Do you sometimes feel like you are experiencing Groundhog day every day? That no matter what you do you realize the same result? This happens to a lot of small business owners. We get so heads down and in the weeds that we can't see the cycle we're in.If your business development efforts are stalled, get out and join an organization or structured networking group. If your systems are a mess, pick one and tighten it up. Got too much to do? Hire, or enlist the services of a company that can do the things you need but shouldn't be doing yourself.
There is real value in taking a step out to analyze what's working and what isn't. If you are going through the same old steps day in and day out, that's a signal to change things up.
The one thing that is certain is that it is your responsibility to take a critical look at how you are operating your business. And if you're feeling stuck in a loop, change things. The great thing is you can do this at any time.
If you are wondering what organizations and groups are out there try googling it. If you are in Northeast Ohio, visit www.cbcmagazine.com and check out the list of networking events on the left side of the page. No matter what city you live in there are opportuntiies to connect.
So, as we experience Groundhog day and discover whether there will be 6 more weeks, or a month and a half, of winter do yourself a favor and make a new decision!
The folks at Eccountability have written an awesome post about the importance of self reflection. And it's more than that. It's really about identifying what matters, what you are doing, how they coincide (or don't) and what to do about it.
Read the post here and make sure to go through the process they outline. This is the kind of thing that can be done at any time in your business. So, as you move along and distractions creep in, take a step back, take stock, and adjust for the good of your business.
When you think of customer service do you think of how cheerful the receptionist is? Do you think about how your customer service department handles calls and contacts from customers? There is a basic understanding of what good, and not so good, customer service looks like.
And yet, there are times when customer service shows up in unexpected, and impactful ways. A little while back I decided to stay overnight in the hotel where I would be speaking the next morning. My goal was to avoid driving an hour or so very early in the morning. So, my expectation was that I would have a usual hotel experience. I was pleasantly surprised. When I checked in the attendant told me that he gave me a room on the side of the hotel away from the highway. And he put the room halfway down the hall so it wouldn’t be near the elevators. I didn’t ask for any special treatment. And the desk clerk didn’t know that I was speaking there the next morning. He was simply looking out for my well-being. He wanted me to have the best experience in his hotel. And I did! This was so nice that it made my whole experience better. I so enjoyed my stay at that hotel that I am staying there again! The same night I went to Chick-fil-A to get dinner. The drive through line was really long so I decided to go inside to order. Imagine my surprise when I walked in and saw a keyboard player playing lovely music. The restaurant was packed. No kidding! How great to be able to eat dinner in a ‘fast food’ restaurant that had a fabulous atmosphere. Have you ever heard of such a thing? I was blown away. The owner of that restaurant understood something really important – that providing an exceptional experience makes a huge difference. Now ask yourself how much these things cost those establishments. Nothing! Or very little. And the return on investment is huge. They are receiving far more than whatever it cost. That is what customer service is all about. Think about your customers. Think about what can make a difference for them. Then do it. It’s not an expensive venture. It’s about the experience. It’s about caring – about them.
Being grateful can have a huge impact on your business. They say that more customers leave their vendors because they feel unappreciated than any other reason. It’s not price or quality. It’s feeling valued. So, there is real value in finding ways to show appreciation for the business you get. It can be as simple as sending a card or small gift. It could be referring them to a prospective client. Maybe you take them to lunch or invite them to a seminar you think they’d be interested in. There are many ways you can show your clients that you value their business. And no matter what the cost, it is worth the investment. After all, it costs far more to replace a client than it does to keep one happy.
Do you ever stop to think about the experience your customer is having with your company, staff, product or service? You might want to sit in their seat periodically. Business owners move a mile a minute. There is so much to do, monitor, take care of. It’s easy to assume that the customer is being taken care of. Not only being taken care of, but being treated well. After all, wouldn’t they say something if they weren’t? Well, the answer to that question is ‘no.’ Most people just find another solution, another vendor. The sad thing is that it doesn’t cost a lot of money, or time, or effort to create a positively memorable experience. It does, however, cost a lot to replace those customers who leave. Consider these 3 examples of customer experience:
- You walk into a service business where you’ve been told you can stop in any time between 8:00 – 5:00. It’s around 2:00 pm and there is one staff person in the office. You tell them who you are, and remind them of the phone calls you’ve exchanged with them. They say they’ll be with you in a minute as they stare at their computer screen. They then tell you they are at lunch. Then, as they reluctantly get up from their desk they tell you they are trying to see a speech from the night before. A speech they missed because a storm caused their power to go out.
Hmmm. Is that good customer service? You’ve never done business with them before and yet this individual is telegraphing that they are more concerned with their personal life than they are with taking care of you. Will you do business with them again? Not if you think this is how you are going to be treated.
2. You arrive at your hotel after driving through a storm and rush hour traffic. You are
greeted by happy, smiling people, and a dog. Everyone welcomes you and gets you
registered quickly. As you leave to go get dinner you ask if they know what the next
day’s weather will be like. Their response? ‘We’ll have it for you when you get back.’
Sure enough, when you walk back into the hotel they hand you a sheet of paper with
the weather forecast.
They got on it, found out what the weather would be like, and were waiting for you to come back so they could share it with you. Every encounter with every staff person signaled that they valued having you as a guest and were happy to help you with anything you needed. Will you stay there again? Most likely. Because you know it will be easy, and an enjoyable experience.
3. While you are out of town you have dinner at a restaurant and accidentally leave your
sunglasses on the table. When you get up the next morning you discover they are
gone. When the restaurant opens you call to see if they have them. The person who
answers the phone tells you there are about 5 pairs there and you’ll have to come in
to see if any of them are yours. When you are leaving town you decide to get off the
highway to see if, indeed, your sunglasses are there. You go in and ask. One person
says they remember seeing them.
When you tell the manager that someone told you there were several pairs of
sunglasses there they go looking for the sunglasses, and the person who answered
the phone. While you are there you decide to order some food for your drive home.
The manager comes back and tells you there are no black sunglasses there. You
explain that while you understand the person probably assumed there were
sunglasses there, you wouldn’t have gotten off the highway if they hadn’t told you
they had black sunglasses. While you’re not mad you are a little frustrated. You’ve
interrupted your trip for no reason. When you get your food and prepare to pay the bill
the waiter tells you that the manager is paying for it. He understands the
inconvenience of going out of your way because of something one of his employees
You weren’t expecting anything other than the apology the manager gave you. After all, things happen. That he went one step further speaks volumes about how he feels about customer experience. The manager wanted to be sure to take good care of you, and to make up for the bad experience you had. Will you eat there again when you are in town? Probably. After all, you now know they take customer care seriously. These are just a handful of experiences I’ve had in the past week. People are having good and bad customer experiences every day. And they matter. So, give this some thought with your business. Don’t assume you know how everyone is treated your customers. And don’t assume all of your employees know what your expectations are. Make sure everyone is on the same page providing the kind of customer experience you believe will not only keep them coming back, but also singing your praises. I would like to thank the wonderful staff at the Holiday Inn Express and Suites in Athens Ohio as well as the manager of the Applebee’s in Athens for reminding me that good customer service is alive and well! Copyright© 2016 Seize This Day