DW's Blog

Human Beings Are Meaning Making Machines

by DW Green — August 25, 2011

I recently read Finding Inner Courage by Mark Nepo. It is an excellent book and I highly recommend reading it. In the introduction Nepo writes; “What does courage mean? How we hold this question is important. It’s interesting that the question, what does it mean? in Spanish, que quire deicer?, literally translates as, what does it want to say? The difference inherent in the Spanish view is that whatever holds meaning is alive and has its own vital authority and, therefore, demands us to be in relationship to it in order to learn its meaning. English view readies us to apprehend meaning, while Spanish view readies us to experience meaning.”Okay, interesting quote you might say, but what does it have to do with business? In a word…everything. What does your business mean? What does it mean to you? What does it mean to your stakeholders? Human beings are meaning making machines. When our relationships and our experiences are meaningful, we are confident and comfortable with our decisions, our choices and this meaningful connection enhances our overall sense of happiness and well-being.A company’s “reasons to believe” are deeply rooted in its purpose and meaning.  It’s critical that a company’s purpose and meaning are fully expressed in designed experiences, culture, value offerings and communications; ultimately creating faith and trust in the brand by all its stakeholders. This comprehensive and holistic approach...
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Compelling Customer Experience

by DW Green — September 14, 2010

We believe that “customer experience” is critical, and “getting it right” is obviously key. Like first impressions, you only get one chance to get experience right. Research has shown that experience motivates consumers to action, action that either leads to repurchase or retreat – to another brand, store, etc.Consumers will continue to choose among a wide array of channels that provide the most compelling experiences relevant for a given occasion. Experiences need not be limited only to highly differentiated specialty retailers (e.g., Whole Foods Market, Central Market, Wegman’s). For many consumers Trader Joe’s and Costco deliver very compelling experiences relevant to pantry stocking and entertaining occasions.Five dimensions of compelling customer experience are:
1. Authenticity – Authentic experiences need not be sophisticated or elaborate, but they must be believable. Authentic retail experiences encourage unscripted employee/consumer interaction and frank exchange of opinions, beliefs and ideas.
2. Community – Consumers want to feel as if they are part of an experience which extends beyond the level of basic economic transaction. Ideally, consumers desire that their retailers are a reflection of their local way of life in their communities. Consumers want to believe that they are as vested in this experience as the employees themselves – part of a larger community of like-minded individuals.3. Relevance – Retai...
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Memorable Customer Service

by DW Green — September 3, 2010

Most retail businesses in America believe that they offer good customer service, but in reality, the opposite is probably more accurate. Why? With the daily demands of performing repetitive tasks in a highly productive environment, employees are often oblivious to customers and their needs. Customer service is typically given lip service by managers, who view training and developing employees to provide an exceptional customer experience as a low priority in a cost-controlling, low-margin industry. Ironically, it is just such an investment in employee training and development that can increase sales exponentially. While operational efficiencies are essential to superior corporate performance, they should not hinder the company’s ability to gain a customer service advantage.For independent retailers to gain a customer service advantage over their competitors, a serious investment of resources to train employees is critical. It is also imperative to have in place vehicles that foster communication between the customer and store, including regular interaction between top management and customers. Why is this important? Because customer service is one thing and exceptional customer service is another thing entirely. It’s not enough for every customer to be acknowledged by every employee they meet, on every shopping visit to the store. It’s not enough that every customer is sincerely greeted and thanked for their business when the transaction is complete. It’s about ...
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Involve Employees

by DW Green — August 11, 2010

Employee focus groups are one of the best ways to foster a sense of ownership and generate marketing ideas, as well as to reduce employee theft and turnover.Focus groups give employees at all levels an opportunity to provide input about how their jobs are structured. Surprisingly, a properly guided group will more than likely generate policies and procedures nearly identical to those of management. The difference? Employee ideas will meet with less resistance and be more effective because they are their ideas.The same is true for marketing ideas, with an additional advantage. Employee ideas for marketing and promotion will come with fewer of the that’s too different to try labels attached. The ideas may need to be tempered by the realities of budget, and perhaps law, but employee promotional ideas will almost always be the most fun.Focus groups are also effective team-building tools. Employees learn that they are both capable of and expected to solve problems together. Complaints are not allowed to fester unsolved. Rather, employee complaints lead to employee solutions, which increases job satisfaction. Additionally, focus groups reduce employee theft by creating such a strong sense of ownership that employees don’t want to jeopardize “their operation” by stealing from it....
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Be a Wordsmith

by DW Green — July 21, 2010

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” Mark TwainHow management refers to personnel and store activities can bolster a store’s commitment to its employees and to exceptional customer service. For instance, calling part-time employees prime-timers conveys the excellent performance expected of them, the respect due them, and their full membership on the team. Often times the sanitation or janitorial staff is taken for granted, even though their skill set and talent is critical to the stores overall success. Consider a fresh name for those very important employees like the Clean Team or Cleanness Pro’s. Try coupling the word sales with various job functions, like visual sales instead of stock and display and register sales instead of cashier or checker. Deliberately use the word selling interchangeably with customer service to reinforce that they are essentially the same thing.Have some fun with this activity!...
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Employee Development

by DW Green — June 22, 2010

In the end it is employees who make the difference. No amount of merchandising or advertising can be successful over the long run without a dedicated, knowledgeable staff. If employees don’t support your market position or advertising claims, your efforts will be undermined.To build a company that is profitable, enduring, and able to hold its own against major competitors, managers need to foster a sense of community among employees. Above all, employees must share common values. This means recruits should be judged as much on the basis of their fit with the company’s values and principles as they are on the basis of their ability to fulfill the technical requirements of the job.People should be hired into your company with the understanding that they are there to develop their potential. You must ensure that processes are in place to assess individual potential, ensure adequate training and development, evaluate performance, and provide graceful exits from the company. If employees don’t pull their weight or share the company’s values, they must move on. At a certain point, managers must be prepared to pass the baton, as well, so the company can continue to renew itself.Employee training and development is critical if your company is to remain a leading contender in the market. After all, competitors can copy prices and programs, but they cannot clone people. The costs of recruiting, training and developing the right people are high. But the co...
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Stand Taking

by DW Green — June 9, 2010

Last October I attended the Heart of Leadership workshop in Seattle. One of the exercises was stand taking. What do I stand for? What is the commitment I am? (for myself, my organization, my company, my co-workers, my customers, my family, or any area of concern in my life) The power of stand taking happens when you announce out loud to others, what you stand for. I suspect blogging about one’s stands can be as powerful. Here are a few of my stands:• I stand for love and personal growth in my shared spaces.• I stand for creating a powerful, empowering, collaborative workplace based on love, mutual respect and accountability where team members are encouraged to be themselves and make a difference in their world.• I stand for creating innovative products and services that genuinely differentiate our clients in their market space…products and services that benefit their financial bottom line.• I stand for business relationships that are based on trust, mutual respect, collaboration and meaningful dialogue.Stand taking is an ongoing process. Stand taking helps bring our inner and outer lives together. I stand for writing interesting blogs....
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Purpose And Soul

by DW Green — May 26, 2010

I was humbled to participate in a tribute to one of our clients last week. Among others, I was interviewed, on video no less, on their behalf. I was presented with a list of questions to address by the interviewer ahead of time. As I was preparing my responses, I realized, from my perspective, what the essence of my clients company truly is.To me, our client is a humanistic company. It is a company with a soul. And from the depths of their soul, the will to give uncommon service to all stakeholders flows. This company is imbued with the joy of service, to the community, to society, to the environment, to customers, and to associates.Their leadership believes in purpose and in meaning and the well being of its stakeholders—employees, customers, suppliers, business partners, and society. They facilitate, encourage, reward, recognize, and celebrate their employees for being of service to each other, to customers and to the communities in which they serve because it’s the right thing to do.In an extremely difficult low price focused, low margin industry, with fierce competition, our client is the ultimate value creator: they create emotional value, experiential value, social value, and of course financial value.This client is an inspiration to me. My intention is to become a company of purpose, and of meaning. And like our client, a company with a soul....
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Parking Lot Pondering Moment

by DW Green — May 17, 2010

I sent an email to a business prospect last week. I thought the content of the email would make a good blog post. An edited version of the email follows.One morning last week after finishing a golf lesson, I was standing in the golf course parking lot pondering Melissa McLean Jory. Melissa is a high school classmate I connected with on facebook last year. Melissa is a nutrition expert, specializing in Celiac disease. Because of her deep knowledge and wonderful personality we hired her to speak about blogging and Celiac disease at our GPS (Green Positioning Summit) workshop last year. Melissa writes an excellent blog, and her facebook posts are very well written. Her voice, her tone, her language is positive, upbeat, informative, happy, humorous, and insightful. It resonates with me; the language makes me smile and demands my attention. Kudos Melissa! So, in this parking lot pondering moment I realized how really important voice, tone and language are to advertising and marketing communication.I then remembered a series of TV spots that we recently were asked to review. The company’s owner was the spokesperson. The spots were excellent and much like Melissa, the owner’s personality and language resonated with me. “Gee”, I thought as I was watching the spots, “I’d love to shop at ­­­________, that’s my kind of store!” Kudos, unnamed supermarket retailer!Do your marketing pieces suppo...
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by DW Green — May 10, 2010

Leadership can be thought of as a capacity to define oneself to others in a way that clarifies and expands a vision of the future. Skilled leaders accomplish great things and inspire others to grow in responsibility 
and skills. I believe that growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership. Leaders give their best in whatever job they’re doing. Any of us
 can take on leadership roles and qualities just by doing our jobs in a dependable
 way and encouraging others to share in and help us in attaining a worthwhile vision. The following leadership quotes emphasize the importance of perseverance, service, and reliability.JOHN QUINCY ADAMS:If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.KENNETH BLANCHARD:The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.RALPH NADER:I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.JOHN WELCH:Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, 
passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.JAMES BUCHANAN:The test of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there.I hope these leadership quotes have given you some important insights....
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