Six Steps for Saying Farewell Gracefully

Say Farewell GracefullyWhen a client wants to bid farewell, it pays to be professional. The challenge for many business people is that emotions get in the way of their better judgement. Frequently, feelings of anger and resentment cause otherwise good people to behave irrationally which is bad for business. To avoid the pitfalls of a poorly managed client departure, here are six basic steps to follow:

  1. Ask probing questions to learn why they are leaving
  2. Express regret for failing to meet their needs
  3. Offer to correct the situation to determine if they are willing to give you another chance
  4. If they’re determined to leave, cooperate fully with the transition
  5. Express appreciation for their past business
  6. Keep in touch

Chances are good your client is leaving because they’ve grown dissatisfied with your services on some level. This feedback can be hard to hear, but you need to glean what lessons you can from their feedback, and then use that information to improve upon your products/services where possible.

Whenever you fall short of the mark in serving a customer, your best course of action is to acknowledge your shortcomings and apologize. “I’m sorry” is often all that a client wants to hear. Along with an apology, let them know how you will work to avoid making that mistake again.

If apologies won’t help, then it is best to work with your client to transition smoothly to a new service provider. Indulging in petty behavior toward your client or the new vendor only serves to reinforce a negative perception about your company, and reduces any chance that your former client will return to you for more work down the road. It also leaves a bad impression with your competitor, giving them fuel to use against you in the marketplace.

While it may be unpleasant, losing a client to a competitor is never justification for abandoning basic business etiquette. Instead, take the high road during the separation transition. By maintaining your integrity, you will preserve your reputation, and leave the door open for clients to return at a future date.

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Remove Purchasing Obstacles to Increase Sales

This article topic may seem like a no-brainer. Yet, I often find that many businesses fail to embrace this very basic philosophy. To illustrate the point, I will share the outcomes of two recent shopping excursions.

Excursion #1

I entered a store with my two sons in tow. Drawn in by a sale, I was greeted by a friendly customer service rep. The affable sales person, noting that I had my sons with me, engaged my sons in an activity which enabled me to shop undisturbed. My sons were happy for the attention. I was happy with the bargains I found. My sales person was happy with the positive remarks I shared about her with her manager, as well as the credit for the sales. It was a happy outcome all around.

Excursion #2

I entered another store hunting for bargains. Once again, my sons were with me. I was greeted by a clerk. Yet, despite selling various items for children, this individual made my sons feel unwelcome. Rather than engaging them or redirecting their energy, the customer service rep scolded my sons for “touching things” and in general made me feel uncomfortable. The end result was that I grabbed a few items and got out of the store as quickly as possible–a less than satisfactory outcome for everyone.

Marketing Lesson

Between the two excursions, there was little difference in my sons’ behavior. Generally well-mannered, they are boisterous boys of 8 and 10 who like to run around. While I would prefer not to shop with them,  the reality is that sometimes that is just what I have to do to get my errands done. In both of these scenarios, my children represented a potential obstacle to making a purchase. In example #1, the clerk helped to remove the obstacle which allowed me to make my purchases. As a result, I purchased more. Whereas, in example #2, the clerk’s actions only enhanced my awareness of the obstacle. As a result, I felt pressured to leave quickly and spent significantly less.

While this anecdote is about retail shopping experiences, the take away is not exclusively for retailers. Every business, regardless of target market, can benefit from this lesson. To improve sales, make sure that you and your staff are doing your best to remove whatever barriers your clients may be facing in making purchases. Of course, their challenges will vary. But by taking the time to understand their decision making process, and helping to eliminate those challenges, your business will benefit from increased sales, improved client relationships, as well as repeat business and referrals. (Any guesses where I will be spending more time shopping in the future?)

Tanya Bamford Presenting Marketing Seminar on Wed. 2/19

If you are a small business owner in southeastern Pennsylvania looking to improve your marketing results, you will want to attend this Lunch & Learn event being hosted by the Lower Gwynedd Business Association (LGBA). The seminar will take place at the Spring House Tavern in Spring House, PA on Wednesday, February 19th. Admission is only $10 and includes a two-option luncheon. Proceeds benefit the LGBA. Tanya Bamford Presents Marketing Seminar for LGBA

I will be presenting 14 strategies for improving marketing results, from creating a SMART marketing plan, to building and mining your contact database. Click on this flyer for more details. Please note: seating is limited to 60 participants. Registration has been brisk, with 44 seats reserved already. In short, we expect the event to sell out. If you are interested in attending, do not delay in reserving your seat by contacting David Bergey at Valleygreen Flowers and Gifts: (215) 628-3550.

Business Boosting Tips for Inclement Weather

In response to the extended stretch of foul weather we have been experiencing in southeastern Pennsylvania, we have prepared a list of five helpful business boosters. Quick and easy to implement, these ideas are designed to enhance your brand and improve sales during this very challenging period. small business marketing tips for periods of inclement weather

Let’s work together to help our local business community pull through this snowpocalypse. Please share these tips with all of your contacts in social media. If you have additional ideas to share, please feel free to post a comment below.

What an honor to be honored

Today, I had the good fortune to be recognized at the PennSuburban Chamber of Commerce’s Committee Appreciation Breakfast that took place at the Peter Becker Community.

Tanya Bamford honored with award, Andy Szekely, Greg O'Brien, Pam Kelly, PSCC Awards

From left to right honorees Andy Szekely, Tanya Bamford, and Greg O’Brien pose with chamber president, Pam Kelly, for a photo at the PSCC Committee Appreciation Breakfast.

The purpose of the event was to honor the contributions of the chamber’s many volunteers and recognize a few committee chairs who have recently stepped down from their posts, myself included.

From 2010 to 2013, I served as the Chair of the Small Business Committee (SBC). I have often said that the chamber played an integral part in my business success. If I were to be more specific, I would have to credit my participation on the SBC as being the most significant. By donating a small amount of time each month to the committee, my business has benefited greatly. I have been given opportunities to develop strategic business partnerships with other committee members, establish my credentials as a speaker, gain valuable exposure for my business, and generate revenue. Furthermore, it was through my efforts on the committee that I caught the attention of the Board of Directors, who recognized my company with the 2010 Small Business of the Year Award and then subsequently invited me to serve on the Board of Directors. Suffice it to say, I have seen a strong return on my investment in chamber membership.

As someone who is more accustomed to promoting the awards of others, being the honoree today felt somewhat uncomfortable. Perhaps the reason for my discomfort lies with feeling that I should somehow be honoring the chamber for all it has done for me. That said, I intend to proudly display my plaque in the office. Many thanks to Pam Kelly, our chamber president, for this award. And, to my fellow SBC members, and all of our other committee volunteers, thank you for your efforts on behalf of the chamber. I look forward to many more years as a member of this dynamic organization.

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