are you making it easy to do business?

Are you making it easy to do business with you?

It was a beautiful weekend, temperatures reaching 80 degrees. And that meant people flocked to the big box home improvement store to get items for their outdoor projects. The line stretched from the two checkout counters to nearly the back wall.

I just had a few items and wondered whether the lines were shorter inside. And they were. Actually, there weren’t any lines at all. I walked right up and was checked out instantly. I mentioned my surprise to the person checking me out and she said on nice days, the lines are always long in the garden center and short inside.

The situation made me wonder how companies help customers navigate their business. Are people available to help customers navigate their experience efficiently? How are roadblocks removed to make doing business easy? Do you look at where customers experience bottlenecks and reduce them? What can you do to make doing business with you easier for your customers?

how are you delighting customers?

How are you delighting your customers?

Over the weekend, I went to the local nursery. It is just up the street from where I live, but in a direction I don’t usually go, so I had never been there before. I pulled in and the owner came out and greeted me, helped me find what I needed and gave me tips for success in growing my new plants.

As we talked about the bare root plants and dirt, it became clear to me I’d end up with a huge mess in my car. As I live just a few minutes from the nursery, she volunteered to bring my purchase to my house at no charge. It was such a great experience, I’ll definitely be back.

Opportunities to delight customers come around regularly if you listen for them. And by adding the small touches you can guarantee they come to you next time first. How are you delighting your customers?

picture this!

Picture this!

Have you ever walked around and seen a lawn crew servicing a yard with poor results? Or painters painting a house, resulting in a less than ideal paint job. Or a crew fencing a yard with spectacular results. Or a landscaper transforming the entire look of a house.

If you put a picture of each of these results on the front of a brochure, which would you want to work with? If you put a picture of the results you generate on the front of a brochure, would they attract customers?

your emergency is not the same as my emergency

Your definition of an emergency is not the same as my definition of an emergency

The leak under my kitchen sink was not gushing, but did create a puddle on the floor when I used the sink. After checking with my neighbors for a plumber to no avail, I found one online that was well rated. And they offered same day service! So I called for an appointment, the first available time was two days later. Apparently same day was only available for emergencies.

That’s the thing. One person’s definition of an emergency is another person’s definition of the ordinary course of business. Understanding how each side views the situation helps to find a solution that works for all parties.

are you delivering what was promised?

That is not what you promised!

My dog knows each type of treat by name and where they are kept. So when I pulled a bait and switch on her, she called me out on it. She happily took the treat that was not what was promised. When she finished, she stood and stared at the cabinet where the promised treat was kept.

People don’t always advocate so strongly that what was delivered was not what was promised. Sometimes not living up to promises results in lost customers or lost employees. What are you doing to make sure you are living up to your promises?

right people in right place

What are your people telling your customers about you?

My refrigerator started leaking water all over the floor. So, I called to have someone come out and fix it. When he got here, he explained the design flaw that was causing the problem and indicated he could fix it, but it would happen again at some point. And the cost of the repair was pretty high. So, I asked him if he was really telling me it is time for a new fridge. He said yes.

Having people in your business that will give customers the full picture to make an informed decision is critically important. Those front line folks tell customers a lot about how you run the business, who you hire, how you incentivize them, and the values and behaviors you expect. What are your people telling your customers?

Poor substitutes aren't worth it

Poor substitutes just aren’t worth it

We all have products we love. And when they aren’t available, the search for a substitute is on. Like many, I’ve had that issue over the last year with Clorox wipes. And like many, I’ve been disappointed by the poor quality of the substitutes that have flooded the market. The contrast has highlighted why having a quality product is worth the money.

The same is true in businesses of all types. If your products or services are high quality, people will know that a poor substitute isn’t worth it. How are you positioning your products or services so people aren’t looking for a poor substitute?

making change sustainable

Are you keeping up with the times?

My vet is great! She knows how to handle rescue dogs that are a bit skittish and need a little extra attention. When she moved from one company to another, we followed her because she is great. The only downside is, the owner of the vet business does will not interact with the online pharmacy because of the number of issues they experienced a decade ago. The thing is, today, the online pharmacy is so much easier to deal with and has no issues versus going to a vet office for regular refills. But the issues from a decade ago now result in the vet sending a paper prescription to me by mail, then I have to send that prescription by mail to the online pharmacy, requiring a few weeks of time for issues that no longer exist.

It is a great example of issues that no longer exist driving business decisions. Every business has something that started years ago, but would not be handled that way if implemented today. Are you keeping up with the times?

well run business is worth exponentially more

When was the last time you looked at the dynamics in your market?

It’s easy to tell when open enrollment starts by the level of commercials for Medicare supplement plans. After all, depending on the source, there are somewhere between 63 and 68 million people in the US on Medicare plans. While not everyone buys supplemental insurance, the level of commercials indicate it is a pretty good market to be in.

Compare that with the individual market which has only 11 million people spread out across all the states, with many counties having only one provider as option because there isn’t enough demand to support more than one provider.  It is no surprise that there are no commercials or other ads. And given the small population, it has taken many years to figure out the pricing/profitability in the market.

The dynamics in a market can be pretty easy to spot if you just look for them. When was the last time you stood back and looked at the dynamics in your market?

do you really want feedback?

Are you really trying to get feedback?

A few weeks ago, a sign popped up on the side of the road. It was the standard poster size on a wood stick. The background was a light green with white type, making it impossible to see what the sign was about. After looking at it a few times as I passed by, I finally pulled over to see what it was about. The only thing I could ascertain was there was some sort of comment period about roadway amendments. The type so small and lacked contrast, it was hard to read without getting out of the car. It made me wonder if the county really wanted comments or if it was just an attempt to comply with the law.

These sorts of situations happen all the time in business. Requests for feedback are put out to customers in an attempt to show the business is open to comments. What happens next will tell you if the desire for comments is genuine. Top performing businesses genuinely want to understand what is working and what is not. That’s how they get better.