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Superhero or CEO? The 20-80 Customer

Posted by: In: Blog 27 Oct 2016 Comments: 0


Next on Aldo’s list of imperative tasks is to create a framework for a talk to a group of CEO’s belonging to the Entrepreneurs Organisation (EO) Johannesburg Chapter. Charles recently introduced him to EO, the world’s only peer-to-peer network exclusively for entrepreneurs, where he realised that not only could he learn from other CEO’s but he also has immense value to add to them.

Fortunately Aldo is very comfortable on a stage having played many lead parts during his school career. He also has first-hand experience in selling an idea that people remember long after they have heard the talk. The secret was to tell a story that touches the emotional cords of the audience. Aldo knows what CEO’s in today’s market want to hear. He started crafting the framework for his story around a specific topic, one that they did not necessarily want to hear. This is how he would strike an emotional cord with most of the audience.

Aldo was about 20minutes into deep concentration on crafting his story’s framework when the phone rang. Fully aware that Charmaine had strict orders not to disturbed him when he has blocked out time for creative work; unless it was an emergency.

“Yes Charmaine?” Aldo asked with concern.

“It’s Sandy.”

Sandy is the CEO from one of Able Enterprises 20% customers that make up 80% of their revenue. Aldo had always been an avid believer of the Pareto principle (also known as the 80/20 rule), which helps him focus on the right activities and the right areas.

“Hi Sandy, how are you and how is the training going?” Aldo asked inquisitively. Sandy was an extreme athlete and when not at her desk she was in the mountains, either running or cycling. Today, however, she was not in the mood to talk about her first love.

“Everything is going great Aldo, except for the delivery of your products.“ Sandy blurted.

She is a no-bullshit type of CEO and always gets straight to the point. One of the main reasons Aldo does business with Sandy is because of this and also her authenticity and her core value for Able Enterprises.

“You guys have always delivered on time, at the right quality and the right quantity. But over the last month the wheels have come off and this morning’s delivery was the last straw.” she explained.

“We have never had an issue with quality, and still don’t. But your trucks are delivering the wrong items and the wrong quantities. You are putting me in a very difficult situation, Aldo. How do I now deliver on the promises I made to my clients? We had a deal Aldo, is that not right?”

Aldo could feel the anger building up in his gut. He knew exactly what deal Sandy was referring too. Able’s brand promise to clients, is not an empty one but one with cause and effect. And in this case, if a client like Sandy, took a knock from their client because of incorrect deliveries from Able, Able would have to pay in the difference. And with profits declining this is not what Aldo wanted to hear. But a promise is a promise and in line with Able’s core values this was not negotiable.

For the next 45 minutes Aldo listened intently to Sandy’s story to understand the exact cause of the problem from her perspective. Through a breathing exercise that his Tai Chi teacher taught him he was able to manage his anger and turn it into an enquiring energy. Once Aldo had heard what he needed to hear, he thanked Sandy for giving them an opportunity to live out their brand promise. Opportunities like this, however painful, help staff understand what the core value of authenticity means; what we do and what we say are in sync.

Aldo knew that for the rest of the day he was not going to be able to complete his talk so he turned to his dairy and scheduled some time in to do it the next day. He now has a high priority customer issue to deal with and it was almost 14h00.

As a seasoned leader Aldo was fully aware it would be counterproductive to walk into the store and start demanding answers about Sandy’s delivery. He has learned that even though the customer is always right there are two sides to every coin. And to ensure he supported the accountability culture he had no issue to lead by example. The first thing was to gather the facts. At the stores Aldo followed the paper trail of Sandy’s delivery and gathered the facts from the relevant people.

It was 14h50 and Aldo had enough facts to have a discussion with Josh. Another item to add to the agenda for his meeting in a few minutes. He was not looking forward to it. At 14h55 Aldo opened the door to the board room. Josh was already there and stood up to greet him.

“Hi Aldo”, Josh said with a confident and friendly voice. “How are you?”

Aldo now dreaded this conversation even more.

To be continued…

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