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Time to Hang Up the Phone? 9 May 2008

Filed under: Small Business — worddocdooley @ 12:08pm
Tags: , , , , ,

There is a great debate going on over at Flying Solo’s blog on email versus phone. And let’s not even get started on texting as a business tool.  😉

I personally prefer email. Perhaps that’s because I’m a ‘typical’ writer; fairly eloquent on paper, but face to face or over the phone..!

What I particularly like about email is that it allows me to receive instructions by email that I can, if need be, print off and re-read, ticking off items as I work through them. Moreover, if there is some ambiguity or lack of clarity in the email author’s words, I can reply to the email highlighting that which I don’t understand. Far too often, things can be misconstrued or forgotten when communicating over the phone.

In essence, for me, having a ‘virtual paper trail’ means I don’t overlook or misinterpret that which may have been said (or not quite) over the phone.

That’s not to say I totally ignore the phone. Indeed, it can be a very useful tool, and at times certainly more direct than email. But, as a home-worker, what I have found that if I answer every phone call as it comes in, I wouldn’t ever get any project work done. When working on a client project, it’s important to have focus . . . and that means no interruptions of any kind. Hence, the answerphone is by next best friend.  

What about you? Are you a phonephobe? Do you hate email as a business tool? Perhaps you can’t live without it, and work with clients one-on-one almost exclusively by email consultation… Do tell! I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts.

 

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Businesses Ignore Customers’ Emails at Their Peril 27 March 2008

More than half of leading organisations are still ignoring customers’ emails, according to new research.

This seems counter-intuitive and, from a business point of view, rather foolish…

As a busy sole trader, I take the time to provide as detailed a response as possible to customer queries. With prospective customers, I aim to respond to their emails within 24-48 hours. With existing customers, I like to get back to them as soon as I can, often within the same day their emails are received.

Naturally, when deadlines are looming or I’m away on business, this can be put off target. But usually it works out just fine.

Due to the nature of being a sole trader, anything above and beyond this is nigh on impossible. There are so many ‘hats’ one can wear.

That said, I would expect a larger company to have an adequate and speedy customer-response system in place. There is nothing worse than a company who goads you into becoming their customer with fast, efficient email responses, only to drop off once they have you in their database… 

For all e-commerce businesses, customer fulfilment should be one of the most important aspects of running that business. Most business owners would be alarmed to think that customers leave a company not necessarily because they’re disillusioned with the product, but rather the service (or lack of it).

With today’s ‘need it now’ online culture, it is absolutely crucial that every promise made to your customer is fulfilled on target, on time…

How do you measure up? 

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Correct Email Etiquette 4 February 2008

  1. Be as careful about spelling, grammar and punctuation as you wold be if you were writing a letter.
  2. Double-check your email before hitting ‘Send’.
  3. Answer important emails promptly. When customers and prospective customers send an email, they are generally looking for a  swift response – try to answer their queries within 48 hours.
  4. Do NOT forward chain letters – apart from not being professional, it will simply waste other people’s time. They tend to ‘clog’ up the information superhighway, too.
  5. DO NOT WRITE IN ALL CAPITALS. It will make you look like you are SHOUTING.
  6. When responding to a forum email, do not simply hit ‘respond’ – especially if you are on digest. Having to scroll down a full history of everyone’s email messages is a huge pain in the you know where. Instead, copy and paste the relevant part of the message you are responding to.  

Source: Start Your Business magazine, issue 15, p28 

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Avoiding the ‘Delete’ Key 23 January 2008

Aside from the barrage of spam emails singing the virtues of the likes of cunning cialis, very viagra, plenty penis, wonky watches, email marketing still works. 

The key is targeting. (Of course, I’m assuming that you already have an opt-in list. Shame on you if you do not!) 

Gloss over correctly identifying your target market, and your email campaign will sink faster than The Titanic. 

Once you know who will buy your products or services, then you need to know what kind of offer they will lap up. That decided, you still need to do some leg work…

What kind of language is your target audience familiar with? What ‘trigger’ words will catch their attention? How can you appeal to their emotions while offering something useful? Can you engage them into a ‘conversation’ with your copy? Is what you are offering –– both in terms of content and the actual offer –– relevant

The point is that you don’t want to waste your prospects’ time (or test their patience) with self-serving general nonsense.  


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Email is Top Marketing Tool 15 October 2007

Email continues to be the marketing tool of choice in B2B marketing. In a recent survey, more than 80% of UK B2B marketers surveyed consider email to be an essential part of their marketing mix.

The majority of B2B marketers said they prefer to use email to communicate with existing customers, be it to build relationships with their customers or to up sell/cross sell additional products or services.

The future looks promising, too – with most businesses citing that they expect their email marketing budgets to continue to grow.

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The survey, conducted by B2B Marketing magazine, also showed that B2B marketers are planning to use email more selectively in the future, which supports the increased confidence B2B marketers have in email as an effective marketing tool.

“The results of this survey highlight the importance of email in the B2B marketing mix,” says Joel Harrison, editor B2B Marketing magazine. “B2B marketers are embracing email and we will see it grow to become a key part of any B2B marketing strategy.”

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