Doing It Right!

A couple of weeks ago I was having trouble finding my favorite flavor of AmarettoCoffee-Mate. Never bothered asking the local Hy-Vee about it because I figured it would show up sooner than later.

Three weeks into the "Amaretto Coffee-Mate Drought" I popped off a Tweet to @Coffee_Mate who responded, timely by the way, "We're sorry but Amaretto has been retired why don't you try..."

WHAT?  No Amaretto Coffee-Mate?  My mornings were going to from sleepy to sad...very sad.

Over the past couple of weeks I Tweeted my disdain to my former friends @Nestle and @Coffee_Mate. Ya know, photos of the Coffee-Mate section without Amaretto. A friend of mine even chimed in with #FreeTheAmaretto for Twitter.  The brand was sorry for my troubles and suggested that maybe some new "Caramel and Coconut Girl Scout" flavor might be a replacement. What?  Who thinks of this stuff?

This past Sunday I included @Hy_Vee in my tweet...moaning about the loss of the Amaretto flavor. Within a few minutes I get a Tweet back suggesting that I send an email to hvcs@hy-vee.com with my concern. Told them the flavor was retired but went ahead and sent an email anyway. On Sunday! Within the hour I got a response...from a real person...with a real name and a real email address.  

Amaretto Coffee CreamerShocked!  Who does this?  What no Bot response...but a nice note from Kourtney?  

I responded back...just to make sure it wasn't a Bot and she wrote back, "You’re most welcome Michael! We run a 24/7 operation here so if you ever have any store requests or Fuel Saver inquires there will be someone here to take care of it!"

Oh...so what did I do?  Made my own!  Another friend on Twitter supplied me with this recipe and BAM we're in business...and, of course, I picked up the ingredients from..."My Hy-Vee".

Welcome to Des Moines Price Chopper...you've got some work ahead of you.

 

Well played Hy-Vee...very!

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You Had Me At "Welcome!"

I've just returned from a four day business trip to Memphis.  I stayed at the Memphis Downtown Sheraton (which at one time was a Marriott property). Sheraton Memphis

One word about the service:  Exceptional

From check in to check out everybody from the front desk the the valet to the bellmen to the folks that cleaned the rooms and served the food. It was the very best I've experienced.

Sure, most folks in the hospitality industry get it when it comes to customer service and they say, "Good morning!" and they say, "Yes sir!" but rarely have I run into so many people who simply opened up and...talked.  They talked about their jobs, their family their work, their church. They took time to have a conversation with a complete stranger.

One of the employees and I talked about the Memphis economy and how it feels like it's passing many by. "I'm not complaining but it's rough Michael. Really tough to make ends meet and I work two jobs."

I listened.  At the end of our brief conversation he said. "Mr. Libbie, thank you for listening and for caring. I really feel better."

People...really good people doing really good work, hard work.

It was great to meet every one of them.  It was great to move them out of "hospitalilty workers" and into...people.  Plain folks who are doing the best they can.

How about you?  Your thoughts?  Have you had the opportunity to experience amazing customer service and...at the same time...get a chance to look beyond the name tag?   Let me know?  I'm interested.

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Insight Advertising, Marketing and Communications is a full service advertising agency based in Des Moines and the fuel that powers Insight on Business the Daily Business News Broadcast.


What's Your Value?

Not long ago I was visiting with another business owner and he asked me what Business Value"value" I brought to the business relationship.  It's a good question and something that goes beyond, "What is it that you do?"

Without a doubt the value we bring to business, any business, is the ability know what consumers want; often long before our clients.

How can that be?  It's our business to hyper-listen to consumers because those are the folks who are buying what our clients have to sell.  It doesn't mater if it is a product or a service.  What does matter is are you selling what the consumer wants?  Are you bringing true value to the consumer?

Even a commodity has value.  It might be price or delivery or something else...but there is value here.

However, if you are selling something really special are you taking that thing that is special to the consumer and explaining its...value?

Here's a test:  Did you know NAPA, you know the car repair centers, have a 24 month guarantee on the parts they install in your vehicle? Let's say you get your car fixed by a NAPA Center in Dubuque and you drive to Denver and the part fails. Did you know that NAPA will replace that part and even pick up the cost of labor?

I didn't. 

I see loads of TV ads...but can't remember this being mentioned.  Maybe I missed it...but that, my friends, is value.  But...how is it being explained?  I dunno.  You? 

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Old School?

It's 7AM on Sunday and I'm in the office writting "GREAT to Meet YOU!" Thank You Notesnotes to roughly one-hundred people I met last Friday during the 16th Annual Midwest Speakers Bureau Speakers Showcase and Iowa Meetings Expo.

Yep, I could have sent an email but that's not my brand besides, I'd rather not be deleted with a push of a button.

Sure, it's pretty old school but there is something about sitting down and writing words on a piece of paper that links us...better than LinkedIn:

  • Time - It's valuable and taking time to write to your customers/clients and new friends is an investment in branding;
  • Personal - Sure you can personalize your email but why not take the extra step and communicate something special;
  • Memorable - So few people write words on paper anymore that it's highly likely this "note" will at least get noticed and, perhaps, sit on a desk for a day or so.

Shameless self promotion?  No, taking the time to write also allows us a chance to reflect on exactly what we are doing...adding value to a brief meeting that, when action is taken, benefits the writer and the reader.

So, what do you think?

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Michael Libbie is the principal of Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications and host of the daily business news broadcast, Insight on Business the News Hour.


This is Killing New Business...Dead.

Honestly, I want to help so here is something that will help your business grow while improving your brand.  (And, it's free!) FREE (2)

You know that automated answering system you have on your telephone? The one that asks me to "Enter the extension of the person you are trying to reach" or "Using the key-pad, type in the first few letters of the first name of the person you are trying to reach".

You know...That System?

It's killing your brand and your business, especially new business.

What if I don't know who the sales manager or salesperson is? Or worse yet the first name is Cathy and not Kathy?  Your answer: "Oh, just punch zero!"

Really?

And then what?  Get a voice mail like, "You've reached our general voice mail system, please leave your message at the tone."

You care that much about business...new business...to direct me to your "General Voice Mail System"?  Nice touch.

Why is your time more important than the customer who has a question or wants to buy something?

Have a good answer?

I didn't think so. 

Two things:

  • Hire Your Brand Expert - Get a real person to answer the phones and direct traffic. Then train them in your brand effort. This is an investment in your brand and your business.
  • Your Voice Mail - Change it...daily. Let people KNOW that you actually check the voice mail and that if they leave you a message you'll call them back.

Two simple, free pieces of advice that will have a major impact on your brand and your business.  Hey, it's what we do.

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Michael Libbie is the principal of Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications and the host of Insight on Business the News Hour.

 

 


Contact Us...Really?

I've just spent thirty minutes on two different non-profit websites Contact Us attempting to connect with somebody...anybody.  No, we're not selling anything we're wanting to offer some airtime on our business radio broadcast. For...free. However there is zero contact information...zero.

Let's see if we can help:

Websites, in this century, are not only billboards about your business or your non-profit business they are communication tools that help you interact among members, consumers, future members, future consumers. Increasingly people search on-line first before making an investment in nearly...anything.  But, don't take my word for it. PriceWaterhouseCoopers finds that 80% of global consumers research products online before buying in stores, and that 73% of U.S. consumers do.  And that study is three years old!

Don't hide your contact information.  Some quick tips:

  • Contact Us Page - Make sure you have one and that it gives the visitor some sense that you'll actually respond;
  • Phone Number - Some folks still use one. List it and return the call; 
  • Info@Us - Avoid using "Info" or "Contact" as "names in the contact email.  It takes seconds to put a real person's name there.  People want to communicate with people not..."Info";
  • Be Welcoming - You do want consumers to interact with you...right? Make your "Contact us Page" welcoming and open for dialogue. 
  • Photos - If you have an Executive Director, you know the person that is the paid face and voice of your non-profit, use his/her photo if possible and at the beginning of the bio have that link to the email address;
  • Respond - I know, it's a pain to communicate with customers and if you ignore them long enough...they will ignore your business/non-profit.  Why risk the alienation?;
  • LinkedIn - You may have heard about it.  If you have somebody that is the face and voice of your business or non-profit why not use this method as an additional way to connect with consumers?

Seven things that will help you better communicate with folks that want to know more about you...your company...your non-profit.  Do you have others?

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Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications is a full service advertising agency based in the Des Moines Metro and the fuel that powers Insight on Business, The News Hour. Our Twitter Handle is @InsightADV and our Facebook Page is right here.

Thanks for reading!


The Perfect Customer

I was buying some things for the office and, not exactly sure of the Happy Customerspecifics of what I wanted, I let the owner guide be to the right items. That adventure got us talking about "The Perfect Customer".

"You know", he said, "We had a meeting not long ago where we started writing down the qualities of the perfect customer. Now, don't get me wrong, we would sell our products to anybody that comes in. However, the perfect customer appreciates the relationship we build and our product knowledge over price. If somebody were to say to us, 'I can get that for a dollar cheaper over at the big box store.' We would match the price but if it is always about price vs. value and building a solid relationship.  Well, we'd rather spend our time with those perfect customers."

I get it.  If you live by price...you die by price.  There is always somebody that can beat or match your cost. However, when you focus on product knowledge and work at building relationships with your customers you'll keep them for a very long time.

That's the real value in The Perfect Customer...

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Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications is a full service advertising agency based in the Des Moines Metro and the fuel that powers Insight on Business, The News Hour. Our Twitter Handle is @InsightADV and our Facebook Page is right here.

Thanks for reading!


What Your Voice Mail Says...About Your Business

We take this voice mail thing seriously.  Each day we update our out- Man Fingers in Earsgoing message.  It let's clients, vendors and others know that we actually check voice mail and their message doesn't get...lost. Here is that post with simple tips to make your voice mail work for you.

The other day we reached out to a local business, at their request. Here is the message we heard from a woman at the business: "Thank you for calling. We open at 3PM. Messages left here are not checked."  

Huh?  Well, at least they "thanked" us for calling.

Uhm...one word: Stunned.  So much so that four days after calling it's still bugging us. Guess we could call after 3PM but we're more likely just to pass on this one.

Are we wrong?

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Insight Advertisng, Marketing & Communications is based in Des Moines, Iowa and is the fuel that powers Insight on Business the News Hour a daily business broadcast.  


Who Controls Your Brand?

I am a throw-back to another era.  I happen to enjoy getting the hard DM Register Home Delivery 1 Use-pngcopy Des Moines Register each morning and have done so for years.  About 5am each day it's a cup of coffee and the Register.  And, except for the sports section (sorry Bryce) I tend to read every word. OK, confession...now that AHL Hockey is coming back and the Iowa Cubs are playing...I'll read those stories.)

When the Des Moines Register decided to start their "Pay-to-View" policy last year i didn't leave.  I signed up.  In other words, I'm a loyal customer and willing to shell out the $24 a month for the ability to keep informed at home or away on business.

The first time my newspaper was "delivered" to the end of my driveway (100 feet away from the usual location) I let it pass. "Maybe a new delivery person", I thought.  That was a week ago.

DM Register Home Delivery 2 use-pngYesterday, during the rain, the "delivery" was once again at the foot of the driveway. (Image 1)  Today the "delivery" was deposited next to the rain-soaked daily of yesterday. (Image 2) And, if you click on the image and look across the street you'll see my neighbor's copy about six feet away from the garbage containers.

Today I decided to report the issue.  It's not that I'm adverse to exercise, I did 90 minutes yesterday, it's just that I like the service.  So, I called.  The automation was expected and I requested a call back.  "The Machine" said that would happen within thirty minutes.  It did.

Sheila said it was not standard procedure for delivery on a carrier route to deliver away from the house and asked if I'd like to make sure we (and our neighbors) paper was delivered doorstep.  I did but, I wondered why I had to spend the time to wrangle through the reporting issue on the phone and on-line.

Bottom Line: No matter how hard folks work to produce a product the brand can be tarnished the most by the folks who actually come into contact with the consumer.  That's true here...and in your business...no matter what product or service you sell.

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If you would like to leave a comment here, feel free.  Or let's connect on our advertising agency Twitter Feed @InsightADV and/or our advertising agency Facebook Page which is right here.  Thanks for reading!  Michael Libbie


Customer Service Lessons from...Chubby Checker

We're sure you are wondering, "How could Chubby Checker hold the keys to improving customer service for my business?"  OK..fair question and here is the story.

Chubby Mike WindishA couple of weeks ago I made contact with Chubby Checker about his appearance in Iowa.  We've been friends for years but I'd never seen him perform.  He, right away, shot me an email saying, "Love to see you! Here is the contact information for my road manager Mike Windish."  If you've had any experience with the entertainment industry you know that customer service is often lacking.  But I called Mike and left a message.  Within thirty minutes he called me back to make "arrangements".  I told him we'd buy tickets and he said, "No sir, Chubby insists" and asked me to call once we arrived.  I did and he was there to greet our party of three and the experience was...great.

So...what are the lessons your business can learn from Chubby?  Here you go:

  • Return Phone Calls - Seriously...so many times we are the folks wanting to buy but trying to get a return call is often futile.
  • Take the Time - Mike Windish is a busy guy with a family and a very public job (he's also the drummer in the band) yet he took the time to visit about a variety of things and that was surprising.
  • Follow Through - It could have been, "Your tickets will be at Will Call" and that was it.  But, Mike followed through with a text and a phone call to make sure.
  • Be Nice - We had NO idea what Mike looked like.  Yet when we entered the concert area my phone rang again. "I think you just walked past me..."  When we met he said, "I figured that was you. You have a presence..."  He didn't have to say that.
  • Make It Easy - It was all Mike Windish who set up the after concert meeting.  Made sure security knew who we were as well as the band.
  • Never Forget - Who the customer is...and what they can mean to your business.  Mike...gets it.

When we were leaving I asked Mike how it was that a 32 year old (former school teacher by the way) understood how critical his job of "customer service" is.  He said, "I am honored to be working for a wonderful teacher.  Chubby Checker is the very best at understanding what needs to be done...every day...to remain successful."

Nice...very.

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If you would like to leave a comment here, feel free.  Or let's get together on our advertising agency Twitter Stream @InsightADV or our agency Facebook Page.  Thanks for coming by!