March 15, 2019 /
Comments Off on How to sell with Meaning – 3 examples

How to sell with Meaning – 3 examples

In this episode we look at how to sell with meaning.

We all know you should sell with Features and benefits, but I’ll suggest switching that around to take it up a notch.

Then we’ll take it up another notch by incorporating meaning to the sales process

The three examples include:

  1. How Meaning affects the sale of banking products
  2. How meaning affect the sale of a car
  3. How meaning affects B2B sales

Meaning is the missing ingredient just under our noses.

To listen in on your favourite Podcast platform, click here.

March 03, 2019 /
Comments Off on What can Lego, Cycling and IKEA teach us about meaning?

What can Lego, Cycling and IKEA teach us about meaning?

Meaning is possible even in the most frivolous (Lego), painful (cycling) and frustratingly mundane jobs (IKEA) and can be lost in the most complex and career building activities.

See full post on Steven’s personal blog here or watch the 7 minute video below.

February 28, 2019 /
Comments Off on Don’t make the same 10 mistakes Marriott made

Don’t make the same 10 mistakes Marriott made

Having a name like Di Pietro, with a space in the name can create problems. I made a hotel booking without a space and my membership account has the space.  I tried to remove the space from my profile so they’d match.

So I head to the Marriott website, where the problems start. Below is what I found on the website. It seemed quite specific.

Problem 1 – The number doesn’t work

I called from Australia. When I called I got a message saying that I can’t dial that number. The I realised I had to dial it with a +1 in front and I got through.

Most customers would stop at this point and throw their hands in the air.

Marriott call

Problem 2 – I have to pay international rates

I’m not sure if I paid for a call to the U.S. or not, but it sure seems like I’m paying for an international call. How many people would do that?h

–Watch the video or keep reading–

Problem 3 – You can’t do this online

I’m sure there is some made up security reason, and though it’s not a common request, it should be available.

Problem 4 – The dreaded voice recognition

When the voice recognition asks my what I want (after 40 seconds of cross promotion) I respond with:

“change name”

To which the system tells me what to do if I want to merge two accounts together.

I ask many different ways, until finally saying HELP 5 times, after which I’m told it will send me to an operator if it still can’t assist me.

A final few HELP’s and I get through to an operator.

Problem 5 – It’s the wrong number

After going through all the security questions, the operator tells me it’s the wrong number, and gives me another number.

This process takes 9 minutes.

Problem 6 – I’m not transferred

This goes without saying but the call should have been transferred and I’m forced to repeat the cries for HELP!.

Problem 7 – I have to re-verify

Having to re-verify credentials is a problem common to many call centres.

Problem 8 – 20 minutes on hold

While I’m on-hold the recording keeps trying to direct me to the very website which directed me to a phone number. Enter the loops.

Problem 9 – They couldn’t help

Although I found a very delightful phone operator and got part of my problem solved, they still couldn’t attach my booking to my membership number. They suggested I do it at the hotel reception.

This call took 29 minutes.

Problem 10 – Pretending to be international

While writing this blog, I thought I’d look up the website, to see if I was being unfair. Maybe the information was right there in front of me. Nope. It made matters worse.

Unless you are from the U.S. or Canada or you looked carefully at the bottom right hand corner of the screen, you’d have no way to know who to call. They are not international – or don’t care.

Marriott Contact Us page

How do you fix it?

This is why I run a Mystery Shopping company, to find all the places where the consultants, and people too close to the business miss the most obvious problems.

Customer feedback is OK, but they won’t give you the granularity required. Companies are quick to test software, but they don’t get Independents to test the user experience.

February 27, 2019 /
Comments Off on Why a steel mill is the same as an apple orchard

Why a steel mill is the same as an apple orchard

Excerpt from my “Purpose” Blog

As individuals we never end up where we wanted to be.

You would think a steel mill has nothing more to do with an apple orchard as garbage dump has to do with creating art. But they are all linked and, that link is the key to unlocking problems.

In business, we struggle to end up where we intended.

We try to force business to be some inorganic thing.  We think businesses are manufactured just like the forged steel that started the industrial revolution, but even that steel wasn’t ‘manufactured’.

All businesses that exist in the universe also must follow the laws of the universe. A business is not a human creation, but the result of something a human did within the laws of the universe. 

We are not gods, we do not create from nothing.  We no more create businesses than a farmer creates an apple orchard, we just move things around and reorganise them.

These laws apply beyond physical product but also to the whole of business and our lives.

Newton’s three laws of motion are as good a place as any to start. Read more here

February 26, 2019 /
Comments Off on Execution fail – real Mystery Shop results

Execution fail – real Mystery Shop results

We do a lot of Mystery Shopping compliance work. The results are not surprising to us, but they are surprising to our clients.

[Short Video below showing real reporting 3:48]

Did staff wear a name badge?

Yeh yeh they are lame and unexciting, but almost all clients insist they are worn, and for good reason.

But as the results show in the video, staff just fail to wear them.

How often clients call back customers to follow up their enquiry?

That’s kind of a big deal.  It is often the difference between making a sale and not, but the sad truth is that only 14% of people receive a followup call with two weeks and only only 7% within 6 weeks.

The first is a compliance issue, the second is a serious sales issue.

Both need to be measured.

November 30, 2018 /
Comments Off on B2B Feedback – A schoolyard lesson

B2B Feedback – A schoolyard lesson

You’ve had a big client for 5 years, everything seems to be going well, but you’re nervous. Is it too quiet? Am I getting the full picture? Will they stick around?

You’d think an Account Manager would help because getting the answers to those questions is their job.

But you know you’ve had to cut the budget, and the Account Managers are spread more thinly, are they getting around to everyone? Are they making regular contacts by phone and email?

You have some options, not all are good. Article continues below video.

Option 1 – Frequent feedback – Smiley faces

Some companies have started adding smiley and sad faces at the bottom of emails, hoping to get feedback. But who completes those? Even if they are completed, then what’s the context? Was the email trivial? Did their sad face cover the whole relationship or just the email? Who gave the response? Was it a junior analyst without impact on your relationship? What caused the result?

Apart from annoying your customers, the problems are endless.

Don’t do it.

Option 2 – Surveys

Resist the temptation to send your business customers a survey.

The first problem with surveys is that they tend to be written unprofessionally and make you look amateurish.

Then you have the problem with the survey being too big. There’s the whole “while we’re at it, let’s also ask ……”. So the survey becomes unwieldy and you end up annoying the customer. The customer also gets bored and doesn’t answer it correctly.

Most CEO’s and decision makers won’t even complete the survey, they’ll pass it down to someone else, so you won’t get the decision-maker point of view.

One of the unintended consequences is that the usual survey season is preceded by a flurry of Account Manager activity which is viewed suspiciously by the client. The survey ultimately sours the relationship.

“David only contacts me when he wants me to make him look good – these guys are losers”

Option 3 – Independent on-on-ones

Remember asking your best friend to tell the girl next door that you liked her. It’s always easier to talk about someone behind their back (even if it’s good). It’s less confronting and we all do it, despite our noble intentions.

Well, take advantage of that.

Get an independent party to call your decision-making client for a 15-minute conversation about what they think about your company.

Sometimes the relationship is so good that customers consider you a friend and won’t tell you about the changes at board level where they are looking for a “fresh approach”. Or worse, perhaps the relationship is so ordinary that they couldn’t be bothered giving feedback.

But a third party changes all that. And the third party won’t be afraid to ask the hard questions.

Arrange a meeting with your main customer and tell them a trusted third party (yes it could be me) will arrange a 15-minute call. That’s it!

Your client will appreciate the serious approach you’ve taken and be more open with their feedback.

Then you can find the truth.


September 27, 2018 /
Comments Off on 30 Reasons why NPS Fails

30 Reasons why NPS Fails

September 18, 2018 /
Comments Off on The biggest (and hidden) reason customers leave.

The biggest (and hidden) reason customers leave.

Why do customers really leave?

The answer is not as obvious as it seems.

Dan Kennedy, the king of direct marketing explained the reason as follows.

  • Customer leave for one of the following reasons:
  • 1% die. There’s not much we can do about this one.
  • 3% move. Offline, this is due to geography; online, it’s due to shifting interests. You must do all you can to hold the attention of your audience. Some loss is acceptable over time, but stay remarkable and you will minimize the losses.
  • 5% switch to something else due to a friend’s recommendation. There is no more valuable referral than that from a friend. Yet, if your customer is truly happy with your product or services, the odds of them leaving are slim.
  • 9% switch to a better product or service. The best way to fight this is to make sure your products, services, and offers are simply the best around.
  • 14% leave for general dissatisfaction. Again, it’s a good idea to trim the tribe, as you’re never going to please everyone. However, if a customer leaves, make sure you did everything within reason to keep them.

Altogether, those five reasons only add up to 32%. A staggering 68% of customer loss is due to indifference.

If I don’t like a service or it’s not as expected, I don’t argue, I don’t make a scene, I don’t tell them how to fix it. I just don’t go back.

Customer surveys won’t help, the indifferent will either ignore your request for feedback or just answer with “ok”. You’ll never know the problems.

Indifference kills loyalty.

A simple way to avoid indifference is to change it up – change the interaction in simple ways. Give the customer small surprises (eg occasionally upgrade a frequent flyer to business class, or change the store layout).

If you can’t change it up, don’t wait for complaints, or compliments to act – incorporate Mystery Shopping. it remains the best way to get operational insights.

Also see post “Why you can’t depend on 10/10 reviews“.

August 15, 2018 /
Comments Off on The anatomy of a bad survey – Emirates

The anatomy of a bad survey – Emirates

The anatomy of a bad customer survey.
It’s unfortunate but companies spend millions on surveys and replay around the world. But most don’t work.
Here is an example of a survey taken on board an Emirates flight to Europe.
It includes:
  • How they forget the customer,
  • How they ignore the real life actions of real people,
  • How they miss things they ‘should ask’ and ask things they shouldn’t,
  • How they will be victims to literal customers.

July 26, 2018 /
Comments Off on Why you can’t depend on 10/10 reviews

Why you can’t depend on 10/10 reviews

There’s a big problem with customer reviews – they can leave you with a false sense of security.

What could be more important than the customer’s view right?

Well, not everything that a customer sees helps drive profitability. Indeed, many profitable customer service activities are invisible to the customer.


Customers are heavily swayed by the staff member interaction. Attributes such as kind, engaged, smiling, helpful, knowledgeable all rightly affect the service experience.

But it’s possible the staff member displayed all these attributes, scored a 10/10 but didn’t close the sale, didn’t upsell, didn’t mention the loyalty program, didn’t offer a followup call and gave the wrong advice.

So the smiling polite lovable staff member may be missing huge profit opportunities.

Sounds obvious right, but there is a circumstance which can also lead to false positive results, namely synchronicity.


Some customer experiences are synchronous with the customer’s opinion, but others are asynchronous.

A customer experience is synchronous if its absence or presence affect the customer experience equally.

For example, a smiling experience leads to a positive customer experience, and a scowl (the opposite, leads to a negative experience.

Similarly, the absence of something can be positive, and the experience can be negative. For example, The absence of a bank queue is a positive experience (“wow I got served quickly”) but having a long line is a negative customer experience.

Sounds simple enough.

But then there are asynchronous events where the event is a positive but its absence is NOT a negative.

Have you ever been upgraded to business class when flying? The first thing you do is smile, and you have a warm glow throughout the flight, especially if you’ve never flown before.

Getting a business class upgrade creates a definite 10/10 review, but……

The absence of an upgrade is not a negative experience. You can’t miss what you didn’t have, and you may still score the flight a 10/10.

The opposite of getting an upgrade (not getting an upgrade), does not on its own create a negative review. And more importantly, receiving the upgrade puts rose coloured glasses on the customer.

It’s inevitable that the upgraded business class first timer will score a 10/10, but what if the staff were unattentive, the food slow incomplete or cold, and many of the other normal business class processes not followed?

Business class frequent flyers would score the flight a 3/10, but they are unlikely to complete a survey, whereas the newbie scores a 10. The flight will probably only generate 1 review, and that review will be a 10/10, so the staff get a pat on the back.

What do you do about this problem?

1) Keep collecting data, but you need to filter for any possible abnormal activities (upgraded customers).

2) Be wary of events like Sale times.

3) Conduct some Mystery Shopping to get unbiased operational data (such as speed of service/upsell/closing the sale)

Older Posts »