Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Need for Customer Service, Globally

Funny story/email about my excellent COMCAST experience. I sent the following to COMCAST earlier today...its a good read.

I would like to express the fact that my cable guy was a knight in shining armor. I had an appointment yesterday to get cable service and I arranged for my little brother stay at my apartment between the hours of 2 and 5pm. The guy never showed up. Instead he came at 6pm, a time when no one was home, he made up some story as to the system scheduling appointments on top of each other to accommodate for "false calls", aside from that he wanted to leave after only waiting 10 minutes while I sped down Grand River to meet him. He had the lady call me TWICE to make sure I was on my way, when he was 3 hours late!

So this dude decided that he couldn't give me service when he recognized that there was a lock on the gate and barb wire fence that housed the box. He immediately left. Red Wings lost. I missed it.

So I made that call and the nicest man answered, I really wish I remembered his name, his voice was so pleasant and calm. Anyways, he made an appointment for this morning (Saturday) morning between 9am and noon. He arrived at a 9:41am, perfect timing, I had already been up for three hours, and I was kinda amped to finally get cable and internet.

I explained to him that this wasn't a service upgrade, but a new service and that maybe he should bring his tools. To make a long story short, he basically scaled the fence the other dude said needed to be unlocked in order to get to the box.

But let me say that apparently the building (located in Detroit's Cass Corridor) had already encountered this problem, the property manager said that the Tech Guy usually just uses the fire escape after throwing his ladder over the fence.

He worked extra hard to get me cable, he was courteous and diligent when he found that the box wasn't registered, cracked a few jokes and was just an all around nice guy who had what it takes to get the job done, no matter what.

But the thing is, I was really ready to give up on COMCAST, especially after I heard that New Customers in the Detroit, Flint, Saginaw and Pontiac areas where usually charged a "deposit" in order to get service, while New Customers in more suburban areas where billed the initial product/hook-up fee. What's that all about? And then the fact that internet was never this expensive ever! (but that's just me being cheap).

All in all a good experience.
And I don't even know his name, or was it COMCAST GUY (an independent contractor)

Now, what does this tell us. Within our business there are different ways that we can interact with clients and leads. Both of these dudes had the opportunity to assist, and although I bet both of them thought they did the best they could, only one really left an impression. The guy that came late, was a bit too out of shape to even make it up to my apartment let alone come up for a second time to actually complete the assignment had he been able to the box. I mean, seriously, why haven't people understood how important it is to KNOW YOUR JOB and complete it in the best of your ability. That often means, stepping your game up. Offer something that no one has offered, i.e. excellent customer service.

Customer Service is oh so important, especially during these "tough economic times" (they should take out the spaces on that phrase and make in the million-oneth word, we've heard it so much) when everyone is springing up with a seedling business. And the fact that people are really holding on to their pennies, and are even more watchful on who they spend their money. Create an ultimate and memorable shopping experience, provide insight into your industry, be prepared for questions/objectives and mostly, be thorough, paying attention to detail is the key ingredient in providing excellent customer service. That and being ready to go the extra mile.

What's the key your customer service success

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Social Networking and Marketing for your small business

I gotta get the panel members for this panel, my minicomputer was acting up. They seem powerful and extremely well-put together.

The dollar doesn't turn around once in the Black community, that means, when a black person gets a dollar, they spend it and more than likely with someone of an opposite race. Out of approximately 6000 businesses that start every year, less than 19% of those businesses are started by blacks. Small business is a major aspect in revitalizing the national economy.

Okay, here are the panel members
Ken Blanks Harrell
Ed Foxworthy
Hajj Flemmings (moderator)
there's a few more, but I am doing this LIVE and I am not keeping up with the names like I should...email me chrisreed07@gmail.com
1. HOW DID YOU IDENTIFY THE BUSINESS THAT YOU ARE IN (marketing)? What was your AH-HA moment?
-Forget about what you think life is and figure out what you enjoy doing and put a dollar sign on it.
-After making so many mistakes, and having self pitty parties, you begin to realize that your loyalty needs to be with you. Maximize your time, improve your skill and make your activities co-inside with your goal. If you say you want to make $1 million, then make it.

Ms. Gillian Blackwell, one of the benefits of the internet, they have leveled the playing field for small businesses and the connections that they can make. But one of the downfalls is that everyone is claiming to be an expert. However, it trying to organizing who is best at what. In my last post I mentioned that small business owners need to find those that are perfectionists in their industries and can help you run your business. But take your mommas advice to heart, You can tell a tree by its fruit. Look at the relationships that your colleagues may have created, take a peek at their e-networking history, listen to what they have to say, do your research..don't go int a situation completely blind.

@ Mr. Ken Blanks Harrell, he demanded that we take notes. He speaks on his success and what prevents them from being successful (making money)
1. There is no need for your service
2. There is no money
3. There is no trust
Staying consistent with your message is very important with how your business lives
Stay relevant with the audience you want, get a website, build your following, be in the face of your audience. Promote yourself. Create a plan that you will be able to make you money.

I am really enjoying this forum, especially when they are talking about FREE methods of social networking and finding leads for your business. It all comes down to building a base, and then using those connections. Thats what facebook, myspace, twitter and the such are for, they are to be used to better define your audience, getting your specific message to the people and most importantly, LISTENING TO YOUR AUDIENCE. Although there are a ton of things to get on sites like ebay and amazon.com, but if you look close enough you can find the things that people want. When building your social network make sure you keep thinking about who you want to meet, what you want them to know about you and why they should want to continue to know you.

Branding - Developing a Professional Image and Polishing Your Brand
All of your information needs to be available to potential clients/customers. Your customers should constantly see it so that when people they know need something, you are the first person they think of it. Gaining HOUSEHOLD BRAND status is very important and very easy, just stay out there, all the time and everywhere. Your branding strategy includes the entire experience a customer has when dealing with you, the way you answer the phone, the presentation of your product, your follow up, the price versus the feel of purchasing your product or service. Develop what it is that is going to be your image.


Thank you to Mr. Harrell for "Own your own, or be owned by someone else." Corporate America is frustrating and I am pretty sure that you feel me on this, let it frustrate you so much that you start your own and do it as good as you can.


What you need to know how to run your business correctly, legally and profitably!

w/ Anita Davis, Managing Director of an Accounting/Tax/Audit firm. Her services is offered to all entities and persons. She assists businesses in establishing structure, assureing each client is efficient accounting practices. She is passionate about economic development in the city and in Black business;
W/ Allen Venable, Attorney at Venable Law PLLC, a litigator by trait, he deals with criminal law and personal injury. He is a strong believer in black business and is happy to offer any assistance;
w/ Nikki Wright, Attorney and Counselor, NR Wright and Associate ; has been in practice for 15 years, she represents businesses on contract, personal injuries, contract/document preparation as well as nonprofit law. She's chosen to sit on the panel after recognizing she can offer legal advice to small businesses; and
w/ Jeane Adams, Attorney, a member of the largest law firm in Detroit, she is a transactional lawyer who specializes in franchise law.

What are some of the things that small business hasnt done to legitimate themselves as an entrepreneur.
Allen V. - Businesses havent sat down and written down how your business fits within the economy and the industry they plan to infiltrate. They havent figured out how to make money, or how they can differ themselves.
N. Wright, business owners, especially new entrepreneurs don't differentiate their funds. They continue to expose their personal assets to risk by co-mingling financials. This puts your assets under pressure, liability issues are a big problem becuase if (god forbid) their is legal action, everything you have can be taken.
Anita Davis - It's hard to manage your business when you don't know how you are spending your money. As business owners we are visionaries, however, an accounting structure is necessary to capture costs and to dive in finding out more about running a business aside from building it.

As always, the panel agreed that business owners often lack when it comes to seeking advice and asking for help. This provides you with not only the proper information, but you build that connection and gain the exposure, and you realize that the people that you are meeting are the RIGHT people.

The proper relationships are very important in running your business.
What type of entity works best for you business?
DBA : Doing Business As, a filing within your country/city that allows for you to complete business

LLC : Limited Liability Corporation, a filing with the State, a basic business filing. Has certain tax benefits over and under the S Corp.

S Corp : Smaller Corporation

C Corp: Large Corporation, board of directors and has many more tax advantages.

Each corporate entity has different tax benefits as well as insurance accompaniments.

The major motif behind this particular forum is ASK FOR HELP get the proper advice, get to a professional. This is global for all, if you are a competent business owner you want people to come to you...accountants, attorneys and consultants are experts in what they do...why not ask them to "hook you up". Utilizing the business of your peers not only grows your network of businesses and people you know.

Products cost money, products for your business, however, make money...in the long run. Visiting random legal document sites is, dare we say, sloppy. Mass created documents aren't as industry specific as a document drafted by your attorney or a statement/tax form created by an attorney. The money that your business spends on itself is an investment, just as a fashion designer wants to have the best fabrics you should also want the best insurance, legal advice, banking rates, location or whatever...investing in how your business is run affects how much your business can make.

Monday, June 1, 2009

On Gaining Comfort..

What to do when you dream about breaking your diet? When you see yourself, as if you were the fly on the wall, and you watched yourself stuff a box of Good n' Plenty down your throat. Now, I know it was just a dream, but dreams mean something, right? Was it my subconscious crying out for more sugar (it ain't happening), was it me testing my strength? Whatever it was, I dreamed I broke my diet. And that ain't right.
Nevertheless, this past weekend I moved to my own little apartment and I can't help but think of myself as a not-as-famous black-Detroit based Carrie Bradshaw...I have a studio, the closet (that you walk through to get to the bathroom) is packed, I'ma writer and the men in my life are as random as my shoe collection. So, maybe I look more like her assistant (J. Hudson's character), but even then these women have goals and a livelihood that they've adjusted to the optimum level of comfort. They fit them. And this diet is teaching me this.

You see, I was addicted to candy. When most 25-year old women go to the store and buy a small bag of pretzels, I was always found nibbling on a Jolly Rancher, Laffy Taffy, Dum-Dum sucker or Gummi Bear. It was horrible, I'd spend about $3 a day on sugary treats (thats $90 a month), and I picked up about 30 lbs. from the time my parents controlled what I bought to now..that's a lot of candy.

So, one day out of the blue after a rude awakening (I actually tore through the trunk of my car to find a mini box of Good n' Plenty) I kicked my habit cold turkey, in the middle of the week. And I couldn't be more happy. More comfortable. And that comfort comes from the fact that I don't get the dangerous mood swings, I can run farther on the treadmill, my hungry-full receptors are really working and my teeth are no doubt whiter. Not to mention I've dropped/reshaped an estimated 10 pounds!

So, make your own comfort people. Introduce positives in your lifestyle, because you are the you that you are going to be for the rest of your life. So either accept it and be miserable, or take control, atleast you'll be comfortable.

Happy Birthday Mom
Have a great Monday people.