Foodie Friday and I hope you had a chance over the past week to go out to eat.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Maybe it was to a holiday barbecue to begin the Summer or maybe you just needed a night off from the kitchen. I’ve spent the week dining out a lot and it gave me a chance to reflect on something I see as a truism in life and in business.
Have you ever dined out with someone who is abominable to the server? They treat someone who is doing their job with indifference at best and outright rudeness at worst. Most servers, as you might know, are working for minimum wage plus tips. It’s obviously in their best interest to keep their tables happy and I find it rare that a server warrants anything but polite, respectful treatment. If you don’t like the food, the server didn’t cook it (or order it). If they hover and you find it distracting, they’re probably just doing as their manager is instructing them. Yet some people treat the wait staff as indentured servants, ordering them around without a “thank you” or “please.” It embarrasses me, but it does something else. It tells me a lot about the person with whom I’m dining.
You know that I subscribe to the “customer is almost always right” theory. That “rightness” ends when they stop behaving like a reasonable adult. I find that the people who need to demean other people generally have issues themselves – insecurity, low self-esteem among them. So why is this on a business blog?
Bad managers can be like bad customers. They treat their staff as “that guy” does a server. Instead, just as you won’t get fed without a server doing their job, managers forget that it’s the work of their subordinates that makes their job necessary. Just as servers can make a meal memorable or a disaster, staff can make the boss look great or incompetent. I’ve always felt that we get what we give in both instances. Which will it be for you?
I was working at a television network when the Internet became a “thing.”
(Photo credit: Daniel Y. Go)
In those early years streaming video wasn’t really a consideration since the technology hadn’t been invented and there was no such thing as broadband in the home. Nevertheless, the seeds of where we are today had been planted and there was a huge threat perceived by my compatriots at the network from the emerging technology.
Fast forward 15 years. Today video streaming is a common part of the media experience and that technology has broadened the potential reach of content services (which is how one needs to think of “broadcasters”) well beyond the living room. Forward-thinking companies embraced this new access to eyeballs while some continue to resist, entrenched in their old business models which are pretty much on their last legs. The way forward is seen in a study released the other day by the Viacom folks. They studied the impact of TV Everywhere which defined as watching full-length TV programs on sites and apps by “authenticating,” or using pay TV log-in information.
The majority of users agree: TV Everywhere is additive to the TV viewing experience. Since they began using TV Everywhere apps and sites, 64% report watching more TV overall. This finding is even stronger among Millennials, with 72% watching more TV. TV Everywhere also increases the value of pay TV subscriptions while strengthening loyalty to pay TV providers and relationships with networks.
A full 98% of users say TVE adds value to their pay TV subscription, with 67% saying it adds “a lot” of value.
The vast majority (93%) is more likely to stay with their provider due to TV Everywhere and 68% have a more favorable impression of networks that offer TVE experiences.
This points out how when we give consumers what they want instead of forcing them to choose an inferior option that may coincide with our business needs but not their appetites, companies do better. Yes, I’m writing that in a way that extends it beyond just TV Everywhere but that’s the point I take away from the data. Do you agree?
In the late 1970’s the folks at the Bell System, which was part (a BIG part) of AT&T, ran commercials with the theme “Reach Out And Touch Someone.” It urged consumers to be proactive – to pick up the telephone and “just say hi.” After last week I sort of wish they had followed their own advice and let me explain why.
(Photo credit: JeepersMedia)
My family and I have been on AT&T Wireless for decades. So long that two of our four accounts have unlimited data plans grandfathered in (try to buy one of those any more – you can’t!). We found, however, that sometimes one or two of us would go over the monthly data cap and have to pay additional charges while the two on the unlimited accounts rarely used much data at all (we’re often connected to WiFi). Our monthly bill was close to $300 and we’ve been thinking about finding a cheaper, better plan for us all.
The good news is that our bill is now $100 a month less and we’re still with AT&T. They have a shared data plan that will work for us all and even though two of us lost our unlimited data it won’t be an issue given our usage history. The bad news is that AT&T came very close to losing us as customers. Why?
Because we had to figure this out for ourselves. Do I think it’s reasonable for a huge company to look at its customers and figure out that someone could be paying them $1,200 a year less? Actually, I do. That’s what the digital and data revolution of the last decade has been about to a large extent. Using what you know about your customers to anticipate their needs and provide better service. I will say that once we went to the AT&T store to confirm what we were able to discern on our own about adjusting our plan they could not have been more helpful and we left quite happy.
No one can take customers for granted. While AT&T knows an awful lot more about how my family uses data and wireless services than most businesses know about their customers, it’s incumbent on all of us to take whatever it is we do know and try to put it to use in a proactive manner. That’s what I urge my clients to do. And now I’m urging you as well. You in?