Invest In Client Loyalty

Did you know that businesses spend 90% of their marketing budgets attracting new customers rather than engaging and customizing the experience of their current customers in an effort to keep them?  In this economy of shrinking resources the key to being successful is utilizing your limited resources to your best advantage.

Progressive companies are implementing the following strategies:

  1. Asking their current customers how they can better serve them and implementing the change
  2. Making their customer’s  interaction an unforgettable experience for them
  3. Develop staff focused on delivering a customized customer experience
  4. Invest in coaching of organization leaders and staff.

Why are these good strategies to implement?  Replacing a lost customer will cost your business ten times more than the expense of attracting a new customer.   On the other hand the value of a repeat customer is twenty times their annual revenue over the life of that customer.  This means that your limited resources are best spent in developing a focused customer service culture that highly values your current customers.  Providing your current customers with a customized experience that leads them to tell others about your business is the ultimate goal.

In this time of aster spending you may find that the best business investment that can be made is in the training and development of your leadership and staff.  An analysis of the processes and encounters customers experience by a process improvement expert can provide a clear and open prospective to areas for improvement and customization.  Businesses which focus on customizing their customer‘s experiences, will differentiate themselves from the competition.  When you stand out from the crowd you get noticed.  Consider these strategies when looking to improve client loyalty and the customer service culture in your business.  If you are looking for help to accelerate the implementations of these strategies please complete the contact form and we will schedule a meeting. Here is to your continued success.

Poor Communication Can Impact Work Culture and Performance

Regardless of the industry or the type of job, finding someone who feels their boss does not communicate well with them is more common then you may think. Ask ten friends and I am confident that you will run across someone who feels that their boss is not responsive to their needs. Some feel like their boss does not listen to them, or does not value what they have to say. This can affect the bottom line of the department, business or organization. How? Well the employee who feels this way may feel disconnected and not put forth their best effort at work. They may feel that what they do at work does not matter or make a difference. This ultimately results in the employee not being as productive or motivated as one whose supervisor is interested.

If you are the boss and your staff feels this way, you are having an adverse impact on the revenue of the company. This can be a major problem especially if your business is in a highly competitive market. How do you make a course correction in your behavior? Slow down. A number of times there is a breakdown in communication between people because one is processing information faster than the other. Talking to the other person in passing may be perceived as rude or uncaring. I recommend that you stop and take the time to engage the other person. Do not interrupt them, let them complete their thought. Practice active listening by summarizing the conversation which will allow for better communication.

If you are the employee and you feel like your boss is not doing a good job of communicating with you, you have a few options. Set up an appointment to meet with your boss to discuss improving mutual communication. Remember communication is a two way street and works best when both people are willing to meet each other half way. If your boss is too busy to meet with you, write down the idea or issue and send it to them in an email with suggested times you are free. You never know when a meeting is cancelled and your boss, knowing your availability may ask you to come in at a moment’s notice. This way you are prepared because you previously sent the email.

Being aware of the other person’s needs, expressing the desire to improve communication and taking positive steps to improve communication are the signs of a good leader. Regardless of your position, boss or employee improving communication will be to your advantage and will have a positive impact in the workplace culture of your company.

Can We Trust What You Say?

When you tell someone that you are going to do something do you do it? Can you be trusted?

This might seem like a strange question to ask but it gets right to the heart of developing a good working relationship. When you work with someone else in your office, on a team or with a customer you want to establish a trusting relationship. One of the best ways to do this is by keeping your word.

When I was a little boy my Great Grand Mother, Lily Lace taught me the importance of doing what I said I would do. She said, “People will see that you do what you say and they will trust you.” These words of wisdom I have proven to be true throughout my life and I thought that it was important enough to share with you.

Too many times you will run across people that say, “I’ll call you later.” And never do. Or “I’d be happy to help you with that tomorrow” and they cannot be found when you need them. Some might argue with me that this is an issue of being dependable. I believe that they are only half right. Being honest and dependable is part of it but, it all begins with one word, trust.

Can we trust what you say?

If the answer is yes, you are on your way to establishing a trusted work relationships. If the answer is sometime, then we need to work on that. Why? Because people do business with people that they know, like and trust. If people do not trust you they will not do business with you. This means that if you only do what you say you will do sometimes that people will not trust you in the long run. Is this worth losing business? If your answer is no, then I would suggest that you consider coaching to help you in this process.

Why get coaching?

Just like with any behavior change, if you are serious about making a permanent change in a short period of time that you can sustain over the long haul then you need to have a coach. This person will keep you on track and provide the support and encouragement to be successful.

At Inspired Communications LLC we provide coaching and support for this and a number of leadership and management challenges. If you are looking for coaching in this or another area please complete our contact form with the best time to reach you and we will start the conversation.

Communicating To Your Team

Effective communication among work team members is vital to the team’s success.  This is a well known fact, but what is not well known is how to be successful in communicating.  Too many times we get caught up in the task at hand or the aspect that we plan to play that we may miss opportunities to collaborate with the entire team.  Before we move forward lets address a few issues.

Who is in Charge?

The Team Leader holds the key and sets the tone of how team members will conduct themselves and communicate with each other. If you are the team leader it is recommended that you establish the ground rules in the beginning.  Setting expectations up front will minimize pit falls as the projects proceeds.

What Are The Rules?

Communication rules need to be set at the first meeting.  If you are a leader who values innovation and creativity then I would recommend that you tell team members what you are looking for from them.  It is recommended that you tell all team members that they need to respect each other’s opinions.  Too often there may be a team member with great suggestions but they might feel unsure that their ideas will be welcomed.  Telling team member what you expect and what are the limitations will help to frame the communication rules.

When Do You Obtain Feedback?

Touching base on a regular basis is suggested but what is regular.  Different people need more or less supervision depending upon their knowledge and behavior style.  As a team leader you are empowered to ensure you understand team members and what they need to be successful.  Regular conversations are the best way to accomplish this.  As you travel through the Storming, Forming, Norming stages of team development you can use communication to guide your steps to the Performing stage of team development.  Behavior styles are the key to knowing how best and how often to communicate with each team member.  Some people need a lot of information before they feel comfortable moving forward, others just want to know the ultimate goal.  Did I mention that your behavior style plays a role in how people respond as well?

We will discuss behavior centered communication in a future post. Communication is a key to developing an effective team.  Communicating in the way each individual prefers is the best way to ensure good communication.

Chicago Bulls Farm Team

Is it possible that the Chicago Bulls Basketball Team has a secret farm team in Mississippi?  That was the question I asked myself as I stepped out of the truck with my son-in-law’s dad in Mississippi.  We went to a friend’s house to pick okra.  His friend and choir member Mr. Ware had a group of bulls in the yard.

They seemed very friendly and were gathered together in a group grazing.  Directly behind them was a basketball court.  And like a flash it hit me.  The Chicago Bulls might have a secret farm team right here in Mississippi.  I took out my flip camera and started to shoot a video.  Holding the flip video camera in one hand I started to shoot the video and this is where the fun began.

I wanted to make sure that I captured the bulls in the background as well as the basketball court.  Not exactly sure what I would say I started talking and capturing the video. Almost on cue when I paused, the bulls started to make noise.  It was like they knew I was taking a video and speaking about them.   They started to walk toward the camera as if they were being introduced to go out on the basketball court.

Why share this story and video with you?  Well first of all it is really funny and I thought you would enjoy it.  But more importantly, I wanted to bring to your attention the a few presentation points:

  1. Be Prepared – I had my flip camera in my pocket and was ready to take a video of any topic that I found interesting and that others would enjoy.
  2. Be Observant – There are probably things in your life that are of interest to others or that you could use to illustrate a point.  Keep your mind open to the possibilities and you will be amazed what new things you will see.
  3. Extend, Aim, Shoot – Before starting the video I extended my arm folding the flip camera as far away as possible.  Then I leveled it with my face and then started the video.  This made it appear that someone else was shooting the video but it was all done alone.
  4. Slow Movements – The best way to transition from one subject (me) to another (the bulls) is to do it slowly.  This way the person viewing the video does not feel like they are being rushed and can change their focus from one subject to another in transition.
  5. Expect the Unexpected – There was no way to predict how the bulls would respond. When the bulls stared making noise I did not laugh (I wanted to but did not), I acknowledged the fact and added it in the narrative of my video.
  6. Smile and Enjoy – Remember that your personality will show through on video so do not forget to smile and be pleasant during your presentation.

I am interested in your remarks on this video and the presentation skills that I have added here for your review.   Remember to have fun and share your creativity with others.

Do Smart Phones Increase Your Intelligence

Smart phone are the latest and greatest thing and a must have for every business owner, progressive leader, or professional speaker as a tool to stay in connected with clients and customers.  But how smart do you have to be to use one.  I just purchased a Palm Pre Plus smart phone and was so excited because it offers a 3G hot spot as part of the phone design.  This means that I can connect 5 different devices with my new phone at the same time.

Before I selected a smart phone I went to the store to examine the various phones and ask questions.   The salesman informed me that I needed a data plan which starts at $30 and an additional $30 for Wifi access.  This was an additional $60 a month that I was not expecting to spend. When I asked about the Palm Pre Plus I was told that I would still incur the $30 data plan cost but the Wifi and hotspot were free with the phone.  I figured it would be smart to save the additional $30 and selected the Palm Pre plus.

My service provider offers a new every two plan and this new phone which lists for over $500.00 was free, what a bargain.  My contract was up and all I had to do was sign up for two years.  This is where the fun begins.  I purchased a touchstone charger for my phone.  It looks like a hockey puck that was sliced on an angle so the phone can lay on it.  Connecting it to an electrical outlet allows makes it a magnetic electrical charger. You feel the magnetic pull between the phone and the charger as they approach each other.  Well to make a long story short, I thought I was charging the phone while it was on the touchstone. Conventional phones charge when they are off.  This smart phone needs to be on to charge. Who knew?  Not me. (smile)

Needless to say I charged it overnight and it did not do a thing.  I thought I did not know how to turn the phone on and had to take it to the store (I received the phone by fedex in an effort to save money in my mind.  This was the smartest thing for me to do.  I found that this phone had its own backup system and the transfer of data needed to be done in the store.  Who knew? No me.

Well it is day 3 of me using my new phone and I can say that I have learned to master it. I must tell you that calling the special number for help with the palm phone was very helpful.  I have connected my laptop computer to my new free hotspot phone and it works like magic.  I am preparing to go to a conference and need to have computer access.   Now I have the ability to do so without additional expense.  To answer the question, do smart phones make you more intelligent?  I have to say yes.  I am better educated about the use of my new smart phone and have saved the additional fees by selecting a phone with its own hotspot inside.

Who Ate Chicken Little

While reading a fellow blog challenge member’s blog a memory came back to me that I would like to share.  The blogger Rob of “The Mid Life Opportunity” blog posted an article on “Leaving the Rat Race – The Mid Life Devil’s Advocate View” which spoke about raising livestock, chickens and pigs, for meals as a cost saving measure.
The entire concept brought me back to a story that my mother shared with me.  She told me she received a chick for Easter when she was a little girl.  This was a customary practice for a number of people to do at Easter for their children.   My mother named the chick, Chicken Little. Usually the chick would run around the house for a little while and then die.  But Chicken Little did not die but grew up to become a chicken. When it was large enough to eat her grandmother killed it and had it for dinner.

My mother’s aunt who lived with my mother and her grandmother could not bring herself to eat Chicken Little.  The fact that was Chicken Little was considered a pet by my mother’s aunt and an animal rose to serve as a meal by the rest of the family. It is a mindset and it is your mindset that will determine what you will do.

So I ask you if this was the situation today in your family and you were raising an animal who some people in your family considered as a pet, would you kill and eat it.  Just to finish the story my mother and everyone else in the family, except her aunt, ate Chicken Little.  Her grandmother said that “Chicken Little was smooth like butter”, when she was eating it.  Not everyone could eat Chicken Little but when you are hungry there is not much choice.  So I ask you again would you eat Chicken Little?  Please share your comments below.

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up

When we were little kids we had all kind of ideas of what we wanted to be but very few of us ended up being that person.  Some wanted to be a fireman, doctor, nurse, teacher why, because those were the people we came in contact with.   The truth is we should have looked at what we enjoyed doing to as children and pursued that.

Is it too late to do now?  Of course not but you need to be focused in the process.  It will take a little reflection and memory searching to find out what you enjoyed.  An easy way to speed up the process is to ask people who are old enough to remember what you enjoyed.  That person might have been an uncle, parent, or grandparent, make sure it is someone who spent a lot of time with you growing up.

Tap into that knowledge and use it to your best advantage.  After you discover what you enjoyed apply it to your current life and think of how that would apply.  One of the things that helped me in this process was the book Strength Finders 2.0.  Reading this book and taking the test in the back will reveal your top 5 strengths.  You want to make sure that you purchase the book new, because the test in the back of the book is only good to use once. With this information you can take an objective look at your life and discover how you can apply your strengths.

Working from a position of strength makes you more productive and confidant.  You feel empowered when you are using your strengths.  Do not spend time on your weaknesses.  You may have to develop a process to manage them but do not spend time trying to improve them.  You will get more leverage by spending time focused of developing your strengths.

I would be happy to help you in your strength finding journey.  I recommend that you purchase the book and give me a call after you have taken the test.  Send me an e mail or a message on my contact form to tell me what your top 5 strengths are.  I would be happy to work with you.

Your Business Card

Do you have a business card?  If you do not you need to get one.  You do not want to attend a networking group or interview without one.    Your business card says something about who you are.  It should have your name, title, email and phone number at the least on it.  Some people like to place a saying about their business or what they are known for on the back of the card.

I thought this was a good idea and use to have a saying on the back of my business card until it was suggested that I leave the back of the card blank.  This was done to allow the person who I left the card with a place for them to write a note on the back of my card.  People write where they met you,  their impression, or as a reminder to send your some type of communication.  I left the back of my business card blank from that time forward.

I recommend using a high quality stock paper for your business card and recommend getting the card laminated too.  Your business card will feel rich in hands of the person you give it to and leave a good first impression. Be sure to obtain the business card of the person you are speaking too.  It is an opportunity for you to reach them again in the future.

A Resume Folder

Do you have a folder for your resume?  If not I recommend that you get one.  It is an opportunity to stand out of the crowd.  Remember you are trying to become not only memorable but unforgettable. By placing your resume in a resume folder you are saying that you take care and forethought in presenting yourself.

I suggest getting a resume folder that is color coordinated with your resume.  I like to use Ivory 20 to 24 pound bonded paper.  If you go to an office supply store you will be able to purchase a matching resume folder.  Why do I suggest Ivory over White colored paper?  Ivory color is easier on the eyes of the reader.  It is your goal to make your correspondence, cover letter and resume as easy to read as possible.

If you are on an interview you want to ensure that you have a least five copies of your resume with you.  Why? You do not know how many people you will be interviewing with.  You would like to give each person a copy of your resume.  Asking that the interviewers make copies of your resume says to the interviewer that you came unprepared.  Do you want that to be the impression you leave with the interviewer?  I do not think so.

Being prepared means that you also have copies of your references.  Why?  Your interview might go so well they may make you the offer and ask you for them.  You may be asked to complete an application for employment and they want to do a background check.  Either way you are prepared and do not have to think about who you would use and what their correct contact information.

Being prepared for the interview will only work to your benefit in the long run.  Feel free to add your comments below.  I enjoy hearing from you and answering any questions you may have.