Are You Going Above and Beyond?

As the designated grocery shopper in my family, I have spent many hours in grocery stores. Over the years, I have discovered that there are two types of grocery store employees.

above-and-beyond

When shopping and I cannot find an item, I ask a store employee for help. I generally get one of two answers:

  1. “If we carry it, it would be on aisle seven.”
  2. “Follow me. I will show you where it is.” Then, the employee helps me locate the item and makes sure that I am satisfied before leaving.

Both employees are helpful. However, I infinitely prefer interacting with the second type of employee. Why? Because this individual gives great service. He or she goes above and beyond.

BookCrash, the books for blogger review program that Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) hosts for its members, requires that bloggers who receive a book place a review of that book on their blog and on one retail site. This is a minimum requirement. Most bloggers follow this requirement. However, a few go above and beyond.

The other day, BookCrash received the following message about a review from a blogger:

“I have posted the review for this book on my blog and on:

  • Google+
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Amazon
  • Barnes & Noble”

This blogger truly went above and beyond. She provided extra service that allowed the book she reviewed to have extra exposure. Since exposure is key in marketing books, this blogger provided a great service to the author of this book.

What about you? Do you go above and beyond with your customer service?

What might going above and beyond look like for you, an author or publisher, promoting Christian books?

Related Posts:
Above and Beyond
Book Review Scare
Customer Service Matters

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Above and Beyond

When was the last time you were pleasantly surprised by a customer service experience? Anytime a business goes above and beyond in providing good customer service, they gain a loyal customer.

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Recently, I had one of those pleasant surprises. One of Christian Small Publishers Association’s (CSPA) Partner Members went above and beyond.

In June, CSPA had taken out a full-page cooperative ad featuring books from some of our member publishers’ books in the Book Fun Magazine. I was recently contacted by the magazine asking for update info for the ad, which they were going to be running in the August issue of the magazine.

I immediately contacted Book Fun Magazine to get clarification. I figured this must be a mistake. After all, CSPA had only paid for the ad to run one month, in June. Their response was that there was no mistake. They told me to read their tagline. Here is what their tagline reads:

“We reserve the right to do more than we promise.”

Wow. This company was running our ad for an extra month. Why? Because they reserve the right to do more than they promise. Running CSPA’s cooperative ad for an additional month has scored major points with us.

How are you doing in providing exceptional customer service? Do you ever go above and beyond with your customers?

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Customer Service Matters

A new study conducted by Woodbury University showed that while over 60% of businesses they surveyed were using the Internet to promote their business, over 25% of these businesses did not monitor customer satisfaction. The study also found that half (about 50%) did not monitor online reviews of their business.

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The most interesting find for me from this study was that only about 75% of the businesses surveyed reported that they felt good reviews were important to their business. Yet, in a survey of 1,500 consumers who were asked how they would select a business to do home remodeling, 35% reported that the relied on online reviews.

I am baffled by the 25% of businesses that thought consumer reviews were not important to their business. However, I recently ran into this issue in looking for a printer for the Third Edition of my book, Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace.

To get quotes to compare printing costs, I went online and submitted a request for a quote on five different printing companies’ websites. These are printing companies who I am familiar with due to their current or previous Partner Membership with Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA). I had even used two of the printers that I requested a quote from to previously print a book.

Of the five requests I submitted via these printers’ websites, I only received two quotes. The two printing companies I had used previously to print a book did not even respond to my request for a quote.

I was quite surprised. The only reason I can come up with is that these printers just don’t need any business. Yet, if that is the case, why would they place a “request a quote” on their website? One thing is sure, these printers certainly are not placing a high importance on customer satisfaction.

Fortunately, I did find a printer to print the Third Edition of Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace, and the book is now available for sale for $25.99 (with free shipping) if you order via www.marketingchristianbooks.com.

How about you? Are you providing good customer service? Do you respond promptly to emails, phone calls, and notifications on your social media sites? Bad customer service will drive readers away, while good customer service will ensure that you have readers for your books for years to come.

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How Happy are Your Customers?

I hear so many complaints about customer service. Friends complain about the checkers at the grocery stores not helping them find products. They complain about barristas with bad attitudes who don’t serve the coffee with a smile. They talk about restaurant servers who get an attitude when they point out an error was made with their order.

Customer Service

Customer service is extremely important to a successful business. Whether you are selling coffee or books, great customer service is essential. On average, a business loses about 20% of their customers just by failing to tend to customer relationships.

As publishers and authors, we must also be customer service conscious. From time to time, as Director of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA), I will field a call from a customer of one of our member publishers. These customers have taken the time to look CSPA up in a desperate attempt to acquire help in getting their issues resolved with a publisher. Usually the complaint has to do with a problem with an order and the publisher is not returning the customer’s phone calls or emails. Sometimes, the grievance is that their emails are not being returned and a phone number is not listed on the publisher’s website.

A recent Customer Experience Impact Report by Oracle found that consumers will commit (or return and buy again) to a brand if the company provides the following:

  • Friendly employees or customer service representatives (73%)
  • The ability to easily find the information or help they need (i.e. phone calls and emails returned) (55%)
  •  Personalized experiences (36%)

Do you want to improve your customer relations? Then start with being available to your customers.

Your website should contain a physical address where you can be reached, a phone number where you can be reached, and an email contact. This allows your customers to choose when, where, and how they want to contact you. Once you have done this, be sure to answer inquiries from customers and potential customers that come to you through these various venues.

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Unbelievable!

A small publisher recently posted the following message on one of the publishing discussion groups where I am a member.

“I have just received this return request from a customer. ‘I bought 3 books at your sale in Texas in 1999. Do you buy back books? We didn’t really use them. Thank you, J.’”

No, you did not read that date wrong. It says 1999. Yes, this small publisher received this message this summer, in 2011. That’s 12 years after the books were purchased.

First, I congratulate this small publisher for lasting 12 years in the publishing business. Obviously, they are doing something right, and I am sure that includes good customer service. However, asking a publisher to purchase back books 12 years after you bought them is ridiculous. No one truly expects this publisher to buy these books back.

I believe this little example illustrates just one of the many interesting, weird, and sometimes crazy things that will come your way as an author or publisher. Just be prepared.

I got a strange request just the other day. Someone sent an email to Christian Small Publishers Association with one line: “How do I publish cards?” That was all, no salutation, no closing signature or contact information (other than the email it came from).

The old saying, “It never hurts to ask,” is true. However, sometimes the answer depends on how you ask and other times, the answer will not change regardless of how the question is asked.

As for good customer service, I believe that we need to “love our neighbor as ourselves,” meaning that we should treat our customers with respect, even those that ask the strange or impossible. However, we are under no obligation to comply with every request we get.

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