Monthly Archives: April 2016

Who’s in Your Power Team

You cannot do it on your own. This is the single most important lesson that I have learnt over my career to date. When I have chosen to ignore, avoid or skirt around this fact I have made countless expensive mistakes and created problems that with just a pinch of hindsight, were huge schoolboy errors.

What does having a Power Team mean to me now? In simple terms I am not alone in making decisions as a businessman, husband, father or just a simple human being. This is not me searching for permission from another source or higher body before I make progress or try to move forward, it is having the strength and ability to ask for, receive and listen and then act upon the help that I am given.

For me a Power Team consists of 5 key components:
The Coach – Personal and Professional
The Wealth Manager
The Accountant
The Solicitor
The Mastermind Group

The bonus element for many would be religion – religion can come in many forms, from your God through to your sport or community. It is that release, that Zen place, that place of calm and reflection.

The Coach – Personal and Professional

Why do I have a coach, when I am a coach myself? A coach does not need to be an expert in the area that you specialise in, they need to be able to enable and assist the coachee to uncover their own formula for success. To discover the areas and elements that are holding them back and agree the steps to seeing an action through to completion. A coach is not there to mentor you on how they build x or how they did y, it’s totally about the coachee not the coach, which is not always easy to find. I now work well with a coach that takes none of my ‘BS’, asks the questions behind my answers and digs deep. I sadly have had weak coaches in the past who have listened to my stories and been seduced by my answers without uncovering my true motivation or direction. The foundation of all behavioural change that a coach is trying to help you access is unlocking emotion, not emotion that makes you break down in tears but the emotional connection between where you are and what you want to achieve – without emotion behavioural change will not happen.

The Wealth Manager

Historically my parents and many people from their generation trusted implicitly in the advice and connections given to them by their Bank Manager – they were the hub of the community, beyond reproach with a black book containing the answer to all our questions. Sadly that is not true anymore, and to be fair the older generation do still have a tendency to believe what is in the newspapers as well.

How does this work for me in the format of a Wealth Manager? This person and their team looks out for the bigger picture of where I am taking my finances to, what I need to spend and in turn what I need to be bringing in, in order to achieve those goals. It makes no difference whether those goals are driving big flash cars, putting kids through private education or going on long exotic holidays in far off places – someone else needs to fully understand how that is all calculated and help you to achieve these goals. It’s not about selling you the latest product they can think of; it is the bigger picture of wealth in line with what you as an individual desire or need.

The Accountant

The Accountant for me has one role in my world and that is to make sure I am paying all the taxes that I need to pay. Simple – and of course not a penny more than I need to. There is a balance here required between a Compliance Accountant and a Management Accountant, both skills are very necessary for obvious different reasons. The one talks to HMRC and tells you what to pay, the other tells you whether you are currently making any money from what you are doing and where you either need to tighten your belt or put your prices up. I firmly believe that there are skills that you need, skills that would be nice to have and other areas where I clearly do not want to be the expert and I will buy in that skill – accountancy is one of those areas. With my wife helping as my book-keeper we know the management accounts and therefore only need to use the compliance elements of the Accountant’s skill set, that may well change. As an employee, an entrepreneur or anything in-between there are many ways this profession can save you money and make you money – having been on the receiving end of an HMRC enquiry because of my overseas investments, that support was incredibly valuable to me, trying to sort it all on my own would have costs a great deal more overall.

The Solicitor

Legal is legal – no business person or individual wants to spend money with Solicitors. The clock starts ticking and the open cheque book comes out onto the table, a very frightening situation for most. However if the advice is sought at the beginning of an adventure, venture or collaboration it will save a lot of heartache at a later date when relationships go their separate ways. No wedding ever needs a prenuptial agreement when the couple get married, but when the proverbial hits the fan they really do. In recent times I had a contract broken on me by a client, I double checked that my T&C’s were watertight with my Solicitor – they were – this meant the client was due to pay 100% of the cancelled contract and so it was up to me and my conscience as to what I was willing to negotiate on.

The Mastermind Group

The Mastermind Group – have a look at previous articles I have written on Masterminding. You will also find elements within my book – FAFF, the False Art of Feeling Fulfilled. In short for me a Mastermind means a group of non-competitive business people meeting to support, learn and provoke each other. No one person is in charge, all are there to support each other and in-between each meeting members meet up and hold each other accountable for the actions they committed to. All members of a Mastermind Group are there to learn and discover skills and ideas that they would not get from their normal working environment – one such group uses the wonderful phrase, “The board you could never afford”. After any Mastermind session it is entirely up to the individual to either take or not take action, none of the members can make you do anything. However, if as a member of a Mastermind Group an individual goes through the motions and doesn’t take action, there clearly is no point in them taking part as they are wasting their time, money and effort and should leave and make room for someone else to join.

Religion

That Zen place – sport has always been a religion to me, from my days attempting to play a high standard of rugby through to where I spend my time now trying not to get drowned in a water polo pool or building up to swim the English Channel. Sport has always been part of me, releasing anger and angst, a form of meditation and focus, hunger and passion. I’m good but not good enough to make a living from it. Good enough to make an impact as part of a team or just being fit for life. Where is your Zen place? The inside of a beer barrel or other stimulant is a false place of release, while pleasant or great at the time it is never a long term solution.

With or without a Power Team, we are likely to make errors. However the difference is they will be well considered beforehand and the potential negative fallout will be known in advance and can be planned for and managed effectively. I firmly believe that as an employee, CEO or freelance consultant we will all achieve more in our lives, discover the true depth of our brilliance and leave a positive footprint in the world as a result of us being here. Doing it on your own may work for some, but I believe in making the journey easier by surrounding myself with the right Power Team for me.

How to Create a Business and Life You Love

There are many advantages to becoming an entrepreneur. I asked accomplished entrepreneurs why they started their own business. They often reply that they saw a need, they had a vision, or they wanted to be their own boss to have more freedom in their life.

Entrepreneurship is supposed to bring joy and fun for you and others while making a contribution in the world, right?

Why, then do entrepreneurs often find themselves:

• Trying to hold it all together at the expense of their time
• Overwhelmed or overloaded
• Not having enough energy on those very things that invigorate them, like reading their favorite book, participating in their favorite sport, or walking the dog.

If you recognize some of these points in your own life, these are telltale signs you may not have created, or have something missing, from your existence system.

What’s an existence system?
Simply put, an existence system is a system designed to put your ideal scenario into reality.

My clients use a Business Blueprint. Even though it’s called a Business Blueprint, it is designed to align all areas of their life – both personal and professional.
Because it takes a systems approach, or a whole view, it’s designed to align your vision, mission and purpose with your goals. When you do, you have an aligned road map. The moment something is not working, it’s easy to refer to the Blueprint to see how you got off track or what’s missing.

To create a business and life you love, one of the first things I recommend to my clients is to look at their goals through four filters. One of the filters is the internal filter or what’s most important to them personally.

All too often, business owners develop their financial goals and forget about creating goals that add meaning in their life. The things that would fall under your internal filter would be spending quality time with your loved ones, taking more vacations, or being physically fit. Often times, however, these are the very things often missing from your goals.

In life, not everything is planned. This process can be used to address an unexpected event, too. One day a client called me to share that her husband was diagnosed with cancer. My client suddenly found herself trying to juggle multiple areas of her life, feeling exhausted, and out of sync.

We worked together to develop a forward-thinking goal of health and wellness (for her and him). She then jotted down all of the related objectives and action items. She admitted that it didn’t occur to her to apply the intentional approach she takes with her business to her personal life.

Most people don’t use this intentional approach to their personal life but it makes a profound difference. This was a similar approach that I used for myself over 20 years ago when I had a cancer diagnosis. I remember it gave me a sense of comfort during an uncomfortable and emotional experience.

After adding this personal goal and shifting some of the other goals in her business, she conveyed a sense of relief and control. This approach helped her to re-prioritize all of the things she had on her plate and lead herself powerfully through this unexpected event. Today, her husband is in remission and is living a life of health and wellness.

As an added benefit, she was then able to spend time on what was most important, use her resources more effectively, and powerfully manage all areas of her life, including her business. She began to see a new possibility of her plan being accomplished with complete ease and peace of mind despite the circumstances.

If things aren’t happening as you would like, you’re scattered, or feel overwhelmed, it may be an indication that you’re simply missing important personal goals in your existence system. If you want to be fit and healthy or attend more of your children’s events, have more vacation, or spend more time on things that energize you, that can all be created through your existence system.

The first step is simple. List what you would like to create in all areas of your life. Don’t stop there. Create an existence system to take it from possibility to reality.

If you would like to explore how to set up your own vision and invent new possibilities, simply pick up a copy of my book, Me, Myself, and Why? The Secrets to Navigating Change.

Strategy Always Starts With a Purpose

“Definiteness of purpose is the starting point of all achievement.” W. Clement Stone

… including of a successfully implemented strategy. Being purpose-driven is key for all stakeholders of a business – customers, employees and suppliers are attracted to why a company ‘does something’ and by extension to what it believes in. In a complex world, being clear about a company’s purpose is no longer discerning – it’s the only way to run a business in the 21st century.

A clear and compelling purpose creates a connection beyond merely just selling products or services to customers – it reaches out to customers through selling them what the company believes in, before selling them products or services.

Similarly, it’s not just about hiring the best people to do the job – it’s also about hiring people who ‘believe in what the company believes in’ and who become passionate about it. Such passionate employees will then be ten times more motivated and successful than employees who merely do a job for a salary. In both cases, it transcends a monetary transaction and creates a strong bound.

Every concept of strategy such as a sustainable competitive advantage, positioning, differentiation and value add then flows from that clear and compelling purpose – the marker of the most successful companies.

However many companies today seem to have lost their purpose. Most will proudly say that they have one but it bears no resemblance to what it should be i.e. why does a company exist, what is the unique value that it brings to the world, what sets it apart and why and for whom does it matter.

I would defy anyone to be compelled, enthused, let alone attracted by the likes of “being the largest… “, “being the finest… “, “being the world’s most admired… “, “being the leading provider of… “, “to be best… in the world”, “to be the preferred… “, “to be the most successful provider of… “, etc.

Compare those with Unilever’s “to create a better future everyday” (from which then flows the development of brands and services that help people look and feel good and get more out of life) and then you understand what a clear and compelling purpose is.

The theme behind this purpose dates back to Unilever’s 19th century founder, William Lever, whose purpose was “to make cleanliness commonplace, to lessen work for women, to foster health and contribute to personal attractiveness, so that life may be more enjoyable and rewarding for the people who use our products”. His Sunlight Soap was acknowledged as a revolutionary new product that helped popularise cleanliness and hygiene in Victorian England.

Financial Data Analysis Services – What Should You Get?

A smart investor or trader is one who pays attention to everything that is happening in the financial market. It is not only important to keep up with the local financial market, but also the global market considering that what is happening in one country can affect the entire financial market. With so many financial report sources, keeping up is not always as hard as it seems. It can actually be something very easy and fruitful to do with the right approach.

One of the best ways you can settle in to get the latest on financial data that matters most to you as a trader is using professionals for analysis. There are numerous financial data service providers who take the initiative of keeping you posted on everything that is happening in the financial markets. The services can definitely prove valuable to any kind of trader considering that some things happen and take time before coming out to the public. Using these services means you will be among the first to know and even go deeper into finding out what impacts such happenings are likely to bring into the financial world.

With so many providers, what kind of information should you exactly get to make a difference for your investment decisions?

Merger rumors – A good financial data provider that can offer you this information makes sure you know what is expected so you can start preparing to shift focus to areas that are bound to be more beneficial.

Insider stock purchases – With this kind of information, you will know exactly where to turn to so as to purchase valuable stocks as soon as they are up for grabs.

Earning reports – There is nothing better than keeping up with earning reports not just for you, but the financial companies you are interested in.

Company announcements – They are just as important since you get to find out what companies are planning and what such announcements could mean to you. Hence, you will be in a position to take the right steps.

Market movers – By knowing the movers and shakers in the financial markets, you will know what steps to take with your investments, whether to buy or sell depending on what you feel is best for you.

Upgrades and downgrades – They happen all the time in the financial markets and the more informed you are, the better it will be for you to make the best decisions. When working with a good financial data service provider, it becomes easy to know which stocks or companies have upgraded or downgraded, what such changes mean for your investment and what step to take next.

These are some of the details you should be able to get from your service provider to keep you a step ahead of what the financial market currently is. The professionals know just how to get news that is most important to you and will make it available to you on time so you can make decisions to take the necessary steps.

Going Further and Faster Thanks to Strategic Partnerships

Instead of trying to do everything alone, strategic partnerships can be an effective way to build businesses. As each partner leverages the assets of the other, they can expand or penetrate more deeply markets for existing and contemplated products, compete in new markets, gain access to new distribution channels, benefit from positive brand imagery or fine-tune new business models. Partnerships are especially valuable to companies seeking quick entry to a particular market or business line because of technological disruption, new market entrants, or aggressive moves by competitors.

Not surprisingly they can take various shades of grey from joint ventures to looser alliances and often have a specific focus:

Strategic marketing partnerships allow companies with good match (e.g. target audience, brand/value perceptions, etc) to enhance their brand image and boost awareness in a cost effective and synergistic manner, combining two brand budgets and marketing outlets.

For example, the partnership between Christian Dior Fusion Sneakers and Colette gave Christian Dior the opportunity to launch its funky, innovative, luxurious new line (a fusion between traditional sneakers and Dior couture shoes) in Colette’s exclusive and prestigious distribution network. For Colette, being chosen as the store where the sneakers first appeared generated great PR for the trend-setting retailer.

Should the partners be in different parts of a same market, clients can be referred between one another and partners can expand beyond their respective customer base as illustrated by H&M’s on-going collaboration with haute couture designers such as Karl Lagerfeld, Lanvin or Alexander Wang. This allows H&M to offer high-end fashion branded items over a limited time period to drive people into its stores and support its brand positioning as a trendy fashion destination. Haute couture designers increase the awareness of their own brand and forge a bond with a new generation of potential customers, who will hopefully aspire to owning more pieces from their high-end collection.

This can also take place across different product markets as is the case with the partnership between the high end camera company Leica and the luxury fashion brand Moncler. The limited edition ‘fashion’ camera makes the perfect aspirational purchase for both high-end target audiences and reflects the sense of aesthetics of the camera owners.

Strategic supplier partnerships can include manufacturers, distributors, or vendors. They provide security of supply (including new products tailor-made to specific needs) and might lead to special discounts and lower prices, a classical example being Apple and Google working with many small application developers to create an ecosystem of mobile services.

Such relationship can sometimes edge towards schizophrenia. Apple’s main supplier of microchips for its iPhones is Samsung, its main rival in the smartphone market. They compete aggressively in the market while collaborating closely on the design of the semiconductors Samsung sells to Apple.

Strategic supplier partnerships can also be created to bring a unique competitive advantage to one the partner. H&M is collaborating with I:CO, a logistics firm, as it has started to offer customers the opportunity to bring their old clothes to its shops and receive a discount on new ones. I:CO sends some of the used clothing to the second-hand market or to be recycled.

Strategic technology partners help business share the burden of the high costs often associated with new technologies. The need to develop electric, hybrid, hydrogen fuel-cell and other forms of propulsion, and at the same time also to invest heavily in their petrol and diesel engines has led car-markers such as Toyota to partner with rival BWM on fuel-cell technology.

Technology partnerships can also bring companies from different industries together such as Allianz teaming up with Google to create an “accelerator” centre in Munich, to foster startups seeking to use data analysis to improve the insurance market.

They can also bring together companies operating across different parts of the technology spectrum such as the Apple and IBM alliance. IBM’s big data analytics and more than 100,000 industry sales consultants and software developers help Apple penetrate the global corporate enterprise market with new class of applications to connect users to big data and analytics on iOS devices.

Despite all those successes, making partnership relationships work is often notoriously difficult. They are akin to marriages of convenience, where trust and respect are often tested by the underlying rivalries and occasional spats.

Rules to achieve successful partnerships abound but focus should be kept on partnering with a company with a similar vision and culture, and on building trust on an on-going basis through working openly and transparently together. In any case, the majority of partnerships do not exactly pan out the way they were anticipated to, so flexibility as always is a primer.

Provide the Best Quality Service or Business That You Desire to See or Receive – Always Do Your Best

Surmise each life-given situation, as an opportunity, that can be seen as a resolute invitation to resolve and devise a higher paradigm for the propitiation of ineptness and weakness has already been paid in full. Most everyone knows what they want and how they want to be treated. We have all learned that being rude is useless and have all moved on to behave respectfully to everyone that we deal with in our daily lives. I am sure that most everyone is well-versed in etiquette and ready to excel when we buy, shop or sell both as customers, and as vendors. Almost everyone is born with the ability to learn how to sell, serve, buy and understand the concept of a good customer service experience. Realize that everyone’s time is important, and that includes yours and mine!

If somebody at the cash register, on the telephone line, or in any given service situation is acting offensively or taking too long to recognize us as customers, they lose our business, they lose our trust and our respect as well.

Disillusion procrastination: judiciously utilize your time with good intent: serenely be a co-creator, both you as a customer or you as a vendor wish to derive value from each others presence. Be an active participant of a highly calculable mode of living, that behooves you; completed in honesty, integrity and with limitless possibilities. Make a soft a subtle sound., ie clear your voice, say hello or direct a friendly glare to your vendor or customer. You can avoid a rough situation by providing soft, subtle cues to gain your customer or vendor’s attention. You will both be happy when you finally, hopefully, within a few seconds, get to speak to one another in eager anticipation.

Cultivate many rewards that are well-won by keeping a higher constitution in your premeditated thoughts; our thoughts always transpire into action, one-step-at-a-time. Set your intention to have a good selling or a great buying experience before you leave your home or sacred space.

Be cognizant of your remarkable, marketability, and glowing attributes that were allotted to you from birth, all you have to do is cultivate what has already been provided for you. We are all willing and wanting to have great socialization and stimulating conversation when we engage a new person in the course of our daily or weekly sales and purchases. Give a voice to your thoughts and tell yourself that you are going to meet a nice service person or a nice customer that will be helpful and perhaps even witty, maybe prepare your planning so that you can fill that vacuum or lull of time, while waiting, for your turn, at the grocery store or doctor’s office. Perhaps by reading an engaging pamphlet, about the product or service, that you are preparing to buy, or sell.

By giving a voice to the vacuum of intention in your soul, you can garner a life of serendipity and uncommon success. Remember too, the example that you are setting for your own students or children who will emulate the way that they see you engage a customer or vendor. Aspire success for your posterity up to a 1,000%, the choice is yours alone to make. Relish every opportunity to show yourself worthy of a great exchange of words or service, as either a customer or as a vendor. Have a happier shopping experience as you mentally prepare to meet and engage someone knowledgeable or helpful on your next customer service experience.

Create Lasting Relationships With Your Customers

You love your customers, there’s no doubt about it. They trust you with their pet(s) and you consistently strive to maintain a great relationship with each one of them. The thing is… the more customers that you have, the harder it becomes to keep track of all of the little things that are vital to the health and happiness of each pet that comes into your facility. The key to lasting customer success lies in getting to know your customers better. A solid working relationship with your clients means a stronger business… but what tools can you use to make the process of getting to know your customers easier? An online booking software with a modern customer interface is the answer.

Are You Updated?

When you think of kennel management software do you consider the dashboard/administrator functions and what they can do to help your facility? I bet that you do. Even if your software is a bit outdated it still does its job, right? The customer side of your booking software has the potential to increase both your revenue and customer satisfaction, but it needs to be modern and simple to use. In order to maximize the potential of your customer portal, you need to take a step back and look at your customer experience. When your customers access their accounts, are they greeted with a modern look and feel, or are they confronted with an outdated booking system? If you haven’t created a test account using your customer portal, you should do so as soon as possible. Does your software run effectively on all modern browsers and systems? You want your customers to be able to book quickly and conveniently from anywhere on their computer, smartphone, or tablet. You understand their busy lifestyles and desire for convenience, and having a great customer interface reflects that. You don’t want to be the facility whose online booking is only compatible with Windows 7!

Hi Jessie… I Mean Samantha!

If your customer portal doesn’t offer the ability for your clients to upload their own photo, you might be missing the opportunity to connect with them on a personal level. Nothing is nicer than walking into a business that you love and the staff knowing who you are. You have a lot of clients and pets coming in and out of your facility, and it’s OK if you can’t always put a face to the name of the clients that are booking today. A customer portal that allows your clients to upload their photo, and a photo of their pet, means that you will be able to see both the name and the face of the client booking with you as you confirm their reservation! When your customers come to drop off their pet, you have the opportunity to greet them confidently and establish that personal relationship right away.

All in the Details

Personalized service is an important part of getting to know your clients, both animal and human. Medication information, special dietary needs, and temperament information are all vital to the pet’s health and happiness during their stay, so make it easy for your clients to let you know this information! A good customer interface allows them to input and change information as needed, which means that you are always up to date. The ability to assign notes to the pet, client, or booking allows your facility the freedom to provide personalized customer service because you always know what your customers need when they need it. Forget something? We all do! You and your staff have the ability to check a customer’s file or generate customized kennel cards at any time for quick reference. You can even communicate with your customers quickly and easily via an internal messaging system! Getting to know the details of your customers and furry clients is essential to better customer service, and is easily accomplished with the right software.

Well… That’s Awkward

No pet business wants to turn a customer away when they come to drop off their pet for their scheduled stay. This situation is awkward and bad for business because it means that there was an avoidable miscommunication about the requirements somewhere in the booking process. An easy way to ensure that this never happens at your facility is to provide detailed and complete instructions for the stay via the customer portal of your software. Do you require updated vaccinations, agreements to be signed, and questions to be answered prior to drop-off? Let your customers know, in no uncertain terms, via Booking Forms, vaccination alerts, and personalized messages. A vaccination alert system built into your software means that both you and your customers will know when a pet’s vaccinations are about to expire before their booking is even complete. A customer’s top priority is their pet’s health, so by keeping track of vaccinations with your smart software you are showing them that it’s your priority as well. A great customer portal means that your facility, your client, and their pet are all prepared for the visit. Your clients will always be ready for the drop-off… which means no more awkward encounters!

Organization: The Foundation Of Top-Notch Customer Service

Think of the last interaction you had with a business – maybe a local restaurant or shop, a medical facility, a call center. No matter the business, was it a pleasant experience or a less than ideal one? Given the choice, is it a business you’d interact with again? If you were satisfied with the level of customer service you received, most likely the answer will be yes. If you were not satisfied with the level of customer services you received, chances are the answer will be no.

Businesses are constantly striving to improve their customer service because happy clients mean repeat business and referrals. The old adage than an unhappy client will tell seven people about their experience is true. And in this day and age of digital connectivity and social media, one bad review can have a detrimental impact.

Successful businesses know that people are their greatest asset. They also know that these people need to be equipped with solid processes, systems and workflows to manage every aspect of the customer experience each and every time. An organized business operates consistently and more seamlessly than one that is constantly recreating the wheel.

In many businesses however, this foundation goes overlooked. Team members get busy, each working in their own silo. Turnover occurs and training is inadequate. Though owners and managers may set out with the best intentions, time constraints and day-to-day client demands often derail even the best attempts to standardize. Businesses that do not take a step back and commit the time necessary to standardize and document operations with careful thought to each client interaction will have an infinitely harder time getting ahead.

Start by mapping each step of a customer’s journey interacting with your business. No piece is too small or trivial to document. From lead through initial and ongoing outreach, to order processing/service delivery and follow-up, write down scripts, IT steps, etc. Document how new team members will be recruited, hired, trained and evaluated. Work piece by piece until it’s all in your Operations Manual.

It will never be possible to standardize every possible interaction and plan for every contingency. Customers are unique and different requests/challenges come up over time. This is why the Operations Manual should be a living document where the name of the game is implement, test, refine. When you develop a new process or refine a stale one, document it. And hold yourself and your team accountable for following the documented process each and every time.

According to Michael Gerber in The E Myth Revisited, “The purpose of a system [is] to free you to do the things you want to do. The System produces the results; your people manage the system.” Organizing and documenting your operations gives your team a manual by which to operate, where the rules of the game are known, and continuous improvement is embraced. It also gives your customers a consistent experience each and every time, so they know what to expect when they work with you. A consistently positive experience keeps customers coming back and telling their friends about you.

Which Side of the 20/5 Rule Is Your Company On?

Raising your blood pressure is not generally viewed as a good thing… but there is one area I know you will be happy to see it go up a bit… on a regular basis. It all depends on which side of the 20/5 rule you are sitting on…
The 20/5 Rule is simple to understand and everyone instinctively knows it to be true. It focuses on what people talk about… what they tell others about you. It focuses on “Awesome Customer Experiences” as opposed “Terrible Customer Experiences.” There is far more conversation generated on social media channels and in person of BAD EXPERIENCES than there are of WOW EXPERIENCES.

On average, when people are asked to share their experiences, we find they share 20 NEGATIVE experiences vs. 5 AWESOME experiences… the 20/5 rule. It is much easier for people to remember bad experiences they have had than it is to recall really incredible experiences.

Here is a simple test you can give your own leadership teams sometime in a meeting… it will be enlightening to prove my point. I have given this this test to many groups and here’s how it works and why I find interesting…

  • Give everyone two sheets of paper… with the numbers 1 through 20 listed down the left side
  • Ask them to take the first sheet and label it “Awful and Ugly Experiences”
  • Take the second sheet of paper and label it “Incredibly Awesome and Memorable Experiences”
  • Now ask them to start writing about their experiences on both sheets… without lots of detail but some highlights they remember about them
  • Give them 20 minutes total time… asking them to complete as much as they can on both sheets
  • Collect all the papers and total up the numbers in both columns for the group… the ratio will be very close to 20/5

When you discuss this with the group you find some very interesting comments… primarily focused around two primary areas…

  1. It was very easy to recall the awful experiences… they jumped to the front of their mind and were usually some of the most recent ones they have had
  2. They had to really think about the awesome experiences and usually say this was actually quite difficult to recall some that were really incredible and memorable

Let’s go back to the blood pressure discussion for a minute. After this exercise, I can guarantee you that when they were thinking about the negative experiences their blood pressure went up a bit… and not for a good reason. They were tense, stressed, and anxious as they recalled these painful experiences. If you are doing this in a room you can watch their faces grimace a bit and feel the tenseness in the room. But when they are writing about their positive experiences, their blood pressure went up a bit as well… for good reasons. They were happy… you could even see some smiles on their faces when they were writing about their awesome experiences. Both caused it to rise… but only one caused them to smile at the same time.

But the reason you get so few awesome experiences is because they don’t write down or remember their great experiences… it only happens when the experience is awesome, incredible, remarkable, and WOW! Most customers are almost comatose when they interact with businesses because it’s the same old thing over and over again with no reason to perk up and say WOW this is incredible! They might be great… but they aren’t incredible and they aren’t memorable.

The best companies change that… they get WOW from their customers. Today, if you get WOW consistently and deeply you create ADVOCATES… The Holy Grail in today’s commoditized world. Because now these advocates can spread massive WORD OF MOUTH about how awesome you are to thousands thanks to the power of social media. No longer do you need a massive amount of marketing… you just need more ADVOCATES/CUSTOMERS singing your praises and doing it for you!!

Here’s the “64 thousand dollar question“… HOW MUCH WOULD YOUR BUSINESS CHANGE IF YOU WERE ONE OF THESE ELITE 5 COMPANIES THAT GOT A “WOW” FROM YOUR CUSTOMERS… GOT TALKED ABOUT… AND CREATED MORE ADVOCATES?

This is a game changer… stop worrying about tweaking all your efficiency plans. Build a strategy to be one of the top 5 companies your customer can’t wait to tell others about. Let your competition worry about these and they will be in the 20 companies that either deliver bad experiences or they might deliver great experiences but they still don’t get talked about.

If you are in the TOP 5 you have established a solid BRAND and true DIFFERENTIATION. Now you have not only raised your customer’s blood pressure a bit but you have probably raised you’re own as well… in a positive way and for the right reasons! What side of the 20/5 Rule are you on today? Give the test to your leadership team and then create a strategy to be one of the 5 that get their customers to do their marketing for them… CREATE MORE ADVOCATES!

How to Maximize Your Customer Dollars

One of your employees comes to you with a customer issue and wants $200 to resolve it. Do you say yes or no? I know… it depends.

Let’s presume you say, “NO we can’t afford to spend that amount on this customer… they aren’t one of our top customers.” As it turns out they are a solid customer but not one on your top 20%… and you religiously follow the 80/20 rule of only making exceptions for your top customers. The customer is upset because their experience wasn’t great and you didn’t help the situation by not offering any concessions… they left. The customer decided they must not be important enough to you, based on how they were treated, so they decided to go check out your competitors.

Something else happens along the way and another customer isn’t happy with their experience and another employee wants to fix the situation by offering them a concession. They, too, aren’t in your top 20% and so you don’t offer any relief to this customer… they leave as well. For similar reasons, they decide it’s time to check out the competition to see if they offer a better experience and are easier to work with than your company.

It happens again… and for similar reasons. Now management decides this isn’t a good trend to have happening so they want to gather the team of 10 people together (from marketing, sales, customer service, and product) to assess the situation and try to figure out what is going on here and how they can stop losing customers.

Let’s do some simple math… some customers defected because of the poor experience and this might have cost you a few thousand dollars. Getting a team of people together for several meetings also has a cost to it… both for their time and the opportunity cost of what they don’t get to do while they are in these meetings.

At the end of the meetings, the outcome will most likely be to figure out how they can improve their customer experience so they don’t have to give concessions to customers… and they should have given the concessions to these customers because it was the right thing to do. Did you really need a meeting to figure this out or could you have just looked at the trends?

The other question to answer is, “What is the “cost of acquisition vs. the cost of retention for the company.” Acquisition has always proven to be a higher cost than retention. Now the company is out the revenues of the “solid customers” they just lost and now you have to invest far more money to acquire new customers to make up the revenue shortfall. Overall this is going to be an economic drain for a period of time since the revenue stops immediately but the acquisition effort takes time.

The final question to answer is, “What are the customers that just left going say about you in the market… in-person and on their social networks?” Nothing good… in fact it’s pretty much guaranteed it will be bad because of the way they felt they were treated. So now the loss is far more than a few customers that left… it’s the future loss of all those who will most likely never become customers because they trust the opinions of the customers that just left. We live in a time where 90% of the people believe the recommendation of a friend or connection. This means if a future customer talks to one of your lost customers, 90% of the will trust their opinion and not want to do business with your company. This is not a good scenario no matter how you look at it.

When you break down some of the potential costs a company can incur by not having a great experience and not working with their customers to deliver an incredible experience, they add up very quickly. Your customer costs are well out of sync with the budgets you have available for supporting, acquiring, and retaining them. Somehow that $200 for each of these customers pales in comparison to these actual costs you most likely will need to incur to fix the situation.

Two key issues and solutions jump to light in this situation…
First, it’s important to market and sell the right “Personas” for your desired experience. The famous phrase, “You can’t be all things to all customers” is more relevant today than ever before. If you are selling to your desired Personas and customers in different Personas come along, you are better off to let them go to your competitors because of the “ripple effect” described above. So the key issue is not identifying and understanding your desired personas. The Solution is to strategically identify and fully understand the Personas you want to have as customers so there is no misunderstanding about who you want as customers today and into the future that will help you grow your business.

Second, regardless of the type of customer, fix their issue and give them the best experience possible… until you can figure out if they are the right Persona. Given how expensive customer acquisition is these days, you are better off finding ways to make them happy in the interim while you figure out if they are your ideal Persona or not. If you are going to “fire” them as a customer, you can do it strategically down the road and minimize the negative impact.

The key issue is to not force them to leave until you have figured out they are not the right Persona for your organization and you have a plan about how you are going to fire them. The Solution is to invest the time up front to identify your desired Personas and know how you can best help them get what they want so they help you get what you want. If they don’t fit into your strategy, the second part of the solution is to determine the best way to fire them. Determine the best way to let them go where there aren’t going to be serious repercussions down the road, if possible. If they are truly the wrong Persona for your business, then there is less danger of them talking to your ideal Personas since they probably don’t interact with each other.

Both of these solutions will help you keep your Customers and Budgets in alignment and in sync… not to mention the likelihood minimizing the loss of revenue. This will give some more time and opportunity to develop a strategy to find the best way to move forward and identify your ideal customers. Now you can develop a solid plan for how you are going to create an incredibly awesome experience for your desired Personas… while not losing significant revenues or reputation.