Sections

Deliver Service Unleashed: Giving Your Customers Your All

Chip Bell

In Seth Godin’s recent TEDxYouth talk, “Stop Stealing Dreams,” he asked his audience to raise their right hand as high as they could. After a room full of people reached for the sky, he added, “Now, raise your hand a little higher!” Without exception, every hand in the room was raised higher. They had all held back a little, just in case a bit more might be later requested. But what if no one held back, or to take the analogy a step further, what if we delivered service to those we serve – colleagues, customers, clients, family members – that is completely unleashed from the start?

For example, we needed a large bear-proof crate that would hold a garbage can at our river home in the North Georgia mountains. Black bears are not particularly dangerous unless protecting a cub; they are just always hungry. In the spring and summer, they roam the river bank at night behind our house in search of garbage cans with an inviting aroma. Even though we chained the large can to the wall, they still crushed it from the top to forage for any tasty contents, leaving our backyard littered with garbage.

We called Bill Lorraine. Bill is a master carpenter who had added a sunroom onto the river side of our house. When a neighbor came over to inspect the finished national park style crate he commented, “Now, this is one serious crate. Why? Because even an elephant couldn’t have his way with it. But, why Bill for a small project like this?”

Our answer was: “Bill’s really, really good…he is a carpenter unleashed.”

Have a pep talk with your leashed attitude

“When people ask me ‘how do you make it in show business?’” says famed actor and comedian Steve Martin, “What I always tell them – and nobody ever takes note of it [because] it’s not the answer they wanted to hear. What they want to hear is, ‘here’s how you get an agent, here’s how you write a script, here’s how you do this…’ But I always say: ‘Be so good they can’t ignore you.’ If somebody’s thinking, ‘How can I be really good?’ people are going to come to you. It’s much easier doing it that way than going to cocktail parties.”

Service unleashed is all about being really, really good. It means customers experiencing you raising your hand as high as you can – right out of the blocks. The pursuit of excellence says to your colleagues and customers, “You are so important to me that you get my absolute best.” “Being really, really good” includes service with an attitude – an unmistakable disposition of passion and confidence.

Deliver service unleashed by paying attention to the details that, improperly maintained and managed, can spell mediocrity. It means staying on top of the subtle signals colleagues or customers experience that might disappoint. It involves thinking beyond your customer’s needs to their unspoken aspirations. And, it encompasses ensuring customers witness internal service – colleague to colleague – that matches the same standard of distinction.

Take respect to the top for your customer

Two things I remember about my very first suit. It was a powder blue suit—perfect for Easter Sunday church dress-up. And it was a “big boy” event. I was seven years old. Joseph Neel’s Men’s Wear in Macon, Georgia, was a two-hour drive from my rural hometown and we visited only every August to buy school clothes. But this purchase required a special spring journey.

The “big boy” event started with the salesperson person pulling up a chair in front of me at my eye level. He shook my hand and introduced himself by his first name, not “Mr.” Without a single glance at my dad, he asked me about my favorite color. Then he asked for my second favorite color. He asked me about my hobbies and wanted to know my best friend’s name. We were pals in a matter of minutes.

I walked out of the store very tall because I had a suit in my favorite color, a white dress shirt, a pair of shoes, and a tie in my second favorite color. Did I mention that I was seven?

Respectful service – experiences filled with admiration – starts and ends with a clear and present devotion for customers. It is affirmation laced with authenticity. It is confident deference without a hint of servitude. And it is born out of enormous pride in one’s role and workmanship manifested as a kind of invitation to the experience.

It is as if the server says, “Come witness and experience my excellent work, crafted just for you.” It is like a “random act of kindness,” only when you deliver service that is respectful, it is not random; it is perpetual.

And always deliver service that is first class

My business partner and I were working with a client in Nicaragua. One evening we elected to skip the hotel grill and try the hotel’s upscale restaurant – Factory Steak and Lobster. We were in for a special treat. So I ordered my usual Jack Daniels whiskey on the rocks. In every restaurant in America, this request would yield a highball glass brought to the table already filled with ice plus the special adult beverage ready to drink. Because of that practice, I have sometimes gotten cheap bourbon poorly disguised as Jack, as well as a drink the bartender apparently measured with a thimble instead of a jigger.

But at the Real Metrocentro InterContinental in Managua, I was not served Jack Daniels. It was presented to me! The waiter brought a tray containing a full bottle of Jack, an empty chilled glass, a container of ice, and a tall shot glass. The glass was then filled with ice – one cube at a time, and placed before me. The bottle was presented much like a wine steward might present a chosen bottle of wine. Then, assuming approval, the Tennessee whiskey was poured into the shot glass. Finally, lovingly poured into the ice-filled highball glass! A simple shot of whiskey was treated like pricey Dom Perignon champagne. That’s how you deliver service that resonates.

Then make it magical!

What if you found a way to make the mundane magical? What if every service moment was treated as an extraordinary event for a cherished customer? The check-in hotel clerk would come from behind the desk to give you your room key. The taxi driver would take your luggage all the way into the hotel lobby. The service tech would explain your auto repair kneeling eye level with you as you sat comfortably.

Customers are not interested in being treated as royalty served by a slave. But, they do notice when the service they receive clearly indicates they are treasured. If your customers gave your service a letter grade, what grade would you get? What steps can you take to make an A+ on your next customer report card? Deliver service that is the best you have, and their best will come back to you.

For more on customer engagement, see 5 Steps to Your Customer’s Heart with Emotionally Aware Computing.

“Service Unleashed” is the copyrighted name of a suite of new customer service training programs designed by Chip Bell and co-owned and delivered by Forrest Performance Group (fpg.com).

Comments

Amazing Digital Marketing Trends And Tips To Expand Your Business In 2015

Sunny Popali

Amazing Digital Marketing Trends & Tips To Expand Your Business In 2015The fast-paced world of digital marketing is changing too quickly for most companies to adapt. But staying up to date with the latest industry trends is imperative for anyone involved with expanding a business.

Here are five trends that have shaped the industry this year and that will become more important as we move forward:

  1. Email marketing will need to become smarter

Whether you like it or not, email is the most ubiquitous tool online. Everyone has it, and utilizing it properly can push your marketing ahead of your rivals. Because business use of email is still very widespread, you need to get smarter about email marketing in order to fully realize your business’s marketing strategy. Luckily, there are a number of tools that can help you market more effectively, such as Mailchimp.

  1. Content marketing will become integrated and more valuable

Content is king, and it seems to be getting more important every day. Google and other search engines are focusing more on the content you create as the potential of the online world as marketing tool becomes apparent. Now there seems to be a push for current, relevant content that you can use for your services and promote your business.

Staying fresh with the content you provide is almost as important as ensuring high-quality content. Customers will pay more attention if your content is relevant and timely.

  1. Mobile assets and paid social media are more important than ever

It’s no secret that mobile is key to your marketing efforts. More mobile devices are sold and more people are reading content on mobile screens than ever before, so it is crucial to your overall strategy to have mobile marketing expertise on your team. London-based Abacus Marketing agrees that mobile marketing could overtake desktop website marketing in just a few years.

  1. Big Data for personalization plays a key role

Marketers are increasingly using Big Data to get their brand message out to the public in a more personalized format. One obvious example is Google Trend analysis, a highly useful tool that marketing experts use to obtain the latest on what is trending around the world. You can — and should — use it in your business marketing efforts. Big Data will also let you offer specific content to buyers who are more likely to look for certain items, for example, and offer personalized deals to specific groups of within your customer base. Other tools, which until recently were the stuff of science fiction, are also available that let you do things like use predictive analysis to score leads.

  1. Visual media matters

A picture really is worth a thousand words, as the saying goes, and nobody can deny the effectiveness of a well-designed infographic. In fact, some studies suggest that Millennials are particularly attracted to content with great visuals. Animated gifs and colorful bar graphs have even found their way into heavy-duty financial reports, so why not give them a try in your business marketing efforts?

A few more tips:

  • Always keep your content relevant and current to attract the attention of your target audience.
  • Always keep all your social media and public accounts fresh. Don’t use old content or outdated pictures in any public forum.
  • Your reviews are a proxy for your online reputation, so pay careful attention to them.
  • Much online content is being consumed on mobile now, so focus specifically on the design and usability of your mobile apps.
  • Online marketing is essentially geared towards getting more traffic onto your site. The more people visit, the better your chances of increasing sales.

Want more insight on how digital marketing is evolving? See Shutterstock Report: The Face Of Marketing Is Changing — And It Doesn’t Include Vince Vaughn.

Comments

About Sunny Popali

Sunny Popali is SEO Director at www.tempocreative.com. Tempo Creative is a Phoenix inbound marketing company that has served over 700 clients since 2001. Tempos team specializes in digital and internet marketing services including web design, SEO, social media and strategy.

Social Media Matters: 6 Content And Social Media Trend Predictions For 2016 [INFOGRAPHIC]

Julie Ellis

As 2015 winds down, it’s time to look forward to 2016 and explore the social media and content marketing trends that will impact marketing strategies over the next 15 months or so.

Some of the upcoming trends simply indicate an intensification of current trends, however others indicate that there are new things that will have a big impact in 2016.

Take a look at a few trends that should definitely factor in your planning for 2016.

1. SEO will focus more on social media platforms and less on search engines

Clearly Google is going nowhere. In fact, in 2016 Google’s word will still essentially be law when it comes to search engine optimization.

However, in 2016 there will be some changes in SEO. Many of these changes will be due to the fact that users are increasingly searching for products and services directly from websites such as Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube.

There are two reasons for this shift in customer habits:

  • Customers are relying more and more on customer comments, feedback, and reviews before making purchasing decisions. This means that they are most likely to search directly on platforms where they can find that information.
  • Customers who are seeking information about products and services feel that video- and image-based content is more trustworthy.

2. The need to optimize for mobile and touchscreens will intensify

Consumers are using their mobile devices and tablets for the following tasks at a sharply increasing rate:

  • Sending and receiving emails and messages
  • Making purchases
  • Researching products and services
  • Watching videos
  • Reading or writing reviews and comments
  • Obtaining driving directions and using navigation apps
  • Visiting news and entertainment websites
  • Using social media

Most marketers would be hard-pressed to look at this list and see any case for continuing to avoid mobile and touchscreen optimization. Yet, for some reason many companies still see mobile optimization as something that is nice to do, but not urgent.

This lack of a sense of urgency seemingly ignores the fact that more than 80% of the highest growing group of consumers indicate that it is highly important that retailers provide mobile apps that work well. According to the same study, nearly 90% of Millennials believe that there are a large number of websites that have not done a very good job of optimizing for mobile.

3. Content marketing will move to edgier social media platforms

Platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat weren’t considered to be valid targets for mainstream content marketing efforts until now.

This is because they were considered to be too unproven and too “on the fringe” to warrant the time and marketing budget investments, when platforms such as Facebook and YouTube were so popular and had proven track records when it came to content marketing opportunity and success.

However, now that Instagram is enjoying such tremendous growth, and is opening up advertising opportunities to businesses beyond its brand partners, it (along with other platforms) will be seen as more and more viable in 2016.

4. Facebook will remain a strong player, but the demographic of the average user will age

In 2016, Facebook will likely remain the flagship social media website when it comes to sharing and promoting content, engaging with customers, and increasing Internet recognition.

However, it will become less and less possible to ignore the fact that younger consumers are moving away from the platform as their primary source of online social interaction and content consumption. Some companies may be able to maintain status quo for 2016 without feeling any negative impacts.

However, others may need to rethink their content marketing strategies for 2016 to take these shifts into account. Depending on their branding and the products or services that they offer, some companies may be able to profit from these changes by customizing the content that they promote on Facebook for an older demographic.

5. Content production must reflect quality and variety

  • Both B2B and B2C buyers value video based content over text based content.
  • While some curated content is a good thing, consumers believe that custom content is an indication that a company wishes to create a relationship with them.
  • The great majority of these same consumers report that customized content is useful for them.
  • B2B customers prefer learning about products and services through content as opposed to paid advertising.
  • Consumers believe that videos are more trustworthy forms of content than text.

Here is a great infographic depicting the importance of video in content marketing efforts:
Small Business Video infographic

A final, very important thing to note when considering content trends for 2016 is the decreasing value of the keyword as a way of optimizing content. In fact, in an effort to crack down on keyword stuffing, Google’s optimization rules have been updated to to kick offending sites out of prime SERP positions.

6. Oculus Rift will create significant changes in customer engagement

Oculus Rift is not likely to offer much to marketers in 2016. After all, it isn’t expected to ship to consumers until the first quarter. However, what Oculus Rift will do is influence the decisions that marketers make when it comes to creating customer interaction.

For example, companies that have not yet embraced storytelling may want to make 2016 the year that they do just that, because later in 2016 Oculus Rift may be the platform that their competitors will be using to tell stories while giving consumers a 360-degree vantage point.

For a deeper dive on engaging with customers through storytelling, see Brand Storytelling: Where Humanity Takes Center Stage.

Comments

About Julie Ellis

Julie Ellis – marketer and professional blogger, writes about social media, education, self-improvement, marketing and psychology. To contact Julie follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

The Future of Cybersecurity: Trust as Competitive Advantage

Justin Somaini and Dan Wellers

 

The cost of data breaches will reach US$2.1 trillion globally by 2019—nearly four times the cost in 2015.

Cyberattacks could cost up to $90 trillion in net global economic benefits by 2030 if cybersecurity doesn’t keep pace with growing threat levels.

Cyber insurance premiums could increase tenfold to $20 billion annually by 2025.

Cyberattacks are one of the top 10 global risks of highest concern for the next decade.


Companies are collaborating with a wider network of partners, embracing distributed systems, and meeting new demands for 24/7 operations.

But the bad guys are sharing intelligence, harnessing emerging technologies, and working round the clock as well—and companies are giving them plenty of weaknesses to exploit.

  • 33% of companies today are prepared to prevent a worst-case attack.
  • 25% treat cyber risk as a significant corporate risk.
  • 80% fail to assess their customers and suppliers for cyber risk.

The ROI of Zero Trust

Perimeter security will not be enough. As interconnectivity increases so will the adoption of zero-trust networks, which place controls around data assets and increases visibility into how they are used across the digital ecosystem.


A Layered Approach

Companies that embrace trust as a competitive advantage will build robust security on three core tenets:

  • Prevention: Evolving defensive strategies from security policies and educational approaches to access controls
  • Detection: Deploying effective systems for the timely detection and notification of intrusions
  • Reaction: Implementing incident response plans similar to those for other disaster recovery scenarios

They’ll build security into their digital ecosystems at three levels:

  1. Secure products. Security in all applications to protect data and transactions
  2. Secure operations. Hardened systems, patch management, security monitoring, end-to-end incident handling, and a comprehensive cloud-operations security framework
  3. Secure companies. A security-aware workforce, end-to-end physical security, and a thorough business continuity framework

Against Digital Armageddon

Experts warn that the worst-case scenario is a state of perpetual cybercrime and cyber warfare, vulnerable critical infrastructure, and trillions of dollars in losses. A collaborative approach will be critical to combatting this persistent global threat with implications not just for corporate and personal data but also strategy, supply chains, products, and physical operations.


Download the executive brief The Future of Cybersecurity: Trust as Competitive Advantage.


Comments

Tags:

To Get Past Blockchain Hype, We Must Think Differently

Susan Galer

Blockchain hype is reaching fever pitch, making it the perfect time to separate market noise from valid signals. As part of my ongoing conversations about blockchain, I reached out to several experts to find out where companies should consider going from here. Raimund Gross, Solution Architect and Futurist at SAP, acknowledged the challenges of understanding and applying such a complex leading-edge technology as blockchain.

“The people who really get it today are those able to put the hype in perspective with what’s realistically doable in the near future, and what’s unlikely to become a reality any time soon, if ever,” Gross said. “You need to commit the resources and find the right partners to lay the groundwork for success.”

Gross told me one of the biggest problems with blockchain – besides the unproven technology itself – was the mindset shift it demands. “Many people aren’t thinking about decentralized architectures with peer-to-peer networks and mash-ups, which is what blockchain is all about. People struggle because often discussions end up with a centralized approach based on past constructs. It will take training and experience to think decentrally.”

Here are several more perspectives on blockchain beyond the screaming headlines.

How blockchain disrupts insurance, banking

Blockchain has the potential to dramatically disrupt industries because the distributed ledger embeds automatic trust across processes. This changes the role of longstanding intermediaries like insurance companies and banks, essentially restructuring business models for entire industries.

“With the distributed ledger, all of the trusted intelligence related to insuring the risk resides in the cloud, providing everyone with access to the same information,” said Nadine Hoffmann, global solution manager for Innovation at SAP Financial Services. “Payment is automatically triggered when the agreed-upon risk scenario occurs. There are limitations given regulations, but blockchain can open up new services opportunities for established insurers, fintech startups, and even consumer-to-consumer offerings.”

Banks face a similar digitalized transformation. Long built on layers of steps to mitigate risk, blockchain offers the banking industry a network of built-in trust to improve efficiencies along with the customer experience in areas such as cross-border payments, trade settlements for assets, and other contractual and payment processes. What used to take days or even months could be completed in hours.

Finance departments evolve

Another group keenly watching blockchain developments are CFOs. Just as Uber and Airbnb have disrupted transportation and hospitality, blockchain has the potential to change not only the finance department — everything from audits and customs documentation to letters of credit and trade finance – but also the entire company.

“The distributed ledger’s capabilities can automate processes in shared service centers, allowing accountants and other employees in finance to speed up record keeping including proof of payment supporting investigations,” said Georg Koester, senior developer, LoB Finance at the Innovation Center Potsdam. “This lowers costs for the company and improves the customer experience.”

Koester said that embedding blockchain capabilities in software company-wide will also have a tremendous impact on product development, lean supply chain management, and other critical areas of the company.

While financial services dominate blockchain conversations right now, Gross named utilities, healthcare, public sector, real estate, and pretty much any industry as prime candidates for blockchain disruption. “Blockchain is specific to certain business scenarios in any industry,” said Gross. “Every organization can benefit from trust and transparency that mitigates risk and optimizes processes.”

Get started today! Run Live with SAP for Banking. Blast past the hype by attending the SAP Next-Gen Boot Camp on Blockchain in Financial Services and Public Sector event being held April 26-27 in Regensdorf, Switzerland.

Follow me on Twitter, SCN Business Trends, or Facebook. Read all of my Forbes articles here.

Comments