Besides ruthless prioritization (see “Strategy is About Saying ‘No’”) and being sure you have a well-articulated goal that ties to your financials (see “Budget +10% Isn’t a Strategy”), strategy requires a crystal clear understanding and alignment around serving your customers. These are the people who pay your salary. Aligning the entire organization’s efforts around providing outstanding products and services to these customers is key, yet often absent. Why? There’s lack of clarity and conflicting goals that often get in the way of alignment. Sure it’s easy for the front-line associate to understand customer service and wants/needs. These are your store personnel, service providers, sales teams, and anyone else who directly interacts with your end customer (be it an individual or a business). Usually there’s pretty good alignment within these ranks on the importance of serving customers well. The problem more frequently occurs in the “support” functions. That’s where it gets a little more difficult to align an organization with customer service but it can be done. The big question is “how?” There’s a great phrase I’ve had used on me and subsequently used in other settings. I was working in a “support” function where I was responsible for some of our organization’s back-end technology and infrastructure. The organization was focused on metrics that made sense at face – budget, project completion status, up-time, etc. Unfortunately, when requests came in from the “front line” they were seen as obstacles to achieving some of the metrics the group was evaluated on. How could we possibly make budget when the front line was asking for additional capabilities and resources? Then I heard it – “If you’re not serving a customer, you best be serving someone who is.” It was a clarifying moment.
Perspective and patience. It’s a challenge especially in a lightning-fast business world filled with Type A’s, cro-magnons, and Machiavellian punks (read The Prince for more detail on this last point). It’s enough to make a sane person lose their mind (and in the case of the insane like myself, it means we have to attend therapy more frequently than we already do). Bad behavior happens every day. There’s classic micro-management where your superior is giving detailed instructions on how you should adjust your desk chair. There’s cro-magnonesque screaming and berating of subordinates who are doing nothing but their best yet market forces stall their efforts. There are the up-and-comers who behave like the fastest way to the top involves stepping on the backs, heads, and faces of those around them. And my favorite, the office politics and intrigue that would impress even the most conniving CIA and KGB veterans of the cold war. You confront these and other onerous acts daily. So what can you do? You have a few choices. You can play their game. You can get so bent out of shape over it you look like a bag of Rold Gold pretzels. You can focus on what matters and, like Jason Lee on “My Name is Earl,” believe in Karma. Let’s dissect these…
https://thoughtleadersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/logo.png00Mike Figliuolohttps://thoughtleadersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/logo.pngMike Figliuolo2008-04-17 06:14:002018-12-21 13:20:18Hot Heads and Karma - It All Works Out
I’m pleased to bring you Mark Henson as a guest blogger this week. You’ll find background on Mark at the end of this post. Enjoy the post… I’m just getting back from a wonderful beach vacation in Hilton Head (trying to switch gears from palm trees back to palm treos…). On our way back to Ohio, we stayed in Mooresville, NC, just north of Charlotte. It’s known as “Race City USA” because it’s home base to the majority of the NASCAR race teams and just a few miles to Lowes Speedway. It’s also home to one of the most disappointing hotels I’ve ever stayed at — The Wingate Hotel, part of the Wingate/Wyndham hotel chain. We booked the hotel because it got a 3-star rating and it had an indoor pool. When you coop 2 small kids in a car all day, you MUST stay in a hotel with a pool…it’s the law. I’d have to say this hotel was really more of a 1.5-star dressed up to look like a 3-star. In fact, when we first arrived we were fairly impressed by the decor, the amenities, and at least one attentive front desk helper (the other one was doing a crossword puzzle while we checked in). All in all, it looked like a decent hotel with a pool and FREE CONTINENTAL BREAKFAST (which they really make sure you know about). Within minutes, the tuxedo this hotel was wearing began to unravel. The hot tub wasn’t hot. Not a big deal, but when we reported it to the front desk, the crossword puzzle girl rolled her eyes and said, “It’s broken. There’s supposed to be a sign. Is there no sign?” Nope, no sign. No sign of help from her, either. But at least we were going to get free […]
So I’m going to hearken back to my very recent post “$325 Equals $210? The Math of Customer Hostile Policies” because apparently these policies are indicators of a broader cancerous culture. I’m flying home right now from Virgina Tech where I spent two days with some wonderful, bright and talented students (thanks for having me come speak by the way). I arrive at my layover destination. I’m traveling on the airline with the customer hostile policies I mentioned in my previous post. My final flight is scheduled to depart at 2:40 PM. I look at my watch and it’s 1:05. I notice there’s an earlier flight to my destination that departs at 1:20 so I walk briskly to that gate (at my age, I no longer sprint through airports out of fear of pulling something). When I arrive at the gate (at 1:08), I asked the gate agent “Is there any way I can get on this flight? I’m currently on the 2:40.” The jetway door was still open. Her reply didn’t shock me: “Ummmm no. I’m busy doing my paperwork and I have to get it out by 1:10. And I’d be all rushed to take your credit card info and get you on the flight.” You have to be kidding me. Her tone was one of annoyance that I, a measly customer, would dare interrupt her all-important paperwork or heaven forbid ask her to rush a little and go out of her way to perform the onerous task of swiping a credit card. “You can’t get me on the flight? The jetway isn’t closed yet.” Not even looking up from her paperwork I got “Nope. Flight’s closed.” I guess I didn’t even exist anymore because I wasn’t even worth being looked at now.
April Fool’s Day. One of my favorite days of the year. Usually I’ll find some nasty heart-stopping little gag to play (usually on my boss because it keeps him on his toes but now that I don’t have a boss, I guess I’m only fooling myself…). This year, I’m dedicating April Fool’s Day to calling out some of the foolish behavior we see and tolerate every day in our cozy little cubicles. While these aren’t the worst behaviors, they do make work a little less tolerable unless you can find the absurdity in said behaviors. That being said, I’d ask everyone do their part to end the foolishness. Call it out. Kill it. Please. So here are the foolish behaviors that made this year’s list: 1. Staff meetings 2. Sycophants 3. Stupid frameworks and acronyms 4. Stealing talent from another manager So without further ado, let’s examine each of these practices so we may better eradicate them from the face of business…
So I bought a plane ticket. It cost me $325. My plans changed and I now had a credit with one of the major air carriers. No problem. I know I’ll have to pay a change fee at a later date (usually $100) but not a huge deal. “At least I’ll be able to use the credit” I thought to myself. I had occasion to travel again so I called said airline and told them I wanted to book my flight to Chicago for my presentation at the Leadership Excellence 2008 Conference. The new ticket was going to be $210. “Cool! I can use my full credit and even simply pay the change fee out of what I already paid” I naively mused. Then the ugly spectre of customer-hostile policies reared its head. It went a little something like this: “Yes sir. The flight is $210 round trip.” “Great. I’d like to use a credit I have with you folks. The old confirmation number is RIPOFF325.” “Yes sir. I have that credit here. How would you like to pay the balance due today?” “Huh? Balance due?” “Yes sir. There’s a $100 change fee for using the old ticket.” “Yeah. I know. Just use the credit for the $325 ticket toward the $210 ticket plus the $100 change fee and I should still have a credit of $15 with you guys, right?” I mean, I did pass arithmetic in 2nd grade. Here’s where things start going south…
https://thoughtleadersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/logo.png00Mike Figliuolohttps://thoughtleadersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/logo.pngMike Figliuolo2008-03-25 09:57:002018-12-21 13:17:56$325 Equals $210? The Math of Customer Hostile Policies
I’m pleased to bring you Susan Strayer as a guest blogger this week. You’ll find background on Susan at the end of this post. Enjoy Susan’s thoughts: The past week hasn’t been a good one for the economy for sure. Whether you’re on Wall Street or at the corner store, everyone is asking “what about me?” Recently, I was advising a mid-career business professional about his next step. The biggest shock for him wasn’t the difficulty of doing his resume or the importance of networking. It was the shock of the realization that there are thousands of people who are just as qualified as he is with the exact same experience and skill set. For years I have been underscoring the importance of professionals creating their own career brands, to get specific rather than generalize a resume for any and every opportunity. And in a tight economy, there is no more important career realization than this: there are a thousand more just like you. Whether you’re planning your career within one firm, one industry or one field, you’ve got to find a way to become a constant—known and relied upon. You need a brand. Here’s why it matters. You may remember when Apple first introduced the iPod. They were certainly ahead of the game. But Apple always knew there would be competition. So they planned for it. Instead of relying on the things all mp3 players could do, they got specific—white earbuds, a click wheel, smooth simple operations, engraveable backs. These were all very specific, very differentiated options. They were easy to market, they mattered to their customers, and they became valued and desired by consumers looking for an mp3 player. How can you use a marketing strategy to create your own career brand?
https://thoughtleadersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/logo.png00Mike Figliuolohttps://thoughtleadersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/logo.pngMike Figliuolo2008-03-18 15:10:002013-11-07 14:34:16Creating a Career Brand the iPod Way - Guest Blogger
Okay everyone. Get out your legwarmers, neon, and feather your hair. We’re heading back to the awful 80’s to talk about The Breakfast Club. Okay, maybe not that kind of breakfast club but one that can help improve your career and job satisfaction dramatically. I’ve been part of a few breakfast clubs over the years and have found them entertaining and useful. So what is it? No, it’s not detention on a Saturday with Anthony Michael Hall (which would be entertaining as long as he’s not fresh out of rehab). No the breakfast club is simple. It’s a group of coworkers who regularly meet for breakfast. Wow. Insightful stuff. But you know the brilliant things in life are usually simple and elegant. This is one of them. The first breakfast club I was a member of I also founded. We called it bagel call. There was a cool little bagel shop next door to our office building. We were all consultants at the time and usually spent the majority of our week on the road at client sites. It was sometimes difficult to stay connected with friends and colleagues. One Friday morning, I went around the office and grabbed about six people and dragged them to the bagel shop for coffee and a shmear. We discussed current client engagements, whose engagement manager was a taskmaster, family, sports, whatever. It was a nice break from the week and a pleasant way to reconnect.
https://thoughtleadersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/logo.png00Mike Figliuolohttps://thoughtleadersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/logo.pngMike Figliuolo2008-03-13 05:35:002018-06-20 16:29:04Networking At The Breakfast Club