The Leading Edge - Taking Care of Business
3 Companies Consumers Love and Why
Some companies just seem to get it right on so many levels. They may not be to everyone's taste, but consumers in general flock to them like moths to a flame.
Let's take a look at three companies consumers seem to love.
Netflix - talk to three people at random and it's highly likely that two of the three are subscribers to this streaming video service. Netflix is closing in on an amazing 100 million subscribers and have 3,500 employees, so they must be doing something right.
In a nutshell, they offer a massive range of video entertainment at an incredibly low price. People complain when they raise their prices by a buck or two, but just a few years ago we were driving to a video store, remember Blockbuster, to rent a single video or DVD for the price of a month's subscription to Netflix.
Their high-quality original programming gives them a unique selling proposition and builds loyalty. Add to this the ability to watch where you may be, from your living room, to a hotel bed and the value proposition is hard to deny.
Lesson: Offer low-price entry, quality products and service, something unique to build loyalty and easy purchasing and signing up.
Starbucks - love them or hate them, their drive-thru's have long line ups and their coffee shops are busy from when they open, often at 5 a.m., right through the day.
What's their magic formula? Great service in every store - a consistent product - massive choice. According to Huffington Post, there are 80,000 different ways to enjoy a Starbuck beverage!
With over 27,000 stores worldwide, Starbucks has nothing left to prove.
Lesson: exceptional customer service and consistent product in today's world are expected, they are the starting point not a customer service goal. Personalization of product, the ability to order and pay via an app, and the feeling you are special when your beverage is free on your birthday all add to Starbuck's cult status.
Uber - Here is another iconic company that people either love or hate. Notice a trend here? No company can win over everyone, but to make people passionate in their like or dislike of you means you are doing something right.
Hailing a cab has never been a fun thing to do. Cab drivers are often not the friendliest of people and the constant fear of being driven around the houses and overcharged weighs heavy.
With Uber, everything is done through a simple app. Once downloaded, it figures out where you are and allows you to enter your destination. It then gives you several service choices and prices depending on your requirements. Within a few seconds it finds the nearest driver to you and shows you on a map where the driver is and how long it will take for them to pick you up. On your smartphone, you watch the driver's progress on a map. You also receive the make of the car, its license plate number and the name of the driver.
On arrival both you and the driver exchange names for better security. Uber has a driver/passenger etiquette which promotes politeness and a pleasant atmosphere. At the end of the ride, both driver and passenger can rate-their-ride.
No money, or credit card changes hands. The app takes care of everything and there is no need to tip.
With seven million drivers and 50 million riders, Uber proves their system is what today's consumer is looking for.
Lesson: Uber makes getting a ride not only easy, quick, efficient and pleasant, but provides the service at a reasonable and fair price. Consumers are looking for simplicity in every transaction. They want excellent customer service, they want it personalized, they want to be in control and they want to pay a fair price.
These three examples demonstrate that consumers are looking for a paradigm shift in the way products and services are offered. What lessons can your business learn from these companies?
Journaling for Business
People have been keeping journals for thousands of years in one form or another. Google journaling and you'll find tons of articles on how keeping a journal is good for your soul, reduces anxiety - how it can help you through tough times. Scientifically, journaling has been shown to lower stress and benefit your overall physical, as well as mental health.
But, have you ever considered using a journal to make you more mindful, creative and innovative in your business? There are so many benefits, I'm not sure why every entrepreneur doesn't buy a nice leather journal, sharpen their pencil and get writing!
Journaling is about reflection in its rawest sense - it's an unedited stream of consciousness that no one else need ever read. And, it's all the more powerful for it.
Here are three exercises to get you started. Do these every day and you will be amazed at not only how good it feels but how valuable your journal will be to your business.
CALM - think about when you felt calm today. Did you ever get an opportunity to just sit and quietly reflect on your business, or your life? Or, was the day one long stress bomb? Try to think about when you were truly calm and write it down. If you can't think of anytime you felt calm, what is that telling you about your business life. Use this as a wake-up call to carve a minute or two out of your busyness and make time for yourself - take time to just be, not do. This can be as easy as stopping at a coffee shop for a quiet coffee, without checking your emails or making notes. Doing nothing and smelling the roses is a powerful thing.
GRATEFUL - sometimes running a business feels like an uphill battle, an exercise in constant firefighting. It can be so challenging we forget, or overlook, all the good stuff that happens. So, when you get to your journal at the end of the day, or just before you turn off your bedside light at night, ask yourself what were you truly grateful for today? This simple exercise allows you to sideline the challenges and focus on the big picture. It doesn't have to be business oriented, just consider why life is pretty darn good at the moment. We have a lot to be grateful for, but often the good stuff gets swept away by the rest of the hassle we go through on a daily basis.
3 HIGHLIGHTS - what three things happened today that really pleased you? Perhaps you got a big sale, or an employee used their initiative to benefit a company. It could simply be that you overheard a staff member delivering exceptional customer service. Maybe, you just felt really good about your business or your performance. Write it down, however small. What made you smile, what gave you a good feeling? What made your day? Writing down what was good about the day, prevents you from dwelling on what didn't go so well. Too often we feel the world is against us and let the stressful things in our life overshadow the good things. As with CALM, this exercise may be tough for the first few days until you get used to recognizing the highlights.
Remember, don't edit yourself - write whatever comes to mind. Add ideas, thoughts, musings, absolutely anything. No one need ever read what you write, it's an exercise not an academic treatise. It doesn't need to be good; you can even write something like, "I can't think of what to write, this is a stupid idea" because by doing this you beat the blank page syndrome and what you write next might be worth reading in the future. After several weeks, read past entries and you will discover gold dust amongst the bare rock.
Coach's Corner - Being Consistent, Being Accountable - Keeping the Habit Going
As we enter February, often our New Year's resolutions have faltered or fallen to the wayside. Having resolved to create a new, productive habit in the first month of the year means investing in being consistent until the habit has been incorporated into our lives, personal or professional. Habits take time and attention over that time.
Being accountable to ourselves and others is one of the ways to ensure a habit is formed and truly a part of our life. What does accountability look like? How do we ensure that it works for us?
Here are three steps to being accountable and ensuring our desired habit becomes entrenched.
1) Having clear expectations is the first part of accountability. The expectations need to be articulated, understood and shared with a trusted colleague or friend. It is often helpful to form some questions to lead us to clarifying the expectations. What are we trying to achieve? What does it look like? How will we know we have achieved our goal of a more productive habit?
2) It is important to have regular check-ins with both ourselves and others to follow up on our progress. It is often good to schedule these check-ins and having some consistent questions related to following up. Have we been diligent in focusing on the habit? If so, what has worked for us? What challenges or barriers have there been? How can we overcome those obstacles?
3) The final part with respect to accountability is honest feedback from both ourselves and the people in whom we have shared our expectations. Although this may or may not be part of each regular check-in, it is certainly an important aspect of working to the goal of solidifying the habit. Being honest with ourselves and accepting critical feedback from others creates an awareness of our success and what still needs to happen. How is it going from both perspectives? What have we and they observed since our last check-in? What has been seen as a struggle for us?
If the goal of incorporating whatever habit we want to acquire is our most important thing this year, then we need to ensure we have given it our utmost attention and undivided focus in order to achieve it. Being truly accountable to ourselves and some trusted others will help us move in that direction.
"Accountability breeds response-ability." - Stephen Covey, Author
Paul Abra, Certified Executive Coach, Motivated Coaching and Development