Times Are Changing for the Service Industry

The meltdown of the financial system, collapse of the housing industry, massive unemployment, and the lingering recession we find ourselves mired in. These are the factors that are going to change the service industry forever, for the better I believe.

Service based businesses are going to find that people are going to spend money, but, they will reserve the expenditures for companies or individuals that they genuinely like and treat them as valued customers.

The days of not caring if a customer calls you back or gives your company name as a referral are over. Those two things will soon be the difference between life or death for a service business.

Mrs. Smith will tell friends that you are a great service provider if in fact you are a great service provider, it will take more than a low – low price to get the job, it will take excellent service and a skill set that includes listening and customer service.

Referrals are gold and having customer reviews are absolutely necessary, as necessary as a business card and a website.

If you believe that time is money you soon will find that the time spent getting to know Mrs. Smith will be invaluable. People do business with people that they like or a business a friend of theirs likes.

Timely arrivals at jobs, friendly demeanor, respectful tone, and real compassion for the problems you are there to help solve. These people have called you for help and they do not need the fast talking, rub their nose in the problem, and take as much money as you can get and run approach.

Be a real person and relate to the problems at hand. Give your opinion as a real opinion not slanted at making as much money as you can, but better slanted toward the customer getting the absolute best service at the best price.

A win – win situation. For the customer, they get value and quality, for the business, you get a customer that will refer your company, will be happier with the final results, and be a repeat customer for the long term success of your business.

The reality today is that consumers have had a hard time surviving, as have many businesses, the level of disposable income may be less but the needs that a consumer must fulfill have not changed, if anything that cost has gone up.

Your service, although needed, if considered a luxury can be put off until better economic conditions prevail. You as a service professional need to elevate the value and quality of the services you provide along with the personal touch of being genuine and friendly. Personal touches will win repeat customers.

Your customer will spend money, your job is not only to provide a great service and customer experience it is to provide a great value to your customer.

Challenges in the Customer Support Services Industry

Every entrepreneur knows the importance of the quality of customer support services. Although in the customer service industry a myth is developing that outsourcing the customer services will not give the desired result, this industry is growing incredibly in South Asia. Mostly progressive companies are recognizing the potential and turning towards outsourcing their customer services departments to call centers located at different regions. These call centers are the main contact point for their customers. Most prominently this industry is growing in Pakistan, Philippines, and India.

In the adverse global economic condition like others, call center industry is also facing lot of challenges. To keep consistent quality of services the most alarming global issue is the retention of staff. The reasons and solution to retain them is different in Asia as compared to rest of the world. There are two important factors in the retention process i.e. incentives and motivation. The priorities differ between agents, especially in South Asia. The balance between incentives and motivation is the dominant factor in the retention of agents. There is a considerably high ratio of agents give priority on positive relationships among the team, supervisors and managers over incentives. It is equally important to chalk out a customized plan for individual agents to find out what they value most. One size fits all approach does not work in this industry.

I don’t run outbound call center but to my understanding another possible reason of turnover is the stress in outbound call center environment. Because of the use of sophisticated technology, agents don’t get time to recover from the stress in between awkward call from an unhappy customer or the stress due to performance targets. The performance targets sometimes put so much pressure that agents start bragging the customers to achieve their targets. The stress build up can also lead to illness and promote non-attendance.

Another challenge in call center industry is measuring the quality of services provided by your agents. The difficulty is due to the fact that mostly instead of complaining to the call center or the company directly, customers tell their friends of their bad experiences. So how will you measure the quality of service? Mostly companies are using surveys to get the opinion of their customers. There are other resources which can be used along with surveys. Among those forums, social media platforms and product reviews sites are on top. I experienced a little improved result when contacting all the customers who put negative remarks on forums and commented on the product reviews sites. On approaching them I offered the best solution to their concern that the company could afford. In most cases it is acceptable to the customers converting them again a happy customer. It is still important to measure the level of satisfaction and the best way to accurately know is to ask your customer directly at the time of first interaction.

Few call centers measure the quality of their service and the customer satisfaction level by assessing the average call handling time, time to answer a call, and the number of contacts by a customer to resolve the issue. But at times this method will not show the correct picture. All these methods depend on the products and services such as technical support services which may require a lengthy call to properly resolve the issue. Same could happen with customized products where during the first call some verification is required and it may only be possible to resolve the issue on second call. Also satisfying a customer only during first interaction is not enough. To earn a considerable satisfaction level customers need iterative positive experience from the contact center. Developing business relationship, trust and credibility takes time and it cannot be developed overnight.

The first step in improving the quality of customer support service is to improve your relationship with the employees. Involve them in major decision making, give them the feeling of ownership and acknowledge their achievements. It will help in increasing their morale and loyalty. Inspiration is an important factor in improving the role of your employees towards their commitment to high level of excellence and professionalism.

Besides satisfying existing customers on their interaction, it is also a good idea to keep their interest alive in the company. There are various avenues to stay in touch with your customers and prospective clients. There are companies who bombard their customers with chain of strong sales messages which in turn adversely affect customers’ reaction. There is no harm in sending a few softer sales messages. If possible, phone contact and face-to-face interaction is more effective.

In this turbulent economic time customers tend to look for low cost alternatives and it is becoming hard to keep their interest in your products and develop their trust in the company. Now the question is how you can keep your customers satisfied and maintain their confidence. The first and foremost thing is that your front line champions of customer service should be well trained to listen to and understand the customers’ requirements and concerns. For this purpose a weekly performance reviews with all your agents are very helpful in maintaining the minimum required standards. This is very important to quickly and effectively resolve customers’ issues. In resolving the issue exceeding their expectations and make the process simple and easy will further enhance their interest and confidence in the company.

The Lawn Service Industry and Its Products Explored

The last few years have witnessed the clear emergence and prolific growth of an industry that was hitherto virtually nonexistent. The industry we are talking about is the lawn service industry. Twenty years, or even fifteen years ago, this was virtually an unheard of industry. It is not that people didn’t have lawns then – we have always lawns for centuries, if not millennia. Rather it is because people didn’t take very particular care of their lawns, and were as such not willing to spent substantial sums of money on their care. Subsequent years, however, have given rise to a trend where people are increasingly ready to spend and spend some more on their lawns and general ‘landscape management,’ with the trend being what eventually gave birth to what we refer to as the lawn service industry.

The lawn service industry is one that employs thousands upon thousands of people all over the world in various capacities. Aggregated figures are hard to come by, as this is one industry that is yet to recognize itself as being one entity. It is also the sort of industry where people tend to work on casual basis, meaning that the people who may be working on it today could turn out to be extremely different from the people you find in the industry ten months down the line. But at any given point in time, you are certain to find the aforementioned thousands upon thousand of people working in various capacities in the lawn service industry.

An industry is, by the way, defined as an aggregation of firms providing a similar (or almost similar product), and usually competing against one another. There are, of course single firm industries – where the whole business is dominated by a single monopolistic player – but such industries are rare, and getting even rarer by the day as most countries in the world embrace economic liberalization. The lawn service industry, on its part, is a true industry: one that is an aggregation of numerous firms, providing various lawn services in their respective jurisdictions. It is usually the sort of industry where the typical firm tends to be rather small. Most lawn service firms are, indeed, constituted of less than ten staff members, and this is the sort of industry where a firm with a hundred people would be considered a big firm, with a firm that boasts of a thousand being considered a ‘giant.’

The product of the lawn service industry is a service. The service comes in handy for the people and organizations who are keen on having good looking lawns, but who don’t have the time and energy for the labor that goes into the making of such good looking lawns. The lawn service firms step in the gap, with their promise to give you the lawn you desire for a fee. All you typically have to do is show them the plot where you want the lawn established (whatever its current state), give them the agreed fees, and several months down the line, you will have a fantastic lawn right there.

Food Service Franchise – Is a Franchise in the Food Service Industry Right for You?

Being in the restaurant business is never an easy road; just ask anyone who’s ever done it. For some people it has an addictive quality, and they cannot get enough of the fast pace, but this type of franchise is not for everyone.

If you have always enjoyed working with the public and being the person “in charge” behind the counter, then maybe a franchise in food service is right for you. To be successful with this type of franchise, you will need great communication skills, high energy, and a passion for owning your own business.

Why is a franchise in food service such a great idea right now?

According to the National Restaurant Association, the number of food service industry jobs in America will increase by 10% or more over the next decade. Most of this growth will be seen in the “franchise food service” category, particularly “fast casual” restaurants. Franchises like Chipotle, Baja Fresh, Cosi, Panera Bread and Peace a Pizza are cropping up in suburban shopping districts everywhere. They succeed by giving patrons more ambience and better food than a fast-food restaurant without the added expense of table service.

This promising new trend for franchise food service entrepreneurs has caught the attention of the restaurant industry as well, so expect to see more restaurants like this starting up over the next few years. It may seem surprising that any category of business could be growing this quickly during a recession, but the success of this type of franchise food service business has come at the expense of higher priced restaurants, who have suffered a decline in consumer spending.

Are you considering a new venture as a franchisee? Do you like the idea of starting a new business without the risk that comes from an unproven concept? Starting a franchise food service business may be the right option for you.