Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Why Buffering May be Bad for our Local Economy

How many of you suffer from the spinning dial, interrupted downloads and otherwise bad internet service?  Do you know that high speed communications technology access is now ranked at #5 on the list of things companies are looking for when making a site location decision?

Read the latest from Area Development Magazine about this critical site selection factor and consider joining the Chamber’s efforts to promote enhanced internet connectivity in our community.

      -Bill Cork

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Retail Customer Service Tips for the Holidays

A significant number of our Chamber members are retailers and this is their time of the year to shine.  Shoppers from all over the region descend on Texarkana to purchase Christmas and holiday gifts for friends and loved ones and to enjoy our Texarkana hospitality.

Barbara Wold, an international consultant specializing in the retail sector, has these suggestions for our retailers.  Many of the tips will work for other business sectors as well. Here is what she has to say about retail customer service…

•  Having all salespeople read company ads, catalogs, literature, Facebook, Twitter and Blogs before customers come in with questions and inquiries. An uninformed salesperson is bad for business.  Also check out everything about the competition.
•  Establishing dress codes for employees and enforcing these dress codes. (Even if there is a uniform, clean, neat, etc.) Employees are the representatives of the business and should project the image the business wants to convey.
•  Greeting everyone who walks through the door.  Coming up with different greetings -- so customers don't hear the same greeting over and over when shopping in the store.
•  Making it comfortable for customers to shop.  Adjusting the thermostat because customers may be wearing coats and the staff can wear a sweater. Perhaps a rack for customer's coats and a place to check their packages.  Offering the customer a basket or shopping tote makes it easy for them to buy more.
•  Having employees identify themselves when answering the phone. This adds a professional touch and provides the caller with a person to identify with on the other end of the line. 
•  Cleaning up the cash-wrap area as-you-go and putting everything in its place. Customers are concerned about transaction accuracy and your services, i.e., shipping, if this area is a mess with clutter, drinks and food.
•  Listening, really listening to customers. If you don't really listen and show customers the wrong merchandise -- they will assume you don't have what they are looking for and leave.
•  Having all cash registers open when the store is busy.  An extra staff member can mingle with the customers in line -- making additional suggestions.
•  Getting everyone on board.  Ensuring that everyone in the organization understands what the winning advantage is and what their role is in supporting it.
•  Getting to know what other merchandise and services are offered around town.  Keep customers shopping in your community by knowing what all is available.  The customers will be thrilled, always come to you first and will let the other businesses know you sent them.
•  Build your database and use social media.  Use email marketing and social media platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.  Keep your brand in front of your customers at all times.
•  Stocking and cleaning during hours when the store is not open.  Doing these chores when the store is open is inconsiderate to shoppers and doesn't convey a professional image. Instead have the staff mingle with the customers and help with suggestions.

LET'S STOP . . .
•  Trying to get a head start on store closing times. Vacuuming while the store is still open is rude and should be done after the business closes.
•  Helping phone inquiries while other customers are in the store waiting to be helped. The customer in the store should take precedence.  Have someone besides the cashier answer the phone.
•  Running out of sale items or advertised specials early on the first day of the promotion. A product should not be advertised unless there is sufficient stock. 
•  Using the store phone for personal calls.  

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

When should you post to Social Media?

I found the attached article fascinating about the effectiveness of posting to social media.  It got me to thinking about my own habits for reviewing information on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. and the Chamber’s ability to communicate effectively with our membership.  We are going to make some changes.  Maybe you should, too.