Customer relationship management vector

Small business budgets can be, well, small. Whether you’re in the beginning phases of a new business or are an established entity, budgets are tight and every penny is allocated to a specific function. When it comes to marketing budgets, they are often non-existent. Yet, marketing continues to scale the ladder of importance when it comes to small business operations.

The real question, then, is how does a small business integrate marketing efforts with minimal budget? One practically free means of marketing is to enlist your current customers as unofficial brand advocates. Tapping into your captive and loyal consumer base offers your business endless opportunities to increase brand awareness for minimal spend.

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Over the past 15 years, Netflix has built what is likely the most successful subscription service of all time.  Their users are incredibly engaged, fiercely loyal, and absolutely love the service.

However, despite this incredibly deep connection with their subscribers, users revolted when Netflix tried to dramatically increase their prices and fundamentally alter their suite of products.  Over the next 4 months, the company lost 800,000 subscribers and its stock price fell 77%.

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Today’s article is a guest post from Greg Ciotti of Help Scout.

Great customer support should always be available, even when you are not.

In other words, sometimes the best thing you can do for your customers is to simply get out of the way.

This is a trend we’ve seen take over in 2013, and I’m confident that next year will see continuing adoption and recognition of the sincere usefulness of self-service.

Why? So many aspects of business and commerce are moving online, and with this 24-hour customer base (that spans the world over), it’s impossible for small companies to have live options for support all the time.

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Today’s article is a guest post from Webs’ Search Marketing Specialist, Collin Tate.

Originally this post was going to be about my experiences with Zappos, how awesome they are and how businesses both large and small should aspire to completely own customer service the way that Zappos does. Instead, I’m going to chat about an unexpected hero, and how going above and beyond typical customer service creates bonds and develops customer loyalty.

If you’ve ever owned a computer, you know how frustrating it is when things stop working. There’s little worse than when you have an accidental drop, you get a virus, when hardware fails or kids or pets get their little hands or paws on your computer. If you’re like me, you first try to troubleshoot the issue alone. When that doesn’t work, you call a family member or friend who knows their way around computers, hoping that they can fix your problem, all the while praying that you don’t have to call tech support.

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Today’s article is a guest post from legal blogger Matt Faustman.

Every year, MSN Money surveys adults about the quality of customer service at 150 of the best-known companies across the country and in 15 industries to find the MSN Money Customer Service Hall of Shame winners. The survey is now in its seventh year and the year-over-year industries that have acquired a bad rap for poor customer service remain the same. In the end, we dislike the banks, the cable television providers, and the credit card companies the most.

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How often do you wonder what your customers think of you?

You’ve probably thought: “If only I could read their minds, I could deliver the exact product or service they want, when they want it, at a price that makes them happy and makes me money!”  Unfortunately, this kind of psychic ability is usually reserved for TV, the movies, or Miss Cleo.

Instead of channeling your inner Mentalist, why not just ask your customers what they like or don’t like about you?

Step 1: Figure out what you want to learn from your customer
Perhaps you’ve noticed that a certain type of product or service you offer isn’t selling as well as it used to and you want to find out why.

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We know – another day, another marketing acronym. But once you’ve learned about SEM and become a wizard at SEO, you’ll need to do some great CRM in order to keep those new customers you’ve earned.

What is CRM? It stands for Customer Relationship Management, and it’s key to the success of your small business. The technical definition?

“Customer relationship management (CRM) is a model for managing a company’s interactions with current and future customers. It involves using technology to organize, automate, and synchronize sales, marketing, customer service, and technical support.” (Wikipedia)

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Today’s article is a guest post from Gregory Ciotti of Help Scout. 

As you well know, having lackluster customer service is a surefire way to get passed over by the demanding customer of today.

The question then becomes, what actually makes customer service truly memorable?

Each experience is different from the next, but there are some iron-clad rules of great service that every support team should put in place.

Below, I’ll outline 8 proven laws of outstanding support that your company should apply today.

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While it may be true that virtue is its own reward, that idea is not always enough to motivate businesses to focus their efforts on good customer service. Sometimes they need big, scary numbers in order to get their attention.

Luckily, the infographic we’re sharing today from KISSmetrics has just that! There is a lot of great information to be found here about customer service and how much of an impact it can have on business. Here are 5 of the most eye-catching statistics we noticed:

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When we talk about customer appreciation and customer service, sometimes business-to-business companies feel a little left out. But they shouldn’t! Good customer service is good customer service, even if your customer is another business.

Today’s example site comes from a long-time Webs user whose website shows a commitment to their B2B customers in several ways. Dog Eat Dog, Inc. designs and manufactures custom mobile solutions for catering and retail clients — creating things like catering trailers, food trucks, and kiosks (how cool!). Here’s how Dog Eat Dog shows their customer focus through their website:

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