Written by: Liz Fredrichs, EVP at BBB Serving Wisconsin
Monday, January 26, 2015
Recently, a local retailer made this statement to me when she was trying to decide whether to renew her annual Accreditation. “But, none of my customers know who the BBB is because they are in their 20’s and haven’t used your website.”
My question is “why not?”
If your customers haven’t used the BBB, or don’t know the mission and why you’re supporting our BBB community, maybe you could tell them. After all, do we think that someone in their 20’s can’t have their identity stolen, lose money by buying from an unethical player in our market, or fall for an online scam on Craigslist?
Most young people today resonate with our mission to advance trust in the marketplace because they have a strong social conscience. They want to work for, and do business with, ethical companies. BBB brings them information, news, and business reports without the hype or marketing messages. They would probably like to have an informational resource that is dedicated to helping them make good buying decisions on their own. They can also find assistance for issues they can’t resolve on their own, or join in the conversation on good companies through positive customer reviews.
It is also important for them to know that you believe in an organization that monitors and researches ethical business practices, like being honest in your advertising, protecting your clients privacy and dedicated to excellent customer service. These are all attributes of character on your BBB Standards of Trust.
We can provide the “Standards of Trust” flyer as a tool so you and your front line sales staff can display what you believe and stand for in your business. Nothing demonstrates a company’s core values more than where they invest their funds, and your financial support provides all of the free services that our local community uses every single day.
Everyone, regardless of their age, wants to know they’ve made the right choice after they sign that dotted line. Giving your customers the assurance that you believe in, and support, integrity in all of your dealings will help them feel assured that they’ve chosen well.
Monday, January 12, 2015
The world of sales is constantly evolving. New competitors can emerge at any minute, and you have to be willing to adapt as the market changes or you face the possibility of being left behind. Whether you are just getting started or looking to refresh your sales strategy, here are some useful ways to increase sales for your business:
1. Develop a clearly defined mission
The most important part of your business is making sure you have clear statement of what your business aims to achieve. Your employees and consumers should have no doubts that you are 100% committed to the mission of your business. Your belief in the product or service you are selling can have a huge impact how your employees sell it.
2. Sell to customers needs
You should always operate within the assumption that your customer will only buy what they need. Emphasizing the features of a product or service you are offering may convince the consumer of their need for it. Remember to be creative in your approach!
3. Outline your sales process
Having an updated Best Practices document readily available for your employees can make a big difference rather than relying on them to come up with their own strategy. Outlining a comprehensive, step-by-step process allows for a clear standards that can be measured. Once documented, these procedures can also drive training, coaching, and marketing efforts.
4. Get creative!
The world is constantly changing and it is important to stay on top of trends that fall in line with your business philosophy. Never thought about using social media? It may be time to start that Twitter account. Play on the creative strength of your staff to find new and refreshing ways to close your sale.
How do you refresh your sales strategy? Comment below!
Wednesday, January 7, 2015
There was a bit of good news for businesses delivered by the Federal Trade Commission that may have gone unnoticed. The FTC brought charges, with the help of the Better Business Bureau, against a company that sold credit and debit card payment processing services to small businesses. If you own a business that accepts credit or debit cards, you know costs for this customer convenience can really add up.
According to the FTC, the company – Merchant Services Direct, a.k.a. Sphyra, Inc. – made deceptive claims and misled merchants about the fees and costs for its services and equipment. Since the BBB receives a lot of complaints (almost 2,400 in 2013) against payment processing services, here are some tips for businesses to help them choose a reputable company to provide this service:
Know who you’re dealing with. Don’t let a shady sales person falsely claim that they work for your current credit card processor. Ask for identification and call your current processor directly to verify, using a phone number you know to be legitimate.
Watch out for red flags. If a sales person promises that they can reduce your payment processing costs by “cutting out the middleman” or offers “wholesale pricing”, beware. All payment processors are middlemen and there are no wholesale prices. All rates for the payment network -- known as interchange rates -- are the same for merchants and are generally non-negotiable.
Know what IS negotiable to get a better deal. Only two factors contribute to price differences: 1) the types of cards you accept (i.e. – debit cards or rewards cards); and 2) the fees that payment processors and others in the card payment processing sales chain charge for their services. Discounts – the rates above the interchange – and fees are negotiable or will vary from one company to another. If a sales person claims to waive a fee, make sure you get that promise in writing.
Watch for hidden fees to lease Point of Sale (POS) equipment. Be wary of any sales person who offers “free” equipment, but buries in the fine print that you have to pay monthly “insurance” or other fees. Before signing a lease, shop around. Leases can be very pricey, and you often end up paying thousands of dollars for equipment you can buy for much less.
Get copies of all signed documents. It’s your best defense against unscrupulous sales people who alter documents or add terms to lines that are left blank.
Before purchasing a product or service, be sure to check out companies with BBB at bbb.org.
Before purchasing a product or service, be sure to check out companies with BBB at bbb.org.
Have any tips to add to this list? Let us know in the comments below -
Monday, December 15, 2014
Imagine this: During your company’s busiest time of year, you discover that your database has been hacked and thousands of your customers’ personal information has been stolen. This scenario isn’t just the nightmare of retailers like Target; it could happen to any business – large or small. In fact, Verizon reports that 40 percent of data breaches in 2012 happened to small businesses with fewer than 100 employees.
If this happened to your business, would you be able to recover? Would potential new customers ever trust you? Would current customers want to return? The time to prepare a response plan – and avoid the public relations debacle that could hurt or even ruin your business – is now, before disaster happens.
Even though you’re a small business, without the financial resources to mitigate a data breach that a company like Target might have, there are some simple things you can do now to be prepared, just in case. A good place to start is BBB’s toolkit, “Data Security Made Simpler”. It’s an easy-to-read tutorial on how to protect your business from a data breach, what to do if your customers’ data is compromised, information for companies who do business abroad, and much more. It includes helpful checklists and a treasure trove of valuable resources.
Yes, it might take some time to go through all of the material. It would be a great project for you to complete after the busy season when you have some down time. Hopefully, you’ll never need a data breach response plan. But if you do, you’ll be glad you have one. It could save your business.
Written By: Susan Bach, NE Regional Director at BBB Serving Wisconsin
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
The holidays are a special time of year, highlighted by the three F’s – family, food, and … fighting? Not fighting over who gets the last drumstick or whether Home Alone is better than A Christmas Story. I’m talking about retailers and brands fighting for consumer attention during the busiest shopping time of the year.
The month between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the biggest opportunity brands and retailers have each year, but it’s also incredibly competitive, so it’s crucial to reach and communicate with your customer audience in the correct way.
One way to do so is through social media. The holiday season is filled with social posts about gifts bought, deals found, and complaints of poor customer service. Now like never before, brands and retailers have the ability to connect directly with their customers and create a more personal shopping experience.
Here are four tips for how brands can get savvy with their social media marketing during this year’s holiday madness.
1. Drive that local cheer.
The holidays experience in New York is different than in San Francisco. Your messaging should reflect that. Leverage geo-targeting tools to know from where your customer is. Then you can create content they can relate to and messaging that resonates with a personalized brand experience.
2. All I want for Christmas is user-generated content.
How do you connect with audiences when they are already inundated with advertisements? You make them the hero. Businesses that can actively leverage user-generated content are the ones that will drive deeper connections with fans. Most people today are programmed to ignore ads. Showcasing authentic photos of your audience drives your intended message while encouraging a deeper, emotional interest from new and loyal fans alike. Relate to them with real people, in real moments, using your product and services.
Your featured fans get credit and interaction, audiences find trust in real people using your product or service, and your brand will better understand what motivates your audience. Everyone is jolly.
3. Deck the social walls.
The best way to harness a viral lift is to showcase your interactive experience. Remember, the more observable you make a campaign, the easier it is for your fans to imitate.
Create a social hub with aggregated content from multiple social channels on your website or microsite to capture audiences online. Your consumers can then share with their social community when you feature them, extending your reach. But don’t forget about in the store. Providing social displays, with easy calls to action at physical locations, are a simple, yet effective way to generate engagement.
4. Multiple chimneys equal multiple presents.
Facebook is still expected to be the channel of choice for holiday social spend, as 92 percent of marketers are planning extensive campaign efforts for this one platform. But 73 percent of marketing professionals think Instagram is going to be the breakout platform for this year’s holidays.
Don’t silo yourself to one social-media platform. Instead, create content on the appropriate channels for your audience, each with native content focused exclusively to that channel. Your Facebook posts, Instagrams and Tweets should drive the same idea, but the content should be customized to resonate best with each channel’s unique community.
Think of your various social media channels as your own little elves, and put them to work for you this holiday season. Utilize these tips and you’ll win the holiday retail battle while leaving your customers filled with joy.
What social media marketing will your company be doing this holiday season? Comment below.
Monday, December 1, 2014
You got duped. Deceived, hoodwinked, bamboozled. You went against your gut (and you didn't check BBB.org) and someone just walked away with your valuable money or time. Getting scammed is not a great feeling. In an effort to avoid getting this, familiarize yourself with these six ways to avoid getting scammed!
What other ways can you think of to help avoid scams! Comment Below!
- Do Not take someone at their word. Always do your homework. Ask lots of questions and check with your BBB. If a business tells you they are accredited with BBB, double check. It’s always best to be skeptical and thorough when dealing with businesses and solicitors.
- Do Not become emotional. Never allow yourself to get wrapped up in the story a solicitor is telling you. Scammers feed on people who allow their emotions to dictate their actions. If you believe their tragic or sad or exciting story, the scammer is more likely to make money off of you.
- Know common persuasion tactics. Scammers like to try to ignite emotion in their victim. They either manipulate the victim’s emotions or use fear to get what they want. If you get an unexpected phone call and are being asked for money (recently people were getting phone calls from the IRS demanding immediate payments with the threat of jail time if the payments were not made immediately) ask questions. If you have an uneasy feeling about something call your BBB. Never blindly hand out your personal information or money.
- Do Not act impulsively. Downloading files, clicking pop-ups, signing up for trial offers, and opening emails from unknown senders are all behaviors to avoid if you want to protect yourself from a scam or from being hacked.
- Do Not be afraid to be rude. Often the people who end up scammed are those who feel bad about hanging up the phone or shutting the door in someone’s face.
- Always protect your personal information. This last tip is vital. Always shred personal documents or keep them locked up. Shred credit card offers that come in the mail. Anything that has your social security number or your banking information on it needs to be destroyed. Never use the same password for all of your accounts and change it frequently.
With the holidays just around the corner, it can be challenging to remain visible to your prospects and customers. There are key actions you can take through social media, special offers and personalized customer service to promote your business while maintaining relationships through the holiday season.
1. Be Social