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Joseph's Blog

Nailing the Numbers – Your Future Equals Your Customer Experience

I’ll admit it, as a customer experience consultant I have a tendency to see improving customer experience as a cure for all business ills. As the saying goes, if you have a hammer everything looks like nails.

Over time, I have come to concede that product development, finance, and other business disciplines are equally essential to business success. But clearly, a bevy of mounting research does indicate your company’s future is linked to the consistent delivery of a differentiated customer experience.

Here are some random but interesting tidbits for your consideration:

International Customer Management Institute’s research on business leaders suggests that 62% think mobile customer service is a competitive differentiator.

Forrester found that 71% of consumers say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good service. 

In a study of 2,000 American Consumers, Brodeur Partners found that “shareability of the experience and association (I’m ok if people know I’m associated with a brand) are” twice as important to Gen Y as to Baby Boomers.

According to Gartner, 85% of business to customer relationships will not involve human interaction by 2020.

According to CEI, only 1% of customers feel providers CONSISTENTLY meet their expectations.

McKinsey reports that more than 50% of customer interactions jump across channels such that brands must be excellent via web, mobile, phone, and brick-and-mortar.

Ok, enough of the statistics, the picture that emerges from all this disparate data is that the perceptions of your customers matter greatly and those perceptions will increasingly matter in changing ways.

As such, to be successful we must pay attention to trends in customer behavior and leverage people, process, and technology to assure we effortlessly meet our customer’s needs. All the while, we must build work cultures where people listen to customers and constantly make improvements in experience delivery – so that consumers can share their perceptions loudly and favorably across their social networks.

Given global choice and the power of social media…customer experience elevation is here to stay so you might want to get a customer experience hammer because there are a lot of nails out there!

Legacy Schmegacy – What Will You Be Known For? {Infographic)

legacy-schmegacy

Legacy Schmegacy – What Will You Be Known For?

Political pundits recently have been opining about the likely legacy of various global political leaders including Fidel Castro and President Barack Obama. Certainly, the word legacy seems fitting for leaders who play on the world stage, but what about the rest of us – ordinary people trying to lead our families, communities, and businesses? Is the concept of legacy relevant to us?

Author Shannon Alder once wrote, “Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.”

I have been talking about leadership legacy for years now because I believe it gets to the heart of “purposeful leadership.” Let’s face it, being a leader is a tireless job and one that’s often very daunting. Irrespective of the leadership position, there is typically more need than there is time to fill it. As such effective leadership is about the disciplined focus on priorities. I think of legacy as defining “what you want to be known for as a leader.” 

Several years ago while writing my book, The Zappos Experience: 5 Principles to Inspire, Engage, and WOW, I noted that “Zappos is no longer in the shoe business; they are in the happiness business! Leadership became passionate about a goal that transcended products or processes. Those leaders shifted their attention from business success to transformative objectives and, in the end, elevated their significance and legacy. Columnist and author Irving Kristol once suggested that leaders need to define that ‘one big thing and stick with it. Leaders who had one very big idea and one big commitment are the ones who leave a legacy.’ I am an advocate of taking the time to think of that ‘one big thing’ that you want to accomplish as a leader and forging your own ‘leadership legacy statement.”

From a family leadership perspective, I have committed to “be half the father my father was” and from a business perspective my leadership legacy statement has been woven into my service vision “to serve those who serve well.” As this year comes to an end, isn’t it a good time to think about your leadership brand and your lasting impact?

Recently, I was asked to provide a TEDx talk on branding (personal and corporate) as well as leadership legacy. I’ve provided the link to help you craft your leadership legacy statement.

tedx-2

What is your “one big thing”? What do you want to be known for and what do you want your lasting legacy to be? The sooner you craft your vision for purposeful leadership the longer you’ll have to turn that vision into reality! 

Here’s to maximizing a powerful leadership legacy…

Thanksgiving & Your Business Year-Round {Infographic}

thanksgiving

Thanksgiving & Your Business Year-Round

Author Melody Beattie once noted that:

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. “

I’ve taken the liberty of extending Melody’s quote by suggesting in the context of business, “Gratitude turns shoppers into future buyers, and first-time buyers into repeat customers.”

Many people suggest that in a consumer-driven marketplace fueled by an abundance of choice, global competition, and scads of voices reviewing and critiquing products and services there aren’t many ways to truly stand out from the competition.

As has been the case, I suspect from the beginning of commerce – authentic gratitude has and will be one of those differentiators. Growing up in a small town in Colorado, I remember how my parents refused to frequent a chain grocery store that entered our region, choosing instead to continue to go to a small local market. It seemed to me that the “bigger and newer” store was just as convenient, had more options to choose from, and in retrospect probably was less expensive. My parents, however, felt that to the supermarket chain, “We were nothing”. But to the corner store, “We mattered. They cared that we came in, and appreciated our business.”

Clearly, appreciation alone does not a successful business make, BUT it is a “retro” concept worthy of consideration. With increased automation (self-serve kiosks and online transactions struggle to communicate gratitude) there is a ripe opportunity to create differentiation as the “grateful” brand. In my company, The Michelli Experience “gratitude” has been a core value since our inception. It is not a strategy but is a quality we hire for, and something we reinforce through business rituals. For example, we express gratitude at the beginning of every meeting for team members who have gone the extra mile for a customer and we make donations to social causes in honor of and gratitude for our customers.

My father once said, “Tell me who you hang out with and I will tell you who you are.” I am grateful to be hanging out with a grateful team. We understand that we owe a debt of gratitude to every person who takes the time to consider us. We also owe a debt of gratitude to those who give us a chance to serve them – as their business feeds our families.

As we come out of a boisterous and vitriolic political season where anger, name-calling, and polarization became commonplace I am grateful for this Thanksgiving season. Hopefully, it will help us all recalibrate and do far more than simply crafting a cursory list of our blessings. Maybe, just maybe, it will inspire us to express our gratitude authentically in words and actions toward one another, our teams, and our customers.

Thanks for reading – Happy Thanksgiving!

From Online Search to Conversation and Then From Conversation to Sale {Infographic}

from-online-search

From Online Search to Conversation and Then From Conversation to Sale: The Importance of Channel Relevance

Writing in Automotive News, Vince Bond, Jr. asks a question that is mission critical for many businesses today, “How do you quickly turn an Internet search into a conversation and turn that conversation into a sale?”

In general, I believe all marketing involves disruptively creating interest. Once a prospect demonstrates that interest (for example in the form of an online search), the sales process relies on a conversation to assess needs, qualify the prospect, define product benefits/attributes/features, and ultimately ask for the sale.

In Vince Bond’s article titled, Kia Seizes on New Google Ad Function, an essential element of “creating a conversation” is identified – namely offering the conversation in the prospect’s most desired channel. Kia is seizing on channel relevance by using a new texting option available on Google search ads. This option enables Kia to start a conversation with millennials via text.

Here’s how it works. When a prospective Kia buyer searches for a car on their mobile device, a texting icon pops up in an advertisement that links the consumer to their nearest Kia dealership. As the prospect clicks on the link, a texting conversation begins. The goal of that texting interaction is to transfer the prospect from their preferred texting modality into the buying stage where the prospect presents for a test drive at the dealership.

In an article for InternetRetailing.net, Paul Skeldon cites a study of 500 US shoppers aged 18 to 34, conducted by OpenMarket, which found, “That while 72% of millennials note they text 10 or more times a day and 31% that they text more than 50 times a day, the leading factor in millennials’ preferences for texting is its ability for two-way communication with businesses, an aspect that provides convenience, speed, and ease of use.” This attention to the preferences of a generation of mobile consumers who prefer texting over live chat, and phone calls or email – sets the sales conversation off on the right foot and demonstrates that you have put the consumer’s needs at the center of the conversation!

You’ve likely invested quite a bit to get the attention of your prospective customers. Have you equally invested in shifting interest into a buying conversation by engaging those prospects from the outset on their preferred platform?

Voting for Over-Delivery: The Inspirational Power of Promises Fulfilled {Infographic}

voting-for-over-delivery

Voting for Over-Delivery: The Inspirational Power of Promises Fulfilled

Brand advertising, marketing, and sales efforts are all “promises”. The product and service experiences that follow those promises either fall short, deliver on, or exceed the promises made as customers choose to engage your brand.

In a world where many make distorted claims, people are inspired by experiences and stories of those who meet or exceed the expectations they create. Take, for example, Wayne Williams who drove from his home in North Carolina to Indiana to sit graveside by his father, a Cubs fan who died in 1980. Prior to his father’s death, Wayne and his dad made a pact to listen to the play-by-play of the Cubs when they made it to the World Series. Wayne delivered on that promise.

Some might argue that the Cubs themselves delivered on an implicit promise to generations of fans who purchased tickets on the belief that the team would ultimately win the pennant. Writing in a post on Psychology Today, Michelle Gielan once noted, “When we break small promises, others learn that they cannot count on us. Tiny fissures develop in our relationships marked by broken promises. We are not only communicating all of this to others, we are telling ourselves that we don’t value our own word.  Not keeping a promise is the same as disrespecting yourself. Ultimately it can harm our self-image, self-esteem, and our life.”

My father put it more succinctly when he said, “The worst thing about lying is not that you won’t be believed but that you can’t believe.” Most leaders don’t consciously lie, they simply make promises based on a “best case” scenario and aren’t willing to design or invest in guaranteeing execution across all contingencies.

My favorite example of designing in promise fulfillment comes from The Ritz-Carlton in Dubai, where leaders assure “over-delivery” on a promise of a 45-minute massage. At The Ritz-Carlton Dubai, spa customers are promised a 45-minute massage, while massage therapists block out an 1 hour and 15 minutes for that massage (1 hour for the actual massage and a 15-minute buffer to assure the massage therapist is not rushed getting to the next guest). Surely pricing is done based on the delivery assumptions so that the customer’s expectations are exceeded, and the therapists themselves have no excuse for under-delivery.

In this election season, when candidates represent “political brands” filled by hype and promises that surely will fall short once they are in office, it’s good to remind ourselves that we have the power to deliver on our promises and in so doing differentiate ourselves while honoring our own trust and the trust of those we serve!

Personally, I am voting for over-delivery because there is inspirational power in promises fulfilled!