Don’t be the best kept secret…

If you sell a product, or service you can be assured of one absolute fact…”if people don’t know you exist they cannot do business with you”.  Period.

Certainly having a comprehensive marketing plan and a flow of effective marketing initiatives is essential to any business.  However, getting people to know about you and your business does not have to be expensive and time consuming.  A no-cost approach is simply be willing to engage people where ever you are and be willing to talk about what you do in an engaging manner.

Recently, I was having a cup of coffee at my local Starbucks and working on my blog calendar when I noticed a gentleman plugging in his laptop a few tables away from me.  I had seen him a number of times over the past several months, yet he and I had never spoken. Without fully stopping what I was doing, I simply asked him what kind of work he does that would allow him to work from a Starbucks at 10:00 am on a Tuesday. 

His reply was immediate: “funny…I was wondering the same thing about you.”  After finishing plugging his laptop in he came over to chat.  Turns out his company develops content for websites and other media outreaches.  And…it just so happens I have been working on enhancing the content and design of my website and have been looking for someone to help me with my content and communications structure.  Had I not opened my mouth and reached out to him we may never have connected.  We have since had other meetings and are exploring working together on a number of projects. 

I am sure this happens to most of us every day. We stand next to someone in a line, or seated at a table and never engage them.  Who knows how many opportunities passed us by the week?  It seems impossible to gauge accurately, but I am sure it must be some number above one.  And an opportunity never connected with is just another version of a missed opportunity.

In fact as I look back at my current stable of clients and from the past many of my best clients and now dearest friends came to be because of an introduction that would have never happened had one of us not reached out to the other in a non-traditional way.

Don’t be a secret…engage people…ask them what they do first and then let people know what you do…you never know when the next great opportunity may be the person you almost never met.

Have an awesome day!

Joseph Rosales
Your Sales and Service Coach

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What’s the Plan?

One of the first questions I ask a client when we are discussing improving any aspect of their business is: what’s the plan?  Whether they are looking to attract more customers, increase sales revenues, improve employee performance, enhance customer service or virtually any other business area…there has to be a plan.

And all too often the answer is either I don’t really have a plan, or they beigin to share the results they are looking for such as to increase sales by 30%.  And while having a goal of increasing sales by 30% is also essential to an improvement program…it is not a plan.  A plan is the how a goal, vision, or improvement will be achieved.

Clear and simple planning is one of the most essential components to achieving any improvement…in your business, your personal life, or in your family.  Take time to plan…it can make the difference between achievement and failure.

In fact…people spend more time planning their vacations than they do the next 12 months of their business.  Think about your last vacation, you planned where you were going, when you were going, how you would get there, what you would do while you were there and which day and more than likely estimated how much it would cost.  That is a plan.

Having a plan, or series of plans for different aspects of your business is not difficult and can occur over a relatively short period of time if you simply look at planning as the road map that will help you get from where you are, to where you would like to go.

Don’t have time to plan?   A plan does not have to be complicated, or complex. In fact, I have often heard it said; “a simple plan, well executed is better than a complex plan not executed well…or no plan at all”.

Remember this:  a goal without a plan is just a dream.

Joseph is the founder and senior consultant for The Sales and Service Coach and is available for speaking engagements, consulting and coaching.  You can reach him via email at:  jrosales@thesalesandservicecoach.com  or at:  609-760-9066.

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A Customer Service Super Star…

Every year for the past several years my family and I vacation in Cancun, Mexico. We always stay at the Westin Laguna Mar.

This post is about the Markeing and Conseirge Manager…her name is in Sarah and she sets a standard for guest hospitality and genuine caring.  

I met Sarah as she addressed an issue that had occurred while we were at the airport terminal and before we even checked in at the hotel.  I will not describe the nature of the incident, but suffice to say it had nothing to do with the Westin. 

However, that is not how Sarah Swan of perceived it.  She could tell how upset we where and immediately offered to help us.  And just as she said she would…she corrected the problem for us and made a friend for life.

Customer service, guest hospitality, client comfort…it doesn’t matter what you call it…is taking care of your customer.  You may call them clients, customers, guest, patients, patrons, or friends…it means the same thing…the person you are providing a product or service to makes it possible for your business, or industry exist…because they buy what you offer.  It’s that simple.

As beautiful as the hotel property is and as well appointed as the rooms are…they are only part of what is offered at a fine hotel with a great staff.  Not just a few service stars, but a full complement of highly competent, caring and motivated staff who truly desire to serve their guests with excellence.

Sarah sets a very high standard for anyone in a business that serves a customer.  I hope you have an opportunity to meet her and her staff sometime.  She is worth much more to a service driven organization than anyone can pay her.

If you ever have the opportunity to vacation in Cancun, you owe it to yourself to arrange a stay at the Westin, Laguna Mar.  You will be glad you did.   

Joseph Rosales

The Sales and Service Coach

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Complaints are gifts in disguise…

Sometimes, I get the strangest looks when I tell a client that they should appreciate whenever a customer complains.  Certainly, no one really likes anyone to complain, however; your business model, your equipment and the people who run them are not perfect and are quite capable of failing to meet the expectations of customers.  No matter how well you and your staff provide service you will occasionally fail to meet a customer’s expectations of service.  It is a fact of life in a service-oriented business.

The most important message I can share with you about customer complaints is the perspective of how you look at complaints and how you might respond to them in such a way that makes the customer feel cared for and also provides you with information that could be helpful to your business.

To be sure, all complaints are not valid and yes, there is the occasional customer who is just a chronic complainer, or even worse, may be trying to get over on you to get something for nothing.  However, most customers who do complain have valid concerns, or comments about your business that need attending to if the customer is to continue to be a customer at your business.  And you really need to know if customers are not happy.

Are you not getting complaints?  Well that may be a good thing, or it may be a very bad thing.  If customers are constantly telling how great your business is and espousing about how much they enjoy being a customer at your business then you may be on track.  However, I am talking about well over 50% of your customers commenting verbally, or non-verbally that they really like the service and the experience.  However, if you are only getting occasional positive comments, or your customers are not saying anything, then that may be a sign that they are not satisfied with the service, or results you are delivering.

So, next time a customer complains…think about it this way; they may be trying to give you a gift of information that could be helpful to you improving some aspect of your business that may need improvement.  Accept the complaint as a gift (regarless if you like the way the gift is wrapped) and thank them for taking the time to share their comments. 

You never know…the complaining customer often may become a great customer if you handle them with respect and appreciation.

Coach

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Improvment is a process, not an event…

Many people attend seminars, read books and even purchase DVD’s on various aspects of business and personal improvement.  However, regardless of how dynamic the speaker is, or how enlightening the information is…improvement does not occur without the application of action and time. 

Improvement starts with a vision for how something could be better and is fueled by a sincere desire for improvement, however; actual improvement only begins to occur when a commitment is made to a process and that process is applied over a period of time.  

Take for example; an exercise program. Even if one does the exercises perfectly (proper technique) and does the workout three to five times per week (consistency), it still can take weeks and months to see measurable results.  Only the consistent application of the exercises done properly over time will yield increased strength and a more toned physique.  Wishing and desiring the results accomplishes absolutely nothing without action and it takes time for results.  And the time it takes to achieve measurable results is largely determined by the proper and consistent application of the process.  Consistency is another key to all improvement.

So…if you are looking to improve any aspect of your business, or life; have a vision, develop a plan, implement the plan and stay on the plan long enough to see results. 

Certainly any improvement plan will need personalization and adjustment, but sticking to the plan long enough to gain the results will make every moment well worth the time and resources you have invested.

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A “Ritz” Experience… Customer service heroes still do exist!

I would like to share a story about one of my customer service heroes. I have many, but this particular hero is a very special group of people who are constantly striving to achieve excellence in service.  The experience I will share with you demonstrates perfectly how the right people, equipped with the right systems and processes, framed in the right environment, will produce customer service excellence.

During the course of my professional life, I have stayed at some of the finest hotels in the world. And although there have been bright service stars among them, there have been unfortunately, too many failures.  However, no experience to this day, compares with the outstanding service my wife and I had during our stay at the Ritz Carlton in Key Biscayne, Florida.

From the time the gatekeeper greeted us with a friendly and genuine “hello” combined with positive eye contact, my expectations were being set.  The moment we arrived at the front door, the exceptional service began. Certainly, the valet staff was attentive and extremely polite; however, as they opened our car door, they greeted us by name.  Since we had never been to the hotel before, I knew the gatekeeper must have called our name to the valet staff…a smart and easy solution.  They quickly gathered our bags from the trunk and escorted us to the front desk.  When I said “thank you,” their reply was “It is my pleasure.” How simple and sweet those words were.  I never heard “no problem” or some other, less-than-gracious reply but simply, “It is my pleasure.”

The front desk staff was well-spoken and attentive.  Our check-in was gracious and accurate, but what really stood out was their genuinely sincere attitude about us being their guests for a few days in their hotel.  Of course, my being in the business of teaching others how to achieve the highest levels of customer service excellence, I was truly inspired.  And what occurred over the next three days was an experience that continued to impress me at every turn and with every contact.  I expected much of it; the well-groomed staff, the immaculate landscaping, the beautifully decorated and well-appointed rooms. And certainly, the beautiful ocean view and warm breezes were priceless, but nothing could match the attitude, enthusiasm and personal care my wife and I received from the staff.  We were both in awe at the staff’s willingness and commitment to making our stay truly special.

And this exceptional care was not just from the primary contact staff. Even the maids looked as though every hair was in place, and their uniforms were perfectly pressed. Everyone made a conscious effort to greet us no matter what his or her job was. From towel boy and landscaper to air conditioning technician, everyone greeted you with a friendly “hello”. You expect this kind of engagement from the valet, desk staff or pool attendants but not from everyone else. Everyone on the staff had a serving attitude, and a sparkle in his or her eyes. When you chose to chat a bit with a waiter, he or she was ready to engage in conversation. When we chose to have privacy, they were never intrusive. It was perfect.

And more than just having a good attitude, the hotel management staff utilized simple technology to aid their staff in caring for their guests.  Through the use of headsets and two-way radios, they went the extra mile to assure their staff members were equipped to access information and communicate with each other in the quest for service excellence.

Are there other hotels that can match up? There are others that can and do achieve this level of total customer service excellence; however, they are the exception, not the rule. If you are thinking that you are not the Ritz Carlton, that’s okay; you don’t have to be.  What I am speaking of here are standards of service excellence that anyone can attain if they really want to and are willing to do what it takes.

Too often, businesses deliver customer service that is less than they could achieve, because management sets the standard too low. Set the bar high and keep the bar high, and you will more than likely attain excellent customer service more often.

When on vacation with my wife, or family, I want to know that we will receive excellent service and enjoy every aspect of the property. The Ritz Carlton in Key Biscayne has set that expectation for my family. Without a doubt, we will return to this hotel again and again. In fact, since this first visit, we have returned for another stay and have referred many of our friends to this hotel.   And yes, the service was outstanding on our second visit as well.  Fortunately, some good things do last!

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You don’t know what you don’t know…

Two main challenges that stands in the way of any improvement, are first; recognizing there is room for improvement and secondly; admitting that you may not know how to make the improvement happen.  Many people sense that some aspect of their business could be better…but they really don’t know how to go about achieving the improvements. 

 It is not a matter of intelligence – If someone asked you to split an atom, would you even know where to begin? Even simple things like tying an Albright fishing knot are beyond most people’s ability to “just figure out” without some help.  However; with some basic knowledge and the right tools, most of us are capable of much more than our current capabilities.  The same goes for improving many aspects of a business.  Just because we may not know how to acheive an improvement, does not mean it can’t be acheived. 

 Just try harder – without knowing how to do something, or without some simple instructions…just trying harder is more likely to lead to frustration than it is to improvement.  Many business owners are often state: “I’ve been doing this for 20 years…what can someone else possibly tell me that I don’t already know, or haven’t already tried?”   They proceed doing only what they already know how to do and learn to accept the less than hoped for results and chalk it up to “it’s just how it is”.  The problem is; this perspective of “I already know everything I need to know about my business” robs people of the opportunity to improve. 

Synergy - There are infinite resources available to help you improve your business, or any aspect of your life. Combining your knowledge and thoughts with the thoughts, experience and resources of someone who is skilled at helping other’s to think through situations is very powerful and productive.  Often the process yields ideas that neither would have come up with independently is called synergy and is one of the most powerful, but underutilized resources of most businesses.

So…if you have a feeling your business, your employees, (or some aspect of your life for that matter)could be better, or improved…you are most likely right.  It may just take some help to get you there.

 Joseph Rosales
The Sales and Service Coach
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