It’s all about trust

Trust in business is completely critical. In his book, Lovemarks, Kevin Roberts writes about trust and respect being the two precursors to a Lovemark. I agree - for someone to love your business, they must first trust and respect it. It's interesting being in Bali, thinking about the cultural aspects of trust in business. In Australia the government basically trusts us to pay our tax. We may get audited, but its largely an honour system. And the vast majority of businesses do pay their taxes. On the other hand, retail stores don't trust the public (and often the staff) not to steal stuff. If you were leaving your shop for five minutes you'd lock the door.

Here it's the opposite.

Indonesia recently had its millionth registered tax payer. In a country of 230 million, that's not that great. Most people and businesses don't pay tax. Although most businesses do make a regular payment to the local police.

On the other hand, its completely normal to find a shop unattended. Even though there is a lot of poverty there is very little crime.

I rented a car for a day - I spoke to Wayan on the phone and he said he would be away but I could pick up the car from his wife. I asked if she wanted me to pay when I picked it up, and she said not to worry, to pay Wayan when I returned it. As I drove off I realised they knew nothing about me. I hadn't given them any details, passport number, credit card imprint - nothing. Can you imagine that happening in Australia? Rocking up to Avis at the airport, and the lady at the desk saying don't worry about the paper work, the boss is out, just sort us out when you get back. Although when I spoke to Wayan about it he said he doesn't like to rent his car to Javanese, because he has had a few friends in the business who have rented cars to Javanese only for them to disappear back to Java with their cars never to be seen again.

I've also somewhat inadvertently tested out the high level of trust worthiness myself. Last week I left my laptop sitting in a cafe - a laptop that's worth about the average salary for one year here. When I got back to the cafe (somewhat out of breath having sprinted the whole way back) my laptop was safe and sound. I've also left my keys in my motorbike on a somewhat embarrassing three separate occasions. Arguably I'm getting a bit too relaxed. Compare that to Australia where not only would I never leave my push bike unlocked, I actually take off the front wheel and lock that up too so that someone doesn't come along and steal the wheel.

However the internet world assumes that because I'm in Indonesia, I can't be trusted. We're are setting up a new website, so I bought some hosting in America, and a domain name from our usual provider in Australia. Or I tried to. The Australian website selling URLs let me get to the last page before saying that I couldn't continue due to a high probability of fraud. I got a bit further with the American site - I actually managed to buy the hosting, and get started on our website. Then 12 hours later our account was suspended and my credit card was refunded because the credit card is from Australia and the payment came from Indonesia. (I got both things sorted out, but it involved getting on the phone.)

I'm also struggling just to send emails - a lot of spam filters assume that because I'm in Indonesia, I must be spamming. So a lot of my emails either bounce back to me, or end up in people's junk mail. Which must make it hard for Indonesians trying to do business with the rest of the world. Imagine you set up your guest house, put up a website, but when ever you try to respond to an email, it doesn't make it through.

It seems pretty ironic that while I'm a place where I can safely park my motorbike on a main street and leave the keys in the ignition, the rest of the world assumes I'm committing fraud or sending spam every time I get online. Go figure.

And while I'm not advocating leaving your shop unattended, it is worth thinking about what we can do to create more trust in your business.

Hard at work… Bali style

Our experiment to live and work in Bali is underway! A little background ... a six months ago we came for a holiday to Bali for 10 days. I did some reflecting on my business, and realised that while we had grown, had a beautiful office and a growing team that peaked at 10 people, I wasn't loving the business any more. I was working harder to pay everyone, more stressed and had lost my mojo. I was staring out to sea thinking I could get used to this, when I thought 'why not?'

Fast forward six months - I've gotten rid off the office, reduced the team, and I've just landed in Bali for a two month experiment to see if its possible to run my business and do my coaching from Bali.

First challenge was to find somewhere to live while we're here. After a frustrating day riding around looking at place after place that was not quite right or too expensive or booked out over Christmas, we stumbled across Nick's Hidden Cottages while out for our morning run on day two. It's perfect. Here are a couple of snaps of the view from our room:

View from room in Ubud Bali1

Trish in front of our room Bali2

Of course doing business in Bali means negotiating. I was talking to Koman about the rate. Koman means 3rd-born, most people in Bali are either called Wayan, Made, Koman or Ketut (it then starts again at Wayan). There is the odd exception to this rule, one of the guys who works here is called Reagan, because he was born when Ronald Reagan was President. I call him Mr. President. But I digress. I was talking to Koman about the price, he was explaining that it's the high season, what a good deal he was offering, that 300,000 Rupiah (about $33 Aus) was his very last price. He even called the manager who wasn't in on Sunday, who confirmed that yes, that was the last price, and it was already a special price.

I asked if he could call the manager back, and could I speak to him. I explained to the manager that we were staying for a long time, and that 300,000 per night was still too expensive. He paused, and then said ok, VERY special price, 250,000 per night. So we have a gorgeous air-conditioned room, breakfast, a magical location, for under $30 a night. We've paid more than that for a tent site in Australia.

And the staff here are fabulous. I asked if they had any spare tables so I could work in our room. Wayan (1st-born) took me to the office behind the reception area and asked 'like this?' pointing at the desk. Yes, I said. Ok, we'll move this one. Don't you use it I asked (it had a phone, papers etc on the desk). Sometimes, he said. I don't wan't to take your desk away from you if you use it, I said. But a couple of hours later three guys were moving the desk into our room. I spoke to the manager (also Wayan) and it's fine he assured me. I guess they won't be doing too much desk work over the next couple of months.

We've also hired a motorbike (well a scooter) for the month, for the princely sum of $70. That's not per day - that's for the whole month. And people (Trish's family in particular) please stop sending Trish horror stories about tourists riding motorbikes in Asia. You're not helping.

With setup phase completed successfully over the weekend, Monday was my first real test - my first coaching call back to Melbourne. I had Skype set up, although the internet isn't completely reliable. I had my mobile phone with a local sim card for plan B, although the phone network isn't completely reliable either. And my final line of defence was the phone in our room. I'm happy to report that Skype didn't let me down, and my first coaching session was a complete success.

While it's still early days, so far the experiment is looking good. And it is insanely cheap to live here. Accomodation, transport and eating out for lunch and dinner is currently costing us about $50 a day. So if you can set up your business so you earn dollars but spend Rupiah's you will come out way ahead (as Tim Ferris points out in The Four Hour Work Week).

Are there some fundamental changes you can make in your buisness that will have you love it more?


Steak vs Sizzle

I was at a workshop last weekend - Passion, Power and Purpose. It was a three day bootcamp that Trish had won a ticket to, and kindly offered it to me. It was run by an organisation called Beyond Success. The workshop had a ticket price of about $3k, although most of the 80 people in the room had paid $25k for a one year program.

I was fairly disappointed in the workshop. I didn't leave with any great increase in my passion, power or purpose. I think it was partly because I've done a lot of personal development over the years, and so a lot of it wasn't new to me. However I also thought that a lot more work had gone into marketing the workshop than designing the workshop itself.

The workshop was adequate. Most of the people I spoke to were happy to be there, and felt they were getting value for their $25k over the year. The organisers had done the work to make the product good enough, and then stopped.

Where they had really gone to work was on the marketing - on filling the room. And that was the main lesson I got from the weekend.

I think many of us make the mistake of continuing to work on and improve our product or service long past the point we need to - and do this at the expense of putting the work into the marketing and sales. We spend too much time, energy and money on our product or service (which is, after all, our passion, what we want to bring to the world), and not nearly enough on our marketing and sales. We think if the product or service is good enough it will sell itself.

In my opinion Beyond Success has swung a bit too far in the other direction... However, their business is much more successful than mine.

So do the work to love your product or service until it's good enough so that you can sell it and sleep at night, so you know that it will make a difference to your clients. Then stop and go to work with the same intensity, passion, vigour and persistence on your marketing - on telling your story. There will be many more people who will benefit from the passion that you put into your product or service. And you will love your business more, I can guarantee it!

On my Soapbox

My last blog was about customer service - how to delight your customers. This week I'm getting on my soap box about a couple of simple things that waste my time and leave me feeling anything but delighted. The first is a line I see more and more at the bottom of email signatures:

"Please consider the environment before printing this email."

I don't know anyone who prints emails to read them. Some documents maybe, but a five line email? And if your email did by chance go to the one person in Australia who does print their emails to read them, my guess is that he's already considered the environment and decided to go ahead anyway.

Every time I read that line, there goes another couple of seconds of my life I'll never get back.

It's the same with long phone messages that tell me in detail how to leave a message. What to say (my name, my number, the reason for my call and the time I called) and when to say it (after the beep).

I actually know how to leave a message - I don't need instructions. And I'm pretty sure everyone else who calls does too. Instructions might have been useful back in the day when answering machines had just come out. Not anymore.

I think wasting your customers' time, even in these small ways, is disrespectful and poor customer service.

OK, I'll get off my soap box now and share an example of the opposite from an unlikely source.

I called the ATO this morning and the machine told me I could either wait 10 minutes or leave a number and they would call me back (and I wouldn't lose my place in the queue). I love that! They value my time.

What gets on your goat? What do you want to get on your soapbox about?

Alternatively where are you guilty of wasting your customers time and what can you do about it?


What do your customers say about you ... when you are not there?

Craig Cherry is in the business of answering this question. He runs a business called The Loyalty Zone and came and spoke about customer service at a Love Your Business seminar a couple of nights ago. Most people I talk to say that word of mouth is their most important form of marketing - me included. However most of us don't know what our customers really think, feel and most importantly say about us.

Craig shared with us how exactly how to find out what our customers say. There are three (yep, only three) questions that he recommends we ask to find.

The first question is:

1. How likely is it that you would recommend LYB (or the name of your business) to a friend or colleague between 1 and 10 where 1 is extremely unlikely and 10 is extremely likely?

Loyal customers will give a score of 9 or 10. This is what we want, these people are our advocates, the ones who speak glowingly of us. Apparently the 9 is there because some people will never give a 10.

Satisfied customers give a 7 or 8. These people are fine, they got what they expected. However they are unlikely to refer us and in fact are unlikely to come back. 68% of Australian consumers rate their experience of a business here. If this is where most of your customers are, your business is dying. These are the people we need to lift up to 9 & 10 - what Craig calls the "Loyalty Zone."

And six or below are detractors. The people who hurt our business when they speak.

One of the cool things Craig said was that at least 5% of your customers are likely to be detractors, no matter what you do. That was a huge relief to me. I can't please everyone. If the odd person isn't happy, that's life. Move on. No matter what I do, not everyone is going to love my business.

The second question (and this only gets asked to the 9's and 10's) is:

2. What is the main reason for the score you just gave us?

Then probe the answers - get specific. "What do you mean by that." "Give me an example of that." Et cetera.

Final question:

3. What is the most important improvement that would give us a rating closer to 10?

These give us our improvement drivers - what we can do to improve the experience of our customers, have them love the business more, and ultimately send us more business

The process is a bit scary. Months ago Craig generously offered to run this process on a group of Love Your Business clients as a thank you for a program that I invited him to. I didn't take him up on it, mostly because I was nervous about what I would hear. What if our customers don't love our business? What would that mean about me? Especially given that's the name of our business? So I just let the offer go.

However having heard Craig speak, and finally appreciating the value of knowing what your customers think about your business, I've decided to bite the bullet and accept his offer. Stay tuned for the results.