Tag Archives: Company

Most Read Posts Of The Year – 1

While I’m too lazy (or burnt) to write a few new screeds this week, as has become our tradition we’ll look back at the posts you guys read and shared the most over the past 12 months.  This first one was also one of my favorites because it’s a good example of what I’m trying to do here most days.  That is, of course, to take the things that go on around us all the time and find actionable business lessons among all the other stuff.  This was from last April 10.  Enjoy!

Suppose you have a small but very popular business. You began as a handful of people, most of whom are still with you after you kicked out a couple of uneven performers. While you’ve added some staff as the business grew, every employee is a key employee since there really aren’t any overlapping roles.

Thirty five years go by, the business grows, and while there are good years and bad, the product mix is generally well-received by customers and reviewers. In an industry where products come and go very quickly, this one endures, even though it went through a period where everyone wondering if it had lost its way.  The product focus changes with each release cycle to match the times – no one has ever called your business stagnant even though its product sector has gone through some very rough times. In fact, there is an entire secondary business of add-ons and information providers that has grown up around your business. Not a bad place to be.

One day, you learn that a key employee is sick and several months later he dies. You adjust by hiring someone who can do what he did albeit without the strong emotional bond to the team as the late employee.  A few years later, another key member – your right hand – passes away suddenly.  The team is devastated and there are real questions about  the ability of the business to continue.  The emotional toll on you is palpable and the business community wonders if you’ll retire and shut it down.

Instead, you decide to replace the man who everyone thought was irreplaceable. You let customers know that it will be different, and while you will make best efforts to minimize the differences, you are up front about it being different and don’t try to pretend as if nothing had changed.  You bring on more employees to reinforce some of the differences, creating a transformed product in the process.  You release new product – one developed primarily with an outside team for a fresh perspective.  It’s very well received, and breathes life into the older products, and customers continue to buy it in droves.  The business remains true to its core values and it’s obvious that the old and new employees are on the same page thanks to excellent leadership.

It’s really a textbook case on managing business transformation in difficult times.  I was privileged to witness it myself last night.  Ladies and gentlemen, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

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4 Ways To Anger Customers

A little research today although frankly it falls into the range of that common sense thing we talk about from time to time. The good folks at American Express have published some findings on how social media raises the stakes for customer service. You can read the full release herebut I wanted to focus on one aspect of their work in particular.

YOKOSUKA, Japan (Dec. 1, 2009) Logistics Speci...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not surprisingly, Americans are growing more frustrated with customer service and businesses are hearing about it as consumers tell an increasing number of people about both their positive and poor service experiences.  How many of the folks you follow have reported on an interaction with a company?  What I found of particular note were the things Amex cited as the big four service gripes:

  • Rudeness:  An insensitive or unresponsive customer service representative – 33%
  • Passing the Buck: Being shuffled around with no resolution of the issue – 26%
  • The Waiting Game: Waiting too long to have an issue resolved – 10%
  • Being Boomeranged: Forced to continually follow-up on an issue – 10%

They’re all sort of cousins in the “we just don’t care about you as much as we do our own bottom line” family.  The key is to align the interests of the folks providing customer service of any sort with the customers themselves.  Pay them based on positive feedback, not on incremental sales.  Nearly half the respondents said that they will use social media to praise a company for a great experience (which sort of flies in the face of the widely held assumption that only complainers go public).  Nearly an equal number will vent publicly about a negative experience.  With other research telling us how most folks now do their pre-purchase research about brands and companies using social tools, none of us can afford to have anything out there that convinces consumers to do business elsewhere.

The study shows that folks who have used social media for customer service in the last year are willing to spend substantially more with companies they believe provide great service. They are also far more vocal about service experiences, both good and bad. Why aren’t we doing everything we can to be sure about the outcome?  Given the above “Big Four,” there’s still a way to go.

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Filed under digital media, Helpful Hints

A Little Business Story About Managing In Difficult Times

Suppose you have a small but very popular business. You began as a handful of people, most of whom are still with you after you kicked out a couple of uneven performers. While you’ve added some staff as the business grew, every employee is a key employee since there really aren’t any overlapping roles.

Thirty five years go by, the business grows, and while there are good years and bad, the product mix is generally well-received by customers and reviewers. In an industry where products come and go very quickly, this one endures, even though it went through a period where everyone wondering if it had lost its way.  The product focus changes with each release cycle to match the times – no one has ever called your business stagnant even though its product sector has gone through some very rough times. In fact, there is an entire secondary business of add-ons and information providers that has grown up around your business. Not a bad place to be.

One day, you learn that a key employee is sick and several months later he dies. You adjust by hiring someone who can do what he did albeit without the strong emotional bond to the team as the late employee.  A few years later, another key member – your right hand – passes away suddenly.  The team is devastated and there are real questions about  the ability of the business to continue.  The emotional toll on you is palpable and the business community wonders if you’ll retire and shut it down.

Instead, you decide to replace the man who everyone thought was irreplaceable. You let customers know that it will be different, and while you will make best efforts to minimize the differences, you are up front about it being different and don’t try to pretend as if nothing had changed.  You bring on more employees to reinforce some of the differences, creating a transformed product in the process.  You release new product – one developed primarily with an outside team for a fresh perspective.  It’s very well received, and breathes life into the older products, and customers continue to buy it in droves.  The business remains true to its core values and it’s obvious that the old and new employees are on the same page thanks to excellent leadership.

It’s really a textbook case on managing business transformation in difficult times.  I was privileged to witness it myself last night.  Ladies and gentlemen, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

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3 Reasons Companies Aren’t In Social (Yet…)

Let’s start the year with a quick report on a survey released over the holidays wich you might have missed (the study, not the holidays – hope you had great ones!).  It comes from InSites Consulting via eMarketer and the report begins with the understatement of the year (which at this point is pretty easy to be).  The topic is social media, something that as we enter 2012 is not a “what” but a “how” issue for most businesses.  But let’s start at the beginning. Continue reading

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You Can’t Stop The Conversation

If you were like me, you took some time off last week from many of your regular activities.  Of course, given the way things work these days, engaging with your friends via social media probably wasn’t one of them.  Which raises a question (the answer to which is forthcoming!): how do businesses maintain their social media presence during down time?  After all, as I tell my clients, social media is not a “set it and forget it operation.  It requires constant monitoring and support if you are going to participate with your customers (or fans) – they expect their friends to converse and so must you.

So how do companies do it? Continue reading

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Is Your Social Anti-Social?

A couple of studies found me this morning and I want to share something I noticed as I was reading them. One comes from Buddy Media via eMarketer; the other from ChiefMarketer.com. Both concern social media and how companies are investing and utilizing this channel. Both raise questions in my mind especially as I look at their findings in concert with one another.  Let’s see if you agree. Continue reading

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Filed under digital media

Doing Well While Doing Good

We hear an awful lot about privacy these days, mostly about how there isn’t any. When it comes to us as individuals, that’s not a particularly good thing but today’s rant isn’t about you and me. It’s about corporations and how they don’t enjoy quite as much privacy either, which in many consumers‘ minds is a very good – and actionable – thing. You see, if a business is misbehaving, it’s hard to keep a secret and people are demanding higher levels of responsibility from those firms with which they choose to do business. This isn’t me speculating: I have proof! Continue reading

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Filed under Helpful Hints, Reality checks