Friday, November 30, 2007

Where there's a will, there's a way

I used to think that line was a pretty trite comment, but I had cause to reflect on a couple of very different experiences of late that show the power of personal will, and the need to take personal risk to make change happen. It's really important if you want to create powerful customer experiences.

1. I went to our call centres the other day to listen to why customers are calling us (as opposed to contacting us in any other way - btw the reason they do is they want trusted advice from human beings. I'm sure there are other ways to do this that have the human touch but I digress). We had a customer call who wanted to cancel broadband - he wasn't using it. Craig (the rep) could have just gone through the motions and cancelled it but decided to drop his success rate on call metrics and take 10 seconds to look at the customer's overall bill. This guy was spending $350 a month - mainly on domestic and Australian calls. So Craig asks if he wants to look at other options and ends up selling a plan which will probably cut $150 a month off his bill. Customer is stoked and casually asks about mobile - Craig ends up selling him a phone sight unseen which will completely suit his needs. Customer is still paying less per month and now has a great mobile - all because Craig took the personal risk to engage in a conversation that the customer hadn't initiated.

2. I've been shopping around our user-centred design methods internally and talked to a number of senior General Managers. The value of what I was talking about was recognised immediately - however there was no will to implement. I can understand resources are tight, deadlines are near - we've all been there. A will to implement would find a way to get around that.

I had to reflect on the second experience - a normal uncontrolled reaction would be to say 'pack of muppets - they don't get it' but I've realised that I've got to have the will to back up what I believe in and find a way to make it stick. Which means persistence and probably an alternative approach. Thanks Craig from the Helpdesk in Hamilton - you've taught me a great lesson.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Science backs up beliefs

I've been involved in an ongoing conversation for years now.

I believe that if you treat customers well, put yourself out for them even, your business will be more successful. Customers will come back. You'll make more money. Everyone will be happy.

Problem with this is that is a belief based statement. Pretty hard to run analysis other than belief based churn reduction. Numbers guys don't like that kind of thing.

The good news for people like me is that Telecom's new CEO is very clear that putting customers first is very clearly our number 1 objective. Made life a whole lot easier.

Ironically - after a day listening to Paul Reynolds and being dead impressed by his commitment to this approach, I found this piece of research entitled Happy customers provide higher returns and are lower risk.Who would have thought, huh? Will be one for the back pocket when the accountants come around.

I blinked

It's been 7 months since I last posted here.

It would be easy for me to say that I had got too busy to post anything and this whole blogging thing is just a fad, so why bother.

But that isn't the truth. The truth is that I blinked. In the face of some feedback I literally stood still and didn't move. I won't share that feedback with you - maybe you'll notice a change, maybe you won't. It's also critical to note that it was feedback - not an instruction. And my reaction was to treat it as an instruction.

My purpose with this blog is to share my opinions and positions on things that matter to me, that I care about. Note the use of the word 'my'. It's not Telecom's position, it may not be my colleagues position - it's my position. And its for you to comment on and contribute to. I don't really mind if you flame me either - the point of this is to open up the debate on issues, provoke some discussion, and learn something that we didn't know before.

My view on this is simple - I am brave enough to share my opinion here. If you disagree with it, I'd ask you to be brave enough to tell me your counter opinion. Even better, do it as a comment here so we can do something positive with it.