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Posts Tagged ‘Learning’

Cues, Signals and Understanding

February 28, 2012 5 comments

The intersection of, Customer Service and Social CRM is about being human, listening for signals and watching for cues. The secret sauce is understanding what you have observed and acting accordingly. On the one hand, you could call this a lesson in Social CRM, while on the other hand, you could call this being human 101.

It is a bit like being married – as any man will tell you, the spousal response  “I am fine” means anything but that! It is not the words, but the context, which supports my key point, cues; verbal and non-verbal add context. The ability to understand the cues and act upon them is the difference between a good and poor experience (or sleeping on the sofa). In the world of contact centers and customer service, it is the difference between good and bad customer experience.  As an aside, ‘acting’ upon something can easily be doing nothing.

The Wall Street Journal published an interesting article that illustrated the point quite well. The setting is a restaurant, the ‘Agents’ are waiters and waitresses and the patrons are, well, customers. There are some spot on reflections of a service experience, which serve as examples examples:

  • Timing: The time of dining and/or dress might suggest that dining is not the main event.
  • Guests: Kids at the table might suggest that speed up the service and give the dessert menu to mom.
  • Drinks: A request for the wine menu suggests, not only that a drink is in order, but that the dining experience is might be more relaxed and casual.

Are these meant to be rules? No, guidelines maybe, things to think about which can lead to a better overall experience. How does this, or can this help in the contact center? Is this only for small businesses, or large ones as well?

“Some restaurants still employ waiter scripts, but now they are being used to dig for guest information. At Romano’s Macaroni Grill, an Italian-themed chain, waiters are taught to use their scripted offer of house wine to find out if the table will want a fast, leisurely, or lively meal.”

Scripts, scripts, hmmm…

Rigid process versus guide and adapt, sounds familiar doesn’t it. Table dynamics suggests how the waiter should act, or react. In other words, how or how not to Engage the people at the table is a critical lesson to learn, quickly as well.  Given all of the talk of engagement, it is important to point out that choosing NOT to engage is an equally important possibility.

“We changed ‘suggestive selling’ to ‘situational selling,’ ” says Rene Zimmerman, senior director of training and development for Bob Evans Farms Inc., a family-style restaurant and food maker. Instead of offering every breakfast guest one additional item, say biscuits and gravy, waiters are taught to adjust their offer depending upon the guest. For a diner who places a lighter order, like a bagel and fruit, the waiter might suggest a cup of coffee or tea.”

Here are the lessons, from a restaurant we can learn:

  • Service is a differentiator
  • Scripts need to be dynamic
  • Upsell or Cross-Sell (or nothing) needs to depend up the cues
  • Value is more than just product, it is the whole of the experience

Why do I believe that this could be considered Social CRM? If we believe that Social CRM is the company’s response to the customer’s control of the conversation, then it makes perfect sense. As I suggested recently, engagement is really at the behest of the customer. Choosing not to engage is an acceptable outcome, they just want a meal and to move on to their next activity. This is not a Marketing activity, this is mostly service, with a bit of sales.

One point I would like to leave you with is this: Until technology can truly simulate/accurately represent looking someone in the eye when you are talking to them, technology will be just that, technology. Physical cues are lost on the phone, we can only do our best to interpret. Verbal cues are lost through Email and Social Media (excluding YouTube of course).

What can else can we learn here?

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.

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Everything I know, I learned from an ‘accidental community’?

August 27, 2009 7 comments

OK, a slight embellishment, I did learn a few things in Kindergarten.

So, that is 2 for 2, call it a home run and and a double (Paul Greenberg will like that) for Brent Leary. He originally created the Social CRM hashtag, #scrm on Twitter, and he also gets credit for the “accidental community” description. Brent tweeted this, this morning in response to a question regarding what he gained from DestinationCRM (I think I have that right).

What is interesting here, is that it was really not an accident at all. The #scrm ‘community’ had all of the correct ingredients to make it a success. I bet some of my peer group could review history a bit (Prem), but the more interesting topic here are what can we learn from the evolution and pass on to the Social CRM community – outside of this small peer group.

In the beginning, we had/have a few champions (Brent and Prem Kumar, followed by John Moore and Josh Weinberger), some true thought leaders in the space (Paul, Brent, Graham Hill) – Some additional thought leaders joining later – Like Natalie Petouff Jesus Hoyas, Esteban Kolsky, Brian Vellmure and Wim Rampen. I am sure the community will grow, it already has!

What is really interesting is that all the roles I described above, switch on a weekly basis (or so). If people do not have time to blog, or write, there is absolutely no issues with people playing the championing role and pointing out the great content of others. This is Social CRM in action – the product is knowledge and payment is time. Members reach out beyond this smaller group and learn from others, sharing links, information and knowledge.

Equality, Trust and Value – sounds like a great community to me.

Michael Krigsman made a great statement this morning “Folks have yet to realize that Social #CRM is not a “tool.” It’s a focus point for a constellation of actions.” I am sure that we all have some thoughts on what those activities are, or should be, no? My hope is that the future conversations will focus on the actions, and proper execution of those actions.

Brent, there is plenty of time in game, looking for a single (that should be easy for you) but as I am sure Paul would say, the tripe is probably more impressive than a home run, so the bar is set! It was great to meet many of you at DestinationCRM – turning the accidental community into a real-live face-to-face meeting of peers. For those not in attendance, I am sure we will meet soon, talk on the phone or have a video chat (highly recommended)

++++++++++++++Updated March 30, 2010 to add some important members of the community ++++++++++++++

Friends Mark Tamis and Mike Boysen have added a tremendous amount to the conversation, and their earlier omission is nothing more than me going back and adding people. I have learned a lot from both Mark and Mike. Further, Kathy Herrman and Michael Fauscette have pushed the thinking forward as well!

My lists above were done in haste, if I missed anyone (lots and lots of people could be added I am sure), no intent meant. look forward to the future conversations on the execution steps we all learn and are willing to share.

What would you teach, what can we learn?

August 10, 2009 5 comments

No matter how many years I have been out of school myself, mid-August always feels ‘academic’. Aside from the standard ‘ Oh, $h#T I slept through my final exam’ dream, it is a fun time of year. Often, I feel as though I need to run out and buy some back-to-school stuff. This year is a little different around my house. My oldest will embark on his college education, and my middle one is entering HS. As for me, I am lucky to be teaching again this fall, as I always learn more than the students. It has also been great to learn from the folks on #scrm, and while some friends jest and call me “prof” it is ‘tongue and cheek’, as we are all students, some simply admit it, and some do not.

Back to the simplistic question of the day: If you had to define SocialCRM to an incoming college freshman, what would you say? How about a high school student? What metaphor would you choose? I know that we have all seen the demographic profile of Twitter users, as well as the other social media channels – but what does it mean? Do you think that anything taught today (in the SocialCRM realm) will have any relevance in 5 years?

What I find really interesting is what we can learn. The way in which this demographic interacts with the world around them is certainly an early indication of what we will see in a few years. Example – texting, without a doubt lead by teenagers a few years back – and now we are all using it (come on, admit it). If you had a group of college students for a day, what would you want to know? Is it really the YouTube generation?

Don’t worry Glenn, I promise not to even mention technology until week 2!

Comments welcome, encouraged even!