Are sales not what you expect? Are repeat customers non-existent? These are two indications that your customer service is failing! Customer service is not intended to be just words that business owners or managers talk about. Customer service is meant to be the beliefs, words and most importantly the ACTIONS of every person who works for the business.
Let me give you examples of the the really good and the really bad in terms of customer service that I have had in the last year – starting with the really bad first:
Not long ago I heard about a clothing store that was not only supposed to have great work clothes (a.k.a suits, etc.) but also very reasonably priced suits. Hey, who doesn’t like a bargain? So, on a particular weekend I trekked across town to a store called Olga. As I approached it looked promising. I saw some nice things.
The positive experience really ends there however. I was there to buy. Let’s make that clear. Despite this however, I could not get either of the people working there to even acknowledge me. Now, being nearly 6′, it’s not like I blend in to the clothing racks. I covered the entire store, selected some items off the racks and looked to the people working as I had questions. I even said “excuse me” at one point and the response…well, might as well have been chirping birds. Nothing. Nada. Then to add insult to injury two other potential shoppers came in. And while you can’t judge a book by the cover, I felt confident that these shoppers would not be the typical customer. Their style was just completely different. Both employees…did I mention both employees greeted them and asked if they needed help. One of the ladies responded saying “Nah, we were just walking by and didn’t realize what kinda store this is. There’s nothing here that I would be interested in.” And, they left. Meanwhile I am still standing there and still nothing. So, I put the items I had in my hands back on the rack and walked out. I won’t be going back. This store offered zero customer service. It was clear, in my opinion, that the workers in this store had no idea what customer service is.
Why do I classify this as “ugly?” Simply put, the workers in this small store were not young kids. In other words, they should “get it”. One or both might have been an owner, but that is just an assumption. I don’t believe that this is a chain store either. All of these things combined result in the owner(s) of this store being in a position to build their brand and their customer base based on the quality of service and product offered. They really can’t afford to dismiss people.
On the other hand, there is cleo. Now cleo is a chain. There is some brand recognition associated with the chain. It is also clear that the staff have been trained. The key here? Did I mention that the staff have been trained. They have been trained to represent the brand. A brand is more than a logo and this is probably where a lot of people fail. Rather than thinking that your brand is what you promise to deliver, many people focus on the logo and the colours. cleo on the other hand has gotten it right. They know that their brand is focused on the professional women looking for on-trend clothing options at reasonable prices. This is what cleo means to me. To me this is their brand.
What is the Olga Moda brand? Again, this is my take based on my experience of what they deliver. Olga is a clothing store that doesn’t know who they are or who their customers are. As a result, they don’t understand the value of a person walking into the store and therefore ignore people willing/wanting to buy. They represent a bad experience. To me, their brand is not caring, not knowing and just not the place to shop.
It really is unfortunate when a business has not taken the time to identify their values, develop what they want to be in the eyes of their customers and potential customers. Finally it is a hug mistake to train your employees on the importance of who you are and what the brand is. These are all big misses that are completely avoidable!
Want to learn more about how you can develop your brand, train your employees and develop your business? Contact us. We can help.
If you live in New Brunswick, keep reading. If you don’t it’s your choice whether you want to take the New Brunswick challenge or not, but it is a real challenge that I am issuing to my fellow New Brunswickers – can you rise to this challenge?
So, maybe you were born in New Brunswick and chose to stay here. Maybe you went away to school, but returned afterwards. Or, perhaps you went away to see the world and work “somewhere else” for a while, but returned to raise a family. Maybe you weren’t born here, but moved here for a career, you married a New Brunswicker, or for some other reason. Regardless of the reason, you have chosen to live here. And yes, let me be clear. If you live here, you choose to live here. At any given time you can “choose” to leave. You can always move somewhere else. That is the beauty of living in a free country – a democratic society.
So, what is the challenge? I challenge you to think differently about a number of topics listed below and to share your thoughts on social media. I challenge you to stretch your thinking and to propel your thoughts to that of solutions and positives rather than complaining and negatives. So, let’s give it a try with the following:
- How many of you have watched the #NBProud videos available here? How many are familiar with all the companies in the videos? How many of you can think of other great companies right here in New Brunswick? How many of you have shared these videos?
2. How many of you know that the snowblower was actually invented right here in New Brunswick….Dalhousie to be exact? Cool, isn’t it? Innovation right here at home…and in my home town.
3. How many of you know that New Brunswick has one of the most vibrant start-up communities in Atlantic Canada. How about Canada? Well, we do.
4. How many of you know that UNB’s BioMedical Institute is one of the top five IN THE WORLD? Again, this is true!
5. Did you know that there are countless jobs in New Brunswick that go unfilled each year because we don’t want to do them? Just ask the Harvey’s of Maugerville. After years of farming, the family has decided to sell their farm because they couldn’t get workers for the countless acres of vegetables. Did you know that immigrants often have to fill this void. It’s true. So, no they aren’t taking our jobs. They are filling a very necessary void to ensure our food security and helping support “buy local.”
6. Did you know that there are countless immigrants who come to this country and create new businesses. Just ask Sam Masry who came to New Brunswick from Egypt and established CARIS 37 years ago. Oh, did I mention that CARIS employs more than 200 people, including engineers and IT professionals? What about Dr. Ali Ghorbani who established Ara Labs, which has grown into Sentrant and employs IT professionals in the cybersecurity field? So, no they aren’t taking our jobs. They, among countless others, are creating companies and jobs for New Brunswickers!
7. Did you know cities, provinces/states and countries around the world actively go out and seek companies to expand in their regions and offer financial incentives? Did you know that this is a normal attraction practice and it is not unique to New Brusnwick? In fact, because this is a competitive process, where New Brunswick is competing with well-known cities like New York and San Francisco for jobs, we often rely on the selling point of the quality of our people – New Brunswickers, quality of life and sheer determination to win the expansion plans of major brands? Again, this is true. And the end result? More jobs for New Brunswickers. As a former Salesforce employee, I can attest to this. Working for Salesforce, I got exposure to people and expertise that I would not have otherwise achieved, unless I moved away. The experience, including having worked for a publicly traded company, was priceless.
8. Did you know that the McDonald’s McFlurry was created in New Brunswick? It was…in Bathurst to be specific.
9. Did you know that the software used to locate J.F.K. Junior’s crashed plane was created in New Brunswick? Did you know that the Franklin Expedition’s lost ship was found by that same software? Well, it is true. That little company I mentioned above…CARIS…ya, it was their software.
10. And, here is a good one I heard about in the last year and after some google searching, I found out it was true…did you know that the movie E.T. was written in Zionville? William Kotzwinkle and his wife Elizabeth Gundy, moved up here during the Vietnam War. They even built a house.
11. Did you know that there is no such thing as the status quo? So many people talk about “if things would only stay the same” or “why do we need to attract more people or companies?” The answer is simple. Nothing stays the same. If we aren’t proactive our population will age. People will die. Companies will cease to exist. Our tax base will decrease. This is not sustainable. This is why all active and intelligent communities are always looking to attract and retain people and business. It’s in our greater interest.
12. Did you know that UNB was named the most entrepreneurial university in Canada? Well, it was!
13. And finally, did you know that Google Earth uses technology developed by UNB? Yup, that is also true!
I have been fortunate to live in New Brunswick all my life. I have been fortunate to work for companies that have enabled me to travel and work around the world. Because of this I realize and I appreciate what a wonderful place New Brunswick is. I am #NBProud. I choose to live here. I see the potential and I want to change the narrative. I want to tell people about all the wonderful things that are happening here. If we constantly go looking for what is wrong versus what is right, we will always find the bad. I was at a session today where the founder of a local company that exports to more than 20 countries said it best: “if you think you live in a shit hole, then you will live in a shit hole.”
If you believe you can, then you will. If we believe that we have talented and innovative people and companies in this province, which we do, then we need to shout it from the roof tops. We MUST believe in ourselves before others can believe in us.
So my challenge to you is to be #NBProud and to share your #NBProud moments. Share one exciting and powerful story each day for a week on social media. Can you rise to the challenge?
We all love to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day, don’t we? Even if we don’t have Irish roots, many pretend to be Irish for a day…usually to partake in green beer. But there are some things about Saint Patrick’s Day that you probably don’t know?
1. It is estimated that there are one million Irish people living abroad.
2. Following the Great Fire which levelled much of the city’s central peninsula on June 20th, 1877, Saint John was rebuilt almost exclusively by Irish labour.
3. St. Patrick wasn’t Irish, and he wasn’t born in Ireland. Patrick’s parents were Roman citizens living in modern-day England, or more precisely in Scotland or Wales (scholars cannot agree on which). He was born in 385 AD. By that time, most Romans were Christians and the Christian religion was spreading rapidly across Europe. So, maybe we should celebrating Tartan Day on April 6th with good ole Saint Patty. (Oh, and I did I mention that Saint Patrick’s Day only started in 1970 versus Tartan Day that started as a result of action in 1320?)
4.The original colour associated with St. Patrick is blue, not green as commonly believed. In several artworks depicting the saint, he is shown wearing blue vestments. King Henry VIII used the Irish harp in gold on a blue flag to represent the country. Since that time, and possibly before, blue has been a popular colour to represent the country on flags, coats-of-arms, and even sports jerseys.
Green was associated with the country later, presumably because of the greenness of the countryside, which is so because Ireland receives plentiful rainfall. Today, the country is also referred to as the “Emerald Isle.” (source same as #3)
5. Corned beef and cabbage, Saint Patrick’s Day staple, doesn’t have anything to do with the grain corn. Instead, it’s a nod to the large grains of salt that were historically used to cure meats, which were also known as “corns.”
6. Did you know that the stainless steel DeLorean car was designed and built in Ireland? It was.
7. Did you know that nearly 19% of New Brunswickers have Irish roots? (Not me though…I am Scottish…could you tell?)
What’s your did you know? We would love to hear?
Aren’t we all looking for ways to increase our blog and website visits, with the ultimate goal to increase sales? Of course we are. Depending on how much effort you want to use, there are some really great ways to do just that. In this post I share 12 proven methods to increase your traffic. Let’s dig in!
Take a fresh and objective look at your blog. Are you missing some key elements?
1. Add a call to action – this is a big opportunity for you. You definitely want to do this. Are you simply ending your blog asking for thoughts, comments, or ideas? While I applaud you for wanting to engage, let’s take this up a notch. What do you want? When applicable, ask them to go to your website to learn more? Maybe fill out a form to get the ebook. Put in specific calls to action. Don’t be afraid.
2. Improve your headlines – think about magazine headlines. What grabs your attention? For example, what would you read: Body Found in Topless Barr or
• Lists: 8 Lives Impacted by Unexpected Change
• Social Proof: Why the Kiwanis Club of Fredericton Partners with the Stan Cassidy
• Headlines tied to current events
3. Add your Facebook follow button to your website and blog (and if you use Twitter, do the same)
4. As blog editor, there are things that need to be done to blogs to make them better for SEO. One such thing is adding links to other blogs, websites, etc. directly in your blog posts. If your blog is missing links, it’s an easy fix.
It could be done via a checklist box or some other sidebar. It can also be done by referencing similar blogs on your blog, or adding your contact us page. This is quite important to add to your blog as it will help with getting search engines pick you up.
5. Ask people to share. This can be done in your blog post, and definitely done in your Facebook posting of the blog post. Each blog post should be shared on your Facebook page and ask people outright to share. This is important for reach. It can be sharing did you knows or content of other similar types of organizations. Find content that matters to your audience.
6. Check to ensure that keywords are used consistently in posts to boost SEO.
7. Leverage a Twitter account. That channel is great for sharing and promoting the blog as well as your events. Again, ask people to share your content.
8. Create videos – the great thing about videos these days is that you don’t need high production. An iPhone and good external microphone and you (your staff or guest bloggers) can easily do a blog interview or highlight video. People love these. Also partner with community members. Share their videos. Have a contest to create videos and have high profile community members be the selection committee. This will generate buzz for you. (Remember videos should be short – two to three minutes is the golden number in terms of length)
9. Create evergreen content – Essentially evergreen content is content that you can repurpose and share over and over again. It could be something specific to an event, a product, etc. Having this content to fill voids is important and takes the pressure off of those involved.
10. Profile employees, volunteers or other key people – this is a great way for people to get to know you better and feel connected.
11. Use Facebook Insights to determine what posts are doing better. Insights will also help you determine what time of day and what day is the best for sharing content in order to get noticed.
12. If you aren’t currently leveraging email to let your audience know that your blog is live, you should. This is also a key strategy to boost visits.
13. (bonus) Increase your blogging cadence. It is proven that blogging at least three times a week benefits organizations more in terms of conversations from calls to action.
Want to learn more about using content strategies to generate leads, increase brand recognition and grow your business? Give us a call. We can help.
Cybersecurity is top of mind for a lot of people, and for good reason. Cyber risks and attacks are not only impacting individuals with identity theft, but they are also impacting hospitals and businesses.
So, I thought I would compile my fav articles on this very subject that I discovered this week. Let’s take a look:
I say ‘hooray’ to this one. I can’t tell you how often I have forgotten passwords. Everything needs its own password and the love of God, I can’t remember them all!
Maybe we should intentionally use typos as a protection tool?
I think this one speaks or itself. Definitely a serious issue that is not going away.
Well, these were my top picks for the week. What would you add?
As a people manager, consultant and coach, I continue to be amazed by the fact that so many people fail to recognize the power of their words. Maybe ‘amazed’ is not the right word. Disappointed might actually be the better word. Disappointed that so-called people managers and/or leaders disregard the power of the words that they choose when communicating with subordinates and/or even peers.
Organizational culture has been on my mind a lot lately. Working closely with clients and organizations experiencing change can cause that to happen.
Unintentional or Intentional Word Choice
There is an argument that word choice is completely unintentional. In this case, people might not take the time to stop and think about the words they are selecting in the heat of the moment when sending an email, letter or even when having a face-to-face with someone.
People are busy and they really may not realize the words they are using result in people feeling embarrassed, demeaned, humiliated or even angry. Things of course are complicated further by who else sees/hears the conversation unfold and who actually uses the words.
For example, as a people manager I may realize that employee A is not as reliable as employee B in delivering and I need to get a project completed for an important deal to come to fruition. I could say:
“Employee A, I really need you to step aside and hand over your work on Project X to Employee B because he will get it done correctly and on time. Whereas you will need a lot of handholding and prodding just to get it done. I have something else I can get you to work on instead.” And of course I am saying this in a team meeting with everyone listening.
Or, I could say….
“Employee A, I really need your help with a new initiative because you are very strong in a, b, and c, which is essential for success. This overlaps with Project X so I was thinking that Employee A could take that on. Why don’t the three of us meet after this to discuss how we can make both priorities a success and support each other?”
See/hear the difference? Not only am I not embarrassing or diminishing the person, but I am actually focusing on what the person is good at. If you want to promote and develop a great work culture, you must have both: the right words and positive reinforcement. [Click to Tweet]
Of course there is also the intentional choice of using particular words. This can be both a positive, which is really the second example above, or a really negative. In the latter, a person is deliberately choosing words to hurt and diminish someone. In an organization that promotes its culture as being ideal, this would seem to not align. And, if in fact it was intentional, it is likely that the culture is not what management claims it to be. This is a red flag. Morale is likely low and people will not be as productive. Turnover will be high and internal cliques will be obvious.
Here is an example of someone deliberately intending to demoralize an employee:
“Donna, despite accomplishing everything that was set out for you to do last year and exceeding established KPIs, we don’t support your promotion. We think another person could do it better. We recognize your hard work though, so we expect you to continue to manage the projects until complete. This will give us time to train your new manager. Maybe next time!”
How would you feel as an employee hearing this? Probably not very good. Despite accomplishing everything and exceeding expectations in terms of results, you aren’t getting promoted. This does not match.
Or, how about this follow-up request two months later?
“Donna, since you managed this project until being replaced, attached are the vendor assessment forms that need to be completed. Fill them out and return to me by the date noted. Be sure to cc your new boss!
If your goal is to have people fully engaged and supporting the organization, this is not the best way to do that.
As a people manager or someone with influence such as HR or an executive assistant, your words can cut deeply. While frank and candidate conversations need to happen, there are better ways to do it, including the location and of course: the right words. You are not doing anyone any favours bringing a person down. In addition to demeaning a person, this behaviour is also sending a signal to the rest of the team that:
- it is acceptable to embarrass others
- it is acceptable to make sure others know of the embarrassment
- if you don’t deliver the way I want you to, then you might be next
- working in fear is acceptable in our culture.
Something to Remember:
High-performing organizational cultures don’t just happen. Everyone from top to bottom and bottom to top have to live the goals and objectives. People need to be aware and coach each other to make it happen. Bad behaviour, including deliberately demeaning people should not be accepted. Good leaders get to the bottom of it. What is the root cause? Is it the real culture coming through, or is it simply that a person or person hasn’t really been coached on what the organization’s culture is to be. Word choices need to be deliberate to bring people up versus bringing them down.
High-performing organizational cultures don’t just happen. People make them happen. Words matter. [click to Tweet]
Remember, words matter. Be selective. Act with purpose and meaning. Bring people up rather than pushing them down!
Have thoughts on how words matter, I would love to hear.
As another term starts, I can’t help but reflect on the last term. When I started teaching I was fairly confident that I would enjoy it. And, I do – very much in fact. Last term was particularly enjoyable. In part it was because of the subject matter and also in part because I was more in tune with the process. It also helped that I had a number of students who were in my class last term. It’s always nice to see a familiar face or faces.
My goal of course is to share my experience and knowledge from my 20+ years of marketing and communications. When doing my first and even second Undergrad degrees I always craved and loved when Professors were able to share their real-life experiences versus just discussing what was in text book. Learning however, is a lifelong endeavour and while I hope that my students learn very useful information from the courses I teach, I also learn from my students. Here are *5 things that I learned from teaching University Students.
5. Passion Starts Early
I had the pleasure of getting to know many, many fantastic students who were filled with passion. Whether it was learning something new or sharing information about what was learned during the day or in another class or event, nearly every person in my Ethics class was extremely passionate about his or her learning and beliefs. It made for great conversation; and great conversations get you thinking. When you think, you challenge your own beliefs. When you challenge your own beliefs you learn. The best part? You don’t have to be in a classroom to do this. Anyone can do this as long as you are open and willing to have a conversation without judgement.
In reviewing the final exams, I can’t say how rewarding it was to read about students who have done just this. They have learned. Perhaps most rewarding is reading statements made by mature students who discuss how much they learned and the tools that they can now leverage in the careers. You can’t get much better than that.
4. Silly Jokes are a Necessity for Filling Wait Times
I absolutely loved that when we needed to fill time when students were setting up for presentations, that students were willing to fill the void with silly jokes that made the entire class laugh. It was both funny and enjoyable. To me it was a demonstration of a group of students who were respectful and caring. People listened and laughed together.
3. Respect is Alive and Well
I don’t have many rules for class, aside from the regular ones like come to class, be prepared and participate. I do believe strongly in being respectful to all. That means when a person is speaking, whether it is me or a student, we respect that person and listen: one conversation at a time.
I would have to say that overall this was one of the most respectful classes with people doing just that: “listening.” Additionally, people were very respectful with asking questions and participating in discussions with other students. This shows how mature these students are and it truly lends to a great learning environment.
2. People Crave Real Experience
I already knew this, but this class really reinforced this concept for me. Learning about theory has its place, but learning about theory and understanding how it fits into the work environment and why it is important makes learning much more relevant. The more we talked about real events and issues the more the students engaged. The more they engaged and wanted to know, the more I wanted to share with them.
1. Age Has Nothing to Do with Anything
One of the things that really stood out for me was the diversity of my class this term. It was wonderful to have a good mix of Canadian and international students. It was also rewarding to see a fantastic mix of younger and mature students. Each group brought such unique experiences and learnings to the class. I could see numerous examples where the younger students learned from the mature students and I could also see numerous examples of the mature students learning from the younger students. This is perhaps the perfect mix which results in learning happening in numerous ways. Learning is lifelong and being able to learn from people of all ages and backgrounds makes for a very rewarding experience for all involved.
These are just 5 things that I learned from my students last term. They are the ones that really stand out for me. Of course there are more. In the end, I want to learn too and I believe that this adds to what I can bring to my class next term and other terms in the future. I am thankful to all the students in this class that just wrapped up. They inspired me to continue to develop my classes so that all students get the most out of the class.
*For my students reading this and wondering why I used “5” and not “five” as I taught them was the right grammatical way to use numbers, this is an exception for the purposes of blog writing. I know it is not actually the right thing to do🙂.
Want to learn more about me? Check out my company website.
Our work environments can often be a very competitive space where we are jockeying to get the positions, perks and pay. Have you ever noticed however, that there are some people who manage to move through the ranks and they remain respected and well-liked? Of course you have. Then there are others that make it so far, but they seem to get stuck. Often times there are telltale signs of why. It often comes down to not being a team player. In fact there are six signs that you aren’t really a team player and there is a very good chance that your peers as well as your managers have noticed!
- You go out of your way to find fault in the work of your colleagues.
- Even more of a red flag, you go to great lengths to prepare communications – usually via email – that showcase the errors of others and you cc the whole chain of command of the employee or employees to ensure that everyone is well aware of the mistakes.
- Despite there being subject matter experts, you make copious notes on how they can better do their jobs. And, of course you share them.
- When conversations are occurring, you not only talk over others, you go out of your way to one up the others, again to showcase your intelligence.
- You never ask how your colleagues are. You go directly to what they or others are doing wrong.
- And, finally you never praise others for their work.
Chances are, unless you are both really self-aware and very honest with yourself, you won’t recognize that you do this. However, if you aren’t getting a head at work quite as quickly as you would like. It might be time to step back and honestly self-assess.
Would you add others to this list?
Note: this post was previously published on LinkedIn.