Gain Market Share is 2012 — Focus on Service

Customer services

Image by gordon2208 via Flickr

I was reminded again tonight of the importance of customer service as my wife and I experienced absolutely unacceptable service at a local Chili’s restaurant. It has me thinking…. Why in today’s world of social media, blogs and 24 hour news have companies continued to accept poor performance in the field of customer service?

I know that there are places that I choose to experience poor customer service in sacrifice for lower price… (WalMart) however even there I believe the company has failed in recognizing how much share of income they are missing from me because I refuse to go them for items that have any value beyond feeding my face and which toothpaste I choose to use.

So not to completely destroy a chain such as Chilli’s, which until this last year I was a very Frequent visitor, lets be honest employees as a whole have really lost the meaning of service in a large quantity around our country. I remember  8 years ago my family moved to the Midwest for a stint and people would say oh your going to love the Friendliness and service of people in the Midwest , sorry but just seldom saw the service that was worth raving about to my friends.

My wife and I had a good laugh tonight as we discussed years of Mystery Shopping we have done across the US and how we just can’t believe that our standards of service have gotten tougher.  What level customer service is acceptable in todays world?

I would argue that it is the most important factor in your success as a business. As a matter of fact I would argue that if you want to gain market share in  2012 make it your #1 focus. Bring back the Mystery Shopper, Bring Back consequence to poor performance and demand nothing but your employees best when it comes to courteous, friendly over the top service.

Evaluate current staff and don’t hesitate to take the upgrade now approach by ranking your team 1-10 if you must and either putting the bottom half in extensive pass or fail type training so that they understand that in order to keep their job that this one rule is unbending, or find a replacement immediately.

Consultant your top customers and listen to them on last years service notes.  Evaluate if the methods of online survey are the right message to send to your clients? Take some time and call your top ten customers and ask personally what they would like to see improved in 2012. Stand out from the rest of your competitors by making them a priority. Want to know what to ask, how about this… Out of all the companies your do business with which has the best service? Who has the worst?  Where do I stand on that list? From their answers you should have a clear direction of where to go.

Be reasonable and logical when dealing with complaints… Ok here is where i generally piss off corporations. At dinner tonight when I complained about three day old bacon that tasted like jerky on my burger the waitess took my plate and I fully expected to have the manager show up at my table and say sorry and to give me a small discount, that seemed like common sense. However The next thing I know the waitress shows up with my bill and says they took the burger off my order. Now that is really nice right, but really… I ate the entire burger, just took the bacon off it.. just give me a $2.00 discount and come say sorry, maybe give me a coupon to come back next time and assure me you will do better because you want my business back.  If you work in retail I know that in the past 10-15 years you have heard from executives that you just don’t say no and do what ever makes the customer happy, well I fundamentally disagree. Use commonsense, if a customer try’s to return an item that is broken and they bought it 10 months ago and it looks like they ran over it with the car, you have the right to tell them no. Politely and with proper tact. If they try to return something that was not bought at your company, but swear it came from there, it is OK to lose that customer. Say No.  And when that customer goes online and rips you for being a bad company respond publicly on what ever forum they use in a polite and professional manner so the world can see who is the more responsible of parties.

Maybe I am getting off point here but the fact remains, using common sense and friendly communication will win even in today’s social media world. Become an active participant and refuse to allow your company to slither down the path of poor service and you have potential to gain market share this year.  In my market this year someone just gained 10 -12 family dinners from me because Chili’s probably lost out because of one really bad night of service.

Good Luck… Keep Smiling

 

Thinking of Changing from Direct Sales to Inbound Marketing?

I recently had a conversation with a very successful business owner regarding the changing of company marketing success.  He has run a very successful direct sales company for the past twenty plus years and is now intrigued, curious would be the word he would use about how inbound marketing could change the scope and future of his business. This question is being asked by many, I assume, whom have built successful businesses using the old word marketing techniques (Newspaper, TV, Direct Sales).

As we sat and discussed the future and the power of using inbound marketing strategies for the future of the company I became concerned for not only the directions our conversation was taking but what many executives may be doing to their now successful business model. Are they jumping ship for another vessel which will not carry as much load?

My Point: Inbound Marketing, Social Media and Web-based marketing practices are great power pack of energy for a company, They can take a successful, well run business with the right vision and aptitude to fantastic new heights in business.  They however are not the next bigger and greater thing for all companies. With out the proper foundation of business and support Inbound Marketing and Social Media are a lot like switching your Newspaper budgets to Radio and Dropping your core vehicle for marketing. It just never works, you get a new exciting single success in the meantime lose all your marketing momentum.

Example: I ran the print marketing for a company in Boise Idaho in the late 90’s and I will never forget the mistake this business owner made. He had in the marketplace the number 2 furniture store in the Metro area at that time and ran a comprehensive marketing plan on TV and in Newspaper every week. His Audience expected him to be there. His largest competitive nightmare (RC Wiley) had just come to town and had already put several of his competitors out of business. His marketing strategy was working and he was actually gaining share in a more competitive market. He made a rash decision one day in early spring to drop his Newspaper Budget and sink into a New Radio Promotion with targeted Direct Mail.  Long Story Short 30 days later he had his worst moth of sales in over 10 years, he immediate switched back to his original marketing and it took him over one year to get sales back to the same levels as before the rash decision.  His audience  did not know how to find him and perceived that in the new competitive market he was no longer a player and found alternatives.

Five tips to consider when starting your Inbound Marketing Program:

  1. What are my goals and expectations – set clear-defined goals for growth in your company. Remember these tools are meant to add to the company’s current audience base, not become the new smaller more connected audience.
  2. Designate the proper staffing for your inbound marketing strategy. Asking your current team to add it to their plate or to switch their focus will only deteriorate the success you are already having and translate into a flat or the deterioration bottom line.
  3. Set realistic Time Tables for growth – Inbound Marketing is not Direct Mail, you can’t count success in a week. You must build the audience, nurture the audience and then feed the audience before it will grow.
  4. Keep working you already have a successful business model, don’t stop jump off the boat and swim for the other ship just because it looks exciting. Your current ship is already going the right direction. Inbound and social media marketing should just help you gain more speed and collect more passengers.
  5. Commit – You can not be successful in Inbound marketing by just signing up. You most commit to the process. You must provide content, provide service, launch multiple strategies and measure response and adjust, again and again. This is why it is important to dedicate a staff or agency to helping you work this engine. Inbound marketing and social media marketing demand active participation.
So if trying to decide how to enhance your direct sales team with inbound marketing is your mission, Go for it. You will see great success and a big potential for success. If you goal is to turn inbound marketing into your new sales company, caution, you make be jumping off into a smaller vessel that is not meant to take you on the long journey of success.

Business Marketing advice from Harry Potter

Albus Dumbledore

Image via Wikipedia

I just got home from seeing the final chapter of Harry Potter.  It is ok, I will not be sharing the all important movie parts if you have not seen the movie, Just one line.

So how does Harry Potter and Business marketing relate accept for the fact their franchise is the one of the richest success stories in Hollywood history?  Let me not hold you in suspense…..

In the final Chapter Harry and Dumbledore do have one more conversation together and Dumbledore corrects an earlier line from the second film “The Chamber of Secrets“that really hit me as a great point in marketing. Do you remember the line “There will always be help at Hogwarts when you ask for it?” In this film he corrects himself and says that help will always be there for those who deserve it?  Quite a difference in those lines in life and in business.

Your business was built with your own sweet and dreams, and you probably have worked harder than anyone will ever know to get it growing. My Question is have you earned your customers and do you deserve their loyalty?

In today’s fast paced Social Driven Marketing world there is advice and tips every where on how to gain thousands of fans, followers and connections. It seems that many of the tips follow the same path as Dumbledore in the Chamber of Secrets – all you need to do is asked for friends, followers and connections and your Social Media and Marketing troubles are rescued and your will be victorious.  But how true is the corrected statement, help is for those who deserve it?  There are thousands of business people who have started gung-ho on social media adventures, gaining handful of fans, connections or followers as they added content and conversation online, only to find their fans did not share, their cash registers did not ring and they felt hey were wasting their time on meaningless conversation.

Why then are so many teaching that social media is the perfect marketing tool? That this single marketing tool can change the landscape of your business? Because it can and has for those who have earned it! The  individuals which stayed connected and invested their time, thoughts and expertise not to just enrich their pockets but to help others enrich theirs.  They gave first and continued to give of their knowledge until they had earned the right to ask for help, then their followers, connections and friends sprang to action and helped them succeed in their plans and business success.

If you are starting a social media campaign or have lost hope in your campaign take these tips seriously.  Victory in social media marketing is not for the ones who just show up and ask for help, you must earn the right to receive the help.

5 – Tips to get you started:

  1. Share you knowledge – you have a knowledge base, you might not think it is much but you do have a knowledge base share it freely. Yes if you have the secret recipe you don’t have to share it, but you can share tips and knowledge that will help others create their own secret recipe
  2. Share your answers –  invest time on the social media front helping others get the answers they need to be successful or find enjoyment.
  3. Share your advice – Who, what, when, why?  Pretend you’re a newspaper reporter and you have to interview yourself for an article. Remember the 4 W’s and start writing.
  4. Share your encouragement – People love to help people that make them feel good about themselves. Make someone else feel special
  5. Share your visions and dreams – What do you want the world to look like. Tell us. Yes you might get ridiculed from some but mostly you will help the best of us believe in you. And until we believe in you we will never promote or stand up for you.
So there you have it, Social Marketing tips from Harry Potter.  The movie is worth the price of admission.

 

Copy Machine Humor

A small, much used Xerox photocopier in the li...

Image via Wikipedia

For years I worked for companies that continually battled the wasted paper at the copy machine. You know what I am speaking of, That box of wasted copies that have been duplicated or left behind for weeks when someone printed a project and then printed it again because the machine was going too slow.

Well I just have to share the new joy in my life. My newest employer continues to show their brilliance in employee motivation and management. You see if you print anything at our office and don’t happen to make it to the copy machine before the boss then your project or printed material becomes the newest office ticker parade. That is right 2 page or 60 pages she just takes true pleasure in just throwing them in the air over her head and smiling the entire time like she was in a parade of tick tape.  Occasionally she will then jump on them and rub them into the carpet.

I know some of you old blood manager are saying What a waste of money and time. But I assure you I try to never print an item that I am not going to use or that I am not willing to get up and go retrieve right now. Instead I watch with much satisfaction and laughter as the next set of papers goes for a fling.

The entire staff is into it now, occasionally someone else will do it, and the smile they get on their face is priceless. The culprit is not always happy but they seem to understand and often will walk down and pick up their wrinkled paper from the floor just so everyone would know it was them.

So what is the moral of this post, I don’t know, maybe it is that life is too short to be made at the wasted expense of paper at the machine, turn it into the office humor and liven up the place. Sure seems to add to the productivity and fun of our company.

Facebook Promotions Made Easy.

ShortStack APP

ShortStack App for Facebook Promotions

I just finished a webinar on making Facebook Promotions. I have promoted this company before but was so excited about this tool I had to write another quick tip on Facebook Promotions. The Company Shortstack based out of Northern Nevada has developed an easy to use promotion and I-Frame tool that I believe everyone could run and use with little to no training.

Their tool event comes with Data base management if you are willing to pay a small monthly service charge.  They have Free services and if you are a small business looking to find less than 2500 fans locally you can use their service for under $10 a month.

Check out their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/shortstacklab

Facebook is becoming easier for businesses to use everyday. And companies such as ShortStack are leading the way.

Have fun designing and promoting.