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Five Tips to Keep Customers Happy This Summer

May 9, 2022

By: The Maine SBDC

Another busy summer is expected, providing both an opportunity and a challenge for small businesses across Maine. The ongoing labor shortage means that many businesses will again need to do more with less. Here you can find some basic customer service tips that can help businesses stand out. Click To Tweet

Start with Your Employees

Good customer service starts with you and your employees. Satisfied employees are more likely to provide better customer service, plus they are more likely to stick around. Retaining employees is not always an issue of pay; studies show that the workplace environment and culture can be just as important to employee morale.  Listening, responding, respecting, and supporting your employees is an excellent first step in delivering great customer service. Consider what perks you can offer to support your employees, whether it’s free coffee and bagels once a week or an end-of-summer bonus.
 

Get creative with your hiring.

Identify the most important traits you need employees to have and cast a wide net.  Often a cheery disposition and great attitude can outweigh experience; you can train a person how to clean a hotel room, but it’s really hard to change a personality.
 

Provide training on the key elements of customer service.

Maine’s Office of Tourism offers a free certification program called Welcome ME 2.0. In addition to training, establish guidelines that help regulate the conduct of your workers towards customers, management, and fellow workers. It is also important to identify behaviors that reflect your company’s culture and drive success.
 

Set Realistic Expectations

When working with fewer human resources, set realistic expectations. It’s better to under-promise and over-deliver than to have customers and employees disappointed. Like last summer, you may need to make modifications to your business such as limiting hours or days open, simplifying product offerings, and/or cutting back on service offerings. With both staffing and product shortages, it is more important than ever to make sure you have alternative vendors and service providers lined up in case of emergencies.  If you can’t get products in from your usual suppliers, where else can you turn in a pinch?
 
As you are making these changes, communication is absolutely essential to ensuring your new and existing customers are satisfied. Communicate using the signage on your business, your website, your social media, and in-person conversations. Again, it’s better to under-promise and over-deliver than have unhappy customers.
 

Be Welcoming to All

Overcoming barriers to customer service and achieving a culture of inclusion begins with understanding the needs of the people you serve. Consider the perspective of your customer. Are your customers those with young families, aging couples, or disabilities? Does your business welcome them? Make sure you are able to provide accessible accommodations that make them feel comfortable. Removing these barriers will be a simple way to make the experience a good one.
 

Personalize the Experience

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you do, but they will remember how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
 
True service excellence makes the customer feel important, heard, and special. For repeat customers, try to remember their preferences and offer helpful information. For new customers, ask good questions, listen, and respond to their needs.
 
In order to provide personalized service, businesses need to understand what drives customer satisfaction and how to meet their needs. Offering your customers a unique experience will help differentiate yourself from your competitors.
 

Invite Customer Feedback

Embrace an approach that encourages your customers to create positive word-of-mouth marketing, which in turn will allow your business to innovate and meet the needs of customers. Listen to their suggestions and attend to their complaints promptly. When customers are delighted with their experience, they are more likely to return to your business or spread the word about your brand. So, make every moment count. This builds trust and engagement.
About the Author: The Maine SBDC program helps build and strengthen small businesses through business advising, training and educational resources. Certified business advisors provide guidance on topics such as business feasibility, business plan development, capital acquisition, financial management, marketing and sales, e-commerce, customer service, personnel management, small business strategic planning and more.

5 Ways to Focus on Personal Development as a Business Owner, and Why You Should

July 20, 2021
By Sharita Humphrey –

No doubt, as a small business owner, you bring an incredible amount of value to the table. It’s a huge task to get a company up and running and make it profitable. Most certainly, it requires a lot of attention and dedication. You might get so busy running your business that you forget about yourself. However, as your business grows, you should, too.

According to career and personal growth coach Kathy Caprino, “Personal growth is the process of growing stronger, more confident, and more effective as a person and an agent of change for your own life. It relates to how you see and perceive yourself, interact with others, engage with the world, and envision your future and your possibilities.”

This is why it’s important to cultivate a lifestyle that encourages personal growth alongside business growth, to allow for multiple levels of success. When you care about personal development (your own and that of any employees you oversee), you’ll foster a more engaged workplace, more efficient employee performance, and greater profitability over time. (more…)

How To Increase Profits Using More Accurate Job Costing

November 10, 2020
By Ken Boyd –

If you can’t identify and accurately estimate all of your project costs, how can you determine the profitability of the job? It’s simple, you can’t.

Business owners who conduct business on a project or job basis may have a difficult time tracking each individual cost associated with each individual job. However, owners who cannot track total project costs accurately may find themselves taking on work that is not profitable or pricing their work too low. The solution lies in accurate job costing. Estimating the total cost of a job can be easier said than done. We've got a few tips to help you manage and track your job costs for more accurate estimates. Click To Tweet But first, let’s take a look at the difference between job costing and process costing. (more…)

5 Legal Issues When Managing a Remote Team During the Coronavirus

October 13, 2020
By ComplyRight –

Virtual Offices

More and more businesses are allowing employees to work remotely due to the COVID-19 crisis. While this approach makes sense, it can open the door to increased legal problems. Business owners and managers must oversee the remote worker arrangement carefully to avoid obstacles. Here are five risky situations to consider. Click To Tweet

#1: Managing Non-Exempt Workers Remotely

Supervising exempt (i.e., “salaried”) and non-exempt (i.e. “hourly”) workers presents challenges. Let’s look at some important issues surrounding non-exempt employees first. (more…)

Don’t Miss Out On New Covid-19 Tax Credits

September 1, 2020
By Intuit –

Intuit Aid Assist EstimatorTo help small businesses and self-employed workers stay afloat due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the IRS created new tax credits, including:

• Employee Retention Credit
• Paid Sick Leave Credit
• Paid Family and Medical Leave Credit

But carving out extra time to figure out which tax credit options you may qualify for — while adapting your business to COVID-19 — can be an overwhelming and time-consuming experience. Federal financial relief programs often have rules, provisions, and exceptions that are hard to understand at a glance. With a mission to power prosperity around the world, Intuit recently added a Tax Credit Estimator to Intuit Aid Assist — a free interactive tool that helps you determine your eligibility for various federal relief programs. Click To Tweet (more…)