How to Lose Business Fast

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

Bad BusinessThree words…No Phone Support. If you want to send your hard won customers and clients straight into the arms of your competitors then I encourage you to eliminate phone support. This really works; trust me…I have personally abandoned companies who either go out of their way to hide their phone numbers, or even worse have eliminated phone support altogether. In today’s post I’ll buck yet another trend and share why strong phone support is mission critical to your business…

Doing business in a Web 2.0+ world is a great thing, but even great things can be taken too far. FAQs, Knowledge Bases, E-mail support, and Online Chat are great ancillary support channels that can be effectively used as to augment phone support. However they should never be used to replace phone support. I cannot even comprehend what is going through someone’s mind when they decide to do away with phone support.

Okay you caught me…I know exactly what’s going through their mind, but it is nothing short of unadulterated lunacy. Doing away with phone support is always a feeble attempt at cost-cutting. I’ll admit that you can lower support costs by eliminating your call center, but this is like tripping over dollars to pick-up pennies. Any business that supplants customer centricity with extreme cost cutting measures won’t be around long enough to reap the benefits of their misplaced initiatives. 

Every time I see a business jump on the me-too bandwagon and scrap phone support I can only think of the lost opportunity costs associated with their flawed business logic. The following three items are just a few reasons why phone support is a valuable customer facing opportunity:

  1. New Isn’t Always Better: Tech savvy people who don’t want the human touch can always opt for a digital response and will likely do so in most cases. That being said, this still represents the minority of instances. When people have a problem the default service preference is to speak to a live human who can help. Believe it or not there are still a large number of people who will not use any other support channel other than phone support, and when you eliminate that option you just give that business to someone else.
  2. Learn from the Banks: Phone support agents at banks are normally very polite, customer focused, and they never miss an opportunity to cross-sell and up-sell. Banks understand that when they can answer a question, solve a problem, or add value, that they are enhancing customer loyalty. Moreover, they understand that a creating a positive customer experience can lead to a selling opportunity. If your phone support agents are not trained to look for selling opportunities then shame on you.  
  3. Be Smart: If nothing I’ve said thus far makes sense, then try this…Rather than eliminate phone support to cut costs, charge for phone support and create a new revenue channel. Listen, I don’t like to pay for support, but like most people I’ll do so if it is the only way I can solve a problem.

The bottom line is this…Don’t hide from your customers to cut costs, rather embrace them to increase brand equity, customer satisfaction and loyalty, and to generate new revenue opportunities. Your customers want to be served and to have their needs met. What they will not tolerate is to be brushed aside in the name of cost savings.

A Sneak Preview

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

My last book “Leadership Matters…The CEO Survival Manual” continues to receive positive feedback, and I’ve been pleased with the stories that have been relayed to me about the book’s ability to add value to the lives of those who have read it. In today’s post I have the pleasure of announcing my forthcoming book (to be released this fall) entitled “The Conventional Fool…Why What You Think You Know Is Probably Wrong“. In today’s text I’ll give you a brief overview of the book, and later this week I’ll actually give our readers a sneak preview inside one of the chapters…

The long and the short of the genesis of my new book is this…I simply loathe the substitution of original, innovative thinking for someone else’s over-used, antiquated, one size fits all, and often wrong thinking simply because it is (or was) made popular by someone of note. See if this resonates with you…Can you even remember the last time you attended a business meeting where at some point in time the conversation didn’t break down into a verbal game of one-upmanship to determine who could cite the most colorful business axiom, come up with an obscure quote from Peter Drucker, reference a sound bite from one of Jack Welch’s old speeches, or mention something from “Good To Great”? From B-School students, to mid-level managers, to C-level executives, the business world is mired down amuck the plethora of unsubstantiated opinions, trends, misinformation, and other untruths taken as fact without even the slightest attempt at vetting the sound-bite de jure against the relevancy of the thought, or the context of the situation.   

My question to you is simply this…Where are this generation’s real thought leaders hiding? The business world is chalk-full of so-called experts and gurus who in my opinion add little value to the advancement of business thought. Rather it is my observation that these purported experts often seem to relish in meaningless drivel and rhetoric while conspiring in the repurposing and proliferation of trite business axioms and myths that are often older than my dead grandfather’s suits. You might be thinking to yourself “boy is this the pot calling the kettle black, or what?”, and while I’ve certainly been guilty at times of perpetuating dated theory, I have always tried to deal in the functional reality of not only what works in today’s global business world, but what will work into the future as things continue to evolve around us.

My new book “The Conventional Fool…Why What You Think You Know Is Probably Wrong” takes direct aim at conventional business wisdom by challenging the construct of the business theories that drive many of today’s executive decisions. This book is my attempt to separate fact from fiction, and to challenge everything that we have come to hold dear as universal principles of success. I will take aim at some of the great experts (past and present) in an attempt to reshape the way you think about business, leadership, innovation, and success. I fully expect to take a great deal of heat over this book. However the purpose of the book is to spur debate and to advance thinking, so I’d be nothing short of hypocritical if I didn’t encourage you to challenge my thinking in order to take it to another level as well.

I’ll be providing more updates on the book as we get closer to publication, and I look forward to your input and feedback.

Internet Usage

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

I’m often asked by executives if social media should be part of their brand strategy, or if it is too late to jump on the Web 2.0 bandwagon. It’s as if they feel that they missed a window of opportunity and that the digital age has just forever passed them by. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, other brands may have a bit of a head start on you, but since when have successful business people ever let a first mover’s advantage dissuade them from pursuing a tremendous opportunity. I’ve discussed my views on social media in a variety of other posts, but in today’s text I’m going to let the numbers speak for themselves…

I found the following chart over at eMarketer.com, which validates that social media has clearly become a mainstream medium of influence across all demographics. If you haven’t started blogging, using online video, created a LinkedIn profile, hosted a webcast, use video conferencing or have yet to adopt any number of other great toolsets, I would strongly suggest that you include the below referenced data into your evaluation of digital mediums and reevaluate your position:

Blogging Statistics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

Smart executives won’t overlook a medium that affords such broad and cost effective exposure for your personal or corporate brand…

Quick vs. Right

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

“Quick vs. Right” is a phrase that makes me cringe every time I hear it used. One of the most common copouts inept leaders use in masking their decisioning inadequacies is to delay pronouncement on the grounds that they currently possess insufficient information to make an astute decision. Almost without fail, this tactic is a trite and cliched attempt to somehow insinuate that speed in decisioning is a weakness, and that quick decisions are somehow synonymous with reckless decisions. In today’s post I’ll share with you why slow decisioning as a CEO puts both your company and your career at risk… 

While there is little debate that speed can create an extreme competitive advantage, it is not well understood that the lack of speed can send a company (or an CEO’s career) into a death spiral. Agility, fluidity, decisiveness, commitment and focus all lead to the creation of speed which results in a certainty of execution. There is an old saying which states “the best decision is a quick decision, the next best decision is no decision, and the worst decision is a slow decision.” 

General George S. Patton said it best: “A good plan violently executed today is far and away better than a perfect plan tomorrow.” The pursuit of perfection is one of great adversaries of speed, performance, execution. In fact, at the risk of being controversial I’m going to take the position that perfection does not exist. I hate to break it to you, but those of you who regard yourselves as perfectionists simply exhibit perfectionistic tendencies in an unrealistic attempt to achieve what cannot be had.

The pursuit of perfectionism rarely results in a competitive advantage, but it will result in time delays, cost overruns, missed deadlines, and unkept commitments. I would suggest that rather than seeking what cannot in most cases ever be achieved, that it makes more sense to seek the highest standard of quality that can be delivered in the shortest period of time, and that is economically balanced relative to the constraints of an ever shifting marketplace.

There are those that would argue that speed in synonymous with undisciplined decisioning, but I would caution you against confusing speed with reckless abandon I’m a big proponent of planning, assessment, analysis and strategy, but only if it is concluded in a timely fashion. “Analysis Paralysis” leads to missed opportunities and failed initiatives. Speed is your friend embrace it leverage it win with it. 

Earlier in my career I served as Director of Internet Strategy for what was at that time the world’s largest web-enablement firm. While serving in that position I coined the term e-velocity which we used to describe the influence that web-based technology was having on the pace at which business had to be conducted in order to remain competitive. It used to be acceptable to take 12 to 18 months to roll-out an initiative, but in today’s world you better be able to do it in 90 days or it will be obsolete before it gets to market.

When I first started in business it was usual and customary to produce 5 and 10 year business plans and today I work off of rolling 90 day tactical business plans. The latest advances in Business Process Management (BPM) have seen a reduction in the planning and budgeting cycle from 120 and 90 days to 45 days. But, is 45 days good enough? How many days constitute a responsive cycle time? Many believe the right number is between 5 and 10 days. Why is cycle time reduction important? Because shorter planning and budgeting processes facilitate greater flexibility and responsiveness. Shortening cycle times requires a sense of urgency and high velocity decisioning. Slow minded executives simply erode margins, stifle innovation, and erase competitive advantage.

In today’s competitive business environment you must quickly be able to assess risk and make timely decisions. You cannot be successful being guided by fear and hesitation. When in doubt, remember that “Speed Kills” and that “he who hesitates is lost.” As a CEO Coach I can tell you that without question the best CEOs are able to make very complex decisions, on short time frames, and with incomplete information. If you don’t possess the experience or intellectual acuity to make quick decisions then you better surround yourself with sound counsel and advise from those who can.