There are no silos in The Guest Experience

“Obsess About Your Customers, Not Competitors” by Lior Arussy (DestinationCRM.com, August 2011). I hate to say, “I told you so,” but I told you so. Just check the AU Success Realized page and you’ll see it in black & white, literally.

That said, it’s not rocket science—just stop for a moment and think about how you think. Do you differentiate one brand experience from the next? Not usually, right? Bad service is bad service and great service is great service. Keep in mind that there is always a brand on your tier (or lower) that is willing to raise the bar. If that brand isn’t you then you will forever be playing catch up. If Guests don’t care about silos they certainly don’t want to hear excuses either.

Again, think about it. You’ve done it yourself. You’ve taken a lower tier brand experience and applied it up a level or two. Your competition isn’t just to your left and right, it’s behind you too. When was the last time you looked behind you? As for inspiration…it’s right in front of you. It’s every time you leave the house.

There are two essential bits that I want to pull from Loir’s article:

“Naturally, those experiences shape his expectations. This person’s definition of a great experience is influenced largely by the vendors that serve him. Welcome to your new competitors—the best-of-the-world companies that are obsessed with customers, not competitors.”

“Don’t let industry thinking be an excuse for inferior customer experience. The ultimate competitive advantage will not be achieved by making product-to-product comparisons or catching up to the next vendor. Rather, a true edge will be achieved when customers are standing in line to purchase from you.

Indeed, customers will vote with their wallets. So it is time to immerse yourself in their world. Measure yourself against the best vendors in the world serving your customers. Ask yourself this: When my customer has been asked to spend $10,000, how has he been treated by the vendor?”

Thanks Lior. Thanks for further validating the Alchemy United state of mind.

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Be BI smart and respond (but that includes proactive listening too)

The journey of this post starts here: “Business Intelligence Meets BPM: Using Data to Change Business Processes on the Fly” by Kim S. Nash (CIO.com, 17 June 2010). On one hand this is fascinating stuff — collecting data, analyzing it and distilling information that objectively drives business action. The business side of my brain goes, “Wow!” But then reality sets in and that, “Wow” turns to, “Wow, scary.” This freight takes two forms:

1) The private person in me shutters to think that Big Brother is not only watching but he’s storing, tracking, cross referencing and analyzing too. This is taking place at and unimaginable level of granularity.

2) The business side of my brain also appreciates the fact that Guests are people. They are not just data points on a graph or cells in a spreadsheet. Analysis is certainly essential but one would bet there are plenty of companies over-valuing this new found power. They are forgetting that they are in business to serve people, not just respond to ones and zeros. As a matter of fact, read this article first: “Superhighway to Hell” by Stephen Saunders (InformationWeek.com via InternetEvolution.com, 19 June 2010).

Back to the first article by Kim Nash. There are some bits to this article (pull out of the context of the whole article) that beg to be addressed AU style:

As Kilcoyne and Coyne learned, modern business intelligence and analytics tools can extract data from enterprise software, populate pre-built statistical models and quickly produce insights that used to take weeks. “In the past, doing predictive analytics needed a PhD in statistics to build a model and interpret results,” says Aberdeen’s White. But newer analytics tools “hide the underlying statistical nerd details,” he says. “Business people don’t have to worry about how the sausage gets made.”

One word: Derivatives. No one needed to understand those either, correct? Information is only as good as the understanding the business people have of the data that was used to compile it. A report without caveats and context is no report at all. If BI is about removing assumption then that thoroughness should be part of the end to end approach.

Key to game-changing decision making is the ability to detect and respond to market changes, taking into account historical knowledge. DirecTV uses analytics to save customers who want to cancel their television service. The company started the program two years ago when it sought to cut churn rates.

What’s interesting is that the examples sited are all reactive. There is some action and then analysis is used to define the appropriate way to respond. Maybe this should be supplemented with a proactive approach as well? That is, avoid upfront engaging customers who don’t meet the good customer profile. For example, for a fitness club, membership retention would be less of an issue if the right customers were attracted in the first place. Waiting to see who leaves seems archaic, no?

How hard agents press depends on how valuable the customer has been to DirecTV, Gustafson says. “There are some people we just do not want to lose.” About 60 percent of customers who want to depart are deemed worth trying to save, he says. The company uses tools from Teradata and SAS to analyze past behavior, evaluating data such as the average annual revenue the customer represents, her payment history and how many pay-per-view shows she buys.

This is a perfect example of forgetting that we’re dealing with real people here. Maybe I am a marginal customer. But if I have 500 Facebook friends and 1,000 Twitter follows then that should be a factor too. To simply place a value on an account (notice I did not say guest or customer) is at best dangerous if the evaluation is this superficial.

Every customer saved is one less customer the company has to try to win back weeks or months later—an expensive process, Gustafson says, that can involve mailings, e-mail and telephone calls as well as sending someone out to reinstall the service. “When the customer first calls, they have a certain mind-set: They want to cancel,” he says. “When we call back, they’re unprepared. It’s a little psychological advantage we have.”

Oh no he didn’t! Forgive me if this sounds insulting but only an idiot would go on record saying such a thing. But again, Mr. Gustafson’s statement is another example of forgetting that guests are real people, not rats to be manipulated.

Now, though, the My Coke Rewards program has helped the company develop more in-depth knowledge about loyal customers. The inside of every bottle cap is printed with a 12-digit code that customers can text or type into a website or desktop widget to accumulate points that can be exchanged for prizes and other awards. Those who opt in to e-mail marketing receive regular offers to gain more points, as well as other marketing pitches. Each is customized based on segments created from demographic information and behavior collected by the site. On average, 285,000 customers visit per day, entering an average of seven codes per second. Information embedded in the codes may include a region or location where the bottle was sold and whether it had special packaging, such as an Olympics logo, that Coca-Cola uses to tailor its pitches.

Read that again… It’s not a 12 digit number, it’s a code. In other words, you can’t drink a soda in peace without wondering when and how Coca-Cola is going to watch you. Scary, right?

After four years, My Coke Rewards is among the longest-running marketing programs in Coca-Cola’s history. And as the program has grown, the company has changed the way it runs in response to insight from analytics, Rollins says.

First, of all the programs Coke has ever had four years constitutes “among the longest-running”? MyGawd, has their marketing department been thinking or just rolling the dice and hoping to find something that sticks. Must be nice to have that type of budget. Furthermore, this reads as if they are responding to analysis, not guests. Not good.

Coca-Cola uses the FICO Precision Marketing Manager suite of statistical analysis tools to study data from its websites. Marketers look at which come-ons elicit the most and best responses, says Thomas Stubbs, Coca-Cola’s interactive marketing director in global IT. Coca-Cola also exchanges data with companies that supply prizes, including Nascar, Nike (NKE) and Sony. “As technology has evolved, we’re able to do more and have a relevant dialog with customers, not just push our ideas out there,” he says.

“A man might not want to admit that he’s a Diet Coke drinker. He will say in a survey that he prefers Coke. But we see he enters only Diet Coke PINs and market accordingly.”

Danger Will Robinson! While it’s true that Coca-Cola might want to know more about who consumes their products, Coke is treading on thin ice if they believe that their definition of the guest is better than the guest’s himself/herself. Do such details constitute useful information? Yes, of course. Might they also be making over-confident decision, and possibly insulting the guest? Yes, that’s very true too.

The idea is not just to save business but to create new business. Successful projects spark new ones. Analytics tools help companies create more money-generating interactions with customers and shave costs from internal operations. CIOs should connect analytics technologies with ideas about refining business processes, says Aberdeen’s White. “Meld them together and that’s very powerful.”

Bottom line… it’s about The Guests, not data and analysis. This shouldn’t be about “refining business process” but about improving The Guest Experience. Same ends? Maybe (but probably not). Different means? Yes, very different means. One puts The Guest first and one does not. If you could analyze the two approaches which would you bet to be the winner? Of the companies you deal with which try to improve The Guest Experience and which are more concerned about their processes and their bottom line?

And finally, to help get it all back into perspective: “It’s Not Your Relationship to Manage” by Lauren McKay (CRM Magazine via DestinationCRM.com, May 2010).

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Understanding a non-profit and loss statement

“Helping Hands” by Jessica Tsai (CRM Magazine, February 2010). It’s not easy being a 501(c)3, aka non-profit. By their very nature the measuring stick that the rest of the world use to define success has been removed. Therefore, the challenge is to define what cause’s  success will look like and communicating that to the public/target. Easier said than done, eh?

On the other hand there are a fair number of best practices, free tools and other reasonably priced resources that readily available yet too often ignored. So maybe the issue isn’t so much profit vs. non, but must adapt vs. adapting isn’t so important when all that’s needed is another grant and some more volunteers?

But does it have to be that way? From the outside (i.e., guests) looking in (at the brand) is there really a difference in perception and expectations? In  saying, “But we’re different…” are non-profits actually doing themselves a disservice? Does the fear of competing create an organizational environment that is unable to compete?

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I think I think I can

“Interview: Jonah Lehrer – Indecisions, Indecisions, Indecisions” by Joshua Weinberger and Jessica Tsai (CRM Magazine, February 2010). Lehrer’s latest book, “How We Decide” explores the more scientific side of decision making (read: making purchases). It seems that we are probably a bit more complex than most sales and marketing formulas give use credit for. That said, there are a couple bits here that good/better marketers should be aware of. It read quick so do give it a go.

And now for the customary pull quote to whet your appetite:

CRM: So—the less the rational distinction between products, the more emotional the marketing has to become?

Lehrer: Yeah, that’s exactly right. The less qualitative difference there is between the actual products, between you and your competition, the more important it becomes to turn the brand into this emotionally resonant thing. It’s all about what neuroscience calls predictive utility—how much pleasure we expect it to give us versus what it actually gives us turns out to be profoundly important.

Sounds tasty, right? Ok then, now dig in.

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Be careful what you wish to measure for

“Mistaken Metrics” by Lauren McKay (CRM Magazine, October 2009). Please pardon the delay in getting to this one but it has finally bubbled to the top of the to-do pile (on a Saturday morning no less). It is also not exactly lite reading for a weekend but it’s certainly not rocket science either. Grab a coffee and let’s go!

In short, the twin sibling of, “Be careful what you wish for” is, “Be careful what you measure (and what decisions you make based on that data/information.” As we all know, numbers and statistics can be misleading especially when data is coming from multiple sources. Or worse yet, is the wrong measurement to begin with. The majority of the time there are caveats, or should be, because no info/date source is perfectly clean. Of course, there is also always the human element (read: bias) when collecting data and using it.  And finally, just because you can collect it faster doesn’t mean it’s right.

Yes, there has to be measurements but don’t be afraid to question their validity and value when applied to decision making. As Ms. McKay concludes:

No matter what you do or what you measure, you’re destined to pick the wrong yardstick at least once. The trick, experts say, is not to force yourself to live with the wrong measurement — the trick is recognizing when the measurement you’ve chosen is the wrong one and having the fortitude to step away from it.

In the same issue, as a side bar was also, “Your Metrics Are Outdated” by Lauren McKay. If you have to pick one, pick this one. The first article gives “Outdated” context but none the less is fairly freestanding if you are at least somewhat familiar with measurements and their impact on management decisions.

You have all weekend so try to consume both. It’s time to start lining up the ducks for 2010.

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Great relationships require trust

“The Cure for the Common Virus” by Jessica Tsai (DestinationCRM.com, October 2009). Wow! Yet another I-wish-I said-that article from Ms. Tsai — especially for those seeking to break their 20th century marketing habits.

It’s a holiday week so you’re either quite busy or slowed down to enjoy the moment. Either way let’s skip the usual intro and jump to some highlights.

Measuring the totality of viral’s impact is extremely difficult, if not impossible. After all, how do you measure emails forwarded from personal accounts? Or URLs copied-and-pasted into instant message windows? Or a remark passed over a fence? And yet, no one would argue that messages spread virally are extremely powerful. After all, consumers are far more likely to trust one another than any marketing pitch out there. (See “Who Do You Trust About Trust?,” and our interview with “Trust Agents” co-author—and 2009 CRM Influential Leader — Chris Brogan, in Required Reading.)

According to customer experience company Satmetrix, and codeveloper of the Net Promoter score (NPS), word-of-mouth recommendations by promoters are increasing year over year in all industries. The uphill trend is not due to an increase in viral marketing–specific campaigns, says Deborah Eastman, chief marketing officer; rather, the Internet and social media have ignited a sharing frenzy.

Customers don’t care if you want them to pass something along. Abandon the PR lingo and the corporate speak. No one wants to listen to it, let alone pass it on to their friends. “Share honest information,” says Tom Anderson, managing partner of Anderson Analytics. “What are you worried about—your competitors seeing it? Big deal. Everything’s instantaneous now.”

The bottom line is this… If you want to tap into the natural conversational energy of the crowd, then you have to give them something worthy of discussion.  But you also have to take that a step further and realize that worthy is defined by them, not by you. Traditional marketing’s one-way, dictate it and they will listen approach no longer applies. In fact, spin might only get you backlash.

We are by nature social beasts and that can certainly work to your advantage. Nothing beats word of mouth! But in order to win you must be honest and you must be authentic. Most of all, you must give them something truly worthy of their time. Because don’t you expect the same?

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Today’s word: relationships

“Developing Strong Work Relationships” by Kerry Patterson (BaselineMag.com, 13 November 2009).This one is as much about the who as it is about the what. “Kerry Patterson is the co-author of three best-sellers: Crucial Conversations, Crucial Confrontations and Influencer. He is also a speaker and consultant, and co-founder of VitalSmarts, which focuses on corporate training and organizational performance.” Influencer has been mentioned here before, and is recommended reading. The other two are on the hopefully sooner of later list. In the meantime these short article will have to fill the gap.

As is often the case, Kerry’s expertise doesn’t reinvent the wheel as much as it serves as another friendly reminder on how not to be that guy/gal. The bonus here is that once you invest the time to consume these tips/article at work, you’ll be able to take them home as well.

— If you want better relationships, never air your dirty laundry in public.

— If you want better relationships, seek face time with your colleagues.

— If you want better relationships, learn to listen and then speak respectfully when conversations become crucial.

Certainly not rocket science, eh? And while we’re on the subject of relationships, “Create Your Own Upturn (A shift from managing volume to managing relationships)” by David Rich (DestinationCRM.com, October 2009).

Relentless attention to getting the customer experience right will yield increased customer equity. When customers are satisfied, companies may reap opportunities to cross-sell products and services, adding to their bottom lines. If approached correctly, the customer experience can also aid the acquisition of new customers, as they determine where they’d like to purchase products and services.

Maybe not as easy to bring home to the wife and the kids but the idea of The Experience having to stick does seem to be universal. What do you think?

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Be careful what you wish to measure

“The Dangers of Bad Data” by Vik Torpunuri (CRM Magazine, 1 Oct 2009)

“You Are What You Measure” by Lior Arussy (CRM Magazine, 1 Oct 2009)

“Goals Gone Wild” by Stephanie Overby (CIO Magazine, 15 September 2009)

No one will deny that setting goals and measuring progress are important. What’s even more important is setting the right goals, using the right measurements to determine progress, making sure the data is accurate and complete, and then how those measurements are used to manage the initiative.

For example, Google’s AdWords preaches the value of Click Through Rate (CTR), as well as cost per click (CPC). While both are helpful and should be monitored, they are both in many instances the wrong measurement. The better measurement is conversations as well as what Google Analytics calls goals. In theory you can have a great CRT and CPC for one campaign, but another campaign can have a lower CTR and a higher CPC but lead to more or better conversions. It’s an issue of quality verse quantity.

It should be noted that Google only gets paid for clicks not for conversions. So much for “Don’t be evil”, eh? Also, the next time some SEM “expert” starts praising himself/herself about CTR and CPC ask them about their conversion rate. Ask them about the impact their efforts were able to make on the bottom line. CTR and CPC isn’t enough and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Success is much more holistic than that.

Another example, is a call center. We’ve all phoned an 800 number looking for help with an issue only to get bounced from rep to rep to rep. Guess what? In that call center lenght of call probably factors into a rep’s review. Should length of call be measured? Yes, it should be. Should it be used to alter behavior of the reps in such a way that it compromises the relationship with the guest? Probably not.

The bottom line is this… measurement is important. Just be careful that you’re doing it right. And always question numbers and graphs when they are presented to you. Never assume that the messenger is right and is telling you what you really need to know.

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Bees or flies? – Part 2

Time for a little bit of shameless self-promotion…

The original post dates back to June or so. This letter was printed in the September of issue of CRM Magazine (online: www.DestinationCRM.com). Unfortunately, CRM did not post the letters of the September issue on their web site. As you know, they have done so in the past. (Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.)

Beautiful article by Associate Editor Jessica Tsai (“Search Engineering”, July 2009, http://sn.im/0709tsai). Search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), and online marketing in general continue to be hot topics. The theory is, why chase customers when they can find you? Yes, when done right, it can work quite well.

Ms. Tsai does the subject matter justice, with a thorough (even fantasic) overview of SEO. There are a few things I’d like to add to her efforts, however, that I believe will help the CRM masses.

1) The design and user experience (UX) of the site itself is critical. While not part of SEO, per se, there is a very important connection: There’s no point in driving traffic to a visually unpleasing and/or dysfunctional web site. Guests will judge a book by its cover, and if they don’t like what they see or how it works they will bounce. In order to fully benefit from SEO (i.e., inviting guests over), we believe more companies should first focus on cleaning up the house.

2) The article focuses on the value of a web site “homepage”, but the current approach is that there is no such thing as a homepage anymore. Since search engines will drop a person into any page of a site, it’s not safe to assume the homepage will be the point of entry. The relationship can start anywhere, so plan accordingly.

3) One essential factor that’s too often overlooked — click fraud in paid search (PPC) — appears in one of the article’s sidebars (“Bad and Ugly SEO”): “Some reports indicate that one-third of clicks on paid search are fraudulent — the result of developers creating bots to click on competitions’ ads, raising those competitors’ costs.”

Even with Google’s much-vaunted AdWords/AdSense, some estimates put the click-fraud rate above 15 percent. Either figure represents a pretty significant amout of waste to not be aware of — especially for anyone new to pay-per-click advertising. Yes, search engines say they prevent it but the general belief is to the contrary.

So we’d like to add a caveat to the feature story: SEO/SEM is not a panacea. It will not make up for a visually dated web design or a marginal user experience. Nor will it fix a shaky business model, poor customer service, or a second-rate product or service. SEO/SEM is merely a way to attract customers.

Mark Simchock
Chief Alchemist
Alchemy United

Your vision . Our passion . Success realized

We feel honored to be validated (again) by another respected authority. This time it is CRM magazine.

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Change will never change

“Survival of the Relatively More Fit” by Denis Pombriant (CRM Magazine, Sept 2009). These are evolutionary times and not just for CRM.  Read it and reap.

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More building blocks

This is a follow up of moderate commitment (i.e., it’s not quick) to yesterday’s post on online communities / social networks. All of these were sourced from CRM Magazine (www.DestinationCRM.com), which always comes highly recommended.

“The 7 Benefits of Online Customer Service Communities” by Christopher Musico —A new Forrester Research report highlights the return on investment in social media communities.

“10 Steps to Social Media Success” by Lauren McKay — Internet Week ’09: Brand Exposure event shows companies how to join the conversation.

“Webinar: How Social Media is Transforming Customer Service and the Customer Experience” from Parature’s blog — Note: Free registration is required.

“Find Out How Businesses Are Leveraging Social Media” from AIM-Partners (via SageSpark.com) — Note: Free registration is required.

Grab a coffee and sip some more soc-net knowledge. Enjoy!

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Just one step at a time

“Simplementation: 10 Tips to Smooth Your CRM Initiative” by Lauren McKay (CRM Magazine, July 2009). Hold onto your mouse, we’re about to hit the highlights…

1. Do Your Homework — …the front end is about 30 to 45 days of fully understanding what the business needs are, what the strategy is, and what you want CRM to supplement. The technology piece is relatively simple from that point.

2. People Who Need People — Before even thinking about solutions, organizations must get down to basics, involve key stakeholders, and discuss pain points and objectives.

3. Let It Trickle — While it’s imperative that solutions and implementations deliver results in a very timely manner, a step-by-step implementation approach is prudent.

4. Think Outside the Box—Just Not Too Far Outside — So make sure that any customization is done within your organization’s known limits.

5. Don’t Be Seduced by Technology — Regardless of how new, hip, or innovative a technology may be, employees must be comfortable with it…

6. Find Sponsors That Stick — The sponsor doesn’t have to be the CEO, just someone who’s passionate about the undertaking.

7. Plan for Product Enrichment — Recognize that CRM really becomes nothing more than a Rolodex if you don’t put the add-ons to the product…

8. Audit, Audit, Audit — By paying close attention from the start, it will be possible to tweak the solution as any problems arise. Users, for example, may be approaching the tool differently than intended.

9. Pull the Plug When You Have To — It’s going to hurt a little—in some instances, maybe a lot—but if enough time has gone by and a solution has not worked, it might be time to call it quits.

10. Mind the Generation Gap — If the implemented CRM software doesn’t provide instant value, it’s likely those users will find solutions on their own that better suit their needs.

Ok, now dive in and consume the whole article.

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Bees or flies?

“Search Engineering” by Jessica Tsai (CRM Magazine, July 2009). Beautiful. The theory is, why chase customers when they can find you? Yes, when done right it can work quite well. Search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM) and online marketing in general continue to be hot topics. Ms. Tsai does the subject matter justice.

One essential factors that is too often “overlooked” comes in one of the article’s sidebars:

Bad and Ugly SEO
Click fraud in paid search. Some reports indicate that one-third of clicks on paid search are fraudulent—the result of developers creating bots to click on competitors’ ads, raising those competitors’ costs.

We’d also like to add an AU caveat. SEO / SEM is not a panacea. It will not make up for a visually dated web design or a marginal user experience (UX). Nor will it fix a shaky business model, poor customer service, or a second rate product / service. SEO / SEM is a way to attract customers. The question is — Is what your brand puts forward best suited for attracting bees or flys? If you need someone to be your trusted and objective mirror please give us a ring.

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The more things change, the more they stay the same

“The Psychology of the Sale” by Marshall Lager (CRM Magazine, May 2009).  No matter how you cut it, we are all in sales. Whether it’s getting someone to buy our product or service, or getting the kids to buy into the idea of cleaning up after themselves, it’s sales.  A sale is establishing a relationship and getting someone else to embrace your ideas.  This is a handy article end to end but this paragraph was worth pulling:

More than mere honesty and comprehensive product knowledge, it’s important to express what your product or service is really worth to the customer, Champy says—what it means to their lives and livelihoods. “Pricing is not it,” he says. “The value proposition is what brings them back.” Knowing why your offer is better—and especially why it’s different—is something every salesperson must communicate. “Zipcar is a highly compelling and attractive business because its value is shared ownership, not car rental,” Champy says. “It changes the frame of reference.”

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M is for Marketing. M is for Moses.

“The Boomer Boom” by Christopher Musico (CRM Magazine, November 2008) comes this handy sidebar that somehow missed getting posted. The article is on “boomers” but the concepts of these ten are sound for all and deserved to be repeated and relayed – even if it is six months later.

10 Marketer Commandments
When it comes to Boomers today, Matt Thornhill, co-author of Boomer Consumer, says there are 10 rules marketers must adhere to if they want to strike gold. “We haven’t found ourselves needing to change or modify any of these rules,” he says. “They’re not time-sensitive.”

1 – Treat everyone differently.
2 – Use emotionally meaningful concepts, words, and images.
3 – Be positive.
4 – Realize more information is better.
5 – Tell a story.
6 – Understand my changing values.
7 – Make it relevant to me.
8 – Play in the gray.
9 – Use life stage, not age.
10 – Learn, baby, learn.

Hopefully you too are sensing these these rules have valuebeyond just marketing.

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Service is in the eye of the beholder – Part 1

A quick follow up to the letter submitted to CRM Mag as inspired by “Self-Service Is Just Less-Than-Full Service” by Lior Arussy. Good news! The editors decided it was worthy of their print version, as well as posting it on their web site.  To read it please click here.

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Burger… medium rare… cheddar… bacon on the side…

CRM Magazine (www.DestinationCRM.com) posted another inspiring piece by Lior Arussy titled “Self-Service Is Just Less-Than-Full Service” (October 2008). Using the direct line we have to the big dogs at CRM Mag I plopped the email below on Josh Weinberger (Managing Editor).

Yes, another inspiring piece from Lior Arussy, thanks. From my perspective the right answer is a bit more grey than it is black & white. First, the customer should be provided with “functionality” that meets their expectations. Sometimes we like and want self-service and get annoyed when I get “please call” or “please email”. Other times, we want live chat or to make that call. It depends. But the decision should be mine. If I see “features” elsewhere, from what I perceive as similar vendors, then I expect the same. No excuses. Btw, someday I hope companies start to offer a text message option.

Second, the brand should deliver nothing short of what they promise. It doesn’t do any good to just say, “We’re high end” or ” We’re customer focused.” It’s a new era and the brand has to walk the walk too. The customer expects what we all expect – to get what we pay for. Ideally, a little more. I don’t think it’s a question of self vs full but simply of customer expectations and value. Unfortunately, and I’m sure Mr Arussy would agree, too many decisions are made by MBAs with spreadsheets.

I believe that the hospitality industry is actually the model for all others to follow. They don’t have customers, they have guests. A lesson in deed for the rest of it. The fact is, it doesn’t matter what you’re selling, if your brand looks at everyone as guests – and treats them as such – then the dog will wag the tail as it’s supposed to. Unfortunately, these’s no function for that in Excel.

Bottom line… Good service – self or otherwise – is when I don’t feel like I made a mistake for wanting a hamburger at 3:00am. Yes, it might be a slightly unreasonable request. I’m only suggesting that I not be made to feel wrong for making it. So ask yourself, “How
does my company treat my guests?”

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Service is in the eye of the beholder

“Self-Service Is Just Less-Than-Full Service” by Lior Arussy (CRM Magazine, Dec 2008, DestinationCRM.com). This article innspired this letter to Mr. Josh Weinberger & Co. over at CRM Mag:

Yes, another inspiring piece from Lior Arussy, thanks. From my perspective the right answer is a bit more grey than it is black & white. First, the customer should be provided with “functionality” that meets their expectations. Sometimes I like and want self-service and get annoyed when I get “please call” or “please email”. Other times, I want live chat or to make that call. It depends.  But the decision should be mine. If I see “features” elsewhere, from what I perceive as similar vendors, then I expect the same.  No excuses. Btw, someday I hope companies start to offer a text message option.

Second, the brand should deliver nothing short of what they promise. It doesn’t do any good to just say, “We’re high end” or ” We’re customer focused.” It’s a new era and the brand has to walk the walk too.  The customer  expects what we all expect – to get what we pay for. Ideally, a little more. I don’t think it’s a question of self vs full but simply of customer expectations and value. Unfortunately, and I’m sure Mr Arussy would agree, too many decisions are made by MBAs with spreadsheets.

I believe that the hospitality industry is actually the model for all others to follow. They don’t have customers, they have guests. A lesson in deed for the rest of it. The fact is, it doesn’t matter what you’re selling, if your brand looks at everyone as guests – and treats them as such – then the dog will wag the tail as it’s supposed to. Unfortunately, these’s no function for that in Excel.

Bottom line… Good service – self or otherwise – is when I don’t feel like I made a mistake for wanting a hamburger at 3:00am. Yes, it might be a slightly unreasonable request. I’m only suggesting that I not be made to feel wrong for making it. So ask yourself, how does my company treat my guests?

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From “Ah ha!” to “Oh no!”

“Evolution from Without” by Denis Pombriant (CRM Magazine, Sept 2008)

“Data: A Flashlight to Sales Innovation” by Lareina Yee, Tom Stephenson, Eric Kutcher (CRM Magazine, Sept 2008)

Get the ideas, and then figure out ways to see if they work.  But don’t stop there because yesterday’s “ah ha!” is tomorrow’s “oh no!”

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It’s The Excellence and The Guest Experience, Stupid! – Part 2

With regards to the previous post about my letter published in CRM Magazine, I forgot to mention a couple NY Times (www.NYTimes.com) articles that seem to help to answer my, “Why?” question. They are both by Janet Rae-Dupree.

“Bright Ideas: Innovative Minds Don’t Think Alike” (30 December 2007).

“Unboxed: If You’re Open To Growth, You Tend To Grow” (6 July 2008).

The original intention was to do a post on the “Unboxed” article but then bumped into the “Innovative” one as well.  Good stuff, right?
If you factor in the adage, “Birds of a feather flock together” into a hiring situation, an organization could very often take on the characteristics of those minding the hiring gate. Add in that the less adventurous (read: those not really open to growth) can be intimidated by those who embrace growth and eventually that stagnation can become a cancer that can cripple a company from the inside out. One bad apple might not spoil the whole bunch but over time it can fill the bowl with more bad apples.

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