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Work-life balance in the digital age

Technology Killed Snow Days (and Work-Life Balance)

Work-life balance in the digital age

George & Mary-Lynn share keys to work-life balance in the digital age. Click the player to listen to The BIGG Success Show Podcast.

Here in the Midwest, we got a real blast of winter yesterday. Many schools were closed. So were a number of businesses.

Remember snow days as a kid? If you live in a cold-weather area, you almost certainly do. Weren’t they the best?

You were supposed to go to school, but the night before or the morning of, you turned on the local TV news or tuned into your favorite radio station to find out if you had a day off.

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[Entrepreneurs Beware] Smartphones Kill Customer Service

Entrepreneurs Beware-NY Restaurant Comparison Chart
Entrepreneurs find opportunity in change. We share some ideas in this BIGG Success Show Podcast. Click play to listen to George & Mary-Lynn

The entrepreneur behind a busy New York restaurant wondered why they kept getting bad reviews. So they hired an outside consultant who suggested they review surveillance video.

They found a tape from ten years ago and compared it to a similar recent day. The entrepreneur posted the results anonymously on Craigslist.

We created a table above to show their findings side-by-side:

Entrepreneurs beware! These results are staggering. Smartphones are killing customer service. Here are the details:

Notes for Entrepreneurs

1) Different seat
Customers are more demanding than ever. Ten years ago, only about 7% (3 of 45) of this entrepreneur’s customers requested a different seat. Today, 40% (18 of 45) do.

Meanwhile – customer service levels seem to be falling as many businesses try to make do with less people or fewer labor hours.

It spells o-p-p-o-r-t-u-n-i-t-y for entrepreneurs dedicated to the customer experience! We’ll talk about this more below.

2) Time to place order
Smartphones distract customers. Ten years ago – it took a customer just 8 minutes to order after they had been seated. Now it takes over twice as long, 18 minutes. Here’s why:

A server brought the customer a menu. 7 of the 45 say they are having trouble connecting to the restaurant’s WIFI. The server spent 5 minutes helping them.

How do you signal your server that you’re ready to order? A closed menu. In this case, it usually meant the customer hadn’t opened the menu yet. They were too busy with their phone. The customer asked for more time.

The server made three trips to the table before the customer orders. Their phone generally never leaves their hand.

3) Food returned
The server began delivering food in about 6 minutes. This is the same timeframe as 10 years ago. But now, of the 45 customers:

  • 26 spent 3 minutes taking photos of the food
  • 14 took pictures of each other with the food
  • 27 asked their server to take a group photo
  • 14 of these 27 weren’t happy with the photo and asked the server to retake it

In total, customers spent 4 minutes taking photos themselves. Servers spent 5 minutes taking photos instead of serving other customers.

Guess what happened in the meantime? Their food got cold! So 9 of the 45 sent it back. Only 2 did so 10 years ago.

4) Exit time
10 years ago – after paying their bill, a customer left in 5 minutes. Now, they play on the phone and don’t leave for 20 minutes.

Incidentally, they’re so busy looking at their phone – as they exited the restaurant, 8 of the 45 bumped into other customers or servers.

5) Total time
Little things make BIGG differences. Time has a nasty habit of ticking away. It takes almost twice as long for this restaurant to turn a table today, compared to 10 years ago (1:55 versus 1:05 respectively).

Entrepreneurs Need Smart Tactics

The entrepreneur concludes: “We are grateful for everyone who comes into our restaurant, after all there are so many choices out there. But can you please be a bit more considerate?”

The two of us always remember the three rules of customer service:

Rule 1: The customer is always right.
Rule 2: If the customer is ever wrong, re-read Rule 1.
Rule 3: The customer is not always reasonable.

Perhaps we need to add “or considerate” to Rule 3. As we said earlier, customers are more demanding than ever. Apparently, they want to spend their dining experience with their smartphone.

You can ask them not to do it. But we doubt the request will be honored.

We wonder how they’ve stayed in business. With the time to turn a table at double what it was ten years ago, have they raised their prices?

So what can they do? Here are a few thoughts:

  • Hire a digital concierge

This is the “if you can’t beat them, join them” strategy. Bring on a staff member dedicated to digital.

They could check in with customers soon after they’re seated to make sure they’ve been able to access WIFI.

Once their food arrives, they could go to the table to take a group photo. Further, they could remind people to check in on Foursquare, solicit “likes” on Facebook, etc.

  • Limit the choice

Think of this as “an object in motion stays in motion” strategy. For example, you may offer a “daily deal” on a few appetizers. The customer can make a quick choice. You get the food coming their way quicker.

Instead, you may test a limited menu – customers could “pick one” from a short list in each category: appetizer, soup or salad, entrée, dessert.

  • Promote digital-free dining

Consider this the “take up a cause” strategy. You want to encourage experiences, instead of recordings of experiences. You want to be an oasis from the hyper-busyness.

Obviously, this won’t appeal to everyone. That’s the beauty of it – you’ll naturally attract like-minded customers. You may test it at certain times of the day to start.

Note the divergence between the first strategy and the last. They’re polar opposites! One encourages digital while the other denies it.

Entrepreneurs get to choose. Which works best for your customers?

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file | podcast:
http://traffic.libsyn.com/biggsuccess/00898-073114.mp3

disconnect from smartphones for BIGG Success

How to Be Less Happy and More Anxious

disconnect from smartphones for BIGG Success
Is your smartphone making you less happy and more anxious? George & Mary-Lynn discuss a study that says it does on The BIGG Success Show.

Thanks to smartphones, we are constantly connected to our friends, our family, and our work. As a result, we are less happy and more anxious.

A new Kent State University study of college students shows those who spend hours each day online, texting or talking on cellphones are more anxious, less happy and get lower grades. The students who were “less addicted” to checking their phones were better off.

Speaking of addiction, another study shows that many people suffer from anxiety if they lose or forget their phone, even if only for a few minutes. That rush of anxiety and fear some feel once they realize their disconnected is called nomophobia -as in no-mo(bile) phone-phobia.

How do we break our addiction to technology? It won’t be easy. According to a Pew Research Center survey, for the first time, a majority of American adults (56%) own smartphones. And people are checking them everywhere: while watching TV, at the movies, at the dinner table, in church, in bed, and while driving.

How to Feel Happier and Less Anxious

Do we really have to talk, text, tweet or post so much? No we don’t.

Andrew Lepp, one of the researchers in the Kent State study says, “You need time to be alone with your thoughts, and recover from the daily stressors in a way that doesn’t involve electronic media.”

Ways to Disconnect:

  • Meditate
  • Go for a walk without your headphones
  • Read an old-fashioned hardback book
  • Do some household chores
  • Journal with pen and paper

Quiet time lets your mind rest. Stress diminishes, attention and memory improve, endorphins are released. Your creative process is allowed to work. You can explore meaningful thoughts which can provide important direction in your life.

Use this time to refresh, and realize it will take practice to achieve. To get started, try to dedicate at least fifteen minutes a day for quiet time. Keep track of the days you do this. Pay attention to your stress levels on the days you unplug, versus the days you don’t.

It’s your choice! You can be constantly connected and feel less happy and more anxious. Or, you can disconnect for a short time every day to feel happier and more at ease, which leads to BIGG Success!

Will you commit to disconnecting daily? What will you do with your quiet time?

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file | podcast:
http://traffic.libsyn.com/biggsuccess/00887-121713.mp3

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Leverage this instead of finances for BIGG Success

Cash Used to be King

Leverage this instead of finances for BIGG Success

Listen to this post! Click play to hear George & Mary-Lynn on The BIGG Success Show Podcast (Duration 3:29)

In the hit movie, Wall Street, Gordon Gekko (played by Michael Douglas) said to his protégé, Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen):

“The key to the game is capital reserves. If you don’t have enough, you can’t piss in the tall weeds with the big dogs.”

How’s your access ability?

We hear it all the time – cash is king. But it’s not just cash that matters; it’s also access to capital.

Large companies generally have that. Small business people often don’t.

So it’s crucial to manage your cash flow wisely. Make sure you’re getting a return on every dollar that goes out your door. Because…

Even if an outlay goes to your Income Statement as an expense,
it should still deliver a return to you or it’s not worth spending the money.

In addition, build up your reserve borrowing capacity. Protect your credit rating like you would any other asset. Then you’ll be able to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves.

Watch your debt ratios so you could always tap into some money if need be. But also be aware that …

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How to Identify Threats to Your Business and Career

identify threats to your business and career for BIGG SuccessMillennials don’t wear watches. A friend of ours recently said he doesn’t either. And he’s a boomer.

They don’t wear watches because they don’t need them. They use their smartphones.

The trend in watches may not be important to you. But it serves as a great example.

If you’re an entrepreneur, take note. But even if you aren’t, you can learn from this example.

Listen to this post! Click a player to hear George & Mary-Lynn on The BIGG Success Show Podcast. (Duration 4:20)


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[haiku url=”http://traffic.libsyn.com/biggsuccess/00826-090612.mp3″ title=”The BIGG Success Show #826″]
The mistake we make too often

When we think about competition, we tend to think too directly. We only think about other businesses in our industry.

We go “head to head.” We “duke it out.”

It makes for great drama. But all the while, we may have a larger problem:

As strange as it sounds, your greatest competition may not come from your competitors. It may show up in the form of substitutes – smartphones replacing watches.

Sure, you should think about your competition. You should understand what they’re good at and what they’re not.

But as you consider the future of your business or your career, think long and hard about the threats to your livelihood.

3 important questions to ask

You need to think about more than just who your customer might use instead of you. You also need to ask:

  • What might a customer use instead of your product or service?

    In this example, a customer could replace their watch with their smartphone.

  • Why might it be different this time around?

    It’s not like smartphones are the first time we’ve had access to a clock other than a watch.

    Our cell phones had clocks on them. But they didn’t make this impact.

    So why is it different this time around? Because our smartphones are command central for most of us.

    We check our e-mail. We surf. We text. We take pictures. We play games. The phone is the least important part!

    If they’re not in our hand, they’re on the desk or table in front of us. They are ever present. We connect with the world through them.

    So why have a watch when you can just refer to the device you refer to for everything else? It’s just as easy (if not easier) to check the time on your smarthphone.

  • How might this new use affect your business or career?

    So smartphones may turn out to be a destructive technology to watch manufacturers and a disruptive technology to jewelry stores.

    If you’re in one of those businesses – as an owner or an employee – you would have to think about the effect it will have in the coming years.

    But don’t stop there. Figure out how you will respond now.

The key is to keep your eyes and ears open. Get outside your industry. Watch the trends.

Most of the things you see will have little or no impact on your business or your career. But once you in a while, you may something that will.

We’ve talked about this in a defensive way. But as you look and listen, you may discover an opportunity that leads to BIGG success!

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file | podcast:
http://traffic.libsyn.com/biggsuccess/00826-090612.mp3

Image in this post from stock.xchng