Tuesday, November 30, 2010

100th Post

It just means he talks a lot.

A huge thank you goes out to a lot of folks today. This is my 100th blog post.

What started last December took several weeks just to get the first post written and published. The inspiration came form a Disney Institute course on leadership. So much information was coming at me so fast I felt compelled to share it.

I don't have all the answers. I'm just a messenger. I see things in real life that could be done differently.

I have a host of folks to thank for their inspiration, their support, their suggestions, and their great leadership. It's what they do, not always what they say that encourages me. So, Jeff, Donna, Mike, Craig, Stewart, Cindy, Patty, Brandon, Ronnie, Skip - Thank you for the first 100.

Here's to 100 more!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Safety is a priority for a reason

Is he thinking about safety?
Some states don't require riders to wear a helmet.

Is safety a priority with your company?

What about with you?

Safety is a priority for a reason.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

So there's this guy at the airport . . .

And he keeps smiling at everyone who passes by. He seems to be talking more to airport employees rather than passengers. But he's not wearing a badge. It doesn't appear that he works here.

He keeps asking people if they are having to work during the holiday. All of the conversations end the same. "Well, have a great Thanksgiving."

Why is he doing this? What is motivating him to be this friendly ambassador? I wonder who he works for?

Wait a minute. There's something on his shirt. It's a logo or design on his pocket. Maybe I can get a picture if I get close enough.

Now I get it! I recognize that logo. I wonder if he works for them? Here he comes. I'll ask him.

It all makes sense now. It's something he believes in. He's actually a retail manager. But he believes that no matter where he is, it's his job to help spread a little magic to those he meets. He also believes that everyone he comes in contact with is a potential customer.

What if we all had the same attitude? Instead of talking about this guy at the airport, we could be talking about him at the restaurant, or bookstore, or sporting event, or grocery store, or . . . anywhere.

"People don't care about how much you know until they know how much you care."

Monday, November 22, 2010

Heels or toes?

Are you the type of person that puts more weight on your heels or on your toes?

Are you resting on your past accomplishments or are your toes fixed on the starting line anticipating the start of the race?

We often rely on old tactics, conventional wisdom and outdated strategies to keep our businesses and lives running. But is that preventing us from moving forward?

If you are dreading going into work today, I suggest getting some medication to help your heels. They're probably going to be sore.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I got an email message from a LinkedIn group to which I belong advertising for a "Customer-Centric" Leader.

BusinessDictionary.com defines customer-centric as: "An approach to doing business in which a company focuses on creating a positive consumer experience at the point of sale and post-sale."

I would like to focus on the key phrase - post-sale. How many times have we finished a transaction and thought we're done? We hope we see that customer again. And, depending on the customer, there may be times when you hope to never see that customer again.

It's what we do during and after the transaction that tells the customer their business is appreciated and welcomed time and time again.

What can you do post transaction that gains you repeat business?

  • Smile
  • Sincerely thank your customer for their business
  • Offer a bounce back reward for their loyalty
  • Have their product in stock
  • Follow up phone call to see how they liked/disliked the product or service you offer
  • Send a letter or card asking for their business
  • Offer samples of new products
  • Encourage them to share their positive experience with others (they'll share negative ones on their own)

These are things that can set you apart from your competitors.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Opportunity Cost - How much does bad service cost?

Every decision you make has a cost associated with it.

When you choose to do one thing, you can't do something else in its place. Otherwise you would have chosen the other thing.

The same can be said for good customer service. If you choose to only offer excellent service, you can't do bad service in its place.

Most businesses don't realize they have a choice. But they constantly make the wrong choice by putting the wrong person in place to represent their company.

You want an example? A customer came in yesterday talking about her bank. She had faxed them some documentation and didn't hear a response. When she called them, they told her we didn't receive your information. She told them she had the fax confirmation showing when it was received. The person she spoke with changed her story and said they get so many faxes they don't know if they are legit so most of them get shredded. WHAT? This bank is actually paying someone to say something so ridiculous to their customer.

Today this customer came by just to tell me she closed her account with that bank.

I have no affiliation with that bank. But this customer felt compelled to tell me the story of her bad experience. Think she'll tell more people?

I wonder how much this will cost them? I wonder how they will justify their decision?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

And the award goes to . . . .

Having a good day?

Having a bad day?

Either way, your customers should not know the difference, even if this means you have to give the performance of a lifetime.

Monday, November 15, 2010

What are you afraid of?

Social Media. Does it scare you? To some people, it's like talking to them about Nuclear Armageddon.

Between blogging, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., it is tough to be a successful business without embracing some form of social media.

Some companies cite lack of experience, lack of time, lack of resources, "it's too new", etc., as their reasons for not using social media.

In an era when our customers crave information NOW, doesn't it make sense to have some social media presence?

Check out these media facts:

The first full-page newspaper ad in the United States was published in 1856. The first newspaper published in America was in 1690.

The first paid radio commercial took place in 1922 at WEAF in New York. Continuous radio broadcasts had been around for about 20 years.

Twitter started in 2006 and has an estimated 175 million users worldwide.

Facebook started in 2004 and has over 500 million users.

If you are waiting for a bigger sign or a bigger ROI (Return On Investment), stop waiting. Start doing.


@emnbensdad (That's me on Twitter.)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Not available in all areas

Have you ever seen an advertisement for a new product only to be disappointed to find out it's already out of stock once you got to the store?

I'm not talking about the bait and switch tactics some retailers use to lure you in. I'm talking about when retailers send you a specific advertising piece only to find out they were shipped 4 of them and 3 were sold to employees before they made it on the shelf. Definitely not a policy of putting customers first.

Can't the same be said for customer service? Good customer service is not available in all areas.

But it can be.

It's a choice. Businesses can choose to be in business for their customers or for themselves.

What do you choose?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Results May Vary

On the heels of yesterday's post (Some Restrictions May Apply) is today's post, Results May Vary.

You can't use the same approach for each customer because no two customers are alike. The same can be said of your employees. No two employees are alike so you have to use different ways to communicate with each of them.

If you don't, the results may vary. And they may not be the results you or your customers are looking for. Getting to know your customers will have you on the right road of placing your team members in the right positions.

Disney is famous for their guestology. That's Disney-speak for knowing and understanding their guests (customers) through qualitative and quantitative market research. Throughout their research and implementation processes, they realize that not every decision will have the same affect on every guest. They have implemented new strategies, new designs, new procedures . . . . and some have failed. But they have learned from those failures and they have incorporated that knowledge into the next decision.

Knowing that your customers and team members are unique gives you the power to fine tune your processes.

If your business is stagnant because your processes are stagnant, maybe it's time to shake things up.

The results may vary. And that could lead to more business.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Some Restrictions May Apply

This phrase is heard a lot in commercial advertising.

Do we put too many restrictions on our customers? You can't do this or you can't do that. If you do this or that then we won't do that or this.

We have policies and procedures in place for a reason. But are they customer friendly or business friendly?

This is not an offer to sell securities. Do not stamp. Do not disturb. If condition persists, consult your physician. Times approximate. Simulated picture. Batteries not included. Not recommended for children. Not responsible if lost or stolen.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Happy 235th Birthday

A customer came in this morning. He's one of our regulars. He asked "How do I look at 235?" I told him there is no way he weighed in at 235lbs.

He reminded me today is the 235th birthday of the United States Marine Corps. I was embarrassed I didn't remember.

I shook his hand and thanked him for his service.

Without him and the other men and women like him, I would not have the freedoms I currently have, including bringing you this small, insignificant blog.

To John and Skip and the millions of others who have served in the USMC, Happy Birthday and Semper Fi!

Ideal level of service

What are some key words or phrases you would use to describe the ideal level of service your organization offers?

Some examples are:
  • Skilled
  • Excellent
  • Knowledgeable
  • Caring
  • Detailed
You will probably come up with more. 

Now, let's look at it from the customer's perspective. Would they use the same words? Would their language be as complimentary?

Looking at your business/organization from the perspective of your customers is a great way to find gaps in service. Plus, if you find them before your customers do, well, won't you and your customers be better off?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


No. Not the ones from outer space. I'm using it to describe how a customer might feel after going into a place of business only to find out they are out of stock on a particular item.

Some analysts believe that over $100 billion is lost due to out-of-stock situations in retail stores across North America.

This is alienating our customers and sending them somewhere else.

The number one complaint consumers have about shopping is waiting in line. The thing that frustrates them second most is out-of-stocks.

By having a great in-stock position, you may be welcoming aliens and not know it.

How cool is that?

Monday, November 8, 2010

I've Got a Secret

I have a secret. Actually, I've got THE secret.

It is the secret to good customer service.

Are you ready? You might want to sit down for this one. It's deep. It's highly intelligent.

Now that you've stopped laughing, here it is.





There is no secret.

Countless books have been written about the secrets to effective customer service. But there is no big secret. Everyone can offer great customer service.

And doing it consistently will make you known for offering good service.

Friday, November 5, 2010

I don't know

Do you ever have to tell your customers "I don't know" when they ask you something you don't know? Hopefully you don't lie to them.

One of the lessons learned as part of my Disney Institute program on Quality Service involved how some questions get answered.

If a question was asked that could be answered, the answer began with "That's a good question." If it couldn't be answered immediately, the response began with, "That's a great question." And they would proceed to find the answer. If a question was asked that dealt with sensitive information, the response was usually "That's an excellent question" and that was it.

What do your customers expect from you? How you respond when you don't have the answer will determine whether or not they will become customers for life.

And isn't that what we want?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

How do you become an expert?

I once was given a definition of the word Expert.

Ex = has been

Spurt = a gush of water

Expert = a has been gush of water

Are you an expert in your field? If you take the definition above, it's probably not something you would want to put on a resume.

How about a real definition? An expert is defined as a person who has special skill or knowledge in some particular field; a specialist; someone with authority in a subject area.

Do your customers view you as an expert? Do they come to you for advice? If not, why not? What are you doing to change that?

It is up to you to become the specialist.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Cheerleader or Chair Leader

Are you a cheerleader or a chair leader?

Have you seen a cheerleader doing their work? If you've attended a sporting event, you've seen cheerleaders and understand their role. Smiling, enthusiastic, positive. If you've ever been to Sam's Club (the warehouse club) early in the morning, you might have witnessed one of  their pep rallies. It can be used to review the previous day, announce a change in policy, or just a way to get the staff geared up for the day ahead. It can also be a great way to recognize or reward team members for their achievements.

What about a chair leader? This is the type of person that usually sits behind a desk and delivers instructions. They might be a person who has never served in the field. Yet, due to their degree or pedigree, they hand out textbook answers in order to micro-manage. They only talk and rarely listen. I think of this position like Pharaoh from the "Ten Commandments" barking orders and edicts from their throne.

Cheer on your team to bigger and better results.

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. - John Quincy Adams

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Help Kids with Cancer

There is nothing selfish about this post.

A couple of days ago I made a post about Give Kids the World. This time I'm asking you to listen to another story.

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, located in Memphis, Tennessee, is one of the world's premier pediatric cancer research centers. Its mission is to find cures for children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases through research and treatment.

The hospital's daily operating costs are nearly $1.5 million, which are primarily covered by public contributions. St. Jude has more than 3,300 employees.

The folks at GNC have teamed up once again with their Thanks and Giving campaign to raise money and awareness for St. Jude.

You can visit your local GNC store or go here to make a donation.

Thank you.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Eleven and a half years

That's how long my business has been open today.

Just last week, a customer called to get directions to our store. She said she didn't know we were here. I told her we've been here for 11 1/2 years. She said she's been to our shopping center before but never noticed us.

Who's at fault? The customer for not noticing us or us for not being noticeable?

Do something to be noticed today.