When you choose to make the jump from employee to owner – will you have what it takes? In Astronaut lingo, will you have the “right stuff”? And what is the “right stuff” anyways? How will you know if you do or don’t have it – and does it really matter as long as you have some stuff?!? Read more
CEO’s are just as human as the people we employ. Even so, there are lessons we learn as an employee that should stick, but sometimes get lost along the path. Years ago, I managed a team of employees whose job it was to distribute collateral across a world-wide organization. I had grown the team from 3 to 7 employees in the space of a year. It had been a great year and my annual performance review reflected my growth. Within it however was one bump in the road that I needed to improve upon in the coming year. At the time, I was in charge of a marketing print & fulfillment budget of around $2M, and my Director had requested that I sharpen my cost-control and accountability skills to show an improved ROI this next year.
How was I going to sharpen my accounting skills and apply them within the 12 month window to show my progress? How was I going to run a growing team with growing responsibilities and needs, without losing momentum? Budgets were tightening and I needed to figure it out quickly.
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!
1.1 Million reviews on Yelp
88% of consumers are influenced by reviews and customer comments
46% of users engage with brands
39% of users offer feedback
22% expect same day response
29% expect response within 2 hours
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)
What follows is personal introspective insight. It may contain thoughts or ideas that you may or may not directly agree with. It may be controversial, but knowing myself it probably isn’t. As a friend taught me recently, whether you agree or disagree with these thoughts isn’t as important as how you internalize these thoughts to develop your own opinion on the subject. This piece was not written by a “ghost writer” or anyone professionally recognized for their writing prowess. Neither am I a subject matter expert or anything like that – these are simply personal insights that I felt were valuable enough to share with you, the reader. I randomly chose a topic based on personal inspiration and pondered on it. Hopefully the results will be as much a value to you as they have been to me. I hope you enjoy my thoughts on the topic and welcome your feedback, as it helps my personal and professional growth to consider the perspectives of others. – Enjoy.
Let’s start this blog with a confession… I rarely use social media for what it’s intended for – to share personal throughts, ideas, or experiences with the world at large – it simply goes against my nature to openly share them in that fashion. That said, on September 15th I broke that rule with a Facebook post, the result of which was an entirely unexpected, almost immediate and surprisingly on-going interest in this blog’s topic…
The Facebook post started with a simple, open-ended statement:
“20 years working for large corporations. 10 years (well almost) as CEO of my own company. In 30 years of combined business experience, it only hit me today what truly defines a successful company. It’s not financials. It’s not product. It’s not benefits. It’s not job title. What makes a company great is it’s…”
From that simple post, which only my friends could read (again, I’m not a “public” person by nature) I received 33 posts and 16 suggestions as to what makes a company great. Only one of the 16 guesses matched mine – which intrigued me even more. Guesses that didn’t match mine were – people, partnerships, associations, integrity, accomplishments, service, customer appreciation, credibility, adaptability, team work, money, relationships, loyalty, respect, and my personal favorite – “free pizza”.
The answer is a conglomoration of all of the above really.
What causes a company to succeed or fail is mostly a product of it’s CULTURE.
When you boil it down – nothing else even comes close. It’s why employees seek you out or leave you in droves. It’s why your people work with you to succeed, or jump ship at the first sign of real work. It’s what motivates employees to become better people, or sinks them deeper into employee zombie-like depression.
Culture is what makes the difference. It’s not a slogan, a motto, or a poster you see on a hallway wall that’s meant to inspire you – it’s not that cheesy and it’s definitely not that easy.
As a business owner, the culture that you and your employees create, maintain, and share is the key differentiator between you and your competition. It’s the glue that holds the organization together or the acid that rips it apart.
As an employee, I’ve worked for several large multi-national corporations and for years I diligently served my corporate masters in numerous capacities from customer service rep to mid-level management. I’ve prospered in organizations whose cultures were awesome and survived in a few who’s culture’s were – well, let’s just politely say “chaotic” at their best.
A successful company’s culture is typically an actively spoken, sometimes written, but always understood agreement between employers and employees. It’s a united we stand, divided we fall sort of understanding. It’s one that openly communicates and actively applies certain values, beliefs, and communal goals that together we reach to achieve. The goal being to obtain and uphold a better standard of community within our organization. It’s actively spoken and demonstrated by everyone involved – from the top to the bottom and everywhere in the middle.
When a great culture is adopted, accepted, and lived by all – success typically follows.
When not – it can be disasterous – for an individual, a team, or an entire enterprise.
So there it is – the culmination of 30 years of business experience – and it all boils down to a simple word, “Culture”. I wish that were the entirety of what I learned, I really do – but I pondered on this topic for almost 3 weeks since that initial Facebook post and as a result have lots of in-depth concepts and ideas to share…
If you would like to learn more about my thoughts and ideas related to what makes a great culture and how to recognize one when you see it – please revisit this blog site over the next 2 weeks as I generate two more posts related to this topic. Who knows what I’ll discover next?…
Thanks for sharing enough interest in this topic
to reach the bottom of the page!