Archive for ‘Taking Action’

June 3, 2014

Life’s Good? We’ll Have to See…

I’m undergoing a customer experience with LG Electronics, which you might know has as their advertising slogan “Life’s Good”. At the moment, I can definitely say life is NOT good (as it relates to LG), but the final word has not yet been heard.

This surrounds an LG refrigerator I purchased last year. Further disclosure, I have bought other LG products like digital TVs and smartphones, and have been happy with those devices. Until last year, however, I had never thought of trying LG for refrigeration. But the product we bought had the features we wanted without the features we didn’t want, and it fit into the space we were working with.

Almost 13 months from the purchase date, the LG fridge died just before the Memorial Day weekend. The warranty was for 12 months, so you can imagine my first reaction when it happened. Fortunately, LG Customer Service was good enough to extend my warranty for an additional 30 days to cover the repair. And that’s when the ride got bumpy.

Because of the holiday weekend, we couldn’t get anyone in until 3 days later, when the repair guy from the “LG authorized service center” said the compressor was bad. They would have to order it, and it’ll take 3 or 4 days to come in, he said, but they’d try to put a rush on it. We groaned; it was looking like we would be 10 days without a fridge. But, what can you do. Little did we know that 10 days would have been great.

A week later, I called the service center, a local 3rd party company, to check the status of our part. The parts lady told me that it was backordered, and would not be available for shipment until June 17. My reaction to that was much more than a groan, and will not be repeated here. With that schedule, we’d be out of a fridge for almost one month!

But she suggested I call LG directly to try to expedite the part, and that’s when the fun really started.

Yesterday, I collectively spent almost 2 hours on the phone talking to several different LG customer service reps, talking to the parts lady at the local service company, and being on hold for interminable periods of time. The first time, I found myself in the middle of an argument between the LG rep and the parts lady at the service company. The parts lady said she was told by LG the part is backordered and won’t ship until June 17. The LG rep said she was told by LG that the part is in stock and ready to ship.

Both were convinced they were right. Where did that leave me? Extremely frustrated, and still without the prospect of restoring my refrigeration.

When I asked for an LG supervisor, I was given an extension number to ask for help. I tried later in the afternoon, and first had to repeat part of the story (despite LG having notes in my case file), because “I need to tell them why I’m transferring you”. I was transferred, was on hold for 20 minutes listening to the same annoying message, then hung up to try again. Tried again, and when they transferred me, got cut off. Tried again, asked the agent to try getting the extension before transferring me, and she came back and said because no one was answering, she’d “have to let me go”.

What does that mean, she’s firing me as a customer?

Gave it another try, and after a shorter wait, finally got someone in the group I was looking for. This last person, a supervisor, was much nicer and much more responsive, but even she accidentally disconnected me too, leaving me to wonder if this was some kind of conspiracy. (Actually, it just frustrated me all the more.)

Fortunately the supervisor called me back, and we’ve proceeded from there. They’re trying to decide what to do to fix my situation, so I’ll just have to see what they say.

Why am I writing about this? Here’s the main point … throughout all this, I just wanted “to be the customer”. And as an LG customer, I just wanted to know someone cared, to be helped with my problem, and to have my refrigeration restored.

I did not want, or sign up, to learn how LG’s distribution channels communicate, which number their service centers are supposed to call for parts, or what they’re supposed to do before they transfer my call (or cut me off). Nor did I want to listen to the service center tell me that the LG rep “doesn’t know what she’s talking about.” Nor did I sign up to call back repeatedly after being disconnected or left on hold for the black hole. And I certainly did not want almost 2 hours of my day taken up navigating that phone journey. I have enough of my own work to do.

So in your businesses, when you troubleshoot your customers’ problems or issues, just remember that all they want to do is be your customer. They want to know that your products and services bring them satisfaction and even joy, but if they do run into a problem, you’ll be there to help them. And that you won’t bother them will all the details that don’t concern them, and don’t get them any closer to a solution.

As for my situation with LG, I hope there’s a satisfactory ending. At the height of my frustration, I exclaimed to one poor LG rep, “You know what, right now you guys are not LG. You’re LNG — Life’s NOT Good!”

I just want to be the customer … and maybe be able to have a frosty cold beverage waiting for me in the fridge at last.

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April 24, 2014

No Guessing

The other day I called a company that is the support group for an online system I have to use as part of a client project. I was referred to a specific person in one department, and when I asked for that person, found that she was on vacation for the week. The woman who answered the phone, however, wanted to be helpful.

“Perhaps I can help you,” she offered. So I started to outline the question that I had, related to what inputs the system was expecting. I had already used the system for a while; I just had a specific question about one type of operation.

The woman on the phone, though she was trying to help, started stumbling through an answer, and ended up telling me something very elementary that wasn’t even the point of my question. As politely as I could, I observed that perhaps this is something on which I needed to speak directly with the other contact who was on vacation. This person’s reply to that:

“Oh, probably. I haven’t been trained on this system yet, anyway.”

Well, then why didn’t she say so from the get-go? Why take a bunch of guesses, make herself look like she didn’t know anything, and waste my time?

No guessing. If you don’t know something you’re asked, just say so, and refer the questioner to someone else, or get back to them when you do know. No one has a problem with that.

March 19, 2014

Just Take Action

Even though it’s my mantra, and I regularly remind business and coaching clients to “take action” (after proper consideration of course), I still am struck by the difference in the feeling of taking action versus waiting with indecision.

I’ve recently been grappling with a problem in one of my businesses, where a change in the look of an ad didn’t seem to be working out. Yet, the ad was not necessarily the only factor involved here; there were other dynamics that could also be affecting the outcomes. So I waffled … do I give it a chance? Or am I digging myself deeper in a hole by giving it a chance?

Early this morning, after considering the overall situation, my partner and I decided to ditch the new look and return to the previous one. That alone might not fix the issues, but we felt that there were problems with the new look that needed to be fixed anyway.

What a difference the decision made! I felt so much better for the rest of the day, because I knew I was taking action, not waiting nervously. The nervousness I’d been feeling the past few days seem to have melted, at least for now.

Sometimes, you have to think it through, and just take action. You’d be surprised at how much better it can make you feel.

January 2, 2014

A New Year, Dive In

Happy New Year! I hope your holiday celebrations were both joyous and fulfilling. On this second day of the new year, I have one request of you …

Pick one thing that you wanted to get done in 2013, and start off 2014 by getting that one thing done. I don’t care how small it is, though it probably shouldn’t be too large, either, or else you might get sidetracked again. Pick something manageable that you procrastinated through the end of 2013, and get it done during the early days of 2014. And feel good about it afterward.

Cheers to making this year an awesome one!

November 19, 2013

5 Minutes Instead of Checking Email

Instead of checking email yet again, why not spend 5 minutes doing something else, perhaps something more refreshing or energizing? In a recent article posted on the FastCompany website, Laura Vanderkam offers 17 possible suggestions.

What do you think? Any of those sound good to you?

November 14, 2013

8 Things You Need Before the Start

In business, the hardest thing is the start. And there are often factors that prevent us from launching successfully, or that create distractions after we launch. On my other blog, The Second Boom, I wrote about 8 things Boomers need to have in place before they consider starting a business, but those 8 things are not restricted to just Boomers. Jump over to that post and tell me if you’re thinking of those 8 things:

Do you have these 8 things in place?

Where do you stand in regards to these 8 things?

September 24, 2013

Making the Technology Habit Work for You

Sometimes it seems we’re wedded to our technology toys. Before you know it, it takes away from the productive things you could be doing about your business or your career. However, unlike what some might preach, we can’t just leave our toys either, because there are useful purposes for them.

A recent article on the Fast Company website entitled 4 Ways to Cure Your Technological Distraction Addiction gives 4 tips on how to make technology our friend (enhance productivity) instead of our enemy (create distractions).

So here’s my question for you … do you think we can get people to stop tweeting pictures of their dinner entrees, any time soon?

September 5, 2013

Objection, Your Honor!

In courtroom dramas, we see opposing attorneys object to things, and the judge settles it with a “Sustained” or “Overruled”. In life, it’s not such a convenient situation when someone objects to what we’re saying or proposing, whether it’s in a business or a non-business setting.

This article on the American Management Association website offers tips on how to deal with objections. The author offers 4 steps to keep in mind: clarify, acknowledge, respond, and confirm.

How do you deal with objections?

August 13, 2013

Lesson from BlackBerry

BlackBerry, once the dominant market leader in smartphones, just released the news that it is looking at the possibility of selling all or part of the company. They practically created the smartphone device market, and had a stranglehold on the corporate device segment. Now, they’re in danger of becoming irrelevant, despite adding singer Alicia Keys to its Creative Design group.

The reasons for BlackBerry’s dramatic fall are being debated. And you might say that this has nothing to do with any of us because BlackBerry is a large public company. But as small business owners we can learn something from this.

One of the reasons BlackBerry is in the situation it’s in is because it didn’t react to changes in its marketplace, as new devices emerged with full size touchscreen displays and “soft” keyboards (think iPhone). It seems that the BlackBerry guys felt that their customers would continue to prefer BlackBerry’s physical-keyboard devices. With such a large market lead, they started to believe they were invincible.

The same thing can happen to a small business. Its customers could be singing praises, and the business owner feels he or she owns the market. Things change, but the owner’s not listening, because of the previous adoration. Then the company fades, and this is one story that doesn’t make the press.

Remember, it doesn’t matter what you think about how good you are. It only matters what your customers think.

July 17, 2013

Don’t Get It Backwards

One of the common mistakes aspiring entrepreneurs make is to come up with a product idea before they figure out who to sell it to. They fall in love with some concept they’ve been thinking about, perhaps to solve a problem they personally have. Then they create a product to address that problem, and maybe even come up with a good solution for it.

But if very few other people have that same problem, the potential market won’t be very large. The entrepreneur could experience what I call “terminal success”: achieving 100% market share after 10 sales. You’re awesome if you reach 100% market share, but if your market consists of only 10 possible sales, you’re sunk.

Don’t get it backwards. Focus on finding a potential problem to solve, figure out if it’s a big enough market, then create a product to address it. It’s way cheaper to change your focus before you build a product, then to build a product first and find out the market’s too small.