Monday Mornings with Madison

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May 2013

It’s Showtime – Part 2

Once again, you or your company is sending a team to attend the biggest trade show or conference of the year. The top salespeople have been approved to attend. A lot of pre-planning was done to ensure that the company’s investment in sending a team to the show will generate a great return. After all, management will want to know after the show if the money spent was worthwhile. It is important to ensure that attendance at any trade show generates a solid return.
Preparing in advance is the first step. Everyone on the team needs to understand the goals for the conference and that the conference experience should improves business and enhance the bottom line. Here are practical tips for staff to get the most out of every trade show or conference attended. Continue reading

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It’s Showtime… Almost!

Every serious profession in the world has a multitude of trade shows and conferences catering to the sales, marketing, networking and professional development of its members. While there are always local, regional and state shows, each national trade association has one monster annual show that is not to be missed.

Trade shows and conferences serve a multitude of purposes. They facilitate sales and sales pitches from a wide variety of vendors and businesses. Potential buyers can shop around while vendors get to show off what they have to offer. Attendees are also able to interact with many vendors of products and services in one concentrated location. Vendors also benefit from being in a place with so many potential customers. They have the opportunity to see what their competitors are doing, and if they are being successful at it. They can also gauge if new market trends are worth following. A business can create a new image or reinforce an existing brand. It also provides an excellent opportunity for vendors and attendees alike to gain new knowledge by receiving tips, tools, and strategies. For start-ups, trade shows and conferences are an excellent way for the business to make themselves known and for their leadership to learn more about the industry. Conference attendees are also able to attend a multitude of seminars and roundtables to help sharpen the saw.

That said, it is not enough to just show up at the show and soak up the ambiance in a scattered, haphazard way. To get the most from a conference or trade show, it is important to prepare for the show well and then leverage every opportunity once there. While it is usually clear what a vendor must do to prepare for a show, it may not be so obvious as to what an attendee should do to prepare for an important show Continue reading

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Six-Star Service – Part 2

When it comes to service, customers can easily distinguish poor service from good service. Poor service is when a customer is forced to wait 20 minutes in a long line to pay for goods or services at store. Good service is when the store manager directs staff to open as many registers as needed to ensure no customer waits more than three to five minutes to pay for a purchase. Poor service is when an auto service center quotes that it will take two hours to change the brakes on a car but actually takes four hours to complete the job. Good service is when the service center’s manager admits up front that it is going take three to four hours to complete the job and offers other appointment times that would minimize the customer’s wait time. The difference between bad service and good is as obvious as night and day.

Distinguishing good service from great service is a different story. Most people consider five-star service the benchmark of great service…. “as good as it gets”. However, that is not the case. Some companies have raised the bar even further on the concept of excellent customer service. It is called six-star service. What exactly constitutes six-star service? Does it make sense for a company to want to raise the bar even higher on customer service if is already delivering very good service? Is it even possible to consistently deliver six-star service? Continue reading

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Six-Star Service

Delivering consistently high-quality service to customers is the biggest challenge for many businesses. Some industries are rife with customer service complaints. In fact, in some industries, certain company names have become synonymous with bad service. For example, recently, USA Today published a list of nine retailers delivering the worst customer service. The ranking (March, 2013) was based on the American Consumer Satisfaction Index (which measures customer satisfaction with retailers). Companies that scored the worst in customer satisfaction included Safeway (which has been at the bottom of the ASCI data for 10 years in a row), Walgreens, Netflix, TJX (which owns TJ Maxx, Home Goods and Marshalls), The Gap, Sears, CVS, Supervalu and Walmart. Of course, retailers are not alone in the struggle to delivery consistently good service. The travel industry — including airlines, cruise ships and hotel chains – also regularly makes the news for its flagrant disregard for its customer’s needs.

That said, there is evidence that companies in every industry are striving to improve their service. In fact, according to the ASCI data, customer satisfaction with retailers is at an all-time high. Some companies even claim that what sets them apart from their competitors is their superior customer service. In the hospitality and travel industries, among others, they’ve adopted a star system to denote quality and service. Five stars has been considered ‘the best’, until recently an even higher level of service was denoted. So what separates bad customer service from good, and dare we say, even great service? And what is six-star service? More importantly, how does a company go about raising the bar and setting a new benchmark for its customer service? Continue reading

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