Cherish Your Customers August 2008

Last month, I urged you to reduce the amount of multi-tasking you did. What results did you have? Did the world come to an end because you weren't doing two things at once? Did you try it at home?
Summer Days
Okay, I'll admit it. I really don't like living in San Antonio during August. When that first cool snap comes in September, I fall back in love with South Texas. What do you do to stay cool?

It's Never One Thing
"The last straw breaks the camel's back." --Arab proverb

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day about customer service. We were both bemoaning the fact that it's hard to find good customer service and I was telling her about a recent situation with a consultant I've done business with for a couple of years. I'm changing banks and there is an automatic payment that comes out for the services this consultant sells. He was in a meeting when I called to find out what I needed to do to change the account. I was directed to his voice mail and I explained what I needed. He had an assistant call me back who politely left a message, letting me know I needed to fax a voided check from the new account. It's not a big deal, but I kind of expected to talk to my consultant. He called shortly afterwards, which is why I do business with him. He had my immediate need taken care of and then called to catch up.

Customers are usually loyal
I realized that it is not one situation that makes customers switch companies. Customers are usually loyal. To be honest, often laziness or lack of time keeps us doing business at the same places and with the same people. There are some people out there who constantly shop for the best deal, but I believe the majority of us stick with one business unless a series of situations occur where the service is not up to par.

For instance, I decided to switch banks ultimately because of the service fee that they charge non-customers to cash the checks I write (see my June newsletter and below). But it wasn't just this situation. It was the inadequate staffing at the branch that caused me to have to wait for an hour before being served when my checkbook had been stolen. It was the inability to cancel a charge that I did not make until after it dropped out of pending and into the account. It was an assistant branch manager who said she had canceled an account, but hadn't. No one situation was enough for me to leave. But the combination of these events made the check cashing fee a deal-breaker.

You have two choices
If you deal with the public, remember that every interaction provides you with two alternatives - to deliver outstanding customer service or to be one of the straws on that proverbial camel's back. You may not be the last straw, but if you are helping to build that "burden", you are contributing to the loss of existing customers. And all the research proves that it is harder to get new customers than to keep existing ones.

Beyond business, our relationships with other people follow this pattern as well. We lose friends more often because we don't attend to those relationships, not because we have done any one thing that has ended the friendship. How many friends have disappeared from your life simply because you have drifted apart?

Don't add the straw
Making sure that you aren't adding a straw is the surest way to keep your customers - and your friends. In fact, not adding a straw might actually increase your business. When my consultant called me, I was able to do the other things I planned to do when I called - ask him how to upgrade my account, and give him a referral. You never know what you might miss if you don't treat those existing customers carefully.

puzzle light
I have a confession to make. I apparently was guilty of multi-tasking last month when I asked you for an important day in Texas history. Karen Mather came up with every important event she could. When she didn't come up with the answer I was looking for, I checked my facts. The famous date was actually in August.

So Karen wins just because she tried so hard. But the first person who can tell me what happened in August that has special meaning to the State of Texas will win a $25 gift certificate from Nicavid's.

Crystallizations Training
In case you haven't heard, I have started offering 1.5 hour training sessions at the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce's Small Business Resource Center.

The next one is Email Etiquette on Thursday, August 14, from 10:00 AM to 11:30. Learn the standards that can brand you as a professional when you use your email in business. Discover how to spot a phony virus or urban legend message. Learn how to get your email requests answered. Learn what works to dress up your message and when it isn't a good idea to send anything but plain text. Find out what happens to your attached files if you aren't careful.

Just $30 gets you a seat and handouts. (Group discounts are available.) You can send the check to Crystal Communications at the address below or call to arrange credit card payment through PayPal. Space is limited so RSVP now . Please share with anyone you know who may be interested. I hope to see you next week!

Guaranty Bank
I've Switched Banks
If you read my June newsletter, you read about my disappointment in the bank that charged a fee when a non-customer tries to cash a check written on the bank. I found out that my bank (one I've been with for over ten years) charges a fee on business accounts (but not on personal ones). I asked around and found that it is a common practice. Even credit unions have started charging a fee to non-customers. I happened to mention my search during one of my training sessions and a devoted and knowledgeable Guaranty Bank employee, Courtney Weyrich, let me know about her bank's policy. Thanks, Courtney!

Guaranty Bank has won my business not only because they do not charge, but also because of the services the bank provides to small business. The fact that they refund all ATM charges was an added benefit.

I wholeheartedly recommend Guaranty Bank. Call Linda Peterson, AVP, Banking Center Manager at the Rivercenter Mall branch, 210.475.9315, Please tell her I sent you.

SMWBVO conference
Volunteer at the Biggest Small Business Event
The 8th Annual Small, Minority,Women and Veteran Business Owners Conference will be held Wednesday, December 10. As always, I need volunteers.

The exciting news is that this year, we have a new location - the Freeman Coliseum, 3201 E. Houston St. - which means that parking is free for volunteers and attendees. No more shuttle buses, no more downtown double digit parking prices! The Coliseum floor will be covered with government agencies and corporations who want to buy your product or service.

If you want to help with registration, crowd control, or directions, please contact me. I'll provide more details as we get closer to the event. This is a great opportunity to bring your whole team to join this amazing small business event.

Upcoming Events
Greater Connections Mixer Tue, 8/5, 5 PM More info...
Breakfast Roundtable Series - I'm MC Thu, 8/7, 7 AM More info...
Email Etiquette Thu, 8/14, 10 AM More info...
MTTF-BRAC Matchmaking Fair Wed, 8/27, 7 AM More info...
Breakfast Roundtable Series - I'm MC Thu, 9/4, 7 AM More info...
Presenting without Panicking Thu, 9/11, 10 AM More info...
Making Connections Thu, 10/16, 10 AM More info...
Unlocking Your Creativity Thu, 11/13, 10 AM More info...
8th Annual Small Business Conference Wed, 12/10, 7 AM More info...
Don't be a straw!
Thanks for reading. Feedback is always appreciated!
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