“We had received a few letters, and generally they were positive, but they would say: ‘It’s really too bad you use those foam peanuts. Have you thought of using something else?’ or ‘I am really going to have to start looking for another source if you guys don’t stop using them.’ People wanted to continue to order products from us, and they liked our service, but they objected to us using the foam peanuts. I figured if so many people had taken the time to write to us, then there must be many more people thinking along the same lines. So we stopped using foam and started using a tissue made from 100 percent recycled magazines instead.”
– Patricia Gallup, PC Connection, Inc.
The purpose of sharing this quote regarding customer feedback from a quality company is to ask you the question about your customers: Are You Listening?
Many times workers in companies and/or agencies who are responsible for collecting customer status or satisfaction information do not give this function the continuous improvement attention it deserves. Although it is true that customers are not always thoughtful and complete in their responses to quality survey requests, you can never assume you won’t find that “gold nugget” suggestion somewhere…sometime!
This week’s TRIPLE III TIME message: Are You Listening? is fully intended to force everyone to question themselves about their customer service follow-up process. Do you do it just because you must…or in search of a good idea? Do you really pay attention to the responses…or do you just check off who responded and how many? Or is your customer follow-up process outdated and just an assignment…and thereby self-defeating in its purpose?
Great companies/organizations put stock in getting quality feedback from their customers. Are you GREAT?
Innovation…Public Sector Innovation…IDEA GENERATION…and ENTREPRENEURSHIP in any form have been a vital part of my personal and professional life. No matter the organization and/or the challenge…my “There Is Always A Better Way” attitude, motivates me to go beyond what may be expected by those around me.
So what do you do to pass along this package of creative energy and drive in a meaningful, 21st century way?
You start a northern Michigan IDEAS UNLIMITED CLUB!
This week in partnership with Central Michigan University, Alpena Community College and 20+ high schools in northern Michigan, we held our first IDEAS UNLIMITED CLUB session.
Just to help everyone understand the IDEAS UNLIMITED CLUB is an Entrepreneurship-Driven “cooperative-partnership” focused on blending the business/community development learning efforts of Central Michigan University’s Isabella Bank Institute for Entrepreneurship, Alpena Community College and select Northeast Michigan School Districts. The principle function of the IDEAS UNLIMITED CLUB cooperative partnership is not just the sharing of basic Entrepreneurship concepts and processes, but also the employment of a unique monthly, structured Mentoring Moment facilitated by CMU students/affiliates engaged in Entrepreneurship coursework/projects that is shared with engaged community college and high school students.
How did we do: “Just Right!” The use of video-conferencing technology made the face-to-face “feel” a vital contribution. There was a lot of listening by all…but the importance of idea-sharing…for some maybe for the first time…was so COOL!
Yes I am passionate about the IDEAS UNLIMITED CLUB. And if it helps even one young adult across our multi-county Michigan region, we are all ENTREPRENEURSHIP WINNERS!
When you hear the phrase: “He or she is a visionary,”…what comes to mind? That they can see the future? That they can predict the outcomes of certain events or actions? Or do you follow the Oxford Dictionary definition of a visionary which states:
“Visionaries are idealistic, imaginative and have inspired ideas about the future.”
Well as I selected: VISIONARIES-Do You Know One? as the topic for this week’s TRIPLE III TIME message, my focus was mostly on the Do You Know One part. And my guess is that as you think about do I know someone with vision, your mind goes to people like President Kennedy or Albert Einstein who as visionaries impacted our world. But today I want you to think about visionaries in a simple, small town manner. Think about:
- Farmers…don’t they have a vision every year about an excellent crop as they plant?
- Truck Drivers…don’t they dream about an on time (or ahead) of time safe delivery?
- Plumbers…don’t they have visions of quickly, efficiently fixing the leak in your house?
- Teachers…don’t they hope that all their students pass their classes with good grades?
- Doctors…don’t they all anticipate they can prescribe a cure for your illness…and it works?
- Employment Counselors…don’t they envision that everyone they help gets a GREAT job?
- Auto Mechanics…don’t they have a vision that they can fix your brakes…quickly?
- Construction Workers…don’t they dream of building a cool, unique house sometime?
- Musicians…don’t they envision playing a perfect song for an appreciative crowd?
- Authors…don’t’ they all foresee that they will write the next best seller?
So let me ask again, VISIONARIES-Do You Know One? Hopefully your answer is YES and by using the list of 10 Visionary examples…I hope you know you probably are one too!
he goal of this TRIPLE III TIME message is to encourage you to be a natural VISIONARY everyday…EVERYDAY! Never apologize for having a sense of idealism and imagination. Because that is what VISIONARIES are made of.
This month I chose a more serious topic for the Inspiring Innovations LEARNING MOMENTS podcast: Seasons of Change. Work families are a very important element in building and retaining a great workforce culture. And when someone leaves… for whatever reason… there are good and not-so-good ways of dealing with this transitional action.
There are no easy, standardized methods of working through Seasons of Change. The suggestions I offer are intended to be helpful, but every situation is different. Use LEADERSHIP – COMMUNICATIONS –PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT – INNOVATION as your guiding principles, and whats best for everyone will be the result.
Enjoy the listen.
Did you ever think about the option of studying your customers in the format of a science project? Think seriously about it. In my consultant role too often I find that businesses and organizations do not allocate enough time and energy to the natural rediscovery of who their customers are and how they may have changed over the last year or years. And if you are wondering how I facilitate the rediscovery process, here is a list of questions I toss out for individuals or groups to consider when thinking about Customers: Always A Science Project.
- Are your customers historically the same (i.e. male/female/age/income/urban/country/etc.)
- Are your products/services always changing and therefore always causing you to search for different customers?
- Have you ever ranked your customers in relation to their value to your company/organization?
- Do you want a different customer base?
- Do you not really care about a target customer as long as someone is coming through the door or visiting your website?
- Do you “test” new products/services to determine evolving value/need?
- Have you ever changed your hours of operation to consider alternate times to be open?
- Can you consider a transportable business location option…to go to where today’s customers are?
- Have you surveyed customers to help you determine “What-Else” to include in your product/service line-up?
- Do you think GOOGLE, McDonalds, GM, Frito-Lay, and other private and public entities engage in Customers: Always A Science Project actions?
I guess the most important point of this special TRIPLE III TIME TOP 10 list of customer questions is to NEVER TAKE CUSTOMERS FOR GRANTED! Be and stay up-to-date on your ability to be the best and customers will respond.
When was the last time someone asked you if you were “Success-ing”? Never…right? Because the answer to this “Success-ing” question is probably true for the majority, I decided we needed to take innovative advantage of the regular English language and make “Success-ing” the focal point for this week’s TRIPLE III TIME message.
First I want everyone to think about the basic word SUCCESS…and consider some of the thesaurus terms that relate to it. Terms like: Victorious, Prosperous, Triumphant, Flourishing, Thriving and Booming! Next consider whether any of these terms describe your personal or professional life situation? Have you ever used any of these “Success-ing” terms as potential measuring-sticks…OF YOU?
Sometimes when I work with individuals or groups I take them on a “Success-ing” mission. And unfortunately most have a very difficult time describing, explaining and/or offering real examples of how they are: Victorious, Prosperous, Triumphant, Flourishing, Thriving and Booming. Instead words like: continuous improvement, growing educationally, professional development, making a little extra money and/or being creative seem to be the more “safe” way to proclaim their positive growth.
Bottomline: I want everyone to step out of the norm and exceed what’s traditionally customary and challenge yourself to measure if and how you are “Success-ing”! Use the terms contained in this TRIPLE III TIME as you think through this process. HAVE FUN WITH IT!
I think you will learn a lot about YOU.
Have you ever let your mind wander and thought about this question: ”If you were asked to get in front of a big crowd of friends/colleagues/coworkers and give a speech about your profession… What Would YOU Say?”
Well, my submission for this quarters American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) article is all about my approach to taking on this challenge. Specifically, the article: An ASPA Membership Address: What Would YOU Say? discusses four major areas I consider critical to realizing the potential educational role of public administrators.
Given the current state of American government and politics, The article was a personal privilege to write and share on a local, state, national and international level. I hope it is thought-generating.
Some of the biggest employee-employer challenges today are found in the area of Personnel Policies & Benefits. Each of these factors impact a company/organization’s greatest asset…their employees…everyday in some manner. Whether a union is present or the employer has a “family history” of relationships with its workers, dedicating appropriate time and development to building quality Personnel Policies & Benefits on a regular basis…is time well invested!
More specifically personnel policy and fringe benefit changes are often leaderships toughest responsibility. They are sometimes given more attention because it’s “necessary”…and not because it’s progressive. So for this week’s TRIPLE III TIME message, I want to just talk about four (4) special terms that are key to managing the world of Personnel Policies & Benefits.
- Morale: It is so important to employee morale to show REGULAR attention to Personnel Policies & Benefits. One will never be able to measure the value of job satisfaction among workers when they know you prioritize them on a REGULAR basis. Company changes/improvements can be small…but the benefit of everyone feeling cared about is huge!
- Stagnation: “Not moving, not active or developing”. This definition of stagnation is exact in its description of not being attentive to progressive Personnel Policies & Benefits. Business/organization workforces change almost daily…so applying the same level of change attention to personnel policies and benefits will help avoid employee/business stagnation.
- Expectancy: Worker expectancy is one of the biggest disrupters caused by not updating Personnel Policies & Benefits. “Charlie got a raise every year in the old days…why not me?” This example of expectancy is just one of many that can be brought forth if employees do not recognize that policies and benefits must change and flex with the economic times. Communication in this area is critical.
- Motivation: Did you ever notice the progressive energy that is felt when someone in a leadership role buys donuts/cookies for everyone…totally unexpectedly! Think of this example reaction when employees assume that Personnel Policies & Benefits are only considered/updated every two years? Giving the right kind of appropriate and consideration awareness time to personnel issues can in itself be a wonderful motivator.
Morale-Stagnation-Expectancy-Motivation are four critical factors to consider in the area of managing Personnel Policies & Benefits. Truly there will always be business/organization ups and downs, however maintaining an ALWAYS IMPORTANT approach to employee value will help them remain a true asset everyday…EVERYDAY!
We have all heard the phrase, “There are always at least two sides to every story.”
Well not only is the “two-sides” part of this phrase very true… but this month’s Inspiring Innovations LEARNING MOMENTS podcast will talk about the importance of Seeing ALL Sides of an issue.
Professionally working to improve your Seeing ALL Sides skills and learning how to strategically apply this critical high value ability are all part of the discussion. Perfecting Seeing ALL Sides is not possible, but I believe we all can improve our efforts.
Enjoy the listen.
“Democracy is essential in organizations that rely on the creativity of all workers to produce continuous innovation. Innovation requires democratic processes: the sharing of information across departments, functions and organizational levels; team decision making; conflict resolution; and deference to the person with the best idea rather than the most senior title. Also, democracy is inevitable in environments that must accommodate rapid and endless change. Democracy in industry is not an idealistic conception but a hard necessity in those areas where change is ever present and creative scientific enterprise must be nourished. For democracy is the only system of organization that is compatible with perpetual change.”
These words taken from Charles Garfield’s book: Second To None…The Productive Power of Putting People First are so SO important when strategizing on how your business or organization should function and go forward.
As you think about all of the very important factors included in those quotations, take a minute or two and apply them to your world of work. Does your entity have:
- An open design for soliciting ideas and improvement suggestions from anywhere within the organization?
- An ongoing succession process for moving the right people into the right positions to facilitate progressive change and innovation?
- A time/structure/system for quality, thorough, communication up and down and across your business/organization to ensure productivity/service understanding and competency is always the priority?
It is a pleasure to use the term “Democracy” in this TRIPLE III TIME message as a positive element in the area of Continuous Innovation & Change! I recommend re-reading the quotes and consider even more high-value applications of it’s meaning.