Peripheral Visions

a blog from SuppliesGuys™ -- Good Guys. Great Buys.

Posts Tagged ‘Customer Service’

Great Customer Service Matters for Small Business and Big Business Alike

At The Supplies Guys we take great care and pride in our customer service, yet there are times when we are reminded by customers of just how important this really is. This week we received an email from a customer who not only appreciates great customer service, but as a small business owner fully understands how treating customers like gold is not just a good business practice, it is the only way to do business. He also provided us with some very inspirational insight that I think our readers will appreciate. So here is the email in full, unedited. Enjoy!

—– Email Insert —–
Hi Melissa!

 I got to thinking about the experience I’ve had with Supplies Guys so far, and wanted to pass along this commendation for your excellent customer service. My dad often said that small businesses were the backbone of America.  Today I hear more and more how in-debt governments (like ours) decide to go further into debt to give billions in bail-outs to big corporations, while taxing the small businesses –the middle class– more and more.  The signs of the times really bring Dad’s words to mind, and I often shake my head in realization of how vital small businesses are to our economy, our country, and -even though it may sound like a stretch- the blessed freedoms we have in the USA.

The ability to borrow your dad’s lawnmower and start a business mowing the neighbors’ yards…  the freedom to build a chicken coop with your own hands and your own sweat and sell eggs to the neighborhood  –and know that you succeed or fail because of how you do business…  that’s the gritty reality that keeps American industry strong, and forces small businesses to actually serve their customers instead of putting such low value on customers that they outsource customer service to India and confuse customers with endless automated voice systems.

Which is why I’m writing this review.  From my long-distance experience with SuppliesGuys, you guys (gals) have a strong business backbone.  You actually have real customer service for their business, and that shows that you value us as customers.  Your professional website may look like you’re a big corporation, but after talking with customer service a few times, it’s clear that regardless of your size, you’ve got small-business customer service at heart. So, you get my praise for your customer service, and in my book, you’re not a big corporation; you’re just a really successful small business.  :-D

I hope God blesses American men and women with the gumption to start more small businesses, and do their work with honesty, integrity and respect for customers.  That’s what makes good customer service. Thanks for watching out for your customers.  It may not seem so at times, but if you watch out for us, we’ll keep coming back. God bless.

Sincerely,
John Dehnart
CrossTimber (yep, a small business.)
—– End Email —–

CrossTimber has served its community and out-of-state customers with business printing since 1994, and is now offering website design services. John and his wife, Katie operate their printing company from their home in Ohio, and use SuppliesGuys toner to make personalized bookmarks, name plaques and name meaning coffee mugs!  SuppliesGuys toners paint the vibrant color designs that are unique to CrossTimber’s name meaning gifts.  Order a bookmark at  www.meaning.name and you’ll see why CrossTimber chooses SuppliesGuys compatible toners for crisp vibrant personalized gifts.

Categories: Business Tips

Responding To Customer Criticism

How does your company react when it receives harsh criticism from a customer or client? Do your business leaders experience Kübler-Ross’ 5 stages of grief or do they proactively seek for a fast resolution to the criticism. Responding to negativity can be very difficult for some business leaders, however learning how (and how quickly) to respond separates the strong from the weak, the best from the rest.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross identified the process for how people tend to deal with unpleasant events such as a death or catastrophic loss, which ultimately became known as the 5 stages of grief. Denial is the first step, followed by anger, bargaining, depression, ending with the acceptance. While this process might be acceptable for someone grieving for the loss of a loved one, it isn’t as acceptable for a company under scrutiny by the media, investors or worst, its customers. Successful companies accept criticism sooner and find solutions faster than companies who are steadfast in their ways, or are slow to respond. This is obviously counter-intuitive by nature and is a trait that isn’t easily obtained. However, business leaders who are able to avoid sitting in the anger or denial stage tend to heal quicker.

Case in point Kevin Rose, founder of Digg.com a social news sharing community. Digg.com recently released a new version of their site which drew heavy criticism from its users. In the new release there were several significant functional changes on top of overall design modifications. Essentially the new version was supposed to make it easier to find the news stories that were most relevant to each user by analyzing their browsing history and by having users identify their interests. The problem was that the current users were more than upset with the changes, and they let the world know. How did Rose respond?

He addressed their concerns and criticism on his podcast Diggnation released earlier today.  He stated his case, explained why they made the changes they did and said what he was going to do to address their concerns. Internally Rose may have internalized the 5 stages of grief (we’ll never really know) however his actions showed that he accepted their criticism and was ready to find a solution. Other sites interpreted his response as “take it or leave it” but I thought Rose did what he needed to do (now we sit and wait to see if Digg makes the changes that Rose promised).

I think its important to listen to your customers and strive to make them happy. Bend over backwards if need be. Listen to their feedback and criticism, take the bad with the good. At the end of the day the customers are in fact your business. There are hundreds of alternatives in this environment, the days of treating your customers like just another order number are over.

Categories: Business Tips

3 Ways Your Company Can Communicate Better

Just about every company uses traditional communication methods like a telephone to facilitate communication with customers and suppliers, but do you realize that by using the Internet you can enhance your business communication? The Internet allows a company to take their communication to the next level, for a surprisingly affordable price. Saving money while obtaining advanced features is a win-win situation for even the smallest of companies.

There are Internet-based communication technologies that give a modern twist to traditional communication methods, and technologies that allow you to communicate in ways once accessible to only the largest of corporations with huge IT budgets. Fortunately, today the Internet allows any sized business to take advantage of the latest communication technologies without having to spend a bundle. Three such technologies are as follows:

1. Virtual Phone Services – A virtual phone service uses the Internet to facilitate voice communication. Also known as VOIP (voice over Internet protocol), a virtual phone service comes in two flavors – the full small business phone system and the add on service – both using your existing high-speed Internet connection.

A full virtual phone system includes everything you need to have a multi-extension office phone system, without needing to pay for traditional copper wire service. You just plug your Internet enabled phone handsets into your existing office Internet network and you get a fully configurable phone system that uses the service provider’s computer servers, eliminating the need for your company to invest in expensive hardware. You have full control over inbound call routing and other advanced features once available to only Fortune 500 companies.

An add on virtual phone solution uses your existing landlines and cell phones, but adds the same advanced features of a full virtual office phone system. You are assigned a toll-free or local phone number that becomes your main business number and you have a virtual auto attendant that routes calls to the appropriate existing phone line. You also have full control over call routing, and can quickly update how calls are routed. This means that you can have inbound calls routed to your cell phone, your home phone, or any working phone line anywhere in the world, thus allowing you to always be available to take calls, no matter where you happen to be.

Most virtual phone services come with a standard feature set, including complete voice mail service for each extension/phone line, call forwarding capability, call logs, and much more.

2. Online Fax Services – Despite the fact that faxing has been around for a long time, many businesses still rely on it as a primary means of communication. For many reasons, there are industries that are unable, or refuse, to use email to replace faxing, which means that there is still a business need to have faxing capability.

By using an affordable online fax service, you can save a great deal of money versus using a traditional fax machine, while having the features a fax machine is typically unable to provide. An online fax service uses your existing computer and Internet connection to send and receive faxes. You don’t need to pay money every month to the phone company for a dedicated fax line, and you can say goodbye to buying toner cartridges for that ugly fax machine you have stashed in the corner.

Online faxing is easy to use. If you can compose an email, or create a word processing document, you can fax online. With the ability to receive inbound faxes in your email inbox, you can literally receive faxes anywhere in the world. It also allows  secure access to an online fax account that lets you compose, view and manage your faxes with ease, making faxing online a simple process.

3. Web Conferencing – Web conferencing, also known as online meetings, enables you to meet over the Internet with customers and coworkers, reducing the need for business travel. Imagine being able to meet online from the comforts of your desk, without having to spend days traveling across the country, or world.

There are web conferencing solutions that range from just being able to talk over the Internet, to solutions where the meeting organizer shares their computer desktop to give a presentation, to a full video conferencing solution where you not only can hear those you are meeting with, but you can also see them. Depending on your business needs, there is a web conferencing solution to let you take your meetings online and significantly reduce overhead.

The Internet allows you to meet with someone at a remote location without ever needing to leave your office, while giving you the level of personal interaction that you desire. An online meeting may never be able to replace all face-to-face meetings, but for many situations, the ability to meet online can save you a great deal of time and money.

Give Internet-Based Communication a Try

Most leading providers of the three Internet-based communication technologies mentioned above allow you to try their services for free, generally for a 30-day period. This allows you to see for yourself how the Internet can help you take your business communication to the next level, without committing to anything until you are convinced of its usefulness.

These online business services can save your company money while giving you access to technology that not that long ago was out of reach for all but the largest corporations. If your company communicates via the telephone, uses a fax machine, or travels to hold business meetings, then you should harness technology to give your business a competitive advantage.

About the Author:

This guest post was written by Business Service Reviews, which is a website that features product and business service reviews that help business owners make use of technology to start and run an efficient operation.

Categories: Business Tips

Is Customer Service Important to Your Small Business?

Does your small business have the best customer service EVER?

That may be a tough assessment. But as long as your customer service is an important focus of your business, it’s likely that you’re headed in the right direction. I say “right direction” because here at The Supplies Guys, customer service is a huge part of our company.

Here’s an inside look at some of the things we do to be sure our customer service is up to par. First of all, we employ a full staff of PEOPLE. Many companies don’t have real people answering their phones!

Anyway, all of these “people” are thoroughly trained to understand the element of professionalism we want to exert to our customers. We also provide them with sufficient product information, so they have the resources to address situations as they come in. Weekly meetings are held on Monday mornings to start the week off with positive reinforcement and important updates. These meetings assure the team knows what to expect for the week ahead – company goals as well as personal goals.

Secondly, we stand behind our product. The Supplies Guys offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee and we strictly enforce that through our customer service team. If a customer is not satisfied, our team knows how to bend over backwards to make sure we don’t lose them. After every purchase, we implement BizRate to offer an optional survey to our customers to help us know where improvement is needed.

As a result of these efforts in customer service, BizRate awarded us with a Circle of Excellence award for the year of 2009. The Circle of Excellence “recognizes the top performing online retailers that provided outstanding customer experiences throughout the year, as rated by their customers.” While over 5,000 companies work with BizRate as we do, only 167 of them were given this Circle of Excellence. The Supplies Guys is proud to be one of them! To learn more about how companies are chosen for this award – head over to BizRate’s blog.

What are your thoughts on customer service? We’d love to hear them in the comments!

Categories: Business Tips

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