Only concrete results matter; tireless effort is just the stuff you do to get there.
I just had an experience with Altra support that was so remarkable that I had to comment on it.
I had a number of customer service interactions over the past few days and the very different levels of service by each company provided such contrast to the experience I just had with Altra that it made that interaction stand out boldly!
- My wife attempted to contact another running shoe manufacturer prior to my attempt to contact Altra and she’s still waiting for a reply. This is the worst.
- My sister had a bad experience with a location of a running shoe store chain and experienced a variety of service from them: some feeble attempts at customer recovery, followed by more earnest attempts, followed by them completely vanishing. Some good people, some weak. Super inconsitent.
- Yesterday I had a typical experience with a tech vendor that we work with where I asked a specific question and was provided the standard generic document. If there had been any understanding of this common concept by the support rep, a simple “yes” would have been so much more useful. Instead, it was easy to see the support philosophy behind their department. Minimally trained staff entering queries into a knowledgebase & spitting out the first thing that came back.
- Then another tech vendor that I work with requires me to get extensively involved in each request with many, many back and forth interactions, the need to correct support staff, the repeated need to clarify things over & over again often without any resolution.
Why So Good?
So what happened with Altra that was so great?
- I hit their website and there were a variety of ways to connect with them.
- They have live chat (which I didn’t use).
- They have email and phone support options available.
- They have ready social links.
- I took a look at the Altra Twitter stream and could see that they respond constantly to their customers.
- I looked at the Altra Facebook page and could see that they respond consitently there.
- I chose to Facebook message them as my request needed a bit of explantation & it was an out of the blue request.
- (I’d bought my first pair of Altras (Instinct 1.5) at a Road Runner Sports gently used sale and later noticed a weird bump in the midsole on one of the shoes. As it was at a sale where all sales were final and I got a chance to try them around the store, buying them was really on me. I also noticed after the fact that these were an older model that are on sale for just a bit more pretty much everywhere. I was wondering if Altra might be able to swap these out for me which they definitely didn’t have to do.)
- So my Facebook message was responded to in 12 minutes directing me to email one of their support stuff. Pretty damn awesome if you ask me.
- I emailed their support person and was responded to in 7 minutes. I responded & then they did again & closed the loop within a matter of minutes. Awesome.
- They also didn’t need my shoes back (trusted my situation though they’d never seen them) and just requested that I give them to a local charity. I thought that was pretty awesome too.
- I’m just now realizing that for all they know, I never even had a pair of Altras.
- And throughout the whole process, the interactions just seemed so nice and personable.
Fan For Life
Well, I’d done a couple runs in the shoes before I contacted them and other than the weird bump in the midsole and I really liked the fit. I do like the whole zero/low drop thing so I like the philosophy of their shoes.
I just never expected to have such a positive experience with them. But right now, they’ve really stood out over pretty much every company that I’ve had recent interaction with.
I’m definitely going to look for ways to find shoes of theirs that work for me. They definitely are doing some things right over there!
Ideas, markets, niches and causes have a natural scale. If you get it right, you can thrive for a long time. Overdo it and you stress the inputs.
The earth has a carrying capacity, certainly. It might change as a result of technology (we know how to grow food more efficiently than we did a century ago) but in any moment of time, there’s a limit beyond which degradation kicks in. I don’t think many would say that we currently have a people shortage. (Impossible to pull off, but worth considering: what if we skipped a growth cycle in the population and everyone in a generation had just two kids? Or even one…)
Your industry might have room for six or seven well-paid consultants, but when you try to scale up to 30 or 40 people on your team, you discover that it stresses the market’s ability to pay.
Interesting note: there’s also the common problem of under-staffing. More lawyers in a market might create more lawsuits. More effective ad vehicles certainly create more advertising. More lanes on the highway have been demonstrated to lead to more people commuting to work. Sometimes, adding capacity is exactly the right strategy if your goal is to add more revenue.
The next time you find your business struggling, take a minute to think about scale. More people (or fewer) might be the simplest way to solve your problem.
I found this to be a super interesting post. Seemed to speak to the level of success we’ve had at CSI over the years. I think one of the main reasons why things have gone so much better over the past year is that our scale is in better alignment.
I really don’t think you have to be a genius or do exceptional things to achieve a significant measure of success. All you got to do is not do anything stupid. I have ranted on this numerous times in the past.
Today, a couple things bugged me.
Infragistics Hides Its Charts
We use the Infragistics web chart controls for some of our development in SalesLogix. I was talking about this with my brother-in-law, Stu, tonight & was telling him how the other day we were in a meeting looking at the capabilities and I couldn’t even find a link showing all the different controls the product contained. How nuts is that? After another 45 minutes tonight, Stu found a link that showed all the controls.
Why not put that in an un-missable spot on the main product page? See what chart controls this product contains! Nope, let’s bury it. Nutso.
You can never, ever, ever, ever make something too obvious or simple or easy. So please try to stay out of your own way. Big fan of the Edit Weapon (Patrick Sullivan) with regard to this type of stuff, btw.
Jenny & Tim (coworkers) had the very same problem for a large portion of the day looking at programs to do employee reviews. No product information, no pricing information. And they were ready to buy!
Go Daddy Impasse
And another one tonight – I was trying to help my sister with her new site/blog that she is putting up. Came to find that her Go Daddy domain came with a free hosting account. Tried to set WordPress up on it only to run into brick wall after brick wall. Eventually happened upon an error message that said you couldn’t install WordPress using the free hosting account. Ok. Wish that was more visible but I can get that.
So we went & bought a Deluxe hosting account which you can use. So I go to install the domain on the new hosting account but I can’t because it’s not available. Ok, that makes sense. It’s probably still hooked to the other hosting account.
So I need to go back to the free hosting account & somehow detach the domain from it. Nope. Can’t delete it as it’s the primary. Add another domain to the free hosting account & go to set that as primary but get an error message that the primary domain name cannot be modified for free hosting accounts. Ok, so with the free accounts, you won’t let me do certain things so I’m guessing you want me to upgrade.
So I do, then you won’t let me detach my domain from the free account so I can take advantage of the product you just upsold me?
Sweet! Who thought of that one?
Please make it easy, simple, almost impossible to get wrong or to miss.
Some of the things I do like: Weebly (just the UI – it’s still too basic in functionality & too buggy to use), StatusHQ, FreshBooks, Highrise.
I tried to follow it myself when I put a call to action on our website homepage today – CSI. Chris Drake & Target Scope will probably croak at what I’ve done to their design but we want something easy & unmissable to start capturing more leads from our website traffic.
I love Gary Vaynerchuck’s concept of Hustle 2.0. His comments in the links I’m posting below actually gave me peace of mind.
It totally removed some of my bitterness for working long hours. Last week, I went until 5:30 am on Friday night, then Sunday night, I went until 6:00 am, Monday night, went until 5:45 am and Tuesday went until 3:30 am (training Wednesday morning at 8:00). Not happy. Wiped out & exhausted…
Basically Gary’s comments said that you’ve got to hustle. You’ve got to “work your face off” if you want to achieve great things. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that’s what it takes. I just have to better manage my workload & learn to say no a bit more so I can devote my hustle-time to projects that are going to directly benefit me & mine.
It’s also comforting to know that other people out there are cranking in that 9 pm to 1 am timeslot and it’s not because they have to but because they want to – they’re looking for the fruits of that work time to pay them back in the end.
I’m also reading The Now Habit by Neil Fiore which I really like. I think it’s already helping me get better with managing my time & projects. I’m just way too busy way too much of the time & probably not with the most important things.
Anyway, I said “no hustle 2.0” becuase I’ve still got this nasty, nasty cold hanging on & I just need to go to sleep. I’ll be back at it soon though & will be using my hustle time more wisely.
Gary mentions his Hustle 2.0 in the following links:
UPDATE: Gary is still preaching hustle. Saw a great video that reminded me of this post.
Came back & those links 404 now but the videos are still up so here you go:
Current take on the same: