We are innately social creatures, hardwired to seek each other out and profoundly shaped by our relationships and alliances.
Our ability to empathise, relate to one another and communicate our thoughts and ideas is what sets us apart and makes us uniquely human. We naturally seek deeper associations with people as a way of identifying and better understanding others and ourselves. But the truth is, it’s not always easy to make those connections.
The bonds we create are key to building our businesses and creating full and happy lives. However, in a busy world full of distractions it can be hard to build friendships, especially when we have limited time.
Here are 10 ways you can begin to build deeper connections with anyone you meet.
When someone is talking to you, it’s important that you really focus on what they’re saying and pay attention to the details they give.
You can learn so much about someone just by really listening to them and noticing both their verbal and nonverbal communication.
Checking your phone or scanning the room to see who to talk to next is rude and dismissive and shows that you don’t really care about what the other person is saying. Make eye contact. Ask questions. Focus on getting to know the other person, even if you only have limited time to talk.
2Make a good first impression
Body language is intimately tied to how others perceive you and their first impressions of you. How you hold yourself, your posture and your facial expressions are cues others will look at to appraise what type of person you are and whether you are approachable and likable.
Be aware of your expressions, tone of voice and gestures.
Do you make eye contact throughout a conversation, indicating interest? Or do you keep your arms folded in front of you, forming a barrier? Remember that nonverbal communication is just as important as the words you use.
3What’s my name?
Not everyone is gifted at putting names to faces, and it can be particularly difficult to remember names if you are in a social setting where you’re meeting a lot of people in a short amount of time. But remembering people’s names and being able to address them directly will instantly make them feel acknowledged and welcomed.
When you meet people for the first time, try saying their name several times during your conversation and introducing them to others. For example: “Nice to meet you, Larry. Have you met Josie?” The more times you say their name, the easier it will be to remember it.
Ask people about themselves. What are their hobbies or pastimes? Find something that will help lock their name into your memory bank. Try to think of something funny or memorable to associate with them or use a mnemonic device to remember their name (e.g., Calvin from California or Bobbie with the bobbed haircut).
4Have a connection story
Make yourself memorable by having a story about yourself that gives insight into who you are and what you’re about.
If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, come up with a narrative about why this is important to you and what experiences have fueled your desires and life goals.
Your connection story should be specific and include a series of events as well as other people. It should be meaningful and give people a window into your beliefs and motivations. It should also make others feel comfortable sharing their stories with you.
Use storytelling to give people a glimpse into who you are and what you believe. Stories capture people’s attention more than rattling off dry facts and information.
Find ways to make yourself invaluable and people will appreciate you. Being of service to others, even in small ways, is a great way to connect.
Maybe you have a tip on a job that will be coming open, or maybe you know someone who is looking for services they offer. It could be something as small as lending them a book or telling them about a great TED talk or YouTube video on a topic they are interested in. Learn to embrace generosity and you will make yourself and others more successful.
6Do your research
If you find that having off-the-cuff conversations makes your palms sweat and prompts you to run for the door, consider doing a little groundwork ahead of time. Thinking through some questions to ask people will help put your mind at ease and alleviate anxiety.
The goal isn’t to have a list of questions you can pull out and recite. The idea is that a little prep work will help you feel confident and relaxed so you can have a fluid conversation. Before you go to a social function or networking event, come up with three open-ended or thought-provoking questions to help keep your conversation moving.
Make sure they aren’t too invasive or personal; however, they should be deep enough to make the person think about their response. A more meaningful and deeper conversation will make you more memorable and help others feel a connection to you.
7Spark interest with a conversation piece
Sometimes all it takes to stand out in a crowd is showing off your unique fashion style. Do you have a signature colour you like to wear? A fondness for Hawaiian shirts? Or perhaps you like wearing Converse sneakers with your dress pants.
Wearing something that can be a conversation starter will help you seem both approachable and unique. However, make sure that you aren’t opening yourself up to be the butt of jokes or turning people off with something potentially offensive.
Think of this as a chance to show a little flair, help you stand out from the crowd and put a smile on people’s faces.
8Wear your heart on your sleeve
We all have thoughts, ideas, beliefs and goals. Be willing to share a bit of yourself – who you are and what you believe in – and others will naturally be curious and want to engage you.
Have you lived an interesting life or are you passionate about a cause? People will find you more interesting and memorable if they know more about your experiences and what makes you tick.
This doesn’t mean you should monopolise conversations. Be careful not to pontificate or lecture others on a cause or issue you care about. Simply embrace your passions and share them with others – it may be a great way to engage in deeper conversations or friendly debates.
9Be open to learning
As great as it is to share your life experiences, you should remember nobody likes a know-it-all. Always be open to hearing other people’s ideas and stories. Share the stage and resist the urge to always try and “one up” someone with your knowledge or expertise.
You can break down walls by hearing what someone else has to say.
Chances are you don’t actually know everything, and being open to hearing another point of view will shed light on something new.
10Show you care
Being genuine and showing empathy and kindness will never go out of style, and costs you absolutely nothing. Show your gratitude to others by saying thank you and being grateful to those who help you.
You can start building deeper connections with people simply by showing your human side.
If you are uplifting, positive and show common courtesy to those around you, you will begin building bonds that go beyond business. Never underestimate the power of real friendships.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Why Every Business Needs A Call Centre
Below are just some of the reasons why every business needs a call centre.
As a business owner, you are likely always looking for something to put you ahead of the competition. This could be anything from a new marketing strategy to an exciting product. But many companies do not think of call centres when it comes to boosting their business and putting themselves ahead of the competition.
A call centre allows you to interact with consumers. If you do not have the staff for it in-house you can outsource for premium call centre quality assurance to ensure customer satisfaction. You will be able to provide stellar customer service as well as collect data from the calls to improve your business. Still not convinced? Below are just some of the reasons why every business needs a call centre.
They help to build customer loyalty
Having a call centre does more than allow you to answer the complaints and queries of customers. It will help to build up customer loyalty, especially if you choose to outsource your contact centre management.
While online shopping has grown immensely over the years, many consumers still want to be able to phone in and ask questions about products that are not working, that are damaged or for advice on how to remedy a problem with their purchase. A call centre will provide confidence to consumers that your company is there to help and provide trusted advice, which will, in turn, improve their loyalty to your brand.
You can get to know your audience
By having a call centre that allows you to interact with consumers on a one-on-one basis, you will be learning valuable information about who your customers are. And because you will be monitoring every call, you can ascertain the demographics of your audience.
For example, you might find that several calls are coming in from one area, which will allow you to focus your marketing strategies to that geo-location. Or you might notice that a certain product is bringing in similar complaints. This information will allow you to make important changes to the product. This data will help you to get to know your audience and tailor your products, services and messages to their needs.
They help to avoid lost sales
Quality assurance is vital to the success of your customer support. This is because a call centre will help to avoid lost sales and lead opportunities. Instead of relying on a voicemail service (which consumers will likely not use) your call centre will allow consumers to speak directly to a helpline, which will encourage them to buy from your brand.
For those who have a small amount of staff, outsourced contact centre services will provide a shorter wait time for call centre queues. Lost sales can be disastrous to a company of any size, so investing in a call centre will help to remedy this. If consumers are not waiting in long phone queues, they are likely to make a purchase or use your services. And leads will become conversions because consumers will feel valued and satisfied.
You will have an edge on the competition
In the world of business, everything is cutthroat. If your competitors have a number for consumers to call in case of any issues and you do not, it is likely that they will choose your competitor over you.
An effective way to beat the competition is to provide a call centre number to your customers as well as office numbers. This way they can call the customer support number for product related issues and the office number if they would like to speak to managers or make business deals. If you outsource your call centre management, you are sure to have a leg up on the competition. Consumers want to feel as though their voices are being heard and taken seriously.
Related: The Future of Call Centre Design
It is professional
Whatever the size of your business, remaining and appearing professional to business partners and consumers is important. Having a call centre that gives a customised greeting to consumers and sends them through to an agent will make it appear as though you are an established company doing business with many customers.
Professional customer service is vital for the success of any company, especially if you are a start-up. And if you are a larger company, try not to become complacent with the customer service you are already offering. If consumers can phone in with queries and compliments, they will have trust in your brand’s professionalism, leading to customer loyalty and more sales.
Be future facing
Anyone who runs a business knows how important it is to look toward the future. And having a call centre can help with this. It will help to build up customer loyalty, you will learn more about your consumers and your audience, you will avoid lost sales and you will have an edge on the competition.
Wow Them World Class With This Customer Service Myth
Without fail, every single business says that one of their differentiators is customer service. When was the last time you were wowed? Most businesses don’t walk their talk. Which means if you get service right, it really can be a differentiator.
Customer loyalty is earned by being great, not satisfactory. Aim to be exceptional in your business. Deliver world-class customer service. Service that’s better than anyone else in your industry. That’s how you become great, and how you attract loyal customers. You have set yourself apart from the competition.
Let’s say you own a plumbing business — Plumb Rite. Set out to provide prompt, efficient service, with friendly workers who can explain the service they offer, and deliver quickly, well and affordably.
Satisfactory Is Not Good Enough. Be World Class!
Be remarkable. When you finish repairing a leak, you want your customers to go, “Wow, how good were those guys!”
Remember your customers’ names and where they live. Give them discounts, or free services where it’s warranted. Meet them in person and explain repairs to them.
While you should be aware of your competition, don’t simply replicate what they do. Maybe they’re terrible. Rather provide the best customer service you possibly can. Being satisfactory means you’ll be part of the bunch. Rather be great and stand out from the herd.
First, consider what customer service actually means. Do you make the lives of your customers easier? Too many businesses make the sale, and then move on. True customer service has a long-term outlook.
Once you’ve efficiently handled a customer’s business and sent her on her way with a smile and a friendly greeting, your work is not yet done.
Part of serving her needs is following up and making sure that everything is in order, after the sale is complete. After all, you are building a LASTING customer relationship.
Let’s say you run a camping store selling essential gear to the camping and outdoor community. A woman named Tumi comes into your store. She’s not really into camping, but she needs a tent.
You enquire what she needs a tent for and learn that there’s a music festival coming up in Mpumalanga this weekend. There are no chalets available, so camping is the only option. She needs a tent.
You recommend a leisure tent, help her pick the right colour, give her a brief tutorial on how to put it up and send her on her way. This is an awesome opportunity to follow up with some after-sales service once she returns from her camping weekend.
This is go-the-extra-mile time
Give Tumi a call the next week and — as professionally as possible — ask how she enjoyed her tent. Was she able to put it up without too much trouble? Was it warm enough? None of the zips malfunctioned?
This emphasises that customer service comprises service before the sale, during the sale, and after the sale.
Some other opportunities for good after-sales service:
- A travel agent following up with a client during and after their holiday ensure everything went according to plan.
- A butcher recommends a cut of meat to a customer. The next time he comes in, the butcher asks, “How was that kudu steak you bought last time?”
- Cross-selling once you’ve made a sale. A parent brings their child into Toy Kingdom. You remember you’ve sold them an Elsa Frozen dress. “How about these lovely Frozen slippers to go with your Elsa dress?”
- An automated SMS to thank customers once they pay their cellphone account.
More than anything, following up shows you care. You want your customer to be satisfied more than you want her money. We’re also building a relationship that’s going to outlast this single transaction. Good after-sales service drives word-of-mouth recommendations and helps set you apart from your competition.
5 Signs Your Customers Have Questions You Aren’t Answering
You may be causing confusion somewhere in the customer journey. And confused customers don’t buy.
When you come to my website, the first thing you see is me, a description of what I do and a button that encourages you to click on it. There are no surprises, no guessing where you should go next. I’ve laid it all out right in front of you.
Not all businesses make things this clear. Some have too much clutter on their homepage, overwhelming visitors with information. In fact, 75 percent of consumers polled in research by Stanford said that they judged a company’s credibility by its website design.
Such lack of clarity doesn’t apply just to websites. This could be a problem in your emails, your sales process, even your physical stores. And a lack of clarity is troubling, because it confuses your customers, and confused customers don’t want to buy from you.
You need to make sure your business is focused on ensuring a positive experience. That means making sure no customer question is left unanswered.
Not sure if your business is suffering from a lack of clarity? If you recognise any of these five signs, there’s a good chance your customers are confused.
1. Your website stats seem off
We tend to assume that most people know what to do when they come to a website. But if your website is unorganised or cluttered, customers may not know where to go when they get there.
Maybe the customer wants to call you, but your contact information is buried. Or maybe he or she wants to purchase a product directly off your site, but the checkout process is too clunky.
If something on your website is off, your stats are going to show it. You’ll probably see a lot of visitors but not a lot of return visitors, and the amount of time they spend on your site may be low.
So, how do you fix it? Go through your website with a fine-toothed comb. Have someone unfamiliar with your site go through it and give you feedback. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and look at the site from their perspective. How can you make their experience on your site as smooth as possible?
Related: How To Win Trust And Wax Sales
2. The customer is indecisive
When customers are in the decision phase, you want to do everything you can to seal the deal and push them along with their decision. If they’re waffling or can’t seem to make that decision, there’s something wrong.
It could be that they don’t have all the information they need. If they’re confused about something, it’s your job to set their mind at ease. Make sure you’re open with your customers, and offer help with any questions or concerns they might have. FAQs, live chat options, videos and product resource pages can help tremendously here.
3. The customer doesn’t know how to use the product
Is there one question that keeps coming up again and again from your customers? If you’re constantly getting the same question about your product or service, the answer needs to be clearer.
Customers shouldn’t have to call in to your support team for simple issues. You need to make it easy for customers to use your products and services. That means offering to help set things up for them and properly onboarding and training them in your product’s use. The more you can prepare your customers and anticipate their needs, the more satisfied they’ll be.
4. The customer is complaining
According to a survey by American Express, seven out of ten consumers in the United States have spent more money to do business with a company that offers great service. Excellent customer support is key to the success of your business, and without it, customers will be unhappy.
When customers are unsatisfied with the level of service they’re receiving, you’ll hear about it. If you’re getting a lot of complaints or seeing a lot of product returns, there’s probably something wrong.
To avoid getting an earful, you need to get to the root of the issue and find out the cause of your customers’ unhappiness. Is it your customer service team? Slow shipping times? Or something deeper? You may be causing confusion somewhere in the customer journey.
5. Sales are down
If you aren’t selling, something is wrong. It’s as simple as that. If sales are consistently on a decline, you need to go back and find out where the problem is.
Customers want to know what they’re getting into when they make a purchase. You need to make it clear what you offer, why customers should buy from you and how exactly they can go about buying.
The key here is clarity. Customers aren’t going to jump through hoops to purchase your product. You need to guide them through the sale by ensuring their questions are answered before they’ve even asked them.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
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