Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Best Brand Claim-Integrity!

Many companies overlook the simplest ways to satisfy and retain customers. They often spend exorbitant amounts of money on branding campaigns that make very aggressive claims to the public. Slogans like the best, the greatest value, and number one flood all types of media and make us believe that those are the values of the advertising company. We as consumers typically adhere to rule number one rule of marketing; we respond to promises geared toward our tastes and preferences and we head straight toward the source of these promises.

Companies create heightened expectations that appeal to us personally and when we don’t find those claims to be true we feel violated and even betrayed. Appeal to us on the basis of price and you better have the best price, appeal to us in the basis of service and you better SERVE.
Simple disciplines like effective communication policies that include responding to customer concerns go a long way. If customers take the time to tell you about their service experience it means they are open to resolution. Many unhappy customers simply jump ship and never comment or give retailers a clue about their dissatisfaction. You must respond in a timely (and accountable) manner or their business will be gone forever.

Next, honour your promises. Period. I often think of a leading local retailer that has a slogan that reads “you pay less”. I never pay less when I shop there. They are not even close to a low price retailer, so why tell me that? Tell me that they are conveniently located (which they are), that they have a wide variety of products (which they do) and I will come. Don’t trick me. The money that I have to spend is a result of employment that requires a basic level of intelligence and I can also read. The point is: tell your market the truth and honour those truths in your business practices and I argue that you will attract and retain customers consistently.

I remember telling a young man that was a part of one of my sales teams to “do what you do, and do it well, without fail”. The advice was actually for his then new relationship but certainly applies to the relationship between buyer and seller. Trust is important in any relationship and in these trying economic times consumers need to believe in your company and your products more than ever. We are challenged to do all that we have to do with time being the greatest commodity that any of us can possess. Waste our time making us run around and like any relationship, we will leave for good.

Be true to your customers and they will be true to you and reward you with their continued patronage and a steady stream of referrals.

Friday, July 30, 2010

no to blue hair and nalis in the workplace!

I find myself tying to figure out why someone would want blue hair or nails. There is a local television programme that features a young professional woman who wears a wig with a huge blue fringe. Her character is an editor of a women’s magazine and she should represent the image of the young, upwardly mobile corporate woman of today. Unfortunately, she does actually represent many young working women.

Hair color and makeup are supposed to enhance your natural features and I have yet to meet a human with blue hair or blue nails,unless attributed to some strange fungus or medical condition. I have been in meetings where people find themselves more engrossed in the appearance of a participant than the content of what they have to add. This is particularly true as the choices some make in terms of their personal appearance become more and more extreme. I recently saw a man with a corset piercing in his neck. I couldn’t focus on what he had to say but rather the pain he must have endured to get that thing. The point is why create distractions to your competence and contributions when they can be avoided?

I am not saying that young women must abandon their personal styles, but rather adapt to the expectations of the workplace. I can fondly remember a time when I would opt for a leather bikini top and a pair of ripped jeans to attend a party. Fortunately for all, I do not chose such an ensemble any longer and certainly not when I am consulting with a client. Social dress differs greatly from what is essential in the work environment.

I want young woman to err on the side of conservatism much more. When in doubt, wear something understated until you have an opportunity to gauge the environment. When starting a new job give yourself a chance to be evaluated by what you say and, not by what you wear. Once you have added to the overall tapestry of the organisation then you can make your mark, modestly, by expressing your personal style.

Be sure that the message you send with your appearance is consistent with who you are, your accomplishments to date and does not hinder your ambition!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Value other people's time

What does it say about you if you are always late? If you are always unable to organise yourself to be where you agreed to be at the time you agreed to be there? Plain and simple, it says that you do not value other people's time.

When someone sits and waits for you to arrive (beyond the customary ten or fifteen minutes grace period) you force them to think about many things. First, they think for a split second that they might have made a mistake with the time or date but then quickly realise that they didn't. Next, they think that something unfortunate may have happened that often sparks genuine concern for you. As time progresses they then start to "feel" a continuum of emotions that settle somewhere in the vicinity of carelessness and inconsideration on the part of you, the long-awaited and untimely guest or visitor.

By demonstrating personal irresponsibility about time and forcing your intended guests to experience such a roller coaster of thoughts and emotions you are actually declaring your own disregard for self. When you are incapable or unwilling to empathize with others as a result of your tardiness, you are actually exposing your deeply rooted belief that you are not worthy of their time. By waiting for you, they are unknowingly meeting some displaced need that you have for attention and concession on the part of others.

Next time you are running late or have the potential to make someone else late think about the messages that you are sending. Be considerate of the fact that others value themselves and may ultimately value "you" more that you value yourself by agreeing to meet with you.

Pity for those that are cursed with habitual latecomers that they are destined to overvalue these inconsiderate individuals until they take a stand.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Don't pile up at the office cafeteria buffet!

I had coffee with a colleague yesterday whom explained her frustration with a new crop of interns and their abuse of the buffet-style company cafeteria. She explained that they over indulged and invited friends to come for lunch at the company's expense.

I am in the business of training people in key areas of professional development and know all too well how office behaviour, including lunch choices can impact your movement in the corporate world. Many of the key aspects of your behaviour that are being evaluated are unspoken and while you may not be aware of their impact, others around you are quite aware of them.

A few lunchtime no-no's include:

Piling up your plate (or over flowing your drinks) at any office function. Your judgement about your own behaviour greatly demonstrates your potential judgement (or the lack thereof) in making appropriate business related decisions. This is particularly true if you make poor choices in the presence of external customers of the business and reflect the harm that you may cause in such sensitive business relationships.

Bringing odorous take-aways or lunchboxes to the office. Yesterday's dinner may have been great (particularly with the extra garlic) but be assured it will not be a hit in the open-plan office after you reheat it in the shared microwave and parade with it to your work station. The workplace is supposed to be well ventilated and free from such types of distractions to ensure maximum efficiency from all during working hours.

Overdoing the alcohol at lunch or the office social event. You really don't want to be remembered as the one that did that dance on the table or repeatedly lost their train of thought in clear view of members of senior management. Remember that office functions are designed to provide you with critical networking opportunities, not to get you smashed so you can embarrass yourself profusely.

Inviting friends to the workplace. The office environment while increasingly more "social" as a result of longer working hours is not an appropriate place to entertain your friends. There really isn't any reason to invite a friend over, certainly not to allow them access to any company resources, be it a computer, parking and definitely not the "not so free" lunch buffet in the cafeteria.

Remember that your behaviour is speaking volumes about you, even when you don't say a word!

Bon Apetitit!