Firstly, I must thank Cucent Sivasubramanian for inviting me to contribute a short article here. Given our long time professional association, I readily grabbed the opportunity to be here. Let me start by saying that I am not a sales guy myself, but here I am sharing some perspectives about sales guys from an HR perspective. Having worked in various industries Pharma, ITES, Farm Input and also being an academician I have been closely associated professionally or personally with sale people. I have been closely observing several sales professionals across various industries. I noticed that successful sales superstars have some x-factor in them. More specifically, I could capture 10 habits of sales superstars. They know the product and they believe in the product They try to see product from customer /consumer perspective and showcase the value - how it exactly helps the user They communicate with a touch of genuineness and invest in building trust They present themselves as "humbly confident" and not overbearing or imposing themselves They demonstrate patient listening and not in a hurry; their aggression to close the sale is more subtle. They use data and facts wherever they can to create a need for the product or to show the benefits of their product to the consumer They think on their feet and closely read the mind of the consumer to anticipate their needs, apprehensions and dynamically address them. They inculcate strong personality to cope with several rejections or accepting "NO" and stay optimistic They engage with people even after a NO or rejection ; they see it as a "deferred sale" and not as a permanently lost sale. Finally, super sales guys are very organized in their work ; they record things for future use, they manage their time very well; they maintain trackers of various contacts, leads and follow up actions. There are many other selling skills that are also essential. But I found the above list of habits as key differentiators for Super Stars in the sales profession. Dr .Raj is an HR professional with 33 years of work experience. He is the CEO of HR Footprints (www.hrfootprints.com) which advises organizations on leveraging HR capabilities to drive business growth.
Covering the last mile - What was true for Pre-COVID-19 holds more true Post Covid
Companies often bring out great products that have excellent value potential. Organizations commit themselves to customer-centric value propositions. It looks great on paper and PPTs and marketing collateral but the need to run the last mile with their ecosystem partners or Channel Partners almost always dilutes the customer value and defeats the efforts in the delivery of great customer experience. As for most of us, a home appliance is hardly an impulsive purchase. With online resources available, we do enough research to narrow our choices down to a couple. In most cases, customers prefer to experience the touch and feel before the actual purchase despite them opting for purchase online or off-line. However, I can’t personally recall one instance where the Channel Partner has not offered me a ‘better’ alternative. This holds true for most of us and our buying decisions many a time are influenced and changed at the ‘buying zone’ or point of purchase. Is your Channel Partner doing this for you? What motivates the Channel Partner, or the Channel Partner salesman to make a stronger pitch for a brand? Answers to these questions can make a huge difference to your success or the lack of it as a Channel Sales Manager. Are you geared up for the new normal? Customer’s value expectations will be better served by leveraging the value-add potential of the Channel Partner in addition to the intrinsic value in the product or solution offered by the manufacturer. What are the channel partners’ key motivation to do business with you and your brand? Are you in a position to leverage these needs for a true and successful partnership? Are his goals in sync with yours? How can you enable the required transformation in your channel partner’s business to address the challenges of the NEW NORMAL? WHATEVER WAS TRUE PRE-COVID BECOMES EVEN MORE RELEVANT POST-COVID 19…. The fundamental building blocks of a symbiotic and successful relationship not only remains the same but will need further reinforcement. With the obsession on maximizing revenue and profitability, Channel Partner managers often make the mistake of using Channel Partner partners as a convenient source of buffering with respect to business targets and objectives Is this the best option? The key elements in optimizing Channel Partner building and optimizing Channel Partner partner capabilities The 10 elements of a successful partnership: 1. Establishing TRUST: Most Channel Partner managers fall into the trap of ‘us’ vs ‘them’ in managing Channel Partner partners. While the goals and objectives may appear different, a deeper analysis reveals that they are convergent. The understanding of this convergence can transform your Channel Partner relationships and consequently business outcomes. Once the common goals are established and recognized, this forms the basis of the mutual trust between you and the Channel partner. 2. Empathize: A clear understanding of challenges faced by your Channel Partner in the marketplace and recognition of the same is an absolute must. This will be the first step in addressing the challenge, that is common to both the Channel Partner and principal. 3. Re-affirm Joint commitment to customer value: Commitment to customer value pays off in terms of business success, be it in the short term or long term. 80% of the customer journey is in the Channel Partner domain and hence it is important that your Channel Partners are true partners in the commitment to deliver customer value. 4. Enable the channel partner’s business: Maximize channel partner potential by enabling access to training and access to Subject Matter Experts. · Enable digitalization - Processes, sales monitoring and tracking, customer engagement, Micro market development, lead generation and aftermarket revenue opportunities. · Jointly review & monitor sales, pipelines, value delivered, customer satisfaction Indices. · Engage with Channel Partner staff – Formulate and implement, strong onboarding and early engagement. · Motivate with Rewards & recognition. 5. Empower stakeholders: Empower you Channel partners and their team with clarity on goals, clear guidelines on dealing with customer expectations. Be consistent enough for them to get a good understanding and feel of the Go – No go criteria. Get their buy-in on the logic and rationale of your business decisions. Encourage them to be innovative while keeping the deliverables in perspective. 6. Co-Own: Ensure that the relationship is not transactional based on discounts or margins only. Focus on the Return on Capital Employed (ROCE) for the Channel Partner as well. Co-own their business for the optimal ROCE. 7. Be Consistent: Once you have formulated your to-market strategy for the territory jointly own it with your partner. You may not always get it right, but the partner should have the assurance that you will be with them, rain or shine. This brings out the best in them. 8. Address conflicts proactively: These may be channel conflicts, conflicts in customer expectations vs delivery, performance expectations vs market conditions. Do not undermine Channel Partner credibility, be it with the market or with your own organization. 9. Be responsive: Be it a business decision that must be made on the run, or a service issue that needs to be resolved urgently, don’t leave your partners to fend for themselves. These are opportunities to reinforce the strength of your brand and the benefits of being associated with you as a partner. 10. Get your feet dirty: Don’t be a backseat driver. Partners should realize and recognize that you understand their pains and celebrate their gains. Adopting the 10 element Partnership Model has compelling Payoffs you cannot ignore…. While more than 60% of companies acknowledge that channel partners are the biggest contributors to their revenue, less than half of them have effective enablement strategies for the channel partners in terms of coaching, training and development. This results in suboptimal outcomes in terms of revenue, tapping of potential from sales opportunities, customer satisfaction and market share. A well planned & implemented partner engagement strategy can lead to: · High channel performance · Increase in NPS for your brand · Better customer value delivery · Better business planning for you and your channel partner · Better profitability for you and your channel partner And last but not least, a good channel partner can be a key source of competitive advantage. Companies often bring out great products that have excellent value potential. Organizations commit themselves to customer-centric value propositions. It looks great on paper and PPTs and marketing collateral but the need to run the last mile with their ecosystem partners or Channel Partners almost always dilutes the customer value and defeats the efforts in the delivery of great customer experience. As for most of us, a home appliance is hardly an impulsive purchase. With online resources available, we do enough research to narrow our choices down to a couple. In most cases, customers prefer to experience the touch and feel before the actual purchase despite them opting for purchase online or off-line. However, I can’t personally recall one instance where the Channel Partner has not offered me a ‘better’ alternative. This holds true for most of us and our buying decisions many a time are influenced and changed at the ‘buying zone’ or point of purchase. Is your Channel Partner doing this for you? What motivates the Channel Partner, or the Channel Partner salesman to make a stronger pitch for a brand? Answers to these questions can make a huge difference to your success or the lack of it as a Channel Sales Manager. Are you geared up for the new normal? Customer’s value expectations will be better served by leveraging the value-add potential of the Channel Partner in addition to the intrinsic value in the product or solution offered by the manufacturer. What are the channel partners’ key motivation to do business with you and your brand? Are you in a position to leverage these needs for a true and successful partnership? Are his goals in sync with yours? How can you enable the required transformation in your channel partner’s business to address the challenges of the NEW NORMAL? WHATEVER WAS TRUE PRE-COVID BECOMES EVEN MORE RELEVANT POST-COVID 19…. The fundamental building blocks of a symbiotic and successful relationship not only remains the same but will need further reinforcement. With the obsession on maximizing revenue and profitability, Channel Partner managers often make the mistake of using Channel Partner partners as a convenient source of buffering with respect to business targets and objectives Is this the best option? The key elements in optimizing Channel Partner building and optimizing Channel Partner partner capabilities The 10 elements of a successful partnership: 1. Establishing TRUST: Most Channel Partner managers fall into the trap of ‘us’ vs ‘them’ in managing Channel Partner partners. While the goals and objectives may appear different, a deeper analysis reveals that they are convergent. The understanding of this convergence can transform your Channel Partner relationships and consequently business outcomes. Once the common goals are established and recognized, this forms the basis of the mutual trust between you and the Channel partner. 2. Empathize: A clear understanding of challenges faced by your Channel Partner in the marketplace and recognition of the same is an absolute must. This will be the first step in addressing the challenge, that is common to both the Channel Partner and principal. 3. Re-affirm Joint commitment to customer value: Commitment to customer value pays off in terms of business success, be it in the short term or long term. 80% of the customer journey is in the Channel Partner domain and hence it is important that your Channel Partners are true partners in the commitment to deliver customer value. 4. Enable the channel partner’s business: Maximize channel partner potential by enabling access to training and access to Subject Matter Experts. · Enable digitalization - Processes, sales monitoring and tracking, customer engagement, Micro market development, lead generation and aftermarket revenue opportunities. · Jointly review & monitor sales, pipelines, value delivered, customer satisfaction Indices. · Engage with Channel Partner staff – Formulate and implement, strong onboarding and early engagement. · Motivate with Rewards & recognition. 5. Empower stakeholders: Empower you Channel partners and their team with clarity on goals, clear guidelines on dealing with customer expectations. Be consistent enough for them to get a good understanding and feel of the Go – No go criteria. Get their buy-in on the logic and rationale of your business decisions. Encourage them to be innovative while keeping the deliverables in perspective. 6. Co-Own: Ensure that the relationship is not transactional based on discounts or margins only. Focus on the Return on Capital Employed (ROCE) for the Channel Partner as well. Co-own their business for the optimal ROCE. 7. Be Consistent: Once you have formulated your to-market strategy for the territory jointly own it with your partner. You may not always get it right, but the partner should have the assurance that you will be with them, rain or shine. This brings out the best in them. 8. Address conflicts proactively: These may be channel conflicts, conflicts in customer expectations vs delivery, performance expectations vs market conditions. Do not undermine Channel Partner credibility, be it with the market or with your own organization. 9. Be responsive: Be it a business decision that must be made on the run, or a service issue that needs to be resolved urgently, don’t leave your partners to fend for themselves. These are opportunities to reinforce the strength of your brand and the benefits of being associated with you as a partner. 10. Get your feet dirty: Don’t be a backseat driver. Partners should realize and recognize that you understand their pains and celebrate their gains. Adopting the 10 element Partnership Model has compelling Payoffs you cannot ignore…. While more than 60% of companies acknowledge that channel partners are the biggest contributors to their revenue, less than half of them have effective enablement strategies for the channel partners in terms of coaching, training and development. This results in suboptimal outcomes in terms of revenue, tapping of potential from sales opportunities, customer satisfaction and market share. A well planned & implemented partner engagement strategy can lead to: · High channel performance · Increase in NPS for your brand · Better customer value delivery · Better business planning for you and your channel partner · Better profitability for you and your channel partner And last but not least, a good channel partner can be a key source of competitive advantage.
Know Thy Customer- Decrease costs and increase sales by targeting the right audience.
Post COVID19 when organisation are going to be on budgets squeeze and would require optimising on available marketing budgets. Analytics is going to be the rage and digital marketing for customer acquisition and follow up is going to be the way forward. Analytics is already a rage in the corporate world these days. All I can say is, it is about time they understood the importance of the right audience- Knowing thy customer. Organizations have been collecting and hoarding rafts of customer information for years, rarely using it wisely. Take the case of Max, my diabetic dog. Max, who unfortunately is no more, needed two insulin shots per day. I needed a prescription to get the pen and insulin the name on the prescription was Max the Dog. Imagine my surprise when, the first-time Max received a direct mailer from a major pharma company, which manufactures the pens. It was a flyer on how to travel with diabetes. It was a thoughtful gesture on the part of the company, a solid attempt at creating brand loyalty. But the effort was wasted on Max, as he had not any plans to jet off on a holiday any time soon--or none, for that matter. Max periodically would receive these flyers, offering tips on living with diabetes. I would always chuckle to myself when they arrived in the mail. But I would also wonder if the company would ever catch on. Surely a company of that size must have some software that ferrets out the hot prospects from those that are, well, ice cold. Alas, I'll never know. What I do know, however, is that there are myriad new and emerging technologies that are decreasing the likelihood that another person's diabetic pet will be the recipient of "targeted" marketing. There are many big companies who offer applications that gather and analyze customer information in real-time, affording companies the opportunity for true targeting, cross-selling, and upselling. The buzz around analytics suggests that companies are anxious to embrace these solutions. And none too soon. The longer companies wait, the more money they may be wasting on misguided marketing. Shortly after Aakash, my four-year-old son, and I signed up for Malaysian Airlines frequent flier program inside the flight on a vacation to Kula Lumpur, we both began receiving direct mail pieces on discount travel packages, car rental offers, etc. What surprised me about this is, while the Insulin pen company may not have had a way to surmise that Max was a dog, Malaysian Airlines must certainly know that Aakash is four. After 15,000 frequent flier miles worth of international travel, his age should be on record somewhere. I wonder how many other children are receiving costly direct mailers from airlines and other companies? Think of the long-term savings for Malaysian Airlines if the airline had waited until Aakash could read well enough to use the materials to help influence our travel decisions. Or if, instead, Malaysian Airlines sent his age-appropriate materials, like a picture of the twin tower to colour, that he could then show off, asking, "Daddy, when can we visit here?" Now is the time for companies to embrace analytics--to realize the cost savings afforded by truly targeting their marketing efforts, and to realize the sales opportunities that present themselves when sales and service representatives are armed with up-to-date, real-time, targeted customer information. For me, it will not be soon enough, and for companies like the insulin pen manufacturer and Malaysian Airlines, it is not too late.
NOBODY CAN TEACH US, BUT WE CAN LEARN TO TEACH OURSELVES
It’s time to embrace Heutagogy! You may be wondering “What is Heutagogy?” Before talking about the concept, let me give you a preface for this post. During the COVID19 pandemic, we saw every Tom-Dick-Harry hosting webinars. The street vendor (Paani-puri wala) was the only one who probably was in a hurry to get back to his home state. In this hurry, he did not think of going ‘online’ to host a webinar on how to make paani-puris or how to be a successful businessman selling pani-puris. He did not share how in his initial years, he lost everything but still had the motivation to achieve his goals. Today, he not only has the formula to make the Paani and the Puri but also the formula to succeed in this business. He also did not dole out gift boxes to the participants as others did, who joined his Paani Puri making course. I have been seeing how organisations have behaved during the lockdown period some of them were unimpressive - taking the human interactive classroom training into a sudden online mode. A knee jerk reaction to keep the employees motivated and engaged but soon the webinar fatigue started setting in and the employee turned out to be like a rabbit caught in the headlight, just staring at the monitor. On the other hand, the webinar host felt happy that he had a huge audience eagerly listening to him. I too conducted some webinar and found that just conducting or attending a webinar is not going to be a definite learning and development solution. I reiterate what I have been writing in my previous blogs, that the leaderships’ involvement is a must and they need to embed a self-determined learning culture. They need to look at the larger canvas and the opportunity to rebuild the organisation to make them future fit. They need to build into them, the core purpose of learning and development. There is a huge opportunity lying in front of them, but they need to take charge. Defining Heutagogy: Heutagogy is nothing but the self-determined learning method that will carry us through the current crisis and lead us to the other side. Recently, I read a book titled “Self-Determined Learning” Heutagogy in action (Bloomsbury Academic, 2013) edited by two academics Stewart Hase and Chris Kenyon, who not only made a substantial contribution to the content but also drew together the views of several educators and practitioners to ‘explain and explore’ this mode of learning. Heutagogy, or self-determined learning, redefines how we understand learning and provides some exciting opportunities for educators. It is a novel approach to educational practice, drawing on familiar concepts such as constructivism, capability, andragogy and complexity theory. Heutagogy is also supported by a substantial and growing body of neuroscience research. Self-Determined Learning explores how Heutagogy was derived, and what this approach to learning involves, drawing on recent research and practical applications. The editors have drawn together contributions from educators and practitioners in different fields, illustrating how the approach has been used and the benefits its use has produced. The subjects discussed include the nature of learning, Heutagogy in the organisation, flexible curriculum, assessment, e-learning, reflective learning, action learning and research, and Heutagogy in professional practice settings. The term ‘Heutagogy’ stands alongside the other learning models ‘Pedagogy’ and ‘Andragogy’. Pedagogy literally means ‘leading children.’ ‘Andragogy’ was a term coined to refer to the art/science of teaching adults. Malcolm Knowles and others theorized that the methods used to teach children are often not the most effective means of teaching adults. Essentially the ‘Pedagogical’ model is a teacher-centric model and the mode is broadcast learning (the teacher says, students listen) which is very suitable for children and ‘Andragogical’ model is a learner-centric model, suitable for adult learning with the teacher acting as a facilitator in a constructivist learning method. The teacher encourages the learner and he, in turn, interacts with his peers to gain clarity, moving forward. Russian psychologist Vygotsky recognised that learning was most effective when peers work together. He called this “The zone of proximal development” – a sense of being slightly out of your comfort zone but in no way scary or too big a challenge. Heutagogy is different in the sense that it is a teacher and a learner all in one. This is ‘self-determined learning’ where everyone is both teacher and learner. For Example, I am driven by my inner sense to look for information to learn more, hence I am the learner and the teacher too. In these times of disruption and working from home, this concept is more relevant than ever. After the WFH, it is clear that top-down management has no place in this new world. It destroys productivity and prevents individuals from becoming self-determined learners and performers. The new type of learning should be work-centric based on their role, their everyday activities and fundamentally be about sharing work practices and solving workplace problems. The leader should always ensure that conditions are in place to allow such learnings. The Leader should let them create a purpose for their existence in the organisation and build the learning requirements and drive it themselves and encourage such type of learnings. For this to be successful in the initial stages, you need to go for a blended learning model and then slowly transform it into a Heutagogical model. To sum it up, the Heutagogical approach encourages individuals to find their own problems and questions to answer. Instead of simply completing the tasks assigned, these individuals seek out areas of uncertainty and complexity in their areas of work or their role. Leaders should help by providing context to individuals' learning and creating opportunities for them to explore. Each individual signs an individualized contract that defines what he will learn, what learning methods and activities he will use, and how his learning will be assessed. ( Source: Hase, Stewart, and Chris Kenyon. Self-Determined Learning: Heutagogy in Action. Bloomsbury Academic, 2015.) #heutagogy #blendedlearning #selfdeterminedlearning #thenewlearningmodel #learninganddevelopment #hr #learningculture
SALES FORCE PRODUCTIVITY – Post COVID19 Imperatives
COVID 19 promises to be very disruptive in terms of sales processes with multi-dimensional challenges. Companies and sales leaders will need to adapt to the “new normal” on customer expectations, customer value, sales processes, Enablers, skill sets and competencies as well customer as the continuum of customer engagement in the pre-sales, Sales and post-sales zones. Organizations will need to revisit the benchmarks in sales force productivity, leveraging of marketing capabilities and digitalization initiatives, customer segmentation, pipeline management, training and competency development. Key factors influencing Post COVID19 sales force productivity will be Nuanced customer segmentation: Companies will need to adopt a higher level of granularity in their customer segmentation. Organizations with mature data analytics and capture of VOC will have a head start. While others will do well to build their capabilities, the new approach to segmentation and customer segment focus will pay handsome dividends. Market coverage: Companies will need to optimize their sales capabilities to the hilt. Business outcomes will be better served by structuring market coverage based on potential instead of broad market segments or geography. Ownership: Sales force capabilities particularly in B2B business need to be built to enable the sales team to take end-to-end ownership of the sales process, with effective leveraging of support capabilities available within the organization. Customer engagement: Post COVID19 constraints on opportunities for one to one customer or stakeholder engagement will require a high degree of adaptability on part of the sales team. Sales conversations will need to be focused on the payoff zones including identification of need, customer relevant value, clear communication of the “relevant value” proposition, closure and prepping for future demand. Digital platform for learning: Sales leaders will need to engage their sales teams and empower teams with learning modules that are experiential and enable learning “on the run” as against instructional learning methodologies. Digital platforms can be leveraged to offer “Snackies” or micro learning provides the platform for acquiring skill sets and honing of competencies required for the role. External resources or partners can add immense value in with customized learning offerings delivered as snackies. The learning platform can be enabled for on-line as well as off line learning modules with interactive engagement that enhances sales team capabilities. Leaders Involvement: will need to take on the role of co-drivers within the organizations in driving operational resilience, response to changing customer expectations, organizational agility and identifying the Opportunities in the crisis.
Post COVID19, Leadership Behaviours have to be different
COVID19 has given a lot of time and opportunity to interact with business and academic leaders. I was surprised to find how some look at the darker side of COVID19 and some see a great opportunity and light post COVID19. The assessment analyses the seven behaviours of a successful leader during a crisis. 1. Communicative: Communicates clearly, concisely, and in a timely manner, engaging the right people at the right time to inspire action. 2. Resilient: Thinks quickly and decisively, responding with composure, optimism, and hardiness. Remains energetic and perseveres through challenges. 3. Innovative: Embraces challenges and changes calmly and thinks outside of the box to push the organization forward. Quickly adapts to changing circumstances and communicates any concerns. 4. Strategic: Nimbly adapts strategies and processes, anticipating problems and addressing them quickly. Proactively seeks information and coach others to think creatively as well. Adjusts as needed while clearly communicating process changes and expectations. 5. Influential: Proactively gathers input from diverse sources and understands the impact of the decision on all groups impacted by the crisis. Confidently makes decisions and holds themselves accountable to the outcomes, developing well-thought-out steps to ensure that the decision is sound and meets the prescribed criteria. 6. Supportive: Inspires others through clear direction, positive connections, and decisive judgment. Encourages teams to maintain meaningful and positive interactions while also acting quickly in a time of crisis. 7. Humane: Post COVID-19, the markets will see a lot of layoffs and business losses. A leader must be truly human and sensitive in understanding its impact on people, due to the fear surfacing in their actions. He should be compassionate and sensitive towards such behaviours exhibited. Also, he must be caring by demonstrating a sincere interest and have genuine respect for others, learning how to manage their own emotions and feelings. Even if the leader does imbibe these behaviours, the most important thing about the crisis is when a crisis strikes, it comes with a package of good and bad things. Great leaders choose the good facets of it and let go of the residual bad effects. #leadership #COVID19leadership #crisisleadership #typesofleadership
In 1975, much of a company’s valuation was based on tangible assets. Four decades later, this percentage had dropped to just single digits. Where did that valuation go? To intellectual property, goodwill and brand recognition. Customer experience (CX) is fundamental to an organization’s success. But having a brand experience in the entire journey is impossible if the company’s employees do not have a customer-centric mindset and aren’t motivated to keep customers happy. In business, CX is the outcome of an interaction between an organization and a customer over the duration of their relationship journey. ... Customer experience can be defined as the internal feelings and the subsequent actions of the customers that might be in line with the company either directly or indirectly. According to our experience, most of the companies now must compete primarily based on the experience they provide customers as technological differentiations are minimal. And in a B2B scenario 90 out of 100 executives listed customer experience as a strategic initiative. While this may not come as a surprise to many, these studies show that organizations are struggling to deliver on their customer experience initiatives. Focusing on target customers by sales promotion, schemes, discounts etc. can give short-term results if companies ignore their most credible advocates — their own employees including the last mile (the so-called Business and Service Partners/Channel Partners). After all, who knows the company better? A study conducted by a leading research agency shows a growing movement spurred by social media — employee activism. These activists through their actions, both on and offline draw visibility. Twenty percentage are already highly engaged and can act as role models for others to follow. One third are open to becoming stronger brand advocates given the right atmosphere. Today, it’s not enough to have happy employees — they must be fully integrated to act on your behalf. There’s a tremendous potential to make the customer journey a good experience through employee engagement by continuing to engage employee engaged and move advocates to activists. Not using these employees is a missed opportunity to organically grow more internal supporters and possibly counter critics who would otherwise disrupt the business. Whether employees face the customer or operate in the back office, they’re an important source of customer experience and often have contributed to improving your products and processes. If employees aren’t an important cog in the wheel, it can affect your bottom line. The employee happiness and a company’s financial performance can be easily linked to the good performance of the organisation and the subsequent return of the customer for more services. This enhances the brand value through the perceptional eye and the mind of the customer. With the easy access to social media, it doesn’t take too long for unhappy customers to voice their opinions about their dissatisfaction with your product or expose an unhappy interaction with an employee. Employees need to be sensitised and developed emotionally around a customer experience initiative. No amount of software to capture data or tempting the customer through discounts and other offers will deliver results. Companies should capture, promote and track employee advocacy relative to the customer experience. For any organization to find customer experience success they first need to engage, educate and empower their employees by incorporating the following steps: 1. Don’t mandate engagement — but inspire it. Don’t expect your employees to embrace your brand and be advocates for your organization if they don’t know the vision of the organisation and how to take it forward. A clear vision inspires employee engagement, fosters customer engagement, and helps boost company performance — among other benefits. Continual communication between the vision and value of the brand is critical for employees to perform their role in making the customer experience successful for everyone. 2. Show how employees fit into your overall strategy. By just communicating the brand value and telling them the importance of good customer experience does not make the customer-centric but ensuring they are armed with the right tools and training to enhance customer experience is a more holistic approach. Employees need to know how their role contributes in driving customer experience and how it fits into the strategies of the firm. They should also know how their attitudes and behaviours need to be more responsible to ensure a successful customer experience. Why? Because with the change in customer dominated markets customers now have even higher expectations. Conducting regular team meetings may not be a solution to the issue but during that time making people share the good and the bad experiences that their customers had and then incorporate roleplaying exercises in the context of the customer journey helps employees understand not only how they fit into the role and sensitise the importance of customer experience but also how their colleagues fit. 3. Give them authority with some boundaries. Keeping people engaged and advocating for your brand means giving them some autonomous authority to make the difference between OK customer experience and great customer experience. People inherently need to feel that they’re contributing value to the organization. Without that, what do you have? A disengaged workforce doesn’t bode well for the customer or the organization. Establish clear guidelines as to what that freedom is and under what circumstances decisions can be made on behalf of achieving high customer satisfaction. Find examples where employee activism resulted in an excellent customer journey and communicate across the organization to develop role models for others to emulate. Deciding to take this strategic approach to ensure your employees understand their roles in customer experience is your first step toward helping your brand advocates become your brand activists. Companies that excel at customer experience have twice as many engaged employees as companies that lag in customer experience, as revealed in a study by large Group. Inspire your employees by establishing a culture where they recognize that they are all responsible for delivering a quality experience to every customer and they are brand creators. #customer #customercentric #customerservice #customerexperience #CX #service #cucent #cucentriclearning #customercentricemployees #customercentricculture
Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mould your character. However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily. Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do daily starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits. Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech. Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems. In this article, you will learn why it isn’t easy to build new habits, and how to change habits. What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit? To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior. Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of. Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you. The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking. A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it. Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control. So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious. Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden. Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time. Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all. Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them. The Psychology Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations. Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality. A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray. Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit. By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it. Observational learning is another way habit could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does. What Can You Do to Change a Habit? Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits. Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you: 1. Identify Your Habits As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake. 2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress, or does it give you some pain relief? It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it. 3. Apply Logic You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you. Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits. 4. Choose an Alternative As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit. Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you. 5. Remove Triggers Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit. Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings. 6. Visualize Change Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop. For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby. 7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit. Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same. Final Thoughts Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change! Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.
5 Ways to make "WFH" more Productive and Efficient
COVID19 has suddenly put us on a worldwide lockdown and most companies are asking their employees to work from home. The CORONA virus has given a new dimension in the work-related domain and a new acronym ‘WFH’. Being efficient, working from home can be a challenge. There are tons of distractions, less accountability, and less communication than when you’re working in the office. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. There are lots of ways to keep yourself working productively from any location. Whether you work from home every day, a couple of times per week, or even if you’re just working from home while you recover from an illness, these tips can help you to get the most out of your remote work hours. You won’t believe how much you can get done in a day! 1. Keep yourself to a regular work environment This is the first step stick to a routine to ensuring productivity while working from home. It’s tempting to give yourself total flexibility as to when you get started, take breaks, and call it a day. But you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t keep yourself to at least some amount of consistency. Setting yourself consistent hours keeps you accountable to yourself and your work. It makes you more likely to get all your work done, and it also makes it easier to get in touch with you. Here are the important factors to consider when you’re setting an at WFH schedule: When your boss needs you to be available Communication with your co-workers and customers Time of day when you are most productive Many home workers will tell you about the importance of just getting dressed. Just because we can lounge around in our pyjamas, it doesn’t mean we should. A good idea could be to take a shower, get dressed and maybe even take a short walk before you set up in front of your computer for the day. 2. Keep work time and personal time separate Just as it’s important to work when you say you will, it’s important to give yourself time off when you’ve promised it. Don’t extend the workday too far beyond what you planned, at the risk of burning yourself out. Keeping work time and personal time compartmentalized also helps you keep productive while you’re at work and reduces stress when you aren’t at work. In the same way that you scheduled your work hours, schedule, communicate and plan when you will not be available to work. For example, if you like to take evenings to spend time with family, make sure you communicate that you aren’t available for work during that time. And then hold yourself to that commitment! 3. Designate a specific working space When I first started as a consultant, I made the mistake to work from my bedroom. Very soon the bedroom became connected with nothing but work. It’s an understatement to say that it pretty much ruined my sleeping patterns. So, a top tip I have learned is to designate a space for work only. Supporting work from home is an easy employer decision for the staff able to be productive with a laptop and a smartphone. But your home might be less prepared when it comes to having a functional home office. Find the best table and chair combination that gives you the best working position. If you can, invest in a comfortable chair and of course watch out for ‘tech neck’. Meaning if you can’t use an external screen, at least try to put your laptop on a pile of books to give your neck some rest. Maybe even stand up while on conference calls. Plan to set-up and tear down your work environment daily. You need a suitable location to go to, without making your family go crazy with permanent offices in multiple locations across your home. If you are for the first time working from home, see if you can agree to set some ground rules with people around you. I have given up the negotiations with my Kids, but my wife/mother and I are starting to get into nice sync now that we have agreed on our personal space. If this is not done you may become an errand boy at home. 3. Plan your workflow One sure-fire way to keep productivity up is to get smart about planning your workday. Before you even start working, make sure you know what your priorities are for the day, how long you think it will take you to get everything done, and what you will work on if you have extra time. You might find it helpful to take a few minutes before you go to bed to plan for the next day. You may find that you sleep better without the stress of planning in the back of your mind. If you find that planning before bed keeps you awake, try making plans for the day while you eat breakfast or exercise before work. In your planning, consider the following: Do the highest priority tasks first Plan your day around your natural cycles–do the hardest work when you have the most energy throughout the day Plan yourself rewards and breaks throughout the day 4. Ramp up the communication A lot of people reading this won’t be an extrovert like me. But even for introverts in times like these, connecting with colleagues is probably more important than you think. One of the best things about working in an office is the potential for collaboration and socialization. We normally spend most of our time in proximity to our colleagues, which makes it easier to stay in sync more effortlessly. Now with the proximity gone, you don’t have to lose this just because you are working from home. Try to check in with your co-workers at least a couple of times per week, whether by email, phone, Skype, or even in person. We need to be mindful to keep those communication lines open. Luckily today there are tons of tools available to help us with video calls, digital chats and even digital whiteboards or collaboration programs. Make sure you keep up on a personal level as well as a professional level. You can do this without taking a lot of time–just share the most important things and encourage your co-workers to do the same. 5. Be your janitor Unlike in the office, you don’t have housekeeping staff to clean up after you, which means you must do it yourself. Keeping your home office clean helps you stay focused, get organized, and be productive. Even if you’re someone who isn’t bothered by a messy desk, keeping some semblance of order helps ensure that nothing important falls through the cracks (or gets lost in a stack of paper, as is more likely). However, this tip goes beyond just keeping your home office clean. Having a messy home could inspire you to procrastinate on work tasks in favor of cleaning–which is bad news for your productivity. Setting yourself a weekly cleaning schedule can help you keep on top of cleaning your home, so you won’t be tempted to clean during work hours. Make sure to schedule regular tidying of your home office! #workfromhomehashtag #workanywherehashtag #letsworktogetherhashtag #remoteworkerhashtag #remoteofficehashtag #remoteworkforcehashtag #flexibleworkhashtag #remoteworkershashtag #worksmarternotharder
Customers are the most important part of any business because they are the lifeblood of your company. Without your customers, it is safe to assume you wouldn’t be in business at all. As the summer draws nearer, your relationship with your customers could go one of two ways: · It could increase and result in high engagement · it could decrease and you could lose touch with your target demographic. Engaging with your customers is great for your marketing initiatives and for bettering your business overall. The more contact you have with the people who support your business, the more successful your business will become. Your customers are more likely to refer their friends if you have high engagement with them, so the more you connect with your consumer base, the more traction your business will gain! Customer engagement is easier than ever due to social media. Reaching out to customers via your various social platforms will definitely increase your customer engagement levels, especially if you offer special promotions and campaigns. Here are a few tips on how to increase your customer engagement levels this summer! 1.) Build a Group Building groups on your social media platforms that are designated as help groups or fan groups for your products or services is an easy and effective way to interact with and engage with your customers. You can create forums on Reddit or create groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+. Not only does this allow you to interact with your customer base but it also gives your consumers an opportunity to interact with each other and share their experiences. 2.) Be Assertive Rather than coming on too strong or aggressive with your consumers, try to have an assertive communication style. This means all of your conversations with customers are a two-way road where you actively listen and then proactively build off of what you heard from your customer. This is the best way to solve any disputes or issues. 3.) Host a Contest Contests and campaigns are heavily used in social media marketing for one particular reason: They work and they work well. Offering customers a prize for simply engaging with you on social media is an amazing incentive that is sure to get most of your target demographic talking. If your business has a highly visual aspect, host a contest on Instagram where your brand followers have to repost your products and tag you to be entered to win. This gets your brand out to all of their followers and garners your business credibility because consumers are helping spread the word rather than advertisers. 4.) Ask Questions The best way to get responses from your followers and customers is to pose a question on your social media platforms, especially Twitter. Many Travel portals pose open-ended positive questions that are relevant to Travelers on their Twitter account biweekly. Amazon asks a trivia question each week to get our customers talking. As a general rule, make sure you are posing thoughtful, real questions that will give your target demographic something interesting to talk about, be involved in, and help them as consumers! 5.) Commission a Case Study Bringing in a sample size of your target demographic to request feedback is a great option when it comes to engaging your customers. This way you have direct contact with your consumer, and they can ask you specific questions about your products or services. 6.) Celebrate You can always host a party to celebrate your business and your loyal customers. When your business reaches milestones, you should reach out to your consumer base because they are the people who got you to where you are today. Celebrate your success with your customers, and make sure they know this is your big thank you to them! 7.) Beef Up Your Content Offering your customers exclusive content that can increase their knowledge of your industry, services, or products is a great way to gain their trust and engage with them, as well. If you offer your target demographic content on your blog and website that isn’t available anywhere else, you are sure to garner a large following. Creative and exclusive content can also ramp up your organic website visits as well as SEO. You can make your content exclusive by requiring users to subscribe to your blog site; however, this doesn’t mean you have to charge for subscriptions. You are soliciting readers’ emails in order for them to have access to your content. 8.) Promote Your Customers CRED and Google Pay features a customer each week on their app as well as on some social media platforms in order to give them recognition for being loyal. By promoting your customers, you are giving them an even bigger reason to keep returning to your business. You can also promote the charities they choose to support! 9.) Respond to Reviews Although all of your social media reviews may not be positive, these are some of your best opportunities to reach out and engage with customers. Always monitor your business reviews and make the extra effort to reach out to writers of negative reviews because it gives you an opportunity to fix their bad experience with your business or at the very least apologize and promise it will never happen again. 10.) Create Product Tours Product tours that explain to your customers the full benefits of your products and services are a great way to reach out to your consumer base and engage them. You can easily create a tour of your business and upload it to your free YouTube account. It is sure to garner you a lot of attention once you post it on all of your social media platforms. Engaging with your customers is an extremely important part of running any business. Not only does engagement allow you to reach out and give your customers better service but it also gives you the opportunity to understand what aspects of your business need more attention. Social media offers a very inexpensive way to get into contact with the people who keep your business running, so make your website contains links to all of your social platforms! #clientsatisfaction #customerengagement