Today we’re welcoming customer service consultant Anja Schuetz to the blog.
Anja helps companies of all sizes serve their customers better. She also coaches 30-something women and created The Open Hand Café, a social-business network in The Hague, Netherlands.
Throughout February she’s sharing 28 Days of Service (tips to help you be of service, like “Endorse someone on LinkedIn”) on her Facebook page.
Here’s Anja …
Tell us about your business. What do you do and who do you love to serve?
I help entrepreneurs grow their business by connecting with their customers through “remarkable service.” Our most credible (and most inexpensive) marketing force is our existing customers. More and more businesses are begin to realize that.
My expertise is customer service management from A to Z, always focusing on, “How can we make your customers feel ‘seen’ and appreciated?” How can we have systems and efficiency in place but at the same time connect with your customers as human beings, and make things easy and pleasant for them?
I advise and teach, but also “do” customer service and community management for some clients, by becoming the first point of contact for their customers – short term or long term.
In the evenings I coach 30-something women and help them “grow out of the Thirties-Crisis” and connect with other like-minded women. I also run a social-business network in The Hague – The Open Hand Café – which connects service minded entrepreneurs with each other as well as with potential clients.
I love working with inspired people who are “up to something.” All my clients have one thing in common: they want to grow and they want to connect in a meaningful way.
What does being of service mean to you in business and in life?
To me, it means to make a difference to someone, by giving that little bit extra. Specifically, it means to make the other person feel seen, and to show them that they matter. This goes a long way in life, but if we master this in business, it actually increases our bottom line!
Tell us more about the Open Hand Café, what is it and why did you decide to create it?
The Open Hand Café is a small network, which aims to be a “home” and support system for entrepreneurs, as well as a “pool” of quality service providers.
Many people (mostly introverts) have a fear of networking. I wanted to provide them a pleasant way to connect and grow their business or careers. At the same time I wanted to create a resource of reliable, quality service providers for people, who are looking for recommendations.
I want the name “Open Hand Café” to be a quality seal for great service, so I built it on the Open Hand principle: “When your hand is open to give, it is also open to receive.” That means we focus on giving and connecting unconditionally, rather than on selling and getting.
At our events, everyone gives free advice and actively connects people with helpful contacts. People find jobs and clients through the OHC, because we invest in really getting to know each other and treat each other as equals.
We have a “no suits” policy to remove barriers and emphasize that we are a “people network” first and foremost.
When you take the pressure of “impressing others” out of networking, it becomes fun and beneficial for everyone.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions small businesses have about being of service to their clients and customers?
“This is business!” is the biggest misconception I see. Business is personal. Business is a relationship!
A business relationship works exactly like any other relationship: It starts with flirting and getting the other person to like us (marketing). The trick is to not stop flirting once they’ve “accepted our proposal.” Neither in marriage nor in business is “signing the agreement” the end of it. This is when the “service” and the “work on the relationship” begins. If we fail to keep the other party happy, our customer or partner will leave us, saying, “Oh, you just wanted my money!”
Every human being’s most basic (spiritual) need is “to be seen.” Why do people get divorced? Because they don’t feel seen or appreciated anymore. Why do customers terminate contracts and leave service providers? Because they feel taken for granted, ignored, not valued, not respected, etc.
Let’s stay in love with our customers! We wouldn’t have a business without them. Let’s treat them so well that they’ll never want to leave us!
Give me some examples of little ways that small businesses can be of service everyday.
Remember your (ex-)customers’ birthdays! Few businesses do that; what a missed opportunity! Whether you send just a personal note or attach a little gift – i.e. an ebook – they’ll love you and you’ll be on their mind again!
Do the same with your anniversaries! When did a subscriber first join your list? How about a personal message that says, “You’ve been on my list for exactly a year now. I just wanted to say Thank You for your loyalty! If you’re facing a challenge with x, I’d be happy to answer any questions/hop on the phone with you/etc…”
Save your customers time! Time is our most precious commodity these days; it is more important than money. A chauffeur I know, drives an executive who always made him stop at Starbucks along the way. Now, he has her favorite drink ready when he picks her up, which saves her 10-15min total time, plus the trouble of waiting in line. What “Done For You” resources can you create for your customers?
Once week or month, ask yourself, “How can I connect with a few customers today in a way that will make them go, “Aw! I can’t believe you remembered!!”
Finish this sentence. I believe…
Service is the new marketing.
What did 7 year old Anja say she wanted to be when she grew up?
I wanted to be a flight attendant. I wanted to travel, see the world, and meet interesting people. In hindsight, I realize that I wanted to serve people who are going places, which is exactly what I do today!
How has running your own business empowered you?
Running a business is a never-ending self-development course. My horizon broadens every single day. I would not have believed that I would one day work “virtually” and serve customers on other continents, as well as from very diverse industries (restaurants, health practitioners, coaches and psychics). I cannot express how grateful I am for the people and clients I’ve met and how much I have grown in the process. Thank you for letting me share this here, Christie!
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Anja Schuetz is a Customer Service Consultant and Personal Coach for 30-something Women. She is German and lives in The Netherlands, where she runs The Open Hand Café in The Hague, a small social-business network that connects service driven entrepreneurs.
You can follow Anja on Facebook, where she regularly shares tips on being of service in life and in business (check out the “28 Days of Service” in February) and you can download her free “New Year Kickstart Kit” to find inspired ways to grow and make a difference in the next 365 days.
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