The Green Sheet Online Edition
March 11, 2013 • Issue 13:03:01
Striking that communication balance
In all aspects of life, finding balance can be tricky. Relationships are especially challenging. In friendships, for example, there is a need to attend to, or cultivate, the relationship while at the same time retaining a healthy distance. The same dynamic is at play between companies and their customers.
In the payments industry, merchant service providers need to maintain open communication channels with merchants to keep them happy and sell them new services.
But at the same time, providers don't want to smother merchants with emails and sales calls, which can result in attrition and lower sales. Following are five tips to achieve and sustain balance in your merchant relationships:
1. Measure customer satisfaction: You can't know how well you are doing in providing service to merchants if you don't gather feedback on the topic. Conduct short, yearly surveys online to help you understand how well you are doing and what areas need improvement. Offer discounts or rewards for survey participation, which will in turn boost customer satisfaction.
2. Do-it-yourself: Give away important, practical, empowering advice through snail mail or email newsletters to merchants. Tips that truly help your customers do more business and make more money will never be seen as intrusive.
3. Stick to a schedule: Like everyone else, merchants are creatures of habit. If you set up a schedule of "touching" merchants every six months, keep to it. And only break the schedule if you have a compelling reason to do so.
4. Keep it fun: It never hurts to keep communications with merchants light and enjoyable. Hire a graphic designer or marketing company to create eye-catching and witty marketing materials. It goes a long way to making communications enjoyable rather than a chore for merchants.
5. Delegate: As your business grows, you will need to share the load. Ideally, hire and train skilled customer service staff, but if that isn't possible, contract with a top-notch vendor that specializes in customer service. That way you can focus on what you do best: selling.
The important thing is to convey to merchants that their time is valuable; relationships will only be strengthened when you don't waste it.
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