Tag Archives: managing

As Clear As Broken Glass

I bought a new (used) car a couple of weeks ago. The old one, which I loved, had some weird electrical things going on and I figured it was smarter to get rid of it before it decided to bail on me. Frankly, I didn’t like the service department at the nearest official dealer either. The last time I went there (and I only went there for warranty repairs), they kept me for 4 hours for something that they said would take an hour.

The latest car is great except the screen for the entertainment/navigation/etc. system had little spider cracks in it. It turns out it’s common to this make and is due to dramatic temperature changes over time. It is under warranty and I could have it fixed for free. Well, guess who was going to do that repair?

You can’t make this up, but it was the same service department that serviced the other make of car. Oh sure, it was in the building next door but it is common ownership and, as I found out, common customer service philosophy. The dealer from whom I bought the new car called and set up an appointment for me to go have the screen replaced. The part was ordered. I got there on time. When they called me back in after an hour, the screen hadn’t been replaced and they gave me an estimate to do $2,000 of other work. Do you think I was happy?

I won’t belabor the story, except to say that it turns out the dealers have to submit photos that they take via their internal system to have the warranty repair approved prior to making the repair. I found that out from a second “official” dealer I went to. They had me there for 30 minutes and said they’d call when the part came in. It came in and yesterday the repair was done in exactly the amount of time they said it would take. New screen, no charge, great service. Yay!

Of course, the first dealer wasn’t happy about the review I posted nor about the response I gave to the questionnaire about my service from headquarters. They never explained the need for an initial visit nor did they explain why the part they had ordered was given to another customer according to what my dealer found out.

It’s a great reminder that customers can handle pretty much anything except being lied to or being kept in the dark. They posted an answer to my review but my comments are out there. They’re accurate but probably could have been prevented had the manager simply explained the warranty process to me and not tried to sell me on a bunch of stuff I didn’t really need at that point. I went to him with a problem. Instead of a solution, he tried to tell me I had many other problems (or my car did) without solving the one I needed him to solve. 

Be open. Be honest. Solve your customers’ problems. You’ll be in business for a long time.

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Filed under Consulting, Huh?

New Habits

This Foodie Friday, I’d like you to imagine that you went to bed after a lot of reveling this last New Year’s Eve and have just woken up. In any other year, you might be mildly surprised as to what’s gone on for the first 5 months of the year. 2020? You wouldn’t recognize it.

The pandemic has changed many things and people’s relationship with food is one of them. More than 80% of consumers say the coronavirus pandemic has changed their food habits, driving them to cook, eat, shop, and think about food differently, according to the annual Food & Health Survey from the International Food Information Council. Obviously, with most restaurants closed, many more people are cooking at home. About 60% of people, in fact. But 85% of people say they’re doing something differently, ranging from snacking more to washing produce more often.

They’re also changing what they’re eating. Generally, people are trying to eat more healthy although both KFC and Pizza Hut saw sales soar into the double-digits last month as consumers stayed home and ate more chicken and delivered pizza. Still, cooking more at home tends to be a little bit more healthy than the choices that we might make when eating out. That’s probably why the stuff we cook at home doesn’t taste as good as restaurant food! That said, three out of five people said they consider how healthy items are. And compared to 10 years ago, more than half said the healthiness of food makes more of a difference to them now.

Why am I bringing all of this up? I guess it’s just another reminder that the world we all knew has changed significantly but therein lies opportunity. The reason that we older folks tend not to be targeted by much marketing is that there’s an assumption that our buying habits are locked in stone. A lot more money is spent going after younger consumers whose shopping habits may be more malleable. I’d suggest to you that at this point everyone is rethinking not just how they buy food and eat but also how they spend their money on other things. People who used to travel a lot may find they’re not doing that now. Do those dollars go to home improvement or a shiny new entertainment center?

Habits are changing. You need to be changing with them if you want your business to continue to thrive. 

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Filed under Thinking Aloud, What's Going On

The Out Of Office Message

I can’t even imagine what it must be like to be leading a team during this chaotic interlude. I mean, I had a small taste of it years ago when my team was forced to work remotely during 9/11 and an NYC blackout. Even though the remote working tools were not nearly as good as they are now, it was hard.

Those were brief periods of disruption. This one has gone on for a quarter and might continue for quite some time. So here are a few thoughts based on some things I learned during those brief disruptive times.

First, those periods reinforced the notion that I work for the team and not the other way around. My job is to make their jobs happen. Even folks who are good at what they do and can handle things when you’re all physically connected in the office often need some special attention when they’re out on the home-office island. You can’t look at their needs as interruptions to your day – they actually are your day.

Next, remember that you need to delegate even more but you also need to be extra careful in choosing what to delegate to whom. Because the level of supervision will be reduced, you need to be choosier about who you give what. Don’t take that to mean that you have to take on more yourself because you don’t. Just choose wisely. This isn’t the time to let a junior person get their feet wet because they won’t have a support team around them.

That last thought goes for you as well. with your support team less available, you’re going to admit to yourself what you don’t know and find some resources that can help you.

Finally, change the routine to incorporate more touchpoints between the team. I had a boss once who loved reminding us that meetings were for people who had nothing else to do. I agree with that to a point, but when the team is scattered, a daily meeting, even if ut’s 10 minutes just for everyone to see how everyone else is doing, isn’t a bad idea.

Those are my thoughts, along with this one: it’s going to be exciting to see what changes come out of this experience. This is an important, formative moment. What do you think?

 

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Filed under Consulting, Thinking Aloud