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The Experience Difference
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About Doug
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Keynote speaker | Customer experience expert 
Performance consultant

Doug Fleener, the former director of retail for Bose Corporation, is known for bringing fresh approaches and powerful actionable ideas to clients and audiences around the world.
Typical client and audience results include:
  • Substantial increase in sales and profits
  • How to niche and succeed in a commoditized marketplace
  • Deeper understanding of your ideal customers
  • A differentiated - and more effective - customer experience
  • More targeted internal and external marketing to drive incremental business
  • Improved strategic direction with a more aligned organizational focus
  • Increased customer loyalty and advocacy resulting in more profitable  customers
  • More effective OutFront managers and leaders at all levels of the organization
"Thank you for presenting to the AIMM group again! It is really hard to present to a group twice in 6 months and hit it out of the park both times, but the feedback is you did just that! The dealers shared with us that what they learned was both informative and inspiring."

Tom Triozzi - Association of Independent Merchants

The Experience Difference Blog

Doug Fleener's The Experience Difference Blog

By Doug Fleener 09 Apr, 2017

As a leader, one of your most important jobs is to develop your managers. Most of us are pretty good at doing that with newly promoted person, but we often slow down or stop developing them once they attain a certain amount of experience and competency.

Here are three ways you may or may not have put into action with your more seasoned management team.

1. Delegate improving a particular metric or category sales over a 60-90 day period. This could be a particular category or brand, increasing ADS or conversion/transactions, or any other area of performance that can be improved.

This is not about being in charge of a department. This is taking full responsibility for analyzing current performance and approach, coming up with a plan to improve, and following through and working the plan. Taking something like this on for two or three months is an incredible opportunity for your assistant to develop, and for you to coach her.

2. The phantom sabbatical. What would happen if today you decided to take a six-month sabbatical? (Besides buying that new bathing suit and/or golf clubs you'd want to take with you!) Would your leadership team be ready to step in and run the store? Would they know how to do everything?

Usually when I ask that I question the response is something like, "Yes, for the most part, but I would need to show or teach this or that." Bingo! What is your leadership team's this or that? That's a great area to focus development.

3. Coaching the coach in person. It is important to give your managers feedback on how well they coach the staff, and the only way to do this effectively is to observe them while they're coaching. 

At least once a month, if not more, tell the staff that one of your managers is in charge for the day. They should see you as just another associate. Observe the manager and give her/him feedback at a couple points during the day. Don't wait until the end of the day, or the person will miss the opportunity to immediately apply the feedback.

Other coaching the coach opportunities include having managers lead staff meetings, join in on Take Fives, and even have them lead one-on-one discussions with associates.

So let me ask, how consistently are you developing your seasoned managers? Which of these tips might you apply, or is there something else you’ve been considering that you could move forward with?

By Doug Fleener 09 Apr, 2017

When talking with employees, especially when giving them feedback, the words we use can put them on their heels or on their toes.

Sometimes managers unintentionally choose words that put their employees on the defensive, or what I call on their heels. This is usually the result of starting feedback with what is perceived by the employee as an accusatory statement.

"Why didn't you bother to tell that customer about the GWP?"

"I don't think you care about your sales results."

"How come you didn’t offer the customer desert?"

"You had plenty of time to get that order out."

Anytime a person is back on their heels they're less likely to hear the message and apply the feedback. They’re going to spend all of their energy defending themselves.

The goal is to choose words that inspire people to listen, or put them on their toes leaning in, if you will.

" I have a few ideas of ways you can engage your customers with the GWP."

"I see your sales been lagging over the past few days. Let's sit down and discuss it."

"I noticed that you didn’t offer that last table desert. Here’s why it is so important that every customer gets to experience our delicious deserts.”

"Before you go, let's spend two minutes and talk about how your day went."

It's clear which statements the employee is more likely to listen to and apply the feedback.

The same holds true with customers. The words we choose either put them on their heels or toes.

"Do you have any questions?" and "How may I help you?" can put some customers on their heels.

"Let me show you..." and "Welcome. Let me tell you about...." will put more customers on their toes.

I encourage you to listen carefully to the words you use with your staff and customers, and determine if it is putting them on their heels or on their toes.

So let me ask, are you more likely to put someone on their heels or their toes?

By Doug Fleener 21 Mar, 2017

One day I was catching up with two friends over coffee when the conversation turned to how bad the traffic had been recently.

One friend told us how it was killing his productivity. He's an outside rep and the traffic kept him from seeing all of the accounts he planned to see.

The other friend is also a rep, but in a different field. The traffic also kept him from seeing all of his clients, but in the end he had a terrific sales week.

He had decided that he would use the time sitting in traffic to phone accounts he doesn't normally get to call on. As a result, he picked up a couple of additional orders he wouldn't have gotten without sitting in traffic.

Two people. Same traffic. Different results.

One person had better results because he had a different perspective. Instead of seeing the traffic only as an impediment, he took advantage of the challenge.

Here are three traffic perspectives store leaders will do well to remember.

1. Maximize every customer opportunity. I once had a store outside of Chicago that had to deal with terrible traffic but still produced amazing results. Their center simply didn't attract much attention, so the store leadership and staff quickly learned that every customer mattered. You don't have to be a slow store to apply that lesson.

2. No labeling customers. One word I never allowed my staff to use was "looker." The minute we label a customer a looker, we're really saying they aren't going to buy anything. It's funny how that is proven over and over.

One manager who recently took my coaching class had her staff stop using the word. Guess what? Yep, conversion went up. Our perspective has a huge impact on our results.

3. Own it. If you’ve heard me speak you’ve heard me say that when you own something, you have the power to change it. One of my coffee friends owned the bad traffic last week. He didn't sit in his car and fume or complain. He took action. 

Traffic is a real challenge for most stores. No way to sugarcoat it. At the same time we have no alternative but to own it. We have to take responsibility for driving existing clients and new customers into the store.

Make sure the entire staff is using downtime to reach out to customers. Plan small events. Set appointments for your top customers to come in and see the newest products. Refuse to let lack of traffic keep you from obtaining your goals. Own it!

Got too much traffic? First, thank your lucky stars. Then, have the staff practice working with multiple customers and group selling. Whatever your traffic... own it!

So let me ask, how is your traffic perspective?

How to use this article

Discuss your leadership group's traffic perspective with your managers. Which perspectives could benefit from a change?  Identify three actions they’ll take to get an even better perspective.

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