Archive for training

Endangered customer; customer service, Richard Shapiro

8 Steps to Guarantee Repeat Business

The other day I stopped by Lowe’s to have some keys made. Nice greeting by the clerk at the checkout counter but when I got to Aisle 13 not a soul was in sight. I walked around looking for an associate and, not finding one, I yelled, “Anyone here to make me some keys?”

A head poked up behind a counter in the hardware section revealing a sales person who walked around to the key desk, where I was standing. No hello; no “sorry to keep you waiting.” Another customer soon approached him and asked a question.

My guy just threw up his hands and shrugged. I jokingly told the other customer, “He’s the key man right now.” No smile or acknowledgment from the key maker. Read More→

Ideal Clients: What Every Business Wants

My colleague Jeff Simpkins recently wrote a post, Ideal Clients, that was quite touching in its definition of an ideal client.  Jeff is CEO of Community Bank Consulting and Book Yourself Solid and here is what he said:

I am currently leading a group through a program called Book Yourself Solid.  The program is based on the book of the same name written by Michael Port.  I have modified the work for community banks and am seeing amazing results!

I have been a teacher/instructor, consultant/coach for nearly twenty years.  One of the things I love most about my work is when I am reminded how helping others be successful teaches me as much or more than I am teaching them.

I was working with someone earlier today on an exercise in which we describe our ideal clients.  Here is an answer I received:  “When I am working with an ideal client my heart overflows with warmth and love for them.”

It’s sometimes easy to forget that we do our best work when our hearts overflow with warmth and love!

Wishing you only ideal clients!

Internal Communications Strategies for Web-Savvy Employees

CEOs don’t always walk the talk when they claim that employees are the company’s most important asset.  If that were the case, employees wouldn’t be using social communities on the web to find what’s going on in the company.  So here are several strategies to focus employees on the company’s goals through the company’s own communications network.

1.    Build a world-class, global employee communications function aligned with business strategies and goals to oversee the development of a culture of communication.  Make the director part of the management team.

2.    Create a Champion Program to ensure that the CEO is the visible leader of communications with employees and to ensure that senior management embraces and lives employee communications through appropriate rewards and incentives.

3.    Create communications processes that ensure two-way communications and that embed culture changes throughout the company.

4.    Provide training, tools and support for managers, who are the key influencers and drivers of success (or failure) of the company’s plan.  Nothing is more important than consistent communications between managers and their direct reports.

5.    Put in place measurement systems that track employee satisfaction with internal communications.  And see what employees are saying about the company on social networks so that you can adjust your communications strategy and messages.

Above all, speed is of the essence.  Nothing moves news faster than the internal grapevine.  So keep information flowing regularly and get news out quickly, feeding the grapevine with the company’s own version of events.

Juicing Up the Annual Report

[tweetmeme]Spring is coming and so is the avalanche of annual reports that public companies send to their shareholders.  And, as usual, most of them will be as dull as dishwater.  Think about it.  When was the last time someone told you he had curled up in bed with a good annual report to read?  Not likely, unless sleep was the primary motivation. Annual reports can be real dullards.

In an effort to avoid offending any of the organization’s constituents, not step on the toes of regulators or in the rush to get the darn thing out, the people who produce them for a living often take the easy way out.  Change the wording a little of last year’s CEO’s letter, revise the financial charts, drop in photos of the new trustees, add a dollop here and there of new initiatives, and that’s it.

It’s time for a new take on these angst-producing documents that so often lie dormant in the storeroom after the initial distribution.  Years later, musty copies are still taking up space.

We need to look at the annual report more strategically.  How can it advance the goals of the organization?  How can it support the sales team or development director?  Who should be involved in the process of defining the content?   Who will most benefit from an annual report that demonstrates the dynamic nature of the organization, its vision, and its role in society?

Make it sell

The report should very strategically position the organization as the leader in its space, developing new paradigms of products and services.

In creating the annual report for a nonprofit in the healthcare field, I worked closely with the director of development to understand his needs so we could present the financial results and new strategic initiatives in such a way that it would be easy for him in personal meetings to walk potential donors through the report, hitting the high spots to pique their interest and open their wallets.

Use Testimonials

Use testimonials from the company’s customers and employees to bring the vision statement to life.  Let them tell the reader what a great company this is.

So, if you’re assigned to create this year’s annual report, how do you ensure it accurately represents the organization and has a long, active life after it’s been printed and distributed?  Here are my suggestions:

•    The CEO needs to be involved from the get-go.  Do not even think of hiring a writer or design firm until you have met with the CEO to understand how s/he wishes the organization to be positioned in the document. S/he cannot delegate this discussion to someone else.

•    Armed with this information, write a creative platform that describes the overall theme and tone of the annual report, its content and “look.”  Get the CEO to sign off on it.

•    Meet with key people in the company or organization who would most likely use the annual report throughout the year such as the head of sales, director of development, director of public and community affairs, and so on.  Get their ideas of what they would like to see emphasized in the report.  Find out what would make them use it during the year to help them achieve their goals.

•    Make a mock-up of the report, page by page.  It doesn’t need to be fancy. Take some legal paper and fold the sheets in half.  It’s essential to know the content of every page and ideas for photos, charts, etc.

•    Now you can meet with your design firm and writer, if that’s not you.  Everyone should be working from the approved creative platform and mock-up.  Believe me, they will love you for it.

•    Show two to three designs to the CEO with the mock-up.  If you’ve done your job right, s/he will have a tough time picking out the winner, because s/he will love them all.

Be true to the creative platform as you go through the process of developing the report.  Be excited as it begins to unfold as a living, breathing document that will take on a life of its own for a year.  Don’t be afraid to be a little gutsy with the copy and design.  You’re not creating the next Bible, after all.

While your readers may not take your annual report to bed, at least you can be confident they won’t fall asleep at their desks as they read it.