Aliveatwork's Blog


Customer Loyalty: “Let Me See if I Understand You …”

Maybe this has happened to you …

You walk into a restaurant when you receive your bill and along with it comes a request to join an elite club.

And like all elite memberships yours comes with special deals, points for free meals, bonuses, and all the things that one would expect when you belong to an elite club… AND IT’S ABSOLUTELY FREE!

Recently my friend Pamela and I were having lunch at Claim Jumper Restaurant here in Phoenix. Claim Jumper is part of the Landry Group of restaurants which include the likes of Morton’s, McCormick & Schmicks, etc.

While we were there where we received an opportunity to become a member of their elite club.

We learned how we could earn points for discounts and free meals all for the low, low, non-refundable, one-time, membership fee of $25.00!

EXCUSE ME … LET ME SEE IF I UNDERSTAND YOU?

You want me to pay you $25.00 for  the privilege of having the opportunity to dine in your restaurant? You want me to pay you for something that you should be providing for free. You want me to pay you for being a loyal customer?

Somewhere along the line somebody thought it was a great idea to bring customers back by offering them the opportunity to pay for being loyal … I would love to meet that marketing guru!

5 things you can learn about this to help you in your business:

  • It is 6 to 7 times more expensive to find a new customer than it is to keep one.
  • Unhappy customers tell other people about you and they simply tell other people and they tell other people … and you damage your brand.
  • Loyal customers tell other people about you and those people in turn become loyal customers … and your business grows.
  • Customer loyalty is something you earn … it’s not something you charge your customers  for … don’t ever believe that your customers should pay you for their loyalty.
  • A loyal customer is worth their weight in gold!

Prior to this experience I made Claim Jumper a regular part of my dining out experiences.

Will I ever go back? Maybe  …

Has my perception about their brand changed? Absolutely …

The gifts in all this is that it should remind you to never lose sight of how valuable your customers are to you.

It also is a great reminder that in this day and age when customers can turn on a dime (literally) … customer loyalty is more valuable than gold!

And that my friends … is a claim I’m willing to jump all over!



Isn’t that Special …?

I just booked a reservation at a Hilton Garden Inn.

After booking my reservation and for being a loyal Hilton Honors member, I was informed that I was entitled to a “special” promotion.

A “special” promotion for “special” people … just like me!

I get transferred to the department for “special” people where I am asked 3 quick marketing questions:

  1. Where did I book my hotel reservation?
  2. Am I single or married?
  3. What is my income?  – “I will not answer that question”  – thinking that’s really none of their business!

Without a nanosecond of hesitation the sales person for “special” people goes right into his script …

“Sir thank you very much and have a nice day,” and hung up!

“Wait a minute, wait a minute … you can’t hang up on me … I’M SPECIAL … you told me so your self … don’t you remember???”

So that got me thinking:

  1. If you tell your customers they are special, treat them that way … otherwise they won’t be your customer for long!
  2. If a complete stranger tells you you’re special – RUN – they are peddling something and you’re just a number (this is not an epiphany – just a reminder)!
  3. It used to be that if you upset a customer they would tell 5 people. Nowadays when you treat your customer poorly they tell 3000.

And isn’t that special …



Energy Level … Going …. ?

The other night I had a potentially energy draining experience at the local Shell gas station.

After realizing that gas was .15 per gallon more than the local grocery store (I should’ve bought it when I was there)  I filled the tank up.

As I waited for the pump to finish processing the transaction so I could get my receipt, I wondered to myself …

So why the big price difference? Better quality gas? Better service? Hey wait a minute this is self-serve isn’t it???

The transaction was completed and up on the screen the message flashed … Would you like  a receipt – yes or no?

Why of course I would, so I pressed yes! Up on the screen a new message flashes … Please see attendant for receipt!

Are you kidding me!!!! I went inside and stood there for 6 minutes while the cashier who had giant discs wedged in his ear lobes tried to impress  the cute young lady in front of me as he slowly and painfully  rang up her single can of Red Bull.

He finally gets to me and says “Can I help you?” “Why yes you can … not only is your gas .15/cents a gallon more than Fry’s you inconvenience me by making me wait for a receipt that I should be getting at the pump!”

“Pump number?” he replies.  It was then I lost my cool. “Pump number?????? I don’t know … I don’t care … I don’t even want a receipt at this point … All I want is an apology for being inconvenienced!”

Just when you think it can’t get worse … “I didn’t inconvenience you sir … the company did!”

I could feel the anger rising in me and the negativity starting to drain any happiness or joy I was feeling 15 minutes prior to stopping for gas.

DECISION TIME …

As far as I could tell I had 3 choices:

  1. Jump over the counter and rip the giant quarter size gauges out of his ear lobes.
  2. Walk out and never buy gas there again.
  3. Decide that I would not allow an external factor (person, situation, etc) drain me of one of my most valuable resources … MY ENERGY!
Door #3 please … yes the box where Carol Merrill is now standing!!

Every day we are faced with decisions and how we respond to those decisions determines whether our energy level increases or decreases.

Giving negative situations or people access to our energy supply will most certainly rob you of this precious resource. Negative factors drain energy at a very rapid rate.

Protecting your energy supply by responding in a positive manner can actually increase your energy level. Sometimes you just need to laugh and let it go!

So what about you …

  1. Are you aware of the energy draining people or situations in your life?
  2. What if you only had a lifetime limited supply of energy (units) in your life? Would that change how quickly you let go of  those negative situations or people?
  3. Imagine what your life would be like if you made a conscious decision to let go of the negative people, situations, customers, and beliefs that are robbing you of your precious energy? And you did it in a positive, loving way?

I think Aristotle had it right when he said … “The energy of the mind is the essence of life!”

So what direction is your energy headed … going up?



Be the Ball … not the Egg!

“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall,

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men,

Couldn’t put Humpty together again.”

There has been much debate about whether Humpty Dumpty was actually an egg … or not. The point here is that whatever he was, he certainly didn’t bounce back from his fall.

On any given day, we might be met with news or information that we dread.

It might be personal in nature – Maybe it’s a discouraging lab report, the bank didn’t approve the loan restructure, a phone call informing us that someone we love passed away, or someone we love is walking away.

Maybe it’s a business related matter – We didn’t get the contract renewal, we lost the big order, we didn’t get our dream job, we lose what we thought was a great job, or one of our star employees hands us their resignation letter and says “I’m leaving,”

Whatever the situation, whatever the circumstance, how we frame the event and what we make that event mean in our minds determines our ability to bounce back from adversity.

Yes, we may be in a painful place at that moment in time. However, we don’t have to stay in that painful place forever!

Sometimes the difference between bouncing back and breaking are the choices we make. To trust or not to trust … that is the question!

Sometimes you just have to trust: 

TRUST that things will get better. There will always be better opportunities, relationships, contracts, employees, or jobs. We will always find what we set our focus on – focus on what you want.

TRUSTthe process. Believe that everything unfolds exactly as it need to be. It doesn’t matter if we agree with the current situation, facts, decision, or whether or not we like how it is unfolding. Always trust the process.

TRUSTand let go. Sometimes we have to let go of people, jobs, relationships, opportunities, or something we love so that we can make room for something or someone new.

Your ability to trust and the depth of your trust determines your ability and the speed in which you will bounce back!

In other words … be the ball … not the egg!



Giving Away Your Power … It’s In The Bag!

Over the years I have had my fair share of “memorable” experiences especially when it comes to traveling and airline security.  Being dark complected and having a shaved head, I have on more than one occasion found myself  in the “randomly” selected security line with my new best friends, Raj, Cheng, and Chakor.

Most recently, while traveling over the 4th of July holiday weekend,  I had the opportunity to experience the infamous (let’s make a 95 year old cancer patient remove her diaper – aggressively pat down a 6 year old girl – but let a Nigerian National with an expired i.d. and a expired stranger’s boarding pass through security) workings of the TSA.

While going through the security line this time, I put my liquids in the same one quart bag with a zipper that I have used to travel over 100,000 miles without a hitch with security … until this weekend. This time the TSA agent behind the x-ray stopped me and stated that it was not a one quart zipped lock bag and that I was not allowed to proceed.

I replied that it is a one quart bag and has an actual zipper. She then called her supervisor over who explained to me that it is not a zip-lock bag it is a bag with a zip-per and to “put him out.” As I was escorted “out” I tried to explain myself to the extremely polite female TSA agent who said “Don’t give me any sh*t, if you don’t like it talk to my supervisor.”

I worked my way to the airport information desk and asked for a one quart zip-lock bag and headed back through security. This time I was directed to go through the full body scanner. To say I was upset would be an understatement …  I was seething with anger as a rush of resentful ideas and actions began flooding my brain.

It took a good 5 minutes for me to come to my senses and realize what I was doing …

I was unconsciously giving away my power. What power? The power to decide if I was going to be happy or angry or If I was going to be joyful or resentful.  As if being resentful would change the TSA Supervisor or impact HIM in anyway.

Someone once said that holding onto resentment was like taking a poisonous pill and waiting for the other guy to die!”  I was not willing to die or allow someone else who might have simply been having a bad day to ruin mine!

5 Questions To Ask Yourself:

  1. Who controls your feelings?
  2. Do you allow others to determine your level of happiness, joy, or peace?
  3. Do external factors control your internal sense of worth or value?
  4. Do you take the actions of others as a personal assault against you?
  5. Are you free from resentments or do you relive old scenes or injustices over and over again in your mind?
3 Things To Remember:
  1. We are the only species on the planet that has complete control over what we  think and yet so many of us believe that it is the external events or things that happen in our lives that determines our level of success or happiness.
  2. Nothing … absolutely nothing anybody does is about you. It’s about them  so don’t waste your time or energy trying to rationalize their behavior by asking “How they could do this to me  or why did this happen to me or yadda, yadda, yadda, blah, blah, blah!”
  3. No one absolutely … no one can take your power away from you unless you give it to them … and why on earth would you ever give your power away to a complete stranger or anyone else for that matter?
Oh yes … and one last thing to remember … in Cleveland … a bag with a zip-per that locks … is not a zip-lock bag!


Hey Mr Postman … Listen and See!

P.O'd at the P.O!

Monday of this week I sent an audio CD on managing your energy via the U.S. Post Office to one of my clients.  Tuesday, I found the same envelope that had I dropped off at the post office the previous day in my mail box with a stamp on it that read “Returned For 43 Cents Additional Postage.” This, on top of the $1.28 cents I had already paid.

Why? Because they couldn’t  bend the 9 1/2″ by 11 1/2″ padded envelope that was stuffed to the brim with one small  5″ by 5″ audio CD. And why would you need to bend it I thought to myself?

Well let’s just say at that particular moment in time, the envelope wasn’t the only thing that was a little bent!

Walking back to my office, I envisioned going down to the Post Office. And then I remembered my last visit. There I was standing in line behind 25 people watching multiple post office workers walking around or sorting mail while just one worker waited on customers.

When it was my turn to be waited on, I brought up the issue of poor service to the person behind the counter. What I heard next shocked me. She told me that Postmaster at this location does not allow more than one line open regardless of how many people are waiting. Then she added, “It’s only going to get worse!”

There must be a better way!

Once I was back in my office and  after a little research, I compressed the audio file from iTunes and uploaded it to a free service called You Send It. Next, I typed in the appropriate email addresses and hit the send button. Within 2 minutes I received a confirmation of delivery. I called the client to let him know that he had an email with an attachment waiting for him in his inbox.

It was then I realized that this process took less than 5 minutes and my client could learn how to start increasing his effectiveness while he was driving home … TODAY!

Meanwhile … back at the Post Office a Postmaster and her colleagues are on their way to extinction because they do not understand two basic business principles … take care of your customers and stay ahead of the competition. So that got me thinking …

3 Questions To Ask Yourself:

  1. Are you holding onto to people, processes, or policies, that prevent you from providing an extraordinary customer experience?
  2. Has technology left you and your business behind your competition … because you’ re afraid to embrace change or the unknown?
  3. Are your customers being inconvenienced because some of your employee’s have a personal agenda or a misaligned belief?
Everyday 1000’s of customers are deciding to stop doing business with a  particular company. The reasons are usually the same … poor service, poor product, or poor value. Are you giving your customers reasons to stay?
Remember: It’s much easier and far more cost effective to keep a customer than it is to find a new one!
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Here’s a few resources to help:

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