Stay proactive. A genuine relationship that includes anticipating needs between yourself/a staff member with a customer can create a lasting loyal relationship for your business when combined with our loyalty program. The kind folks at Smackers Yogurt were able to gather 10,000 new customers in less than 90 days at a single Smackers location due to their friendships with customers and Sundrop Mobile Loyalty program.

What methods do you use to build rapport with your customers?

Making Your Mobile Loyalty Program Work, Part One: Hiring the Right Employee

In networking, there’s a saying that “you are only as good as your last mile.” In other words, you can create the greatest application, website, or program in the world, but if a user’s internet connection dies, your great idea is like a tree falling in a forest. Who’s around to hear it?

This situation is true for data networking and personal networking. A handshake, a greeting, or even a good-bye can harm or help a fruitful relationship. Here, we tell clients constantly that a loyalty program is only as strong as the last mile. Ultimately, your employees can make or break your loyalty program.

A future post will talk about what makes a powerful connection with a customer, but we believe success starts at the hiring process. Chances are your small business relies on part-time, entry-level employees (often teenagers) to help service customers.

Here are a few tips to look for to help you get the right employee that can make a connection with your customers:

  1. A good handshake. This typically means someone has taken the time to talk to your potential employee about the importance of a good, strong first impression. One can assume someone also passed along additional business-related wisdom that will be of use to you.
  2. Eye contact in the interview. If he/she cannot look you in the eye to get money (their paycheck), you cannot expect them to look a customer in the eye to ask for a phone number.
  3. A good conversationalist. If he/she is chatty and engaging, then he/she can be trained to converse with customers in a professional and friendly manner inspiring a lasting impression that could potentially lead to brand loyalty.
  4. Respect. “Yes ma’ams” and “no sirs” go a long way with many adults who will be handing over their phone number to your business. If these phrases are used in an interview, they will probably be said to the customer as well.

Of course there are many more characteristics of an employee to look for, but we feel those listed above are essential building blocks.

Do you have any traits you look for?

Freelancers in the Mobile Workforce

freelancers_w640

Freelancers are independent contractors providing specific work to clients and make up a large part of the mobile workforce. In the past, freelancers were primarily creative professionals who performed work for a variety of companies, however, the freelance professional has opened up to a wide variety of skills from app development to law.

The mobile workforce is a growing division of work where employees and freelancers are operating virtually from anywhere and everywhere. In fact, according to a recent eVoice study, 71 percent of small businesses have become more mobile in the past two years.

Technological advances and cloud computing have now made it possible for a wider range of professions and industries, from accounting to web design, to offer location-independent services for mobile workers. According to a new infographic from the International Freelancers Association, the majority (71 percent) of freelancers are women, and nearly half (47 percent) are the primary wage earners in their household. An impressive 40 percent delegate or outsource work to others.

Technology has not only impacted the types of professionals that freelance, but the way these mobile professionals operate. Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets level the playing field enabling freelancers to compete with larger counterparts by providing the ability to operate from anywhere and everywhere. Cloud services such as auto attendant and call routing also make an impact by presenting a credible image that makes companies comfortable hiring freelance workers.

Are you a freelancer? Share your tips for presenting a professional image in the comments section below.

How To Find A Great Call Forwarding Service

phone-305741_640

phone-305741_640

Why subscribe to a call forwarding service? Because they can do wonders for your company’s day to day operations. Imagine – you don’t have to stick around the office waiting for calls; they come to you. You can have call waiting, call blocking, unlimited voice mail options and lots of other goodies all in one easy package. Lots of companies find that after they hire a call forwarding service, business is never the same.

There are lots of services out there, so let’s look at a few things to consider when hiring a good company to take care of your phone answering and routing needs.

Do They Have What You Need?

The first consideration is whether they offer the services you need. Most companies offer simple services like forwarding to personal phones, call waiting and voice mail. But if you’d like something a little more complex like PBX systems or something to integrate with your VOIP software, make sure you choose a company that offers these.

In fact, a good way to select companies is to look at a look at a few of their websites and see what features they offer. You can “shop” for features and pick a company that offers the ones that you like. This is also a great way to learn about what a call forwarding service can do for you.

Flexibility And Storage Capacity

When you’re looking at features, decide exactly what you need and see if the call forwarding company has the capacity to handle it. For example, decide how many voice mail boxes you need and see how much memory they offer. Most companies can provide you with virtually endless memory for messages. Things like how many incoming calls they can handle at once and how many phones they can route to are other considerations.

Price Matters

Of course price is an important consideration. Most services offer monthly and yearly plans that include various features. If you’re confused by their pricing (and lots of people are!), you can always get a quote from them instead. Tell them what you want as far as features, and they’ll give you an idea of how much you can expect to pay. Many companies offer quotes online, or you can call them.

Customer Service Is Key

Because this is a company you’re going to be trusting with an important aspect of your daily business, you should make sure that they’re easy to deal with. Customer service is very important because if there’s a problem or you want to make changes with your service, you’ll need a quick and professional response.

Contact the service to see if they’re friendly and professional. They should be quick in their replies to your emails and easy to reach by phone. Asking them for a quote is a good way to see how well they provide information to you.

Hiring the right remote call forwarding service can be the step that boosts your company from small-time to big-time. Spend some time shopping around and find a good service that meets your needs. The nice thing is that if you’re not happy with one company, you can always switch to another. Try one out and see how it suits you.

The Human Connection

shutterstock_51534973_w640

Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success.”

Paul J. Meyer, late author of the best selling book, Chicken Soup for the Golden Soul

shutterstock_51534973_w640Mr. Meyer is right; communication is the key to having a successful business. An important factor of communication is staying connected with customers. Staying connected will make customers feel important to the company and cared for by them. Customers then may recommend the business product or service to friends and family because of the service they have received.

The most important way businesses can stay connected is by being available when someone calls businesses. A virtual phone number routes calls made to a businesses toll-free phone number or local phone number straight to any home, office, or cell phone – anywhere businesses want. If a call cannot be answered, transcriptions of voicemails are sent via email where they can be responded to by replying to the email.

Another way to stay in touch with customers is through email newsletters. By using an email marketing service, businesses can create custom emails or use email templates to send out emails with special offers, updates or other news to customers. In addition, businesses can track open rates, click through rates, and other statistics of an email marketing campaign. With social sharing features, subscribers can share emails with their network on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Google+, extending the reach of marketing emails. Businesses will also be able to track how many times an email has been shared. It’s important to remember to comply with regulations such as CAN-SPAM.

Being available when a customer faxes important business documents is also key to staying connected. With an online fax service, a customer can send a fax straight to a computer or smart phone with ease. Businesses can digitally sign important documents straight from their smart phone without having to perform the time-consuming task of printing, signing, scanning and then faxing back. Online faxing is not only important to stay in touch with customers but also suppliers and manufacturers who businesses rely on to always have a stocked inventory.

It’s important to remember to stay connected to your business network of customers, manufacturers, employees and anyone else your business comes in contact with.

5 Reasons Conference Calling Makes Sense for a Small Business

conf_calling_w640

conf_calling_w640Your website is down. You are uptown. Your webmaster is downtown. And your hosting service provider is out of state. The three of you need to talk. A quick meeting is not only physically impossible — given the urgency of the situation — it’s not even practical. What do you do?

First of all … Don’t panic! Simply set up a conference call with your webmaster and hosting service provider representative to troubleshoot the problem.

In today’s fast-paced, fragmented small business environment, conference calliing can be both a life- and time-saver.

Your voice service provider may already offer conference calling — many do. However, not all offer it as a standard feature. Check your provider’s plan. If you’re paying extra for conference calling, you may want to consider a service — such as Global Call Forwarding — that doesn’t charge extra for this feature.

There are lots of reasons why utilizing conference calling for your business makes sense.

Here, in no certain order, are 5 benefits conference calling brings a small business:

  • Conduct a meeting with key stakeholders involved in a complex proposal
  • Hold a regularly scheduled status update meeting with your team
  • Present the audio portion of a web share proposal
  • Supports “going green” by eliminating commutes to meetings
  • Enables you to work “smarter,” not harder by eliminating unnecessary meetings

Using 1 800 Toll Free Numbers for Conference Calls

Global Call Forwarding offers conference calling to both both local and toll free numbers. Some companies charge additional fees for a 1 800 toll free number (Global Call Forwarding doesn’t)  International callers can access a conference call by dialing the local area code access number. Additonally, Global Call Forwarding provides a conference access code for each of user on the account, allowing the ability for multiple conference calls to be held at the same time.

1 800 call conferencing usage deducts from your monthly included minutes and additional minutes are billed at the additional minute rate according to your pricing plan.  Global Call Forwarding allows you to upgrade and downgrade your pricing plan at anytime, so if you find you have used more minutes than anticipated for a month, you can simply upgrade your plan instead of paying for the overages!

Our Challenge Is Anticipating What the Customer Wants

5097547405_410ea2e734_o

I recently read an interesting article from Rod Kurtz on Huffington Post titled What Is The Biggest Challenge Facing Small Businesses Right Now? After reading the article it inspired me to reach out to our own customers for comments. In doing so, I realized that one of our key challenges is anticipating what changes or enhancements customers want most from our virtual phone number service. We know that many customers use our toll free numbers, voicemail, and call forwarding services as part of their businesses – but anticipating what they want next can be difficult.

To address this problem, we are trying to communicate more openly with customers through a variety of channels. This blog is one place where you can add comments to any of our posts or participate in discussions on a variety of topics.

Most recently many sites like have implemented a new Feedback Forum accessible from every page of our website and we’ll continue to ask customers to participate in surveys so that we can gather important feedback that influences our desicion making process. If you haven’t completed our new customer survey, please do so.

What are the biggest challenges facing your business right now? Please leave a comment below, or contact us via one of the above mentioned channels and we promise to respond.

What Is a Virtual Phone Number, and What Are The Benefits?

5097547405_410ea2e734_o

Calling All Small Business Owners, Wherever You Are…

Telephones have come a long way since the days of Alexander Graham Bell. Land lines are still around but mobile phones have become the preferred means of voice communication for a significant portion of the world’s population. With the explosion in the growth of small businesses (a 2008 U.S. Government report shows almost 6-million small businesses, employing over 120-million people), mobile professionals are not only relying on mobile and new technologies to stay in touch with the many facets of their lives, they’re faced with the need of juggling multiple tasks, and multiple roles … consider the “mompreneur,” for example.

It goes without saying that mobile professionals today have to cover a lot of bases while on the go. The advent of cell phones, combined with advances in computer technologies and Internet based communications, have made virtual phone numbers a vital component of staying in touch with your business, no matter where you are.

So, what is a virtual phone number? Basically, it’s a phone number (local or toll-free) that enables you to receive calls at whatever phone you designate — home, cell, home office, remote job site, etc. The phones can ring simultaneously, or in sequence — you choose.

A virtual phone number has many benefits for small business professionals. Here are just a few.

  • Project a professional image – First impressions are vitally important for any relationship and even more so for business. Instead of receiving a generic sounding message, a busy signal, or having their call go unanswered, calls to a virtual phone number will either be answered “live,” or by a “virtual receptionist” with a professionally recorded greeting. The caller will feel as if they are calling a large company, or at least one that is competent, reliable and highly organized.
  • Work from any location – A virtual phone number enables you to receive important business calls wherever you are, at home, at the store, at the gym, etc. If you miss the call, no problem — your virtual phone number will take a message for you, then transcribe and send that message to you as a text message. Ever thought about reading your voicemail? With a virtual phone number, you can!
  • Expansion – With virtual numbers, a business in Cleveland can easily set up virtual offices in Atlanta, Phoenix, Chicago, and New York without ever needing to travel to those cities. A virtual phone number allows you to set up a “virtual” office in another city, and makes callers feel as if they are dealing with a local business.

There are many more benefits to using a virtual phone number. To experience a virtual phone number for your business, try a free, six month trial.