Iliyana's Blog

The 7 Essential Questions for Better Business Communication

[fa icon="calendar'] 06-Jun-2017 09:00:00 / by Iliyana Stareva posted in Personal Development, Brands and Business, Leadership

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I recently finished listening to The Coaching Habit: Say Yes, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier. (It's funny to say "listening" instead of "reading" but hey, in our busy lives we optimise everything and so when I walk to work, I often listen to books. Thanks, Audible!) 

The book was written for managers to help them be better leaders, communicate more effectively with team members, provide better support and coaching and so have more impact. Achieving this comes down to seven key questions that the author identifies as the essence of leading. 

I believe, though, that these seven questions can be an effective technique in any business relationship that requires communication. 

When speaking to customers (especially over the phone or Zoom or skype), these seven questions can help you get to the bottom of what the problem really is and how you can help. The same applies to consulting. I've always said that the best form of consulting is question-asking.

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The 3 Pillars of Customer Delight for Agencies (And Not Only)

[fa icon="calendar'] 14-Mar-2017 08:30:00 / by Iliyana Stareva posted in Brands and Business, Agencies

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Did you know that it's five to 25 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one? 

On top of that, improving customer retention rates by 5% can increase profits by 25% to 95%. 

If you ask me, these are numbers that I certainly wouldn't ignore. 

Unfortunately, far too many companies focus almost exclusively on net new sales and customer service remains just there as a given. 

I see this with my agency partners at HubSpot all the time. 

Of course, money in is important. You need that to keep the business running but if you want to scale an agency, sales and services need to be on the same level. Keeping your customers happy is priority number one too because that's how you ensure you have a sustainable revenue flow coming in all the time. You renew your agency-client retainers year after year because you continue to provide value.

So how do you do keep your customer happy?  

With a simple framework that I call the three pillars of customer delight. 

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How Customer Experiences Can Make or Break Your Brand

[fa icon="calendar'] 06-Dec-2016 07:00:00 / by Iliyana Stareva posted in Brands and Business

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Today I'm going to tell you a story about customer experience and how customer experience can make or break your brand. 

Last week on Wednesday, I was getting excited to fly over to Frankfurt to speak at a HubSpot User Group event organised by one of my partner agencies. I was supposed to present about Inbound PR so of course I couldn't wait!

I woke up early in the morning to start packing for this quick trip and catch my flight at 12.30pm. 

I make myself a cup of coffee, turn on the laptop to check my emails quickly and as I always proactively do, I went to Dublin Airport's website to see whether my flight would have any delays just so that I am aware of changes, if at all any. 

I saw something else, though. 

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The Worst Shopping & Customer Service Experience EVER: Littlewoods Ireland

[fa icon="calendar'] 25-Jul-2016 09:00:00 / by Iliyana Stareva posted in Brands and Business

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I am going to tell you a story today. A story about the absolute worst shopping and customer service experience EVER with Littlewoods Ireland (I feel terrible about giving them an inbound link now but I need you to see it and never ever shop there!)

So two Saturdays ago (17 July) I am running around Dublin to find a fascinator. Yep, a fascinator, because I am going to the Galway races this Friday. I am very specific with what I need as to colours, size etc. Unfortunately, I cannot find anything in the shops in town so what do I do? Well, I go shopping online! And I find Littlewoords Ireland. They actually do have something that fits what I need! So I order it. I go through an incredibly long process of creating an account. Regardless, I'm content because I've found a fascinator to fit with my outfit! 

Turns out I am never going to get that fascinator.

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Agencies, The End of the RFP Has Come. Are You Still Using Them?

[fa icon="calendar'] 13-Jun-2016 09:00:00 / by Iliyana Stareva posted in Brands and Business, Agencies

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If you work in an agency, I'm sure you've seen people prepare for new business pitches or you've even either been part of one or run one yourself. Maybe even multiple ones. 

That's often the result of an RFP or a Request For Proposal that companies and their marketing people put through when in search of a new agency. 

You'll see a lot of arguments online about this traditional approach to choosing a new agency that has been going on for over 50-60 years and still seems to be the norm although it's hugely outdated. Some argue that this process is a complete waste of time as it's " too slow for a marketing world that functions at the speed of light".

My favourite detractor of RFPs is Blair Enns and all agency best practices he preaches in his book Win Without Pitching. Alone the name of the book explains the need to move away from RFPs and that it is indeed possible to do so. 

But it's one thing for the agency to change its model of how it wins new business, it's another on the client side. Because it's the clients requesting those RFPs and it's the agencies and other marketing professionals who need to re-educate and teach those clients how much more economic and efficient it could be to develop a better way of finding a new agency than with RFPs. 

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