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Recently, I had two very different experiences with customer service that proved to be a master class in how to deal with customers.  Both situations concerned lost packages, and I spoke with the shipper rather than the company selling the product.  The difference was stark and provides insights on how a company views customer service.

Company A is a large well-known online store that uses its own delivery personnel as well as other carriers.  Company B is a quasi-governmental entity that delivers to every address the U.S.

Interacting with the companies

With Company A, I was able to chat, submit an inquiry online, or ask for a callback.  The response was prompt.  After explaining the situation (lost package), the company immediately sent me a replacement and extended my membership with them by two months for free for the inconvenience.  They took responsibility for contacting the seller and handling any transactions between them.

Company B only gave me the option of filling out an online inquiry and asked for information that I, as the recipient, did not have.  I received a call the next day and was told nothing could be done until the shipment had been delayed for 30 days.  The person I spoke with said she could help me if the package was lost in the city she was in but since it hadn’t been received from their initial shipping facility, she couldn’t help me.  She suggested that I should just have the originating company send me a replacement.

The results

The first company was quick to address the problem and make it easy on me, the customer.  The second suggested that someone else pay for their mistake by replacing the product, had rules that prevented them from helping me, and ultimately yielded the same result as if I never contacted them.  They checked the box and closed the issue without accomplishing anything.

Which company do you think improved my opinion of them and which one didn’t?  Easy call. I will go out of my way not to use Company B.

What does this mean for you?

As you think about your business and its interactions with clients, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do our processes and policies improve or damage our reputation?
  • Do we make it easy for customer to work with us?
  • Is our goal to check the box or resolve the problem for our customer?
  • Is a customer problem an annoyance or an opportunity to build a relationship?
  • If you were a customer of your own company, would your view of your customer service change?

You can improve or damage your reputation with every interaction with your existing customers.  Which are you doing?  Let OPG help you make improvements.  Connect with us at https://www.linkedin.com/in/cmatt/ or click here to CONTACT US.

Years ago I was helping someone cut down two trees from a clump of trees in their backyard.  The first one fell exactly where we wanted. As we started on the second one, it started leaning in the wrong direction, pointed right at their house.

We stopped so we could hopefully change the outcome.  We assessed our options.  We put ropes in the tree as high as we could to help control the fall.  We were willing to try anything to prevent damage.

And then a gust of wind came in and pushed the tree down in just the right direction so nothing and nobody was harmed.

What we realized after we started was that the tree had all its branches on one side, making it naturally heavy on one side.  As we began cutting, the tree twisted toward the weight of its branches instead of in the direction of the cuts we made.

We were lucky to have a good outcome.  If we had slowed down, we might have seen the potential problem before it became a threat.  We should have noticed it after the first tree came down and we could see the second tree more clearly.  We were executing the plan we made earlier without including new data.

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln.

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln.  The 16th President of the United States knew accomplishing a task doesn’t just mean hard work – it requires preparation.

Cutting down a tree requires a plan.  Coaches have game plans.  Builders have blueprints. Business is no different.  You need a plan.

Step back and reflect on your business.  Evaluate how the markets and environment have changed.  Modify and adapt your goals, strategies, and tactics to adjust to new business realities.  Capitalize on a new opportunity or minimize a risk that wasn’t even on your radar twelve months ago.

You need to update your plans.  And if you don’t have a plan, you need to create one to help guide you through whatever comes your way in the future.

Opal Partners can help guide you through the process of re-evaluating and updating your strategy and plans.  You can contact us here or at https://www.linkedin.com/in/cmatt/.

I was not moving, stuck against a rock and fighting the current.  It took all the effort I had to make progress.  My choices were to figure out a new approach to moving my kayak or getting out and admitting defeat.  I finally leveraged my way into open water.  In that moment, a river, some rapids, and a kayak reinforced the difference between strategy and tactics.

Kayakers know the joy from hitting a set of rapids just right with your boat flowing perfectly through the water and rocks, enjoying the ride, and coming out with your kayak positioned to take on the next challenge.  You also know it takes a lot of work and things don’t always go as planned.

Sometimes you get a little off course.  You underestimated the power of the current.  You didn’t act early enough to put the kayak in position to navigate the rocks or shallow water.

When that happens, you react.  You paddle harder to change direction.  You temporarily get stuck by the current, and it takes strength and willpower to get free.  You may have to get out of the boat and reset.  You may need help from your companions along for the journey.

When you first approach the rapids, you look downstream and assess the path you should take and where you want to end up.  That’s your strategy.  As you begin navigating downstream, you respond to obstacles and successes, moving closer toward your destination.  Those are your tactics.

Business is no different.  You have a path you believe will take you to destination successfully.  As you work toward your goal, wins and obstacles come at you randomly and unexpectedly along the way.  You change your tactics and adjust, keeping your eye on the future. You create a strategy and implement tactics to take you to your goal.  And sometimes you may need to reassess your situation, change your direction, and maybe ask for help.

If you are stuck against the rocks and fighting the current in your business, take a moment and reassess the situation.  How do your tactics need to change?  Would you benefit from help or a new perspective?

Contact OPG if you need help with your strategy and tactics.  http://linkedin.com/in/cmatt

https://opalpg.com/contact-us/

In our bodies, our DNA is the genetic code that makes us unique individuals.  It contains all the instructions needed to build a complex, living, breathing organism.  DNA is the master of each cell and is passed on through successive generations.  Our DNA determines our physical characteristics, and damage to our DNA can cause problems that range from minor to catastrophic.

Your company has its own DNA – those things that make it unique, give it vitality, and must be passed on as it grows.

A business’s DNA is comprised of two components:

  • What we do
  • Why we do what we do

“What we do” describes our ideal customer – the customer we are uniquely set up to serve well maximizing the strengths of our organization.  It also answers the question “why do customers choose us?”  It is your market niche but it goes much deeper and understands why you can claim that niche.

“Why we do what we do” describes you.  It informs the entire team of the passion and purpose that led to the creation of your company.  It defines the values that are present in the organization and must be modeled and protected if the company is to survive and thrive.

Understanding your company’s DNA is the first step in building a strategic plan that works.  Your company DNA guides and defines everything about your business.  Make sure it is defined, known, and used to make decisions.

Many people are re-examining their businesses due to changes caused by technology and the health emergency.  If you want to build a durable, resilient business, your company DNA is your anchor.  It will keep you from drifting wherever the winds blow.  Knowing who you are lets you build on your strengths rather than reacting to circumstances.

Contact us if you need help mapping your company DNA.  https://opalpg.com/contact-us/

http://linkedin.com/in/cmatt

The Brady Bunch sang “when it’s time to change, then it’s time to change, from who you are into what you’re gonna be.”

How is your business going to change AFTER the COVID-19 crisis and things begin to look a little more normal?

You’ve been forced to learn, adapt, and change with some level of success or failure to face the current reality. We are all waiting to get back to normal.

But normal is going to look a little different. Customer and team member expectations will change. New products and services will be born and old ones will fade away.  We may have new rules and regulations.  What worked before may not be sufficient or desirable tomorrow.

The question becomes “How will you make your company better based on your experience during the crisis?”  You need to begin thinking about how you re-envision your company’s future, what your business version 2.0 looks like.

If you aren’t thinking about this yet, you should be. You will have to answer this sooner than you think.

We are here to help.  Contact us at https://www.linkedin.com/in/cmatt/ or https://opalpg.com/contact-us/

People like to be in it, no one likes to be called out of it, and Janet Jackson even wrote a song about it.  What is it?  Control.

It’s natural to want control – to be in command of your life, your destiny, your job, your customers.  And we all realize that there are some things we simply can’t control.

To a degree, we do have some control.  We can control the activities of those in our charge at home, at work, or elsewhere.  We can determine how and when to make investments and utilize capital.  We can chart a new direction and set new goals.

But there are things we can’t control either.  People can make their own decisions that may be counter to your goals.  We can’t stop natural disasters.  Sometimes actions of others come crashing into your industry or personal life.

When it comes down to it, what we cannot control exceeds what we can control.  What does that mean for your business?

It means your strategy must focus on what you can deliver.  It can’t rely on hope or feelings or guesses.

It means you evaluate people and companies by how responsible they are with what they can control and how they respond to the things they can’t.

It means you must guard your reputation and attitude.  In the end, those are the only things in which you are in 100% control and how you and your business will be remembered.

Growth: Can you afford it?

“Grow or die!” is a common, well-accepted business principal. Businesses must innovate, stay relevant, seek new customers, add locations, and offer new products.

But growth brings its own challenges. You have more products/services to support. You need more people. Rapid hiring makes maintaining culture harder. New tools and technology – and the time to integrate and use them – are expensive.

Your bottom line may suffer from your growth!

You may need to take steps to grow your bottom line instead of your top line. Eliminate products/services that aren’t profitable. Eliminate processes or activities that don’t add value. Don’t do things just because you’ve always done them. And, as hard as it may be, let go of employees who no longer fit culturally and don’t contribute to you vision.

Your bottom line profitability ultimately decides if you can afford top line growth and how long you can sustain it.

Read more about the good and bad of business growth here:  https://opalpg.com/2018/08/21/growth-good-bad-ugly/

 

There are three essential elements to a good corporate strategy:

1.  Know yourself.  You have to know who you are and why your company exists.  Everyone needs to be part of a bigger purpose and reason to come to work for you.  It’s the DNA of your company.  As Shakespeare said, “To thine own self be true.”  You can always tell when someone – or some company – is trying to be something they are not.

2.  Know your market.  Understand why your customers choose to buy from you and what makes you unique.  In today’s market, they have choices.  What makes them decide to do business with you?

3.  Decide what you have to do to win.  Set the goals and activities that will get you to where you want to go. 

Companies often think that step 3 is their strategy, but by itself it is incomplete.  It takes all three elements to define your strategy and let it drive your operations.