This is Part 2 in our series entitled: How To Avoid The 10 Mistakes I Made When Starting Our Organization. If you read Lesson One already, just skip down to lesson #2.
Recently I have been reminiscing a lot about the last five years. Our organization just turned five years old & I feel like I need to look back & learn from our history. This past week, a friend of mine who worked with us during the Dark Years, sent me a document he found on his computer from 2010.
This document was entitled Lessons From Hell Week.
Hell week was basically the culmination of having to lay off 3 people at one time, a bad business partner break up & being 80k in debt. Me & my friend Russ sat in my office on the floor & got out a white board & wrote down ten things that we should never forget.
When we were under the pressure & at the bottom, here are the things we wrote down & vowed to never forget. (they are written here EXACTLY how we wrote them that day
- Transition Slowly
- Distance Decay (Call clients, listen & fix their problems)
- Admin Drains Casey & Russ (Entrepreneurship)
- Checklist Everything (Systems Create Culture & scalability)
- Dicate to our clients our way & tell them why
- Customization kills scalability
- Hire Slowly (No Weirdo’s) Passion, Competent, Character, Fun
- Fire Fast (Letting problems hang around sucks)
- Work on the business, not in it
- Love our families (If this fails, they will still love us)
Lesson 2: Distance Decay (Call clients, listen, & fix their problems)
Early on in business I was excited about our company so I thought our clients were too. As soon as we started growing pretty fast, our clients started going out the back door pretty fast.
Our cycle was the typical survival cycle… Sell, sell, sell, sell, sell, & sell. We wanted more customers & there is nothing wrong with that. I actually teach entrepreneurs to sell hard until one million in revenue & then start putting into place sales systems.
Here is where we messed up…
We were more high touch during selling than during serving. This is normal for a start up but it doesn’t make it right. After we sold to all the low hanging fruit, we got stuck. We couldn’t get passed about 45 paying clients at a time but were selling just as hard.
Our business was struggling, not because of lack of selling to new customers but because of the distance between selling & serving.
Here is the trap: I thought we were much closer to our customers than we were
The hard lesson I’ve learned in running an organization is your customers like you based on what you do for them. Your customers are 100% fickle & they do not care about your organization or cause near as much as you think they do.
We are tricked into thinking we are better than we are by listening to our top 10% of customers or we think we think we are worse than we are by listening to the bottom 10%.
If you believe the top 10%, you neglect your customers because you think everything is okay. If you believe the bottom 10%, you neglect your customers because you are fixing problems for the wrong type of customer.
Hell Week taught me a lesson. I vowed to never lead an organization that neglects 80% of our customers ever again so here is what we do to stay close to customers at The Rocket Company.
1. Clarify the terms up front
Most of our learning programs are twelve months long & we require a twelve month commitment out of them. You might ask, “what does this have to do with distance decay & staying close to customers?” EVERYTHING!
By clarifying the terms & asking them for a commitment we know they are the right customers. The right customer is worth investing money & resources into. They make a commitment to us so now can make an investment into them by doing #2
2. Send on-boarding gift
We send a big box to new clients. It’s called the Rocket Swag Box. Here is a key about this box… We send stuff their kids can play with. We send finger rockets that kids can shoot around the house & an amazing coffee mug that people love. We also send a handwritten thank you note.
When is the last time you sent a hand written note to a new customer, member, visitor or client?
3. Do a welcome phone call
We call every new customer personally & talk with them. We have 5,000 customers this year so this isn’t an easy task but we do it!
When is the last time you picked up the phone & just talked to a customer & told them thanks for being a part of the team?
4. We measure our Net Promoter Score (NPS)
I read this book about how to know what your clients think about you. It’s so simple but tells you so much.
Do you have facts & numbers on how likely clients are to recommend your services to others? Our current NPS is 8.4 out of 10.
5. We talk to every person that want’s to quit or doesn’t want to renew
We are old fashion. We have a dedicated person that talks to all people wanting to quit or not renew. This gives us REALLY AMAZING information of how we are doing with our customers.
This isn’t everything we do but this gives you a good picture of how we aren’t just into selling anymore. We SERVICE what we sell & because of that, we have been able to grow by 832% over the last 3 years.
Comment Question: What systems do you use stay close to your clients? Can you apply any of the above to your organization?