Posts Tagged ‘ok’

For many of us – especially those in service businesses – our existing and previous customers are vital for three reasons: 1

For many of us – especially those in service businesses – our existing and previous customers are vital for three reasons:

1. They have already bought from us, so providing they had a good experience, they might buy from us again. We also know that getting a new customer is much more expensive than selling to an existing customer, so by continuing to sell to them, we are really saving ourselves some money.

2. They can give us invaluable feedback on how we did.  Was our service good enough? Did we delight them or were we ‘just ok’. Did our product meet their expectations? Was it good value for money? And so on.

3. They continue to save us money because they should be our major source of referrals and new business. So through them, we get access to new clients who already know about us and have a positive opinion of what we do.

Most clients I meet are not leveraging their existing customer database, and by not doing so, are losing out on a cost effective source of potential new business. Many receive referrals – for which they are grateful – but it’s not because they actively sought the referral, or had a strategy in place to ask for it.

Here are 8 ways to maximize the value from your most valuable asset:

Delight your Clients

Anyone with half a brain can satisfy a customer. But only when you continually delight customers will they keep coming back. You should aim to exceed your customers expectations on every interaction that they have with you. Do this consistently, and you will have a customer for life.

For example, you think your loyal client could benefit from reading a section of your ebook or an article you’ve written? Surprise them and make it a gift. Sure, you could say, “I’ll give you a fifty percent discount.” Forego the money. Give your client a reason to stick around and spend a thousand dollars instead.

Personalise, personalise, personalise

“We are entering an era where one size no longer fits all-or even a few. We are entering an era where one size fits one. It is highly personalized, customer-centric, customer-driven.” (From One Size Fits One: Building Relationships One Customer and One Employee at a Time).

Known variously as customer relationship management (CRM) and one-to-one marketing, personalisation is being practiced by businesses large and small across all sectors of the economy. The message here is simple: you want to lavish personal attention on customers who are going to reciprocate by being consistently good purchasers of your product or service.

Give these customers an incentive to share information about themselves that you can use when you contact them next. The more your customers feel as though you are treating them individually, the more likely they are to continue their relationship with you.

Provide Guarantees

A guarantee is a powerful tool for keeping your customers when they might otherwise go elsewhere. With a good guarantee, you tell your customers where and how to complain, and that complaining is worth their time and effort. It also shows that you care. A good guarantee is unconditional, easy to understand, meaningful, easy to invoke and easy to collect on.

Ask for Feedback

If you don’t know what your customer thinks about you, your business, your product and your services, then you might as well close shop.

People will endorse your business not because they think it looks good, but because they know it is good. If they have problems with your services, customers are the best source of objective advice on how to make improvements. So have a process in place where you regularly ask them for feedback. And once they’ve given it to you, let them know how you are going to use it. They will begin to feel involved in your business, and are more likely to send other people your way.

Reward them for being Loyal

Loyalty marketing programs are designed to engender loyalty and increase sales from your best customers. When properly designed and executed flawlessly, loyalty programs provide a vital link between your business and your customers, improving customer satisfaction and increasing sales. Here are some commonly used ideas for creating your own loyalty program:

  • preferable rates for loyal customers
  • provide bonus product or service if they have bought before
  • programs that promote multiple purchases (buy 3 and get the 4th free)
  • Points program – each purchase is worth points. When they amass a certain number of points they get a reward of some kind

Keep in Touch

Keeping in touch with your customers is about maintaining relationships. Customers are most likely to keep buying from you if you have a strong relationship – if they trust you and your product/service. Your keep in touch strategy should consider:

  • the best way to stay in contact (email, telephone, hardcopy newsletter etc)
  • frequency (monthly, quarterly event-based), and
  • what to talk about (what your company is doing, industry information, tips and hints, useful resources etc)
  • A Keep in Touch program is not the place for a hard sell. Keep it information based, concise and interesting

Implement a Referral process

Be very clear about who you want as a referral and why. The quality of referrals you receive depends on how well your customers understand what you are looking for. The best way to do this is to write it down for them, or discuss it in some detail – don’t assume they already know. At the conclusion of every sale, ask them if they know of any other people who would be interested in your service.

Thank them for referrals – every time

Finding a way to thank your customers for referrals lets them know that you value them for their efforts. It makes them feel recognized, and it reinforces the behaviour so they consider referring to you again. A thank you can be as simple as a hand written card, sent through the mail, to a set of movie tickets, a voucher, or even just a phone call.

There are so many ways that we can go one step further with the people who already buy from us. Make this a focus of your marketing efforts and you will soon see the rewards come back in the form of increased referrals and increased sales.

It remains unknown to many that the products they use in their day-to-day living can be traced back to the productive years of the baby boomers

It remains unknown to many that the products they use in their day-to-day living can be traced back to the productive years of the baby boomers. They are reputable brands of different items that every homemaker turns to for the ease of managing household chores such as washing clothes or dishes.

The household brand “Tide” dates back to 1946 when it was introduced to a market that uses automatic washing machines. When the brand gained nationwide distribution in 1949, its popularity in the detergent market was not a surprise. Tide had already gained the recognition of “America’s Washday Favorite” when other competing brands such as Ivory Snow began its decline.

The ‘Tide’ that consumers know today is the ‘Tide’ that has been reconstructed over the years. In its incipient stage, ‘Tide’ was a white-powdered bead until it was transformed into an orange-tinted clear liquid in 1984. The recent years also saw the introduction of new ‘Tide’ formulations such as the dark blue, liquid ‘Tide’ and the clear ‘Tide Free’.

Even the logo of ‘Tide’ speaks directly to its consumers because of the logo’s attractive and attention-grabbing design. The orange-and-yellow brand identity logo is credited to industrial designer Donald Deskey, although today’s ‘Tide’ logo has undergone some slight alteration for ‘Tide’s’ fiftieth anniversary in 1996.

As a global brand, the ‘Tide’ formula uses different market names such as ‘Ace’ in Latin America and ‘Alo’ in Turkey. Despite the differing names, ‘Tide’ continues to dominate the detergent market and proves its stature after bagging an ACS National Historical Chemical Landmark.

Ok Boomers. How many of you remember watching detergent commercials during your favorite soap opera? My favorite soap was “As the World Turns”. Come join boomeryearbook and let us know yours.

www.boomeryearbook.com is a social networking site connecting the Baby Boomer generation. Share your thoughts, rediscover old friends, or expand your mind with brain games provided by clinical psychologist Dr. Karen Turner. Join today to discover the many ways we are helping Boomers connect for fun and profit.

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Blackberries and wifi and blogs (oh my

Blackberries and Wifi and blogs (oh my!). And your list likely goes on – email, IM’s, forwarding your phone number, wireless everything and 24 hour news channels. While it might be trite, we truly live in a 24/7 world.

Many of us didn’t grow up in a world quite like it is now – with the plethora of options for being connected, getting information and communicating. It wasn’t that many years ago when email and cell phones were new. Now a cell phone that connects to your email is old news!

The challenges of a 24/7 world are many, but as a leader there are four that are especially important to consider – both as an individual and in your role as a leader.

•    We have the option of always being connected.
•    We are awash in information.
•    We have too many sources of information to choose from.
•    Many people are increasingly addicted to all of it.

One crucial step to thriving in any situation is to identify and understand the challenges you face, and then identify ways to overcome, benefit from or eliminate those challenges. The ideas that follow are meant to help you do all three of these things.

Your Seven Ideas

Remember that these ideas about thriving, not merely surviving. This may mean that one or more of them is a bit more radical than you have considered or even think prudent. While you have to use your own judgment, I encourage you to do more than consider these ideas – but actually try them!

•    Manage your expectations of yourself. How much time do you want/need/have to be a connected info-holic? (Please note that these are three different questions – ask yourself all of them). Consider your answers carefully, and then make choices about your own expectations of yourself in an informed way.
•    Manage your expectations of others. As a leader you may choose to be connected and/or be on your computer at all times of the day or night. Unless you have a conversation with your team, they likely will begin to model your behavior. Maybe you choose to do email or send links to ideas you find at an odd hour, that’s fine, but you need to explicitly tell others what your expectations are for them. Let them know that “just because I’m online at 5 am doesn’t mean you need to be” or whatever is appropriate in your situation.
•    Turn off Tuesday afternoons. Face-to-face communication and the phone are amazing communication tools, and sometimes you will get more creative work done if the TV or web browser or email inbox is closed for awhile. Whether you pick Tuesday afternoons, Friday mornings, or whatever, consider a time during the work week when you disconnect from your toys and tools – and if you are a leader to have others do it as well. Personal experience and a variety of organizational experiments show that productivity may go up dramatically during these times.
•    Find information sources and tools that work for you. Focus primarily on the tools that work for you. Use them appropriately and focus your attention on them.
•    Turn off at night. At least one night a week (preferably more often) turn off the cell phone and don’t open the computer. If you find yourself lost without the computer open, you need this advice the most. If you really want to be reading and/or learning, open a book. Encourage your team to do this too – especially if you find yourself getting messages from them at all hours of the night.
•    Chill out and think. This idea addresses all four challenges mentioned above. If you remember what it was like before Web 2.0, interactive cell phones and more, you know that you could still get real work done. If you don’t remember or weren’t alive yet, trust me, you can get real work done. This idea is to just relax a little bit. When you are disconnected and unplugged be good with that. You don’t have to have your Bluetooth headset on during dinner, and you don’t have to take (or make) a phone call while in a public (or private) restroom. Relax a little. Use your disconnected time to think, rather than react to your technology.
•    You can’t do everything (so don’t try). Even if you are really wired to technology, and even if you love it, know that you can’t know everything about everything, because everything is so much bigger than it used to be. There will always be one more video site, cell phone option, all news blog or website. Be OK with that and refer back to idea #4.

A final note. A smart friend of mine called as I was writing this article and reminded me that some leaders are on the other end of this spectrum – either anti-technology or at least not challenged by these issues. If this is you, you need to recognize that many of your team could use the ideas above. And maybe you need to be a little more open minded to learn some of the benefits they are gaining in this 24/7 connected world – without falling into the their traps.

Potential Pointer: The communication and information options that are available to you in our 24/7 world are amazing! Always remember those options are tools designed to serve your needs, not make you a slave to them.

Seeing change as a problem

Seeing change as a problem

In a previous article, I examined why problem solving, which is our conventional approach to change, is instrumental in creating resistance and slowing or neutralising attempts to create change.

Briefly, the reasons are as follows:

1) The focus of problem solving is usually on the ‘gap’, and the present problem/s and rarely is enough emphasis placed upon creating shared clarity about the destination.

2) The emphasis on deficiencies tends to have a disempowering effect – ‘I can see that’s the problem but I’m not sure I can change’.

3) This in turn creates defensiveness – ‘Why should I change?’ because it becomes easier to knock down the change than to admit we can’t.

4) In turn, this defensiveness and reluctance, coupled with a human dislike of being confronted with our shortcomings, fractures the relationships and depletes the trust necessary for people to make changes.

A different starting point

Every person or organisation has inherent creativity, capability, imagination and success. If we begin from this perspective then a new approach to change is possible.

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is an approach to change that begins with the assumption that, for whatever the issue, there will always be examples for an individual or organisation of success. They may be fleeting or infrequent or incomplete but they will always exist.

Too often these successes are dismissed as being a distraction to the problem or too insignificant to matter. But, surely, it is worth finding out how these successes occurred – not because we want to revel in the knowledge that everything is OK but because if we really understood how these occurrences came about we might be much better equipped to create more of them.

The Appreciative Inquiry way

Appreciative Inquiry begins by asking exactly these questions. It also begins, critically, by asking them of the individuals who will ultimately be asked to change.

AI begins with establishing the change which is aspired. What does the individual or organisation want more of? This then becomes the focus of research, and questions are developed to look deeply into where such behaviour or outcomes already exist.

These questions are positively framed and individuals involved in the change are interviewed to explore the best examples of the chosen aspiration. The emphasis is on real stories and actual events as these are not only primary data but they tend also to be easier to collect and communicate.

The stories are then shared and discussed to establish what they all have in common. It is also useful to examine where they differ as this can uncover alternative and complementary strategies to success. The conclusions are then drawn together into a compelling and memorable vision of what success would look like and feel like.

The next stage is to create a set of statements for what will be necessary to create the desired future. These will be based in the vision but will be both provocative and practical and will provide guidance for action planning – both now and ongoing.

Using the vision and guidelines, action steps are created for who will do what and when – both immediately and into the future.

Why does it work?

Most people, when they hear this approach, say that it sounds very logical but struggle to see why it is so much more effective.

AI is based on a vast body of research into human behaviour in the fields of psychology, anthropology, sociology and other social sciences. It also shares its scientific underpinnings with other leading edge approaches to change like Neuro Linguistic Programming and Coaching. There are many reasons, therefore, why AI works but without going too deeply into the theory, some of the key ones are:

1) We get more of what we focus on. If we ask questions about our problems the issues will take up more of our attention and become more significant. If we inquire deeply and persistently into what we want we will find, inevitably, that we create the future that we are learning about.

2) Successful change needs to engage with what really matters to each individual. The interviews connect each individual with what really matters to them and thus help create a personally compelling reason to change.

3) Change is a social phenomenon. Relationships, support and co-operation are required for almost any change. AI fosters and grows these by creating energising, positive and transformative interactions between those involved.

4) Human beings move towards positive images of the future and the creation of a compelling, sensory rich picture of the destination is vital.

5) Change takes courage. People have more energy and confidence moving into the future (unknown) when they take forward parts of the present (known).

6) Change requires action. Positive practical steps, by as many people as possible, are essential to make progress and achieve results.

It’s a great theory, but does it actually work?

AI is proven in applications across the world. From major organisational change at NASA and British Airways to Imagine Chicago where over a million people have been engaged in the process. From coaching to creating self sufficiency in food in villages in the developing world AI has proven incredibly powerful. (See also the US Navy case study )

I believe that there are two particularly interesting things about AI. The first is that, in a world where some estimates say that 75% of all organisational change efforts fail, I have yet to come across a story about where AI has not worked.

The second is that AI is the only approach to change I know which is generative – which is to say that the scale of the change increases as you go further from the point of initiation in both space and time. Most change efforts work like a rock thrown into a pond – big ripples at first which gradually diminish to nothing. Because of the energy it creates in people AI goes on working long after and far away from where the change started – and that has to be worth having!

How could you use it?

AI can be applied from 1:1 coaching interactions to organisational change involving thousands of people. It can help individual change, the creation of powerful teams, in conflict resolution, cultural change, mergers, redundancies – any form of change in fact. It can transform workshop or training design for a short session of a few hours to much longer term projects.

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