Why reviving the Arthur Andersen brand isn’t as crazy as it sounds – Quartz.
Enron issue aside, AA was a great firm. As an alumnus of the firm, I wish the team responsible for re-branding the most success.
Walmart’s ‘Made in USA’ push exposes strains of manufacturing rebirth | Reuters.
Several months ago, I shared an article on Walmart’s push to re-ignite manufacturing in the US. I’m glad to see the continued push in this area. Per the article, it is interesting to note that one of the biggest issues facing manufacturers is the lack of local component suppliers. It seems as if many component suppliers were driven out of business or moved overseas. I’m looking forward to the results that come out of the latest Walmart confab on said subject. Along those lines, I am in the midst of reading a book by the name of Factory Man – very good book that provides a decent overview of how (and why) U.S. furniture makers moved a majority of their manufacturing overseas.
How Steinway (Still) Makes Pianos | Mental Floss.
For those of you who have the time (8 minutes), watch the video of how Steinway manufactures pianos in NY. Great video describing the craftsmanship that goes into each piano. I’m not sure how many new pianos they manufacture each year (as you will see they are a job shop with very manual processes), but the process described and captured in the video is very impressive. What they do at Steinway is clearly a work of art.
I’ll cut to the chase on this post. Recruiting customer facing employees with the “Right Attitude” drives customer satisfaction and increased spend. The genesis of this post is based on my grocery shopping experiences. I frequent a number of grocery stores on a regular basis. There are several, though, that I am going to comment on in this post. I am always impressed when I interact with employees from the following grocery stores: Market Street, Whole Foods, and Central Market. In my experience, these stores generally have higher prices and in some cases less selection than other grocery stores I frequent. Even with higher prices and less selection of the foodstuffs that interest me, I continue to frequent these stores. Why? The employees. When I interact with employees from these stores, I am always impressed with their customer facing skills. The employees exhibit a number of traits that I do not find in other grocery store employees. These traits are as follow:
- A positive attitude
- Knowledge about the products in their store
- Willingness to assist
- Provide customer service with a smile
I have a recruited a number of employees in the past and while you can teach employees technical skills, I am not sure you can teach them the traits outlined above. What I find interesting is that the majority of the employees I come across in said stores seem to all have the same type of positive attitude. Hats off to the leaders of these stores for recruiting front line employees with the “right attitude”. I suspect employee pay at these grocery stores is higher than at others. If so, this is a great example of why paying more to recruit talented employees is worth it. I am sure there are many other factors at play beyond salary. Whatever they are, there is something to be learned from these companies and their recruiting policies. People often talk about the great service provided by Nordstrom. I believe employees at Central Market, Whole Foods, and Market Street are another example of how recruiting employees with the right attitude can positively impact financials. Because of these employees, I gladly drive out of my way and spend more than I typically would on groceries. I think the image I found below drives home the point. Your thoughts?
Just read the following blog posting Howard Marks: Dare to Be Great II | The Big Picture. – that is focused on on what makes one a superior investor. As I read through the article the points that the author covered are applicable to more than just being a successful or superior investor. The points he covered can be applied to any area or profession. It is not limited to the field of investment. Some of the key areas covered in memo are:
- Dare to Be Different
- It Isn’t Easy Being Different
- Dare to Be Wrong
- Dare to Look Wrong
- Looking Right Can Be Harder Than Being Right
The dare to be different point rang true for me since I have always marched to a somewhat different beat (and some might argue that I dance to a different beat as well, but that is a different story). I have always counseled my kids to not follow the crowd. Along those lines, though, many of us realize that being and doing things differently is not easy and never will be. It takes a certain amount of intestinal fortitude to “be different”. The other points highlighted in the memo are all insightful and once again are applicable to all walks of life. Hats off to Howard Marks for his second installment on the subject of “Dare to be Great”. The posting is a little lengthy, but worth the effort – scroll to the middle of the blog posting to see the memo from Marks.
Came across this article the other day and was quite impressed. Might be considered a little intrusive by some, but it appealed to my inner geek. I’m not sure who the first airline customer will be, but I am sure their premium class customers will be very happy. Way to go B/E!
The Business Class Seat of Tomorrow Will Blow Your Mind, and Freak You Out a Bit – Skift.
and instead start talking with them. When I make presentations I always remind myself (and others) not to talk to the crowd, but instead talk with them. Engage them in the presentation and you might find yourself participating in a robust discussion instead of another ho-hum presentation. I know, easier said than done.
The same holds true in interacting with your customers. The more you talk with them, the more engaged they are, and the more likely they will be to share your product / service with others. I recently read a couple of books that prompted this post. They are “Contagious” by Jonah Berger who teaches at Wharton and “Highly Recommended” by Paul Rand. A quick side note, the book written by the professor (Berger) is well done and does not come across in a professorial manner. Reads more like a general strategy book. On the other hand, the non-professor’s book (Rand) definitely reads like a professorial tome. Somewhat didactic in nature as well. But I digress. In general, both of these books are good and focus on the same end goal, which is how products and services catch on with the masses. They are also both somewhat critical of Gladwell’s Tipping Point and I must admit more insightful.
I am not going to bore you with passages from each book, but focus on what I think is the most important aspect, which also happens to jibe with my experience. There are clearly a number of offline and online methods (Berger and Rand do a good job of describing) that a company can use to facilitate customer interaction. Whether you are soliciting ideas from customers or engaging them in contests of some sort, you may find yourself 2-3 steps ahead of the competition. Many companies have facebook pages, twitter accounts, etc. Many companies do a fine job of pushing information to customers via these channels, but how many provide a meaningful mechanism for feedback? More importantly, how many provide a meaningful mechanism for interaction? Take a step back from your day-to-day responsibilities and consider what activities you can influence so that your organization can better engage customers. What things can you do to influence “word of mouth” about the product or service you provide? Advertising has been around for quite some time, but an endorsement from another customer (an engaged customer) is much more powerful than a paid advertisement.
So, Stop Talking to Your Customers…And Instead Start Talking With Them