What Ever Happened to Customer Service?

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It happens all the time and I’m beginning to feel like I have a “customer service bad luck charm” hanging around my neck.

I go to the supermarket, and the checkout person spends more time talking to her coworker about how much she hates her job, than she spends thanking me for my business.

I call a contractor to fix a problem with the roof, and he never calls back.

I wait on hold for 30 minutes before the phone company picks up my call. Or worse, I get a recording that says, “Our phone lines are busy, try calling us back later.”

We are told over and over again that we have to be unique to catch the attention of prospective customers. But in most industries and professions, you aren’t all that unique. (There are hundreds of small business coaches!) Here’s one way you can shine above the rest: good customer service.

We’re becoming immune to poor customer service, probably because we receive bad service so often that we’re not expecting anything better. Even our colleagues will take other phone calls while on the phone with us, or read their email while we’re trying to have a conversation. It’s an epidemic.

Instead of getting angry and frustrated at businesses that don’t treat you right, create a list of “Things I’ll never do to my customers or colleagues.” Do everything you can to focus solely on your customers when you’re communicating with them. Send them thank-you cards after you start working together, or when a colleague sends you a referral.

These small things do matter and will make you shine…and bring you more business!

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Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business
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Small Businesses Less Confident About Economy

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According to the most recent “OPEN from American Express Small Business Monitor” survey, only 45% of small business owners feel that the economy will get better over the next six months. (This is the lowest showing of “confidence” by small business owners in the six years that OPEN has been doing the survey.)

The good news is that 71% of survey respondents say that they plan to grow their business over the next six months.

It’s an interesting mix of reactions from the small business community. While the economy certain is rocky these days, and it does behoove us to pay careful attention, the economy is not the Sole Indicator of your business growth and success. There are many things you can do to turn the tide in your favor.

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Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business

Studying Start-ups

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Kauffman Firm Survey (KFS) follows nearly 5,000 businesses founded in 2004 and tracks them over their early years of operation. Here are some interesting results:

  • More than a third of businesses (37 percent) had no revenue in their first year of operation while about 17 percent of businesses had profits in excess of $100,000.

  • Just under 9 percent of firms closed in one year and the survival rates vary by owner demographics.

  • Nearly 60 percent of the businesses had no employees in their first year while very few businesses (less than 4 percent) had more than 10 employees.

To learn more about the results of this survey, visit the Kauffman site.

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Do 50 Percent of Small Businesses Really Fail?

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Legend has it that 50 percent of all small businesses fail.

According to an article on MSNBC, two-thirds of small businesses make it past the two-year anniversary. However, only 44% reach their four-year anniversary. Ouch.

The news isn’t all bad. Built into this model are 10 industries that seem to have the highest risk. Failure rates are not consistent across all industries. (See article for this list of 10 industries.)

According to most sources, it seems like the same things bring down a business: lack of business and marketing skill (both planning and implementation of plans), poor cash flow, and heavy debt. Factoring in the risky industries, it may be that some industries are way above that 44% survival rating, while others are drastically below it.

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State Business Tax Climate Rankings

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From the National Dialogue on Entrepreneurship:

If you really hate paying taxes, you might consider a move to Wyoming. That’s because Wyoming ranks No. 1 in the latest State Business Tax Climate rankings produced by the Tax Foundation. Each year, the Tax Foundation assesses how states perform on a host of measures. The reports assess 113 different variables that examine corporate taxes, individual taxes, sales, unemployment, and property taxes. The Index doesn’t simply honor states for keeping taxes low.

The Tax Foundation’s top performers have low, flat taxes that treat all taxpayers in a similar manner. In addition to Wyoming, other top performers (in rank order) are: South Dakota, Alaska, Nevada and Florida. On the other side of the ledger are Rhode Island (#50), Ohio (#49), and New Jersey (#48).

To access the 2007 edition of the Tax Foundation’s State Business Climate Tax Index, visit www.taxfoundation.org/publications/show/78.html.

To see just the index by State:


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