Loyalty Is Your Goal

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Good morning,
Price may get them in (and may even cause some to shop around), but it is the service and experience a customer receives that makes him loyal to you or your brand. We lead such hectic lives it is wonderful to find a brand you can count on to get it right and put YOU first.
How comforting is it to walk into your favorite restaurant where you are known, the food is consistent, and, the service right on? The service provider who is always on time, knowledgeable, and friendly?

Customers have choices – work toward loyalty.

As always, I welcome your comments.

Cheers,

Toby

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Team Is Your Goal, Not A Buzzword

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This is a note I wrote years ago prepping for an upcoming hockey season; something I sent to parents to set the right expectations.  With all the talk I hear about teamwork, environment, and synergy, I find it so relevant to share today.

While getting together rosters, putting together drills, and thinking about tournaments I started thinking about the big picture. 
The scoreboard shows “Home” and “Guest” not the names of who scored the goal and who made the assist. The scoreboard reflects the performance of the team, not the achievements of its individual members.
The score sheet does not tell the entire story either. It shows who scored, who assisted, and the saves made by the goalie – so much is missing.
When watching your next game look for these things: the backcheck, clearing the puck out of the defensive zone, the hug or high-five of encouragement, the hustle of the weaker player who never gives up.
Herb Brooks said it best: “When you pull on that jersey, you remember one thing, the name on the front it a hell of a lot more important than the one on the bac
k.”

A great project, quarter, or year does not happen because of one person.  There may be someone with a vision or carries most of the load, but true success happens when a team is built, aligns, and works together to reach that common goal.  As a manager, it is your mission to create, inspire, and recognize the part all the members play.
I look forward to your comments.
Cheers,
Toby

Punish Employees for Good Service?

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Over the weekend, I visited a large liquor store chain to perform one of my least favorite jobs: can return. This particular store does not want to be seen as a redemption center: rather than self-service machines you load, the customer tells the attendant how many returns he has, the attendant deals with them, and provides a slip to redeem for cash.  After communicating my total, the attendant politely informed me of their return policy, that I was over their return limit, and kindly provided me with a slip for the total amount; lesson learned, no big deal.

I visited the customer service counter to redeem the slip for cash and the manager gruffly asked how was I able to get a slip for this amount: it was $4 over the max.  I said the attendant had explained the policy for my future reference and I was thankful for his great service.  The manager did not look happy and begrudgingly opened the cash drawer and provided payment.

As I walked out of the store, this announcement came over the intercom: “I need to know who authorized the large bottle return payment.” Wow! I understand the importance of rules and polices, but punishing this employee is the wrong thing to do.  He understands the policy, explained it to me without lecture, and most importantly, he provided fine customer service.   A conversation is better than wrist slap: it makes an employee feel valued; a valued employee takes pride in his job and delivers great experiences to customers.

Do you agree?  I look forward to your comments.

Cheers,

Toby

 

Photo credit phillyemploymentlawyer.com

A Community Benefits Your Customers & Your Brand

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Online communities are essential no matter your business.  In addition to offering a great customer service solution, I will discuss three additional reasons why you need to create and nurture your own community.

Customer Service:

My graphic above shows why a community is the full-service solution to customer service.  Phone queues are hell for customers to get through and expensive for companies to staff properly.  Videos and knowledge base articles eliminate the queue, but if they do not cover the customer’s specific issue and you do not allow (or respond to) questions, your customer still has a problem.

A community is a perfect solution: fast engagement for customers, easy to staff for the company, answers become a searchable knowledge base, and customers may ask follow-up questions.

Connect With Your Customers:

Customers who care want your brand to succeed and love companies who listen and engage.  Active community participation also shows your brand’s personality and provides faces.  Along with discussion and questions, build focus groups and invite members to participate; receive product ideas and improvement suggestions from the people using your product or service.

Customers Become Advocates:

Potential customers learn about your brand by what is happening in your community.  What is the tone?  Is your brand engaged?  Are your current customers singing your praises?  People come with questions, problems, and stories: the results will set your brand apart from your competition.  Customers who care will sing your praises and even share your community with others; people love to talk about a club they belong to.

SEO:

We are all slaves to The Google Monster.  We spend money and time optimizing websites with keywords and blogs.  Websites become stagnant and although they may have the right keywords, blogs are often too company focused (why we are awesome) & go unread by customers.  What the Monster really loves is keyword-rich content that is always updating; your community members provides this each day, all day.  An addition, because discussions & solutions are customer focused, they are not only consumed, they are SHARED.

So, why have you not built a community?

Please share your comments and questions.

Best,

Toby

Twitter May Not Be For You

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I really enjoy and utilize the connections and conversations I have on #Twitter.  I believe it is a wonderful platform for customer service, marketing, SEO, and general learning.  But… (you knew it was coming), it’s not going to work for every brand or product.

What works for one audience does not guarantee success for another.

1.  Ensure you are looking at your metrics and results.

2.  Test other platforms.

3.  Experiment with content types.

What people must understand about Social:

1.  There are NO silver bullets (platform or content type).

2.  Relationships and conversations matter (and take time to build).

Let people know who you are.  Ask questions.  Give answers.  Entertain and add value.  Always measure your efforts.

Cheers,

Toby

Graphic credit to Clapp Communications

Reactions Are Not (quite) Engagement

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Don’t get me wrong, I love getting a Like, emoji, or gif of approval to a post, blog, or Tweet, but reactions are not as valuable as comments or questions that may lead to further conversation.  I have written about the importance of engagement before; this blog will discuss how to engage.

The graph above shows some engagement data from a Facebook foodie group I manage and I find the difference between Comments and Reactions amazing.  Getting positive reactions to posts let’s people know their content is valuable, but questions and comments are what brings a community together.  Lets have a quick look at community types and how you can increase engagement.

Instagram: Interaction is Liking the picture or video.  Take the next step and leave a comment or question – if you are the poster, @mention the person in the comments with a thank you.

Twitter: Like Instagram, you show approval to posts with a Like or heart.  Don’t stop there: reply to the tweet with a comment, emoji, or gif.  If you really like the content, retweet it with a comment why.  When you get a question or comment, respond; if you get a retweet, send thanks.

Facebook / Community: Communities allow for very deep conversations as it their formats make it easy to have 1 to Many conversations.  Jump into that conversation and leave your $.02: engage the original poster as well as others who contribute.

Leaving a positive reaction is great; I am asking you take the next step and actually engage with a comment or question.  As a social mentor of mine, @JoelRRenner ‏, says: #JustBeSocial

I look forward to your comments and questions.

Cheers,

Toby

 

Craft Beer is the new Golf

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I spent a fantastic afternoon at the Treehouse Brewery this weekend.  If you enjoy outstanding beer and conversation, I suggest a trip to their beautiful facility.  This is not an ad for Treehouse Brewing or their exceptional beer; I am suggesting that meeting for a craft beer is a wonderful opportunity for conversation and networking.  First, let’s look at the tail of the tape:

  • Round of golf: $70 per person (not including)
    • Clubs
    • (lost) Balls
    • Beverages during play
    • Post-round lunch or dinner
  • Beer at Treehouse: $7 with a 2 beer max
  • 18 Holes of golf takes about 4 hours
  • It takes significantly less time to enjoy 2 beers; conversation controls the time
  • Some clients or team members may not like to play golf or feel uncomfortable with their ability so they may be timid to agree to a round.
  • Craft Beers, especially Treehouse IPAs, are extremely tasty and popular
    • Even if you do not drink, The Treehouse Brewery is a beautiful setting with comfortable seating and live music; oh, there are food trucks too.  You may have the conversation without alcohol.

Deal-making and team building is all about relationships, and relationships are built on trust.  The warm weather has finally arrived, even if Treehouse is too far a journey, gather your team or invite a client to enjoy tasty beverages and the conversation that follows.

Cheers!

Toby