One of your Most Important Assets

Have you ever thought about the power of your name in relation to referral marketing?  Indeed, anytime we refer an organization to one of our customers or business colleagues, a part of our reputation is going with it.  When we provide good referrals, we can be seen as an invaluable partner and resource to people. When our referrals are not so good, our name and reputation is negatively impacted.

In this marketplace, where customers are more cautious about spending money, think about how you can add value – and extend your own brand name and reputation – by providing a good referral to your customers and business community. 

And what an ideal time to promote some more vendors that I have had the pleasure of doing business with! These vendors are located in Washington and I highly recommend them!

NeverMind Marketing, Shaun Nestor, Owner

http://www.nevermindmarketing.com/

Shaun Nestor teaches business owners, entrepreneurs, consultants, and marketing professionals about how to increase their profits and brand awareness through the power of social media and internet marketing.  He is competent, knowledgeable, easy to work with and creative. Shaun brings a solid customer service orientation to each interaction and is also proficient in setting up websites and creating videos.

istarmedia, LLC, Ryan Graves, Owner

http://www.istarimedia.com/

Ryan Graves with istarmedia, LLC  provides a number of services, including video transfer, graphic design, CD & DVD duplication, book to CD recording, website design, and more!  He is knowledgeable, creative, efficient and professional. Ryan works with a high attention to detail and he serves his customers with excellence.

Create (and Manage) Expectations

How does creating and managing expectations help create a culture of contribution?   We will answer this question by taking a principle from customer service.   In the book, “50 Powerful Ideas You Can Use to Keep Your Customers” the author, Paul R. Timm, Ph.D, says that our expectations are “perceptual.”  They exist in our minds – and sometimes they are accurate and rational, but sometimes they aren’t.  When we are customers, we evaluate our service based on the entire experience – that goes beyond the core product or service purchased.  And guess what, our evaluation is based on our own expectations – did the service provider meet or exceed our expectations? (Paul R. Timm says that the key for gaining loyalty with our customers is not in meeting what the customer expects – but in exceeding it). 

Here’s the take-away. Your employees and staff members have expectations when they decide to work for your organization.  Part of your role as a leader, is to help your “customers” (your staff members) become engaged and committed and even “loyal” partners by constantly exceeding their expectations.  You want to go beyond what your staff anticipate or expect so that they feel positive and energized to go beyond what their job entails.  Here are some ways you can do this:

  • Make job expectations explicit. Clearly communicate the job requirements and how employees will be evaluated.
  • Provide frequent feedback for your team members so they know how they are doing in relation to the job expectations.
  • Recognize each employee’s efforts, especially those employees who excel and do work beyond what is expected
  • Get to know each staff member so that you can tailor your communication style to the individual
  • As you get to know each staff member, discover or learn what each one anticipates and expects from you as a manager – and if possible, over deliver
  • Review every “touch point” that your employee has with your department and find ways to deliver value (Some areas that you can look at include: how you orient a new employee, whether you are providing mentoring for new employees, what opportunities employees have to continue to learn and grow, the frequency of your one-on-one meetings with each employee, your consistency in providing performance feedback, recognition, etc.)

Perhaps you didn’t realize that your role as a leader has such a parallel to customer service. But your most important customer base isn’t those who purchase your products, it is those people who choose to work for you!  And being aware of the power of expectations can go a long way in ensuring your staff feels good about working for you and your team!

As we conclude this series, let’s review, the 7 ways you can create a culture of contribution in your work team, community association, church setting, or volunteer organization: 

  1. Hire the right people
  2. Engage your staff and your customers
  3. Enthusiastically promote others
  4. Offer benefits to be involved
  5. Recognize good work
  6. Reward contribution
  7. Create (and manage) expectations

Imagine the positive energy and productivity that you and your team could experience as you start to implement these steps to creating a culture of contribution!  So here’s my question, which one will you tackle first?

“I wouldn’t go anywhere Else!”

How many times have you said this about a vendor you have worked with?  Think about the times you have said this about an organization of which you are a “loyal fan”.  Got an example?  Now, think about that organization. Aren’t you actually thinking of one person – one incredible person who delivers top notch, value-added service to you?  This is the value of your front line staff that has moment-to-moment encounters with your customers every day. They have the privilege, and responsibility, of being “the face” that customer’s think of when they are saying “I wouldn’t go anywhere else!”

Jerry Akers, a salesperson with Women’s Shoes at Nordstrom is that person for me. I have been a customer of Jerry’s for years. He knows the kinds of shoes that work with my feet. He is efficient, professional, friendly, and he provides value-added service in every interaction. Just a few weeks ago, I needed to find shoes for a wedding. They needed to be flat, comfortable, and classy.  Jerry found them quickly, I tried them on, and 5 minutes later, I was out the door and onto my next errand.

What can you do to create loyal fans who “would never go anywhere else?”   I have two ideas: 1) make sure you train your sales force so they will be knowledgeable about your products and 2) hire those who are both passionate about and skilled in delivering exceptional service.

To move ahead today on idea #1, sign up and register for the 3-hour workshop Creating a Culture of Service: More Tools to turn your Fans into your Enthusiastic Salesforce that will be held on Tuesday, August 17th from 8-11:00 am at Celebration Church in Puyallup.

This is an advanced workshop on creating a service culture to equip you with what you need to transform your client-fans into a highly dedicated sales force!   After attending this three-hour workshop, you will walk away with:

  • Creative ways to provide value for your current customers
  • Easy-to-implement strategies to turn your satisfied clients into fans who become part of your sales force
  • A proven system to transform your organization into a culture of service

You will also receive an information-rich guide that is packed with easy-to-implement service skills that you and your staff can refer to long after the session.

Register TODAY at www.BusinessandLeadershipConnection.comBusiness and Leadership Connection

 

 

Engage your Customers

As you think about creating a culture of contribution, don’t forget the importance of engaging your customers.  Take note of my last BLOG entry where I shared a number of creative ways to engage your internal customers, your staff.  Here are a few ideas to engage your external customers, those that purchase your goods and services: 

  • Thank your customers for their service.
  • Thank your customers for their feedback (whether it was positive or negative – remember, a complaint is a gift!)
  • Ask your customers how service can be improved. 
  • Make it easy for your customers to communicate with you. (How accessible is a live human being to your customers when they call your organization?)
  • Appreciate their partnership with your organization (Provide gifts or “rewards” for your major donors or long time customers)
  • Understand service delivery by “walking in the shoes of your customers” and examining every touch point for service

Is it worth being “Gold?”

bsuiness travelerLike many of you, I travel a lot for my business and every year strive to earn “gold” status in my airlines frequent flier program.   And like many of you, I see the benefits of being a “preferred traveler” diminishing.  Yes, we are seeing cut backs in every industry, and the airline industry is no different.  And yet, what value is it for customers to engage in frequent flier programs, invest tens of thousands of dollars to a preferred airline, and be treated no different from any other customer?

Here are a few real-life scenarios of recent experiences I had as a “gold” customer on my preferred airline of travel:

  • Needing to introduce myself as a “gold” frequent flyer customer even though the airline gold program assured me that flight attendants would know my status
  • Little to no difference in wait times as some airports
  • Very surly attitudes on the part of attendants whenI asked them for the “benefits” that I supposedly should be receiving anyway
  • Standing in MVP gold lines and not being helped or acknowledged
  • Flights not having first class upgrades available
  • A dedicated phone number for “gold” members but representatives who are not knowledgeable in what services should be offered

But this BLOG is more than my venting about my experiences.  I write this to help you think about how you are treating your major donors and customers.  What ways are you telling them “thank you” for doing business with us?  What special perks are you providing to assure them that their status is worth it? What are you doing to make sure you are constantly creating innovative ways to provide benefits? (In this economy – companies need to get creative to offer benefits).  What are meaningful methods to remind your major customers that you appreciate their investment in your company?

How Large is your Salesforce?

How large is your Sales force?

HPI am a sales person for the Hewlet-Packard Company. No, I am not a part of their sales force but I could be – I “sell” HP when I rave about their products and service!  Here’s a rave – just the other day, my copy/printer/scanner machine had a paper jam. Immediately, I received a pop-up window on my computer that said, “Paper Jam Error” – with the statement- “Solutions are available” with a number of possible solutions listed, along with a phone number to technical service to contact if none of those worked. (One of them worked for me).  There was also some verbiage that said “If this event happens again, please check one of the following statements:

-Notify me again   

-Do not notify me again

-Notify me again only if a new solution is available

 

I love the products that I buy from HP – high quality, long-lasting, and well-made. But I also love the service that invariably goes along with their products.  Even when I don’t speak to a “live” service representative, the service is efficient, helpful, and effective. And that’s what I want as a customer!

 

So – here’s some questions- how big is your sales force? And is your sales team growing with satisfied customers?

Responding Quickly

impatientIn the days of texting, instant messaging, and tweeting, customers are getting more and more demanding about how long they will wait  – on the phone – getting an answer back – or a product they ordered.  Couple this trend with the fact that many businesses are operating with less than full workforce – we have a major customer service challenge!

 We’ve been talking about Garold’s service to me when I called to ask about a part for a drawer. This is great service – I received a call from Garold within hours from when I contacted him!  

 Perhaps one inexpensive way you can honor your customers is to create a culture where both external and internal customers will get a call back from a customer request within 24 hours.  Sound impossible?  Over 15 years ago, this was the philosophy that Federal Express taught every employee and their business results showed.  What can you do in your business to equip your “customers” with what they need to be able to respond quickly?   Here are some ideas:

  • Providing customer service reps with an easy reference tool to answer the most frequently asked questions
  • Training new employees on the value of responsiveness in their service to internal and external customers
  • Establishing easy performance measures for such things as how long a phone rings before someone answers, how long a customer needs to wait before an acknowledgement, how long a customer waits for a response

Creating a Service Experience

Drawer A few months ago, my husband and I had a wonderful experience of service.  I had purchased a bedroom set back in 2006 and unfortunately, one of the drawers in my dresser broke.  We went back to the store where I had originally bought the furniture, were told to order a new drawer glide, and ordered it from a hardware store, (who had ordered it from a local manufacturer, Accuride).  However, upon receiving the part, my husband couldn’t figure out how to attach the glide to the drawer.  I called Accuride and left a message with one of their representatives, Garold Harford.

What Garold did in just a few simple actions helped transform an ordinary service transaction into a memorable service experience.  In the next four excerpts we’ll be dissecting all the small behaviors that Garold did for us and I bet you can apply these actions into your own business.

 The question for you to ponder for today is this  – how can you transform ordinary service encounters into true service experiences?