Back in the days when I owned my own golf academy, the majority of golfers who came to us were looking to “fix” something. Like, “I need to fix my slice because I’ve ruined way too many family backyard BBQs at houses bordering the golf course.”
To understand better, I’d start by asking students what they thought of prior to hitting the ball. I’d get responses like:
“Well… when I step up to the ball, I look down at my feet to make sure that they’re at least shoulder width apart. The right foot has to be pulled back a bit more than the left foot, so it will help me come more from the inside as the club approaches the ball. Because we all know coming from the inside produces a hook (my comment: false) and I’ve been slicing to the right. Then I check my grip making sure I can see three knuckles on my left hand and two knuckles and my fingernails on my right hand. I squeeze the handle of the club and then release so I can feel the tension go away and get to about a ‘four’ grip-pressure on a scale of 1- 10. This will allow the club to unhinge my wrists automatically. I then look at my shoulders and the target to see where I’m pointing. Sometimes I let go of the club and place it across my shoulders to verify I’m pointing where I should be. Of course, that means I have to start the grip process all over again. From there….”
This thought process is typical for golfers who aren’t playing to their expectations. They overcomplicate the process when instead they should be simplifying it. I’ve never (as in NEVER) seen a person play better golf by adding more “things” to their thoughts or swing.
But as golfers tend to overcomplicate, I find this typical of my clients in the business world as well.
When asked what they’re doing to fix declining revenue, I often hear stuff like, “we’ve added more staff meetings, incorporated marketing analysis tools, identified KPIs, research consumer behavior, produce distribution reports, schedule specific meetings to discuss the reports, change products/services, lower prices, have staff put in longer hours, interpret demographical data, MORE meetings with key individuals to decipher the data”… on and on. Ugh x 2!.
Not that these aren’t important, but oftentimes the solution of why their revenue is dropping is as simple as the front-line staff SUCKS when it comes to customer engagement. As a result, customers don’t spend as much and/or leave and take their business elsewhere.
So how does one “simplify” business? Well… I want to keep this “simple” so I’m going to focus on just two areas to get you started:
1) ASK THE CUSTOMER. Seems simple but so overlooked. Businesses need to ask their current customers why they do business with them and ask their FORMER customers why they went elsewhere and what could have been done better to keep them. This should … no … NEEDS to be done DAILY. Right now (seriously… right now) pause here and contact at least three current customers and ask, “What are we doing right?” and “What can we do better?” Repeat tomorrow. The next day. The next day. The next… Do the same with former customers, asking, “What could we have done to keep your business? Where did we fail you?”
Case in point. During one of my workshops, I had each staff member in attendance call a customer to “check in” on them and see what they can do to make their experience better. One customer said that he was trying to find something on the business’s website, but it didn’t exist. The IT person was in the room and went “off” saying the customer was wrong. She got the business’s website up and searched for the item. Sure enough, the customer was right. The item didn’t exist. Oops.
2) ELIMINTATE LAYERS. Many businesses are buried in layers. A customer has a complaint and tells a front-line staff member. The front-line staffer in turn tells her supervisor. Who then elevates it to the manager. The manager makes the decision on how to proceed, tells the supervisor who then tells the front-line staffer who then tells the customer. If the issue is resolved. Done. If not, the process may start all over again until the frustrated customer asks to see the manager. Seriously. Does this sound like a good process?
Here are three steps to eliminate layers and change employee behaviors:
1) HIRE THE RIGHT PEOPLE! I hear so many stories of businesses hiring people out of convenience rather than taking the time to find the right people. If this is you, stop doing that right now. Trust me, it will cost you more money and CUSTOMERS in the long run.
Train, Train, then TRAIN some more! New and existing staff. FOREVER! You can’t hold your staff accountable and trust that they’ll make the right decisions if they don’t know what to do. Train your staff as if your business depends on it. Because it DOES! And I’m not talking about how to ring up a sale in the POS system. I mean, yeah of course. BUT… training must be about how to engage with customers and create memorable GOOD experiences (Remember those phone calls to customers you made? They told you what they expect from your products/services and perhaps what they expect from your people. Now’s the time to share with your staff.).
EMPOWER the front-line staff to act as representatives of the company (if you don’t trust them, then see #1 about hiring the right people). Give them the authority to make decisions and take the actions they feel are the right ones. Let them know that if they make a wrong decision, they won’t lose their job or be punished for it (unless of course they do something illegal!). I hear businesses say, “our employees are like family.” Are they really? If so… treat them like family, which means you’ll trust that they’ll make the right decision for the family and the customer.
IF you’re the owner or manager… the only issues that should come to you are the extreme or unique cases. Your PROPERLY TRAINED staff should be able to handle the majority of issues that arise. You don’t need distractions like, “Can you come to the POS system. We need your key and code to void a transaction. We overcharged the customer 14 cents.”
Start today. Start with two simple steps: 1) Contact Customers. 2) Hire awesome people and train them. Don’t overcomplicate.
Oh, and about that slice. Try focusing on a good balanced finish position and hold it until your ball lands. You can thank me later.
One more thing. If you need further assistance, ideas, or want to schedule a workshop for you and/or your staff, I’m here to help. Email me at Ted@unthinq.com or fill out the contact form at: https://www.unthinq.com/contact. Let’s chat soon! Thanks in advance!