Friday, February 24, 2006

Communication Makes Happy Customers

I have been dealing with a local organization, trying to get a refund for a service that was not performed. I have been very disappointed in the person that I have been in contact with. His communication skills are very lacking. I called and left numerous voice messages, he never returned my calls. If I called the office and happened to catch him in, he would talk to me, but never took the initiative to follow up. I have e-mailed and have finally gotten a response after a few weeks.

I truly believe that I will get my refund, as this is a well known organization and a good one. But, the thoughts that have crossed my mind while this person was not communicating with me has shown me just how important communication is. Communication is especially important when someone's money is involved. When there was no communication, it was easy to think that this man was unconcerned about taking money for a service that I did not receive. How was I to know if he was even telling me the truth about making sure that I got a refund? Had he followed up with me, I would have felt assured that he believed I should have a refund and would see to it that I got one. As it was, I didn't feel like he cared at all. I have considered not being involved with this organization again, as I didn't feel this person was doing his job by not communicating with me. It made me wonder what else he was not doing well and I questioned whether or not I could trust him.

So, what does this tell me? I need to communicate with my customers when they place an order so that they know a real person is handling things and it has not been left up to faceless machines. I need to let them know when their order will ship, make sure I have the personalization correct, and confirm anything else that is appropriate. They are entrusting me with their money, I need to make sure they are kept informed. This seems so simple and we might think that we would never consider not communicating with our customers. But how often do we get so busy that we don't even remember if we have communicated with them? That happens to me! How often do we get interrupted and lose track of what we intended to do. That happens to me! The nice thing about communicating via e-mail is that we can keep copies of our communication. I do that so I not only know that I wrote to them, but what I wrote to them. Now, the next step I am going to take is to make sure that my sent e-mails are in the same folder as the customer's order so that I can easily find that communication.

Communication makes happy customers. Happy customers are what makes my business go. No communication, no happy customers. No happy customers, no business. It's as simple as that.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Why Would You Give Someone an Angel Teddy Bear?

Kailie's Angel Teddy Bear, a very special teddy bear gift

I am finally going to answer the question about angel teddy bears. Someone could choose to send an angel teddy bear just because they are pretty or because someone likes teddy bears and angels. But I've had people choose my angel teddy bears to send to someone for various reasons, all of them good reasons to send a gift from the heart.

~Bereavement (Bereavement Angel in two sizes, Bereavement Angel Ornament, Blue Angel, Baby Guardian Angel )

~Serious Illness (Guardian Angel, Kailie's Angel)

~Breast Cancer Patient (Pearl Angel in two sizes)

~Gift for Sister (Sister Angel)

~Gift for Friend (Friendship Angel)

~Birth of Baby (Baby Guardian Angel, Trinity's Angel)

~Get Well Wish (Get Well Angel)

~Birthday Gift (Birthday Angel - dressed in dress color to correspond with birthstone color)

~Ornament for Tree (Angel Ornament, Baby Angel Ornament)

~Let someone know you care (Prayer Angel)

~Angel Decor (Country Angel)

As you can see the angels have been used for many occasions, some of which I probably am not even aware of. I don't know if there can be a better gift to send someone who is facing a difficult time than an angel, a reminder of God's love and care for them.

If you like wooden angels, my sister-in-law has some beautiful angels. I have one hanging on my wall and it is a "feel good" type of decor. You can see her angels at Bear Farm Woodcrafts, Angels.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Business Observations

Pirate Teddy Bear holding silk Rose

After whining about how slow my sales and traffic were in early January,things really started to change about the last full week of January. It's like someone opened the floodgates and suddenly my traffic tripled and orders started coming like crazy. Many of those orders were for Valentine's Day, of course, so we shall see what happens in the next few weeks. Of those many orders, I had at least 5 that were obtained via toll free phone calls. I've never had that many people call me in such a short amount of time. In fact, I'd almost bet that those 5 calls were more phone calls than I received all of last year. Very strange, but good business, so I'll take it.

Here are some interesting things about the traffic. Monday I received a sale from a lady in Germany who wanted an item delivered to a city in Kansas by Valentine's Day. It just so happened that the city is only about 30 minutes from my home, so her chances were very good that Priority Mail will get it there Tuesday. I offered the Express Mail option, but she didn't want to pay more for shipping than for the item she ordered and I couldn't blame her. Anyway, in checking my stats to see if I could find how she found me, I saw that she had searched for "gifts for valentine's day in kansas" or something like that. In google, I came up #13 in this search, which I thought was not bad at all considering that "kansas" is only mentioned once on my index page down towards the bottom where I have listed my name and location, toll free number, etc. I believe that is the first time I have received an order because someone searched for gifts in a certain location.

Then there's the traffic from blogs. No sales from this traffic yet, but still I thought it was interesting. The first traffic from a blog, was not from my own blog, but someone else who has linked to my site, in reference to Valentine's Day as being "Freaky Teddy Bear" and something else day. Not exactly a complimentary link, but people have clicked on the link to see my
freaky teddy bears. Sort of funny really.

Now for the ultimate funny and the reason why I do not make up a lot of any bears ahead of time. I AM A TERRIBLE PREDICTOR of what people will buy. I put in the time and effort to make a very nice page of Valentine gift ideas. I thought I was being very clever in having several different sizes, a wide price range and making the shopping easy by it all being on one page. There were a couple of items that sold well last year and if I had had my helper
working on clothing ahead of time, I would have had her making those items. Guess what! I had almost no sales for those items this year. Know what I sold the most of?? PIRATES! They were not on the Valentine page, people searched for Pirate teddy bear and found me. I don't know if the pirate movies have caused a surge in interest in Pirates or not, but I would never had predicted that many pirates going out the door for V-day. If I had made up items ahead of time, I would have been stuck with that inventory and really have no use for it until next Valentine's day. Some people have told me that there were ads on TV for a pirate bear (not mine, of course!) and perhaps that put the thought in people's heads. I don't know, but I sure sold alot of them and I am glad. That Pirate Bear is one of my very best sellers. Who da thought??