Monday, June 27, 2011

One Strike and You're Out

I just spent eight fabulous days in New York City.  That's right, eight days in the most incredible city on the planet (I'll give Paris a close second).  I got home two days ago but didn't awaken from my food coma until tonight.  For me, it's the food that puts New York City over the top.  World class cuisine delivered to your door in less than thirty minutes; now you're speaking my love language.

Why is the food so amazing in New York?  Let's see, 35% of new businesses fail within the first 90 days, over 2/3 give up within the first year.  In the city you don't get a second chance; you've got to wow people in their first visit or they will not come back.

Rewind to my first few days in the city.  I was in Brooklyn working with Metro Ministries and on Saturday we did Sunday School.  In one day they put on three full services, bussing kids in and out of the facility.  In less than seven hours we had ministered to over 4500 kids.  They staff at Metro doesn't hold anything back, there's no guarantee that they'll see all this kids again next week.

What does Metro Ministries and the city's great restaurants have in common?  Both understand the impact of the first impression.  They also "get" that this moment may be all you have with any given customer.  Very important lessons that can be applied to almost any industry.  Many of us "show up" to work. We do our "job" but not much more.  We forget how many people would love to be sitting in our seat.  We forget that we may never see many of today's customers again, ever.

I'm committing to giving my all each and every day.  To making every customer interaction memorable and adding a sense of urgency to what I do.  After all, I may never see you again.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Opportunity Abounds

I LOVE when things go wrong.  Don't get me wrong, I plan meticulously and try to eliminate any chance of error but, somtimes things happen beyond your control.  Now, I know this sounds sacreligeous but this is when opportunity abounds.  Icy roads, miscalculated crowd flow, merchandise that didn't show...these are all opportunities to point fingers or shine.  Choose wisely my friend.

Losers point fingers.  That's right, I said, "losers point fingers".  When things go awry bad leaders quickly throw subordinates under the bus.  I hate that.  If things don't work out, take responsiblity and lead the way to success.  Protect your people and devise solutions that will surprise and delight your customers.  It's not that hard, all it takes is guts.

True leaders protect their people.  True leaders take the bullet.  True leaders lead by leading.  It's time to stop pointing fingers and making excuses and lead by example.  In the end, no one matters more than your customer.  Despite the circumstances devise a winning game plan.  NEVER let your customer know what went wrong, just let them enjoy interacting with you in an amazing and memorable way.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

You had me at, "maybe"

You ever get in one of those conversations that go nowhere?  "What do you want to do?"  "I don't know, what do you want to do?"  In business it goes like this, "Now that I've completed my dynamic and incredibly original presentation are you ready to buy?"  "Maybe".  Suddenly, you're no better off than you were at the beginning.  Maybe worse.

The same can be true in your day to day business negotiations.  You want to make a personal connection so instead of emailing you call your contact on the phone.  "Hi this is Stan, sorry I'm not available, please leave a message..."  "Hi Stan, this is Mike calling to talk to you about that $2M annual contract.  Please give me a call when you can".  Suddenly, you're nowhere.

Instead of engaging in this meaningless practice, why not make subtle changes to keep you on the path to success?  "Hi Stan, this is Mike calling to follow up on the presentation for your network campaign.  I'm sorry I missed you but I'm emailing your schedule for the next 12 months.  Please review it, make any necessary changes, sign it and email it back to me by tomorrow at 5pm.  This way your schedule can start  by Monday.  Thank you."  Sounds simple I know but, it's amazingly effective.  Know when to be assertive and how to help others to make good decisions.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Hit and a Miss

One of the most exciting plays in baseball is a triple.  If someone gets a triple you can't leave them stranded, you've got to find a way to score; base hit, sacrifice fly, even a ground ball to the right side will usually do it.  No way you leave them out there.

Recently, I was in Peet's Coffee and they had a sheet to sign up for their email list.  Great, one more email to deal with.  But, the sign did promise exclusive offers and deals and who am I to say, "no"; coffee is expensive!

A couple of weeks later I received my first correspondence.  A coupon for a free drink of my choice with no strings attached!  Wow, Peet's had figured out a way to surprise and delight me and suddenly I was standing at third base and all I had to do is pick up my drink.

I stopped by Peet's a couple days later on my way to work.  It was about 8am, peak time of the morning.  I walked in and the line almost reached the door, that was unusual.  It didn't take long to realize they were experiencing some kind of software problem.  The cash registers were down and the staff was having a difficult time ringing up orders.  You could tell the people behind the register were becoming more and more frustrated.  The grumbling was loud and it began making the customers feel uncomfortable.

Quick, do something to surprise and delight me!  I came in here standing at third, all you had to do is deliver a simple beverage and I'd score the winning run.  Instead you went to the back office for a pad of paper and tried to manually ring people up.  Those of us in line almost felt like apologizing for ordering a latte.  Why not do something unconventional?  "Sorry folks, we're having some problems with our computer.  We apologize for any inconvenience but, today the coffee is on us!"

The employees of Peet's could have been hero's and we all could of been winners.  Instead I was left stranded at third.