Accountability and tapdancing

You may have seen a recent video of a Senate Finance Committee hearing with the Chairman of the Board of a large bank. He was being questioned about his accountability for his company’s behavior regarding opening new accounts on behalf of their clients.

Form your own opinion about the hearing. We’re here to discuss why it was handled as it was by the Chairman and why you can’t do that.

What you can’t do

The infuriating things about the video:

  • The Chairman makes a few comments that give the impression that his company did no wrong.
  • He shows no sign of accountability for the whole thing (and nor do his managers).
  • He indicates that he can’t provide guidance to the board about the nature of the company’s future actions.
  • He asserts that the whole thing was about one percent of his employees, with a tone that implies it’s really not a problem at all.

What makes it even more aggravating is that the value of the Chairman’s stock rose about $200 million during the period discussed. This means that the value of the company’s stock was misrepresented during that time.

Bottom line, while the camera was running, he washed his hands of the whole thing and of his possible future role in taking corrective action, much less punitive action against the senior managers involved.

Yet, he had a decent enough reason.

The reason for his position is that anything he said during that questioning was likely to be used against him and the company. Whether he is a slimy cretin or not, he is an officer in the company and has a fiduciary obligation to protect the company. One might theorize that lying (if that’s what he was doing) isn’t a good way to do that, but I suspect he was advised well in advance about what he could and couldn’t say to avoid making things worse.

Unless you’re the CEO / Chair of the Board / officer of a publicly traded company, you can’t do that.

What you have to do

If something bad like this happens, the worst things you can do are exactly what he did:

  • Dodge questions.
  • Give vague answers or non-answers.
  • State that you have no responsibility, despite being the Chairman of the Board (or in your case, the owner)
  • State that you have no obligation to lead your board to a decision about making management accountable.
  • State that you cannot lead your board to a decision about making yourself accountable
  • Decline to comment about your level of accountability.

This guy’s customers have a choice. They can get over it in some form, or they can eliminate this company from their lives by closing all of their accounts and banking elsewhere. Moving bank accounts is not easy. Between the regulations that require a bunch of paperwork (in most cases) and a visit to a local bank branch, and changing any electronic bill payments (or similar), it isn’t fun.

Your customers will likely have a much easier time moving to a competitor – if that is their choice. Your comments to any questions about whatever you’re dealing with are going to set the tone for their response and reaction.

When you do these things, you likely won’t be scrutinized by the Senate. In your case, your clients will likely be judge, jury and (hopefully not) executioner.

It was only one percent of our employees

One part of this hearing stuck out to me. The Chair said (paraphrased) “it was only one percent of our employees“. His tone implied that they were bad apples and he had no control or oversight over them. He said that despite the fact that there was a senior manager responsible for implementing the program that created this mess. That senior manager worked for him. Management laid out the program these people worked under, created a bonus schedule for it, oversaw the program and made it expectations clear.

Whether one percent of your employees is 5000 people or five (or it’s just you), you don’t have the choice this guy made. You have to take accountability straight up and dole it out to your team as well. When and if something like this happens, the responsibility to all yours. Own up to it, take your licks, hand out a few as needed and make changes to prevent future occurrences. The rest of your business’ life depends on it.

Selling to everyone

Selling isn’t about the shine; it’s about what happens when the shine has worn off.

Will your (or your clients’) management will think positively of you a year from now because of an investment you championed?

They’d better.

Sales calls: How they react

What’s your reaction when a salesperson calls?

Are there any salespeople who stand out from the crowd that you don’t want to talk to? If you’re a salesperson and you don’t get sales calls, ask around your company about the nature of the sales calls your management receives. You could learn a lot about the calls you make.

With a few exceptions, here are the reasons why I react the way I do to your sales call:

  • I don’t know you, even though you act like I do.
  • I still have a bad feeling about our last deal and you act like that didn’t happen.
  • I don’t need anything right now, but I am willing to listen to new stuff – just in case – IF you make an appointment.
  • You don’t have an appointment. Message received = You don’t respect my schedule or my time.
  • I’m the wrong person or we’re have zero need.
  • Last time we talked, you gave a generic presentation suited to all businesses, rather than one fine tuned for my business needs.
  • Your last presentation was like drinking from a firehose.
  • The financials from our last discussion were generic and didn’t identify the payoff period.
  • Your assessment of labor cost savings (despite my objections/feedback) is inaccurate and/or you tend to ignore the additional costs incurred by implementing your solution, such as management costs.
  • You are out of touch with what’s going on with the product side of your business, such as open issues, deliverability delays, implementation costs / timelines.

Sales calls: How they want to react

What people would like to feel when you call is “This person is a champion for our company. They only call when there’s a likely win ready for me, or when I need to know about something new in the industry that might affect our business.

You get to that point in your clients’ minds in part by asking yourself questions like these:

Why am I qualified to propose these solutions?

Do I have testimonials not only for my solution and company, but for the job I’ve done helping my clients?

My prospect / client fits us well because…

We are a good fit for our prospect / client because…

Have you reviewed the alternatives to your solution? If so, what are the pros and cons of each and why is yours the best fit for us?

Is my company a market leader? Not just in revenue, but in vision.

Is my company cranking out the same old thing to milk their cash cow, or are we also thinking about what our clients upcoming needs and producing something to address them?

Can my solution, my company and my proposal help my clients solve problems without causing them to lose momentum?

Selling to everyone means selling to anyone

When you produce financials to sell your deal, you have to do the math and show your work, just like a high school test. Your proposal’s payback, implementation timeline and life cycle must reflect the client’s reality and your company’s ability to deliver.

The challenge is that every department views ROI differently. Today, you’re often selling to everyone in your client’s company.

A proposal citing the accounting and tax benefits will interest Accounting, but will resonate with Manufacturing / Shipping people who are concerned with process efficiency, throughput, MTBF and similar metrics?

Without buy in from everyone involved, your sale will be harder than it has to be.

Everyone involved“? The discussion that sells the CEO and CFO will differ from one that gets Manufacturing on board, much less the one that gives the warehouse manager the tools necessary to get their staff on board.

Why should you care about whether the warehouse is on board?

Because they can kill a purchase, even though you never hear it that way. No CEO will tell you that Margaret in Accounting killed the deal or that the guys in the shop / on the dock thought the solution made no sense.

A final question: “Have you produced in-context materials for the client’s departments that help the client’s management sell the proposal to each department on their own terms?

Coming: Toll roads that cost more on critical trips

Depending on where you live, you may have paid to drive on a toll road.

Toll roads have been modernized in recent years to cause fewer traffic jams while encouraging drivers to sign up for the wireless automated payment systems they support. Instead of a toll gate that requires drivers to stop and pay with cash, multiple lanes have sensors that read an in-car device’s wireless signal that identifies your car.

That device is tied to a credit card or bank account so that the tolls are collected without stopping or worrying about having the right change. Because you didn’t have to stop to pay, the likelihood of traffic jams at toll booths is sharply reduced and makes your trip faster.

Increasing costs associated with maintaining roads have prompted toll road managers to look for ways to increase revenue on their roads. Toll roads have always charged more for vehicles with more axles. The idea there was that more axles meant more vehicle weight, which wears down the road more quickly. This formula for variable tolls has been accepted by those driving commercial trucks for some time.

So how do toll road managers find a way to get more revenue from the same traffic, but without raising tolls for everyone?

One of the ideas they’ve come up with focuses on eliminating traffic neutrality.

What is Traffic Neutrality?

Traffic neutrality is the idea that all vehicles of the same type pay the same toll. Whether you drive by yourself in a rusted out 1962 Ford Fairlane or you drive a $92,000 2014 Mercedes S550 full of Fortune 50 CEOs, the toll is the same.

Tolls for commercial vehicles work similarly, so if you drive a beat up three axle commercial dump truck carrying grass clippings, you pay the same as the driver of a brand new three axle dump truck carrying nuclear waste.

In other words, the toll is the same and the cost applied without conditions across traffic when you look at vehicles of the same type.

That’s traffic neutrality.

A new idea for raising toll road revenue

A change you might be seeing soon removes this neutrality and allows the in-car device to add additional charges to the toll based on where you are going and how important the trip is to you and your family or business.

For example, if you’re racing your wife to the hospital so she can deliver a baby, or someone is driving you to the doctor due to the allergic reaction to a bee sting, this would be sensed as an important trip and thus, the toll would be higher.

Another revenue idea is full speed lanes. Motorists on important trips pay more to drive in lanes free of interference from speed-control vehicles. Speed control vehicles drive slowly to moderate speeds in lanes not designed for “full speed limit service”.

Speed’s easy to manage since a road’s speed limit is regulated by law. However, the speed collectively driven above a toll road’s minimum speed limit is not. In order to manage these slower speeds, toll road managers pay frequent drivers a stipend to drive 10 or 15 mph below the speed limit.

Drivers are paid based on a device that monitors the car’s speed while on the toll road. If you meet your commitment, you get full pay.

These cars pull the average speed down for lanes that have not qualified for “full speed limit road access”, while not violating the law since those speed controlling cars drive at speeds above the road’s minimum speed.

Traffic volume plays into this as well. As the number of cars paying to drive at full speed increases, the demand for fast lanes increases.

When a new lane is needed, a non-full speed lane is converted to full speed and all remaining cars are funneled into the remaining non-full speed lanes. This increases traffic on the slower lanes and motivates more people to buy into full speed limit service on the toll road.

What’s this really about?

For now, this annoying toll road story is made up.  However, it describes exactly how the Federal Communications Commission is conspiring with large internet services and content providers to control internet traffic and destroy “net neutrality”, the real world internet version of traffic neutrality.

If this sounds like an idea that will hurt your business, call your Senators and Representatives and ask them to preserve net neutrality.

WalMart: “We don’t care”

Listening to WalMart’s VP of Information Technology and their lead e-commerce exec talk on Fortune Brainstorm Tech this morning, they said “We don’t care whether or not you buy in the store, online, via mobile, etc.”

Where they went one step further: They gave local store managers credit for ALL sales that happen in their store’s ZIP code, not just the sales that occur within the store’s four walls.

Suddenly, WalMart.com isn’t the local store’s enemy. Now the store doesn’t care if they are being showroomed by WalMart.com customers. They only have to care about WalMart’s customer, vs. caring that someone is an in-store customer vs an online customer.

The story here isn’t just a WalMart thing or a strategy to fight showrooming. It’s much bigger than that.

The real lesson is that they eliminated something that absolutely would pit a store manager against the company’s online presence – which ultimately pits the store manager and their staff against their company’s CUSTOMERS. When would that ever be a good thing?

Now it’s your turn.

 

The most expensive refund

During my recent trip to Tulsa, I stopped into a chain drug store (similar to Walgreens) next door to the hotel.

When I got to the register, a mom with two young kids was trying to exchange an item she had purchased for a very similar item that had the same price and was made by the same company.

Standing in line behind her, it seemed like a pretty simple thing to exchange an unopened, undamaged item from the same company.

But not today, not with this policy and not with this manager.

Your card, please. It’s our policy.

You see, the mom didn’t have the debit/credit card that was originally used to pay for the item – because her husband paid for the purchase during their last visit. He wasn’t with her on this trip.

Despite the fact that she had the original receipt, the store manager couldn’t adhere to store policy without the card used to make the purchase.

You see, store policy required that he refund the item being exchanged onto the original card used to buy the item, then sell the exchanged-for item as a new purchase. It really wasn’t an exchange, but a refund and a purchase – and that’s why policy intervened.

The store’s point of sale system was designed to enforce the store’s refund policy, which required having the card present in order to refund. Having the original card used for the purchase is not a requirement of a merchant card vendor account. It’s an intentional limitation put in place by the store to serve their refund policy.

Most likely, it’s designed to make it impossible to return cash back to a customer who paid with a credit or debit card. In the case of a return for refund, this makes perfect sense – but it still doesn’t require the original card. Merchant card accounts are perfectly capable of refunding or voiding purchases to the original account – even without the original card being present.

Win-win policy

In situations where a customer is exchanging identically priced items, a refund-only policy puts staff and management in a bad place.

Normally, the register clerk would’ve exchanged the item with a simple transaction at the point of sale where the barcodes on both items are scanned and no money changes hands. This transaction makes sure that inventory reflects reality and that store replenishment is correct when the next truck arrives – both good things. This serves the needs of the customer as well as the store. While tax-driven issues can be created when there’s a long period of time between the original purchase and the refund, they can be handled.

An exchange policy that is really more of a refund and new purchase policy turned this into far more than a simple transaction. Policies should give a manager the ability to be a customer advocate, even while protecting the store.

Training matters

As the manager repeatedly quoted the same policy-driven argument with the customer, that well-intended, audit-proof store policy turned a repeat customer into an upset customer who might never return.

This wasn’t entirely the manager’s fault. He was simply adhering to corporate store policy. If he defied it, transactional data sent to corporate could mean he’d have to answer for his efforts to please the customer, despite the zero cost transaction.

Does your management training encourage your staff and managers to make common sense decisions to preserve customer relationships? It should. The cost of an equal exchange nets out to zero, unless you lose a long-time customer in the process.

Hard costs

Losing customers like a family with two young kids over the exchange of a $12 item is a poor choice. Two kids under the age of five means 13 years of drug store trips, say $20 a month. 13 years (age five to 18) times 12 months times $20 a month is $3120, not including the word of mouth costs of losing that customer. $3120 doesn’t seem like much, but it’s the cost of just one exchange transaction that should cost nothing.

While writing policies to protect your business, be sure to consider how they’ll work in the field. A group that included an experienced register clerk, a store manager and their assistants could reveal win-win training and policy changes that protect this business while encouraging customer loyalty.

The most expensive refund is one that costs you a customer.

When did you decide to be typical? #sponsored

Asi nace una nueva arepa...
Creative Commons License photo credit: Venex_jpb

Note: I am blogging on behalf of Visa Business and received compensation for my time from Visa for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa’s. See full disclosure at the bottom of this post.

Donald Trump has repeatedly been quoted as saying “It’s not personal, it’s just business.”

It’s easy to read his comment as cold words from a billionaire bent on grinding through another interchangeable cog in his machine, but I think it means something different altogether.

I think it means that his decisions aren’t driven by emotion.

If you’ve spent much time studying him, it’s easy to see that he works as if he believes that Business is Personal, as I do. Look into the standards his properties are held to and the way he evaluates work done for him. Everything has his name on it… how can he not take it personally? It reflects directly on him.

Think Beyond Trump

The relationship formed with your business by virtue of a customer’s purchase is taken quite seriously by them. If you talk with them about it, you’ll find it far more important than you expect. There’s a “reason why” that they choose and stay with you.

A car battery purchase on a Saturday afternoon in May seems like just another generic transaction until that customer’s car won’t start on a rural Montana road during a blinding snowstorm, hundreds of miles from help.

If that car’s failure to start strands your kids on a dark night or causes you to miss your daughter’s graduation, a battery gets personal in a hurry.

When it impacts a customer’s family, it’ll never be “just a battery”, no matter how rushed or ambivalent the purchase was during that warm May afternoon. Never forget that when helping a customer choose a product or service.

Accountability is Personal

The long-term accountability of a purchase can change your business, as can the tiniest effort of your staff.

That’s why it’s so critical that every member of your staff is carefully selected and trained, even if they are performing what you see as the most routine, entry-level work. Why critical? Because it’s often the work actually seen by your customer and it might be the last interaction that the customer experiences with your company’s staff – and the last impression you make on them.

The housekeeper who prepares a customer’s room is often the most important staff member to their visit. If the customer finds hair or bugs in the shower, their opinion of your entire facility is damaged.

A fabulous week at your bed and breakfast can be destroyed, reputation-wise, by a few ants, a cockroach, an unexpected surprise in a guest’s salad or a snide comment from a staff member as they load luggage into the guest’s car.

Everything is Anything

I tell clients “Anything is everything and everything is anything”, because they’re just that.

What I mean is that everything that happens while using your products, consuming your services or on site at your restaurant, motel, campground or store is as important as anything else you do. Likewise, any single thing done on behalf of your business is as important as everything else you do because in the customer’s mind, the last thing you did might be the only thing they remember.

Imagine that your restaurant has the best organic food raised on your own farm, prepared by the finest chefs in the land and accompanied by the best wine selection available. Your reputation for quality and impeccable service dominates Trip Advisor.

All of that is history if your visitor steps on a piece of hot, sticky gum as the doorman welcomes them through the front door of your restaurant.

So what is a typical business owner supposed to do? Stop being typical.

Being Atypical

The typical business owner thinks they can’t control the gum, the snarky employee or the cockroaches.

The owners of amazing businesses can’t control them either, but they take steps to minimize and manage those things to the best of their ability:

  • They invest more time and energy into the hiring, selection and training of every member of their staff than the typical business owner.
  • They hire for attitude because it isn’t a trainable attribute.
  • They build processes into their business that are designed to avoid, prevent or quickly resolve the issues a typical business owner grows to accept.

How do they do all that? They decide to be something other than typical.

 

DISCLOSURE: I am blogging on behalf of Visa Business and received compensation for my time from Visa for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa’s. Visit http://facebook.com/visasmallbiz to take a look at the reinvented Facebook Page: Well Sourced by Visa Business.

The Page serves as a space where small business owners can access educational resources, read success stories from other business owners, engage with peers, and find tips to help businesses run more efficiently.

Every month, the Page will introduce a new theme that will focus on a topic important to a small business owner’s success. For additional tips and advice, and information about Visa’s small business solutions, follow @VisaSmallBiz and visit http://visa.com/business.

Visa Business_July Infographic_071013

Do you manage perception or reality?

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This “Sorry” image is what you see on YouTube when you’re prevented from viewing a video because the uploader decided not to make their content available in your country.

In this case, the video was a seven minute news clip from 1970.

NINETEEN SEVENTY.

I understand how allowing a viewer in another country to see 43 year old content of historical interest would seriously undermine that organization’s ability to sell advertising, much less how it would damage their credibility in the news market.

I wonder if the decision to limit this company’s news footage to their home country was considered long and hard in policy meetings and with legal. Was much discussion dedicated to finding reasons to limit access? How about efforts to find reasons to not to?

Was the cost of making that decision higher than the cost of letting anyone in any country view the video?

It reminds me of people who put more effort into controlling the public’s perception of their company than they do into taking actions that actually impact the company’s public image. The irony is that attempts at perception control tend to damage their employer’s image more than the truth would have.

We often ask the wrong questions.

Every day that you look the other way in your business when faced with perception vs. reality issues, your business becomes less personal, easier to hate and easier to replace.

Is that really what you want?

Butcher shops concerned about locally grown meat sales limits

Rude Cow!
Creative Commons License photo credit: foxypar4

The legislature is considering placing additional limits on the production or sale of locally grown meat, including the meat of wild animals.

Backing this legislation is the Corporate Grocers Association, which serves the interests of corporate grocery chains across America.

The proposed law also places strict annual limits on hunting and fishing since those activities impact the meat sales of CGA members. Catch and release fishing will not be affected since it does not affect meat sales.

CGA public relations officer M. A. DeUpnaam said “This legislation will protect our members and their employees from the predatory practices of micro-ranchers, predatory local hunters, people who selfishly decline to practice catch and release fishing, as well local butcher shops and meat processors who specialize in processing and selling locally raised meat products.

The action was taken at the request of a local CGA grocer after their newspaper reported that “425 whitetail deer, 64 mule deer and 58 elk” were harvested in his market area during the first three weeks of hunting season. After calculating how much that wild animal meat could cost his grocery in lost meat sales, he convinced the Association to step in.

History on CGA’s side

In prior sessions, the CGA has been successful in lobbying for protection of their members. Butcher shops and meat processors are limited to 10 retail sales hours per day and may sell no more than two pounds of meat per day to any single customer. Micro-ranches are allowed to raise no more animals than would produce 10,000 pounds of meat (for retail sale) annually.

If the 10,000 pound limit is exceeded during the calendar year, the business must shut down retail sales for the remainder of the calendar year and curtail production so that the limit isn’t exceeded the following year. Producers who exceed the 10,000 pound limit more than once will be required to cease retail sales permanently. Of course, they’re still allowed to sell their meat to wholesale buyers.

Of growing concern

CGA members are deeply concerned by the rapid growth of the microranch business, despite annual production limits placed on them. It’s not hard to see why: 100 new micro-ranches operating at maximum capacity in a single state would mean one million pounds of meat is available for purchase in that state – meat that wasn’t previously on the market. Add that to the previously ignored volume of wild animal meat produced and it’s no wonder the legislature is getting grilled by the CGA.

Microranchers and local butcher shops contend that they do not compete directly with CGA members because they produce a premium quality, high-priced product that the typical grocery shopper doesn’t buy at CGA member stores. CGA spokesperson DeUpnaam countered that assertion, saying “Every pound of meat sold by a local butcher shop, regardless of price or quality, is a pound of meat not sold by a CGA member. It’s a zero sum game and corrective action is necessary to return things to the way they were when our members established their businesses.”

Local produce and herb farms watching closely

Organic farms and local gardeners are monitoring this legislation closely, concerned that the legislature might decide to place limits on the sale of locally grown produce.

Community farmers markets are also watching and wondering about “corrective action” targeting their markets. Because they take a small cut of the sales made by a local butcher shop or gardener at their events, they too could become subject to the annual sales limits. While they have never lobbied a state legislature before, the organizers of 14 farmers markets in this area met last weekend to discuss sending a representative to the state house to monitor the situation, and if necessary, plead their case.

Fiction?

Yes, that’s a made up headline and story line – but it isn’t quite so fictional if you own a microbrewery or craft brewery business in Montana.

Update: After receiving substantial feedback from constituents, the committee in charge of fine tuning and releasing HB616 to the Montana House thought better of it and unanimously voted to table it. The committee also unanimously approved a study bill that is intended to get all parties involved in “fixing” Montana’s licensing laws in time to bring a palatable solution to the next legislature.

How to break a business coma

We talk about a wide array of business topics/suggestions here at Business is Personal.

Occasionally, I get emails asking how to get all of these things done in a state of overwhelm.

It’s an easy problem to have.

You have plenty of ideas and read the things I and others suggest, much less see all those bright shiny objects that appear on your radar.

Each one has the potential to improve or distract, depending on how you leverage them.

If you focus on one, implement or discard it, then move on to the next one, you’ll build an effective system to run your business. Otherwise, the flood of posts, emails, webinars, products and services can distract you into one form of a business coma: Analysis Paralysis.

Other forms

When a business is in a coma, it functions much like a coma patient.

In some mysterious way, internal functions continue to work as if they’re on life support. The business is alive, but it can appear to be doing little more than consuming energy and creating waste. It’s almost impossible to see what’s going on inside much less determine if the business is aware of its surroundings.

Sometimes the coma is an overwhelming amount of inefficient work that prevents building the products/services your business’ future demands.

A dysfunctional business can exist this way for years. The “coma” eventually becomes comfortable, seems normal and that makes it even more difficult to break out of. Excuses for postponing improvement are often layered on like old paint.

Systems can perpetuate coma, but…

Airlines are an easy target here. It’s easy to forget that they deliver millions of people/cargo shipments to their destinations, at a reasonably high on-time percentage and do so safely, all without losing too many bags. They manage this because they have systems in place to help them deliver consistently.

These systems range from sophisticated electronics to a clipboard, checklist and a pen. By design, these systems support a staff that might range from catatonic to remarkable. Most of the seemingly-catatonic are scheduled into that state via long/split shifts and customer-relationship-numbing measures that make sense only when you’re disconnected from the customer by a stack of oft-worshiped spreadsheets.

I strongly encourage the use of systems, but I don’t worship them. They free you from the “mundane but important” so you can focus on personal and important things that can’t be automated – like finding a wayward bag.

Where’s mom’s bag?

Travel experiences feel remarkable when someone takes a moment to do what they would want done for their mother. Maybe not remarkable in Seth Godin terms, but remarkable compared to a typical travel experience.

These “little remarkables” are frequently prevented by situations these businesses create. Eventually, the inability to perform these tasks becomes an insulating layer of undesirable phone-tree-like blubber that few customers can pierce.

On the Friday before Christmas, my mom traveled here on two airlines. Her itineraries were not connected, so her bag stopped in Salt Lake while she flew on to our place. Neither she or the check-in attendants noticed the disconnect and neither did airline systems. The disconnect became obvious at baggage claim.

During our three day baggage chase, which involved tweeting with Delta & American, phone calls to American and SkyWest and four visits to the airport, a young SkyWest baggage guy at our local airport went out on a limb and gave me the baggage office number in Salt Lake. A few hours after my call to SLC, that young man called to say the bag was on its way.

Pavel did what he didn’t have to do, perhaps what policy didn’t allow, but what he would’ve wanted done for his mom. With help from a SkyWest baggage guy in SLC, they performed a small but important task during peak loads that created their little bit of Christmas Eve remarkable.

Breaking the coma

That fourth decimal place on corporate’s P&L spreadsheet…means nothing without customers. The airline’s iPhone app is useless without the staff behind it. The people and the systems have to work together to be useful.

Break the coma this year. One step at a time, focus on building systems that automate the mundane and important so you and your staff can do the important things that ARE personal.

The Customer is Wrong

The customer is wrong. He knows it before he asks. And yet, Jackie delivers.

Do you think that guy will ever forget that visit? How many people has he told about it?

Answer: Enough that it ended up on Gawker.

Is someone like Jackie creating experiences like this for your customers?