Steve Ferrante's High Performance Blog for Sales/Customer Service/Leadership Champs and Progressive Professionals!

Posts tagged ‘Sale Away’

Pinnacle Performance Training Promo

Check out the new Pinnacle Performance Training promo…

Visit Sale Away LLC. for more information.

Make a Great Day!

Steve 🙂

Sale Away’s Pinnacle Performance Credo

Here’s my company’s new, special edition, less-filling, environmentally-friendly Pinnacle Performance Credo:

Pinnacle Performance Training

For details visit > Pinnacle Performance Credo

Feel free to share with friends, family, general bystanders and everyone in your professional network.

Make a Great Day!

Steve

Let’s Link-In!

Monday Morning Motivation: Success Track

Back in our school days (or school daze for some) there were specific academic achievements that needed to be accomplished to graduate from one grade to the next, from grade school to high-school, high-school to college and so forth. The track was all laid out and it was clear (to the non-dazed folks at least) what needed to be accomplished to move forward and succeed.

At some point, we entered the working world and all that changed. We had multiple tracks to choose from and the path to success became considerably more fuzzy.

Some people chose a less than desirable track. These folks can be found complaining about their job most days. Other folks were headed in the right direction but then, for various reasons, got side-tracked.  Both folks will find that if they continue heading in the wrong direction they’ll ultimately end up in the wrong place.

What you do today shapes your tomorrows. Where you end up then depends on what track you’re on now.

This principle applies to not only your long-term goals but also your short-term objectives. In sales, what you achieve in a given month will determine if you’re on track to meet your goal for the quarter. A successful quarter will put you on the right track for a successful year.

And, of course, a successful Monday will put you on track for a successful week!

Success Track

Make a Great Day!

Steve 🙂

Monday Morning Motivation: Go To Success

Here’s a simple, yet powerful, Monday Morning Motivation.

Quite often success comes to those who are proactive. Those Pinnacle Performers constantly seeking out new opportunities to learn and grow, develop new business, create new customer relationships and control their destiny.

The reactive types are waiting to be in the right place at the right time, waiting for the phone to ring, waiting for opportunity to knock, waiting for success to happen.

Don’t let that be you. Get up, get on your horse and as I often say…

Make a Great Day!

Steve 🙂

Go to Success

See All Of Steve’s Pinnacle Performance Quotes > pinnacleperformancequotes.imgfave.com
Pinnacle Performance Quotes on Pinterest

Leader Lessons in Delivering World-Class Customer Service from Amazon.com

a.com_logo_RGB

I love Amazon! Over the past 10 years or so, I have purchased countless items from Amazon.com; books, office supplies, DVD’s, electronics, coffee, assorted gifts and a lot more. In fact, rarely does a week go by without at least one Amazon package arriving from UPS.  I even have my own “Recommended Reading Store” powered by Amazon.com. You can (and really should) visit it here > Steve’s Recommended Reading

Apparently, I am not alone in my infatuation with the company. In the published 2011 Temkin Experience Ratings, Amazon was ranked #1 in customer service out of 143 large companies across 12 industries. According to Temkin, the results were based on feedback from 6,000 US consumers that evaluated three components of the customer experience:

  1. Functional: How well do experiences meet consumers’ needs?
  2. Accessible: How easy is it for consumers to do what they want to do?
  3. Emotional: How do consumers feel about the experiences?

Anyone who has participated in my Pinnacle Performance sales/customer service training can tell you this is remarkably similar to my teachings of the ingredients of a properly-balanced world-class customer service organization. As an example, far too often I see businesses that focus too much attention on meeting customers “functional” needs, compromising or outright neglecting the “emotional” aspects of the customer experience.

As I have stated many times, great customer service is a feeling thing; its how the customer feels when they’re doing business with you and, more importantly, how they feel and the stories they tell when their business transaction is complete. Amazon, as well as any company, figured this out and committed to consistently delivering a complete customer experience.

Speaking of Amazon’s customer-centric philosophy and success, Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, said;

“If there’s one reason we have done better than of our peers in the Internet space over the last six years, it is because we have focused like a laser on customer experience, and that really does matter, I think, in any business. It certainly matters online, where word of mouth is so very, very powerful.”

Here are a few Amazon best practices that every tire/auto service business can also do to improve the customer experience, customer retention and sales:

  • They Personalize

When you purchase an item (any item) from Amazon, you will often receive an email back that reads “customers that purchased what you just purchased are also interested in these items”.  Every time you visit their website and search for an item you are also shown alternative items that other customers have ultimately purchased. These types of recommendations personalize the customer experience and make customers feel like someone is paying attention and is interested in helping them. Speaking from personal experience, Amazon not only knows my buying history they use it effectively to introduce me to other items aligned with my interests.

How well do you monitor and manage your customers specific service/product purchase potential? How well do you communicate this with them in ways that do not feel generic or one-size-fits-all?

  • They Keep You Informed

One of the biggest consumer grievances in all of customer service is the lack of progress updates once a business transaction is underway. This is especially true of service providers where consumers typically experience anxiety and frustration when they are not kept informed of developments with their job.

This issue rarely, if ever, occurs at Amazon. Place and order and you’ll receive an instant email with your order confirmation and estimated time of delivery. Not long after that first email you’ll receive another with your shipping information and tracking number. Any questions along the way can easily be administered by email or, if you prefer, by calling a real live human-being on their customer service line.

Do you practice pro-active customer-contact? When customers are waiting for service, do you check-in with them and provide progress updates? Do you phone customers if their service may be longer than originally anticipated?

  • They Reward You

Amazon apparently understands a fact I reference in my training; keeping your existing customers is cheaper and more profitable than getting new ones. Accordingly, they have created a rewards program that, well, rewards customers for their loyalty.  As an Amazon Rewards card holder, members receive points on purchases transacted with the card and can then apply those points as rebate dollars towards future purchases – something I regularly do!

Amazon is not alone in this endeavor. Most industry-leading retail and service companies have some type of customer rewards or loyalty program. Why? Because they work to strengthen the customer relationship, make customers feel that their business is valued above and beyond the transaction at hand, and provide an added incentive to continue the relationship.

What does your customer rewards program look like? If you don’t have one, why not? Are you losing business to competitors that may be benefiting from their program?

  • They Practice Customer-First When Things Go Wrong

As I wrote in my Winning and Losing with Customer Complaints article in Tire Review magazine, the true test of a business’s customer service effort is not when things are going right – but rather what is done when things go wrong.

Consider this personal experience I had while attempting to purchase an MP3 player as a Christmas present for my daughter. Below is the self-explanatory communication between myself and Amazon customer service.

Me

My MP3 product was delivered today. It arrived in a thin white box with “BP Consulting” on the return address. I opened it and was (still am) shocked and upset to find the product in a plastic bag with PC connecting wire and headphones – that’s it. There is no original product packaging, users manual, mfg info, etc. I will leave packaging feedback with photo shortly.
This is a gift and I can’t give it as is. Looks like I purchased, discarded packaging, used and re-gifted this way.

 Very Disappointed and Need Resolution ASAP (or sooner)

Actual response from Amazon.com Customer Service (received 3 hours after original message)

Hello,

I’m sorry to hear if your MP3 disc player arrived that way. This usually doesn’t happen. We make every attempt to package items securely to protect them during shipping, but sometimes cases like this occur.

We always appreciate customer input on how we can improve our store, and I’ve forwarded your message to our shipping department.

I want to make this things right for you, so I’ve requested a full refund of $79.99 for the MP3 disc player, since you received the item that way. This refund will appear as a credit on your American Express card in the next 2-3 business days.

We look forward to seeing you again soon.

Did I solve your problem?

Best regards,

Donna A.

Amazon.com

This response is right on many levels; there’s empathy, appreciation, no blame, accountability and action. You’ll notice I didn’t ask for a refund but that’s exactly what I received. Customer service champs like Amazon realize it is far better to lose a little bit now then it is risking the loss of a customer for life.

Do you have a customer-first complaint resolution process? Do all your employees understand and are empowered to use it?

Amazon practices world-class customer service every day. Following their lead can make a real difference in your business results as well!

Steve

Steve Ferrante is the CEO & Trainer of Champions of Sale Away LLC., providing Pinnacle Performance Sales, Customer Service and Winning Team Culture training, speaking and professional development services to success-driven businesses throughout North America. For more information on Steve and Pinnacle Performance services for your team visit saleawayllc.com

Things Turn Out Best For The People Who Make The Best Of The Way Things Turn Out

Good Day Pinnacle Performers,

Welcome to May! Hope this post finds you doing extraordinarily well.

We have arrived at the last in the series of John Wooden Maxims:

“Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”

Excerpt from Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections on and Off the Court:

“Why is it so much easier to complain about the things we do not have than to make the most of and appreciate the things we do have?”

This quote ties directly into the Maxim as many folks don’t make the most of the way things turns out, instead focusing on and complaining about what is missing and/or wrong with the situation.

This is a lesson I personally lived out in my professional selling efforts. When I started in business management consulting sales, I was assigned a territory that was considered to be “saturated”, having gone through many years with many different sales reps before me calling on what was, by and large, the same prospective client base.  At the same time, there were brand new “virgin” territories in other areas of the Eastern U.S. that afforded the sales reps there opportunities to get in front of potential clients for the very first time. In a new territory, it was not uncommon for the salesperson who worked there to receive (from the company’s inside sales effort) twice the number of appointments in any given week.

It would have been quite easy to focus on those negatives; I can’t sell because the territory is saturated, I can’t sell because the prospects I’m seeing have seen us 14 times already,  I can’t sell because I’m getting half the appointments, etc.

Instead I chose (with some effective mentoring at the time) to focus on what I did have and could control. If I had less opportunities and the opportunities themselves would potentially be of lower quality, well then I needed to be all that much better with the opportunities I did have or I would surely fail.  I’m happy to report that was not the case…

Over my 10 years with the company, I maintained the highest batting average (sales to presentation ratio) and ended my tenure with the highest generated revenue totals in the company’s history.

One thing is certain. You will have challenges. You will have obstacles. In order to succeed you must build a mental bridge and get over them. What John Wooden said is true:

Thing Turn Out Best - John Wooden

Make a Great Day!

Steve 🙂

Jack Welch: The Six Deadly Sins of Leadership

Good Day All,

As my Pinnacle Performance pupils well know, there are many elements that make up an effective “Winning Team” culture as I wrote about here > The Great Eight Practices for Creating a Winning Team Culture

Of these, the most important is effective leadership that leads by example, supports and manages effective team member behaviors, and drives morale and motivation.

For a reverse perspective, below is an excellent article from Jack and Suzy Welch that outlines six areas that work against effective leadership and impede the successful development of a winning team culture.

Make a Great Day!

Steve 🙂

The Six Deadly Sins of Leadership

By Jack and Suzy Welch

Being a leader is perhaps the hardest challenge any of us will ever face. No matter how long we work at it, practicing the right behaviors is a never-ending task. Knowing – and avoiding – the wrong ones is too. Thus, we offer the following six common leadership pitfalls:

1. Not Giving Self-Confidence its Due.

Self-confidence is the lifeblood of success. When people have it, they’re bold. They try new things, offer ideas, exude positive energy, and cooperate with their colleagues instead of surreptitiously attempting to bring them down. When they lack self-confidence, it’s just the opposite. People cower. They plod. And they spread negativity with every word and gesture.

But all too often leaders ignore (or neglect) this very basic fact of the human condition. Why is anyone’s guess. Perhaps they just don’t understand that it is part of their job to instill self-confidence in their people. It may even be said that it’s their first job. You cannot unleash the creative power of individuals who doubt themselves.

Fortunately, some people seem to be born with self-confidence. Others gain it from life and work experience and come to a company fully loaded. Regardless, leaders can never stop pouring self-confidence into their teams. The ways to do so are myriad. Make sure goals are challenging – but achievable. Give effusive positive feedback. Remind your direct reports of what they do right.

We’re not saying that leaders should blindly extol and exalt. People know when they’re being gamed. But good leaders work relentlessly to find ways to instill self-confidence in those around them. They know it’s the gift that never stops giving.

2. Muzzling Voice.

Perhaps the most frustrating way that leaders underperform is by over-talking. That is, they act like know-it-alls. They can tell you how the world works, what corporate is thinking, how it will backfire if you try this or that, and why you can’t possibly change the product one iota. Sometimes such blowhards get their swagger from a few positive experiences, but usually they’re just victims of their own destructive personalities.

Ultimately, the company ends up being a victim too, because know-it-alls aren’t just insufferable, they’re dangerous. They don’t listen, and that deafness makes it very hard for new ideas to get debated, expanded upon, or improved. No single person, no matter how smart, can take a business to its apex. For that, you need every voice to be heard.

3. Acting Phony.

Can you spot a phony? Of course you can – and so can your people. Indeed, if there is one widespread human capability, it is sniffing out someone who is putting on airs, pretending to be who they’re not, or just keeping their real self hidden. Yet too many leaders spend way too much time creating personas that put a wall between them and their employees. What a waste.

Because authenticity is what makes people love you. Visibly grappling with tough problems, sweating the details, laughing, and caring – those are the activities that make people respond and feel engaged with what you’re saying. Sure, some people will tell you that being mysterious grants you power as a leader. In reality, all it generates is fear. And who wants to motivate that way?

Now, obviously, authenticity is unattractive if it’s coupled with immaturity or an overdose of informality. And organizations generally don’t like people who are too emotionally unbounded – i.e. so real that all their feelings are exposed. They tend to tamp that kind of intensity down a bit. And that’s not a bad thing, as work is work and, more than at home, allows us to maintain some privacy.

But don’t let convention wring all the authenticity out of you, especially as you climb the ladder. In time, humanity always wins. Your team and bosses come to know who you are in your soul, what kind of people you attract and what kind of performance you want from everyone. Your realness will make you accessible; you will connect and you will inspire. You will lead.

4. Lacking the Guts to Differentiate.

You only have to be in business a few weeks to know that not all investment opportunities are created equal. But some leaders can’t face that reality, and so they sprinkle their resources like cheese on a pizza, a little bit everywhere.

As a result, promising growth opportunities too often don’t get the outsized infusions of cash and people they need. If they did, someone might get offended during the resource allocation process. Someone – as in the manager of a weak business or the sponsor of a dubious investment proposal.

But leaders who don’t differentiate do the most damage when it comes to people. Unwilling to deliver candid, rigorous performance reviews, they give every employee the same kind of bland, mushy, “nice job” sign-off. Then, when rewards are doled out, they give star performers little more than the laggards. Now, you can call this egalitarian approach kind, or fair – as these lousy leaders usually do – but it’s really just weakness. And when it comes to building a thriving organization where people have the chance to grow and succeed, weakness just doesn’t cut it.


5. Fixation on Results at the Expense of Values.

Everyone knows that leaders deliver. Oratory and inspiration without results equal…well, a whole lot of nothing. But leaders are committing a real dereliction of duties if all they care about are the numbers. They also have to care about how those numbers came to be. Were the right behaviors practiced? Was the company’s culture of integrity honored? Were people taken care of properly? Was the law obeyed, in both letter and spirit?

Values are a funny thing in business. Companies love to talk about them. They love to hang them up on plaques in the lobby and boast about them to potential hires and customers. But they’re meaningless if leaders don’t live and breathe them. Sometimes that can take courage. It can mean letting go of a top performer who’s a brute to his colleagues, or not promoting a star who doesn’t share her best ideas with the team. That’s hard.

And yet if you’re a leader, this is a sin you cannot squint away. When you nail your results, make sure you can also report back to a crowded room: We did this the right way, according to our values.

6. Skipping the Fun Part

What is it about celebrating that makes managers so nervous? Maybe throwing a party doesn’t seem professional, or it makes people worry that they won’t look serious to the powers that be, or that, if things get too happy in the office, people will stop working their tails off.

Whatever the reason, too many leaders don’t celebrate enough. To be clear here, we do not define celebrating as conducting one of those stilted little company-orchestrated events that everyone hates, in which the whole team is marched out to a local restaurant for an evening of forced merriment when they’d rather be home. We’re talking about sending a team to Disney World with their families, or giving each team member tickets to a show or a movie, or handing each member of the team a new iPod.

What a lost opportunity. Celebrating makes people feel like winners and creates an atmosphere of recognition and positive energy. Imagine a team winning the World Series without champagne spraying everywhere. You can’t! And yet companies win all the time and let it go without so much as a high-five.

Work is too much a part of life not to recognize the moments of achievement. Grab as many as you can. Make a big deal out of them.

That’s part of a leader’s job too – the fun part.

This content was originally presented as a lecture at the Jack Welch Management Institute.

Jack Welch is Founder and Distinguished Professor at the Jack Welch Management Institute at Strayer University.

Suzy Welch is a best-selling author, popular television commentator, and noted business journalist. 

Together, Jack and Suzy Welch co-authored the international bestseller Winning. 

 

Tag Cloud