Run Your Business Like a Rock Band

Management

Good day everyone, I wrote this some time ago, but some lessons need to be remembered.  This piece was inspired by an article from “The Boston Globe:”

What businesses can learn from the Grateful Dead

The Grateful Dead provided us with more than memorable summer nights; they showed the way to business success. I will focus on two ideas and how they relate to Community Management and Customer Service.

1. Be Transparent
“The Grateful Dead’s authenticity endeared them to fans and allowed the band to experiment. They found that mistakes are quickly forgiven if a company is transparent about what it’s doing.”

Trust is everything in business and your business will disappear if your customers do not trust you. Come forward and admit to your mistake, apologize and fix the problem or policy. Problems happen, the very companies do not sit back and hope the problem goes away, they take action to fix the issue AND admit they made a mistake.
Transparency is not just about customer service, it relates to your financial accounting too. Enron (and others), lost customer trust and fortunes because of greed and terrible ethics. Don’t keep two sets of books.
Great service and sound ethics are foundations on which you should build your company.

2. Give, and you shall Receive 
“The Grateful Dead removed barriers to their music by allowing fans to tape concerts for free. That brought in new fans and grew sales for concerts, records, and merchandise. They showed that when content is free, more people hear about a company and eventually do business with it.”

Customers are demanding access to knowledge in order to self-solve their problems. Providing an open knowledge base lowers your customer service costs, increases customer satisfaction, and shows your company is a thought leader. The Consortium for Service Innovation has published a paper about how Mathworks has turned knowledge-share upside down by publishing their entire knowledge base within their Community.
I can hear the question now: “But support contracts are a large part of our revenue, we can’t just give away our knowledge.”
Give away the knowledge, not the support. Customers who pay for a service contract are NOT paying for information, they are paying for immediate support and people to solve their problems for them.
Stop funneling your customers into horrible phone queues: listen to them on social media and build them a community where they can interact with you (and other customers) to learn, share knowledge, and solve their problems.

Rock on!

Cheers,
Toby

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#Bufferchat: Risks and Experimenation

bufferchat

My recap of the 3/1/2017 #Bufferchat hosted by @buffer.  Join the conversation every Wednesday at 12pm EST.

Q1: If you’re up for sharing, what is a big risk you’ve taken in your life that ended up working out well?

  • Getting married and having children

Q2: What was the last time you tried an experiment, or followed through with a new idea, at work?

  • Being a Community Manager – every day is something new and full of experiments (& new relationships)
  • A risk that paid dividends is handing community keys over to my members; asking for and counting on their help

Q3: What’s your process for starting an experiment (or anything new) at work? What steps do you take?

  • Plan / brainstorm – make my case – get buy in – execute – measure – correct as needed
  • Ensue it aligns with company goals
  • Gather great brains to brainstorm

Q4: How do you know if it’s worth taking a risk at work or in life?

  • What does your inner voice tell you

Q5: When you have new ideas, what’s your advice for getting more support from managers/leadership?

  • Prove with data how is moves the company forward
  • Prove how your idea will make your boss / department look good
  • Ask for their opinion or strategy advice

Q6: What do you do if your ideas/experiments aren’t successful?

  • Don’t whine or pout – understand why it did not fit into the strategy
  • Ask if now is not the time, when would be the time
  • Understand how your idea can be improved then make your case again
  • DO NOT take it personally

Q7: What has been your biggest learning about risk-taking? Any tips to share?

  • There is no reward or sense of personal fulfillment without risk – plan and go for it

Thanks for reading – I look forward to you comments and hope to see you at the next #bufferchat.

Cheers,

Toby

 

My Workstyle – Lead & Inspire

Simon

I often get asked: “What makes you tick and how do you motivate others?”  These are my four principals; I would love to discuss them further with you.

Collaborate, Question, Understand

  • Ask: Is this the best way and why?
  • Remove silos & work towards a common goal
  • Understand goals, expectations & what equals success

Manage people not spreadsheets

  • Encourage and empower
  • Ensure my message is understood
  • Numbers are easy to manage, people are not
  • Metrics are guardrails that ensure you are on track

Be a customer advocate

  • Have a win-win outlook
  • Do not hide behind bad policy
  • Help them navigate your processes
  • Be their partner and make life easier

Engagement over membership

  • Rather than 100,000 members, achieve a 90% answer rate
  • 75% of content / answers are customer driven
  • Without engagement, you have a list, not a community

How do you manage, motivate, and keep your team on track?  I welcome your comments and questions.

Best,

Toby

Honesty, Transparency, and Sunlight

Transparency

No matter if you are politician, business person, or social media pro, you (should) seek to gain trust and the loyalty it provides.  Trust.  So hard to earn and so easy to lose.

You reach a crossroad and you are not sure which path to take; do I need to defend my brand or organization?  When that time comes, ask yourself and those in the room: will this decision pass the “sunlight test?”  If what you are trying to hide reaches the sunlight, what will people think?  Why would you be hiding this in the first place?

You may need to break a tie or relationship, but you will be right with a clear conscience and respected reputation.

Your comments are welcome.

Best,

Toby