Monday, November 30, 2009

Twitter Declared Most Popular English Word of 2009

Mashable reports that the word, "Twitter" has been declared the most popular English word of 2009. The Global Language Monitor, which tracks language trends, has once again compiled and released its yearly list of the most popular words and phrases within the English language. In 2008, the #1 most popular word was “change” (referring to the mantra of the top name of 2008, Barack Obama). However, Obama has been supplanted this year by the 140 character sensation that is Twitter.

Twitter Declared Most Popular English Word of 2009

Black Friday E-Commerce Climbs 11%

The Wall Street Journal reports that the 2009 "Black Friday" e-commerce climbed 11%. According to the market-research firm, comScore, U.S. consumers have spent $10.57 billion online from the beginning of the month to Nov. 27, then $318 million on Thanksgiving and $595 million the following day. Pre-Thanksgiving e-commerce sales were up 3%, while Thanksgiving-day sales rose 10%.

Black Friday marked the second-highest day in terms of online spending this year, after Nov. 19, when consumers spent $641 million.

“This is a very encouraging start,” comScore’s chairman, Gian Fulgoni, said in a statement. He noted, however, that aggressive marketing may be responsible for some of the uptick and that the coming weeks would be “the real test” for holiday-season e-commerce.

Black Friday E-Commerce Climbs 11%

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Woot.com Launches Deal Crowdsourcing Site

The venerable spot for deal-seekers just went social. Woot.com has introduced Deals.Woot.com, an attempt to turn its rabid fans into a crowd-sourced deal finding-and-evaluating machine that finds dozens of bargains worthy of a “w00t, w00t!”says Wired writer, Ryan Singel.

Singel continues, While Woot isn’t the first to try this, Woot has already grown a fanatically loyal user community around its sites. Already the deal site is attracting more votes per item than any previous such attempts ever seemed to.

What do you think about this move by Woot? Will we see more deal websites trying to compete in the social/crowd-sourcing arena?

Improving Customer Service Phone Skills

Here's an interesting post on the FuelNet blogs that details six tips for improving telephone conversations with customer service agents. After all, every phone call is important, so knowing how to provide good customer service is crucial. Here are the tips:

1. Improve your posture.

2. Give a confident welcome.

3. Ask for the customer’s name, and use it.

4. Give a positive, definite first response.

5. Listen and use verbal “nods.”

6. Offer a customer-friendly solution or explanation.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Social Media is a Team Effort

I came across this post from Chris Brogan's blog in which he compares social media to a recent football game he was watching. What he was trying to get across in the post is that just like how football games can not be won solely by the quarterback or head coach, people will have trouble convincing companies to adopt social media if the industry is filled with solo players. To make things work in social media, every part of an internal + external team should be assigned a task. Instead, companies are assigning all these tasks simply to one person in the company, and this does nothing to help communication within these channels. There needs to be a more integrated approach. Do you agree with Chris?

WSJ: Marketers Find Web Chat Can Be Inspiring

Emily Steel of The Wall Street Journal reports that many market researchers are now looking to web chats and alternative new media methods for their research. Steel writes, for decades, advertisers have relied heavily on sometimes-dated consumer surveys and focus groups to provide grist for their ads. Now, some are using new technologies to scan the Web for key words to find out what consumers are—and aren't—saying about their brands. Then, they are incorporating those findings into their more-conventional research and using them not only to choose the overall themes of their marketing campaigns, but also specific text and photos for their ads.

Have you used any of these tactics in your research? What successes or failures have you experienced?

Marketers Find Web Chat Can Be Inspiring

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tips on Gathering Consumer Insight in a 3D World

Here's an interesting article from the Forrester blog in which Reineke Reitsma details some best practices in how to gather consumers insight in a 3D world. Here are her tips...Enjoy!

1. Dare to take risks. Approach research questions from a different perspective.
2. Start small. Invite executive members to meet with customers in an informal setting.
3. Stick to what's relevant to you. Work with vendors to find a way to make the research methodology fit your specific needs.
4. Collaborate internally. Involve the research users from the beginning and introduce them step-by-step to the new methodology.
5. Failure doesn't exist. Failure leads to innovation.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Gamers get social media as Facebook comes to PS3

PS3 addicts can now access Facebook through their systems. Brandrepublic.com writes, Sony is promising more integration with Facebook to come, but in the meantime PlayStation owners will be able to check updates and those of their friends on Facebook and Twitter as well as other social media sites through the PS3's built-in browser.

Most importantly with Facebook on the Xbox gamers will be able to find out which of their Facebook friends are also on Xbox Live. Other features include the ability to browse photos and update their status.

For more on the Facebook's presence on PS3, please click here.

USAToday: Social media like Twitter change customer service

By now you've heard of companies in the United States harnessing the power of Twitter to fully connect with their customers. USAToday has a fascinating breakdown of the companies and what has and hasn't worked with Twitter and customer service.

Is your company utilizing Twitter? What do you think you've learned from your customers? We'd like to hear your thoughts.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Heart Based Service Expo

I just finished doing my seminar on the Heart Based Service Expo. What fun - my heart felt thanks to Lori and Raleigh for inviting me to take part in this extraordinary event.
If you missed it and you want to listen in do this:
Download your handout at www.PositivityPractices.com and then go to
http://www.heart-based-service.com/expo/Brandi http://bit.ly/23U3mL to find my seminar (in the next 48 hours) and to sign up for the others! 20 Experts 5 days - spectacular info, great fun!

All the best, JoAnna

Free Web Seminar - New Research Study: Do Consumers Prefer Private Label? A Look Into Consumer Attitudes About Private Label

Date/Time: Wed, Dec 9, 2009 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM EST

Do consumers know the difference between national brands and store brands? Do they care? How do they describe private label compared to national brands? Does this differ across categories? How about across markets?

Private label and store brands are having an impact on many consumer purchases today, both in the US and Europe. And within these markets the definition of private label compared to national brands varies according to category and retailer.

When is a brand important? What makes a national brand different? Do consumers feel the same way about brands today as they did a year ago? Why or why not?

Showcasing BuzzBack’s unique portfolio of award-winning online research techniques, this webinar will highlight new consumer research conducted in the US and UK about purchasing behavior and attitudes associated with private label versus national consumer brands. The study will present ways to identify consumer behavior and attitudes about shopping via an online survey.

As you listen in, you will learn:
• What drives consumer purchases of private label brands and why
• Consumer perceptions and attitudes about private label compared to national brands
• Types of people who purchase private label compared to national brands

Featured Speaker
Brendan Light, SVP, Research and Development, BuzzBack Market Research

Register: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/781266785
Mention priority code MWS0020BLOG

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What can social media do for your business?

The MetroWest Daily News' Jeff Adair recently spoke with Bob Cargill, the Direct Marketer of the Year for 2009, recently commented on what social media can do for a business, from building more connections between the brand and customers to what the most effective social media tool is. Cargill believes social media is here to stay and not a fad, as it is on track to become more used than any other electronic communication.

Cargill also added this about how it enhances your in-person encounters with your customers:
"Yes, absolutely. Social media shouldn’t replace face-to-face meetings. Ideally, it should lead to even more physical encounters. It should help you make connections online with people who ultimately become customers and friends offline. There’s even a word for meetings between two or more people who have met on Twitter. It’s called a Tweetup. "

Read the full article here.

Best customer service according to shoppers

The National Retail Federation spoke with 8,000 shoppers and asked which stores they believed had the best customer service. The Top Ten listed were: Amazon.com, Coldwater Creek, HSN, J.C. Penney, Kohl's department stores, Lands End, L.L. Bean, Nordstrom, Overstock.com, QVC and Zappos. A number of these recently spoke at the NACCM: Customers 1st Conference. Click to read more about Zappos' customer service and HSN's customer experience. The winner will be released on January 12. Read more here.

Today's Free Web Seminar Next Thursday - Unlock a Better Business Strategy with Text Analytics

Start Date/Time: Today - Thu, Nov 19, 2009 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM EST

With SPSS text analytics, you can read documents, blogs, wikis, tweets, e-mails, call center notes, surveys and other free form text – and turn the insight you gain into a true strategic asset. We’ll show you how to use text analytics with social media and other Web 2.0 sites to understand trends, and what your customers want, and how they’ll behave. We’ll demonstrate using text analytics in modeling to make your models better, and how to use automatic translation from more than 30 languages to make sense of your global customer base.

Your customers are talking about you, and you can gain a genuine advantage by knowing what they are saying. Attend this webinar and learn how you can “listen in” – and act on the information to gain a competitive edge.

This webinar will show how to:
- Use text analytics to make sense of any text, including Web 2.0 sources such as social networking sites
- Use the information to get a better understanding of your customers, your products, and your competitors.
- Make sense of free-form text resources, and act on the insight you gain
- Unlock predictive secrets from text sources, and combine that information with structured data to build powerful predictive
models that can inform decision making.

Featured Speaker
Jane Hendricks, Product Marketing Manager, SPSS, an IBM Company

Mention priority code MWS0026BLOG when registering:
https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/646359377

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Could segmentation lead to stereotyping?

Caleb Hannan of Seattle Weekly recently wrote a piece that questioned whether or not Starbucks was write in sponsoring Nascar. Was Nascar the right choice for them? Did Nascar fans drink coffee? Read the article here.

He does bring up an interesting point. Does your company seek out customers in places that might not be typical? While we see certain customers frequenting Starbucks and other frequenting races on the weekend, could there be an unexplored market you haven't yet tapped yet? What are other examples of companies reaching out to markets that aren't typically suited for them, but have found success.

As the article points out, racing fans are some of the most loyal customers in the industry. What does Starbucks have to loose from reaching out and investigating a new market? They're both potentially letting new customers know about their brand and showing returning customers that they're a diverse brand.

Blogging Innovation: Five Steps to a Successful B2B Social Media Strategy

Matt Heinz of Blogging Innovation discusses today about how social media professionals can effectively manage B2B communication. Heinz offers five key ways to strategize your b2b efforts.

They are as follows:

1. Strategize
2. Publish
3. Follow
4. Engage
5. Convert & Measure

We encourage you to check out Heinz's post for his run-down of each element. Any that you'd like to add?


Five Steps to a Successful B2B Social Media Strategy

Monday, November 16, 2009

Market research catches up with Web 2.0

Tamara Barber, writing for Research-live.com says it’s time for the industry to embrace online communities as a research tool – and defends the increasingly unfashionable term ‘Web 2.0’

Barber writes, over the past month, through gatherings such as the IIR’s Market Research Event, the Esomar Online Research conference and Forrester’s Consumer Forum, researchers have been buzzing about how to incorporate Web 2.0 – or social media – into their research mix, how to use the internet for crowdsourcing ideas, and whether customer insights are the same as market research. Clearly, it’s time for our industry to innovate, and no doubt companies like BrainJuicer, Invoke Solutions, Communispace and others are teaching the rest of us how to think outside the radio button online survey and adopt the next evolution of online market research.

Take a look at the rest of Tamara's article and let us know your thoughts. Are we moving to Web 2.0 or past it?

Treat your Customers Right this Holiday Season

Here's five tips from the EConsultancy blog for holiday retailers on treating your customers right during this holiday season. Enjoy!

1. Pay attention to price - Pay close attention to competing prices as customers will bargain hunt during this recession.
2. Customer Service: bring your A-game - If customers feel left behind, chances are they will shop elsewhere.
3. Reach out and reward existing customers - Customer engagement is crucial and that is even more so during the holiday season. Be relevant in your communications and reward.
4. Don't be afraid to start early - Start sales early this year.
5. ...or save yourself for later - Stores that stock up on in-demand products during the end of the season coup reap the benefits.

How to Build Brand Awareness of Facebook

This recent article in SearchEnglineLand.com discusses how a company can create brand awareness on Facebook. Kevin Gibbons give the example of Aleksandr Orlov, the founder of Compare the Meerkat. His status updates are sporadic and written in the way he talks, so it doesn't sound salesy. Not only that, but the online persona is not closely associated with the online website, and so it makes it ok to become a fan without all of the marketing that goes along with it.

Armed Forces Day is an example of an organization that has a lot of fans without any real marketing behind it. The reasoning behind this is because of the brilliance of what the organization stands for. Dunkin Donuts is another Facebook Fan favorite. Dunkin embraced a campaign that allowed its Facebook users to post pictures of themselves with any Coolatta drink. Involving your fans in the community is a sure way to get hundreds of fans.

What are some other examples of companies building brand awareness on Facebook?

Friday, November 13, 2009

As a social media professional, what should you be reading?

What books are you currently reading to learn more about social media? Mashable just published a list with what they believe are the top five books. What would you add?

Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith
The Whuffie Factor by Tara Hunt
Six Pixels of Separation by Mitch Joel
Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuck
The New Community Rules by Tamar Weinberg

For commentary on the books, read the full article at Mashable.

How to Write a Survey

Here's an interesting post I came across on the PcQL blog that gives somes tips on how to write a quality survey, quality being the key word. Here are 3 easy tips from the post, that if followed, is a guaranteed method to getting quality results.

1. What are you trying to find out? - A good survey is designed to answer your question, so the results should tell you what you want to find out.

2. How are you going to use the information? - Make sure you know why you are asking the questions in the first place because if they are not going to be used, there is no point in conducting the survey.

3. Telephone, Postal, Web, Face-to-Face? - There are many ways to conduct surveys and each method has its pros and cons, but which is best for your survey? You must properly research the benefits of each method to make a informed decision on which style is best for what you are trying to answer.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

5 Ways to Flub Customer Service

Samuel Greengard of CIO Insight lists ways that even the biggest companies can flub customer service. He writes, customers are rarely satisfied with the service businesses provide. Understanding those complaints, as well as the processes and technologies associated with customer service, can help CIOs and their teams avoid these customer-care blunders.

1. Outsourcing without understanding all the implications
2. Relying on incomplete metrics.
3. Underutilizing analytics.
4. Taking your existing customers for granted.
5. Trying to be everything to everybody.

What do you think of Greengard's list? Any that you'd like to add?

NYTimes: How to Market Your Business With Facebook

New York Times reporter Kermit Pattison writes today that small business owners may want to re-think their relationship with Facebook. As we've covered on this blog before, Facebook can be a powerful tool for small business owners. Utilizing the fan page and group functions, your product/service's reach can extend far beyond your target market. Here's what Pattison has to say, Businesses can easily create a Web presence with Facebook, even if they don’t have their own Web site (most companies still should maintain a Web site to reach people who don’t use Facebook or whose employers block access to the site). Businesses can claim a vanity address so that their Facebook address reflects the business name, like www.facebook.com/Starbucks. Facebook pages can link to the company’s Web site or direct sales to e-commerce sites like Ticketmaster or Amazon.

Read more of Pattison's claims for Facebook and let us know your thoughts.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

NYTimes: Know Your Market Before You Leap

If you're starting a business or launching a new product, New York Times reporter Paul B. Brown has a few tips on what to consider before making the leap.


“Who are your five nearest direct competitors?

“Who are the indirect competitors?

“Is their business growing, steady or declining?

“What are their strengths and weaknesses?

“How does their product or service differ from yours?

"What can you learn from their operations or from their advertising?”

Brown also discusses how professional market researchers being the process of answering these questions.

What do you think of Brown's tips? Any to add?

Free Web Seminar Next Thursday - Unlock a Better Business Strategy with Text Analytics

Start Date/Time: Thu, Nov 19, 2009 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM EST

With SPSS text analytics, you can read documents, blogs, wikis, tweets, e-mails, call center notes, surveys and other free form text – and turn the insight you gain into a true strategic asset. We’ll show you how to use text analytics with social media and other Web 2.0 sites to understand trends, and what your customers want, and how they’ll behave. We’ll demonstrate using text analytics in modeling to make your models better, and how to use automatic translation from more than 30 languages to make sense of your global customer base.

Your customers are talking about you, and you can gain a genuine advantage by knowing what they are saying. Attend this webinar and learn how you can “listen in” – and act on the information to gain a competitive edge.

This webinar will show how to:
- Use text analytics to make sense of any text, including Web 2.0 sources such as social networking sites
- Use the information to get a better understanding of your customers, your products, and your competitors.
- Make sense of free-form text resources, and act on the insight you gain
- Unlock predictive secrets from text sources, and combine that information with structured data to build powerful predictive
models that can inform decision making.

Featured Speaker
Jane Hendricks, Product Marketing Manager, SPSS, an IBM Company

Mention priority code MWS0026BLOG when registering:
https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/646359377

Dead from Distraction?

Like many of the attendees at the NACCM Customers First conference last week I was excited to see Michael Tchong (http://www.ubercool.com/) as one of our closing keynotes. Michael (besides being ubercool is uber informative and engaging in his presentations. He playfully engaged the audience and kept us involved in his thoroughly well done peek at the future of our world – which is without a doubt a digital one.


Michael asked this audience of professionals (not teenagers, mind you, grown-ups) how many people texted while driving. I’d say about 20%- 30% of the audience raised their hands. I looked around the room and saw people I knew with their hands in the air. I must say I was a bit taken back, after all we all know the dangers, yes?

Read the rest of this important story HERE : www.CustomerCareGoddess.com

You'll be shocked - and it's my intention to shock you. Let's wake ourselves up - the digital future will only be ours if we are alive to enjoy it!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cutting off the customer

The Wall Street Journal has an article that looks at how some companies are cutting off the customer that's costing the company more money than profit. Last year, many companies would work with their customers, offer them discounts or work with them on payment options. This year, however, many smaller companies are finding that by cutting off customers who don't pay actually increases their profit, as they have more time to spend with those customers who are making their payments.

Do you agree with this? Have you had to break relations with some of your needy customers in order to create a better supplier for your revenue-generating customers? How do you feel about this approach to business from a customer service perspective?

Reminder: Free Web Seminar Next Thursday - Unlock a Better Business Strategy with Text Analytics

Start Date/Time: Thu, Nov 19, 2009 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM EST

With SPSS text analytics, you can read documents, blogs, wikis, tweets, e-mails, call center notes, surveys and other free form text – and turn the insight you gain into a true strategic asset. We’ll show you how to use text analytics with social media and other Web 2.0 sites to understand trends, and what your customers want, and how they’ll behave. We’ll demonstrate using text analytics in modeling to make your models better, and how to use automatic translation from more than 30 languages to make sense of your global customer base.

Your customers are talking about you, and you can gain a genuine advantage by knowing what they are saying. Attend this webinar and learn how you can “listen in” – and act on the information to gain a competitive edge.

This webinar will show how to:
- Use text analytics to make sense of any text, including Web 2.0 sources such as social networking sites
- Use the information to get a better understanding of your customers, your products, and your competitors.
- Make sense of free-form text resources, and act on the insight you gain
- Unlock predictive secrets from text sources, and combine that information with structured data to build powerful predictive
models that can inform decision making.

Featured Speaker
Jane Hendricks, Product Marketing Manager, SPSS, an IBM Company

Mention priority code MWS0026BLOG when registering:
https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/646359377

Monday, November 9, 2009

Public library looks at segmentation

The Topeka and Shawnee Public Library System has segmented their market in order to better provide for the members of their different branches. By looking at the populations around the branches of their library, they've been able to get a sense of what they should carry at each library. For libraries surrounded by lots of elementary schools, they'll have a larger children section, and for areas where lots of adults live, they'll provide more best sellers, etc. Watch the webinar of their findings here.

Source: EIS Education Community

Burberry Banks on Social Media Love for their Iconic Trench Coat

Reuters reports this morning that the luxury goods brand, Burberry is introducing its nearly 100 year old Trench coat to social media. The Web site, artofthetrench.com, will allow members connected via Facebook to submit images and stories about Burberry trench coats and share them with one other...The Web site, artofthetrench.com, will allow members connected via Facebook to submit images and stories about Burberry trench coats and share them with one other.

What do you think of stalwart retailers using the social space for their goods? Will they see a benefit?

Friday, November 6, 2009

NACCM 2009: I Want To Tweet You Up

Here's another post from the Customers 1st blog which highlights a session called "I Want To Tweet You Up" from Michael Tchong at the NACCM Conference that just took place. Enjoy!

I Want To Tweet You Up: What Emerging Customer Trends Mean for Your Business
Michael Tchong, Trend Analyst & Founder, Ubercool

We should begin by discriminating trends from fads. Trends are consumer value changes. The best way to predict consumer behavior

Ubertrend – major movement, pattern or wave, emerging in the consumer lifestyle

Digital lifestyle – marriage between man and machine
The Compression – the acceleration of life
Unwired – The unhooked generation

Captin Sully’s situation reporting coverage was changed by Twitter. The first image was from Janis Krums from Sarasota, Florida from an iPhone. Comedians are the ones who best observe trends. The youths are on the front of this trend. The majority of Twitter users are abroad. Twendz lets you see Twitter trends as they are cascading down. Michael Tchong said Twitter will make or break swine flu.

Multitasking too much makes it harder for humans to remember things. The Wii now responds people to rehabilitate faster. Have you gone to “Wii”hab yet?

Tchong looks to microwaves for introducing Americans to instant gratification. Our state of mind has become a state of time. Culture has created a fast society, because we have a fear of being left behind.

Everyone is looking for innovation. In 1999, 95% of people stated that they wanted to be a leader. This is up from 37% in 1991.



We’re all facing the GPS Generation. We can get anywhere like a native, and leaving maps behind. Same can be said for speed dial and remembering phone numbers. Sit or Squat to find the restroom.

Time Compression. Food, photos, instant energy, etc. We are all trigger happy. Epic fail – Frequently used term in the video game community that means you really messed up and/or something/someone is an utter failure. This is video game culture seeping into life.

Digital lifestyle: We’ve gotten an unknown president into office. Twilight and New Moon made a mom from Phoenix a multimillionaire.

Download free Uberternds map at ubercool.com.

NACCM 2009: An interview with Allegiance, Inc.

Guest blogger Norma Huibregtse spoke with Jason Tripp, Sales Manager with Allegiance, Inc, while at NACCM 2009 to find out about their offerings and their views on the customer service industry.


NACCM 2009: Do you outsource your social media work?

Guest Blogger Norma Huibregtse talked to Becky Carroll after her presentation about outsourcing your social media, how you should bring personality in to your social media when using it for customer service, where it's going in the future, and more.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

NACCM 2009: In Photos

Day Two was a great experience. We spent most of the day looking at the kind of service we provide through our customers eyes.

Here is the day in photos:


We Can Change the World

While the "official" bloggers for Customers First show have written about ever speaker at the show, this somewhat newbie show blogger is still digesting the amazing amount of info and writing slowly. (That's why I didn't volunteer to be "official". I suspected it might take me a little longer.)

I've enjoyed the show tremendously and tonight I am enjoying the company of a friend here in Phoenix, and will continue with my blogging thoughts tomorrow.
Meantime - I just loved Emily Yellin's session this morning and have my comments on that session posted over at my place : www.CustomerCareGoddess.com

Enjoy - and then get out and change the world

NACCM 2009: Make Customer Strategy a Reality: Moving from Vision to Execution – Implementing Your Customer Strategy with Speed

As we end the North American Conference on Customer Management 2009, consider how we take the “what” we learned and turn it into a strategic “how”. This thought was posed by Tom Atkinson, Director of Customer Research for the Forum Corporation.

Atkinson talked about developing “strategic speed” because of the impact it has on sustaining our businesses. The 1980’s and 1990’s were about first-generation speed. It’s now time for second-generation speed which is about mindset and mobilizing people.

Strategic speed means delivering value to customers faster. The key to strategic speed is how your organization’s leaders think and act. They don’t aim for speed per se, but rather for increases in three people factors:

1) Clarity – shared understanding of the situation and the direction you are heading. Employees should be able to answer the question “where are we going and why?”

2) Unity – collaboration across departments, geographic boundaries, etc, is the main driver of unity in business. A culture of collaboration helps projects and strategies hold together.

3) Agility – Encouraging people to find ways to meet strategic objectives in a constantly changing environment rather than sticking to a rigid plan. Companies which can quickly resolve customer issues win.

Atkinson stressed that strategic speed requires leadership and that leaders need 4 key abilities to succeed:

1) Affirming strategies
2) Driving initiatives
3) Managing climate
4) Cultivating experience (learning and sharing by all)

He challenged the audience to think about these concepts as they return home to develop new strategies. Visit Forum’s website at Forum.com to read more about this concept.

NACCM 2009: Culture in Action: Applying the Zappos.com Culture to Your Organization – Building a Brand that Matters



What does Oprah, ABC Nightline and 60 Minutes have in common? They all have featured the online retailer Zappos.com because of their customer service excellence. Maura Sullivan, Customer Loyalty Team Manager shared how Zappos.com leadership, under the direction of CEO Tony Hsieh, has built a solid foundation on customer and employee centricity.

Founded in 1999, Zappos.com has grown to a total of 1,400 employees, located in the Las Vegas headquarters and the Kentucky fulfillment center. They have over 10 million customers and on any given day, about 75% of purchases are from returning customers. Sales have grown from $1.6 million in 2001 to $1,014 million in 2008.

Zappos.com has focused their efforts on what the customer sees, what the customer experiences, and what the company does internally to help employees meet customer needs. The customer sees several value propositions on the Zappos.com website which include 24/7 customer service, 800 number on every page, free shipping, free return shipping, and a 365-day return policy. Returns average 35%, high for industry norms, but they factored that into their business model says Sullivan.

What the customer experiences is fast and accurate fulfillment, friendly above-and-beyond service, and occasional referrals to competitors for out-of-stock product. They see the value in these competitor referrals because of the “wow” factor it produces. Also, they don’t limit handle times for customer calls or have sales-based performance goals for reps. The telephone is one of their best branding devices available, says Sullivan.

Their internal policies include hiring the best front liners. Interviews are 50% based on core values and culture fit. New employees receive 5 weeks of training on corporate culture, 10 core values, customer service, and warehouse training. They even offer to pay $2,000 to trainees in their second week to quit if they don’t want to work for Zappos.com after all. 98% of them stay. They even have their own Culture Book where employees can post their feelings and thoughts about working for Zappos.com. No surprise that they were rated #23 on Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For.

Sullivan shared these 7 steps for building a brand that matters:

1) Decide. Decide sooner rather than later

2) Figure out values & culture. Originally there was not a core value list. A list of 37 values was created but they chose to pare it down to a list of 10.

3) Commit to transparency. Be real and you have nothing to fear. Twitter has opened up getting to know other employees. An “Ask Anything” company newsletter allows employees to ask questions and get answers. Extranet allows vendors to check inventory levels and create purchase orders as needed. Tours and reporter visits are encouraged.

4) Vision- Chase the vision, not the money.

5) Build relationships. Be interested rather than trying to be interesting.

6) Build your team. They hire slowly and fire quickly, says Sullivan.

7) Think long-term.

Put a little Zappos in your day. You can email msullivan@zappos.com to get a copy of the presentation or a copy of their Culture Book (include your mailing address). To receive a tour of their Las Vegas headquarters, you can contact them at tours@zappos.com. They will even pick you up at the airport!

One final quote: “People may not remember exactly what you did or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.”

NACCM 2009: Hello, How Can I Help You? Real-World - Feedback to Transform Your Service Delivery

The presentation began with the audience listening to heartfelt, recorded messages from Regence BlueCrossBlueShield customers. Here are a few of the comments they shared:

“So appreciative of the work everyone is doing on my behalf”
“I am so very grateful to you”
“You guys are wonderful”
“You are awesome”
“I’ve never had an insurance company like this before”

Joanne Gholtston Vice President, Customer Service and Bonnie Hass, Director, Customer Service at Regence BlueCross BlueShield shared one way they analyze customer feedback - by randomly reviewing customer service calls.

How easy do you make it for customers to do business with you? asked Gholston. Complicated phone trees, impersonal messages, and legal disclaimers can drive your customers away. In fact, Gholston and Hass have done away with the recorded-message disclaimer. This doesn’t work for all companies in all states they commented. Know your market and do what you can to keep it personal.

“Hard to hear”, “doesn’t sound happy”, “monotone voice”, and “no sympathy” were some of the comments made by the audience in reviewing a recorded employee conversation. Gholston and Hass regularly share these calls with several departments within the organization. When listening to calls, Hass believes that 95% of multiple service calls for an individual customer occur as a result of poor follow-up.

Looking at the pros and cons of customer service calls was insightful. In listening to the last call, audience members commented that the employee was “personable”, “had energy, “gave information” and “was engaged”. Isn’t this what we want from all of our customer reps? Gholston and Hass challenged the audience to go back and listen to customer service calls and find ways to add more value for their customers. Simple advice, BIG results.

NACCM 2009 LIVE: Living The Brand. How Marketing can Partner with HR to Create Better Brand and Customer Experiences

Tom Nightingale’s goal is to help make marketing everyone’s best friend, every day. That makes sense because he’s the Chief Marketing Officer of Con-way, Inc., one of the largest trucking/hauling companies in the world.

But what may surprise you is that one-third of Tom’s efforts deals with helping Con-way recruit and hire the best employees and candidates. The three pillars of Con-way’s marketing efforts include:

  1. Reduce the cost to acquire and retain customers
  2. Attract and retain the best and brightest employees
  3. Position the company for growth

Tom sees the brand is a way to support these efforts. Con-way applies solid branding and marketing principles to all audiences, but works in concert with HR on employees. They actually help HR attract candidates and recruit employees by supporting with marketing and materials.

The marketing department also runs all internal communications for the company and supports learning & development, training, etc.

Tom jokes that the reason he spends so much time helping recruit and manage employee engagement is because “People are too important to leave to HR.” Because of the success of their team effort, Tom’s HR colleagues agree.

The service sector presents branding challenges that make employee engagement paramount.

  • The performance is the product and demand is perishable.
  • Because production and consumption are so intertwined, services are more difficult to evaluate because they are less standardized and intangible.
  • Services are dominated by experience qualities that can only be meaningfully evaluated after purchase and during production.
  • Services are produced and consumed simultaneously so customers get to experience the factory floor with every brand touchpoint
  • Every person who works for the company has to be a marketer

There has never been a time when marketing and HR have needed each other more.

Turnover for a trucking company is 132% per year. There is a constant demand for experienced drivers. Con-way responds by consistent branding to driver recruitment across all mediums. Integrated marketing efforts into HR have increased hires and drastically reduced the cost per hire by 57%.

Internal marketing has helped things like “marketing” Con-way’s health coach program to help increase wellness among it’s employees. 97%+ of employees in their initial test group have engaged at significant levels in the program.

These are just a few of the examples of how marketing and HR can effectively work together to help create a company full of the right people who will live the brand.

NACCM 2009 LIVE: How Travelocity uses customer information to create a Customer Service Culture

When you’re one of the largest travel agencies in the U.S., and you manage the majority of your business through the web, you’ve got an interesting set of customer service challenges.

Travelocity is a very well-know portal for purchasing travel, not just in the U.S., but around the world through Travelocity.com, Travelocity Business, zugi, travelguru.com and more. All of this traffic is supported by four centers in the U.S., 3 in India, and 2 in the Philippines.

Travelocity achieves very high levels of service, even though they really never meet their customers face to face, and rarely even talk to them on the phone. How do that do that? Through Customer Championship.

Ginny Mahl is VP, Customer Care at Travelocity. Ginny shared with the NACCM Customer’s 1st conference what customer championship is and why is it important.

Travelocity’s customer promise is “We guarantee your booking will be right or we’ll work with our partners to make it right, right away.” That’s a big promise when you consider the volume of business they do.

  • Delivering on their promise requires a deep enterprise-wide commitment.
  • When a customer makes them aware of a travel problem, they fix it promptly at the first point of contact.
  • They advocate for the customer both within Travelocity and with travel suppliers.
  • They not only fix the first customer’s problem but also those of similarly situated customers. They improve the customer’s entire travel experience.

Example: When a booking ends up not being the room type expected, it’s a big problem, particularly when it’s a special event. Travelocity has developed a process to pre-confirm rooms to cut down on this problem. Travelocity tackles the problem, even though they didn’t cause it!

If you look at the many travel websites, you quickly realize that Travelocity cannot consistently differentiate with content. They all look and act pretty much the same.

Customer Championship is what makes Travelocity different.

  • It creates a sustainable differentiator between Travelocity and other sites.
  • It causes customers to be more loyal to an organization that provides support when needed
  • Doing the right thing for customers will forces Travelocity to evaluate its policies and processes and fix those that don’t make sense for the customer.
  • Being the customer’s advocate energizes employees

The essence of this effort is echoed in art of their mission statement: To Inspire Travelers and Be Their Champion.

A high-volume, mostly web-based business generates a mind-boggling amount of information about customers and their experiences. Here’s how Travelocity uses that information to support their championship vision. According to Ginny, they use it to:

  • Gain a deep understanding of our customers by listening
  • Assure the entire organization is accountable for delighting our customers
  • Work with our suppliers to improve the travel experience

Travelocity gets a vast amount of customer feedback through surveys, emails, calls, etc. -- hundreds of thousands of times per month. With so many millions of data points, it’s hard to digest it all.

Text Mining allows them to regularly and systematically read mass quantities of customer feedback.

In order to manage this process, they have created a dedicated customer advocacy team. This group researches the issues, contacts customers for resolution, and compile feedback for further study. They also look for customer “cries for help.”

“Cries for help” are verbatim comments that text mining allows them to search for that indicate a real problem. Comments on websites, surveys, etc. like “Do you care?” “Help!” “Refund my money!”Travelocity found that they can triple customer satisfaction when the customer advocacy team responds to them.

Another benefit of mining so much information and being able to make sense of it is that it also allows them to work better with suppliers. They can give real data to suppliers instead of just anecdotal stories.

In short, it helps them, and their suppliers provide travelers with Proactive Customer Care to make their experiences better and better.

As Ginny’s final comments reminded us: “Because it’s not just about getting there…it’s about assuring great experiences."

NACCM 2009 LIVE: Preparing for Customer Centricity 2020: How o Evolve the People, the Process & Technology to Meet Future needs

"If we're in a service economy, what's next?"

That’s the question Bo McBee, Vice President of Enterprise Total Customer Experience and Quality for Hewlett Packard., posed to the general session on Day 3 of the NACCM Customer’s 1st Conference.

It’s Bo’s job to think about these things. As he puts it, “At HP, the future is coming at us fast. It’s borderline chaos.” In fact, he’s never sent the drivers of loyalty change faster than they are right now.

Customers are empowered, informed, and demanding. They’ve got to see relevancy up front.

HP is a big company. Actually, that’s a severe understatement. A billion people use HP technology every day. Their technology handles two thirds of all credit card transactions and supports top 200 banks & 130 major stock exchanges. HP software makes calls possible for 100+ million mobile phone customers around the globe.

Part of what enables HP to operate so well as such a huge company is their focus on Total Customer Experience (TCE), which they define as the overall customer impression of HP based on perceptions and experiences with HP people, partners, products, services, etc at every touchpoint.

Loyalty enables growth. And when HP measures loyalty & customer service performance, they do it across every touchpoint in the lifecycle of the customer.

Bo simplified their approach to improving the TCE into three steps:

  • Execute fundamentals – improve processes and products
  • Make it easy – better understand your customer and competitive differentiators
  • Transform customer relationships - to be proactive – reinvent the experience

Bo is a big believer in Joe Pine’s Progression of economic value.

It’s a scale that explains the relative value of what you provide as a business. As you move up the scale, the customer receives and perceives higher value (and is usually willing to pay more money). Bo used a phenomenal example of how you might purchase cake for someone’s birthday.

  1. At the Commodities level, you’re willing to buy eggs, milk, flour, and sugar to bake a cake.
  2. At the Goods level, you’ll purchase a cake mix for because it’s a little easier on you.
  3. At the Service level, you’ll go for the pre-baked bakery cake for the total convenience.
  4. But at the Experience level, you’ll suddenly spend a lot more for a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese.

Bo defines an experience as a “distinct economic offering that people are willing to pay for.” To move up the progression, you customize the lower levels. As you customize something, the lower or existing level of that something often becomes a commodity. Loyalty and growth are becoming more a function of “the overall experience”

To help accelerate the creation of meaningful experiences, HP has designed a methodology they call the IMPACT Model:

  • Identify experiences that matter
  • Make it uniquely personal
  • Process, technology, people to add value
  • Add architecture
  • Create inspiration and incentive
  • Test the experience

One of the most fun parts of the model is you have to come up with a theme for the experience that everyone agrees on, and it’s not always easy. Once you get that theme, every thing you do from that point on has to support that theme.

IMPACT addresses:

  • Functional needs: help me accomplish a task
  • Emotional needs: help me feel deeply about what I do
  • Social needs: help me build relationships with others

Bo’s final tips for making sure you’re prepared for a more customer-centric world:

  • You can’t become world-class if you don’t take your strengths to world-class levels.
  • Don’t ask a customer what you should already know. Make sure your processes for listening to your customers keep up.
  • Tie customer service to growth and profitability. Don’t lose the opportunity to do something really impactful because you didn’t make business case for it.

NACCM 2009: The Little Things Are the Biggest Things

“Oh no you didn’t!” Have you said this to yourself after having an unbelievably disrespectful or frustrating experience on a customer service call? Emily Yellin, author of Your Call is (Not That) Important to Us, shared with us that we should focus on the little things that have the biggest impact on service.

Yellin is a Journalist who has traveled the globe covering 4 continents to talk to CEOs and customer service experts. What drew her into the customer service conversation was that she sat on hold for what seemed forever on a customer service call with a home warranty company. Not happy with the experience, she decided to investigate why customer service folks keep missing the mark.

Yellin reports that Americans make 43 million customer service calls a year. About 70% of businesses use call centers today as the main way to interact with customers. In studying the call center industry, she uncovered several things they are doing right and several things that can be improved. Yellin states that “this is a time in customer service that is really exciting”.



She talked about an experience she had with a call center employee by the name of “Pablo”. After several frustrating attempts to get a product delivered, she was ultimately able to speak to Pablo who was able to take care of the problem. Pablo worked as a supervisor for a call center in South America. She contacted the company and arranged a visit where she met with management. And there sitting at the end of the table was Pablo. He told Yellin he had never met a customer before.

Her research led her to discover three themes that companies who have “got it right” have been following. These are:

1) Design for it
2) Follow through
3) Provide value

Design of a customer service system is important. Getting feedback from front liners can be critical to creating good customer service systems. Putting yourself in your customers “shoes” or observing your customers as they experience your service are some of the best ways to evaluate your design.

Follow-through will make or break the perception of your service experience. In her research, she discovered that what call center employees say and what customers interpret are often two different things. For example, when a call center employee says “I’m not authorized to do that”, it really means “I’m not going to help you” to the customer.

Yellin suggests we watch the words we use to describe our roles. For her, Customer Relationship Management has a negative connotation. She doesn’t want to be managed. Words are an agreement between us, she says. Be sure you are speaking your customers’ language.

One thing the customer wants to hear from you is “Yes”. Anything you do to get in the way of “yes” is a problem. She identified typical call center mistakes:

1) No information
2) They don’t have authority
3) They don’t care

The final theme is that successful companies provide value. We cannot lose our humanity, says Yellin. It starts from the top down. When you’ve had your very worst experience, what emotions did you feel? asks Yellin. Feelings include frustration, disappointment, and anger which spread easily. According to a Customer Rage study, 70% of angry customers felt rage, 28% raised their voices to an employee, 8% cursed, and 57% of customers took their business elsewhere.

The opposite feeling is when the experience is good. “Shouldn’t that be our goal?” asks Yellin. Let’s spread the good and create those good feelings. Minor indignities are the seeds to horrible things says Yellin. When we talk about the carbon footprint, we refer to the little things we can do to make our earth better. Yellin suggests that those of us in customer service should be encouraged to make a “karma” footprint. What does your service footprint say about you?

Millennial Moms -- The Most Connected and Tech-Toy Dependent Population

According to a free whitepaper by Mr. Youth, Millennial Moms, those born between 1977 and 1996, are quickly becoming the biggest users of the online space. The report documents this segment of the population's ability to multi-task, utilize multiple devices and over share on popular social networks. Another interesting point is that this generation utilizes communities, or even creates communities when they are dealing with important life changes.

We can see this with the gads of "Mommy Bloggers," who cover everything from child-rearing to household finance.

We encourage you to check out this whitepaper and to think about how you can connect and share with this population.

NACCM 2009: Saving Customer Ryan: The Power of Emotional Brand Equity

Saving Customer Ryan: The Power of Emotional Brand Equity
Dan Hill, Author, Emotionomics

Dan decided to figure out how to bring emotions into business. Brain science breakthroughs have changed and we have always been, “I feel, therefore I am.” And this is now shown through brain science. We are Homer Simpson, we think and act with our emotions.

We have a 3-part brain. Sensory, emotional, rational brain. We are sensory and emotional decision makers. Loyalty is a feeling.

How do we judge what people think compared to:
Facial expressions – 55%
Tone of Voice – 38%
Words Being said – 7%

Pitch, rate, range, articulation can give you a sense of how people are feeling over the phone. A person who is born blind has the same emotions as someone who is not. There is a part of the brain devoted to reading people faces, and it’s 8x as powerful as the one which reads objects.

In a commercial for Best Buy, eye tracking goes to the face of a person for females. Everyone is looking at faces, and the logos are in the background, but that’s the story. People Magazine will always survive because of the fact that they can continue showing the faces.

Facial Coding: It’s universal. It’s worldwide, culture through. The face is the only place in the body where the muscles attach to the skin. Dan Hill has shared his views on televistion and judged facial expressions of individuals involved with presidential races, on ESPN and ARod, when playing poker.

Our core emotions are happiness, surprise, anger, disgust, contempt, Sadness, fear, and deceit. We have two smiles, which are the true smile and tbe social smile.

Gauge personality properly by using the Big 5: Extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, openness, neuroticism

Openness – exploratory and not afraid
Conscientiousness- detail oriented, responsible
Extroverted – Aggressive, friendly, funny,
Agreeableness – warmth, kindness
Neuroticism – adaptability, equanimity, maturity

When you’re in a short meeting, you can only pick up on conscientiousness and neuroticism.

Summary:
1)Hire and train the right people. We all read other peoples faces.
2) Better survey question.
Like: What makes you stay with us? Or What do we do to help you the most?
3) Customer service as offer, it should nto be the afterthought. It’s huge and the heart and center of business.

If you can create a sensory service with customer service, you can then leverage your relationships.

Make customer service a good romantic dance, continually court them show them the equity of your brand.

NACCM 2009: Innovating the Service Experience on a Dime: Overcoming Resource Limitations by Taking a Differentiated Approach

Experience and service are two different aspects of our businesses. We can’t create experiences, they happen based on multiple variables. Experiences are co-created says Ryan Armbruster, recent SVP, Chief Experience Officer for Oncure. The best we can do is to deliver great service, and Armbruster believes that should be our focus.

Oncure Medical Corp. is a nationwide network of free-standing radiation oncology centers. The CEO of Oncure was himself a cancer survivor and had first-hand knowledge of the challenges facing cancer patients. Oncure wanted to improve their services and began conducting research at their clinics. They included focus groups, staff interviews, and patient input. They knew they had to look at their cancer patients’ experiences and needs from both inside and outside the walls of their treatment centers.

Where do businesses start in creating a new value-laden service? Armbruster states that businesses typically follow one of the following approaches:

1) Use personal business experience
2) Borrow solutions from other companies in industries
3) Borrow solutions from companies in other industries
4) Use personal experience as a customer
5) Ask customers what they want
6) Understand unmet needs of your customers

There is a definite challenge with the fifth approach, says Armbruster, as it doesn’t always lead to innovation. He quoted Henry Ford to illustrate the concept of customer wants. “If I asked my customers what they wanted, I would have built faster horses” said Ford. If your job is to change context, you can’t have your customers tell you how says Armbruster.

Oncure designed a method to help them develop their services. The first step is to identify the spectrum of customers needs. The second step is to design and optimize services around HIGH VALUE needs. He identified three methods used to identify unmet customer needs:

1) Explicit – asking the customers what they need
2) Tacit – observing and gathering information by getting out and spending time with customers
3) Latent - uncovering needs that customers have that they don’t even know they have

The secret to competitive differentiation says Armbruster is the ability to
“connect with your customers at a deeper level than the competition”.

He discussed five ways to make these deeper connections. They included:

1) Going beyond asking customers
2) Discovering service prototyping with your customers – get them involved
3) Engaging employees in the process and have them part of the design
4) Encouraging business analysis early in the process
5) Committing to it even if you have only a dime to invest

Keeping your focus on improving your services is an important goal. It all begins with knowing the deep needs of your customers from their perspective. Ryan Armbruster can be contacted at Ryan.Armbruster@gmail.com.

NACCM 2009: From Emotion to Devotion: Wiring the Experience with Humanity to Drive Loyalty. Planes and People Making LUV Connections

We’ve all heard it said that we should put our customers first. Southwest Airlines doesn’t think so. Their philosophy is to put employees first. In fact, the company believes that happy employees = happy customers = happy shareholders, says Teresa Laraba, Vice President of Ground Operations for Southwest Airlines.

Southwest began in 1971 with 3 aircrafts serving 3 cities. Today, under the leadership of CEO Gary Kelly, it is one of the nation’s largest domestic airlines in terms of daily departures and customers carried. They have the safest record, best on-time performance, consistently low fares and the best flight schedules, reports Laraba.

The secret of their success is in the fact that they hire the best front liners. They hire based on attitude and look for people who “live the Southwest way” says Laraba. It takes a servant’s heart willing to follow the Golden Rule, a warrior spirit to do what it takes, and a fun loving attitude that encourages employees to take the work seriously, but not themselves. Needless to say, Southwest experiences high employee retention. Laraba herself has been with Southwest for 25 years.



Empowering employees to do the right thing is key says Laraba. They do this by having employees follow these principles:

Guidelines rather than rules
Golden Rule overrides what few rules we have
Lean toward the Customer and you’ll never get in trouble
Our employees take pride in finding solutions

Southwest has an entire department, Internal Customer Care, responsible for recognizing employee birthdays and anniversaries and giving gifts and care packages. They believe in treating each other like family and being there for their employees in good times and tough times.

What do they get by investing in their employees? Their customers see the difference. This is brought home in a quote from President Emeritus Colleen Barrett, “We are in the Customer Service Business. We just happen to fly airplanes.”

Southwest understands the power of saying “we’re sorry”. A Customer Communication department focuses on contacting customers within 72 hours of an issue and apologizes when Southwest does something wrong. They create customer evangelists by going above and beyond, doing whatever it takes, with proactive communication. They choose to make regular deposits in the “Goodwill Bank” says Laraba.

Southwest’s influence goes beyond the airport and into the community. Employees are encouraged to embrace causes and they do. For example, Southwest has raised approximately $11 million dollars for Ronald McDonald House.

The company is always looking for ways to improve the customer experience. Some of these improvements have included self-service kiosks, online and mobile check-in, power stations, redesigned gate areas, wireless access, and cashless cabins.

Southwest Airlines is a true example of leadership in action with an unwavering commitment to employees. This commitment has fueled their success and will continue to put them on the map as a company to model.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

NACCM 2009 LIVE: Designing and Developing Performance-Support Learning Programs

Understanding the difference between training and learning is absolutely critical to developing Performance-Support Learning Programs, according to Kathleen Peterson, Chief Vision Officer, Powerhouse Consulting.

Kathleen opened her session with a funny song about the solution to all call center woes is to add “more staffing on the line.” Of course, more staffing is not the answer. More educated staff is likely a better solution.

But be careful not to educate your people the wrong way. If you “train” them, you’re focusing on instruction that is basically trainer focused. A better way is to focus on “learning.” Training is education and instruction. Learning is the act of acquiring knowledge, and it’s focused on the learner.

Another way to put it: Training is an event…learning lasts forever.

Kathleen encourages us to adopt an “ask and tell” training philosophy. The trainer should always be the person asking the questions of the learner. It forces the learner into a situation where they recognize what the learning is doing for them…and how it will apply to their interactions with their customers.

In a performance-support model:

  • Training represents knowledge, skills, and feelings needed to perform critical and complex tasks.
  • Training is part of a much bigger picture.
  • Training does not teach everything – it helps learners become independent, efficient workers.
  • Transactions are taught around real-life job situations.
  • The training teaches the tools that support learners on the job.

When people dread training, it’s usually partly because it’s not performance-based. Nobody likes to be told what to do. They’d much rather be taught how to do their job well.

Performance-support training all boils down to three simple questions

1. What do they need to know?

  • Products
  • Policies
  • Procedures
  • Exceptions
  • Where to look for needed information

2. What do they need to do?

  • What actions do they need to take to do their job?
3. What do they need to feel? And make other people feel?

  • Empathy
  • Enthusiasm
  • Positivity
  • Empowerment
  • Appreciated
  • Connected

An effective training program should always be guided by several elements:

  • Customer experience
  • Company mission
  • Business Goals
  • Brand Elements
  • Values Proposition

Kathleen was passionate about following the proper methodology when designing a training program. The great thing about following proper methodology is that it can fit any program, course, or module and ensure the right kind of training every time. But the most important steps in the process are to always make sure you properly analyze needs and spend time designing training. If you don’t do these first two steps, the best delivery in the world won’t save your training program.

Want to make sure your training is fully supported and absolutely effective? Kathleen suggests creating a multi-disciplinary design team with representatives from any area of your business that might be affected by the training or have important insight into what the program should look like.

NACCM 2009 LIVE: Frugality is Reality! Management Imperatives for Leading on a Limited Budget

John McQuaig loves call centers. He’s been working in and around call centers for twenty years. While many call centers deal with selling products or fixing problems, John’s call center has a much more sensitive purpose. John is the Executive Director in charge of the call centers for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital

70% of money that St. Jude’s raises comes from people on the street, and much of that flows through the call centers, so they have to do what they do really, really well.

To say St. Jude’s is frugal might be an understatement. Apparently, there’s a joke about St. Jude’s being so money conscious they pick up paperclips off the floor. Actually, John claims that’s no joke.

Years like this are difficult for the organization, just like it has been for many others. When middle America has a hard time, St. Jude has a hard time as well.

You might think the mission at St. Jude is enough to motivate people. After all, saving and improving the quality of children’s health is a pretty motivating mission. As noble as it is, according to John, people are people and they need other forms of motivation besides a noble mission.

So what can you do to motivate your employees to do their best, besides throwing money at them?

John shared four things to strive to do well. If you do these right, you’ll never be able to fail to keep your people engaged:

Clarity (vision, mission, strategic direction)

  • Show them the road
  • Help them navigate the road
  • Show them where they personally have an impact

Competency (tools)

  • Give them the tools to make that successful journey
  • Remove obstacles along the way
  • Update frequently on the challenges and progress
Influence/Ownership (teamwork)

  • Allow them to be a part of the decision making process
  • Make way for open book management (bringing people in at all levels and sharing unfiltered information about what’s happening)
  • Communication in every direction
  • Allow them to feel the wheel
  • Allow talent and passion to accelerate
  • Allow everyone the opportunity to become a stakeholder
Appreciation (self esteem)

  • Motivational messages
  • Promote individual and team accomplishments
  • Know your people (annual reviews)
  • Inspire
  • Advertise the good times
John believes one of the big things leaders need to do more of is “ask.” Leaders need to ask: “What can I be doing better for you?” to their employees. If you ask sincerely, you’ll find out how to effectively support your people to be their best.

NACCM 2009 LIVE: Global Culture Transformation; Changing The Behavior of Leaders at Levels

You’ve got to love somebody who calls themselves a “quality geek” like Gloria Roberts does. She’s the Staff Vice President of Service Experience at FedEx Corporation. Having a quality geek in charge of the service experience is definitely a good move.

Gloria stated her most important point right up front: Customer centricity is about aptitude, attitude, and action.

It’s imperative for a company founded on a quality promise (“Absolutely, Positively”) to create a culture of service. But, FedEx is not one company. It’s actually four operating companies servicing over 220 countries/territories.

Can you imagine trying to effectively communicate how to deliver their infamous “Purple Promise” to make every customer’s experience outstanding to 275,000 employees worldwide? That’s exactly what they do.

All companies must compete on price or experience. Customer experience is the superior way to compete. It results in higher overall value and a lasting competitive advantage. When you focus on experience, price may still be important, but falls to a secondary consideration.

For FedEx, the rallying point is the quality of their service. They have to make sure the service to the customer, at every touchpoint, is more than the customer expects.

Drivers of Customer Loyalty for FedEx include:

  • Customer perceptions of the brand
  • Overall customer experience
  • Value for the price

To make sure they can deliver, FedEx makes tremendous efforts to:

  • Gather information to know what their customers expectations are.
  • Focus on performance every single day.
  • Make sure the employees are engaged and the customer’s interaction is superior.
  • Measure, measure, measure the quality of everything!

Quality at FedEx:

  • is a shared call to action.
  • is shared understanding of “best”.
  • is a fact-driven philosophy for decision making.
  • involves a common process improvement methodology.
  • is an integral component of Customer Loyalty and Operational Excellence Strategies.

In fact, quality is so important FedEx says, “Quality management is not a thing we do, it’s the way we do things.”

To communicate FedEx’s QDM (Quality Driven Management) plan, Gloria’s team created a multi-phase approach that included building awareness and alignment, preparing leadership to lead, and finally deploying, implementing, and ensuring the longevity of the plan.

One of the communication vehicles they created was a high-quality video that was shared with the entire company several times. The video was 6 minutes: that’s all the time they have at the beginning of each shift for their “management” meetings. They normally squeeze 15 topics into those meetings, but they focused on the video instead in order to get a consistent message across to the entire company.

One memorable line from the video stated that a1% increase in loyalty results in $100 million in revenue for the company. That’s a pretty staggering statistic to convey the impact of increasing customer loyalty.

The initiative strives to communicate three themes to employees: Customers, Excellence, and We are One FedEx.

So, how did they get 275,000 people to learn the same thing?

They focused on making “local” stories “global”

They employed omprehensive, consistent messaging

They built on existing learning and competency base

They created a learning approach employable across target audiences

They used a “non-traditional”, multi-media learning platform

They incorporated it into their business plan

One key element to speed up the adoption of QDM was to get key influencers on board early in the process, effectively creating influential cheerleaders of the program. These influencers were giving a "sneak preview" of the program before they rolled it out to the company at large. And FedEx realized that influencers are not necessarily the people at the top. These hand-picked people came from all levels throughout the company.

NACCM 2009: I Want To Tweet You Up

I Want To Tweet You Up: What Emerging Customer Trends Mean for Your Business
Michael Tchong, Trend Analyst & Founder, Ubercool

We should begin by discriminating trends from fads. Trends are consumer value changes. The best way to predict consumer behavior

Ubertrend – major movement, pattern or wave, emerging in the consumer lifestyle

Digital lifestyle – marriage between man and machine
The Compression – the acceleration of life
Unwired – The unhooked generation

Captin Sully’s situation reporting coverage was changed by Twitter. The first image was from Janis Krums from Sarasota, Florida from an iPhone. Comedians are the ones who best observe trends. The youths are on the front of this trend. The majority of Twitter users are abroad. Twendz lets you see Twitter trends as they are cascading down. Michael Tchong said Twitter will make or break swine flu.

Multitasking too much makes it harder for humans to remember things. The Wii now responds people to rehabilitate faster. Have you gone to “Wii”hab yet?

Tchong looks to microwaves for introducing Americans to instant gratification. Our state of mind has become a state of time. Culture has created a fast society, because we have a fear of being left behind.

Everyone is looking for innovation. In 1999, 95% of people stated that they wanted to be a leader. This is up from 37% in 1991.



We’re all facing the GPS Generation. We can get anywhere like a native, and leaving maps behind. Same can be said for speed dial and remembering phone numbers. Sit or Squat to find the restroom.

Time Compression. Food, photos, instant energy, etc. We are all trigger happy. Epic fail – Frequently used term in the video game community that means you really messed up and/or something/someone is an utter failure. This is video game culture seeping into life.

Digital lifestyle: We’ve gotten an unknown president into office. Twilight and New Moon made a mom from Phoenix a multimillionaire.

Download free Uberternds map at ubercool.com.

NACCM 2009: Achieving Critical Clarity: How Improving the Customer Experience Increases Customer Understanding, Persistency and Participation

It’s no wonder that Cigna just won the Gartner Gold Award for Customer Strategy and Customer Experience Excellence. Ingrid Lindberg, Customer Experience Officer with Cigna, shared with us the strategies that they implemented to get them where they are today.

Four years ago, Cigna’s CEO took the company in a new direction to make the health care business more user-friendly and to build trust. Cigna found that when people were asked to rate things that they trusted, they would rarely answer “my health plan”. They determined that when the customer experience is confusing and there is a lack of trust, they miss opportunities to improve health.

In asking for feedback about the health care experience, Lindberg received the following customer information:

77% were unsure what terminology in their health plan policy really means
50% didn’t know how much they pay each month
85% did not understand key health care terms
85% don’t participate in available wellness programs
82% don’t compare hospital qualifications before choosing
45% don’t receive timely, appropriate care

Cigna took this information and arrived at two driving principles for their health care experience: 1) that every interaction must be helpful, and 2) every interaction must be easy. With these principles in mind, they got into action with the following in mind:

1) Analyze every individual touch point
2) Change terminology to get rid of insurance-ease
3) Ban “alphabet-soup” talk - EOB, PCP, EPO
4) Eliminate nuisance mail – get what you need when you need it
5) Eliminate what frustrates – if you want a person, you get a person
6) Explore possibilities, not limitations to improve health



As a result, they created new terminology. They asked university students to look at a list of confusing terminology and redesign new words that worked. For example, instead of using the word “subscriber”, they changed to “the person who has the benefits from the employer”, and the words “member liability” was changed to “the amount you need to pay”.

They made changes to their Enrollment Guide by making them more user friendly and allowing the customer to choose the right plan. When they found that 52% of customers are visual learners, they added a checklist for people to follow.

Changes were also made for their new quotes for treatment that included an estimator that allows you to see what you will pay, comparison of treatment costs, all in plain language.

Redesigning their explanation of benefits also paid off. They were able to provide a summary of care charges, put key financial data on the front page, and shared with customers how much they saved based on the plan they chose.

They also made an improvement in their employee engagement as a result of some of these changes. In looking at the needs of the customer, they found that they wanted phone support 24/7. When they presented this concept to employees on a volunteer basis, they welcomed the change. It has allowed Cigna to better serve their customers, reduced workload for their employees, and increased employee retention by double.

Achieving success was a result of analyzing each customer touch point – words, forms, processes, etc., says Lindberg. Cigna is now setting the industry standard for the customer experience.