It is the delivery system, stupid that impacts the new normal

Nowadays, your are reading more and more we read about explanations why technology is stirring up society and dusted organizations.

How sad, is it not?

by Vanilla and lace on Flickr.

It is your job that is at stake. As is your organization and any institution that must adapt.

Are you middle-class? It will be hard to thrive in this ago of disruption.

Do you belong to the happy few? Chances are that your wealth in spite of all of the crises has increased substantially in the last few years.

We all witness that technology enabled us to move away from traditional concepts to the re-invention of goods, services and experiences

It is not that old technology stuff hat has lost its relevance; it’s the underlying delivery system. Due to to the rise of technology and social in one’s personal and professional lives.

The rise of new delivery concepts

As a service designer, contemplating about  the intersection of business and technology, I realize how essential it is to understand and adapt to enabling technology. But for me, it is not about technology. It is about grasping how we are moving to a service based economy and its consequences. Not only for the business context, but also for the political and societal consequences.

One-way street

From a theoretical point of view, the use of technology might deliver more profitable corporate  environments, better aligned with the functional and emotional needs of your employees and the rationale for the company. Applying relevant targeted concepts and being able to transfer these concepts to the working environment and professional lives.

However, things have changed.

Your customer, your client, your employees do no longer accept – in spite of all the state of art technology – a one way street of coordination and communication. In almost every business context service elements dominate now the way of creating value. Value is created in an excellent symbiose between the client and the organization (and often, there fits technology).  People, citizens everywhere are demanding that they have a say in the way their experiences are created.

A new challenge: the ecosystem

Was everything just that simple. To be truly successful one has to reframe the landscape in which you operate. Reframing is more than an insight: it is about shifting your fundamental thoughts about how the world works. Getting equipped with a sound reframe, companies and institutions can discover new value creation opportunities in many markets.  Delivery is not limited to a the traditional core business. Profits can be made in other often

by Halley Alexa

loosely coupled markets.

Sounds good, is it not?

But what is possible for you, is also possible for all participants in all other ecosystems.

New economics

Economics will always be governed by the rules of supply and demand. But in the new normal needs and service based solutions will pave the way to a profitable future.

Any way, it is up to you.  You do need some beliefs to chart a path to a better future . And in the new normal, for me acting like a strategic service designer, and not merely being a technology fan, will be your ultimate weapon.

 


 

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How not to live in old school marketing

The core

The Marketing Agency Blueprint  presents 10 rules for building tech-savvy, hybrid agencies that will disrupt and transform the marketing services industry.

Written for agency leaders and professionals—PR, SEO, advertising, content and web—readers are presented with a practical and candid guide to:

  • Generate more qualified leads.
  • Win clients with set pricing and service packages.
  • Secure more long-term retainers.
  • Create diverse and recurring revenue streams.
  • Develop highly efficient management systems.
  • Construct more effective account teams.
  • Recruit and retain top talent.
  • Deliver greater results and value to clients.
  • Increase client loyalty.

 

About Paul Roetzer

Paul Roetzer is founder and CEO of PR 20/20, a Cleveland-based inbound marketing agency, specializing in public relations, content marketing, search marketing and social media. PR 20/20 was the first agency in HubSpot‘s value-added reseller (VAR) program, which now includes more than 250 certified firms.

Prior to launching PR 20/20 in 2005, Paul spent six years as a consultant and vice president at a traditional public relations agency.

“I Live With Ghosts” by Graham Dunn

His book, The Marketing Agency Blueprint, serves as a guide for building tech-savvy, hybrid agencies that are more efficient, influential and profitable than traditional firms.

He is a speaker, writer and advocate for change and innovation within the public relations and marketing industries, and a frequent contributor to the PR 20/20 blog.

In 2010, he was recognized by Smart Business with an Innovation in Business Rising Star.

New school marketing

Some claim that marketing’s of the last 5 years beats the changes of the last 50 years. This book supports the thesis that marketing and pr is indeed changing. With a focus on technology, value driven activities and a sound orientation on measurable results.

A marketeer in the Mad Men era was a talker. Reading this book you have to admit that marketeers have to adhere to the highest professional levels to survive and thrive.

Management of small enterprises too

Roetzer has an opinion about how firms are rewarded  by their customers and how customers should evaluate their supplies. Roetzer is an evangelist for tangible, smart services, charging

missmacross:

not the input but the results.  Focus on results (outcomes); no longer services delivered/outputs.

New school management

Roetzer’s The Marketing Agency Blueprint inspired me to reconsider some basic thoughts about entrepreneurships, startups and managing small firms. Having a corporation background, i have to admit that some of my beliefs about management and marketing are that wrong (valuation of an agency). Thank god, some of my insights are also supported in the book (have the best talent, data-driven operations).

This book will make you feel uncomfortable and exhausted. Those who have aspirations for leadership in an agency must read this book. Be aware, it has a lot of checklist and to do’s. But be sure you need those to thrive in an era of change.

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Digital means: it must be fast

Investing in algorithms is paramount in web design tools. That was one of my conclusions in my post Yabba-Dabba Do or here comes WebYdo.

Welcome to the real world

In the Netherlands I’m subscribed to a monthly called Telecommerce. Such a name creates impressions of the late 90’s. That’s why the publishing company decided to restyle all associated touchpoints. The rebranding of the offline version took some effort but is there; rebranding of the online version not yet because as the chief editor stated “ICT”.

sentimental-geek)

Recently I read about a public institution that is aiming to relaunch its website september 2015. Yes, indeed 18 months after today.

Bye bye old world

Not being able to deliver with a certain speed, a lack of ICT-skills  and not being able to innovate, is indeed something of the late ’90’s.
But your world has transformed.
Underlying the transformation in the business and professional world (and admit it, in your private life too) are two major forces:

Speed of change

The rate of change has exploded, creating a demand for technology driven concepts. Your customers live in  real-time world. They demand real-time solutions,  integrated as much as possible online, offline and with all relevant social networks.

Control of scarce time

Customers choose where and when to interact with brands. If possible on their mobile devices. Lacking time, they prefer touch points that are state of the art and create an impression of the near future. Companies must anticipate to meet those changing customers need.
My two real-world examples deny that the business world has changed.   One might wonder  how business addresses topics like digital business transformation , mobile or omni-channel-service in such a paradigm.

Hello new world

To give a right answer to the above-mentioned forces, I’m an advocate of agile development and continuous improvement.

  • Apply the principles of agile development across all business functions.
  • Adapt and accelerate processes to keep up with and take advantage of rapid technological change.
  • Embrace the power of networks, platforms and partnerships.
  • Adopt next-generation technology to reach your business, professional and personal goals.
As a fact of life: enterprises and organizations need to reshape themselves to become faster and, often, that goes for digital touch points, its content and services too. Some claim that to achieve success this requires a fair amount of planning, meetings and reporting.

Rachel Palmer

However, for me design thinking and service design are superior to such an approach.

The focus on human needs (emotional and functional) requires that discovery, defining and design are the fundamental steps before developing and deploying the touch points. Steps taken as fast as possible.

The growth of design thinking is a fine example for how tech-development-only approaches can become nimble.

In our old world, it was always about big projects, huge project failure rates and pushing the outdated technology concepts into the market over the course of time (too late, too little functionality).

In the new world, there are touch points that are constantly changing. Our world has become about nonstop adoption with multiplying possibilities. You can not connect to an emerging social network once in a year. If you do, you run the risk of becoming irrelevant.

What’s crucial is an entrepreneur’s mindset.

Their agile and lean mindset is necessary when it comes to be successful in today’s world. For your successful future, use the tools and services that bridge the divide between traditional approaches and the new digital reality.

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Teach your employees well: treat them like your customers

For sale: classrooms

When was it that you attended a course in a classroom?
Probably a long time ago.

KRISTIANA VASARINA – UK Fashion and Lifestyle Blog: WILDFOX


Nowadays in customer case training specialists can transform their young professionals into excellent performers by creating a perfect blend of internal stuff and exercises, supplemented with the abundance of available educational resources on the web, social and professional networks. in my opinion, customer service agents training should be structured around these external elements with a proper inclusion in the curriculum and training milestones. Structuring your training contents has other positive outcomes: your agents will become aware of how their customers behave on their search for information. In such a way  an external mindshift will dominate the internal focus, which is often the underlying theme in customer service training

Many concepts have become available

Customer service organisations may embed webinars in the external knowledge transfer process. Webinars are often free, available on demand, can be stopped and replayed if necessary and are place, channel and time independent. With such characteristics you have to admit that these are indeed incredibly efficient training resources. On the negative side,  a webinar can not be tailored to your companies needs. A perfect fit into your company courses might imply some rework,Being a passionate book reader i always state the value of great books. In customer service many us are familiar with popular management books. Readable in a hour, fine exercises and often creating breakthroughs in a team culture and personal attitude. I still love  the story of the world famous Pike Place Fish market.  Create for your team or classes recommended reading lists and even consider starting an e-book library. In case there is (and be sure, it is) there is a a lack of time, considering sharing outlines (free available on the internet and http://www.slideshare.com). Or pay for the services of the Berlin start-up http://www.blinkist.com: a perfect source of inspiration for your middle management.
Real-time sharing is also a fine teaching tool. In case senior managers share their activities, their goals and feelings on the internal network, anyone can benefit. Sharing good and bad news, recommendations with regard to resources, blogs to read and sources of inspiration on twitter.Invite some of your raving customer fans to real time sharing. Tools like yammer are free available.
Why do you not role playing in a live environment. Not in the classroom but in front of peers, customers and managers.

KRISTIANA VASARINA – UK Fashion and Lifestyle Blog: WILDFOX


Sounds probably intimidating? But be sure: it is the best way to creating meaningful experiences, enabling your staff to alter their behavior and improve their performance.

In these days of  MOOC’s (massive online open courses), check out  excellent online resources. Build your internal curriculum around these free elements. There are some limitations (e.g. the dominant use of the English language).  Participating in the course,  establishing new relationships with course attendants are powerful knowledge and confidence boosters
Another fine example of training your staff is using group exercises. Assign challenges to teams (a blend of all departments and if appropriate customers and leads), have a great kickoff, meet again to share the gained insights, learning from each other. Use technology like the before mentioned yammer, basecamp or walk.me .

A means to

Analyze critically how you train your customer service staff. Are you using state of the art concepts or are you still adhering to the obsolete black board. Can it be done more efficient and deliver you productivity gains. And most of all, will it contribute to more customer and employee satisfaction.

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Ever wanted to be beaten in a game?

The fall of corporate training

One of the many enterprise battlefields will be the market of corporate training in the forthcoming years.

Many corporate training concepts still have their roots in classroom-concepts with a central spokesperson (trainer or coach), an emphasis on group work, interaction between participants and role plays.

Scanning on google trends for corporate training, one can notice the loss of relevance of corporate training in the old world and the rise of the concept in the emerging countries.

How sad, is it not?

It is not corporate training that has lost its relevance; it’s the underlying delivery system. Due to to the rise of technology and social in one’s personal and professional lives. And probably also the shifting relationships between employees and employers.

The rise of new delivery concepts

For me a fine reference with regard to corporate training is a 2013 Accenture report: a survey with perspectives on training. Executives are continuing to use new methods of delivering training to employees: mobile delivery, social, MOOC‘s and gamification.

Gamification in corporate training

lajoiedespetiteschoses

From a theoretical point of view, the use of the concept of games might deliver more stimulating training environments, better aligned with the functional and emotional needs of your employees and the rationale for the company. Applying relevant targeted concepts and being able to transfer these concepts to the working environment and professional lives.

Sebastian Deterding defines gamification as the use of game design elements in a non-game context. To understand gamification you have to assess how to apply gamified applications in relation to your company’s goals, the course objectives and what game elements are embedded within the course concept. From the perspective of the employee the distinction between gamification in a company course and regular entertainment games (e.g Candy Crush) is that company objectives reign the course content and course elements. And therefore, gamification will use elements of games but ultimately are not designed to create wonderful gaming experiences.

In a training context, Dweck’s theory of motivation is very relevant.  In a former life as manager, our staff members were praised as a team, the effort was more important than the actual result and there was a focus on continuous improvement (yes, i used to be a contact center manager). But there is even more: using games without a business or professional context will always be a waste of money and time. In a level-based gamification training system, the goal of merely surpassing levels will not be relevant for many of your employees.

A new challenger: Wheeldo

Shani Kleiner

I recently chatted with Shani Kleiner about their concept. Wheeldo aims to be more than corporate training. They claim that their concept of gamification can also be applied to internal communication and marketing. After the chat i got an invitation and a info pack. I was challenged to play some games and was invited to share my thoughts about the concept. In line with the assumption that corporate training concepts will be disrupted, I realized that the kind of concepts (Wheeldo is still in beta) will impact the corporate training experience. The concept needs some iterations (e.g. look and feel, more personalisation and more real time interaction). Using the package, one can create much better learning experiences, collaboration and deployment of insights to the workplace as a team or as an individual. Ultimately, the success of Wheeldo will depend whether it supports reducing training, marketing or internal communication costs  and simultaneously increasing the competences of the staff, company engagement and – in case it is applied within a marketing environment-  to increase profitable turnover.

As far as I understood , the underlying idea still is that trainers develop the games, manage  the aspects of the game and deploy the content to the gamers. One can imagine that employees can define their own games, using market places or third party vendors.

After understanding the concept, i looked for its successful application in a corporate training environment. I can imagine using the concept with employees focusing in improvement by getting things better done without claiming external rewards. Or employees sharing external news or teaching others new working methods and concepts.

For me, Wheeldo will be successful if playing the game will be more important than playing to win. And in such a way it has the potential to transform certain elements of corporate training.

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How to Reduce Attrition in your Customer Service Agents

Bio: Amy Clark is the lead author and editor of two customer service blogs – I Want It Now, which examines the era of instant gratification, and  Self Service Central, which provides her thoughts on how best to help customers assist themselves online . She also serves as Customer Success Director at WalkMe.

Owning a company means more than just throwing employees into the structure and expecting them to do what they are supposed to. Your employees need guidance and structure to be able to function. If they do not have this then they are bound to leave the company or get fired for doing something wrong. There are different ways to make sure that your agents and employees are doing what they are supposed to and you are retaining more employees than you are turning them over.

Attendance

expeditum:

Attendance is one of the many things that needs to be handled and taken control of. Many companies do not have a strict attendance policy or they do not stick to this policy. A great company will have an attendance policy that has consequences when it is not followed. It is important to make sure that your employees understand the attendance policy and you can do this by asking them to read and sign it.

In addition to the consequences of not following an attendance policy, you should reward the employees who do. Recognize a division or even team of employees who maintain perfect attendance for the quarter. You can also reward individual employees who maintain perfect attendance for the year or whatever time frame you choose.

Responsibility

Making sure that the responsibility among the departments is equal and shared will help reduce the turnover rate in a company. When employees feel comfortable relying on each other for answers, they will become better employees and also make friendships within the workplace. Customers will be able to receive answers quicker.

Recognition

A company that recognizes its employees will breed better employees as well. Employees like to be recognized when they do something positive and letting everyone know about how awesome this employee is will boost their self-esteem and also encourage other employees to strive to be better.

It is important though to speak with your employees first because some of them may not like to be recognized in front of the majority. They may be more comfortable with a simple pat on the back and being told good job. Never embarrass your employees.

Celebrations

Celebrations are a great way to keep employees motivated and working towards a goal.

armedskeeter

At the beginning of every month or quarter, you can set a goal for the company or each individual department. Once this goal is reached, the employees will be rewarded with a department event, gift card, or something of the like.

This is a great way to boost the motivation in the departments and also achieve the goals of the company at the same time. When your employees are doing well, the company is doing well.

Growth

It is important for the company to always grow and develop. If your customers feel like the company is not growing or improving, they will end up seeking out new employment. This also means that employee promotions need to be handed out as well. Employees want to know they are achieving progress and making progress within the company. If they are stuck in one position then they will find another company who will allow them to move forward and reach bigger goals.

Technology

Making it easy for employees to work in the call center is somewhat the most important factor. If they have an easy and enjoyable experience during their day, it’s more likely that agents will be happy to work there. Tools such as WalkMe are ideal for showing the wonders of technology and its simplicity in the day to day running. This clear, simple and engaging enterprise class platform help employees to use the products with ease. This also has massive time saving affects. These step by step guidance tools can guarantee lower attrition because the software the agents are using won’t be the reason why they are not happy in the work place.

It is important to implement different strategies into your company to help retain your employees. Employee retention is just as important as customer retention. Treating your employees with care and respect will ensure that you will have employees who like showing up to work and achieving the goals of the company. As milestones in the company are reached make sure to reward everyone involved to boost the motivation.

Photocredits: armedskeeter, expeditium

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How to thrive, even on Blue Monday

pedalfar:Edinburgh by *pure-insomnia on deviantART

Edinburgh by *pure-insomnia on deviantART

Probably, you were aiming for a 4-star WOW-start this year.

And now, gradually all has changed.

May be even better, all things of the past seem to remain unchanged.

Not a problem, in case you thrive and everything is fine. But did you not reflect to make a WOW-start because you did aim for that new thrill, that improvement and all its associated kicks and benefits.

To change has magical elements, but it not magic.

To  change one needs skills and a certain attitude.

This was one of the inspiring thoughts I keep in memory after reading “Creative Confidence” by Tom Kelley, the author of The art of innovation and David Kelley, founder of IDEO and Stanford D.School.

Tom and David express their creative ideas in such a way that fixed beliefs alter. Such as an assumption that creativity and innovation are the domain of the “creative types.”

How wrong one can be. Everyone of us can be  creative.

You have to believe that learning and growth are possible. As the authors say” In other words, you need to start with what Stanford psychology professor Carol Dweck calls a growth mindsetIndividuals with a growth mindset, Dweck says, believe that a person’s true potential is unknown (and unknowable)“. The authors claim boldly that we can expand our capabilities through effort and experience.

Such a growth mindset is the full opposite of a fixed mindset. A fixed mindset that constraints you to your current comfort zone and limits your future creative success.

Order the book. Take a day off and read the book. Get a new order and never, never have any kind of blue mondays again.

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Yabba-Dabba Do or here comes Webydo

Yabba-Dabba Do! was  a made-for-TV animated film based on the original series, The Flintstones,  which is about the juxtaposition of modern everyday concerns in the Stone Age setting

For some reason this is my first impression after having used Webydo.

Building websites can be fun, engaging and sometimes lead to a professional career.

But still an obstacle is you have to code. Yes, i know one can work with WordPress (with some constrains because of its bloggers roots), get help from your neighbour or nephew. But that approach is not effective in case you want to make a living of building websites. Then it is time  to look for sometime else.

And that something else might be Webydo.com: an online service that lets you create and maintain HTML websites. A lot of services like this are appropriate for personal sites, but what stands Webydo apart is that designers can design a website for clients with it.

The Webydo site itself was built with their own tools and their aim is to provide total design freedom for their customers. There are free, and premium options; with most features available for free and the usual options, such as a custom domain name, charged on a subscription basis.

It’s possible to set up an e-commerce site with Webydo, you can also host a blog — including a WordPress blog — by setting up a subdomain for your site. Webydo also handles all of your hosting on Akamai powered CDNs, which ensures your site is served in the fastest way possible, wherever it’s viewed from.

My impression

For the sake of full disclosure: I was invited the Webydo’s marketing manager Cid Carver to review their service.

It was Steve Ranger who wrote on ZDNet about the bad news for old IT: ” The tech market is splitting into two – a fast growing cloud sector and a declining legacy element as companies look to dump their ageing infrastructure”.

A recent evaluation of the US Government 2003 predictions of the employment of 16 industries creates an impression that the information sector did not meet the growth expectations as stated 10 years ago.

In 2003, The Government Predicted The Growth Of 16 Different Industries — Here's How Those Predictions Turned Out | Designing design thinking driven operations | Scoop.it

Used a design thinkers mindset, I say that Webydo, the decline of legacy IT and the sharp decline in job opportunities in the information sector all have the same cause. In the last decade, business invested in moving from heuristics to algorithms. With an impact for leadership, employees and managers and technology.
Investing in algorithms is paramount in web design too. Adobe Muse – a product name, referring t0 the old world of heuristics and craftsmanship – is a fine corporate example. And so is Webydo on the startup scene (with their impressive 100.000 websites).
Coding websites will become obsolete. Designers focusing on HTML5 or CSS are probably investing in a short term career. A service as Webydo enables any designer to focus on their clients needs and aggressively improving their customer’s journey.
Webydo is still about websites.
Looking at the customer journey, i believe there are some considerations. E.g. how can one involve clients and customers in a more collaborative way. And how can the Webydo concept also be enrolled to the other elements of the external or internal online (and offline) environments.
Design a website has become an algorithm. Use these concepts like Webydo to achieve your business and professional goals.
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