5 Great Lessons from Customer Service Mistakes

Tips, Tricks and Advice

A cruise ship captain once said, “There’s always a weird person at your dinner table. If you’re sitting with several couples and you can’t figure out who the weird one is, chances are it’s you. ”The same can be true of customer service. Every business is convinced they offer stellar service but if you can’t think of a company in your area that offers bad service, it might be you. It’s statistically impossible, not to mention an abuse of a super lative, for every business to offer “the best” service. One is better than the other. We aren’t all 5-starsall the time. But that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from the experience. 5 Great Lessons from Bad Service If you’ve recently received some bad reviews or customer service complaints, here’s how you can learn from them.

1. Listen and respond. Most people will give a business another chance if they feel heard and if something was done to remedy the situation. The remedy may be offering a free service, discount, coupon, or other incentive to try your business again. A florist that missed a delivery deadline for a special occasion and failed to communicate the error, credited the customer125% of the order and guess what that customer did? They gave the florist a second chance. This time their delivery and product were flawless. Mistakes happen. Most people understand that.

2. Under promise and over deliver. It’s always good practice to build in a buffer of time (or cost) on a project or delivery. The customer will be pleasantly surprised when it takes less time (or money) than expected. A doctor’s office admin shared that they tell everyone a specific series of testing will take three hours, but it usually only takes two and a half, although it can take three. She said that way everyone is pleasantly surprised and not upset. When they used to tell patients two and a half hours, any minute over that meant angry patients yelling at their staff. Now everyone is prepared and expects three so if it takes less than that, they’re thrilled.

3. Turn a complaint or bad experience into an FAQ on your website. FAQs are a great way to help people get the info they are most curious about, not to mention bring some good SEO your way with a page that ranks highly in important keywords. When you have a misunderstanding with a customer on a process, procedure, sale, or return, ask yourself if other customers could benefit from that understanding. If so, add an FAQ about it.

4. Set a tickler and make a new friend/loyal customer. If you have an incident of lack luster customer service, follow up with them before it is resolved, once it is resolved, and a few days or weeks after it’s resolved. This kind of attention will make your customer feel like you care. It may also be a good reminder to order/buy from you again. Some businesses create a special email campaign to earn trust back again. In the mail campaign, they look to reengage the customer. A handwritten note checking in can also be very effective.

5. Be preemptive. Reaching out after someone uses your services can be an effective way to make an impression. A pet border sends an email to every pet who stays with them thanking them for vacationing there and reminding the pet parent to let them know if they have any questions or concerns. It’s a nice touch and makes pet parents feel like the business cares. This can quell any concerns they may have over the stay and places a friendly face on the service. Disappointing experiences don’t have to be the end of the customer relationship. There are many ways to salvage the relationship and help reestablish trust.

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27 Ideas to Celebrate Mother’s Day at Your Business

Tips, Tricks and Advice

Mother’s Day is an ideal way to honor the women in your life who have helped you become the person you are today. In recent years, it has surpassed the celebration of one’s own mother and encompassed grandmothers, women we think of as second mothers, mother-in-laws, furmoms, best friends, and even female mentors. Mother’s Day is also a great way to honor women in our world who have made a difference. Broadening the definition of mother also allows for a more inclusive celebration on a day that can, for some, be a sad occasion. While everyone may not have a mother living or a good relationship with one who is, everyone has a special woman in their lives who they can celebrate. Mother’s Day can now be transformed into a time to honor those women who have nurtured us and helped us grow, whether they gave birth to us or not. Keep that in mind in your marketing.

27 Ideas to Celebrate Mother’s Day at Your Business, Here are some engaging marketing ideas to celebrate this heart-warming holiday:

1. Host a contest by inviting people on your social media page to share stories about thespecial women in their lives. Allow people to vote on the best and award prizes.

2. Offer a Mother’s Day discount. Offer a discount to your audience and invite them toshare with their favorite moms out there.

3. Give away a Mother’s Day flower (or other free item). Provide a flower to every woman who walks into your store (or buys something from you) and wish them a Happy Mother’s Day.

4. Record a video of your staff telling stories about women who influenced them.

5. Share your mother’s best recipe.

6. Create a gift guide. Work with other businesses to list their items and services as well.

7. Offer last-minute, e-delivery of gift cards.

8. Send reminder emails counting down the days until Mother’s Day with gift suggestions or ways to honor their mom.

9. Create a video of a DIY project for mom.

10. Host a special event moms would enjoy.

11. Create kits of things moms can do with their kids.

12. Create a taster or tester bag, free with purchase to all ladies in your store.

13. Offer a free consultationor roll out a new service for busy moms.

14. Create a page (or landing page) dedicated to Mother’s Day shopping.

15. Create a themed board on Pinterest of gift ideas, places to take your mom, or activities to do together.

16. Offer a “Tell your story”session or memoir writing for moms class.

17. Create a special wine-pairing or tasting event in honor of moms.

18. Host a tea at your business. Encourage people to dress up. Offer prizes for best hat or outfit.

19. Post mother-related quotes on social media in the week leading up to the big day.

20. Hold a Mother’s Day selfie or funniest video contest.

21. Host a photo contest of moms with your product.

22. Offer chair massages for moms while people browse or wait for food.

23. Run a “Caption this” picture contest with an endearing picture of motherhood.

24. Invite people to share pictures they think epitomize motherhood.

25. Encourage people to share generational pics of mom, grandmoms, great grandmoms,etc., or post about how much you miss your mom if she has passed on. You might be surprised how many people identify with this sentiment on Mother’s Day.

26. Host a “Tag your mom (or a special woman)” for a chance to win contest.

27. Post funny questions on social media. Categories could include “hardest working momin the animal kingdom,”“Who has it harder—boy moms, girl moms, both?”, “Signyou’re a mom”, or “This or that” questions “like which would your mom like more as agift—chocolates or jewelry?”.”

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Congressman Keller visits Wyoming County

Government

U.S. Rep. Fred Keller (second from left) with board chairman Tyler Emmerich and Chamber president Gina Suydam and (second and third from right) and (from left) Wyoming County commissioners Rick Wilbur, Ernie King and Tom Henry.

Rep. Fred Keller Joins us for Lunch

The Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce recently had the pleasure of welcoming U.S. Congressman Fred Keller back to Shadowbrook Resort in Tunkhannock. Rep. Keller addressed a round table of business leaders and local elected officials, taking questions on a variety of topics and offering a federal perspective.

Many took the opportunity to thank Rep. Keller for his assistance and commitment in the wake of redistricting of the PA Congressional map that vanquished the 12th District and effectively left him without a seat as of next year. Subsequently, he assured those in attendance that he is taking his final nine months in office as seriously as the time that he has already invested. “I am in office until
January 3, 2023,” he maintained. “We are all still working and doing what we need to do.”

As for what he might do in the future, Rep. Keller said that he plans to keep up the friendships that he has made over the years and help in any way that he can. “I think there are things that we can work on outside of politics that can still effect public policy,” he stated.

Fred – that’s what he asked us to call him – expressed concerns about the latest federal budget released by the president, fearing that it will dramatically increase the national debt. “We don’t have a revenue problem with government,” he offered. “We have a spending problem.”

Rep. Keller cited the Choice Act and the Skills Act as two pieces of current legislation that are geared toward getting people the educations and abilities, they need to return to the job market. The Choice Act reduces the number of hours of instruction needed for someone to use a Pell Grant, and the Skills Act will help connect people with high-priority occupations.

Fred expressed his support for pipeline construction to show the world that we are taking our energy independence seriously and his disapproval of adding more ethanol to vehicle fuel, as well as the taxing of businesses as they are being passed to the next generation, and a single care health system that robs people of choices.

Bill desRosiers of Coterra Energy questioned the recent commitment of the federal government in fast-tracking the permits for LNG (liquefied natural gas) to get more fuel to our allies in Europe without the infrastructure to get the gas there and with plans for an LNG plant in Wyalusing now in limbo.  

Rep. Keller repeated a sentiment expressed just one day earlier by visiting Sen. Pat Toomey about the state of New York effectively blocking pipeline construction that would get natural gas to market in New England. “We don’t think that states should be able to hold up the pipeline,” he asserted. “That’s interstate commerce. That’s the responsibility of the federal government.”

Natural gas is also used to make fertilizer, the cost of which is expected to more than double this year. Bill noted that there are no fertilizer plants in or near Pennsylvania, despite agriculture being the Commonwealth’s top economic driver. Even though it would take several years to get such a facility online, Fred agreed that it just makes sense to produce fertilizer closer to the source of the necessary raw materials and where it is already needed.

Mike Hopkins, president and CEO of Children’s Service Center and Robinson Counseling Center in Tunkhannock, spoke of the benefits of telehealth services that became the norm during the pandemic and still hold great promise. Cancellation rates have reduced by more than 30%, telehealth allows for mental health services without the client’s need to take time off work and commute to a doctor’s office, saving the client time and money.

“People can be seen by someone in another state,” Mike related. Another upside, he noted, is that it is often difficult to get qualified professionals to relocated to rural areas, and there is a shortage of workers. Nonetheless, Mike maintained, “It’s got the be ‘best practice.’ You need a safety net if somebody needs to be seen face-to-face.”

A deficit of available employees was expressed across the board, with Jose de los Rios suggesting that there are 100 openings at Procter & Gamble in Mehoopany Township at any given time. He attends as many career fairs and high schools as possible to spread awareness of the possibilities there. “If you are looking for work, Wyoming County has a lot of opportunities,” Jose remarked.

We appreciate the people who took the time out of their busy days to enjoy a good meal at Shadowbrook and the opportunity to talk with Fred again while he still has our backs.

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THE BENEFITS OF A SECTION 132 TRANSIT ACCOUNT

Tips, Tricks and Advice

Section 132(a) of the IRS code allows employees to pay for their qualified commuting costs (up to specified limits) with pre-tax dollars.  The program was created to encourage commuting in a way that reduces road congestion and improves air quality so qualified expenses include transit passes, vanpooling, bicycling expenses and work-related commuter parking, but excludes the cost of fuel to drive a personal car to work. 

As a pre-tax benefit, the program provides employees with a savings on their federal payroll tax since the designated benefit amount is deducted from their gross income.  If any employees reside in a state that recognizes pre-tax benefits, the savings will increase. Employers who provide this benefit save on payroll taxes since the employer does not include the designated benefit amount in the employee’s gross income.

Qualifications and restrictions of this program include:

  • Transit benefits are for any public or privately-operated transit service.  Transit passes, farecards, tokens, vouchers or passes are included. 
  • Vanpooling is a valid expense provided that 80% of the mileage is for the transport of employees to and from work, the van must have seating capacity for at least 6 workers plus the driver and at least half the seats must be used.
  • Commuter parking is valid if parking is at or near the worksite and the employee commutes to work via transit, vanpool or carpool.  Parking for residential purposes is excluded.

Please feel free to speak to an MBA Advisor for more information and instructions for setting up a Section 132(a) plan.

The Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce offers its members access to My Benefit Advisor as a solution for employee benefits, including voluntary offerings. For more information about My Benefit Advisor, visit our website at wyccc.mybenefitadvisor.com or contact Dawn Card at (800) 377-3539.

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Food Distribution Program Continues in Wyoming County

Chamber News, Community

Members of the Wyoming County Community Alliance joined together with local volunteers to pack boxes for the Food Emergency Distribution Program of Wyoming County on Monday, Feb. 21. Taking part in that activity were, front row, Sue Gumble from Lackawanna College’s School of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce (WYCCC) President Gina Suydam, Sarah Paddleford and Jonathan Todd. In the second row are Joan Hutchison and WYCCC Marketing and Events Coordinator Allison Schultz. In back are Timothy VanVleek, Jeremy Yadlosky and Thomas Evans. Absent from the photo are volunteers Dianne and Judd Fitze.

By Warren Howeler

On Monday, Feb. 21, the Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce offices in Tunkhannock Township were abuzz with activity.

People moved from room to room, packing boxes and sealing them.

Those boxes, once packed, were then moved outside of the Mile Road facility and stacked in specific piles.

The work was orderly in its nature and the volunteers were determined to do the best job possible.

A scene like this has been commonplace at the chamber offices on the third Monday of every month for the past two years.

The purpose behind this particular day was to make sure that over 100 families within Wyoming County had enough to eat as the area—much like the rest of the nation—struggles in the aftermath of the recent pandemic.

What brought this group of dedicated people out on this Monday was the continuation of the county’s Food Emergency Distribution Program.

The initiative was started in 2020 at the height of the issues being encountered with COVID-19 and was spearheaded by Debbie Shurtleff of the Wyoming County Community Alliance.

Every month since April of that year, volunteers have gathered with representatives from the community alliance and the chamber to pack boxes of food for those in need throughout the county.

In that time, the program has delivered more than 1,500 boxes to families in need.

The non-perishable food items for these deliveries are provided by CEO and Weinberg Food Bank. Potatoes and fresh fruit are purchased for each delivery using donations provided to the community alliance.

In some cases, boxes meant for families with young children have diapers and formula included in them.

Once the boxes are fully packed and sorted to their specific destination, volunteer drivers pick them up and deliver them to where they need to be.

Approximately 100 families within the county were set to receive a box from Monday’s distribution.

The program has been made possible through donations from local businesses and residents, as well as tax credits that were awarded by the PA Department of Community and Economic Development’s Neighborhood Assistance Program.

Families who are in need and would like to be added to the distribution program are asked to sign up by going to wyccc.com/alliance.

In addition, anyone who would like to volunteer or make a donation to the program is encouraged to visit that website for more information.

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Why Shop Local?

Community

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, “Small local businesses are the lifeblood of the U.S. economy; they create two thirds of net new jobs and drive U.S. innovation.” What does that mean for Wyoming County and for local economies in general? For a number of reasons, small businesses are integral to economic success on a regional level.

While larger firms tend to hire people from broader regions, smaller businesses typically hire workers in their geographic areas. This means the wages and wage taxes remain local and cycle through the economy. Workers spend most of their wages in their own communities, which supports other businesses and jobs – the ripple effect. Earned income taxes from these wages support local government.

The businesses’ revenues are also subject to local taxes regardless of business structure. Sales taxes and property taxes from these ventures also support the local governments.

Furthermore, small businesses have the ability to respond and adapt to regional change. They know and understand their communities. They are also vested in these areas; instead of simply perceiving the locations as markets through which they may profit, people associated with small businesses are at home in their communities. They are unlikely to relocate, and because of their commitment, they tend to support their areas in a variety of ways – through philanthropy, volunteerism, and purchasing locally themselves.

There are 652 businesses in Wyoming County, which employ about 10,500 people. Over 78 percent of these businesses employ less than nine people. Although there is no way to identify how many of those 652 businesses are locally owned, many with less than nine employees fall into the category. A few of those with more than nine workers may be locally owned as well. A study by the American Economic Review found that “local businesses recirculate a greater share of every dollar as they tend to create locally owned supply chains and reinvest in their employees and community. The data also shows that local retailers return 52 percent of their revenue back into the local economy, compared to just 14 percent from national chains.”

Grant Barnhill, founder of shared workspace community Shift Workspace noted in his research that, “If every U.S. family spent an additional $10 per month at a local shop, the result would be an additional $9.3 billion directly returned to local communities.” In other words, high-level economic impact analysis demonstrates that a Wyoming County retailer with three employees is responsible for about $350,000 of impact rippling through the economy in a given year!

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Milnes Engineering, Construction & Survey Reaches 65 Year Milestone

Member News

The Milnes family of Tunkhannock is celebrating the 65th anniversary of a namesake enterprise that was started by Stuart Milnes in 1956. Through the years, as additional family members and other professionals came on board, Milnes Engineering, Construction & Survey identified needs and added services that would eventually position them as the premier design-to-build firm in the region. They have embraced and enhanced emerging technologies to provide engineering, construction and surveying expertise for commercial and industrial projects large and small and near and far.


The range of their accomplishments is impressive, and their dedication toward building relationships with clients and subcontractors has garnered Milnes Engineering, Construction & Survey a reputation of being both disciplined and flexible to meet the demands of an ever-changing industrial landscape. In addition to recent examples of their work right here in Wyoming County, such as the Williams office building, Sherwood Chevrolet Dealership and D&C Fuel Sales in Tunkhannock, Milnes has left its mark on projects from coast to coast.

Stuart Milnes was living in Rushville, Susquehanna County, when he enrolled at Penn State University to earn a degree in Forestry in 1933. He went to work for the U.S. Forestry Service and was tapped to head up an emergency rubber project for civilian World War II efforts. Stuart’s job was to secure timber for the armed forces and, through the course of this commission, he sharpened his surveying skills.

The Forest Service recognized Stuart’s value and tried to retain him after the war ended, offering him a job in Alaska. By then, he had started a family and didn’t want to work so far away, first taking on some private forestry work in Michigan. According to his son, Paul, Stuart was a natural as a designer, overseeing the construction of roads and bridges in a national forest there.

Stuart returned to Pennsylvania, however, in 1947, bought a 200-acre farm in LeRaysville and ran a sawmill. There was a lack of qualified surveyors in the region, and people began requesting his services. To make it official, Stuart successfully obtained a license as a surveyor through the state. He told newspaper reporter Phillip Lieberman in 1982 that attorneys in Tunkhannock were feeding him so much work, he decided to turn over the sawmill to his sons and shift to a career as a surveyor.

“By the late 1950s, I decided I had so much work that I’d better set up office space,” said Stuart, who rented a room at the back of the office of attorney John Morgan, one of many for whom he would conduct land surveys.

This was an industrial heyday for Wyoming County, and Stuart was called upon to assist Procter & Gamble with finding a suitable site for expansion into the area. Stuart helped them design the layout and surveyed the tract in Mehoopany Township. The scope of the P&G project encouraged him to seek his engineering license. 

“He had the working experience to take the professional engineering exam orally,” Paul told us. “That was very rare at the time and probably impossible today.”

At the same time, Stuart’s son, Tom, was graduating from Penn State with a dual degree in civil and sanitary engineering. He worked briefly at Roy Weston Engineering (now Weston Solutions) in Philadelphia before returning to graduate school to get a Doctorate degree at Cornell University that included research in waste treatment, high-powered sanitary engineering, and paper mill waste. He returned to Philadelphia to work for Catalytic, doing waste treatment for the petroleum industry, employing a relatively new activated sludge process. 

“Tom was not happy working in Philadelphia, so he came back to work with dad and started Milnes Engineering,” Paul related. Father and son handled the design work, and Ron Hobbs was hired to maintain the surveying side of the business. As the number of both clients and staff continued to grow, Milnes purchased a house on Bridge Street in Tunkhannock and renovated it to serve as the business’s new headquarters. New employees included Ned Slocum and Dave Shoemaker, who handled surveying drafting and engineering work, respectively. (The current headquarters on Frear Hill Road were constructed in 1995.) 

After being honorably discharged from military service, Ned began doing some survey work for Stuart and slowly transitioned into the engineering side of the company by 1974, having secured his PLS and PE licenses. Stuart’s son, Gene, retired from the Air Force and came into the company as an accountant, utilizing early computers for the first time. Paul, who was a licensed civil engineer, left his job at the PA DEP (then DER) and joined the company in 1975. In 1976, Milnes Construction was incorporated with Stuart and Tom at its helm, effectively making Milnes Companies a one-stop-shop for all commercial general construction needs. Stuart retired in 1980. 

Tom’s son, George, started with the company as a teenager, cutting brush for the surveyors and working his way up to his current position as General Superintendent, garnering a degree in Construction Technology from Williamsport Area Community College (now Penn Tech) along the way. 

Tom’s daughter, Karen, joined the staff in 2001 as an administrative assistant for the construction company and eventually moved into her current role as Chief Financial Officer. She’d previously worked for PG Energy and Pennsylvania Gas & Water, which became UGI. As administrators and crew members alike mark the company’s anniversary this year and look back on six and a half decades of growth, they often refer to long-time employees who felt more like family over the years as legacy employees. “We have had so many employees that dedicated all or part of their careers to Milnes,” said Karen, who believes that the companies have employed more than 500 people since their inception. 

The size of the staff has fluctuated from 10 to 50 over time depending on how much work was available and how many crew members were needed for a specific job. Surveying, for example, has changed drastically, according to Dave, as more electronic devices are used in the field.

“A survey crew used to involve up to five people,” Paul recalled. “It’s all done by one person now,” Dave explained. “In the old days, you had to come back to the office and give notes to the draftsmen. Now, you enter all the data in the field and it goes into the system. 

Now, surveyors have the ability through computers to do their own maps.” “You have to keep in step with that or, otherwise, you’re lost,” Paul remarked.

Never losing their way but working instead as a team to keep an eye on the future is what brought Milnes Companies to the 65-year mark.

George and Karen told us that they feel very fortunate to be the third generation of family members to run the companies. “Our father, Tom, uncles Paul and Gene, and many dedicated employees spent their careers building this company and creating a legacy,” said Karen. “It is our goal to carry on this legacy by maintaining the same values, integrity and level of professionalism that got us where we are today.”

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