Four Habits of Referability

[this is  a fall re-post series re-post]

Getting a reference from clients and customers builds your business. You need to find a way to get them to know you, like you, trust you, try your product or service, buy from you again, and then you can ask for a reference. And if you don’t ask you won’t get. But first, you’ll need to:

  1. Show up on time
  2. Do what you said you would
  3. Finish what you start
  4. Say please and thank-you
  5. Give a little more than they expect*

*Thanks John Spence for summarizing Dan Sullivan


Have You Deliberately Thought About Your User? Really?

Human centred design, experience design, use case design (from software engineering) all take into account the experience of the customer / client / user from their point of view. A counter example of this are the voice-mail-hell used by some companies to seemingly deliberately provoke and anger the people who pay them. Don’t do that.

How Better Design Can Get People to Try Your Brand (Infographic)

Human Centered Design Toolkit

The Future of Loyalty Programs Is Changing

It’s always been about the balance between making it easy for ourselves (the business) and easy for our customers. Keeping track of “points” is easy for us. Guess who gets the edge if that’s all we do? The other businesses who are doing more…

The Future of Customer Loyalty Is Not ‘Buy Nine, Get One Free’

What Are Your “Kept Promise Indicators”?

“Dental Brand Promises — make three promises and then measure if you’re keeping them (Kept Promise Indicators – KPI!) – then grab a Net Promoter Score (NPS) while you’re at it. This dental practice has nailed it with this simple survey – see picture below:

“Notice how specific and measurable each promise is – can you say the same for your three brand promises? And we learned from Steve Martin, co-author of The small Big, that three is the ideal number of “reasons to buy” – more influencing than 2 or 4 or 10 reasons! Thanks to Rockefeller Habits 2.0 fan Tony Gedge, owner of Marketing Pirates of Dentistry, for sharing this example.”

And thanks to Vern Harnish “The Growth Guy” for sharing this example on his blog

How to Make the iPhone Better

I’m off camping for Father’s Day this weekend, but to keep you entertained you can listen to Karl & I wax loquacious on our favourite smart phone in our intermittently published podcast “The Practical Lexicon”. Sometimes it’s only your best friend who will tell you that you have a piece of broccoli stuck in your teeth. 

Whining about the iPhone with Karl & Bernie

Is Your Company Listening?

The problem is never the problem. The response to the problem is almost always the real problem. (Perception is all there is.) ~ Tom Peters

Some business owners react badly to social media. One of my clients was railing against on-line criticism, now that he was on Facebook. He took it seriously, superior service being a big part of his strategy, and something he personally believed in. It’s how he was and how he built his business.

He couldn’t make somebody take it back, he couldn’t fix it. For the action-oriented entrepreneur guy that he was frustrated.

Then he went for lunch with another very smart woman, who told him: “Garry, people have always been saying that kind of thing about your business. The only difference now is that you’re hearing it.”

When he related this too me he was calm. The realization was, he told me, that the internet wasn’t just about getting his message out. It was also about hearing what his customers had to say and using that to make his business better. Even when what his customers had to say was something he didn’t really want to hear.

Especially when what his customers had to say was something he didn’t want to hear.

My recommendation? If you want to have an effective on-line presence, it’s less about pushing your message and more about listening to your customers. As Covey said: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Here is an example of good “seeking” that I wrote about earlier this year, when I wrote about my encounter with an on-line bookstore. They listened hard and used it as an opportunity to turn my customer experience around.

What is your company doing to listen to your customers? What you’ve heard and what you feel doesn’t count. What does the research and the facts tell you? What are your customer actually saying?

How to Infuriate Your Customers

Rogers stock tanked today. While I don’t usually write rants about how utility companies are bad at customer services, I wasn’t really surprised at this news. I figure they’re a lost cause anyway, and no matter how horrid my experience was somebody out there could do me one better. Which is depressing.

I’m going to vent anyway. If you want to set up a company whose apparent purpose for existing is to aggravate people, I don’t think you can do much worse than a phone company. In this case, Rogers in Canada. This was my experience two days ago. Here are the highlights:

Desired outcome: change in account billing.

Total length of call: 44 minutes 19 seconds, including being on hold before (25 minutes) and during my interaction with the so-called customer service representative

Number of levels down in the phone tree: 6. Yes I counted. I had to listen to six different “If you’re a carbon-based life form press 1. If you breathe oxygen press 2, . . . ” menus.

Classic stove-piping: “I’m sorry, I can’t help you reset your on-line account pass-word. That’s customer service. We’re sales”.

No, you’re Rogers the phone company, and your customers don’t care about your internal organizational structure.

Most bewildering request: my address. Why in the name of all that is holy and unholy would a technology & communications company, whose every interaction with customers is scripted by computer, be able to pull up my account information and NOT have my billing address?

Stupidest question: “Calgary is in Alberta, right?” Yes, and the area code should have been a hint too. I know it’s a big world, but if you’re going to work for a Canadian telephone company you might want to learn some Canadian geography. There’s only 10 provinces, it’s not that hard. Or is that why you’re working in a call centre? . . . Oops, sorry. My bad.

Most patronizing request: two pieces of government identification for a credit cheque. My change included opening a new account. I already have two accounts. My accounts are up-to-date. Why do you need to run a credit cheque please? “Because you’re opening a new account” explained three times is not an answer.

Most memorable quote: “That woman made me work!”, as shouted by another customer service rep in the background. Kudos for putting me on hold quickly after that outburst by your fellow representative.

Worse experience: A friend who shall remain un-named who, after 7 (seven) hours on the phone with customer service trying to resolve a broken phone issue, ended up crying. How is making your customer cry good business?

What makes me sad: Nobody else is better. Anybody sense a business opportunity?

Rogers,  please call me. You need help.

Why Marketing is Useless, and How You Can Fix It

Another interesting article from HBR on how marketing is broken, and how to fix it in your company.

The (over)-simplification: start listening