8 Proven Tips to Keep your Customers Coming Back

8 Proven Tips to Keep your Customers Coming Back

Just for Fun, News, Retail, Technical Tip

By John Garvey

There are several reasons you should prioritize retention over new customer acquisition. Harvard Business Review reports that “acquiring a new customer is anywhere from 5 to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one,” citing research from Bain & Company. The same, oft-cited research suggests that improving customer retention by five percent results in a 25 to 95 percent increase in profits.

Focusing first on your existing customers, assuming they’re profitable, is less work and often makes customer acquisition easier to boot. If you retain customers and create exceptional experiences for them, they’ll also become your best advocates.

Male customer talking to paint specialist woman in a store
  1. Time-limited offers. Harvard professor, best-selling author and persuasion expert Robert Cialdini named scarcity as one of his 6 Principles of Influence. In a business setting, one way of harnessing this is time-limited offers. Prospects are more likely to act on an email marketing offer, for instance, when it’s time-limited.

“When our freedom to have something is limited, the item becomes less available, and we experience an increased desire for it,” states Cialdini in the modern classic Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. “However, we rarely recognize that psychological reactance has caused us to want the item more; all we know is that we want it. Still, we need to make sense of our desire for the item, so we begin to assign it positive qualities to justify the desire.”

  1. Customer surveys. As we’ve noted before, for every customer who complains directly, there are about two dozen customers who are quietly dissatisfied with some aspect of your service. In addition to identifying areas for improvement, surveys can generate testimonials and keep customers engaged.

Customer surveys are often focused on identifying problem areas. While that’s important if you value repeat business, a Harvard Business Review article, The Power of Positive Surveying, suggests that a more positive slant can improve customer satisfaction and retention.

“Beginning a survey with what the researchers call ‘open-ended positive solicitations’ seems to be an easy, low-cost way to increase satisfaction and spending.”

By getting customers to recall and relate positive experiences, you increase their sense of well-being and make them more likely to return. While customers should have an outlet to vent (ideally not Yelp!), surveys that focus too much on uncovering problem areas can backfire.

“Companies should look at the customer feedback process not only as a chance to listen but also as an opportunity to subtly influence customer perceptions.”

  1. Ambience. Every introvert has walked out of a cafe, restaurant or store because of excessively loud or grating music, too much ambient noise or overcaffeinated staff. A lot of retail settings are geared toward extroverts because of the perception of the giddy shopaholic, but a third to a half of us are introverts. The reverse can also be true, of course. Lighting and music geared towards one kind of customer risks driving off another, potentially larger group of customers.

Music should also be attuned to your customers. This may seem like common sense, but individual employees may enjoy country music or electronica, which people tend to either love or hate. It may seem like micromanaging to dictate which genres or stations employees can choose, but in many cases it’s good business sense.

Ambience was one of the keys to Starbucks’ success. When Howard Schultz took over the company, he was inspired by the Italian cafe scene. Much like the English pub, these were uplifting social spaces conducive to exchanging news and sharing ideas. Coffee stopped being a commodity and became more of an experience.

Two women talking in a coffee shop
  1. Be ultra-responsive to online reviews … the good and the bad. We discussed this in our March blog, Best Practices for Dealing with Negative Customer Reviews. Responding to a positive shout out–even a trivial one–reaffirms that you value your customers. Not responding to a negative review–even if it’s petty–validates the complaint.
  2. Personalization. This begins with understanding your customer personas: their aspirations, their pains, preferred methods of communication and social media habits. Focus on the channels that matter most. If you have someone in charge of social media or email marketing, it may even be good to have that person sign off on messages using his or her first name (under the company label, of course). This can make you stand out regardless of what size your business is.

Telling customer stories is another great way to do this. While beyond the scope of this blog, there are a variety of great ways to do this including social media, case studies and video blogs.

One emotional and vivid customer story is far more persuasive than a data dump in 85 PowerPoint slides. – Carmine Gallo, The Storyteller’s Secret

  1. Email marketing (Yes, it still pays). Hubspot and Search Engine Journal state that email marketing has an average ROI of 4300% – but that’s obviously quality dependent. Email marketing keeps you top of mind and can help personalize your brand. A point of sale (POS) system with email marketing integrated can segment customers by purchasing history and preferences, allowing you to deliver relevant, individualized offers. Organized customer data is a prerequisite to effective marketing and systems like NCR Counterpoint, which we offer, make it easy.

Electronic receipts delivered by email, another feature built into our POS systems, also allow businesses to send customer feedback surveys and additional offers with ease.

Male and female customers paying a merchants with a credit card
  1. Rewards programs and exclusive offers. Again, the better your customer data is, the more you can tailor offers to entice customers. It’s a truism that loyalty programs make people feel valued, but also consider throwing out the occasional surprise reward. These can coincide with birthdays or be completely random.

Incidentally, this is another example of Cialdini’s scarcity principle at work. An offer available to few people will be perceived as having greater value than one available to the masses.

  1. Understand your mission and communicate it across channels. Know your “Why” and weave it into every aspect of your business. Use it to galvanize employees and communicate the value of what you do. This can be a social mission or it can simply be exceptional commitment to satisfying a market need. One of our partners in Fort Collins, Happy Lucky’s Teahouse, has a close affiliation with Sustainable Schools International, a nonprofit supporting education in Cambodia. A portion of every sale goes to SSI and customers have the option to “round up” their payment to the nearest dollar. This provides further financial support as well as generating awareness for their cause.

Have anything to add to the conversation? We’d love to hear from you!

Google Runs the World, Not Your Business

Google Runs the World, Not Your Business

E-commerce, Just for Fun, Retail, Technical Tip, Web Tips

By Ryan Parks

Everyone on Facebook does a good job of updating me about enjoying a vanilla latte at their favorite coffee shop (at least my friends do). However, people don’t always remember to update their business profile on Google, Yelp, Facebook, and other platforms if there is a special event or something out of the ordinary happening.

Google search screen on a computer on a tableOn a recent trip to Seattle I was reminded how important it is to keep your business profile up to date. While visiting we went to one of the main attractions in the city. Now, we only had a few days and this particular attraction was only open the first day we were there due to construction, so we knew it was going to be a time crunch. According to their website they would be open till 8pm and the last tour left at 7pm. We arrived at 6:45 with what we thought was plenty of time, only to have the security guard tell us that they close at 7pm. But… we contested, the website says 8pm, he then proceeded to tell us, “well, that’s google’s listing, we don’t control that.” As someone who traveled from out of town and wasn’t sure when he’d be back, this was disappointing to say the least.

Google Business

Yes, you do control your business listing on Google, or at least you should… If you haven’t already, go add or claim your business listing on Google. Seriously, go do it now, stop reading this. Okay, you are now in control. You can now edit your post, add pictures, change the hours, add special hours for holidays, events, or construction. The Google business listing is often one of the first things people see when they google your business, if you don’t see one for your business you should create one. Keeping this listing up to date will greatly benefit your business, but it isn’t the only listing to keep in mind.

Facebook

Phone with Facebook next to computerIf your business isn’t using social media, you are missing out. Even if you feel like your company doesn’t have anything exciting to share on social media, it is an area you need to have a presence. With over 70% percent of Americans on Facebook, your business page has the potential to reach millions. Facebook now has a feature that allows people to ask for recommendations. For example, if I was traveling to Austin, Texas, I can now ask my friends who live there or who have traveled there if they have recommendations for a restaurant or a record store. Facebook will then add details about your friends recommendations. A Facebook business page is a great way to get more online traffic, but don’t forget to keep that information up to date as well. Learn more about creating a Facebook business page.

Website

Lastly, but certainly not least, your website. You want to make sure your website’s information is always accurate. Companies list their address and store hours in all sorts of places, the about section, the contact page, an information page. It’s okay to have this information in more than one area and certainly don’t remove it if you’ve always had the information in a certain location. However, the easiest and most convenient section is at the bottom of your site in the footer. The footer is on every page and is an obvious place for your location, phone number and/or store hours. Even if you only do online orders it is a good idea to have a physical location listed on your website. Sometimes people want to know how far away an item may ship from, if you’re local or what timezone you are in if they want to call. Also, it helps let people know that you have a physical location and aren’t just a vague concept floating around the internet.

These three areas are not the only places where your information can be listed, but they’re a good place to start. Keep in mind that people traveling from out of state or even out of the country may be relying on this information and you don’t want to damper their experience or cause them to write a bad review. Remember, Google knows a scary amount of information about your business, but you still control most of that information, for now…

Best Practices for Dealing with Negative Customer Reviews

Best Practices for Dealing with Negative Customer Reviews

Technical Tip

By John Garvey

Whether you’re a retailer, restaurateur, tour guide or museum director, your first negative review can make you feel like a donkey kicked you in the stomach. Don’t go all Chicken Little on us, though—The sky is not falling! Before we get to how to deal with negative customer reviews, we’ll point out a few benefits (yes, benefits) of negative reviews:

Man in Suit giving thumbs-up

Despair not!

According to Hubspot, five times as many buyers seek out bad reviews as good reviews. That’s because they want to make an informed purchase, weighing the credibility of negative and positive reviews. Rarely are they looking for reasons not to buy.

In fact, Reevoo, a brand management and market research firm, reports that 19 out of 20 customers become suspicious when they see only positive reviews. An occasional negative review lends credibility to your positive reviews by showing that you aren’t gaming the system.

A mature, helpful response to a negative review that shows you aren’t squeamish about negative feedback boosts your credibility and may generate sympathy for your brand.

Finally, “Customers who have their complaints satisfactorily resolved tell an average of five people” according to Colorado State University marketing professor Douglas Hoffman. If you win over a dissatisfied customer, they’ll be a stronger advocate than a customer who was happy all along. That’s because, done right, resolving a complaint shows an unusual level of commitment and maturity.

In short, a negative review creates the chance to turn a small loss into a big win.

Hopefully, having provided some positive perspective on negative reviews, we’ll turn our attention to how to manage negative online and offline reviews. There are four cornerstones: Initiative, Vigilance, Empathy and Process.

We’ll end with a few SEO tips so hang with us!

Initiative: Be proactive.

The most important foundation of managing negative reviews is taking specific, customer-centric measures to prevent them in the first place. There’s no foolproof method to stop all bad online reviews, but there are established ways to reduce their likelihood.

  1. Convenient sounding boards. First, make sure there’s a convenient resource such as a physical or online “comment card” available to customers to voice complaints and provide testimonials. It’s far better for them to complain directly to you than to many prospects via social media. Customers given a convenient sounding board will often be more candid, focusing on the substance of their complaints rather than speculating about the “why,” which may amount to an unwarranted attack on your business culture and motives.
  2. Follow up quickly on offline complaints. If not acted upon promptly, offline complaints become public. A slow, inadequate or non-response adds to a customer’s frustration, making it more likely that he’ll flame you on Yelp, Facebook, OpenTable or Google.
  3. Email tags. Every employee using a company email should have links to your site and social media accounts below her signature, not only to grow your social presence but to make it easier for customers to post reviews.
  4. Soliciting testimonials. Finally, remember that the point of sale, when the customer is excited about a new purchase, is the best moment to solicit reviews. A simple URL on the bottom of a physical receipt, a link to a super-short survey on a mobile or email receipt, or even a physical comment card will generate more reviews than a suggestion that they visit Yelp or TripAdvisor.

Vigilance: Keep your ear to the ground.

  1. “Social never sleeps” is an unofficial mantra in social media marketing and public relations. Make the rounds regularly: Yelp, Facebook, Google, Zomato (previously UrbanSpoon), OpenTable, Twitter, Glassdoor and so on. Know the most important review sites for your industry and pay lots of attention.
  2. Set up a Google Alert for your business so that when it’s mentioned online you receive a timely notification in your email.

Empathy: Feel their pain.

  1. Own it. Own up to your mistakes, even when it’s uncertain where the blame lies. A non-response to a negative review will compound the problem almost every time. It shows apathy. It shows that you aren’t on top of your game. In one way or another it validates the complaint.
  2. Civility. Even a justifiably defensive response to an unfair review will be perceived negatively by customers, who may sympathize with you privately but still be put off by drama. If it’s a case of a false statement, be candid yet civil.
  3. Judgement. On a similar note, use good business judgement. Don’t be overzealous when appeasing upset customers with compensations and never throw your employees under the bus.
  4. Authenticity. Why are authentic apologies necessary? Consider the following:
    • According to Lee Resources, a consulting firm, one complaint implies there are another 26 quietly dissatisfied customers (who are likely complaining to other people).
    • According to Bain & Company, one of the big three consulting firms, customer acquisition is 6 – 7 times as costly as customer retention. So try not to lose ‘em.

Woman writing in a notebook

Process: Have a checklist of things to do and avoid.

  1. Make it easy for customers to deliver feedback and testimonials. Encourage candor by not requiring them to provide more personal information than absolutely necessary to follow up, and by expressing your commitment to customer service with words and actions.
  2. Run each response by a trusted colleague with some emotional detachment before posting.
  3. In your response, make sure you direct the customer to someone who can help them resolve their complaint. Make it a direct line or email rather than a generic address like “Service@XYZCorp.com.” While easy to overlook, this detail can help bring about a speedier resolution and may result in the customer amending their review to a more positive rating.

What other lessons can you bring to the table based on experience? We’d love to hear your stories.

Bonus: SEO Tips!

  • When responding to a negative review, don’t use the name of your business or search keywords. Doing this will improve the search engine ranking of the review itself. With positive reviews, the same principle applies in reverse. Use your company name and relevant keywords to bolster the review’s ranking.
  • Freshness is one factor in how Google ranks content, so all things equal, new content outranks old content. The wake of a negative review is a good time to put up positive or helpful content you already have in the pipeline, or to increase your content marketing efforts.
Questions to ask when shopping for a POS system

Questions to ask when shopping for a POS system

Technical Tip

by John Garvey
shaking hands
What does the term “point of sale system” mean to you? For many, it may simply mean payment processing, but if you’re a merchant you have a lot more on your mind. You don’t just want a one-trick pony. For instance, in addition to fast and reliable credit card processing, you probably wouldn’t mind a POS system that streamlines inventory management and your check out process. Would you?

There are many POS systems out there with varying features. The overriding consideration is that the POS system you use should allow you flexibility and accommodate your business—not the other way around.

It’s a business partnership, not a product.

People on laptop
What kind of training and support does your retail solutions provider offer?

Will they provide you meaningful help getting up to snuff on their platform?

How responsive is your provider?

Consider the quality of tech support offered. Some offer 24/7 tech support, but don’t advertise long wait times and poorly-trained technicians. Retail Control Systems offers a level of responsiveness and helpfulness that’s unsurpassed with a well-trained staff. That’s part of why we’ve been the # 1 NCR Counterpoint reseller for nearly 20 years!

It’s also why we have so many positive testimonials.

What kind of hardware does your retail solutions/POS provider offer?

NCR Customer and Merchant
Hardware should be intended to last. We’re talking commercial grade as opposed to consumer grade hardware. The NCR register is drop tested, warrantied, dust- and water-resistant and built to carry out millions of transactions over its lifespan.

What can you expect if contingencies occur?

Business Continuity

As a customer, have you ever not been able to complete a purchase because the POS system was down and you didn’t have cash? Probably. This is disappointing when you’re fiending for something specific, like pizza, and have to go three doors down for a salad. (The memory has me choking back tears!)

If your internet service provider bonks, that doesn’t mean your business should. NCR Counterpoint maintains full functionality in offline mode. With some other POS platforms, that isn’t the case.

Security

It is technically a requirement for POS systems to meet PCI Security Standards, but compliance is also a moving target and small providers sometimes fly under the radar. NCR Counterpoint keeps on top of it, enabling you to do so as well.

Happy Lucky's Tea House Register

While compliance is ultimately up to the merchant, a compliant provider is indispensable. RCS helps keep your business data secure and protects you from liability. We also keep our accounts separate. That means even if the guy down the street gets hacked, you’re safe because we don’t group you with other customers.

Our business systems can also flag things like large discounts, excessive “no sale” transactions, voided tickets and other red flags that may indicate theft or pilfering.

Ask your prospective POS system provider what they do in terms of backing up and securing your data. With RCS, a little more money gets you a lot more security.

What features do you need beyond payment processing?

Order Fulfillment – Your POS system should enable omnichannel sales—that is, online, in-store and mobile.

Inventory Management – A quality POS system helps merchants manage layaways, special orders and accounts receivable. Specialized reports can track sales data, monitor margins and eliminate guesswork.

Gift Card and Loyalty Programs – In many cases, gift cards and loyalty programs involve transactional or monthly fees. Avoid these if you can (hint: You can with RCS).

Marketing Support – Any POS system should help you organize customer data. A good one has email marketing integrations and other marketing-related features. These include collecting customer feedback surveys and segmenting customers by purchasing history to deliver relevant, individualized marketing for email or mobile.

Integration with Other Business Systems – A POS system should have the ability to interface with other platforms including accounting software, reservation systems and online stores. You don’t want to have to overhaul a system you’re familiar and satisfied with to onboard a new POS system. This is one of NCR Counterpoint’s strengths. For instance, Counterpoint interfaces smoothly with QuickBooks and Outbound Reservation Software.

When shopping around for a POS system, consider your budget, but remember that spending an extra dollar in the right place can save you three dollars down the road.

If you have questions relating to advanced features, integration, marketing or anything else, drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you!

Pros & Cons of Cloud POS System

Pros & Cons of Cloud POS System

Specialty Retail, Technical Tip

Are you in the midst of researching a new POS system? Are you confused by the difference of a cloud system and an on premise server? RCS can help. We have broken down the pros and cons of having a cloud based POS system to help you decide.

Cloud vs. Ground

For years, the only option for implementing a POS system was purchasing and maintaining your own server. These days, you have a choice when it comes to your POS system: cloud or on-premise server. The following lays out some of the most important considerations to make when considering a new server environment.  

 

Pros:

  • Save Money – on IT staffing, infrastructure and required computer hardware.
  • Real-time – Reporting, Data, and Inventory Management functionality across all locations.
  • Data-redundancy and Back-ups – Your store won’t lose important data if it lives in the cloud.
  • More power when you need it – Scale up computing power during busy months– all without purchasing new hardware!
  • Mobility (mPOS) – The ability to take your POS System on the go! Think sidewalk sales, trade shows, and pop up stores!
  • Monthly payments – Upfront costs for configuration, some hardware, training may be required – but the monthly payments for software provide greater financial flexibility as opposed to paying for licensing upfront.
  • Instant Upgrades – No need to manage database maintenance – Patches, bugs, updates, and offsite backups managed by the Cloud Host.  Future-proof your technology!

Cons:

  • Connectivity – Ensure your cloud POS has a functional stand-alone mode to keep your company running– even when the internet isn’t.
  • Limited Configurability – make sure your cloud based POS system won’t limit your customization. Cegid, allows for custom reporting, UI changes and many other features.
  • Bandwidth – Some systems charge a premium if you go over the allotted bandwidth. Make sure your POS system has unlimited bandwidth capabilities.

Other Items to consider:

  • Training – Make it a priority! Don’t skimp on your training budget.  You’ve worked hard picking out a new system, make sure you’re well trained and able to fully utilize the features and functionality that helped you make that decision!
  • Integrations – What can and can’t be integrated?  What are the costs and does it limit functionality of your POS? Integrations to consider: eCommerce, ERP, marketing, accounting, vendor portals, or state mandated reporting, automated taxes, and online ticketing.  
  • Reality of costs – where are you saving and what are these savings enabling your company to do?
  • Expenses – Month-to-month vs. buying out-right, configuration, implementation, training, integrations, eCommerce integrations
  • Time is money – Is this system saving you or your organization time, allowing for other projects to occur?
  • Need to read more? Check out this blog post on 3 common myths about cloud solutions
Go Further…By Staying Local!

Go Further…By Staying Local!

Retail, Technical Tip

Introducing CPLocal, a secure way to process transactions on your NCR Counterpoint System without being tethered to a server. By running NCR Counterpoint in ‘local’ mode, users have the ability to keep servicing their customers in any environment. Having a sidewalk sale or event? Great! Get in all the action, by taking your unit outside to process sales. Has the internet gone down, or your server needs maintenance? No problem! Login with CPLocal to be up and running within minutes. Don’t worry, you’ll still have access to your customers, inventory, and general Counterpoint functionality to continue operations as usual.

Take some advice from the pros- Literally! Longtime RCS customer, The Red Sox Team Stores, knows that even if there is an outage, they can keep on chuggin’. While all the other stores and vast assortment of vendors were shut down because of an internet failure, The Red Sox Team Stores continued busting lines of 30+ fans at a time, eagerly waiting to purchase their fan apparel. For a store with an average ticket being sometimes in access of two to three hundred dollars, even a few minutes is worth thousands for their bottom line.  CPLocal is their trusted source of fast and stable processing power for even the busiest (especially the busiest) of game days.

How does it work? Connect to CPLocal easily by clicking the icon on your POS unit (it will need to have been purchased and installed by an RCS technician). After logging in, users will have the ability to utilize a native version of Counterpoint, using each computer as it’s’ server. If the user is accessing CPLocal for outage purposes, a sync to the server will be attempted automatically every fifteen minutes. Once the connection is stable, users will be notified. If the user is accessing CPLocal for an event, or sidewalk sale (also see NCR CPMobile Options), most regular NCR Counterpoint functions will be available. Features that require updates from main database (server), such as posting tickets and transactions, gift registry, editing items or vendors, and the CP Message Center, may not be accessed until the POS unit is reconnected to server. After a new connection is established, any new data from each individual POS unit, will be communicated back up to the server, or main database.

 

Want to know more detail about how CPLocal can benefit your business? Contact us!

Written by: Molly Michalenoick, Retail Solutions Advisor, RCS

How to Convince Your Manager They Need a New POS system

How to Convince Your Manager They Need a New POS system

Restaurant, Retail, Technical Tip

Whether you’re a store rep, server, bookkeeper or buyer – not having an up-to-date point of sale (POS) system means you have to grapple with issues you’d just as soon avoid. These may include inventory shortages, customers irked by transaction delays, lost receipts and excessive paper documentation (complete with coffee stains). Unfortunately, a lot of retail and restaurant managers are resistant to change because of the perceived expense and difficulty of switching to a modern POS system.

Here are a few selling points for upgrading to a touch screen, cloud-based POS system. If you’re an employee, you know they’ll make your life easier. Now to convince the boss.

Make inventory management one of your biggest strengths.

NCR Counterpoint has the ability to generate over 160 reports, provide real-time stocking levels, create barcodes and automate purchasing. For businesses with multiple locations, it allows managers to easily transfer inventory between branches. All that amounts to reduced stock outs, spoilage and other snafus.

Say you miss out on $400 a month in revenues due to stock outs. If improved inventory management can reduce stock outs by 80%, you’re looking at $320/month in additional revenues. That’s $3,840 a year in additional sales—using conservative assumptions—from just one dimension of inventory management! Inventory reports that NCR Counterpoint runs can also help reduce surplus inventory, which will further improve cash flows. As a manager or business owner, you can select which inventory reports are most relevant to your business, which ones you wish to view personally and which ones to assign to other managers.

Quality point of sale systems like Counterpoint and, NCR Silver Pro (for restaurants) can generate reports to help guide all sorts of managerial decisions including inventory replenishment, pricing and merchandising.

Prevent theft.

It’s tempting to gloss over the topic of employee theft, but it’s all too common. This is especially true when taking into account non-malicious theft like “discretionary” discounts and freebies to friends and family. How much does it add up to in your business? You can’t manage what you don’t measure, but with modern point of sale systems, the task is much easier.

Say stolen inventory amounts to 3% of Cost of Goods Sold (COGS). If COGS is $50K a month, that means theft amounts to $1,500 a month or $18,000 annually!

With POS systems, Counterpoint or NCR Silver Pro, a business can help flag things like large discounts, excessive “no sale” transactions, voided tickets and other concerning things. Even at more conservative figures than those discussed above, it will pay for itself many times over.

Staff sitting around a table with notebooks and a laptop

Optimize staffing.

Avoid over- or understaffing with point of sale analytics that identify peak hours. If you can eliminate a single eight-hour shift (or two four-hour shifts) at $12/hour, that’s a savings of $96 a week – nearly $5000 a year! Furthermore, ensuring that you have adequate staff during peak hours keeps lines moving, reduces cart abandonment and helps retain customers.

Similarly, employees can clock in and out with Counterpoint, which improves time tracking for payroll. Even honest employees are unlikely to round their hours down, yet many businesses still use manual timecards and rounding. Those minutes at the beginning and end of each shift add up.

Marketing and customer engagement.

According to Hubspot as well as Search Engine Journal, email marketing has an average ROI of 4300% – but only if it’s done right. A good POS system allows customers an easy opt-in and keeps lists up-to-date. You’ll never import another email spreadsheet! A POS system with email marketing integrated can also help segment customers by purchasing history and preferences to deliver relevant, individualized offers. Organized, accessible customer data is integral to effective marketing and systems like Counterpoint make it easy.

Electronic receipts delivered by email also allow businesses to send customer feedback surveys and additional offers with ease. Further, it’s just one additional POS feature that eliminates unnecessary equipment and supplies.

New message about your POS system

Discount and loyalty programs.

Point of sale analytics can inform your company’s discount strategy and manage loyalty programs so they not only make people feel good, but make financial sense. Are there low-margin items you should avoid discounting? Are loyalty programs difficult to manage because you’re tracking them on paper or using spreadsheets? Eliminate guesswork, save time and ensure that loyalty programs actually drive customer retention by upgrading.

If you’re a retailer, data provided by point of sale systems can also identify customers who abuse return policies. You aren’t an equipment rental company, so don’t get taken advantage of.

Stay relevant.

Convenience is everything in an era where it’s “sooo cool” to be busy. Make it more convenient for customers to order from you than an online competitor. Or just add ecommerce to your operations. It’s not as much work as you may think, and we’re here to make it as streamlined as possible! You can place an order from a tablet for a product you may not ordinarily stock, based on a customer’s preferences, and spare her both time and shipping costs.

But as with the above examples, that can only happen if you have a smart POS system.

Modern, cloud-based point of sale systems offer a few other perks. These include the user-friendly touch screen interface, increasing counter space (by eliminating clunky old monitors), reduced human error, shorter lines and other intangibles that make customers and employees just a little happier day to day.

The bottom line is that point of sale software systems improve margins and customer retention, identify low-hanging fruits and eliminate guesswork with managerial decisions. Select one suited to your business—it will pay off in spades.

Offline Ticket – What is it, and why do I need to test it weekly?

Offline Ticket – What is it, and why do I need to test it weekly?

Technical Tip

What is Offline Ticket (Offline Mode)?

Offline Ticket is an optional Counterpoint function that stores a smaller version of your live Counterpoint system on your local register. Every 15 minutes packets of information are sent to your NCR Counterpoint server from the offline station(s). Also, inventory updates, posted sales, customer updates drawer sessions and Counterpoint user updates are received to the offline station(s).

Offline Ticket can be a life saver when the connection to your live Counterpoint server is down or slow. You can use this option to minimize your network bandwidth in order to optimize your network performance.  This feature can also be used for outside sales events such as tent sales, trade shows and conferences when you have minimal internet source for credit card transactions.

Computer with Offline Mode Activated Text

Why Test Offline Ticket Weekly?

When an update packet fails to make it to the offline station(s), the information contained in that packet will be missing from the offline database. Offline will attempt to receive the packets again, but if something is not working correctly (Counterpoint Services, for example), the information will never get processed.

For example, if the packet from your live company contains a changed password, a new item, or a large number of items that were transferred to another location and doesn’t reach your offline station, the offline database is no longer up to date. This will cause problems in a situation that demands operation in offline ticket.

Testing offline ticket weekly will ensure your offline database is always up to date.  If you find an issue during your testing, you (or RCS) can resolve the issue proactively so that offline ticket will be functional when needed.  Now that you know why you should test weekly, let’s review how to do so.

How to Test Offline Ticket

Testing Offline Ticket can be done one of two ways:

  1. Pick a day of the week to open your drawer and run the morning shift in offline mode. As long as you have an internet source you will be able to process credit cards. Run both cash and credit card transactions to be sure all of your hardware devices are working properly (e.g. credit cards swipes, receipt printers, pole displays, cash drawers, etc.). When your shift is done, count your drawer in offline mode and then reconcile in your live Counterpoint system. Verify all tickets have transferred up to the live Counterpoint database by comparing your drawer reading report from both live and offline.
  2. A simpler test: open one drawer in offline ticket and run a couple of test transactions using both credit card and cash payment types. You can void the tickets in your live Counterpoint system once they have synced with the NCR Counterpoint server.

Testing offline ticket weekly will save you headaches in the future and can prevent revenue loss by ensuring maximum up-time for your Counterpoint system.

Read the full NCR Counterpoint Knowledge Base article here on offline ticket entry.

If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to call Support: 800-417-3030 option 2 or fill out our contact us form here. We have multiple certified Counterpoint Technicians happy to assist you!

*Editors Note: This post was originally published in June of 2015 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy.

Beware: Google Document Phishing Scam

Beware: Google Document Phishing Scam

Technical Tip, Web Tips

Google is warning all to not open a phishing scam e-mail being currently sent out. The sophisticated looking e-mail will look like it’s coming from an e-mail address that you may recognize. There is one key giveaway to recognize these e-mails: The mail is sent to a fake email address in the main recipient field — hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh@mailinator.com. Your address is included in the BCC field.

Google Docs Phishing Scam Image

According to a tweet by Google, make sure you immediately report this e-mail as a Phishing attempt via Gmail and then delete. Do not open any attachments, click on the link, or respond to the sender. Google is in the midst of investigating where this phishing scam originated and how to stop it from happening again in the future. Read more on how to report an e-mail within Gmail.

Gmail Tweet

When users click on the file, the fake Google Docs will seek permission to access your account. Users who click on the link and follow through with the process should go to Google’s account permissions to deny access.
Phishing is generally carried out via e-mail, but can also happen via websites, ads, etc.. It means that an internet hacker is trying to convince you to share your personal information online, like credit card information, social security numbers, banking information and more. Read more about phishing scams and how to avoid them. If an e-mail looks suspicious, don’t open it!

e-mail on phone

Here are some additional e-mail “Safe Sending” Tips:

  • Do not send personal messages from your corporate account
  • Do not forward company emails or corporate data to your personal account
  • Always remember that email is not private
  • Check with the sender before opening attachments
  • Do not send sensitive information over email
  • Respect email laws and regulations
  • Know the difference between public and private information!

Read more about the phishing scam.

 

Update: May 4th, 2017, 4:00 pm

Google has addressed the issue and it should be re-mediated. If you think you were affected, follow this link: http://g.co/SecurityCheckup

See the tweet from Google

The NCR XR7 Water Test

The NCR XR7 Water Test

Just for Fun, Technical Tip

by Casey Albert

Is your hardware showing it’s age or have you been thinking about updating your registers for your store? NCR has just released some sleek new Hardware that will work as hard as you do. Look no further than the new NCR XR7!

Brains and brawn meet beauty to give you one impressive point-of-sale They say beauty is only skin deep, but not true with the NCR RealPOS™ XR7—Sure it has a sleek, modern appearance with its slim profile, zero-bezel design and elegant styling that sets it apart from other point-of-sale solutions, but that’s only part of the story. It’s powered by 4th generation Intel® Core™ processor technology—an energy efficient powerhouse—to deliver amazing performance and future-proof your investment. To top it off, it’s smart too. On-board “odometers” capture vital health and usage statistics so we can keep you up and running and keep your customers coming back for more.
Including:

  • Stylish and compact all-in-one retail solution with a sleek zero-bezel design
  • Extreme performance with 4th generation Intel Core Processor Family
  • Customer facing displays. Make sure that transactions are accurate, show rich graphics and encourage up-sells with these sleek new displays.
  • Secure, powered USB and serial peripheral connectivity

Watch the video below to see its durability and the new sleek design. This video features an environmental test conducted by spraying the NCR XR7 with water from the top down and from all sides to demonstrate its durability in the retail environment.

Or read the full brochure on the XR7.