Sunday, October 31, 2010

You have the power

A good friend was returning home from a business trip recently and was sitting in front of a mom and her daughter on the plane. They were headed to Orlando as recipients of a Give Kids The World experience.

Give Kids The World is "a non-profit organization that exists only to fulfill the wishes of all children with life-threatening illnesses and their families from around the world to experience a memorable, joyful, cost-free visit to the Central Florida attractions, and to enjoy the magic of Give Kids The World Village for as long as there is a need."

So he poses the question, "What would you do if you were sitting in front of her and her mom?" He works for  a Fortune 100 company and is in a position to help make her experience a magical one. Plus, he has the heart of a servant.

Everyday we are given the power to make a difference in the lives of someone or several someones. It can be at work, at school, in a store, at church. Anywhere. Anytime.

You have the power. How are you going to use it today?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

All team members are valuable

When you have a professional team (baseball, football, basketball, hockey, etc.) the veterans and the rookies play together to form a cohesive unit. At least on the successful teams they do.

What about in your organization? As a leader, manager or supervisor, are you building a team of inclusion or exclusion? Does the rookie in your organization have the same level of input as the seasoned veteran?

Not everyone on your team is cut out to perform at the same level or perform the same tasks. But if everyone feels like a valuable part of the team, watch what they can do if you are giving them confidence along the way.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Epiphany - Duh moment

If you are a child of the 70's or 80's,  I'm sure you remember the commercials for V8. The commercials included people who had their "epiphany" or "duh" moment.

According to  Epiphany - "a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience."

So have you had one of those "duh" moments lately? One of my customers came in the other day having experienced one herself.

For years, she has been a loyal customer. And we had been recommending a particular product to address a specific need. Finally, after everyone on our team kept reminding her of our product offering, she gave in and made the purchase.

At first, she thought we were just trying to sell her a product to make a quick buck. It took a few years of telling her the same information before she finally made the jump.

And now, she's telling everybody. You can't ask for better advertising!

The lesson here is not what the product was or what it is being used for. This is an example of how your team should deliver a consistent message to each and every customer. The truth should always be the standard. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Knowledge Is Power

I was fortunate to attend a sales meeting recently sponsored by one of our vendors. The main presenter for the evening is a very spirited, energetic and knowledgeable salesman. While some may find his tactics "over-the-top" Pat brings a level of enthusiasm and passion to his work that is rare in a retail environment.

One of his main selling tips focused on three "knows". When he first said it, I saw the word NO in my head instead of the word KNOW. Until he explained what he meant, I was scratching my head trying to think ahead and figure out what he was talking about.

1. Know your customer's name - Do you know who your best 25 customers are? What about the top 10? How about 1 or 2? Do you have a way to track them? What are you doing special for them to keep them as your top customers?

2. Know what your customer buys - In stock position is vital to any business that carries an inventory. Having the right products in at the right time is the right decision to make for success.

3. Know what your customers do - Hobbies, interests, children's activities, job . . . if they are involved you should know about it. Unless they are members of the "One and Only Club for Loners" show an interest in their interests. It goes beyond the casual conversation. Know what they do whether it's for fun or for a paycheck.

Click here to go to Wikipedia's SchoolHouse Rock page. You know you want to since you've been singing the song!

Knowledge Is Power!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Retention vs. Acquisition

More evidence has been discovered that it costs much less to keep customers rather than attract new ones.

Click here to be taken to the latest findings.

Further proof to work on those customers we have. Existing customers have a greater value.

What are you doing to retain your customers?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Let's be careful out there

Wow! I was going through my old posts and saw that this one was still labeled as "draft" and not published. Not to worry. I want to offer some of the lessons learned from the Disney Institute's Quality Service program I attended in April 2010 and there is plenty to share.

This program looked at the four basic quality standards: Safety, Courtesy, Show and Efficiency. We studied how these were used in the different delivery systems: Cast (employees), Setting and Process.

Most of us think that safety issues are something you worry about if you are on a construction site or work in a warehouse. Nothing could be further from the truth.

One particular Fortune 100 company has received a patent for a new safety design. Safety is their non-negotiating factor. It overrides everything they do. While they may have thousands of employees devoted to safety, it is the responsibility of every employee to account for safety in their area.

Do you take safety into account for every decision you make in your business?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Professional Development - No More Status Quo

How much is devoted to professional development in your budget each year?

Just because you are out of school, paid off your student loans and saving for your kids college tuition doesn't mean that the learning stops for you.

"In the long run, professional development doesn't cost. It pays."

So, where do you start? Knowing your team members is a great start. Placing them in positions where their strengths can be maximized and offering help in the areas where they are weak isn't a one-shot deal. It is an ongoing process.

When was the last time you offered training to your management team? What about for yourself? What about frontline employees? Product knowledge is easy to come by. Organizational skills, merchandising, leadership, communication skills and other subjects are all part of the process of developing team members into team leaders. Sure, there will be some that don't care to develop any further than they already are.

Professional development can be a combination of personal development as well as career advancement. It applies to almost every profession.

Are you satisfied with the status quo?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

We are all insane

Heard someone say this recently. It is so revealing.

"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over again and expecting different results."

How often do we find ourselves going through the same motions, stuck in the same routines, trying the same tactics, yet we expect a different outcome? Raise your hand if this is you.

Okay, everyone put your hand down.

Why do we do this? Yes, we are creatures of habit. But when we were kids we learned that if we put our hand on a hot stove it hurt! We should be learning from our mistakes and moving on.

Use the same principle in your business. Are you using the same marketing and advertising channels? Are you hiring the same type of people? How is all that working out for you?

Thankfully, there aren't enough asylums around to handle the influx.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Good Service vs. Great Service

The Disney Institute recently put out this request on Twitter and Facebook. 

"In a word or two, reply to tell us what you think distinguishes good service from great service."

Here are some of the responses received from around the world:

  • Great people
  • Faith in God
  • Responding to customers' needs
  • Attention to Detail
  • Attitude to SERVE
  • Extra effort
  • Listening
  • Commitment
  • Passion
  • Never having to ask for something twice
  • Sincerity in helping
  • Exceed Expectations

That's some list, isn't it? See anything on the list you could be working on? Don't your customers deserve everything on this list and then some?

It basically boils down to how you want to be treated. If you want GREAT service, start by giving GREAT service.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Accentuate The Positive - Eliminate The Negative

"Latch on to the affirmative and don't mess with Mr. In-between."

This is a great song written by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer back in the 1940's. The Andrews Sisters also made it popular

Now let's bring the idea forward to 2010. Can you name your talents? What about the talents of your team members? Do you have one job description where you shoehorn all of your team members into the same mold? Or do you maximize their abilities and provide opportunities to grow and learn? Could I ask any more questions?

Take the opportunity to know your talents. Maximize the positives. Positives can be attitude, desire, passion, confidence.

Minimize and eliminate the negatives. Negatives can be doubt, ignorance, distractions, fear.

Do this and you won't have to worry about Mr. In-between.

(If you need me to sing you the song to encourage you, find me!)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Best Practices - The Disney Institute

The term "best practices" is used quite often when referring to the Disney Institute.

Come to think of it, why would you do anything without giving it your best?

What started it all? Take a look at this video and see it through "Walt's Eyes" for a backstage tour of Disney's attention to detail and how they incorporate their best practices into what they do for their guests.

(For those of you who are getting an email copy of this blog sent to you, the video may not load properly. Please click the link at the bottom of the email to see the video. Thanks!)

Find your source of daily inspiration.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Can anyone see you?

Seth Godin has done it again. Short and to the point.

"Scarcity creates value."

Is your product or service getting lost in a sea of other products and services?

What makes you stand out? Is it you?

Say it with me and notice the emphasis of each statement.

IT can be you. It CAN be you. It can BE you. It can be YOU!


Make what you offer head-and-shoulders above the rest and watch your value soar!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010



No. Not TOGA. This isn't a college frat party!

T.O.M.A. = Top Of Mind Awareness

A fellow blogger and Disney Institute alum recently commented that in her business, a bulk-mail operation in Indiana, she has clients calling her before they call the post office because they know that she will answer their questions in a way they can understand. When they think of mail, she wants them to think of her! Way to go Donna!

Another term that describes this type of awareness is brand loyalty. What do your customers think of when they hear your company name?

One such company that enjoys this type of brand loyalty, this top of mind awareness, is the Disney family of companies. From ESPN, ABC, the Disney Cruise Line, Walt Disney World, Disneyland, to movies, TV shows, websites and professional learning, the Disney company is ranked as the 8th Best Global Brand according to BusinessWeek.

Now you may be thinking that you're company may never get to the level of a Disney or IBM or Coca Cola. But those companies didn't become an overnight success. They took time, doing the same thing day after day until they achieved a level of respect as a leader.

Everyone in your organization plays a key role in developing customer loyalty and brand recognition. If you are one product in a sea of products, it is your brand you want them to notice. You'll be surprised at the relationship between loyalty and the health and future of your business.

Monday, October 11, 2010


Most of us have had numerous milestones in our lives. The birth of a child, marriage, first house, first car, first love, 20th High School Reunion (and you survived!), etc.

Since this blog began in December of 2009, it has reached a few milestones. First, the blog was read by someone outside the state of Georgia. Next came a day when it received it's first visit from a foreign country.

Now, I've been blessed with getting the message out to 25 states and 17 foreign countries. With nearly a thousand page views a month, the word is getting out.

To my friends who have "retweeted", "liked", or somehow passed on the message, I cannot thank you enough for your generosity and support.

Just remember, everything you do is about your customer.

Also, kudos to a good friend who gave me the title of this blog. It's what he has preached for years and his customers believe it. And when they don't believe it's working, they let him know about it.

What are you doing in your business that really shows your customers are a priority?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Nil Desperandum

Did some reading Wednesday night and I saw this phrase in two totally unrelated articles and one blog post.

Fate? Encouragement? Inspiration? Call it what you will.

Nil Desperandum - Never Despair

It's pretty simple. Never give up. Don't despair. This came from the pen of a man who lived over 2000 years ago in an age where social class meant everything. And he had none. 

Early this coming Saturday I am running in my first 5k POHSE. . . post open heart surgery era. Yes, for those who don't know, I had open heart surgery March 11, 2004. The problem was discovered and rectified in less than 72 hours. There was no time for despair. No time to quit. We had just had our second child and were only married 7 1/2 years at that point.

As I approach the finish line Saturday, this thought will be in my head. That and "I can't breathe, I can't breathe! My legs are killing me!"

This could be the change I've been seeking for years. I hope it is.

Nil Desperandum

PS. This is a little off topic from my regular postings about customer service. If your business is suffering in these lean economic times, don't give up. Don't despair. Nil desperandum.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Do you buy "in-house"?

One of my store fronts is in a great traffic location. No, it's not out in the middle of the road. The shopping center in which we are located gets a lot of pedestrian traffic walking in front of the store. I see customers and other shopping center employees crisscrossing all day long.

What struck me as odd the other morning was an employee of the grocery store anchor walking by. It was his return trip that really caught my attention. He had what appeared to be a sub and a drink from the deli located in our shopping center. Yes, this was around lunch time.

Can you see where I'm going with this?

His store offers a full service deli . . . in-house. Assuming this was for himself, why did he go elsewhere when he should be able to get the comparable product from his own business? That $5 he chose to spend somewhere else is now gone. Multiply that by the number of customers a day times the number of days a year they are open and soon that $5 trip turns into a large sum of cash.

Are your employees spending their dollars someplace else? Do you know why? Have you tried to change that? Have you asked them? What are you missing?

These are key questions leaders need to answer.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Customer Service Tips - Be Helpful

This is nothing new. People come in and use you for information then spend their dollars elsewhere. That's okay. If they keep coming to you asking questions, you keep on providing answers. They trust you.

If they start telling their friends and family to do the same thing, that's okay too.

That's your reputation.

If they end up buying from you because of the level of service you continually offer, that's great!

That's your relationship.

If your business grows because your customers can depend on you, well, isn't that why you're in business?

That's your reward!

So, go ahead, be helpful to everyone . . . . everywhere . . . . everyday!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Customer Service Tips - Go the Extra Mile

This term has its origins during Biblical times. Roman soldiers could ask anyone to carry their sack or equipment for a mile. Jesus said, "And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain."

By going the extra mile for your customer, you are doing more than what is expected. You are going above and beyond the norm.

By doing so, your customers will remember you in a positive way and they may be more loyal to you.

If you are finding a tough way to start, watch this video about going over the top.

Make the choice today to go the extra mile. Of course, you can also make the choice that you are just going to sit around and collect a paycheck and not even go the first mile.

I guess those are the folks who don't need a job.