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.

we've always done it that way means it is time to change

Are you making it harder than it should be to do business with you?

It should have been a very simple process of buying my exercise gear. I knew exactly what I wanted, put it in the online cart and hit the checkout button like I had done many times before.  All of my information was already there, so it should have processed and sent me a receipt.

But that’s not what happened. Instead, I was taken to a screen asking me to set up Apple pay. After spending time with the person at the other end of the online chat, I was told that for all Apple devices, customers are routed to set up Apple pay. The only way around it is to download another browser, and use that browser to complete the transaction. You know this brand and probably have it in your closet. They don’t need to make it that hard to buy from them.

It is a good lesson in how a likely partnership with another company has made it harder to do business with customers. Have you unintentionally set up processes that make it harder to do business with you?  It is a good time to look at your end to end customer experience and get rid of anything that makes it harder to do business with you. You’ll be glad you did!

Are you confusing people?

The department of transportation is reconfiguring the freeway to add a bus lane to avoid traffic during rush hour. The project basically takes the left shoulder, narrows the three existing lanes and takes a portion of the right shoulder.

The first step taken was marking where the new lanes will be with white dashed lines about 2 feet from the existing lane markers. As a result of the new lines, people were confused where to drive. Some were driving in the existing lanes while others were driving in what will be the lanes in the future.

I’m sure there were lots of good reasons for marking the lane in preparation for work that would happen a few weeks down the road. But it created a lot of confusion for those using the road, not working on the project.

These sorts of situations happen all the time in business. People take actions that will help their work. In the meantime, it confuses customers and co-workers operating in the same space. How are you making sure you aren’t confusing people?

do you know your customers interests?

Do you have insight into your customer interests?

I’ve noticed a curious trend over the time through the stay at home orders—I’m listening to podcasts less, but the number of podcasts being released has increased. About a month ago, one of the podcasts even noted the trend of reduced listening is happening. But as it turns out, while total listening is down, it is up in some categories and down in others. And the categories I listen to are up.

The trends demonstrate why it is important to understand your specific customers and their interests. When you do, you know when to ramp up and when to pull back.

change that makes sense

Is it better or worse?

A number of websites recently (or that I looked at recently) have moved to a format of pictures or images that are rather large in size and akin to what you’d see on social media, rather than a small image and a headline or lists of headlines. In order to see what is available, the viewer has to scroll down and through many pages to see the desired content.

Similar trends have emerged in using videos rather than an article to communicate. The view is video is richer and has more context. But many times, the video content can be 30 to 60 minutes.

For me, I want to quickly skim and the new formats take much more, causing me to skip them. I’m sure there are lots of people who like the new look or format. The thing is, when communicating, you need multiple formats for customers to consume information the way that suits them best.

are you watching for clues?

Are you paying attention to the clues others are giving you?

Dogs have a funny way of letting you know when there is something not to their liking. Mine has been letting me know regularly when she is not pleased to get dog food when my dinner smells really good to her.

I call it Dinner, no thanks.

She picks up her bowl and turns it over, then walks off or gives me the stink eye.

She is not subtle.

But many times, people are. They give subtle clues that are visible if you are paying attention. With social distancing and the stress of life today, those clues may be much more difficult to see.

Are you paying attention to the clues others are giving you?

The little things matter

It’s the little things that matter

A friend was telling me about tuna he buys. He loves it. So, I did what many do when something is highly recommended. I went to Amazon and bought one to try. The package arrived a couple days later. And when I opened it, I was delighted. Attached to the tuna was a hand written note, addressed to me, that said they hope I enjoy my tuna. That little touch brought a smile to my face.

How often are you adding a little touch that delights the people around you?

a picture is worth a thousand words

Do you see yourself in the picture?

The annual catalog came out for the anniversary sale. This time it was exclusively on line, and it was available just as the sale was starting. I took a quick peek before heading to the store and was shocked. It was a series of odd pictures with prints that clashed in combinations I would never wear. I couldn’t see myself in anything that was pictured. And apparently I wasn’t alone. The sales rep I met with had the same reaction. If I wasn’t a long time customer, I wouldn’t have shopped based on what I saw.

People have to see themselves in the picture. Whether it is working in your business or buying your products or services, they have to know that they fit. If they don’t see themselves in the picture, they will go somewhere else.

When was the last time you thought about whether your people or your customers see themselves in the picture with you?

did you take out the good stuff

You took out the good stuff

My dog loves bully sticks. Just mention the word and she runs to where they are kept. Recently, the type I normally buy was out of stock. So, I purchased another brand. But it wasn’t the same. They somehow reduced the odor, but took out whatever makes them taste good.

You’ve probably heard the same sort of thing in business. We’ve made some changes and you’re going to love it. But, the people making the changes don’t really know what it is you actually love. And that’s the part that gets removed.

It’s a good reminder to really understand the parts people love about your business and make sure you don’t change those things. How do you make sure you don’t take out the good stuff?

sales repellent department

Is your customer service department a sales repellent department?

A few weeks ago, I attempted to buy a product at the local store. I like to support them. They didn’t have what I needed in the store closest to me, but did at two different stores ten miles away. I was previously told to get it the fastest, have it shipped to the store. So I did.

A week later, the product had still not been shipped and I reached out to customer service. After they went through the script, I asked if they could reach out to the store and ask them to ship it. They told me it was not in stock and I’d either have to wait or cancel the order. I asked them to cancel it and ordered the product on Amazon while waiting for the cancellation to be processed. I hung up and called the store to see if the customer service rep lied to me. He had, it was in stock. And my order from Amazon arrived from the east coast two days later.

The experience was a prime example of a sales repellent department in action. Many blame Amazon for their sales falling short while seldom looking inward to see what is getting in the way of doing business with customers. Taking a hard look at how easy or hard it is to do business with you will be gold.

Do you have a sales repellent department? If so, it is time to make a change before your customers do!