Have You Experienced Your Own Company Lately?

May 27, 2013

Note: This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” that helps you and your company thrive!

This week’s focus: experiencing your own company

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How can you accelerate growth if you firewall yourself and your company off from those who want to reach you?

  • Don’t you just love the voicemail systems that have just about every option in the galaxy but the one you want–to speak to another human being about a problem that isn’t on the menu? Would you like to hear our menu again? And, again?
  • Just this week, I overheard a receptionist at a multi-billion company refuse to put a call through to an executive when the caller was unable to provide a specific name. I’m sure she’s just following orders but really? Is she a receptionist or in the call prevention business?
  • When I asked the CEO to call his start-up company’s phone number last week, he learned that the receptionist puts his callers into a directory system wherein callers would have to enter his correct name on their keypad to match a listing in a directory to find a his voicemail box so they can leave him a message. Sounds like fun, right? People who need to reach him call him on his cell. Yet, his business card provides a company phone number that is the equivalent of a black hole. He didn’t know what dysfunction someone might encounter.
  • Have you ever tried to speak to a human at Google about a problem? Good luck with that! Google doesn’t want to interact with customers or prospects. I asked a question of a sales guy who knows me and he merely gave me a URL to answer my question. And, what happens if your question isn’t covered in the Frequently Asked Questions section? What if you don’t know what the right keywords are to find assistance? It must not be that important.

The Japanese employ the concept of “gemba” which means “go to where the work is.” To me, this means understanding what happens when customers, employees, stakeholders, suppliers try to interact with your company.

Only by doing this can you be certain of what’s happening on the other side of the transaction.

Thought for the week:

“Do not waste a minute living someone else’s dream.” – Michelle Obama

What do you think? I welcome your blog comments!

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Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com © 2013 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved Note:  To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe. Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.

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Hank The Wonder Puppy

May 20, 2013

A week ago, I was really concerned my son, Hank, a 13-year old Cocker Spaniel, might be at a cross roads in his life.  Hank had a fast-growing  tumor in his left hip. Fortunately, Nancy brought this to my attention and insisted I get him to the vet right away.

2011-09-24_14-58-54_952 Dr. Stanley Ueno at Kirkwood Animal Hospital in Campbell, California (who I have worked with since 1985), told me we had 3 possibilities, 2 of which involved cancer and could negatively impact his life with a third possibility that it might just be a fat tumor.

Due to Dr. Ueno’s skill and Hank’s will to live, Hank got  through what turned out to be a challenging surgical procedure.  The fat tumor, rather than being just under his skin, was growing behind his muscle. Dr. Ueno said he had only seen this once before. It was a significant challenge to remove it.

We brought Hank home last Tuesday night, about 4 hours after his surgery.  He has an incision that is about 8 inches long.  Hank had a tough night.  The next day, I carried him downstairs so he could go to the bathroom. We used a cloth strap to support his hind legs as he could put no support on his left leg.  This continued twice a day.

The rest of the time, Hank spent time on our bed. Friday night, Hank was outside and saw a one-year old, 80-pound white Labrador named Buster.  With me supporting Hank’s rear legs, Hank walked to the parking lot to see Buster up close and personal. I suspect their interaction was something like this:

Buster:  Dude, where you been?

Hank: Man, I had to have surgery this week.  It’s hard for me to walk right now but don’t think for a minute that I don’t know that you’ve been marking all my favorite spots outside the house.

Buster:  Me?

Hank:  Yeah, you! Knock it off. A little respect please!

And, with that, Hank turned and walked back to the house. Saturday, Hank needed no support to walk. Sunday, he went for a walk that is about half of what he usually does.  And, soon, he’ll be able to negotiate the stairs again.

Nancy and I are most grateful for every day we have with Hank.  We are amazed at the progress he’s made in such a short time.

And, we are especially grateful for the skill, care and expertise Dr. Ueno brings to those in his care.

Dave Gardner


Fighting The Status Quo

May 20, 2013

Note: This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” that helps you and your company thrive!

This week’s focus: fighting the status quo

My consulting practice is about accelerating growth through change. Occasionally, it feels like some would prefer my practice be more about “accelerating growth by preserving and maintaining the status quo.”

If you are about preserving and maintaining the status quo, you don’t need me. You can do that on your own.

There are implications of inaction. Have you taken a few moments to consider the implications of your status quo?

If the area you are responsible for is suboptimal in fulfilling its essential value to the company, ask yourself,

  • What is my legacy going to be?
  • When I am ready to move to a different company or area within my current company, what legacy will people ascribe to me?
  • Did I move the needle on the business? Or, did I pretty much support the status quo?
  • Did I produce measurable, value-laden, important business outcomes or can I merely report that we worked hard?

As my mentor, Alan Weiss, teaches: “We are here to make waves.” He’s right. Businesses that thrive eschew the status quo.

Thought for the week:

“The faster you build trust, the more likely you are to increase deal velocity.” – Dave Gardner

What do you think? I welcome your blog comments!

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Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com © 2013 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved Note:  To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe. Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.

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Dave Gardner To Keynote Endeavor Istanbul

May 19, 2013

I am very excited to announce that I’ve been invited to keynote Endeavor Istanbul on June 6th, 2013.  This event is about entrepreneurship.  I’ll be speaking about Designing Your Future.

If you are attending, I look forward to meeting you in person. If you aren’t attending, you are going to miss an incredible event!

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com


It’s About The Customer

May 13, 2013

Note: This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” that helps you and your company thrive!

This week’s focus: entreprenership

When President Bill Clinton was elected to his first term in the White House, his key political strategist, James Carville, brought laser-like focus to the campaign by coining the phrase, “it’s the economy, stupid.” This mantra ensured campaign staff focus for the duration of the campaign.

Istanbul Bazaar by Stitch

When I coach entrepreneurs, I encourage them to adopt the mantra “it’s about the customer.” An entrepreneur should be asking how they can:

  • address a need in someone’s life differently and better than others before them?
  • create engagement such that customers become addicted to their offerings?
  • get customers telling other customers about their experience with your product or service?
  • have customers sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for “what’s next?”

For Apple and the late Steve Jobs, it was all about the customer. Consider the iPhone. People in major metropolitan areas put up with AT&T’s dreadful cell phone coverage for years just to have an iPhone. Today, 50% of robberies in New York are iPhones stolen from people as they walk down the streets.

It’s not just about your product or service. If you focus on your customer and what they will crave, you will thrive. Conversely, if you aren’t providing a customer experience across all customer touch points, that will undermine your business and create opportunities for competition to steal market share and your customers.

If you want to thrive, make your mantra “it’s about the customer” and then do what’s essential to create an incredible customer experience through everything you do.

Photo Credit: Flickr by Stitch: Istanbul Grand Bazaar

Thought for the week:

“No idea works, until you do.” – Robin Sharma

 

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What do you think? I welcome your blog comments!

___

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2013 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Note:  To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe.

Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.

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Microsoft Admits Windows 8 Failure

May 7, 2013

In the Financial Times today, there is an interesting article called Microsoft Prepares U-Turn On Windows 8.  It’s not surprising to me. I wrote in this blog last fall a posting called Who Cares That Windows 8 Is Here? where I questioned the viability of the new operating system.

The Financial Times reports:

Microsoft is preparing to reverse course over key elements of its Windows 8 operating system, marking one of the most prominent admissions of failure for a new mass-market consumer product since Coca-Cola’s New Coke fiasco nearly 30 years ago.

“Key aspects” of how the software is used will be changed when Microsoft releases an updated version of the operating system this year, Tami Reller, head of marketing and finance for the Windows business, said in an interview with the Financial Times. Referring to difficulties many users have had with mastering the software, she added: “The learning curve is definitely real.”

It saddens me that Microsoft–one of the world’s great companies–could not have predicted what I did.

Innovation is never easy. Innovations need to connect with customer need. Windows 8 didn’t. There was great misalignment, misalignment that has impacted an entire industry.

Within days of the Windows 8 launch, the gentleman who led the effort resigned from Microsoft. While that would normally seem strange, in this particular instance my gut said he wanted to disassociate himself from the new offering–he knew it would be deemed a dud. It appears he, too, was right.

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

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American Airlines Social Media Rocks!

May 6, 2013

Note: This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” that helps you and your company thrive!

This week’s focus: social media

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I had to fly from Silicon Valley to Austin this past week and decided to:

  • Fly American Airlines for the first time in a few years (other airlines currently offer non-stops on this popular route that American pioneered back in the early 1980’s)
  • Use American’s mobile app for check-in, boarding passes and getting through security

I was really disappointed in the Android mobile app. I needed to get paper boarding passes for 3 of the 4 flights as I could not retrieve them via the mobile app. I did manage to get through security both times using the mobile app–it could have been a disaster to be sent back to the ticket counter to get a boarding pass!

I knew this result wasn’t up to American’s standards and wanted to speak to an executive about my experience. I believed that my insights could help them improve a situation I was convinced they weren’t aware of. I won’t bore you with all the details, but, here’s an executive overview:

  • I emailed customer relations who put me in touch with the web services team within one hour. Great!
  • The web services team told me I needed to speak to the third-party developer of the mobile app and gave me a phone number to call. This wasn’t what I wanted and I find it impossible to believe American would want me to speak with their technology vendor. I called as instructed. When AppleCare answered the phone, we both got a quite a chuckle as I knew Apple hadn’t built the Android mobile app on my Motorola Droid 4 phone.
  • I was then told to call the travel desk. I was given the main phone number for American. I tried 3 times and was never able to connect with a human being via their automated call system–hello?
  • I sent a Tweet: @AmericanAir I’ve invested nearly an hour to try to reach a human today to provide feedback about your Android mobile app…no success.

The social media team reached out to me within minutes. I provided more detail and my contact information. Within an hour or so, the gentleman responsible for the Android mobile app called me and I was able to give him information about my mobile experience. He learned about issues he was completely unaware of. He was very appreciative for my insights. I am confident my input is going to help them get closure on these issues. I’ll be watching and listening. And, now I know how to follow-up with him should I have issues in the future.

There is good news here. One, I was able to accomplish my mission to help American Airlines learn about usability issues with its Android mobile app and two, American Airlines restored my faith in them via their social media team who really shined! The social media team rapidly connected me to the right person and got that person to call me the same day.

There are lots of lessons in this short piece IF American chooses to go through this blog post carefully. Perhaps the social media team will help by making sure the executive in charge of customer experience sees this. Frankly, it would have been a lot easier for me to just give up on this issue, but, that’s not what I am all about.

For my readers, I ask you to consider do you really know what it’s like to contact your company should a customer have an issue? It is easy? Or, hard? If it’s hard, it will be hard for your company to thrive.

Thought for the week:

“Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent.” — Marilyn vos Savant

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What do you think? I welcome your blog comments!

___

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2013 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Note:  To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe.

Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.

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