One of my favorite comedians is Bill Engvall, who does the “Here’s Your Sign” gags. According to Wikipedia, “Engvall describes people who ask questions to which the answers should be obvious, and in the process, Engvall shows these people to be stupid. With the tag, “Here’s Your Sign”, Engvall then metaphorically gives these people a sign declaring their stupidity as a warning to others interacting with this person.” (e.g. “A couple of months ago I went fishing with a buddy of mine. As we pulled his boat into the dock, I lifted up this big ‘ol stringer of bass and this idiot on the dock goes, ‘Hey, y’all catch all them fish?’ Nope. Talked ‘em into giving up.”).
Just as Engvall metaphorically awards people’s signs of stupidity, other arenas of life give off similar warning signs that can be just as easily identified if we’re paying attention.
As business managers and/or owners, we all like to think we’ve got a pulse on employee morale, which is a critical component to how successful a business is. As someone who makes a living knowing what makes customers loyal, I know for a fact that if a business’ employees aren’t happy, chances are that business will not have happy customers. Front line employee interactions with customers can make or break those customer experiences. Unhappy customers lead to fewer repeat customers and referrals, which eventually impacts the bottom line.
Yet occasionally, even the best business owners and managers are guilty of becoming overly absorbed with a particular issue, burying their head in the sand in response to a problem or just being too darn busy to pay attention. They may miss those signs that should warn them when dysfunction is stealthily creeping into their corporate culture, ready to apply a long, slow choke-hold that will lead to revenue decline.
So, in case you haven’t been paying attention to your corporate culture lately, here’s your sign!
1) If you haven’t changed with the times, here’s your sign! If the higher-ups at your store continue to do things because that’s the way they’ve always been done, or if they refuse to consider a new technology or marketing program because “we sold plenty of cars twenty years ago without that,” they need to get with the times. Today’s marketplace is very different than it was twenty years ago.
2) If you change with the times every week, here’s your sign! In contrast to never changing with the times, some managers change direction every week based on an article they read, a suggestion from a friend, news that a competitor is doing something or even just on which way the wind blows. Sending employees scrambling in a different direction every week is counter-productive. Set long term goals, set programs and processes in place and stick with them for at least six months to give them a chance.
3) If it takes too long to get stuff approved, here’s your sign! Efficient businesses demand efficient processes. If it takes a committee to get anything approved, or if employees aren’t following the processes in place, it’s a problem and there’s probably a reason. Do your processes need to be reviewed? What’s really slowing down employee productivity?
4) If you’re not rewarding your employees for innovation or hard work, here’s your sign! In general, it’s fair to expect employees to do their job without complaint. But if someone comes up with an innovative idea, or if an employee delivers results that you know must have taken extra hard work, reward them! Nobody wants to work somewhere if they don’t feel appreciated.
5) If you have high turnover, here’s your sign! Now I realize that the retail and automotive industries have higher turnover than most, but why is that? If you have more employees quitting than are leaving because of lay-offs, chances are there’s something wrong with your corporate culture. What is it? Conducting exit surveys is one way to find out, or it may just require a little digging.
Fostering a positive work environment makes for happy employees, which in turn leads to happy-and loyal-customers.
Have you taken a close look at your corporate culture lately?
What do you think are signs of poor employee morale?
Sainsbury’s has this whole Twitter thing down cold. Earlier this week, popular U.K. blogger October Jones complained that his chicken sandwich from the grocery chain “tastes like it was beaten to death by Hulk Hogan.” The company’s official PR account promptly responded: “Really sorry it wasn’t up to scratch. We will replace Mr. Hogan with Ultimate Warrior on our production line immediately.” (If you’re not a child of 1980s pop culture, you can rediscover both of the poultry pounders here). Completing a nice Twitter tandem, another Sainsbury’s corporate account replied with a phone number for Jones to call and said the company sincerely regrets that “you had to wrestle your way through the sandwich.”
Sainsbury’s is proving quite responsive to all sorts of unconventional customer complaints. Earlier this year it pledged to change the name of its Tiger Bread to Giraffe Bread thanks to an online campaign that began with a 3-year-old’s letter.
Source: AdWeek.com, May 29, 2012. Author, David Griner.
What would your reaction be if you were October Jones? Would Sainsbury’s use of humor satisfy you, amuse you or make you even more disgruntled?
How you tried to use non-conventional response types (like humor) to customer complaints? Did they work?
In what ways does this major retailers’ example lead you to evaluate and potentially change the way you interact with your customers on social media platforms?
Their story is who they are, what they’re about and why they work for you. Their story will help your dealership be more human. Being human will get you more business, earn you more referrals and create untold amounts of customer loyalty.
Why is humanity important you ask? Why is oxygen important? Both are imperative, the former becoming even more so the more we move towards a customer-driven economy. People want to do business with people. They want to do business with people they like, know and trust… with people, with humans. Are you human?
By becoming more human you give your customers a reason to like you, a way to know you and allow for the creation of trust.
Here’s an idea for showcasing your humanity: allow your employees to tell their story. What I mean by that is let them create videos and share with the world who they are, why they work for you and what kind of place the dealership is. This gives the people who obtain service at your dealership insight into who the woman that changes their oil is, who the guy is that fixed their starter and why they both love working at your dealership.
Don’t stop there though! Every employee should be given a change to tell their story. How many kids do they have, how long have they lived in the community, where did they go to school and why are they working at your dealership. The idea behind this is that you don’t want your customers to just to do business with ABC Motors, but with Becky and Mark, Ryan and Samantha.
Remember, the difference between traditional advertising and social media is that traditional advertising is all about the marketing of the business, where social media is all about the marketing of the PEOPLE of the business. In other words, it’s time to market your humanity. Why? Because people want to do business with other people, not with a faceless machine.
Source: PersuasiveConcepts.com, April, 2012. Author, David Johnson.
How have you empowered your employees to share who they are with your customers?
When you receive reviews from customers about specific employees that helped make their experience more enjoyable, how do you reward these employees?
How do you encourage your employees to go above and beyond traditional service to create positive, memorable interactions with your customers?
There is no denying the influence of social media on the way that we as human beings communicate on a daily basis. The impact of the digital age will be felt even more in the future if things continue on the same path that it is currently. Not only have we been put in contact with each other like we have never been before, businesses are making the most of social media networks as well. Since the majority of people in the country are constantly on social media sites at all hours of the day, companies have realized that they have a whole new market to reach. But how do they do it without shameless promotion? With social media sites like Facebook, companies from every industry are gaining from a new-found connection with their customers. Since people are constantly updating their activity streams and current states of being, businesses are also able to update their clients and loyal customers with special discounts, offers and marketing endeavors.
A really great thing about being able to do this is the fact that they can connect with their customers in a more timely manner. People are connected through sites like FourSquare, Twitter and Facebook and enjoy the intimate bond that can be formed directly with owners and managers of businesses. Social media networks open the doors to new types of customer experiences by connecting you with them when they are a few feet away from your stores. Many companies have interactive collaborations with social networks in order to bring customers special discounts and notifications of new opportunities at any given moment. Many social media networks are accessible by such devices as the iPhone, Android and Blackberry, which give companies a 24-hour window for advertising to the countless masses.
Sites like Facebook allow artists, like Alicia Keys, to reward the loyalty of their customers and fans by allowing them to listen to their new albums before anyone could even buy it. Not only does this provide an exciting interactive experience for the fans, but it allows for new ways of self promotion in the music industry. FourSquare is the first choice in loyalty reward programs for many. They send out information to smart phones anywhere that people find themselves shopping. This means not only that the company sending the notification will have an increase in sales, but the specific location that customer is pointed towards will directly profit from this type of marketing. For companies that offer many common products to the masses, this means that they are able to maximize the exposure to their target audience like never before. For many customers, this type of marketing brings a new and innovative way to shop and be entertained in the modern age.
Social media is changing customer loyalty programs also by identifying problems through monitoring what people are saying about their brands. They can join the conversation to show that they are listening, to clear up miscommunications or to add clarifications. As an example, Rackspace Cloud Sites have had problems where Robert Scoble acted as a channel of information to their customers on what is happening in real time. Instead of having to wait for quarterly reports to see where a company shines or is in need, they are now able to have instant response as to the impact of that particular promotional project or product. The amount of time and money wasted before is astronomical, and in retrospect, was a very unnecessary expenditure.
Having the ability to track their customers’ behaviors and patterns in buying gives companies priceless information about ways to further market a particular angle. Sites like Zappos have been building more personal relationships with their customers by allowing their employees and executives to communicate directly with the public and marketplace.
If this is a sign of things to come, we have a lot to look forward to here soon.
Source: Customer Loyalty Institute 2012, customerloyalty.org.
How has the development of social media impacted your business? Your marketing efforts?
What type of developments to you project on the social media marketing front in the next 5 years? 10 years?
The National Business Research Institute (NBRI) recently published an infographic detailing why customer loyalty is important, what customer loyalty is, the problem or disconnect between businesses and their customers, the solution for improving customer loyalty and the future of “customer delight.”
“Customers are a business’ most important asset, without them the business wouldn’t exist. So it’s imperative to keep these customers happy and improve their loyalty to your business,” NPRI explains. “We created this customer loyalty infographic to help you not only understand it, but to help you cultivate that loyalty among your own customers.”
We found NPRI’s presentation of the importance of customer loyalty in today’s economic society not only helpful and insightful, but easy to digest with specific details that would apply in a variety of business settings.
What details included in this infographic surprised you?
Where do you think your business falls regarding the problem and the solution?
When considering that the decision-making process is 30% logic and 70% emotion, how do you feel that affects your business?
What can you change to help improve your customers’ loyalty?