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October 2011

What does your perfect customer look like?

Bigstock_Microscope_796027We’ve talked before about how no one is a demographic.  But usually marketing plans  define the brand’s target audience as "moms, 35-50" or "men, 25-54."  I particularly love the 25-54 demographic. 

When I think about what I was like at 25 and how I am today — those are two completely different men.  And I’m only 48.  But I wouldn’t talk to or market to the 25 year-old Drew in any way, shape or form like I would the 48 year-old.

So relying on wide range demographics really promises that we’re going to either have very vague messaging or we’re going to leave out a portion of the group.

So what if instead, you got very specific. Down to an individual.  Some would call this a persona.  That’s okay by me too.  The point is…think past ranges and sweeping generalities.  Get focused.

Create the profile of an individual who you believe is the perfect fit for your offering.  Down to the nitty-gritty details.  What would an entry in their journal look like?  What are they like in the morning?  What is their guilty pleasure?  What’s their go-to password?  Where’s their dream vacation?  Use research to guide you, but let your insight and intuition take you where the research cannot. 

Make sure this is multi-dimensional.  Use images, sounds, music, smells.

While you’re doing this so you can better understand how this person intersects with your product, service or brand — don’t let yourself get boxed in.

Explore the sum total of them:

  • Their daily routines
  • What they worry about
  • Who matters to them
  • How they dress
  • Where they shop
  • Which brands they advocate for
  • How they unwind and socialize
  • How they dress/what they’d never be caught dead in
  • What causes matter to them?
  • Their favorite movie, music, books

You can go on and on…

Now, begin to describe why this person is absolutely ideal for your product, service or brand.  What it is about them that makes the match perfect? 

As you begin to do this, you’re going to start to get ideas.  Ideas of where to reach this sort of person.  Ideas on what will matter to him/her.  Where’s their watering hole — where do they hang out?  You might wonder what would turn them off about your packaging or pricing structure.  Where would you find and be able to communicate with a whole bunch of them?   How could you find a few and ask them to react to a new business strategy or product tweak?

All of a sudden….you’re going to be thinking in a fresh, new way and find paths you hadn’t explored before.

Have you ever used this technique?  Did it shift your thinking?  What made it work or not work for you?

 

~ Drew

Email size limits

Most email administrators require attachments to be below a certain size. Unfortunately, for the user, this can cause all sorts of headache when they need to send a document that is larger than this. For instance, Google has a standard 25 megabyte (MB) limit, which allows the vast majority of emails, but blocks the most problematic. I've used 25 MB as a limit before.

An Example

Without these limits, email would be virtually unmanageable for an organization of any Screen Shot 2011-10-28 at 10.52.44 AM size. Here's an extreme example of a server without limits, and what can go wrong:

A user sent a very large, 1024 MB (1 gigabyte (GB)) video file via email to eight people, four of which were other users within the email system, four of which were external to four organizations.

For the four internal emails, they all got delivered. However, the email is duplicated four times on the server, then cached on each of their personal devices. So the 1 GB email now is taking at least 8 GB of your organizations resources, plus it took the bandwidth to download the email, restricting email access 

For the four external emails, two of them got blocked, as the external server had a restriction that blocked the delivery of the email.

Two of them got delivered, but it required your mail service to use bandwidth to each of their servers to deliver the file, then at least 2 GB of each of the external service's storage space, and the bandwidth to deliver to their devices.

All in all, the one email used at least 12 GB of storage space, 8 GB of bandwidth, and wasn't delivered to two of the eight recipients. This is also ignoring document retention policies, which means that this space could easily be stored for years after the original email has been deleted.

Scaling this to entire organziations result in problems managing storage space and bandwidth, as both the number of users, and often recipients per email, goes up.

Alternatives

A very simple solution is to email a link to a shared resource. This could be a link to a web server, file server, sharepoint, or other collaboration space that both the sender and recipient has access to.

Many media companies will maintain an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) server, that allows external clients to share very large files with them. They're used to working with large files, so this provides an industry standard, yet antiquated, way of dealing with this problem.

Dropbox has also become a very popular resource for sharing files between small groups, as it allows the contents folder to be shared between devices without any real work done by the user.

If the amount of data is large, time is short, and you are geograpically close, there's usually the possibility of handing someone a thumb drive, too.

Of course, this is all assuming that the data isn't confidential. Since we started with email, which is unsecure by nature, this is a good assumption. Email security is another article.

- Jon Thompson

 

Occupy a responsibility

David-goodner-speaking-at-march-on-wells-fargoI never did receive high marks in sociology. So you may want to stop reading now. 

Otherwise Occupy a seat and weigh in with your own thoughts.

I had planned to start a discussion on some of the specifics regarding Occupy, meaning, looking at the specific needs, protests and arrests. However as I sat down with Des Moines own Cat Rocketship, who is on the communications team with Occupy Des Moines. She enlightened me to look at Occupy in more of a way that encompasses many aspects. It was a way that brought culture and social values more into play.

Des Moines may not resemble much about Wall Street, but Occupy Des Moines is doing its part to support the social movement. Is this movement something that is going to take shape? Time will tell.

Don't be so quick to judge. When the Occupy movement first launched “We are the 99%” grabbed me right away. While I think it carries a positive message, I had the same question you did… "Can an organization really represent 99% of a population?" Of course not. And just as any new uprising, Occupy is an organization that is still figuring out who it is while taking on several stereotypes.

Let me say this about stereotypes. Criticizing a group without offering any advice along with it, does not help anyone. Those of us who are involved in many organizations know that your critics are always the loudest. Complaining without suggesting makes one part of the problem, not the solution. Same goes for the organization itself.

So does Occupy have suggestions for solving the problems they have identified? I would say the movement is young and still has a lot to prove in this area. Not having a cohesive message and not knowing what you are fighting for breeds chaos. But chaos has been the basis for many strong social movements in our country.

According to Rocketship, Occupy is still trying to grow a voice and be heard. I think it has a long way to go to show that it is actually going to propose a way to change things for the 99%, but the voice is loud enough to have the potential to do so.

Rocketship enlightened me on one aspect I originally never looked at. The principals our country was founded on. That all men are created equal. That all different groups of people have a right to the same tools for success. And this isn't something Occupy wants to turn into a party or political debate. But rather start the conversation on a basis of democracy that we can all agree on. And making sure the 1% is doing its part to help others achieve their goals.

Some have looked at Occupy and brought into question at what level does personal responsibility come into play? Suggesting that those taking part in Occupy are looking for handouts. While that is a concern, this is one area I strongly appreciate about movements like Occupy. Protesters are taking the time and energy to be heard and to question our leaders. That is taking responsibility. As citizens it is our duty to question our leaders.

Regardless of your opinions on the topics Occupy is bringing to the forefront, I think there is a lot to appreciate about the way the movement is starting the conversation. I personally plan to attend a general assembly of Occupy Des Moines to educate myself if nothing else, with the understanding that 99% of us can't agree on many issues.

Will Occupy make a large enough difference to change Corporate America?

“It's tough to tell people they have the power to change,” said Rocketship.

And making sure people have that power is something worth fighting for.

- Jason Wells

More than gardening books on the shelf


A company has come up with a shelving system which hangs planters on the wall to bring live plants into your office or home. The breathe wall exchanges air with the surroundings and filters the air. The plants more or less inhale bad air and exhale good air.

A nice idea since when I go into a home or office without one green Indoor plant I get this sterile creepy feeling. And while plastic plants sometimes fool you, I am talking about live plants which grow and you have to water. 

Studies show sixwise.com indoor plants can improve indoor air quality by removing 87% of air toxins in 24 hours. Recommendations are to provide 15-18 good sized (that’s 6-8 inch pots) in the average 1,800 square foot house to help with air quality.  My keen mathematical mind comes up with a plant per 100 square feet so each room should have one or two plants. That’s a lot of plants!!


One researcher recommended to a company to have every employee within 45 feet of a plant. A much lesser density than one per 100 square foot but apparently still beneficial to the morale of workers. Another facet of plants is it just makes people happy and feeling good.

Palms and ferns are one of the best plants because they are used to relative low light levels at the bottom of the rain forest so they can grow in most places.  The plants also help stabilize the humidity in spaces which is good to fight colds and keep your nasal membranes feeling good in the winter.

- Rob Smith

Be the best you can be

Jessica Guidobono said, "Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it. Autograph your work with excellence." When people see your "autograph," what do they see?

An employee went to his supervisor to ask for a raise. "I am already planning on giving you a raise," she said. "Oh, great!" he said. "When will it be effective?" "As soon as you are," she explained.

Do you give your best in your role at work? If a thing is worthy of our time (...and we all certainly dedicate many hours to our professions), it is worthy of our best efforts.

In some of his speeches, Louis T. Rader relates that many top executives feel that a 99 percent effort is good enough. But here is the eye opener. If this figure -- 99 percent -- were converted into our daily non-industrial life, it means that:

  • More than 30,000 babies would be accidentally dropped by doctors and nurses each year.
  • Electricity would be off for fifteen minutes each day.
  • Twelve newborns would be given to the wrong parents daily.
  • 114,500 mismatched pairs of shoes would be shipped each year.
  • 18,322 pieces of mail would be mishandled per hour.
  • 2.5 million books would be shipped with the wrong cover.
  • Two planes would crash daily at Chicago's O'Hare.

Perfection is impossible for us to achieve. But doing and being one's best is not. Texas' first black congresswoman, Barbara Jordon, once said, "Each day you have to look into the mirror and say to yourself, "I'm going to be the best I can no matter what it takes." She never said, "I will be the best." She said, "I will be the best I can."

Think about the effort you put into being the best programmer, the best sales rep, the best leader you can be. How would you rate yourself on a 10 point scale, with 10 being "I consistently give my best" and 1 being "I'm a sluggard."

If your job is a self-portrait of you, are you proud of that portrait?

  • If you can honestly answer "yes," how can you ensure that you maintain that level of effort through the ups and downs of the workplace?
  • If you had to answer "no," what one thing can you do differently starting today that will begin to improve that picture of your and your effort?

- Shirley Poertner

 

"Let's deal with it later..." No, let's not

Lightning bolt!Image via Wikipedia

A guy comes up with a business idea. It is a pretty good idea.  He starts working on it.  The idea takes hold. Others start encouraging him. Customers begin to say a tentative "yes" to his offer. The guy gets a friend to help him out. The guy tells the friend he cannot pay him but can share some equity and that they should discuss the amount and terms. The friend says no, don't worry about it.  Let's deal with it later.

Later happens. The discussion takes place. The friend is insulted by the percentage offer of equity.  The friend bails on the business idea. They are no longer friends.

The difference of opinion on equity percentages was probably a factor of 10. As sad a situation as this is, it is not as bad as many I see. Partners must discuss these types of arrangements up front.

Waiting until after the fact is terribly dangerous. Not only are feelings hurt, there are potential legal ownership issues to deal with. To top it all off, if the two parties cannot come to a break-up agreement, it becomes a "he said" vs. "he said" issue and resolution becomes extremely difficult.

Do not leave partnership or ownership issues for later. If someone is going to be in business with you, make sure they know going in what they are signing up for.

The whitewaters of work and life

I recently had the joy of creating live visuals for an event organized by Mike Kleis of Executive Forums Iowa. Mike invited renown author and experienced business advisor Les McKeown to speak about his two books, “Predictable Success,” and, “The Synergist.”
White-Water_VISUALbyJWallace
As I sketched away on my iPad to visually synthesize the essence of his talk, I was blown away by what McKeown described.

My Two Takeaways:

  1. There are seven stages of growth and decline in a business life cycle: Early Struggle, Fun, White-Water, Predictable Success, Treadmill, Big Rut, and Death Rattle.
  2. Decisions are made and executed at different rates of speed according to the stage of growth or decline. Click here for my live visual of a decide-implement matrix.

The third stage, also called the “White-Water” stage of business growth, was especially intriguing to me. Here’s how McKeown explains it:

  • The business is running you, instead of you running it.
  • Your schedule is so full, you no longer have time for relationship building.
  • Firefighting isn’t just for the guys with the cool red trucks.

So, what does Mr. McKeown encourage us to do?

The book, Predictable Success, shares relevant advice for business leaders on how to move out of White-Water and into Predictable Success.

Chapters four and nine brought the following points to the surface for me:

  • Cover of "Predictable Success: Getting Yo...Cover via Amazon

    If you want to grow, recognize and implement the right balance of systems and processes.
  • Shift the way you make decisions so that you can better manage the complexity you face. Take a little more time to decide, so that you can execute on the right decisions more quickly (and avoid the wrong ones too).
  • If you don’t want to grow, do less and reduce complexity. There is nothing wrong with that.


This pinged my thinking. The stresses of the White-Water stage and the author’s advice on how to move out of it -- well, these apply to our personal lives, too.

What new systems and processes will you create in life and in work? Will you tweak the method and rate at which decisions are made and implemented, so that you can get out of White-Water, and move into Predictable Success?

- Jocelyn Wallace

Related Links:

Carol Roth Interviews Les McKeown

Gini Dietrich of SpinSucks.com Interviews Les McKeown

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Draw me a picture?

Trans0609largestbankruptciesThink for a minute of your favorite storybook from your childhood.  Imagine it in your head.  I'm guessing that what you saw weren't the words, but instead you saw the illustrations or pictures that went along with your favorite tale.

As human beings, we're drawn to visuals and from the time we were old enough to listen to our first stories, we've been taught to gleen meaning from them.

Combine that with the popularity of USA Today like graphics and charts and it's easy to see how infographics have become so popular. 

An infographic is a graphic visual representation of information, data or knowledge.  They can cover any topic but are often used to show relations between inidividual points of data.

Infographics can be a pretty powerful marketing tool as well.  And they're certainly not going anywhere. You can use them to define a process, show results, compare products or put context to complex ideas.

There are three key advantages to using inforgraphics in your marketing/sales efforts:

  • They increase understanding of complex issues
  • They increase recall of details, points of difference
  • They're easy to share, pass along

 Why not let your prospects (and customers) give you a boost by passing along your inforgraphic, which of course also contains your contact information?

I'd challenge you to look through your sales materials, marketing tools etc. to see if there's a natural story that could be told visually through an infographic.  

I think you'll be surprised at the potency of this marketing tool.

~ Drew

Backup strategies to prevent data loss

My previous article described different factors that result in lost data. It also said that I would discuss backup strategies. In reality, there is only one backup strategy:

Redundancy

Redundant Sign is Redundant courtesy MENE TEKEL via FlickrHaving multiple copies of your data is the only way to protect it. Of course, there are many ways to make data redundant, depending on how fast a business needs to be back online, and how much money they have to spend. 

  • External hard drives are cheaper and larger every year, and basic backup software is built into every modern Operating System. Recovery can take anywhere from hours to weeks, depending on the problem and what it takes to recover.
  • Cloud backup can be had for very little per month.
  • RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks) arrays will keep your server running even with one or more failed disks, but will only protect against hard drive failure.
  • Virtualization makes it possible for your server hardware to fail without any downtime at all, provided you have enough hardware.
  • At the top end of the scale, many larger companies have duplicate data centers in far away geographic locations ready to go in the event that their primary one is unavailable.

Of course hosting services have reduced the cost of all of these things significantly, but there is a bandwidth bottleneck that restricts many services.

There are two other strategies that people think of backup as well. However, they are false security, as they both have fallacies unless treated properly.

Synchronization 

When data is synchronized between devices, using technologies such as DropBox, Windows Profile Sync, and Mac OS X’s Portable Home Directories, it appears to be redundant. The fallacy in this is that when data flows two ways, it is easily deleted in either, or both, directions. 

  • Corruption could  cause an empty folder to sync with all computers where there was once vital data. 
  • The wrong timestamp is placed on a file, and data is reverted to an older version. 
  • There are now two entry points for malware, as it can flow in either direction.

That’s not to say that synchronization doesn’t have its purpose. It does. Dropbox is ubiquitous with the tech startup community. Document synchronization allows enterprise users to have the ability to take portables out of their offices, or even have a desktop and a portable. And our mobile devices would be much more work if our contacts, calendars, and email weren’t synchronized between devices.

Archival

I always cringe when a client tells me that they have a backup of their data, then produce a single external drive with their previous year of data on it. When I ask where the second copy of their data is, they shrug. When data is archived, it must still be redundant. 

Another problem with archiving is media lifespans. Technology changes. Media deteriorates. Without a plan to migrate archived data to new media every few years, a business may not be able to access the data at all.

One extreme example is when a client brought me data that was written on reel to reel tape in the 70s. I was asked to recover the data off of it. It took six months to find a tape machine and computer that was old enough to read the data at all.

I was astounded that it was found at all. 

-- Jon Thompson

Generation what???

Wait for it. Wait for it...

I can't wait any longer! This isn't a game. It's my career! It's my life!

According to the New York Times, today's young professionals are part of a new generation...

Welcome to "Generation Limbo."

Those words really caught my attention, and in a way they seem accurate. But only to an extent.

In many ways Allison Jones is right on with "What to Do While You’re Waiting It Out." Yes, the economy needs to see a period of continued growth. And yes, young professionals should look to new ideas to gain experience and knowledge in the meantime.

But you only live once and I don't want to spend my one life waiting it out.

Oh no, you're stuck in the middle of reading another "It's the economy, stupid" post...

But anyone who thinks the magical day is coming when the stock market starts to jump 100 points a day and companies start hiring millions of workers may be dreaming. In fact Generation Limbo could apply to anyone in the workforce. Even if you work for a well-established company your job is temporary. Just ask Bank of America employees.

For young professionals still defining their career, there is more and more evidence that the best way to do so is to create it on your own. Whether it be through entrepreneurship, freelance or contract work you can put your future more in your own hands by working for yourself.

More than anything, be open to new opportunities. Take the chance to get involved where you can. You never know where the road less traveled will take you. As young professionals, let's stand up to Generation Limbo and prove that it is actually code for Generation Opportunity!

P.S. Get excited for my next post in two weeks when we take a look at the new monster that is Occupy! Or is it?

- Jason Wells

Don't be the bass on the wall

Ever notice that you never see a fish on the wall with its mouth shut?

Opening your mouth can get you in big trouble sometimes. Knowing when to speak up - out of conviction, regardless of the consequences - and when to remain quiet. That's the challenge. It's like teetering on the edge of a precipice. Lean backwards? Or lean over the edge and plunge ahead?

We've been blessed with two ears and one mouth. That's not an accident.

William Penn said, "If thou thinkest twice before thou speakest once, thou wilt speak twice the better for it." My motto has always been, "If in doubt, don't." Saying that phrase to myself in the moment of indecision ("Should I say this or not?") has served me well in the workplace. Seldom have I regretted holding my tongue if that still, small voice inside my head raised a red flag in the heat of the moment.

Can you think of a time when you wished you'd kept your mouth shut because you felt like you ended up mounted on someone's wall for all to see, embarassed and regretful? Think right now of a motto that you can silently say to yourself in those moments of temptation to give yourself time to decide, "Should I say this or not?"

- Shirley Poertner

The power of perspective

Pasture at the Trainsjoch.Image via Wikipedia

One of the issues faced by long time employees is the loss of perspective.  

As the blinders of time narrow an employee's  perspective, they can easily get caught in the trap of  "the grass is always greener on the other side"  syndrome.  If this syndrome is left unchecked, they can become an organizational cynic.

Organizations that understand this maintain a robust training and education program to combat the loss of perspective. Exposing employees to new ideas and thoughts gives them an opportunity to view their work, themselves, and the organization in a different light.

Another tactic is to have a formal cross training program or job shadowing program.  Exposing employees to what others have to cope with in their daily routine can provide a new perspective.

A compelling and unique tool that some companies have implemented is a sabbatical program for long time employees.  This allows a longer and more intense period for employees to gain new perspective. 

These are just a few of the methods to keep the grass greener at work for employees.

- Victor Aspengren

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Don't fall for the "Reputation Defender" online scams

A couple of years ago I had a meeting with a desperate and defeated client. Due to some past personal and business turmoil, when you Googled his name, all you could see was negative stuff. A bankruptcy. A bad business deal. A public failure. Google alerts 1

However, what you saw online and the person who sat in front of me were two completely different people. The online image simply didn't match the real person, who was in a new line of work. He had totally turned his fortunes around and wanted the world to see his new successful life.

"Can you help me get rid of those old negative web results?" he asked.

The other day, I was listening to the Glenn Beck radio show and heard an ad for "Reputation Defender." It claimed that it would monitor your online presence and remove all negative references, for a small fee, of course.

I can see how this scenario would be tempting. Just pay some web jockey to erase all the bad stuff! There's just one problem with this. The Web is not some giant white board with a magic eraser. Information on the web, especially if it's a matter of public record, is not possible to change or delete. Just ask Rick Santorum, the presidential candidate who is suffering through a cruel web hoax, perpetrated by some political pranksters.

Back to my client. I asked him if he participated in social media. Not surprisingly, the answer was no. The first thing he needed to do was create some social media accounts. The same Google that was publicly humiliating him was the same Google that could save him. How? By creating social media content in places like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, he could make those negative links appear less prominent by pushing them down to page 2 or 3 of Google results. Here's how that works:

  1. Google loves social media and rewards you every time you post. It's algorythms are tuned to social content and rank it higher than almost anything else.
  2. You control your own social media accounts. You control what is posted and can screen all comments before they are posted.
  3. Social media accounts rise very high in natural Google results. Google my friend Drew McLellan and see what you get. Even though he shares the name of a famous web developer, Drew's social media accounts and blog rank higher than the thousands of web results of his namesake.
  4. Reserve your own URL. I highly recommend reserving "yourownname.com" before someone else does. I use GoDaddy.com but there are other services out there.

It takes time, persistence and hard work to push a negative result off your Google results page. It's disingenuous (at best) to promise otherwise. Use the money you would have wasted on "Reputation Defender" and use how to use free web tools like Google Alerts to monitor your own reputation. Then use Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and your own blog to create content that accurately represents you and your business. The more stuff you post, the quicker you will start smiling when you Google yourself.

Here is a site that compares these supposed "web reputation" services. The interesting remarks are in the comments section, as usual! Did you notice that I didn't link to Reputation Defender? That's because it's not worth your time to explore. Thanks for reading.

- Claire Celsi

Steve Jobs 1955-2011

612px-Steve_Jobs_Headshot_2010-CROP Without Steve, we'd all be using mainframe computers that fit in small rooms, rather than on our personal computers under our desks.

Without Steve, we'd all be typing commands into a prompt, rather than clicking and dragging icons around a window.

Without Steve, we wouldn't be able to watch video on our mobile phones.

Without Steve, we wouldn't be able to pass our tablets back and forth, rather than sliding our laptops.

Today, we lost the quintessential Henry Ford of our time.

Thank you, Steve. You didn't distort our reality, you changed it.

- Jon Thompson

What failure can teach you

99c Store Going Out of BusinessImage by RodBegbie via Flickr

At the Technology Association of Iowa's Pitch and Grow 5 gathering last week, I participated in a panel discussion on failure.  Any successful entrepreneur will tell you that failure is part of being an entrepreneur and part of finding success.  My fellow panelists included Christian Renaud of StartupCityDSM, Daniel Shipton of BitMethod, John Jackovin and Brian Thompson of Equity Dynamics.

Here is what I took away from the session:

  • Failure is a teacher if we recognize it as such.  Choose what you are going to do with what you learn from your failure(s).  That much is your choice.
  • It is challenging to recognize failure before it is terminal.  Make sure you have advisers that you are listening to and who are giving you honest feedback.
  • Failure can be tactical or strategic.  We fail every day. 
  • Many first time entrepreneurs will not recognize the failure before it is critical.  It is only through failing hard (like a face plant in skiing) do we tend to learn to see a failure coming and have an opportunity to correct or preempt.
  • You may not be able to avert the failure but you can potentially soften the landing.

For those starting a business you need to plan on failing.  Do everything you can to make sure the failure is not terminal.  For those helping others in business, give honest, direct feedback. 

- Mike Colwell
www.bizci.org
www.startupmodels.com

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Service is increasingly a matter of "Time"

I spent this past weekend with an old high school friend who is now a professor at a university in Michigan. Throughout the weekend we enjoyed spirited conversation about a myriad of subjects. Quite often our conversation would lead to a trivial question for which neither of us had an answer.

"I'll check it," my friend would say pulling out his smartphone and doing a quick search. "I love this thing!" he would then say as his impromptu curiosity was satiated by the immediate gratification of information.

For twenty years my firm has measured the key drivers of customer satisfaction for many different companies in many different industries. Back in the day, customer satisfaction was largely driven by two simplefactors: resolution of the issue and courtesy of the Customer Service Representative (CSR) who was assisting the customer. While the courtesy and friendliness of the CSR continues to be a crucial piece of the customer satisfaction equation, the issue of resolution has become more complex.

Customers are no longer satisfied by having their issue resolved. Increasingly, they are sensitive to issues of timeliness in the resolution of their issues:

  • How easy is it to reach a person who can help me?
  • How quickly can I reach the right person? (without having to be transferred around or two speak to multiple people)
  • Can the CSR resolve my issue without delay? (having to put me on hold)
  • If follow-up is necessary, how timely will that follow-up be?

For better or worse, we live in a world in which seemingly everything is immediately available at our fingertips 24/7/365. A curious question that rises out of casual conversation can be immediately answered. In this age of immediate gratification, customers are less and less satisfied when their customer service issues cannot be handled and resolved in a "timely" [read: immediate] manner.

Businesses, especially small businesses, may not always have the resources to provide instant gratification that customers want. Everyone, however, can be mindful of a customer's sensitivity to time. Acknowledging and apologizing for delays, providing time frame for follow-up, and proactive communication are within the ability of every one of us.

- Tom Vander Well

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