Posts Tagged ‘customer service’

social mediaNearly 7% of all of the donations that nonprofits receive comes from online sources, but harnessing the power of the Internet and Social Media tends to be less about collecting money and more about increasing interest in your NFP.

While social media is a great way to share stories about your nonprofit and strengthen supporters’ connection to your cause, there are downfalls to using the platform. The following is a list of some common pitfalls that nonprofit’s experience when they rely too heavily on social media channels to spread their message.

It’s Expensive

Advertising on social media isn’t free, and even though Facebook and other social media platforms sometimes offer discounts, click-thru ads, sponsored posts and other marketing campaigns, it can be still extremely expensive.

NFPs must control costs by using tools that allow them to test messages, manage start and kill dates for ads, and set budgets to keep an eye on ad costs to make social media campaigns worthwhile.

Many Social Media Channels Offer Low ROI

It would be easier to justify expensive advertising on social media if these campaigns at least generated high returns on this investment. But, the truth of the matter is that they simply don’t. Facebook offers the ability to connect, like and share with nonprofits, as well as the capacity to donate directly, and yet only provides a 3% increase in reach.

Other social media platforms, such as Instagram, make it easy to like photos and gain followers, who seldom, if ever, react to direct calls to action made on the platform. Snapchat’s ROI is even worse, as it doesn’t allow online donations directly from its app and nonprofits can’t even share a link to their website.

Despite the low returns on the time and money invested in social media, it’s still a great way to increase awareness about the good work that nonprofit accomplish. You can start conversations with others about the difference specific nonprofits are making in their communities, as an example.

NFPs should keep their objectives in mind, use targeting and segmentation to make certain that they are reaching the correct audience with their messages and set realistic goals when creating their social media marketing campaigns.

Focusing on Social Media Makes it Easy to Forget about Other Ways to Connect with Supporters

While social media seems to be all the rage these days, direct appeals and calls to action made on a nonprofit’s website, as well as in emails, newsletters and direct mail cost less to create and still generate most of the donations that are received by nonprofits.

NFPs that focus exclusively on social media marketing are likely missing out on ways to connect and raise funds that are less expensive and that offer a much higher return on the cost that is invested.

Trolls and Depressing News can Damage Social Media Marketing Efforts

Not every visitor to your nonprofit’s social media accounts is there to connect and share with you in a positive, meaningful manner. There are individuals who surf the Internet looking to join in on conversations with the deliberate intention to create as much chaos and ill will as possible.

Sometimes in the comments section and elsewhere, visitors may share depressing news or memes that feature disturbing text or images. NFPs must take care to monitor and moderate their social media accounts to protect the reputation of the NFP. Care must also be taken when responding to potentially negative or offensive posts to avoid encouraging or “feeding” trolls.

Social media is a great way to increase awareness about your NFP’s mission. The high cost of social media marketing campaigns, and the low returns that they offer, means that most non-profits should continue to include other more traditional methods of communication and fundraising in their strategic marketing plans in addition to their social media marketing efforts.


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business-card-contact-business-cards-business-42260I have visited quite a few contact us pages in my time, and I always find them lacking somehow. They should, in reality, be more than just a name, address and a contact form. But somehow it seems to be the one page that gets thrown together at the last minute before the site gets published. Or at least it comes across that way.

Shouldn’t the contact page be the icing on the cake; that last page that they see before they effectively sign up or decide to take the next step and contact you? Then in my mind, it should be more than a form – rather a wonderful continuation of the rest of the website.

So, what can you add to make your contact us page more effective?

An Introduction

It sounds so easy, yet surprisingly this is the one thing that seems to be left off the page. Add a couple of sentences to show them how much you cherish their business and would appreciate the opportunity to connect with them. Simple words can do wonders.

Full Business Name and Postal Address

To assist in clarity, your full business name and address aids in allowing people to contact you via the postal system (yes, it is still used on the odd occasion) and can assist your business when it comes to appearing in Google local searches.

Business Phone Number

Make sure your contact number is clear and legible. If you have various phone numbers, then specify for each department to avoid confusion.

Email Address

If you do intend to add your email address alongside your contact form, then it is best to replace the “.com.au” with “dot com dot au” to avoid it being used for spam purposes.

Opening Hours

If you don’t want to be contacted at all hours of the day or night or only respond to emails during certain hours, then let people know all the facts. This will ensure your soon-to-be clients that you will respond to their queries as soon as you possibly can.

Google Map

If you operate from a brick and mortar address, then Google makes it easy to add your address to your website. Clients can check the maps for directions and not bother you with questions about how to find your business.

Contact Form

Contact pages are a necessity and makes connecting with other companies a breeze. Keep it as simple as possible with as few fields as necessary: name, email address and message should generally suffice in the first instance.

For more information on this topic, read Ingrid Cliff’s post on “How To Write A Contact Us Page That Gets Results”. She is a valuable resource on this subject and her business contact us page is a testament to her knowledge.

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pedestrians-400811_640Working with small businesses has many advantages, a fact easily overlooked when the big ones dominate the consumer landscape with a big budget advertising presence. More enjoyable to recognise than a corporate logo, however, are the faces of individuals who work in small companies. Within smaller business settings, it is possible to put names to faces. Within smaller businesses, you know who you are dealing with, and are not offering feedback on forms that are never personally addressed.

As it is easier for smaller companies to attend to complaints, customer service is usually far superior with small businesses. In turn, great service encourages loyalty, and helps ensure success of smaller businesses. It is erroneous to think that larger businesses have better chances of longevity, as small businesses help secure their place by working within their communities, rather than competing or seeking to replace other, smaller businesses. Many people prefer to support businesses that are local to them, when given the option. Also, personal reputations are tied to small businesses, and word of mouth reviews are important. The distance between the customer base and management is much smaller, so consumer recommendations are heard. It is faster to implement changes within smaller businesses, so smaller businesses are usually more sensitive to changing consumer needs, and can be flexible to individual requirements of loyal customers.

Smaller businesses appreciate individual customers more than large corporate entities, and also appreciate the people behind the scenes who help their businesses grow and flourish. Working with smaller businesses means working with individuals who have pride in their work, and in what they offer their communities. Overall, working for small businesses holds many advantages that a more famous logo cannot compete with.

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Businessman and businesswoman using laptop in office

Put the #social back in #socialmedia

Using social media to promote an organisation, its operations and events is a primary way to get a message out these days. A quick search for almost any school, business or organisation will turn up their Twitter and Facebook pages, which can have advantages over other media as it can be immediate and brief, and is independent of journalism. Latest findings from Canterbury Christ Church University, however, indicate that while social media use is widespread in the field, up to 40% of PR workers are not truly engaging with other users.

Promoting and reposting happens a lot, with PR workers using social media platforms to connect with  loyal and potential customers alike. Tweets and Facebook posts are effective promotional tools as they arrive within a feed of personalised, invited materials, so people are generally quite receptive to their content. It is an informal seeming way to project the image and operations of a business. But if users are not engaging with the people seeing their posts, and commenting or asking questions, the true potential of the medium is being underused.

Social media is a conversation. There is a to and fro, and give and take. When effectively used, conversations had or ‘overheard’ can stick in viewers minds for years. As well as posting, responding should be an integral part of any social media plan. Showing your value them enough to engage will increase the loyalty of your followers, and help spread the word about your work. Consider asking your audience questions to encourage engagement, and remember, humorous and interesting content always as the potential to go viral.

If you are using social media, remember that people (including mainstream media) consider it a communicative channel. Ideally, you will be treating every approach to your social media page as you would any phone call to your office. Responding in a timely manner demonstrates your respect for your clients, and will help your organisation grow.

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agent-18762_640At its heart, there are certain unavoidable truths about any business or organisation. First, it is only ‘working’ if it keeps the interests of customers a priority. And second, there is always room for improvement. Even if (or perhaps especially if) you are not wondering how you could improve your customer service, there is a strong likelihood that you can, and your whole operation will run better as a result.

Take this as a reminder that without your customers, your organisation would dwindle and eventually close its doors. The upside is, each positive interaction with a customer not only makes it easy for them to return, but makes it a pleasure for them to tell their friends about you and the wonderful work you do. So, it is really important that you and your staff always keep personal frustrations when at work in a professional setting. Support customers with a smile, no matter what. Putting their interests first, and letting them know how important they are will help ensure they continue to work with you.

Online customers deserve quality service also, and there are a few ways to make sure their experiences with your organisation are as good, if not better, than if they dealt in person. A lot of customer queries and complaints can be dealt with efficiently via a comprehensive FAQ page online. Remember, however, that just because someone can navigate to a webpage does not mean they understand all technical or industrial jargon. Keep the content clear and simple, to avoid unnecessary follow up questions. Another thing to consider when delivering customer service online is that customers will generally expect fast responses. If you are using social media, the closer to instant replies, the better.

Making each customer feel important and heard, will win their loyalty. There is no better promotion for any organisation than a personal recommendation from a satisfied customer.

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Connecting with your target audience via social media used to be an afterthought for many businesses and non-profits. Now, it’s an indispensable tool that you must wield effectively in order to remain relevant. The difficulty now lies in deciding which social media networks to use, given that there are literally thousands currently in existence with new ones seemingly popping up every week.

After all, you have a life, and even if you hire a full time social media manager, they have a life too. Your budget is likely limited as well, so it pays to do your research and make certain that you invest your limited time and budget on the networks that will give you the best return.

Many individuals and businesses have already turned to well-known, established sites such as Facebook, Google+ and Twitter to connect. Instagram is less well known than these sites, but is gaining in popularity. One reason that over 200 million people use the site actively is that it makes it easy to share stories and interact with others visually.

Images have the power to stir our emotions and make it easier to make connections with those who view our content. Since Instagram is designed to emphasise visual content, it’s perfect for those businesses and non-profits that need to quickly establish an emotional, personal connection with their followers.

Some obvious benefits of creating a heartfelt connection with your followers is that it can make it easier to create trust and build your reputation. It also makes it more likely that you will be successful when presenting a call to action for donations and volunteers as well as sales.

Instagram is also easy to use once you get started, and fun. It’s especially suited to mobile users who are busy and on the go, as you can download a simple smartphone app to make taking photos and videos a snap.

10 Tips for Using Instagram for Your Business

When using Instagram, two phrases that you may wish to keep in mind are: “you never get a second chance to make a good first impression” and “a picture is worth a thousand words”. These old adages are especially true when you first create and set up your Instagram account.

  1. The mosaic that others will see when they first visit your account is made up of your top 7 most popular images. For new accounts, the mosaic will default to the first 7 images that you post to your account, so take some care when making your selections, as these images form the backbone of the impression you will make to visitors.
  2. For best results, choose clear, high resolution images, and aim to strike a balance between posting images that are humorous or insightful and content that relates directly back to your work. The site also includes filters and tools that make it easy to crop, and alter your images which can totally transform the appearance and meaning.
  3. You will attract more attention to your posts by using popular hashtags. While Instagram has a limit of 30, you don’t have to max out your limit. Many users limit themselves to a brief comment followed by 5 to 7 hashtags, so that the content remains visually appealing and easy to read. It’s also a good idea to use a combination of trending hashtags along with ones that are specific to your brand, so that you get a good mix of existing followers and new visitors to your account.
  4. You want to be careful to not overwhelm your fans with too many posts throughout the day. Studies show that the optimum times to post on Instagram are between 5 to 6 p.m. on weeknights, and 8 p.m. on Monday night. Adopt a regular posting schedule so that visitors are more likely to return to your profile looking for new content.
  5. Regardless of when, or how often that you post, ensure that you quickly follow up with any visitors and fans that like or comment on your posts. Visit their profiles and like and comment back to start conversations and help build your following.
  6. The visual nature of Instagram makes it the ideal venue to increase interest in your brand by hosting photo contests themed around your business, or special events. You can also use images to “count down” to special events, sales and grand openings for your business.
  7. In addition to posting photos and other images, Instagram makes it easy to make and share short video clips up to 15 seconds in length. Keep your audience interested in your content and tap into trends by mixing things up and re-posting clips that are popular as well as posting your own short videos that relate to your business.
  8. Be certain to link your Instagram account to your business Facebook page and Twitter account. This gives you another way to connect with existing followers and possibly tap into their personal networks. It also makes it easy to share images and captions across multiple platforms, which will solidify your branding and marketing efforts. You can even embed your short Instagram videos onto your website or company Facebook page. Just keep in mind that your Instagram posts will only appear as a link on your Twitter tweets, while remaining the same in appearance on Facebook.
  9. Just because Instagram works a bit differently than other social media networks, don’t forget to use analytics and measure your results so that you can tweak your approach and find what content, posting schedule and number of hashtags works best for you to reach your target audience and build your following.
  10. You can also gain insight into how other businesses are using Instagram to build their brand and increase their following by reading the Instagram for Business blog. This part of the site contains both helpful recommendations as well as corporate case studies where you can gain ideas for what may or may not work for your business and situation.

Instagram is not the oldest or most widely used social media network, but its influence is growing, especially among mobile users who are grabbing an increasing share of Internet traffic. It’s free and easy to use and has the ability to convey meaning and information visually. All of these features make it the perfect network for nearly all individuals, businesses and non-profits. The site’s start page invites users to “capture and share the world’s moments”. So why not get started capturing images of your world and use it to share your own unique story?

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businessman standing in a field with a bag

Most of us wouldn’t dare start on a long adventure traveling around the world without first making some preparations. At the very least, we’d pack a map and plan our itinerary so that we would have some idea of where we are going and how to get there. While it might seem like common sense to know that it’s impossible to successfully complete such a journey without a map and a plan, countless business owners fail to “pack a map or plan an itinerary” for their business.

In the business world, this map and itinerary is called a vision statement. Your vision statement is simply a formal statement of why your company exists, the goals it hopes to achieve, and how your company will operate, or “do business,” to achieve these goals.

A vision statement clarifies the following aspects of your business for you, your associates, your vendors and your clients, so that you and others know what to expect from your business.

Your Vision Statement

Your vision statement should:

• Convey the drive, or operating principles of your company. While most companies intend to operate at a profit, the vision statement allows everyone to know what founding goals drive your company and what you intend for your company to give back to your associates, vendors, customers and the community at large.

• Explain how your company will help others excel or otherwise benefit from its operation and existence while achieving its goals.

• Define any acceptable and non-acceptable actions and behaviour of the company and the representatives to achieve goals.

• Clarify your company’s long term aims and goals with imperative statements.

Why You Need a Vision Statement

Without a vision statement, your company is much like a ship at sea without a compass, sails or a rudder; you have no idea where you are going, it’s impossible to steer, and there’s no power to move it.

Tips to Get Started Creating Your Own Vision Statement

While a vision statement is vital to your company’s success, the task of creating one is not as daunting as you might believe. To get started, write down the name of your company and answer the following questions:

1. What does your business create, not only in terms of products and services, but in terms of the benefits that your company provides others?
2. What do you want your customers and clients to be able to achieve with your company’s products and services?
3. What actions aren’t acceptable to achieve your goals?
4. What actions will you take to ensure that your company will benefit others?

Next, take this information and organise it into the following format to produce a simple vision statement:

(Name of company) creates: (answer to question one),
so that our customers can: (answer to question two).
We will never: (answer to question three) in order to achieve our objectives,
and we will: (answer to question four) while our company is in operation.

Once you have created your vision statement, you, your associates, your vendors and your customers will be able to clearly see your company’s direction, and how you plan to get there.

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