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Work/Life Balance December 31, 2007

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Work/Life Balance.
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p5130012.jpg  More profits!! Work/Life balance has become the mantra of some management consultants. If we could just get our people to balance their focus at work with their focus outside work we would have more productive, happy employees. Well, this may be true. I really don’t know and a whole bunch of other people don’t know either! Just like many other characteristics of people, work/life balance is personal and as a manager you need to customize your approach to helping people achieve the work/life balance that works for them. It is easy to find a list of potential benefits and costs associated with work/life being in balance or out of balance. Here are some examples:

Benefits — In balance

  • Wider perspective, more creativity
  • Less stress
  • Better relationships
  • More focus
  • Achievement
  • Enjoyment
  • Feeling in control
Costs — Out of balance

  • Fatigue
  • Stress
  • Relationship impact
  • Moody and difficult to work with
  • Dissatisfaction with results
  • Drudgery
  • Overwhelmed

 If you are seeing the benefits, then you have an effective work/life balance. Just keep doing what you are doing. If you are seeing more of the costs, then here are 10 tips to help you bring more balance to your life. 

  1. Keep a log of your activities and eliminate or reduce unproductive activities.
  2. Set clear delineation goals — what time will I leave work today?
  3. Set aside time to do personal reflection.
  4. Join a car pool — this forces you to leave or you miss your ride home!
  5. Share the load; delegate some work to others.
  6. Let someone else take the “hot” tasks.
  7. Apply effective planning to both work and life.
  8. Focus on the most important parts of your world.
  9. Choose your assignments; learn to say no!
  10. Investigate the use of technology to automate some of the tasks you are doing.

 Take a look at your work/life balance. Ask yourself this question. Am I satisfied with the result I am getting today? If the answer is yes, then you are on the right track. If the answer is no, then think about implementing some of the 10 tips above.

Delivering Superior Customer Service: The Grand Hyatt of Tampa December 14, 2007

Posted by David Dirks in Buzz Marketing: Lowest Cost/Highest Payoff, Increasing Your Profitability, Keeping Your Customers, Uncategorized.
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dirksphoto.jpgI’ve just witnessed/experienced a text book example of delivering on superior customer service. At the moment, I’m in Tampa awaiting a flight back home, wrapping up a three day business trip. I’ve been staying at the Grand Hyatt in Tampa during this time. The hotel is a living & working model of creating and delivering consistent superior customer service. By the way, ‘superior’ customer service is defined in my book as that level of customer service that is so obvious that you’d have to be dead to miss it. It’s a level of customer service that you recognize the moment you’re picked up at the airport to the hotel until the time you check out.

Any business, large or small, intent on delivering superior customer service quickly recognizes that it’s your ability to pay attention to the ‘small things’ that makes the difference. It’s the ability to continuously aggregate small but significant ‘moments of truth’ that build on one another during a customers experience with you.

Here are a few examples of the Grand Hyatt in Tampa delivering on superior customer service:

1. Every, repeat, every interaction with any level of Hyatt employees in this hotel was delivered in a consistent fashion. The always friendly smiles, personal & friendly banter, and the constant scanning for opportunities to serve are just a few examples of superior customer service. On the last point of scanning for opportunities to serve, everyone on the staff is trained to find ways to help hotel guests enjoy their moments there. Hotel employee’s are not hiding from guests. Some are even strategically posted around the common areas of the hotel and are constantly scanning the area for opportunities to help customers.

2. The Grand Hyatt has figured out how to insure that all employees are trained effectively to deliver customers service when they are in the line of duty. That’s not an easy thing to do but the Big Dogz do it all the time and invest in it deeply. You can’t create a superior customer service experience by skimping on constant training.

3. It’s clear to me, as a guest of the Grand Hyatt, that they have figured out how to monitor customer service levels constantly. They have to be great at spotting team members who could become the weak link in the customer service chain. Their response to less than superior customer service performance is probably two things: a) retraining the team member and/or b) showing them the door.

4. There were no lulls in the delivery of superior customer service. I noted that no matter what the time of day, early morning or late at night. They, like many of the Big Dogz who are best at this game, have built into their people, culture and business processes, the ability to deliver superior customer service CONSTANTLY, 24/7.

We have choices in our business models:

– deliver awful customer service all the time

– deliver mediocre customer service all the time

– deliver inconsistent customer service all the time

– deliver superior customer service inconsistently

– deliver superior customer service all the time

I could go on and on but you get the idea. There are no ‘secrets’ to consistently superior customer service. It takes a coordinated, dedicated, and well invested focus on the part of everyone in your business, no matter how big or small. By the way, superior customer service has many advantages. Here are a few:

– Creates a ‘buzz’ around your business. The Big Dogz who execute on this are able to create such a high level of service that their customers are a key part of their marketing and sales process. Built in. No extra cost other than your investment of time, money, and intellectual capital on keeping your customer service ‘superior’.

– Allows you to keep your pricing at higher levels. Your customers will come back again and again for the experience. They won’t generally take the next lowest cost provider. They value the customer service experience they get. It’s a loss to them when they can’t get it, for any price.

– Attracts the best and the brightest. No one wants to work with a second rate provider of customer service. Who wants to work for a business who doesn’t care about providing superior customers service? Answer: People who don’t get hired by places like the Grand Hyatt in Tampa.

Is it easy to create superior customer service? No. However, if you want to build a business that will stand the test of time and profitability, you have no choice. Do it.

Getting requests completed December 10, 2007

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Getting requests completed, Uncategorized.
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p5130012.jpg  Getting results! How many times do we make requests of others and they do not respond. They agree to do what we ask, but there is no action. The Big Dogz know how to get people to keep their commitments by using a three step process. Here it is: 

1. Make your request with a benefit identified In my previous post on the action principle, https://growingmybusiness.wordpress.com/2007/09/28/105/ , I addressed how to get someone motivated to do something you want. First you frame the request around something important to them. Most people will agree to do something if you show them the personal benefit of doing it. When they do what you have asked, thank them and you are done. If they have not done what you asked, go to step 2. 

2. Reiterate your request and include an offer to help. When you have not seen the results you requested, it may be because the person does not have the resources, knowledge or time to do what you ask. In some cases they may just have forgotten you asked them to do it. The Big Dogz know that people are not just ignoring you, they may need some help. Approach the person and remind them of the previous discussion and their commitment to you. Ask them if there is some way you can help them to do what you ask. This help could be a reminder, some resource, the time to do it or just an explanation of how it is done. Be sincere in your offer of help. Provide whatever help you commit to provide and when they do what you have asked, thank them. If they still have not done what you ask, then move onto step 3. 

3. Reiterate the request and identify the consequences. Again, you have not gotten the result you wanted. Meet with the person again and identify the consequences of them not doing what you ask. In providing consequences, it is important to remember that you must be willing and able to carryout the consequences. Too frequently we identify consequences that are considered idle threats or consequence not appropriate for the lack of action. Prior to having this discussion, rationally develop the consequences rather than reacting during this meeting. Most likely this person will have a set of excuses that will possible upset you. Listen to them, but be firm in identifying the consequences. When they do what you have asked, thank them. If they do not do what you have asked, apply the consequences. You may need to do this step, each time escalating the consequences, until you get what you have asked.  

By following this simple three step process consistently, you will send a strong message to people that commitments to you are taken seriously. You will even find that when you use step one to make your request, people will immediately respond with what assistance they need to fulfill your request.

Experiment with this process over the next thirty days and start getting a higher rate of success with your requests being completed. 

How Do I Keep My Key Sales Accounts? – 3 December 8, 2007

Posted by David Dirks in Managing Sales Accounts.
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dirksphoto.jpgWhat or who are the potential threats to your ability to keep your key sales accounts?

What are you doing to insure that they stay at a distance from your key sales accounts?

Here’s a scenario that plays out more than you think:  You’ve got a great customer account.  They order from you exclusively and regularly.  They’ve been a key account for a long time now.  You know the family.  You know the kids.  They are solid customers. Then, one day you wake up and they are gone.  Vanished.  Went over to ‘those guys’.  How can they do this to you?  For all you’ve done for them over the years.  Special pricing.  Immediate delivery.  Twenty-four hour servicing.  How could they?

You missed it.  Something changed and you missed it.  You find out later that they were being wooed by one of your top competitors for many years now.  It’s not that you didn’t know about it.  You just didn’t really think you had to do anything about it.  You had them for all those years…what more could you have done?

Sometimes, you just lose good accounts for reasons you cannot control.  Maybe one of the ‘kids’ is now in charge of purchasing your goods or services.  You can’t control everything, all the time.

It’s easy to get very comfortable with your sales accounts that provide the bread and butter for your revenue and profit streams.  And that comfort-level is what can kill off a key account.

What does all this mean?  You have to get out of the comfort zone and don’t take anything for granted.  Don’t assume anything when it comes to key accounts.  Always be on the edge. Look for more ways to deliver what they need better, faster, and cheaper.  Remember, they are not your family.  They are running a business first.  So are you and I.