This time of the year, most businesses tend to power down a bit (not all mind you) and it give us time to plan for 2018. Bad idea.
Once upon a time there was a coach. He woke up every morning at 4:30 AM and worked until 5 PM. Some days he worked at his office in Stamford — some days he worked at his home office.
Some days he coached all day long with wonderful clients — some days he was on the road connecting with old and new friends to build his business.
During these wonderful times, this coach would make a small detour and pick up a few foodstuffs for his family (it's the least he could to to help his ravishingly beautiful and infinitely smarter wife).
This day, he stopped off at a supermarket, let's call it Supermarket 'A'. Everywhere Rich went in Supermarket 'A', if he saw an employee stocking the shelf or walking by, they would greet him with a smile and ask if they could help him find something. Many times, they would comment on an item he was purchasing and offer positive comments on how to use it. The store was clean, well-stocked, and had a homey, comfortable feel about it.
Supermarket 'A' provides a station where one could sample new foods and most of the time, the offerings were incredible where the coach would just have to buy the spotlighted item. And today he would do just that.
The best part of this coach's visit was checking out. First, there were three registers open and one of the employees immediately caught the coach's eye and asked, "Ready to check out? I can take you over here!". As they unloaded his cart and scanned each item, they engaged the coach in conversation about some of the items he was purchasing and how his day was going so far. They profusely thanked the coach for bagging and encouraged him to fill out a ticket (a drawing for a free gift certificate) because the coach brought and used his own bags.
With a hearty good-day from the Supermarket 'A's employee at the register, the coach had an extra spring in his step rolling his carriage to the car.
The next day, the coach had to stop at another supermarket, let's call it Supermarket 'B'. Everywhere Rich went in Supermarket 'B', his aisle was blocked by multiple large, wheeled pallets full of boxes. The employees unpacking the boxes all had a unique air that the coach would describe as 'depressed and angry'. They rarely moved out of the way, grunted when they had to and filled in each aisle making travel a torture course for every shopper. Each aisle was dirty and the lighting resembled the inside of a refrigerator — blinding, florescent white.
When the coach reached the pharmacy to pick up a prescription (no worries - it's an allergy) — he had to wait in line (5 customers deep) and watch the pharmacist work behind the counter, answer phone calls, and ultimately step out and assist the next customer. Where it should have taken the coach 2-3 minutes to complete a simple pick-up transaction, he was in line for approximately 12 minutes. That's a long time to spend standing in line. Honest.
Finally, when it was time to check out, there were only three (out of 15 registers) open and all three had lines 5-6 people deep. The coach chose the self-checkout register, scanned his frequent shopper card to get normal pricing on his items, and began to unload, self-scan, and pack up his items in his bag. Guess what? Three items in, the scanner encountered a problem and required a manager to login, reset, and allow the coach to purchase his five items. Unfortunately, there was no manager to be found, so the coach had to wait until one appeared from their break.
With a hearty FU from Supermarket 'B', the coach had an extra slog in his step and rising, burning anger in his neck rolling his carriage to the car.
All kidding aside, what's going on here?
- One establishment gets it, one doesn't (or just doesn't care).
- One has engaged and enthusiastic employees, and one doesn't.
- One has the layout and logistics of selling food nailed, and one doesn't.
- One had a comfortable, homey feel and the other a dirty, clinical atmosphere.
- One had reasonable pricing and great quality, the other high-prices and questionable quality.
Now you might ask, why does the coach shop at Supermarket 'B' and not all the time at Supermarket 'A'? Proximity and convenience. 'A' is far away and takes 30 minutes of drive time. 'B' is five minutes away.
There are a number of lessons to learn here today:
- Availability and convenience do play a major part in consumer's choice. Time sometimes trumps quality, service, and price.
- The way you treat your customers, with even the simplest of transactions, impacts their shopping experience. Bad employees do hurt you.
- Even though people want choice and change, they also like consistency. They don't want to be inundated with 100's of items. Make it easy and simple.
- Making customers wait should be avoided, not embraced by your organization. Even DisneyWorld makes waiting fun.
What's the moral of the story? The coach should (and will) plan out his shopping each week and endeavor to hit Supermarket 'A' on a regular basis.
“Love your family, work super hard, live your passion.” - Gary Vaynerchuk, from Crush It! Great words from Gary in one of my favorite books (I require all of my clients to read). He is spot on with this one.
See how he constructs the quote — Family — Work — Passion. Not the other way around.
Unfortunately, many of the C-Level clients I coach work it the other way and find they're not happy, they have a shitty marriage, they never see their kids or their kids hate them, and their only passion in life is putting in mucho hours on the job. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
Yes — you've got the three M's — Money, Mansion, Mercedes (or Maserati) — but deep down, you're not happy. Something is missing and time is running out.
So here goes — you can have all three — it's just how you look at them AND how you prioritize them. I am currently working with the CEO/Owner of a top engineering firm and we're currently spinning the sequence around to help him enjoy the benefits of his labor. He's built the organization from the ground up and now it's time to enjoy life!
NUMBER ONE RULE — Family Comes First. No exceptions.
I'm not saying to fill up your calendar with family-oriented activities and let work suffer. Within reason, try to start your workweek by making time for your wife/partner, kids, friends, etc. If there is a baseball game, a romantic dinner, a morning run, hiking at the park — make sure it is recorded and blocked off on your calendar FIRST.
Again, within reason — I understand you work for a living. But taking a vacation day once in awhile is fine, even encouraged. Leave work early to catch your son's or daughter's soccer game. Come in late because you took your family to an early breakfast at your favorite diner. You know, the one where you all sit together with no TV, no smartphones and just eat and talk.
ACTION: Get your assistant in your office right now and start blocking off your calendar. TODAY.
NUMBER TWO RULE — Work Super Hard. But work smart.
I know you work hard. That's how you got to your position in the first place. But what got you to the captain's chair probably won't help you stay happy there. You worked hard, put in the thousands of hours of blood, sweat and tears. You made all the right decisions (and a few stinkers). You made the right connections with the right people. YOU HUSTLED.
Now it's time to sit in the captain's chair and start delegating even more. Don't act like Captain Kirk and accompany the away team on every mission, stay on-board the Enterprise and direct your resources in strategic ways. What got you here isn't going to keep you here for very long without compromising your home life, your happiness, and your health. You're not getting any younger either.
ACTION: Look at all your meetings and start culling them down by 10%. Stop reading every email/text that comes in. Have your assistant monitor your information flow and decide what get priority. They're the gatekeeper — ensure they guard the gate.
Cut down on one-on-ones with everyone — start to develop a sharper pyramid reporting structure with very few people touching you (no more than 5-7) Remember the Godfather? He had three direct reports — his Consigliere (who died - morte), and two Capos — Clemenza and Tessio. That's it.
NUMBER THREE RULE — Live Your Passion. But find what your REAL passion is.
Too many C-Level executives hit the big show and start to abuse the passion that got them there. They forget the fun, innovation, excitement and give in to boredom, politics, and hitting the targets for their buddies on the board. The world becomes pedantic and the passion flows out of them.
They try to make safe decisions and safe moves, and impact their business, their organization, and their customers. They prioritize their bonus, their safety, and their reputation over what's really important. I know it's hard, but sometimes you have to sacrifice the temporary pleasures to fully engage with what really matters. It's not all money (and if you believe it is - READ THIS - another mandatory book I recommend to C-Level clients).
ACTION: Sit down and assess what your real passions are right at this moment. What gets your motor running? What gets you excited about life? What motivates you to do GREAT work? You need to re-establish a connection with your passion and make sure you fill up your enthusiasm gas tank every day.
Are you crushing it every day?
"No excuses. Make it happen." - Rich Gee
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I'm feeling guilty today. The funny thing is . . . I shouldn't. Every Tuesday, like clockwork, I attend my networking/sales team meeting with approximately 50 people.
It's called BNI (Business Networking International), a worldwide organization where businesspeople meet to learn about their services and deliver hot referrals (CLIENTS) each week. I find it powerful for my business (it delivers 40-45% of my clients each year) and wouldn't miss it for the world. In fact, if you have a business or a product to sell, BNI is THE place to go to increase your bottom line.
Today, I'm missing my weekly meeting. I had to double-book a client over my meeting and could not schedule it for any other time this week. They HAD to meet at this time. And I did ALL the right things a BNI member should do:
I notified the leadership team of my absence.
I replace my open spot for the week with a great substitute who will do my commercial.
I let the visitor host team know of my sub so they could list them on our weekly roster.
And I did it all on-time, prior to our meeting.
I still feel guilty. I feel that I'm letting my colleagues down even though I've taken all the steps to ensure my absence is covered this week. Why do I feel guilty?
I feel like I'm letting my BNI colleagues down.
I feel that I'm missing out on something good.
That regular burst of enthusiasm I receive from attending will not be there this week.
Honestly, I shouldn't feel guilty. NOT ONE BIT. Why? Guilt is all about the PAST. And guess what? There's nothing I can do about it. NOTHING. It's in the past.
I've made a decision, I've prepared my absence — I've taken all the steps to ensure I shouldn't feel guilt about missing my meeting. So it's time to confront my guilt and realize I have to live in the present and move on from this 'fake' feeling. Why?
It's holding me back — I'm focusing on something that really doesn't matter.
I'm expending mental and physical energy towards a belief that is not true.
I'm not focusing on the present or planning for the future. This is where I can make serious progress towards my goals.
So the next time you feel GUILTY, remember it's all in the past and there's nothing you can really do about it. Take that guilt and repurpose its energy into the present and future. You will find yourself working faster, better, and with more enthusiasm.
Guilt is a mechanism for us to remember past mistakes so we don't repeat them — don't let it paralyze you.
I'D LOVE TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR GUILT AT WORK. LET ME KNOW BELOW.
I ordered new running shoes from Zappos the other day. If you've ever ordered from Zappos — you'll know they sometimes don't have the best prices. But they do deliver the best customer service.
When I say "CUSTOMER SERVICE", it isn't specific to business owners. If you work in corporate, CUSTOMER SERVICE is critical — you have CUSTOMERS above you, along side you, and below you. When you work at an organization, it's formal Human Resources name is "interpersonal communication".
To survive, you need to keep your customers engaged, happy, and wanting more of your products and services. So without further ado — here they are:
1. Deliver WOW during the whole process.
From the initial screens, to the multiple angles, to the highly-descriptive videos Zappos makes you feel right at home choosing your merchandise. Everything is clear, and open and they really don't try to hard-sell you. In addition, they promote their core values at the bottom of every page to let the customer know what philosophies are guiding every business interaction.
When I say WOW, I want you to look at everything you do for your boss, customer, or client. At every juncture, how can you do a little bit better? How can you elevate every touchpoint and anticipate their needs? How can you reach out and make every interaction more streamlined and pleasurable?
2. Make the customer feel special by personalizing the process.
Zappos remembers ALL of your purchases. A year after I bought a pair of Merrell Jungle Mocs, I received an email to let me know it's been a year and if I'd like to buy another pair. Although my pair is in good shape and I didn't need another pair just yet — the thought of receiving a card is impressive.
When was the last time you reached out to your current client base to remind them of a service or product? How about a new service or product? How about a simple card appreciating their business? You can do almost anything and make the customer feel special.
3. Be responsive. 4. If something goes wrong, ask questions and listen. 5. If you screwed up, give them a token of appreciation.
I had a slight snafu with one of my orders — I ordered it on the regular Zappos site and not the VIP site (we order a lot of shoes). The end result — shoes I thought were arriving that day were delayed by a few days. On the phone, the Zappos representative was helpful and was able to expedite the shipment. In addition, they sent me an email with a $25 credit to apply to my next purchase. WOW.
If something goes wrong — fix it immediately. Don't wait for it to 'go away'.
First, you need to be instantly accessible to allow your clients to access you. All of my clients have a direct line to me — so they can either call or email me. If it's an emergency, I get back the them ASAP. If it's just a question, 24 hours is fine. But I am there — they don't sit in my inbox for weeks or are relegated to my voicemail for eternity. I get back to them. And they can access me instantly.
Second, if there is something wrong, ask questions and then LISTEN. Most people try to fix the problem without listening to the entire story. Your customer first and foremost want you to empathize with their situation. So your job is to ask questions for clarification and listen to them until they run out of steam. Then empathize with them — "I'm so sorry to hear that happened." or "Let's see what we can do to solve your problem."
Finally, if YOU screwed up — apologize and give them a token of appreciation. A discount, a gift, flowers, take them out to lunch, whatever. A small token of acknowledgement and a gift will not only go the distance, they will be your customer forever.
What do you do every day to deliver the best customer service to your clients?
When you run your own business, it's hard to keep the sales funnel healthy and moving with new referrals, prospect and hopefully, clients! Most people forget about REFERRALS. Why?
- You hate to ask for things from other people.
- You don't want to come off as someone who NEEDS referrals.
- You know it sounds like begging for clients.
- And many, many others.
Bottom line — to run a successful business, you need constant and regular referrals.
To get those . . . YOU NEED TO ASK FOR REFERRALS.
I've linked to one of my most requested articles: Get Referrals NOW™ — 13 simple steps to start a referral flood to your business.
Each of the 13 steps have a dedicated action item to get you on your way to highly qualified and powerful referrals.
Some of the best steps:
- Review your past referrals.
- Be referable.
- Train your troops.
- Reward your referrers.
This report will radically change your 2013 business.
Check it out HERE.
I'm talking about fairness.
Many business clients ask me how they can review their business and develop a simple marketing plan. There are many great books and gurus out there who will help you do this - unfortunately it takes a lot of time and effort. Not any more.
Let me state something right off the bat — I love Gary Vaynerchuk. A little secret of mine — when I want to get pumped up for the day or I'm feeling down, I pop in Gary's Crush It audiobook. His enthusiasm, energy, and ideas blow me away every time.
It's the typical hype cycle. A new product or service is introduced. It grows exponentially to take over an industry. Everyone loves it. Accordingly, they all can't stop talking about it. It goes viral and the media picks up on it. It gets bigger. Then people find that it will not solve ALL their problems. They begin to talk it down because it's 'in' to talk it down. The media picks up on it again, whips around 180° and begins to tear it down. Then at some point, it all levels/evens out.
Starbucks is at this point now — they rode the hype roller coaster over the past number of years. But I still love them. Why?
Two things happened to me during the time between Christmas and New Year's Eve that clearly defined what I call Good & Bad Customer Service.
I wear Allen Edmonds shoes. The are quite expensive (most run around the $300/pair pricepoint) — but they are really well made. Also, they are the most comfortable shoes I've ever worn. Why? They're handmade in Wisconsin and they don't use nails — they hand-sew every shoe (check this video out). I've had my pair of wing-tips for the past 15 years.
I have a lot of friends who lost their job and quickly took up with a company that positioned them as an account executive. Unfortunately, when they were 'trained' and 'graduated', they found that it's a cold and cruel world out there. With the exception of their family and friends, they had to cold call all types of people to hawk their wares.
Entrepreneurs are finding the fast-rising microblogging site to be a useful tool for reaching out to customers.