Luce Associates Blog Header

Archive for 'Chris Clark'

Every direct seller knows the key to success is recognition.  That recognition often takes place onstage at a Leadership Conference and/or National Convention.  However, while most agree that doing recognition is important, not everyone understands how to do recognition well.  It all begins with good organization and preparation.

Here’s a checklist I often use to help make sure everything goes smoothly and nothing “slips through the cracks.”

Offstage:

  • Compile and finalize all recognition at the office prior to departure
  • Triple check everything (using three different people)
  • Create a recognition (reader) list for each recognition.  Make sure pages are numbered, the name of the recognition is clearly spelled out at the top of the page, and pronunciations of all names are checked.
  • If it’s numbered recognition, the list should be highest number (10) with a build to lowest (1)
  • The lists should be prepared in large type so it is easy to read under bright lights and other possible distractions
  • Have lists in order of the conference schedule

Onstage:

  • Once on location, rehearse each recognition.  Make sure you address each of these issues:
    • How the recipients come onto the stage.  “Up the side steps, down the center steps” is probably the most common path, since this allows those being recognized to keep their front and sides to audience.
    • Where the recipients will be and who will place them.
    • How the awards will be presented.  Usually one person (behind the scenes) sets up the awards and gives them to a corporate person, usually the sales leader, who then hands the award to the presenter (Founder, CEO, etc.)
    • Where #1 will be placed, usually center stage.
    • Will a photo be taken?  If so, who will be included in photo, and where will they stand?
    • How will the recipients leave the stage
    • If parade recognition (up one way and down another way)
      • All of the above plus:
        • Have a skirted rolling table to distribute the award or have trays (black, silver, acrylic) with the items ready for presentation
        • Set your rolling table backstage, or if that’s impractical, cover it and set it onstage.  Awards should be arranged in order of presentation.

 The absolute worst thing that can happen at any direct sales event is recognition that goes wrong.  Preparation and organization are the best ways to ensure that doesn’t happen to you!

Chris Clark

Chris Clark is consistently dedicated to the success of our business.  No project is too big or small for her to tackle and she completes each with professionalism, timeliness, and enthusiasm.    We always enjoy working with Chris.

luceandassociates.com

Largely out of necessity, most startup companies perform all functions of running their business, including picking and packing orders.  That’s a good thing, because this function can be one of the most time consuming and costly pieces of operating the business.  But it can quickly turn into a costly and time-consuming bottle neck during busy times, like the end of month, holidays, etc. 

It doesn’t have to be that way!  A little thought and planning can go a long way in streamlining your pick & pack process, and protecting your budget at the same time. Your goal should be to keep the process as simple as possible, so it requires minimal training and little knowledge about your company.  That way, when those busy times hit you can easily bring in temporary help, and keep your experienced and knowledgeable staff working at their regular jobs.  So here are a few thoughts in keep in mind:

 1- NUMBERS:  Everyone can understand a number, so arrange your products by numbers, not names, categories or other verbal descriptions.

 2-SHELVING: Put the product on shelves (preferably flow racks) that can be filled from behind. This allows picking to continue while the product is being filled.  It also helps to put the shelves in a half circle or horseshoe so the packing station is at the end AND the beginning of the picking line. That way there’s no wasted time going from one end of the line to the other.

 3-ACCESSORIES: Have a rolling cart or a conveyor rack to move the product through the picking line.  And put all materials necessary to pack an order together on one packing station.  Doing these things not only saves time & money, it avoids injuries. It’s also a good idea to create a separate weigh station (if not part of your packing station) to easily and quickly create labels and manifests.

 These few steps will result in quicker, more efficient picking and packing of products.  And that means less labor costs, inefficiencies and bottlenecks for you!

Chris Clark

Chris Clark worked her magic with our warehouse as well as our Consultant Care team. Chris had a hands-on approach and used her extensive experience to guide us towards what worked best for our particular business. Chris had great follow up, always checking back to be sure we were comfortable with any changes and to answer questions. I felt I had a true partner in the changes we made and that Chris was as excited about our success as we were. I would recommend her to anyone in the Direct Selling field! - Pat Difani, Private Quarters, Director of Sales Operations

luceandassociates.com

Starting the new year is the time to start fresh: new goals, new growth, and new people.  Anything is possible.  So how does that happen?  Start NOW – get the momentum going!

Bookings are easier when people are chatting and laughing in the company of friends.  Recruiting is easier when people watch how much fun you’re having (and notice how much you’re selling!).  So get people together NOW.

Lead by example!  Your team members will take their cue from you.  If you get busy right away, your team will too.  The momentum of your entire organization begins with your activity. NOW!!!

Below are a few momentum starters:

  1. Contact your previous hosts to a hostess appreciation party and ask them to bring a friend
  2. Contact your best customers to host a party as early in January as possible
  3. Hold an open house (in your home, community center, office, etc.)
  4. Have a party with your team with each team member inviting their hosts and presenting their favorite product and why it’s their favorite

2011 Momentum – Success Starts With You NOW.

Chris Clark

Chris Clark is consistently dedicated to the success of our business.  No project is too big or small for her to tackle and she completes each with professionalism, timeliness, and enthusiasm.    We always enjoy working with Chris.  - 

Marcia Negro, President-Essential Bodywear

luceandassociates.com

image credit: manoj8555

 

Last week I wrote about the 3 little words—“Did you know”– that can help improve your customer service.  I’d like to conclude this series by sharing the one word that can make just as big, if not a bigger difference. 

Drum roll please!  And that one word is… LISTEN!

As customers, we want to know someone is listening.  The easiest way a Customer Service Rep can do that is by summarizing the customer’s inquiry, something like this:

CUSTOMER SERVICE REP:  “Let me make sure I have this right.  You say your order, number _____, was short one item, item number _____.  Is that right?”

This lets the customer know they’re really being heard and the Customer Service Rep understands the situation correctly. Once that is established, the exchange should be successfully resolved with something like:

CUSTOMER SERVICE REP:  “I see that item was shipped separately on November 1 and is scheduled for delivery today, so that should solve our problem.  Does it?”

This approach is especially effective If the customer inquiry is made on a phone call rather than email.  Summarizing the customer’s inquiry allows the Customer Service Rep to take control of the call and get the information needed to resolve the situation in an efficient manner.

The use of questions (even if the answer is apparent) and repetition is key.  The Customer Service Rep should say things like:

  • May I ask you a question?
  • Let me make sure I understand…
  • Okay, so what I’m hearing is…
  • Do I have that right?

But what if the inquiry does come via email?  In that case, include a summary in the first line of the email response.  This confirms to the customer the Customer Service Rep understands the inquiry.  It also eliminates the customers’ frustration when they don’t think their inquiries were understood.

We all want to know we’ve been heard – customers and Customer Service Reps.   Listening… and letting your customers know they’re being listened to… is the way to do it!

Chris Clark is the real deal.  Whether you’re a veteran or a rookie in direct-selling, she can help you take customer service to the next level.  And she’s one of those rare consultants who won’t try to shoe-horn your contact center into some cookie-cutter that garners more applause on the lecture circuit than “on the floor”. You can count on Chris to listen and ask lots of questions before she offers any advice.  And when she does offer advice, it’s based on an appreciation for what you have that’s a competitive advantage-and how you can kick it up to notches unknown! – John Cronce, Director Jockey Person to Person

luceandassociates.com/chris

So far we’ve covered four basic steps to improve customer service.  This week I’d like to share another tip–one of the most effective, and easiest, ways to reinforce what’s cool, controversial or just plain current. 

It’s simply this: create a section of the newsletter or weekly/monthly communication entitled “Did You Know.”  The title itself arouses the curiosity of the reader.  They’ll read to find out what they do or don’t (or should) know.

This section can be as simple as:

  • Outlining the most recent promotion
  • Providing the most frequent questions with the correct answers
  • Offering step by step instructions to clarify a process
  • Reinforcing the information to include in emails (id#, name)
  • Re-emphasizing the correct process to return product

It’s important to keep the section short and simple.  Make it quick to read, simple to understand and easy to retain.

Where does the content come from for this “Did You Know” section? Your Customer Service Reps! They’re the best source because they have to answer the questions.  So ask your Customer Service Reps :

  • What are the most frequently asked questions you received this week?
  • What was the most difficult situation you had to handle this week?

Then be sure to keep the responses to these questions.  They may be useful to include in other communications.

This simple inclusion will provide immediate results with the Salesforce and the Customer Service Reps. Who knew!?

 
 

Chris Clark

Chris Clark worked her magic with our warehouse as well as our Consultant Care team. Chris had a hands-on approach and used her extensive experience to guide us towards what worked best for our particular business. Chris had great follow up, always checking back to be sure we were comfortable with any changes and to answer questions. I felt I had a true partner in the changes we made and that Chris was as excited about our success as we were. I would recommend her to anyone in the Direct Selling field! – Pat Difani, Private Quarters, Director of Sales Operations

http://luceandassociates.com

In the last three blogs I’ve covered basic steps to improving Customer Service to Your Salesforce.  Today, I’d like to suggest another simple action that will improve your Customer Service — using a task reminder.

We all have our own reminder system.  Whether it’s a To Do List, a message on your phone, a pop-up when you log in to your computer or Outlook, they all do the job.

For instance, most salesforce software packages have the ability to keep an inquiry open or closed.  Often, they have the ability to prioritize, assign and distribute as well. These are all pretty standard features. 

But to work well as a task reminder, you need to be sure your software has the ability to “track all inquiries.”  This system provides visibility to everyone in the company and allows everyone to access the information.  If your system does not have the capability to provide a task reminder, don’t despair.  There are many software programs available to you.  In fact, you probably already have one on your computer – Outlook.  Here’s how it works as task reminder.

First identify a task your want to be reminded of.  For example, let’s say your customer was expecting a delivery today and you identify through the carrier the package is scheduled for delivery at 2:30.

Task reminder is entered for:

  • 3pm for you to check with carrier package has been delivered AND
  • 3:15pm you enter a task to contact customer to confirm package has been received.

Once that task has been completed, enter result, close and save.

 Once the task has been identified, enter the information within the system.  Below are steps to follow with Outlook:

  • Click on View
  • Click on Task
  • Double Click in window “Click here to add a new Task”
  • In “Subject” window enter a short description of task
  • Select Due Date
  • Select Start Date
  • Select applicable Status
  • Select appropriate priority
  • Select “Reminder” date and time
  • In the large window below enter as much detail as is needed to complete the task
  • Select applicable “Categories”, this allows the task to be grouped with similar tasks
  • Click on Save and Close
  • The Task now appears as open
  • If the Task is past due it will appear in red
  • Once you have completed the task, enter the result, save and close

 You would follow the same process with other programs and below are the 7 steps:

  1.  Date and time stamp the initial inquiry
  2. Mark the inquiry for action
  3. Identify that action (contact carrier, sent request to product development, assigned task to supervisor, etc.)
  4. Date and time stamp when response expected
  5. Date and time stamp follow-up with customer with status (within 24 hours)
  6. Date and time stamp follow-up with action results
  7. Work on the task 2 or 3 times a day until complete

Please note that all tasks for customer service have a priority of one. But, if it helps to expedite those items requiring more time, then a priority system should be identified.  Most systems allow you to prioritize (as shown above in Outlook).

We all hate it when a simple task “slips through a crack” and becomes a problem, or worse, an embarrassment.  A task reminder is the simplest way to be sure that doesn’t happen.

Chris Clark

Chris Clark is consistently dedicated to the success of our business.  No project is too big or small for her to tackle and she completes each with professionalism, timeliness, and enthusiasm.    We always enjoy working with Chris. Marcia Negro-Essential Bodywear

In my last two posts I talked about how proactive outbound calls and Customer Service should ALWAYS be the last approval of ANY communication going to the field. So what’s next?

Respond to each inquiry within 24 hours. Whether that inquiry is by email, voicemail, twitter, facebook, etc., respond within 24 hours. The response doesn’t have to be the answer to the inquiry but it has to be a response. Ideally it is the answer, but if it’s not that’s okay. At least the customer knows their message was received and is not being ignored.

The response can be something as simple as “just want to let you know I’m verifying the information you requested.” The Customer just needs to know he/she is important to you, that your received their inquiry and you’re working on getting an answer.

It really all boils down to having a process, and making sure everyone follows it. Part of this response process should be that EVERY Customer Service Representative should be able to answer the inquiry. You don’t want the customer to have to explain the situation with each contact. In order for every Customer Service Representative to answer every inquiry, some processes may have to be implemented.

  1. Record EVERY inquiry in a program or system that every Customer Service Representative can access and update.
  2. Cross train all Customer Service Representatives on all aspects of the business. This is ideal, everyone in the Customer Service Department is an expert.
  3. Direct calls and emails to specialized groups (orders, compensation, promotions, etc.). These groups would be identified by the most frequent inquiries from the field. However, it would be best if EVERY Customer Service Representative can answer every inquiry.

Each of the processes will enable immediate response to inquiries. However, if the response is not immediate, be sure to contact the Customer within 24 hours of receipt of their inquiry.

Obviously, when customers contact Customer Service, they’re looking for answers. But people understand answers can take time. So the first thing you should always give your customers when they ask for answers is, A) the assurance they’ve been heard and B) someone is doing something about their inquiry.

Chris Clark

“Chris’s work for us is highly strategic, always thorough and never formulaic.  She also provides a welcome touch of humor and grace.” Learn more about how Chris can help your company at http://www.luceandassociates.com/Chris-Clark.html

Is your customer service department sometimes the “bad guy?”  Does your sales force continually complain about customer service?

Whether those impressions are real, imagined or somewhere in between, you can do something about them. Over the next few weeks I’ll share simple, proven ways to combat the negative image Customer Service Departments sometimes develop.

As mentioned previously, the easiest and most effective technique is proactive outbound calls.  Okay, let’s say you’re already doing that.  The next best thing you can do is to make Customer Service part of the process in communicating to the field.  Simply put, Customer Service should ALWAYS be the last approval of ANY communication going to the field.

Why?  Simple.  They are the experts. And you want to make sure everyone is aware of that fact. There are many good reasons for this, but here are my top 3:

  1. Positioning your Customer Service people as the experts not only makes sense, it takes the heat off of everyone else!
  2. Customer Service communicates with the customer/sales representative on a constant basis, so they already know what the field is thinking.
  3. Since your Customer Service Department people are the ones who will end up explaining and answering whatever questions arise regarding communications, keeping them in the loop saves everyone time.

The steps to include Customer Service in the communication process would be something like this:

  1. A Customer Service representative should be included in all planning meetings (promotions, events, operations).  That way, he/she can get a clear understanding as to what the communication is wanting to accomplish (increase recruiting, increase sales, an explanation of process).
  2. The Customer Service representative should then work very closely with the communication creator.  This teamwork will expedite the process and possibly allow the communication to be distributed for approval in the final form the first it’s circulated.
  3. Once the communication is final, the Customer Service representative should have a meeting with all Customer Service representatives to review the communication. At this point, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and responses are created.  Again, this process assures that the Customer Service Department is ultimate authority.
  4. Once the communication is released to the field, Customer Service should track each inquiry regarding that communication.  This will allow the entire company to see the result of the communication and how something similar should be handled in the future.

Including Customer Service in the communication process is the best way to position them the experts, and that helps everyone- your home office team, your sales force and your customers!

Look for more quick tips to improving customer service in the near future!

 

Chris Clark

Chris Clark is an invaluable addition to any direct sales team, especially when it comes to the many issues that can quickly surround administration of customer service, compensation, inventory management and order processing.  Learn more about how Chris can help your company at http://www.luceandassociates.com/Chris-Clark.html

by Chris Clark

customer_serviceIs your customer service department the “bad guy?”  Does your sales force continually complain about customer service? Whether those impressions are real, imagined or somewhere in between, you can do something about them. Over the next few weeks I’ll share simple, proven ways to combat the negative image Customer Service Departments sometimes develop.

Let’s start with one of the easiest and most effective techniques-proactive outbound calls. These are calls to your sales force members that your company initiates; they’re not in response to any incoming calls or existing issues.  They’re the corporate equivalent of “I just called to say hi.” After all, why should the only time your sales force has contact with Customer Service be when something’s wrong?  Proactive outbound calls are one of the quickest, easiest ways to support your sales force and your company.

A typical call might begin something like this:

“Hi, this is (name) from Customer Service at (company name).  This is simply a courtesy call to see how you’re doing.  Is there any way we can help you in your business today?”

The key at this point is listening, and letting the person on the other end know you’re listening.  Let him or her speak, then summarize and repeat back to them exactly what they just said.  For instance, if your sales person mentions deliveries have been slow of late, your Customer Service rep might says something like:

“What I hear you saying is deliveries have been slower than usual recently,and that’s affecting your business.  Is that about right?”

Don’t promise quick fixes.  Do promise the issue will be looked into, and thank the sales person for their input. That’s enough.

I recommend each Customer Service rep make two proactive outbound calls a day. You’ll find your sales force will appreciate the fact that they’re simply being listened to, and they’re not out there on their own.

Look for more quick tips to improving customer service in the near future!

chrisclark-headshotChris Clark is an invaluable addition to any direct sales team, especially when it comes to the many issues that can quickly surround administration of customer service, compensation, inventory management and order processing.  Learn more about how Chris can help your company at http://www.luceandassociates.com/Chris-Clark.html.

Photo Credit: Seattle Municipal Archives