Corporate “I dont get it”-itis

Last week, a newspaper story recounted how a local grocery store’s customer noticed a shoplifter, chased him out of the store, pursued him for 20 minutes, and finally caught and held him till the police arrived.

It turned out that the thief was serving a 3 year deferred sentence and a 5 year suspended sentence, both for burglary convictions.

The store promptly rewarded the man who caught the thief with a coupon for free coffee.

DUH.

Did they need to write a big check? Nope.

Did they need to give him free groceries for life? Nope.

All they had to do was be a little unique. Put a little thought into what they did to thank this guy.

Instead, he gets some free coffee and they get “We’re cheapskates” publicity in the paper. They turned a positive into a negative.

The possibilities are so obvious. What are you doing to send a message that you dont get it?

Think about it, then fix it.

Getting it in Vegas

You are soooo bad. You never expected this to be about customer service, didya? 🙂

A while back, I took the family down to Vegas to meet the in-laws. They were at a convention, so we shacked up at Caesar’s with them. This was kinda last minute, so of course, when I made reservations I got puckered up for $800 for 5 days of hotel room. We don’t get to see the in-laws all that often and they’re pretty cool, so I got over it (plus I planned to visit a client).

So I go to check in, give the nice lady my card and we’re off to find my wife’s parents. Not 10 minutes later, they tell me that they already had a room for us right next to theirs. Paid for.

Expecting to get little or no consideration, we go down to the counter and explain to the lady (same one) that I had just checked in (not even visiting our room yet) and found out that we already had a room. At first, we got a little bit of push back when asking to check back out with no repercussions, but the lady figured out that if she forced us to accept our mistake (caused by our own lack of communication), three things would probably happen: 1) my father in law’s company wouldnt likely ever book rooms at Caesar’s again, 2) neither would I, and 3) both of us would probably tell everyone we knew about how Caesar’s screwed us around.

Neither of us threatened any of those things, but we didn’t act like we wanted 2 rooms either.

She got it. Killed the charges on my card for $800+, had someone haul our stuff to our real room and swapped keys. And smiled and wished us a great visit to Vegas. AND she didn’t feel the need to contact 3 supervisors to make it happen. Caesar’s had trained her and empowered her to make decisions to keep their clients happy.
So…I got it in Vegas:) Good, conscientious service, that is, and from an “evil casino hotel” as some call them.
Our stay was uneventful, pleasant, clean and fun. Good job, Caesar’s.

Upshaw and Owens: Losers no matter what the score

Someone needs to give Gene Upshaw and Terrell Owens their own personal DVD copy of “Coach Carter”. Upshaw wants to remove an approved arbitrator because he “piled on”. Peel away the rhetoric and he’s really saying that he wants to remove an arbitrator because he lost the case.

Its too bad they don’t have the cojones to keep TO on the roster, pay the $5MM roster bonus in the spring of 2006, pay his salary and sit his snarky backside on the bench for the 2006 season.

A perfect storm of follow ups

This week has been a surprising one in the land of the follow-up.

First, after noting a while back (here and here) that my local golf club wasn’t taking the steps they should be in contacting me for the upsell regarding the golf shop, the restaurant, real estate investments, etc…..I received an order form for a 2006 twilight golf membership.

Now, to be sure, there was no brochure, info about the restaurant or other facilities, but AT LEAST they sent it. Improvements are always appreciated. Lets see more.

Next up – Katrina.

A friend of mine lives about 2 hrs NNW of New Orleans. He is pretty well connected with the governor’s office, so right after Katrina finished tearing up the state, I asked him who I should contact if I had some resources to send to Louisiana. He text messaged his guy during a press conference with the governor and got a phone number for me. I called, left a message and a few days later received a call to discuss the situation (an offer of 150 helicopters based in Montana, by virtue of an associate of friend of mine).

As it turned out, Louisiana never ended up utilizing the helicopters, but I was invited to contact FEMA a few weeks later to sign up to provide further services.

The follow up? Yesterday morning, someone from the Louisiana Governor’s office called my cell to thank me for offering help AND asked for my mailing address so the Governor could send a thank you letter. Major league. Lots of things went wrong in her office (and elsewhere) during Katrina, but this was something done right.

These are the kinds of things that you do to make yourself and your organization memorable. It’s not that hard, folks.

Kudos.

No news is good news?

Yesterday and again this morning, I was having a conversation with some friends about continuous improvement. So few businesses practice it, which is really a shame. Earlier this week, former LSU/Miami Dolphins coach Lou Saban lamented a culture that cares only about results, not about the process that produces them. He was clearly annoyed with players, media and others who shrug off poor performances that result in a win, because he knows that continuous improvement wins big games, and championships. Luck rarely does.

Because someone has been taking my paper, I called today to have it cancelled. When I called, the phone was answered on the first ring by a pleasant voice.

I indicated I wanted to cancel delivery and provided my account number as requested. In just a moment, a company lost me as a customer and in just a moment the call was over. It surprised me that they asked no questions about why I was cancelling, or if they could do anything to keep me as a subscriber, etc.

How does this paper’s management know why people cancel? If they dont know, they dont know what to do in order to improve the ratio of people who keep their 4 week free trials, which absolutely impacts their bottom line.

Amazing that they don’t seem to understand this.

Success, 37 cents at a time

Remember the movie where Kevin Costner builds a ballpark in the middle of his corn field, prompting his dead father to play catch with him? Eventually hundreds of others to come to visit him, the presumption being that those visitors mean his family’s money troubles are over.

Get over it. It’s just a movie, albeit a fun one.

While it worked for Costner, doesn’t mean it’ll work for you. You need to WORK for them. Even Walt Disney had to work to get people to Disney World (and the Disney folks still work at that).

According to statistics, a fair percentage of the new businesses opened in the U.S. are restaurants. One might speculate that this is because people think it’s about the recipe they have (it typically isn’t) or because they’ve have always wanted to own/run a restaurant because it looks like so much fun (more likely).

Word has it that about 80% of those new businesses fail in the first 5 years and about 50% of the rest fail in the next 5 years.

Wonder why?

There are typically a “popular” short list of reasons, usually most of them are not the root cause of the problem, but they all add up.

One of the big ones I see all the time. “Build it and they will come” syndrome.

On the other hand, there is my friend Pratik, who owns a gourmet pizza restaurant in New Joisey. One of the ways he has grown his business substantially is by increasing his catering revenue.

How did he do that? Putting his face on his business. Making sure his people get it. Getting rid of the ones who don’t and taking care of the ones who do. Delivering catering orders as if he was the “delivery boy” as often as possible, where he will get feedback that he might not get as the owner, simply because his customers assume he’s just a delivery boy.

Other times, he’ll visit as the owner in order to thank the customer, ask how their service and food were and see if there are any ways to improve their service.

And one of the most insidious, competitive, sneaky things he does? He sends a hand-written card to every catering customer, thanking them for their order.

Wonder of wonders, he almost always gets a 2nd and 3rd order shortly thereafter. All for 37 cents, plus the price of a card and 2 minutes of his time.

Who do you think that catering client is going to remember the next time they need to cater a meeting? The real person who sent them a hand-written card to thank them for their business, or the faceless business who sticks copy paper under the windshields every few weeks?

Many business owners wouldn’t bother to buy a card, much less write one. Maybe they think they deserve the business (“I earned it”, or “We work hard”). You don’t. You earn it, every single day.

Get out there and work. And remember the little 37 cent things that mean success.

Your people are like a typewriter

Xvxryonx makxs a diffxrxncx

Somxtimxs I gxt to thinking that what I do doxsn’t mattxr. But whxn I start thinking that way, I rxmxm­bxr my old typxwritxr. Most of thx kxys workxd finx most of thx timx. But onx day, onx of thx kxys stop­pxd working altogxthxr. Only onx, and that rxally mxssxd xvxrything up. So whxn I’m txmptxd to say, I’m only onx pxrson, it won’t makx much diffxrncx if I don’t do this quitx right, I rxmxmbxr my old typxwritxr. And I say to mysxlf: “I am a kxy pxrson and nxxdxd vxry much.”

Adapted from the book “Inside the Magic Kingdom“, used with the permission of the publisher.

Not understanding this vital concept can make the difference between an employee and a great member of your staff who constantly contributes to the bottom line.

Everyone, from the janitor to the CEO has to think in this manner if your company is to continuously improve.

You are a bad employee

Entrepreneurs make the worst employees, which is why they ARE entrepreneurs, if they’ve managed to escape that J-O-B thing.

Working for yourself is a constant exercise in self-control and task management. Note that I didnt say time management.

Bottom line, and this comes from something Dan Kennedy said a while back…”Manage yourself as if you are the worst employee you’ve ever had….because you ARE.”

Ain’t that the truth:/

Where’s the upsell?

Why don’t you ASK? Havent you ever been asked “Would you like fries with that?” I mean, its only the world’s most common upsell (ok, maybe the most-common U.S. upsell…).

ASK. Dont say no for the customer. That’s their job. Your job is to remind them of what you have that they want, or to a lesser extent, need.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve left a store, driven down the road and thought, “Damn, I forgot *whatever*”.

When you and your staff don’t ask (and do so IN CONTEXT and SINCERELY), you might be costing me time and money. Ask smart questions, make smart suggestions and help me out. You’ll stand out in a crowd of lost business souls.