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Foundations

Why We Take a Holistic Approach to Service

on November 6 in Foundations, Service Experience Design | 0 comments

Why do we take a holistic approach to service? Why does service experience design start with a broad view? David Clarke in an Adweek article says it best: Experience isn’t just one thing. It’s comprised of sales, customer service, order entry, human resources, quality assurance, shipping, billing, collections, maintenance—a hundred parts of an enterprise. Therefore, a successful initiative dedicated to experience requires a leader with enough professional standing, acumen and political weight to drive reforms across multiple departments simultaneously. It’s an executive function. But the payoff is worth it. While Clarke–and most customer experience research and advice–is focused on large manufacturing corporations, we can translate this for B2B soloists and SMBs in services organizations by honing in on a key point: As an executive function, success in serving clients is entirely up to you as the business leader and your team (whether that team is ad hoc or includes all the C-suite positions). Your outcomes will only be as good as your collective knowledge in all areas of the business plus resources AND your ability to take perspective, generate creative ideas, operate aligned with common goals, make difficult decisions, execute on only the most important initiatives, manage your time, and create forward momentum. (Essentially, “Nothing is Created Alone.”)  This is why having a creative partner is paramount. This is why we start with asking the big questions, why we cover a lot of ground in our Creative Partnering 4-Hour Working Sessions. And why a holistic approach to service is needed, even if it seems off the beaten path.  To learn more, sign up to get our emails or join a Steps to Services Excellence call.   ...

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Communications Planning

on March 21 in Creative Partnering, Foundations | 0 comments

At Arthur Andersen, communications planning was part of my day-to-day activities. And I was trained to plan communications. Our marketing department had a distinct way of doing this. (In fact, it was at Arthur Andersen that I received training on The 7 Habits.) To this day, I apply communications planning to strategic communications for service-based clients.  But I’ve learned not everyone has the patience–or ability or framework–to PLAN their communications efforts. For example, fast thinkers sometimes don’t plan their communications effectively. They expect everyone to be operating at their speed. They forget to paint the picture and bring an audience along step-by-step. They have a tendency to gloss over things or leave out elements as they discuss their vision. (I admit, I fall prey to this, too, but mostly when speaking.) They might also be overlooking opportunities to make their materials work for them. In other words, create trust or drive buyer action. Or, they attempt to achieve too much in a single communications piece. You can only move a prospect along 2 steps at a time with any given piece. And you must align communications so that you have the right materials for every stage. This is at the heart of communications planning. And avoiding the other pitfalls. We all forget sometimes that the purpose of written communications is in fact communication! That means we must step outside ourselves and see our writing as our audience would. (If this is difficult, outside perspective is a big help.) It’s not just about the writing but about the structuring of the material and information so that it is palatable and powerful. People need guidance on how to read things and what is important. Not everyone can do this visually.  That is, lay it out in a way that makes absorption of information seamless. This is part of the value that a strategic marketing communications consultant provides. It’s not just about semicolons and em dashes. Even people who are expert communicators–especially in the realm of speaking–or marketers themselves may be missing out on opportunities to really communicate and engage their audiences in ways the audiences need when crafting written materials. As a strategic marketing communications consultant, I find the blind spots that you have and...

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Giving Others a Vote of Confidence

on March 20 in Foundations | 0 comments

Taking the time to let those in your professional network know that you support them is an important but not urgent activity.  An easy way to do this is to endorse them on LinkedIn. Endorsements are those opportunities you see to “check off” that a connection knows her stuff.  As opposed to recommendations, which are another (albeit more time-consuming but important) way to show support for an A-lister or someone you have worked with before. I realize many don’t take those endorsements seriously–and for good reason. In fact, for the very reason I’m listing here:  Endorsing people is really a vote of confidence. It says to them, “Hey, I believe in you.” Most of the time, I suspect we will only endorse people when we have awareness of their skill set. Sometimes, I admit, I do not have direct knowledge of someone’s expertise, say with SQL or Project Management.  I figure, common sense. A database admin and PMP probably do have that knowledge. When we endorse in this way, we are simply taking the person at his word. An endorsement simply says, “I trust you.” Sometimes we can be skeptical of people’s skills and that’s fine, too. We can also like them and not endorse them for something if we do not have first-hand evidence that they know something. I’m not “endorsement-happy” in that I skip over a lot. Making time to endorse others and let them know you believe in them is a good way to reconnect with our weak ties, build relationships, and say “I’m thinking about you.” It’s not to be taken lightly. Not to be used as a marketing tactic. But to be approached with authenticity, joy, and honesty. How do you feel about LinkedIn endorsements? Are you endorsement-happy? Do you approach it mindfully with the intention of giving someone a vote of confidence? Update: Endorsements are not as popular as they were at the time of this initial post; is that good thing or do you miss the emphasis on acknowledging...

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Find Your Pillars

on March 19 in Foundations | 0 comments

Self-discovery is a necessity for authenticity. And it never ends. But there’s nothing urgent about it, so making time to find out all that we believe in can be challenging. While some people are highly conscious of their beliefs–whether limiting, expansive, definitive, etc.–I suspect that they haven’t tapped into all of them. My take is there’s always more to explore. Time spent looking inward and finding our “pillars”–those unique ideals we rally behind is important. For growth, for leadership, and for marketing. And while we may not be able to build Rome, is there one pillar you can find today? That’s the Day 20 challenge for #30DaysofQ2. Here is one of my pillars, based on my core value of AUTHENTICITY:   Need help discovering a pillar? Let’s...

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Defining Success

on March 18 in Foundations | 1 comment

I’ve discovered, with help from Michelle Lee, The Coachapist, that I make a lot of rules for myself that prevent me from having fun and being successful. I’ve focused on the importance of fun before but haven’t talked much about how spending time defining success is a valuable activity. In my case, I’m beginning to think success looks like freedom from (at least some of) these rules. Imagine what I could achieve if I had less contraints! And by the way, these pesky rules aren’t just for me but everyone around me. What do I gain from that? I’m not a hella angry person but I have caught myself getting angry when other people who don’t have my rules are being or seeming successful. Hey Jealousy! (How’s that for authenticity?) Good news: I’m a results-oriented problem solver. And a change agent. So I move to finding the solution by asking: What can I do to loosen up on the rule-setting and get rid of the anger? The answer is changing my rules. Not holding myself accountable to rules that don’t serve me. Releasing others from the obligation to follow my rules. So step 1: Rule identification. What are these silly rules, anyway? Step 2: Writing the reverse of those rules. Say the equally true but opposite thing. Step 3: Realize that rules don’t make me safe, they keep me small. And playing small is so.not.successful. Ok, but what does success look like for ME? Answer: Expanding capabilities and getting broader experiences while delivering value to clients. Mutual growth. But doesn’t that run counter to what a lot of people expect from consultants? Consultants are already at the top of their game. They’ve “arrived,” and are completely knowledgable–plug-and-play, not trial and error! Sounds like a rule, doesn’t it? That’s probably why it’s been hard for me to call myself a consultant. My way of doing it isn’t matching up to my limited definition of success with respect to doing it. Sigh! Return to step 2. Rinse and repeat. Let me hear from you: Have you defined success for YOU authentically? Have you figured out what might be in your way?   Related articles across the web How To Become an Expert at Something...

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Designing the Client Experience

on March 17 in Foundations, Service Experience Design | 1 comment

Yesterday at Conscious Connections, Kristin Slice of Empowered Lab Communications presented on personal leadership.  The room was filled with conscious women business owners–and many of them one-woman shops. For those of us who have a background in marketing, we relied on our knowledge of product development and brand when starting our business. We (ideally) spent a lot of time in Stephen Covey’s “Quadrant 2” to do that important, foundational marketing work. Kristin reminded me, however, that not everyone has done these things from the get-go. Or even designed their client experiences. What does leadership have to do with designing the client experience? If we lead our businesses (and ourselves!) for the purpose of growing our bottom line, it is our clients’ satisfied experiences that drive repeat business and create word of mouth and referrals. Therefore, it makes perfect sense we would spend time to DESIGN a service experience that will yield high levels of satisfaction–vs. leave it to chance. I realize this is a challenge as we busily attempt to attract, connect, close, and serve–at the tactical level.  We often might not do this as strategically as we could in our haste to meet our numbers, pay the bills, or succeed. Sometimes we are too busy with “promoting our business” (what some people call marketing) and doing the work that we forget to purposefully design the customer experience. And that includes measuring it also. They are two sides of the same coin you could say.  Design, execute, measure, adapt. It’s a bigger subject than it looks like on the surface when you look at the entire spectrum of what needs to be done around customer experience. It relates to brand, too. Sound overwhelming? That’s why it’s the Day 18 challenge for #30DaysofQ2. Have you spent time designing your customer experience? Have you noticed a difference in your bottom line by making the commitment to this Quadrant 2 activity?...

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