Posts Tagged: Customer Centric


How to Make Your Business a Talent Magnet

September 21st, 2016

Every company, large and small is challenged when it comeVector business conceptual background in flat style. The hand of businessman holding magnet and attracts happy customers or clients of different age and race to the business.s to attracting, developing, and retaining the best talent. For decades now, “lean” has been the buzz word in manufacturing. The lean business model has spread across industries, including the recruitment of quality talent. Here are a few tips to help you attract and keep the best and brightest, while remaining efficient:

Attract

What if, instead of bearing the cost of recruitment, (fees, travel expenses, etc.) you could have all the top candidates be drawn to you like a magnet? Corporations such as Apple and Google have perfected the art of employer magnetism. But you don’t have to be a tech giant to create a similar attraction.

Businesses need to focus on creating a workplace environment in which people enjoy working, according to Roberta Matusun, author of Talent Magnetism: How to Build a Workplace That Attracts and Keeps the Best. She also points out that, apart from the product or service they offer to consumers, businesses should also brand themselves as an employer.

Create Purpose

A mid-sized California BioPharm company has been able to capture the element of purpose. They boast a job satisfaction rate of 77% of their 18,000 employees. Almost all of them (90%) stated that they feel as though they have a “high job meaning.” Purpose is especially important when you are targeting a younger workforce as Millennial generation; it is said, work for the purpose, not the pay.

How to Create Purpose

Graham Kenny, writing for the Harvard Business Review says purpose, is not a company’s values, mission or vision. Your purpose statement needs to say; “this is what we are doing for our customers.”  To craft an effective purpose statement, it is important to convey the impact your organization has on the lives of the people it serves. Success in this area will inspire your employees to become invested.

Engage, Motivate, Retain

Face it, at times it is simply hard to get out of bed in the morning. Imagine working in an environment where you wouldn’t be missed if you didn’t show up at all. It is imperative that the modern workplace is structured to make employees feel integral to the day-to-day operations. Doing so creates a culture of engagement and a feeling that the success of their organization is dependent on the full participation of each individual, no matter their position. When employees feel motivated, they become more engaged, and that translates directly into improved retention.

By creating a corporate culture in which employees enjoy working, feel they have a purpose, and understand how they connect to the overall “big picture,” you will not only attract the most desirable talent but most importantly, inspire them to stay.

What is Outside-In?

February 4th, 2016

Although Outside-In® is a regular topic in my blog, the definition tends to elude some readers. By definition, Outside-In® is when a business is customer-centered. It is a philosophy, a culture, a way of thinking that impacts the way a business and its employees operate. When you’re Outside-In®, you are always listening to your customers’ needs and wants for opportunities to improve, drive change, or try something new for your customers.

I know many leaders that pride themselves on focusing on the customer exclusively — kudos to them. But how many leaders truly turn outward first, then build a company that does the same? A leader’s focus on the customer does not necessarily translate into every employee. Outside-In® suggests that leaders don’t have to hold the customer’s wants and needs on their shoulders alone. In a world that is moving faster every day, isn’t it better to have everyone in the organization listening and reacting to customers, instead of just one or a few?

Outside-In® companies should and can run like one, big, constant focus group. Imagine a focus group that never ends, where employees get to ask the questions and observe the customers’ behavior. What if these observations were collected and cherished every day and that company decisions and plans were driven based on all the customer insights collected? In an eternal focus group, every employee sees the impact the company has on the customer and when that impact is negative or unproductive, each employee has the opportunity to recognize how the issue could be addressed.

Employee IdeasLast year, Comcast NBCUniversal awarded employee ideas in the company’s internal ‘Shark Tank’ competition, The Idea, which challenged employees (139,000+ globally) to come up with the next big idea to make the company better. Employees responded to challenge, submitting 200 submissions within two hours of the program’s announcement, and nearly 3,000 ideas in the end. All employees’ suggestions “for enhancing the customer experience or driving innovation and new business opportunities.” Maggie Suniewick, a Senior VP for the company and organizer of the competition shared, “We have so many talented and engaged employees with really good ideas — they just haven’t always known how to share them more broadly.” The Idea winner, Nathan Kalish agreed with executives inspiration behind the competition, “We have to look to employees and consumers to identify needs and challenges,” he says. “And if we want to adapt and grow, we need to respond.”

Google is another example of a company that not only rewards employees but also their customers who uncover vulnerabilities in Google’s system. Last year, Google rewarded Kamil Hismatullin who discovered that he could delete any YouTube video file in minutes. Instead of exploiting this information, he reported the code he used to Google, who fixed the issue within a few hours and gave him $5,000 as a thank you. And just this week it was reported how much Google paid the man who bought the Google.com domain back in October 2015. What would Google do if they no longer had Google.com?!

There are lots of companies that practice the Outside-In® behavior of listening to customers to fix problems, make improvements and implement new ideas. And you don’t need to be a big company with a huge bank account like NBCUniversal or Google. Harvard Business Review notes one Japanese company Idemitsu, which gets more than a hundred ideas per employee each year without offering any bonuses. Imagine your company living with a customer-centric mindset 24/7! Wow, think of the money you could save. Or how much your company could make with new ideas?

New Year Leadership Planning Tips

January 6th, 2016

Outside-In® Chronicles: a throwback post, originally published five years ago in January 2010

2016 Leadership PlanningLeaders often ask me about how they can be a better leader tomorrow. What can they do right now to have impact on their business. I find the key is to know how to plan and approach leadership actions creatively. Still not sure what I mean? Leaders do stuff — they are in meetings, they make and take phone calls, they solve problems, etc. As a leader you could spend all day reacting to the world around you. In fact, it never stops coming. All day long the cell phone rings and the inbox fills up. Yet this is not leadership. And it’s certainly not planned, thoughtful leadership. Leadership planning is a way to have a real impact. To be proactive and creative in improving the lives of your employees and the productivity they can achieve.

No matter what industry you are in, you will inevitably have customers, employees, vendors and prospects in your day. The best way to plan? Let’s start by thinking about any employee. What do they need right now? A compliment?  Recognition? A tough talk? Someone to listen? Training? Your job is to eliminate barriers for your employees while holding them accountable, to remind people that they have something to learn, let them know you’re there to help and that you care.

Still not so sure what to do? Think about your customers next. Who can use a proactive call from you. Have you pulled the team together just to talk about a customer when there is not a problem? This is where the real opportunity lies.

  1. Leadership planning is scheduled time.
  2. Leadership planning involves critical thinking.
  3. Leadership planning can be exciting and creative if you know how.
  4. Leadership planning is a basic skill that can change your world. And your employees.

Do this homework assignment on a Sunday night.

  1. Take out a note pad. Right out your top to do’s for the week/Monday.
  2. Analyze the list. How much is recurring or just work to do?
  3. Make a list for an employee or special project.
  4. Think about them. What do they need from you to be more successful?
  5. Make plans.

Remember we all can get better, all of the time. And we will if our leaders can impact us in a meaningful way.

Need help to have real impact or want to share your ideas with others? Would love to hear more from you; we all have something to learn!

The Practical Guide to Implementing the Value of Defined by Three Customers

May 27th, 2015

First things first, we all know there is only one paying customer. For the purposes of our value, specifically the way we think, we define our three customers as employees, paying customers, and vendors.

3Customers-01-150x150Defined by Three Customers is about balanced thinking and decision making for all three customer subsets. This is a compass designed to help guide us—it’s not foolproof nor perfect. However, it’s much more balanced than an equation where no thought or care for one “customer” comes into play.

Are you wondering if/how this is relevant to you? I can prove it to you! Did you ever work for the manager that never let his or her people leave the department or post for other positions? The manager’s needs in their job tend to get in the way of the needs of employees or the employer.

How about the salesperson who seems to never hit their plan because they are telling the marketplace and their prospects that they have a monthly quota to hit? They don’t do it intentionally, mind you. They show it in their actions—they are not balancing prospect needs and wants with their own needs.

How can you live the value Defined by Three Customers?

  1. As an employee taking care of your customer who will eventually take care of you, do things for your customers to add value and they will come back!
  2. Challenge (in a good way) and get to your vendors. You would be surprised what they can do to help if you share where you’re taking your business and what value they can bring to you get there!
  3. Sometimes one “customer” wins and another loses in the short term. We must have a long-term view. We can’t always get the employee the raise nor the feedback they crave. A vendor can’t always give favorable terms on their business. A leader can’t always make a balanced decision—their short budget depends on the quick hit. The key is to stay focused on the doing right things right everyday and we will balance the scales in the long run!
  4. Defined by Three Customers is an equal number of debits and credits in the relationship bank account. Make sure you’re taking care of your stakeholders all of the time!
  5. Think longer term. Think about taking care of all groups. Imagine you will break bread with your three customers on a regular basis. When we think about long-term relationships, we moderate our short-term needs and wants!

Why Customers Choose an Entrepreneurial Business Over Big Business!

June 4th, 2014

ID-100263570I have often wondered why our customers chose a private, entrepreneurial company as a partner over a larger vendor that on the surface offers the potential of more. More offices, more potential services, deeper pockets, etc. I have learned that when you get out in front and talk to customers and prospects that customers have their reasons for working with startups and small business alike. (After all that is one of the big three things I think a leader should always do.)

For one thing large companies strive to act small today. Most CEO’s talk of talent management challenges in their big businesses. We need to change to survive and thrive. We want to buy new companies or start new divisions. This all starts with employees and their mindsets—a mindset that is deeply embedded in the world of most growing entrepreneurial companies. Today business is about speed, responsiveness, and agility. It’s your choice to try and turn the Queen Mary or a small, maneuverable boat. I know who wins that race every time!

Innovation. Why do big companies buy small companies? Or help start them? Small business creates out of necessity. Big companies have too much to lose while fighting to keep what they have. In small business, there is less to protect and risk and market share is irrelevant. In order to survive and thrive the business must create real value.  Employees know this and must create value every hour. Compare that to most big companies that expect a day’s work for an hour. Innovation, thinking, creativity, and trying new things is often left to the Research and Development department or for the Senior leaders to decide. Every employee in a small business is a leader, a change maker, and a risk takerthat is where value is created!

Being a big fish in a small pond can have its advantages! Do you want to be a big customer number or a an important customer that makes a big difference to your company? This is a choice. Sometimes you have to go with the biggest and the best brand that guarantees your choice will not be questioned when the implementation goes wrong or delivery schedules are off. An entrepreneurial business gives its full attention to a large customer from top to bottom in the organization. The small business puts its best forward, is most likely flexible and interested in customizing its offering, and will pay more attention to you than one of your many new customers!

Local Leadership of a regional company is often more talented and more customer-centered then a large multi-national. I have lived this one myself.  Successful regional companies have high concentrations of leaders compared to big companies. We are more customer focused in our jobs because we do not have to spend a large part of our time managing up to corporate! Not that corporate is not important.  However, it is not Outside-in® and adding customer value directly!

You’re getting more economic value from your purchase when you buy from an entrepreneurial company. My dad used to say, “You will never pay for my fancy office and marble floors in the lobby.” With small businesses, your spend goes to the actual margin of the product instead of the operating expenses of a large corporate infrastructure!

Would you rather deal with me, President of an entrepreneurial company or a big business regional VP with territory responsibility and no authority to make decisions unless it’s in his or her zip code?  Don’t answer! It’s all about your purchasing playbook anyway.

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

October 9th, 2013

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.

Why Our Culture is Upside Down and Outside-In®

May 22nd, 2013

Our culture is upside down. We take a traditional organization and reverse the thinking. The folks on the top of the page? Customers. The employee.  Who is at the bottom? The leaders. Our culture is upside down because the old way does not work here any longer.  Its too slow. Leaders too far away from the action and ill-equipped to make all of the decisions.

So this is crazy talk right? Who makes the decisions? Who has the responsibility? Who is in charge? Who is the leader?  Well everyone is around here. We all have the best chance to blow away our customers if we are empowered and if we act like we own the place.

We feel like we own the place because of the trust, respect, and authority that is bestowed upon us. This is a sacred bond and trust. We are honored to take up the mantle, and we never want to let ourselves, our customers, our peers down. We do things because we want to; because we are allowed to think, not just do the task we are assigned! This is what being valued and living the culture of Everyone is a Leader is all about.

So here is the interesting part: We can all act like leaders, even if we don’t have the title.  But if you have the “title”, leaders are on the bottom because we serve the organizational needs.  Our role is to provide for the success of others.  Our job is to plan for, provide the tools, environment, training, and spiritual support so that folks can really let go and perform at a high level!

The First 30 Seconds

May 1st, 2013

At our company we examine every customer interaction and decide how we could take that experience as far as we can. We call this our Service to the Nth degree value. Can we take every moment of interaction to an extreme? How could we make it better for that person? For example, how can we answer a phone call with Nth degree thinking? Try getting to the caller quickly and eliminating voice mail. Or perhaps, always answer in three rings – or better yet, two. (Maybe even one!) Why keep that customer waiting? Create the best Outside-In experience you can.

However, today’s blog is about extending that service impression to the process of sales. In fact to put a fine point to it, for those of us that have to introduce ourselves and our companies to prospects, this is about the first 30 seconds of an interaction! Sales people struggle with the first introduction. Most of us spend hours preparing and researching our target. We know about their last annual report, we have read the press releases, we know about our competitors. My guess is that you’re loaded up with marketing materials. You have brochures, white papers, and case studies coming out of your ears.

So what do you need to focus on during the first 30 seconds? First off, your words.

1.  Be crystal clear with your purpose.  Sales people of the world… face it – we’re not crystal clear with our purpose in the first 30 seconds! We wander in these early conversations. We try to connect and “build relationships”. We try to impress with our knowledge of our offerings. We ask for the “order” when our prospect barely knows us. Be direct without being pushy. Be authentic.

2.  Don’t ask for a relationship right out of the gate. It is weird to ask to build a relationship in the first call. It did not work in the hallways of high school, and it is just as well, creepy when selling. This is just too much of a leap of faith for an audience that really is still paying attention to their email or the project they were working on when you called them and interrupted them.

3.  Differentiate yourself. Oftentimes, we act like and conduct business like everyone else. You could insert any product into your introduction and you would sound like the other ten voice mail messages your prospect deleted this week. Make yourself stand out. Think about how your company differentiates itself and how you can communicate it. Don’t let your introduction be “one size fits all”.

4.  Make sure to speak in terms of customer benefit.  As sales people, if we’re not careful our opening conversation sounds something like this to our prospect, “I am Chris Burkhard, I work for my company, I am interested in getting to know you so I can sell you my product so that I can meet my monthly quota, because I am falling behind on my bills, and I really need this sale now, you see.  Truth is, I need a a quick hit to stay on track, and keep my sales manager off my back.” Does your introduction sound like me, me, me?  It is subtle but true.  Until we learn to speak in an Outside-In way and in terms of the customers benefit, we will always sound selfish. Who wants to build a relationship, ever, with someone that is all about themselves?

Sales people of the world, if you’re on plan then you can ignore me.  If you’re falling behind, I bet I know why, and I have the answer – it starts with your first 30 seconds.  How good are you and your company at first impressions?

Outside-In® Value Spotlight: Customer Centric

February 21st, 2013

We Are Customer Centric

Being Customer Centric is an attitude, a way of life, and our business philosophy. We are guided by our customers – thinking through the eyes of the customers at all times. For us, customers are at the center of it all, deciding what priorities we focus on and driving the change as we adapt and evolve.  -Outside-In® Pocket Guide

CBI-Pocket-Guide

The original Placers did anything and everything it could to make service the #1 priority for customers. That has carried over to CBI Group today. The root of being Customer Centric is really about putting the customer at the forefront of your daily thoughts. We all have so much to do each day, but is it with intention towards the one who pays the bills – the customer?

I like the idea of being competitive around service. Imagine if we all try to “one up” each other in our efforts to blow a customers mind. That kind of service is contagious. When you see others smile and practice it, Customer Centric thinking just becomes second nature. Service becomes easier, not harder. Imagine a world where every day you can make your company better. Imagine right now that you are 100% empowered to fix things around you. And that we want to really hone in on the fixes and hassles that can make us more and more Customer Centric.

I am always asked about the big stories of Customer Centric thinking, and I have one in mind to share. Many years ago, I was attending a sporting event that ended very late into the evening. In fact, as I was making the ride home some time after midnight my phone rang. This was a new customer who admitted to me that they had chosen to go with a competitor of ours. That competitor had promised them a recruiter to start that day (since it was after midnight) and they had just received an email that the company was unable to fulfill their initial promise. (You might think that I was being Customer Centric to even pick up, but all I did was answer the phone. The Customer Centric stuff comes next.) I started calling all of my leaders to ask if they might be able to help me help our prospect. Then it happened, Jamie O’Neill offered to go in that day.  Now this was no small feat! She had a team, a business plan, a full day, week, month of stuff to do. But we knew this really mattered, and we did it.

My memories around being Customer Centric involve the really big things in CBI Group’s history. But the best examples are the day-to-day ones. Seeing staff pick up a piece of paper off the floor. Watching a team member grab a phone call when someone is not available.  Customer Centric is really about executing the little things well. Customer Centric is our recruiters driving candidates around the weekends to show them schools, and nice neighborhoods and where the shopping mall is located. Customer Centric is when folks step forward to do volunteer work (recruitment or not) on their own time because they know it is the right thing to do and full of good karma!

I sure would love to gather more and different Customer Centric stories all of the time.  Get some new ones, and commit to getting this sort of thing in orientation and training for others.  We all want to know how to fit in.

Imagine a world where all of us wakes up and plans to be Customer Centric? That is how we will get better all of the time!

CBI Group Recognized as Mid Market Leader in RPO

September 14th, 2012

by Kelly Hocutt & Kelly Murray

300+ Worldwide RPO Providers
50 were invited to participate in a customer survey
Only 21 were recognized last week
1 of those was CBI Group!

HRO Today administers annual surveys that rank the top Human Resources Outsourcing providers in varying categories to assist companies in selecting the best vendors in each space. CBI Group was recognized as an Honorable Mention and Mid Market Leader, among 21 companies acknowledged last week during a global webcast announcing the 2012 Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) Baker’s Dozen survey results.

“The recognition is a direct reflection of everything our business stands for, being a customer driven organization or as we would call it, being Outside-In®,” said Chris Burkhard, President of CBI Group. “This is not a growth award or a popularity contest, our customers gave direct feedback that put CBI Group on the list. Humbly, the words ‘Thank You’ come to mind. To all that helped make this happen!”

The RPO survey categorizes providers into three lists based on feedback from buyers. Those include, Enterprise Baker’s Dozen, Global Market Providers, and Honorable Mention & Mid Market Providers. The top 13 companies in each category are placed on the Baker’s Dozen List. The Global Market Providers must have two or more projects in two or more regions of the world.

The Honorable Mention list was renamed this year due to increased competition in the market. HRO Today found it is becoming harder to represent the scope of the market in 13 companies alone.

This year’s RPO survey included the largest sample size (over 900 verified customer surveys) of any HRO Today survey and was the largest RPO customer satisfaction study ever performed!

CBI Group is excited at the opportunity to receive valuable feedback from their customers to help improve and adapt their services to better serve them. Simply being recognized as a mid-market leader is worth celebrating, however, CBI Group is looking forward to learning more and continuing to improve their Nth Degree service in the hopes that customers recognize the difference.

“Thank you to our customers who participated in this survey!” – the CBI Team

Want to see this year’s list?
To see the Baker’s Dozen list, Global Market Leaders and the other companies on the Mid Market Leaders list: take a look at this year’s survey results here.

Outside-In® Book List

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