R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

RespectYes, that spells the word Respect.  But what has happened to Respect in the workplace and with regards to customers and clients?

The workplace is a reflection of society at large. Today, we see a range of behaviors that demonstrate a lack of respect and civility, both inside and outside the workplace. Studies and polls indicate that we all view disrespect as a serious problem that is getting worse.

One study found that 60% of employees believe that co-workers’ annoying behaviors negatively impact the workplace and, as a result, 40% reported that they are looking for new employment. These findings illustrate that disrespectful behaviors drain productivity and negatively influence both an organization’s bottom line and the overall economy.

The following are some tips to assist you in achieving more Respect in your workplace:

1-    Before acting, consider the impact of your words and actions on others.

2-    Create an inclusive work environment.  Only by recognizing and respecting individual differences and qualities can your organization fully realize its’ potential.

3-    Self-monitor the respect that you display in all areas of your communications, including verbal, body language, and listening.

4-    Understand your triggers or “hot buttons.”  Knowing what makes you angry and frustrated enables you to manage your reactions and respond in a more appropriate manner.

5-    Take responsibility for your actions and practice self-restraint and anger management skills in responding to potential conflicts.

6-    Adopt a positive and solution-driven approach in resolving conflicts.

7-    Rely on facts rather than assumptions and second-hand information.  Gather relevant facts, especially before acting on assumptions that can damage relationships.

8-    Include others in your focus by considering their needs and avoiding the perception that you view yourself as the “center of the universe.”

9-    View today’s difficult situations from a broader (big picture) and more realistic perspective by considering what they mean in the overall scheme of things.

10- Become a bridge builder and role model for civility and respect. Act in a manner whereby you respect yourself, demonstrate respect for others, and take advantage of every opportunity to be proactive in promoting civility and respect in your workplace.

11- Respect yourself and those you work with. or criticism personally. Respect is a building block of meaningful relationships, and it comes about when we place value on other people.

12- DWYSYWD and Exceed the Expectations of Others. Don’t disappoint those around you, therefore Do What You Say You Will Do and Exceed the Expectation of Others.  You set the standard, as an example throughout the entire company.

13- Stand Firm on Your Core Values, Convictions and Principles and never waver. As a leader it’s always tempting to make politically correct decisions that promise safety instead of bold ones that involve risk.

14- Maturity Well-Beyond Your Years. One mark of maturity is the willingness to assume responsibility. Another indication of maturity is character, or the willingness to do what’s right even when it’s costly. A final mark of maturity is confidence.

15- Experience Success in Your Family and Career. Neither success nor failure is a one-time event. Rather, both result from the accumulation of thousands of seemingly insignificant actions done day-by-day and week-by-week. Identify which activities, performed daily, will develop you into the type of leader you aspire to be and then be relentless about practicing them.

16- Invest in the Success of Others. But, first define success, it has to involve helping people.

17- Plan, Plan, Plan. Leaders gain respect because they think ahead of others and more deeply than others. They project their minds into the future, and they discipline themselves to put sustained thought into major issues facing their team.

Conclusion

Respect in the workplace benefits everyone, and it’s really not that difficult to achieve. All it takes is a little care in the way you deal with others. Getting into the habit of mutual respect in the workplace will inevitably spread into your personal and social life as well, so the advantages just keep adding up.

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GETTING SALES PEOPLE TO USE YOUR CRM

CRM.1Anyone who has their own business has probably have heard of the term CRM – however a great deal of these people don’t actually understand what it means. In short CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management, although this is a general term and it does not really take into account the full scope of what a CRM really means.

Obviously, customers are the backbone of your business- without them your business would fail. CRM or the implementation of a CRM web service is a way that a business goes about organizing, marketing, managing, handling and tracking customers and potential customers. To do this successfully a specific CRM software program is used, which is usually is a software program which can then be altered to suit the individual business.

There are some features of a CRM software program that all businesses will use such as:

  • Customer contact details – it is essential that these are kept up-to-date and accurate as communication with customers is crucial to any business.
  • Customer order details and analytics – it is essential that these details are up-to-date and accurate as they are needed to process jobs, create invoices and track you customer activities.
  • Quoting, helpdesk software, and invoicing tools – having such tools within a CRM program means that users do not have to have several programs open at once.
  • Outstanding debt and payment information.
  • Current tasks/jobs that outstanding and in which department.
  • Employee information, this can be anything from employee contact information and departmental information to information relating to employee wages and holidays.

CRM for Marketing

CRM also plays a large role in a targeted marketing to customers and future customers, it can help a business plan a marketing strategy based on a number of critical data like previous sales. This means that you are not wasting money on marketing campaigns targeting the wrong demographic. Similarly a CRM helps the sales staff when they are speaking on the phone to customers as it can help them to identify trends in customer’s habits which can then enable them to up-sell products and increase profits.

When using a CRM in your marketing strategy, you now have the ability to track all customers and prospects throughout the sales process.  When using the CRM to map the entire Sales Process, by each campaign, you identify the type of ‘touches’ and the analytics with each strategy.

Incorporate CRM into Your Business

While salespeople are obsessed with targeting new leads and closing deals, they don’t have a track record of being excited about using a CRM. When the topic of CRM is brought up to many salespeople who have used some form of CRM in the past, expect eyes to roll, to hear heavy signs, and even to see some salespeople ending their own life in some comical fashion. This reaction is justifiable as older CRM systems have a reputation for being clunky, limited in function, and perceived to be a waste of time. Because CRM systems are constantly being re-engineered for maximum efficiency and flexibility, CRM’s today are hardly recognizable to salespeople today. Still, the bad taste from past CRM systems remains. How do you get your current sales team to start using your CRM system? There are a few different methods.

1. The benefits of using a CRM

Part of the reason you probably want your company to start using a CRM system is to increase sales – and CRM does this. With critical customer background information your salespeople have the maximum amount of information about a customer before the sales call or sales appointment is ever made, this allows the sales representative to customize the appointment to the customer’s needs. When a sales call is more focused on the customer’s needs rather than a sales goal or a salesperson’s commission. When the customer’s past orders are visible to the sales associate, this gives the sales person an opportunity to either sell the customer more or, at the very least, get their feedback on their past purchase for future business. With all of this knowledge available to them, this should work as great incentive for sales people to utilize CRM for not only the benefit of the entire company, but their own sales.

2. Provide the proper CRM training.

After showing your sales people the benefits of using a custom CRM system, implementing a CRM will be an uphill battle without the proper training. Arranging for the proper training doesn’t have to be an elaborate event or require too many resources. Just setting aside some time for a certified CRM consultant to show your sales team the ropes and answer questions. You may also consider having a follow-up training session over lunch or some other related event where sales people, after having had a chance to use CRM, bring their questions, voice their concerns, or share how CRM has benefited them so far.

3. Build CRM into your existing system.

You’ve talked up the benefits of CRM and given your sales staff the proper training in order to use it, but you still have a few sales people who are dragging their feet. You may feel like you’re running out of options, but there are a few more things you can do. One of the ways to ensure that your sales people utilize your company’s CRM system is build it in to your existing systems. Because of the tremendous versatility of today’s CRM systems, CRM can be used to make announcements, to share data, to make marketing decisions, and much more. If your sales people are receiving leads via email or some other system, switch that avenue to your CRM. If your sales team has to use CRM in order to access their bread-and-butter leads, they’ll have no other choice but to utilize the investment your company has made in them in the form of an effective CRM system.

As you phase your CRM system in, begin to phase your older systems out and make sure to have a pre-determined date your sales team knows about when older systems or methods will be completely gone

4. Get Serious about your CRM system.

Sales people are a very independent bunch of workers. While on one hand, sales people work to sell products and services for a company, many struggle to be “team players” in order to have a vision of what’s best for the company as a whole several years down the road. It can be easy for sales people to forget that, though their pay is usually directly based on their ability to sell, they are ultimately part of a team just like everybody else.

5. Incentive to Use the CRM

If a company makes the investment in their sales team in the form of a CRM system and a sales person refuses to use it, those are resources going to waste.  Not only have you wasted the money in the cost of the CRM system, but also what is the ultimate cost in the form of lost sales opportunities that would have resulted from properly implementing the CRM system.

Build in the compensation program for your sale people with an incentive or dis-incentive for the sale people to use the system.  This can be easily justified if you need the services of another staff member to help build the critical data into the CRM system.  At a future date, this redundancy will need to be addressed and the sales person needs to realize that as of a certain date, the ship will set sail, with or with them.

THE COST OF CUSTOMER SERVICE

AngryI recently had a customer service experience that I feel compelled to share.  Just a bit of background first . . .

I used this outside vendor for the past 12 months, with no issues.  However, I was not deriving the necessary ROI (Return on Investment) for this service.  Therefore I cancelled this service, compliant with the understanding they needed 30 days prior notification.  While looking at my business account some 45 days later, I noticed a recent charge that should not have been there- for this very service.  Therefore, I notified the company and requested reversal of the charges.

I received the following email as a reply to my request for the reversal of charges . .

“When you cancel, we do require a 30 day notification, so if you’re notifying us today that you do wish to cancel your agreement with us, that would technically start the 30 day notification as of now, and September would be your final payment due to us.”

After wasting my time researching and providing previous emails to this company, I received the following response . . .

“I wasn’t privy to these emails, so my apologies. I will instruct accounting to reimburse you immediately.”

As of today, over one week later, I am STILL waiting for the reimbursement into my account. In fact I am thinking that my next email will be to question the timeliness of their commitment to the word ‘immediately’.

What went wrong?

This business is not a terribly large, with only 15 employees, but (whether they admit it or not) they have significant challenges with their customer service.

1- Communication.  All communication needs to be shared with all people in their customer service area, by customer account is preferred.

2- Never write an email with a confrontational tone. There should be Systems and Procedures that have an approved email template that customer service personnel can use without deviation.  Remember, the objective for Customer Service is to help the customer not anger the customer.

3- In an apology, there are three critical parts that need to be addressed:

a. We made a mistake.

b. We are sorry for this mistake.

c. What can we do make it up to you?

4- The cost of acquiring a new client is six times more than maintaining an existing client.  I am NOT a satisfied (previous) customer, therefore the ultimate cost of a dis-satisfied customer has an huge exponential (and largely unknown) cost to your business.

5-    Every customer service break-down, represents the opportunity to identify and improve the level of the customer experience.

What to do?

You need to get into your customers’ heads.  Unfortunately, you can’t read minds. The Technician in you accepts this and tries to genuinely meet your customers’ expectations. Unfortunately, this doesn’t cut it.

The business owner wearing the Technician hat takes the easy route and bases the company’s entire customer experience system on the “standard” systems they see everywhere else.

• The automated hold message says, “Your call is important to us…”

• The customer service represent asks, “How may I help you?”

• The supervisor replies in a neutral tone, “I understand your frustration.”

These things might work at times. But they’re not achieving the desired result. In fact, they’re keeping your business stagnant.  If your business is like most, you thrive on repeat business, loyal customers, excellent customer service and positive word-of-mouth.

So, if the desired result is a healthy and thriving customer base that will keep coming back and telling others about you (and it should be), it’s time to change hats. Many companies have been able to achieve this. But staggering numbers haven’t, even though it’s entirely within their reach.

Companies that create a healthy customer base do so by providing an exceptional customer experience. They create an experience with a systematic approach and intention to exceed customer expectations.  It’s not by accident.  It’s by design.  The two areas of focus that most business owners tend to unintentionally overlook are also the two areas that can have the greatest impact on increased sales and profitability.

Customer Service and Delivery

“Customer service” is an overused phrase that has little meaning any more, but customers still want their needs met. To accomplish this requires that customer service is the responsibility of every employee, whether they have direct customer contact or not.

Customer service is different from any add-on service you offer for sale.  If you charge money for a service, it’s part of your product mix.  Customer Service is free.

Customer Service enhances your main offer – it’s not your main offer – but a pleasantly unexpected bonus that reinforces your message that you care.

Customer Service opportunities are endless.  It is a major area that can give you a competitive advantage – especially if you are seen as a commodity with numerous competitors.  So when you start thinking about the customer services you might offer, think beyond the obvious.

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. What attributes of your business lend themselves to better customer service?  Don’t be afraid to experiment and then elicit feedback from the people who know best – your customers.

Delivery Experience

There comes that moment in your customer experience where your customer accepts delivery of your product or service. This really is the moment of truth. It’s the culminating moment where you either exceed, meet, or fall short of your customers’ expectations.

The mechanics for delivery are different for every business, but every business has a process to get the product or service into a customer’s hands. The question you must ask yourself is: does it “deliver?” Delivery has two main components: transportation and experience.

Transportation runs from very simple to very complicated – from handing your customer their product at the time of purchase to outsourcing to a parcel delivery service. This decision is informed by the nature of the product or service and the available transportation channels.

One of the keys to building customer loyalty is to regularly subject your transportation systems to various measureable analytics – making sure you deliver the result your customers expect at the most reasonable cost.

The delivery experience, on the other hand, is your opportunity to differentiate your business from every other competitor.  In order to do that, you must fully leverage the marketing principle of “sensory impact.”

In other words, you need to do more than simply hand off your product or service to your customer; you need to make them feel good about the value they receive. The way you present your product or service to the customers who purchase it will have a lasting impact on their experience of your business.

While your concerns about delivery might be the costs of shipping, the reliability of your transport company, and whether to ship ground or air, your customers have their own definition of delivery.

They are focused on convenience, speed, and the cost to them. And because they look at how the package arrives, having it delivered by premium shippers like UPS or FedEx can enhance the perceived value to your clients. Not because those trucks are any better than anyone else’s, but because they are associated with speed and convenience.

From your clients’ perspective, you cared enough to satisfy them quickly, even if you had to pay extra for it. The result is a positive delivery experience.  Remember, “the medium is the message.” How you say or do something often has more impact than the actual content of the message.

In other words, the way in which you present your product to your customer may often times have more impact than the product itself.

Doing What It Takes

As a business owner, you know your resources are finite.  There is only so much equipment, inventory, cash, workspace, and employee time available.

When considering how to excel in providing an exceptional customer experience, it’s up to you to get the most value from those resources. But there’s more to it than just quantifying output.

It is counter-productive to your goals to simply squeeze more cost-effectiveness from your processes if it dilutes or sacrifices your customer experience or places undue burdens on your employees.

The key is to manage that delicate balance between productivity and the expectations that fuel true customer satisfaction.

WHERE’S MY OLD MARKETING MACHINE?

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????It’s time to crank up the old marketing machine!! Not only marketing for customers but for talent. As with most business owners, you need to dial-back almost a decade to find a time when marketing was as badly needed as it is today.

So, you are not sure where I put my marketing machine? Last I saw it, I think it’s sitting over with sales, but I’m not sure. I know we spend a lot of money to produce lots of marketing ‘stuff’, but I’m not sure who’s really leading the charge.

What we find is that the marketing function is simply missing in many of the company we meet with.  Or, a bigger mistake is take marketing and lump it in with sales with someone titled VP of Sales and Marketing running the show. And for many entrepreneurial firms, it’s the founder/CEO who is the default Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) with insufficient time to focus on the critical marketing tasks needed to drive profitable revenue growth.  So, here are four things you need to know about marketing:

Separate Marketing Function

The first step is to recognize the need for a distinctly separate marketing function with someone clearly accountable other than the VP of Sales. One of the first hires Michael Dell made, when he took back the CEO position recently, was a CMO, a position that had been vacant for over two years. It’s hard to get back market share without someone driving marketing.

Though marketing needs to work closely with sales, it must come out from underneath the sales function and stands alone within the company. Marketing requires different metrics, different conversations, and different personalities than sales. And in many cases the head of marketing should report directly to the CEO if it’s not the CEO driving the marketing process themselves.

In identifying someone to drive marketing, it’s vital to recognize that marketing professionals are different human beings than sales people. One is relationship driven, the other is process driven. It’s not surprising to see marketing leaders with degrees in physics, engineering, or even accounting. One of the best marketers of our time is Steve Jobs and he studied physics (along with literature and poetry) at Reed College.  As the CEO, if you are the best person to drive marketing, then it is imperative that you clear your plate of other functions and get focused on marketing. Marketing is a full time job from day one!

Get Data from Customers and Employees

You need market intelligence to drive your marketing decisions around price, place, promotion, and product, the 4 Ps of marketing – you just can’t be making these decisions in a vacuum.

The simplest approach is for each executive to call one customer per week and talk with one front line employee per week. Find out about their priorities, challenges and pains; inquire what they are seeing in their own industries and demographics; and ask them what they are seeing and hearing from your competitors (by doing a SWOT Analysis). Only last do you ask for their feedback on your firm.

You also need your sales organization calling in DAILY and reporting on what they’ve learned in the field. And the best way to get them to do this is to threaten with weekly sales calls reports!

Meetings and Metrics

The third step is setting up a weekly one hour marketing meeting, distinct from your weekly sales meeting. Here you will discuss what has been learned from the marketplace, any updated decisions around the 4 Ps, SWOT information about the competition and set marketing priorities for the coming week. This has been the universal key to driving marketing that high tech companies like Apple, Intel, and Genetech have implemented.

Besides the CEO and head of marketing along with any outsourced marketing resources you’re employing, I encourage as many of the other executives to participate as possible.

You also want to brainstorm this key question “what are the key influencers we need to reach this week that can fuel the word-of-mouth marketing of our products and services and how will we reach them?” Think tipping point!

As for metrics, the primary function of marketing is Lead Generation. ALL marketing activities must eventually drive leads, into qualified leads, and into buying customers or clients. Therefore, measure hits to the website; page views and time on the website; inquires tied to various promotions or ads; and referrals garnered from your word-of-mouth activities.  You want to measure the cost per warm lead so you can maximize the effectiveness of your marketing expenditures.

Last, to continue feeding ideas and topics for your weekly marketing meeting, become a great student of marketing. Read every book, attend every workshop, and visit every company that represents world-class marketing. Particularly in the field of marketing, it takes just one great idea. Start by reading most of Seth Godin’s books: Permission Marketing, Purple Cow and All Marketers are Liars, Is Your Marketing Out of Sync. Also sign up to receive Seth’s blog; and “google” his 43 minute presentation to Google.

Also study Dr. Robert Cialdini’s classic book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion and master his six keys to persuasion and read Malcolm Gladwell’s bestseller The Tipping Point. Read Gilmore and Pine’s Experience Economy and scan through Jay Conrad Levinson’s classic guerilla marketing books. I would also suggest Jim Cecil’s “Cure for the Common Cold Call” off his nurture marketing website.

There has never been a more explosive global economy – now is the time to grab market share. If you don’t, others won’t wait!