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Investment Tips

Simple ways to prioritize customer service for your small business

In order to capitalize, small businesses and startups looking to grow must build a culture that cares about the customer.

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Entrepreneur, Multiple businesses, Nigeria partners UAE to boost SMEs , US technology company deploys software to ease business process in Nigeria, Experts outline what SMEs must do to attract funding, investors in 2020 , Simple ways to prioritize customer service for your small business, What was SMEs must do to survive the coronavirus outbreak , What was SMEs must do to survive the coronavirus outbreak, FG rolls out N2.3 trillion survival funds for MSMEs; see criteria 

The question is simple: “Are you taking time to make sure the customer is at the heart of your brand experience?’’

Customer experience has to be a part of your company’s DNA. Great customer experiences are what set companies apart in crowded marketplaces because they create passionate and vocal customers. This competitive advantage is hard for another business to break down because they have to battle that existing business-to-customer relationship first.

Whether via service interactions, product quality, or overall brand, experience has become the deciding factor that determines whether or not a customer will do business with a company. In order to capitalize, small businesses and startups looking to grow must build a culture that cares about the customer. And to really succeed, there can be no fake-it-till-you-make-it.

Here’s why your business needs a solid value proposition (PART 1), Simple ways to prioritize customer service for your small business

Here are a few ways small businesses can realize tremendous success by putting customer success at the heart of their companies.

Care about your employees

If you want to build your brand through satisfied customers, you need to start by ensuring satisfied employees. When employees are happy and actualized, it compounds their desire to help others. Besides, a “culture of caring” has no limits: You cannot legitimately care about customers if you don’t care about the people serving them.

(READ MORE: Millennials changing the definition of work; doing the most with freelancing)

Develop a rapport with all of your customers

When you’re running a small business, it’s easy for your team to get to know its customers. Your customer demand is small and support agents can spend plenty of time diving into service inquiries. As you scale, however, that extra time will shorten. When your customer base grows, your agents will need to focus on efficiency as much as they focus on customer satisfaction.

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Before this happens, be sure to take advantage of early opportunities to bond with customers. Your first users are probably your biggest fans and they’ll likely become customer advocates if you build a rapport with them.

Hire employees who are great communicators

Small businesses tend to have small service teams of about three to five people. And, in many cases, customer service isn’t the rep’s only job. For many small businesses, employees find themselves wearing different hats and performing a variety of tasks, including service and support. This structure can work, but it depends heavily on your employees’ skills.

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You need to be sure you’re hiring people who are stellar communicators and great at working with people. They need to be able to understand customer needs and flexible enough to adapt to sudden change. Good customer service is an effective way to grow a customer base, but you need excellent support reps for it to work.

Focus on customer retention strategies

If you’ve just started running a small business, you may want to write this stat down. It can cost up to 25x more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. This means improving customer retention is your key to increasing profits. You can develop a customer retention strategy that delights customers and encourages them to return to your business.

One commonly used method is a customer loyalty program that rewards people every time they buy from you. This incentivizes them to return to your business and avoid your competitors.

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Define customer service vs. customer success

While these two things are related, they’re definitely not the same. Customer service is a support functionality, designed to answer questions and help customers through specific issues. Customer success, on the other hand, is a proactive movement designed to solve overarching challenges and build long-term success. Customer Success might seem like a nice-to-have for small businesses, but both functions are vital to a customer’s hierarchy of needs.

Let customer service shape your sales and marketing efforts

No small business can afford to take customer relationships for granted, and the best way to avoid that is to build them right into your sales and marketing strategies. Consistently excellent customer service gives you a unique selling proposition, repeat business, and most importantly, trust.  You have a 60-70% chance of getting business from your existing customers compared to only a 5-20% chance of selling to new prospects. Customers have no idea how many channels a brand offers, and really don’t care. They just want to communicate on the one that’s most convenient for them.

Take advantage of social media for customer service 

Social media is one of the rising stars of customer service mediums. Customers love using it for support because they can instantly report problems and automatically receive notifications on updates. Additionally, popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter offer in-app customer service tools, including live chat and AI. These automation features streamline the support process and improve the customer experience.

Should you run multiple businesses as an entrepreneur? Part 2, Godwin Obaseki,, Simple ways to prioritize customer service for your small business

(READ ALSO: Financial decisions you must take now)

Collect customer feedback after each interaction 

Customer feedback is incredibly valuable when a service team is first starting out. Negative feedback shows what customers are trying to do and the roadblock that’s preventing them from reaching their goals. Positive feedback reveals your customers’ values and the aspects of your business they admire most. Analyzing this feedback can help you make important business decisions that extend beyond customer service. Marketing teams use this information to create effective campaigns that attract your target audience’s attention. Sales teams will identify timely opportunities to upsell and cross-sell, optimizing your odds for a repeat purchase. And, finally, product development can use this data to fine-tune products and address common customer roadblocks.

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Always be asking

Customer engagement is an uphill battle. So when a customer comes to you for help, that’s an opportunity—they’re already listening, so now’s your chance to talk to them. At that moment, you have more of your customers’ attention. You can use that opportunity to not only provide great customer service or support experience but to make progress on other goals.

In summary, customer service is a team-wide effort. Don’t view it as a chore—view it as an opportunity to learn more about your own product.

 

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Exclusives

In a hyperinflation economy like Nigeria’s, these are the best investments to consider immediately

A deeper review of investments to consider amid the prevailing high inflation in Nigeria.

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Where to buy Real Estate in Lagos in 2021, Nigeria's Real Estate Sector recorded positive growth after three year low, Real estate: Declining credit reflects underlying weakness 

Let’s face it, Nigeria’s rising inflation plus lower options for high yielding investments are already driving a significant number of investors away from Africa’s leading frontier market. This is coming at a time when Nigeria’s top performing investment asset class for 2020 is currently having a year-to-date return of around -3.30%.

Recent data published by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reveals Nigerian inflation rate surged to a 33-month high, as it rose further to 16.47% in January 2021 from 15.75% in December 2020. This is marks 17th consecutive month of rising inflation in the country.

Consequently, Nairametrics interviewed selected financial experts on the investment options best suitable for such macro.

That being said, it’s important to note that there are no guarantees when it comes to investing during high inflation. At best, such investments may be inflation-safe, but returns can never be guaranteed.

READ: The Nigerian economy is increasingly dollarized but there is a way-out

Debo Adejana, MD/CEO, Realty Point Limited, Chairman, REDAN South West Zone.

At 16.5% inflation rate as of January 2021, the obvious is that there are very little short-term investments that can outperform that especially in the short term. So, that being said, my traditional conservative disposition of the fact that the best investment term is the long-term.

To make returns that will consistently be higher than 16.5% in short term investments will require very good knowledge of the asset class and share dedication.

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If that is clear, then by my own understanding, the following are some of the possible investment areas or strategies to adopt with real estate being my most preferred asset class anytime:

  1. Financial player in a JV Property Development Scheme. This helps to save time and gives faster turnover of investment fund.
  2. Buying distressed property now, renovate, rent-out for 2years of more just to hold if necessary and sell after.
  3. Crowd owning/funding property deals
  4. Guaranteed rent discounting
  5. International property investment for positive cash flow and to enjoy foreign exchange appreciation

All the above can be done as a large ticket investor or little fractional holder using a well-structured and regulated vehicle.

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READ: Real estate sector GDP positive in Q4 2020, but still in the woods

Darlington-Morsi Onyemaka, Co-founder, Quba Exchange

Inflation means that prices for things are rising, and as such the same amount of money buys less over a certain period of time. This in itself is especially not good for cash savings as the best way to manage inflation is by investing in instruments that give you a return higher than the current rate of inflation or at least one that keeps up with it.

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The best kinds of assets to invest in during inflation are tangible assets that have fundamental values and as such, their worth measures up together with inflation. These assets include real estate, growth stocks, and commodities like food, crude oil, and gold (especially gold).

On the flip side, one should avoid long-term fixed-income investments. This is because the value of the underlying security falls as investors tend to focus on higher-yielding alternatives when the interest rates of that instrument start rising.

READ: FG says Finance Bill 2020 will check inflation

Thelma Ugonna Ohiri-Anyanwu, CFA

Inflation is the increase in prices of goods over a period of time, where a specific amount of currency will be able to buy less than before.

In as much as inflation erodes the value of funds, this should not deter one from investing as some investment’s types are great hedge against inflation and helps to preserve capital. Some of such investments are Gold, REITs, real estate, commodities and a well-balanced stock portfolio.

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Silas OZOYA, Founder/CEO SUBA Capital

Inflation in many ways affect the general health of a countries economy and her citizens literally and the only way out of inflation is continuous and increased investments in local production, expansion of existing local businesses and enacting fiscal policies that would strengthen the currency of such country.

To mitigate this, increased and persistent investment from all angles in Agriculture, local processing, and increased export would do a positive dent on our inflation rate and keep us far away from recession through job creation, wealth growth, food, and cash crop production at scale.

Nigerian’s home and abroad should consider investments that support economic growth through investments in Agriculture and agro-allied ventures.

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Agriculture from my experience is one of the very few sectors that puts food on the table, employs people, and grows the value of your money against inflation all in one value chain.

The general public, high net worth individuals, and Nigerians abroad should consider holding at least 20% of their asset portfolio in Agriculture and agro-allied investments.

Angela Aya, Head, Institutional Sales at Alonati

There are a lot of investment opportunities for both the wealthy and not so rich investors in Nigeria, investors desiring to get an income or return on investment. Some are the FGN Savings Bonds, Stocks, Real Estate, Gold, Cryptocurrency, Agriculture etc. However, below are some investments that offer inflation protection:

Real Estate

Investment in real estate has been profitable and remains lucrative especially in Nigerian urban cities.

This investment however requires medium to high capital. Nigeria is still a developing Country in the world and the need for housing to match the Country’s increasing population size remains critical, as urban-rural migration continues to increase due to the neglect of development of the rural areas by the States and Federal Government.

The value of land and property has continued to rise and will continue to appreciate due to the margin between demand and supply as the need for residential and commercial buildings in major cities remains high.

Gold

Investing in gold has remained an agelong golden income space. The value of gold has continued to appreciate over the years because of the importance attached to it all around the world.

Gold remains an important symbol of wealth and affluence, and can be purchased as bars, coins or jewelries and resold at a higher price over time.

Bottom line

A disciplined investor can hedge against inflation risks by investing in the following asset classes that often outperform during high inflationary climates.

  • Debo Adejina – Real Estate,
  • Darlington-Morsi Onyemaka – real estate, growth stocks, and commodities like food, crude oil, and gold (especially gold).
  • Thelma Ugonna Ohiri-Anyanwu, CFA – Gold, REITs, real estate, commodities and a well-balanced stock portfolio.
  • Silas OZOYA – Agriculture and agro-allied ventures.
  • Angela Aya – Real Estate & Gold.

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Investment Tips

Retail franchise investment next gold mine for Nigerian investors- CIG

Retail franchise investment curbs unemployment  and create buffer for people looking for side hustle

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The Choice International Group (CIG) has tasked both unemployed and employed Nigerians to embrace retail franchise investment, as the initiative would curb unemployment in the nation  and create buffer for people looking for side hustle.

In line with a recent FBDS Study, there are over 450,000 Nigerian career professionals with minimum investible funds of N1 million, looking out for investment opportunities.

In the majority, these funds are looking for franchise type opportunities for ease of venturing and minimal failure risk.

As far as CIG chairperson, Diana Chen, is concerned, such investor should look no further but consider the group’s retail franchise investment opportunity, which offers Nigerian community mouth-watering offer of owning Gree & Lontor retail stores.

According to him, Gree is the world’s residential air-conditioner manufacturer, while Lontor provides high-quality, energy-saving and convenient rechargeable home appliances and lighting products for global consumers.

He said, “Both brands have been built by the CIG into a world-class electronic retail chain in Nigeria opening no less than 20 brand shops in Lagos and Oyo over the last 18 months.

“The sales performance of its existing stores in the country makes Gree & Lontor one of the most profitable businesses in Nigeria with yields of an average return on investment of 50% and above per annum.

“CIG is offering investors the opportunity to own any of six regional logistics centres, or any number of Gree & Lontor brand shops in viable locations across Nigeria.

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“It is the decision of the company to open up these opportunities to the investing public through a Franchise Retail partnership.”

 

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He added that the company has mapped out two investment models it says are simple, transparent, and hassle-free.

“The first model involves only six regional logistics centres located across the geopolitical zones in Nigeria.

“Whoever invests in this will require a capital outlay of $1 million, and become a mega distributor partner of the Gree & Lontor brand, and service a network of brand shops.

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“The second investment model involves the Gree & Lontor brand shops – retail franchise stores that require an initial capital outlay of N20 million.

“The investor will secure a store size of 120-150sqm at any choice location, shopping mall, plazas, high streets and even residential neighbourhoods.”

What they are saying

Nigeria is a growth market for franchising and franchise development services.

Gbenga Ajayi, an Entrepreneurship analyst, said, “The retail industry comes second to the food industry among sectors with best franchising opportunities.

“As with other emerging markets, one of the challenges of franchising in Nigeria remains the strengthening of intellectual-property regimes so that franchise companies can transmit knowledge and franchise system concepts with the confidence that such know-how will be protected.

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