The Best Customer You NEVER Had!

Customer Relationship

Customer Relationship 

Creating Customers who create customers.

Regardless of your type of business, number of employees or who your “customer” is…they are still YOUR customers.

 “There is a growing amount of data indicating why word-of-mouth marketing is so appealing,” reports U.K. Marketing Director and Business Startup Specialist Alex Joll. A Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising and Brand Messages report, published recently states that, ‘recommendations from people I know’ are the most trusted form of brand advertising, with a score of 84 per cent.  And as digital communications have penetrated our world, this figure has grown, having been just 78 per cent in 2007.

Still not convinced? Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a measure that can quantify the statement I made above. More and more companies are using this measure to define their operating model. But this is only the first step. The second step is to understand why customers are (or are not) promoting your business. There is a causal link between NPS and the effort a customer has to make in obtaining your product or service. When you change your operating model and staff mindset, to deliver an ease of doing business, NPS goes up quickly.

Word of Mouth Marketing – Steps to Success

Here are five strategies to create a customer who creates customers:

1.  Have the right people “on the bus
Best-selling author and business professor, Jim Collins is relentless in his advice regarding how important it is, “to have the ‘right’ people on the bus to have a sustainable successful organization.” All too often we hire for skill over attitude, when it should be a combination of both.  Look around your business; are the people there because of attitude and passion or some other reason.

2.  Alignment of purpose
Every employee should be familiar with and be in ‘alignment’ with expected values and behaviors. When employees are aligned they make decisions that consistent and in-sync with that purpose. A recent study from the annual Deloitte Core Beliefs and Culture Survey reported that businesses do not do enough to instill in their culture a sense of purpose aimed at making a meaningful impact. This applies to all stakeholders (internal and external).  Word-of-mouth marketing still ranks very high – especially in today’s world of social media.

3.  Listen to the Customer
Few would argue that in today’s NEW NOW the customer experience rules, so the importance of listening skills should NOT be under-rated. In fact, because listening skills are not taught in school, a listening skill tune-up for managers and employees can significantly improve both employee and customer engagement.   Another way to listen to the customer is to implement a mystery shopping program. Sophisticated mystery shopping organizations can provide an array of data, for instant feedback where improvements can and should be made.

4.  Exceed Customer Expectations
For the world’s most successful brands, customer experience represents so much more than service—it begins the moment a customer hears about your brand, and follows them through their decision-making process, purchase and post-purchase. Let your customers know that you’re thinking and care about them. Use a contact database program to keep in touch with them frequently.

5.  The “Best Customer You NEVER Had”
I love this phrase.  Too often we are focused on the “end results.”  Even if this particular person doesn’t become your customer, by following the above strategies, they are sure to become an ambassador and recommend you.


29. October 2013 by Alan
Categories: Uncategorized | Comments Off on The Best Customer You NEVER Had!

Become a Better Listener

Listen Logo (smaller)

Listen Logo (smaller)  How Well Do YOU Listen?  FACT: Better listeners are better at influencing others…

…says a recent Columbia Business School research study, LISTENING AND   ORGANIZATIONAL INFLUENCE, CLICK HERE. The study goes on to suggest that, “How well organizational members listen is  positively associated with their tendencies to influence others, over and above how well they engage in expressive communications.” Listening is one of the most important, yet under developed skills, necessary for  success in our personal and professional lives. However, if we’re going to be honest, most of us take listening for granted and we aren’t very good at it. Unfortunately, our schools don’t recognize the significance of  this reality.  In addition, for those of you who are parents, when was the last time you thought your kids were listening to you, much less in school? My friend and colleague, Executive Coach, Henry (Chip) Scholz,  reminds me that Lee Iacocca, former CEO of Ford and  Chrysler said more than thirty years ago that, “Business people need to listen at least as much as they talk. Too many people fail to realize that real  communication goes in both directions.” Iacocca also said, “I only wish that I could find an institute that teaches people how to listen.”  The reality is that most schools don’t offer classes nor teach listening skills. Bernard T. Ferrari, dean of The Johns Hopkins University’s Carey Business School and accomplished corporate strategist and management consultant to Fortune 50 companies, says in his book Power Listening: Mastering the Most Critical Business Skill of All, that,

Become a better listener through Power Listening

“Power listening–the art of probing and challenging the information garnered from others to improve its quality and quantity—is the key to building a knowledge base that generates fresh insights.” What’s wrong with this picture? Many years ago while working for AT&T in Michigan, I hired Dr. Lyman Steil, then Chairman of the communication department at University of Minnesota and currently Chairman & CEO, Communication Development,  Inc & International Listening Leadership, to help us improve the listening skills of mid-level managers and above.  This three-day (required) class became part of the catalyst for measuring AT&T’s customer satisfaction (from the customer’s perspective), rather than an internally created metric. Ironically, what was once thought of as the holy grail of business, customer service, has been displaced in today’s marketplace by the importance of the customer’s experience. Kathy Doering, President of Ann Michaels & Associates, Ltd., one of the most sophisticated mystery shopping organizations in the U.S., understands the benefits of listening, more than most. She says, “Your front line employees are an often untapped source of innovative ideas and information on what customers think about doing business with you. Lead by example–show them the of value good listening skills. Mentor those who need help in this area and reinforce it, then, watch your business prosper.” In the article “Listening and interpersonal influence,” in the Journal of Research in Personality (2012), Author(s): Daniel Ames, Joel Brockner & Lily Benjamin said that, “The gold standard of good listening is not measured by how quiet you are, it’s about doing things to let the other person know that you are seriously considering what he has to say” We might also do well to remember that the most highly crafted presentation in the world is useless, if no one is listening. Marketing wizard and best selling author, Seth Godin has some great perspective on listening CLICK HERE. He also recently said, “your version of better might not be good enough.” Especially in the area of listening skills! Considering all that’s been written about the shortfall of this important subject, I suggest you explore what’s available and take advantage of it so you can be better!. If the topic of becoming a better listener and a better influencer interests you, check out this short video: “BECOME A BETTER LISTENER,” CLICK HERE. 

03. February 2013 by Alan
Categories: Business leadership, Customer Experience, Human Resources, Listening Skills, Marketing, Non-profit, Recruitment & Re, Social Media/Busines | Comments Off on Become a Better Listener

Why EMPLOYERS Don’t (Appear to) CARE…Culture Leadership

Fear of Culture Change

Fear of Culture Change

Culture Leadership and Employees Caring

Recently, I published a blog titled:  “How to Get EMPLOYEES to CARE.” I received several emails from readers who shared experiences and examples of “employees” who cared,  but “employers” who didn’t. To all who sent emails, thank you for suggesting this topic.

So, now for a different twist:  “Why EMPLOYERS Don’t (Appear to) CARE… Fear of Culture Leadership”

It doesn’t matter if it’s a direct report manager or the president of the company, all too often; it appears that employers don’t care.

I’d like to focus on a few reasons why employers might not care and the impact of culture leadership.  NOTE:  This may frustrate some, making it even harder to have a good attitude at work; however, it’s good to know what may be, behind the apathy. In virtually every instance where employers appear not to care, the root cause can be traced to their practice of outmoded, ineffective, inefficient and obsolete LEADERSHIP SKILLS. After all, hardly any business schools in the U.S require courses on this topic. This lack of knowledge causes fear of changing the culture — the civilization we work in.


Culture Leadership – What You Can Do

The upshot of this behavior is a “culture by default.” Where, more often than not,  fear and distrust permeate the workplace. People feel they’re walking on eggshells. Most employees feel discouraged and have a “we vs. them” attitude. Their performance slips and either they try to hang in because after all, “it is a job and money,” or they leave. While this is going on, customers sense the negativity and take their business elsewhere. Vendors, suppliers and other stakeholders are also impacted. And perhaps worst of all, the longer an employer continues to accept a culture by default, the longer the business suffers.

A few other symptoms include, employers who:

  • Are not models but rather exceptions to the values they encourage and thus destroy their own credibility.
  • Spend so much time working “in” their business that they have little time to work “on” their business.
  • Are too often driven by performance and profit, rather than creating value.
  • Tend to be so focused on “bottom line” that they miss the big picture.
  • Are not strategic thinkers and therefore, justify their existence by micromanaging.
  • Don’t seem to appreciate the value of intellectual capital.
  • Are in denial that “they” be may be the reason their employees are “disengaged.”
  • Fail to recognize how much happy, productive employees, impact the business in a positive way.

Now, as much as I hate to admit it, there is little that can be done to get employers to care.  There are heads of organizations that simply just don’t care.  They’ve made it to the top, are making big bucks (with the lifestyle that goes with it), and if someone quits, they can be replaced. They don’t effectively communicate or interact with their employees; they give orders and expect them to be carried out, and typically are not interested in changing their own behavior. These heads of organizations either don’t know how, or are not interested in creating value for the business.

Fortunately, culture can be changed when employers are ready and willing to make improvements. However, the process requires employers who know how to listen and willing to modify behavior. There are several chapters devoted to this topic in my new book UpStream — Are YOU ready to turn YOUR business around?  I’m also a strong advocate of periodically bringing in, an outside expert. Someone with “fresh eyes” and “fresh ideas,” who can coach key managers to become practitioners of todjay’s effective leadership and management styles.  

When there is an (intentional) strong positive culture — employers and employees CARE and COLLABORATE.  The results are endless.  Just like the title from the classic Dr. Seuss book: Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

They say that great leaders are great influencers. And while we know that many great leaders don’t in fact, “lead” anything, they still can be great influencers of others, to do the right thing.

   Please leave a comment about organizations where employers and employees CARE. It would also be helpful if you could share an example of how they do that.

26. September 2012 by Alan
Categories: Business leadership, BuyButtons, Customer Experience, Human Resources, Marketing, Non-profit, Recruitment & Re, Social Media/Busines, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 26 comments

← Older posts