Archive for the ‘Services’ Category

New Services

April 28, 2016

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Since starting AMPMPA in 2008, I have had a few changes of direction in the services I offer to clients.  Initially just offering ‘traditional’ PA services, carrying out admin, filing, diary management, typing, document formatting and helping with things like invoicing and low level bookkeeping.

The world has moved on since then and most of the roles I carry out are not PA roles at all, and more business development and marketing. I also coach and train people a lot more now.

Since social media has become more and more popular, I have started offering monthly ‘packages’ for social media engagement. This may include posting regular Twitter updates (including follows, faves, RTs and mentions) to creating and maintaining Facebook pages. I also help people manage their online reviews, and set up mailing campaigns to send out regular newsletters.  All to help raise awareness and increase customer engagement.

And after many times of helping other PAs and VAs set up in business, I am now offering coaching services to people who are looking for help and support in getting started in their Virtual PA Business.

I still retain some of my initial services including my ‘Just a Day’ service and Excel, Word and Powerpoint help, formatting and problem solving.

My aim has always been to provide business support services to small and micro businesses, and even though most of my clients are based in or near Bath, I also work with many clients only virtually.  Skype, Google Hangouts, FaceTime and Messenger are all great ways to keep in touch, and having meetings online cuts down hugely on travel time and costs, and keeps everyone focussed.

If you would like any help or support, please do get in touch, I am here to help, organise, support and grow your business.

Thanks for reading

Angela MacAusland
Your PA for a Day

 

 

How to be ‘Time Smart’

September 3, 2015

I am often asked how I manage my time, with so many clients to deal with, emails, phone calls and social media interactions to manage. The answer is – I plan and here are some of my tips of how to manage your time smartly, if you have lots of things to do and not enough time to do them in.

Make a ‘Weekly To Do List’

At the beginning of each week, create a list of tasks that are outstanding and give them each a priority rating.

  • 1) Urgent – Needs to completed today
  • 2) Important – Needs to be completed this week
  • 3) Not Important – Needs to completed this month
  • 4) Personal Tasks – Only do these things once 1) is done
  • 5) Low – Needs to be completed but no specific timescale

At the end of the week, re-do your list, your priority 1’s should be complete, and the other tasks can be re-prioritised, depending on deadlines. It’s worth adding a ‘deadline’ date as well.

For example:

Weekly Task List

Make a ‘busy day’ schedule

If you have back to back meetings, phone calls, things to do, places to be and still have to fit in walking the dog and meeting your friend for a drink after work, plan your day around your scheduled appointments and fill in the gaps with things you can do on the way or in between.

For example

Busy day schedule

Learn to estimate how long it takes to complete a task

Work out how long a task is going to take so that you can schedule in your time more accurately. Keep a record of how long you estimate a task to take and record how long it actually took, so that you know for future planning. Don’t under-estimate how long something takes and then end up with tasks still not completed at the end of the week.

If necessary build in extra slack into you day or allow 50% more time than you originally estimated to complete a task. Conversely do not get into the habit of using up 2 hours of time if you can finish the task in an hour, don’t ‘waste’ time if you have over-estimated.

Use a stop watch or alarm to remind you every 30 minutes, so that you can check if you are on track with your timings.

For example:

Task Estimation

Plan your day in sections

Your mind cannot concentrate for 8 hours at a time and stay focussed all that time. If you are planning to be in your office all day, break up your day into 90 minute ‘productive time’ periods and work through your tasks during that time.

Then every morning and afternoon plan in 30 minutes of ‘non-productive time’ so that you can move aside from your tasks and schedule. Use this time to either get out of the office, grab a coffee, take a walk or just move away from your computer screen or the phone.

Also plan in one 30 minutes session every day for ‘quick wins’ where you can work really fast through lots of smaller tasks, to enable you to clear your backlog.

For example

Daily Planner

In summary

  • Have a weekly to do list and tick off tasks, re-prioritise throughout the week
  • Only create a day list for really busy days that take you out of the office or you have back to back meetings, phone calls etc.
  • Estimate how long tasks will take, record how long they actually take and plan better for the future
  • Plan in ‘productive’ and ‘non-productive’ times into your day and don’t get distracted by email, social media and the internet

If you need some coaching on how to organise your time, get on top of your tasks and generally make a bit of time for yourself, get in touch. These are only some of the techniques we use, and for once a month over a 6 month period, we work with you to help you learn some of these techniques. Let us organise you.

An interview with Angela MacAusland

March 4, 2013

Jan Morris – who is just about to start up as a Virtual Assistant interviewed me recently, to find out a few tips before she started.

Here is the transcript of the interview as I thought it might help some other VA’s or PA’s get started.

How and when did you get started as a VA – what made you decide to do it?

I set up as a sole trader in 2008, and changed to a Limited Company in 2011. I knew my strengths laid in organising things and that’s what I love doing, so I set up a business around that.

Are you glad you became self-employed and what are the pros and cons?

Yes I am very glad, I am my own boss and being a control freak, that really was the only way forward. The pro’s are that I answer to me, and I choose who I work for and when and where. The con’s are that I don’t have a big team behind me if something goes wrong, but I have set up a network of people that I can trust and rely on – but that took time, which I didn’t have in the beginning.

What was the most helpful pieces of advice you received about starting up your business?

‘I written books on marketing – cheque books’ – Lord Alan Sugar

‘You’ll be great at whatever you do – you always are’- My Dad

Did you get any help in setting up your business and if so from friends/family or professional advisors?

I did go on a free setting up in business course, and joined the Federation of Small Businesses, but no family help, only encouragement.

How did you find your first client and did you get most of your subsequent clients from referrals?

My first client was my old boss, most new work comes from referrals, or my website. This is a people business so I also get out and meet new  people all the time at events etc.

Can you remember what your first job was for your first client?

After I left my full time job I went back to cover staff sickness, which led to quite a few more similar jobs in the early days.

Do you have a preferred job/role and if so why do you prefer it to other jobs/roles? 

There is no defined role in this job, you match what you can offer to what the client needs, I know my limitations and skills, and adjust my role accordingly. But that has taken years to hone that skill.

Are there jobs you hate and refuse to do and if so what are they?

Making sales calls.

What has been your most fun role/job?

Some of what I do is teaching and training (I used to be an IT trainer years back) and I really enjoy that – helping others learn new skills. Probably social media and marketing training or team building skills.

Did you struggle to make a living in your first year or were you able to make a profit?

I made a small profit in the first year, but most of my income was spent on kitting out my office – laptop, printer, phones, desk, office stationery etc. Most of this was offset for tax, so even though my income was less than my salary, at least I wasn’t paying much tax.

What made you decide to work with your associates and was it easy to work out all the logistics, etc?

I needed to bring in associates to help with the work that was coming in, as I was unable to manage everything. I had quite a bit of new (and still ongoing) work come in during the second half of my first trading year.  My associates work from their own offices (only very occasionally from mine) so the logistics are not hard, the difficult thing is finding not only good people but exceptional people.

As you are the boss/owner, do they take their lead from you, or are there arguments/spats?

I thoroughly vet every associate – sometimes taking months to decide if they are right to work with me, I have only been wrong once and we parted company amicably. Other than that everyone is so nice and I get on well with all of them.

Do you work from home or an office and if from home, is it easy to communicate with your colleagues?

I work from a home office, and communication has never been an issue for me, phone, email, skype are perfectly adequate, we meet only when we have to as time is precious.

If you are busy do you turn work away, or do you sub-contract?

I don’t turn work away if the work is something we can manage, that’s why I have associates to take on the extra work. If necessary I will work over the evening/weekend to meet a deadline, but I am proud of the fact that I am super organised so everything does get done on time.

If you do sub-contract, is it easy to manage, or do you spend time chasing them up?

I only sub-contract out small portions of work at any one time and always give a deadline, I know that my associates will deliver on time and if they cannot do this they let me know before they take on the work. I trust them, but its taken years to gain that confidence.

What is the normal split of rate with a sub-contractor?

There is no normal ‘split’ and in fact I take a small percentage rather than split, this is agreed in advance so that everyone is happy.

Do you spend a lot of time typing or are you more hands-on and go to the client’s office/home to physically sort out their filing system/email account, etc?

Not much typing for clients, not even much filing, everything is pretty much done over the phone and email these days. Most work is virtual but some clients like to see me in person once a month

Are you involved in affiliation schemes – Amazon page, etc?  If not, would you consider it, or do you think it cheapens your brand?

I do have an Amazon affiliates account but hardly use it, I wouldn’t say it cheapens my brand, I just have better things to spend my time on.

Do you ever do any pro-bono work for charities, etc?

I already do a lot of fundraising for local and national charities, usually through running, I am also a member of a few charitable organisations that I pay a membership fee to, so I sleep at night knowing I have already done a lot.

Did you have to spend a lot of money on advertising?

I do most of my own marketing, but I did have to spend a bit when I got started on my branding/logo/website/letterheads/business cards etc. I called in a few business favours to keep the costs down.

Do you still spend money on advertising?

I don’t advertise – people find me, plus I go to a lot of events so meet people who know people, and you get your name around that way.

I have found a long list of documents on sale at a VA Association – do you use a lot of contracts/forms or is everything online?

I try to keep things simple, a lot of what I do is based on trust and I have found that a one page letter of agreement has been enough for me to form a ‘contract’ with my clients.

Do you sign a contracts and terms and conditions with your clients?

I have never been asked to sign a contract or terms and conditions with any of my clients. I am very discreet when working in similar sectors and never cross over different clients in different sectors, I wear many hats but never all at the same time. Its up to me to ensure I keep them organised.

Do you sign a contract with a subbie?

As above I have a letter of agreement – which is signed by us both.

If you do work virtually can you recommend software that you use for online “collaboration”?

I use a Mac and a huge variation in different sharing software. You have to be willing to fit in with what the client uses. I find Dropbox useful but generally speaking people still are sharing files via email. I have Mac and PC compatible software – its easier that way, but I am sure you will come up against some problems, the world is not standardised in terms of platforms, software etc.

Do you use Project Management software and if so can you recommend it?

No, but I have done in the past, Microsoft Project is quite easy to learn. I also used to be a PRINCE2 Practitioner – and Project Management is not really something I like or relish, so I steer clear.

I hear a lot about QuickBooks, Sage and lately Xero – have you used any of these?  If so, any good?

I used KashFlow for a while, but I also use software that my clients like to use, so I have to learn those as I go on. For my own accounting I just use Excel, its adequate for my needs.

If you do your own bookkeeping invoicing, can you recommend your software – is it a “cloud” system?

Again I use Excel but Kashflow is easy to use, recommend if you do to use it from the start, it takes a while to set up.

How do you access clients diaries remotely?

Some use Google Calendar, others via a CRM system, but I keep a master diary on my laptop of all my client movements, luckily I only have 2 clients who travel a huge amount and both of them have their own travel agents.

Have you ever been scammed by a client – i.e. not been paid?

Yes once, but I learnt my lesson from that, and its what made me decide to set up as a Limited Company. Where ever possible I meet new clients, or if they are at the other end of the country I at least have a long phone chat with them. I also look them up on Facebook/LinkedIn etc.

Do you get would-be clients trying to knock your rate down?  If so, do you manage to persuade them that you are good value and “convert” them?

This is harder when you are starting up, but I am completely up front at the start what my rate is and my negotiated rate is only available for longer term clients. I offer new clients a free one hour trial session, so that they can see the quality of my work. I let the quality of my work speak.

Would you ever turn work down/clients away (even if you are not busy) and if so why?  Assume there might be some work you don’t want to do?

I have turned work down that I didn’t want to do, there is some element of a gut feeling when a new client makes an enquiry. Some things I am not suitably qualified or insured to do, for example collecting clients children from school, I am not a child minder or taxi service.

Do you have a strict checklist procedure for when new clients join you?

Again – and I am prepared to take the small risk – I go by my instinct. I don’t think its necessary to carry out for example credit checking on all new clients. Generally most of my clients come as referrals and recommendations so its not something I worry about.

Do you have a script ready to use when would-be clients call you?  If so, any tips as to what to include?

No I am afraid it all comes from my head/heart. Probably best to do less talking and more listening, find out what they want, and come back with solutions. I always take notes while on the phone – even if its some-one I know.

Do your clients pay in advance – i.e. retainers, or do they pay 50% up front and then you invoice for the balance?  If both, is it hard to keep on top of your billings?

My terms and conditions are that I ask to be paid within 30 days of the invoice date. I do my own invoicing once a month so that each client only gets one invoice a month. This is more difficult if you are working with associates, but they invoice me in a similar way. I know its not a water-tight system but it works for me and my clients.

What’s your best tip to obtain clients AND to hold onto them?

Be superb, be amazing, be invaluable, be there for them.

Are most of your clients based in Bath?  If so, does that mean that you do not have to work “virtually”

Less than half of my clients are based in Bath, but even the ones that are I only actually see about once a month in person, the rest is virtual.

Did you find clients via networking orgs/groups?

Not directly but I have built up fantastic networks of people I trust and businesses that have become suppliers. I don’t go out to meet new clients, I just go out to meet new people and make business friendships.

Do you do your own bookkeeping for your business or do you pass it all to bookkeeper/accountant?

I keep basic Excel spreadsheets and send to my accountant once a quarter – she has been my accountant for 3 years so knows how I work and how my business works, its all done virtually and we meet once a year to talk about profit and loss, fees etc.

Is everything you buy for your role tax deductable -including solicitor/accountant, etc?

I can’t give tax advice but a lot of things are offset against tax, the best thing to do is keep records of everything. Also you should be able to go on an HMRC tax course – I did when I started up.

Do you invoice your clients yourself or do you sub this out?

I do it, I don’t have hundreds of invoices each month so its quite straightforward.

Is joining the FSB and/or Chamber of Commerce worthwhile?

Yes the Federation of Small Businesses, I have been a member since start up. Free banking, free legal advice, discounts etc.

Have you gained clients from joining the FSB/CoC?

Not directly, but I have made some excellent contacts through events, some of which may or may not turn into work in the future. I don’t try too hard.

Jan interviewed Angela over lunch in Bath on Friday 1st March 2013.

Proof reading tips

February 13, 2013

Don’t rely just on your spell checker, typo’s, grammatical errors and plain spelling mistakes shout out that you do not pay attention to detail. Whether it is writing for the web, on a leaflet or via social media, it is not acceptable to send out messages that contain errors. Here are a few tips and tricks that I have picked up along the way.

Edit first
Make any changes to your text first, then go through and proof read for errors, not the other way around. Use a spelling and grammar checker – always, but don’t depend on this as the only tool.

You go first
Before you ask some-one else to give your text the once over, make sure you have done so first, pick up the obvious errors and allow some-one else to pick up the harder to spot ones. Check your work at least 3 times before you let some-one else see it.

Concentrate
You need to concentrate to proof read well. Walk away from your text, have a break, do something else, then go back to it. Always give yourself plenty of time, proof-reading cannot be rushed, and try to avoid distractions. Preferably proof read when you have a fresh pair of eyes and are not falling asleep in a low-light lull.

Hard copy
Print out the text and read it through, have a red pen to hand and make the changes on the paper. You see and read things differently on paper and on-screen. Use your finger to point to each word as you read. Try printing in different fonts if you have to re-read lots of times through, you see different word shapes with different fonts.

Out loud
Read your work out loud, slowly and clearly. Some people say to read your work backwards, this stops your brain filling in the gaps for often read words.

Check
Titles, footers, headlines – not just the main text. Also double-check if some-thing doesn’t look quite right, never assume your command of the language is infallible. Also keep your formatting consistent. Also pay attention to how numbers are written and make sure you have the correct formatting.

Learn
Learn from your mistakes, you will find that you tend to make the same ones, know your faults and spot them next time, don’t train your brain to overlook them. Also train yourself to look for one type of error at a time, spelling, grammar, formatting etc, this will stop you skipping over subtle errors in favour of the big ones.

Language
Look out for words that share spellings or pronunciations but have different meanings complement / compliment ; stationery / stationary ; their / there ; bear / bare etc. Also make sure you use apostrophes correctly its / it’s ; your / you’re ; their / they’re. Also pay attention to punctuation, words with capital letters and the correct use of quotation marks etc.

Final check
Even if you have carried out all the advice above, always check again one last time, especially if some-one else has edited the original copy.

If you would like a review of any of your printed collateral, just let us know, or if you would like some-one else to proof-read text you have created – get in touch 01225 443483 or visit our website for more details of some of the ways we can help you www.ampmpa.co.uk

Email Marketing

January 14, 2013

Email Marketing can help you engage with your current and prospective clients and partners and help you spread the word about your products and services, but before creating your first campaign, take a look at my top tips.

Why are you sending an email campaign?

  • Is it designed to get new customers, extra business or to build existing relationships?
  • If the purpose is to drive traffic to your website, include lots of obvious links to your website and calls to action like ‘click here’.

Who are you sending to?

  • What is your audience interests?
  • Only send your campaign to people you know, the stronger the relationship you have with people, the more likely they are to engage with your campaign content.
  • Quality in your contact list is more important than quantity, why send out to 5000 contacts if only 5 open it.
  • Ensure recipients have opted in to receive and always include an opt-out or un-subscribe option.
  • Un-personalised or badly personalised emails may attract spam complaints.
  • Always send from a real person, and real email address ‘donotreply@mycompany.com’ says ‘I don’t want you to contact me’.

What will be in the content?

  • Be brief, but to the point, with the sentiment ‘hey remember me, here’s something for you’.
  • Less is more, say what you have to say in bullet points or short paragraphs.
  • Make sure you have good content, something worth reading.
  • Include the ‘best bits’ at the top of your campaign, so this appears when people are using a preview pane.
  • Don’t ‘sell’ to people via your email campaign, build relationships.
  • Offer information that is of value to your customers, e.g. a florist might give some tips on arranging your flower display at home.
  • Use customer questions from the past to give advice to others.
  • Double check typos and grammar before sending and always spellcheck.
  • Don’t use italics, very large fonts, spaced text or all words in uppercase, these all increase spam scores.
  • Avoid obvious spam words, but also things like ‘free, hard, replica, quality, diploma, ££, $$, save, discount’ etc.
  • Include a signature at the bottom, to include your personal details, company details, and an unsubscribe link.
  • Always have a copy of the email on a web server and add a message at the top of your emails that says something like ‘Click here if you are unable to read the email’

Think about your subject line

  • Make sure your email doesn’t look like spam, avoid using capital letters.
  • Rather than something dull (and easy to forget like ‘newsletter’) get your audience intrigued by the content, e.g. How to arrange flowers at home, top florist tips’.
  • The subject line is the only part of your email that people are guaranteed to read, even if it’s just to delete it.
  • Be clear about the key offer, benefit or proposition and communicate only that in your subject line.
  • Write your email subject line after you have written the content, not the other way around.

How will your email look?

  • Avoid flashy graphics, layouts, colours etc, most email programs will not display all of this content.
  • Keep it looking professional, and simple, yet easy to read on many devices.
  • Avoid the text being too small, not everyone has 20:20 eyesight.
  • Make the content of your email easy to navigate, use paragraphs and spaces.
  • Compress all images, even better have no images.
  • Keep the look and feel the same each time, it promotes your brand consistency.
  • Most users will be viewing your email in a preview pane with the images turned off.
  • Make sure that your message is less than 600 pixels wide and at least one link into the first 100 pixels.
  • Always have the option of sending a plain text version of your email too.
  • If you include links, make sure they are easy to spot and appear in blue bold and underlined fonts.

When should you send it?

  • When to send depends on your audience.
  • Studies show Tuesday and Wednesdays are the best days of the week.
  • Between 2 and 3pm (GMT) seems to be an optimum time to send out your email campaign.
  • If you are sending a weekly email, always send at the same time on the same day each week.
  • Once a month is a good frequency – more often, you may annoy people – less often, and they may have forgotten who you are in between.
  • Avoid holiday times and weekends.
  • Business to business emails should be sent during work hours, business to consumer, early evening works best.

Make sure you measure the effectiveness

  • Check who opens your emails, which subject lines work best, which articles they read etc.
  • Over time test what does and does not work. Every audience is different.
  • Make sure you keep your database up to date, there is no point sending to people who have left their company.
  • Check every campaign for un-subscribes, bounces etc and update.

It’s not a complete list, and these are only my views, but they are worth giving a try, please feed back to me if you try these and they work. Equally if you would like some help putting together an email campaign, let me know I am here to help angela@ampmpa.co.uk

 

Let me introduce myself

October 30, 2012

My name is Angela MacAusland and I own and run  AM PM PA Limited which is a Virtual PA for a Day company.

I set up AM PM PA in Bath in 2009 and have been successfully trading ever since.

Myself and my team of PA’s work mainly virtually, but we can spend time in your place of work too if needed.

Our clients are actually based all over the UK – but we work from our offices here in Bath – that’s the beauty of being virtual!

We even run our own ‘Just for a Day’ service, where we come into your office for one day and blitz your backlog – leaving you with a clear desk!

Your To Do List becomes our To Do List

Visit our website for more information about how we can help www.ampmpa.co.uk and Let Us Organise You

Do you need a Virtual PA?

October 25, 2012

People don’t realise they need a Virtual PA until they have one!

If your work/life balance is a thing of the past and you haven’t got time to think, let alone tackle your growing task list – maybe a Virtual PA is the way forward.

Whether it’s going through your inbox, prioritising your workload or organising an event, let a VPA take the burden away from you, at a time convenient to you.

The benefit of having your own Personal Assistant, without the hassle involved with actually employing some-one. Virtual PA’s work on a freelance basis and are paid only for the work carried out – recruitment costs, holiday pay, sickness pay, benefits, pensions, are all a thing of the past!

Because we are Virtual, we can work in your office, your home or our office, whatever works for you.

PA’s make a real difference to people’s lives and businesses – we know because that’s what our clients tell us!

Get in touch today – we are Your PA for a Day

South West of England PA Awards 2012

May 9, 2012

AMPMPA are proud to be supporting these awards, Angela MacAusland is on the judging panel. Details below:-

Calling all PAs – and their bosses.

The South West of England PA Award 2012 will recognise PA’s who go the extra mile in helping their organisations reach their potential, who make a real difference to their managers and who play key roles in delivering excellence in the workplace. 

Bristol Business News, Bath Business News and Swindon Business News have teamed up with Ston Easton Park Hotel, near Bath, to stage the South West PA of the Year Awards – the first of their kind in the region. 

PA’s are often the unsung heroes of an organisation. A steadying influence during challenging times, they are professional, reliable and pivotal to an organisation’s success. Yet they often go unrecognised – until now. 

The PA of the Year Awards will take place on July 4 when the winners will receive their accolades following a champagne tea on the hotel’s beautiful terrace. 

There are 3 award categories: 

PA of the Year 

Newcomer of the Year
(Open to those who have been employed in a PA role for less than two years as of Sunday 17th June 2012) 

Best event organised by a PA
(Entries valid for events that took place between January 2011-June 2012) 

Entries will go before our judging panel for a chance to win fantastic prizes such as tickets to Ballet in the Park at Ston Easton Park presented by Covent Garden Dance Company, a spa day for two at The Royal Crescent Hotel in Bath, theatre tickets, racing tickets and much more! 

Award entry closing date: Sunday 17th June 2012 (midnight) 

If you’re a PA please nominate yourself OR if you know of a fabulous PA get nominating! 

Please enter by visiting the following address and completing the online form. http://swindon-business.net/index.php/2011/04/18/south-west-pa-of-the-year-entry-form/

Or join the LinkedIn Group for more details http://linkd.in/SWPAAwds 

Recognising Touch Points and Exit Points in buying behaviour

October 24, 2011

I recently read an article about customer relationship management and how to improve the customer experience and build loyalty.

Any interaction with a customer and a company can be defined as a ‘touch point‘ and in the buying process there are potential ‘exit points‘, or places where the customer can abort the buying process.

No sooner had I read the article, I was experiencing a number of ‘touch points‘ with a well-known pizza delivery company, with ‘exit points’ scattered throughout the process, and if it wasn’t for 6 hungry teenagers drooling at my feet, I would have aborted the buying process on 6 separate occasions, even though I had experienced 6 ‘touch points‘ within the space of an hour.

Scenario, 6 hungry teenagers wanting 6 large pizzas, from well-known pizza delivery company.

Touch Point 1 – A leaflet offering 50% on any online orders for pizza (from aforementioned company) was posted through my door.

Exit Point 1 – The leaflet should have been filed in the bin.

Touch Point 2 – I went to the website, and tried to order the 6 large pizzas.

Exit Point 2 – The sale was potentially lost as the ordering website was not working and I could not enter my order.

Touch Point 3 – Decided to telephone instead, only to be informed that yes the website was down, and to try later.

Exit Point 3 – The sale was potentially lost again, as being told to try later is never an option, this is fast food!

Touch Point 4 – I asked the telephone operator if I could order over the phone and use the special code, I was informed this was not available to use for telephone orders. 

Exit Point 4 – The sale was potentially lost again, even though I had given the company the opportunity to honour their deal.

Touch Point 5 – Due only to the fact that the aforementioned teenagers were begging me at this stage to try again, I went back to the website and tried again, this time it was working and I did manage to order 6 large pizzas for delivery, got all the way to the checkout process, entered the code and was given the error message ‘this code has expired’, checked the leaflet we had and it was still valid for another 10 days, by this point I am getting cross.

Exit Point 5 – The sale was potentially lost again, because the ‘online promo code’ did not work online.

Touch Point 6 – Final chance, I telephoned the store again and asked very politely to speak to the manager, I explained my situation and frustration with the points above and asked him for a solution. Fortunately he apologised, said he would take my order over the phone, he would apply the discount code and take payment at the same time and the pizzas would be delivered within 30 minutes. 

Exit Point 6 – Luckily there was no exit point 6, because even though I am not a loyal customer, the teenagers were and they got their pizzas, I didn’t lose my temper and it gave me the idea for this blog, so all was good.

The morale of this story is, that this could happen to anyone at any stage. It could be when some-one visits your website, when they try to phone in, email or get in contact. My suggestion is that you draw a flow diagram of how customers interact with you as a company, and what are their ‘touch points‘ and potential ‘exit points‘ in the buying process?

Please do comment on this blog, I would be interested to hear your thoughts.

Communication channels

September 26, 2011

In the days of CRM and social media, where its not acceptable to forget or lose contact details, has anyone else (apart from me) started to add ‘preferred method of contact’ to their regular contacts.  This can have a huge impact on how you engage with people, and actually in some cases shows how much you value and care their relationship with you.

Here are a range of different contacts I have with people to illustrate:-

Mr Pink – He is old school, and only communicates via telephone or letter.
So emails, twitter, Facebook, even text messages are not on his radar. Is usually out of the office all day too.

Mr Blue – Customer facing, so communicates via SMS or Twitter during the day, email  in the evening.
Phone contact and messages are no good either. SMS contact if needed urgently.

Mrs Green – During the day, in meetings or car (no hands free), during the evenings staying in hotels.
Reads and sends emails with rapid succession during the hours of 9pm and midnight.

Miss Red – Has bypassed emails and communicates through Facebook/Twitter and other social media.
Rarely a day goes by without a status update, always replies to messages very quickly.

So my point is? If you know the best way to contact people, you will almost certainly be able to engage with them in a way that suits them, and respect their ways of working. This is all about managing not only your time and working environment, but knowing that there is no blanket way of communication any more.

We care what our clients and suppliers, friends and colleagues feel – John Maxwell said “People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.”


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