Why A Customer’s Experience Is The Key To Retention

You don’t have to sell a roller coaster ride, right? It kind of sells itself and sticks with you. Especially the, “Oh so this is a ruse, it’s really just a plot to kill people” thought you have before the “ZOOM!”.

In a product-based business, once you get a customer, get the customer to come back. In a service-based business same rule applies. But the magic question is how?

In my experience as a small business owner, here are 3 key concepts to work towards outside of what you probably already do:

1. Problems are opportunities to thrill a customer. We all hate it when we get a complaint but it happens to every business. Even if you are a customer service wiz like Zappos, it’s incredibly difficult to be perfect 99% of the time because of the amount of people you serve. Think of it this way, If 1 person out of 1000 is dissatisfied, that’s only .001% of your base and not a big deal, right? But if .001 percent of people of 20 million people are dissatisfied that’s 20,000 dissatisfied people. As you grow, problems grow. Make problems an opportunity to perfect your craft before you are too big to fix.

2. Never let a customer walk out angry. For the business I started, customer service is the thing that sets us apart and letting others handle customer service after the early days was extremely hard for me. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to pay people to help customers, I found it difficult to find people that understood how to treat people when they are angry! We all can get testy when issues arise, but playing it cool and making sure that the customer’s issue is resolved before they leave is the most important thing.

3. The transaction doesn’t stop after they purchase. A complete experience is important these days. Do you know why? Unless you’ve innovated a product or service to the point where no other business offers it the way you do, you won’t be an original. There’s very little way to offer a unique product or service these days. Offer an experience at your store. If the secret to living is giving, offer whatever else you can to spice up the memory of your transaction. Give more and get more.

Make your business a ride customers will never forget and they’ll wait in line for 4 hours to get back on it again.

Getting Customers So Happy They Cry

It was about 6 years ago when I made a customer cry for the first time and I am proud to say that others have bawled before me many times after I learned how to do it. As the day unfolded and she experienced what we had created, felt the true emotion of the experience, she cried happy, big wet rivers of tears.

Make your customers feel complete joy. How did I do it?

Let me step back a minute and give you the opposite of joy to a semi unrelated event, but it gives you what your employee may feel as you try to pump them up for sales on a product you’re just darn skippy over! I was an floppy haired employee of a distribution company in the mid 1990’s. It was a very famous and successful company and I had a decent opportunity to find a path in sales there and make something of myself even though absolutely hated it. This company distributed cookies and I sold them to stores. I’ll never forget the weekly phone calls we had with grown men talking excitedly about selling cookies. I could care less!

The motivation calls were about our progress on initiatives, “hard numbers” and goals. They were all jabbering about how they were going to do it and what that would mean for the bottom line. I sat there on my end, always quiet, not giving even the smallest damn.

I didn’t have any connection with the distribution company’s product. They were damn delicious, but I couldn’t give a rat’s ass about who I was going to sell them to, how big my display was going to be and how many boxes we were going to sell. Because I didn’t have an emotional attachment to the product personally, I couldn’t be an effective sales person. Sure, I could pretend, but when it came down to it, I just didn’t care.

Fast forward years later to my own business and a service product that I cared about deeply and I changed people’s lives with the passion I felt towards them and the service product. That moment where I began to realize that we can create a deep emotional connection with our clients with incredible concerts at my music school was the moment where our fate was sealed: we were embedding a deep connection to our customers and our product.

Because we cared so deeply about the students and the parents, we took steps to really make sure that they had an incredible time and a memory to last a lifetime. We made sure our event featured students in such a caring and embracing way customers became emotionally attached. Addicted almost.

So back to the crying customer. It was a typical concert for me and as producer… I was busy running around trying to do all the jobs that I could because we couldn’t afford many people working at the shows. I remember running down the aisle to the front and my goal was to get to the stage before the next performance started but I was too late. A young girl stepped to the microphone and the music began. I nestled in to the first row and decided to listen because she was one of the better performers at the studio and I was sure to be in for a real old fashioned ear treat.

Enthralled by the music and her voice, I began to get goosebumps. I thought, “I created this opportunity for her to shine. For everyone! This is incredible! What an incredible moment” I kept thinking over and over, “Incredible.”

As I turned to the left, I saw the girl’s mother not too far away from me. She was sitting with a huge smile on her face barely holding the camera steady because of the river of tears flowing down her face. The light from the stage created powerful shadows as they met the dark of the crowd around her but illuminated this loving mother’s face as if on a screen. This powerful moment shook me to my core as I started to well up.

She never saw me witness this moment. Her daughter finished the song to thunderous applause.

Shaking my head and clapping like a crazy person, it was then that I realized that the key to raving fans is finding the portions of your business or one idea, product, event, promotion, design, SOMETHING that can connect deeper. To fulfill their needs.

When you do that, they’ll never leave you. You’ve won their trust because you are a great business person, but more importantly, you won their heart.

How Resistance To Innovation Killed An Industry

With the Grammy Awards on tonight featuring some truly great talent and with the rest just incredible branding and fashion, it’s time for my semi-quarterly takedown and challenge to what was once my industry. I am at my core an artist who likes to perform and teach. That’s why business entrepreneurship and business coaching speaks to me. However, I am an artist that hasn’t bought a CD OR purchased an iTunes song in 6 years. The music industry lost a customer. Why?

Think of any business that sells a product or a service product. How can they survive when their customer stops buying? TomTom, the ingenious navigation hardware that we all bought and used… that is until phone makers started placing them for FREE in our phones. Goodbye TomTom! Now they’ve actually innovated other products quite well to stay in business and more on that here. Anyway, Polaroid, Blockbuster and the list of all the companies that were destroyed because of innovation is getting longer and longer. Innovation is that hand that giveth and taketh away!

Look no further than the music industry, the (now) handful of companies that create products out of artists music and use their own distribution chains to sell it and market it, to be up next. These guys and gals in suits that make the decisions of the business, initially failed to see how resistance to innovation almost killed their business. They fought back against the internet usage of their property. Initially it was probably best from a copyright and a trademark point of view but they failed to see the power of how fast the revolution was changing the BUSINESS. They were busy in the courts (still are) and they had the illusionary comfort of their model and how THEY would win because it was “stealing”. They failed to see any opportunity with it. Their illusion that their CD product would keep their revenue safe for years or the unrealistic vision somehow that people would pay for a virtual CD almost killed them. Thanks to artist innovation, streaming and iTunes-like products they are making a comeback. The industry has a long way to go- revenue is still way down.

The industry experienced a severe downturn with revenues plunging in 2009 50% to 9 billion and only recently getting back to $15 billion in 2015 thanks to the same technology that almost destroyed them. In fact the 3% growth it experienced last year was the largest increase in almost 20 years.

What make the music relevant aren’t the companies that traditionally monopolized the industry or the greed that we are familiar with, it’s the resilience of the artists that make the music and the people that consume it. Music will always be a part of our lives but how? When will the next revolution be? How will a whole industry adapt?

Better question here is how can you take the lesson of innovation that brought down the giants of an industry, ones who were comfortable in the illusion of the lasting identity they had in their product, ones who scoffed at the notion that they would be brought down by a simple idea. How will you apply this lesson to your business? To your product? Will you look for change in the world and embrace the change? Even better, look at the world around your business… all the change around your business that it’s not taking advantage of. Will you incorporate new marketing tactics to your business or still use the old world marketing tactics?  For instance, an astonishing almost half of US businesses DO NOT HAVE websites. How much business are they losing by not simply being on the web? How can they innovate by resisting the fear that is holding them back? Maybe they had a business than sold sneakers and now Amazon is crushing their business. They are still holding on to the old world brick and mortar model and not taking the initiative to make bold steps forward.

Where do you stand? Where does your business stand? Will your business be around when innovation is the hand that take the away?

7 Ways To Build A Great Culture

Credit: Zappos
Credit: Zappos

Don't have a great culture at work? Let's build one together starting right now. And see Zappos for culture 101

As an employee, I grew in businesses with eye-rolling bosses, unapproachable managers and straight up scary people. I worked in construction, as an law office assistant, in retail, in management and elsewhere. When I made a decision to open my own business I knew I was going to be a great boss because of my background... I was going to do the exact opposite of what people did around me in my various roles year prior. I would create a home outside of a home.

Over the years the culture has evolved quite a bit- but not the "home" portion.

  1. Define your values. When people are reacting in a way that aligns with your beliefs and values, you will find an inner peace at work that is unbreakable. Define yours today and post it. Evangelize.
  2. Get rid of anyone that doesn't fit in to your value set. Hire slowly and fire quickly. Get rid of dead wood or anchors slowing you down.
  3. Learn how to control your emotions. Stay in a peak state always and learn how to stay positive and motivated all day in front of your employees. Study how your state affects others.
  4. Speak to your employees one-on-one & OFTEN. Employee reviews and even simple chatter matter. Know what's going on in your employee's life and coach them. Make sure their trajectory aligns with yours because if it doesn't, you will always have high turnover.
  5. Create in-house activities. A simple dance party at 11AM everyday will kick everything up a notch everyday.
  6. Empower and coach. Today's workforce wants to be involved. They want to matter. They don't have to be involved in the everyday important decisions but opening up discussion about issues or opportunity keeps everyone engaged. Don't be a caged business owner.
  7. Keep the spirit alive. Innovate. Celebrate. Keep your passion alive no matter what the odds of you making payroll next week or whatever stress you may have.

Stranger Things: A Lesson In Understanding Your Customer

Jeepers! They’ve nailed it. (credit: Netflix)

The producers of the show understand their main audience and another type of audience that longs for nostalgia so well that this is headed for more rocket-stardom. The Nostalgia Strategy as per this Vanity Fair Article. I’m not a critic, I am far from a film expert but in terms of understanding who they are speaking to, these people nailed it at just the right time. The power of timing and having an opportunity with Netflix for their audience to find them made this possible. It wasn’t the writing… or Winona Ryder.

From a branding point of view from an 80’s child (me) all of us born in the mid 70’s are eating this up. We grew up with corny movies and haircuts, we were latch-key kids, we snuck out at night to hang out, we snuck in Jason & Freddy movies behind our parents backs… and we long for those days.

 

From the opening cut in season 1 to the opening cut of this trailer, nostalgia is selling big! Now, I don’t know one kid in the 80’s who wore a or could afford a realistic looking ghostbusters costume but to me, understanding your audience (80’s kids with a flair for nostalgia) and Audience 2 (Netflix binge watchers) will win for this year and next. Just pummel me with the Rubix cubes, Alf and bad hair styles (want a laugh? Click that link). Then, if they are smart, they will adapt when we get bored of it (something Walking Dead writers and producers forgot to do).

Know your audience. Know your customer. Take a risk on something you like and research how big that audience is. For the millions and millions of us born 1965-1975 (Generation X) and 1976-1981  (Generation Y) there is an untapped reservoir of opportunity still waiting. How are you communicating with your ideal customer and what opportunities are you missing?

 

Daniel Powers Jr is a successful entrepreneur and business coach dp@danielpowersjr.com

Brand: It’s Like Brandy.

What’s your brand?

is it:

bran·dy
ˈbrandē/
noun
  1. a strong alcoholic spirit distilled from wine or fermented fruit juice. (via wikipedia)

Or:

Danielpowersjr.com Branding
Branding

Same name, 2 completely different meanings. One completely dating ME… I’ve never listened to her, it’s just a reference and hilarious to 90’s kids probably. (Almost doesn’t count? Why BRANDY??)

I’ve been hovering around this branding concept for 10 years now and more recently went in for the strike at my companies. To me, when starting a business, screaming I NEED TO GET CUSTOMERS NOW was a bigger rallying cry than a casual me at a coffee shop asking “me” SO, what my USP and what value do I add. ? Or what emotional value do we add?

It was more like: Branding? No rally the troops!

 

So when customers talk to me about what Real Brave or even my non profit After School Rocks does, I’ve spent a lot of time separating us from the pack. It’s important more than ever to start shaping your brand. Because of the noise. See Gary for that.

Now, for the next person that asks you “What makes your X unique?” or “what does X company” do start crafting your message. Let’s take a stab at it with a few simple steps.

  1. People buy people. When differentiating your company from others whether it’s in a start up stage or possibly a few years in, write down your beliefs, your values and who you are and start with that brand. A brand is only unique if the person who drives it is.
  2. Fall in love with what your client wants. What I’ve learned very recently is that business owners tend to fall in love with their product or service but not the customer. I was guilty of it and many more are. Identify your customer and what they want and LOVE ABOUT YOU. There is a pattern in everything.
  3. Differentiate yourself. Your brand is what you offer that resonates with your customer. What people love about what you offer. Why they buy. Market that.

 

Daniel Powers Jr is the founder and Chief Inspirer of Real Brave Inc, After School Rocks, Practice Pad and the artist’s business coach. Find me @danielpowersjr on instagram, facebook and more.

 

 

Heat of the Moment, John Wetton 67

Whenever I think of the song “Heat of the Moment” by Asia, featuring the songwriting and singing skills of recently departed John Wetton who died today at the age of 67, I have to admit that I am transported back to a Queens, NY bar in the 90’s with bottles being hurled over my head as I try to kiss a girl.

This honest moment was brought to you by: beer. Ironically, John’s victory over alcohol abuse is something I recently read about him and as someone who is keenly aware of my own alcohol consumption, I greatly admire him for that.

Years removed, I recently sat down with the music of Asia and as a musician began to truly appreciate the musicianship of their early work. Like a lot of the 80’s music that I grew up with, Heat of the Moment will forever be enshrined with the drippy sound of reverb and style. It will always have the strut and the swagger of an 80’s movie, it will always be an 80’s song. I’ve grown to accept the 80’s and turn it up when I am driving with my kids. (cue: DAD STOP!!!) Even as a departure from progressive music, it’s impressive that they nailed harmony and structure of a solid tune.

As a musician turned successful entrepreneurial business person, the work that we all submit early in life is a testament to who we are currently. I know that I (may) never have the massive commercial success that Mr Wetton in music did but if he is reading this on the big RocknRoll Diner Counter in the sky, I hope he knows his music lives on past the jukeboxes, past the greatest hits cd’s, onto Spotify, XM and beyond.

Immediately upon hearing of his passing, I had that memory of being young and enjoying life… then pushing the thought away because of the dated music. Years removed, I am thankful to have known his music and had it a part of my life.

Growing a business as an artist or business person in part is the same I feel. You have this massive success and it can become dated if we don’t constantly innovate. And that’s something I’ll remember in the heat of the moment here growing my business. Thank you John. Now I have to dive back into King Crimson again.

Finding the Path. Your Blueprint: Discovered.

Real Brave Audio

During the past 10 years, for just about every second of my waking day, I have worked towards offering a service that gave children & adults of all ages a second home. A place they can discover. A place we all can pay a small fee but get big, priceless rewards.

I’ve had the privilege of witnessing thousands of people walk through our doors, pick up an instrument for the first time and make true progress towards goals. I’ve seen countless amounts of people build lasting relationships with our staff members. I witnessed that lightbulb moment when students “get it” for the first time. I’ve seen tens of thousands of performances and have been brought to tears with the beauty and the pureness.

If the first ten years was about bringing the service to the world and witnessing its birth and emergence, the next ten years is about bringing more service to the communities that surround us. I’ve seen my foundation After School Rocks, our sister non profit that brings free arts education to underserved communities continue to raise money and expand to those that truly need it. I’ve helped launch an in-house software, created by Real Brave, that will enhance a user’s experience at the studio and be the ultimate learning companion for true progress. “Practice Pad®” as we call it, will be launched in first quarter 2017 and has unlimited potential. It’s already being used in class now- the digital tablet version is coming soon!

I believe that making a difference in the world and making money doing it is possible. It’s being in business. It starts with just wanting to help people. This blog will be dedicated to information sharing and self help. I hope it brings you inner peace and most importantly: Help!

Daniel Powers Jr is the founder and Chief Inspirer of Real Brave Inc, After School Rocks & the learning companion Practice Pad. Coaching and business help. Follow at: