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Pat Monacelli

Dealing With Angry Customers When You’re Short Staffed

150 150 Pat Monacelli

by Christina R. Metcalf

The scene is a common one these days. Lines of people waiting to pay in a restaurant, retail establishment, or grocery store. Tempers flare. Customers yell at staff and wonder why there’s only one person checking people out. Your staff thinks, “Who needs this?” and they’re not wrong. They feel overworked and underappreciated. Customers are demanding and loud. Customers vow not to return. It makes for a bad situation for everyone.

So what can you do to ensure it doesn’t happen in your business?

Dealing with angry people during a staffing shortage is not easy, especially since one problem creates the other. People are angry because they have to wait. People have to wait because you are short staffed. No one wants to work in an environment filled with angry people.

Here are some things you can do to diffuse the situation.

How to Deal with Angry Customers When You’re Short Staffed

Put People Where They’re Needed
As a manager or owner, when you are short-staffed you will always be assessing what needs to be done and who is around to do it. Make sure you have people in the most critical customer-facing spots and pull them from other areas as needed, even if only for a few minutes.

Ensure your employees feel empowered to help one another with overflow. If they are on rack duty, for instance, in your retail establishment make sure they know you appreciate them helping out at the cash register when a line forms. This means you will need to take the time to cross-train everyone and make sure they are comfortable working in all areas of the store/business where appropriate.

Stress That Everyone’s a Manager
Often when people are disgruntled, they will demand to see a manager. While there are some decisions that only a manager can make, help your employees feel confident enough to take the reins in these situations and insist that they are decision makers. They can reiterate that the manager issued the protocols they are following.

When they call you every time a manager is needed, the customer quickly learns the person they are dealing with is a low person on the staff chart and no longer feels the need to listen to them. You are also rewarding bad behavior done against your staff.

Achieving this level of confidence in your employees means you have trained them to make decisions and they know what freedoms they have to assist your customers. Help them understand what rules may be broken or stretched and which ones are absolutes.

Explain the Situation
While you never want to apologize for something that hasn’t happened yet, it is a good idea to remind everyone that you are doing your best. In fact, you may even want to add a “be kind message” to your help wanted posters. Explain that if they want things to be processed quicker, you would love additional help. Using a little humor can go a long way to diffuse difficult situations.

Play Good Music
If you have the right staff and it fits your business, try playing some good tunes; the type of music that gets people moving. Encourage your staff to sing or invite others to burst out into song or dance. This may sound goofy but it’s hard to be in a bad mood when the song “Walking on Sunshine” comes on the radio.

Speaking of sounds…

Soothe Them with Voice
The human voice can affect mood. A whiny voice can put customers on edge while a loud voice can make them feel more combative. With a confident, soothing voice you can make people feel understood and less prone to anger.

This hiring crisis is a challenging time for managers, staff, and owners. Just when everyone wants to get out and enjoy life again, their favorite businesses are struggling to hire. Some have had to shut down because they don’t have enough employees to operate. These tips will help you calm tempers until things can return to normal employment.

5 Creative Ways to Find Employees Post-Pandemic

150 150 Pat Monacelli

by Christina R. Metcalf

Let’s face it. You can’t throw a rock these days without hitting a help wanted sign. If someone wants to work, there is little stopping them on the employer side. (There may be things like childcare or scheduling on the employee’s side but that’s another article.)

If you’re running ads along with all the other employers out there, you’re at the mercy of their budgets—and if they have a larger one than you—they may be able to get their wanted ads in more effective places more often. A sign in your place of business can also be effective but only if the right person passes your place. To stand out in this employee’s market, you need to get creative.

5 Creative Ways to Find Employees

Host an Event
Host an event at your place of business around something other than hiring. For instance, if you’re an art studio, host an event around a new artist or a workshop on a painting technique. While people are having fun, enjoying your business and getting to know your staff, let them know what positions you have open. This approach allows you to lead with the culture of your company, which can be a big seller.

Join the Chamber (and participate)
Joining the chamber will allow you to meet a lot of new people but that is only the beginning. Yes, you can share the type of employee you’re looking for and the chamber pros may know someone who’s perfect for you. But don’t stop there. That’s what everyone is doing. Instead, get involved. Volunteer, participate, make your own introductions to uncover who is looking for what. The chamber audience is business-minded and working. But don’t just hard recruit. Look to be of service and people will want to help you too.

Sponsor a Team or PTA
Get plugged into your local children’s sports program and sponsor a team or work with the PTA at a school in your area. Mention to these entities that you are hiring. Your PTA may have a newsletter you could advertise in or may put you on their website. Sports teams may allow you to hang a banner at their sports complex.

Empower Your Employees
No one wants you to fill those positions more than your overworked team so give them an additional incentive to get the word out to friends and family. As a bonus, you are less likely to be ghosted by someone who has a connection to your business.

Turn to Facebook
There are local groups on Facebook. Run a search and see what comes up in your area then ask to join them. Each group has rules about posting for businesses but if you’re trying to help with a job and not selling, you likely can post when you want to. These groups are comprised of people who live in the area and those who are interested in moving. Keep this in mind when you post.

Hiring is one of the most difficult challenges facing businesses today. It’s not enough to simply tell people that you’re hiring and what the position pays. For people to want to come to work for you, you need to show them what’s in it for them. Why will they enjoy working for you? What makes your business better than others? Use these creative approaches to find job candidates and then show them why your business is where they want to be.

4 Spring Cleaning Data Tips for More Sales

150 150 Pat Monacelli

by Christina R. Metcalf

While we are quickly heading toward the heat of summer, there’s still time to do some spring cleaning with your data. A nice clean email list can help you make the most of your ecommerce and increase summer sales.

Let’s get started.

Ways to Spruce Up Your Digital Marketing for Increased Sales

Customer data is great but only if you know what to do with it. Many businesses moved to online sales with COVID and, in turn, received a lot of good data from customers. But it’s time to get in there, do some spring cleaning of your database, and a few other things to position you for a hot summer sales season.

Segment
Did you get every name on your list the same way? Or did they get added through a variety of sources including ads, referrals, point of sale signups, and other ways? Likely, it’s the latter.

If you acquired your list members in various ways, take a moment to look into what each way tells you about them. Did they come to you after an e-commerce transaction or sign-up as part of a contest? How you got them is as important as how they continue to interact with you.

Look for ways to give them more of what they want in a personalized way by understanding what brought them to you in the first place.

Remove Non-Deliverables
You know the bounce backs you get every time you send? Look at the list and check for any obvious problems. Sometimes people hit the wrong key and you end up with .cmo instead of .com. Many bounce backs are due to key errors and are easy to recognize. Fix them. If it’s not obvious why they aren’t going through, get rid of them. You don’t want to pay for contacts that aren’t valid.

Get Rid of Dupes
Sometimes people get on lists from multiple ways, or they use different email addresses without realizing it. Take a quick scan for duplicate names. Do they share any of the same info? Could they be the same person? If so, do them a favor and merge the contacts. No one enjoys receiving two emails from you on each send, no matter how riveting the emails are.

Add Some Summer Spice
Depending on your business, you may see more visitors in the summer than during other parts of the year, on e-commerce or in-person. Since we’re talking about digital marketing here, look for ways you can add some summer spice to your website content, your newsletter, your landing page, and your email messaging. People are ready for fun times. They want school to be over and—unlike last summer—be able to do something. Play to that interest when creating or tweaking your content.

There’s an excitement in the air that has not been there for a while. Use this renewed energy to take a second look at your digital marketing. Make some quick tweaks and get ready for summer and increased sales.

 

Building Trust in a Post-Pandemic World

150 150 Pat Monacelli

By Christina R. Metcalf

If you were paying attention this week, you undoubtedly heard about the “gas crisis” where a cyberattack crippled a major pipeline. As if that wasn’t bad enough, consumers across the country panicked, running to the gas station to fill up whatever container they had, creating a gas shortage that was reminiscent of the toilet paper crisis of last year.

The media did its best to combat it by telling people in states like Florida, that its citizens were largely unaffected. However, few believed the reports and filled up anyway causing thousands of gas stations to run dry.

Trust Is a Valuable Commodity

According to the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer, “A majority of respondents believe that government leaders (57 percent), business leaders (56 percent), and journalists (59 percent) are purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false.”

Why should that matter to you?

This environment of distrust may (eventually) mean people are less likely to buy from you. If you do not establish the concepts of “know, like, and trust” with your audience, you may find sales and interest in your business diminishing.

So, what can you do?

Here are a few ideas.

Building Trust in a Post Pandemic World
These tips were written for a business that’s reputation is in the neutral position and may not apply if you are trying to recover from a public relations issue.

1. Practice transparency. Let customers behind your curtain. They will enjoy the opportunity and by more trusting. If you have a vested interest in something, be honest and upfront about it. This also includes admitting when you mess up.

2. Open the conversation up. Social media should never be a one-way announcement. Look for ways to ask questions and get people involved. Think about what business decisions you can crowdsource.

3. Bring your customer service online. In 2021, how someone gets answers or help from you shouldn’t be on your terms. A phone number is only the beginning. Incorporate other avenues like chat, email, or text. If you’re on Twitter, help people through that platform as well. If someone has an issue or question, they should be able to get in touch with you through their preferred method of communication.

4. Give them an expectation and exceed it. When someone has a question or is waiting on something like a delivery, “soon” doesn’t cut it. The technology exists these days for users to be able to pinpoint exactly where their items are on a map. The generic answer of “soon” as to when something will get to them or when they will hear an answer makes you look old-fashioned and uncaring. Instead, give them a time when you will get back to them. It is better to get back with them at that time and tell them you have nothing new to report than it is to tell them “soon,” and then they wait days to hear from you. Plus, the more communication you have with them, the less they will feel forgotten about. You want them to feel like their question, issue, or concern is on the top of your pile and consistent communication helps.

5. Be honest with information/data use. 46 percent of people who left Facebook admitted they did so because they didn’t trust what the company was doing with their data, or they were concerned over privacy. Make sure you follow the proper opt-in procedures and are transparent about how you will use information collected. When I worked in politics, a senator added his mother to a doner list for the party but changed her middle initial. That way whenever he received unsolicited mail, he knew if it came from that list because of her mistaken initial. People pay more attention to privacy these days. Don’t give them a reason not to trust you.

Trust is hard to build but easy to destroy. Think about your interactions with businesses and what made you feel distrusting then do your best to be as open as possible with the people who want to do business with you.

Master the Basics of Good Content to Increase Sales

150 150 Pat Monacelli

 

By Christina R. Metcalf

Writing is difficult for a lot of people. You may worry about your mastery of grammar or vocabulary. Maybe you just don’t think you have anything interesting to say. But if you have something to sell, you need to learn the basics of good copy, at least until you can pay someone to do it for you.

These basic tips can (and should) be used when writing your web copy, social media posts, newsletter, emails, or anything you’re using words to grab attention. Keep in mind that whatever you are writing you should always aim to be at least one of the following:

• Interesting
• Entertaining
• Educational/informative

Copywriting Tips for Beginners

1. Get Human: share what’s going on in your life
You are interesting and someone out there can identify with you and what you’re doing. Even if it’s just that you burned toast this morning, there’s someone who is nodding their head as they read your post. These types of human connections make people want to read more and get to know you which leads to potential sales.

2. Tie Your Product/service into Your Narrative
As you are “getting human” and sharing your stories, think about what types of skills or qualities go into making a good <insert your type of business here>. For instance, I follow a writer on social media. I didn’t follow her because I read her books and loved them. I followed her because her daily life stories are so funny and mirror mine that I wanted them to show up in my stream. She never even mentions her books. But because she entertains me, I am going to buy her books because I can tell from her posts that she’s very skilled at what she does.

Look for ways you can exhibit the skills people would associate with the type of business you’re in and tell stories around those things. Don’t tell people you are those things. Show people you are.

3. Ask Questions
The easiest thing you can do to get people talking is to ask them about their own experiences. It makes them feel valued and it may help connect your audience to one another as well as to you.

Use Assumptive Agreements and “Are You with Me’s”
I know, right?

This is an example of a popular assumptive agreement. So is “Nobody wants that, right?” It invites people to agree with you and leaves little room to do otherwise. These types of phrases are also good ways to break up paragraphs, create white space to make pages scannable, and keep your reader with you.

4. Good Visuals
Good visual aren’t words, but they draw people to read your words. In those cases, pretty pictures are nice but interesting is better. An interesting image forces people to read the text around it because they are trying to figure it out. A pretty image can stand alone; no further explanation is needed.

5. Notice What You Like Online
If you are in your own target demographic, pay attention to all the “junk” marketing you get and all the social media business posts you see. What do you like and what doesn’t work? Make a note of these things and use them to shape your own posts. The other day, just before lunch Chick-fil-a sent me a notification asking me if I wanted some of their golden nuggets. I thought about it for several hours. Guess where my kids ate last night?

6. Spend Time on the Headings and Titles
These lines are valuable. Titles will convince people to read. Headings break up text and are excellent places for keywords. Creating these is not a timed race. Since there are very few characters (you want to keep them short and punchy, for the most part), you want every word to serve a purpose. Headings and titles should:

• Tell the reader what the writing is about
• Use powerful words that are in keeping with your business’ personality (don’t use “awesome” if you’re a conservative investment firm, for instance)
• Use keywords
• Spur interest

Write your title. Then ask yourself, “so what?” or “and.” Revise to add the “so what” and ask it again. Eventually, there will be nothing left to ask. At that point cut any extra words, switch out boring words or add some exciting ones, and you have your title.

For example:
5 ways to make people like you
-So what/when?

5 ways to make people like you during the hiring process
-So what/why should the reader care?

5 ways to make people like you so you get the job
-And?

5 ways to “win the work” at your next job interview

Writing does take time but if you think about your audience, their needs, struggles, and interests and how your own might mirror those, you will always have content topics and intriguing angles.