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Joseph's Blog

What is CRM? | Infographic {Guest Post}

My, my, the world of sales has come a long way in just a few decades: From tablets of paper and loads of pens, most salespeople can now access online-based information gathering systems that tell them everything from a customer’s first contact with a business to what they prefer and who their key contacts are. The new pen and paper have a name, now, too: customer relationship management, or CRM, software systems.

CRM resemble the pen-and-paper systems in only one way: they’re a record of a customer. In every other facet, the best CRM systems have kept pace with technology, enabling every department of every business to access account details and relevant data about current, past and potential clients. And they can access that information wherever they are—on the road, from a smartphone, for example. What else do you need to know about CRM systems? This graphic helps explain it.

What is CRM Software

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This infographic originally appeared on Salesforce.com.

Starbucks is Greatness Personified, Excellence Diversified {Infographic}

 

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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies. Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

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Starbucks: Greatness Personified/Excellence Diversified – What About You?

I met him while working with Starbucks around the time I wrote my first book about the company titled The Starbucks Experience. I’d venture to say that Starbucks might have been little more than one man’s vision if it wasn’t for his leadership strengths.

He was one of the original architects of the brand – a part of a leadership triumvirate playfully referred to as H2O (two Howards and an Orin – Howard Schultz, Howard Behar and Orin Smith).

I was at the Starbucks corporate office that day in March 2005, when Starbucks partners said goodbye to Orin Smith. He made modest remarks and was sent off with a Starbucks card for lifetime use.

Orin died recently at the age of 75 from pancreatic cancer. I write this blog to serve multiple purposes 1.) to celebrate the life of a great leader who inspired me, 2.) to appreciate the multiplicity of leadership strengths needed to achieve greatness, and 3.) to look at the role of pragmatism in creating customer experience success.

Celebrating an Inspirational Leader

While I could share my own praise for Orin, it might be best to leave that to the two Howards (both of whom were quoted in a thoughtful Seattle Times article written by Rachel Lerman). Howard Behar spoke of his long-time business partner by noting Orin “was a gentle guy and he had one of those really dry senses of humor.” Howard Behar went on to describe Orin as a calming force when Howard Behar and Howard Schultz would engage in heated discussion about the best course for Starbucks.

Howard Schultz, the visionary leader of Starbucks for most of the company’s existence credits much of Starbucks success to Orin, who he described as the person who taught him to “lead and to live with humanity.”

“He was the older brother I never had, always providing the wisdom and sage guidance to me and the company, while never seeking the stage nor the spotlight,” Schultz wrote in an email to Starbucks employees. “Always, shining the light and giving the credit to others. He made us all better, especially me. There would be no Starbucks of today, if not for Orin Smith.”

One final note on the greatness of Orin, he created vast wealth but also gave back to his community in magnificent ways, as evidenced by his active involvement in the University of Washington Board of Regents. His charitable giving included a $10 million contribution to the library in the city where he was raised in support of their Student Achievement Initiative.

Diverse Strengths Required for Greatness

Orin’s leadership style juxtaposed with those of his colleagues demonstrates the need to have varying personal strengths to steward a successful business enterprise.  For a sole proprietor, that breadth of strengths might need to be developed, and for a growing business, those strengths need to be woven through the selection process to result in a tapestry of complementary leader competencies.

From my vantage point, Orin was the methodical, grounded, firm but fair leader committed to pragmatism and talent development. He was fiscally prudent and a striking contrast to Howard Schultz the charismatic, outgoing, unique visionary that drove Starbucks into meteoric growth and often unseen possibilities. Orin was not the “quick to act” leader. He was “quick to think” and steady to action.

A takeaway I learned early in my career from the senior leadership team at Starbucks, was that “complementary strengths” can increase success, while compatible qualities can produce redundancies, blind spots, and vulnerabilities.

Pragmatism and Customer Experience

I am a big fan of the question “what if?” It is in the DNA of visionaries like Howard Schultz. From my view, for every “what if” leader – there needs to be a regulator – like Orin Smith – who reels that visionary back-in (after giving them ample space to ideate). That person has to be a big fan of the question “how?” They also have to assure that the following types of questions are asked with frequency:

How can we realistically make that happen on behalf of our customers?

What else will we need to give up to make that vision possible?

Call to Action

First, thank you for indulging me in my homage to Orin, but more importantly, I hope you will take action on this tribute/leadership analysis. Here are a few possible actions to consider:

  • Immediately thank an inspirational leader who has shaped you. We never know how long we have to express our appreciation.
  • Look at your leadership strengths and opportunities and either develop leadership competencies outside your comfort zone or hire people with complementary qualities – if you are a part of a larger organization.
  • Ask lots of “what if” questions but always follow up with “how” and “at what expense or with what probability of quality execution?”

I have been blessed to work with and around great leaders like Orin. I believe that the legacy of those leaders live in those they’ve helped develop. That sets up my final question:

Who might you mentor today – as part of your lasting leadership impact?

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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies. Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

Strategic Positioning Infographic | Is Your Customer Experience Agile Enough?

 

 

 

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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies. Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

Strategic Positioning | Is Your Customer Experience Agile Enough?

From Machines to Living Organisms

I continue to be in awe of consultative think tanks like McKinsey and Company. Over my career, I’ve been blessed to work with McKinsey consultants who often do the heavy lifting to understand optimal strategic positioning for senior leadership teams.

Agile Genius

The genius of this collection of talented individuals was well displayed in a recent thought leadership article from the McKinsey Agile Tribe (more than 50 McKinsey team members from across the globe representing diverse business specialties like marketing, digital operations, and major business functional areas). That article posits that business survival will require a paradigm shift from a Henry Ford type mindset that viewed businesses much like “machines” to a modern-day approach where businesses are seen as “dynamic organisms.”

Goodbye Machine Perspective

In the old-world view of businesses as machines, sound infrastructure investments, solid processes, and precise execution led to inevitable business success. According to the McKinsey Agile Tribe successful leaders today must think of their businesses in more fluid ways – particularly given four key business trends:

  • A rapidly changing business environment
  • Incessant disruptive technologies
  • Increased speed of digitization and easy access to information
  • A war for creative and learning-based talent

Stress on the System

In essence, companies that are built as machines are failing to perform under the stress of our continually changing world of business. Not developing competencies in agile design or not effectively deploying design thinking will likely leave your business vulnerable (see this previous post). The McKinsey Agile Tribe notes:

When pressure is applied, the agile organization reacts by being more than just robust; performance actually improves as more pressure is exerted.4Research shows that agile organizations have a 70 percent chance of being in the top quartile of organizational health, the best indicator of long-term performance.5Moreover, such companies simultaneously achieve greater customer centricity, faster time to market, higher revenue growth, lower costs, and a more engaged workforce

So Few Yet So Much to Gain

Whoa slow-down. According to various studies, about 10% of companies have fully completed an agile transformation. However, an agile transformation helps a company be faster to market, generates greater revenue, has more engaged employees and yes demonstrates greater (two of my favorite words) CUSTOMER CENTRICITY. Something is wrong here – but surely you are one of the 10% right?

Let’s assume you understand the importance of looking at your business or team through the lens of a dynamic organism. Also, assume you have studied and/or are deploying agile approaches and design thinking into iterative process improvements that quickly address customers current and future needs. How then will you know if you truly are an agile organization? That’s where the McKinsey article has the greatest value!

Based on their research, McKinsey has isolated five trademarks and 23 best practices to be an agile organization. Since that level of detail is beyond the scope of this blog, I will refer you back to the source material, if you would like a deep dive. For our purposes, here are the five trademarks of an agile organization:

  • Strategically, the organization is unified in pursuit of a clearly defined goal
  • Structurally teams are empowered
  • Business processes follow agile principles in which decisions are made rapidly, and learning is prioritized over creating a “perfect solution” out of the box
  • People aren’t resources; they are dynamic and catalytic solution creators
  • Agile organizations embrace “next generation enabling” technologies

From my worldview, many customer-centric organizations possess four of these five trademark characteristics, but most need additional work with processes that focus on incremental learning and failing forward (learning from each rapidly evolving prototype to swiftly approximate an ever-changing set of consumer needs).

Bill Gates probably said it best when he opined:

“Success today requires the agility and drive to constantly rethink, reinvigorate, react, and reinvent.”

How are you fueling agility for your organization? What have you learned as you set course on a continual journey of rethinking and reinvention?

Henry Ford step-aside the machines are learning today and so should we – lest we become relics of a less dynamic age!

My team and I stand poised to give you an agile advantage. Reach out to us for a complimentary opportunity to discuss your journey!

 

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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies. Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

Everyone Has a Platform: Are You Training for that Reality? | Infographic

 

Want more on service excellence and training? Read the blog post that inspired this

infographic.

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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies. Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

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Everyone Has a Platform: Are You Training For that Reality? | Service Excellence

As many of you know, Snapchat’s new design has sparked considerable criticism, but a simple tweet by celebrity Kylie Jenner purportedly contributed to a freefall for Snapchat’s stock. Here’s how social media reporter Megan Hills tells it in a Fortune article titled Snapchat’s $1.3 Billion Drop in Value Is Linked to A Kardashian:

The entrepreneur and Kardashian half-sister tweeted to her 24.5 million Twitter followers on Monday, “sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me…ugh this is so sad.”

With over 300,000 likes and nearly 64,000 comments on her tweet, Snap shares quickly nosedived and dropped to a low of 8% down before climbing back to 6% by the end of trading hours.

While it’s hard to imagine a single tweet by a massive brand influencer could signal traders to sell shares in a stock, Megan makes a compelling case that Snapchat’s market tumble is in fact, a sign of the times.

Everyone has a platform

Granted that the actions of closely watched celebrities have a huge ripple effect on brands, but what about average people like you and me?

For years now, I have been telling my clients that you have to assume “everyone has a platform.”   That may mean the seemingly social media unplugged grandmother you happened to treat poorly really isn’t social media impoverished after all – in fact, she has a huge following of people tracking her craft hobby on Pinterest or she has a family member with a popular blog!

Since, according to the Institute of Customer Service (ICS), most customer complaints (62%) aren’t about products per se but rather about the way people treat customers during service interactions, investing time and money to, select, train and develop service talent creates a huge opportunity.

Investing in service excellence

Let me give you an example, a 2016 article in CIO magazine, chronicled a fireside chat between Home Depot CIO Matt Carey and CIO events editor-in-chief Maryfran Johnson. In that article, Matt Carey discussed Home Depot’s substantial long-term investment designed to “transform the customer experience across all its channels, whether it’s in stores, in a person’s home, online or on a customer’s mobile device.”

The interview between Johnson and Carey:

…also touched on how Home Depot updated its order management system, changed its processes to give associates more time to help customers instead of sitting or standing at a computer, new online and mobile projects and how they recruited millennials away from Google.

The proof is in the human interaction

A couple of years later (last week) I found myself dumbfounded by an experience I had at a Home Depot store. Dumbfounded in amazement!

I was at store #289 approximately 25 minutes before closing and needed a lock rekeyed. Standing ready and waiting to address my need was George Metzler. George advised me that it would take 30 minutes to rekey the lock and cost $5. That time frame would essentially take us right to the closing of the store, but George noted he would do everything in his power to expedite the process.

Moments later George approached me with “bad news”. The tools needed to perform the job had not been returned to the correct place and as such we would not be able to complete the service that evening. George asked if I could leave the lock overnight and said he would rekey the lock personally and at no charge. Letting him know that would be fine, he realized he wasn’t scheduled to work the next day until after 1 p.m. He then said, “While I’m not scheduled to work until late tomorrow you shouldn’t have to wait that long. When would you like to come in?” I assured him that after 1 p.m. would be fine, but he said, “No, I will come in early so I can be sure you receive the lock in a timely manner.” I responded that he didn’t need to make a special trip before work, but his stupefying response follow. The phrase was so catchy that I  literally imagined it to be a book title I might use if I were to ever write a customer experience book about Home Depot. George said, “I would gladly come in early because I DON’T WORK FOR HOME DEPOT. I WORK FOR YOU!”

Who do you and your people work for?

Please indulge me as I repeat George’s words, “I DON’T WORK FOR HOME DEPOT. I WORK FOR YOU!” Suffice it to say, I wanted to steal George from Home Depot and hire him to work for me on behalf of my clients. And here I am leveraging my platform to tell you about George and Home Depot!

George didn’t know I have a regular weekly blog that would give favorable attention to Home Depot. He didn’t know that his actions and service genius would make me even momentarily consider writing a book about his company. All George knew was that he had been selected and developed into a service professional. A professional that would inspire me to attempt to inspire you to enhance service talent on behalf of your brand.

Are you and your people connecting with your customers the way George did with me? What are you doing to train your team on who they work for and how they can even more effectively work for them?

If you are looking for tools to make sure your service is favorably amplified on your customers’ platforms, I would be glad to schedule a 15-minute call to discuss it with you. I suspect that’s what George would do!

 

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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies. Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

Customer Centricity | Infographic

 

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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies. Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

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Customer Centricity is MORE than Customer Experience

Recently, I’ve been talking with clients about a critical, albeit subtle distinction – so I thought I would share it with you.

Frequently, you’ll hear these two phrases used rather interchangeably. The first is customer-centricity, and the other is customer experience. From my vantage point, the latter phrase (customer experience) is a subset of the former (customer-centricity).

I think of it like this. Customer-centricity is a commitment or a strategy to assure the success of your customer. Whereas, customer experience is a set of customer perceptions forged across all their interactions with your brand.

Leaders at brands committed to customer-centric outcomes typically seek to demonstrate that commitment by interacting with the customer in ways that favorably affect their customers’ perceptions. That said, many customer-centric actions happen outside the view of customers and, as such, may not even reach the awareness of the customer.

Customer-Centric Even If Customers Don’t Know

It’s been said that “Integrity is what you do when no one is watching.” Similarly, customer-centricity reflects all the things you do whether or not the customer notices. I remember a discussion early on with a Starbucks financial officer. We talked about a seemingly minor decision that had a substantial cost impact on the brand but had only a subtle impact on a subset of customer perceptions. That decision involved toilet paper!

To understand the significance of Starbucks’ toilet paper decision, please indulge me to outline Starbucks customer-centric strategy and unfortunately offer a bit of bathroom banter. Leaders at Starbucks, in part, define customer success as offering affordable luxury to customers wherever the customer finds the brand (online, voice, mobile, and in-store). This objective is based on the reality that not everyone can treat themselves to a spa day at the Ritz-Carlton. But most people can nurture themselves by swinging into a Starbucks to sit in a comfortable chair and savor their favorite non-alcoholic beverage. In-store customer success occurs, in part, when a Starbucks customer leaves feeling affordably nurtured.

Many things go into achieving that customer-centric outcome (training, lighting, products, store design, etc.). Some of the decisions involved in this customer-centric strategy are extremely obvious to customers and others are not. Truly customer-centric brands make decisions that drive customer success even if the impact of those decisions are imperceptible or faintly perceived by the customer during their journey with the brand. Two-ply vs. single-ply toilet paper is one such decision that is in keeping with Starbucks customer-centric focus although only mildly perceptible to a segment of Starbucks consumers.

Taking Short Cuts

Forgive me for this mini-refresher on toilet paper, but it’s needed for context. As the description implies, single-ply toilet paper is a single layer of paper while double-ply is made from two layers of paper. People who research such things suggest that people do not compensate with single-ply paper by using twice as much of it. In fact, a Reddit researcher suggests single-ply is at least 22% more efficient and yes cheaper than double-ply!

If you multiply the cost efficiency of single-ply toilet paper times annual toilet paper consumption across every Starbucks around the world, you could generate big savings with likely minimal impact on customer perceptions of the touchpoint. To minimize that impact further, you can subtract out a lot of customers who never use toilet paper in a Starbucks and make the case that “single-ply” is the future! Financial officers at less customer-centric brands might say, “Let’s go with single-ply. The toilet paper touchpoint is a small part of the customer journey.” A customer-centric brand like Starbucks says let’s stay with double-ply.

On a More Serious Note

While Starbucks toilet paper is my somewhat light-hearted example of customer-centricity in action, recent choices made by another client should bring home the distinction far more powerfully. This example demonstrating customer centricity involves doing the right thing for your customer even if that potentially means short-term consequences for your sales.

This month is a huge month for Godiva chocolates. Valentine’s Day is a pinnacle sales driver for the brand. Yet, in Japan Godiva purchased an advertisement discouraging chocolate gifting for Valentine’s Day. As you may know, Japan has a tradition of women being expected to give “obligation chocolate” to male co-workers on Valentine’s Day. There is a reciprocal tradition of men giving chocolate to female colleagues about a month later. In the advertisement, the head of Godiva Japan essentially said “chocolate is for pleasure” and shouldn’t be a pressured expectation. WOW, customer-centric strategy without attempting to positively improve the customer experience online or instore, except to possibly reduce a stress driver for purchase!

Taking a Stand for the Customer

Customer centricity is the willingness to stand-up for what is best for your customer. Often but not always, that commitment is realized in perceptual contact points during the customer’s journey with your brand (the customer experience).

How are you defining customer success?

What decisions are you making in keeping with a customer-centric commitment to help your customers achieve that success even if those decisions have short-term consequences on you or fall outside the perceptual experience of your customers?

 

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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies. Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

The Robots are Here and There is Fear | Infographic

 

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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies. Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

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