Tag Archives: Business Tips

What Are Your Customer Friction Points?

Nancy McCord is a Google and Bing Partner
Nancy McCord is a Google and Bing Partner

Friction points, it’s all about finding where customers have trouble completing during the buying process with you and fixing the issues.

Here are some examples of friction points:

Buyers have trouble downloading completed video files for a drone photography agency. What can be done? Maybe using Drop Box with easy to follow instructions and photos on what to do next for a file download.

Prospects have trouble understanding what is included in a blog post sale. How can that be clarified? Maybe posting samples of content with the right word count and number of links to help a prospect understand the type and quality they will receive on your website to prequalify prospects before they even call.

Buyers have trouble getting contract documents to sign and return. How can the process be easier? Maybe using a digital signing service and online document archive would work to speed the return process.

Each business has their own unique set of friction points. Making things easier for people to buy from you is not all e-commerce focused. Friction points exist even for transactions with  consultants and business to business sales, and for people who do not even sell items on their website.

My own company’s friction points have previously been: blog writing samples and writing expectations, prospects not having the proper technology to send or receive a contract, and buyers needing an online self-serve credit card payment center.

Are you hearing the same issues over and over from clients and prospects? That is a friction point. Now’s the time to identify what yours are and do something specific to address them to make buying from you and your company frictionless.

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The Burger King Syndrome

Nancy McCord a Google Partner and Bing Partner
Nancy McCord a Google Partner and Bing Partner

The Burger King Syndrome? Yes, that is what I call it when a customer wants everything their way right away. Now, mind you, that is not necessarily a bad thing to want something your way – sometimes.

It’s great to want things your own way. I want them my own way too. But it’s not a good thing if a client is not willing to pay for that level of customization.

In some cases, where you are working with an ecommerce store theme that is a template-driven application, you may not be able to get your product images in a different position than the theme template allows – no matter how much you might be willing to pay to make that change. It is important to understand, there are simply some things that simply cannot be customized to your personal specifications.

Here is where addressing customer expectations in advance is very important as well as having a contract for a project. If, as part of a project, a customer expresses needs that you know will not be workable, you can always shift the customer to a different item before work even starts. And before the contract is enacted.

Taking time to evaluate needs and clarify what is supplied, what can be customized, and what additional options can be purchased, is all a part of taking good care of a customer and providing excellent customer service. I personally never rush the early part of a project before contract.

No one likes to hear – no we can’t do that, but sometimes you may simply not be able to have it your own way.

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Improve Your Cash Flow with These Business Tips

Don't Let Cash Run Out, Get Proactive
Don’t Let Cash Run Out, Get Proactive

Improve your cash flow with my easy to use and implement tips for small business owners.

Late Fees and Interest
Make sure you put a late fee (I use $15 to $25) in your work agreement and spell out how much and when you charge interest on late payment. My terms are net 10 days and on the 28th of the month I assign late fees and interest. Even big companies will adhere to a signed agreement and pay my late fees. So spell out your requirements so you have leverage.

Monitor Payments and Contact Late Payers After 5 Days
My payments are due the 5th to 10th of each month. On the 15th I contact all clients who have not submitted a payment and ask if they need a copy of the invoice and remind them of the date I assign late fees and interest.

I have to say that this is the key to keeping my clients current has significantly improved my cash flow. If you do not enforce your own contract no one else will. If you let people pay you late and not pay the contracted penalties, you are setting yourself up to be paid consistently late. It was only when I started to enforce my own contract with customers and got proactive, well before the late date, that I started to get consistent on-time payment results.

Move Chronic Late Payers to Auto Billing
When a client is a chronic late payer, I try to move them to our auto billing program. This way I have a credit card on file and I bill the card on the 5th of each month.

Move Chronic Credit Card Decline Customers to Prepay
When a client has repeated credit card declines, I move them to a prepay basis before the new service month even starts. That way I do not perform any services where payment is doubtful.

In Conclusion – Be Flexible But Firm

Being in business since 2001, I have seen it all and been stiffed for payments large and small. What I have found is that people will only pay you in the fashion that you detail in your agreement and that then you actually enforce.

There is nothing worse for a small business owner than to perform a service and to never get paid for it or to have to chase down a client for months to get payment for services.

As for me, now, I will simply stop performing services when there is a payment problem. I unfortunately have allowed clients in the past to take advantage of me by ringing up a bill, accepting the promise of a  payment next month, and then having to chase them for payment or to having to write off all my billings with that client as a bad debt.

Experience has been the wisest teacher for me in the area of improving my business cash flow. If you have tips on how you keep your own clients current leave me a comment. I’d love to know what you do.

 

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How to Get Clients to Value Your Time

Nancy McCord is a Google and Bing Partner
Nancy McCord is a Google and Bing Partner

Can you teach others to value your time? Yes, you sure can. I have been in business since 2001 and over time my business and client load and demand for my services have grown significantly.

As a business professional who makes a living off of time billing, I have learned a few things about helping clients learn to value my time.

Use Calendly
I use an appointment calendaring app called Calendly. I started out with the free version of Calendly but now use the premium paid version. This app moved me from one to six emails (for each client) to schedule a mutually available time for client strategy calls to now one email with a link and the client self-selects a time and even gets automated reminders.

I even use Calendly for pre-paid consulting appointments, linking the notifications in the app to my billing page to get payment before I even get in the car.

Rarely Talk on the Phone Except by Appointment
Most of my correspondence is done by email. I have voice mail messages letting clients and prospects know the best and fastest way to get me is by email. I typically send all my phone calls to voice mail. This puts me in charge of my day and time allowing me to be highly productive.

Set Email Auto Responder Messages
If I am super busy and not available to react immediately to an email, I set up a “vacation” notice that I am super busy that day and list the times I will be checking email. I will always respond that same day, but sometimes am tied up on a code issue, SEO problem, or AdWords program set up. Interruptions on some of these projects kill the thought continuum and are serious  distractions. When I am working on a project I have a laser-beam focus and operate at a high level of efficiency and competency. Calls distract from that focus.

By communicating when I will respond, I assure clients that I will touch base back. I do however perform triage. If there is a disaster happening – I will stop my project to help. I do have a strong sense of urgency when it comes to assuring that your site is up and fully functional or that a real time sensitive problem is addressed quickly.

Set Limits on Free Services
Although I am willing to freely share my thoughts and time with prospects, I do limit the time I will spend without moving into a paid client category. I do clock all my time chatting with a prospect. Typically at the end of 30 minutes I will go and then followup by email with a request to move to a paying client category. I have been burned a number of times and now I do value my own time. The most important thing I have found is if you do not value your own time, clients will not value it either.

That being said, you do not have to be rude, pretentious, or full of yourself by setting limits and guiding customers on how best to use your services effectively. I always try to be helpful yet focused.

In all I do, I work hard to provide value for clients and work to save them time and money. If you are looking for an expert to help with your SEO, content strategy, or Internet Marketing Program using Google AdWords, contact my by email at nancy@mccordweb.com.

 

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SMS Scheduler Reviewed

Nancy McCord is a Google and Bing Partner
Nancy McCord is a Google and Bing Partner

SMS Scheduler is a productivity time saver for me. I wanted to share with you why I use it. No, I am not being paid by the app owner to write this. I am just a fan.

I have four remote working employees. Although we use TeamUp, my staff is busy and this is not a full-time job for them. I have found that by sending scheduled text messages about deadlines on a schedule and reminder notices on a schedule, I keep my remote staff focused on meeting my project deadlines.

I found the app for Android in the Google Play store. I am sure they have a version for iPhone as well. Make sure when you do your installation that you follow the brief but important instructions on how to override a setting so the app will work.

Here are several examples of texts I sent to my staff on specific due dates.

Your social media is in. Please have your loads done by Sunday night.

Make sure you do topics and loads today, as well as WordPress loads.

Please make sure you have updated TeamUp with a new date or mark your things as done.

My staff just finally figured out that I was using an automated messaging service, as I do change the messages. But for me, having reminders scheduled has allowed me to let go of some of the important follow up tasks and spend more time on client projects.

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What to Do When You Get a Credit Card Decline for Your Services

Nancy McCord
“Just Nancy” – My Point of View for Today.

Credit card decline! Those are words that any business owner hates to hear, but it happens to all of us. When you get a credit card decline for your services here are some tips to quickly resolve the problem.

Be Nice – Always
I have found that sometimes a credit card decline is due to a security issue. Maybe the card was lost or compromised and the customer did not remember to advise you. Be open to the fact that it may be a very simple issue to resolve.

I always send a nice positive note with a request for a new card for my services. Typically if you hear back from the client within a day it is typically something that will be quickly resolved.

Deal with the Problems – Quickly
It is the clients that will not return a note or phone call that typically has run into a cash flow issue. For my firm, we stop services when we do not get a response, as the debt can grow quickly and end up as a write off. You have the most leverage to resolve a problem when an issue is handled quickly.

Make sure that if you have a contract that you cover what happens when a client does not pay. I have learned from experience that if you continue services on a payment promise that your write off will typically end up much bigger.

Change Terms – For Problem Payers
In our agreement for services, we spell out what happens when a client has a credit card decline, resolves, it and continues buying. We move clients like this to a prepayment basis or retainer. Some services we provide are not impacted significantly with a delay in payment, but other services are hugely impacted. Know your own needs and cover the situations in your agreement that all clients must sign to start your services.

Is It Worth It?
In some cases when you receive multiple declines, and it is clear that there is a cash flow problem,  you must take time to evaluate if you would like to continue to work with a client.  Each business situation is different. Just know that trying to collect on a debt is very, very difficult. Suing is not a realistic option and using a debt collector will cost a percentage of the debt and may never be collectible.

We all hate to lose a client, but a poor paying or non-paying client is typically more trouble than it is worth in the long run.

 

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