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Customer experience is a thing now.  It’s a job title with “manager” tacked at the end of it, it’s a certificate program in continuing education and conferences are held in its name.  But what is it exactly and why should your business be trying to optimize it?

 Don Peppers, founding partner of the Peppers and Rogers Group at TeleTech, wants you to remember what brought your customer to you in the first place: s/he has a problem, and you sell a product or a service that may solve that problem.   As Peppers calls it in his recent LinkedIn post “The Absolutely Ideal Customer Experience is NO Customer Experience that problem creates “friction,” and the best customer experience of all would be “frictionless:”
“So with apologies in advance to all the Customer Experience Managers out there, I’m going to suggest that the ideal customer experience is no experience at all. Every Customer Experience Manager’s ultimate goal should be to eliminate the need to manage the customer’s experience, by sucking every last vestige of friction out of it.”
Whether it’s your bricks-and-mortar store, your website or your table at a trade show, you want to make sure that solving your customer’s problem is your primary focus.  By keeping that directive in mind, you WILL be optimizing the Customer Experience.
Laura Abrahamsen, December 24, 2013
Sponsored by ArnoldIT, developer of Beyond Search

Stop at the Question Mark

December 17th, 2013 | Posted by jasmine in Business strategy | Expert - (2 Comments)

What is the biggest mistake we all make conversationally?  According to Shane Snow, journalist and CCO of Contently, it’s how we ask questions.  In his piece “This Post Will Make You a More Effective Communicator in 90 Seconds” for LinkedIn, Snow illustrates his point by contrasting two interviews of Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX.  Now, Musk is a guy whose intended mission is to colonize Mars.  He has built a company around that mission.  He’s someone whose answers you would like to hear.

But, according to Snow, the interview conducted by Kevin Rose, founder of Digg and a partner at Google Ventures, yielded far different results than the Musk’s interview with Charlie Rose, the veteran PBS/CBS journalist.  The reason?  Kevin Rose asked Musk a question, then jumped in with an array of possible answers, while Charlie Rose simply asked a question and stopped talking.  The difference is astounding, and the mistake is everywhere once you start paying attention.
Snow’s advice as a professional journalist to businesspeople?  Stop it:
“The art of asking great questions is one of the most frequently useful. The #1 tip for asking better questions? Cut them off at the question mark.
Those better, terser questions will make you a better conversationalist, a more effective information-gatherer. A more efficient speaker. And, perhaps paradoxically, a more pleasant communicator.”
If you are seeking information, ask an expert and listen to the answer. Don’t suggest the answer you would give.  Otherwise, why are you even asking?
Laura Abrahamsen, December 17, 2013
Sponsored by ArnoldIT, developer of Beyond Search

How does your company find the best candidates for your job openings? If it’s like most firms, you advertise, cull through the thousands of resumes your HR department receives, decide on a list of frontrunners whom you interview by phone or in-person (or both, sequentially). It’s only when you’re narrowing the field to the finalists that you may use a tool like psychometric tests to determine who fits the position best.

Researchers John Bateson, Jochen Wirtz, Eugene Burke, and Carly Vaughan want you to start with the testing before you even get to the resumes.  In their Harvard Business Review article “When Hiring, First Test, Then Interview, “ they point out the pitfalls of the traditional order and the advantages of testing:

“The test-first approach makes sense for several reasons. Evidence suggests that many more applicants today—by some estimates, nearly 50%—embellish their CVs than did so in the past, reducing the utility of résumés as initial screening tools. At the same time, the advent of web-based psychometric tests has made testing less expensive and more convenient. And recent research across industries shows that these tests are good predictors of performance.”

Their examples provide compelling statistics. The Dependability and Safety Instrument (DSI), an 18-question online assessment developed by the British test publisher SHL (which employs two of the article’s coauthors) was used by a UK energy company concerned with absenteeism.  Of the 136 new employees who took the assessment, the workers who scored in the highest 30% of the group were 2.3 times as likely to have perfect attendance as workers who scored in the bottom 30% over their first six months of employment.

Wow.  Wouldn’t it have been better to know that before you even brought them on the job?

Laura Abrahamsen, November 26, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT, developer of Beyond Search

While the economy continues to slowly recover, many businesses still lack the budget to execute innovative marketing tactics. However, according to the recent Huffington Post article, “No More Conformist Marketing! 5 Unique Ideas for Independent Contractors” independent contracting allows companies to take advantage of some of the non-traditional marketing opportunities that would not be available with a traditional hire.

The article offers five tips to effectively utilize independent contractors in your marketing efforts. They include: gaining a celebrity endorsement, lifestyle advertising/branding, going to your competitors, bartering, and image advertising.

When discussing “going to your competitors” the author explains:

“One way to grab some new business is to go to your competitors. In my specific field, freelance writing, publishing support and communications contracting, the field of potential clients is positively teeming. This aids in blurring the line between competitor and colleague, and, even if you’ll not receive direct client recommendations (as I’ve often given and received with fellow writers), you’re likely to at least pick up on trends and news within the industry — a great starting point for that next advertising campaign.”

Hiring independent contractors is becoming increasingly prevalent in a variety of expanding fields. We highly support any company that is willing to think outside the box and use all the tools available at their disposal to enhance their marketing efforts.

Jasmine Ashton, September 24, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Beyond Search

 

 

 

The age when employees stayed at one company for forty years and then retired is long gone. The millennial staff that makes up our modern day workforce are a job jumpers who will leave  a company after anywhere from one to five years. For employers this means a loss of money and a lot of it. A new survey found that it  costs between $15000 and $25000 to replace young professional workers. While this news may be disheartening, all is not lost. A recent Huffington Post  article offers “10 Ways to Reduce Employee Turnover.”

According to Dori Clark, a lackluster economy makes it difficult for employers to provide raises, promotions, and other financial incentives that have historically kept employees happy. When your company has limited resources, however, Clark has a myriad of other ways to help create an environment where employees feel valued and actually want to work.

One tip that I found particularly useful was “don’t surprise them.” Clark explains:

“The surest ticket to happiness, according to the “positive psychologists” who study human well-being? Autonomy. It’s in limited supply, of course, if you’re an employee (and have to answer to a boss). But you can do your part by keeping your employees apprised of decisions early, involving them in the decision-making process where appropriate (they may even have some good ideas), and walking them through your thought process so they understand where you’re coming from. No one wants to be a drone, executing commands with no understanding of the broader context. And no one wants to be kept in the dark, constantly reacting to new developments that are thrown at them. Keeping your employees involved and informed is a fundamental investment in their satisfaction.”

Autonomy is certainly an important part of happiness, especially in the workplace. But if you aren’t able to provide that, keeping employees in the know is a nice consolation prize.

Jasmine Ashton, September 17, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Beyond Search