We wrote about frictionless organizations several weeks ago. Frictionless firms are the ones that remove unnecessary hassle and complication from their interactions with clients and other businesses.

Yahoo thrust itself into the opposite category this week when it stopped allowing people to forward their Yahoo email address to another address. Accounts already set up for forwarding kept that capability, but no new Yahoo email forwarding accounts can be created.

This seems like an overreaction to the disclosure of a major hacking attack on Yahoo and the subsequent doubt over the company’s acquisition by Verizon. Rather than let prized email subscribers flee to the competition, Yahoo is locking them in.

That’s the worst possible reaction to crisis. Customers of any type–even those on free plans–should be nurtured without restriction. They stay if you care for them well. They leave if you don’t.  They leave for other reasons too, but locking an unwilling party into any deal can create a horrible relationship between business and client and bad word-of-mouth for the sake of a relatively small amount of incremental revenue.

We don’t have contract lengths. Every single client–even retainer clients–have a 30 day opt out clause. The 30 days is only to give both companies time to disentangle and transition work.

Take a look at your policies regarding customers especially during adverse times. Are you easy to do business with and as frictionless as possible? And how easy is it to stop working together once a client creates an emotional break with your organization?

Your Marketing Spotlight for October 31

Your Thought-Provoking Moment

Header photo by Chaz McGregor.  Other images are thumbnails from content on newsworthy websites and serve as links under the provisions of fair use.

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interior doorThe door would be normal except that the door handle is pulled up and the door is pulled to exit.

That’s two strikes for most people They can handle the door being pulled in, but complicating things by pulling the door handle up is a bit much. The image is poor because I was inside an imaging center with someone and had to hurriedly grab a cell phone photo while the radiology tech intoned, “Pull Up” in a tone usually heard when parents tell a pre-teen, well, anything for the fifth time that day.

The room behind us had machines that cost more than my car, maybe more than my first home.  There were other rooms with MRI machines and other acronyms that most people hear during bad times or on television.

The place was a tribute to modern medicine, scientific advancement and the best that money can buy.

Except for the door.

And let you think I’m going to rail about the door handle being installed in a way that isn’t typical, I am here to reassure you that I understand these things happen.  They’re dumb things to have happen when everything else is great, but we all understand they happen.


My issue is with the two pieces of tape that read:

To Exit,

Pull Handle Up ^

Worsening matters is the up arrow drawn in black marker and unnecessarily labeled “Up” on a door that some purchasing agent negotiated hard to buy for a good price.  All of this activity–the drawing, the two arrows and the word “up” takes place at the waist-high height where most people reach a door handle.  This is in a room filled with people who don’t regularly visit so the simple act of opening the door to leave frustrates the staff.  Their annoyed tones are the last thing people here, and the thing they remember.

The answer for this organization is to simply buy the proper door handle and a simple “Pull” sign available at any office supply or hardware store. If the staff really had to take matters into their hands, something posted at eye-level would help.

But even that only solves the problem of the door in the imaging room.  The bigger, possibly organization-wide issue is that no one is experiencing the organization as a customer does. This minor issue could be a symptom of something bigger.  At best, the cheapo solution doesn’t work. At worst, people may leave with a sense that of something amiss, all because of frustration around a door handle and the way the organization dealt with it.

Your takewaway as an organization’s leader is to walk through your organization this week like a client or prospect does.  What takes special knowledge to understand, and what is idiosyncratic to your firm?  Could you benefit from a mystery shopper program?

What kind of messages is your firm sending for lack of a minor change?

You don’t have to pay a lot for a program if your firm is still small. Offer to switch places with a trusted partner and compare notes.  You’ll bond with your partner, and you’ll both save money.

Proactively monitoring customer satisfaction in your business improves everything.   We’ve touched on finding complaints in the past.  You can’t do enough of that work.

But how your organization reacts to customer complaints is even more important.   If you can’t get complaint resolution right, fold up your tents and quit or sell the company.  You must live by a culture of “every complaint properly handled every time”.  That does not mean robotic greetings and talk tracks that emphasize upsells.

Think of  a business version of The Golden Rule.

We recently saw both sides of the coin at our payroll company.  We love our payroll company.  They are always responsive, the price is reasonable and the service is easy to use.   But we apparently threw them for a loop when we hired an employee in another state.

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