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Treat your customers well, your repeat customers better

An example of really bad customer service…

We had to purchase some hard drives for a server few months ago. Due to the nature of the setup, we needed to get the exact same drive models that were currently being used in the server. We went to one of the companies that we routinely purchase products from and placed an order for 2 hard drives. The next day we received an email from the company stating that they could not ship our order because our Paypal address was unconfirmed. Having moved by one business unit to the unit next door. We explained to them that we were in the next office down, and that we didn’t want the drives to get delivered to the previous location…

Well, it didn’t matter that we have bought thousands of pounds in server and computer hardware in the past few years, or that the address was 1 unit number different, or that we actually called them. They would only ship to a confirmed address which lost them our order and possibly our future business.

This cost them £10, and they probably lose 20 more orders from me over the next 5 years.

An example of really good customer service.

A colleague owns a number of fish tanks, and purchased some supplies including a very low cost automatic timer from a well know online pet supply retailer around the same time as the hard drive debacle. The timer didn’t work properly, and in the midst of a busy schedule, 9 birthdays, 2 business trips, and 2 holidays he forgot to contact them about getting it replaced. Finally getting around to it, he read their return policy and it understandably said he needed to return the dysfunctional equipment to them. Since the shipping would cost about the same as re-purchasing the item, he gave them a call and asked if he really needed to send it back… Ah, he found out that he was past the refund point by a month and a half…

Even so, they decided to replace it for free and they didn’t require him to send back the broken one. This is what we call above and beyond customer service, and it’s guaranteed that next time he needs something for one of his aquariums, they’re the first place he’ll stop.

This cost them £10, and they probably get 20 more orders from him over the next 5 years.

These are polar examples of a very important concept… Your existing customers are not and should not be treated like your new ones!

It’s a well accepted principle in marketing and business in general, that your existing customer is easier and cheaper to sell to than a new customer. Additionally for ecommerce, selling to your existing customer poses a significantly lesser security and fraud risk than any new customer, especially in a case like this where the customer has placed several orders over several years.

If you want to create a remarkable online business, create the best experience for new customers, and make it even better, easier, and more efficient, for repeat customers.

There’s no reason to assume all customers should be treated the same. The majority of shoppers only place one or two orders with a website (Unless we’re talking about someone like Amazon). For this reason, you should make it as easy as possible for repeat customers to order from you, and you should give first time shoppers reasons to come back. It’s significantly cheaper to entice an existing customer to make another purchase than to go out and find a new customer.

If you think you’re significant enough that most of you shoppers wont go somewhere else if the price or service is much better, think again.

The real reality check…

Sure our business is insignificant in the long run. Anycorp may have only made a few hundred pounds in profit from us over the past few years. However, in this world of social media exchange, one persons rant can reach many thousands of other people very quickly. They could be current customers that could decide to shop somewhere else.

American Airlines Business Model Strategy Bet

In the high-testosterone game of Chicken, two drivers race towards each other at accelerating speeds. The first driver to veer his car off the path loses the game. Clearly win-win solutions fail to exist in this game. Either one player proves his cowardice, or both players crash.

A physically safe, but economically lethal game of Chicken is at play in the airline industry right now with BA in one of the drivers’ seats. BA wants travel agencies to bypass booking on Global Distribution Systems and instead use BA’s own direct-connect network to book tickets. Global Distribution Systems (GDS) consolidate and keep up to date hundreds of airlines’ fares and schedules, presenting them to travel agents and online travel agencies like Expedia. GDS companies earn revenue from the airlines for any tickets booked on their system, sharing some of the revenue with the booking agents. Many GDS companies own on-line travel agencies. For example, Sabre, the largest GDS, owns Travelocity and, prior to 2000, was owned by BA.

BA says it’s trying to work with the middlemen; it wants tickets booked directly on its system so that it can “up-sell” customers with services that add fees (more leg space, extra points, etc.), thereby improving BA’s average ticket price.  The middlemen like Expedia smell a rat and are playing their own game of chicken, delisting BA from their sites or giving its flights much less attractive billing. Like unions that knew the first auto company contract set the tone for all that followed, the GDSs and Expedias of the world aren’t going to give an inch. BA reported Monday that it earned a temporary injunction keeping Sabre from downplaying BA flights on Sabre’s search results to travel agents.

Many companies have cut the middleman out, or reduced their role, to reduce costs. “Big box stores” for example are such a big part of our vocabulary, landscape and economy that we sometimes forget life before them. Walmart, Office Depot and many other companies eliminated independent distributors – once dominant in connecting retailers and manufacturers – from their value chains. The resulting cost advantage over local retailers helped big box stores wipe out a ton of high street local retailers.

As consumers, we should be concerned if GDS companies disappear. Their role in creating price transparency is vital as they advance price competition among airlines. But rather than focus all your anger on BA, consider that GDS companies deserve some of the blame for the current crisis.  Airlines are a vital strategic customer and GDS companies should have been working proactively with airlines to help them execute their marketing plans through the GDS channel.

What advice does this strategist have for BA? Avoid being penny wise and pound foolish.

How To Find A Cheap Website Hosting Service By Utilizing A Web Hosting Directory

Most webmasters want to get value for money and at the same time are not willing to trade off quality in exchange for a cheap website hosting service. That’s the beauty of carefully picking a great hosting company with the help of Rustyice Solutions.

A properly run hosting service will include online web site hosting providers that have the skills required to host your web site and keep it running despite whatever the web throws at it on a daily basis.

Is a cheap website hosting service really a good idea?

As long as you have an accurate definition for cheap then a cheap hosting is a great idea. The word “cheap” should never have anything to do with the quality of the hosting service you are buying. It should only refer to the price and nothing more. If you end up hosting your business/site on a cheap server that the hosting company can’t afford to hire support technicians to staff their data center 24 hours a day, you will quickly regret picking the wrong hosting provider.

And that’s where a good hosting broker comes in to save the day!

How do you differentiate a good website hosting directory from a bad one?

A good hosting directory maintains enough listings of top hosting providers/sites especially cheap hosting companies, to give you sufficient options when making an informed hosting choice.

Regarding informed decisions, one very important feature to watch out for when choosing a hosting directory to enable you find inexpensive website hosting is the ability for users of the website hosting companies to be able to post their comments as well as experiences for others to see and judge for themselves. That way you get the chance to see what people think about the quality of service that a cheap hosting company offers before you commit to hosting your site with any of them.

Where you host your site is very important to the success of your business. You need help and advice to find cheap website hosting that renders a great commitment to service as well as support. Ensure that you only depend on a good web hosting broker to help you make that sensitive and important decision.

How to rank higher in Google Places/Local in the UK

Google Places is the single biggest change to the natural search results this year and considering the resources Google are investing in making the system work its something that every single website needs to start using.

At present Google Places results are shown for geographical queries such as “plumber in Leeds” as well as the more general “plumbers” query. In the future I can imagine Google will start showing these results for pretty much everything.

My feeling is that the recent changes are very positive. The old Google Local system wasn’t very good and the move towards a single algorithm will mean more investment and better services for website owners. Already the results are impressive, we’ve run some tests and you can now edit your listings and the changes will appear in the main Google Places search results in real time. Being able to change a Google search result in real time was unheard of until this new system rolled out.

Another big improvement is the way Pending Listings are actually being reviewed now rather than sitting in a queue for months. We’re seeing review times of sub 24 hours now which is excellent.

One of the strange bugs/features in the system is that the Places results are not using the URLs submitted via Google Local Business Center which means tracking tags are being lost.

The first step is to get your business verified via post or phone and then to fill in your entire listing. Don’t miss anything out. Then make sure you tag your URLs with Google Analytics tags, you can either just copy the format below or use the Google URL builder.

The next step is to build some citations around the web, citations are the equivalent of links in Google Places. First of all you need to find existing mentions of your business and make sure they all use the same details, address, URL, phone number. Try tools such as Get Listed to see what information people know about your business already.

Next you need to generate some new citations from sites that Google trusts. The list below is a very good starting point.

Local Data Company
Market Location
City Visitor (part of Infoserve)
Trusted Places
Brown Book
We Love Local
Thomson Local
Touch Local
View London (& every other city they offer)
London Online
Visit London
All in London
Square Meal
UK Cities
Smile Local
Hot Frog
Free index

Finally you need to generate some reviews. It’s illegal to write these yourself or to get your friends/staff/family/SEO agency to do it. The best way is to email your customers and ask them to add reviews for you on sites such as Yelp. If you would like further assistance in taking your site through this process please contact Rustyice Solutions today.