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Take Your Customer Service Dept From ‘Cost Saving & Cost Reduction’ To High Profit & Business Growth
The more interactions I have with people involved in telephone service and sales, such as contact/call centers and customer service departments, I am amazed at how often I hesitate to create more sales and profit opportunities through better interactions with existing customers, lost reactivations. Accounts and new business acquisition.
Companies are always looking for ways to cut costs and reduce staff – especially in call/contact centers (turning so many into ‘call ‘n’ wait’ disaster zones) – they often fail to see what rewards they can reap by using the following formula. :
1 Humble Telephone + 1 Skilled Operator + 1 Established Sales System = Big Profit!
Here are twelve ideas that can dramatically improve your bottom line as a result, build greater customer relationships and earn you (a company of any size and industry) more revenue.
1. Build the loyalty of your current customers
A ‘no brainer’ right? Why don’t so many customers reach out to you, when it suits them?
Why are you constantly offering free incentives and low prices to get new business?
CRM is the new service elixir. It’s worth nothing if you don’t listen to your customers.
Here’s an example – in the last six months or so, a metropolitan daily newspaper has offered $39.90 (I paid a lot and subscribed for 20 years), contests (subscribe to win wine, see a rock group in concert!) and new Gifts to inspire members. Me, I get some kind of special club membership with weird discounts or special offers. But hey, new members do the same! Who is ahead?
2. Get referrals from current clients
The cost of losing a customer is almost unimaginable. Add to that the fact that they tell you about their bad experiences and people they never mention to you.
Instead, offer a total strategy of satisfaction and benefits to your existing customers. Then, encourage them to tell others.
Don’t reward these referred customers (but give them full satisfaction and benefits). Reward your current customers for their referrals. Develop a system that encourages customers to tell friends, family, their clients and associates about you and then say ‘thank you’ or offer them something of value for their efforts.
3. Add VALUE to every sale
Here’s a really simple equation: If you give value – you get more sales.
That’s what happened. If your people are trained to provide advice and information, educate customers, offer creativity and innovation, your customers will buy more products and services.
Even if your prices are slightly higher. This was IBM’s way of learning some great lessons in the 60s and 70s. IBM charged the highest prices in the industry but their service and support was legendary. The phrase ‘no one ever got fired for buying IBM’ was coined then.
4. Turn research into potential
Then, turn that prospect into a customer. Then turn that customer into an advocate, one of your company’s ‘raving fans’.
You need trained people, systems and a monitoring and measurement plan. Simple? Yes it is, and like everything mentioned in this article, I bet some of your people are great at it and most of them exhibit basic courtesy with callers – and that’s it.
5. Create an upsell program
One becomes two. Two becomes four. Four becomes … larger than Argentina’s GDP.
It is very simple, easy and effective and very few organizations use this strategy. Many of your people won’t do this because they think the extra cost will turn the customer off. It doesn’t. Not if the customer actually sees the benefit of greater volume or improved quality.
6. Cross-sell at every opportunity
What can your people add to the original purchase? Extended warranty, on-site service, insurance, savings if they purchase additional item(s), a special offer or other options?
If everyone in your organization upsold and cross-sold at every opportunity, your sales would increase. I’ve seen 15-45% growth in companies where a simple upsell/cross-sell strategy was established.
7. Negotiate the price
Don’t just offer discounts or ‘best price to you’. Let me repeat, if you give value – you get more sales. Negotiate the price. Train your people that by reducing the price, they are giving a margin. So, upsell and/or cross sell if you offer a discount. Package or bundle your offer to make it attractive and of real customer benefit.
8. Resuming the conversation
Every time your people give a quote, send a proposal or send a brochure via fax, mail or email, they should record a follow-up timeframe.
Between an hour and three days. All requests for information should be followed up by telephone. This leads to a higher close or conversion rate (I’ve seen 20-50%) or, if they’ve purchased elsewhere – your follow-up call may be the beginning of a relationship… or not. But you never know if you don’t follow.
This rule should also be applied to handling complaints. Most companies do not follow up with people who complain.
9. Adopt a ‘keep in touch’ program
What can you do for your customers that will allow you to contact them on a planned, regular basis?
Special offer, new product or service introduction or…? The best forms of ‘staying in touch’ are emails with regular phone calls.
But be careful – you must have a purpose for every call you make or email you send. Don’t bombard your customers (and prospects) with garbage.
10. Develop a systematic approach to lost customer reactivation
The longer you fail to make or maintain contacts, the more likely you are to lose customers forever.
If you check the most recent contact versus the previous contact frequency, you can spot lost or missing customers. Do something to get their business back.
This is the most expensive part of your operation – lost customers, lost referrals.
Do you have a lost customer reactivation plan?
11. Get new customers
Why do companies have so few high-quality telemarketing divisions? Of course, the ‘T’ word is considered dirty and disgusting in some quarters, and indeed it can be. However, where you have trained professionals, comprehensively developed objectives and strategies, why aren’t well-executed telemarketing campaigns gaining new business and new relationships for your organization?
Quality telemarketing will generate leads, open new business channels/market segments, build business with small, marginal and remote customers, give you real value (as a follow-up) from exhibitions and seminars.
This is one of the most underutilized resources for business acquisition (and reactivation).
12. Develop and operate your system
If you adopt a systematic approach, success will come with all the guidelines, tips and hints mentioned earlier. That is:
a) Sales and service oriented contact management system based on quality CRM package.
b) Well-trained people who consistently add value and get value from every call.
c) Monitoring, measuring and reviewing each of the above and seeking continuous improvement in both contact management and people skills.
It’s simple and what’s more, it works. Use the power of the humble telephone (and quality people) wisely, and you’ll reap huge benefits results: Relations and Revenue.
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