economic development

Challenges Create Opportunity, People Create Change - 4/20/21


There are so many great things that have been said over the years about overcoming challenges, pushing aside the roadblocks of life, dealing with difficulties.  And these are important points of discussion because challenges are all around us.  There are challenges with our personal health or in our personal Read more

The Passive Predicament - 4/13/21


The employee is speaking to you.  Do they have that look in the eyes like they’re hanging on your every word, like they’re processing, interpreting, and getting ready to quickly respond to your key points and questions?  Or do they have the look of somebody in the 2nd hour Read more

Regain Lost Motivation - 4/6/21


For many of us over the last 12 months, our home has also become our workplace.  Our work interaction has been 2-dimensional through the computer screen as opposed to the 3-dimensional experiences we’re used to with co-workers and customers. We are all motivated in our own unique ways.  Some are Read more

The Answer is Right, but the Service is Wrong - 3/30/21


Maggie was irate.  The gift she ordered needed to be received by the 20th of the month so she could give it to her cousin for his birthday.  It was the 19th, and Maggie couldn’t find any shipping update online, so she called the company.  The employee said “Oh!  Read more

Question Everything, but What’s the Question? - 3/23/21


The new leader joins the organization, and she decides she wants to question everything.  She wants employees to question everything.  Why have we always done it this way? Why do we continue to do it that way? Is this the best way to work? Sometimes it’s a great management Read more

The Resourceful Rep - 3/16/21


One of our clients is seeking to develop Customer Service Standards.  We’re working with them to identify those key expectations of staff that will enable the organization to deliver a consistent high-level customer experience.  One of the key attributes that this organization is seeking from its team members is Read more

Be Proactive like a Pro - 3/9/21


We constantly work with clients, encouraging them to become more proactive with customers.  Don’t just be reactive, waiting for the customer to ask questions or to complain.  Instead, go to the customer, anticipate their needs, suggest something to them. But many of us, frankly, don’t know how to be proactive.  Read more

Find One Unique Thing - 3/2/21


Many of us are not in a position to develop long-term relationships with our customers.  Our encounters are often one-time only with a customer - very brief and likely to be our only time chatting with this individual. And even though there may not be a long-term professional relationship developed, Read more

Should I Stay or Should I Go? - 2/23/21


Should I stay or should I go?  That’s not just a classic song by The Clash.  It’s also the question customers ask more and more, especially during difficult economic times. A recent study in the Charlotte Business Journal noted that 50% of North Carolina businesses are concerned with how to Read more

Optimism – A Force for Good in Customer Service - 2/16/21


Will 2021 be a better year than 2020?  I have absolutely no idea.  Maybe it would be nice to see into the future and know for certain, but I can’t and I don’t.  But as I wade further and further into this year, I can hope that the water Read more

Google This…Then Think Differently About Retention

Posted on in Business Advice, Government Please leave a comment

Go to Google News and search on “business retention.” When I did this recently, there were 102 items of business news for the last week alone, and they are from close to 100 different locations.

Why is this term becoming so ubiquitous (never used that word in a blog post before…very exciting!)? “Business retention” programs are proliferating, and it’s because communities are realizing the value of a company and its jobs and its fees and its taxes and its construction projects and the salaries it pays. Communities are realizing the value of a customer, and their customer is a business.

When the economy tanks (as it did around 2008 and earlier this century as well), businesses in general start talking a lot more about customer service and customer retention. Whereas it’s sexy to talk about new sales, new clients, and new businesses coming to town, all of that “new” stuff is an addition to what already exists – your current customers.

What we tell our economic development clients is the same thing I’d tell most any other business – don’t limit your retention strategy to “delivering great customer service” or to “having lots of face-to-face meetings with your customers.”

Your strategy needs to be based on data, facts, intelligence – some of which you acquire by asking your customers questions, and some of which you acquire by conducting ongoing research on your clients (via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google News, MarketWatch, etc.). Your strategy needs to involve a mix of pre-planned Touch Points that occur throughout the year to pull information from customers via surveys/research/meetings/calls/e-mails or push information of value to them or marketing information for them. But the Touch Points also have to include those (as we say with our healthcare customers) PRN touches – those provided as needed based on that intelligence we just noted.

When you think about how to retain your customers (whether that customer is a business or an individual), you still need to deliver great customer service. But also develop strategies to gather intelligence, and provide strategic Touch Points to develop relationships that grow with your existing customers.

Read our New Book – “Ask Yourself…Am I GREAT at Customer Service?” http://www.amigreatat.com/

Listen to our 2012 Customer Service Trends podcast episode of “Stepping Up Service” on The MESH Network at http://themesh.tv/stepping-up-service/2012/1/12/stepping-up-service-6-customer-service-trends-for-2012.html

Interested in improving your company’s customer service? See more at our new website! http://www.cssamerica.com/


Why Train to Retain in BRE…

Posted on in Business Advice, Government Please leave a comment

The University of Tennessee has created a course called “Business Retention and Expansion in Tennessee.” While that’s not the most creative course name (kind of like my company, Customer Service Solutions, Inc. isn’t the most creative name…), it clearly indicates what this course addresses – retention and growth of your existing businesses. The course touts statistics such as “79 percent of all new jobs in the state in 2009 resulted from the expansion of existing business and industry.” That stat could apply to most any business – most of your revenue comes from existing clients.

So economic development organizations should have strategies, research, and training to be intentional about that business retention and job growth. Unfortunately, many communities make assumptions about retention such as:

· “We have no control over whether businesses stay or leave, whether they expand here or elsewhere.”

· “Nobody would leave our community.”

· “If there was an issue, the business leader would call me.”

· “I know everybody and everything going on in the community; so I’ll know if there’s something that’s an issue to a local business.”

These are all assumptions – assumptions that can get a community in trouble. And these assumptions apply to anybody who is managing accounts just like BRE representatives manage relationships with multiple local employers.

You have to believe you can make an impact. You have to understand that businesses might leave. You have to be proactive and not assume that businesses are going to contact you in time to help them. And you cannot assume you know all that’s going on in your local businesses.

Local economic development agencies need training and guidance in how to build relationships with local employers, how to proactively reach out to them, how to respond when needs and issues arise, and how to grow their jobs base.

Don’t make assumptions about retention and growth. Get the training, research, and strategy development you need to succeed.

Read our New Book – “Ask Yourself…Am I GREAT at Customer Service?” http://www.amigreatat.com/

Listen to our latest podcast episode of “Stepping Up Service” on The MESH Network at http://themesh.tv/stepping-up-service/

Interested in improving your company’s customer service? See more at our new website! http://www.cssamerica.com/


Business Retention & Expansion – The Process That Drives Your Top Line

Posted on in Business Advice, Government Please leave a comment

In news articles that come out on a daily basis, business retention and expansion successes are touted. Oftentimes, these articles announce an expansion of a plant, consolidating functions from other locations to the local facility, or moving into a larger local facility.

But for all these good things to happen, they don’t simply occur on their own. Most local municipalities today have (or fund) an economic development organization to help drive these successes. Many of these EDOs have a dedicated Business Retention and Expansion program. We work with several BRE organizations and have identified some of what makes for a great BRE program. Review these keys, and apply them to your business:

· BRE organizations need to be great at quick issue resolution. Can you efficiently link your customers with somebody who can resolve them, or how quickly can you resolve issues yourself?

· The best of BRE Programs view their role as relationship-building. They define and execute 12 month Touch Point Plans to continually pull/push information to local business to learn about them, understand their retention drivers, and look for growth and partnering opportunities.

· BRE organizations need a focus on efficiency. Just like most account representatives in business today, BRE representatives have too many clients to truly know all deeply and personally. They have to prioritize communications, touches, and retention efforts for maximum staff time efficiency and maximum retention and growth of jobs

Learn from the Business Retention and Expansion leaders, and use these keys to continually develop client relationships and grow your community and your business.

Read our New Book – “Ask Yourself…Am I GREAT at Customer Service?” http://www.amigreatat.com/

Interested in improving your company’s customer service? See more at our new website! http://www.cssamerica.com/