What do I need to do to stop embarrassing myself?

ACCC fine to RedBalloon

I’m busy finding customers and being relentless. My poor family and friends wonder when I will stop asking for leads, opportunities and ideas on how I can grow my businesses. This relentless approach has worked for me, and whilst it might be exhausting for those around me — my single-minded pursuit to fulfill on my vision drives me every day.

Entrepreneurs are salespeople. As business owners we always push, push, push… looking for the next thing. By nature, we see the north star and work tirelessly to get there. As we do this we begin to get some success, this keeps us going.

I was asked recently why I keep working so fervently… as hard as I ever have. Simply put, I am not finished yet. There are more customers to serve.

Our BHAG at RedBalloon was always about ‘changing gifting in Australia forever’. What I meant by this is that when someone is choosing a gift — they would consider buying an experience (that, in turn, supports small business owners) rather than buying ‘stuff’.

RedBalloon has two customer groups; we must serve them both. The gift giving purchaser and the experience business partner who delivers the activity. It is a balancing act to acquire and provide exemplary service to both. Both are equally important to our future success.

My intention has always been to provide the best customer experience to both parties. We continually review the ‘friction’ points of what is not working as well as it should.

I had a five year sabbatical (of sorts) from RedBalloon, which gave me a chance to pursue other ventures (like write books and be on Channel Ten’s Shark Tank) and learn new things. But in July 2017, my business partner David Anderson and I established The Big Red Group, which now owns RedBalloon, Wrapped, The Huddle, redii.com and Marketics. As a result, I returned to RedBalloon with renewed vigour and determination to continue what I started in the capacity as ‘founder’.

On returning to RedBalloon I discovered that not everything was running as smoothly as it should, some fundamentals were being missed. Under the new Big Red Group we set about consistently applying systems and process to reinvigorate the brand.

The question we asked each other mostly; “what would it take to shift this into a completely new realm of customer experience? What would be absolutely disruptive?” We engaged Salesforce to help us on this journey — we were investing greatly in the customer experience. Listening carefully for customer pain points and bottlenecks

Then bang! Out of the blue a letter arrives from the ACCC alleging that we have not complied with the regulations about passing on the credit card surcharge to customers. The previous management had believed averaging the cost of credit cards i.e. 1.5% (rather than charging the exact amount for each different credit card type i.e. ranging from .9%-3.3%) was okay.

We were transparent, we fixed the issue immediately. But as I wore the media flack and incurred the penalty, I said “this is never ever going to happen again — what other laws, regulations, governance, and compliance issues are there that I don’t know about?”.

I talk about customer experience, I listen to customer calls. I am curious and interested in the impact we have on people.

Whilst staying up to date on every regulation is difficult (Local, State, Federal), what I attempt to do is subscribe to the newsletters of the ATO, ASIC, ACCC, SmartCompany, ABL, AIM, ADMA AICD, the Retailers Association and many other email subscriptions, which can make my inbox overwhelming.

I need to be more vigilant — that is not enough. So, we have legal advisors, tax advisors, accountants, auditors — all of which are engaged to ensure that we comply, conform and do the right thing and as I said to each of them “Please, please ensure that I am never embarrassed in public again”.

What do I need to do next? I ask myself.


Originally published at Naomi Simson.