Wednesday, December 30, 2009

AN APPETITE FOR APPS



The iPhone is the most popular smartphone in many countries. One of the reasons for that success is the availability of many, many useful applications (apps) in the Apple store.

An app is software, which is to be used on your iPhone only, The crucial difference with any other software is the ease of use, the focused functionality and the price. Above all, the customer needs are truly at the center of every app.  Traditional software vendors should learn from the success of these apps. So many users buy now apps, who didn’t buy much software for their pc earlier.

A great example is the “Appie”.
 I know for the moment it is only available in The Netherlands, but I am sure that its success will drive international implementation. The Appie is an app from Albert Heijn, one of the largest supermarkets in the world.

Basically Appie helps me with my shopping, as I can see the special offers of the week, read product info and build my shopping list. One of the most useful features is the recipes (more than 8000) section. I can check out what I want to eat and than with one click I can add all the items to my shopping list. Now that is cool!

Especially with these holidays, I don’t like the work of finding a recipe first, Than I have to write all the items on a list and then I have to find stores who have these items on stock. This activity takes a lot of time and burdens me, as I mostly have to go to different stores to buy the right items. With the Appie this is no longer necessary, as it is all automated, even the shopping list is available on my iPhone and I can use it in the same way as a written shopping list. Only Appie is much faster and much easier to use.

Now this is good service for its customers. The app really gives me great service, as it makes my shopping experience much less stressful and it cost me much less time.

This only increases my appetite for apps, especially those who simplify or  relax my customer experience.



GROW YOUR PEOPLE, GROW YOUR BUSINESS!


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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

WHY ARE SMART WORKING AND INNOVATIONS GOOD PARTNERS?



EIM did a large research (650 companies) into the effects of smart working in the Dutch SME market.
Companies who invested in smart working have on average:
-       16% higher growth in results
-       9% higher growth in productivity
-       8% higher growth in revenue
-       5% higher growth in employment

They define smart working as innovation, which is targeted, at organizations and employees.

Using the potential of your employees
-       How do you use their strengths?
-       How do you effectively use their knowledge?
-       How do you involve them in the growth of your organization?
-       Which employment conditions are best suited?

Having efficient processes in place
-       How to streamline your processes?
-       How do you effectively assign the work to de done?
-       What are suited workplaces and working hours?
-       Which management style is best suited?

Smart working encompasses new management styles, new ways of organizing and HRM. Examples are self managed teams, flexible working hours and contracts and dynamic management as well as talent development.

80% of the entrepreneurs expect on the long term that the benefits of smart working will by far outweigh its costs.

Smart working has the best results when combined with technological innovations. The growth in productivity is 12% higher than with companies who only implement technological innovations!

So, it is always a ProPer (Professional as well as Personal) approach, which yields the best results!

Are you smart in applying technological innovations?



GROW YOUR PEOPLE, GROW YOUR BUSINESS!


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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

GREEN SERVICES REQUIRE A CHANGE OF BEHAVIORS


Last week in Copenhagen I attended a side event in the Climate Change Conference (COP15). The topic was the importance of growing the service industries. There were two presentations from the hotel business and two presentations from the ICT business.

One hotel presented their efforts to be carbon neutral, which is a huge success in itself. They also were very good in keeping their employees engaged throughout the whole process. I do think that this is the key to their success. The frontline employees are really their ambassadors for the services that they deliver. Much of what they did was internally focused. There is still a big opportunity in translating this greening of the business into great customer experiences. They had plans to buy electric cars. But what about picking up your customers from the airport with these electric cars? Or giving them these electric cars in the city?

They also explained the Green Key program. Although this is a fine program in itself, but what does it mean for the customer, what needs are addressed and what are my benefits as a customer? Again here is still much room for improvement. They really need to think about adding new services, which are attractive to the customers.

A representative from the ICT industry mentioned the potential savings from greening your business.
Examples:
-       Introducing building management systems
-       Less transportation through e.g. videoconferencing
-       Checking the energy footprint at the workplace
-       Datacenters which use wind/water/ground power
-       Building an internet of energy, a grid
The main issue he addressed is how to change people’s behavior. What is needed to make people travel less? What is needed to lower the temperature in buildings? They think that only money savings are the driver of changing behaviors. It is my understanding however that people are open to change when they underline the need for change, when you involve them in creating smart solutions and when you have a very meaningful goal. If these conditions are met, they will be pulling the change instead of pushing via management.

There was also a company, which builds energy efficient products for home automation. Through their low cost metering solution 30% savings can be accomplished. This is fine, but what is still missing are the services to implement them with customers. It requires a change in behaviors with customers, so what a great opportunity this is to add services to your portfolio to help your customers with this transition.

So, it comes as no surprise that most of these ‘greening your business’ efforts are seen as a marketing tool rather than as a serious commitment towards sustainable development. There is a huge opportunity if companies design services, which meet customers needs as well. The 100.000 people who demonstrated in Copenhagen prove that they are also very serious about the need of getting green!



GROW YOUR PEOPLE, GROW YOUR BUSINESS!


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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

CUSTOMER (SERVICE) IS KING


I just finished reading the book Trust Agents from Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. Obviously it is a must read for everyone in the business world.

When I reflected on the content I had some kind of epiphany. Most corporations and organizations do think that when the crisis is over that they will return to the previous state of ‘business- as-usual’. We just have to focus on some more cost cutting and then we will be good for the next phase. Not much will change.

By doing that they make a big mistake! The world is changing structurally and it will not return to the old habits and patterns again. For a long time the large corporations determined what we  –the customer-  should buy or do. “They knew what was good for us’. They invented push marketing strategies for that.

Although the saying is that the customer is king, it never really was. The customer was king as long as it suited their way of doing business.

That has changed significantly with the possibilities of the Web and social media.. Through the use of these tools any individual voice can (and will) be heard in many place. The ripple effect of tools like Twitter and Facebook is huge. So, the customer gains influence, see for example the guitar case with American Airlines. In this way the customer becomes a force to be reckoned with. A force, which can match the powers and behaviors of large corporations and institutions.

The Web enables communication not only to be on an even level (buyers and sellers are equal), but also on a more personal level. Brogan/Smith call it the importance of being human. “…..  people are sick of brochures and sales letters. They want the real thing”. Customers are demanding that shift, right now and if you are not listening to their calls, you will miss the boat. Old times will not revive. The way you interact and listen to the customer is crucial for your business success. Customer service is king!

The Web and social media give businesses the opportunity to reveal the human side of  their orgnization. That is the main challenge: be human again! Develop professional as well as personal (ProPer) strategies!
I fully support Brogan/Smith when they say that trust and the humanizing of business is where the action is.

So, what are you going to do differently??


GROW YOUR PEOPLE, GROW YOUR BUSINESS!


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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

COMMAND & CONTROL: INNOVATION NEEDED!




Many executives have the command & control management style. That is the dominant style which they have learned (and copied) from their bosses and that is the style with which they grew up in the organization. Although many would say that they are not applying that style, the day-to-day practice proves otherwise. That is quite natural. In times of a crisis we fall back to the behavior with which we are most comfortable.

However, both command and control are totally not working anymore in the modern workplace.

Most workers are knowledge workers, so it is an illusion that a leader or manager can tell them what to do and in what way. With the rapidly changing markets and the huge amount of information available, it is even hard for the experts to stay up to date on a certain subject. So, it would be wise to develop a more coaching oriented leadership style, which is much more suited for the knowledge workers in your organization.


Alan Webber in his book Rules of Thumb says about control that it is undoubtedly the biggest illusion of our time. “Anyone who thinks that they are in control of anything needs to check into the twelve-step program of his or her choice.

A command & control style is the biggest obstacle for innovation. People will take no initiatives, they will only strictly adhere to what they are told and not think out of the box. The aspects on which the control takes place will be the boundaries for their new ideas. In other words there will be no room or incentive to come up with groundbreaking or game-changing ideas.

Today’s challenging marketplace requires fresh and bold thinking, so please make sure that your management style is in support of innovation!




GROW YOUR PEOPLE, GROW YOUR BUSINESS!


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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

HOW TO GET OUT OF THE BUSINESS-AS-USUAL TRAP.


 One of the main constraints that managers and executives face is time and related to that priority. The day-to-day business and its challenges, small fires and other problems are consuming all their energy and time. They are always so busy and their agenda’s are fully booked. There is hardly any time left to get lunch or even to go to the bathroom.

These time constraints prevent you also from having new ideas and new perspectives. They do not take time to detach, to reflect or to use others as sounding boards. Because of this behavior they are trapped in the trap of doing business in a way that it has been done for a long time.

But.. Today’s changing environment requires a different approach and different perspectives. Otherwise you will not be the frontrunner, not even the survivor in your business.

So, what is needed is to plan a fixed time of minimal one hour in your agenda, every week! This is your holy hour, this cannot be changed, not be touched. Please feel free to use this hour only for:

-       Getting inspired
-       Getting new ideas
-       Getting new perspectives
-       Meeting new people
-       Talking with customers and competitors
-       Brainstorming with frontline employees
-       Reading a book
-       Looking at inspirational video’s
-       Inviting an interesting speaker with a complete different background and experience
-       Connect with nature
-       Do some sports
-       Have a walk in the park or in the city

This holy hour will give you so much more energy and fresh perspectives that you will easily finish your other work in much less time that you would need usually. Your enthusiasm will also inspire others to do the same. And that will create a vibrant, creative community. And that is what is needed to be a winner in this game of business.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

REFRESH YOUR BUSINESS PARTNERS


Most organizations do have a fix set of partners. They cover many area’s:

-       Accountants
-       Consultants
-       Project managers
-       Security
-       Catering
-       IT
-       Telecoms
-       Recruiters
-       Coaches
-       Advertising
-       Etc

The challenge for new potential partners is to be put on the preferred supplier-list. In many cases is Purchasing the owner of the list.

This list tends to be rather static, i.e. it is hard to get on the list, but easy to stay on it. Given the urgent need for change and innovation, there is a problem with this practice. The longer these partners are on the list, the less they will have a fresh look. They become one with the existing culture and way of doing things. There is hardly any difference between the perspectives of partners and regular employees. Also these partners become less and less critical, as they are afraid to be excluded from the list.
These longstanding partners are not very supportive in your need for freshness and bold perspectives.

So, if you really want to change and innovate, than you must hire new partners and be open to ‘another way’ of doing things!

Are you willing to refresh your business partners?



GROW YOUR PEOPLE, GROW YOUR BUSINESS!


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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

CHANGING? YOU FIRST……….!

 It is an open door to talk about all the change that is necessary and all the change programs that are work in process.

However, there is also plenty of evidence (McKinsey, IBM) that the majority of the changes do not deliver the required results. There are two main reasons for this issue.

  1. most leaders think that their people (managers and employees) should change, but not themselves. And the (middle) managers and frontline workers think that they are okay, but that the leaders should change.
  2. Most change programs cover only the professional/business aspects of change. They forget the crucial aspect of personal/behavioral change.

The solution is quite straight forward: change is non-discriminatory, everyone should be open to change and personal change is equally important as professional change. Remember ..... when you point your finger towards someone else, there are always three fingers pointing at yourself!

Please find here an overview of the ProPer Change Cycle.

Organizations

  • Change only happens when cost of the status quo is > risk of change

The 8-Step Process of Successful Change (John Kotter)
SET THE STAGE
1. Create a Sense of Urgency. 
Help others see the need for change and the importance of acting immediately.
2. Pull Together the Guiding Team. 
Make sure there is a powerful group guiding the change—one with leadership skills, bias for action, credibility, communications ability, authority, analytical skills.
DECIDE WHAT TO DO
3. Develop the Change Vision and Strategy. 
Clarify how the future will be different from the past, and how you can make that future a reality.
MAKE IT HAPPEN
4. Communicate for Understanding and Buy-in. 
Make sure as many others as possible understand and accept the vision and the strategy.
5. Empower Others to Act. 
Remove as many barriers as possible so that those who want to make the vision a reality can do so.
6. Produce Short-Term Wins. 
Create some visible, unambiguous successes as soon as possible.
7. Don’t Let Up. 
Press harder and faster after the first successes. Be relentless with instituting change after change until the vision becomes a reality.
MAKE IT STICK
8. Create a New Culture. 
Hold on to the new ways of behaving, and make sure they succeed, until they become a part of the very culture of the group.



Individuals


Change is personal or it never happens.

 Rule 1: It is a prerequisite that everyone (leaders, managers, employees) changes in order to grow.
Rule 2: People don’t change when we tell them they should. They change when they tell themselves they must.


Key questions for individual change:



PLAN

*Knowledge
  • Why is change necessary?
  • What to change?
  • What is the new goal (organization, department, personal)?
  • What do I have to do differently?
  • What is my new metric?
  • Where can I contribute (share ideas, give feedback, be engaged)?

*Desire
  • Want to change
  • Will to change
  • What excites me?
  • What is in it for me (benefits, rewards, recognition)?
  •  

*Skills
  • How to change
  • Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my ‘new’ work right?
  • Where is support available for me to cope with ongoing change?

DO
*Change your thinking
*Change your behaviour

CHECK
  • Are you producing the required results, professionally and personally?

ACT
  • Adapt yourself continuously
  • Stay focused
  • Reward success


This holistic approach to change will create an environment, a culture, which sees change as a normal, accepted way of working, rather than an exception which needs to be resisted.

So, are you ready to change yourself??



GROW YOUR PEOPLE, GROW YOUR BUSINESS!


Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ArnoldBeekes


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

WHAT KIND OF INNOVATOR ARE YOU?



In the book ‘Old Masters and Young Geniuses’ by David Galenson there are two types of innovators researched. His analysis of the life cycles of creativity has considered painters, sculptors, poets, novelists and movie directors.

It appears that creativity is not the exclusive domain of either theorists or empirists, nor are major innovations made exclusively by the young or old.

Conceptual innovators  work deductively. They are most often the young geniuses, who revolutionize their disciplines early in their careers. Conceptual innovators state their ideas or emotions, often summarily and without hesitation.
The central elements of conceptual innovators’ major contributions often arrive in brief moments of inspiration, and they can often be recorded and communicated quickly. A fundamental characteristic of conceptual innovators is certainty; most have great confidence in the validity and significance of their contributions, and this allows them to put forward dramatic new works early in their careers in spite of their knowledge that most practioners of their disciplines will be hostile to their new ideas.

Experimental innovators work inductively. They are the old masters, whose greatest achievements usually arrive late in their lives. Experimental innovators think of their careers as an extended process of searching for the elusive means of understanding and expressing their perceptions.
Their major contributions typically involve superb craftsmanship, the result of painstaking effort and experience acquired over the course of long careers. Even their major works are not generally intended as definitive statements, but are provisional, subject to later modification or further development, reflecting their author’s lack of certainty in their accomplishment. Uncertainty is perhaps the most common characteristic of great experimental innovators.



A basic result that has emerged from this research is the recognition that both conceptual and experimental innovations have played an enormous role in the modern history of each of the artistic activities that have been studied.
It implies that aptitude and ambition are more important factors in allowing people to make contributions to a chosen discipline than the ability to think and work in a particular way, either deductively or inductively.

So, what kind of innovator are you?!


GROW YOUR PEOPLE, GROW YOUR BUSINESS!


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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

HOW TO CLOSE THE CORPORATE GAP? BRIDGE BUILDERS NEEDED!


It looks like the gap, the divide is getting bigger instead of getting smaller.
Which gap? Well, between on one hand the Corporate leaders and managers who are not open to change, who continue to do business as they have done for many years now and on the other hand mostly the consultants, bloggers and entrepreneurs who know that the 21st century requires a new way of doing business.

So, what is needed are bridge builders. People who can bridge the gap and thus connect the merits of both approaches.
What is needed to be a great bridge builder?

-       Focus on the strengths of both ways of doing business
-       Communicate in a simple and clear way
-       Explain the respective benefits
-       Listen open minded
-       Speak both ‘languages’
-       Look for the commonalities instead of for the differences
-       Help to build new cultures and behaviors
-       Be the examples

Bridge builders are not a nice to have, they are urgently needed to close the gap in the Corporate world.
Are you volunteering to be a bridge builder?

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GROW YOUR PEOPLE, GROW YOUR BUSINESS!





Tuesday, October 13, 2009

HIRING FOR AWESOMENESS OR FOR AVERAGENESS


Most recruiting companies list in their job requirements exactly what experience the candidate should bring. They prefer to hire someone who has done exactly the same job in another company, but in the same industry.
They think that they play it safe in this way. When there is a fit, they think that there is hardly any risk, as the person has done that particular job before.

However, this practice stimulates conformity and averageness. Once the new hire understands the way of working in his or her new company, they will quickly become complacent, risk avoiding and bored. There is no trigger to learn and develop new skills and knowledge. Also that person will not initiate complete new points of view.
So, there is no professional as well as personal growth, both for the individual and for the company.

This very competitive market requires another attitude. You need to differentiate your company to get and maintain customers. There is already too much averageness in the world, so you need to distinguish yourself! And what is the best and only way to do this? To have great people who awe your customers. These people have to grow continuously and like it as well.

This means that you have to hire people who have the skills, qualities and motivation to grow into the job. Preferably they should have a different background. It is more important that they are eager to learn, willing to take risks and are excited about the opportunity.

Growth has to be the essence of your company. Growing your people is the only way to do this. So, hire people who love to grow and learn. Go for awesomeness! 


GROW YOUR PEOPLE, GROW YOUR BUSINESS!




Tuesday, October 6, 2009

MARKET SAVVINESS IS CRUCIAL FOR A LEARNING ORGANIZATION


 On one hand it is clear that changes are speeding up, in business, technology, the market, legislation, demographics and so on. It is a challenge to keep up to date with all these new developments.
On the other hand there is an increased focus on the inner workings of an organization. Most of the attention is directed towards restructuring, lay-offs and financial survival.

This paradox creates even more challenges and thus tension. The more you focus internally, the more you miss threats as well as opportunities in the marketplace. Your internal, operational focus widens the gap with the frontrunners in your industry.

If you want to be a frontrunner yourself, you have to make sure that your organization learns continuously from these external trends. And then you have to adapt yourself to these new learnings and conditions. Therefore it is crucial to build a team of explorers, who continuously monitor the market and propose changes for the internal way of working.

It is likely that these explorers will be a part of marketing. And you need a culture of engagement and learning. To get a culture of engagement and learning, you need diversity, conflict and agility in your team (Linda Hill, Harvard).

These explorers should be facilitated to:
-       attend seminars and workshops, within and outside your industry
-       give lectures, internal and external
-       form partnerships with government, universities and NGO’s
-       read books, blogs, research reports etc
-       fully use social media
-       network, cross-functionally and cross-industries
-       visit leading, state of the art companies
-       run internal brainstorm sessions
-       translate external learnings into internal changes

This investment will allow you to close the gap with the frontrunners in your industry and even makes it possible to become number 1!

So, what are you doing to support the explorers?



GROW YOUR PEOPLE, GROW YOUR BUSINESS!





Tuesday, September 29, 2009

LISTENING: THE FORGOTTEN BUSINESS SKILL

More and more we are busy, very busy. As a consequence we read and write quickly and superficially, because it seems that we are always in a hurry.
When we have meetings with other people, we are also in a rush. We have difficulty in concentrating and paying attention to what the other person in trying to say. Our minds are thinking about the past (what happened before this meeting) and thinking about the future (what do we want the outcome to be of this meeting or even preparing for the next meeting). We are rarely in the now with our attention.

Proper listening is an art. When we really master this art we can establish lasting relationships and faster achieve results. Why is this the case? The consequence of inappropriate listening is a lot of miscommunication, which consumes (a lot) more time and energy.

So, what are some rules for proper listening?

·      Be open and receptive
Questions prepared mentally before they are asked will disrupt the flow and not follow the interest of the other person. Far better to hear the person through and then pause if necessary while the next appropriate question comes to mind.
·      Listen ‘empty’
Have no judgments or opinions in your mind. Forget aloud how this other person reacted in the past. Have no expectations at all.
·      Listen with your heart as well as with your head.
What do you feel? How does this conversation touches you?
·      Look at the body language
Is the body language in line with the message or do you perceive a disconnect?
·      Pay attention
Write as few notes as possible, otherwise you miss valuable parts of the conversation.


A great tool to support your listening is the Pulse smartpen (check out www.livescribe.com). This pen records everything what is being said. So, you can later go back to what was literally said. If you touch the key words, which you have noted, you get instantly the recording! So, you don’t have to be afraid that you miss something. You can even download the (MP3) file to your computer, so you can share your conversations with others.
For example this pen is a fantastic tool for sales representatives and marketers (when talking with customers and prospects), for journalists (when interviewing), for business people (in negotiations), for lawyers  (in preparing cases) and for students (in seminars).

Please remember that listening forms 40% to 50% of any communication, so it is crucial to be a great listener!

This is emphasized by a thoughtful poem from Ralph Roughton called “On Listening”.




‘When I ask you to listen to me and you start by giving advice, you have not done what I asked.
When I ask you to listen to me and you begin to tell me why I shouldn't feel that way, you are trampling on my feelings.
When I ask you to listen to me and you feel you have to do something to solve my problem, you have failed me, strange as it may seem.
Listen! All I ask is that you listen, not talk or do...just hear me.
When you do something for me that I can and need to do for myself, you contribute to my fear and inadequacy.
And I can do for myself. I'm not helpless. Maybe discouraged and faltering, but not helpless.
But when you accept as simple fact that I do feel what I feel, no matter how irrational, then I can quit trying to convince you and get about the business of understaning what's behind this irrational feeling. And when that's clear, the answers are obvious and I don't need advice.
Irrational feelings make sense when we understand what's behind them.
Perhaps that's why prayer works, sometimes, for some people...because God is mute, and He doesn't give advice or try to fix things. God just listens and lets you work it out yourself.
So, please listen and just hear me. And if you want to talk, wait a minute for your turn, and I'll listen to you.’



GROW YOUR PEOPLE, GROW YOUR BUSINESS!













Tuesday, September 22, 2009

HOW TO ORGANIZE AN INTERNAL INNOVATION TEAM?



More and more organizations are becoming convinced that innovation is no longer a nuisance, but that it is the only way out of the misery.

Once you have taken the decision the next step is to think about how you are going to organize that activity (if you haven’t done that already). There are four keys to organizing innovation:

  1. the driver
This person is acting as an intrapreneur (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intrapreneurship). In addition to this (s)he should have quite a broad experience and background. And he should be able to act as a detached observer. This is necessary to make sure that his perspective is open and not biased.

  1. the sponsor
This is the decision maker, who is a member of the Board. He should be the man who can assign budgets and resources. He is an active evangelist of the innovation itself. He should make sure that no operational priorities impact the progress of the project(s).

  1. the space
Innovation can only become a success when there is no operational pressure on the group. They should have a special place where they can work on their projects. Skunk Works (see  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skunk_Works ) was the first example for this.

  1. the team members
There is so much literature about the right composition of teams, that I am not addressing this here. However, it is crucial that the team encompasses – from the beginning – functional representatives from the departments who are involved in the implementation/execution phase (e.g. logistics, sales, delivery, IT), business representatives (those who have the budget responsibility) and last but not least customers. Even better noncustomers should be involved in the team. And an external innovation consultant should also be added.


These are relatively simple requirements to get started and to get started quickly.
Do you already have an innovation team in place??



GROW YOUR PEOPLE, GROW YOUR BUSINESS!



  





Tuesday, September 15, 2009

(UN)PROFESSIONAL SERVICE IMPACTS YOUR BRAND


Last week my Internet connection was not working, so I called the helpdesk of my ISP (internet service provider).  This ISP has a brand image of providing high quality services and they are #1 in customer satisfaction survey for many years. When I called they already had a message recorded which said that due to maintenance problems some of the servers were not working. It also said that the waiting time in the queue is 12 minutes. So, I was happy that it was at least a known problem.
After 25 minutes I finally got through and the person checked my zip code and could see that I was also impacted. Well, it is always nice that they confirm what you already experienced… Then he said that he would send a request to the telecoms department to put me on another server. My problem should be fixed within 1,5 hours, al least that was his guess.
After 1,5 hours I tried again, but no Internet connection. I waited and tried again and again, but no results. This experience did no good for my customer satisfaction. The next day I did call again and the prerecorded message was still there. However it stated that the waiting time was 1 minute. Wow, that was fast………. But I had to wait 35 minutes to get someone on the line.
He denied that there was a problem with the servers of the telecoms department….. “I was not right about that”. And he could not see that I called the day before as well because his colleague did not log the call. He said that he just had to reset my connection and everything should be okay after one hour. I asked whether he knew that for sure and he said no.
So, after an hour my Internet was back up and finally running again. I also became aware how dependent we have become on our Internet connections.
After this negative customer experience I am starting to have a serious look at having an Internet connection by cable. This is something I would not have done if I hadn’t had this experience.
What can be learned form a customer service perspective?
·     Only mention real waiting times, otherwise don’t mention them at all.
·     Never tell the customer that his experience is wrong. Remember the customer is always king.
·     Never say that what your colleague did was not correct. Always support each other.
·     Tell the customer when the problem is fixed, when the connection is restored. Customer are not interested in the effort, but in the results.
This experience damaged their brand, as I don’t perceive them to be a high quality service provider anymore. And of course I will share my experience with others using social media. Professional service is really at the heart of any operation!
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GROW YOUR PEOPLE, GROW YOUR BUSINESS!


  

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

INNOVATION AND CONTINUOUS LEARNING ARE INSEPARABLE










The enormous amount of change requires an almost equal speed in learning. Changes are in so many areas like new technologies, new government guidelines, global markets or social media/networking. Also it is crucial to not only check your competition and your customers, but also noncustomers (if you are interested in creating blue oceans…). Fortunately there is so much knowledge available on or via the internet.
However you need time as well as a willingness to learn! Most executives are so busy that they don't plan any 'learning time'. Firefighting keeps them away from working on the business. Somewhere there is an inner voice which says “you should learn ..” but that voice rarely wins. To silence that voice some buy books.  I have been in many rooms of senior manager and they all have a bookcase in it. But most of these books are not read........ Maybe they might even think that they don’t need to learn, as they are already up to date. Well that might be true for your own company, but certainly not so in a larger perspective. For instance, there are many great books (John Kotter) and researches available about change management. But still are most change initiatives not producing the required results. Why? Because they don’t know about this knowledge and change in the old way, the way things get done here.
Therefore I do think it is crucial that executives see learning time just as important as any other business commitment And there should be a new, frequent modus of learning/teaching available (instead of the one-off executive education programs), where they can ongoing learn the latest findings and know-how from experts, academics and research. This should be planned for at least half a day each month. Also a proven method like a mastermind group could be very useful for corporate execs, not only for entrepreneurs and business owners.
Innovation by definition means doing something new, either in your business model, processes or services. To do the right new thing you need to learn. Applying what you have learned is the only way to be innovative. If you want to create new markets, than read the book about the Blue Ocean Strategy, learn and apply the methods provided. Only then your innovation can be successful.
To cope with today’s and tomorrows challenges senior managers should become enthusiastic about ongoing learning (and change limiting beliefs that learning is only what you do at school).
What are your ideas for creating a culture of learning??
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RADICAL SERVICE INNOVATION







  



Thursday, August 27, 2009

HOW TO STIMULATE IDEAS

In earlier posts I did mention the importance of using your own employees as a valuable source of new ideas. They can for instance come up with ideas for new offerings based upon changed customer needs, and also ideas how to speed up internal processes.

How can you stimulate ideas?
1. In order to create an environment where ideas will flourish, the management needs to build and gain trust..
2. They will only bring their ideas forward when they have the feeling and the experience that their ideas are taken seriously.
3. Never ‘punish ‘people for their ideas, even if they are not appropriate.
4. Give credit for ideas. The most important form of credit is verbal recognition of the valuable contribution.
5. Give support to get the ideas implemented. Support can be sponsorship and/or money and/or resources.
6. Do not force people to give more ideas. If the environment is positive and enthusiastic, people will automatically come up with ideas.
7. Always give feedback.
8. Be honest.
9. Control kills every initiative, so promote coaching.
10. Be vulnerable and let them know that you don’t have all the answers and that you need every set of eyes and ears in the company.
11. Give people access to blogs, video’s, social media.
12. Regularly invite speakers about a wide variety of subjects ( e.g. from gardening, to painting, to anthropology).
13. Let people attend seminars, network meetings, community gatherings.
14. Create spaces where people can brainstorm with each other.


These are just a basic set of conditions that need to be established. The investment is rather low, but the benefit can be substantial!

What are you doing to stimulate ideas?

RADICAL SERVICE INNOVATION

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

IF YOU REALLY WANT TO CHANGE AND/OR INNOVATE

It was Anthony Robbins who said that people would only change through pleasure or through pain. Pain is the strongest trigger of these two. This is the case at the personal as well as on the organizational level.
An organization is a collection of human beings who share a common purpose. An organization is nothing without its people. So, what triggers an organization to change is the same as what triggers you and me. The only thing, which causes real change in an organization, is the change of the people (leaders and employees).

Currently there is a lot of pain in organizations. This pain causes stress and stress is a signal that you have to change something in the way you are working/managing etcetera. You might be surprised that I think this is good, this is a moment that you should cherish as it helps you to use these obstacles to really grow you and your organization to the next level.

To get started it is very useful to describe the pain and your feelings associated with it. The description should cover both the pain that you experience as a person and the pain experienced at the organizational level.
Once that is clear you have to detach yourself from the situation and look at the (limiting) beliefs, which are behind those pains. What is really causing those pains?
To get the most out of this exercise it is key to be very open.
It is also extremely useful to write it down.

Once you have written about your pains and beliefs, both at the individual and at the organizational level, your playing field is very clear. You will immediately see which things you would like to change and ideas for innovation will pop up in your mind. Please bear in mind that innovation is not only about new products and services, but also about new processes, business models and management styles.

It is only when you are in the valley that you can see new mountain tops that you would like to conquer.
It is also very motivating for employees as you as a leader share your pains and challenges with them. A leader is a human being just like them. This vulnerability and humility will be the stepping stone for creating new, better, nicer results.

Are you willing to share your pain?
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