Business Success: Observe your OCD

Business Success LogoNo one wants to be ignorant — but on our quest to be knowledgeable we can instead obsess over the wrong petty details. In this week’s Business Success column, consultant Leslie Unger advises on how to avoid OCD.

Be Observant . . . Not Obsessed

Leslie G Ungar

Recently an FBI agent was asked, “What makes someone an effective profiler?”
The answer was surprisingly simple:  to be an effective profiler is simply to be an observant person.

In business, as a leader or owner, the challenge I have found is to be observant — and not obsessed.

On the continuum of observance, there is obsessed with the details on one end, and clueless to details on the other. In your daily professional life, your goal is to be healthily observant.

In order to protect your value, it is incumbent upon you to be observant to what those around you do, and what those around you do not do when opportunity knocks. If you pay attention to the little messages, then a big message (such as whether you are hired or fired!) will not come as a surprise.

Two examples:
Paul was on senior staff on his way to a C-level position when Al was hired in a position slightly above him on the organizational chart. Al brought with him several members from his former company. Once a rising star, Paul wondered what this meant to his future at this company.
“Be observant but not obsessed,” I counseled him. In communication there is a saying that when what one says contradicts with what one does, go with what one does.  You have to observe what goes on around you so you have the pieces to construct the big picture. Then you need to hold up each piece as you do with a jigsaw puzzle, and see where it fits and what it means to whole scenario.

Tim is a school superintendent. He was waiting for a second contract to be offered by his school board when the Board president forgot their appointment. Was it simply a missed appointment? Or was there more to a second contract than the current superintendent was aware?
“Be observant but not obsessed,” I counseled him. As in other aspects of communication the answer is simple. Simple though not easy. As appealing as it may be to live in a bubble, none of us can afford the price of isolation. We need to be observant without becoming obsessive.

How to Observe

First, be observant of the verbal, vocal and visual signs of those around you — and be observant in the moment.

Second, embrace uncertainty.  You do not have to know why your observation is important or what it means to the big picture. You want to look at observations like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. By themselves, most pieces will not finish the puzzle. When you put the pieces together, at some point you have an ah-ha moment and see the bigger picture.

Third, be as non-judgmental as possible in collecting information. Observations are not good or bad. Observations are not quality or poor. It is not possible to know the value of most observations at the time you make the observation. The challenge is to make them and keep them — and not be obsessed with them!

The experts say that moderation is key . . . to chocolate, exercise and life. The same maxim is true of observations. To not read the tea leaves could be detrimental to your forward movement. To be obsessed with every observation will surely stall you and your forward progress. The answer to chocolate and life is to be observant without being obsessed.

Leslie G. Ungar of Electric Impulse Communications is a coach, speaker, and speechwriter. Her blog is; email is

Business success: Why predict failure?

Business Success LogoIt’s too easy to be a pessimist. But while pessimists fail, at least they were right about that impending lack of success.

In this week’s Business Success article, Alan C. Fox argues that it’s better to better to overcome your possible pessimism, and succeed in spite of it. Fox is the author of People Tools for Business: 5o Strategies for Building Success, Creating Wealth, and Finding Happines.

Alan C. Fox

Alan C. Fox

I’d Rather Succeed Than Be Right
By Alan C. Fox

“I’d rather be right then be president,” said former US Congressman and Secretary of State Henry Clay, Sr. (1777–1852). And right he was. The senator from Kentucky ran for president three times during his illustrious political career, and lost every time.

Many of us, perhaps most, often predict our own failure.  “I can’t climb that mountain.”  “My speech will be terrible.”  “I don’t suppose you’d like to go out with me.”

Why? Simply because it is much easier to fulfill a prediction of failure than it is to actually succeed.

But wouldn’t you rather predict success ten times, succeed five times, and be “wrong” in half of your predictions than predict failure all ten times and be entirely correct?

I for one would rather succeed.

I’ve used this attitude for most of my career. While I’m not always right, I am always confident.  And I end up succeeding a large percentage of the time.

A Sporting Chance
Heck, the highest major league career batting average of all time belongs to Ty Cobb.  His lifetime batting average was .366 (1905-28).  This means that out of 1,000 at bats, Ty Cobb — one of the best hitters of all time — failed to get a hit 634 times out of every 1,000 attempts.

And Detroit Lions quarterback Bobby Layne is reported to have said, “I’ve never lost a football game:  Sometimes my team was behind when the clock ran out.”

No one wins all the time, but you are far more likely to succeed if you go into your next interview (or deal, hearing, or review) anticipating your success.

Early in my career my business partner Harvey and I negotiated for eighteen months to buy an apartment complex.  Several times I told Harvey to give up, but he persisted.  After a year and a half, the seller finally agreed to accept our offer, and the transaction was later completed.  I must admit I learned something from Harvey: to work hard and expect success.  Harvey’s confidence was never shaken, and he had refused to take “no” for an answer.

In a 2013 Los Angeles Times interview, the great orthopedic surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache (whose clients include Kobe Bryant, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Sylvester Stallone) was asked if he ever got nervous. “No,” he said, adding he always feels confident that he can solve any problem that arises.

So rather than go with Henry Clay’s approach, I’d rather follow the Queen’s advice in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland:

“There’s no use trying,” Alice said.  “One can’t believe impossible things.”

“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” replied the Queen.  “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day.  Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

So why not tell yourself that you can do it—that you will succeed, despite the odds or obstacles?

Impossible?  Not at all.  And before breakfast is a good time to be optimistic.
Martin Luther King, Jr. had an impossible dream, and look what he accomplished.
Henry Clay, Sr., on the other hand, ended up being right—he lost all three of his campaigns for president in 1824, 1832, and 1844.
• Alan Fox is the president of ACF Property Management, Inc, and author of The New York Times bestseller People Tools: 54 Strategies for Building Relationships, Creating Joy, and Embracing Prosperity.  Fox is also the founder, editor, and publisher of the Rattle literary magazine, and he sits on the board of directors of several non-profit foundations. Visit

Business Success: Don’t stop now!

Business Success LogoWhatever goals we promise ourselves we’ll achieve, the reality is that the outcome hinges only on our own sustained effort.

In this week’s Business Success advice article, Eisen Marketing Group president Rodger Roeser lays out the steps you need to succeed in your Marketing — or pretty much anything else, for that matter.

Success or Failure in your Marketing Activities

As we near the end of another year we see what became of our well-intentioned efforts to lose weight, get in to better shape, quit smoking, or stay more in touch with family. Is it too early to think of new resolutions for next year?

Rodger Roeser, APR

Rodger Roeser, APR

Resolutions are similar with marketing and public relations: Regardless of the economy, marketing activities are not flash-in-the-pan, quick-fix options, but rather long-term, sustained programs and campaigns that actually yield positive results.

Experts will tell you that the reason most resolutions fail is because they involve sustained commitment and effort. Also, they are often unrealistic in nature – so folks give up altogether. Similarly, good public relations and marketing activities take time and are not a quick fix to your business ills. Finding good publicity angles, creating image and article opportunities, reaching out and sharing that company story or profile — all this takes time, patience and stick-to-it-iveness.

It also takes time and effort to achieve realistic results. One push-up will not make you thin or build your chest. All too often, I see business executives simply increasing sales numbers for no apparent reason except that Excel allows them to plug in a 25 percent in widget sales. It seems solid research and market realities have given way to just plugging in numbers and storming the gates. This is bad practice, and leads to frustration and a lack of business clarity and focus among the employees. Don’t be that executive who says say you want X amount of articles in the newspaper, or any number that appears to be pulled out of thin air, and when those numbers aren’t hit, you’re disappointed. These types of business mistakes are not productive, and surely not good for morale.

A good marketing executive or agency can offer much better and more realistic guidance for these types of numbers, and advise the best ways to achieve those goals. And, like a good personal trainer, help keep you motivated and on track.

Here are four simple steps for your future successful marketing.

1. Get a Plan!

If you don’t have a marketing or marketing communications plan, get one. Do yourself and your business a favor: hire a good firm, and get a plan developed. The investment of just a few thousand dollars may be the best investment you make this entire year. The plan will have realistic goals with realistic prices (You do yourself no favors when you believe you can do a national advertising campaign for $500). A good plan will lay out strategies, tactics, timelines, goals and budgets that should be very easy to follow. The firm should be able to implement the plan, or work with you to share in the implementation duties.

If you don’t have a plan, this is the first and most important step you can take for your business.

2. Stop with the “Magic Bullet”

We all play Monday morning quarterback: surely the coach likely knows more about football than most, but it doesn’t stop people from wanting to share their “ideas.” Same holds true for marketing – rarely are folks short on “ideas.”

Recently it seems there is this great new invention that will revolutionize marketing as we know it and cause all other forms of marketing to wither and die:. Social media. For some reason, all the Monday morning marketers are jumping on the social media bandwagon and putting up any manner of information on Facebook, Twitter, and others – and waiting for the sales to roll in.

While social media and having a good social media plan is important, it is not THE answer. It certainly can be integrated into an overall marketing plan, and blogging and tweeting and friending and updating are all smart – just be realistic and be smart about it. If I ever again hear, “We’re not going to do much marketing this year, because we have a blog now” — I may have to send out the Marketing Police.

3. Keep at It

Regardless of whether your marketing program is grand or modest, continue to work it. Purchase media — billboards are at great prices, and direct mail is a simple, cost effective way to stay in touch and further solidify the brand.

While you must be smart and scrutinize every dollar invested, now is not the time to stop. I had a client that, for all intents and purposes, stopped their proactive marketing outreach months earlier — and now, they have no pipeline, no leads, and no revenue. They’re lack of consistency in their outreach has likely caused yet another business to go under.

Invest wisely, be proactive, and keep at it. Again, a good agency is your best friend here.

4. Change up the Routine

Just like working out, changing things up a bit can yield some quick and dramatic results. Now may be an excellent time to do something different – perhaps an event, a new sponsorship, a cause-marketing initiative, or a podcast. Properly positioned and integrated, new programs can attract entirely new segments of consumers or prospective business partners in a fresh way.

When is the last time you wrote a thought leadership article, or submitted an opinion piece? Take a look at where you may have some holes and fill them; see where the opportunities may exist, and capitalize on them.

Again, if you don’t know all the opportunities you may have, consult an agency. (There is also a great online radio show called “That Marketing Show” that has a top marketing genius as a guest each week, sharing one great tip and idea after another.)

By taking some simple and proactive steps, and hiring an affordable yet quality expert or agency, businesses can look forward to bright future. Now is the time to get out there, stay focused and keep aggressive. Ideas and options are a good thing. Go make some waves.

Rodger Roeser, APR, is the president and owner of Eisen Marketing Group, Northern Kentucky’s largest fully integrated public relations firm. Roeser served as the 2005 president of the Cincinnati Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. He is an accomplished and award winning print and broadcast journalist, and currently hosts Business Focus, an online broadcast news magazine.

Business success: Rock on

Business Success LogoIt’s been a while, but a few years ago I used to see the saying everywhere: “Everything I need to know, I learned in kindergarten.” Rodger Roeser, APR, president of The Eisen Agency, has a little twist on that idea. Everything he needs to know about marketing and PR, he learned in a rock ‘n roll band.

On that note (ha!), take it away, Rodger…

Rodger Roeser, APR

Rodger Roeser, APR

Those that know me know that I speak allegorically – I have a penchant for using nickel words and often turn to analogy and allusion to make a point. I have always found that it makes complex issues more personal and enables someone to better understand and appreciate an issue or an argument. My favorite analogies and stories typically tie in my experiences as a working, and often times starving, musician. Even as a suit and tie running a successful boutique agency, I am still that same wannabe rock star who practiced public relations and marketing before I even understood the so called “right way.”

There are literally endless ways businesses, personalities, civic and social leaders, and others utilize marketing and public relations in their efforts. In offering some practical and useful advice that I often learned the hard way, created as I went along, or simply worked harder than others would be willing to to make the seemingly impossible happen, understand that everything involved in good marketing and PR can be distilled into a story about rock and roll.

1. Play With Your Heart, Not Your Head

Too often, I see practitioners, either the so called professionals or internal teams, over thinking, over analyzing and over just about everything in an attempt to implement or develop a given marketing or public relations program. We’re likely all familiar with the term “paralysis by analysis,” but in marketing, it seems to be a rampant virus. So often, organizations and practitioners will laboriously fret (get it) over every conceivable outcome and focus on tactical minutia rather than looking at the big picture or worse, failing to see something beautiful in its simplicity that would actually work. Achem’s Razor: All things being equal, sometimes the most obvious is the right choice. Stop over thinking and DO SOMETHING.

I find too often that most would rather talk endlessly about ideas and theories and outcomes instead of finding a simple E chord that would crack someone’s ribs and really have an impact. Yes, it’s important to be prepared up front, but in looking at your organization, find what will make your customers (the listening audience) passionate and want to sing along to your tune. Stop focusing inward and think outward and let yourself be creative and passionate about what you do and how it makes a difference, solves a problem and tells a beautiful story. Because, as you talk with your customers, they’ll know when you’re playing a song you really love or just going through the motions. Marketing is not about keeping quiet in the cube: Shout it out loud.

2. The Show Must Go On

Things happen. It’s marketing, not rocket science. No matter how much you plan for an event, a grand opening, publicity or even desired outcomes – rarely does everything go exactly as planned. You can plan and you can spend head time on creating desired outcomes and what you believe is every possible contingency, but it will happen that the drummer is going to show up late (trust me), six people and your mom will be in the only ones in attendance, or the fact that you’re lip synching will be exposed on live national television. Things happen, it’s inevitable. How you recover, roll with the punches, and still make everything seamless is the mark of a true professional.

A good pro is prepared when something outside of their control happens. Last I checked, even the best agencies are not the magazine publishers, nor do they tell CNN upon what they should report. Businesses must understand that fact. It can rain. So as opposed to getting electrocuted when you plug in your amplifier, you are ready in advance for such unexpected opportunities to shine. You’re drummer fails to show up, time to grab the acoustic guitars and go “unplugged.” Whatever happens, have a back up and be prepared because the event or the interview or the program is in motion. As Frankie says: Relax. Do your job, and be the professional.

3. Know When To Hire a Manager and Outside Professionals

Sometimes, being a good musician (having a great company or product) is simply not enough. Hiring outside marketing professionals, just like hiring a lawyer or accountant, is a prudent move. You play your music well, we’ll show you how to take it to the next level and market it accordingly – that’s why all the great bands have great publicists. Over my 20 years in this marketing and PR business, I’ve seen, witnessed, created or otherwise had some involvement in just about everything at one point or another. Not much would shock or surprise me. I’ve made more mistakes over the years and learned from them than anyone else should have to go through. I taught myself how to play guitar, instead of hiring a teacher – which caused me to fire myself after I discovered guitarist after guitarist was so much better than me. I had a basic understanding, but these guys were good and better than me. They made the entire band (your business) better and I could focus on being the consummate front man.

I see the same thing in business. They “try” to do their marketing and public relations, but trust me, people like me know a heluva lot more about this than you do – it’s all we do. I see unintegrated programs, poorly written and self centered articles and press releases, websites developed by your cousin Tony’s high school son yet you’re a “high end” retailer. A good agency will save you money, not cost you. A good agency will bring hard work, fresh ideas, creativity and also bring to bear all these nifty tools and expertise not afforded to most businesses – particularly small or medium sized ones. And, if you are an internal marketing and public relations pro, don’t think that hiring outside expertise makes you look bad; rather it’s quite the opposite. A good producer can make a good song great. Bet you can name 20 rock bands (you, the client), and not 20 producers (me, the agency). Count on the experts and let them do their job. It will save you time, money and give you a competitive advantage. If you make widgets, make them great – just let someone else market it.

4. So, You Broke a String During the Song

Remember, it’s only one song of an entire set, an entire show, and possibly even an entire tour. Put things into perspective and refer back to rule #2. Just grab your second guitar or replace the string while you’re drummer does his solo (it’s called a distraction). Rarely will one single instant or tactic that may have to be changed or altered affect the overall outcome.

Also, keep in mind that sometimes hitting the “wrong chord” or playing the “wrong note” can lead to a much better song or outcome. Serendipitous mistakes have made for some of the most memorable songs – “Just Look Over Your Shoulder’s Baby” – was a mistake by Michael Jackson in a Jackson 5 hit. Never be so rigid in your thinking that you believe there can’t be a better way or that a serendipitous mistake can’t make a program as a whole even better. A good marketing professional must have the ability to improvise on the fly – and with the good ones – you’ll never even notice.

5. We’ve Got To Play These Kinds of Places First

One of the most amazing things I see in marketing, particularly in public relations and publicity, is how centric most companies and CEOs see their importance in the marketplace. No matter the size of the company or the arena in which it plays, all too often, I see them act and even expect to be on par with the Microsoft’s, IBM’s, or Procter & Gamble’s of the world. They are amazed that CNN is not interested in devoting 30 minutes to talking about how amazing and brilliant this company or this CEO are – and the fact that they’re not in the paper or on TV is because we simply haven’t called the media. They refuse to do interviews in the Cincinnati Enquirer because they’d rather hold out for USA Today. FastCompany is the only magazine I’ll be interviewed in, they say. I hope that one interview that may never come is a damn good one.

You see, you have to play a lot of dirtball clubs and bars before you get to play Madison Square Garden. I suppose you could rent out MSG (advertising), but who would come anyway? It takes time to build a solid following and also takes time to develop and create programs that will be most attractive to a journalist and media outlet – hard working people that are NOT on MY payroll. Although a good agency would have strong relationships with many journalists and reporters, good reporters have a job to do as well.

A good agency or practitioner can work with an organization or entity and find what is most likely to peak the interest of the media and how they can most likely secure coverage – regularly. Because, one show at a club doesn’t mean you get to play MSG the next night. It takes time, takes consistency, and takes tenacity. You must be able to put yourself and your organization on context and be willing to commit to a longer term program.

6. Good Publicity Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Good Attendance

Trust me. Most of the bands in the Cleveland area were not real big fans of my group because we were so media savvy (they had a great PR guy). We were on the cover of music magazines, newspapers, did live TV and radio interviews and performances, had press kits, did video and photo shoots, saved whales and still found time to throw TVs out of hotel windows – but that didn’t guarantee a packed house. You know what did? Hard work, practice and a heluva show.

In business, nothing is going to make up for a bad experience by the customer. I call it Brand Operational Dissonance (BOD), where the ads and smarmy PR guy say one thing, but the person behind the counter is rude, disinterested or your coffee is cold. Operations and your customer service, and honestly, the expertise of your people or the novelty of your new product is still going to be key. Find good insights. Test and retest with marketing research and secret shoppers in your specific target audience – and remember, you’re mom doesn’t count. If she likes your songs, you’re doing something wrong i.e.: ask your target and don’t be afraid of honesty. Use that information to refine and make your service, your product or you better. This is why good brands are always cautious of what appears in the news media or new media – and are protective of those things. Spin is exactly that. You don’t have to spin a fantastic new restaurant.

7. Passion Can Make Up for Talent

Just ask KISS (Sorry, couldn’t resist throwing that analogy in there). They have never claimed to be great musicians, but they are certainly amazing entertainers and you can feel the love for what they do, witness how hard they work, and experience the passion they have for their fans (your target audience) and their music (their product). They are second only to The Beatles in number of albums certified gold.

I am not the greatest public relations practitioner that ever lived. I’m not the smartest, I’m not the most creative – but I am the hardest working. I have the pleasure of having the best job on earth. I LOVE what I do and, ask my team, it can be sometimes all consuming and often times a challenge for others to keep up. I work late. I work weekends. My mind is always going, looking for other ideas and better ways of going about something. Do I get up at four in the morning to deliver cheeseburgers or flowers or coneys to the news media – yep. Pass out coupons or deliver hot coffee to the homeless in the dead of winter —  you bet. I stuff press kits, lick envelopes, make cold calls and entertain complete strangers at events. I’m not too proud to do anything that has to be done for the good of my clients or the good of the company, and sadly, I don’t see that very often.

This job is a paycheck. I’m too good for that task – it’s not my job. That kind of attitude is a killer in business. Again, people are smart and know when you’re faking it. Not that every program is perfect or every idea a winner, you just have to practice your passion and not be afraid to surround yourself with great people, talented people – if only they would learn how to play with their heart and not their head (refer them to rule #1).

8. Practice

There is no substitute. They say amateurs practice until they get it right, but professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong – it just becomes second nature. I can stand out on stage, play a killer bassline, belt out my song, jump up and down, press the button for the fog machine and point to a “fan” all at the same time without even thinking about it. So, too, must business. You must work with your team over and over and over again. Rehearse your speech, your movements, your key messages, your interviews.

A good agency has, as I’ve mentioned before, been there, done that with so many different programs – we’ve practiced. Marketing is not a good place necessarily for trial and error. During the show is probably not the best time to try out your new flaming guitar trick. Keep things simple and do what you know and do it better than anyone within the context of what you’re trying to do. Should you shred a lead guitar solo during a slow ballad just because you can – clearly not. Understand how you and your expertise fits in to make the whole greater than the individual parts, then work together in the many facets of your organization or your marketing program to create a comprehensive and leveraged program. Need help? Rule #3.

9. What Comes After 4?

One. With marketing and public relations, it is a process that involves upfront research, assessment, strategic communications and implementation, and finally an evaluation. Many of us are familiar with R.A.C.E. Again, if you’re not, refer to Rule #3. But, I’ve always felt this left something out of the equation – Continual Process Improvement. A good business and a good marketer will constantly find ways to make something work better, work smarter and more efficiently. If what you’re doing isn’t working, don’t keep doing it because ‘the plan’ says so. If the strategy is solid, but the tactics are not working as expected, don’t be afraid to improve upon that process if you’ve given enough time for the tactics, or personnel, to do their job.

Constantly measure and evaluate based on set key performance indicators, such as traffic, impressions, sales, leads and a host of other measurable objectives. Use unique URLs to track the efficacy of a given advertisement, direct mail or publicity endeavor. Utilize your tracking services and survey programs with clients and customers – items like surveymonkey and zoomerang have made this process simple and efficient. Set your benchmarks at the beginning, run the program well, evaluate then make it better.

10. Turn it Up!

“If life is a radio, turn it to 10.” Turn it up. Have fun and enjoy what you do and do your best on each program, each event, each time. Look for fresh ideas and never be afraid to get a “no” from a client, a reporter or a sales prospect. If you never give someone a chance to say “no,” they’ll never have an opportunity to say “yes.” Said another way: “It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” Soak things up like a sponge and take time to learn and be positively influenced and impacted by everyone around you. 10 is sometimes analogous to perfect, but understand that rarely will everything be perfect – marketing and public relations is a process and should be treated as such.

The number ‘10’ also makes me think of surveys and research, which are keys at the beginning of a program and also the rule of thumb as to the percentage of your total budget you should spend on research – competitive, demographic, segmented and the like. Doing your due diligence and investing in that research at the beginning of a program will save time, money and a lot of headaches.

11. There is no eleven in music. Unless you play for Spinal Tap. Rock on.

Business Success: The customer is always….

Business Success LogoThe customer is always right. Right? Except for when they’re totally wrong. With people taking to social media in droves to complain about the tiniest perceived slight from a business, what can you do when the customer is just wrong? 

Kelly Riggs, author of “Quit Whining and Start SELLING!” and founder of performance coaching firm Vmax Performance Group, offers some great insights.

(When) Customers Have Issues

Many years ago I was telling my dad about a challenge I was having at work with a particular manager. This boss rarely considered input from his employees and frequently made amazingly poor decisions. After listening to some of my story, my dad said something to me that was quite interesting: “The boss isn’t always right,” he said. “But — he is always the boss.”

Kelly Riggs

Kelly Riggs

Okay. Well, thanks for the support. That’s what I thought at first, anyway, but, as it turns out, he wasn’t actually supporting my boss; instead, he was trying to tell me something important about dealing with people. He was suggesting that you need to respect the boss, even when he or she does things you don’t agree with.
Old school stuff. Respect for authority, that kind of thing.
It is, by the way, good advice. If you don’t respect what the boss does, instead of becoming a problem go somewhere else. (What better way to penalize a bad boss than to take your talent elsewhere?)
Thinking about that story reminded me of a very similar saying that businesspeople should always remember: “The customer isn’t always right, but he (or she) is ALWAYS the customer.” Same idea as above; same take-away. If your customer has a problem, he or she may not be right, but it still makes good business sense to respect the customer.
First, delighted customers are the best marketing money can buy. Second, dissatisfied customers can be more destructive that just about anything (just look at all the websites devoted to trashing companies that treat customers poorly). Third, a customer’s value to your business is usually measured over a lifetime, not a single purchase. Unless it is unprofitable to do business with the customer, it makes (dollars and) sense to deal patiently with customers who have issues.
The stark reality is that almost all customers have issues. Some issues are big, some are small. Some are easily resolved, some are chronic. Some issues are imagined, others are the real deal. Regardless of the size and scope of the issue, business owners and managers, and their sales and staff members, should be diligent in resolving issues – real or imagined. Why? Because the customer may not necessarily be right, but he/she can certainly influence the decisions of a whole lot of other potential customers.

Tips on Dealing with Customer Issues

In my experience, one of the traits that seems to appear consistently among top businesspeople is their ability to effectively handle customer issues. In fact, top businesspeople just seem to know how to parlay customer issues into additional business, new opportunities, and qualified referrals. While some seem to do it quite naturally, I have found that in most cases it’s simply a matter of learning a few key skills and looking at each issue as an opportunity to impress the customer.
The question is how do they do it? What exactly are they doing to negotiate through or around these issues?
One critical idea to consider very simple, but widely abused. Some people tend to throw other departments under the bus when things go wrong. “I don’t know what those guys in shipping are doing,” they might say. Or, “Our accounting department is clueless.” Stuff like that. The idea is to deflect blame and be the “good guy.” However, by blaming others, that staff member is sending a very clear message: I don’t take responsibility for problems, and I am willing to blame anyone else at any time.
This not only erodes your integrity, but it will eventually destroy your credibility.
Some quick tips:
1. Take responsibility for the issue personally (regardless of the cause)
2. Avoid assumptions – get a clear definition of the problem from the customer
3. Make sure the customer’s assumptions are valid
4. Be positive and amiable – even in disagreement
5. Learn everything you can this time, so you can proactively avoid the same issue next time.