International Speaker Visits Alaska
Encourages Businesses to Succeed
San Francisco-based Cindy Solomon, a self-described born entrepreneur, doesn’t call herself a motivational speaker. But she is motivating and has amazing energy. And she doesn’t have a degree beyond a bachelor’s in business, but she’s highly successful, learning lessons from experience and her ferocious appetite for business news, especially regarding what makes businesses tick in the areas of customer service, customer loyalty, employee retention and leadership development.
This author of three books (two to be soon released) and internationally recognized speaker (18 years on the job and a member of the National Speakers Association), writer and executive coach leads a staff of more than 20 and works with companies large and small, even with multi-billion-dollar legacies. Solomon was brought to Anchorage, which she dubs “magical Alaskaland,” by KeyBank for its Key4Women Forum, held last month at the Dena’ina Convention Center with more than 200 in attendance, as part of a larger tour in 18 markets across the U.S.
“I popped out of the womb speaking,” she said, laughing. “I wake up every day, so excited to do what I do.”
ABM had an opportunity to sit down with Solomon the eve before her keynote speech and discuss the three elements most important to business success. Here are her major points:
1. Find a way to create a partnership with customers who get from your business what they want 100 percent of the time. In turn, you get from them what you want, meaning a low-maintenance customer who is buying what your business is selling.
Businesses of any size spend a lot of time and energy focussing on getting the new client she said, adding true profitability lies in creating loyalty with the current customer base you already have.
“If we’re able to do that, keep that loyalty base, those fabulous customers who come back to us time and time again, they will actually drive new sales for you so you don’t have to go out reaching for the bright shiny new customer as much as you do today. Research currently shows over 80 percent who leave a product or service are actually satisfied. So if you think about that for a second that should frighten every business out there. What it means is it takes much more than satisfaction to drive true loyalty. And I think that’s where businesses make mistakes today; simply looking for satisfied customers when that doesn’t keep them coming back time and time again. So what does keep them coming back is, No. 1, creating a clear dialogue with them, making sure you’re crystal clear about what their expectations are of you and what you in turn expect their experience to be so you can fulfill that 100 percent of the time.”
2. Use technology for good and not evil. “Find a way to ensure you are not having to work around technology to fulfill your customers’ needs,” she adds. “That they’re not having to struggle to buy something from you, to work with you, to communicate with you. And if you have technology you are working around, there’s no excuse for it. There’s a $99 package out there for just about anything you need. I think – for most of us boomers – we had to adapt to technology rather than it adapting for us. And I think we missed the boat when we aren’t forcing our technologies to work to build deeper, easier, faster, more efficient relationships with our customers. I think you have to assess it, spend a fair amount of your time putting your customer hat on and seeing what it’s like to interact with you. “Get an intern. Get somebody who is great at technology and who also has an interest in business and have them help you assess your current technology, see what works, see what doesn’t – have them help you find a way around the technology you are already working around.”
3. Companies should be as concerned about creating loyalty with employees as well as with customers. “If you have engaged and loyal employees who want to do what’s right, you don’t ever have to worry about great customer service. I think Alaska Airlines is a wonderful example…. Alaska Air has done a spectacular job … not only values customers, but values their employees. From ticket counter to baggage handlers to folks who clean planes to the flight attendants – they’ve done a magnificent job of ensuring their employees feel like they have a meaningful role in engaging customers. And they hit it out of the park when that group gets together working as a team.”
Other tips: Live on the edge, create One Big Life, versus trying the impossible: work-life balance, and constantly change and grow. Solomon gives 60-70 speeches a year. For more information, visit her website at www.cindysolomon.com.