Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Today's Connected Customer: How to Engage and Ensure a Long-Lasting Relationship - Shep Hyken, NYT Best-Selling Author - Atlanta Small Business Network

Today's Connected Customer: How to Engage and Ensure a Long-Lasting Relationship - Shep Hyken, NYT Best-Selling Author - Atlanta Small Business Network


Today's Connected Customer: How to Engage and Ensure a Long-Lasting Relationship - Shep Hyken, NYT Best-Selling Author - Atlanta Small Business Network

Posted: 01 Oct 2019 03:01 AM PDT

On today's show, we're pleased to welcome back Shep Hyken, customer experience expert and New York Times Best-Selling author of "The Amazement Revolution." Shep is no stranger to the Atlanta Small Business Network and frequently contributes his expert knowledge on all things customer experience. In this segment, Shep and Jim tackle what you need to know about today's connected customer. connected customer

connected customer

We first start out by establishing who the connected customer is. Shep says we can think about this in two ways. One, being the multiple channels that a customer engages with a business, or two, the emotional connection they feel with a brand that inspires loyalty and repeat purchases. He then goes on to discuss changing customer expectations, what the connected customer truly wants from a company, and what they value or find important. Technologies also heavily influence the connected customer experience. They provide ease, convenience, and implement automations to better serve customers in a variety of different ways.

To find out more about Shep and how your businesses can create a more connected customer experience, be sure to watch our entire interview above.


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Best network switches of 2019: 1, 2, 5 and 10GbE hardware for small business and home office - TechRadar

Posted: 30 Sep 2019 03:23 PM PDT

It's tempting to think that there aren't many factors to consider when buying a humble network switch, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Whether you're looking to connect just a few extra devices or go whole hog and set up a complex network, we've rounded up the best network switches of 2019 to save you the bother.

  • Want your company or services to be added to this buyer's guide? Please email your request to desire.athow@futurenet.com with the URL of the buying guide in the subject line. 

(Image credit: Netgear)

1. NETGEAR 8-Port Gigabit Ethernet Unmanaged Switch (GS108)

A tough little 8-port switch for the office

Ports: 8 | Features: Plug-and-play, internet splitter, sturdy metal case, easy monitoring, gigabit ethernet, lifetime warranty

How Small Businesses Can Compete With Big Businesses - Forbes

Posted: 30 Sep 2019 05:00 AM PDT

I almost didn't start.

I was excelling in the payments business in my early 20s. A colleague told me I should start my own company because I knew enough and had the motivation to do so. The problem was, I couldn't stop thinking about how far behind I would be when compared to other major players in the industry that I convinced myself that I would fail if I tried.

However, it was only temporary. I ultimately realized that I would regret not going for it, and that pain would be worse than not succeeding. Now, 17 years later, I've never looked back. I've started three companies within the payments space, and they've all been in the "small" business phase, competing with major national banks and other large firms for clients. I've also been fortunate enough to sit across the table from thousands of small to medium-sized business owners facing similar competition in their own respective industries.

For those who have questioned taking the plunge, like I was, here are some ideas that might make you reconsider.

1. You don't need to have the best products.

If you start to obsess about having a better offering than your competitors, remember this quote by investor Peter Thiel from his book Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future: "Superior sales and distribution by itself can create a monopoly, even with no product differentiation. The converse is not true."

Does your product need to be great, and should your customer service be incredible? Absolutely. That said, there will always be room for a strong competitor in any industry or market.

2. You don't have a boss, board members or investors, so you can control every outcome.

When you're small, you can move quickly. There is less red tape and fewer rules. Many big companies are sprinters, with CEOs making short-term moves to appease investors every 90 days.

You're a marathon runner. You are in it for the long haul, and the only person you need to please is yourself. This gives you total freedom and control of your business at the same time to completely focus on your customers.

3. You can impact customers' and employees' lives in a way a large business may not be able to.

I recently sat down with a successful business owner who has restaurants in Newport Beach, California, and Houston, Texas. When I asked her how she continues to open local concepts that thrive against larger competitors, she told me it all has to do with taking care of customers and employees in a way that can't be replicated.

This restaurateur has built her business one customer at a time and believes that great service is a lost art form. In fact, she and her staff intentionally go above and beyond to provide a VIP experience that makes every guest feel like a rock star.

In addition, the inspiring entrepreneur said that she empowers her employees to create their dreams, which has led to unrivaled bonds with her team and has allowed her businesses to grow faster. She has even encouraged and helped three of her employees to open their own restaurants.

Imagine what would happen to your business if you built these types of relationships with your customers and staff alike.

4. You're able to be scrappy.

In the beginning, you need to make a name for yourself. The more people who know you, the more customers you'll have. You should be willing to work for free, give things away and completely overdeliver on everything. It will pay itself off many times over.

For example, I once had a potentially large client send me an email around 9 p.m. one night with a simple question about how we compared to a competitor they were considering. Knowing I was up against an extremely large organization, I immediately opened my computer, researched his question and even called the competitor for clarification on its product. I wanted to show him how quickly I would handle his requests and the level of thoroughness he could expect from me, so I created a custom, color-coded, side-by-side PowerPoint and had it to him by 10 p.m. that night. I don't think it was a coincidence that I won the business of all eight of their locations the next week. I made very little profit from this sale, but having them as a reference and the referrals they provided over the years created a return on investment too massive to measure.

5. It's easy for you to make changes and innovate.

The larger the organization, the longer it takes for updates and changes to happen. For small businesses that have less staff, fewer decision-makers and fewer processes in place, it is often much easier to innovate than it is for a larger business with a corporate structure.

As a final note, it's important to decide what "compete" means for you. Everyone has a different answer for what it would mean to be successful in competing with a larger competitor. Are you just hoping to make a small income on the side and pick up the accounts here and there? Or, are you looking to completely dominate your competitor? Either way, you are the only one who should determine what a successful outcome looks like — not your parents, siblings, friends, teacher or social media feeds. It's also not what people think of you, or how you want to be seen by others. The most important thing is that you believe in what you are doing and are willing to outwork your competitors.

If I had let my concerns about getting started in the first place overwhelm me, who knows where I would be now. One thing is for certain, though: This article wouldn't even exist.

Stop worrying, and just start.

Staten Eye Land: Small business has had big window displays for more than 40 years - SILive.com

Posted: 30 Sep 2019 02:59 PM PDT

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Staten Eye Land in Great Kills has a vision for its window displays.

The eyewear shop, standing at 20 Nelson Ave., has been changing its exterior window display to reflect the seasons for 43 years. Skeletons, zombies, historical figures, penguins and pieces of modern art all have been used as props in the past.

"We used to do beach scenes with real sand," said owner Stephanie Fruchtman. "We try to do every season, but it's all about who can do the work for you. Window dressing is like a dying breed."

Fruchtman said the first person to create an "over the top" window display for Staten Eye Land was her cousin, who has since passed away. The death is the reason why Fruchtman and the shop take pride in making a head-turning display out front.

This month, the Staten Eye Land display can be described as a modern art-inspired, "out of this world" design. The display includes neon-colored lightning bolts and enlarged mannequin heads splashed with neon color.

"We just want to do what's best for Great Kills," said Fruchtman. "We try our best to stand out, but those who are in the neighborhood know what we do. This is just a fun addition."

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