Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The Next Big Thing?

I get asked often by associates and customers “What’s the next frontier for Beachbody? What’s the next big thing the CEO is working on?”

It’s interesting to prospect for opportunity – it comes with the “CEO” title, especially as a creative guy who relishes the start-up process. It’s my job to keep an eye on the horizon for the next opportunity. But in an industry that is enamored of “what’s hot” and “what’s new”, one of the distinguishing things which has made our company successful is our persistence and focus, facilitating growth at the same time we are living within our means.

The more I have kept my eye on maximizing investments we’ve made and doubled-down by investing in fixing the problems which are causing customer grief, the stronger we have grown.

Right now I find myself in that very same situation: Maximize the business at hand more than prospect for “the next big thing”.

We have a great catalog of products which have a compelling marketing message and which are effective solutions for the customer. But what used to be a simple business of one or two offer set-ups has matured into a complex matrix of options. From “Try it free” to “Buy the entire thing today for this special price”, the complexity of offer structure is daunting when you multiply it over all the variations, and the ripple effect of issues all the way through marketing, operations, finance, and customer service gets very complicated. Last year we felt like we were at the top of our game. In an effort to better serve the marketplace, we added this layer of complexity, and the challenge is being felt in every corner of the business – and that means it's also being felt by the customer.

Lately I’ve seen emails from some frustrated customers, some who didn’t really understand an offer, others who didn’t appreciate the way they were treated by a customer service rep. It makes me wince every time I get a customer email that says something like “you obviously don’t care about the customer at your company”, because I wake up caring about the customer, and I spend the day caring about the customer, as does the entire management team of this company. But when you’re growing customer service by 10% a week, the process of training and retaining quality people is a race against time and volume. We’re doing our best. We answer every email. We’re adding technology. We're clarifying offer structure. We’re hiring more people, and investing more in training. And as we inch toward 24/7 customer service hours, it’s a daily struggle to maintain quality. So far, the team is doing a great job, and the entire company is working to improve everything.

My job as CEO is to make sure management is focused on maximizing the commitments we've already made, including attending closely to the customer experience, not just looking for the next new thing. We have to maximize the customer relationship, live up to our promises, and above all else, support the customer in achieving the REAL point of our relationship: the achievement of fitness and weight loss.

Right now I am working on making sure as many people as possible are hearing about the products and programs we have created. At the same time, I am making sure that the people who are responding to our offers are getting the attention -- the same kind of service they would get if this company were just me sitting at a card table with one product and enough cash to break a hundred dollar bill. Bigger will not mean a dillution in overall customer satisfaction -- not here anyway.

That’s not the glamorous priority of the title, CEO, but it’s the part of the job that helps the whole enterprise feel good about the work. That doesn’t mean we don’t have a few new things on the drawing board. Clearly, TurboJam™ has the potential to be a blockbuster. And when that product gets added to the catalog this summer, it will get the benefit of a fortified infrastructure and solid business approach that treats the customer with respect, maximizes investment in development, and stays focused on what’s really “the next big thing”… our growing list of real customer success stories.

8 comments:

Mary Cecy said...

Carl,
I have the biggest admiration for what you have done for your company with Jon. It just helps so many people. I am sorry you hear the bad emails but they do come with the territory. It definitely helps in making your company #1 among others.

Carl Daikeler said...

No such thing as bad emails - unless we didn't respond to them and work to improve based on the collective priorities. We are responding. I wish we were perfect, but then the kind of thing Beachbody is doing wouldn't have been a challenge. There's a reason we're the only one's doing what we do and attracting the kind of spirited customers (like you Mary!) as we do. There's something special here. That's the fun part of all this!

Andrea Daoust said...

Hi Carl- just out of curiosity- I was wondering why the informercials are not available to watch on the website? Is there a particular reason for this? I am curious to see some - but because I live in Canada and can't afford cable at the moment- I haven't been able to see any of the informercials I am curious about.

Carl Daikeler said...

We're considering streaming the infomercial from Beachbody.com, but haven't gotten around to it yet. We are adding clips where possible and approrpiate (P90X, for instance)

KarissaEB said...

No worries about negative emails. Either they just don't want to listen, or they're one of those scammers that were out to make BB look bad in the first place. (I don't mean to be so negative, but I live in the capital of the WORLD for people like that. LOL!) You guys rock as it is! Just can't please everybody... and normally, they realize what a jerk they were in the end. Unless they really are just out of touch with the rest of humanity. Can't WAIT for TurboJam! I will most definitely be buying that!

Carl Daikeler said...

I appreciate how you would defend us, but honestly, negative emails are a signal that there really is an issue we need to look at. When I have the courage to face them without expecting myself or the company to be perfect, there is always the inclination to do what it takes to move toward perfection. Operationally, I know we have issues - every marketing company does. I like thaty people expect great things from us - it's a compliment. They wouldn't expect it if we didn't demonstrate that we are capable of it.

Paul said...

Well, as a customer I first found the structure of ordering and automaticly being shipped a new product every month a little uncomfortable. Then I used your wonderfull online chat feature, and the customer support rep did a great job explaining how it all works. Explained I could opt out at any time (which I probably didn't bother reading when I initially ordered). Then the rep gave me the specifics of the next order I would recieve, date, price, product. I would like to see an on-line status of my account, with the ability to manage my program a little more. If i'm short on money this month I'd like to push off the next video shipment. I'f I'm ready for something new, I would like to (for a cost) excelerate the next shippment. I think what you have is great!, but also there is so much mroe you could do.

Anonymous said...

Hi Carl,

I'm Fit1 at the BB forums. I posted the following under the forum Fitness Systems and got several positive replies to my suggestion. I hope you read it as well as I am sure a good number of consumers would also agree:

The thread title is:

Please Bring Back the One Payment/3 Month Payment Schemes

A year ago I remember buying Power 90 using the 3 month payment option which I just click online. However, I don't see such an option now. All I see is the "introductory program" which automatically renews you and sends you a new DVD every 2 months or so.

I personally feel we should have the option to choose and pay for:
1. one payment for the complete kit
2. 3 month payments for the complete kit
3. "introductory program"

What I don't like about the intro program is I also have to pay additional S&H plus tax for every new shipment of DVD. I would rather buy the complete set and pay the S&H plus CA tax (since I live in CA) all at one time. If I am not interested in the program, I could just return the entire kit within 30 days (less S&H and CA tax). I believe this was the system before right? So I really hope you would give us, the consumer, choices on the payment options. I really hope you would consider my suggestion as I am sure others would surely appreciate it. Thanks for reading!