This is post number eight (of ten total in this “Obsess” series), and we’re starting to come ’round full-circle, tying things together. The overall message is simple and there’s no reason to do endless reiteration but, in “getting it,” there’s good reason to examine the foundational points from different angles.

ashleigh brilliant last chancePoint of Sale (POS) obsesses me to the point of religious dogma. Along with my continuous haranguing about the reduction of complexity, the Point of Sale thread is prominent in all aspects of the Work the System Method. The ability to act and respond right now is a colossal advantage, while the effort required to do it is minuscule. The POS/Do it Now precept can be applied all day long. There’s no investment required.

Besides making the day smooth, satisfying and hyper-efficient, it’s the customer service shortcut for creating “raving fans.” (Raving Fans is a great book, BTW).

In considering the value of POS customer service, here are four negative and four positive situations that I’ve experienced within the last couple of months (there have been many, many more, but these will make my point, and no-doubt cause you to come up with your own examples). These are not made-up instances; these actually happened:

  1. My consulting business partner, Josh Fonger, responds to the CEO of a small company who says he is desperate to straighten out his failing business. He says that “things happen slowly or not at all,” and that it’s making him crazy. He really likes my book and says that’s exactly what he wants for his operation. Josh and this CEO talk for more than an hour. Just after, Josh takes an hour to prepare a written summary and proposal, running it by me for a double-check. That same day,  Josh calls back to talk to the potential consulting client about the proposal and ends up with the business owner’s virtual assistant who says, “______ is VERY busy! I’m sure you understand! I can schedule you a telephone appointment in just over two weeks from today. Josh checks back directly with the CEO, and gets this annoyed response: “My VA makes those decisions. You have to go with whatever she says. Get to know her, she’s a really nice person.” On so many levels, that’s horrible leadership and it’s obvious why this CEO is in trouble.
  2. I talk to a CEO, in Asia, who says he will have one of his managers get back to me to “make arrangements.” The manager doesn’t reach me for a whole week. This has happened twice before with this CEO and this particular manager. It’s obvious that anyone who wants anything from these people must wait seven days for a call-back. (“Hmmmm. Let me see. How can I annoy everyone and degrade my business? I know! I won’t return anyone’s call for at least seven days!”)
  3. People promise to call and they don’t call. This problem is everywhere. You know it’s true.
  4. The advertising consultant makes call after call to land my business. I finally buy. Once he’s made the sale, the only way I can get a rise out of this guy is by begging and/or yelling. Since that’s not my management style, I fire him.
  5. I order a book from Amazon, using One-Click. It takes me twenty seconds. The book is on my desk in two days. I will not consider buying a book from anyone else (unless I’m in Powell’s Books in Portland which is a whole other wonderful story).
  6. Service in Costco, Walmart, Apple Stores, etc.: Incredible. I go back over and over and over. (Postscript based on reader-feedback: At Walmart and Costco, real-time in-the-isles customer service is not equivalent to Nordstrom. Here, my definition of customer service is “the availability of a wide range of  high quality products at a low price.” Fending for myself in the isles is a small price to pay.)
  7. It seems to me one of our websites is slow to come up. Our IT guys measure it and agrees. We go to considerable time and expense to move to a faster hosting company, one which costs twice as much. It’s worth it even though no one will ever remarks that our site seems fast. That’s OK, we have faith the effort and cost is well worth it. (“Quiet Courage.”)
  8. In my own businesses, my staff responds to my requests within minutes. They do this for each other, too. I crave time in the office. It’s fun and satisfying to be in the mix.

I’ve described the POS strategy as an imbedded attitude, not just a management technique one must remember to apply. It’s an ever-present, assertive mindset where there is never anything left undone. It’s “the moment-to-moment game of getting the wheels turning now.”

Other related posts are Emailed Voice Mail and Total Inbox. The most comprehensive summary is my book, Work the System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less which, via my fervent POS stance, I’ve updated with each of its nine printings and through three editions. So the book itself is a good example of getting things done now…I talk in detail about the book’s evolution in the Preface to the Third Edition.

Consider this: It will take X minutes to do a particular task whether you do it now or next week. So, why not do it POS? It’s almost always better to have an instant response. Look at every single successful business that’s out there. The commonality is simple-to-understand, fast service. That’s what you want for your own business.

Focus on Point of Sale and everything will fall into place.

Some homework: Go through the next two days without postponing anything. With everything you do, think, can I automate, delegate or discard? Experiment. See that POS is a good thing and then make the POS stance permanent.


 Ten Concepts That Obsess Me Now
Part 1, Point of Sale
Part 2, Critical Thinking Search and Rescue
Part 3, A Business is a Dispassionate Machine
Part 4, Hyper-Efficiency Via Total Inbox
Part 5, Emailed Voice Mail (EVM)
Part 6, Thinking Slow, Moving Fast
Part 7, Deal Killers and the Main Machine
Part 8, The Simple Key to Double Sales and Create Raving Fans (This Post)
Part 9, The Tail Wagging the Dog Syndrome
Part 10, Do You Have Quiet Courage?