Category: Customer Stories


Customer Service: Nth Degree Mindset

December 17th, 2014

There is so much talk about customer service yet so little of it sticks. Every business, every leader, every single one of us, has good intentions. None of us go to work saying, “Today I am going to plan to disappoint a customer when I interact with them. Let’s hang up on them. Avoid them. Get their order wrong. Misinterpret them. Let’s just be average and kind of ‘blah.’ That is where most of us end up really. In the Valley of Blah, we don’t quite fail or flob, however, we are far from memorable. Being memorable requires you to understand those critical “Moments of Truth.”

ServiceNMoments of Truth are those customer points of intersection. A great culture helps. At the Outside-In® Companies, we have a value “Service to the Nth Degree” and our goal is to go above and beyond expectations. We provide service without boundaries, limits, or governor. Just push service as far as you can. A good culture helps an employee trust that they can serve without barriers. The company system supports and rewards those customer service behaviors! Have you ever had an experience where a cashier or customer service representative indicates that they need manager approval and the manager never comes or arrives in what seems like an unacceptable time frame? All of this for a simple product return or change in your purchase! That’s a poor business system at it’s best.

We think empowering employees to think to the Nth Degree is just part of the answer to providing an Outside-In® experience. This enables us to create Nth Degree moments that are spontaneous and authentic.

However, the real magic in creating Moments of Truth is to think about those key moments of interaction with your customer. How can you save them time? Speed up the process? Enhance the experience? How can you make that moment memorable and ensure every customer experiences that Moment of Truth? Our goal is to make Outside-In® and Nth Degree a repeatable thing. Full of great in the moment Moments of Truth and planned Moments of Truth.

The sky’s the limit to Nth Degree service thinking. The key is to take each part of your business and brainstorm how to be more Nth Degree. One of the ways we practice our Nth Degree value as a team is to partake in charity work for our community. We have a charity of the month program where each month we fundraise and donate our time and services to a charity in need.

Try and pilot it. Measure it. Operationalize. Then repeat!

Here’s to Nth Degree moments!

Selling Yourself “Short” as a Sales Professional

December 10th, 2014

Being in Sales has an incredible upside. Unlimited earnings (or at least more variable pay opportunities than most of us!), flexibility in your schedule (try to find a sales person on Friday afternoons that is not with a “client”), and the opportunity to travel (living out of your car still counts as travel). However, all of these have a natural “dark side”. In fact, everything listed above is a sales stereotype. Some good in them as many folks romanticize the “idea of being in sales”  and some find it repulsive. Why?  Because the behaviors of sales people support the stereotypes—don’t be one of them! Sales is about targets and quotas of activities, contracts signed, and widgets sold. Have these things in abundance and you have freedom and control. Off plan? Well, plan to loose all of that freedom and the

One of the biggest areas of weakness in salespeople I observe is that they always and often seem to go for the immediate sale. Close the deal now. I know it is a small one, however, I have to book revenues and keep up with my targets right? However, I find that it takes just us much work, effort, time, and investment for just about any sales situation. And for some reason this is one the hardest things to change in salespeople. I personally think fear, trust, and the anxiety of waiting make it hard for some.

So why not sell larger deals if it takes the same amount of time and energy?

  1. ID-100261332Perception/Trust. We all perceive that larger customers take too long, even more time than our sales plan will tolerate.  What if I put all of that time in and the deal falls apart?
  2. Skill. Sometimes larger deals get missed. The salesperson does not know how to approach or engage the customer that requires more then booking the order. They don’t know their product or service once they get “off script” from their training.
  3. Earning the right to be disruptive and to challenge. Most sales people I know are afraid to challenge, ask questions, and make recommendations that are off the script or fall outside of the proposal.
  4. Fear of not meeting short term quotas.  If you take on too many long term meetings how will you ever meet this month or quarter?
  5. Believing that sales is “only” a numbers game. Sales requires numbers and effort. However there is something to be said for balance, efficiency, and getting better at sales.
  6. Big deals get others on the team involved. All of a sudden a salesperson needs to get a team together and possess skills in project management, resource allocation, problem solving, solution architecting, and much more than just relationship management.

Larger deals do take time. When they come they are game changers. Be patient and realize larger customers challenge what you know and make you better. So that the small ones seem easier.

Don’t believe me right? Most don’t. That is why sales is so hard. It is hard to believe and trust.

3rd Annual Holiday Infographic

December 9th, 2014

Happy Holidays from the Outside-In® Companies!

We looked back on our year through mint, gold & rose colored glasses. Take a look at our year in numbers through our 3rd Annual Holiday Infographic!

 

CBI Way: What’s Your Sourcing Strategy?

December 3rd, 2014

With a difficult requisition, sourcing usually requires a new strategy, unless its a position you or your team has worked previously. Sourcing is tactical. It takes critical thinking and an overall strategic focus to be efficient. But what goes into developing an effective sourcing strategy? Let’s discuss a few things to consider when tackling your next hard-to-fill requisition.

ID-10049952By this point in the process, you should have an excellent grasp on the position details, summary, requirements, and the ideal candidate. Additionally, knowing the focus of the client’s strategy is key, be it a long-term or short-term recruitment strategy. As discussed often, constant and open communication with the client is also essential.

Now it’s time to start asking yourself some questions about the ideal candidate you are searching for while executing your strategy. Where would this person be engaging with other industry professionals? Whether it be social media, networking events, associations, publications, etc. Where would you most likely find your candidate “hanging out”? Identifying these outlets is going to go a long way in determining what appeals to and gets the attention of passive candidates.

This part of developing the strategy can lead to approaches you may not have originally established. It is going to be much easier to productively promote and market the opening when all of the outlets most frequented by target candidates are identified and investigated. However, mapping out locations of ideal candidates is just one of the steps to developing an effective sourcing strategy. Check out the next CBI Way Blog where we’ll continue to discuss putting together your approach to sourcing for a hard-to-fill job.

Happy Thanksgiving from Outside-In® Companies!

November 26th, 2014

Each year, the Outside-In® team likes to express our gratitude in a fun and unique way. This year we asked our team members what they are most thankful for and had them write it all down on a piece of paper to create an appreciation wall. View our video below to see what we are most thankful for!

Wishing all of our customers a safe & happy holiday!

A “Healthy” Culture

November 19th, 2014

ID-100268432To be healthy and to have energy most of us know that we must “eat right” and exercise. Living a sedentary lifestyle is not good for the body. Getting up and moving is the key to building a strong, resilient, and flexible body. Most of us have a dozen excuses for not working out. We are busy, life gets in the way, kids, commitments in the community, yard work, organizing your sock drawer. Did I mention kids?

We find it hard to set a routine up and stick with it. Have you ever heard anyone say, “I have been exercising like clockwork for 6, 10, 14 months and it was the worst decision of my life. I have lost weight, have more energy, and have less stress in my life. Terrible decision.” Not likely.

I think culture is the same way. In order to have a healthy, energetic culture, an organization and its leaders must do the equivalent of exercising and eating right. The company must have a plan to work at its culture! Leaders don’t time to have a cultural plan, right? I think you don’t have time not too. Your culture, when alive, aligned, and clear, does a very nice job of creating meaning and a bigger purpose for your customers, employees, and key stakeholders. Quite frankly, your culture sends a clear message whether it’s alive and aligned or not.

The great thing about culture work is that I don’t think it matters where you start as long as you start somewhere. Starting will create action and ideas that will keep your culture work alive and vibrant.

Looking for some ideas on where to start?

  1. Define your organizational values with your team. Find ways to talk about them at staff meetings, training sessions, daily huddles, etc.
  2. Reward, recognize, and hold accountable employees to the values.
  3. Meet with employees. Ask them what the organization must stop, start, and continue doing.
  4. Create cultural priorities.

Outside-In® Chronicles: 10 Ways to Avoid Being an Average Salesperson

November 12th, 2014

Over and over again I meet average salespeople with average results that sell middle of the road products and services. Everyone from the company, including senior leaders/founders, sales leaders, and salespeople, all want and need more results. Salespeople want to hit the quota, make big commissions, and earn bonuses. The company typically has a strategy that involves growing—whether it be into new territories, industries, or segments. Lots and lots of work is done on setting goals and targets, and in fact, this work is continuous and never ending.

So why are so many salespeople off plan right now? I will tell you what I have learned. Most of this is not original, rather I am an “aggregator” sharing a combination of ideas and experiences to address this epidemic of sorts.

10. Don’t sit next to an average salesperson. Sales is lonely. Salespeople flock together for support and companionship. The problem is that they learn from each other—good and bad habits. When they are uncertain about something they ask one another instead of those that can actually help.

9. Avoid calling on the same people over and over again. Salespeople like to talk to people those who are nice to them, those who will take their call, and those who will meet with them. In a world of disruption this is comforting. However, they are not the real buyers. The person you might want to talk to is a change maker and they might not want to talk to you unless you can guide them through the change they want and need to make.

statcred8. You keep saying you’re there to serve at their beck and call. Sales today is about more than just problem identification and being there with your iPad ready to take the order. Today’s salesperson has to be able to add value in assisting the person in making decisions, not waiting for them to make it.

7. Confidence (or lack of it). The product is changing constantly. Your customers world is shifting and changing, too. If you stand still too long doing the same things you will have not changed enough and you will quickly become an average salesperson. It’ll happen so fast you won’t even know what hit you.

6. The accumulation effect. You simply do not put enough into your sales pipeline. You must collect leads to build prospects. Prospects must become conversations, bids, proposals, and solutions in draft. This takes a while. Average salespeople sit on what they have and pray that there is enough in their pipeline to meet their goals. However, really good salespeople put more in the pipeline all of the time, forever.

5. Time. It simply takes time. How many touches does it really take? Usually 6-10.

4. You don’t make enough happen. Send one more email. Go to one more networking event or trade show. Make one more call. You aren’t doing enough!

3. You dump the features and benefits of your product or service. In today’s world your buyer has never, ever been able to get more information on you, your business, your service, your competitors, and frankly, even your pricing. Everything is available in today’s connected world. Help your customer sort through it all!

2. Customers buy you first! How good have you been climbing the relational ladder from Ed Wallace’s Building Relationships That Last? Do you make commitments and keep them? Are you showing how you can be a trusted advisor and do you know how to do this?

1. In Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. Are you willing to put that kind of time in? Are you good enough to make it that long? How do you get from where you are now to mastery? At eight hours a day this will take you a good five years of focus.

CBI Way: How RPO Affects Your Brand

November 5th, 2014

ID-100221395Guest blog spot by Outside-In® Team Member Alex Patton

The CBI Way series has been discussing the value and importance of strong candidate engagement, and just as important, customer engagement. We spoke to some of the problems that are created with a lack of engagement, such as poor time-to-fill and loss of qualified candidates. Also discussed were a couple tips for curving weak engagement between partners, a daily or weekly meeting, for example. But what about the customer’s brand and reputation when it is outsourcing talent acquisition?

Working in an RPO partnership, the provider is essentially an extension of the customer, which cannot be forgotten. Think about it, the designated recruiters are reaching out to candidates and other professionals on behalf of their customer, even when just networking. While actively recruiting, the brand the candidates hear isn’t the provider’s, but the client’s, the business with the open requisitions. If the candidate feels overlooked, awaiting feedback, not only might he or she lose interest, but the customer’s brand and reputation can be negatively impacted.

Constant communication and alignment is essential to prevent any negative impact that could occur. Commitment to asking questions about the requisitions, company culture, and an equally strong effort from the client can be the difference between success and failure. Gather as much information as possible that can be applied to the job, company, and hiring process during the recruitment efforts, ultimately creating a better candidate experience.

Again, RPO is a partnership, and a commitment to the process and its many layers can be the difference between a frustrating situation and an efficient, brand-building placement.

The CBI Way blog series explores the tools and practices used in Talent Acquisition. CBI Way is CBI Group’s recruiting approach and methodology – it’s how we do what we do! Check in with CBI Way for insights around workforce education and training, the latest trends in recruiting technology, and how to best utilize these tools towards improving your own recruiting practices.

 

What I Do, Why I Do It, and How I Do It

October 29th, 2014

The Outside-In® Companies exist to optimize customer talent challenges. I believe this is best accomplished by making sure our culture acts as our internal compass. Everyone is in charge of their own career and our values exist to enable employees to maximize their performance in their work. This natural culture promotes quality customer work in the purest sense—if you’re empowered, have challenging work, good training, and a servant leader mentality, you will create a special work environment.

ID-100278237I listen. I listen to customers, prospects, employees, and applicants. Even partners and suppliers. Then I aggregate information to see patterns and trends. This is our R&D. This is how we will build new service lines and brands for the Outside-In® Companies. We all want to survey customers and have focus groups. Formality in market testing ideas is fine, but knowing what your market place needs is a risk I see us continuing to take.

We will continue to listen. We must continue to be workforce and workplace experts. Our customers need the consultation as being in business and its many changes really impact how work gets done today. The workforce knows it needs different skills and assistance today—we must be its agent to help navigate.

The economy seems to be in constant change and flux and we are in industry that celebrates and suffers along with it. We need to continue to look to reduce that volatilty with our plans. I imagine this will take on a combination of geographic expansions, customer penetration across our brands, and the inevitable expansion into new and different service lines.

I create the routine. My job is to create the pulse for the business and to drive its rhythm. How do we communicate to whom? How do we plan and share information? I keep this pulsing like clockwork.

I encourage the heart. We want to create an environment where hard work and living our values creates extrinsic/intrinsic rewards for employees. Anyone can solve a problem, tackle a project of their choosing, or speak to whomever they want in the business. The why may not be obvious here. Innovation, confidence, proactivity, and engagement all come from within when the right environment is nurtured.

I am a teacher and a coach first. I love to help others know more and believe that knowledge should not be used as a bargaining chip in business. The more my team knows, the more confidence and self esteem they have and I trust the correlation between the two. We must be a market leader with training—there is only a cost when you don’t train.

I help my team interact with prospects and customers differently. We are consultative in a world where this is typlically just considered words that mean nothing. I continue to show that when you’re able to translate your expertise to your customers’ challenges and opportunities, the rest comes easily. The very act of learning their business builds lasting relationships and a trust that fully takes you from being in sales to a trusted partner.

Outside-In® Chronicles: He Who Can Provide Outside-In® Leadership Has the Whole World with Him

October 15th, 2014

Each month our leaders focus on learning and development. Do you consistently allocate time for shared leadership experiences and discussion? This form of renewal really brings the team together and gives us time to think about how accurately each of us lead. Recently, we have been working from Dale Carnegie’s original self-help book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. This book is one of the most important influences on the way we do things as a business—specifically how we deal with people!

images2We have been focused on Chapter 3, “He Who Can Do This Has the Whole World with Him. He Who Cannot Walks a Lonely Way.” My leaders discussed and discovered that we have a tremendous role in understanding our staff’s needs and wants. How many times do we present ideas or share our opinions in a way that is good for us? How often do we think, write, or present in a way that is of the other person’s interest? We all think about ourselves before others—this is simply human nature. However, to be truly Outside-In® leaders, we have to start with the other person’s interests first. As the book says, we must learn to “bait the hook to suit the fish.” Just because you like something doesn’t mean that others will and vice versa. Are we really ready to talk in terms of someone else’s interests? We better be.

We can use our title as ammo or yell as a leader to get things done for a moment. Cracking the proverbial whip works once or twice but only for a very short period of time. A sales person can be successful every now and again when they talk about what they want, their product and service, their quota, their tough day, etc. However, consumers want to feel like they are really being listened to. They want to buy, not be sold to. And they want to know that their needs are being met.

How can you take into account the other point of view? We made our list together as leaders.

  1. Listen. Talk less. Be clear that we understand what others want and need.images
  2. Be clear about what needs to be done, especially as we understand how staff wants to do their jobs.
  3. Create a reminder of the hook and the fish concept. What bait do you need to have an effective employee, customer, or family discussion?
  4. Be aware of wants and needs as we delegate. If done correctly, delegation is the key to knowing exactly what these wants and needs are.
  5. Be clear about expectations.
  6. Give staff the opportunities to explore.
  7. Remember that not everyone’s way works all of the time. Sometimes a good leadership push is in order.

Outside-In® Book List

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