How To: Handle a Public Complaint

No matter what type of business or what the size, there are always going to be customer complaints to deal with, and unfortunately, some of those may be public. Whether or not you believe particular complaints are justified, you need to be prepared on how to take on the situation in a professional manner. How you handle mistakes is what can help or hurt your organization for the future. If you’re unsure how to deal with public complaints, consider following these five steps the next time you find yourself in a compromising position with a customer.

  1. Checklist_ImageAcknowledge publicly, address privately. When someone makes a public complaint about your company, it’s important to acknowledge the situation publicly to let them, your audience, and your customers know you care; however, it’s equally as important to address the situation privately. Reach out to the individual who made the complaint and if there’s not an obvious way to get in contact (direct message, email, call, etc.), ask them to call you personally and handle the situation privately. This system shows your professionalism and contains the situation before anything gets too out of hand.
  2. Listen very carefully. When someone is complaining about your business, be sure to always listen with an open mind. Let the person speak their mind with no interruptions before you decide what to do next. You need to fully understand the situation and think of the best possible way to handle it before you answer and come up with a solution.
  3. Make sure you understand. When the person is done expressing their concern, repeat their situation back to them. By doing this, you are showing that you fully understand their problem and how they are feeling. Don’t be embarrassed if they correct some of things you repeat back; just remember you need to grasp the problem before you can find a solution.
  4. Emphasize that you will fix the problem. Without putting the blame on anyone, apologize and assure them that the problem will be taken care of. Let them know that you will assess the situation right away and get back to them as soon as possible, before you make any rash decisions. Showing that you are empathetic will help lighten the mood and give them assurance that you will fix the problem. Also, if you haven’t already, give them a number where they can contact you directly, as that will show your dedication to the customer and help to keep them calm.
  5. Follow up. As soon as you get off the phone with the customer, talk to your team and figure out the issue right away and solve it. Once this is figured out internally, call the customer back as soon as possible. Remember to apologize again and keep in contact with them until the entire situation is resolved.

Dealing with complaints and customer problems are never easy, especially when situations are made public. However, there is a professional way to handle issues, and it’s important to always take this route during a crisis. Keep the above steps in mind if you find yourself in an unfortunate situation – your customers will appreciate it and your business will turn a bad situation around and make a good impression for the future.

How To: Increase Email Open Rates

As every marketer knows, mastering email marketing is an ongoing process that is necessary for the success of your organization. Between sending out promotional email blasts, content marketing, and writing personal emails to customers and prospects, it has been proven to be a great way to connect and communicate with your audience. However, it does have some downfalls, especially if your businesses’ email open rates are low. Below are some helpful tips to consider when trying to improve your email open rates.

  1. Email_Open_Rate2Pay attention to the sender. When creating an email campaign, make sure you pay attention to who it is coming from. Your audience will be more likely to open an email if it’s coming from a name they recognize at your organization. With this in mind, make sure you don’t always use the same sender. It’s important to keep a variety so your target audience doesn’t assume every email from your CEO is spam.
  2. Entice your audience with a strong subject line. The first thing your audience will see is the subject line of the email, so make sure you have an intriguing one. Similar to who the email is coming from, it’s important to change up the subject lines depending on the goal of the email and the audience. Sometimes, it’s better to be more direct with what you’re offering in the email, whereas other times, you may want to keep it vague to convince a large group to open it. Keep in mind to not make the subject line sound too much like a sales pitch, as that’s a sure way to get your email sent to spam boxes or see an increase in unsubscriptions.
  3. Personalize the subject line occasionally. By adding a touch of personality to your email campaigns, starting with the subject line, it will increase your audience’s interest and likeability. By personalizing it with their first name from time to time, it shows that you are taking an interest and care about who you are contacting. It also gives a sense of importance and grabs their attention.
  4. Test out times. Is your audience on the east coast or west coast? Will they be more interested in what you’re offering during a work day or weekend? These are things you need to consider when sending out your emails. It’s important to A/B test the times you send your email campaigns, as well as the subject and senders, to see what they respond best to. Some organizations find success sending emails early in the morning before a hectic business day starts, whereas others have reported great results on the weekend. Unfortunately, there is no secret formula for timing your email blasts, so testing and learning your audience are vital.
  5. Remain consistent. After testing, it’s time to come up with a schedule for your email campaigns and stick to it. No one wants to receive 3-5 emails per day from the same business. Once you set a schedule, your audience will learn to expect your emails and be ready for them, and with the number of emails being sent every day to consumers from businesses of all kinds, it’s important to remember not to be overwhelming.

Keep in mind these five tips as you work on your email campaigns and you’ll be on your way to better open rates. If you have any questions, have additional tips, or need additional suggestions, please feel free to comment below – I’d love to hear!

5 Ways to Use QR Codes to Improve Your Next Conference

The smartphone has become an ubiquitous part of business culture. So, why not integrate smartphone use into your organization’s next conference? It is a great way to increase participation in your company-wide event. It’s easy to setup and do with QR codes. QR codes can be read by any smartphone and are a great and effective way add some fun to your conference. Here are 5 simple ways to integrate QR codes into your next big event.

1. QR Code Scavenger Hunt

Clipboard with Checklist and Red PenAll you need is list of things that your attendees need to find, and QR codes attached to each object on the list. Group your attendees into teams and give each team a list of objects to find. Each team will find an item on the list, scan the QR code attached to them, and move on to the next item. At the end of the hunt, the team with the most QR codes scanned wins.

2. QR Quiz

This game requires a simple mobile website with a few pages setup with questions. Give your attendees an opening question and attach a QR code to the answer. When they scan the code on the answer, it will lead to your mobile website where the next question is located. This repeats until the last question. First team to find all of the answers wins.

3. QR Code Meet and Greet

This is a great way for people to get to know one another. Have each participant fill out a bio sheet with facts about themselves during pre-registration for the event and have that information put on a simple web page. Then, create QR codes that link to those pages and attach them to each attendant’s badge or name tag. During the social portion of the conference, you can have a contest to see who can meet the most people and name at least one fact about them. This is a good ice breaker and will make the conference attendees feel closer to everyone.

4. QR Codes for Door Gift Bags

If you plan on having door gift bags, a great way to hand them out is to use QR codes. Give each attendee a QR code at check-in. Have each code link to a picture of a prize. Then, each attendee just has to show the person in charge of distributing the gifts that code and the prize is theirs.

5. QR Codes for Voting

If you need an easy way to tally votes without tons of wasted paper and manual counting, you can use QR codes instead. Assign each measure on the ballot a QR code. Whenever it is scanned, it adds to the tally for that particular measure. Using QReate & Track’s tracking page, you can see which code got scanned the most.

Using QR codes can save you time and money by eliminating wasted paper and man hours while simultaneously adding something new and exciting to your next big conference.

interlinkONE Recognized as a Silver Datacenter in Microsoft’s Partner Network

interlinkONE Recognized as a Silver Datacenter in Microsoft’s Partner Network for 15th Year

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(Wilmington, MA, July 16, 2015) – interlinkONE Inc., an industry leading provider of innovative marketing software products, was recognized by the Microsoft Partner Network as a Silver Datacenter for 2015 for its commitment to creating and delivering innovative customer solutions, software and services based on Microsoft technologies and its dedication to excellence.

interlinkONE was first recognized as a Silver Datacenter in 1997. As a member of the Microsoft Partner Network, interlinkONE is able to provide its customers with outstanding software products and service, including access to sales, presales and technical support to help deliver quality infrastructure solutions to its customers.

Along with infrastructure solutions, being a member of the network allows interlinkONE to provide private cloud, management and virtualization deployment planning services, as well as enhance its consulting services for its customers.

“We’re very proud to be recognized as a Silver Datacenter here at interlinkONE,” said Adam Meixler, Director of IT. “We’ve been a Microsoft Certified vendor for 15 years and look forward to serving our customers with the implementation of Microsoft server platforms and management of these resources for years to come.”

Through its membership in the partner network, Microsoft works closely with interlinkONE to meet its solution and deployment needs, in turn, giving interlinkONE’s customers the best products possible and in a timely manner.

“Being a part of the Microsoft Partner Network is extremely beneficial for us and our customers,” said John Foley, Jr., President and CEO of interlinkONE, Inc. “Our partnership connects us with not only Microsoft, but other partners in the network, making it easier for us to develop products for our customers to install, customize and manage successfully.”

Membership in the partner network also gives interlinkONE access to technical training courtesy of Microsoft to offer new perspectives and differentiate its offerings for customers.

About interlinkONE

interlinkONE provides software to industry leading Fortune 50 financial services, insurance agencies, health care, hospitality organizations and other service providers.

ilinkONEpro, interlinkONE’s flagship distributed marketing platform, includes capabilities for customer communication management, online ordering and storefronts, sales and CRM, warehouse management, web-to-print and variable data printing.

interlinkONE has also created award winning mobile products, including QReate and Track and iFlyMobi. QReate and Track allows users to create, customize and measure QR Codes for marketing efforts while iFlyMobi gives users the capability to create mobile websites and ensure their content is optimized for the mobile audience.

5 Tips to Improve Your Mobile Marketing

Whether you’re in a large business or a small retail store, mobile marketing should play an important role in your marketing plan. With nearly 64% of American adults owning a smartphone of some kind, businesses are bound to take their marketing mobile. According to an eMarketer study, only five years ago, 2.1% of all digital search ad dollars were spent on mobile devices. That number increased to 22.1% in 2013, and is continually increasing, with expectations to be at 59% within the next two years. Making sure your business is up to date with the latest marketing trends is important, especially with the amount of competition in the marketplace. Below are five tips to help improve your mobile marketing.

  1. Responsive_Web_DesignMake sure your website is responsive. With the major increase in the use of smartphones over the last couples of years, making sure your website is accessible and responsive to the average user is necessary in the business world. With so many customers using smartphones to shop online, having a well-organized website results in more sales, increases your search engine optimization, and improves your company’s reputation.
  2. Don’t have irrelevant content. When customers visit your company’s website or social media page, they want to read information that’s engaging and relevant. When posting content, make sure that each time you have a purpose. Businesses need to make sure that they are creating and sharing content that is aligned with the customer’s needs. If you’re getting bored reading it, chances are, your customer will be too!
  3. Time your communication. When contacting anyone, especially a potential client, you need to make sure that you are sending information at an appropriate time. Notifying someone through a mobile device is great way to connect but it means nothing if they receive the message too late. Leave enough time in between when you actually send it and when you want the customer to make a move.
  4. Have a strong call-to-action. The purpose of having a mobile-friendly site is to make it easier and more accessible for the user. Having a designated spot on your site for someone to purchase a product, contact your company, or receive more information will make it more convenient. They need to be able to quickly press the CTA button, because the more time they spend looking for details, the less interested they become.
  5. Don’t forget about desktop! Though mobile marketing is continually growing, consumers are constantly switching between devices, making your desktop website just as important. Pay attention to all aspects when designing your site and content, as all laptops, mobile devices, and tablets play a key role in having a successful business.

The digital environment is continually growing, making marketing on any mobile device important in your company’s marketing plan. In order to reach your targeted audience, you have to adapt to their preferences, while delivering relevant content. By using these five tips to help guide you, your chances on becoming a more successful and well developed business will rise.

My Background with Business Transformation

Transforming a business is never easy. Whether it is a software business such as the one I run or printing business seeking to add products and services that meet new and different customer needs, there are many challenges to be faced. But it can be done, and it has been done by many companies. Transformation takes patience, perseverance and perspective, especially when introducing breakthrough offerings that are perhaps unexpected and ahead of their time in terms of mainstream and market acceptance.

When I first began calling on printers in the mid 1990s, I was offering a software solution that enabled them to deliver integrated multichannel marketing solutions. I suggested that there was an opportunity for them in offering more marketing-oriented services, and that I had a solution that could help them do so. That terminology and those ideas were much more foreign two decades ago than they are today. Perhaps not surprisingly, I got a number of reactions, none of which made me particularly happy or boded well for closing sales. There included:

  • I’m a printer. I don’t offer marketing services.
  • Why would I ever let a customer download their PDFs? I want to print them.
  • You don’t understand my business.
  • We print things and ship them out the door. Why would I want to get into email marketing?
  • And my favorite: The Internet is a fad—this from a fulfillment company that was well-known at the time.

iStock_000001817769LargeIt was not easy being thrown out the door time after time, but my team and I kept at it with patience and perseverance. I tried to keep a positive perspective, understanding that this transformation was a breakthrough idea and there would be many who would not understand. Oddly enough, we had some success in offering these solutions to enterprise customers—the customers of the printers—who see the value to their business. Had printers been offering these services, those enterprises may well have purchased them from the printer instead of directly from my company. We strongly believed that print service providers needed to diversify their businesses in order to stay competitive and profitable. In addition, these print service providers would become a sales channel to the enterprise for us. So we kept at it. We did not allow the negativity of naysayers to discourage us from continuing to build an offering that would allow a service provider to become a more valuable part of the enterprise marketing organization. We continued to try to educate the market about the value of moving up the marketing supply chain, locking customers into a long-term annuity business relationship that delivered new revenue streams for their businesses and new levels of productivity for them and their customers.

Trade show after trade show, “kicking the tires” printers would come to our booth and ask what we did. For many, it did not take long for their eyes to glaze over and for them to obviously begin seeking an escape from the discussion. It took a decade before we started seeing print service providers showing up in any meaningful numbers at our trade show booth or calling our offices saying, “I have a general understanding of why I should be offering integrated marketing services. Show me why I should use your solution.” These were knowledgeable and informed business owners who knew what they needed to do for their businesses and were sincerely seeking the best match. What a breakthrough! Many of these early adopter and innovative printers became our customers, and we are proud of the fact that we are able to continue to help them grow, supporting them with new ideas and solutions.

Today, we are successfully offering these web-based solutions to print service providers that enable their customers to build, manage, execute and measure their multichannel marketing efforts. This success is largely due to our patience and perseverance, and to not losing perspective. We had a vision and we kept working toward it, despite many setbacks. That’s our story in a nutshell. We were able to build a successful company and service a market need that we could clearly see. That’s not much different, really, than the challenge facing print service providers as they reposition themselves to provide leading-edge solutions to their customers.

By now, everyone in the printing industry knows, or should know, that this Internet is not a fad. The know that the printing business in the midst of extreme structural change that requires them to change their approach to the marketing—of if they don’t, they certainly should as they look at their P&L each month. They know that much of the work their customers used to send to them doesn’t even get printed anymore, or if it does, the run lengths get shorter and shorter and the delivery times continue to compress. And they should understand that if they don’t have the right infrastructure in place to accommodate emerging customer needs, they risk not only declining business from good, long-term customers, but losing them altogether. We see this being played out in the marketing place every single day.

Do you need help with your business transformation strategy? That’s what I’m here for! Reach out to me at JohnF@interlinkONE.com to learn more.