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Navigating the Customer Experience

Join host Yanique Grant as she takes you on a journey with global entrepreneurs and subject matter experts that can help you to navigate your customer experience. Learn what customers really want and how businesses can understand the psychology of each customer or business that they engage with. We will be looking at technology, leadership, customer service charters and strategies, training and development, complaint management, service recovery and so much more!
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Oct 20, 2020

Jason Grier is the Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Officer at Reputation.com. He leads Reputation.com’s customer loyalty and growth initiatives as Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Officer. He's the former Senior Vice President of Global Support Operations and Chief Customer Officer at McAfee, where he spent more than 10 years.

 

While at McAfee, Jason built a reputation as an industry leader in customer support and operations. His teams were honored with a number of awards, including the Intel Quality Award, a prestigious honor for outstanding quality and a personification of Intel's values and the highest team honor given at Intel. His teams also won two TSIA Star Awards, two Service & Support Professionals Association Awards, and a Stevie Award for innovation in action.

 

Before his time at McAfee, Jason held executive-level positions at Sutherland Global Services and Covad communications.

 

Questions

  • Can you share with us a little bit about your journey, how it is that are able to get into these different roles? And of course, more importantly, what led you to the role that you are currently in today?
  • Could you share with us a little bit about your organization? It says you're the Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Officer at Reputation.com. What does Reputation.com do?
  • In terms of customer experience and reputation, how can an organization ensured that if they had a good reputation, a good brand image in the eyes of their customer pre COVID, how can they sustain that and even surpass COVID with those customers maintaining their reputation?
  • Could you share with us maybe two to three things that you think an organization or characteristics that an organization needs to embody in order to really have a reputation that is strong, where customer experience is concerned?
  • Could you share with us how do you stay motivated every day?
  • What's the one online resource, tool, website, or app that you absolutely can't live without in your business?
  • Could you share with us maybe one or two books that have had the biggest impact on you? It could have been a book that you read many, many years ago, but it still has an impact on you or maybe a book that you read recently.
  • A lot of our listeners are business owners and managers who feel they have great products and services, but they lack the constantly motivated human capital - if you are sitting across the table from that person, what's the one piece of advice that you would give them to have a successful business?
  • What’s one thing that’s going on in your life right now that you’re really excited about – either something you’re working on to develop yourself or your people?
  • Where can listeners find you online?
  • Do you have a quote or a saying that during times of adversity or any form of obstacle or challenge that you're being faced by you'll revert to this quote because it kind of helps put you back on track and just get you refocused. Do you have one of those?

 

Highlights

 

Jason’s Journey

Jason stated that it's a great question and anybody that's being honest when they talk about their career, has to say that a lot of it is luck and a lot of it is timing and a lot of it is hard work. But he was coming around at a time when the call center world was really beginning to migrate to offshoring in India. And he found himself right in the middle of all this transformation.

 

And so, if you think about what companies were doing back in the very early two thousands, it was all about how could we be more efficient? How can we be more productive? How can we reduce our costs? How can we keep our customers loyal, back then it was how do you improve customer satisfaction?

 

He found himself doing a lot of travel back and forth to India, found himself in the middle of all types of big change with lots of big companies. And so, he was very fortunate in the sense, unfortunate a sense that he was doing a ton of travel, but very fortunate in the sense that he was right in the middle of it all with some of the world's biggest brands in the middle of their operational transformation. And it was just a very natural progression into the career that he ended up having at McAfee and the operations world and as the world of CX really kind of became to get more formalized.

 

Again, happened to be the person that had the most experience doing this. And as a result was selected to lead those efforts. So, the world of formal CX in and of itself is still relatively new, it hasn't been around as a formal practice for that long. And plenty of people are still trying to figure out the really tough aspects of it, which are how you operationalize this. So that's a very brief story of how he got to where he is.

 

What Does Reputation.com do?

Jason shared that in terms of the world of CX, if you think about how the traditional survey world has evolved and all the listening posts that the CX practitioners are beginning to collect and listened to and take action on; it's not just surveys anymore, it's social media, it's reviews, it's business listening data. And so, what they've been able to do is build a platform and an algorithm that really allows their customers to get found, get chosen and get better through not only all of the point products that he just named, but really the amalgamation of all that into one platform, using one algorithm to really spit out and generate actionable data that allows them to hear what their customers are saying and take action on what they hear.

 

So they're smack dab in the middle of what some would call the CX space and what others would call the online reputation management space. And so, they've actually created their own category, which they now call RXM for Reputation Experience Management.

 

Me: So, when I do customer service training, one of the things that we ask the participants is what makes them choose one business over another? And usually, you'll have different options, you have price, you have quality of product, quality of service, convenience, reputation is always one of the options there. What's are your views, we’re in this space now where there's a lot happening globally. Some companies are exercising a lot of hibernation, they're not extending much spend because they're very unsure of what the future holds. And because of that, they're really trying to stay afloat. And then you have other organizations that this economy actually is making them thrive and they are spending abundantly.

 

Keeping a Good Reputation, A Good Brand Image in the Eyes of Customers

Jason shared that one of the reasons that he really likes the name of their company so much is because, reputation. Brands are built on reputations and reputations are built on trust. And what's really interesting about today's world, the COVID world is the implications for how people are going to want to do business moving forward.

 

 And the best predictor of the future is always the past. And so, if you go back and you look at something as impactful and change full as 9/11 was for the United States. What did that ultimately change? Well, it actually changed the way that we travel. If you kind of look at how you traveled before and how you travel after it's completely different.

And he could go through all kinds of different scenarios that have happened between then and now, but this one's different because it impacts everybody the same. Nobody is immune, every business, every person is immune. And what is top of mind for every customer and literally across the world is safety. And so, if you're thinking about your brand and you're thinking about your reputation and how others are going to perceive you, he would say that the answer to your question is, if you're not focused on making sure that your customers not just only have a great experience in doing business with you, but if they have a safe experience, that they feel safe, that they feel like you're on top of it on their behalf. Those are the companies, at least in the short term are going to come ahead and come out on top.

 

And quite frankly, those who don't will get punished. You're going to see anytime you see folks not taking the measures, at least the minimum guidelines to ensure their customer safety, they're going to get punished and they're going to get punished online especially with social media and reviews today. So it's a great question and it's a really interesting situation that we're in today.

 

Me: So one of the things that I heard you saying just now, very big buzzword in customer experience now is safety. Even if it wasn't something that organizations had as a priority on their list of delivering a quality experience, it definitely is now seeing that that's something that you have to incorporate into your business, especially if you are predominantly a face to face type of operation.

 

So, how do you see organizations really using or capitalizing on this safety thing because apart from sanitizing and ensuring that there are social distance markers on the ground, but people need to know that at the end of the day, you have their best interests at heart and the best interest of your employees, because they can basically pick up if you are just doing it because the government says you are to do it, or you just don't care. You're all about the bottom line.

 

Jason stated that that's a great question. And frankly, that's exactly where we're seeing the explosion is on the employee side. Companies are coming to them in mass and wanting to know, “Hey, how can you help us understand what our employees think? How can you help us understand how we're doing towards keeping their trust and earning and keeping their trust in these times?”

 

They're really concerned about, “Hey, we're spending all this money on real estate and nobody's using it. And so, how do we make our employees feel comfortable with our policies and allow them, without risk to them and without losing their trust to come back to the office, or at least have some type of hybrid model.

 

Going back to the 9/11 example about how it changed the way we travel, this is changing the way that we interact and the way that we work. And the good news is that the entire world has learned that you can work via Zoom or Google. So, they're interesting dynamics going on for sure.

 

 

Characteristics an Organization Needs to Embody to Have a Good Reputation

Jason shared that the number one thing is you've got to really create a culture of listening and then a culture of action. And quite frankly, in his opinion at least, it's the hardest thing to do when you're talking about operationalization of customer feedback or CX, however you want to characterize it. The absolute hardest thing to do is be a great listener, number one. And then number two, actually take action on what your customers have to say. What he finds to be most interesting is how well-intended so many people are when they're listening to customer feedback.

 

And oftentimes what happens is someone will take lots of customer feedback and they'll turn it into an idea that they, the employee thinks is a good idea to implement on the customer.

When in reality, it's just a good idea, but it's not really what the customers want.

 

And so, he thinks that making sure that you have that rigor and that discipline to not just listen to customers, but actually take action on what you hear, he thinks is the number one thing to do. And then, number two, you've got to permeate that into your entire culture and make it a thread of every employee in the company and so that they feel that they have a vested interest in doing what's right by your customers.

 

 

How Jason Stays Motivated

When asked how he stays motivated, Jason shared that he has a lot of employees that are really, really focused on doing right by their customers and creating successful outcomes for them. And one of the funny things is his employees, they laugh at him about it but, they do all hands-on on a regular basis. And one of the things that he actually do on his Zoom, he has a zoom TV. And so, what he actually do is he go through and he'll look at all their faces and he sees the commitment that they have to their customers and the commitment that they have to their company. And it really drives him to help put them in the best possible position to win, number one. So, because he thinks happy employees make happy customers.

 

And he thinks the second thing that really keeps them all is that this notion that we are still so young and early in the business and he happens to have the good fortune of also being in the same position in the world of security with McAfee. And he saw how that grew and changed and really impacted businesses and people's lives. And he thinks this is no different, you’re just at the earlier stages of something that's going to continue to swell and become just a bigger and more important component of everybody's business world.

 

App, Website or Tool that Jason Absolutely Can’t Live Without in His Business

Jason stated that what’s so funny about Yanique asking him this question, he actually got off of all social media about a month ago, and he has to be honest, he doesn't miss it one bit. Now, the answer to the question is he does go to Google News every day. And so, he does read the headlines every day, and then there's some stories he'll dig into but the amount of time that he spends online has diminished rapidly and the amount of time that he has actually been able to pour into thought leadership has increased exponentially. And so, he has to be honest, it's been great.

 

He has the good fortune. He has some family members who are pretty famous online and as a result, he thinks a lot of their fans follow him or used to follow him and so it becomes a distraction. And it was very healthy for him to just put it all down and focus on things that matter. And it's been great.

 

Book That Have Had the Greatest Impact on Jason

When asked about books that have had the biggest impact, Jason stated he gets asked this question a lot and it has been the same answer forever. But it was the first book that he read in business school is called Theory of Constraints by Eliyahu Goldratt, it's such a simple, easy read, and it really creates and just kind of reminds you how simple things really should be and just to always kind of keep it that way. And so, he'd go on the business side, he'd go with that one.

 

On the fiction side, he would say either Shōgun by James Clavell or Pillars of the Earth: A Novel by Ken Follett which are both over a thousand pages, but they're great. And he says that because you should always take time to exercise your creative side, he thinks that's really important.

 

How to Have a Successful Business

When asked about advice to have a successful business, Jason shared that number one is listen. And then number two, he thinks just like anything else and again at McAfee and in other places he has been fortunate to be in a position where they've done numerous acquisitions and he could probably easily name 30 that he was actively involved in.

 

And you start to see some of the same trends emerge when you're dealing with a massive company like some of the ones that he came from, versus someone, an entrepreneur who has really scraped and worked hard to build their business from scratch and it's so admirable. And he has such a respect for the folks that do that, but at the same token, there's the ability to listen and then to delegate and really trust is the thing that he would go back and tell all of those folks, that would have been his observation is who are you putting into these roles, who are into these critical roles that are running your company for you because you can't do it all, no person is an island. And so, it really is true. And so, it is all about the people.

 

Me: I liked the fact that you said you think the number one thing they should do is listen. Now, how can you improve on your listening skills? It's lovely to say in theory, I think you should listen more, but let's say the person thinks that, “Well, I think I'm a good listener.” What are some things that they could do, like maybe a listening audit, or is there like a new practice they could embody to really ensure that they're trying to improve on their listening skills?

 

Jason stated that he almost feel like Yanique was listening in to a meeting of his over the last couple of days, just because someone asked him that same question and he said, ask. And again, keep it simple, some people have a great amount of ability to be self reflective and understand their strengths and weaknesses and others aren't and, and hopefully, are good at taking feedback. But at the end of the day, the only way to be able to listen more is to ask more and then stop.

 

And so, the question is that he would say is, what are the different ways in which you're asking, because you're asking him questions right now, but you might want to send him questions written, in written form at a different time or you might want to have someone else on your behalf reach out and send him a review. And so, it's all about making sure that you've got different asking posts, different asking posts create different listening posts is probably a better way to say it.

 

Me: I do agree with you that asking questions will definitely help you to become a better listener, especially, as you said, after you've asked the question, you remain silent and actually pay attention to what the person is saying to you. There's a book that I read at least once per year, How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie. And that's one of the things that I really have taken from that book that asking questions really helps you to be just more intentional, it helps you to get more information because generally speaking, I find human beings don't necessarily just volunteer information. So if you really want to know, you have to be asking the right questions.

 

Jason stated that to make it even more practical, he thinks the real answer is you actually have to be interested. And the test that he gives, and this is part of anybody that works on his staff is going to hear him say this probably more, they probably have nightmares about it, but you got to be a great secondary learner. And what he means by that is, are you paying attention to what others are saying and learning from them regardless of who they are. And so, to do that and to be good at that, it requires you to actually be interested. And he’s got to tell you, if you're not interested, it's going to show.

 

What Jason is Really Excited About Now!

Jason shared that he is in the process of building a whole model on business acumen and directly for his people. He preach a lot to his staff, it's all about the front lines and empowering them and giving them the tools to be successful. And one of the things that he has seen just across any company that he has worked for. He had the good fortune of going to business school at night and not everybody can do that. And so, he finds that it's really important when you're helping to develop your employees and your staff to actually give them tools that are practical and useful that actually help them get better. And so, he tries to do at least one of those a year.

 

And right now he’s working on one that goes by industry and actually will help them understand what are the key metrics for that industry that will allow you to have more meaningful conversations with people instead of, he doesn't ever want any of their customer success folks to call someone and “Hey, I'm just checking in to see how you're doing?”

 

He wants them to be able to, whether it's a healthcare company or an automotive company, or a property management company, or a restaurant, or you name the vertical. He wants them to feel prepared, capable, and empowered, to have meaningful business conversations with people about the things that matter to them, not just the things that matter to us (the organization).

And that's really the essence of being a great listener is showing them the courtesy and the respect that you have taken the time to learn about their business, number one. But number two, he thinks it just makes their people better and he thinks that that makes them more appreciative of them and more loyal to them over time.

 

Where Can We Find Jason Online

Jason shared listeners can find him at –

 

LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/jason-grier-825b271

 

Quote or Saying that During Times of Adversity Jason Uses

Jason shared that “When you're dealing with adversity, you just put your head down and you go and you keep going and eventually you'll get through it.” But he can't tell how many times he has had that conversation with himself. It's easy to be a great winner, what he thinks the real test of people's character is how they deal with adversity and really trudged through and methodically chop wood to get through it and come out the other side even better.

 

Please connect with us on Twitter @navigatingcx and also join our Private Facebook Community – Navigating the Customer Experience and listen to our FB Lives weekly with a new guest

 

Grab the Freebie on Our Website – TOP 10 Online Business Resources for Small Business Owners 

 

Links

 

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Oct 13, 2020

Leena Iyar is the Chief Brand Officer at Moxtra. She is responsible for all aspects of Moxtra’s marketing efforts, including strategy, brand awareness, growth marketing, public relations and customer communications.

 

Questions

  • Could you share with us a little bit about your journey, how it is that you got into marketing and brand awareness, that kind of stuff?
  • Could you share with us a little bit about how it is that especially in this time that we're operating in, we're impacted by the pandemic globally and people have to literally reinvent themselves. What have you noticed? Have you noticed any different trends in that whole space in terms of people just keeping their brand consistent on top of mind with the customer, and, of course, ensuring that even if even the customer is not shopping with them as they used to, how is it that you're staying relevant to those customers?
  • Could you share with us a little bit about what Moxtra does? I know it's a one stop portal that allows customers to basically have everything housed digitally in one place. But let's say, for example, you're a bank and you operate on many different platforms. Could you just give us real time what that means for the bank and how does that translate to the customer's experience?
  • What are your thoughts on designing the experience that it's, if not better than the face to face experience digitally?
  • How do you stay motivated every day?
  • Could you share with us maybe one online resource, website, app or tool that you absolutely can't live without in your business?
  • Can you share with us maybe one or two books that have had the biggest impact on you? It could be a book that you read a very long time ago that still has an impact on you to this day, or maybe a book that you read recently.
  • Could you share with us maybe one or two things that is going on in your life right now - either something that you're working on to develop yourself or your people?
  • Where listeners can find you online?
  • Could you share maybe one or if you have more than one, a quote or saying that during times of adversity or challenge, you'll tend to revert to this quote or saying because it kind of helps to help you to overcome that obstacle or that adversity.

 

Highlights

 

Leena’s Journey

Leena shared that she got into marketing actually when she was in college. So, she started by working on a mock up of a product that then sort of evolved as part of working with the Moxtra team into what Moxtra is today. And so, she has been involved with the team since then, and she sort of started as someone who had their hands a little bit in everything.

 

So, the marketing, the website, the design, the fonts and the role just evolved since then. And she thinks that the nice thing about being in marketing is that there's a new creative challenge every day. You're thinking about things from a design perspective, thinking about things from an audience perspective and most importantly, from an experience perspective. And so, sort of blends all of these together into sort of a comprehensive experience.

 

Keeping Your Brand Consistent - Top of Mind and Staying Relevant to Customers

Leena shared that we're seeing this a lot with our customers and just with businesses that we speak to that as you said. In today's world, it's no longer a nice to have to be able to engage your customers on digital channels, it's now an imperative. And she thinks for so many businesses, there is this push to adjust, adapt and reinvent and reimagine the way that they're engaging with their customers on digital channels.

 

And she thinks the biggest thing in that regard is this whole idea of, whatever it might be to provide a convenient experience for your customers to do business with you on digital.

 

And so, that's the case whether you're a law firm, that's the case whether you're a couture designer, that's a case whether you’re a real estate agent. And really, the whole concept is about keeping your customers engaged under your brand. A lot of what they do at Moxtra is that, they power people's one stop customer portal, which is basically, a digital branch for their business under their brand, which helps them engage their customers and as well as manage their organizations to deliver that service experience.

 

Me: Marketers sometimes can come over to be a little pushy. What do you think is the approach they should be taking now seeing that, as I said, a lot of people are in hibernation to kind of watching how to spend, maybe what they would have budgeted to spend on different initiatives for 2020 has probably been scaled down depending on the mindset of that organization, because some companies are spending. But then there are a lot who are literally watching what's happening and just being very cautious in terms of their spend and activities that they would take. So, from that perspective, what stance do they need to have as it relates to being pushy or just kind of going with what the customer is asking for you even if they're not asking for anything?

 

Leena shared she would say that in their case, and obviously, theirs may be a unique experience and sort of a different microcosm, but she thinks the thing is that what they do is they enable people to have a digital branch in their pocket at the cost of one brick and mortar branch, they could possibly be in a thousand or ten thousand customer pockets. And the reach, the distribution, the scale of that is really huge and from a marketing perspective, it's all about enticing as opposed to chasing.

 

So, she thinks that if you have something that genuinely provides value, that makes sense, that will emerge. And it's really just about building the awareness and when is the right timing, is the right customer, things will fit. And that's what we're seeing. From a marketing perspective, we don't really end up having to do too much as opposed to just building the awareness that there is something like this out there. For businesses, the really emotional thing for them is that for a lot of businesses that might not be able to survive or might have been going under are able to revitalize and become a digitally resilient organization through this. And so that's been really huge.

 

Actually, one example of that that was really interesting that they heard the other day was they are a collectibles manufacturing company in England and what they do is, 70% of their business was through resellers and 30% of their business was through direct, pre COVID. And, she thinks overnight they lost about 70 to 80% of their reseller business because so many of it was through smaller retailers, things like that. And people were sending back stock or not purchasing stock for the rest of the year. And so they had to think really quickly on their feet and reinvent themselves. And they happened to come across Moxtra.

 

They were able to enable a digital branch for their organization. And now they've grown their direct business by 80% and their retailer business has mostly recovered, they've stopped working with the smaller retailers and primarily focused on larger retailers. And so, they've gained back like 90% of their overall drop in the span of 6 months and are now looking to expand to Japan, Italy, amongst other countries. And so, it's just pretty astronomical and she thinks that when you consider the effects of that, that ties to her point that it has to be compelling on its own and when it is, customers will come.

 

What Does Moxtra Do?

Leena shared that Moxtra actually has a customer collaboration platform. And so, their customer collaboration platform powers these branded one stop customer portal experiences. So let's say a bank, what does that mean?

 

It basically means that Moxtra enables the bank to power its own digital branch. So, Van Lanschot Bank in the Netherlands is their customer, they have a whole host of private wealth clients. And what they did is they power the Van Lanschot mobile app and web app that now enables Van Lanschot customers to be able to connect to their Personal Relationship Wealth Manager to receive portfolio advice, updates, everything through the Van Lanschot experience. And it's under their brand, it’s their digital branch, and they're able to provide this continuous collaboration experience through that.

 

And a little bit about Moxtra, Moxtra was founded by Subrah the co-founder and CEO of WebEx, and Stanley Huang, a senior director of engineering at WebEx Communications. And so combined, they have so many years of experience in the collaboration space and as a result, a big part of the digital branch experience is this whole collaboration experience powering the sort of customer engagement portion of the one stop portal.

 

Me: So basically, instead of going into a physical branch to meet with your wealth advisor or let's say for example, a customer service person, maybe there's something you’re trying to sort out on your account, Moxtra's platform allows you to do that in a digital space with that same individual. Is that what I'm getting from what you're saying?

 

Leena stated yes, absolutely.

 

Me: So that's a new way of doing business, isn't it? Is that widespread? Because I've never heard of that approach being taken. And how is it being adopted in other parts of the world other than Europe in the Netherlands, for example, are you seeing it predominantly in the U.S., in the Caribbean, in South America? Or people are not logging on to it as readily because it seems pretty simple and easy.

 

Leena shared that about two or three years ago, they started to see a lot of traction in Asia Pacific and Latin America because these are very mobile heavy countries. And she thinks that they have a tendency as a result to be a little faster moving when it comes to new technology. But over the last year or so, she would say, and especially true with COVID, they're seeing this across the board. So, United States, Europe, Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, Asia PAC, basically all countries.

 

And the idea is it's really because that in today's world, businesses need a digital branch where they're able to deliver service to customers. You can't meet in person, a lot of the times customers aren't even in the same place as your business anymore; you're not even necessarily able to staff the brick and mortar branch. So, having a digital branch is no longer nice to have, it is what's enabling you to keep your business going.

 

Leena’s Thoughts on Designing the Experience Face to Face and Digitally

Me: Now, in terms of designing the customer experience, it's a little bit different when it's digital versus when it's face to face. But then you want to ensure that a customer has, if not a similar experience, an even better experience digitally. So some of the challenges that people have for example, when they deal with face to face interactions, at least generally speaking, is wait time, poor communication in terms of people are not following up and letting you know what's happening every step of the way.

 

I interviewed a guest recently and he said if everybody could just give the domino effect, which and I said, what's that? And he's like, when you order a pizza from Dominoes in their app, you literally are able to see what happens with that pizza every step of the way. So, imagine if they were to take that same principle and apply it in every business, whether you’re applying for a mortgage or you're buying a car, you are able to literally see where your journey is going every step of the way, all through technology without you actually having to interface with someone.

 

So, what are your thoughts on designing the experience that it's, if not better than the face to face experience digitally?

 

Leena agreed and shared that Yanique raised a lot of great points. And she would also say that the first point comes down to time. When you're face to face, you have to synchronize both time and place. And she thinks with the rise of virtual meetings, you're able to synchronize just time but not place. And it's going to get to a point, especially for the convenience of the customer, where the customer has to synchronize neither time nor place with the business, which is the effect of the Dominoes app.

 

She could be sitting in her house and place an order on her phone and the pizza will be there and she can track every step of the way. But she doesn't have to get on the phone and call Dominoes and talk to them about what she wants. The app and the experience is presented in such a way that she’s able to get her business done in a one stop experience. And they talk about this a lot, actually, at Moxtra from the perspective of customer convenience and customer experience.

 

And it's an interesting point because it actually goes back to; let's take the paradigm of the desktop, the desktop computer. If you look at the kind of programs that did well on the desktop, they were mostly productivity solutions in many ways. And that’s because the desktop is an information presentation tool, it's an information presentation machine, you can toggle between multiple windows at the same time, you can multitask very easily.

 

And it sort of supports that. Whereas if you go to your mobile phone, it's primarily a communication device. You can't toggle between different windows that easily, when you're in the app, you're in the app and when you shut it, you move to another window. And she thinks as a result of that, if you look at the kind of experiences that have done well on mobile, it's businesses like Tesla, it’s businesses like Uber, it's businesses like Insta Car, like Dominoes that provide this one stop service experience being that it's one stop to get whatever you need to get done with that business done and as a result, it's super convenient for customers.

 

And so, their logic was well wait, all these consumer services are offering this one stop, on demand service experience. Why shouldn’t B2B companies? Why shouldn’t you expect the same thing from your law firm or your mortgage broker? And she thinks that to Yanique’s point, it's going to become very necessary because people expect that, they expect it from their consumer services and they're going to come to expect it from their business services.

 

So, she thinks that from a company perspective, focusing on the customer experience, companies have a tendency to focus on themselves and what makes them look good and how their business is going to be. But she thinks that from an experience perspective, you always have to put yourself in the shoes of your customer. Who are they? What are they concerned about? And what's going to make it easiest for them to want to do business with your organization versus another organization?

 

 And if you see from that perspective, if you work externally, thinking about what they're going to want to see and what's going to make it easy, then you have to look at things that have done well on a mobile form factor and then try to make a consistent experience across touch points, make seamless.

 

So, whether someone picks up their mobile phone or logs into through a website that you're offering as a business, a very consistent branded experience so it's seamless for them and they don't have to think about it.

 

Me: Agreed. It's funny you mentioned whichever platform they're interfacing with you, because I recently started doing webinars as one of the offerings for my business and the webinar platform that I chose, the primary reason why I chose them was not because of the features that they have, because Zoom had more options. But I chose Demio because I could literally reach out to them on Facebook Messenger, Instagram DM or even through their website, through their chatbot that they had on their website.

 

And literally, whatever conversation I was having in each of those different platforms, for some reason, their experience was an Omni experience, not a multi experience. And so it was a continuation of the conversation off of that other platform, which made it so much easier for me, because let's say I wanted to reference something that I had asked them about a week ago. I didn't have to go back to Instagram DM to go, “Oh, that's what they sent there.” Because regardless of the platform I'm on, everything is synched into one single window. And I thought I was brilliant.

 

Leena agreed and stated that it provides a persistent experience for you as well. There's no burden on you as a customer to now try to recall what somebody said or what might have happened. And from a business perspective, they know all about you, they know exactly what you’ve asked for, the history remains with them versus with whichever rep talked to you last.

 

How Leena Stays Motivated

When asked how she stays motivated, Leena shared that the biggest thing for her is that she’s excited by what she does. And she thinks that drives me right, because there's a huge market opportunity and an opportunity to sort of redefine the way businesses engage with their customers. And also, help so many businesses that might not be able to stay afloat in today's world, reimagine and recreate a new way of doing business.

 

And so, she thinks that's what keeps her really motivated. The idea that we can change really the way that people are doing things and help so many businesses that might not survive in a traditional approach.

 

App, Website or Tool that Leena Absolutely Can’t Live Without in Her Business

When asked about on online resource that she cannot live without in her business, Leena shared that that's an interesting one. She would say that she loves the graphic design hubs, actually. If you've used something called themeforest. It's actually really amazing because there are things like templates for different audio tracks or graphic design files or after effects templates.

 

And so, they use visual mediums to communicate their points a lot because their product is highly experiential. So it is something that you need to sort of see and touch.

 

And so, they use a lot of like short form videos, animation gifs to communicate what they try to do. And she thinks that visual supplementation helps a lot with that. So, they end up using a lot of graphic and audio assets quite a bit.

 

Book That Have Had the Greatest Impact on Leena

When asked about books that have had the biggest impact, Leena shared that it's an interesting one and it does tie into a lot of what their brand philosophy is at Moxtra and how they do things. So, the book is actually called Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller. It's a fantastic book. And she thinks the reason why is because it's so simple. So many times with marketing and just with overall brand positioning, companies have a tendency to make themselves the hero in the story.

 

The biggest lesson in that book is that it's not about you; you're the guide and your customers, the hero, your customers, the character. And to broaden that point, the idea being that, “Hey, they're on their journey.” And as a marketeer and as someone thinking about your customer experience, the most important thing you can do is tune into their journey, what are they looking for and how are they going about their journey? And then how can you better help them.

 

What Leena is Really Excited About Now!

Leena stated that she would say one of the things that's going on in her life right now, and she thinks that as so many people are, is this transition to working from home and remote work from different locations. And she thinks in many ways there are advantages to it and their disadvantages as well.

 

Some of the advantages are people thought that everyone needed to commute to work at the same time to get things done, turns out that they don't. People can work from home and be productive; it's more sustainable as well, which is amazing. But she thinks on the other side, there's a shift in work patterns. So, figuring out a new routine and how best to sort of keep yourself energized and motivated and on top of the ball as well.

 

Where Can We Find Leena Online

Leena shared listeners can find her at –

Website – Moxtra

LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/leena-iyar-59a73938/

 

Quote or Saying that During Times of Adversity Leena Uses

When asked about a quote or saying that she tends to revert to, Leena shared that that's an interesting one. So, she would say it's sort of a strange pick, but she doesn't know if you've ever watched that show Cosmos but the original one with Carl Sagan.

 

But they actually show an image of Earth from very far away and it's just a pale blue dot on the screen of black. And he says, “Look at that dot. That's home, that's where everyone who you've ever heard about, every human being who ever lived, any story that you've ever heard, any idea that you've ever had has come out of that pale blue dot.” And she thinks that it always puts things in perspective for her. How many years the earth has been here and how short amount of time we have. And how our lives can have such a large impact over generations. And it always just frames things for her and puts things in perspective about life.

 

 

Please connect with us on Twitter @navigatingcx and also join our Private Facebook Community – Navigating the Customer Experience and listen to our FB Lives weekly with a new guest

 

Grab the Freebie on Our Website – TOP 10 Online Business Resources for Small Business Owners

 

Links

 

The ABC’s of a Fantastic Customer Experience

Do you want to pivot your online customer experience and build loyalty - get a copy of “The ABC’s of a Fantastic Customer Experience.”

 

The ABC's of a Fantastic Customer Experience provides 26 easy to follow steps and techniques that helps your business to achieve success and build brand loyalty.

This Guide to Limitless, Happy and Loyal Customers will help you to strengthen your service delivery, enhance your knowledge and appreciation of the customer experience and provide tips and practical strategies that you can start implementing immediately!

This book will develop your customer service skills and sharpen your attention to detail when serving others.

Master your customer experience and develop those knock your socks off techniques that will lead to lifetime customers. Your customers will only want to work with your business and it will be your brand differentiator. It will lead to recruiters to seek you out by providing practical examples on how to deliver a winning customer service experience!

Oct 6, 2020

Dan Leshem has over 10 years of experience leading various products in a variety of companies and fields. He wrote his first line of code at the age of 14, and has not stopped writing ever since.

 

He is the co-founder and CEO of Plantt. He's been leading products in various industries for over 10 years, an entrepreneur at heart, and he's now setting himself a goal to make Customer Experience better than before.

Questions

  • Could you tell us a little bit about your journey, how it is that you got to where you are today and maybe share with us a bit about your company Plantt, what does not really do?
  • What has your experience been in customer experience, especially since the pandemic? Are there any trends that you've seen across industries? And how does your platform help customers to navigate their customer experience or brands to navigate their customer experience?
  • What industry do you specifically specialize in or is it for all different industries?
  • What are two or three top things that you think banks need to focus on as it relates to Artificial Intelligence, but also ensuring that they're blending the human aspect of that into their customer experience because technology is great. But I still think that we need to have some human component attached to the technology. What are your thoughts on that?
  • What are some of the bottlenecks that you found customer experience teams have been experiencing, especially since the pandemic?
  • Could you share with us maybe one or two things that you think companies need to focus on in order to deliver a fantastic customer experience?
  • What's the one online resource, tool, website or app that you absolutely can't live without in your business?
  • Could you share with us maybe one or two books that have had the biggest impact on you?
  • Can you share with us maybe something that's going on in your life that you're really excited about - either something you're working on to develop yourself or your people?
  • Where can our listeners find you online?

Highlights

 

Dan’s Journey

Dan shared that Plantt helps companies elevate their customer experience with AI (Artificial Intelligence) they help them find bottlenecks in their customer service, customer support, and then automate what they can without losing that personalized experience.

 

But before we dive into what Plantt, Dan shared that customer experience is very close to his heart mostly as a customer, this is how he ended up funding a start-up in that space. He as a customer, he had several not ideal experiences both with human and chatbot representative. So, this is where 2 years ago he started thinking about how to change and what he can do to solve challenges in this space.

 

How Does the Platform Help Organizations Navigate Their Customer Experience

Dan shared that the pandemic had a tremendous effect on customer experience because overnight companies really had to shift their strategy about customer experience and customer support. They had not only surge increasing in demand and in volume indicating and support and communication with the customers. But also they had logistic problem, they had to work remotely and Call Centres were shutting down.

So in his experience, as they work with companies, with their customers, they had to embrace technologies overnight. That was fascinating. During the pandemic in the first outbreak in March, they had customers running at them and just starting implementation of AI and automation to their customer experience. So that was very interesting to see.

 

He thinks now companies are re-evaluating their strategies about customer experience and how they can embrace automation as part of their strategy. So it's going to be very interesting to see in the upcoming months to see how these things are developed.

 

Me: So, Plantt is an organization that will help you to improve on customer support in terms of, you will field telephone calls, handle support tickets, chats and that kind of stuff. And you do it for different types of organization. What industry do you specifically specialize in or is it for all different industries?

 

Industries that Plantt Specializes In

Dan shared that their platform is industry agnostic, but they mainly work with e-commerce and SaaS companies and financial services companies. These are the main three industries they're focused on.

 

Me: Okay, great. In terms of the financial companies let’s say for example, for a bank. Tell me some of the things that maybe two or three top things that you think banks need to focus on as it relates to Artificial Intelligence, but also ensuring that they're blending the human aspect of that into their customer experience because technology is great. But I still think that we need to have some human component attached to the technology. What are your thoughts on that?

 

Things that Banks Need to Focus on and Also Blend the Human Aspect into their Customer Experience

Dan stated that he definitely agree with your what Yanique said. He thinks that what we see is that companies are running towards automation. And we had this hype of chatbots a few years ago where everybody was talking about chatbots, but then chatbots just didn't deliver on their promise, although it's great. We all had a bad experience with chatbots.

 

And Yanique is right. There was a missing, that personalized feeling there or that human touch. So, he thinks companies before they go towards automation or chatbot, first they have to understand what their customers are really asking for, what they really want, way before they are run into automation.

 

The language understanding technology these days is quite good. But you have to understand really what it is that your customers really want from you. And then you have to know what can be automated and what must be deal with more empathy and still require your support to intervene.

 

Me: So, basically as an organization you have to identify that not every aspect of your business is going to need full technology and automation or even some form of artificial intelligence.

 

Bottlenecks that Customer Experience Teams are Experiencing Since the Pandemic

Dan shared that if we can take for example, e-commerce companies, there was a lot of interference in the supply chain. So, they had like thousands of inquiries about delivery delays and people concerning about the delivery because of the pandemic.

 

So, they were able to identify trends that and they also as part of their platform, they also analyze the sentiment. So, they were actually analyzing trends of people worried about COVID and they were able to see that companies that were supporting, that were adding some empathy in their answers to the customer, the conversation was that there was satisfaction at the end of the conversation was way higher. So, bottlenecks they see, delivery delays.

 

Things that Companies Need to Focus on to Deliver Fantastic Customer Experience

 

Dan shared that the first thing they have to do is to understand what their customers are asking, what really keeps their customers busy because many customer experience directors and many companies have an intuition about what is it that their customers really want from them.

 

And there is that misconception where many people say customers want to speak with humans, they want to speak with customer support representatives. And therefore, we cannot automate; we cannot deliver great customer experience and also automate the customer experience and they think that’s wrong.

 

People don't want to necessarily speak with humans, but they want to get the job done, they want for their problem to be solved. So, we need to understand what is the problem that we have to solve for our users, for our customers, and then focus on that. And in some cases, it can be automated and there are tools that can give you the insights about what these problems are. And in some cases, there is still need for human to intervene in the process.

 

Me: So basically, you need to find out what a problem is, what solution, what problem are you really trying to solve for the customer? And I guess for each customer that's different and then you need to use tools to understand if they're actually being resolved.

 

Dan mentioned that also, especially after the pandemic, because, we are entering in to a more dynamic, he would say, a dynamic era where in customer experience, where you would have to as an organization, you would have to navigate between multiple channels to deliver great customer experience because before the pandemic maybe you had, for example, retailer. You had customers reaching out to your store, now everything is shifted to online. And then you would have to embrace like messaging channels for the millennials and for Gen X, you would have to embrace voice channels like Alexa. So, it's going to be way more dynamic, in his opinion.

 

App, Website or Tool that Daniel Absolutely Can’t Live Without in His Business

When asked about an online resource that he cannot live without in his business, Dan shared that that's a great question. For him it's loom, when the pandemic hit and we all switch to remote work, they were starting using loom.

 

Me: Is it similar to Asana or one of those platforms that you can basically communicate with your team and share projects and that kind of stuff?

 

Dan shared that it's a really simple app that lets you record your screen while you speak and then you can send the recording to one of your teammates. And so, it's really helpful when you're not working in the same office, you can just share with your co-worker and it saves them a lot of hours.

 

Me: I imagine because you're dealing with such technical stuff, it makes it easier for the persons who you're sharing information with.

 

Book That Have Had the Greatest Impact on Dan

Dan jokingly asked if she wants the real answer or the smart answer. So, the real answer is, Harry Potter. When he was young, he fell in love with the series. And this is actually how he got into entrepreneurship and in building products in general because he started like a fan club website, this is the first website he ever built. So, it has a great impact on him.

 

What Dan is Really Excited About Now!

Dan shared that when they started Plantt over a year ago, they didn't know where they were going to be with this and it's really exciting to see how they help companies learn what their customers really want from them and being actually the voice of customers. So it's really exciting. They didn't start as an inside platform for companies, they started as just as a simple chatbot platform. But then when they moved forward, they learned about the importance of designing the experience and keeping the experience personalized. So, it's really exciting for them to work with their customers, with their design partners and investors.

 

Where Can We Find Dan Online

Dan shared listeners can find him at –

Website – www.plantt.io

LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/dan-leshem/

 

Please connect with us on Twitter @navigatingcx and also join our Private Facebook Community – Navigating the Customer Experience and listen to our FB Lives weekly with a new guest

 

Grab the Freebie on Our Website – TOP 10 Online Business Resources for Small Business Owners

Links

 

The ABC’s of a Fantastic Customer Experience

Do you want to pivot your online customer experience and build loyalty - get a copy of “The ABC’s of a Fantastic Customer Experience.”

 

The ABC's of a Fantastic Customer Experience provides 26 easy to follow steps and techniques that helps your business to achieve success and build brand loyalty.

This Guide to Limitless, Happy and Loyal Customers will help you to strengthen your service delivery, enhance your knowledge and appreciation of the customer experience and provide tips and practical strategies that you can start implementing immediately!

This book will develop your customer service skills and sharpen your attention to detail when serving others.

Master your customer experience and develop those knock your socks off techniques that will lead to lifetime customers. Your customers will only want to work with your business and it will be your brand differentiator. It will lead to recruiters to seek you out by providing practical examples on how to deliver a winning customer service experience!

Sep 29, 2020

Daniel Rodriguez is the head of marketing at Simplr, which is upending the traditional customer service model by providing premium brands with flexible, 24/7 on-demand specialists for all digital channels. The company's specialists are unique work-from-home pool of highly educated professionals who use Simplr's, AI-powered platform to replicate tone and brand integrity with speed, empathy and precision.

 

Danielle has extensive marketing and entrepreneurial experience, having served as the VP of marketing for Seismic and the co-founder of multiple companies, including Indivly Magic and PrizeTube. Daniel earned a BA in Economics from Harvard University and an MBA from MIT.

Questions

  • Could you share a little bit with us about your history? I know it says here that you are Head of Marketing at Simplr and that you've gained a lot of experience as it relates to digital marketing and also entrepreneurial skill. But just share with us a little bit about how you got to where you are today.
  • Simlpr recently conducted a study, a customer experience study, where it says 27% consumers say their brand loyalty has wavered during the pandemic due to long customer service wait times. Could you share a little bit about some of the insights that you gained from that study?
  • Let's say our audience; they do have some of these issues that we're talking about. What are maybe two or three things that they should do that maybe they're not doing now in a very practical sense, things they should really be focused on to just give that great customer experience?
  • Could you share with us what is the one online resource, website tool or app that you absolutely cannot live without in your business?
  • Could you share with us maybe one or two books that have had the biggest impact on you? It could be a book that you read since the pandemic, or it could be a book that you read many, many years ago. But it still has had a great impact on you.
  • Now, can you share with us what's one thing that's going on in your life right now, something that you're really excited about - either something you're working on to develop yourself or your people?
  • Where can they find you online?
  • Do you have a quote or saying that during times of adversity or challenge, you will revert to this quote, it kind of helps you to move forward, to keep pushing. Do you have one of those?

 

Highlights

 

Daniel’s Journey

 

Daniel shared that he spent the past 8 years of his career running marketing teams at start-up companies, tech companies in the B2B space. So, very high growth companies, they're all venture funded and have high growth expectations. And it's been a really rewarding journey, he thinks, for him, because he started his career on the consulting and finance side, and he had this moment as the wise poet John Mayer once said. He had a quarter life crisis and realized that if he didn't actually be the doer, meaning, be actually on the operating side, he was going to have regrets in his own life about the career choices that he was making.

 

So that really started him down a path and he’s very thankful to Brad Rosen, who's the CEO of a company called Drink, for taking a chance on him and letting him work for him on kind of a volunteer nights and weekends basis and Drink is a wine app. And for him, it was great to be able to dive into on the operating side, dive into something that he was also passionate about just at a personal level.

 

So that gave him his first taste, if you will, of actually being at a start-up, super early stage start-up and that really scrappy mode. And once he had that taste, he was completely hooked. So, that started his path then to go to business school, which was giving him an opportunity to learn a lot more about entrepreneurship, experience entrepreneurship himself, try to start a company himself. And it was kind of from there and from some of those failed experiences of his own and trying to get companies off the ground that he was able to then get jobs at more established, albeit still very early stage companies. And so, that's where he has been spending the majority of his career at this point.

 

Simplr’s Insight on Customer Experience Study

Me: So, in preparing for this interview, we were informed that your company Simlpr recently conducted a study, a customer experience study, where it says 27% of consumers say their brand loyalty has wavered during the pandemic due to long customer service wait times. Being in customer service myself, I know that's like one of the biggest pet peeves of customers waiting, whether it be face to face or over the phone or even in a web forum if you have to wait on a chat for somebody to give you feedback, could you share a little bit about some of the insights that you gained from that study?

 

Daniel shared that they've conducted 3 of these mystery shop reports, the survey that they've gone out, partnered with a third party. They've done 3 of them over the past year. So, they did one in June where they mystery shopped about 800 eCommerce retail brands. And they were looking for areas where they could identify the things that are really important to customers and therefore result in customers having an exceptional experience, an experience that they would want to give somebody a 5-star rating about and tell their friends.

 

And so they looked at dimensions of Reliability, Relatability and Responsiveness. So, one of the hypotheses that they had was and this was predominantly U.S. based brands, although there are people purchasing products from all parts of the world. And they also then interviewed 500 U.S. customers of those brands, consumers not necessarily specific to any of these brands, but just 500 hundred people that are consumers in the United States.

 

And they asked them, how did they feel about wait times? How do they feel about brands and their willingness to stick with that brand, if there was going to be a longer wait time?

 

And their hypothesis was and this was something that they have also been feeling themselves during the pandemic. When the pandemic began in March and April, there was a lot of forgiveness. People were willing to say, “Oh my gosh, the world has just been completely turned upside down. I'm not going to hold it against my favourite brand that things are messed up. And they have shipping delays and they can't figure out where things are. And they might be getting slammed with a backlog because people weren't able to go into the office to answer to these questions.”

 

So, this idea that he thinks we as consumers were permitting, we were okay with the dreaded backlog happening, consumers don't think of it as a backlog. But we, of course, as the providers of a great customer experience, we think of backlogs and the dreaded backlog, which happens to many companies and for various reasons, he thinks reared its ugly head for many brands.

 

And what they saw then happen was consumers stopped being as forgiving, basically, they were saying, “Hey, now that we're three or four months into this thing, I've gone back to my previously picky ways and I'm no longer willing to put up with this.” And that obviously is concerning because it's still very difficult for many brands to figure out how to provide a great customer experience.

 

Me: So, your study focused on ensuring that you are looking at brands that were providing a really fantastic customer experience. And the biggest pet peeve that you picked up in this report was wait times. Why do you think customers as the pandemic got more and more deeper, people got less forgiving or patient as it related to giving brands the breather that they needed?

 

Daniel shared that what's really interesting about this finding is that he does think that part of this finding is cultural. And by that, he means, Americans are not the same as people from other countries. They had a webinar and they had a couple of guest speakers on the webinar, one of which her name is Alex, she runs customer success at Princess Polly. Princess Polly is an Australian brand. So they have a lot of customers in Australia.

 

And this idea that felt very validated by an American hypothesis in the data by Americans doesn't actually play out anecdotally anyway, in Alex's experience for their Australian customers. They were just very willing to be forgiving still of things being delayed and challenges, a lot of things relating to shipping and the forgiveness around that.

 

So, he thinks there's a fair amount of a cultural challenge around this. He thinks the American market; you can probably say that the American consumer has a very high bar. And unfortunately, it's harder than ever before to probably deliver on that high bar.

 

What he means by that high bar by the way, he thinks that high bar is, he doesn't want to use words that are that are either positive or negative in kind of describing the American consumer here. He is an American. He is an American consumer, but he thinks that the American consumer has been very much influenced by a lot of the existing technology and the way that American consumers have been catered to by that technology.

 

So Amazon, which is absolutely a ubiquitous company in not just the United States, but as he’s speaking specifically about this has he thinks created an expectation of you get whatever you want, whenever you want it, and it comes fast and that whole idea of hyper catered to.

 

And so, he thinks that's what we're kind of seeing play out here. There has been a very significant trend that was already happening before the pandemic of both his generation, as well as the generation below us, so the millennial.

 

He’s a reluctant millennial because sometimes the pejorative to call someone a millennial, he’s like the oldest millennial you can get, he’s like, “No, not those millennials. They're all so young and don't respect their boss and all this stuff.”

 

But as a millennial and then as Gen Z, there is a there's a pretty significant shift in the way that we want to interact with our brands as consumers away from that kind of unilateral, “Hey, here's the phone and we're available when you need us, if you ever have an issue. And by when you need us, I mean, between the hours of 9:00 and 5:00 Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday.”

So, that expectation that customers then have, “Well, actually, I want to be able to interact with a brand on a different channel. I want to be able to use email. I want to be able to use Instagram. I want to be able to use chat right on the website. And by the way, I want to be able to do that whenever it's convenient for me and it's convenient for me probably not when it's convenient for you.”

 

And that expectation has been exacerbated actually by the pandemic. And the data that they collected also reflects this narrative where brands have now recognized because of the pandemic that they need to offer more digital options for people to interact with them.

 

They just have to, it becomes table stakes and then it becomes punitive if you're not actually playing the game. The problem is most of the brands in the study hadn't quite cracked the nut on how do I actually deliver a customer experience that is expected by this customer. I'm offering something, I have chat, but then, sometimes it takes more than 5 minutes to respond to a chat and 92% of the people who experience a 5 minute wait time on chat give the brand a very poor rating on responsiveness.

 

Me: Because their expectation is immediate response.

 

Daniel agreed and stated that 30 seconds or less, “If it's more than a minute, I'm starting to really get mad; I'll give you a minute. I might start wavering, but if it's more than a minute, I'm actually going to get mad.”

 

And this world of CX that we've kind of immersed ourselves in here, it's an emotional world. He thinks of times in his own life where he can remember either good or bad experiences with brands. And his blood gets boiling, really bothers him. And these are things he can remember from like 10 years ago.

 

So, he thinks it's so important for us to remember that in a time, particularly in a pandemic, in a time where everyone is feeling kind of raw, actually, and we're willing to then if we put our own feelings on a 10 point scale, he thinks that our capacity to feel at a 10 is actually heightened by the fact that we are in this kind of simmering state of anxiety.

 

And so, providing somebody with a very good experience can make someone feel amazing, providing something the very poor experience can make somebody maybe kind of tip over. And this will finally be the thing that I feel like I can scream about.

 

Me: Agreed. So, you touched on a few stuff that I thought was really, really interesting. One was you said that you thought that at the end of the day, even though you did a study and it was primarily reflective of the American consumer, you also think it's very cultural. And it's funny you said that because I do agree with you, but at the same time, you went ahead to then allude to the fact that Amazon has kind of set the bar so high and I'm doing some research for a customer experience management program I'm building for a client.

 

And in my research, one of the things that I realized was, no matter what industry you're in, whether are you're a bank or you're a supermarket or you're delivering pizza. Because Amazon has created technology or an experience by which you can just go online and press the button and within minutes or hours depending on what it is that you're ordering, you can get the item delivered to you. You can see where it is every step along the way, it's almost like consumers expect that same experience in other types of businesses, even if the business model is not similar to yours.

 

And I don't think that's specific to country. I don't think it's because Amazon is an American brand. I think Jamaicans have that expectation as well. Two nights ago, my godchildren's father called me and he asked me. So a lot of companies in Jamaica, especially the fast food restaurants, have been doing delivery services now. And companies like Kentucky Fried Chicken, for example, that never used to deliver in Jamaica, that was like something that we never thought we'd live to see. I couldn't understand why they wouldn't deliver just like pizza delivers, because when I did some research, KFC delivers in Trinidad, but it doesn't deliver here in Jamaica.

 

And I was like, well, if they can do it in Trinidad and population is less, why can't they do it here? Anyhow, he called and said that his wife ordered some food from like 6:30 pm and it was like 9:00 o'clock and the food hadn't come. And when he called the lady, the lady at the delivery place says to him, “Oh, but we told you 30 to 45 minutes.” I don't even know how giving that statement to the customer is relevant because we're now way past 45 minutes. Six thirty to 9:00 is way past what you would have told them to expect.

 

So at this point, he's so mad he wants a full refund and then they further said to him, it's going to take them 7 to 10 business days to process this refund. And remember when they took his money; I'm sure it didn't take 30 seconds to run that money off of his card or whatever payment, well, it would have to be off his card if it was a digital payment, because he did it through an app that he use on the phone.

 

But I'm saying this is say Daniel, you are correct because of the experience that Amazon has created for us and as I said, I don't think it's necessarily cultural. I think, generally speaking, regardless of the country that you are from, if you know of Amazon and you've done business with them, it's almost like your brain is saying to yourself, “Well, if Amazon has human beings that work in their organization and they're able to create these technologies that create this type of experience, why can't other businesses think like this and operate like these to create a similar kind of experience to make life less stressful for me, because there are other things that I have to worry about, and this would be one less thing for me to stress about.”

 

So I thought that was really, really brilliant. And I think all organizations should really be looking at benchmarking themselves, not against companies that are in the same industry as them, but even companies that are outside of their industry because that's what their customers are viewing their businesses.

 

Daniel shared that he totally agreed with that. And thanks Yanique for just sharing that anecdote as well. They actually we work with a large restaurant, quick serve restaurant. And they have an application and it's a very similar type of thing where you see a lot of times confusion that people have. And what was sad, they saw recently this really great kind of interaction with the brand they're helping out on helping them answer these customer inquiries. And somebody writes in with basically that same story like, “Hey, something got messed up with my order. It hasn't been here for way too long.”

 

And he thinks that the bar is currently so low, actually. Here's the saving grace. We don't want to give doom and gloom to everybody. But maybe the saving grace is that the bar is actually quite low in terms of reality and if you then are responsive to people and you are empathetic and this was another thing that their data showed is the relatability aspect.

 

So being empathetic, showing somebody that you're a human, which bots obviously struggle to do, and which is why people get frustrated with bots. And he’s not saying bots should never be used, but he’s saying and in certain instances, if you put a bot in front of somebody and they are unable to get their situation resolved, it will make them even more mad than they would have been in any other situation.

 

But when we talk about just that bar being kind of low, you give somebody a quick response, you immediately tell them, “Hey, I am so sorry that your food did not get there when it needed to. That must have been extremely frustrating. And you're probably hungry right now.”

 

You immediately have made the person feel validated because being validated is the cornerstone, he thinks, of being able to make somebody feel open to then working with you and coming back, so you start with that validation, which is, he thinks, the cornerstone of empathy. And then you give them that refund, you get that processed much more quickly and then what does that person do? And this is actually a real example, by the way.

 

So, they saw this exact example happen and this person wrote back 5 out of 5 star review on the CSAT survey. And then they write in and they say, “I just have to tell you, I didn't even think anyone was going to write me back. And you've totally blown me away.”

 

But that first initial idea that they had actually written in, they'd taken the time to write in to express their frustration and they still didn't even expect to hear back to him shows that there is a real disconnect between where people's bar is in terms of like, if you can get over this bar, you're going to actually satisfy people. And then if you can really go beyond it to just the expectation that we want to have for our consumers, that there's plenty of 5 star moments out there to be had.

 

Me: Agreed. So, true. So one of the things your study actually said, which I thought was really very important, reinforcing what you just said. So, “AI driven chatbots are making significant strides in providing Real-Time information to solve simple customer concerns. But it still remains important to the customer experience that a company brings empathy and humanity to each customer interaction.”

 

Because, as you said, bots are here to help us, the technology is there to help us. But at the end of the day, there are some circumstances that require human interaction. I honestly don't think that even though technology has advanced so much that the human element of a customer experience is ever, ever going to be void and null, it's still going to need some form of human interaction.

 

Daniel agreed and shared that a couple of years ago, they were living in the rage; AI bots are going to be able to completely take over multiple parts of the organization actually, it was customer success, it was also sales. He remembers hearing we're never going to need sales reps because the bots can do all the work.

 

And the reality is, we think of ourselves as a human enabled technology company and we think that there is a place for technology and we see companies and he’s not even talking about their own customers. They see big brands, there's a place for bots and it has certain limited scope. And it's an incredibly valuable way for them to reduce their overall cost of service.

 

And we see companies that then are using people to answer questions in an on brand way. And you really got a nail that kind of tone and brand. And you have to have the knowledge and the people have to have that knowledge. And we play that role; we play that role for companies. But there's different ways that companies do that. And then there's also always this like core team internally where things need to get escalated to, if something is really going bad, you really need to have some people that are inside the organization that might be able to move larger mountains if need be.

 

And so, that's kind of where things he thinks sit today. And he doesn't necessarily see a lot of companies saying, “What we really need is more bots.” He hears them say, “What we really need is fewer backlogs.” Because the backlogs are what is killing their customer satisfaction. And bots don't necessarily take away the backlog, they might give you an immediate quick responsiveness, but they won't necessarily be able to resolve the issue. And of course, if you don't resolve the issue, you don't really change the situation.

 

So, they see a lot of companies also really focused on resolution, first time resolution. Just resolving something is obviously important but if it takes you, “Hey, we're on chat and I can't help you, now email us and I'll get back to you in a few days and we'll work on this over the course of the next week.”

 

That's not okay, that is just not okay. And when he says it's not okay, the data reflects that CSAT scores are not good when that happens. So, they're really focused on and he thinks a lot of companies agree with this, really focused on getting that resolution to happen in that first interaction.

 

Things to Focus on to Give Great Customer Experience

 

Daniel shared that yes, he would say the First Time Resolution. And you accomplish a first time resolution by making sure that the people who are responding on your behalf are empowered to be able to resolve the issue that they are being asked to resolve.

 

So that's critically important. He would say another thing to do is around Relatability. Oftentimes, we have people that are doing the customer service response, they’re writing back and yet for a variety of reasons, whether it's the incentives we're giving them or whether it's a lack of directive, we are taking out their humanity from the interaction.

 

If we're just telling somebody, just get through this quickly and get it done, which is sometimes the way that we align the incentive, we then just get them to just do something really fast. And you can tell when you get an email when it's kind of fast, somebody is just being quick. And so, when he means relatability, he means empowering people to actually show that they're people and using that personality.

 

So, giving a potential anecdote, being able to be empathetic like we were talking about before, validating how somebody is feeling, it's hard for bots to do those things, credibly. They can do them maybe in a way that will get it right some of the time and then not some of the time. And that not some of the time is really a disaster, basically. So, this is where human beings, we have this capacity to allow somebody to have an emotional connection to what you're saying because you're showing your humanity and we need to encourage people to do that.

 

And the last that he’ll say is it is important to be able to be Reliable with your customers and where they want to be, the data does suggest this, and this is also where the world has been going. If you have chat and you cannot respond to people on chat, it's like what is worse, having it in the first place or giving people a terrible customer experience. It's like a two sides of the same thing. It's terrible because you're going to miss out on these presale opportunities by not having it and a lot of people just prefer to go in through chat for even for a post sale inquiry. But if you don't service it properly, it's a terrible experience.

 

Same thing with email. People offer up email and they should because many people like to email and they recognize that I'm going to send you an email and he thinks the expectation from what we can see, is the expectation is a day. If you're getting back to him in 24 hours on an email, that is about what he would expect. That's how he kind of think about it even in his own life in business. He writes somebody an email; he expects them to get back to him within 24 hours.

 

Me: Even if it's just an acknowledgement.

 

Daniel agreed and stated that just to be able to say I hear you right. Oftentimes in our customer service world, we end up giving people an automated response, just let them know I received your email and we will be getting back to you.

 

But, in the survey that they did, the average response time on email was 48 hours. He thinks that people recognize that that's probably not acceptable. He thinks that the bar for what we should be attempting to provide, it is attainable because where things currently are has plenty of room to get better. And I think that when you impress people, so if you then get back to people every time in less than 24 hours, every time, and you never create a backlog.

 

So, because you never want to have a backlog and because customers feel the backlog, the backlog means you can't get back to them for days or chat if your chats are piling up and he’s not talking about at 3:00 a.m. when for some strange reason somebody doesn't get back to a chat, maybe you can be forgiving of that. He’s talking about during a time where you expect somebody to be able to chat and they're piling up, that's a chat backlog. That's a disaster and those should be avoided at all costs.

 

 

App, Website or Tool that Daniel Absolutely Can’t Live Without in His Business

When asked about on online resource that he cannot live without in his business, Daniel shared that they use a technology called Gong to listen to their sales calls. And he will say that it has been very powerful. As somebody on the marketing side where they are really trying to support their sales team, make sure that they understand what their prospective customers are actually saying about their pain, what is that language and their ability to then provide the right information to their sales team so that they can be successful in those selling interactions.

 

Gong has been amazing because it allows them to asynchronously participate in the sales conversation, because they can listen to the calls, they can listen to them at faster than real time speed. So you can make it play at more than 1X speed, which is great, too, because it allows him to catch up on some things that at a faster pace. He can skip forward and listen, what they've done is within the Gong platform, they're using Natural Language Processing to tag what people are talking about.

 

So, when somebody is talking about pricing, when somebody is talking about positioning, He can kind of see where that is in the conversation so he can kind of skip forward to the things that are going to be really useful for him. If it's 2 minutes or 5 minutes at the beginning of just kind of set up time, he can see what that is because that's tag there so he can move past it. So Gong has been a real benefit to them, and he’s only assuming that also because of the pandemic, that it's even more useful because he can't easily just kind of hop in a room and join one of his sales teammates on a call.

 

Books That Have Had the Greatest Impact on Daniel

When asked about books that have had the biggest impact, Daniel shared that on the professional side, Tony Hsieh’s book, Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, which he loved, was 10 years ago. He still loves that book because he thinks in many ways, Tony's way of thinking about the business model as customer centric and obviously he also sold the business to Amazon, which at the time felt like, well, maybe that's not a win and if he's been holding onto that Amazon stock, most of us would think he's probably a billionaire at this point. But they were two companies cut from the same cloth because Amazon also has done the exact same thing and he has listened to podcasts and things where people from Amazon are talking about how do they think about solving business problems.

 

And they always start with the customer perspective. What will make the customer happier in this circumstance? And he thinks that that ethos and Tony just talks about this basically throughout the entire book, that ethos is what makes the whole discipline of CX a reality, it's not just your customer support function. You have to be thinking about this in every part of the company. Well, what would be better for the customer? And that informs what we do on the marketing side too, what you make this easier for the customer to be able to understand our value, understand what we do, how can we give them more useful information that will make their jobs easier? So, he loves that book.

 

On the personal side, he recently finished reading How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi and it's an amazing book. It he thinks gave him a lot more language to be able to understand the role that he needs to play in the world and how he’s going to be part of change that needs to happen and the role that policy needs to play and what he needs to do to support policy that is anti-racist so that we can dismantle the systemic racism that has plagued not only this country, obviously, but many parts of the world for a long time for centuries.

 

And so, he’s incredibly grateful for the scholarship of Ibram X. Kendi. He’s actually attending a seminar that he's putting on. So, he’s very, very excited about that book and if anybody else has read this book and is interested in talking about it, he’s very much looking to connect with people who are interested in this as a topic.

 

What Daniel is Really Excited About Now!

Daniel shared that the funny thing about a pandemic is that it can change a lot of the priorities of what you’re able to try to do or not do. One of the things that he’s passionate about is meditation. He started meditating about 10 years ago and has been meditating on a daily basis for close to 4 years at this point. So he's kind of gone on and off in the past with some different ways of doing it. And one of the things for those who have meditated regularly and have done so kind of alone, one of the things that he was realizing he was doing, he has been doing a guided meditation, a daily 10 minute guided meditation through an app called Calm. And there are different apps for this; Headspace is another app. WakingUp is an app that was recently introduced to him. There are lessons that are being broached and he wanted more opportunities to kind of talk about those, talk about those lessons and to reflect on them and hear other people's thoughts on them.

 

So, he feels like he has been doing this in kind of a siloed, personal way. And recently he brought this to Simplr and he said, “Hey, does anyone want to do a meditation?” He'll talk about why he’s into meditation and they can do one of these guided meditations through the through the app. And to his pleasant surprise, a bunch of people were very interested. And there were also a bunch of people that have meditated, either sporadically in the past or that meditate quite regularly for longer periods of time even more than he does.

 

So for now, they're starting a company meditation practice where they get together every couple of weeks, every two weeks, and they have a prompt that they are going to then reflect on and then when they get together, they are going discuss what was covered in that prompt as a way of trying to deepen their own practice and understanding. And also just to get to know people on a kind of a different level. So, really, really excited about the things that they can do that will bring them together while obviously, they can't actually see anybody face to face.

 

Where Can We Find Daniel Online

Daniel shared listeners can find him at –

LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/drodriguez4/

 

Quote or Saying that During Times of Adversity Daniel Uses

When asked if he has a quote or saying that he reverts to in times of adversity or challenge, Daniel shared that in meditation, he thinks so much of what he’s trying to do is actually just come back to the present and come back to the breath. So, he actually really like to remind himself to just breathe and then to actually do it. And oftentimes, if he’s feeling overwhelmed, if he just focuses on that feeling of his breath and just tell himself the word breathe, that it has an incredible effect. So, he will just leave everybody with the single word, “Breathe”

 

Me: That's brilliant. It's funny you said that because I have an Apple Watch and every now and again I see the breathe thing comes up on it and it says breathe. I guess it's reminding me to breathe. I don't know if it's built into the watch like that or maybe it picks up that my body energy needs to kind of cool down, I have no idea. But yes, breathing definitely does help. I don't know if I intentionally sit down and breathe from time to time because I do meditate sporadically. But breathing, it can definitely create clarity for you; it causes you to kind of just slow down and as you said, brings you back to the present. I have actually experienced that on many, many occasions.

 

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Sep 22, 2020

Daniel Ramsey is the founder and CEO of MyOutDesk, the highest-rated Virtual Assistant company in the marketplace with over 500 5-star reviews and over 13 years of experience serving more than 6000 clients.

 

Daniel founded MyOutDesk during the last global financial crisis of 2008 to help businesses leverage the remote workplace and scale businesses with Virtual Assistants. In 13 years with MyOutDesk, Daniel has helped thousands of clients scale their businesses and grow profitability. He has worked with some of the largest companies in some of the fastest growing industries.

 

Daniel has had the opportunity to work with many of the largest sales organizations, technology startups, insurance, real estate and healthcare companies and he's willing to share all those lessons with you.

 

Questions

  • Could you share a little bit about your journey?
  • A lot of our listeners probably are thinking would a Virtual Assistant suit me? How do you know if that's really an avenue that you should explore? What are some of the key indicators that would kind of trigger you to say, this is something I could look into?
  • Are you saying then that your Virtual Assistant doesn't necessarily have to be in Jamaica? And what if that insurance advisor has concerns about cultural fit? How does your company integrate all of that?
  • How do you get the customers to embrace technology if it's not something that they were incorporating into their strategy or their execution prior to Covid-19? How do you get them to learn the technology, to feel comfortable using the technology, to feel comfortable asking their customers to engage with the technology if it's something that they're not accustomed to?
  • So, in terms of your Virtual Assistant competencies and capabilities, is it just in the administrative spare or do you do like accounts, marketing, sales? What aspects of Virtual Assistant does your company provide?
  • If you could choose a client that you've used currently in the past that utilized your services and, you know, just that tangible example that we could share with the audience so they could see how it is that using a Virtual Assistant was able to transform either in terms of dollars or in terms of time or in terms of just productivity. How did that look like for them? Just if you could share one real example.
  • Could you share with us how you stay motivated every day?
  • Could you share with us maybe one of your online resources, tools, website or apps that you absolutely cannot live without in your business?
  • Could you share with us maybe one or two books that have had the biggest impact on you? It could be a book that you read many years ago that still has a great impact on you to this day or could even be a book that you read recently.
  • Can you share with us what's one thing that's going on in your life right now - either something you're working on to develop yourself or your people?
  • Where can we find you online?
  • Do you have a quote or saying that during times of adversity or challenge, you will revert to this quote. It helps to push them forward, get you unstuck. Do you have one of those?

Highlights

Daniel’s Journey

Me: I think it's quite fascinating that your business was formed out of our last major financial crisis. So maybe tell us a little bit about that journey and how your journey of prior to your business got you to where you were and how you've been doing over the last 13 years and how this crisis that we're currently in or we're being propelled into is impacting your business. And just a little bit about who you are.

 

Daniel shared that what he loves is the story is not over complicated. He’s an entrepreneur, he was building a business and at the time, 2001 to 2006, they're really building an amazing business because the market was hot, they were in expansion stage. And as an entrepreneur, he thought he was doing really well. He was very proud of himself, he was young, and he was in his 20s.

 

And he, like many entrepreneurs, he hadn't held a good job for a long time and so he built this business. And then the 2007 crash happened and at that time, he had three offices, lots of salespeople, lots of administrative staff. And literally in one quarter they had 90% of their revenue go away. And at that moment, he’s scratching his head and he’s like, “Maybe I should go get a job. Maybe this isn't working for me.”

 

And that was a momentary thought that came in and then went and he said, “No, I'm going to stick this out.” So, they stuck this out. They found new customers, new clients, at that time the market massively shifted and if you can remember that it was his first time ever being really impacted, much like many businesses today are being impacted.

 

So they figured out who their new customers were, where their new place in the marketplace was and they started to grow again. And in that growth, what he was worried about was he needed to stay profitable, he needed to take a paycheck home. And a friend of his started talking to him about Virtual Assistants and turns out he was about to hire five. And he toyed with Virtual Assistants, he had a couple in his business at that time and he turned to him and said, “Why don't you help me find five people?”

 

And literally MyOutDesk was born because his friend Christian Peter said, “I need some virtual assistants, just like you have.” And so, MyOutDesk was born, they steadily grew over the next couple of years. And what they do primarily is they help businesses, entrepreneurs C-Suite people, get some of their time back. That's really what they're focused on doing, is helping businesses grow and scale by adding high caliber talent to your team so you can grow and scale your business.

 

 

Enhancing Customer Experience with a Virtual Assistant

Me: Amazing. In this global pandemic that we're all going through, right. A lot of businesses are focused on how it is that they can enhance their customer experience. And, of course, you know, our show is Navigating the Customer Experience. And I guess a lot of our listeners probably are thinking would a Virtual Assistant suit me? How do you know if that's really an avenue that you should explore? What are some of the key indicators that would kind of trigger you to say, this is something I could look into?

 

Daniel shared that it’s a great question and he wants to start by giving the audience their thesis to customer experience and when he says their thesis, really, he believes the customer experience starts with setting of expectations. In fact, everything in their business aligns around, “Does the customer understand our product and service? Are we clear about what we can deliver? And are we a good fit? Are we a good match for our customer?”

 

And in their business, nothing goes sideways when everybody's clear about the job. Everybody's clear about how they're going to help. If the customer has a realistic onboarding and a good system, then they typically don't have customer experience issues.

 

So in their world, they define customer experience as really the setting of expectations. And that starts on their website that starts in the emails that they send out to their customers. And then, as they prospect and they find people who are willing to meet with them and do a consultation.

 

It starts in that first conversation. What are your needs? What are some of your thoughts or concerns or what's your system look like? Who's on your team today? So, they go through a really dedicated deep dive into businesses explaining what their service is.

And then they ask the customer, “Are you set up to train somebody? Do you have the right system in place? What tech tools do you have currently?”

 

One crazy thing is that their customers, they run the gamut of being very sophisticated techie people. And then also, they have customers who this is their first time doing a Zoom, for instance. And they've never built on a customer experience that isn't a handshake, that's one challenge right now in the pandemic.

 

Most small and medium sized businesses, they're relational selling. They're in that relational space and right now, as we transition to this digital world, many people are struggling. And so, their role is to help businesses find talent and buy back some of their time. And so, that one thing is kind of their driving force for everybody that they hire, all the customers that they bring in and that's how they kind of think about customer experience.

 

Me: Brilliant. So, basically trying to save someone time.

 

Daniel agreed and shared that if you're right now busy, you're an entrepreneur. And he constantly thinks if he had more time, He could do anything. And that's kind of what they hope, is that their customers are thinking, “Okay, I need help. I know I need help. My team needs help. We're struggling in this. We're struggling with implementation of clients or we're struggling with setting of expectations or we need more help with our digital brand.” Whatever your need is, their job is in this process is to help you buy some of that time back.

 

And to the second question, customer experience. What they believe in in terms of the team for a customer experience team is that many of the things that your customers are experiencing can be helped with a Virtual Assistant. So, they believe in a blended model where some of your people are US and in the States and then some are in their case, they're in the Philippines. And maybe half of your customer experience team is in the Philippines.

 

And because of that blended model, not only are you saving money, but you're able to cover the 24/7 if you need it, weekends, evenings, and also have multiple people on the staff. So it's not just a small team, you can actually build a fairly large team and be cost effective about it.

 

Concerns of Culture Fit When Integrating a Virtual Assistant

Me: Okay, so let's say, for example, you are a company that is based in Jamaica, I live in Jamaica and I know a lot of people listen to the podcast all over the world. I think we are listened to in over 87 countries globally, which is really cool. But let's say your company is based in Jamaica and let's say you're a financial organization and you have a contact center or maybe you're an insurance advisor and you're looking to get a Virtual Assistant. Are you saying then that your Virtual Assistant doesn't necessarily have to be in Jamaica? And what if that insurance advisor has concerns about cultural fit? How does your company integrate all of that?

 

Daniel stated that that is a great question and it's like Yanique is reading his mind. These are definitely the things that they help customers make in terms of consideration like, “Who's on the team? How am I going to integrate a Virtual Assistant and how am I going to teach?” Maybe if you're talking about a financial or even insurance, there are licensing requirements. So, you have to have a license in order to serve a customer and sell them a security or an insurance product.

 

So they're definitely not providing licensed people. But what they are is, they're helping the licensed people elevate the level of work that they're doing. So when you're a licensed person and let's say you have 5 or 10 years of experience or even 20, guess what? You've seen every kind of risk and you've seen every type of investment. And your secret sauce is helping people build that financial wealth or protect their assets if you're an insurance person.

 

But it's not helping people reset their passwords or get access to their online profile or even scheduling an appointment with you or getting another statement or in the insurance world, getting a certification out. All of those things are administrative or customer experience or service related and for the vast majority of companies, they can help in that space, there are some tools and techniques that you have to implement. But that's what their consultation is all about.

 

They'll sit down with the business, with all the key stakeholders, and they'll determine, like, “Hey, maybe you need to implement Zoom meetings. Maybe you need to have an internal platform like Skype or Asana or Microsoft Teams or whatever the platform is that you're on.” Slack is another great one. But they've been remote for 13 years and they've helped companies create blended customer experience teams since their beginning, basically.

 

And the one thing that people always say is, “Wow, I didn't know that this would actually work. Could you help me in this other department, sales or marketing or maybe ops?” And so, they've had the pleasure of helping over 6000 businesses in the last 13 years. And it's amazing what is possible with the way technology is today.

 

Getting Customers to Embrace Technology

Daniel stated that here's the reality. They don't coach the customer; they don't try to talk them into it, they just simply explain best practices. So, somebody comes to them and says, “I don't have a CRM or I don't have a digital strategy and I need to transform.”

 

Then they'll help them develop a plan. In fact, he was on the call with a really great entrepreneur yesterday and he called and he says, “Hey, we're really having success in this one state and we're about to go nationally.” And they started talking, his name was Bill. He said, “What's your plan, Bill? Would you have it written down?” And he's like, “Well, I've got it in my head and I'm trying to write it down.”

 

So he and Daniel just strategized for a good 30 minutes actually. They talked through what his system needs to look like, what kind of technology he needs to employ, some of the challenges and the roadblocks that he's going to run into. So they've done this so many times that they're all very simple standard steps, so they aim and he helped him.

 

And his (Daniel) company is focused on when you have a plan; they'll help you fulfil the people portion of your plan. And customers that embrace this digital world and are okay with technology, those are their ideal customers, their ideal clients and the folks who need help or aren't quite yet sure what should happen, they’ll help them develop a plan, watch them go execute and when they're ready for talent, when they're ready to buy some of their time back, then they're here for them.

 

Aspects of a Virtual Assistant

When asked what aspects of Virtual Assistant his company provides, Daniel stated that that's a challenging question and he'll give you an example. They have a boat broker in Florida and he hired a Virtual Assistant to help him with a marketing campaign around every time he sells a multimillion dollar boat, he wants everybody in the world to know about it, and then he wants his customers to land on his website and see all of his boats online.

 

So, they have a very diverse customer base but he wants people on the podcast to know that they primarily help in four areas. So if you're listening right now, you don't have to write any of this down, he’s going to give away a copy of their free book. They actually wrote a book helping people implement Virtual Assistants into their business, regardless of where you're at.

 

So, whether you're in the UK, Australia, Puerto Rico, doesn't matter. These principles and this practice all works the same. So if Yanique is okay with it, he'll give away a copy of that book towards the end of their time together.

 

But the four areas think about sales, marketing, operations and customer service and support. Those are their four main pillars of folks that they hire. And every business needs those four areas.

 

So, they're pretty blessed and happy. And this pandemic has been really challenging for companies around the globe. And they only want to serve and help customers. So to the question, the digital marketing, they spent two months really outlining their digital strategy for Virtual Assistants. Like this is how you can use a Virtual Assistant in your digital strategy. And so they outlined all of that on their blog, they've outlined that in their book and they consistently put out content to help their clients succeed. And you can you can all check that out at www.myoutdesk.com

 

Me: Brilliant. Sounds fabulous. So, you said your four pillars are administration, marketing, operations and customer service and support. So marketing and sales are kind of one.

 

Daniel agreed and mentioned that in their world, they view marketing as inbound digital marketing, so anything that's on the web or in social media. And then sales is really prospecting out to customers and having conversations. So think of it like digital marketing is the worm on the hook. You throw the worm out into the ocean and you've got your hook, that's your marketing plan and then the sales team, they're the people who reel in the customers with having good conversations and making sure that that particular lead or potential customer is a good fit for their service or product. So they've got those kinds of dual roles.

 

Using Virtual Assistant to Transform an Organization

They've got a customer, his name is Nolly and he is a speaker, author, trainer. And he travels the world giving presentations on really building business. And he had built his own technology stack for his company and he'd built basically a (CRM) Customer Relationship Management platform. And he'd built that CRM a decade ago and it was in an interesting position because his customers use the CRM, his teaching and platform was around the powerfulness of combining like sales, process and systems and technology in order to really grow and scale businesses.

 

And so, when he came to them, he was like, “Look, I've hired 3 or 4 people, they've all been great for 6 to 9 months and then they've moved on.” Meaning, he was stuck in two places. He needed to invest more money in his CRM to bring it up to date because it was built almost 10 years ago and it was time to do a refresh and an update on the user interface. And then he had another need that he needed somebody to help him with this customer experience, meaning, people would sign on and then not be able to use the platform and then they just disappear over time. And so, they talked at length about how he was going to either have to step in and run the business or hire somebody who's really great at customer onboarding and customer service over time.

 

And so, they actually found him a guy named Chris and Chris has now been with him almost 5 years. And Chris runs everything in the customer experience department for this technology company from onboarding new clients, taking credit cards, answering questions or opening tickets and solving and resolving them. And so, this guy Nolly, he didn't want to step in and handle the customer service portion of his business and he really needed to buy some of his time back because he was busy traveling the world and speaking in front of large audiences.

 

So, what he (Daniel) would encourage everybody on today's podcast to do and this is a simple exercise, they call it the sticky challenge. And he knows you can't see him right now, but he has got in his hand a pile of stickies, just the yellow stickies that you buy at any office supply company.

 

And he wants you to follow yourself around or have maybe your leadership team do it or your managers within your business follow yourself around with stickies and then ask yourself this one simple question, “Am I working in the business or on the business? Am I just doing the things that need to happen every day that are important but really don't grow the business? Or Am I working on growth initiatives? Am I working on the most important work?” And then write those tasks down and follow yourself around sticky.

 

So a good friend of theirs did this. She ran a South American investment company and she had her entire team do the sticky challenge. And after doing the sticky challenge for several weeks, she comes back and says, “Oh, my goodness, Daniel. I'm working 60 hours a week. And more than half of my time is on stupid tasks that actually don't drive revenue or add value to my business.”

 

And just by sitting back and reflecting through her time and through what she was doing every day, literally, she was like, “I was on Facebook for 30 minutes every single day. And when I looked at it, I wasn't writing on Facebook, I wasn't using it as a lead generation, I was just surfing on Facebook.”

 

And so, what he’s encouraging everybody to do is really step back and ask yourself, “Am I doing the most important, most valuable work in my business or am I doing stuff that I should delegate down or give away?” You do that for a couple of weeks and you'll really start to find opportunity to hire a Virtual Assistant and really help you grow your business.

 

How Daniel Stays Motivated

When asked how he stays motivated, Daniel stated that that's a great question. And he thinks it's funny, too, because he was just born motivated. But he’s definitely like any anybody; they need to keep in routines. Like a car, if you forget to put oil or gas or water, the car breaks down. So in his case, he exercises a lot. Playing soccer is one of his favourite things. He’s a wrestling coach, a local high school wrestling coach. He contributes 25 hours a week when he can because Covid-19, they're not going to do wrestling until next year now.

 

But his normal routine is a lot of exercise. He has a morning quiet time where he sits in a hot tub and he does a meditation and a lot of journaling. And his other pillar is that he’s very consistent with his time blocking. So, on the schedule, family time, personal time, work time, customer time. So those are the three things, staying physically in good shape, having a mental game, meditation, yoga, just some quiet time in the morning and then being really consistent with his calendar and schedule.

 

 

App, Website or Tool that Daniel Absolutely Can’t Live Without in His Business

In terms of online resources, Daniel stated that he’s not going to give one; he’s going to give you a couple that are really important when you go remote or have a digital kind of background. First, he always prefers face to face conversations. So, they do a lot of video conferencing. So, have a video conferencing app, have a VOIP phone system so that you can have your Virtual Assistant and your team, regardless of where they are, actually communicate both phone calls, text messages and it's really important to have kind of that system set up.

 

Me: And which ones do you recommend as the better ones to use if you were to engage in a VOIP system?

 

Daniel shared that they're all pretty much created equally. They use RingCentral internally because it connects to their CRM sales force. But there are several out there. The most important thing is there's no latency and so he'll give some suggestions there. Latency means in the Philippines, which is their country of operations, there are servers for RingCentral. So, the servers where the phone is transmitted are actually in Asia and so therefore, there's no latency when you make calls or you have your 1-800 number, for instance, routed to somebody in the Philippines, that's probably the most important consideration.

 

But also connecting to your CRM or your customer experience tool, that's a very big deal. So, integration is a big deal and native integration so that it's not through an API of like Zapier or something.

 

And the last one is always a task management platform. He can't tell you how freeing it is to have something, they use Monday, and they use Basecamp for projects. There's a company called Asana which is great. Slack has a good one. But you need some sort of a tool for keeping track of all of the individual tasks, as well as all the projects that you have going within a business. And those three, if you implement those three things into your business, you're probably ahead of the curve in most major businesses right now.

 

Me: How do you feel about scheduling app? If you have to schedule meetings with customers, do those platforms allow for scheduling or do what you need to go outside of those platforms for scheduling?

 

Daniel shared that there's Calendly and they use something called ScheduleOnce. He likes those things because they help automate the process. But also, he’s very cognizant of sometimes it's just great to pick up the phone and have a conversation with your customers or clients. So, he uses scheduling apps that tie in to their websites and tie into like their calendars and tie into their CRM. And he thinks there's a place for that. There's ease of use, your customers can choose to either schedule it like that or give you a call. And he thinks there's some powerfulness in that, especially as you're scaling and growing.

 

But nothing replaces a great, good old fashioned conversation. And he’s the guy with that. He really, really loves talking to customers and helping them and hearing their experience and seeing what they need to do. And he loves Yanique’s mission, “Creating a more caring world.” He thinks that's great. One of their core values as a company is just having a servant's heart. So their job is to serve their customers and help them grow and attain their goals in life. So they share that very positive outlook.

 

 

Books That Have Had the Greatest Impact on Daniel

Daniel shared that he loves all the business books, and if you're new in the entrepreneurial world or if you're kind of driving toward success, Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It...and Why the Rest Don’t (Rockefeller Habits 2.0) by Verne Harnish is a great business book. It's one of his favourite books. It's written by a billionaire guy who really did a great job of explaining the process of growing and scaling a company.

 

But The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey. Another great book, The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy by Thomas J. Stanley. He loves The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason. A lot of the books that are out there are written to tell a story.

 

And whenever they're in story mode, he really gets into them and he loves reading those books. But, The Richest Man in Babylon, he'll give you a quick synopsis of that book. It talks about not taking risks financially, when you take a bet, it's not that it can be a short thing, but you really want to protect your nest egg or your business or your bank account.

 

And so, in his world, he finds a lot of value in that because a lot of entrepreneurs make decisions out of expediency, meaning they want the result right now versus the long game, which the long game is hard. So, he finds the struggle to be good, he likes to embrace that struggle, he likes to be part of that struggle, he likes to be in the struggle with their customers. And so, that book for him is awesome.

 

What Daniel is Really Excited About Now!

Daniel shared that he’s doing a lot of mastermind's now. So, they just launched an entire new kind of content strategy around building a mastermind, what they look like and really a virtual mastermind. So, being in conversation with people, your peers and really helping them grow and they're in the process right now of doing an initial call mastermind to augment their customer experience. So, because they're on a customer experience podcast, he thought this would be an interesting example.

 

They'll pull 10 customers together, for instance, brand new customers, and then ask them how it's going and then add value to them and teaching them, “Hey, this is the system that you need, or here's an example of somebody else who's tried to do that. And here's one that failed and here's one that succeeded.”

 

And so, the job is to give people a bit of a peer accountability, as well as a peer group to bounce ideas off of, but as well as just having a safe place to discuss obstacles and how to remove them and how to really grow and scale.

 

So they're offering that to their customers now as they are in the initial phases of onboarding a virtual assistant. And he’s really excited about it because it's really a different approach for them. It's a way of adding value at a higher level than they've ever done in the past. So, that's his newest experiment right now.

 

Where Can We Find Daniel Online

Daniel shared listeners can find him at –

Website – www.myoutdesk.com

                 www.myoutdesk.com/scale/

 Twitter - https://twitter.com/MyOutDesk

 LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/company/my-outdesk/

 

Daniel shared that there is a text code if your listeners are in the US or North America, Canada, you can actually text them 31996, that’s the phone number to put in the text. And in the message you'd put SVP (Scale with Virtual Professionals).

 

If you text that message, you'll get a copy of their book and you'll get in contact with them. And they'd be happy to serve anybody who's listening today and thinks that maybe you could buy some of your time back.

 

Quote or Saying that During Times of Adversity Daniel Uses

When asked about a quote or saying that he’ll revert to during challenge, Daniel shared that he’s giving away their secret sauce. Whenever he finds a customer or a friend who's an entrepreneur or a business is stuck in a particular spot, he always ask this question. He asked them, “If they could wave a magic wand and have the problem disappear or have the business double or really start to see some traction and growth and scale, what would you have to start doing, stop doing? And who do you need on your team?”

 

He'll give you some perspective there. When a billionaire goes to buy a sports team, she or he doesn't say, “I'm going to run the football team or I'm going to be the manager of the team.” They buy the sports team and then they think, who do I need on my team in order to win the Super Bowl or win the next series or whatever? The billionaire never thinks, “I'm going to be the manager or I'm going to be the team captain.” They never think that.

 

And unfortunately, a lot of entrepreneurs do. So the question again is, “What do I need to stop doing, start doing and who do I need on my team in order to grow and double my business?” If you ask yourself that one question, you'll start to see some big change.

 

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Links

 

The ABC’s of a Fantastic Customer Experience

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The ABC's of a Fantastic Customer Experience provides 26 easy to follow steps and techniques that helps your business to achieve success and build brand loyalty.

This Guide to Limitless, Happy and Loyal Customers will help you to strengthen your service delivery, enhance your knowledge and appreciation of the customer experience and provide tips and practical strategies that you can start implementing immediately!

This book will develop your customer service skills and sharpen your attention to detail when serving others.

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Sep 15, 2020

Jim Tincher, CCXP, is a nationally recognized customer experience thought leader, journey mapping expert, keynote speaker and author. Jim led customer experience programs at Best Buy and United Health Group before launching his innovative CX consultancy, Heart of the Customer, which helps start-ups to Fortune 50 organizations use voice of the customer research to improve loyalty and boost revenue. His book, How Hard Is It to Be Your Customer?, is considered a must-read for CX-focused leaders, and Live Help Now, Support Be Influencer Marketing, CustomerThink, Feedspot, and LitmusWorld have all named Jim a customer experience influencer to follow.

 

Questions

 

  • Can you tell us a little bit about your journey, how it is that you got to where you are?
  • How is it that you as an expert in this area, could maybe give us some tips as to how an organization can digital look at digitally transforming but ensuring that their team members are also on board with digital transformation?
  • Now, as a customer journey map expert. Could you tell us if you are an organization and you've never done journey mapping before or let's say you did it 5 years ago, what's the recommended time for you to revisit it, to make sure that all the touch points are operating the way they should?
  • What are your thoughts on embracing the power of being digital to the core to enhance customer experience and improving personalization in the process?
  • What are your thoughts on companies that do have different channels? So they operate on multichannels, but they're not operating on an omnichannel perspective where everything is integrated, how can they go about doing that and do you think that's the best approach?
  • How do you get employees motivated? What if they're like, “They're bringing in all of these systems, you have to learn all of these new things, and I’m not getting any new pay for it. I don't feel motivated.” How do you get them engaged, motivated, feel like they're a part of the process? Do they need to be included in the decision making or is it a case where you just roll it out and say, listen, this is a new path we're taking?
  • Could you share with us how do you stay motivated every day?
  • Could you share with us maybe an app, website or tool that you use in your business that you absolutely can't live without?
  • Could you share with us maybe one or two books that have had the biggest impact on you? It could have been a book that you read many years ago or maybe about that you read recently that has read had a great impact on you.
  • Can you share with us maybe something that you're working on now - it could be something that you're working on to develop yourself or something that you're working on to develop your people.
  • Where can they find you online?
  • Do you have a quote or saying that during times of adversity or challenge that you will typically revert to this quote - it kind of helps you to refocus, get you back on track? Do you have one of those?

Highlights

Jim’s Journey

Jim shared that he doesn't know why he has always been focused on the customer. He remembered his very first job out of school; he was in technical support and on vacation he wanted to go visit a customer where he was visiting his now wife at her home in Connecticut. And he wanted to go visit a customer while he was there and people said, “Why? Go on vacation.” But it's just the way he has always thought. He went from there to small business and went to Best Buy. If you're in small business, you have to be customer obsessed or you don't survive. Similarly, Best Buy very much focus on that.

 

And then he went to a new organization and he naively thought everybody was customer focused and found out there were other methods, literally nobody in a marketing or product development group had ever met a client and he was amazed by that. And as a result, they had the most complex products in the marketplace because they were building the products they wanted to buy. And their customers were giving them feedback that this is way too complex, people don't want all this all these features, that they want it nice and simple.

 

But again, because they didn't have customer feedback, they were building really complex products. And it really came to light when they went out and talked to their customers. So, they divided them into customers who are really successful with their products and those who are struggling. And he created a program called Hug Your Customers, which, by the way, sounds really good until you have a sales rep call a customer to say, “Hey, we want to do a Hug Your Customers meeting with you.” They're Minnesotan's, they don't normally hug, it gets a little awkward.

 

So, they changed to collecting best practices. But he started taking their executives out to meet the clients and what they realized was that the clients that were struggling were the ones who were using their materials and following their advice and the ones who are most successful, the ones who are ignoring our advice and making their own materials. Now, that's a hard lesson, but luckily, because he was bringing the leadership out to hear firsthand, he didn't have to beat them over the head with that and they learned on their own. And that really has been the foundation of their work today.

 

Now, what really led for him to start the company is the fact that he got fired a lot because he remembered one VP saying, “Jim, you make a lot of noise.” He does make a lot of noise because they were just so inward focused and he was trying to change the culture.

 

And one of the things he learned as he was trying to change the culture from the bottom up, and that does not work. You need those pieces, but you have to start with the top and that was one of the lessons that really informed them at Heart of the Customer is that they help an organization think about their customers. They have to engage in leadership from the beginning and that was a lesson he learned the hard way by trying to start with a bottoms up approach.

 

Me: It's almost like your experiences have literally helped to mold who you are, drive the different aspects that you've envisioned for customer experience, especially with helping your clients to realize their own customer journeys. One of the biggest things that a lot of organizations have been focused on, especially since the pandemic, is their customer journey. They've been looking at their customer journey from end to end and they've also been looking at how it is that because of the pandemic and we're literally forced.

 

A lot of organizations had I think some companies had been proactive enough to look and see that their customer behaviours were changing and they were adapting pretty well. But some companies were still back operating as if it were in 1995, early 2000. And they fully had not transformed a lot of their customer behaviours into how their business functions.

 

Digital Transformation Tips

Jim shared that's huge and we should break those into a couple of different pieces. The digital part is accelerating. They had a customer experience event earlier in the week and a speaker from Target who was saying that they're 2030 goals now have to be realized this year. There was such a move towards digital now with a Coronavirus that's had causd them to have to pivot very quickly. And they're seeing that across the board.

 

What's beneficial, their clients have already taken the time to learn what their customer needs and what are the moments of truth in the journey so they can build digital platforms that allow customers to be more successful by understanding those moments of truth as well as those friction points. And they find that's really critical, that if you take a broken process and digitize it, all you get is a broken digitized process and you're not helping anybody.

 

So, it's really critical back there to understand what are those key needs of my customers first? And so, what they've been doing is during this time, even if the output is to be digital, which it often is, what's more important is to understand what are those customers needs in any online or offline environment?

 

What are their challenges? What are the points of friction today? And to use that to design the digital. We are people first, digital second, and leaders tend to forget that, they seem to think that we're all digital people and we just need digital tools. No, we need to solve the human need first and use a digital platform to do that.

 

Me: Ok, so we have to solve the human need first. So, I'd like some practical examples. I see in your just from your bio that retail and healthcare are areas that you have a lot of experience with. So maybe you could give us one from each. Maybe just how it is that you could put the human need first, what does that look like in a real life business example?

 

Jim shared that although it's been interesting because their customer base, the Heart of the Customer, has not been so much retail, they do a lot of healthcare work, a lot of B2B and B2C work. So, with business customers or as an intermediary to the customer. But one of the things they are finding across the board in almost any industry is the need for operational transparency. And he’s going to back that up, what does he mean by that?

 

And it's really the world's humankind's second most awesome invention after fire is the Domino's Pizza Tracker. It's amazing how many people they talked to want a Domino's Pizza Tracker for everything, and they find most organizations are not providing that operational transparency.

 

So, they're to go back 5 or 6 years in time, he doesn't remember when exactly the pizza tracker came out. He can come up with an app that could show you when your dough is put down and who is putting down the dough, and when somebody puts on sauce, somebody puts on ingredients, toss it in the oven. You just said, “Why would I want that? That’s daft.”

 

But when it showed up, people say, “Oh, I love that, in fact, I want to know if I'm applying for life insurance, I want to know what's happening.” They call it Operational Transparency and there's a great Harvard Business Review article on this, very influential to our thinking. But when organizations provide operational transparency to their customers, the customers feel the organization treats them more fairly, even if the outcome is bad, let's an use example of life insurance. Even if they're declined, they feel better about the process because they had visibility into it. And it removes a lot of anxiety.

 

They find that's true in almost every industry. They work with distributors who are providing materials to their clients, when they can provide operational transparency to when the order is placed, when products are shipped. Amazon clearly does this quite well, in the business environment; it's not often done as well.

 

They started to see it coming through a little bit more through some transparency in health insurance. If he submits a claim, he wants to know where that claim is, he wants to be able to see where it's working its way through, and he wants that transparency. So that's what they're finding across the board.

 

He mentioned that he didn't answer another part of the question going back, so he wants to circle back. And Yanique asked about the digital piece, but also asked, how do they get people to actually implement and understand customer needs and to actually put in place the processes needed.

 

And this is critical to their entire practice. They build everything they do around change management. And with that, they have a chapter in the book specifically about how to apply change management principles to journey mapping. Now, a number of years ago, it's been like 4 years. They did a survey on companies regarding their success in Journey Mapping, and he’s a journey mapping geek, his license plate is literally, “JRNY MAP”

 

So, last week they drove down to Texas and dropped off the car to his youngest, that would be the fastest plates you have ever seen swapped out because there's no way Jared wants to have journey map on that car. So, he’s a geek and they did a survey, he thought that everybody, when they asked how successful you were, would give you a 4 or 5, which clearly journey mapping works.

 

Everybody is going to say it's successful, not what they found. What they found is that only about 1 out of 3 did that. Another 1 out of 3 gave it a 1 to 3 and another one third said it's too soon to tell. Now, they just updated the data. They did another survey coming out here, more about journey management and the numbers are even worse. They're finding that only about 15% are saying that they are really successful. Most, 45%, so that’s literally most are saying it's too soon to tell which is not suggesting it's trending well.

 

If you spend US $125,000, US $150,000 which is what it takes to do Journey Mapping right, and you tell your boss, if your boss asks you, “Hey, did that work?” And you say, “Oh, I don’t know, it's too soon to tell.” That's not a good conversation.

 

They find that most organizations are doing the mapping and they're not being successful because they haven't thought about change management. What change management means and they did this research. They found the most important factors in being successful are first of all, knowing what it is you're trying to map, going after an actual business problem. They've had people tell them their business problem is they don't have a journey map.

 

That's not a business problem; they’ve had other people say their biggest problem is their survey scores are low, although that's not a business problem. We are losing customers, customers are not using us for this one type of product, we have a lot of people calling in, which is costly to them and to us, and those are business problems. So, it starts with going after a business problem because that's how you engage executives.

 

Second of all, then is involving customers in the process, which they should not have to talk about it, it's called customer journey mapping for a reason. They ran across all these consultants and as well as practitioners who think that if you take a bunch of employees, you put them in a room and give them post-it notes, we got a customer journey map. Not true. Well, they found when they do that because that is part of their process early on is that they get really good answers that are wrong.

 

Everybody thinks they know the customer journey but when they match that up against what customers actually tell them, there is a huge mismatch between the two. Because you are just reacting to part of the journey you see and very few employees can actually articulate the entire journey and are actually missing what's most important to customers.

 

So, second part is involving customers. But the third one, which is actually the most important, is who's on the team. If we go back to this, they don't involve their digital team and they mapped the journey and they come up with all these new digital items they need, you go to them and say, “Hey, we have this beautiful journey map.” Telling you all these things you need to do differently.

 

Well, they're not going to listen to you. Why should they? They've got their own list of things. But if you involve them in the process, you get them as part of it, that's when the magic happens and even more importantly, is involving leadership, getting the leaders to be part of the project, getting them to talk to customers, that's when you start to embed it inside of a culture.

 

Me: That makes sense. Would you suggest everybody should be involved, at least all of the different touch points that could possibly impact the customer?

 

Jim agreed and shared that they usually have about 30 people involved in their projects, sometimes more across the organization.

 

Me: And let's say for an organization with that size of maybe 2500 employees, let’s say they are a financial institution, they have a bank, they have an insurance arm, they have an investment arm. In a case like that, if they're really trying to do a transformational journey it would be recommended that all the leaders from the different business units are involved.

 

Mike mentioned that it sounds like Yanique has a particular customer or company in mind.

 

Me: No, not necessarily. But I just want to use a specific example, because I do have some of the persons that listen to this podcast that are in that line of business. So it would be good for them to specifically hear, because sometimes you read books, Jim, and the books speak at a very high level, but they're not bringing it down on a granular level to where you are in the organization.

 

“I am the marketing associate in the marketing department and I think if we do this in a digital way it will help to influence our marketing efforts.” But how does that transcend into the entire journey from end to end? And is it connected with the other departments on how it is that they are feeding information to the customers from their units? That's where I'm trying to get at so that everybody listening understands that it's not just a responsibility of one department.

 

Jim agreed and shared that first of all, it comes back to what's the business problem you're trying to solve, and likely you're actually not going to involve all three of those groups because the business problem typically doesn't go across the bank, the investments and the insurance area, it's probably more granular. And so, let's say for example, the business problem. They worked with one bank; let's use that as an example where their business problem was that always the secondary bank.

 

So, some other bank was the primary purpose, they were secondary and they isolated it because in the onboarding process, that first 90 days, clients weren’t really learning all they could do with the bank, and so they kept it as a secondary kind of a fund money bank, but they weren't using it for their primary checking account, their savings account, the credit card.

 

They typically came in because they needed a separate bank account for some reason, and they stayed with that. So, they wanted to learn how could they create an amazing onboarding process that got customers to learn that they could use this bank for way more than banking?

 

In that case, they needed to involve clearly the front line; you need to involve representatives from the individual branches because that's where a lot of the rubber hits the road. You also need marketing, going back to your point about marketing, you have to have marketing there because marketing should be creating a lot of these materials that you're using for the onboarding. Product, because product can learn what they're doing and come up with new products that fit that. The contact centre because they need to match as well what’s happening as well as the digital team. So minimum of these 5 teams, all need to be involved.

 

Me: So, that's really, really good information. Now, in terms of customer journey mapping, I did a webinar recently and I think one of the questions I asked was how often do they revisit their customer journey map.

 

 

Using Journey Mapping In Your Organization

Me: Now as a customer journey map expert. Could you tell us if you are an organization and you've never done journey mapping before or let's say you did it 5 years ago, what's the recommended time for you to revisit it, to make sure that all the touch points are operating the way they should? Just to give people an idea, because I think a lot of companies think they built this journey map and that's it, it's almost like a policy or a procedure that was created in 1970 and it stays there forever.

 

Jim stated that Yanique was right and shared that the journey does change. They just did this survey, which they’re right now on the analysis of and they found that 90% of the respondents basically stopped there with the mapping. They create two different kinds of maps, they create one which is a change management map, highly graphically, the research is pretty clear, and it’s called The Visual Superiority Effect. If you create a highly visual artifact, people understand it more and they remember it, so they have that one.

 

Then for some of their clients, they go beyond that where they create a data oriented map which is bringing in the feeds of the operational data, as well as the sentiment data, the surveys, to show how that journey is as a baseline and how it changes over time.

 

If you do that, that largely answers your question, because as long as the journey is working the same and by bringing the operational data and he should say financial as well, you're going to start to see is that journey still healthy or are we seeing more cancellations? Are we seeing lower additional products added on? Are we finding business problems are happening because typically the business problems come/originated by a customer problem.

 

And so, the sentiments part of that, so you're able to track sentiment over time, hopefully have a journey survey, and have some touch point surveys so you bring that into the living journey map. But you also bring in that operational data so you can see while they're seeing a lot of calls at this phase of the journey or they're seeing that their average basket size going back to retail is dropping significantly or increasing. That's when you need to go back out to your customers, because the working the live journey map is telling you that things have changed and you need to go back and figure out why.

 

Using Digital to Enhance Customer Experience

Me: Ok, so that definitely does answer some of those questions. Now, in terms of personalization, personalizing the experience for the customer. I know artificial intelligence and augmented reality are some things that companies are incorporating into their experience to make it more personalized. I was watching a video recently where IKEA literally has the augmented reality, you just hold your phone or your iPad up and you can just position the furniture in your house to see what it looks like. So you're actually almost choosing it without physically going to the IKEA location. What are your thoughts on embracing the power of being digital to the core to enhance customer experience and improving personalization in the process?

 

Jim shared that in terms of enhancing customer experience and improving personalization in the process is absolutely critical and not far enough along yet. Amazon has spoiled us all; every area we work in, we tell them Amazon is your competitor. If you're a bank, if you're a distributor as he mentioned earlier, you’re a health insurance organization, you're a non-profit, Amazon is your competitor. Not literally, if you're non-profit, it's pretty hard to argue that Amazon is taking your funds away.

 

But the mindset, all of our mindsets are changed by Amazon and that expectation. Amazon gives him a personal experience, therefore, when he’s engaging with another retailer, but also when he’s engaged with his health insurance organization, he expects them to personalize things for him. He expects everybody he interacts with, every organization to give him an Amazon like experience and so as a result, he’s frequently disappointed.

 

AI (Artificial Intelligence) is opening that up for the rest of us that we find the machine learning specifically allows you to understand patterns of behaviour and build and orchestrate a journey as a result.

 

They have a partner of theirs that does orchestration where you can actually set up individual responses based on needs. And that's a machine learning platform, although you can incorporate machine learning into it. But what they're finding in their research is that a handful of companies are doing an excellent job of really personalizing and building the journey on an individual basis even, or at least in a mass customized level. But most are not there today. There's a huge opportunity.

 

Me: So there's opportunity for organizations to improve personalization. Another big thing I found also, Jim, in the whole process of customer experience and enhancing it is having more integration across their channels. I use this webinar platform called Demio and so one of my business channels has expanded as a result of the pandemic. So, I never used to do webinars before, but because of the pandemic and I'm not physically going out to the training anymore.

 

Of course, I'm using webinars as a platform to reach more people and in doing my research, because I'm a customer service trainer. I wanted to use a platform that was customer friendly, meaning if I had an issue technically or there was an issue with just how to use a platform or what to do. I could message them on their response time would be like instantaneously. And of course, after doing research on speaking to other trainers both here in Jamaica and overseas, I was able to pick Demio. They're fairly new in the game and there are some features that they don't have that Zoom has, but one of the things I liked about them was that they were omnichannel and they were integrated.

 

So it didn't matter which platform I spoke to them on, what it was, Facebook Messenger, Instagram DM or it was the little chatbot that was directly on their website, that conversation continued on each platform and each person I spoke to was a continuation of the conversation from before, and it just made things so seamless and easy to transact business with them.

 

Operating an on Omnichannel Where Everything Is Integrated

Jim shared that clearly it's the best approach, as Yanique just said right there and she’s right. You don't want to have to think about, “Did I start this with chat, did I start with the bot, where I started?” You don't care. One of their sayings is, “Thinking is bad. The more you make your customers think, the more at risk you are for losing their loyalty.”

 

That comes back to the need to be multichannel. He does not want to have a different experience or more importantly, to get different answers if he calls you, than if he chat, than if he uses other methods of interaction. He wants to know he’s getting that same experience across the board.

 

They find it's hard because they tend to have a siloed approach to improvement, and that comes back to earlier, that if you don't engage the leadership and don't engage the overall organization around this area and again, the parts of the organization that can be part of the solution, then you end up with siloed solutions. If you're building siloed solutions, you're going to be in trouble. But if instead you're taking the time to integrate across them, that's when you can make a huge difference in not just keeping your current customers are bringing in more because you're going to keep your base because they like the experience and they're going to talk to others.

 

Getting Employees Motivated

Me: So, one of the things that we have to also do, and I know you mentioned it earlier in terms of involving the people, involving the people on the ground, the ones who are in the grassroots every day dealing with the customers, they know some of the challenges that the customers are actually experiencing. But how do you get them motivated? What if they're like, “They're bringing in all of these systems, you have to learn all of these new things, and I’m not getting any new pay for it. I don't feel motivated.” How do you get them engaged, motivated, feel like they're a part of the process? Do they need to be included in the decision making or is it a case where you just roll it out and say, listen, this is a new path we're taking?

 

Jim stated, well, so let's go back to the change management comment earlier. And again, they're big believers in involving change management. They find that customer experience, when they involve a change management approach, they have way more impact.

 

On a business to business level, Jen Zamora from Dow, they’re a client of Jim’s, they have a great approach. She's been posting every month on LinkedIn, their journey to customer experience and last week's was about how they incorporate change management into their approach, it's a great read. Follow Jen Zamora and look at her posts of what they've been doing.

 

Now, in Jim’s case, he likes John Kotter’s approach, which is on structure, but they talk a lot about the ADKAR (Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, Reinforcement) change model from Prosci. And he likes it because it's simple but not simplistic. And ADKAR is an acronym. If you want somebody to change, they need to be aware of the need to change. They need to desire to change. They need to know what to change. They need to be able to change. And that has to be reinforced.

 

He mentioned that he’s going to try to convince Yanique to move away from Jamaica to Minnesota. First of all, you need to be aware of your need to move to Minnesota about how it's so beautiful there, it's fantastic, you’ve got to move up there. You need to desire to come up there. You've got to say yes, I don't have any snow boots, I need snow boots, he needs to get you desire that. You have to know how to move there and he'll work with you to get a moving agency. You have to be able to; you've got to be able to find something to move you from Jamaica to up there and you need to continually reinforce why this living in snow is a good thing. So, he has got an uphill battle.

 

What they find is that most organizations focus on the first A and the K and maybe the second A. So they say, “Yanique, are you aware that you can move to Minnesota, here's how you can do it and let me give you some training on how to live as a Minnesotan.” But he never took the time to help you understand why Minnesota is a beautiful state and why you'd want to leave Jamaica to come there.

 

It's a high bar. But now let's turn it back to your marketing person. And if you want your employees to use new systems, a lot of groups start with awareness, “Hey, we have a new system.” And then jump right to training. And here's the training. They didn't take the time to say, “And this is why this is going to help you. This is why you should want to do that.” Love the ADKAR model because it helps us remember how I built against the desire component and if your changes are not taking place, that's where he'd look.

 

How Jim Stays Motivated

When asked how he stays motivated, Jim shared that he'll tell you; it's really hard the first few months of the Coronavirus, because even though he’s an introvert, he’s very introverted. He gets a lot of energy off of one to one conversations. A number of years ago like 8, 10 years ago when he was fired from a company, trying to find my new job; he had 133 coffees. Now that doesn’t count lunch, that doesn’t count dinner just strictly 133 just on the coffees and everything else.

 

And now we bring it to today in March and April was hard because nobody wanted coffee. It’s very easy for us all to pull inside. He gets his energy out of one on one conversations. He loves talking with other customer experience leaders to find out what they're doing.

 

And so, one of the things he did this year, it actually started before the Coronavirus, you may have seen Forrester’s prediction that 1 out of 4 customer experience people would lose their jobs this year because they're not showing business value.

 

A year earlier, Customer Think came out with the research that showed that only 1 out of 4 programs can show business value. So in January, he got really interested in that and said, well, what is it that separates that 1 out of 4 who are going to be fired from the 1 out of 4 that are who we all want to be, the ones that are really showing impact?

 

And so this year, they've interviewed so far 86 people in customer experience roles. They've added a few as well in finance and CEOs to understand what does excellence look like in customer experience. And when he leaves one of those conversations with somebody who's truly expert, he’s motivated, he’s inspired.

 

 

App, Website or Tool that Jim Absolutely Can’t Live Without in His Business

Jim shared that there are two he'll mention. First of all, they use Microsoft Teams, there’s a way to connect and to use visual, big fan of that. That's number one, but some way that you can connect and have that camera turned on, that's important.

 

The Coronavirus taught us about a new tool that he wants to pitch, he’s not an investor or anything, but he loves it. It's called Stormboard. And it is an online interactivity white boarding tool that you do not have to train anybody. It's amazing. The service is really responsive; they have really enjoyed working with that. So if you're looking at a tool for doing online workshops, they loved them, they've been great partners; they’ve been very flexible and willing to teach them how to facilitate. But what they found is that they don't have to spend a lot of time teaching their clients how to use the tool, they just get in and they start to use it.

 

Books That Have Had the Greatest Impact on Jim

When asked about books that have had the biggest impact, Jim shared that he just came back from vacation a couple of weeks ago out in Maine and what he does when he goes on vacation, this is geeky. He read books and he read three books and half of three others. But the one that really hit him hard is Leading Change, With a New Preface by John Kotter.

 

Time called it one of the most influential business books of the last 25 years. And he's got a great method of walking through it. And so, as he mentioned, they've used Prosci in the past, he has read their book and that's good from an outcomes perspective. What Kotter does, he walks through a process.

 

First of all, you've got to create a sense of urgency. What they find most customer experience leaders failing at is the next step, which is to create a powerful change coalition and then from there creating a vision as a total steps. But it just spoke to him. And yes, he realize that that shows how geeky he is in a book on change management, on the beach spoke to him, but he strongly recommends that book.

 

The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact he liked a lot by Chip and Dan Heath and he interviewed one of them for his blog, getting their feedback at Heart of the Customer. And it was interesting because Jim has a little bit different approach in that they they're all about building positive moments, which he agrees with as well. They don't like journey maps as much because journey maps also focus on the negative but you have to understand what are the most crucial moments are.

 

But in there, they also talk about do you want to spend your time fixing problems or creating great interactions? And what they find is that most organizations spend their time fixing problems. But the potential of creating great moments of truth with your customers has nine times the organizational value than fixing problems. Great book.

 

What Jim is Really Excited About Now!

When asked if he could share something that he’s working on the develop himself or his people, Jim mentioned both, as mentioned, they’ve done 86 interviews so far to understand what is it that leads to excellence in customer experience. And one hint, it does not involve the letters N, P or S, it's really involving engaging executives, creating a vision.

 

They are right now in the process of distilling that and hope to be coming out with their own book again, a second book here in probably about 6 months to a year. But they're learning that there are people out there that are truly transforming their organizations around the customer experience and that there is a process that does it, but that it's rare and that most organizations are not having the impact. But there are some that are truly transforming their companies around the customer.

 

Yanique asked when would that be out and Jim shared that they're suppose to start analysis on the first of the month and do the writing through the end of this year or so, hopefully first and second quarter of next year. But he knows that their original project plan on the last book had them getting done in 2017 and it came out in 2019. But his history is not so good at getting the writing done in time.

 

Where Can We Find Jim Online

Jim shared listeners can find him at –

Twitter - https://twitter.com/jimtincher

LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/jimtincher/  

Website – www.heartofthecustomer.com

 

Quote or Saying that During Times of Adversity Jim Uses

When asked if he has a quote or saying that he would revert to in times of adversity or challenge, Jim shared that he does and it's particularly poignant during the Coronavirus, and it's from John le Carré, who's an English author, who said, “The desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.” They find a lot of customer experience people don't actually talk to customers, it's really important. Has been harder in the Coronavirus, it has to be done virtually but if you want to create an amazing customer experience, it starts by talking to your customers and that quote has inspired him for years now.

 

Me: It's so simple and it's almost like a BFO, like a blinding flash of the obvious, because clearly, how are you going to know what needs to be improved if you're not talking to the person who you are trying to make the improvements for because you need their input, it can't be based on what you feel or think. It must be based on their experience. So you would think, a lot of people are doing that, but a lot of companies don't actually do that consistently.

 

Jim agreed and shared that a lot of customer experience people don't even do it consistently, and that's the opportunity. So if he was to wish one thing for you, for everybody listening to this, it's that you will tomorrow reach out to a few customers and just have a conversation.

 

He shared that he had a great interview with the customer experience leader in France and she said one of the benefits of a pandemic is that she used to visit all the customers in France because she could do without traveling. Now, she’s talking to their customers in China, in Brazil, in Canada, because they're all the same distance away from her now.

 

Me: That's true. The French and the Chinese and the Brazilians, it takes that much energy to call each one if you're calling somebody just the same in France.

 

Jim agreed and shared that that's his encouragement to everybody is, reach out to your customers no matter where they are.

 

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Sep 8, 2020

Mike Welsh is the Chief Creative Officer at Mobiquity, leading a team of experienced architects, experienced designers and conversational designers to deliver engaging and compelling solutions in collaboration with engineers who bring these solutions to life. He has been doing this for over 27 years, having joined Mobiquity near its beginning. Mike notes that what originally drew him to this role is the ability to transform experiences for companies and their customers. What keeps him on the team engaged is the opportunity to find out what truly transforms human experience and then brings it to life. He's a firm believer in the power of a team and its ability to create impact derived from insights.

 

Mike's time is spent with clients and teams, including working within creative, business and technology fields, bringing many skills to the table including: experience strategy, experience design, product strategy, and product design. His industry knowledge within these functions spans healthcare, retail, ecommerce, and financial services and he has lectured on these topics at the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, Moore College of Art and Design and various conferences.

Questions

  • Could you tell us a little bit about your journey, how it is that you got into experience strategy and experienced design. Tell us a little bit about that journey over the 27 years, how it got you to where you are today?
  • We're in an era, especially since the global pandemic where a lot of organizations are definitely looking to transform their experiences digitally, even if they weren't in a digital space, they're possibly looking at a digital transformation strategy, regardless of the industry that they operate in. As an expert in user and customer experience design and strategy, could you maybe share with us two or three things that should be top of mind in making that transition if you're a company?
  • What are some of the things that need to be done on the backend to ensure that the user feels like it's personalized to them?
  • How do you stay motivated every day?
  • Could you share with us maybe one personal win that you think working from home has had an impact on your client success? Maybe just one thing that you've been doing differently that has had a greater impact on how you are able to show up for your client.
  • Can you share with us, what's the one online resource, tool, website, or app that you absolutely can't live without in your business?
  • Can you share with us maybe one or two books that have had the biggest impact on you? It could be a book you read recently or something you read a very long time ago, but it still had a great impact on you to this day.
  • Can you share with us what, one thing that's going on in your life right now that you're really excited about - either something that you're working on to develop yourself or your people?
  • Where can listeners find you online?
  • What's one quote or saying that during times of adversity or challenge or any obstacle that you may be facing in your life, you'll tend to revert to to kind of help you to stay on track or just keep going. Do you have one of those?

Highlights

Mike’s Journey

Mike shared that he went to Drexel University; he got his degree in Graphic Design and a sort of minor in Sociology. And after graduating, he started out a little shop in Manioc, which is a town just outside of Philadelphia and got to work on some interesting projects and got started and thought, “Wow, this is actually exactly what I want to do.” But he thought he needed to learn about all the pieces that surround the design business, the work that they do, not just making pixels and making things pretty, but how do people think about things? And for those that suffer by what they design, what is it like in their experience? So how can you get into that more directly, more fully, and start to explore that?

 

So, he had lots of opportunities and mentors along the way, and people that gave him guidance and sort of stumbled and fumbled through the first 5 or 10 years of his career. And then sort of hit his stride when the dotcom boom slash bust happened. That's when he started to get into these entrepreneurial spaces where it was startup time. So he has probably been 4 of the last 6 jobs are startups. And for him, that was the opportunity to really explore how do you actually transform? How do you kind of get up that Maslow pyramid to get unmet need met?

 

And he thinks a lot of the work that the teams he has been fortunate enough to lead demonstrate that in a lot of different ways, but it's ultimately, can a customer get, can a user, can a patient have silent utility? You don't need 5 star experiences. What you need is, the design has to sort of become part of an experience that's quietly used by folks and it just works, it just works every day. And he thinks that's been a big portion of the journey leading up to the last 7 years at Mobiquity of taking customers, probably 200 or so projects of how do you get somebody to understand their experience enough, give it to you, and then come back with something that gives them sort of a rich, silent utility experience.

 

Digital Transformation Strategy to Keep in Mind

Mike shared that one of the main things that companies that have to approach this sort of new normal, new reality structural change that's going to be with us for a significant period of time is first don't panic. He knows that sounds maybe not like a design thing to think about, but if you're a business trying to survive and get on the other side of whatever this is, a global pandemic, civil unrest, governmental change, all sorts of things that are happening in everybody's country. The first is to not panic and think about how your business grows in an environment like this. In every depression and recession we've ever had, most of the truly sustainable businesses are built out of that crucible of collapse. And so, if you are one of those businesses and you can see this with Facebook and Netflix and Spotify all came out of the great recession.

 

Well, we're at another point where there's going to be another set of entrepreneurs and business owners and business people that are going to have opportunities. The second big pitfall or the second big sort of caution is “You don't have to boil the ocean; you shouldn't have to solve everything at once.” It is sort of the Kaizen model of take a little bit each time that you go to make a change in your business and do some analysis, try it, if it doesn't work, learn from it and move on. Don't try to do everything at once, like curbside or contactless payments or things like that. There's plumbing and systems that already exist, that are already in the world.

 

How can you adapt these to your business in a simple, straightforward, working with your customer, dealing with your labour way that can also make you able to meet your bottom line. And then to some extent, the third thing is you have to have a grit, so Duckworth wrote all about it, and you have to have passion and perseverance and you need tons of both to be able to sustain yourself through what is essentially a depression and come out of it with a completely new streamlined, more efficient, more customer focused than you'd ever have in any other time.

 

Me: So, those are definitely valid integrations that we can take into consideration when we're thinking of our digital strategy. Now, a big part I think of user design and you can correct me if I'm wrong. Seeing that you're an expert is I think personalization and so using whatever platform whether it's for a bank or for a supermarket or a spa, or whatever that at the end of the day, I don't feel like it's generic to everybody, but it's specific to me and what I'm looking for. How can you ensure that you achieve that? Is it by ensuring that you're asking the right questions? Is it maybe from collecting the right kind of customer data?

 

Personalized User Experience

Mike stated that he doesn't know if he’s the expert, expert, but we all use experiences like you use the phone, we're using Skype, we're doing all these things, and we’re accessing technology and adopting it. He thinks one of the things, one of the principle things people have to do if you're trying to personalize is to first understand what the human component is.

 

So for example, that sort of Maslow example he talked about in the beginning was, at the bottom of the pyramid you can just make an app that sits in an app store and it does a thing and you have to log in and that could be Uber, or it could be Amazon. You get to the next tier and you have to understand what desires exist for a person. What are the desires that people want in an experience. If you understand those, you can create interactions they really want, and that may be a tier above.

 

So, Uber for example, or house party or some of these other experiences that really do get at interactions you actually want in those experiences and then tier above that is you gotta have a fair exchange of value between the human and the system.

 

And so that means that you have to construct these systems so they're built around an audience, not around a technology. It's hard for people to understand that when they go to set out and make an app, because they're thinking about a technology, that's looking for a problem, but the reality is you want to make it so that you understand fundamentally what's at stake for that person so that they can have moments of achievement in that fair exchange of value.

 

And he thinks when you see the 5 star experiences or you think of the apps that you use yourself, or think of the kiosk experiences that you've had, or the experiences with your television set, any technology interaction you have that you feel is meaningful.

 

Oftentimes, obliquely goes after the unmet need by trying to create fair exchange of value between a human and a system.

 

The last piece of this and sort of the capper is if you understand how audience management works and how you can steer audiences in different ways, it starts with that one to one knowledge that understanding of the human condition.

 

Do you really understand anxiety, the uncertainty and powerlessness that people feel today as they go about their business, put on their mask, wash their hands, do these kinds of things are going to fundamentally change the way we act as humans. We don't know what it is yet because we're still in the cauldron.

 

But ultimately, if you think about that anxiety as an equation for how you can address the more certain people can feel, the more power they have in a transaction and that intuitive emotional awareness of the consumer can change the state of anxiety someone experiences when they're trying to interact with a piece of technology.

 

And that's a great way to start your sort of personalization conversation. And then on the technology side, there are a million things out there, AWS, Google, everybody's got tons of widgets that can quote….unquote, address personalization, but they're all afterthoughts, it's not until you understand that equation fully and completely. And then you create that exchange, that fair exchange of value between you and someone else.

 

Me: So, the person who is doing the designing, they're not just have to think about just selling a product, they have to think about the end user. And as you mentioned, how does the human element connect with the technology aspect to ensure that you're actually trying to meet the unmet needs of the client? Because sometimes I guess the customer doesn't even know what their needs are until it has been met.

 

Mike agreed and shared that it shows up surprisingly in different ways. So, the way that you bought the microphone that you're using to do this podcast had a certain set of things, you had some needs, you had to have really good sort of MPR quality audio, and you wanted some high quality production after you do this podcast.

 

But the reality is, is that you want to make sure that the quality of your audio gets to your audiences in exactly the right way. There's a sort of a margin that you have, if he understands that, that he’s going to position that microphone in a way that gets you to that end, he’s going to use YouTube influencers, he’s going to use social media, he’ going to have people using the mic mention it. There's a lot of ways that people can do this, where they can actually personalize the experience and make it so that you're making the right purchase with the right kinds of information.

 

Me: I think information is so critical Mike as you mentioned that, I think sometimes a lot of companies, I know, like for example, in sales, they focus on trying to sell the customer the benefits, like how will it benefit me versus the features, because I think that's where a lot of salespeople go wrong. They're caught up on all of the features that this particular product or service may offer, but maybe some of those features I don't need, I'm not interested, let’s say I was buying a car, I'm not interested in the fact that the RPM can go to whatever number, I'm probably more interested in the softer features, does it have a dashboard with a podcasting app? Does it have bluetooth that it will sync with my phone because those are things that I actually value and use on a daily basis when I'm driving.

 

And so, it's to understand who you're serving and what the benefit would be to them. For example, you're selling a vehicle to a mom with three children versus a single, a single man who is a bachelor. Clearly your pitch would be a little bit different because she's probably looking for something that will have enough space to accommodate her family, if she has to go on a trip or a vacation, or just up and down every day to take them to soccer practice and ballet recital, you want to know that you can travel with them in comfort. And of course, if you have to carry groceries that there is enough trunk space to facilitate all of that. So, I do think that you really have to focus on the benefits of the product and then knowledge is critical in getting that information across.

 

How Mike Stays Motivated

Mike stated that that's a good question. He shared that there are days he will tell you that we've all been having on lockdown that are difficult, but he thinks two things. He has three daughters and they're teenagers and they keep him motivated every day because every day it's something. But he’s a big fan of sort of audible and listening to audio books and things like that. And he found this one, it's about the two minute mornings and every morning you fill out a journal, you answer three questions. It takes literally two minutes and it has actually been extremely powerful. He thought it was kind of like, “Oh, whatever, I'll do it.” But then after he did it for the 90 days, it actually starts to turn into a way that you can control your day and have a good day.

 

So, that plus a little bit of yoga, plus he runs a bit, those kinds of things will give you something to look forward to. But he also thinks that the work that they get to do for their clients, he used to travel a lot for work, he would travel 50 weeks a year almost doing workshops and meet with clients and doing pitches and things like that. Having to do all of this stuff at home from a sort of remote space, he has been the most creative he thinks. He has been able to help, he has been able to have the most impact he has had since he has been in this job simply because he hasn't had to go to the airport at 3:00 am in the morning and get home after midnight. It really does put a tax on creativity.

 

So that motivates him every day. And the fact that hundreds of millions of people use stuff that they've designed every day, that's a huge motivation. Somebody asked him one time for a job search that if you had to tell a candidate coming to work for Mobiquity, what's the reason you'd come here. And he thinks for him, the motivation is if he told you that you could have an outsized impact and that your design could potentially influence saving someone’s life, for example, that will change your whole outlook on your whole life. Because the thing that you thought you went to art school for, which is designing stuff actually influences healthcare outcomes, or it helps someone have some moment of fulfilment that they wouldn't have otherwise had, unless you designed that thing. That is an excellent motivator to get up and get going.

 

Me: All right. So those are some good things that you used to get motivated every day. One thing that sparked my interest while you were sharing just now is you spoke about things that kind of don't necessarily energize your creativity and definitely traveling, those stressful hours getting to the airport and then getting back. I mean, traveling on a whole is a stressful experience really. But one of the things I wanted to know from you was since you've been home, you said for the past 90 days, and you've definitely been able to be more creative.

The Impact of Working at Home

Mike shared that the one big thing is, a long time ago he was told by one of his creative bosses that he wasn't that good of a storyteller.

 

And that was pretty big, a little bit of a punch in the gut kind of thing. And sometimes that's the truth, you have stuff to work on and sometimes people just don't know how to deliver that message nicely. But it was true. And so, what happened was he made that his sort of like, okay, that is going to fuel his hate fire, that is going to make him sort of motivated to be the best storyteller he could possibly be bar none. And so, every day he wakes up in the morning and that for him has been the thing that's changed the most.

 

Not only his own storytelling is getting better and his practice of doing that is getting better and the techniques that they use to do it remotely is getting better, but it's actually affecting his teams. So, his whole design team is getting better at storytelling and getting more efficient at making these messages meaningful. And he thinks that that's been a big thing for him anyway as a check the box, you're making some progress.

 

Me: So, that's definitely had an impact on you because I think it's so important for our listeners to realize that even though we're working from home, we can still put out even better work than we were putting out when we were actually in a face to face environment or just doing the things that we're accustomed to doing. Human beings generally don't like change and they put up a lot of resistance to change and I can imagine for an employee who is accustomed to face to face interaction, the up and down busy kind of activity every day. Staying home over and over every day, I guess at the beginning it did seem like a nice thing to kind of get a break from the everyday activities. But after doing it over an extended period of time and now even hearing that this thing is going to continue into 2021.

 

I was just reading on LinkedIn last night that Google is going to extend their work from home to the end of 2021. And I don't see why it is that it can't be a part of our permanent way of operating because if you can literally pull out opportunities out of it and you're able to see productivity increase, you're able to see people grow, you're able to see people develop and your customers are being satisfied even before. If you can find some measurement metric system to identify the level of satisfaction post COVID versus pre COVID with the same people working, but under different conditions and you're able to prove that it's a better experience, I don't see why we would discontinue what we're doing if it's working better.

 

Mike shared that the sort of fun fact is the world isn't going to get back to normal until 2023, 2024. If you talk to epidemiologists around the world and virologists, they'll all say, “There is a normalcy bias and a cognitive bias that people have for what's happening to them.” And some people have been tremendously negatively impacted, lost their livelihoods, loss of their businesses, spouses out of work.

We're all going to go through a PTSD event. Think of it that way. What you can hope for is that there can be opportunities for people to find a way to express themselves. So, the Maslow that they do for their clients is the same that they do for themselves.

 

If he can have moments of achievement in his job, in his life and in his work, that's great. But if he can help others do the same thing, the force multiplication that comes along with that is staggering. The amount of impact that you can have.

 

One of his teammates had to do a presentation for a client. She didn't want him on the call; she just wanted him to coach her through it. And she said to him afterwards, because they went back and forth about one of the slides. He said, “Look, I don't think you should put that on there, but what do I know?” And afterwards she said, “I kept the slide in, despite you not wanting me to.” which he said to her, “It's fine. You can do what you want.” But she had to own the story and she came back afterwards, the client was super excited.

 

She did a fantastic job. And as a result, she said, “Look, I really appreciate all your coaching and everything. And I kept the slide in, like I said, but a lot of the points that you made ended up in my talk track. And for that I'm grateful.” And she said, “At some point you got to let us spread our wings, boss.” And so, he’s humble enough to know that he’s only good at a very small number of things, the things that he’s terrible at isn't is an extensively long list. And he imagines others have the same sort of imposter syndrome and things like that. So, if you can have focus enough to help somebody else get through this thing and help them have a moment of achievement, it can change that person's impact on the world that they live in. And so there is a little bit of a multiplication effect of being able to kind of help your team get through the things that they're struggling with so they can influence others and then it just becomes this self fulfilling kind of thing.

 

App, Website or Tool that Mike Absolutely Can’t Live Without in His Business

Mike shared that he’ll give one and then maybe a half of another. The one that he really couldn't live without is the Notes App for his iPad. Now, he wouldn't have said that in January, but his Apple pencil and his iPad, when he starts doing meetings, and this is going to be one of these storytelling things, is that, that the ability to sketch during a shared meeting, like you're on Zoom or on Teams or whatever, the minute you start drawing on the screen.

 

You have the Bob Ross effect, which is sort of there's a happy tree and you sort of get this soothing feeling of someone drawing a tree on a landscape, his experience has been that that is actually something that is super valuable to con their customers and their teammates.

 

If they can sort of see the whiteboard, the electronic whiteboard effect happening, they oftentimes are more engaged in the meetings that they're in, they don't want to see more PowerPoints or Keynotes, they feel like they're actively doing something and he’s drawing what they're saying.

 

So, he’s literally sketching out while they're going. Across his own internal teams and with external clients have said in feedback that this was a much more engaged meeting and they felt like they accomplished a lot more because they actually can see a physical result as opposed to a set of slides that he had to spend all week preparing.

 

So for him, the ability to draw a live in a shared environment with someone or some people has been a ‘Godsend’ for not being physically present, you don't get physical cueing, verbal cueing, you barely get audio cueing. So, you need some other physical aperture to be able to have an interaction with someone and the Notes App has been fantastic.

 

Me: Excellent. That’s very dynamic tool, Apple has come a very far way with that application.

 

And there are other apps out there that do it, but the notes one is super simple and it can be shared with others and stuff. So it's his default.

 

Books That Have Had the Greatest Impact on Mike

When asked about books that have had the biggest impact, Mike shared that he'll share two books. Now, if you would talk to the team, they would say, “Oh my God, that’s the question for you.”

 

In his presentations with clients, he has a thing called the book slide, and you can find it on his website. He goes through a whole thing about all the books he reads. And so, one book that's affected his whole career, his whole life is the Tao Te Ching by Laozi. You can find a version of the Tao Te Ching in lots of translations; it's an ancient philosophy book. And it has spawned lots of different sort of Taoists religion itself and Zen Buddhism came from it.

 

There are a lot of things that came after, but the Tao Te Ching has been a book that he has been reading over and over again, then audio booking, listening to it over and over again for the last 27 years. And it's fundamentally changed his entire outlook on his entire life.

 

The other book and he just finished this book, which he thinks everyone should read this book, it is so fascinating. It's the Biography of Frederick Douglass.

 

It's a long listen on audio on audible; it's like 40 hours or so but he ran a lot of miles listening to it. But the fact that it's so long, it gives you insight into a person that you would never otherwise have.

 

And then it allows you to draw your own conclusions. The way the book's written, it's fascinating. It takes his life from when he was child in Baltimore, all the way through to the end. And you always think about these characters of people that you learn about in school, but until you actually get into the detail and you start to see how, you know, they're not perfect, everybody wants everybody to be binary, and they’re not binary. There's a gray scale of humanity that this man operated with.

 

And you just think about how tough your day is, you can take any six chapters out of that book and feel a thousand times better about what you have to do each day. And it's brilliantly written, it’s almost like when Hamilton was like writing all the time, doing the Federalist papers, he wrote like 50 some odd Federalist papers. Everybody else did a fraction.

 

This guy was writing constantly, failed newspapers started another one writing constantly the sort of suasion sort of principles, then moving into nonviolent stuff. And then moving through freeing himself from slavery and traveling abroad and becoming a writer and sort of a speaker on the circuit, you really do get a sense that one person could change the world. And he found the book to be just super fantastic and The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass is also his own writings, which he thinks are also good. But you get to see a full picture of a human, which he thought was amazing.

 

What Mike is Really Excited About Now!

Mike shared that the one about his people is they do in person training. So, one of his team that same teammate he described the story about the slide that she included that he didn't want her to. She came to him once and said, “Hey, I'm having trouble being confident about how I'm presenting myself and what I'm talking about in the work. And I'd like to be more confident about it. And it seems like my peers and other jobs and other companies have this level of confidence.”

 

So at that point, he was like, alright, let's get everybody's confidence level up or reduce their imposter syndrome. So they brought in an outside firm to give them training every six months or so, they'll do two classes, one is like how to do UX journey maps and other is how to do usability or heuristic evaluations, expert reviews, how to present UX, storytelling for UX, getting this team certified in each of these areas by a sort of globally known company. Started to build up this confidence level that you would start to see in meetings with clients.

 

So, that from a rewarding standpoint has been amazing to watch a team of pretty experienced professionals up their games, be more confident about their work, sort of stand on their own two feet. His biggest thing he tells his team all the time is he would love if they had a meeting with a client and they're doing a presentation and he could just sit in the back.

 

Being the Chief Creative Officer, isn't super easy, there's lots of things about it that are hard, but the most proud moments you can have, or the most rewarding moments you can have is when you see your team have these moments of achievement for themselves, they get up, they do their work and the clients are like people clapping at the end of a meeting come on, that's amazing.

 

For himself personally, his parents both passed away in the last 3 years. His mother passed away in February just before lockdown. But his mother probably kept him from traveling and in some ways protected him, probably from catching this COVID thing.

And so, as a result of that, he sort of said, “Alright, from now on, I'm going to try to live everyday like it's my last.” And he got a teardrop trailer and he’s going tow it across the United States and he’s going to do the 25 top national parks of the United States.

He travels all over the world and have been around the world a bunch of times, but it's mostly for work so it's not like he’s vacationing in places, he’s just going into a conference room, but he’s going to take the camper and it’s like a small teardrop, it sleeps one person and he’s going to drag that across the United States and try to see all these wonders that he hasn't seen, so he’s a big camping fan.

 

Me: That sounds pretty exciting. It's amazing the amount of things that you can do and I think I was reading that recently, actually, it was on an Instagram story. A company had asked one of those polling questions, what's the one thing you've learned since COVID and someone wrote that time is so precious and you really shouldn't take any day for granted, that's what they've learnt since COVID. And I guess it’s because we have so much time to sit still and look at what is really happening. I mean, look at what happened yesterday in Beirut.

 

We have to be grateful for even the things that we think is standard, breathing, waking up every day, the sun is shining, just having the ability to live and just function. The things that we take for granted that we believe must happen, they don't most happen. And so, I think at the end of the day, if we all approach life as you said, like it’s your said last, you’ll really live a more fulfilling life.

 

Mike agreed and shared that most people live their lives on the gross level and you'll see that in Tao Te Ching. Most people live their lives on a level that doesn't let them get below the surface of their own existence and that has been broken through for a lot of people in this sort of lockdown.

 

It's been difficult isolation, depression, all these things are happening. However, on the other side, the bright spot is you can really see people start to get below the surface, they're not just constantly consuming, they're not just sort of keeping themselves distracted or anesthetized from what's actually happening in their own lives. And that's been interesting to see and it has impacted him as well.

 

 

Where Can We Find Mike Online

Mike shared listeners can find him at –

Twitter - https://twitter.com/mikeswelsh/

            LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.cn/in/mikeswelsh/

            Website – www.mwelsh.com

            Instagram -  https://www.instagram.com/mikeswelsh/

 

Quote or Saying that During Times of Adversity Mike Uses

When asked about a quote or saying that he tends to revert to, Mike shared that it's sort of a hashtag that he has been doing since his father passed away. So, a long time ago he went to his dad, he had a problem.

 

He said, “Dad, this thing's happening in my life. What do I do about it?” And his father’s advice to him was, you need to keep your head down and you need to keep moving, because if you stand still, everything will take you down. Those things will just eat you alive.”

 

So, the idea is that you got to keep your head down, you got to keep moving. And that passion and perseverance thing, the grit that you need to have, you need to get it, you're not born with it, you have to earn that going through these experiences and you just have to keep moving.

 

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Sep 1, 2020

Richard Moore originally worked 60 hour weeks in the city of London before deciding to build his own businesses and help others do the same. After building companies from the trenches up by taking ownership of sales teams, coaching leadership roles and consulting with multi hundred million pound organizations, Richard created his own company to help others get massive traction as they launched their businesses.

                    

As he did this, Richard invested in many of the companies he helped to create and shared with the world his views on business through the weekly live Q&A’s he runs online, to speaking gigs in front of business owners in his space and his weekly blog. Richard also created products such as the Monetize You Course, the Basics of Sales course and direct mentoring of established businesses using his 16+ years of experience in the space.

Questions

  • Could you maybe just share with us just a little bit about how it is that your journey went? Maybe talk about one or two experiences that you had that has brought you to where you are today, where you are king of sales on LinkedIn.
  • Let's say you're not accustomed to selling in a digital space and this is something that you're going to have to take on now, what kind of mindset shift you need to have in place to ensure that you are successful at selling in a digital space?
  • And so, what are your thoughts as a sales person getting to know your clients before you actually interface with them, like doing your research?
  • Could you give us one or two virtual selling strategies that maybe that were not used as much before, or even if a new one, maybe through innovation or new design, people are actually selling differently in a virtual space?
  • Could you share with us what's one online resource, tool, website, or app that you absolutely can't live without in your business?
  • Could you share with us maybe one or two books that have had the biggest impact on you?
  • What's the one thing that's going on in your life right now that you are really excited about - either something that you're working on to develop yourself or your people?
  • Where can listeners find you online?
  • During times of adversity or challenge, do you have a quote or a saying that you’ll tend to revert to this quote or this saying to kind of carry you through, keep your focus, kind of just get you back on that track to achieve whatever it is that you're working on?

Highlights

Richard’s Journey

Richard shared that there's only been a couple of particularly interesting moments that have made him the person he is or taken him in the direction he has been given. And it’s interesting because he thinks the person who set him on the particular rails to be this kind of person was his mother to start with. And she was very much the person who drove himself, his two sisters, to be as best as they could at whatever they did. And she very, very much was behind them as a motivator and he really appreciated that.

 

It’s interesting, when he went to university and both his degrees are in history and kind of the first real big pivot point into the world. When he was 21, 22, he wanted to stay on and do his Ph.D. and basically become an academic, write books, become a lecturer. And it's interesting because coaching and teaching was always there in a way.

 

But basically, he didn't get funding for the Ph.D. so he had to get a job because he couldn't get any more bank loans. So, he had to go and get a job. And his mother said, “You're not going to come home.” And she didn’t say in a nice way, but was really good, “So, you’re not coming home, you’re going to fend for yourself now, come on. So you’re out of University, go and find a way.”

 

So, he slept on his sister’s sofa the two weeks and he went for a job interview and he took literally that first job, which was cold calling and selling internet marketing back in 2002. So it's like 17 ½ years now. So was a very difficult time selling internet marketing because people were like, “Are you serious?” Back then people were spending lots of money in print ads, in magazines, they weren't really doing so much of what we see today. So this is pre Facebook, this is pre LinkedIn, this is pre a lot of stuff and so it was very new and he’s thrilled he started there.

 

And his mom, if she drove one thing into him was that you really can't quit because it's hard. And so that was really good, he learnt that from her. They never had any money, she couldn't drive, she was a single mom with three children and she never complained. She just focused on making it happen and so he’s really pleased, he’s very lucky in a way that he has that from her.

 

And so, he learned very early on that if you just cold call managing directors and CEO’s and try and sell them stuff, they don't really like it much. So, you have to learn a way to be a bit more elegant about it. And so, by having the phone put down on me a lot, he started to learn like the basics that he really needed to be half decent at it. But then if you jump ahead a good 10 years or so of corporate work in the city, ultimately he was at a headhunting company, as their sales director, and he really had a kind of tough moment like this was 2012 or so on.

 

The really big pivot point for him was that he was doing well at his job, it wasn't like he was kind of he'd had enough or anything like that, he was doing very well. But he had a very bad year. His grandmother who he was very close to passed away, his first daughter was born and was born without an oesophagus, so she went straight to surgery. She spent the whole of her first year almost dying a lot and having loads of surgery and that’s 3 months after she was born. So he was commuting to London from the hospital. His mother then died, she'd had 2 years of cancer. So, it's been a tremendously difficult time. And when you have that kind of adversity, you end up going through it and you just have to.

 

But it was the following year where he really kind of imploded because it kind of hits you when you've gone through it. So, a huge amount of difficult times and he had very understanding boss, he was a family man as well, he understood that he had a lot on his plate. But basically, he hit this point and his wonderful wife said, “You know what you need to do? You need to understand you don't have to work in this kind of job. There's one thing you can do is sell, which means, you know you're going to be all right. Go and start something else.”

 

And so, he started his own business and so many people were like, “It's irresponsible, you have a child and a wife not working, what are you doing?" And he was like, “But I've got this. I know there's one thing I can do is at least make money.” And he started two taekwondo academies actually, but he also did a bit of consulting as well, just something different. And since then, honestly, it's been his therapy, growing the business from there and helping others grow theirs.

 

And then, 2 ½ years ago, LinkedIn has really jump forward in terms of being a serious player for doing business online. And he’s really, really enjoying not just what he does, but who he is now. It's been an interesting route, always around, like driving yourself in the right way, coaching and teaching. But it's been really interesting milestones that have pushed him in particular directions. And as you probably experience from other guests, when you have those moments of adversity, perversely, really great things can come of them eventually.

 

Me: I totally agree. So, Richard, you shared a lot about your experience on adversity and some of the challenges that have clearly made you stronger, has propelled you to achieve great things, things that a lot of people around you would have not seen the potential, they are trying to be very practical, think they're giving you good advice, but they're actually not giving you good advice.

 

And we're in a time now globally where we have to be doing a lot of things differently. And, of course, there's a new coined term, the new normal. What kind of mindset shift do business owners, I think at the end of the day; we're all sellers, regardless of what role you play in your organization, because at some point you have to be operating in a selling role.

 

What Kind of Mindset Shift to Selling Should We Be Embracing

Richard stated that this is such a good question. And he did learn back in 2008 in the recession then. They're very lucky that they have a CEO who he remembered addressed all of them. And it was very much when he started learning about the right kind of mindset, he said, “The majority of businesses now will go into scarcity. They're going to hibernate, they'll tighten their belts, they will freeze everything. This is the time when you push yourself.” Recession is a time when you grow more because that's when you can land grab when you really need to push yourself.

 

And he said, “So, for many, there is no substitution for volume.” And what that means is there's no substitution for just grind. And it's still funny because there's a lot of people who haven't been through a hard recession that was a big one. Arguably, we're about to hit an even bigger one. And what's interesting is that you get some people saying, “Oh, man, it's really tough out there.” It's like, yes, it's meant to be. This will be the biggest recession since 1930. So it'll be hard.

 

And if you ask about mindset, what matters is that you understand that you have to have huge empathy for what the person you want to speak to and work with is going through right now, and everyone is equipped to be able to do that. So we all are able, if we dare to stop for a minute, think what would someone else be thinking about right now? They're probably thinking to themselves, “I'm worried because I don't know if my business can survive. And in addition to that, I don't want to probably spend too much; I need to make sure I’m making the right decisions.”

 

So, there’s a bit of fear in terms of executing on buying things. So if we are in a selling kind of role, or we need to appeal to people to buy our thing, we need to be way more aware that people need to absolutely feel they're going to get great returns. So waffling on about how our product works and things like that is far less effective than sharing the top wins for someone. He may have mentioned in the previous time they spoke, but the four top wins are that you help them look good, so you improve their visibility, help their ego, whatever variation that you want, you help them make money, you saved them money or, and, or the other one is that you save them time or giving them convenience, such as, you are the outsourced solution to a problem.

 

Some or one of those particular wins is so essential to convey because that's what they really need to know, “Am I going to say time? Am I going to need to hold this person's hand? Has Richard got this? When I give him the money, is he going to do what he needs to do? And so I can crack on knowing that that particular problem is solved.” So that's one key part of it. But when you also need to be really clear on is that in 2020, we're all tremendously used to being sold to. No one likes to be sold to that's never changed, but the way you sell should never come across as desperate of course. But the way you sell now has to be in tune with the way in which people want to be approached, sending someone a direct message on LinkedIn thinking you're giving them in inverted commas “great value” because you invite them to your webinar because you know it's free.

 

And they want that, is missing the point completely. No one has time; they’re not interested unless they warmed up enough. And you have to spend more time with people showing that you're trustworthy and authentic rather than just trying to gain them. So unless you're doing very high volume sales, in which case you probably should be thinking about automation through adverts and so on, you really should be working manually.

 

Now is the time to appreciate that there's great automation tools out there, but understand that what buyers want, if they're going to buy, is this feeling that they're being looked after more than ever before. So, building true relationships where there's a real level of genuine curiosity in them and an interest in building a relationship first is something that we all know would work, but so many companies don't want to do it because it feels like it's taking too long.

 

But the truth is, it is a shorter term way to make more money for your business and get more satisfied customers because even though each transaction takes a bit longer, you're not getting the phone slammed down on you, the door slammed in your face or people not even responding to the direct messages, take your time, engage with people on a human level first because people buy people is this cliché. But really, it goes deeper, it's people buy people they want to buy from, or people buy people that they like or who are like them.

 

So you need to show that you are open and approachable, you need to show that you resonate with them, and that you care enough to want to hear them out. That's what makes someone want to buy from you, not how good your proposition is and that is where everyone can sell, because we are all capable of that kind of empathy. This isn't about manipulative sales tricks that you would learn from a book, those days are passed because we all see right through it. And if you wouldn't respond to a message or a phone call like that, then why on earth would someone else, that's much more about feel and it's about being really human and we all do it so well in real life with friends and meeting new people. And that's just what we have to do in the sales space as well.

 

Me: I like that. So, basically you're saying you have to take time to get to know people. And you mentioned that at the end of the day, yes, it might take longer. The sales cycle might take longer, but in the long term it will actually save you because now, you actually have a client who is more likely to be loyal, which will definitely impact your customer experience and your customer lifetime cycle.

 

Richard also stated that he can speak in authority on this because he did it for years. You will be more fulfilled too, because it's far better to speak with 8 or 10 people across a couple of weeks and get closed deals in a fulfilling way for both sides where they don't feel pressure, but actually wants to buy as opposed to smashing your way through hundreds of phone calls and possibly get a similar number of sales, but ones that don't feel great. They feel like a number, now is the time for real organic process because nothing beats having a happy customer that lasts, it's no good getting a deal if they're then going to leave because they didn't feel like they were loved or looked after. You want someone pumping their fist in the air, thanking you that you're selling them something and that genuinely comes from you looking at the relationship first and the product that you're selling them as purely a device through which they can consume you more.

 

Me: Brilliant. So Richard, I was having a conversation with a client recently and one of the things that we're talking about is actually doing research on your customers, just to get an idea of who they are, what they're about, what they like, what kind of associations they're attached to, what are their preferences, that way when you go in as a sales person, whether you're the business owner, you're the sales rep or you're the marketing person, you have a better understanding of the individual with whom you're speaking to. Is it that they're a family person? Is it that they have kids? Is it that they have a sick child or they have a parent who they're taking care of.

 

How You Should Approach Selling

Richard shared that it's a great question. Firstly, the short answer is yes, you should. And the reason why is because most people selling can't be bothered because there's volume. There are so many people you could contact. There's this feeling of this everlasting front of leads, so you might as well just keep going who cares if it doesn't work, you will find a yes eventually, actually is far more fulfilling, but far more effective to say, well, “If all of this information is public and online anyway, why wouldn't I make use of it?” But more importantly, you're going to get some feel like you actually have paid attention and that you're interested in, it's back to this thing of you just get people feeling like your well-meaning and that you care.

 

And there's a saying he has always had which is, “You shouldn't just research the company, you should research the person.” Because what you're really showing is that you understanding them on a deeper level and that will affect what how you interact with people and so on. And if you look at the sales, he tends to make that with people who have found him online, that maybe looked at some of the content and so on. And so, he can see what they're about and he can have a sense of who they were. There's a call he did just before this, which was the sales call and the guy he knew has spent time around the content he has, Richard is aware of what he does. So when they go into the call, it's already warmed up any kind of awkwardness or trying to understand who the person is, is gone.

 

They can really get on with it as though they're already kind of friends or connected. And he really thinks that short circuits the scary bit or the awkward bit and you have a really fulfilling relationship. But one thing you can do is obviously researching the person helps you show that you have spent time showing an interest in them. And that allows the barriers to go down a bit, but you can actually go a step further.

 

And if you researched where there might be a mutual connection. So for instance, if he was approaching you and you didn't know each other at all, but you had a mutual connection, then that would actually lubricate the whole process so well because by proxy you kind of know each other. And an example he uses a lot of is if you and him sat next to each other at a wedding, then the first thing they'd say, of course is, “So how do you know the bride or groom?” And you'd say, “Oh, I work with the bride.” and he’d be like, “Oh, cool. I went to university with them. Or I know them, they live on our street” or something. You would get on like a house on fire because you have the commonality even though you know nothing about each other.

 

So, when he was selling in corporate, he was always looking, where's that point of connection. And in fact, Yanique and Richard connected through their mutual friend, Paul Brunson. So there's the perfect example, “Hey Richard, I know you're connected to Paul.” and it's like, “Well, I think Paul's a good guy. So if you are friends with him too, then it means that you must be good enough.” Because he's validated for you for him. So that's so powerful because that's essentially saying we're all part of the same tribe in a way. And it hacks away so quickly at any kind of fears or anxieties people have and you end up with often a cold prospect being quite welcoming.

 

Me: Excellent. So, research is important, but to take it a step further, if you could find one person that you are maybe connected through, it kind of breaks that down, that initial interaction down.

 

Richard agreed but verify as well, because as you can imagine, when you look at like LinkedIn or Facebook, there'll be 500 mutual connections and you will have a lot of connections these days. So, it's a case of saying, well, let me look at perhaps some of your content and who's showing up a couple of times and are you speaking to them? It looks like you're close enough or have you done a collaboration with them like that, that's a better way of verifying it. Because not every connection is of course, someone  that they might not even remember they're connected to.

 

Me: And it goes back into research as well because you have to take time to sit down and kind of scroll through their posts, look who is commenting and look at the responses that they're giving to each person. Because somebody posts that I look at on LinkedIn, I see people comment, you can tell the comments that the person actually sat down and gave intentional thought to responding to that particular person versus a copy and paste kind of comment where all of the comments that are on the post, they're responding in the same way to each person's comment and it's not specific to an individual. So then, in your mind, you're like, do they really know this person? Or are they just responding in a general way? It doesn't seem very personalized.

 

Richard shared that the truth is if you've got a community, if you've got a bunch of friends, you may well be commenting really great posts, purely because you've got no time, but you're just showing, you know what, “I'm here for you and I'm supporting you as a friend.” But when you would both know that normally you would write more. It's the people who write paragraphs just to be validated you're doing great content, but also who are like, “Hey, I'm going to stop and show up properly here.”

 

And he’s finding this is valuable and never before is there such a wonderful lead generation opportunity as when you get people stopping by or even sticking around and like getting into orbit around you over time because they love the content you produce and sharing like really spending time, you are their Netflix in a way and that is really powerful.

 

And it's a very done well, good content that's related to the ecosystem within which your proposition sits is really powerful at attracting people who find it fascinating and they warm themselves up just by virtue of the fact that they're checking out. But if you can stimulate proper conversation through content as an example, it's a wonderful way to kind of really accelerate that first part of a relationship.

 

Me: So, as it relates to virtual selling strategies, so if you are face to face, some of the selling strategies that you would probably use would include, I imagine probably taking your prospect out for lunch or maybe visiting, if they're having a promotion or a campaign at their organization, you would support it.

 

Virtual Selling Strategies Richard Recommends to be used in the “New Normal”

Richard shared that there's quite a few new, interesting tools. One thing that you can definitely take from the offline world is that people actually aren't necessarily interested in the pitch at the start; they're interested in if you're a good guy or a good woman. And if you're fun to hang out with and there's longer play, but he feels a really good tool is just to hang out with their content and if you do that enough, then they start to convert, like be an interesting person, have some banter and good jokes in that. And it's very practical to be social because that warms people up, it also shows the network effect, it shows people online, a wider network, “Hey, there’s this person who seems quite good fun” that's very attractive because humans revere someone who's confident and social, so something to think about.

 

There's also some really great tools right now, one of his favourites at the moment is on LinkedIn is a reasonably recent feature, which is polls. And a lot of people would like just doing, what do you prefer? Chips or bacon or something like that, which is silly, it's just to drive engagement. But we really can do is ask questions where the voting options relate to the problems that you can solve for people. So, if someone's says, like putting their hand up and saying, “Yeah, I have a problem with this particular issue.”

 

What you've got there is someone stepping forward and saying, I have a problem here. And the nice thing about the polls is completely anonymous except to the author of the poll itself. So, it allows you to go in and say, I've got 350 people who have voted, 207 have voted on this particular option that directly relates to what I help them with and now because they came, they stepped forward, they basically have validated or this sense of you being able to engage with them and ask something.

 

And so, because you've earned the right to speak to them purely because they've voted on your poll, you can simply send a message and say, “Hey, Yanique, thank you so much for voting in the poll.” If there’s a second connection, he'd add, how are you and take it from there or their first connection, or after a couple of messages with the second connection, he would then add, “Thank you so much for voting in the poll. Why do you think you're finding that particular thing, such a challenge?”

 

And he does that to all of these people, why would he do that to cold people who've never heard of him when he can get people to step forward in a nice little simple way and say, I actually have this problem because now you've got context, now you're completely within your rights to say, “Why is this a problem for you?” And getting them to open up because why would they not want to answer that when they've just said on your very post that they have an issue and the conversion's crazy off that, it's a really wonderful organic way of doing it.

 

And most people are like, “Yeah, absolutely. I have this problem. And we're talking about it because I just put my hand up and said I have an issue.” So for him, that's a huge win, it’s a massive thing people can be doing. And you just got to think to yourself, what's going to get people to not have to think too hard and simply like, say, “Oh, that's an easy poll, just click on the one, that’s the answer.” And it's simplicity. Just keep it simple question and simple answers and they will want to show up and answer it. And his wonderful way of starting a sales process he has found.

 

App, Website or Tool that Richard Absolutely Can’t Live Without in His Business

When asked about an online resource that he cannot live without in his business, Richard shared that this is going to make him feel really old or sound really old and he’s not, it just works so well. It's actually Google Drive. You would think he would probably say some kind of high tech app or something. Sure he has used Trello and Zapier and things like that are really cool and Zapier is amazing for automation. And he would add before he goes into drive and why he uses it.

 

But he would add something like Stripe is amazing too, it's as good as a tool to kind of put all of your customers and invoicing that's a piece of cake from it. But Google Drive is brilliant because it’s got a team and anyone around the world, at any given time can log in and see what's going on. They can all access stuff together. His clients can access their own folder; see the content they're building with them. They can edit and add to it and it’s the transparency is amazing and he really, really liked that.

 

But what he will add to this because the question is about apps and things like that, or things that might help with productivity perhaps, don't ever discount the value of a really reliable person. So, like, a VA or someone who's assisting you, they are like Gold. So, if you can find someone who is reliable, so shout out to Mona who works on his newsletter every week. She's a phenomenal person who is there every day when he needs her and that in itself; she in itself is way more productive than any app could be.

 

Books That Have Had the Greatest Impact on Richard

When asked about books that have had the biggest impact, Richard stated that that's a great question. Everyone's going to expect him to say business books now he suppose. And he’s going to say three, actually. So if everyone wants a reading list of absolute must reads one by a guy called Mark McCormack who founded IMGs like a sports agency who looked after like Jack Nicholas, the golfer, and people like that. He wrote a book called What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School: Notes from a Street-smart Executive, he loves this book. He (Mark) actually went to Harvard, but he was a superstar in business. And what he's showing in this book is all the soft stuff. So what shaking a hand really should look like? What it's meant when someone's got no time, how to close the deal, or what are the nuances of communication really meaning? all that soft stuff is absolutely amazing in that book, he really loves it.

 

Another one by Douglas Atkin is The Culting of Brands: Turn Your Customers into True Believers. This guy's a genius. What he's done is, it's like science and research, behind cults. It's funny because his intro’s like, “Hear me out here, just give me a chance.” And he's like, it's the science and the practical and mechanics about around cults and branding side by side. So, what he's done is work very hard to remove all of the negative connotations and biases around cults and look at why, because for right or for wrong, they are able to attract a lot of people. And the myth is that cults, for instance, are about a bunch of losers getting together. It's quite the opposite. You have to have socially, very bright people doing certain things very well in order to get kind of the ball rolling and arguably the root of the success of the major religions out there is in these practical ways in which they kind of started as something of a cult, then ended up being these great worldwide religions, but he applies it then to how you build your brand and your tribe.

 

And it's phenomenal, very relevant books. He'd really recommend that as well. He can definitely go on all night. He would say the closest person to his philosophy on selling or like neurological selling and understanding with empathy, how people would buy is Oren Klaff. So, he's just released a new book called Flip The Script: Getting People to Think Your Idea is Their Idea, but he's original one called Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal is amazing on understanding the dynamics between buyers and sellers. Really great stuff. The audible is awesome.

 

The most important book anyone should read is not a business book. It's by a stoic philosopher called Seneca, he dip into it at least once a month; it's been his favourite book for 6 or 7 years now. His book called On the Shortness of Life: Life Is Long if You Know How to Use It (Penguin Great Ideas). So Seneca wrote thousands of years ago, and it is tiny, it's like this little pamphlet, it's 90 pages or something. And what it does in such a short space of time, honestly, you put it down after a few pages going like, “Wow, it's blowing my mind.” That book, single handedly really gave him this sense of perspective on time and what we really don't have and about being intentional and meaningful with it. And you got to understand, he read that a few years after his mother died at 60. So she was just about to hit retirement.

 

She worked so hard and then it was taken from her. So when you combine that, like the tragedy of her first granddaughter, first granddaughter by his sister just being born, his just being born as well and that was all gone. It really reinforces it, but just not in that book, it doesn't talk about it in like a misty eyed, emotional sense. It's really hard hitting about how people view their time. And interestingly against how they view their money, people hoard their money, they are that tight with their money as though there's a finite amount and you can always go and get more, but they're very liberal with their time. And in the words of Seneca as though they're immortal and just talking about it now, it gets him pumped.

 

Especially as a father now, he has two children. He turns 40 in 10 weeks time. So, that’s in October, but that's another milestone, it really drives home, do great things, make the most of it and, you know, but make sure you’re intentional with every moment as well, including being spontaneous, being intentional about wanting to do that as well. So, he couldn't recommend it more as you've probably sensed.

 

Me: I love spontaneity. I think life is very short. We're here for a very short space of time, the people that we connect with, I don't think it's by chance. I think it is very much intentional, the people who we meet and the people who we're connected to. And I think it's important for us to really try to just really get to know the people who you're talking to. Don't just let it be, as you said about a sale or because you're trying to capitalize on them or you're trying to steal something from them, but just really have meaningful conversations with people.

 

Richard agreed and shared that it's no kind of legacy when you're done. It's no kind of legacy to have all of these people buy from you, but none of them will remember you.

 

Richard was asked when his birthday is, and he shared that it’s the 8th of October. So, it's weird. It's like end of an era. I loved being in his twenties. He learned to be a grownup in his thirties. He is really pleased to be arriving at this age. Very, very happy with everything he has around him. He thinks mostly because he kind of built it all himself and designed it himself, he’s very pleased with that. So, he’s excited about the decade ahead, he knows it's just a number, but you can't help seeing something of a milestone.

 

What Richard is Really Excited About Now!

Richard shared that he don't want to be too promotional, so, he'll just say that the big flagship product at the moment he’s working on is his LinkedIn program and he’s helping a lot of business owners do some really wonderful things, and it's so lovely when you have this community of people you work with every week and he knew he wanted to do that because he coaches one on one a lot. And he also has his courses online where people buy them and they watch them and it's very kind that they do, but he wanted something where it's a combination of the two. So, group coaching specifically on how to convert and sell in an elegant way through LinkedIn. And it's just so nice to be there and it's not just a nice get together, it's practical to these people. There's one the other day saying, “I just got two new clients this week.” that's changing him.

 

And these people saying that is really making a difference is huge. But one of the other things he has been doing as well, which is completely far removed from what you'd expect is for the past two and a half to three months now, he has been getting up at 5:00 am every morning and doing yoga and then focusing on building his day in a really strong, structured way and getting early nights, exercising loads. And it's been such a game changer. So, that's personally, if someone said to him a year ago, he'll be doing yoga and getting up 5:00 am in the morning, but honestly, it's really changed. So, rather than going to bed at like 1:00 am, 2:00 am in the morning, getting out of bed at 7:30 am, 8:00 am and feeling tired, he has pulled those 3 hours back, lights out by 11:00 pm, getting up at 5:00 am and the productivity and also the clarity in his mind and is huge.

 

And he’s really thrilled, he has been doing that. He always thought he was an evening person or a night person, a lot of people feel they are because it's quiet back then, but shifting to a morning person, and by the way, it's not DNA, we can all do it. The difference between night and morning is yes, both are quiet, but in the morning you have a full battery of willpower that you can use against any distractions. So, within the first 2 hours every morning, he gets so much done because he has all of that energy to avoid looking at notifications on his phone. So, he doesn't look at his phone until like 10:00 in the morning and he blasts the work. And it's lovely because when his girls come down at like 7:50 in the morning for breakfast, he have blasted so much of his day, he urges people to try it out, it's so fulfilling, you feel really strong with it and present rather than this zombie, who's like burning the midnight oil. So, yoga is cool, he’s really impressed with himself with what he can do now, it's nice to get the stretch back and all that kind of things.

 

Where Can We Find Richard Online

Richard shared listeners can find him at –

LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.cn/in/richardjamesmoore/

            Website – www.therichardmoore.com

Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/the.richard.moore/

 

Quote or Saying that During Times of Adversity Richard Uses

When asked about a saying or quote then he tends to revert to in times of adversity, Richard shared that there's one he was told he has to bring up, there is a CEO of the last employed job he had, he was like a self-made millionaire and he really paid attention to him. And for all his faults, he also taught him a lot. And one of the things he always said was, “No one will stop you, but no one will help you.” And what's interesting about that is, is that, yes, people will support you and stand by you and things like that.

 

But you can't rely, it sounds really negative but if you look at it in the right way, it's almost like a call for you to not rely on people to do things for you, be the responsible person. No one will stop you doing that and you are in control of the influence over whatever outcome you really want.

 

He will add to that his own kind of quote that he used to say to himself, especially when things were really hard, he still uses it now but he really uses it whenever there's something new or difficult or challenging. And he'd simply say, “I can handle this.” And it would ground him and would make him think to previous instances of doing something similar and allow him to say to myself, remember how I did this before, I can handle this. And if you look back, no matter how old you are, look back at all the things you've done, there's almost nothing you weren't able to overcome, you did so much hard stuff.

 

So now, there's not really anything he can't handle. It might be ugly, but the truth is, he knows he can do it so he can handle this, is something of an affirmation that you should be saying, especially in those harder moments, and say it with conviction, you tend to believe it. And that's that voice, your own voice, the most persuasive voice you know on your shoulder, cheering you on. It's really valuable.

 

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Aug 25, 2020

Bill Bice has always been an entrepreneur, starting his first company at age 14, putting on road races with corporate sponsors. At 18, he started ProLaw Software, the first integrated ERP for law firms. After selling the company to Thomson Reuters, Bill became a VC as a founding partner in the Verge Fund, investing in high tech, high growth companies in the Southwest.

One of the core things that Bill has learned in building and investing in companies is that the go-to-market is always the hardest part of growing a business. He got so frustrated in trying to get great marketing for his companies that he decided to tackle the problem. A programmer at heart, Bill founded boomtime, tackling marketing as a technology problem. It turns out that when you follow the data, really good things happen. That’s why boomtime built the world’s first marketing-as-a-service platform: fuse. boomtime’s marketing strategies follow the data: they already know what will work. Instead of reinventing the wheel, boomtime applies proven marketing techniques at scale.

Questions

  • Could you share with us a little bit about boomtime and what boom time really does? What do you mean by following the data and marketing as a service? And how can it really help a business owner? What does that translate into?
  • Could you share with us maybe one to three mistakes that companies typically make in their marketing efforts?
  • Could you share with us how it is that you believe marketing can be more integrated with customer experience design?
  • Can you share with us maybe two to three things that the data helps you to improve on decisions that will enhance experience and bring more business? But how can we really use data to drive our decisions? What are we using the data for? What kind of data should we be looking at?
  • Can you share with us how do you stay motivated every day?
  • Could you share with us maybe one online resource, tool, website or app that you absolutely cannot live without in your business?
  • Could you share with us maybe one or two books that have had the biggest impact on you? It could be a book that you read recently or maybe a book that you read a very long time ago, but it still had a great impact on you.
  • Could you share with our listeners where they could find you online?
  • Could you share with us maybe one thing that's going on in your life right now, either something that you're really excited about to develop yourself or even to develop your people?
  • We have a lot of listeners who are business owners and managers who feel they have great products and services, but they constantly lack motivated human capital. If you were sitting across the table from that person, what's the one piece of advice that you would give them to have a successful business?
  • Could you share with our listeners where they could find you online?
  • Share with us maybe one quote or saying that during times of adversity or challenge, you'll tend to revert to this quote, it kind of helps to keep you focus, just remind you of why you're doing what you're doing and it gets you back on track.

Highlights

Bill shared that what you're really doing is focusing on this very old school form of marketing, word of mouth, which sounds like this thing that just happens. But the great thing about us all being digitally connected is that there's all kinds of ways that we can amplify the effect of word of mouth now. And so, that's really what they're doing. And so, if you've done the really hard work of coming up with a great product or service and you take care of your clients, you're getting referrals today, just you probably want more of those. And so, they've just put scale and efficiency into how you do that and they found that following the data is one of the best ways to do that, because they're running the same kinds of campaigns across several hundred small businesses. And therefore they see what's happening much clearer and much faster than you can if you're doing it just in one company at a time.

 

Bill shared that he really likes to focus on just the two challenges, the two biggest mistakes that he sees over and over again. And the first one is talking about yourself, which it seems kind of counterintuitive because marketing is all about getting the word out about what you do. But the truth is your audience doesn't care about you, what they really care about is the challenges they have in their life, their career, their business. And so, if you just flip your marketing on its head and you start talking about those challenges and providing insight and perspective on how your ideal prospect can address them, suddenly your marketing gets vastly better.

 

So, it's this kind of the 90/10 rule, most companies have 90% of their marketing about themselves, we just need to flip that around and make it make it 10% about you and 90% about the issues that your clients are having. And then if you do that, then the biggest problem that they're going to see over and over again is the lack of consistency. Most companies do what he calls random acts of marketing; it's just like this sort of series of things that comes one after another.

 

If you really want your marketing to be effective, then you need to pick a strategy that you know works, the best way to do that is to pick up on something that's already working really well for other companies like yours and then stick with it because there aren't any miracles in marketing. The thing that makes this so difficult is that you start to see really good results, you see early results like 6 months in and you see good results 12 months in and then 2 years in is when it just starts to really transform your business if you do this right.

 

Me: So, marketing is also very much tied to the customer's experience and I would say in recent years I've seen companies not taking such a silo or individual approach. But now they're really merging together the marketing strategy along with the customer experience strategy, because they're very much aligned. You can market and advertise the problems that you are trying to solve. But in trying to solve those problems, if my experience is poor or really bad, then I'm likely not to return and I'm probably going to use that same word of mouth advertising to blast you on social media and tell people this was terrible, I had to wait so long, the team members were not knowledgeable, they didn't know what to do to fix the issue, I had to wait so long, the list goes on and on.

 

Bill shared that he absolutely agrees with that, and the way that he often talks about it is that if you haven't addressed those issues, a lot of times people make the idea of brand into this really complicated thing, but really your brand is just that it's the customer's experience and working with your company and no amount of marketing is going to fix that if you don't have a good customer experience.

 

Really great marketing is this loop where the feedback comes from your customers, it drives product development, it drives the messaging, it drives what you're communicating with your audience that then brings more customers in, which gives you more feedback to work off of. Marketing when it's done really well is the flywheel of the business, it's what drives everything.


Me: So, basically taking definitely a more integrated approach, as you said, taking the feedback from the customer and possibly even using it to drive your product design or even service design in terms of what the customer journey will look like so customers can actually have a more hassle free experience.


Bill shared that he thinks it's one of the huge advantages that a smaller company has. So often you go in and talk about marketing within a large company and it's just what you're describing, it’s a siloed experience that is really disconnected from the real problems your clients are having, the experience they have in working with your company. This is a huge advantage that you have as a smaller business, that you can choose to fully integrate these things and make the customer experience the primary driver for your marketing, because every moment you spend to making the customer experience better is going to pay off 10x in the effectiveness of your marketing.


Me: So, we spoke a little bit about marketing and we spoke a little bit about customer experience. I know that sales is also very important to businesses and seeing that a lot of us are being impacted because of the pandemic that's going on globally, how is it that you recommend organizations stand out right now especially in this time. Those who weren't even in the digital space and have now moved into the digital space, people are being bombarded with lots of webinars and marketing initiatives and it's a lot of information to consume. In all of that, how is it that you make yourself stand out and still be able to maintain sales with those challenges being faced with?


Bill shared that to some extent, depending on your business, it may not be realistic to maintain the same level of sales, and that's what creates a real challenge, which is that this is actually one of the best times to invest in marketing, because even though with everything you just said is absolutely true, the amount of engagement and the amount of attention that is available right now is much higher.

 

We look at LinkedIn, which was already on this huge growth path and then the moment this crisis hit, engagement went up 55% overnight. And so, if your audience is on LinkedIn, you're doing something in B2B, then you want to be in front of that audience, connecting with them, building that network because they're paying more attention now than they ever have before. So, the way that you break through, there isn't a secret to it, it's irrelevant to your audience and be consistent.

 

His goal is never to create the one breakthrough campaign that goes viral and everybody sees it, it's everyday viral. How do we create a steady flow of content that gets in front of the right people that are actual prospects that we care about and does that consistently week in and week out, over and over again, because these days your prospects are so much better educated. They can go online and find out anything they want to and if you're not part of that education process, that works if you are the dominant player in your market and you can be an order taker, but if you're a smaller company, you need to compete, then you need to be out there sharing that unique insight and perspective that you have because of the niche that you operate in. And that's the kind of marketing that breaks through right now, the things that are really helping people solve the problems that they have right this second.

 

Bill that the problem is really that we have too much data now. It used to be the opposite problem. You spent money on marketing, you really had no idea what was happening, that that old quote of I know half my advertising wasted, I just don't know which half. Well, now we have too much data, we've got to turn it into information and the way to do that is something you mentioned just a couple of minutes ago about the customer journey.

 

So what he really wants to see is analytics around the marketing that captures the customer journey. So people that we reach via email and bring them to the website, how are they going through that customer journey and learning about the company? Same thing with people who pulling from LinkedIn or somebody who just finds us on Google, by taking each one of those channels and understanding what the customer journey is across them. That's how we really understand what's working in our marketing, what's creating the engagement that we're looking for, where do we really put the focus?

 

And the easiest thing you can do to make your marketing more effective and spend less money to get better results is stop advertising until you've built the foundation. Most companies have to have this flipped around. We all want leads and so we think, “Well, we're going to spend money on ads because that'll drive leads.” But if we don't have the marketing foundation built in order to understand that customer journey to a really good job of bringing prospects from the top of the funnel down to the process, then that money and advertising is just going to be wasted.

 

 So, let's build the foundation first, make sure that we're capturing every lead and referral that's coming to us now, following up on every single one of them, building our own audience that you own and control, that’s most undervalued asset in every business, the audience you can talk to without paying a third party media company to do so. You build that foundation and then the very last step is when you spend your first dollar on paid advertising, because then you'll really know what's happening with that money and how effective it's being.


Me: So, really needing to own your data, ensuring that your leads or your prospects, you're capturing your information and having a strong foundation. So, you really should have a good idea of what the experience is based on the different channels, how long it takes for people to get through, are they getting the right information, do they just drop off at one point and have to go start somewhere else or they did drop off and you have no idea where to end up before you actually put yourself out there to do this massive marketing campaign. And then people come into the loop and they drop out.


Bill agreed and shared that specific example of that is, so we they do most of their work in sort of high value B2B. And so the number one thing he wants is to capture the email address of a prospective client, because the 15 seconds they're going to give you on your website, which assumes you are successful pulling them in for even that long, you're never going to get your full story across.

 

And so, you've got to capture who they are so that you can then talk to them, build a drip campaign that tells them your story over time, keeps pulling them back to your website over and over again. And so, the most common challenge that he sees and looking at that customer journey is so if you're in this kind of high value area, the second most visited page on your website is always the about us page. People don't want to work with you if they don't know who's behind the company. And yet most of the time you go to a company's website and they make it difficult to figure out who they are and who's behind them.

 

 And then if you do find that page, it's this enormously boring set of bios. You scroll down to the bottom of the page and there's just nothing there, you're leaving it up to your prospect to figure out where to go next. Well, you want to control that journey; you want to put a big button down there that takes them to the next part of the story so that you're controlling that customer journey.

 

When asked how he stays motivated every day, Bill shared that he loves what he does because he gets to help businesses grow, he gets to work with entrepreneurs to hopefully make new mistakes and not all the mistakes he’s already made.

 

So for him, it's if you're not doing the thing that you love, then you have to find motivation. But if you are, then it's just inherently there. He gets up in the morning and he wants to go do this.


Me: So you're intrinsically motivated because you really enjoy doing what you're doing….


Bill shared that capitalism has brought more benefit to more of the world's population than any other system we've ever found, it's absolutely imperfect, but it has this amazing power to improve the lives of people. We just have to choose to use it and make that happen.

 

Bill shared that a great one for free marketing is a form called GrowthHackers, one of his mantras in marketing is, “There's no reason for you to go test and figure out what works when you can find somebody who's already, already done it, already been there. Learn from that.” That's a great resource to find it. That's what they do. They look at what are the larger companies in a given market, they've always spent millions of dollars figuring out what marketing works. Let's take that, figure out how to scale it so that a small business can use it and put it to work without having to spend that same amount of money.

 

GrowthHackers, it's just a community of marketers who tend to do really detailed studies and follow the data and see what works and share that with everybody. And that kind of resource can be invaluable if you put it to work.

 

When asked about books that have had the biggest impact, Bill stated that he’s going to pick two books from Simon Sinek. So, the first one, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek, he thinks is the core of what makes great marketing, because the best way to attract the right clients to your business is for them to come to you because they believe the same thing that you do. And it's easiest way for a small business to stand out relative to your large competitors. That's really what made Sinek famous.

 

And his most recent book last year, The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek, really talks about the right approach to capitalism. And so many people operate a business on the sort of short term timeframe of how much money we're making this quarter, when really if you play it as the infinite game, it creates the thing that we all want, which is to be part of something much bigger than ourselves. And that's when you really create a huge impact from the company that you're building.

 

Bill shared that this ties very much to what they do. We're living in a world where everything is just suddenly been accelerated, he thinks of it as we're all living the equivalent of a decade in one year, because whatever trends you are following have just all been immensely sped up because of this crisis.


And that's amazingly positive for the type of marketing that he’s talking about, because we can't rely on conferences and trade shows and in-person meetings anymore. So we have to go online in order to do this. So we've seen this sudden acceleration in adopting our approach to everybody's connected digital form of marketing. And of course, that's a really exciting place for us to be.

 

Bill shared that it was really about hiring. So, he has always believed that you hire for attitude and aptitude because business is changing so much that you want to hire somebody who has the ability to learn very quickly and adapt to whatever is going to happen. So he'd rather get the right person with the right attitude and aptitude than somebody who maybe has the perfect skill set and the perfect experience, because that first person is going to be able to grow with the company for so much longer.

 

And the corollary that goes with that is when you wake up in the morning and say, “Well, would I hire this person again?” If your answer is no, then the likelihood that you're going to be able to fix that and changes is extremely low. And it's better for the company and it’s better for that person to find the right match. And so making that classic, right person in the right seat on the bus decisions is what's going to drive the rest of the culture in the company.


Me: So basically, the advice that you'd give to that person is focus on your recruitment and ensure that you get the person with the right attitude, even if from a technical perspective they are the most brilliant person. But if they have the wrong attitude, then it's best to go with somebody who has a right attitude and then build the skill set on them.

 

Bill shared that this is a classic problem in sales where you have a high performer who is delivering results but yet is the bad apple in the group and is actually bringing the performance of the whole team down. And it's so hard to make that choice to let that person go. But for the long term health of your company, you just you just have to.

 

Bill shared listeners can find him at –

LinkedIn - @billbice

Website – www.boomtime.com

 

Bill shared that there's a great quote that he’s going to recall that is about the unreasonable man, which is a George Bernard Shaw quote, and it goes something like, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” And maybe that's the excuse for being difficult. But he thinks there's a real truth in that, that you really have to embrace as an entrepreneur, you are undoubtedly trying to do something that is difficult. And you just you just have to stick with it and you realize you're being unreasonable, that's the only way to make progress.

 

Please connect with us on Twitter @navigatingcx and also join our Private Facebook Community – Navigating the Customer Experience and listen to our FB Lives weekly with a new guest

 

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Aug 18, 2020

Carlee Myers is an expert at helping professionals who feel overworked, overwhelmed, or on the verge of burnout relieves stress so they can find more joy at work home and beyond. As a founder of The Stress Less Company, Carlee has helped hundreds of professionals across the country take action to reduce stress through coaching. She believes there is no-one-size-fits-all when it comes to stress management. Carlee, a Diplomat of The American Institute of Stress, has had her work most recently featured in media outlets such as Parade, Good Day Philadelphia, FOX 29, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Mag and Whoolley Magazine.

 

Questions

 

  • Could you tell us a little bit about your journey, how did you get onto this journey to manifest or understand that you are manifested to help others reduce stress in their lives?
  • Talk to us a little bit about stress and customer experience, to just expound for us why reducing stress in your life can impact your overall wellbeing and of course impact your business regardless of what type of business you're in, whether you're the employee or the business owner.
  • Let's say our listeners that are listening to this episode, they are looking for some tangible takeaways, give us maybe two or three things that they can start doing tomorrow morning to reduce stress.
  • Based on your experience and just working with the different clients that you've worked with over the years, and I know it's a very general question and it may not overlap across many different people, but maybe two or three stress-relating activities that you found works well for busy professionals, low resource, is healthy for you, but generally speaking people tend to enjoy it.
  • Can you share with us how do you stay motivated every day?
  • Can you share with us maybe one online resource, tool, website or app that you absolutely couldn't live without in your business?
  • Share with us maybe one or two books that have had the biggest impact on you. It could be a book that you read recently or even a book that you read a very long time ago but the principles and tips that you maybe have picked up in there still stay with you to this very day.
  • Can you share with us what's one thing that's going on in your life right now that you're really excited about either something that you're working on to develop yourself or your people?
  • Where can listeners find you online?
  • What's one quote or saying that during times of adversity or challenge you will revert to it, kind of helps to refocus you and just help you to get back on track. Do you have one of those?

 

Highlights

 

Carlee shared that she likes to say whenever folks asked her this question that you've opened a can of worms. But the cliff notes version of her story and how she ended up in this line of work is actually it goes back a really long time. So when she was about 12 years old, her parents had gotten separated and her mom ended up dating again and you're probably thinking, okay, well, what does that have to do with any of this? Well, her mom ended up actually dating a bad apple and as a result, that bad apple, she broke it off and he had never kind of let go of the relationship. And so a few months later that bad apple, that ex-boyfriend broke into her childhood home, killed her mom's new boyfriend and tried to kill her mom.

 

So, as you can imagine, as a 12 year old girl, she struggled with stress, with PTSD, with overwhelm, with anxiety, with fear, you name it, she was probably struggling with it. And for about 10 years, she really struggled and when she says struggled, she thinks that's probably an understatement. And to be clear for everybody who's worrying about her mom right now, she's alive, she's well, if you saw her today you would have no idea that she was shot three times. All she has is a pair of reading glasses and a slight limp, but it's wild. But for her, she struggled for 10 years with PTSD, with overwhelm, with stress, with everything. And for the first five years of her journey, she didn't tell anybody.

 

She thought that if she told anybody that she would be the straw that broke the camel's back in her family, that her family couldn't take another problem to deal with, or that she would become a burden to other folks. And so, as a result for the first five years, she didn't tell anybody. And then one night she actually had probably one of the worst night terrors of her life. And she finally opened up to someone and thank goodness she did, because then she started slowly but surely sharing with people in her life. “Hey, I'm kind of struggling right now.” or “I'm feeling a little stressed or I'm feeling a little overwhelmed.”

 

And she would ask people for advice and it was like clockwork, she would get the same five or so responses every single time. “Hey, Carly, have you tried therapy? Have you tried yoga? Have you tried meditation? Have you tried changing your diet? Have you tried exercising?” Have you tried insert mainstream approach here basically.

 

And the reality was for her is that she had tried all of that. She was so desperate for change that she had tried all of that and some of it didn't work and some of it worked a little bit, but nothing ever got her over that hump where she was experiencing things like happiness and joy and peace of mind and contentment and silliness and goofiness and all of those beautiful states of mind that she used to roll her eyes at because she thought that they weren't real. She thought people were faking it and all this to say that it took her 10 years to find the thing that worked for her. And at the time it was art, it was creativity.

 

And now as she has matured and grown, she has learned that more specifically, what she has found is this thing called Creative Stress Reduction and that is any activity that gets us out of fight, flight or freeze mode and into a state of play or flow. And so she spent a few years when she figured out what this was and what it was all about and how it worked. She spent a few years being upset because she was like, “Why isn't anybody talking about this? Like, this is so important.” She struggled for 10 years, she know there's people that struggled for 20, 30 plus years and that's not okay.

 

And so after she spent a few years throwing a temper tantrum because no one told her, she had to figure it out on her own. She realized, “Oh crap, like I'm supposed to be talking about this.” And so, that's how she ended up here. That's how she ended up with The Stress Less Company, because she don't want anyone to feel like they're stuck or that something's wrong with them because those five or so mainstream approaches that everyone's talking about, isn't quite working for them.

 

Me: It's so fascinating that you shared how you got on your journey was because of a pain that you were experiencing, a challenge that you were facing that you did the research on your own, you tried different methods, proven methods, not so proven methods and then you decided to come out with this wonderful solution and now you're offering it to other people because all businesses go into operation to solve a problem. And a lot of times it's the entrepreneur, the person starting the business that has the problem first and realizes that, “I'm not alone. This isn't an isolated problem. This is a group problem. This is an aggregate problem. How can I create a solution that will not just fix it for me, but fix it for other people?” so I really thought that was quite insightful. That's what I got from what you said awhile ago, that a lot of times we're solving problems we think is just for us, but a lot of other people are having the same issues.

 

Carlee shared that she does a lot of speaking and she shares a more extended version of her story and of course she’s sharing tips and tools to manage stress. And she cannot tell you how many times at the end of events, people will come up to her and they'll say, “I'm so sorry about what you went through.” And her response always kind of jars people because her response is, “I'm not, I'm not because if my mom hadn't gone through that, if I hadn't gone through that, if my family hadn't gone through that, then none of us would be doing the work that we're doing today. None of us would be the people that we are today and as a result of that, our lives are so much better.”

 

Me: That's so true Carlee. It's funny that you say that too, because I was listening to a young lady that I follow on LinkedIn and I'm not sure what type of abuse, but I know she suffered severe abuse in her youth and now she's an influencer on LinkedIn. But one of the things she speaks about as you said is she's not sorry about the abuse that she went through because she doesn't think she'd be the same person that she's today, if that wasn't part of her journey.

 

And you're so true. Sometimes we wonder how we ended up on the paths that we're on and we don't realize that it wasn't by chance, it was by design why we ended up on the path that we're on and I guess as you get older and you become wiser, the picture is much clearer, there's more clarity.

 

Carlee shared that managing our stress is so key to having our customer’s experience our businesses and our work in a much better light. One of the key symptoms or a few of the key symptoms of stress, we can start with the mental health side of things, which is irritability, anxiety, depression. And then we go into the physical symptoms, which they can be as slight as headaches and things like that. And then we can go into the more extreme, which is like cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, strokes, and things like that.

 

And so when we think about stress from the perspective of, “Okay, when I'm experiencing distress, all of these symptoms come along with it, then am I really functioning at my best when I'm showing up in my business and in my work. If I'm showing up with a client irritable, or if I'm showing up with a client anxious, are they really getting the experience that they should be getting?” Her guess is that most folks want to show up with their customers and their clients from a place of abundance and love and care and kindness. But when we're irritable, we can't do that, we're being passive aggressive accidentally, we're being short, one word answers.

 

And so, that's just a small example of how stress can majorly impact sales, revenue, the relationship that you're building with your clients and that's just irritability, that's not even getting into a lot of the conversations that she’s having with corporate professionals. We are losing millions of dollars every year because of unmanaged stress, because people are getting sick. People are having to call out and they're cancelling important client appointments because what happens when stressor after stressor after stressor builds up is that our body finally, it's like, “Okay, well, if you're not gonna listen to the emotions, if you're not going to listen to all of the warning signals I gave you, I'm going to shut you down.”

 

And so, noticing and realizing that there is a true correlation between the stress and these outcomes, and that's the difference between you getting behind on your work or getting behind on your revenue and you growing.

 

She thinks there's a lot of talk about personal brand right now. And she loves the definition of personal brand is, what people say when you're not in the room. And she thinks that when we show up irritable or anxious or even depressed in a conversation, that's what people are talking about. People read energy; they remember how you made them feel more than what you said.

 

Carlee shared that she is going to give listeners something that they can start right now, at the end of this podcast, they can get started on. It's really about implementing it now because the now leads to tomorrow.  And she thinks there's a great example, her own former business coach used to say to her, “The stuff you're doing today, you're going to see the results tomorrow, 60 days from now, 90 days from now. And so, it's important to get started.”

 

But she wants to circle back to the concept of Creative Stress Reduction, because she believes that this is the foundation, the very first step that we need to be taking to manage our stress. And so, if we return to creative stress reduction in the definition of this methodology that she has created. Creative Stress Reduction is any activity that gets us out of fight, flight or freeze mode and into a state of play or flow, AKA rest and digest.

 

And so, the reason why this is so important is because if we're in fight or flight mode, we tend to make some pretty poor decisions, almost always. And so, we need to get out of fight or flight mode so that we can start thinking clearly and strategically about what changes need to be made in our life to address those chronic stressors, the stuff that's coming up over and over and over again.

 

And the reason she’s going to go one step further. The reason why it's important that we address our chronic stress is because we can't prevent all stress triggers, let's be real. We could not prevent COVID-19, we could not prevent a lot of stuff, but we can better prepare ourselves so that we can move through unpredictable stressors with grace, by removing all of the unnecessary stressors that we're experiencing in our life. But it starts with getting out of fight or flight mode so that we can even be in the head space to do that.

 

So the first thing that she recommends in order to find the creative stress reduction activity that works for you is to start with back to the basics with the simple piece of paper and a pencil or pen or marker or whatever you're writing utensil you're into. And you're going to start by making a list of at least 50 to 100 activities that you love doing. And yes, 50 to 100, she feels like every time she recommends this, she sees draws drop across the audience, but it's really important that we have a diverse abundant list of activities and anything goes here.

 

So, she enjoys going on a walk, she enjoys playing with my dog. She likes gardening. She likes meditation, maybe she likes yoga. Or maybe even she loves formatting Excel spreadsheets. If that's what you're into, can be anything. And it's really important not to edit ourselves here. So even the stuff that you're like, “Ooh, maybe I shouldn't be doing this.” You can put that on this list too. So you can put your wine, you can put your cookies; you can put the hanky panky, if that's what you're into.

 

And really the whole point being that there is no editing in this process because that's where we can get stuck. And that's when we get to the place of, “Oh, I can't come up with 50 to 100 items. I can't do this. This is too hard.” And so once we have that list, once we get through that process, no editing, anything goes, we go and we go to the next piece of the equation. And the next piece is to narrow down that list by asking 4 really important questions.

 

And so the first question that we are going to ask in this process to narrow down our list is, “Does this item have the potential to put myself or someone else in harm's way, AKA in the world we live in right now?” Could someone else get sick or could I get sick? And if the answer is, yes, we're going to cross that item off our list.

 

Now, the second question that we're going to ask is, “Does this activity have the potential to trigger me?” Based on my past experience, maybe based on my past trauma, does this item have the potential to trigger me? And so she loves to give this example from a client that worked with her a few years ago, because she cannot tell you probably one of those mainstream approaches that we hear a lot about managing stress is going to get a massage. 

 

And she loves a good massage, but she had a client a few years ago who was a survivor of sexual assault. And she had never gotten a massage before. And so everyone in her life, well, let's say a few people in her life kept telling her, you got to go get a massage, It's going to make you feel so much more at ease, your body's going to feel great, your mind is going to feel great. You should just try it.

 

They actually went through, before she just went and got a massage. And they said, “Okay, based on your past experience, how comfortable do you feel with this? Are you a hundred percent comfortable that you're not going to go in that room and feel triggered?” And she said, “I'm not sure, I'm not sure, but I can tell you that even if a friend touches me in the wrong way, it makes me feel uncomfortable.” And so, they cross that off her list because creative stress reduction is not the time to explore past trauma, it's not the time to explore, am I quote strong enough or healed enough or whatever for this, it's a time to get out of fight or flight mode.

 

And so, even the possibility of that triggering her is not going to work for creative stress reduction. So they crossed it off. Another simpler example is, if you have the beach on your list and every time you go to the beach, you see those lovely skinny 18 year olds in their bathing suits. And you're looking at yourself and thinking, “I do not measure up here.” That's a trigger. So, we’ve got to be real about the big and the small triggers. And so if it has the potential to trigger you, you're going to cross it off.

 

The third question that you're going to ask is, “Does this activity fit into my resources?” And this is a really, really important one. “Does it fit into my financial resources? Does it fit into my social resources? Does it fit into my time resources?” And this is really important, especially for busy professionals, because if we don't have the time to do this, we're not going to do it. We're going to push off our creative stress reduction until we, one day magically have the time, magically have two weeks or a month to backpack around Europe. We're going to keep pushing it off.

 

Me: If we're really embracing the creative stress process, shouldn't we really be making time for the things that we enjoy. If it is that you said I'm to write down 50 to 100 things that I enjoyed doing, then I need to make the time, I have to be intentional about it. Wouldn't I need to be that way?

 

Carlee agreed and stated that however, we're not trying to go from 0 to 60 in 3.5. And so we want to be realistic, we're not going to be able to just storm in to our boss’s office or completely upheaval our lives to take a month off. That's not to say, and this is one of the key things that she talks about too, is it's not to say that you can't plan for those things and you can't work towards those things. But the goal is to have an activity that is accessible to you right now, today, without a to do list of, “I have to talk to this person; I have to change this relationship with this client. I have to do all of these other things that may cause more stress before can get to this resource.”

 

A great example of something similar to this is, when folks write this list, oftentimes they'll write that fancy vacation and they'll say, oh, I want to go to Hawaii. Or I want to go wherever and they'll go to their bank account and it'll say something completely different. They have some big aspirations but the resources might not match the aspiration.

 

And it's not to say that we can't go to Hawaii or we can't go on that fancy vacation, but it's not accessible to us right now. And so we can add to our list and add to our plan that we're going to save up enough money to make that happen 5 years down the road. But if we make that our creative stress reduction today, what we can do is we can actually cause more stress and put ourselves even more into fight or flight mode because maybe we put that thing on our credit card, now we have credit card payments every month, or we're jeopardizing our client relationships because we don't actually have the time resources to do that based on our past agreements. And so that's why we're really talking about, does it fit into my current resources because we don't want to create more stress, the goal is to get out of fight or flight mode, even if it's 5 minutes that we have right now in our current time.

 

And so, the last question that we're going to ask ourselves, in terms of narrowing down this list is, “If I did this activity every single time I was stressed out, would it be healthy?” So there goes the wine there goes to the cookies. And oftentimes this last question is probably the one where we're seeing the most lines happening, the most pencil scraping across paper, because this is often our go to. These are the things that usually fit into what we would consider our resources; cookies aren't that expensive, wine is not that expensive in the long run.

 

And so, that's why we typically go to these things because they typically fit into our resources. And so, we're really looking to expand, what else can I do that's cheap, that doesn't take much time and we're not jeopardizing our financial future, we're not jeopardizing our health, we're not jeopardizing our relationships and things like that.

 

Carlee shared that probably the three most common. So the ones that are coming up for her that come up with her clients a lot are giving ourselves permission to dance, dance in our home when we're cooking dinner, or when we're folding the laundry, putting on music, singing, these are common, very common, creative stress reduction activities that don't take much time. If we have a really short song, it's less than two minutes. She thinks we all have about two minutes a day and allowing that play to come through you in those moments. She thinks those are really great examples, we might not be playing with Barbie dolls, which is a great example.

 

She was doing another podcast about two or three days ago. And she said, “Well, what about playing with Barbie dolls? I feel like I should not be doing that.” She (Carlee) said, “Well, if you're into that, you can do that. No judgment here.” But her guess is that your form of play as much different, your form of play might be dancing on hardwood floors and socks in your kitchen or your living room, it's very different, very accessible.

 

And so, for busy professionals, if we are taking the time to microwave a meal, even if we don't have time to cook it, what are we doing with those two minutes? Her guess is we're probably scrolling through social media for that two minutes. And so, we can replace, we can still hop on our phone, put on a song instead of put on that social media app and take that two minutes.

 

The other thing that she has a lot of clients do is that they get up and they walk around, especially right now, many of us are in quarantine. They'll get up when they're starting to feel stressed and they'll do a walk around their house. Or if they live in a more urban environment like her, they walk around the block or they just pace from the front to the back. And getting up and getting out of fight or flight mode so that we can separate ourselves from that trigger for a moment, that's another way and that's not necessarily play, but it is getting us to a state of a flow or a state of rest and digest. And so, these are really accessible items as well.

 

And then she has even more simple activities that some of her clients do, some of her clients just try to get more grounded in their body by rubbing their hands together or rubbing their hands on their thighs. And she mentioned these because oftentimes we think that stress reduction has to be some big grand, like, “Oh, I'm going to take a bubble bath or I'm going to go on a trip or I'm going to do something crazy.” But it can literally just be, “I'm gonna get out of my head. I'm going to move the energy to my head to my hands by just rubbing them together.”

 

Me: All right. So dancing, I have a crazy side to me I must admit. Every now and again, I'll just get up and start playing music and I'll probably grab my daughter and say, come Summer on let's dance. And she'd be like, mom, but I like to do fun stuff. I like to swing. One of my dreams is to have a swing in my backyard. I feel so almost at peace with nature when I'm swinging. And of course I love to go to the beach, but then I live in Jamaica and I suppose people hear when I live in Jamaica, they probably think I'm at the beach every weekend. Sadly, I don't live in a parish that the beaches are my backyard; I literally have to drive at least 30 to 45 minutes to get to the closest beach.

 

And so it just based on that, sometimes I don't get to the beach for months, especially with Coronavirus and the government putting restriction on the number of people in any one location. But I totally agree with you. Simple things like playing music that you like to listen to getting up and stretching, especially if you're working from home. I was talking to a client recently and she indicated that she actually puts in way more work when she's working from home, because it's not like she has to pack up and leave at 5:00 pm.

 

Sometimes she doesn't realize how time has flown until she realizes the news is being read at 8:00 pm on the TV. And she's like, “Oh shoot and I'm still here on my computer.” And that's 13, 14, 18 hour days and you're like, what is happening? You wouldn't have been putting in that if you are physically at work. So, I do agree with you that sometimes stress relief can be very, very simple strategies, but I guess sometimes we think so grandiose, we think it out of proportion instead of just trying to be very simple about it.

 

Carlee shared that one thing that's coming up for her when Yanique share that, is that a lot of us get to the point where in our stress management journeys that we are working, working, working, like we are hustle, go get it done. And we almost do it to the point of this like subconscious resentment. So when we finally get around to doing stress reduction or creative stress reduction, or to take care of ourselves, we are in this head space of like, “I worked so hard. I deserve something grand.” I deserve insert whatever big thing it is. And so, that mindset can really create a cycle because we say we want this big grand thing and then we realize it's not in our resources and so our coping mechanism can become to just return back to work.

 

And so, really honoring that creative stress reduction can be multiple times throughout the day. The goal is to not have you be so empty that at the end of the day, you feel, I deserve this big grand thing, which you probably do, but it be that, “I feel slightly exhausted or I feel slightly stressed and I'm going to do this thing to recharge,” versus “I'm completely empty. I'm burnt out and I need to do something yesterday.”

 

When asked how does she stay motivated every day, Carlee shared that for her, her creative stress reduction is gardening, she cannot even believe it. If you were to ask her 10 years ago if she would be a gardener, she would have laughed at you and told you no way and in heck. But for her, her thing is to get up, go out, check on her garden, even if nothing needs water, if nothing needs repotted, it's just checking and connecting that way, that's for her.

 

And then she would go a step beyond that. Creative Stress Reduction like she said earlier is just the first step. And so for her, she’s constantly evaluating what stressors are coming up over and over and over again in her life. Or maybe they've come up one or two times and she’s starting to see a pattern. And so, she’s constantly evaluating what's working, what's not, what can she change so that she’s not creating chronic stress or she’s not allowing chronic stress in her life.

 

And so, whether that's setting boundaries with clients with love, whether that's setting boundaries with family, whether that's allowing herself more downtime, more space, she doesn't know what it would be, but each day she’s really evaluating, “Okay, what could be causing some discomfort in my life and what can I do to move through my life with more joy?” And it's really for her and she thinks for everyone, it's showing up every single day willing to address the hard stuff so that we cannot let it become baggage and so we can move through life so much lighter.

 

Carlee shared that she would say Insight Timer, she really loves Insight Timer. It is a meditation app which she cannot believe she is recommending it because it's one of those five mainstream approaches. But she has to be honest, she uses it every single day and talk about accessibility. She uses it to meditate for two minute meditations at least once a day. So it's a great app that has tons of free meditations that you can use for all sorts of different reasons, for revenue growth, for anxiety, for sleep. It's a really great, versatile app.

 

When asked about books that have had the biggest impact, Carlee shared that it's The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller. He has a podcast as well. And that book, she has taken a lot of those principles and applied that to her business, to her work life, to her personal life. It's made everything so much simpler, so much easier to digest. It's a really great book.

 

Carlee shared that she’s super excited about this self care accountability group called The Virtual Stress Less Space that she’s running, it's brand new. It's only two months old at this point. And basically what they do is they hop on Zoom, they go around the room, they share what self care activities or what creative stress reduction or what they're going to do to take care of themselves in the next 40 minutes.

 

And then they all shut off their cameras, they mute themselves and they do something crazy, which is go do it in the moment and then they return back and they share it. Did we do it or didn't we do it? And if we didn't, what can we change so that we do it next time? And she’s super, super excited about that because oftentimes you were talking about earlier, we shouldn't we be making the time? And the answer is yes. And oftentimes we might make the time, but we don't follow through because there's no one else on the other side. And so she loves this group because they have the accountability with other members of the group that can say, “Hey, did you show up? Did you do that thing?” And all from a place of love.

 

Me: And so is this a program that you applied to get into or is it a program where anyone can access it?

 

Carlee shared that anyone can access it if you visit www.stresslessco.com/virtualstresslessspace


Carlee shared listeners can find her at –

Website – www.stresslessco.com

Facebook - @thestresslessco

Instagram - @thestresslessco

Carlee shared that her mantra is, “I choose calm.”

Me: That is very simple, and it's straight to the point, “I choose calm.” And of course, calm can be manifested in many different ways, depending on whatever makes you feel calm.

 

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Aug 4, 2020

Ethan Beute is Chief Evangelist at BombBomb, coauthor of Rehumanize Your Business: How Personal Videos Accelerate Sales and Improve Customer Experience, and host of The Customer Experience Podcast. Ethan has collected and shared video success stories in a variety of formats for a decade. He's even sent 10,000 videos himself. Prior to joining BombBomb, he spent a dozen years leading marketing teams inside local television stations in Chicago, Grand Rapids, and Colorado Springs. He holds an undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Michigan and UCCS in communication, psychology and marketing.

 

Questions

 

  • Could you share with us a little bit about your journey of marketing and customer experience and how you landed at BombBomb. And of course, the book that you wrote, what inspired you to write the book and what impacts has it had on your clients and as well as non-clients?
  • Could you explain to us by when you say humanize the connection with customers using video through the services that BombBomb provides, what does that look like in reality, if I was to apply that strategy in my business, what would that look like?
  • We spoke about video and how video can definitely humanize the experience for our customers. One other thing that I'm really curious about Ethan is in the book, do you speak about how it is that you can build better relationships with your customers?
  • Can you share with us what's the one online resource, tool, website, or app that you absolutely can't live without in your business?
  • Can you share with us maybe one or two books that have had the biggest impact on you? It could be a book that you read recently or maybe something that you read a very long time ago, but it still stays with you to this very day.
  • Can you share with us one thing that's going on in your life right now, something that you're really excited about - either something that you are working on to develop yourself or your people?
  • Where can listeners find you online?
  • Do you have a quote or a saying that during times of adversity or challenge you'll tend to revert to this quote, it kind of helps to keep you refocused kind of get you back on track. Do you have one of those?

 

 

Highlights

 

Ethan shared that his story of how he arrived at BombBomb. So, as you read in the bio there, he spent a dozen years in local television and that was kind of by accident. He was at the University of Michigan, he always liked school, he was good at it, he enjoyed learning and growing and he didn't really have any career direction.

 

And so, he ended up in the communication department there and wound up going back home to his hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan for the summer and got an internship in television and then ended up doing that for about a dozen years. But he was bored of it, he was tired of the work, it's highly repetitive. Television news is not a particularly interesting product after a certain amount of time. And so, he was doing all kinds of project work and he hopes some of the listeners can relate to this.

 

He wasn't quite sure; he had been doing about the same work, obviously with some nuance differences, for a long time. And so he was wondering what else would he be good at? What does he enjoy doing? What skills does he have that would be transferable to someplace else? And in television, you do a lot of writing and producing and editing, so he was very comfortable with video and he had met the two co founders of BombBomb socially when he moved out to Colorado Springs.

 

And they were building this company from nothing. And so, he did project work with those guys for a couple of years, he wrote some email campaigns, he made a couple of videos for them, he wrote some website copy and he just really liked them, he liked what they were about. He liked the mission that they were on, he liked the purpose behind the company, which is not just to generate revenue and be financially successful. There's a lot of purpose behind the work.

 

And so, he knew when they could make him a somewhat competitive offer to leave the television station that he would join them. And so he did that almost 9 years ago now. And as for the book, he was just really excited about what they were doing. He thinks he hit his sixth year full time at BombBomb.

 

And when he started, they maybe had 100 or 200 customers and now they have over 55,000 at the time, he thinks they had over 35,000 or 40,000, he was just really excited about how far they had come as a company and as a team and as a community of people who are being more personal and more human in their communication.

 

And maybe they can get into the nuance there, but just to tie it to the book; he just felt like, they're marketing the service, they have positive word of mouth, customers that like them, really, really like them and bring more customers to them which is all any business could really ask for, is that their customers are so satisfied that they bring new customers to you willingly for no compensation.

 

And so, he was just excited about the growth of the community and the movement. And he felt like a book, like a traditional book would be beyond their webinars and their blog posts and their social media and some of these other things and their customer base spreading the word. He felt like a mainstream business book about this opportunity to use casual conversational unscripted videos would get the message to more people.

 

He knows that they will be in a better world; it'll be a better place to live and work when more people are more personal more often in their business communication. And so, that was what motivated him to start writing. And he started writing it between 5 and 6 in the morning, on his own time and the better part of a Saturday or a Sunday, most weekends.

 

And then started talking about it with some of his team members, he wasn't sure A, how to write a full length book and B, how to get it to market. So he had to work on both of those at the same time and ended up going with a pretty traditional publisher called Wiley. He had read a lot of books that they had released and he liked them. And it was a fun journey.

 

To the last part of the question there, one of the things he did in preparing to write the book was he re-read books written by people he knew and then asked them if they would talk about the process of writing their book and all six people he reached out to said yes. And the one theme that was very consistent for them was releasing a book will open doors that you didn't know existed. And by that, you're not doing it to capitalize on a particular opportunity or to create a particular outcome. It's just that doing it will open up opportunities that you didn't know were opportunities.

 

And he would say that is come to be relatively true. He thinks it's one of the reasons they are talking today. They've sold a lot of copies of the book; people that he doesn't know are reaching out to him directly by email because he included his email in the book and reach out by LinkedIn and other networks. And it's just really neat to see the impact that it's having on people because again, you get to be yourself more often, it's just so wonderfully satisfying and then it builds human connection. And so, it's been delightful to have it out in the world.

 

Ethan stated that when he says video, he thinks a lot of people, when they think about video in a business context, they think about lights and scripts and budgets and drones and green screens and expensive equipment and all these other things. And that's all nice if you're using that style of video in YouTube or on your homepage or in social media or whatever, that's fantastic and you should continue doing that.

 

If you're not doing that, there's an opportunity that every business has, that every person has. And that is to replace some of your plain typed out text, this faceless digital communication, the same black text on the same white screen that doesn't differentiate you, it doesn't build trust and rapport, and it doesn't communicate nearly as well as when you jump on a video call or you jump on a Skype call or you get on the phone or you see people in person.

 

There are so many benefits to bringing to life your message and by using your webcam or your smartphone in a casual conversational, unscripted type of way; you can be more personal and more human more often. And so what BombBomb does, and they're not the only company that does it, they make it really, really easy to record these video messages and send them to people typically by email.

 

But you can also share them through Facebook Messenger or LinkedIn Messenger. You can text the videos to people, etc. And so, when you think about video the way they think about it, they call it relationships through video and to draw a line against marketing through video. And he doesn't mean against as in that's not a good thing you shouldn't do it as he already said, if you're doing marketing through video like budgets and scripts and things, good….keep doing it.

 

But this relationship through video piece, it's just about being a person instead of being a two or three paragraph block of text. And so you're wondering maybe when would I use this, we could talk used cases for the rest of our conversation here, but he'll just share a couple that get people's minds going.

 

One of the most important things that they can do for their customers and for their employees and for their partners and suppliers and vendors and other people in their business ecosystem is to say, thank you. And so if you only used video, if you took 5 minutes every morning and you thought of two or three people, and you just said, thank you. “Thank you so much for filling out that survey. Thank you so much for renewing your contract. Thank you so much for taking the time to have that phone call with me. Thank you so much for spending 2 years of your career with us. Congratulations, it's a 2 year anniversary of you being an employee on this team. You've grown so much. I appreciate you so much. And I look forward to what the next two years brings us.”

 

These kinds of things; Thank you. Good job. Congratulations. I've been thinking about you. I was excited to hear. I was sad to hear it. Doesn't all have to be positive, we can just be kind of honest in relationship building with people. And so there are just countless ways to use it, you can use it to get potential customers, to set more appointments and to actually show up for those appointments. If you are presenting a contract or a proposal, you can record a video to go along with it.

 

So you can talk about how you structure the contract, things that typically people have questions about, if you negotiated some aspect of it, you can be sure to explain away the fact that you accommodated whatever their need or interest was.

 

 You can use video for on boarding new customers, you can use videos to ask for online reviews or testimonials or referrals or whatever, any message that your company is sending. Anytime you're clicking send is an opportunity to potentially add a video to bring the message to life and to get more people to say yes, because they feel more connected to you.

 

Me: That's brilliant. I don't think I've ever heard of that business model before. And you said you have competition in this space; there are other companies that offer the same type of service?

 

Ethan shared that they have a lot more competitors than they did maybe 3 or 4 years ago. The company was legally founded in 2006. He joined BombBomb full time in 2011. And so, they've really pioneered this space with and through and for their customers. And again, that's kind of that excitement was what motivated him to write a book when no one was asking for it.

 

And it's been interesting to see the growth of the movement, however, to your observation. It's still relatively small, they have 55,000 or 58,000 customers, but when you start thinking about how many people use email every day in a business context, it's tens, if not hundreds of millions of people and whether you're in sales or you're in customer service, or you're in marketing, or you’re in leadership and management, if you are in administration and talent management, all of these opportunities, we're all using email all the time.

 

And we could all save a little bit of time by talking instead of typing. And again, and we can be more clear because the message isn't just plain words on a screen, it's your face and your voice and your personality and your expertise and your sincerity and your enthusiasm and all those really rich, wonderful human qualities that just don't come through when we strip ourselves out of our messages.

 

Me: That's so true. That's brilliant. That's really a very unique approach. So let's say for example, you have a client who takes up your service and they decide to humanize their messages through these videos. After they've made the video, is it a case where your platform now modifies the video, because as you said, you started out by saying, some people think it's a great investment because you have to get a green screen and a professional camera and a teleprompter.

 

And all of that can be just so time consuming, especially if video editing and those things are not your primary core business. Let's say your primary core business is sanitation or selling fans, but now you have to be mastering a new skill in order to be able to refine this message in a video as you said, to humanize that experience, how is it that you guys transform it? Is it that we just send a video to you as a client and then you transform it based on your platform?

 

Ethan shared that they make it really easy to record these videos. So, they have a video recorder that you can access on your phone or on your laptop. They have their own web app that you can log into @bombbomb.com and do a variety of things. They work directly on your iPhone or on your Android phone, through a mobile app. They work directly inside the Gmail inbox. They have a Google Chrome extension that allows you to record from the top of your browser. They have integrations with a number of other services like Salesforce or Zendesk, and a variety of other platforms as well.

 

And so, for example, he uses Gmail every day, bombbomb.com is a Google apps domain. And so, he checks his BombBomb email in Gmail. And so, when someone sends him an email and he wants to explain something back or he wants to say thank you, or he wants to get clear, or he wants to maybe record himself and his screen to give an update on a particular project or a report.

 

He just hit the record button directly in the composer, the reply window, it opens up the BombBomb recorder, he clicks record, and it counts him down 3, 2, 1, he starts talking to the person or the people; you can send these to more than one person. And as soon as he’s done, he hits stop. And they host the video for you automatically and securely in the cloud. They take the first 3 seconds of your video and turn it into a little animated preview.

 

And so, when your recipient or your recipients get your video message, it's a little three-second animated loop that says, “Play 47 second video” but they can see you and they can see that you're moving or that you're talking or that you're sharing your screen or whatever else you might be doing in the beginning of that video.

 

And so, they take out all the steps that would be required to try to do this yourself. A lot of people wonder like, “Hey, can I just do this myself?” And he’s like, “Yeah, you can, but it's going to take a lot more steps.” One thing he always say they have about a thousand customers who sent 1000 or more videos themselves. He has sent more than 10,000, one of his team members has sent more than 17,000 videos, but he'll speak to the 1000 customers of theirs who've each sent a thousand or more videos.

 

You don't send your 1000th video, unless two things are true. One, it gets you better results than what you were doing before. You don't do something a thousand times because it's not helpful; you do it because it is helpful.

 

So, it's a more effective way to communicate in lots of instances. And then you don't do something a thousand times, if it's not fast and easy to do, if it's cumbersome, if it's slow, you're just not going to get there. And so, if you're going to try to make a habit of using some kind of a recorder on your own and uploading the video to YouTube, but then marking it to private because it's not for your channel, it's just for these three people. And then you're going to screenshot that video and put it in an email and link the screenshot over the YouTube video. You're never going to do that a thousand times, there's just too many steps.

 

And so, what they do for you is, they take all of the challenge away and put it in a nice little streamlined process so it's quick and easy to do. And then they also tell you your results, they can tell you who's opening your emails; they can tell you whose clicking your links, they can tell you who's watching your videos, they can tell you how long your videos are being watched on average and a number of other things as well.

 

Me: So you provide analytics as well in addition. Almost like an email marketing platform if you were to send out an email blast.

 

Ethan agreed and stated that in fact, that's kind of how they started when they started in selling the service in like 2009, 2010, at the time it was mostly essentially like a MailChimp or a Constant Contact, but designed around video with video being deeply integrated in the experience. So to your observation, which is a very smart one, they do allow you to drag and drop and make nice looking email designs. You can upload lists of people and send to some people or all of the people.

 

It is an email marketing platform, but where they really saw this transform people's businesses is in this kind of lighter weight, higher volume video messaging piece. And so, they spent a lot more of their time and energy focused on kind of the quicker, lighter weight use cases than say sending out a video newsletter every month, which a lot of their customers still do, it's very useful and they do it themselves.

 

Me: Very nice. Well, I think that is game changing. I don't think I'm seeing anybody in Jamaica and I'm speaking for my local market using video the way how you have just described it and how BombBomb offers it. I think that it's really, really good. What I see a lot of people doing, and I know video is a new buzzword for definitely for 2020, for sure, especially since the pandemic is on more social media platforms, especially LinkedIn video is a very big thing now.

 

Everybody is producing all of these videos; pretty much explainer video or marketing on sales videos telling you about what they do, or just free value in terms of content about sales and marketing or how you can offer better service experiences to your customers. Originally, when you said video, I wasn't clear, I wasn't sure if you were talking about what video from a social media marketing perspective or from an email marketing. So now that you've gone very granular and explained how the process works, this to me makes sense, because as you said, you really feel like the experience is more humanized when you can see and hear the person's voice, you see their facial expression it’s different than just writing an email and it's probably even quicker.

 

Ethan shared that it's just inherent in how they approach what they do. It's a deep part of their philosophy in addition to being part of the practice. The key to human connection is very obviously allowing other people to feel seen and heard and appreciated. This is one of our deepest needs as a human being is, “I just want to be seen and appreciated. I want to be recognized for who I am as a unique individual.”

 

And so, it would be difficult to write a book about the way they view business and the way that they see opportunities to take what you're doing every day and to make it more effective by making it more personal and not have a relationship basis. They have 5 core values at BombBomb, and they've had them since the company was founded in the first and foremost, that underpins everything that they do is relationships.

 

They think that in this environment, he'll cross over into customer experience here. In this environment that we're in, in 2020 and different markets are different, different industries are different, but in general, it is fair to say that competition is now hyper competition that product parody or service parody is a reality that if you innovate and you create this new feature of your product or service, it's not going to take very long for a competitor to knock that off and to make their own version of whatever this innovation is.

 

And so, the thing that makes you different is how you make your customers feel, it's in the relationship that you have with them. And obviously when they're a team of 135 people or so, and they have 55,000 customers, they don't know every single one of their customers personally, but they all take care to get to know as many of them as they can in the course of their work, by doing customer interviews, by reading their feedback, by sending them videos.

 

When he sees questions on social media, he will engage with those directly himself as well several of their team members. When he reads these, now he’s getting a little bit tactical here, so they use Slack at BombBomb and one of their channels inside Slack automatically ingests all of their NPS or net promoter score feedback. And of course, that's a 10 point scale.

 

And so you can see the scores, but he reads all of the comments that people leave, because on a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to refer BombBomb to somebody else? And then what is the reason for that? And sometimes someone will just type a couple of words, sometimes people will type two or three paragraphs, and he reads all of those. And during any given week, he'll probably send 5 or 10 of those people a personal video just to address their problem or their question, or to say, thank you, these types of things.

 

And you can't do it for everybody, it doesn't perfectly scale, but the more attention we can pay to what our customers think and feel, and the more that we can make them feel seen and appreciated for who they are uniquely as human beings, the stronger the relationship, and therefore the stronger the company, like your company as you're listening to this as a listener. Your company only exists really for one primary reason, which is to attract, convert and retain customers.

 

And it's obviously an exchange of value as he already said; we all face more competition, no matter our business than ever before. And so the more we can take care to treat our customers and our employees for that matter by the way. A great customer experience is impossible without a great employee experience, we have to make our employees feel seen and heard and appreciated as well.

 

And so, we need to just take a little bit of time out of the day, and frankly, it's a very healthy way to live, to communicate more directly, more often with the people who are key to our individual and our collective success. He’s not sure if that answered the question, but he obviously feel very strongly about these things and he appreciate the opportunity to share that.

 

Me: Of course. And I mean, Ethan, you hit the nail on the head when you spoke about the fact that if you're going to have an amazing or a fantastic customer experience, it starts from within. I always tell my clients that there is a consistent feedback from customers about a bad experience, whether it is in product quality, or just how the employee deals with you or the long wait time that you have and nobody even takes the time to say, listen, “We're working on serving you. Could you give us a few moments?” just communicating and caring to say it to people so they know what is happening every step of the way. If you're having a consistently bad experience on the outside, we strongly believe that it's a symptom of something that's happening internally why the customers on the outside are feeling it.

 

Because the service experience starts from within, how you treat your employees, how responsive you are to their concerns, any challenges that they may be having, do you support them when they make their wins as much as you support them when things may not go well, because we're human and yes, we're humanizing the experience, but human beings make mistakes.

 

And I think how we handle and manage people making mistakes is so critical because it can either drive them into fear where they don't want to make a mistake again and so they won't take any risks to try and enhance the experience, or it can empower them and let them want to go above and beyond to try and serve the customer because they know that their team or their management will stand behind them when mistakes are made, once those decisions are being made in benefit of the customer.

 

Ethan shared that he really, really appreciate that and he agrees 100%. And he guesses the only thing he would add is that a lot of it is about managing expectations. Like being clearer, obviously with customers. Like disappointment is a function of expectation and so the more we can make clear what is a reasonable wait time?

 

He knows that when they were a much smaller business, they felt a lot of pressure to meet the standards of excellence. Their customer's expectations are being set by multibillion dollar companies like Amazon and Apple, and some of these other brand names that we all go to when we think about excellent experience. And so he just wants to empathize with the small business owners who are listening and saying, “Gosh, I only have 6 employees, I can't get back to everyone instantly.” That is perfectly okay. We just need to manage expectations.

 

And he thinks the more direct we are about who we are and what we're about and how we approach things, the more clear and honest you can be with people, he thinks the more grace you buy yourself. And then, the other important side of the expectation piece is what Yanique said about employees and making sure that they feel safe making mistakes, that they feel safe taking reasonable risks because that's what we have to do if we're going to stand out.

 

And the last thing he'll add is when someone, whether it's an employee or it's a customer is confused or disappointed or frustrated, we can start to feel bad about that but that's actually a really great opportunity to deepen the relationship, to make things right, to work our way through it, or to talk our way through it, or apologize if necessary and your relationship is going to be stronger on the other side of that.

 

The real threat to your business is the quiet customer or the quiet employee who's just sitting there a little bit confused, a little bit frustrated, not so frustrated or angry that they’re going to raise their voice about it and they're just going to silently disappear one day, they're going to stop buying, or they're going to start looking for another job and take another job. And you never know that they were confused or frustrated or disappointed or whatever the case may be.

 

And that's why we need to keep these communication channels open, make it really easy for people to share what they're thinking and feeling and to pay attention to that feedback. It's the worst thing you can do is to collect feedback and not pay any attention to it, because then the person feels doubly unheard, “You actually asked me for my feedback. I actually took the time to be thoughtful about my approach and you didn't respond, you didn't read it, you didn't use it. You'd made no change.” And so that's making a bad situation even worse. There are just a few cautions and thoughts around what Yanique shared there, and he really, really appreciates your valuing of internal service quality.

 

Me: It's definitely one of the things that I've picked up over the years as a customer service trainer. One thing I'd love to get your feedback on, I got this feedback, this question from a participant in a workshop I had last week online and she asked the question, if you work in an organization where you send an email and the email that you've sent is asking for, let's say an update or information that I will need in order to complete a particular task or activity to complete a project and it's time sensitive and all of that was outlined in the email, but nobody in the department even chooses to respond to say that they knowledge the email, they're working on gathering information or they don't have the information, no feedback is provided.

 

And so, it's almost like you have to be calling the department to find out if they got the email and then when you do call them, they say, “Oh yeah, we got the email.” And then that's it. There's no apology, there's no we're working on it. How do you adjust in an environment where people don't give feedback in an organization and what's the best protocol when you send an email to someone asking for something, should they respond or should they not respond?

 

Ethan shared that that sounds so frustrating. He'll go back to expectation management. As a team member, we need to model the behaviour we want to see, the culture is built one decision, one behaviour at a time, and everyone is responsible for building the culture. The culture is what is normal and acceptable around here.

 

And so, he doesn't think it's acceptable personally for a team member to be in need of something, to need something from one or more other people and they can't make any progress. And the other people don't respect them or the work enough to respond in a timely manner. So, he just thinks that's a bad situation, obviously.

 

And so, for example, a team member of theirs, he just got a new position within their company, he has a very important role. It's very important to a lot of the work that they're doing and he's looking to generate some strategies there going into the third quarter that they just entered. And he specifically asked for, “I want 15 ideas to move X to Y.” and he's asking that of everybody and then he's going to compile it. And then they're going to have a meeting and a discussion about it.

 

And he (Ethan) knew that that was going to require at least two hours of his time and he knew he got this email last Wednesday and he wanted the feedback by the end of the week. And so, he replied to him, he was like, “Rob, I think what you're doing is really, really important. I do not have two hours between now and the end of the week but here are four or five or six things that I'm thinking about as soon as I saw your questions, these are some things I thought about.”

 

 So, he told him that he’s not going to honor his full request. He just can't do it, but here are some valuable thoughts. And he was very appreciative and thankful. And so as soon as he saw it, he thought, okay, maybe he'll look at this tomorrow and see if he can find two hours tomorrow. And then he got realistic with himself and he said, “I'm not going to have two hours tomorrow. I'm not going to have two hours this week.” And so again, managing those expectations and getting back to people right away.

 

The other thing he would say that he sees a lot of people miss on internally, and he could tell a story around this, but he won't. We need to use more than one channel very often and we do need to think about these types of requests as campaigns. So if you are reaching out to 5 or 10 other team members and you need something by the end of the following week, let's just say it's 7 business days away.

 

Well, you can't just send that one email and then just hope it happens 7 days later, you send an email that Wednesday, and then you send maybe another one on Friday or Monday, “Hey, just a quick reminder.” And then you send another one on Thursday, “Hey, just a reminder by tomorrow I need.” And for him, he would do it by email and he would probably do it by Slack as well. As you think about having multiple touches between now and the delivery of whatever's needed, he would use what other people are giving as a way to kind of create some awareness around it too.

 

So it'd be like, “Hey, just a reminder. If you're getting this email, I need X, Y, and Z by the end of the week. And here's something that Jennifer shared with me, here's something that Steve shared with me and I would love to know what you think too.”  So think of it as a little campaign, you can't just send one email and expect everyone to perform because we're all super, super busy. And so, think about using multiple communication channels and think about using some time spaced reminders to people as well.

 

Ethan shared that honestly, the Google Chrome extension that he uses every day from BombBomb and of course he’s a little bit biased, but again, he has tens of thousands of people who would agree with him. Just dramatically changes his relationship with his inbox, but more importantly, his relationship with the people who are in his inbox.

 

These messages aren't just messages, these messages are relationships through the foundation for the relationships that makes him successful as an individual and makes them successful as a marketing team at BombBomb and makes them successful as a company and more broadly makes them successful as a community. He also will use the Chrome extension to send videos to people via LinkedIn message.

 

So, instead of having all these anonymous connections that they make where they maybe look at their profile the day that they connect and maybe never communicate with them again. He has been taking care to record short personal videos for people to thank them, to introduce a couple things he likes to talk about and communicate about.

 

And the nature of the conversations that he’s enjoying with his new connections bring the network to life in such a more meaningful way than just this kind of collection of people who've clicked, he accepts. It just really closes the world down and people all over the world.

 

And so, it's really interesting and exciting. And not every relationship becomes amazing but it certainly increases the odds of it right out of the gate. And so, he thinks again, being himself and being accepted and engaged with for who he is as a person and as a professional is satisfying for him, but it also lets other people feel like they're being seen and heard as well. It's just really wonderful.

 

Me: Brilliant. It's funny you said you use it for LinkedIn because I recently connected with a gentleman from Trinidad and I remember when I accepted the invitation, he sent me a video, it was very personalized. “Hey Yanique, great to connect with you. Just wanted to hop on and find out how your Sunday's going.” And I was like, “Wow” it really wowed me because I've connected with lots of people on LinkedIn and most of them are very spammy.

 

Off the bat they start telling you about what they're and no interest in whether or not I'm even interested in their product or service but it wasn't about sales. And the fact that he sent it in the form of a video, it seemed like he just recorded it like on the front porch of his house, it was a Sunday morning, the street was like in his background. I thought it was really authentic and it was very human because he clearly would be doing that on a Sunday morning, it didn't seem like it was staged or it was put on, it was just very authentic and I was very impressed. It was very interesting. So, I think video for sure can definitely help to enhance those types of experiences.

 

When asked about books that have had the biggest impact, Ethan shared that these may be a little bit atypical, but the first book that comes to mind when you ask that question is a book called The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability (Collins Business Essentials) by Paul Hawken. And he picked it up at a used bookstore sometime in the mid to late 90s. He was a very young person and it was very impactful on him. It's essentially about the intersection, obviously of the economy and ecology in general and some of the choices that we're making as customers, but also as businesses, how they affect the natural environment.

 

And it was impossible for him to read that book and see the world the same way. And he has read it several times now and it's just a fantastic read. And, so again, that's The Ecology of Commerce by Paul Hawken.

 

The other one that comes to mind, well, two of them from Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia. The first one is called Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman by Yvon Chouinard. And the thing that he really likes about that one, there's a section in there called philosophies where he talks about like breaks down the approach to various important aspects of a business, that is just a fantastic section of the book.

 

There's also some company history in there, but at a high level, one of the things he really, really enjoyed about it is that he didn't start the company intending to be, at this point, he got to imagine he's a multimillionaire, it's been such a successful brand, and it really lead the way in environmental stewardship in a lot of cases.

 

He was not trying to start a business, he was just trying to fund his hobby of rock climbing and surfing. So, he (Ethan) would imagine that all of the people that are listening to this conversation right now, that there are people that started the business that they're running because they just didn't know any other way. Like, this is just what I'm supposed to do. This is what I have to do. This is who I am. This is what I need to do. And he thinks a lot of people will find themselves, A, picking up some good ideas, particularly out of that philosophy section, but B, just identifying with this guy who through the natural, normal course of events, just found himself running a business based on his personal passion which is always inspiring.

 

Ethan shared that he’s constantly reading and listening to podcasts. And so, when he thinks about something really exciting, so he married, he has been married for many years. They have a teenage son who is starting to look at colleges and universities because he's entering his senior year of high school right now.

 

And so, it's just a really interesting phase of his life and their lives and it's just interesting to think about this person who not that long ago was a toddler, is now on the verge of really launching off into his own decisions and his own life and becoming a more fully realized person with more independence. And that whole process is just so challenging and exciting and scary and curious and joyful and nerve wracking. And so, we've been spending a lot of time on that.

 

Me: So, that's an exciting thing to be working through. I guess I'll be there with you in a few years. My daughter's 14 going on 15. So, I suppose in another year or two, I'll be where you are. I do look at her every day and I'm like, “I wonder, could I just get her back as a toddler just for like a day.” Because I miss her at that age.

 

When she was younger, people would said to me all the time, “Enjoy her because the time goes by so quickly.” And you take it for granted because you're in that moment and you're thinking, “Oh, the time is not going by quickly. She's doing this, she's doing that, she can’t stop moving up and down.” And it does go by quickly because she's now 14 going on 15 and I would give anything to have her back as a toddler, even just for a day.

 

Ethan agreed and shared that there's so much that we take for granted and that certainly is one of them. And it's interesting, everyone's going to give that caution, the same advice that you got was the same advice that they got as young parents. And so, everyone says it and he would just flip it now just to tie it back into the theme of the conversation here today is, it's really easy to look at your business as a set of numbers but those numbers are just the scoreboard, they're the outcome of the decisions that we're making every single day and the relationships that we're building every single day and the people that we're serving every single day.

 

And hopefully, depending on the nature of your business, you are transforming people's lives, in some cases it might be a very small transformation, but it brings a sense of ease or allows people to do something a little bit more quickly or resolves a particular pain point or frustration for them. And so, the work that you're doing really, really matters, and if you're serving meals to people as a restaurant or something else, there are people behind every number and no matter what you're looking at, there are people behind the numbers and the numbers are just collections and representations of the decisions that we're making every day and the people that we're serving every day. So we can't lose sight of that either.

 

 

  • Ethan shared listeners can find him at –

Email – ethan@bombbomb.com

LinkedIn - @ethanbeute

www.bombbomb.com

www.bombbomb.com/book

www.bombbomb.com/podcast

 

When asked about a quote or saying that helps him refocus, Ethan shared that he doesn't but the one thing he'll offer is that, “You don't get what you don't ask for.” The worst you’re ever going to hear from anyone in any circumstance is no. The more comfortable you can get with that, the better. There is a humility often times required in asking for help or asking for a favor. And frankly, again, just to go to the relationship piece, people like to help other people. And he thinks to the degree that it's a reasonable ask, most people will say yes, most of the time. He has been shocked at how many times people have said yes.

 

And so, if you find yourself in this time of the pandemic, whether it's a personal feeling or whether it's a professional challenge, a business challenge or whatever, don't be afraid to reach out to people and ask for help even if it's just for a second opinion or a thought or a conversation, people want to help each other. And there's something very honest in humbling of you to make that ask of other people and to reveal that you do need or want some help. And he thinks it draws us closer together.

 

Me: That's very good point. It's funny you say that because it's one of the things that I encourage my daughter to do. Generally speaking, I find that in a learning environment you'll have people who may want to ask a question, or even in a business meeting, you may have a staff meeting and you can share with me if you think this is something that's common.

 

But people will sit down in a meeting and you'll get to the section of Q and A. And they'll say, guys, any questions and it's not until one person, brave person, courageous person raises their hand and asks a question. It's not that 5 or 10 other people didn't have the same question or similar, but nobody was brave enough to kind of take that first step to ask the question.

 

And so, even with my daughter, from she was younger, I always say to her, no question is stupid and you should always ask the question because somebody else in the class is going to benefit from you asking that question. And I've proven it time and time again with my own activities when I attend programs, or if I attend a meeting. I don't know why it prevents them, if they're fearful or what exactly, but you're right. You you'll never know unless you ask, you have to put yourself out there.

 

Ethan shared that he completely agrees. There is no bad question and really, especially if someone has presented information to ask a question, even if it feels to you like a dumb question, like you should have gotten the answer by listening, it gives the person another chance to double down on what they obviously are excited about and have invested a lot of time and energy.

 

And if someone is presenting information or a short presentation or whatever, people love questions about the work that they do, and it shows that you have a level of interest in addition to whatever else you learn, it shows some respect and it puts the presenter or the person answering the questions in a position that they generally like to be in.

 

 

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Jul 29, 2020

Don Frericks knows the exhilaration of working with a good leader and the unrelenting pain of working for a bad one. In over 30 years of corporate leadership and coaching experience, he has developed the reputation as on outstanding leader, a passionate advocate for personal and corporate change, and a well-loved personal leadership coach for various Fortune 2000 organizations and industries.

Questions

  • Could you share with us a little bit about your journey, just tell us how it is that you’ve really got into this leadership path, were you put into it by accident, did it happen by chance or is this something that was a passion for you from you were a young person?
  • Could you share with us maybe two or three character traits that you think leaders need to have, especially now. So, what are those two or three qualities that leaders need to have to ensure that during this time they're still maintaining a high level of customer centricity internally and externally?
  • How do you stay motivated every day?
  • Can you share with us what's the one online resource tool, website, or app that you couldn't live without in your own business?
  • Are there any other books that have had a great impact on you? Maybe a book you read recently, or even a book you read a very long time ago that has still had a great impact on you?
  • Could you share with us what's one thing that's going on in your life right now that you're either really excited about something, maybe that you're working on to develop yourself or your people?
  • Where can listeners find you online?
  • Could you share with us a quote or a saying that during times of adversity or challenge, you'll tend to revert to this quote because it kind of helps to keep you refocused.

 

Highlights

 

Don shared that he loves it because it's not a normal path. He actually had three wonderful experiences working for tremendous leaders, people that just were inspiring that you wanted to follow them because they were so good with people and they helped you be the best that you could be. And what was interesting in each one of those occurrences, they were the one that hired him, but they were gone in his experience six months later. And it was so abrupt and so quick that it was a bit shocking. And the next leader that came in behind them was not as good.

 

And in fact, in a few cases, they were horrible; the kind of people you would say would be the bad bosses of the world. And it was such a night and day difference. It shocked him to his very core and he noticed his own behaviour, his own performance slipped. He noticed that he didn't like it; he wasn't engaged like he used to be. He worked at a very high level, he puts a lot of energy and heart into his work and he wasn't doing that with these other bosses. So, he really felt like there's something about great leadership and how it has a huge impact on other people.

 

And after that experience and through those experiences, he started studying tremendous leadership and extraordinary leadership and what the difference is between good and extraordinary and why it makes a huge difference on businesses.

 

Me: So it's definitely been in your core, in your DNA from very early. Now, I see here on your bio also that you’re the author of the book, Best Boss Ever: The 5 Steps to rapidly develop yourself into the leader everyone wants to follow. And this podcast is called Navigating the Customer Experience as you know. One of the things I've found in the years of being a customer service trainer is that leadership is very critical in customer experience because if the leaders are not on board with delivering a quality experience both internally, because it starts from within, and then of course it flows over into the external, you're going to have a lot of challenges in the organization.

 

Don agree that Yanique is right on track with thinking how dynamic a situation can be internally as he’s sure you've seen many times where people have talked about the power of serving the employees so that they can serve the customers so well. Great leaders today get that, they understand that their service of their people internally needs to be taken to the next level. And that probably means getting to know your people at a level where you understand their emotional needs and understanding how they're dealing with all the challenges with the pandemic and the other things that are happening in our environment.

 

So, they're missing the point and they're missing an opportunity to connect heart to heart with their own employees. And that will prevent their employees from reaching out to the customer in such a way that that experience, as you're an expert in is at the highest level. And so we have to take care of our people and that's the leader's job.

 

Don shares that he thinks one of the most important aspects of extraordinary leadership is the ability to inspire and motivate others to high performance, Zenger, Folkman. John Zenger and Joe Folkman have done a tremendous amount of research in this regard. And they've looked at over a hundred thousand leaders around the world and from their research and their data, they have shown that statistically inspiring and motivating others to high performance is the most important aspect of extraordinary leadership.

 

So, it's one of those things that you'd say, “Well, that makes sense because when I'm inspired and motivated, I do my best work.” But as a leader, “What is it that I actually do to inspire and motivate others?” He’s sure the listeners have that question like, “How do I do that at a high level?”

 

And the number one trait that they have uncovered is making the emotional connection, similar to what he was just saying. Leaders today need to sometimes push aside their performance metrics and all of their meetings and the policies and procedures and make the emotional connection with their people, the most important thing.

 

And one good way that he often coaches his clients to do that is to go down and think about each person that's on their team and to assess how much of a relationship they have with each and every one of them, high, medium, or low, and how much trust is there in that relationship, high, medium, or low, and then to ask themselves, what can they do to invest more in that person emotionally, what can they do to connect with them in a way that maybe they don't have a connection today? It's amazing what comes up when you start to think about it at that level, as if it's one of the most important things you can do as a leader.

 

Another thing that he thinks listeners might be interested in is that the conversation around what inspires and motivates us doesn't happen very often in business today, we're expected to bring our own inspiration and motivation to our work, and absolutely the best employees are highly motivated.

 

But it's fascinating how as you go through life, what gets your attention changes as you move from maybe a very young age to mid age, to older age things that are important change. And so, what inspires and motivates you today may be different and good leaders stay in touch with what inspires and motivates their people by connecting with the changes that happen to them throughout their life.

 

And so, one way to do that is just to have a candid and curious conversation with their employees and team members about what currently inspires and motivates them. He finds a lot of leaders miss this point, because it seems like something that they feel like they don't need to talk about, but that's the problem. It is absolutely an emotional need for people to talk about what inspires and motivates them.

 

Me: And you want people to also feel very comfortable sharing with you because I may not feel comfortable sharing with you what motivates or inspires me if I don't trust you, which is what you alluded to at the beginning.

 

A big part of leadership is getting people to connect with you, but also for them to trust you. In terms of what inspires you, it means you're getting very vulnerable about what you like and what you don't like. And you typically feel more comfortable sharing that information with people who you feel you can trust, would that be fair to say?

 

Don agreed and stated that he loved the way Yanique put that together. Without that foundation of trust that you're speaking of, it is very hard to have a meaningful discussion about anything that's close to our heart, especially the things that inspire and motivate us. Vulnerability is absolutely a key and it's one of those skills that he finds a lot of leaders actually have to work at, it doesn't come natural for some reason, it seems like we've learned that when we get into the business world, we actually become less vulnerable. We become more professional, so to speak. That's not what people are looking for, they're looking for your heart, they're not looking for your professionalism.

 

Me: Why do you think leaders who are able to pretty much get a high level of productivity from their teams. There are some leaders who are not able to get that level of productivity. So, to give you an example. Yesterday I had a friend that called me and she said that her hairdresser has an employee, the young lady does really, really good in terms of her technical skills is amazing and the business owner cannot imagine this person not being in her business.

 

However, when I spoke to the owner, she said to me, the lady’s interpersonal skills are extremely poor. She doesn't know how to talk to people; she says things that comes over to be very disrespectful. The clients don't really like dealing with her, but she, the business owner cannot imagine her business without this person in it. And so, she wanted to know if I think training could fix this person. So, from a leader perspective, if you got a call like this, from a person like this, what would you recommend?

 

Don shared that his gut says that he'd like to have more information about this employee. However, just the way that you posed the case study, it sounds as though the employee has been able to perform their job without meeting some of the expectations of the job around treating the customer with respect and communicating with them at a high level.

 

And so, if someone's gotten away with underperforming in a certain aspect of their job, it really, to him, it seems to land on the business owner in this particular case. And the question he would have to her is like, “Are you willing to hold her accountable to a higher level, a higher standard of interaction with the customer?” If they're not, he wouldn't even waste the time on doing training or coaching or anything like that.

 

He thinks it starts with the business owner establishing clear expectations with all employees, not just this employee about how customers will be treated and the customer experience, and then literally holding them accountable. And if people can't do what we expect them to do, and we think they're valuable employees, then yes, training could be helpful, but only after expectations have been set. And after they attempt to hold people accountable to those expectations, what were your comments to her?

 

Me: So I asked her a series of questions. I asked her how long was she working with her? Before she hired her, did she get a background check to get any recommendations for how it is that she performed in previous employment? To which she said, no, she didn't have that. But then the young lady was working with her already. So to some extent there is really no recovery where that is concerned because you have firsthand how it is she's performing in any case.

 

Then I said to her, it sounds to me like some of the challenges you're having is not necessarily with her competency to do the job, but her attitude. And if you've spoken to her and you've indicated to her that this type of behaviour is not acceptable, your customers are not in agreement with how she's responding to him.

 

And she still continues to repeat the same behaviour, I'm not sure if any amount of training is going to help because at the end of the day, she has to make an intentional effort to ensure that her communication is one of the standard that you are expecting her to deliver to customers, even if she's the greatest shampooer or whatever the technical competence is required to ensure that customers walk out feeling that the service they came for was good.

 

But with that tangible service comes the soft side of it; “Did she pull my hair too hard? When she was speaking over me, was she speaking too roughly to me? Did she ask me questions in a tone that was just not very accommodating?” All of those things contribute to the entire experience, even if when you're washing the hair, you give it a really good wash. If how you're doing it is poor, then it takes away from the whole service experience. So, my concern was that if it's an attitude issue, I'm not sure training can fix it.

 

Don agreed and he was hoping that Yanique might be going that direction. It's very difficult to train for attitude and if it isn’t attitude, no problem as Yanique suggests it might be. He thinks training can be a waste of time. He did a lot of training and development throughout his career for over 20 years and he was always amazed at how little behaviour change followed training and he thinks a big part of it was what you're saying is that if people don't want to change, if they don't want to do something at a better higher level, they won't no matter how much training we actually give them.

 

So you're onto something, there is no doubt training does not make people change. People make people change. And he thinks that's the hardest part of leadership. And that's the hardest part of customer service is that our behaviours have to change to do it at a high level. And have you read the book Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear?

 

He hopes that listeners will get a copy of that. He thinks James Clear does a great job talking about our habits and what you can do to change them. And if you want to be a great leader, if you want to be a great customer service manager or great at customer service, it does require us to get better. And that means to him, changing habits, that book can be very helpful.

 

Me: Yeah, for sure. And I mean, the reality is our success is based on the habits that we have. So, the habits that you build upon every single day. I recently did a Facebook live and the guest was talking about changing habits and one of the questions he asked me, which was so profound Don. He said to me, you noticed how since coronavirus and the pandemic, everybody has basically had to develop a new habit overnight wearing of masks because I'm sure you were not wearing a mask prior to March 13th.

 

So, then he says to me, where do you keep your mask? So I said, to be honest with you, I keep it in my car because over the first few weeks I kept on leaving it, I would reach to my destination and I would say, why do I look/feel out of place?

 

And then I'm like, “Oh, I left my mask at home and I'm not going to turn back to get it.” So in order to ensure that I always have it, I keep it in the car because I'm not wearing it anywhere. As you know, I'm not wearing it at home. So it's clearly when I'm going on the road. And he said, you were able to develop that habit because you built it on top of other habits that you have so that you could ensure that it now became a part of your routine.

 

And, you know, when I looked at it from that perspective, I said, you know, that's a very good point. Because I had to find a way to incorporate this into my normal activities to ensure that it became, as he said, a part of my routine, where do you keep your mask Don?

 

Don shared that he keeps his mask in the car as well. He loves Yanique’s comment about habit stacking. And he thinks that's one of the things that James Clear points out. If you stack your habits, it's a much easier way to start a new habit rather than starting at all by itself, because it needs some way to get going. That's why habits are so hard. What's the old saying about old habits are strong and jealous.

 

Me: If you're accustomed to doing something for a very long time, and the reality is human beings, they put up a lot of resistance to change. When it's new, it's like, why should we do it this way? Even with these virtual experiences that we're all having now, predominantly my business has been operating from home for quite some time. Even before COVID, I decided to get rid of my office space and just operate from home.

 

And so, even when COVID came in, it wasn't a hard adjustment for me to start working from home. But people who are accustomed to going into an office from 9-5 every day, I've spoken to quite a few of my friends and even colleagues who say they don't necessarily like working from home, they prefer the blended approach, or they want to go back out to work because they miss the interaction.

 

And the reason I think they're saying that is because it's new, it's different; they're not accustomed to it. It makes them feel uncomfortable. And that change makes it very difficult for us to adjust. But then I've had clients who said that they've actually had a higher level of productivity from their team members since they've been working from home versus when they were physically in the space.

 

Don stated that he fully understands what Yanique is speaking of. And he thinks we're seeing such a change, a rapid change in the way that we do work, it's amazing. He wants to go back to what Yanique said about attitude. He wants to make sure that listeners really get the power of this. He also had a recent customer service experience where he was going through a fast food line at a restaurant to get some dinner for his grandkids.

 

And as he was doing that, he recognized right away that the speed of the service was very good. And he was very pleased with how quickly they were able to take his order and get him his food. But he also noticed there was something else that was happening that really delighted him. And it was an experience where the individual who was taking his order was willing to be personable with him and ask him some questions and also allow him to ask them some questions, because there was a little bit of a wait time before he can move on to the next point in the service line.

 

And he really enjoyed that because they became human with one another. There wasn't just an order being placed and an order being received. It was two people talking and he thought this young person has a great attitude back to your point of service because they wanted to connect with him. And he just thought that was so powerful.

 

He can't underestimate the power in customer service of people being interested. And he loves the word curious, and that's good, the curiosity word is so good for all of us leaders as well as customer service providers.

 

When asked how he stays motivated, Don stated that that's a great question. It's very simple for him and maybe it won't even resonate that much with your listeners because he’s going to give you an answer, it's called purpose.

 

He believes that his purpose in life is to change the world one leader at a time. And what he’s trying to do is bring greater, better leaders into the world because the world right now desperately needs good servant leaders that can bring a higher level of performance in all aspects of our society. We're so desperate for people to be peacemakers and to find ways for the world to live more in harmony, where we can take care of each other.

 

And so his purpose shows up every time he wakes up in the morning and he’s getting started to begin his day, he lives his life to be on purpose. And even during the difficult periods where maybe there's challenges that he didn't expect or challenges with certain clients or clients situations, he doesn't let it get to him because he recognize that it's one aspect of him being able to fulfill his purpose.

 

It's not a difficulty that he needs to dread, it's just something he needs to work around so that he can fulfill his purpose. And he thinks every time that he’s on purpose and I can tell you (Yanique) live her life on purpose, he'd like to hear how Yanique frames her purpose. It just makes such a huge difference in terms of the way that you do the work that you do.

 

Me: It does. It's funny you said that because when I started this business back in 2007, 2008, I started it because I thought about what it is that I really like to do. But I also started it because I also thought about in Jamaica, which is where I live and I was born and I've spent all of my life, customer service is challenging.

 

So, Jamaican people are extremely warm and friendly, but I find that in a lot of the service businesses, you don't necessarily get that warm and friendliness. It's almost like you feel like you're begging them to serve you. And so I started to think, how could I contribute to improving the quality of service in Jamaica and globally? And I started to think about a cartoon that I used to watch when I was a little girl called Care Bears. I don't know if you know it.

 

So my vision for the company is “To Create a More Caring World.” And it was inspired through the Care Bears. If I could be the Care Bear with that little beam on my tummy. And I'm beaming this light out to basically, as you said to change one lead at a time, but to change each company or each team member at a time that they are converted to ensuring that in every interaction they have, whether they stay at that company that I train them in, or they leave and start their own business, or they go and work for someone else. They always ensure that they deliver a high quality of service, because I think if our service experiences improved, we'll all have a better quality of life.

 

You'll go through the day and you will feel like, “Oh my goodness, I had a great day today. I had such good interactions. People were so accommodating. Things ran so smoothly.” And of course, if you have fewer obstacles, then you'll be less stressed. So, that's really my purpose every day to create a more caring world and I'm that Care Bear that's basically trying to beam my little light across on everyone. So yeah, I do get you when you say; it's all about your purpose.

 

Don agreed that it's all about your purpose and thanked Yanique for having that purpose too. What a beautiful way to live your life and to be a role model for your area. Hopefully the listeners are like, “I get that. I understand exactly why you're doing that.” He sometimes finds people will say, “Well, I'm glad you have that purpose, but that's not my purpose.” He always says, “We'll fine, find your purpose. You don't have to have my purpose.”

 

Me: Just figure out what it is that really drives you. There are days does, I talk to people many times and they say to me, “How do you get up and do the same thing every day? Don't, you get bored of it? Don't you get frustrated?” But I don't because I understand what my why is and it drives me every single day. Every, every article I read, if I watch something on TV, if I'm talking to someone, it all goes back to service, how we serve each other.

 

And so, I'm always looking for opportunities. I'm always stimulated, there's not a day that goes by that I'm not excited about doing something new in the customer experience spectrum. So I think at the end of the day, if you're really passionate about what you're doing, then of course it doesn't seem like work and you don't get de-motivated or on days when your energy might not be there, you still have some desire to want to do it because you're really passionate about it.

 

Don shared that he often will do some self coaching, as you kind of talk to yourself in your own head. And he will always say when he feels like there's a level of frustration or de-motivation, or just the challenge of getting through everyday life, he'll say, “Don, get on your purpose. Get back to your purpose. If you feel like you're frustrated, that means that you're just not paying enough attention to your why.” As you just called it out.

 

And he’s sure the listeners in Jamaica and around the world are like, “Thank you for what you do.” Without doing what you do, other people would not be telling their story. So this is why what you’re doing is so powerful.

 

When asked about an online resource that he could not live without in his business, Don shared that it's such a tough question because he uses so many. He was going to recommend to the listeners to go to www.zengerfolkman.com because they have so many resources around leadership.

 

There are many, many theories about what makes a good leader. And there are many, many books around leadership. It's like a giant ocean and he finds it overwhelming, many of his clients had done, he doesn't know what to do. There are too many things for him to focus on as a leader. And he completely gets that. And so what he often says is like, “Well, why don't we do a 360 and get some feedback from the people that you lead, including your boss and your peers. And let's ask them how you lead today and get their feedback.”

 

And Zenger Folkman has this wonderful 360 degree assessment that allows leaders to get an accurate perception of how other people see them as a leader, with that, and then you can determine how to put together an action plan to build new skills or to build the strengths that you currently have. And so they've written a lot of great articles and white papers about that, and all of those things reside on their website, he would highly recommend that they do that.

 

When asked about books that have had a great impact on him, Don shared that he used to read a whole book. He hardly does that anymore. He often read the first chapter, the last chapter, and then he'll skim read around the middle of the book a bit. A book that he cannot seem to put down, he goes back to repeatedly over and over as a very simple book, but it's called Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry.

 

What a great resource, one, because it gives you that self assessment at the back of it. So you can go online and take a self assessment to kind of determine your emotional intelligence level. But two, because it gives you 66 great suggestions of how you can build your emotional intelligence through new behaviours or changing your behaviour.

 

And he loves that because it's very application oriented. He love books that can get him to move in a direction that allows him to be a better person, better leader. So, he thinks Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry is one of those resources that the listeners could greatly benefit from.

 

Don shared that he really has been inspired by their conversation today about purpose. And he’s trying to put together a masterclass on how to discover your purpose because he finds that many people have not. They haven't had the fortunate experience he and Yanique have had where they actually have been able to define what it is. It seems to him that most people say, “I'm not exactly sure what my purpose is, and I don't know how to find it.”

 

What's the best way to decide that purpose is hard to discover. It is certainly something that is discoverable, but it doesn't just plop into your lap because you say, “I need to know my purpose.” It takes quite a bit of work and effort and reflection and searching and soul searching. And he just would like to help people in the future with a masterclass of some sort, where they could have a methodology to be able to discover what their purpose is.

 

Me: So how far along is that master class? Cause I'm sure I could recommend it to quite a few people.

 

Don shared that he has the outline. He’s just trying to figure out and actually testing some of the things that he has put into the outline with some people that are in that stage of discovery and asking them to give him feedback, like, “Was this helpful? What worked, what didn't work for you?” He finds that the discovery process for purpose seems to be pretty highly customized, so he’s having a tough time finalizing the approach because he thinks it has to have enough options to it, a variability to allow people to kind of modify the process to their personality and their style.

 

Me: Do you have a Facebook group?

 

Don shared that he doesn’t have a Facebook, he almost do everything through LinkedIn. He doesn’t have a particular LinkedIn group that he has sponsored yet. He shared that may that’s what he needs to do with purpose.

 

Me: That would be a great idea because then you would definitely be getting people who are specifically aligned with what you are trying to achieve. And then you'd be talking to the right people.

 

 

  • Don shared listeners can find him at –

Website – www.donfrericks.com

            LinkedIn – @donfrericks

Don: Allow me to offer a gift to your listeners; the first chapter of my new book Best Boss Ever: https://bit.ly/DonFrericks

 

Don shared that it's interesting that he read this right before they went online together today and it's often called the Serenity Prayer. He thinks it's actually a great quote, but it's about helping reframe the things that we cannot change and the things we can change and helping ourselves stay focused on the things that we can change and trying to find the strength to do that.

 

It's easy to get spun up today and the way that the entire world is demanding attention and the unrest and the racism that exists and all the frustration that people are experiencing with the pandemic. And many of those items we cannot directly change, but what we can change is our attitude and our emotional attachment and what we get involved with and what we don't get involved with.

 

And he thinks one way to make the world a better place is to focus on the three things that you stand for is to live, love and laugh. If you bring that out, that's something that we can all control, how we live, how we love, how we laugh. And so he thinks the serenity prayer to him makes all kinds of difference and it's a good reminder to focus on what we can control.

 

Me: It's actually a prayer that I revert to us from time to time as well. It reminds me of the law of attraction. Whatever you think about comes about. So, if you really put these affirmations and record or repeat these different positive things on a daily basis, you're actually intentionally feeding your mind with positivity and not focusing on all the things that as you said, you don't really have any control over. So you really want to focus on the things that you can control and try to be a positive agent of change in those areas.

 

 

 

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Jul 21, 2020

Elise Quevedo is the author of inspirational book “Creating a Kick-Ass Attitude”, keynote speaker, advisor and social/digital media marketing consultant and storyteller. She is ranked among the Top 2% most viewed profiles on LinkedIn.

 

Known as “The Digital Ghost Queen” for her behind the scenes work, Elise has inspired audiences around the globe and spends most of her time advising and helping businesses and individuals from C-Level executives to Hollywood stars thrive in the cyber space.

 

Elise often writes for MilliOnAir digital magazine where she shares inspiring interviews, personal thoughts and tech write ups. As a global thought leader, she has collaborated with Fortune 500 companies such as Amazon, Huawei Technologies, Ebay, and Paypal.

 

She is always keen to learn about new technologies, brands and getting the extra knowledge that keeps her on top of her game.

Questions

  • Could you share with us a little bit about your journey? Tell us how it is that you managed to get into this sphere of social media and digital marketing as well as customer experience?
  • With the impact by Covid-19, you spoke a lot about digital transformation in that webinar and we would love if you could bring some of that loveliness that you shared with the webinar with our audience.
  • So could you explain to us what this Social Media Emotional Quotient is? Is it connected to emotional intelligence?
  • Could you maybe give us two or three behaviours that should be transferred or it should be very apparent interaction in a digitized space that would just has happen in a face-to-face interaction.
  • Could you share with us how do you stay motivated everyday?
  • Can you share with us what's the one online resource, tool, website or app that you absolutely cannot live without in your business?
  • Can you share with us maybe one or two books that either you've read in the past or even recently that have had a really big impact on you?
  • Can you share with us what's one thing that's going on in your life right now that you're really excited about - either something that you are working on to develop yourself or your people?
  • Where can our listeners find you online?
  • What is one quote or saying that during times of adversity or challenge will revert to this quote or saying and it kind of helps to keep you refocused or just gets you back on track in terms of what you're working on?

Highlights

Elise shared that a few years ago; she wrote a book on personal development called Creating a Kick-Ass Attitude which is all about being positive in life. And when she wrote it, nobody knew who she was. And she thought, “Now what do you do?” Because she wrote this thing which she thinks is of value. And then she started going to some seminars, getting information on social media, this was back in 2012.

 

And Elise being Elise, she is someone who she doesn't just do a little bit of research, she tend to go 20 hours a day trying to get as much information as possible. So, she came on to the social platform journey when there was a boom, which happened in between 2012 and 2014. So by the time 2013 came, she started travelling the world and talking about social platforms. And from there people started giving her nicknames like, “Oh, Twitter girl and Twitter queen and then the Digital ghost queen.” Because she is not always in front of the camera.

 

Sometimes she does a lot behind the scenes for companies or individuals that people don't know about. So, she started doing that and that is also how she got in to the customer service. Before jumping onto the online world, she was working in marketing, normal 9 to 5 job, which is what most people do that are young people.

 

She worked in an airport, what she got to experience a little of what it was to offer good customer service. So, put that together with the online world, she managed to be able to give value, such as the webinar where we met, which is how she is now able to give new insights. And that's pretty much the short version of her journey.

 

Me: Where is your book available? Is it available on Amazon?

 

Elise shared that her book is actually available on Amazon. But for anyone that listens to this and she is actually quite happy to give a PDF version. So, anyone that asks you for it, please, no need to buy it online unless you want, of course to buy the printed version. But the online one for just as a thank you for having her on the show today, she will give you a copy.

 

Here is the link to be able to get to download the PDF Version:

 

Creating a Kick-Ass Attitude - https://aw174737.aweb.page/p/18062eb8-8b19-4317-8232-fbed99bb2cda

 

Elise shared that digital transformation, especially for customer service, now needs more automated processes to be able to scale the business. And she thinks one of the key points that she wanted people to know was about artificial intelligence.

 

Artificial intelligence now continues to get more and more intuitive and is a critical part in the customer experience journey and it will continue to increase. So, let’s give some examples, because she thinks many of us or the people who will be listening will understand it.

 

Think about any cell phone company, whether it is Vodafone or T-Mobile or even an airline, because now we're going to start travelling again very soon. And we’ve all been there where we needed to complain about something or we've had a problem, and then we jumped on an online chat and as a customer service option, instead of calling, you’re being stuck for like 20 minutes on the phone.

 

In the past, we always had the same two sentences. For example, “You are number X in the queue” or “We apologize for the wait, a customer representative will be with you soon.” Remember when that was the only option. It was always the same. Every minute you will get the same sentence over and over again. And eventually, we would hang up and tried to call again. This was of course was the old school way.

 

But now, that experience has improved thanks to real time engagement provided by artificial intelligence power services. Think about it, whilst we wait, we now get courage to ask more detailed questions about our challenge and then the virtual assistants or the chatbots are searching their gazillion bits of information in their systems and they provide potential links to the solutions that might help us instead of waiting to talk to a customer service representative.

 

And this is now being accelerated in many companies because it saves many of us having to talk to an agent because sometimes a lot of our queries can actually be solved by artificial intelligence. This is where digital transformation comes in because they are now creating predictive personalization, because the more we shop online, the more that artificial intelligence can predict our behaviour of how we shop, how we interact, which means that it can help businesses create experiences that make customers feel like their brand experience was tailored for them.

 

We are talking about a world now where especially what we mentioned during Covid-19, we have become restless, we don't want to wait, people want these fast services like, “Hey, I ask you a question. I expect an answer straight away.” So digital now is playing a huge part. Also, social media.

 

If we think about customer service now versus 10 year ago, for example, many brands are all flying not just automated tools, but customer service through Twitter or Instagram or through LinkedIn. Because now we are so accustomed to jumping on these platforms versus calling a customer service number or e-mailing your customer service. So, digital transformation, it is a huge part of these customer service and customer experience that we're experiencing now and we will in the future.

 

Me: You sent me two copies of your bio, your long bio version and your short bio, but long one, there was a particular sentence that really caught my eye, it said, “That's why she created the (SMEQ) Social Media Emotional Quotient, which is the art and influence of creating, attracting and building better business relationships through digital media.” So could you explain to us what this Social Media Emotional Quotient is? Is it connected to like emotional intelligence?

 

Elise agreed and stated that Yanique is absolutely spot on. She believes that when people go on social media, they seem to forget that there is a human being behind every user, every person. Well, except, of course, all the bots. But most people that are using social media, such as you and me, we are human beings and we want to be treated as such. We don't want to be treated as just another number or just another person online, because the one thing that she has noticed is that when people are face to face, they behave one way and the minute they jump online, they seem to forget about that.

 

And she always says, “You should treat people online the same way as if you did it face to face." So when she interacts through social channels, she imagine that she’s talking to that person face to face, as if she had just met them at an event, as if she was having a coffee. So creating, attracting and building better relationships means treat people as human beings and interact and treat them as such an individual, because not every person that you talk to is going to be the same.

 

So although we make generic messaging on our channels, although we may put different things, when we interact, we must treat each person as if we were treating them face to face. And maybe then our customer service changes. But she thinks people we seem to have a different kind of mindset when we are online and we don't give it the same importance when we can actually reach anywhere in the world because of social now a days. And that is what the SMEQ is all about. It's about interacting more as a human and not just another social and robot kind of person.

 

Me: So if we're interacting like a human being, as you said, treating people as if they were physically in front of us, the same behaviours, attitudes, whatever it is that would have followed through in that face-to-face interaction, should transcend into a digital experience.

 

Elise shared that one of the most important would be personalization. She'll give you the perfect example. On Twitter, if we are active on Twitter, for example. We are all followed by people and she sees many people who copy a strategy from others, or she is someone that takes the time to check every person that follows her. Of course, sometimes it is people who have nothing to do with her field, “Okay, thank you for following, it’s great.”

 

But when it's someone that has a full profile, they have a photo and they have a bio, they're acting on social, you can see that they are making an effort themselves to be online. She always say thank you but with a personal message, meaning. Number one, she checks the name of that person, which means she has to click on their profile and see what their name is and based on their location, no matter where she is, then she wishes them either good day, good morning or good evening depending on where they are based on, again, what they say on their bio, if it says America. And she’s, for example, in Europe, that is specific time is morning for them. She will say good morning.

 

So, that means that she’s actually taking time out of her personal time to check who you are. And it shows that this is not just an automated tool that is saying thank you for following. Like she sees many people, she will say, “Thank you for following me, X name. Have a great morning, have a great evening.” Or sometimes she checks their links, she checks their latest posts. She will have a quick look.

 

So she makes it personalized and that automatically is what you would do face to face. Oh, hey, you've met someone and somebody introduces you. You call them by their name. And if it is morning, you wish them good morning, if it’s evening; you wish them a good evening. So you can transcend that from face to face to online and interact in the same way. If you were talking to someone over the phone or you were at an event face to face, how do you normally interact with people?

 

What questions do you ask them when you are meeting somebody new? You can easily do that through your social channels. It is always about putting ourselves in the customer's shoes as well. How do you want to be treated? It’s another thing that she feels we forget, we are all customers first and we're all human beings first. So, how do you talk to people? Don't change just because it's online. Those are two of the most important ones for her.

 

Me: And it's so important that we bring across the human aspect of our interaction when we're talking to people. Because as you said, yes, we're communicating digitally but there is a human being behind that with feelings and emotions, fears, anxiety, all the things that a human being experiences, worse in this time when things are not so stable, people don't know what to expect, tomorrow's never guaranteed. So, that's why you really need to live in the moment but even so with all of the things that are happening.

 

Elise agreed and stated that there are everyday solutions, for example, that we can do to improve customer experiences or service, because she thinks, like she mentioned earlier, above all, we are all customers first. So ask yourself, would I be happy with a customer service that I am providing to others? And if the answer is no, then rethink. What are you doing? We could probably talk hours on this so she’ll give you a couple of pointers.

 

To provide a good customer experience, you must know who your customers are because we mentioned it’s different of course, dealing face to face than online. On face to face we can understand if this person is young, is this person old, we can understand who someone is. So, if you have a team of people, this is something that is done a lot when you train or create a strategist which is, create different personas or create a different type of customers and then train people on how you would deal if you were dealing with someone like that.

 

For examples, in one hand, you can have Lola, who is like 30 years old and she’s young, she’s savvy, she knows how to click on every link you send her, she knows how to follow a video, a tutorial. But on the other hand, you have Jonas, who is 50 or 60 years old and needs a little bit more clear instructions on what to do on each step of your customer journey.

 

So, don't assume that every customer has the same knowledge you do and that other customers do. This is where personalization comes in, care about who each of your customers is. Don't give the wrong information to someone that already knows everybody. This is why creating that emotional connection with customers is so important. That's why she created the Social Media Emotional Quotient and she always talks about, remember behind every platform, behind everything we do digitally, there is a human being. Customers become loyal because they're emotionally attached and they remember how they felt or how they feel when they use a product or a service.

 

So, a business that optimizes for an emotional connection, they can actually outperform competition by 85% in sales growth. If she remembers correctly, there was a Harvard Business Review study called The New Science of Customer Emotions, you can go and Google that and it talks about these things as to how they are at least three times more likely to recommend your product or service. They are three times more likely to repurchase, all because they feel emotionally connected to your product.


So, there are multiple things that we can do to keep our customers engaged. And of course, if you are brand new, please research your competitors and then create goals and objectives for you. Competition is a good thing no matter what product or service we have, we're not unique.

 

There are many people doing podcasts, there are many people doing social and digital like her. There are many people who have restaurants; there are many people who have every service and that is right, competition is good because it helps us do our best.

 

So, get inspired by those that are in the same industry as you and then look up back at what you're doing, improving the areas you feel you're lacking. She always think when she was very young somebody told her one thing, on the left, we have people that always look up to us and they go, “Oh, wow, I wish I was like Elise or like Yanique.” And then us too, we're always looking to someone on our right that we go, “Oh, wow. I wish I was like X and Y.” Because no matter where we are in life, she remembers one of her former mentors, Jim Rohn always taught her, “You will never stop learning until the day you die.” If you say you know everything, then that's just too egotistical. Nobody knows everything in life. One of the keys to stay humble, have integrity and keep on learning, because no matter what we do, there was always someone on our left and there's always someone on our right.


Me: Agreed. Since this lock down, I've learned so much Elise and I'm so excited. I've been doing more videos and I've been watching YouTube videos of other people who do videos, what they're doing, how they've done jump cuts to kind of make the videos a little bit more engaging and adding captions and subtitles.

 

And I mean, I feel like a video star just watching what they do on and actually going into the application I'm using and applying the same methodology and seeing that come to life in my videos. It's just been amazing to me and I feel like I'm learning more now than I learned in my traditional learning platform of going to school like getting my degree or going to high school, because these are actual things, practical activities that you can do and you see the engagement and the impact that it’s having in the lives of other people.


Elise agreed completely because back in the day, nobody taught us any of these. Plus, back in the day, the jobs that we're doing now didn’t even exist and that’s another part of it. And now, there are going to be jobs in 20 years that we don't even know they exist just yet. So, with the power of social and YouTube and Vimeo and all these platforms, you can learn anything, you don't even have to have a mentor if you can’t afford one. Just go on social media, go on YouTube, go on Google and click what you want to learn.

 

And then you will get excited and the key role is to always keep on doing this stuff for yourself. Back in the day, we used to have this little joke of all these people that will keep on buying personal development books and instead of self development, they were called shelf development because they could buy lots and lots, but they never actioned anything.

 

And she thinks that’s the difference, it’s okay to watch videos and to get inspired by others as long as you take action on your own goals and dreams, because if you don’t that, you're helping somebody else getting more popular and part of the key either talk, talk, talk or talk, talk and walk the walk, there's a big difference.

 

When asked how she stays motivated, Elise shared that for her, it's all about having the right attitude. Like she mentioned nearly a decade ago, she wrote that book Creating a Kick-Ass Attitude, and there are still many tips from there that she uses on a daily basis, and it's all around being positive and never letting anything bring you down as an individual.

 

For example, before she gets out of bed every day, she looks up to the ceiling and she reminds herself of three things that she is thankful for and these three things are not material. So, for example, it could be her health being alive, having a roof over her head, having had a great meal with a friend that week or a great call. Anything that has meaning and reminds her of what life is all about.

 

And before she goes to bed, no matter how good or a bad day she may have had. She also does a grateful moment for something that has happened to her on that day. She is a very big believer about everything in life is either a blessing or a life lesson. And she now gets to do what she loves. So, for her is staying motivated is easy but it took a while to get there. So she thinks the key is that we should all aim to do something that we're good at and that we're passionate about.

 

Because when you do that, then you don't really consider it work. If you find it hard to be motivated, for example, she used to do this in the past. You could write your thoughts on a personal journal or just like a big piece of paper, like an A4, and then read it back to yourself the next day and find out what it is that is making you frustrated. Taking a time-out out of the day is so very important for her.

 

She spends a lot of time on her laptop, on her cell phones, for example, since she’s digital nomad. So she has reminders throughout the day to stop, to close down her technology and to look up to the sky, to go for a little walk or to simply listen to maybe one song that she really likes.

 

And she also has mantras and some of her favourite quotes lying around so that she always has something positive to look at. And one of the things that many people find silly but is actually to keep hydrated, you'll be surprised that the effect of what not drinking enough water in the day can do to your body and your mind. So, she’s share some of the things that she personally do.

 

And sleep is very important. She will contradict you there because anyone that knows her, she doesn't know why for the last few years. She is a little bit like Thomas Edison, she sleeps between 3 and 5 hours a night and then she will have a little catnap during the day sometimes. It’s not as the normal person but normally the sleep is good.

 

Me: Most of the research that I have done says you should be getting between 7 to 9 hours of sleep but if you're getting your 5 at an average per night but then you’re capturing the difference in a day catnap then maybe you should be good.

 

She (Elise) did research on that because she thought it was weird that she was okay after 3 or 4 hours sometimes. So there are times she will sleep for 8 or 9 and then she came across this little research on how there were people such as Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein and some of the great minds who didn’t sleep in the average pattern. So, she thinks a lot of people will say, you can't say that Elise because you are meant to sleep 7 to 10 hours. But that is her personal story and she’s not telling anyone to do the same, she’s just sharing.

 

Me: At the end of the day, you have to know your body. Just like with exercise, sometimes you you’ll exercise when you feel you're doing some form of a workout that is too intense for you. You almost feel like your body's giving out. So, you know when it's your limit and you have to stop. I think with sleep it's the same thing. If you rest and the next morning you wake up, you don't feel like you are fully rested or you have the energy, then you probably need to look into your sleep pattern.

 

Or maybe it could be dietary requirements, maybe you need to change up what to eat or as you said, maybe we need to be drinking more water because I think all of these things work together to ensure that you feel energetic and you don't feel lethargic and tired. And it's almost like you have to be pulling yourself through the day to get activities done. So, you have to know your body, everybody's different.

 

Elise agreed and shared that she had stopped asking herself many questions and it comes from the same mentor she had back in the late 90s, which was Jim Rohn and there were many questions that he would say, “Some things are a mystery.” He goes, stop asking and same with the sleep, he goes like, “Your body knows when enough is enough, don’t question it. One day you will need 4 hours, another 7, another 6. If you feel okay and your body and mind feel okay, who is anybody else to tell you to go back to sleep.” And that's what she did for herself and she continues to do that to this day.

 

She gets fuelled by energy, good conversations fuels her. She has had conversations with friends where they're up until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning and then she goes, “Oh, no, but I'm supposed to be asleep.” And then an hour later she’s like, “Oh, well, it's already 4:00; you’re not going to sleep tonight.”

 

And then her body just completely goes on to the next day and people go, “Elise, are you not tired?” And she’s thinking that yesterday sleeps already but she’ll sleep later because that is something that she has trained her body to do because she gets fuelled by energy a lot. And unless you understand how that works, many people think, “Elise, you're just crazy. That’s just not normal.” Who are we to say what's normal and what's not? So again, if it feels right for you, please don't listen to anybody else. We are the best listeners to who we are, and that's all we can do.

 

When asked about an online resource that she cannot live without in her business, Elise shared that for her, she cannot name one but she has to say social media platforms, all of them. She would be lost without them because for her, they are the tools that help her express who she is and they allow her to share my thoughts and insights freely and at any time without any constrictions. She gets to be her no matter what anyone else says. And so, if all platforms went down, “Oh, please.”

 

For her, she would say in the order of preference because she started with Twitter. Twitter will always be very close to her heart. But she is actively on Twitter, on LinkedIn as her main two business platforms. Instagram is more for social, so she will share when she’s travelling and motivational quotes.

 

And she also uses WeChat and Facebook. Snapchat and TikTok not so much. She didn’t get on to them for business and when it comes to social, she doesn't focus so much on personal sharing because for her, they're both together. Then she focuses on the platforms where she can do both business and personal. So she would say Twitter, LinkedIn equally followed by Instagram, Facebook, WeChat.

 

When asked about books that have had the biggest impact, Elise shared that she loves this question because she thinks there are so many books out there that people get inspired by.

 

But she would say Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill was one of the first ever books that she read in the late 90s. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, that's an incredible book. The Art of War, for anyone who dares reads the book by Sun Tzu, it's a book that she would recommend to everybody. It has so many teachings from the military, but in an inspirational way.

 

And one more which is How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie. These are books that she doesn't read just once; she will probably read them once a year because they're great and she uses them as references all the time.

 

Anything that makes you learn. One of her dreams was to have a big library like you see in the movies with a mixture of old books of history. But then all the modern books of inspiration and real business and life stories.

 

Me: So we will have all of those books that Elise just shared with us in the show notes of this episode and links to them. If it is that you have not had the opportunity to engage in any of these books and as Elise said, now is a time to be filling your mind, your body and your soul with all of the positive, enlightening information that can help you to be more productive, that can help you to be more innovative, and that can definitely help you to grow on a personal and professional level.

 

Elise shared that she gets excited about pretty much everything that she does, but especially now during this time the world has gone through and we are still going through, she’s excited to be alive. So, she’s very excited to continue sharing her knowledge with new clients and some podcasts like yours.

 

Because if one person gets a little bit motivated based on something that she has shared, then her job is done. So, she is eager to continue doing this and getting back on a stage face to face, although she has loved doing Zoom videos and Zoom has become her best friend over the last few months.

 

She is excited to get back on the real face to face kind of events where you can also interact and see people's expressions, which of course is very different. She grew up without technology until she was 19 years old. So, she’s one of those people that can appreciate both the new reality, our new world of digital. But no matter what, there is nothing like a face to face meeting and being able to see someone's excitement or when somebody says thank you, it is not the same face to face as when it is online.

 

So, that is what she’s really excited about. She has been invited to a few events already in Turkey and in Spain. So those are the first two that she’s looking forward to the most. As long as, of course, COVID-19 allows us to have these events over the next few months. And she is releasing a new edition of Creating a Kick-Ass Attitude this summer, so she is very excited to be doing that.

 

 

  • Elise shared listeners can find her at –

LinkedIn – @elisequevedo

Twitter – @EliseQuevedo

Facebook – Elise C Quevedo

Instagram - @elisequevedo

 

                                               

When asked about a quote or saying that she reverts to, Elise shared that the most relevant right now is, “Remember that the journey of a 1,000 miles, it starts with a single step.” She believes that we're in a time of uncertainty; people don't know how to continue or how to restart. So remember, everything begins with that one single step, one step at a time. That's all we have to do.


Me: So, we just need to start, just take that one step. And I think sometimes people get crippled by fear, they think about all of the things that they don't have and how are you're going get it done. But as you said, you take one step and it may not be perfect, but then you go again and you take another step.

 

It's funny. I interviewed a young lady, she's on LinkedIn as well, and her name is Cher Jones. She's a Social Corporate Media Trainer and she was the first Facebook live that I was ever doing in my life. So I've been podcasting for 4 years now, so I think I'm pretty much really good at podcasting.

 

But video is a little bit different because with the podcast, I can drop it into an editing software and I can add some music and of course, jazz it up, I can cut out stuff like errors that I would have made but with live, that's it. There's no editing, there's no cutting out, it's just live and direct at that moment in time.

 

And I was very fearful to take that first step and she said something to me that was so powerful. She said, “Yanique, the first thing you need to do is start because you'll realize that by your tenth episode in, you are so much better at episode 10 than you were at episode 1 and all it took was just for you to start.”

 

And when I think about my first podcast episode, May 24, 2016, how I was then to how I am now. I really feel like I've come a very far way, I'm so much more comfortable doing it. And you're right; you just need to take that first steps. I recommend anybody listening to this podcast. If there's anything out there that you are fearful of doing, as Elise said, just take that first step.

 

Elise shared a simply start. Remember when we were kids, just because we fell the first time we wanted to walk or tried to ride a bike, we didn't stop, we kept on going. But the older we get, the harder it is to start and the more fear we get. There is a very thin line; she was talking about this with someone the other day.

 

The same thing that makes us have fear is a similar feeling to the adrenaline of adventure and wanting to do things. So, sometimes the same adrenaline that makes us go, “Yes, let's do this.” is the same that then deviates to us fear that goes, “No, no, no. Let me go back.”

 

So, all you need to do is just have faith. And remember, it's not about how many times you fail; it's about how many times you get up. So, keep on going, take one step at a time and remember many of the great people out there, any one that passed on something great, everybody started at zero. Nobody ever woke up and became Yanique and had a podcast that was amazing.

 

Nobody got up and was Tony Robbins from day one or Richard Branson or Warren Buffett, it was a journey. If you believe in your product, if you believe in who you are, then you will always keep going.

 

There is one more thing that she’s going to share is that she like to talk to people about the magic that we all have. She always says that on one side you have the magic of your product or the idea that you have. And on the other side, you have the magic of you, the magic of what you have inside of your mind. The knowledge that you have, the passion for your product, your idea, the story, how you start it, you know yourself and your idea or product inside and out.

 

There is no one better to explain it than you. Hence the importance of sharing what you're passionate about. We are all unique human beings and we should focus on what we can do best, not our flaws or our fear, because nobody's perfect. It is always about how we react.

 

So, if you believe in yourself, then the right people will too. There are about 7.7 billion people on this planet; it is not about being liked by everybody or everybody buying our product, it’s just that the right ones who get who we are, then they will be around us. So that's the magic inside of you. What's your mantra? What is your personal gift? Figure that out and that will always drive you forwards no matter how many times you fall.

 

 

Please connect with us on Twitter @navigatingcx and also join our Private Facebook Community – Navigating the Customer Experience and listen to our FB Lives weekly with a new guest

 

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Jul 14, 2020

Amy Austin, a marketing and branding strategies guide, allows her clients to embrace the power of purpose in all aspects of their business and transform it into the central storyline of their branding and marketing strategies.

Her focus on empathy and building authentic relationships comes from nearly 20 years building successful marketing campaigns and brands in the health care sector.

 

Questions

 

  • Could you share with us a little bit about your journey? It says here that you have nearly 20 years experience building marketing campaigns and brands in the health care sector. How did you get into that? And tell us a little bit about your journey in the health care sector, working with different brands and building in different campaigns.
  • Can you share with us how it is that a company can make branding look like a real business instead of something that they're doing themselves? But more importantly, how can we make sure our values and our brand is reflected in our customer experiences?
  • What are three core values that you think across the board that should be translated into the actual experience that the customer or the patient is having?
  • Can you share with us what's one online tool, website or app that you absolutely can't live without in your business?
  • Maybe give us one or two books that you've read either recently or maybe a book that you read a long time ago that has had a really good impact on you.
  • Share with us what's one thing that's going on in your life right now that you're really excited about, either something you're working on to develop yourself or your people.
  • Where can our listeners find you online?
  • What is one quote or saying that during times of adversity or challenge, if you need to remind yourself of this quote to kind of help you to refocus or just to get back on that path to achieve what you're trying to achieve?

Highlights

Amy shared that she started right out of college, she got a job at a radio station and it was at a time when that particular station was going through a lot of leadership changes. And so within six months of being there, she was feeling very insecure as a first time professional job. And she was seeing all these people get fired or leave. She was like, “I need to find an exit strategy.” Her exit strategy happened to be a job opening at a large tertiary healthcare system in her home state of South Dakota.

 

And she started working in their communications department. And it's funny because when she started working there, she had a number of people ask her, “Marketing in a hospital, what are you doing? Promoting people getting sick?” She was like, no, that would not be what we're doing.

 

What we're doing is trying to make sure that when you do need the service, you're fully aware of where it is you might want to go. So that you don't have that stress in the moment of when you really need it, that you're not having to try and figure out where is the best place for you to go. She always laugh about that because it's like, “No, no, no, no, we don't want people to be sick. We really don't want them to use our services but when they do, we want them to know we're here.”

 

So, she stayed at that particular hospital for about 5 years and really enjoyed what she was doing. She got to learn a lot about paediatric healthcare, women's healthcare, and helped lead some brand development in both of those areas, as well as the affiliated Wellness Athletic Center that was owned by the health system that she worked for. And then not long after that, she started working at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa. And she’s not sure if they've ever been able to prove this point, but they always like to say that they were the largest academic medical center by square footage.

 

And like she said, she’s not sure that they were ever able to validate that point, but they like to say it on occasion. And she worked there for 12 ½ years. And during that time, she served as the primary liaison with their advertising agency to develop out all of their image campaigns. So, their television, radio, print, sometimes billboard, sometimes the online component fell into that. But that usually was more specific to the actual services as opposed to that bigger umbrella image message that they wanted to get out there.

 

So, during that time, she worked on 8 or 9 different large campaigns to help build awareness. She also led the effort to change the name of their children's hospital to be more closely aligned with the university name as opposed to what it had been. And really just really got to know a lot about the different aspects of healthcare, how we recruit staff into the facility, because nursing is a high demand job and there's not as many people going into nursing.

 

And so, it's typically an area that there are a lot of job openings and not enough people applying for them, and so she worked with their nursing leadership to develop a recruitment campaign at one point that helped their facility go from a 18% vacancy rate in terms of positions that needed to be filled down to a 3% vacancy rate. Prior to that, how they were filling those positions was with travelling nurses and so they would come in and work for 6 months and then they'd move on to somewhere else.

 

And so, what they wanted as an organization at that time was really to get nurses who were fully employed and fully vested with their organization, as opposed to somebody who was just going be there for a period of time and move on.

 

And so, they were able to do that. And it was an exciting campaign to be on because we really were able to see the benefits quickly of how appreciative the nursing staff was to have somebody next to them that they knew was going to be here for the long term. And there was just a difference in morale across the nursing staff as they started to fill those open positions with employed staff as opposed to travelling staff.

 

And so that was exciting. Obviously, the roll out of the name change of the children's hospital was also a really exciting project to be part of. Part of that, too, as if you ever need to know where to find a mascot costume, she has those resources as well because they ended up developing a mascot for the children's hospital and she had to find a place to make the costume, which was not anything she ever thought she would do in her career.

 

But she did found a company in Canada, not sure if they still exist or not, but did find them and rolled out a new mascot for their children's hospital, which was a lot of fun.

 

Amy shared that she has worked on her own now for 8 years and through the course of that time, what she has realized in working with a variety different clients in different aspects of different stages of their business and in different industries, not just healthcare anymore, is that a lot of times they rush to just get marketing strategies out the door.

 

They want to see something happening and coming back into their business, and they believe the best way to do that is to get an ad out the door or get something on Facebook or whatever that might be. And oftentimes what ends up happening is that they end up frustrated and feeling like it didn't produce the results that they wanted.

 

Well, when you peel back that and really look at why, it's usually because they haven't done the work to truly know what their brand stands for. Why did they start their business? What do they stand for? Where's their mission and vision? Where are they hoping to go in the next 5 years? And really understood and developed out a strategy for what their brand and their marketing needs to look like.

 

So they've gone and thrown out a message that maybe doesn't align with what they're doing or it doesn't attract the right audience. And so then it fails and so when you do that foundational work first. And really get that clarity around who you are, what you're doing, why you do it, how you do it and who you're doing it for. Then you can understand what issues are they facing at the time that they need my service? What problems are they trying to solve that is causing them to get really frustrated and seek out someone or something to be able to help solve that problem? And that's where you come in as that brand to be able to help them.

 

And they see themselves in that message and they're willing then to take a chance on you or they start building some trust and relationship and work with you. Then you're going to start seeing better success in those marketing strategies that you're putting out the door. And you're going to feel good about them. And what she likes to tell her clients is that by doing this work, by understanding your brand and what elements of story are going to be really important to that target audience that you're looking for and also what experience pillars you want to put in place when you’ve done those things, the end result that you’re going to have. You’re going to have clarity, consistency and confidence in your marketing.

 

Clarity to understand what it is that you’re talking about and who you’re talking about, what the messages are. Consistency because you’re going to say the same thing over and over, even if it’s not exactly the same thing, your customers are going to know that it came from you because it sounds the same. And confidence in that you're doing the right thing. You're going to feel better about putting those messages out and feel that calming sense of, “Okay, I'm doing the right thing.” instead of that phonetic feeling of “I'm not sure if this is the right thing to do, but I'm going to do it because I feel like I have to.” And when you have that feeling, not only does that make you nervous, it also comes off in what you put out in front of people regardless of what avenue or what tactical measure you're doing.

 

If it's a video, if you are in front of a camera and you're feeling that uncertainty and anxiety, the person watching your video in the end is going to see it and they're going to hear it in your voice. Whereas if, you know, if you go into producing that video with a certainty of what your messages, of what you want to accomplish with it, of who you're speaking to and what it is they need from you at any given moment.

 

You're going to have a confidence and an air of calmness that is going to come off as authority and they're going to see empathy from you as well. And they're going to want to come work with you or buy your service, whatever it might be, whatever transaction that you're making with them. They're going to feel confident in doing it.

 

So, you're not only projecting yourself with confidence, but you're also instilling confidence in your target audience that they are making the right decision.

 

Me: So those are some things that we can do to ensure that our brand and our values transcend into our customer experience. As it relates to customer experience in the healthcare sector, what are three values that you think should definitely be transcended in all healthcare experiences to show that you are really an organization or a healthcare facility or institution that is driven by your customers experiences, whether you are a medical facility, a blood bank or a hospital regardless of the avenue of healthcare that you offer.

 

Amy shared that first and foremost, she thinks that you need to treat your patient as a person. If you are not doing that, if you're not thinking about this person who's sitting across the exam table from you or in this room or any exchange that you're having, “This person could be my mother, my brother, my sister, some family member. How do I want them to be treated?” If you are not treating them in the way that you want to be treated, you need to take a step back and think about why not?

 

“Why am I not doing that?” And what do you need to change in order to be able to get to that position? She can think of times when you go and check in at a clinic appointment and they're rushed because they're also answering phone calls and they're trying to check in the person ahead of you, they've got 7 or 8 different things going on around them that then they get to you and they're frazzled.

 

Well, fine. But take a deep breath. Give this patient that you're now checking in your full attention and just do the job that you need to do. And don't let all of the other things that are going on around you as the person doing the checking in interfere with that interaction that you have with that person because they maybe don't want to be there either.

 

You don't really want to have to go to a physician or to a clinic, chances are you're there because you're sick, you're not feeling well, a loved one is sick, not feeling well, and you need help. And so you're dealing with people at the most vulnerable time of their life. And show them some grace and be patient and be willing to help them understand what's going on. Be clear in what you're asking them to do next, where do they need to go, how long will it take.

 

Just have that transparency, that's another value that she believes you should have in healthcare but in any organization. If you can't be transparent in what's going to happen next in their journey, they've decided to work with you. So what's next? What are we going to do next? How do we get started? Whether it's in healthcare, have a seat here, we'll call you back if you're not called back in the next 10 minutes or whatever your window of time is that is deemed acceptable by your organization. Let them know, “If you're not called back in 10 minutes, please let us know and we'll find out what's going on. And we'll give you an idea of how much longer it's going to be, if it's going to be delayed further.”

 

But the same is true for any other business. What's the next step in the journey of working with you? When I bring in a new client, it's what happens when we sign the dotted line. Now, what's the next step? So, maybe it's a discovery call, maybe it's a in-depth fact finding mission, whatever that is, let them know what it is, set the clear expectation of how long that's going to take, what the process is going to look like and when it's going to be finished.

 

Me: So it's almost like you're trying to get clear on what the customer journey is.

 

Amy shared that she thinks when you are working, it doesn't matter what type of business you have, and it’s all about building a relationship. You can't have a business if you don't have somebody who's willing to use your service. She can say she has a business, but if she has no clients, does she have a business?

 

No, not really. So, it is about building experiences because those experiences are going to help you know what works and what doesn't work. But it's also going to give that person an opportunity to say, “Wow, I had a great experience working with Amy recently.” or “I had a great experience working with X, Y, Z clinic recently. And I would highly recommend you go back to them.” Then you’re going to start getting that word of mouth.

 

Think about that. Who do you tend to believe more? Somebody that you know that has had experience with a service that you're considering? Or an ad on Facebook? You're going to take the word of the person who you know because you can ask them questions, you trust them already, you have a relationship. Marketing and branding is about creating relationships.

 

Me: Good answer, thank you, Amy. So we heard that you need to have empathy, you need to be transparent and you need to work on building relationships that there's a lot of trust equity involved in it so that people can trust you, they know what to expect. They're clear on what is going to happen next in the customer journey and you're not surprised because it's that element of surprise a lot of times that causes customers to really get upset and then you have to run into service recovery.

 

Amy shared that she recently started using Trello and as she’s getting more into using it and figuring out some of the power behind it, of tracking things like with her own podcast. She has started doing a lot more tracking of when she has talked to somebody to be a potential guest and putting notes in there. And then when she has recorded it and just moving them up the chain within that and really tracking what she’s doing with them and that's been very helpful to keep track of that and she has used it with some of her client work as well. So, she really likes Trello, but she fully knows that she doesn’t know the full extent of what it can do for her.

 

When asked about books that have had a really good impact, Amy shared that she can give two. The first one, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek. For her, reading that and then really starting to internalize what it all meant has made her see correlations that she didn't see before. Such as, one of the physicians that she used to work with very closely, her very first meeting with him, he said to her, “My ultimate goal is total world domination.” And she looked at him and said, “I don’t have budget for that. I seriously don’t have budget to be able to support you in that but I will do whatever I possibly can to help you do that.”

 

So, fast forward several years, she ended up having her mom see him as a patient. And then she got to see how he worked on the other side. And as she watched him worked and she saw how his clinic operated and she thought back to different experiences that she had had with him and that phrase, “Total world domination.” She started to see that what was happening was exactly what Simon Sinek talked about in that book.

 

When you have clear sense of purpose and you surround yourself with other people who are bought into that purpose, but bring different strengths to the table to be able to lift that purpose up. You're going to achieve a greater sense of success. And she was able to see that in a way that she hadn't been able to see when she worked with him because she was internal only. That and the fact, she hadn't read the book yet at that point. So, she didn't know what she didn't know at that timeframe.

 

But watching how that all came together and knowing some of the things that she knew about the background of how he works and the fact that his staff retention in that particular clinic is very high, that when his physicians that worked in his department would leave our academic medical center and go to another one, they went for positions that were higher up. It was not a lateral move. They went for promotions. His employee retention was high; his patient satisfaction scores were some of the highest in the organization.

 

All of those things factor in to the fact that he was very clear on his purpose, very clear on his why within the department, the people that he hired and brought in were recruited because he had residents and fellows working through there as well. They were all bought in on that same mission. They understood it, and as a result, the patient was very well taken care of, the family was very well taken care of. And it just all merged and melded together really, really well.

 

And it was exciting to see and as a result of that, she built that process into branding work that she does with clients. She makes sure that they understand what their purpose is and really understand how it impacts those around them and who they bring onboard. So that's one book that was very influential for her.

 

The other book is Never Lose a Customer Again: Turn Any Sale into Lifelong Loyalty in 100 Days by Joey Coleman. She interviewed him for her show as well. Fabulous book and she has started incorporating his eight pillars of customer experience into the work that she does with clients as well.

 

But she thinks the quote from him in that book that really stands out to her is his definition of that, “Customer service is reactive and customer experience is proactive.” And she had never really thought of that different definition until she read his book. And now she looks at it and she thinks that all the time, like, how can you proactively run something off at the pass so that you don't get into a position of having to serve them, but that you are creating the experience for them that they didn't know they even wanted.

 

She loves his book and she heard an interview with him recently that he is working on a book that is geared towards recruitment of employees so that you bring in employees, that you create that experience around recruitment and hiring in the same way, because those hundred days are so critical as a new hire, just as much as what they are critical with a new relationship with a client or a customer.

 

Me: Very true. And I mean, I think recruitment is very important to business as well. It's just as important as the customers or clients that you're serving, because the people who are serving your customers have to have the right attitude, they have to be aligned with, as you said, a vision and a core values and a cultural beliefs. And it's not just about what you have on paper or what you have on your website in terms of what you believe or what you think you should be doing. But it’s also in the behaviours; the actions that come out, what are they doing? Their response time, how accommodating are they, how solution oriented are they, an issue comes up on and it's a serious problem, do they take it as serious and do they deal with it as critically as how the customer’s perceiving it as critical? All of those I think fall into recruitment, because if you get people who don't really value those things, it's going to be manifested in their behaviour.

 

Amy agreed and shared that you can't see her, but she was sitting there shaking her head through everything that Yanique said. And the way that you get that is by understanding what as a brand do you stand for? What will you accept? What do you want people to think of you? And the only way that you can create that idea in their mind is to live it as your brand, prescribe it.

 

She thinks one of the things that businesses tend to fall down on when they hire people is they don't train for their brand. They hire someone and they maybe don't even give them an on boarding, let alone any kind of training, but if you would take a couple hours and just walk through, “Here's what our brand stands for. Here's what's important to us. Here are our expectations as it relates to experience. I expect you to answer the phone this way, I expect these things.”

 

If you have a brick and mortar store, here's what I want you to do in terms of how you greet somebody, give them the autonomy but in order to give them autonomy, they have to know what the boundaries of that autonomy is.

 

Amy shared that they went out for supper last Saturday night and went to a place that they go to frequently. First time that they'd been at their restaurant since all of the pandemic and the reopening and they sat on their patio. They ordered food, they waited, they waited, they waited, they waited, which was very uncommon for this restaurant for them to ever wait as long as what they did. Well, come to find out they thought they had wanted it to go. So, they packaged it up as a to go order and had it sitting on a counter ready for them to pick up.

 

They were eating on their patio, so when they finally realized this, they got them their food right away. They were very apologetic and the onsite manager that came out and talked to them, he said, “We're really sorry. Can we give you a gift card to make this up to you?” Now, somebody had to train him to know that it was okay for him to offer that. That's part of their brand expectations, it's part of the experience that they want, the ideal experience that they want their customers to have did not go as it was supposed to.

 

So, now how do we go into that service recovery mode? What can we give them? How can we make this right so that they will come back to us? And he did that but you have to train that and you can't just expect somebody to know that on day one, that they have the ability to be able to do that. Or maybe it's certain people have the ability to do that and so they need to escalate it.

 

Maybe the person who took their order didn't have the authority to be able to give them the gift card but the manager who is working that night did. Fine, escalate it up, make sure that it gets to the manager, he comes and talks to them but it brought the whole experience full circle. It did start off as an experience and ended up having to go into that service or recovery mode and they walked out feeling better about what happened. They understood, they're like, “It's okay, the food is still good. We're not going to hold it against you, we'll still be back.”

 

Amy shared that one thing that she is working on that she is getting more excited about, as she’s doing a little bit more, she’s kind of in the mode of doing some customer discovery of creating a marketing mastermind that she will start offering. And so she has been reaching out to different people who she thinks would be kind of within the ideal target audience of what she’s looking for and asking them some questions and seeing, “Is this a service that you need? What would it look like for you? What would need to be part of it in order for it to be valuable?”

 

So she’s doing her own due diligence and doing what she tells her clients to do when they're looking at creating a new service. Talk to the people who you want to offer this to and find out what they really need. Just because you think, you need it. It may not mean that they need it. Their pain point might not be great enough yet for it to be necessary for them. So, that's one thing she’s excited.

 

The other thing is, just this gradual reopening of back into whatever our normal is going to be is exciting. But it's also been really nice because she has been able to spend more time with her daughter. She has a 13 year old. So, they've been able to spend a little bit more quality time together than what they have had. When she's busy with all kinds of activity, school activities and such. So, that's exciting as well.

 

  • Amy shared listeners can find her at –

www.austinmarketingoncall.com

Podcast - The Pursuit of Purpose with Amy Austin

Twitter - @AmyMAustinMktg

LinkedIn – @amymaustin

 

 

When asked about a quote or saying that helps her to refocus, Amy shared that the one that she come back to the most is Simon Sinek, is that, “People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”

 

Me: So, people don't buy what you do, but they buy why you do it. And it really goes back to what you were stating earlier about understanding your purpose, understanding your why. What problem are you actually solving, if you can get clear on all of that and in training staff on that, and recruit according to that, then you would definitely have a business that's geared towards success.

 

Please connect with us on Twitter @navigatingcx and also join our Private Facebook Community – Navigating the Customer Experience and listen to our FB Lives weekly with a new guest

 

Grab the Freebie on Our Website – TOP 10 Online Business Resources for Small Business Owners

Links

 

Do you want to pivot your online customer experience and build loyalty - get a copy of “The ABC’s of a Fantastic Customer Experience.”

 

The ABC's of a Fantastic Customer Experience provides 26 easy to follow steps and techniques that helps your business to achieve success and build brand loyalty.

This Guide to Limitless, Happy and Loyal Customers will help you to strengthen your service delivery, enhance your knowledge and appreciation of the customer experience and provide tips and practical strategies that you can start implementing immediately!

This book will develop your customer service skills and sharpen your attention to detail when serving others.

Master your customer experience and develop those knock your socks off techniques that will lead to lifetime customers. Your customers will only want to work with your business and it will be your brand differentiator. It will lead to recruiters to seek you out by providing practical examples on how to deliver a winning customer service experience!

Jul 7, 2020

Ian Reynolds is a Partner and Chief Solutions Architect at Zibtek, a software development firm focused on helping businesses of all sizes in the United States solve their core problems with software. They empower entrepreneurs, growth companies, enterprises and visionary firms to achieve greater profitability and efficiency, valuation and ultimate success by building the right tools through custom software.

 

Ian has spent the better part of his career in consulting and has served in diverse industries as Finance, Oil and Gas, Retail Power, Field Services, Midstream Energy, Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals, Transactional Finance, Mergers and Acquisitions, Restructuring, e-commerce, Retail and software development.

Questions

  • Could you share with us a little bit about your journey, which, by the looks of your bio, has been quite an extreme journey? You pretty much have dipped into all industries from private to public sector. So share with us a bit about your journey and how it is that you got to where you are today, being the Chief Solutions Architect and Partner at Zibtek.
  • Can you tell us a little bit about what Zibtek offers? What problems is Zibtek solving for their customers?
  • What are some things that we could do to make the channels easier for the customers, less effort for them to exert, less friction?
  • Could you share with us maybe what you think the future of automation looks like for a business?
  • Can you share with us how you think technology has disrupted the business industry and how it will continue to do so?
  • Can you share with us how do you stay motivated everyday?
  • Can you share with us what's the one online resource, tool, website or app that you absolutely can’t live without in your business?
  • Can you share with us one or two books that have had the biggest impact on you, either a book that you've read recently or a book that maybe you read a very long time ago, but it still has had a very big impact on you?
  • Can share with us what is one thing that's going on in your life that you're really excited about, either something that you're working on to develop yourself or your people?
  • Where can they find you online?
  • Could you share with us a quote or saying that during times of adversity or challenge, you tend to revert to this quote or saying, because it helps to refocus you and just help you to be channeled back on what it is that you're working on?

Highlights

Ian shared that he has had the opportunity to see a lot of industries, and he thinks part of that started very early on. He was at a number of startups right out of college; he has launched 8 different products to market, saw the gambit and then did the MBA route, then jumped into consulting. So, right after the MBA, immediately sort of wanted to go into something that would let him see a lot of industries, a lot of verticals.

 

And in consulting, he had the opportunity to do that both on the I.T. side and on the finance side. So, really, just one option, he sort of expand his horizons, these sort of things. Ultimately wanted to get back to doing his own thing and found a business Zibtek and acquired 50% of it and that's 3 years now.

 

Ian shared that they started as a product company 15 years ago and ultimately grew to the point where they wanted to sell the business. And then after 5 years of growing that product, sold it and then for the last 10 years, they have been providing services to the marketplace for folks who maybe don't have an engineering team in-house or don't have the engineering competency in-house, but need expertise to build out software or build out a solution that's either custom fit for their business or adapt the same existing technology for their business. That's primarily what they do.

 

Me: Could you give me an example of something that you've done to solve your customers’ challenges? Software that maybe you've created that’s solving that issue?

 

Ian shared that they have a client that is in the healthcare space and they are running around doing prospective studies for people who have had sort of strong medical procedures and they needed a way to capture data that wasn't menial. So, before they're using clipboards and paper and using telephones and dialing out and doing all that stuff manually with a large team of people to get that perspective data. Zibtek built a solution that automates all of the follow ups, keeps it the data hipper compliant.

 

And then also helps them basically have the patient groups be blocked in effectively, statistically randomized ways. And it did a couple of things. And this is how it ties back to the sort of the customer experience. By automating sort of the manual process and then also removing that human element. It actually made it so that the patients who had just gone through these procedures and had opted into these studies were more likely to respond because it was on a medium, on their phone or computer that was much friendlier to their time. Much more intuitive to interact with and can be done in maybe 5 minutes.

 

Me: So, it's almost like you created like a specialized CRM for them that was really built to fit their business model.

 

Ian stated that in a certain sense, yes, it did all the communication to manage those individuals. It managed the follow ups and responses. But then it had a statistical engine behind it that allowed them to make sure that these patients sort of came through and randomized blocks.

 

Me: So, a big part of software development in a business can definitely impact the quality of the customer experience. We are now in a space globally where because of this pandemic, a lot of us have been forced to shift how it is that we're looking at the different channels by which we serve our customers. And so it's important to recognize that if it is that we are doing these things, what are some things that we could do to make the channels easier for the customers, less effort for them to exert, less friction.

 

What are maybe two to three top things as an engineer yourself, you're a solutions architect. So you are able to look at the big picture and maybe give us some main things that companies need to consider when they're designing this digitized strategy for their business. A lot of them may have been in the digital space, but probably they were not giving it as much priority as they would know because of the fact that their customers have shifted their behaviour and they're interfacing more with those platforms than to face-to-face ones.

 

Ian shared that he thinks the first and most important thing is take the customer's problems to the engineers as opposed to having a frontline person who is maybe just kind of filtering through that customer feedback to then give it to the engineers. Engineers are by nature, people who want to build tools to solve problems and by having a direct pipeline of those, let's say, customer complaints, customer problems, customer issues, going to the engineers as opposed to maybe filtered by a couple layers, you're going to get results much more quickly.

 

You're going to get your results and ultimately going to solve those problems and probably much more intuitive ways. And you can present those which suits the client.

The second thing is figure out where you can as a business; automate routine simple tasks for the user and then figure out how at the same time of automating that task, “I can provide better customer service or better customer experiences in serving that client.” Sometimes that’s just through an interface but other times it is making somebody available to pick up the phone and talk with you, walk you through something. Just be available really quickly or provide a quick response to a customer query. So that's the second piece.

 

The third item that they would recommend is intentionally innovate. They don't think a lot of companies are going to fall behind because they're not spending sort of like the 3M rule of anywhere from 5%-10% of profits intentionally to sort of disrupt their own business and produce a solution that's ultimately better.

 

Technology is moving in a direction where its growth is accelerating, innovation is accelerating, and it's accelerating past any single company's ability to basically keep pace with those changes. So, an engineer that comes into their organization probably about 4 years, they're going to have to retool a little bit because the technology is changing so quickly. 

 

So, the guys that are coming out right out of college, very valuable because they come with sort of these new skills ingrained. Now they are teaching them, they're training and they’re doing about six months of training. But really, if these guys are not retooling it about 6 years, they become kind of deadweight to certain extent.

 

Me: Almost like they're obsolete. They're no longer relevant because the technology has far superseded what existed 4 or 5 years ago.

 

Ian shared that he thinks automation is going to sort of go into that second category of what he described previously, where companies are going to try to as much as possible make it so that you have the equivalent of one click checkout for an experience or for a result.

 

And it's going to not necessarily remove jobs but he thinks it's going to make certain jobs more efficient. So, if you look at the guys at OnCourse Sales Automation on a mission, they have a bunch of tools combined in one that allows sales teams to be extremely efficient with their time. But it's not that it's eliminating sales jobs, it's actually making them more competitive and making it so that the sales personnel are much more oriented towards quality.

 

And he thinks that you’re going to see that be true across pretty much every spectrum. Where you’re going to get automation, first you’re going to have a flight to quality second. So, if he can remove the tedious tasks, then he needs to focus on quality and for the companies that don't focus on quality and don't focus on customer service….customer experience, then they're going to sort of fall behind.

 

Ian shared that we're seeing a trend and still the world is just kind of coming online broadly speaking. You have a trend where folks are moving to these online tools to solve problems. You used to go to the store and buy off-the-shelf software, put it in a CD drive, his computer doesn't have a CD drive anymore and do this that way.

 

And so, there's still a lot of very prominent, very powerful technologies that have not made their way to the cloud. There are companies in Salt Lake that they're talking to that are still on green screens, basically, where a lot of their stuff isn't networked to manage inventory, manage supplies, track quality, track prices, et cetera, or how long things have been in the warehouse. And so there's still and there's going to be for a long time a continued shift towards cloud first, browser based technologies that are going to facilitate really kind of things that we already did. But in a way that gives us much more data, much more accessibility and makes organizations much more efficient.

 

When asked about how he stays motivated, Ian shared that he thinks it's more of a process of sort of building habits. So, his day to day is very, very different, every single day is different as they’re solving different problems for clients. But his mornings are pretty routine, his evenings are pretty routine. At least they try to be. And then that sort of natural motivation is that he has a growing family and he wants to make sure that they're happy and taken care of.

 

And then he’s asking himself regularly, “Am I doing something that I find interesting and fulfilling?” And then he tries to sell himself the first hour of the day to focus on those things or the last hour or the day to focus on those things. And as long as he’s moving towards that direction, he’s very, very satisfied.

 

When asked about on online tool that he cannot live without in his business, Ian shared that www.tryoncourse.com is just one of those sort of sales automation tools he has been talking about. And they started using it and they think it's pretty exceptional. It basically is, in their view, sort of the future of CRM.

 

It's all of these tools, dialler SMS, what have you sort of rolled into one. And it's going to give them and it gives their sales team crazy amount of visibility that they didn't have previously with tools like Salesforce. They were using a phone dialler and they were also using MailChimp for drippy campaigns.

 

It's got all that stuff built in and they're just kind of adding more features to it all the time. And they’ve pretty radically simplified what they're executing in the sales process by moving to one of these sales automation platforms. And basically, they don't really know what they would do without it because everybody's sort of refers to it for the data. Everybody sort of refers to it for activity. So, it's pretty important.

 

Me: That’s your go to. It's funny you mention that because our episode that we released today for the podcast was with their Chief Customer Experience Officer or Chief Sales Officer, Gessie Schechinger from OnCourse sales platform. So, they're really disrupting the whole sales initiatives for businesses in terms of, as you said, putting everything in one place. So, I think it's really awesome that you mentioned that that's your online resource that you definitely can’t live without in your business.

 

Ian shared that the first book that had a big impact on him was Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations from 1776. Just reading that, the man only wrote two books. He wrote that book and then he wrote basically, sort of a moral treatise on The Wealth of Nations was sort of the prelude to The Wealth of Nations. Both of those books are exceptional. But really, Wealth of Nations is absolutely phenomenal and important to understanding really basic economics.

 

The second piece is and he thinks that while the books put out actually not books, but letters put out by Warren Buffett are in many respects. So, he put out a book, one of the meetings that had a collection of all 50 letters. He thinks that those books are under read or that those letters are under read and are really instructive, not only sort of for financial matters, for managing a business, but also in managing. There are great lessons in managing and he has continually gone back to those resources, both of those to reread things, take notes, put that online, share his ideas with other people, get their feedback. And so those have been the two most resources for him.

 

When asked about something that he’s working on to develop himself or his people, Ian shared that he thinks internally they have had a pretty wonderful shift in defining within the organization how they want to continually improve their project management processes.

 

And going back to the very beginning of the conversation, where you sort of taking that customer feedback, they're being very aggressive, even as a service organization, to take customer feedback and then incorporate that into their engineering process.

 

They follow sort of a can ban trunk based development type methodology. And by taking the sort of consumer feedback or customer feedback or client feedback and rolling that into the process, they've really been able to deliver some tremendous results.

 

Now, they're still improving that, they're still making that better. They're still making that well, let's call it user friendly. And there's a lot of runway for them to continue to improve and he thinks that's the most exciting near-term project they're working on.

 

Me: So could you share with us if our listeners listen to this episode or better yet, when they listen to this episode and they say to themselves, I'd like to learn a little bit more about Zibtek. I'd also probably like to connect with Ian because he could probably offer some good insight. I could follow him and be a part of his community and what he's doing so that I can add better value to my organization and what I am doing.

 

  • Ian shared listeners can find him at –

www.zibtek.com

Ian Reynolds – hello@zibtek.com

 

They have a bunch of actually free resources up there. And in their blog, they're constantly sort of posting their findings for things, comparing technologies, et cetera. Where they’re posting their development methodology and their development standards in a few months. So check it out and they also have a bunch of presentations that are super valuable, super high value and worth checking out.

 

When asked about a quote or saying that helps him in times of adversity, Ian shared that it’s maybe not so much a direct quote, but it really is more so that the idea that feeling sorry for yourself or feeling down on yourself isn't helpful.

 

It's not a helpful characteristic. So, recognize that thought and then figure out what you should be doing and then go do that thing. So, it's kind of like grandma’s rule, grandma’s rule is you have to eat your vegetables before you can eat your dessert. And so, “Do the uncomfortable stuff first and then go to the fun stuff.”

 

 

 

Please connect with us on Twitter @navigatingcx and also join our Private Facebook Community – Navigating the Customer Experience and listen to our FB Lives weekly with a new guest

 

Grab the Freebie on Our Website – TOP 10 Online Business Resources for Small Business Owners

 

 

Links

 

 

 

Do you want to pivot your online customer experience and build loyalty - get a copy of “The ABC’s of a Fantastic Customer Experience.”

 

The ABC's of a Fantastic Customer Experience provides 26 easy to follow steps and techniques that helps your business to achieve success and build brand loyalty.

This Guide to Limitless, Happy and Loyal Customers will help you to strengthen your service delivery, enhance your knowledge and appreciation of the customer experience and provide tips and practical strategies that you can start implementing immediately!

This book will develop your customer service skills and sharpen your attention to detail when serving others.

Master your customer experience and develop those knock your socks off techniques that will lead to lifetime customers. Your customers will only want to work with your business and it will be your brand differentiator. It will lead to recruiters to seek you out by providing practical examples on how to deliver a winning customer service experience!

 

 

Jun 30, 2020

Ryan J. Lester, Senior Director of Customer Experience Technologies at LogMeIn. Ryan and his team own the strategic development and implementation for the go to market plan for Customer Experience and Digital Engagement offerings across their platforms, Chatbots, Virtual Assistant and Workforce Optimization (WFO) products.

 

He is passionate about making new technology easy and helping any sized company unlock the potential of AI and bots. Prior to his role at LogMeIn, Ryan held various sales, marketing and product positions at Intel Corporation, Cisco Systems, and Eaton Corporation. He has a passion for making new technology accessible and approachable.

Questions

  • Could you share a little bit about yourself? You seem to have a diverse background, sales, marketing, product development and now you're into customer experience technologies. Tell us how your journey has been and how it has gotten you to where you are today.
  • So could you share with us maybe three to five things based on your experience that if you have a digital platform, that you are facilitating to your service deliver or product delivery through, how you can make that an effortless are frictionless experience for your customer? What kind of things do you need to look at in your journey to manifest that kind of result?
  • Could you share with us maybe a few things that companies could do to find out what the problem is? Is it case where they need to ask, how would you know what a problem is?
  • Could you tell us a little bit about LogMeIn, what it is that they do? What problems are they solving for their customers?
  • How do you stay motivated everyday?
  • Can you share with us what's one online resource, tool, website or app that you absolutely cannot live without in your business?
  • Can you share with us maybe one or two books that have had the biggest impact on you? It could be a book that you read recently or maybe something you read a very long time ago, but it still left a very indelible mark on your success, on your journey.
  • Can you share with us one thing that's going on in your life right now - either something that you're working on to develop yourself or your people?
  • Can you tell our listeners where they can find you online?
  • Do you have a quote or saying that during times of adversity or challenge, you will revert back to this quote are saying, it kind of helps to refocus you on just keep you channeled.

Highlights

Ryan shared that even though he’s an only child, he’s very much a people person, energized by people. He loves solving problems, the way he really describes himself is kind of the head of an engineer and the heart of a marketer or a customer centric person.

 

So, he loves tackling new challenges, but he also loves staying close to the customer, because at the end of the day, you want to solve their problem and you want to make their life better. And that's what keeps you in business and drives your organization.

 

And so throughout his career, he started out in the world of sales and really learned a lot there. And he started spending more time in the product world and then really kind of landed on this intersection of customer experience where understanding the customer's journey, the friction points, why they buy from you, how you can make that experience better really is something that drives his passion.

 

And so he has been doing this for a number of years, and he really loves doing that at LogMeIn, really helping them as a company, one, create better experiences for their customers, but two, create technology that customers of theirs can use to deliver better experiences.

 

So, it's really a wonderful space. He finds there's lots of big challenges to solve and it gives him a lot of interesting work to do each day.

 

Me: So everybody pretty much, globally, many businesses are forced to even if they didn't have a digital presence, they're pretty much forced to create some level of digital presence or if they had digital presence, but they maybe weren't optimizing it in its best form. They pretty much have to be putting a lot of energy in that space now because people want to minimize on their face to face interactions just for being safe.

 

I found, just based on my experiences, sometimes these digital experiences that we have, they cause you to have to exert a whole lot of energy and it's not a smooth experience. It's not effortless.

 

Ryan stated that that's an excellent question. He thinks it’s spot on that there's two reasons why digital really maybe hasn't kept up or often can feel like a second class experience. And the one reason is because oftentimes it's under invested or it's not a top priority. So, we focus on things like in-person and phone and email because those are all the more established, higher volume.

 

But too often we don't approach the right problem. So, we often say, well, we have this new technology, we have chat or we have messaging channels or we have AI and we try to just take the technology and then go just apply it versus being very specific about the problem we're trying to solve.

 

And it goes back to just good customer experience practice. At the end of the day… What is the thing that the customer needs help with?

Where are those friction points or where is that high customer effort?

And let's go understand the problem first, and then try to understand the solution.

 

And so he thinks that's often where companies get caught up, is there they're taking technology and just looking to apply it versus saying rather, what's our problem and how can technology make it better?

 

So, to give some real examples of that, one really simple thing we've seen in the challenges around Covered 19 is that information and policies are changing at a very rapid pace and something as simple as maybe the hours of your office or what are the rules around coming into a physical branch or a physical store or even of your return policies change or your shipping policies changed?

 

In the current state, that's not really a great thing to have somebody to call in to find out. People don't wait on hold. They don't have to go through the effort. So either you have a customer that's churning because they don't want to go through the effort or you have an upset customer because they went through the process and they can't figure out an answer.

 

So one simple thing you could do is to say, let's modernize our FAQ page, we all have that kind of old grandma's attic, we all have that part of our website where it's like frequently asked questions and it's meant to be helpful, but oftentimes it's really not focused on, it's under invested. And so, now we can take a technology like AI, maybe even something like a like a simple bot and we can really spruce that content up.

 

And it's not to say we need to update all of it, so we don't need to take every single article, every piece of content and breathe new life into it, but maybe we take our top 10 intents or questions coming into the contact center or to our customer service teams and we put that into a better, more AI powered support center page or a simple bot. Now, all of a sudden, all those questions are being answered in more real time. So, people are getting faster, more consistent, 24 hour answers. And now our teams are freed up to spend time on more interesting things.

 

So it really comes down to think about what's a problem you want to solve and how can this newer technology, digital technologies make it better. And there's other examples, for example, leveraging things like messaging channels.

 

So, WhatsApp is very popular, Facebook Messenger, it's very easy to stand these channels up and put something like a very simple bot or even have your live agents leverage those channels so rather than making the customer find your website and look it up and wait on hold, they can ask some simple questions over a messaging channel they’re already in that they're conversing with their loved ones who maybe they haven't seen or that they're posting the latest image of them making maybe something fun in their kitchen.

 

But they're already there. So now, rather than forcing the customer to come to where you are, you're going to where they are today. There are lots of these great examples of once again, understanding the problem, is the problem access to information? Is it engaging the customer where they are today? Is it consistency, being clear on what's the problem and then applying that right technology to solve it?

 

Me: So, Ryan, could you share with us maybe a few things that companies could do to find out what the problem is? Is it case where they need to ask, how would you know what a problem is? Should I just sit down in my office as a customer experience strategist/specialist at my company and say, “Okay, I'm going to think of what I think the problem is and make a solution or should it be a case where the customers, you're kind of watching what they're saying, listening to what they're saying, identifying based on previous conversations, what they're asking for, and use that data to inform your decisions to solve problems.”

 

Ryan shared that both are correct, it's probably more 80% the second and 20% the first. So he thinks certainly there's lots of information out there. We can take call records; we can take survey information. If you have something like web chat already, you can take all those web chat logs and look through that data. So there's a ton of information that we already often have around our organization.

 

And then now becomes using that data to then drive our decision. And it's not always that the data will tell us the answer, it's sometimes that the data will just tell us what's the next test we want to do in the world of scientific method. It defines our hypothesis.

 

So we say, “Oh, based on what we're hearing from our customer service agents, our customer service employees, these are the top five things that they feel like are the most friction, that they get a lot of call volume on or that customers feel frustrated.”

 

And then we can say, okay if that's what you think is the problem, let's build a hypothesis. What do you think could be causing it? And then let's go try and test that, both validating that the problem is really there. And then two, ways we can correct the problem. So he thinks it’s spot on that things like NPS scores, post interaction surveys, transcripts. There's a ton of information that often we already have or are very easy to stand up that can help point us to that challenges.

 

To the original point, it also isn’t back to just sit have those moments of reflection to say, well, here’s something I think is a problem because often times we’re very much in the middle of things, we’re kind of in the weeds and so, it can be nice to say, “I think there's a problem, let's go once again, try and test it.”

 

So, he thinks we have a challenge maybe around how we do traditional customer service or how we do returns. It feels like there's a lot of effort and energy around that from a customer's perspective. Let's go set up a test and try that out. So, it's not always going to come to light immediately from the data we have, it's also okay to kind of have as an expert your perspective and then go test and learn.

 

Me: And in terms, you mentioned just testing and developing a hypothesis, it's critical for us to solve the problem because all businesses go into business to solve a problem. If you see a product or service, you're really solving a problem for someone. So we're operating in his new realm and employees play a critical role, especially if you have employees in the business, they are a lot of times the front facing persons who interface with the customers on a daily basis.

 

How about integrating them into the solution as well? Asking them to help you solve the problem? Because I think a lot of times they have the solutions themselves, but then they're not the change makers or the policymakers.

 

Ryan agreed and shared that there's an interesting project they had done with a white goods retailer, so someone that sold like refrigerators, ovens, etc, in the U.K. they're called AO.com and they're rapidly growing. And many of their frontline employees, to your point, the people working with those customers had a really good perspective.

 

They had really good sense of where the challenges were, where it was hard for them to get their job done, where the customers felt pain, and they created a project where they got them actively involved and what they did, this is a little more advanced, it's certainly something most people could do. But it would be more for like a mid-sized business is they created a technology that faced the agents, so an improved knowledge base.

 

And they actually put a chatbot in front of it. So, rather than having something that faced the customer and the customer question this answered their frontline employees’ questions. So, if someone said, “Hey, I have a question around the return policy for this product.” or “Does this product come in stainless steel?” or “I see it comes in electric does it also come in gas?”

 

As they're on the phone or they're interacting with these customers, they could quickly interact with this bot and get a very quick answer, it's wonderful. And so one, to your point, they identified the problem, they started to find the solution but then two, was really nice out of this is they also started to curate the content.

 

Everybody has great experts across the organization incur what it's often like, you go but bumped your elbow up to the person and say, “Hey, I got this really tough question, I know you're going to have the answer.” That doesn't scale. So the nice thing is by leveraging something like AI or a knowledge base is now all of a sudden when that expert enters the right answer. Now, everybody, not just the person next to them that can bump them with their elbow has access to that information.

 

So to your point, he thinks you really hit on something critically important one, they know where the problems are. Two, they often have the energy and enthusiasm to fix it. And three, they often have the expertise to fix it. And then the question becomes, how do you turn that into a micro fix versus a macro fix where it impacts every employee?

 

Me: Agreed. Wow. That's a beautiful knowledge base and having that resource material and you're right. Sometimes it's just that one person who has all the information, but sometimes they're not always accessible. So why not have that information accessible to every single person in the organization that they can type in and get that information in real time on pass it on to the customer, I love that!

 

Ryan stated that what's exciting too is there's this great reinforcing loop that happens where one, now every frontline employee has access to that so they feel like their job is better and easier and they're getting what they need to be successful. But two, as employees enter in that information, they're feeling empowered because they're helping the whole organization. So it's a great flywheel effect of people feel empowered, they feel energized. They're getting what they need to do their job better.

 

But then they also can help the next round of employees as they're making that content more accessible and better over time. So, they've seen really great results of that. And once again, that could be an employee facing a sort of content; it could be customer facing content. And it's relevant to the digital world; the physical store is that kind of reopens and certainly the contact center. So, there's lots of great directions as a CX practitioner you can kind of point this technology and these capabilities to drive improvements.

 

Me: So in relation to chat bots, I was listening to a webinar recently, some of the panelists were customer experience practitioners, as you mentioned. And one of the things they’ve said, I've never had to experience myself, but I can see it happening where you start a conversation on someone's website along your journey into experience with the chat bot and so it has gotten to a point now where it needs to be escalated, the bot can't continue that interaction anymore.

 

And so when it's escalated to human interaction, it's almost like the customer has to repeat everything they told the bot, all the information that the bot would have asked them for they're basically having to regurgitate all of that information over again.

 

How can companies ensure that when they implement these systems, they implement it in such a way again, that you don't feel frustrated? Because that would be the equivalent of me calling a company, speaking to somebody on the phone, being transferred to somebody else and I have to repeat myself all over again. It's just happening now in digital experience to human.

 

Ryan shared that it’s spot on. They use the term at LogMeIn called harmony. And it's a harmony between the bot, the agent and the customer.

 

And you have to have all of them kind of singing the same song or working off the same sheet of music. Yanique is spot on and so that's a terrible experience. And just to your point, it's just like if you call into a call center and you talk with someone and it’s like, “Oh, I need to transfer you.” And then you get to the next person and they're like, “Hi, how can I help you?” It's maddening.

 

So, what they specifically do at LogMeIn, that's actually one seamless conversation. So as you're in that little chat window and that could a chat window that's Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp or could be inside of an app like, for example, if your bank had an app or it could be on a website. If the bot starts a conversation and it's set to do certain things and if it can't accomplish those, it can then pull in a live agent.

 

What's nice is when a technology is done correctly is that agent then can see the transcript of all the things that have happened previously and they can look through and say, “Oh, I see where we're at now.” Also, what what's interesting about technology is it also should be working in the background so the bot doesn't go away. It's just that when the agent's talking to the customer, the bot now is working behind the scenes helping the agent.

 

So if a customer asks a question around, “I have a question about a certain type of checking account.” The bot has information, it knows about that account and can pull that information up. So one, that can just be a good reference for the agent so they know or if they're chatting in chat, they can copy and paste that information in and not have to go look it up for themselves.

 

So, Yanique’s spot on that the right way to do this is how we all have one seamless conversation and that when the agent is pulled in, they’re given the context and the background on how that customer's doing, where they're at in their journey and what problem they're trying to solve. So that is the best way to do it.

 

And really, if a platform doesn't offer that capability, he would really kind of second guess them because really any of the kind of best in breed platforms offer this capability around that seamless integration between bot and human.

 

Ryan shared that LogMeIn, it's a fun company. It was founded in Boston where he lives and went public in 2013, a little before that. And they have three different businesses.

 

They focus on communications and collaboration. So products like Go To Meeting and Go To Webinar, really focus on how they help people work better together. They have an identity and access business which is focused on how do you connect to devices securely and that has a product call LastPass, which maybe you're familiar with, but it's a great product for organizing all your passwords across all different websites you go to, it's called Last Pass.

 

And then he works in their customer engagement support business is really focused on technology around helping brands better engage with their customers. And so, they have a product called Bold360, which is focused on digital engagement.

 

So, in many cases, people have phone capabilities, they have maybe e-mail capabilities but digital is still new and emerging. And to an earlier point, Covid-19, is accelerating that.

 

But they have a platform that really helps companies rapidly accelerate digital. So that could be chat, it could be messaging, it could be AI based support center pages or dynamic search bars. But basically it’s saying there’s all this wealth of capabilities that comes in digital and the nice thing about them is they’re usually more readily available. They're available 24 hours a day; they're more extensible, so you can put them in more places like in an app or in social channels.

 

And they're also often less costly to manage in the sense that either agent can do more, so they can be more conversations at once or they're just lower costs to deliver. And so, there's a really a kind of a net, it's like a win, win, win of the customer wins because it's easier for them to use it, the agent wins because they're more productive and efficient and the brand wins because it delivers a better experience.

 

And so, they've been in this space for a number of years. And he likes to say, “We drink our own champagne.” So, they have our own chatbots and experiences on their website and so Go To Meeting has a chatbot and Last Past has a chatbot and their Bold 360 project does. So, it's also fun for his as a practitioner because he has his own little test beds where they can try different things and different experiences and test and learn and share those insights.

 

Me: So, you basically provide that integration for the companies that you serve as it relates to the different platforms that they maybe communicating with their customers on, so one central place where you can navigate on that customer experience.

 

Ryan agreed and shared that basically, all of those digital engagements are housed in one location. Once again, for you to get insights out of improve the content, improve the customer journey so you can think about it kind of as your one time investment to really accelerate your digital experience.

 

Me: So, we'll definitely have the link for Bold360 in the show notes of this episode for any of our listeners who have businesses that want to take advantage of this wonderful software that exists. And I imagine you service customers not just in the United States.

 

Ryan stated that they have global customer base all over. So, all over North America, Europe, Asia, India. So, they certainly service customers, they support 50 languages natively with the chatbot in 88 languages more broadly. So this technology can work quite well in many, many applications.

 

Ryan shared that he mentioned earlier that he’s a people person, so he loves interacting with people, so that is a huge motivator for me. So just, inspiring those around him and bringing the best out of them and passing that energy back and forth. So that's one.

 

And two, he really loves solving customer problems. So he gets very energized around thinking about their customers challenges and improving how they can solve them today and into the future. And then three, he really loves consuming and creating content. So, he also does his own podcast and he really enjoys listening to podcasts. So he finds that the creation and consumption of content really energizes him as well. His podcast is called CX Next.

 

They recently just changed it; they were doing a podcast for an AI and they were talking a lot about CX topics and then so about two months ago they changed it from AI IRL to CX Next. So the podcast is a little new, but they love it, he really enjoys it.

 

They also do a weekly video series also under the CX Next name, CX Next Live. But he finds like these kind of conversations are just once again, very energizing and interesting and you get great perspectives doing them very good. Ryan shared that the lives are housed across all but most of their engagements on LinkedIn. But they do also post them to YouTube and Facebook as well.

 

When asked about an online resource that he cannot live without in his business, Ryan shared that he actually has two, ones older. Well, not old, but one that he used for a long time and one's newer.

 

He loves a tool called Asana, he’s a big project manager in person. So his team loves and hates Asana because he’s always putting things in Asana, but he really loves it. It can be a little complicated at first. They may not like hear him saying that, but there is a little bit of a learning curve, but it's a wonderful way to organize work across a team, especially a cross-functional team.

 

So that's one. And then just recently and recently being in the last like two or three months, there's a new tool called Roam Research. He was in a beta program and he thinks they just now started to offer a subscription, but it's basically creating a knowledge graph of information. It's a little bit hard to describe, but it uses like tagging and hashtags to start to better organize information.

 

And if you're into research, he does a lot of primary research, it's an amazing tool for organizing your work and your thoughts and you have a lot of ‘aha’ moments out of it side. He highly recommends if you're into the world of research and doing research or even if you find you're writing a lot and you're trying to organize thoughts, Roam Research is wonderful.

 

Me: So, is it Roam Research is using tags and hashtags to kind of bring data that you are pulling from the web together? Or is it more so kind of putting your thoughts in order based on what you plop in the application?

 

Ryan agreed and shared that it's more the latter. It's more of a tagged based tool for organizing, disparate information. So, think about it more as like, how would you organize the thoughts into your head into a kind of a more structured mechanism.

 

But it's very good in the sense of, so for example, they've been doing some primary research on different buying centers and value drivers for those buying centers and experience like customer journey mapping and some other things. And often they'll do three or four different research projects. And sometimes the connection between research projects is hard in the sense of they may have different goals and the data in that may be a bit different.

 

So, Roam can sometimes help with taking those disparate pieces of work and better mapping them together. And they have these visualization tools like how is this project connected to this project and connected to this project….

 

And it starts to open up your eyes to connections, and going back to your point of sitting at your desk and having that ‘aha’ moment, Roam can sometimes be quite good at helping you think through some of those things.

 

Me: I actually was looking it up while you were speaking a while ago and the description that they use on their website is it's a note taking tool for networked thought. So, I guess as you said, you put things down and then they're able to kind of integrate and map and connect an easier flow so that it gives you a better, a bigger picture or a clearer picture of what it is that you're trying to put together.

 

Ryan also shared that they give you a daily page and he actually find that's one of the best things they do for a number of reasons. One is, you have a page every day that appears and then for him, he’s like, what are the three things he must get done today? And he wants to get more than three things done, but what are the three things he knows he’s going to get done?

 

And then also you can then map forward and back of, “Here's what I want to get done tomorrow” or “Here's what I thought I was doing three days ago and why didn't I do it?” So he can start to create a really nice cadence of like giving you a little more discipline in your days and then your programs and in your research. He really enjoys it, it takes some getting used to also, but it's been very powerful.

 

When asked about books that have had the biggest impact, Ryan shared that two books that are very different, but both had a big impact on him.

 

So, one is a book called Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. And it's really about how do you think about products and it extended to more human experiences that are very sticky. So things that people remember, they want to come back to, they really kind of love. And so, he thinks it's a great book. Often times we get caught up in a single wow moment like the monument versus the thing that drives people to come back.

 

And so to him, it's like the journey through the Super Bowl ad, which is one time and memorable versus that experience, that people will just crave, they always want to come back for more. And so, he really feel like Made to Stick is a great way to think about the world of building product solutions, experiences that are very sticky and drive your customers to want to come back.

 

And at the end of the day, even if you're in customer service and your goal is to reduce inbound, reduce costs, you still want to make it a great experience so someone remembers it and wants to come back again the next time.

 

And the second one is, it's actually an older book, it's more of a psychology but Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy. So, he wasn't trained as a marketer, but now he spends a lot of his time in the world of marketing. He loves these older books that survived really well and a lot of it's around psychology of how people think, why they make decisions. But why he likes Ogilvy on Advertising, if you read a psychology book, oftentimes they're hard. It's not an easy thing to process but Ogilvy on Advertising, it's the world of advertising and we all can relate to advertising because every day we're giving ads.

 

So, it's a really nice book that kind of talks about the science behind it and why people make decisions they make and the psychology behind decision making. So it's a classic that he thinks is definitely worth reading, because he thinks it also very much applies to the world of customer experience where it's how do people think about decisions? How do they weigh factors? What's the psychology around decision making? Because we often get caught in the tactics, the journey map, the average handle time, there's always metrics we are caught up in.

 

But at the end of the day, people make decisions oftentimes based more on themselves and their psychology than they do around the journey map we've defined for them. So, he thinks that's a great book and good perspective.

 

When asked what is one thing that he’s working on right now to develop himself or people, Ryan shared that with everything going in the world right now, it's a timely question. Their specific team is working a lot on how do they help to bring more diversity into the world of tech and specifically into LogMeIn. There's a lot going on right now in the U.S. specifically related around violence with the police, especially toward minorities or people of colour.

 

So he’s spending some time trying to get more involved. There are great organizations in Boston like Hack Diversity and others. They have a black employee’s organization at LogMeIn. So, they recently did a really challenging but really impactful discussion around being a black employee and being someone of colour.

 

So, they're spending time at LogMeIn, certainly the U.S. has made some strides, but there's still a lot of work to be done on helping to improve diversity, improve access and improve people's lives where they don’t have to fear about going out their home and being killed. So, that's a really recent one and he thinks is really important.

 

And then outside of that, he has two small kids, so he’s always thinking about the broader world in education and everything else. “And as you can hear, one of my interns is yelling. I think she has an important thing for me to work on.” he says jokingly about his daughter.

  • Ryan shared listeners can find him at –

www.bold360.com

LinkedIn – Ryan J. Lester – Mister Lester

www.cxnext.com

 

When asked about a quote or saying that helps him to refocus, Ryan shared that there's a short version and there's a long version. So, the long version, there's a Mario Andretti was a very famous race car driver of Formula One race car driver in the U.S. and he has a great quote that says, “If you feel like you're under control, you're not going fast enough.” And he always feel like that for him is very much a case of like if you feel like everything's fine and calm, especially in the world of technology, you're not probably not moving fast enough.

 

And so the short form version of that with his team is always, he would say, “Ship it.” And so for him, it's like if they say should we do this? He’s like always there on the side of shipping it, get it out there, let the market tell you if it works or doesn't work. You obviously want to have some quality control, but often times better air on the side of let's get in front of the customer and see what they think versus trying to make it perfect before we get it out the door.

 

So those are his words of advice to the team of if you feel like you're completely under control, you're not going quick enough, so let's go ship it out the door.

 

 

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Jun 23, 2020

Matt LaClear is an SEO expert and Founder of the marketing agency Your Ad Squad, LLC. Matt’s team pursues the very best referral prospects available in any given industry with the purpose of doubling the size of a business. They are experienced in working with the big fish, yet they love small businesses and never act like a candidate is above working with them. They help their clients to set their sites on the biggest referral targets in their industry resulting in huge dividends. It forces clients to up their game to the next level and grow business. Rainmaking!

 

In 2004 Matt had his house buzzed three times by a Apache Helicopter because of his aggressive follow-up efforts on a $3 Million proposal he had submitted to the owner. The project crashed and burned, but that encounter changes Matt’s thinking forever. It changed the way he approached business and as a result, how he helps others to grow their companies through SEO.

 

Questions

 

  • Could you share with us a little bit about your journey? Tell us a little bit about your company, Your Ad Squad, the marketing agency, how it is that you've got into this line of work? just a little bit about your background.
  • Could you share with us a little bit about your SEO squad? What is SEO, how does it work? Why is it important for your business if you don't know anything, your knowledge is ground zero. In 3 to 6 sentences, how could you explain that to someone?
  • Can you share with us maybe one tool, website or app that you absolutely can't live without in your business?
  • Could you share with us maybe one or two books that have had the biggest impact on you? It could be that you've read recently, or it could be something that you read a long time ago that has still had a great impact on you.
  • We have a lot of listeners who are business owners and managers who feel that they have great products and services, some of them feel that they lack the constantly motivated human capital. If you where sitting across the table from that person, what's one piece of advice that you would give them to have a successful business as it relates to their human capital and motivating them?
  • What's one thing that's going on in your life right now that you're really excited about - either something that you're working on to develop yourself or your people.
  • Could you tell our listeners where they could find you online?
  • Do you have a quote or saying that you go by that during times of adversity or challenge, this quote is something that you would revert to to kind of just remind you what you're working on and to just refocus, re strategize, get it back on track?

 

Highlights

 

Matt shared that 25 years ago he came home from work and all his neighbours were in front of his house. He didn't know what was going on and then he noticed a little girl was riding his daughter's bike they had just bought her for Christmas. All their stuff was at the curb because they were being evicted. And he was a coward at the time or at that moment at least. And instead of stopping to get his belongings and his family's belongings, he just drove right on by. Long story short, his wife ended up going back an hour later once she got out of work.

 

But by then, almost everything was gone. They'd lost all their childhood pictures, she lost her childhood pictures, there's not one left from that time. So, it was all because he wasn't a good provider at the time. And he vowed at that time that he was going to become a better provider. And he started his own business a little bit after that. And that's how he got in the business was just through that, that situation. Now, since then, he has been running a marketing agency for 20 years and a lot has happened since then.

 

But he understands and most small business owners, they get to a position where they get hit by something like that and it changes them. And that's why he likes helping small business owners, because almost every one of them has a story like that, why they got into business, why they're doing what they do. He just likes helping small business owners. So, that's why he helped them, because they almost have the same story he has, that eviction or something bad.

 

Me: And sometimes it's the negative things in our life that really propel us to do greater things.

 

And because you can always do better. “Oh, this must be rock bottom. Okay, well, I'm going to do much better and better.” And to be honest he has made some mistakes back then that he would never make now. And he wasn't making this much obviously. But he was young but that's how he got in the business. And almost everybody has that type of story negative, the rising phoenix from the ashes.

 

Matt shared that SEO is nothing more than getting free traffic from Google in the way you get that free traffic is you take care of their customers and you give them what their customers want. And if you do that, the customers end up; Google sends you the traffic for free to your website and you make a lot of sales and you don't have to pay for the traffic. So that's SEO.

 

Me: Give us an example of a business that you've had….that you've helped. Let's say maybe a mechanic store or a retail store or maybe a restaurant, how it is that you are able to use your services to transform.

 

Matt shared that it's kind of hard, in the years they've been doing this, they've had he thinks their last count was well over 13000 different businesses they worked on. So they've got all types of rags to riches stories happen all the time. They're working on a campaign right now where it was an affiliate business, of all things, and he had a hard time getting traffic and getting Google to help them and help him give them that free traffic.

 

And being an affiliate, you don't have enough money to pay for traffic. It's not like you get 100% of the sale and that's it. Usually as an affiliate, you get 10%. So, even if you make a sale as an affiliate, it's really hard to pay for traffic.

 

And they ended up, tripling his traffic for his main money pages. And what is meant by that is they find out what pages make money for a business and then they go find those pages. And then it's a matter of just making sure that they're taking care of Google's customer, which is the user. And if they do that, they can optimize that page so Google sends more traffic to it. And since it's a client's money page, it usually converts, well, better than the rest of the sites.

 

And that's how they make their clients money. It's just a matter of finding the money pages, the ones that are actually earning the business, and then get that right. And too many SEO companies, they ignore the 80-20 rule. It's really that 95/5 rule where 5% of your pages on your website are producing 95% of your profit. He bets it's 99 and 1%, he can go as far as he can in the math and keep moving the decimal point.

 

But the fact of the matter is most businesses that are surviving from their website traffic, they're doing so with just a few pages and most SEO companies, they start coming in and they start trying to treat every page as being different or as an equal, and they do SEO and all these pages. And that really hurts the campaign because a lot of the pages aren't making money. Why are we trying to rank a page that doesn't make any money, find the pages that make money, then make sure that it's in alignment with Google's user.

 

If somebody is searching the keyword for that page that's making money for you, then you just have to go and make sure that you are taking into consideration why the user is searching that, what they're looking for, what solution they need and what you could give them to take them one step further into the selling cycle and get them deeper into the funnel. And usually he can say it's only a few pages. So, they look like heroes a lot when they get hired because, “Wow, you've increased sales by X amount.”

 

And all they did was, they focused their first month on those pages. And then that creates extra revenue. And then all of a sudden, they can start working on ranking other pages and actually getting that same process moved across to the rest of the website. But anybody starting SEO and they're in business, he highly recommend you start with the money pages and just stay with it and stay with it until it converts for you, because it doesn't matter if that page doesn't convert.

 

You want to rank it, of course. You could make some money with it, it's better than not ranking, but it's better. If you really consider the user what they're looking for and take care of them, that's taking care of Google because it makes Google's product much better. Because he remembers 8 years ago, it was easy, they could rank for anything, anything and usually a couple of days and it didn't matter the quality of the website.

 

But if you remember back then, Google wasn't a very good tool, it wasn't the sharpest crayon in the box because you wanted to search for something and you could end up on affiliate sites, you can end up on click bank sites, you can end up with somebody trying to sell an e-book with. You’re looking for an attorney maybe to do a will, some estate planning. And then you search estate planning and all that comes up are how to sell estate planning leads to attorneys.

 

Well, you’re not interested in that, Google wasn’t very good back then, but now they are. It's a very good search tool. We can find whatever we need using Google. So, because of that, now we can reverse engineer the algorithm. So, let's see what pages are ranking well for our key words. Then let's study those pages because Google is placing the pages for that keyword that the people want and it's satisfying their needs.

 

And the best way to do it is just to look to see who's already ranking, don't reinvent the wheel. Find out what's going on, why is that site ranking? What is it user intent and a lot of the times the people who are ranking well, aren't going as far in the process as they could. So there's opportunity, you can pass them. “Okay, maybe they have some of the user intent, but maybe there's more I could do.”

 

You could take them deeper in a relationship, if they're searching green algae in pool, maybe they have a pool that has algae in it and they've got a party coming up, they want to get it cleaned up in time.

 

So I could then have that whole article be about it, not only talking about how to clean your pool, but how to get it done in time, how to make sure that it's going to be done by the time of the party and then end it with a checklist on how to get your pool cleaned by the time by the time of your party.

 

Well, that's going to be a piece of content that the user is going to find very useful. It's going to be something that when they click it and they find it, they're not going to rush out and hit back on their browser so they can go to the next person on the Google listing or the search result rather than find out who's ranking. No, they're going to stay at your site and they're going to get their information.

 

Google's watching all that and they know that. So they know that you're taking care of the people coming to your site.

 

And that's the best SEO tip he can give anybody, if you take care of the user, Google's always going to take care of you. Why? Because you're taking care of Google.

 

If somebody searches Google for something and they can't pull up results for it, you’re going to get in a situation where people are going to stop using Google.

 

So, Google loves finding great information that is in alignment with what the user is looking for. And because of the precision, like he said, and he'll repeat because of the precision of Google's tool now, we can use Google search tool to reverse engineer the user intent of their clients. And they just look at their competitors site that are ranking on those keywords already because the tool’s good enough where it's showing what the best user content is, what links come into play through. But that's in a nutshell SEO.

 

Me: I like the example you gave in terms of looking at what Google is searching for, what people are searching for, and then repurposing your content to ensure that it's fulfilling that particular need. Because then the ranking will definitely come further up because some people are extremely granular when they're searching for something. So, if you're granular when you're searching for something and the tool that can actually populate the specific information within the first three options that come up, it makes the experience that much better. You don’t have to be digging through three, four or five pages, sixteen different articles, or videos, or images, trying to find the information that you’re looking for.

 

Absolutely. And you can build a bridge that way too. For instance, let's say you are a pool supply company and you sell tablets. So you drop the big tablets in the pool and it makes the green algae go away and it's fast and so it happens in 24 hours.

 

Now most business owners, they're going to try to rank that product page for the keyword, because that's the page they want everybody landing on. Well, most of the people that searching the green algae in my pool may not understand that there's a tablet ready for them that can help them. And they're not looking for that solution; at that point, they’re still further up in the funnel. They're still looking for information. So, if we search that keyword and if we own that pool company, we noticed that there's no other product pages ranking for the keyword.

 

There's a good chance at their product page won't work for it either. Why? Because the user for that keyword that's searching it isn't looking for a tablet at that point. They're just saying, “How do I fix my pool?” They don't want to end up on a product page. Instead, they want to know that we understand their problem. We break their problem down. “This is why you have algae in your pool. We're not just trying to sell you a scam or snake oil. You have your algae in your pool because of this. And there's a test you can do. And this is why you get rid of it.”

 

And once we demonstrate that we understand all that, we could have a little banner on the bottom of that article that says, “You want a checklist on how to get your pool taken care of me by the time you're party.” like he says, they download the checklist, they're going to get the checklists list, it's the next logical step in their solution to fixing their problem with the pool. So what happens after they get the checklist and they go through all that and they start trying to treat it right.

 

They change the filter; they put in extra chlorine and they’re still having a little problem. And then they get hit with an e-mail from you saying, “Hey, are you still having trouble with your pool?” It could be three days after they download the checklist or two days. “Yeah, I am.” “Well, check out our product here. Just drop a couple of tablets in and it'll be ready in 24 hours.” Now, that's a real solution.

 

Now, had they just been sent straight to our product page and we asked them to buy the tablets, now we're in a situation where we're trying to rush the sale. And in SEO, we can't rush the sale. And that's the way it used to be, we would only rank product pages because they were easy to rank. But that made Google less effective as a tool. So they made algorithms that made it so those pages wouldn't rank.

 

And so that's the good news is if you see a competitor that isn't going further in the funnel, but they're taking in consideration of the user intent, but they're not adding any teeth to it, like banner ads to go deeper into the funnel for a lead magnet. And usually, if you just offer a checklist, “Hey, you want all this information in a checklist in a PDF, just give us your e-mail.” Usually that goes really well and as far as lead generators.

 

So, it's having the opportunity of knowing the user intent and taking care of the user allows them to not only rank better take care of Google's users better, but also funnel prospects that they do get deeper into the funnel and into their own funnel. They go into the funnel, hey, I got to fix his pool, by the time they get out of the funnel, they want to clean pool, they want a good barbecue, they want to have a good thing.

 

So they're looking for it, tablets are not in their mind at that point. They will be but first, they have to let them know that they understand their problem and they understand why it happened and that they are the authorities on this problem. They're not just some people that bought some tablets from overseas and now they're trying to sell it for $99.99.

 

And they're saying it fixes, cures cancer and cleans your pool up. They just want to make sure we're not that person. And that has to be done at the speed of human interaction. We would never go on a first date and ask somebody to marry us unless it was an arranged marriage and other cultures that happens. But here in the United States, no, but it's just isn't heard of. Anybody that asked to marry you on your first date, you would probably think something was strange with that person and not have a second date.

 

But marketers, we don't mind at all trying to get people to buy our tablets right away. We'd like to get people to our product page, but that's where the user intent comes in. That's where the laws of human interaction is, you have to build the relationship. And once they see your name a few times and you've answered their question, they spent some time with you on your post. They got your guide, they got your check list, they got your email, and they’re going to buy from you.

 

Who else are they going to buy from, a vendor down the street who sends people straight to the sales page and didn't take the time to do all that? And guess what? Those are the pages that rank in Google. And those are the pages that convert. So really, SEO is just a matter of solid business development.

 

Matt shared that he’s a big, big fan of Grammarly and he also uses the Hemingway Editor too. And because when you're writing, you have to write in a way that people can scan. He tries to write everything in fifth grade or below reading level, and he sells to attorneys, too. And they like to write and they send him stuff and he'll put it in the grader and it'll be like grade 24. Don't write your copy, it needs to be fifth grade. Why does it need to be so low?

 

He gets the grammar taken care of using word and then once Grammarly gives him all the good suggestions he needs, then he moves it to the Hemingway Editor and if he can get that down to a fifth or fourth grade reading level, that just guarantees that all his sentences are short, that his paragraphs are short, and that he’s not using a lot of adverbs.

 

And why is that important? Because his readers are going to be able to scan through it really fast. It's going to be like a hot knife through butter. And whenever we slow a brain down, when they're reading, it just invites distraction and that's why. So, that's his app.

 

Matt shared that he and his partner, they just went through a book study of The Power of Positive Thinking with Norman Vincent Peale, just having a positive mindset. And it's funny, right when they finish the book, the crisis started with the virus. It was like, “Oh, man, when didn’t want to have to test this so soon, we just finished the book.” But it worked and it helped them and as business owners, any business owners, as any kid in school, just kind of a positive mindset.

 

If he had had a positive mindset in school, he would've had a lot better time. But he didn't have a positive mindset, it took him till he was in his forties to figure out he needed a positive mindset. But that's a great book, he highly recommends that one.

 

Matt shared that he’s a highly motivated person. His first 20 years in business, he had a hard time with people who weren't motivated. He felt like they were in his way. And if they were in his way, they're going to get pushed out of his way. He had momentum and then once you get momentum going, you never want to lose it. Now, I'm not telling people to start pushing people your way.

 

But what he wouldn't say is starting establishing some momentum. The very thing that makes us get upset when somebody trips us up is that they are slowing our momentum down. So we're reversing that and looking at it from the other way, if we establish momentum, which will give us enough will power to get through to where we're trying to get to. And most of the people that work for us and the human condition is they are unmotivated, they don't have a desire to accomplish anything big in their life.

 

So it makes it hard for them and they kind of stray. So, he tries to get momentum going with their staff, he tries to get them training, he tries to get them excited for themselves. So they're learning things that it has nothing to do with our business. But if they can learn a skill set, it helps them when they do the work. But even if they quit later, they still have the skill set with them that they can use with their competitor even or start their own business.

 

And sometimes that happens. And it used to hurt him and make me angry and it doesn't anymore because you want people having maximal momentum in your life, because we want it in our own life and the more momentum that your workers have, the more momentum that they'll have to give us. So when they bump into it, it actually propels us forward and rather than to be stalled out in front of us.

 

So that's the beauty of having acceleration, accelerated momentum. And to get that momentum going is a lot of different things you can do. But usually it's personal development for the workers taking care of them and he doesn't mean just paying them more, just treat them like a member of the team and help them strengthen how they feel about themselves and give them something to work towards and celebrate the wins with them. And they get the momentum and sometimes they get so much momentum, they go out the door, they go somewhere else for more money but you know what, he did his job in those cases.

 

So he would just say to anybody in that position just get some momentum going, get your employees excited. There's a lot of different things you can do for them, get some training going, usually online training and it usually is a good momentum builder too for staff especially if there's certification involved, because that skill set, they're padding and their own resume. Now they're doing something not just for you because they're getting paid, but now they're doing something for themselves.

 

So that's what he would say, if he got asked that question again, he would give you the crib's note would be the short version would be. Get your employees excited about themselves. Do some personal training, help them always be padding their resumé with whether it's certifications or experience or even help them with case studies.

 

 

So they have their own case studies, helped on this and this and this with this company. So, give them personal case studies, so they're padding their own resumé as they're going along. And so they make one case study for us, this is what our agency did for this client. But then on the same time, they have the writer.

 

They can easily just say also write one for one of our employees, who was very instrumental in this, that they can put in their CV or their resume or upload to LinkedIn. And lets people know that you care about them. But more importantly, it gets them excited about their job. And now they want to do that again, they want some more padding on their resume.

 

Matt shared that they’re doing a lot of different things because of the crisis and it's forced them to do a lot of things, something that they're really excited and is getting buy in from their employees and the work they're doing, they're getting scorecards so it's not they they're going to be checking on that, but they're going to be giving them scorecards at the end of every week of what they've accomplished and what they haven't accomplished. And it keeps them from having to look over their shoulders.

 

And so, they're treating them as little mini business owners and they're giving them a lot of leeway with it, too. So, he’s excited about that, that they're having a lot more autonomy with the staff rather than everybody knocking on his door and saying, “Matt, you got a minute?” because you’re die a little inside every time you hear that especially if you got your own momentum going. So they're getting buy in and it's working and that has him excited because that's momentum.

 

 

 

  • Matt shared listeners can find him at –

www.yourseosquad.com

            Facebook – Matthew LaClear

 

 

When asked about if he has a quote or saying that he reverts to during times of adversity or challenge, Matt shared that he has it pinned right in front of him, Psalm 16 vs 5-6, “Lord, you have assigned me my portion in my cup. You have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” That makes it very easy for him to do business deals when he has that mindset.

 

Me: Wow, that's so beautiful. We need it now especially in the climate and the environment of what's going on in the world generally speaking.

 

Temporary, not forever. And our inheritance and while faith comes into play but even without faith, you could get through this. This is just temporary.

 

 

 

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Jun 16, 2020

Naomi Garrick is an author, International Speaker and Personal Branding Coach that helps individuals, entrepreneurs, corporate executives and CEO’s to discover and develop their unique personal brand in order to effectively communicate their expertise and standout in their craft or industry.

 

She is also the founder of Garrick Communications – a boutique PR agency and a Certified Reputation Champion by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) with over 16 years of experience in Public Relations & Marketing, working with over 100 brands and individuals and Co-Founder of EMERGE personal development summit and workshops.

 

Naomi is passionate about helping people to see the greatness that sometimes they cannot see within themselves by helping individuals to identify or re-invent their unique personal brand in order to stand out in a noisy world.

 

Questions

 

  • Could you share with us a little bit about your journey, how it is that you got to where you are today?
  • What are maybe two or three things that you think a company can do to ensure that they maintain a strong brand especially in this time that we're operating in?
  • In a case where let us say the story got ahead of you and you were not able to do any damage control, what are some of the things that you think an organization should do in order to recover their reputation? Because one of your R's in your book is reputation. So how would you told you manage that reputation if you realize that it's becoming tarnished and people are saying negative things?
  • Can you tell us how do you stay motivated everyday?
  • Could you share with us one online resource, tool, website or app that you absolutely cannot live without in your business?
  • Could you share with us maybe two or three books that have had the biggest impact on you?
  • What’s one thing that’s going on in your life right now that you’re really excited about – either something that you’re working on to develop yourself or your people?
  • Where can our listeners find you online?
  • What is one quote or saying that during times of adversity or stress or any form of obstacle that you maybe faced with, you tend to draw on this quote or saying because it kind of helps to keep you refocused or get you refocus so that you can achieve your goal or get your mind set to on what you need to achieve?

 

Highlights

 

You are the P.R. chief, personal branding coach, so many different titles and themes that go according to your name. Can you share with us a little bit about that? And then we'll dive right into how we can dovetail locked into customer experience.

 

Naomi shared that it's funny because a lot of people now know her as the PR chick, but she wasn't always known as the PR chick, she actually studied Hotel and Tourism Management because she thought at the time that that's what she really wanted to do.

 

And that's also because at that age where you're deciding what you want to do in University, she wasn't quite sure. But her best friend was studying Tourism, she was going to study Tourism Management and people said that she (Naomi) had the personality for the hospitality industry, and that's why she jumped into that space. But even after completing for year 3, she always ended up working in the marketing or sales side of the hospitality industry, but after being in that space for about two and a half years, she realized a couple of things about herself. One, she really missed being around her family. Two, working in the hospitality industry is really a 24-hour industry, especially if you live on property at the hotel, which she did in Negril.

 

And so, she came back to Kingston not really quite sure what she wanted to do next. And luckily, she had the opportunity to meet with a gentleman in Jamaica Kimani Robinson, who had just launched RETV, which was Reggae Entertainment Television, which was really like the B.E.T. of the Caribbean, she would say, or MTV.

 

And after speaking with her, he offered her an opportunity to be a Sales and Marketing Coordinator, which then led to Sales and Marketing Manager for almost 5 years. And it was during that stint with the company, someone else had approached her about doing some publicity work for an upcoming dancehall artist. And she was a little bit confused at the fact that he would ask her to do that because she really didn't do a lot of PR for RETV, it was more of the marketing and sales side.

 

But he was so convinced that she was the person for this role. And so she said, “Okay, I'll try.” And she remembered walking to the nearest bookstore and getting all the books that she could find about being a publicist, and public relations, because she knew some of the basics but she really didn't know that much about the space.

 

And she realized when she started and she did her first press release, that because relationships is such a big driving force for her, she had really built these amazing relationships with the people behind the scenes, like the key decision makers in the media, the editors, the directors, the producers, the writers, the people that actually determine what we see, hear and read in the media.

 

And they saw her as a very credible source of information, and she had really good writing skills. She actually thinks that if she didn't study hospitality, she would have become a literature teacher.

 

And so, that's where she started doing PR work really for entertainers, the artists, upcoming artists, established artists. And she did that for a period of maybe about a year and a half while she was still at RETV. And then she became pregnant with her son in 2005. And at that point, it's like her brain does this shift. And she was just like, “I actually don't think this is the right space for me right now,” because being in the entertainment space, it required being out a lot at different types of events, at different types of hours, in the morning and in the night.

 

And she still went back to that original thought of wanting stability and flexibility to spend real quality time with her family and being in that position, she wouldn't be able to do that. And so, again, she started trying to figure out what's next for her.

 

And even doing the PR work was great, but working with entertainers would put her in that space of entertainment, which wasn't very stable for her at the time. And so another opportunity came up where a new hotel was opening in Kingston, a boutique hotel.

 

And as much as she thought she didn't want to go back into hospitality, there was an opportunity for the role of Corporate Communications Manager. And she didn't have corporate communications experience, but she had hospitality experience and she had PR and media experience. And so, she went ahead and she did the interview and she got the interview on the spot. But very quickly, after about three months, again, she realized that hospitality really is not for her.

 

She actually really loves this PR thing, especially because now, she had the opportunity to work in the lifestyle side of PR, which she really, really loves.

 

And so, she made a very hard decision to just start her own company, Garrick Communications and to just go headfirst into entrepreneurship without the savings, without a plan, really. But she knew that she didn't want to work for anyone ever again. And so, she started her company really with just her, her BlackBerry, a camera and a laptop, no office.

 

And luckily, again, because of relationships, one of the media houses in Jamaica heard that she had started this journey on her own and offered to do a feature or story about her, which ended up being the cover story for that publication and that's what led to her first client. They celebrated their 10th anniversary last year and they've never advertised their business. It has really just been through referrals, recommendations. And of course, their results as well and relationships, which is as she said before, is a massive driving force.

Three years ago, she started this new journey into personal branding and personal brand coaching, and that came out of being a part of an accelerator program for entrepreneurs. And one of the things that their coach had suggested was finding a way to make this nocturnal revenue or revenue in your sleep by putting in the effort one time. And the example she gave was a book.

 

She first start writing about PR and PR storytelling, but it just wasn't grabbing her and she couldn't get past chapter one, and then literally, she remembers watching something about using your experience and your skills to offer value and to serve others.

 

And she woke up the following morning like at about 3:00 am and she just had this idea that she had to write about personal branding, which is her personal journey to this point, because even without the degree, it was the other skill set or the other not so tangible things that really helped to propel her career over the last 15 to17 years.

 

And so, she just started thinking about some of the steps that she took and she created a workbook. And now 3 years after that, she has 3 books, she’s a speaker, she’s a coach, she does workshops. She just launched an online course and she’s really stepping into this role of personal branding coach because as much as she loves PR and she loves her agents and she loves her clients, she gets so much fulfillment from what she does right now by really helping individuals to see the greatness within themselves that sometimes they just don't see and then how best to communicate it to their ideal audience.

 

Me: Awesome. Brilliant. So really, really an amazing, a fantastic journey. And you touched on something that basically dovetails into what we're all about in this program. And it was actually highlighted in a webinar that I did this morning with some customer service experts globally. One of the things one of the speakers said was people who are hired for social channels must have certain skill sets that may not have existed before. And you touched them both.

 

They must be good writers and they must have public relation training. They are the voice of the company. So writing and PR training and I mean, you said it. You said it not in the template of a training that you would have gone to or something you learned in school. But basically because these are skills that you would have had naturally, as well as develop through the different experiences that you had that now materialize into a way that you can give back and help others.

 

Me: Branding is a great buzzword. I see it on the internet all the time. And you can look at branding from different aspects. You have a corporate brand and you have personal brand. Now, a client’s experience with a brand is very, very important. And it can make or break your business. We've seen a lot of negative news floating around recently, both locally and internationally when companies are not responsive, when they delete comments off of their social media pages, when they don't try to do things in a way that helps to enhance the customer's experience.

 

So could you give us maybe two or three things that companies need to be doing if they're not doing it already?

 

Naomi shared that the first thing she would say is that every single member or employee of a company is actually the brand manager for that company.

 

Every single person plays a role because every contact point that we have with a member of an organization or a company or a brand, can actually make or break our relationship or our experience or our views about that company or brand.

 

so, she would tell her clients that even the first person that you meet which sometimes is the security guard at an establishment, especially here in Jamaica. Sometimes just the way they greet you can throw off your entire mood as you are getting prepared for a meeting with someone in that organization, or it can completely lift your spirits.

 

And you end up having a super successful meeting just because your energy levels have changed just because of a very short one to two minute interaction and engagement, your employees actually become the spokespeople for your company, because when there is a crisis, a lot of times they are going to say, “Hey, let me pick up the phone and speak to my friend or this person that I know works at this organization.” And so, communication to her would be also extremely key.

 

And you start as a company first with your internal customers, which are your employees, because a lot of times when there's a crisis, sometimes your employees are hearing about it for the first time in the news or on Twitter.

 

that should not be the case, because if someone asks them, they should be able to have some kind of response that has been discussed with the company. So, they also know what to say if they are approached by just a friend, by an individual or by a client or by the media, because we all become these media/brand managers for that company as well.

 

Another thing that she would say, because you said two to three, is transparency because now we live in this digital world where we can find information about everybody and information is shared so quickly. So, you want to ensure that if there is some kind of crisis, that one, you are ahead of that story, even if you don't have a complete response yet, it's important to just acknowledge, use the same channels that the story came out.

 

So, if something came out about your brand or our company on Twitter, that's where you need to respond first and then you can use your other channels to respond. And that's why so many companies now post press releases through their social media channels first before even sharing with the media so that individuals know that this is what we had to say about this particular incident, this is our stance and we will continue to update you as we get more information. So it's very important to lead the story instead of you trying to play catch up now.

 

And to address things that may not even have been real or related but it's just because you've allowed the media or you've allowed individuals to create the story because you're not being a part of the storytelling process.

 

And so, timeliness, she thinks would be the last thing. Have to respond in a timely manner, we can't be taking 24 hours or two days or a week to respond to something, even if it's not a crisis. And as she said, if you don't have the full answer yet, say that, say…..

 

“This is a situation; this is what we know right now, we are addressing this and we will have an update for you within 24 hours or in the next two hours or continue to follow us on our social media platforms for the latest updates on this situation.”

 

And she thinks that's where we go wrong a lot of the times is we don't respond immediately. And then we end up with that “No comment” thing, which she thinks is like the worst thing ever. So when you say no comment, it's kind of like people feel that you're hiding something or like you are actually in the wrong. And then they create their own stories, which is not what you want.

 

Me: So your first was communication. Second was transparency and third was timeliness.

 

Naomi reiterates that the first one is really just acknowledging that we're all managers for whatever company or brand that we work for. We all have a responsibility to carry the correct message, which would lead then to communication.

 

Me: So it's very important for us to focus on all these areas to ensure that our customer experience is one in which is positive. Everybody's looking for the same thing, customer loyalty, customer retention, positive word of mouth advertising, testimonials. And unfortunately, even though there are opportunities for you to pay for some of these things, if it's done organically and it's being done from a place of authenticity, your customers are really your best marketing tool.

 

Naomi shared that one; she would say that personal branding is really your reputation. But they use this new buzzword. But it's not. It is your reputation. And as you said your reputation matters so much more so even now. She likes to quote Warren Buffett where he says, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and only 5 minutes to ruin it.” And if we think about that, we do things differently.

 

But in this digital world, you can ruin a reputation in seconds with a tweet, a screenshot, a voice note, a video, it can go viral. But the great thing is that that viral-ness can also help us to correct a situation. So, we have a great opportunity with social media platforms to really get our message out there in a very quick way.

 

So, yes, maybe we missed the original mark and we were behind with responding to a crisis or there really was something that we were involved with that left a not such a pleasant taste with our loyal fans or our customers.

 

And that's why it goes back to those tips that she had recommended earlier, that timeliness of response and being authentic and genuine with your audience and your customers. And so, she would recommend, and even not just doing a static press release, but doing a video, letting them see you, feel your emotions to show that you care and you actually took the time to sit down and do this, you the CEO and owner of the company, not your corporate communications manager, not your director of public relations, but you the person, because she honestly believe with leadership, when things go right for the company, it's the leader of the company, when things go wrong with the company, it’s the leader of the company.

 

And so, that's a time when a leader really needs to step up to the plate and get in front of those cameras and really share what is really happening. Show empathy and show that you care especially if you are in the wrong and you know you are in the wrong. Apologize, acknowledge the situation. Apologize for it; these are the steps we're taking to make sure this never happens again. And this is what we're doing with our team to ensure that we have things in place to mitigate a situation like this in the future.

 

So it's almost like you let them in to become a part of the process and you can even open it up to say, “If you have any ideas that you believe would be helpful to us during this time, please don't hesitate to email me directly.”

 

And you give them your personal email address so that they can contact, they can reach out to you and you respond to them.

 

That’s how you retain that loyalty from those customers, those raving fans that you had that were your ideal audience, because they are the ones now that will speak to this new experience you know, “I'm starting to have second thoughts about this company because this happened. But then when I got this email with this letter from the owner of the company and he asked for our opinion and our help. It made me feel good and it felt like this was a brand that I still want to support.”

 

Me: Agreed. Brilliant. Excellent answer, Naomi. And I think many of our listeners that listen to the podcast have small businesses. Some of them are part of large entities as well, play very significant roles. And so reputation is very important, especially during this time. As you said, empathy is so, so critical. And I like the fact that you said that they put themselves out there and put their own e-mail or contact number so that the client can actually reach in touch with them.

 

It shows that they're making themselves a part of the solution. So it's not them trying to fix it, the team trying to fix it. But I am a part of the solution as well, and I'm committed to it. And I'm here to hold your hand and walk you through it to make sure that we both come out on the positive end of this. So I really, really love that response.

 

Naomi shared that at the end of the day, we just want to connect. We're all human beings and we crave connection, significance. And she speaks about this all the time that, Tony Robbins says that, “People are not in the business of buying goods and services, they're in the business of feeling and connection and emotion.”

 

 And so that's what draws us to our brand or company more than the actual product or the cost of the product or even the service that you provide.

 

But it's the experience that you create with different people when they meet with you or they engage with your product or they engage with your team.

 

Me: And they buy you before they buy a product or service. So it's important for you to ensure that you are being very genuine about whatever you're doing because people can pick up if you're being fake. It comes over in a tone of voice, your body language, how you respond, as you said, you send somebody a message and you say to yourself, “But I know they got the message. I know they saw the message. They've been in this application for quite a few times after I've sent a message and they haven't even acknowledged that they got the message to give a response.” People pay attention to those things.

 

Naomi shared that of course, because she celebrated Brand Day last week on her birthday. She has gotten so many emails, messages, everything. And so like she’s just using this week to start going through. And she noticed that a colleague of hers had sent her an email probably on Saturday, today's Friday. She had not responded yet because she’s still going through but what she did was let me (Naomi) send her a quick WhatsApp just to let her know that she sees her email, and she will respond by end of day to day. And she responded right away saying, “I was starting to wonder what was happening. So I really appreciate the fact that you sent me this message.” So sometimes it's as simple as that.

 

And people don't know what you're going through, so they just can't assume that, it's because she’s trying to respond to everybody's email. They may think that she just doesn’t have the time to respond to them or you don't care. And she cares about everybody because everybody that she interacts with, she wants to create a positive experience with them, even if it's not to buy a product or service because it's her.

 

And so when she responded, she knew she was doing the right thing, your gut tells you something. She flags things in her email that she hasn’t read yet. And she saw the purple flag, and she’s like, she’s going to message her right now so that she knows that she didn’t just see her email and not respond.

 

Me: It really goes a very far way and it's always the little things. It's always the little thing that goes a far way.

 

Naomi shared that she doesn’t stay motivated every day that would absolutely be the most honest answer, especially during right, right now. There are some days where she still doesn't have the energy to do anything. She thanks God that she has a child and that's what actually gets her out of bed some mornings.

 

So, he is a big motivator for her. But also she leans into a couple of things when she needs motivation. So, her morning routine, it helps a lot with that because she starts off using intention cards to just set her intention for the morning.

 

She gets up early every morning and she just needs the quiet time to really sit down and not really do any work. But she’ll listen to a podcast like maybe this (Navigating the Customer Experience) podcast. She listens to a podcast or listens to a positive meditation or something just to start the day right with a great cup of coffee. That's very important to her to set the tone but also her tribe is very, very important to her.

 

And she has different types of tribes. She has tribe of girlfriends where it’s just her close friends from high school. But she also has a tribe of entrepreneurial women. Women in business who she would lean to during a time like this, because we are going through a similar experience together and just sitting down and talking to each other. We get to share ideas, share experiences, you know it's not you alone and we're always motivating and encouraging each other.

 

So that is very, very important to her. And her colleagues and her, Rochelle and Catherine, they talk about your circle of genius all the time. Who do you let into that space? One of the things that she also do for her motivation is, she’s not on social media very often, so she’s on it very purposefully because she don't want to come across maybe a post or something that's shared that maybe gives her a sense of anxiety, because sometimes she’ll go online and she’ll see other people in her field of knowledge sharing and doing the most.

 

They're doing all these amazing things every single day. And for her, she gets a little bit anxious because then she starts thinking, “Am I not doing enough? Why am I not doing all these things?”

 

And so, actually, one of the purposeful things she started doing was actually muting some of her friends, some of the people that she follows so that she’s not bombarded with that as she gets up in the morning. And so, she really goes online when she’s ready to share or to respond to queries or questions that are on her pages.

 

And so she has had to create those social media boundaries for herself to keep her own motivation up. And the last thing is that she reads a lot. So, she’s always reading and learning from other people's experiences. So that really helps to keep her motivation up for sure.

 

When asked about an online resource that she cannot live without in her business, Naomi shared that that's Canva. So she doesn't have graphic design skills. She comes from a very creative family but that gene skipped her. Canva allows her to be a graphic designer. So she uses Canva for everything, for her social media posts, for her e-books, for her on boarding emails to her coaching clients, for her proposals, for her backdrops.

 

She just saw today that you can customize your Zoom backdrops using Canva, they have a template for that now. So, it is what she uses to do all of her branding. So, she usually has someone create a really great piece of branding for her in the form of a logo and then she just utilizes the brand colours to now use Canva to create her own content, that she can use on all her digital media pages, her website, YouTube channels. And just for promotional material for her business or just basic information and creating content. Canva is her go to, it’s free and if you pay for the pro version, she believes it's like US $12.00 a month, it's worth it.

 

When asked about books that have had the biggest impact, Naomi shared that there's so many. But her two favorite, favorite, favorite books are The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. And that's really just about tapping into your purpose and really just understanding that your journey makes you who you are. And that's how you develop your personal legend by just starting with you. So, she loves that and she listens to Audibles as well. And she read the physical book, but she also listen to the audible sometimes when she needs just a little bit of motivation.

 

And then the second one is the Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes, because that book literally changed her life in 2017 and that's really a book about starting to say yes to everything. The things that scare you the most because they lead to so many opportunities for your life. And so Shonda shares her story about how one Thanksgiving her sister was saying that she doesn't say yes to anything.

 

And for example, at that time she hired a publicist and his job was to tell people that she can't attend an event or she can't speak at an event because she just would not do those things. And then, so her first real big speaking event was a graduation ceremony, that clip is still on YouTube because it's her most powerful thing to date. And speaking engagement and that just led her to so many opportunities to speak, to lose weight, to do all the things she was scared to do really.

 

And it has transformed her life. And so for her (Naomi), 2017 became her year of yes and that's when her life also changed in a very positive way. And then she would also say any book by Tim Ferriss, if you're a business person, is great. The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich is amazing, now is a great time actually to be reading that book because we're all kind of living in this four hour workweek life right now with this pandemic. And he shows you how to do it the right way.

 

But he also has these two big books, Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World by Timothy Ferriss, that’s amazing and he has another one – Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris. They are two massive books and what it is, is a collection of tips, tools, books, all kinds of information from hundreds of people, whether it’s authors, celebrities, cooks, athletes, all kinds of individuals just sharing tips on their morning routine, lessons learnt, favourite book to give away and it’s just like this massive book of awesomeness.

 

Me: Great resources, some parts of it must resonate with you and helped to advance you in some ways.

 

Naomi stated that somethings you never thought about until you read it, so it’s really great.

 

Naomi stated that she will share two things, one, during this time she has discovered that she is an expert banana bread baker. She started baking banana bread literally on a weekly basis and she just bakes them to give away to people actually. So, she has been on Amazon a little bit too much during this time but she bought these little mini baking tins so now when she does a batch, she can actually do 5 small mini banana breads and she keeps 1 for her house and then give away the rest to her friends or her neighbours.

 

And it just makes her feel good, her son is annoyed with her because he thinks she should sell them but that’s not why she bakes them. It’s actually one of her coping mechanisms during this time, it just puts her in a different place and she just loves when people calls her back to say how delicious the banana bread was. Banana bread chronicles.

 

And then also, she finally launched her online course on Building a Personal Brand and it’s something she should have done 2 years ago but she never had the time. And so, she has taken this time to finally sit down and build the courses, it’s 18 modules with coaching videos and work sheets and she’s really excited about it and the feedback she has been getting from individuals that signed up for the course last week has been so great.

 

And she loves that she can actually see their progress in the course and the respond to them in real time if they have any challenges. So, she really proud of that, it’s 2 years in the making and COVID forced her to buckle down and launch it and she is really excited about it.

 

  • Naomi shared listeners can find her at –

www.iamnaomigarrick.com

LinkedIn – Naomi Garrick

Instagram - @naomigarrick

                     @theprchick

 

Naomi shared that her favourite quote and she speaks about it all the time is, “The journey is the reward.” It’s a Chinese proverb and really it just reminds us that everything that has happened in our lives, the good things and the bad things, the things that we don’t like, the things that we don’t want to acknowledge and accept, are actually the things that makes us this person that we are today.

 

And without those experiences, we wouldn’t be who we are in this moment. And so, a lot of times, we get very flustered thinking about the future and we get anxiety and we don’t know what’s next or we haven’t achieved the goals that we wanted in our lives right now without remembering to look back at all the things that got us to this point.

 

And yes, COVID-19 is one big challenge and we’re in a pandemic, but you can think back, every individual must have had something in their life that happened, some kind of challenge that they were able to overcome.

 

And so, it just reminds you that we will get over this, when, she’s not sure but there are lessons to be learned during this time, find the lessons in the journey and then accept that this is just making you the person you are meant to become.

 

 

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Jun 9, 2020

Gessie Schechinger is the laziest salesman in America as well as Vice President of Sales for OnCourse Sales Engagement Platform. Gessie is passionate about leveraging technology and automation to surpass revenue targets so he can help protect golf and bar time for the salespeople of the world.

 

Gessie won annual sales awards at 2 different Fortune 500 companies. His 20+ years of sales experience began in an outbound call center where he averaged 450 calls per week and blew out his quota by 297%. Unsurprisingly, he moved to field sales where he travelled 300 days a year convincing the biggest companies in the United States to open their wallet. He now spends his time educating sales leaders to utilize the most effective sales tool in the world and co-hosts the mediocre podcast, TechTales.

 

Questions

 

  • Could you just share with us a little bit about your journey, how you got into sales in the first place? Is it something that you realized you were born for or were you just thrown into that initially when you started your career?
  • So you are the Chief Revenue Officer at OnCourse Sales Engagement Platform. Brilliant, brilliant platform. Could you tell us a little bit about your platform or what it really does for an organization and what types of companies can use this type of platform?
  • Could you share with us maybe one to three things that you think a salesperson needs to be successful, especially in this space that we're in currently globally? Sales is definitely changing, how do you see the really successful salespeople being able to manoeuvre through this time?
  • Could you share with us how you think the future of sales is going to look when we come out of this pandemic? Do you think things will change much in terms of how we sell to each other? Or do you think we're going to return back to that face to face experience?
  • How is it that you manage to stay motivated everyday?
  • Share with us what's one online resource, tool, website or app that you absolutely cannot live without in your business?
  • Could you share maybe one or two books that have had the biggest impact on you? Maybe a book that you read a long time ago or a book that you've read recently that's really had a great impact on you?
  • What's one thing that's going on in your life right now that you're really excited about? I guess something that you're working on to develop yourself or your people.
  • Where can our audience find you online?
  • Could you share with us now as we wrap up one quote are saying that during times of adversity, you tend to revert to this quote. It helps you to refocus and maybe re strategize if you're having a challenge or an obstacle. It's just a little quote that kind of helps you to stay on track.

 

Highlights

 

Gessie shared that it's really interesting in the sense that what really drove everything for him was this constant yearning to try to cut corners, which typically isn't great. But when he was a kid, he lived down the street from a golf course and he would go find golf balls. And then he would sit at this hole that had a big lake on it and he would sell his “experienced golf balls” to the golfers that were coming by.

 

And as soon as he started making money doing that, he was like, “Oh, this seems pretty unique.” And then as things progressed in his career, he just didn't love listening to bosses, he wouldn’t say he was crazy rebellious but he just hated people telling him what to do. And so he was really just looking for like, “Okay, so how can I not be told what to do and still, you know, pay my bills?”

 

So, how is he going to figure this out and sales seems like one of those things where you're up against a number. They give you a number that you have to hit and then you go out and you hit that number, as long as you hit that number, then you're going to be good. It's like the one hand you have; you want some independence and stuff.

 

But the one thing you do learn very quickly on is that you always have a boss and that boss is the customer. And they're going to be the ones that really dictate your level of success or not. And so, being able to kind of cater to customers and keep people generally happy it kind of saved him and giving him some independence as his career went on.

 

Me: Amazing, amazing. So, sales is where the game's at. And you're right, as a salesperson, you are pretty much your own boss, because at the end of the day, as you said, you had a target. And once you met that target or exceeded it, then you are levelled up and given a new target. So to some extent, you managed your own schedule.

 

Gessie shared that OnCourse is a sales engagement platform. And it's a CRM, but it's a CRM with a couple added functionalities baked into it. So, they were at ZIB Tech, which is the company that owns OnCourse, as it started was not a very large company, very much a small business. And they were paying for Salesforce, they were paying for Outreach they had tons of these independent tools.

 

And one, the spending was just getting kind of crazy because everyone's adding users and there's a cost and everything just got kind of out of hand. And they also didn't really talk very well to each other. And so they wanted to create a platform that gave you all the basic functionality you would need to really take advantage of automation and sales without having to sign up for several different companies. And so, where they are really strong is everywhere, from entrepreneurs to businesses that are doing that 20, 30 million in revenue or maybe have like 10 man teams or less.

 

Their tool is very good because it gives you a lot of flexibility. And so, inside the tool, you're going to have the CRM functions, so that's your client record information, that's your opportunity management, pipeline management. And then also, the tool has a dialler software in it. So, you have your phone system, it can do SMS text messaging, it will also do LinkedIn automation. So, if you're selling via LinkedIn, they have a lot of great automation around how you can get that LinkedIn outreach going very effectively, as well as doing bulk e-mail, kind of that MailChimp Constant Contact type functionality.

 

Me: So, it's extremely robust and it definitely can serve a great purpose for anybody who is trying to level up their sales game.

 

Gessie shared that the funniest thing is in sales, especially his team. So, he is having the exact same challenges that everybody else is at and so they have the traditional channels which are face to face meetings, phone and email. And those three channels have been worked. But then all of a sudden you start feeling like, “Okay, well, I'm getting a lot of noise and email.” They’re always like, “What's that new channel, what are the things that are going to help?”

 

Now, LinkedIn is really good because where your email outreach but he gets all these emails every morning he wakes up and there's a part of him that just gets happy deleting them all. He has this big number and he can delete all his easy ones first. And it just makes him kind of happy, it makes him feel productive. And so, you're hoping that your sales outreach doesn't become one of those emails.

 

And so, the first thing is really trying to focus in. He thinks what a lot of people get caught up on is that they think they need to be good at every single channel. And that's not necessarily true. He will always believe that the phone will win. He thinks that the phone is the only way that you actually close business. And so the phone is something that you always have to have an outreach is something going when it comes to cold calling or your phone game.

 

Your phone game's got to be good, but then you just need to pick one other channel and be really good at it. Now, as per your point, they don't really have that face to face option, they don't really have the trade shows like all of that stuff is done. And what he would say is, figure out how you can stand out above the noise and get that LinkedIn game.

 

And he thinks the good news about LinkedIn is that you actually know that you're reaching the person that you're looking for. And the funny thing is that he over the course of his career, he has been hung up on, he has been cussed at, he has had people send horrendous emails back to him. Very, very rude is, anybody in customer service, we've all been there.

 

Something about LinkedIn, it makes people polite. He doesn't know what it is, he thinks maybe it's because you're like two clicks from their boss, not really sure how exactly it works, but everyone's super polite. He’s like, “Oh, no, thank you.” “Oh, appreciate you reaching out.”

 

And so, that has been very, very good for them. They've got to double down their efforts there and that's really helped. And the problem is, is that he kind of thinks of sales in a lot of people do, is like fishing. And so, you find like this new little spot at the lake that you think's got a lot of fish at it.

 

And so you go and that's LinkedIn. And so you're kind of coming in but now all sudden, we see like lots other boats showing up. So now tons of people are showing up like, “Oh, boy, it's starting to get noisy.” And one of the things that their company pivoted to and their sales outreach was, first of all, if you're a person out there listening; don't ever just write somebody a three to four paragraph message.

 

Nobody's going to read it and they just know that you're trying to sell something right away. And then you have like everybody, all of a sudden, everybody's concerned with his business and wants to learn how things are. He’s like, “I kind of don't think you are concerned. I think you're trying to sell me something from the start.” And so he thinks that you need to be very authentic. And then what they ended up doing was, they ended up starting doing embedded video in their LinkedIn because you might have something to say and it might be a complex value proposition, there might be a product or a service that you're representing that does take some explanation in order to convey those thoughts. And he just knows himself; he’s like one of the worst people ever, he only reads the news headlines, like only the bold, even in college, it was just the bold words.

 

It's got to be super interesting for him to get the details. So, what he found was but almost everybody will watch your video. So, if you can give it to them, get your message under two minutes, put it in a video, put it on LinkedIn, and you're going to stand out way past everybody else. And it's going to really help you cut through a lot of the noise that we're experiencing today.

 

Me: I agree with you. Actually, when you spoke about video a while ago, I was thinking to myself, I hope he says the video is going to be short because typically, if I look on it and I tap and I see 9 minutes, 15 minutes, I'm like, “Whoa, that's just too long.” So 2 minutes is good and whatever you're going to say, if you can capture it in 2 minutes and capture the attention of the person then you definitely have a winning tool right there.

 

So you said video helps to cut through the noise. And we have to definitely take a different approach as it relates to sales and we have to try and be more authentic. I like the fact that you mention that we shouldn’t be sending 3, 4 paragraphs to somebody who we don't know on LinkedIn. And as we know, LinkedIn has what, the first connection, second connection and third, some of the connections if they're not connected to somebody you know, sending a note is definitely a good thing, a good place to start. But as you said, I think maybe one really powerful statement is good enough.

 

Gessie thinks you can just have one little statement. He also thinks that you got to make sure it's personal. So, here's the thing, you can send out a message to somebody and say, “I'm trying to expand my network, love to have you connect.” It’s like, “Awesome, let me help you sell to more people.” which you know is fine but if you can lead with, “Hey, I saw that we have Bill Smith in common, love to get to know you as well. Are you familiar with Bill? Do you know Bill?” Whatever, it's this much more organic and natural because if you and him (Gessie) were at a conference and Bill knew you, he wouldn't just come up and say, “Hi, Yanique, I'm trying to expand my network, want to be friends?”

 

He’s never going to do that, that's a weird thing to do. So, he’s definitely going to come up to you and say, “Hey, Bill told me about you, you've got an awesome podcast. I'd really like to talk to you about it.” That's a much more organic way of cultivating relationships. And he thinks if more people just thought about it, if you are in a bar and you had to approach somebody, lead with that line, don't lead with this, “I'm expanding my network.” If somebody came up to him off the streets and say, “Hey, I'm very worried about your business and think I can help.” Like, “Well, what are you worried about, is there a problem? I didn't know that I had a problem. You're telling me I have a problem? Oh, my goodness. Tell me about it.” It just got to be real.

 

Gessie joked that he thinks the robots are going to take over everything. But the interesting thing and again, take it for what it's worth. He’s a software guy; he’s into all of this kind of stuff. But what he sees is there's some really cool stuff about pipeline management, sentiment analysis. And so, sentiment analysis, basically, people these days use the term A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) pretty fast and loose.

 

Really what we're talking about is robust algorithms that weight certain pieces of data heavier than others. And as they see success, it just learns to focus on weight on those things differently. And so, one of those things that we're going to start seeing in sales tools is because you have a tool like OnCourse, for example, shameless plug in. So, you have a tool that's going to capture all of your action. So it's going to see that you had these meetings with them.

 

Then it's going to see the notes of how you responded, of your summaries of those meetings. It's going to see how many calls that you made with them. It's going to see how many emails it took before it goes. And then anyone who's ever used a CRM tool knows that, when you get an opportunity, you have like a percentage of closes. You're like, “I'm 80% confident that this deal is going to win.” Well, they're going to stop doing that.

 

And the computer's going to start telling us, “Hey, this guy is 70% of the way there. You need to focus on him.” And they're going to start being able to collectively look at what they're doing and use it as a guide. And that guide's going to be like, “Okay, this is what has been working for this type of customer.” And he doesn't want to get crazy because there's nothing that's ever going to be better than the personal connection of a sale.

 

There's a couple of things that happen when you talk to a salesperson. And the first thing is,

“Can I trust this guy?” You've got to be trustworthy and you've got to be relatively friendly. It's like,

“Can I trust this guy? And do I want to talk to him for the next year of this business?”

 

And so, there's going to be a lot of credibility about your reputation and how you hold yourself. And all of that is extremely important but we can use it as an assist to that to be like, there's a certain amount of work that he’s going to do in every single prospect in order to get them to a place that they're going to buy. And the challenging thing for salespeople right now, he comes from a whole family, they're just all people who just talk and sell stuff all day.

 

So, his father was a sales rep/entrepreneur. His father was a sales rep for Dupont back in the day. So, when he tells them that computers would be taking over sales, like, “How dare you? You don't know what it was like.” Yeah. Because when his father and grandfather sold, most consumers were getting their information from the sales rep, they didn't really know about this stuff.

 

Now, he’s got customers telling him about new competitors he has. And so, the buyers are extremely smart and so we have to kind of pivot our game to make sure that, like, okay, well, they're smarter than ever before. They're getting way further into the buying process than ever before by the time we're interacting with them.

 

And so, being able to track and just know some of the necessary things, the boxes we're going to have to check in order to get this person to actually buy is going to be critically helpful and he thinks technology is going to help a lot with that.

 

Me: I agree that the average consumer now is way more informed than they were before. And traditional marketing, at least for me personally, I don't think it's as effective as word of mouth. Like hearing feedback from somebody who had the experience and it was really good for them. I'm more likely to consider buying from that company or that person if somebody I trust and somebody I know and somebody I value their opinion gives me feedback on their experience versus an ad that I saw on TV or some YouTube thing that popped up while I was watching a video. Because at the end of the day, I just find that it's just annoying.

 

Gessie shared that first of all, it's certainly annoying. But secondly, they have a rule, and that is if 30% of their leads are not coming from referrals, then they have a service quality problem. So, that's what they kind of use as their measuring stick to make sure quality in service is good. Because to your point, you have to be having people refer your service and business to people. And if you're not seeing at least 30% of that new inbound leads coming from them, then there's work to do, there's improvement to be had there.

 

Gessie jokes that he doesn't even know if he is. Mentioning that we have a pandemic, he wasn't doing a great job go into the gym when the gym was open and now they’re closed and they're starting to get back. And things aren't even going great there now either.

 

But in all seriousness, it is one of those things where you have to be doing something that you can see yourself gaining ground. So, the fun thing for them in software is when you launch a new product, he thinks this goes for any service. So, you start your service and then you realize you have all of these problems with your service that you didn't even know about, you have all this stuff to solve and then you just start solving for them and then it starts getting a little bit better.

 

And then that part gets a little bit better and then, “Oh, big oopsie. Yeah, we'll fix that.” and then we fix that, then that gets a little bit better. And you're seeing that progress and being able to see how things are coming along. That's probably the most exciting thing that kind of gets you going in the morning, that and fairly highly caffeinated coffee.

 

Gessie shared that in the spirit of being generous, he would say that, yes, OnCourse Sales Engagement Platform is necessary to all of your businesses and you should sign up right away. But also that he actually love Calendly. Calendly is very effective and it just cuts through a lot of the stuff when it comes to scheduling meeting and stuff. So, that's a really cool thing to have but then again, he thinks it is important to have all your communication tools in one place, and that's why they created the tool.

 

Me: I use Calendly as well when I started this podcast, it was four years ago. I can't believe it's been all that time. And it really makes it easier for scheduling, especially for people who are in different time zones across the world. So, it sinks their calendars to the time on dates and everything and then it sinks mine and it's just brilliant and it just works really, really wonderfully. The automation makes your life so much easier with that one little link that you sent to them and they choose their time on date.

 

Gessie shared that he’s not going to say that he’s the biggest reader on Earth. He tends to start lots of books, finishing them is a different challenge altogether. But one of the ones that he actually had to because he had took a business class in college and they made them read it, but it ended up being like really practical advice was, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey.

 

And so, they actually had to do that and by chapter level and then maybe it was like osmosis, but some of it just kind of got grained in his system. And so, especially like one of the fundamental things and this is something that has served him really well throughout his entire career. It's such a little tiny thing, but it's, it says, “If the task is less than two minutes, just do it right away.”

 

And just taking that is good; if it's more than that, plan it. Because time management for him has always just been a disaster, because he tries to schedule things and then like he has great hopes and desires to the schedule, he’s going to keep and then 3 things happen and the entire thing falls apart. And so, it is a constant struggle for him to figure out, like, he can plan a schedule like a champion.

 

Living to a schedule is a whole other burden. And his approach, if you have something instantly get it taken care of, it's going to take less than 2 minutes, more than that, plan it. You’ll have these windows of times you could do things made him much more productive than he probably would have been without that advice.

 

Gessie shared that they are working on a brand new social media management tool, that's really cool. Basically allows you to just kind of look for articles that will post amongst all of your social media. It's not coming up for a while. So, probably like the next two months or so. But that's something really fun that they're working on that he’s pretty excited about just because again and all roads go to laziness, he can't be just focusing on every single social media, he needs one place and then just let it take care of the rest.

 

That and then, they do have a pretty robust product roadmap at OnCourse and so in addition to the functionality, like they're baking in that sentiment analysis type stuff, branching and sequencing and a lot more that they're doing around automation, that he thinks is going to be pretty cool. And they're taking a couple of, not very traditional views about gauging productivity in sales. And so, he thinks it's going to be interesting to see how it plays out.

 

Me: So our listeners listened to this podcast. They said to themselves, this guy is really cool, he's awesome, he's fun, I really enjoyed the conversation. And I'm thinking of connecting with him because I want to learn more about CRM and sales engagement and how to leverage sales through automation. I want to really be connected with what he's doing and how that can help my business and my own personal growth as a sales person or even as a business person in my business or a business I work for or for someone.

 

  • Gessie shared listeners can find him at –

www.tryoncourse.com

Twitter - @TheRealGessie

 

When asked if there’s a quote or saying that helps him refocus, Gessie shared that every single morning, he had two parents, his mom and his dad. His mom would come in, wake him up for school the morning. She would turn on the little light, the little light next to your bed, “Gessie, it's time to wake up,” trying to get going. His dad, a different approach, came in every morning, turned on the big light, which was very jarring, not a comfortable way to wake up. And then he would say, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Don't waste it.” And then he'd go out. That is the signature quote for him by far.

 

Me: Okay. I'm sure it's fully ingrained in the deepest part of your long term memory to never, ever forget.

 

Gessie mentioned, and if you’re a parent, turn on the little light, the big light’s very abrasive.

 

Me: When you said that I thought of my daughter when I go in her room and I turn on a big light and she's like, “Mom!” I know exactly what you mean.

 

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Links

 

 

Do you want to pivot your online customer experience and build loyalty - get a copy of “The ABC’s of a Fantastic Customer Experience.”

 

The ABC's of a Fantastic Customer Experience provides 26 easy to follow steps and techniques that helps your business to achieve success and build brand loyalty.

This Guide to Limitless, Happy and Loyal Customers will help you to strengthen your service delivery, enhance your knowledge and appreciation of the customer experience and provide tips and practical strategies that you can start implementing immediately!

This book will develop your customer service skills and sharpen your attention to detail when serving others.

Master your customer experience and develop those knock your socks off techniques that will lead to lifetime customers. Your customers will only want to work with your business and it will be your brand differentiator. It will lead to recruiters to seek you out by providing practical examples on how to deliver a winning customer service experience!

 

 

Jun 2, 2020

Eric Prugh oversees product, design and solutions engineering at PactSafe. PactSafe is a SaaS company that securely powers clickwrap agreements & eSignatures for businesses like Dell, Wayfair, Door Dash, Extra Space Storage, Upwork, HomeAdvisor, and more. Prior to his current rule, Eric spent 7 years at ExactTarget and Salesforce in enterprise pre-sales as well as the product organization. He is a proud Purdue grad and lives in Meridian-Kessler with his wife Liz, their 2 daughters and 2 dogs.

 

Questions

  • Could you share with us a little bit about your background, how it is that you got into product design and solutions engineering?
  • Share with us a little bit about PactSafe. How does it help to basically envelop the customer experience for your clients and of course, meet the user experience better for their customers?
  • In terms of customer experience and its level of priority for your organization and even you, just as a consumer, you know what the importance of it for you as an individual. How do you think it has changed in the last maybe 3 to 5 years? And do you foresee greater change in that spectrum over the next 3 to 5 years?
  • How do you stay motivated everyday?
  • Could you share with us maybe one online resource, tool, website or app that you absolutely can't live without in your business?
  • Could you think of maybe one or two books that have had the biggest impact on you?
  • Can you share with us what's one thing that's going on in your life right now - either something that you're really excited about, something that you're probably either working on to develop yourself or your people?
  • Where can listeners find you online?
  • Is there's a quote or saying that during times of adversity or challenging, they would revert to these particular quote or saying to help them navigate through those rough waters or those rough times to kind of get them refocused. Do you have one of those?

Highlights

Eric shared that he has been writing code and working and design since he was 13 years old. So, it's really kind of a nerd early on and he has always been fascinated with the power of technology and the power of the internet.

 

And so, at a pretty early age when he was 16, 17 years old, he decided it was something he was really passionate about pursuing both in his college degree and his career and so he went to school for that type of stuff, web development, graphic design, became a developer out of school and just realized he’s not a very good developer and didn't have the level of detail, the attention span for it.

 

He certainly has a massive respect for software engineers and engineers of all types because it requires a ton of hard work and got into consulting. And that's when he moved into software as a service and found a really interesting consulting job at a company called ExactTarget based in Indianapolis. And that took him on an amazing journey around the world and a big acquisition by Salesforce and got to join the product team from there.

 

And the reason he joined the product team is that he became fascinated with the problems that a single cloud based product could solve for such a myriad of people and how a lot of different companies can make products their own and solve their own specific problems that ultimately become broadly applicable problems for many companies, whether it's within the same vertical or within the same size of organization.

 

And so, he really just became enamoured with building products that solve problems for people. When he was in sales engineering, it was all about being the catalysts to solve the problem, being the person that was helping customers realize the value of the product.

 

And then he really got excited about how can he build products that are going to enable people to solve problems at a little bit higher level. So, that's how he moved into it. And then obviously the opportunity impacts that came along. One of his really good friends of a very long time had this amazing idea. He was a lawyer and he (Eric) had a lot of experience in SaaS. And so it's really a very good combination of skills, complimentary set of skills that they were able to come together and start the business and certainly been a roller coaster since.

 

Eric shared that PactSafe has a little bit of a unique perspective and when we talk about contracts and accepting contracts, generally, you're thinking about a very arduous, multi-step approval workflow, trying to get a contract signed or a contract logged or you're managing contracts for vendors. They've really created a very disruptive product that is designed from the very beginning to serve all the companies that have to do contracts at a massive scale. So, if you think about Wayfair, who is an amazing customer of theirs, doing amazing things in the market, they've completely disrupted the way people buy furniture.

 

They don't talk to their customers and have each of them go through a contract workflow to sign something. You're going through an e-commerce flow, you're buying furniture, you're buying a really nice light fixture or whatever for your home.

 

The contract is just a seamless part of the experience of checking out and Amazon, Facebook, early tech companies really pioneered that as a legally enforceable way to enter into a contract with customers. But legal teams at these big companies that were doing business in this way didn't have a way to manage the terms that were being presented to ultimately present those contracts as part of the customer experience.

 

And there were technology teams that were designing these experiences without really knowing what's the right, legal, best practice for doing so. And so, it creates all sorts of issues in the process and the bigger the company, the bigger the problem.

 

And so, that's really where the business came from in the initial problem that they solved. But what they found is that they became consultants for how a lot of larger, more don't want to say old school, but businesses that had done business in a more traditional way. They had salespeople going door to door, calling on businesses. They were doing larger contracts. Now that everything is moving online, software as a service has really kind of pioneered the way people expect to buy; e-commerce has changed the way people expect to buy.

 

And so, you have companies like Dell that are trying to figure out how best to implement the right customer experiences for doing more business, doing it faster, helping to recognize revenue for their business faster.

 

But then they have an army of lawyers that are concerned about doing business in this way because there still needs to be contracts as part of a workflow where customer engages. So, they really bring those two people together, the product person that's designing the experience and the legal person that's ensuring the right level of compliance is there. And they allow them to work in harmony and design the best experience and not worry about all the legal controls or compliance measures because they offer that out of the box.

 

And so, the product is great, it does amazing things. But, it's their people, it's their team that's helping working with these big companies to navigate how best to do these experiences in a way that everybody benefits, the customer, the end user, and the business.

 

Me: So basically, your integrated platform with a lot of these large organizations that require these contracts from a legal perspective makes the process that much easier for the end user.

 

Eric shared that you see in the largest businesses in quarterly earnings calls and annual reports in the last 3 or 5 years, you've started to see this transition of what CEOs are talking about.

 

Customer experience has always been important, but now it's talking about introducing new ways of doing business, new business models, companies are talking about. You've got Cisco, who's a huge business that's traditionally been selling hardware for networking and routers and all that sort of stuff.

 

They're trying to move towards more of a digital model where they're buying companies like Duo Security that are primarily SaaS and they're trying to bake that into their overall go to market strategy. So you're seeing a lot of big companies trying to lean into the subscription model. And companies like Zuora have been evangelizing that transition for quite some time but you're really starting to see it from even the world's biggest companies. And he thinks a lot of that centers around the way people expect to access the products that they buy, whether it's B2B or B2C.

 

They wrote a big e-book on how a lot of these big companies are trying to transition to self-service and one of the interesting stats from a future commerce report was that “72% of buyers now want self-service access to their accounts, to their orders, to their transaction history and even the ability to buy products online and that's at the enterprise or B2B level.”

 

And he thinks it's a big thing that's driving that is, as a consumer, you can do so much from your phone. Even in the last 3 to 5 months, like, wow, he really doesn't need to go to a grocery store, he doesn't need to go anywhere, really. He doesn't have to go anywhere because there's so much at his fingertips on his phone to be able to get delivered to his door, whether it's alcohol, groceries, you name it.

 

And so, that shift is like the second a B2B buyer wants to engage, a B2B brand, usually there's a gated form where they have to talk to somebody and it feels so heavy. And he thinks in the next 3 to 5 years, you're going to see a lot of companies and it's already starting. A lot of SaaS companies are moving towards self service, enabling their customers to find what they need to buy online.

 

They're being more transparent in how they're pricing going to market. You're seeing a lot of B2C companies that have traditionally done business through grocery stores, through Wal-Mart. Even PepsiCo, for example, is a great example. They just recently announced they're launching all these direct consumer sites for all their brands where people can go and order products online. And Pepsi is able this to start a direct relationship with their customer as opposed to having to work through the grocery stores of a Wal-Mart or Costco or whoever.

 

So, the whole business model is shifting, whether it's offering more subscription based products, if you've been a traditional, more on premise or hardware type company. And then you've got these direct consumer brands or these big B2C brands moving into a direct consumer model.

 

And you've seen a lot of companies like Warby Parker and you got like Casper, you got Harry's Razors. There are all sorts of companies that have established that that's a great way to do business. And primarily serving the customer directly online, being great, easy to do business with and even offering a subscription type model is a great way to go to market and people love buying in that way, reducing his upfront cost, make it something that's recurring and then add recurring value over time through a great customer experience.

 

Me: Your phone is definitely a very powerful device. I totally agree. I mean, I've seen so many changes, as you indicated, just from this pandemic. It's actually forced a lot of businesses to do things that maybe they may have had on their radar before, but they've definitely bumped it up as priority because of the time that we're going through.

 

When asked how he stays motivated, Eric shared that it depends on the day; it's definitely had its challenges. He has 2 very young kids and which has been so amazing in some aspects and so challenging in others. He thinks what has helped him to stay motivated is laser focus on priority and ultimately trying to keep his own sanity by starting his week, he just started a process where on Sunday he’s making his to do list for the week. He’s not doing it on Monday morning, that way on Monday morning he’s just going through and starting to execute on what he needs to get done for the week.

 

He hasn't hit a week yet where he’s actually gotten everything done, he’s always too ambitious, so, a good way to stay motivated, you knock out your to do list and you check everything off the list, that feels awesome. But he also thinks for him, it's about being realistic and honest with himself and okay with the fact that he’s not going to get everything done, there are going to be some things that don't move quite as fast as he'd like.

 

But ultimately, it's about managing, trying to manage what he can control and ultimately holding everybody on the team accountable and in a very similar way and understand that we all need time to go and hang out with our kids and know that ultimately there are people in our lives that we're doing this for. Whether it's a spouse, partner, family, friends, what have you, that's helped kind of bring him back to normal when things do get a little out of control.

 

But really, one thing he’s most excited about is the speed at which things are happening in all markets right now, it's a pretty inspiring kind of action, amount of action being driven in healthcare, in manufacturing, in all sorts of fields and industries that have needed that, whether it's digital transformation, whether it's innovation, whether it's collaboration around the world on a cure, on a vaccine, it's really been amazing to watch and he tries to balance the news that he intake with that sort of mentality and information and news stories, as well as like trying to stay up to date on the data on what's happening. What a long winded answer to your question.

 

Me: That's okay, it would be of great influence as a representation because people deal with things in different ways. And it's a question that we ask all our guests. It's interesting to see how different people stay motivated because what may work for you may not work for someone else, so at some point, I'm sure that maybe a blended approach or a little bit of this or a little bit of that will work for some of our audience that is listening to the different episodes. So, we are grateful for all that you shared.

 

Eric shared that they have a couple online resources. One thing that has helped him stay sane is he uses an email app called Superhuman, which he knows is an up and coming solution or product. It basically just helps people maintain their inbox and state inbox zero, it's amazing. It has a lot of keyboard shortcuts and stuff like that that helps you pound through email, which is super important to him because obviously it's more important than ever to stay on top of things, but not letting email be a huge distraction.

 

They also use Quip to help collaborate and not the toothbrush. It is actually a product by Salesforce. It's a great collaboration tool that their whole team has access to and you can build spreadsheets and kind of manage projects and collaborate really well and all that sort of stuff. So, that's been really great.

 

And then other tools that have been immensely helpful to him, they also use a project management tool for both their product design and development and his entire product and design teams use it. It's called Clubhouse and it's great for just managing, knocking out reporting on tasks across the team, so he’s not having to constantly hammer people with questions about what they're doing, it just gives me really good visibility and gives the whole team visibility into what people are working on, how we're tracking towards goals and all that sort of stuff.

 

Me: So, the clubhouse is very much like a productivity app as well for you to ensure that people are actually doing work.

 

Eric shared that he tries not to read too many startup kind of books, but there's a book he read right as they're starting the business, there are two books he read that he really liked.

 

One, for those considering starting a business, there's a book by a guy named Peter Thiel. If you've seen Silicon Valley, he's represented as Peter Gregory on the show. And he wrote a book called Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future, which is an amazing book. A lot of people probably talked about this, but it talks a lot about how to build a big business when you're considering starting a company, how to think about the market, how best to carve out your niche in the space, how to expand all that sort of stuff. It's really good. Peter Thiel, he's a little bit controversial, the character but it's good.

 

And then he also read The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz, which is a really good one and definitely in times like this has been very good to go back to and really kind of think about how to work through tough times, which we've been very fortunate right now.

 

But certainly it hasn’t been easy. He’s reading a book right now called Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture by David Kushner. It's about the guys who created IDSoftware, which is the firm that actually created the game Doom. So it's about their story and it's super interesting and kind of a nice, crazy story, but lots of cautionary tales about building a business the right and wrong way. That's for sure.

 

Me: Storytelling and experiences is so important because a lot of us learn from other people's stories and their own experiences.

 

Eric shared that one thing they're really excited about at PactSafe that they're working on as a team is one of the things that has been not a challenge, but really trying to carve out a space is the combination of building a new product and having to explain and educate people on it, as well as really quantifying what the market is? How big is it? What types of customers can they serve? What's the story? That's challenging when you're really building something new.

 

There's no competitive set for what they do, which is a good and bad thing at times because you're not coming up against people that have bought this type of product before. So, they need help understanding how to buy it, what the value is, all that sort of stuff. They've recently partnered with a third party research firm that's going to help them kind of understand and carve out what the space looks like for them and  engaging analysts or research firms like this is a big bet.

 

It's a long, expensive endeavor to kind of help understand how best to build the company and product that's going to be unique and build a new market and help establish where they fit and all that sort of stuff. But overall, the prospects have been really good and he thinks for them, it's giving them a good perspective at a high level on how to think about their role in the customer experience, which is a huge part of what they do.

 

But they haven't done the best job of capturing the highest level of value for what they do. And then secondly, what the space really looks like. So, they've been working in startup world, you kind of work hyper focus at a very low level for what your product can do, because they don't have 5 or 10 years of research and development of a bunch of engineers building this thing out. They've got a limited set of engineers that have been hard at work for 5 years.

 

They have been very in the weeds on the problems that they solve and what these analyst firms help with. And for those that don't know Aragon Research, Forrester,Gartner. These types of firms, you're trying to look at high level macro trends and understand what's happening and what markets exist and what people are trying to do. They're really helpful in shaping what's really happening and articulating it in a clear way that speaks to the real trends in the market.

 

And so, he doesn’t advise it for everybody, but he thinks for people that have similar problems as them, they believe it's going to be transformational. So, super excited about the opportunity and it's something that his whole team is helping them sort out all the way from the CEO down to some of the product marketing folks on his team who are hard at work trying to cast the vision, if you will.

 

Me: Data is king, so the more capitalized you can get on your data to understand specifically what the pain points of your customer avatar is then I'm sure you'll be able to add value to those people if you get extremely granular about it, so the research approach is definitely an excellent technique to get specific on it.

 

  • Eric shared listeners can find him at –

            Twitter – @eprugh

            LinkedIn –Eric Prugh

 

When asked about a quote or saying that helps him refocus, Eric shared that as product person, he has always subscribed to Henry Ford's quote of, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.” Because you take customer feedback on how you're building your product or your experience as a very key, important input and data point as you build out your company and product. But ultimately, as the business owner, entrepreneur, you've got all this experience and tribal knowledge and vision for where things could go. And you've been thinking about it every day, 10 times more than any of your customers really would. So ultimately, he has learned a lot by relying on that quote over the years.

Links

 

Do you want to pivot your online customer experience and build loyalty - get a copy of “The ABC’s of a Fantastic Customer Experience.”

 

The ABC's of a Fantastic Customer Experience provides 26 easy to follow steps and techniques that helps your business to achieve success and build brand loyalty.

This Guide to Limitless, Happy and Loyal Customers will help you to strengthen your service delivery, enhance your knowledge and appreciation of the customer experience and provide tips and practical strategies that you can start implementing immediately!

This book will develop your customer service skills and sharpen your attention to detail when serving others.

Master your customer experience and develop those knock your socks off techniques that will lead to lifetime customers. Your customers will only want to work with your business and it will be your brand differentiator. It will lead to recruiters to seek you out by providing practical examples on how to deliver a winning customer service experience!

 

Listen to past episodes of Navigating the Customer Experience | Join Our Mailing List for future articles, podcasts and videos on Customer Experience

 

May 26, 2020

Matt DiMaria is the president and CEO of VHT, vendors of the callback software category, serving 280 of the largest brands in the world. Last year, VHT served over 225 million callbacks to consumers from brands such as Bank of America, AT&T, United Healthcare, Comcast and many others. Matt specializes in developing high performance teams in consumer and enterprise software - having contributed to creation of over $2 billion in value to shareholders, employees and investors.

 

Questions

 

  • Could you share with us a little bit about your journey, how it is that you got into this callback service, a little history, and also why it is that it led you on this particular path?
  • Could you share with us some of the other things that VHT offers? I know we spoke about a callback service. Is there any other part of the technology that allows companies to really delve into satisfying their customers in a better way?
  • You've been in the customer experience arena for many, many years. How do you see customer experience changing over the next 5 years, especially in light of the fact that we've all been forced to have to make adjustments to how we deliver service to our customers because of this pandemic that we're experiencing globally. Do you see that transitioning the landscape of customer experience as we move forward?
  • Could you share with us how do you stay motivated every day?
  • What's the one online resource, tool, website or app that you absolutely can't live without in your business?
  • Could you share with us some of the books, maybe one or two that have had the biggest impact on you, whether it was a recent read or maybe something you read a very long time ago that stays with you to this day?
  • Could you share with us what's one thing that's going on in your life right now that you're really excited about - either something that you're working on to develop yourself or your people?
  • Where can listeners find you online?
  • Could you share with us one quote or saying that during times of adversity or challenge, you tend to revert to this quote because it kind of helps to refocus you and kind of just get you back on that path.

 

Highlights

 

Matt shared that the journey to be VHT for me started in 2017, partnered with a wonderful group of investors in the San Francisco Bay Area, a firm called Alpina Investors and they partnered with the goal of looking for businesses that really capitalized on two trends that they thought were important. One is the increasingly critical role that artificial intelligence automation would play for delivering customer success information.

 

So, whether that would be for, let's say, product level requests, people are gathering information and making a purchase decision or break fix type of requests where individuals are calling in because they're having difficulty working with a product or service and need the help from a brand to accomplish that. And our sort of underlying assumption was in this increasingly complex, multi-device world, consumers will have greater need for services but there's a finite capacity of skills and knowledge to service that demand.

 

And it turned out VHT really capitalized on both of those trends. What callback software ultimately is all about, particularly for these very, very large brands like Bank of America, or a big airline or consumer brand is they deal with a tremendously high volume of calls that are coming into a contact centre, but they have finite agent capacity to serve those requests.

 

And anytime there's a gap or a breakdown in that, we all experience that as hold time and probably one of the very few universal negative experiences that we have when we're trying to get help from a brand is more waiting on hold.

 

So what VHT does is takes that time and transfers it to when the consumer is available and an agent is ready to talk to that customer and because they do that at such a large scale, it ends up being something that creates a lot of brand loyalty. So, it drives up net promoter scores and customer engagement, but it also saves the brand an awful lot of money, because instead of having staff for situations where they have peak demand at all times, what they can do is staff to a more sustained level and then make that capacity available to meet the customers when they're available to serve them.

 

So, they saw that as a wonderful opportunity. And about a year and a half ago, about 18 months ago, they acquired a virtual hold and since that time, they've been investing to advance that into a similarity that he’s I'm happy to talk about.

 

I asked what does VHT stand for? As it wasn’t on the website. Is it Virtual Hold Technology?

 

Matt stated that that's exactly right. The company was founded 25 years ago by a brilliant entrepreneur named Mark Williams, the original name of the company was Virtual Hold Technology and as the name implies, it's really all about callback.

 

Me:Great, so this software, I think, is brilliant. I don't know if you service organizations in Jamaica but if you don't, I think there is a great opportunity here. So, I host my website with GoDaddy and I've been having a lot of challenges upgrading my website in the last few weeks in relation to my developer and having it migrated and there's just a lot of issues and so I have to be calling GoDaddy quite often, of course, with Coronavirus, they've had an exceedingly large volume of calls and they have the option.

 

First of all, they advise you of how long the wait time will be and they’ll say like 20 or 25 minutes. And then they say, “If you'd like for us to call you back in 20 or 25 minutes, we can give you back a call.”

 

And of course, because they have my number in their system already, it's just a matter of me stating my name after they've put on a beep and it's been brilliant, it works wonderfully, I don't need to sit on hold and they call me back and when they do call me back, I'm not waiting for more than about maybe 20 seconds before the call actually is transferred to a live human being. So, I must commend you. I think it's a brilliant software, and I think every business should implement it, especially if they're experiencing, as you said, a large volume of calls.

 

Matt agreed and stated that there's no question and the experience that you're having, of course, is something that's familiar to us all at the moment because of the COVID-19 virus and they've (VHT) been very active in adjusting their business model and their offerings to support companies that are experiencing a lot of strain as a result of COVID-19.

 

They launched a program several weeks ago now, about a little over a month ago called the Virtual Hold COVID Assistance Program and the goal is to make not just their callback capabilities, but their automation capabilities, their messaging capabilities that are newer, coming from the company available to businesses or even local government organizations that are suddenly finding themselves, for example, not being able to be in their office and consumers or tax holders or people seeking information about the virus and so forth, calling into their local offices trying to get answers to questions and they're just not equipped to operate.

 

And so, they've been delighted to work with some local governments, some healthcare providers and others to provide their capabilities at no cost for 30 days, which, as we all know in the early stages of the virus outbreak, was quite critical. And now what they're finding with their customer base businesses that they've been doing business with for quite a long time, they're also helping them make longer term plans because, thankfully, the virus will not last forever and as they begin to normalize their businesses, they're able to help them deliver consistent service levels even as the staffing is a little bit uncertain, unfortunately.

 

Matt shared that their vision for their company is to enable people to get the help they need for brands they love on terms that they choose. And callback is, of course, very illustrative of that. But as they thought about that vision, they also looked at not just where the market has been, but where the future is. And they arrived at a focus on the mobile device as the primary device in which almost all of us now are using to make inquiries to brands, to make phone calls, but also, of course, it's our primary communication tool to interact with each other.

 

And in the context of a person to person interaction, we're messaging with friends or communicating with friends, that's not just a voice experience anymore. In fact, overwhelmingly, people are preferring even for the initial contact with a friend to be through an SMS perhaps interaction or through a mobile messaging application of some sort.

 

And then, maybe you ask, “Hey, are you available to talk on the phone right now or would you be available later?” So, the ability to move from a messaging interaction to a voice interaction is something that we all just take for granted because we're all equipped with a smartphone.

 

So, what they see going forward is that's how every major brand is going to have to interact with their customers.

 

So, they developed a new platform that they call Mindful and what Mindful does is delivers as a SAAS offering, a way for large brands to interact with their customers in the manner in which they prefer so they could start, for example, with a SMS interaction asking for information about a product or service or how particular solution needs to be implemented or checking on a reservation, checking in on a bank balance, could be anything. And to enable that to be initiated in either a voice call or through a messaging interaction and then for the brand to interact with them as though they were a friend, so be able to maintain the session information over time, because as we all know, you bring up your friends messaging session and you can see the whole conversation history, the consumer can see the whole conversation history.

 

So, they want to do the exact same thing for large brands to enable them to interact with their customers and preserve all that conversation history so there's always context on the history of the relationship, perhaps the evolution of a problem and things of that sort. And that's what they're delivering on the Mindful platform, is a complete toolset, if you will, to make interacting with a large brand, just like interacting with your best friend.

 

Me: So it's almost like the WhatsApp version of a company experience?

 

Matt agreed. He shared what’s difficult of course, is to do that at scale. So, as he mentioned, if you're a large airline or a large bank where you have bag of millions and millions of consumers that you're interacting with, you end up with a very unique set of challenges, hopefully, as he mentioned, we're back to more normal situations where maybe there's a power outage in a particular area or perhaps, a hurricane if you're in Jamaica, you're familiar with the weather being very disruptive. And the airlines need to be able to adjust to changing conditions, but yet deliver consistent service and if you're operating multiple contact centers or things of that sort.

 

Sometimes the contact center is going off line and you need to shift some of that demand to a contact center that's currently available. So, that's where they feel like they can bring just a lot of value is when these problems are really on a large scale, spanning millions of consumers and make sure it's a great experience for the company and also a very significant financial benefit, because, as he mentioned earlier, they're able to maintain a more steady staffing level, even though demand might be very dynamic.

 

Me: Mindful platform and we can access that through your website, www.vhtcx.com allows for this seamless transition across talk and text. Does it provide analytics as well?

 

Matt shared that the other real key pieces, there's really two other real key elements. First is automation's, because as you move between different channels and different sessions and so forth, there's an opportunity to gain efficiencies by applying bots and artificial intelligence and automation really weaves together the transitions between a voice interaction that could be with a live agent to a bot, to an A.I. service.

 

And so, automation is one piece of it but as you mentioned, all of this needs to make sense from a business standpoint in terms of ensuring that service levels are being monitored and maintained, being able to look at what the different queue conditions are and the relative performance of how the cues are responding to what customer demand is. Obviously, there's cost associated with that. So, the analytics gives them the ability to work with their customers to ensure that they're not just delivering a great consumer experience, but that also it's making financial sense and business sense as well.

 

Matt shared that he thinks that we are all being conditioned into a new set of expectations as a result of mobile devices. And we take it now as second nature that we have this very powerful supercomputer we carry with us. And it's connected up to a global network that is able to provide services and data on demand.

 

And what we believe is that the sort of traditional contact center that was really designed around when telephones were something that were attached to a wall with a cable and that the customer's experience expectations are dramatically different.

 

And the technology to service them, therefore, must also reflect that evolution. So, first and foremost is authentication and really that speaks to in order for a brand to be able to meet the customer's needs, they need to know who you are and so there's tremendous work going on to dramatically simplify authentication, whether that's an app or through a messaging interaction or voice interaction. And the challenge there, of course, is it needs to be as frictionless as possible but at the same time, protect the private information, enable sensitive information such as, if it's health care data or financial data to be exchanged in it as frictionless a manner as possible.

 

The second piece is, as he mentioned, how the customer wishes to be served. So, once he knows who you are, then he can start understanding how best to serve you. So, for a younger demographic, let's say they may never want to talk on the phone at all, they may want to conduct all their business through a digital interaction, whether that's an SMS, an in app experience or a digital experience on the company's website. So, being able to have that preference understood as early in the experience with the customer as possible so that it can be delivered appropriately.

 

And then, of course, it extends out into multiple devices and especially as we look at Alexa and other smart devices that are increasingly capable of native voice interactions with no human involvement. That's going to be a very important area of evolution and how we expect to be served. We want to be able to ask questions and get answers pretty instantaneously and so that is going to involve the voice assistant technology, again, complemented with A.I. and automation to really make that a seamless and delightful experience for their consumers.

 

But in the end, they also believe that agents will continue to play a vital role because just the nature of complex interactions with customers or particular, it may be that the customer prefers ultimately to talk to a human being, if that involves, let's say, retirement planning or vacation plan and things of that sort where you might need human expertise or human judgment on how to resolve a particular issue or answer a particular question. So, they see that the agent continuing to play a vitally important role or maybe more a general is a subject matter expert to continue to play a very vital role in delivering great customer experiences for the foreseeable future.

 

I agreed and stated, I think technology is awesome, it really has made things simpler and I love that word that you use frictionless or effortless. Less effort we customers have to invest in anything that we're doing makes our life that much easier. But I still do believe that people still crave at some point some human interaction because the reality is, when you call a company or you're trying to reach out to them, you're really only reaching out for two reasons, to make a request or to make a complaint.

 

And so, if it's a complaining issue or even if it's a request, I'm thinking you want some form of immediate feedback. I mean, one of my pain points, since Coronavirus is, a lot of local organizations in Jamaica have taken up WhatsApp as a method of communication with their channels but they're not responsive. You’ll send a WhatsApp message at 9:00 am in the morning and nobody responds to you until 3:00 pm in the afternoon, had I wanted to wait 6 hours for response, I probably wouldn't have contacted you.

 

Matt mentioned that that's wonderful example of when we think about customer experience. Ultimately, we are emotional beings. And so, something that makes him happy and feel good when he interact with a brand is really what the brands need to aspire to deliver to their customers. And so, if he’s disappointing the customer and the callback world, if they say that your phone is going to ring in 20 minutes and there's going to be an agent on the phone, you expect as a consumer for your phone to ring in 20 minutes and there to be an agent on the phone. And so, that's an example in the callback domain.

 

In the WhatsApp example or other digital examples, he thinks we all have experienced automations that fall well short of what his expectations are, because they're very task specific, they're perhaps very repetitive or the information that he’s providing them never makes it to a human agent that by the time he’s talking to an agent, he has to reintroduce himself, re-explain the problem and all these sorts of things. So, the ability to apply the appropriate amount of automation to make it very easy to onboard, very easy to initiate contact with the brand but ultimately, as you experienced it, you need to think it all the way through to, “Why did this individual contact me and am I resolving that in a timely and delightful manner?”

 

And so that's not easy for brands to do because you're experiencing it right now. Obviously, those organizations would love to deliver a great experience but it does involve really thinking through completely what the end to end experience is going to be that you serve to the customer and that's really where they focus a lot of their energy is delivering a great customer outcome. So, that's the key to the whole thing, it’s not the technology, it's that ultimately that emotional, you smile at the end of the interaction and all too often we don't experience that very often in interacting with brands.

 

When asked how does he stay motivated, Matt shared that in a very direct sense, he thinks every day is a gift and he heard a quote a long time ago that really stayed with him, which is that, “Each moment and each breath is a new beginning.” And he thinks it's very easy for people to get distracted by maybe what happened yesterday or what might happen in the future but he's certainly really taken a lot of motivation from just looking at the opportunities that you have. Even solving problems today is delivering a lot of value and one of the real things they're privileged with at VHT is they get to do their job still, even though their company is remote, unlike so many people that are suffering and being dislocated and so forth. So, getting motivated is not a challenge at all. They're getting up every day and they know they're helping millions of people get answers to questions and he finds that personally to be very motivating.

 

Matt shared that for operating their business right now, they're heavy users of the Zoom platform for video and collaboration but a close second behind that is Slack. And so, those are the two tools they've been leveraging very heavily internally for their internal communications and for the customer communications, because most of their customers are large companies, those tend to be whatever the tools are that the customer prefers for them to use to interact with them and their brands. But within their business, they're leaning very heavily these days on both Zoom and Slack.

 

When asked about books that have has the biggest impact, Matt shared that the one that was from a long time ago that made a big impression on him is called The Executive in Action : Three Drucker Management Books on What To Do and How To Do It by Peter Drucker. It's actually three books in one. If you study management thinking for any period of time, ultimately, whether it's somebody that just published a book last week or somebody published a book 10 years ago, they all go back to Peter Drucker and it's a common point of origin. He's a very forward thinking man and did an incredible volume of work so that is the first one from long ago. More recently, his wife gave him as a present at Christmas time, turned out to be very timely that's Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. Marcus Aurelius was one of the Roman emperors, first part of the new millennium and he was a philosopher and stoic philosophy and that really focuses on being in the moment. And that's the short version of he’s new to stoic philosophy so he will not attempt to over explain what it is, but it really is all about making sure that you're staying in the moment and trying to serve good always. If you're in the moment and you're trying to serve a good purpose, then generally speaking, you’re on the right track.

 

I mentioned that it's funny you said that because it dovetails nicely into this new principle that many organizations and their leaders are embracing, which is mindfulness. And it also matches back with the name of your new platform, mindful. So, what I'm getting is it's being present in all of those moments that you are sharing with each and every one of those customers in order to build stronger relationships.

 

Matt agreed and stated that it is coincidental that the Marcus Aurelius practice and stoicism really is about mindfulness. And he thinks their brand, they thought very deeply about it that wasn't something that they came up with because they thought it was a catchy name.

 

They wanted to convey what their intent is, and they felt that mindful really conveyed their intent; the reason why they get up every day is, as he mentioned earlier, to service that vision of enabling people to get the help they need from brands they love on terms they choose. And for them, that really meant that you approach people in a thoughtful way, in a sensitive way as to what their preferences are. And, of course, there's the connotation around artificial intelligence and some of the other things that ultimately can be brought to bear on delivering great customer experience.

And so, when they first came upon the idea of branding their new offering, Mindful, they got really excited about it very quickly. So, it's Mindful by VHT.

 

Matt shared that one of the things they adopted after the Coronavirus hit is they do a call every single day, they call it coffee tea time and it's completely voluntary for their employees to come to that. And it was intended to be, as the name implies, just a place to come and relax. When people are working from home, it's easy to get lonely. We're all human beings and social animals.

 

So they thought it’s a nice place to gather but what's sort of come out of that for them is they also saw that as a place to bring motivation and light and encouragement to people. And one of the things that they hold as one of their core values is that they are pursuing things with a sense of passion and purpose, that's an individual expression. And so, what they're doing now is something he has gotten directly involved with is they are reaching out to people to join them during their coffee time that they'd be motivating to hear from. That would bring light and sort of insight, of course, things that are relevant in the world that we work in, but also relevant in terms of people that have really lived their passion in life.

 

So they're actively inviting people to come in. It's similar to what they're doing right now, have a 10 or 15 minute conversation and then invite the employees to ask questions and just have a discussion. So, they're bringing people from across the industry and people that they've met over the years that they think would be of interest to the team, to commence on. He’s very excited about that and he doesn't think they'll do it five days a week, but he thinks they will do it one or two days a week. They'll have an outside guest come in and join them. So he’s very excited about that.

 

I asked, so have you started as yet or is it something that's ongoing?

 

Matt shared that he just confirmed his first 2 guests. So, now they're getting more nominations from some employees on people that would be fun to have come. And so he’s excited about inviting them.

 

  • Matt shared listeners can find him at –

Facebook – @vhtcx

LinkedIn – VHT

Twitter - @vhtcx

YouTube - VHT

Website – www.vhtcx.com

 

Matt mentioned that first and foremost, he would love you to follow their company, he monitors that quite closely. So, if you have questions or areas of interest, please like them on those platforms or join them on those forums. And he'd love to talk with you there.

 

  • When asked about a quote or saying that helps him refocus, Matt shared that he’s going to quote that ancient philosopher Yoda, “There is no try. There is only do or do not.”

Links

 

Do you want to pivot your online customer experience and build loyalty - get a copy of “The ABC’s of a Fantastic Customer Experience.”

 

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This Guide to Limitless, Happy and Loyal Customers will help you to strengthen your service delivery, enhance your knowledge and appreciation of the customer experience and provide tips and practical strategies that you can start implementing immediately!

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Listen to past episodes of Navigating the Customer Experience | Join Our Mailing List for future articles, podcasts and videos on Customer Experience

 

May 19, 2020

Dr. Nima Rahmany, DC, CCWP is both a Chiropractor and an educator, specializing in helping individuals and professionals get to the ROOT CAUSE of their physical and emotional challenges, from stressed, depressed,  and anxious to living powerfully aligned and on purpose.

After building a successful Chiropractic practice in Maple Ridge, BC, Dr. Nima sold his clinic in June 2016 to pursue his passion for teaching and coaching professionals who are stressed, depressed, and anxious to transform and have their best year ever – in both a private and corporate setting.

Questions

  • Could you share with us a little bit about your journey, how it is that you got to where you are today?
  • For those of our listeners that are listening, whether they're business owners or they are employees of an organization, could you give them maybe two or three tips that will help them to become more grounded and present in those types of conversations?
  • How do you stay motivated every day?
  • Could you share with us what's the one online resource, tool, website or app that you absolutely cannot live without in your business?
  • What are some books that have had the biggest impact on you?
  • Can you share with us what's one thing that's going on in your life right now that you're really excited about - either something that you're working on to develop yourself or your people?
  • If our listeners listen to you today and there is one takeaway that you could advise them to take from this interview, this engagement, this conversation that we're having to make them stronger individually or to make them stronger as a leader or even as an employee in their organization. What would that one thing be?
  • Where can our listeners find you online?
  • Could you share with us maybe a quote or saying that during times of adversity or challenge, you would rely on this quote or you would say it to yourself or you would remind yourself of this to kind of be refocused and just get back on track.

Highlights

  • Nima shared that he is a chiropractor. He was 13 years old when he had his first chiropractic adjustment and he got up off the table and he was like, “This is it. This is it. The end all and be all of healing.”

He knew he wanted to be a doctor helping people. He thought that by adjusting the spine, getting to the root cause of the problem rather than just masking the problem with pills was the way to go.

And what he didn't realize was that 10 years, 15 years into the process of being in practice, realizing that people were coming in really with stress related disorders, and if you really get to know them, they're usually on the wake of some sort of a identity crisis, relationship crisis. Those are real stress related issues, are crises, these spiritual work-related relationship crises, limbo, infidelity, breakdowns, divorce, old traumas that we've been holding on to based on relationship crises.

When he started to understand that these were the patterns that were bringing people in to see him, his ego was not satisfied. He wanted to go deeper.

So he started creating these three hour workshops called Life Skills for a Stressful World for his patients, they are on Saturday mornings and he would notice that the patients that would come in to those events would have better outcomes because they took responsibility, they understood how to listen to the messages of their body.

And slowly but surely, it became more fun for him to teach those classes than it was to come and deal with the end stages of stress. So, fast forward 10 years, now he leads a global community of self healers, teaching them tools and skills to heal themselves from their old conditioning patterns and heal their attachment wounds.

Yanique asked, can you tell me how you think that connects on an individual level, if it is that you are healed and you are functioning at your fullest capacity,if it is that you're feeling pain or discomfort and you're not healed, how does that translate into someone's customer experience?

Dr. Nima shared that creating an amazing customer experience is all about Empathy. It's all about being able to get yourself out of your own victim's story and empathize 100% with the customer.

And so, if you have chronically self abandoned, if you have a pattern in your life where you've had trauma and when you have trauma, you self abandon.

What happens when you have a customer experience that's not a fulfilling one and you have someone that's really having a difficult time and you are working with somebody who's triggered in front of you.

You will go into the pattern of self abandonment again and create an exorbitant amount of stress rather than being able to contain your own emotions and hold your own ground internally, set your own boundaries internally, you'll become enmeshed with that other person.

Their emotions will become your emotions if you haven't done the inner work, that's it a very subtle but key component of creating a great customer experience is not enmeshing yourself with the other person's emotions.

Yanique mentioned emotional management, managing your emotions. It's funny you mentioned emotions, because in our customer service training, our definition of a quality experience is meeting and exceeding the emotional and intellectual needs of the customer. And over the years, we found that the emotional is actually even greater than the intellectual.

Dr. Nima agreed. The thing is that the rarest experience for a human being is to feel seen and heard. The rarest experience. So if he’s talking with Yanique, and he’s able to see and hear and empathize with himself first, he knows exactly who he is and he’s grounded in his roots.

Then he’s able to then come from a place of overflow and now meet what your needs are. Because he’s already so firmly grounded in himself that he can then empathize with you. He can see you and hear you. He can see the commitment behind the words you're using. He’s paying attention. He’s present with you.

He’s listening to the non-verbal cues that you're giving him, the tone of your voice. He can listen from a place of genuine curiosity rather than from a place of I hope this person likes me. So there's a difference. It's a felt sense difference. If he’s speaking to you and he’s genuinely looking after you versus, “Okay, so I hope I don't get into trouble. I hope you don't report me.” There's a completely different feel that he’s on a call with you, it's a presence, that's different, that's palpable.

  • Nima shared that the first thing is being grounded and connected with your breath and your body and sensation is the first thing, because what's going to happen is when you are on a call and there's a customer who is irate, who's going to have a bad day or maybe just yelling and screaming or whatever that's going on. If you haven't really properly healed from your traumas, what you're probably going to hear is your mother screaming at you or it's going to sound like your father, your body is going to go into this state of alarm and you're going go into story and you're going to turn into that five year old, you're going to turn into that 10 year old who is getting screamed at by mom or dad. And so the first step is to get into the awareness, getting into breath and getting into body right away, because what happens is you dissociate and you go back. It's as though you're experiencing that trauma all over again. It's not back then anymore, it's happening in the now in your nervous system. It's a felt sense. So, you have to really be aware of that. The first thing you want to do is to get right into breath, get into body and just feel the sensations coming up, touching your hand over your chest and really just repeating the words, “Those are their feelings, these are my feelings.” really separating your own self from that other person to prevent enmeshment. That's really the first thing that you want to do. You want to start and realize that their frustration is coming from a wound. So the best thing that you can do for yourself is to see through their wounding is to see through it because that'll help you not taking it personally and be able to be responsible rather than reactive.

Number two is to listen to them through their wounding, see a child inside of them that doesn't feel seen and heard. If you look at them through the lens of a wound, then it's not as threatening.

You’re looking at them as a child having a tantrum instead of a real threat to you. So if you see through them, see through whatever, if it's a difficult conversation, see through their challenge, see through their words as a wounded child that doesn't feel seen and heard.

You can help them tremendously, feel, seen and heard, repeating back, empathizing with them, repeating the sensations, repeating like it's tactical empathy. “Well, it sounds to me like you're feeling so-and-so. It seems like you're feeling so-and-so.”Seeing them through the lens of their wound is the assure fire way to drop the whole personal-ness of the interaction and feel like it's a lot more, it's less personal and you can actually be of service to that person.

First, you have resourced yourself, you put the oxygen mask on yourself first and you take care of you and once you've done that and you acknowledge yourself and you've done that you then turn in and acknowledge them and realize the rarest experience for a human is to feel seen and heard. So, if you're able to just see them and hear them and empathize with them that is the greatest regulation for your nervous system that you can do.

Number three basically is after you've done that, you then approach it with curiosity. The third step is with curiosity. “So I'm curious, what would work out best for you? Let's see how we can make this work.” Once you've empathize with them, you've now helped regulate their nervous system, you turn to curiosity. I wonder what would happen if, I wonder if, just approaching it with a playful curiosity, guaranteed you'll come up with a solution.

So there you have it, folks. If you are struggling and you want these three tips, these you can implement with immediate effect heard and live on direct here on Navigating the Customer Experience from Dr. Nima, getting into breath and body, feeling the sensations. Listening to the other person through their woundings, seeing their words, tactical empathy, and then approaching with playful curiosity. What would work best for you?

  • When asked how he stays motivated, Dr. Nima shared that he has a mission statement that every client that he works with, they create a personal and business mission statement thathelps you stand for something greater than yourself. So, if you're connected to a Why that's big enough and connect with it every day, then you don't need motivation, you're actually inspired. So, the best way to stay motivated is to listen to content that's inspiring and be connected to a mission that's greater than yourself.

Dr. Nima shared that his biggest Why really is he stands for healed families. The work that he does help breaking the cycles of intergenerational trauma. We grow up in environments with families where our parents didn't really have understanding of the nervous system and the importance of emotional attunement.

So, often our primary caregivers didn't really know how to meet our emotional needs for feeling seen and heard. So we then start to replay these attachment wounds from our primary caregivers in our relationships, and we get married with these unhealed attachment wounds, replaying all of the same kind of cycles and complexes that we lived in childhood, you marry your mother, you marry your father, and you don't really realize it.

And that creates this toxic environment which then creates intergenerational trauma that children experience the exact same thing. And it just gets passed down from one generation to another. And families get divided and broken down and then that destroys people's health and well-being. And then we have a health care system that's in crisis but if we just go upstream and start to do our healing work of healing our attachment wounds and then healing those open loops in family dynamics, huge shifts can happen. So, he stands for healed families.

When asked about an online tool that he can’t live without in his business, Dr. Nima shared that in his business, it would be Audible. He listens to audio books every single day. Your business is going to only grow to the degree that you grow, it's a personal development benchmark and so the more you develop yourself, the more your business will develop.

Nima shared that the biggest impact for sure has been the book The Miracle Morning: The 6 Habits That Will Transform Your Life Before 8 AM by Hal Elrod and it just how to really structure your day and make sure that you do all of your morning and evening rituals to structure your day, it's been a hugely impactful book.

 

Nima shared that it’s both; it's kind of going through him. He just got married a month ago and they're about to have a baby in October. And so, making sure that there's that feeling of safety and connection and secure attachment at home so that the baby feels safe in an environment where there's love and presence and attunement. And he’s just really delighted to be able to share that and start helping others create secure attachments at home as well.

 

Nima shared that that one thing would be to heal your attachment wounds. Just go and take whatever that you have been resenting, your greatest resentment that you feel wounded by and find a completion with it, get complete with that. That's really the greatest gift that you can give. The greatest gift that you can give your child is a fully healed parent. Imagine growing up in an environment where if your parents did the healing work themselves, their inner work. How would that have changed your experience if your parents had that opportunity to heal their attachment wounds?

Yanique agreed that they would definitely make a great improvement because we are parents and unfortunately, there is no book that you're given when you become a parent that pretty much gives you a play by play of what to do and when to do it. And of course, yes, every child is different. And I'm sure you’ll come to realize that when you become a parent yourself. I struggle daily. I have a 14 year old and Lord knows there are times when I have to myself find a book that kind of helps me to navigate as to what do I do when she's at this troublesome teenage time in her life when she's clearly trying to find herself. But then maybe I'm not the one that she really wants to talk to. How do I make myself more accessible to that?

Dr. Nima mentioned that he has an answer for that one. What you do in those situations, is whatever's coming up for you instead of trying to help her, what you do is you go inside. You’ve got to understand, is she's here to teach you just as much as you're here to teach her. So, whatever she's bringing up for you, a disconnection that she's experiencing is a mirror for your own disconnection. And if you go back, there's a tool that he has come up with called the overview method, which helps you go back to your wounding that her issue is bringing up in you and you get complete with that. He puts that in his workshop, it's called How to Connect to a Disconnected Child or Teen and it helps you connect with the 14 year old inside of you and empathize with that part of you and once you've done that, the answer basically takes care of itself, it's pretty magical.

  • Nima shared listeners can find him at –

Facebook Group - Triggerproof (Join Dr. Nima’s Facebook Group as he covers content on how to regulate stress and strengthen immunity during this global crisis – he posts daily)

Website –www.drnima.com

Dr. Nima is offering his virtual workshop for FREE to all listeners of this podcast –www.drnima.com/vw1 PROMO CODE: triggerproof (all one word lower case no spaces) Complimentary 90 minute workshop on how to become trigger proof

  • Nima shared that his saying/quote that he relies on during times of adversity, it is from his friend, Dr. Russell Kennedy, “Am I safe in this moment?” It's kind of introspection. It's a really good one and then you just acknowledge because it's only in your mind that you're not safe usually.

Links

Do you want to pivot your online customer experience and build loyalty - get a copy of “The ABC’s of a Fantastic Customer Experience.”

The ABC's of a Fantastic Customer Experience provides 26 easy to follow steps and techniques that helps your business to achieve success and build brand loyalty.

This Guide to Limitless, Happy and Loyal Customers will help you to strengthen your service delivery, enhance your knowledge and appreciation of the customer experience and provide tips and practical strategies that you can start implementing immediately!

This book will develop your customer service skills and sharpen your attention to detail when serving others.

Master your customer experience and develop those knock your socks off techniques that will lead to lifetime customers. Your customers will only want to work with your business and it will be your brand differentiator. It will lead to recruiters to seek you out by providing practical examples on how to deliver a winning customer service experience!

Join Our Mailing List for future articles, podcasts and videos on Customer Experience

 

May 15, 2020

Welcome to Navigating the Customer Experience Podcast, in today’s episode I will share some great thoughts that I have been having. It’s so unfortunate that all across the globe, we are all having to deal with this pandemic but what is interesting is I have been doing a lot of reading and doing a lot of research and I have really been seeing a lot of organizations pivoting their business in the whole thrust of trying to survive and thrive during this pandemic. I would like to share some thoughts I have put together regarding how it is that you can navigate your online customer experience.

With the advent of COVID-19, the online customer experience is fast becoming the new benchmark for which customers measure the level of service a company offers. In a practical way, the online customer experience may in some instances replace the face to face customer interaction especially for those business places that officially had to be closed. Companies, entrepreneurs or solopreneurs must revisit their avenues of customer interactions including their website, social media pages and other platforms and ensure the user experience isone which creates a favourable response for their customers.

The customer online engagement has skyrocketed in every part of the world as we continue to experience quarantine and restrictions in our movement. This means ensuring that every channel available for customer engagement must be functional. Now is a great time for businesses to do an audit of all of their service channels including online solutions and make sure everything is working well. The audit process may reveal functional or integration issues on your website. Websites along with social media platforms that are not optimized will require the necessary adjustments to be made.

Your customers want to receive fast, reliable, efficient service even though they are under quarantine. I have seen a few local companies here in Jamaica adding WhatsApp as a channel for placing orders, however, the most important step to apply is to ensure the channel is monitored. I sent a WhatsApp a few weeks ago for a prescription to be filled at around 10:35 am for a close friend of mine and the message was received and read, however, no one responded to the message to confirm receipt or even to advise if we’ll be able to pick up until 2:30 pm! Ensuring that you assign a dedicated person to monitor these channels if they are to be included as part of the online sales channel and customer experience is critical. The best category of WhatsApp that you should be using as a business is WhatsApp for Business and there are some features that this particular platform facilitates:

 

  • It allows you to broadcast messages for up to 256 contacts
  • It’s automated communications allows you to provide greeting messages, away messages or even quick repliesfor example: If the customer sends you a message, they could get an automated response that says, “We’ll get back in touch with you within 24 hours” or “We’re closed and will open back at x time” | Quick Replies allows you to respond with a pre-written message to the customer
  • WhatsApp Business App can also act as a CRM (Customer Relationship Management). Basically, WhatsApp can provide that as a tool for your business. The ‘labels’ feature in WhatsApp for Business allows you to tag contacts just like in a CRM application. You can add ‘labels’ to the customers that are frequently contacted or add the label during the messaging process. Once you tag the customer with a label, you will be able to create groups and create broadcasts based on labels you have assigned.

WhatsApp for Business is a great tool to employ in your business if that’s something you’re not currently using but most importantly, you must have a designated person who is going to monitor that channel.

Another big thing that you should think about is, Is your website customer friendly and easy to use? If not, now is the time to revisit and review the content being shown. Think about your website as your physical store. The customer must have the ability to not only window shop, but should also be able to make a purchase through your website. The information and content provided must be clear about what you offer and how they can access it. A customer will visit your site and see many things happening all at once. Your website page layouts, font choice, images, the content, and the purchase power (where applicable) influences whether customers will decide to make a purchase.

Recently, I had to insure my motor vehicle because the insurance expired and I visited the website of my insurance company. It seemed that they allowed third party bank transfers, however, the participating banks were only three (3). Their option for credit card payment was only available via a third party payment agency which would mean that I would have to sign up for an account with them. After exhausting all research online for my options for payment, I decided to visit the location in person. After completing the payment, I asked the Customer Service Representative why their company wasn't listed on the platform for all banks and of course she was unable to answer. You need to be aware of how accessible your services are to your customers especially during this time when we all have to reduce our face to face interactions with each other.

Another not so great example I had was with my bank. I visited their website to see what options they had available for credit card payments during this time. I wanted to get immediate feedback and so I opted to click on their button for Live Chat. However, after sending my question and being assigned a representative and their name was even provided, no one responded after thirteen (13) minutes of waiting. So, I’ve signed on onto this Live Chat, I’ve seen that Colleen is the representative that’s assigned to the conversation, sitting, waiting, waiting, waiting, 13 minutes elapsed and I’m just like this is clearly not working. Businesses must ensure that features including Live Chat are being actively managed by someone to respond quickly to any customers’ query or concern. An automated estimated response time should also be given to customers who are using your Live Chat communication. This ensures that expectation in terms of wait time is provided up front. Additionally, functionality in the form of clickable buttons on your website should be tested to ensure that they are actually working.

Another great area for improvement that you should look to improve is doing an audit of your Social Media brand. Review the platforms that you are present on - Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest. According to Statista there are 2.4 Billion active users on Facebook as at December 2019, YouTube has 2 Billion active users, Instagram has 1 Billion active users, Twitter has 330 Million active users, LinkedIn has 303 Million active users. Your customers are hanging out now more than ever on these platforms either for recreation, entertainment, browsing or for their own businesses. If your opening hours have been adjusted or you now offer delivery or curbside pickup or you have a Sales Offer, this type of information needs to be updated on your social media platforms because this is where the customers are spending most of their time.

Recently, I noticed that it is easier to visit a business’ Instagram page to confirm whether their restaurant or business is open and their adjusted opening hours. Google shows their opening hours as normal as if there were no changes to the opening hours which is rather misleading. Let’s say for example the business is normally open from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm but because of COVID-19, their business hours have been adjusted to 8:30 am to 1:00 pm, because they haven’t updated their Google business account then Google is still demonstrating their regular opening hours as if business is still operating as usual. So basically you need to visit your Google Business account and ensure that whatever adjustments you’ve made base on information that you’ve put out to the public it is consistent across all platforms. So if I type in your name in Google and it comes up, your adjusted opening hours should be there clear and visible. There are applications that can also provide a seamless integration to make the update a one time process.

Since this pandemic, I have seen customers really being more expressive on social media platforms about their shortcomings, issues and challenges with various companies. I urge you to ensure that when your customer makes a negative post on any of your social profiles, please do not delete it. Deleting the comment does not remove their experience, it does not help the situation. Every device has the brilliant capability of taking a screenshot and yes you have deleted it but it does not mean it is gone. Please prepare acommunication response plan that you can use to respond to these comments, you must show some form of empathy in the form of an apology, kind words and of course some action as to what are the next steps the customers can actually take. You should also try to migrate the conversation off of the public platform and re-direct the customer to a direct message (DM) or telephone call them to have the issue resolved or explained. You can say something like “We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this delay may have caused, we will be sending you a direct message to see how best we can resolve the matter.”“What does this show?”It shows your customers who view the comments that you are human and you are willing to fix an issue rather than just delete it.

Another grave mistake many companies make is remaining silent when negative comments are being hurled all over their page/profile. Please note that remaining silent does not help either because it sends a message that you don’t care. If the customer was standing directly in front of you, would you ignore them, would you remain silent while they’re complaining? So why would you choose that approach online? Be compassionate and show your customers that you value them and their business. When this pandemic is over, the companies that will thrive are the ones who showed compassion, empathy and care when their customers needed it the most.

Take Aways from this conversation:

  • Audit all your online platforms and ensure they are functioning at full capacity
  • Be responsive on all platforms. This can be done by yourself or having a dedicated set of persons who have direct responsibility for responding. Remember when you are online the general expectation from a customer is an instant response
  • Create a communication response plan for when things go wrong with the service experience because they will go wrong at some point. Life isn’t perfect and things will go wrong. You must know what you are going to say and do and so should the members of your team
  • Ensure your online experience is effortless and your customer is not confused by how to navigate your website in order to get the delivery or the request processed
  • Focus more on your social media engagement and build your community - engaging on social media is a fantastic way to keep your brand top of mind all while delivering value to your customers
  • Reassure and Inform Your Customers - the most important part of navigating the online customer experience is keeping your customers informed of adjusted opening hours, updates to any delivery policies or a new way to reach Customer Service. It is important that your customer feels connected and they know exactly what is going on

Do you want to pivot your online customer experience and build loyalty - get a copy of “The ABC’s of a Fantastic Customer Experience.”

The ABC's of a Fantastic Customer Experience provides 26 easy to follow steps and techniques that helps your business to achieve success and build brand loyalty.

This Guide to Limitless, Happy and Loyal Customers will help you to strengthen your service delivery, enhance your knowledge and appreciation of the customer experience and provide tips and practical strategies that you can start implementing immediately!

This book will develop your customer service skills and sharpen your attention to detail when serving others.

Master your customer experience and develop those knock your socks off techniques that will lead to lifetime customers. Your customers will only want to work with your business and it will be your brand differentiator. It will lead to recruiters to seek you out by providing practical examples on how to deliver a winning customer service experience!

Listen to past episodes of Navigating the Customer Experience | Join Our Mailing List for future articles, podcasts and videos on Customer Experience

Please share any steps, practices or ways that you have pivoted and enhanced your customer experience since COVID-19

 

Mar 3, 2020

David Wachs is a serial entrepreneur and his latest venture, handwrytten, is bringing back the lost art of letter writing through scalable, robot-based solutions that write your notes in pen. Developed as a platform, Handwrytten lets you send notes from your CRM system such as Salesforce, the website, apps or through custom integration. Used by major meal boxes, e-Commerce giants, nonprofits and professionals, Handwrytten is changing the way brands are connecting with people

Prior to his current initiatives, David founded Cellit, a mobile marketing platform and mobile agency. Under his leadership Cellit became a leading player in the mobile marketing space and invented the concept of mobile customer relationship management (Mobile CRM). Cellit developed one of the most robust and widely-used mobile marketing platforms in the world, delivering millions of SMS and MMS messages to consumers on a daily basis. With a marquee client roster, including Abercrombie and Fitch, Toys R Us, Sam's Club, Chicago Tribune, For Rent Media Solutions, Pizza Hut and more, Cellit was recognized as one of the top 500 fastest growing companies in America, as #262 on the Inc. 500 in 2010, delivered many award-winning mobile campaigns, and built one of the best teams in the mobile industry. Cellit was sold to HelloWord in January of 2012. 

Question

  • Could you share with us a little bit about your journey?
  • How has the experience been since you’ve launched Handwrytten? How successful has it been? What have your clients been saying? Has it really created a better client experience?
  • In terms of mentioning that it’s not as authentic, if you’re working with a brand, for example, do you get the actual handwriting of the CEO or the business executive that you are sending the note from and a robot is able to copy that person’s hand writing to the T?
  • What’s the one online resource, tool or website or app that you couldn’t live without?
  • Could you share with our listeners maybe one or two books that you’ve read either long time ago or recently that have had the biggest impact on you?
  • Could you tell us one thing that’s going on in your life right now that you’re really excited about – either something that you’re working on to develop yourself or your people?
  • Where can our listeners find your information online?
  • Do you have a quote or a saying that during times of adversity or challenge you tend to revert to it and it kind of helps you refocus?

Highlights

  • David shared that he went to school and university and tried to get a degree that would set him up to do entrepreneurship. So, he thought being an engineer would be a good way and being a software engineer would be better because then you don't have to have any hard capital expense of machinery and equipment to start a business, all you need is a laptop computer. So, he went to school for business and engineering, computer science engineering, and entered the workforce with a very boring job doing consulting for large brands, just basically market sizings and what he found to be rather dull stuff when he really wanted to start something. Did that for a few years, did investment banking and then he ended up at a venture capital firm in San Diego, which was an absolute disaster. He thought it'd be the best job ever, his boss, the partner of the company was a crazy man, he had David doing such fun tasks as organized his truck tires for his Mercedes G wagon and he had him clean out his closets and he spied on him. He actually set up a camera in a garden owl that he placed outside David’s office, so, it was just like this little plastic owl with a camera in it and one day he looked outside his office and he saw this camera and he almost threw it against the wall. But that job did not last long, he actually got fired, they blamed some stock transaction on him that he had absolutely nothing to do with, he had no idea what they were talking about, but they needed an excuse to blame somebody for this, they blamed it on the youngest guy in the office and he ended up back at square one. He didn't have a job; he didn't have any savings because he had spent all his money paying off school debt, he had quite a bit of school debt. So, instead of saving a little nest egg, he spent it all on school debt and did not plan for the future. So, he recommends to anybody out there while it's great to pay down school debt, always keep a little cushion on the side just in case. So, he moved home, he didn't know what to do, he moved back, he was still relatively young in his late twenties, moved back to Arizona where he grew up into an apartment that his father had and he kind of decided what the heck is going to be his next adventure. So, actually his father said, “Couldn't you do something with blackberries and barcodes to get information on houses?” And this was before the invention of the iPhone and he said to him, “You know, I don't know about blackberries and barcodes, but what about text messages? You could just text in for info on a house, get the information, and then the realtor could get a lead.” And so that is what he started, he sat at a computer for a year, came up with this thing called ‘House for Sell’ and then quickly pivoted House for Sell because he thought realtors were kind of a pain in the neck to deal with. So he created a second product under the Cellit banner called Coupons App and Coupons App was designed to be used by restaurants and bars to send out like drink alerts and happy hour specials and that type of thing. But it quickly got picked up by large brands like Abercrombie and Fitch and Toys R Us, that type of thing. So, that's kinda how it all happened. Other than taking a free place to live from his father, he didn't take any investment in that company, he ended up with a quarter of that company for a relatively small investment but it was the best investment he ever made and he’s happy that he was able to support him and the rest of his family with that. Sold that company, he did pretty well on that and what happened, fast forward 7 years when he sold that company, he realized that here we are in a day and age where everybody receives 300 emails a day, you receive something like not a 100 but 80 text messages a day, you get Slack messages and Twitter tweets and Facebook posts and everything just becomes noise. And he thought, with all the electronic communication out there and with traditional print media, junk mail, for lack of a better term; it all just gets thrown away. You realize when you receive a personalized email message from your sales rep at wherever, that it's not real, that it's just automatically generated, everything is fake and everything comes to you by the hundreds so none of it matters.

So, he thought, “Well, what matters?” And he was walking around his old Cellit and he realized that people saved and savored handwritten notes they received, not only did they read them, they kept them, they kept them on the back of their bookshelf, on their bookshelf in their office or they'd magnet them to their refrigerators at home and they were considered kind of a treasure. So, he thought being the lazy guy that he is, “How can I automate this?” Because every time he'd send a handwritten note or want to send a handwritten note, he'd go to the store and get a birthday card for a family member, he'd promised himself he'd send that birthday card and then he'd get caught up in things or not have a stamp or whatever and it just became this whole thing and then before you know it, there's a crumpled up birthday card sitting in his laptop bag, not being used and never would go out. So he thought, how can we automate this? And that's where Handwrytten came from. He wanted to create a company that made sending handwritten notes as easy as sending emails or SMS or Slack or everything else.

Yanique shared that it's very interesting, your search that you did in terms of people holding on to handwritten notes and not just reading them, but keeping them because here in Jamaica, even with my clients, I find out it means so much to people when they do receive, as you said, an actual handwritten note, it means that the person put intentional effort and thought into what they were doing and it wasn't just a generic thing that they sent out to the masses.

  • When asked about the experience with Handwrytten, David shared that it was slow to take off, when he started the company in 2014 it took two to three and a half years to really get going because there's nothing really like what they're offering out there. So, it's not just about somebody comparing their handwriting service to another handwriting company, there really aren't too many out there, so people don't even know it's an option. Now they're seeing a lot more interest in the service, they do about 120,000 notes a month currently and it's growing at about 300% a year, or at least it has been over the last few years, hopefully, the growth will continue. They do all these notes by using robots and they've got just shy of 90 robots currently and they build about three robots a week now using their own technology, which is wild and he can get into that. But as far as statistics, he has a lot and he can pull those up, but the average handwritten note, the open rate of handwritten notes is about three times what a print piece is. So, just by having a handwrittenenvelope, the open rates are much higher but beyond that, the read rate, redemption rates are all substantially higher than traditional print media and oftentimes electronic forms of promotion. So, for example, they work with a Bespoke clothing company that they'll make suits for you, they don't mention any of their client names, but it's a company where you can provide your measurements, they'll get a suit made up for you and they opened up a store, a series of stores recently, so they're not just online, but they were sending out a 700 gift card coupons to their best clients and they sent them using our service with a handwrytten envelope and a handwrytten note from the CEO and they had a 17% redemption rate in gift cards, in a 300% return on investment on the overall promotion. So, it was very successful for them. They've worked with them a few times and they're eager to work with us again. He stated that when Yanique kind of gave that very generous overview of him at the beginning, she mentioned that they work with meal boxes, they work with one meal box, and in the United States there are all these companies that will ship you the ingredients for a nice meal and then you put it together yourself, they work with several of these brands and one of them sent out a handwrytten note in every box welcoming new users to the meal box programme. They've done over 25,000 boxes with their notes in them and they see it improves customer retention by 10%, just having these little handwritten notes in the box. They work with Amazon brands that are selling products on Amazon, they find that it both increases good reviews on Amazon, which is what they're trying to do as well as reduce bad reviews because what they do is in the box of the Amazon product, they say, “If you're having a problem with this, please contact us directly. Don't just post a review on Amazon.” And they find that it drastically reduces, every time his clients include these with their boxes, they find that some of them are using it more to reduce bad reviews than increase good reviews basically. But the examples kind of go on and on. They work with realtors and it increases their return rate of their clients, mortgage brokers are the same thing, all the way up to major car manufacturers and Italian fashion brands. So, it's kind of universally applicable to anybody that thinks a handwritten note might improve their relationship with their customer.

Yanique shared that she imagine it's applicable to any form off literature or mail that you would send out, say for example, it's applicable to maybe a bill versus let's say a promotion versus, let's say just an information pamphlet. Can it be applicable in all areas?

David shared that they tend to focus on thank you notes and follow ups after purchases. Sending out blanket notes to mass groups can get quite expensive with handwritten notes because, if you think about it, a junk mail piece, when you print that, that's it. You just print the junk mail piece and it gets a pre sorted stamp on there and it's quite cheap, with Handwrytten, they start with that printing, so, if you take a junk mail piece, often it's printed on cheap stationery, they're going to need something printed on nice stationery with your logo so it looks like a true piece of stationary. So, that's cost number one. Then they're going to write on it and they’re handwriting machines are a little bit on the slow side, they only write about as fast as a human, but they don't stop and take coffee breaks and their handwriting never gets worse over time, so that's going to be much more costly than junk mail and unfortunately, there's not much they could do it about it. And then finally, they're inserting that in a real envelope, they're not just like folding it over and gluing it and printing their address on the back like you'd get with junk mail. And then the last step is they put a real stamp on it, it's not a metered mail stamp that you'd see on a piece of junk mail, it's a, a real forever stamp. Like a sticker you'd get in the States, it's real; it's that little sticker that you place on a package. So, the whole thing looks real but the problem, he would say the downside of it is going to be more expensive than a junk mail piece. However, you got to figure out what the right tool for the job is and he thinks in saying thanks or asking for a referral or asking for a review on Amazon or Yelp or whatever, you're going to want to do something that's kind of a bit more premium. And especially if your client base is a bit more premium, you might want to consider this. So, he’s not going to say they're right for everybody. They did do a huge mailer for a jewelry brand that was opening up a new location and they wanted to send a handwritten note to everybody in the general area and while it worked great, it is going to be much more costly. So that is one thing to consider.

Yanique shared that you’ve really master the science of ensuring that the quality is not watered down in maintaining consistency of the experience in ensuring that your clients have quality handwritten notes. I listened when you gave mention to the fact that the robots don't get tired or what time they don't take coffee breaks and the quality of their handwriting doesn't deteriorate over time, which with human beings it will because in thinking of myself when I'm writing, if I'm writing an excess over a period of time, if you look at the first page of what I wrote versus the third page, the handwriting does start to look a little different, the letters are not probably formed as neatly and written as cautiously as you had started out before. So that's a really, really good that you're able to maintain that consistency.

David shared that a lot of people, a lot of brands would love to send handwritten notes to everybody, real handwritten notes written and as nice handwriting as you have but it's just impossible and that's why the robots come in and is it the most authentic? It's a little bit not, and you're right, it's not totally authentic, but it's closer and it shows an additional level of thoughtfulness than laser printing something and sending it out the door. But most of their notes are rather short; they're 500 characters or less and that's a couple of reasons. Number one, for cost consideration, that's important. And then number two, they find that people don't want to read novels, they want to read a very short thank you note from you, thanking you for your business or providing you a coupon code or whatever. But they don't want to have to sit down and read, people's attention spans are really on the low end these days, so they just want to get right to the point and that's what they help them do.

  • David shared that they can handle CEO's handwriting, although most people opt for using one of their predesigned styles as they'd been put through the ringer. You can see all those handwriting styles at handwrytten.com/features. If you want to create your own handwriting style, they absolutely do that. It's a very involved process, they have you repeat the alphabet multiple times, like three to five times in both upper and lower case so that they could capture all the nuances and randomness of your writing because they're not creating one A or B or whatever, they create multiple versions so that your handwriting looks random or more random, imperfect. They also capture all the subtleties of all the ligature combinations. So, two Ts together, two Ls together, two Os. How does an A look at the beginning of the word versus the end of the word, double SS, any accents, smiley faces, if you use those or frowns or whatever, they can add all those to your handwriting along with a custom signature so that if you write your name differently then you would write any other word, they can capture that too. Alternatively, if you're looking to send the exact same note over and over, not personalized in any way, we can duplicate a note exactly. So, why would you want to do this?If you're doing an inbox, thank you, where you don't know the name of the person, but you want to provide a really organic looking handwritten note, they can do that by recreating your handwriting exactly. So, unlike turning your handwriting into a digital handwriting style and then you type in a message and they recreate that, now they're just duplicating your note exactly, and when they do that, they often include funny doodles or the note is really scrawly and kind of hard to read. However, you want that to look, they can do that as well.

 

  • In addition to handwriting, if you want to use their service, they do a gift card insertion, they do full fulfilment, and so, if you come out with a book and you want to send your book with a handwritten note to 500 people, they can do fulfilment. And business cards, so if you have business cards you want to include with every handwritten note, they do that too. So, really they're just trying to become you're a digital secretary for lack of a better term.

 

  • David shared that there are several online resources. They use Slack a lot, just to communicate with their office workers. They also communicate with their robots through Slack. So, the robots will actually let them know when they're low on ink or out of paper or jammed, this way there's not just beeping going off all over the office all the time, people get targeted alerts on their phone when things happen. They also use Help Scout to manage customer service requests; he thinks that's a phenomenal tool. If he had to pick one tool, however, he would have to say Zapier. They use Zapier for everything and Handwrytten is actually a zap as well. So, you can trigger handwritten notes from any zap action basically.

 

  • When asked about the books that have had the biggest impact, David shared that the one that stands out is absolutely the most impact is The E-Myth: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Micheal Gerber, it's an oldie but a goody, really talking about how a business owner should not be working in the business, but on the business, it's a simple idea with powerful ramifications. Another book isTraction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman, which is really talking about the entrepreneurship operating system of how to run a company; he’s reading that currently, that's quite good. When he picks books, he picks very nuts and bolts, not high level highfalutin ideas, he likes to really kind of get into the weeds. So, Traction has been a good book as well and Traction kind of takes you through building out your three year timeframe, your one year timeframe, your five year time frame, kind of the unique processes to your business. It helps you with hiring and helps you with meeting taking and how often you should take meetings, it's been a very interesting read.

 

  • David shared that in the short term they're rolling out a new website. He’s hoping it'll continue to make them look more and more professional, he thinks they do look professional currently, but their new website is super cool and he suggest to anybody look at handwrytten.com after March 1st. There's been a lot of love and care that has gone into that website and branding. As far as people go, Handwrytten is really kind of restructuring or continuing to build out and grow, they're kind of a six year old startup at this point and they're looking to hire more and more vertically focused salespeople. So, they just hired somebody in December to focus strictly on healthcare, they're now hiring people for the automotive vertical and some others as they just continue to grow. He loves that they've built this into a 25-26 person company and there's a lot of room there to create jobs. People say, “Aren't your robots taking away jobs?” Well, not at Handwrytten, at Handwrytten robots are creating jobs, so nobody here would have a job without these robots. So that's kind of fun. The technology is always very interesting here, they use 3D printers and laser cutters to build these things and it's just really cool to see how they can build them better, faster, cheaper while maintaining the quality of the end writing or improving the quality of the end writing. He does sometimes not take Michael Gerber's advice and he work in the business, he’s the guy that programs the robots and they're doing some stuff on a security, so God forbid somebody were to steal a robot, they're locking them down so they'd be useless. There's just little fun stuff like that whichappeals to his geeky side. But yeah, he would say that just that he’s excited to continue improving the brand of Handwrytten and also this fulfilment offering, build out their warehousing fulfilment capabilities so that if people want to have them ship products for them, they'recapable to do that.

 

  • David shared that listeners can find him at -

@DavidBWachs – Twitter

David Wachs – LinkedIn

www.handwrytten.com

 

  • David shared that when he was in college, going back over 20 years now, he had the fortune of going out to dinner. He used to be in a group that would bring speakers to campus and they brought all sorts of great celebrities and people to campus and when they do this, sometimes they'd have the opportunity to go out to dinner with them or speak with them one on one. And he had the opportunity to meet Conan O'Brien and you wouldn't think he has words of advice, but his words of advice to him was, “Always get in over your head.”And it's funny when he was on that Inc. 500 list back in 2012 or 2015, that was the quote he wanted to use, but a buddy of his also was on the Inc. 500 list with his company and he had told him that quote and he stole it from him or stole it from him who took it from Conan O'Brien. So, he thinks about that all the time, in tough times, always get in over your head. And it's not over, you don't lose until you quit in the business game, there's no end, like a ninth inning or whatever, it just doesn't just end like that. So, you only lose when you give up or quit or whatever. So, hang in there and always get in over your head.

Links

Jan 14, 2020

Allen T. Lamb believes he is fortunate to have developed a unique skill set and a differentiated perspective to-date within his role spanning media, tech, entertainment and sports as an operating executive, a growth-stage strategic investor, an M&A investment banker, a business intelligence researcher, and a multiple time-digital entrepreneur.

Allen has been a two-time entrepreneur, conceptualizing and launching two digital media platforms focused on enhancing engagement value for consumers and brands. His latest growth concept is Cheddah, a marketing intelligence and digital loyalty platform that delivers location-aware, cash-based incentives to users in exchange for responses to quick surveys from brands.

Allen earned an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management, where he concentrated in Entrepreneurship & Innovation as well as a Master's degree in Computer Science and a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University.

Questions

  • Could you share a little bit about your background and your journey? You have a lot of background in terms of your technology background, entrepreneurship, innovation and computer science as well as mechanical engineering. Just tell us a little bit about how you got to where you are today.
  • Before you even explain what Cheddah is, could you tell us what maybe drove you to choose to create a name as Cheddah, could maybe link the name to what the actual item or product is supposed to deliver to the consumer?
  • This particular platform, the feedback that you're generating can be utilized in any industry. It doesn't have to be only to food or the food service industry. Correct. It could be for your bank, it could be for your airline, it could be for your local hardware store?
  • Where do you see customer experience going in another 5 to 10 years based on what you've experienced in the first 20 years of the 21st century? Because we really have gone through a lot between 2000 and 2019.
  • Could you share with us how do you stay motivated every day?
  • Could you share with us what's the one online resource, tool, website or app that you absolutely cannot live without in your business?
  • Could you share also with us maybe one or two books that have had the biggest impact on you?
  • Could you share with us maybe one thing that's going on in your life right now that you are working on that you are really excited about - either something that you are working on to develop yourself or something that you are working on to develop your people?
  • Can you share with our listeners where they can find you online?

Highlights

 

  • Allen shared that he appreciated the mention of just how a diverse background and a trail that he has had till now. He had the fortune of studying engineering and computer science while in school and while he thought he would have become a full fledged engineer at one point in his life, in fact, he never stepped into the tech world; he ended up going into the financial services sector and remained there for quite some time. But fortunately, despite doing that, he was able to feed his hunger for entrepreneurship and really tapping into the origins of tech, data in particular that he had academically by starting a couple of businesses. He also, just by nature of the various sectors he was involved in, which included media, entertainment and sports. As he was an investment banker and a private equity professional, he was able to again, engage the consumer almost from a psychological standpoint as well as from just sheer movements around the world in their day to day lives. So, he has been quite fortunate in that, having an interest academically, along the way having started a couple of businesses and also being in financial services and engaging the narrative of consumer, he has been able to enjoy that core focus of his.

 

  • Allen stated that Cheddah interestingly is slang for cash money, in many, many circles. And in thinking about the consumer and what was missing in the consumer realm as it relates to gathering data and where we are in today's world in terms of surveys, one thing he thought was missing was an incentive, an incentive for the consumers that would drive them to action and want to continue to provide their own data, the personal data back to brands. And when you think about incentives, as he did some years ago, he thought, “What is the best incentive in the world for many people as they are moving about and it's really cash money.” So, what Cheddah represents is cash based incentives for this action of delivering data to brands.

When asked if it’s a mobile app – Allen shared that it is, it is a mobile first platform, although they exist across any window where a consumer might interface, which includes the web or even in person, via an iPad.

Yanique shared that it's a free mobile app that provides a fast way to earn real time cash based incentive by answering a quick set of survey questions, could take you up to 60 seconds from brands on your day to day thoughts and experiences. And so when this information is generated about the brand, who gets the information, does it come back to your organization and you push it to the brand? I mean, how does it work?

Allen shared that it does among a number of different ways. What happens is that as the consumer is presented with the survey, let's say for instance you were to walk into your local pizza shop, in fact, that's where Cheddah really began, it's a proof of concept. You would be presented with a survey that you can opt into, it's typically five to seven questions and in answering those questions which could be, are you male or female? So, a demographic information, do you enjoy these types of toppings on your pizza? So, very much brand-related in the moment. They capture those and then you were able to use your incentive on the spot. What happens to that data is that Cheddah collects that and feeds it back to the brands, so that's one stop. And what he'd like to highlight here is that Cheddah’s special sauce and they'll come to this in a few moments, is really around connecting answers as a consumer takes his or her journey along the way and in the case of the pizza shop, if you were to enjoy this particular pizza shop over and over again, no longer does Cheddah really need to engage you with the same questions, in fact, they'd be able to pick up from your prior sessions and continue the conversation.

 

Yanique mentioned that this a first of its kind, haven't heard of an app like this before. Do you have other persons that are in this space as well? Or are you pioneering this space currently?

Allen mentioned that he'd love to believe of them as being a pioneer in the space. What he has heard of are discrete platforms that either gathers information, believe that they are through this hot term today AI, connecting information to understanding the consumer. But his thesis in the space is a bit different and that is that the best way to understand what a consumer wants, what a person wants is to simply ask the question directly to that consumer or that person. He thinks we've lost our way at times in keeping it simple and that's what Cheddah represents.

  • Allen shared that that is correct and just to expand a bit; they really think one of the spaces where they can create the most value and generate the most value for brands is within the offline space and the sector that's really being hammered right now in terms of its forward narrative. But they believe there is tremendous value that remains buried and hidden in the offline sector and part of what Cheddah seeks to do is to release that for both brands and the consumer.

 

  • Allen mentioned that that's a wonderful question to ask here on the precipice of the next decade in 2020. If you think about the last 20 years is being learning what it is to interact digitally both with brands as we think about Amazon. He remembers as a college student using Amazon to buy his books, in fact, when it was a simple bookstore online and it’s from then into more of a social realm where we're able to interact person to person or person to community, all of that is great in terms of sharing our stories, photographs and other ways of expressing ourselves. What he believes the next 10 to 20 years holds is now that this information has been explored, communities have been built, what happens with your information? Does it in fact, physician to a currency? And we found brands more and more have begun to discuss what it means to define customer experience and consumer journey by way of that data. So, it's important for the consumer to know the worth of that data as well as to use it as they see fit. Another angle to come from here is the increased focus around regulatory matters as it relates to consumer information as well, and protections. We've seen the European Union move on that note; we're also seeing the state of California move in that note and he can only imagine that other States and governments around the world will begin to take notice and take action as well. So, these are the areas over the next decade where he believes we'll see an increased focus that is consumer protection as it relates to data but within that is a wealth of opportunity to begin to allow to build tools for consumers to use that data as a currency.

Yanique mentioned – So, we have a ways to go for sure, I guess linking the human experience with the digital experience and having it have a more coordinated approach where, cause at the end of the day, technology is wonderful, but I do think human beings still want to interface with another human being. Cause sometimes from an emotional perspective the artificial intelligence cannot translate the emotions fully a lot of times based on what the customer is experiencing. And if we go back to NPS, the net promoter score and we think about that question that people ask, that was derived by Fred Reichheld, “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this company to a family member or a friend?” It's totally subjective, really based on what you feel you got from that experience with the company and if you had a bad experience and you really care about your friends and family, which most people do, you won't recommend them to go on and have a similarly bad experience.

Allen agreed and stated that that's one area as well. They believe they're pioneering in that there is a difference in one's memory if you think about the experience you last had on a flight, let's say, versus being able to communicate to that brand in a moment. Now many would say, well, I would hop onto social and began to tweet about my experience. Well, that's a one way narrative versus having a conversation with the brand and that conversation would employ having the brand being able to do something about it for you in a moment. Just by way of another example and vignette here, what if you were to have some form of experience with a brand, hopefully for better, not for worse, we all know that it's typically in a negative experience that where you want to scream and say something that the brand do something for you in a cash based level as you are departing your flight, which could be to walk to a partnered, Kiosk Company, it could be within the airport or as you're on your way home, it could even be the next day, but fact of the matter is they were able to learn in the moment and then to incentivize you to remain loyal and that's where Cheddah is headed.

  • Allen stated that his passion point is absolutely around stories and if you were to look at his resume and then talk to him about what he has done over the course of his career, entrepreneurially or otherwise, it's really around helping to create these narratives and understand stories. Ultimately, we all know society rests on stories, he believes in fact, media as it relates to consumer is about remembering history in certain ways and understanding how we live today and hopefully also defining other future, so it's quite important. So, being able to express those stories is important, he thinks surveys are a wonderful way of having people share their experiences but with the layer of digital and now being brought into the mix and specifically mobile and being able to use location awareness, we have a richer experience as you mentioned before, that leaps over even AI because there is some human value, human component to being able to tell your own story and not simply having it become interpreted in one. One quick example of that, by the way, an earlier form of AI would be a brand saying, “Well, because Yanique reads this type of content or visited this type of place, or is from this area, we can make some educated guesses about her.” Well, in the end is simply an educated guess and just getting back to the thesis again, there's nothing like having a question asked to a person and having them share their answer.

Yanique agreed - because you can assume, and you may assume as you said, based on just basic information that you may have, but asking the question is where the real truth comes about.

Allen agreed and stated that he also thinks in addition to having the real truth come out, as stories go, remembering a story is important and that is typically called the conversation. Some conversations happen there in the moment, others happen over time but where brands are missing in today's environment, particularly in the offline space, is knowing when you come back, and this is typically the human element, let's say with a barista, you visit a coffee shop, they happen to know you come in at a certain time of the day, you enjoy your coffee in a certain way or tea, well if we were able to use technology to help enhance that for brands, imagine how much richer experiences are.

Yanique agreed. Even just remembering your name because I always use the Cheers theme song from the comedy, “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.” And I think if I had more experiences like that, I would definitely visit those places because then they were paying attention, they know me, and I'm not just another transaction or another receipt, but I'm Yanique and they remember me.

  • Allen shared that an online tool that he absolutely cannot live without, he would say that it is their database, if that counts as online, it's not consumer accessible, but they happen to be on the AWS platform, which many, many others are, so they absolutely can’t live without that as a business. Then personally if this is a consumer, anything that relates to brands that he loves and being able to interact with his information is of importance to him. He happens to do a lot of flying, so he enjoys a particular brand of airline and what he enjoys about that experience and their loyalty is that since they've known he travels to certain places around the world and they know the frequency that he travel, there are certain types of experiences and ways of incentivizing him that tend to appear in his feed versus another person's. So, he likes that and he also thinks as he thinks about that as with Cheddah, it's stepping outside of the sphere of that airline and beginning to understand that he is not simply a consumer who flies, he is a consumer who eats, he is a consumer who exercises and to the extent those brands can begin to speak with each other with me at the center, that's also another way of viewing Cheddah, they're really looking to create a mesh network of particularly offline brands as well as online brands who don't have an offline presence where they can look at the consumer as a single individual who happens to be multifaceted.

 

  • When asked about books that have had the biggest impact, Allen shared that one of the books that he has read recently, in fact, it's called Modern Monopolies: What It Takes to Dominate the 21st Century Economy by Nicholas Johnson and what's impacted him about that book the most is the clinical monopolies of today look very different than those of yesterday and when you had manufacturing plants popping up in communities to build whatever they were building, whether it be cars or ovens or whatever else was going into homes or into people's lives, today being able to build business digitally and at a very rapidly scaled basis looks very different than that world perhaps a 100 or 50 or even 20 years ago. So that's been impactful in thinking about how to both strategize with Cheddah as well as to think about the next 5 to 10 years as relates to what the world might look like in a world of Facebook or Google or Amazon. Allen mentioned that one other he'd love to share is Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull, that's the story of Disney and the various iterations that Disney took as a company and just thinking about how Walt Disney starting with very small efforts around a hand-drawn a mouse and being able to create that into the global brand that it is today. Lots of learnings on both the wins and the losses and he thinks it's the losses that are often important pertinent stories to understand those and he thought Creativity, Inc. did a wonderful job of sharing those and how it was in both describing the start of Disney as well as the multiple iterations of both executives, people and other companies have spun out from those people since its inception.

 

  • Allen shared that he has a wonderful passion for theatre and live performance, it is something that he spend resources toward and what he enjoy about live performance and theatre, it gets back to the core of what he mentioned here a bit earlier and that is about narrative and storytelling, it's sometime a lost art within our society and having grown up in New York and still a resident of New York, it's an arts town and he thinks that the current sets of generations who are walking around and coming of age, it's important for us to be able to share and engage in each other's stories. So, what he is working on, he has been a long time itching producer, so not that anything is in the works, but he’s always in touch with artists and screenplays and other playwrights who are looking to tell stories and the hope would be that someday he would be able to help bring unknown artists and unknown playwrights to stage.

 

  • Allen shared listeners can find him at –

    LinkedIn @allentlamb

    Twitter – @allentlamb

    www.cheddah.io

Links

 

 

 

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