In this edition of Gobsmacked™TV:...
Plugged in with PAKRA®
Most LinkedIn members use their profile for professional branding purposes. The active LinkedIn members engage in business development and job search/placement activities. In contrast, initially many Google+ users used the features for personal interactions such as photo-sharing with family, hangout with family and friends. Also many G+ users don't realise that their personal posts are making it to the public webspace and that they should reset their visibility preferences of posts and "About" page. Those users detered others from engaging with them.
However, the demand and growth of Google+ has been phenomenal this year. Moreover, after LinkedIn deployed an unprecedented and Members-UNfriendly policy called Sitewide Automated Moderation (SWAM), thousands of professionals and small businesses are exploring and migrating to Google+. Those who are active in Google+, are more than ever separating their professional profile from their personal profile and are engaging at different levels.
If you are considering to put your efforts into only one channel that helps you manage your customers better and more effectively, then you must start by comparing the features of each channel. The following tables compares all the known features available (as of September 1, 2013) with a free LinkedIn Membership and a Google+ profile (which is free).
The features marked in "blue" are the ones that we consider as very user-Friendly. The features marked in "red" are the ones that we consider as user-UNfriendly.
|People||Circles, Pages, Communities||Connections|
|Companies||Circles, Pages, Communities||Company Pages|
|Posts||Text, Photos, Links, Videos, GIFs
||Text, Links and Image files
|No limit on text/character count
||Limit on number of characters in post
|Tag people and pages with @ and +
||Tag people and companies with @
|Add hashtag for global SEO||Does not contribute to SEO|
|Discussions||Communities: Private, Public with invite moderation, Public-Open||LinkedIn Groups: Private, Public with invite moderation, Public-Open|
Automatic sign-on with login to any other Google products
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"Which is more important? Net Promoter® Score (NPS) or Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)"
Wrong question! The correct question is: Which drivers of NPS and CSAT are more important than others?
So! let us get right down to it.
NPS was first discussed by Fred Reichheld in the 2003 Harvard Business Review. It measures customer loyalty and tells you if your customers are likely to promote your company or product or service.
But CSAT has been there forever. It measures customer's (or user's) overall perception about your company and tells you if your company or product or service actually met their expectations.
CSAT depends on your customer's expectations and the critical-to-quality (CTQ) requirements.
NPS predicts potential for renewals, revisits, "come back again", and crowd-sources your referral revenue-stream. CSAT summarizes your company's or product's or service's performance.
There is a known strong correlation between the two metrics, especially in the tails of their statistical distribution. Causality or "which one causes what" is yet to be determined. High CSAT is likely to result in Promoter status. Low CSAT will push a customer within the detractor and neutral zone. Neutral and Passive makes a dead zone where drivers and behaviors of customers are harder to decipher. In this zone, studying behaviors shown by repeat customer (#bigdata), can provide additional insights.
There are however important business processes and behavioral drivers that are common to both CSAT and NPS.
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Troubleshooting is a skill where a Customer Service or Sales Rep actively listens, comprehends the problem that the customer poses and then via series of question and answer sequences can quickly get to a resolution for the presented problem. Ability to do this well directly effects Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) and First Issue Resolution (FCR) metrics.
Most of such interactions happen when customer either calls or chats or emails the agents or customer service reps (CSRs)—Help Desks, Billing Desks, Scheduling services, Reservation desks, Claims-processing centers, Techsupport and Customer-Care organizations for various industries. This skill is needed for all industry verticals including those where customers have purchased your products or services, or are citizens for government or constituents for not-for-profit services or are patients and families for in patient-care envionments. This is also a basic skill for CSRs working at repair shops, in brick-mortar retail shops and in hospitality industry or those who provide services to private homes.
Troubleshooting occurs in four steps.
1. Understand the problem: First, the employee must actively listen to the customer and follow-up by validating that they correctly heard the customer and seek verification.
2. Diagnostics: Second, the employee must ask open-ended questions to understand the decision-tree (fully documented or not) or path they take. Sometimes, they have to calibrate their understanding with customer's expectations.
3. Communicate the possible causes for the problems: Third, confidently identify and assure the customer that they are communicating the right reasons.
4. Find a solution and communicate the solution prior to implementation: The employee simulataneously must know how to navigate any knowledge management or decision-tree provided to them. Lastly, the employee must identify the solution that best fits the problem. In case of ambiguity with multiple solutions, they must be able to resolve the ambiguity by doing additional diagnostics and rule-outs. Also steps 2 to 4 can be in a trial-and-error type of sequences i.e., they will need to do it few times to identify the reasons for the symptoms or issues that the customer is experiencing.
Sales reps need to troubleshoot well especially when they are working in consultative selling environment. Those sales rep who do this well are more likely to build the rapport and become a trusted advisor even if they cannot close the sale in the very first opportunity. The same skill when applied to sales reps, the skill is translated as "solutioning skill".
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Solutioning is a measurable ability where an employee asks the appropriate questions, determines customer's need and then suggests solution that precisely addresses those needs. Typical lagging Y metrics measuring customer experience (CX) are Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) and Revenues or Wins. These, in turn, are strongly correlated to whether or not your customer perceives you as a Trusted Advisor, when they interact with you. This measurable perception is the transition metric between first sales transaction and customer retention. Solutioning is what helps you achieve that Trusted Advisor status.
Solutioning can be applied in three different interaction of the customer journey. These interactions are Lead Nurturing, Customer Service (tech support/help desk) and Cross-selling or Upselling.
Keith M. Eades, author of The New Solution Selling, defines a solution as:
"So what is the definition of the word solution? The typical response is, "An answer to a problem." I agree with this response but feel it's important to expand the definition. Not only does the problem need to be acknowledged by the buyer, but both the buyer and salesperson must also agree on the answer. So a solution is a mutually agreed-upon answer to a recognized problem. In addition, a solution must also provide some measurable improvement. By measurable improvement, I mean there is a before and might be after. Now we have a more complete definition of a solution; It's a mutually shared answer to a recognized problem, and the answer provides measurable improvement."
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Whether you are trying to influence a team member to step up their participation in a new project or you are influencing a customer to upgrade their services or a prospect to consider your product or service versus your competitors, objections will come your way and you have to overcome those objections.
Overcoming customer’s objections is a skill you use to influence people. This is needed in collaborative projects, in sales, in customer service and any human-interaction. If you can hook others to your story or to make others listen to your Point of View (POV), then it allows you to move the sale forward. How well you or your employees overcome objections, impacts the sales cycle, the reputation factor, and the trusted advisor factor. These factors affect both long-term and short-term customer experience. To achieve that, your sales and customer service reps and team leaders must preemptively know the objections that will be raised and appear to be knowledgeable when they overcome the objection.
Explicit Objections are objections that are clearly communicated by the prospect or customer or stakeholder. When it is communicated, you have an opportunity to analyze their understanding and reposition your argument. Keep in mind, only acknowledging their objection is not enough. Minimizing the emotion behind the objection is as bad as ignoring the objection. The response (whether it be social media, face-to-face, email, phone, chat etc.) must add to your credibility without appearing to be dismissive. In particular, this trait is important when you are handling outbound customer interactions. Employees who plan their call (or interaction), make a list of common objections, understand and can communicate the talking/talk-off points, typically overcome objections better. They are also better at delivering solutions that the customer desires. As they do this right, the customer or the person they are interacting with, begins to trust them.
Implicit objections are objections that exist in your prospect or customer or stakeholder’s mind (sometimes without much clarity) but are not spoken aloud. They might not be sure of what they are objecting to. It might be color or font size or something more important like the amount of re-learn they have to do. The reasons are infinite. Eliciting that information is a skill that comes with active listening and asking open-ended questions. Employees who can do this appropriately, increase their sales conversion, have lower sales cycle and can manage their work-load and WIP (pipeline) better.
Jim Keenan in his blog gives a wonderful example about overcoming implicit objection. Also a great list of typical objections that a sales rep faces and the ways to overcome them is given at this here.
Do you care about successful conversion? For example, if sales conversion is your KPI, then you should learn and measure “overcoming objection metric”. Think about the lost opportunities or delayed projects or lost sales you had, you are very likely to find that there were perhaps more than one objection that was not addressed appropriately.
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As you acquire and retain customers, do you measure the customer experience and loyalty? Most businesses measure Customer Satisfaction (CSAT). If CSAT is the key performance indicator (KPI) you manage, then you know that Demeanor shown by your employee, while interacting with your prospect or customer, is a key driver of CSAT.
We define Demeanor as the quality for verbal, written, and non-verbal communication. The four behavioral attributes for demeanor are: escalation/de-escalation factor; empathy factor; human-touch factor; and non-verbal factor. These factors are subjective behavior measures.
- Escalation/De-escalation factor: Typically customers do not reach out to you, because they are thrilled with your products and services and/or simply to engage in idle chatter. They reach out to you when they are looking to buy or they have a question or concern. Typically they are in charged state of mind. Recognizing their anxiety and their state-of-mind and responding in a calm but enthusiastic manner shows that you exercised this factor in an interaction. Employees, who know how to de-escalate and use escalation or transfer process appropriately, typically provide better resolution and customer experience.
- Empathy factor: Building rapport with your prospect or customer is an important step in customer interaction. Showing empathy and using a conversational tone are important factors that help build rapport and make the customer more open to listen to what you have to say. However, an overfriendly tone or engaging "banter for banter sake" or providing wrong information and not showing desire to address the concern can adversely impact other KPIs such as average handle time (AHT) or sales conversion or first issue resolution (FCR). Employees who effectively and efficiently empathize with the customer, provide faster and better resolution.
- Human-touch factor: Your customer craves human-attention. Whether the customer interaction is completely virtual (such as chat or social-media or web) or in-person (such as phone, face-to-face, webinar, and video), customers find comfort in perceiving and knowing that the interaction is being led with human-intelligence. Employees who show emotion and the desire "to resolve" rather than being flat, robotic, scripted and mechanical, provide better customer experience.
- Non-verbal factor: Body-language and non-verbal communication such as eye contact, smiling, showing enthusiasm are important behaviors that drive the quality of customer interaction. This is especially relevant for those interactions that are in-person, such as phone, face-to-face, webinar and video. In virtual interactions, such as chat, social media, web and email, responsiveness and acknowledgement of a customer's query or concern are the non-verbal equivalents of behaviors. Employees who effectively manage their non-verbal presence, provide extraordinary customer experience.
As a consummate change-maker and a Games-based learning pioneer, Ken Thompson writes, speaks and deploys Games to teach corporate teams, the consequences of their decisions and help them manage change in business processes. He is the managing director of BioTeams Design and Swarm Teams.
RD:> Are you a gamer?
KT:> My kids are fanatical gamers. They humiliate me all the time, when I play with them. In fact they no longer include me even when they play Xbox soccer. So! I would not describe myself a gamer.
RD:> How did you get into Games and stuff like that?
KT:> I am a social mathematician. My educational background is in mathematics. Then I worked for more than thirty years in change management. I wrote books about teams, social networks and change management. I gave a TedX talk about high-performing teams.
Over two decades, as a hobby, I have been building these models, simulations and games. In the last five years or so, my clients started asking me to commercialize these simulations and games.
Some are pure simulations. For example, I have a simulation that optimizes how one organizes a sales process; another is about determining ROI from social campaigns.
Many are games and are based on immersive-learning principles. Most of these games are paper and pencil and role-based games, i.e. hybrid or blended learning game. Typically, a game runs for a full day with a leadership team.
RD:> I completely relate. We did those for twenty years prior to starting PAKRA.
KT:> Yes! In these games, I add:
(1) Realistic and relatable constructs i.e. stories with artifacts.
(2) Then there are, what I call, “golden rules”. By “golden rules” I mean: You should “Always do this” or You should “Never do that”.
(3) Basic resource constraints.
(4) Dilemmas and conflicts. Dilemmas, such as, “I want six pack abs” and “I love chocolates”.
(5) There are, of course, roles and metrics.
(6) The component of social learning where I facilitate in-person or online.
They typically play these games for 3 rounds. The first round is to normalize the mechanics and at the end, the players will be supremely confident. Then in the second round, the unexpected happens; for example, the suppliers increase prices, the market demand collapses, competitors eat their lunch, Euro spins out of control etc. In the third round, the innovation happens. Almost all participants find these blended experiential learning as the best way to learn.
CustomerThink Founder/CEO Bob Thompson recently interviewed me....
Barbara Giamanco recently interviewed me....
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As an Agile and Lean expert and a Gamification pioneer, Michael Hugos writes and speaks passionately about Game mechanics that help enterprises achieve their goals and adapt faster to new processes, new initiatives and new technologies. He is the managing principal at SCM Globe and CIO at large at the Center for Systems Innovation.
RD:> We engaged in a conversation via LinkedIn, and I read your book, Enterprise Games: Using Game Mechanics to Build a Better Business. How do you learn?
MH:> I approach a subject with playful curiosity. This works extremely well for me. There are different ways to approach, such as grim determination, rigid discipline — or you can flee in terror after the first try. If you approach it with playful curiosity, learning retention is better and faster.
RD:> How did you gravitate toward Games, as not only the way to improve business performance, but to sustain those improvements?
MH:> I was trained as an architect. I came to Chicago to be among architectural masterpieces such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s buildings within the Loop and Oak Park. During my work as an architect, I took up computer modeling, which led me to become very interested in designing simulated complex systems. In the early ’90s, for a multi-billion-dollar company, we designed a sales-enablement system using Game mechanics, Game metaphors and simulation techniques. This project exceeded the expectations of the executive team. And it made me realize this is the best way to engage salespeople, teach and change behaviors. It led to faster adoption of behavioral changes and to sustaining those changes.
RD:> Your architectural background came through in your book.
MH:> Thank you for saying that. It helps me find the vulnerabilities that lead to a better design.
RD:> How would you measure the worth of a digital bit of information, (a) for an employee, and (b) for a business?
MH:> I think we must keep it simple. To an employee, the leadership should communicate 3–4 important objectives of the company. These objectives are typically business-performance metrics. In this context, the value of information from a digital bit is how effectively employees can achieve the performance targets by using the information. By the way, this is where real life provides design ideas for an enterprise Game.
RD:> In your book, you discuss voluntary participation and feedback loops. Can you discuss the importance of “roles” in Game design?
MH:> Roles define the types of actions a person can take. The designer needs to balance between flexibility and easy logic. If the roles are too narrowly defined, the behaviors displayed are too rigid, and the players will not get the nuances of a complex problem. If the roles are too broadly defined, it introduces unnecessary confusion. Also, allowing the roles to evolve over time is a good design principle to consider.
As a learning futurist, an educational hacker, and a game designer, Maria H. Andersen speaks passionately about how technology, Serious Games and social media are making us learn and engage faster and how these are making “learning” free to anyone who is connected digitally. Maria is the Director of Learning and Research at Instructure. She will be teaching a Canvas Network course on Social Media that starts later this month....
Wish you a very happy and prosperous 2013....
As a veteran sales leader at Linkpoint360.com and gamer, Jeff Eskow is passionate about enhancing customer experience and having a trusted advisor relationship with prospects and customers. He has helped small to medium enterprises grow. Prior to LinkPoint360, he sold variety of products and services for companies such as All-State Legal, Ultimate Office, and Paige Box Company.
RD> Jeff, thank you for taking the time to chat with us. We met on LinkedIn and over time built this wonderful relationship of being a mutual trusted advisor. What are the biggest differentiators for Linkpoint360?
JE> Our customers say that our ability to listen and respond to customer needs quickly (i.e. agility) and the personal touch behind all forms of interactions (whether it be chat, email, phone, web self-service or social) helps us acquire and retain customers. Our customer base includes large enterprises such as CocaCola, Dell, Adobe, Prudential to individual sole proprietors. Our company has done extremely well in creating the importance of personal touch.
For example, when you buy our products, an automated email goes out to the buyer, but I follow up with a personal email providing my availability and contact information and how we can help them configure and set it up correctly. Also very early on, our company recognized the value of being agile in responding to the changing needs of the marketplace. The product development, sales, implementation and customer support works hand-in-hand with complete feedback loops and no visible bureaucracy to the customer.
RD> I completely relate to what you just said. Lately you and I have been discussing on LinkedIn, how consumers or users like you and me are finding customer experience to be really so bad that we feel lucky whenever we actually experience something seamless and trouble-free.
JE> It just continually amazes me that in this economy and with all this technology, how companies accommodate sales reps or customer service reps, who don’t return phone calls, and when you call them, they say, “we will get back to you” and proceed to give a scripted non-answer” — all with an attitude “good luck with that”. It really does not take that much effort, to say, “I don’t know the answer to that, let me look into it. I will reach out to within X hours. What would be a good way to reach you?”
Sometime ago, I was installing a sprinkler system for my new house. The salesperson drove to my house to collect the payment. Then few days later, construction came to a halt because of the malfunction of this system. It took more than 5 different calls and call transfers and hours before they could find someone to talk to me. When it comes to money, they were all there with their personal touch but when it came to answering a question, it took such a long time with impersonal touch.
I see a lot of discussion about sales versus marketing misalignment. That is not the debate. The question should be, how can your company have a single-point of accountability in the entire customer experience, i.e. viewing it from a customer’s perspective. It is customer relationship in CRM not sales relationship.
Every bit needs to be aligned from buyer going to your website and calling you, to negotiating sales, to selecting you as a solution provider, to implementing/launching your product or service, to receiving customer service, to having questions answered, to having issues resolved and continuing to buy more from you. From user’s standpoint, you — the vendor have only 1 face (not 10 different faces, not 5 different departments). Accountability does not end with signing that contract and meeting your own sales quota. Best part, having this 1 face, is neither hard nor a costly effort. It is what agility-driven companies (and mind you, not dependent on the size of the company) can do very well and very effortlessly.
As a Social Marketing thought leader, triathlete and Head of Sales Solutions at LinkedIn.com, Ralf VonSosen is passionate about Technology enabling more meaningful and productive relationships among professionals. His experience spans from industry giants such as Siebel (now Oracle) and SAP, to a series of smaller companies including MarketLive, and most recently InsideView. He is a pioneer in the area of social selling and continues to be not only an active evangelist for Social Selling, but instrumental in creating the next generation of Social Selling solutions.
MD> Ralf, thank you for taking the time to talk to us today. We would love to hear more about your thoughts on the future of Social Selling and insights regarding LinkedIn.
RVS> Having lived through the evolution of CRM, and seeing how social media is changing CRM and also how social media is effecting online collaboration, I find that there is enormous opportunity for improvement.
There are great collaboration tools (and everybody uses something different) such as WebEx, Go-To-Meeting, and Skype. My theory is that, there is enough human interaction in these kinds of collaboration software, that’s it’s time to throw all the processes out the window. People logging on and off, some use the phone, some use the computer, different screens/one screen, different channels etc. There is enormous need to unify the interactions and have a new CRM mindset.
My passion is for the technology being able to create more meaningful relationships. Now, we can have these meaningful interactions and conversations and this technology enables us to get a better picture of each other and follow the relationships. They provide a new level of trust and background with that person and that can change how we approach and do business. It adds humanity and integrity to the process.
We all move on and leave behind the people we worked with in the past, but now we can have meaningful conversations with them and grow our future contacts. Technology keeps us up-to-date and reminds us of the person and our previous interactions.
MD> So true. My first question to you: Are you a gamer? If so, which are your favorites?
RVS> (Laughs.) I’m not really a gamer, but the one thing that I do play with on an intermittent basis is the Game mechanics app FourSquare . When traveling, I can take pictures and keep track of where I am going and what I am doing. My brother-in-law updates his during his travels, too, and I try to beat other peoples’ high scores. A trip to the East Coast with my family gave me a great opportunity to beat my maximum points, and now my kids wait for me to check in on FourSquare.
MD> You are competitive! I am getting a better picture of you and have an idea of how you might answer this next question: How do you learn?
RVS> I learn through doing and interacting: very experiential. I empathize with people and kids in school who learn that way. I am starting to use sproutsocial to manage all the social feeds. I was recently on a one-hour webinar where they were presenting a demo of the product and I realized I just needed to start using it hands-on and playing around with it.
What I think is so exciting about LinkedIn is that you are trying to create a new experience within the sales process. On an individual basis, you are talking about something that people are already using and are familiar with. That’s one of the things, in trying to get user adoption, is that you get this concept of “this is intuitive and they are already using it”, rather than having someone learn the nuances of another software program or system. It certainly makes life a lot easier.
MD> As you know, we effectively use LinkedIn as our primary channel of doing sales. In fact, we were discussed in a case study in a recent edition of Harvard Business Review. Last time we chatted, you and I were discussing the drawbacks of cold-calling since we can now use social tools and learn more about our potential client and how to meet their needs. That led to a conversation about using CRM programs. Can you tell me more about the connectivity of LinkedIn and CRM programs?
RVS > We provide connectivity with Salesforce.com and Microsoft Dynamics. You can integrate the two, right within your CRM, as you are working with a contact or opportunity with the account. You see all the information we have available on LinkedIn about that individual within the context of the CRM record. It really brings the two together and gives you a more unified view and message.
MD> PAKRA uses salesforce.com in which InsideView is a great value-added feature. All of this innovation has made for a much neater sales process.
You recently were brought in to lead the Sales Solutions’ marketing initiative for LinkedIn, what information can you share about the Sales Solutions?
Business relationships are not this intuitive (though I contend they should be), but let me ask you this (if you’re in a long-term relationship, think back to when you were single).
When you started dating, you had opportunities to begin and pursue relationships. How did you make the choice of which woman/man to pursue? Was it the best looking? The smartest? Maybe the most accessible or one you thought would say yes? And if you were lucky enough to have several people from which to choose, into which relationships did you invest your effort? Was it with the cutest partner? The one who seemed most likely to succeed? The one most likely to commit to you?
I’d be willing to bet you made these decisions based on some form of intuition. You probably agonized, analyzed and got lots of advice from your friends and family, but some sense of the “right” choice probably made itself apparent, and off you went.
Do you know why your customers renew their subscriptions or services? Do you know how to predict whether any given customer will renew? I suspect you probably have an answer something like, “Well, yes, but it could be better.”
So let’s make it better.
And let’s make better marketing investment decisions by doing so.
Here’s a scenario that will disturb most of you: You are happily in a long-term committed relationship. Then you meet someone interesting, attractive and with a personality similar to your current partner. You figure your current partner isn’t going anywhere, so you spend lots of time developing a new relationship with this new person. You spend time together, you spend money on gifts and activities, and you find you have common interests. You end up in a relationship with this new person. Are you still assuming your first partner hasn’t gone anywhere? I think we can all agree that’s a pretty bad assumption.
So why do we treat our customers this way?