Cultural Rules and the Global Economy

Between Milford, Ohio and Barcelona, Spain we have thousands of miles for you, kilometers for me, gallons of salted water for you, liters for me, pounds of earth for you and kilograms for me…

We have different ways to talk about the same thing, but sometimes for different things we try to use the same way, what is a common mistake…

In terms of business, like the stone falling on the water, any new project will have an infinite number of concentric circles. The stone can be bigger or smaller, but always will generate a wave, big or small as well.

We will always face a person, with a better or worst day, with more or less problems, at home or at work, it doesn’t matter, with a culture, an education, inside of an organization, with a culture and an education, sometimes with people above, sometimes under, sometimes both, in a county of a region in a state of a country integrated with the economy of 28 other countries, with special regulations at different levels, different languages, different cultures…

Too complicated to be true? This is every single day of a sales in a global economy. Sometimes with more or less circles around each project, but this is the cruel reality nonetheless.

In this scenario, it becomes fully necessary having an internal decoder, armed with miles of knowledge, gallons of passion and pounds of personal skills, but also kilometers experience, liters of patients and kilograms of attitude.

How do you face this? It is easy, we build a rules structure trying include what we consider is “general” or “normal”. With these rules we don’t need to think about processes (internal or external) and we can be focused on what it is important: making a global impact.

But what happens when it is out of what we consider “normal” in our home culture, but acceptable in others? Here is when we need to show how flexible we are. It must not be a drama. This is life, different people thinking different. However, it’s important to keep the mission in mind and work towards a common good for ourselves, fellow man, and planet.

Being flexible is not meaning breaking the rules, because within these rules there are some red lines we must never cross in any culture, but we need to adapt ourselves to the situation. If we just can see the shadow of a tree is covering us, we will never be able to see the forest. We need to balance our flexibility with the opportunity cost and the risk it supposes.

So, if you know the rules, because they are yours, and within these rules exist the red lines, it is just about how flexible you are to get the job completed. And everyone has their own way, their own flexibility. There is no miraculous recipe, just training your own flexibility to convince the Polish mechanical contractor and the French end-user with different arguments to be a collective success, because they have diametrically opposed interests for the same product or solution.

To be truly global, you must be global in your thoughts and open to cultural norms wherever you may go.

Customer Experience – The Key Differentiator

Good is no longer good enough! It seems it was only yesterday that every business claimed the key to winning customers was the quality of product or service they deliver. Here at Melink, we’re changing the game to focus on the customer experience! According to a Walker study, by the year 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. So, what is customer experience you ask? Customer experience is your customers’ perception of how the company treats them. These perceptions affect their behaviors and build memories and feelings, and may drive their loyalty. In other words, if they like you and continue to like you, they are going to do business with you and recommend you to the others. With customer experience being the new battlefield, companies are changing their approach, offerings, and business practices. Sales teams are working harder to learn their customers and their customer’s business, so they can create the “wow”. Hotel managers, restaurant chains, and even doctors’ offices are focused on creating an experience that knocks their customers socks off, instead of just standard practices.

These days, social media gives the consumer a lot of power and impact. There’s an instant feedback loop and the cluster of data starts to create the company’s reputation. For example, if you get on Amazon to buy a new bike for your son, you’re likely going to check the performance stars and the customer reviews. Any of those reviews can be the difference between you purchasing that bike and moving on to a different bike. If you’re looking for a surgeon and every website has them at 3 out of 5 stars, you’re likely going to move on to the next guy. He may be the best surgeon in the land, but his rude receptionist and office staff have poor bedside manner and make people miserable when they go in to see him. If you go to a fast-food burger joint, how likely is it that you’re going to write a positive Yelp review if you pull up to the drive thru, order your food, pay the correct amount, get the correct change and correct order, and you leave in a timely manner? Probably never! They didn’t go above and beyond and create the “wow”! If you want to improve the customer experience, there must be a “wow”! Recently I went through a drive thru myself and was caught off guard with my experience. When I pulled up it was raining. Normally I would get soaked reaching out to hand over the money. This time the cashier stuck an umbrella out the window, so I wouldn’t get drenched. Super small, super easy, but I was impressed! I’ve never seen it before in my time on this earth and he was focused on my experience! I did write a review and I tipped a drive-thru cashier for the first time!

Millennials are changing the game and companies need to embrace it. Sure, the entitlement is out of control, but the business practice changes are not all bad. If you’re focusing only on your product or service and not how your customer feels about the entire experience, you’re in trouble! Some of the large hotel companies are incentivizing their General Managers on customer experience and guest loyalty. The baby-boomers want to talk, interact, have face-to-face experiences with nice people. The millennials want to check-in swiftly to the hotel with no hiccups and have issues resolved quickly. Management needs to address all their consumer personas in a unique way to setup the individual customer experiences for success.

What happens if you fail to provide a positive customer experience? According to a recent study, 67% of customers mention bad experiences as a reason for churn and only 1 in 26 unhappy customers complain. That means companies not focused on the customer experience will lose customers well after it’s too late! Most of this is the result of what I refer to as “sales autopilot”. When you’re there trying to make it look like your product is perfect for them, without the data, you end up losing trust with them. Trust, brand and customer experience are all built on honesty. And honesty is knowing when your product won’t be a perfect fit for everyone. Therefore it’s so important to stop selling and start solving!

Since most companies will be expected to compete mainly on customer experience, organizations like Melink that focus on customer experience will stand out from the noise and win loyal customers over. One thing is for sure, if you want your customer to have an excellent customer experience and create a “wow” you must know your customers better than ever before! Here at Melink, my team and I are completing customer profiles and personas to improve individual experiences. Once you know your customers well enough, you can use that knowledge to personalize every interaction. Customers these days have more power and choice than ever before. Thus, we are responsible for understanding and acknowledging their needs. When people ask what we do, it shouldn’t be Test & Balance, Demand-Controlled Kitchen Ventilation (DCKV), Solar, or Geothermal, it should be creating the best customer experience in renewable and energy reduction markets for our customers!