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Finding Value in Change

Frankly Speaking: Finding Value in Change

Change is inevitable and is something that all businesses will experience. Choosing whether this experience is a proactive or reactive change depends on how you approach the subject as a company.

In my experience, companies that embrace change the best start with a clear set of Core Values. These companies also tend to be the most successful. Core Values need to have both the companies and its associates best interests in mind. Key Core Values often include topics such as Ownership, Empowerment, Growth, Communication, Culture, Work and Home Balance.

Ownership – Begins with the owner’s personal commitment and an owner/associate shared mindset driven by pride in the company and what it represents.

Empowerment – One of the strongest drivers of change, is empowering the associates and opening the doors to innovative thinking. Innovative thinking is critical in growth.

Growth – Growth is most often found after empowering associates to be both creative and willing to take on some sort of change. Growth, utilizing empowerment, creates new projects, which in-turn, creates “buy-in”, resulting in a positive behavioral change in the company. Repetitive, positive change promotes growth.

Communication – Clear, precise, incoming, and outgoing communication is necessary in business. Leadership must have an “open door” to allow information to flow throughout the company. It is important to communicate and to listen to feedback of any form. There are many ways of providing or receiving this communication, such as e-mail, phone, in person, etc. Choosing which form of communication to use will vary by the messages importance and audience.

Culture – Culture within a company is created and modeled by its leadership. It creates a mind-set of what is or is not acceptable. Leadership must be a shining example of respect and they must portray what the company stands for. Setting a positive culture will create a healthy morale, engaged employees, and positive reputation within the community.  

Work and Home Balance – Associates in most cases work to take care of their families. Think about this for a moment. Have you ever met an employee that had a family, so they can work? Showing that you care about your associates will give your company’s culture a healthy boost. As a best practice, within reason, be sensitive to the fact that the associates need to balance work and home. Both are important in their lives.

To experience growth thru positive change, leadership’s ability to interact with associates is always vital. The company’s Core Values must be shared and upheld to create an environment that welcomes change. Celebrate as a company when a change is met with positive results. When failure occurs, learn from it as a company and invite innovation into the mix. There are associates out there that have untapped abilities and they may know the path to success. The question is… Are you listening?

Frankly Speaking: Customer Service and the Power of Social Media

Frankly Speaking: Customer Service and the Power of Social Media

Anyone who works with the consumer whether it be retail, restaurants, or other services at some point will experience an upset customer.  What might happen if you (or an employee) simply shrugged your shoulders and said, “oh well.”?  While non-confrontation is almost always the right course to take, we all know that it’s not that simple.  In this day and age, that scenario would be no-where close to being over. How you respond and how quickly you handle any situation can be costly!

We’ve all been taught that customer service should always our priority.  But, do we always follow that rule?  Where does customer service end?  At the register? At the parking lot? Truth is – It never ends.  Your customers go home and review their experiences on business websites and social media to their friends and acquaintances.    Potentially, some of those friends and acquaintances will also share this experience reaching an untold number of potential customers.  When it’s a negative review, it’s the kind of “viral” experience you don’t want.   According to Statista.com*, there are approximately 2.5 billion social media accounts in the world and nearly 78% of the population in the United States alone are using social media sites. This number is expected to exceed 200 Million by the year 2020.

 

Consumers are using their online voice to reach others, and it’s having an effect on small and large companies alike. Peers listen to each other, not the companies. Every unanswered negative review or comment is costing you money!  What’s worse, 60% of companies do not respond to negative comments.  The result is that oftentimes, the negative comment is the only comment their customers have to review.   What’s worse, 88% of customers are less likely to purchase from companies that do not respond!

 

Additional stats from Statista.com* are listed below. These are staggering!

 

Yelp:

1.1   Million reviews on Yelp

88% of consumers are influenced by reviews and customer comments

Facebook:

46% of users engage with brands

39% of users offer feedback

22% expect same day response

29% expect response within 2 hours

Twitter:

1 Million consumers view tweets about customer service every single day

80% of tweets about customer service are negative

60% of companies don’t respond to Tweets

88% of twitter customers are less likely to purchase from companies that do not respond to feedback

Companies that respond gain engagement with the customer resulting in a 20-40% increase in average ticket price over non-engaged customers

 

Jeff Bezos, the Chief Executive Officer of Amazon may have put it best when he famously said: “If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell six friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000.”

 

In summary, one bad consumer experience is all it can take to ruin a business.  It may be necessary to go outside of normal procedures or take more time to find the right solution for a customer – but it’s worth it.  A customer’s lifetime of purchases and accolades will most likely outweigh the cost of investing in their complaint resolution.  It’s important to remember that this same customer has the power to take their issue to your business website or to social media.  With the potential for a single complaint to touch up to 6000 potential customers, a great customer service process and complaint resolution process is critical.  Respond quickly, respond positively in all areas of customer service should be our mantra.

 

Here are a few great ideas for your business:

*fast response time (Pre-select several people you trust to respond.)

*kindness & humor (Not at the consumers expense.)

*Not defensively (Apologize for whatever happened but don’t make excuses)

*Thank the customer (hopefully for their understanding and continued patronage)

*Always suggest a solution  (no suggestion = no resolution)

 

Citations/Sources:

* https://www.statista.com/statistics/278341/number-of-social-network-users-in-selected-countries/

* https://www.statista.com/topics/1164/social-networks/

* http://blog.paylane.com/jeff-bezos-on-customer-service/