Friday Jun 6, 2014

Learning What Your Customers Know . . . But Don't Tell

Ann Amati

Principal Deliberate Strategies Consulting

Introduced by: Jim Gordon

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Ann Amati will describe what B2B companies can learn from their customers, effective ways to solicit feedback, and why company leaders should stay engaged with customer issues. Look forward to tips that will help your company win more sales, retain customers longer and grow existing customer relationships.

In club business, President Scott Sadler recognized the BBRC Rotary Student of the Year and Rotarian of the month,  Jacob Peltier discusses a Rotaract fundraiser, and our Sergeant At Arms raises funds and reminds us about the upcoming Rotating the Wheels celebration.

speaker program

Jim Gordon introduced our featured speaker, Ann Amati, who discussed ways to “learn what your customers know, but don’t tell”.

Ann mentioned the cartoon Peabody and Sherman from the old Rocky and Bullwinkle show, and the use of their wayback machine to recall a time when customer satisfaction surveys were conducted via telephone. These surveys were usually done in a way that focused on “what did we do right?”, or how can we improve?” Ann suggests instead focusing on surveys or other methods to find out what your business client and customers are thinking; what is it that they want. Ann discussed these ways to learn from your customers:

  • When to use a survey – suggested when you have many customers. She suggests asking a few favorite and “nightmare” customers to help write the survey questions, to not use “on a scale of one to ten” type answers, but to offer choices on how to answer, and to not encourage anonymous responses
  • When to use meetings – for individual relationships you can’t afford to lose, one-on-one meetings should be utilized; options include meeting with key customers yourself; having that customer’s account manager/officer meet with them, or engaging an experienced third party to meet with them.
  • Why you should stay plugged in – It’s not your team’s company – it’s your company. Optimize your long-term exit strategy; don’t delegate away customer issues and consider them “handled”. Meet with key customers; be available to frustrated customers, and stay plugged in!

Ann took a number of questions:

  1. Is it best to create your own surveys or hire it out? Ann’s response is the key is to simply ask good questions, but that farming out the work at least gets it done
  2. What is the best means to deal with a frustrated client?  Ann recommends reaching out first by phone. Face-to-face meetings sometimes don’t provide the space needed to resolve the issues.
  3. What is a credible survey response percentage? This is more germane to a large customer base; for smaller client bases, you should pay attention to each one. She mentioned Sunny Kobe Cook of Sleep Country USA, who used to toss any responses that did not contain comments.
  4. What is the best way to deal with a customer who has left? It is best to call them to ask why they left, and see if the relationship can be restored. (Kit Bowerman told a story of a thermometer accidentally left in a dog and regaining the angry customer)

club business

President Scott Sadler opened the meeting.

Paul Osborn gave the invocation and led in the Pledge of Allegiance. Mark McDonald introduced guests and visiting Rotarians.

Jacob Peltier discussed a Rotaract Water Project in Honduras, and presented information about a silent auction during the meeting to raise some funds for the project. District 5030 Rotaract is teaming with Pure Water for the World for this project. The Honduras project focuses on providing clean water and home visits to discuss sanitation education.

President Scott recognized Michael Schrempf as our club’s Rotary Student of the Year, and thanked George Miller and Joe Smith of Partners at Work and Michael’s parents Detlef and Mari for their assistance in providing Michael’s services to our club. Michael has been ever present at our weekly meetings, arriving early to help get things set up and greeting members as they arrive. Scott also recognized BBRC members who have employed individuals through Partners at Work; among them Rick Klobucher, Wendi Fischer, Alan Bohling, Laura Adams and Jane Kuechle.

Scott then awarded Paul Osborn as our Rotarian of the Month, for his contributions as website coordinator, and congratulated Paul on his recent US Citizenship.

Sergeant at Arms Paul Chapman, in an effort to make up for a shortfall in fines collected played a simple game, called “Everybody please put a dollar on the table”. He also jokingly suggested a 30-second slot for members to advertise in exchange for a fee, using “Kit Bowerman- Veterinarian to the Stars” as a possible example. Then he called up two groups of members and asked everyone what the members in each group had in common. The answer was one group had registered for the upcoming Rotating the Wheels celebration, and the other had not. Paul reminded those who had not registered to do so. The event is Friday night, June 20, and information can be found on the BBRC website. The theme is “Blazing Sadlers, and attendees are encouraged, though not required to dress in western attire.

Sayoko made an announcement to remind everyone to park in the upper lot; not the lower one reserved for Glendale Club members.

A contribution of 1,000 pounds of fresh produce was made to Rotary First Harvest on behalf of Ann Amati’s presentation by Fred Janssen and Janssen Consulting.

President’s thought for the week:

“A graduation ceremony is an event where the commencement speaker tells thousands of students dressed in identical caps and gowns that ‘individuality’ is the key to success”.

About the Speaker

Since 1994, Ann Amati has helped companies across multiple industries use guidance from their own current and past customers to grow future sales. She has a track record of creating positive turning points in her clients' relationships with their customers leaving behind a legacy of improved competitiveness and strong customer retention.

A former strategic planner, Ann Amati has accurately defined problems and formulated solution-oriented retention and growth recommendations to emerging, established, and international companies for over twenty years. She has helped product firms diversify their offerings, service firms turn around troubled accounts and high-tech verticals deepen market penetration.

Ann helps companies "print money." She helped a $7 million software company make the sales and operational decisions required to grow to $50 million. She helped a service firm retain and grow a key $10 million customer and a manufacturer do the same with a $100 million customer. She showed a 75-year-old service firm how they could make more money by upselling more strategically.

In the corporate half of her career Ann Amati was a COO, strategic planner, consultant and project manager in health care, high tech, start-ups and banking. She has a Master's in Hospital Administration from the University of Missouri.