Achieving Business Excellence with John Spence

Fire Your Customers

Screaming into telephone.It can be very challenging for a business owner to finally admit that it’s time to…

“Fire the Customer”

Let me be very clear here, the truth of the matter is that not every customer is a good customer and if you allow a bad client/customer to stick around too long, they may just run you out of business. Of course you want to take absolutely spectacular care of your best customers and turn them into customer evangelists, but when you end up with a customer terrorist the best course of action is to politely send them to your biggest competitor! (I’m only half kidding here)

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen businesses almost go bankrupt trying to please difficult customers that drive them crazy, use of tons of resources, always complain, pay late and argue about the price. When I sit down with the business owner and make them take a good hard look at the relationship with a customer like that it usually becomes pretty obvious that they are actually losing money every time they deal with that customer. So how do you avoid getting into that kind of a situation? Here are a few ideas…

Set Clear Expectations

At the beginning of the business relationship take the time to sit down with your new client and be exceedingly clear about how the relationship will work. Explain to them specifically what you promise to deliver, how your pricing is structured, the best ways for you to communicate with each other, what to do if there’s a problem – and exactly what you expect from them as well. Put it all on the table, leave nothing to chance, don’t assume anything. It’s one of my absolute favorite business quotes as it relates to accountability inside of an organization – and creating accountability with your clients:

“Ambiguity Breeds Mediocrity”

If you failed to do this at the beginning of the relationship, try to have this conversation the minute you start to feel uncomfortable and think that the relationship might be headed south. If at all possible you want to have this conversation while there is no emotion or dysfunction in the client relationship. If you try to have this conversation after something big has gone wrong, it will just deteriorate into finger-pointing, excuses and blaming.

Develop Red Flags

Go back and look carefully at every time in the past that a client relationship has imploded, what was the pattern? What were the warning signs that things were getting off track? Did they start to become overly demanding? Did they start paying late? Did they start asking for you to do extra work and not want to pay for it? Did they call up one of your employees and scream at them? Did they make a mistake on their end and then turn around and blame you for it? These are the sort of things I’ve seen in the businesses I’ve owned and when one of these red flags popped up I immediately started examining the client relationship to either improve it or terminate it.

Fire Nice

One of the best pieces of advice I ever got about hiring people was:

Hire Mean and Fire Nice.”

In other words, be really tough in the interviewing process, push hard to make sure the person really is a good fit and truly wants to work in your company, be aggressive in explaining exactly what the job will entail so that the candidate knows precisely what they are getting into, what will be expected of them and what it will be like to work in your company. If they still want to work with you after this sort of an interview, then you likely have a good candidate. However, if things go wrong and they don’t turn out to be a superstar, be very kind, generous and fair when letting them go so that you can help to avoid ill-feelings, nasty rumors or even a lawsuit. To me, it’s exactly the same when accepting a new client. Be tough in the interviewing process (that’s right, you interview new customers just as much as they interview you as someone they want to do business with) to make sure that this potential new customer meets your “Ideal Customer Profile.” Are they the kind of person that you want to do business with? Will they be a good partner? Are they the kind of client who can bring you new customers and more business? Do they have the financial resources to pay on time and in full? Are they nice people that you would enjoy working with? If the answers to a lot of these questions are no – you are better off to recommend that they go to your top competitor and let them deal with a potentially disruptive customer.

Now I understand that sometimes you need every customer because you need cash flow, but when your business is stabilized and you’re not scrambling to bring in every single dollar you can, then I highly recommend you backup and start to pursue and accept only the best customers. I also highly recommend that as soon as a customer starts to trip a few of the red flags, you either fix it right away, or fire that customer!


I hope you found this helpful – John

How To Get More Customers

Small-Business-Owner-Regrets-and-DifficultiesRecently I’ve had several friends who own small businesses ask me how to get more customers. Since this is an issue that nearly every small business owner struggles with I decided to grab an article I wrote several years ago about “How to Win in a Local Market,” and updated with some new ideas and suggestions.

1. Figure out exactly who your key target customers are – the part of the market you want to own. The best way to do this is to look at your current customer base and identify the customers that you absolutely love, the ones that are easy to deal with, really like your products and services a lot, see value what you offer, are glad to pay the full price – the ones you wish you had lots and lots of more customers exactly like them. Then take the time to write down everything you can possibly think of that clearly identifies this specific target group or groups of customers. What is their age range? What kind of car do they drive? What do they buy from you now? What is their education level? Where do they get their information – magazines, TV shows, social media platforms, and websites? What groups do they belong to? What are their hobbies? Do they have kids? What sort of jobs do they have? (if you run a B2B company you’d want to learn everything you can about their business, who there customers are, how they are positioning their business in the market and who are their top competitors).The more you can understand about your specific target market and what motivates them – the better job you can do of serving them and capturing more customers just like them.

2. Another great way to understand what motivates your target audience – is to ask them! Again, identify a group of your very best current customers then send them a brief survey with these questions:

• What, specifically, are the top three or four reasons you chose to do business with us?

• How did you find out about our business?

• Is there anything we could do to improve your experience in doing business with our company?

You might want to add a few other questions, but the goal is to look over all of the replies and see if there is a clear pattern. If there is (and there almost always is), the answer to question number one is your brand. Your customers have just told you exactly why they buy from you, which is likely the reason that other customers like them would buy from you too, so make this the main focus of all of your advertising and marketing. The answer to question number two tells you where to invest your advertising and marketing dollars – these are the places where your target customers are looking to find out about businesses like yours. Question number three tells you exactly what you need to go back and fix right away to increase the loyalty and engagement of your current and future customers. This is extremely powerful information and unfortunately very few businesses ever take the time to actually ask their best current customers why they are customers and what they could do to increase their loyalty. It is always been one of my top business mantras: Whoever owns the voice of the customer owns the marketplace. Take this to heart!

3. Once you get all this information back, create a very detailed “Ideal Customer Profile” to help you understand and stay focused on the people who will make your business successful. Clearly describe exactly who your target customers are, why they do business with you, how they found out about you, and what you can do to continuously delight and surprise them – and then make sure everybody in your company understands that critical information and uses it to guide their daily actions and behaviors when interacting with your customers — and you use it to build your business and branding strategies.

4. Determine who your top competitors will be for those specific target customers, who is already servicing them right now? Then study those top competitors to deeply understand how they position themselves – what services they offer – what promises they make – what sort of value proposition they are currently bringing to the marketplace that is, for some important reason, winning over the customers that you want to win way from them!

5. Figure out how to clearly differentiate yourself from your competitors in a way that will raise the bar and recalibrate the customer’s expectations, and be sure that the way you differentiate yourself is of true value to your customer, as defined by the customer, not by you. Understand this: All effective strategy is just Valued Differentiation multiplied by Disciplined Execution. In other words, to win in the marketplace you must offer something that is unique, exciting and compelling – that is differentiated from all of your competitor’s offerings, hopefully in a way that is defendable so it is not easy to copy – that your customers truly value and are willing to pay money for… and then you must execute on that flawlessly each and every day for each and every customer. It’s a fairly simple and straightforward idea that is exceedingly hard to do successfully. This will be one of your biggest challenges in gaining new customers and running a sustainably successful business.

6. Create strategic alliances with people who, by the nature of the business they are in, can become wonderful sources of referrals to you. You want to get as many people like this on your team as possible… but you especially want to identify the top four or five “Opinion Leaders” who are the most influential sources of referrals for you so that you can get these very important individuals on your team and creating a constant stream of high-quality, targeted referrals that represent your Ideal Customer Profile. The best way to do this is typically to define the people who have the same general customer base as you and that you feel do an absolutely fantastic job at delivering something to these target customers – that is not in competition with what you do – or even better is a complement to what you do. For example, if you are an expert in building high quality pools, you can easily partner with many of the local builders in your area. If you make custom clothing, partner with your local dry cleaners and high-end shoe dealers. If you own an accounting firm, you want to be connected with the top bankers and financial advisors in your area. If you owned a boat dealership that sells high-end boats – partner with a local Mercedes-Benz dealer. These sort of symbiotic relationships with people who are highly connected to your target customers is priceless.

7. Also determine people that are in your direct area of competition – but that you do not want to compete against, and try to form strategic alliances with them so you can work together and be in co-opition instead of competition. For example, you own a great Italian restaurant but there is a fantastic Chinese restaurant on the other side of town, why not share gift certificates to share customers. No one is going to eat Italian or Chinese every single time they go out, so rather than competing, why not share the top customers and help each other be more successful. This is why you often see five or six furniture shops or restaurants in the same mall, they are all attracting more customers to their “destination” and thereby everybody gets more business. Can you do this with some of your friendly competitors?

8. Identify your key “Moments Of Truth” — the handful of key things that absolutely have to go right in order for you to be able to meet and exceed your customer’s expectation —  and create processes to make sure that they are delivered flawlessly — flawlessly – – – every single time. For example, although there are hundreds of interactions every time you go out to have a meal, pretty much every restaurant on the face of the word only has 4 moments of truth:

• Food quality

• Service quality

• Price / value

• Cleanliness

If a restaurant does lots and lots of other things right but messes up any one of these four items badly, they will go out of business. On the flip side, if they do these four things exceedingly well every single time, customers will overlook failures in a few other minor places. So here is the BIG question: What are the moments of truth for your business? The three, four or five things that you must do exceedingly well in order to create highly satisfied, loyal and engaged customers. Figure out those key moments of truth and make sure that everybody in your company works tirelessly to deliver them perfectly all of the time. (This is one of the most powerful business success ideas I know – if you can determine what your key moments of truth are and deliver them flawlessly you will build a strong foundation for a highly successful and profitable company. Make sure you work on this).

9. Position yourself as an expert, trusted advisor, partner and peer to your customers by continuously delivering them REAL value. If you are in a B2B Sales, add real value and assistance to your customers by helping to make them look really good and delivering massive value to their customers. The key idea here is the only person that can decide what is valuable… is the customer. It does not matter what you think is cool, exciting, fun, unique or valuable – it only matters what the customer thinks. So invest the time and energy necessary to get as close to your customers you possibly can and thoroughly understand exactly why they think that what you offer is special, unique, differentiated and valuable to them.

10. Be sure that every single time you do a superior job – and your customers tell you that you are fantastic – follow up instantly with a request for referrals. If they say “You’re awesome, thank you, thank you, thank you”… tell them that the very best way they can thank you is to tell 10 other people about how fantastic you are and recommend that they do business with you. Positive word-of-mouth referrals, are the single most valuable advertising/marketing vehicle there is on the face of the earth. A significant amount of new research indicates that 43% to 78% (that is basically half to three-quarters) of all purchasing decisions today are made by referral – word-of-mouth, social media, texting, email – people ask their friends and colleagues who they should do business with and basically “crowd source” even major purchasing decisions. You can pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy ads in every magazine in the world – but a handful of strong personal referrals from key opinion leaders will drive much more business than those as ever could. (By the way you still need to market and advertise – but word-of-mouth referrals, especially through social media, is incredibly powerful and will only get more so).

11. Keep close to your best customers. Check in with them regularly – talk with them – ask questions and LISTEN. Learn everything you can about why your best customers are loyal, and make sure you give them what they want, while them, delight them and consistently exceed their expectations (just slightly – you do not want to erode your profit margin by delivering more value than the customer actually wants). Then gently began to ask these fanatical “customer evangelists” to help you spread the word about how great your business is. If they love you and the products and services you deliver, they will be happy to tell their friends, family and colleagues about how awesome your business is. Turning your best customers into your marketing department is an incredibly powerful strategy, because no matter how good your advertising and marketing is, people will immediately believe their friends recommendations far above even your very best ad. Happy customers who tell everyone they know about how great you are can completely change the future of your business. This is another area you should focus on intently.

**I think this is a good place to make important point: For most of you reading this article the future success of your business will depend very, very, very heavily on the quality of the people that you can get, grow and keep on your team. Great products with terrible customer service = bankruptcy. Hire the best talent you can, train them constantly, treat them fairly, pay them fairly (10% above or below what they would make to do the same job at another company) and empower them to go out and take care superb of your customers. Here is an extremely important point: The customer’s experience one never exceed the employee’s experience. 

“Hire top talent – create a winning culture that engages and empowers them – focus them intently on delivering superior customer service – then hold them accountable for executing on your moments of truth every single day for every single customer.”

12. Become a student of every other business you interact with. What are they doing well that you can adapt to your business? What are they doing poorly that you want to make sure you’re not doing to your customers? Every time you buy something, go out to dinner, order something online, interact with a vendor – it should be a lesson on things that you can steal and apply in your business – or things to avoid at all costs in your business.

13. Track everything I just told you about. Don’t go on instinct or gut feelings, collect data and facts on what is working and what is not – as measured by customer satisfaction scores, profitability and other key metrics. It does not matter what you “think” is working, it only matters if your target customers think is valuable and are willing to pay money for!

14. Once you figure out what works best for you – what truly leads to gaining real market share and significantly increasing profitability – focus like crazy on that area and get better and better at it every day.

15. Lastly, never stop doing everything on this list. Markets exchange, new competitors enter the market, customer’s requirements change – and you have to be able to change with them. Things move really, really fast so agility, adaptability, continuous improvement and ALWAYS listening to your customers is essential to the long-term success of your business. What makes customer’s super happy today, might very well make them very angry next month – so you have to stay on the very cutting edge by knowing more about your customers and your market than anyone else you compete against. Although extremely difficult to do – this is not optional!

I hope you found some of these ideas helpful and that you will share them with anyone you can think of in your network that you feel would find value in them too.

As always, I look forward to your feedback, ideas, comments and suggestions. Thanks so much — John

The Key to Business Success: Customer Focus

Any of you who have been reading my blogs for a while know that I’m an absolute fanatic about customer focus, owning the voice of the customer, Moments of Truth and creating customer evangelists. This is based on years of research and study, working with hundreds of companies around the world and owning several companies of my own. It just seems to me if you get close to your customers, understand them better than your competition and deliver things that truly meet their needs at a reasonable price…you will win in the marketplace.

ag-lafleyBut don’t take my word for it, I was recently watching a wonderful video on the Big Think website where A.G. Lafley, the former CEO of P&G (Procter & Gamble), was describing their strategy to win in the marketplace.

Since Mr. Lafley is widely recognized as one of the top CEOs in America, and has been able to deliver incredible growth and success at P & G, I thought you might find his ideas interesting.

Here are some comments directly from the Big Think interview:

I believe everything starts with a deep understanding of who the customer is, what he or she wants and needs and then trying to give it to them. What experience does she want? What relationship does she want? How is she going decide whether we’re a good value? How is she going decide whether to try us and after she uses us whether to buy us on a regular basis?”

My emphasis added above, because I have long been a cheerleader for the idea of:

Whoever owns the Voice of the Customer owns the marketplace!


Here is Mr. Lafley reflecting on one of the major customer strategies that they implemented during his tenure as CEO:

“We used to talk a lot about winning the consumer moments of truth. We wanted you to have a good purchasing experience. We wanted you to have a good usage experience. We wanted you to have a good after usage experience. And ultimately we were looking for loyal consumers who promoted our brands to their family, their friends, you know, people in the neighborhood. Okay, that was our whole business model.”

One of the main things you learn from listening to your customers is their critical Moments of Truth. The three, four or five things you must do to create highly engaged, satisfied and loyal customers who become customer evangelists for your products and/or services. Once you understand these essential interactions, the Moments of Truth, then you must build processes, systems and training programs around them to ensure that they are delivered flawlessly for each and every customer, each and every time.

Here are some great comments on why he felt some of the company’s advertising was not effective:

“Frankly in my view there were a lot of pretty unsuccessful commercials. And the reason they were unsuccessful is they really didn’t have a customer or a consumer in mind. You know, I don’t feel like they put the consumer first. I don’t feel like they made a clear promise to that consumer. I don’t feel like they created a relationship with that consumer or had a dialog with that consumer.”

And lastly he touched on something that has long been one of my major pieces of advice to businesses I work with: Don’t worry about the competition, worry about having really, really happy customers and everything else will take care of itself.

Here’s how Mr. Lafley explained that same idea:

“You know, I guarantee you if we won with consumers – if we won with consumers and consumers loved our brand and product line, the financial results would come eventually. Always did.”

I feel awkward quoting so much from the Big Think interview, but I simply wanted you to hear exactly what one of the leading CEOs in the world had to say about the importance of getting close to your customer, listening to your customer and then delivering exactly what your customer has told you they want to buy from you. Now, I know the customer isn’t always right, and sometimes you have to innovate and anticipate based on their feedback, but I do know that at the end of the day the customer is the person who pays ALL the bills, so it’s worth taking a significant amount of time and money to listen to them carefully.

If you’d like to watch the interview, click on the logo  below which will link directly to the Big Think website with the A.G. Lafley video already queued up, and if you haven’t watched the videos on Big Think you’re going to be very pleased with the rich content and excellent interviews on their site.

I hope you found this blog of value and that you share it with your network – thanks – John


Free eBook Link for Building and Sustaining a Winning Culture by John Spence

Five Fundamentals of Business Success

I just taught a series of business success seminars to about 300 entrepreneurs in Amsterdam and wanted to send a super special “Thank You” video to my hosts and the attendees on what I felt were a few of the MOST important things to focus on in order to run a highly successful organization. Once I finished the video I thought the information was so powerful that I decided to post it here on my blog for all of my followers to benefit from. I truly hope you find this video of great value and I challenge you to take at least one or two key ideas and begin implementing them right away.

Free eBook Link for Building and Sustaining a Winning Culture by John Spence

The Most Important Thing In Business


I was talking to a good friend of mine, Bob Fetterman, who is the manager of the performing arts center at our local college, when he turned me and said, “In one word, what is the most important thing in business?”

I thought about it for just a few seconds and then confidently answer, “Talent.” Bob looked back at me and said, “It’s the same in the theater.”

The truth of the matter is it’s the same in just about every organization. If you’ve done a truly good job of finding highly talented people you have built the foundation for a sustainably successful organization. Because no matter what’s wrong in your business; if you have great people they can figure out a way to fix it. On the other side of the coin, no matter what’s wrong in your business, if you have bad people they will make it worse.

In the class I teach on strategy at Wharton I tell my students that we are entering an era where there is very little opportunity to create sustainable competitive advantage. Your competitor can copy your products, they can put a location right across the street, they can spend ten times what you do on marketing, they can drop their price, they can offer free shipping, they can do lots of different things to try to win in the marketplace, but if you have superior talent, your people will figure out how to win against the competition. To me, two of the only sustainable competitive advantages left to most businesses are:

The quality of the people that you can get, grow and keep on your team


The relationships they create with your customers


Which means that talent acquisition, talent development and talent retention should be a major strategic imperative in your business. In addition, you will need to create a winning culture of highly engaged, satisfied and loyal employees who are fanatical about delivering only the highest quality products and services and having only superior customer relationships and will tolerate nothing less.

Years ago I had lunch with a gentleman who built his business from one acre on the edge of a dairy farm, to a multibillion-dollar enterprise and I asked him what he felt the most important thing in running a successful business, he didn’t hesitate, he looked at me and said, “John, you can kid yourself about a lot of things in business but at the end of the day it’s always people, people, people.”


If you have 5 seconds I would deeply appreciate your vote as a top small business influencer…

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Ten Business Success Ideas

John in Toronto_edited-1As I sit here in the lobby of the Marriott in downtown Vancouver, I am reflecting on some of the highlights of the past few weeks which have taken me to assignments in Charlotte, Baltimore, Vegas, Toronto, Barbados and now to Vancouver. The clients have ranged from Bank of America to small business owners, to a workshop for 1,000+ CPAs and a speech to 8,000+ of the top financial planners in the world. Also, with so much time on planes I have read 20+ books on various business topics. Here are some big business success ideas I have picked up  (or re-confirmed) along the way…


1. Accountability and disciplined execution are the MOST pressing issues in almost all of the companies I have been working for in the last 6 months. This is a HUGE issue and can negatively or positively impact a company’s success in significant ($$$$$$) ways!

2. Lack of clear, specific and well-understood communications is a CLOSE second!

3. The majority of businesses are NOT doing a good enough job of truly listening to their EMPLOYEES and CUSTOMERS. Whoever owns the Voice of the Customer (VOC) owns the marketplace — and if you run a business your employees are actually your customer – and then they go out and serve the final customer – so you have to own the Voice of the Employee (VOE).

4. McDonalds spends more time and money training their employees than the average “high-tech” business. Think about that – and then think about how much you truly invest in high-quality training for your people.

5. See the reading infographic below – it should blow your mind and motivate you to increase your reading. Especially the very last stat… 7 x 1 x 7 = International Expert. Hey, it worked for me!!!!

6. If you have a problem with accountability at lower levels in your organization, then it is the responsibility of the middle managers to hold their people accountable. If they will not, then the senior managers need to hold the middle managers 100% accountable – if they cannot then the CEO must hold the senior managers fully accountable. In other words – creating a culture of accountability ALL starts with the tone and example that the CEO sets. This seems very straight-forward and simple – but it is typically the root of the problem.

7. From the book: Difference – by Bernadette Jiwa. “The truth is people do not fall in love with ideas at all. They fall in love with the ways those ideas, products, services and places make them feel.” This is a really important branding axiom.

8. The reason that most people do not get a ton of high-quality referrals is simply this: They are NOT remarkable. They do not truly add enough value for their customer to want to “remark” about them to others. So the first step in getting referrals is towering competencies (ideas, products, services, experiences, information, suggestions, and innovations) that are exceedingly valuable to your customers.

9. The quality of your life is determined in large part by the quality of the questions you ask… to others and to yourself! Great leaders are expert at asking just the right question at just the right time – to their people and to themselves.

10. Culture = Cash. The number ONE factor in highly engaged, satisfied and loyal CUSTOMERS… is highly engaged, satisfied and loyal EMPLOYEES. Insanely successful companies all share this practice: Higher top talent, engage them through a winning culture, guide them with a sharply focused and well-communicated vision, values and strategy for growth – then empower them to go out and WOW the customer. That is about as Awesomely Simple as I can make it!

I hope you will share this post with your network – thanks – John

READING Facts!!!

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Creating Better Presentations


This post was drawn from the teachings contained in Duct Tape Selling – Think Like a Marketer Sell Like a Superstar by John Jantsch

I’m sure you’ve probably sat through a number of really bad presentations, so the ultimate goal is not to be one of them. Laziness is usually the culprit behind bad presentations.  It takes some real strategy to create a great presentation, but well worth it because you want your audience to walk away having positive feedback, not feeling that they just wasted their time and money.

It’s very helpful to think, what is it that you want your audience to walk away with? Do you want them to be entertained or do you want them to understand a once complicated topic? Figuring out this goal and getting clear with your mission will help you give a successful presentation.

Start in Analog

Make sticky notes and a big white board your friend before you jump the gun and start creating slides.  Outline the entire map of your presentation- move things around and rearrange the order of things before you commit to putting it in presentation software.

What’s the Journey?

 People need to believe they can use the information you give them, otherwise it won’t matter how good the presentation is.  A great presentation takes the audience to a whole new world; it opens the floodgates of new knowledge and new perspectives. Most people come to hear someone speak because they are seeking a solution to a problem or want to be shown a new way of doing something. So you need to win them over and lead them along the way. This is why great presentations end with a logical call to action.

Tell your story

 Who doesn’t like a good movie? Great presentations have a lot in common with great cinema in the storytelling aspect. You want to keep your audience engaged and a great way to do that is by storytelling. Telling stories moves people and makes them want to adopt your point of view. The audience will have more of a personal connection to you if you present your information in a narrative format. It’s ultimately more interesting than just hearing statistics and it’s easier to digest.

Less is more

 Use your slides to help your audience remember key points. You want your slides to be one word or show images that reinforce the point you are trying to make, not teach it from scratch in that moment. Use you slides as a partner tool, not a crutch. Also, remember to practice with your slides so that your presentation is a well-oiled machine by the time you get up to the podium.

Book recommendations

 I firmly believe that you should read these two books if you are going to be a presenter.  Resonate and Slideolgy, both by Nancy Duarte, are fantastic at giving the necessary steps one needs to be an effective presenter. She gives tools that will help you craft and present your ideas that will help make your message matter.

Virtual Speaking

 Giving a presentation these days can mean that you are doing so virtually. You don’t have to be in a big board room or auditorium, you can be looking right into your computer’s camera and giving an effective webinar that has very big benefits.

 MeetingBurner, GotToWebinar, or AnyMeeting are services you can use that can have as many as 1,000 people participating as audience members. Although being in person has its pluses, many people find that giving presentations virtually has a high degree of success as well. Sometimes, people like being in the comforts of their own office or home, without having to leave to attend a presentation in person.

 Being a presenter is more than just standing in front of a room spouting out facts and figures.  You need to really draw the audience in and give them something to take away that they can implement right now.  Use these tips for your next presentation and see the difference it makes.


John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network. His latest book, Duct Tape Selling – Think Like a Marketer, Sell Like a Superstar is available online and in bookstores May 15.

How to Make 2014 Your BEST Business Year Ever!

If you found this video of value, PLEASE take a moment to share it with your entire network.  My goal is to help as many people as possible have a fantastic 2014 in their business!!  Thanks so much, I wish you every possible happiness and success in the new year!!!!  John

Free eBook Link for Building and Sustaining a Winning Culture by John Spence

Customer Service: It Will Save Or Kill Your Business

defining-it-project-successAbout a week ago I got an e-mail from an author I’ve never heard of, Kirt Manecke, asking me if I would like a copy of his book so that I might do an honest review on Amazon (it is one of the best perks of my job that I get offers like this all the time – and who in the world am I to pass up free book?).  A few days later a small 89-page book entitled: “SMILE – Sell More with Amazing Customer Service” showed up in my mailbox. On the cover it touted that it was, “The Essential 60-minute Crash Course,” so I shoved it in my briefcase to read on the plane during my two week speaking tour across Canada. Well, it didn’t even last 60 minutes; I read it while on the tarmac waiting to take off from my hometown of Gainesville – 45 minutes tops.

To be frank, the book was a little fundamental, extolling such basic customer service practices as: smile, answer the phone with a smile, say please and thank you, make good eye contact, be enthusiastic, dress for success, keep professional, don’t make the customer wait… stuff that every single customer-facing employee on the face of the earth should know and do for every customer. However, in the last few days since I left for this trip I have wished to God that someone had given this book to every single service provider I have dealt with. I have been met by rude attendants, uncaring employees, unprofessional staff, long waits, and generally crappy service at nearly every place I’ve been in the last week. If only someone had made them sit down and read this little book – twice or three times – I feel they probably would’ve done a much better job and I might actually be going back to some of those establishments and giving them my business again!

Let me make this as Awesomely Simple as I can: for the vast majority of businesses today the ONLY competitive differentiator you have is the level of service you deliver to your customers. People can copy your product, your price, your location, your hours, your decor, your uniforms, your marketing and advertising… they can copy just about everything you offer… except the quality of the service your front-line employees deliver and the relationships they build with your customers. For many of you reading this blog, Amazing Customer Service – or lack thereof – will be the sole determinant as to whether you are successful in your business or not. Please take a moment to read that last sentence again and think about it very carefully!

As your Trusted Business Adviser here’s what I’m going to tell you: make sure that you spend a significant amount of time, energy, effort and resources training and retraining your customer-facing people to deliver absolutely world-class service –PERIOD. I highly recommend this book as a perfect “handbook” that every one of your service folks should read, but don’t stop there… show them videos, send them links to blogs, send them to training classes, reward them when they do a great job and quickly point out when they’re not delivering the service-level expectations you have set.

Remember: You can only hold people accountable to deliver the level of service you have trained them to deliver, and the service expectations you have set for them, so use this book, use other books, use every resource available to set exceedingly high service expectations and then hold your people fully accountable for delivering them flawlessly for every single customer, every single day.

To me, this is one of the most powerful strategies for creating a highly successful business, one that everyone knows, but so few businesses do – which means it is a great opportunity for you to create a powerful and valuable differentiator in the marketplace.

***Quick gut-check: on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being world-class, what would you honestly score your business right now on the overall level of service you deliver to your customers? Even more important, what would your customers score you??

To buy the book on Amazon click here…


Free eBook Link for Building and Sustaining a Winning Culture by John Spence