April Fool’s!

April Fool’s Day is the first Day of April and is traditionally a day of practical jokes and harmless pranks.  This can be a lot of fun and there are those that go to great lengths to pull off a good joke or prank in the pursuit of a good laugh.  However, when it comes to delivering customer expectations, there is no room for fooling around.  Everybody in a customer centric organization is responsible for keeping the customer satisfied and that is how to make a customer smile.  This means internal as well as external customers for we should treat both the same.  Think about it, if we are all in the habit of responding to our fellow employees in a customer like fashion, just how much better will we be when the external customer is involved?  And of course, in a customer centric organization, all activity has the end result of making the external customer smile.

So Happy April Fool’s Day – have some fun, make people laugh and keep the customer smiling J

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!  It’s that time of year again where we reflect on how the last 12 months went and what we want to change for the 12 months ahead.  Many a resolution is established and then promptly forgotten in January as we make excuses to ourselves why we can’t begin yet and then slip back into our old habits.  And why do we wait for a new calendar year to begin?  Ok, financial goals based on fiscal tax calendars are understandable, but why wait for personal or business behaviors targeted at self-improvement?  Think about it, anytime is a good time to set on a path of improvement whether it be personally or business related.  So go ahead, set those goals, not just today, but every day that a new goal makes sense to establish.  Let’s say we realize in March, June, September or even in December that our sales pitch is stale and delivered monotonously, then that is a good time to establish a goal to change.  Or how about in April or July we realize our days are chocked full of too many activities and not enough results?  Resolve to change right then and there – lean out your activities to those driving results and perhaps look for new value added activities.

 So again I say, Happy New Year!  Make your resolutions today, tomorrow and any day that it makes sense. You just may find your personal, philanthropic and business lives become more enjoyable and productive if we focus on continual improvements and not just annual goals.

Planning For Game Time.

NFL Pre-Season in upon us and fans are getting a feel for how the 2015-16 season may play out.  However, the games don’t really matter and as a fan, I am only partially engaged as I watch, it’s more like background noise while I’m checking e-mails or surfing the web.  The games are played more for the players trying to make the team and the coaches trying to figure out their 53 man roster.   Injuries also happen in these games and the grimace is even worse as we realize it happened during a meaningless game.  I just want the season to start and get to the real games.

This causes me to reflect on our contact with customers and how we manage our activities with them.  How often are we engaging in activity that is more show for ourselves or our own organizations versus trying to add real value to the scarce contact time we have with them.  How often do we injure our relationship in a meaningless contact that could have been better thought out in terms of customer value?  Sure, creative marketing contact to help get customers excited about the actual sales call is wonderful, but that initial sales call is not the pre-season, it is game on and so is every customer contact thereafter.

Plan for activity that is value added for the customer and not just checking off a To-Do list to impress ourselves with metrics.  Remember the adage:  “Don’t confuse activity with accomplishment” –it is new sales, repeat sales and ultimately sales growth that is truly important, and we get there by using our valuable customer time to drive value for them, and therefore, ourselves.

Keep In Touch.

I just attended a family wedding and I saw friends and family that I haven’t seen for a while, some not since a family funeral a few years ago. Weddings and funerals, joy and sorrow, odd allies, but they do seem to bring people together. Now I ask, how are our customers? Do we only visit or pay attention when there is a pending order or a customer complaint? Both usually gets our attention, but then what? Do we wait again for one or the other? I think we all know that we should stay in contact with our customers on a continuing basis, regardless of pending orders or complaints. The correct frequency varies depending on the customer, their wishes as well as their activity, but definitely not just during a joyful (hopefully) or sorrowful event. Keep in touch, keep them informed and show we care, that is how customer relationships last and stay fresh. And even better, it is how they remember us when that joyful opportunity arises again.

Happy New Year!

Well, it’s 2015 and the start of a brand new year and the age old tradition of New Year Resolutions begin to come into play.  Typically, many of us personally resolve to lose weight, exercise more and spend more time with our family.  Why not the same for our business:

  • Lose weight – Let’s get rid of the “fat” in our business practices and drop that uncomfortable “weight” that is holding us back from better performance.  Internally it could be having meetings that are not productive, involving more people than needed in problem solving, slow moving inventory, archaic business practices to avoid change, and of course, sub-par employees that we keep because we like them or because we want to avoid confrontation.  Externally, we could have suppliers that hold us back but we just haven’t gotten around to replacing them and even customers that are more effort than profits.  The latter is typically when we range too far in establishing our true target market segment which raises the cost of doing business.
  • Exercise more – Let’s keep active and change our business habits to one of focusing on results.  Sitting in front of the TV does little to reduce our waist line and neither does waiting for the phone to ring to close a sale or waiting for someone else to develop ideas and actions to make us more competitive.  Pick up that phone, the car keys or the plane ticket and close those sales and actively become part of the solution and not just one looking for problems for someone else to handle.
  • Spend more time with our family – Let’s spend time engaging with our co-workers, helping each other as needed and seeking help when needed.  And most definitely, spend more time with customers, you know, those people who actually are the reason we come to work each day.  Let’s not think we know what our customer want to buy from us, let’s know what they want.

May we all have a Productive, Safe and Happy 2015!