Technology is growing at an exponential rate; we truly have no way of keeping up via traditional means when it comes to tracking. Organizations struggle to stay focused, struggle to maintain, and struggle to provide systems and services that meet their business objectives. The shift in how business gets done is making it more and more difficult to maintain profit margins and business lifestyles that most are accustom to.
Today’s I.T. Strategic Planning is shedding its skin and taking on a new look and meaning. Ramping up I.T. staff is no longer the norm; reducing I.T. Teams and virtualization is; it allows organizations to be more financially responsible. CIO’s have a tougher time justifying their existence, the role is becoming more and more extinct, and is easily handled without the large investment in overhead. As much as it pains me to say that, I have to accept the new landscape of how Information Technology is implemented and managed. There’s still a need for CIO’s in large organizations but new companies are building streamlined teams, technology allows for startups to have fewer management roles. This new model allows for higher profits and less management of people.
Customer service is making a huge shift in what it means, Customer Service or Support is NOT fixing or adding a new feature, it is about Communication and Solving problems. This gap is hurting far too many businesses, they need to pay attention and listen to what their customers are saying about them, what they want from them.
Small businesses are literally taking a fetal position when it comes to understanding the change taking place, that the Internet is empowering the individual rather than the large organization. The power of the person has been lifted to a level no one saw coming, all because of the Internet. The Internet is the game changer; the Internet was and is clearly misunderstood by the smaller Mom & Pop businesses. The Internet solved the problem of digital distribution, this is an Access Based Economy where we click to get. The transition for small business can be easy to most difficult, undertsanding technology or how technology will help them is the key.
If there ever was a need in your local marketplace it’s helping those small business understand that they won’t be able to continue as they have and enjoy the life they hoped to build when they opened the doors. More importantly, those business owners need to learn about humility, be willing to say they don’t understand and do indeed need help with the Internet. Most small business owners had an Entrepreneurial Seizure, they thought because they knew how to do the work they knew how to run a business. I recommend reading Michael Gerber’s book, The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It (Amazon Affiliate Link) to get a clear understanding of what I’m referring to.
Today a couple of things scream for attention in my humble opinion:
1. Listening – Listen to what is being said about your brand and or business.
2. Filtering Content is more important than creating it.
Listening & Filtering Content are two key factors to your Social Media success, small & big businesses at large still haven’t grasped these two concepts with any kind of clarity.
We are in an Extreme Reputation Economy, popularity is becoming a Social Capital, and it will be as valuable as real money in the coming months if it hasn’t happened already. How you present yourself, your product, and your business will generate a reputation, take the time to craft your reputation.
What do you think?
My Lawn Mower stopped working a few weeks ago, I was kind of happy because that meant I didn’t have to cut grass 🙂 The down side to not cutting the grass is that it got to a point where the yard looked like Hillbillies lived there! Weeds took over and gave the place a look I’ve not experienced before, so I had to solve the broken switch in my Lawn Mower STAT! Well, the switch was the most likely thing to be broken so I’m starting there.
Before I share with you my Customer Service That – FAILED story, let me share with you an experience I was impressed with when I broke my shoulder in the 1st week of July. As some of you know I was doing warp speed on the soccer field, a guy got a breakaway and my 20 year old brain (I’m 51) said,” you can catch him”, so off I went! Oh ya, I caught him, kicked the ball away and then clipped his back foot and down I went, what should have been a tuck & roll became a SPLAT! So there ya have it, I knew it was broken by the sting, I’ve had broken bones before so I knew how it felt. I took a slap shot between the eyes as a young hockey player once too, the guy shooting the puck was Gord Cochrane. Yep, the NHL goon back when he was just playing Junior in the 70’s but that’s another story for another time.
SAVE-ON FOODS STORY – Customer Service That PASSED!
After a couple weeks of cabin fever I took the risk of driving, had to wear a sling so it was interesting. This particular day I went to the grocery store, SAVE-ON FOODS just down the hill from me, about 6 kilometers. I went in early thinking I wouldn’t have to deal with a busy store, I forgot a quarter to get a cart so I went to the Customer Service desk and asked for one. Lorna at the desk asked me what happened to my arm, nothing I said, I broke my shoulder. She then asked me if I needed someone to help me get the cart, being a man I said NO! So I wondered outside to get the cart, low & behold there was Lorna coming out the door asking if I was OK. Yep, thanks for coming to check I said. Once I got in the store I started down a couple isle’s and at the end of one isle was Lorna, can I push the cart and help you shop? Now I’m not used to this kind of treatment from a local grocery store so I’m taken back a bit. I said no thanks and continued on with my shopping.
I got home and went on with my self-pity because I couldn’t lift things and do what I wanted so I called my wife to chat with her a bit. My lovely wife happens to work for a company where SAVE-ON FOODS is a customer, I shared my story of Lorna, my wife then told one of the big Kahuna’s at SAVE-ON about Lorna. I merely said that this is the way customer support should be and I would speak highly of Lorna always because she went the extra mile when most wouldn’t. Lorna works at store #904 in Abbotsford, B.C., Canada at the Sumas Exit, if you ever have to get groceries that’s the store that gets customer service right. I hope that the BIG Kahuna rewards Lorna far beyond what they normally do for their staff because Lorna deserves it in my humble opinion. I Thank You Lorna for blessing me with your kindness and willingness to serve.
BLACK & DECKER STORY – Customer Service That – FAILED!
Now, let me share my Black & Decker experience with you. I told you about the switch I needed for my Lawn Mower earlier, I went to Black & Decker’s website thinking I could order the part from them in ten minutes and I would be back cutting grass in a few days. WRONG! I was able to search and find the model of my Lawn Mower and was even able to add the part (switch) to the shopping cart so it wasn’t all bad until I tried to checkout. I clicked on the Checkout Button and I was sent right back to the beginning to search for the part again. I admit I did that three or four times thinking I missed something. Then I thought oh crap I must have really screwed up now and have to wait 24 hours before I can try again. Some carts in the past would force you to do that so I waited till the next day. Short story is it failed once again and did the same thing. As you can probably tell I was getting frustrated, I went to the FAQ’s and help part of the site which solved absolutely nothing, in fact it sends you to another company’s site for support. I also tried to use the Service Center Locator search tool on the site, it asks for the country and ZIP code, I click on the drop down list and select Canada and then put the Postal Code in. Guess what, it wouldn’t accept the Postal Code, it only accepted ZIP code’s, it did let me select the correct country though. At this point I had enough and decided to phone Black & Decker’s toll free number to try and buy this part. That did work 🙂
I got a cheerful lady on the phone with a nice southern drawl in her voice, I shared my challenge and she said I couldn’t order the part and they wouldn’t be able to ship it either. Say what? Why I asked? You are in Canada. OK, is there a place in Canada where I can get Black & Decker parts for my Lawn Mower? Where in Canada do you live was the next question, Abbotsford, B.C. about 40 miles East of Vancouver. Yes, we have a service center in Vancouver. I asked if there was one out in my area and she said no only Vancouver. I got the phone number of the location in Vancouver and proceeded to ask about the part, I got a guy named Dan on the phone, I then asked if they had a location in my community, why yes he said. I got the number for the location in my community and I was told they had the part! EUREKA!
Now the system on the Black & Decker site flips you back & forth with DeWalt’s site to actually get support and parts here in Canada. It may even do the same thing in the USD but I wasn’t able to test that today. I would suggest to Black & Decker that their website is a prime example of a site that fails in customer service. There should have been an error, a pop-up or a message that said something about what was happening. I should have been able to find a location using the Service Center Locator by letting me use a Postal Code and then a message telling me to contact Yadda Yadda in Canada instead of NOTHING!
I can’t imagine customers putting up with that kind of support and continue doing business with them, Black & Decker, you better pay attention and fix your failing system and failing grade because you won’t like what may happen to your business. I’m just one person who tried to buy a part for a Lawn Mower, I spent far too much time on the company website trying figure out how and why it wasn’t working and then 3 phone calls later to actually find a location that had the part. You are making your customers Work Far To Hard Black & Decker! STOP IT!!!!!