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Who’s Got Your Back?

Your people are on your side. If you show that you have their back they will fight for you in return.

I was at a national conference talking with some employees at a trade show.  One asked how she could get me to come in and teach a teamwork and support workshop to their company.  I asked could I call her and talk to the right person.  “Call me, but let me talk to him.  My boss is the major hindrance to our company’s growth. He wants teamwork, but he promotes territorialsim by his actions and policies.” She really wants to make him look good but he seems to be fighting any transparency and lacks trust in she and her associates.

Why?  Often the people who want us to succeed are frustrated by a lack of permission to do what they do best. They just aren’t trusted by you. They want success but their hands are tied.

Your employees want you to succeed because your success is the key to their success. Why wouldn’t you want to listen to their feedback and comments, if they are for your own benefit?

You don’t have to prove you are smart or more business savvy to them. In fact, if you feel you do, you are in more trouble than you thought.

They will have your back if you have theirs!

Is Your Business “Easy?”

Mutual of Omaha at one time had only one competitor on price for their Medicare Supplement policies: AARP. But MofO sold their clients on the easy process to file a claim. While AARP required you to call a toll-free number to submit a claim, MofO sold the local agency as a more convenient process. They led in sales in almost every market.

People were willing to pay more for the ease of service than the less expensive inconvenience of calling a stranger.  In fact my apartment management has an easy process for turning in maintenance issues. Turn in your request online and you are rewarded with faster service. In fact, as I write this I am turning in my maintenance request online during a flight over Oklahoma (and that’s another “Ease of Service” story!) turning in a maintenance request. It will be handled and corrected by the time I get home tonight.

That was easy!

Servicing your customers and clients should be easy. If not, they won’t be your customers or clients much longer. Someone else will always find a better, faster, cheaper or easier way to do business. Your business that was once secure!

Ease of Application

There is a process we go through in filling out an application, contract or agreement that seems to take forever…

In 2009 a rural community bank was in the news because they made application for loans easier for their customers. It is a perfect example of the recession driving an innovative CEO to move his market to an area that no one else is targeting.

Mendenhall, Mississippi is a town of a bit more than 2,500 people. Peoples Bank of Mississippi has stood since 1908. But in 2009, when lending to small-town businesses was at a record low, the bank kept giving out loans. It kept lending (even though new loans backed by the government stimulus offered little for the bank) — no interest and deferred payments. Peoples Bank became known for making more interest-free loans than any other bank in the country. While other banks were shutting their doors to such loans, they kept their doors open!

What were the results? Peoples Bank is now third in the entire country in offering small business owners loans. Bank president and CEO Dennis Amman said, “We looked at it and said it’s going to take work on our part; we might not even make money off it in the short run, but in the long run it’s going to be good for customers, so it’s going to be good for us.”

Applying for your business is a separate entity from selling or servicing.

Don’t you agree?

Policies vs. Perks

Policies are about YOU, not your customers. They favor YOU. They protect YOU.  In fact, they are quoted to customers you really don’t want back.

Perks are about the CUSTOMER. They favor frequent business. They make people feel great and make you look good. They are quoted to customers who you really want back.

Which are your customers encountering? Which are you quoting? What are they hearing you say to them?

Fix It!

Guys like to fix things… If it’s broke, I prefer to fix it, right away…not wait on it to get better or ponder the consequences.

If there is a leaky faucet, a loose cabinet door, a squeaky door hinge, a faulty electrical appliance… I want to fix it NOW. It is in my makeup.

Now that is fine around the house. But when I encounter a billing process or an endless voice mail loop that I can’t fix, I get really frustrated. The other night I called Best Buy to check on a new laptop they were preparing for me. They didn’t have an option to press for “Get Information on Your New Laptop.” I tried pressing 0 for receptionist, but was told by the recording that option was not valid. It took a deceptive choice for a live salesperson to get someone to answer their phone. I had to listen to Christmas music for three minutes while waiting (Guess Mother’s Day is over so let’s rush the Season along).

If your customers are complaining about the service your render. Fix it!
If your prospects can’t get you on the phone to answer a simple question. Fix it!
If people are leaving you for your competitor because their service is better. Fix it”
If men and women constantly ask you for the same information they can’t find easily on your web site. Fix it!

There are a LOT of companies out there who are willing to fix customer problems that you assume people will continue to put up with. If you don’t fix it; the others will (or already have).

Are You an Enabler?

I met with a business leader for lunch. His sales staff isn’t performing at the top of their game. “They send me service requests constantly that they should handle and I enable them to meet customer needs.” But they aren’t excelling at sales. Why do you think that happens?

“What do enablers do?” I asked. He said he didn’t mean it that way. He meant that he was helping them fulfill customer needs. He reluctantly said, though that enablers allow dependent people to remain dependent. They “enable” alcoholics, drug addicts, abusive individuals and poor sales people to continue their patterns.

“That may be what you are doing.” I said. It is…

If you are allowing your employees to under perform and assisting them in any way, you are enabling them. Stop enabling them and they may drop their bad patterns.

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Are your customers complaining?  Do you hear what they are saying to you?

The greatest way to know what your customers want from you is to ask, “What are they complaining to me about?” Customer complaints are a gold mine of profits for you. In fact, you need to know the #1 complaint of your top customers.

Maybe you already do.

Perhaps it is keeping you up at night. Maybe it just won’t go away, no matter how much you ignore it. If that is so, then solve it for them! When you do two things will happen.

First, you will begin to dominate your market. Your customers will turn to you to have this need met – and they will tell others about you. This will make you the only one meeting that need. Everyone will turn to you for the resolution when they have this problem or complaint.

And second, you will sleep more. Start viewing your complaining customers as your greatest source of feedback. They are the lifeline of your business.

If your customers want something from you that is reasonable and will make more money for you, why wouldn’t you want to satisfy them? I talk to leaders every week who refuse to offer services to their customers that they COULD offer, but they choose not to. It’s against their “policy.”

What your customers want is to be heard, not educated. Get into the listening business and quit giving “solutions” to problems that don’t exist. You will find you will become much better at solving problems in a language everyone understands…

… everyone who wants to be heard.

Lesson from Hurricane Sandy: Are You Prepared for the Impossible?

We have all watched the tragedy unfolding in the middle Atlantic states… From New York and New Jersey to West Virginia. The storm wrecked havoc on lives and property.

It begs questions:

  • How do you prepare for a hurricane to hit New Jersey or New York in late October?
  • How do you prepare for a 7.7 magnitude earthquake in British Columbia?
  • How do you prepare for a tsunami in Japan?

Simple: Most people don’t. No one expects these disasters… But they happen whether you are prepared or not!
There have been hurricanes that devastated ill-prepared locations out of season: The “No Name Storm” in South Florida, 1993.
There have been earthquakes in every one of the 50 states in the US (Charleston, SC in 1886).
There have been tidal waves and tsunamis that came unexpectedly (Hilo, Hawai’i in 1946).

Don’t think your business is any different… It isn’t “recession-proof,” customer revolt-proof or injury-proof. A disaster or “storm” can happen anytime. You aren’t too big to fail; you are too big to be ignorant of failure.

Rethink everything you do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Prepare for the impossible and be ready to act in an emergency. Because emergencies still happen today…

As the Boy Scouts taught me many years ago: Be prepared.  In a day when seconds count, don’t respond in minutes.

Three Points to Make YOUR Point

The greatest speech in American history took under three minutes to deliver. It moved the speaker who preceded it so much he asked for a personal hand-written copy. You can see that copy today in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, IL.

The Gettysburg Address was short, succinct and can be summarized in three parts:

  • Here is what I know – This country was founded on the premise that “all men are created equal.”
  • Here is how I know it – Now we are involved in a great civil war to test that premise.
  • Here is what it means to you – It is for us to continue the fight to see whether this nation will endure.

When you give a presentation, you should remember those three emphases:

1. Here is what I know – State the point you are trying to make (The bolder, then better).
2. Here is how I know it – Tell a relevant story or give an example that applies to the point or your audience.
3. Here is what it means to you – Tell what you want people to take away for their own benefit (action to be taken is even better).

In sales, service, presentations it is best if you can illustrate your point with these three keys for relevance. Make it about THEM, not you. Make it relevant to the participants’ lives. Make it a takeaway that they can literally take away.

Stand back and see if anyone remembers. We remember Lincoln’s words to this day.

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July 2022


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