FF: Passion Profile Featuring Eric Jacques

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Today’s Follow Friday post is featuring Eric Jacques!  Every Friday I share a little with you about someone I like to follow.  Eric focuses on “customer excellence” versus “customer satisfaction” or “customer experience”. He says “It’s all about the quest to continuously deliver excellent products and services to customers that create value for those customers and ourselves.  Customer excellence is about leadership and visibility, not management. Achieving it identifies you as the best among your peers and ensures long-term growth and loyalty.  Customer service grew into the customer experience as an organizational differentiator. Now we have to move towards customer excellence.”

I wanted to know more about Eric and his perspective on “customer excellence”:

Dawna: “What drives you?”

Eric: “In one word, Respect. Respect for customers, employees, friends, strangers, everyone. I consider it to be the basis of all human relationships. Without it, there is no relationship.

Society is based on interactions and relationships. If we can’t respect one another, society will fall apart.

I look at where we’ve been going as a society for the last 30-40 years and sometimes wonder what it will be like for my daughters. I like to think that my wife and I have raised them well (they’re 18 and 15) but feel the need to do my part to ensure that they have the opportunity to be part of something better in the future.”

Dawna: “What makes you tick?”

Eric: “Helping people. At my core, I think I’ve always wanted to be a teacher; I’ve always wanted to have a positive impact on society.

Originally, business/commerce was about helping others and I think it still is for most. Unfortunately, there’s a common view that it’s only about profits. Profits are secondary and come from doing a good job in helping others. Deliver value to your customers and the profits follow. This may seem like heresy to some! For more detailed thoughts on this keep an eye on my blog; I’ve been working on a post on the subject for weeks and still have a lot of work to do but it’ll appear eventually (this year).”

Why are you so passionate about customer excellence?

I’ve worked in customer service in one form or another since I was 16 when I started as a bus boy in a restaurant. At the time I didn’t understand how important it was but applied the basics even when others didn’t (which gained me a lot of respect and recognition from the waiters I worked with).

Later on, I ended up working in construction. Even there, I found treating everyone as a customer, including your boss and co-workers, gave me a definite advantage.

Finally, about 15 years ago, I retrained in IT and ended up in customer support. Over the years, my positive results in dealing with customers daily led me to manage customer support teams. But I missed dealing with customers!

I finally concluded that my best days were the ones where I had to deal with customer complaints. It allowed me to use all of my skills and bring about a positive outcome for both the customer and the company so I found work as a Customer Satisfaction Manager.

Through all of this I realized what a competitive advantage it could be for a company to excel at delivering excellent customer service. This along with my thoughts on respect and trust have made me an advocate of delivering an excellent customer experience.

It’s been a long process for me, I didn’t learn any of this in school, it’s all based on real-world experience and my own musings on the subject.”

Dawna: “Why should customer excellence be so important to an organization?”

Eric: “First, customer experience just “is”. It can be positive or negative; it can be planned or just happen, unfortunately, it “just happens” more often than not.

It’s important for organizations to understand the impact that the customer experience has on them and on their social environment. Only then can they make an informed decision on how they want to (or not) influence the outcome.

I’m not saying that every business should deliver excellent service; there’s no point. Some may simply decide that it isn’t important. It is important to understand the implications and make a value-based decision. There are companies (Walmart and Costco come to mind) that have successfully built their business on other differentiators and decided to minimize the customer service aspect and others will also take this route.

I firmly believe that planning and implementing a plan to deliver positive customer experiences has benefits but it definitely depends on the organization’s objectives. So I prefer to concentrate on those that want to understand and develop their plans to deliver excellent customer service. Everyone chooses their own path.”

Dawna: “How do you see yourself contributing to the ClienteerHub community over the journey?”

Eric: “I’m not sure yet. I’m relatively new to ClienteerHub and have primarily concentrated on finding ways to get my thoughts out there… I think the idea is great and it’s definitely another way to get the message out.

In the last few weeks, I’ve been wondering if I’m “preaching to the converted”. It always feels good to have others validate your thoughts but I’m looking for ways to engage businesses, especially those that haven’t necessarily given much thought to how the customer experience can affect them.

There’s a great community of people that advocate customer service on the Internet and I’m grateful to have met some of them and made a number of friends. ClienteerHub is an active part of this community.”

Eric: “Thank you Dawna for giving me this opportunity. We need to continue working on developing an understanding of the advantages to delivering great customer service and I really appreciate the chance to tell my story. Cheers!”

I have become a big fan of Eric and an avid follower of his blog.  We now have an even deeper appreciation for his perspective on customer excellence. Huge thanks to Eric for sharing his passion with us.

Happy Friday everyone!

Not a Coincidence – A Leap Forward in Meaningful Solutions

My love for HBR resurfaced today when I received the September 2010 issue in the mail.  My frustration in having to wait so long after it is available online to receive it by mail was overshadowed by my delight in the content that never seems to disappoint.

The HBR cover teaser to this issue’s spotlight entices us with “Why the world needs audacious business solutions”.  I could not turn to the pages fast enough in anticipation, I was pondering if it was a coincidence that “audaciousness” was the theme in the Motivated magazine I recently discovered?  The issue of Motivated inspired a post that was deeply meaningful to me on many levels.  The first article that I read in the HBR spotlight was A New Alliance for Global Change.  Authors Bill Drayton and Valeria Budinich share how corporations and social entrepreneurs can work together to reshape industries and solve the world’s toughest problems. “By forming ‘hybrid value chains’ (HVCs) the for-profit and citizen sectors can together remake global economies and create long lasting social change”.  They explore the possibility that “if you’re not thinking about HVC collaboration, you’ll soon be guilty of strategy malpractice.”  I often write about strategies to maximize your potentiality, HVCs are a win-win proposition that can expand your potentiality exponentially.  Earlier in the summer I said It’s Time for Social Innovation, and HVC is social innovation at it’s best.  Bottom line: The time has come for for-profit companies to explore social innovative strategies and for not-for-profit companies to apply their good intentions to sound for-profit business models.

So it is a coincidence that this HBR spotlight was about the beauty of audaciousness within social innovation?  No, not at all, coincidence is accidental, this is a leap forward in meaningful solutions.

An Important Message for HBR – Their Blind Spot – Customer Support

I’m a promising contender for being HBR’s biggest fan.  I love my daily dose of HBR blogs and I am a subscriber to the magazine.  My emotional bank account and customer loyalty is about as good as you can get for HBR… at least it was.  I’m still a big fan, but they took a large withdrawal from me last week.  By no means was it the worst customer service incident, but when you hold a brand in such high regard, it also comes with high expectations.  I have nothing but great things to say about their product, IMHO they have richest and most provocative articles and discussions within the broad business publications out there.  Kudos to HBR for that! However  my experience with their customer support did not reflect the quality of their product.  They may need to read some of their own articles and blogs on customer experience.  Unfortunately this is not that uncommon, we see companies with A+ products and D- or even F support services.  Yet this falls below the radar as it is overshadowed by how well they are performing which is subject to what they are measuring.  I call these blind spots, and blind spots are dangerous even if you have a solid vehicle.

I noticed that my magazine does not seem to arrive until about 2-3 weeks after it is published online.  I find this kind of defeats the purpose of my subscription, I might as well change it to an online subscription but I really like having the actual magazine.  I contacted HBR customer support via email from their website and received an automated response that I would hear back from them within 2 days.  My initial thought was “wow, really, that long, oh well it is not urgent”.  I did hear back later that same day but they did not answer my main question, although they did answer my second question as it provided them with an opportunity to up-sell, or at least that is how I felt reading it.

Here was my question:

“Why does the issue online come out some much earlier than I receive my magazine? It is frustrating to get it weeks after it is available online. As a subscriber to I have access to the articles online as well?”

Here is the response I received from HBR:

“Thank you for contacting HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW Customer Service.

Our records indicate you’re a Print only subscriber. Unfortunately, this does not include online access. To gain online access, you will need to upgrade to a Premium subscription. We will be glad to upgrade your account. The cost of the upgrade is $50.00. To process your subscription upgrade, please contact Customer Service directly at 1.800.274.3214. If we can be of further assistance, please let us know.

We appreciate this opportunity to be of service.”

Hmmm okay, but where is the answer to my main question about why it takes so long? I responded back with:

“Please address my first question about why I get my printed copy so long after it is available online?”

HBR responded:

“Thank you for contacting HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW Customer Service.

We make every effort to assure our readers that they will receive issues at the earliest possible opportunity. Generally, we are able to get issues to readers a few days before their published cover date. However, it is not considered late until after the 15th of the cover date. If you do not receive your issue by this date, please let us know. The Online issues are available once the Print issue have been processed for mailing. We hope this information is helpful. If we can be of further assistance, please let us know.

We appreciate this opportunity to be of service.”

Also worth noting is that the fonts were different for the middle part of both emails, the open and close were an obvious cut and paste, this made it feel very impersonal adding to the growing feeling I had of them not caring about my concerns in the least.

Again, this is not the worst example of customer service by any stretch but it is a great example of how fragile customer experience and customer loyalty are.  Few promote HBR as much as I do, 90% of my posts reference them and I am an active contributor to discussions on the site. I am also responsible for numerous subscription referrals.  So getting the “live with it or spend $50 to have access to both” response without even a mention that they will pass this along for feedback was very disappointing.

Bottom line, companies can not rely on their product alone, even if it is a brilliant product, they need to measure the entire customer experience and ensure all interactions reflect their brand.  And in the case of HBR, if you are offering expertise on customer experience, you really need to employ best practices of customer experience within your own service offerings.

New Series Part 1: Getting Naked with Joe Ames

If you have followed my posts, by now you may have taken note that my favourite book is Getting Naked by Patrick Lencioni.  In fact, you’ll find references to the “naked” approach in posts such as Celebrating the Age of Transparency, Is Vulnerability a Leadership Strength?, Part 5 of 7: Are You Ready to Get Naked?, and The Beauty of Audaciousness.  This book resonated for me like no other. Patrick brilliantly put to words a message and a Getting Naked Service Model that I have passionately come to believe and live by through the course of my career. Not only did it validate my approach, for which many have thought I was crazy, it re-enforced it and further shaped my methods. I advocate that everyone read this book, it is sure to transform your thinking and approach with your customers.

When a book impacts me like this one has it makes me curious to find out how it impacted others that have read it.  What about the “naked” approach resonated with them the most?  How is their approach similar? And how does it differ? Finally, did the book further shape their approach?  I was  also curious to hear examples of how the “naked” approach has enabled barriers they have encountered?  What traits do they admire most in leaders, or more specifically what traits build their trust?

These questions sparked this new blog series, we will explore these questions with some of my fellow “naked” fans.  My first guest is Joe Ames,  Senior Director IT Infrastructure and Development at Lash Group. Joe is an innovative, results oriented leader with a proven record of defining technology strategy and managing large-scale projects.  With notable expertise in assembling teams that drive innovation, efficiency, and business process improvement by aligning technology solutions with business needs. Joe has a demonstrated ability to consistently drive quality and process improvement with the implementation of new technology and process through an open-minded collaborative approach.

Question: What about the “naked” approach resonated with you the most?

Joe: The fundamental idea resonates with me which I summarize as being open and honest with your customers, employees, family, friends and so on. Of the 3 fears the fear of losing the business is the most relevant at present. When companies set aside reality and keep customers at all costs it turns the relationship from one of partnership and value to both parties, to one of order taker and win-lose. Operating from a place where you are comfortable loosing the business is necessary in order to truly be honest with your customers. That doesn’t mean that you treat them poorly, rather, that they know you will give them everything you’ve got every time and will settle up later on the details.

Question: How is your approach similar? And how does it differ? Finally did the book further shape your approach?

Joe: What you see is what you get, I’m an open book so people around me know what I’m thinking and know my opinions. The book and experience have validated that approach, however, it’s also helped me understand that with some finesse and sophistication I can be direct and honest without overstepping boundaries or being rude. Sometimes it’s about the timing and/or the things I choose to concentrate on.

Question: Can you share any examples of how your own flavour of the naked approach has enabled barriers you have encountered?

Joe: A recent example is related to interactions with colleagues internally. As we all get busy with the day to day sometimes we forget to keep each other informed of decisions that are made. In the instance I am thinking of a colleague did just this and while the appearance was that there was intentional withholding of information, direct interaction and real time feedback cleared up the communication issue and reset expectations. Without directly engaging them on the issue it would have been drug out, increased the amount of time to resolution, and eroded the trust we’ve worked so hard to build on the team. It was also an opportunity to talk through the pressure they were getting that wasn’t fully visible to me and provide support.

Question: What traits do you admire most in leaders, or more specifically what traits build your trust?

Joe: This morning I had the opportunity to meet with one of the most effective leaders I have had the pleasure of working with over breakfast and it hit me. Some of the most admirable traits of effective leaders are not only credibility, integrity, and inspiration. Those are the basis of leadership that you can’t lead without. Truly great leaders listen, even when the message is about what they can do differently. They accept that they can be wrong and recognize it and immediately work to make changes. All the while they lead by example.

Huge thanks to Joe for sharing his “naked” insights with us.  I had the pleasure of working with Joe in my previous role as Vice President of Operations at ABSG Canada, a sister company to Lash Group within AmeriSource Bergen.  I have immeasurable respect for Joe, he is fluent in driving meaningful change and a true customer advocate.

Have you read Getting Naked?  If so, please share how this book impacted you?

FF: Passion Profile Featuring Ted Coine

Today’s Follow Friday post is featuring Ted Coine!  Every Friday I share a little with you about someone I like to follow on twitter. He is a speaker and author of Five Star Customer Service.  Ted is a “Savvy Capitalist”.   What is Savvy Capitalism? Ted explains “Doing the right thing pays.” Furthermore he shares that while the values of Savvy Capitalism (a.k.a. Capitalism 2.0) go back at least to economist Adam Smith’s first book (1759), the notion that companies should be socially responsible is still new to many Primitive Capitalists today.

I wanted to know more about Ted and his perspective on customer experience, this is what he shared:

Dawna: “What drives you?”

Ted: “I have maybe an unhealthy urge to win – at anything. One of my daughters, Ayla, introduced “I’m awake, you’re awake” to our family when she was born seven years ago. I used to be a night owl; to beat Ayla at her favorite game, I’ll often get up at four-thirty or five now. I have to win.

This competitive drive has always been with me. I swam competitively as a kid and in college, and set a few records along the way. Out of school, I hated sales, but I made sure I was ranked first at whatever company I worked for. When I started teaching English at a private language school in Boston, I played a game with myself to see how much faster I could get my students to improve – I was competing with myself, with my own past performance, but I also made darn sure my students, employer, and coworkers considered me the most effective teacher at the school. I’m either sleeping, or I’m giving something my all.

This plays out in my current role as a speaker and author for sure. As a speaker, I’m constantly polishing my performance, obsessively improving both the content and the delivery of my material. Four years from now, my audience may not remember one detail of the conference where they heard me present, except – if I’m lucky, and more importantly if I’m relevant – they’ll remember at least a small part of my message. There’s nothing more important to me than that. At least, not in my professional life.

As a business author, I’m horrified by the idea that someone else might have a better take on profitability than me. So I’m learning incessantly from my peers, both other authors and practicing business leaders.

Why this incessant urge to be the best? I should probably see a shrink about it. …But the truth of the matter is, I don’t want to be cured. I’m having fun, I’m being helpful; I’m good with that.”

Dawna: “What makes you tick?”

Ted: “So now that you’ve seen my ambitious underbelly, here’s my redemption: I get off helping others. I can’t get enough of it. Being useful, making a difference, enriching lives… that’s the biggest kick there is.

I think that’s why I hated sales in my twenties. I was “winning,” if by that you mean selling a lot of stuff, but the stuff I sold didn’t matter – depending on the company I worked for, maybe it wasn’t even useful to the client from a business perspective, which is why I kept switching companies once the rah-rah of training faded and I became disillusioned.

When I was thirty, I started teaching English to people who really needed the help, and I finally hit my stride: work had meaning! By doing my job better, I realized, I was improving the situations of some really wonderful people. How cool was that? You won’t need to set an alarm clock when going to work means you’re making the world a better place – you wake up eager to go, and you can’t wait till everyone else shows up at work so you can get to it!

Do I sound like a motivational speaker? God, I hope not! I’ve often been referred to as such, so I guess I should roll with it, but it isn’t about the sizzle at all to me. Business has to have soul, or… or what’s the point?

What makes me tick? Through years of study, observation, interviewing, and doing myself, I’ve figured out some very fundamental truths about business: in a nutshell, that doing the right thing pays. It’s much more profitable to run your business well, which means according to the rules of good karma. My job is to spread that word. How exhilarating!”

Dawna: “Why are you so passionate about customer experience?”

Ted: “When I was thirteen, my Mom met her second husband, Ed, who couldn’t shut up about this guy George Boldt (some distant relative of his). Boldt was paid a million dollars a year way back in the 1890’s to manage the Waldorf-Astoria hotel. William Waldorf Astor recruited him to manage the Waldorf precisely because he gave such stellar service.

Huh?!?! I was thirteen – all I cared about was girls, not dead hoteliers. But this Boldt guy stuck with me; he slipped in under my radar, and I’ve never been able to get this Boldt guy out of my head.

I waited tables in college. Giving good service to my customers brought me more tips. Giving great service – George Boldt service – brought me even more money, and opened up doors for me, just as it had for him.

When I founded Coine Language School in 2001, I had nothing – I had to hold classes in our living room because we didn’t own a garage and couldn’t afford to rent space downtown. My first two students never came back for a second lesson. But I built things up until suddenly I found we were competing for corporate clients with Boston’s world-class private language schools. We did quite a bit to differentiate ourselves, but underpinning all of it was service – we spoiled our clients rotten, and none of these other schools could compete. We kept winning their clients away from them, without losing any in return. Four years later, we were valued at $10 million. All because of the customer service we provided.”

Dawna: “Why am I so passionate about customer service?”

Ted: “Because it works – it is the key to success, that’s why! And the more I’ve studied other successful companies – companies like Zappos, Chick Fil-A, Lexus, Nordstrom, Southwest Airlines, Four Seasons Hotels, Patagonia – the clearer it is to me that this is a universal principle of business.

Customer service isn’t an end in of itself. Customer service brings profits, which builds companies and creates job security. That’s why I’m so passionate about the customer experience!”

Dawna: “Why should customer experience be so important to an organization?”

Ted: “Think of a business – any business at all – as a bucket. Sales and marketing work like crazy to pour water into the bucket: the water represents revenue. The company invests heavily in catchy ads, recruits the most experienced cracker-jack sales pros, and they pour more and more of that water into that bucket.

You’d imagine with a strategy like that, the more water you pour in the top, the faster your bucket’s going to fill up, right? But business rarely plays out that way, does it? Customers defect. When they leave, your water leaves with them. Your bucket empties just as fast as you fill it because there are holes in the bottom.

This is when most companies spend more on marketing, and invest even more heavily on their sales force. They pour water in the top of that bucket, and sometimes it pays off – for a very short while, and only with a very big effort.

Occasionally, though, a business leader gets wise. He or she realizes what is happening, and makes it a priority to plug those holes. That’s where great customer service comes in. Customers stop leaving, because now they’re happy. So now the bucket starts to fill. The business starts to thrive, as company-wide the culture grows to consider the customer first, and make decisions that will please those customers.

When a leader gets it, and a culture of service develops, that’s when it’s time to buy a new, bigger bucket.”

Dawna: “Why is customer service important?”

Ted: “It’s only important if you like profits. Otherwise, don’t bother too much about the service your customers receive. Let your competition take care of them instead.”

I am a big fan of Ted and an avid twitter follower and we now have an even richer appreciation for his perspective. Huge thanks to Ted for sharing his contagious passion with us.  I would also like to welcome Ted to ClienteerHub, Ted has now joined our expert panel and we look forward to many insightful discussion with him there.

Happy Friday everyone!

Changing Women Leaders is not the Answer, Nor is Blaming Sexism

I typically do not pay much attention to gender based articles and stats.  Having started my career as a software developer I was normalized to a highly male dominated work environment. In no way, shape, or form have I ever perceived my career as having been more challenging because I am a woman.  Nor have I made an effort to suppress my female traits to be more like my male colleagues.  Sure I have encountered sexism, but no more frequently than I have encountered reverse sexism and all the other types of prejudices that are out there.  Long before my career even started I knew not to take this type of behaviour personally and that it is a source of insecurity, my mother instilled this in us at a very young age.

Men and women are different.  We should embrace this and not try to coach women to be more like men in order to be successful leaders.  I have recently read two articles that have advocated women leaders need to act more like men from HBR and the Financial Post, two of my favourite information sources.  This drove me to want to share my thoughts.  While I do agree with some of the constructive advice that is provided in both articles, I profoundly disagree with the over arching message that women need to act more like men to be successful as leaders.

A couple of weeks ago Jeffrey Pfeffer posted Women and the Uneasy Embrace of Power on HBR which initiated a very provocative discussion.   While I enjoyed the discussion it ignited, I was initially disappointed after reading his post,  I wondered if Jeffrey was somehow related to Archie Bunker! How in today’s business environment can someone still believe that people do not see right through acts of “engaging in self promotion” that Jeffrey is advocating.  I wondered if Jeffrey had read any of his peers blogs, had he not heard of the “age of transparency”?  Leadership is not about whether you are a man or a woman, and it is certainly not about attaining power over other people.  Power is at an individual level, you can lead by empowering yourself and others, but the type of power Jeffrey describes is egocentric and political. In another post on HBR earlier the same day, The Crucial Skills for Tomorrow’s Leaders, skills such as trust, authenticity, purpose, empathy, devotion, curiosity, and mindfulness were identified… power was not even mentioned.

Then this week the Financial Post published 10 Body Language Mistakes That Women Leaders Make by Carol Kinsey Goman and Troy Mediathe.  To their credit there are 4 points listed that provide good constructive advice for women (and men), but I disagree with the rest of their points and would instead encourage women leaders to remain true to who they are and instead shift their focus to simply earning respect through their authentic actions and words.  Here are the points I challenge and why:

“1) They use too many head tilts. Head tilting is a signal that someone is listening and involved — and a particularly feminine gesture. Head tilts can be very positive cues, but they are also subconsciously processed as submission signals. Women who want to project power and authority should keep their heads straight up in a more neutral position.”

Yikes, did they really just say that?  I highlighted the only part of this point that adds value “head titling is a signal that someone is listening and involved”, this is a good thing!  I would not call this being submissive, I would call this being vulnerable, which I believe is a leadership strength.

“2) They physically condense. One way that status is non-verbally demonstrated in a business meeting is by physically taking up room. Lower-status, less-confident men (and most women) tend to pull in their bodies and minimize their size, while high status males expand and take up space. So at your next meeting, spread out your belongings and claim your turf!”

When I see someone expanding to take up space and “claim their turf” I think it is screaming insecurity and ego.  However, I do think it is important to have a good posture, open shoulders cue your own self empowerment.

“5) They nod too much. When a man nods, it means he agrees. When a woman nods, it means she agrees – or is listening to, empathizing with, or encouraging the speaker to continue. This excessive head nodding can make females look like a bobble-head doll. Constant head nodding can express encouragement and engagement, but not authority and power.”

I agree that if it goes to the point where you look like a bobble-head doll you have gone too far, but listening, empathizing and encouraging are all great cues of leader.

“6) They speak “up.” Women’s voices often rise at the ends of sentences as if they’re asking a question or asking for approval. When stating your opinion, be sure to use the authoritative arc, in which your voice starts on one note, rises in pitch through the sentence and drops back down at the end.”

News flash, I call that a Canadian accent. When I moved down to the US for 10 years I became very aware of how we Canadians raise our voices at the end of sentences, as though every sentence is a question and if you’re French-Canadian you might even add a “non?” at the end.  I will agree that I think this can come across as overly politically correct but I do not agree that this is more common in women then men.  At most I would recommend it be something you be mindful of especially if you have a strong Canadian or French-Canadian accent.

“7) They wait their turn. In negotiations, men talk more than women and interrupt more frequently. One perspective on the value of speaking up comes from former US Secretary of State Madeleine Alright, who – when asked what advice she had for up-and-coming professional women – replied, “Learn to interrupt.””

Perhaps in politics this is true, but I do not think business should emulate politics, in fact my thoughts on conduct in political leadership is another topic all together.  It is important to speak up and be heard and I do think there is an art of interruption when required but I disagree that interruption should be advocated broadly.

“8) They are overly expressive. While a certain amount of movement and animation adds passion and meaning to a message, women who express the entire spectrum of emotions often overwhelm their audience (especially if the audience is comprised primarily of males). So in situations where you want to maximize your authority – minimize your movements. When you appear calm and contained, you look more powerful.”

I agree with this to the extent that it needs to be in balance, it is important as a leader to be calm and contained when the circumstances require this but it is also important for leaders to exude their passion, we all craving authentic leaders with purpose, we want to see their passion but we also want to see their disappointment and their strength to remain calm in crisis.

Bottom line, changing women leaders is not the answer, nor is blaming sexism, our focus needs to be on developing leaders we can trust that have the courage to lead with purpose rather than power.  Leadership is not a battle of the sexes, we do not need more women leaders for the sake of equality, we simply need better leaders that inspire meaningful change.

As a final thought that was reflected in numerous comments in response to Jeffrey’s post, not all women aspire to become leaders in business, women that chose to focus on raising a family are not “dropping their quest for power”.  The lack of appreciation and respect for the role of a mother bewilders me, but that is another topic all together, I simply wanted to point out that we need to celebrate women who make this choice and accept that this is one of the reasons there are less women in leadership roles in business.

What leadership skills inspire you?

Extra Extra… DMC August 2010 Newsletter

Welcome to the first installment of DMC News!  Every month I will be sharing highlights from the top discussions in my blog along with key observations and experiences.  The feature for this issue is ClienteerHub, an innovative customer experience social media learning community that has the potential to revolutionize our knowledge, awareness, and meaningful discussions around customer centric best practices across a broad business community. 

A special thanks to all of my customers, blog readers, and partners, it is such a privilege to explore meaningful change with you.

Please share any feedback or suggestions for next month’s newsletter.

“Health Care is Most Likely to Act on Customer Experience”? I Disagree and Here is Why…

A few weeks ago Linda Ireland posted a stat of the week about which industry is most likely to act on customer experience.

“Health care leads all other industries in the active use of customer experience as a factor in all daily decisions.  A whopping 42 percent of the organizations who use customer experience as the primary driver in daily decision making are in health care.”

I read this a few times to makes sure I was reading it right because it is in conflict with what I have come to believe.  I did not want to be quick to disregard this study, instead I challenged myself to consider if there could be the underlying explanation for these results.

First I will explain why I believe health care is lagging and struggling to make patient experience a primary driver in daily decision making.  From 2007 to 2010 I was leading operations for the Canadian division of a large specialty pharmaceutical services company (#26 on the Fortune 100 2009).  We provided patient support programs for specialty drug products which essentially means managing a complex supply chain of services to help patients get access to therapies.  Services such as patient education, reimbursement, delivery logistics, nursing, adherence, just to name a few.  My point in sharing this is that it is tough to compare retail customer experience to health care patient experience.  The complexity and sensitivity of the supply chain in health care is exponential.  So yes, it is possible that patient experience may be on the minds of some leaders making decisions in the health care industry, however patience experience today is highly flawed.  In other words, if we surveyed the patients of the same 42% of the organizations in health care, this would not be reflected in their customer satisfaction.

There are a number of barriers at play which the health care industry needs to address before we will see patient experience grow up and transform into what it needs to be.  Here are just a few of them:

1.  Health care is substantially behind in information technologies and social media technologies.  Both play an important role in all other industries on numerous fronts with regards to connecting and understanding their customers.  They have also been key in making the customer experience easier and more accessible.

2.  Health care has a dysfunctional eco-system that is anything but patient centric.  There is little to no incentive for companies and the government to collaborate and deliver holistic patient experiences.  HBR published a remarkable spotlight in their April 2010 on Fixing Health Care.  “An estimated 50% of health care spending goes toward unnecessary bureaucracy, duplicate tests, and other waste.”

3.  Patient privacy and other regulatory challenges are also obstacles for the first two barriers.   The industry has been slow to develop innovative solutions around these challenges but companies like patientlikeme.com are finally starting to make headway.

My main concern with the 42% statistic is that it implies that health care is leading other industries in providing good experiences which I would challenge.  However, I would agree that many smart health care companies are recognizing the need to make patient experience a priority and patients are beginning to demand this as well.  I believe it is the industry with the biggest challenges and biggest opportunities to transform customer experience.

What are your thoughts on this?

FF: Passion Profile Featuring Tim Sanchez aka DeliverBliss

Welcome to my first Follow Friday post!  Every week I will share a little with you about someone I like to follow. I am excited to kick this off with Tim Sanchez or perhaps you know him as DeliverBliss.  I had the pleasure of speaking with Tim earlier this week to ask him the same questions Tim McDougall of ClienteerHub asked me a few weeks ago.

Dawna: “What drives you?”

Tim: “Winning. I was always competitive growing up. I played a lot of different sports and eventually attended The University of Texas on a golf scholarship. Today, winning is about landing new accounts, solving our clients’ problems so they can run more successful businesses, and being successful ourselves. As a small company, a lot of our business comes through word of mouth marketing. Any time a client recommends us to someone else, that’s a huge win.”

Dawna: “What makes you tick?”

Tim: “I like to learn and explore new ideas, maybe to a fault. Concentrating on just one topic is hard for me sometimes. I think that’s why my interest in customer experience is a good fit. With it being such a broad topic, there’s always another aspect to explore.”

Dawna: “Why are you so passionate about the customer?”

Tim: “Customer service has always been important to me. That probably comes from my mom, she expected good service and when she didn’t get it, she let you know about it.

Other than that, it’s simply because the customer is your lifeblood. A business that can create loyal and evangelistic customers is one that is not only successful, but sustainable.”

Dawna: “Why should customer experience be so important to an organization?”

Tim: “Because it’s important to your customers. To me, customer experience encompasses the entire business. It’s almost like asking, “Why is it important to deliver value to your customers?” Customers expect a great experience just like they expect to get value out of their investments with us. I think organizations have a hard time with customer experience because they don’t know where to start. They don’t know how to break it down and they don’t know what to measure. That’s where smart people like you can help.”

Dawna: “How do you see yourself contributing to the ClienteerHub community over the journey?”

Tim: “I looked far and wide for a community when I started studying customer experience on a more intense level, but there was nothing out there. I was thrilled when ClienteerHub launched the new site and asked me to be a part of the expert panel. They have some great people working for them and have started down the right path with gathering the best minds in customer experience. I look forward to posting there, contributing to the membership forum, and being an evangelist for ClienteerHub.”

I was already a big fan of Tim’s as avid follower, but after speaking with him I now have an even richer appreciation for his perspective.  Tim gets it! And he is doing it!  Huge kudos Tim and a big thanks for sharing your contagious passion with us.  Be sure to sign up as a VIP on his DeliverBliss Blog, Tim is also featured regularly on ClienteerHub.