Customer fatigue

I do a lot of volunteer fundraising for a hospital and the one thing that we have been talking about recently is the idea of donour fatigue. There are so many great causes and so many great events, and we have made it so easy for people to try and raise money by using email and the Internet, that people are being inundated with requests for donations. How do they choose which ones to support and which ones to turn down? Many are just turning down everyone…that is donour fatigue.

Do you think your customers and clients are feeling the same way? We get email blasts and banner ads, we get phone calls and pamphlets, we see TV commercials and hear radio spots….all trying to sell us something. We are surrounded by advertising and people trying to sell us products or services.

I remember the first time I visited Times Square in NYC. It was total sensory overload. So many people, so many huge screens, so many banners and advertisements….so much glitz and glitter it literally made my head spin. Are we doing this to our customers?

If you can find a way to take your customers to that tranquil place above the clouds, you will create a stronger, more loyal group of customers who will continue to come back and will continue to refer people to your products and services. Make it easy for them to decide and remove the buzzing from their ears. Create a connection that is strong and immediate and you will soar at 38,000 feet in the peaceful blue sky instead of puttering along at 500 feet trying to avoid the tall buildings.

Tweeting for Alzheimers

Today I got forwarded a very cool initiative to raise awareness for Alzheimers by digitally memorializing family members who suffer. Support the cause, called 1m tweets, click here to participate - http://1mtweets.com.

This is one of the more creative ways that I have seen used to raise awareness. Kudos to Jordan Banks and the team at Edelman.

Time management

Are you productive with your time? Do you find yourself going to meetings and afterward asking yourself 'what was the point of that meeting?' It happens to the best of us.

Here are three things you can do to create more time in your day:

1. Only attend meetings with a clear agenda and objectives to be met. Otherwise it is a time drag;

2. Schedule blocks of time in your day. By blocking off time to work on specific initatives, you ensure that you will complete the most important tasks;

3. Delegate as much as possible. Is it time well spent being online for 30 minutes checking for the cheapest airline? What about creating graphics for a powerpoint presention? Formatting of a Word document? Delegate these activities to someone else.

Time is precious and we should be doing everything we can to create more of it.

To find out more ways to create time, listen to my teleconference on time management posted on my website.

Closing the sale

I recently signed a contract with a merchant bank so that I could start accepting credit cards for my business. This is obviously an advantage for those clients of mine that want the ease of paying by credit card or if I start to sell products. But that is not the point of my story. The point is that in dealing with the saleswoman at the merchant bank, I was made to feel like a commodity, not a customer. After our initial conversation about setting up an account, I was curious to learn more about all of the fees and how the transactions work, whether or not I needed a terminal, etc. I was learning about this for the first time and was supposedly talking to an expert. I received some information that helped educate me, but most of what I got was phone calls asking if I had made my decision to sign up. I am talking about phone calls 2-3 times per week. I would get a call on Monday saying that she was following up from her voicemail ON FRIDAY! What has this world become that I cannot have 2-3 days to think things over before closing the deal. Then I got the classic line "we need to know what is happening because THEY are asking me about the file." I asked who "they" were and that I would be happy to talk with "they" to tell them that I am a customer trying to make a smart decision. I was summarily dismissed.

I did eventually open an account after a few more phone calls and have of course never heard from this woman again. The deal is signed so she no longer has a need for me. It is unfortunate that many people think this same way, about the sale and not about the ongoing relationship. When you deal with customers, make sure you make them feel special and that they are more than just a commission. This will help with customer loyalty and referrals, which is the foundation of anyone's business, so we might as well get really good at it.

To sign up for my monthly electronic newsletter ‘What’s New in Business,’ which offers free articles and other resources to improve your business, click here.

Creating a brand

I recently launched a new website, the Procurement Guru, with the objective of creating a community around procurement and help companies maximize value from purchasing operations. I expected that I might get a few people interested in participating in the Q&A discussions and others that might use the resources provided, but I was surprised at the reaction. I have been helping clients improve procurement operations for more than a decade with few accolades or interest from the outside world. As soon as I labeled myself the Procurement Guru, people are contacting me on a regular basis for speaking engagements, consulting projects and general advice. What a great marketing effort!

It just goes to show you that need to create something with which people can associate. I am not doing anything differently today than I was last week, but by creating the Procurement Guru, I have created something that people can understand immediately and provides an easy brand to talk about it. If you need procurement help who better to call than the procurement guru? Easy to describe and easy to understand. Are you making it easy for potential customers to understand what you do?

Increasing productivity

A recent study by McKinsey stated that most Managers spend more than 1/2 of their time doing administrative tasks or attending meetings. Yikes! Is this what we want our management level people doing? In top performing companies, the number is closer to 30%. That is a significant difference. Shouldn't our Managers be spending time coaching employees, talking to customers, looking for ways to add more value to the company and ensuring everything in the business runs smoothly? Of course, there are always going to be meetings to attend and there are always going to be tasks that need to be completed, but we need our Managers focusing on employee development and customer satisfaction.

How would you react if I told you that I could help your Managers free up 20% of their time to develop and coach employees and work more closely with customers? That would be pretty valuable, wouldn't it? Here are three things Managers can do to help move their time from administration to management of staff and dealing with customers:

- delegate as many administrative tasks as possible (faxing, paperwork, etc.) to someone else in the department;

- allocate specific times during each week to meet with employees both individually and as a team. The focus of these meetings is professional development and coaching;

- scrutinize each meeting request and only attend the ones that will add the most value to the organization. Instead of attending a three-hour brainstorming session, attend the 2nd meeting where the decision of the best idea is being made.

There are many other things that Manager can do to increase their productivity and create time, but let's start with the three above and move on from there.

To sign up for my monthly electronic newsletter ‘What’s New in Business,’ which offers free articles and other resources to improve your business, click here.