Wednesday, September 29, 2010

You've drawn the line - Now what?

For whatever reason, you have drawn your line in the sand. Whether it is a policy violation from one of your employees or a customer who is trying to take advantage of you, you have said enough is enough.

Now, that line has been crossed. What do you do? Do you sacrifice your integrity just so your reputation stays positive?

Seth Godin, blogger extraordinaire, recently published a blog titled "Little lies and small promises" that deals with reputation. There's always room for flexibility. But at what cost?

What do you stand for?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Are you singing the Monday blues?

Do you dread going into work today?

Do you long for the weekend?

Do you count the number of days until Friday?

Do you celebrate "hump" day?

Do you need to change your attitude?

Perhaps you need to look at your day the way the Swiss Family Robinson looked at theirs.

Friday, September 24, 2010

It was a simple gesture

We went to his office. He actually came in late that day. As it turned out he was working from home that morning. It was a nice day to be at the office. Lots of folks milling around. Busy, busy, busy.

But on this busy day at the office, he made it a point to find me and make a special delivery. This wasn't just any delivery. He knew I was bringing my kids to his office so he brought some special trinkets that they were sure to enjoy. A simple gesture on his part? Not really. It was well thought out. It came from a heart that is grateful, and has an infectious kindness that reaches around the world.

What's a simple gesture you can do today, right now, that will mean the world to someone else? You don't have to give them tonight's winning lottery numbers. A trinket, a gift, a hand shake, a thank you . . . it all counts.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Going through the motions

Do you have your daily routine? Chances are you do.

Does your routine include a dose of excellence? Chances are it doesn't.

Sometimes we forget to include excellence in our choices each day. There's always a choice.

For those of you who have incorporated it into your routine, bully for you!

For those who have forgotten what excellence feels like, find someone to mentor who defines excellence. I have mine. 

Your customers, family, and friends will be better off. So will you.

Monday, September 20, 2010

That dreaded word - A-U-D-I-T

We were audited recently. No, not by the IRS. But our company contracts with another company to do surprise visits and evaluate our stores. They grade things like how well the store looks, displays that are correctly merchandised, wall sections that are in their proper place, not having expired products, etc. They judge the store from the customers' perspective and give us a score. A perfect score of 100 is the goal. However, we know that we will not, in most cases, achieve the 100.

Why not?

Because we've settled for less than perfect, that's why. We've decided that as a company, we don't want to deliver the best to our customers. We sent a memo to all employees outlining our new company philosophy. We are to fear the audit and the auditor. We must try to please the auditor and only the auditor. We must devote all of our time to making sure we do not displease the audit gods. We would not want to upset the auditor on their two yearly visits.

Or not.

There was no memo. There was no communication from management that said we are to kowtow to the will of the auditor. Yet there are a number of companies whose focus and drive are only to achieve a perfect score on their review. They do this at the expense of truly focusing on their customers. Yes, we say we want to have a customer focused operation. But how many of us practice that day-to-day?

Do you realize that your customers audit you every day? They give you a grade but it's based on product assortment, quality, price, employee knowledge and WIIFM . . . what's in it for me. If we realized and believed that EVERYTHING we do is about our customer all the time, customers would be beating down the doors trying to get a piece of the action.

Recognize that your customers are your best and worst auditors. Focus on them using established policies, procedures and practices and you might lose them. Focus on your customers by doing what is best for them and you might have to rewrite the policies, procedures and practices.

A = All
U = You
D = Do
I = Is for
T = Them

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Perfect Lunch

As part of my Disney Institute course on Quality Service, one of the lessons was devoted to Setting and how it is used as a delivery system within the framework Disney uses for their exceptional service. As one of the exercises, our class was offered the "perfect lunch" following one of the morning sessions.

Having just studied what Disney does to emphasize the setting for their guests, we all were looking forward to a lavish meal. One thing Disney is well known for is their cuisine. We arrive in our room and we find . . . in a word . . . chaos. While the selection of food was ample, it was totally out of order. Silverware was located at one end of the buffet line, while plates and food were scattered randomly around the tables. Several themes existed; one was pirate a pirate theme and the other was colonial. Napkins were hidden. Soup bowls were nowhere near the soup. Plates were too small. Get the picture? Little did we know the server was also part of the setting. He was apologetic and through his conversations, he encouraged us to talk about the experience without saying, "How does this make you feel" or "Isn't this a lousy setup".

While this "chaos" seemed out of place, it was well thought out. Organized chaos? Aren't those terms mutually exclusive?

The setting involves the environment and the individual objects within that environment. It should send the right message, guiding your guest through the experience and involve multiple sensory details. How your operation looks, where things are located within your environment, even how your on-stage areas smell, . . . these all have a part in a successful setting.

Are your brochures spelled correctly? Is the lighting correct for the environment? Is there ambient noise that is disrupting the experience? All of these work together to complete the experience for your guest.

We eventually caught on to the lesson offered even though we thought we were on a lunch break. The only time your setting should take a break is when access by your guests is not allowed. Unless your operation is closed, there is no break.

Your guests demand and deserve better than the perfect lunch.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Who is responsible?

You are a manager. Good!

You are working the front line. Great!

A customer comes in. Wonderful!

They want to see you. Sweet!

They don't look happy. Uh-oh!

They want to lodge a complaint about one of your employees. Rats!

Who is responsible? Me?

Should the employee be the one to make it right? No. You'll talk to the employee and get their side of the story, right? No. You're committed to handling the situation right then and there. YES!

While the customer may just need to vent, action on your part will show them you care enough beyond just listening. At that moment, you are responsible. At that moment, you need to take action. At that moment the customer needs to know that when they leave, a resolution is in the works.

Are you responsible?

Post Script

As this blog has developed over the last 9 months, I've posted on an irregular basis.

I am working on getting new posts out on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Thanks for your feedback publicly on the blog and privately to my email. If you have a topic you would like discussed, send me a note. We're all here for each other.

Remember, everything you do is about your customer.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Workplace Values - Integrity

Can Opener - Check

Can of worms - Check

How focused are you on the bottom line? What about integrity?

What do you think are some common workplace values in a business that lacks integrity? These can be values that are prevalent among front line employees, management or corporate leaders. Let me help you with the list.
  • Lack of Direction/Focus
  • Situational Ethics
  • WIIFM - What's In It For Me
  • Personal Gain
  • Selfishness
  • Greed
  • Dishonesty
I bet we all can identify some business we've come across that have displayed one or all of these traits.

But if a business is based on integrity, then we have a different list of values.
  • Defined Goals
  • Doing what is Right
  • Customer Focused
  • Teamwork
  • Creativity
Take a look around. Is your business based on integrity? What do they value more - Integrity or the bottom line?

Values lead to Beliefs. Beliefs lead to Thoughts. Thoughts lead to Choices. Choices lead to Behaviors. Behaviors lead to Results.

Friday, September 10, 2010

5 Steps to clean up a mess

I received a Tweet the other day (yes, I'm a Twit-ter-er) about "How to clean up your social media mess in 5 simple steps". As I read along, I realized that these 5 steps can be applied to any situation where you've made a mistake, not just in a business/social media sense.

Think about the last mistake you made. Now, see how this list can help you get beyond that mistake.
  1. Admit your mistake. This isn't to show you are a better person. It's to show that you are human and you have faults. Sometimes publicly admitting your mistakes helps you overcome them.
  2. Respond directly and publicly to the most vocal objections. If someone is out to exploit your error, this can take the wind out of their sails. 
  3. Give people a channel to vent. Sometimes people just need to be heard. If it is a customer you have wronged, let them speak. 
  4. Do something right. The timing of your correction can be extremely powerful. Don't wait to respond. Make it right.
  5. Don't make the same mistake again. Turn it into a learning experience, not just for you but for your team (if you are a leader). Even if you are part of the front line staff, others will observe your behavior and could possibly benefit from your mistake.
Sounds easy right? It all depends on how you handle yourself following the mistake. Take responsibility, respond, make it right and move on. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Excuses - Be sure to check your math

We've all seen them. Those motivational posters that line the walls of businesses around the world. They are a combination of pristine scenery and inspirational text designed to motivate you into action.

One such poster was relayed to me by a 14-year-old after someone was complaining about not doing well on a video game. They were complaining that their game remote wasn't working right. She chimed in,

"Don't make excuses, make improvements."

We've all been in those situations. Something doesn't look right or some project doesn't come out the way it was planned. Was it the planning or the execution that failed? Did we leave out a step in an already established process that led to an undesired result?

I remember being reminded in school to always check your math. Once you turn in your paper, test, homework, etc., it's too late to go back and make corrections. Sure there is room for mistakes in life. That's how we grow. What we do with the information is up to us. Are you going to whine about some uncontrolled variable or are you going to improve the process and decision making skills in order to complete the task?

Be sure to check your math.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Are you a shirker, a jerker or a worker?

As the country celebrates Labor Day today, I would like to share something I heard in a sermon recently by a good friend.

Are you a Shirker, a Jerker, or a Worker?

A shirker - a person who actively evades duties, responsibilities or work.

A jerker - a person who starts off like a rocket but ends up falling like a rock.

A worker - a person who acts or operates effectively.

Which one are you?

We've all probably been in each category at least once. But what are you on a daily basis? Nobody wakes up and decides they are going to be a shirker, do they?

If you are going to work tomorrow, which one will you be?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Bad Customer Experience - Who Do You Tell?

We did our regular Sunday night routine. Went to church. Left church. Went to a particular restaurant to get the regular order for Sunday nights. We've done this same routine more times than not. We go through the drive thru (if it's not too long), place our order and then we're told to drive around to the front of the building to wait for our order? What? No one was in line behind us. The order wasn't that big.

Two things here that bug me. First, why make us drive around front? Second, are you trying to inflate your numbers so that your store looks good to the corporate office? To inconvenience your customers this way . . NOT GOOD. Hey restaurant, was it worth the 10 minutes I spent online last night complaining? How about the extra 10 minutes I complained on the phone? It was to me. And I asserted my right to complain.

And now I am putting it out there for everyone to read.

A bad experience for one of your customers doesn't just stay between you and your customer. They'll talk. And if it's bad enough, they'll walk.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


How remarkable are you?

Many years ago, I had a math professor who would randomly throw in some English lessons during Math class. It had to do with any word that started with "re" like refrigerate, regret and remark. He would ask if you "re" something, what was that something to begin with that needed to be done over? Like regret. How do you gret something in order to regret it?

Take the word remarkable. If you use my professor's logic, in order for something to be remarkable it first needs to be markable, or able to be marked . . . hmmm. Why would you mark something? Because it's special? Because it stands out from other things around it?

That's the very definition of remarkable. Something that worthy of notice or attention.

Is your business worthy of notice or attention? Are you doing something to stand out in your organization? Or are you just another cog in a machine? It may take a while for you to be noticed. But something worthy of being remarkable goes beyond just being noticed. You can run down the street naked and get noticed. That doesn't make it remarkable.

Fireworks aren't remarkable. Fireworks that explode in the shape of the Empire State Building . . . . now that's remarkable!