Customer Satisfaction

Time to Pull a Few Heads?

Time to Pull a Few Heads?

I live in the arid southwestern region of the United States, Arizona, to be exact. I'm going on my third summer in my current home. The past two summers I have really struggled to keep my front lawn green. Yes, I have lawn. I know that some gravel and a few cacti would be more environmentally friendly, but a little patch of green lawn is more people friendly so I've kept it. Anyway, no matter what I did the sprinkler system for the front lawn never seemed to work right. The system uses little pop-up heads and they were constantly getting stuck, refusing to pop up and spray. Instead they would stay stuck in the down position, dribbling their water into a little puddle an d leaving the rest of the lawn to turn brown. I replaced many of them during the first two seasons thinking that they were just old and no longer worked. I also used my trimmer to shave the lawn directly around the heads thinking that maybe it was getting in the way. No good. The heads still refused to work.

This spring I decided to try a different tactic. It occurred to me that maybe the issue wasn't with the individual heads (they were all good heads) but with the overall system. More specifically, maybe I had too many heads resulting in not enough water pressure for the heads to perform correctly. I decided there would be no harm in testing that theory. I was ready to pull the whole system and start over with some different heads anyway. So I pulled 10 of the 23 heads. I pulled the heads and put a plug where they had been. I didn't move any of the remaining 13 around. I just strategically pulled 10 out of the midst of them. My lawn looks better than it has for the past 3 years! The remaining 13 heads all pop-up strong and have more than enough coverage to fill in for the 10 that are now in an old box in my garage.

What is the lesson for business? There are several, but I think the main one for entrepreneurs is to stay focused. There are a lot of opportunities out there--a lot of good opportunities--but being successful sometimes requires saying "no" even to good opportunities. So how is your focus? Too many sprinkler heads and not enough water pressure? Think about doing less--you could end up with a lot more green.

The growth of your business will be determined by what your customers say about it. Do you know what they are saying? Learn more

This Post Isn't Worth Reading

This Post Isn't Worth Reading

Interesting post on WorkPlayExperience about managing customer expectations to improve their experience. More specifically, lowering expectations so that customers end up being blown away. Whether you agree with the premise or not, the example used is must see material. A contestant on the British version of American Idol is a cell phone salesman that dreams of being an opera singer. You can see the judges rolling their eyes and then....

In our world of hyper-competition, keeping expectations low doesn't seem like an obvious strategy for success. Imagine the used car ad, "Come on down, but don't expect too much. Most of our cars are lemons." On the other hand, maybe something like that would be just unique and honest enough to bring them in! For more advice on lowering expectations check out Adam's post.

Customers who feel that you are listening to them are more likely to recommend you to a friend. How do your customers know that you are listening? Learn more

The Negative Impact of Word-of-Mouth

The Negative Impact of Word-of-Mouth

I listened to a story on NPR this afternoon about the negative impact of bad word-of-mouth, you can listen to it here. Very scary. This is part one of a two part story by Wendy Kaufman, hopefully the second part will bring out the positive aspects from good word-of-mouth.

The basis for the article comes from research by the Wharton School of Business. They found that 1 out of 2 customers has a customer service problem when they shop. Worse is the fact that they then tell friends, family, and colleagues about it and embellish the story in the retelling. The overall result is that 1/2 of those that hear the bad news story won't shop at those places they heard about. Ouch! Those that improve on the situation certainly create a business advantage.

It goes to show the need for businesses to hear from their customers, the bad news as well as the good. Hearing the bad news you can make efforts to correct the situation so that bad embellished stories won't be spread. You even have the opportunity to turn a detractor into a promoter. You can also get to the root cause and fix it to reduce future bad experiences.

If you are not regularly staying in touch with your customers someone else will. How do you stay in touch? Learn more

Complaints Happen

Complaints Happen

If you are in the service business--for that matter if you are in any business--no matter how hard you try to be perfect, sooner or later a customer is not going to be pleased with the service they receive. The inevitability of it shouldn't discourage you from trying to be perfect, but when a mistake happens the recovery should become job #1.

That dissatisfied customers tell their friends is a fact. How many they tell on average varies depending on the study referenced but it is somewhere between 4 and 10. One study notes that those they tell are 5 times less likely to come to your business than the original dissatisfied customer. Ouch.

But there is hope. According to Restaurant Hospitality "Rule-of-thumb numbers show that roughly 60 percent of complaining customers will eat at your restaurant again if you resolve their service issue, and almost all customers (96 percent in some studies) will come back if you solve their problem to their satisfaction and do so quickly."

What is the best way to resolve issues? Hospitality cites a study called “An Examination of Guest Complaints and Complaint Communication Channels: The Medium Does Matter!” out of Cornell University School of Hotel Management. It concludes that nearly fifty percent of unhappy guests want to talk to the boss. Free drinks and comp meals are nice, but what they really want is to let the boss know.

So how easy do you make it for your customers to let you know about the service? You can't always be in your business. Do you make it easy for them to contact you? You might be surprised what you learn and you will certainly have the opportunity to "save" good customers.

Plug from our sponsor: The Promoterz system is one easy way to make sure customers always have a direct link to you and you have a direct and convenient way to respond to them. The system invites every customer to provide feedback online and immediately notifies you and your managers of feedback as it is received.

The average American consumer discusses brands 56 times a week. Are they discussing yours? Learn more

When "I don't know" is a Good Answer.

When "I don't know" is a Good Answer.

Had a chance to go to lunch with Tom Miller yesterday. Tom has been in the franchising industry for years and is an Executive Vice President with Murphy Business. In his own estimation, he is a "legend in his own mind." Actually, he has an extraordinary sales record and is considered The Authority on franchising throughout the business brokerage community.

As we talked about the selling process, specifically to small business owners, he noted that in the "early days" he sold direct mail. He learned quickly, that nobody wanted to hear about his business, but they loved to talk about their own. So when he'd meet with a likely prospect and they asked what he was selling, he would respond, "I don't know yet. Tell me about your business." As he learned about the business, it became obvious if there was need--and what he was selling.

So how much do you know about your customers' or your potential customers' businesses? Is learning about them part of your sales process or are you more focused on making sure they learn about you? Are you learning enough? According to Tom here is a key indicator: "If you need a closing technique you haven't learned enough."

Promoterz is the hands-free, word-of-mouth marketing service that takes care of the details so you can focus on business. Learn more
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We search the business blog world looking for posts that illustrate principles, or "Seeds", that if followed, or "planted", will help small businesses grow. We list them here for your convenience. Enjoy.

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