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Small Business, Government Contracting & Customer Service

Contracting Opportunities: ChallengeHer

ARMA Inc.
Friday, April 18, 2014

SBA is continuing its partnership with Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) and American Express Open on the ChallengeHer initiative that was launched last spring, to help more women-owned businesses get a bigger piece of the federal contracting pie and benefit from SBA’s Woman-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program.

Upcoming evens are being held in Seattle, Boise, New York, Milwaukee and Chicago.  Head over to GovCon to read more about the program and learn how to register.

#Smallbiz Award Spotlight: 2014 Mentor Awards!

ARMA Inc.
Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Courtesy of GovCon, this event announcement:

 The Government Technology & Services Coalition (GTSC) and Government Contracting Weekly have partnered to recognize exceptional mentors in the government contracting community.  The awards program recognizes and salutes government contractors for their leadership and concrete actions in assisting small government contracting firms through mentoring, training, inspiration, teaming and cooperation.  By honoring these companies we recognize that mentoring is critical to the contracting community.

Event Details

When: Thursday, June 12, 2014 from 5:30 to 8:30 PM.

Where: CENTRA Technology, 4121 Wilson Blvd, suite 203, Arlington, VA

REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN!

We look forward to seeing you on June 12!  

To learn more about the Mentor Awards contact GTSC CEO, Kristina Tanasichuck at ktanasichuk@gtscoalition.com.

 

 

 

Small Business Awards for Black and Minority-owned Businesses

ARMA Inc.
Friday, April 11, 2014

Courtesy of Black Enterprise, a round up of ten prominent awards available for black and minority-owned businessesFor example, one of the more accessible grants:

The National Association for the Self Employed (NASE) Growth Grants Program allows business owners to apply for financing a particular small business need. Past recipients used funds to purchase computers, hire part-time, and create marketing materials. Visit www.businessgrants.org/opportunities/national_association_self_employed_nase_business_grants.html

Head over to Black Enterprise for the full list.

Understanding SBICs

ARMA Inc.
Thursday, April 10, 2014

GovCon has an informative post about the purpose and function of The Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) Program, which supports SBICs to make equity and debt investments in qualifying small businesses.  This diagram might prove helpful for conceptualizing their role:

Head over to their full write-up if you're interested in learning more.

Customer Centric Culture

ARMA Inc.
Friday, April 04, 2014

1 to 1 Media has a post up right now that spoke to us here at ARMA; guidance on building a customer-centric culture.  For example:

Companies can't just change who walks in the door. They also need to help current employees change their behaviors to be more customer-centric. Corporate communications are a critical component. Companies need to describe what the intended experience is and how employees will contribute. They also need to train employees to deliver the intended experience. 

 The visualization for their approach looks like this:

 For more on this approach, check out the full article.


"Great Question."

ARMA Inc.
Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Loved this piece over at Helpscout that includes tips on improving your language for customer service needs of all sorts.  Our favorite, instead of some sort of "I don't know," is, "Great question, let me find that out for you."

 

Only the craziest of customers will mind a small delay so that you can find the right answer for them—and believe me, those types of people probably weren't going to walk away happy anyway.

You should apply the principle of refocusing the conversation on the solution to other situations as well. Whenever you're able to put the spotlight on what will be done rather than what's happened, you've made a smart move.

You should never use: "If I recall correctly," or any other variant of "maybe, perhaps, I'm pretty sure." Don't guess for a customer: simply state that you're going to find out the exact answer they need, and do just that.

Concerning Numbers on "Double Dipping" Third Party e-Procurement Sites

ARMA Inc.
Friday, March 28, 2014

A number of concerning statistics from Jim Ward (of BidPrime) at the GovCon blog.  Here are the introductory figures:

  • In 2012, an online survey of over 1100 government vendors and 520 purchasing agents uncovered some startling data.
  • Over 60% of government vendors indicated that they ignore bids posted through third party e-procurement portals.  Most of these vendors stated that if an e-procurement website has a “pay barrier,” they would soon rather not bid at all than have to pay to just view RFPs with the very likely outcome that the specification doesn’t even relate to their business at all.  These vendors were primarily small businesses, many of whom cannot pay any and every fee laid upon them.  
  • This means that a majority of government vendors — mostly small businesses — miss out on almost 7% of relevant bids through these sources.  
  • Furthermore, this survey indicated that many purchasing agents who had used these third party e-procurement sites were not even aware of the “double dip” products. 

Head over to the full post to read the information in context.  Something to be aware of.

Big Data [An #Infographic]

ARMA Inc.
Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The touted benefits of big data are many, but for every proponent there's a doubter.  Lay your eyes on this infographic and consider the possibilities of big data.

Quoted on Customer Service: Lori Jo Vest

ARMA Inc.
Saturday, March 22, 2014

Lori Jo Vest of Who's Your Gladys? consistently has excellent ideas on improving customer service relationships with innovative ideas and best practices.  This ties in directly with Tschohl's suggestions for better customer service that we shared on Wednesday:

John Tschohl's Rules of Customer Service

ARMA Inc.
Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Black Enterprise recently posted some customer service wisdom from John Tschohl that we really found helpful. Here they are:

  1. Apologize and offer a better option. For example, you might offer expedited delivery at the company’s expense.
  2. Act quickly. You must respond to the complaint within 60 seconds. That’s when the magic happens.
  3. Take responsibility. Most employees shove the problem off and blame everyone else. Customers know when they are being passed along the chain and they don’t like it.
  4. Empower employees to make a fast decision. Each front-line employee should be able to take action quickly. They shouldn’t have to ask their managers to get an approval or pass the buck to them. Take action.
  5. Give away something that has high value and low cost. Customers will be pleasantly surprised and delighted with your company if you not only make things right, but make things better. For example, let’s say a customer calls to complain about a new computer that has a hard drive crash in the first month. In addition to solving the problem, you might offer an extended warranty. It costs the company nothing but it has a high, perceived value to the customer.

Read the full article to see how Tschohl puts them to action.


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