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First contact: what entrepreneurs can learn from a visit to an Emergency Room

Without meaning to, the team at Anthill has been testing the Victoria hospital system over the past month. Between us, we have clocked up four visits to the emergency rooms of various Melbourne hospitals, in the past few weeks. And, as good entrepreneurial types, now that these moments have passed, we’re stepping back and thinking about what we saw and experienced.

How retail has changed and the importance of customer service; an interview with Phil...

Phil Staub is the Executive Chairman of General Pants, one of Australia's largest fashion brands. As a successful entrepreneur, he explains why good customer service controls the retail game.

Branding, customer service and how to handle challenges in business; an interview with...

Emanuel Perdis is the dynamic Managing Director and co-founder of Napoleon Perdis Cosmetics. He has overseen and implemented double-digit business growth for the brand, every year, for the past fourteen years, turning over $80 million a year, employing a team of almost 500 staff. In this Q&A Interview with Alex Pirouz, Perdis shares what it takes to create a global brand, why customer service has been a crucial part of the organisation's success and the best way to handle challenges in business.

Does Australia’s attitude to customer service stink?

While Australians have come to expect a casual approach to service, visitors aren’t so forgiving. “Having recently been in the USA, the standard of customer service there is great, staff actually want to help you,” says Australian marketing manager Jessica Hannant. “Here the sales assistant doesn't get off the phone to her friend to even serve you at the checkout.” Are things here getting worse?

Finally, a big corporate has learnt how to exploit Twitter [Twelpforce]

This is not a story about Twitter being used to influence an election or kick-start a sit-com. This is a story about using Twitter commercially. Retail giant Best Buy has moved social media intelligence and online engagement toward the core of its marketing strategy. But one of its latest moves pushes that philosophy even further. It's called Twelpforce, and it appears to be a bold and brilliant move.

What creates word of mouth? A case study in coffee talk.

What makes for a good strategy to get people chatting and raving about your brand and passing the word on to others? We posed this question to Soup, a marketing agency that works with influential people to spread the word about products and brands. Tracey Coleman, Soup's conversations director, shared this story of a successful cafe in Sydney and what it revealed about word-of-mouth marketing.

Franchisors should do more to accommodate investors from overseas, study recommends

Australian franchises and small businesses are increasingly favoured by overseas investors, especially from China, according to a recent report. The study also highlighted the benefits of pursuing Gen Y franchisees.

Small banks and newcomers top People’s Choice banking poll

In the first annual People's Choice awards for Australia's Best Bank, 23,000 banking customers cast their votes online for their most preferred financial institution. The voting was conducted by Mozo, an online finance comparison and reviews service.

Grin and win: Friendly service is small business' secret weapon against big competitors

Friendly service is the secret weapon for local businesses looking to attract customers away from large retailers and firms, according to a new survey by American Express.

Grin and win: Friendly service is small business’ secret weapon against big competitors

Friendly service is the secret weapon for local businesses looking to attract customers away from large retailers and firms, according to a new survey by American Express.

Loyalty schemes: How to leverage the power in your customer networks

Loyalty schemes on the most part are old-fashioned, generic and with little incentive for the consumer. Chintan Bharwada outlines how a business can rejuvenate how they reward consumers in a way that retains consumer interest.

The Power of Design: Part 2 — The 10 Commandments of Product Design

Developing a successful product requires a firm grasp of several issues, followed by careful planning and implementation. In this second article in his four-part series, Sergei Plishka shares his '10 Commandments of Product Design'.

The Power of Design: Part 1 — Keep your customers smartly packaged

Strong design is an essential part of new product development. In the first of this four-part series, Sergei Plishka explains how good design aligns with the needs and expectations of your customer -- at every stage of the customer experience.

Dell's Richard Binhammer: Twitter for big business [VIDEO]

Yesterday, in Sydney, I was fortunate enough to spend some time with Dell's Richard Binhammer. According to the company bio, he's "a core member of Dell’s Social Media Advisory Council and responsible for designing and implementing digital media and blog outreach, with a special emphasis on communities and corporate reputation." What does this mean? He's the guy largely responsible for Dell's pioneering moves in social media over the past four years.

Dell’s Richard Binhammer: Twitter for big business [VIDEO]

Yesterday, in Sydney, I was fortunate enough to spend some time with Dell's Richard Binhammer. According to the company bio, he's "a core member of Dell’s Social Media Advisory Council and responsible for designing and implementing digital media and blog outreach, with a special emphasis on communities and corporate reputation." What does this mean? He's the guy largely responsible for Dell's pioneering moves in social media over the past four years.

How to trump cunning linguistics and seize competitive advantage

The Commonwealth Bank is currently running an advertisement that irks me. Beyond all the arty-farty advertiser speak and debate over the campaign’s merits in the industry media, it contains a terminology flaw that sticks out like dogs balls. When the kid says, “Can’t we just promise to fix it?” my hackles go up.

Man invoices consumer brands for wasting his time. So far, four have paid.

Take Paul McCruddon, a London-based blogger and digital strategist at Imagination Digital who grew weary of brands believing that his time was less valuable than their own and decided to take matters into his own hands.

Another small business social media FAIL. Do you agree?

Our bloggers have been critical of its longevity (Can social media sell anything but itself) and equally dazzled by its potential (How I used social media to put my CEO on the street). Of course, the following example (first published as a 'Discussion' on the Social Media Academy LinkedIn Group) had me from the get-go. Its author is Paul Rickett, Founder and Principal at VARKETING!.

Wasted Opportunity With ‘Don’t Reply’

Take every chance to hear from your customers. Don't waste a single one. If they bother to hit reply and type something out, you should read it. If you're product or service doesn't have the margin to allow for listening to your customers when they want to talk to you, then you're in trouble.

Wasted Opportunity With 'Don't Reply'

Take every chance to hear from your customers. Don't waste a single one. If they bother to hit reply and type something out, you should read it. If you're product or service doesn't have the margin to allow for listening to your customers when they want to talk to you, then you're in trouble.

FREE BUSINESS TOOLS

How to price your product or service in 8 steps with...

The world is littered with products that do little more than cover their cost, and underpaid service industry professionals. But there are some entrepreneurs who set their own prices and receive what they ask with apparent ease. Steve Major teaches you how to become one of these entrepreneurs in this 8-step infographic.

FREE BUSINESS TOOL

HOW TO RECRUIT THE BEST PEOPLE with Sam Chandler

Plenty of recruitment agencies have tallied the numbers and found that the average dud hire will cost an organisation between $50,000 and $70,000, factoring...

INFOGRAPHICS

New Zealand’s Xero eyes US IPO, further disruption as subscribers increase...

Xero recently held its annual meeting in Wellington, during which the company revealed some interesting details about its future. As has been widely suspected, the...

OPINIONS & ADVICE