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The High Cost Of Training

(category: Customer-Service, Word count: 368)
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"Only the educated are free."


There are countless articles and studies outlining the high cost of training - each with unique approaches to measuring the impact of training. During our current recession there is momentum for business' to scale back all non-essential areas and training budgets are usually the first to go. Executives often view training as a nice-to-have function, but not required to stay in business. I understand their dilemma. If I were writing the check myself, I would be hard pressed to continue to pay for training when my income is less than it was a year ago.

However, it is the high cost of NOT training that should be on the forefront of our minds, especially during a recession. During a recession, if I am lucky, I won't have to lay off any workers. If not, I may have to let some people go, and rely on those left behind to carry the day until brighter times return. How do I motivate my staff to provide our customers superior and even 'delightful' customer service if I'm scaling back? How? - by making sure I'm giving each and every person who stays behind the skills and tools they need to deliver.

Let's look at an example in terms of Return on Investment (ROI). We train one worker for one hour. From the training he/she receives, they become 1% more efficient at their current job. They pick up one tip, trick, cost savings, new understanding - just one simple idea they can use on their job.

Let's do the math:

40 hours / week * 50 weeks / year = 2,000 hours / year

2,000 / year * 1% improved efficiency = 20 hours / year of improved efficiency

This means that 1 hour invested in training = 20 hours returned

Or, a 20:1 ROI. If you could get that kind of return on investment on Wall Street, you'd be considered a god...

During a recession we're all scrambling to grow, or at least, maintain our business. If you can find a line item that can give you a 20:1 ROI, I suggest you take it. And soon...

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Cad Services In A Better Way

(category: Customer-Service, Word count: 398)
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First of all, let's have a brief introduction of CAD Services. Computer Aided Design (CAD) service is a type of computer-based tool, which can be used for drafting and designing related services. CAD is used in a wide range of designing fields such as architecture, mechanics and electronics. These CAD services enable a user to prepare faster and accurate drawings with flexibility in the drawing process. It also allows a user to modify dimensions with least efforts.

CAD has many built-in features and helps in giving simple and easy accessibility to the user. CAD can be identified as a user friendly computer based services used for all 2D and 3D modeling purposes. Some of the services from CAD are: autocad drafting, cad drafting services, CAD Outsourcing, 2D modeling, 3d modeling, animation, CAD Conversion, mechanical drafting and design, architectural cad drafting and design. These services can also be utilized to design machinery and various other tools. This is useful for engineers, architects, advertising designers and 2D as well as 3D animation professionals. Architectural CAD Drafting and design would literally mean architectural drawing on Computer and getting your architectural drawing done in Digitized format. When it comes to designing of buildings, CAD is used in architecture as an efficient tool for designing all types of buildings. CAD can also be used by consumers in designing and developing various products. It can also be used as a mediator in other products. It is very useful in engineering processes to create conceptual designs and layout analyses of components in manufacturing methods.

Now when talking about CAD drafting software, CAD drafting software is used mostly for developing architectural and complex machine designs or drawings. CAD drafting software has all the primary features available in commonly used engineering CAD software. The most eminent characteristic of this type of software is that it allows users to differentiate components that is, to mark different components of a design with different color combinations provided with the software.

This helps in reducing product design time and improves the effectiveness of the designed products. Nowadays, the most advanced CAD drafting software available in the industry can support up to sixteen million color variations. Moreover the graphic user interface (GUI) provided with the software continuously prompts the user to color each and every new component that is added to the design products.

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Is Your Credit Score Costing You A Fortune

(category: Customer-Service, Word count: 576)
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While some surveys show that 9 out of 10 consumers are unaware what their credit score is, I'd like to quickly share with you how your credit score could be costing you a fortune (in more ways than you can imagine). We all know a low credit score will make everything in the world of finance more expensive because of higher interests rates from lenders due to being considered a greater credit risk ( i.e. higher interest rates on cars, homes and credit cards). While this may be considered common knowledge by some, it's truly devastating effects are understood by few. For example, If you purchase a $200,000 home on a 30 year fixed mortgage at 8% interest instead of 6% (because of your credit score); that 2% is going to end up costing you a total of $96, 934.11 over the term of the loan. Now, think about how many extra years you'll have to work to pay off $96,934.11 because of an extra 2% in interest?

The part few people talk about is all the other areas in life where a low score will increase your cost of living on an annual basis. For example. In addition to paying more for a car, home and credit cards, a low credit score will most likely have you paying more for the following as well:

1.) AUTO INSURANCE. As many as 92% of the 100 largest personal automobile insurers use credit information to underwrite new business, according to a 2001 study by Conning & Co., an insurance-research and asset-management firm.

2.) HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE. It's thought many insurance companies see a correlation between low credit scores and increased property insurance claims. Therefore, a low score will result in higher rates.

3.) LIFE and HEALTH INSURANCE. Customers who are unable to pay their monthly insurance premium thereby pass along that increased cost to the insurance company whose stuck with the bill (resulting in a loss for the company). Since customers who pay without lapse are more profitable it is felt by many that a low credit score now even affects a monthly life and/or health insurance premium negatively. One of the more shocking areas where a low credit score will you cost you is in the area of employment. It's estimated as many as 42% of employers now do credit checks on applicants before hiring them (according to a 1998 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management). While many employers claim they only do it to verify information on your application (such as where you live and where you have worked etc.) we can both assume they are taking the liberty to have a peek at how you handle your financial affairs as well. According to the Public Research Interest Group (PIRG) as many as 79% all credit reports contain errors, 25% of which are serious enough to cause the denial of credit (according to a 2004 report). And that's all the more troubling in light of the increasing impact a bad credit report can have, says Ed Mierzwinski, director of PIRG's consumer program. "It's outrageous that the credit bureaus are claiming their scores are accurate enough to take people's lives and screw with them like this".

In the next segment we'll be talking about something very, very exciting. It's called...

"Insider Techniques to Raise Your Credit Score... FAST!"

See you in a couple days...

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The Pretty Woman Theory

(category: Customer-Service, Word count: 474)
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We've all seen it. Julia Roberts is shopping on Rodeo Drive. She's dressed in her "professional" gear and gets that infamous attitude from the saleswomen. And of course, we're all cheering when she stops back by the store in her newly purchased couture, arms laden with shopping bags and delivers my favorite line of all time. "You work on commission right? Big mistake, huge!"

We all love to watch that scene and feel like we identify with Julia. However, I am going to admit something here. I think that, whether we're willing to admit it or not, all of us in sales have been guilty of this crime. I know this is extremely politically incorrect, but come on now. The minute we encounter a customer, we form some sort of split second judgment as to what kind of client they are.

The problem does not lie in that initial judgment (even though it's most likely completely wrong!). The problem is born the minute we allow ourselves to act based on that initial opinion.

The single most powerful sales and marketing tool we have is word of mouth from past and current clients. By the same token, the fastest way to lose business is for one person to have a negative experience with anyone associated with your company. If that happens, you've not only lost that person's business, but most likely anyone that person happens to talk to while they're still upset, and by proxy, anyone that second person talks to, and so on and so on.

So what lesson can we learn from everyone's favorite working girl's shopping experience? I know you've heard it over and over again, but seeing this happen over and over again in stores across the country, I think it definitely bears repeating. Ever person you come in contact with is a potential sale. Every potential sale is a potential commission for you and a potential increase in your company's profits.

It's really that simple, but from my personal experience as a customer, most salespeople don't seem to get it! All customers want is to feel that you appreciate the fact that they're spending money on your product. They don't want to feel as if you're looking down on them, and they certainly don't want to feel as if they're interrupting your day of leaning against the wall looking bored.

If you ask me, projecting an air of self-importance is the single easiest way to fail at retail or any other type of sales. So, the next time you encounter a potential customer try to remember that silver screen moment of Julia and try to decide if you want to be those women that everyone in the theater is booing or the wonderful people who make her feel like a princess!

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Making Great First And Last Impressions Over The Telephone

(category: Customer-Service, Word count: 606)
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1. Greet the customer enthusiastically. Put a smile on your face and energy in your voice. Intentionally sound fun, interesting, friendly, and conversational. When you do these simple things, you will find that you are quickly establishing rapport with callers and that customers enjoy speaking with you.

2. Listen without interrupting. It can be tempting to interrupt a rambler or storyteller, but try not to do so within the first few seconds. Listen patiently and let the customer tell you what is on her mind. Of course, you can't let a long-winded caller get out of hand.

3. Respond with appropriate emotions. Be natural with your customers. When they are happy and the situation calls for more energy, express this energy. If the situation calls for empathy, don't sit there like a stone, express empathy. When I was in car rental and a customer would complain about a breakdown in one of our rental cars, I'd quickly make an expression of empathy like: "I realize how frustrating this whole thing must be for you."

4. Make the customer feel smart/good. Yesterday I conducted a mystery shopper call for a client and one of the customer service representatives did an outstanding job of making the caller feel good. The "mystery shopper" was told to ask several redundant and "dumb" questions and she did that very well. At one point the customer service representative said, "You obviously care about your health or you wouldn't have called today." That went over very well-instead of making the caller feel like an idiot, she made her feel like a star!

5. Never come across annoyed, "interrupted", or irritated. Your job is to help and serve. And in your job you are going to hear a lot of the same thing over and over. Some customers will annoy you and some of the comments you hear will be just outrageous. But don't let it show. Give every caller your best and sound patient, interested, friendly and helpful every time.

Master these five points at the beginning of the call and your impression will be friendly, helpful, and memorable. Read on to discover ways to end the call on positive note.

Make the most of the last few seconds of the call-

1. Ask if there is anything else you can do. Don't rush to end the call. Make sure you've answered all of the customer's questions by simply asking, "Is there anything else I can do for you today?"

2. Express sincere appreciation for the call. One of my clients does a phenomenal job of this. Anytime and every time a customer calls Accuvue Vision, they will get a warm and sincere thank you for the call. Every representative will make the caller feel great about calling with sincere phrases like: "I'm really glad you called us today." "Your feedback is definitely appreciated and I'm so glad you chose to share it with us today." "Thanks so much for taking time out of your day to call and tell us this."

Always end the call on a positive, upbeat note.

3. Let your caller hang up first. It's simply polite to let your caller hang up first. In most cases, callers will hang up with 2-4 seconds of the last spoken word.

Never forget that your callers remember the first and the last thing in a series of events disproportionate to anything else. Make the most of these critical touch points by adopting these steps.

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Customer Service The Real Estate Revolution

(category: Customer-Service, Word count: 530)
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Traditionally, real estate has been viewed as a sales industry. But perceptions are changing. Agents around the country are coming to believe that the key to real estate success is service - not sales.

Competition and technology now give customers almost unlimited choices, so agents are having to work harder and spend more to win listings. They're discovering that business success comes from repeat business and word-of-mouth.

And customer service is the key.

Loyalty and good-will can't be bought - not even with the sale of a house. Customers like to be treated with honesty, respect, and integrity. They want a realistic and accurate property appraisal. They want an agent who commits to action. They want to be able to speak to someone who can help them when they call. They want to feel welcome when they walk into the office. They don't want their intelligence insulted by advertising. They don't want to be fed a line (even if it is what they'd like to hear...).

Agents with business sense know that if they can provide this customer service - if they can pioneer great customer service in real estate - they'll have a real edge on their competitors. Far from being an impediment to success, they see today's marketplace as an opportunity to flourish.

Obviously, the sale is still critical, but it's part of a greater whole - almost like a critical KPI (Key Performance Indicator). It's based on the simple premise - serve and you will sell. The premise holds true because all the pre-requisites of a sale are intrinsic to good customer service: The price is realistic, the marketing is intelligent, the advertising appropriate, and commitments are made and kept. Vendors, buyers, landlords, and tenants alike receive the same high level of customer service.

5 Quick Tips for Finding a Service Oriented Agent

1) Ask to see references - It's not that much different from a job interview. Think of the agent as the job seeker, and encourage them to prove their customer service qualifications. The right agent will be only too happy to provide as many references as you'd care to see.

2) Analyse their business growth - Assuming their references are in order, ask after their business growth. References provide you with qualitative evidence of customer focus. You should supplement this with something quantitative. If the agent is still growing rapidly in today's environment, then they must be doing something right.

3) Analyse their market share - Like growth, market share can be an indicator of customer focus. Ask what their share of the target market is.

4) Observe their behaviour - Do they return phone calls? Do they commit to action? Do they meet their commitments? Are the punctual? Do they keep you informed? Do they remember important details you provide them?

5) Gauge access to staff - When you first called, did you get to speak to someone who could help you? If not - if they took your name and number and told you they'd get someone to call you back, this might be indicative of their customer service approach.

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Are You Serious About Customer Service

(category: Customer-Service, Word count: 226)
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Is your online company really serious about Internet customer service? When it comes down to it, excellent customer service is pretty much the only way you will convert visitors to customers. You can also increase your ROI and improve online sales with excellent customer service.

If you are truly serious about offering quality customer service, your best option would be customer service software. With customer service software you can reduce customer service costs and increase your conversion rate at the same time. All the while, you will be making your customers happier, which will lead to more sales and an increase in ROI.

Customer service software helps small businesses and large businesses alike by offering customer service messenger, support messenger and support messenger. These offer 24/7 customer service to customers and potential customers. They can also allow you track customers online and track consumer behavior online as well.

Customer service software can offer live chat help and/ore animated avatar help, animated avatar service, animated avatar support and animated avatar guide. Many people prefer the avatar because it makes them feel more like they are talking to an actual person.

Serious quality customer service means a serious customer service solution. Consider customer service software for your online business if you would like to convert visitors to buyers and improve your ROI.

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B Creating A Call Center Script B

(category: Customer-Service, Word count: 446)
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At the beginning of my creative career, I volunteered as an overnight deejay at a college radio station. I loved playing the music and interacting with insomniac listeners, but I got a real kick out of reading the news. I would tear copy straight off the wire service printer and if I was lucky, I had a producer turn that raw newsfeed into informational text that I read into the microphone. The text was broken up into reasonable sentences that were designed for easy delivery over the air. When my producer didn't show up for my shift, I did this myself I'd mark up the page, insert pauses, and emphasize the words and sentence clauses that I wanted to stress. If I couldn't be understood over a fuzzy and weak AM signal, then what was the point of taking five minutes at the top of the hour to deliver the news? I had a lot of fun and I learned how to "speak" all over again. Whenever I do any live speaking today, I use the same exact techniques that I learned while the "On-Air" sign was flashing above the studio. I mark up my speech or the text passage I'm reading because I know that impact is everything. If I lose my breath in the middle of a sentence, then it's too long. If the last word of a sentence drops out inaudibly, my message is lost. If I stumble on an unfamiliar word or name, my audience loses confidence in my message.

Live telephone operators who work in call centers and answering services need the same help that any live speaker needs. It's the job of the call center operator to communicate the client's business image to the caller, and this begins with the first few seconds of the phone call. Many small business owners' needs never go beyond representatives answering their lines with "XYZ Company, may I help you?" and improvising the rest of the conversation to obtain the information that the client requests. When clients upgrade their accounts to more complex services, it's important that they create a script that works for both the company signing up for the service, the operator reading the script, and the customer. Your sales representative is more than willing to help you create the best script to fit all of your sales or information inquiries.

Creating a call center script begins with the "answer phrase" and the same principles continue through the entire process of creating a logical script. H ere are some important items to keep in mind when you are creating your script:

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Retail Customer Service Tips For Improving Your Level Of Service

(category: Customer-Service, Word count: 697)
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Today I witnessed a customer service miracle in action. I took my son to our local fast food restaurant, so he could have some lunch and play in the indoor playground. While I was waiting for our food to be ready, a woman approached the counter with a crushed Styrofoam cup. She said, "This cup fell off of our table and broke. I need another drink and I need someone to come clean up our table and the floor." The tone of her voice suggested that somehow the restaurant was responsible for her broken cup. And of course, there was no, "Hey I'm so sorry, one of my horrible children was fooling around and caused you a mess."

It was then that right before my eyes a customer service miracle occurred. Rather than replying with the same nasty treatment they had just gotten from the customer, the staff quickly gave her a new drink. Then a man appeared with a smile and said, "I would be glad to clean that up for you." The staff never heard the words "thank you" from that customer, yet they acted as if they had. All were professional and conveyed an attitude that said, "We love having the opportunity to serve each and every person in this restaurant."

Not surprisingly, the place is almost always busy. The restaurant is clean, the management supports our community with various school spirit fundraising nights, the food is better than most fast food, and most of all, the people that work there make you want to come back.

Watching customer service interaction is my hobby and my work, and today's experience was a living, breathing example of the 21 Rules for Excellent Retail Customer Service that we share with the participants in our courses. Most of them are not that hard to follow. However, they can be hard to follow consistently.

If you work with customers in retail, take a look at the list and ask yourself how closely you follow the rules.

1. Smile when greeting a customer in person and on the phone (and yes, they can tell if you are smiling over the telephone!).

2. Use age-appropriate greetings, and avoid referring to older customers and women as "guys."

3. Be proactive and ask how you may be of service.

4. Stay visible and available, but don't hover.

5. Don't turn away, walk away, start to make a phone call, or duck beneath the counter as a customer approaches. (We've all had it happen to us.)

6. The live customer standing in front of you takes precedence over someone who calls on the phone.

7. Never judge a book by its cover-all customers deserve attention regardless of their age or appearance.

8. Leave food and beverages in the break room.

9. A customer doesn't want to hear about your upcoming break.

10. Makes any personal calls when you're on a break and out of earshot.

11. The correct answer is never "I don't know" unless you add to it, "but I can find out for you."

12. If a customer wants something that isn't on display, go to the stock room and try to find it.

13. If the item isn't in the stock room, offer to call another store or order it.

14. Learn to read body language to see if a customer could use some help.

15. Don't let chatty customers monopolize your time if others are waiting.

16. Call for backup support if lines are forming.

17. Be discrete if a customer's credit card is declined by asking if there is another method of payment he or she would like to use.

18. Never discuss customers in front of other customers (they'll wonder what you're saying about them once they leave).

19. Inspect merchandise before bagging it to make sure it's not defective or the wrong size.

20. Make sure customers receive everything they've paid for before they leave your store.

21. Smile as you are saying goodbye and encourage the customer to come again.

And here's one more tip: if you can, give people more than what they expect.

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