Customer Experience vs. Profitability

Most teams are trying their very best to make customers happy. Some are more lucky than others to get some executive buy-in. Often times I get asked how they could convince their executive bench that improvements in the customer experience model is very important. Customers are requesting the same but executive are often too busy to focus on shareholder value discussion than on business execution.

We made a little test and ran some sentiment analysis across fortune 1,000 companies. The result shows a stunning correlation between customer experience and profitability. Customer focused businesses who create a positive customer experience are also profitable. To the contrary, those businesses who care less about their customers and have a largely negative brand reputation (measured by customer sentiment) are also not profitable.


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Fool’s Gold: Searching for the Most Important Step Will Ruin Your Sales Process

What’s the most important system in your car?

a. Engine
b. Steering
c. Braking
d. Drive train
e. Lubrication

Assuming you want to drive, “all of these” is the right answer. Subtract any choice, and your car won’t go around the block, let alone get out of the driveway.

Segue to sales processes. For reasons I don’t fully understand, people worship the Holy Grail of Most Importance. A question on LinkedIn asks “What is the most important step in the sales process?” Hundreds of people were moved to answer, contributing 508 responses (and counting). I read the comments until they began repeating like billboards on a highway. “Building trust. Establishing credibility. Pre-call planning. Determining need. The close. Collecting payment. Building a long-term relationship. Qualifying. Listen. Building rapport. Understanding requirements. Opening statement.” All are important.

But some, like determining need and building trust, aren’t in fact steps (do they stop or are they ongoing?), and none are “most important”—and never will be. Finding a “most important” step for selling is illusory, and can only lead to poor decisions.

A few people who responded to the LinkedIn question dismissed the most-important step ideal, and suggested that combinations of steps matter. They’re on to something. Like cars, sales processes must synchronously combine supporting processes, systems, and technologies, or they’ll fail to achieve their purpose. Not a new epiphany. One hundred years ago, Joseph Schumpter, an economist, said “to produce means to combine materials and forces within our reach . . . to produce other things, or the same things by a different method, means to combine these materials and forces differently.” In his book, The Nature of Technology, author W. Brian Arthur writes, “Schumpter had come to this idea because he had been asking a seemingly simple question: “how does an economy develop?” In 1910, had he asked “what’s the most important industry?” he would gained a less valuable, and more temporary insight.

Maybe the journey to effective sales processes would be better facilitated by asking “what enables a sales transaction to develop?” The journey begins with finding the right concept, and building processes to achieve it. The concept of a car is to move a person—or people—between two points. That takes more than an engine. The concept of a sales process is to generate revenue from discovered needs. That’s complicated—even for a vendor selling hot dogs from a cart in Manhattan.

According to Arthur, a process or technology “derives from a central principle and has a central assembly—an overall backbone of the device or method that executes this—plus other assemblies hung off this to make this workable and regulate its function. Each of these assemblies is itself a technology and therefore itself has a central backbone and other subassemblies attached to this.”

Although it took me a while to get my head around this explanation, he’s exactly right when it comes to selling. Combinations of technologies and processes are required. But there’s more. Describing how energy efficiency services are provided, technology expert James Newcomb said, “doing it well entails knowledge of literally thousands of individual technologies, together with the capability to assimilate and optimally combine these technologies in particular applications, taking into consideration interactive effects, control systems, process implications . . . it’s the skill of a master chef, not a grocer’s buyer.”

Seeking the “most important step” won’t help companies sell more effectively. According to Arthur, “the beauty in good process design is that of appropriateness, of least effort for what is achieved. It derives from a feeling that all that is in place is properly in place, that not a piece can be rearranged, and that nothing is to excess.”


Facebook: Strong Growth In India, Brazil & Mexico

The United States has fully bounced back from a period of slow growth in June. Following fairly strong July numbers, we’re now seeing a big gain of five million new monthly active users in August for Facebook’s home country.

Seasonality can serve to explain some of what’s happening in the US — early summer has traditionally been a slow period for social networks and other youth-dominated sites, as high school and college kids take a break from school. But there appears to be more to the story.

The overall penetration level of the US has continued to creep up through monthly volatility, now standing at 43.8 percent overall. The common wisdom has held that US growth would likely level out at around 40 percent penetration. That hasn’t happened yet, with the US continuing to provide the strongest gains for Facebook more often than not. More>>

Marrying Social Marketing & Media Buying

With every passing day, it seems social media becomes more engrained in the media strategist’s daily work life. Whereas not long ago our interest in social sites was limited to the advertising options these sites afforded our clients, they are now garnering consideration on a deeper level. Buyers are collaborating closely with social media strategists to create campaigns that cover all key online touch points, and to ensure that the campaign concepts they help to devise and the placements they negotiate extend to consumers on social media sites. More>>

Social Traffic Soars But Digg Continues To Die

Digg is dying just when traffic from social media to web sites increases. Social traffic is becoming as important, or more so, than search traffic from the likes of Google (GOOG) and Yahoo (YHOO).

Gawker Media, one of the biggest publisher on the internet has seen it traffic from social sites increase from 10 million visits a month from social sites to 20 million year over year – of which Facebook accounts for 7.7 million visits or a third of the visits.

Less than a year ago, Digg was the single most important social site for Gawker. Now it has been eclipsed by the likes of Facebook. Reddit, Condé Nast’s “Digg clone,” is catching up as well.

Call for speakers

We are looking for social media practitioner from SMB companies in the B2B space to share their social media experience at SMTW 2010. We expect approximately 5,000 attendees from around the world. While we will have well known speaker from large organizations we also like to present SMB cases studies. If you are interested please provide: - Company Name - What social media engagement you conducted - What results or issues you saw Please no consultants but only managers who executed their own strategy. Please contact