The customer just wants to know

With rates at an all time low, I recently decided to refinance my home loan. I called Mike at Bank of America and told him what I wanted to do. He had helped me with my original loan and I really liked him so I decided to let him help me with the refi. To make a long story short, it didn’t go very smoothly. Mike and his team were overloaded with work due to layoffs in his department. The entire process took months longer than it should have, but to Mike’s credit, he handled it professionally and honestly, keeping me in the loop the entire time.

The fact is, Mike could have made up all sorts of excuses. He could have avoided my calls or he could have passed me off to someone else. But he didn’t. He answered all my questions whenever I had them. He returned my calls whenever I made them. He was professional and honest even when the news was not positive. In the end, my refi got done and Mike refunded me a lot of money to make up for all the delays. Despite all the issues, I’d recommend Mike in a second. Because ultimately what makes a customer angry is not the problems, it the lack of honest communication. And Mike has that part down.

Customers just want to know what’s going on. Be honest with them and treat them fairly and they will come back again and again.

Quotas are a bad idea

Do you set quotas for your employees? Most industries do use them to a certain extent. Its a great way to let employees know what is expected of them, right? And if they don’t hit quotas we know why these employees are failing, right? Wrong.

Quotas only work to motivate employees to reach a level just above failure. They hit their quota and their done. How many employees will far exceed their quotas? Very few. So if not quotas, then what?

The best way to motivate employees is to train them properly and make them feel as if they are a valued part of the company. Nothing motivates someone more than an intrinsic feeling of importance. A feeling that they are doing something that is of value. Something that counts. Don’t believe me? There are numerous studies that show this to be true.

This video explains it better than I ever could. Its about 18 minutes long but well worth your time.

The Science of Motivation

Relationship versus transactional

I heard a great discussion on the Rob Black radio show yesterday about relationship versus transactional businesses. The gist of if was this. Know which one your business is and operate things accordingly. How do you know which one you are? Here are some guidelines:

Relationship
You rely heavily on word of mouth business.
You see your customers on a regular basis.
You know things about your customers outside of what they purchase from you.
You take the time to make sure your customer gets what they need.
Discounts don’t usually drive more business.
You use the term “client.”

Transcational
Your focus is on getting the sale processed quickly and accurately.
You focus on giving the customer what they ask for not what they need.
Discounts increase the volume of orders.
You use the term “order” and the term “customer.”
You know little about your customer outside of what they purchase from you.

These are just some of the indicators of Relationship versus Transactional. Both of these models work if done correctly. The key is to know which one you are and market your business accordingly. I will go into the marketing aspect of each in future posts.

Comcast just doesn’t get it

The other day I get on knock on my door. I opened it to see a representative form AT&T. He goes on to inform me that they just finished laying fiber optics in the neighborhood and can now offer a substitute to Comcast which is my only option when it comes to cable television. I take the fliers he offers, say thanks, and tell him I will read over them.

Later that day I flipped through the information and see that they offer more for less than I am currently paying. Interesting from two perspectives. One, I can get channels that I currently don’t get for less money and two, AT&T obviously did their homework and is offering just a bit more for just a bit less than Comcast. Very smart.

Now, I hate the idea of going through all the trouble to switch cable providers. So, I call Comcast and explain to them what AT&T is offering and ask if there is anything they can do. More channels? Lower my monthly bill? Anything? “Nope, sorry,” the guy from Comcast tells me. “I wish I could do something but I don’t have anything I can offer you. Would you like me to schedule a time to disconnect your service?”

What?!? The guy actually offered to get rid of me as a customer before I even asked him to. I was shocked and really didn’t know what to say.

“Umm, not yet. Let me see when AT&T can come out and install their service. I’ll call you back,” was my reply.

To make a long story short. I got AT&T’s service installed and its been great. But the real shocker came when I called to cancel the Comcast service. The conversation went like this.

“Hi, this is Brian. Thank you for calling Comcast. How can I help you.”

“Hi Brian, I’d like to discontinue my service.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. Was there a problem with the service.”

“No, I’ve just decided to go with AT&T’s cable package.”

“That’s unfortunate. If I take $20 off your bill or offer you more channels could I get you to change your mind?”

Despite having lots to say to Brian, I simply said “no thank you” and had him discontinue my service. I’m not sure what is going on over at Comcast but they better put together a cohesive strategy for dealing with customers that want to switch to competitors or they’re not going to be around much longer.

So the moral of the story is:
1) Know your competition.
2) Don’t offer to “disconnect” your customers.
3) Have a cohesive message across your organization.

Get the name right

Just listened to a voice mail from a guy who’s company does “interactive holiday marketing.” In the voice mail he mentioned the name of someone that he claims he spoke to in the past here at my company. Only problem is there is no one here at my company that goes by the name he mentioned. Nor has there ever been in the eleven years I have worked here. If you are going to mention names, which is a good idea by the way, be sure to get them right.

How NOT to use Facebook

As a habit, I follow closely what my companies competitors do…press releases, articles, service offerings, etc. And now with Facebook its as easy as becoming a fan of all my competitors to follow exactly what they are up to.

One of the companies I follow is Adecco. Great company, tremendous amount of success. No one can fault them there. But what they are doing on Facebook is the wrong way to go about using social media. Here is a recent example.

In one of their recent posts to Facebook, Adecco touted that the job market was showing signs of recovery and provided a link. That’s good information for their fans. Adecco is in the market of finding people work so any information on the job market makes sense. The problem came when their fans started to comment.

“Adecco stinks, the girl in the Falls NY area passed over submitting me for jobs i was wanting instead using me for a warm bdy for grunt work, Steamed!!!!”

“Be carefully what you say they deleted my comment last time I said something they didn’t like.”

“If you have any talent at all…don’t go to Adecco cause they don’t care about talent…”

Now, no company wants to see comments like this for everyone to see. But unfortunately, its part of doing business. And the bigger you get, the more likely it is that there will be people that will say negative things about you. That in itself is typically not the problem. The problem comes when you do not respond the right way. So how did Adecco respond? They deleted the negative comments and replaced them with positive comments. Positive comments by their employees non-the-less.

“Adecco is the best company ever!”

“You’re def right (name), it IS!!”

This is NOT the way a company should use Facebook. The proper way is to address the problems right then and there. Show the world that you know the proper way to deal with unhappy customers. Complaints on Facebook are an opportunity. Don’t try to sweep them under the rug. They will simply show up somewhere else. And you won’t be able to simply delete them there.

You are not in the service business

You are not in the service business, you are in the relationship business. And when you think about it this way you act differently. Here are some examples:

  • If you are in the Service Business you might ask “How can I help you?”, if you are in the Relationship Business you might ask, “How are you doing?”
  • If you are in the Service Business you might ask “What can I do for you today?” if you are in the Relationship Business you might ask, “What are your biggest problems?”
  • If you are in the Service Business you call prospects looking for business, if you are in the Relationship Business you call prospects offering them something of value.
  • If you are in the Service Business you react to your customers immediate needs, if you are in the Relationship Business you ask about their future needs.
  • If you are in the Service Business you are concerned about your customers needs, if you are in the Relationship Business you are concerned about your customers.
  • If you are in the Service Business you want customers today, if your are in the Relationship Business you want customers tomorrow.

There is a big difference between being in the Service Business and being in the Relationship Business. It changes the way you view things. It changes the way you act and speak. In fact, you don’t act, you interact. There is a big difference. So next time you are interacting with a customer or prospect, think about what you are saying. Are you in the Service Business or are you in the Relationship Business?  If you want to succeed and grow, you need to be in the Relationship Business.