Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Customer Service is Everywhere

(1:06) There are commonalities to every customer service experience no matter what the industry, the quality of the product or service, or the medium used to deliver it.

(1:01) I often examine the various customer service experiences I have day to day. It might be a meal at a restaurant, a product purchased at a store or online, or a phone or email exchange with my credit card company or bank. It could be my interaction with a marina.

(0:52) If you have followed my Minutes for some time you will probably recall I have used these experiences to help make some of my points - Hertz and Chewy.com come to mind. Chewy hit it out of the park, while Hertz fell miserably short.

(0:45) Take a little time to examine the customer service experiences you encounter each day. A quick mental note as you leave the grocery store or restaurant - on a scale of one to ten how satisfied were you and why? What could they have done better? What did they do right? Did they exceed your expectations in some way or fall short? How?

(0:34) I believe doing an exercise such as this will bring home the essence of good customer service. I also think you might be surprised at how subtle the things can be that distinguish good from mediocre and mediocre from bad customer service.

(0:26) When you do encounter that inevitable bad customer service experience, think through how it could have been done differently. How could the problem have been avoided? How could it have been turned around? How would you have handled the aftermath?

(0:19) It is easy to become numb to the encounters you have day after day in your own industry. I think that by stepping out into other areas, ones that have real meaning to you, you can gain a fresh perspective. It can remind you how you feel when an encounter goes well, or not.r every day.

(0:09) It can also generate fresh ideas as you consider how to bring your positive experiences into your own customer service model. Never lose an opportunity to examine and learn from the customer service experiences you encounter every day.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

This is Big!

(1:04) Last week at the Miami Boat Show, the biggest announcement in our history was made. C-MAP, one of the largest producers of digital, worldwide charts, announced they will be integrating ActiveCaptain into their most popular C-MAP charting products. This is big. Really big.

(0:57) It took ActiveCaptain 8 years to gain a quarter of a million users, and we are proud of that milestone. However, the C-MAP announcement puts ActiveCaptain onto the screens of 600 models of chartplotters. Not 600 devices but 600 models. That translates into over a million new devices that will display the ActiveCaptain data. It will include new models and older, legacy ones as well.

(0;46) The list of supported devices will include most of the chartplotters from Simrad, B&G, Lowrance, Raymarine, Sitex, Humminbird, Standard Horizon, and many others. Virtually no boater will be left behind.

(0:40) At last year's Miami Boat Show Furuno announced the first chartplotter to incorporate ActiveCaptain data. At that time I wrote:

(0:36) "It's quite a win for us but it's a win for you as well. Now boaters will be able to access all of the wealth of ActiveCaptain data right at their helm as they plan their voyages and as they are underway. Integrating ActiveCaptain's vast database of marinas, boatyards, anchorages, hazards, and local knowledge with the sophisticated features of high-end chartplotters brings everything the boater needs into one place."

(0:24) C-Map will begin releasing products with the new content and functionality with their spring 2016 catalogs set to be released in March. You can see their official news release here:


(0:20) With so many more boaters gaining access to the ActiveCaptain data, now is the time to ensure that all of your data is accurate and complete. And don't forget boater reviews. Never miss a chance to ask your customers for an honest review. Nothing is more important than lots of good quality reviews. Every one of those reviews will be on the chartplotter that guides each boat into your facility.

(0:09 ) This announcement allows us all to reach new heights with many, many more people now accessing the ActiveCaptain data. If we had a hand in bringing boaters to you before, our influence will now be 5 times greater. Review your data and don't ignore this opportunity to get into the helms of more boats.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Finding Your Target Market

(1:03) One key to successful marketing is being able to accurately define your target market - that boater who is destined to be your customer. Understanding who these boaters are and why they come to your facility can help you focus your efforts. How can you find and attract these critical customers?

(0:54) Know your current customers
Keep track of information about the boaters that are already using your services. Boat type, size, transients or long term, and what services they use are all things you should readily know. Now think even further. Are they DIY'ers, leave it and forget or somewhere in between? Do they travel a long distance or are you the closest option? Is social interactions important? Are they families with children or retirees? The possibilities go on and on. The more information you can gather about the boaters that are already using your services, the better you can target new customers.

(0:33) Ask how they found you
I've done whole Minutes on this idea and I am still amazed at the number of marinas that do not find out what brought a boater in. From a purely practical standpoint it allows you to stop wasting your money on promotional activities that are not working. It also allows you to put more efforts into the ones that are. It can provide insight into their interests and habits. Always ask a boater how they found out about your facility - always.

(0:18) Ask Them to Write a Review
While any positive review is good, reviews from boaters who fit your target market can be even more powerful. They are more likely to touch on the factors that will speak to that target market.

(0:03) Following these simple steps can help you define and leverage your target customers. And that can lead to more business.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


(1:02) I recently ran across the follow piece by Mark Sanborn, president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc. Being married to a highly creative person, it is easy for me to fall into the traps he describes. I generally don't think of myself as creative, so it's good to be reminded that creativity is in reach for all of us.

(0:52) 5 Things You Need to Know about Creativity

(0:51) 1. It is a muscle, not a muse.
Creativity is developed from effort. The more you exercise your creativity, the stronger it becomes.

(0:48) 2. Persistance trumps passion.
Rarely is great creativity accomplished quickly by passionate insight. More often it comes after much deliberation, labor and false starts. Passion is good, but persistence is more dependable.

(0:42) 3. Not everyone can be a genius, but anyone can be better.
I was never good enough to be a starter on my junior high basketball team, but I still play hoops in the driveway with my sons. Few achieve pro status in the world of creativity, but the rest of us can continually improve and learn to not only use the process but enjoy it as well.

(0:32) 4. The most important ingredient is effort.
The next time you hear someone say, "I'm just not creative," ask them how they know. People often let a perceived lack of ability prevent them from even trying. Reframe creativity to attempts, not just great successes.

(0:25) 5. Tools are everywhere.
The world is a sensory rich environment. You can get fantastic ideas for your work just by paying attention to what’s going on around you. Great writers of dialogue aren’t just making it up; they get their ideas from listening to what lots of different people say. Notice and note the interesting things you hear and see, whether the use of color, a turn of a phrase or a surprising element added to a familiar situation.

(0:12) The last point is something I do all the time. Most customer service interactions I have - at a marina, a restaurant, on the phone with customer support, anywhere - I analyze what was good and what could be better. This little exercise has taught me volumes about great customer service.

(0:04) So don't hesitate to exercise your creativity muscle to find ways to bring in more business.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.