Love? Magic? Crush? thoughts from Seth Godin

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A decade ago, I was walking through Union Square in New York. The farmer’s market was on, and the place was jammed with early adopters. Fortunately, I was wearing a Google shirt, a rarity at the time, a gift from a gig I had done for them.

Across the way, a woman shouted, “Google! Do you work for Google? I love Google! Google is my best friend…” as she waltzed through the crowd toward me.

How many brands get a reaction like that?

Let me posit for a moment that most people aren’t capable of loving a brand, not if we define love as a timeless, permanent state of emotion, connection and devotion. I do think, though, that people have crushes on brands all the time. And a crush can get a brand really far.

The first element of a crush is magic. When a product or service does something so unexpected, so inexplicable that we are in awe of what just happened, it feels magical. It might be the mystery of how a 1969 air-cooled Porsche made someone feel when being driven for the first (or hundredth) time. Or, more recently, it might be the surge that comes from connections found, the sort that Facebook used to deliver to new users all the time.

Read the rest here: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2013/08/magic-generosity-the-brand-crush.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+typepad%2Fsethsmainblog+%28Seth%27s+Blog%29

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Act Like an Owner by Jim Johnson

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Are you a manager or an owner? Let me rephrase that – are you acting like a manager or an owner? Even though you may not actually own your company, acting like you do is a powerful way to positively impact your company and the results you produce.

Innovate

Owners know they must innovate or soon they won’t be around. A company cannot rest on its laurels. Life moves too quickly and things are in a state of constant change. Owners know that, while tough at times, they must innovate to at least keep up let alone stay ahead of technology, people’s habits, etc. Owners ask, “what’s next?”

Hard Work

Owners simply work hard. It’s their business. If they don’t work, success doesn’t happen. They can’t sit around hoping someone else does something that might make a difference. Owners roll up their sleeves and get to it.

Problem Solving

If an issue arises, the owner knows he/she cannot ignore it. Problems need solving. A customer is usually at the other end of that problem. Solving problems leads to satisfied customers which leads to repeat business and referrals. Problem solving also leads to process improvement and newly found efficiencies.

Living Their Brand

Owners not only do the work, they live their brand. Whether in the office/shop, owners are what they are selling. They look at life through the lens of their business. They are ready to provide an answer, give some advice, ask a question, promote their business. They are good corporate citizens. They volunteer and are givers.

Protecting Their Brand

Owners are fiercely protective of their brand. It’s who they are. Their ears are tuned to other’s opinions – on the street, in the shop, on the web, and on social media. A damaged brand means loss revenue or worse.

Hire Great People

Owners can’t do it all. They know they must hire great people. Right people means people with shared passions, but not necessarily the same skills. Owners know they must hire others who are better than they are. They hire strengths where they are weak. They aren’t intimidated by this. They intentionally do this.

The Bottom Line

Owners know what generates revenue. They make sure that their team knows this, too. The work for results, plan for results, and they expect results. They strive to make processes more efficient. They look to eliminate waste. They know that they can’t hope for a better tomorrow – they are responsible and accountable for creating a better, more prosperous tomorrow.

So, are you acting like a manager or an owner? Your answer will make all the difference in your success.

Customer Service is No Longer a Script; It’s a Conversation

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by Tricia Morris

According to a recent Ovum study of more than 8,000 consumers, 74% now use at least three channels when interacting with an enterprise for customer related issues – and this stepping stone approach to resolution is forever changing the way service and support agents communicate with customers.

For many brands, customer support scripts have been a long-time staple for standardizing the service process and ensuring predictable outcomes in customer interactions. But no more, as customer movement across multiple channels requires brands to literally carry on a conversation from one channel to the next.

Seamless Service

More and more customers are now expecting service and support to be agile – that they can start an interaction at one point, whether that’s phone or email or help desk, and the brand or organization should be able to carry over that information and continue the conversation as the customer arrives at the next touchpoint (perhaps social, mobile or chat). This could be across a timeframe of a few days or hours, or with the convergence of channels such as social and mobile, it could be just a few minutes.

The ability to carry on that customer service conversation across one, two, three or more channels without the consumer ever having to start over again is now a key customer experience differentiator, requiring many large organizations with siloed customer service processes to now rethink and reorganize to centralize channels. Add to that, the desire and expectation for increased personalization, and the evolution of customer conversations becomes even more complex.

Says Don Wardell, author of the study “Scripting the Service Encounter: A Customer’s Perspective of Quality”, “(Consumers) want the interaction to feel sincere and natural, and not feel robotic.
“They want to feel like the person cares about their request and that they’re being treated as individuals, not some mass-produced commodity.” The more brands can customize and personalize each customer service interaction using customer data, the better the impression.

So ditch the script. Echoing the words of IBM CEO Ginni Rometty in a recent Forbes interview on ways technology will transform the future of business, “If you have a call center, it’s no longer about a script,” she said. “It’s about a dialogue.”

http://www.parature.com/customer-service-longer-script-its-continuing-conversation/#more-10741

Make Your Company Top-of-Mind and Your Employees Proud

by Kare Anderson

Even with the priceless brand-building glow enjoyed by a few celebrity CEOs like
Richard Branson and Tony Hsieh isn’t it strange that so few CEOs attempt the same success? Odder still, few companies tap the scalable, brand-building power of their employees. In fact, it may be their biggest missed opportunity in our increasingly connected yet complex era.

Four More Reasons Employees are Key to Reputation and Sales

1. 41% of us believe employees are the most credible source of information regarding their business. “Employees rank higher in public trust than a firm’s PR department, CEO, or Founder,” according to Edelman’s 2013 Trust Barometer.

2. “Customer engagement must start with employee engagement,” notes Steve Farnsworth. The more responsibility, recognition and training that companies provide employees for engaging smartly with stakeholders the more connected and adaptive the company becomes. And the flip side can cause much more brand damage in our digital world.

3. “Corporate learning and capability is now the #1 challenge in businesses around the world,” according to Josh Bersin. What better way to create relevant, efficient, collective and iterative learning than by establishing a customer-centric employees-as-brand ambassadors program?

4. We know that people increasingly compare and share product experiences, giving them game-changing power over your brand reputation. Turn this growing threat into a great opportunity by using your best asset: your employees. IBM, Ritz Carlton, Zappos, Harley Davidson, GORE-TEX, L’Oreal, LEGO, Virgin and a few other companies discovered years ago.

No Reputation is Neutral

Whatever your employees are telling friends, family and others who ask is as credible as what customers are saying. If even a few are bad-mouthing you or simply exhibit a meh attitude your brand is getting tarnished. We are three times more likely to share bad news than good, according to HR expert, John Sullivan.

Act now to get candid, company-wide feedback and make the changes that prove top management listens to workers. Paul Maxin, Global Resourcing Director of Unilever says, “Ensure brand authenticity: don’t promise externally what you can’t deliver internally.”

As Dell Director of Customer Loyalty Mary Arendes can attest, “satisfied employees become your brand champions.”

Then launch a program to support employees in becoming authentic, adept and articulate brand champions, online and face-to-face. As Marketo Programs Manager, Jason Miller observes, “Encouraging your employees to openly discuss your brand online can have a “humanizing” effect, ultimately increasing positive consumer perception.”

More Benefits of Supporting Employees as Brand Ambassadors

• Declare Great News About “My” Company to Deepen Belief in it

“Publically declaring your support and affiliation motivates you to back it up with real loyalty and engagement. It’s loosely like telling yourself, ‘I can really do this,’ before trying to shoot a free throw,” wrote InformationWeek editor David F. Carr: “Pepsi discovered that over 50% of its employees already wanted to share news about Pepsi with their networks.” That’s a priceless opportunity since emotions and behavior are contagious to the third degree, according to Connected co-authors James Fowler and Nicholas Christakis. That means your employees not only influence the views and behaviors of those with whom they interact but others as far as two more interactions away from them. That’s a huge multiplier of a negative or positive brand reputation.

• Improve Company Performance and Reputation

Find and resolve customer service and other problems.

• Speed Company Growth

Discover and seize opportunities faster and better: more uses for product uses, new markets, better way to sell or serve, profitable partnerships and more.

• Make Work More Engaging to Make Happier, Higher-Performing Workers

Provide another way for employees to cooperate and collaborate across functions, thus accelerating shared learning, coaching, and performance.

With this approach, employees can experience small wins more often together, thus gaining increased satisfaction and meaning out of work, rather than “killing meaning,” something Teresa Amabile advocates.

• Highlight the “Halo Effect” as a Motivator

As employees speaking credibly and vividly about “my company” they can only boost the company brand but their own. That’s a huge boost to self-esteem and thus intrinsic motivation as Ted Rubin knows, first-hand. Taking this “all hands on deck” approach where every employee can be a brand ambassador, demonstrates that your company leadership is willing to treat workers as grown-ups, knowing they will be more productive, as Tony Schwartz advocates.

• Become a More Connective Company

Build company-wide trust, camaraderie and esprit de corps, turning your firm into what Dan Pontefract dubs a Flat Army. Taking this approach your leaders can and must hone their ability to be “multipliers” who “access and channel the intelligence, talent, and creativity of the people around them” making “everyone smarter” according to Liz Wiseman, and Greg McKeown.

• Retain Top Talent

From big data analytics to deep knowledge of your market, some employees have sought-after assets, thus spurring a talent war. Enabling them to learn, connect and shine is an enticing reason for them to stay rather than get stolen away by your hottest competition.

Four Vital Skills for Becoming Valued, Visible Brand Ambassadors

1. First, step into their shoes and be helpful in ways they find helpful. Be a productive and successful giver, gleaning ideas from Give and Take. Recognize the value of building real relationships, not just “hooking up” as Whitney Johnson dubs the one-way entitlement some feel in asking for help.

Johnson cites Judith E. Glaser, author of Conversational Intelligence, “As we reciprocate, we build trust and relationships, flooding our brain with oxytocin that is essential not only to collaboration, but to innovation.” For employees and thus for the company, that approach can create a virtuous circle of well-being and high performance.

2. Be a deeply responsive listener who demonstrates you heard what they said, and does not immediately revert the conversation back to yourself. Instead seek to serve them their way, based on what they said, exhibiting The Golden Golden Rule, doing unto others as they would have done unto them. Offer a relevant, concrete scenario that explicitly shows how they will benefit by doing what you suggest. Craft what Peter Guber calls a purposeful narrative where they can see a role they want in the story you tell, reshaping it to make it their own to share with others.

3. Be so vivid that others tend to remember and repeat what you say, using the A.I.R. method and other communicate-to-connect cues. See more connective behavior tips from my talk (bottom of page) at BusinessNext.

4. Provide actionable ways that others can act to gain bragging when they take the action you advocate. For example, what visibility or value will a customer enjoy if she tells an employee about a way to improve the product or correct a service problem?

What success stories or mishaps have you seen with employees as brand ambassadors? What companies could reap the greatest rewards by starting such a program, why and how? Love to hear your ideas.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kareanderson/2013/03/24/make-your-company-top-of-mind-and-your-employees-proud/