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What Was “Old, Stale, and so 1990s” Is New Again!

Submitted by Skip Henk, EDP, President/CEO of Xplor International
February 24, 2015

The roar from our members had finally reached a crescendo that it was time to do something. I find Inaction under the guise of “not enough time” could no longer be an excuse.

And so it goes for www.xplor.org

The “Ah-hah” Moment

Over the last two years I have received comments about our website. Comments such as: “The site looks old”, “you need to be mobile friendly”, “stale”, “so 1990’s” to name just a few. BUT we were busy, did not have enough time and really could not deal with it at the time. (A bit short sighted)

The “ah-hah” moment came when one of our members called me and flat out told me she was frustrated with the site and would not recommend any of her colleagues or friends to visit the site.

That simple phone call hit home. When your own member would not recommend your site your credibility is called into play and the logical assumption is you are not acting in the best interest of your members, whether intentional or not.

“For every customer who bothers to complain, 26 other customers remain silent.” Source: White House Office of Consumer Affairs”

Your Website Is the Face of Your Company

A company website is many times the “first impression” one will have of your company. Since many people opt first to go to a company website to get information your website design needs to meet their needs. (Not yours) If the design of your website is unappealing, information is not readily available or hard to find, you most likely will lose a potential customer (or member).

• According to business2business community: (46%) of people say a website’s design is their number one criterion for determining the credibility of a company.

• “94% of people cited web design as the reason they mistrusted or rejected a website.” – ironpaper.com

Getting it Done

Like any project you have to commit, come up with a plan, allocate resources and execute. An organization must also realize its limitations and sometimes look outside for a solution.

That is what we did. We committed and incorporated outside resources into the plan. Turning things over is a difficult thing for most organizations but looking back me getting out of the way was the best thing that could have happened.

Our Marketing Coordinator was tasked with getting it done. He worked with Deborah Corn of Print Media Center, who coordinated the project with our web designer, Elementary Digital.

A Statement of Work was created, reviewed and agreed to. Work began and as much as I would like to take you through the process, I received occasional updates and assurances things were going well, and continued to stay off to the side.

The site was launched last week, they still are doing a bit of tweaking, but I feel Xplor has arrived and our “face” to the industry is new, fresh, intuitive and serves our membership.

Things to Think About

• Listen to your customers, they know what they want (and what they don’t)
• No excuses, short-term savings equals long term loss. Commit.
• Get people involved that do it for a living, you don’t have to do it all
• Spend time on the Statement of Work. What the end product will be.
• Do your homework, there are a lot of web designers. They are not all created equal.
• Do it … and enjoy the results

Your plan needs to be forward thinking and include not only viewing on a PC but tablets and mobile devices.

“Only 22% of marketers say they’re ahead of the curve when it comes to responsive design. 29% say they have “average” experience level, 23% say they’re behind the times, and 4% say they’re hopeless. (Source: eMarketer)”

Special Thanks to Deborah Corn at PrintMediaCentr, Andy Holland of Elementary Digital, and Chad Henk of Xplor for making what was old, new again.

And a big thank you to you for stopping by! We would love to hear your comments on the new site! Sound away!

Make Your Next Tradeshow An Event!

Are You Excited About Print13?  You Need To Be!

You book a flight, a hotel room and make sure you register for the free exhibit hall pass. You even sign up for a few conference sessions.  Where are you going?  To a tradeshow!

If you are in your mid-20’s you are absolutely pumped. A trip out of town, a few days away, most likely to a new city, all expenses paid. It doesn’t get any better than this. If you have been around the industry for 20+ years, you are either truly excited or saying “oh, boy another trade show,” with a great deal of sarcasm in your voice. Young or old if you are not excited get out of the industry and go do something else.

Two Types of Tradeshow People

Primarily there are two types of tradeshow people: the buyers and the sellers. Buyers attend to look at new products and services, get a little education and expand their network. Sellers attend to show the buyers their products, share their knowledge and hopefully become part of their network. The buyer/seller relationship can and should be a beautiful thing.

Young or Old Tradeshows Present a Unique Opportunity

I have been attending tradeshows for over 35 years and I still get excited going to one. Why, because I MAKE IT an event. I plan for it, I set expectations and I make sure my investment in time and money will pay big dividends and you should be doing the same thing too.

If you are a buyer tradeshows are a great opportunity to visit with a lot of vendors without being “overwhelmed” shall we say. My suggestion is to:

Put together a show plan:

• Write a list of any technology that your company is considering and cross check it with the exhibiting vendors on the tradeshow website. Do your homework on the vendor companies and visit their booths. Do some preliminary qualification.

• Allow blocks of time for “new stuff”. Large tradeshows are a mecca for new product announcements of products you may not be aware of. Make sure you look on the event website, onsite publications etc. for new technology announcements. The more you know, the better you can stay on the leading edge.

• Look at the available conference sessions. Pick a few that would expand your knowledge base and make you more valuable to your customers and company.

• Get on your social network and find out who is attending and meet up.

Work the plan and plan to work!

As a seller, where else can you hook up with dozens of customers and prospects without flying city to city going through security, eating airport food and getting back home grumpy and tired. Tradeshows can be a sales bonanza IF YOU PLAN!

• Contact ALL of your customers and prospects to see if they plan to attend. If you can, offer them free exhibit passes, an invitation to a company event, etc.  Even if they do not plan to attend they know you were thinking of them. It is a point of contact!

• Schedule appointments with your customers and prospects. If you have a booth, take them through the latest product announcements and/or new features.

• Check out your competition. (Get some free tchotchkes )

• Allow blocks of time to walk the floor and look at “new stuff” in your product category. The more you know, the better you can stay on the leading edge.

• Look at the conference sessions. Pick a few that would expand your knowledge base and make you more valuable to your customers and company. Learn a couple “techie” phrases. Goes a long way.

• Get on your social network and find out who is attending and meet up.

Work the plan and plan to work

Whether a buyer or seller expand and share your knowledge, meet new people and have fun. It should be.

My next tradeshow is PRINT 13 in Chicago September 8-12. Let me know if you will be there. We can hook up.

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Love Them or Hate Them, They Can Make or Break Your Business

Over the last several weeks I seem to have run into a barrage of good and bad customer service experiences. One, being a personal experience and a couple other examples involving an airline and a toy company.

(This kind of sounds like the making of a good joke: Once upon a time there was a digital document guy, a baggage handler and a toy maker. I digress, sorry)

Being a Customer Service Representative has to be one of the most difficult jobs that there is. No one calls to say “everything is great” and CSR’s have guidelines that they have to stick to. But can those across the board guidelines, hurt your company.

I am going to make these brief and change the names of the companies to protect their identities.

The Digital Document Guy …. I ordered a PC from SamsClubski’s. Received notification that the order was processed, then cancelled. After spending an hour on the phone, the customer service rep (and supervisor) said there was nothing she could do, as I got one digit wrong on my credit card and it had been more than three hours. The order was cancelled. BUT I could re-order at the higher price if I like. Thanks. (BAD CUSTOMER SERVICE)

Got ticked off, cancelled the order and bought a PC from BestBuy for $150 more. Got angrier, called back and spent 20 minutes trying to get an address to send a letter, vowing never to order from SamsClubski’s again. Sent a letter, received a call from a VP at headquarters and promptly had a credit issued for the difference of what I paid at BestBuy and the sale price at SamsClubski’s.  (GOOD RECOVERY) I may buy from there again.

The Baggage Handler …. Guy is travelling with his $10,000 1965 Gibson ES-335 vintage guitar. He asked Deltoids Airline to carry the guitar on the plane but was denied. After landing in Detroit, the case carrying his guitar became lodged between the mobile service elevator and a rail on the loading dock. The guitar was smashed and sustained almost $2000 in damage. Airline offered him $1000, which her refused, Yahoo published the story, Deltoids apologized and they paid the $2000 to fix the guitar and gave him two free airline tickets. (Isn’t that what they did for the Triumph passengers?) (BAD CUSTOMER SERVICE)

Meanwhile, Gibson contacted the guitar owner, offering repairs on the damaged 1965 ES-335 as well as a brand-new 50th anniversary reissue of a 1963 Gibson ES-335, free of charge. (GREAT CUSTOMER SERVICE)

The ToyMaker:  A 7 year old boy does not listen to his father and takes his new Gego toy to the store and loses it. The little boy was so upset about the loss of his new toy that he decided to write a letter to the company explaining his misfortune. (The letter and reply from Gego are worth a read for any parent: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/09/luka-apps_n_2434781.html

The 7-year-old was shocked when a reply letter came in the mail offering not only to replace the toy but extra goodies for being honest. (GREAT CUSTOMER SERVICE)

The moral of the story ….

Customer Service IS the face of your company. They drive your corporate culture and are the front line to your customers. Sometimes customer service reps have to work by guidelines and rules but maybe those rules are a bit ridiculous. (Remember, “it has been more than three hours and we can’t change your order.”)

Some companies rise above it. I can’t imagine Gibson had a rule to fix a guitar and send a second one for free. Or Lego (oops that slipped) sending the lost toy for free along with additional goodies.

These companies obviously empower their people and allow them to humanize their interaction. The cost to these companies was minimal for securing two customers for life. PLUS Gibson and Lego received a great amount of good publicity as the stories were reported. (Deltoids not so much).

My advice, empower your people to do the right things and set the rule book aside when you should.

Any interesting Customer Service stories?