Customer Satisfaction

Stupid Things Stupid Businesses Do

Stupid Things Stupid Businesses Do

Of course businesses aren't stupid, in fact the people in the businesses aren't stupid (I'm being kind), but they become stupid as the people in them act stupidly. How so? I’m about to explain. Before I begin I must say that I have been inspired by Pam Slim’s Open letter to CEOs, COOs, CIOs and CFOs across the corporate world.

Stupid businesses don’t grow right. They treat their customers badly. It’s likely that they don’t want to but they do because they have an environment of treating people badly. Employees are treated badly and they, in turn, treat the customers in like manner.

  1. They don’t care about the customer
  2. They’re rude or inattentive
  3. They do bad work

I know there are reasons they act this way. I was in a store recently and the cashier was so worn down that she looked like a zombie. Glassy-eyed, she hardly knew I was there. She couldn’t ring a particular item up right and offered no solution to the problem. No help. It was fun to pull her out of it and find a smile, but that was for a moment and then she was back to longing for the day to end.

Last week my daughter saw an employee at a Subway drive everyone out of the building. Literally. “I’ve had it with this place!”, she said. Once she got everyone out she locked the door!

That comes from above. Managers are above. Stupid managers make stupid businesses. Stupid managers:

  1. Overwork employees
  2. Command in all things
  3. Don’t accept feedback or suggestions
  4. Frequently criticize and nit pick
  5. Rarely give praise or recognition
  6. Lazily expect subordinates to do their work for them
  7. Yell and act in a mean manner

That creates an atmosphere for stupid employees. I have a son that works at a grocery store. His manager takes 10-15 smoke breaks a day. He comes back and finds that a yogurt container isn’t facing the right way and goes ballistic. It’s sad. Another son works in a clothing department. His manager always has it in her mind that the women’s part of the department is trashed. “Get over there and clean it up, it’s terrible!” Whether it is or not, that’s her message. It’s never right, it’s never good, and she doesn’t want to hear any different.

Above managers in the small business world are owners. Stupid small business owners make stupid small businesses. Let me put emphasis on small, I don’t mean small in size here, but small in quality and integrity.

  1. They provide no real incentives to perform well
  2. They are self serving without real regard for employees or customers
  3. They underpay, giving only what they have to

I’ve seen a business owner pit manager against employees, lie to customers, negotiate in bad faith, and do all things for their own aggrandizement and benefit. The business started in a great, innovative way but became small because of the owner.

Stupid businesses are remarkable but not in a positive way. The famous line from Forest Gump is true, “Stupid is as stupid does.” Stupid businesses don’t grow like they could, like the owner would really like them to grow. They can be planted in a good spot, sprout and start, but they will never get the powerful fertilizer of referrals or the life giving water of returning customers to grow into what they have the potential to become.

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

Best Place to Advertise?

Best Place to Advertise?

Very interesting article in the Wall Street Journalabout where small local businesses are advertising. According to the article, yellow pages still dominate but the internet is opening up some promising new opportunities. The article talks about three:

Local Television. An online company called Spot Runner will make you semi-custom ad for less than $500 and then place it for you with local stations. A pet boarding service paid $299 for an ad plus $1,400 for placement and saw their calls increase 20%

Online Search Ads. Hook up with Yahoo and or Google and for $250 to $300 a month they will host a detailed web page and provide ad listings on their search engines. A salon tried it and says they now get 80% of their new customer through the internet.

Craigslist. Craigslist is an online classified ad system that is free and growing like crazy. A carpet cleaner in New York quit using newspaper ads and gets 90% of his business from Craigslist.

Some of these ideas seem pretty good and may be worth trying depending on what kind of business you are in. What it highlights for me once again is that it is tough to get new customers in the door. In fact, it costs 5 to 10 times more to attract new customers than it does to sell more to your current customers. So once you get them, don't ever let them go. How do you do that? Give them a remarkable experience, ask them what they think, get their email address, and stay in touch with them. Not only will they come back, they will bring their friends.

Keep an Eye on Your Tail

Keep an Eye on Your Tail

It is hard to overemphasize the importance and long lasting effect of reputation. As humans we seem to have a natural belief that things don't change. Once we've developed a perception of something, it is pretty hard to shift our perspective. Here is a quick quiz from a recent post in Tom Guarriello's blog:

Which has more crime, San Diego or New York?
Which country has the highest per capita income?

If you answered New York and the U.S. you would be wrong. New York used to have more crime but not any more. Now it just has the reputation.

And where does the U.S. rank on per capita income? We're number 5 now behind Bermuda, Luxembourg, Equitorial Guinea and Norway. We used to have the highest.

So what does this have to do with our businesses? Well ask yourself what reputation does your business have and, perhaps even more important, what kind of reputation are we building every day? When a customer has a problem, how do you find out about it? Are you proactively asking? And when you do become aware of a problem, do you solve it or avoid it?

Your tail is growing--make sure it is the one you want.

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

Give Your Business a Quick Physical

What are the three most important things to look at to determine the health of any business? Is it income? Return on Investment? Book value? Revenue? If you could only look at three measurements what would they be?

Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, was recently asked that question. These are his top 3 which he says apply to any size organization:

1. How satisfied are the customers?

Do the customers want to come back? Do they like my stuff? Are they willing to refer me. Learn by doing surveys and get out of your office to talk with your customers. Become known as the person that always wants to know.

2. How satisfied are the employees?

Is my message getting through--is it in their blood? I need the most engaged energized people in the world.

3. How much free cash flow is available?

It's simple. You need more cash coming in than cash going out. Net income is for accountants, it is full of assumptions. Cash has no assumptions. It gives you true flexibility and is the one thing that frees you.

I really like Jack's list. I've been involved in organizations that have lacked one or more of the three. They didn't last long. If your employees aren't satisfied, it is doubtful that your customers will be. And if your customers aren't satisfied, the free cash flow can't be positive for long.

The real question is do you know the answer to each of the three? I'm betting you are very familiar with your cash flow situation. Every month those bills come due and you have to pay them some how. But what about employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction? Are you systematically and regularly getting a read on how your customers and employees feel?

You can listen to Jack's comments on the topic by downloading a podcast he and his wife (former editor-in-chief of the Harvard Business Review) produce called "The Welch Way." It is free and available on iTunes.

Do you remember your customers on their birthday? On their anniversary? Do you give special notice to recently acquired customers? Promoterz does. Learn more

Use Email to Get Inside

Use Email to Get Inside

So now that you are systematically collecting opt-in emails from your customers (if you are not see www.promoterz.com) how effectively are you using email to build the relationship with your customers? Do you see email as just a cheap replacement for traditional print, radio, or TV advertising? If so, you are leaving opportunities on the table.

The other day I saw a "Graduation-Wedding-Mother's Day" sale advertised on television. I was a little surprised that they left out Memorial Day, but it highlights a few of the draw backs of the medium. First, it is shotgun meaning that everybody sees the same thing so you are tempted to provide something for everybody in the same ad. Second, it is expensive and takes time to create ads, so the inclination is to make them either very generic or, again, cover all your bases.

Email doesn't have those problems. You know exactly who you are sending to (and with your opt-in list you know they want it) and you can put an email together in a few minutes and send it out (if you can't, check out www.promoterz.com). With these strengths, if you are using email just to say what the other guys are saying on TV you are shooting air balls.

Think of the email you get from your friends. Do they send you "Happy Graduation-Wedding-Mother's Day" emails? No, chances are they talk about last night's game, what happened over the weekend, or a great place they visited. Email allows you to be immediate and to be current. Use it that way.

Here is an example. The Suns just lost game 4 of the first round of the NBA playoffs to the Lakers. If you've got a business in Phoenix how about a "Beat the Lakers Special" in preparation for game 5? Throw in a blurb about how many teams have come back from 1 and 3 in the first round and sign off with "Go Suns!"

Customers not sports fans? No problem, find another local or regional event to mention. The point is that there are thousands of businesses out there throwing millions of dollars at generic ads. With email you now have a way to cut through all that chaos and capture your customers' imagination and enthusiasm with some thing that is uniquely you and your business. So use it.

Hey, if you got a big guy inside--get him the ball!

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