A question that I frequently ask of groups of business owners is about their experiences in doing business with other businesses.
'When you spend money with another business, do you think about the experience you had so that you would ask yourself how that experience compares to the experience people have as they do business with you?'
This past week I made a trip to the nearby grocery store. Among the items I was looking for was mulling spices so that I could make some delicious apple cider.
After the traditional wandering around the store looking for the product, I stopped to ask a person that was stocking shelves. As I asked about the product, the response was, 'I don't think so'.
I asked them to check with someone to confirm the answer. A second person said, 'no', and I asked if they knew what mulling spice was. The second person thought it was the potpourri that was placed in a bowl for the fragrance.
These two went to a third person who also did not know what the product was but was sure the store did not stock it.
When I pressed for someone that did know what the store stocked, I was taken to a grocery manager who took me to the spice section. She described the container and looked over all the products before stating they apparently had stopped stocking it.
The neat part was when she pulled her cell phone from her pocket, did a search for mulling spices and then told me what I needed to buy to make my own mulling spices.
The experience caused me to think why the first three were so quick to dismiss a customer that was wanting to spend money.
I then thought about the job title of the first three; they were shelf stock staff. What I see is a business that has failed to get the job title correct.
An acronym I learned many years ago from Bill Sharp was 'ACES'. It stands for Around Customers Everybody Sells.
In any business, the first responsibility of every employee is to take care of customers. Applying it to my business, I remember a situation where we would hire a new employee and begin their 'training'.
When I counted the number of hours we spent in this 'training', I found the majority of the hours were spent teaching them how to do things like paperwork and other functions that a customer would have no interest in.
We then moved to eliminate as many functions as possible that did not directly connect a staff person and the customer. All of the time was then redirected to how we wanted our staff to take care of customers.
The lesson? Everyone should have a first job title of customer service; the second job title can be the busy work that is done when we are not doing the first job.
We are planning to invite you to join us for one more e-retailer conversation in 2013.
Joining Bill Kendy and me will be Michael Kalscheur of Castle Wealth. There will be a pair of announcements sent out during the week of the e-retailer conversation. If you subscribe to this newsletter, you will be getting an invitation.
We are going to discuss your business and how your business is a part of your retirement plans. Perhaps there is a next generation that will be taking over the business. It may be an employee or a partner that is buying the business. Maybe you are going to put the business on the market or simply close it.
With all the options available to you, there is a need for someone with Michael's expertise. And that is why we have invited him to visit.
Want to listen to a previous edition of e-retailer conversations? Want to hear what Gene Sower had to say about social media or what Mike McCormick had to sat about your financial statements?
Follow this link to hear most of the conversations from the past five years.