And in it we look at how technology is changing the face of business and allowing professionals to choose where they work – at home, from a pop up shop, anywhere in the world (using a laptop, iPad or tablet), or at a c’office.

Just like that old Martini ad, work is where ever you want it to be – anytime, any place, anywhere.

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Have you ever had a great customer experience and couldn’t stop telling your friends or co-workers? Maybe it was the gourmet pizza you ordered Friday night after work, or when you noticed your neglected car had been given a little extra TLC for free during a service (true story – much needed windshield clean and polished tyres).

Well you are not alone as 80% of us Kiwis on average tell another 9 people about those experiences. (‘Feedback – an opportunity, not a threat’ by Debbie Mayo-Smith).

Earlier this month our new service Localist launched their television campaign for Auckland – my personal favourite being the ‘Localist Butcher Ad’ (make sure you check out Localist’s YouTube channel if you haven’t seen them already). The adverts highlight the power of creating an opportunity for your customers to rave about you online, especially to those who live on your doorstep!

The service is a combination of local books available at your local PostShop, a website, and a mobile application. Website and mobile users are able to write reviews on local products and services, and swap tips and advice with others. It’s all about sharing local knowledge and information.

Localist has launched in Auckland first, and there is no cost to register your business contact details. You can list your business for free online, upgrade to a business page, or call 0800 030 030 to discuss other advertising options such as the local books.
When we think of advertising we often conjure up images of a slick television commercial or a glossy magazine ad, however a focus on keeping your customers happy could be the best money you will ever spend.

Recently I was reading the findings of a survey 'Consumers Trust Real Friends and Virtual Strangers the Most' completed by research giant Nielson. They concluded that consumers trust the recommendations of friends or opinions posted online before traditional forms of advertising.

This trend will only increase as social networking online grows more a part of our lives (I must admit the other day I found myself checking Twitter to see what others were saying about a product I was interested in).

So what can we do about it? Fuel the conversation by giving them something to talk about! Some ideas could include:
  • Concentrate on meeting your customers’ needs – It is important as a business to understand what your customers expect from your product or service. One way to stay a head of the competition is to look for opportunities to surpass these expectations.
  • Send a personal thank you card - We recently covered in a previous post the power of a thank you card, as they can help to build long-lasting customer relationships beyond just a transaction.
  • Acknowledge and reward your referrers – Make a point of acknowledging any referrers, especially online. A start would be running an online search on any mentions of your products or services, and responding with a comment if there is the opportunity. You could consider rewarding referrers with an exclusive discount or gift.

Take 5 minutes today to think about how you could ‘fuel the conversation’ – don’t forget to pass on any ideas or experiences of your own in a comment below.

They say necessity is the mother of invention and I’ve recently come across a couple of stories of businesses in Christchurch which would support this view.

I was delighted when Wendy Hooper of assess4success contacted us here at redline with the story of how she has had to change her business focus.

Here is what Wendy said:

“For the past 8 years my business has predominantly been NZQA Unit Standard Assessment for Team Leaders in the customer service industry. After the February earthquake the needs of my clients has changed dramatically -their focus has moved to core business operations and staff welfare and so, I realised, I needed to change too.

Christchurch people and businesses are totally focused on getting back on their feet – financially and emotionally - but for most of us the rules have changed. Some of us have lost loved ones, our homes, our jobs, our places to work, money, our routines – not to mention what we have seen, heard and felt.

I thought long and hard about what my clients need right now and asked them what they wanted and needed. The findings were clear, the Team Leaders need more support at the moment to manage all the organisational changes and meet the emotional needs of each team member.

I hatched a plan - I designed a one-on-one coaching process for Team Leaders – one that integrates into any organisation’s business plan and yet is flexible and personalised enough to meet the varied needs of each Team Leader and has specific outcomes and results so everyone sees a tangible development of skills.

Using a coach from outside of the organisation means the information is fresh and objective and the coaching sessions actually happen – they don't get put aside for other pressing work commitments.

Results so far are fantastic. The Team Leaders are feeling supported and have a really clear and practical focus which is rubbing off on their team members – giving their work environment that positive, go-ahead feel.

YAY! Push back Christchurch – we will have to make changes but we can stand tall and move forward.”

You can read more about Wendy and what she does on her website – including her new Trauma Resilience workshops for team leaders.

And I also have to applaud Ballentyne’s in Christchurch – offering their customers shopping trips to Timaru whilst their flagship store is being rebuilt. They obviously have a great understanding of their customers and the need for retail therapy even in difficult times – you can read more about their story 'All aboard for the Big B'.

It’s really inspiring to see these stories coming through – our thoughts remain with everyone in Christchurch as you all continue to work through this very difficult time.