Cleveland (5895)

Tuesday, 08 April 2014 05:02

How to avoid common customer service mistakes

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One of the worst things to say to customers is “no.” Instead of responding that you don’t have a product in stock or provide a service, always provide some other option, says Rick Voigt, president of Today’s Business Products.

“If it’s something you don’t sell, suggest an equivalent product. Mention that you have this alternate item, and ask if that would work for the customer,” Voigt says. “The answer is never no, even when it’s really no. There’s always an option you can present.”

Smart Business spoke with Voigt about customer service mistakes, and how to ensure they don’t occur at your business.

Can you provide another example of how to turn a “no” into a “yes?”

Every week we get a call from someone who needs a product today, and the deliveries already went out. Depending on the location, it can be taken to the customer; you can ensure it’s waiting for them if they send someone over; or, if it’s an item not in stock, check with another facility and have it sent out from there.

Even when the answer is technically no, there are options to make it yes. Maybe they can’t get a product exactly when they want it, but at least the customer is presented with alternatives.

It’s also important to empower your employees to make decisions, within reason.

What are some other big customer service mistakes?

In order to have good customer service, it’s essential to answer your phones. People don’t want to call, get a voicemail tree and have to push buttons.

Another big mistake is not returning phone calls and emails. Never leave at the end of the day without returning an email or phone call. Even if you don’t have the answer to the question, tell the customer that you’re still doing research. If you told a customer that you’re going to get back to them by the end of the day, show the respect to contact them even if you don’t have the answer yet — ‘I don’t have the solution for you. I didn’t want to leave you hanging while I’m waiting for the owner to get back,’ etc.

When you get back to them, let them know what options are available. If a manufacturer is closed, tell the customer that the manufacturer is closed and you can get an answer in the morning and get back to them.

Always be on the offense, which never puts the customer on the defense. Be proactive rather than reactive. We have a policy that if something is backordered, we call or send an email and give the customer options so we can fulfill their order. A customer wants to know something has been backordered, in case it’s something that is needed right away.

If a customer has warranty issues, don’t just tell them to call an 800 number. Everyone knows how frustrating it can be to call those numbers. Contact the manufacturer and have a conference call with the customer. Make sure that the customer is taken care of by the manufacturer.

Is there always a solution to make the customer happy?

There will always be people who you can’t reason with, but most people are reasonable. The important thing is that you treat people the way you want to be treated — with respect.

When I bought my first car, I walked into an Oldsmobile dealership in shorts and a T-shirt. The salespeople snubbed their noses and pointed at one guy to take care of me. I bought a car from him, my brother bought a car from him that same day, and I bought two more cars from him. Every time I walk into the dealership he smiles because he received business no one else wanted.

The old adage is that an unhappy customer will tell 10 people, while a happy customer will tell two. It’s all about the experience they receive and putting a smile on the customer’s face.

Rick Voigt is president at Today’s Business Products. Reach him at (216) 267-5000 or rvoigt@todaysbp.com.

Insights Customer Service is brought to you by Today’s Business Products

In February, the IRS issued some final regulations relating to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), basically delaying full implementation. One major change was allowing employers with 50 to 99 employees until Jan. 1, 2016, to comply with the mandate to either provide health insurance or pay excise taxes in certain circumstances.

“In effect, smaller employers have another year to determine how they are going to approach this,” says Ted Ginsburg, CPA, J.D., a principal at Skoda Minotti.

Smart Business spoke with Ginsburg about the recent changes to the ACA regulations and how they affect small and midsize companies.

What significant changes have occurred?

For companies with 100 or more full-time equivalent (FTE) employees, the IRS diminished the level of coverage required. If you have 100 or more FTEs, instead of having to cover 95 percent of your full-time employees, you only have to offer health insurance to 70 percent of your full-time employees in 2015. So companies still have to comply with the ACA effective Jan. 1, 2015, but this helps them begin to get into compliance with the law.

There also were minor changes on how you count FTEs and hours to determine if an employee is full time. A person who is a FTE might not be a full-time employee — so that person would count in the calculation of whether you are subject to the ACA, but might not be a person who you would need to offer insurance to.

But employers have to recognize that they need to deal with this — the ACA is not going away. The issues remain the same — do you offer what is deemed affordable health insurance that provides a minimum level of coverage? If you don’t, you might be subject to an excise tax of $2,000 per employee, subject to some limits.

If you provide coverage, but it doesn’t meet ACA minimum standards and/or isn’t affordable, you face a $3,000 excise tax for each employee who goes to the exchange, purchases insurance and receives a government subsidy.

What steps should employers be taking now?

If you have fewer than 100 FTEs, make sure that’s correct and you will not be subject to the employer mandate on Jan. 1, 2015. Companies with 100 FTEs or more need to realize that the decision about whether to offer health insurance needs to be made well ahead of Jan. 1. The decision date is really when you start open enrollment for health insurance, usually in September or October.

What strategies are companies formulating?

There are many, but they all revolve around two issues — finances and HR.

On the numbers side, some are deciding not to provide insurance, letting employees purchase it through a broker or the exchange, and maybe providing some wage increases to compensate. The problem with that approach is that it’s not tax-effective because the money goes on employees’ W-2 forms before health insurance premiums are paid, so they pay additional taxes. The employer also pays additional FICA and other payroll taxes. That approach is a knee-jerk reaction of frustration with the ACA.

Other employers are evaluating using a professional employer organization (PEO) to handle payroll and benefits. PEOs have buying power with insurance companies and can negotiate for better rates. This strategy generally works for companies with 30 to 200 employees. After that point, it’s more cost-effective to have an internal HR group.

We also see clients trying to change employee’s schedules and cut back hours so they don’t have to provide insurance. For companies facing the mandate in 2015, that needs to be done now because the ACA looks back to what was done in 2014.

But this approach also gets into HR issues. A client planning to cut employees back to 29 hours would have to add 33 percent more employees to have the same number of hours worked by the employee group, making it difficult for management, and risk losing employees who can’t support themselves on reduced pay from a shorter work week. Some employers want to avoid the ACA at all costs, but don’t consider costs of an operational nature such as employee turnover.

Most large employers are already ACA compliant. But many smaller ones, those with less than 500 employees, haven’t started thinking about it and need to be prepared.

Ted Ginsburg, CPA, J.D., is a principal of Skoda Minotti. Reach him at (440) 449-6800 or tginsburg@skodaminotti.com

Insights Accounting & Consulting is brought to you by Skoda Minotti

If longevity is a sign of success, Beech Brook stands alone in Greater Cleveland.

The Beech Ball, Beech Brook’s annual fundraiser to benefit its program, will be from 6 to 11 p.m. April 11 at the InterContinental Cleveland. For more information, call (216) 831-2255.

Founded in 1852 as the Cleveland Orphan Asylum, its mission is still much the same today: To heal and find safe and caring homes for emotionally disturbed and at-risk children, as well as providing education and support to at-risk families to break the cycle of abuse and neglect.

President and CEO Debra Rex admits she can’t say enough about Beech Brook and how it has built upon those roots to make a solid impact upon the community.

“It’s a wonderful organization; it changes lives,” she says. “In changing lives, it changes our community for
the better. In my career, all I ever
wanted to do was to help children and families. And I found a place to do that.

“What I also love about Beech Brook, is that we’ve become better and better at reaching out and making partnerships with the corporate community and the public systems — we can create such synergy and bring such forces to bear for the good.”

An active organization

Beech Brook, located on Lander Road in Pepper Pike since 1926, helps children and families advance their well-being and self-sufficiency in a number of ways.

“We served about 24,000 children and families last year in our various services with a budget of about $25 million,” Rex says. “This year, it will be about $27 million and with even more children.”

Beech Brook provides physical and behavioral health care, educational and related services.

“We are a very active, multi-service organization,” Rex says. “We have 45 discrete programs that are in various aspects of carrying out our mission.”

Rex says Beech Brook has a big impact on the community, not only from a child perspective and doing good work to make the community stronger, better and healthier as a result of the interventions, but also because it is a large business.

“We have $27 million in revenue and 450-plus employees in Northeast Ohio,” she says. “We do help fuel the economic engine. We purchase a lot of goods and services and are constantly looking for vendors who can really understand and meet our unique needs as a nonprofit and as a nonprofit human services provider, and who are willing to support us whatever way they can.

“Many of them support us philanthropically in addition to delivering the kind of products that we need.”

 

Growing partnerships

Rex is proud to note that the private community has given not only dollars, but has a lengthy history of involvement.

“We have many loyal companies that have been working with us for many, many years,” she says. “For more than 25 years, Ohio State Waterproofing employees, instead of doing a Christmas party for themselves, have donated the money and have come out to do a Christmas party for the kids in our residential treatment program. It’s just wonderful.”

Face-to-face involvement is very important when it comes to understanding the nature of the work Beech Brook does, she says.

“We look for opportunities for companies to actually interface with kids that we serve so they can get an experience of the mission,” Rex says.

“What we find is when the corporate community can really understand in a more hands-on way the nature of the work that we are doing and the benefit that we are making to the community, that both individually and as a corporation they are much more generous and wanting to invest in our mission.”

 

Getting to the very root

Rex says one of the advances in recent years has been the ability to spot potential problems at younger ages.

“We can now identify kids as young as 1 who are having or going to have very serious problems,” she says. “That’s a good thing because then we can work with the parents and really get things turned around quickly and easily. Like most things, prevention is a lot easier than treating something that has had a long time to develop.”

In order to treat the problem, Beech Brook takes the approach of outreach to day care centers.

“We work with day care teachers who are encountering kids with serious and persistent behavioral problems and who don’t have a clue on how to manage them. A lot of the affected kids are getting kicked out of day care centers because the staff can’t manage the behaviors if they have a tantrum or are having really serious problems,” she says. “We help them to be able to intervene so they can support not only the children who don’t have problems, but also the child that does.”

Staffers are also engaged with the family and work with the parents so they can help get the child’s behavior to be more normalized. Last year, Beech Brook served 102 children in its early childhood mental health treatment program for ages 0 to 3 years.

Older children are served in the Assertive Community Treatment program, which addresses them in a holistic way.

“We work on vocational things, we work on their drug and substance abuse issues if they have them, we work on their mental health issues, we look after their health,” Rex says. “So it is really a very integrated team-based model.

“The wonderful thing about that service is that it keeps these kids — who are at very high risk for homelessness, or court involvement or early death by virtue of their very serious mental health issues — we are able to keep them both stabilized and in community-based living and moving forward in their lives and out of psychiatric hospitals and prisons. So we feel really, really good about that program.” ●

How to reach: Beech Brook, (216) 831-2255 or www.beechbrook.org

 

 

 

 

 

Engineering innovation took the spotlight in several ways at Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC in Elyria in February — and that included getting engineers of tomorrow on board.

In celebration of Engineers Week 2014, Bendix hosted its first Discover Engineering event at its Elyria headquarters on Presidents Day, introducing middle school and high school students to engineering. The company is committed to inspiring the next generation of engineers and helping students unleash their creativity and innovative spirit through engineering.

Discover Engineering was open to children and grandchildren of Bendix employees, allowing students to meet Bendix engineers and learn firsthand what engineering is, and encourage them to consider engineering as a college or career choice.

Students received an overview of engineering fields, observed demonstrations, had site tours and took part in activities. There were also programs to introduce girls to engineering.

 

Pinewood racers

One of the interesting events for students was the pinewood derby, in which students created a race car to go down a track, propelled by gravity. The lesson for students was how to make his or her car the speediest.

Students learned that the pinewood racers reach their highest degree of potential energy at a weight of 5 ounces. The challenge was to make the car heavier with materials — such as brass fittings and tape — without going over 5 ounces.

 

Honors to engineers

In addition, during Engineers Week, Bendix recognized its engineers for their contributions to the company’s development and manufacture of leading-edge active safety and braking system technologies.

Among those honored were the company’s 2013 patent recipients, 51 engineers who contributed — individually or in groups — to the 50 worldwide patents granted to Bendix last year.

“Bendix is built on engineering innovation,” says Richard Beyer, Bendix vice president of engineering and R&D. “Engineers stand tall behind every one of Bendix’s commercial vehicle technologies throughout our nearly 85-year history — including the long list of groundbreaking designs that represent technological firsts in the industry.”

Engineers Week serves as an opportunity to raise public awareness and highlight the role engineers have in creating sustainable solutions that make a difference in people’s lives, Beyer says.

“For the younger generation, we help them learn firsthand what engineering is and encourage them to consider engineering as a college or career choice.”

Engineers Week, a national program marked annually during the week of George Washington’s birthday, celebrates the contributions engineers make to society and serves as a catalyst for educational outreach. For directing the nation toward technical advancements, invention and education, Washington is considered by many to be the United States’ first engineer.

 

How to reach: Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC, (800) 247-2725 or www.bendix.com

Our Lady of the Wayside is privileged to take care of children and adults with developmental disabilities. The only way our nonprofit can successfully support these 500 individuals is by taking care of business.

Now, buckle up because this is where I step over the yellow safety line and put into print what could be considered a shocking philosophy for a nonprofit CEO: We do not want financial stability. What we must have is responsible fiscal growth.

 

Baptism by fire

The dicey economy has been a baptism by fire and gone are the days of operating through a traditionally passive nonprofit model. Financial discipline, accountability and sustainability are not optional. Ensuring the organizational health of the agency demands that we manage several fronts simultaneously: 

  • Political wind-shifts: Scrutinized for impending changes in human service policy.
  • County, state and federal support: Painstakingly monitored to ensure we’re positioned at the mouth of all applicable funding streams.
  • Local marketplace: Measured to make certain we remain competitive.
  • Internal checks and balances: Positioned to evaluate strengths and weaknesses in service delivery and administrative operations.
  • Agency mission: Acts as our operational GPS at all times.

 

50 years of success

Approaching our 50th anniversary, The Wayside has obtained a depth of experience that has taught us how managed growth, promoting economies of scale is paramount to the success of our business model.

Hardcore business practices mixed with nonprofit sensibilities gave us the “iron fist in a velvet glove” approach necessary to thrive in an ever-changing economic and political landscape. Factors contributing to our success: 

  • Organizational agility: Responding before or in tandem with major shifts in governmental policy or funding.
  • Outcome-based strategic thinking: Short-term and long-range planning focused on methodically developing goals and objectives
  • Partnerships: Vendors, donors, corporations, small businesses, other nonprofits; the fact that our mission supersedes everything we do, uniquely positions us in the community to acquire partnerships with like-minded people and organizations.
  • Entrepreneurship: What needs do the people we serve have and how can we fill those needs? It’s a question we ask and answer over and over again.
  • Talent: Our board is comprised of some of the most business-savvy and compassionate individuals in Northeast Ohio. Common sense dictates that you’re nowhere without a strong team and we have places to go. 

A strong dashboard is what our stakeholders rightly demand. It is also what the children and adults with disabilities we serve are rightly entitled to expect. In their own way, both make major investments in our organization and our responsibility to them is what motivates us to advance our mission by taking care of business.

Terry Davis
president and CEO

Our Lady of the Wayside, a regional leader in residential, respite, transportation and adult day programming for children and adults with developmental disabilities.
Terry is an avid golfer.
www.thewayside.org

Entrepreneurs who have built growing, profitable businesses know how to overcome enormous obstacles. Along the way, they have accumulated deep knowledge of their end-markets and make decisions based on decades of experience. Nonetheless, I hear a common line when speaking with entrepreneurs about ownership changes for their long-term transition: “I’ve never done this before.”

Even confident entrepreneurs procrastinate when it comes to planning that involves changes in ownership. Make this critical event go well by considering some dos and don’ts. 

Don’t: Wait for retirement to be the prompt for succession planning.  

Do: Consider selling a portion of equity in your business in order to bring in a financial partner well before you want to hand over the reins. Partnering with a private equity firm, also referred to as a financial sponsor, can result in a game plan where you keep the lead role as well as a meaningful share in ownership. This can give you some personal liquidity, as well as the resources of your partner to undertake bold growth strategies.

Good financial partners bring experience in executing these strategies, committed capital to make them happen and ongoing attention to building out the management team to be ready for growth in years to come. This also helps ensure that your ultimate transition away from the company will not have a detrimental impact on the business. 

Don’t: Put off succession planning because, “I’m so busy right now growing the business.”

Do: Get acquainted with business owners who have sold all or a portion of their company’s ownership to find out about their experiences. Reach out to an adviser, attorney or accounting professional. Speak with investment professionals at a private equity firm in your area to hear how they could help your company grow. The best time to learn about your options is before you need to achieve liquidity. 

Don’t: Skimp on investing in your business before a sale in an effort to boost operating profit. While this might have a short-term effect of making operating profit appear larger, it will be discovered by your buyer and either hurt your transaction valuation or diminish the prospects of a sale altogether. 

Do: Be ready to answer the question, “What would I do if I had unlimited access to capital?” This can be a tough question to answer — you’ll need accurate intelligence about market share and growth potential of your current offerings, new product line opportunities and viability of entering new geographies.  

As you review your business strategy each year, succession planning should be an active consideration, no matter how far away you may be from retirement. You may find that outside capital and resources from a financial sponsor can maximize growth while also fostering a longer-term, multi-step succession plan. Regardless of the path you choose, the best entrepreneurs examine this topic regularly — well before an actual transition is desired.

 

Cheryl Strom
associate director, origination

The Riverside Co., the largest global private equity firm serving the smaller end of the middle market, for seven years.
She also serves on outside advisory boards for two privately held, founder-owned companies.
www.riversidecompany.com

Laura Bennett told herself shortly after co-founding Embrace Pet Insurance that if she could share her knowledge with other women and people who were looking to start a business, she would.

“I couldn’t find any women who had raised venture capital funding,” she says. “There were a few men, but not many. And I knew that it was sort of different for women. You’re just looked at differently. So I couldn’t find any.”

Fortunately, she hooked up with JumpStart Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides assistance to Northeast Ohio entrepreneurs to start and grow their companies. That allowed Embrace Pet Insurance to get off the ground, but Bennett still felt the need to help women in business.

 

Network time

It was time for her to start her own network. A little more than a year ago, she founded the Burning River Coffee Community, best described as a loosely knit mentoring organization.

“It’s a gathering of women every month or so, mostly at breakfast time at either Panera Bread or in the Embrace offices,” she says. “It’s to help women move their businesses forward.”

And it’s not just a case of a small business that receives attention from the mentors. There is a range of entities, from high-growth-potential companies to those who struggle to raise money. Some don’t have to raise venture capital funding but at this point want to take their business to the next level, to sell across the U.S. or globally.

Bennett has been there and done that and wants to share how to get in deeper. She could have just taken the attitude of, “I’m here now, and I’m taking no prisoners!” But she didn’t, and took her message to the Burning River group.

 

Invigorating

“I say to them, you know, it is incredibly hard but if you share your struggles and your challenges with the group, you would be amazed how invigorating it is,” she says. “It’s energy from the group that you get. When you have a group of business people together, there is always some benefit that will come out of it.

“I encourage women to network, and to find other women in the same boat because it is very lonely being an entrepreneur,” she says. “I think women benefit more from finding other women in similar circumstances who they could relate to. It doesn’t matter if your business is related to the other woman’s business, but perhaps you are at the same stage, you have the same issues — a lot of people have the same issues; it’s just a different business.

“It’s that sort of strength, camaraderie and resilience that you need, because you need someone to keep encouraging you. That is what I recommend that women do, and I thought of this organization to help with that.”

We couldn’t have said it better. That’s great advice for anyone, and especially for women as we feature our annual “Perspectives — Women Who Excel” issue. ●

 

Dennis Seeds
Managing editor

Smart Business Cleveland
Dennis is interested in the people and businesses making a difference in Cleveland.
(440) 250-7037
dseeds@sbnonline.com
www.sbnonline.com

 

 

No matter how well you make your products or provide your services, one of your customers will eventually experience a problem. The way that you deal with these inevitable problems determines how your customers view your company, and ultimately, if they’ll buy from you again. Do you know how well your customer service processes are working? 

To prepare for the recent holidays, I decided to replace our dwindling and mismatched collection of wine glasses. I browsed the Web, and placed an order for 16 — eight whites and eight reds.

A few days later, my shipment arrived with two cartons of four white wine glasses. In place of the eight missing reds, however, I was surprised to find a breast milk storage system! I’m not sure how or why it was confused for wine glasses at the distribution center, but there it was. So began my experience with the retailer’s customer service process.

 

Broken merchandise

After three weeks and multiple conversations with their polite, but scripted and heavily-accented, customer “service” agents, my red wine glasses finally arrived. The bad news was that they had been poorly packed and one glass had shattered.

Luckily, the retailer allowed merchandise purchased on their website to be returned to any of its stores. Wanting to avoid their “customer frustration” call center, I took the carton containing the broken glass to my local store. After working with the returns clerk, a cranky computer, the supervisor and the retailer’s internal help line, they found a way to credit me for the entire eight glasses! At last, my 30-minute “easy” return ordeal was over.

Putting on my “business hat” afterward, I calculated the retailer’s monetary loss from the breakdown in their processes:

  • $30 for the breast milk storage system I couldn’t return, because, according to the retailer’s system, it never “existed.”
  • $15 extra credit to me for the four extra glasses that I hadn’t returned because the system only sold them in units of eight.
  • About $200 for 60 minutes of a corporate help line plus a busy in-store supervisor’s time.

Conservatively, my $30 order of wine glasses cost the retailer at least $245. Obviously, it only takes a very small percentage of these situations to consume the low margins of a retailer.

 

The bigger picture

First, how many customers not as loyal as myself would choose to ever even order anything again from this retailer?

Second, outsourcing customer service can save money on a spreadsheet, but if these company representatives can’t be understood by customers or solve their issues, where are the savings?

Third, inefficient, inflexible computer systems cost valuable employee time, frustrate customers and, in my case, doubled the credit that I deserved.

What about your customer service processes? Do you know how well they really work and what they really cost you? Maybe, like my experience with my favorite retailer, they aren’t working as you expect.

Cheryl B. McMillan
Chair, Northeast Ohio

Vistage International is a leading international organization for CEOs, presidents, business owners and senior executives.
Cheryl also leads local peer advisory boards comprised of CEO’s and senior executives from non-competing companies.

www.CherylMcMillan.com

Whether you are starting a business, already in business or within a corporation, an advisory board should be an active part of your professional interactions.

This board, or circle of influencers, is a group of people with a level of expertise and insight you would not independently achieve, helping to guide your professional journey.

When I interviewed many successful leaders to build my own board, I quickly learned that most notable leaders proactively surround themselves with mentors and sponsors who can help fill their recognized and unrecognized gaps. Some leaders have different advisory boards that are segmented. For example, one leader I interviewed is an executive in corporate America, an author and leads the board for a nonprofit foundation.

I realized that even though I did not proactively select people up to that point, I had people I already called when I had good news, bad news or needed business advice.

You also have an advisory board of people that guides you through your professional journey. Now, ask yourself, “Does my current advisory board align with my professional goals?”

If you are like most, you may have some work to do, but it is worth the investment.

A few suggestions to attract great people:

  • Work on yourself first — become what you want to attract.
  • Define your goals — be able to describe where you want to go next and why.
  • Help others first — before asking, offer to help others on their goals.

When developing an advisory board, consider avoiding these don’ts:

  • Don’t leave the selection of the board to chance.
  • Don’t only select those you currently know.
  • Don’t only select people who look or act like you.
  • Don’t get caught up with titles.
  • Don’t build it and forget it.
  • Don’t expect it to stay the same.

 

The last one always stuck out for me, which is unfortunate but true. Your professional goals will change over time and so should your advisory board, as its main goals are to encourage, challenge and advise you through your career.

These days, with the help of social media, advisory boards have no boundaries. There are new forms of online networking that can be excellent tools to connect with new professionals and align to industry experts. I have actively joined professional groups within LinkedIn where I have observed conversations, posts and levels of expertise. I have proactively connected with professionals that exude a level of expertise that aligns to where I want to go next.

Once you have taken the time to proactively build your board, consider these points to maximize its impact:

  • Do communicate regularly with members.
  • Do share specific milestones and desired direction for more impactful results.
  • Do offer to help your members with their initiatives.
  • Do ask for constructive criticism and welcome honest feedback.
  • Do integrate suggestions where relevant and effective.


    JJ DiGeronimo
    president
    Purposeful Woman and Tech Savvy Women
    JJ is the author of “The Working Woman’s GPS” and “Before You Say YES.” and Women in STEM advocate.
    www.purposefulwoman.com

 

Can you name a single aspect of business that doesn’t require communication? Of course not. Whether that communication is internal, external or both, nothing happens that doesn’t demand effective communication. If you want to win, it needs to be done well.

That just makes common sense.

What isn’t logical, is the environment in which businesses communicate today. Here are five major communication challenges facing every company: 

Anger

We live in an angry country right now. People are angry with their leaders, their media, their judicial system, their schools and, yes, with corporate America. As they lash out, that makes doing business more difficult.

Communication of any type is immediately suspect. Walking a calm, reasoned path through this anger is difficult. Does your company take time to really listen to stakeholders and let them know they have been heard?

Noise

The challenge of making sure people know what makes your company, your product, your services different and special is perhaps the biggest single hurdle you need to clear with communication. When you do that, you cut through the noise. You establish competitive advantage.

Is your leadership team making an effective case for your organization every single day?

Impatience

Customers, employees and other stakeholders are increasingly impatient. In the future, expect anger and its associated noise to breed even more impatience. Nobody wants to wait for anything. Looking ahead, companies will need to find new ways to protect their turf quickly. Has your leadership team talked about that? 

Loyalty

Customers need reasons to continue to do business with you. Employees need reasons to stay. People always have choices and they do not hesitate to act on those choices — one way or the other.

Is your leadership team focused on stakeholder loyalty and what needs to happen to earn that every single day? 

Uncertainty

There is a lot of uncertainty out there. That impacts anger, noise, impatience and loyalty issues. It’s an important underlying challenge in the environment in which your company seeks to create and grow relationships.

Does your leadership team understand the ongoing need to communicate on a timely basis with employees, customers and others so they know and embrace what your company stands for in an uncertain world? 

Confronting and doing all you can to address these five obstacles is an important pathway to success.

 

Davis Young
Principal

DY Author & Speaker LLC
Davis is the author of “Trust is the Tiebreaker,” an e-book published by Smart Business Network, currently available on Amazon.com.
(440) 248-9550
Dysolon@aol.com

 

 

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