Dealing Drugs

Anyone who’s read the fantastic “Rework” by Jason Fried of 37 Signals will hopefully share my view of how inspirational it is. Jason shares his story on how he and his team built a globally successful software company with no outside investment, no real business plan and no ivory tower office.

In the chapter titled “Promotion” Jason makes reference to drug dealers. He comments that products should be so good, so addictive, that your customers always come back for more. He suggests giving away small, free tasters so that clients return smiling, with cash in hand.

It’s an interesting concept. I grew my business in the corporate IT world; selling high-value, complex IT solutions. In the early days, we witnessed competitors focusing all their efforts on that one golden-ticket deal per year, only for it to end in tears when it didn’t come in. We decided to take a different approach.
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Moving with the Times

Understanding what your customer needs, not just what you create is a fundamental aspect of long-term growth and success. Think about what you are offering. Is it special? Is it unique in today’s market? Has it evolved over time? The world has changed; businesses need to change with it.

Customers want new ideas. Ideas which challenge the status quo and give them the competitive edge. Pushing product, in an old fashioned sales approach doesn’t cut it in today’s world. Be creative and innovative in every angle – Your marketing, your product, your service, your approach. Delivering what you’ve always done, simply because it worked ten years ago is a dangerous game.

Fear is Flawed

Throughout my career I’ve witnessed many departments and organisations where fear rules.

Employees constantly looking over their shoulder for the fear that the boss is watching. The freedom to inspire and delight customers impacted by ridiculous internal processes; dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s so that the boss will be happy. Zero signs of motivation, encouragement or inspiration from the higher ranks. Does anyone enjoy working in an environment like this?

What if the company mission and culture was simply to deliver outstanding service? To make customers smile every day. Would the iron fist ruling slowly vanish because customers are placing more orders?

It strikes me too much emphasis today is placed on ticking boxes, on internal controls and politics, on pleasing the boss. What if we focussed our efforts on delighting the customer? Empowered our teams to make the right decision for the customer, not for the rule book?

I think it’s worth a shot.

Waiting in Line

Grabbing a quick sandwich from the local supermarket at lunchtime is never fun. The chances are there are not enough tills open. Not enough staff. Zero sense of urgency.

The majority of us loathe to wait. Especially if we are in a hurry.

It was my Mum’s birthday yesterday. Like the good son I am, I chose to send her some flowers. Using Interflora’s fantastic website, the whole transaction was completed and paid for in minutes. All without leaving the comfort of my office. The flowers turned up in perfect condition. On time, exactly as I wanted. She was delighted and I was a happy customer guaranteed to return.
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Get Emotional

When building a business, there’s a tendency to shy away from sharing your journey. You focus on the product or the service, hoping this will sell itself.

When I started my company, my aim was to create something memorable. Something I could stand back and be proud of. Something that made a difference.

There is no doubt, as a business owner or CEO you have passion for what you do. If you don’t, then why do it right? The passion was visible, but I was forever frustrated that people weren’t connecting with the brand in a way that I wanted.
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I don’t have that Information

Having worked with Information Management software since 2002, I have a strong passion for how it can be used to improve customer service.

With customer acquisition and retention being on the mind of every savvy organisation, I am shocked by the number of calls I make to customer service departments only to be told “sorry, I don’t have that information”. This is normally followed by “it’s a different department” or “can I put you on hold?” Sound familiar? Frustrating? You bet.

Corporate Information Management is now more important than ever. Information is the lifeblood of your organisation, it’s the new currency. Without the tools in place to manage, protect and distribute information, you are no longer competitive. Information Management means you can process new customers quicker, deal with complaints faster and answer queries first time. You outsmart the competition. Investing in an Information Management strategy is no longer a luxury, or something that “the IT department deals with”, it’s paramount for your business growth and long-term success.