The Question of Customer Loyalty

As we head into what is the busiest shopping season of the year for many businesses, I think it’s a good opportunity to talk about customers and customer loyalty. As a business you have to have customers, otherwise you won’t be in business very long. The next thing to consider is whether most of your customers are repeat customers, or if you offer things that people buy once or extremely rarely. If you offer something, say heart surgery or roofing, you probably will ever work with someone once. But if you offer something like ice cream or hair cuts, and you’re not having repeat customers, something probably has to change. Here’s what one very successful entrepreneur had to say:

“Customers aren’t loyal. And it’s a waste of time trying to convince them to be….Life changes. Priorities change. Competition changes. In reality, almost no one is 100% loyal….Fact: 87% of a brand’s customers don’t stick to just that brand. They’re promiscuous at best. And if they’re offered something better, they’re gone.” Ramit Sethi

Those are some pretty serious percentages. So the question becomes: do we even try to gain customer loyalty? The first answer that comes to mind is that if you don’t give any effort to making your customers come back, few probably will. The second thing to consider is that it’s consistently proven to be cheaper in all ways to keep customers coming back than to gain new customers. The third thing to consider is that even if you have a service or product that’s purchased maybe once in a lifetime you can still gain loyal customers, it’s just not the same type of loyalty. Fourth, if you ask employees who really love your company about their favorite customers, they’ll often tell you that they enjoy connecting with the “regulars.” Fifth, loyal customers are those who share about your great products or services with their friends, and/or leave you nice testimonials you can use to get more customers.

One thing to remember is that everyone is human and everyone goes through changes in their life. So it’s really unrealistic to expect that every customer would stay with your business and your products and/or services for the full duration of their life (or their need for that product/service). But my answer is that we should work on making customers loyal, or at the very least, increasing the amount of times they purchase from us. Whether you use email newsletters, social media, events, physical mailings, a blog, a loyalty card or even just new products or services that are in line with those you already offer, there are tons of ways that you can build loyalty and encourage repeat customers. What are your favorite ways to connect with your customers and build relationships with those who are loyal to you and love you?

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Expectations of Something More

Do you get up every day with a list of expectations for yourself, the people in your life and the world around you? Lately I’ve been taking time to consider my expectations of the world and think about what they might be and what I really want out of my life.  Part of it has to do with the passing of a family friend, part of it has to do with the hate I’ve been seeing some people share, and part of it has to do with wanting more out of life because life’s really not worth wasting.

This month one of the things we’re talking about is the topic of fun and I think fun has an important role to play in making sure we make the most of our lives.  It can be both a motivator of encouraging us to get the work done so we’ve got the resources to have fun as well as one to make the time to have that fun and take time off as well.  We do have an expectation of making sure we care for our families, and I think it’s an important one to uphold.  There are people around the world who don’t make decisions in light of how it will affect the people who matter the most to them.  But in the same conversation we do have a responsibility to be part of our loved ones lives, and not at work all the time trying to provide for them.

So what’s a person to do? If you’re at work working tons of hours because you’re not making enough per hour/day to support your family, it’s time to upgrade and update your skill set.  If you’re at work all day because you work on a fantastic cause, it’s time to get some new people involved.  If you’re at work all the time because you don’t want to be with your family, it’s time for a serious evaluation of and conversation about your life.  If you’re spending all your time on fun and avoiding the work there must be a reason why.  Maybe it’s because you really don’t enjoy your work, or maybe simply because reality hasn’t smacked you yet.   Whatever the case is I encourage you to take a look at your expectations for your life present and future and see if where you’re at and how your days currently go line up with that expectation.

Choosing Love

Love is a powerful emotion.  Emotion might even be too weak a word to use to describe what love is, because love is more than feeling happy, or sad; love lasts, endures and exists through those times of highs and lows.  Love makes our happiness conditional on the other person’s happiness.  Simply, love means we want those we love happy, and if they’re not happy we’re not either.  This is one area where all of the technological advancements of the past few decades have really made a big impact: it’s even easier to spread the love around even when we can’t be that physical shoulder to cry on.  You can send love through a Facebook or email message, a quick tweet or text, or send it over as a big photograph.

One of the greatest abilities love has is the ability to tear down barriers of loneliness and separation.  The only reason distance relationships work ever is because the love in that relationship is powerful and well developed.  Love doesn’t consider our differences, it just sees people and hearts.  Love isn’t concerned with politics or culture, it just wants to break down walls.  When we let love in it can do powerful things in our lives and in the lives of those connected with us.

However, it’s not just about being loved, it’s about loving too.  It’s one reason people who suffer from depression are told to get pets or do community service or spend time with kids: you feel better when you’re spreading love and helping others.  But just like many other things in our lives, love is a choice.  It’s a choice we have to make on a daily (or hourly) basis.  It’s a choice no one can make for us, and one we can’t make for them.  If you don’t want to feel alone, do something about it!  Choose to accept the love that is all around you and make it part of your life.

“It is astonishing how little one feels alone when one loves.”  John Bulwer

Productive Priorities

One of the things we struggle with is productivity.  We’re good at getting distracted, find other things that need our attention, and are often overbooking our schedules.  I get it-we want to keep everyone happy, take advantage of all the great opportunities for ourselves and our kids and fully experience life.  However, as scattered and distracted as we are it’s seriously hurting our quality of life, not to mention the stuff that we actually end up accomplishing at the end of the day, and how we feel about what we accomplish.  Sometimes we’re so over-committed we’re not only overbooked, we’re not getting the important stuff done, and sometimes we’re not getting anything done at all.

The first step is to realize that you’ve got an issue and decide to get help, and maybe it’s as simple as admitting it to a trusted colleague or your partner.  But most people need to reach out to a strategist or organizer to help them restructure their life and make tough decisions.

Once that first step has happened the next thing that needs to happen is prioritizing.  What is truly a priority?  What are you pretending is a priority?  What are you ignoring? Who are you letting down?  These are some very difficult questions to face and answer, but they’re necessary.

After you’ve decided what’s important, it’s time to start making changes in your life and scheduling in the things that are truly priorities and putting to the side things that aren’t.  These changes won’t happen over night but do take time.

Finally, now that you’re more productive and prioritizing what’s actually important, there’s one more step: learning to say no.  One of the reasons you got into the mess in the first place is because you were filling your life with things that were and weren’t good for you.  Learning how to say and mean no in your life is one of the biggest keys to truly having a life you love, and a life that’s productive as well.

Reflection Time

I’m still doing some reflecting and considering as we work into this new year.   2016 felt like being in a cement mixer at times for some of us, it certainly didn’t seem like a smooth ride personally or in the world.  As I’ve been reading a number of posts at the end of the year and the beginning of this one, I identified with what a number of people were saying about the year that just ended and how they felt about it, what they ended up doing in that year and of course where they’re headed in this new year.

For many 2016 ended up being a year of personal growth, not so much professional, although plenty of people and companies did have a very successful year.  For some 2016 was so bumpy that it was hard to even identify or understand that until new year reflections happened.  So if your year was anything like mine, I’m going to encourage you to work through these questions over this week before you give up on your resolutions and/or before you make final decisions about where you want this coming year to go:

What was your best memory?
What was your worst memory?
What was your biggest accomplishment?
What was your most satisfying victory?

What goals do you have for 2017?
What relationships are you going to create or work on in 2017?
What do you want to stop doing in 2017?
What needs to most change in 2017?

Just how good can life get?
Will this be a courageous year for me?
What will make you happy?
What will you love?

As I do my own reflecting and consider where I’m taking things this year, I’d love to hear from you what you would like from me in this blog and/or in what I offer in my business? How can I best help you make more victories in your life and what are you struggling with?

The Year of You

I’m finding it hard to believe we’re about to cross over from one year to the next, but I’m super excited about all this year ahead holds for us!  I know that some people are concerned about the direction we’re going based on some of the events of the past year, but if you’ve really been paying attention you should have been having concerns for several years now, this should not be the (only) year that concerns you.  Today I wanted to end the year with a question that reflects on the year ahead for you to think about.   The question I pose to you today is:

Who will I be this year?

It’s a question that may not make sense to you, unless you’ve been feeling frustrated, lost, confused, dissatisfied or out of touch or place with what’s in your life lately, or even for a long time. If you’ve been struggling with these types of feelings you’ve probably also been struggling to keep things going in your life, keep up with things, feel happy, or accomplish victories in your life, family or business.  Or maybe you’re just ready to turn over a new leaf and do something different with your life, based on the lessons you’ve learned over the past year.

So with this new year you’ve got a choice to make.  Will I stay the person I’ve been, will I pursue new adventures, will I be the person everyone thinks I should be, am I really happy with where I am but haven’t accepted it, is it time to make some changes and show the world who I really am?

Who will you be this year?

The Choice of Quality

Quality.  It’s one of the things that we have to decide about as business owners.  The general belief is that the more expensive something is the better quality it is. But quality can be a subjective term because the “quality” that one person is looking for isn’t the “quality” that another is looking for.  A really simple example is when it comes to plates and other dinnerware.  Some people consider “quality” dinnerware to be that which is made of porcelain and very expensive.  Others consider “quality” dinnerware to be that which looks nice and is durable enough to make it through raising kids.  So how do we determine quality for our businesses and is it important?

I believe quality is something you need to consider.  Regardless of what quality means to you, it always means that you’re working with and trying to achieve a standard, typically a respectable one.  Most people and businesses don’t aim for the quality of junk because they actually want people to buy their products.  There are of course businesses who create junk and market it off as a quality product or service and try to hide the fact that it’s junk.  Those businesses don’t last very long.

Sometimes even businesses that have a quality product or service can make mistakes or find room for improvement.  There are imperfections that happen accidentally like e coli happening at the farm you get your produce from (and the farm has never had an issue before and doesn’t have another one), or bugs that are discovered in new technology products or upgrades to existing ones.  It’s one reason that it’s important to do quality control checks and be checking, testing and getting feedback about your products and services.

I believe that every business needs to define the standard of quality that they strive for.  Once the goal has been set, then the steps to ensure that quality need to be put into place.  If every business had a real quality commitment that they accomplished the majority of the time there would be more happy customers and customers would be more willing to stay with a brand.

What will you do this week to improve or reinforce your business’s quality commitment?

Your Expectations

Today I’m thinking about expectations.  We have expectations about ourselves, we have expectations about our family members, we have expectations about the place we work or the kind of work we do, and we have expectations about our world.  The dictionary defines expectations as: to look forward to; regard as likely to happen; anticipate the occurrence or the coming of; to look for with reason or justification.  Sometimes our expectations aren’t justified and we don’t have a whole lot of facts we can put behind them to support them, but if we really take the time to think about it, most expectations we can come up with a reason for expecting the result that we do.

The thing is though, not all of those reasons are good ones.  We may expect someone to let us down because we have had it happen in the past, we may expect that things will typically become less expensive over time because the products to complete them are cheaper, and we may expect something to happen because it seems logical to us or because it’s the only conclusion we can come up with.  However if you present the same exact situations and things to other people they may come up with completely different conclusions than you or I did because each of us has our own set of expectations.

The reason I bring up expectations today is because the expectations you do and don’t have could greatly affect, and even hurt, someone else.  For example if you expect someone to fail or not do their best work, while you may be right you’re discouraging them from giving it their best effort if/when they know you don’t believe they can do great things.  A prime example is when your kids hear that they’re “good for nothing” over and over.  When they hear that, and know that’s what you believe about them and expect them to produce (nothing), and most will be beaten down until they do produce nothing.  Of course, the reverse can be true too; if you have high expectations of someone you can help launch them to reaching bigger goals than they thought they could reach.

This week I encourage you to check your expectations.  Do you expect the best of people? Are your expectations so set in stone that you can’t see beyond them to the other possibilities that are out there?  Do you live up to the expectations other people have of you (and are they fair expectations)? Are you expecting the best possible result from this week?

Living with Love

As I was driving and contemplating life today this song, “From The Ground Up” by DAN + SHAY came on the radio (you can listen to it here):

“Grandma and grandpa painted a picture of 65 years
And one little house
More than a memory
More than saying I do
Kiss you goodnight’s and I love you’s

Me and you baby, walk in the footsteps
Build our own family
One day at a time
Ten little toes, a painted pink room
Our beautiful baby looks just like you

And we’ll build this love from the ground up
Now ’til forever it’s all of me, all of you
Just take my hand
And I’ll be the man your dad hoped that I’d be

And we’ll build this love from the ground up
For worse or for better
And I will be all you need
Beside you I’ll stand through the good and the bad
We’ll give all that we have
And we’ll build this love from the ground up

This life will go by
In the blink of an eye
But I wouldn’t wanna spend it without you by my side
The clouds are gonna roll
The earth’s gonna shake
But I’ll be your shelter through the wind and the rain…

Someday we’ll wake up
With thousands of pictures
65 years in this little house
I won’t trade for nothing, the life that we built
I’ll kiss you goodnight and say I love you still…”

This song is an invitation for those in relationships, as well as all of us, to love through thick and thin and learn to work together.  Sometimes there is no better choice than to agree to disagree and go your separate ways.  But often full separation isn’t an option, especially if you have kids or work together.  The song is a reminder that life does include its challenges and that we won’t be able to escape all of them.  The choice we have is in how we face our challenges.  Do we choose to do it with people to support us through them, or do we choose to try and go it alone?  We can choose who we love, who we allow in our lives, who we build our lives with, and what we do with our lives.  I’d much rather work towards an awesome future with people I enjoy being with and who enjoy being with me, wouldn’t you?

A Limitless Summer

Summer is officially here and it’s time to look ahead to what you’re going to do with your life this summer and what you want from the rest of the year as well.  One of the most important decisions we make throughout our lives is what we’re going to do with each and every day.  We have to make decisions about working, spending money, the people we’re going to allow into our lives, how we treat others, how late we’re going to stay up, how early we’re going to get up, our values, what we eat, resting and rejuvenating, where we want to live, where we shop and countless other things.

We not only have the challenge of making the decision, but of making the best decision and turning our decisions into results too.  We don’t always make the best decisions nor do we always follow through on the decision we make.  If you want to see your life improve, it’s time to start making better decisions and get better at following through on those decisions.

How do you make the best decisions for your life?  First by not blaming anyone else for things that go wrong that you are really to blame for.  You can’t always anticipate what others will do or predict the crazy things that go on around the world, but you certainly can do something about the choices you make in your life.  Second, don’t use the “I don’t know” excuse.  There are so many answers available online that you can access with just a couple of clicks most likely, so to say you’re uneducated or not smart enough isn’t an excuse anymore.  Finally, become a doer.  Watching and learning is important, but it’s what you do with what you know that ultimately matters.

This summer I encourage you to take time to watch and learn.  Don’t let the excuse that you don’t know something fly anymore, choose to learn and improve your life.

“Your inability to see other possibilities and your lack of vocabulary are your brain’s limits, not the universe’s.” Scott Adams