Lifetime Value – Humbug!

Contracts were once sealed with a handshake.  People looked you in the eye and when they said something they meant it.  If they said they would put you in touch with another person, they did so and they did it promptly.  If they were to deliver you goods and services, they did it on time, for the money they said and with a smile.  They were interested in earning your trust and your business for the long term – these people understood the lifetime value of dealing with you as a customer.  They knew that word of mouth was the best possible marketing they could have.  Before there was Yelp and all of these other recommendation services that we have today, their was just good old word of mouth.

What the hell has happened to lifetime value and companies that actually do it in a meaningful way?  Apple does it, Amazon does it, many a local retailer does it.  But what about all of the other critical to your life – your bank, your insurance company, utility companies, cable companies, in-home service providers; the list is endless.  When was the last time you got off the phone with a customer service rep and said “Wow, that was a great experience, I cannot wait to tell someone about it”.  It just does not happen.

Here are two recent examples that I can provide that are just pathetic.  A friend of mine had a small accident.  She had been a customer of said insurance company for 15+ years.  When they checked her record they found that her premium was overdo.  They immediately cancelled the policy and wanted to charge her over $1,000 to re-instate the policy.  Well paying and profitable customer for 15 years and they want to charge her to re-instate the policy.  After many calls and complaints, she finally found someone that was empowered and could make the right decision.  The issue here of course is that she had to invest considerable time, energy and frustration to even find the person at the company who could do something about it.

More recently my own auto insurance company tries the following.  I was one day late on my November payment; all other payments had been made on time and I have been a customer of theirs for two years.  Last night I received a cancellation notice including a $25 cancellation fee stating that if I did not pay the next installment on time the policy would be cancelled.  What are the chances that I would even recommend this company to anyone?  Answer – ZERO!

I don’t know about you but when I tell someone I am going to do something I do it.  Over the last couple of weeks, I have received specific commitments from individuals to set up meetings with other individuals at their companies or to respond to a business proposal.  They said “I will set up a meeting on Thursday” or “I will get back to you on Monday”.  Guess what, it is now two weeks later and after multiple e-mails, phone calls and text messages, do you think I have heard from these people? NOPE!

What on earth is so hard in this connected society to just send a quick message and say “Change of plans, the meeting cannot happen until this date” or “I am sorry, we cannot proceed at this time”.  What ever happened to living up to your own personal commitments?  Doing what you say you are going to do?  Taking responsibility?  When did the basic principles  of relating to other people change?  Although we live in a “Me” society today, the “Me’s” have lost most of the basic relationship and customer service etiquette that the “We’s” expect.

Not good at all.

Please let me know what types of customer experiences you have had recently.  Share them in your comments.  I am hopeful that you have good and bad examples.

Enjoy the day.

Webman

Advertisements

Take Five!

Newspapers were once the primary source of information for us.  We would regularly walk to the store to pick up the daily paper to learn how our favorite teams were dong, what was happening in the world, the local community, business, arts, leisure and all other categories that continue to be covered by the newspapers today.  Newspapers were at the center of our information world and they were raking in the cash from two primary revenue streams – subscribers and advertisers.

What a difference a few years make.  In 2005, the newspaper industry had $49.5 billion in advertising revenue.  In 2010 the number was $25.8 billion, 50% of 2005. http://www.naa.org/Trends-and-Numbers/Advertising-Expenditures/Annual-All-Categories.aspx  Many newspapers have closed, local coverage has been disbanded, other sources are now used for content.  The most prominent newspapers continue to try new business integrated print and digital business strategies to slow the decline and survive.  An old business model that has been completely disrupted by competitors that were not even considered competitors just a few years ago.

One of the best attributes of leafing through a newspaper was exposure to new and interesting topics that were not on your radar screen.  If you were like me, I first read the sports section and moved on to business, world and local news.  But before I passed the newspaper on I would go through the entire paper on time, many times “stumbling upon” other interesting articles in science, architecture, technology or other topics that I was less familiar with.

In today’s “sound bite” society, we can quickly peruse Google News, Yahoo, the home pages of our favorite newspapers and magazines.  The world has changed from one where the publishers controlled access to their information to one where content distributors provide one stop shops for all content.   Most of you use these content aggregators everyday as part of your ritual of being current about what’s happening.  You choose what you want to read and what you don’t.   You still read the sections that you are most interested in, but since you are time starved are you spending an extra few minutes looking at other topics of interest.  Maybe you are, maybe you are not.

Here are a few suggestions for you.  If you have a smartphone or and iPad, check out the applications from Flipboard, Zite and Pulse.  They are awesome content aggregators, in easy to use formats made specifically for these devices.  They will provide you with your key areas of interest but they can also connect you with many other topics, such as design, humor, arts, leisure and many others.  Zite enables you to create your own channels that finds stuff you are interested in – I have set up feeds for the Beatles and Italy as examples.

So today take five minutes to read something new, to go outside your normal routine and engage with a topic or news article just interests you, not because it is part of your routine or you need it for work.  It will open your mind, expand your interests and give you a peak at what is happening in other peoples worlds. Take Five!

And hey, you just might become the most knowledgeable person at all of those holiday parties you will be attending!

Let me know what you think of this blog by posting your comments below.

Have a great day!

Webman

Blurring of the Lines!

My friend DaCoacha is now retired, living the life.  He is a regular reader of the Webman’s blog and as he tells me he has time on his hands to do what he wants to do when he wants to do it.  DaCoacha is not worried about the life/work balance because he has put a check in the work box and can now solely focus on the things he likes to do with the people he likes to do them with.  I can regularly find him on Facebook after many years of being disconnected.  A very good thing, by the way, as we can find and locate the many people that we grew up with and reconnect in some way after so many years.  Would not have happened without the technology.

Many of you have teenage children or have observed their behavior of being constantly connected.  They will have friends over let’s say to watch a movie.  While watching they will constantly be on the ready with the phones, waiting for the little bell or ding to go off, identifying a new rather important to them text, tweet, Facebook post, e-mail or some other form of incoming information.  They immediately respond to the news, regardless of whether they are in a conversation with a friend or just watching the movie.  My favorite is when they are actually texting the people they asked over to watch the movie, when they are in the same room!

I have an on-going debate with one of my daughters over what I call “obsessive texting”.  She says, “Dad, I am just going to text so and so to see how he or she is doing.”  Seems harmless enough right.  I have then observed her actions over the course of the day and she will still be texting with that person, still finding out how they are doing.  How long does it take to find out how someone is doing?  A 10 minute conversation?  Asking them to come over to hang out and talk?  No, finding out how someone is doing has now taken the form of 500 text messages to determine how he or she is doing.  When I ask the question, the answer is, “Oh dad, she is fine.”  500 texts for that?  Geez.

Communication has been changed forever by technology.  There certainly is no going back.  The question is how can we all utilize these capabilities in a way that does not cause us more stress, where we can truly connect with the people we enjoy, love and admire.  Where we can learn the things we not only need to learn but want to learn?

Let me know your thoughts on this topic by posting your comments below.  More to come this week.

Webman

We are Disconnected! – Part 2

As we have discussed before, the amount of information that we are bombarded with every day is just staggering.  It really is no wonder that we have a very difficult time filtering through this information, determining what is important and what is not.  This information overload not only leads to a more challenging and stressful work environment, but also carries over into our personal lives, as the separation no longer exists due to smart phones, Crackberries and the like.

In a recent report, commissioned by Hitachi Data Systems, it found 40 percent of companies in Australia and New Zealand are suffering from the information glut, up from 34 percent two years ago.  The report also found 81 percent of companies surveyed now considered it important to manage data growth, up from 68 percent two years ago.

Workers are drowning under a deluge of emails and information. Corporations are failing to help staff cope with the technological barrage, daily meetings and constant connection, leading to rising levels of stress and psychological illness and costing billions in lost productivity.  Psychologists and experts said the information glut is becoming a major issue for firms who are searching for realistic answers to the problem.

Most workers receive an average of 36 emails a day and huge volumes of other information. Add to this social media, instant messenger, daily meetings and the ever-present telephone plus the arrival of new technologies which employees are expected to embrace to stay ahead of the game.  Many employees are reaching “breaking point” with the amount of information they receive and there is a huge need for employers to step in and help.  http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/12/05/information-overload-is-causing-illness-and-costing-money-experts-warn/#ixzz1g2MLMhJf

In these very difficult economic times, companies have cut back on staffing, added more and more projects to achieve their expected growth rates and are relying on these workers to produce at the highest levels of productivity and quality.  Is it any wonder that employees are more dissatisfied at work than ever with many of them focused on finding the next job and leaving their existing employers.

As shared yesterday, we have moved from a “we” to a “me” society.  Is it any wonder that this has happened given the ever increasing lack of loyalty by employers, the overwhelming need for companies to achieve their financial goals for Wall Street and their shareholders?  Oh did I mention the fact that the average pay ratio between CEO’s and employees for the Fortune 50 companies is 213 to 1.  And the CEO to worker pay ratio at United Health Group is 1,737 to 1.  Hmmm.  See the infographic: http://www.payscale.com/ceo-income

So let’s summarize.  Employers hammering employees to do more with less.  More information for employees causing high levels of stress.  Employee dissatisfaction at all time high levels.  People disconnected from their friends and family.  Sound bite society.  Occupy America.

Houston, we have a problem.

Please let me know what you think about this blog.  Have a great weekend.

Webman

We Are Disconnected!

Everyday we read how the world is flat, that we are all connected, that it is so easy to stay in touch with your friends and family through Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, You Tube, Flickr, e-mail, text messages etc.  We need some reality here.  The world has never been more disconnected than it is today!

Don’t get me wrong; I love technology.  But we have replaced real people relationships with real time technology posts about us.  We have moved from a “we” society to a “me” society.  No wonder we have all of the ethical, integrity, leadership and lack of trust issues in our society.

We have become a back yard society, one that no longer spends any time sitting on the front porch taking care of each other, looking after the kids in the neighborhood, relating in a real way; like having a face to face, eye to eye real conversation with someone about a topic you both care about.  Think about it.  Everyday we are now moving so fast just to keep up with all of these alleged “discussions’ and ‘conversations’.  We are not keeping up, we are treading water.  We have become a society of sound bites; formulating our opinions rapidly because we have to formulate the next opinion about something new in the next six seconds.

When I was growing up people cared.  We lived in towns with friends and family that cared about you, unconditionally.  Parents knew all of the other parents because many of them went to school together.  As a child, when you went out to play, all of the parents (who were front porch people), took an interest in what you were doing, making sure that you were safe.  We all grew up together and we knew that if you ever needed anyone, they would all be there for you, to help you through the good times and the bad.  You spent time with multiple generations and multiple ethnicities, learning from the people that lived it everyday.

Not only has this significantly impacted our generation, but this will continue to impact all future generations because it is now the norm.  Our children go away to college, because supposedly this helps them to grow, experience life and become adults.  Why on earth do we as parents support this?  My daughter is away at college ; I wish she were home.  She could get a more holistic education locally, by remaining engaged with her family, supporting the local community, experiencing life, volunteering, getting involved in many more important activities.

We have lost sight of what is truly important – being connected with people who really care about us and learning from their incredible wisdom and experience.  As we enter the holiday season, find the time to reconnect with the people who love you; the people that really know you; the people that made a difference in your life; the people that have always been there for you.

Sit on the front porch.  Say hello to people walking by.  Connect in a meaningful way.  And turn your phones and computers off!!

If you like this blog, please let me know by providing feedback below.  If you have any topics you would like for me to cover, just let me know.

Webman

We Need Thomas Jefferson!

A few weeks ago, a relative sent the following to me in an e-mail.  As we look at our country today, we are going through a very difficult time financially, with job security, ineffective government, strained international relations and a deteriorating global position.  Many of you are struggling under these extreme burdens and life has become more stressful than ever before.  Many of the basic principals of our nation are being challenged, as evidenced by the recent Warren Buffet article (See previous Web Blog on “Let’s end the Deficit now”)

I thought it would be great to illuminate one again the brilliance of One of our greatest leaders and founders of our country, Thomas Jefferson. 

One evening, John F. Kennedy held a dinner in the White House for a group of the brightest minds in the nation at that time.  He made this statement: “This is perhaps the assembly of the most intelligence ever to gather at one time in the White House with the exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”

Here are just a few of the many quotes and insights from Thomas Jefferson that resonate for all of us today, 200+ years later:

  • “When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe.”
  • “The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.”
  • “It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes.  A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.”
  • “I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”
  • “My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.”
  • “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against the tyranny of government.
  • “I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.  If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property – until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.”

Thomas Jefferson said that in 1802.  Things that make you go hmmmmm…….

Where are you Thomas Jefferson?  We need you now!

Thanks again for reading this blog.  Let me know what you think by sending comments along below.

Webman

The Media and You

So much information everyday. As we are bombarded daily, we might get the illusion that we are actually being offered many different perspectives by traditional media because it appears the number of companies that we are dealing with has expanded. Not so.

Based on an excellent infographic from Frugal Dad, the reality is that media sources have never been more consolidated. Here are some interesting nuggets from the analysis.

1. In the US, six media giants control 90% of all TV, news, radio and film. (General Electric, News Corp., Disney, Viacom, Time Warner and CBS)

2. In 1983, 90% was controlled by 50 companies

3. 232 media executives control what is being seen by 277 million Americans

4. The Big 6 control 70% of your cable

5. 178 million unique users read Time Warner news every month

6. News Corp owns the top newspaper on three continents – North America, Europe and Australia

7. Clear Channel owns 1,200 radio stations

So even though there is more, there is actually less.

And I am sure that is why you read blogs!raphic report here – http://owni.eu/2011/11/25/infographic-media-consolidation-the-illusion-of-choice/

Access the full infog

Let me know what you think of the Webman’s blog below. Also if you have any ideas for a blog, send those along.

Webman