19
Nov
2008
0

It’s About the Relationships

At the NACCM Customers 1st Conference today, we had the opportunity to listen to some fabulous keynotes as well as start to dig-in to the sessions. Along the way, we may have even gotten a little Goofy! Lots of nuggets, video, and photos, including Keith Ferrazzi, Joe Torre, and Peter Guber. Keep reading!

Inspiring Employees
The theme across all of the keynotes today was one of community, relationship building, and emotions.  (Customers Rock! note – many of these themes work very well with the social media tools that are available to connect with customers, and with each other.)

JoAnna Brandi kicked off the day with an energetic discussion of being leaders that inspire customers to be more engaged at work, which, in turn, leads to better customer engagement. As leaders, we need to use more positive emotion; this will affect our employees and our customers. Keep your employees out of the fear we are seeing, and start focusing on the positive. What is right? What is possible? What is the next solution we can find?

She also challenged attendees to stop focusing exclusively on customer satisfaction, as customers don’t want things that are just “satisfactory”. They want something better than that! While important, satisfaction is not the end game. The pot of gold at the other side of the rainbow is joy, happiness, Wow, and Magic.  We have to start creating emotional relationships with our customers. This is done by showing up at work with emotion, not checking it at the door!  It is the leader’s job to make sure everyone around them uses Magic – Make a Great Impression on the Customer.

Never Eat Alone

The first keynote was Keith Ferrazzi, author of Never Eat Alone.He turned this into a working session to give people a personal relationship action plan for the upcoming year. Who do you need to work with to get you where you want to go?  People are critical to your success, and relationships are the core. We discussed which words describe business relationships: Trust, human, feedback, fun, candor, collaborative. Which words add for most personal relationships? Laughter, love, listening, intimacy, reliable, trust, passion.

The shift – a business relationship is a personal relationship in a business environment.  Make it purposeful; strategically guide your relationships. It is not about waiting for someone else to start the relationship; it is about you being proactive with others.

If you have strong personal relationships, you will be more easily forgiven when you mess it up!

Video of Keith: you can’t get there alone.

Keith had the group go through a series of exercises to help crystallize thinking around this. Our job in this world is to create an environment around ourselves that invites people in to have a better relationship with us. It is all about what we do – it is our responsibility. Lower our guard, invite people in. As we talk to people, we ought to be having the following internal conversation:

–    Is there something I can care about with this person? A way to connect and remember?
–    Is there a way I can help? “How can I help you? Who can I introduce you to?” How powerful is that?!

Keith also discussed the “Fluffy” factor. This was referring to a phone conversation where the service rep could hear a dog barking in the background – ‘Fluffy’. “What is the name of your dog,” this rep might ask, as a way to connect with the other person and see them as a human being (not just an irritating caller). We need to show up as the human and empathetic individual they want to see. If all call center folks projected a wonderful positive outcome, in their own minds, it would begin to manifest itself.

How are your customer service people seeing your customers? As a pain, or as a real person with real issues?

Keith also shared about the importance of being real, authentic, and human to others. He stated that others can tell right away if we are not being truthful or transparent with them, even over the phone!  We need to have the following mindset, with customers or with those we want to build relationships with: We really care. We want to hear you (people need to be heard).  When we have this mindset, we begin to empathize.

I will wrap up this section on Keith with a video of him telling the story about someone who cared about another human being and how it changed lives.

Teamwork

We then had the pleasure of listening to Joe Torre, manager of the LA Dodgers, share nuggets from his many years in baseball. Here are some highlights:

  • You only get better (at whatever you do) when you have to deal with setbacks. Tough times don’t last; tough people do.
  • It’s the little things in a game that help you win. Concentrate on the little things; big things will happen.
  • Be loyal to each other on the team, and have respect for that other guy who is out there, perhaps where you want to be.
  • You can’t assume your customers are yours forever.
  • What can I help us do to win today?
  • Whatever line of work you are in, it is all about the people.

Making Connections Through Storytelling

The morning ended with a fascinating speech by Peter Guber, Chairman and Founder, Mandalay Entertainment. Peter has quite a line of Hollywood successes, including his role as producer for such films as Gorillas in the Mist, The Deep, The Color Purple, and Rain Man, to name a few.
Per Peter:

“Coping with failure in uncertain times is a necessity; it has always been a partner in my journey.”

He shared three navigational states for these times and how to get through them – fear, uncertainty, and change. Peter also shared that the game changer, the secret sauce, is the story we tell ourselves and the story we tell our customers and clients.

Oral storytelling. It is in all of us. We need to connect our story to the emotions of our customers and employees to help them propel themselves through all of this. We are all wired to do oral storytelling.  When we do it, it changes the word from “customer/client/patron” to “audience”. One thing to keep in mind about an audience: they expect experiences and to be engaged emotionally. They want to be moved.

Here is a video of Peter talking about how human beings are “wired” to tell oral stories.

Peter encouraged us to unleash our story for our benefit, and do it by MAGIC.

MAGIC – like a hand, each of the following concepts works independently, but they work better together.

Motivating your Audience to your Goal Interactively with great Content

Are you motivated about your story? Yes – you can craft a powerful story. You can tell, before someone says a word, whether they are authentic. Be calm; be coherent with it. Then tell it. Demonstrate you are authentic with your story. This engages people.

Audience – everybody you talk with (not to) is an audience. How do I get their attention? If it’s not a good time to do it, don’t tell your story! Know what is interesting. Try to be interested in them, create an emotional connection. The context makes the story different for everyone. What are they interested in? Find out then connect it to that. Aim for the heart, not the head. Feelings.  Often times a story, elegantly presented, can change the results.

Here is another video of Peter discussing how he convinced the head of the studio to let him make the film Gorillas in the Mist. In this video, Peter was just talking about how he had come to realize that he was not connecting with his audience (the studio head). So, he became a wounded gorilla in order to help explain why it was important to tell the story of saving gorillas:

Goal – specifically direct someone to a call to action.  We have to have authentic goals that are generous; then, we both win. Virally-advocated stories are authentic; they have to be real.

Interactively – it has to be a conversation. The more senses you engage in your story, the more likely you are to own it. They feel they are participating in the story – let your audience own it so they can tell it for you. It’s the way we are wired. Interactivity – think about it before you start. You have to surrender control. Why do you think you control the customer or your brand? When you relinquish control, it allows them to come forward and own the information in a unique way.

Content – The actual story is the Holy Grail. Look to your own experience – true story, inspired by story. Use observation – retell other people’s stories. Use them for emotional transportation. Look at history and use artifacts; make emotional connections today from it. Use metaphor and analogy; he became a gorilla for the studio head to get him to connect with the story and make the movie.

Think of your customers as an audience, interact with them with really great content, and enjoy the front row seat to your success.

Other Goodies

The afternoon consisted of 4 main tracks of sessions. I attended the session on Disney presented by Maritz and The Disney Institute. Bruce Kimbrell was again the presenter, along with Kathy Oughton from Maritz.

Bruce told a great story about how serious Disney is about surveying customers in the theme park. He shared that some days, the survey at the entrance gate to the park might only ask for your zip code. On other days, the conversation might go like this:

Disney: “Hi, do you have a some time to take our guest survey? We would need about 2 hours of your time.”

Guest: “Uh, no, that would take up a big chunk of my time here.”

Disney: “Well, how about if we take care of you for tomorrow?”

Guest: “No, I would have to change my flights, my hotel…”

Disney: “What if we took care of that? Would you be willing to give us your time?”

Now that is serious focus on getting the voice of the customer!

I also had the opportunity to sit in on JoAnna Brandi‘s session/discussion about what makes people feel good at work. Here were some of the attendee responses –

– Liking the people I work with

– Harmony

– Making a difference

– Being recognized by others, especially when you find out about it later

JoAnna is trying to understand these motivators so she can help coach others on how to improve employee retention and loyalty.

There’s More!

Go check out the conference blog, flickr group, and my Tweets to see/hear more about the day. Last day – tomorrow!

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  1. Pingback : A few of my favorite blogs, Part I – Customer Experience - the customer experience for profit blog