Part 2 of 3 part series – ‘The Unsaid’
Blocking ‘Negative Speak’ In Business Is A ‘Natural-Born Business Killer’
Do we block ‘negative speak?’
by Gaye Crispin
I have no argument I wish to take up here with the positive thinking, positive speaking, positive dreaming/visualising teachers and followers. But! There does need to be an intelligent line drawn in the sand when it comes to our own particular personal development theories – and our business planning, development and management strategies.
Last week I had an astounding conversation with a business owner who needed my debt collection services urgently. I was amazed to discover he’d actually been trying to ‘positively speak’ and ‘visualise’ the money coming in. His business has problems. Big problems. And they’re multiplying like rabbits. Am I surprised? No.
Not wanting to hear or acknowledge something ‘unpleasant’ about our business, or staff is quite natural. But going that extra step and rejecting it outright as ‘negative speak’ without even bothering to analyse its validity is probably the single most dangerous business mindset we could ever have in business, and is actually a Natural-Born Business-Killer.
It’s also very immature, much akin to a child who puts their fingers in their ears while repeating tra-la-la-la-la so they can’t hear what’s being said to them, or about them.
In business it’s essential to at least pretend to be adult. And part of being an adult is accepting responsibility for consequences. People speaking positively about our business is something we can easily acknowledge has good consequences for our business.
Similarly, people speaking negatively about us or our business has consequences too, except these we don’t want. This is why it’s so important to know asap what negative things are being said, unearth why it’s being said, and fix it. Who knows? Perhaps it’s the result of a simple misunderstanding.
One outstanding customer satisfaction policy of a very successful company I work with is this: ‘Never let the sun go down on their wrath.” Most would recognise this is a clever little adaption of a bible saying and life principle.
The very successful Founder and CEO of this global business drafted a customer complaints policy right at the start up phase of his then very small business. That was over 20 years ago. He had his staff sign an agreement that stated he MUST ALWAYS be CC’d in on any, and all, customer complaints immediately.
And that he MUST be kept in the loop of all communications in relation to its progress and resolution. And that the complaint MUST be resolved ‘to the customers satisfaction’ by close of business that day – or off with somebody’s head.
This CEO is today a self-made multi-multi-multi millionaire, and yet despite his success he is as diligent today in relation to maintaining this policy as he was 20 years ago. And that’s despite the fact that he has some 200+ staff who could easily deal with monitoring complaints. This is person who lives by the motto – Take Responsibility. Interestingly, I’ve never seen any negative feedback in the market place in relation to this group.
It’s in our own best interests to always gain a full appreciation and understanding of what may have happened to create a negative outcome for our staff, customers, prospects or clients as a result of dealing with us. Only then can we put effective systems in place to reduce the possibility of a repetition, and this can even improve our product or service delivery at the same time.
Being on the ball in relation to customer satisfaction can be a simple matter of enquiring with customers who return time-after-time if they can think of any ways we could improve their experience with our organisation, and how.
Then there are our former customers, clients or members. When was the last time we made contact with them to enquire as to why they no longer use our product or service. Sometimes it just takes one call to resolve a misunderstanding, win the business back, and/or plug a growing leak. It’s important to accept that people who don’t re-purchase, renew or return usually have a useful story to tell which sometimes isn’t pleasant to hear.
But just because we don’t like to hear something negative about our business, that doesn’t mean it’s better for our business not to know. The fact is this – that particular phone call to enquire why somebody is no longer using our services (if we’re courageous enough to make it) may just be the most productive, valuable, and healthy business conversation we’ve had in a while.
I’m a great believer in the power of the survey. I’ve learned after 30 years in business that both positive and negative feedback completes an essential early warning system loop which alerts us to oncoming problems and even sudden changes in the market place. This can mean the difference between business success and failure. We need to be actively seeking regular feedback to stay fresh, healthy and competitive in a market place that never sleeps.
Liking what we hear when seeking feedback is not the point. What’s relevant is that we’re taking control of the information flow, we’re keeping ourselves in the know, and we have our finger on the pulse of our business. It’s that type of pro-activity that’ll give our business a distinct edge over so much of the competition.
Questions to ask ourselves as we enter a new business year.
If we aren’t seeking regular feedback from our past and present customers, prospects, clients and staff, why aren’t we?
What are the particular customer satisfaction guidelines and policies for our business, and can they be improved?
Let’s not run our business hearing impaired. If it’s said and we don’t hear it, we’re deaf.
Copyright Gaye Crispin 2011
Gaye Crispin is a sales and marketing trainer, artist and writer. By the time Gaye was 25 years old she already owned 3 businesses, including a restaurant and a Solace Window Tinting Franchise.
In 1988 Gaye established a large telemarketing organization in Sydney, which was the first of its kind to market residential investment property to interstate investors over the phone. Her system was so successful and cost-effective that it quickly became the standard throughout the industry, and is still in use today.
She has successfully designed and implemented sales and marketing systems for motor vehicle accessories, art, skin care, health food, advertising, insolvency services, credit management systems, seminars and investment products.
Gaye has a debt collection and credit management agency, and is also the founder of Women On Top Business Planning, a group of individually successful business women who are passionate about helping business owners write powerful business or action plans for their business.