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Automation Competition Customer service Entrepreneurs Management Marketing The Slight Edge

I’m not the one who needs the reminder…

Yesterday, we talked about appointment books and how they get used, misused and underutilized. I’d like to follow up on a related topic: reminders.

Reminder postcards from a business are a pretty common thing these days. Some businesses hand write them – after all, your receptionist isn’t exactly swamped with work since your book isn’t full.

In some cases, the business actually uploads a list of “people due for appointments” to a service, and that service prints and mails the cards to the customer who is due for an appointment.

While this is better than nothing, almost no one gets this right – and you’re leaving hard dollars on the table.

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Entrepreneurs Management Marketing The Slight Edge

Is your appointment book full?

A lot of businesses these days take appointments. Hair salons, nail salons, auto repair service centers, even some high-end clothing stores.

Many of the books seem to be little more than a recording device that documents which clients have figured out that they need to come in. They fill almost at random, as if the time has no value.

Why is that?

As a business owner, wouldn’t you prefer to see the book completely full? Wouldn’t you want to be turning away business, or scrambling to find more people, more machines (or whatever) and finding a way to extend your hours so that you can serve them? Or even better, raise your price every time you find yourself getting overbooked.

There’s a balance to be had, but an appointment book should be more than just a recording device. Most businesses fail to take advantage of the real value of that multi-faceted, all-powerful (and valuable) book.

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Entrepreneurs Management Marketing The Slight Edge

Marketing lessons from a Catholic bookstore

In a post referred to me back in May, Musings from a Catholic Bookstore blogged about 10 things you should know about your customers.

It was passed on to me as blog fodder so I thought I’d add a few comments of my own – not being Catholic or owning a bookstore never stopped me from commenting before…so here we go.

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Management

Unintended consequences. Are you ready?

When McDonald’s started selling Apple Dippers back in 2005, they suddenly became one of the largest consumers of apples in the U.S., anticipating the purchase of at least 54 million apples annually.

Businesses using apples surely had to notice a change in supply and cost. A change they probably weren’t expecting.

Sometimes it’s a bit more serious than that.

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Entrepreneurs Management The Slight Edge

A takeaway from LeBron’s lesson

During the 2007 NBA finals, NBA big man LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers learned a valuable lesson. Hopefully Cleveland did as well.

The lesson?

In sports, ONE guy can’t do it all, and if ONE guy is all you have and your opponent shuts down that ONE guy – you’re in trouble.

ESPN.com discusses the lesson with LeBron, but it isn’t clear that he gets it. Perhaps he’s being nice and taking the blame himself, perhaps not. He closes the article with “I must get better.”

While there’s no doubt that he’s right – and little doubt that he will improve, the real issue is his team. He needs to surround himself with better players.

A better team.

Where are the weaknesses on your team? Why do you tolerate them? What can you start doing tomorrow to improve your team’s performance?

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Entrepreneurs Management Marketing Wal-Mart

When does having the lowest price make sense?

Not very often.

Yesterday, I was talking about the folly of competing primarily (or mostly) on price and how silly it is because of the lack of loyalty it creates among your customers.

However, there are a few times where the low price makes sense.

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Management Media Politics

Oil, water and the pharmacy

Yesterday, I pulled a quote out of a classic pharmacy / contraceptive / faith story in the Great Falls Tribune because a quote about using morals to make business decisions seemed odd to me.

There’s another hair in this story’s soup: The rights of the businesses to do business as the owners see fit – within the law.

The owners of the pharmacy say they stopped the sale of oral contraceptives because their use is not consistent with their faith.

I don’t think they need a reason, nor do they need to explain it to anyone.

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Corporate America Customer service Good Examples Management

Someone in Wyoming

Someone in Wyoming showed up on my caller ID this afternoon. Normally, I would have let it go to voice mail, but there are a few people down there whose numbers I don’t have memorized, so I picked it up and got a pleasant surprise.

It was Jennifer from Bresnan, the manager of their customer service quality management team for this area. Apparently Bresnan has someone (probably something, but that’s cool with me) scanning blogs for their various business/brand names.

Smart.

Categories
Competition Management Marketing Montana

Business and Morals: Oil and water?

In an article in the June 3, 2007 Great Falls Tribune, an article discusses a pharmacy whose new owners have decided to stop selling birth control pills because they feel that selling oral contraceptives (ie: “the pill”) conflicts with their Catholic faith.

That article quotes a Great Falls businessman Jerry Weissman, as follows:

Weissman, who described himself as a pro-choice Republican, also said he thinks Snyder’s new owners are taking a considerable business risk, especially with two new Walgreens pharmacies set to open in the near future, “by putting obstacles in their road to serving customers by making business decisions for moral reasons.”

That quote jumped off the page at me.

Aren’t many business decisions moral ones?

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Automation Corporate America Management Software The Slight Edge

Customer service and the cable guy

Have you ever called a big company’s customer support line when “higher than anticipated call volumes” weren’t occurring?

That’s what I thought. Whoever anticipates call volumes sure seems to be off the mark a lot, don’t they? Do they use sophisticated trend analysis to anticipate call volumes?

Seriously, I wonder how often – or IF – they measure call volumes and adjust staffing levels. Perhaps a topic for some other time.

Yesterday, I called my cable company (Bresnan) about some signal problems and had an enlightening conversation with “Chipper”, who was very courteous and professional. He asked all the right questions, in the right order and did pretty much everything I expected – except…