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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.

Create New Memories…

When my father passed away it nearly did my mother in. He had not only been a loyal devoted spouse, but her best friend. She felt bad going to all the places they had visited together now alone. The memories of their past flooded her mind.

I advised her to go there again with someone else or alone and create NEW memories. They wouldn’t replace but would add to the ones she had with Dad.

When you reinvent yourself it might be wise to create new memories to add to the ones (or replace them – your choice) from the past. Experience your environment in a new way. Discover something you haven’t noticed or experienced previously.

When reinventing your business, work on creating new experiences for the people you target or market to. What can you do for them that no one (especially you) have done for them before?

Delta Airlines took in the elite mileage customers from NorthWest when they acquired the company. They created a whole new level of service and perks for the “Diamond” level they created. They added perks to the other levels (Platinum, Gold and Silver). Delta created new memories to add to and replace the previous ones they were known for.

How can you create new memories and reinvent yourself?

The Business You SHOULD Be In…

Do you welcome complaints for avoid them at all costs?  Do you listen to them, or do you try to defend your policies and actions? You have choices when people complain to you. It all goes to how you view their comments and your own attitude toward what they are saying.

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. If you feel they need to be educated, then they aren’t the ones who need the education.

You do.

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, that is.

Will You Adapt Next?

I never knew a world without television. The medium became a household item about the time I was born. My daughter, 19 has never seen a rotary-dial phone (or channel selector on a television) except in a museum exhibit. The Class of 2013 has never known a time when luggage didn’t have wheels attached to it.

So many changes take place in your business and industry that you have to stay ahead of the curve to stay in business. For instance, there will be a day when your customers will do most of their transactions either with an app on their phone or a card swiper on yours.

My assistant’s sons attend a school in South Carolina where all of the students have iPads and use them in various ways to do homework, record lessons and look up information on the internet during class.

While meeting with some union leaders lately, they told me that their members stay in touch through their smart phones than through printed or email newsletters. Blogs are replacing memos and post-it notes.

What is changing in your sector or industry that will make you the dinosaur in just a few years? What are you planning to do to stay ahead of your eager and more connected customers or members?

The clock is ticking. Changes are taking place.

You may choose to stay in the lead, or move out of the way for your competitors who are ahead of the changes. It is no time to play it safe or do business the way you always have.

While you read this, someone was adapting to a changing business climate and making necessary adjustments to capture more business.

Will you adapt next?

Is it Time to Re-Boot?

I heard a comedian say several years ago that if Microsoft made cars, they would stop working for no reason; we would simply restart them on the road and drive along as if nothing were wrong with that.

Funny, but true! You know you can solve most computer freezes, cable/satellite disruptions or malfunctions on your cell phone by simply turning them off and back on again.

It is called rebooting. It gives a fresh start to the process.

Reinvention is rebooting your life, your career, your sales, your marketing, your target group or your management. Most leaders try to fix everything when it freezes up.

What in your life would get better if you just stopped trying to fix it and simply restarted or rebooted it?


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