Just One

I came across a short post on the SAMBA blog.  It's so short I'll put it here in full:

What if you only had one customer?
How closely would you listen to them?
How fast would you respond to them?
Would they be satisfied?  Happy?  Thrilled?
How special would they feel?
Would they recommend you?

My first reaction was this one customer would be the most important person in my world.  They would have to be – which I think is SAMBA's point.  So what about all of your customers… if you asked these questions about them individually, what would the answers be like?

In most cases, it's probably impossible to engineer your business to run and respond as if each customer was your only customer.  However, what can you do to make each customer feel like they are the only one?

I don't know about you, but I enjoy reading stories about companies doing innovative and creative things to impress or endear their customers.  Southwest Airlines has always done some crazy - and great - things for their customers.)  So what are your stories?  How do you "go above and beyond"?  Put them in the comments section.
Can't wait to read 'em!

Posted by George Page, Communication Specialist

How to Reduce Background Noise While On a Conference Call

I've been on many conference calls with technical difficulties. Either the PowerPoint presentation wouldn't load on the web conference, or the teleconference organizer put all of us on mute and then asked for questions (and couldn't figure out how to get everyone off of mute), or someone tried to stand outside by a freeway and listen to the call on their cell phone making the call practically inaudible. You know how it goes. We've all been there.

A few ways to reduce noise if you're facilitating or listening in on a conference call and the call will not be muted.

1. Call from a quiet location. Please don't try and join a teleconference from a room or place where there are televisions on, cars driving by, copiers running, folks typing on keyboards or talking on the phone, or in a public place with a lot of activity. This can be difficult if you work in a cubicle, so try to think about the best way to take part in a teleconference if that's your locale.

2. Avoid cell phones and speakerphones. If you have no choice, utilize the mute button. Unless you expect to talk through most of the meeting, it will be easier for other participants to hear if you take the responsibility of muting and unmuting yourself throughout the call. Usually this is not a complicated task, just a simple button on and off.

3. Use quality headsets to avoid a "tinny" sound. Avoid low-quality cordless phones as they sometimes create a buzzing background. Most offices provide quality headsets, but if you're attempting to call into a teleconference from your home or from another location, take care to find the best quality phone you can find.

4. Don't use the hold button if your phone system has built in background music or announcements. Just use the mute button instead. That way, you can hear what's going on, but no one can hear you. If you have to take another call, just leave the teleconference to do so. And of course, if you don't have to take the call right at that moment, just let it go to voicemail.

5. Avoid multitasking, such as paper rustling or answering emails, which are picked up by phone. It's hard to resist when the call seems to go on and on and you have many pressing things to finish before lunch. Once again, the mute button is our friend (I use it a lot when I answer email, eat food, or file papers while on certain teleconferences.)

Because audio quality is the most important aspect of most teleconferences, web conferences, and videoconferences, remember your fellow conference attendees the next time you all are on the phone line together.

Here's Your Change

Bill Sifflard has made a great point about customer relations… three of them in fact.  He points out that employees - no matter what size the company - have three places while dealing with customers where they can  increase goodwill, loyalty, and even sales.  Those points are the greeting, the follow-up, and the close.  

Using Sifflard's examples, they are "Next," "Anything else," and "Here's your change."

How often have you heard any or all of those phrases?  You probably don't even notice them anymore, except perhaps when they aren't used.  For example, how do you feel when a cashier says something different, like, "Hey, did you find everything you wanted?!"  Much better - I would think - than "Next."

How do you think sales would go in a store that got its employees to up-sell, or suggest compatible products with every item a customer wanted to buy?  How often do you think customers would return to a store that went out of its way to make them feel welcome when they arrived, and appreciated when they left?

Get some friends to walk into your store anonymously to find out what kind of experience your customers have.  Don't be too hard on your employees if they aren't making the most of the customer relationship opportunities.  Instead, bring it to their attention and talk about it.  Let them know why it's important and how sales are affected.  Then brainstorm together on possible things they can say.

Give them a chance to see the benefits of simple phrase and attitude changes.  They, and your customers, should be pleasantly surprised.

Posted by George Page, Communication Specialist

How To Get In Touch With Us

Did you know we're on Twitter?
We are happy to chat with you using Twitter. Find us at http://www.twitter.com/accuconference.

You can call us toll-free anytime with questions.
We know choosing a conferencing service seem complicated, especially if you're not sure how you will be utilizing it down the road. For now, we'll be happy to put together a custom solution for your next teleconference and to get you our best prices on upcoming conferences that you're planning. We're always available, whenever you need us. Check out our contact information here.

Our web site and blog are full of resources and information to help you host and launch a successful teleconference, either as a one-time deal or as an ongoing event.
We've set up our web site and blog to provide you with information that will help you run a successful teleconference. We seek to offer the best business communications information that we can find. We also are always developing new products and services to complement our already strong line-up of teleconference offerings, so even if you don't see what you're looking for, please just call or email us. We specialize in teleconferencing. We also don't scare easily.

We have several white papers and ebooks to help you see the Accuconference difference and to learn more about our services.
We've put together some white papers and ebooks to help answer any additional questions you may have about our approach and reliability. Feel free to download as many of these resources as you need. If you have any queries you'd like to direct to one of our customer service representatives, please feel free to give us a call or email.

Above all, we'd like to help you with any teleconferencing needs that you may have, without pressure, without intense sales tactics. Let us know how we can serve you.

Picking the Right Conference Call Service

As more and more companies choose to do business utilizing conference calling, the question is often asked of us: How do I know exactly what kind of conferencing tools I'll need?

We feel that when you choose a conference call service, you should keep in mind future conferencing needs, even if you're sure now you'll never need anything that fancy later on. We always encourage folks to keep their options open.

Accuconference offers a wide range of conferencing tools, some of them you definitely need now and some you don't. However, adding the ability to share applications later is always an option, so no worries.

I just want to host a straightforward conference call.

A simple conference call among a smaller group (less than fifty) will require a conference line, invitations, and a date that works for everyone taking part in the meeting. Check it out.

What if I want to add a PowerPoint presentation?

Web conferencing allows you to share, review and revise documents or web pages, demo products or present a proposal—all in real-time, sharing the same screen space. Look here.

How about video? I really think it's important that people can see me as I speak.

Video conferencing will never replace the in-person meeting, but it will support your business meetings by providing you with unique ways to interact. The online collaborative tools can enhance a meeting in ways that can't be done in person. Find out more here.

Plus, Accuconference offers recording playback at your convenience, secure conference controls right from your computer desktop, and toll-free customer support for any questions you may have. A full list of our customer benefits is here.

Often people aren't sure about teleconferencing because they're nervous about learning how teleconferences work, not sure if everything will run smoothly at the right moment, and general nervousness about having to speak with a group via the telephone.

We can't help you with your nerves (talking on the phone in a teleconference will get easier over time, we promise), but we can promise a stress-free, easy to use experience when you choose our teleconferencing system. Our rates are reasonable and well-priced when compared with other conferencing services, and we offer outstanding customer service. And I mean outstanding. Our customer service specialists will and often do bend over backward to help our clients with any issue.

Still not sure about conferencing even after that amazing list of benefits?

If you have any questions or want more information on how Accuconference can help you with your teleconferencing needs, please let us know.

Business Communications Across Generations

For employees who are Gen Y and Gen X, instant messaging (IM) is a no-brainer. They come into work and log in, using IM to contact fellow employees and others throughout the workday. No problem, right?

For the older generation of Baby Boomers, IM is a problem. It's not how they want to communicate with their colleagues or their peers. They prefer email, the phone, and face-to-face communication. So they choose not to log in to IM first thing on a workday morning.

It may not seem like a big deal, but for companies who rely on all employees to communicate effectively with each other, a little thing like not using the same tools can escalate into something more menacing. What kind of alternate communication channels should be encouraged? How does a company facilitate failing communication between two very different generations of workers?

1. Recognize the needs of each generation and keep everyone focused on the work to be done. Each generation has a way they prefer to work, as we've seen, Gen X and Y adore IM and social media, whereas Baby Boomers prefer more of a personal approach (phone, email, face-to-face), so can't the work get done by utilizing all of these communication channels? Have a face-to-face meeting at first, move to email and IM later, and then end the project with another face-to-face meeting is just one suggestion. Make it work!

2. Utilize each generation's disparate approach to problem solving so that everyone feels as if they play a valuable role. The face-to-face approach helps Baby Boomers feel that they are bringing their experience forward, whereas IM and social media helps Gen Y do research they need to find that same information. Both generations can provide the experience and research, it just takes a well-structured environment to bring it out.

3. Think through each generation's work concerns and figure out how to create forward motion together. While Baby Boomers want stability (and thus often attempt to control a project by their experience and "that's how we've always done it" approach), Gen Y wants to move forward with their careers by thinking outside the box. How a company melds those two concerns and moves forward is a matter of leadership. A manager who sees both sides, and welcomes all viewpoints and concerns will not bend to either side in finding a solution.

4. Above all, each generation wants respect in some way. The best way to give it to them, is to explain that everyone's approach requires some give and take. If Gen Y will let the Baby Boomers have their face-to-face meeting, perhaps the Baby Boomers can attempt to sign in to IM each morning and make their vast experience and expertise available to those who seek it.

All in all, the generation gap requires a strong management role that won't be influenced for or against any communication approach. That's the main challenge of business communications during this time.

Are You Too Negative?

As a boss, is it hard for you to hear other opinions? Is it too difficult for you to accept suggestions from other people, especially your employees? When a client suggests you make a change in your operations or policies, do you instantly discard the idea?

What follows are some tips for becoming a more positive, interactive communicator.

1. Stop yourself before you go rogue negative. An instant reaction just is not worth it. Think before you instantly discard anyone else's feedback or ideas. When you stop to consider and think about your reaction, people will appreciate you taking them seriously.

2. Realize that people do want you to succeed. If people are giving you suggestions for improvements for your company, better policies, or streamlining day-to-day processes, recognize that they have your best interest at heart. Sure, some folks can be snarky and demeaning, but for the most part if someone brings it up, they're trying to help you.

3. Be open to off-the-wall ideas. Some of the best ideas coming your way might appear to be lame and genuinely ill formed, but before you quickly and instantly reject them, consider how you might refashion some of these ideas into workable solutions. Be open to fresh, unconventional ideas always.

4. Don't forsake your gut. Don't take on suggestions willy-nilly without really understanding why and how they will be implemented. If you have a check about a certain idea, you are the boss. Your job is not only to act on good advice, but also to ignore and refuse to act on bad advice. Simply listening to a plethora of ideas does not mean you have to take action on every single one. Chances are you'll only actually entertain about 10% of the ideas you hear. That's a healthy percentage.

5. Confirm with trusted confidants. Your board of directors or trusted group of likeminded business owners can help you weed out the good from the bad. If it's a truly good idea, others will think so, and they will bring up every aspect they can in order to help you decide. A trusted group of advisors can see right through the scams of the amateur; they can also know when to take that amateur idea and make it go pro!

All in all, thinking about your response and allowing yourself to be open to communication tactics and ideas you might not have otherwise entertained may not be something you've ever considered before. Maybe now is a good time.

AccuConference | All posts tagged 'company'

Four Inexpensive Tools for Customer Service

If you're considering reevaluating your customer service strategy your main focus is figuring out where you can improve. A business' customer service strategy is not just about what information you're giving customers.

If you want to change your customer service philosophy, here are four inexpensive tools you can implement right away to make a change. I can give the seal of approval on all of these because we use them right here at AccuConference.

Knowledge

One of the most important parts of customer service is that your employees are familiar with your product and your company. When a customer calls in with a question or a concern, your goal is to make sure this is the only call that has to be made. Getting it right the first time makes a big impact on your customers and step one is educating your employees.

Trust

One of the best things you can do is trust your employees and this starts at the very beginning of a hiring process. We have a very specific hiring process that helps us to determine candidates that have the same philosophies and feelings about customer service that we have as a company, and because of this my managers trust me to handle some things on my own and to take a concern to a higher level when I need to.

Voice

This is AccuConference and we are not the droids you’re looking for. (Hah!) We don't use scripting. Sure, we have standard responses to things, but they aren't the product of a script, they are the product of our experience. This is a big difference. Not being on a script gives us the chance to develop a rapport with customers and let them get to know us.

No Bait, Just Fish

An advertisement, whether it is a commercial, a print ad, or even a tweet sets a tone and an expectation with your customers. If you can't deliver on a promise made in an advertisement, then you're suddenly in a position where your first interaction with a potential customer may be viewed as a deception. This isn't a good way to start a relationship and can take a lot of extra work to repair. This is why when someone sets up an account with us they find a low rate, all of our features, and our undivided attention.

How do you approach customer service?

The Responsibility of an “Expert”

In the Dallas/Fort Worth area, sometimes we get thunderstorms that prompt tornado warnings and sirens, sending families and pets into the bathroom or underground to take cover. Weather both fascinates and scares me, so when there’s severe weather in the area, I’m always on a local station website. Some of these sites include chat programs where volunteers, usually storm spotters or chasers, help the public to understand when and where these storms will be moving.

They aren’t meteorologists but their experience makes them a trusted source. Imagine my surprise when one of these trusted sources began to talk about how he personally didn’t feel like there was much of a tornado threat in our area, despite active watches in the area. He’s trusted, certified, and understands how the weather works. On Tuesday night, there ended up being 13 reported tornado touch downs in our area which made his comments very irresponsible.

When you call yourself (or get called) an expert, it puts you in the position where you become responsible for communicating accurate information, no matter what the subject.

Anytime you consider yourself to be an expert, you have to respect that title, and use it to educate your clients, customers, or people looking to you for advice.

For example, we are considered to be conference experts, but that is only because every single one of our operators is trained the exact same way with all of our products. This is to ensure that a customer can speak to anyone and always get consistent information. We also try to educate our customers so that they know and understand how a product works, or what additional features might be available to them. We can walk you through setting up your first conference from start to finish, and even suggest any of our services that might help you get a little more from the service.

Since we are experts in our field, we take it very seriously, and if you’re in the position where you feel like you are “expert” enough to make yourself publically available, you better respect that. How do you stay true to the trust that your customers and clients have given you?