Is Customer Service Dead?

You can get your groceries delivered to your door with the click of a button. You can shop hundreds of styles of clothes in less than a minute. You can connect with your friend visiting a town on the other side of the globe in an instant. All of this is possible behind a screen. With that, actual physical interaction with someone is slipping away. With the limited physical touches and conversations going on – has customer service taken a hit? When’s the last time a company went above and beyond for you?

The art of customer service

“Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.”
– Walt Disney

Funny how one of the most valued commodities – if not the most – nowadays is time. You do whatever you can to save nanoseconds. You’d think businesses would see this and increase employees or response times to potential customers. However, it’s increasingly difficult to find someone with enough knowledge to actually answer the questions you need to be answered – whether it’s in-store or online.

In order to make your business stand out – try doing one step more. If you can answer one question – see if you can elaborate and suggest something more. My dad is amazing at this. He’s an upholsterer and every time he’s on a sales call – he always gets asked about the type / colour of the fabric his potential client should use. He answers the question by giving a few options and then BANG! He mentions pillows, and how a contrasting colour will make everything pop. It’s the classic up-sell, but it’s so much more than that. It’s providing value, suggesting something the potential client didn’t even think about, and increasing his profits at the same time.

Customer service quote

What can you do to add that extra touch?

My wife and I’s online shop – EverRose.com is similar. We try to add personal touches everywhere to ensure our fans know we care about them. After all, without them we wouldn’t be in business. My wife writes personal notes to each and every fan who orders. We also take it one step further than most online clothing stores by measuring each piece of clothing. This gives a comprehensive outline on whether or not it’s going to fit you. It’s all about taking it one-step further. It’s a pain in the ass on our end, but the end result is SALES. Plus, our fans love it. How do we know – they tell us in reviews and in personal emails they send us.

This is what makes your business a brand. It makes the person on the other end (customer) feel something for you, and your product / service.

“Courteous treatment will make a customer a walking ad.”
– James C. Penney, Founder, J.C. Penney

You want to know how to limit your advertising spend? Make your experience so memorable to a customer they’ll have no choice, but to recommend you to their friends and family. If that’s not enough – encourage them to do so by following up with requests for reviews (my wife and I do this for every sale by sending a personalized email to each fan). Word-of-mouth is the best form of advertising, and nothing creates more word-of-mouth than outstanding customer service.

It’s not that hard

With the majority of corporations pulling back on their customer service channels, and personnel it’s very easy to stand out. Even being present and engaging in conversation with your potential customer can put you over the top. At the very least give the customer what you’d expect to receive from a company. Then try and out do yourself. Make a suggestion above and beyond the question asked of you. Personalize everything. Respond as quickly as you can, and as honestly as you can.

A few of these will go along way in your customers mind, and will ensure success down the road.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

Working 9 – 5 while having a business on the side

It’s an elusive balancing act that takes some time to master. You want / have to give 100% to your 9 to 5 employer, and you want to build something on your own on the side. I’m living proof that it’s very much possible, however it takes a serious amount of commitment. It’s a game of give-and-take. Do you watch Netflix or do you buckle down and do some bookkeeping? These are just a few of the questions you’ll ask yourself.

Here are some tips on how you can find time to build your business on the side while continuing to commit yourself to a 9 to 5:

 1) Build something online

It’s going to be extremely difficult to build something on the side that you have to attend to like a 9 to 5. That’s why e-commerce is so amazing. You can work on your site whenever you want – and the income rolls in 24-hours a day with little to no work on your behalf. Yes, there is a HUGE amount you have to put in before hand, but when it’s built – it’s a recurring income generator. If you don’t have an idea of what you can do on the side – here’s a quick guide to finding a product to sell online.

 2) Evenings and Weekends

This is your bread and butter. When your 9 to 5 stops – you put on your entrepreneur hat. This can be exhausting, so if you’ve had a tough day at your 9 to 5 – you may need to take an evening off. You don’t want your side biz to interfere and hurt your ability to work your day job. However, it can be done. You’ll have to work for it, and maybe miss out on things in your social life, but if you’re devoted to building something, and providing value to your future customers – you’ll succeed.

My wife and I both have 9 to 5 commitments, which we excel at. Then we come home, and get to our online fashion store – Ever Rose. I usually take 30 minutes to an hour in the morning to work through our social media channels – then I put my 9 to 5 hat on. In the evenings, my wife and I will fulfill orders, take product shots, edit photos, and do website maintenance. We also do our own bookkeeping using Wave.

It’s not easy knowing you won’t have a ‘day off’, but I’ve never done something that is so rewarding. Getting glowing customer reviews and having random strangers purchasing items is pretty cool.

Seth Godin, Seth Godin quote

 3) Have a Calendar

This is uber important. You need to keep track of what you’re going to do. The best way to do this is to have your 9 to 5 calendar as well as your side business calendar. I literally put everything into calendars. My wife makes fun of me because I always say, “If it’s not in my calendar, it doesn’t exist.” This helps me use my 9 to 5 brain power for what needs to be done, and helps automate the side biz for when I come home. It’s nearly impossible for me to forget what I need to do when I come home because an alert pops up every 30 minutes.

This also helps you focus on what needs to be done. You will be worn down, you will be tired, but those little alerts will go a long way in helping building your side biz. They’ll keep you on track, and keep your focus on what needs to be done.

4) Don’t worry about perfection

When it comes to your side business – just do it. Don’t worry about it being perfect or you’re never going to sleep. My wife is big on perfection – I’m big on getting things done and off my plate. What you see as perfect, may not be perfect in your customers eyes. Never waste time on being perfect. You never will be. Just get it done to the best of your abilities and move on.

At the same time, if one of your skills isn’t solid – than you may have to outsource. For example – if your English sucks and your trying to write product descriptions – get someone to proof your work. Whether it be a family member or friend – play to your strengths. You can also look at outsourcing work by using UpWork.

Finally, I know the struggle. I live it everyday, but I also know it can be done. You can be a 9 to 5 superstar and crack the whip on yourself everyday to ensure your side business is a success. Even a few hundred bucks on the side can make a HUGE difference. Whether you’re selling a product or service – you can be a 9 to 5er and an entrepreneur.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

You Say You Do But You Don’t

It’s one of the most frustrating things to come across, and you’re guilty of it too. You say you will, but in reality you don’t ACT on what you say you will act on. How many times have you heard your friend or even yourself say, “I should really work out, but I’ll do that tomorrow.” Then tomorrow comes and you’re on the couch binge watching Netflix.

This is ingrained in our psyches, and it develops through time. This is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome when you’re selling a product or service. And we’re all in sales in one way or another. Whether you’re selling yourself in a job interview or selling a physical product. The customer / client / interviewer will say something when they really won’t follow through. People are guarded, and they build up walls.

I dont trust words I trust actions, actions speak louder than wordss

 

A couple real life examples

1) In my wife and I’s online dress shop (EverRose.com) we carry a few Fair Trade products (on top of trying to carry as many conflict free items as possible) from India where women are paid a living wage to design, and produce amazing looking dresses. We decided to carry this particular line of dresses because in our research we found this was a particular issue with our fans. They wanted Fair Trade dresses, at least that’s what they said. In fact, not a single one has been purchased. Maybe the design isn’t appealing or maybe the price is too high (they usually run $5-10 more). Whatever it is, there’s also a bit of psychology at play. Sometimes you just aren’t who you THINK you are.

2) I publish a couple small community magazines, and one of my tasks is to encourage companies to advertise and connect with this niche market. Rejection comes along quite a bit, and the most often thing I hear is, “Send me something.” I continue to ask for the specifics on what they’d like to see. I then send them what they requested, and guess what – 90% won’t even take a look at it. How do I know? I follow up. Maybe my pitch is off or maybe there’s not enough time in the world, but when you say to send you something, you better take a look at it. Again, there’s a bunch of psychology at play here.

You say these things because you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, or you don’t have a good enough excuse at the time to turn someone down. That’s one of the reasons I enjoy dealing with US business men and women. Business is more black & white, and decisions are made quickly. In Canada – especially in the smaller communities – emotion plays too much in business decisions involving money changing hands. What can I say – us Canadians are too nice, almost to a fault.

Instead of the possibility of hurting someone’s feelings – you’d rather stretch out a decision, waste a bunch of time, and not even take the 2-minutes to look at something from someone who’s trying to help grow your business. Once you’re aware of this – stop doing it. I answer every sales persons email, and phone call whether I’m interested or not. I value other people who are just trying to make a buck, and the last thing I want to do is waste their or my time. On top of that – I may find something I didn’t know about that could be extremely useful to my business.

Actions speak louder than words

In business – while research is a great tool – you also have to be ready to move with what your customers / clients are actually doing. In the dress world – my wife and I have found our best sellers are more form fitting dresses opposed to A-line dresses. Therefore, we’re stocking more form fitting dresses, and getting more sales.

In the consulting world – I’ve moved away from big business, and I’ve started working more with entrepreneurs where English is their second language. In doing what I do – I’ve found this to be the best market for me at this time, and it’s where I can provide the most value.

However, you’ll never know these things unless you act. You can spend thousands on research, and surveys, but you’ll never REALLY know what’s going on unless you do. You have to remember people will not act the way they say the will. They will act the way they act. Saying and doing are completely different things.

Love you (and I’m not just saying that),

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

Why It’s Okay To Have A Bad Day

You know how it feels when nothing seems to go right. You feel it in your gut, and it’s just one thing on top of another. It feels like the world is against you, and nothing can change. You’re having a bad day – and here’s why it’s okay.

bad day, sign, bad day sign, Guy with Bow Tie

1) It’s nothing personal

The world works in mysterious ways. Sometimes you’re up. Sometimes you’re down. It’s a roller coaster, and you’re along for the ride. You can choose which roller coaster to get on to and which one to get off of, but you can’t control other people’s moods, relationships, choices, etc… They’re along for the ride, as you are.

You can’t let it get the best of you. You can be aware of the poor day you’re having, and stop. I usually like going for a walk. You can shut your door and work on admin tasks instead of having to interact with other people. You’re bad day won’t last forever, and tomorrow is an opportunity to start over again.

2) Bad days aren’t a bad thing

As long as you’re aware that this particular day has gone awry – you can act and change your direction, and attitude. I was a firm believer of the concept – NO BAD DAYS – however this is unattainable. When doctors or firefighters have a ‘bad day’ people die. Good thing ‘bad days’ are few and far between. When you have a ‘bad day’ your business might fail or a strong employee might quit. It happens.

Bad days can be tackled by flipping your psychology. Be aware. Don’t let emotions get the better of you. Be in control of your attitude. If you need to cry, if you need to let out your anger – do it. Close the office door, go for a walk, hit a punching bag. Control it and own it, but don’t let it own you for days on end. Tomorrow is a great day to start over. Look at it this way – using the roller coaster analogy – you must go down before you can go up. Know with the bad days there will be a much larger portion of good days. In essence – a bad day means you’re that much closer to having an awesome day.

3) Opportunity

View your bad day as an opportunity to start over. Understand why you’re feeling this way, and think of ways to prevent this feeling in the future. This is why I like going for walks. Almost within a couple hours or so of my day getting started I get a feeling on whether or not it’s going to be a good or bad day.

A colleague of mine would lock himself in his room, turn off his phone, and start over. He would run over why he does what he does, he would read positive reviews of his services, he would go over his scripts, and presentation time-and-time again. This day might have been a poor day for him, but he’s going to ensure tomorrow is a great day.

He viewed it as an opportunity to get better. You can do the same.

4) Roll with the Good Days

Just as you’re self-aware of whether or not it’s going to be a good day or bad day – ensure you roll with the good. Momentum is one heck of a thing. Just as a bad day can ruin you for days or even lead to depression, anxiety, alcoholism, and the list of vices goes on. A good day can lead to endless positive momentum. Yes, there’s going to be a bad day thrown in there, but you need to be aware of when to ride the good wave.

You can visualize your day and how it’s going to go positively. You can do this as soon as you wake up. Grab a glass of water, and sit and think. Don’t check your phone just sit and engage in thought. Think of how good this day is going to be, and visualize what’s going to happen. This can be a powerful process.

Just as you can get lost in the bad, you can also get lost in the good. When you’re feeling good, and you know it’s going to be a good day…roll with it. Make the calls you’ve been afraid to make, reach out to those who you haven’t spoken with in awhile and you’ve been meaning to reach out. Do the challenging things you’ve been putting off, and you might find they work out well for you.

You don’t own the roller coaster of the ups-and-downs; good and bad. You’re strapped in and you must be aware of this. Ensure you accept the bad days, and roll with the good. You’ll be amazed at how many good days there are…and how few bad days.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

Putting money where your mouth is

For the past two years I’ve been passing along unsolicited advice…at least what I considered to be advice. I’ve spent close to a million dollars in the marketing realm from Yellow Pages (yes, they still exist) to Facebook ads. Although 99% of this wasn’t money of my own. Through this I’ve learned the ins-and-outs of how each medium of advertising worked.

Now, I have skin in the game. I’ve followed the advice I’ve been dishing out over the years, and am starting to turn the marketing crank on a couple of my businesses. Maybe the below can help out your business. Here’s a look behind-the-scenes:

Facebook

I hate giving my money to Silicon Valley as I’d prefer to keep it local, but there’s no doubt they have built a successful platform, especially when it comes to marketing your goods / services. There are flaws like not being sure if clicks are actually clicks when it comes to your ads, but you can never really know who’s receiving your message and who isn’t when advertising with any medium.

Typically you can expect to see a 0.2 to 0.3% click-through-rate on your FB ads. My wife and I’s Ever Rose campaigns generate a 2.5 to 4% CTR. Impressions are great especially when starting out because the more people who can see the message the better. At the same time you want to craft a message, that resonates with your potential customers. Here’s how we do it:

Ever Rose Modcloth Directed Ad

The above was targeted to women in certain cities across Canada who had an interest in companies like Modcloth (a US competitor of Ever Rose). We pushed the message out to that audience with a very pointed opening line. We know that our potential fans who are interested in online shopping, especially with a US based company have the pain points addressed in the first line. They don’t like paying duties, high shipping costs or having to deal with a pesky exchange rate.

What are the pain points of your customers or potential customers? If you don’t know – you better find out. Ask questions of your existing fans to see why they spend with you opposed to someone else.

Find what you can own, and hammer away your message. In the case above there was no special tactic. We crafted a message that spoke to the audience we knew we could own (we don’t have a HUGE marketing budget), and we targeted the fans of our competition while knowing the pain points of our potential customers.

Fashion Bloggers

Another way we’ve started to roll out the brand is hooking up with influencers on social media, and the blog-o-sphere. Seeing as we’re a fashion brand – it’s pretty easy to find influences. A simple search on Google or #fashionblogger on Instagram and a bunch come up. From there you can see how many followers, shares, etc… these influencers are generating.

We then reached out to these influences, introduced our brand, and asked to be showcased through their social channels. We have to give up some of our product, but it’s totally worth it to get added exposure.

Another avenue we’ve ventured into is hooking up with like-minded e-commerce businesses. For example – there’s a jewellery shop in Toronto that has some amazing products. We could pair many of these items with our dresses. A simple cross-promotion can go along way.

Who can you reach out to that has a strong following on social media or through their blog? Maybe there’s a blog you read. Try reaching out to him / her, and see if they’d be interested in showcasing your brand in exchange of your product / service. Or extend a hand to a similar business that can compliment your product.

Mass Media

There’s no better way to reach a HUGE number of people with your message than mass media (typically radio, print, TV). At the moment – it’s the most cost-effective way to reach the masses – as long as you believe in their method of surveying their audience. Like I mentioned above – there’s no real way to know how many people are receiving your message.

If you have the budget, and you want to put a strangle hold on your market this is the way to go. At this point and time – my businesses wouldn’t benefit from the added exposure of mass media because there’s not enough inventory or resources to fulfil orders / services.

The key with mass media – as it is with any media – is the message. I can’t stress this enough. How do you craft your message? Check out this post from last year.

SEO & SEM

If you have a decent web developer you shouldn’t have to pump a bunch of money into SEO. I know some companies who charge thousands a month to get you on the first page of Google. What a crock. Find a web developer, who has a clue about how to play the SEO game or reach out to John at Summit Protocol. He’ll shoot you straight. And tell him ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ sent you.

As for Search Engine Marketing – again find what you can own. My biggest thing is to own my name, or the name of my business. I do this through tagging everything on my site with my name or with the brand name of my website (EverRose.com). You might have to dish out some dough to own your name when it comes to search platforms, but it’s worth it. When you Google me – a bunch of articles / social channels will come up. When you Google Ever Rose – we’ll be the first thing you see. OWN YOUR NAME.

If you have any questions or would like a more in-depth explanation on what I covered above – reach out on Twitter or LinkedIn or comment below.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

Journey of the Do – The Launch

It’s finally here. What you’ve been working on for months, maybe years is finally ready to launch. My wife and I’s new biz is in the same boat. We started working on it at the end of January, and now it’s time to launch. As with everything – you probably found a few things pop up that you didn’t expect. Whether it be supplier issues, cash flow issues, design work…whatever. Alas, it’s time to showcase the world what you have to offer. Your gut has been telling you to do this forever, and now it’s your time to do it.

What you’ve learned

For me I’ve always loved the process of starting a business. It’s in the creation where I get really excited, and then I get to sprinkle in my marketing talents, which is even more fun. You may not share the same love as me, but you know you want to create something. Whether you’re a tech company, a contractor, or someone who’s launching a blog about how to eat healthier. Whatever it is you’re a do-er. You’re about to create something when 95% of the population would rather think of cool ideas, but never put the time in to act on them. You’ve learned a lot, and what you’ve learned will stay with you for a lifetime.

This is the scary part

Before you launch there are going to be a bunch of nagging things in the back of your mind like, “What if no one likes what I have to offer?” or “Am I sure this colour scheme really works?”

Whatever is nagging you don’t let it eat you up. You’ve put in all this effort, and now it’s time to launch. This is the moment you’ve been building toward, so don’t stop now.

Funny enough – this is the toughest part. Whether you’re a writer, entrepreneur, designer…it’s always the toughest part to finish. To actually put your product / piece / service / book to market. Why? Because you’re afraid. You’re afraid you’ll fail. You’re afraid people will make fun you. There are so many things urging you to stop when it’s the most important time to move forward. It’s easy to say, but you have to conquer this fear, and you have to finish. Believe me – I know how hard it is to battle these negative thoughts.

Battle the inner voices

One way to battle the ‘lizard brain’ as Seth Godin calls it – is to JUST DO IT (thanks ad agency representing Nike). Keep in mind your product / service doesn’t have to be perfect when you launch. It can still be rough around the edges. That’s okay as long as you’re open about it. Call it a soft-launch. You’re putting the fruits of your labour out there, but you don’t have EVERYTHING figured out yet. There are going to be some things that pop up over time like shipping issues or customer service that you’ll have to take care of, but right now you have no idea about what’s to come. By soft-launching you’ll be able to test the waters, get your processes down, and truly find if there’s a market for what you have to offer.

For my wife, and I – we have a limited product selection of female fashions, and we’re okay with that. We’re also very transparent about how new we are. We want to build something alongside our customers.

First, and foremost – we’re going to reach out to family and friends to take a look at our site, and to potentially even order stuff from us. We want to build organically before we start turning the marketing crank. Early adopters of your brand are generally more lenient on you than the general public. Early adopters understand there may be some hiccups when a business is first starting out, so attach on to these early adopters, and work with them to build your business. In our case – the early adopters are going to be friends and family. How do we know? They’ve already been apart of our research before we decided to jump into this business.

Here it is

Ever Rose, Fashion, womens fashion, dress, dresses

I’ve also decided to share this with you. Maybe you’ll like it. Maybe you won’t. Ever Rose has launched and you can check it out here: www.everrose.com.

Currently, we’re only shipping to Canada, but you can still provide feedback from wherever you are in the world. Please take a look around. Let me know what you like, don’t like or can improve.

Thank you for being apart of the journey from day one to launch. The Journey of the Do is now complete. Now, comes the tricky part…actually keeping this thing going 🙂

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

Journey of the Do – What’s in a name?

The name of your business is one of the most overlooked, and important parts of your business. Some owners will use their personal name or pull something out of thin air, and say, “That sounds good.”  This may have worked 50 years ago, when there was only one baker, locksmith, carpenter, etc… Now, it’s an extremely competitive market with you not only having to compete with businesses in, and around your community, but also around the world.

So what’s in a name?

This week I had someone refuse to work with me based on the name effUmarketing. She thought it was highly inappropriate. I said, “Good!” A name is supposed to evoke a response…a feeling. I was thrilled when it brought upon that feeling. Why? Because it means she felt something for my brand. She will probably never forget me now. Funny enough, effUmarketing also evokes a strong emotion in the people who do work with me. They love the name, they love how it’s different, and they love how it immediately shines a light on who I am for, and who I am not for. If you’re a church group – I’m probably not for you. If you’re someone who has a bit of an edge, and isn’t afraid to piss a few people off – then I’m for you.

In a world where everyone has a say (thanks internet), you have to stand for something. When you stand for something – you’ll have people who love you, and people who hate you. Those are the facts, and if you want to get into business you’ll have to accept that. Some of the savviest business owners get this, and aren’t afraid to flaunt it. Mercedez-Benz is Mercedez-Benz for a reason. They’re a premium brand, and they showcase it at every moment. When they design a car, the don’t design it for a low-income family in mind.

What’s your sandbox?

When you first went to school you immediately found people formed groups. Usually the girls stuck together, and the guys stuck together. Then as you got older, the jocks hung out, the nerds, the theatre people, etc…Think Breakfast Club. This happens for a reason. People play in a sandbox where they’re most comfortable. They like hanging out with people with similar mindsets, and interests. Think about who you hang out with. It probably says a lot about who you are.

sandbox, empty sandbox, kids toys in sandbox

Who’s playing with you?

In business – you have to be aware of what sandbox you’re playing in. Mercedez-Benz is in a certain sandbox, Dodge is in a certain sandbox. Yes, they have others playing in that sandbox, but they’re self aware of who they are, and who they’re playing with. The same can be said for Facebook, and Snapchat. Facebook encourages you to share everything publicly, where Snapchat is for those who want to have some privacy.

Quick test

When you understand what sandbox you’re playing in or going to be playing in find similar companies, and look at their name, their logo, the look and feel of their website. What are they trying to convey? How do they make you feel? Once you get an idea of who’s doing what in your sandbox – that’s when you should start thinking of a name. Is it going to be a hard name like effUmarketing or is it going to be a softer name like Ever Rose (my fashion company – coming soon). What colours are you going to use to convey a certain feeling?

When naming your business, try to stay aware from something that can become an acronym. How many names can be shortened to BBC, CAA, DLP, MNP, etc… If you can find one word, that may sound ridiculous at this present time for your company use it. Google is a ridiculous name when you think about it. At the same time, it’s different, sounds good off the tongue, and it’s kind of fun to say.

Questions to ask yourself: Does your name convey the mindset you’re in? Does it convey a feeling to those who could be your potential customers? Remember your sandbox, and then find a name.

In my case – if I had a different name other than effUmarketing – I probably could’ve worked with the potential client I mentioned above. However, she probably doesn’t share the same mindset or the same values as I do. Which probably means we wouldn’t get along, my ideas would be watered down, and I wouldn’t be a very effective partner for her.

Don’t be afraid of who you are, what sandbox you’re in or who your customers are. A name will help build that identity for you. A name will create a feeling, and following. We haven’t changed much since we were kids. Find your sandbox, know your identity, and create a name that reflects that.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft