Customer Needs Customer Relations

Blah, Blah, Blah – that’s the feedback she gave me

thumbs downEverything was moving along just fine yesterday until I opened up my online course and saw that my feedback rating went down from 4.5 stars to 4.0.  Weird. What could have triggered this in my account?

I opened it up to see some freshly added feedback from one of the newer students in my online course.

She shared publicly and ….so will I.

negative feedback

It’s hard to read people like this, especially after I’ve had a few good reviews AND because I’m not sure that the person got the spirit of the course. I say this because I see people NOT understanding how to use Twitter all over the place – not engaging in online conversations, not promoting others, and not leveraging it in the way actual business people build partnerships.

But, these pieces of feedback do cause me to sit back and ask myself questions – is my course labeled incorrectly, did I share enough stories, what more needs to be added for different learning styles? Maybe I need to add a few more technical components that I figured were taught elsewhere?

On the flip side of the cognitive dilemma is the fact that I really want to create things for the right people to enjoy. Part of me wants to disregard this person. Part of me wants to use it as a chance to improve my course.

We all hear talk about the importance of continuing to move forward on our big ideas despite the naysayers, but it does make me blush whenever I come across a piece of feedback about me that is less than satisfactory.

So, what action will I take as a result of this virtual jab at my course?

Well, I plan on:

  • Adding a few more details (that I had intended to add anyway) to make it more robust.
  • Give a few technical tips on how to use it on a daily basis.
  • Share a few more examples of success in the course.
  • Tweet out a few more tweets for those that provided positive feedback.

Now, for another lesson learned from this experience – are we watching what type of feedback we put out there on the web? Do we think of how it will reflect on us? I obviously don’t have a high opinion of the commenter that I’ve highlighted here. Her form of communicating doesn’t invite any discussion or constructive input.

Sad, isn’t it?

There are others that offered really helpful feedback on how to improve the course and I respect them for their input and openness. I actually tweet about many of their products now.

When we give feedback (on or off the web), we may do well to remember that our reputation is at stake as well. How we respond often says more about us than the other person.

Our online reputations must be guarded daily nowadays. We never know what future opportunity that could be stifled by trivial or rude remarks made online. It is what it is.

I’ll move on and keep improving and will still keep blushing when I get less than great scores on online courses. I hope that those that write reviews like this one do too. Unfortunately, I cannot support them or give them any online promotion. It is too bad, because they probably desperately need it.

One last note – kind of a funny thing – I talked about building your online reputation in the course. Guess that was hidden in all of the blah-blah-blah somewhere. (-:

Customer Needs Customer Relations

Email Announcements – Cancer Strikes

However appropriate or inappropriate, we have an email going around at work today about an employee that has one month to live. Cancer struck and is taking him quickly. I’ve worked with this person on different projects over the years. He is probably in his 50s and had no outward indication of any health issues.

Emails like this immediately wake me up. The urgency of dealing with minutia projects and tasks fall away and reality hits:

  • Good health is HUGELY important. Without it, we aren’t operating at our best capacity or may not exist.
  • Life is short – even if 60, 70, or 90 years seems short to you, guaranteed that anyone that age still feels like it went too fast.
  • Take time TODAY for those that matter – not next month or next year. Choices today become next week, next month and next year before we know it.
  • Treat everyone you meet with respect and kindness – you may never see them again and remember that each individual has secret battles to face.

Right now I’m working on a massive spreadsheet. It seemed really important a minute ago. Now I think I’ll take a break. I’ve got a serious note to write to a person that has one month to live. Plus, there are a few doctor’s appointments I’ve put off for a few months.

Take time today! It matters.

Customer Needs Customer Relations Inspiration Marketing

The Webinar of the Lone Participant – the failure isn’t what you think

one sports fan sitting in a stadiumA few years ago I was anxious about presenting at a conference after being out of practice for a few years. I wasn’t sure if what I had to share was noteworthy to anyone outside of our organization, let alone our team. I wasn’t even sure anyone would show up to my session. I openly expressed my fear to some co-workers. Everyone gave the usual “You’ll do fine” advice. But, Mark Oehlert ( stressed the importance of always treating even one participant as if you were there for them. He had started his blog and said he wrote what he wanted to write and if even one person listened that would be fine by him. Mark is a successful thought leader and now has thousands of blog and Twitter followers because he’s great at spreading ideas and making people think.

His comment made me think and most importantly I remembered it. Everytime I write a blogpost, deliver a conference session or train in a webinar, I remember his comment.

Today I held an all day series of webinars. The attendance was low. There were a few technical difficulties along the way. I hadn’t gotten all of the marketing right. In fact, I was downright busy and so were the presenters. It could have been a let down.

But, it wasn’t and here’s why:

  • Preparation – each presenter came prepared. They had thought through a topic. They had to create a presentation. They had to figure out what idea they were trying to share. They were excellent and provided meaningful information.
  • Accountability – the products each presenter created didn’t exist earlier this week. The products existed because they had a goal to participate in this webinar. How amazing is it that if we just set a date and promise to be there for others, we actually produce? Accountability is a huge key to any success actually happening.
  • Awareness – honestly, I was not aware of the talent right under my own nose. The presenters are all in our online Nudge Village Accountability Group. They contribute all the time, but I had never seen any of them present. Wow. Nudge Village’s got talent!
  • Personal Change – there was something to learn from all the presenters. I may have been the only participant in some sessions, but their presentations made an impact on ME. What do you think I’m going to do now? I’m going to share and promote them.
  • Promotion – yep, I’m going to promote what each of these presenters offer because it made an impact on me. What if they had acted as if I didn’t matter? As if I didn’t count? Would I still be promoting them?

We’ve all heard the Power of One quote – often attributed to Nelson Mandella, but actually written by Marianne Williamson. The Power of One is real – whether it is the person presenting or the person being presented to. Ideas are exchanged, hope gained, and a possible partnership formed.

When it comes to webinars, sharing your blog, presenting at conferences and spreading your big idea…don’t forget the one. That “one” may be a person like me. I learn, I share, I promote, I mentor, and I give.

The failure of the webinar today isn’t that the numbers were low, though I hoped they’d be higher. The failure is thinking that the one that did show up wasn’t important enough to share our best with and that they wouldn’t spread Your idea when you shared it.

Over the course of time, if we do share our best with the one, the one will become two, the two will become four and the four will become 100, 1000, or perhaps 10,000.

The point is to just keep sharing – one person at a time.


Authenticity Customer Relations Marketing

Social Media Love Lost – It’s not me, it’s actually you!

Isn’t it great – You’ve got your social sharing down to a science don’t you?

You log into Hootsuite once a week, or even monthly, and set up a series of
daily messages that broadcast out to all of your followers at specific times
each day?

You are just so efficient, right? Good for you!

There’s just one problem.

I actually wanted to have a conversation with you and perhaps build a
business relationship. However, I know you aren’t there.

You are on autopilot. Every single Facebook and Twitter post shows that you are
using an automatic service to spread your message while you are out and
about working on something else with someone else.

I’ve figured you out through my stealth observing. After all, you are doing
the equivalent of running down the hall broadcasting what you know, want and

hand holding


What do you know about me? What do I like? How do I feel? What do I have to
offer you? How much am I willing to spend when I find a product that I like?

Do you know?

You may think you know, but let me assure you…you don’t.

Right now I am moving further and further away from your business even though I’m
still slightly curious. It’s kind of like you are the popular guy or gal and I just can’t help myself, but in reality it just won’t work. Our values are different. We have different interests. We treat people differently.

It isn’t just your loss. It is my loss too.

We might have been a good fit.

You might have had a product that I would like and that I could share. Or, you might have
liked what I do and wanted to introduce your friends to me.

So sad. Our relationship is dying and the bad part is that you didn’t even know
it existed. You were just so busy automating that you didn’t notice that I wanted to

We will now part ways.

If we could talk, I’d end this all with a popular phrase with a bit of a

“I’m sorry. It’s not me. It is you. It really is.”

Customer Needs Customer Relations Emergency Preparedness Planning

Fire! – What to do if your office goes up in flames

Yesterday started just like any other day. I got the laptop started up, communicated with co-workers, answered emails, drafted a program plan, and …even ate lunch at 11:00 a.m. before the cafeteria rush.

Around noon, the fire alarm rang out.

We’ve had this before. A lot of false starts. The smell in the hallway just seemed to be a smell from a microwaved lunch slightly overdone. No big deal, right?

After the entire building was outside, we looked up! The gabbles on the roof had smoke coming out of them. Yikes! It took a couple of minutes, but the fire department did arrive and got as many trucks and hoses lined up as they could to squelch the flames.

Photo of a burned rooftop
Damaged roof of our building


Except, it didn’t die down. In fact, I found out today that they stopped working on it 11 hours after it started and the fire started up again around 10:30 p.m. at night.

So, what next?

We don’t have access to our office space. There was a concrete floor above our heads and so that most likely means no fire, but LOTS of water damage. Most of us grabbed personal items, but left our laptops. Ironic, since most of us carry our laptops everywhere. But, when push comes to shove, we are going to take a few personal meaningful items – phones, keys, wallets, a stray family picture, right?

So, really, what next?

What happens if your space goes up in flames? Do you have a plan? Will it have a massive impact on YOUR business?

Here are some tips to think about right now:

  • Back-up the Computer– Regularly – “regulary” depends upon how much you use it. I am on the computer all day creating, modifying, designing, organizing, etc. I should be backing up almost daily in some way, shape or form. There are a lot of services online that provide secure backup services. However, take a look at the next tip if you don’t want to tackle this today.
  • To the Cloud – You’ve heard about it on the news, in the blogs and at work. It’s actually been here for a while and you use it more than you think. Take Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo – they are in the cloud. You may set up your computer to get them delivered right to your Microsoft Outlook, but they ultimately reside out there somewhere. If I edit an important presentation or document, I often email it “to the cloud.” That way, even if something happens to my computer, I’ve still got access to the document. It’s a big deal with photos! Scan in those old pictures and upload them to Flickr, Picassa and/or Photobucket. That way you’ve got three copies – physical, digital and online. We all know photos aren’t replaceable, like a laptop.
  • Keep the personal valuables small – Do you really need a lot personal stuff around the office?Most of us were able to put all of our personal items in a bag and walk out – within 5 – 10 seconds of the alarm. Would it take you longer? A co-worker brought in all his personal books and manuals he had collected over a period of 20 years to round out his office space. It is probably all damaged now. Would it have been safer at home? Maybe/Maybe not. Take a look at your space now and make that determination.
  • Damage Control & Contingency Planning – If you do own the space, have you thought about what could happen to it in an emergency? Does your building have cement walls and floors? Is there amble protection of your inventory if say a flame bursts through a door or water pours from the ceiling? How will damage impact your ability to meet customer needs? Will it be a minor inconvenience (e.g. system down for a day) or will it incapacitate your business (e.g. cafeteria closed, no other location) completely. Thinking through this before a crisis may avert a real crisis down the road. Some questions to ask:
    • Can those that support me do so at another location? with other computers/materials?
    • How will I prepare now to address customer questions? Facebook/Twitter announcements? Radio spot? Phone calls? Flyers?
    • Am I willing to change my business approach in order to meet both my employee needs and my own (e.g. willing to pay for telework vs. expecting everyone to stop work without pay)?
  • Create cheat sheets – Now is the perfect time to make a few simple lists and put them on a sheet or a credit card sized reference guide. Here’s a few suggestions:
    • Contact Sheet– Yesterday we used a small credit card sized laminated list to make sure everyone was out of the building. The card listed the name/phone/email of each person. These were alternative phone/email info, not our organizational info. Phone tree arrangements should also be listed.
    • Key Inventory Quick List– How many laptops, iPads, scanners, copiers or other equipment will need to be accounted for in case of disaster? Have a quick list available “in the cloud” and in hard copy to quickly access. Include on this list top items that should be picked up quickly on the way out if the need arose.
    • Emergency Sheet (from the business owner) – Wouldn’t it be nice if each person already had the emergency sheet/reference card on them? Whenever and wherever – they’d have info on what to do in case of emergency? Make your own to give out to the people you pay to support your business. It will remove a lot of the questions and worry that arise while in stressful moments. Note: It might be good to include any of the contingency planning details on that as well.
  • Discuss and Listen – Now might be the best time to set up an online space or a series of meetings for the different players in your business to work through “what if?” scenarios and to create a plan. Make sure to include all areas to gain greater insights into the impact an upset could cause. In DC, a derecho storm hit at the end of June 2012. Grocery stores lost power for days. It had a massive impact on the entire supply chain. They couldn’t buy groceries because they couldn’t freeze/refrigerate them which in turn meant that warehouses way out in the Mid-West couldn’t sell their inventories fast enough. A lot of business was lost in the weeks that followed as a result of a couple locations in DC being out of power.

Today I’m lucky. I’ve just lost the laptop and nothing else. I’ve got a paid day off as the powers that be work through the logistical and performance issues that the fire caused. I’m lucky. I’m an employee during the day and an entrepreneur by night. But, what about George? He owns the contract that runs the cafeteria. His workers have no where to go and most likely no benefits or vacation days. Hopefully they have backup plans. If not, some of us will step forward to help…and probably will anyway. It is the right thing to do.

Have more thoughts?

Please share.

Customer Relations Marketing

Wine and Dine

It’s past 9:15 p.m. and I’ve just walked into the door of my great little getaway in Orlando. The typical thunderstorms that hit Orlando started right as I opened my hotel room door. Luck was on my side and I’m now able to sit in a semi-luxurious room and write this note as the rain pours down on the little geckos outside my abode.

Ok, this is starting to sound more like a novel…

I’m at a conference with a few geeky people, a few military people, a few contractor people and a few government people. With some luck, perhaps the Star Wars die hard people will be in town before this conference ends. Until then, I will be attending my conference and will actually be presenting tomorrow.

When I attend conferences, I like to have the evenings to myself. I like to take walks, drive around to explore the town, and perhaps drive through a McDonalds for a quick ice cream sundae.

However, tonight I met with a little company that we work with periodically. They heard I was going to be at the conference and they drove an hour and a half to come to dinner with me, on their dime. They didn’t need to, but they decided that they’d really like to get to know me better. Yes, they want my business. Yes, I’m sure they do this with all their clients.

But, seriously, these people are sincere people.

How do I know?

Prior to tonight I knew this about them:

  • Communication – they email us every week or so to see how we are doing or ask if we are going to be at  particular conference.
  • How can I help you? – they regularly ask how they can help us and sometimes write unsolicited white papers for us to consider. They tell us about resources they’ve heard of or share some of the projects that they are allowed to share with us from other contracts.
  • Innovate – they are constantly looking forward so that they can provide innovative solutions to us vs. us having to bring them up to speed on what we are pursuing. We are forward thinkers and so to stay ahead of us takes practice and perseverance.
  • Customer Relationship Managers – they have one or two or even three. Rare for many contractors. They are out to build relationships, not make a quick buck. And, they’ve been in business for over 25 years in an industry that has a lot of turnover.
  • Values that show – they are bold with their values and don’t make excuses. They are known to be kind, generous, and thoughtful while also delivering top notch results.

After “breaking bread” with them, I realized all of the above on a deeper level. Sometimes these attributes feel a bit surface level at first. You aren’t sure the intentions of the other party. You can be a little leery that they are just out to find out what $ you have to burn.

I didn’t feel that way. And, I often do.

These people talked and shared and let me talk and share. They let me guide the conversation, but asked the questions they needed answers to and the right time and without following a hidden agenda.

I felt like this company would take care of me and be good stewards of the money they would be receiving for certain product development efforts. Even if they weren’t working on anything with us, I know it would still have been a great conversation.

And one more key thing – I left motivated to be a little more like them with my interactions with others.

So, a little wining and dining (without the wine in my case and surprisingly theirs – did they follow my lead?) with them tonight took me beyond the surface relationship to a deeper client/contractor relationship.

Who do you think I’m going to think of the next time we have something that needs to be done?