The Internet Is Killing The Brick And Mortar Stores?

One thing that I continue to hear is that the internet is killing stores all over the country. The biggest excuse I hear for the demise of brick and motar stores is that the internet is more convienent. You can sit at home and do all of your shopping online while eating cheetos on your couch. This maybe true as far as being able to sit on your couch and shop. Let me ask you a question, have you ever order something and the wrong item arrived? I’m pretty sure I know the answer to that question. Let me ask you one more question, what do you do when you get the wrong item? That’s right, you have to re-package the item, drive to the post office, unless you have Amazon prime, then wait another 2-7 days for your corrected item to return. Would’nt it just be easier to drive to the store pick up the item and go home? Why would you want to wait days before you get the item you purchased, are we that lazy? I do not believe that everyone who shops online is lazy by any means, but I do believe it is a way to make sure you do not have to deal with the grumpy person behind the counter or scavaging through the store to find what you are looking for. Did you know that Amazon, the king of online shopping has hundreds of brick and mortar locations? Did you also know that they established those stores after they became an online giant? Why would they do that, the money is in online shopping, it’s more convienent, it’s easier…right? Some of the the reasons previously stated may be true in some cases, like buying the charmin toliet paper you have used for the last decade, it hasn’t changed. Most companies like Macy’s, Sears, Carson Prairie Scott, and JcPenny have online shopping, just like Amazon. This begs the question, why are they still struggling? Multimillion dollar companies have given you the same convience as Amazon, but none the less they continue to falter.

People love to shop, there is no question about that, it is how they shop that makes the difference. If you continue to go to the same store and receive the same crappy experience, you won’t go back. If this continues with other businesses, you then turn to online shopping. That doesn’t mean you do it for convienence, you do it to avoid a bad experience. Companies that go above and beyond for their customers to create the perfect experience and atmosphere still have a great customer following. Nordstroms is a perfect example of how a business can be successful with minimal marketing, in comparison to other retail businesses, and not see a downturn due to the online shopping boom. Portillo’s is another company that even during the 2007-2009 economic downturn was still opening location after location. Costco is one of the largest retail giants and they are packed with people everyday, they even have online shopping, it’s mind blowing that the interenet hasn’t caused them to shut multiple locations. I think I have made my point. These companies that I have mentioned all have one thing in common that makes them successful, customer success. When was the last time you walked into a Nordstrom and had a bad experience?

Putting your customer first is the most important thing a company can do, customers keep your doors open. What tends to happen, is we don’t train or hire the right people to interact with our customers. The front of the house is just as important as the numbers you review everyday to see how your company is doing. If you have been on a downward slide don’t blame the internet, look at how your customers view your business and try to see what has changed or what you can change to be more customer centric.

Handling The Different Types Of Customer

The world is full of all types of customers. You have your great loyal customers, the price hunters, the never satisfied, and we can't forget the I know everything customer. All of these customers take a different approach to earn their business, except what we like to call the two percenters. The two percenters will never buy from you regardless of how well you do your job and exceed the standard customer expectation. There is light at the end of the tunnel, with every customer you work with, you should always be able to learn something from each experience. 

The great loyal customers believe in every aspect of the experience, from the first impression all the way to the end of the sales cycle. As long as you do your job and follow the process, you should be able to lock this one down fairly easy. You can't get complacent when you realize what type of customer you have in front of you. It is just as easy to lose them as a customer as it is to keep them as a customer.

Your price hunters can be great loyal customers, as long as they feel that you bring additional value to the deal. Now, you're not going to knock it out of the park because you will need to adjust your pricing, but they will continue to return to you and pay just a smidge higher for the add value. If you recognize this type of customer quickly, your approach should change drastically. Building value in everything is how you're going to lock down this customer. Customers like this tend to know exactly what they are getting into, they have researched every bit of your industry and they are prepared to do some heavy negotiating. By building value in your business and company beliefs, you will be able to justify a higher price within reason. 

Customers who are never satisfied will still choose to do business with you depending on how you handle their complaints, uncertainties, and criticism. You will immediately realize this type of customer. Keep in mind they still are in the market for your service or product. Building value is always a must. In this case that is not the focus. You need to be sympathetic to their every issue, not agreeable, that will get you into trouble. These customers always have a bad experience, everywhere they go there is something that they will not be satisfied with. You can still make them a customer for life if you treat them with care.

It's interesting when you deal with a customer who "knows everything". They like to put off the illusion of intelligence so they can try and intimidate or impress you. I like these customers, they are probably the easiest customers to seal the deal with. Let me explain, all you have to do is make them feel like they are right, be agreeable and show excitement. This bolsters their pride and makes them feel like they are on top of the world.

You maybe thinking by the end of this article that we are judging a customers ability to make a justified decision due to manipulation, this is only one way to look at it and not a good way. The whole point of customer success is to make people feel how they want to feel. Who are we to deprive them of what makes them feel good. Tailoring you attitude, personality, and verbiage is an ability that needs to be mastered. It is not manipulation , it is the art of creating a customer for life. We need to understand our clients needs, attitudes, and how they base their decision on who they are going to give their business to. Focus on your customer and who they really are. This will truly connect you with your customer and allow them to open up and reveal their needs. 

 

 

Customer Success Is A Need In Every Industry

The term Customer Success started in the IT industry and has not yet made its move to any other industry. I believe this is do to the idea that people believe that customer success is just a re-branded name for customer service, this couldn't be farther from the truth. Customer service is part of every industry and so should customer success. 

Customer service is generally the front line of a business in regards to customer/client relation. Customer service representatives field phone calls or addresses the customer/client when entering your business, they generally have no ability to solve issues on their own. How many times have you had an issue when working with a customer service representative and they had to get permission or a manager to handle the situation?  Customer service is almost a laughable term, because you can have good service, bad service, or mediocre service, it is all customer service. When you break it down, it is service that deals with a customer, hence customer service, not customer success. 

Customer success envelopes your entire business and the customer experience. Customer success focuses on things that are generally overlooked or not even thought of that have some type of impact on your customers experience. Let me give you a couple of examples, if your company offers a drink to a client, hopefully it's cold or hot depending on the drink, do you have napkins that you wrap around the drink so the customers hands don't get wet or a heat cover for coffee so they can be comfortable holding their drink? What about the chairs that you offer a customer/client to sit in, are they comfortable, do they have stains on them, are they torn and discolored? How about giving your employees some guidelines to resolving issues without having to ask for permission or getting a manager. Wouldn't this be easier, efficient, and provide a better experience for your customer/client? Things like these are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to customer success. You may be thinking that these are all common sense things and if they are, then why do companies not address them? 

Customer success is not just for one industry or one company, it is a need for everything that is business. You need to make your customers/clients comfortable in your place of business and know that everything that you do is being judged by your potential or current customer/client. The things you think that don't matter, are the same things your customer/client is paying attention to, no matter how small or insignificant they seem. 

 

An Open Letter To Management

Having worked with many different companies, management are generally the ones to have push back when someone mentions change. Let me elaborate, managers who have been in their role for years tend to have a little hesitation when it comes to applying a new thought process. Because of their given years in their industry, they believe that their way is the best way. Now I am not saying that all managers think this way, but generally the ones that do, are cemented in their industries and do not want change.

Change is an integral part of success; we adapt to keep up with the changes in our given industries and to our new line of employees. The workforce landscape is entirely different now then it was 10 years ago, heck, even 5 years ago. What we are seeing, is old school management styles collide with the new workforce. Managers and leaders of a company need to bring the value of teamwork to the table. You hear teamwork mentioned all the time yet it is rarely implemented in a team fashion. Teams work together, striving for the exact same purpose. Old school managers preach this act time and time again but do nothing to sustain the team mentality; constantly pitting people against each other expecting the friendly competitiveness to increase their sales. You can create a fun competitive environment that exemplifies the team mentality, as long as you do not play favorites. 

Playing favorites I have found happens when managers have old school ideologies. Managers or team leads will come up to me during my consultation and whisper how good one of their employees are. Generally this is caused by what I like to call, "hand holding". Managers taking a special interest in one or two employees and go out of their way to make sure they succeed. This goes completely against the team mentality. Other team members watch the hand holding take place and feel put out, causing disconnect and lack of motivation. Companies with high turnover tend to be the worst when it comes to playing favorites. 

Managers who choose to operate with such carelessness tend to have other issues besides the inability to adapt. Managers with this type of mentality have a hard time not being in control of every situation, micro managing. The problem with micro managing is that it does not allow an employee the freedom to get things done any other way then the person over them telling them that it's not the right way. This is where that team mentality comes back into place. If you are a manager that constantly micro manages your employees, you may never find a more effective way of doing things. Managers still need to be open to learning and trying different things. Employees can be a great asset to a company as long as they are allowed to be. Teamwork is not just for the bottom dwellers but every part of the company. If everyone worked together in the company and traded ideas, that company could be unstoppable. Unfortunately, there are still people in positions that cannot adapt to change. These are the same people who will keep your business from progressing to a higher level. 

Leaders not bosses, help their employees grow not only on a professional level but on a personal level as well. Leaders continue to learn and listen to those who help drive business. Be the Leader your employees inspire to be and watch the growth and magic of your business unfold. 

 

 

Is Customer Success A New Thought Or A Lost Art?

                Customer Success Consulting and Managing is somewhat of a new thought. Companies have worried so much about customer acquisition that they have forgotten about customer retention. The important difference between the two, customer acquisition cost more than retaining customers. Companies want to get everybody they can in their door yet won’t do everything they can to retain them. This is a problem for most companies as their focus is primarily marketing to new customers and seemingly forgetting about the ones they have.

Customer retention is one of the most important aspects to building and keeping your company in the green. Customers that continue to go back to the same business will spend more than a customer that has never been there before.  New customers will be weary to spend excessive amounts just because they do not know the business they are working with. Where your loyal customers will have no problem spending, they have worked with you before, they are comfortable. If loyal customers spend more and require less, then why do companies not focus on retaining them?

There is an idea that companies can grab a majority of the market if they market to everyone. This is not a great way to do business if you are sacrificing quality. Companies generally start marketing to a certain type of customer which builds their success. After the company becomes successful with a certain market they want to branch out to grab more of the market. They forget about the customers that made them successful in the first place. Companies want to expand as quickly as possible without thinking of what can happen if they forget about their foundation. This ultimately leads them to spreading themselves thin and losing their foundation customers.

It is important to understand the value of one customer/client. If treated right, these customers will be your free advertisement via word of mouth and referrals. This type of advertisement is better than the commercial or ad in the paper, it is the ultimate advertisement. People trust people when it comes to working with a business. Companies need to treat every customer like they are the most important part of their company, because they are.

If you need help increasing your customer success and sales, Tier One Consulting specializes in this area. We help businesses create and build on their foundation for long term success. Contact us for a free consultation to start building your customer success.

It's The Little Things That Matter

As a whole, we tend to overlook the little things to make the customer experience better. Things like, putting a napkin around a drink so your customers hand doesn't get wet or folding their newly purchased clothes so they don't get all wrinkled, these are just a couple of examples of the little things.

Companies focus heavily on producing a number and not an experience. This has lead major companies to value quantity and not quality. There is nothing wrong with trying to hit a number as long as you are not sacrificing quality. Keep in mind, quality is in the eye of the beholder. Customer experience is what drives customers/clients to return to your place of business. Things like holding a door open for a prospective customer/client makes a difference. Offering something to drink while conducting business is also something that should be done. If you add up all the small simple things we can do to make the customers/clients experience better, you would be surprised at what type of impact it will have during the purchasing decision. There is only one problem.

We are trained to think that if we offer the lowest price that we will automatically earn someone's business, this is not a very accurate train of thought. Cost cutting has become a major problem, companies trying to compete based on price find themselves loosing money and not retaining the right clientele. People who look for the cheapest price have no loyalty when it comes to a business, they will always look for the cheapest price. These are not the customers your company should attract. You should be attracting the customers/clients that want the experience and knowing that you are there specifically for them. This will create loyalty, great customer base, and profitability. Isn't that what we strive for?

By creating a consumer friendly atmosphere, you will notice a dramatic change in your business. Your employees and customers/clients attitudes will change for the better. When you walk into your business you as an owner will be happier knowing that the service you provide is top notch. Your customer flow will be smooth, your profitability and customer retention will increase. If these are the things you want out of your business, change your mentality.

If you would like some help or an outside opinion of your companies customer atmosphere, we here at Tier One Consulting LLC can help. Let's make your business stand out from the crowd!

Is It Financially Irresponsible To Have High Employee Turnover?

I think it's funny when companies hire multiple people at once in hopes that a few of them will stick around for the long haul. This is a terrible business practice that has been going on for years in various industries. The problem,  if you hire multiple people at once and spend money to train all of them without really digging into who they are, you are wasting your companies money, especially if your turn over rate is higher than average. You also risk the employment of those who have been around for a while ie... unsatisfied due to limited sales, decrease in pay if your commissioned based, or the veteran who is waiting for their raise that sees money being wasted.

It is financially irresponsible to have a continuously high turnover rate. Think about it, if you are using additional resources and time to train people who are not fit for the position then leave after a month or two, wouldn't that be a waste of money? Companies who need to fill one or two positions hire ten people to fill only those positions, why? The thought, you do not know what you are getting when you hire someone, so the law of averages come into play. I firmly do not believe that this is the best practice. You have to take the time and energy to figure out who fits the part and the team, then train them to the best of your ability. Hiring a rash of people and giving them mediocre training can also cause a high turnover rate.

When you hire someone make sure you are giving them all the tools to do the job. In a world were hands on training is minimal, you can expect a minimal out come. Instead of using videos to explain something, take the time and do it yourself. We need to invest every resource we have into the people we hire and try not to leverage the law of averages. Think about all the money a company looses by the mass hire and fire routine. Invest in your company by investing in your employees.

The question that needs to be asked when a company has a high turnover rate, how does this affect the customer experience? Customers expect a professional and knowledgeable staff. If your company is constantly training and hiring new employees, where does the knowledge and professionalism come into play? It doesn't, it causes distrust among your prospective clients, it could also cause a bad or not so great experience. Your company needs a strong core to operate efficiently and effectively.

If you expect to grow your numbers and profitability, it is counter productive to higher a mass of people expecting to get the desired results, especially when the training is minimal. Instead focus on growing the people you have. If your operation grows and you need more employees, the focus turns to hiring the right person and giving them everything you have to make them successful. This will create a happier work space, a happier new hire, and decreased turnover. Your employees are only as good as the people hiring and training them.

 

 

The Positivity of Failure

What is failure? Is it not being able to close a deal or is it something we just thought we would succeed at but didn't? Failure is a funny thing, in most cases people view it as a step back or something they will never get over. I do not believe in failure, I believe that failure is an opportunity waiting for a solution.

We can take failure and turn it into something positive, as long as we view it that way. It is hard to overcome failure or even a mistake. Failures and mistakes are only such if we do not learn from them. There is always something to gain when things don't go the way we planned, they are learning experiences. Albert Einstein said "the world as we have created it is a process of our thinking, it can not be changed without changing our thinking". This is a vital thought process to transforming failure into a positive situation. We need to change our thinking so we can continue to learn from our experiences.

The next time you feel like you have taken a step back or made a mistake, learn from it. Know that everything has it's purpose. As long as we can continue to strive towards our goals with a positive manner, anything is possible. If you want it bad enough, you will figure out how to make it happen. Remember, failure is only something that happens when you give up.

Being A Leader Is A Lifestyle

The term leader is often paired with being successful in a business setting. While that may be true to some extent, it is not the case. You can have the title manager or leader, that does not mean you are a born leader. Being a leader is an attitude and lifestyle choice.

The characteristics of a leader extend far from a business setting, leaders live a certain lifestyle. If you go into a leaders house or go out to dinner with them there will be a commonality, organization. Everybody knows what organization is right? Leaders organize entirely different, they organize for efficiency and effectiveness, especially in their everyday lives. Leaders do not believe in chaos or unstructured atmospheres. Leaders have a firm grip on what they want out of life and live their lives accordingly.

A leaders attitude is their utmost strength. They believe in the power of positivity from start to finish. There is never a step back in a leaders life, it is only a lesson to be learned. Progress starts with the attitude and then comes everything else. A leaders motivation is an extension of their attitude, motivation does not come naturally, it is a very disciplined attribute that allows us to move forward in the face of failure.

As business professionals it is important to know the difference between a leader versus some who thinks they are a leader. How someone acts toward other people and their employees is the easiest way to tell who the true leader is and who wants to be a leader. Leaders do not overreact in the face of difficult times, if anything they excel.

Teamwork makes the Dream work

I believe the title says it all, but we are going to dive into what it actually means. In sales or any business, people become over competitive and forget what really makes the business run. There is nothing wrong with being competitive, you just can't let it rule you so much that you forget the purpose. 

There are so many companies that focus on individual numbers, which in part they should, but focusing on an individual number versus a team number is where I think things go wrong. Companies run better when everyone is on the same team and not just looking out for number one. Sales environments are especially vulnerable to the "I" mentality. They are generally lead by managers who believe that the only way to succeed is if there is a competitive environment that pushes people to compete against their co-workers. If you hire the right people this will naturally occur. It is okay to compete against each other but to reach the goal it takes a team. Creating a super competitive environment can cause segregation of your co-workers intern causing a disconnect in your team. Competition is a great form of motivation on an individual level.

You need to create a team environment, whatever industry it is. You win as a team and you lose as a team. In the world of business there is only one goal, growth. You grow your company, you grow your profit,  or you grow the size of your team. If you want to grow as a business, build a team. Teams work together to achieve one goal and they have one purpose. If this is the message you project to your employees Tier One Consulting guarantees you will notice an increase in overall production, a happier work atmosphere, and individuals willing to help each other achieve success. 

Want to increase the production of your team or need a boost in your sales, Tier One Consulting offers a one time free consultation.  Let us help you grow your dream.

Don't be a CRM dummy

In the waves of technology we have become very lazy and reliant on technology. Don't get me wrong, I love all of the new technology but it does have it's down sides, especially when we have systems that tell us when and how to contact a potential client. 

We use CRM systems everyday to catalog our potential customers into certain categories. I can remember using a rolodex to accomplish the same thing that the new CRM systems do, but better. Why would a rolodex function better than a CRM? It is not that it functions better but a rolodex didn't make us lazy. We are so reliant on what the CRM wants us to do that we have forgotten how to really work a potential client. We use email templates that the company has put in place versus sending out personalized emails to our clients. They even tell us what day and time to contact a customer.  Some even goes as far as to give you a phone script to use during your conversation with a potential client. It has become a full disconnect from our potential clients, like we are robots just doing exactly what the system tells us to do. 

I recently inquired about joining a certain leadership team and immediately got an email about my inquiry, it was system generated to let me know that someone would contact me. I receive a phone call by the representative, the conversation was a little disconnected and more of a phone call to try and set up another phone call appointment, I went along. We had set a time to reconnect a couple days later due to my scheduling. The very next day the same representative calls using the exact same script to try and schedule a phone call appointment. I let him finish his phone script and then informed him that we had already set a phone appointment for the next day. He apologized and told me that his CRM was a little off. He was solely reliant on his CRM when it came to conversation and his follow up of a potential client. That being said, our phone appointment was scheduled for the following day. Again reliant on his CRM, he did not take into account that we were in different time zones, he called an hour late. Of course I did not pick up due to scheduling, at this point I had lost all interest in joining this leadership team. What's funny, I received an email stating that he had left a voicemail and is now reaching out via email. I had been having issues with my voicemail for about a week and no one could leave a voice message for me at the time. Once again, he was so reliant on his CRM to do his job that he was just like a robot, doing whatever his CRM told him to do. 

It is important to understand that CRM's are only as good as the person using them. CRM's are based on a system doing a set job for everybody, you get out what you put in. They can be used as very effective tools in the right hands, but can also cause people to become lazy and ineffective. Just because the system does half the work doesn't mean you should be half a sales rep. 

 

 

Hiring a consultant isn't just for struggling companies

A few months ago we got the opportunity to meet with a top ten company in their franchise. With 286 stores competing against them, they had managed to stay at a consistent top ten status. Naturally, the big question, why do we need to hire a consultant? The question itself was not surprising, they were already in the top ten of their franchise, can you blame them? After multiple meetings and discussions, they hired us to come in.

We went over everything from sales process, initial customer contact, appearance, and even the billing cycle. Even though they were a top ten company, there were still things that could be improved upon. One of those things, was simply using the same product they sell to their customers in the bathrooms, instead of using an off brand, simple, right? Needless to say, that one small change increased the sale of that product about 10%. Small things such as this tend to be the most overlooked. Now imagine if there are a bunch of these small things that are being overlooked. What kind of boost would your company have if they were recognized and fixed?

Being a successful company is not easy to achieve and maintaining it is even harder. Just because your company is successful doesn't mean your doing everything right. Having a consultant come in will do a couple things for your company. One, it can reaffirm what you already know about your business and two, it can give you an outside perspective. Companies see what they do every day making it harder to recognize any type of need or change. Bringing someone in to give you an unbiased opinion of your company is a good thing. I bet you would be surprised at the things Tier One would find to help boost your company's overall potential.

You're in sales, you just don't know it

It is interesting when we bring up the topic of sales. Sales is like that one career that has some sort of weird stigma to it. It's like people get confused about who you really are when you tell them that you are in sales. We are no different than anybody else, even if someone doesn't have the title "sales representative", they are in sales, they just don't know it. 

Everyday when you go to the store or walk into work, you are selling yourself. When your company has an order to be filled, how it's handled depends on what kind of reaction you will get. Even if you are not commissioned, you are still in sales. Sales is more than just getting someone to buy a product or service, it is the key to every business. How a company operates is a selling attribute. Your product could be the best, but if you can't convince a customer it is, you will not be able to sell any of the amazing product.  This even stems to hiring employees. Think about it, you are selling your company's benefits to someone that you do not know in hopes of hiring them. 

Whether you are a cook, bartender, lawyer, or real estate agent, they all have one thing in common, sales.  If you are not putting on your sales face day in and day out, you are not doing your job right.  Sales is the life line of what we do. How we dress and conduct ourselves in public directly reflects on how people view us, and of course,  we do not want people to view us a certain way...right?  So, the next time someone tells you that they are in sales or you go to buy a product from someone, keep in mind, you're in sales too. 

 

 

Marketing is great, but not the key to success

We all have idea of what good customer service is...right? When we think of good customer service, some may think low price, convenience, or maybe a combination of both. The reality is, experience wins every time. Really think about it, when you go to a retail store, restaurant, or even when looking for a CPA, money and how well the company serves you all play a factor but ultimately your experience dictates your decision. We are willing to pay a little more because we have a great experience with a company, it builds trust in the brand.

It is vital for a company to have quality customer service. You can market all you want and bring people in with low prices. If you do not deliver on the experience, price becomes a mute point. Take Macy's and Gander Mountain for instance, these companies have been widely successful. That is until their brand quality didn't meet expectation. Now I know what you are thinking, the internet is a huge part in both Macy's and Gander Mountain closing multiple locations year over year. If that were the case, then why do these companies keep closing, seeing as how both have online stores as well? It is because they do not deliver on experience. They do not exceed expectation. We are willing to go to Nordstrom's or Cabela's to pay a little more than what some other stores may offer, just because of the experience.

The next time you are wondering about your sales numbers and customer flow, sure marketing might be a factor or it could be that you are not meeting your brand expectation. If you want to build your sales revenue and customer flow, the easiest way is to increase the quality of your customer service. Word of mouth is the best advertisement, not the ad that has all the cool graphics. People pay for experience, not just a product.

 

 

It's Official

Tier One Consulting LLC is in full swing! We are happy to announce that the Chicagoland area has become our new home. We offer multiple services ranging from public speaking to in house consulting. Our specialty is working with companies to drive customer flow, increase sales revenue, build brand quality, and to help improve their overall customers experience. You can check out our blog at www.tieroneconsultingll.com. We will be coming up with new content all the time so keep your eyes peeled.