Patrice K. Minors, the Minister of Economy Trade & Industry, addressing BEDC’s Seminar on Wednesday. *Photo supplied
Patrice K. Minors, the Minister of Economy Trade & Industry, addressing BEDC’s Seminar on Wednesday. *Photo supplied

FRIDAY, JAN. 27: On Wednesday, January 25, over 50 small to medium sized business owners and potential business owners attended the BEDC’s information packed breakfast seminar entitled ‘Managing Existing & New Customers Matters’. 

Participants received professional and practical advice on how to improve customer service and loyalty for their businesses.

Roxanne Christopher, BEDC economic development officer, was the lead organizer of this event and during the opening remarks she encouraged the attendees to “commit to the power of customer service for a period of 30 days and apply the techniques presented within their businesses in order to enjoy a greater potential of success”. 

The Seminar started with a welcome by the Minister of Economy Trade & Industry, Patrice K. Minors, who encouraged participants to use the seminar as an opportunity to sharpen their customer service acumen in order to reap long-term rewards of establishing loyal customers.

The three-hour seminar was divided into two parts, with the first part dedicated to providing attendees with tactical ways to manage customers from senior and experienced professionals, while the second half allowed attendees to interact and hear from small business owners on how they specifically utilize tools and tips to manage their respective customers.

Patrice Frith Hayward, professional development trainer and owner of Business Dynamics, kicked off the presentations discussing the importance of valuing the customer to create a relationship and a value added experience.

She provided five simple tips to great customer service:

Acknowledge your customer,

Respect your customer,

Listen to your customer,

Satisfy your customer and last but not least,

Remember that you need your customer.

The second presenter, Kerry Judd, consultant and owner of New Beginnings Inc., asked the question: “Customers care, why shouldn’t you?” 

In a succinct presentation, Kerry suggested business owners start with their brand.  She challenged if you don’t know who you are then you can’t expect your customers to know either. 

Her presentation provided ways to develop a customer focused brand by first defining it with the help of your team, identifying client expectations by listening and talking to them, clearly stating the experience you want customers to receive, never becoming argumentative with clients and last but not least, learn from your mistakes because they are opportunities for creating a stronger business. 

The third presenter, Paula Clarke, CEO of Gibbons Company, engaged the audience by asking them to work with their table mate to find out about each other’s businesses and write down their customer service goals. 

She identified a presenter at each table and attendees had a chance to network with each other by reporting to the audience what they had learned. 

Through this quick two-minute exercise Paula was able to impart that business can no longer be as usual. 

Paula, also chair of the Retail Division of the Chamber of Commerce, cited that there is new technology on the horizon to allow business owners to establish a personal connection with their customer.  She referenced Twitter, Facebook and QR smart phone codes that are being used by business owners to further solidify their customer relationship.

Wayne Caines, CEO of Digicel, closed the first half of the seminar with a dynamic and energetic presentation by first identifying his “House of India Theory” in which he uses The House of India as an example of a business that succeeds regardless of location.

Wayne said some people have a negative perception about North Hamilton. He recalled that despite all of this, The House of India on any given day is packed with people from all races and backgrounds.

He used this theory when helping to decide whether to locate a Digicel branch on Court Street. To further illustrate his point, Wayne asked: “Why Marry Me?” and provided these answers. Know yours and their business; be creative with how you do business; and lastly, he joked: “be nice you lot”, stating that the customer is your bread and butter and you have to let them know this by being friendly, personable and willing to help to resolve any issues they might have.

Following a brief break, the second half was led with a presentation from Stacey Hill, owner of Secrets.  Stacey shared her secrets to keeping and getting new customers.

Some of her strategies included utilizing cross promotions with other stores and organisations.

She stressed that it was important to use resources that are available like e-mail and Facebook which have a low cost but high effectiveness. She concluded her presentation encouraging attendees to be creative and make it a priority to differentiate their services.

Mickey Robinson, owner of Medical House, shared his wisdom about how he manages his customers stating: “A problem well defined is a problem half solved”. 

He went on to state that you have to listen to the customer, be knowledgeable about your products and ask the right questions in order to be able to satisfy the customer’s need. 

He concluded stating that business owners should keep in mind that people want to feel appreciated therefore it is important to be flexible with customers in order to work towards a win-win situation.

The final presenter for the day, Maya Furbert, owner of Fatimaya – vintage clothing and personal shopping, was the youngest of the presenters but showed as much understanding of her customer as any of the other senior business owners. 

Maya shared that her customer was in the younger demographic and thus she has to be creative with how she contacts them.

She utilizes Facebook, Twitter and e-mail to keep contact with her customers and build a personal relationship.

As an example of the need to continuously change and evolve, Maya mentioned that she has recently added fashion styling services via BB to her list of added value services.

Maya expressed her passion for her customers and indicated that it is imperative that you know your customer and keep track of the customer’s likes and wants so that you create opportunities to provide personalized services which customers appreciate.

One attendee remarked that they “benefitted the most from the tips on marketing,  keeping employees motivated, and getting their customers to feel more appreciated”,  while another stated that they “would immediately make sure that their employees represent them and their brand”.

For more information on this seminar and our upcoming seminars, please contact BEDC at info@bsbdc.bm or visit the BEDC website at www.BEDC.bm.  Bermuda Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) is Bermuda’s premier source of free confidential small business advice for entrepreneurs.  The mission is to serve Bermuda’s business community with the highest degree of professionalism by providing, authoritative business advice; counsel and loan guarantee support.