Archive for May, 2010
You know when you take on the wrong customer. Don’t you?
Founders and CEOs know. Operations and technical support staffs know. Sales professionals know too.
Still we do it.
And in these days of economic challenges we do it more and more.
The rational is easy to come by. “We need the revenue.”
We tell sales and marketing, “If it moves, sell to it.”
And when our operational people and engineering experts complain we silence them with, “I know it’s a one-off and we’re not set up to do it, but figure it out anyway.”
Finally our financial officer might whisper, “I’m not sure we’re making any money on these kinds of sales.” But we’re long past caring at that point.
Why? In our heart-of-hearts we know this won’t end well. Wrong customers are wrong for a reason.
Here are a few thoughts about what makes this wrong-headed move…well…wrong-headed. This is what I’ve seeing the last 24 months. You’ll likely have more to add.
One – going after the wrong customer blows up any semblance of sales process you might have had. Your sales pros will have to violate everything they believe, marketers too. Your sales rookies will gain some very bad habits. And the distrust the operations often feels for sales in the first place will only deepen. The walls between sales and operations will grow higher.
Two – going after the wrong customer reverses any success you’ve had in creating operational excellence. Forget lean. The people on the plant floor will feel “the chaos” flooding the shop and it won’t come in on little cat feet. It will look more like a rock band’s fog machine with the dial set to London Fog.
Three – going after the wrong customer will take your finite resources of time, talent and treasure away from your “right customers”. They won’t thank you. Nor will they “feel the love” like in the past. Instead, they will sense the quality of your products, service and attentiveness slide. “Why stay?” That’s the question that will form in their minds.
Four – going after the wrong customer will UP the stress level of every employee and every family of every employee. Those who can leave will leave the moment the opportunity presents itself. By the way, the ones leaving will in many cases be the ones you can least afford to lose.
What would you add to this list? What makes acquiring the wrong customer so destructive from your experience and point of view?
Remember when you see “the wrong” someone with a few dollars in their pocket and willing to let you sell to them…just keep walking.
All I can say is “fight the urge!”
“Oh my God, they GET me!”
That’s the answer to the question; “how does a business know they’ve found spot-on customer relevance?”
You know when customers can’t help but exclaim, “oh my God, they GET me!”
You can read how I get to this punch-line here. That’s not the exact point of this post.
In fact, the point of this post is that I HAVE a punch-line and that I use it…OFTEN.
I say it passionately, urgently and with a great deal of verve – the spirit and enthusiasm animating artistic composition.
Because there is content and then there’s CONTENT.
Because there are strategic moments in everyone’s conversation and communications where you’ve got to cut loose and take a few communication risks.
Because you owe it to your audience, conversation partners, and clients to highlight your “take away” with nothing less than your communication best.
Mike Sansone calls this “content oomph”.
“Oomph” is about connecting, vitality and punch. It’s no accident that many dictionaries suggest the term is meant to sound like the bellow of a mating bull.
Every winning coach that ever blew a whistle knows what “content oomph” is.
Every ER nurse that ever cried out “ASAP” knows the meaning of “content oomph”.
And every artist that refused to allow their art to go unnoticed knows how to insist on “content oomph”.
The surprising thing is that we can lose the confidence and clarity necessary to create “content oomph”.
Are you a leader? A business owner? Executive director of a non-profit?
Do you know your vital punch-lines? Have you constructed your must-connect messages with “content oomph”?
YES! would a good answer.
And “I’m not sure” would to be enough to keep me up all night crafting content with lots of punch.
“I have never been praised for my work at any job.”
The young professional who told me this wasn’t complaining. He was “just” reporting the facts of his career to date.
He had heard me make the point that celebration and praise are essential practices inside any company or organization committed to delivering extraordinary customer experience.
An informal conversation began. Soon there were four others sharing their work experience and the lack of praise inside their organizations.
Sad to say these were all Iowa residents telling stories from the Iowa marketplace and business community. (Though I suspect this isn’t “just” an Iowa issue!)
The “whys” behind this can be offered up. At this point I don’t care.
Are you a leader, manager or supervisor? Can you think of a time and place when you praised the progress of someone in your department?
If not, you have no right to complain about “those people”. Those people are just like you. And they respond to encouraging recognition and praise just like you.
This Sunday afternoon I watched 8 year old boys play in an i9 flag football game. The air was full of praise. That’s how kids get better. Adults are wired the same.
Let’s remember that when we step into the office, walk the shop floor or pass a colleague in the hall tomorrow morning!
After all, what does it cost you to praise an employee who is making progress? HINT: it will never show up on your financial officers spread sheet!
For today’s marketer, the real enemy is obscurity.
How do you build attention for your product, company or brand and rise above the marketplace noise?
One way is to make sure your web content is completely spreadable. Adding links for people to share your content on social networks and social media sites is pretty much mandatory. Remove all barriers so that customer evangelists can share your content and messages freely. Nothing new about this except that I found find this archaic message at the start of a B2B company’s product video on their website.
Social networks are word of mouth jet streams. Your web content should be designed to ride them.
Stories connect people. Even the smallest portion of your story has the power to connect.
3 weeks ago I was conducting leadership training at an Iowa community college.
At break one of the participants asked me where my hometown was. “Columbus, Nebraska!” I said.
Another participant off to my side heard my answer and instantly volunteered, “That’s my hometown too!”
We connected! And so I asked for one more slice of his story, “What did your family do for a living in Columbus?”
“My dad was the head football coach.”
And instantly I knew I was talking to the son of my high school football coach. A man who had played a very important role in my life but whom I had lost contact with.
“What’s he doing now?” I asked, uncertain of what kind of answer I might get.
“Probably playing golf. He lives here in town and is retired.”
That afternoon to my great joy I had coffee with “Coach” – a man I love and had not seen in 38 years.
Stories connect. Even the smallest slice of a story.
Never hesitate to tell yours.
You might just be surprised by the sudden and satisfying connections you make!
In March of 2008 I had a pair of ‘firsts’ that were both scary as hell for me at the time. First, I flew on an airplane for the first time in my life, and second, I spoke at SXSW. Actually I moderated a panel, but it was the first time since graduate school 5 years prior, that I spoke in front of an audience.
Now as an introvert, an introvert that had never spoken professionally at the time, my first thought when I was contacted about moderating a panel at SXSW was “There’s no way I can do this!”
My second thought was “There’s no way I can’t do this!”
So although I was literally worried sick about speaking at SXSW, I went ahead with it. It ended up being one of the best decisions I’ve made in the last 2 years, and now I actually love speaking at social media conferences, something I would have never imagined this time two years ago. And I’ve gotten to be a pretty good speaker, I get good reviews every time I speak, and at every event I have had at least one attendee tell me afterward that my presentation alone justified the cost of the event for them.
For each event I speak at I spend on average 10 hours creating the slide deck, and about 20 hours rehearsing the presentation, unless it’s an existing presentation/deck, then that time is much less. The end result is that I spend anywhere from 15-30 hours preparing/rehearsing the presentation, and lose a minimum of one day due to travel, usually two days.
So there’s a pretty big time commitment necessary for me to speak at an event. And yet even with the time investment required, even though I have spoken at most of the biggest social media events and get rave reviews when I speak, I still have conference organizers that contact me expecting me to speak at their event for free.
And when I say ‘free’, I don’t mean that they won’t pay a speaking fee. I mean that they won’t cover a speaking fee OR any of the speaker’s travel costs TO the event.
About a year ago, I adopted a strict policy for speaking at events: I won’t speak for free. If you want me to speak at your event, the bare minimum requirement is that you cover my travel. I’ll probably require a speaking fee as well, but one certainty is that I won’t be paying to come speak at your event so you can sell more tickets. I have turned down a lot of speaking requests in the last year because the event organizers wanted me to speak for free.
I won’t. Period.
I’m sorry, but if you are an event organizer, my expertise and time are both worth money, and I’m going to ask for it. I’ve worked with event organizers before, so I understand that very few social media conferences are cash cows. But a lot more could be compensating their speakers, even if it’s only their travel to the event.
Besides that, it’s the right thing to do.
This post is cross-posted from our Ant’s Eye View blog.
As enterprise companies are starting to see the upside of
implementing social business practices, there’s more and more demand for
social business consultants. To fill this growing need, the number of Social
Media gurus and ninjas popping up for these positions has also
increased exponentially — so much so that those with practical
experience managing large-scale, customer-focused initiatives are harder
and harder to find.
We’re frequently asked, “What does it take to be a consultant at
Ant’s Eye View?” Well, it’s a position that requires some S.P.I.C.Y-ness,
a healthy dose of curiosity and an innate desire to help companies
improve customer experience. Listen to what Ant’s Eye View CEO Sean O’Driscoll says about what we are looking for.
Ant’s Eye View is currently hiring to fill four positions. Check them
out if you think you meet the qualities we’ve described. We’d love to
hear from you!
Over four years ago, I wrote this post about the importance of companies understanding their customers. I wanted to focus on this section:
What happens when you better understand your customers is that you can better serve them by anticipating their wants and needs. And the best part? As we correctly anticipate the consumers’ wants and needs, and fill them, a trust is developed, which leads to the consumer lowering their defenses and letting us interact with them on a deeper level. This leads to a greater understanding of their needs, which means we can more quickly and effectively meet these needs, and thus the cycle is created.
Understanding your customers is general is obviously incredibly important, but you should also understand how your customers are using social media. This is something that often is overlooked when we advise companies on how to get started with social media. We teach them of the value of monitoring social media, of tracking company and industry mentions. Of knowing what’s being said and where it is being said.
But that’s only half the battle. The ‘why’ gives meaning to the numbers. What social tools are your customers using? Why are they using them? What information are they looking for, and how do they want it to be delivered to them?
The numbers alone don’t tell the whole story. For example, last year a couple of studies came out that challenged Twitter’s popularity. The studies claimed that people were flocking to Twitter, but then they stopped using the service after a few months. But the studies were looking at how Twitter users used the Twitter WEBSITE. Many Twitter users move on to a Twitter client such as Tweetdeck or Seesmic after becoming comfortable with the service. So the numbers suggested that people were leaving Twitter, when in fact they may have simply been leaving the Twitter website, for a Twitter desktop client.
You should definitely monitor social media, but ultimately, you should strive to understand the people, not the numbers. If you can reach the point where you understand how and why your customers are using social media, then you can begin to use social media to connect with them on terms that they are comfortable with. And when their comfort level increases, then your customers will more freely connect with you, and this helps you better understand them. And when you better understand them, you can better meet their wants and needs, which in turn will prompt them to more easily understand you. And thus a cycle is created and eventually the understanding on both sides reaches a point where trust enters into the equation.
But it all starts with focusing on the people, not the numbers. Be aware of the numbers, but understand the people behind them.
If you travel for business frequently, take this quiz:
Think of the hotels you’ve stayed at this year. Can you name even one employee by name?
I can. Felix from the San Mateo Marriott. I stayed there a few weeks ago and noticed this poster in all of the elevators:
Curious, I stopped into the Marketplace Cafe and sure enough, there was Felix.
Friendly, approachable and mostly resembling the man on the poster, Felix told me he has worked for the hotel for 12 years. He said he loves his job and loves meeting people. He recounted the story of a man he met from Europe who, on his second stay at hotel, remarked that we was surprised that Felix was still there. Felix asked him when he had visited the hotel the first time. The man said “seven years ago.”
A now-departed manager had thought up the idea eight years ago for putting Felix on the posters. Felix said there used to be a life-size cardboard cut-out of him in front of the cafe that was so life-like that it would stop people in their tracks to say hi. That is, until someone stole it.
I travel alot and for the most part, hotels are nameless, faceless places that aren’t very memorable. But I won’t forget the San Mateo Marriott because of Felix.