64. Changing The Client Experience In Law With Clarissa Rayward

64. Changing The Client Experience In Law With Clarissa Rayward

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with Mel Telecican (Customer-Centric Coach)

Episode 64. Changing The Client Experience In Law With Clarissa Rayward

Mel: Hi welcome to episode number 64. My name is Mel Telecican I am your host and today I am speaking with a lawyer who is really shaking things up in the industry and has been for some time and recently was awarded by her peers as thought leader of the year. She is really changing the client experience and in an industry that is typically very traditional, it is really fascinating story about what she does and how she does it and how other people sitting up and taking notice as a result.

Clarissa: Hello I am Clarissa. I am the Director of Brisbane Family Law Centre and I am also known as ‘The Happy Family Lawyer’.


You are listening to the customer centric show with Mel Telecican where we talk with successful business owners and experts to share smart ways to attract more customers, profits and freedom by thinking customers first. Now, here is your host Mel Telecican.

Mel: Clarissa Rayward, is the Director of Brisbane Family Law Centre. She’s also known as ‘The Happy Family Lawyer’. I invited Clarissa on the show because she is an example of how, even in an industry like law, there is a better way. A way can do things differently to the benefit of the customer, or in this case, the client. As a Divorce Lawyer, Clarissa specializes in helping separating families stay out of the Family Courts and stay friends as she believes that a divorce can be a positive end to a marriage. Over the past 13 years Clarissa has worked as a specialist family lawyer and has helped over 2,000 Australian families through their divorce. That experience has reinforced her belief that traditional legal processes do little to help separating families find a positive future after divorce. She believes it takes more than lawyers and Courts to help families through divorce and separation in a way that ensures a positive end to a marriage. For this reason she established Brisbane Family Law Centre, a multidisciplinary practice where lawyers work alongside counsellors and financial planners to ensure that clients receive the holistic support they need at such a challenging time like that. Clarissa is determined to change the way Australian families experience divorce and separation for the better. She is known as ‘The Happy Family Lawyer’ because she believes that a divorce can be something you can look back on with pride. So for this reason I’m excited to bring you Clarissa who is a good friend of mine, to share with you the importance of thinking about the client experience and outcome above and beyond what is the traditional approach. So thanks for joining me today Clarissa.

Clarissa: Thanks so much for having me.

Mel: Now let’s talk about your example as we do every episode of a customer centric business. Is there anything that brings to mind for you?

Clarissa: So I had to think about this and I got on so I am really happy with that hah. My first example and just few weeks ago I was up in Townsville doing some teaching and they started the client hotel I want to give them applaud in Townsville and good lovely hotel. Nice and clean and usual. Nothing remarkable though about the hotel itself. It is a nice hotel. But their service and what did make it remarkable for me was their service because we have those classic occasions where you have been doing business where you have to check out it is 10 am but you are not leaving Townsville and it wasn’t until about 10 pm that day and they come back to the hotel after we have done our day at work. Use their facilities, leave our bags there. They really went out of their way to make our whole experience there. Then when we checked out it was really great and I myself been talking about ever since anyone I met but I know I might do business in Townsville because it really was something that I haven’t experienced in a hotel for such a long time. I mean you checkout and they look after your bags. Best of luck using the shower something like that later in the day. That’s one example.

Mel: Wow that is great. So do they allow you access to the room?

Clarissa: They allowed us access yeah. There is some facilities there that they have included the shower and other stuff which meant we can do silly walk to the top of castle hill in afternoon get little hot and comeback have a shower and yeah it made such a difference.

Mel: That is great so yeah that element of surprise like I guess is the fact that you actually ask for that. Did someone ask or offer it? Or how did they come about?

Clarissa: I think one of the guys that I was travelling with just made the comment that we were there at really long time and it would be nice to still sort of do some stuff rather in Townsville the hotel I think that was the owner/manager said that’s okay we got showers here you can use them. Just kept saying we will give you all the stuff. I must say I don’t go to Townsville a lot but I know that when I do I make the effort of staying in that hotel because of that. That’s the links they went to.

Mel: Fantastic. Good Stuff and you said you got others on that list. Who else you thinking?

Clarissa: My first is well I am a mad coffee lover so every morning my daughter and I go to same coffee shop around the corner in our house and it is amazing and what makes it amazing is the staff or goals that work there. They are like my friends now and know probably more about me than my friends because I go there every single day hah and that’s what makes that experience amazing because it is probably 4 coffee shops in distance but I go to this one and the coffee is good but it is that capacity to have a five minute conversation in the morning with someone who genuinely seems interested in what you are doing and something that just reminded me is on Saturday I got a good morning written on my coffee cup by Tyler who works there who has become friend of mine. In Instagram I posted it and said thanks so much Tyler for my good morning and Tyler then engage with me on Instagram and it just was a reminder to me because I love social media. It is a big part of my business and I always make the effort when people are engaging on social media to engage back because I think it is customer, client or someone that’s connected with your business takes the time in the effort to engage in that sort of positive and public way. It is so worthwhile to engage back and I do that as a customer all the time for business and it always amazes me how many businesses just never engage. So you might be throwing public comment and I always do things positive and never do any negative and we just met here and everything versus the time and the effort to come back to you and say just anything whatever it might be makes a big difference.

Mel: Absolutely and so does Tyler you know typically look after the Instagram account? Is it something she manages?

Clarissa: No she came back with her own personal account and that was really nice and sort of personal relationship. Kudos to guys who run this coffee shop because they really got a great team down there who are creating customer service without serving to be part of it.

Mel: Like you say there is competition there and they are all doing great coffee then that’s the differentiator isn't it? it is that connectivity and the thoughtfulness and I guess there is another example though the purpose for staff to be connected to you know there are obviously element of pride to what they do that they actually would be filling their business they work for, their Instagram account but actually to be looking out for those sort of things that is fantastic. Good example. Thank you for sharing that one as well. Both hospitality business based ones and perhaps that’s a big area is in Australia that we don’t have is brilliant experiences and there is some good examples of where is being done really well. So perfect. Thanks for sharing that.

Clarissa: Simple things.

Mel: Yes they are but it is that stopping and taking time and thinking it through I guess having the right people onboard. Now let’s talk briefly around why you took this approach? I expect it would be easier for you to start a family law practice that was just like the others and it is traditional and I guess falling the same way everything is always been done but instead you have taken a different park. Can you give a bit of reason to what led to that?

Clarissa: Absolutely and I think in some way it is a selfish reason because I started early in family lawyer. It really started to take a toll on me watching what was happening to the people I was working with and families I was working with. The impact of a traditional legal process. What that often means is families find themselves in family courts, that’s very expensive process. Both financially but also emotionally expensive and so for me as young lawyer it started to take a toll on me as well because I didn’t feel like I was doing a good thing in this world. I was sort of looking and thinking wow I am part of potential problem and that’s not all what I went into law for. So by setting up a business that focuses on keeping families away from the courts and ideally finding positive ends to merges is personally family satisfying but I see that for the families I am working with, the outcomes are so much better. the cost and emotional cost are lower and when we are talking about families we are talking about children, we are talking about parents having ongoing relationships with children for literally the rest of their lives so the work that I do I am pretty privilege to do but it can have some positive and significant impact in a very negative way as well. So I was looking for a way of working with families going through divorces, separation that would minimize the overall potential harm that they might experience.

Mel: So as a service already you I guess helping solve a problem that exist. You are looking for people who separate a divorce trying to figure out customer arrangements, property arrangements and things like that but then you have taken the next step of going and look where is actually a problem within this system as well and how we do things because the end user or the end client the people who are going through this are finding this difficult, the children are finding it difficult and so you have taken it. Is it called collaborative practice? Is that how it is totally?

Clarissa: My business is sort of really modeled around a form of law that’s called collaborative practice to anyone that practices in more to average person that has nothing to do with law. I would describe it by saying it is almost common sense why I am solving a problem in that. You sit down and you really try to understand what the cause of the problem is? What are potential solutions of the problem and you are looking at a win. Outcomes that meet the needs of everyone at the table rather that applying pure law which law gives the answer and sorry if that answer doesn’t suit you, your life, your children, but that’s the legal answer. So we are looking for balance between what a families might themselves think what is the right thing and balancing that with the law by putting the families own goals and values ahead of what the law might say is the perfect and legal outcome in any situation.

Mel: Okay good stuff. so in terms of then attracting people to your business because we always talk about the ways we can attract more customers to have business so for you I would expect that may be a lot of people would be coming in your direction because of doing it this way or would that be wrong?

Clarissa: No that’s right and so it attracts a particular type of client. There are people that obviously as you said experiencing or thinking about separation or divorce and they are looking for respectful dignifying solution. So that’s the sort of client that I would describe as my ideal client and that is genuinely attractive to this business.

Mel: Okay and so do you have people that would inquire because you are and given your business name that’s Brisbane family law center. Doesn’t seem to differentiate itself in the title. Do you get a lot of people coming in perhaps not actually knowing that this is the approach you prefer to take or they all come in based on knowledge of your approach?

Clarissa: Yeah I would say far less off the first option in terms of people just sort of going on what sort of coming because of name I think in this day and age in my industry clients are more than ever before and it would so rare for someone to come here without already done some online research and so most people would come as a result of two main avenues to my business. The first is personal referrals or alternative way through the website and the website is very much structured to be very clear for what we are about and what our business is about and type of service we offer. So I think if you are a client that is seeking what I would call a more traditional lawyer, you probably spend two minutes of my website and go. So I very rarely these days see people that don’t have some knowledge of the firm before they come in.

Mel: Great so that personal referral side of things, would you have any figures around how significant that is in terms of your new clients coming on board?

Clarissa: It is probably equal between online referrals and personal referrals. So it is round about 50/50 but that’s become more equivalent because I got much better work presence now than I would have for 6 years ago and I think as consumer based people using online resources to source things like as much more than they have had before. So it is not that my referrals have dropped off in that sense I think it is just number of leads coming into the business in increasing each year and I am seeing that majority of that increase coming through online sources.

Mel: Yeah so let’s talk about website for one because when I didn’t mentioned the intro is that Clarissa is an author and she published splits fill. What’s the bottom line? Can you share with us?

Clarissa: Yeah certainly have to separate, stay out of court and stay friends.

Mel: Yeah so that’s one of the I guess significant pieces of content that you created but on your website you have also got quite a lot there too. So how important is that for your type of business and what sort of information is on there?

Clarissa: Yeah so I think this is massively important and working in legal profession, it is pretty static industry that really is struggling to move at the times when it is only just starting to move with the time. so it is been a little bit sense of clear open model for me in terms of website and being able to attract online leads, my firm website has organically become sort of number one on google for most of search terms which is great and that’s been a huge thing to achieve. I have got 2 sites. I have got Brisbane site and I got my personal blog brand site and both feed back into my core business here and so content wise I sort of have everything. I have obviously articles, I have video, and there is podcasts that I have been involved. There is a lot of stuff and my approach in the online world and in business has just been give and it ultimately returns.

Mel: Yeah and that’s what people are looking for and everything you engage with lawyer it is stressful in some capacity and so being able to have those resources there for people to consume and to feel confident with their decision is going to position you if it is what they want is going to position you above your competitors for that reason.

Clarissa: Yeah and I think as an industry again, lawyers have been one that is reluctant to give information. There has been a few around if I give too much I may been giving away the long health secrets of my intellectual property. The irony of course not is thanks to google everything is online. You can go and read every decision out of court of Australia for the last 10 years if you feel the need online. So for client there is no ended information to access and my approach is been to try and take what can be very complicated information break it down into easy way.

Mel: That’s exactly what I was about to say that you do really well is actually frame everything enough and that’s a mistake a lot of people make across industries is that they talk in industry job which doesn’t actually help the situation so that is something you do really well and clearly connects with your audience or potential clients.

Clarissa: Yeah and I enjoy writing that too. Think about the industry job and for long hours I wouldn’t write as much as I do but that is what I can sit and break it down into just common language that you and I use that make it much easier.

Mel: Absolutely. I think that conversational tune is really clear. Whenever I do read your blog articles I do think yeah that just sounds like Clarisse as if she was speaking so to have that I think creates that trust as well for the reader who is someone who doesn’t know you so well done that’s really fantastic. So referrals are important and then being able to connect with people through that helpful content is what is driving business that’s great. Let’s talk about starting a law firm and I guess taking a different approach too is probably not the easiest thing to do. So what would you say in your years of running your business has helped you maintain a level of profitability to keep things changing along nicely?

Clarissa: So my simple answer to that question is to always be trying things and always be testing and measuring whether that’s working. So I think when I first opened the firm I had this motion that you opened the business, you sort of got people in and six months’ time it just being tinkering and I go to the Bahama or something hah that was visual of what life is going to be like and of course with 6 six months I knew quickly that so not what happens when I started the business and so for me it is not thinking this place as static but always thinking of potential for improvement, potential for change. The business world is changing so much at the moment. So always looking for different better ways to do things efficiently. That’s my big guiding principles when it comes to business.

Mel: Having known few lawyers in my time I probably wouldn’t have thought the profitability would be. I probably would have agreed with your Bahamas I guess project about where things would be going as well but let’s talk about fixed fees because a lot of businesses and law are starting to talk about it and of course there are public liability that say no. obviously there is a ratio that comes into play when people do win but so all of that comes into play with profitability do you think this move towards fixed fee is a good measure for business because I think the profitability would be there not in a fixed fee?

Clarissa: I think that’s part correct. If you think of a traditional time based building model that many firms talk right under. It does in itself encourage a level of efficiency so it does encourage people to work as you getting paid by the hour so doesn’t really matter if I rush this or not. And it also sadly can encourage a situation where the longer the file work the longer the client is client of your business obviously the money and business potential they can make out of them. With my model one of the challenges that I faced doing work that it tends to be average cost or particular client to be far less than that particular client they are in now in traditional firm. So I need far volume to maintain my business. So for me it is about ensuring that we have more clients but therefore charging them a lesser amount per client and the beauty I found with fixed fee is that it forces us as a group of professionals in my business to focus on proficiency and doing things. yeah efficiently and quickly and really looking at what actually needs to be done on a particular client and it also enables us to give quotes to clients but might say look for this particular level of service, this might be price versus if this is the level of service that you think you are comfortable with and you are willing to do a large amount of this by yourself then the price might be different. So for me it is taking a while to be able to make that shift but I have really enjoyed it. I think it is so much easier as a business owner because it gives you clarity. You can predict your future cash flows with a lot of clarity versus working on hourly rate because that’s my lawyer with certain amount that we might recruit but you never really know.

Mel: Unless you set targets differently and I would also think that perhaps as a staff member that the fact something can be drawn out which cannot be what staff member control but that you actually get through the process faster if there are some constraints around time frames, knowing on past history of how things would normally map out.

Clarissa: Yeah that’s right. I think also for team members and for people working on law firms what I have seen with fixed price is it takes a big money off their back so it is not nice if you are an employee and whole day is being recorded in 6 minutes and in the end of the day you sort of step back and go oh i haven’t done much work today and by boss is going to be asking me questions about that. it is very different thing when you don’t have to record any of that and your day is purely about getting your task done and if you took all day to do it then so be it but still get it done by Wednesday.

Mel: So productivity is not negatively impacted. Okay great. Now going to move onto freedom. So as business owners I speak to people for the show, we always have a conversation around what can be done to be able to spend less time I guess in the business and more time working on the business. If you got any tips that you can share with us what has been worthwhile for yourself helpful for you?

Clarissa: It is all about team. Having people on your business that can particularly manage the operations. For me that is obviously lawyers that do legal services and the better lawyers are having the better quality if legal service they are able to provide means they are signing to be involved in that aspect of the business which then freeze me up to be purely on working on the business and really the strategy focusing on bringing in leads. All of that sort of thing. So that wasn’t something I was able to achieve in the first 6 months of business. That has taken me different methods with different types of stuff but I am touching my distance. That freedom probably comes from having a great team sitting with you.

Mel: Hmm and so when you open the firm how long did it take? Did you start with team of staff or did you slowly onboard? How did that unfold?

Clarissa: I did start with the team that was of myself, my PA, she was there in the part time capacity and we had a receptionist as well. so that’s more team versus now I think I actually don’t know how many people work here but it is round about 11 part time and I got all these unusual work rate that is going on.

Mel: And you actually got people who work remotely too haven’t you? How does that work?

Clarissa: It ironically work so well. Our team member she got remote access. She has been here in Brisbane so she flew up to do mediation today for client she has been assisting. It has worked seamlessly and because she is amazing. So she is someone that I trust wholeheartedly. She is a great person. She is studying where she is now so she is working part time for me and the capacity obviously is someone can work from anywhere from the country potentially anywhere in the world thanks to technology has really opened my mind and to potential opportunities with my business now moving forward.

Mel: Yeah that’s fantastic and so when you take on a new lawyer. How do you know when to take that leap into take on extra people?

Clarissa: Hmm so my approach maybe isn't the best one hah. It has been person isn't available and someone seeks out a job and I think you are a great person and you are potentially really brand aligned and I want to grab you now. So I always been someone as an employer that looks like a good investment in the future and therefore come into my business and the majority of time has worked really well but other times it is really and trying to set team with right numbers. So I think I do a lot of intuition when I am hiring people and in business decisions generally.

Mel: Yes and you do it very well so as an outside looking in those have been really fantastic choices. You got a great team there. Now can you share with us some project that is coming up that you are working on? I did forgot to mention the part of what you do is an addition to blogs is you got workshops, online webinars as well.

Clarissa: Yeah I do so that’s something under the happy family lawyer brand that I do like to try to do on monthly basis. So I do workshops here in Brisbane for people that are just thrilled I guess seeking information about the legal process when it comes to divorce and separation and so they are really east coast price. 25 dollars. Easy for most people to access. I enjoy doing that because that means people may not be able to afford the full gamble of legal services and it can at least get it on the descending of the legal process and what they need to know. A lot of people can then go and manage big parts of their own divorce process by themselves and then I also offer online webinars so I have got one of those coming up in 2 weeks and all different topics. Lately I have been trying to pull in a lot of my friends in this divorce space. So one on June is psychologist Maria who has done years of work with families and with people. She is going to talk us through things that you can do look after and make the whole process just emotional perspective a lot easier. I love webinar because they are so easy to put together but obviously people obey their country. Such a great way for me to learn and then record it so that’s the resource that I can use moving forward particularly with clients and friends. Next time someone comes in and I think most people would be struggling all have that webinar and I can say here is something that give you some medium resources of things you can do to make things easier for yourself.

Mel: That’s fantastic and do you do Q and A live when you do webinars?

Clarissa: Yeah definitely. I make it compulsory because I make them free webinars that is compulsory for everyone online. It is nice to know who is listening. I do webinars for lawyers based on who are my friends. So absolutely there must be compulsory questions hah.

Mel: Yeah I guess they are burning questions that perhaps can be a topic further next webinar I guess essentially and so I know that you are working on a second book. Do you care to share with us what that topic is about?

Clarissa: Yes certainly so sort of quarter way through at the moment at this point called happy lawyer happy life. How to be happy in law and in life. Because we got real problem in profession of unhappiness and at a serious level people suffering from depression and anxiety and the Australian studies are showing that one in three lawyers in some point of their career would probably suffer from depression and anxiety. That’s just too significant for me to be comfortable with so I guess I am trying to write a little bit of my own story when I started the blog happy family lawyer. I wasn’t the most wonderful hit space either and what I found is it forced me to think about happiness and think about what that means and as a result a lot of lawyers get in contact with me. I am trying to write a pretty practical book that is aimed at professionals but particularly lawyers that may not be entirely that depressed in a very serious place but I just potentially go in that way or potentially just unhappy and really trying to give those resources line. How you can survive in this industry which isn't always the easiest industry to be part of and be yourself and have a life and live a real difference in life in time.

Mel: And good for employers too I expect because for whatever reason it is good to know what people that you employ could be going through this part of journey when they are this pressures and perhaps tuning into that can actually help you counter it.

Clarissa: Definitely and myself as an employer certainly when I started this book I started bit of talking challenges here around help for happiness because I thought I cannot go out and have potentially none happy offers hah. We have great workplace and happy people but I know I have my own merits where I am not happy and I had one of those only last week and I think it is important both as leader and organization to acknowledge that you cannot be smelling roses and jumping around every single day. That is moments in life where for whatever reason people are not going to be that great and having a really positive dialogue around that for me it is literally acknowledging itself and then writing about it. That’s how I process that but I encourage that with the people working with me that when things whether things outside of work, I reflect in them that they try and openly talk about it as much as they are comfortable with because it is normal. It shouldn’t be seen as abnormal it is normal.

Mel: Hmm and it is more likely to be manageable I guess if it can be talked about. Sometimes it is sharing right. It is helpful way of doing it.

Clarissa: today life is not happy for me and you don’t have to tell me why but at least as employer and friend and someone working with you right now like okay let’s not make it that particular thing today because that’s going to work that off.

Mel: I like it good stuff. So Clarissa if people want to find you, follow your work or your practice as well, where can they find you?

Clarissa: So online is my favorite place obviously and if you interested in silly photographs of me and my daughter then it is Instagram and it is my favorite place to be which is the happy family lawyer but website wise thehappyfamilylawyer.com is my main active website and then businessfamilycenter.com.au is the capacity define the law firm and I am also huge fan of Facebook so I am pretty describe myself and honor and happily share my stories and my life hah.

Mel: You got a nice balance of work related things and laugh because as happy family lawyer brand I guess is explaining. There is more to life than work. So there is nice balance of things is definitely shown in your social media.

Clarissa: Hah that’s exactly and photographs and pancakes and I think to be happy in life we have to be like a whole person and work not as part of whole person but whole lot. Everything is what makes each other up and that’s a beautiful thing and it should be celebrated.

Mel: Congratulations on taking on what is not the well-known path at all and I am sure it is challenging but also thinking beyond what I guess is tradition and making sure the outcome is best for everyone around. You do whatever they found is fantastic job and your team does as well so thanks for sharing with us on the show today everything that you are doing and best of luck for the second book. Great to have you.

Clarissa: Thanks.

Thanks for listening to the customer centric show. For additional smart ways to attract more customers, profits and freedom head on over to the website www.customercentricshow.com.

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63. Tourism & The Customer Experience with Mark Evans

63. Tourism & The Customer Experience with Mark Evans

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with Mel Telecican (Customer-Centric Coach)

Episode 63. Tourism & The Customer Experience with Mark Evans

You are listening to the customer centric show with Mel Telecican where we talk with successful business owners and experts to share smart ways to attract more customers, profits and freedom by thinking about customers first. Now, here is your host Mel Telecican.

Mel: Mark Evans is my guest tonight. He is the owner of Paronella Park, a hugely successful heritage-listed tourist attraction in far North Queensland that has been in his family for over 20 years. During this time, customer service has been not only been their biggest focus, but has resulted in their biggest marketing successes. In this episode Mark reveals the many ways his family and team go above and beyond for every customer to ensure their visit is wonderful - focusing on the little details that amount to a superior experience. Paronella Park has an active and engaged Facebook community of over 20,000 fans, and thrives on partnerships and referral business. Great to have you with me Mark. Thanks for joining me.

Mark: Thanks very much Mel, nice to be with you.

Mel: Now we start the show by asking every guest with an example of customer centric business is that they are aware of and what it is that makes them customer centric. What’s yours?

Mark: There is a small but vibrant business just down the road from us. A business that is a carrier van park and it is called August Meeting and it is just outside in this farm and that business for years has had bit of check and career and new owners took it over just a couple of years ago. In fact I met the owner before they purchased and we had a chat about this exact subject but being in customer service and how people can improve their relationship with their customers. I must say that they have grown their business in a very short time which I think about 20 months now and they have set themselves up well and truly for this season to be to have a positive season and I think the things that they do extremely well is that they face it with the customer. On arrival, they took a bit of leaf out of their own book but they do greet the customer in the car park so the customer doesn’t have to be looking at around to whether that reception desk is. They also and I get to meet quite a few of those customer because they are also referred to our business. So you get a firsthand feedback on the experience that they are having and they always mention Julie and Cameron at august moon as having the ultimate in customer service and so helpful and I guess it is just as simple as being so helpful.

Mel: Yes absolutely. I think of who do care even and the amount of times they come across new people who are heading in the opposite direction into them and that you know unless they got every sort of stop mapped out then there is a great potential for referral business for them because they can actually refer to them by name and say you know they come out to you and greet you as to searching around as you say then that’s a big differentiator I expect in that space.

Mark: Yeah and it is the opposite too. The opposite side of the coin is if you are looking in good referral you possibly get in negative referral and for a long time we have looked at the value of things like social media and so on but at the end of the day if you have person at your business, at your door, ready, willing and able to purchase, if they leave and tell someone else, you really don’t have to spend a lot of money and time using other means that might cost money to get people to come back to you because those people that you looked after would be referring guests back to you. Particularly in the Caravan business.

Mel: Yes absolutely. So many people coming across each other and sharing that news 100 percent. Now do you mind Mark giving us a brief history of Paronella Park, what it is? And the family background attached to it?

Mark: Yeah look it is extremely hard to describe what paronella park is and quite often the first we say and you hear me talking a little bit later about meeting our guest but the first point I make is you arrive at paronella park, well and truly uncertain about what it is and that sounds strange for any business that you pull into the car park with friends to visit but still not be sure what it is and the reason for that is I guess there is no other place quite like it. it is a tourist park in North Queensland just outside the south at a place called Meet and creek, it is on the road that used to be the boost highway so it was the highway in 1960s and there was gentlemen by the name of Jose Paronella who came out from Barcelona around about 1912 and he saw waterfall just off the highway next to the highway and on the street called media creek and he decided he wanted to purchase that land and he finally purchased the property in 1929 for 120 pounds and his total dream and commitment was to present it as a pleasure garden. So to build castles and fountains and bridges and tennis courts and all these lovely pieces, and he built Paronella Park from 1929 to 1935 which is year he opened the park to the public. He actually planted it out with over 7000 trees and it was a hugely successful business. He had people from the local area. It was a wonderfully successful business. A couple of things about Jose Paronella, he was inspired by Gatti and work back in Barcelona. It was not an architect or builder. He was qualified pastry chef and so he I guess was competing against people saying we cannot do it and so it was a really and he harvest that in fact. It was a motivator for him to actually build Paronella Park against the words of maybe people that consider themselves more logical and the end result is he had a hugely successful business but only for a few years because in 1948 Jose Paronella passed away. He died at age 60 and I guess a couple of things that come out of that is no doubt he was the huge motivator and inspirer and dreamer for Paronella park but also we saw Paronella park to a degree start to fade over the next few years but certainly when things like highway diversion took place in 1960s, things really went quite badly and Paronella park fell away and it was in 1993 that we found Paronella park after spending a couple on the road with our children salivating this one different country and having someone suggest we might be interested in checking out this property called Paronella park as if it was for sale.

Mel: Okay and so you always run it?

Mark: Yes. There has been the Paronella has sold the property in 1977 and the people have purchased in basically abandoned a couple of years later and there were a couple of attempts over the following years to try and get going again but I think the thing that was lacking is we now own the freehold and if you don’t own the freehold it is very hard to commit time and for the dollars into something that maybe you are not going to get a full return on so it is a lot easier for us to be totally committed to putting an invest in the future and so we have earned it now for 22 years. We have been involved in all those years since we don’t certain say ourselves as anything else but doing this for a few years.

Mel: Great so where were you from originally Mark if you are cultivating around the Queensland region or you…

Mark: We in fact just came back from Singapore, Julie and I for many years in computer industry and we had transferred to Singapore for 6 years and in the computer industry you got to move around quite a bit in those years back in the 70s and 80s and in 1991 we decided to head back to Australia as a time to ditch the corporate world and try our own thing. So we travelled from Perth that was where Julie grew up and so Perth we called home for a while but we decided it was time to look at Australia and take our children and show them what Australia is like rather than Singapore and we certainly looked at couple of things. We were looking down in Tasmania, we loved Tasmania but in the end it got a little bit cold and we decided it was time to head north and hit the topping.

Mel: That’s it hah. So okay it is interesting because it is more than just resurrecting a business that previously existed so many decades before successfully and then you also have the potential obstacle of not knowing anyone in the area having to build the relationships in the partnerships with local business so that you can actually get some attraction. Was that a difficult process? Or was it a long process? How did you find it?

Mark: I think it still is part of the process because one thing is for sure, you hit a key point on head when attraction has had a check in career for quite some years in business. You cannot go in and say well you draw a line and we start from here. You don’t start from there. You start well back from the line and it is a true handicap. For example we borrowed some money to have property in Perth and the bank manager I can recall when I made the phone call, he actually said yes I can setup a meeting for Monday. Can I ask you what you are looking at buying? And I said we are looking at purchasing Paronella park and before he even met us he said well I wouldn’t and couldn’t recommend anyone purchase Paronella park and so we may have some issues there about lending other money and we got there on Monday and some percent of listeners would enjoy this, he walked up and shook our hand in meeting on Monday morning and said I apologize. He said I spoke to my wife on weekend and she actually suggested that if the right people buy Paronella Park, that would do very well. So we finished up getting the things we needed to launch the property and buy the property and get things going.

Mel: Wow that’s fascinating because it just come down to how you pitched it and how you imagine that was going to be and because you don’t have any product experience into tourist attractions at that stage.

Mark: No and I think the effect that we haven’t had experience in operating tourism attraction probably helped us because we looked at it from a totally different perspective and something not bit naively but we looked at it as we being the tourists and I guess in that way you are really looking at it and saying how would the customer look at us and how would we like to be treated and I think that there were many people out there at that time where it wouldn’t happen. I think part of that was affected we know but I guess Jose Paronella never booked that one up either so we're taking a leaf out of his book which is the more we heard negative, probably the harder we worked, then we went to the bank manager we had a document possibly 2 and half pages long which was our business plan. He said he never received a business plan before.

Mel: This is early 90s right.

Mark: Yeah exactly so bank manager he basically sitting there and giving him the document and in those years if you are in business you take business plan to manager but in country original Queensland it wasn’t certainly the case. So it was very interesting thing and exercise and once we purchased the property I think our business in computer industry and corporate world came through. The first thing we did we got a document together which was look if you look at you go at business plan but it wasn’t a plan and what it was is it was the list of some 60 things we had to do to paronella park to get going again and that was very important. So it was simply a list 1, 2, 3, 4 and just went on and on and we were sitting there and buying this all in and a lot of them just got things like cutting back tree or creating a little bit of an area where you can put something. You know they were simple but the things we have to action and you got to remember those days it was Julie and I and 3 kids.

Mel: Mark you said something before and I really liked that phrase of being the tourist and I know that there are a quite few things that you do that you are actually thinking about the processes. Obviously it starts with as you mentioned in the park, you actually come out to greet people or your family and employees come out to greet people and you do other things as well. Can you talk us through the process that you have actually created to make sure that experience or that path to your business is actually as wonder as you would hope it to be? So that people would refer you.

Mark: Yeah. It is interesting because you look on and reflect on all these things like trip advisor and you get to go online and you can see there is one way this morning and I looked at it and it is hit up BT and I spoke to BT yesterday and he said I am going to put up a trip advisor. This is wonderful. Now that was on departure he told me that but I think the most and it is very hard to say what is being key to our success in terms of being all together but I think greeting the customer early on, we picked that up in Asia and quite often when we go out to dinner when living in Singapore, we get greeted by the owner of the business that might have been a café or a restaurant at the front door and that person was almost placed and it happens in café sometimes as you know when they already know that you are having a large take and so the order is placed before you sit down and they probably say good morning, sign again and so that’s what happens. It is all to do with developing a relationship. So as soon as a person walks up to you in a car park, you probably a little bit surprised so I very quickly say welcome to paronella park and I ask couple of questions obviously just interfacing where you from? Have you been to Paronella Park before? And you get a huge amount of information from just those couple of questions and all of a sudden it starts to work. Now if it is raining in north Queensland, we get a lot of rain. We have one of these and it is called umbrella and in fact we have hundreds of it and we give those out but we don’t just give them out when people come in, we give them out at the door of the car and you see the smile on people's faces, they change, they change from oh dear this is terrible day to walk. That is amazing and straight away. Now the other thing that’s tied into that is we had some disasters along the way and later on we might talk about the disasters of cyclone but some of our best decisions actually came out of having disasters. It actually made it stronger and one of those was we decided with every person that visited paronella park, that they took ticket that not have validity of two days, five days or a week, but it would have a life of 2 years. Now that’s sounds great.

Mel: What was the thought process behind that?

Mark: Well the thought process of the time because the cyclone we had was not leaves on the trees and people would like to come back and see the park with leaves on the trees and the re-growth but it was so successful we didn’t change it and now we have people come in morning and they will be arriving there right now and they would be visiting and they would be offered to 2 year past. Most of those would get the pass on way out and say they actually turned from being oh we wouldn’t be back or it is unlikely we would be back to we might just come back here again and do the night tour or it is been raining today so we would like to come back when the sun shining or we like to come back and bring a picnic. Now the ultimate of all this is not only do they come back but more than 70% of cases they come back bringing guests throughout paying customers and that person that’s walked those 2 or 3 guests and sometimes it is 10, has introduced them because we have given them a very easy return platform to come and see paronella park again and the great thing about that is that card that they have that still 15 months or 2 months left on it, we expect to be in 2 year pass again because they introduced guests to us. So we founded to ha hugely success marketing tool. As you know very often when you go to tourist destination, you don’t go back with your visitors because you got to pay your admission again. So this we don’t charge for it. It is no extra charge. It is inclusion in that whole thing and we give as I said umbrella and we also have a campy area in park and again a decision we took. We said if you buy a ticket to Paronella Park, you can have a free night in caravan park. Now it is power sites on. We have 20 power sites. So successful has that been? I think we are first caravan park in organization to a new caravan in our region and that is for some 50 years and that caravan park the new one will have round about 60 sites in a couple of years. Building 20 initially. So that’s how successful it has been.

Mel: So what you are doing me making yourself a destination and you are actually making it easy for people to have a different caravan experience, location wise than what they typically would have but yeah you are making it very easy to come into the business and to come in to discover what you offer. Fantastic.

Mark: And of course there is many other things we find that kids relate differently to adults and we have these little palettes that we give out to our guest and that’s containing fish food and turtle food and all of a sudden as you know parents and mom thinking that kids will enjoy it. Well the kids have a well over time and so really looking to that and we use containers that are re-usable. We give our guest a little booklet and this is the listing of the trees and it is tied into another part of the facility. We also have the member in sky walk and later on we will talk about the hotel we purchased from local. The fact is we now have a destination and we are able to feed those people through a country pub experience and we have expanded and it is been marvelous thing. I think the other thing is the international guests. We now receive almost 20,000 Japanese visitors and we also receive as growing as the Chinese visitation as close to 20,000 but that didn’t happen by chance it was a decision we took to employ staff to look after those guests and of course now we have documents and sign in both Japanese and Chinese language.

Mel: What I like about all this Mark is I liked to see that you really have been thoughtful in whole process.

Mark: Yes in fact we have Chinese staff member there that actually works there and she interfaces and sometimes things go wrong and it was possibly couple of errors early on that caused us to just make that move and now the end of result of that is we get more people going there and of course the menu is little different. We do serve crocodile and buffaloes and we do serve kangaroo and you find that this is part of it and I think person from Australia going to china or japan would like to taste the national foods and taste of those countries that’s what we are looking at. Creation of the destination came about through greeting visitors at the front gate and it still happens. A Japanese girl walked to me and said I can tell stories of Jose Paronella to Japanese in their own language and that person’s attorney is still with us today and that’s about eight and half nine years ago. So it is an incredible having 4 Japanese staff and the impact that all of that information comes when you know your markets and you know who is coming to the front door and you get feedback so lots of positive feedback. That’s a wonderful way to get feedback and ideas how you can make your experience or business improved.

Mel: I love it. Turning the problem on its head and looking at as an opportunity on a way to do things better. I love it and I know too in terms of what you are doing to make your experience unique and helpful is things like providing phone charges, those things are sometimes makes people anxious if somewhere they are not familiar with and they realized they don’t have much power in their phone and those sorts of things and selfie sticks I know you offer while people are there too to help capture that in a way they like too.

Mark: Yeah and selfie sticks seemed like a simple thing but if you can tie into something you already offer like free Wi-Fi before they meet, they actually told their friends where they are and so their friends who are planning their trips next year too in Queensland already decided where they want to go to and that is a very powerful tool. You don’t stop change and I think the other thing is that we really do turn everything on its head and quite often their staff may not like that but we want every staff member to be able to work in every area so if there is someone and there is a bit of queue developing at ticketing but someone else can jump in there and yes that person then goes over and made them take a tour but we talk about the whole concept the moment the greeting takes place. In fact we go one step before that from the phone call that comes in 2 days earlier when someone asking for directions or just wanting a bit of information about whether they can bring a picnic? Yes you can. Yesterday I allowed a lady that said that she has never visited a tourist attraction where you can actually take your food in and you can consume it in the tourist attractions café at the tables and I said well it happens very rarely so it is not something that is going to mess up our café service. It is a great little piece and you know some people don’t allow and ask to meet their particular needs. So they just love to be able to sit down but they can go in the park as well and take a picnic but to be able to offer that it is really important. I think the simple one of the moment regulating days is the water. We give away a lot of water and people refill their containers and I actually mentioned in the car park you bring in your containers in, re-fill them and you can use our supply rather than purchasing water. Those people I am absolutely positive they still spend as much money at Paronella Park as they spend on something different. It may be a food of another variety, it may be ice cream. So you know when you make your own ice cream and using the taste of the region, still allowing people to taste like this and say yes it is really these are the things that people said they like to be able to do.

Mel: And these are the things that people share when they talk to others about the experience right. I am sure to see a lot of these things appearing in our reviews and things that just resonates with people when they making a choice. This is great Mark. I love this and actually got goosebumps because I am such a lover of all things customer centric I just think wow you really got this covered and you obviously clearly not resting and sort of thinking we got it, well we know what we are doing and you are constantly looking for ways to improve the experience to make it even better and that’s just brilliant. It is constantly an evolving process and that’s the way people are going to benefit business and customers as well. Just keeping that process in motion all the time for better ways to do things. Now I want to talk to you about your customer engagement. You referred to people posting on Instagram or Facebook about connection with the brand online so that their friends can see when they turn up. Can you share with me some examples of the benefits that you have from using social media in any approaches?

Mark: Yes look social media is an interesting thing. I am not a personally a big user of Facebook social media yet I always look at that as a slice of the pay there is 20 or 30 areas of possibly ways that you can do and work on to improve your business but one of the key ones has been just keeping in touch with our customers and we know that it actually goes back beyond that now we recently posted a Facebook series of 3 photos and I can remember making 3 phone call to the park and we said take a photo at 11 20 because water was rising at the waterfall. Now many of your listeners can actually go to Paronella Park and Facebook site to see that photo. Now what they don’t see is the full impact that have. I think the numbers were 10,500 views. The shares on that photo were 5700 but what you don’t see is shares beyond that and when it went to channel 7 and ABC and went to all these amazing places which you can now track and see where it has gone because they contacted you and said can we use and get some footage? Can you get some footage for our news items and so on? The impact was nearly a million people had that opportunity to see those photographs and see those paronella park and the water was rising in the lake and the waterfall getting stronger. It gave us huge amount of coverage in TV and news media. The details were used in print media. The third thing was you mentioned was 30,000 plus followers on Facebook. We friends and that number was 15 and half thousand before that piece hit the Facebook site. But probably all of sudden just comments of thousands of people gave comments what a wonderful place but quite a few comments were where this place is? And the question was answered by north Queensland and oh we got to go there, this is wonderful, but probably the biggest impact was in 2009 when we didn’t even hardly use Facebook. I think it was 2009 the RACQ ran a campaign for the top 150 things to do in Queensland and we actually used our newsletters that we post and send out and of course newsletters nowadays are less used because Facebook is a much faster mechanism and so on but the newsletter just asked people to help out and back then you can vote on the top 150 things to do and there was a list of 150 attractions and places and café and different things to do in Queensland because it was 150 years of Queensland being celebrated and paronella park finished up number one. The second was phrasal Ireland, third was Australian zoo and when people visited you might say prolyl you got to live up to number one in Queensland and it was just beautiful because people that came saw that was number one. Came out afterwards to the person that greeted them and very often that was myself and said well it is certainly number one. It is one thing to take out something like but it was another thing to deliver at a level where your guests feel wonderful to the point of yes it certainly deserve that award.

Mel: Yes absolutely because that can be the challenge can’t it? You know I saw those photographs in my Facebook feed Mark. I don’t even know who it was friend of mine that shared those photographs but I remember seeing it and so when you and I had contact, I connected it all of a sudden now I didn’t research it into or anything but connected with me so it was an amazing opportunity for brand awareness I guess. Especially if people are really interested in that. I am interested to know though in terms of trackable conversion. Did you see in flux in inquiries and ticket sales as a result?

Mark: Yes we did. Online sales on my bookings certainly grew. Online booking we sort of expect to grow it with year because it is something growing faster and one of the reasons is for example the Chinese market is different but it is market that has quickly moved from tours and they still doing tours but now they are hiring vehicles and what we call FIT free independent travelers and they turn up on our doorstep may be with the kids if you like within Melbourne family coming down from Taiwan or china and so that they gather in camps and come down together. We see a lot of that and they very often book online and it is all planned out so they know the Tuesday next week they coming to paronella park. They already purchased the ticket. They know that’s done. They can put that to bed and all they do is they turn up and online bookings is certainly something that was reflected after that Facebook. We have been more growth that we expected. It is hard to measure some of these things because you don’t have that call to action that you might have. So you cannot say bring this along and receive this. So it is a lot harder and yes you can ask but very often it is word of mouth. Now word of mouth is very likely comfortable person that saw that Facebook piece and decided we will tell this person because they had it on with friend of mine but I think the key of part of it is having someone in your organization that is not only familiar with Facebook but it has a real connection with the park. She absolutely embraces Facebook and she makes it happens. So it is the words that go with the photographs. They capture people's imagination. If we can get a beautiful photo and present it with words that capture people's imagination, it works and it is very powerful.

Mel: So would you say Facebook is your number one marketing tool?

Mark: I cannot say it is the number marketing tool because if we ask the person at the front gate how they got there, it is more than 80 percent simply the words we were told not to Miss paronella Park. So it is that powerful but I still think that keeping that person down in Melbourne or in Adelaide front of mind paronella park through Facebook, that then triggers their ability to turn to their friends that they know are visiting. Again 2 or 3 days ago car van pulls up, they said some of their friends are just in paronella park and knew they were in region or care van and they and they said whatever you do drop into the paronella park and those words are used just all the time. Interestingly they too didn’t know what paronella park was they just arrived.

Mel: Wow that’s a great draw card and you know can I talk to you about partnerships? Because I wonder whether you also have connections with other local businesses to help drive that. you mentioned caravan park, do you have series of partnerships that helped sort of back and forth between businesses?

Mark: Yeah we are about to go to Japan and we will be talking about Roscoe, the Italian restaurant in town. They look after our guests and it is strange that we don’t take away from existing businesses or other growth. Now when we go to japan we talk about paronella park, we talk none other than skywalk that operate and we also mention Roscoe and Ross from Roscoe the number he believes is and he has done the calculation it is 25000 people that are being served and those people were and are on their way to paronella park per year. So I was actually there last night and it was another meeting there but it is thank you and there is no doubt it is interesting because we don’t go chasing that. That person came and spoke to us. Just recently we had another young guy started new tour and it is crocodile called snapping tourists and he reminds me a little bit of us when we first started. Bubbling up with enthusiasm and he just needs a little help and it comes out quite often and I was just getting little bits of advice and you know told in the normal things to start a year or so. It doesn’t happen all over the night but surprisingly it is going very well for him and we are able to refer our guest to him and we refers guests back to us. I had some English guests the other day that went with him other morning in the afternoon. They came out to see us but we have got to the stage now where relationships with business also goes a bit further. We accept the opportunities to speak and get involved and sometimes it doesn’t take much as many of the people listening to this discussion. It doesn’t take much to get involved in local community group and business groups and so on and so we very much involved in our local tourism organization on the region having met up involved in Townsville for enterprise people on their tourism committee and what you find is that gives you on trade to other businesses and I think it is no doubt you have to question how much it impacts someone on your business but I think it gives you really an opportunity to just more than anything come up with new ideas that we are interfacing to these people because you can see and hear and discuss things with people and sometimes you can have real reasons to leave and to go might be a 3 hour drive but it means you are away from business and you can meet people and come up with new ideas. You said it earlier, it doesn’t stop. If it stop we are going backwards and Julie would be the first one to agree. I get almost paranoid about this thing. They got to keep doing it more because there is another couple of businesses up north and there is a couple in south that we have to keep one step ahead or three steps if we can.

Mel: Not only creating community to people in the park but you are creating community within your local area which is fantastic but I also really like the idea of partnering or creating relationships with businesses. Typically we would not partner with a competing business. But I actually like that you are looking at that from a perspective that we do have a restaurant and they do have a restaurant but people are not just going to eat at our restaurant every night and people are going to looking at that variety and experience and so you can actually both leverage from that.

Mark: It is correct and in fact there is a couple of points I make there. One is that when greeting people, their departure question is what else is there to do in the area? And that’s a key one and so listening to people and say wow we have this member walk away and another wonderful experience to their visitation to the park and so we do ticketing and so on but I can tell you that it is working for computer industry. I never forget being in Seoul in south Korea and I was coming in from the airport and I noticed all these shops and there must have been 50 of them and they all selling the one thing and this bridal wear so we are talking about brides and wedding dresses and so on and you sort of think 50 shops in a row. Where are you going to go and shop if you're after and going to get married, you going to go there and there is no doubt that’s what you're after and if you look at the region here, really people hit to the table and what we seen is let’s get people reason to some South and a significant part of your experience when you are travelling is eating and the taste of the region. So they having some different types of eating in terms of pub and café and restaurant. This is the way to go. We are able to do it and yes there is ice cream made of local fluids and crocodiles served at your local pub and having things at prices that surprise people. It is not like big smoke you know. If you have a piece of crocodile in Sydney Melbourne can be a bit more expensive. Here at the pub you keep the price at lower heads.

Mel: Yes absolutely. there is so many things and I could definitely come back and talk to you more about this in more detail but look can you tell us Mark if people want to learn more about what you are doing and what to know how they can access paronella park, where can they find you? Where are those locations otherwise?

Mark: Well online obviously it is we have a website if you google paronella park. You will certainly find us. There is lots of mentions. I think the other thing that we do that I now can help and may be in some occasions we actually turned people off going to business because we don’t paint a picture of easy and successful. We hear someone say we are going to retire into B2B we know they are on wrong path and so for the business perspective we do open our doors to talk to people and very often we sit down and have a cup of coffee but we are happy to take causes as well as to have people making queries. We love to have people listening today. Come and visit us and very likely we will be on front meeting then.

Mel: Yeah absolutely. It is on my agenda. I am going to be there within this calendar year for sure Mark. I really want to experience this and see it and potentially document a little bit more too because it just sounds absolutely remarkable. Thank you so much for really lifting a lid on your business and sharing with us how you do things and the thought processes involved. Really grateful for it. Thanks for your time Mark.

Mark: Well it is my pleasure and thank you Mel.

Thanks for listening to the customer centric show. For additional smart ways to attract more customers, profits and freedom, head on over to the website www.customercentricshow.com.

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62. Anticipating Customer Needs With Phillip Di Bella

62. Anticipating Customer Needs With Phillip Di Bella

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with Mel Telecican (Customer-Centric Coach)

Episode 62. Anticipating Customer Needs With Phillip Di Bella

Hi everyone thanks for joining me for another episode of customer centric show. I am Mel Telecican your host and today on the interview on the show I speak with Phillip Di Bella. Now apologies in advance I had a bit of tickle in my throat and it was trying to muffle my cough while having the interview and even through the magic of editing it couldn’t be removed without taking out value. So ignore me and listen to the great content that Phillip Di Bella is addressing during the episode. Now what I really like about Phillip is that he is very generous with sharing information. He just turned 41 and built an empire and now is diversifying even more into a whole bunch of different things you are going to learn about today. In the episode we talk about what he believes makes customer centric business are the force that he adopts for his business and team. Why he actually enjoys this covering mistakes or errors in processes. What makes for an effective complaint handling gives bit of example of what happened recently with his business. The 3 questions that he determines that client perception of Di Bella so the 3 questions that he asks people, how we determine people locations and the business modules for all of his international café locations, how his business growth have come from anticipating customer needs, why he believes the whole concept of disruption in business is rubbish and the dangers that are commonly made when you are expanding in business. He also talks around why he believes that it is not a great idea to hire people wiser than you or have more experience than you. He talks about the questions he asks when he selects his staff, why he believes reflection is most underutilized but fantastic tools for business owners to be using and he shares with us in the end personal goal that he has set for himself. So look, great episode ahead I hope you enjoy it. Thanks for joining me. Let us know what you think.


You are listening to the customer centric show with Mel where we talk with successful business owners and experts to share smart ways to attract more customers, profits and freedom by thinking about customers first. Now, here is your host Mel Telecian.

Mel: Phillip di Bella founded Di Bella Coffee back in 2002. It began as a small coffee roasting operation in the suburbs of Brisbane in Queensland, Phillip ended up taking a big portion of the market in several ways. One of these was when they were the first to develop a system that was coined the "Crop to Cup" system taking quality coffee direct from farmers all over the world to consumers in Australia, and now internationally. Phillips current role of Managing Director Remains at Di Bella Coffee despite selling to Retail Food Group in 2014. He still sets the vision of the company and provide the support and mentoring to the senior management team. Phil is an active collaborator and contributor to the community. He has been on the Queensland Premier’s Advisory Board for 3 years, he has remained as the Director of Brisbane Marketing for 6 years he is the Director of Tourism & Events Queensland. Phillip is also on the Department of Marketing Industry Advisory Board at Griffith University where he was awarded as an Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship for his significant and ongoing work, insight and contributions. I am very excited to have you on the show Phil. Thank you for joining me today.

Phillip: Thank you Mel honor to be here.

Mel: Now can I ask you to share with us an example of a business that’s customer centric. I expect you have come across quite a few in your travels around the world. What stands out for you the most?

Phillip: To me businesses that are customer centric actually have the ability to put themselves in the shoes of the customer and it sounds quite simple however it really is a difficult thing to do because you are really transponding yourself from within yourself to somebody else and I think one of the highlights for me in the best program I have seen all over the world is written by Steve London out of the States when he did the fish program. Had he take a boring industry like selling fish and make it so exciting that people in their lunch time just go and sit there for half an hour watching the show that happens the best customer service experience I ever had are those that actually again put themselves in the shoes in their audience and the people that do that most often have the best successful business in their industry.

Mel: That fish philosophy is fantastic. There is visuals that people can actually look online and see the performance that those guys actually put on in that fish market. They are completely engaged it is not just an act thought that they are very connected to what they are doing and people just love it and come back for more. So can you think of an example locally or internationally that stands out and doing that for you?

Phillip: Well I fly a lot you know and flying is not as glamorous as it might seem as if you are on a plane every week or sometimes 5 times a week and there was an incident where I am a chairman member there and I like to travel business class with my athletic body. It is more comfortable travelling in economy so I prefer business class. It is because seats have more space. There was an incident where we got into book one of the legs of travel and they actually prompted us by ringing us and saying well we know that his customer profile is he travels business class most of the time. We noticed he is travelling 4 or 5 flights this week but there is a flight missing. Just want to make sure it wasn’t missed and it is okay if you booked it with another carrier and the way they handled that was brilliant because one, people follow procedures and if they followed procedures I would have been stuck half way around the world seeing the leg of my seat or two I would ring and say why did you book that leg, why would you book another leg with somebody else. It was done with total care. It was done compassionately. It was done from a friendly space but more importantly it was done because I put themselves in the shoes of the customer by saying well if this person truly did forget to book, the flight, imagine what he is going to feel like when he is stuck somewhere and he misses in because someone has made an error. So that’s probably one of the most recent examples of to me what we call customer service and dedicated to deliver. I think the problem with customer service sometimes is that people think saying hello and smiling and being nice is customer service. To me that’s not, that’s politeness. There is a different between customer service and politeness so to make customer service is in fact when a team is dedicated to deliver.

Mel: Yeah absolutely comes down to the people for sure. I like that there is that pre-empting of what you potential problems could be that there is an overlooked flight but also they have obviously created the systems that can I guess set off the alarm bell to say hey there is a leg of journey that is missing or I wonder if that applies to everyone along the way or whether that’s for their preferred customers. That would be interesting to determine.

Phillip: Well it would be I mean I can give you another example actually. A lot of people use reward systems. Now reward systems for rewarding your regular customers step one. Reward system become excessive you know. I come in, I swap my card, there is nothing engaging about that. How about knowing which customer frequent your business in every 2 weeks shove them the coffee. It means you are paying attention to the business. Two, it is unexpected surprise. It is dedication to deliver. It is unexpected reward which holds a lot more warrant and weight than something that’s expected and that because we preaches the habit where we are human. Something that’s expected is not going to be taken with as much as with something un-expected.

Mel: Hmm that element of surprise definitely has its worth. Now you mentioned before something your staff being integral part and I think about putting yourself in the shoes of the customer and thinking about all the steps they go through when they are going to buy something in café or elsewhere. So can you talk us through what it is that you believe that staff need to be doing today to develop those relationships? You said those basic manners are important but can you talk about how perhaps you map out the customer journey when they come to you and how you can say when they come to your café because I know you got café now that is part of the business. How do you actually go through that process to be able to explain to staff so that they can make sure that whole process is really streamlined?

Phillip: I do love to claim it's mine but it is not but hopefully listeners would love it and it is easy to adopt and it is actually from state London fish and we called it fish philosophy. So we have a thing called fish philosophy which simply follows four steps. One's attitude before going to work. You are going to have hustle and bustle. If you got kids something is going to go wrong in the morning. You might miss the bus. Something might happen. Your pet might have been tried. Things are going to happen to us before we go to work that is going to affect us. The way that we got system in place is to neutralize that and is to tell people your attitude. If your attitude is going to be bad at work don’t come to work today. So something happen to you before you go to work then you won’t be able to choose your attitude. Step two is be present. There is nothing worse when somebody talking to you, engage with you, they see you are not looking in the eye, you are visually present. If someone is communicating with you then you should be engaged with them. So step two is obviously being present. Three is have fun. The environments and people that are having fun work. Having the brakes and doing half hour lunch and get back and give staff the choice you want 10 minutes of break or 30 minutes. What type of work rate for you works better? So we give them the choice so have fun at work. Enjoy what you are doing. Again it is all philosophy and fourth step is to make the customers day. Now that’s the harder part of the four step process. Again in the customer service I say hello and goodbye and smiling. That’s just being polite and polite is not making a customer’s day. The time that something really stands out and this is somehow sadistic but it is what it is and it is when something goes wrong. We love when something goes wrong. Because we when something goes wrong your opportunity to actually make a customer’s day and we had incident yesterday when we had online order that didn’t make it to the customer he had been chasing it for three days. Our team followed the procedures to accept, no one bothered to ring him the next day because every time you rang you received different people to talk each day but they did the system perfectly. They just didn’t bring back the following day to say hey did you receive your order? They are just assuming the delivery driver to deliver it. When you brought it to my attention and through my PA it was a no excuse part, it was simple. That’s not good enough. I will be talking to team to follow and also being engaging with the company. However what this means to you, I don’t expect you to pay for this order and I will sending you one of my best red wine cellar because I know you enjoy red wine.

Mel: Yeah so apologizing and making good right.

Phillip: It is not even apology. It is you actually saying and not making excuses. What you not doing rather than what you are doing. You are not making excuses. You are not blaming somebody else and you not making them feel significant and that is what we call make the customers day and the easiest way to make customer day is when something goes wrong. It is very hard to make customer day when everything is working beautifully and there is a lot of businesses out there that really don’t work on that last part and it is a hard thing to do because listeners sitting there right now thinking about how can we make somebody day, it is a lot harder that what we think it is.

Mel: Yeah it is and as you said too it is about that opportunity of reflection. So is that part of the procedure going forward that even if there is a glitch in the system someway that you feel like it is taking care of it that you actually confirm but it is all taken care of?

Phillip: Every time something that arises we use as an opportunity we get it taken care of. This morning less than 18 hours after tha incident happened and I said to my general manager that he needs to work without online manager in the next 3 weeks. I want a hundred people survey that avoided from us and I want three questions asked, what was your experience like with Di Bella? What would you do better to make the experience better and would you recommend us to anybody? Now I am going to have by end of this month a hundred people research that I can look at the responses to that and that would came off the back of what happened yesterday. Now we packed over 200 orders a day online. That’s one incident. People would say I am over reacting. You know what, it is what I am prepared to do that others are not prepared to do that’s going to make me successful.

Mel: Yeah 100 percent. Absolutely. now do you mind sharing with us listeners since retail food group I guess has taken ownership of developing and you are still in the managing director role, can you explain to us from what I can see and correct me if I am wrong is that sort of got into predominantly B2B business and you are now branching out internationally to a B2C scenario with café is that correct?

Phillip: Well yeah it was always something we doing before the sale but it is an opportunity and B2C opportunity that we are chasing is in the emerging countries. Countries like India, Philippines, manila. Manila got great game busters, India got them too. They are all emerging countries when it comes to café experience so in emerging countries we are looking at B2C model. In countries that already have a strong coffee and café culture we are going with the B2B model. So states is a B2B model with Di Bella in LA supplying café and restaurants whereas manila and India we have gone with the B2C model.

Mel: And so is it competitive there? Do you have competitors who are also in that space?

Phillip: yeah look there is competitors and it is a very strategic move Mel. What we do very cleverly do is we follow the companies that have enter these markets and doing well and what we hope to do is obviously better the experience and what I mean by that is it is a full out strategy is that starbucks in Asia. That got lot more money than we do and lot more resources in researching market. So if they doing very well in Asia, then di belle can do really well by obviously taking that coffee experience to the next level. India exactly the same. Strong chains over there. Café coffee day is the biggest trend over there. We had to look at their model and it is one of my philosophies in business is really search the people that are doing things wrong not the ones that are doing things right because if research company do things right, we come in poster. What I do is look at companies and say how I can do that better or different? And is there a market for it? So café coffee days is amazing business in India and very successful. however their targeting to people that just want to grab a coffee and go, they are not targeting the specialty coffee market where people want to sit around and have a coffee, enjoy time with their friends so we created that experience that taps into that market and that’s why it is rolling out successfully. Manila is very similar. Very strong Spanish influence, people are getting into coffee but there is no way that people can go and in manila they are real foodies so they are looking for this full of bloggers, social media, instagramers, so they are looking anything that looks wow. So we are producing and matching amazing coffee with amazing food and sweets and desserts and that’s getting us a lot of attraction in manila. So one model fits does not work. There is different cultures around the world for different reasons but the business principle is always the same. If you are not solving a problem, you don’t have a business.

Mel: 100 percent. from what I have seen online the actual locations look very boutique. They look very elegant looking café compared to the others. Does stores look same in areas or different from country to country?

Phillip: It is different because obviously there is different economies scale. If you want the sites you need to be really in with the agents or you need to have strong brain. Definitely rents are more expensive so your foot prints are a lot smaller. Obviously look at star bucks which is one of the world's best in terms of growth and expansion didn’t work out in Australia because they tried to rollout their model in Australia the same way they did overseas and it didn’t work. You still got to work within your environment and work within cultures you embarking on and that’s something we learned along the way by looking at the companies that failed. I rather learn from someone spend their money rather than my money.

Mel: Makes sense. Now let’s go back to Australia. There is 3 key areas that small business owners find and having problems with. They are having trouble with attracting more customers with their business so they need more customers. They are looking to increase profitability and then there is a 3rd one that I asked about just little bit but what would you say is in Australia in our market here for business owners who are looking to attract more customers, what is it that they should be doing? What is your thought? Because I know that you got to handle on our market as well, what would you say is actually cutting through and consistently working?

Phillip: Well the model is to solve the problem right but to solve the problem you got to get and anticipate. So the best emerging business of those that they actually anticipate a problem. You look at the iphone, steve jobs delivered that iphone in 80s but the team thought it is too futuristic. You fast forward and think about it now and what it did was it solved the problem and it made it relevant. The model doesn’t change. If you attracting more customers, you need to be solving that problem. You need to anticipate the needs. We found that in our industry that we cannot survive or grow our business if we just sold coffee. So we don’t. I mean we got coffee as our number one selling product but we got similar items like chocolate powders, tea and sugar sticks. We diversifies but stayed within our industry. More importantly we kept with our brand essence and what I mean by that is we are number one of specialty coffee market. So captures we bought out are the best you can buy in coffee. What I mean by that is not flavor because it is subjective, we put highest grade coffee in our captures. Now whether you like it or not it is obviously different because that subjective but from quality point of view this is the highest grade you can buy. I am working on the project now instant coffee. Why 60% of this country still drinks instant coffee? But the instant coffee that I would end up with would be the highest grade instant coffee around the world with no chemicals. If I won't able to do it I won't release the product but further way down the track I would be able to do it and then I would release it so I am diversifying my industry. But I am anticipating people problems and anticipation is that people still going to drink instant coffee because it is easy and convenient and it doesn’t matter that it is not the coffee from machine but there is a need for it because it is convenient. So what I do for it is I look at the problems that are associated and go the current instant coffee on the market, the majority of it is made from off cuts so the lowest grade coffee from around the world. It is the highest caffeine and a lot of is chemical. So look at the problems that are associated and say how can I fix them? So I am not a disruptor. Uber didn’t disrupt the taxi industry, they developed a business that was better. I didn’t disrupt the coffee industry. All my colleagues were selling a product. We don’t sell a product. We own the words it is not just a bag of beans. We supply your café, we provide you networking list, we train your staff, we got a lawyer that look at leaves, we help you with marketing, put you in touch with graphic designers, we put you in touch with electricians, we help you expand and look other sites. Delivering a bag of beans is only 1 thing that we do. So we actually own these words. It is not just a bag of beans. You got to go above and beyond in order to expand your business. You got to anticipate people's needs. You still got to stay true to the core essence of your brand. So you won't find the Di Bella in super markets, you won't find it in take away shops, you will find us in café and restaurants because that is our brand essence.

Mel: And so your instant coffee product won't be sold in supermarkets? You would be sending that out yourselves?

Phillip: Well if it is going to be sold in supermarket that would neutralize obviously the brand. Emotional engagement with the brand in the café. So you got to be very careful because people get carried away with expansion and this is something to title back to your original question. when people look at I have got an increased revenue. There is 2 things that they do, they start bringing products and have no relevance to their core business. Before they dilute what they good at or two, they destroyed their brand essence and meaning I need to expand, I am going to start supplying supermarkets with my coffee. The moment I start supplying Di Bella in super markets is the day that we would lose all the café that we supply.

Mel: The impact you have. So all of your decision making needs to come back to your values or your brand essence in every single thing you do. So doesn’t mean you cannot diversify it just means that you think about what is potentially separate. Okay good stuff. now my last question is around freedom, as a business owners and you been one for a long time now. I know that outsourcing or delegating is a big part of what you do but business owners who are listening, what do you say is the best way for you to be able to be using your time well to make really important decision that is with working with any business, what tips could you give?

Phillip: Well the best way that you can get it is by making sure that you have done every job in your business. What makes me very strong now is that I started as a one man band and that experience of being a one man band is invaluable. What I mean by that is I had to do every job in this organization. So what I sit down with any of my 100 plus team now, and I am talking to them, I can relate to them. I can relate, I know what the job should be, I know how it was done. I now understand what they are trying to do to make it better. I understand where they coming from. Again the key word is relate. This whole attitude of hiring people smarter and better than you I don’t get. People smarter and better than you go up in their own business. You need to have people that are good enough to understand their business. So what I said to people if you want one strategy that really works is hire people that are good enough to have their own business, but make sure you are giving them the reason not to go off in their own business because there is 2 things that happen when people hire people, 1 is when I say stupid, 2 is to say I want people better than me and smarter than me. Well if they are better and smarter, what you are doing to keep them? So what we have done well as we grown is one, know your business and have job in it and two is good enough to open their own business. I have developed offshore business and now I have ended up with the whole suite of secondary and third businesses that actually have shareholders of people that currently work with them.

Mel: Okay so can I ask you then do you then employ people say without the skills with but with the same sort of values that you do to help you sort of grow skill wise together. Is that how you look at it?

Phillip: Well I have been talking about it for 10 years Mel which is strategy that works well in higher attitude and teach skill. So you cannot teach anyone attitude. You can only influence attitude. I can teach anybody that is willing and able to do with right mentality to make a cup of coffee. I can teach him marketing as long as they are willing and able to do mentally. So the key is hire people with the right mindset. I have never seen a resume that says I don’t turn up to work on time, I am moody, I am cranky and you know what when it is public holiday, Tuesday, I probably take the Monday off. No one puts that in their resume.

Mel: I know that you actually ask people specific question when they come in and have an interview. Can you share with listeners what that is?

Phillip: Yeah I do. I ask them what are your goals and inspirations? Where do you want to be in 12 months, where do you want to be in 3 years? what is it that you want to achieve in life? I say to them very clearly. If you got no direction for yourself and aspiration then how are you going to be working with me in a business that is very aspirational and clear what it needs to be? If someone cannot take control of their own life they wouldn’t be able to take control of the team or take control of the vision and objectives of the organization. I mean the key to that is simply and I talk about that a lot is when I am in the coffee business, lawyers are in the lawyer business, we are all in people business. All we are doing is connecting people to products and services and you know what? It is not that hard, it is people that make it complicated.

Mel: Yes absolutely. I do recall you saying for this couple of years ago now but you did used to ask people what was it that you did was significant in the business or what are you working for now and I thought that was really valuable because I think it was really around what changed or what improvements and what productivity did you bring to that business because that is a good reflection of the potential that you have in my business.

Phillip: Correct. Well that question does several things. that’s part of the procedure. It is something that I ask my team. What did you do last week that you thought was great significance that made a change to people in your team or to the organization? Same question I asked to your employees as you put it. what is it at the last place of your work that really stands out for you when you made an impact? And it is not the caliber of actually what they are telling me, it is how they go about it and what I mean by that is does that excite them? Do I see them take ownership overall? Do I see they are engaged with it? did I know the impact that they made? Which is very important. I am a big believer of self-reflection. I think in the world people don’t self-reflect enough and that’s in 2 ways one we think we are a lot better than we really are, two is we don’t actually celebrate the wins. So I make sure that my team do 2 things. don’t get your aspirations and capabilities mixed up. Don’t think that you are better than what you are because at the end of the day I am just a person that started a business. I am not a magician. And two, make sure you actually do celebrate your wins because that’s what keeps you fired up to what to come.

Mel: Excellent. Now I am going to ask you one quick question around bringing people on that and have the skills. When I think about entrepreneurship and building business, I think that it could be potentially a slow process for people who are listening and thinking while you know I don’t really have time. I am sort to trying to follow up that lean startup methodology to get things out, test the market, make sure that there are people out there that are going to pay for it. what is your response to that?

Phillip: If it was easy everybody would be doing it and it is something that I have used and done from day one. But it is easy today and turn out to be harder tomorrow. So the listeners really think about this, think of something that tap into the past when that’s gone wrong. It is often because it was easy to start with. Things are going well now and often difficult to start and you hear the clear shades, jeez it was hard going but it has gone good now. Something that’s hard in the beginning normally becomes harder later and it normally means that got a better foundation. So one is it comes down to mindset. If you are starting a business and it is easy, then why is everybody doing it? or everybody will do it? if it is difficult then there is a good chance that it has got a higher barrier entry which means everyone is going to do it. I use a lot of analogies. If you are building a 10 story building and you rush first few stories, there is a big change it will fall sooner or later. If you got those foundations right and there is some stones ahead then obviously what flows from 10 are obviously going to be stronger for a stronger foundation. It really is about getting things done right and properly and I mean I have learned the lessons along the way. What we didn’t do well is we didn’t do well our backend to meet our frontend. So we are out there getting new clients and growing it. So key objectives now is to assure all the times that we did continuous improvement and done system strategies in place.

Mel: One final question for you is around how you manage your day? How many hours a day you are currently working and was it always at this level?

Phillip: Yeah time management is important. I have got an ability of being super organized. I used technology well so I used my mobile phone and my note section is all setup nicely. Anytime I got an idea of different business or concepts, it all gets locked down. I have got an executive assistant that obviously is very capable. I have got an executive officer as well that helps me bounce ideas and so time management is one of the most important thing. I actively probably work, when you are in business and at executive level, you are always working I mean driving to work you are thinking about work. going home you are thinking about work and you want business owner to be just doing that. what classifies the way I really answer that is what classifies work and what doesn’t. if you are enjoying something that you love it and inspired, you are working all the time. Obviously physically working probably 50 to 60 hours a week which is not a lot you know. I don’t believe that a lot specially but mentally working, 90 percent of the time that you are awake and that would be the same for anyone. Not just business owners. People that engaged and inspired and loved their jobs, I am sure the listeners would agree, they would be working and thinking about work and always in one 90 percent of the time they are awake.

Mel: Now can you share with us as we finish up something that you are working on doesn’t have to be Di Bella coffee, it could be some of the other initiatives that you are connected to, what’s something that’s happening or in the works at the moment that you really excited about that you wouldn’t mind sharing with us?

Phillip: Well two things. One is obviously the instant coffee project. I love it when people tell me I cannot do something. People are telling me instant coffee is not possible, ask we speak I got my desk work trial out of Germany to produce the world’s first highest grade instant coffee without chemicals so that’s getting very close. Then on personal level because I love to share personal stuff as well because we are all humans and have an element of personal development is that I always loved to play sport, I had Queensland ranking of tennis as junior. Played in soccer and all the rest of it. but I have never been a runner and I made a decision with my daughter, my 8 girl daughter sitting up the couch the other day that in 20 weeks time we are going to do that breach to Brisbane. I have never run 5 km in my life. I have done it on soccer field and I think that would be a great team bonding thing with my daughter but also forces me to get back and get healthy and fit again. So that’s something we are working on.

Mel: Yeah great stuff because you have done it in boxing avenue right?

Phillip: Yeah I got 2 corporates. I boxed all my life but I did some charity boxing last year. I might still do that. at the moment I am lucky that my insides are much healthier than my outsides and I got to make sure the outside of me looks just as healthy as my inside. So at 40 I cannot take for granted that I am healthy internally because I might not be healthier at 50 if I do not get rid of some of the excess in the way. So the thing with me is I am happy to talk about some fun you know. people say oh you are so successful, well no I am not because the one area of my life that I haven’t been successful because of building business and making sure that I still have family life is me personally and what suffered is obviously my weight and now is the time to do something about it. the pressure is off in terms of work. I still got as much responsibility or more responsibility because of somebody else money but now I have the time that brand space put that into me getting healthy. So when you look at people don’t always assume because someone has done well in business or drives nice cars that they think that they are the most successful person in the world because I am going to assure you that I am far from that and I need to get my activity there when it comes to getting fit and healthy again.

Mel: Yeah right. Look Phil thank you so much for your honesty, your openness, your insight into what our listeners can be doing thanks to your advice and your experience so thanks so much for your time. I am really grateful. I know my listeners would be. Where can people find you if they want to get updates about your new product online and current offering?

Phillip: Well thanks Mel. On Dibellacoffee.com or hit me up as friend request. I use my Facebook page for business. So if they want to hit up a friend request they can normally track what I am doing on my Facebook page or so.

Mel: Yeah good stuff. I do that. that’s how I know all the ins and outs of what is going on obviously. It is fantastic to see. Thanks Phil.

Phillip: Thanks Mel.


Thanks for listening to the customer centric show. For additional smart ways to attract more customers, profits and freedom, head on over to the website www.customercentricshow.com.

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61. Improved Service And Sales With Roger Simpson

61. Improved Service And Sales With Roger Simpson

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with Mel Telecican (Customer-Centric Coach)

Episode 61. Improved Service And Sales With Roger Simpson

Hi there and welcome to another episode of customer centric show. This is Mel Telecican your host and this week I am having a conversation with the author of the retail solution. He is the specialist to help businesses optimize their sales and their service and he has had plenty of years in the game and really knows what he is talking about so I am going to give you a rundown of what is going to be sharing in that episode so you know exactly what you are going to be talking about. The necessities of recruitment process. The reason that we need to be setting up processes and why our staff should be involved in that process too. A story about global business that focuses on customer affection. The benefits of implementing digital customer experience feedback. I am not talking about review sites here. So actually implementing yourself. While research continue to reflect 96% of customers who have had a negative experience actually wouldn’t complain mystery shop style assessment of customer experience can be inaccurate. What the top tips are in profitability to retail environment. Can conversations meet to sales boosts and why we often set up managers for failures apparently? This is really common in what you can do to change it. All in this episode I hope you enjoy it. It is about 30 minutes so let’s get into it.


You are listening to the customer centric show with Mel Telecican where we talk with successful business owners and experts to share smart ways to attract more customers, profits and freedom by thinking about customers first. Now, here is your host Mel Telecican.

Mel: Roger Simpson is a CEO of retail solution and has worked in retail himself for over 35 years. His company focuses on helping their clients improve service and sales and focus on service standards, sales techniques, measure up and follow up. Roger believes these 2 areas can be improved dramatically to provide the end customer with the great experience that means more visits and increase sales. Rogers company helps owners and managers put in place the skill learned into the training sessions by following up in store. The focus on training managers is excellent coaches so that they can actually provide ongoing supporting in their store as managers. Over the past 19 years retail solution team have trained excessive 5000 frontline staff managers and owners so I am interested in learning the tactics of how you do this. Good to have you with us this morning Roger.

Roger: Thanks Mel nice to be here.

Mel: Now I am looking for example of a customer centric business of you are aware of or experience yourself. What is your example?

Roger: I got a couple actually and obviously Apple is the one I think you mentioned before everyone rolls so that’s one that always stands out because they got such focus on service and it is also I think what they do is because they provide such a good service is that people buy more from them but they are other one that actually thought of where I had personal experience where I went into Disney land to the to Disney institute and we had 2 days at there so actually take us through their training and what they do to deliver such an amazing experience when you visit the park.

Mel: So most people access the Disney institute?

Roger: It is a public course. I went there with Tom who runs the business with bakery. So Tom and I went with his managers and it was just amazing insight because they actually shared the whole training program and it was actually really good because it also confirmed some of the stuff that I have been doing here in Australia and new Zealand was actually the right way to go and the big thing for me Mel was that surprise there is no quick fix.

Mel: Sure absolutely. You need to be giving that consistent focus and change something that does take while.

Roger: Sure does Mel. It was amazing experience and I still talk about it like it was yesterday.

Mel: That’s interesting because Zippos have documented all of what they do and people can buy the books on how they run their business so that whole transparency I guess willingness to share what it is that they do so effectively with other people is just that next level isn't it?

Roger: Yes it is and it is because they got it so well documented and they got well processed but also it is about the people. It is interesting because the Disney trainer we had, he sit to us and said we still got 20 percent of our people who probably are not right for business and it was pretty amazing.

Mel: How do they identify that?

Roger: Well they are constantly because one of the key things they do is that every single day team leader had to go and evaluate 3 of his team so dealing with guests. You go with the gate or it might be hotdog stand or on the certain right. So they constantly get evaluated and then getting people feedback so that they can tell from that process also everyone is going to have a training plan so everyone is really focused about learning and keep being really good.

Mel: So that 20 percent they look at that and look at how that can give them some sort of professional development to solve issues and if they cannot then they are gone. Anything else that stood out for you?

Roger: One big thing I talk to my clients about is that they introduce us to non-negotiables and what Disney is very clear on is that they have certain rules in their business and they are completely non-negotiable and they introduced those from the first moment you actually interact. So if you are applying for the job, you are introduced to non-negotiable. So what it does of course is it weeds people out because it is a bit like a cult and so focused and Disney is a bit cultural as well because they have certain style of people that they want. So they recruit to that and it just weeds people out who not going to fit there.

Mel: Great so qualifies people to that position and then it shows makes it very clear what the commitments that are required.

Roger: Yeah and it is so obvious because what frustrates me here in Australia is that you going to a store and people don’t smile and etc. and they are allowed to do it because no one is doing anything about it and I will guarantee that in their process it must say you must smile every single customer. So why doesn’t that happen? It is because they are allowed to do it.

Mel: That’s right. So in terms of non-negotiables then one of the consequences if you don’t do it, is that instant dismissal? Like is it that serious?

Roger: Depending on what it would be but it is more that use it on particularly as recruitment process but actually got that and people go oh I am okay with it. So often people go somebody I want to do I will get it and see how it go and obviously it gets enforced so often those people were actually fall out through the trial periods but they continue to use non-negotiables once they are in and those apply. So they would use them and they use them as coaching pieces. So if someone is not performing to the standard required then obviously get feedback and improve and if they don’t improve then that’s down the warning track. So that’s pretty simple.

Mel: Nice and clear like you said it is follow up in going back and making sure you re-enforcing those things and I think that’s something that a lot of businesses just accidently don’t do. I have said that these are the perimeters of your role, this is what I am expecting from you but actually re-visiting is really important. Now we talked 3 areas in our show Roger about how we can keep our customers and get more of them and I expect you got plenty of reasons for examples and tactics of what we can do to do that. What is your suggestions?

Roger: It is actually pretty simple. It is defining what the customer actually wants so when I come into whether it is a bakery or clothing store, what do they actually want? They want to be smiled at? So it is all styling stuff. It is having a process to follow but they need to understand the reasons why they do it not just do it and if they get the why piece, the much more likely to do it. Then it is obviously training them to those processes. Then it is managers owners have to leave by example which is just critical and then next 2 step we see don’t happen anyway near enough so it have to follow up. It have to have service evaluated so what they are actually doing? Are they planting steps to have that we train them on? That they have agreed to and if they are, they get positive feedback. If they not, I hope to improve and it is simple as that.

Mel: I want to pull you right back to the first thing you mentioned and that was around defining what the customer wants because I have spoken to a lot of people about this who are exceptional business people and there is very much responses. A lot of them say well there is group of people who say they need to find out what the customer wants and then there is another that says often customers don’t know what they want so if you ask them you are going to end up with whole variety of responses that may not be effective. So what your thoughts on that and how we can articulate what they want?

Roger: Yeah great question. So for me I got my foot in both camps just because I can. So I would say this well about the basic service steps don’t change. Again 99 percent want is that when they walk into the store they want to be acknowledged and generally in 19 OT 20 seconds because most of us are busy. They want to smile etc. So those things you can just get verified with your customers because you can do survey about service etc. so there is interesting and this is about how we serve them and the technology etc. and because that’s changing dramatically, I just actually finished running a blog this morning about what companies are doing and one of the particular that has been really customer focused is amazon and they said 95 percent of our future focus is on what made us to the customer. So that’s the challenge. A lot of customer don’t know what they want but again it is because of the technologies i think are evolving quickly as well as that sometimes we got to present things to them and get their feedback and see how they go and see like ATMs and banks closing out. It is like self-survey. Some customer love that and other hate it.

Mel: So it is resting really, you got to measure and not throw the whole system out but start introducing people to it I guess and then getting comfortable with it so that you can streaming. Okay now surveying, I love survey in lots of ways but I think they can be problematical in that when we survey people we sometime skew questions and then data we getting back is actually not going to help us anyway change things.

Roger: Yeah there is a few different ways now and of course the old fashioned way and one of the clients with bakery who has been extremely successful and time actually puts a lot of success down to getting customers feedback so he as customer feedback but he does it so well. What he said is that if you put them by the counter, if someone is grunted, they are not going to pull the card and pop it in. So you need them in the shop somewhere where people just easy access. So it is making easy for the customer. So it is the old fashion way and as I said he sees that help his business grow dramatically. Now obviously with technology now there’s a lot phone data that we can gather and people using loyalty cards as well so we can actually tell when they are in the store because they swipe their cards and of course then it is about if they get text message 3 minutes after their walk out so that’s bit of like you are being stalked. That I think is invaluable feedback because it is so fresh. I am going to remember and of course it is about making it easy so there is options about you can respond about text, call, e-mail. So we are testing and measuring with different customer because it is certain thing with certain people but I think that feedback powerful because from that and again what is happening is I have a colleague who have a business and he does this and he said what could happen of course you get alert because customer is disappointed and that can be actually text to store manager and they can ring the customer within 5 minutes and this research hasn’t changed for years is that 96 percent of customer don’t actually complain. They just walk out and don’t come back. So if you can find out and what happens with most customer is when we intervene when there is problem and we actually fix the problem and most customer as you know don’t know much, we fix the problem then they actually become more loyal. I think that whole technology is amazing because as you know with getting data from that customer service, of course the mystery shopping is big thing and I think that getting day to out because that’s very hard too, it is expensive. Then the data comes 5 to 7 days afterwards.

Mel: And it is moment in time to right. Depending on whether it is peak time or you know the underperformance is actually the quiet period because the staff are more relaxed potentially. So that can have issues too.

Roger: Exactly and also the problem is about that because you have got and measured once and so you got 2 or 3 thousand customers so your customer experience is evaluates 1 out of 3000. Statistically not great so that’s why I think the technology with surveys is just brilliant.

Mel: Yes and I think just whether people respond to those things or not does do and I think it sets the tone and says clearly we are trying to do something. We monitoring this because we care about our business sure but we are about what you thinking and willing to do so and timeliness attached to feedback is key too right?

Roger: Absolutely that’s right. It is like anything. It is getting customer feedback immediately but it is also turn that around as well because my mission in life is to turn managers and owners into their own mystery shopper for constantly evaluating their staff. Not to catch them out but to recognize most of the time good work that’s done because that gives positive feedback. People would actually want to keep doing it. It is so simple but also if see something not happening you can fix it.

Mel: Absolutely. Great opportunity to collaborate right to if you were down to results for whatever reason. Get everyone to have on chat and go look this is where we normally sitting but had come or not what do you think could be and yeah great. Now let’s talk Roger about profitability. I know you got big focus on sales and improving the ability to sell effectively. Can you share what your best practices are around what you can do in retail environment to boost that profitability?

Roger: Absolutely. There is two different examples of it because I have mix of clients and some are just served customers across counter so that’s service stations, bakeries, liquor stores etc. and so they are opportunity to maximize the sale is to happen it on counter because most customers are self-selecting so they walk up to a counter and you ask to help them and this and this and in liquor store environment where I did some work with one of my clients. The customer is choosing whether buy box of beer or water whatever. They just want to come to the counter just sales over unless you get something from counter but that’s being done so poorly over many years. Customer actually often get turned off by it so it is using good techniques. It is about engaging the customer and making aware of a product or service or combo deal whatever they may not be aware of that asking them to buy it. That’s the secret.

Mel: Okay without explicitly asking but hinting or educating about it.

Roger: Yeah and using language like did you know about our special today and it is so simple because you are not asking the customer to buy it but asking if you know about it and if the customer doesn’t want to know then great no problem then you continue with the sale. If they go what is it then you allow it and actually getting the information. You don’t actually go why you don’t want to buy because then you are trying to close it. So it is just so simple and most I see few retailer doing that. we did switch it to on the floor for example where I got a lot of retailers that I work with, man that is an opportunity because the customers coming in so then you can actually find out their story and then you can match their times with the story and they watch out.

Mel: There is more opportunity for the conversation there isn't it because the nature of browsing as a post to coming in and setting out.

Roger: Absolutely and it is about their walk out with more than one item and it is simply just as i said finding out. Is it for work? For weekend? What I also recommend is how this is going to go fantastic with it and you know what like. We love that sort of stuff. So it is so simple but how often does that happen?

Mel: Yeah and it is just that suggestion isn't it? It is that gentle offering. I find roger in my experience having a restaurant is that sometime people find it hard to do that suggestive selling. They felt like being pushy. So what do you say to your managers that you talk to and people they help? What do you suggest they do to stop that feeling and they can actually feel they are being helpful?

Roger: Correct. And it actually start with the words you use. Selling word has been around for years isn't it? and we always talked about we have to suggest to sell and because of selling in it, to me as soon as someone hear that word oh man… and say no you don’t, your job is to inform so for example in a restaurant and you just say when you got some restaurants why do we taken and we think about what we want to buy and then the way comes over and the next I am with buying special because it is the way they described it and they have actually I have credited experience for this now and what I find too many times particularly in a fast food this is pretty guilty and we just transact. It is just like next next next, there is no feeling in it and if you got an opportunity and generally doesn’t take too much longer to have 3 or 4 minute conversation, if it is a little bit longer we can have 15 minute conversation we can recommend why and it is amazing how we can lead more customers. I think we just pretty like it when somebody helps us.

Mel: Yes true. I am not a shopper Roger. I don’t like shopping, I don’t like cloth shopping all that much which is ironic because my mum owns a boutique but the thing that I find easy when I do go into those environments is when someone actually tells me some story in some capacity so it might what you are looking for I guess introductory questions sure but then actually like the attendant recently said to me actually someone teamed this with this and I would thought that geez look great but do you want to try because of this and it was that storytelling and the other person's experience and the benefit they got as a result of that which made it easy. It wasn’t the same conversation that you hear elsewhere and so it was helpful. It was informing me what could work. It wasn’t guaranteeing anything and what that does too which I think is very important part of process is actually not making people feel like they have buyers remorse when they walk out of the store too. So what is your thoughts on how we can minimize that too because that is going to affect our lifetime value of the customer as well.

Roger: It is just actually being honest and that’s the key thing I believe is about particularly in clothing but it is not selling stuff to people just to make the sale and it is anything. It is not about buy this and this because we don’t just go back then. Same if we pushy, if someone actually forced us to buy something and okay buy it and then it is ridiculous so it is all the whole time the customer needs to be in the driving seat with deciding whether buy or not. I just need to present it to you and I love that language that lady used on you. Had they teamed this up? Nice isnt it? It is different and that’s what we see frustrating when everyone tries to up sell for use actually the same language. Would you like to blab and customers go no.

Mel: Absolutely. Now Roger let’s talk about your work towards sales and service can actually do help management or owners have a bit more time because as business owners we have flat chat over time and it can be very hard to end up working on our business because we are trying to put our efforts in it. So how does you do that actually help do that?

Roger: Yeah and it is a real catch 22 because what I find is that managers attend to a lot of firefighting because one thing they are very poor at doing is delegating and unfortunately in Australia as well we tend to see that managers up often to fail because we say okay so you got all that work to do. You got reports to do etc. banking blah. You are also responsible for the people and what happens I find is a lot managers do 50 percent of tasks things and only about 20 to 30 percent of people things and as you know retail is people business and it is not out there working with our team evaluating what is going on. Looking on things to improve and talking to customers as well, then we are not going to grow on our business. So back to Disney model when they train us to do this they said our team leaders have to spend with the day and he said they spend 70 percent of their time in the park. So I believe that we need to get managers doing what they should be doing which is working with their people. That’s the challenge. What I find is a lot of people become store manager because they have been there longest or they are best sales person and that just kills everything because that’s how you lose your best sales person and often them off the floor and often not the best manager because it is different skillset.

Mel: That’s true because I am thinking of different examples across industries where yes that opportunity is completely lost and then in terms of relationships with the staff below you where you set up is that it actually reduces people's perception of you as a person because you don’t seem connected to what is happening on the floor.

Roger: Exactly and the old saying about and that’s how it exactly it should be I mean the one role model that I look at dramatically for his ability to spend so much time doing nothing and having a great time is Richard Benson and he is the master delegator. He said old thing that you got to surround yourself with amazing people and when you do that, that’s how you grow and I think the big thing about my retail is that unfortunately it is not seen a place to have a career. It is just been stop get and so what happen of course is that people who would be so talented and so we lose those great people and what happens is that we tick that all. I chose someone because I need to fill the gap.

Mel: It is so true. But bringing back to your record bans on comment I really think that the fantastic thing is him asking questions makes people feel valued. Their opinion is valued. That creates great employee engagement is terms of moral. That’s brilliant.

Roger: Because you see in some places manager aren’t available. They are in the office and I can’t talk to etc. and so they just don’t are part of team and the other side of the corner causes the manager doing too much in the way or serving instead of actually sitting out of that and just do it for 5 minutes and then I will step back out because if you get caught next you lost 4 hours and so then you get behind on course. As you know retail is challenging. It is never as tom says retail is simple but never easy.

Mel: That is 100% true. I like that though that sort of stepping out being on the floor. That modeling of how you really well some sort of coming in coming out all the time. People foreseeing how you do things.

Roger: The great restaurants have the point guard. They have the person who is just making sure that the way staff are doing exactly what they need to be doing. They might do survey and bringing out things and things which are behind but they are the person that’s free up and is evaluating and we just get too busy being busy.

Mel: The next step Roger I guess is being very careful about how you reveal those observations too because you cannot be negative. You got to be focusing on great things. It is fine balance right because you got to get message across.

Roger: Yeah that’s right. what I fundamentally believe that most people want to do a good job and they don’t deliberating miss things and get into bad habits and they haven’t been followed up and that becomes the way they do things so we can intervene and change those things because the 2 of the simple models we have is obviously when someone doing it right you give them 5 seconds to praise and keep them doing it. If they are not doing it correctly it is about 15 to 20 second conversation between customers because and if it made flat out busy then you don’t have time. It is more like I fix it now and we try bit later but it is good time to then observe later on and say how is this still happening. It is 15 to 20 second conversation to fix it and but that’s the role I believe of a manager and unfortunately we don’t see the focus on here.

Mel: And tone and all sort of stuff come into play there too because that can work against you. Fantastic. Now to finish up Roger I want to know what is something that you are working on at the retail solution that’s in the work that you are excited about that you like to share with us?

Roger: Yeah I think for me it is interesting because I have just had this year and it has been bit of pumping year with fixing clients and also getting some new clients coming in and I have just been getting fantastic feedback about our feedback processes and one example is hairdresser just this year and his team later came to my training last year and he is not sort of person who would give a positive feedback which he sort of fully admits and I met him 3 months later and I said how is it going and he said this positive feedback is really working. Now staff is more motivated. They are doing that I want them to do. I said that’s great. So what is happening with your sales? He said my sales have doubled. Sales are particular product not overall but it is massive amount for a business and all he has been doing is they came to my training and took a back and they actually put in place and taking it step by step and then now they are re-building some amazing rewards so that’s what excited me Mel and just some in store visits like I said I do training one day and we go into store to put in place and managers are just helping them with the way they give feedback because most of the time they just tell managers what to do and I am going like you are going to change that around too because otherwise the store manager they just don’t understand, they don’t take ownership and so they just change the conversations and see dramatic change in attitudes and performance so very exciting there.

Mel: I love that you actually go back and asses what you are doing too and see what could be improving along the way as well. Now if people want to find out more about what you do roger where they can connect with you or find your business as well.

Roger: Okay. Couple of ways. LinkedIn is always a good one for me so just find me at rogersimpson at the retail solution and my website if anyone want to take advantage of my free ebook they can download and that’s on my website so www.retailsolution.com.au and there is also some training on there so just bit of resorts library there.

Mel: That’s great roger thanks so much for your time today good to have you on board.

Roger: Thanks Mel.

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60. The Customer Culture Imperative With Dr Linden Brown

60. The Customer Culture Imperative With Dr Linden Brown

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with Mel Telecican (Customer-Centric Coach)

Episode 60. The Customer Culture Imperative With Dr Linden Brown

Hello everyone welcome to episode 60 of the customer centric show. Today I am speaking with Dr. Linden Brown who is the author of the customer culture imperative and is also the CEO of market culture strategies. Now during our conversation today Linden is going to be talking about an exceptional story of a customer centric business who actually carries out and made good situation. A business makes and trying to fix that one and they don’t deliver expectations. He also talks about the needs for this after understand the concept of lifetime value of customer and give examples there. How he came to identify that a customer centric culture contributes to profitability and lots of research there. The eight factors to measure and drive sustainable business performance and how in past businesses of his own how he has used collaborative approach to boost competitive advantages. Ritual benefit across target marketing engagement success stories. So much into this interview. It is almost an hour but I guarantee you, you really will find this one valuable.


You are listening to the customer centric show with Mel Telecican where we talk with successful business owners and experts to share smart ways to attract more customers, profits and freedom by thinking about customers first. Now, here is your host Mel Telecican.

Mel: Hello and welcome to customer centric show. Today’s guest is Linden Brown. Linden is a professor, keynote speaker and an author who works with businesses around the world to improve competitiveness through the adoption or market centric values practices and skills. Linden’s business market culture strategies offers benchmarking, skills assessment and strategic planning for teams that results in measureable improvements in sales growth, profitability and customer satisfaction. Linden is also the author of customer culture imperative, a book that won marketing book of the year in 2015 and it is a book that knocks secrets used by businesses like amazon, virgin, apple, starbucks. It creates insights of more than 100 businesses to identify seven key factors for success. I am very excited to be speaking with you today Linden. Thanks for joining me on the show.

Linden: It is a pleasure Mel.

Mel: Now we start the show by asking every guess what an example of a customer centric business is that you have experienced yourself. Do you have a story that you can share with us?

Linden: Look I got call few stories Mel but I will start with one and this is of a company in United States called Zain Cycles and they operate over in candidate in eastern state of the US. A bike retail operation. So essentially they sell sakes and Chris Zane who started this business about 25 years ago is a real example of customer centric leader and he has been able to get that culture through entire business. He only has one store but he has probably have 30-35 people in this business and a lot of his business is down online as well as through the shop that he actually has and I think that what he said to me was the test of a customer centric business is what you do when things about what particular customer could share a load to the shop on one occasion and said look I want you to decorate this and pick it up for my husband he love cycling and I want you to have it in the window so when I come out with my friends and husband I will surprise him by taking him across the road and show him the bike in the window. Of course what happened was that I forgot to put the bike out. So when over there of course she was ready to spring the surprise but didn’t happen. The very next day they said well what can we really do about this? Well quite a few things we can do and we should do. The first thing that we should do is to forgive the 50 percent payment. So she paid 400 dollars and there was another 400 to pay and they said well we want you to pay that. We made a mistake and we feel bad about it and we want to fix it. But also they realized that there was an emotional element to this and so they offered her tickets to the movies for some of her friends and also for them to go back to that restaurant with Zane cycles actually paying the bill for two of them. So there are number of things that they actually did and they didn’t do it up by fun, their store manager went down to where she actually lived and personally told that this is what we are going to do and was telling me that this guy went back and said you want the lead and she actually kissed me so the customers overcome with the response of the company and I think the thing that really reflected the culture in this around the customer centricity was the person who was responsible in the back part of the shop, the one that was fixing the bikes and telling who is responsible to put this bike in the window actually wrote a check for 400 dollars to Zane reflecting that it was his responsibility. So that’s a real test of culture and in his business he talks a lot of his staff about the life time value of the customer and that the customer if they coming for 1 bike is worth to the business 800 dollars but if they are life time customer they will buy 7 or 8 bike in their lifetime and that will be worth 25-30k dollars so the whole thing around customer centricity in the Zane business was doing things like that and having a culture where everybody in the business understood it and then creating a measurement tool that says customer is important not only because we like this people but because they really create profitability for the business and this business is been continually growing over the last 20 years.

Mel: Yeah fantastic story. Really amazing. The tapping in as you said and the emotional side of things but the empathy of there was a lot of effort put into coordinating and requesting that might be put in the window so we didn’t deliver on that so let’s make it right and completely turn around negative into not even neutral but sounds like a positive.

Linden: Well definitely this person would be an advocate and he has been able to create the staff and also the link between the wellbeing of the customer with the wellbeing of the business and there is not a transaction when we are dealing with the customer but it is the relationship.

Mel: Yes and the fact that the employee actually fronted out with the check speaks volumes about it. It is clearly so ingrained in everything that they do that the employee knew that it is just no way around it and this is vitally important that how we believe the business should be run.

Linden: What is interesting is that in Zane office you will see that check fined in his office wall. He didn’t have to cash the check. But it is almost a legendary story around business and that creates a lot of power I think.

Mel: Absolutely speaks volumes. Now Linden you have got a great background of what led you to your business market strategies and also led you to writing your book. Can you have given us some background into how you ended up in writing a book and where this came from?

Linden: You know my original was in finance and accounting but I was actually bought up in a family that led small business and so I was sort of tuned into the fact that business is much more than just about the money side of things and when my first job with Cadbury in Australia I worked with them in England and once when I was in England I came across a guy who is really an inspirational marketing and sales leader and I said to him look I need to know more about this part of business. What should I do? He said go and work in the supermarket and listen to customers, see what they do, how they behave and you learn a lot about what it means to understand customer needs and most important thing in business is really knowing about and being able to provide them with products and services that meet those needs really well. So I did that and that was really the start of my marketing experience I suppose because when I came back to Australia after that I then started to study marketing and get evolved in marketing education and also with one of two startups in Australia. Experiences what it was like to have customer to have problems in delivering value to them and work all out and so it was quite a long period of what I suppose experience in business generally but particularly with customers and also in studying it and teaching it in various universities. Now that led me to really knowing that the customers are really the center of your business because you don’t have anything and when I was doing a lot of this marketing consulting work and marketing education work in particular large companies in the US and other places, started to realize the cultural side of it is very important but if you didn’t have a culture that supported a market orientation in business which is building growth into your business and delivering value to customers and well then you really didn’t have an ability to be able to profitably grow that business over time so it let me put a small team together to study this area and to ask some key questions. One of them was is customer centricity actually important? Does it contribute towards building business profitability? And the second question was why companies aren’t as a majority customer centric? what is it that wrong because there is a research that is telling us that 90 percent of large companies in US believe they were customer focused but only 10 percent of customers actually agreed so huge gap and so this research was designed to answer those questions and the third one question was if it is important to be customer centric business. Can we actually measure it? Because we know if we can measure things we got better chance of improving them. So those 3 questions were really the ones we wanted to answer and they were raised by colleagues where one of the people that I know very well who is ahead of the finance group asked me those same questions and said why cannot I get more customers centric thinking to my group? And I tried but it really didn’t work and so this lead to these questions and as a result of that research we then wrote the book customer culture imperative which allowed us to outline a framework of what customer centricity is and make it tangible. We did find that there is elements of customer centricity to drive positive business performance if you are strong in those elements and we did therefore time when it is actually important for business. So we found that those business that were highly customer focused in what they did as a culture were much more profitable than the other businesses and there was a lot of evidence to actually support that. So that’s how the book really came across it about it and was probably research project.

Mel: Can I ask Linden is consistency you said your friend that said I have been trying but I haven’t had any luck. Is it about I expect it is about long term approaches and I guess tweaking as you go right.

Linden: It is. I think the first thing that a lot of leaders in small, medium, large business don’t understand is that to be customer centric you have to create a culture of customer centricity. You have to create a set of behaviors right across the entire business. Really everybody job is to make sure the value is delivered to customers in a way that makes advocates which creates loyalty and profitability for the business. So the long term aspect of this is very important because a lot of particularly necessarily running public corporations where quarter by quarter they are reporting to stockholders and if they missing their numbers they are getting tremendous criticism. The big advantage if you don’t have that short term pressure to meet numbers month by month but at the same to really build a strong customer culture you need to have a view that goes and investment really that goes beyond next month that is a thing you do overtime and probably one of the great examples of this is amazon, they sell virtually everything but the CEO of amazon has always taken a long term view and is always looking for ways to which greater value can be provided to their customers and that and he is actually taken in a 1000 year clock that he has in Texas where each year ticks on 1 second something like that but reminds him that business needs to be thought about beyond short term and building customer centric culture needs to be ongoing and we need longer term vision with that and he as a monthly newsletter that comes out to his shareholders and everyone them right from the beginning I think 1995 so they are company close to 20 years old but every one of them from start had the view that we need to have customer centric culture we need to take a long term view.

Mel: Yes absolutely I think when we were talking before we actually went live on episode about that perception of businesses already feeling like they are customer centric and you said before 90 percent of businesses actually believe they are but their customer say otherwise and I think what you are talking about is that culture element and the importance of looking into it before you can actually help customers. So do you mind explaining to us the tool the index that you developed?

Linden: Yes from this research work we developed and elevated to which we call the market responsiveness index and it makes I think tangible a total of eight factors that seem to be drivers of future business performance that’s customer satisfaction and innovation. All those things can tied back to these 8 factors. So these 8 factors helped us really make this area of customer centric culture tangible. They really about what people do in the business. What people actually doing in relation to customers and we have 2 of those factors are customer factors and one we call customer insight and the other is customer foresight and those 2 factors are really ones where we are doing things in our business culturally right across the business that helps us in the case of customer insight going very in depth understanding of needs of our existing customer and how they like ot be served? And what is important and from that we are deliver that value in the way they want. Customer foresight is about the needs to future customers. So that picks up the future. We have 2 other factors which are competitor ones. Competitor insight is around the existing customers. How do we position ourselves to existing competitors because they represent the alternatives to our customers, they have options and the competitor companies are typically options? So competitor’s insight about existing competitors and foresight is about possible new competitors. Now who would have thought in the taxi industry 5 years ago that there would be an ember? So there is something that has come out of the blue and had a massive impact and that’s happening right across all companies. So future competitors that affect value your customer going to get are very important culturally. Examples are a lot of companies that has just not seen things coming. Probably good examples again might be census and yellow pages. They didn’t have culturally the ability to make the change enough. That really cost them.

Mel: Is it just because they are such a big business or is it because our audience could move a bit faster?

Linden: Well yeah size definitely pose a part because to embed an agility of culture a large business is a lot harder to do that smaller business. In business smaller, you can get everybody in the same run and over weekend you can say look this is what is happening. This is how we are going to approach it, what else can we do. Okay let's agree we are going to do these things lets go do it. So you can in smaller business really galvanize everybody. So as long as they got the mindset to be able to change and even in small business.

Mel: Is it about being able to identify what you unique value is in the market compared to your competitors but not resting on that and making sure that you are keeping at rest of what is happening so that you can shift and allocate as you need to so you continue to be the rocket leader.

Linden: It is exactly that Mel and I think that what it has to translate into though is actually the delivery of value so we create the value and maybe it is product or services and we understand what that is from innovating around the current future potential needs of customers but the delivery part of it and this is why everybody needs to evolve in the business because it is the cultural thing and there are parts of the business which can hold that back so if you get always incorrect bills from finance group and there is a problem in the customer's point of view. The value of diluted and you can see that coming from other functions as well. All these things have big effect on the delivery of value. So the cultural part of it is really around the ability of people to change some of the things they do to create and deliver better value or appropriate value for customers and their expectations change.

Mel: Okay great. So first to customer insight, customer foresight and then was it the competitive analysis there?

Linden: Yeah competitor insight which is really around uniqueness and differentiation of value propositions in relation to it and competitor foresight is around who is going to be our future most important competitors? Some of them exist and some of them don’t but with the diamond of change going on, the value can be delivered by other companies if we don’t know. Can really allow and make advantages. So another external factor to that is purified vision and that is the understanding of what is actually happening very broadly in terms of economic impacts, social impacts, all those broad external things that are affecting all businesses these days. Those things are little bit like when you go and have your eye tested and you are asked to push button up way up to the left and it is that wide angle view of what is actually going on and what might impact our business in the future and where it has become really highlighted is the move and technology towards mobile communications for sharing information and for banking everything and a lot of companies really relate to that particular boat. I was at Facebook the other day here at silicon valley and that is example of very customer centric organization probably about 4 years ago Mark Zuckerberg look our mobile application here in Facebook is just not good enough. We really got to change and invest in this because mobile is going to be future so for the millennium generation it is present so big companies like Facebook really are trying to shift if you like their capability to that technology and they done it reasonably well but there are still a lot of more that can actually be done so that is an example of an technological and customer shift that is going on and affecting most businesses and that’s a vision thing. We have company here in Silicon Valley called Intel and probably 10 years ago they said we got to start thinking mobility in terms of chips. He gave it right in the start and this is a big business intel and they took 5 years ago before culturally they make that shift and do it so they probably came back to it and big businesses versus small businesses and small businesses we had the great advantage of being able to get everybody into the work talk about it get everything think back and feed in and really make changes quickly.

Mel: Just thinking Linden for my listeners who are small medium sized business owners, would there be an advantage to allocating a certain amount of time a week and talking about the things they are using or things they are seeing in their market just to keep their eye on competitors but also to be able to develop a bit of pattern of what you can see is where people are moving so that you can then start I guess keep close eye on what is happening and they able to pre-empt customer changes down the line.

Linden: I think that’s a great advantage to do that what you suggested. I think that you could do that in a timely way with a smaller medium sized business and then you can have even special days once a quarter or something like that where you really spend quite a bit of time day or something like that really sympathizing the things coming through. So you can well put through together them in and really start to have developed strategy from strategy day where you actually bring that together for action. So first things can be tactical improvements. You can look for strategic improvements, taking out opportunities is a good idea.

Mel: Hmm I am thinking as a leader when you are running all these elements of your business and delegate to certain degree, those are the things that we typically as business owners keep to ourselves and if we are able to have more mindful of thinking along those lines and be keeping an eye and here out, we would be much more likely to make a bigger gains and be more market aware I guess.

Linden: You know quite a few years ago I was an owner and part with a furniture business which we started from scratch and still operates today but what is relevant about that is every Friday afternoon I would get all the staff together and we would talk about what is actually going on in the business and that was every Friday afternoon so we had people in there in the store and the office people and so on and out of that came tremendous initiatives and also tactical things to maintain competitive advantage so what you are suggesting is very valued.

Mel: Hmm just having that transparency so people feel connectedness and that I guess ownership in what is happening. So Linden we have gone through first five.

Linden: That’s right and then there are 3 others which are more in totally oriented things. The things we actually doing to make all of it to get real benefits out of first five and one of them is cross functional collaboration and that is the extent to which we work together across functions so this is the sales people working with your finance people closely and your operations people working with the HR people closely or the IT people so that we found cross function collaboration has enormous impact of your ability to deliver value and changes more quickly and much more efficiently. So when you collaborating functions you are not having duplications and you all on same page in terms of getting things done. So that’s number six. Seven in empowerments. So that’s really important. This I think is easier in smaller rather than bigger businesses to make sure that your staff are really feel that they can do the job without empowerment particularly for customers so in some businesses there are processes that really make it very difficult for you to help a customer so take a company like cocker we take one store in Sydney and a couple of stores in Melbourne. Now cocker really allows its staff and say look we have no return policy so people can bring something that they purchase and is wrong thing yeah we take that back. So what that does is they might be taking advantage of very small percentage customers but really it doesn’t affect the profitability of the business. What it does is for customers it is easy for them to do that if they made a mistake and for staff there is embarrassment. It is going to be a very pleasant building of relationship. If you ask somebody and I did in Sydney stores and this person was pushing trollies and getting all the trolleys from the car part and to the store and I asked what it is like to work for cocker and he said fantastic loved the company. We all know what is going on, we all can throw ideas for improvement. We know that’s a thing. So the final one of strategic alignment. You know what is important in small business is something you mentioned earlier that also leaders keep to themselves their vision is. But their staff don’t know. So what the bigger picture? What is our vision and actual strategy to achieve our goal? These things need to be made concrete for staff and when they know these things then you are much effective business. Where there is disconnect between leaders and staff, then you got ineffectiveness. It affects the customers and employee engagements. If they are inspired as people are, then really going to crusade to help you build your business and that’s the leader's responsibility and that is to create that strategic alignment.

Mel: Yes and I think speaking of a lot of the business owners, the perception sometimes from the staff can be that or the feeling is that the staff believe that they are just in it for the money and there is no connection even though they see certain things in business by the owner I think it is money driven. So there is real value in sharing stories of how you led to start in that business and what drives you, I think that’s a way to engage your staff so they can actually see that there is purpose in what they are doing other than just the function they are employed to do.

Linden: Absolutely. I was with a small business owner this morning. This guy runs a construction company in California and they have it is a medium size business but that business has been built around community involvement. This leader was telling me that he is on 7 non-profit boards and they contribute all kinds of things in which they operate. It came from the earthquake that affected their father hometown down the California and his father running this construction business and he said his father went in and fixed all the stuff you know. They built the broken building and didn’t charge anybody and he did because he had to do it and that kind of passion now reflects right through this business where the head of this company today is the son has got that customer centric community oriented belief and it translates into action. A lot of people have been working with 20 years and they all regarded as family. They know that he loves them and that he would do anything for them and so likewise they do anything for him.

Mel: Absolutely. I think of a guest I had recently he is exactly the same and even my father who had an road building business, anytime anything happened people were in danger, he was there with his equipment and transport there to help them and that was just his initial reaction because he needed to help and that’s what you want to do as human being but as a side benefit he was known as a guy that stepped in when others didn’t I guess.

Linden: He is exactly like the guy I spoke to today I mean very impressive and a profitable in growing business and they been going out for 37 years. That’s the sustained growth and profitability that they have generated over that time.

Mel: Yeah fantastic I think the community building side of things I think there is a lot of talk around community building at the moment and it is about this online consecutiveness and it all comes down to helpfulness but actually being in your local community outside of online as well to be able to develop those relationships 100 percent. Now Linden before we wrap up I just want to know can you give us some examples of how this process of being able to look out internally and externally to be able to actually give the results of increasing customers, profitability and then step further being able to have more freedom in your life so you are not in your business completely 24/7.

Linden: Yes well I think coming back to the market responsiveness index. I see that as a starting point for those business owners that really want to find out to what level of customer centric because there are strength and weaknesses across eight things we talked about and they will firstly then benchmark companies on those 8 things and then point out from experience from other companies. What you need to be doing if you are weak in strategic alignment? There will be some specific things to do and really developed a roadmap of fairly common sense steps that you can take to build strength in customer culture in your business and the starting point I think is the measure and if we look at some companies that had been able to do this, what they have done is made its commitment to say firstly yes we want to build strength of our customer culture because we know when we do that we are going to be more profitable and grow more and in fact we get a lot less mistakes in our business so we going to have employees that more engaged and that means me as a business owner can be much more relaxed as well. So if I got strength in those various elements that we talked about, I would have a business that is running much more smoothly. There is always headaches in business. So all of these things lead to a more profitable business for everybody because everybody is passionate about these sort of things. One example I think of is MRI market responsive index health check in the businesses where it has customers and actually a finance business and for small business only 20 people in it and they have various kinds of finance products and they were having a problem in creating focus in their business so the normal functions in the people so you have finance people and somebody doing operations and somebody with legal contracts and so on. But they had trouble in getting focus and what this actually did for them was to create focus around the customer for everybody and they implemented is what I call customer immersion program. So particularly got people in that business involved in communicating with customers when a particular service was provided and ask them how the service went so not from the service person but maybe from the finance person made that particular call. So you are getting people that normally are not communicated with customers actually communicating with them and getting feedback and being able to come to the party when go to the meeting and say what do we know about their customers? Everybody got a contribution they can make once you get them involved in customer immersion approach but to do it well you need to have a plan to actually do it and then have feedback sessions and might actually fix in with suggestions and about getting together weekly or monthly to talk about what is happening with customers. If you feedback with this customer contact. Everybody at small business come at you. So that’s an element that has worked well in the business.

Mel: When you got staff providing feedback for other staff, how do you do that to maintain relationships? How can you do that in a professional way that make sure that people are still getting along well? Is that an issue or not?

Linden: It is an issue and I actually did an interview with Deyan Henry who is a former rugby coach and I asked him the tension associated with feedback just like that and he said in every meeting they had a session which they refer to as enter the danger which was really a session where you say look if you really got to drive somebody, this is time and meeting where we bring back into the open and we talk about it and expose it and get it done and clarify that and get everybody out there. But in their case they made it explicit so that plan is part of the meeting. We are entering danger okay. What needs to be said? Hah.

Mel: Fantastic. I think those things are absolutely common features but when I speak to business owners who are doing really well, they are actually allocating that time and people say well that’s expensive with all those people especially if that’s the model you got casual employees. It is really about looking at it from broader picture isn't it and making sure that you are actually moving in the direction you want to otherwise faster to put out more things to manage.

Linden: I mean the benefits of really having a customer centric culture exist for the individual and team in the business and owner and also business itself in terms of its performance so there are multiple benefits from putting the time and making key part of your strategy.

Mel: Hmm and as you book outlines, it led these businesses as you refer to amazon it is because they have been able to get to that level because they are focusing on these things and they got that long term approach. Linden thanks so much for your time today. I am going to direct everyone to read the book customer culture and imperative. Your book with Chris. Can you please share with us where people can find more information about the book?

Linden: Yes Mel. The information about our business is at marketculture.com and they are on that website, you will be able to get copy of the first chapter in your book and then in terms of getting hold of the book, it is available as an eBook or physical book and it can be obtained any of the mimics stores in Australia and can be obtained online from McGrawHill.com.au and I would think from couple of big book shops there deluxe and might be book world, I think you will find availability of the book and they can send it in either mode from their website.

Mel: Excellent. Thank you so much for you time Linden. I have loved chatting with you and there is so much in there that’s people can follow these steps that are outlined in your book that will help move the culture into more positive way that will allow us more freedom in our businesses and really make sure we getting places. Thanks again Linden.

Linden: Great pleasure. Thanks Mel.

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Outstanding Personalised Client Experiences With Dr Bryan West

59. Outstanding Personalised Client Experiences With Dr Bryan West

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with Mel Telecican (Customer-Centric Coach)

Episode 59. Outstanding Personalised Client Experiences With Dr Bryan West

Hi everyone I hope this episode finds you well rested after a very long weekend whether you celebrated Easter or just taken it in your stride and relaxed or perhaps you have done few things around the house like I have seen a lot of my neighbors have done. Now today’s episode is with Dr. Bryan West. He owns an online learning business, vocational training and basically share some great wisdom around what he does and what his team does to individualize or personalize their clients experience with them. Why they choose to turn away some applications? How they use phone conversations actually early on in the sales process. His unique staff engagement approach that helps him create a good team. How they overcame a quiet period and solidify a much effective business model as a result whether positive amount referrals comes. Why they don’t use any sales e-content in part of their marketing approach. How his team builds trust personally and professionality with their clients and plenty more. Actually another great thing is how he reduces 30 hour administrative load down to 3 or 4 hours per week. So actually saving them a lot of money in those wages. So great episode up ahead I hope you enjoy it. Thanks for listening.


You are listening to the customer centric show with Mel Telecican where we talk with successful business owners and experts to share smart ways to attract more customers, profits and freedom by thinking about customers first. Now, here is your host Mel Telecican.

Mel: Bryan West is my guest on the customer centric show today. Bryan West is the founder of Fortress Learning which was launched in 2009 as a high quality online learning environment. Bryan and his team support around 1500 Certificate or Diploma students each year, with the number carefully controlled to make sure each student gets their full attention. Fortress learning success is attributed to integrity and some basic courtesy and so many organizations use these sort of words as marketing tools. Fortress has embedded them in all of their operations. In terms of uncertainty or questions are answered through reference to questions what is the right thing to do. No qualification is issued to anyone who is less than competent that is much as less than the business strategy as a commitment to acting ethically. At a time many organizations are under media spotlight for scrupulous behavior. Fortress is committed to making sure their name and logo is something to trust. Within fortress Bryan have more than 20 years of experience of teaching and strived to reduce time student spend jumping through unnecessary hoops. That’s why we got him on the show today. Welcome Bryan.

Bryan: Hi Mel. Thanks for having me.

Mel: Now let’s start off, we start each episode with an example of a customer centric or client centric business. Who is yours?

Bryan: I think perhaps ironically it is my local video shop and they are destined to close as writing on the wall all there but they are not trying as fast as they could be. I put that down to service and the way they conduct themselves. Especially have couple of young guys working there, the university students and they worked there part time on weekend. But they conduct themselves with such professionalism. It would be very easy for them to say this is just a video shop and I am just killing time until something better comes along and this is beneath me but they don’t, they never conduct themselves from that point of view. Instead that they make it their business to make the staff, they are really helpful. They do their job with it is quite like a passion. You walk in the door and they greet you by name. It is very much relationship sort of service and it create sort of mutual obligations I mean these guys certainly do so well I cannot feel like out to them to greet and even that we are ahead. We still find themselves visiting the video shop because of their loyalty to these particular people.

Mel: Right have you always used that video store Bryan? Has it been ones that you used 10 years or is it more of recent thing?

Bryan: It is more of recent thing and it allows couple of years since we lived in this particular area but for the very first time we went there, we have been going there over since. It is probably bit further away than another one and to be honest I think their rental fees is a little higher but that doesn’t even factor.

Mel: It is fascinating because there is a lot of video stores closing everywhere I know one store that a lot of the employees were actually film students so they were passionate. So it comes down to obviously recruiting right type of people who are invested in that industry. It would be interested that after 10 years they still got that staff and things have progressively gotten better.

Bryan: I would like you to speak with the owners of that particular franchise to find out if these 2 guys are conscious decision or whether and even discover Mel with even realize that it is quite possible what these guys do and in a way they do that is probably keeping their business going for longer than perhaps.

Mel: Yeah absolutely and in the spirit of I guess what could be perceived as negative spirit of doing business, they still continue to keep their passions. That’s a great story and thank you for sharing it because that certainly would be one front of mind for me but yeah it is definitely it is still value in that space for short term at least.

Bryan: I think so and to my mind it speaks to how important that is for front line people to be able to authentically live the purpose. Communicate the purpose of that organization through their actions in a way that they believe is best fitting for each customer needs.

Mel: Yeah and I think doesn’t matter what is whether it is a career or I guess something that you are going to do long term. You are going to find that in your job so that you are in university and you are studying. There is great value in spending time focusing on selecting the right career and when you are actually in that role to fully embrace because as an employee truly enjoy the experience if you do that.

Bryan: Absolutely and to be honest for these guys I let both of them know to give me a call once when things do go to a certain point and they positions are no longer attainable. If I cannot help them then I would be very happy to recommend them to others.

Mel: That’s fantastic. Now Bryan do you mind explaining to me I know the story of fortress learning but if you could just give a brief sort of summary of what led you to creating fortress learning.

Bryan: It is a common question. As you mentioned earlier I have a teaching background before being a high school teacher I was involved in community and corporate education. When I was a high school teacher there was a number of deputy roles responsible for teacher education including overseeing vocal education and training in schools. It was sort of growing thing. There is some differences between training and teaching that subjects so teachers were skilled and teaching wasn’t possessed with right knowledge to be able to deliver that qualification in a way that was compliant and so I organized training for them to go off to. What I actually found was that they come back great stories with wonderful pastries with lunches but they didn’t necessarily come back in a way much with knowledge and I guess the whole concept of training and that’s why when fortress learning was ultimately on it has the word learning and not training because I believe the training is something that we do to people whereas learning is something that happens within them and back to the story about these teacher is I found that I was having to teach and trading them myself and so I put together programs and those programs became sufficiently successful and the teachers were learning more of relevance in the stuff that I was doing with them then they were paying with elsewhere and that really got me to thinking and I had conversation with friend of mine and about learning generally and how we felt that Australia training industry seem to be missing the transformational element that comes with learning and it became to transaction and so we said about the challenge actually whether we could deliver this particular program online in a way that exceeded national standards for quality things like that but also in a way that made it more accessible to people and that experiment was successful in 7 year later.

Mel: Hmm so can you explain to me what it was that you think that you did differently because when I think of let’s say stock standard training. It might be one person talking onto the front and everyone else was consuming and I think of perhaps you were more involved or interactive. Would you say that it is what the differences?

Bryan: I think the differentiator is with the standard model of the stage, the participants of training are generally considered to be passive. We put the stuff into them that we need them to know or believe in it to know and we done with it I think our job is done? But from a learning point of view it comes from starting to saying what do they already know? What they already done and identifying from there what sort of structures in place of their brains and then work out how can we leverage from that existing base of skills knowledge and experience to add in the bits that they need to know in a meaningful way? So rather than you sitting in the classroom and having a same relation given to you that is given to everyone else. We prefer to start with you and say what is the best information that you still need and what is the best way to connect that new information to the information you haven’t got on and that for us creates a more meaningful way of engaging people with information’s.

Mel: Okay so can I just confirm that so the RPL recognition prior learning, is that part of that or you talking about just assessing what they already know? Rather than put them through subject of that?

Bryan: Well yes or no. it certainly RPL comes into it and what we do with every student when they start is we like to capture what they likely to know with survey and from that we identify sure where are the existing overlaps between what someone know and can do and what required for this particular qualification that they are enrolled in and then we can go them and say here is an opportunity and here you should apply learning and we can assist them with the process of applying for prior learning. By starting from that point we can actually help them to make it more efficient and likewise through their responses to questions we can identify which parts of the program with learning they still need to do and because of this basis of understanding the background, we can texture parts of the learning in a way that makes it more relevant to them and then having understanding from the get go students background and it is about asking what they are likely to be doing. That then also enables to better understand them to be able to better support them. So if someone rings me up then one of my student rings me up then I have solid understanding of what they doing and have done at work and then enables me to explain new concepts in a way that connect them with things that a person already has an experience of.

Mel: Okay so it sounds very individualize. How do you actually start that process? Is it face to face interview? Is it done online through a survey or skype? How do you do that?

Bryan: We explain this process to people before they come onboard. So that they people that do come onboard are aware that it is going to happen and they are open to it and then once it happen and people start, the first thing that we do is make sure we send them a link to a survey and they send it back to us and we review it and that thing on that basis we got a very initial process setup. We can develop a plan and then we talk through that plan with the person. Basically becomes a blueprint and we call it a personal learning plan and that becomes a blueprint of how they can move through qualification in a way that ensures 2 things. One that they get the most out of it and two they actually meet the full requirements of the qualifications so that they are genuinely competent.

Mel: Okay so can you give us a rundown on the types of courses that you do offer and then talk to who your target market are? Who you look to attract to those courses?

Bryan: The main things are certificates for development and applied diploma for qualifications also from the training. Plus we offered 3 diplomas from the business services. So in terms of our target market those qualifications are pretty generic and there are thousands of organizations to deliver. I guess it is important to be really honest and say we don’t try to do things to our people rather target these people who are working or have worked so they come to us with a bit of experience and the whole determinations. The people who are paying for themselves usually they are so funded and people who are making commitment to adding study into what already demanding are. To be honest I take my head off to it. Some people committed to it to make it work for them so the other people we really want work with, the people who demand quality and don’t want to take short cuts and people who understand sometimes having someone tell them that they don’t know as much as they know is actually a key to be able to learn something.

Mel: Okay so I am not familiar with other training organizations but let’s say other RTOs that offer the equivalent, are they not doing what you are doing in terms of that personalizing and I guess being involved in that process of identifying their current state and what their current position is in terms of their knowledge and where they want to be, is that what makes you different or they are doing that for some degree and you are doing it for more depth?

Bryan: I think we do it for more depth. I couldn’t speak to more training organizations but from my experience from my own students any of who talk of their colleagues experiences, it is quite clear that we are very authentic with that. So that certainly is one thing that separates us but I think what actually separates us is the fact that we actually appeared to say no in front of people. We are not desperate to take everyone and that creates a culture where the people do have a very serious knowing of what they do and it means that we can focus our full attention of helping the people who do this. We don’t have staff Mel whose role is just to put in out associated with people who perhaps didn’t actually have good feed to start with. We learned that the hard way. When we first started we sort of to a logic standpoint in a way which we deliver things the way we do and for the first few years there wasn’t much competition and we became a bit complacent there and then one day it just seems like it and we realized suddenly the market is incredibly competitive and I actually take couple of years off manager and I returned and the landscape had changed so considerably that we just had to go back to asking ourselves okay why did we start this organization? What we want people to experience? Let’s get rid of everything that doesn’t lead directly to that and one of the things that we discovered was that we had tried to then know that backwards for so many different people to do so many different things that became stretched in so many directions and we are unable to actually meet the needs so many people and instead we moved towards saying okay this is what we do, this is what we do well based on people we are seeing to do.

Mel: So Bryan you started being selective progressively as you went, that’s quite the discovery process and so choosing your idea of client is really key and so is that sort of how you came into the decision that sort of independent people as a post to going to businesses who might put a whole lot of people through professional development. Is that how you made it?

Bryan: No I didn’t. We always had self-funded people coming to us but there is clear distinction between people who want the piece of paper because it is a ticket and then there is other people who want the piece of paper that they want to be confident that the piece of paper reflects their genuine ability and within the modern workplace, the piece of paper are currency and so we needed to decide to focus on those people who didn’t just want the piece of paper. Who wanted to learn and prepared to all of the things that are necessary in order to learn the basic things. The people who are coming to us in believing that there is money then that should entitle them to perceive the piece of paper with the ones that we are rubbing up against and they are the ones who are really causing us. Now I am quite brave for this. They were causing us to seriously question what we were doing and why and that really caused us to do some self-searching and decide what we are going to be? Are we really honest of going to be in organization that tried to do the right thing or we are going about to this pressure? And take the short term process and start hanging out dodgy qualifications.

Mel: And start I guess as you said finding it like the taps being turned off every so often and instead of having that consistent stream of client sell coming through.

Bryan: That’s right and one of the things is in the early days we decided no we would just stick to our guns and we had certain quality standards and things that we wouldn’t budge on and we wouldn’t take short cut and that’s being really good because 7 years down the track the number of people who come to us now who say look I did my qualification with you a few years ago. At that time I was just entry level. Now I see the value of qualification. I am now responsible for this whole department. They need to be training. We want to go with you.

Mel: There is obviously a lot to it but what are some of the things that you do then to help qualify people for the type of people you want in equals? I think you have a lot of leads and then funnel down. Is that how you market yourself? Influencing the type of people that are coming to your business?

Bryan: It is certainly and the marketing isnt just about I guess if you look at marketing and training organizations now, it is mad rush for everyone to get as many people into their funnels and I think it is really sad now to look that in the media every days and read story about it a student who got some incredible loan or some sort of thing that happens simply because there is disconnect between what the student was expecting and what the organizations able to deliver? We take the other approach where we happy to have people pour in on top of our funnel but very quickly we let them know that this is what we are about. These are our standards and we make it clear to people what they can expect from us and what we expect from them and then if someone happens to enroll and we usually identify that pretty quickly. Now we get impose our drawl process upon them and say look you been enrolled in x number of weeks therefore you are only entitled to this amount and it becomes a big grudging sort of difficult thing or we can simply say a trainer would refer that situation to me pretty quickly as a manager or if I am the person I say look we don’t actually think this is good thing. This is what we are able to offer you and this is what we are happy to work with you in this direction to achieve these goals. This is how we do it. You can find provider that is more in line with you or stick with us and we will do this figure. So more often not those people come around and stay and continue on with is but occasionally sometimes it is away for people to leave with dignity that was in face.

Mel: Okay so I am not familiar with how normally it goes but I think it is like you enroll in university after you apply, is it like that typically within your place? Are you different in the market with those conversations?

Bryan: We are bit different because we for most of the programs we always help these callers.

Mel: And most businesses I think would be trying to avoid that because that’s sort of expensive avenue to have a lot of people going.

Bryan: That’s right and we don’t want you to call us. That’s important to be able to set standards. Then I want to talk to me but I want them to talk to a marketing person. I want them to person with whom they hold learning relationship is going to be with and that often find people say look I actually have people ring me up and complain about our requests that they ring us up to talk about the program. It is clearly those people. Other people bring up and they sort of view it as selection process and they come in and sort of concerned and worried and at the end of it they all realized that this is actually people and it is about us wanting to learn about them and allowing them to learn about us and looking at if we were to go ahead to get then what would that mean? What would it look like and then allowing them to make an informed and honest decision is that actually what they want and then if they make that decision that they want to do that then we offer really good start. Now sure it cost money upfront because you talking to people and have your key staff to sales course but those are conversations that trainers going to need to have with people if they properly do their job and it means that in the back end we don’t have grumpy students. We are not dealing with complaints and dealing with social media and so it means we are happy with place of our work.

Mel: Yeah you are setting yourself up for success. You are setting your staff up too and just creating that harmony environment to get on with right.

Bryan: Yeah. Dealing with people is very taxing. So if can do anything to nourish the environment that gives people energy rather than just drains them then I am all for it and this is what we doing and to be honest when we started to having conversations with students and saying I don’t think we are good fit or what you are asking our staff to do is not align with our values and it is really good for moral and I make sure those conversations happen.

Mel: So are you the only person taking those calls or other staff taking those calls too?

Bryan: No we have other people to take them as well.

Mel: Great so how many staff do you have onboard and can you tell me how you select them because I imagine that would be such a process as well?

Bryan: We got 12 staff. I guess it is based on values first. We really want nice people who genuinely care. They do need strong set of skills and roles specific skills but when it comes down to if you are not a people person then just not going to be a good fit. I guess I don’t believe that it is possible for someone to come in and just absorb a culture. I think people either contributing to a culture or they are distracting from it so I want to make sure that we bring in people who are going to nourish our preferred culture and not just sort of absorb.

Mel: How do you monitor that?

Bryan: Contribution, attitude, the way in which people speak with each other. Those sort of things are important. We have every Tuesday what we call a hurdle and we have Friday as well. Every Tuesday morning every staff member answer the question how I have been taken of my physical emotional and spiritual health and well bang and so the answers that people give during that open conversation are a key to how people are going. So every staff member share something that they have been grateful for. Little things like that as well as having operational processes that ensure transparency is nothing that anyone does in organization that anyone does and other don’t know about and that ensures that everything that people do is readily known and what actually happen is when there is not a good fit, it is person themselves usually identifies that before I need to and I will say this is working.

Mel: This would be difficult because I guess this doesn’t co-insight with the end of diploma course. So what do you have to do then in that situation if someone does need to move on? Is it just a case of you stepping in? What do you do in those situations?

Bryan: Usually when it has happened it is generally them saying no this is not working. What we do is we certainly provide them with opportunities to contribute to the culture and we will make it clear what the expectations are, allowing them to make decisions. It is about empowering them with all aspects of everyone's work. I want people to be autonomous as possible and the key to autonomy is mastery and purpose and if people know what the bigger picture is and are aligned with it and have the skills to do their jobs then get the freedom to do their job and act accordingly and we generally find that people once they are given that level of trust and responsibility for their own actions make a decision one way around.

Mel: Okay I really like that approach. I am hearing more and more about business coming together couple of times a week. One too really down to the actual items and the other is a little bit like you are saying hurdle together. There is a focus that might be about personal development and chat about day to day things. The problem solving things that they normally don’t have time for in other meeting and that just creates that community that feeling of getting stuff done and to help each other solve potential issues.

Bryan: That’s right and we also have 1 on 1 meeting that are only 10 minutes a week and every staff member has one and that weekly means a lot but I would say I mean we don’t have performance reviews or anything like that. These meetings are so and the agenda is so related that they create such a safe place for anything to be dealt with and the value of them in there and because if I got some issues and I am close to them personally than professionally that would be difficult. We ask questions that is there any issues and this just comes out and it creates an environment of trust and I think the important thing is it creates environment of accountability. Not just in terms of the lower level staff to the manager but the other one around. It really ensures that middle manager involved in these things are truly listening to and responding to what staff are saying and what they need.

Mel: Yes and definitely you have a very clear picture of everyone sits and where your business sits I guess having those conversations so often.

Bryan: Absolutely and it is not just about what they say more often the business is big thing I try to have middle manager in is listen to what is being said, that’s where you will find the places.

Mel: Okay so say for example someone comes and says something that they don’t like you sort of suggesting reverse engineer what could be the route of real problem?

Bryan: That’s right or if we are talking about the issues they hurdle, the person who every week says yes I have been looking out my health but doesn’t give any details. Who is not as chatty, those things can highlights other matter and we look hierarchy then we going to need to deal with lower level items if we are expecting staff to be truly supportive.

Mel: Right the most famous quote is from Richard Branson about you got to put your people first because without them the customer cannot possibly get what you are trying to deliver so it is about investing in your people and well and truly. I think it is very valuable conversation and thank you giving us the insight into that. Now let’s talk about marketing. So when you are in such a saturated space and you do have your own beach I guess you are targeting a particular type of client, what are you doing in the market to be able to get those leads and what has been effective for you?

Bryan: The most effective thing for us is word of mouth. We would be in the last 2 years gone from about 30 percent to 60 percent of new enrolments coming through.

Mel: Do you have an active process to actually encourage that or is that something that organic?

Bryan: We used to have an active process and then I started contacting some people and I asked them about it and just found that there was a bit disconnect between genuine relation of the business they felt they established with us while being to student to then have sales referrals to friend type stuff comes through. They didn’t really connect with that. An example is when someone graduates we send a certificate card and the hand written card is written by their own trainer and if they are student that say that’s really what we about that go in comments in there and if there is someone else who you believe would appreciate the service then pass on the details and that sort of hand written content get data on it. Just seemed to be quite effective.

Mel: There is power of hand written note I think and as you said from the person who is connected to not someone in admin that sort of being tasked to it.

Bryan: But you know the key to referrals is people are surprised. People talk about things that are different or unusual and so around there when people are talking about I got to get my diploma. People talk about horrible experiences they had and then our students say that I didn’t have that experience and people say who did you go with? They says fortress and then they sort of come our way so it also comes through the trust in the logo and the same because people who gone before as graduates before we insisted our graduates are the real deal but they are legitimately competent. They are people who others can look and say well hang on if you are going to recommend someone then job log is over there. I am going to get your recommendation a bit more.

Mel: Okay so when you are not I guess getting that word of mouth business. Is it online or you are using social media? Where is it?

Bryan: We do fair bit of prospecting and that is just the open funnel and that’s through Facebook actually we have been trying and that’s been working quite well. We just making sure the ads speaks to quality and confidence and those sort of keywords we are after and then once they are into the website there is the marketing and retargeting through adverts and we follow them around. But our website is designed so that every page has essentially one thing that people can do that they want them to do and it is usually to download information and giving us the email address and our experience is people come to us and somewhere then they come back and then they download information and once they download the information we start the resonance we set up but it is in such a way that it is not as and we signed up to another trainee organization information as well and some of them just hammer here every day. I looked at a few and I talked to a number of students and perspective people about what they recommend and looked at some research and so we came up it and our follow up has basically 3 emails over 6 weeks but the important one and the one that get most of the response is on day to. I actually send that one. It is not sales message and it simply says hey. You probably expecting sales messages, this isn't one. Just here to see if you got the information you needed and anything that you want to ask and that one I just put a change last year and give that a go and that one is the one that people responding to that one and conversion of those people and 90% of those people go on to be coming enroll students.

Mel: That is the connection point isn't it? Introducing them to how you do business.

Bryan: It is day 2 so they already got some information. They have already been searching around organizations as well by that time a number of them we can see and we already received first e-mail from that and I am subscribed, that’s great. They are out of the funnel and I am happy for that and then it is those people then who get that second message that seems to be the key. As soon that happens we put them on weekly newsletter list and that goes out to people and that newsletter is not sales at all, it has no call to action or anything in there. It is just about sharing information and then establishing credibility and trust.

Mel: I like that there is no call to action. It is like I am giving you this. You already given me your e-mail contact. I am just giving you this extra value.

Bryan: And that’s right, that’s the whole purpose to say we are still here. We are not going to make a noise but you can look at stuff we doing, you can judge its quality. I guess we use social media the same.

Mel: So your content really has to be spot on to make sure that you are getting as many as the right types of people through.

Bryan: That’s right and it is really interesting that we have a newsletter content written by one of the trainers and they do in a bit of time but she been doing it and we rotate. She got a following now. Some of these are not enrolled and may never enroll but people come to us because they have been referred to us from someone who receives the newsletter and they finally get to them as student, already there is trust. Already there is a relationship.

Mel: So you are really building up that trust that I guess openness to set the tone for the type of people and the type of environment they are going to be entering into.

Bryan: And to be honest a lot of it is simply because I feel so much so that people try to make a decision. Once they make a decision they need to trust. How the hell they make a decision about who to trust?

Mel: And I think that personalization and that connected I guess everyone is sending out the emails telling about great they are and maybe some fantastic statistics but they are not actually connecting and there will be certain type of person who is looking to do that and that’s what you are looking for from your students in return right.

Bryan: Exactly.

Mel: Fantastic. Now just to finish up, as a business owner as you progressively bringing people and your business is growing what if you have done if you got some advice or tips of how we can as business owners give ourselves but freedom even though we are trying to grow the business. You can feel like it is account able for sometimes trying to get through all the tasks. Any tips?

Bryan: I think it comes to trust. It is about not mistaking trusting someone personally with trusting them professionally so let me explain. We can employ someone to do a job and we can trust them professionally to go the job and we can trust them personally to want to do the job genuinely but even that we may trust them to do the job as best they can, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we should be trusting them to do the job because their intention to do the job doesn’t necessarily equate with the ability to do the job and so I think it is important that we provide clear structures guidelines for staff to operate so they know clearly what the expectations so they know what their roles are so we also have something than to fall back on like we got a very clear process. If something goes wrong in our organization we actually have a process that explains how to go back through the relevant processes when this has happened to find out and that that enables us to identify one of two things. One it was a human error in which case deal with whatever the appropriate way is. Quite often it is the training staff to have a laugh about it and just as little mistake or two maybe question the stability of that particular process. So by having those sorts of things written down you can actually create a safer environment with people and wanting them to stay up and more successful your trust both professionally and personally and I think that’s very important. We still want people to think and don’t want them to turn into robots. I talked before about autonomy mastery and purpose where the mastery comes from not just being able to do your job.

Mel: Absolutely and that’s an ongoing process like you said. You create structure of processors but tweak it as you go. Is that a collaborative thing as well?

Bryan: Absolutely and all of our staff every single person has the authority and responsibility to be continually refining and updating and delete processes.

Mel: And that’s important actually the whole concept of deleting processes because they can often in our process they can add but not take away.

Bryan: Yeah there is a great book by a couple of guys from Stanford called scaling up without screwing up and they have got this thing of whole section about you need to reduce cognitive line and sometimes just removing one step from process isn't enough to do wonderful things. When I returned to being manager couple of years ago I noticed that the organization had grown into different directions and one of them was the admin area within the office and we had about 30 hours of admin time that we expect within certain duties and I couldn’t get my head around and so I actually just sat down there and watched for a whole week for 30 hours and I document what they did and I realized that so much of what they were doing was duplicating what has happened elsewhere in the organization and so much of what they were doing was correcting errors they would cause by the way which they were doing things. 2 years we now have somewhere between 2 to 4 admin hours per week. We don’t have those errors being made. The quality of service in that particular areas hasn’t affected the students and has gone up considerably and so that’s an example that we don’t only save 30 grand a year but we actually reduced the level of complexity that people had to deal with in order to do their jobs.

Mel: Okay so it is literally getting together and saying okay who is doing this so allocating roles and responsibilities I guess and breaking things down and removing those things that have been doubled up.

Bryan: And always asking the question why? Why we doing this and one of the key indicators for me is that staff member struggle and perhaps it is time to review the processes again. Generally speaking that has never ever lead to something else, usually it leads to refining the processes, vision of the way we do things and go back to much more efficient way of operating.

Mel: And so all of those processes then allow you. Do you take a bit of time off during the year Bryan?

Bryan: I have for a last couple of years but I mean I mentioned me way away for couple of years and I took a whole year off and that was great and we did that because the organization was assisting us.

Mel: Yeah fantastic. How hard was that though having the great time? How hard is it actually to really step away?

Bryan: It was pretty hard. It is trust and I knew I was going to do it and so I actually spent 6 months climbing down the ladder so basically assuming every role in the organization from manager down and then I was out for 18 months.

Mel: Wow that’s great. Congratulations on the great word that you are doing and the fact that you are able to continue to just keep thriving and what is such a saturated space so you know it is very clear that what you are doing is something that is going to keep your business in good years to come with that approach you got so thank you so much for sharing that stories really appreciate it.

Bryan: Lovely to have a chat. It is always good opportunity to reflect on things and yeah it is what we do that helps us sleep better at night.

Mel: Fantastic now do you mind sharing with us before we finish up something that you are working on that’s coming up and you are excited about it as well as your details where people can find you, find fortress learning?

Bryan: You can find fortress learning at fortresslearning.com.au or look for me on LinkedIn Bryan West. In terms of what we are working on we got a few business development happening but what I am really excited about is actually something really small. We were talking before about referral and things like that and we were talking about how can we express our gratitude more to our people who refer us because they are so important and we asked few of them and we thought of giving them stuff as I suggested before they said that no that’s bit of fancy actually because you have already got our trust and you to reward that with cash, this doesn’t fit. And they told us if we gave them money they would actually be incentive to refer more so and so a few staff it works. It is not just students who trust it is our families and when our students refer us to others it is not just us who are grateful it is the family who are grateful and so couple of mother got all the kids of all the parents and they drew stick figure of themselves and we had them mashed up into an album and we made it process into making little simple thank you card from the kids at fortress and so the idea being when someone refer someone to us, it is not going to be an automated message or money or something, it is going to be hand written card from the kids at fortress to genuinely express our gratitude to emphasize that trust.

Mel: Yeah these are the people who are all connected to the educational institutors that is fortress learning but there is people that sit behind all this even beyond the people of contact. I like it. Bryan thanks so much for your time again. Great to have you on.

Bryan: Pleasure. Thanks Mel.


Thanks for listening to the customer centric show. For additional smart ways to attract more customers, profits and freedom, head on over to the website www.customercentricshow.com.

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58. Digital Strategy With Doyle Buehler

58. Digital Strategy With Doyle Buehler

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with Mel Telecican (Customer-Centric Coach)

Episode 58. Digital Strategy With Doyle Buehler

Hello there Mel Telecican here you host of the customer centric show. Welcome to episode number 58. Thank you for joining me. Today I am interviewing Doyle Buehler and before we get underway I will give you a quick rundown of this sort of content that we end up talking about throughout this episode. In this show Doyle Buehler talks to me about what a digital e-commerce system is. The starting point for effective customer communication regardless of which social media platforms we use. That’s right. How to choose the correct platform, how to monitor our customer engagement online, how to minimize the distractions of digital in other words knowing which areas to spend time investigating and determining whether we should be using or not. Who we should be getting to manage our social media and how we need to be using all of these options as a sales process from turning our customers to our potential customers who are looking and researching online. So all of that and more in this episode.

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You are listening to the customer centric show with Mel Telecican where we talk with successful business owners and experts to share smart ways to attract more customers, profits and freedom by thinking about customers first. Now, here is your host Mel Telecican.

Mel: Welcome to the show. Doyle Buehler is my guest today. He is known as the digital dude. He helps small businesses and entrepreneurs globally become outrageously outstanding online. A former military pilot in air space engineer, Doyle has spent the last 14 years in the business world with startups and online e-commerce businesses around the world. He has MBA in leadership and is the author of the digital delusion how to overcome the misguidance and misinformation online. A book about digital strategy and online business leadership. Doyle’s book discusses the new reality of the online industry and what business leaders can do to get beyond the clutter and distraction of the online world. There is plenty of it I know. He does this to probably develop in his client's digital eco system including the strategy content planning, social media, SEO, website development, sales implementation and marketing automation. Doyle recently won the smart 100 innovation award ranking as Australia’s 100 most innovative products with his digital leadership methodology amongst other significant business awards. He holds a number of US devices online business methods. He has a growing online learning community where he teaches his digital leadership methodology. Doyle is regular on the road speaking about social media, digital marketing and almost everything about online business. Spreading the word about digital leadership and today we are speaking with Doyle who is normally based in Australia but chatting with me today from Canada. Welcome to the show Doyle.

Doyle: Hi Mel, pleasure to be here. It is a combination of both so as you can talk from my accent I am originally from Canada so yeah it is a little bit of business and little bit of pleasure.

Mel: You been on the road for little while?

Doyle: Yes since couple of months so yeah.

Mel: Yeah fantastic. Sounds like the right time of the year to be in your part of the world. Now we start the show by talking about an example of customer centric or client centric business, do you have your recommendation and your feedback as to who is that customer centric business?

Doyle: Umm good question. I mean I am sort of more of a philosophical type of person. The more I sort of look for key indicators of okay what customers are happening and is there sort of sentiment towards that so I don’t have a specific company to say but what I find is that you can monitor social media laws. You can really see these stories crop up. Unfortunately they are usually negative in scope where somebody dislikes this company or somebody dislikes another company so it is actually rare that you hear sort of positive vibes on social media about company.

Mel: True. What do you think of biggest mistakes in that social media space then that means they are not doing the right thing by their clients or customers?

Doyle: Well I guess it comes down to the fact that everybody has an audience with social media so it makes it a lot easier to kind of project that voice and say hey this company did me wrong and kind of develop it from there. So I think it is because we have that forum not because before it was like well yeah I told your friends, your family about your bad experience and such as this and then you kind of stop there. So I really think that businesses have to take that extra step now and they have to monitor that, they have to manage that and deal with it when you do have an customer. That’s you know right or wrong they obviously made a complaint. You have to be able to address that very quickly.

Mel: Great so jumping on making sure that you are aware. Is that something like for instance google alerts where you can be aware of who is talking about you online or just platforms themselves?

Doyle: Yeah there is actually a lot of tools that marketers can use to sort of monitor that sentiment that’s going on. One of the buzz feed but google alerts as well as obviously pretty important. It can be a little lagging whereas few something like buzz and that sort of thing. It actually pulls that information out of the internet live kind of thing so you can sort of monitor who is talking about this company or who is talking about that company.

Mel: Okay buzz sooner okay I have to check that out. Now can you share with us a story briefly that lead you from pilot and air space engineer to becoming the digital dude, how does that happen?

Doyle: Ha-ha. That was sort of my adventure of many years ago. I guess I will start from the air space side of things. I was kind of began my Masters in business at that time and this was the turn of the century and I always have that sense that hey you know I can do things a little bit differently, a little bit better so I kind of took that upon myself and 2002 had sort of built the foundation for a business while I was sort of working in the aerospace field and launch that all the way back over here in Canada and that sort of was my introduction to it. It was a tact focus business with 3D printing and 3D scanning and other sorts of things. So we are pretty far ahead of the game because that’s just kind of come into play now.

Mel: Yes absolutely. So okay you were creating your own products and you were coming out of these innovative ideas. So what then drew your focus to actually becoming the digital dude and actually spending considerable amount of your time teaching other people how to do this online instead of say continuing to do more in that innovation space.

Doyle: Good question. It pretty much came down to when I moved to Australia and decided that hey you know what I have been in e-commerce business for some time. A lot of customer service, a lot of operations management, startup leadership and that kind of thing and I kind of wanted to okay how else can we take this type thing. So it is a matter of saying okay well let’s sit down and talk with a lot of businesses and that’s kind of what I did and I found sort of that they were struggling with certain areas with digital with online business and with ads and all that stuff. Kind of built up this procedure that said okay look if we look at things little bit differently you kind of don’t have to put everything in the side. You have to sort of integrate and manage it and by managing it build a process so that it is kind of what I did and then when I started providing that as coaching and training and that sort of thing.

Mel: Yeah okay because this is struggle that continues to exist with business owners even people who have been using social media for instance for a long time, is it because it is just a change in landscape all the time and being on top of how I guess best practices that are out there. Is that the biggest struggle?

Doyle: Well yes and no. it is a struggle because we kind of make it struggle. If you kind of step back and say what is my overall strategy, you can kind of get down to minimum of your essence as I call it and once you do that it doesn’t really matter what comes up next if there is Facebook this year and Facebook doesn’t exist next year and another one snap chat becomes the most popular one as well. if you look at the fundamentals, it works regardless what platforms comes up next. That’s what I teach people that if you start up with very solid digital strategy, that will work into the fact that you are not kind of fighting fire because you can manage. You know what you delivering, you know who your audience is, you know what their expectations are, all that kind of stuff.

Mel: So this connected to being really clear on what your message is that you are going to be broadcasting. Does it really matter because the technical side of things can be sorted, it is just making sure that your messages on point.

Doyle: Yeah and that’s what a lot of businesses unfortunately miss. They don’t have that baseline what I call strategic architecture that kind of pulls those values statements out that your customer is looking for and your audience who haven’t sort of become your customer yet and again you have to be able to manage that.

Mel: Absolutely to be able to make sure that yes even if you do influx of customers that you can actually manage effectively and keep them on board. Now do you work exclusively with e-commerce businesses or who is your target market?

Doyle: Professional services. Those businesses that are basically looking at developing, they are kind of struggling with what is going on and they don’t know how to position themselves online so whether they have website or not, usually not relevant. It is more that sort of sense that hey I know there is more value here. I need to deliver more value to my audience.

Mel: Hmm okay and so what is it that you do then that would separate you from your competition?

Doyle: The fundamental process is there and it says okay well step number one is this. Build a strategy right so how do you do that. Where you kind of have to do a little bit of navel gazing and decide this is what I am really going for and then you can build it from there and so we talk about strategy first and then moving onto developing that content to say this is the message I am going to deliver to my audience and this is my audience and adding in the social media and then adding in the branding and then connecting that with your website making sure that it is congruent that you are delivering that congruency across. All your digital platform add in the sales funnel because 98% percent sites don’t even have a sales phone and then talk that off with advertising as well.

Mel: We will talk about the sales funnel a little bit down the line. But I just wanted to know when you talk about a digital ecosystem for everyone just to be clear. Do you mind unpacking what a digital ecosystem would look like say for B2B or B2C business?

Doyle: Sure that basically everything that you create and product in the online space so it is the blog articles that you write at your website. It is your branding. It is the pictures that you create. The visuals, the presentations, the webinars, your podcasts, it is everything that you building out, you are basically building a city that has certain customers in certain areas with certain type of content and structure and platform. So you have to think of it as it is not just your website, it is much more than that. Your website is one of those key points obviously because that’s where you start your financial transaction come through but it is just one piece of the whole. So if you didn’t have anything else other than a website, you don’t have an ecosystem, you just have a website and it is not going to help with your business. It is not going to help people connect with you. That’s not going to help you sort of become relevant to your target audience as well.

Mel: So it is about being able to get all of these things I guess. Not to talk to each other but to be able to create that funnel that you are speaking off. Can you explain sales funnel and what that might look like for say a B2B and how that can work across platforms?

Doyle: It is more like a process really and this kind of goes back to example that I talked about again 98% sales 97% doesn’t really matter. You have a contact us page which for 3% of people who are ready to buy, they will fill it out answer your questions. The problem is that it is very small amount and if you can imagine that your potential customer base is not a 100 percent either so let’s kind of make it that number. But 30% percent people wouldn’t ever purchase from you for whatever reason. It is not their things. So in between that 3% that’s a fill out contact and ready to buy and that 30% that would never become your customer, you have this spectrum of 60% of your entire audience base and most e-commerce businesses forget that they can actually have that and the problem is not so much what do I do, it is more how you actually nurture that 67%. The fact is that we need to nurture that 67% into that 3% and that expands our market like multiple times because we are able to say well it is more of a buying process so they have to a) understand who we are, there has to be some credibility, there has to be some understanding that how you can help them, your value, everything else like that so you basically have to nurture them along this buying process. Get to the point where they know and respect you, heard about you, they have talked with you, all these kind of things so any business that’s in the space has to be able to provide that guidance and sales funnel process to move that customer along that buying process.

Mel: So really mapping out what the path is from I guess introduction to what you do so that they become increasingly more I guess trustworthy of what you offer and more further down that funnel. Interesting stats getting 3% to contact form.

Doyle: Yeah those are people that are already to buy and again we kind of have our narrow vision on thinking oh that must be everybody but it is not and there is people who are unconsciously aware but they have problem and you kind of have to move them into that education process to tell them, to show them and so that they can experience that as well.

Mel: Fantastic. Thanks for explaining that. That gives us comprehensive idea of being able to look back at what we are doing and what are putting into just on our website and whether it is actually leading to that extra outcome or whether it is just empty sort of content that’s not really doing anything. Should we be putting call to actions on every page of the website?

Doyle: That’s obviously really important but one of the things that works quite nicely is giving a person a gift right. So a free download, a checklist, how to more on better and things like that, to give people sense that hey there is something that you can do. I am here to help you in that journey. So I am seeing that more and more as we get into things as well as more businesses are providing like a simple gift just to start that process and then you kind of have to automate some of this. But you cannot automate that conversation as well so don’t get too hung up in terms of how money and I should be using this e-mail program or that. How you build that conversation through that process? Keep that in mind so start with the gift, start with something easy that people can get introduced to you, introduced to what you do, how you provide that value and then kind of move them along that process but yes you do have to map this up. It is not just simple as saying I am putting a checklist up there. So your call to action is to move them to nudge them towards your ultimate goal. Again people need time to adjust who you are, understand what your mission is and understand the value that you are going to provide to them.

Mel: Yeah so is it different from B2C businesses then because some might say it could be potentially smaller price and processes needs to happen faster. What is your thoughts?

Doyle: Well B2C is very similar. It does depend sort of what industry you are in but the fact is yes there are going to be B2C business that yeah people come to your shop, they pick they buy. Easy right. Again that’s only 3% that are ready to buy because they have researched the product, they have understood what they need, they know this is what they want. They just try to action again for B2C. You still missing large part of your market because again not everybody knows you are. These kinds of things. You still have to build up that 60 and 70% and if you are satisfied with that 3% people who are ready to buy because you got product xyz, and you are competing on price then but if you are able to understand the problem earlier on in that buying stage and process that I talked about, guess what you can move them into that purchase point.

Mel: So let’s talk about that retail for instance. If you got a store and you are looking to start online and to move in that direction, where would you say people should be starting and what platforms they should be using?

Doyle: I think you have to sort of again just take a step back and ask yourself what value I am delivering. I am saying because all the businesses well I got a retail shop and I just want to put this up online so I am going to open up a web store and I am going to have categories and etc. the difference is that your level of competition is so much different and that’s why you cannot just put up your catalog online and say hey come buy stuff. So you kind of have to manage that beyond the product what value am I bringing? Is it fashion? Is it style? Is it comfort? So I would say go back and say what is my business really about and then sort of focus on that. So let’s say it is about style comfort. So then that becomes the messaging that you starting to deliver through that buying process. Yes you have your ecommerce shop where people can go and buy but again that’s 3% people that are ready to buy because they know that they want these types of shoes or this color. So but in order to step back and say well okay what the value that we are going to provide is? How do we start to deliver that message? So now you can say okay let’s build this website around our concepts, value statements of vulnerability, beauty and style. So all of your messaging them becomes very clear so we can develop images right. We can develop branding. We can develop videos based on those core concepts and again people want this consistency, they want that congruency that says what you are talking about is what you are delivering so you can actually do that so then you can go to Instagram and post pictures but let’s make them within this framework of beauty and style. So let’s pick that channel and let’s build our audience based on those 3 concepts that we value and our audience values and that we are able to communicate very clearly.

Mel: The reason why I was using that example is because that’s such a saturated space and so we can talk to our values I guess that was a really key takeaway is being able to stay to 3 key elements that you really want to drive home and that’s in the messaging and imaginary and all of those things. But the cut through can be really difficult so yeah consistency is key. Can I talk to you about bright shining objects in terms of social media platforms because how can people determine? I know you said it doesn’t really matter what platform but in a small business owners and trying to decide where we should spend our energy, I see that in the last years snap chat all the influence is using it. Is it a bright shining object? Is it here to stay? What is your thoughts?

Doyle: It is a matter of again is your audience there and that’s the question that you have to ask yourself and can you connect with our audience so if it is then absolutely you should take a look at it but again it is going to take resources and we all have limited time money and people to be able to work with so we have to manage that and I mean I wouldn’t necessarily discourage people well this is you know new thing I got to do this, I got tons of customers on there. A lot of these newer ones they don’t actually have buying sort of process integrated into them so a lot of it is just figuring well how can I actually use that so what I would do is encourage that yeah there is something new. Just study it for a little bit. Get an account, try it out, connect where you can, find out how people are using it? Then you can decide.

Mel: So just by observing that’s how you determine whether your customers are there or is there somewhere that for these new platforms that you actually determine who the main adopters are.

Doyle: Yeah you can find out. A lot of these is community and communication based as well so it is difficult to say well 30% is females age so there is not a lot of statistics yet so that’s why it becomes a discovery journey to say well who is my customer? Are they on snapchat? Okay well how are they using it? Are they going into just to sample products or are they going to look up pictures. So it is really important to understand that behavior before you jump in and I am not saying don’t jump in, I am saying just do some research. How you actually convert that person on snapchat to your site to a buyer. Because again if there is no business value it is not a business, it is a hobby. So you have to look at that if you cannot see that path way of okay how we get them? How we move them from viewing a picture to purchasing my product or understanding who I am or that sort of thing.

Mel: Okay now you sort of eluded a lot of parts of it I think anyway. But do you mind unpacking or explaining your digital leadership methodology of what is actually achieved? What is the outcome? May be some examples?

Doyle: What it really focuses on is trying to get rid of that fighting fire mentality and shining objects syndrome as well okay this is running what do we do now? We are going to build a new department just to do that sort of thing so it is really about sort of isolating the challenges of your business and saying look if I have this process, if I have this procedure, I don’t care what comes along, I know I need to focus on these core areas and if you don’t have that, then you kind of doing burnouts, you are not getting the focus that you want and you are not working in the business model so it does take some practices. It does take some effort but what I am encouraging with digital leadership mentality is take a look at the platforms, the process and these things that connect everything online and just sort of build a process for it and that’s like I have the seven disciplines of digital leadership that say the certain aspects of how to solve the problems and then you obviously have to implement it.

Mel: Yeah okay fantastic. So it is really about being able to just make sure that you are on track with the content that you are sending in. That process is about revising as well I expect by looking out and seeing that it is effective and then re-tweaking it?

Doyle: Yeah exactly and not sort of getting distracted because every 10 e-mail of hundred say hey come by my SEO services or get your free website and this and that so the industry has evolved a little bit as they sort of super anxious person that sort of just keep going around and say oh you have to do this oh my god if we don’t do this you are going to die hah. So you kind of have to manage this and say well look if I understand this process and again this is where my 7 step leadership process comes in. it is like big sigh of relief. It is like oh shoot I really need to worry about this SEO because I have already included that in some of the technical stuff of my website and the content that I am distributing so yeah look it is a matter of going back and checking but once you sort of establish these principles and start the strategy content, social media website sales funnel, ads, then you can go back and say hey I have got a good platform where add a different customer group. Do I want to add some more ads to boost my sales and whatever because that’s the biggest problem and that people are not sure what to do next or how to organize it and that’s a big problem because that means that you are kind of back in the trenches fighting the fires and it doesn’t work.

Mel: And so what sort of time frame we are talking to setup these processes and have the effect?

Doyle: It usually takes about 17 months so it is a long process and that’s one of the key ingredients here is that I teach the long game right. So it is not a matter of fixing up your website tonight and tomorrow and expecting 6 or 7 figure income coming up because these things take time and can be quite technical as well but it is also that education and understanding that says we need to learn this so that in fact take some time.

Mel: And for your audience too I guess it is about even it is harder to start off within and trying to figure out exactly what you need to be getting out there and the message becomes clear and more re-enforced as the time goes on and allows people go further down that sales funnel.

Doyle: Yeah exactly and it is easier for the business because they know this is what I am about right. if you are going to ask businesses you know what value you delivering on selling rigid types of things until you step back and say well we are delivering energy, enthusiasm and escapism right. That’s what we are delivering so we can then say it and deliver it.

Mel: And I like the words you are actually using too. They are not the typical words that we might hit. You have actually added a few interesting ones in the mix there. I think that also helps I guess drill down a bit more accurately the type of values you are trying to put out there.

Doyle: Yeah it is not just about delivering widget, what can you experience out of it? It is not about can of sparkling water with energy in it. It is really that experience and sort of pushing the edge and doing different things and find an excitement and that sort of thing, that’s what they are selling. They are selling. They are not selling cans of carbonated soda.

Mel: So is it worth looking at bigger brands that you think that may be are little bit aligned with your business that can help profile the style or energy or spirit that you are trying to deliver. Is it worth looking to those big brands to help you find that correctly?

Doyle: Absolutely because you need something to aspire to as well so it doesn’t matter the size of your business. What you are aspiring to become so yeah absolutely it is really important to again take a look at well I want to be the next. So what they believe in? How they delivering that? What do they value? How does their audience value? So it helps you sort of frame it as well because honestly it makes a bit easier because developing a strategy can be quite difficult because it takes a lot of brain energy to ask those questions and answer them as well and sometimes it is very difficult because it is hard but it is just something that we don’t normally look at so if you can frame it with something which you already know hey you are halfway there, be obviously have to implement it doesn’t matter what you see you still have to do it.

Mel: Absolutely. Now how do you suggest we actually do this? Is this something that we bring people in to do or is it possible to do that ourselves?

Doyle: As the business owner if you are SEO, president whatever director doesn’t really matter. You kind of have to know what you don’t know. So that’s kind of what I am encouraging business leaders to say okay well this is basically what I need. This is what I want to do, this is why I am delivering. The execution, the implementation, yeah don’t do yourself. Get the favor of person or get somebody to help your social media but you kind of have to push forward with your strategy and content in terms of what you are talking about online so that’s core to your business so you don’t need to know how to program a widget on your site kind of thing. Get somebody to do that so you can focus on what is really important and that’s delivering your value so get the expertise that you need. Understand, learn the basics of again what I call digital leadership to give you that positioning to say hey this is what I need to implement, this is how we are going to do it forward.

Mel: Okay good stuff now for people who are wanting to know some exceptional tools for posting content and for tracking the effectiveness of say following as well as the results of your engagements for those platforms, do you have any tips or tools that you are using at the moment that you recommend to your client?

Doyle: Yeah one of the tools that I actually do a lot of marketing with as well as is SEM (Search Engine Marketing) rush. So what that does is it gives you the tools of understanding your website. How it fits in the competitive landscape and they have actually added some brand as well so you are able to track that sentiment of who is talking and where and that sort of thing. So that’s a really good tool that you can use and buzz as well is very because they can take a look and analyze again what people are saying, why they are saying it, that sort of thing. You are going to have to be fairly on top of this because again if you are very customer service oriented and if you have a very high traffic like opts because they have to manage that like diligently otherwise that can get out of control very quickly. So you can see what somebody said about your company and you can storm within minutes and that’s very powerful. In terms of tools actually one of the things that I am launching in the next month is a complete digital toolkit that is taking the 7 steps of digital disciplines. If you are working on strategy these are the tools that you need to do. If you are working on content these are the tools that you need to use and so we are going to be putting that together so that then you can sort of organize that who does what and when based on what stage you at. So you can use the tools. The thing about tools is that there are so many out there and you cannot decide which one is best for you. In the end of the day it is not about the tools it is about how you actually use it and it is making your business better so doesn’t matter what you use, what you find or what you refer to, make sure does what you are asking to do and if not find something better.

Mel: Yeah excellent. Doyle if people want to have a look at what you do and to be able access the digital toolkit when it is live and up and out, where can they find you?

Doyle: They can find me online hah. Just google me. My main site is digitaldelusion.com. That’s kind of launching point. I have a digital leadership quiz as well at a leadership.digital and yes that’s proper domain. We are kind of moving away because there are so many domains from the dot coms so they can go in and sort of get introduction to digital leadership. They quiz site is leadership.digital or my main site is the digital delusion.com.

Mel: Fantastic. Some really key takeaways from me from that episode when we choosing our social media platforms. When you ask yourself why am I doing this business? What is the purpose behind it? The fundamentals and content is what we need to be focusing on first regardless of what platforms comes up and the other one is around having a digital strategy because once you have your plan of attack you can manage, you know what is happening, you organize your things and giving content that the audience is wanting because you know all about them and what their needs are and the other big takeaway I had was this is slow span and people take time to adjust who we are as business owners and business personas that we put forward to our audience. This takes time for us to have the cutlery we need to reach our clients. We need to do that slowly to make sure people are really clear on it and ambitions and values and we provide that consistently in the content that we put out there. Thanks so much for tuning in. if you enjoy today’s show and you got value from it please hit on over to iTunes and give us a rating or review that would be very appreciative. Thanks for listening, see you next week.


Thanks for listening to the customer centric show. For additional smart ways to attract more customers, profits and freedom, head on over to the website www.customercentricshow.com.

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56. Profitable Hospitality With Ken Burgin

56. Profitable Hospitality With Ken Burgin

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with Mel Telecican (Customer-Centric Coach)

Episode 56. Profitable Hospitality With Ken Burgin

Hello, thanks for tuning into episode number 56. Today we are talking with Ken Burgin profitable hospitality and even if you may not be a hospitality business owner there is still some valuable gems in here for you. We are going to be talking about what we can do with our staff to make sure that we have got them on board and communicate with them with some really clever ideas and what can we do to save money and how can we spend our time better by working on our business. There is some valuable topics in there and I am sure you are going to enjoy it. Let’s get stuck into episode 56.


You are listening to the customer centric show with Mel Telecican where we talk with successful business owners and experts to share smart ways to attract more customers, profits and freedom by thinking about customers first. Now, here is your host Mel Telecican.

Mel: Ken Burgin is a former restaurant and café owner in Sydney. He now works with food services worldwide to make their businesses more popular and profitable. He is founder of the leading industry website profitablehospitality.com resource for the latest information on food and beverage marketing, management and cost control. He likes finding out why business success and why not a business problems. With more than 25 years’ experience in all area of hospitality he is the expert on how to optimize hospitality businesses. So I am pleased to have him on the show thanks for joining me.

Ken: My pleasure. I love talking about this business and talking to someone who has run restaurants and everything on the inside as well as the customers.

Mel: Absolutely now great to have you. Now you see lots of different restaurants and café. What is your perception of what is an example of customer centric business Ken?

Ken: So I guess one of the things is I wanted to be predictable in the good way. I wanted every time I go back, I don’t want to see same people there because I know people change around. It is kind of like going to see maybe musical and you know the act is going to be difficult but the sound is going to be the same. It is just going to be good. So I wanted to be predictable in a good way if I wanted to be really loved by their. I want quickly and I don’t mean fast food but I just don’t un-necessary delay and I just want to cut off the warm smile. I want sort of genuine and think it is interested with that. I am well into my 50s now and you know most of the people in this industry willing to be into their 20s. it is a bit of generation thing there because a lot of young just not that comfortable with dealing with people other than their own group and they get better at it but actually not good at it and that’s a trainable thing too so yeah predictable I really like.

Mel: Yeah and I think when you have this signature dish you want to know that there is that consistency and that efficiency is important too and if you can’t be efficient for whatever reason then communication needs to be there right to be able to make sure that you are not left wondering what is going on and rewarding eye contact that sort of thing.

Ken: And we all remember those times you know the early days when there was the real sale off and you try to avoid eye contact with hah customers doesn’t work.

Mel: It really doesn’t and something else you mentioned there warm smile. I got to say last week I went to restaurant in South Bank next door and there was a women who served me young lady and I got the warmest smile and I cannot remember the last time I got a really warm genuine smile like that and that just stood out for me. The food was great but that just really talked it off.

Ken: Yeah so do you think that is that training or is it that just someone who is always smiling?

Mel: I don’t know because it is not someone I consistently go to. It just show off the road but it just seemed natural and I guess that’s interesting isn't because it is not something that you can always teach maybe if it is a gradual thing people feel comfortable as you say but some people are just very natural like that and it is hard to get people like that sometimes right.

Ken: Yes and that’s an skill and operator whether that is hospitality or any industry actually being able to find and you see them as they walk in the door for the interview too, there is a crispness about the way they step and sit down and smile.

Mel: Yeah absolutely. So who is your example though? Do you have an actual business where you live in Sydney or in Brisbane that you would say is consistent or is efficient?

Ken: Well over in Brisbane your town couple of days ago and went back to a place I really like called Gun shop café in West in and I have been going there on and off for years and years and it is always great. The food is always good. Like I was up very early and I bet they were not open the quarter and there is so many places that are almost like dance there hah and then I guess because I have been industry too. As some of those customers we can actually create a good experience by just going to initiate a conversation and I say oh I love coming to this place. So that the young women that came straight back said oh wait where you from? Which is a very easy thing to do I said I am from Sydney and she said oh I grew up in Sydney and then we had brief chit chat and that’s thinking about those conversations that’s trainable stuff I think. That’s something we can get our staff to do you know and look some people just stick their head in the paper and don’t want to talk to anyone.

Mel: Yeah I tend to agree and I think that if staff realize if that comes to leadership down to that and this is what we want to encourage and have a chat and enjoy your work, you are probably going to have more time if you do more of a good time if you do actually interact and you do get to know people who are just occasionally visiting.

Ken: And that’s where there is going to be some monitoring too you know to see that people you got nice smiles and you know they are efficient but you got to check they are actually having a conversation or another thing that I always laugh about and I do a startup workshop for people in café so I talk about when is the last time you went to the place and they cleared your coffee cart and they said would you like another one? And maybe one hand goes up in 20 people. No one ever does it and that’s trainable too. That’s a system. Once staff just get into it and remind you didn’t ask them or whatever. Oh okay next time and then you just almost they didn’t realize they were doing it. They always just doubled your coffee sales.

Mel: Yeah absolutely. In my experience Ken sometimes when we would do things like that, it was actually having to solve to communicate but that’s actually a helpful thing to do, because have the choice they can say no you are being pushy. It is just offering and offering it just that. It is very open and people can make that decision.

Ken: Yeah and look some people have kind of sales gene that might come from family or culture where you just always need to hustle to survive almost. Aussies well we are born with sales gene and we need to learn this and a lot of your staff you actually need to teach them. Then they will get it and it will just become part of their DNA hah.

Mel: Yeah and I think also if you look at your own personal experience that we got good service and if we really broke that down, those are things they are doing. If you are wanting that, they are including that sales conversation with ease.

Ken: And then you can have little talk about okay you got 4 business guys and you all have why and they all just being little bit kind of smart and how do you get a coffee and interact and something like that. Let’s practice how it work.

Mel: Yeah roleplaying is good absolutely. Now you have been in this industry Ken for a long time. You had your own café 20 odd years ago. Couple of café is that right?

Ken: Café and restaurant and a takeaway food bar in dourly.

Mel: Yeah tell us about that and what led you to building profitable hospitality and you have been doing for such a long time now. It is a wealth of information there that you have created.

Ken: Yeah well I love the café business and restaurants. My café was my main business which is build up for 10 years from a very tiny business that I bought and then put my foot on the accelerator and just made it bigger and bigger and it is always I like efficiency and I always looking at better ways to turn table. Out of efficiency we actually create good customer experience as well. Because someone says oh you never seen someone eat so slowly but suddenly say oh my god is that the time? I need the bill and they kind of suddenly it is a panic. If you got a good system to get the bill really fast and swap the credit card in there off, fantastic. But so many places that fluff and cannot find documents and all that. I mean investing huge amount of money at that time putting a real point of sale system with table tracking and that sort of things are now pretty much part of the scenery but different sort of things are made. So that was a stuff that I was always trying to bring into my business and then making it easy for the kitchen to get food out fast because boy there is a lot of and those guys work so hard and often times really difficult situations and I remember going to 2-3 group coffee machine oh what a revolution that was. We can get everything out so much quicker. So that was optimizing. They create good service just by getting more efficient. So there was the café the which has usual stall of things and light meals and I had partner with Italian restaurant too which was formal and licensed, very different and customers wanted to be treated quite differently and different types of staff too. We actually used to hire some staff that worked on ships often Italian with right accent and I was fascinated to watch there. My partner was Italian and he was very comfortable managing that but I was fascinated to watch the skill of these people.

Mel: That was my experience too yeah. I had Spanish restaurant but we did have Italian guy in and he was just took in stride and brilliant and completely efficient and great at generating ideas and he was universally student too and only worked in restaurant and didn’t have a family business like that but wow customers loved him but it was the efficiency that was definitely on top for sure.

Ken: Yeah and that job as a business owner to support those people and look give them the environment. They can do just fantastic work. Actually if they don’t, they won’t stay either. If your make their life hard or difficult or bit pointless, they will be gone.

Mel: Yeah and great to be able to say for instance you know like sharing ideas what is working in the place and they can actually contribute to staff meeting to be able to say well this is what I am doing. This works for me.

Ken: Interesting around tipping too because it is related to service and I always believe in people who staff keeping their own tips. So I used to divide up. We had 2 section on week days and 3 sections on busier nights and people would keep their own tips and that’s not very common in Australia. But boy you noticed who is getting the good tips and if people would tip really badly I have to look closely whether that would be the right as well.

Mel: Absolutely. So that was you.

Ken: So that was me doing the business and then there came a point in 9 and half years that my partner wanted to sell the Italian restaurant and I was like hang on maybe I needed to change too because I really loved the business but very time consuming you know 7 day business. So I sold that business and I always had this idea of going into consulting work but also a bit of training and then I find out that the training side of stuff work was what I really enjoyed the most. So the training side of things I really enjoyed with group of 15 people that sort of thing and done quite a bit of that ever since and then having writing stuff and showing people how to do things. I wanted to get online and develop a website. Started doing newsletter every week which is done for email number 575.

Mel: Yeah you put lots of valuable information like it is not fluff content. It is a lot in there.

Ken: Yeah and I guess that’s how you approach. I heard someone say about content and give away 80 percent. But a lot of people I feel just give you 20 percent but those you have to pay for. The purpose of my newsletter to sell memberships is not just to be a nice guy but yes developing the whole online platform and it was the early days for me and I had to learn bit about the text side but even then you know it was to find the right people who can help you with all of that. Get them to do the work for you. Having to learn how to be an I.T. guy if that’s not really.

Mel: Well it is a slow task if we are taking all of those things. Well now let’s talk about that then. So your advice I do love to know for business owners and management that are in the hospitality industry, what would you say they should be spending majority of their time on so they shouldn’t be doing those sort of I guess low value activities.

Ken: Yeah they shouldn’t be cleaning dirty tables and occasionally been seen as the presence you always know who owns the business and people really like that but it is organizing the team and it like making the life therein kitchen more efficient having that weekly sit down meeting Tuesday morning or whenever it is with the managers or chef or whatever. I think that the keeping things efficient and organize and focusing on the marketing and promotions and being clever. But even then trying to delegate as much as possible of the routine work. Then get bought down in if you are not good at say you want to do monthly email newsletter which I really recommend for any hospitality operators. If you are not really writing that, there is a lot of people who can put that together really easy. But you have a look at you know a dozen newsletters you like and workout what the format is. Don’t just say the sell thing newsletter. Your job is to set the format and I think one of thing to the really successful operator does is always watching the numbers whether that is the steady sales, email open rate. Facebook insights. That’s where you should be spending your time and that is bit of challenge for some operators. It is a muscle we need to develop to be successful in business.

Mel: Oh absolutely and these sort of businesses then money can be going out very quickly.

Ken: If you are watching those wage costs and food costs of weekly basis it is just going to blow up hah.

Mel: Yeah maybe looking at it weekly and making sure you are tapping back in same time every week. That sort of thing you thinking?

Ken: And also delegating helpers. Now I met a woman at restaurant meeting a few months ago and she has a restaurant in Greece and she works her tail off half the year and then they close which is the usual stall over there but she has done got the VA virtual assistance in the Philippines that is doing the bookkeeping, the wages, doing all the Facebook monitoring and getting images ready for that. A lot of very routine stuff. I love that.

Mel: Really just making sure that you allocate that time to be able to create that process and then hand it over and you can monitor that for a period of time right.

Ken: Keep an eye on it and find some you can afford because often specially in Australia people say I like to do that but do you know how much bookkeeper cost? That’s where it is so great if you can look offshore to places that where the skills are there but it is affordable and that’s definitely something that is very early days for a lot of hospitality operators to look at. But I love it when I hear that’s happening. It means they are getting a lot of that routine work which takes up your time.

Mel: Okay well let’s talk about what we should be spending our money on in terms of marketing’s. Are you suggesting social media is the great to be place to be spending our money because I know that ads cost are extremely high earlier. No clear return on investment. We can track things a little bit more now. But what are your thoughts?

Ken: Well I think the monthly newsletter, email marketing is the diesel engine of marketing. I love that description because it is strong and just keeps on. So we are list building. We are getting e-mails, we getting people mobile phone number so we can text them appropriately. Just when there is something good happening. The targeted marketing is possible with Facebook ads now is so fantastic. You are targeted interested groups. Like you can target country music people for country music entertainment and that’s where I think if you can be building your Facebook following and likes, the more you do that you can then be targeting people within 5k who aren’t even into. So I think that social media ads and there specialist, like we are talking about before you want to learn the territory as much as you can but don’t get bulked down the rabbit hole because it is time consuming.

Mel: Yeah and look there is plenty of information out there just on Facebook right.

Ken: Yeah just do Google search or YouTube search you can find all sorts of stuff there.

Mel: Excellent. Okay so let’s talk about retention marketing. So if were to break the two down and we need customers as well as the ones we got. Would you give a bit of break down on how we should be spending our money in terms of one way or the other?

Ken: Yeah so I guess we list build the list of customers as well. That’s where email and the mobile number is so important so appropriately we send out. We know someone really loves those jazz afternoons with cocktails. Just send them a text when that’s coming up but if they like that and they said about your little information. Don’t text about them about the footy thing. I personally don’t like gambling and I kept getting stuff like that. That is like spamming me not sending me what I am interested in. So just on the retention thing I think just keep close to people. Polite interesting way and don’t just like blast them with how great we are, and in a sense it is demanding that we keep doing interesting things too you know if it is fair the business or it is genuinely a chocolate festival or thing like that but if you never have gone to a food festival, make it out. We want to try to bring people more little more often and remind them. People forget that you exist because there is so much promotion bombarding us all the time isn't it?

Mel: Yeah and you want to be able to if emails are coming in and as they do, there is so many maybe not getting open. We have got that cut through that means we are not having that value.

Ken: Learn more about email marketing. You know how to do a subject line that is actually going to get opened.

Mel: Absolutely and not push some valuable stuff in there. Considered to be on.

Ken: One thing we small people would do is just talk about what is happening in the community because most café are actually quite community focused. But why don’t you tell us about that?

Mel: Yeah it is just so many opportunities right that perhaps people just not thinking about and them really just out within arm’s reach.

Ken: Yeah I think that you and I cause we do this sort of podcasting. We could have sharpen our journalist skills and that’s I get frustrated when I see people missing these journalistic kind of opportunities. I don’t see the stories and all these things but it is okay I have been developing these skills for you know quite a while and if you haven’t got it but track down someone who does because boy there is lots of journalist who need work hah. They might be the one who are just doing couple of Facebook short stories each week and keeping that newsletter along.

Mel: And it is has to be consistent too right. Now let’s talk about what you do for your clients. The businesses that you worked with. You do social media training. You do cost cutting training. What else do you do?

Ken: So I find it is interesting. I like to help people grow business. I am never happy when I am talking about sales improvement and this and new strategies for getting people back more often. But you know most of the biggest click through of my e-mail and the biggest clicks on my Facebook post is all about bad staff and had to fix that problem and that’s just nature of the industry. People they suddenly freak out. They costed some recipe and they like oh my God. So that’s where they reach for and the whole thing about staff and recruitment and the right staff and keeping people, it is a massive industry. So that’s the stuff I know and I love to keep, I love helping people grow business and this stuff is what most people want.

Mel: Yeah excellent. Do you have any stories that you can share with us that tells what people have done that have allowed them to save themselves money and to know it is like that.

Ken: One thing that I have done quite a few times with people is help them put together. I called it dashboard. Just a one page of the figures from last week. Nice and simple. In the business a lot of people who listen to your podcast and hospitality people, it is kind of getting into the detail of how people spend, what the cost and wages are and just maybe there is about six or eight key figures on what is happening with staff and now we got the basis to sit down with management people and they might be your partner and one other person. We got the truth in front of us and I have done that over and over again help them drag those figures off the point of sale or out of the bookkeeping because they are usually all over place. People haven’t got that in simple way. So that’s something I really like doing and I have seen that plus just getting people to cost recipe. Just dramatic improvements when people. The figure in there, you cannot walk away from this because I have just shown you that you cannot UNsee that hah.

Mel: That’s right so nice snapshots to know where you stand and what time you can then tweak things for the weeks going.

Ken: This week with last week and this month with same last year.

Mel: Excellent. We have talked about being able to contact your customers through email or SMS. What else do you suggest in terms of how we can be more centric to our customers so that we can ensure that they come back and they refer other people to us as well.

Ken: So I think if we can build in some more touches in the experience. Like sitting having breakfast for half an hour café but not in 2 hours at the restaurant at some point but just build in staff to getting closed to them. One of them that are so easy to do is topping up the water glass and that’s where I don’t really like these bottle water pumped on the table. They got those when they were last washed out. But put the glasses there, fill them up and then go back and fill them. Because these nearby you say oh I need a knife or can I have another coffee or some people ask. So I think that and just little bit of conversation openers like we are talking to people before. She always say to people apparently if you come fast hah, it is an easy way isn't it? I have this on shops. Whatever it is, it is your first time here and if it is not, that doesn’t matter. You still start off the conversation you know. Just I think that is if you can just have a few little script and few little movement that people have to see, there is a great café in Newcastle but I know and their owner has lots of very nice school guys and girls who work there. Young kids but he trains them you know. If taken the order then you remove the napkin. Everyone else knows that the order is been taken because that’s the annoying thing isn't it? No we haven’t because we haven’t got a menu yet.

Mel: All those non-verbal are great yeah. That’s their process.

Ken: Yeah he set up a few ones right there. So just I mean I know now because he has told me but it is invisible to the customer but the experience to them is well just efficient, nice and happy place and of course flyover is great too. That’s pretty important.

Mel: Yes it is definitely. So that’s actually mean sitting down with your people and actually having a conversation around okay how can we have this much more streamlines. How can we avoid doubling up? How can we avoid these things that might not seem like a big deal to many people and never voice any problems with someone coming up and asking again? Because it is used to so it is a non-issue. But it is really about streamlining it and making and separating yourself from the competition isn't it? By these multiple settled things.

Ken: Yes absolutely and just your staff know that every single one of them know something that could be more efficient or someway you can cut your cost or make some savings. It is just where listening and you are making an opening for them to tell you. My doors always open for DYDs.

Mel: Yeah that’s right and sometimes I think as an owner you can try to be collaborative but it doesn’t always work in certain situations. You got to really change the way you are operating so that they do feel comfortable to do that and I think the buy-ins are much higher.

Ken: I think the internal communication in café and restaurants, lots of businesses do it. When they are to create more channels and that’s where I love it when a business has a private Facebook group just for their staff. People can chit chat and talk about things and communication channel you know. Most people will watch it then only a minority say things but everyone watches what is going on. That plus texting to your staff I think is very important you know routine texting.

Mel: Okay that’s really interesting. So even small business creating your own Facebook groups so you can back and forth.

Ken: And set up an account with group texting provider. Like one that’s another operator I work with and he is a guy that’s always funny with his management quotes. Just inspirational things. Every Monday you know Dan quote goes out. Text to the staff okay and they will sort of and it is funny I have been there when they all go out suddenly everyone phone goes ding hah. Plus there is shift change or there is a communication that way because somehow in that conversation you just got to remember that mobile phones that little thing in the pocket is got to be the basis of so much management and communication that we do. Talk about with the customers but also with our staff you know that’s most of them don’t have a PC or laptop hah.

Mel: Yeah and that’s how we are going to reach each other easily through that social media channels because not everyone is tapping into their e-mail as regularly at least as they are into those platforms. That’s great little tip Ken.

Ken: Absolutely you know you need to be texting staff with updates and all those sort of things and more with when I run longer term customer service training with groups sold and I got to go in and do the quiz and know it is no optional. Everyone has to answer the quizzes just like 5 simple questions based on the lesson we did today which was about maybe bankrupt servicing or something like that and but you know you are getting them. There is an app called Survey Monkey. Just put question up and their name in and then press and you can check down it and this sort of thing.

Mel: Yeah that’s great. Good opportunities to get that insight there where you don’t have to call staff meeting either. You gotta have it done by this day or whatever. I like that. Can I talk to you about online reputation because I know for a lot of businesses with those platforms like tripadvisor and bemata it is called now, what is your thoughts on those platforms and what can we do to protect ourselves.

Ken: Everyone who says anything, you need to respond to and I look at the Facebook pages and you look down the left hand side which is where the comments and the reviews are and most times, the comments are positive. People 5 stars and Facebook puts the good ones at the top but they say nice things and you know no one ever says thank you. We got to go on and first of all thank those people. Hey thanks Mel that’s really awesome I will pass it onto the team and sometimes it’s like oh my god they are complaining about that, thanks for letting us know Mel, really wasn’t a great night. Appreciate to get you back to us if you want to talk in more. We actually want to get some of that conversation offline so maybe there is a phone number. I think first off we got respond and monitor and that’s something that someone else might be doing the monitoring for you but I like watching social media but it is very easy to be too busy to do that but your assistant might be doing it and yeah I was looking at personal meal provider the other day and I just did google search hand I found that business and there was google listing and I clicked on that and there was a google star rating and I clicked on it and you know there is about 10 five star reviews “love the product” and there is one review one star “oh this place is a ripper arha” and the women who is the owner of the business, you can do she was claiming the listing went to there and said this is a real mystery to me your name is not on our database and I understand if this is a false review or if you got a genuine problem please contact me whatever. I mean that is a textbook reader respond to it. But you know tell the truth and say please contact me here is my name, here is my phone number because I don’t know the situation but I will look over oh these people they are watching and keeping the eye on this.

Mel: Yes absolutely tapping in and making sure.

Ken: You know tripadvisor is such a massive thing for food service I mean we all use it for when we travel and look at hotel reviews but restaurants and things especially in Australia people don’t seem to click. There is massive number of reviews there and again you got to go on and respond.

Mel: Yeah absolutely and I think you said something right at the beginning around replying and saying thank you and I think about let’s say you got a five reviews and excellent one that are not I mean just by replying and saying and make sure I will pass it on having different response to each one of those positive ones. But that already amps up your ten positive comments to your one negative and as long as you are still responding to the negative. It is just still you know it is definitely positioning.

Ken: And devastated by those negative ones and look we all give a fix to this industry. We only have good resignations of good for some reasons and you pick yourself up okay tough it up. We all and the whole online space is whole lot new hard difficulty there.

Mel: I got to tell you I remember getting our first negative online and I just couldn’t believe it because genuinely devastated because that’s just not what we are trying to deliver and so then I did realize you know get yourself together, get use to this. This is what happens and you need to manage it and I mean the best thing I ever did start doing was replying just like anything. I think that book is called eat the frog and did the stuff you don’t like and on top of it sort it out, investigate and sort it out because it is just going to be so much better on the other side.

Ken: Social media is just so much fuller now.

Mel: Yeah now before we finish up I want to know what can we doing in the space to increase our recommendations and referrals, do you have any tip because this is more cost effective way of reaching.

Ken: So would you mind going onto Facebook.

Mel: Yeah.

Ken: Well I think first up we should ask is it another good things happening in Queensland up down in the gold coast at Italian restaurant up there Also, they do a great job and young guy there sitting and I say you liked us on Facebook and I said yeah and then said you know how to do it don’t you? I said yeah anyway. It was just exactly the amount of pressure. But he wanted me to connect because when you do that, then it is saying you want to review and so I think ask and I see a little bit of places that put the sticker on or they put on the menu cover up that on the other day and please go onto trip advisor and leave us a review. Now what people too scared to do that but most times probably going to leave nice reviews hah so I think definitely reach out also here is one I wish more people would do. I am in Instagram fan. I like twitter as well and both of them use hashtags now. What is your hash tag? Now my business used to be all troop out so if I go to there it is hashtag #cafetropout and I would be having that on the wall and on the menu whatever because some people say what is a hashtag but a lot of people know what it is. They text in and their Instagram or whatever. They use it and this way you can get back to those people and say oh hi Mel thanks for coming in I love your picture and could also check location in Instagram of people who checked in and say hi to them as well that is just around those social media channels but I think it is just ask and speak up.

Mel: Yeah fantastic. Now I am just thinking about that too. I have seen in some instances people on Facebook businesses who are very keen to up their presence on social media actually incentivizing people to put a photograph up or use a particular hashtag.

Ken: Yeah you got to like freebee next time you get into that stuff. I think it is a bit of an expensive way to get a like I mean if you want to do that, and build I mean there is campaigns in Facebook just to increase number of likes. You can do that and that’s going to cost maybe 50 cents a like or something or maybe even less. But yeah I think sometimes those things are bit lackey. I mean I am not person who kept the bar in say oh where is my mobile I told you about the freebee. That’s not me.

Mel: And I think that’s about knowing your market and whether that’s something that you think is going to be valuable for you and something that they think is miring your image.

Ken: Yeah.

Mel: Alright now Ken we could talk for hours, you got so much things to share more. We will definitely look at having you back on the show again because I do love to talk about cost cutting a little bit more. I love to talk about the new concepts and new ways we could be optimizing but there is so much information on your website. Can you tell us where people can follow you and find you?

Ken: Sure. So my main website is profitablehospitality.com and you can jump on weekly newsletter that is free there. There is a good cost control guide that you can download for free and Facebook.com/profitable hospitality and we post a lot of information and a lot of our articles go there twice a day and Instagram profitable hospitality. I probably do like a day or two. That’s down for me hah.

Mel: Yeah that’s good. When is the best time for Instagram for you?

Ken: Well I am not sure. I know Facebook is 9 O'Clock in the morning and in night and so I think Instagram will be similar, have you got steps on that?

Mel: No I am just playing around with Instagram myself and I am finding 9 PM is a good time in terms of engagement.

Ken: We talked about developing journalists. I think that’s just a great way people develop your photography skills too. That’s another conversation.

Mel: It is too absolutely. Great to have you on Ken. Thanks so much for giving us your time. It has been fantastic. Really appreciate it.

That’s a wrap with Ken Burgin. Fantastic ideas and now I really like the Facebook group page being able to interact with staff, send some inspirational motivational things. Allow to be collaborative I think is really valuable amongst other fantastic tips there that can provide it. If you haven’t already please head onto the iTunes page and leave us a review or rating for our show. If you found our show interesting and valuable then we do love you to give us a rating. So we can be able to reach more people like yourself. Drop us a review, a quick 5 star rating or you can leave a full detailed review.

Further to that we would love to hear from you. I would love to hear from you. I am not kidding. It is one person here behind the mic not the whole crew and I would like to know what it is that you want answered. What are the big problems in your business that you need solved so that we can go about finding the right people, the experts who would be able to get those answers for you so you can make that extra change on your business. You can do that by sending me an e-mail. Mel@customercentriccoach.com. I would love to hear from you, that’s Mel@customercentirccoach.com. Thanks for tuning in and we will see you next week.


Thanks for listening to the customer centric show. For additional smart ways to attract more customers, profits and freedom head on over to the website www.customercentricshow.com.

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55. Business Growth Essentials With Kevin Gammie

55. Business Growth Essentials With Kevin Gammie

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with Mel Telecican (Customer-Centric Coach)

Episode 55. Business Growth Essentials With Kevin Gammie

Hi there Mel Telecican here, I wanted to say before we start a very big thank you for those of you listening and a very big thank you to my fantastic guests as well. We are not up to episode 55 which is pretty exciting. Started back in June last year and now we are averaging anything between 900 and a 1000 listeners within a week of publishing an episode and that doesn’t happen easily. It happens because people choose to share their wisdom with other business owners and with that I am really grateful and I am sure you listeners are and I am sure also our audience. So I am very grateful for you tuning in and I guess we are making that step and taking the time out to listen and be thinking about your business in a different way and listening to different perspectives based on people specialties whether that be strategy web content, leadership productivity or the different angles that we come at from on the show because the customer centric show is more than just talking about customer service, it is about looking all angles. So thank you to my listeners and thank you to our fantastic guests as well. I wanted to quickly mention something that people ask me pretty regularly if I am going to networking events they often ask me what I do and I tell them I have a podcast and their next question is oh really okay what is it that you do that for and truthfully the reason why I do it is because I love learning from other people and I made the mistake of starting my restaurant business going into it with lots of energy and heart and prepared to go ends with it to get stuff done and I realized that we need to be constantly learning from others. The world is changing. The customer needs and desired are changing and we really need to be on top of what is out there and what is working right now and book are fantastic and I have got plans to write a book. I guess the best thing about podcasts is that you get really up to date information that’s working for people in their businesses right now or they are helping other people do this in their businesses right now. These are recent successes. These are things working in the market as we sort of speak. So like I said I am very fortunate to be meeting with people who are super passionate about what they do. They got legitimate excellent results and they come highly recommended and I investigate them thoroughly to make sure that they are worthy of being on the show because the worst thing I would imagine is that we would be bringing information that’s false or blown up to be something that it is actually not and so I work really hard to make sure that it doesn’t happened and so you are getting really valuable information that’s actually going to do something for your business so thanks for tuning in I really appreciate it. Hope you enjoy this episode with Kevin. Let’s get into it.


You are listening to the customer centric show with Mel Telecican where we talk with successful business owners and experts to share smart ways to attract more customers, profits and freedom by thinking about customers first. Now, here is your host Mel Telecican.

Mel: My guest on the show today is Kevin Gammie because I have seen him as an advocate for small business. He has built an active community of business owners who come together to ask questions, promote their business and to help each other too. But it wasn’t always like this. Originally he was an accountant, consulting salesman and state manager in fortune 500 business as well as small and midsize organizations but he started his first small business in 1999. Like many others the GFC though nearly wiped him out and so with 15 people on the books, 15 staff and losses in 2009 and 2010 set him reeling so he discovered at that time that small business owners were receiving consulting support that was much more suited for big business that is just been re-packaged for small business. It didn’t suit small business so he sat out to create a better service to help small business owners. So growth mentors became a reality and since its inception has helped grow many small businesses. Today we are going to learn about many of those successes. We are meeting together face to face at Kevin’s office. So hope you enjoy the show let’s get into it. Thanks for joining me. Good to have you on the show.

Kevin: Thanks for having me.

Mel: We always start out show by talking about example of a customer centric business. What is yours Kevin?

Kevin: In reality I don’t think the demise of masters is anything rather un-expected because at the end of the day earning just helps customers service because you go in they have what they are looking for, if they don’t then they don’t get in. I recently was at Walmart and we got a smallest patch of grass in the road so we just wanted battery of that from Walmart. So we found one and it bit of tired us as well I found one that was in the package and it was a promotional item out at my local store. They were just waiting and patiently asking the right questions until they started calling out the other stores to find one. The next day they called me out to let me know it was there and also to be able to come and pick it out. The story doesn’t end here though. I managed to somehow in assemble, so I took the model back. They didn’t question me about how on earth that useless and not able to do that. They just said hey lets replace that with just long one and I said really? They just look what it will do is that but also the whole time they were focused on how we can help. It wasn’t no we cannot and go away but many times I had similar things and I am not best man in the world so the things I do is first and they were very helpful, patient and when it comes to service it is fantastic. The product knowledge of their people was great and that was one of the main challenges with masters is that the people were walking in and those were the habit of just not know what talking about if they could find them.

Mel: I have to say I experienced exactly the same. We are having to return things after Christmas but the wrong set of lights. There was no questions about it and yes sure go get if you need and get the credit and it made it really easy for me and I guess that’s the nature of their business too. They are such a large business. They are going to have people in every shape and size in terms of mobility or not and so they are obviously been brief but that’s how they do it minimize friction and get people back again.

Kevin: And nothing to hassle. That’s what we love about it. Like so often when there is a problem with customer experience, it become tense and hassle. Other than that that’s a different approach and not hassle and we help you with that.

Mel: Good stuff. Which store was it?

Kevin: The one over Debian but also we go Stafelado.

Mel: Yeah okay great. Thanks for sharing that. Now I am sort of giving the intro into the difficult time you experienced having all the recruitment and there is decent glory days before that.

Kevin: Yeah a lot of fun as well.

Mel: Yeah so in 2009 impact was being felt couple of years after the states really started shaking and that was the difficult time and yeah talk us through that story.

Kevin: Sure. With the financial crisis we haven’t had anything like that really since 30s. We had few downtowns but wasn’t on the global scale and everybody felt that we would be resilient and it would bounce and we had 15 staff going into the financial crisis. One thing that happens when that occurred is people stopped recruiting. So when you got 15 staff and large office sitting around the Queens Street Mall in Brisbane which is up there in the most expensive real estate in the country. It doesn’t really help. So you try to make that and we made huge losses and we held onto the staff way too long and we made a lot of mistakes and we do learn from the mistakes. That’s the good thing. The wash up was that we did have to eventually let go all the staff and re-build the business and in re-building the business we focused more on the accounting market believing that with different taxes accountants would make accountants. Unfortunately what happened over the re-build of their businesses, they off shored a lot of their work and so there wasn’t the bounce in that market that we expected, three years after the financial crisis seeing there and looking at the business we now had and I couldn’t see a role that I wanted to have in that particular business. We tried working with some business coaches and they were also business coaches in different situations and maybe I was a tough student. But the end result was the models were doing and creating more work that were potentially focused on long term when we were in survival mode. When you are looking at the different levels of maturity at a very basic level, you need survival mode. You need your next meal and that’s kind of where we were. We needed not to get out of survival mode and move up to a higher level of thinking but we needed to survive and all the models were being fed to us and all the things we are doing. We are giving us more work to do to staff that would pay off further down the track without filling jobs right now and it was then that I realized that the coaches were doing it and it didn’t understand the dilemma that we had and didn’t explain that well enough or didn’t have the models to help us and that’s when I wanted to create something to help business owners help themselves.

Mel: I have spoken to people who have create things out of their own personal experiences because I know especially when they can see that there is a market for it because there are others experiencing that same issues so are you saying that all of what you do is more short term or is that part of what you do?

Kevin: No I have worked with clients that are in-term plans and very much what I do is I help people get program I developed and it really helps people focus on their clients and bring a real center point of the fact that your business is huge so is your client’s needs and it really is about when you are building the business be focused on what your customers are looking for and if you do that you have got the basis of very strong business into the future.

Mel: Talking to lots of business coaches often their realization is there are lots of people believe that they know what their customers need. More perceived than accurate. Do you share that feeling?

Kevin: I think very few and small business owners are doing most things right and they are not far off but they just haven’t got that last piece of the puzzle and with that they are constantly frustrated with not achieving the results they are looking for. They are not sure exactly what they are trying to build which is pretty much I want to get away from not getting the results and try to improve your results that way. The challenge is that just like when you think of an animal you attack, it will run away far enough to feel safe and when it feel safe it will go back to see what the commercial is really about and goes back into danger and unfortunately business owners keep doing the same thing a lot of times.

Mel: So more reactive instead of pro-active is that what you getting at?

Kevin: Well I get people to have stake in the ground and say look this is where the business is going to go and this is how big we are going to be. I found small businesses can be very successful and somewhere between 30 and a 100 clients and they don’t really need any more than that if they choose the right ones. A lot of them survive and do very well and they fewer than that. A lot of focus on marketing sometimes is we just try to get our message out there and in essence you feel like you competing with the McDonalds of the world who want to just get their main message across everywhere. If you are looking for let’s say 50 clients then you don’t need that same marketing campaign. You can a lot more targeted what you doing but identifying who your customer really is and don’t be scared to keep right down to go this is exactly what my customer looks like. They are 38 years old. They run a small business. They are turning over half million dollars and they are looking to grow. That’s more typical avatar. There is a lot more to it but I can actually tell you their age. That way when they are marketing I can speak to that person.

Mel: Okay so you know where they are going to be and you use your time and you know what social media channels potentially going to be using all sort of stuff. So the business is the types of businesses that you usually work with are service based business aren’t they? And it is also the experience right the space that you come from. Okay great so there are a lot of people who are helping business in the service space. So what is it that you think differentiates you from other business coaches and other people with their fantastic courses, what is your differentiate? Do you mind sharing with me some more information that way?

Kevin: Sure. Because of my past experience I am finding out that there wasn’t anything specifically designed for small business owners so stuff that my previous coaches were delivering to me was combination of either life coaching thing and focusing just on me and I needed that or they were trying to get big business coaching models and bring them down. The challenge there was we didn’t have a big confident of staff so what I do rather than that is I help people identify exactly what they are trying to achieve so that we can start working out who they need to be to achieve that. When I say that we get really first awareness which is our first step. We utilize emotional intelligence in it so the same platform with emotional intelligence of becoming self-aware first and then becoming self-disciplined and then using social awareness to develop relationships. We put that into a business model. So we build a culture that is very aware of where the business is going. Part of that awareness is knowing exactly what we are trying to achieve and even if that’s 100,000 dollars great, if that’s a million dollars that’s also great but then once we also have time that they know exactly what they wanted to do to build that. We really get to find on the time and we really drill then down into who is it that you are trying to serve because when you know who you are trying to serve, you can be far more in marketing message but also you can change your strategies around your service levels to make sure that you are delivering in a way that is appealing to them and so by understanding who you are trying to picture your ideal is, then you can be far more precise in what you are trying to do for them. Once we have got that, we look our values they are looking for and rather than having personal businesses. those that do go out and decide the values they can have in business, they go for value they want to have in business. Instead of doing that we look at what values are your clients looking to or looking for a business that is like that. now you need to be authentic here. You cannot go and pick a series of those and go I am going to pretend to be those things. You have to have values that you are truly aligned with. So once we have got the awareness factor we then start moving on to the self-discipline and we create a character for the business that it can be and with that a series of standards to which it all go itself too. That way as your business grows, you actually being employing on the values but you will be operating as that particular character. You want to be consistent for your clients.

Mel: Can I ask a little bit more around businesses and character. So I heard one of my guest referred to that, they like to see their business as a genial. So friendly fun, bit of energy, that’s the thing and it sort of go through the rest of the staff. Is that the sort of thing that you are talking about?

Kevin: Yeah in a sense. It is a little bit more complex because we built tha character out of the values and so with that we come up with the number of different characteristics that the business needs to be and with those characteristics sort of come directly out of the values, we formulate an ideal stall person and it will be combination of ritual Steve Jobs and it could even be hey you like doctor people. So what part of their character related to value that stands out and then we have an outcome of those different characteristics that will become the character of business. So we just don’t become personal it is a bit more complicated than that.

Mel: Sure okay. So is there any example without business names that you can give up for us a little process you went through in establishing that?

Kevin: Well I have gone through a number and they have come from IT sectors. I have helped people around recruitment businesses completely changed the model of what they were doing after going through the process and that was discovery and awareness phase of what they are trying to achieve so different levels.

Mel: Okay so it doesn’t necessarily have to just personify one that can have the elements of the others based on the different values that you are looking to your people to the wider public.

Kevin: Yeah and I generally encourage all business to have between 5 or 7 values and so the character will be based on 5 to 7 different characteristics and the more imaginative, the client gets the more I can draw that out, the more fun we have with the end character of the business. Ultimately what we do once we have moved beyond the discipline phase we go into social awareness. We then start creating some benchmarks around those different characteristics. So we credit benchmark for each value that we have and this is how the business operates. The social awareness part of measuring and monitoring and making sure that we are upholding that and we are getting results we are looking and if not we go back re-work what they need to do.

Mel: So social awareness is what the market can say about you is that what you mean? In terms of how people perceive you and whether your message is being portrayed well.

Kevin: No it is in-action. So it is about advocacy which is really about effective efficiency. There is no point just being efficient because you could be doing the wrong thing. I know you are doing ways getting further away where you really trying to go. Unfortunately many small businesses find themselves being really efficient in what they do but they are not delivering in what their clients ultimately desire and so that leads to a lot of frustration. So what we do is through not just building that efficiency but building effectiveness that we are doing when our clients want us to do and whether that’s in marketing and we are attracting the right people and whether that’s delivery and the message that we are putting across as we are delivering that service. We keep measuring those different things. We are looking at things like loyalty. We are looking at referrals. We looking also that can we beat the average, beat the industry, beat the course of service we are delivering.

Mel: Okay so it starts off with the values then do up into the character and then into the social awareness is that right?

Kevin: Yeah so we are measuring other things that we are doing in-effective and then if we are doing that then we will know exactly what we need to do to achieve our starting point because the vision of business we get people to be sequel in that rather than picture them in the possible to say let's put the stake in the ground, lets achieve this so then at the end we are looking at and created some benchmarks and milestones we can go great. So how many of each of these do we need to get what we are achieving. As we get close to that vision people quite often get step up it up and out and go from higher vision. In reality you don’t have to have that vision of where you are going at the end point right from the very start. You can only see the horizon so I encourage people okay so pick the point on the horizon of what we are trying to get to and then build from there.

Mel: Okay great. So what I see is there is a lot of people who understand that they need to create these or to be able to identify what those goals are in the short term rather than big picture. But what is it that is the obstacle for them being able to do it themselves and say the benefit of bringing someone in like yourself to be able to persistent that process because sometimes it appears is as though we can definitely do it ourselves. What would you say is the reason that people do have more effectiveness with the coach onboard?

Kevin: Well it is funny because when I think of any sporting team, then need a coach and even if anyone playing tennis or any other sport and even if they are ranked 200 in the world, we would expect that person has a coach because that’s their livelihood and when it comes to our business with a lot of people then start thinking that only people in trouble need a coach or a mentor instead of thinking hey this is our livelihood and somebody with a first set of advice who can help us I know that I did lots of really dumb stuff throughout the month and I catch up with my mentor every month and I make sure we chat about what stand and he will give me some things to do, he will make sure that I have done that next time we caught up and then we talk about different stuff so we got someone who can reflect back and help hold that mirror up and shine on some of those things and sometimes sit there and go oh I see that was so obvious and it is just the time and space and unfortunately we get busy being busy sometimes rather than busy doing things that we really need to accomplish.

Mel: Great okay now I know you have mentioned to me some case studies of business that you have been able to get off the ground using this methodology. Have we gone through the bulk up methodology so far or we step into it bit further?

Kevin: That’s really about creating really sharp awareness and focus of what we are trying to attain and understanding the gaps of where we are today to what that is. Once we have got that, it isn't about building that self-discipline of getting that what do we need to actually get there and the final part is that social awareness and that advocacy of understanding okay so we are going to act in certain way. We are going to do those different things. What is working for us and what is not and have that social awareness? Go back and fix the things that are on and that’s really our relationship management and that’s really part of social awareness.

Mel: Great. If you can give us some examples of how you have helped some of those businesses. I guess the realization that they had is feedback to you too.

Kevin: A lot of this around we hope some businesses identify different programs and services that are very closely aligned to what they are already doing that they would just ignore in and that’s become a huge bonus for them. One of my clients in recruitment we helped them. A couple of clients have been asking about particular offering in relation to helping them ultimately manage some staff for them and first though thinking that’s client of a new sense and we realized there is some value in that and we through some explanation we created within 3 weeks a pilot and through talking to half a dozen key clients my recruiter had developed a product that is already earning 75000 dollars a year for her. So that will probably end up being more consistent and generating more revenue than her recruitment practice. The trust she is able to get from that is enabled this other product.

Mel: Yeah and it is still changing again. Recruitment is more competitive I guess than ever now. So for them to have another revenue stream is going to be essential.

Kevin: And far more stable. Recruitment is typically not a very stable thing. You can be competing with a lot of other recruiters on a particular job. You do get paid a good fee when you win a job but you can be competing against a lot of other people.

Mel: So definitely that area of business have to be on their toes because then it is constantly changing and highly competitive. So I want to ask you customer experience. Customer experience is a bit of a buzzword at the moment. It is very valuable and I want to know what your perspective of it. What do you see your customer experience as?

Kevin: Delivery actually have nothing to do with customer experience. Customer experience is how your customer feels from what they have experienced. So from that perspective that’s where understanding specifically your ideal clients really kicks in because the more you understand your ideal client the more you relate to your ideal client the greater appreciation you are going to have of typically of what they should feel from the experience or service you delivered and if there is something that comes back then you should be more tuned to that and that will help you advance and keep improving of what you are delivering. If there is a mistake in the process that led to less consistency and how you are delivering that.

Mel: Yeah that makes sense. So do you have any tips of how people can monitor this successive of what they are doing or delivering their product?

Kevin: Yeah it is around creating the right benchmarks so if you know even if it was just in your sales process, if you know it typically takes so many either ads to convert a client or so many coffee meeting to convert a client and at the end of each one sitting back and reviewing what you have done and having that awareness that okay I understand why this went well and I can understand why this didn’t go well I left this part of the process out.

Mel: So that reflection is really important isn't it? And tracking like you said the amount of time given what you could be doing to optimize a conversation so that still is not pushy but it still has the outcome you are looking to achieve so you can continually improve it.

Kevin: Absolutely and it could even be that you have may notice that you have seen down having a lot of coffee with people who aren’t ready for you at this point in time and that will help you tight mark the market that you are looking to have coffee with and the more that we know we are wanting to have coffee with the more we just tend to run into them.

Mel: Yeah I think you absolutely carefully have to be thinking about that and it might be networking events that you are going to and perhaps a trial in error right because it might not have the success initially that you are looking to achieve. Doesn’t mean write it off straight away.

Kevin: Absolutely I promise you my advertisement changed dramatically over last three years in relation to doing what I do. I am very passionate about helping small business and I do that though the small business community. At the same time not everyone in the community is someone that I would ultimately is my ideal client. In fact a lot of those businesses are not at the stage of where they want to afford any coaching services. It means obviously we are looking to have coffee meetings that’s the staff needs to be people who can benefit from what I am looking for them to help up with.

Mel: Yeah just have to think the process through just to save yourself time and energy that we expect.

Kevin: At times limited. We get 168 hours a week. We got to fit it and our family and the new got to work.

Mel; Yeah great. So can you share with me some success stories in terms of that you helped facilitate in terms of client or client engagement?

Kevin: Yeah absolutely it was the recruit that we talked about. There is another client that I have been working with has developed a cloud based application. He helps people link up different cloud based solutions so they will work together through working with me over 6 month program. He was starting up and only was 3 months off when we first started doing that and he very quickly understood what he needed to do was develop a program that he can plug different systems into that would do the sorting automatically so that he didn’t have to go and re-program staff instantly. His experience was he has been all focused about his business. He knew what he wanted because his clients were coming to him. That was his big challenge that rather than having long lead time if we developed a right program right from the very start then he was able to be more effective and more efficient in dealing with these clients so he was really focused on the end result. Not knowing what question they are going to come to so we didn’t just become a specialist in I just hooked up these couple of package that could be much broader and therefore services his clients.

Mel: Hmm so really listening to what their issues and if there is a reputation in what those issues are then there is potentially another option for you in terms of product or service. Excellent now I know you have got a lot of experience in this space having been in recruitment but I do love to know what your suggestions are and what sort of input you have too for the business you work with as to how you should be selecting their team. I feel like I already know the answer. It is value based right.

Kevin: Absolutely and look I have made every mistake in the world in this one. I have recruited people who are really good at their job with no longer wanted to work in at that stage recruitment and the greater your job you surely just could be in the environment you are in and they come over and they will perform because they just didn’t enjoy the process and they didn’t get the buzz out of what they are doing. These days I talk to clients about half the value. Make sure that you understand what the values of business are so you can ask the right questions to see if the person you are interviewing shares those values because you can always train someone to do your job but if somebody doesn’t have the same value, you can’t train someone to have your values and so it is through giving them the right scenarios where they can display to you that they do share those values the ones that you have, the ones that we created for your ideal business before then it makes it really simple. The more time you spend in understanding what the values of those business are, the easier it is going to be. Do they fit those values or not. If they fit the values they will fit your team.

Mel: Right. So questioning is important isn't it? And I think talking to people and from my personal experience I would say that it is I know what I am looking to achieve but I haven’t really mapped out the questions correctly. So is that another case of trial and error in your approach? Do you look at the questions you are asking or do you bring someone into help you create that? What do you suggest?

Kevin: Absolutely and you don’t have to bring in a coach or mentor into this sort of thing. You need to be speaking to even your partner and say look this is what I am trying to get people to help. I was thinking I need to ask questions that were going to help them show and display significance in that so it is good to have mix of situations where they can draw from past experience but it is also good to give them and let them make something out from scratch. Don’t let them be overly theoretical in their answer but well placed off. Because in that situation they need to think on their feet. You are not going to do over with the client that’s on the front saying I got a problem. You need to solve that problem or potential lose your customer. So having a combination or roleplays asking experience how they would go. If they taking too long to answer questions, dig down and find out little bit more. Make sure that they are being honest in that situation. By the time you even employ someone you don’t get that chance again and you invest a lot of time and investment when somebody first comes along. Not just time in your training but that’s time you are taken away from doing your job. So that’s making the business slow down. So it is really critical.

Mel: So if you are not someone who is comfortable with role playing, you suggest that you put yourself in that position regardless because of the impact it can have just asking questions.

Kevin: Now earlier on we talked about building the character of the business in the recent workshop one of the people just started calling that character but with that and so in that stage when you are interviewing you need to be Bruce. You need to be that character you had for the company. You need to go what would Bruce do? What would he be looking for in someone? Even if you are not the employee of the business you still not the business. There was legal case back in 1996 and it was proven that person that gets two particular things and if a person doesn’t get from this particular show, that’s a great to get from that. because when a business is going great that’s fantastic. That’s because you set the right things in motion. But when the business is struggling it is because you haven’t set the right things in motion. It is not because you are a bad business person. It is not you, it is the things that you are doing quite right just yet.

Mel: So really comes into clarity and value. You really have to look at that, re-visit that and that way mapping everything out going forward because then when things do happen and life gets tough, the business gets tough so two separate things then you much more equipped to separate yourself.

Kevin: And it is much easier to turn a business around if you are not the business because when the time is tough you start to carry away the world on your shoulder but if businesses tough and you look out and go hey the business needs to change some stuff, you don’t have to carry that way. It really doesn’t mean you are not going to worry about. Financial challenges happen in business time to time and that sort of stuff but at the same time you can see that the business can change. So it is not a personal issue anymore.

Mel: Yeah good advice I think. That’s definitely really important. Now let’s talk about business freedom. Because you are talking there. We are having a chat about how if things go poorly. Let’s say things are going well but you can’t seem to get any time back like to be able to run business sometimes it can feel as though it is just a constant work and that’s just you are on the wheel and that’s how it rolls. So what is your suggestions for how we can allow ourselves more freedom?

Kevin: That’s a perfect time. You need to just stop for a second. Everyone has heard the same. It is about taking time to stop and look at how you are doing the right things and here is where actually understanding exactly what you are trying to achieve rather than just growing. Because you will know am I attracting more clients? Ami I attracting more business then you need to stop and know what is my ideal clients really looking and when you start doing that and you not just getting busy, you are looking for am I getting results on that desiring every process of the step. Recently did a Facebook campaign rather than going I didn’t get the desired result so I got people on my course not out of my Facebook campaign? Now a lot of people just go Facebook was broken, that marketer he was crap or whatever else. If you are going to be self-aware about it, you need to look at what part of the process is broken and break it down into what didn’t work this time rather than it doesn’t work and being frustrated with it. Break it into a process. So from that perspective you know I spoke to the marketer and he was helping me and he said look we got some really great engagement and from a fairly cross section people just didn’t click through the very end. So with that we know that we can still use that same lead magnet in the future time but we need to then build some extra steps in place to build the trust between myself and them and so they are happy to click through and come along to a program.

Mel: Excellent. It is about not throwing everything out but actually tweaking things having a look where the friction in the process and removing that and yeah excellent.

Kevin: Absolutely. So and taken that back to the whole business, if you got just a couple of key benchmarks that you have and not financial ones, let’s put that aside at the moment. But do you have the right customer loyalty. Are you getting results you are looking at in all different areas of your business? Then what you can do is you can continually become more effective and efficient at producing the result that you are trying to say. It is called advocacy. In my book there is a chapter and I was going to call it wtf advocacy because it is not something that we talk about. People always talk about being efficient and efficient isnt really great. You need to be more effective too.

Mel: So by doing that, that’s what going to allow you to have more freedom and step back and work on your business or just get away from it.

Kevin: Absolutely. One of the principles I have is life is all about balance and at the end of the day it is not about work like balance thing but it is about putting all things. You only got one life to live so you need to look after all the different components in your life. You need to put it together and it needs to work in harmony otherwise it is not going to work at all. You wouldn’t have a filling life unless you look after all the limits of your life.

Mel: And being able to share that and it is very easy to be able to focus on the business and ignore the others thinking that they will always be there and we know that’s not always the case. You mentioned loyalty before. What do you think is more important for service based businesses who you are working with? So obviously there is a component of needing new clients but what would you say? Do you have an opinion whether tension and accusation is more important?

Kevin: You need both. At some point in time if you have the most loyal clients in the world and something happen in their world they stop being the client and that time if you are relying on them being majority of your business and you live that then you going to put your business out at risk. What I am a great fan of is creating a sustainable business and a business that can basically operate long term without you. If you are looking for business that continue operation then you have asset to sell at the end of the day. Then you need to create the process and systems that are going to keep bringing people to you because things will happen to some of your clients. At that stage you need to have other people coming onboard and so out of the habit of bringing people onboard and servicing new clients then when you find yourself in that situation where you need new clients you all of a sudden know how to get new clients. So much longer and much complicated process. You can say hey for a moment I am not just looking for new clients. You may be able to find different ways where you can outsource some of that work.

Mel: Yeah but sometimes opportunity knock and it can be very hard to turn business away but if that means that things are going to fall apart in some capacity is important to say look I don’t. We cannot do it at this point to whoever. I cannot direct you to this or yeah just for your own piece of mind. You can consistently deliver what you need to. Now let’s talk about profitability, you got accountancy background so I do love your insight into which common areas business owners tend to miss when they are looking to do that? is there any obvious spots that you can see businesses overlook or is it looking for other product avenue like you are mentioning before with other client?

Kevin: It can be a bit of that. I actually think a lot of challenges that a lot of small business have is that we like imposter sometimes. The imposter syndrome is talking that in social media in different things at the moment. We kind of looking over shoulder and going hey where they are going to work out that? Better scenario is to have confidence and create process so that you can built the confidence so one of the things is that everything that you are great at today when you first doing you probably sucked at. Even when we started talking about this. You would try and that’s all think. It is a matter of doing the stuff that we don’t like. One of the things that I talk about with a lot of prospects is the full levels of thinking that really go to dramatic improvement and it is really continually adding those things to make you comfortable. They are not easy for you. If everything you do in a week you feel absolutely confident with that. People love the effect that you are trying new things you don’t like and your clients would appreciate the fact that you are trying to grow and that’s a sign that you are continually growing and evolving and doing.

Mel: Yeah I like that so you are giving yourself permission to try things and extend yourself. So when you do things like that do you suggest letting people knowing that? I know the IT area in tech development, that’s very clear on that. Does it transfer to other industry?

Kevin: Yeah. In what I do, when I run workshops initially, I still charge for the initial workshops but always give money back guarantee. What I do for the first one is I give a significant discount to come along do the workshop. Hey first time we are running it and with that instead of costing one over, it will cost a fraction of that. Hey if it is completely crap I will give you all your money back and I find that feedback is always ends up being quite good even if it may bad. Quite often people don’t notice the wonkiness of it. It is just you gotta suck, suck and succeed hah.

Mel: Yeah I like that it is great and that transparency is key to it isn't it, being clear on your intentions. This is what we are trying to achieve and if you don’t achieve it then this is what I would do to take care of that essentially.

Kevin: Yeah it is about being on the edge of comfort zone. Years ago when I bought little sports car there was Honda and he used to hire race track for us and when they are talking to us at the day look don’t drive at the very edge of your capability. If it comes 10% it doesn’t mean you keep your safe. It will keep your just little bit more alert so you are not sending your car off the race track.

Mel: Yeah but that’s a great analogy right. So write it off and keep it at the safety but extend yourself but otherwise where is the fun in it right?

Kevin: Absolutely.

Mel: Okay now let’s talk about reading business books. Have you read anything like that’s left you feeling inspired and ready to leap into action.

Kevin: Recently I was travelling and at there I picked up a book called emotional intelligence. It is by Traverse and Jean Graves and it is awesome. It is a book you could read in weekend. That actually give you a free emotional intelligence test at the end of it which actually then build strategies with how you can life your emotional intelligence. That being one of the key predictors to your success. Emotional intelligence is something that we can work on and we can constantly and it can go backwards. So it is one those things that gave you really practical advice on things to focus on and it just simplifies process. These guys have PhDs but they speak global people which is fantastic.

Mel: Yeah okay so emotional intelligence 2.0 fantastic. Tell us a little bit more about your book I know you have got coming out in coming months.

Kevin: Yes I have called it finding and crap line because I don’t like that doesn’t help at. But we can call that if it still work on progress. In relation to that it gives you process to work you through to create the awareness of what you are trying to achieve with your business to then select the values that you looking to select and then you can initial their right. So you actually go through the process to creating that awareness so you can then create platform of discipline that you can operate within your business. It helps you build the right culture. If you look at a lot of large business takes at the moment, it is all about culture is king and you got to improve your cultures. We talk about google but the big IT brands is taking over the world. It is a bit of a shame that people aren’t talking about what happens in normal business. Business that isn't internet based or mass market. That’s where structure is absolutely critical and even if it is just you, you need to uphold the culture that your business. You wouldn’t be able to get to that next stage so what we do is we build a framework for you to absolutely go and create that within your business and framework that you can then use to start creating the right systems and processes within your business. So it is really quite exciting development.

Mel: Yeah it is and I know better business that small business to be better positioned to actually crate that. It is so much easier on us more scale to be able to create workplace that you are looking to give out for the business.

Kevin: We can change the business in heartbeat. It really is consistency too and this is a process that help remind you build that consistency. Part of it is open and encourage people to do motivational post all around the values that they have and create those and leave that in front of them. So then they call themselves to account. I have been sitting in my kitchen because it is best feel of the house and so they are right in front of me all the time and so I catch myself hearing to the value I can give myself quick uppercut rather than just finding out that I am not setting clients.

Mel: Yes I like the idea of putting into your own language because clothes can be fantastic and they can resonate with us. It is going to be something that people corporate in your language more easily.

Kevin: Yeah and cool thing is that one of my clients and into the office and he said this one and I had cool and this is about exploring taking adventurous approach and exploring the unknown and he said it has got nothing to do with that Kevin. I said oh so I explained what I trying to get and he said what I just put is curiosity I said okay fantastic. Let’s get instant feedback as to that and then it get so hung up on things that you have created in the past. If it is not working then it is not working and so that was really good example of that.

Mel: Okay so the books coming up. Is there anything else that you are working on at the moment that you want to share with us? And also if you can give all your links where people can find and follow you?

Kevin: Sure. In data testing of workshops around my book hah. Basically we are doing 2 day kick start programs with that. So next month we are putting that together. We already run one and got fantastic feedback but that wasn’t feedback and stuff that we need to improve as well. So please look out for that. My website is gorwthandmentors.com.au and Brisbane small business which is great small community for small business owners that will encourage to get on there and share in information to help each other out. It is one that’s built on respect and inclusion so it doesn’t matter if you belong to minority group or not. A small business owners we are all together in that. So with that we encourage people to when they are promoting anything to make sure it is still inclusive. That you don’t exclude people and do stuff just for guys or girls or any other minorities.

Mel: Okay great so it is part of you incrementally creating expo and other things.

Kevin: Yeah there will be expo. Just working on couple of things to displace or stuff coming out from that.

Mel: Excellent we will share that on our Facebook. Kevin excellent talking to you today about what we need to be doing to make sure that we are on track in terms of values and insight into emotional values too because it is become prevalent and it is not going away. It is scientifically proven so it is been great chatting with you. We will have to tap back in when the book is out and the workshops are done.

Kevin: Absolutely thank you so much for the opportunity.

Mel: Well that was the interview with Kevin Gammie at his office growth mentors and after that interview I went back and had a look at my ideal customers and business avatar and they definitely needed a re-work and I think that was probably because I made them a good year ago and they do need to be something that you re-visit I think. Especially if you are not 100% confident on what they are so thanks to Kevin, definitely got me looking back at my business more closely. So in addition being able to put values on your own words, I have done that too so cheers to Kevin for that. Now that interview was packed. There is a lot of things in there. I think the biggest take away for me was also the need to feel a little bit uncomfortable and that is a good place to be so that we can keep on growing and moving forward and that transparency with our clients is key to that. So great to be have onboard for today’s episode. Hope you enjoyed it. A little plug please. I am keen to get out rating on iTunes in the iTunes category under business because I truly believe at the beginning of the episode in the great value that my guest are providing. So if you can help us out by giving us a rating or review on iTunes that would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much and I will see you next week.


Thanks for listening to the customer centric show. For additional smart ways to attract more customers, profits and freedom, head on over to the website www.customercentricshow.com.

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51. Maximising Sales Through Automation With Barry Moore

51. Maximising Sales Through Automation With Barry Moore

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with Mel Telecican (Customer-Centric Coach)

Episode 51. Maximising Sales Through Automation With Barry Moore

Hello and thanks for joining me for episode 51. We have crossed the halfway mark to 100 episodes. Now, today’s episode is going to be a cracking one. It is about saving your time, making things more efficient and allowing you to be able to streamline the sales process so you can convert more potential customers into actual paying ones. It is going to really interesting. And before we get into this can I ask you for some feedback? I am wanting to know what you think of the show and the best way you can do that is on iTunes. You can give us a rating out of 5 and you can also leave us a detailed review even few words for your wish but i will love to hear what you think. If you can do that for me iTunes I will be grateful and look truthfully what it does for this show is it means that the higher rating we get, the more reviews the we get, the higher it sits in iTunes and Stitcher and that means that other business owners get to access this information. So like I said if you think it is giving you value and you are learning from it and you are being able to put these things into action then please leave us rating or review it would be really grateful. Alright let’s get into the show!


You are listening to the customer centric show with Mel Telecican where we talk successful business owners and experts to share smart ways to attract more customers, profits and freedom by thinking about customers first. Now, here is your host Mel Telecican.

Mel: Today’s guest is Barry Moore and I can safely say that Barry would be the first former fighter pilot we have had on the show. Barry Moore is a former e-commerce executive turned marketing automation specialist & podcaster at The Active Marketer.com. He helps business owners put the power of sales funnels and marketing automation to work in their business. Barry is adamant that one way to make your business more customer centric is to stop sending out boring generic ‘newsletters’ that lead customers straight to the unsubscribe button. Barry’s focus on sales and marketing automation is all about putting behavioral triggers and automated communications in place to get the right message to the right person at the right time. Welcome to the show Barry.

Barry: Thanks so much for having me. Excited to be here.

Mel: Yeah excellent. I can’t want to get stuck into automation. I mean this sounds like it is going to give us a little freedom but let’s kickoff with an example of a business that you know that you believe is customer centric and give us some reasoning as to why?

Barry: I have been thinking about that one and the one that brings to mind is for me at the moment is Netflix. They have really kind of raised the bar in kind of paying attention to what their customers want. They started out as DVD rental kind of thing. Mailed to your house and you can automate the messaging both front and the back end messaging and then you can scale up. Once they are in place you get more people and get more sales. Then they moved to the online streaming and bought a bunch of content and starting streaming TV shows and movies etc. and then watched all that data to determine what their customers really like and now they actually produce TV shows and full length movies. They have turned from the supplier to actual producer. This is what my customer likes, let’s just go out and produce more of that and they decide what you might like based on your previous behavior so you watched these 3 movies I think you will these other ones over here. So really doing their best to watch what you do and tailor that for you and that create customer content that you can’t find anywhere else which is pretty big move for somebody who just started selling DVDs.

Mel: Yeah I have watched the documentary about Netflix and I was quite fascinated that it actually took off at some point because obviously I am different from other people but the whole thought of ordering and waiting for post of your DVDs seemed I guess not great idea to me at first but clearly it was and that as you said listening to their customers and looking at their data and tell what they like and don’t like and suggesting is pretty cool and they got star ratings as well so you can give them that additional. I did see recently actually that I was talking about one of the movies that they were saying was the biggest download of the summer and that actually made everyone hated it and so I am guessing they have data down the detail of where people dropped off during that film as a process of watched the whole thing to the end. So it is pretty fascinating stuff.

Barry: Yeah and they also kind of pioneer binge watching, they created an episode like house of cards which is a fantastic show and unlike other broadcast TV they just don’t release one episode a week and then you tune in next week for next episode, they released like 13 episode at once. So they are not restricting you to how you consume the content either.

Mel: Yeah I would have to agree that’s a great example thanks for sharing that. Now I am going to ask you in more detail about what you do? So you look at sales automation or helping business put that into place as well as marketing automation. Can you break down two concept for us and explain what that means and what that looks like?

Barry: Well I can break it down into two schools. Marketing automation is getting message in front of people, getting them to back to your business and website until they buy something. So once they buy something it becomes how do we deliver that? So marketing automation is how you get them on and sales automation is get the process within your own business and how can we officially deliver more that product and that service inside my own business with my own staff. Does that make sense?

Mel: Yeah so marketing automation is things like EDM electronics direct mails, direct mail SMS what are we talking?

Barry: As I am specialized in kind of the e-mail and online service funnels type of marketing so I don’t get involved too much in the traditional kind of stuff. So it is mostly SMS and e-mail.

Mel: So tell me what is the draw card for you? Why is the scenario focused that you like so much?

Barry: I thought it absolutely fascinating because with these marketing automation platforms and we can talk about some of those later but you can do exactly what we talking about Netflix. So similar once someone subscribes to your e-mail and every business should be getting e-mail list. With marketing automation performance you can actually watch everything that they do. How they interact, what links they click on but even down to what pages on your website they viewed. For example if someone says you are service based business and you have got a product page for one of your services coming for adjustment right and someone got to that page 3 times and they haven’t booked yet, so probably much more qualified lead in some way hasn’t seen that page at all. So you can put automations in place which could be mailing them out special for that product or it could even be to alert yourself or one of your salespeople to say hey Mel was with this page 3 times there is something stopping her from picking that next step and buying that product. So maybe we have sales person reach out to you individually and give you a call and try and find out what is going on and so Netflix monitors everything going on and customizing the experience when you logging into Netflix, the marketing automation platforms can do exactly the same. They can monitor everything you look at and start giving you more what you interested in unless you are not interested.

Mel: Yeah interesting. So I have to ask you question around heat maps. I have heard web portfolio responsible for design talk about heat maps where you see where people going and what they are doing so you can optimize your content or re-format your website. So when you are talking about people coming to particular page of your website, you are talking about being able to identify uniquely who those people are and then being able to direct communication to them is that what you are saying?

Barry: Yeah exactly that. So the heat map example is generic right. it shows at what area of page people looking. But I don’t know who those people are. But once you got someone got into your e-mail list and I know you have given me your mail and address now, I can track everything back to you. Like Mel has looked at this page that day. They are coming to volley trip so they are really interested in volley. So I start sending them e-mail about how great volley is right and then 3 e-mails about how great volley is this time of the year. That very last message is some sort of special offer for the product you can look at for the last month. So it is not a generic e-mail it is going out to everybody. It is much customized to you. Based on the behavior you displayed to us.

Mel: Yeah I was reading something recently Barry talking about this shift to personalized communications or personalized marketing and this year is the year of individualized engagement so this is perfect example of that because you are actually doing it based on the prompts they are giving you through the path way they have travelled on your site. Or through actually e-mail, can we talk about that little bit? What an e-mail or marketing funnel might look like in an e-mail?

Barry: Yeah for sure. So a typical kind of one is let’s say there is 2 kinds of traffic. 1 traffic is people know about you and heard about you and mainly your customers. Then there is call traffic and it is people who never heard you before and have first experience with your brand. So we want to talk to those people slightly differently because all traffic you need to build some trust. I have never heard of your and your brand before, if you just hit me up with some ad to buy something straight away, my defense is going to go up straight away but however if you engage with me on a different level you provide me some content and something that I am interested in and that helps me solve my problems so going back to that health example where physio and you say you have some pain in ankles to, if I run an ad on Facebook for example saying hey are you facing heel pain and I go yes I am, I wouldn’t drive traffic straight to offer. I would drive call to traffic to people that talks about heel pains and the 4 factors that go into causing heel pain and could be your posture or running style. And then one that page somewhere else they get me to download your top 5 shows for people heel pain right. I will take that. So now I got in your e-mail address. It is not a hard sale. I am just providing you some content that solves your problem and then I have given you an example for your name and email address. I have given you lead magnet that further solves your problem. So I have downloaded that for people heel pain, now being that once you sign up I am going to send you 3 to 4 emails outlining the major points within that PDF that say hey if you have this kind of shoe, these are better and these are not etc. I will send you e-mail addressing you about the subject that you asked about.

Mel: Step into deeper dive each time you making content.

Barry: Building the confidence and really do know i can trust and then at some point in there I am going to put in in offer there for some patient for put an offer for running shoes. I am going to hit you up straight away with call traffic. So basically that sales funnel starts very wide. Some people are just going to download the PDF and never talk to us again. If 100 people go top of the funnel we make 10 customers coming to our store at the end of the day. So build out those funnels that direct people to those products. Let someone think about who would like their product. If you want to think about that that’s where we want to get you build up those stops in track between.

Mel: Yeah so it is really important to be understanding the potential variety of issues then mapping out the sort of informational value you can provide progressively so as you said you can build that trust element so that you can introduce the offer or the contact or whatever else. Thank you for explaining that so well. So let’s talk about behavioral triggers. Is that part of what you are just talking about there or is that another step in addition to those?

Barry: It is a little bit in addition to those but it is going back to what you said that is the year of 1 to 1 conversations. How do you have those conversation with someone? Is that you monitor their behavior and you provide them the information that the behavior says they want. So in the real example let’s say you are in a retail shop and there is 20 people coming around your retail shop, you won’t get up on the desk and go hey! Can I help you people? That’s like one to many. Which is what everybody to their e-mail. They do newsletter and blast it out to thousand people whatever and it is the same message to all 10,000 people and it has very low conversion rates because I didn’t ask for that info. That’s where they really go and hit unsubscribe button. With those behavioral trigger come into play is trying to make the messaging that’s going out from your business as close to 1 to 1 conversation as possible. Going back to running show example if I blasted my entire email list with hey these are my top running shoes for heel pain, 90% people will go well I don’t have heel pain. Why do I care about this right? By having those trigger built into system that says hey if somebody downloads this PDF, we are going to send them these messages alright. So they have displayed some behavior on our website, they looked at the piece of content that deal with heel pain so we are going to reply a very certain way to that one individual person rather than blasting out a generic message to 10000 people. So some behavior trigger can be one where there is e-mail when someone clicks on particular link in email, when someone visit website and they haven’t bought anything yet, they just displayed a behavior that they are running in that website. So let’s talk start sending them more information about the website and the benefits it will give and here is somebody who came to our clinic and now they just finished the pain call. By watching the customers behavior whether it is looking at the webpage or click a link or opening an e-mail, forwarding e-mail or clicking social media link whatever that happens to be. We can tailor the message based on the behavior they displayed.

Mel: Excellent and the great thing about this is that smallest of businesses you can actually start this and it is not necessarily expensive process to start right.

Barry: Exactly. So this used to be domain of the really big ended town where people have lots of marketing pages. These marketing on mission platform used to call us 1000s of dollars to set up and we are still complex that you needed dedicated resource just to run the thing. As with all technology comes democratize everything you use, you can put one these to play in your business starting at 9-10 dollars a month. So they become much easier to use so you can really buy product that forces you to think about sales cycle. We use 3 pillars at the eco market which is designed on the man scale. So the first thing is how do I design my customer folio through my business. Most business owners haven’t even thought of that. They just think customer show up and everything is good but they haven’t thought about the path those customer take to your business. So you design those paths to the business then you can automate the messaging and then you can scale it up once the automation in place you can put more people onto the train and get more sales.

Mel: And so that process is something that you can constantly evolve to right. So something you see is not working in a way you setup the path I guess and you can actually re-adjust and assure that what is resonating and what is getting people in terms of converting to a sale.

Barry: Yeah much the way you talked about that Netflix movie. May be everyone drops off at 20 minutes mark, you can do the same thing. If I am sending out 5 e-mail sequence and I notice everyone starts opening e-mail fully and my offer happens to be an e-mail for so guess what we need some tweak in there because know no one is getting the offer. So we might assure the sequence or we might put the offer further forward in the sequence or just look at the stats and tell us what the stats are telling us and adjust the game plan from there.

Mel: Excellent. Now I am going to take back a step back to ask you a little bit back about your background because I know you have a background as a pilot in the air force and now is it leisure craft that you take out? What is it that you do now?

Barry: Yeah I fly part time whenever I can but the marketing automation is really my baby. I might really just order my aeroplane. Pretty excited about that but the good thing is it is a very good airplane it is like it is a new plane just been re-designed from the ground to be kind of most consumer plane in the world and the bad news is it is a brand new air plane they just started production and I have slight number 2042 so it is about 3 years before I get my.

Mel: Oh it is the waiting patiently. So you worked in the flight center is that right? This with automation became something interest you or is it further down the track?

Barry: Yeah exactly right. So travel is a great example of people who have strong preferences of things right. it lend itself really well to those kind of behavior based trigger. So if someone is interested in destination or specific of feegee or whatever, they are displaying that interest based on pages and the things they click on etc. So it learn itself really to upping the conversion rates if I can send people more information about what they are interested in less information instead of just generic hey that sounds special. I know that Mel displayed interest in feegee number of times now so before I send you any other offers you might have that feegee offer every time it comes up which comes up to a higher probability of sale and better repeat sale as well.

Mel: Yeah so even to the next level then say for example I am looking at feegee but I am looking at certain price range that you can actually assume that’s the area I am comfortable in, any feature correspondence may be specific. Is that what you think?

Barry: Absolutely and you do something cool which I haven’t mentioned. So the back-end system that run all this stuff, you can set up scores in the system that says for example if anybody open an e-mail we assign them one point, if they happen to click on the link in the e-mail which is higher level of engagement they get 3 points. If they visit sales page for particular product they might get 10 points. So over time people are going to be building points in the system and then you can have thresholds in the system that says anytime anybody bottles up 100 points, send me an e-mail personally so I can reach out personally to that person because they 10 times more engaged than the normal person. If you are in a networking event and there is 100 people in the room, you might have 10 people in the room that are interested in your product or your service. Would it right if there magic spot light in there and show all those 10 people? That what lead scoring can do. So you can setup all that in the background and every now and then you get ping someone got over 100 points.

Mel: That’s great and cool and that’s something you can tweak as well and find out whether they really are determined to qualify to convert leads as you test and measure. Interesting. Now I am going to ask you then some examples of types of businesses that you have done this process for. You have actually done the mapping out of the path that their customers are going to take. You are automating the processes and enable right through to scaling the business. Can you give us a little bit of rundown of what you have done in the success stories and the impact that it had in the automation business for the people in those roles?

Barry: Yeah it applies to any kind of business. So my customers are diverse as people who sell cars to people in franchise sales. So anything can really be applied. So for example our customers had a big commercial real estate in Washington states and they had this big new commercial state facility they wanted to get brokers to tourists and broker’s give them return sell these to office space within the facility. So we set a big front-end and back-end marketing sales pipeline which allowed the owner to reach the most brokers with least amount of people. So reaching out 10000 people take a lot in organized fashion would take a lot of people traditionally. So we built automated funnel where they would send out some information in the post and there is series of e-mail that followed up few days later. Then we started hitting them up with the development and tracking who is opening those emails and visit the website for development and those people are getting lead scores so now we have pool of people for the internal sales team to reach out to you so we are able to do this and convert people to 2 of the facility with just one out bound sales person because that lead scoring is growing up people with most interest in. So instead of that sales person chasing time and making bunch of cold calls, here is just getting pop, pop, pop, this person is interested. And then you can pick up the phone and call that person. That was about doing a whole lot more with very small pool of resources. So traditionally it would 5 or 10 people to get done but we take just 1 outbound salesperson.

Mel: Yeah that is huge and I am on always say e-mail capture and being to get that information because being able to reach those people who are actually interesting in what you are doing as a post to marketing in avenues that just scattered broad. This is just so tailored and it is time effective with endless benefits.

Barry: Yeah it is close to that 1 on 1 discussion we are talking about. It is close to that 1 on 1 conversation that you can possibly get with e-mail.

Mel: Yeah excellent. Alright so what is it then that you do that’s different from other people who are planning out customer’s paths and automation processes? What do you think it is that separates you?

Barry: I have got background across a lot of different businesses and a lot of different type of businesses. So a lot of people focus on the front-end like how do we get people e-mail address but they just doesn’t seem to be a lot of people that focus on what happens after we get that e-mail address. There is a lot of noise of landing pages and lead magnets and facebook and all that kind of stuff. So we can grab someone e-mail like you just said. But nobody talk about how much you got that in an e-mail.

Mel: And that’s the downfall right because people realize that good in doing it but that consistency and that mapping it out, I would think that your point of difference would be understanding that customer journey or talking that through with clients to be able to really map it out well because for your property clients you are mentioning before, that could have had a poor result had you not been aware of the things of how that typically work from talking to your client right?

Barry: Exactly right and just one of these automated sequenced can make a dramatic difference straight away so typical example we like to start with in a lot of cases is simple cart of sequence and you probably seen this if you ever gone to amazon and looked at something but you put something in the shopping cart for whatever reason you decided not to buy and you go away and then the next day it says hey Mel are you interested in that camera you were looking yesterday? That simple car sequence is just reminds you that hey you wanted to buy this yesterday so what has changed? That can bring back typically 20%. It is absolutely huge right. So of all the 10 people walk away you bringing 2 back to buy again. So that’s money that just talk walked out of the door if you don’t have that kind of stuff.

Mel: Yeah excellent. So that’s a perfect example and thank you for mapping out exactly what it is. Now if you are going to start off a business that you never done before and you got a small list. What would you say the absolute essentials like I am guessing this could be as complicated as you want to be or can be basic, what would you say the necessities in starting this process?

Barry: Well the first thing if you have small list you want to grow bigger one. So I would have no like or trust sequence or sometimes called the introduction sequence. So I can get cold traffic in but like we talked about with those Facebook ads or with some other kind of paid ads or even organic traffic which is coming from search engines. If someone lands piece of content on my website, there is very specific to what they are looking at so going back to that kind of health professional if I got a lot of content in my site about exercise, I wouldn’t have one generic opt in, I would a mind setup then I would a nutrition up. I want those opt in to be specifically targeted as possible and then once someone has opted in then I got that no like and trust sequence that is out there so I can build some rapport with that customer. So using that opt in magnet or that lead magnet to start growing the list then behind that sits the no like and trust sequence to turn that into one lead. So that would be kind of the first one that you normally would put in place which is what I call lead capture sequence. Then I would put some leads going in place to figure out people who are more engaged than others. So we can put these scoring to identify who is most engaged. Even there is a famous copywriter called Dean Jackson and he has a famous e-mail which is something like hey are you still interested in x right. So if someone come to my run in clinic page I would hit them up with email that say hey you still interested in the running clinic? It doesn’t have to fully and html templates or anything. That goes a long way and bring people back to what they have already displayed and interested.

Mel: Yeah absolutely. Subject line is really key to isn't it? And actually very short content wise there is also a push from the creative looking professional sort of online magazine looking e-mail to the back to the regular e-mail that you and I send each other. What do you suggest around subject lines to promote opening because our inbox are busy, cut through needs to be done really well. Do you have any tips around that?

Barry: Yeah for sure and quickly to talk to that normal looking e-mail. That goes to something called the deliverability. So google want to deliver the most relevant message to the inbox and they are putting all the other ones in the promotions table or whatever. So if your email looks like your conversation tip that people normally have, it is going to have better change to getting to that inbox and by passing the tabs. So just keep that in mind. Subject lines is kind of lateral right. It is used to sell the open. The scopes are designed to sell the click, clicks designed to sell the product, products page is designed to sell the product. So it is a bit of a lateral. Just short opening subject lines, open loops are good things to put in there like are you making these 5 mistakes? That really makes me open that because I know really I am I don’t know. So you want those open loop kind of subject lines. So yes something that’s short to the point and ideally creates an open loop to the reader's head then you are just satisfies. So I just told you this 5 bad things that you could happen into your running style into what they were. You must know what those 5 things are hah and that goes a long way to selling the open. An interesting human behavior is people who act to avoid a loss at a greater rate to act to gain a benefit. So for example if I had 2 subject lines that said 5 tips would make you healthy, and the other subject line says 5 foods that are making you fat, I guarantee second one going to get more opened than the first.

Mel: Yeah absolutely. I am just going to go back, you just said something before that subject line is there to sell the open, the content is about selling he click, and click is about then selling the product page which then sells the product. I thought that was a great sequence so thank you for and I had to recap that because I thought it had some great value to be able to map things out.

Barry: Yeah baby steps one thing at a time. You need to make sure that you program it and it top along the way.

Mel: Yeah so that’s one of the common mistakes that just may be sending out that generic email that applies to everybody but doesn’t resonate with too many and what is the mother mistake that people make in their e-mail.

Barry: They don’t give thought to it, they just blast an e-mail and those kind of generic newsletters might get 3 to 6 to 10% open rate where these behaviorally targeted ones are like 50 to 70 percent. Because they are highly targeted based on the customer behavior. So thinking that everybody want to hear about your business is probably the biggest mistake. People don’t want to hear about business. People want to know how your business solves their problem.

Mel: Yeah I received an email recently about clothing brand that sells both gender clothes and I see a tendency time and time again this is very well respected brands for a long time and I get sent updates from men wear and I think it is just a shame because it is a missed opportunity and I guess because sort of industry that I am in and they are interested in it that puts a bad taste in my mouth, I wonder does that how it feels for everyone else?

Barry: Well that’s it. It just becomes noise and people just hit the unsubscribe button. But imagine that same e-mail have men clothing in it at very better than just having men or women one of them clothing’s in and the best step yet would be it has women clothing but you are looking at for the last 2 months because I have been tracking what you have been looking at like I said.

Mel: But it is helpful right.

Barry: Yeah it may seem creepy but what it is actually doing at the end of the day is getting that customer the information that he is interested in. isn't that what businesses all about? So if you paying for jacket last month and I send you more stuff but if you are looking at jackets and I send you jacket special then bang there is higher conversion rates to a sale in there.

Mel: And it does happen a lot and I am thinking down here the reason that business doesn’t know that I am female is either they haven’t asked me at the point of entry so my next question is around how do you get all of that information? Is it done sort of in a stage by stage? I know it is really about trying to get people to get on your list for making that seamless as easy as possible but how do you then get that extra information you do so you can tailor it better?

Barry: The most accurate way to get it is to actually ask but I need to ask in a way that makes it good for you not good for me. If I ask in a giving way, instead of a taking way you are very much taking it. So if I send survey that say Hey Mel we had great experience with you last time, can you send us more of what you are interested in the most? You filling this quick survey and at the end of it that will give you 50% off and I ask you if you are male or female and then I ask some of your preferences. What kind of clothes do you like? Someone who does it well an online brand on Australia called Kent Online. They are clothing brand it is pretty cool. They send you a whole box of clothes to try and you go oh I like these and keep them and you send back the other ones.

Mel: Oh I heard about this right okay.

Barry: But they have this whole survey at the beginning that says what kind of clothes do you like? Do you go in the offices every day? It is kind of casual. And then they kind of go into what kind of brands do you like. So they build this whole profile and guess what all the marketing that comes to you based on profile that you filled out and what that does for me is person know that I am not getting bunch of rubbish clothes in my box. I am just getting this stuff that I am interested in. The ideal way is to ask someone. Do it in a giving way not a creepy way. It can better target for you. I don’t want waste your time sending you bunch of stuff you want. I want you get the experience you can. If you can add in please answer these 5 questions. It would surely help you out with also the 5% off or whatever. Now I got that information directly from you. The certain way you can get it is the consumer bases in and you can take your e-mail and if that email is in database where it can tell me what sex you are, where you live, in States it is super creepy. With consumer database you can bounce e-mail addresses and it will come back with some information but that maybe months and years out of date.

Mel: That’s right. So how far down the line then? Let’s say you bought someone on your list, you sent them the welcoming information, do you ask them straight up? Is it down the line? When do you suggest it is done?

Barry: The answer is at the right time. So if it is one traffic then it is more receptive to my brand and more receptive on message. I don’t need to 30 know me. Hopefully they would like to trust me so there is not as much of an engagement process there so I can ask those types of people more frequently or whatever. You just need to slow down. So it is kind of like dating. You want to do it at the right time.

Mel: Yeah now it makes perfect sense and thank you for breaking it down into the warm leads into cold leads because that does makes perfect sense. Well you have been a wealth of knowledge today Berry so thank you for fantastic information you shared. Now I want you to tell me what is something that you working on the moment that’s coming out that you are excited about and you would like to share with us?

Barry: Yeah one of the things that I am excited about as well is starting my own membership around marketing automation. So my try follows me to active marketer. Those people that are kind of actively following me want to know how I do this stuff all around, they want somebody teach them how to do it. So that’s how do it 1 on 1 and where people give access to me and they can ask questions and we can do webinars and seats and all around and you can put seats in your business see in more and we can break it down to if we can bring physio trainer person and then we will have automation templates inside the community that you can just download and put into your system and you just customize the copy and the way you go. So I am pretty excited about that and building that out at the moment in January or February type of launch so that’s very much consuming all my time at the moment.

Mel: Yeah that does sound exciting. I get to ask you this question before we go is what sort of platform people do this on? What do you recommend? What works?

Barry: This is kind of free basic platforms at that kind of small business consumer level. There is other platforms at the higher and bigger in the town where people have 5 or 6 digit marketing budget but for the small business owner out there who want to introduce themselves and there are few active campaigns in my personal favor. Because that’s when you can get started with inexpensively and the cost ramp up as your list grow. So if you are 500 people on your list it kind of start at 9 dollars a month. But as you ramp up 20,000 people your cost goes up but you should certainly be monetizing that audience by then. So there is active campaign which is my favorite. Entre report is another one. Agile CRM is another one and there is another one dripped which is automation platform. So whatever the one makes more sense for your business but I think for my experience people and the light ball comes on quicker with active campaign and other systems get it because it is easy to use. But still very deep like you can get started simply but you can keep adding more and more advance features as you can get more comfortable for two.

Mel: Excellent that’s what we want to hear. Barry if people want to follow you or find where you websites, podcasts are? Where can they do that?

Barry: Just check out theactivemarketer.com, we have got podcasts as you said there is podcasts about marketing information there so if you want to learn tactics text me and share automations and funnel I will share that you can put into your business and personally my twitter account is Barry_moore you will get me there.

Well I hope that episode has really got you thinking about how you could be automating the processes and yet personalizing them for your audience, I think that has got some real value so I do hope that it has been a worthwhile listen for you today. Now before you do I would like to bring to your attention and organization by the name of Nora and this is not a paid presentation or paid post, it is actually just to let you know about Nora so you can go and investigate for yourself. What Nora does is they are association who look after retailers, they have fantastic resources they pull together. Webinars and even events and I want to bring your attention to some of events that I have got coming up around the country in just a few days February 11th actually there is an expedition to Lush, it is that cosmetics brand and that you have heard and if you ever walked into their stores it really is very sensory experience visually and fragrant as well. So what they would be talking about is how they managed to excel in terms of customer service and what they are doing to keep their employees happy. So staff satisfaction, staff engagement really worth checking those guys out and investigating and then on the March the 11th in Brisbane there is another holiday expedition to beginning boutique a thriving online fashion and accessory retailer as well as edible blooms. They are those people who put together chocolates and send those out and look the reason I think it is great is because this is an opportunity for you to see behind the scenes of how these businesses work you know. For us as retailers or as business owners we don’t always get to lid on businesses and ask questions in detail and these expeditions do that so I will be getting to Brisbane and I hope to see you there if you are in that part of the world and look if you really want to check them out and I do suggest that you do, head on over to their website it is nora.org.au. I think it is really worth investigating. Thanks for tuning into today's episode I do have you to enjoy it and look please let me know if you got some tips of who you think I should be speaking to, if I am missing someone that you believe I should need to chat to, please do contact me. You can do that at Mel@customercentriccoach.com or just going into my social media links if you are interest there. Thanks again and I am looking forward to bringing you next episode next Tuesday.


Thanks for listening to the customer centric show. For additional smart ways to attract more customers, profits and freedom head on over to the website www.customercentricshow.com.

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50. Customer Retention And Loyalty With Adam Posner

50. Customer Retention And Loyalty With Adam Posner

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with Mel Telecican (Customer-Centric Coach)

Episode 16. Steve Baxter on Processes and Networking to Scale Your Business

Before we get into today’s episode I want to bring your attention to Nora. Now this is not a paid post. This is me telling you about it because I think you will find some value in it. if you are in retail and I know a portion of my listeners are. So I got a mixture of hospitality services based businesses and retailers. If you are in retail, you really should check out Nora because they have put together a bunch of resources but also they run fantastic events that you can be part of as well. So just to give you a bit of an insight into what they are doing in Sydney. They got an event coming up on the 11th February. It’s expedition to Lush. Lush is international cosmetics brand that you may be familiar with. They have essence overloads if you ever went into those stores. You get to see the behind the scenes of this business. Now that’s a business growing to 800 stores. So if you want to check that out that’s in Sydney and in Brisbane this one I am actually heading to, there is expedition to beginning boutique that is explosively growing brand. There is a fashion brand online as well as seeing behind the scenes edible balloon a company that puts chocolates into amazing looking cakes and seeing how these business run. Being able to ask questions and also to collaborate and talk to people who are in the industry is a great opportunity that exist when you get along to these events. So events aren’t the only thing they do. They put on free webinars for their members and they create lots of other valuable resources. So I would suggest go over to their website and have a look, Nora.org.au. I am positive that you will find real value in what they do.


You are listening to the customer centric show with Mel Telecican, where we talk with successful business owners and experts to share smart ways to attract more customers, profits and freedom by thinking about customers first. Now, here is your host Mel Telecican.

Mel: Hello and welcome to the second episode of 2016. I have invited today’s guest on the show because he has been involved in researching specifically the Australian market around customer retention and what it takes to generate a loyal customer and while there is quite a little information out there globally, there is remarkable in depth research in the Australian. My today’s guest changed that by commissioning the independent study. Adam Posner is the CEO and founder of directivity. Having been a data driven direct market for 23 years, he started this back in the mid-90s with a loyalty program for a shopping center called a scratch and save initiative. Since then he has been involved in a range of customer loyalty and retention strategies and programs for clients like Hotels and Apartments, Mt Buller, Global Beauty Group, Chemplus, Horseland, and Milwaukee Tools. Adam is all about helping his clients establish and maintain valuable loyalty programs that are both profitable to the business and meaningful to the members. Those parts go hand in hand. I first came across his research back in 2013 when the money report was first released and then since the 2nd report published in 2015. Adam is also author of ‘give back to get back’ and ‘making price irrelevant’. Adam thanks for joining me on the show. Great to have you.

Adam: Thanks Mel for inviting me.

Mel: Now can you tell me an example of who do you believe is a great example of a customer centric business?

Adam: Yeah I have been thinking about that a little bit and I have actually got 3 great examples. One of international one which is an interesting proposition which is Toms the show footwear. They are famous in a sense that they accompanying matches of shoes and giving new pair of shoes to child in need and why I love this business in terms of customer centricity is not for typical reasons that you might think but because they really know their purpose and I think that a business that really understands why every day they wake up to deliver obviously great product for their customer and they got a bigger purpose and customers love it because I think they are giving something like 45 million pairs simply. So if 45 million pairs have been given that means 45 million pairs of shoes have been sold. So that’s the one international one that I am a big fan of and then locally there is fantastic food business called Foxes Dan in Melbourne which is a chicken and salad organization. It has got 4 stores and what I love about their customer centricity is they made an error one day on my order and they did apologize but when I got home there was surprise and delight in the pack. It was some extra chocolates and dessert which his never really expected, didn’t know about and that’s what I call a business that really understands and heart to delight at a small. Just something as basic as doing that is really amazing.

Mel: So they didn’t tell you when they handed you your order.

Adam: No they said we really sorry for that mistake. I said look it is fine I understand and I accepted their apology, I was slightly grumpy but that’s okay but overcame everything when I came home my kids came and saw them and it is one of those moments when you know business really understands their customer.

Mel: Hmm and they are showing that they care aren’t they? It is not just enough to say thank you we are actually being quite thoughtful about how we can make it up to you.

Adam: Exactly and going little bit you know unexpected and the third example I have which is my web guy called emphatic design and reason why I share with you is that it is a business that is so focused on getting successful. So his mantra is if my web is clean and successfully working, then I am successful. He is always pro-active, always looking for bugs, these sorts of things I just think we forget about. It is taking those extra steps.

Mel: Yeah absolutely. So what does your web guy do? Does he notify you that he has gone back to your site and checked for things?

Adam: Yeah he first made analysis and I trusted the guy in person. So it wasn’t sort of international based analysis that you often find coming through. I had met him and trusted him. Just for a moment I said maybe you can help me. He said no problem I would do a quick analysis of your site and tell you what the bugs are and that’s all complimentary and that night sitting and really simple stuff because I am not an expert in that space, he gave me a quote and it was so reasonable and every time I had a bug he says no problem I can fix it. It is just so service centric businesses.

Mel: Yeah excellent. So you recommend him to other people as well then?

Adam: Recommendation is the great form of marketing and advertising and we don’t do it likely. Human beings don’t recommend truthfully unless they believe and it is their reputation to recommend in. So I agree.

Mel: Excellent. Can you share with us that was this deliberate thing that you sort of gone down this path of focusing on retention and loyalty?

Adam: It is a funny thing how we land up with life and what we do with business and personal. I am from South Africa and I migrated Australia about 30 years ago and my life of loyalty was different there because it almost forced on me to and I to do conscription. But always funny enough that it was in my DNA that I was forced to do things and loyalty forced was natural and when I got into business of commerce and into world of opening business and I had a food business and I had café and so on, I got into space of understanding data. Now in early 90s it was those little cards at the back of the shop. You were lucky to even have a spreadsheet. But it landed based on that concept that you mentioned because I was walking around shopping centers and talking to retailers and saying look I will do local area drop and we will go 20 and hit discounts behind on this card. You give me ads, I will promote your stores. I will drive people to your stores and they will scratch and you will give those discounts and you get your peak business. Great concept but bit hard work knocking doors and getting people take it on. But then I got these questions from these businesses saying great they are coming in, they are buying, how do I get them back again? And it was all in the beginning of the days what we call direct marketing capturing customer info and using direct mail and phone. It was really back off the retailers asking me well I get all these customers but how do I get them back again? Brilliant service, great product and marketing methodology and that’s how it all started.

Mel: Great. So they didn’t have anything in place to be able to have that retention. So then what was the next stage?

Adam: We started giving them the opportunity to start collecting the data. So basics of getting their name and address and their phone number and without that it is anonymous and then the work CRM started to come customer relationship management and databases and keeping info and it was fun to have spread sheet driven also had the opportunity to capture customer information.

Mel: Yeah I think in those days people just didn’t know what to do with it or did nothing with it right so the opportunity is there but whether you take the next step I guess and seeing value in it. So you have seen this whole space change and evolve over the last 20 years. What would you say the biggest change has been that you have experience or that you have seen has made the biggest impact perhaps?

Adam: Clearly and we all believe technology. It is just explosion of applications and technology that is available. So it has almost created a lot of confusion in that sense. So that’s to me is the biggest changes and then naturally into the whole mobile phones and I also think because of the social space being available to everyone. The consumer has changed massively. I think the generational change has changed the consumer landscape and the consumers control now. I think businesses sometimes don’t really know how to take control again. In the old days where you could do the communication when customer come in, you never knew whether they love you or hate you unless they told you. Now one click away they love or recommend you and one click away they tell they don’t.

Mel: That’s right. So do you think that it is a little volatile in terms of say reputation management of your business because there is so many opportunities out there for people to say that they like it or hate it so often?

Adam: Volatile is a great word and I think going from there volatile into it is a also great opportunity to be better. To me the transparency of the world now makes better business and better marketers. We can’t be lazy anymore, we got to be on our toes. We got to be consistently looking after and loving our customers because of that technology out there. So it has created new set of skills and businesses have to evolve with that to manage the volatility of marketing communications.

Mel: You said something there before Adam that there is opportunity there. Do you mean in terms of really truthfully knowing what people don’t like about your business to be able to make change? Or what do you mean in terms of opportunity there?

Adam: Well as much as challenge to manage reputation management for the moment there, as much as it is hard to manage what people say on social media and on review sites and all of those sort of things. it is also opportunity for you to continue to be better to ensure that you minimize those social mis-happenings that create problem on your reputation but it is hard because people out there just push like or dislike with one finger and don’t give it a much thought. So on the one hand you get people saying how great you are so there is the positive and on the other hand you got the openness of the fact that they are not happy.

Mel: And sometimes there you can just leave a star rating and no comment. So it is not required to be logged. It is just not there. There can be no reasoning attached. It is not necessary. Okay so this is what you do then. You help I guess change asses is that what you do? Can you explain what you do in directivity that I guess help this and then builds that loyalty and retention?

Adam: So my business focus is to help my clients retain their best customer and grow the rest and I am much focused on customer retention and loyalty. All above what I often talk about and which is customer accusation getting new customers. Because I believe every day that and I certainly understand that you need to have customer in the first instance. But once you got them, then your existing customers are your advertising and if we focus on existing customers being the most effective way to attract the new customers, then your business can grow accordingly. Now I am not naïve to say that you need that continuous flow of new customers and business. I totally understand that but I don’t believe enough effort and time and energy and investment is put into the existing customers that they do have.

Mel: Why do you think that is?

Adam: I think that is because as human being from the day we being hunters and gatherers, we are all about accusations. I think we are all about new and shiny. The next new car, phone that comes up. It is all about new business and commerce drives that so I think naturally it is in our DNA to get new things.

Mel: Do you think that bit of complacency thinking that once we got people in, they will naturally love what we do.

Adam: I just don’t want to believe that. I am just not sure. There is a bit of an element to well we got them in. What do we do now? Because customer retention and loyalty is driven of who your customer is. Now in small or medium business, that means customer information. It means technology. It means database, CRM. Something to manage and knowing who your customers are?

Mel: And to what degree do you suggest people should know who their best customers are?

Adam: To the degree of what they want to do with them.

Mel: So really thinking out where we want to take this and then reverse engineering that way to figure out what sort of information we need to be taking.

Adam: I couldn’t have said better than what you said. In all of those scenarios again small and large business retail services whatever it is, knowing your objectives around customer retention and loyalty. Why do you want to keep your customers? And why do you want to keep them loyal? That’s the first question you need to answer, any business needs to answer.

Mel: So wouldn’t the common answer be I want to more money?

Adam: Yes and my next question would be how much more? And then my next question would be who are they that is actually giving you more money?

Mel: Yeah okay. So let’s talk about that. So that’s what connected to what you are saying best customers right? Do you want to tell us about that?

Adam: Every business define best in a different way but if you want to keep it simple, best needs are couple of things from a revenue point of view. A better customer is somebody who buys more plus they come in more often. So there is a frequency that they spend more and they spend more often. So suddenly if you got 100 customers who on average spend 100 dollars, and come on in average 3 times a year, so you got 100 my 100/3. Suddenly you know in order to grow your business what leaders you got? Are they going to spend more? Offer more product or option to add to the mix or you get try and get them get back more often or both. So you need to know that in the first instance in order to define what a best customers looks like in a behavior point of view. The simple part I what is their buying behavior? How often are they coming in and what are they buying and how much are they spending?

Mel: And pod system for instance people are using that. You are saying does that information already on hand there for you to piece together?

Adam: Not unless you identify it back to individual. So this is where the next step is. You could have the identified data and general average transaction but you don’t really know they are. So I don’t know Mel this is Adam. Mel might come in 4 times a year but then I know who you are and I have got your customer information.

Mel: So this is where the value as well. Connection the user and collecting information to loyalty program so that you can attribute that spend to particular customer profile.

Adam: Fundamentally yea I mean the loyalty program and the first person to say it is not the answer to everything but it is certainly an answer to a lot of things fundamentally depending on your business and structure. So I always start off with what does loyalty mean to your business, what is customer retention mean and then let’s work out the solution. It doesn’t always have to be in the typical sense the loyalty program. Yes often it does especially in retail because you do need frequency of purchase. You do need the general transaction to keep the momentum.

Mel; I was thinking about the examples of clients and people you work with and I was thinking clearly there is no loyalty program that touch there and there is the retention strategy that you are implementing and for the other examples like K Mart you would be looking potentially looking at the loyalty program there right?

Adam: Clearly in fashion and food retail where there is regularly customers coming often, that’s where you get the opportunity to know them and to invite them back again. When you got a long transaction or big items and different kind of strategy and different kind of retention and loyalty strategy because you don’t necessarily have the believers to keep getting to buy more and more often. So that’s where you really got to understand who your customers are and the buying behavior before you rush in and just come up with any old program because that’s when the danger and suddenly you find it is not working and you have invested in something that is not giving return to your business.

Mel: Yeah I think Adam when I look around there is probably a big surge in loyalty programs and appeared from the outside to the case where they are doing it and well so we should do it too. So I would expect that it is common mistake people make but do you agree and what are the other mistakes that people make when introducing and bringing loyalty rewards program to their business.

Adam: Yeah I see a lot of mistakes and I am going to share with the listeners exactly what they are. The first one is not knowing why. So I keep coming back what are your objectives in your business? So clearly lot of people may say oh we want more customers, so we want them to come back more often. The other one I mentioned is we want them to recommend us. Reconnection is different that general loyalty program and what I mean by this is when we do know who your best customers are, well then recognize them being those best customers so that they do refer you. So when you recognize your best customers, just like real example I gave earlier on. Giving them something they never expected. We are a member of health fund and out of the blue they gave us some tickets on an event. Now I know that behind the scenes, they would have looked at the value of us being a family and member of that fund we don’t expect to get tickets to the event so what they did was a bit of surprise and delight and now here I am talking about the fact that we got recognized for our ongoing spend with them. So recognition and referral is a different kind of strategy but underneath that you do know who your best as you asked your own. Who are those best customers and how are you going to recognize so that they do talk about you.

Mel: And so what you have seen out there at the market? Often when I am thinking about business and what they could be doing that’s unique because sometimes their common ways that people do things and so it doesn’t seem to have the impact as something that’s very unique. So is there anything else out there that’s really blown your way and just part of that recognition or referral.

Adam; Yeah I give you a little example and it is using what is commonly used and just taking different angle from it. So a happy birthday especially when you know your customers birthday and when you got that information is a very common little surprise and delight and thanking here is your birthday surprise. A lot of retailer do that and also fundamental thing in loyalty program that give them little birthday surprise. I am currently working in furniture retailer and what they doing is they say happy birthday to the furniture. So what we like to do is do anniversary date of furniture every year. We going to say happy birthday to the furniture and what about furniture cake for you.

Mel; Fantastic. Another revenue stream.

Adam: Yeah and just looking at something in a different way. We are looking at from another point of view.

Mel: Great. So would there by like an average period of time that the furniture retail would know people going to upgrade as well as part of that process.

Adam: Yes they would and then we start looking at what we call the life cycle of the purchase and that’s when good strong retention marketing comes into place. When you got the data to know what the life cycle of whatever customer is buying in that case furniture, TV or whatever it is. Then you can start thinking about marketing closer to that time.

Mel: Great so it advents that line of relationship through gifting and developing that relationship through those thoughtful messages. What are your thoughts there?

Adam: There can be a difference in a sense that you can have a formal loyalty program where you formally name and brand it. So you are asking for customer data in the first instance so okay please join our circular program. So if customer ask why are asking me to join your program, well what we going to do is we are going to send you updates to our product range. We are going to invite you to special events, we are going to send you a birthday gift and also we are going to give you a discount every 6 months. You have to formalize what all those benefits are. So you got what I call formal program when you making a promise to your customer based, they giving you the customer, they engaging and buying from you, but the transaction there is they are giving you the customer information and you are giving them rewards so you get them coming back. So that’s a formal program at a simple level. An informal program where you don’t make promises and you don’t tell people to join something does need basis of customer data. You need to have got some information from them if you want to drive some personalized marketing. You do need it.

Mel: There is just so many businesses that do already collect that information whether they feel confident after this.

Adam: Exactly and think through once we got it what we do with it. So my tip to those people is to map it out. In a 12 month period what are the reasons that you can think about to communicate over 12 months. Think of good reasons to reach out. Whether it is a seasonal change or customer birthday or whatever. If you map them out, rather than just wake up every month and think what should we do this month, if you map them out suddenly you got a calendar of 1 to 1 marketing opportunities.

Mel: Yeah well thought out is important because if you are going to the effort of doing that potentially the cost as well, then you need to make sure that you are going to have a degree of success and there is a return on that investment.

Adam: Yes and you need to understand the financials first. I have to go through a very robust process called 9 steps. I call it to a valuable loyalty program. It can be translated as I say it just keep simplicity to 9 to 12 month valuable program and in those 9 steps the first thing is why and I started as you know why would a program benefit your business and why would a program benefit your customers. So getting your strategy, reason up front and knowing them and general why of getting customers and get them to come back more often but to try and set more specifics. What I mean by that is we want to grow average spend from 100 dollars to 200 dollars across 10,000 customers. When it get specific, suddenly the financial start to make sense. So surfing objectives is really important. I have often seen oh we want to reward our customers. Why? So that they come back again. Okay how often? So I am trying to get specific.

Mel: Yeah and achievable as well.

Adam: Yeah specific measureable specific timing as well. So that’s number one step. Number two step is commitment. It is a big thing because often these are seen as marketing initiatives and business growth strategies. So when you are committed to a loyalty program, it is like opening your doors every day because marketing campaigns are usually slashed when it comes down to time and task.

Mel: Yeah so this is a long term approach. You have to on the patience to see the results.

Adam: Yes I see many fail because they do just a little marketing idea. So number three in the process is who it is for? And you ask that right in the beginning. Is it for your old customers or your best customers? Is it for your team? So I have got number of audiences when I talk to my clients about who is program for and that start with your customers and there might be different segments because I do a lot of work in pharmacy and you know you got young couples and families. They are all different segments that do not only have different spend patterns but also different buying behaviors. So understanding who is your program for? If you say for everyone that’s fine. But at least ask that question. The next one is who is internally your team? They really got to get behind it and that is to me the biggest failure in any program when the team doesn’t love it. The team and the staff needs to be in love with your program as much as your customers.

Mel: I had a little bit of difficulty with this when I had restaurant business and my experience was that they saw it purely as a selling thing and so we really had to sit down and talk about the value it would have and I guess like you said before because it is a long term approach and they eventually saw it but in the early it was a little bit hard for them to understand and I guess that’s because people exposure to other loyalty programs too right.

Adam: According to my research over the last 3 years that 88% of Australians over the age of 18 are member of at least one loyalty program. Many of us are members. Not everyone but many of us are and because of that all the good and bad experience start up and never received anything. Oh the points are worth nothing you know all of those ask this question every day in every course I do. I ask this that which loyalty program you love and why and which one do you have and why and common things come through on both sides. On the love side, they love because they get recognized and they love the rewards and benefits. On the hate side they see they never get anything. We all have a point of view. But in a business you need to ensure why you are doing it. Things we do is we get a team and one of the programs that I did was in a tool company which is trading customers in terms of developing their program we got the whole organizations to come up with names and to vote and the winning name went away for a weekend.

Mel: So it is a collaborative effort.

Adam: Yean and what about your suppliers? Never mind you want to get program for customer or your team. Maybe you got suppliers. Well why can’t they give offers and benefits and get involved in their brand out to your member base?

Mel: Yes partnerships right. Yeah okay.

Adam: Exactly and I am still a number three which is who is. Now number four is what kind of program and there is you know is this just a general communication program or is it discount program, what does that look like? It comes back to understanding your customers and your business.

Mel: Do you think there is a space then to let’s say you got a coffee shop, everyone else in the market has either an app that is about the buy one get one free or card that does the same. So obviously you will be collecting data to a better degree but could you then implement a different program to separate yourself from everyone else in that coffee space.

Adam: It is tough one because the loyalty programs are a little bit more and there is lot of apps and POS items opportunity for café retailers but it seems to be the same thing. I am not sure where the point of difference there is unless you start getting coffee specialist. A lot of smart café are doing that. So they are turning what I call retention and loyalty outside of typical program. Educating them and creating an experience. We talk about experience now rather than just typically transaction. I just went in on there. In terms of structure what I am trying to do is trying to move people from what I call points to purchase to points to purpose. From transaction based rewards. They want to go to oh by the way does you organization support local charity? Can we donate our points to charity? Can we further than transaction? Exclusivity piece. So your program is not only about transactional, it is about moving and what I call points for purchase. Once we there, we also look what the competitors are doing because do you want to be the same as your competitors or do you want to be the competition. i always ask this question. Do you want to be the competition or do you want to beat the competition? And it is hard to answer that when everything else is same but that’s where the challenge lies.

Mel: And I guess it comes down to testing. Find something that works for your people and customers.

Adam: And get your team come up with idea and brainstorms.

Mel: Yeah absolutely. Ten heads are better than one right.

Adam: Yeah and quickly through to number five that is understanding your experience. So any program there is an experience that a member has from the time they joined. So what is the time? Is it hard to ask questions? You know the whole join process and then experiencing the program, you need to think that through. You really need to think about how the experience being the member of your program and that means of your business. It means from customer service to online experience through to all elements of engaging and interacting to your program.

Mel: Yeah making it seamless.

Adam: Number six is your technology and your data. So again as big as those words are, you got to ensure that you got the point of sale system to capture and to manage. Communication plan I mentioned earlier on, mapping out in advance. What is your communication look like? From launching your program to ongoing.

Mel: I am going to pull you back to point six, technology and data. Is that what you do? Do you place together that information? Do you pull that from the other sources? What is it that you do that allows peoples to make those good decision from their data?

Adam: I am not a vendor of technology. So I am an independent consultant but I am not a lot of technology and vendor presuming they come to me or I order them to help my clients. So it depends on business and what kind of support they need from technology point of view. I do not know everything but I know enough either to introduce, facilitate or look after that piece. Often clients say to me take us all the way and then introduce us and then we will go from there.

Mel: That’s great though because it means that as that consultant that you bring other things to the table and then can tailor or suggest based on people's specific needs as a post to pushing them in one direction. That’s great.

Adam: And then I also implies it in people I trust and know. One of my co-author he has got retention. So agency which is very strong on the tick and the technology and the ongoing communication platform pieces. Him and I work many times together because we got both sides of brand. I got strategy and he got tech experience. So that the answer to your question.

Mel: It is a great combination and I really want to direct people to the reports that you have put together because there is just fantastic insight there and while a lot of loyalty programs are referred to big business, I think there is a lot that can be taken in terms of understanding who is taking on a retention, who is involving themselves in loyalty programs and what they like and dislike. So that’s a really fantastic piece so congratulations for putting that together. Now before we finish up I could talk to you days about this stuff but in terms of results and really maximizing the positive customer experience, is there anything that stands out for you as an example of significant improvement that a client that you worked with in the past?

Adam: I think I will keep it simple and the answer is yes. I am going to stick with pharmacy. Where a group of larger stores haven’t really worked out what loyalty means to their pharmacy, they didn’t have any information. So clearly prescription area but you can’t use loyalty in that space. So once we got them excited about yeah look you got all the reasons to ask for your customer’s information and giving updates and all the good reasons. What we did was we followed the 9 steps I mentioned and I am going to come back to the birthday because I want to give you the results because it blew me away. I just couldn’t believe it. So when we did came to the birthday mail and it was a direct mail not e-mail because we didn’t get enough e-mails which by the way is just one channel. We were nervous and we need to give some sort of offer 5$, 7$, come in and here is a gift for you. So the results were phenomenon and what I am going to share with you is the top line results. They got 23% redemption rate and what that means is that 23% people said that they offered to came into their store and by the way the highest response rate for one of the store is 40%. So that customer base they got 40% back. They also got an extra 717 customers per month. They compared that to that month that based on customers.

Mel: That frequency you talked about have been increased.

Adam: And they got incremental spend after the 5$ they got 23$ on top of that spent.

Mel: That’s huge.

Adam: And as I said I am sharing this because it is real and I know for the fact that it just one of those cases as simple as it was birthday. May be the customer just stopped having communication to the local pharmacy.

Mel: And I guess specially if you are one of the first people to market to, you got a really great opportunity to throw that into the mix because it is completely different. You know what I got to ask you 2 different questions because you got me thinking before. You talked about lots of opportunities or different opportunities to catch up with people. So the not only clicked in e-mail and looking at collecting their postal address as well is what you looking to right?

Adam: Yes.

Mel: How much information is too much to ask for? Because we talked about that earlier and we are talking about that wanting to make it easy and not too hard, so what is your suggestion?

Adam: That is a really critical discussion point and really cost a lot and I would suggest this is how what I would recommend to my clients. Try and get the maximum that you can get in the minimum amount of time. So what I mean by that is I call this fancy the progressive profile. So you got to get at least the first name and surname, gender and contactable communication. E-mail at the bare minimum. Then if you can get a mailing address and a phone number mobile. Give people reason to why you are asking for it.

Mel: Yes they got to know what is in it for them right.

Adam: Yeah. Why asking for my birthday? Are they security or is it legal requirement in gambling or liquor businesses or whatever it is. If it is not, tell them you are going to give them something like surprise or thing. So you need reasons. The minimum is enough to the extent that you are not spending so much time in making experience unpleasant. Because you have opportunity to get more over time.

Mel: So it is another thing to test and measure back and if they say no I don’t want to do.

Adam: It is also the how because a lot of iPads or tech pieces online if we have point of sale you know it could be very simple. It is also the accessibility of how you are going to gather it. So not only asking what do you going to get but how are you going to gather it?

Mel: Right. Now this last question is around asking you what your thoughts are on centralization for new clients because even though we are talking to small medium sized business owners here on this show. For example I see a lot of people coming to market on board with the private health insurance or we will give you this and then as a pre-existing customer if you want to try and get that, you can’t. So I can sense that there is a lot of frustration in the market that there is a big strong move to sanitizing new customers but not taking care of the existing ones. What is your thought?

Adam: Here is the problem. As you just said you also got the streaming business with other people who want you to subscribe and then you see the offer out there that is not for existing. I think that is a problem and I don’t know really what answer is because each business has such different objectives but if they want to show and set fire for there is exactly what you said, give more to the existing. Just extraordinary and in agreement with you.

Mel: Yeah and may be if people want to incentivize to encourage people to come on then would you think there is value in keeping minimal.

Adam: Otherwise you match or do better for your existing customers. So in your planning, hang on a second what about us doing this plus this to our existing base. So at least having thought through that process. I am not sitting in the border room to make these decisions but you just said it. Think through what impact has in existing base.

Mel: For people who want to follow you and discover your fantastic research and they want to know more about what you do, where can they find you?

Adam: Thanks for asking the question. The research is free and it is available at a site called theloyaltypoint.com.au. Just scroll down and all the studies are there for free that is the latest one called for the love of money 2015. We did one in 2014 which is called share the love which has got a lot of data about which data to ask and what information people like to give. So there is a great in that one and the first one for love of money 2013 is a benchmark which is 3 free research studies. Quite 50 60 70 pages if you got some spare reading time. My book give back to get back is a book I published few years ago. So it is there for free as well. it is not available to download and have a look there and even the infographic nine steps is there. So there is great resource and all asking for is your information’s. So our value exchange is tell us who you are and download the stuff. We know obviously clearly we are very transparent. My website which is directivity.com.au.

Mel: Fantastic. We are going to put the links to all of those websites and those profiles in the show notes. So thank you Adam so much for your conversation today. You really are a fantastic leader and thanks for giving me the time to chat to you today because it is great to talk to someone who is just so reversed in our Australian market. So thanks so much for your time it has been really good chatting with you.

Adam: Same back to you. I really appreciate you putting the time into these sort of shows. Thanks Mel.

Before you go we would love it if you enjoyed today’s episode or any other episode of the customer centric show. To leave us a rating on iTunes or review or both on ITunes. What it does is it increases the visibility of the show on iTunes so that other business owners can come across it more easily. So if you think it is value think of business owners should see it then please leave that review in rating. It would be very grateful. Have a fantastic week. I will be bringing you another new quest next Tuesday. Every episode drops at 6 a.m. so you can always access it on your way to work or perhaps your way to home from work or wherever you are in the world. Thanks again for tuning in. I really do appreciate it and I’ll see you next Tuesday.


Thanks for listening to the customer centric show. For additional smart ways to attract more customers, profits and freedom head on over to the website www.customercentricshow.com.

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49. New Opportunities For Old-Fashioned Customer Relationships With Matthew Dunstan

49. New Opportunities For Old-Fashioned Customer Relationships With Matthew Dunstan

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with Mel Telecican (Customer-Centric Coach)

Episode 49. New Opportunities For Old-Fashioned Customer Relationships With Matthew Dunstan

Mel: Hi there welcome to the first episode of 2016. Mel Telecican here. Thanks so much for joining me for our first show of the year. Things are going to change a little bit this year. You might not feel it too much today but in coming episodes, I am going to be sharing with you some big changes that we have made so that we can help businesses get more customers, more profits and more freedom sooners by thinking about customers first. So while those are going to be coming up soon you will hear it next week. I am very excited because we are going to be improving things here to make sure that we are helping you in the best way possible through these episodes. So firstly I hope you have had a fantastic break. I took 4 weeks off. Normally I would end up working at the desk and I tell you it was just great to properly stop. I think it is probably first time in 6 years that I have not literally touched a laptop in that time frame. So yeah sure business reading and all that sort of stuff but just different and much more on a leisurely level.

Now before we get into today’s episode I want to bring your attention and association called Nora. Now this is not a paid post, this is me telling you about it because it think you will find some value in it. if you are in retail and I know portion of my listeners are, so we got a mixture of hospitality service based businesses and retailers. If you are in retail, you really should check out Nora because they have put together a bunch of resources but also they run fantastic events that you can be a part of as well. So giving you an insight of what they are doing in Sydney, they got an event coming up on the 11th of February. It is expedition to lush. Lush is that international cosmetics brands. They have those fancy looking soaps and you get to see the behind the scenes of this business. Now that’s a business going to 800 stores. So if you want to check that out that’s in Sydney and in Brisbane and this one I am heading to and this is expedition to beginning boutique. That explosively growing brand. There is a fashion brand online as well as seeing behind the scenes of edible balloons. A company that puts chocolates into amazing looking cakes and seeing how these businesses run. Being able to ask questions and also to collaborate and talk to other people who are in the industry is a great opportunity that exists when you get along to these events. So events aren’t the only thing they do. They put on free webinars for their members and they create lots of other valuable resources. So I would suggest go over to their website and have a look. Nora.org.au. I am positive that you will find real value in investigating what it is that they do. So go and check them out and let me know how you get on.


You are listening to the customer centric show with Mel Telecican where we talk with successful business owners and experts to share smart ways to attract more customers, profits and freedom by thinking about customers first. Now, here is your host Mel Telecican.

Mel: Thanks for joining me today. I have invited Matthew Dunstan to be today’s guest because Matthew understands how easy it is for business owners like ourselves to become caught up in working in our businesses and for whatever reason not able to spend sufficient time on working on our businesses to grow and do all those big picture things that we originally set out to do when we started in business. He understands the immense value that comes from creating and implementing a sustainable plan for growth. Matthew left a successful career at Microsoft. He perused his dream on sailing out on the world and this family. It sounds amazing isnt it? He returned to Australia and is now a consultant and adviser helping leaders and entrepreneurs navigate their path for growth and provide services to help business owners with the challenges of leading and growing business. He is a 20 year veteran marketing and product innovation having worked for well-known organizations like Australian graduate school of management and Microsoft where he was a senior leader for almost 10 years. Last year Matthew published his first book the co-working evolution for secrets to successfully working for yourself. He is a trusted adviser now in the role as an associate director for price order house in the private client division. Matthew thanks for joining me today to talk about business, customer centricity and planning for growth.

Matthew: Yeah absolute pleasure. Thanks for inviting me.

Mel: You are absolutely welcome. Now we have known each other for a little while and for some time I said I really want to get you on the show. So I am glad that you are finally here. Now let’s talk about customer centricity. Do you have an example that you believe is customer centric and could you share your reasoning with us?

Matthew: Yeah definitely. Now would you believe that the first example that came to my mind was actually the Brisbane city council and some people might raise their eye brows, a government organization really? But let me draw your attention to their call center in particular and what probably very few people realize is that the call center probably since 2000 have won just a ridiculous number of customer service awards for the way that they structure respond and deal with customer inquiries and I had the opportunity to do a little bit of work with them quite a long time ago now. But when I was there speaking with the manage in charge, she took me through all of the design that went into how they could set themselves up to provide the very best customer service and it range from the systems they use, the knowledge they put in place to help people respond well, the way that they hire and train people, even their performance standards. The way that they measure in the outcomes of the staff and the thing that probably impresses me the most is here we are 16 years later and when you call the Brisbane city council call center you still get the same high quality consistent experience. You call the phone is answered really quickly which is an absolute pleasure I think considering what usually happens when you call large organizations and the person on the phone has the answer on their fingertips because they have such an extensive database of questions and answers or they personally take responsibility for contacting the various specialist throughout that council organization and I just love the design kind of thinking that has gone into kind of creating that front facing customer experience. So Brisbane city council gets a big thumbs up in my opinion.

Mel: Matthew I am really glad that you brought up that group because it wouldn’t been in top of mind for me but as you are talking I am thinking about my experience which was I guess the time when I was making the most calls to council when I was trying to get licensing for my business. So that’s a good 7 or 8 years ago now and I have to say that at that stage absolutely even then like they were very clear on what they can help me with and if they couldn’t then someone gave a specific name of people name who could be calling me back and the time frame that was going to take. So it was fantastic as a business owner because it meant that I knew where I stood and I felt like I was yeah everything was in control and I didn’t have to follow up too much and yeah I did find it absolutely fascinating and specially when it came to setting out what was out forced by some making sure that we are compliant. There was so much detail they were able to answer there really quickly so thanks for me reminder and great example. That’s excellent. But it is all about systems isnt it? Making sure that everything there is at the fingertips for the people on the phone.

Matthew: Yeah very much so and I guess the take away for me just reflecting on that experience is they actually put some thought into designing it. It wasn’t just and intent you know. Turned up at the start of the year and say hey we want to be excellent at customer service. They actually put some thought into what does that mean? How do we actually make sure it happens? So full marks to the people who are going to embark on that journey all those years ago.

Mel: Yeah absolutely congratulations indeed. Now I gave a little bit of insight to our listeners around how you came to your current role and what you are doing. But I love to elaborate for some more and share with us what led you to this role and what you are doing now and what is exciting you in your positioning price order house coopers.

Matthew: Yeah sure and it is a bit of secure as I think some of the most interesting journeys are. My stock in trade when I did my first degree in marketing. But I guess all along I had a bit of interest or drive for entrepreneurship. I remember when I was going for 7 years old collecting epidemic and that was my neighbors tree and you know shelling them and sticking in the jar and trying to sell back to him. So always been of tuned into I think ways we could do things better and I just love the innovation and process of invention and that’s just continued throughout my career which sometimes has been at certain point as entrepreneur. And other times more of being as entrepreneur I guess within an organization. So even with some corporate roles that I have had it still been around all of the problems that we have seen in the market and we do differently and not even from customer point of view but also even in internal process innovation point of view. So I moved into the IT industry fairly quickly here in Brisbane and working myself as a consultant in web and portal space so that was my experience in Brisbane city council. And then moved into a role at Microsoft so I worked for them and for five years in Australia I moved into the UK and start working around innovation and solutions and that was in 2005 actually so moved over to the UK in 2005 with my family and then I did lots of interesting things so I ended up running portfolio products and well on the top of all of this let’s go sailing and actually sailing for me was really perused of couple of big life goals that I had. I always wanted to go and work overseas and just experience what it was like to work and live in another culture and so that’s what moved me to the UK and lot of international work was about. So it was really fortunate to do that. Sailing is one of the things that was had talked about during semi-retirement plan and my children were in advocacy. But then I was listening to a speaker one day who said the problem with retirement plans is people kind of put them off and then they retire and find them may be not enjoyed as much as they thought they might. So you really need to start working on these things today. What can you do now on the retirement plan? And I came home and I said honey! I have a great idea. We would rather go sailing with the kids or without the kids and so that was the start of 12 month process of getting ourselves ready and so then bought a boat and we went sailing around the Caribbean. Atlanta sea for all. Very influential experience definitely.

Mel: You know I think just posing on that comment you said now that do you want to do it now or do you want to do it later and I think for me in personally that has been a really important thing for me that I do that because I lost my father few years ago and he worked so hard during his life and he didn’t actually make retirement and I think it is so important that you do need to do those things that you want to do and that have so much value for your family and for yourself personally. Now because we are not sure what is ahead of us and while we all know that, I think that sometimes it is very easy to just let it go forward and always beyond the horizon so congratulation for taking that leap and for your wife too for going onboard with this.

Matthew: Yeah she has followed me on many adventures. We actually just sat down before Christmas and we were having dinner and I said honey I have to thank you because you followed me on and I counted them out of my fingers 13 misadventures and actually turned out pretty good. So she is a very trusting lady definitely.

Mel: Fantastic. I am sure with all of those adventures and misadventures then just opens up new things for you. There is lots of benefits even for the negative and not idea situations. Excellent. So now you working at price-order house coopers, the private client division. Could you explain briefly how that works and what sort of businesses you working with?

Matthew: So I joined PWC actually took a little while to get my head around because when we think of PWC we think of large corporate consulting sort of space but what I came to understand was this that this product clients who works exclusively with privately businesses with family businesses and founders and when I came back to Australia having Microsoft, I said to myself I really want to spend my time in place of that really matter. So I wasn’t in a hurry to looking for another corporate role. I really wanted to work with people who were at a grass route level focused on creating value for their clients. Creating something for themselves and their family and also for supporting their employees and their families. For me that family and community probably is a big outcome from our experience in sailing. So when I discovered PWC division that work exclusively at space and they said you know come and help us help other people in that sort of journey. I thought wow, what a great opportunity. So that’s what I do these days. I work with business owners who are looking to grow their business and have them take it strong to where they are today to something moving forward and of course because of my background I tend to work mostly with people around market strategies and often where those new product and services got a bit of technology bent to it. it is really rewarding. When we do good work and create outcome for businesses, that’s a really direct kind of impact on the people who work with them.

Mel: Absolutely and I expect there will be great reward seeing those businesses. Go to market with these products and just seeing the potential to be unlocked and revealed I guess as you go along. So in terms of when you say grass roots do you mean you are not talking start up? You are talking about businesses that I guess are operating well and having success and ready to step up in terms of growth. Is that what you mean?

Matthew: Melissa it is actually been a little of both. So certainly probably half of the clients that I work with and existing businesses who are wanting to do something new. I got a couple of clients to very traditional sort of businesses you know one of them in manufacturing business and they are looking at the environment around and saying well what does my business need to look like kind of moving forward.

Mel: To innovate right. To be able to know that you got a future of what you are doing.

Matthew: Yeah and look it is really a business transformation question. If I run a traditionally kind of defined and built business in the past, chances are that I probably run the business same way I can’t provide services to my customers in the same way in the future. I think this is really quality thing for business owners to look. Probably 1/3 of my client are in start-up space and sitting on like a really good idea or good product and challenges of how do they take it to market and that’s always really satisfying as well.

Mel: Yeah you have done a lot of work in that stage. I met you as well in Brisbane and so being able to go through that lean start-up and methodology to test and as a market therefore your idea is essentially. Ok so how people come to you. As we said PWC is known as the big business to help big business I guess. So these people you are working with or other people who you are working with in section of business. How are they discovering you and because this is pretty exciting being able to get to know how people like yourself in this space with all the resources that would be able to available additionally is pretty big deal. So how did all that come about?

Matthew: Yeah I guess most of the people passes through traditional marketing kind of activity and certainly lot of relationship in this sort of consultancy based business and accounting practice. It very much is about relationships and referrals and so people do know people and you kind of build the base up like that. One of the things that I have always been an advocate and certainly because of my tool and trade you know kind of marketing. I look at what is their own kind of process for creating new relationships and delivering value in helping people and realize that potential. So having brought marketing into the organization and we have own process in place called marketing water fall which helps us to know the value bought in and kind of create relationships and look for opportunities to deliver value.

Mel: Okay excellent. So you mentioned there it is about relationships and that’s how referrals come from that as well. So obviously that’s a big part of your business. Do you work with your clients on how they can develop their relationships to improve their business as well?

Matthew: I do. May be just little commentary what I am seeing in the market from a market point of view is for a number of years everyone was fell in love with social media because it is cheap and easy way to get message around but I think a lot of people became disillusion of social media because they were talking and there was not a lot of responding and I think the challenge has been because for a lot of people out there, they see social media as essentially bill board. I think if they write something online, it is same as placing an ad in the paper and one of the thing that people don’t really appreciate is the social media is just a different way to create natural relationships and I think what I am seeing is this movement in the business community back toward what I call old fashioned kind of ways of selling and doing business. It is an old leverage. Social media hasn’t really changed that. it is just that there is new opportunity out there for us to deliver on the no like and trust in a different way and so I think certainly that’s what I have done and certainly the tone of the advice and marketing strategy that I am working with the clients is how do we leverage these new marketing channels to deliver back on what old fashioned relationships and kind of selling on value.

Mel: And when you say old fashioned, do you mean in terms of I guess more authentic or more personalized, what do you classify old fashioned?

Matthew: It is all of those things you know. So certainly authenticity counts and I think we are dealing with a lot at the moment is we got a lot of informed customers in our market and so kind of the salesmanship tactics, I think people understand what they being sold at and they didn’t like it which is why they don’t respond to it and which is why people aren’t seeing the results. So it is about authenticity and trying to create relationships and be hero of mind and there is a book called go giver and that’s very influential book for me personally but also one that I kind of use in this tone. It is all about you got what you want after you help your client get what they want. By looking for opportunities to create value for other people first and carry yourself and I think there is a real power in that. So that’s certainly influencing a lot in advice to my clients on how they execute all the marketing strategy.

Mel: I love it and I think that all comes back to whether people are in the right business for the type of person they are and whether they really on purpose and I think that comes much more naturally if you are in the right business and that just matches back to your values. So let’s talk little about old fashioned marketing, what does that look like? What is examples of things that you have been able to implement with your clients or your clients have implemented after you created your strategy with them?

Matthew: Okay. So if I use a professional service example, job number one is always awareness. How people become aware of who you are, what you do and the fact that you exist and you just kind of get away from that. in the past we used to have to kind of accomplish that through networking and a lot of people still kind of have networking events as one of their primary tactics but for those of us who are a little bit closer to things like social media marketing, there is a new opportunity there which is to get your name out there by creating some content and create content that creates value for other people. So one of my personal passion is education. I love teaching. I love mentoring people which for me is very similar and so when I am personally creating content, it is always with a view to saying what do I think people really need to know based on two or three or four weeks. What do I think people really need to start thinking about? I write a piece which is about how do I educate and how do I create some value and something out there that kind of consider take away and want to do something with? So that’s a really easy way for us to get our brand out there and so that the awareness goal is by creating content that has some value in people which is different to saying I launched a new product and just click on the link to read more about it because that’s not necessarily valuable for the retailer, that’s valuable for you. What people has become aware or you ticked off that awareness goal, then they need to go through their journey of this is something that is interest to me and how does it work and there is that customer journey which takes you through the interest and evaluation phase and again you can design that in such a way that it is all about the customer instead of being all about you and so if I am trying to tweak someone interest for example, what are the problems that they are actually trying to solve? What are the things that kind of causing them issues in their business or keeping them awake at night and how can I talk more about it and how can I create some more value which demonstrates that I actually know kind of what I am talking about or I can actually deliver some value in this space and if somebody wants to and someone say okay that is interesting but I am not quite a customer. Really want to understand more about and how do that work for me? Then how can I help them do that you know. Do I have a guide that I could use? Do I give people free trial or download? Do I offer to write out a quick report? What it is that they do to get their hands to you know? I think it is really important point in those phase of interest and evaluation is to let that authenticity come through again. So not just talk about what you do but a lot of how you do? There is real power in talking about what you are passionate about and proving not just saying and kind of demonstrating through customer stores and evidence and testimonials. At some point if you set those things together and you got a nice kind of elegant call to action, then you often say to people okay this kind of needs this source of needs and we would like to talk about how that would go further, that we love to have that conversation and here is some ways we can do that and inviting people to have sales conversation I think is really important. But it is something that a lot of people don’t do. They love them to deal with marketing but never at any point say look I really like to have conversation with you about how I could add value. Would you like to do that? That’s really important and you do actually have to get that when you ask a business.

Mel: This is simple as being really clear as in giving a specific time that you can talk about as a post to leaving that open or is there approach to do in there in a way that is not pushing but I guess as you are saying you have created all this other valuable content that they have consumed prior. What is your thoughts there?

Matthew: Well I think it has more to do with not trying to have that conversation early in the conversation. They get sales call saying hi would you like to meet for a cup of coffee which as I said customers are informed. It is too early in the relationship. You need to let them come to it and go through touch points and then just put the invitation out there saying this that if this makes sense to you and you think it would add value then I would love to meet with you and have a conversation. Let me know.

Mel: And that’s a really nice way out there you know. This makes sense to you and fits value to you. it is not a hard sale and I think that would be very comfortable approach to many business owners who as you say are fearful of like doing arms link as you say.

Matthew: Yeah and I think one of the real powerful things that I think that all business can do is even having been through you know you cycle of head taking through customer journey, you make that offer and that might still be too early for someone and so the way that I like to come to continue to know the relationship is personally I have put a diary note in the LinkedIn that has got a great reminder kind of system going and so 3 to 4 week time I actually put some time to that about that particular client and think about what is it that they are trying to accomplish? And based on what I know about them to date what I recommend or what insights I could share? Let’s send them a note saying I was just thinking about you and your business and some about conversations and I had these insights you know there is couple of other thoughts to come up since based on that. I think probably some things you could do moving forward would be x, y and z. if you like to explain more, happy to catch up and people really appreciate you genuinely thinking about their business. Contributes a little more value without putting hand up for catch up time and it is good way of investing in the relationship. It is a great way of demonstrating that you actually are interested in the outcomes.

Mel: Yeah as you say the go give support that you are talking about before. I like it. Now in terms of the work that you do, your customer journey mapping is big part of what you do is it? So is that what you initially start and then start mapping out how that’s going to look like?

Matthew: More recently I actually found that there is a really valuable step before that which is little bit of markets. I call it market sensing. There is a live version of market research which goes out and asks the customers you know to define their problem and solution and very lean start up kind of methodology but for all clients now, I actually start with them giving me the names of 5 or 6 customers and I have conversation of them and I ask them questions like how did you first find out about them? How did you get in contact and how did you get these people even exist? Which informs the marketing channel question. What is it that you think that they kind of deliver? If you are talking about them to a friend how would you describe the business? What is the value they deliver? Basically have a conversation on those sorts of lines what I find it does is it informs the businesses positioning in terms of what their target market really looks like, the problem they are really trying to solve and how they positioned rather to the competitor? What is their differentiator from the customer eyes? It is amazing how often customers tell a different story to the business owners.

Mel: I bet and I know you were talking earlier about creating content I mean half the content I expect would come from FAQs that the people you come regularly in contact with. That’s the stuff everyone else want to know. It is in your head to get out and yeah that must be fascinating. So quite the discovery for the business owner to realize what is for them that led them to purchase and continue to.

Matthew: Yeah and the other thing that it defines before you get into that, how do I start marketing my business is you got to be really specific about the message that you go out with. The message at your website, what does it say at the top? How do you describe your business? And the value to deliver and how it is different to competitors? Look because I think probably 90% of cases that I have come across, businesses don’t do that very well. They try to cover off too many bases, they try to describe their services too broadly the language that means something to them but doesn’t actually mean something to the customer.

Mel: Yes I have been guilty of that myself. It is a common mistake right.

Matthew: Definitely if you are going to get o nthe market actually you go in the market is with short message.

Mel: So could that be from those conversations that you are talking about? Those positives or the common reasons why people came to them? That could be a message going forward if it is still relevant for your business?

Matthew: Yeah and it should be. If people who already paid you have chosen you over competitors for reasons x, y and z to solve the problem a, b and c, guess what? That’s what you write in the brochure. Then you go in market for more customers to look like that and that has to be a place to start but so often I think people really struggle with this challenge of how I differentiate myself and my business from the people that I compete with? That’s the same sort of things.

Mel: Yes because I think most of us it is safe grown around and I think what you bought our attention to just there is having an actual conversation not necessarily just a survey but talking to people because then conversations go down to parts where people wouldn’t type into it on online survey form or whatever else. So you really can dealt into what it is that makes them buy from you time and time again. So I think I have done myself on occasions in the past where I have actually run people and I am sure your experience is the same and people are surprised that you inquire more and it develops this amazing I guess this generates more value in people that you care and tapping into new things I guess.

Matthew: Yes the conversations are very well received. I do find it is important to get a 3rd party to do it because the customers will have a different conversation. So the conversation they will have with kind of supplier. So find someone else to have a conversation on your behalf is I guess a lesson for them.

Mel: So is there a value in asking or having them? So you can get true authentic picture of how things sit?

Matthew: Yeah definitely. They need to go with full sorts of reasons. I think people say a lot more and are more honest and frank with an independent person.

Mel: Yes. So starting off with those conversations, getting that sense where the market is and what got them to where they are now, leveraging that in creating content of things that people find valuable and that is obviously driven sales, then you really map out the customer journey with them and look at those different touch points and then it is about putting into action. Is that the next step?

Matthew: That’s right. So the next thing is who is doing what and when and when this start and there is always prior to that one last piece complete out of planning and that’s about setting some targets because at the end of the day you also need to make sure that the marketing that you are doing is going to lead to the result that you actually need and you might need to change marketing strategy and I talked about it at that stage. In reality what I do with my clients is we actually have the targets conversations first. Even before I call the customers we do that because understanding what we are trying to accomplish and what we got to work with? What do we sell in and how many of that do we need to sell? That often changes the way you need to go to market types of opportunity that you want to peruse. I think example of just want to mentoring call last night with a really interesting couple of who were based in Melbourne, what we do was list out the services that they are trying to promote and understand the profit and effort required and then find the targets to achieve x over the course of the year, how many leads do we think we need to sell to kind of realize that outcome and do the number stack up? If we say for example that we need to sell 50 of this survey to reach that number? Is that realistic to you to the capacity?

Mel: Yeah once you sell it to support the role I guess is another thing too. So being specific on what those targets are is really key and then further to that whether it can be reasonable if it is a possibility.

Matthew: That’s right and once you understand that then really that’s what the marketing kind of campaign and the marketing strategy has to deliver and again so many going out kind of execute their market, they might be happy with the results but the results don’t add up to the outcome that the business needs to achieve. So you need to start with the target of the business model first.

Mel: And so in terms of tracking that marketing effectiveness I am guessing that it is extremely important in your eyes. Can you talk to us around that?

Matthew: Yeah definitely and it is actually a format that we developed in Microsoft where we use the marketing score card and it would really look at each stage of customer journey and we will track our performance at each of those stages in terms of let’s take the first stage that is awareness stage. How many people have we got our message in front of and we measure that through questions for example and so what is the number that we added and what is our conversion rate down to the next stage. So the next stage in your marketing water fall in interest which you measure by people visiting your website and staying on your website for 2 minutes as an indication of them reading and consuming a content. That’s conversion rate. Did you go from 5000 impressions down to 500 people at your website? That’s a pretty good measurement. So tracking that quantity at each stage of marketing waterfall is really good. Because you know which path is working and what you might be kind of straddle and you have something that’s called danger.

Mel: So for example you come across where you are not getting the interest. People are spending what you consider to be a reasonable amount of time consuming a content to help drive them to the sale then it is about looking at that specifically that sort of side step to re-integrate that part of process.

Matthew: Yeah that’s right. So it is the lead start-up language. What is the small little pipette that you might need to do? But the great thing is you only need to do it one stage at the marketing process. You don’t have to throw out the value and come up with a whole new campaign and that just tweak the content. Do we need to tweak the call to action?

Mel: And that’s how important to be measuring along the way right because otherwise you have no way of guessing and rather than throwing out the whole campaign you need to be able to identify specifically where the whole or gap is.

Matthew: The other thing that it allows you to do once you start-up is then you can also measure the cost per person acquired and the cost per conversion and once you got those benchmarks, tactics comes up and you get ad or whatever then you can evaluate it in terms of cost per benchmark. It was a good experiment but you don’t continue with it.

Mel: So I got to ask you Matthew for people listening today who don’t have a marketing person, perhaps they are doing that themselves, this might seem absolutely a necessity but impossible. What do you say in that instance?

Matthew: Yeah there is live version in this and what I would say to them and don’t have to boil emotion but the important thing is to at least come up with a large plan along these sorts of lines and if you are starting from zero, then you are sitting around the targets, it is specific around your positioning, make sure you got the message right that you are going to take out to market but then it doesn’t have to be perfect. It just have 1 that you can then implement consistently and this is where kind of good habits around just executional discipline come in so that every Monday I am going to do these and Tuesday this. Because to be honest most people who stuck is because of 2 reasons, one there isnt a plan, two they lose interest. It is just a really simple marketing strategy.

Mel: And can I tell you Matthew my opinion is that I guess in terms of traditionally running a business, the attention that you give all those other components of your business, this one is just as important because this is what drives your return business, this is what drives your new business. So it is the blood of what is going on in your business and so while it might be new and may be un-familiar it is really worth investigating time, learning or employing people who really do know about this in your business because it is going to allow you to scale. I think it is easily overlooked and we are all guilty and I know I am very guilty about that approach that you speak off. Definitely did that in my last business and learned along the way that it wasn’t an effective approach so yeah the measurability component is just powerful. So let’s talk about success stories you facilitate in terms of customer engagement Matthew. So really getting people on board and I think that conversation you were talking about was definitely one of those. Do you have another example?

Matthew: Yeah sure. So a client that I have been working with for little over a year now. This young web development. The company is called studio cultural. They defined their business purely in terms of web development. So building websites and along the theme of customer centricity, the early work that we did around all. Have this question that how did we differentiate? And what do the customers really want? What are they really trying to achieve? Basically I say to guys people might come to you but nobody wants websites. A website itself doesn’t do very much. What they really want is more customers and they think website is the way they are going to do that and as we know a website on its own doesn’t equal more customers. You need to feed the website. You need website to do certain things and you need that to follow on sales activities and so may be if we define the problem we solving as how do we help clients attract more customers through digital channels, then the service offering needs to be a bit broader and so let’s talk about how can we deliver that full solution to the customers problem and actually help them achieve that in the outcome of business. So to re-define the target market needs then allow them to differentiate so they no longer build websites. They are now about how do we help customers to drive them out through digital channels and then having to find that they are able to kind of re-allocate their services and add a little bit more into what they do and then take that board of message out to their customer and that’s really successful for them. That has more than doubled their business in the last 12 months and every time I catch up it is real pleasure, well done to those guys they have put in all the hard yards but really satisfying to see them take that on board.

Mel: Yeah I see them a lot more now on social media. They are doing online sales platforms or e-commerce platforms everything. Fantastic that’s excellent. It is having message writer as you say and making sure that you are clear on that to be able to stand out from the crows for sure. Now let’s talk about customer experience, personally for you and your business, what does that mean to you?

Matthew: It does mean different things to different people, for me and particularly about driving people and getting particular type of customer experience, it is about tuning into the expectations of the market exist today so for example we all have this expectation that we can transact online and we can find everything that we need to know online and everything that we on organization should be able to do and those are kind of fairly common customer expectation and if we don’t meet those basic expectations, it tends to reflect on our business. Maybe we are little old school or little out of day to fashion. So the hygiene factors, I think the bar or how we interact with customers has come up and we need to meet those basic customer expectations. That’s just to be competitive and kind of do as well as other people around of you. For the people who really want to take it further then, the question is how do you then delight customers through these sort of channels you know how do you make the whole customer journey delightful, easy, frictionless and may be a little bit fun or innovative and little bit surprising and we love remember the very first time for example of news ABAB in the mobile phone was absolute delight. We still like toys and buttons. It is not that we not matured enough, we are. The first time I saw that in mobile I was like wow this is really beautiful. Look at that image at the top and then I was just super impressed of how the experience was of searching and being able to see it on the map and being able to zoom in and click and see the details and then check it all straight away and it is just really quick and the challenge here I think for business owners and people who designing those product and services over reason is we are not often able to do that ourselves very well because we are just way too close to it. A client of mine that I just started working with last December, they had a product which is like an enterprise version of dropbox so ultimate security around sharing the files and great product designed 4 or 5 years ago and at that time it was great for what it did. But again the customer expectations have moved on in terms of what that user experiences like all the way from the sign up and the registration process. That make it really easy for me and say don’t ask the same questions and click too many times and all way to the use of the product and then recommend it to other.

Mel: Yeah I like that and I think the other is that’s why there is a value invader or pre-launched testing as well just to make sure that even though you are familiar with the feels that’s easy to you going to be eventually using as well because sometimes it is literally a case of it doesn’t work and I never touch it again. Now let’s finish up Matthew I got a couple of quick questions for you. Is there anything that you have read recently that has left you feeling really inspired and ready to leap into action of play?

Matthew: Yeah definitely. I am a big fan of Tim Collen work as well and his most recent book ‘great by choice’ I think is outstanding. It is on my recommended list definitely. It is leadership focused but I think people take different things. One of the things that I love about it is the spokes on discipline to execution. Tim Collen in his study of companies that outperform versus those who under-perform, one of the big things that companies out of findings of his is what he call smack recipe and 10 things that you just have to do day and day out because they drive the success to business and it talks to kind of disciplined action versus innovation that says that for the companies who are out-performed similar innovations there but you need to innovate just enough. You don’t need to pour everything into that. Actually what drives success more is understanding those critical ingredients that just drive performance in your business and just how disciplined execution on kind of doing that stuff day and day out and so l really like that book and my personal new year resolution is definitely big focus on what are the habits that drive success rather than being planning some of the amazing strategies.

Mel: Now what is something that you are working on or that’s coming up that you are very excited about?

Matthew: Yeah so one of the things that I am seeing and happening a lot with a lot of conversation in customers in the market or generally is where this all headed for my business? A lot of the work that I am doing is with people who are in there kind of mid 50s and they working there for a while and saying this is great but where did this all headed? Do I just stop working or I have nothing to show? So people are kind of turning their mind to how do I create this sort of outcome and in a lot of cases how do I make sure that we are leading the right sort of advocacy? Maybe I want my business to continue value in the market. So it is really satisfying to be a part of those conversations in helping business owners prepare for that because everyone defining success in different ways you know. In the past it used to be about how much I get paid for my business? But increasingly the conversation is becoming about well I want to reward key employees, how do I transition them in or make that possible or maybe passing on to family members and how do I make that a smooth transition. So being able to re-define success, PWC has done a little writing around this concept of new thing which get people to look after that as well and it is taking that broader view of what is successful client. So it is really looking forward to working with clients on that part of journey as well this year. That’s going to be an exciting thing.

Mel: It is easily overlooked but yeah such an important part I imagine as you go to retire or step out of your business. The most I guess in your heart you want to continue to have that success so making sure that all step down as seamless is just important. I have to get the link from you Matthew. I have to put that on show notes and would have been great for our listeners. You have been fantastic today. I have really enjoyed listening to you and talking to you about what you do and what you can doing in our businesses as well. Now if people want to follow you on social media and otherwise, where can they do that?

Matthew: Sure. I spend most time in LinkedIn. You can look me up on LinkedIn as Matthew Dunstan. You can also send me an e-mail directly at matthew.dunstan@au.pwc.com.


Thanks for listening to the customer centric show. For additional smart ways to attract more customers, profits and freedom head over to the website www.customercentricshow.com.

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42. Experiential Retailing Success With Amy Roche

42. Experiential Retailing Success With Amy Roche

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with Mel Telecican (Customer-Centric Coach)

Episode 42. Experiential Retailing Success With Amy Roche

You are listening to the customer centric show with Mel Telecican where we talk with successful business owners and experts to share smart ways to attract more customers, profits and freedom by thinking about customers first. Now, here is your Mel Telecican.

Mel: Hi everyone great to have you onboard. Today on the show I have Amy Roche. Marketer and director of retail rock stars. Amy has 18 years’ experience in marketing and retailing, specifically in the appliances industry. Before moving to Australia from the U.S., Amy was the International Marketing Manager of the then Fortune 500 Company, Maytag, an appliance brand we know in Australia as Whirlpool. For the past 8 years, Amy and her husband have owned A Good Guys - an electronics and appliance store which is one of the most successful in Brisbane. She boosted her store and other stores profitability by ramping up the customer experience. In this episode we're going to learn just what's involved in experiential retailing and Amy is the woman who does this daily. Great to have you with us Amy.

Amy: Thank you Mel thanks for having me.

Mel: Now we start the show by asking everyone what is the example of a business that you believe is customer centric and give us your reasoning for why?

Amy: Sure. Well one of the businesses I thought I would I bring is special in my sort of experiential way I guess and as well as super customer centric and I am sure you will probably see the examples of it. It is called the American girls store. It is a fabulous retailing environment and it is completely centers all around the parents and the little girls that go in there and I have a son and so that’s tells you that I am impressed with this store and I can’t even go and get anything but it is a little girls wonderland. They have a doll station, hospital, a little place where they put the dolls and they do their hair and the kids can even get matching outfits with their doll. Can you believe it? So I suppose that’s really an example of being super customer centric but also bringing that amazing experience into retail environment where they just kind of put the customer on the front center.

Mel: And so is it a big store?

Amy: They are pretty big. A lot of them even have a café like a little restaurant in the back.

Mel: So that’s got to be a clinch of parents who potentially their kids want to have a look around. It is easy for them to have a seat at the back of the café right.

Amy: Yeah absolutely. I mean what they do is the full show so they actually if it is little girls birthday it is really big deal. They put the doll in the chair and yes.

Mel: So do groups go in? Like groups of kids go in for birthday parties and all get that doll done up or is that the model?

Amy: Yeah and if they do that I mean it is a regular retail space and then in the front of the retail shop they got all the dolls and the different outfits and shoes and things and then as you kind of walk to the back of the store they have these different little like I said a doll hospital if anything breaks on your doll they fix it and they have a doll salon and they also got a really casual café kind of thing and then there is some of them have quite fantasy restaurant at the back.

Mel: Right so actually there is a reason to re-visit. So you can’t ideally buy your first product from there and you are tempted to come back giving your doll a haircut and get it fixed and so yeah it is caring of all that sort of post-sale things that maybe the retailers aren’t thinking of right?

Amy: Oh I like it. I am going to have to check it out now. I have got a son too, no girls but I still will check it out. Now thanks for explaining that. Your experience is very vast. You have this huge amount of experience in the appliance store and space. Can you give us some background into how you ended up building your new business or newer business called retail rock star and how it all came about? Because I love this story and I love you to share it with our listeners.

Mel: Sure well I am a marketer by range. So I have been in the appliances and retail marketing space for over 18 years. So that’s kinda my thing. We also own a good guy store and so some of the things I started seeing within our store was I started seeing a lot of dis-engaged customers. Our profit was decreasing at a fairly alarming rate for a while there and so I was kind of looking for ways from the marketing standpoint. Putting my marketing head on, I was looking for ways to engage with these customers and I just had this feeling that we really needed to go further to build this sort of deep engagement locally with our customers and that’s when I approached a couple chef and I was in early days there wasn’t a whole lot of and I wasn’t that innovative with some of these first shows that I have put together but the idea was basically to have an event or have some kind of demonstration inside the store to bring customers in and kind of specially invite them and yeah give them some sort of knowledge and experience and so I started basically doing and experiment inside my own store and much to my surprise it was amazingly successful. We had customers lining up saying oh you know that was so fantastic. Can you see the look on their face? They sort of expected to come into this event and be I suppose sold too and they were really appreciative and that sort of where the whole idea began about doing experimental shows inside retail setting.

Mel: Right so typically the whole idea of someone demonstrating for example on a basic level l has been around for a while on retailing so really I think you really had to separate yourself from that in taking the hard sale out of it was I guess the surprise element who came along if they used to experience in that elsewhere.

Amy: Yeah and I think the other thing as well is really making a bit of adventure so a lot of people wouldn’t think of a cardiac specialist. What in the world does that have to do in appliance retailing store? But you know it works so we have Angela Jackson, she is a natural health heart is the name of her business and so she has her own methodology all around creating and maintaining a healthy heart. Keeping off medication for cholesterol and high blood pressure and those type of things and there is several different ways that she goes about doing that regular exercise and she talk about fit and that kind of stuff. She also put on demonstration and talks about high nutrient foods that can really pack a punch for getting that heart healthy. So have a lot of older customers that would come and they are very excited to see something like that and it helps them in their life to be healthier and to do those things. So again I think going back to the demonstration example that you gave before, I think it is really important when you are looking at doing an experience in store or experience in your customer, you don’t have to be a retailer. I think anyone can have an experience. But specifically in the retail environment I think you do need to be a little bit imagination and really try to make it just that much different. So might not make it a real experience for the people that are there.

Mel: And so you are doing that on interest levels aren’t you? So there are people who are at the time in their life where heart health is potentially an issue for them or maybe there is a history in their family and so if you are promoting that as information education session and there are props available but just bringing together that knowledge then that really is a massive value add for portion of your potential clients or customer yeah. So there is heart health and I love that and that’s brilliant. My head is spinning with other ideas because it is really about picking next step isnt it? It is having a whole conversation around how this is part of a greater outcome.

Amy: It is and what it really is it is all about putting the customers first. I think as retailers to be tend to be fairly centric to ourselves and I am sure our customers would agree pretty all we do is have a TV commercials on you know. This is the product, this is price, come shop with us and we will send out an e-mail, we got sale on this weekend and want you to come down and I am trying to tip that on its head a little bit and say what can we give back to them and with doing so as you would know I am sure that you got data as well when you are truly customer centric and you are really thinking what is best for them, it is profitable thing to consider.

Mel: Yeah it is just going through that process and I think when you say centric to business, we have business to run. We have people that we employ. People are responsible for but ultimately nothing exist without looking after your people and so your customers as well as your staff because they are ultimately the ones that pay for all of that but I want to talk to you about segmenting for a store like good guys just in general appliance retailer, you are going to have a very broad range of people. So you are in great position to be able to provide this sort of educational experiential events. What other sort of examples you can share with us that you have done with different people you bought in?

Amy: Yeah some of the other shoes we have would be around more lifestyle diet, so we got a paleo group ran by Liam Williamson. So she runs Brisbane pay paleo and she talks about her journey and the benefits of adoption paleo lifestyle and then go into the tips and the tricks because paleo lifestyle is obviously I don’t know if you know much about it but it is kind of all whole foods and you make everything yourself. So highly dependent on appliances because they are making their own butters and milks and all that kind of stuff. So she goes into quite detail about what kind of produce you can get away with buying or gaining what you can and the benefits of these foods and how to make nutritious ones and all that kind of stuff. So that’s one example.

Mel: I think that’s a great thing too because with something like paleo or another I guess lifestyle choice of eating is that we do get a lot of information about it. I think everyone to some degree has a certain amount of education about paleo, but it is normally something that we consume but we don’t get to have feedback. So in even I expect would be a great opportunity for people to ask questions and be able to interact and so be able to more two way if people have questions or concerns or can dealt a little bit further there.

Amy: And there are lots of questions and she actually has several different levels of workshops that she delivers. So right from introduction to paleo what it is all about? What it even means? That kind of things you need to think about and consider straight through to paleo for kids and how to throw a paleo birthday party. All that kind of stuff.

Mel: So there is lots of different angles of people's different needs.

Amy: Absolutely. That’s probably one of our most popular. Definitely has a lot of interest.

Mel: Okay so when I think about those events that you are running, I think about how that can be applied across industry so beyond appliances and electronic retailing, do you have any examples of who you can see does experiential retaining or marketing in fashion world or in hospitality world or in other service based that you experience and you see that do wonders in business.

Amy: Yeah well I think wine company has always been very good in that. In Brisbane for instance you can with whole experience where they pair the wines with the different things and then you can buy the wine after that but the whole experience is for free and it is for sort of get you in the wine culture and they give you lots of knowledge about all that sort of thing.

Mel: And I think brings like minded people together so it creates a sort of community that as a side benefit to your business is that it is connected through you.

Amy: Yeah and I mean restaurants as well. I mean I know a few restaurants will have special events throughout the year where we talk about where they get their whole farm to table. A lot of times they do that stuff. If you go to the restaurant quite a bit, they invite you to come along and try their menu and stuff like that. So I think those are great examples of really rewarding your customers. The ones that you know are a little big engaged but really getting they fully emerged to your brand. So that they are brand advocates and so they go out and tell your friends.

Mel: Absolutely and I don’t think of a better way you can do that than be able to I guess connect physically by being in the same space. Because there is no distractions like social media and video content and all that other stuff which is fantastic. Peer to peer is opportunity to connect to person which is somewhat rare right.

Amy: Right well there is no stronger connection than the human connection. It is in our DNA you know. From the cavemen days it is part of the reason that we are able to survive. So those who had connections with each other lived ha-ha as a tribe and the ones who didn’t, they didn’t make it. So all those are actually primal thing and as sophisticated as we are.

Mel: Absolutely and especially if you can bring people together who have an interest in same sort of topics.

Amy: Well that’s where the magic really happens because as you can imagine if you have a group of 30 or 40 people, they are about the same age so one has this condition and other one has that and next thing you know they are swapping number. It is quite interesting and I suppose they are close friends and probably same age as well. So they will be going out telling their friends that they went to this wonderful experience and learned heaps at the good guys.

Mel: So you said earlier that when you tried this it was a bit of an experiment and it worked. So when we talk in marketing metrics and measurability, I would expect that this is a long term initiative. So is there other metrics around it? How do you determine that as a result of these experiences you are generating? And so what time frame are we expecting to see the result? What was your experience when you had started?

Amy: Well I mean my experience to me suppose what my client experience are. Probably a little bit different. Because it was our store I was able to measure for quite a significant amount of time. But for client standpoint there is still data there. In terms of profitability and sales that happen then and there so that’s tracked and the retailer can see the benefits of those right away so that’s definitely one thing and I suppose the longer term impact is all around that customer value. We were able to track that and that exponentially increases as people become more engaged. In fact there is a really interesting study. It is about value of customer engagement, it was done by Rosana which is a research firm and they did this whole study over 8000 consumers globally so it is just not America and they found that a truly engaged buys 90% more frequently, they spend 50% more on each transaction and basically they were 3 times more annually than a normal customer. So there is definitely metrics around it and so it depends upon what you can measure in your business I suppose.

Mel: Yes absolutely that’s part of the strategy in creating these events and mapping things out and measuring from there but you are right those study even though they are done independently and there are numerous others over the last 20 years and they consistently come back with those results and staggering about how important customer engagement and I guess when you are in the midst of your business and things are tough, it is easy to go to quick attracting tactics to try to get people for that instantaneous sale or that short term sale but this is about creating a sustainable business right. Putting things into place that are going into incrementally progressed but it is part of the bigger plan.

Amy: I think that’s the key. In those early days when I was doing this experiment, our investment on marketing was absolute crap and was just pumping millions of dollars into push ads and in the old days that works pretty well. As soon you do the campaign you see more people to the door. So you sales would increase and you would see a benefit but these days the return on investment on that push marketing is really bad and I am not saying to that all together because I think it does have its place in the whole marketing mix but I think for deep engagement with your customers and to have a longer term strategy, I definitely think you need to put the mind on a journey and some type of experiential journey whatever that is.

Mel: Yeah so if I think of a business like good guys or big appliance store that is essential. The print TV and general media is essential because that brand awareness element is key right because you got to be on top of mind, you got a big foot print filled. So that’s essential but this is about that next step beyond of as you said push ads and marketing. Now I wanted to ask you around planning. So what you do is you actually hire the right people or you find the right people don’t you? Is that how the retail rock star works? Based on the type of business people have and you help generate the type of talent or event that they should be creating? Is that what you do?

Amy: Yeah so we got quite a few rock stars that already have established shows and I guess you could call those experience out of the box. But of course they are retailers and they have different product type. They are not in, most of those out of box type shows are around technology, cooking and diet and lifestyle. For things that are outside of that scope yeah we look at the requirements needed for the experience and then yeah build it.

Mel: And so for someone who is listening today who has got a retail store or a service based business and they are looking to create an experience. How would you say that they plan out and map things out? Would you say that you create like a manual yearlong calendar where you schedule things incrementally? How much is too much? What is your advice around scheduling these things and season are important right?

Amy: Season are really important. From a retailing stand point you definitely want to keep in with those customers that are already engaged so I think it is important to have a regular experience on work.

Mel: To keep having these touch point for a follow on like you said.

Amy: Yeah so I like to see that every at least 4 weeks. That’s from a retailing standpoint. Some of my clients do it every 3 weeks and then some are more like 6 to 8 but I think it sort of depend on your business as well. So if you are a service business and you have customers or clients that don’t see you very often, I think you can get away with a quarterly or a monthly kind of thing and that’s really just to as we said before it is kind of to keep you in mind. So they are obviously getting that jean in getting some value from you so the next time they do need something. They are going to come right back to you. It would vary depending on how often people are engaged with you from a sale standpoint. For instance like a grocery store you are there every week almost. I think you need to start ramping it up even more because when people have to go and buy things all the time and it is vast mountain of products selection there.

Mel: So just thinking to start with a business, I would like to suggest it maybe quarterly and then asking for feedback. Is there any value for asking for feedback of what people want? Because I am thinking about next step event that could generate something that would have more I guess potential for growth.

Amy: Yeah we have that at the end of every event. That is critical and you get some really great ideas out of it too and you know when several people say the same thing, you are onto something. So it is important to kind of know what your customers are into because those are usually the indicators as to where their interest are and what is going to work for them.

Mel: And what is your thought on free versus paid. Because some people creates events for their business that helps creates connectivity and there is huge value ad component to it that they charge versus free. What do you think?

Amy: Well again I think it depends on the business.

Mel: So let’s talk about a retail store from your experience.

Amy: Well I think from a retail aspect, it is a pretty tough gig. If any customer is the age of the customer it is certainly the retailing customer. So I think from that standpoint most people wouldn’t be willing to pay unless you know it was a really substantial with perhaps 1 to 1 experience and something like that. So I think most people wouldn’t pay.

Mel: It is really about maximizing as many people to come to this event. So the free element is what will increase your numbers.

Amy: It will and as you probably know you also do get a drop off as well so that increases what as soon as that ticket.

Mel: In terms of people who actually turn up on the day.

Amy: Because we usually see like in the appliance retailing environment we see 18% drop off. So we just make sure we have more SVPs than space basically and it so far it hasn’t created any issues.

Mel: Okay this is fantastic stuff. I am sure people who are listening are enjoying and probably starting to think what they could be doing to value adding and to be developing that connection in their businesses as well. Now what is your best example of most successful customer engagement? What are the feedback and results that you are getting that you think would probably be a standout?

Amy: As far as what kind of show you mean? What kind of experience that we delivered?

Mel: What has been the result or feedback from any event that you think stands out as most successful?

Amy: Well I am a bit of softy and I kind of like the emotional things. So what immediately came to mind when you asked that question is I had one of my clients approach me and say I just cannot believe I had a receiving Greek wedding ha-ha. He had that receiving line of people waiting to talk to them and this women came up to him and she started crying and she said oh my gosh I just been diagnosed with this disease and it is the same thing that this women had so the Lia from the Paleo has hashy tomatoes. So she came out and talked about that in the beginning and this women had that and she trying crying and she wouldn’t believe he had that. in million years having this workshop in the store wouldn’t mean that much to some of my customers.

Mel: This is store owner.

Amy: Yeah. So I thought you know that’s pretty cool that you can help I suppose.

Mel: That’s what it is about and I guess that real benefit in thinking about people that you service or the people that you look after and thinking about the potential pain points like as you said with the heart health. There is bunch of people who are clients and these are real pain points for them. The potential issues for them so let’s tap into it. That’s great.

Amy: You know those are the Angela was saying those are most prescribed medications on the planet and so to keep people off of those for her to was I suppose like playing the sky goal was to keep people so healthy that they don’t have to go on those medications. Apparently they are not that great for you. So I like those lofty goals.

Mel: Yeah that’s fantastic and I am thinking about that women who probably thought she was coming along for a little bit of education and ended up getting a whole lot more.

Amy: Right. Well I always brief the rock stars and say you really need to over deliver on this. You need to prepare this for somebody who come to see this event for 100$. So we typically will do free e-books and there is always like a little surprise once the attendees arrive. We like to over delight.

Mel: Yeah it sounds like you do just that. Now let’s finish up with talking about something that you are working on at the moment that is exciting and you are alright to share with us.

Amy: Right. Well one of the things that I am working on is a rock star academy and that is for I suppose the buddying who maybe a nutritionist or practiced and they have only been around for a couple years or something and it sort of leads them through the presentation and the art of storytelling and the fear of I suppose of retailing and yeah helps them along to build really engaging show that keeps people on the edge of the seats and over delights and all those things.

Mel: Wow that sounds fantastic and so that way you get to qualify them and you make sure that they are going to be right fit for the businesses that you connect them with right.

Amy: Yeah because finding these amazing people is pretty big itself. So I am constantly trying to find new talent. So if you know anyone. Go up to retailrockstars.com.au.

Mel: Yeah that’s right. I am sure there are plenty of people out there who have got heaps of valuable information to share. So that sounds really exciting. Where else can we find you on social media and anywhere else?

Amy: Yeah so on Facebook it is retail rockstar and on twitter it is @retail_rockstar and I am also on Instagram hah. Under retail rockstar. That has got a lot of food.

Mel: Yeah seen those pictures they are good. So these are couple of shots of your shows too that you have organized as well. Fantastic, now I am sure everyone brains are just spinning with ideas how can I create this and put this in my business and perhaps call Amy to have a chat about who she can provide for you but I think this is just an untapped opportunity Amy so thank you for sharing knowledge around what is involved and the value in it and for putting it in front of mind for us to implement that on our business as well. So thanks so much for joining us.

Amy: Well thanks for having me Mel.


Thanks for listening to the customer centric show. For additional smart ways to attract more customers, profits and freedom head on over to the website www.customercentricshow.com

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41. Customer Experience Is The Brand With Alex Allwood

41. Customer Experience Is The Brand With Alex Allwood

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with Mel Telecican (Customer-Centric Coach)

Episode 41. Customer Experience Is The Brand With Alex Allwood

You are listening to the customer centric show with Mel Telecican, where we talk with successful business owners and experts to share smart ways to attract more customers, profits and freedom by thinking about customers first. Now, here is your host Mel Telecican.

Mel: Hi and welcome to the show. Alex Allwood is my guest today. Alex Allwood is the Director of The Holla Agency and author of 'Customer Experience is the Brand'. Alex is an author, speaker and businesswoman who believes that great experiences get people talking. For over twenty years she has helped brands grow by creating simple, feel-good customer experiences that people talk about and share with their friends. In this episode we talk all things CX - customer experience on a physical and digital level. So great to have you with us Alex.

Alex: Thanks Mel.

Mel: Now my first question to you is what constitutes customer experience to you. You are obviously an expert in this field. It is more than just customer service. Would you mind breaking it down.

Alex: You I have many conversations with many business people, marketers and there is a misconception on what customer experience is and most of them would proceed that customer experience is all about customer service. That they did when we walk into bricks of water a physical destination and that’s the sales assistant behind the counter serving them. Actual fact, customer experience is a lot broader than just customer service. If that just includes customer service, that is a lot broader and really when customer experience is every interaction along the past purchase.

Mel: So you are talking about customer journey then or client journey right.

Alex: Yes and what has changed is the customer purchase journey and that’s because of our access to information through online channels. Less than a decade how we used to buy a television. We used to see an ad of television on TV or in radio station. We probably go down to our local retributions. We have a look over at all the television sets and we talk about the specifications with the sales person and then when we come home we had a talk about with our family members and friends and maybe made us over in the friend and she might make a recommendation. Then we go back and negotiate with that salesperson and television set would be delivered and that was the beginning and end of our interaction with the brand and what has changed now is the access to information and we now start our purchase journey by using online search for whatever product we are looking and there is a high probably in that search that we would recommendation from our peers through social media. Call out our friends at Facebook. What do they think we should purchase in terms of brand name? Or to give a recommendation on a particular brand experience they had and we will go to look at product reviews that other people have left and then we look at that product or service online from the website from content perspective and we might even enter a physical store until the very last moment of that purchase.

Mel: Perhaps just order online right.

Alex: Sometimes absolutely. You actually just use the physical location to look the product and feel it and then come home you buy it online. So there is many variations of the purchase journey but there is significant shift on how people purchase and it is each one of those touch points that reforms the total experience with the brand. Now what has changed is that we have retailers like amazon who are providing excellence in customers experience and so those expectations are overlaid when we deal with other retailers. That’s what we expect. We expect consistent experience whether we are in store or online.

Mel: Yes. We can dealt a little bit further into what that looks like and what say different examples of customer journeys might look like a little bit down the line but just to get a bit of context about what sort of business you are currently working with to create that I guess ideal customer journey?

Alex: Look a large of our clients and they reflect with 5 years primary health care and they are listed brand. See the primary health care brand on the street. You probably notice that if you for let’s say in Boston and you walk down the street of Boston you see Boston health care center and so they got about 80 health care center around Australia. We work with pacific magazines. Specifically better homes and gardens and everyone will be familiar with that magazine and the Yahoo website that are gardens and also television show of course and we recently we started with chef to hook up and last night we had the first television ad that we produced for them in the block. So very exciting work we are doing in customer space for those brands.

Mel: Yeah and their diverse industry. So you got health care, you got I guess entertainment and education in with real estate. So mapping out their customer journey would be completely different. I would expect.

Alex: Absolutely but you know there is we go down in this further down the track I am sure in terms of how to create great customer experience because it is not just a touch point. Not just creating another digital platform that creates customer experience.

Mel: We got lots to get to it today Alex. Now normally I start the show by asking what my guess example is a little bit down the line. What is an example for yourself Alex that you really believe does it all right in your eyes. Who is customer centric?

Alex: I would just put on the table that forester. Now forester is a global research company and they have just published their top 10 Australian customer experience brand and the top 10 customer experience brands are Bend we go brand, ING direct, RACQ who is the insurance group, commonwealth bank, RACB, Bankwest, ANZ and call new entrance and insurance which surprised me because RACQ insurance is there been for around 18 months.

Mel: Yeah can I ask you what the eremitism around what determine the top 10 is? Do you know?

Alex: Forester has their own method of measurements. They are metric in terms of customer experience measurement. Number of these brands are working with other providers to measure their customer experience in terms of satisfaction around the agency so I would say that forrester has their priority measurement piece and gone to market and measured the customer regards to these brands.

Mel: They are mostly financed.

Alex; And that wouldn’t surprise you because it is highly competitive market and many of those brands that I have listed on this are in Australian stock exchange and you have that type of marketplace that delivers competitive advantage is the customer experience.

Mel: And so taking that time to be getting feedback, putting measurement around them and then being able to strategize up from the data you have been able to collect right.

Alex: Yes and creating experience which satisfy this customer need because we know if you satisfy the customer needs, then they will across the whole of the journey we know they will pro-actively recommend that brand.

Mel: Okay great. So have you had any experience with any of those brands?

Alex: Unfortunately not.

Mel: Okay so we have to keep an eye on those thing but I guess with the advent of the insurance company like YUVI and CAUSE it is sort of different approach in terms of their advertising that I can see from the outside that I guess is sort of breaking them all. Typically a fairly straight down the line product I guess.

Alex: Well commonwealth bank making a finance brand who are too profiled in my book. Really started to change their approach 10 years ago and the vision around people technology, strength and productivity and you could really put the bank as probably the largest and the most innovative bank in the marketplace and they have invested quivery to lower their cost and increase their productivity and those investments have paid in terms of return on investment because for example you can now open a transaction account online with commonwealth bank and couple of years ago you couldn’t do that, you had to go in store and open a transactional account. Do you know that it takes 5 minutes online and over the last 2 years commonwealth bank has opened 950,000 transactional accounts which is 26% to use.

Mel: So that just made it easy right.

Alex: That’s right and that easiness that comes through technology and just back to expectation when I talk about amazon, that’s what we expect through technology. We expect to go online and thing to be easy and that’s the benchmark that is set.

Mel: Yeah so somewhere along the line, common bank had to realize and amongst the whole lot of priorities that I guess onboarding getting more people to open accounts is what drives their business and so they needed to address the problems that are holding people along those barriers to getting people to open up further accounts.

Alex: Yes and that’s just one example. They have done it one the business side as well in their business banking and now I don’t have common bank account but now their customers receive communications from the bank in the format that they want to receive and they nominate to get e-mail the traditional way or SMS or go online so they are giving their customer choices.

Mel: Now this is very interesting because for our listeners who are typically small, medium sized business owners Alex. I am sitting here thinking well we need to be able to sell back clients problems and our competitors are bigger businesses. So what do you say to our audience who might say look I don’t have the idea how does that apply to there?

Alex: I think the application is breaking the status column and doing something that’s a little bit different traditionally what they have done in the marketing space and just by the way of example. I will head into national guest coming to sit in last weekend and I wanted to book a restaurant. I do a lot of on mobile. So my expectations in that mobile space that I should be able to go online, book a seat, have it confirmed and that’s the beginning and end of the transaction.

Mel: Yeah making it simple as possible. I know that it is all done.

Alex: I get a text. That’s the automation part of it that it is very confirmed.

Mel: And that really depends to whom the clientele is so that’s your business and you got a regional business that might not be a necessity but let’s say in the city where you are Alex maybe not even just city but where there is time is important I wanted it to be easy straightforward, then that could be a priority based on who your clientele is.

Alex; Yes. Now you know as for restaurant, these application that I have just mentioned in terms of booking and confirming a reservation, these are dime and restaurant have access to that sort of technology and that’s the sort of step that small businesses can make in improving their customer experience.

Mel: Yeah so there is a product out there that you don’t need to create yourself.

Alex: Start from scratch.

Mel: Yeah absolutely. Now let’s a little bit about more about the purchase journey that you were talking about. I know you have got a retailer on your book so you have that in your past, could you give us an example of what that purchase journey could be for a customer and what sort of work you would do with them to try to improve their customer experience and all those touch points along the way.

Alex: Yeah so first really is understanding those touch points or those points that the customer goes through from the customer’s perspective. This is what we call an outside in perspective. Many brands will undertake what we call customer purchase journey or customer purchase mapping from the perspective of the inside out and that’s what they are comfortable with and that is around the room and hypothesis what the experience the customer has but a true journey mapping is looking from the customer's perspective and so you would start by looking at maybe touch points they are using. Their online touch points right from the website, the content that they consume the social media interaction they have, the ads they look at. Right through to the purchase but what we are looking at is we are looking at not just what they touched but what they are feeling and what they seeing and what they are experiencing in that process and we do that many times over. We do that through observation to get deep understanding about that customer is connecting at that touch point.

Mel: So focus so you can actually get existing customers or potential customers. How does that work or both?

Alex: We like to do customers that consumers on board word that have touched the brand and haven’t bought anything and we also like to do customers within the brand segments so that we have very balanced view of interactions.

Mel: So that allows you than for the people who have been exposed to the brand but might not have purchased. That means you can potentially discover what it is that helps them back from making the purchase with you and went into the competitions.

Alex: Outputs of that. We understand where the gaps are in that journey. Where we call pain points. For example pain point might be the customer gets to apply online and make application online but can’t do that online, has to print out the application and fill it out. Scan it and send it back. We will call that a pain point.

Mel: Yeah so it starts to detract from a brand or you can complete drop off.

Alex: With experience you try to copy out and they don’t have time or you don’t have scanner so you can’t send it back etc. and then we also look at what we call moments of truth and those are the interactions where customers spend more time with the brand and making purchasing decisions at that point.

Mel: Okay so moment of truth is the actual sale.

Alex: Not the actual sale it can be touch points that contribute to the end sale. It might be that they are spending a lot time and they are looking at travel and they going store to flat center and they spend a lot of time with the consultant and that is a very positive interaction and that is where they made most of their purchasing decision. We will call that a moment of truth as well.

Mel: Okay excellent. Thanks for perking that for me. So you start with the focus groups and the observations and you find out what those pain points are. What is the next step beyond that?

Alex: We then have a look at systems and processes because what sits behind that touch point from the organization perspective. One of the people that sit behind that, one of their system that sit behind that and one of the processes that sit behind that because often you got a pain point, it is not actually a problem that is sitting on there, it may be a technology problem or it may be a processes problem in terms of it hasn’t been processed to streamline that customer from one touch point to the next. So we look at processes and people and systems as well. So what we have at the end is a very big picture of the total customer experience.

Mel: And so then it is about being able to implement change so that it become more streamlined yes?

Alex: That’s right. So the people within the organization look at that and say alright well we know our customer is spending a lot of time here and here or they don’t have any information here or here and they are having bad experience here, this is where we are going to optimize those touch points or this is where we re-design completely a new experience for them.

Mel: Okay. Now in terms of focus groups, how would a business owners because you are doing this with big business and so you are facilitating getting those focus groups together. Do you have any advice for business owners listening how they could do that for themselves or would you suggest that it is only done in outsourced way because the question mark that I would have is someone who do it themselves, is it going to be a good choice of focus group or are they just going to tell us what they hear and it is not actually going to create we are looking to discover or find those pain points?

Alex: There are always a case for putting a lot of rigger around your research. However I would flip that to say not to understand the customer from the customer perspective because you don’t have a spare change 10,000$ in your pocket is an opportunity missed and so if you have a clientele that you have good relationship, why don’t ask them to be part of a focus group and they get a little reward and they might get a free meal for them and their partner on Tuesday night for coming along and sharing their thought and experience on that brand.

Mel: Now that’s great advice because then you can transparently say look I am looking to make improvements and progress and I am looking to put these heads together to make it better and you can be part of that.

Alex: Yes, they just staff together and collaborate with them in terms of questions that they think they should be asked, go online. There is some huge amount of information on running focused groups and research programs in terms of what questions should be asked and how they should be proposed. Film it so that you get people's feedback and that you re-watch down the track in terms of the outcome from that research.

Mel: Yeah and I think for people listening it may seem like okay it is a really great idea but what am I going to do that and I think what you are telling us too is that the time spent here discovering where those issues are, those gaps and pain points resolving those allows your business to move forward if you can put new strategies and new processes that eases those things. So Alex can you share an example of success stories that you have been able to facilitate in terms of really boosting that customer engagement or that use that experience that did care to share with us.

Alex: Look there is a number of examples and I would like to touch on the work that have just done for LJ hook up because that started with a very big piece of research done by an external research company called Jugs and they wanting to understand who the modern day real estate purchase and seller was and you know what is the process that they go through in terms of selecting and agent and what were their experience with the brand and other real estate brand and what were the experiences that made them choose 1 brand over the next and we were able then to have a look at the brand purpose. Why they do what they do? What we did is we ran a brand definition that we call a brand definition workshop and this was a collaborative workshop across stakeholders to really understand what the purpose of the brand was and we are lucky to have a such great participants in that workshops that we want to come to a point where we are able to define the brand purpose.

Mel; Now you written a few articles around this talking about a values. Can you unpack that a little bit for us just quickly and tell us how that integrates into purpose there.

Alex: I think that’s as part of looking at your purpose, that also tells into the values of the organization and really if you can align your values with the customers that we call shared values, then your people will start to be on the same path in terms of providing great customer value. We talk to our customers about a aligning mindset and aligning attitude and behavior around customer centricity and when you have shared the value, you can do that and values are authentic reflection of the organization. They are not going to be to the same. They are going to reflect that company and that doesn’t matter whether that a large multi-national company like LG hook up or commonwealth bank or a small five shop that sell clothes. They all have values that are underlined and are roadmap for our business.

Mel: Okay so in terms of success then beyond the research side of things then the strategy I guess and then rolling that out, what sort of metrics are around the determining if that has been successful or not. Is it straight away attributed to margin or what are the metrics around it?

Alex; We would recommend measure customer satisfaction or higher than that we measure customer advocacy because if you could measure advocacy and whether a person is to recommend that brand, we know that for example there is a nice piece of research that you know someone is 4 times more likely to purchase a product or service, if it is recommended by a family or a person or friend and those are bottom line steps. What you are doing is you are decreasing your marketing in terms of new customer accusation, you are decreasing you term that is your customer is going to stay longer because they are satisfied and you are increasing your product. So always we would say measure as your satisfaction. If you can’t measure your advocacy.

Mel: Right so in terms of advocacy, you are going back to the original focus group. Are you starting with a whole new group? How does that work?

Alex: Well there is a lot of customer satisfaction programs available. You only have to google customer satisfaction measurements or customer satisfaction programs. That will become very sophisticated of what of those customer programs that will blow their level and you got things like survey monkey. Survey monkey gives you the most wonderful tools to measure customer satisfaction. They have props to let you ask the right questions in right way. They got benchmark in terms of which question is going to get best results for you and how you use those questions in combination. Fantastic little program to get you in the game of measuring your customer and whether you are doing the right things.

Mel: Yeah great advice. Easy to use. So successful for everyone. Now just wanted to ask you around result wise. What would you consider to be a considerable improvement? So in terms of say if you were giving a star rating, 5 stars being the top and you starting at 3 star, is enough to step to a 4 star or we are looking for bigger gains all the time?

Alex: One star increase is a big improvement. If you had 20% increase, you are doing well.

Mel: Let’s talk percentages then. Is there any sort of expectations around what that big investment on big scale, what sort of gains would a customer expect when they take on this process?

Alex I always get my customers that I work with to before we even start, set out the objectives of what they want from that program and it would be different from any organization and it would be different for the level of investment they can take on and it would be different also in terms of the organization mindset to transformation. So there is access to what we call net promoter score of benchmark research. There is not a lot of that in Australia. In actual fact just going back to survey monkey if you want to ask about advocacy, they started to benchmark like industry. So you can have a start to look at what is in terms of performance what is good benchmark for your industry? For example my advertising communication and industry is in single digits. Our benchmark advocacy is round about in here and there is not actually a brand company net promoter score. It is round about 38 combo of that is I got to cool my socks up.

Mel: Yeah so it is going to be different from business to business and I guess different have varying degrees of potential so if you are performing really well already then small gains are big wins.

Alex; that’s right and that is very important before any business takes the first steps is to set their objectives because that is going to be their own benchmark of whether they improved or not.

Mel: So setting achievable target is key. Alright well thanks for explaining in detail. Now I do love your insight. You got so much experience here. What do you think are some key things businesses should be doing to their clients to better the in store experience and beyond the sale.

Alex: You know this is probably the most difficult question to ask because each business or each industry has its own unique problems but as some guidelines I think that change to better the customer experience comes from measurement. Calls to customer focus. The next question I ask is oh how are you measuring that? Oh salespeople tell us or customer service people tell us that our customers are really happy. So the first thing every business needs to do is measure because what gets measured gets done and they know what they are starting out from. They really might be great experience customer business but without measuring it is all done.

Mel: And like you said the example of using survey monkey, having those questions and making sure that planned out well and then being able to ask those exact same questions down the line so that you can actually I guess cost reference the data yeah?

Alex: Yeah absolutely. Any change or a re-direction needs to come from the top of organization. Whether that be a large multi-national or the managing director of a smaller business. It needs to be driven from the top. To try the change in the business and you don’t have the CEO or the managing director on board is nearly impossible because they are the great drivers to change.

Mel: Yeah to actually get that follow-up I guess because plenty of businesses I think would probably do the first bit and the maybe not go back and track as you said and see if there has been any progress.

Alex: Also take that investment of change to happen. You want to be improving systems processes and culture touch points, then you need certain level of investment. In some cases not huge investment. But you need investment to make those changes I think the third point is to reward and incentivize staff for creating great experience and I think that recognition for especially in customer service is sadly lacking in Australian businesses. So just to get people staff on the same page in terms of customer centricity, putting customers first to reward great feedback and if a customer has given good feedback, they got to travel to do that. They had to write a letter and send it email, make a telephone call, spend their time going through way to tell they had a great experience. So I think to get everybody on the same page, reward is a great way to influence the organization.

Mel So people can actually feel that they are contributing and it is that recognition as you say.

Alex: Always here we go again, the managing directors are like we all did customer centric map.

Mel: Right. Here we go the focus has changed and now this is the new thing.

Alex: This is the new thing. This is 2016. We know that behavior change within organization takes time.

Mel; Do you have any tips in addition to rewarding how else you can get your staff to buy into this whole process because if you are going and changing things that people are used to but not everyone is okay with that so do you have any recommendation for how you can make that process I guess easier for your people? Because you don’t want to sort of dumb stuff because we are trying it on everybody, any thoughts?

Alex: Most effective way using key performance indicator and including those in people KPIs and performance reviews and I think put that on the table because it is more used in larger companies. Smaller companies don’t usually have KPIs. Our business is smaller and we have KPI so you can include the customer satisfaction score as part of the KPI and giving them feedback and empowering them to help the customer is best direction. That’s what commonwealth bank did. One of their initiatives was to empower their customer service people to provide solutions directly at the point to contact rather than going up and asking the supervisor or manager to make the change for that customer so it is about re-service program.

Mel: That’s great because that’s just another way of how you are needing to tailor things. So that person in the role can do that job properly and giving the customer the experience that they need which is obviously time saving and actually getting the process completed.

Alex: Yes I mean improving internal processors such as turnaround times, where a customer can interact in terms of service points and reducing error rates and provide better communication in all ways to help deliver higher satisfaction and that information comes from mapping the opportunity and getting that first party data.

Mel: And with that mapping I just want to ask how often should you go back to and make sure that journey is still as it was because it should be changing each time you make the new changes right.

Alex: Yes so you re-test those touch points that you have changed and you would optimize and get it right all the time and so use and test that with your focus group. Maybe different focus group and see what their experience was with that optimization or re-design or the new touch point.

Mel: Excellent. Before we finish up I want to ask you about how to improve the customer experience when you are dealing with millionaires. You have written an article about it and obviously we are talking about a different approach. Do you have any insights and advice that you can share with us from your understanding and your experience in that space?

Alex: Okay these guys are super connective and they want real time everything and they had access to information anywhere anytime through their mobile phones. So if your service or brand is not relevant to them. Just copy from it. Personalization plays a big part in their brand choices and again we talked about expectation and these expectations have been set by the likes of amazon and apple who are providing personation to a whole new example. For example when you go to a number of new sites they allow you to log in through Facebook. You don’t have to worry about starting account with usernames and remembering passwords and they made it really easy. In return from that they get all access to your data through Facebook but millionaires, they are high comfortable with that tradeoff for ease of access, they have prepared to share their data with that brand and you are maybe in the amazon eco system it is offering your personal ways in terms of buying preference, you might have bought particular product and service on amazon. They make suggestions. That’s one personalization. They have freedom and is one way of personalizing the experience.

Mel: Right so you are for instance suggesting or you bought this and you probably would like this. It is profiling is it?

Alex: Yes absolutely and this is the way that brands are now connection with millionaires and don’t forget the odds.

Mel: It is almost becoming what other age groups are expecting because they are exposed to it right.

Alex: Yes and the share of their wallet of growing as they age and don’t forget they share absolutely everything with their friends and peers in social media. So if you are not providing a great experience for them, they are experienced.

Mel: And what’s your thoughts on advocacy? Are they publicly quick to share the negatives, are you finding them equally willing to share/recommend a business that does things well?

Alex: Hey I am in this 3rd shop looking at this dress, it is fantastic, I have just taken photo. What do you think? They call out to their friends you know hey you know come down they got jeans for 29, they are sharing everything. Goods and bad.

Mel: Right. So there is a great opportunity there is you are doing everything right in terms of creating that ideal customer experience.

Alex: Yes absolutely.

Mel: Alex this has been great. I have really enjoyed chatting with you. I could keep asking you questions for the next hour or so but I can’t so but to finish off I want to know what is something that you have just finished the book that’s published recently, it looks fantastic. I am about to read it. I haven’t read it.

Alex: You said it on air, not me and now I am going to hit you up for a review on amazon.

Mel: Absolutely for sure. Now you definitely know a lot in this space. Now Alex just before we go can you please share with us all your contact detail so people can find you?

Alex: So Alex Allwood on LinkedIn. Reach out and connect and don’t be afraid. I love new connections. You can follow me on twitter @alexallwood, you can buy the book on amazon, you can read a little bit more about me on alexallwood.com.au.

Mel: Fantastic and you can see some of the work that you have been doing over there at the whole agency as well.

Alex: Yes there is plenty of business now.

Mel: Yeah. All those details everyone are going to be on show notes so all the links would be there. Make sure that you check that out. Alex thanks so much for the insight today, really valuable stuff in there that I am sure people can start putting into action and be really great to see some smaller, medium sized businesses putting this into action and getting better results as a result.

Alex: And thanks Mel for the invitation to join you on the show today. It has been absolute pleasure and hopefully you could join me on my client shows.

Mel: Yeah absolutely that sounds like a plan. Thanks Alex.


Thanks for listening to the customer centric show. For additional smart ways to attract more customers, profits and freedom head on over the website www.customercentricshow.com

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36. Adam Houlahan On How To Master Social Media

36. Adam Houlahan On How To Master Social Media

Read Full Transcript

with Mel Telecican (Customer-Centric Coach)

Episode 36. Adam Houlahan On How To Master Social Media

You are listening to the customer centric show with Mel Telecican, where we talk with successful business owners and experts to share smart ways to attract more customers, profits and freedom by thinking about customers first. Now, here is your host Mel Telecican.

Mel: Hi and welcome to the show. Today’s episode I am talking with Adam Houlahan. Adam is social media strategist & linkedin expert. So much so that he has the top one percent most viewed LinkedIn profile worldwide. In fact he use his profile in their own marketing campaigns. He has a highest rate of Pinterest account and he has a follow up base in excess of 400,000 people globally across his networks and that is still growing by thousands of new followers every week. He presents specializing in social media for small and medium sized businesses and consults to private clients here in Australia, North America, the Philippines, Singapore and the Middle East. It is great to have you on the show Adam, thanks for joining us.

Adam: Hi Mel thanks for inviting me.

Mel: Excellent. Now we start the show Adam with an example of a customer centric business. Somebody tells me that you have come across quite a few or at least you helped them get there. But what’s your example today?

Adam: Probably say one that is not that I worked with directly though would love to. But I say Apple and just everything they do is world class. I mean their Iphone 6s that just came out last couple of days is just an amazing piece of technology and the way they just walk out of the place light in the pocket but small in all the way up though.

Mel: Yeah. That satisfaction beyond the front door. I am not actually an apple customer so I don’t understand it. But everyone who does have apple product seems to be very happy with it. Not just in the heat in the moment I guess in the store but actually afterwards as well.

Adam: Yeah we got a family of five kids and we got apple everything. Ipads, phones, laptops and so our house is just using apple store so yeah we love it.

Mel: Yeah well and truly committed. That’s great. Now like you said you haven’t been I guess with social media or you know since its advent. So tell us how it started and what it was that actually led you into developing such a passion that you have been able to boost your profile and do such great work with your clients as well.

Adam: Probably it goes right back to when I was growing up, my family always had slow and medium businesses in the hotels, restaurants, takeaway fish shops, and fish and chip shops and bakery one time. So always had that background around small business and once I had my own businesses when I spend about 24 or start of my first business and was all very much in a retail backgrounds. So you know very customer focused and when I solved out of that I was doing some consulting work for a company that did all the retail and we were sort of looking at what other companies around the world similar to these guys doing and what they would do in really well and why they were standout leaders in the marketplace and what it turned out to be was that these guys were just really good earlier adopters of social media. Like you said in the intro at that point I didn’t know anything about social media. I think I had my own Facebook profile the one we all have and that was about it and I probably check it once a month continuously. But that just sparked off an interest in social media for business applications. So just that well I can really that this is going to be part of business every more and something for my businesses or consulting or whatever I better get across and so it sort of get from that standing start into what I call passion and what my wife said obsession which was probably right but yeah big learning curve from that standing startup where we are today.

Mel: Absolutely because when I recall my start in social media and when I was using business, there was no photos for instance on Facebook. It was literally just commentary if I got my dates right and then yeah there was the inclusion of imagery and all that sort of stuff that came with it and now the hashtags and all the other stuff. So it is constantly changing and you obviously have your fingers on the polls all the time. I am just going to take a little side step here because I would like to have a bit of picture of what your opinion is around what social media platform works best for what industry. So obviously Instagram and Pinterest have very high image based social media platforms so things that people can connect with visually. But do you have any more insights into what tends to work best for which industry?

Adam: You pretty much hit the nail right on the head in the start there and the key thing is actually and even we probably think of the top sort of five or six platforms. It is actually about four hundred different social media platforms in existence today and of course a lot of those are industry or country specific. For example China. Because market in the world you know. So it comes down to right sort of platforms and for the right industries and like you said if you are in the restaurant business then Instagram and Pinterest is definitely is something if you are in retail and you should be doing. If you are in any form of consulting or service based business, Twitter is fantastic. Of course I haven’t mentioned Facebook. I call it necessary evil. It doesn’t matter what industry you are in, you pretty much need to be on Facebook these days and however the days of just free ride with Facebook are gone. So you need to have a little bit of your market in budget sort of side investing into your Facebook presence and if you do that you set to have a great experience using Facebook.

Mel: Yes. I was actually speaking to some e-commerce retailers recently and their whole marketing campaign is all Facebook and they are killing it. They are doing well but they have to go through that whole process of trying things, testing and measuring and making sure that there is a fair bit of money they said. But in the end, it is actually been that consistent result that they have been getting for last six months that is driving a whole lot of business. So it is really fascinating to see how different people or different businesses are implementing it. Now can you tell us who your target market is? Who you generally work with and what you do for them that makes you the go to guy because there are so many social media people out there but you really seem to be cutting through and you have got those results. Who do you like working with and what is it that you do that’s different?

Adam: It is a good question. I generally work with entrepreneurs who want to position themselves like though leaders and industry influences but also some businesses as well. But usually in sort of larger sort of size companies that are slightly bigger marketing budgets and that sort of thing, probably why you know our clients have been loyal to us and refer us to other people constantly is because we pretty guarantee an outcome and it is not the cheesy amount that we do this and money back type of stuff. We really sit down with them at the start and we look at what their outcomes and goals are and what they want to get out of it and quite often we say look it just doesn’t work and so we walk away and said we probably aren’t the company for you guys to work with and we quite open and out front about that but then if we do then we map out our plan and said look this is what we are going to do and this is the KPIs that we got to hit certain points and then these are the outcomes you are going to retrieve and of course we make that happen and that’s the real key why most of our clients are exceptionally happy and referring us to other people all the time.

Mel: That’s good. Now can I ask you about that first step which is identifying the outcomes and the goals because when I think about the people I have spoken with, I am not convinced that everybody is clear on what those outcomes should be. What sort of outcomes are reasonable? Let’s say for a small retail business that has 5000 turnover. If we are looking at a really successful campaign, what sort of gains can we be looking at making through a social media campaign that’s ongoing?

Adam: Sure. The first thing we sort of stress on that and this is what we do when we sit down and we really go a lot deeper than just surface like that because we are returning over 500,000 and so it is a benchmark. What it doesn’t tell me in the questions that we go into is okay what your systems is like. Are you stretched that 500,000. If I generate an extra 100,000 goals with the revenue and in next three months, can your systems deal with that as a post to a company to say we are doing 500,000 but we scaled up and got capability to go up to 2 million. Whole different ball game.

Mel: That’s people power that’s being able to manage web traffic or if you go online retail facility or whatever. Okay great. So that’s a first step you look at and go well. Is it really achievable? Can you manage it? Are you going to be sustain it? Specially that influx early on. Okay let’s say you do have that, then what is the next step?

Adam: Yeah so once you have all value in place and that goes really down as far to just really little things like the service dedicated web server like godaddy or something where your websites are out there with hundreds of others like a crash with massive amount of influx of traffic all of a sudden. When you sort all those little tiny issues then yes you are right there is really no magic bullet that’s going to say okay we do this campaign and tomorrow you are going to have this sales or clients or anything like that because it really comes down to and again I suppose this is where we differentiate from and like you said there is no shortage of social media companies around and we don’t really focus in those areas and we focus on long term outcomes and some of that is around positioning the owner and industry influencer. If they speak in outside of their own business or whatever we are going to use those things to their advantage and really build either there or company profile as the real information they share how they go about doing things and a lot of that is not focused on directly on sales. Of course at the end it is that is all going to be about? So it is really about creating those long term sustainable outcomes. Okay so 10,000 dollars in Facebook campaign, we create 100,000 dollars of worth sales tomorrow and then you certainly can do that in business no argument about that. It is not the type of social media we focus on.

Mel: So it is more of a long term approach and something you said earlier there I think is really important is that it is not just about the sales, it is actually bringing people through to your website where they can actually learn more about what they do and they can build that trust and understanding of what it is that you offer that separate you from everybody else in the businesses and office and is better than everybody else.

Adam: Yes that’s exactly right and the other thing is why you always want to bring people to your website as a post to social media profiles because at the end of the day the only thing that you really do own is your database and your website. Facebook owns Facebook that’s basic. They change the rules all the time what you could do 12 months ago and you can’t do now. I know a lot of strategies that people would promote on Facebook as an example some time ago and none of them works same as LinkedIn. So you constantly have this evolution that is happening within social media but that evolution doesn’t happen necessarily on your own database. So the reality is your social media should be used to position yourself as a board leader or business to go to that industry. But drive everything always back to your website and build your database there and do your conversion sales there.

Mel: Yeah absolutely. So it is not all about likes and not about hearts on Instagram. It is not all about pins on Pinterest. It is actually whether they are coming back to your website and being able to I guess convert there and get a sale. Thanks for explaining that Adam because I think the thing that most people or a lot of people would think is the driver that we want to get likes you know. It seems to get that social proof to everybody else that we have got x amount of likes in our Facebook page when in fact I guess it is really sort of superficial and surface level because if it is not coming over to the website and if it is not driving traffic there, it is not going to be doing the job long term. And I have heard the expression Adam to don’t build the house on a rental lock which was a really great example of the changing parameters of those social media platforms all the time. So only way to do is support them all over. Is there any easy way to port everybody over or is it just about inviting people to get something like a newsletter or what do you suggest is a great way to do that?

Adam: I think one of the key things is blogging. Having a great blog on your website because of course you can create incredible information that is totally yours and then you can break that blog post into multiple social media posts that go on different platforms and drive traffic back to that blog post and of course to your website. So blogging is definitely one of the best ways if certainly not the only way but like you said having a great offer on your site always have like a free cause on my website and I constantly promote that through social media to bring targeted people back that would interested in those type of courses. So blogging and good opt in free product is definitely a great way to use social media to get people across these sites.

Mel: Okay good stuff. Now you have got a huge profile as we keep talking about. Now do you have staff that help you manage that? Do you outsource? What are you doing there to keep this all going? Because I am assuming it is not just done by yourself.

Adam: Ha-ha. In the early days it was I certainly did it all myself when I get started but now you are right I do have a whole team that is just amazing and they not only run my social media but obviously stuff that we do with our clients and the businesses that we do with and that team is 100 percent outsourced. So we have partnered with certain people who have all sort of skills so they don’t necessarily work just for us and we do have others that do exclusively just work with us and all of them pretty much work from home. They are all over the world. We have partners that we work with in Ukraine, Panama, Canada, the US and of course here in Australia and it was a really goal that we had Melissa. My wife Julie and I don’t only wanted to run this business, we wanted to build it so that we could live anywhere in the world and it is our goal in few years of time to live 6 months overseas and 6 months here. So we didn’t want a business that was geographically tied to only one location. So that was a very deliberate sort of thing that we built that way right from day one.

Mel: Right and interestingly they are not getting people from the same service. So you are saying they are in different parts of the world. Is it because particular via independent hiring or you are hiring through companies who specialize in particular things.

Adam: No we pretty much about people that are working with us directly.

Mel: And so business owners listening are looking to then outsource their social media and to get somebody to do that sort of via capacity. Do you have any advice around what they could be doing to make sure that they get the right person? And make sure that they streamline the processes of onboarding them as well.

Adam: Yeah look even though we had this deliberate sort of approach to do that directly. I would definitely suggest that when you are getting started is to probably use a via service like easy via or others because that learning curve, we have about five via that we work with directly but we probably went through 25 to get to those 5. So there is quite a learning curve and trial in error as you said that you can suck up a lot of time and energy going through whereas the volume paddle of getting through professional service that you are not going to deal with that level of training and learning in first and if you really willing to have 1 or 2 people then it is probably easy to have someone else manage this.

Mel: Okay great. Let’s say I want to outsource my social media for the customer centric show, would I just literally tell them that this is what I am looking for, do I give them images, do I give them content or do I get them to generate. What do you suggest people do? Is it something they create and then turn into art works?

Adam: It is always like everything would come down to budget. So if you only got a few hundred dollars a week to invest in that then you are going to have to do some of that work and some of that work would be around the images that you said because as we pointed out earlier social media is a very image centric now and video centric. The other thing you always keep in mind is once you think I am going to outsource social media, what you are doing is you are outsourcing and putting in the hands of somebody else that the whole branding and everything would be business so you want to be really sure that they are posting the right type of content and whatever. So even you outsource, it is probably still going to have to have some degree of interaction with that person or team or whatever. You really can’t 100 percent outsource anything like that.

Mel: Hmm so I guess if you had a staff member with you in the same office on the same building, you would still have your meeting, you should still talk about what you are trying to achieve, what the KPIs are and you be having a look I guess over what is going out before it actually gets posted on your behalf.

Adam: Exactly. And there is a lot of tools you can use these days who hoot sweep which is scheduling tool. So you can have your team scheduling stuff advance fully and then you can obviously go. So they are doing all the ground work that you can go in advance of that stuff going out on to your social media and double checking all within your sort of brand guidelines and your company's belief and that sort of thing. So it is something and it is really not an out source to get type of opportunity.

Mel: Yes you got to control your image in that perception of what your business offers. Absolutely. Now let’s talk about effective marketing campaigns that you have been involved with. Can you share with us example. Obviously no business name is required but maybe industry and how you deliver and what that result was?

Adam: Yeah I mean we do have non-disclosure agreements with our clients so we talk specifically about who they are and a good example of a current one that we are working with is a guy that is about to become international speaker. He is in the middle of writing a book right now and has very good industry credibility and so we pretty much built a whole online persona for him very much through LinkedIn. Then of course through Facebook profile, Twitter profile or whatever and he is literally form the credibility that he has gained out of that in the last eight months, tripled his prices and when I say triple he went from programs that were sort of 6 to 10,000 dollars for his programs. I think his top program and I know he has actually solved some of these quite recently are in the 40 to 45,000 dollars to work within. So the way of really proud of is to be part of and especially one he gets his book out that is going to go in whole other level again.

Mel: And so that’s that content that you are talking about before like blogging content and putting all the knowledge and all that information I guess around the work that he does and the knowledge that he has and putting that out in those platforms. Is that what you meant?

Adam: Yeah exactly right and just all the images that he uses with these posts trained via to work with him and support him but also driving into the readiness of his business to be capable of dealing with all that sort of stuff. So his website wasn’t ready. We knew it would crash if it got the level of interaction that would go on to generate and build a new site and so which is a lot deeper into all those little things that make sure they are ready before all that hits.

Mel: Right okay. So that’s about eight months you said so just making sure that everything else around it so that over time and there are no issues when you have completely built up that profile, everything is all smooth sailing yeah.

Adam: Yeah exactly.

Mel: Okay interesting. So much the same is with the business you generally need to make sure that everything else is in place so when it is go time it is everything is fine to go and there is no hick ups along the way. Great, thanks for sharing that story. Now you talked before about how you value in having a database. I am a big believer in that having built a database for my business. Can you tell us how you build your database for your own business. Port your customer from your social media account to over.

Adam: Yeah obviously I have built it through social media but to be fair social media and speaking in events because if you key note that in an event that I am doing one next month in Singapore and usually anything from 50 to 500 people in that room and of course if you have a great sort of call to action at the end of that talk to get people to head over to your website for some reason, then you can definitely increase your database that way. Apart from that is definitely having a free product on my website and getting people to go to that specific product and opt in for that product so that’s the most successful one and of course because of my expertise or passion really a lot around in and so a lot of my clients connect with me through LinkedIn and so of course my free courses is all around having an exceptional presence on LinkedIn so database is obviously of high thousands of people through that.

Mel: Okay so that works really well for a person who is a consult or specialist. So there is that education component to it. But let’s talk about retail business. What could that they be doing to help port that over. So in terms of free stuff, is it content free? Is it the same sort of room or have you said any other examples of how retails have been able to do that as well?

Adam: Yeah we work with a really big retailer at the moment and they are actually rolling out to about 30 countries around the world and what they do is they have an opt in on their site for every week they give away a product and so there is opt in today and you could win this particular product this week and it is a different one the week after and whatever. That’s a one good way. My preference though to be honest is really around if you had and let’s just say pick a specific industry, let’s say you sell sporting shoes, you could create a checklist or a whitepaper or something like that that’s around how to stop get cranks from running or injuries and that sort of thing.

Mel: Yeah so educational content that’s related to the reason for your purchase.

Adam: Exactly. So it doesn’t have to be about your product or about your service. It can be about the outcomes that your product or service generate or how you can enhance the outcome of what it is that your customer is buying and that is very valuable information. It is something that might take you a little bit of time initially just write that or create that or create into a nice document and everything like that and much have done that. That simple pdf or anything can generate you thousands of people to opt into your database.

Mel: Okay great and so I see that it is a perfect example of what they call help for marketing. So how long you suggest people trial to see if that is getting a lot of people converting to your list? How long? Would you give it a month or three months, two weeks? What would you say is a reasonable amount of time to see if it is a good uptake?

Adam: I think you really need to give it a few months and because the other thing you got to test multiple ways to bring in people to that offer. So you remember these are people who are only on your website. You are deliberately bringing them to your website to get this product. So did you do campaigns through Facebook? Was it from a speaking event? You got to be able to determine where that traffic came from and that you are actually targeting the right type of people and that’s one of the biggest mistakes get made in online marketing is targeting the wrong type of client.

Mel: Right okay. So is that where leadpages come into things?

Adam: Yes like a landing page would certainly be a good testing measure. I am not a real fan of using lead pages or those things in long term but definitely using them to get your message right because you can quickly tweak and change things, split test pages that sort of thing. Once you got something that really works, then far better that you put that directly on your website and bring people directly to an outsourced landing page.

Mel: Right. Thank you for explaining that because that is something that I am not 100% so there is a bit of clarity there too so thank you. Now you touched on it before talking about recommendations and referrals for business. You said that is important for you. Do you have any suggestions for how people can help generate that because often if there is positive feedback it is not always shared? It is not always freely to say negative feedbacks. So do you have any insights that you can share with us of how people can do that? Potentially from a social media perspective as well.

Adam: It doesn’t matter what industry you are in. Whether you own a company, whether you managing apartment. You should really have an exceptional LinkedIn profile.

Mel: Even if say you own a restaurant or you own a clothing store?

Adam: Anything. Everybody should have a good personal LinkedIn profile. Not necessarily a company one but a personal one and some of the great features of LinkedIn is recommendations. So people can go onto your LinkedIn profile and go a written recommendation about how they worked with you or interacted with you or anything like that. Of course that means that there do have to be a connection but they are very highly regarded and people that are looking to do business with you guarantee you that they will go and checkout your LinkedIn profile and you got really positive recommendations and good feedback from clients on there. Your influence and credibility is higher.

Mel: So would you say that people are at this stage have still lot of people not using LinkedIn.

Adam: Look Mel you will be surprised that LinkedIn is over 350 million people right now so you are not the first one in the party but the interesting statistics that I liked and talked about is that actually two new profiles that appear on LinkedIn every second. So it is still a very fast growing profile platform I should say. LinkedIn own internal goals are to end up somewhere around 3 billion people on LinkedIn so I am not sure that they will ever get to that but certainly at some point in the future hit a billion Facebook.

Mel: Yeah. So you mentioned recommendations before. What abdicate on getting recommendations? Do you ask people? Do you just hope that they will? What do you suggest your clients do?

Adam: It is always that fine line between begging for stuff and I think that you lead into a conversation so you are having a conversation with a client or a customer and they are really delighted by what you have done for them and so what my clients do is send requests on LinkedIn. Would you mind doing a recommendation for me? I can send you a link that makes it really easy to do that and that’s one of the great things about LinkedIn is that you can actually just send link to my profile to the recommendation section and once you started doing that LinkedIn will even give you tips on how to write it. So make it really easy for that person to do it and so as long as and it is really that big difference between just begging someone and asking someone for a recommendation when you really have no interactional prior involvement with them as a post to someone who is genuinely going to give you a valuable recommendation.

Mel: Yes of course. Is that for the premium service or is it opened to all users?

Adam: No it is opened to anybody.

Mel: Okay interesting. Now my last three question are around increasing customers, increasing profit and getting some more freedom in your business. What is your top tip if you had to choose one to attract more customers what would you suggest on the haul tip.

Adam: Oh well obviously have an exceptional online presence and social media strategy around achieving that.

Mel: Okay then I got to ask you this quickly. What would you say your top five social media platforms would be for you? Obviously LinkedIn, obviously Facebook.

Adam: Yeah Facebook wouldn’t be my top five but I am going to prefer this by saying nobody needs five. You really need probably three it is enough and it is the thing you can get really down and try to be in all places in social media and you really don’t need to be. So I am going to say that LinkedIn is my number one by far. Twitter is number two. Pinterest believe it or not is number three and Pinterest surprisingly is one of the biggest drivers of traffic to website of all social media profiles. It is certainly a new strategy that you need to go about using Pinterest. But if you get that right then it really can be big performer for you. So it is certainly my number three. Instagram is my number four and let’s throw Facebook number five but as I said you probably only realistically need to have three.

Mel: Okay can I ask you a question. A lot of people have asked me and I need the answer. What is the difference then between Pinterest and Instagram? I understand that Pinterest has boards and I got a Pinterest account and I understand Instagram is that constant feed but what is the big differentiator for those two. Say people are going all on the side. Which one?

Adam: Again it come down to what type of strategy but Instagram is a branding tool and you can run some competitions through Instagram. For example you are in a restaurant industry, you might have people in the restaurant and you might have a little incentive that if I like a free desert or whatever if they took a selfie of themselves with a meal and hashtag to get that out. I see putting out a big reach that way, it is just an example of how you use Instagram. Pinterest and the thing with Instagram is no way to someone can click on something in Instagram and they come through to your website. So it is purely a branding type of a platform. As a post to Pinterest and the big difference as you pointed out is you have different boards so the thing is people don’t tend to be these days necessarily follow a profile on Pinterest. They follow boards on Pinterest. I have actually 15,000 followers on Pinterest overall but if you look at any of my individual's boards, there is not a 150,000 followers on any one board. Whether my social media board might have 20,000 and I have one B1G1 global initiative blog that I am involved with that has a whole different number. So the market is very much interested in specific things and you can metalize where those type of people are and make sure that you actually are just putting the right type of information in front of the right type of people as a post to what you said with Instagram is just that constant feedback. You are just going to be exposed to everything. It is not just targeted Pinterest.

Mel: What would you say is then is an example of a way that you can get more freedom in business? I think we have talked about before of bringing on Vas. Any other tips to getting yourself a bit more space and still being able to achieve things in social media?

Adam: Yeah having a great team around whether that is Vas or internally is always going to be the thing that gives you great freedom. But I think also great systems so that you can be away from the business and can still login and see what is going on as you need and of course great products. By products I mean turning your service to products. So it is very simple. Get away from that having to quote of anything that you do if you are in that service based space. It is just we have this product or that or this product or that and this is how it works and which one would you like that top thing.

Mel: Okay excellent. Now I am going to have to ask you just one last question Adam because you mentioned before and that’s around hashtags. Where do business owners discover what hashtags are actually going to value to add to their social media content?

Adam: Look it is something that you need to do a little bit of research on because hashtags can be about somethings specific in time or they can be a longer term brand so you got in about which one is the right one and which one to use at the right time.

Mel: So you mean what is trending currently being part of those conversation and telling it to connect it to your business? Is that what you meant?

Adam: If it is relevant yes. It might not be a hashtag that you normally use but it happens to be trending at a specific point in time and provided that your business has some relevance to that, you can jump onto those trending hashtags and get some visibility. Just preface to saying using that in wrong way would certainly damage your brand by jumping into those trending conversations if you don’t have something to meaningful to have.

Mel: For sure. Now do you mind sharing with us an example of something that you are currently working on that is really exciting you? I know mentioned B1G1 but I also know that you got another business in the works as well. Can you share with us what is happening on that front?

Adam: Yeah thanks Mel. We launched a web traffic works and it is really around just getting that targeted traffic to your website and getting great quality leads to come out of the back end on a consistent basis and to really deliver that in a powerful way. We are putting together some pretty amazing partnerships around the world. I have partnered with someone you would know quite well here in Brisbane and other companies around the world and our goal with that is to be able to have a 5 times increase in the deliverability of our product in 2016. So we are pretty well on target with that.

Mel: Wow fantastic. Congratulations. Look forward to hearing more about that as we go. Now if people want to get in contact with you Adam, you probably have stacks of profiles but if they want to say come across your book which is a great read social media secret source and learn more about you, where can they follow you?

Adam: Best way always is just to the website. All of my social media links are there. If you say link to my book, my blog. Everything is on my website. Adamhoualhan.com.

Mel: Fantastic. That will be in the show notes. Well thanks Adam I did sip in quite a few extra questions there that I just needed answers so I really appreciate you answering them all. So thanks so much for your time.

Adam: Thank Mel great to be with you.


Thanks for listening to the customer centric show. For additional smart ways to attract more customers, profits and freedom head on over to the website www.customercentricshow.com.

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35. Freedom In A Cafe Business With Ben Coyle

35. Freedom In A Cafe Business With Ben Coyle

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with Mel Telecican (Customer-Centric Coach)

Episode 35. Freedom In A Cafe Business With Ben Coyle

Hi welcome to episode number 35. I will be talking to the café guy Ben Coyle in just a moment. He is the guy who help businesses and café open their doors and keep them open. I just wanted to say a very big thank you to our listeners who have managed to put a review on iTunes. I really appreciate it. What it does also is it just means that we get more exposure to other business owners like yourself and they get to access the wonderful knowledge and insight that are great giving week in week out. So thanks so much. If you haven’t already they please put a review. We would love to hear from you. If however you have some tips or suggestion of how I could make the show better. Please let me know. Send me a direct message or a tweet at Mel Telecican. Alright let’s get into the show.


You are listening to the customer centric show with Mel Telecican, where we talk with successful business owners and experts to share smart ways to attract more customers, profits and freedom by thinking about customers first. Now here is your host Mel Telecican.

Mel: Hi and welcome to the show. Today I am joined by Ben Coyle the café guy. Ben is the owner of a café and a bar in the inner city of Melbourne called the dancing dog. He had it now for almost 14 years and during that time he has seen many other café owners struggle to stay in business which brought him to develop his own hands in training system and very recently had his first book published titled Spilling the Beans. Great to have you on the show today Ben and good to have another hospitality professional on the show.

Ben: Great to be here Mel. Thank you very much and I got to say Telecican, I love your name. I am considering changing my name to that.

Mel: Oh okay alright. Most people can’t pronounce it so you have done really well. Good start. Now we always start our show by asking our guests examples of customer centric businesses. I know you have got one ready. Can you share with us your example?

Ben: Yeah actually mine is based around hardware. I have lived around the coast Victoria and hardware and shout out to Gary there. They are lovely guys and they are always very helpful when you want to move to the area like and a lot of referrals and business cards and good tradesman when I needed something. I was new in the area and didn’t know anybody down there and also of those Bunnings that they changed when they opened these doors and they walk through and they walk from the vault section, you probably get about 30 hello’s and a minute that’s a bit much but that is the thing that they just retain and they just got great customer service and they are pretty helpful people.

Mel: Yeah and that’s exactly what you want. You know that you can approach them if and when you need them. So like you said moving to a new area not knowing trades people or reputable trade’s people. So being able to take that next step and get those suggestions is definitely very helpful. Great example. Now Ben I know your business the dancing dogs has been through quite a journey to be what it is currently today. Can you give us some background into yourself and how you ended up in this café scenario and how it has led to what you have got now?

Ben: Sure this podcast goes to about three hours doesn’t it? So we have enough time.

Mel: Yeah not quite.

Ben: I started my first job in business and insurance and I didn’t really like to be hired to desk. So we did a bit of laboring for a while and joined Australian custom service which now border force. So obviously had a publicity of what goes on these days. But that was a hammer for most of my career there and run a Victorian dog unit and as I sort of progressed and I was searching for more and I sort of went down the par for fitness for instructive so I can still convert to a great buy. Sort of natural therapy, massages and trying to do these therapies and went into a little bit like mainstream now things like woo area and wanted to share it. So I thought why not have a café that corporates all these things. So natural profession was dog hammer and the café owner and actually café was a bit of side thing to what I was doing because it create a natural sort of healing space where people can try different things and then relax in the café type situation and have a chat. Unfortunately what happened was the café just took off the in the area where I was in and I was actually running a full blank café as a post to what I said it to do which has been a great journey regardless. We incorporate a lot of things like a really big art gallery. Had the life theater for three years. I set up with the person in the industry and we are doing a lot of music and different things yeah.

Mel: So it’s a live music venue now isn't it? Is that right?

Ben: Yeah I love to call it and it is really supportive. We are not set up like a big music and big venues but we certainly are very supportive of music arts. I mean we have power tree and so people get to sit down and connect and enjoy the space. Just not how I originally set it up.

Mel: Right so this is indicative of the client and the area you live in. You are pretty close to the city in Melbourne. So has this all taken this part based on what people needs are?

Ben: It is fairly organic really. I started with lots of classes and belly dance and drama and whole lot and I was a bit early for that and it used to be Melbourne's best kept secret at one point but everyone has realized how close is the city. It got amazing views of the city. A lot of people come out. So a lot of development and buildings and I suppose just naturally people approach me and so can we play and do a show and I was like yeah sure that space is there. Let’s do it.

Mel: Yeah interesting. So with your café you originally just set up for fairly basic coffee cake refrigerator sort of setup. Is that how it started and then now you are doing meals aren’t you?

Ben: Now actually I have moved away from food a little bit. We do a very basic food. I mean such great in there and it is hard to compete down there and now I just try and cut coffee as one in the bar at night. So we just do basic and we do baked on premise but we just keep minimized. But I did start up as cake and coffee venue and next thing that I am cooking is cool breakfast in electric fry pans and it was crazy and anyone who was cooking would appreciate so that we can make some muffins and put in oven in there and full burner to domestic style and it was crazy to produce that.

Mel: Yeah that’s quite the effort. So it was about progressively seeing what your customers need and it was about realizing something that just aren’t feasible.

Ben: Exactly yeah. You got to work within your limitations and that’s what I worked out. We were doing full breakfast and so some amazing guys cooking and then we just sort of did veggie burgers and all sort of things and soups and salads and just recent equipment I wasn’t set up for that originally. So we just backed off a little bit and what we could do.

Mel: Ok great. So can you give us some background into how spilling the beans, the book you have written has come about. I understand that it is because you have seen a lot of people come and go in your area and you have been able to stand in test of time. That’s almost 14 years which is a long time in the café space. Lots of people come and go. Can you explain what the book is about? And what it would do for the retailers.

Ben: Sure. Well I suppose it is a very beech book and a lot of people say that I also dreamed of having a café and they don’t actually realize how much work goes on behind the scenes and always like I said I started out on something I was doing and then realized how am I a café owner and I love the connection that’s developed within the business. But it was a long journey. I will be 15 years in March actually operating and I made most mistakes that you can make and I sort of documenting them and there are people out there who could use this. We all know someone who has been in trade and gone out. There is huge percentage of go out business. So there is a lot of pain out there and I just thought that I can really help people.

Mel: Yeah that’s right and a lot of people think as you said it is very straightforward and it can always do it better than other people out there in the market. So get in there and plenty of people go in well prepared but it is not being able I guess just not having the background and you work on creating relationships as well to assist people in that transition early in different stages?

Ben: Yeah in my coaching I sort of get into people and find out why they are doing and just give some information there that can really sort of realize. I started and I didn’t actually understand business. I just went in there and do it like a lot of people do. I was like enough to get through all of that and I say hang on I am actually in business here and I need to understand business not just making coffee and smiling.

Mel: Yeah so it really and we can go in there with lots of passion but actually understanding how even the benchmarking in terms of cost vs sales price all that sort of stuff. It is a bit of a discovery process and potentially very expensive.

Ben: Yeah and it is sort of going and you can re-visit it. Prices are always going up around you. It is very hard certainly with coffee to match with milk and power just going up. You just can’t put in your price up because people are a bit of staple and people look and go well they just put their price up again. But everything else goes up. So you got time when you got to do those things as well.

Mel: Okay right. There is a real art to it to make sure that yeah you don’t lose your client telling the process but to be able to stay in business as well.

Ben: That’s right.

Mel: Okay. So let’s talk about what you do now with your people that you coach. Is there other people in your space that go and help people set up café businesses?

Ben: Look there is not a lot. There are a lot of business coaches out there but I am not too sure how many actually go into café thing.

Mel: It is great though because of those principles that you have learned from a business perspective but specific to running a hospitality business. So if it is like staffing would be different from business to business and of course mark up and all those other elements that are specific to hospitality. So let’s talk about staffing because in hospitality there is a lot trends in people. In my experience and most of the people I speak with would say the same thing. Have you got any advice around how to source and keep the right people that you do find?

Ben: Yeah. It is a very good industry and that’s what great about it too and it is such a good skills that you are learning that you could transfer to other jobs and also you can travel with it and it is what you make it. But as far as staffing I mean it is very hard because anyone can write anything on piece of paper and they will know that they will call themselves into brackets. Technically it is correct because brista means coffee maker however I have been doing it for 15 years and I just call it myself because they have to know a lot about the machinery as well and that’s what a real barista does. But as far as getting staff, anyone can write something on a bit of paper but anyone can sound like what you do and as far as I tracked the right sort of staff because I suppose they don’t like what I do so they actually like the venue and I don’t have a problem finding anybody but yeah it is like an industry you know I mean retail is become more trancing as well. I think it is an issue with pretty much every single business.

Mel: Absolutely. But I think the great tip there is to get people in the situation so you can see them and test it and make you a coffee and you can get an idea of what they are doing and whether they can sort of fit in I guess and making an attracting workplace and everything you sort of attract the best type of people I expect.

Ben: Yeah I mean that’s what I do with people. I say look you are in hospitality you understand that you are there to serve the love of what you do. A fake smile or a fake hello. You really got to love what you do and I sort of sit down with my new staff and I say this is what I need from you and what you want and I try to give them what they want and like studying and I will support you through the next 4 years of study as long as you give me what I want and what I need and what I need to because they are going to represent me and my business.

Mel: Yeah and that’s a brilliant way of doing it and I have heard one other person telling me the exact same method that they use. What do you want out of this because by being really clear and being open and honest and saying okay this is gig that I am doing well and I am studying to be something else and this is not my life career and you know it is going to help me get there and okay if you are going to work back and if you could do in return for that work well for me and make sure you deliver everyday then we are on the same page and you are right it is common that you see people who are sound well their voice say something but their body language say something different and I think that’s the disappointing thing in hospitality sometimes that it is the empty smile that and those empty words.

Ben: Yeah exactly.

Mel: So let’s talk about how you engage with customers beyond the front door. Do you have the social media following? How do you reach your market and what it is that has been effective for you?

Ben: Well we use Facebook a lot because we have a lot of advantage and I always had things like a regular art openings, dance show opening. Anything that I am doing that is of interest to the community that might want to come along and contact to the local media papers and we have few local magazines that put things out there but we run. We don’t use Instagram as some café use it very well but we use Facebook as our main social media platform.

Mel: We can create events there too. Is that what you do?

Ben: Actually I work with whatever band was doing. I get them to create the event rather than doing it myself whether you share it.

Mel: Yeah you are providing the venue. They can create and invite people to come along. They got the audience don’t they?

Ben: Yeah and I have a bit of customs because I couldn’t work on the boats with the hot topic of refugees coming across and I went back for a little while because I could because my business is running really smooth so now we are close with this secret resource center and try to help events with those of the things and I had a lovely artist do a woodwork show or a print type of thing and we offer that space for free and we just invited everyone along we had a great function and a lot of people come to check it out.

Mel: Oh that’s fantastic Ben. You are very involved in the community aren’t you? Can you tell us a little bit about your other community involvement? Beyond the dancing dog.

Ben: Well I suppose it is really through the dancing dog which is what we can. I am present at the local traders group at the moment. We ran the is called the big shore run which is for what we got to import these rituals to China which were good one so we were running around the street taking people to five different restaurants and little cygon which is local market. It was all to promote the area and we loved it and it was all run by volunteers and we did it for five days straight which is a lot but that was just purely to create a bit of vibe and to bring appeal from other sides. So people from overseas came to that event which is quite amazing.

Mel: Wow so yeah it is really about bringing awareness to your pocket there in the city Melbourne. Uniqueness of that I guess is different to the other in the city areas.

Ben: Yeah. Also run the I love foot campaign which is thing that I get with I love great t-shirts and lipsticks and it is bit of a funny one and puts crazy so hah. I love foot crazy stickers and yeah it is quite funny and a lot of people don’t know where they are coming from and we just produce them in our venue.

Mel: That’s great and it is all about building community. I can hear that when I speak to you about the art gallery, the local musicians and how you literally just taking cues from people that are coming in door about what it is that they looking for and want to have interest in. So yeah your social media is your Facebook and anything else other than that or is that your number on go to?

Ben: Oh that’s a pretty much number one. By getting involved we market ourselves like the whole thing people saying drive down the freeway obviously and the name come up and all the advertising 10 times before you notice it and we do the same thing. We just be involved and do the work out there and as far as I came to learn I mean that’s where my passion comes from about café and helping other café too because I think they are really important part of our community and café is where magic happens and I believe that because you met your friends and family and when you think about it you probably had a date with your partner on the first. That’s what have been in café and that’s pretty easy because you can run out of door quickly but ha-ha.

Mel: Yes that’s right.

Ben: But the other thing is you know if you think about it you meet with your friends and families and you have a coffee and friends going through hard time and you generally sit down and have a nice cup of coffee and chat through things or take your kids and have this great experience and you share them.

Mel: Yeah absolutely moments that are memorable in a good way I guess or places for people to chat and communicate whether it is good news or bad news. Magic happens. That is very connected to who you started out as the dancing dog isn't it with the natural therapies and everything.

Ben: Yeah those bump stick is magic happens ha-ha.

Mel: Yeah still seeing around. Now so how important to you then recommendations and referrals to your business? Is that a big part of how you get new customers or do you pro-actively get new customers in different ways?

Ben: You are only as good your last smile in your last coffee as far as I am concerned in my business. It is all about the experience and any business with bad experience be told to share with 10 people or so. You are lucky if good experience goes one or two. So it is so important that you do things as best you can and I mean we all make mistakes. So just giving fixed up and knowing that you really care.

Mel: Hmm and you said you are only as good as your last coffee or your last experience. How do you then get that consistency when you have got bunch of people running different shifts for you?

Ben: Yeah well it is not easy. That’s the shore. It is like the last thing the human error is probably the biggest thing. So it is just getting people who care and telling them how important it is. Whether somewhere you have got one coffee and then next day you come in you get another one and it is different and so some people say we will make it. That’s not nice feeling for anybody on the machine but people get used to their regulars and that’s fine but it should be really be that everyone can do exactly the same thing. So I mean I create a menu around that fact that everyone can do it. If it is only one person can handle it because we don’t have full anxious or anything like that in my place so even within kitchen you need to make sure that your staff are all consistently using the same recipe and doing the same way.

Mel: That consistency of output all the time. Yeah I agree wholeheartedly. It is an interesting thing because I have experience in coffee shop where I sort of get to the machine and I go oh that person is on today that’s a shame. Do you find though that some places that do have let’s say barista the hunt machine have other people who are there not creating great coffee but they still continue to succeed.

Ben: Yeah I suppose that depends on what they do well. I had interesting question the other day when someone asked me about how you know that you got value for your coffee. We went through the whole thing and they I sort of said well hang on it is actually a few enjoying your coffee no matter what it is and of course we have standards that most people like to say in x degree and that sort of thing but if you really enjoy that coffee then you get value.

Mel: Yes now it makes sense. Now all things come into that as well. You see environment as well as the people and of course the coffee itself.

Ben: Yeah that’s been acknowledged like you going to place how many times you stood there and order and people don’t even sort of acknowledge when you I am really big on that with my guys and when someone comes in door doesn’t matter if you are busy just give them wink or smile and just say hello and then you recognize there and more importantly when they leave the other side a lot of people don’t say good bye. So when they are leaving and I don’t care imagine you have one foot out of door and taking out a step and someone day see you later you know I had that and people leading back to the door oh yeah see yeah sorry. That’s nice connection on the way out. So I think that’s a really good thing.

Mel: Yeah and you are right it doesn’t happen very often and generally speaking if someone is waiting for their coffee, the least you can do is say hi and I will be with you in a second. Now let’s talk about what you believe is a good action point to increase profitability so if you are talking to, I know you generally at this stage work with new café owners but what do you say is the first point of call when you are wanting to increase your profitability?

Ben: I think if you are looking to let’s say food, I think it is being able to utilize you wastages and products of more than one dish. I think a lot of people waste more than they need to and we do quite well and we have a lot of wastage but that’s one point you can straight down.

Mel: Hmm so that comes down to menu creation. Making sure that you have I guess some unique dishes but being able to implement or use parts of other items and then present as different dishes. Is that what you mean?

Ben: Yeah just like using an example you might use a breakfast to like minute of breakfast and then use it again maybe in some sort of dish and then might be in a muffin. That one item can be used in three different dishes and you are never throwing out anything because it is been there too long.

Mel: Okay so was that something that took you a while to get happening in your business?

Ben: I sort of worked that pretty quickly. When I created my menu and that sort of go well. What can we use this for and yeah generally most things had in multi dishes. I never really waste a lot which is all been sort of stumbled across that straight away. They are throwing out a lot of food and that’s costing them money. The cost of goods.

Mel: Yeah that was my experience in my restaurant is that the wastage is so high. Because you have to have everything at an optimal quality and so it is just like straight out of the door. So very careful menu planning is really important and especially when you don’t have chef I mean I had chef and that was still happening. When you got cooks or you are running out yourself and perhaps not having experience and making sure that keeping those cost down because it quickly mounts up doesn’t it?

Ben: Yeah as you know one biggest cost of staff. You need to also need to know what the best timing that work well is. You guys sort of not being productive so that’s one of the bigger thing too because the cost is going to be staff and your rent and then you can’t do too much about and if like it in anyway of your place but if you are not that’s going to be one of your bigger cost like staff are the ones that got to look at how you are going to work with women and make sure they are always productive.

Mel: Yeah that’s prep time too.

Ben: Yeah time to lean, time to clean.

Mel: That’s it absolutely. I like that one. That’s right. Okay let’s talk about getting freedom in your business. You have now got your café running it to fine art. You have got great team together. What is it that has allowed you to have more freedom and make sure that there is that consistency of output that your customers are being looked for when you are not there?

Ben: Well the biggest thing is trust. That’s the only way you are going to get freedom. The system you put in place and choosing the right staff you working with are all key but the biggest thing I found even I actually haven’t worked full time in my own venue for over a decade and I actually haven’t thought about it until we had a chat and I worked that out. I said hang on it has been that long. I never really thought about it to be honest and then I go well yeah that is the case and I mean I live a good on drive away so and I trust my guys implicitly. That’s a tough one for a lot of people to get over and I sit in the café in summer and they ask me what you do and we sort of tell them and they sort of look at me sideways I generally don’t tell them about the coaching part because I don’t think that point fill need would probably be the right time to say that but otherwise I will just enjoy their space and I sort of go what are you doing here and yeah well I have got people who work there who are great and allows me to be elsewhere.

Mel: So did they ask those questions? Did they say how you are doing it? What’s happening?

Ben: Not really nah. A lot of people ask and engage. I mean I initiated to help new people but I can help existing owners but I am not in there to ever I mean I still have things I work in my business so it is not like all the business because you look around everything has got something to work on and so people often say would you go and talk to all these people and I say well I don’t want to go there and tell anybody because I am not part of this but if they are ever off the opportunity to want to talk, I am there.

Mel: And that’s really it isn't it. Just asking and saying well are you prepared to share your secrets of how you managed to do that because people like yourself have been through the hard yards and most people I expect would be willing to share that knowledge.

Ben: Yeah and I think that’s business and a lot of people go in competition and I am really about co-creation and I think there is nothing. We should be sharing ideas and lucky enough to be in sort of business networks that people grate and sharing ideas.

Mel: Yeah and I think that’s it. It is really not being afraid that someone else is going to take your idea and take it away from you because it is not about that. it is about being able to implement it to greater good and other people being able to benefit from that knowledge as well.

Ben: Yeah I think that’s one of the key things as well. Sharing information with people and they appreciate that and there is only one original thought like light balls. But there is only one original light ball created.

Mel: Yeah that’s exactly it. I think that’s the greatest advice for business owners is just to ask. You know the only thing people can say is no I am not willing to share that with you but in my experience I never had anyone turn me down on giving some insight into what they have learned from their mistakes. So yeah take away from the competition like you said it is less about competition and more about sharing.

Ben: Yeah I mean we love helping people and people enjoy that. I think they love sharing and I think if you have somebody turning you down then they are not the right person in the first place.

Mel: Yeah that’s right and really anyone who has experience is willing to help somebody to make those mistakes again because they can be costly and emotionally draining and especially when we know the history or the stats on businesses like café or the high turnover that’s involved there. It can be very tricky for people. Alright so that’s great. So trusting your people. Choosing them correctly to start with and then setting up the system so that they can run things autonomously. How many hours a week you spending on the business? Is it like a half week load? How much time you need to dedicate to run in the business so that it can run smoothly?

Ben: At the moment I just had management changed and so I was in there a little bit more recently just because of that we had gap between them starting so that’s why I was involved. Otherwise not at all. Maybe 10 hours a week depending on what is happening a little bit more. I work on the business post in it so actually I don’t do any hours behind the bar. So I am often in there just meeting other people. So probably 10 to 15 maybe.

Mel: And so is it important for your face to be there as the owner of business?

Ben: Not really. I try to have in the right people there. Their face are my business. We know it is hard to step away from businesses if you are the person that they want to see. That was the case in the first couple of years and now I can go in there and people don’t even know who I am which is what I really like so I can sit back and watch everything and it is funny when you hear and people might mention the owner and something rather than you sitting right next to them and never know that like I got that.

Mel: Oh very good. It sounds like you are in perfect balance Ben and now that you are able to and the great thing is that the other part of spent developing your training program and then putting the book out. Now if people want to find out where they can buy spilling the beans and just to follow you in general Ben where can they find you?

Ben: Well the book and I am sort of developing the café guy website which is www.thecafeguy.com.au. The book is available there or you can get from Kindle on Amazon and they can get me through that website or certainly I have a little Facebook page called the café guy where I just run around and just promote other café when I go to them. Coming up we also got series of workshops and presentations in Sydney Melbourne and the first one kicks off in Melbourne on the 10th of October. You can also get that through my website. So that’s where I am at and yeah currently working on the 2nd title which is don’t cry for spilled beans. So for helping existing café owners.

Mel: Great okay and so when do you expect you are going to have that one out published?

Ben: I am not sure maybe today with a fair bit of work but yeah we will do well.

Mel: We will definitely follow you Ben to make sure that we share with our listeners when the next book comes out as well but in the meantime people can check out the show notes where all those details would be included. Ben thanks so much for coming on the show today. Really great to have you with us. Lots of insights there into how people can I guess step away from their business a little bit especially in an industry that typically people don’t. So really great insight there Ben. Thanks so much.

Ben: Well thanks for having me on the show Mel that was great to be on here. Thank you very much.

Mel: I hope you enjoyed today’s episode. If you did, don’t forget to press subscribe on iTunes or sticker. That way you will get every episode as it goes live sent to you so that you don’t miss a show. Also head on over to Facebook to the customer centric coach page that’s customer centric coach and we have got information on there and I have also been just started putting up some video tips. One about recruitment of a better way to make that you find the best people for your job and the second one is a tip of what you need to be doing at this time of year to help you bust up what is normally a bit of quieter period of the year that you don’t start 2016 with a quiet business. So I have got great ideas of how you can bust up that period. So check that out Facebook customer centric coach. Thanks for listening.


Thanks for listening to the customer centric show. For additional smart ways to attract more customers, profits and freedom, head on over to the website www.customercentricshow.com.

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30. 20 Years In Fashion Retailing With Margaret Strano

30. 20 Years In Fashion Retailing With Margaret Strano

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with Mel Telecican (Customer-Centric Coach)

Episode 30. 20 Years In Fashion Retailing With Margaret Strano

You are listening to the customer centric show with Mel Telecican, where we talk with successful business owners and experts to share smart ways to attract more customers, profits and freedom by thinking about customers first. Now, here is your host Mel Telecican.

Mel: Hello everyone. On today’s episode I am joined by boutique owner and stylist Margaret Strano. Margaret is owner of Avanti Collections Boutique. Her bricks-and-mortar store specializes in high quality womenswear and has been doing so for 20 years. Her children were teenagers when she began and in her preparation for them setting off into the real world, she positioned herself in a new role as a small business owner in the retail space. She followed her passion of appreciating well-formed and designed clothing to open her boutique and has never looked back. With a very loyal group of customers, she has seen her business survive through the economic ups and downs of her small city. In a world where many businesses don't survive past five years, Margaret has stood the test of time. I am pleased to have her on the show today. Welcome Margaret.

Margaret: Thank you.

Mel: How are you?

Margaret: Very well.

Mel: That’s great. Now thanks for joining me on the show today. I better tell everyone Margaret is actually my mom and 20 years ago is when I was leaving home and moving off into the real world and so I thought that her story is a fantastic one as I said not many businesses stand this test of time like hers has, so she is a perfect person to be speaking to for our audience of small business owners. So I will call you Margaret around this because it will be awkward as mum. So your business is called Avanti collections, where does that come from and what does it mean?

Margaret: Well actually Melissa as you know your father is from Italian heritage and Avanti means to go forward and advance to be in front which is self-explanatory. Collections well speaks for itself, new seasons collections designed by designers.

Mel: Fantastic. Over in 20 years you really would have homed your ideas for what’s essential in selecting the brands and styles of your business. What would you say is your criteria?

Margaret: My main criteria is customer needs which should build on. You get to know your customer personally and you find out just what the market is. Also lifestyle dressing whether it would be casual or special occasion, you aim for that and that way the stop turns out over and you have a business.

Mel: Are there particular brands that you have stalked for a long time?

Margaret: Yes there are and I have seen a lot come and go. The Australian designers George Grass harry who have led the industry and retired, a lot of the big guys like Veronica Main gone back to their wholesale departments. So my all stables would be Charlie Brand, Study Baker, and Quintin De Lockton and yeah Malapert or so several label.

Mel: Right so there are some of those really strong labels that perhaps we would have thought would be around for a long period of time but for one reason or another have ended up closing the business or they have moved on into the department stores. So initially they have started off with individual boutique owners like yourself.

Margaret: Yes that’s correct and also I think when they were whole selling to us, the retailers. They were building a client base personally in the boutiques and then they took it back because the majors then were able to represent them and they conduct their own stores.

Mel: Absolutely so those brands and big business wouldn’t have probably paid attention until they had established brand that had a following in those boutiques and then wanted to reach the masses in that capacity. Interesting stuff. So my next question for you is 20 years is a long time in your business. What is it that keeps you motivated every day?

Margaret: What keeps me motivated is to be best what I do best in my business and that’s personalized service and to really make a customer feel really good about themselves and to return.

Mel: So that is what it is about isn't it? Making sure that you are fulfilling the needs and expectations of your customer so that you can be sure that they will come back. I guess that’s what keeps them coming back.

Margaret: Yes, customer satisfaction and compliments by word keeps me motivated.

Mel: So what does being customer centric mean to you?

Margaret: Focusing on clients and getting to know them personally and building on a file you could say a family, their likes and disliked is very important to me and yes I try and send out special things for those customers that will get them back in the door.

Mel: And that’s the great thing about having longevity with these people. I am guessing you have had some people for that whole 20 years as customers. Would that be right?

Margaret: Yes I have and I am finding to that there is always new kids on the block that I am competing with and you lose them for a little while but now I am finding them returning to the store and I do think it is because we still do the old catalog layouts and we still personally ring them, text them and advise them new arrivals for the sales we are having.

Mel: Great. So for your making sure that you know the ins and outs of what they are looking for and I happen to know personally because way back I used to company where you on your buying trips and member quite regularly you saying I know that would be perfect for this person. I know that she would love this for me for herself. So yeah definitely keeping those customers in mind. Do you know any other business that you know is customer centric and does it well?

Margaret: Well I often think that the local Pharmacy here does it extremely well. If I visit their fragrance counter and by say Christmas presence or give birthday gifts, they always send me a mail out acknowledging that I have been in store giving me an incentive vouch to return and I find that for some reason you only do return even with the 10 dollar gift voucher because they have acknowledged you have been in store shopping.

Mel: Yeah so they have been incentivizing a bit of a return visit but it is a thank you is it? Is that what you are saying?

Margaret: Yeah it is a thank you for the amount of money I suppose you have spent in store and also like a little reward and whether you use it or not, it tends to remind you that they have acknowledged you been there. So it is a personalized letter for a print out.

Mel: So it is a real feel good sort of thing as a customer is it?

Margaret: Yes and it is personal because it is addressed dear Margaret.

Mel: Yeah great. Personalization is really important in correspondence out to your customers. I think it is probably nothing worse than the old Madam nowadays especially considering that we do get much personalized content elsewhere. So I have got some questions for you based on your experience. We have talked a little bit about that already how important it is to truly know your target market. Can you give us a little bit more we know it is a womenswear but what would you say...could you give us a little bit more detail who your market is?

Margaret: Well Melissa I planned it as I started like a mother daughter boutique. So that I get the mothers in shopping with their daughters which I still do to this day. I nearly target 30 and over up to 65 but I do have many older clients that come in because you know okay I mainly target say 30 and over up to 65 and I usually find that today I got older customers returning because they do dress more modern. We are the new 60 like the old 40.

Mel: Fantastic. Not everyone who is over 65 wants to dress in sort of those older nature linked style dresses. So they are looking for that good quality cut as well. Do you have a customer in mind that you love? Tell me about him/her because I am guessing that even though it is a women's boutique, would you have male customers sometimes?

Margaret: Yes Melissa I do have many males that come in and give vouchers but they also ask my advice. What was my wife being here looking at? I want you to pick out somethings for Christmas or her birthday. I have a lovely lady that comes in regularly. Her name is Ronda. She is travelling or conferencing and she comes in and just brushes and says help dress me.

Mel: Right. That’s perfect isn't it? The customer that comes in and says I am ready to buy, you don’t need to convince me. I already you that I love what you are offering so take care of me and sort me out and I will walk out with the bags of shopping.

Margaret: Yes exactly and then she has plenty of choices and then she has to call. Sometimes she can’t decide to takes a lot. She is fun and has been coming every year for a voucher as we know she goes nowhere else.

Mel: Right so continuously coming back she knows that she is getting what she is looking for and yeah her husband comes in looking for gift for her as well. That’s great. That wouldn’t happen with an online store to the same extent. Would there be any way to manage that?

Margaret: Yes that’s right. Just know there is no way to manage it and even though there is this huge turn to online shopping. I was in Telstra today and this girl is buying her engagement dress online and I am thinking how can she know that it is going to be right? But younger generation tend to be doing it but I am still finding people like yourself even prefer to try on and feel good.

Mel: Yes I think they still value well and truly in the bricks and moral store and that personalization like you said the gentlemen who came in the store knows that you know her or her staff know her and they can really assist. How important is it to you that your customers are happy with their purchases?

Margaret: It is extremely important. It is a main name that we customer satisfy that their wish to return, they feel good. Very important. I guess that’s why I am still here.

Mel: I would say definitely is why you are still there. How important is your customer’s perspective to you in terms of not so much scaling up your business but being able to have longevity to be sustainable in your market?

Margaret: Very much so and that way my longevity has been because of that service. That personalized service and word of mouth because I am finding my new customers that I am finding out permitted now bound to last and heard about you I am here.

Mel: Great. So their view and have their perceived view extends beyond them returning to you but telling others to come as well. How valuable to you is your team? I know you had some lovely ladies that have worked for you all the time and lots for long period of time. How valuable are they to you and how do you select them for your team?

Margaret: Well Melissa I have only had one or two casual staff as you know to assist me. I try to be hands on I guess in the business because I feel that working flow I keep in the no and that’s very important that the staff will sell at good relating back to me what the consumer want. So representing me when I am gone is very important that they keep up that goal that we have which is customer service and appreciating what we do so that it is exclusive.

Mel: Right. Makes perfect sense. So really important that those ladies are conveying the same message or the staff are conveying the same message that you are so that you are getting that consistent experience for the customers regardless of whether they are served by you or themselves or then. Can you remember a time when your business was represented in some way? Perhaps staff, perhaps externally through media, has that happened to you at any time?

Margaret: I think probably once I had somebody that wasn’t represented in the store as well and customer feedback worked me up to that immediately and then I observed that they weren’t getting me experienced that our way and was and I just minimized her hours and she wasn’t getting enough so she moved on but yes that was the way it happened and it wasn’t a good reflection for the store.

Mel: Now that is difficult to talk about. I can hear in your voice that it perhaps is a difficult and painful time trying to manage that situation but I think the interesting thing for our listeners would be that interestingly someone came back to you at some point and told you hey this person I don’t believe is really reflecting what you like them to and that speaks volumes about your relationship with your customers. They would feel comfortable enough to do that because I would expect that from many businesses perhaps it is just a customer loss and you do never know the reason why for a long period of time why they didn’t return.

Margaret: That’s exactly right and I think when you are in a bigger business, where the mind is small business and it’s very specialized and very customer focused and very personalized. So I think that my little customers are little to me and they would let me know if the things weren’t right.

Mel: Great. So that comes with having those years and years of contact. So my next question for you is how do you communicate with your customers beyond the front door? That’s one thing to be having that great relationship but with lots of competition around it is important to keep in contact and remind them that you are there. How do you communicate with them?

Margaret: Well Melissa each label gives me catalogs. Each season and I do a mail out. It is quite costly. But I always make sure that I got my little label on there that it is perhaps sending it and I do have an advertising campaign running with the local radio station that nearly market the lady on the move and the morning children to school. Great times where they shopping or whatever and easy listening like shows that they listen to so that it is working for me and I am not just wasting my dollars. Also I do give vouchers and things like that. I do like reasonably celebrating my 20 years in business. I send out gift vouchers and the return and response for us is really remarkable.

Mel: Oh fantastic. That’s interesting. So as a celebration you decided to give them a gift to say was this for all of your customers or particular customers?

Margaret: Well I do say my loyal customers. I have a list and I decided how many that I would send out and the response has been almost 100%.

Mel: Wow. That is interesting because some people I imagine would be saying oh snail mail sending out in the post that sort of old school I would say listening to your results and for your audience that sounds like the ideal market. Almost a hundred percent. That is a brilliant return on investment and I would expect that the voucher wouldn’t have been for lighter invest to sanitize a purchase. Is that correct?

Margaret: That’s correct.

Mel: So how important? You said you got list of your loyal customers. Are you in social media or any capacity?

Margaret: No Melissa I am not.

Mel: So your customer list that you have and that you mail to is effective for you?

Margaret: Yes it is.

Mel: Perfect. So I think comes down to knowing your market. Knowing how you can reach them and perhaps not getting lost in the noise that can happen in those spaces. What would you say is most important to you and I think I already know having had that discussion we just had. What is more important to you? Would you say customer retention? Keeping customers? Or acquiring new customers?

Margaret: Melissa I find a little bit of both. I think it is good to retain your existing customers but I do believe that it will grow your business and it is good to acquire more. I think you always look at growing and always trying to get more in the door but to retain your existing customers is very important.

Mel: Great. So I would say that perhaps your radio ads I mentioned before is accusation reaching probably your existing end and your customers and then your mail out is for that retention to make sure that you are keeping in contact with them.

Margaret: Yes that’s right.

Mel: Great. So the next question I have for you is it is a bit of tricky one but what would you say has been your most effective marketing campaign?

Margaret: I do say just the recent one that I had just recently with these gift vouchers for my 20 years of trading. I would say it is working really well but it has gone hand in hand with the campaign as a local radio station that before Christmas pushing out our customers in Merry Christmas and letting them know that I am 20 years in business and we are celebrating that and to check us out and be up to date with new arrivals and sales going on.

Mel: Great and what important inclusion? Mentioning on the radio to your new customers thank you for your loyalty to the wider people but we have been around for 20 years which means that clearly we grate people like we do that we been around that long. Would you say?

Margaret: Yes that’s exactly right. One of my favorite motto always has been fashion changes that Avanti remains.

Mel: I like it very nice. So being a small business owner tell our audience who are very busy people. If there is one task in your business that you could outsource pass on right now, what would it be?

Margaret: Well Melissa I think that social media is not really me. I think I need help in that area. My ads are all working and my personalized catalogs and fliers that I like to have something a little bit more. That’s 2015 a webpage so that yeah I have that app there.

Mel: So again for our small business owners it is important to sometimes share that things are not always perfect in our businesses and it helps each other I guess acknowledge that sometimes those downtimes happen and we can recover for them. Can you share a time where you think perhaps you might have dropped the ball perhaps made a mistake in your business in some capacity that you would mind sharing?

Margaret: I think in the early days I did Melissa because when you first start you still unsure of your consumer until you find out what the consumer needs. You may have the wrong stop line. So in the beginning I made mistakes in that area. Along the way I learned. But it is quite costly.

Mel: Right. So in those early days when money is tight I would expect. That it can be a bit difficult to recover from. So you have explained why it happened. What did you learned from that experience?

Margaret: Well I think you had to be more selective in buying. You have to find need and you also had to have what the other stores do not have because boutiques just shouldn’t multiply. You shouldn’t have the same everywhere. So you have to be unique.

Mel: Yeah exclusive offering so that people know that they can only get it from you. Great. Current business just would like to know what do you think has been your proudest moment in your business in the 20 years?

Margaret: Melissa I have received letter for my involvement in cancer fundraisers and charities. Winning the best boutique three years running. That have been wonderful moments for me. So it was really great to win that small boutique against a major with a huge audience and staff and being sort of two main small business was an accolade.

Mel: Fantastic. So why do you think that happened? Compared to a big department store that you are saying you are up against. Why do you think that you won that award over then?

Margaret: I think because I have always gone for fabric and style. I have always sourced a milliner that hand makes her millinery and had to toe perfection and yes lovely girls to represent the store and making sure I couldn’t fault the garments.

Mel: So careful selection of what you showcase and making sure that in your every day that you are offering that as well. What is one thing that you would say is really exciting you in your business right now?

Margaret: The fact that the consumer that I felt that I lost is returning is a wonderful feeling because as you know with husband and my parent’s illnesses you sometimes lose your clients and to see them back returning is wonderful.

Mel: Yeah so sometimes stepping out from your business for the personal needs can sometime be a little bit difficult and so they are coming to you as you are saying and returning.

Margaret: Yeah you are right. Sometimes we have a focus shift that’s only human but yes define and shifting back is wonderful.

Mel: That’s great and that speaks volumes I believe about exactly why you are still in business right now. People have come back to you that you are more present in the business again and they are looking for that personalized service that you are offering. Speedy questions for you. Really short answers is what we really require for these. What is your single top tip for small business to meet and exceed customer expectations?

Margaret: Acknowledging and greeting customers when they arrive is very important and then to find out what there to make them feel good to make them feel uplifted and yes that’s our aim.

Mel: Can you share one of the personal habits that you strongly believe contributes to your daily success?

Margaret: I would say to be natural. To be self and then to make the customer feel comfortable and trying to gage the personality whether they need help urgently or they need time and then you slowly win that confidence and then they will let you help them.

Mel: Great. So not the pushy hard sale. Keep it natural and nice. There is nothing worse I don’t think than going to a store and getting the royal awkward treatment. I think it is probably a good way to describe it where there is a bit of exaggerated niceties. What’s one very cool thing in the works that you know you got going that your customers would love?

Margaret: Well I think at the moment I am been invited to women’s form to represent the busy women. That’s the business lady. There is different business speakers there and I am going there with my travel labor not perky to promote the lady on the move and I think it is going to have a bigger effect in growing my business.

Mel: Fantastic. That label I know because currently you sent me a quite a few items which I loved and the travels items that is not crushable. Is that right?

Margaret: Yes Melissa and a lot of Italian goes Jersey and that new fiber that’s out now called technical weed, it is just beautiful to wear. It is all breeze, it is all natural and yes it doesn’t pill and business itself guarantees it.

Mel: Yes so those women that are going to be reaching those audience, they are going to be exposed to the brand that you offer locally. You are the only one who offered it right?

Margaret: Yes.

Mel: Fantastic. So it is looking to grow your business and you know they are going to love it. One of your best piece of advice that you ever received for business?

Margaret: To be the best at what you do and have passion for it. Love what you do.

Mel: Yeah so it sorts of starts with that making sure that you are only going to what you love because it is a bit hard if you don’t enjoy what you do. Makes the everyday very difficult. One business book you would say the audience

Margaret: Well Melissa I have read many business books over the years but I can’t recall one that I really favor but I think it pays to read a lot and a lot of marketing strategies to help your business. I don’t think you ever close your eyes in anything particular. I couldn’t name one particular one but I do believe that you should always be trying to educate and never say no at all.

Mel: Great advice. Best way for you to welcoming in the weekend or spend the weekend?

Margaret: Well the best way for me to welcome the weekend is to relax and go the beach and do a bit of gardening.

Mel: Maybe a one or two?

Margaret: Yeah one or two.

Mel: And do you ever reward yourself in some way. Not something that you share with others but just for yourself?

Margaret: Occasionally I go for pamper and I think the important thing I do is I spend time with them our beautiful grandchildren.

Mel: Right so trip to see us is your reward. I like it. That’s a reward for us too and lastly what is one thing small business owners listening right now could do that would make their working life better?

Margaret: I think sometimes to make it better is to have a day off and go and see what the opposition is doing and re-assure yourself that what you are doing is the best you can do.

Mel: Fantastic. Really great advice. Go and look, see what they are doing. Take the other positives and reinforce what you are doing well. Sometimes if things aren’t going to plan, it is great to just take stocks and acknowledge the great things that are going your way.

Margaret: That’s right.

Mel: Fantastic. So you have mentioned that you don’t have a website. No Social media as yet. Tell us where can we find you if we are in your part of the world.

Margaret: Well a lot of people just google me and they do find out but a lot of my stockers do have me on their webpage so therefore they do track me down. I have people ringing me from Tasmania, Victoria, South Australia…

Mel: All around Australia.

Margaret: Yes.

Mel: Great. So tell me your address. Avanti collection is at what address?

Margaret: Shop 1 Westside Plaza Heidke Street, Bundaberg QLD 4670.

Mel: Fantastic. Well, thanks Mum. Thanks Margaret for joining us today. I am sure our audience has taken a lot from what they have heard from you. 20 years of experience. It is not to be sniffed out. Fantastic advice there to share with our listeners.

Margaret: My pleasure.

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29. Trust is the Ultimate Sales Tool With Barry Maher

29. Trust is the Ultimate Sales Tool With Barry Maher

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with Mel Telecican (Customer-Centric Coach)

Episode 29. Trust is the Ultimate Sales Tool With Barry Maher

You are listening to the customer centric show with Mel Telecican, where we talk with successful business owners and experts to share smart ways to attract more customers, profits and freedom by thinking about customers first. Now, here is your host Mel Telecican.

Mel: Hello and welcome to today’s episode. Whether as a speaker or consultant Barry Maher is hired to get results to improve productivity, attitude and ultimately to make client’s money. Those clients include organizations like ABC, the American Management Association, AT&T, Blue Cross, Budget Rent a Car, Canon, Colgate-Palmolive, Cessna, Hewlett-Packard, Infiniti Automotive, Johnson & Johnson, Lufthansa Airlines, Merck, the National Lottery of Ireland, the Small Business Administration, the U.S. Government, Verizon and Wells Fargo. Barry has appeared on the Today Show, NBC Nightly News, CNBC and hundreds of television and radio stations. Barry is the author of the books including filling the glass, positive thinking in business and more recently the title no lie, truth is the ultimate sales tool. Barry is a consultant key note and motivational speaker who specializes in communication, leadership, management and sales training. So I am really looking forward to speak with him today. Thanks for joining me Barry.

Barry: My pleasure Mel. Thanks for having me.

Mel: You are welcome. Now our first question of this beginning is basically we ask every one of our guests and that’s around customer centricity. Can I ask you to give us an example of who you believe is customer centric? Can you explain to us what they are doing that makes it that way?

Barry: Yeah hopefully Mel. Customer centricity and customer service are one of those things that can like the way and everybody talks about it but nobody does anything about it or at least there are few companies that do. Now most of my companies are of course got customer service and customer centric but I spoke to a group recently which really impressed me because they are a kind of group that never really think that customer service have anything to do with even on their horizon. It is group called the international parking institute. Now what these people do for living is they help people right. They are the people that come and put the boots on your card, they write tickets, they do all these terrible things that causes the kind of reaction you do expect and people do those kind of things. i always have customers screaming right in their face cursing at them and doing all kind of terrible things. But their entire focus of this convention that I just said was try to become customer centric and really delivering customer service to these people who in many cases want to kill them. So that’s a really good extreme example of customer centricity.

Mel: Right. Can you share us what those things are? Because I am thinking and sort of racking by brain okay how do they do that? Is that in terms of conflict management so that you can walk away from those confrontational situations with some sort of positive outcome? How does that look like for those guys?

Barry: It’s conflict management. A lot of those in training their own people so they are not necessarily vicious so they don’t take the senses and don’t kick back to people faces for the extent that no taking is not free. We want to be able to do this, we want to be able to have this facility. For example 10,000 students in this university while I am going to have a place to park and just trying to basically present what they do in a way it is in service. So people realize that it is service that they performing rather than just getting back to people faces and a lot of it is conflict illusion but it is sharing perspective and hopefully having a perspective that they are actually there to service the customers. So they don’t put gasoline on the fire when somebody is coming and screaming.

Mel: Yeah that’s a fantastic example actually Barry. So I guess their conflict or discussion they have in that confrontation, they are sort of educating and I guess turning the experience in the other way and this is what we do for you when I guess you are not the offender or you are not making the mistakes that this is the service and this is how it benefits you other ways.

Barry: Right and not being vicious I mean they do parking enforcement. So somebody is coming there and maybe they are meeting that just gets turned and they don’t get vicious about it well you know. So they understand when they are legitimist circumstances that happen to people. So they put themselves in the customer position which is of course what we all trying to do with our customers and our clients. Just put ourselves in the customer’s position. So they make the customer feel important. Even if they have to do these things but they can be pretty disagreeable.

Mel: Yeah fascinating example. That’s really fantastic. Thanks for sharing that one. That’s great. Now you worked with lots of really large businesses. Our audience is small and medium size businesses generally speaking. But I am really interested to know your thoughts on how those big businesses have been customer centric or perhaps you got an example that could be applied into that medium sized business.

Barry: You know virtually everything that I talk about is geared not just for the big business but for the small businesses because most of my clients are not necessarily businesses they but they are association and groups of small business. So like the parking institute or any number of trade associations that I work with or basically just groups of small business. So one of the things that I talk about with these groups is a very simple concept of making customers feel important. Now of course every organization that I talk to, they are going to tell you how important the customers are right. I mean have you ever gone to an organization where they didn’t think the customers aren’t important? I mean everybody knows that the customers are important. But we have all been customers. How often do we feel like we are important? Often it is more like that phone message because we value your business please continue to hold. Because we value business we are going to reduce productivity so we can increase sales. That’s not making the customer feel important. Again everybody will tell you that customers are important and very few companies actually treat their customers as if they are important.

Mel: So yeah talking the talk and walking the walk very different things.

Barry: Completely different I mean again I have never talked to a CEO who didn’t think that the company is customer centric. Not a single one.

Mel: And so when you speak to these businesses and you have these conversations and they do give you those responses and they tell you that. What is your normal reply to them? How you then say okay your actions are speaking what you are saying. What does that look like?

Barry: It is a very interesting thing. One of the things that I used to try and do. In fact I so try to do time to time is I will actually have the CEO call in switch board and have some request and see how even just the person answering the phone, the idea here is not to make the person escape board. The idea is to call maybe a number of people answering the phone. But just to see the sound of that person and how they sound when they are greeting people and what they do and how they pass on that call and that’s the CEO who comes up with little problem like you now. So you really need to talk to the director of sales. I don’t have his name now but I got a phone message here and all I got was a director of sales. I couldn’t make up on that and see that person goes the extra mile to help them and if they don’t, first of all the CEO is going to get an idea of just what the initial contact with this company is going to be like but beyond that they are going to see that there are other issues here like training issues here and again it is not to put the person answering the phone on the spot but just to give him or her an idea of just what was going on in the company. I happen to call one of their sales team once in a while. Happen to call anyone that deals with the public once in a while and just see the reaction these people are causing in their customers and their clients and it can be a real eye opener. I know one industry which basically is pretty much the front now for a lot of reasons and at least it certainly going downhill and I was very active in that industry for a while and I knew every CEO and all the big companies in the industry and every single one of them believed that because they worked with small businesses, they have really leg up for the future because they all this relationships with their customers and in many cases hundreds and thousands and even millions of small business customers and they thought if we move into the internet age, we are going to be right there because we have these relationships. What none of them realized is their customer absolutely hated them. So it was like cable TV and as the things moved into the internet age that industry has gone itself in a huge way and I am talking about the yellow page industry.

Mel: Absolutely. Probably the turn of the century right. It is significant drop around then would you say?

Barry: A huge drop and every one of those companies thought they are in a position to virtually take over the internet at least within their specific areas because they had huge sales forces and they had relationships with virtually every single small business in those area and we saw what happened with those relationships as soon as the small business didn’t need those people anymore because of the way they treated their customers year after year.

Mel: Yeah so existing relationship is one thing but having a true picture of what that looks like and whether it is really solid and has any legs in the future I guess is definitely completely different.

Barry: Totally different and you may be doing pretty well with your customers. You may be getting a lot of repeat business but how do they really feel about you? Maybe they are with you because of one little thing, maybe they don’t have any other choice or maybe your price is lower than somebody else. Maybe there is one thing that is causing you to get most of your business. But that one thing may not be something don’t have foundation of sand. So somebody comes in with a lot of crisis maybe a customer is going to run to get away from you. I mean you really got to understand what is motivation your customers and what their needs are. How could we do it better? What would you like us to improve?

Mel: Talk about that Barry. Do you mean looking out at annual perspective or how often should businesses be looking at that because this is I guess pointing out being inattentive side of business. Could that actually be the undoing completely? So do you suggest any timeline around how often people should be looking at this? I mean we are talking about tapping into things to see under cover I guess. I guess customer surveys. What sort of time frame?

Barry: Well you know customers surveys are very nice and are very important and that’s more important at a huge kind of a level and we believe in customer surveys at that level and we believe in one of the things and big problem is the kind of transparency which allows to people at the top to tell people at the bottom the truth. That’s a big problem for some of these larger companies because this is the safe environment. I want to hear our customer really complaining about what the problems really are but boy if you tell me you are in trouble. You got a bad attitude you know. You future is limited. At this small business level that shouldn’t be nearly as bigger problem. Small business people at any level should be in touch with their customers on a regular basis. They should see what the interactions are between their customers and their people and if they aren’t watching that, I am keeping an eye on that ball. If they aren’t seeing maybe customer was okay with what happened but how okay was he/she. This isn't really the result I wanted but I kind of let it go. It should be alert to these kinds of things and be very and if you waiting for a customer and if you have to do that you are losing a lot of potential.

Mel: Yeah absolutely on day to day basis being I guess genuinely receptive to that. So I guess you know that includes and be very confronting at times. Being able to be completely receptive and take that on board and be able to turn that into something constructive right.

Barry: Absolutely. We all know what our customers think until we hear it huh. We want to know what they think and that we are wonderful and that we do incredible job for them and they think it is the most amazing thing they ever saw. That is not the case and it is not going to help us to grow even if we did an amazing job. How could we have done that better you know? How could we prove the situation? What else could we be doing to you that you need you know.

Mel: That’s right and if you are looking at your business and you are saying okay look I am happy where it is now but I would like to see it grow in terms of profitability then that’s where you need to be looking. Tapping into that and making sure that your fingers are on the post consistently. That’s great advice. Thanks very much for that. Now let’s talk about just a little bit you mentioned your days at yellow pages, are you still working with very big brands? Can you give us a bit of background into where you came from and what you are doing right now?

Barry: I started out as one of the sales kids for the neighbors and I did that from the time I was 7 and by the time I got to high school I started doing real sales job and basically worked my way through college selling advertising specialties. Started my own company doing that after college. It did quite well and I sold it somebody else and took paper on that. I found out how quickly somebody else could run your company into the ground. So I took the job with the fortune 100 company and having a bit of chip on my shoulder because I never really been in the corporate world. I wanted to see if I could play with the big boys so I busted my butt and worked as hard as possibly I could and became very successful with them which led to management position, consulting, I was writing at the same time so I wrote a book that got me a lot of attention. People started asking me to speak and consult and basically that was 20 years ago. I have been speaking consulting ever since and hopefully not bother the hell out of people ha-ha.

Mel: Oh I read your testimonials and definitely those are not the comments coming through at all. Really empower people finding that you are really changing I guess attitude to have doing things. You are empowering and encouraging them to find great stuff that’s in there every day. Can you tell us a little bit about how you do that? Because I am aware as a business owner myself. Sometimes it is hard. You have selected staff that have great people but whether for a variety of reasons that could be lacking energy. You have got some tips for us around how you can motivate and change that perhaps negative influence in your business?

Barry: Yeah one of the things that I do and I am lucky better consulting and speaking and just my business background working with all types of businesses, I have got to work in a whole lot of different industries. So I have been able to pick a bit out of this and little out of the other end of industry and put them together so I can bring something from one industry to another which is an idea where people look and say wow! Now that’s simple. I can use that right away. That makes sense. So those kind of things are really motivating. But one of things I talk about in small business people which I think is very important is the same thing that we talked about the customers. Making them feel important. If people think you have higher opinion for them, they will do to maintain opinion. Just about anything. I ask audience that how many of you think your people can achieve more than they believe themselves they can achieve and everybody raises their hands. Everybody place that. Show them the vision. Now make them feel important and build them up. It is not something that always works. Once in awhile I say to a group of people, three weeks later or month later if I had 900 people in that group, I am going to get a phone call, I am going to get an email from one of those people who says something like you know I tried making people feel important, I tried building these people up and it just doesn’t work with the losers we got around here and once in awhile it doesn’t work because if they keep on going and don’t respect you, they don’t give a damn about my friendship you know what you think about them. The more they respect you the higher they are going to look to maintain your opinion. Mark said great people make you feel that you too can become great. If you make people you work with feel like them have great, you know I don’t know if that makes you great person but again does it take off? Virtually every time.

Mel: So can you think of some example of somebody who has done that well the business? What that look like in that business? Is it about staff day to day and what someone can do right now if they are looking to change their culture right now and okay look what do I do? What is the first step in doing that?

Barry: Again what you do is you sit down with your people and find out what motivated them. You try to send a vision that you have, the one that encompasses their goals and their aspirations. If you don’t know their goals and their aspirations are, they are never going to believe. You really want them to become everything that they can be. You got to understand your people. You got to sit down and find what motivated them. Then you show them that you are going to help them get there. Show them the vision what the company have for them or the operation can become. Show how your vision can help them wherever they want to go. Show them how your vision can make their dreams come true. Everybody got dreams right. Doesn’t matter how ethical they seem. Everybody got dreams.

Mel: Absolutely and tapping into those that designate the time having these sort of conversation where you can get to genuinely understand and know your people. Good advice.

Barry: If you don’t know your people you are not going to succeed in long term as a small business person.

Mel: I agree absolutely. Now Barry in terms of who you work with now, is there a business that you can share with us around what sort of impact this has had one improving the business? Is there anyone you can think have that had that considerable shift and what that result in?

Barry: Well let me give you one that is off the wall. It is not a business but whatever you think of that organization and people have different feelings of it. I have never known anybody in this organization that didn’t love and grape about it. This is an organization that does an astonishing job of motivating people and helping them achieve whatever their goals are. I mean this organization is so bizarre. They can take people just out of high school. Get them to leave their family, leave their friends, travel halfway around the world for some god forsaken place and put their lives in danger and the organization is the military. Now what are they doing? The US army motto is to be all that you can be right and that’s what they are doing. That’s what military does all over the world. I don’t care what country it is. I don’t care what their political system is, what they believes are, they get people and they motivate them by showing their dreams in conjunction with the dreams of the operation. But the goals of the operation are the goals that person values and what they want to be part of and they can be on either side of the war. If you are talking about US army, if you are talking about ISIS. They are basically showing people how this organization is going to help them achieve their dreams and it is done for good and it is done for evil. But it is incredibly powerful things. So powerful people will die for.

Mel: That’s right. Absolutely. I guess people are genuinely attracted to the elements of patriotism being able to stand up for what they believe and those people come to the party already I guess along the way in that training or as they are part of the military. That will have to be ongoing as confronting situation appear and thing become difficult, it maintain that and I imagine that would be difficult.

Barry: It is almost as small business people and we all got to look at this and say this is extraordinary and I am not talking about either side. They are both motivating people. They are showing these people how their vision to the operation is going to help these people make their dreams come true. Again it could be the Syria Army, it could be the rebels against them. They are both full of highly motivated people by showing their vision for the operation and organization is going to help those people achieve their own dreams and if you get people to die for, what you should be able to do if you can do that in your business?

Mel: Absolutely yeah. Thanks for sharing that example. It is absolutely possible. Setting time aside making sure you do that and keeping in tune with people to make things much better. Now let’s change the tone a little around. I like to visit you book called no lie truth is the ultimate sale tool. I mean when we think about sales sometimes, it obviously transparency is really important but can you give me your opinion on what that looks like truth is the ultimate sales tool.

Barry: Yeah. It’s very strange. I wrote that book because when you deal with the salesperson or a business owner. When you talk to these people and they try to convince or persuade you that they got a great product to service. They are going to present this as if they have one product or one service in the history of humanity that’s perfect. Doesn’t have any flaws and anything wrong with it. If you point out well that’s what it wrong with it, oh no bla bla bla. Oh it sounds kind of expensive, oh no it is not expensive. Not broken down your day. 27 cents an hour or minutes or whatever, they will do whatever they can to convince you that they doesn’t have any flaws at all. That’s insane. That’s no way to present a product. Nothing builds credibility by pointing out the negatives of your own products and your own services. Now you are right, it doesn’t do that. Is it expensive? Absolutely. Here is the reason it is expensive, because our clients are willing to pay these kind of rates for the kind of results it generates. I mean somebody ask me if the consultation is expensive, I am going to tell them absolutely. Why do I charge so much? Because I can. That’s what my clients are willing and they are happy to pay those kind of rates for the results I generate. Can you find somebody else to do the job for yes? Absolutely I give you the phone numbers. Why do they charge less? No idea. I don’t know a lot of companies that charge less or more but maybe they are humanitarians or maybe the implication maybe is they charge less because that’s what their clients are willing to pay for the results they generate.

Mel: You are right. So outlining the negatives actually helps build that trust because yeah it is being really clear and straight up in honest and I guess in terms of being able to keep that person as a potential long term client is escalated as well.

Barry: Yeah and you don’t present it in a bad way. For example I talk about how much I charge as a consultant. That’s after I have already convinced them and shown them the kind of results I can generate for them as a consultant. That’s after I shown them maybe some of the testimonials I mentioned on the website for them to be convinced and after telling them that yeah I charge that much because I can, I also say that I am the most affordable consultant you are going to find of my caliber and credentials which also is a position of a speaker and position to be of a most affordable speaker of my caliber and credentials. Not cheap, okay but the biggest bank for your box is how I present that. There is nothing wrong in bringing the negative in there but before you throw the negative in there or during you are throwing the negative in there you got to be sure that you established value too. So you don’t want to turn yourself into commodity and you don’t want to be selling just for negatives but after you presented what a great deals your product is, there is nothing wrong with throwing in negatives to build trust and to just show that you arrived and ultimately it is going to better anyway because the clients are going to find out about those negatives sooner or later anyway. So better to hear it from you.

Mel: Absolutely I agree. Wholeheartedly! Now can I talk to you around attracting customers, what do think if you were to…I am thinking about in terms of accusations of new customers and retentions? Do you have any opinions on which is more important or…

Barry: Well which is cheaper ha-ha.

Mel: Well I believe retention is.

Barry: Absolutely. It is a lot cheaper to retain a customer than to get a new one. So it a lot easier. The other thing is a customer who is already comfortable with you is like a speaker. When I got to the audience, doesn’t matter how many presentations I have done, doesn’t matter how much they loved me in the last 50 places that I went to or whatever amount of place I went to, I have got to resale myself from the get go. Every time I step on the stage and that’s the same thing with the business getting a new customer right, you got to sell yourself from a get go. Old customer, they know you for good better and different. You don’t have to re-sale yourself, you don’t have to spend the marketing dollars. One of the reasons why we can keep the rates is we don’t spend a lot on marketing. I have been in a business where speakers can keenly spend 6 figures in USD on marketing. We spent almost nothing on marketing because our whole trust is to do this presentation as what dollars I can possibly do for that customer between spending whole lot of time finding out what their needs are and everything I can find out about them so I can weave into the presentation and customizing it fairly for them and having a nicer presentation they think about well this guy is great, we bring him back next year to find out more about him. So it keeps the marketing cost to eventually nothing. We spend nothing on marketing and then people referral to other people and audience and they have other groups. It just and if you get it your business just generating more business you get yourself in a motion machine. You do that by the quality of the product and the quality of the service you provide. That is your best marketing.

Mel: Fantastic. Now can I ask if somebody does have a marketing budget and that they know they are going to be spending money on acquisition and retention, would you be able to give us a percentage in terms of what you think you should be attributing to each side?

Barry: You know I have written books on marketing and written books on advertising and I don’t believe in what percentage should be spending on that. I don’t believe in budgeting your marketing dollars that way. At least not in a one side at all basis. It just kind of depend on the businesses. It is a whole lot of different and if I got a shoe store in a mall okay, that mall is doing a lot of advertising and I have got all kinds of traffic coming in there that’s going to generate business to itself and I have to do less advertising. If I got a shoe store 15 miles out of town, I am going to have to do a whole lot of more advertising because of concerns of having these people coming back time after time the way that I might not have to do a shoe store in a mall and people are going to go in that mall all the time anyway. So it really varies to not only industry to industry but business to business. I do know if you scripting on advertising and I say this is somebody who spend almost no money strictly on ads but everything be spend on kind of ads which is we do, which is delivering the best product we can. You gotta have that budget whatever it is. I see people particularly starting a business. I see people spend a fortune on office, fortune on all kinds of things like uniform and people and all kinds of things and never let people know about their business and figuring out how it is going to generate itself.

Mel: Yes. Getting everything else for the pretty things in place all the things that yes we believe instead of actually getting starting to give yourself the opportunity for attraction with uniforms and other things you talking about aren’t going to start generating any dollars are they?

Barry: No they may be important to take you down the line but initially and particularly until your business is up and self-sustaining and we know that, I spend a huge amount when started budget on ads and marketing. I had to because nobody knew who I was and get it started we may find in down the line that you may cut on that and still keep it going if you are delivering kind of quality that you should be delivering but particularly initially you got to have budget enough money to make sure that people know about you.

Mel: Yeah absolutely spreading the word and making sure that you are getting up and out and making some noise. Before we finish up Barry I just love to hear and I am going to ask you three top tips, what would you say if you had to choose what would be your top tip to attract more customers or it would be your top tip to attract or to increase your profitability and what would be your top tip for more freedom in business? I know that’s another topic you talk about which we haven’t got to today. Perhaps we talk it another time day down the line but what is your top tip to attracting more customers?

Barry: My top tip as I said before is to deliver the best possible job you can do for the customer you do right now. So they refer you to other people and then the testimonials are out there. There is nothing better than a satisfied customer. As you said on my web page we not only got a testimonial page with literally hundreds of testimonials there but we have got testimonials right into the side on flash. They come in and they go and one testimonial after another on the side of every page there. Because these are real testimonials from real people and real companies. People are going to see them. They can relate to the companies and they know obviously we didn’t make these things up. We are giving the company a name and name of the person that, and that builds huge credibility. So doing that kind of quality work that generates those testimonials is right way to generate or repeat business. The next question was?

Mel: Yeah around increasing profitability. If someone looking right now in their business what would you say would be the first place you are looking to in order to increase the profitability in a real retail industry?

Barry: One of the things in a retail industry that people forget to do and they don’t properly train their people to do is sell your ad on. You got a customer in there front of you, he is buying shoes. That shoe looks great. Hey, you know what we got here? We got casual shoes too, I bet you want to take a look at these and we got shoe polish and we got all these other things. They don’t have to bombard the person after another but if a few little ad-on are going to make a huge difference in the bottom line. Most of the time people leave money on the table. Money that customer would love to spend because they walk out of the store and we have all done it. After they go out of the store they have oh I forgot some other shoes or laces. So just a little bit of that effort, just accelerate to the right way so you don’t have to push that is annoying and this is actually trying to help the customer, can be very effective. I live in a house right now where we bought this house from a gentlemen who had a customer designed, he designed a nice house but the salesman was selling him the various ad-on, didn’t take the trouble to sell him a door from the garage in the trash area. So if we want to take our trash out, we have to open the garage door or carry the garbage across the living room to the back door. Simply because salesperson sold this house didn’t do the kind of job he should have done for the customer. They explain to the customer how much they needed that extra door. A lot of times if you are doing these kind of suggestive ad on sell correctly, you are doing it for the customers benefit. You find out and think what their needs are and you move in that direction.

Mel: I agree. It is very important to educate your staff on that angle. It is really not about bringing in more dollars. It is about being able to pre-imp their needs and suggestion is not pushy. It doesn’t have to feel that way at all. Great advice thank you and one last question I am looking for. If you can share with us as I said we talked to you rightfully down the line about this a little bit more but you know time saving measures for business owners, what can you suggest would give more freedom in terms of being able to step out a little bit and have that little bit of breather or space away, what could people be doing?

Barry: Hah that’s a really good question. One of the things that I do when I felt I am getting in and it is a little bit of exercise, when I feel that I am getting too wrapped up in my work which we can all do particularly when it is building up and that’s one of the habits of being in business yourself certainly. But what I do and I try to do this every once and awhile, I see myself getting wrapped up. I sit down and make list of the five things that I consider most important in my life. They tend to be the same thing but and I think people should do this once in awhile. Then get a list right beside it of the top 5 ways you spend your time last week. Take out sleeping and take out 40 hour week okay because we got to do that but add all the extra stuff and open above that 40 hour week and that’s just spending time there and top 5 ways you spend time outside the work of that 40 hours and see how you are spending your time and then compare those 2 lists and it is usually amazing because usually 5 most important things in your life don’t have much correlation with the 5 things you spending most time on outside of your work and sleeping. Let’s say 40 hours of work and sleeping.

Mel: I love it Barry yeah absolutely we all know how the goal set but I guess to really look at what’s happening right now and actually compare, it gives that picture of how far away I guess we are of doing those high value things in our life you know. Business and family or otherwise.

Barry: That’s why we are doing it right. I mean we are doing these jobs, we are building these businesses to opt the things that whatever the 5 things are that we consider the most important. That’s why we are doing the business. But what happen sometimes is the tales start to go in the dog and the business becomes more important than those things which we know already are the important things.

Mel: Yes absolutely great advice. Barry thank you so much. Now if our listeners, they want to get in contact with you perhaps they want to book you for speaking gig or they want to be following what you are up to, where can they find you?

Barry: Well they can find me on my website which is www.barrymaher.com which everyone of course know how to spell and there is more about me than anybody ever wanted to know. There is a couple of hundred articles which I think a lot of small business people should have some interest in or large people working for large businesses as well. There is video speaking. There is more about than anybody ever wanted to know. They can sign up for newsletter, they can send us an e-mail. They can do whatever they want.

Mel: Excellent. Yeah that is a good reading. I am having a good read through your website. There is plenty there. Look, thanks very much for your time, really enjoyed listening and chatting with you today, thanks for coming in the show.

Barry: Well thanks again for having me out there.


Thanks for the listening to the customer centric show, for additional smart ways to attract more customers, profits and freedom head on over to the website www.customercentricshow.com.

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28. Crushing Growth Goals With Hunter Boyle

28. Crushing Growth Goals With Hunter Boyle

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with Mel Telecican (Customer-Centric Coach)

Episode 28. Crushing Growth Goals With Hunter Boyle

You are listening to the customer centric show with Mel Telecican, where we talk with successful business owners and experts to share smart ways to attract more customers, profits and freedom by thinking about customers first. Now, here is your host Mel Telecican.
Mel: Hello and welcome to today’s show. My guest today is Hunter Boyle. He is a business builder, global adventurer, speaker and philanthropist. Hunter helps organizations optimize their sales marketing return on investment and GST that gets stuff done. He is passion for optimization. Content marketing has produced triple digit gain since the dot-com days. It has also fueled over 400 articles, webinars, workshops and podcasts ranging from entrepreneur and newsweek to marketing professionals, marketing shipper, kicks matrix, conversion excel and many more. His newest project is optimization co-pilot and as the name suggests it is about marketing strategy and content development ensuring that businesses get more growth from their online marketing and sales initiatives. I love the phrase on the website landing page it says let's crush your growth goals. That sounds very good. Good to have you with us today Hunter.
Hunter: Thank you so much Mel, it is pleasure to talk with you.
Mel: Now we start our show every time with an example of a business that you believe is customer centric and give us some reasoning for it. What’s yours?
Hunter: Well that’s a great question. I would say having been in Australia for all three months Mel, one that really stood out to me quite a bit has been the optics folks, when I was making a move here from Philadelphia, there is obviously a lot of different things to set up and getting setup with mobile, Wi-Fi and all that sort of things and we ran into some real issues with getting the Wifi going in our neighborhood or the area of Melbourne. So we were on a bit of backlog and it was a while for the Wi-Fi router to get here and Star Trek kept screwing up the delivery and meanwhile we were just chewing up bandwidth mobile plan but while star trek was not holding up the delivery side in days we are going by with was going into tons of couple of 100 dollars off this folks who were very good about trying to help us reverse the charges. They put their credit on there, they are trying to get the Wi-Fi router sorted. Went to the store and found out they couldn’t help us there but even the person in the store was very helpful in suggesting an alternative. So I am still not 100% clear on how this works but while they didn’t have a particular slot for us in their broadband at a time, we are able to go with a different provider but thanks to that store recommendation we were aware of that and were able to get that sorted. They did their best so stuck with them on their mobile. The short story to that one is it is complete night and day from a lot of what I was dealing with AT&T and COMCAST where I was illegitimately charged for services after I sort of stopped my contracts and I was on the phone and dealing with six different reps at a time to sort of get things sorted. It really stands apart for that reason. So my vote here at least in the short term goes to the office.
Mel: Oh that’s great. So when you saw them in store, it was about helping you find a solution even though it was not necessarily using their service is that right?
Hunter: Correct.
Mel: Yeah that’s brilliant. Good to hear. That’s great news. Can you give our audience a little bit of background about where you come from? You just moved from the states a few months ago as you said, share with us your successes and what has led you then starting your new business here?
Hunter: Yeah sure. Do you know the Beatle song, I will try and take a shortcut on that one because it is kind of a bizarre story. It is really combination of things starting to dropping at a high school and working 20 jobs. By age 18 going to a high school, there was a generalize scholarship, there is a semester in London, there was designing of magazine. So basically over the past 20+ years, I have had I don’t you maybe you at ADHD I am not sure exactly what you call it but a focus on working in content and design as well as sales and marketing in different capacities. So
Mel: Yeah I love it and thank you for explaining your background because when you said that when you first came back and you are working both of those opportunities were there for you and you actually filtered right through your life and now you are coming back to sort of full circle I guess to as you say co-pilot is a perfect name for it. You working on the ground closer with business owners so that you can get those results and love the measurement side of things definitely coming to play because not everyone is connecting back to measurements and making sure that you can track your return on investment.
Hunter: Yes definitely. I think analytics is one of the toughest area. A lot of companies, not just clients that I work with just I have seen for so many years I mean even google analytics is free, it used to be web trends or you core metrics or a lot of the older systems used to pay a fair amount but the google analytics became free and just became the number one platform, so many sites and businesses use that but they still aren’t using it to even to half of it’s potential. They know it is there, they can check it but I still work with organizations that they don’t know, you can set up these customers ports, you can do all these things and you can have them sent to you and you don’t have to keep going back all the time. Analytics is just one aspect, there are a whole bunch of different factors that work in similar ways. It is just really tricky to keep an eye on all of those things in the dashboard. So that’s another reason I thought of co-pilot for this new venture and it really works along those same lines to kind of help steer businesses and work directly with founders, entrepreneurs and leaderships to do a lot of the things that they can always do because they are focused on what is in front of them.
Mel: Yes absolutely and that’s the biggest obstacle. Just in the day to day operations right.
Hunter: Pretty much right.
Mel: You mentioned just before that when it comes to analytics there are areas where people are going to look. Are there any glaringly obvious one or two examples where you feel the easy things that people could be fixing or the easy areas that they be looking at to be able to get more information and to be able to make better choices going forward?
Hunter: I would say as I worked with a lot of e-commerce companies and clients. A lot of them have their goal setup. A lot of organizations that use google analytics maybe aren’t ecommerce. I find there are still few organizations that don’t use goals as effectively as they could. Either not setting them up or not having them as finely tuned as they could be. So I mean goals with google analytics are very rare rubber. You can look at your traffic number and those sort of things but when it comes to taking those extra steps in analytics and making sure you understand your conversion funnel, that’s where customer pads and goals really come to the forefront. Those are some of the big ones and then I still find sometimes as well a lot of times it is not with the analytics themselves but a lot of google does with its master tools, it can be pretty closely related as you see there is a lot of inner play. But sometimes we see that those opportunities are not there. So companies and clients wonder about SEO impact and these sort of things and some of the basics of getting maps and just a lot of other things within google. That aren’t necessarily being done and easy to do. So these are kind of things I keep discovering and talking about and helping clients understand. So those are two probably the biggest areas in there and it drills down in the most specific space on what type of site and those type of numbers but those two are a good starting point.
Mel: Yeah great and those analytics are constantly changing in terms of the new functionalities they offer to.
Hunter: Google analytics is almost completely different than it did a year and a half and two years ago. I mean they are constantly optimizing the tool itself. They are adding features and moving user interface around. Things that you may have been doing a year or two ago or if you are in that where you maybe check in couple of months recording and something like that by the time you got back there you are trying to figure out how to use these new advanced features. So yeah it definitely critical because that’s about half of your understanding of your customer base right. That’s your quantitating side and your analytics from what you see on the site combined with tools like click tracking or some session recording and those type of things and your quantitative side is the part where you are talking with your customers, you are getting the real feedback, you are using like the welcome series to ask them what you can be doing to help them and using social and paying attention and all that. So much of that really takes a lot of time. Founders and particularly entrepreneurs who are trying to run enterprise and focused on delivering the service and that kind of thing, it’s just almost impossible to keep all of that going and that’s really an important part that often gets left just by necessity but you know…
Mel: Yeah that makes perfect sense. You mentioned earlier before that your target market is small/medium sized business owners. Is that correct?
Hunter: Partly yeah. I work with pretty wide spectrum of clients but I definitely enjoy working with small or medium sized organizations.
Mel: Right. So when you think about your business compared to that competition then what is it that separates you? How are you client centric?
Hunter: Oh that’s great question. For me that often comes to probably two things. One being the emphasis on training and education. So not just providing the service but again the co-pilot metaphor really helping either solo entrepreneurs or entrepreneurs with small teams and the people on their teams really understand the processes and the approaches that are used in how and why they work so it is kind of that teaching manifest feeding for the lifetime thing. The other one would be a broader approach to what I consider growth optimization rather than just conversion rate optimization. I mean there are a lot of great friends of mine and a lot of fields that are focused on customer optimization as far as tenting and change of processes and that’s definitely a huge part of what I do. I find there a lot of the market tends to be very segmented by channels. So there are tons of different search engine optimization providers. That help with adverts and social media adverts. Then there are big full service agencies that do everything but a lot of time they tend to be too big for clients at this levels. So where I kind of fit in a little bit differently is I work across all of those different channels having experience with pretty much everyone that I have mentioned over the years. So that when you have small organizations that don’t just want to do SEO and the pay for drive a lot of traffic to their site but the site is not optimized for the conversions, rather than kind of putting all of the budget to the SEO or PPC or PR, but then not having the upside benefits of having a site that’s ready to capture all that and turn into RLI. I can work with clients across that spectrum and if they have a real opportunity of growth in any one of those channels, that’s where we can focus our efforts and move from channel to channel with a big contract and massive multiyear sort of contract and team like that and if it grows in scales and kind of agency partners that can work two side up alongside that. So it is sort of slightly different approach than kind of a typical consultant module and it fits well that in different background and I think a lot of different organization can really benefit from. So far the response has been really good.
Mel: That’s great and I like the idea of actually being looking at what your opportunities are as a post to focusing in those single areas as you mentioned before. Very good. Let’s talk about effective marketing campaigns that you have been involved in. Can you give an insight into what made it successful and just how big the result was?
Hunter: Yeah actually I have gone to different campaigns and thinking about the common threat between a couple of these, it really is more so the strategy than some of the individual tactics. Tactics are always important but what I found has really worked very well in couple of instances for me has been the approach to co-marketing and you know sometimes organization call that channel partners and partnership marketing and relationship marketing and whatever label you choose to use from that. It has been the area that I have focused on for the past few years to great effect at marketing experiments where I led the content marketing. We actually worked in different channels and I put the strategy in the play where we took the webinars from a very much in-house internal focused approach to bring on a lot of different guests and partners and within a year we have increased the audience by a 185%. So by the weekly webinars we had an average of over a 600 listeners. This is still around 2008. It was certainly good time to take webinar marketing upto high level and then in conjunction with that what we were doing also had a great impact on the other channels. So we doubled the e-mail list. We got 60+% increase in blog audience by taking the re-design and taking some of the same principles. We grew the social media audience by 40% if I recall. All of these different factors were driving a pretty significant increase in the sales leads for our team there to really follow up and bring people who were getting a lot of very valuable education for free into a relationship whereby even if they weren’t ready for a full page relationship with the agency side just then. It was very good for building relationship that need a value first connection in their minds with the brand. So you are not just increasing the sales lead pipeline in the short term, you are also increasing a long tail pipeline. So when people aren’t ready necessarily for your service right now, but they have been getting the value from your webinars for three months, six months, something like that and they are ready to buy. Who is going to be the first organization they can think of? That was a massive success. I took a lot of roles to a business development and so working in joint campaign with a lot of tech partners and the immigration partners there. So unbound leadpages, copy bloggers and dozens of other one particular on an e-commerce platforms and other digital marketing partners and over the course of some of those initiatives we were producing triple digit increases in retention and some of lifetime value for some of the top customers. As well as launching initiatives there to really provide some premium level support for some of the top level customers and some of the influencers there. So in the digital marketing space working with a lot of people who have great audiences that would still benefit from the same product and working with them to help reach their audience from a co-marketing campaign was something very instrumenting and keeping some of the growth and retention at a high performing level.
Mel: I love it. So co-marketing is like partnering with people who have the same audience or the same target market as you have got. So that you can reach them and that’s not competing right?
Hunter: Right so it is more of a collaborative approach to growth. So instead of just blasting customers over and over with promos and discounts and you know product news to audiences that may have heard you already or they have signed up and there is whole different spectrum there but if you are working with and working particularly well with a sales product. So the market is tool campaign that we did with un-balance and hubspot and metrics and optimize. So I think there are 9 products in the product bundle and we all put discount opportunity in place there teamed up so all these products work very well all together. Hence the marketers toolbox concept and so I mean that was a great promotion the folks unbalance. They have amazing job putting that one together using a lot of those same kind of bundling and collaborating and co-promoting efforts are what I was referring to kind of co-marketing approach or the collaborative approach that hubs to expose new audience to your products and services with the globe of that referral with that recommendation from a service that they already trust or the brand or the influence.
Mel: Yes and I can see how this is perfectly small initiative for small and medium sized businesses because it means that the networks they have in long competing industries, it is a long term approach to being able to keep a relationship when they are ready to buy what you have to offer right.
Hunter: Exactly. Absolutely.
Mel: Okay. Thank you for explaining that. That’s the opportunity that a lot of businesses could definitely do with the networks they have right now and it is just un-touched opportunity at this point for a lot of and I see lots of big businesses and it is sort of very common but definitely underutilized opportunity there for small business. So great tip thank you for that. Now, can I ask you another question? What do you suggest that people should be doing our listeners who have retail business let’s say, what they could be doing to be more client centric in store and beyond the transaction because you have worked with a variety of businesses and I know you understand the value of beyond the sale. Can you give us insights into what your thoughts are currently around those topics?
Hunter: Absolutely. So I met to work with a webinar and it was e-mail marketing platform for small businesses. So while I was doing what I was doing from an internal level with a web, I had the opportunity to meet with so many businesses who are in retail and you know a lot of what we did in education. So I got tons of different stories and challenges. So I know the market really well and one of the things that I think about and I come in threat that come through is just thinking about the personal side and what I mean by that is really the best thing that you can do with your retail business or even a small business that is just kind of operating in markets or things like that is doing the very best that you can with personal approach. That’s what going to set your business apart from any of the larger chains that hear and admire major stories but what people really want is that special connection and that emotional feel. So for example, one of the things that we think about in terms of putting real high priority on is finding the right person to cut our hair. At least I do and I am not alone for that. So I can’t speak for everybody but finding when I moved here from the states I left behind women who cut my hair for 4+ years because the first time I walked in there, I had great experience, I felt very much at home to did the job right. It was great value and it’s just something that you feel emotionally because when your haircut comes out right, you feel good because you look good and I mean not for nothing that her business need. It is not just that haircut place. But hotels. If you think about restaurant and hospitality and these are kinds of experiences that we really are going to get stuck in our heads and that we are going to refer our friends to. For example there is a restaurant in my old neighborhood in Philadelphia where the chef had moved to three different towns over 12 years with 4 different restaurants and it was such a good experience that I would make a point to kind of go and find where John was with his restaurant you know Carmen feel when he moved out to Phoenix and moved on to Myanmar. So I mean those are experiences that go beyond the transaction. So there is a way to make it really easy and enjoyable for people who want to come back to rave about you in their friends and family and then you come back and bring friends with right. So that is tactical but having the value of overall experience is so critical because you can all the same tactics. You can social and giveaways. I love loyalty cards. Those are great. The place where I get my haircut now. I have a loyalty card that’s wonderful. It’s not the cheapest place but it have all those other notes in the same for different hotels that attempted change and I remember since my first experience in Palmar in San Francisco in 2004 and in fact I can’t even remember that is just remarkable. But those are the kind of things that small businesses can do and really when you are able to make those connections with people then those things stick in their head a lot more and it becomes more than just tactical and transactional. Those are the epidemic of the customer centric approach to value and service.
Mel: It has got to be real doesn’t it? because it not really sustainable when or consistent if people I guess have a face on I mean everyone has a face on some degree and everyone doesn’t have a good time but to keep that up in consistency of same friendly or same service its…
Hunter: If you have to fake it you are doing the wrong thing with your work. You don’t have to be the most charismatic person as a business founder. I know I am not but if you have people who work for you on your team can provide that service and experience for that customers. Maybe you are the silent partner or maybe you find some other ways you hire people for better of that part but yeah you can’t fake it. Like if you are in a store and you have been in there and you are having a bad day three days a week that’s not sustainable you know.
Mel: And it must be harder to do as you grow to be able to make sure that with your staff you can actually give off I guess the vibe of the venue that you have whether by retail hospitality or otherwise but being able to spread that across and it comes down across probably selecting the right people who have the same I guess vision for the business that they work and they really on purpose. They are in the right place.
Hunter: Yeah you are right and it is so ironic because one of the things that growth can do is stretch out business owners and that sort of leads to that bad day things so people with really good intentions and growth is a great thing but if those sort of things can put that strain on there, then you are right. Finding people who are very aligned with your values and your vision and can provide that same type of experience. It’s probably best to give them the floor and then just step back a little bit and make sure that your customers are really getting the best as they can and as much as they can.
Mel: Yes absolutely and I have to do that in my business actually and I never realized that well I certainly wasn’t bad at the front of my restaurant. I soon realized when I employed a restaurant manager wow you know like he is really comfortable with this and that was really good for me to see. I couldn’t see it myself. I think it is the most interesting thing and perhaps we don’t see that we could be better placed in our businesses doing different things too.
Hunter: Oh you are so right and I was talking about partnerships from a marketing perspective and a collaborative in those campaigns that I mentioned but honestly that is so huge as well for small businesses because if you are trapped in a situation where you are trying to do too many things which is almost a 100% small businesses right. Like your own situation. It shows like restaurant revolution or top chef when they do challenges and they have team do front and back of the house. It is all about teamwork and collaboration and knowing where your team works are and knowing where your limitation and your weaknesses are and using the kinds of support method that you have whether it is a co-founding partner or whether it is virtual assistant or staff like whatever the right fit is but really finding that and making sure that you have got a process that makes it really easy for customers to engage that level and it is so easy to overlook because of all of those different especially the founders and wanting that control and doing certain way and that’s where things are like let go or let other people in on that but I find so many incidences where people can do that, you will find the rewards shocking and you will blow away on how much better than can work.
Mel: So much better in my experience absolutely. Now speaking of trying to do lots of things, when we are talking about marketing to our customers or potential customers, how do you think we should be doing that? Should we be doing through social media? Should we be going out on our list? Where should people be starting? Because there are so many opportunities out there. What’s your take on the current best practices?
Hunter: This is great question. It is kind of catch 22 answer. I think all of the above makes sense but with a huge caviar right. You want to certainly make sure that you are reaching people where and how they want to be reached. But I don’t think that it necessarily means that you try and knock out every single channel for tactic across the board especially if you are dealing with limited resources and audiences that may really not care so much about the fact that you have google+ presence or you know a twitter presence. So I used as one example because for many restaurants you can do on twitter and there plenty of success stories out there so I am not suggesting that you don’t do twitter but think about your audience. If you audience and if it is catering to kind of upscale electric mark would be a little bit of an older dining set. Are they going to be finding on twitter? Perhaps not and I think about that from a different perspective. Say food trucks for example. Food trucks, there are bunch in states at least making their living on twitter because that keep you upto date on where they are as they move around a certain city in different location. So it really comes back to understanding your customer base first of all. Your demographics of customers of who they are and if you figure out how they are using channels like email or social media. That’s where analytics comes into play and that’s where using qualitative data and just putting real thoughts into how what you are doing is working in some respects and how that might not be working and making that puzzle a little more clear. That can give you at least short term prioritization for which channels you want to focus on and you can have tons of hundreds of thousands of whatever Facebook likes I mean that’s a great things but if you find that it is not actually driving your sales and you have been ignoring email or you haven’t been doing enough for search visibility, that would provide a bigger sale boost, that’s real problem. So I don’t have a real across the board prescription of which channel to use. I think this goes back to analyzing your digital properties and really knowing your customers and talking to them and using those insights to help prioritize your efforts and focus them because you are not going to be able to do them all by yourself even if you have huge budget in full service agency. I mean you can build up on those audiences but a lot of people are just going to sort of see a whole lot of numbers but time knowns in bottom line it really trick with that analytics. So that really guides the strategy. That’s where all the above makes sense when you use segments. You really hitting things to make the mark. Does it make sense?
Mel: Yes. Can I ask a question around choosing if you were to choose, is there any value in looking to successful competition and try what they are doing? Or is that something that we should steer away from?
Hunter: I think that’s definitely a great idea because when you look at competitors in your market. It is not just competitive analysis, if you are taking that same approach then you are taking a same approach for your prospective customer are right and I don’t think that competitive analysis is always seeming that right. Sometimes when we are within the organization we kind of look at in our framework. But really what you are doing as well is looking at how they have been found? What is their value proposition? What they are doing well and what they are maybe not doing so well and have to kind of put your own competitive bias slightly on hold and see how it is that other customers are finding them and what other customers are seeing and perceiving about them and saying about them. Using that as an opportunity to not copy what they are doing but to really think about your own business and your own unique value proposition because a lot of times one of the biggest opportunities that organization miss is figuring out your unique value proposition and what that means and what sets your business apart and why your customers are doing business with you instead of competitors in your market right and their ways to figure that out and looking at others helps to kind of do that comparison so you can see where the differences really are and then you combine that with thinking about hey what your own customers tell you that they love the most? What are they raving about? What are the things that they tell you as feedback in e-mail or the person in the store and you know when someone comes in and they say oh you know my brother once told me that we had to check this out because of this and the other thing. These are all the factors that help you see the bigger picture and once you realize what is one of those key factors are that attract and retain some of your ideal customers, those are the things you can emphasize with again not just your digital properties in your marketing but your offers and the way that you approach businesses in the way you interact with those customers. So yes I think it is a perfect way to spend not heaps of time but definitely a place to emphasize to start in an action plan.
Mel: Great. Well thank you for insights there. Next question I have for you is around retention versus acquisition of customers. So working on spending money on keeping customer you currently have or spending money to get new ones? Do you have ratio % attribution to either side? What’s your thoughts?
Hunter: I don’t have strict ratio but I mean the ratio would come down to revenue number. So for just any business particularly industries like software you know term rate is one of the key indicators. Turn rate is number of customers who sign on versus the percentage that drop off. So for software product there could be 30 day free trial from coming onboard and starting to pay for service and then cancelling the service. So that’s just one type of indicator but if you look across any industry you will see tons of case studies and research to choose to acquire new customer than it does to retain and grow an existing customer right. So I always prioritize retention because if you already made that first impression and you have gotten customer buy from you once, hopefully and ideally if you are providing excellent experience, it is easier to cost a lot less for them to come back in case to acquire someone to don’t comeback. So again there are a lot of variations on this. It could be selling one product or it could be kind of one-time thing so you have restaurant and somebody is just visiting your city from overseas or things like that so it is not a cut and dry case but in general if you are in a business whether it is a hospitality or service business that relies on business or truly benefits from repeat customers, then doing whatever you can to make that experience worthy is going to be huge because when that happens, they become your ambassadors, your extension of sales team. They are bringing in friends and family back when they are referring it and that’s not costing you anything additional there. You are just at your cost of doing business right. Whereas if you are spending on ads those sort of things, they are notoriously difficult in some cases to track. They can be valuable but it is really hard when you are trying to up your expenditures and you are trying to figure out was that worth it or not. So I definitely say for businesses in stage where they are really looking to find out best places for growth, you can really emphasize working with existing customers but if you are finding that you turned customer base is not big enough that it is sustainable, then I would say an emphasis on accusation then becomes a higher priority.
Mel: You described it really well. I think that’s fantastic based on what you got and what you will be continuing to get actually determines where you should be focusing. Thanks for that. Can you give us a run down? We are looking for top tips around what you believe will keep customers then? You mentioned that you have sort of prioritization towards retention, what do you say let’s say for service or retail business do you have any key tips for what people should be doing to do that?
Justin: Yeah there are probably few different tips that work. I think you actually kind of touched on one. That was great, which was taking the concept of looking at competitors if you haven’t done competitive analysis for a little while. Using that sort of analysis and again you don’t have to spend weeks and weeks on it. But just doing that quick ground view from the customer’s perspective of how they are being presented with other choices from your own organization and with more conversation with them. If you haven’t, maybe you are talking to customers on regular day basis. You are interacting with customers all the time. You are busy doing that from a conversat