Working with the negatives to make a better picture…

by seantm

Sometimes lyrics from a song can stop you in your tracks and make you think.

A couple weeks ago while driving a 35′ RV  through the Redwoods of California I was listening to a little hip hop.

I was listening to a Drake song (HYFR) where he talked about being interviewed. He cleverly rapped about the questions he is asked repeatedly and the answers he gives.

One of the questions and answers that stood out to me was the following…

Q: “What have you learned since getting richer?”

A: I’ve learned that working with the negatives to make better pictures”

One of my favorite things about hip hop is how creative lyricists like Drake can be. I can listen to the same song 100 times and almost each time catch a different string of lyrics that really stops me in my tracks and makes me think.

As was the case with this set of lyrics mentioned above.

I began to think about those lyrics and how they applied to business.

And it hit me how true those words were…

How these lyrics apply to my business:

Earlier this year I sent the following email to an email list of over 800 people who refunded one of our products last year. We already have a low refund rate (around 5%) but I thought – maybe just maybe there was something we could learn that would help improve things for the the 95% who did not refund and future customers…. boy was I in for a big surprise…

Here is the exact email I sent:

The responses that came back were shocking….and they were numerous.

If memory serves me correct the email generated over 500 responses. I sat there at my computer after sending the email and watched the responses pour in. Within minutes of sending the email the responses started pouring in.

I was expecting answers like:

“Your product sucked”

“I didn’t learn anything”

“It was too technical for me”

Take a wild guess what the #1 reason people asked for a refund was.

The #1 reason for refunds – shocked me!

“Hey Sean – I really enjoyed “X- product”. The only reason I asked for a refund is because I bought it twice on accident.”

The first few emails that came in with this response I somewhat dismissed. I thought they were somehow mistaken or had our product confused with another – the reason being is that our shopping cart does not allow you to add additional items or purchase the same product twice or more.

A few minutes later when I literally had around 10 emails come in saying the same thing – I began to investigate further. The results shocked me – they were 100% correct and to my dismay many people had bought our products multiple times. I searched the customer records and saw the same people purchasing the same product multiple times. They were orders for “John Doe” of FBInfluence at 10:06 pm and then another at 10:11pm and so on…

Many had bought more than twice – one person purchased one of our products as many as 8 times….

I looked into the issue and discovered we had server issues. We were getting slammed at peak times and our servers couldn’t handle the traffic. Our customers were landing on our merchant provider’s check out pages – purchasing and then instead of being re-directed to a registration page (on our server) – they were served a blank page because our servers were getting hammered with traffic at that moment in time.

Immediately I had some changes made to beefier servers that could handle more traffic than we could throw at it – and boom in a matter of minutes a huge negative had been worked with to create a better picture.

There were also several other great responses that lead to some major changes. We made some design changes to help make our member’s area more easy to navigate, and some customer service changes were made to address issues we discovered in that arena.

As I drove that day thinking about what Drake had said – I thought he was absolutely right. I worked with the negatives and made a better picture.

No longer do people deal with the server issues, our member’s areas are better than ever. Our customer support is stronger than ever…..

Too often we ignore the negatives in life and business and dismiss them or choose to focus on the positives – but as Drake said – if you work with the negatives you can create a better picture…..

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Sean Malarkey • Copyright ® 2011 All Rights Reserved.