February 22, 2007
Launching first flyer survey at RAC Flyer Symposium
We are pleased to announce that we will be at tomorrow's RAC Flyer Symposium to start collection of data for our flyer research. The first study will start this week and will focus on the current practices of retailers in measuring the effectiveness of their flyer programs.
Upon completion of our report, aggregate results of this research will be sent out to RAC members, survey participants and those who attended the symposium. If you wish to participate in the research or receive a copy of the report, please send an email to email@example.com
Click here to read my previous comments on the flyer symposium.
February 16, 2007
Topics for flyer research
Some initial thoughts on direction for our research into retail flyers are recorded below. The specifics of each study will be refined in conjunction with industry peers in order to ensure that the information gathered will be as useful as possible. If you have any suggestions, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Financial Management Processes
How do retailers make decisions regarding the financial elements of their flyer program? Do they do the work in-house, or outsource, and why? How are co-op funds allocated?
- Measurement of effectiveness
What is the nature of the interaction between marketing and merchandising? How do retailers manage the trade-offs between their own goals and those of their vendors? How does a flyer program affect the buying process?
- Selection of advertised products
- Distribution to support flyers
- Special buys for ad periods
- Regional pricing and product selection
Creative & Production Processes
What processes do retailers use to take a flyer from a list of SKUs through to a printed advertisement? What technology is in use, and how has has it improved the workflow? How have changes in prepress and printing technology affected flyer programs?
- Page Design
- Page Layout
Media Management & Distribution Processes
How do retailers decide where flyers will be sent and who will deliver them? How do they manage the communication of these details with suppliers in multiple markets?
- Distribution planning
- Media selection
- Media management
What do retailers do in their stores to support and enhance the flyer program? Is store signage and merchandising changed? How is inventory managed and what is done if the store runs out of product?
- Staff levels during flyer period
- Educating staff about specials
- Inventory management
- Special merchandising
- Rain check policies
Research on retail flyer publishing
As a retail marketing manager, I found it difficult to find information and advice about flyer advertising, despite the $20 billion spent on this form of advertising in North America. Anything I did not learn from watching colleagues, I had to suss out for myself.
That is the impetus behind our decision to launch a series of studies on current practices in the retail industry. Areas that will be covered over the course of this research include:
- Financial Management Processes
- Product Processes
- Creative & Production Processes
- Media Management & Distribution Processes
- In-Store Processes
Please click here for more detail on the topics included in each of these areas.
By carrying out studies on the current practices of the industry, we hope to develop a body of knowledge that will help current practitioners to improve their flyer programs and provide guidance to new publishers as they define their processes.Those who will be helped by this research will be individuals who find themselves in the same place I was: trying to stretch their advertising budget while meeting the demands of stakeholders ranging from the vendors who supply co-op advertising funds, to the store managers and franchisees (who are the direct link to customers).
If you would like to participate in the research or receive a copy of published reports, please send an email to email@example.com
January 21, 2007
Why flyers deserve some love
Retail flyers are the pariahs of the advertising world. Nobody loves them, everybody hates them, why don’t they eat some worms?
Because they work, that’s why. Most retailers believe that flyers are one of the most effective means of retail advertising, providing a high degree of consumer awareness, and more importantly, above-average return on investment.
What’s the secret?
It’s all about the money.
It’s a lot easier to get a high return on your advertising investment when you don’t invest your own money. Most flyer programs are funded from vendor co-op advertising funds, making the vehicle a no-cost option for the retailer.
Why do they work?
Flyers are a highly efficient way of using small amounts of co-op funding from a multitude of suppliers. They are highly visible, and despite the “no flyers” signs popping up on some doorways, customers actively seek out flyers for categories of interest to them, because they see them as valuable sources of product information.
Junk mail is only junk when you’re not in the market for the product being advertised. When you are, it becomes information.
So why do marketing people hate them so much?
Because most creative people like to come up with new campaigns using this season’s hot colour palette, and measure success by the number of awards they get from their peers. Flyer programs, on the other hand, are driven by vendors' co-op dollars and measured in sales – numbers, numbers and more numbers, and nary a GRP in sight.
There may be little difference in effectiveness between an attractively-designed flyer and an ugly one, and it’s beneficial to have a consistent look from month to month and year to year in order to get customers’ instant attention when the flyer arrives at their door. It's important to note, though, that even though it may not matter if your flyer is ugly, it's not a requirement.
So give flyers the love they deserve
Love them just the way they are - don't try to make them something they're not.
Focus on integration with the rest of your marketing. Spend time working with all stakeholders in the process, be it buyers, store managers, customers or warehouse staff. Work with industry suppliers to improve your processes. If you or your customers are concerned about environmental impact, work on optimizing your distribution through geodemographic targeting and/or arrange for offsets like tree planting.
A well-planned, well-executed flyer program is a thing of beauty, at least in the eyes of this beholder. I hope you can see it that way too.
January 20, 2007
Focus on Flyers
Those who know me know that retail flyers, for whatever reason, fascinate me. That's why it's good to see others dedicating some time and attention to understanding the work that goes into creating flyers and recognizing those who do an oustanding job of publishing them.
The Retail Advertising Club of Canada is holding its 3rd National Retail Flyer Symposium on February 22, 2007. I've been at the last two and it is well worth it for anybody who works on a flyer or is thinking about adding it to their marketing mix.
October 1, 2006
Communication directly between your customers is easier than ever now, and one of the main things they're going to do is call you on your bullshit. Seth Godin:
Catherine sends us to Mouse Print, a website focused on the sleazy things marketers will do to trick people.
Instead of spending your money on lawyers to make the weasel words in the fine print more lawsuit-proof, try actually improving the product.
April 5, 2006
A Dollar Today is Worth More Than a Dollar Tomorrow
Fred Wilson lists this principle as one of the five things he learned in business school and I have to say that it had a big impact on me as well. The interesting thing is that the idea is naturally ingrained in people - here's a quick exercise you can do to draw this out in a friend:
- Offer your friend $100 a year from now.
- Then, offer them a smaller amount right now, say $90.
- They take it.
- Principle proved.
You may have to dicker a little to find the point at which they'll accept the offer, but that's just haggling over the discount rate - pretty much everyone will accept some smaller amount of money today rather than waiting.
For bonus marks, vary the dollar amounts and time periods - you'll learn interesting things about risk tolerance.
Posted by kenking at 8:00 AM
Wait 6-8 weeks because we don't give a damn
Why do you have to wait 6-8 weeks to get your first issue when you subscribe to a magazine? When you give a damn about picking up a new reader, you go the extra mile, as described in this quote from a reader's email on Grant McCracken's blog:
Music Week for the "culture and economics" world: "When you subscribe, online or by subscription card, you get the current issue in the mail about 3 days later, in a hand-addressed envelope. No ‘please allow 6-8 weeks’: this isn’t a big corporate mag. While they put together a top-rate, slick publication with great cover photos, it’s obvious even from the transaction of the subscription that there’s a room somewhere in Philly, filled with guys (sic) who love this music and want other people to love it, too."
Posted by kenking at 6:43 AM
March 17, 2006
All the stuff I would have liked to write about, Part II
I came across the idea last year of using the occasion of the new year to clean the slate and publish all the notes contained in draft posts. In fact, there was so much stuff hanging around in draft form that I couldn't get a summary post out in a timely fashion - hence part II. ;-)
How Loyalty Cards Can Cost You Sales
Loyalty programs are generally engineered to reward your best customers and to reap the benefits of tracking their activity. However, some retailers have done too good a job of selling the benefits of their program.
There's no question in my mind that having the card influences my buying decisions – although I probably would buy almost as many books without it, I have definitely picked up titles because of members' only promotions in the store. However, the flipside is also true - I'm much less likely to pick up books that don't have a hefty members' promotion.
And that sense of entitlement can damage the relationship altogether: I tend to buy books in batches, and in a quick tour through the store had about $150 worth when I went to the counter. As usual, I'd forgotten my loyalty card at home, but in the past cashiers had always looked it up for me. This time, however, I was informed that the store had instituted a policy of not doing so anymore. I abandoned my purchase and left because I felt cheated out of my discount. To make matters worse, I found out from another location that the policy was not chain-wide, but simply the decision of the specific store's manager.
Big Egos Are Good For Business
Being full of yourself is good for business, according to researchers at the University of Maryland. BusinessWeek interviewed Brian Wu about how Ego Makes Entrepreneurs? The key point in this is that entrepreneurs see risk differently than most people - if something is dependent on your own abilities, then the risk is simply in your own ability to execute, and having an inflated sense of your own ability allows you to overcome risk aversion.
I think there's a related issue here too - entrepreneurs deal with a constant stream of negativity. Mention to someone that you're starting a business, and they'll quote stats about how many businesses fail, express their doubts about the market potential for your idea, and generally try to convince you that you're crazy. Having a strong ego helps to get you through all of that.
Logo Development Process
This article on creating a business logo provides great insight into the communication process between designer and client.
The Dunbar Number
Christopher Allen tackles a popular misconception about the Dunbar number being the average size of of a successful community, when it is actually posited as the maximum size. There are a bunch of good examples in the article, along with some cool charts and graphs.
Most importantly, there's some thoughts on the effect that group size has on company effectiveness, especially the pain that comes with growth. I've deliberately set out to keep my business at a small size precisely because I want things to stay personal.
Posted by kenking at 9:33 AM
January 26, 2006
All the stuff I would have liked to write about, Part I
I came across the idea last year of using the occasion of the new year to clean the slate and publish all the notes contained in draft posts. So here we go:
Managers, Not MBAs
This NYT article on George Bush came out at the same time as I was reading Henry Mintzberg's Managers, Not MBAs. There were lots of interesting things spinning through my head, so many that I never wrote the post. ;-)
"Bush has been called the C.E.O. president, but that's just a catch phrase -- he never ran anything of consequence in the private sector. The M.B.A. president would be more accurate: he did, after all, graduate from Harvard Business School. And some who have worked under him in the White House and know about business have spotted a strange business-school time warp. It's as if a 1975 graduate from H.B.S. -- one who had little chance to season theory with practice during the past few decades of change in corporate America -- has simply been dropped into the most challenging management job in the world." - The New York Times Magazine > Without a Doubt
Store design makes a big difference - although you want to make maximum use of every square foot of expensive retail space, it's also important to ensure the design delivers the desired customer experience.
I recently visited a store specializing in storage and organization products - plastic bins, shelf dividers and the like. The reason for my visit was to find products that would help to reduce clutter in my home (including my home office) and thereby reduce stress. I presume that my goals were similar to those of many other shoppers.
The in-store experience was anything but serene. The aisles were narrow, and oriented across the store so that, once I'd progressed halfway down the store I no longer could see the exit. It was visually overwhelming and claustrophobic, exactly the opposite of the solution I sought.
It seemed that the design was intended to give the impression of a massive selection. On that front it was successful, but only to a point: with the product categories split into short aisles across the store width, one was only able to see 1-2 categories at a time. A longitudinal design would have allowed customers to view the entire selection of the store at once from the doorway, and would still have provided exposure to the broad product selection.
I'm constantly amazed at how little effort most organizations put into giving people teamwork skills, especially since they simultaneously put a ton of emphasis on working in teams. I will probably come back to this point again, as I see the consequences every day.
The Fallacy of the Golden Rule
One of the most common mistakes made is managing by the golden rule. "Do unto others as you would have done unto you" may be good social behaviour but it falls short as a management philosophy.
This article in Fast Company addresses a specific way the golden rule can steer you wrong. However, I think the story here is more about dealing with differences in relative power, which I may address at a future date.
The article did remind me of a more general problem: it's still relatively rare for first-time managers to receive much in the way of training. Sure, most companies will include some task-specific training such as payroll processes and maybe even some touchy-feely techniques. But from talking to a lot of people about their first time as a manager, it's become clear to me that the first mistake everyone makes is to manage by the golden rule.
The problem is that everyone reacts to different stimuli - for example one member of your staff may need frequent praise, while another may devalue the praise because of its frequency. Depending on which camp you're in, you're not going to get the best out of the second person. Enlightenment comes when you realize that you need to do unto others as they would have done unto themselves. This of course takes a lot more work, but it's also very rewarding.
Dave Taylor published an article about why you should "never outsource your business plan", some of his reasoning being as follows:
Why would this be the case? Because it's the process of creating the plan that's important not the end document. When you share your business plan with an investor or venture capital firm, they want to see something coherent and learn about a smart business, but just as importantly, they want to know that your team can sit in a room and hammer out a single, unified vision of your company, one that covers all the major bases, from marketing to defending your intellectual property, cost of sales analysis to partnership ideas.
I think it's even simpler than that - even if you aren't trying to raise a ton of money, the process of writing a business plan forces you to think through your options, and make choices. And when some of those choices turn out to be wrong, you will be up shit's creek without a paddle if someone else wrote the plan. If you did the work yourself, on the other hand, you'll know the assumptions that went into the choice you made, and will be in a position to retrace your steps and take the road not travelled.
Investing in Personal Relationships
Roger McNamee said it better than I could - this is why I go way out of my way to maintain relationships and form new ones. Enlightened self-interest aside, though, it's just fun to have a pint with an old friend.
A J-curve runs through the New Normal. That’s when you invest more than you reap in the early stages, but in the long run you get paid huge dividends. You won’t be able to predict when a relationship will be valuable to you—or even if a particular relationship will be valuable to you—but if you invest in enough relationships, the payoff will be huge. - The New Normal - Invest in Personal Relationships
Protecting the Workgroup
A short article in Fast Company about protecting the workgroup reminded me of the going away party when I left my first management gig.
My team gave me something that's still one of my favourite gifts ever - a custom-made certificate for "excellence in buffering", reflecting the fact that I spent a great deal of my time dealing with all of the office BS so my people could focus on doing their thing. It is also reflective of my philosophy that you work for the people "below" you - if managers spent their energy on figuring out how to help their direct reports to do better work instead of currying to every whim of their bosses, they might actually achieve something.
Posted by kenking at 8:52 PM
October 3, 2005
Putting the cart before the horse: branding
Fast Company published a smart article on the obsession with branding that has overtaken the marketing world.
"Part of the problem is that everyone's doing it. Bill Schley, author of Why Johnny Can't Brand (Portfolio, November 2005), says branding 'is not what you say but what you do.' But what a company does is already, well, what it does! To brand, in a corporate sense, is no more a verb than 'to gorgeous.' A brand is a result, not a tactic. One cannot go about branding an organization or a product or a service; the organization, product, or service is what creates the brand. In a brilliant twist, the experts have bottled an end and sold it as a means."
I really love the comparison of "to brand" with "to gorgeous", which also neatly points out the idiocy of turning nouns into verbs. Besides the verb "to brand" already had a specific meaning related to the searing of flesh by hot metal.
So if you want to do branding, don your chaps and go west young man. If you want to own a strong brand, take care of business: have a strategy, hire good people, take care of your customers and have a story worth telling. The rest will take care of itself.
Posted by kenking at 7:33 AM
September 8, 2005
Distinguish yourself: ChangeThis manifesto
Rajesh Setty has been publishing a series of tips on ways to distinguish yourself on his blog, and has now compiled 25 of them into a ChangeThis manifesto.
They're all interesting thoughts, but 3 in particular stood out to me because of personal experience:
#1 Care as if it's your own
The best endorsement I ever received was when a client introduced me to her new subordinate by saying "Ken isn't a regular supplier, it's like he works here." Don't buy into the objectivity trap - business is intensely personal and you will stand out from the crowd if you clearly care about what you're doing and the outcome (which, co-incidentally, are related to tips #2 and #13 in the manifesto, respectively).
#20 Lead a volunteer effort
My management style was greatly influenced because I cut my teeth as Editor-in-Chief of my college paper. In an environment in which your team can quit at any time, you find ways to tap into each individual's intrinsic motivations.
#22 Learn to sell
When I first tried to get my graphic design business going back in 1996, the idea of selling scared the hell out of me, and I tried to hire others to do the sales. It didn't work, and I went back to full-time employment after running the business for a year. After taking on a sales management role at Hip Interactive, I realized that selling is just talking to people and helping them solve problems, two things that I love doing.
Posted by kenking at 7:04 AM
July 13, 2005
More open-source enterpreneurship
After signing up for The Business Experiment last night, it came to my attention that Stephen Castellano (Reflections in Equity Research) described the launch a similar project on his blog back in April.
His post describes how Maverick Society Investment Research will use open source collaboration to create tools for investment research, and the goals of the project, which include experimentation with form:
In any case, I think what will make Maverick Society Investment Research a success is our true passion for practicing and learning more about equity research. Even if it "fails" I think it will be a lot of fun and a great learning experience for everyone.
The two projects are similar in taking advantage of collective brainpower, but differ in that The Business Experiment is taking a collective approach to everything, including selecting what business to be in, while Maverick Society Investment Research seems to be following a benevolent dictatorship model: the partners have defined the business they're pursuing and will retain a relatively large chunk of any resulting equity.
I'm sure more differences will emerge over time - I hope I can contribute to both efforts so I can see them first-hand.
Putting Ideas to the Test: The Business Experiment
I read a lot of business books, and often wonder if the ideas extend much beyond the authors' carefully chosen case studies. I also prefer rapid prototyping and real market experiments to exhaustive research and analysis. It's not surprising, then, that I found the news below very interesting and exciting:
So I've built a new site called The Business Experiment where I propose we do just that.
Yes, you heard correctly. Business bloggers and readers will test their cumulative business knowledge by collectively starting and running a business - out in the open.
Can we do it? I don't know. It seems crazy, and counterintuitive to everything that we think about business, but that is why I want to do it.
Read the rest of his announcement about The Business Experiment.
Posted by kenking at 12:36 AM
July 11, 2005
Fiddling with Financials
I've been through two incubator programs for young entrepreneurs (back when I was a young entrepreneur), have been exposed to several other programs and have sought information from books, websites and other publications. In general, I have found the weakest link in advice to entrepreneurs to be that regarding financial projections.
Very little advice is given regarding realistic, market-driven projections. Instead, the tendency is for these projections to be based on desired profitability at some point in the future, which in turn is often based on the amount of financing being sought. This results in a circular process built largely on the entrepreneur’s belief in the project’s viability, and shored up by whatever assumptions and estimates are required to achieve financing.
This process is outlined below.
- Decide how much money you want to raise from outside investors.
- Estimate their desired returns over the timeframe you think they’re willing to wait.
- Do the math and plug that number into your spreadsheet X years in the future.
- Develop a defensible growth rate projection based on whatever data you can find.
- Plug in bottom line numbers for each year in your projected financials.
- Estimate variable costs as a percentage of gross revenue. Estimate fixed costs.
- Combine these estimates with the desired bottom line to calculate top-line sales revenues.
- Determine a market size that affords the venture enough share to achieve that sales target.
- Using this projection as the “conservative” estimate, create the “optimistic” pro formas.
This description is a little extreme (and hopefully humorous) but simply intended to illustrate why early financials are not very useful for new venture assessment. I believe that most entrepreneurs do their best to come up with realistic numbers – as long as they support their desired course of action. I also believe that the advice to work upwards from the bottom-line is partly in recognition of the difficulties inherent in measuring market potential for a new enterprise or product, especially for an organization or individual with limited resources.
The message for the entrepreneur is not to obsess on financial projections at an early stage, but to start the process of identifying revenue streams, costs, and assumptions. From there, one can subject highly sensitive projections and assumptions to deeper scrutiny – essentially using the hypotheticals in the early projections to guide and prioritize market research projects.
In addition to this sensitivity analysis, the outside investor should look closely at the assumptions underlying the projections, not the actual numbers. Before looking at the resulting projections, I'd want answers to the following questions:
- Is the entrepreneur making a reasonable effort to use realistic estimates?
- In which areas are the assumptions least defensible, and do these point to a weakness in management?
- Are assumptions and estimates clearly labeled as such?
- For bonus marks, was a sensitivity analysis included with the projections?
Most of all though, I think the key question is about #1 above - does the entrepreneur need outside investment at all? If not, they shouldn't waste their time going through the rest of the process, and should focus on bootstrapping their business instead.
Posted by kenking at 5:08 PM
May 28, 2005
Say it loud, we're small and we're proud!
When the Bank of America chooses to pretend that it understands small, it becomes evident that the tide is shifting.
Instead of working so hard to look like the big guys in the hope that it makes us appear more professional and more legitimate, realize that the big guys are spending millions of dollars trying to look like us in the hope that it makes them appear more human.
It works for us: all our clients know we work from home. They also know that I have the freedom to do things that I cherish -- like playing lunchtime hockey. They're even jealous, a little.
Posted by kenking at 8:47 PM
February 28, 2005
Make the most of your offsite retreat
I spent the weekend at a client's cottage, where I participated in an offsite retreat organized by my client to brainstorm ideas for the future of their company, including business strategy, systems, marketing and human resources.
As is typical, we gathered in a remote locale, a physical manifestation of our desire to remove ourselves from the day-to-day minutiae of the business so we could focus on the big picture.
Of all such events I've attended, this one was the least naive (nobody thought we'd resolve every issue over the two days) and most focused on post-retreat execution. Because of this, we were able to use the time productively to share suggestions and feedback while allowing individual managers to develop action plans.
In particular, before piling into our cars to head back to the city we agreed to two key things: sending follow-up on our action items within a week, and a follow-up meeting shortly thereafter to discuss those plans. Obviously, the outcome won't be known for some time, and I will update this post if things get derailed.
That being said, the different feel of this retreat reminded me of a few key points about getting more value out of offsite retreats:
- It's about preparation
If you don't know why you're going or what success will look like, don't go. Spend time before the event to think about these issues, and make sure all the participants know what the goals are.
- It's about execution
The big idea is useless if it can't be done: make sure at least some of the time is spent thinking about how to put the idea into action. In particular, think about whether there's a simpler way to achieve your goal: The Fisher Space Pen (Number 80 on Mobile PC magazine's list of the top 100 gadgets of all time) allowed U.S. astronauts to write in zero-G, but the soviets simply used a pencil.
- It's about the ideas
That being said, good execution on the wrong ideas is useless. Make use of all the brainpower at your disposal, pick holes in the logic, play devil's advocate: nobody wins if everyone tries to be polite and lets ill-informed ideas become part of the business plan. If people in your group don't naturally do this, assign (rotating) responsibility for being the devil's advocate to members of the team.
- It's about accountability
If an action item comes out of a discussion, make sure there's a name attached to it. "We should do this" is wishful thinking; "I will do this" is a promise. Agree to deadlines for individuals to meet their commitments, and hold each other accountable.
- It's about setting priorities
A group of talented managers can generate a lot of good ideas over two days. Setting priorities is essential: it will allow you to focus on the action items that are most valuable to the business while establishing a roadmap to tackle other issues raised during the retreat. This is also the stage at which reality sets in and you realize that some of the things discussed may never happen because of limited resources.
- It's about follow-up
Plan time to look back at the results: did you get what you wanted out of the retreat? Did the best ideas get put into action? Businesses routinely re-enact programs and activities without thinking about whether past efforts were successful.
What happened as a result of your last corporate retreat? If it was a success, what are you going to do to make sure the next one is even better? If it wasn't, why not?
Posted by kenking at 8:01 AM
February 10, 2005
Free advice - use it or lose it
Not sure which is more surprising: that Toyota's 7000 employees at a single U.S. plant offered more than 10 suggestions apiece in 1999, or that 99% of those suggestions were implemented. However, I believe that the latter fact strongly influences the former.
How much feedback do you get from your staff (and your customers), and how much of it gets acted upon?
November 18, 2004
And when things go terribly, terribly wrong - Part I
What started as an experiment in offshoring ended up as a case study of the perils of building business relationships solely through e-mail.
This post has been in draft mode for several weeks in anticipation of the end of the story. In the interim the story has gotten quite long, so it will be posted in several parts, followed by some thoughts on lessons learned.
Here's part one:
Exactly one month ago today, I did some research on transcription services. I had a few hours of recorded interviews that had been done in support of a consulting project, and while it was not strictly necessary to have a complete transcript, I thought it might be useful and would also provide the opportunity to try out the process before I actually needed it. I had no idea how smart that was.
Selecting the vendor
The first company I contacted didn't respond, and still hasn't after a month. The next day, I sent the same inquiry to five more suppliers: one in Canada, one in the U.S., one in the U.K., and two in India.
I received replies from all five within 24 hours, a good start. Their pricing methods varied (some were priced by the number of hours of audio, others by the hours of transcription work) but with some follow-up questions I was able to compare costing across the group. I also compared the promised turnaround time, and the speed and quality of their responses.
I didn't set out to take the lowest bid, but that bid was also accompanied by comprehensive, professional responses to my questions and the shortest turnaround time. The difference in response time was neglible - all five vendors responded the same business day. The closer for me was that this vendor also offered to provide a free sample so I could assess the quality of transcription.
On October 20th, I sent a follow-up e-mail to the selected vendor, one of the two companies based in India.
And that's when things started to fall apart...
Posted by kenking at 10:02 AM
November 1, 2004
How well does your info flow upstream?
I confess, I have a bad habit of telling people how to run their business. But it often leaves me wondering: How well does information flow upstream inside companies?
If frontline employees want to act on customer feedback, how easily can they make it happen?
I called a US-based manufacturer of trade show exhibits on Friday, and got help selecting an appropriate package. Part of the decision-making process will be the cost-benefit comparison between purchasing a new, easier-to-carry display rather than updating graphics on the old one.
While doing the math, I noticed that the current Canadian/U.S. exchange rate is quite good, and remarked to the sales rep that it might be a good time for them to call back dormant customers in Canada. He (verbally) nodded, but didn't currently have any customers on his list that he could call. While I directed the comment to him, I meant it as a general suggestion for the company.
If something like this happens at your company's call centre, what systems are in place to spread that information?
If there isn't a system, would a sales rep be rewarded for finding a way to communicate, or would they be punished for the "distraction" from their job?
And what are the consequences for your business if your systems (or lack thereof) ignore direct feedback volunteered by customers?
Posted by kenking at 2:33 PM