High Point Market. What do those three words mean to you? For a guy who has headed to the Triad for 18 years, I feel I have enough perspective marinating in my soul to the extent that I can accurately offer my take on it and how it got me thinking about intentional service.
I’m not just saying this, but the market experience has gotten a lot better over the years. It is run professionally and with more intentional service and focus on the attendees. I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’m in a hotel while at market. I feel like – and I can’t believe I’m going to actually say this – that I’m an invited guest and that anyone wearing a Market Authority badge is there to help to make my day a little better. Bravo IMC! What a comeback.
I’m not going to fashion a diatribe about the experience outside the proverbial walls of market. It doesn’t really matter. But it does shine a light on the dichotomy of levels of intentional service in a given area. High Point is a sleepy little town most of the year. I’ve been there in the off-season, and I’m here to tell you it’s probable to walk across Main St. blindfolded and arrive A-OK on the other side. Riddle me this though, why is it that a substantial corporation like IMC, with so many moving pieces that must align with the sun and the moon, can come together in perfect harmony with the calendar as a murder of furniture people descend into its protective shell in seemingly perfect harmony can absolutely crush the experience mod on what I would consider a high level?
Perspective is no accident. It’s a close cousin to mindset, and mindset leads to intent, and intent closes the circle of culture. If you’ve read any of my stuff in the past, you know I’m an old Ashley Homestore guy from years ago. At the end of every meeting, Ron or Todd Wanek would end it by saying, “let’s kick some ass,” and I would always smile. Todd ended his speech at the Hall of Fame event that very way. My smile was because it made me warm inside. It made me feel like I was with a winning organization with perspective. You can’t just want to fill in the blank. Wanting something is akin to whining about something. My kid wants a Mickey Mouse (registered trademark sign here) balloon. My wife wants another purse. I want six-pack abs. Speaking for myself, I want the abs, but I’m not intent on having them, or I’d have them. I mean, they’re in there somewhere… but that’s an article for another blog. In the end, you have to be intent on whatever it is that you desire.
I’m hearing retailers say that they can’t find people to work. The service they are offering is not what they WANT because of the shortage of people. As a rep, I have to pick my words carefully in response, which ain’t easy for a guy like me. I once heard a retailer tell me that “well, we’re not very good at…” as an excuse not to improve and not drive behavior they would like to achieve. I was floored. Who is in charge anyway?
Using the current abnormalities in the labor climate to shrug off any commitment you may have had to passionately and flawlessly provide an exceptional customer experience from top to bottom is weak. I know it’s easy to say from my vantage point, but leadership ain’t easy. Running a brigade of loyal soldiers ain’t easy, and no one promised it would be. There is an African proverb that says, “Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.” Perhaps it’s time to charge forth into angry seas like George Clooney on the Andrea Gale and take a stand.
Is the experience you are offering your customers and employees truly your very best?
If the answer is yes, thanks for reading. If this question compelled you to look inside yourself with a shade of doubt, then here are some suggestions from my soapbox.
- What are you doing to your customers? Map out what your customer journey is right now; today.
- Map out what you want your customer journey to look like. If you met a customer of yours in line at the grocery store, would you be nervous about introducing yourself?
- Check those reviews. Are you proud of them, and are they authentic? Do you spiff or reward employees for asking for good reviews? Don’t game the system. Own your honest reviews.
- No one is perfect. From imperfection comes growth. Make a list of what you want to improve, prioritize those things, and execute.
- Do the math. What would a 10% customer retention rate do for your bottom line?
- Harken back to the mission and live it or change it. Stand for something.
- Seek out honest feedback and take action on each nugget of information.
- Be as real-time as you can and solve your customer problems immediately.
- Repeat until you see a smile.
Honestly, you can do nothing about logistics, and getting mad about late containers and slow shipping only leads to high blood pressure and undue stress. Take this time to work on the soft skills within your business, apply this to your employee experience, intentional service, and watch productivity skyrocket. You can kick ass in many areas if you have the perspective to be intent on it.