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Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Technologies You Can Use

Profit-Boosting Technologies For P/V/H Professionals

By Terry L. Brock

In today’s “Gotta-have-it-yesterday” environment it pays to have a competitive advantage. Focusing on the relationships of business more than the technology is what I’ve been speaking about for a long time. Successful P/V/H professionals know that it is the relationships that they establish, enhance and build upon that will move them to success in the future.

Technology plays a vital role in staying in touch with customers and educated on up to date events, skills and more. But with all the massive amount of technology available, what is a P/V/H professional to get? What is too much? Hey, we’re not techno-geeks with propels (at least most of us!), but we do want something that saves us time and money and helps increase sales.

To save you time and money---not to mention the aggravation--- here is a list of technologies that can help you if you are mobile or in the office. You might be using some of these and others could help you as you build you inventory of great tools:

1. Laptop Computer. This is a must-have for the mobile professional and a likely profitable tool for the executive who moves back and forth from office to home. Lightweight laptops today give you the ability not only to connect with your team worldwide via the Internet, but you can jot down quick ideas, record an audio or video message easily and make it available to others. What to look for? Minimum of 256MB of RAM (internal memory), Minimum of 60GB storage on the hard drive, 1024X768 resolution to see clearly, the lighter the better---some machines produced by Dell, Sony and Toshiba weigh less than 3 lbs. and provide full functionality. Also, look for USB (Universal Serial Bus) ports, 2 would be critical and 4 better. If you’re doing any external storage or video work (good idea!), look for the IEEE 1394 connection (also called “Firewire” from Apple or iLink from Sony).

2. Digital Camera. You never know when you’re going to encounter that great photo. You might be on the road and see something that could help a distributor. A quick photo brings to life a lot and means a lot when you see it. If you’re going to mainly send pictures through e-mail or use in a PowerPoint Presentation, you can get a digital camera with 2-3 mega pixels. There is no need for a higher resolution unless you plan to pint a lot of pictures in the 8 X 10 format (much larger). If you want to print 4 X 6 pictures, the 2-3 mega pixel cameras will suit you just fine. I recently purchased the Kodak EasyShare C330 for $160. Great price for a powerful camera that delivers excellent snapshots.

3. Digital Voice Recorder. These handy devices are a must-have for the mobile professional today. How many times have you been driving down the road and then get a bright, really good idea? If you’re like me you might say to yourself, “Oh, I’ll have to remember that,” and then forget it later when you needed it. So, capture that thought immediately on a digital voice recorder. You can later transfer it over to your computer to enter an action item into your daily planner or have your secretary process it. I’ve put together a special video on a digital voice recorder that I’m using and recently purchased. It can save you a lot of time and effort. Go to and watch this short video (requires Windows Media Player installed --- a free download). You can see how it works and use it to boost your productivity.

4. Video on the Net. This is a powerful tool to stand out from the crowd. Let’s face it, today we all get WAY too much e-mail. You want your e-mail messages to stand out. A great way to do that is with a customized, personal video that you create for a top customer or prospect. Watch the above video and note how I did what I did. Read between the lines and think about how you and your people can use that technology also. I used a program called Visual Communicator from a company called Serious Magic ( to do it along with my notebook computer and a little camcorder. That’s it! You can do the same type of thing to stand out for your customers.

5. Handheld Computer. What used to be called a PDA---personal digital assistant--- is now referred to as a handheld computer. They do a lot more than just keep track of your calendar and address book. I use my Dell Axim X50v to record voice notes, do my word processing, listen to audio and watch video. Devices like the Treo 650 provide a telephone and a host of other business-boosting tools into one tiny unit. Some of these tools let you check e-mail remotely, check the Net and more. Take your office with you as you travel. This makes a big difference in your ability to stay competitive and get ahead in today’s hot marketplace.

There are many more tools that can help you as a P/V/H professional. I’ll look forward to hearing from you regarding what you’re using and how it has helped you. Drop me a note and let me know what you’re doing so we can share it with others. In the meantime, focus on building those relationships and leveraging technology.

________________________________________Terry Brock is a marketing coach who helps business owners market more effectively leveraging technology. He has worked with manufacturers and distributors to boost sales, increase efficiency and achieve their goals. He can be reached at 407-363-0505, by e-mail at or through his website at

Copyright © 2005, Terry Brock, All Rights Reserved Internationally. No portion may be reprinted or used in any way without prior written permission. Permission granted to The Wholesaler to use in regular publication.

Customer Service Collision

Customer Service Collision: How to Avoid Catastrophes

By Terry L. Brock

I was having lunch the other day with some friends and the conversation turned to recent experiences with businesses and customer service. One of my friends related how she had some damage to her car’s bumpers (front and back) after a minor accident. She took her car into a local repair shop (we’ll call it “Orlando Collision,”--- not their real name---for the sake of discussion).

What should have been a routine experience for her turned into a Customer Service Collision. Perhaps you can relate. There are a lot of ways that you can turn her negative experience into a positive one for your business.

But I get ahead of myself.

Repairing bumpers is not a big deal for a business like Orlando Collision since this is what they do and it should have taken one, maybe two days tops. However, she knew something was wrong as the delays went on and it stretched over a week to get it done. The company complained about the insurance, what would be covered, blah, blah blah.

Have you noticed that a lot of companies substitute genuine customer care and service with “blah, blah, blah?” the form it takes is slightly different for each company, depending on the jargon used, but it still boils down to the business not providing human connections with the customer. Instead they use a bunch of mumbo-jumbo gibberish to confuse the customer.

Well, after a long, seemingly endless delay for my friend, she finally went back to Orlando Collision to get her car. As she was in a rush she happily drove her car home for the weekend looking forward to everything being back to normal.

That weekend she decided to wash her car. When she got to the rear bumper, which should have been repaired, she noticed that the damage was still there from the week-earlier experience.

This is a problem but could have been used as a great way for our friends at “Orlando Collision” to rectify the situation, apologize profusely, help her get it straight and win her devotion as a customer for life. But, unfortunately, “Orlando Collision” didn’t think that way.

My friend brought her car back and before she could even voice the problem, a very undignified, rude “service” (we’ll use that word loosely!) lady behind the counter said to her sarcastically, “So, you had more damage this weekend?” My friend calmly said that it was the same damage that should have been repaired the first time.

The “service” lady (again, we’re talking a very loose interpretation of “service”) accused my friend of getting into another accident and trying to take advantage of their shop. Rather than helping their customer, this “service” lady assumed that my friend was covering up a second accident, she was trying to rip off their business and my friend was at fault.

This is the moment of truth for your business as well. The problem is not that there is a problem. Welcome to my planet. Problems are a big part of what we do. Even with the best of intentions, plans, systems, etc., your business will encounter “oops” events that occur. It is how you handle the “oops” that separates you from the competition.

Well, after being humiliated by the “service” lady, my friend asked to see the manager. What happened next puts it all in perspective. This employee of Orlando Collision said, “He’s sitting right here,” and pointed to a gentleman sitting next to her pecking away on a computer who had been listening to the entire conversation. This gentleman (I’m getting very loose with my terms today), didn’t say a word but instead shrugged my friend off with a hand motion and continued pecking away on his computer.

Yikes! This type of situation emerges when people focus on the task at hand more than the people. News Flash Orlando Collision ---you’re in business for people---not computers! It is the customers who pay your salary, fund the business and make it happen. Yes, computers are nice and helpful, but they fall a distant second, third or lower priority, to a customer who is frustrated and needs your help.

After several minutes with my friend patiently waiting for a response the manager finally left the computer and said, “Well, I’ll have to compare your bumper to the pictures we have on file.” Ugh! Adding insult to injury he implied that my friend was fabricating this and trying to take advantage of the business!

When the pictures showed that the damage was the same, the manager muttered something unintelligible about the insurance, what they could do, etc. Sounds like more “Blah, blah, blah” to me. They knew they were wrong and had falsely accused my friend but instead of apologizing and remedying the situation, the resorted to the “blah, blah, blah” technique.

News Flash Orlando Collision --- The “blah, blah, blah” technique doesn’t work!

As of this writing the situation is still in limbo and my friend doesn’t know exactly what is going to happen. But some powerful learning is packed into this example for our business.

First, have systems in place that make the experience a pleasant one for your customer. Every time a customer comes to you, they are there because they have pain and want it solved, Either they need a car repaired, they need a tooth fixed, their sales need to increase or something---they need your help. That’s why they came to you. The first responsibility of your business is having the right systems in place to effortlessly help them and make them happy to work with you.

Second, realize that stuff happens in the real world. Correct it as rapidly as possible for your customer. Make them feel good about working with you. These times are wonderful to bond with that customer and generate more loyalty than if everything went just right.

Third, yes, the customer is going to interrupt you at times when you are doing other tasks. However, remember why you’re in business in the first place. It is not to “work on the computer” but to relieve the pain of customers.

At least we can thank “Orlando Collision” for teaching us lessons about customer service. Perhaps one other lesson will be to avoid them and similar businesses like theirs and take our business to those who demonstrate genuine, real customer care!


Terry Brock is a marketing coach who helps business owners market more effectively leveraging technology. He shows busy professionals how to squeeze more out of their busy days using the right rules and tools. He can be reached at 407-363-0505, by e-mail at or through his website at

Copyright © 2005, Terry Brock, All Rights Reserved Internationally. No portion may be reprinted or used in any way without prior written permission. Permission granted to Biz Journals to use