Roy's Blog: Entrepreneurs

February 11, 2019

What happens when your voice lacks passion?

The world needs people to believe in. People who stir our emotions. People who have a perspective that resonates with us and compels us to act.

Emotions

There are many people who speak passionately but their words have no consequence; they float “like feathers in the wind”, hoping to land on a receptive ear.

These words tend to promulgate from theoretical doctrine, political ideology and social cause; their purpose: influence an audience and imprint a specific message on each member of it.

These words are pushed, blurted and forced with the hope of commanding and proliferating a narrow biased point of view.

A voice without passion:

Is self serving

It speaks with the left brain in control, carefully articulating the message intended to advance their specific agenda — it’s a one-way street leading to THEIR destination not yours.

I have often heard certain people described as having a hidden agenda when they speak; the type of person that conveys distrust with their words.
It’s a feeling they stir in others.
You can’t put your finger on exactly what bothers you about what they say, you just feel you’re not hearing their true story.

But a voice with passion puts everything out there for everyone to hear and decide whether or not to buy in; the passionate voice wears who they are on their sleeve; the truth is obvious.

Relies on logic

Tries to influence through logic. It’s conviction is that if the audience understands the words, a change in behaviour will likely follow.
Appealing to the intellect has its flaws. I may understand someone’s point of view on a subject but don’t act on it because my gut doesn’t compel me to do it.

My experience as a leader is that intellectualizing rarely, on its own, doesn’t result in action. It’s gets a nod which says “I got it!”, but it doesn’t move the feet.

A new strategic plan, for example, may be viewed as the right thing to do to meet the competitive challenges of the day, but unless it lights fires in people, nothing actually happens.

To get stuff done you have to have a healthy mix of understanding and agreement fuelled with emotion and passion.

Logic

Does not convince

Is ineffective in convincing others to listen and follow them. Dis-passionate voices are ineffective in expanding their narrative to those around them because those receiving the message don’t buy what is being said.

The message isn’t believable, not necessarily because the content is inaccurate or false, but because it’s not being communicated with feeling.

A voice with passion, on the other hand, can fall short on the facts of a particular issue, but still convince others. The raw power of emotion can overcome most incomplete thoughts.

Induces sleep

A voice with no passion puts us to sleep. It doesn’t cut through the clutter of the barrage of messages that plummet us every hour of every day. It has no clean signature that subliminally forces us to sit up and take notice.

A presenter on any topic must find a way to make their words compelling and interesting so people take notice. If you’re discussing your views on eliminating bureaucracy in your organization, for example, you might want to talk about cutting the “CRAP” slowing things done instead of reducing red tape.

A voice with passion uses words that helps create one’s persona that is characterized as exciting, vibrant, innovative and interesting; attributes that everyone can identify with.

Bored

Lacks conviction

Bland words suggest a lack of speaker conviction; saying the words but not feeling and believing the words.
If I don’t believe that you personally identify with your own words (because of the lacklustre way you deliver them), why should I buy in?

How many times have you sat in an audience and listened to someone read their script in a perfectly monotonous way and have concluded that the speaker is a non-believer of their own message?

It happens more often than not.

The passionate voice easily convinces the listener that the communicator is all in with their content.
The emotional context of any communication is critical in being perceived as one who owns their material completely.

Is never criticized

A dispassionate voice will likely never get criticized, whereas someone who speaks loudly from the heart can attract labels like: intense, excessive, angry, aggressive and overly opinionated.

The thing is, what do you want: words that land on you but make no difference to the way you think and feel about something, or words that jolt you to think about a different perspective because of their sheer energy and apparent outrageousness?

Moderate words play to the crowd with a herd mentality and are soon forgotten.

Bland insipid words may not be taken the wrong way but they’ll never be unforgettable.

The passionate voice lives in a different world; it very often creates controversy around its words. It has the “ability” to take an issue and either upset others or make them euphoric by its emotional energy; it’s rare to leave them with a “take it or leave it” conclusion.

The voice without passion rarely changes the world.

It might be accurate but never compelling to produce action; non-controversial but never outrageous to stir emotions.

Change is created by people who believe in a new something and get excited by its possibilities.

Voices who are able to push people in this direction exude the passion required to overcome the inertia that’s in the way.

Cheers,
Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 2.11.19 at 03:53 am by Roy Osing
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January 21, 2019

How to make your retail business successful

It’s shocking to see the number of retailers that have not survived over the past year. These were established businesses with a history of loyal customers and decent profitability.

But they simply ran out of steam and couldn’t keep pace with the changes taking place in the industry. Buyer demographics and buying behaviours quickly change and retailers incapable of keeping pace die a slow and agonizing death — store by store by store…

Death of retail

There is no silver bullet — a single strategy — that will save a retailer in the current chaotic and unpredictable business environment, but there are some actions retailers can take to at least increase their chances of survival.

Renew your business strategy

It’s very tempting to take action and employ tactics that you think will help, but you need to start with redefining a strategy that you think will successfully meet the new dynamic.
The critical piece of thinking here is that you cannot assume what worked for you in the past will work in the future. I believe the main reason so many retailers fail is they almost religiously hold on to their past business model, expecting it to work in an environment where literally every customer — competitor — technology variable has changed.

In addition don’t get sucked into believing that cost cutting will save you. The retail death spiral is not a cost issue, it’s a demand issue. Cutting costs with the hope of salvaging the company has a perilous and inescapable outcome.
Did you really think that by closing over 1,400 stores Radio Shack would survive? Not unless they change their business strategy and figure out how to do a better job at serving customers and providing unmatched value in the marketplace.

Deliver value; don’t sell products

Look at your business as an instrument to deliver unique value, not as an agent to sell products and services. Think about being in the “benefit creation” business where what people want and desire drives the innovation process. The model of stacking the shelves — be it in a bricks and mortar environments or online — and having customers excitedly buy is wishful thinking.

Provide value

And your retail value must be different that your competition because if you’re not different, you will fall victim to the commodity space where the value proposition for any retailer is reduced to price.
Commodity market players “race to the bottom” with their prices much to the delight of the customers but to the detriment of the business as margins are squeezed and profits plummet.

As the telecommunications space was heating up with competition, we morphed our phone stores from outlets that offered telephones and accessories to residential customers to a solutions selling vehicle for both residential and small business customers. Product sales took care of themselves with this new focus.

Redefine who you want to serve

Change your target market. Demographics and psychographics are changing. Millennials are growing in number and will soon be the largest segment of the population. Continuing to target the older population, for example, because it has worked up to now is a choice with no long term future.
The question to ask is “Which customer group represents the greatest growth potential for our business?” Focus your energy on that group. Build capacity and competencies in your retail organization to satisfy the wants and desires of that group.

And say goodbye to customers who are no longer relevant to your renewed strategy. You can’t afford to hold on to your old base while pursuing a new one.
Deselecting customers is a difficult issue for most organizations as it means carefully shifting focus and investment away from customers who have traditionally been in the center of attention to a new breed who are unproven in terms of revenue generation.

Look for order of magnitude not incremental change

Minor changes to what you do and the way you do them won’t work; explore new completely different ways to completely morph your business. And consider outrageous ideas like the Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas as well because the “traditional tried and true” approaches simply will not work anymore.
If your new retail idea doesn’t scare the hell out of you, chances are it’s too modest. 

Heart attack grill

We completely reengineered our phone store network by closing almost half of them and reconfiguring the survivors geographically through our operating territory. This was anything but a modest change for which we took considerable criticism. But it was necessary in order to place our new “customer serving centers” closer to the customers we decided to target.

Recruit a new team

if your current retail strategy won’t get you where you need to go, probably your existing team won’t as well. Be prepared to change the composition of your teams and recruit new blood with the skills and competencies necessary to deliver your new direction. Look for disrupters who hate the status quo; people who will push for change.

HR must constantly be on the lookout for the new breed; they should constantly be in the recruitment mode regardless of whether you have immediate opportunities available or not.
Sooner or later positions will open up, and you need a stream of people immediately at hand to draw on.

As the telecom business was changing from a monopoly to a highly competitive model, we had to purge much of the organization in terms of the skill sets and competencies in our people. We had to import a cadre of folks who had proven experience in the retail world and let go many who were effective order takers but not able to sell competitively.

Provide personalized service

As a critical element of your renewed strategy set your sights on providing more personalized service rather than the traditional one-size-fits-all doctrine. Retail success comes from engaging with and serving customers on THEIR terms, not on what the business deems appropriate given their internal constraints. If retail isn’t prepared to meet their customers on their turf, the game will be swiftly over.

We moved from a subscriber model in our phone stores to the strategy of creating more personal customer experiences for every person who came to our stores. One tactic we chose was to “make the inside mirror the outside”; in other words recruit employees that were integral to the mosaic of ethnic populations we served.

So in an area where we had a significant Asian community, we hired frontline people and leaders who were also Asian and who could relate better to this customer group and serve them better than people with other ethnic backgrounds.
Service levels increased with productivity and we quickly outpaced our competition.

Build a leadership team of servers

Hand in hand with establishing a service culture is the need to move leaders from a traditional command and control bias to a serve and coach paradigm where “How can I help?” supplants “Do this!”.

Servant leaders

Critical to providing a personal experience for customers, retail operations must do the same for employees. An employee who experiences a servant leader who is there to help solve problems and eliminate job barriers will naturally apply the same behaviour to a customer. They learn to be helpful to customers because they receive the same treatment from their colleagues and bosses.

In the same way we had to move away from customers we had traditionally targeted, we had as well to exit traditional command and control style managers to make way for people who were natural servant leaders.

Eliminate commission salespeople

Having commission salespeople is the anathema of the concept of serving customers and providing personalized solutions to their problems.
Employees who are paid to push retail product will flog their wares to, not serve, customers. They will push for the sale as opposed to taking whatever time it takes to problem solve with the customer.

They will have zero motivation to create memorable experiences for their customer because it takes too much time, requires too much energy, and because they’re not getting paid to do it. Be prepared for an exodus of salespeople when you do this; they will look for opportunities to continue their flogging ways with other retailers. So let them.

Retail businesses can survive; all is not lost. But it will require retailers to put the past to rest and take action to break away from “the way they have always done things”.

Those that have the guts to do it have a chance of surviving; those that don’t will die.

Cheers,
Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 1.21.19 at 04:05 am by Roy Osing
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January 14, 2019

6 mammoth barriers to being successful

What’s preventing you from reaching your career goals?

I’ve completed more than three decades of leadership. I’ve seen many people achieve beyond their wildest expectations and I’ve witnessed individuals fall short of realizing their dreams.

Why are some successful and others are not?

My conclusions are not based on science, but rather on observing over many years that individuals who are blocked by the following barriers tend to underachieve while those who avoid them perform better and realize greater success.

Barrier

Not enough contacts

Some people simply don’t have enough contacts; their network is too small to effectively exploit the potential opportunities that are out there.

A broad network exposes more possibilities; a narrow network is more restrictive and is likely to present chances in fewer disciplines to choose from.

To avoid this barrier, develop a game plan to expand your personal network. Remember to target quality contacts rather than trying to acquire arbitrary social media connections.

You will get a higher return (measured by the potential to supply you with job opportunities) from 100 quality LinkedIn connections, for example, than 1,000 Twitter followers or FB friends.

Too much reliance on education

Of course education is vital to success but don’t count on it to make you successful.

I look at an academic pedigree as the ante to play the career game. You need the piece of paper to play the game but it won’t guarantee you’ll win it.

Too many young professionals enter the work world expecting to be treated favourably because they have toiled for 8 years to graduate with status in a specific discipline. They feel entitled to get the opportunities that come available because of the knowledge they’ve gained.

But that’s not the way it works. Success depends on what you DO with what you know; how you leverage your knowledge into amazing results for who you work for.
So take your piece of paper, suck everything you can out of it you can, and DO stuff with it.
The more clever you are at getting stuff done, the more successful you’ll be.

The other barrier associated with education is the tendency for everyone to approach problem solving the same way. They were taught a specific way to do things at school and they relentlessly comply with the academic rules leaving no room to be different.
Compliance leaves you like everyone else; approaching things differently will make you standout and more successful.

Copying others

There is too much emphasis on copying others under the guise of innovation.

Copying

Copying best practices and doing what best in class organizations do runs rampant.
When faced with a “How should we do this?” challenge, the first response by most professionals is to find a best practise and try to copy and implement it.

Successful people don’t automatically turn to a solution that someone else has thought of and used; they search for a unique approach that stands out from the crowd of best practices to become THE best practice.
The successful aspire to BE the benchmark for others to copy.

Copying is the antithesis of creativity; don’t be lured into believing that emulation is the route to anything else but what the crowd does.

The wrong kind of mentor

Someone who is intellectually brilliant but has never DONE much to successfully implement a worthy solution in the real world unfortunately attracts mentees.

Young people looking for a mentor are infatuated by the number of letters behind a person’s name as opposed to the list of things they have successfully implemented in the face of chaotic market forces.

This is a huge barrier to success because it assumes high performance comes from the intellect and it doesn’t. It comes from the passion and “fire in the belly” of individuals who are driven to achieve.

Find a mentor who has a rich history of accomplishments; someone who has demonstrated they are unafraid of getting dirty to deliver. Listen to THAT person rather than the IQ ladened one.

Not staying on the learning path

Some people fall victim to believing that there are limits to what you have to learn to achieve success; that once you have amassed a certain amount of knowledge you can stop the learning process.

Learning

It’s almost like they believe the momentum created by what they’ve learned up to now will carry them into the future.
Wrong! Success is achieved not by a “one hit wonder” but by a continuous stream of awesome accomplishments over the long term. It’s a function of performing consistently at a high level.

And the only way long term a high level of consistency can be attained is by learning 24X7X365 because the world keeps changing and the only way to keep up and adapt is to stream new knowledge into your head constantly.

Reliance on what worked yesterday

What got you here will surely get you to where you need to go, right?

After all, you’ve been successful doing certain things well and it paid off, so why wouldn’t it continue to pay off in the future?

The truth is, if your new challenge had all the properties of the past challenges you successfully defeated, then maybe you could get by with sticking to the practices that worked for you then.

But that’s not the real world. Things change and there’s no such thing as a challenge that “looks” the same as yesterday. The world changes. New competitors enter. Technology disruption happens. Customer demands change.

NOTHING stays the same.

So if you really think sticking to your tried and true strategy and approach to your job will keep working into an environment of constant change and unpredictability, good luck with that.

It won’t. Successful people always ask themselves what they have to do differently with each new experience.

6 barriers to success, but all can be overcome with just a little bit of a different attitude.

Cheers,
Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead book series

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  • Posted 1.14.19 at 03:18 am by Roy Osing
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January 7, 2019

7 reasons most call centers are absolutely shameful


Call center

Every organization that is big enough has a call center to handle primarily incoming calls from their customers.

There must be some redeeming value in having one if everyone has one, right? There is: it’s generally viewed as the most efficient operating solution for processing volumes of calls coming into an organization.

The dark side to call centers

But having led large customer service teams in a variety of business environments I have experienced a dark side to call centers.

In many cases I find that call centers represent the antithesis of miraculous service.

When an organization declares they intend to provide amazing service to their customers and then chooses an operating model with a call centre — particularly in a foreign country — as its nucleus, they are not only being disingenuous, they are fooling themselves (and probably driving their customers crazy) and assuming substantial competitive risk.

These are the aspects of call centers, particularly those that are outsourced, I find quite revolting.

They exist to manage cost

They choose to implement a call centre environment not to serve customers better, but to process volumes of calls at the lowest cost possible.

The question is rarely asked “Is this the best way to both serve our customers in an exemplary way while at the same time optimizing our cost position?”

It’s all about cost. That’s why most organizations outsource them around the world where labour costs are low. Current outsourcing destinations include India, Philippines, Thailand, China and Indonesia with many more planning to enter the fray.

Reduce cost

This outsourcing trend has attracted a plethora of experts who define what it takes to have a successful call centre.

They are managed to improve productivity

Effectiveness of a call center is generally based on micro productivity measures such as:

1. average holding time — the elapsed time it takes a call center rep to handle a customer query. Management tries to drive this number down in order to process as many calls as they can with the resources available.

The outcome of each call is rarely measured. Was the customer satisfied with the service they received? Did they enjoy the experience with the rep?

2. average speed of answer — the average length of time it takes to answer an incoming call. When I ran call center operations in the telecom world, my target was to answer 80% of all calls within 6 seconds and our resource levels were set to achieve this result.

This was probably the best internal target we had that represented an attempt to deliver good customer service.
Can you imagine in today’s world reaching a call center rep of any organization within 2 or 3 rings of your phone? Rarely ever happens, with common wait times in the minutes rather than seconds.

Productivity and service miracles don’t easily coexist in most organizations; this measure needs attention if any organization wants to get out of the revolting category.

They don’t drive customer loyalty

Whether a call center serves incoming calls or is used to originate sales-type calls, the heavy traffic volumes involved generally work against the relationship building activity that leads to a loyal customer.

A call comes in > the rep answers (eventually) > the rep deals with the customer’s request > the rep terminates the call > the next call is fed to the rep.
And the cycle is repeated over and over again with a supervisor scrutinizing how long the rep is on each call.

The call center is essentially a production shop with no overt objective of creating an experience for the customer that could lead to brand loyalty.

Customer satisfaction may be measured along with productivity objectives, but a satisfied customer does not make a loyal one.
Satisfaction means that expectations were met; loyalty demands more — minds must be blown, expectations exceeded and marvelous experiences created if the loyalty dial is to be moved.

Wham bam

And this takes time. A WHAM! BAM! THANK YOU MA’M! process does nothing to encourage warm feelings and a desire to do more business with the brand involved.

They take control of your brand

The moment power is given to an outsourced call centre to engage with your customers, control is relinquished and your organization’s brand is put at risk.

Many organizations don’t even put in place a performance management contract with the 3rd party outsourcer to measure how customers perceive the service they receive from call center reps, so changes to brand position are unknown and can’t be responded to.

And with high turnover of employees, consistency in whatever customer treatment is given is almost impossible — at least I don’t experience it.

When your customer connects with the call center you have chosen to empower with your most valued asset, and the experience they have does not go well, it’s on YOU.
The call center rep is YOUR employee. The service outcome is YOUR responsibility.

YOU pay the price in the market.

Their words create the precious moment

Whether a customer has a miraculous service moment or not depends on communications with the call center rep. Miracles happen when the engagement is spirited, entertaining and responsive. When there is an easiness to the conversation that leaves the caller happy and fulfilled.

And for me, very often it is extremely difficult to fight through the accent of a foreign call center rep to have a meaningful and enjoyable conversation.
I simply can’t understand many (not all) of them, and that’s a BIG problem for the outsourcer.
If even the basic communications expectations of the call can be met, there is little chance that a service miracle will ever occur and in fact the opposite is the result with the caller being annoyed or angry with the encounter.

It’s not that the foreign reps are uneducated or don’t have some skills in the English language.
But it’s one thing to pass English 101 and have an understanding of sentence structure and grammar, and quite another to engage with someone else in a way that flows and is productive to the other party.
Are these reps tested by role playing to evaluate their conversational proficiency? Not from where I’m sitting.

Long

Wait times are shameful

Outsources really don’t care about how long we wait on the phone to reach a rep; if they did, they wouldn’t tolerate wait times that often reach ridiculous levels — for me personally, I am blown away if I actually get a rep in 5 minutes and am not surprised to wait 45 minutes or longer. Business mediocrity in action.

It’s ironic that wait times take no priority at all; organizations are content to provide messages they feel assuage their shameful service: “Your call is important to us”; “We are experiencing unusual traffic volumes at the moment” unfortunately greet us more often than not when we call for help.

But wait! There is a silver lining to long wait times. Put your iPhone on speaker, slip it in your back pocket and get on with the job jar your wife has skillfully filled for you.

The reps have an impossible task

I totally get that even a highly competent and caring call center rep has a tough time being on 100% up time.
By the time a customer gets to them, they are often met with frustration, anger and sometimes abuse, with literally zero chance of turning a bad encounter into a pleasant experience.
The reps simply wants to get away from the pain they are engulfed in.

And the rep of course doesn’t own the problem — leadership does.

It’s a pipe dream and shameful leadership behaviour to create an impossible working environment and expect employees to perform impeccably. What planet are they on?

It’s quite simple, really.
If you want low costs, technology can do only so much and you will be saddled with the result. Under-resourcing is typically the result of cost cutting in the face of relentless demand and who pays the price? CUSTOMERS DO!

Call centers generally don’t focus on building intimate customer relationships and outsourcing them makes matters worse.

There are exceptions, however, but these rare organizations make the decision to establish their call center as an integral loyalty building instrument not as an efficient call processing center.

So if you decide to use call center technology to engage with your customers, please don’t preach your intent to deliver amazing service.

It’s intellectually dishonest and it fools no one.

Cheers,
Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead book series

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  • Posted 1.7.19 at 04:10 am by Roy Osing
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