Category Archives: social capital

Does Your Business Respond With RAGE?

JBMG_5500aBy Jeff Bowman

Nothing says more about a company than how they respond to customer complaints. As hard as we might try to be perfect in our business, there will always be something that someone either doesn’t like or appreciate about what we do. As we all know, most people will never complain directly to you, however they will talk to everyone they know behind our corporate backs, and that is far more damaging than expressing their concerns directly in the first place.

The thing is, that business owners often don’t want to hear complaints, they don’t encourage customer interaction and often won’t acknowledge there is even an issue. Educated consumers and social media have been changing all that!  Now the “talk to their friends behind your corporate back” means involving the masses through “internet interaction”.  There have been tons of high-profile cases where social unrest bred through internet or twitter posts have led to serious issues for large corporations.  Kevin Smith vs, Southwest Airlines , Lulu Lemon’s “exposure” grew tremendously due to the web. Maritz Research recently studied Twitter complaints and found that almost 70% went unresponded to by the company being tweeted about! That is simply unacceptable in today’s business world

Conversely, the study found that 83% of the complainants that received a reply liked or loved the fact that the company responded.Liked or loved, those are some pretty strong words! I’ll bet that those companies who responded did it with RAGE.  RAGE is my acronym for Recognize, Acknowledge, Gauge and Evaluate.

To be able to recognize that there is an issue, you need to invite conversation through social media, so that consumers can hopefully talk to you first. If they like the response, chances are they will not only like it, but respond socially in a more positive light about you.

When you acknowledge, you do it with empathy and understanding.  Put yourself in the consumer’s boots and respond in a way that shows real concern and a desire to rectify the situation.

Continue to gauge social media to determine if there is more to the issue than a few scattered complaints, as well as seeing if your goodwill is gaining you points by those who you have responded to.  Is your name popping up elsewhere or are you trending?

Finally, evaluate what happened, how quickly you responded, the importance of your actions, the outcome and if there is anything else that is warranted to be done. Try to measure the increase in goodwill that occurs after the initial interaction.

Utilizing RAGE to your benefit will help you turn dissatisfaction into trust, respect and business growth.  Turn those with complaints into your company’s evangelists and turn the social media tide in your favour.

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Filed under blogging, Communications, Customer Service, Jeff Bowman, social capital, social media, Social Networking, twitter

Spring bulbs can still flower

By Stephen Rhodes

Jeff’s scavenger hunt got me thinking about spring, and the seasonal reboot that tales place once the sun stays in place for any length of time.

By now, you know if your marketing plan is working. Are you happy with the results? If you are, great, keep it up. If not, you need to take a look at the key metrics that you use to measure success. It’s only the second quarter and there is plenty of time to change the trend line.

First, examine your expectations. Were they realistic? Have market conditions put your plan in jeopardy? Has your competitors stepped up their game? Have your customers responded favourably to changes you may have introduced – price increase, new products, improved customer service?

Failure in business often comes from a dogged persistence to stick to a plan that isn’t working. Smart business people are adaptable and open to change.

Smart business people also have their finger on the pulse of their business and have a set of indicators that help them measure success. You need to understand and monitor the metrics that are important to your business.

If one of your goals is to develop new customers and your marketing tools are not getting your message to the people you want to reach, change the tools.

Talk to your customers. Sometimes we get so caught up in the advances of marketing through media darlings like Facebook and Twitter that we forget the old-fashioned telephone can put us in touch with a customer instantly.

There is no shame in adjusting your goals midstream.

If your goal is to drive the top line, revenue, and you have invested heavily to do that, you need to look at what’s working and what isn’t and refocus the investment. If the goal is to protect the bottom line, then you might have to adjust expenses. Hopefully, in any kind of investment in your business, you provided for a reasonable length of time to allow for growth, part of your strategic approach to building your business.

The point here is that there is lots of time to adjust your plan. With a little care and attention, the bulbs you plant this spring will still flower.

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Filed under Communications, Customer Service, Managing, Marketing, Networking, Sales, social capital, Stephen Rhodes, Sustainability

Spring Scavenger Hunt for Business

By Jeff Bowman

Spring brings renewal, and with it I like to take the opportunity to renew some business practices, renew business relationships and the energy and vigour required for a successful business to thrive.  The Spring Scavenger Hunt is an excellent way to accomplish some of these objectives, as it provides you with some realistic goals to achieve in a way that is creative and fun, and doesn’t seem so much like “work”.  Give it a shot!

My scavenger hunt list is simple, commonly found and recognizable items to search out for your business.  What makes it unique, is that you set your own numbers and timetable for completion.  For small businesses, you are competing against yourself.  For larger business, you can create teams in the office, sales teams or management teams to compete against each other. Like all scavenger hunts, there should be a reward for a job well done -a dinner out on the company, a round of golf or, perhaps, a shopping voucher from a local store. Put a little fun and excitement into the office to mark the turning of the season!

Here is the Spring Scavenger Hunt for Business list. (You can fill in your own numbers – set a time limit)

____    New Clients

____    New qualified Prospects (can’t be the same as #3)

____    Referrals from existing clients

____    Testimonials about your product or service

____    New uses/users for your product or service

____    Recognizable ways to expand your local community involvement

____    Things you didn’t know about your competitors

____    Ways to make the office environment more fun to work in.

That’s it.  8 items that, if found will generate more revenue for your business.  This isn’t just a fun game, make sure that once the list is complete you utilize everything you have found.  New clients and prospects speak for themselves in terms of business growth. The ability to generate referrals is an indicator of how well you have developed current client relationships. Testimonials can be used (with permission) on websites, literature, and new prospect presentations. Every company can find new users or uses for your product or service if you think hard enough. Check out http://www.wd40.com/files/pdf/wd-40_2042538679.pdf to see what I mean! New uses translates to more volume sold, as does new users. Community involvement builds social capital for your business.  Knowing more about your competitors allows you to capitalize on any weakness you might uncover.  Finally, making the office more fun to work in reduces stress, increases creativity and productivity.  What business can’t use more of that!

Good luck with the hunt! I’d love some feedback on how it worked for your business!

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Filed under Communications, Jeff Bowman, Managing, Marketing, Media, Networking, Sales, social capital

Remembering Those who Fought for our Rights

   By Jeff Bowman

Once a year we take time to remember those who gave their lives in wars fought on foreign soil, defending our rights and freedoms that we enjoy today.  The Highway of Heroes was aptly named in honour of those who most recently have given their lives in military duty. 

Today in Ontario and Quebec business will go on as normal with a brief respite at 11 AM to observe a moment of silence, while in other provinces it is an observed holiday. I don’t know why in our two provinces it continues to be a day of work instead of a day of remembrance, especially given that the young people of today are face to face with the reality that people they know and love may not come home again.  I didn’t face that in my generation in Canada.  I had many relatives who fought in WWI and World War II, some of whom may not have returned home to their families, and as such I had never met them.  There was no real impact.  My wife’s father fought in Korea, a war that wasn’t even recognized by the Canadian government until a scant few years ago. 

Today is different.  When we hear about young soldiers who have lost their lives it strikes hard that indeed, this person could have been our own son or daughter, niece or nephew or the next door neighbors child, or someone that my kids knew from school.  Reality hits much closer to our own comfort levels today. I will take an hour to watch the proceedings at our local Cenotaph and forget about work for a while today.  I urge everyone to take more than a moment today. A simple pause to reflect does not do justice to those in the service.  They deserve our utmost respect and support.

After the moment of silence today, why not take finger to keyboard or pen to paper and write your local politician and let them know that Remembrance Day is important, more important than Victoria Day or any other Bank holiday.  It is a day where everyone in Canada should be united in their support of all people past and present who committed to the service and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

I have a young friend whose brother recently returned from duty where his vehicle ran over a landmine.  Over beers one night the stark reality of war was put to music.  Please give a listen to Karl’s song “Only a Soldier Understands.”

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Filed under Communications, Jeff Bowman, social capital, Uncategorized

Camp Enterprise – The Kids are Alright!

By Jeff Bowman

Service is an often “over used” word in the vocabulary of business today.  Customer Service, supplier service, service standards and technical service are all terms I encounter daily and each provides a varying degree of accuracy to the real meaning of service.

Service Above Self, was a term I experienced last week when I participated as a speaker at a Rotary International program for youth entitled Camp Enterprise. I was not aware of this program prior to being contacted to speak, and as a business mentor, I was surprised to discover that this program goes on in many Rotary Clubs across North America, and has been hosted for more than a quarter century in some areas.

The program, which is fully funded by the local Rotary Club, provides senior high school students with an introduction to business , professional and management careers over a 3 ½ day  “camp”. The kids are exposed to a variety of workshops, activities and team building events put on by volunteers from the business community.  It is advertised as a program “that Will Change Your Life” I spoke to a group of 52 enthusiastic teens about directing a Corporation.  Not just any incorporated company, the real company that they run each day of their lives, themselves. The title of my workshop was, “It Really Is All About You!”, and I spoke about some of the key factors that affect You Incorporated from the ground level up, from the attitude you present each day, to the growth of an entrepreneurial spirit, to accepting and nurturing a sense of responsibility for every action they take.

I was amazed at the level of participation, the group inter-personal skills, and at the expressions on their faces as some of the points and stories I related hit a chord with their own lives. I think the key point that I was able to provide is to believe in yourself.  In a world of doubt and confusion it is often very difficult for adults to consider options and make the right decisions, so I can’t imagine what it must be like for a teenager, with all the temptations of the world, and the lack of experience in cause and effect, to make the same correct decisions. The important thing is to make a decision, learn from the results, and grow from the knowledge gained.  I often say, change your perception of failure to a lesson learned.

Rotary has it right! Service Above Self is the real definition of providing an experience, not just for yourself and the participants of the Camp, but for the volunteers who make it work and the community in which these teens are part of. If the wonderful group of teens that I had the pleasure of working with are any indication, the business world has a bright future.  I commend Rotary International for this initiative, but just as important, I commend the teens who stepped up to the challenge to “change their life”. It’s never business as usual!

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Filed under Communications, Jeff Bowman, social capital, Training and Development, Uncategorized