Be A Transformation Agent

original_the-secret-of-change-is-to-wall-stickerIt is a well documented fact that most people are not very fond of change and avoid it whenever possible out of fear, but as much as people dislike and fear change, they practically abhor the thought of transformation because it goes against the basic human instinct to want to protect, defend, and preserve what it already in existence.

Driving transformation is different than simply driving change because true transformation requires more than incremental repackaging of the old… it requires being willing to evaluate the current state, being willing to start over from scratch if necessary, and charting a course to the preferred future. True transformation cannot happen unless there is a willingness to do whatever is needed to be successful… that means that nothing (or at least very little) is sacred.

I have worked for large corporation and small startups and although there are numerous differences in these companies… there is a commonality on wanting to rely on what has already been done, rather than what could be. I have heard “but we have always done it this way” more times than I care to remember and I have had to have those difficult conversations to help move people from their embattled positions… to being willing to entertain how transformation could actually improve things.

The bottom line is… I don’t want to be satisfied by just being a change agent… I want to be a transformation agent!

If you want some steps to begin a transformational work. Here is a  link to one of our other posts Getting Back To Basics

Getting Back To Basics

Corporations obviously believe in the fundamental concept of re-inventing themselves to become more effective in reaching their customers. Even the mighty Coca-Cola Company has done it multiple times… some of those efforts flopped, but some of them were very successful too. The ideas of re-tooling, re-purposing, and re-energizing are not new at all, but sometimes re-inventing is more about “getting back to basics” than it is about the “latest greatest new and snazzy”!

In-order to “get back to the basics” for your organization, you will need to:

  1. Identify and/or  know what your fundamental beliefs are
  2. Determine where you are today
  3. Identify what the gaps are between those two positions
  4. Devise a strategy on how to get from “where you are” to “where you want to be”
  5. Map out tactical steps that are aligned to the strategy
  6. Start executing the tactics and strategy
  7. Be prepared for things to go wrong and compensate the tactics and strategy as needed
  8. Dont’ do it alone… the more “buy-in” you have before you start the better!
Re-inventing an organization is a lot like taking a root bound tree out of a pot and planting it in the ground… your not changing the fundamentals of what the tree is, your just making sure it has room to grow! If you don’t transplant it it will eventually die… if you transplant it… it might die! So you must be willing to “transplant it with care” by having a good plan and strategy to do it. When you transplant a tree it will always go into some shock, and sometimes the tree will not survive… but if it does it will thrive!
Last but not least… “Getting Back To Basics” is not a demobilization or dismantling of what is already in place. People will need to be reminded of this fact continuously to avoid un-needed churn and distractions!

Customer Loyalty… It’s More Than Statistics!

I was recently having a conversation with some of my industry friends about Customer Loyalty and a growing trend of compromise we are seeing in the industry. Customer Loyalty Programs are still “fairly new” in the marketplace and therefore the adoption rates continue to increase rapidly, however the early adopter stage has long passed and now we are starting to see some compromises being introduced into some of these programs.

The trend we have been noticing and others have seen as well Is what I like to call “Statistical Sanitization”. This is where for various reasons programs start to be slanted in a way that the statistics tell the story that you want them to tell, rather than analyzing the statistics and then developing the story… the truth! When you start to segment, departmentalize, and distribute only the data you are most interested in… it can become borderline gaming the system.

Customer Loyalty Program are only holistic if they have the following characteristics:
1) The invitation to participate is 100% inclusive of your entire customer base
2) The survey is detailed and tells you what your customers REALLY think
3) It allows you enough deep dive information to drive continuous improvements in your business
4) It acts like an early warning system and allows you to identify brush fires before they become forest fires
5) It includes closed loop follow-up conversations directly with your customers
6) Although It is very important to be able to segment, departmentalize, and distribute the data… you need to start with the entire sample first.

A few goals I always have in Customer Loyalty Programs:
1) You need a single customer loyalty metric. (NPS, OSAT, Index, etc)
2) You need to understand how each product and functional area effects your Company Loyalty
a. You need actionable feedback/data that correlates to loyalty for each product you have and each functional areas of your business
3) The goal is to drive continuous improvement actions at all levels of your business
4) Continuous Improvements should be tracked and positively influence the Company Loyalty over time

The “Magic Bullet” Survey Methodology…

I was recently talking to some of my loyalty industry colleagues about different methodologies and metrics that we use to quantify customer loyalty. There were many different approaches, opinions, and thoughts on the matter of course, but there were 2 universal beliefs among all of us:

1) There is NO “Magic Bullet Survey Methodology”
2) Taking “real” actions based upon the data is most important

Let me expound a bit…

Yes there are some methodologies that are better than others because they are more statistically accurate and/or they are easy to communicate with those who are going to consume and put into action the data… but in the end there is no magic bullet methodology.

Let’s take the Net Promoter Score(NPS) methodology for instance. I “like” NPS because it is easy to understand, measure, and communicate to a broad audience.. people easily get and understand what it is.. but NPS is not “the way, the truth, and the life” either. The score is like a fuel gauge… it is something you should obviously reference to see what the gauge says, but don’t fixate on it either… because you will lose track of the road and crash!

The most important function of a loyalty survey is your ability to take strategic and tactical actions based upon the data and drive real change in your organization. If you are not able to take real actions and deliver real change… why even bother doing a survey… just do a marketing campaign instead!

Net Promoter, NPS, and Net Promoter Score are trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company, and Fred Reichheld.

You Say Survey… I Say Program!

I constantly hear people talk about launching their new “survey” and how they are convinced it is going to help their business be a huge success… but when I scratch the surface and ask them what they are going to do with the data… they often do not have a clear answer to that question… or they say present it to executives.

It is rare that I hear a lot about the actions being taken on the data collected from these survey’s and governance of those actions being followed through and held accountable. Increasing Customer Loyalty is not one team’s or one persons responsibility and building loyalty requires both Tactical and Strategic improvements… we must execute “Key Improvement Area’s” in our business in-order to have a “program” instead of a “survey. I have actually told people before “we are in danger of having this be just another survey, let’s make sure we have a program!”… to me one of the differences is making sure that you have a well defined Governance Structure that cover three main things:

Executive Strategy
Company-Wide Action
Full Organization Accountability

Here is an example of a Governance Structure:

So, if you want to make great PowerPoint’s… run a survey… if you want to make real changes and increase customer loyalty… run a program. You Say Survey… I Say Program!

What Motivates Employees: Required Training for Business Leaders

“Engage Employees to Engage Customers to Engage Customer Loyalty!” ~Chris Antonelli

I have had a long standing belief that “engaged” employees are one of the main keys to customer loyalty. When we are truly and fully engaged in something we tend to apply all of our cognitive skills to it… rather than just going through the motions and doing the bare minimum to complete the task.

We have all been “served” by someone who is not engaged and not really there to serve us… they are there to make their money and apply the least amount of effort in doing so… but we have probably all experienced the inverse of that too where the person serving us is really engaged and seems to be “on their game” going above and beyond… so what is the difference and how do we “Engage Employees to Engage Customers to Engage Customer Loyalty!”

“Freedom from Command and Control” is a great book and business philosophy going around right now… this concept basically boils down to empowering your employees to do the right thing and encouraging them to utilize their cognitive skills to do their day to day work. One great example of this business philosophy in action is Zappos:

  • In 2001, Zappos more than quadrupled their yearly sales, bringing in $8.6 million
  • In 2003, Zappos reached $70 million in growth sales
  • Over the next three years, Zappos doubled their annual revenues, hitting $840 million in gross sales by 2007
  • In 2008, Zappos hit $1 billion in annual sales, two years earlier than expected (one year later, they fulfilled their other long-term goal, debuting at #23 on Fortune’s Top 100 Companies to Work For

Why has Zappos be so successful? Most would agree it is because their Customer Loyalty is second to none. CEO Tony Hsieh of Zappos believes “Empower and trust your employees. When you take care of your employees they take pride in the work they do, which helps to provide the ultimate customer service.”

So, What Motivates Employees to perform at these levels? Well, here is a video that I believe best articulates this business philosophy and should be Required Training for Business Leaders

The surprising truth about what motivates us:

References:
http://comment.rsablogs.org.uk/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zappos.com
http://econsultancy.com/us/blog/4912-q-a-zappos-jane-judd-on-customer-loyalty

Guest Blog: Bruce Temkin

What separates Apple from the rest of the technology pack?

I work with a lot of technology-oriented companies filled with engineers and scientists. Many of those firms create products that do great things, but they’re missing an ingredient found in Apple’s products: Emotion.

Most engineering teams work feverishly on meeting functional requirements, some also put effort into making their product easy to use, but very, very few worry about the emotional response of users. What happens? Some customers end up liking their products, but not many love them. Apple, on the other hand, also worries about how customers will feel about its products, and customers love them for it.

Certainly, Steve Jobs is responsible for much of Apple’s success. But it wasn’t one man that made the company’s products great. He pushed the organization to understand the nuance of design. Sometimes little things like a rounded edge, a softer color, or a larger icon really matter. These small changes can be the difference between customers using or not using products or between them liking or loving them.

When companies worry about function and ease of use, they’re doing what they’ve been taught to do: Engineering.  But Apple shows that it’s not enough. They need to worry about Experience Design, which requires focusing on three areas: 

  • Functional: Does it do what you want it to do?
  • Accessible: How easy is it to do what you want to do?
  • Emotional: How does it make you feel?

If you want customers to love your products, then make the move from engineering to Experience Design

***********************
Bruce Temkin is a Customer Experience Transformist & Managing Partner

of Temkin Group. He is also Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association and writes a popular blog, Customer Experience Matters.

Steve Jobs Legacy – Great products and people win customer loyalty!

Sadly, Steve Jobs lost his battle with cancer yesterday, October 5, 2011

A long long time ago I was fortunate enough to get my first “high tech” job with a small software company called Aladdin Systems who were the makers of StuffIt for the Macintosh. My job was to provide customer service and front line technical support to our customers. I loved this job, working with customers, and working with the MAC… but eventually I left that company and started working in the PC market because frankly there were a lot more jobs available in those days in the PC market.

Many years passed before I used another Apple product, but I always remained an Apple fan… then one year Apple came out with the iPod, which gave me an alternate way to consume Apple products. I really liked my iPod a lot and used it daily, but then Apple came out with the iPhone which I believe revolutionized the way we use technology today. I had been using a Blackberry before the iPhone came out and liked it enough, but when I first started using the iPhone it was WORLDS above anything I had ever used before and still is today… I was an immediate promoter.

When I heard the news about Steve passing away it made me think about how he had impacted our world and what his legacy would be. It also made me reflect on how he impacted my life and the numerous times I had spoken about Apple’s Net Promoter Score being one of the bars for success because it was at iconic levels like Harley Davidson. I believe Steve jobs greatest legacy goes well beyond the products and something much more fundamental. He knew it took both great products and great people to win customer loyalty and he knew this strategy was a differentiator because this posture is rare in business today… hopefully more and more companies will get back to these fundamentals and follow the example of Steve Jobs.

#ThankYouSteve

My Customer Loyalty Roots

This blog entry is a tribute to my Dad, Skip Antonelli, who taught me the importance of caring for people and caring about Customer Loyalty.

I have been working my entire life with customers one way or another. I love working with customers because I have a passion for amazing customer service and how it builds customer loyalty. I get this passion from my Dad (Skip Antonelli) who lived and breathed customer service every day of his life while he managed and operated the family nursery (Antonelli Brothers Begonia Gardens) in Santa Cruz, CA.

My Dad was an amazing man full of love, passion, forgiveness, and a very quirky sense of humor! He worked most of his life, 7 days a week at the nursery… and although he really loved the Begonias and Fuchsias’ very much, I saw him get the biggest thrill/satisfaction when he talked directly to the customer’s one on one, or even when he did teaching seminars at the nursery. He loved to engage with people on many levels.

He would help customers troubleshoot diseased plants they didn’t even buy from him and help them troubleshoot their garden issues, he would surprise people and give them unexpected discounts when they bought multiple flowers, and when I was a youngster he would have me carry out plants to people’s cars for them… just to go above and beyond. I got to see my Dad in action for many years and the bottom line is… he cared! He cared about people, he cared about family, he cared about friends, and he cared about helping customers by providing them great customer service!

My Dad’s customer service focus taught me something very important in my life and it has been the foundation to my career for many years… Yes, the nursery sold amazing Begonias… but the success of the nursery was due to the exceptional customer service that my Dad provided every single day and that his employees understood this and strived to the same standards as well.

Many things changed when my Dad passed away in January 2003… and I continue to miss him dearly and think of him often. I hope to honor him in my life by continuing to care about people, care about relationships… and I hope to carry on his legacy of providing exceptional customer service and teaching others how to master this art as well.

In closing, I want to reiterate that Customer Service and Customer Loyalty are not gimmicks or after thoughts, they are foundational and can’t be faked…it has to come out of a reservoir of “loving one another” and caring enough to go above and beyond!

Chris Antonelli
FantasticFailures.com

Can Customer Loyalty be Cyclical?

Do you think Customer Loyalty can be cyclical?

Definition of cyclical: A group of events that happen in a particular order, one following the other, and which are often repeated”.

My wife and I are loyal customers of our monthly maid service because the same 2 ladies come each time and they have always provided excellent service. They are friendly, fast, and our house looks and smells clean when they are done. We have been with this service for about a year now and so this is our first Christmas season with them.

They have done such a great job each month that we decided to give them a small Christmas Bonus as a thank you… They were very appreciative and left smiling ear to ear… this got me thinking… If I give my maids a Christmas bonus for their excellent service throughout the year… does that make them even more loyal to me as their customer and therefore they do even a better job or at least continue to provide the great service that made me a loyal customer to begin with? I believe it can! I believe that Customer Loyalty can be cyclical because encouragement and affirmation are lost art forms in the world today… we are so used to negative reinforcement, complaints, and dissatisfaction…not encouragement and positive affirmation when things go right.

I have to admit I am a pretty hard customer to please… mostly because I expect people to care about the service they are giving. I have asked for a manager many times in my life to complain about bad service, but I also cannot count the number of times I have asked for a manager because I want to give them some positive feedback about my experience… the response is always the same… The employee looks at me with a horrifically concerned look in their eyes and then goes to look for the manager… and then the manager comes over with the same horrific look, but trying to hide it through a fake smile. I always try to eliminate the pain as quickly as possible by telling them “I wanted to tell you what a great job your team is doing”… and then go on to affirm them with what their employee(s) did to impress me with their service. They always seem so shocked to hear the positive feedback, but they seem even more appreciative that someone would take the time to provide the positive feedback!

We so often think people must know how we feel about them and therefore we can miss out on this important way to use the power of our tongue to encourage and affirm those around us, especially those serving us in our day to day lives… I once heard someone say “Catch someone doing something right, and tell him about it!  Better yet, tell him about it in front of others!”

Let us make ENCOURAGEMENT and AFFIRMATION a goal this holiday season… If we are open to it… I am sure we will have plenty of opportunity! … and who knows we might even be starting our own loyalty cycle!

Chris Antonelli
FantasticFailures.com #fantasticfailures