December 2019 #SmallBizChat: How to Improve Your Customer Experience in 2020, How to Start an Affiliate Marketing Program, And Tax Planning Moves Before 2020

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December 2019 #SmallBizChat social imageOnce a month as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on #SmallBizChat LIVE. The show takes place on the 4th Wednesday of every month from 8-9 pm ET and is streamed live on my Facebook fan page, my YouTube channel, and Twitter page.  This is excerpted from my recent December 2019 #SmallBizChat LIVE interview with Experience Global President, Kim Church @ExpGLobal1, CEO of Experience Advertising Evan Weber @Experienceads, and CEO of Mitchell’s Business Solutions Yvette Mitchell @MitchellsBiz. 

Kim ChurchKim Church is the President of Experience Global, a patient and customer service training company based in Nashville, TN. Her company has a proprietary Disney-Inspired training and analytics platform they use with companies and hospitals throughout the country. For more information: www.Experienceglobal.com

SmallBizLady: What is the biggest mistake companies make when trying to improve their customer experience? 

Kim Church: I think most of the time people start focusing in on the customer first. They spend a lot of time, energy and money on finding out what their customers are saying about the current experience at their business. While I think that that is extremely important, I think there’s an overlooked element that is missed by most companies, and that is— what do your employees think about your customer experience? That’s what we do at Experience Global. When we walk into a company, whether it’s a manufacturing company, telemarketing company, hotel or hospital, the first thing we do is we survey the employees and we find out what they think about the customer experience. It gives us an immediate snapshot of how they believe they are currently doing, showcasing positives and negatives. 

SmallBizLady: What are the best ways to get employee data? 

Kim Church: We start with surveys. Then we build a SWOT analysis, bringing to light their Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. We start internally with employees because you really can’t have a great customer experience if you don’t have a great employee experience. We believe that happy employees make happy customers, and so we focus on training internally and focusing in on what you really need to change and work on to truly affect your customer experience. 

SmallBizLady: How do you balance today’s ever-changing technology, which is replacing people with machines and still keep a human touch to the customer experience?

Kim Church: The first thing you have to realize is this is going to happen – it already is – more jobs will be replaced with computers and machines but it is your responsibility as a company to remember that at every single opportunity you need to get a human touch. There’s a lot of different ways that you can do this. You can actually still maintain a presence at the company around the machines to help in any way. You can be more involved in sending out emails or texts to your loyal clients. So even if it’s not necessarily an in-person touch, you’re still receiving information and getting information to them.

SmallBizLady: How do you need to adjust to accommodate all the generations of customers today?  

Kim Church: There is a lot of different generations of customers. Millennials have a completely different view of the customer experience. They are the ones who are more prone to want to use computers or do it online with no interaction. So when you think about the millennials, you have to think to yourself – okay, I need to make whatever computer or machine that is replacing a person an easy, simple, fast, and efficient experience. Then you have a Gen X. They are oftentimes the forgotten generation. They are the generation that still wants a human touch mixed into the experience. They were raised on phones and computers; however, they were not using them in high school and most of college. Gen X is the last generation who is pre-computers and post computers. Baby boomers, in general, do not want to use their computer for anything. They still want a human touch. IE- if you have a company that has a phone system, baby boomers still need to have an option of talking to a person. It’s a tricky time to balance technology and human touch in customer experience. 

SmallBizLady: At your firm, you use the ICARE training inspired by Customer Excellence at Disney, can you explain the ICARE system?

Kim Church: I- IMPRESSION – Empowering each employee with the ability to engage each patient and visitor. Helping your organization to identify the three types of employees: Champions, Non-Engaged and Combative and how to reach each of these. 

C- CONNECTION – This training is more than just communication; it is learning how we connect with others. 

A- ATTITUDE – Realizing the most consequential attribute we possess is the attitude we apply every single day. Focus on changing attitudes – the most important element of our success. Remembering our goal is to exceed patient expectations in every situation. 

R- RESPONSE – Learning the value of how well we deliver excellence and service recovery on a daily basis. Patient safety is our most important mandate. 

E- EXCEPTIONALS – These are your non-negotiables, which are the qualities that differentiate your hospital or company from the competition. A strong set of non-negotiables not only allows everyone in your organization to get a clear view of who you are, but it will, in turn, help you improve your customer experience.

 Evan WeberEvan Weber has been involved in Internet marketing for more than 20 years. He started out selling antiques on eBay in the 1990’s and eventually started marketing e-commerce websites. He then made a career leap to DentalPlans.com in 2002, a successful startup. In 2007, he launched Experience Advertising, an award-winning digital marketing agency that has worked with more than 300 e-commerce companies managing various aspects of their digital marketing. Companies hire his firm to provide management of strategies such as: social media advertising, SEO, PPC search, affiliate marketing, website conversion rate optimization, and more. For more information: www.ExperienceAdvertising.com.

SmallBizLady: What is affiliate marketing or referral marketing?

Evan Weber: Affiliate marketing is the process of monetizing one’s audiences by referring users from one website to another, and if the referee makes a purchase or becomes a lead, a commission (or bounty) is paid out to the referrer/affiliate. Referrals can be made from one website to another, within emails/newsletter, through social media posts, via phone calls, or even by word of mouth. Affiliate marketing referrals are typically tracked electronically with cookies; however, dedicated phone numbers or dedicated coupon codes can also be used to track referrals.

SmallBizLady: Who can utilize affiliate programs to monetize their audiences?

Evan Weber: While affiliate programs are most commonly used by website publishers, bloggers, and other web-based properties to monetize their audiences, other types of entities such as companies, businesses, and apps can utilize affiliate marketing to monetize their audiences, platforms, email lists, and traffic. Companies can also launch a customer referral program, which works very similar to an affiliate program, to allow their customers and even their website traffic, to sign up and start referring their friends or contacts to the business, and be rewarded when their referrals do business with the company (i.e. transact or become a lead).

SmallBizLady: What are joint ventures or reciprocal partnership marketing? 

Evan Weber: This is a form of affiliate or referral marketing whereby two companies, typically with similar size audiences and that are non-competitors, promote each other to their respective audiences and then compensate each other on any business that results. This can be a very effective way for companies to utilize affiliate marketing to grow.

Yvette MitchellYvette Mitchell is the owner and CFO of Mitchell’s Business Solutions, LLC. Yvette has more than 25 years of experience in various aspects of accounting and taxation: public accounting/auditing, corporate accounting, small business/entrepreneurship – accounting & management, real estate accounting, and IRS representation. Prior to starting MBS, Yvette was employed as a Senior Auditor for Deloitte. Yvette also is certified from the IRS as an Enrolled Agent. For more info www.mitchellsbizsolutions.com

SmallBizLady: Can I defer my taxable income? 

Yvette Mitchell: There are a handful of tax deductions that are recognized in the year in which you pay them. For example, if you own a home, get a mortgage interest deduction, and if you make an extra mortgage payment on December 31, you may be able to claim the additional interest paid as a tax deduction in the tax year paid.

SmallBizLady: How can I maximize my retirement savings?

Yvette Mitchell: A great way to reduce your taxable income while building your nest egg is to make a contribution to your retirement savings account. Whether you contribute to a 401(k) or a Traditional IRA, you can reduce your taxable income and also save for the future. If you are self-employed and contribute to a SEP IRA, you can contribute up to 25% of your net self-employment income up to $56,000 for 2019.

SmallBizLady: What other deductions are often overlooked by business owners? 

Yvette Mitchell:Do you support your loved one’s parents? Do you support your parents or even grandparents? How about another loved one? If that happens to be you and they qualify as a non-child dependent, then make sure to take advantage of the new “Other Dependent Credit” worth up to $500, which can reduce the taxes you owe dollar-for-dollar by $500.

SmallBizLady: What are the new rules regarding Flexible Spending Account or FSAs?

Yvette Mitchell:If you have a Flexible Spending Account and have money left, it’s time to get caught up on your doctor’s visits! While the old “use it or lose it” rule may not still apply, you may only be able to carry over $500 worth of unused money left in your 2019 FSA account at the end of the year. Your plan may also limit the amount of time you’re able to use your funds to 2.5 months after the end of the plan year.

SmallBizLady: If you still can itemize your deductions, what are some more ways to lower your tax liability? 

Yvette Mitchell: The holiday season is a great time to clean out your closet and prune any household goods that have gone unused in your home. You can help someone in need and reap the benefits of a tax deduction for non-cash and monetary donations donated to a qualified charitable organization if you can itemize your tax deductions. And if you volunteer at a qualified charitable organization, you can also deduct your mileage (14 cents of every mile) driven for charitable service.

If you found this interview helpful, join us on the third Wednesday of every month 8-9 pm ET; follow @SmallBizChat on Twitter.

Here’s how to participate in #SmallBizChat: http://bit.ly/1hZeIlz 

For more tips on how to start or grow your small business subscribe to Melinda Emerson’s blog http://www.succeedasyourownboss.com

The post December 2019 #SmallBizChat: How to Improve Your Customer Experience in 2020, How to Start an Affiliate Marketing Program, And Tax Planning Moves Before 2020 appeared first on Succeed As Your Own Boss.

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