Category Archives: Leadership
The overwhelming majority of places I see – retail, banks, gas stations and so on – have left me noticing a trend that the customer is no longer the focus.
There is a big box retailer that I visited in 2 different locations that gave me the worst service ever – both times. One customer even pointed out that I was waiting on the other side of the counter and the employee said “Yeah, I’m not worried about him.” In both of these visits there was no acknowledgement of my presence.
I see this often when patrons are at counters waiting to pay for gas or ring up their selections. Employees – and managers!! – instead of acknowledging the customer will finish their conversation on policy, work issues, or personal discussions and the customer stands there waiting to be noticed and grows frustrated by the moment.
I have seen this so often that it makes me worried about the trend in business that customers are a nuisance rather than a purpose.
Yet I remain optimistic that the space to give just a little acknowledgement to a customer will so set that company up for repeat business that I know those companies who stay customer-centric will win in the end.
Are customer acknowledged in your company consistently and promptly? It makes all the difference in the world to them. Nothing else matters.
Many of the recent discussions I find myself involved with have been about marketing my clients brand and building a bolder presence.
Many people look for advice as to how to better penetrate a customer demographic, improve service, establish a new retail or revenue line or other ways they can improve weak areas and grow.
Most of them are taken aback when I inform them that we should not focus on their weaknesses and opportunities, but rather on their strengths. When I tell them that we need to look at what they do well, assess what total assets they have collectively as a company and that we need to leverage that, they sit their rather stunned.
It’s because in a competitive environment where we’re always trying to improve, we often forget what we have and fail to play to our strengths.
Here’s the comparison I used with a prospect earlier this week. An improvisational actor is trained to consider everything onstage that they can use in their performance. The scene, the audience, the other actors (if any) and the props are the only things they have going for them during that scene and they need to leverage that in order to perform. They can’t worry about what they don’t have; the only thing that matters is what they have right then and there and how they can use it to engage their audience.
Or if you play a game like Scrabble, you have to make use of the assets – the tiles – in front of you. Knowing how to play with those tiles will enable you to gain points. Knowing how to use your company’s assets that you have in front of you, or right under your nose, will allow you to gain customers and market share.
In order for a business to strongly engage with their customers and their audience, the organization must know who they are and grow their brand based off of their current assets to develop that image and deeper relationship with their clientele.
Assets can come in many forms. Here are some examples to generate some thoughts as to what you might already have:
- Your brand logo
- Your physical location(s) – office, retail, warehouse
- Your people
- Your green and sustainable initiatives
- The user experience (UX) in your online platforms
- Your financial stability
- Raving customers
- Employee promoters
- GlassDoor ratings
- How easy customer complaints are rectified
- How you connect with your customers
- Community or philanthropic endeavors
- Your culture and overall vision
- Your products
- That new chef, manager, marketing person, technician who just started
- The customer who has been loyal for 20+ years
- How you’re disrupting the marketplace
- Your attentive service and acknowledgement of your customers
- How you’ve adapted to disruption across 3 generations
Every company has something positive to promote and leverage. These are the ingredients that make an organization what they are, differentiate it, and bring clients and customers to themselves.
We can try to reinvent ourselves constantly in trying to find new ways to market and grow. This may work, or might confuse current customers as well as those you hope to bring abroad. Or we can be like Pepsi, who has managed to stay hip and relevant by playing to their brand and trendiness for so many years. Their message has adapted to the current culture and generational influences over time, but they continue to market to their brand consistently with tremendous results.
Take stock of the assets in your organization and leverage them to the max. It’s the best and most consistent way to build a stronger brand.
One of the challenges leaders can find themselves in is drifting off course, realizing they veered away from the core of themselves and their overall goals.
This can manifest for differing reasons such as lost focus, external pressures, internal improprieties, or just simply going with the current and not realizing where it’s taking you.
When the realization surfaces that you’ve gone off course, one can get discouraged, depressed, and feel immense guilt and/or frustration that they allowed themselves to get to such a place. But instead of allowing those feelings to govern your actions, it’s best to follow these steps to help reset your leadership.
- Realize where you are and strive to be more self-aware. It’s always important to take stock of your current situation when you’ve gone off course and assess where you are. Then you need to understand why it’s occurred and make every effort to always be aware of yourself, your thoughts, and your actions going forward. The higher your level of self-awareness, the more you’ll be able to see those tendencies in your efforts and actions that threaten to derail you again.
- Stop and revisit your core values. Ask yourself “Is this where I want to go, who I want to be, what I want to attain?” If the answer is no, and it usually is when you’ve drifted, then ensure you take stock of your core values both personally and professionally. Sometimes it’s necessary to write them down again, to reinforce who you are and what you wish to accomplish. It also serves as a great way to fortify your resolve to achieve your vision for yourself.
- Reaffirm goals and actionable steps. Next look at what your goals are and what you need to do to successfully meet and exceed them. This will allow you to see what actions are needed to get back on track which will allow you to quickly recover and feel good about being congruent with your mission.
- Establish firm boundaries for success. This last step will challenge you to be more disciplined going forward. You’ll need to establish internal boundaries for yourself and hold yourself accountable to them. you may need to get an accountability partner on board as well as create habits that allow you to more easily keep on track. more difficult is to establish external boundaries with other people. This means letting others know what you will and will not allow to impact your workflow, thinking and attitude. Also creating a method in which urgencies are qualified to determine how much of a priority they truly are is another way to assist you in preventing outside forces from pulling you off track.
The only thing that’s more discouraging than finding yourself off track is allowing yourself to wander in discouragement.
It’s vital as a leader to get yourself course corrected right away and act on these methods to get yourself moving forward. You will more quickly and positively impact others based on how quickly you turn it around as well.