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?

are you adding unnecessary steps?

Are you adding unnecessary steps?

The other day I decided to make chicken stock. The WSJ had a recipe several weeks ago and it looked really easy. And a great way to use the whole chicken while creating another ingredient I often use—chicken stock.

So, I pulled out the pot, took the strainer part out and dumped all of the ingredients in the pot and let it go for a few hours. At the end, while looking at the built in strainer sitting on the counter that I removed, I kicked myself for taking that portion of the pot out that would have made it easier to strain at the end. Instead, I ended up with a much more manual process that took longer.

These sorts of situations happen in business all the time. We end up taking out parts of the process that would have made the process smoother in the long run. Or we add things in that end up slowing the entire process down. How often are you adding unnecessary steps into your business?

What conditions are you creating in your business?

What conditions are you creating in your business?

The motorcycle first caught my eye on a winding road. It was behind me and following a little too closely. But it wasn’t until we got to the main road and were stopped that I saw a dog pop its head up from behind the driver. As the motorcycle passed, the dog was clearly visible. It was in a backpack with its head and front legs on the shoulders of the driver flying down the road at 60 mph.

Many miles down the road, we stopped at a light. The motorcycle, a car in front of me, then me. And that’s when it happened. The dog started to shimmy out of the backpack. Panic set in that the light would turn green, the motorcycle would move and the dog would pop out of the backpack and land on the road. Luckily, the dog popped out of the bag and started running down the road before the light turned green. It ran up to a parking lot and was caught by its person before being hit by the oncoming cars in the next lane. Crisis averted.

There are a whole bunch of points I can make with this experience. But I’ll keep it to just one. When people don’t feel safe or are highly uncomfortable, they will bolt. What conditions are you creating in your business?

how do you adapt to extreme situations

How do you adapt in extreme situations?

About a month ago, a big snow storm hit the area, leaving snow in many places for a week. And for a few days, the snow was so high, leaving the house was nearly impossible. And while only a few ventured out bundled up, the birds were out in force. They were flying around and chirping away. It was too cold for people to go outside, but tiny birds were quite happy out in the freezing temperatures. How did they not freeze? Apparently, they have several mechanisms to survive the cold.

There are extreme situations that can test businesses every year. Just like birds have built in capabilities to make it through, businesses can build in capabilities too. What are the extreme situations you experience in your business? How are you building in capabilities to make it through them?

Risk can be an advantage

What is your backup plan?

A few weeks ago, during the snow storm in the Pacific Northwest, I lost the internet connection for a few hours. Luckily, it was a short period of time and I still had power. I also had a radio, so I was able to listen to the radio to hear updates.

The situation was a good reminder of the power of backup plans. There are always a variety of issues that can crop up in business. And having backup plans that are not reliant on the same platforms are important to keep going. What are your backup plans?

cross the finish line or stop?

Cross the finish line or stop?

The snow just started to accumulate and along with it came the cancelation of weekly trash pickup. The snow wasn’t supposed to cause an issue until the following day, but out of an abundance of caution, the service was canceled with pickup to occur one week later. And just then, the mail truck drove by on its normal route, causing me to think about the USPS motto:

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

Setting aside the very real issues snow storms cause, the contrast in services that day got me thinking about approaches to business. Whether providing services, completing projects or everyday activities, some approach getting across the finish line as a given. It will happen. Others look for reasons to stop. Which is yours?

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?

it is all about perspective

How are you getting a fresh perspective of your business?

The power went out for a few hours mid-day. Without the normal lighting, I was left to using the natural lighting streaming through the blinds. Without the overhead lighting, the natural lighting revealed finger prints on the cabinets. I had no idea they needed to be cleaned that much. Those fingerprints were not normally noticeable.

That’s the thing about business. Sometimes you don’t see what is going on from your current perspective. It takes a fresh perspective from a different angle to see where focus is needed. How are you getting a fresh perspective of your business?

are you establishing trust

Where do you land on the BS detector?

Recently, I stumbled into a spot on a website that said “we value your privacy,” then only allowed you to opt out by email if you lived in California. The option was not available to everyone else. That would be following the law in California, not valuing privacy.

People have a good sense of sniffing out whether what leaders or companies say is true or if they are repeating a narrative. Building trust and credibility requires consistently being straightforward and honest.  Where are you landing the BS detector?