E-couragement: Let Me Show You

April 21, 2014

Let Me Show You“If you make a sale, you can make a living. If you make an investment of time and good service in a customer, you can make a fortune.” Jim Rohn

I recently hit a milestone birthday. In order to ease the transition from one decade to another, I was treated to a surprise getaway at The Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary, NC. The beautifully appointed Umstead hasn’t fallen into a trap which ensnares many businesses—the belief that a product is their competitive advantage. Having a great product is your ticket to the game. If you want buyers to return time and time again and become evangelists for you, it will require more than your product. It necessitates a memorable experience. They’ll need to feel appreciated, valued…even loved. The Umstead has their own unique ways to create loyal customers, one of which is subtle and powerful.

It was so smooth, consistent, and natural that we didn’t even notice it at first. After completing our check-in, we expected to hear the traditional directions to the elevator, which sound like, “The elevators are down the hallway and to your left.” Only this time we heard, “Let me show you to the elevators.” To our surprise, the attendant then came out from behind the counter and escorted us to the elevators, all the while asking thoughtful questions about our visit.

A short time later, while walking in the hallway, we asked an employee, “Is this the right way to the pool?” The response was, “Let me show you.” Along the way he shared important features about the pool and outside patio area. We began to notice that anytime we asked a question, their response was, “Let me show you.” The Umstead took a typical or expected interaction and found a way to make it better. “Let me show you,” always trumps, “To the end of the hallway and take a right.”

The power in this strategy is not simply the choice of language, but the action that follows. The combination of the right words and congruent behavior creates an impactful and memorable customer experience. What unique language and corresponding action is your company using to engage customers? Resist the temptation to believe your product, technology, website, or marketing campaign will create long-term loyal buyers. Ultimately your business is about people. Make your customer experience memorable and you’ll be rewarded nicely for years to come. Need proof? Visit The Umstead and “let them show you.”   

Leave your comments: As a customer, where have you experienced a subtle yet powerful shift in a service experience?

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V-couragement: Let Them In – Expert Interview

April 15, 2014

Your Employees Have Quit—They Just Haven’t Left highlights nine fundamental engagement principles that will revive your workplace culture. This month’s leadership expert, speaking to Principle #2: Let Them In, is Jeff Burkett, President of Advanced Direct. Jeff reveals why Let Them In makes perfect business sense and what techniques he utilizes to “be known” by those he leads. He discusses how personal connections with employees and opening up key financial information has been a crucial component to Advanced Direct’s success over the past 20-years. Finally, Jeff shares what he’s doing to ensure that his own growth and development remains a priority. Enjoy this valuable, real-world conversation about what it takes to be an engaging leader.

To see more encouraging videos, visit our YouTube channel. Click here.

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V-couragement: Chapter 4 – Let Them In

April 8, 2014

Engaging leaders know how to connect. They understand that people won’t choose to follow simply because of their title—instead, they make themselves approachable, relatable, and human. This month’s video blog from Your Employees Have Quit—They Just Haven’t Left discusses the value of leaders making powerful human connections. Chapter 4: Let Them In focuses on what it takes to be this type of leader. It means opening up to your team in order to be perceived as real and be known to them. It requires that you resist the urge to multitask;  your full attention and complete presence is needed with those you lead. It takes discipline to manage your calendar and include specific times dedicated to communicating and interacting with direct reports. Watch this month’s 5-minute video and learn what it takes to begin building your engaging culture. Becoming an engaging leader takes courage; courage to Let Them In. Be that type of leader!

To see more encouraging videos, visit our YouTube channel. Click here.

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E-couragement: Who’s Writing Your Life?

April 2, 2014

Life Vision“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. Guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” Jim Rohn

I did it before I scurried off to Whole Foods yesterday. I took a moment and created a list. I learned this strategy from my mom. Without my list I wander through the aisles distracted by what I don’t need and forgetting what I do need. Grocery list writing is a common practice for many, yet research tells us that less than 10% of people have a written personal vision statement. Why is creating a grocery list more prevalent than writing down your life map? Without a clear and compelling personal vision statement we’re left to wander down the frozen food aisle of life questioning, how did I get here?

Perhaps the thought of writing a life vision statement is overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be that way. Much like your grocery list, start by simply writing down what comes to mind. Resist the temptation to over think. Here are a few steps to get you going:

  1. Take inventory: Often before putting together my grocery list I take a quick inventory of what I have and what I need. That’s a good place to start with vision writing. Take stock of who you are and who you’d like to be. In the world of visioning it’s called current reality and future ideal.
  2. Start writing: Reflect on several areas of your life such as: career, relationships, health/wellbeing, financial, and spiritual.
  3. Consider language: Use words that are powerful, positive, and present tense. Begin thoughts with, “I am…” For example: I am working in a career that is meaningful, fulfilling, and financially rewarding.
  4. Add visuals (vision board): Create an even more compelling view of your future by utilizing photos, drawings, etc.

You’re on your way. Keep your vision visible as a means to inspire your daily actions. Want to supercharge your vision? Share it with trusted friends. Research demonstrates that people who write down goals, share them with friends, and send weekly updates on progress are 33% more likely to reach their destination than those who merely write them out.

Your life trajectory is more important than remembering to grab low fat Greek yogurt; give it the attention it deserves. An engaging life has vision, so start thinking, dreaming, writing, sharing, and acting on yours today.

Leave your comments: Advice? What have you found helpful when creating a personal vision?

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V-couragement: Lead Thyself — Expert Interview

March 19, 2014

Your Employees Have Quit—They Just Haven’t Left highlights nine fundamental engagement principles that will revive your workplace culture. By fundamental we mean these principles are available to everyone, timeless, and they get results. Over the next nine months we’re providing insightful interviews with the engaging leaders featured within the book. This month, speaking to Principle #1: Lead Thyself, is Todd Herman of Todd Herman Associates. Todd reveals techniques he utilizes to Lead Thyself. He discusses how he measures his own success, how to prevent becoming stagnant, and how to lead with and through your inevitable weaknesses. Enjoy this valuable, real-world conversation about what it takes to be an engaging leader. It’s worth the effort.

To see more encouraging videos, visit our YouTube channel. Click here.

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E-couragement: Where’s My Suitcase?

March 17, 2014

Lost Luggage“People don’t judge you on the basis of your mistakes—they judge you on the manner in which you own them.” Jason Fried

Things started to unravel after the National Speakers Association Winter Conference had wrapped up. My departing flight from sunny Tampa, FL was delayed, causing me to miss my connection. I was rebooked and spent my evening hanging around Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. When I finally arrived in Greensboro, I learned my bag had remained in Atlanta. After providing the required information, the frazzled attendant mumbled, “Mr. Schlentz your bag is on the next flight from Atlanta. It should be at your house around 1:30 AM” The cynical side of me thought, sure it will…I won’t hold my breath. That’s when the good stuff started.

Leaving the Lost Bag desk, I entered the traditional customer dead zone. That’s when a shroud of silence causes a customer to wonder if a company will actually deliver what they promised. It produces feelings of uncertainty and vulnerability. We teach our clients how to fill these gaps with meaningful and timely communication in order to create a loyalty experience for their customers. I had no idea I was about to encounter the most well executed customer communication I’d ever witnessed. Here’s how it went down.

Shortly after arriving home, I received this email:

  • 11:52 PM. Dear Mr. Schlentz, welcome to WheresMySuitcase.com! We will be handling your delivery. We work directly with the airline to get your baggage back to you as fast as possible. For your convenience, we offer a unique website which allows you to set your personal delivery preference and track your baggage status in real time. You can even waive signature at delivery so you won’t be disturbed. 

I thought, huh, it’s nice to have this option and requested the signature waiver. Feeling a little more secure about the arrival of my belongings, I dozed off. Here’s what happened next:

  • 12:03 AM. Dear Mr. Schlentz, a request has been received to waive signature upon delivery for your baggage. This means you will NOT need to sign for your baggage when it is delivered.
  • 12:35 AM. Dear Mr. Schlentz, your baggage is now out for delivery. Your driver’s name is Kent; you can see a photo of him and follow the delivery route by clicking on the link below.
  • 1:19 AM. Dear Mr. Schlentz, our driver delivered your baggage at 1:13am EST.

Dang. Four well constructed emails that addressed every possible concern I might have. I am now a raving fan of WheresMySuitcase.com. I understand it’s an automated system—I don’t care. What I care about is how they understand what their customers are thinking and feeling. They walked by my side through the uncertainty, making me feel important and valued. If you’re going to engage your customers and create a loyalty experience for them (perhaps they’ll write a blog about it), figure out where your communication dead zones are and fill them with valuable customer centric information. If WheresMySuitcase.com can create a system like this, so can you.

Leave your comments: What experience has caused you to become a loyal customer?

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V-couragement: Chapter 3 – Lead Thyself

March 10, 2014

We’re continuing our series of video blogs from Your Employees Have Quit—They Just Haven’t Left. The nine fundamental principles in this book will re-engage and transform your workplace. This month’s focus is Chapter 3: Lead Thyself. Lead Thyself is the first principle for engaging leaders because it’s one of the toughest. Effectively leading yourself is difficult—and, your followers are watching. If they don’t see you learning, growing, and developing…chances are they won’t either. Today’s video blog focuses on two key components of Lead Thyself: Take 100% Responsibility and Remove the Wax. Watch this month’s 5-minute video and learn what it takes to begin building your engaging culture. The benefits you reap will be worth the effort.

To see more encouraging videos, visit our YouTube channel. Click here.

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E-couragement: You’re Gonna Do Great

March 3, 2014

Ivy at beach“An affirmation is a strong, positive statement that something is already so.” Shakti Gawain

It was December 10, 2011 and the late afternoon dusk was settling in. As I entered the living room, my wife, Ivy, asked, “Can we talk?” I could tell by her voice that this was important and immediately replied, “Yeah babe.” With a solemn look on her face, she delivered the news, “I’m ready to transition.” Transition was the word we had chosen that best described our philosophy on death. Not an end, rather a transition. After nearly five years of metastatic breast cancer invading her bones, liver, skin, and brain, Ivy made the most courageous decision that anyone could ever make. The weight of her proclamation knocked me back into our overstuffed leather chair. Yet, what she said next is why this blog needs to be written.

Ivy’s 5’ 4’’ 105 lb frame loomed over my slumped body. With a penetrating look, she powerfully announced, “You’re gonna do great!” Tears welled up; I turned away, and sternly spoke, “No, don’t say that.” I refused to receive those words. The phrase I heard inside my own head sounded like, “You’re gonna do great…without me.” I wasn’t prepared to wrap my mind around that, so I pushed it away. We sat on the couch, held each other, and cried.

A few weeks later, as she had determined, Ivy made her transition. Just over two years removed, I hear her words differently now. Perhaps as she had initially intended. “You’re gonna do great” is the truth. That’s how Ivy was. She saw great in people. She understood that greatness is present in all of us. Much like the oak tree exists in the acorn and the butterfly resides within the caterpillar. Everything required for your own personal greatness is present—right here—right now.

Ivy loved words, and on that December day she meant that phrase as a gift for me. She also believed in giving away our gifts and would not have expected me to keep this truth to myself. It took awhile to sink in—for me to believe it. So, it’s time to share this powerful message with you. Resist the urge to push it away or deny it. Simply receive it. On behalf of Ivy Cavanaugh-Schlentz: You’re Gonna Do Great!

Leave your comments: What’s your initial reaction to the phrase, “You’re gonna do great”?

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V-couragement: Maximize Your ROP (Return on Praise)

February 25, 2014

It’s virtually free. It’s powerful. Your employees crave it and don’t receive enough of it. It’s the most underutilized tool in your engagement arsenal. I wrote about it in a blog. Teams and companies which make this part of their culture experience a profound impact on employee retention, customer service scores, productivity, and profitability. What is this secret weapon? Sincere praise and appreciation. Watch this 4-minute video to reinforce the power of praise and appreciation. Since this is a tool, it has no life of its own. You must take hold of it—make use of it. The benefits you reap will be worth the effort.

To see more encouraging videos, visit our YouTube channel. Click here.

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E-couragement: Not Simple

February 17, 2014

Hard WorkSweat was dripping from my face and forearms as I trudged along on my favorite cardio machine, the Stairmaster Gauntlet. With my ear buds secure and iPhone volume turned up, I was able to pay attention to the inspirational video over the distractions of people and machines nearby. He was nearing the completion of the message when I heard it. Noticing my own reaction, I immediately started writing notes for this blog.

He said, “That’s all there is to it. Follow these seven steps and make your millions like me. It’s that simple.” Simple? Is that how he achieved success? Was his goal to convince people that significant accomplishments are simple? What if I told you I had the blueprint to become a sought after professional athlete? A renowned classical pianist? A highly regarded cardiovascular surgeon? And the best part—it’s simple. Something inside of you should be alarmed. You know better. Achieving notable success has never been, or ever will be, simple.

Sure, a process or concept might be simple. Yet, the cost of executing that process or consistently applying that concept is difficult to calculate. In his book, Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell studied highly successful people from a cross section of professions. A key factor to their outstanding accomplishments was the “10,000–Hour Rule.” Gladwell points out that a critical component for success in any field is a willingness to practice a specific task or skill for a total of 10,000 hours. Simple?

Let’s rid ourselves of the infomercial mentality. Becoming a highly successful engaging leader is difficult and costly. Simple is the great equalizer, a wide path to mediocrity. That’s not for you. If you go after difficult with all that you are—all that you’ve got—it will set you apart. The result is meaningful, deeply satisfying, and significant work. That’s why you do it, it’s worth the effort and pain. Avoid simple. Embrace difficult. That’s EXTRAordinary!

Leave your comments: What achievements are you proud of that required a significant “cost”?

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