Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Trying something new

The Amarach Research blog notes that focus groups can be very difficult for a group of people to imagine doing something they've never done. They then point to this very interesting Wine Flavor chart which helps those who may not know what they are tasting.

How do you get over road bumps like this in your focus groups?

Reaching Gen Y

At Customer Experience Matters, they recently discussed how to get Gen Y's attention online. They focus the importance of immediacy, and how online websites need to reflect the the most current information available to keep their attention.

They provided three strategies:
  1. Refresh and update content constantly. Changing content frequently and updating feature page elements on a regular basis give users a reason to return over time.
  2. Expose value immediately. Delivering clear calls to action and interactive cues help draw young visitors into experiences right away.
  3. Provide frequent feedback. Presenting notifications, rewards, and other feedback to users throughout an experience keeps them alert and engaged.
What other strategies would you suggest?

Could your community already be out there?

The answer is yes. In a recent article by John Bishop, he looks at how you can find the customers that are already on the web talking about your product. Find out where they are. Use Facebook them down to specific locations and interests, the follow their chatter and monitor the buzz in the industry and react to it. Join the conversation when they start talking about your brand, and even create a few threads that promote a conversation around it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What type of research can you get from social networks?

David C. Skul has a great video up about how to use the data you get from your social networks as research. You can ask those in your targeted group for their opinions, collect data through polls, you can see the exact demographics that your targeting (as they are in your group) and it's a way to get traffic to your site.

Watch the video here:

Keeping your customers in tough economic times

Over at CustomerThink, they recently wrote a great post about what you should do in these tough economic times to retain your customers. As you'll see budget cuts to the sources that bring in your customers - like marketing and advertising - it's critical to keep the customers you currently have. Took keep them through these difficult times, you must keep your customer service quality high and give them no excuse to switch to a competitor.

What can you cook up?

Beth Dunn recently wrote about the importance of social media in the hard financial times that are upon us. However, she looks at it implementing a social media plan as something that's easy to do, and you may already have some know-how on your team at the workplace. Someone may already know how to engage the right audience through Twitter, and another may have great writing skills for a blog. With just a little time and effort, you could jump into the world of social media and start connecting with your target market. Read more here.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Market entry strategy

EuroITX has a great white paper that rundown of how to collect market research and use it to enter the European market.

Where are blogs going?

What is the future of blogs? Jamshed Wadia recently explained in depth why blogs are hear to stay, because not only do they provide a face for a brand and an outlet for expressions, but they're a key part to any social media strategy.

He listed several reasons why he believes they're here to stay:

1. Personal expression
2. Stories not covered or ignored by mainstream media
3. Show case personal talent
4. Building Personal brands
5. Social Causes and non profit Fund Raising
6. Evangelistic blogs
7. Keeping in touch with customers

For a more in depth look at why he sees these as important factors, read here.

Passionate customers deserve a passionate brand

Matt Rhodes took some time to examine the relationship between brands and their loyal customers. He points out that often times, the customers are more passionate about the brand than than the brand is about them. The brand needs to find a two-way street to start recognizing these loyal customers, who can often be a solid source for word of mouth marketing. Opening up and using social media can be a great way to do this. It can open up communication, and let you show your customers you appreciate them.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Social media diary 21/11/2008 - Sydney

Sydney uses MySpace to attract visitors

This week saw the launch of MySpace MySydney, a community for people who want to move to Sydney on a working visa. The page pitches itself as an online community and 'Ben' is your host (he's the one on the video on the homepage). The site contains information on how to get a visa, travel information, advice on Sydney as a place to live and work and also aims to be a hub for networking with others in the same situation as you.


The site is from the Tourism New South Wales who are hoping to capitalise upon recent changes in the work and holiday visa regulations for US students. It's now easier than it was for those from North America to get these visas and this MySpace site supports a wider marketing and social media push accompanying the change.


So what can we learn from this?

We've covered a lot of travel initiatives recently in the Social Media Diary - from BA's Metrotwin, to Amex's community for travel managers and Air France-KLM's Bluenity. Travel is certainly an area where social networking and online communities are being used more and more to engage people. We see this at FreshNetworks, where the latest community we helped to launch this week is for a big UK travel brand. Travel has a number of great hooks for activities in social media - some people need information and have questions that other users can answer based on their experiences, it's a subject that lends itself well to media and there is the opportunity for connecting people doing similar things in similar places. We're seeing different travel brands trying different things - from setting up their own online communities, to interacting with people on Facebook or MySpace, providing social networking tools or just blogging.


Some of these initiatives are successful and some aren't. What it seems that Sydney hope to achieve with this site is to present a lot of genuinely useful information in a way that is relevant to their target audience. They also hope to leverage some social networking - getting people in similar situations to get together, meet each other, share ideas and thoughts and between them build the usefulness of the site. This is an interesting proposition and I'll be following how it pans out. Whilst I can see the clear benefit of the marketing and informational element of the site, I'll be watching to see how (and in fact if) the social networking side of the proposition develops.


Whilst we often say that it is difficult for a brand to get a real presence in a social network, there is a real power of social networks to help people find others going through the same situation or with similar interests to them. It may be that getting people considering a move to Sydney to meet each other in MySpace might just work. We'll wait and see.


From the FreshNetworks Blog

Read all our Social Media Diary entries

Subscribe to updates from the FreshNetworks Blog

Measuring social media ROI

Social media ROI is a common topic in this community. How do we prove that our online efforts are making a difference? Kyle Flaherty wrote a great article at how we can look at this.

The next generation is particularly tech savvy, and a recent social media campaign for Twilight has proven that networking with your audience can prove that good social networking can turn into revenue. The social media campaign that involved widgets and networking resulted in a soundtrack that was #1 on the Billboard charts before the movie was released, high pre-sales in movie tickets and a continual presence in the best selling category for the books. Read more about it in The Standard.

The soundtrack marketing effort has been highly successful, ranging from videos released on author Stephenie Meyer's site to exclusives available for fans depending on format and place of purchase: iTunes has a digital booklet and three additional songs, while the physical CD contains a poster from the movie, with several different posters randomly placed in the CD cases.

There was also significant buzz created by exclusively debuting the trailers online for the fans.

Online ticket sales are booming as well, spurred by everything from movie trailers debuted exclusively at different sites to widgets available for social networking sites. Those who purchase presale tickets from MovieTickets.com or Fandango receive a code for a free music remix from iTunes.

Why do you think this is such a big social media phenomenon? We already wrote in August about this community with the book series, and now it's translated into revenue for the movie industry. Now this social media and networking has translated into revenue for the record industry and Hollywood. What can you take from this example and use for your campaigns?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

How to Maintain a Successful Community

This is the third and final post in my corporate community series this week. The previous posts covered planning and getting started with your corporate community, and this installment continues the discussion with tips about what to do and what to avoid doing if you want to have a successful corporate community. While some of these tips are specific to corporate communities, most of them also apply to other types of communities as well.

The are many ways for a company to encourage or discourage participation in their community just by the way employees behave in the community, the way the community is facilitated, and how the infrastructure is maintained. There are a few things you can do to help ensure that the community successful, while other activities are likely to drive the community away. This post will cover both the do's and don'ts along with some tips for maintaining a successful community.

What makes a community work

Being open and transparent. Being as open and transparent as possible will improve trust within the community. It often helps to explain the “why” behind some of your decisions to avoid being seen as closed or defensive. In general people are more understanding, especially about difficult topics if you can explain why the company responds in a certain way.

A company who listens (to good and bad). It is easy to listen and respond when people say nice things about you or your company, but you should also be responding when people complain or provide negative feedback. The key is to respond constructively with something helpful: a suggestion, information about upcoming changes, or just a simple thank you.

Actively engaged in the community. The company should not dominate the community, but they should be actively participating by creating new content, responding to feedback, and in general being visible in the community.

Encouraging new members. Whenever possible, welcome new members of the community, especially if they are particularly actively in the community.

Making it easy for people to participate. Reduce the barriers to entry for people to participate and make it as easy as possible to join the community. Allowing people to view content before joining and a simple sign-up form with very few required fields can go a long way toward reducing the barriers to participation.

Integration into other relevant areas of the site. In most cases, it is simple to pull information from your community into static areas of your website. This makes your static website seem less static, and it drives more people to your community when they see a piece of content that they are interested in reading. For example, if you have a static page describing your efforts in sustainability, you could pull the 5 most recent blog posts or discussions from the sustainability section of your community into a sidebar on the static page.

What to avoid

Community is lip service. People can tell when a company creates a community to give the appearance of listening, while not really considering it a serious endeavor. If you aren't serious about engaging with your community, then you might be better off not spending the effort to create one.

Pushing marketing messages. When pushing marketing messages out to the community members takes precedence over 2-way conversations and collaboration, you will start to see your community disappear. A community is about conversations between people, and you can talk about your products, but it should be done in a relevant and conversational tone, instead of sounding like a pitch or advertisement.

Deleting the negative. You should be responding to criticism, not deleting it. Again, communities are about conversation. If people feel like you are putting duct tape over their mouths when they express anything negative about the company, these people will simply leave their negative comments somewhere else on the internet where it is likely more people will see the criticism and not hear your side of the story.

Barriers to collaboration. Community software, configuration, or policies can often create barriers to collaboration. Configure the software to make it easy for people to find content and sign up for the community. Your policies should create guidelines for use that help keep the community healthy without being so heavy handed that people aren't interested in participating. Flickr's community guidelines are a good example of how to write guidelines that are simple and even fun to read.

Neglected communities. Nobody wants to participate in a corporate community where no one in the company monitors or responds to questions or feedback. There are too many of these floating around the internet, so make sure that you have the resources to give your community care and feeding over the life of the community.

No community is perfect

You need to keep in mind that no community will ever be perfect: things will go wrong; your community software will have bugs; and people will get defensive or irate. In addition to the internal factors in the community, there are external influences that can creep into the community. Companies have PR nightmares that drive people into the community in droves to complain, but in great communities, the company responds effectively, addresses the issue, and works to resolve it quickly. When you have one of these crisis situations, keep the focus on summarizing and fixing, instead of blaming and justifying. Maintain open communication channels and deal with these imperfections and issues as quickly and openly as possible.

What are your favorite tips to help companies have great communities?

If you are interested in reading more of my content, you can find it on the Fast Wonder Blog.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Zuckerberg: Facebook will one day broadcast our emotions.

From Valleywag:

In a conversation with GQ, Mark Zuckerberg reveals that he hopes Facebook will one day broadcast its users very emotions. Alex French probes him on this issue in the following exchange:

(12:25 p.m.) Alex: How’s things?
(12:25 p.m.) Mark: There’s this definite evolution happening. Where the first part of the social web was mapping out the social graph. And the second phase is now mapping out the stream of everything that everyone does. All of human consciousness and communication.
(12:29 p.m.) Alex: Imagine if you could broadcast people’s emotions into a feed?
(12:30 p.m.) Mark: I think we’ll get there.
(12:30 p.m.) Alex: So how are you going to map all of human consciousness and communication?(12:30 p.m.) Mark: We don’t map it directly. We give people tools so they can share as much as they want, but increasingly people share more and more things, and there’s this trend toward sharing a greater number of smaller things like status updates, wall posts, mobile photos, etc. A status update can approach being a projection of an emotion.
(12:31 p.m.) Alex: That’s what I use it for.
(12:31 p.m.) Mark: So it’s not so crazy to say that in a few years people will be doing a lot more of that. It takes time for people to be comfortable sharing more and for the social norms to change.

For more information, click here.

New Online Research Approaches to Product Naming

In association with BuzzBack Market Research and The Market Research Event, The Institute for International Research invites you to join us for a one hour complimentary Web Seminar.

Please note two separate web seminars to accommodate our attendees from Europe and the United States.


Europe:

Join us for a Free Webinar
Thursday, December 4th from 3:00 to 4:00pm GMT





Please mention priority code: MWS0016TMREEurope

Space is limited.Reserve your Webinar seat now at:https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/364040865


United States:

Join us for a Free Webinar
Thursday, December 4th from 2:00 to 3:00 EST





Please mention priority code: MWS0016TMREUSA
Space is limited.Reserve your Webinar seat now at:https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/694919174


About the web seminar:


Naming research can be particularly challenging, with different types of needs depending where you are in the naming process. In this webinar, using case studies as examples we will explore three unique online techniques that address different challenges in naming research:
IDQ, an online interactive ideation process in which consumers create and evaluate names in real time in response to a product concept. We’ll demonstrate how we generated and sorted hundreds of names in a very short period of time.
·eCollage, a highly engaging online quantitative exercise in which respondents create an online collage that communicates what a name means to them and the imagery and associations it evokes. This enables us to go beyond a name’s obvious descriptive and feature-focused characteristics to its underlying emotions and associations.
Configurator, a unique building platform for gaining quantitative understanding of naming options in context. Using this technique, names are presented in an online interactive exercise where respondents select the preferred name, icon, color and other packaging elements. Respondents decide which are most appealing and meaningful to them when imagining the products on shelf and then provide insight into why they prefer those elements.
What you will learn by attending:




New, fast and effective research methodologies that address different types of research goals in naming.


Specifically:


i. Name ideation: IDQ engages respondents in an exercise that generates hundreds of new name possibilities - and provides an initial evaluation and stratification of those names.




ii. Name Imagery and Communications: eCollage helps you understand emotions, images and associations that respondents have to certain names.




iii. Name selection: Configurator engages respondents in an inactive exercise that requires them to select one of several name options and then build other packaging elements around that name.

About the speaker Brendan Light, SVP, Research and Product Development, BuzzBack Market Research

Brendan leads research development and best-practices for BuzzBack. In addition to continually improving the quality of the quantitative and qualitative methodologies and analytics of BuzzBack's research offerings, he pioneered BuzzBack's award-winning and patent-pending eCollage and Verbatim Viewer and leads the future development and research strategy for BuzzBack. He continues to focus on leveraging the transformative powers of the Internet to evolve respondent engagement, operational efficiency, and visualization of analytics and insight. Brendan has over 15 years of client and research supplier side experience, having also served as Research Director for Grey Interactive and as the Global Director of Ipsos-ASI Interactive.
Privacy Notice: IIR is dedicated to bringing you valuable information services such as this free Webinar. By registering for this event, you acknowledge that IIR may contact you electronically or by any other means regarding IIR's events and services. You may opt out of subsequent communications if you prefer to no longer receive them.


Please visit our blog at http://themarketresearchevent.blogspot.com/ for additional industry news and commentary.

Sparks fly as we dream big about Service Design

The best thing (for me) about conferences is what happens between the sessions - the conversations we have - the connections we make. We take things from various sessions and from our own experiences, share them with others and make new connections - and new ideas fly off like sparks as our community starts to connect.


A lot of those sparks this week were about Service Design.

As customer management professionals we are obsessed with perfecting the services we support:

  • Getting our people psyched to best represent our company to the customer
  • Getting the right metrics in place to drive the right behaviors,
  • Getting the variation out assuring an experience that is repeatable
  • Getting the cost of servicing down while keeping the quality up.
Sometimes it feels like we are on a treadmill that will never stop - improve, improve, improve. It’s hard, but it’s a good thing. At our best we embody what Deming was talking about with his first of fourteen points -“Create constancy of purpose towards improvement.”


But is that all there is?


From the buzz this week at the Customer 1st Conference - things are changing.


A thread running through many conversations this week has been about Service Design.


Don't just make the service better, remake the service. We are talking scary but cool – the infamous blank slate. And this conference was charged with the possibilities.


Of course improvement and redesign are related, but the change in emphasis is on what we are improving. We are more focused now on improving the customer experience than on the processes we currently use to deliver service. That great customer experience may not require ANY of the processes we currently spend a lot of time and money to make just a little bit better.

And yet, that great experience may be the key to the loyalty we almost mystically seek even while we argue a lot on how it can really be measured.


From Bill Price's opening thoughts on Sunday that maybe "the best service is no service," to a talk I heard yesterday on GSK's approach to semi-automating internal IT service delivery (I highly recommend you download this talk) - to a dinner table conversation last night about what's next in service - the possibilities for re-inventing service seem endless and the results for the customer can be what Tom Peters taught us to call WOW.

As I chatted with others this week on this topic I heard a lot of excitement, but also a bit of fear. Are the teams we lead a part of this brave new world? How do we as leaders get out in front before this wave (whatever it is) overtakes us. And there was a recurrent counterpoint in these discussions - the mantra from Day 1 - "Remember, it's all about the people."

In each of these conversations the paradoxes and the possibilities seemed to resolve towards the end. As with most problems, the answer lay within a clear statement thereof.

We weren't talking about one thing. We were talking about many things, many types of customer experiences - too often all mixed up together and measured with averages we know in our gut don't mean much.

Some experiences are and need to be very people intensive - those Disney magic moments. For others, like the GSK IT Service Catalog we just need to put the power into the customer's hands and let them do the driving.


The key, many said this week, was dreaming big about the customer experience, wondering what it could be...and then asking if you had the best service design to deliver it.

NACCM 2008: We Are All Storytellers

Becky and Greg have been good enough to provide their own perspectives on our keynotes yesterday. I also was on hand for our great presentations. The morning began with an opening address from our chairperson, JoAnna Brandi. I've had the chance to work every day during this conference with JoAnna. She has reminded so many here of the importance of looking past customer satisfaction and to remember that even for ourselves, satisfactory marks are not enough. We are all seeking the exemplary. She reinforced what Kevin discussed the night before that we are all seeking the magical, that moment that makes us go WOW!



Keith Ferrazzi, author of "Never Eat Alone," followed and he focused on the importance of relationships in order to help us achieve our goals in our career. Keith had been good enough to host a web seminar with us over the summer to share some of these ideas. Here is just a small portion of that discussion:



Keith was followed by Joe Torre. I had the chance to meet Joe before his presentation. He is a very warm, welcoming, and friendly individual. During his discussion, he answered many questions from the audience. He was quite frank, not only about the actual details of his remarkable career, but he also reminded everyone that in the end, no matter the figures, or the expectations, it all comes down to people and their own personal responses. Everyone in attendance appreciated not only his insights in baseball but also his management experience, handling difficult bosses, temperamental staff, and the expectations of customers. His ability to manage all of these elements clearly has led to his success on and off the field.

Joe was followed by Peter Guber, Chairman & Founder of Mandalay Entertainment. I've had the opportunity to hear Peter speak before. He discusses the importance of storytelling to achieve those goals we have. Great storytellers are able to engage their listeners and create an emotional connection. Storytelling is such a fundamental aspect of our emotional makeup, we all can be storytellers, but its understanding the power of storytelling that will help us to become great storytellers. Here is a small portion of that presentation:



As we come into our final day of the conference, we have several corporate practitioners who will be sharing their own experiences in dealing with the daily challenges so many face in customer-facing organizations. I won 't have the opportunity to post immediately after but in the coming days and weeks I will certainly add more material from the event. If you haven't been by the site, be sure and check all of the great material we have been posting including photos from the conference.

Finally, I want to send a 'shout-out' to my colleagues. The team who produces and puts together this great event, works very hard to create an experience attendees will not forget. Even for those of you not here can see how much effort and work goes into creating this remarkable conference. You can be sure they appreciate your feedback in order to ensure you have the best possible time here.

NACCM 2008: Another Day


By Becky Carroll, Customers Rock!

At the NACCM Customers 1st Conference today, we had the opportunity to listen to some fabulous keynotes as well as start to dig-in to the sessions. Along the way, we may have even gotten a little Goofy! Lots of nuggets, video, and photos, including Keith Ferrazzi, Joe Torre, and Peter Guber. Keep reading!

Inspiring Employees
The theme across all of the keynotes today was one of community, relationship building, and emotions. (Customers Rock! note - many of these themes work very well with the social media tools that are available to connect with customers, and with each other.)

JoAnna Brandi kicked off the day with an energetic discussion of being leaders that inspire customers to be more engaged at work, which, in turn, leads to better customer engagement. As leaders, we need to use more positive emotion; this will affect our employees and our customers. Keep your employees out of the fear we are seeing, and start focusing on the positive. What is right? What is possible? What is the next solution we can find?


She also challenged attendees to stop focusing exclusively on customer satisfaction, as customers don’t want things that are just “satisfactory”. They want something better than that! While important, satisfaction is not the end game. The pot of gold at the other side of the rainbow is joy, happiness, Wow, and Magic. We have to start creating emotional relationships with our customers. This is done by showing up at work with emotion, not checking it at the door! It is the leader's job to make sure everyone around them uses Magic – Make a Great Impression on the Customer.

Never Eat Alone

The first keynote was Keith Ferrazzi, author of Never Eat Alone.He turned this into a working session to give people a personal relationship action plan for the upcoming year. Who do you need to work with to get you where you want to go? People are critical to your success, and relationships are the core. We discussed which words describe business relationships: Trust, human, feedback, fun, candor, collaborative. Which words add for most personal relationships? Laughter, love, listening, intimacy, reliable, trust, passion.

The shift – a business relationship is a personal relationship in a business environment. Make it purposeful; strategically guide your relationships. It is not about waiting for someone else to start the relationship; it is about you being proactive with others.

If you have strong personal relationships, you will be more easily forgiven when you mess it up!

Video of Keith: you can't get there alone.

Keith had the group go through a series of exercises to help crystallize thinking around this. Our job in this world is to create an environment around ourselves that invites people in to have a better relationship with us. It is all about what we do – it is our responsibility. Lower our guard, invite people in. As we talk to people, we ought to be having the following internal conversation:

- Is there something I can care about with this person? A way to connect and remember?
- Is there a way I can help? “How can I help you? Who can I introduce you to?” How powerful is that?!

Keith also discussed the “Fluffy” factor. This was referring to a phone conversation where the service rep could hear a dog barking in the background – ‘Fluffy’. "What is the name of your dog," this rep might ask, as a way to connect with the other person and see them as a human being (not just an irritating caller). We need to show up as the human and empathetic individual they want to see. If all call center folks projected a wonderful positive outcome, in their own minds, it would begin to manifest itself.

How are your customer service people seeing your customers? As a pain, or as a real person with real issues?

Keith also shared about the importance of being real, authentic, and human to others. He stated that others can tell right away if we are not being truthful or transparent with them, even over the phone! We need to have the following mindset, with customers or with those we want to build relationships with: We really care. We want to hear you (people need to be heard). When we have this mindset, we begin to empathize.

I will wrap up this section on Keith with a video of him telling the story about someone who cared about another human being and how it changed lives.

We then had the pleasure of listening to Joe Torre, manager of the LA Dodgers, share nuggets from his many years in baseball. Here are some highlights:

  • You only get better (at whatever you do) when you have to deal with setbacks. Tough times don't last; tough people do.
  • It's the little things in a game that help you win. Concentrate on the little things; big things will happen.
  • Be loyal to each other on the team, and have respect for that other guy who is out there, perhaps where you want to be.
  • You can't assume your customers are yours forever.
  • What can I help us do to win today?
  • Whatever line of work you are in, it is all about the people.

Making Connections Through Storytelling

The morning ended with a fascinating speech by Peter Guber, Chairman and Founder, Mandalay Entertainment. Peter has quite a line of Hollywood successes, including his role as producer for such films as Gorillas in the Mist, The Deep, The Color Purple, and Rain Man, to name a few.
Per Peter:

"Coping with failure in uncertain times is a necessity; it has always been a partner in my journey."

He shared three navigational states for these times and how to get through them - fear, uncertainty, and change. Peter also shared that the game changer, the secret sauce, is the story we tell ourselves and the story we tell our customers and clients.

Oral storytelling. It is in all of us. We need to connect our story to the emotions of our customers and employees to help them propel themselves through all of this. We are all wired to do oral storytelling. When we do it, it changes the word from "customer/client/patron" to "audience". One thing to keep in mind about an audience: they expect experiences and to be engaged emotionally. They want to be moved.

Here is a video of Peter talking about how human beings are "wired" to tell oral stories.

Peter encouraged us to unleash our story for our benefit, and do it by MAGIC.

MAGIC – like a hand, each of the following concepts works independently, but they work better together.

Motivating your Audience to your Goal Interactively with great Content

Are you motivated about your story? Yes – you can craft a powerful story. You can tell, before someone says a word, whether they are authentic. Be calm; be coherent with it. Then tell it. Demonstrate you are authentic with your story. This engages people.

Audience – everybody you talk with (not to) is an audience. How do I get their attention? If it’s not a good time to do it, don’t tell your story! Know what is interesting. Try to be interested in them, create an emotional connection. The context makes the story different for everyone. What are they interested in? Find out then connect it to that. Aim for the heart, not the head. Feelings. Often times a story, elegantly presented, can change the results.

Here is another video of Peter discussing how he convinced the head of the studio to let him make the film Gorillas in the Mist. In this video, Peter was just talking about how he had come to realize that he was not connecting with his audience (the studio head). So, he became a wounded gorilla in order to help explain why it was important to tell the story of saving gorillas:

Goal – specifically direct someone to a call to action. We have to have authentic goals that are generous; then, we both win. Virally-advocated stories are authentic; they have to be real.

Interactively – it has to be a conversation. The more senses you engage in your story, the more likely you are to own it. They feel they are participating in the story – let your audience own it so they can tell it for you. It’s the way we are wired. Interactivity – think about it before you start. You have to surrender control. Why do you think you control the customer or your brand? When you relinquish control, it allows them to come forward and own the information in a unique way.

Content – The actual story is the Holy Grail. Look to your own experience – true story, inspired by story. Use observation – retell other people’s stories. Use them for emotional transportation. Look at history and use artifacts; make emotional connections today from it. Use metaphor and analogy; he became a gorilla for the studio head to get him to connect with the story and make the movie.

Think of your customers as an audience, interact with them with really great content, and enjoy the front row seat to your success.

Other Goodies

The afternoon consisted of 4 main tracks of sessions. I attended the session on Disney presented by Maritz and The Disney Institute. Bruce Kimbrell was again the presenter, along with Kathy Oughton from Maritz.

Bruce told a great story about how serious Disney is about surveying customers in the theme park. He shared that some days, the survey at the entrance gate to the park might only ask for your zip code. On other days, the conversation might go like this:

Disney: "Hi, do you have a some time to take our guest survey? We would need about 2 hours of your time."

Guest: "Uh, no, that would take up a big chunk of my time here."

Disney: "Well, how about if we take care of you for tomorrow?"

Guest: "No, I would have to change my flights, my hotel..."

Disney: "What if we took care of that? Would you be willing to give us your time?"

Now that is serious focus on getting the voice of the customer!

I also had the opportunity to sit in on JoAnna Brandi's session/discussion about what makes people feel good at work. Here were some of the attendee responses -

- Liking the people I work with

- Harmony

- Making a difference

- Being recognized by others, especially when you find out about it later

JoAnna is trying to understand these motivators so she can help coach others on how to improve employee retention and loyalty.

There's More!

Go check out my blog, the flickr group, and my Tweets to see/hear more about the day. Last day - tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Day 1 Keynotes - It's all about people!

Three powerful keynotes on Day 1 - and it was all about people.

Relationships between you and other people as the key to your personal and professional success.

Managing by knowing your people, really knowing them, not just by the numbers.

And telling stories to people as a way to achieve your goals - starting off with your own.

This last point brings me full circle back to last night at Kevin Carroll's talk. What made that so powerful was the simple truth that his story is his life's work. Telling it is what he does and in so doing he motivates others to pursue their passions.

There is clearly a theme running here in our keynotes!

Now back to today this morning.

First off was Keith Ferrazi, author of Never Eat Alone (which based on the line after his talk we now all have a copy) who found in a way to get us all talking to total intimately to total strangers. Sure we were only practicing, but he drove home through these exercises how superficial our interactions often are and how we need a different way of being in the world if we are to build mutually beneficial lasting relationships. As you really don't get anything done in this world alone, everything requires other people to help you do it. Keith smashed our paradigm of the business relationship helping us to see we need personal relationships at work.

Keys to building those relationships?

  1. Don't wait for relationships to happen - be intentional about building them
  2. Get out of your own way - letting go of behaviors that are barriers to true intimacy
  3. Be authentic - be present for others - not just for the sake of connecting
  4. Be vulnerable - encouraging others to tell it like it us, not just what we want to hear
I was truly moved by his idea that our job is to walk around the world and produce an environment that invites people in...and that to do that we need to find something in everyone we talk to that we can care about and also how we can help them. I sensed a lot of us left his talk wondering if we are up to that challenge.

By the way, I was a circle (other choices were triangle, squares and z's). Which were you? And was that a bunch of Z's I saw partying late last night in Downtown Disney?

Next up was Joe Torre, known to anyone who knows anything about baseball as one of its most winning managers and known to Boston Red Sox fans (like me) as one scary dude. What was always so scary about Joe was the calm way he sat in the dugout, nothing ever seeming to phase him, as if he knew his team would find a way to win. And they usually did.

Joe kept his message simple - It's about people. Managing by the numbers has become all the rage in Baseball, but in the end it comes down to people. A hitter facing a pitcher. An outfielder going for a ball. Baseball is a stange sport that features team play - one player at a time.

Torre emphasized how over the years he worked to make this paradox clear to his players - that if they wanted to to win they need to ignore their individual stats and focus on the only numbers that matter - wins and losses. Each day he urged his players to think of what they needed to do better to help the team. Little things, he noted, like getting high paid stars to run faster to first place - can make the difference in a tight ball game. And that means every player has to come to play every single day - you win or lose as a team.

Then we heard from Peter Guber - one of Holllywood's most successful producers (my favorite Guber flick was the Tim Burton production of Batman) - telling us the simple truth that people were born to tell stories - that throughout our prehistory that is all we could do - no writing, just orally conveyed information. This ability Guber explained is in us and is ready to be tapped as a tool we can use to accomplish our goals.

Telling great stories - important - got it. But how you do that?

Well, Peter explained, it's MAGIC:

Motivating your
Audience to achieve your
Goal
Interactively with great
Content

Echoing strains we heard from Carroll and Ferrazzi, Guber suggested we start by connecting better with our own stories, learning to tell them, connecting them to what we passionately want to achieve, using them as a motivating force for others. We also should take care to let negative aspects of our personal story get in the way of us achieving our goals.

He challenged us to think of our customers as an audience. Our job is not just to satisfy them or handle their complaints - it is to provide them with a great experience, to engage them emotionally. This reminded me of Disney's mantra - "we make magic happen every day."

Guber urged us to bring the audience into the production, use artificacts passed around the circle to engage them in the telling of the story. What story? Whatever story we need to tell to close the deal, win the case, make change happen in our company, convey to customers what our brand really means. He closed imploring us to think of the story at the heart of what we are trying to achieve. "It's the holy grail."

A great morning - many stories to tell - and they're all about people!!!

NACCM 2008: What's Your Red Ball

The Conference has arrived, and I have to say, in my opinion, it began with a bang. A day long pre-conference summit that lead to the official launch of the conference opened by JoAnna Brandi, Publisher, Customer Care Coach & President, Joanna Brandi & Co. who in turn introduced our opening conference keynote, Kevin Carroll. Kevin is a remarkable presenter with a personal story of conviction, personal success in the face of great strife and difficulty. He has been inspired by the truly simple and discovered the remarkable and innovative in his life. His opening keynote was not only a chance to share that perspective but to also to help us consider the opportunity we have being here to develop, network and share. Everyone came away very enthusiastic and excited.

I have here a snippet of his presentation. He discusses the inspirational moment that he describes "saved his life."



Afterwards, we sat down with Kevin and JoAnna who discuss some of their shared perspectives:



After seeing these videos, I'm sure you'll want to learn more, so be sure and visit his website and blog and his own social network related to his books.

Then I sat down with Becky Carroll, from CustomersRock! who has already been participating in many great sessions and will be here posting her thoughts during the conference. Here she discusses the Disney experience



If you haven't subscribed to our feed, be sure and do so, you don't want to miss more of her great insights and thoughts during the next few days.

Next, I met Fred Broce, Program Manager of Request IT for GSK. He's here presenting later today on the IT Service Catalog: Opening New Customer Channels While Driving Service. I asked him to share some highlights on what attendees can expect during his presentation:



Finally, last night, the CSIA and ICCSO who hosted the International Service Excellence Awards that honored companies large and small, and individuals in customer service positions based on the highest industry standards. I actually had a chance to record a great deal of material, but I'm going to need a little more time than one night to edit it all. But I will share this clip from the opening remarks from Brett Whitford, Secretary-General of the ICCSO, as he tells a rather extraordinary story of individuals going that extra step of customer service.



We have two more days of great experiences and presentations we'll be sharing. Gregory North has joined us and is also blogging his experiences. So be sure and check back here and our event website to see the many updates including photos and videos we'll be posting.

Customer Loyalty: Pre-Conference Summit

Cross-post from Customers Rock! by Becky Carroll

Today was my second day here at the NACCM Customers 1st Conference, and it was filled with pre-conference summits and the official kick-off to the event by Kevin Carroll, author of Rules of the Red Rubber Ball. Here is an overview and some nuggets from Disney Institute, nGenera, JetBlue, and of course, Kevin. (Note - if you follow me on Twitter, you already have a taste of what went on at the summit!)

Disney Loyalty

The day started with Bruce Kimbrell from The Disney Institute who keynoted with a great speech on Disney and their keys to customer loyalty. Bruce asked a great question: Who are you loyal to and why? Some of the answers included the following:

  • Nordstrom - they treat you like you matter
  • Keen shoes - high quality product, and solid customer service if there is a problem
  • Sports team - get a sense of community
  • State Farm Insurance - they are there before the police!
  • Kroger Foods - great customer service experience

Each responder had their own reason for being loyal. Bruce shared that at Disney, they believe the greater the connection, the greater the loyalty! Relationships are built when two things happen:

  1. Customers want to associate with your brand beyond the transaction
  2. Your customers and employees interact positively with each other

Disney gets 80,000 people at their parks in one day. How do you positively interact with all of them? On average, each guest (Disney speak for customer) has 60 interactions with Disney cast members (employees) per day. This is 60 opportunities to make or break the experience; they are the face of Disney! If 59 are great, but number 60 is a jerk, what do I go home and talk about? Disney uses experience mapping to identify all points of contact with customers, look at the experience through the customers' eyes, and then align Disney strengths to "moments of magic". Key takeaway: plan it out! Identify and prioritize key opportunties in the customer experience, match specific tools to each opportunity, select partners to involve, then go make it happen! Thank you, Bruce, for all of your Disney insight.

Swarming the Magic Kingdom

I spent most of my day in this highly interactive activity, led by Frank Capek of nGenera (Don Tapscott's company). He laid the foundation for the day by discussing the next generation customer experience. In other words, with the potential for collaboration found in social media (such as blogs, wikis, social networks, YouTube, etc), how can we enable customers to actively co-create their own experiences? This isn't experience by intent (improving service levels) or experience by design (creating based on customer needs and priorities) but experience on demand (engage and co-create).

After talking about this for awhile, Frank set us loose in Disneyland to take a closer look at what customer experiences are taking place there - down to the smallest detail. We rode rides, analyzed Main Street USA, and listened to Christmas music being aired in the park. We observed what it felt like to be a first-timer, what it felt like to stand in line, and how easy/difficult it was to get around the park. At the end of the day, we came back together and used our collective thinking to brainstorm ideas around not just improved customer experiences, but specifically how customer experiences could be different for those who are "digitally connected" (especially young people who live on social networks). Ideas included the following:

  • "Log in" at the park to learn about wait times in lines, get a personalized experience
  • Have Disney "follow you" around the park (opt-in, of course) via your mobile phone or simply your park ticket (inserted at various attractions) to log your activities and create a "storybook" of your day that could be emailed/link sent to you. You could even opt to have your log update your Facebook or MySpace status throughout the day, sharing your experience with your friends.
  • Using texting/Twitter to share issues with Disney in real-time

It was a great session to get out in the sunshine, look at things from a different perspective, then take and apply it back to our own companies: Walk in your customers' shoes. Innovate the customer experience. Don't forget social media!

JetBlue and "Jetitude"

Rob Maruster, Senior VP of Customer Service at JetBlue held a great session to share how they are bringing humanity back to air travel through servant leadership. Here are some tidbits:

  • JetBlue administers 35 customer surveys each flight (regardless of how full they are); 8% of customers give their feedback (a decent response rate)
  • They use Net Promoter Score (NPS), rather than just customer satisfaction, to gauge how well they are performing and look for opportunities for improvement. It seems to be directly correlated to whether they are running flights on time in a particular month!
  • If something doesn't go as planned, JetBlue invokes their Customer Bill of Rights and, within 7 days of the flight, they send out flight vouchers to help make up for the inconvenience. "Please, let us try again!"
  • You have to be relevant to customers in order to drive customer loyalty.

I liked the way Rob shared about JetBlue's customer-focused thinking as he discussed one of the key inputs to their Balanced Scorecard: Drive a Low Cost Culture. He was quick to point out that it is important to be smart about costs, but not to be cheap! "Don't touch the things that touch the customer." Great motto, Rob!

Rob also talked about their JetBlue attitude, or "jetitude". They have five "Be's":

  1. Be in Blue always (you are always on stage - see my related post!)
  2. Be personal
  3. Be the answer (don't pass the buck; execs, please walk the talk)
  4. Be engaging (reach out to customers; don't wait for them to come to you)
  5. Be thankful to every customer (actually thank them for their business)

Finally, Rob talked about the importance of "servant leadership". Leadership brings all of the above together to serve the employee and, in turn, the customer. They need total transparency, and they need to be willing to get their hands dirty in order to help make it happen. Great talk, Rob!

Oh, by the way, JetBlue collected business cards from everyone in the summit and gave away 2 JetBlue travel vouchers! Wow! Great way to show appreciation.

The Red Rubber Ball

Kevin Carroll opened the official conference at day's end with his inspiring speech on the importance of play. Per Kevin,

"Play is serious business!"

Kevin encouraged all of us to harness the power of sport and play in everything we do - including our jobs. What inspires you? For Kevin, a simple red, rubber ball (like a playground ball) inspired him to live differently, with purpose, passion, and intention. In fact, he has an amazing life story that took him from a difficult childhood to the military, the NBA, to Nike, and ultimately to being a speaker/author who helps others reach for their dreams. He is a life-long learner, and he shared his "lessons from the playground":

  1. Commit to it (find what you are passionate about and commit to it)
  2. Seek out encouragers (surround yourself with people who give you permission to dream big)
  3. Work out your creative muscle (need to reawaken our creative side)
  4. Prepare to shine (create your vision, make it clear)
  5. Speak up (stand up for something, what you believe in)
  6. Expect the unexpected (be forever curious, you never know where you will end up!)
  7. Maximize the day (live each day to the fullest - don't try to get to tomorrow too soon)

Kevin was inspiring, entertaining, and unpredictable. He even tossed out balls into the audience and shared a video of playing "tag" at Nike - with 4,000 coworkers! He challenged us to get the most we can out of each day, as well as out of this conference.

After his talk, Yemil Martinez (Director of New Media for the conference) and I had the opportunity to video Kevin's discussion with Joanna Brandi, conference co-chair, as they discussed the future of this country and how play can help. I will upload that video later this week. Kevin then freely gave me a nice gift for my older son to encourage him to find his passion in life. Thank you, Kevin!

Kevin was also nice enough to give me two minutes of his time to share his thoughts with my Customers Rock! readers (and you) on the importance of building community with customers. Thank you so much for your time and energy, Kevin! We will be following you.

(Photo credit: nruboc)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Corporate Communities Part 2: Getting Started

The first part of this three part series of posts about corporate communities covered Planning for your corporate community, and now we move on to a few things to think about when you are getting started with your community. While there is a fair amount of overlap between planning and getting started, the planning section covered setting goals / objectives and fitting the community into the company's overall strategy. This post continues this train of thought to talk about how you achieve those goals, measure success, decide to join or build, and put resources in place to make the community successful.

What are your plans for achieving your goals and how will you measure success?

Now that you have some goals for what you want to accomplish with your community, you need to figure out some specific steps required to achieve your goals along with the metrics you will use to measure whether or not you have been successful. The metrics that you select will depend on your specific goals, but common community metrics include page views or visits, new member sign ups, and participation (new posts or replies). It is easy to go overboard and measure everything; however, I recommend that you pick a couple (no more than 4 or 5) of the most important measurements to use to report to management on your success. You should have an analytics package or reporting tools that allow you to drill down for more details that you can use to help troubleshoot issues and understand the data, but use these as background materials for your team.

Do you need to build new or can you join an existing community?

This is the reality check portion of the process. If you can join an existing community and get the same or similar benefits for your organization without investing all of the resources to create something new, you should seriously consider joining rather than building. You should also look around your organization to see if you have any existing communities or other infrastructure that you can reuse instead of installing yet another piece of community software.

Do you have the resources (people and financing) to maintain it long-term?

Building a new community is a big effort. It is not one of those projects that you complete and move onto the next one. Building the community and installing the software is the first step, and the real work comes in after the launch of the community. You will need to have people on board and ready to manage the day to day responsibilities from a community perspective and to administer and maintain the software. For a small community this could be a single person, but for a large corporate community, it usually takes a team of people.

You should also plan for frequent upgrades and adjustments to the community, especially right after the launch. You will find bugs in the software, areas of the community that the users find difficult to use for whatever reason, and other things that you will need to adjust once you have people actually using the community. Your organization should be ready to handle these ongoing costs and resource commitments over the life of the community. Nothing is worse than wasting time and money on something that won't be maintained long enough to achieve your goals.

While this certainly isn't everything that you need to consider when starting a new community, hopefully, it will get you started on the right path. For more information, you might also want to read some of Jeremiah Owyang's posts about community platforms or some of the online community research that Bill Johnston is doing at ForumOne.

The next and final installment of this 3 part series will cover how to maintain a successful community with some hints about what to do (and what not to do).

If you are interested in reading more of my content, you can find it on the Fast Wonder Blog.

Virtual Contact Centers

Leslie Nelson, responsible for customer management at Bluefly a retailer that strives to be the store of first resort for designer fashions, gave an exciting talk about their experience with virtual contact centers.

Why do they go the virtual route?

- quality problems
-costs were spiraling out of control
- problems with attendance
-trouble with training
- "superagents" were training, even though they were not trained as trainers

They tried adding call centers, but then they quickly decided to outsource as they are NOT an expert in call center management. They looked at many different potential partners.
They selected a firm, VIP Desk, known for their virtual approach to customer service and their hosting support for luxury brands

Now Bluefly has people who, because they are virtual, have a much better worl/life situation. And they don't have to fill up their tank on the way to their office! So, Bluefly has a 95% retention rate. They are several KPI's the Blue "Brand Ambassodors" are assesed on and the better they do the more flexibility they have.

Results?

1st six months. Cost per contact down by 18%.
Year to date: cost per contact down 32%

Year to date, sales conversion has doubled.
Scale is now easy and fast.
Set up of new of new queues for promotions in days.

Team structure? Service leaders are responsible for quality and training only and they have a defined team.

Keys to managing outstouced virtual teams?
- Doing all of the training material in house
- Great service leaders in the outsourcer
- A communication strategy that enables agile knowledge transfer like Daily Huddles and IM, weekly business reviews and forecasting
- Online training in Webrooms allowing two way conversations led by professional trainers
word of caution: virtual training takes 150% to make sure people are engaged
- Online materials like Bluefly's "Flashionista U"
- A passionate desire to assure people on the front line have the information they need to answer the question
- Motiving teams by incentivizing with your products on which they are now more knowledgable

All in all an exciting window into the virtual contact center world!

A Key to Next Generation Quality: Speech Analytics

Erika Van Noort of Bell Canada walked us through the evolution of customer care at Bell Canada and provided a deep dive on the power of Speech Analytics.

Bell is moving from a more fragmented business, built through acquisition, towards a more integrated , optimized environment for the customer. One way to optimize is through mining existing data, including call data.

Here was Bell's wish list of what they wanted to learn from their call data:
- Root causes to why customers call
- What value add vs. non value add
- Get at the true Voice of the Customer
- Reduce what Price called earlier dumb contacts and increase time for value adding contacts
- Customer intelligence (preferences, drivers of behaviors, etc.)

In response to these and other questions, one approach to data mining is speech analytics.

"Speech Analytics, Erika explained, " does not mean you never have to listen to customer call again. Only if you don't care about your customers." But through speech analytics Bell has learned a lot about process, products and service, more than they could have learned from traditional call monitoring, including:

Benefits of speech analytics?
- Root cause analysis
- Real time feedback
- Positive impact on FCR
- Reduced low value calls
- Opportunities for cross selling

And this is using the superset of all calls, not a sample, something you just can't do with traditional call monitoring.

An analytics tree - how Bell looks at each call
- a call we want?
- routed correctly?
- resolved well?
- a church opportunity?

Speech Analytics: What Bell does

- take all calls
- break them down by reasons why customers call
- look at trends and outliers
- get at root causes
- identify real time call back opportunities

Results were great: FCR up, Sat. up, escalations down, productivity up, revenue way up

And employee feedback was very positive. "At last you have realized a dish that goes at 2Am is not my fault."

Making the wins real:

- 1 customer event took 3 and 1/2 months.
- 6 customer calls and transfers
- 1 hour and a half of call time
- Cost? $400

Now multiply that by all the repeat calls and you are talking real money!

Understanding length of call by call type enables Bell to set thresholds for talk time based on what is really needed to get the customer's work done right the first time.

Finally, this information drives changes to process, product and service design based on a systematic analysis of true voice of the customer. And this VOC is used at the highest levels of the company.

All Hands on Deck

Empowering Agents to Use Tacit Knowledge and Exceed Customer Expectations

Dr. Susan Reisinger of the US Navy's Global Distance Support Center

"If you don't give them the opportunity to fail, you won't give them the opportunity to succeed."

With these words, Susan explained how management just has to get over the risks that empowered service agents might make mistakes, might go too far...because this is the best way to get FCR up, employee morale up and turnover down. In her talk she described how the Distance Support Center gets the job done well often in complex circumstances connecting elements of the Navy family around the globe.

The cornerstone of their success in empowering their agents? Use of Tacit Knowldge.

What is tacit knowledge? "It's our agents know, but don't know they know," explained Susan.

The Support Center systemtically captures and shares cases describing how tacit knowledge is used...but does not try to turn these cases into cookie cutter scripts. The goal is to expand the scope of what an agent can and knows how to do.

Results are clear -
Their customer sat ratings range between 92 and 95% every month and
FCR averages 96%!
And agent satisfaction is up and turnover down.

Keys to this approach:

  • Go beyond a scripted, procedural approach -Use cases for training - real-life scenarios
  • Use a WIKI to share these in real time -Goal is to share what works
  • Consider peer review as a way to evaluate what works and what does not
  • Delineate when it is okay to go outside the box and when it is not, and how far they can go.
  • You can get to these guardrails through trial and error
Empowered agents like their jobs better and do a better job for the customer. Not a surprise, perhaps, but how the Support Center gets there is something special.

Best Service is No Service - Bill Price

Insights from our Contact Center 360 Summit today:

First up "The Best Service is no Service." - with Bill Price, formerly of Amazon.Com

- "The best service is no service," was Bill's response to Jeff Bezos' question about his philosophy of customer service when interviewing for a job leading Customer Satisfaction for Amazon. Bill gives voice to something many of us have been thinking about for years - think of a call to a contact center as a breakdown in the service model.

Bill calls non value adding calls "dumb contacts."

• Dumb contacts are ones that are not valuable to the customer or the business.
• If a contact is dumb it should be automated.

Companies that get this are measuring there % of Self Service. Many target as high as 90%, but Bill suggests using 80% as a workable goal. % Service provides a much better focus for service program than FCR or other traditional contact center metrics.

Bill relayed great examples of how self-service adds value based on knowing the customer's needs: Two struck me as wow:
  • The Autobahn breaking into your FM radio program with an automated message warning off raffic ahead and then activating your GPS to show you where to get off
  • MM's allowing online requests of personalized candies for special occasions.
Each example drove home the need for innovation in service design.

Here is a real gem about dealing with an age old challenge at call centers - How to melt "snowballs." Yes, snowballs. Snowballs are repeat contacts because once they start rolling each call comes in with a bigger and bigger AHT Key to "melting them?" Unlimited Handle Time allowed for specific question types to do as much research as required, as long as it takes...to get to a First Call resolution.

Bottom line on Bill's talk:
Great service is table stakes.

Value comes from innovating ways to take the service call out of the equation.

Making Magic Every Day - Lessons from the Disney Institute

"Service is tough, " so said Bruce Kimbrell our facilitator from the Disney Institute.

Yep. But the way Bruce talks about service makes it infinitely fascinating and fun!

We got the basics on loyalty you would expect. Lifetime value. Know your markets. The relation of the employee's satisfaction with the experience of the customer. But there was so much more...

Some takeaways from Bruce's delightful talk:

  • "I just work here." The enemy of customer loyalty is the company where "the rules" are a disincentive to customer satisfaction and the culture is "we just follow the rules."
  • "What little bump does it take to notice service?" Disney pays attention to the details.
  • Loyal customers feel ownership of the brand, "it becomes part of how they send messages about themselves."
  • "Seamless process - start to finish." This is a favorite of mine. Thinking about what happens before, during, and after each individual transaction gets at the whole customer experience.
  • Why do customers leave? Bruce's answer. It's the "Yeah, what?"...the "you're bothering me" look from a service person communicates "I don't care."
  • Then there was a real life letter from a customer with accompanying pictures of their stay in Disney World. "Thank you for adding magic to our stay." Wow. A housekeeper moves Mickey around, posing him differently each day when she cleans the room and a grandchild experiences a vacation she will remember fondly - forever. You could hear the "awww's" fromt he audience at the last photo of Mickey at the window...waiting for the family to return to the room.
  • The challenge? "Once you have bumped it, that becomes the new level, the new expectation."
  • Identity - Value- Relationships...these in balance build great loyalty.
  • Experience Mapping - way cool. Disney uses these to break down the elements of value and see what drives the quality of every experience. For each they define what would meet and what would exceed expectations. The goal is to exceed.
  • "What do you want to be known for, then make that connection at every point."
  • And there was that clip at the end with the girl dancing with a cast member. I teared up, more than just a bit. “We have the opportunity to make magic every day.” Yep.

Thanks, Bruce, for an inspiring journey into the magic of Disney service.

Corporate Communities Part 1: Planning

I'm Dawn Foster, and I will be your guest blogger for this week. I have a three part series planned that that will cover corporate communities: planning your community, getting started, and maintaining your community over time.

This first post is focused on planning for your corporate community. When I talk about corporate communities, I'm referring to any custom community created by an organization for the purpose of engaging with customers or other people who may be interested in the organization's products and services. For the purpose of this series, custom corporate communities include communities created by corporations, non-profit organizations, educational institutions and similar organizations. These corporate communities can take many different forms: support communities, developer communities to help developers work with your products, customer and enthusiast communities, and many others.

Before jumping in to create a new community, you should think carefully about the purpose of this new community, your goals and objectives, and a plan for fitting your community efforts into your organization's overall strategy.

Here are a few questions that can help you think through the process of planning for your new community:

What is your overall strategy and does the community fit with it?

If your custom corporate community does not support the overall strategies of the organization, I give it about a 5% chance of being successful. Creating a new community can be a very large project with quite a bit of upfront work to create the community along with a large effort over the life of the community to manage and maintain it. If this time and effort is spent in support of the overall corporate strategy, then it will be much easier to justify keeping the community during the next planning cycle for your organization. On the other hand, when a community is built to support goals that are not clearly aligned with the overall strategy, people will look at it as a big expense that can be cut, and your community will die a quick death if you are lucky or a horrible slow death by neglect if you aren't quite as fortunate.

Spend the time now to make sure that you can find a way to structure your community plans to support the overall strategy of your organization. If you can't find a good way to align your plans with the strategy, you should think twice about whether a corporate community is an appropriate solution for you right now.

What do you hope to accomplish and what are your goals?

Think very carefully about why you are creating a new community for your organization. Spend plenty of time upfront to clearly define the reasons for creating it and what you will accomplish by having the community. There are many benefits of having a community, and here are a few benefits that you might want to consider when you think about the goals for your community:
  • People: gives people a place to engage with your company
  • Product Innovation: get product feedback and ideas
  • Evangelism: help you grow evangelists for your products from outside of your company
  • Brand Loyalty: engagement can drive a tremendous amount of loyalty for your products
After you have a good grasp on what you hope to accomplish, you need to set some specific goals for the project. When you get into the platform selection process and design phase later in the project, having clear goals will help ensure that you build the right kind of community to achieve these goals.

In part 2 of this series, I'll focus on a few more things to think about as you get started with your community.

If you are interested in reading more of my content, you can find it on the Fast Wonder Blog.

We are off and running!

It's great to be here at the NACCM Customer 1st Conference representing Fidelity Investments. Now, more than ever, we are aware how essential customer loyalty is to the continued success of our businesses.

Blogging will be a great way to share best observations and insights from sessions throughout the conference. Amanda just kicked us off so we are off and running...

Gregory North
Fidelity Investments