Cash flow can be the strongest indicator of an ecommerce business’s success or failure, and properly managing your accounts payable and receivable can be the difference between success or insolvency.
Years ago, I read an article that described cash flow as the difference in time between when you get paid and when you pay. This very pragmatic definition has stuck with me. Unfortunately, cash flow can be one of the consequential challenges that online retailers face.
That challenge lies in the very nature of the retail business. For the majority of retail operations, the proprietor (a) purchases goods (products) from a variety of suppliers, (b) warehouses those goods in inventory, and then (c) sells those goods at retail prices to individual consumers over time. Suppliers want to be paid when they make a sale, but the retailer does not get paid until a customer buys the product days, weeks, or even months later, putting a huge strain on the merchant’s cash flow.
Tips for Better Cash Flow Management
In this edition of “eCommerce Know-How,” I want to share three tips for improving your ecommerce business’s cash flow.
Take More Time to Pay
Recently, I had a conversation with a long time supplier. This supplier, who had been very “hard nosed” about terms in the past, was, in the face of harder economic times, amiable to net 30 day payments. I was very quick to accept and place an order. Remember our definition of cash flow as the difference in time between when you pay and when you get paid. By pushing out my supplier several additional weeks, I reduce the time between when my customers pay me and when I have to pay my bills.
As an added benefit, I get to keep my funds in a bank account earning interest (meager as it may be) rather than having those funds head out when I place a new order.
This also means that if you already have terms with a supplier, don’t prepay. For example, if a supplier has given you 30 day net terms, don’t pay the bill in 10 days, 17 days, or even 28 days. Wait until the last possible moment.
And remember, once established, I can keep my longer terms even as the market comes back.
Pay With a Credit Card on the Date Due
I have a friend that operates a small ecommerce business, but hates credit cards. Oddly he is happy to accept them on his site, but personally likes to pay for everything with cash or a check. But using a credit card to pay suppliers can give a merchant as many as 30 days of additional cash flow.
After waiting until the last day on your terms, call the supplier and pay with the company credit card. Just like when a customer makes a purchase on your store and the funds don’t really show up for four days, paying by card means that you delay payment for the goods until your credit card payment is due.
As implied above, the goal of good cash flow management is to minimize the time between paying a bill and selling an item in your store.
Remember that Sometimes Flexibility is Better than Price
Finally, know that a lower price or free shipping is not always better than flexibility. Many suppliers are now offering shipping discounts or even price discounts. In some cases, these offers are a real deal, but stockpiling inventory is not usually a good strategy for continued solvency.
When these offers come, consider them carefully. Is the discount really worth the hit your cash flow will take.
Better Cash Flow Equates to Better Business
These three tips will help you keep your cash longer, and keeping cash longer can be a contributing factor to your business’s success.
If we want to succeed in life or in business, we cannot do this with any depth or longevity if we’re not empathic. Empathy is what gives life meaning. It allows us to be open, and to tolerate points of view that differ greatly from our own. When we are empathic towards others, we are better equipped to understand, soothe, communicate, bond and develop long-lasting successful connections. At its base, success is a function of trusting, dependable and dynamic relationships.
1. They recognize feelings.
Empathic people can identify and recognize both the emotions of others and the emotions they grapple with inside of themselves. Compassion for others develops from the self-compassion empathic people practice on themselves in their private lives. They believe that to succeed on any level, they have to show empathy for the people they are working with. They are naturally sensitive to the fact that life is hard, business is tough and everyone is at risk of getting down on themselves.
Empathic people don’t forget about the humanity of others. They take the time to recognize if someone is feeling up or down, then take the opportunity to support them from where they are.
2. They have an ethical identity.
Empathic people live their lives by a compass of integrity. An ethical identity intersects with each decision empathic people make throughout their lives. Empathy motivates them to live by their morals determining what is right and wrong. They are conscious of who they are, of what they do, what they say and how it all may impact and influence those around them. Respect for themselves and others helps them keep their enduring commitment to live a fulfilling lifestyle.
Empathic people hold themselves to high standards of kindness, tolerance, respect, service and good communication. These traits set them apart when it comes to success and longevity. Their humble morality inspires others to live better in their own lives. Because empathic people strive to have a positive influence, they naturally become people others look up to and admire.
3. They always consider the needs of others.
Empathic people have dynamic working relationships because they always consider the needs of each person they work with. They are open to what is different. Their definition of tolerance is “even though your belief is not mine I accept it and we can still connect.”
Success cannot flourish under a my-way-or-the-highway mindset. Intolerance blocks learning, kills empathy and breaks down connections.
4. They have a moral intention.
When people operate from a place of empathy they pursue goals which others find inspiring. The intention behind every goal an empathic person pursues is to serve others. In this construct, success is measured more by the development of a person’s character, rather than status, position or money earned. Empathic people approach deals, conflicts, negotiations and communications confident solutions will arise from right action, honesty, integrity and thoughfulness.
Even in the midst of a chaotic experience, positive intention allows empathic people to intuitively and correctly perceive what actions are necessary.
5. They’re calm.
Empathic people can accept feedback without getting defensive. They help others to remain calm by remaining calm and rational under stressful circumstances. Their example inspires others to work toward the same levels of openness and maturity when they are pressured or stressed. Empathic people can be an anchors for those who are struggling with the reactive emotions stress brings. They live with an inherent trust that solutions can and will be found, and that worrying about things doesn’t make those solutions come any quicker. Being grounded in this way, benefits everyone around them.
6. They’re kind.
Kindness is empathy in action. Empathic people trust that kindness will get them further in life than other human character trait. Everything can be solved with kindness. People destroy relationships when they try to solve problems with anger, threats or force. They may get their way once or twice but they inevitably lose opportunities because they are not enjoyable to work with or for.
Being kind doesn’t mean empathic people are pushovers. Empathic people can be assertive and direct while still respecting the person who is on the receiving end of the dynamic with them.
7. They are always thinking “us.”
An empathic person will own their part of the problem when something goes wrong in the daily grind. They do what they can to keep their side of the street clean instead of reactively blaming their problems on people or circumstances outside of themselves. If they cannot see where they contributed to the problem, they ask for feedback to help them to more clearly understand the part they played. Staying away from blame and emotional reactivity guarantees successful communication and customer satisfaction going forward.
8. They take risks for the team.
A coward will only cover for or take a risk for themselves. Empathic individuals value character over ego. Empathetic people who work together are so bonded that they have no problem sticking their necks out for whomever they believe in. Taking risks for their team is an integral part of being in a dependable and trusting relationship and work environment. When empathy is present no one person is ever allowed to take on the full responsibility for a problem. Empathic people put other people first and make sure to come to their defense whenever necessary. No one they care about is left alone.
9. They have a strong desire to make a difference.
Empathic people are privy to the understanding that selfishness and success cannot coexist. Eventually selfishness will bring about failure. When people are team oriented, they seek not just to lift themselves up, but to lift all of those who surround them. The greatest gift an empathic person can experience, is to bear witness to the positive results their hard work and good character produce. They live to see others feel satisfied on the other side of them, whether that be financially, emotionally or both. Empathic people live not for fame or riches, but to make a difference.
Christmas is a special occasion of the year to celebrate love, peace and goodwill. To always remind ourselves about the true meaning of Christmas, we have a lot of heart warming Christmas quotes.
These quotes below present the wisdom on how to really enjoy Christmas and keep its spirit throughout the year.
Christmas Quotes with beautiful images
“Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.” – by Calvin Coolidge
We tend to think of Christmas as a date or a season. It is somehow true, but to think more carefully: can a season become Christmas without Christmas spirit in the air?
That is why the heart of Christmas lies in the state of mind of everyone. We wait and embrace a special time and special season in the year with peace and goodwill. That is what makes a Christmas.
“The love at Christmas should be with us throughout the coming year.” – Quote by Lailah Gifty Akita
Christmas is special in the way it brings love and connects people. The magic of Christmas shows in how we become better with each other and love our life more.
We see people gather under the Christmas tree, exchange gifts and love with each other. We see people care to strangers and poor people on the street. That beautiful love should not only be for a time or a season, but for the whole year.
“It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air.” – by W.T. Ellis
What makes a day become a Christmas? Christmas quotes reveal the answer: it comes from the heart. It is the joy and belief in every person that combines and builds up the Christmas spirit.
Every myth and story about this special occasion just enhances our belief in goodness, leading to our actions. And Christmas is all about goodwill and enjoyment that people feel about each other and about the life.
“I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month.” – Quote from Harlan Miller
Why are we so happy and in peace during every Christmas? Because Christmas is filled with reunion, love and cheer.
Christmas comes with a wonderful spirit that distracts us from daily worries and disappointment. It is no surprise that anyone who has experienced the magical feeling of Christmas wants to carry it all year long too.
“Christmas is not as much about opening our presents as opening our hearts.” – by Janice Maeditere
One of the most familiar images in Christmas is when children get excited and open their presents. But as we grow up we come to realize that what is most precious is not the presents themselves.
It is the love and care behind those gifts that make Christmas special. Santa Claus’s gift to all of us is not something physical. It is the chance for us to open our hearts exchange love with our close ones.
“Christmas is the season of joy, of holiday greetings exchanged, of gift-giving, and of families united.” – Norman Vincent Peale
How special is Christmas? The best description for Christmas is the season of joy and happiness. Joy exists everywhere during Christmas weeks, when we reunite with our families and exchange our greetings and gifts.
“The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.” – by Burton Hills
Christmas is the season of gift. But the greatest gift of all that Christmas brings to us is its spirit. This is the occasion of family reunion, when people leave all their business outside of the home’s door.
And then, all the family gathers around in the living room, sharing their stories, hopes and support. Such peaceful atmosphere can be hardly found in any other occasions other than Christmas. And it makes Christmas such a magical time.
Heartwarming Christmas Quotes:
“At Christmas, all roads lead home.” -Short Christmas Quote by Marjorie Holmes
At Christmas, family is the most important thing in our mind. No matter how far we go and how busy we have always been, it is time to comes back home. It is when we come back to the fundamentals of our life, our beloved ones.
“One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas Day. Don’t clean it up too quickly.” – Funny Christmas Quote by Andy Rooney
Some of the most precious moments in a person’ life happen on Christmas. Even the mess created on Christmas Eve with wrapping paper all over the floor and kids running around bring happiness.
This funny Christmas quotes remind us to treasure every moment in this occasion, as they present the true meaning of life.
“Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas.” – by Peg Bracken
To enjoy the Christmas holiday to the most, it requires us to look beyond a casual time to rest. Christmas comes with a special spirit that if we can grab this chance, we can feel happy and energized.
Spend this time with our beloved ones, to do good deeds and to feel the magic of love covering the whole world. That is the true meaning of Christmas.
“Christmas isn’t a season. It’s a feeling.” – by Edna Ferber
“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” – by Charles Dickens
“Christmas is not a date. It is a state of mind.” – by Mary Ellen Chase
“Let’s be naughty and save Santa the trip. ” – by Gary Allan
“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. ” – by Norman Vincent Peale
“And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.” – by Jesus Christ
“Christmas is joy, religious joy, an inner joy of light and peace.” – by Pope Francis
“Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.”
“Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing but of reflection.” – by Winston Churchill
“Happiness is everywhere our hands are busy with many tasks as carols fill the air.” – by Shirley Sallay
Check more quotes about Christmas below
“Christmas is the day that holds all time together.” – by Alexander Smith
“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love!” – by Hamilton Wright Mabie
“Christmas is most truly Christmas when we celebrate it by giving the light of love to those who need it most.” – Christmas Quote from Ruth Carter Stapleton
“The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.” – by Burton Hillis
“I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph.” – by Shirley Temple
“Christmas day is a day of joy and charity. May God make you very rich in both.” – Heartwarming Christmas Quote by Phillips Brooks.
“Probably the reason we all go so haywire at Christmas time with the endless unrestrained and often silly buying of gifts is that we don’t quite know how to put our love into words.” – by Harlan Miller
“For centuries men have kept an appointment with Christmas. Christmas means fellowship, feasting, giving and receiving, a time of good cheer, home.” – by W. J. Tucker
“Mankind is a great, an immense family. This is proved by what we feel in our hearts at Christmas.” – Famous Christmas Quotes by Pope John XXIII
“I don’t think Christmas is necessarily about things. It’s about being good to one another, it’s about the Christian ethic, it’s about kindness.” – by Carrie Fisher
“Christmas is a time when everybody wants his past forgotten and his present remembered.” – by Phyllis Diller
You may also like these Famous Christmas Quotes
“Love the giver more than the gift.” – by Brigham Young
“Christmas is forever, not for just one day,for loving, sharing, giving, are not to put away like bells and lights and tinsel, in some box upon a shelf.The good you do for others is good you do yourself.” – by Norman Wesley
“Bless us Lord, this Christmas, with quietness of mind; Teach us to be patient and always to be kind.” – Quoted by Helen Steiner Rice.
“November is auspicious in so many parts of the country: the rice harvest is already in, the weather starts to cool, and the festive glow which precedes Christmas has began to brighten the landscape. “
“Want to keep Christ in Christmas? Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you.” – by Steve Maraboli
“Teacher says every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.” – Shor Christmas Quotes by Zuzu Bailey
“What I don’t like about office Christmas parties is looking for a job the next day. ” – by Phyllis Diller
“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.” – by Laura Ingalls Wilder
“I’m in love, I’m in Love, I’m on love, and I don’t care who knows it!” – by Buddy the Elf
“May you never be too grown up to search the skies on Christmas Eve.”
“Santa Claus has the right idea. Visit people only once a year.” – by Victor Borge
“I once bought my kids a set of batteries for Christmas with a note saying: “Toys not included!” – Quote by Bernard Manning
Summary about Christmas Quotes:
Christmas is more than myths, gifts and traditions. It is a state of mind that celebrates life and wants to implement goodwill that is the true soul of Christmas.
And the most important wish is that we can carry the Christmas spirit to the whole year long, all celebration and appreciation for life.
How this traditionally soft skill yields hard, bottom-line results for organizations big and small
By Maria Ross
It’s easy to be cynical these days. The 24/7 news cycle brings us images and extreme headlines about tragedies almost as soon as they occur. If you listen to the rhetoric, it’s easy to believe violence, sexism, ageism, xenophobia and prejudice are winning the day.
We all know empathy is the right thing to do, but empathy is not just good for the world (and our own sanity). It can also bring a competitive advantage in business. Our ability to see the world from the perspective of others is one of the most crucial tools in our business toolbox. So, let’s walk through the business benefits of empathy and acting with compassion.
1. Increased sales, loyalty and referrals.
Every skilled salesperson knows that the key to closing sales is anticipating your customers’ needs and demonstrating how your product or service will suit their needs best. Truly understanding your customers’ needs means reflecting on their fears, desires, pain points and whatever keeps them up at night. If your sales team doesn’t intimately understand your customers’ lives, how can you expect them to explain how your products or services fit their lives? This is the power of empathy in business.
Going beyond increased sales though, what’s even more valuable are loyal customers and strong referrals. To see repeat customers and customers transformed into super fans, make sure this empathy mindset enlivens the culture of your entire organization from customer service to the accounting department.
One industry where empathy clearly counts is in the ultra-competitive airline industry. Any company that can make flying more convenient and pleasant scores points with perpetually frustrated passengers. By now, we’re all familiar with this string of PR blunders from United Airlines demonstrating the failure of empathy on a corporate level. But you may be less familiar with Ryanair’s empathy success. After implementing their “Always Getting Better” program, which many customer annoyances like hidden charges,un-allocated seating and carry-on baggage restrictions, Ryanair saw a net profit increase from €867 million to €1.24 billion (US$1.39 billion). CEO Michael O’Leary famously remarked, “If I’d only known being nice to customers was going to work so well, I’d have started many years ago.”
Who knew being nice could be so profitable?
2. Accelerated productivity and innovation
When customers perceive your company as empathetic, you will see sales increase, but wait…there’s more. Employees with strong empathy skills are also more productive and innovative. This means if you want to increase efficiency and expand the number of problems you can solve for customers, you want to hire employees with strong “soft skills.”
Google knows this well. Since the company began in 1998, Google focused on hiring the best computer scientists, software engineers, analysts and highly skilled STEM professionals. But when it comes to putting together successful teams, it turns out that soft skills rule. Project Aristotle, a study released by Google in 2017, showed that the company’s most important new ideas came from B-teams comprised of employees exhibiting a wide range of skills including: equality, generosity, curiosity toward others’ ideas, empathy and emotional intelligence. These teams may not have had the top scientists, but when team members feel confident speaking up and know they are being heard, great ideas are born.
3. Greater competitive advantage and market value.
The highest performing companies also top the list of the Most Empathetic Companies. This might seem surprising at first: Don’t you have to be cutthroat and willing to win at any cost to be competitive in this global, capitalist economy? Well, if you’ve been paying attention, the answer will be obvious. In fact, statistics show that empathy is more important to business success than it has ever been.
According to the 2016 Empathy Index, a report published by UK consulting firm The Empathy Business that seeks to analyze the internal culture of 170 companies on major financial indexes, “The top 10 companies (on the 2015 list)…increased in value more than twice as much as the bottom 10 and generated 50 percent more earnings (defined by market capitalization).”
How’s that for competitive advantage?
4. Expanded engagement and collaboration.
So if the best managers and team members express empathy and a willingness to act compassionately toward others, it stands to reason that companies with cultures that encourage empathy would attract highly engaged individuals. And that’s just what the data show. Empathetic companies also have better retention and higher morale among employees.
This makes a lot of sense when you consider what today’s workers value. Good, high-performing individuals have lots of employment choices. Among other things, the gig economy and access to technology have created opportunities beyond traditional corporate work. So, it’s time to think beyond traditional corporate benefits.
What skilled workers are demanding is a different kind of working experience: they want their voices — and their workplace requirements — to be heard. That’s bad news for companies that aren’t considering company culture as they look toward future growth. Fortunately, making small, subtle shifts toward improving empathy in the culture can make a big difference.
Small changes can yield big results.
All of these business benefits sound great, but none of them are likely to make any company empathetic. To really make a change, the first step is to WANT to understand where others are coming from. When you focus on wanting to understand your colleagues, you can cultivate empathy in your own sphere of influence, which can have a big impact on your team, brand and the world.
Here are some key areas to consider as you plan ahead:
“Employee of the month” awards do not constitute an empathetic environment. When we feel that others value our contributions, we feel respected. While trying to create an empathetic environment from the top down is unlikely to work, letting workers know, through word and deed, their work is valuable should be a daily focus.
Respect makes workers more engaged. There is an intangible value to feeling respected by one’s colleagues and superiors. We’re more likely to take personal responsibility and our desire not to lose the respect of others means we’ll be more engaged. Listen closely to how employees talk about their work. Ask them what would make their jobs easier and make them feel heard.
Motivate based on individual needs. In Daniel Pink’s bestselling book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, he points out that financial rewards are not universally enticing. Consider how your company rewards colleagues. How much better would things be if we asked our team members what they would like? Use empathy to see things from their point of view and act accordingly.
Consider ways to flip the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as they want done unto them.” This rule goes for every stakeholder involved in your organization from investors to board members to customer service representatives to clients. This is the mantra of the empathy mindset. Get out of your own head. Engage in more active listening and curious conversation to unlock what matters most to them.
As you reflect on the business benefits of creating a more empathetic company, you may have noticed the irony of compelling you to set aside your interests by showing that it’s actually in your interest to do so. Of course, in an ideal world, the drive to do the right thing would be motivation enough. But because motivation is unique to each individual — and organization — presenting a menu of reasons to embrace empathy is a good idea. In my own career, I have personally witnessed leaders and marketers who have embraced empathy purely for PR motives, but found themselves personally transformed — and left with a desire to do more good for the right reasons. Sometimes, initially speaking to selfish motives can help people and organizations transform “from the outside in,” and end up making the world a more empathetic place.
from: entrepreneur.com / modified (clarification through shortening) by luciditySBM.com
We get it. You are grinding, day-in and day-out, to do what is best for your company. You are hyper- focused on your numbers, have a close eye on your competitors and provide good service to your growing customer base. On paper, it seems like you’re doing all the right things. But are you customer-obsessed?
Many companies aren’t placing enough emphasis on the most critical driver of success –their customers (coming in at #2, just behind your employees –your most valuable assets). To do business right, you need to not only be customer-centric, but customer-obsessed.
What does customer-obsession mean?
Every single thing you do, from conception through execution, centers around the customers’ needs and wants – and this mentality is built into your core values (Think: Zappos) Every person in your organization has a deep understanding of who their customers are and why our solutions matter to them specifically (Think: Patagonia) Working with you is easy and seamless throughout every step of the customer journey (Think: JetBlue) Why does customer-obsession matter?
You have competitors and they are currently knocking on your customers’ doors. In this digital age of social networking and content sharing, your customers can find your competitors easily.
Customers have a louder voice than ever before. They are not only sharing their experiences on brands’ websites, Facebook, and other social sites, they are impacting the purchasing decisions their peers make. In fact, in a recent study from Moz.com, shows that online reviews impact close to 70% of people’s purchasing decisions.
Are you customer obsessed?
Be honest. In fact, go ahead and give your company a grade, A through F, on how customer obsessed you really are.
You may think you focus on your customers, but the real question is – are you obsessed with them? Are you making their experiences remarkable? In this highly competitive market, it is critical that you stand out above the rest. Brand loyalty isn’t the same as it used to be. Your customers have more choices than ever before, and they aren’t afraid to try new things if their needs aren’t being met 66% of consumers who switch bands do so because of a poor customer experience.
Here are 5 things you must do to become customer-obsessed.
This is about getting outside of your comfort zone and asking the tough questions. Sit down with your team and ask them the same question that we are asking you – are we customer obsessed?
Also explore these questions:
1 – RESET
What are we doing really well when it comes to the customer experience? What could we be doing better, across every department, to be more focused on the customer’s experience? What are our competitors doing better than us? How do we make our customer’s experience not just great, but remarkable? This type of reset is critical to gauge where you are and where you need to be – and it starts with slowing down, zooming out, and challenging yourself and your team to be better and be MORE for your customers.
2 – LISTEN
If we were to guess, we would say your company deploys some sort of customer feedback survey Surveys are a good way to gauge customer satisfaction – but it’s not enough. You have to dig deeper and actually LISTEN to what they have to say. This will allow you to better understand who your customers are and have insight on their motivation and what they consider important.
Pick up the phone and call your customers – and commit to being present and actively listening. Engage in a real conversation. Ask them the tough questions: What they like or dislike about working with you? What could your company do better to meet their needs?
“A remarkable customer experience starts with heart, intuition, curiosity, play, guts, taste. You won’t find any of it in a survey.” – Jeff Bezos
3 – IMPLEMENT
Take your customers’ feedback and turn it into action. Commit to learning from them and strive to meet their needs by providing what they are looking for and more. The insight we gather from our customers is our blueprint to success and roadmap for innovation.
4 – MAKE IT REMARKABLE
The standard for most companies is to simply meet customers’ expectations – that is not good enough. To stand out, we have to EXCEED our customers’ expectations – over promise AND over deliver. In order to make our customers’ experiences working with us truly remarkable, we need to set new standards. Here are things you can do:
Show Gratitude: Think about it – your customers are the ones that keep your lights on. They determine whether or not you are going to have a successful year. They help you provide for your family. Without your customers, your business is nothing. It only makes sense for you to show gratitude to them in every interaction you have. Pick up the phone and call them. Thank them for their time and their commitment to your company. Write a hand written thank you note. These seemingly small gestures move mountains in building deeper, stronger connections. Recommend: Share with your customers your favorite businesses, services, or products you think they would appreciate. Build your community by making connections with your customers and other businesses you work with. This is a small world – make it even smaller. Participate: Show your customers you value them by giving them your time. Be a part of their world and connect on what is most important to them. Attend a community event that is important to them. Ask them how their family is doing, how their weekend was, what they enjoy doing. Taking the time to participate in their world will undoubtedly go a long way. Educate: As humans, it is natural for us to want to learn and grow. Share your knowledge and experience with your customers by recommending a book, sharing an article, or inviting them to an industry event.
5 – EVALUATE
How will we know if we are customer-obsessed? What does “good” look like? Yes, you can measure success in some tangible, quantifiable ways (think: NPS score, customer retention, participation, lifetime value) and that is important. Make your gathering of qualitative insights just as important. This means taking the time to measure our progress along the way – gather customers’ thoughts based on actual conversations, distilling those discussions into common trends, and creating an action plan for improvement.
Here are a few key steps to help you navigate this process:
Establish a regular cadence for collecting feedback from across the company (quantitative and qualitative) Assign a category to each piece of feedback (i.e. product/service quality, customer service, competitive insight, etc.) Analyze the feedback by category and identify key trends Prioritize trends across categories Begin mapping action plans and owners for the top priorities Remember, no matter how good we think we are, there is always room for better. Make sure you find those moments on your journey to truly slow down, so you can move more purposefully and swiftly to flawlessly execute. Follow these steps, and you will never lose sight of your customer.
We all know that excessive stress is a health hazard. What is less talked about are the effects of burnout on business performance. Stress makes people nearly three times as likely to leave their jobs, temporarily impairs strategic thinking, and dulls creative abilities. Burnout, then, is a threat to your bottom line, one that costs the U.S. more than $300 billion a year in absenteeism, turnover, diminished productivity, and medical, legal, and insurance costs.
The more companies realize this, the more the workplace wellness sector grows. But individual-level perks like onsite gyms and nap rooms are not the answer to our problem. In a recent study, researchers found that while there is an expectation that wellness programs will reduce health care spending and absenteeism within a year or two, they often do not. This study adds to the growing body of work suggesting that such programs are not as effective as we think.
Instead, employers need to shift to organization-level approaches for reducing stress at work, ones that foster employee well-being while simultaneously improving business performance. While this may seem unrealistic, it’s not. Over a decade of experience as a clinical psychologist and leadership consultant has taught me that burnout prevention requires reducing workplace stress while also upping employee engagement. Here’s how to do both.
Create a Work Environment That Decreases Stress
When employees are put in a high-stress situation — whether from unclear expectations, unreasonable deadlines, or a hectic workspace — they are at risk of moving into fight-or-flight mode. This is something that happens to our bodies when we feel threatened. The primal, more emotional, parts of our brains take over, and our ability to think long term, strategize, and innovate decreases. If we stay in this mode too long, eventually, we get burned out. To counter this effect, you need to build a secure work environment and incorporate stress reduction habits into your team’s daily workflows.
Increase psychological safety. If your employees perceive your workplace as a threat, then you cannot build the trust your team needs to collaborate and innovate effectively. In her book, The Fearless Organization, Amy Edmondson describes three steps you can take to build psychological safety. First, make your expectations obvious by giving your employees clear goals. Second, make sure everyone feels like their voices are heard, and that everyone knows that you want their voices to be heard. You can do this by inviting people to speak up in meetings and conducting brainstorming sessions more than you impose top-down decisions. Third, develop a work environment that is both challenging and unthreatening. Let people know it’s okay to fail. Recognize team members who think outside the box, and ask your employees for feedback regularly to show you’re all in it together.
Build regular break times into the workday. The human brain can focus for around 90-120 minutes before it needs to rest. That’s why you should encourage your employees to step away from their desks and mentally disengage from challenging tasks every couple of hours. Suggest they go for a short walk (especially if they have been in a series of long meetings), send out calendar invites reminding them to take breaks, and try to lead by example. Letting their minds rest and moving their bodies will provide your team with the mental space they need to perform well consistently.
Encourage the use of private workspaceswhen team members need to focus. Open offices are prone to distractions, increasing stress and decreasing productivity. There is sometimes a built-in expectation that employees must always be available for impromptu meetings and discussions as a result of the office layout. If you don’t have private workspaces where employees can go to focus or decompress, try using signals like “do not disturb” signs when needed, or scheduling “quiet hours” when people can work.
Set boundaries around time outside of work. Teams that are not all in one location might need to work outside of traditional hours from time to time. However, the blurring of work and personal time is a significant source of job stress. A study found that it is not just answering emails that increases employees’ anxiety — it is also the expectation that they will be available to do so outside of work hours. To combat this, set clear guidelines and follow them. Send emails and make calls after hours only when it’s urgent — and set the bar very high.
Look into flexible work policies. If you want a highly adaptive team, then create an adaptable work environment. Give your employees flexibility by allowing them to work staggered hours, taking into account their varying needs. Hold one-on-one meetings to understand those needs and find alternative arrangements for people who are struggling with work-life balance.
Build Employee Engagement
Decades of data have confirmed that higher employee engagement, or the strength of the mental and emotional connection an employee feels toward their workplace, has many positive benefits — including reduced stress, improved health and job satisfaction, as well as increased productivity, job retention, and profitability.
Be transparent. If your team members are confused about how their work connects to and serves both the short- and long-term company goals, they will naturally become more stressed and less productive — especially in times of uncertainty. Part of your job is to help them see the big picture, or the role they play in helping the company achieve its larger goals. While you may not be able to share everything with your team, you can provide them with the information they need to understand how their work is contributing to the company’s mission. If they are curious about something that you are unable to share, be transparent about why. You want to reduce the stress that accompanies ambiguity. One study of 2.5 million teams found that, when managers communicated daily with their direct reports, employees were three times as likely to be engaged than when their managers did not communicate regularly with them. Still, only 40% of employees say they are well-informed about their company’s strategic goals.
Make sure people are in the right roles. If your team members loathe doing their jobs, then they are naturally going to be less engaged. To ensure that their talents and strengths are aligned with the expectations and responsibilities of their roles, check in with each of your direct reports regularly. These conversations don’t need to be formal — talk to them about their passions, interests, and goals. Use the information you gather to assign projects they will find meaningful, and follow up to ensure they have the tools they need to succeed.
Give as much autonomy as you can. When possible, give your team control over how they manage their projects. Employees are 43% less likely to experience high levels of burnout when they have a choice in deciding what tasks to do, when to do them, and how much time to spend on each. To make sure someone is ready to work independently, one researcher suggests asking them to shadow you on a task or project first, and then allowing them to practice under your supervision. During this time you can give them feedback and gauge when they will be ready to work on their own.
Demonstrate a commitment to your employee’s growth and progression. Don’t hold on too tightly to your talent. While most people will not be promoted every year or two, they do need to feel like you are providing them with steady growth and learning opportunities. Sometimes this might even mean supporting internal mobility. Give people the chance to move around, or move on, if it’s the right next step for their careers. Your commitment to their growth will deepen the sense of trust between you and them.
Create a culture of recognition. Publicly recognizing the hard work and contributions of team members decreases feelings of stress and increases feelings of connection and belonging. Research has shown that companies with high-recognition cultures perform better and have less turnover than those that don’t. This is, perhaps, because support and recognition make it easier for people to cope with the demands of work by showing them that their efforts are valued. Team meetings are a great time to call out exceptional performance. Unexpected gestures that communicate sincere appreciation can also be effective. If your employee closes a new client deal, for example, congratulate them publicly. Deloitte adds that if you can create a culture in which peers recognize and show gratitude to one another, your employees are more likely to stay happy and satisfied in their roles.
Deepen engagement further by instilling a sense of purpose. If the only thing motivating your team to go to work is a paycheck, their performance will suffer more than those who feel a sense of purpose in what they do. When employees connect the impact of their work back to the real world, daily tasks, which once seemed tedious, gain meaning. Start by making purpose a part of your business plan. Even if it’s not declared in your mission statement, help your team understand by showing them the impact their work has both within the company, in other departments, as well as outside the organization, on society. You should also share your purpose during recruitment, and search for candidates that support it.
Burnout, and the consequences it reaps when unacknowledged, are detrimental to employee well-being and business performance. To battle this growing epidemic and create healthier work environments, leaders need to commit to changing what “workplace wellness” looks like. Let these steps guide you. If you are successful, you will not just reduce worker stress. You will create a workforce with happier, more productive employees, and be a better business for it.
Is your workplace positive and loving? Does the question make you flinch? The word love is reserved for the private space. It is a taboo at work. But that doesn’t mean that there’s no love in the workplace! We call it differently, we express it differently than at home, but all positive organizations practice love. Moreover, fresh research shows that employees who feel love perform better.
In my work as a consultant, coach, and trainer in organizations I’ve always enjoyed the thought that I was spreading love while selling it as business. Helping people to practice dialogue; to respect differences and diversity, to listen to each other and support each other is another way of helping them to practice love.
Over the years, my definition of love developed into: Love is being ready, willing and able to let go of your ego for the benefit of the other.
Building your capacity for love
Yes, your ego protects you and that’s important. It’s a crucial part of loving yourself. When you love yourself, you feel strong and confident, and you may be calm, open, and accepting of what the world and the workplace throw at you. When you’ve worked on your fears, limiting beliefs, harsh inner critical voices, you can feel safe and strong enough to lift (some of) that ego and show up as who you are: authentic and sometimes vulnerable. A genuine human being.
It is not until then that you can be ready, willing and able to let go, and practice love for others. That’s why I often use personal exercises in my workshops, and my Positive Culture book has a whole part dedicated to personal development. We cannot develop a positive culture without being aware of our own limitations. We cannot be the change we want to see in others without love.
Personal development is not expected in culture projects, I know. Just like the word Love is “not done” at work. But it makes all the difference. After some time, if an organization wanted to hire me for a culture project, I made it a condition for leaders to be open to personal coaching if needed. That’s because it happened too often that a CEO or other senior executive wasn’t ready, able, and willing to practice the culture they preached. That undermines any change. That entices people to close themselves off, instead of open up to others, learning, and change.
Working with love
The average manager or leader may not focus on building connection and collaboration, even though it’s one of the four ingredients of a positive culture.
Ryan Niemiec shares a typical conversation with a manager in Psychology Today: Manager: “But what about love? There’s no place for love in the workplace. This stuff has its limits, right? Ryan: “Is it not relevant to express warmth and care to your coworkers? To show support and genuineness when a co-worker is upset? To offer the practice of careful listening to customers and thoughtful, mindful speech with your boss?” These are examples of love.
“Love is believing that everyone’s perspective adds to the betterment of all, especially if I strongly disagree with some of those perspectives,” describes Rich Schaeff. “Love is reaching out to understand those different than I in pursuit of strengthening the bond between all people.”
What’s love got to do with it?
In the study, ”What’s Love Got to Do With It?: The Influence of a Culture of Companionate Love in the Long-term Care Setting”, Wharton professors Sigal Barsade and Olivia A. O’Neill, surveyed 185 employees, 108 patients, and 42 patient family members at two points in time, 16 months apart, at a healthcare facility.
Employees who felt they worked in a loving, caring culture reported higher levels of satisfaction and teamwork. They showed up to work more often. Their research also demonstrated that this type of culture related directly to client outcomes. Barsade writes: “These findings hold true across industries. We conducted a follow-up study, surveying 3,201 employees in seven different industries from financial services to real estate and the results were the same. People who worked in a culture where they felt free to express affection, tenderness, caring and compassion for one another, were more satisfied with their jobs, committed to the organization, and accountable for their performance.”
Whole Foods Market has a set of management principles that begin with “Love”. Zappos states: “We are more than a team though. We are a family. We watch out for each other, care for each other and go above and beyond for each other”. (Here‘s their article in Harvard Business Review)
Imagine what it feels like to have your work and existence reaffirmed by your leaders and co-workers, and to be allowed to be who you are at work? It’s the basis of a positive culture, as I describe in my book on Positive Culture.
I love this quote from lawyer, filmmaker, and interfaith leader, Valerie Kauer: “Love is not a passing feeling; it is an act of will. It is the choice to extend our will for the flourishing of others and ourselves. When we pour love in places where there is fear and rage, we can transform an encounter, a relationship, a culture, a country. Love becomes revolutionary.” (Shared by Ellen McGirt in Fortune).
A positive culture begins with personal development and healthy self-love. Next, it’s possible to respect, hear, see, acknowledge and support others. Then, more others will open up to co-workers, to learning, to collaboration, to performing at their best.
* How much love can you handle? * What’s normal in your current culture? What’s the love quotient? How many conflicting opinions and information can it hold without violence, but with respectful attention?
Why did Scott keep the card? When I asked him, he struggled to put it into words, he simply said that the card meant a lot to him and it was something he felt proud of. This example illustrates the power of giving thanks!
Attitude of Gratitude
Growing up my mother reinforced in me the power that can come when you have an attitude of gratitude. Not a week would go by that I wouldn’t see her at her desk writing handwritten thank you cards.
We would have what we called, “Family Home Evenings,” where she would teach my siblings and I about the importance of writing thank you cards and then assign us to write five each. She worked hard to teach us an attitude of gratitude. This is also an attitude that can have a powerful impact in our organizations and drive employee engagement.
Appreciated Employees = Engaged Employees
In fact, as reported by the Harvard Business Review in 2012 the American Psychological Association surveyed 1,700 employees and found out that more than half were intending to search for new jobs because they felt underappreciated.
Charles Schwab said this about growing his organization and his people, “The way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement.” As leaders, we can oftentimes be moving so quick that we don’t stop to say, “thank you,” and when we fail to give thanks we fail to acknowledge, uplift, and appreciate those around us.
A simple thanks can make an employee’s day and drive powerful business results.
3 Ways to Give More Impactful Thanks
1. Make It Specific
Don’t just give thanks for thanks sake, but make the thanks specific to what action they did, what result they accomplished, or what behavior they exemplified that you appreciated.
Naturally, you aren’t probably going to thank someone for coming to work on time, that is an expectation, but if someone does go above and beyond to help deliver a specific result, that is definitely something you would want to praise.
You can use gratitude strategically as you give thanks for the behaviors and results you want people to deliver time and time again.
2. Make it meaningful, not necessarily monetary
One of the traps we can fall into as leaders is feeling that we need to give a financial, monetary incentive, or bonus anytime someone does something good. While monetary thanks is appropriate occasionally, thanks in general is also very impactful as people feel noticed and appreciated.
You can make it meaningful by how you deliver thanks, which can range from delivering it in a personal meeting, in a phone call, in a handwritten note, or in a public email or meeting, etc.
3. Be consistent, set aside “thankful time” every week
Employees will expect that a leader will give thanks and praise when a significant accomplishment, project, sale, or result is delivered–what they won’t expect is when thanks is given along the way at “unexpected” intervals.
This is where leaders can create a powerful experience by being consistent and creating a different experience for their employees. Some of the most impactful leaders I have met, and yes, this includes my mother, set aside time every week for a few minutes where they sit down and write out thank you cards or send emails to those who have impacted them that week.
As leaders give specific, meaningful, and consistent thanks to their employees, loyalty will go up, results will improve, and more importantly, lives will be impacted–lives like Scott who I don’t think will ever throw away the thank you card he received years ago.
Do your staff members really trust you? According to a survey by Harvard Business Review, 58 percent of employeeswould trust a stranger rather than their own boss. One way to build trust with your employees is to be genuine and honest in the workplace. These attributes will allow you to create a culture that drives business growth and fosters collaboration.
Are White Lies Acceptable?
Most companies have core values like honesty and integrity. Yet, only a few live up to the claims. About 60 percent of adults tell at least one lie during a typical 10-minute conversation. Your employees are no exception.
White lies, or small lies, are common in the business world. Employers and employees alike tell lies to motivate others to work harder or take action toward a goal. For example, you may tell your employees that a customer needs to have a project delivered within three business days. That isn’t necessarily true, but you want them to work faster and stop wasting time.
The problem is that dishonesty can cost you big. In the above scenario, your employees may feel pressured and make mistakes that affect the entire project; this can negatively impact the customer experience and hurt your brand. Why not tell them the truth in the first place? Let your employees know that you’re not fully satisfied with their performance and that they’re wasting too much time chatting or surfing the Internet. Explain to them how this kind of behavior can affect the organization as a whole.
Importance of Honesty in Business
Although white lies are socially acceptable, they can have a cumulative effect and hurt your business. Dishonesty affects organizational culture, teamwork, management, communication and employee relationships. Additionally, telling small lies – even if they are well-intentioned – makes it easier to lie more often, leading to a vicious cycle. This can hurt your business reputation and branding efforts, fuel distrust among employees and disrupt their performance.
Remember the old saying, “Honesty is the best policy?” It applies to business, too. Honesty and integrity are essential for creating a healthy workplace. Employees who are stressed by dishonesty are more likely to quit their jobs, which in turn can affect your turnover rate and make it harder to attract talent.
Being honest in the workplace fosters open communication and constructive feedback. Let’s say that one of your employees does a mediocre job, but his peers keep praising him. Perhaps they don’t want to hurt his feelings or ruin the relationship. They’re not doing him any good, though. Their honest feedback would help him overcome his shortcomings and deliver better quality work.
How to Demonstrate Honesty
Whether you’re a business owner or employee, it’s important that you demonstrate honesty and integrity in the workplace. First of all, keep your commitments and don’t make promises you can’t keep. For example, if you miss a deadline, don’t shift the blame around. Take responsibility for what happened and make sure it doesn’t become a habit; come up with a plan to remedy the situation and stick to it.
Integrity is at the core of honesty and trust. Be a role model for your team by following through on your decisions, treating everyone the same and practicing what you preach. Address issues in a timely manner instead of telling your team members that they have nothing to worry about. Always tell the truth rather than sugarcoating it.
Reward your employees for being open. If something goes wrong, seek solutions rather than placing blame. Let your team know when they’re doing a good job and when they’re doing something wrong. Back up with statements with hard facts and explain your point of view. Be known as the kind of person that people can trust and rely on in any situation.
SHOW LOVE FOR YOUR CLIENTS INSTEAD OF YOUR PRODUCTS
By Team Tony
Many can claim they have the secret formula to business success, but one truth always remains: focus on your clients (or customers) and you are destined to win. Oftentimes, we are so focused on delivering a great product that we neglect what’s really important: our core customer. What good is a product or service if there is no one there to buy? If your business is suffering or if you haven’t achieved the level of success you want, it’s time to ask yourself: “How do I love my customers more?” Your customer’s life is your business life. Get to know them well so you can deliver customer love that keeps them loyal and turns them into raving fans of your company. So how do you love your clients? Make it all about them. When you focus on your clients’ needs, you will most certainly succeed. Here are Tony’s steps to “falling in love” with your client:
FORGET ABOUT YOUR PRODUCT OR SERVICE
FIND OUT WHAT YOUR CLIENTS WANT/NEED
FOCUS ON THEIR NEEDS Listen to Tony explain this in his own words below:
SHOW CUSTOMER LOVE BY FORGETTING ABOUT YOUR PRODUCT OR SERVICE To be a disruptor in your field, stop focusing on yourself. Success isn’t about falling in love with your products or services – it’s about focusing entirely on showing love for your clients. Customer needs change over time and when you love your products or services too much, you won’t be flexible enough to change what you offer to fit your market. When you stay flexible, you can turn problems into opportunities and always ensure you know the answer to “How can I love my customers more?”
LOVE YOUR CLIENTS BY FINDING OUT WHAT THEY WANT/NEED What issues are your clients facing that makes their lives more difficult or less fulfilling? What products or services do they wish were available but currently aren’t? Your ability to answer these questions with solutions shows plenty of customer love, with the added benefit of making your business talkably different. You can find out what your clients’ needs are by having them take surveys, using social media to generate conversations and doing market research.
INCREASE CUSTOMER LOVE BY FOCUSING ON THEIR NEEDS How can you uniquely address your customers’ needs with your products or services? Do you need to make tweaks to ensure they are user-friendly? Are you constantly innovating so your services evolve along with your customers’ needs? Create a cycle of constant feedback so you can always anticipate your customers’ future needs as well as address current ones. When you plan for the future, you’ll stay on top of social shifts and show customer love by addressing your customers’ needs before they are even aware of them.
You can answer the question “How can I show I love my customers?” by adhering to one rule: it’s not about you, it’s about them.