It’s December 2013. Did you Achieve Your Goals?

Fotosearch_k6336626Thought you’d like that headline. We have turned the January corner and if you are like many people in the corporate world you are still working on your 2013 goals. Yeah mine are done! Oh that was a bit smug wasn’t it. Well no matter, soon enough you will finalize them, get them approved, revise and then and finally they will be official. Perhaps you are one of the fortunate ones to be able to enter them into some goal tracking software your IT team created in their spare time. Oh boy, that’s a treat. Design is what you get free from your IT department (joke).

So what to do next? Well most of us breathe a sigh of relief that we finished the task and go back to doing “things,” otherwise known as our job. Time passes (quickly) and then there are the quarterly discussions. All of a sudden there’s only thirty days left in the year and panic sets in. “What are my goals? Maybe I should have a look?”

That’s followed by the self-evaulation. Piece of cake right? Naturally you were smart enough to have kept a list of your achievements each week during the year so the self-evaluation is largely a cut and past exercise. Oh, you didn’t do the tracking work? Bummer.

Did I say track accomplishments each week? Yes, you went to work every week right? Certainly you did important things like attend meetings. read emails, participate in fire drills and read reports. Blah, blah, blah. Why show up to work everyday if you don’t accomplish something? My guess is you accomplish a lot, so track it. What could be more important than your year end evaluation? Priorities people.

Pro Tip: Take some time right now, yes today, and write your end of year self evaluation. Transport yourself nine months ahead and envision what you would have accomplished in that huge block of time. Use your goals as a guide and be creative. What did you transform, create, fix, invent? This exercise helps you visualize what you want / need to do. It sets a psychological theme for the entire year. Yes things will change along the way and you will adjust and then re-envision.

Try this exercise, you will thank me.

Knowing where you will end up in December is most important in February.

I wish you success and victory in 2013.

Photo licensed from Fotosearch

Say Goodbye to the Call Center

Earlier this week I attended the Customer Response Summit in Hollywood, Florida. It’s an In The Know event, a company that stays on the forefront of how corporations are dealing with customer care and customer experience in this rapidly evolving digital landscape. We used to call it Web 2.0, but that doesn’t capture what’s happening today. Now it’s mobile, social, video and audio. Consumers adopt new technologies quickly. Certainly not everyone is on the cutting edge, but the numbers ¬†of people grow with each new cycle. They are the ones that demand firms adopt these new channels and they can no longer be ignored.

I was a speaker at the event and my topic was How to Turn Social Chaos into Valuable Brand Engagement. I shared my experiences, successes, and challenges of using Social Media to reach, engage and service customers. We operate using a very simple framework for social. Don’t over complicate it. Align it to your current business objectives, translate the tribal language into something more familiar, and prove it’s value.

I was impressed with the speaker lineup that included executives from FedEx, Time Warner Cable, General Motors, Disney, GoDaddy, ConAgra and others. I gleaned a number of takeaways:

  • Corporations are all working hard on how to improve the customer experience
  • Social Media and Mobile are moving much faster than corporate America
  • New customer care technologies will need to be considered and installed if firms wish to keep up with customers
  • There is no silver bullet; time to focus on weapons not ammunition
  • Everything you know is transferrable, but it will need to be re-interpreted
  • Data is still overwhelming insights
  • New silos have emerged (Great, more silos)
  • People are beginning to get it, proving value and taking steps
  • The call center of tomorrow will look very, very different (Think internal targeting, fewer phones, more direct contact with consumers on the web)
  • Consumers are gaining more and more power (That’s fine, just be gentle guys)
  • Embrace change, or risk being irrelevant some time soon
  • Call center managers are starting to shift their thinking from controlling cost to creating value
  • It’s very, very difficult to move away from “average handle time” (AHT) for hard core call center types
  • One of the most frequently asked questions for Disney is, “When time does the 3:00 parade start?”

What i’m seeing is the way we service customers is rapidly¬†changing. Consumers operate in real time while firms operate in batch. There is a serious need for a centralized customer database that’s agile and can be easily shared by any of the marketing and service channels/departments that exist inside as well as outside a company.

Partnering is becoming even more important. If your company has an “It’s built better here” mentality, you are already falling dangerously behind. No one firm can keep up with what’s going on out there. Truth be told, they never could, but the pace of change was slow enough in the past to not be too damaging. Today that pace can cause fatalities.

The call center will evolve into a contact command center. More consumers will self-service through progressively easier to use interfaces and devices. Agents that answer the phone today will be transformed into agents that use their web browser to connect with consumers. Information will be pushed to their desktops by sophisticated listening devices constantly spidering the ether for immediate response. Proactive not reactive. Pre-service, like pre-crime from Minority Report. The agents of tomorrow will be more aligned with the business and more empowered than ever. This in turn will empower consumers and leave us all more time to focus on what’s really important.

The networking was the most valuable aspect of the event for me. I met some outstanding professionals and had some great conversations that I hope will continue. View some of the event videos here.

The Creative Brief and a Stop Sign

The creative Brief can be the scourge or the hero of any project. No one really wants to craft one, but everyone says how important it is. We all know that without a well written and concise creative brief, you won’t get what you are expecting. So why is there such resistance?

Our E-Business team has been working on revising our creative brief for the last few months. We started with the form used by our internal Creative Services team, but since they really don’t do interactive marketing, it was heavily analog skewed. So that forced us to supplement that document with a client input brief.

That led to groans by business partners who had to fill out yet another form. We have now combined them into one CB that we hope will help our colleagues articulate what they want, so we can deliver a product that sings. The other action we are taking is to attach the CB to all deliverables and have it travel throughout the life of the project. My experience is once the brief is done, it’s off to the races without ever looking back to what was written. At today’s training on how to use the new CB we stepped back to have a little fun by watching a video. It’s a hypothetical (I hope) situation of what might occur if you asked a big company to create a stop sign. Some things I’m sure you will recognize. Enjoy.