Is Your Customer Service Killing Your Business?

As business owners, we spend a lot of money on marketing and advertising to bring our customers to our business, but what are we doing to make their experience a great one so they keep coming back and referring others?

Recently, I went to get an oil change at my local car dealership. When I bought my car, I also bought the maintenance package that went along with it so that I could just go in to get service without having to think about it. It seemed like a great idea at the time until I went to use it for the first time. I called the dealership to schedule my service. The operator sent me to the service department where I was stuck in an endless loop of hold music. You know what I mean, it’s annoying, isn’t it?

After several minutes I finally got back to the operator where she told me to schedule online. Ok, I get that, maybe they were short staffed and there was only one person taking care of 6 customers at once. Things happen so I called back later that day and the same thing happened.

I then went to their website to schedule my service the next day. I know a lot about a lot of things but other than how often you’re supposed to get an oil change; I rely on my dealership to help me remember. There were lots of choices, none of which were clear cut to me.

I called the dealership again to talk to a human being and I found myself in the apparently endless no man’s land phone loop AGAIN.  I finally called a 4th time and got an appointment and found out it was time for a tire rotation (this is why I rely on the dealership). Service was fine, nothing out of the ordinary.

Let’s recap, I bought a car, signed up for their maintenance package, tried to use it (4 different times) and it was too hard and took too much time. I finally got my oil change and tire rotation. The actual service is what I expected, nothing that would make me want to send others or tell others about it.

It was too hard to be a customer so I’m going to cancel my service membership and go elsewhere. Some other local business will win my loyalty and consistent business.

Let’s think about this:

How easy is it for your customer to buy from you? If you make it too hard they will go elsewhere.

From a customer point of view, how great is their experience with you? Is it memorable? So memorable that they would refer and tell others?

Are you giving your customers what they expect or something extraordinary? Make sure it’s extraordinary!

What is one thing you’re going to take action on today to move your business forward?

By: Jackie Zach

Check out our blog “5 Tips for Better Customer Service” for even more customer service advice!

Molly BarnesIs Your Customer Service Killing Your Business?
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Compete On Value, Not On Price

Many times, when I meet with a business owner, they ask “why am I not making any money?” The answer may lie in one of two places, they are discounting products and/or services or not pricing their products/services properly.

Discounting

We devalue our product or service when we discount. We are telling the marketplace that our product or service is not worth a high price, therefore, it must be inferior quality. Here are some reasons businesses discount:

  1. Fear – We’re afraid that we won’t get the sale because we aren’t the lowest priced or we’ll lose customers if we raise our prices. Is this true for you? Did you know that if you have a 30% margin and you discount by 10% your sales must increase by 50% to keep the same margin? The first time I raised the prices in my business I was petrified that I would never sell another thing. Lo and behold, no one even noticed. I raised my prices every year from then on.
  2. Lack of Confidence in Quality – Are you confident in the high quality of your product/service? Is it the best or one of the best products of its kind around? If you didn’t answer with a rousing “YES!!!” This may be an area you want to put some focus on in your business.
  3. Our own beliefs – Do you, as a consumer, always buy the product with the lowest price or do you pay more for some things because of their quality or added value? If you are pricing your products based on your buying habits or the size of your wallet are you leaving money on the table?

Adding Value

  1. Who are your target markets? What are their pain points?
  2. What are the things that make you different from your competitors? “Our customer service” is not a good answer because everyone says it. How is the experience different with your company? What are the benefits of working with your products and with you?
  3. How are you solving your customer’s problems? Is it a better solution than everyone else? How will their life be better because they do business with you?
  4. Does your quality stand up to a higher price? If not, what do you have to do in this area to improve your quality?

Pricing

  1. Decide what kind of gross margin you would like to make then price accordingly. Don’t know where to start? Find out the margin in your industry and compare it to your present margin. Is there a difference? Why?
  2. Are you so busy and overwhelmed with work that you can’t keep up? This may be a hint that you are priced too low. The reality is that if your margin is 30% and you increased your prices by 10% you must lose 25% of your customers to affect your margins. With this scenario, you can do less work, make more money and have time to truly work on the things that will take your business to the next level.

What is the one thing you’re going to do today to take action in your business?

By: Jackie Zach

Molly BarnesCompete On Value, Not On Price
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The Journey to EOS® – Making EOS® Sustainable

In my previous blogs, I shared learnings from our May 11th EOS® users group session.  More than thirty Visionaries and Integrators™ (V & I’s) from EOS-using companies shared their experiences and best practices regarding the storms, reefs, and mutinies that can sink your implementation, and how to navigate your business through them to a safe port.

Four key elements emerged in our discussion: Setting the Leadership Team; becoming Open & Honest; achieving EOS Mastery; and making EOS Sustainable. Today we address making EOS sustainable… how do we make EOS stick, and not just another shipwreck on the reef of “stuff we’ve tried to manage the business, and gave up on?”

EOS sustainability is measurable through the Organizational Check-up™ tool. Our goal is to score 80% or better, by the entire team…not just the Leadership Team. When we’re 80%+, it means that everyone understands EOS, and is actively using it to manage themselves, their teams, and the business.

For most organizations, it’s a two-year journey to encode EOS into the company DNA, where it becomes self-replicating and sustainable. Change takes time. Proven, permanent change takes time, attention, intention, and energy.

We identified three areas to focus on to create this EOS sustainability:

  1. Your Functional Departments are using the 5 Foundational Tools to manage their own teams. The 5 Foundational tools are the V/TO™, Accountability Chart, Rocks, Scorecard, and Meeting Pulse™, specifically the weekly Level 10 Meeting™. It’s critical to get everyone working on a Rock each quarter (on their own or as part of a Rock Team), and into some form of an L10 meeting, with their measurable on the scorecard.
  2. The Leadership Team is letting go. Rather than solving every issue that comes up in the Leadership L10, these leaders are asking “do we need to solve this?” Many times, the issue can be moved to the appropriate function L10 to solve. The Leadership Team becomes laser-focused on strategic, growth-oriented issues, instead of playing referee for functions that can’t or won’t make their own decisions.
  1. Developing New Leaders. Functional teams bloom when they see and feel the trust the Leadership Team has in them and their ability to manage their function. These teams also learn when it is appropriate to get the Leadership Team involved. They set their own expectations and budgets based on the goals of the organization. They’re learning and growing as leaders and managers, building a bench of talent to succeed the Leadership Team when needed. These emerging leaders welcome opportunities for executive coaching and development.

If you’re using EOS, I hope you agree that it’s been a transformative and worthwhile journey for your business, and for you as a business owner. If you’re an EOS-using company in southeast Wisconsin, feel free to have your V and I join us for our next event on February 15, 2019, in Brookfield, WI. Let us know and we’ll get you an invite.

Here’s to the journey!

By: Jim Palzewicz

Certified EOS Implementer™

Molly BarnesThe Journey to EOS® – Making EOS® Sustainable
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Writing SMART Goals

Remember our discussion about getting everything you want? In order to get everything you want, you need to set your reticular activating system, or RAS, to help your brain ignore all the extraneous noise and focus on what’s really important.

One way to help you do that is to write your goals as SMART goals. People who get everything they want do not do so by accident. They are very intentional and laser-focused on what they’re going after. The secret to success here is not to just write them down as a SMART goal but to review them constantly.

How do you write a SMART goal? First, you must know exactly how to define a SMART goal. SMART stands for:

Specific

Measurable

Achievable

Results-driven

Time-bound

Let’s take a look at two examples of goals, one using the SMART method and one that does not:

Goal #1: I want to increase my sales this quarter.

Goal #2: I want to increase my revenue $20,000 quarter over quarter with a $10,000 increase in profit quarter over quarter by March 31, 2019.

Regarding goal #1, if you increase your sales by .01 cent anytime in the future, have you reached your goal? When in the future? Does it get you the result you’re looking for? How will you know you’re successful?

Regarding goal #2, how will you know you’re successful? When you reach or exceed $20,000 with a $10,000 profit by March 31, 2019, then you will know you are successful. Anyone who reads the goal knows exactly what success looks like for this goal. Is it achievable? It should be a stretch but not so out of reach that it is impossible. Does it get you where you want to go in 1 year, 3 years, and 5 years? Only you can answer that by having SMART goals 1, 3 and 5 years into the future.

The more specific you can be regarding the result you’re looking for and by when the more likely you will get exactly what you want.

What is the one thing you’re going to do today to put your SMART goals into motion?

By: Jackie Zach

Molly BarnesWriting SMART Goals
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Use Your RAS To Get Everything You Want

According to Dictionary.com, your reticular activating system is “part of the reticular formation in the brainstem that plays a central role in bodily and behavior alertness; its ascending connections affect the function of the cerebral cortex and its descending connections affect bodily posture and reflex mechanisms.”

In other words, your Reticular Activating System (RAS), filters information so that you can process and focus on the most important. Your brain takes in millions of pieces of information that you can’t possibly process at the same time such as the feel of your seat, the temperature of the room, the clicking of the keyboard, the road noise and whatever you’re doing at the moment. One of the best things about your RAS is that it even works when you’re asleep.

Did you ever wonder how some people seem to get everything they want? From far away it seems so easy, right? Well, as much as we want to believe it’s easy, it isn’t. What it does take is intentional focus and discipline and your RAS can help.

How can you use your RAS to help you get what you want?

  • Be crystal clear about what it is you want. The clearer you are the more likely you are to get it. Can you picture it in your mind? Do you know what it feels like when you get it?
  • Set goals around what you want. By writing down your goals, (no they can’t just be in your head) it will help you zone in on what you are trying to accomplish. Your RAS can then work on filtering out unnecessary pieces of information to help keep the focus on your goals.
  • Review your goals daily. Make it part of your morning routine when you get up in the morning or start work. Reviewing your goals daily helps keep your RAS focused.
  • Review your goals before going to bed. This will give you the best shot at having your RAS continue to work on them while you sleep.
  • Break your goals down into smaller more manageable pieces. Take your 3-year goals and figure out what you need to get done in 1-year, then quarterly, monthly, weekly and finally daily. What is one thing you need to do today to get one day closer to your goal?

What is the one thing you’re going to do today to set your RAS in motion?

By: Jackie Zach

Molly BarnesUse Your RAS To Get Everything You Want
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3 Ways To Make The Most Of The Holiday Season

This time of year can be exhausting as the holiday rush picks up, the time changes and the weather drastically cools, but you can still finish the year strong! Here are three ways to make the most of the holiday season:

  1. Review your business plan. What do you need to accomplish yet this year and next? What have you gotten really good at? What can you improve on next? Set a New Year’s Resolution or just start taking action on your goals sooner rather than later!
  2. Show gratitude to your network. Make sure those you interact with regularly know you are thankful for them. It’s always the right time to say “thanks” for being a part of my network. This time of year is meant to be celebrated too so celebrate your wins with those around you!
  3. Tell people what’s new with your business, and if you’re meeting someone new, tell people about your business. Let your people know what’s new with your business at the annual get together, visit with your spouse’s coworkers, and even your always eager to visit relatives. You never know where your next lead will come from and who they might know that needs to know you!

There’s still plenty of time to finish the year strong and to work ahead on next year’s goals. Don’t use the holiday season as an excuse to slide through the rest of the year. What is one thing you are going to take action on today to move your business forward?

By: Molly Barnes

Molly Barnes3 Ways To Make The Most Of The Holiday Season
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The Journey to EOS® – Achieving EOS Mastery

In my previous posts, I shared learnings from our May 11th EOS® Users Group Session. More than thirty Visionaries and Integrators™ (V & I’s) from EOS-using companies shared their experiences and best practices regarding the storms, reefs, and mutinies that can sink your implementation, and how to navigate your business through them to a safe port.

Four key elements emerged in our discussion: Setting the Leadership Team; becoming Open & Honest; achieving EOS Mastery; and making EOS Sustainable. Today we address EOS Mastery.

We discussed how success with EOS begins with the leadership team mastering the EOS Foundational Tools™:

  • Accountability Chart: the key here is to keep working it until you get it right. One EOS company was on version 12 of their chart.  We say that EOS will “speed up the inevitable”…you’ll quickly find out if you have the right leaders in the right seats. Then it’s time to take action and make changes until the entire leadership team believes you’ve got it right.

Another learning was to then let go, stay in your lanes and let the function owners make decisions. This is easier to say than do. We realized that letting go is a process, and sometimes it’s easier than others to let go. Again, keep working on it and give the team permission to call out the Integrator, Visionary or owner if they’re out of bounds.

  • V/TO™: We agreed that this is the best tool to keep everyone on the same page with where we’re going and how we’re going to get there. Never lose an opportunity to share it with the entire team. Don’t skip sections; each of the 8 Questions is there for an important reason. If you’re struggling to decide on what goes in a box, you may have found something key that is holding you back. Get outside help if you need to and get clear on your vision and your plan.
  • Rocks: Choosing great rocks is both art and science. It’s a skill, so keep working to get better. We shared how important it is to be crystal clear on what completing the rock looks like and what the deliverables would be. Understanding our true capacity in a quarter is also critical to not choosing too many rocks.
  • Scorecard: Getting to a scorecard we love takes time. Our best practices include reviewing it regularly. Zero in on the handful of metrics that are most meaningful, and discard the ones that feel good to see but don’t tell us much as to the future performance of the business.
  • Level 10 Meeting™: Again, a work in process. We stressed the importance of finding the right leader for the meeting (it doesn’t have to be the owner or Integrator). IDS™ can be difficult to master as a skill, and we found that getting the entire leadership team to fully participate is key to solving issues once and for all, for the greater good of the company.

If you’re using EOS®, I hope you agree that it’s been a transformative and worthwhile journey for your business, and for you as a business owner. If you’re an EOS-using company in southeast Wisconsin, feel free to have your V and I join us for our next mastery session on Friday, November 2nd in Brookfield. Let us know and we’ll get you an invite.

Here’s to the journey!

Jim Palzewicz

Certified EOS Implementer™

Molly BarnesThe Journey to EOS® – Achieving EOS Mastery
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Welcome Back To Business Season

With State Fair over and Labor Day weekend just around the corner, it’s back to business season. Where on earth do you start to find motivation for the rest of the year just after saying goodbye to summer? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Schedule a team meeting. Talk about your wins, your challenges, what’s currently going on or coming up that everyone should know about. Getting your team together is a great way to create team synergy and get everyone on the same page. It also helps create momentum. Bring snacks, drinks, anything to make it fun.
  • Plan something to look forward to! This one always works for me, having something to look forward to will motivate you to get your “stuff” done.
  • Get some exercise. As entrepreneurs taking time for ourselves always gets pushed to the end of our to-do lists. Make the most of the beautiful weather and the lasting sunshine. You’ll be so glad you did.
  • Spend time evaluating your customer service with your team. This is a great exercise to schedule quarterly. Customer service should be under continuous improvement. As part of that effort, ask a friend to stop by and report on their experience, reevaluate the ease of maneuvering through your website, have a brief conversation with a client. They’ll appreciate that you respect what they’re saying.
  • Think about your own mindset. Are you in a great frame of mind to get back to business? Get excited for what’s coming and see beauty in the season. When you feel confident and really truly believe in yourself, that’s when the real magic happens!
  • Review your financials. Yes, we totally get it, most business owners want to avoid this one, but you’ll be glad you did in the long run! How are things shaping up for the rest of the year? What changes do you need to make?
  • If you want something to look forward to, we, of course, recommend registering to attend one of our many complimentary events and workshops! You’ll spend a few hours with fellow small business owners and entrepreneurs as you exchange challenges and ideas, and meet our coaches! We guarantee you’ll leave with at least 3 things you can go implement immediately, and breakfast or lunch is always included. What have you got to lose?

“Fall” in love with back to business season – your business, team, and customers will all be thankful for it! What is the one thing you are going to take action on today?

By: Molly Barnes

Molly BarnesWelcome Back To Business Season
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The Journey to EOS® – Becoming Open & Honest

In my previous blog, I began to share learnings from our May 11th EOS® Users Group session. More than 30 Visionaries and Integrators™ (V’s & I’s) from EOS-using companies shared their experiences, learnings and best practices regarding the storms, reefs, and mutinies that can sink your implementation, and how to navigate your business through them to a safe port.

Four key elements emerged in our discussion: Setting the Leadership Team; becoming Open & Honest; achieving EOS Mastery; and making EOS Sustainable. Today we address becoming Open & Honest.

One of the most interesting and challenging parts of the journey as an EOS Implementer™ is watching a leadership team get open & honest. Open minded to other’s opinions and perspectives, transparent with where everyone is coming from. Honest in “just say it”, calling out the elephants in the room everyone sees but nobody wants to address. For EOS to be successful in your company, you must be open & honest, or you’re just going through the motions and preserving the artificial harmony everyone thinks they want but doesn’t solve anything or move the company forward.

Open & Honest comes from a leadership team trusting each other. We shared how trust-building is a process, and we’re never done. We must keep making deposits into trust accounts with each other, to cover the inevitable withdrawals that occur when we let each other down (that human being stuff!). Companies that have trust within the leadership team intentionally build trust-building exercises into their Quarterly and Annual Pulse meetings. Trusting teams like to spend time together and will create other opportunities to do so regularly.

Are you calling out the real issues? One way to know is if the dumpster fires get put out. If they keep coming back, you’re not yet dealing with the real issue. Transparency of the V & I is critical to the team’s willingness to solve the real issues. If the V & I are not willing to share critical information or “go there” themselves, it makes it difficult for the rest of the leadership team to do it. Being vulnerable as leaders and trusting the team to solve the real issues is easy to say, and takes time and attention to get there.

More to come on the other two aspects of the EOS Journey. If you’re an EOS-using company in southeast Wisconsin, feel free to have your V & I join us for our next mastery session! Let us know and we’ll get you an invite.

Here’s to the journey!

Jim Palzewicz

Certified EOS Implementer™

Molly BarnesThe Journey to EOS® – Becoming Open & Honest
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5 Tips for Better Customer Service

I have asked hundreds of business owners, “What makes your company the best at what you do?” Every answer I get includes, “We give great customer service.” Why do all business owners say they give great customer service yet one of the biggest complaints from customers is that they have received mediocre or bad customer service?

Here are 5 tips to make sure that the customer service you are giving EXCEEDS expectations:

  1. Look at your business from your customer’s eyes and experience – Start from the first point that the customer becomes aware of you (marketing) and work your way through the sales process and how you treat them after they’ve become a customer and beyond.
  2. Make it easy to buy from you – I walked into a big box cell phone store and the manager said that depending on my issue, the process could get complicated. Why is it complicated for me, the consumer? Buying from you and solving issues should be easy for the customer even if it means that it is more complicated for your business. If it is too hard to buy from you people will go elsewhere, which I did.
  3. Continuous Training on Customer Service – How often are you training, observing and providing feedback to your staff. It doesn’t matter if you serve external or internal customers, continuous focus and training will pay you back in reputation, referrals and increased sales.
  4. Give your customers more than they expect – Your customers may love what you do but they will expect you to get better and better the more they buy from you. What are you doing in your business to give customers more than they expect? They should not be just satisfied when doing business with you, they should be delighted.
  5. Treat your customers as if they were the most important part of your business because they are – Do your customers feel important? Do they feel valued? Remember, 68% of customers leave a business because they feel that no one cares. For those of you who remember the show Cheers, each time Norm walked into the bar, the bartenders and patrons called out, “NORM!!!” He even had his own stool. Where are the “NORM!!!” moments during your customer’s experience?

If you’ve read this and thought, “we have a lot of work to do”, the good news is that you can start by taking action today. Start with a smile and work your way through the list. If you feel as if you have a pretty good handle on the above, take another look. If your customers are the most important part of your business, they deserve the very best you have to offer.

By: Jackie Zach

P.S. – Have you listened to Coach Jackie’s podcast, “Your Business Coach Podcast” yet? You can find it on Stitcher, iTunes and iHeart Radio podcasts, or click here!

Molly Barnes5 Tips for Better Customer Service
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