Monthly Archives: January 2017

The Power of Visualizing Success

All top performers, regardless of profession, know the importance of picturing themselves succeeding in their minds before they actually do in reality. Something I have been able to translate over to the business arena from athletics is the power of visualization. It is extremely effective when harnessed and used correctly.

Every Friday night after our team dinner, my college teammates and I would gather in the hotel conference room to prep for our game on Saturday.

We were led through a series of visualization techniques and practices led by a sports psychologist. Right away, I started to experience the incredible benefits of taking the time to picture myself succeeding before actually playing in the game. I visualized every little detail, from walking into the locker room, tying my cleats and having conversations with my teammates and coaches.

I would picture myself having the “perfect” game, executing the defensive game plan and making big plays. The more vivid I was, the better I seemed to play. I couldn’t believe it. Before the game even started, I had already played the entire game in my mind. This made a tremendous difference because it greatly increased my confidence and comfort level.

In turn, I have been able to harness the power of visualization outside of athletics. Before I take the stage and speak to a large audience, I always picture myself giving the “perfect” speech. I begin weeks in advance by picturing the audience, my choice of words and the reaction from the crowd once I am finished. Visualization can be applied to any area of your life, as I know it has become very beneficial throughout mine.

Consider these three examples:

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali was always stressing the importance of seeing himself victorious long before the actual fight.
As a struggling young actor, Jim Carrey used to picture himself being the greatest actor in the world.
Michael Jordan always took the last shot in his mind before he ever took one in real life.
These top performers, among many others, have mastered the technique of positive visualization and openly credit it as a success tactic.

When you think of a big goal or dream that you want to achieve, it’s natural to think of all of the obstacles that will come your way. The problem is far too often we allow these obstacles to become so big in our minds that it inhibits us from moving forward. This is when many become satisfied with mediocrity.

Don’t let this be you. Rather than creating larger-than-life barriers in your mind and dwelling on everything that will hold you back, envision yourself victorious like Ali. Picture yourself as the greatest at your craft like Carrey. Visualize your next shot as your winning shot like MJ.

What will it take? What sacrifices will you make? How can you handle any obstacles and still have enough to make it to the finish line? The key is to make your positive vision stronger than anything that can set you back.

The truth is, if you can’t picture yourself achieving a goal, chances are you won’t. The more vivid you can get, the better it will work for you. Start thinking of your personal goals in life. Spend about 10 to 15 minutes picturing yourself achieving each one.

Get as detailed as possible. Picture what you will do once your goal is reached. How amazing does it feel? How will this change the course of your life? Remember, the little details increase the likelihood of the big picture.

You don’t need to spend endless hours. Simply get in the habit of putting together a positive vision into your everyday life. Visualize yourself succeeding, achieving every goal, completing every task. See what it does for you and how it makes you feel. This will likely become a pivotal part of your success arsenal.

The bottom line is this: If you can’t picture yourself in your own mind being extremely successful, dominating your market, and running a phenomenal business, then chances are you never will.

Tips to Automate Conversations with Your Customers

Maintaining an open line of communication with your clients is key to any successful business relationship, as your clients will be more satisfied if they know that you’re behind them every step of the way. This does not necessarily mean you’ll need to spend extra man-hours to keep those lines of communication open though, as there’s a lot of customer service requests that don’t need a human being to handle them.
Putting automation to work in your business frees you and your employees up to continue to move your business forward, while still keeping a level of support that your clients expect. Here are seven cost effective ways you can automate that process.

Customer Communications Management Automation

Initiate the Conversation
Don’t wait for the customer to reach out to you: there are actions your client may take that might be a clear sign of a need for assistance. For example, a website visitor spending a lot of time in your help pages probably needs some kind of support, while somebody looking through your products and services might benefit from talking with a member of your sales team to assure the sale.

While these are only two examples of ways you can open the lines of communication and lead to increased customer satisfaction, there are many others. The bottom line is that anticipating a need when it comes to your customer relationships based on their behaviors pays dividends later. There are multiple great tools out there which can help initiate this conversation, two of which are LiveChat and BoldChat and both with customizable audience interactions.

Use a Virtual Assistant to Handle the Simple Things
Just because you’re trying to be proactive doesn’t mean you’ll need to hire additional staff. A good portion of customer service requests are simple in nature, and with chat bots becoming ever more intelligent, automated systems can handle those issues quickly and easily. This frees up your employees to deal with more complex problems.

A good place to start using digital or virtual assistants is in those proactive connections we just talked about. Chat bots such as Botsify (for Facebook Messenger and other apps) can answer those simple questions that might arise from whatever actions your client is taking on the site, and if it needs to will hand the conversation off seamlessly to a live person to handle the more difficult.

Make Use of New Technologies
Don’t be scared to try out new technologies to solve some of those simple issues. Biometrics is one possibility, and using things like biometric password recovery (utilizing fingerprints or facial recognition instead of old school methods like “mother’s maiden name) takes out the need for a call into your call center or a support chat to authenticate their identity.

Other new technologies that might assist in the automation process are the use of mobile apps, like those which walk customers through common issues so they can fix problems themselves without the need for your involvement. Others might use SMS to text a code to a number to get information on their account, a balance due, or to automate the payment process.

Use it for The All-Important Follow-up
Even after you’ve made the sale, it’s still important to keep the lines of communication open. The follow up increases customer satisfaction by merely letting your client know that you’re there if they need them, as well as addresses potential problems early on by addressing issues early.
A few days after any transaction it’s worth it to reach out to your client to ask them if they have any questions or are experiencing issues and might need assistance. Problems are easier to fix early on, so a simple automated email might be all that is needed to open a line of communication between you and your client.

Automate Your Social Media Presence
Social media outreach is an important part of your business’ public face: it gives potential customers and clients a sense that they’re connected to you. Promotion of what your business offers through social media channels may open up new sales leads, while customers may turn to social media to contact you about issues. There are many social management systems (HappyFox is a great example of this) that will actually filter social media contacts based on the content of the message itself, taking out the work of a middleman to direct queries to the right person.
These same systems can also automatically post to your social media accounts, allowing you to automate your marketing strategy and give your content maximum exposure.

The Survey
The survey is a tried and true method. Although you’re not always going to get a high response rate, the data obtained from well designed surveys are great ways to not only spot potential problems, but also initiate a dialogue with your client. Keep them short, relevant, and to the point. You might also want to use those survey answers to initiate further automatic emails to gather additional feedback on areas where the response might be a cause for concern.

The Callback
While 21st Century consumers have shown a preference for using the internet to communicate with businesses, many still appreciate talking to a human being. That’s why the callback is still a worthy option to include in your customer relationship strategy. On the same pages where you might have a “Chat Now” button, a “Call Me” button might be just as useful (MobiForge has some great examples of Click to Call or Click to SMS solutions).

All a customer would need to do is provide their phone number, and on your end the calls can be forwarded to a callback queue for your telephone representatives to answer. After all, some issues are better (and more quickly) dealt with via a phone call, so don’t always rely on a digital option to automate your communications with your clients.

Let’s Learn 10 Creative and Efficient Customer Service Solutions

Endless articles are posted in business publications about customer service solutions.
Knowing how to best connect with your customers is an important part of being successful in the long term, as well as achieving growth that keeps you going in the meantime.
With so much information out there, you would think that we would have the process down to an art. But all it takes is a trip through Yelp, or Googling large companies like Xfinity to see that customer satisfaction is far from being mastered.
As a smaller brand, you have a distinct advantage in your ability to directly communicate with and connect with your audience. You can also get a bit more creative with your attempts and act more efficiently.

So, what does it take?
1. Make Sure You Have The Right Customer Support Tool
Simple, but crucial. In a time when there are dozens of customer support solutions to choose from, you should take the time to really find one that will work for you and your team.

Check out features versus price, and any special offers they might have. Most importantly, contact them with questions. The way a customer support services handles customer support themselves should give you a clear indication of how good their tool really is.
I am using ZenDesk to power my customer service emails. I have found it to be a simple, yet complete solution.

2. Be on Top of Your Customer Service Team
As a business owner or a manager, you should always be on top of how your customer service team performs. Keeping an eye on customer satisfaction is a key to your business success!

I use Cyfe, the multi-purpose business dashboard, to keep analyzing how we are doing. I have enabled ZenDesk widget inside my “Customer satisfaction” dashboard to monitor if we are suddenly seeing a spike in customer service tickets, how quickly those tickets are closed, etc.
Customer Service Solutions
I also annotate campaign dates, holidays, etc. (anything that can affect our customer service team) to see what might have caused each spike. Using Cyfe, you can simply add another widget for notes as well as the calendar widget to monitor important dates.

3. Know Your Customers Inside and Out
You should begin building a foundation of understanding with your customers as soon as you can. Of course, you likely don’t have the budget of big companies for data mining and acquisition. You will need to be a bit more creative with the process.
A personal favorite method of mine is to create surveys.
Depending on your needs, you can make either a longer one that is done all at once, or you can offer randomized questions on the site itself that show up and change each time a user visits. You can find a great deal of information this way, granted that there is some kind of login or account connection.
Once you have information on their needs, interests, or complaints, you can make a note on the account. Now, you have that information every time they contact you.
Qeryz is one of the coolest survey solutions I’ve seen so far: You can create mini-surveys for different landing pages of your site and engage visitors depending on their intent.

4. Eliminate The Need For Customer Support Calls
Most people will go to any length to avoid a phone call with a customer support agent.
Admit it, you will yourself. That is why companies began offering alternative methods for contact, including email, social media support, and chat support.
You don’t have to provide all of them (spreading yourself too thin is a cardinal sin for small businesses). But you should have at least one alternative avenue for users who would prefer not to contact you by phone.
If you are looking for affordable solution here, look no further. ChatWoo is free and it’s incredibly easy to install (so no development costs either).

5. Prep Some Customized Freebies
Going back to knowing your audience, another benefit of having that information is the ability to customize gifts. People love free stuff. they love feeling like you appreciate them, and that you are not just taking, taking, taking. When you also show that you know them, you are going to get better results.
Perhaps my favorite example of this in practice is the Kotex Pinterest gift campaign. They took influencers they wanted to target, and made those women customized gifts sent to their homes. Each gift was created using images they had pinned on their Pinterest boards.

6. Don’t Leave Calls To Your Employees
Your employees need to be trained in customer service, obviously. You have probably hired some people to handle help desk, as well. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be directly involved with the process.
Recently, I emailed a website that offers a video call streaming dashboard, to ask about features.
The CEO contacted me back and scheduled a meeting, bypassing any customer service steps in between. He spent an hour and a half speaking to me, and offered to create a customized version of the platform that would meet my needs.

7. Get In Touch Before They Do
A good email marketing strategy is the key here: Getting in touch with your customers when you really have something exciting to share always works wonders.
Make sure to use email marketing segmentation: If there are some customers more likely to need/want it, you should target them first. That way they both feel special, and you are informing them before they have to contact you for details.

8. Use Social Media For Regular Engagement
A shocking number of companies are just doing social media all wrong, especially small businesses. They use their profiles as some kind of advertising dumping ground.
You can see that they have clearly read a bunch of blog posts telling them the “perfect formula” for growing their social media presence. As a result, it comes off as insincere, pandering, and marketing jargon. Skip all that and instead, use social media to directly engage and communicate with your audience on a one on one level.
Track down and add your customers, or add them back when they follow you. Contact them with special offers. Respond to their tweets and comments. Use your profiles to have a conversation, not to sell. Never forget that social media is not a place for conversions, but lead generation through connection.

9. Don’t Follow By The Usual Script
Be different! A unique customer service experience can be your strongest competitor advantage and word-of-mouth marketing catalyst!
Deborah Anderson shared her own examples with me: Years ago she and her husband owned a domain registration service and their big thing was “one-hour reply.”
I can see how this can empower your site call-to-action and increase your site trust: A one-hour reply policy to all the support tickets. Wow!

Gamification is another possible way to let your customer service go viral. GamEffective is quite possibly a pioneer in this field allowing businesses to make customer service experience actually fun and activating:
“GamEffective uses rich graphical narratives for its enterprise gamification, ranging from sports to racing, virtual city-building and song-contests. Narratives make employees the heroes of their game and not just a name on a leaderboard, and provide a deep context based experience.”

10. Get Creative With FAQ and Help
Your site content should answer all your customers’ possible questions. Helping your customers is the smartest content marketing strategy.
One of the best examples of that implemented well is UXCeclipse. They create a lot of aiding materials for their customer base. In this case, we’re talking about companies in retail.

They generated an infographic, they constantly update their blogs with relevant information on how to use the Microsoft products, webinars, white papers (because in the corporate and retail world, you need numbers to prove the value of a business), podcasts, YouTube videos, etc.
It’s more like a B2B customer service solution, because they’re making their customers feel comfortable with the software they sell, and believe that “Knowledge is power”. So, this is their creative way: offering knowledge, under many forms, so that their clients are always informed, are getting familiar and are returning to their websites.