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How to Save Thousands of Dollars in Two Hours - Part 3

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Stress Relief 101: Creating the Information That Goes Into A FAQ Page Questions Are the Answer Imagine going into a computer store and looking for the newest digital cameras without a single question in your mind.
You already know what Mega pixel you want, whether you want manual F-stop control, whether the camera has video stability, and everything else you can think of.
Chances are, that is a fairy tale.
I consider myself pretty savvy when it comes to technology, but I still took a good half-hour of the salesman's time.
However, if I had not researched the Internet first, I probably would have spent an hour or more in the store, and may have come away more confused than when I came in.
Have you ever seen that? You may have had one customer that knows nothing.
You, or your sales staff, spent a lot of time teaching the customer about your product/service, then they left without buying anything and having a blank stare on their face like their memory has just been wiped.
Then the next person came in, someone who has been researching what they want.
They asked a few questions, then suddenly your cash register was ringing and you had money! You already know why, don't you? The second person already knew what they were looking for, while the first person didn't know the true features of the product/service you told them about, and the information actually made them think twice about it.
A well informed customer is going to come in and ask some good questions because they already know the answers to the basic questions.
And, chances are, if they found the answers on YOUR Web site, they will come to you with the rest of their questions.
At that point, you just need to smile, open up your till, and let the money flow in! So, what are the best questions to put into a FAQ? Research We all want to know what our customers want, and we all want to have the answers and products/services available to give to them.
So, what do you do to find out what your customers want? Here are some ideas (and I'll guess that you have already done at least one of them):
  • Do inside research, tracking whatcustomers say while they are in the store
  • Give customers surveys to fill out
  • Put a survey on your Web site
  • Do outside research, going to competitor's stores to see their products/servicesand how they handle customers
  • Hire people/companiesto provide research data for you
  • Provide coupons/advertisements andtrack the response
Let's look at each option.
Do inside research, tracking what customers say while they are in the store Read the story at the beginning of this report.
We've all been there, and some of us are there every day.
The next time you start feeling the stress of time commitments, and interruptions seem to find you like a bill collector, stop.
Just stop.
Ask the people around you for a minute, and write down what's going on.
Can any of it be put into a FAQ page? Talk to your employees.
A quick, 5 minute brainstorming session can produce fantastic results.
I am guilty of complacency.
I have assumed (in the past, of course) that because my employees and I worked together all day long, I knew what they're thinking.
Well, I've been as wrong as a child wearing shorts in the snow.
Take five minutes before the shop opens, or during a quiet time.
Or, ideally, set up a meeting time when everyone can get together (offering to pay for everyone's lunch always has a good turn-out!), and ask them what's working and what's not working.
You may be surprised by the results.
Signs around the store or office can work too.
Don't stop with just your employees, though.
Your best resource is right on the other side of the counter, or at the other end of the phone.
Give customers surveys to fill out In How To Get Results With People, Jeff Salzman talks about a company with low morale.
The executives bring in a survey team to find out how to raise moral, and fantastic ideas come forth.
As a result of the survey, money is spent improving the atmosphere of the building, and morale raises, for a while, then goes right back down again.
Frustrated, the executives bring in another survey team, and the same results happen.
Then a light came on; it wasn't all the changes, it wasn't whiter walls, it wasn't bad management.
The employees liked being asked their opinion.
So do your customers, and they will like you even more because they know you value their opinion.
Surveys are an inexpensive, easy way to get the opinions of your customers.
Put a small survey into each bag as they leave the store, or leave a survey with them after a sale.
Surveys with incentives get filled out far more than a "please fill this out...
" survey, so offer a 5% discount when they turn it in, or a small token of appreciation.
A better incentive is to give the customer the item before they even fill it out.
Say something like "This pencil is a gift to you.
Would you like to fill out the attached survey and mail it back to us?" Your customers trust you.
They wouldn't come to you if they didn't.
It makes sense that your competitor's customers go to them because they trust them.
Why? Put a survey on your Web site This is the easiest way to manage information from your customers, but sometimes the most difficult to get.
Web site surveys are everywhere on the Internet, and most give you nothing in return.
But there are ways to motivate customers.
Remember, people really do like being asked their opinion, so a Web survey is always a good offering.
Plus, once the survey is created, it costs very little to maintain.
Customers simply fill out the form and it gets sent directly to you in your email.
Then you can study the information and compare it with other surveys that have come in.
The information always comes in the same format, and it's typed so it's easy to read.
Please feel free to contact me if you need help in creating an online survey.
My contact information is in the Resources section at the end of this E-book.
Do outside research, going to competitor's stores to see their products/services and how they handle customers We all have questions whenever we go to any store, or even think about going to the store: What are their hours, will they have what I want, are the lines going to be long? Go to a competitor's store and see what happens when you walk in, or go to a department.
How are you treated? Are your questions answered? Is there even anyone around to help you? Back when I worked in a retail environment, the company I worked for decided to "shop" the competition (this was before the Web, so it was more difficult then).
"Shopping" means someone would go to a competitor's store, sneak around, and find out what their prices are compared to ours.
But the person they picked made one of the smartest moves I've seen anyone do; she didn't sneak.
She dressed in a very professional suit, walked in with a clipboard, and started writing down prices.
She did this three days in a row, and not one person said a word to her the entire time.
She was in the store for 20 hours over the three days, and nobody asked what she was doing, why she was doing it, anything.
Can you think of a reason why? My best guess is that everyone, the manager included, assumed she was from their corporate offices and had decided to take an informal inventory, or perhaps to act like she was doing an inventory while she rated the staff.
In any case, she proved a point.
Sometimes, they best way to become invisible is to stand out.
It's even easier to survey the competition these days.
You can:
  • Walk into the store with a clipboard.
    The staff will think you are a secret shopper if nothing else.
  • Check the newspaper.
    Find out what yourcompetition has on sale.
  • Go to their Web site to getinformation.
    Most service companieshave client lists.
    Contact those clients to find out why they do businesswith a certain company.
  • Look at their FAQ page.
    Do they haveone on their Web site? What does it contain? Is it well organized? Do youthink the information on it answers the customers' questions?
Hire people/companies to provide research data for you Take all the worries out of finding the answers by having others do it for you! This is the ultimate, if most expensive, time saver, and well worth it if you can afford it.
The cost is probably too much for most of us to justify, but there are times when you need information more than you need the money it's going to cost to get it quickly.
Everything you've ever wanted to know about your customers, your competition, or just about anything else has already been surveyed by many companies.
The Internet is full of survey results, both free and for a cost.
Reliability is the major concern with free survey results, though, so be sure you know how the survey was conducted and the company that produced it.
You can also hire someone to do the surveys for you.
We all get stopped while in the mall, or even walking down the street, by a smiling person trying to hand us something.
Next time you see that person, get their name and find out if they were contracted to do the work.
They might be able to help you, too.
Provide coupons/advertisements and track the response It's almost impossible to track standard advertising.
There is simply no way to determine whether your ad is bringing in more people or not, and it's frustrating.
Coupons are better, because you can tell if they work by the number you get back.
And, if you put a special code on the coupons, you can determine which advertising they came from.
Neither of these options really helps to determine what to put onto a FAQ page, though, unless you think outside of the box.
What about putting a survey as part of your coupon? Remember, a survey can be as little as one question.
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