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Building Customer Loyalty

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The lifetime value of a customer is one of the most important factors in sustaining the long-term growth of your business. Ideally, you want to build an army of loyal customers who keep coming back, so you can not only establish a strong customer base but also cultivate word of mouth marketing. This article will introduce the fundamentals of customer loyalty and give you tips for building a loyal customer base for your business.

1. Making customer service a priority

Make customer care a key part of your business strategy

  • Effective customer relationship management means organising your business to focus on the needs of customers.
  • Set out the levels of service you plan to offer your different customer types. For example, you might assign key account managers to your most profitable customers.
  • Make sure customer-facing employees have all the information they need to serve customers. Give them powers to make certain decisions independently.
  • Draw up procedures for handling customer contact. For example, standards for speed and courtesy when answering phone calls.

2. Essentials of customer care

Think of ways to make life easier for customers

  • Try to save the customer inconvenience at every stage of the buying experience. For example, provide a simple procedure for returning unwanted goods.
  • Concentrate on providing quality service in key areas. For example, customers often complain that deliveries fail to arrive on time.

3. Encouraging customer feedback

The more you know about customers, the better you can meet their needs.

Provide opportunities for customers to give feedback

  • Ask new customers why they chose you over the competition, and existing customers what you could do better.
  • Set up a customer hotline, and make sure the number is visible on every piece of communication you send out.
  • Get feedback online by encouraging customers to engage on social media.
  • Include an email response form on your website.
  • Encourage customers with a concern to contact you. You may then have a chance to rectify an issue before it has escalated to a complaint.
  • Thank customers for their feedback and let them know if you make changes as a result.

4. Customer communications

Plan your communications

  • Regular interaction helps build trust and loyalty.
  • Be clear about your aims. For example, you might want to turn your best customers into advocateswho recommend you. Your communications might aim to keep them informed, rather than sell.

5. Customer loyalty schemes

A successful loyalty scheme pays for itself by encouraging more frequent purchases. The most common loyalty schemes are based on offering rewards to loyal customers.

You can offer cumulative discounts

  • A cumulative (or ‘retrospective’) discount gives customers money back whenever they reach specified spending targets.
  • Retail businesses can offer loyalty cards which work this way.
  • You may need to track customers’ purchasing activity to flag discounts as they are earned. If customers have to ask for the discount, the scheme will be less effective.

6. Employees and customer service

Make sure everyone gets customer care training

  • Staff who have regular contact with customers should receive training on customer care. They are at the front line of your business and need to give an efficient, professional image at all times.
  • Sales people should be trained to listen to the customer, so they sell intelligently, not aggressively.
  • Everyone in the company should be taught how to handle calls and take basic enquiries.
  • Make sure all staff understand how it will affect customers if they do not do their job properly. For example, production errors could delay the completion of an order.

7. Customer relationship technology

The tech you use could improve customer relationships

  • Consider installing a customer relationship management (CRM) system so that all customer-facing staff can access customer details and records.
  • Network your PCs so that any member of staff can retrieve customer information.

United Delivery Service is a small parcel regional carrier servicing Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. http://www.uniteddeliveryservice.com.

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Business Tips, Delivery Service, Holiday Season

Holiday Logistics: Tips for Shipping Success

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Planning ahead is the best way to prepare for holiday shipping season success. In the months leading up to the holidays, increased amounts of imported and domestic goods must be transported to distribution centers or retail stores. The increase in volumes typically leads to limited capacity and decreased amount of drivers. On top of a challenging freight environment, possible winter weather and hard delivery dates by retailers can create further shipping challenges.

To prepare for the holiday shipping season, here is a list of tips from our transportation experts to help you minimize the impact of peak shipping season:

BEFORE

  • Plan staffing in advance and have a contingency plan to minimize the effect on daily operations. Many companies are negatively impacted due to PTO or sick time during the holidays.
  • Communicate with management, marketing and sales to understand demand forecasts as well as upcoming discounts and specials.
  • Plan your pricing strategy so that additional shipping costs can be covered on rush orders.
  • Place transportation bookings as early as possible and factor in additional transit times for critical shipments.
  • Acknowledge that an increase in demand on carriers can limit available capacity and cause a temporary increase in rates. Increased volumes could also impact the available equipment for shipments.
  • Have a worst case scenario plan which accounts for expedited shipping cost increases.
  • Clearly communicate shipping deadlines with suppliers and delivery expectations with customers.
  • Have a communication plan in place in case of delays.
  • Understand that not all carriers provide Protect From Freeze services and availability can vary by carrier, location and time.

DURING

  • Monitor safety stock levels just in case supply chain delays or port congestion transpires.
  • Realize that any delays will impact the “estimated” time of delivery.
  • Know that cut off dates and times for fixed weekly sailings can be changed on short notice.
  • Communicate early with end customers should any delays occur.

In an effort to effectively and efficiently manage your logistics program this holiday season, let our team help you plan ahead. With state-of-the-art technology, a comprehensive suite of solutions and transportation experts, your holiday inventory will be handled with professionalism and precision.

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Business Tips, Holiday Season

Is Your Business Prepared for the Holidays?

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Oh yes, Christmas time is coming closer.

For most shoppers it means searching for gifts they eventually will buy in the last possible moment. For eCommerce and retailers, it means more inquiries, more sales, increased traffic and a hectic time of year.   Relax, there’s still plenty of time to prepare everything.

Holiday season is often the most profitable time of the year for online businesses: “Not only the last quarter of the year see increases to the number of orders but the average order sizes also tends to be much bigger as well. In fact, some retailers make up to 40% of their yearly revenue in the last quarter alone.”

Here are some tips to prepare your online store and your employees for this busy time.

1. Consider more liberal ordering and returning policies

For your ecommerce store, sales is the most important part of the holiday season, so you need to think some things through. First, consider the ways customers can order from your store. Some stores offer more liberal policies when it comes to ordering and returning items during holiday shopping season.

2. Think about the payment methods

Holiday shopping season is a great time to consider additional payment options for your ecommerce store.

Do you think your store would benefit from maybe adding PayPal as another option? There are many customers who prefer this kind of payment method. It’s nice and profitable to meet their expectation. This small change could lead to a nice boost in your conversion rate.

3. Prepare your website for heavy traffic

You should check if your website is up to speed and if it can handle heavier traffic. You can also look at your analytical data from last year to anticipate web traffic.

4. Make sure consumers can shop from a variety of devices

These days most transactions now take place on multiple devices, with smartphones and tablets leading the way.

Cross–device shopping is increasingly popular among consumers who might find an item on one device, research it on another and then buy it on a third. Now, people shop everywhere: while they’re at home, on a train, in a coffee shop or at work. And each time they use different devices.

5. Stock up on best sellers and make them visible

Your homepage is the prime location, so use it to present engaging graphics with promotions for your best products. Make them visible for all customers.

Remember, if you sell a lot of these during the regular season, you can bet they will disappear quickly from the stock before Christmas.

6. Step up your Customer Service

During Holiday season you will have increased traffic on your website and more inquiries from your customers, not only on chat. You should be able to help customers through all communication channels like social media, live chat and email.

United Delivery Service makes deliveries happen faster for businesses and consumers. We’ve developed a Midwest network positioned to enhance the speed and flexibility of last-mile delivery. We help consumers get products more quickly while lowering the cost of distribution for the businesses they buy from. Contact us today 630-930-5201. http://www.uniteddeliveryservice.com/index.html 

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Business Tips, Delivery Service

Delivering the Best Customer Service!

Ecommerce-Customer-Experience

Do you remember the last time you had an unpleasant experience with a service or product?

Maybe the service or product failed to live up to the sales pitch; perhaps the company concerned failed to answer your emails or phone-calls.

Maybe they failed to do what they said they would; or they gave you the good old ‘run-around’ when you called to ask a question or report a problem?

Any or all of these issues revolve around one thing and one thing only – terrible customer service! And when there’s a lack of customer service it’s usually caused by a lack of customer focus.    Here are some customer service rules that we feel are important

1. Accessiblity To Customers

Customers must be able to contact someone in the company who represents you, should they require service or have a question to ask. It’s important to offer many different ways for your customers to contact you: like phone, email, and social media. Make sure all these communication channels are easy to manage; otherwise the level of customer service could take a dive. If you provide many contact points, but you don’t increase your resources and staff, you’ll be spreading yourself too thin. The result will be a decline in your customer service.

2. Always Responding in a Timely Manner

Make it business policy that all emails and phone calls must be returned with 24-hours. If this is not something you can commit to, then you must determine what timeframe would be manageable and be very clear with your customers that this is the timeframe you work within. Customers are usually very accepting providing you’ve been clear with them from the onset, and you follow through.

3. Listen to What Your Customers Have To Say

Customers are just ordinary people, and they want to be heard: sometimes all that’s required is that you listen to what they have to say. Don’t jump in and start defending yourself, your company, or your product – just listen. Who knows, they could have a valid point!

4. Treat Your Customers With Respect

If you are trying to deal with an irate, rude, complaining or demanding customer, never lower yourself to their level of behaviour. Continue treating your customers with respect, and in turn they will respect you. They might just be having a bad day and could well regret their bad behaviour. Obviously it’s not ‘right’ that people disrespect you, but at the end of the day you’ll be pleased that you didn’t lower your standards and that you remained respectful.

5. Never Argue With Your Customers

You’ll never win an argument with a customer: what this means is that, if you do win, you will have alienated the customer and lost their business forever. We all understand only too well that a customer is often wrong, but it’s not a good idea to start defending yourself: focus on what’s occurred and see how you can best resolve the situation.

6. Honor Your Commitments

Do what you say you will do. If you offer a guarantee, then you must honor it: it you say you’ll respond to emails, respond to them. It’s irritating to anyone to be promised something and then not get it: it’s a surefire way to ruin a relationship.

7. Do What You Say

If you’ve promised to call a customer on Monday, call them on Monday. It’s really very simple. If you want to earn the trust and respect of your customers you must follow through and do what you said you would. From a customer’s point of view we all know how annoying and time-wasting it is to be waiting for a phone-call, email, or visit from someone who (turns out) had no intention of following through.

8. Focus on Customer Relationships – Not Sales!

For your business to enjoy long-term success you must cultivate long-term relationships. Sacrificing long-term relationships to make short-term sales dooms your business to failure.

9. Admit When You’ve Made a Mistake

We’re all human, and we all make mistakes. One very valuable lesson on customer service is, when you do make a mistake, don’t deny it or try to cover it up. Admit your mistake, apologize, and do whatever it takes to make the situation right. Your customers will appreciate it, and no-one loses customers this way.

10. Provide Fast, Convenient Customer Support

When consumers encounter a problem with your products/services or have a question about your brand nowadays, they expect you to offer a quick, decent response. Think about it – people today don’t usually get to enjoy a lot of free time. Thus, having to spend even half an hour on dealing with customer support can seriously harm customer satisfaction levels.

Excellent customer service often comes down to consistently checking in with your customers and making sure they are happy with not only the products and services you’re selling, but also the process of purchasing, ordering, working with you, etc. UDS would like to partner with you and be your first choice in last mile delivery! Your customers deserve the best and so do you! Save 10% or more with a FREE shipping evaluation.

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UDS To Exhibit at Parcel Forum 2018

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PARCEL Forum is the learning event for Supply Chain professionals dedicated to parcel fulfillment. PARCEL Forum ’18 will be held in Chicago September 24-26 at the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel & Convention Center. Schedule a meeting in advance with one of our team members to discuss all your parcel needs.

For the past 15 years, PARCEL Forum has been the only conference dedicated to serving the unique and ever-changing needs of professionals who are responsible for the shipping, warehousing, packaging, distribution and delivery of parcels. The industry’s only peer-driven, peer-reviewed and peer-produced conference has helped thousands of parcel shipping professionals learn how to ship more packages, more frequently, more efficiently, and more cost-effectively.

United Delivery Service’s Dave Meyers will be speaking at this year’s conference.  Dave will be discussing how to elevalute your ROI  when adding a regional parcel carrier to your carrier mix as well as reduceing accessorials and how UDS does not have as many as the nationals.  Please check back on our Twitter and Linkedin Pages for updates when Dave will be speaking. In the meantime you can learn more about UDS on this link.  https://youtu.be/gycscXOAg48

UDS will be at booth#319

The First Choice…In Last Mile

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Business Tips, Delivery Service

Overcoming The Fear of Change

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As human beings, we are afraid of what will happen if we don’t choose the right thing for us. This is something that often presses us to avoid to make a decision that will change our life, our family, our business, or our world.

Without decisions, you can’t make changes. Without making decisions, you can’t expect personal and business progress. You really need to make right decisions and take actions based on them. Only in such a way you can expect progress. Have you been putting off making the decsion to switch your delivery service?  Here are some tips for overcoming the fear of change:

Stop Searching for Perfect Answers/Solutions

One of the primary reasons why so many of us as leaders experience fear in decision-making is because we’re driven. We want to succeed. Okay, let’s be honest, we want to win/crush the competition. In order to do that, we set ourselves up for failure by making our standard, “The BEST,” or “The PERFECT,” or “The ULTIMATE.”

The problem with the “perfect” standard is that it’s by definition, unattainable. Perfection doesn’t exist in reality (similar to infinity). They’re both helpful constructs, but neither can exist in reality (i.e. there is no such thing as an actual infinite).

So if the standard we’re shooting for is unreachable, what does that do to fear? Exactly, it increases it because fear is a negative expectation about a future outcome and if we already know we can’t meet a standard, fear makes sense. And what does fear do to decision-making? Exactly, it delays it—which is a killer when speed of implementation is critical to fast growth.

What’s the best that can happen if I don’t make this change?

Sometimes this question is the push we need to face up to change. It’s simple: If you’re unhappy with the status quo, and all you’re likely to get is more of the same, then you have a choice: Learn to love what you already have, or go get something new. If you can’t do the former, then you’d better do the latter, or you may be stuck in the doldrums forever.

Procrastination is not the name of the game

The last thing you want to be doing as a business leader is perpetually putting off making decisions, especially the important ones. Taking some time to allow yourself to think, digest and ultimately come to the right decision is encouraged, but that doesn’t mean taking too long and in some cases, purposely putting it off altogether. Whilst sometimes it may be difficult when it comes to making a choice, avoiding making the decision isn’t the answer. Push yourself to make timely decisions and ones that are well-considered too, even if it may be really hard to do so in certain instances.

Take a step back

Sometimes when you’re very deep in something, your judgement can be clouded and therefore it can be difficult to make the right decision. In this case, a little distance can be the best thing, as it can give you some time to step back and gain a new perspective from afar. Separating yourself can very often give you the clarity you need to make the best possible decision.

Learn from your mistakes

In life, it’s impossible to make the right decision every time, so be prepared to take some wrong turns in business too. Mistakes can and will happen, but it’s what you do with them and how you deal with them that really counts. There’s usually a lesson to be learnt from every bad decision, so in order to ensure you avoid making the same mistakes over and over, make an effort to learn from each one – you’ll be a better leader and decision-maker for it.

We often hear from potential customers that they are unhappy with their current delivery service but the idea of changing to another one is too overwhelming to consider. If you are ready to make the switch we will work with your team to ensure the transition goes smoothly.   Call us today and let’s discuss how to finally make the switch to a logistics comapny that will work for you!  

 

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Business Tips

Overcoming Obstacles for Change

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To put it simply, change is scary — and challenging. Maintaining an existing habit is easier than changing. Trying something new means there is a possibility of failure. Most people prefer to stay in their comfort zone than venture into unknown territory.

#1 Listen First, Talk Second

The first strategy to overcome resistance to change is to communicate. Communication is key — you already knew that. However, try letting your employees initiate the conversation. People want to be heard, and giving them a chance to voice their opinions will help alleviate the frustration they feel over the situation.

What’s more, your employees thoughts, concerns and suggestions will prove wildly valuable to steer your change project. At the very least, understanding them will help you pinpoint the root of employee resistance to change.

#2 Communicate the Reasons for Change

The next strategy to overcome resistance to change is to communication the why, what and how. Develop a communication plan that is more than just telling your employees what you want them to do. Effective communication segments and targets each audience, focusing on what they care about and need to know. Underline why this change will benefit them.

#3 Confront Fear of Change

Asking people to make significant behavioral changes is the most frightening request one can make of them. Stress levels in organizations and people are directly linked to the level of change experienced. Underestimating their fear response and potential resistance is the most consistent mistake made by leaders when introducing change.

#4 Show Them the Data

While resistance to change is usually emotional rather than logical, it can be helpful to use some hard facts as a supplementary strategy. Let your employees see the data for themselves. This is a great way to simultaneously show transparency and demonstrate the need for improvement.

#5 Be Willing to Compromise

If senior management focuses on predetermined outcomes and displays unwillingness to compromise, the possibility of work group support is minimized. Involved employees will suggest changes that greatly improve the original plan, because the people most heavily affected by a plan will correct its obvious defects. Employees are much more likely to support a new set of ideas which they have had a key role in shaping. When a senior manager approaches the group or organization from the members’ perspective, he or she will be able to design interventions that don’t immediately trigger defense mechanisms.

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