Small Business Archives - Netlines

20+ Effective Ways to Say “Thank You For Your Business”

When saying thank you to a customer, you need to be sincere, personal, and to the point. Don’t use it as a sales pitch and make sure the details of the message are accurate and correct. In this post, we investigate why, when, and how to say thank you. We also explore how to use email, notes, letters, and texts to thank a customer. 

To help you word your messages, we have also included some example phrases and even complete messages to use as templates. So, without further to do let’s dive in.

Why Thank a Customer, Client, Or Partner?

Think of the last time someone showed their sincere appreciation for something you had done. How did you feel when they thanked you? I bet you felt a little rosy inside, ego slightly inflated and happiness levels increased? You might even have felt appreciated and loved! You felt like you had made a difference and helped someone out. Helping others gives us a nice warm feeling inside.

But how did you feel about the person saying thank you? How did it change your opinion of them? We don’t view people who say thank you as being inferior or weaker. But it does demonstrate respect, and we all like to be respected. It makes us feel more motivated to go further out of our way to help people again in the future.

The best customer is the one that has an emotional attachment to your business. For more interesting stats, look at our extensive list of ways to improve customer experience. It shows just how powerful the emotional attachment can be regarding sales. 

In short, an emotionally connected customer will spend more, buy more often, be more loyal and tell all their friends about how great you are. They will be proud to wear, own and use your brand. It means you’re serving your customers in the way they want to be served.

Take, for example, the guy buying a new pair of jeans. He’s having a kind of Willie Nelson day, his car has died, his wife has broken down and his dog has run off with someone else. As you sincerely thank him for his purchase as he leaves, that might be the first time in days someone has shown him some respect and appreciation. He only bought a pair of jeans, but subconsciously he feels just a little better about himself. And he associates that feeling with buying your jeans.

So, improve that customer attachment and make it truly emotional. It doesn’t only apply to customers; think about your employees and any other stakeholders in your business. People like to feel valued and respected. It breeds cooperation and inclusivity that help people work better together. Saying thank you raises some powerful emotions but is so easy to do, and yet, so often forgotten. 

woman working in cafe saying "thank you for your business" to customer

When to Say Thank You

Integrating Gratitude into Everyday Customer Experience

Expressing your gratitude should be ingrained into the everyday customer experience. At the end of every touchpoint with a customer, there should be some show of appreciation. Even if the touchpoint ends in no sale, at least show thanks for them considering your brand. As someone leaves the store or conversation, say thank you for their time.

After Solving a Customer Complaint 

Complaint handling is the trickiest of customer service skills and is crucial to your customer experience. Your customer has been so inconvenienced that you are going to have to do some serious leg work to stop this person from walking away feeling disappointed with you. The starting point for this process is thanking them for their time and patience and apologizing for your poor performance. 

Writing a Thank You Message for a New Customer

Express your gratitude that your new customer has chosen you above all your competition. Saying thank you at the start of the relationship sets the tone and attitude from day one. Include a brief mission statement explaining how you hope the relationship will develop. Start building that emotional connection that will lead to a loyal lifelong customer.

Showing Appreciation for an Existing Client

Don’t forget your existing customers! Have your CRM system generate business anniversary events that allow you to thank your existing customers for last year’s trade. 

Also, remember them on their birthday or anniversary and send a card at Christmas or New Year. Make this message personal and addressed to the correct person in the organization. Always include the employees of the organization and ask for your thanks to be passed on.  It’s a great way to build that emotional relationship.

Sending Thanks for Fast Payment

Cash flow is king in business. Have you ever heard anyone complain about being paid too soon? No. Everybody loves it. The cash is in the bank and the bank balance looks healthier. 

Thank your client for going “above and beyond,” and comment on their professionalism. This will encourage them to set this fast payment as a standard and help you get paid quickly, keeping the cash flowing in.

Writing a Thank You Letter for a Business Partnership

Just like a customer, the most powerful business partnership is one with an emotional connection. In the same way, as you connect with customers, you need to connect with people who help you. Thank them for their efforts in the past, highlight any particular special events, reinforce the common visions, and talk about the future working together. Make sure to include thanks for their whole team’s effort.

How to Say Thank You

General Guidelines 

  • It needs to be genuine. If your message doesn’t fit with the rest of your customer experience, it will be seen to be false.
  • Don’t write “War and Peace”. Keep it concise. Cut to the chase and make your point. 
  • Don’t gush. Keep it sincere. The “thank you” should reflect what you are grateful for and not be “over the top”.
  • Make it personal. Address it to the most appropriate person. Ask for your gratitude to be passed on to all involved. Talk about your actual relationship and why it is valuable to you.
  • Use the most appropriate method. Sometimes a simple email is appropriate, other times a physical card or letter might be needed.
  • Don’t try to sell or upsell. This will turn the “thank you” into a poor attempt at furthering sales. If your customer connection building is successful, you will have plenty of other opportunities to sell to them.
  • Start with a salutation. Make it personal and if you know the recipient’s name, then use it. Make sure you have the pronouns and title correct. Don’t call a Mr a Mrs or vice-versa and make sure no Dr or other title is missing.
  • Explain your gratitude. Say what you are grateful for and give examples. 
  • Explain why you are grateful. Talk about the benefits you get from your relationship and what it means to you.
  • Look to the future. Show that you mean to continue to develop the relationship and serve the customer into the future.
  • End correctly. Use the most appropriate sign-off and include your position, and company details below.

Authenticity and Automation

So, what happens when your customer base grows from 20 to 2000? In the early days, you might have been handwriting personal thank you notes, cards or emails. But now your business has boomed, it’s going to take you (or one of your staff) all week just to say thank you! 

Hang on, there is an easy way around this: automate it! There are so many different systems from Mailchimp-like email apps to fully integrated CRM apps that can do this for you.

Words of warning!

You need to be careful that your “thank you bot” is delivering the correct message to the right people. If you are going to automate your thank you system, then spend a good amount of time configuring it correctly. The result still needs to feel like an authentic, genuinely heartfelt gratitude and not some off-kilter insincere junk mail.

To keep the personal touch, make sure:

  • the message sounds like a human – at least spell and grammar check it
  • uses the correct greeting – don’t call a miss a mister
  • express the right level of appreciation – remember, no gushing
  • make it specific to their recent activity
  • sign off properly with the name the customer recognizes

18 Swipe-able Phrases to Convey Your Exact Gratitude

Whether you are handwriting a thank you note or configuring your CRM, you need some useful phrases to pick from that convey your exact gratitude. Here are a few examples to help you along.

We take pride in your business with us.

Thank you for supporting my small business and helping to keep our doors open! 

Thank you for being part of the [COMPANY NAME] family. 

Thank you for making us your first choice.

We won’t settle for less than the best for you!

Thank you for your purchase! 

Every customer matters to us, please let us know how we did. [link to customer survey]

It has been our pleasure to serve you, and we hope we see you again soon.

We at [COMPANY NAME] genuinely appreciate your business.

We’re grateful for the trust you’ve placed in us. 

We hope you are satisfied with your purchase.

Thank you for putting your trust and confidence in our company. 

Your customer loyalty is greatly appreciated.

I appreciate the opportunity to…

You can always count on us for your needs!

We have enclosed a coupon for your next order—thank you for being our loyal customer!

We take pride in your continued patronage!

Thank you for doing business with us!

How to Write Business Thank You Emails, Notes, Letters & Texts

Emails

Seriously, thank you emails aren’t even worth the paper they are written on (i.e., nothing). They are so easy to send and so commonly received that they are too cold and meaningless. They get lost in the myriad emails a business receives every day. If you want someone to take notice of your thank you then send something physical. 

But there may be times when you need to use an email thank you. Your email should follow all the previously mentioned guidelines and attention should be paid to these extra checkpoints:

Fact check

Check that you are saying thank you for the right reasons. Don’t thank someone for buying a vacuum cleaner when they have bought a dishwasher!

Spell check

At least spell check your message, check the spelling of customers’ names, business names and other personal details. Saying “thank you, John” to Joan isn’t going to do you any favors. 

Grammar check

As with any business copy produced, run it through a grammar checker. Don’t rely on the inbuilt MS Office editor. Use a standalone purpose-built one like Grammarly. You will be amazed at what the MS Office editor misses.

Check email address

You need to make sure the message gets there. Also check no one else is Cc’ed in or that you are not replying to a previous email. This email needs to be a separate message aimed directly at the customer for a specific reason.

Time check

Your customer is not going to thank you for the email alert beeping on their smartphone at 4 am. Be appreciative of their time zone and their routine. Let them sit down with a coffee in their hand before pressing send. 

Example Thank You Email

Hi Jonathan,

Thank you so much for your recent purchase of our new and improved Widget 3. It means a great deal to all of us here at TotalWidget.com that you have again chosen our Widget above all the rest. Your continued support for our business means we can keep developing and improving our widgets and help you with all your future widget needs. Once again, thank you for your custom.

Best wishes, 
Andy
CEO TotalWidget.com

Notes

When was the last time you received a handwritten note? Handwriting a personal note is up there with the top ways of saying thank you. It shows you have spent real time and effort in writing it and in arranging its delivery. 

As with all writing, check it for spelling and grammar. You can even write it in Word first then copy it from the screen. Make sure the recipient’s name delivery address is correct and send it by priority post, not economy, or even better hand deliver it.

Example Thank You Note

Hi Tracey,

All of us at TotalWidget.com truly appreciate your business. We’re so grateful for the trust you’ve placed in us and our products. We sincerely hope you are satisfied with your purchase and hope to see you soon!

Best, 
Andy (CEO)

Letters

Sometimes you need to send a more formal thank you message. A thank you letter lets you expand on what you are grateful for and why. It might also acknowledge other members of the recipient’s team who deserve recognition and talk more about planned future endeavors. As with sending a note, ensure your letter is checked before sending.

Example Thank You Letter

  • Start with a salutation. Make it personal and if you know the name then use it. Make sure you have the title correct. Don’t call a Mr a Mrs or vice-versa and make sure there is no Dr or other title.
  • Explain your gratitude. Say what you are grateful for and give examples. 
  • Explain why you are grateful. Talk about the benefits you get from your relationship and what it means to you.
  • Look to the future. Show that you mean to continue to develop the relationship and serve the customer into the future.
  • End correctly. Use the most appropriate sign-off and include your position, and company details below.

Dear Dr. Sandra Makebelieve,

All of us at TotalWidget.com would like to express our gratitude for your continued business and encouraging support. Working with you to help you achieve your goals has been and will always be a great pleasure. We would like to thank you and all the technical team at your Cincinnati branch for the assistance and cooperation we received during the recent installation of Widget 3. Your help ensured that the installation went smoothly and was completed ahead of schedule.

Thank you for your support. We truly appreciate your business and look forward to serving you again.

Yours Sincerely,
Andy McManamon
(CEO TotalWidget.com)

Text

A sort-of compromise between a note and an email. Texting has its pros and cons. It is easy and can be automated but also still can feel personal as it goes straight to the recipient’s phone. It is, however, not a physical thing and soon gets lost as more text messages push it down the inbox and off-screen never to be seen again. 

Think about your customer demographic before using text. Is it appropriate? 

Your text needs to be ultra-concise and yet still personal and meaningful to generate an emotional reaction. Remember the maximum length of a text message is sometimes limited to only 160 standard 7-bit characters. If you use non-7-bit characters this can drop to only 70. The example below is 160 long. 

Example Thank You Text

Hi Trevor, thanks for buying the Widget 3. Your custom means a lot to us here at TotalWidget.com. We look forward to serving you again. Kind regards, Andy. CEO

Final Thoughts About Saying “Thank You For Your Business”

Get it right and a thank you can go a long way to building that essential emotional connection that results in brand loyalty. Get it wrong and it could set that relationship back a long way. The main point of the thank you is that you are grateful enough for the exchange that you spent time and effort to personally say thanks. 

This post has covered a lot of ground. We have delved into many different aspects of saying thank you. So, in the last few lines, I would like to thank you for staying with us. It’s our pleasure to be able to provide you with such information and guidance. It means a lot to us here at NetLines that we can help you grow and develop your business. We look forward to continuing to serve you well into the future. 

Our kindest regards,
Jerry Haines, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer, NetLines

Categories: Small Business

17 Ways to Improve Customer Experience & Why You Must

Customer experience, often abbreviated to “CX”, is often touted as the most important element of any business. It refers to the entire journey a customer makes from the moment they become aware of your business right up to today. The whole journey should be as effortless as possible and provide a happy experience that emotionally connects the customer to the brand. 

In this post, we delve into what customer experience is, why it is so important, how to measure it and how to map it. We look at how to design an ideal customer experience. There are also 17 steps that may help you improve customer experience and boost business.

What is Customer Experience?

So basically, Customer Experience is the combination of every interaction a customer has with your business. Being in business is sometimes like being in a rock and roll band; you are only as good as your last gig. Years and years of providing excellent customer experience and winning customer loyalty to your brand can be ruined with only one bad experience. 

The customers’ first experience with your business often starts with some form of advertising. It might be a television advertisement, a banner on a website, an email, a message on a hot air balloon, or even better, word of mouth from a friend recommending your brand. From this moment, the customer is building a perception of your business. 

They may next choose to get their phone out and Google your business name or look up your business number and give you a call. Being at the top of the search engine results page means they can easily find your site – excellent customer experience. Plus, they find your business before other similarly named ones. If they are looking for your number, it might mean you are a service provider (tree surgeon, mobile mechanic, carpet fitter, etc.) and they want to phone you to arrange a quote. Having your Google business page completed means your contact and other business details appear at the top of the page. Easy to find – easy to call – great customer experience. 

So, you can see that the customer experience has started even before first contact. In fact, get this part of the experience wrong and there likely won’t be a first contact. 

From that first contact, you must max out your customer experience. And this is where your customer service skills come in.

cx in wooden blocks representing customer experience

Is Customer Experience the Same as Customer Service?

No. Customer service is just one part of the customer experience. Imagine you call a hotel to make a reservation. The guy on the phone is great, he’s helpful, extra polite and he even tells you about a special promotion that saves you a few bucks on your booking and gives you a free scenic local train journey. You put the phone down feeling all rosy inside and happy you chose that hotel. This is customer service. The guy on the phone had great customer service skills.

The following week, the train tickets arrive in the mail two days early along with a thank-you message and a free complimentary sunset drink voucher for the hotel-exclusive rooftop garden bar. The day before you set out you receive a text message wishing you a safe and pleasant journey. It also includes reservation details and the phone number to call, should you have any problems on the way. This is customer experience. The hotel offers a great customer experience.

The hotel has exceeded customer expectations every step of the way, and the customer is feeling pleased, reassured, happy and confident that they are going to have a great time. 

But just one bad experience can ruin all of this hard work instantly. You are only as good as your last gig. So, what can lead to a bad customer experience?

Six Things That Cause Bad Customer Experiences

The list is almost endless, and this is why customer experience is so tricky. Let’s look at some commonly recognized customer experience blunders.

Waiting for a long time

We all hate waiting for things; after all, our time is precious. The main gripes include:

  • waiting for a few seconds longer than normal for a webpage to load
  • waiting for someone to answer the phone (check out NetLines Auto-Attendant Service)
  • waiting on hold when the call is transferred
  • waiting for items to be delivered
  • waiting for documents or paperwork
  • waiting to be served in the shop
  • waiting for an order

So, don’t keep your customers waiting!

Not Being Understood by Business Representatives

This is deeply annoying and frustrating. The person on the other end of the phone or the other side of the counter doesn’t know what you mean by “the blue widget thingy that goes in the what’s-it-called square thingy doodah,” so they sell you the wrong widget and you find it doesn’t fit the square thingy doodah. You must go back and try again to explain what you need. This time you take the doodah with you to show the idiots behind the counter.

Poor Handling of Issues or Queries

This is the chief role of your Customer Service team. They are there to answer any questions and handle any issues customers have. Having a problem with a product is never a good thing for a customer to have.

How you deal with this situation is critical. Handle it well and the customer can become a lifelong advocate for your business. Handle it poorly and they will ask for a refund, never shop with you again, and tell anyone who will listen (particularly on social media) how utterly terrible your business is.

Impersonal or Automated Processes

You’ve pressed 1 for the Sales team, pressed 3 for the New Orders Department, pressed 7 for Oregon, pressed 2 for the downtown store and now have to enter your account number and date of birth. You are transferred to an answering machine that has a garbled message about placing your order along with the item number and quantity after the tone. You hang up wondering whatever happened to John who used to answer the phone and knew you liked Cherry Garcia ice cream!

Lack of Personalization

After spending what seems like the national debt of a small country with this company, you have received multiple orders over several years, but you still don’t know anyone’s name in the company. What’s even worse, after calling every Monday morning to place an order, they still ask your name, date of birth, customer reference number and delivery address. You feel undervalued and just part of a big machine. They wouldn’t notice if you shopped elsewhere because they don’t even know who you are.

The Business Representative is Rude, Inappropriate or Angry

Everyone has a bad day, but it’s not your fault that the guy on the end of the phone crashed his car on the way to work or has just had a pay cut. He takes your order for widgets and just hangs up at the end without so much as a “thank-you”. When your partner calls to add more widgets to the order, they are referred to as “sweet cheeks” as they hang up. 

The following day the delivery driver is fuming mad with everyone because the traffic is so bad, and they slam the boxes down on your doorstep and storm off to the next delivery. When you open the box, all the widgets are smashed and useless. The following week you place your order with the other widget company who are grateful for your purchase.

customer centric business visual

How Important Is the Customer Experience?

Extremely. Any business needs customers to survive. This is why most businesses spend a good chunk on marketing. We all know that good marketing leads to a lot of customers. Each one of these customers costs you a pretty penny in marketing fees. 

But the best customer in the world is the one who buys your products or services time and time again, year in, year out. Even better, if they love your business so much that they tell their friends and family about it! That’s free advertising of the highest quality– a personal recommendation from one friend to another.

This customer is likely to keep coming back for the rest of their life unless a bad experience changes their love for your brand. So, you have paid your marketing fees, attracted the customer, and sold to them (not just once but several times) AND they have done your advertising for you!

So how do you compete against your competition when your products or services are almost identical? Outperform the competition on the customer’s journey. Make the customer’s experience with you an absolute pleasure. 

If your customers have a terrible experience with you, they are unlikely to use you again and very likely to tell everyone how bad it was. And that bad publicity cannot be countered easily by increasing the marketing budget. The damage to your brand is done.

Why Is CX Important for Your Business?

Because you want to hang on to your customers. You have spent all of that marketing budget on winning new customers; you don’t want them to be one-hit wonders, you want them to be serial purchasers. You want them to have your number on speed dial, your website in their bookmarks and your brand name etched into their memory in the way Hoover was with vacuum cleaners. 

It is harder to sell new customers high-value goods. Most sales funnels include a first sale that is of low value and low (if any) profit. It’s easier to sell high-value items to customers that have already had an excellent buying experience. If you fail to impress on the first sale, you have likely lost the important high-value repeat purchases later down the funnel.

In the world of continuous customer reviews (think Trip Advisor or Google reviews), those five gold stars can be the make or break of a business. Do you book a hotel that has only one- or two-star reviews? I don’t! You might have millions of 5-star reviews, but new customers will always be curious why someone left the only one-star review. Most people read the poor reviews first, and if there are too many they simply bounce and look at the next search result.

You see, you cannot afford a poor or even mediocre customer experience. Otherwise, your marketing budget is going to be sky-high to continuously win new clients. Winning those clients is going to become increasingly harder as you receive only poor-to-average reviews. You are going to lose the opportunity for the high-valu, repeat sales that could follow.

mean happily rating a customer experience via survey on his phone

How to Measure and Analyze Customer Experience

As with many things, one of the first steps towards improving your customers’ experience is to measure your existing performance. There are several metrics you can use, and it’s a good idea to look at more than one for a more holistic approach.

Customer Effort Score

After your customer has interacted with your business, send out a Customer Effort Survey. This is to measure how easy it was for your customer to achieve their goal. It might be making a purchase, returning an item, booking a room, taking delivery of a product etc. 

Net Promoter Score

The Net Promoter Score reflects customer loyalty. Ask the question “How likely are you to recommend our business/products to a friend?” This metric measures the customers’ overall impression of your business.

Customer Satisfaction Score 

This is used after a specific part of the sales process. It might be used after the order process has been completed or after a complaint has been dealt with. 

Time to Resolution 

This is used to measure customer frustration levels when dealing with issues and complaints. The lower the average score the lower the frustration and the less chance of those damaging one-star reviews.

Asking “Why?”

The most often forgotten question. “Why?” can be asked after all the previous questions. It’s open-ended and collects qualitative data that allows the customer to explain exactly how they feel and why they feel it. It can identify previously unconsidered issues and help greatly in honing your customer experience.

steps to improve customer experience five yellow stars

17 Steps to Improve Customer Experience (CX)

Let’s look at some of the things you can do to improve your customer experience. Some of these may not apply to your business model, others may need to be shifted up or down the list to suit your processes.

1. Determining Existing Customer Profile

You need to know who is already buying what you are selling. Profiling your customers will help you identify their needs. 

For example, a tech-savvy millennial is likely to be fine watching a product tutorial video on TikTok whereas your grandad might need a traditional user manual. Addressing Grandad as a Sir or Mr might be more appropriate whereas a teenager could be more comfortable with their username or handle. 

2. Mapping Existing Customer Journey

Hire someone to run some real purchases through your systems. Start at the very beginning of the process and map the experience right up to the end. Have them make complaints, return goods, change orders, cancel orders, ring your office, email you, write you a letter, go to your showroom etc. Get them to make records of the good, the bad and the ugly. 

Talk to your staff. They will know the pinch points, the repeated complaints, the things that don’t work well and the things that do. Listen to them and record all of the information. 

Think about all of the stakeholders involved. This includes your staff, third party couriers, suppliers, packagers, anyone who is involved in the customer experience. Ask how they impact the customer experience.

Then draw it all in a flowchart. Highlight the nasty bits and the best bits.

3. Envisioning the Ideal Customer Journey

Now draw the ideal customer journey flowchart. You might need to consult people in your customer demographic for their ideas and preferences. 

Think about the different stages in the process and include things like repeat sales or upselling products. Post-sale experience is just as valuable as pre-sale experience. A great post-sale experience can lead to further sales. Sometimes a simple “thank you for your business” note is all it takes. Again, consider all the stakeholders and how they interact to deliver the perfect customer journey. 

Also, consider how automation can help. Compare what you deliver with your competition. You might sell the exact same widget but having a better customer experience will win you the repeat sale. 

4. Measuring Your Current Performance

Benchmark your current performance by collecting data using the customer experience metrics discussed above. Compile the data and use this as the baseline for minimum performance. 

5. Setting Realistic Performance Goals

Now you know your current performance and you have a vision of your ideal customer experience. You can now begin to form a strategy to achieve your ideal. Break it down into small steps. Identify easy wins and major obstacles, and form a priorities list. 

Some changes will be quick to implement, others will have a longer time frame. Set achievable goals and monitor performance regularly. Make sure you stay on track. 

Also factor in things like new technology and scalability. If your customer experience improvements succeed, you need to be ready for a growth in business. Don’t let this expansion detract from customer experience.

6. Optimizing the CX

Now it’s time to start eliminating those pinch points, repeated complaints and the other bad and ugly bits identified in your customer experience mapping. The first thing is to cure the existing ills, as these are often quick wins or “low hanging fruit.” Once you’ve ironed out your existing process, you can start adding stages to the journey or introducing new procedures or technology to boost the customers’ experience.

7. Maintain Good Brand Message

Make sure everything your customers see carries the same brand message. Your message should convey your brand’s values and ethos. It should communicate your core services and products and their purpose and value. All of your copy should be customer-centric and about how you can help them improve their lives. You need to use language that’s appropriate for your target audience demographic. 

8. Using Technology to Help

Some simple technology can help iron out those pinch points. For example, imagine your phone lines are often clogged up with people asking about your store opening hours. A simple Auto Attendant message at the start of the call answering process could give the opening times immediately before then asking them to select which department they want. 

The customer has an immediate answer and is okay to hang up. Your virtual receptionists are free to help other customers with more pressing issues. Chatbots also provide a valuable service answering common questions. Just make sure a human is also on hand to help with advanced issues. 

9. Team Training for Better Customer Support

Train your team. Once you have your ideal customer experience mapped out, you need to convey this to the team. Show them where you are now and where you need to go. Explain the benefits to them (job security, business growth, promotion, bonus etc.). Have them all learn your key company values and principles. 

10. Omnichanneling

Omnichanneling involves combining all of your communication channels into one massive, unified customer experience. Think of how you communicate. It might include some or all the following:

  • Social media
  • Website
  • Shop or retail outlet
  • Online sales platforms like Amazon and eBay
  • Local press
  • Radio
  • Television

It’s likely you already have a multichannel experience. Each channel might have little or no connection with the other channels. 

So, for example, a customer looks at the website, finds a product and locates the nearest store. They trip into town to visit the store and see if the product fits. The product is out of stock and is an end of the line product. The store in the next city has one left but that’s 55 miles away. The customer leaves the store without purchasing, can’t be bothered to drive another 55 miles, goes home and never looks at the site again as “they never have anything I want in stock.” 

If the website was connected to the store’s stock inventory, it would have recommended visiting the other store and a sale is more likely to have occurred.

11. Listening to Staff Feedback

No one likes dealing with angry or frustrated customers. It makes for a bad day at work. Your staff will know the cause of most complaints. Listening to their problems will help you identify sticking points in the customer experience and make the staff feel valued. Don’t just do this once a year like you might for an employee review. Do it all the time. Have a facility to enable all employees to feedback problems and possible solutions. 

This also enables you to monitor how staff feel towards the business. Happy employees = happy customers and vice-versa. 

12. Actively Hunting Customer Feedback

Your customers will not tell you about your mediocre service or products. They will tell you about their terrible experiences with your company. This is very useful as you can ensure it doesn’t happen again. 

They might tell you about the excellent customer experience they had with you. This is very rewarding, and all compliments should be shared with the whole team. 

Not many people, however, leave a review for something average. It doesn’t warrant their time to tell you that you scored 6 out of 10 with them. But this is the feedback that you need. You cannot afford to be average because your competition will out-experience you and win your customers for themselves. 

You must actively seek customer feedback at all parts of the customer journey. Listen to them, understand them and act on their ideas. And then show them that you acted on their ideas. Suddenly they have been listened to, feel valued and have some emotional connection.  

13. Create Emotional Connection with Customers 

The best customer experiences involve the customer making an emotional connection with the business. Emotionally engaged customers are three times more likely to repeat-buy, three times more likely to advocate your business, twice as likely to stay loyal and one third would need a 20% discount to switch brands. So, tap into those emotions and win a customer for life. It could be as simple as sending them a birthday card.

14. Research Competitors to Assess Their Customer Care and Out Care Them

This isn’t rocket science, but it’s amazing how many businesses don’t do competitor research. Buy something from your direct opposition. Map your customer journey with them. What do they do better than you? What do you do better than them?  Now aim to “out care” them.

woman on phone reviewing customer ratings

15. Regularly Monitor Performance

Keep regular tabs on your performance. Build a review process into your operations playbook. Make sure you use the results of the reviews. Compile the data and analyze it. Find patterns and trends, and use that knowledge to enhance your customer journey.

16. Review Performance and Further Adjust the Customer Journey

Go back to the goals you set and review the changes made in the customer experience.

  • What feedback have you received about the changes? 
  • Do you need to review the experience? 
  • Has there been an external influence or natural progression that means you need to shift the focus of the experience? 

Maybe you have a new product with a different target audience demographic or maybe technology has improved, and it offers you a chance to exploit the development. 

17. Regularly Assess Your Customer Demographics to Identify Any Changes

It is a part of natural development that people change with age. Your business will also change with time. 

For example, it’s now common to find 40-year-old online gamers, a demographic that barely existed 10 years ago. Even more surprising, the percentage of gamers aged 55 – 64 grew by 32% from 2019 to 2021. So, if you don’t keep tabs on your customer demographic you could miss out on a massive share of the pie.

Last Thoughts About Ways to Improve Customer Experience

On July 5th, 1994, some guy started selling books from a garage in Washington. On July 21st, 2021, Jeff Bezos blasted off into space aboard his own rocket and had his “best day ever.” On landing, Bezos thanked “every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer. Because you guys paid for all this.”

Love him or hate him, Bezos has got to where he is today by focusing on customer experience. He started with a mission to deliver “any book, anywhere on earth.” He patented the “1-Click” technology that lets customers purchase online with one mouse button click. His loyalty program includes two-day free shipping on any order. His “Prime” now has 100 million members. Amazon now delivers on Sundays so you can be home to take the delivery. During the pandemic, Amazon said its sales grew 37% compared to the same period in 2019, to $96.1 billion, and profit increased 197% to $6.3 billion.

Throughout all this Amazon has been driven by Bezos’s intense focus on the customers’ experience. As he said:

“The most important single thing is to focus obsessively on the customer. Our goal is to be earth’s most customer-centric company.” – Jeff Bezos

Well, it seems to have worked alright for Jeff!

Categories: Small Business

5 Ways to Record VoIP Calls + Why You Should

The best way to record VoIP calls is to use an app-based virtual private branch exchange (PBX). Most virtual PBX providers (e.g., NetLines) offer call recording as one of their services. Other call recording methods include:

  • port mirroring using a switch and server
  • cloud-based recording apps
  • using existing software
  • using dedicated software

In this post, we explore the “why” and “how” of recording VoIP phone calls. We also investigate the ethics and law regarding recording phone calls and the cost of making such recordings. We conclude with a prediction about the future of cloud-based, VoIP call recording.

Why Record Cloud / VoIP Calls?

Companies record VoIP calls for a plethora of reasons. Modern VoIP technology makes recording calls extremely easy. More and more companies are doing it and finding several benefits, including:

Monitoring and maintaining the quality of sales and support service calls. The recordings can be a valuable tool in staff training and procedure development. For example, listening to new sales line staff to ensure they have received the correct training.

Protecting the company from legal difficulties when forming verbal agreements with customers and suppliers. For example, recording the conversation when agreeing to a new customer price structure in return for a minimum order value. It can also be used to ensure compliance with industry-specific laws.

Recording and transcribing meeting minutes. There are more virtual meetings taking place than ever before. It can be beneficial to have a transcription of the meeting to email to participants after the meeting. Participants can agree on the content and keep a record in the same way minutes used to be taken. Auto-transcription of recorded calls is becoming very cost-effective, fast, and accurate as voice recognition technology improves.

Responding to customer complaints more effectively. The customer service team can listen to any complaint calls. This can help them identify the exact problem and help them fix it. The calls act as a record of repeat issues that can identify procedure or product problems. The recording can also be used in defense if the complaint is serious.

Call Recording Ethics and the Law

When it comes to recording phone calls, the law can be difficult to interpret. In most states, it is not illegal to record phone conversations. The legality of recording normally depends on the consent of one or both parties (California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Washington). Therefore, automated attendant scripts often include a notice about recording the call. The caller can then end the call if they do not want to be recorded.

Best practices and ethics generally dictate that it is polite to notify callers at the start of a conversation if you are going to record the call. Most people use an automated message at the start of the call. This is difficult if you are using a Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) line. It is extremely easy if you are using a cloud phone service such as NetLines. By notifying the caller of your intent, you give them an option to opt-out by ending the call. If they continue the call, it is seen as giving their consent.

We recommend you check the legal intricacies of your state with your attorney before setting up a call recording system.

Different Ways to Record Virtual Calls

Gone are the days of huge tape recorders, masses of wires, and pressing the big record button at the start of each phone call. Things have moved forward considerably! New VoIP technology means effortless recording and a plethora of post-recording options including automatic transcription and cloud-based audio file storage. The actual recording method depends on your budget and your needs.

Server and Switch

Also known as port mirroring, the server and switch method is now a little out of date. The engineer sets up a port mirroring switch that detects VoIP real-time traffic. Once detected, this traffic is mirrored and sent to a recording server. This server can be onsite in your IT room or off-site supplied by your provider. The hardware takes up space and is difficult to install and configure. It is difficult to upscale and now being replaced by newer technology.

On the plus side, your existing data switch may already have a port mirroring facility. Adding a simple single quad-core processor and storage device may prove cost-effective. This set up works well for up to around 200 simultaneous calls. If there are more, you will need to split the mirrored data between two servers.

So, this system may suit the already established small business.

Cloud-Based Recording App

Hosted recording services often still use a port mirroring switch. The switch mirrors the data and diverts it to the offsite cloud server. This system can be beneficial for those wanting to record calls sporadically. It may not be economical in time, money, or space to set up an in-house server. Paying a simple subscription to the recording service is a simple and cost-effective solution.

As with most such solutions, convenience compromises functionality and quality. Offsite storage can limit access and functionality. The reliance on port mirroring technology and an off-site server can lead to a reduction in quality. Hosted recording can be expensive, especially when it comes to upscaling.

Using Existing PC Software

For the one-off or very infrequent call recording, existing PC software may suffice. Why spend a significant amount of money on something you only need once a month? If you are this type of user, you probably use a free domestic type application to make calls. Examples include free to use versions of Skype and Teams. For example, with Skype, it is as simple as pressing the “record” button. The resulting audio file is then sent to all participants at the end of the call.

Such apps are fine for the occasional general business call but there are limitations when compared to the paid-for alternatives. Recording quality is low and only available in mono. The PC that initiates the recording, records the received audio from the other caller(s). The recording increases the required bandwidth. This can lead to call instability and reduced quality.

So, using existing software may be suitable for the occasional recording of a virtual business meeting, but is not suitable for anything much larger.

Using Dedicated PC Software

Local recording clients let you record your VoIP app (e.g., Skype or Zoom) calls directly to your device memory. You download the software or app to your device (computer or smartphone). You start the app before the call and set up the software to record. When you start your VoIP call, the recording client starts recording the audio and video. It stores the files in your device storage so you can then open the files later to relisten to the conversation or watch the video. Most recording client’s software offer a range of facilities to help you manage the recorded calls.

This solution is ideal for people who only need to record a few conversations per week. They might not want to have a monthly contract for external storage or a potential security problem with offsite storage. The data is stored on the local device ensuring access and control over its security.

There are however some operating problems with this technique. The software must be reset each time a call is made or received. This limits the use of large call volumes. The cost can be prohibitive when it comes to upscaling because new “seats” for the software may have to be procured for any new members of staff.

VoIP Service Provider Feature

The most recent innovation in VoIP call recording is to use an application based virtual Private Branch Exchange (PBX). These apps turn your mobile phone into a complete business phone system. There is no hardware, no setup costs, no extra room needed in your IT room nor any problems with upscaling. In fact, it’s easier than ever to get a second number on your smart phone and additional lines and extensions for your employees with VoIP phone numbers. The monthly costs are minimal and offered on a month-by-month basis or yearly contract.

Calls can be recorded automatically or at the push of a button on the app. The recording is stored on a remote cloud (no need for an extra storage device) or an in-house server. The files can easily be accessed from your smartphone and used for transcription, quality control, or training.

This cutting-edge technology is quickly becoming the go-to solution for many small and large businesses.

VoIP Call Recording Service Costs

Recording service costs depend on your requirements. If you want to record a one-off call, then you already can record for free using existing software such as Skype. These free methods are not suitable for larger users. Alternatives include the old-style port mirroring technology, but this can cost several thousands of dollars to set up. The remote cloud-based storage apps still require expensive switchgear and can prove to be expensive for high volume users.

The most economical call recording method is the mobile app-driven virtual PBX. Call recording is often an included feature of such services and requires no additional hardware.

The Future of VoIP Recording

The near future of VoIP recording is still going to be a mixed bag of old and new technology. People are still going to be using port mirroring and in-house servers for the next few years. In the near future, as these solutions become obsolete, more businesses will move over to the cost-effective and feature-loaded mobile app-based virtual phone system. These services have a huge capacity for call recording and offer value for money and convenience.

Categories: Productivity, Small Business

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