Simple Remote Love

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neon clock

I have a ManCave.   Yep, I do.

It has cool signage like “Eat Bacon”, “Hydrate with Beer” and has an awesome neon clock.   It also has a classic table hockey game, a framed Jaws movie poster, a nice TV and of course, the DVD Tommy Boy (the Holy Schnieke edition). 

But what I love most about the ManCave is the TV remote control.   It’s so… simple.

I don’t have a sound system like surround sound or a sound bar in the man cave.  I have just the TV/ Cable and as such, just the one remote.

What a joy to sit back thinking of bacon and barley and when I want to turn the volume up or down—I just use the remote.  The one remote.  The simple lonely silver remote that turns on the TV, the cable, changes the stations and controls the volume.

Remote controls are by their origin, the birthplace of simple 40 years ago but as you all know, they have become anything but that (don’t tell me about the “universal remotes” out there—I’ve tried those—they don’t do it all no matter what you say).

Upstairs it takes no less than 4 remotes (TV/Cable, Sound, DVD & the TV Standard (to change Input)) to manage wasting hours and hours of your life you will never get back (upstairs is where stuff like “Bridezillas” and “Sex in the City” reruns play). 

Last night in the ManCave during the Red Sox game (Go Sox!) I turned to my wife (she is permitted into the Cave with advance notice) during a commercial break and said “Don’t you love that you only have to use one remote to do everything here?”  She about jumped off the couch and said “Like you would not believe!” She continued with “It’s so simple..I love simple..”

And that’s the lesson today.   In an effort to simplify we often create confusion, frustration and stress.  It’s great to have social media sites simple to use to keep us connected but to have like 11 of them where you need a bloody presence to get through your work or personal life day is maddening.  It’s great to have smart phones glued to your hands but the chargers, the connections, the storage, the email boxes and the updates are maddening.  It’s great to have a quadrillion websites with information, education and tutorials, testimonials, ratings, opinions and pontifications but figuring out which of these quadrillion you can trust is maddening. 

Every one of us I suspect longs for something simple that just plain “works” today.   Something you can find, something you can trust, something that is simple to use and something that doesn’t make you feel like there are 7 more things just like you I have to go check out or “I’m not doing it right”.    

If you can do for a business or consumer what my remote control in the ManCave does – you’ve got a winner. 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

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4 Minutes with Little Miss Dangling Arms

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4 Minutes With Little Miss Dangling Arms

I  am not one of those people.  I write about great service, not bad service.  If I write about bad service it’s usually about how we the consumers aren’t as saintly as we like to believe we are.

But then Monday happened.  4 minutes of shock and awe(ful)

It was so bad it was almost funny.  It was actually funny.  Like out of a movie funny.

I’m not sure of the lesson here today.  Maybe it’s to say that even in a highly competitive market with technology alternatives ( and really, isnt that true for all of us? ) that service like this still exists or maybe it’s just to prove the old adage that you will indeed tell 10 people ( or um..a bit more if you have blog :)) if really bad service happens to you.  Not sure, but here goes.

Monday 11:41 am.

I had to go to this unnamed place.  You’re familiar with it I suspect.  It is a place where you can get a package to someone who needs it.  And boy,  was that ever true.   My 16 year son who lives with his Mom during the week 80 miles away, left his Galaxy S4 Smartphone on my kitchen counter Sunday as we were leaving.  For my son ( and for many of his ilk), that’s like leaving your severed limb in the wood chipper and knowing that in mere hours, certain death will ensue.  

“Hi, I need to make sure I get this package to my son tomorrow, I’m not sure the best way to do it.”

 “Where does it need to go?” she said.

 I gave her the town name. 

“Do you have the zip code?” she said.

“No, I’m sorry – I don’t remember it.”  I replied.

She stared at me.  Slight smile.  Arms relaxed by her side.  She stared at me some more. 

Awkward.  Really awkward I thought.  I concentrated and gave her a zip code that came to mind.  She typed it in.  “Nope,  that’s not it.” 

She stared at me.  Those arms dangling by her side.  Dangling by her side.

Finally I said “Do you want me to look it up?” I asked, as I reached for my IPhone.  I didn’t know what else to do.

She just smiled.

I googled it.  It took 2 sites and 5 clicks to finally get the zip code and I gave it to her.   And yes, as I googled it,  the shocking irony occurred to me.  I am standing in a place where the Zip Code must be King, where The Zip Code is probably an Ebook with a 5 part ethics pledge employees must swear to and where TV shows like 90210 run continuously in the break room.   And I can’t get a bloody zip code from anyone but me. 

And it wasn’t over. 

“Just fill the out the To and From addresses right here on this and it will be $16 dollars. ” she said.

“And when you are done with that,  Ann can help you.” she added. 

Ann?  Who’s Ann?  I thought.   I looked up from writing and then past Little Miss Dangling Arms and saw no one.

Before I could figure out who Ann was,  Ms. Arms slid forward a big plastic sign under my nose that said “Next Window Please”.

I looked left and saw who must have been Ann at that next window with 2 customers in her line. I returned my gaze to my now staff-less service desk and realized my 4 minute transaction would be much more than that as I was about to be getting back in line to Ann.

Heading back to my car after finally getting my son’s smartphone shipped off in an ice packed cooler, I realized the effort Little Miss Dangling Arms took to overtly not help me and make darn sure no one and nothing was getting in the way of her 11:45 am break.  Wow.

Now you know one of the all time lows in customer service.  Not sure how that helps but I think now I know why I wrote it –  I feel better having told um,  let’s call it 10 people. 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

 

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It’s Better Read Than Said

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It’s Better Read than Said

How many of you like pulling VM from friends or colleagues on your smart phones, home phones or work phones these days? 

That many. 

I thought so.

So cumbersome, this voice thing:  So much time wasted listening to the slog of a human voice blathering dozens of extra words around the likely simple intent of the message  added to the process of accessing, listening and remembering what was said ( or worse –lunging for a post it note to scribble it on).

It’s getting harder and harder to find the time out there to listen to the human voice share information.

Why?  Because it’s getting so much easier, faster and efficient to read it.  And type it.  And text it.   And Like it.  And Follow it.   And also to Learn and Share and Refer and Recommend.

We are information hogs, all of us now.  We can’t get enough.   We want information in huge amounts,   And we want it in a way we can save it, retrieve it and share it.    We want so much so fast, that it becomes easier to accept the inefficiency of the human voice and not want to use it or as we more increasingly feel, hear it.  

You need to understand the change here on a couple of levels.

You as a person and an employee should know:

  • When you do talk or leave a voicemail, it better be good and meaningful and compellingly vital because if it’s not- it should have just been an email or post and eyes will roll.
  • Human nature yearns for the sharing of “one to many”.   Everything you might have wanted to say to some one you can say to hundreds or thousands at the same time but without the fear of Public speaking.  That is outrageously attractive to people.  And that’s a powerful thing for your self and your career if you embrace it well.

You as a business owner should know:

  • This is Word of Mouth now.  This is where your clients rave or rage about you.  You must make it easy for your customers to pass along good things about you and your business.  One to one still works but people would much rather “tell 10 friends” except this time they can do it for real in seconds.  
  • You have to be smarter and cooler and more valuable than your website.  If talking with you takes 5 times longer than what the prospect could have gotten in 3 clicks on your website then you are not adding value where you should.  Think hard about what your voice brings to your business.  Think brand.  Think feel.  Think purpose.   Then plan and speak accordingly. 

 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

 

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Punctuation Free (For a Reason)

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Punctuation Free ( For a Reason)

When you look closely, there is no comma, slash, semi-colon, parenthesis or period between the title words “Sales Representative.”  And that’s on purpose.   You have to do both at the same time

You have to sell but you have to represent the company simultaneously.  It’s not one or the other.  You can’t sell for selling sake and set unreal expectations or pound out fishy phone calls or phishy emails because then you are not “representing” the company well.   Conversely, you can’t be all Kumbaya and go harvesting customers with super friendly experiences and never broach filling the unmet needs of the customer. 

There is no comma, slash, semi-colon, parenthesis or period between the title “Service Representative” either.

You have to give great service but you have to represent the company simultaneously time.  It’s not one or the other.  If you don’t take ownership (“I don’t know why they did that in shipping..”) or apologize for real (“sorry that happened to you…what’s your account number?” ) you are leaving an awful impression as a Rep of the company.   Conversely, your reliance on policy or procedure or terms and conditions do little to evoke the “service” part of a service call. 

There is also no comma, slash, semi-colon, parenthesis or period between the titles of “Sales Manager” or  “Service Manager” so you best know sales and service at an expert level and likewise need to know how to expertly support your people at the same time. 

Punctuation between words has its place – a means often to stop, pause, reposition and separate.  But if it ain’t there it ain’t there – that means when the words go together; they belong together. 

 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

 

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7 Things Your Prospect Won’t Tell You

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7 Things Your Prospect Won’t Tell You

 

Whether I, your prized business prospect, is calling you or picking up your phone call, there are things I just won’t tell you.  

 

1) I used to be in sales too.   You’d be surprised how many of us decision makers started out, or are still in, sales.   And I can still smell a trial close, a rotating yes and min/max close from 50 feet away.  Don’t use tricky closes on me.

2) Don’t make me feel stupid even for a second.  I know my world very well – not your world and if you make me feel like I’m an idiot presuming I know or like your acronyms, buzzwords and fast talking pitches- I’m gone;  I’ll just go to your competitors website and read and email- – that way no one has to talk to me.

3) Tell me what everyone else is doing.  I hate to admit this sometimes even to myself but I do want to know what my competitors or even my industry is doing lately and haven’t had any time to dig in.  But I’m not about to go ask you — yet I wouldn’t mind hearing it if you wanted to just shout it out.   Am I missing out on something or some trend?

4) I know more way more about you than you think.   I’ve been to your website; I’ve Googled your reviews.  Heck I’ve Googled you and saw you on LinkedIn and Twitter (or didn’t- and what does that mean?)    I may have seen a few opinions about your company on Twitter already. So don’t waste my time with the basics about yourself – I got it.  I called you because I want something more than the internet can give me. 

5) I don’t expect much from you.   I just never know if you really work for this company I am calling or am getting called from.  Are you a contractor, an outsourced support, brand new employee, who knows?  I don’t have high hopes but if you can assure me quickly you know what the heck you are doing then maybe I’ll listen.

6) I’d rather do nothing.  Seriously, I hate change.  I wish everything I do today would just work better.  Change is costly, risky, takes forever it seems and I am busy enough already.  I won’t tell you that of course.  I’d rather just flat our say no or compare you to someone else or put you off but honestly; doing what I do today is just easier.   If you can’t make me do something “different” and get me to get off the dime and essentially hate what I am doing today- then don’t bother. 

7) You’re 7th on the list.  I respect you dear supplier but my family, my boss, my colleagues, my customers, my pastor and my pets all come before you my trusted partner.  Nothing personal- you can be very valuable to me but everyone else here is getting something for Christmas next year just so’s ya know.

 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

 

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Horrid Phrases

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Horrid Phrases

Don’t know if any of you fly a lot.  I kind of do – at least of late.  At the airport,  there is one phrase gate agents of a certain airline sometimes say ( actually proclaim over the loudspeaker) that just crushes me.  It’s horrid. It makes me instantly hang my head in depression.  It ruins my flight, my day and my mood immediately.

“Our flight is completely full today..”

I’m not a small man; (thankfully not ready for the seatbelt extension just yet) but Lordy, when you hear that phrase, thinking about getting into and sitting in those seats and aisles built for middle schoolers, is now horrid on a grand scale. 

I think there are some other horrid phrases agents of many industries say these days that can give that same kind of instant feel of dread and depression.

OK, let’s see what they did here..”.  Are you kidding me?  As soon as your client with a question hears “they”, the horridness kicks in:   Oh my, you are not in charge.   Oh my, I’m gonna have to talk to someone else.   Oh my, I’m talking to an idiot with no authority.  Oh my,  this place is so big, I’m never going to get the answer.

Can I have your phone number in case we are disconnected?”   It’s 2011! The only disconnections are when someone does it on purpose.  Your client or prospect is in the horrid zone immediately:  Oh please, you want my number to pester me at dinner or in a middle of a meeting to sell me something with your silly outbound program.   Oh please, now I’m in your database and all I had was a darn question.   Oh great, they have crappy phone systems with disconnect issues, can’t wait to do business with them.

Mark”, “Mark” , “Mark”  Yeah that’s right,  my first name.  You say my first name more than twice in a conversation on the phone or face to face and a horrid sickness overcomes me and your customers too:  Oh I get it,  someone trained you to use ” the customer’s first name” often in your calls- that feels genuine!  Oh I get it, you are as slick a sale rep as I’ve ever seen – you make me wanna take a shower.  Oh I get it, you think using my first name a lot makes us like family or brothers and I will buy your stuff- lol!

 

The thing about horrid phrases is the emotions they elicit have staying power.  They linger.  They stick. They can even leave a lasting impression about you or your company as a brand that is as uncomfortable as seat 28B. 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

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Up With Update, Updated, Updating

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Up With Update. Updated, Updating

I heard about a company a while back  that instructs its employees never to say that their computers are running slow.  Instead the representatives say “Our systems are updating….” or “We’re in the midst of updating our systems, it will just taking a moment longer…”  

Nice touch.  Smart too.

We all have system issues at times.  And usually yes, there’s some updating going on be it a new release or upgrades or what have you that slows things down. 

The point is the caller on the other end of the line is feels less tension, more confidence and more patience when they hear systems or computers are being “updated” rather than being “slow”.

The use the word “update” even in the On Hold process:

 “Let me put you on hold to get the most updated information.”

Way better than “Let me put you on hold to find out” or “to figure it out” or some other underwhelming phrase.  “Updated” shows how bleeding edge you are keeping up with things and striving for that up-to-the-minute accuracy. 

I suspect “update” has other uses in your world.  It sounds fresh, smart and on top of things.  Heck we live by the word with our smart phones and tablets as an incredibly necessary thing to be on top of those “updates”.

Have a look around.  Update your language a bit.  Don’t underestimate the value of your customers feeling a bit more comfortable and confident when working with you.   

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

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