The Granny Lesson

My mom and dad have seven grandchildren. Three live in the US and four live in Ireland. The ones who live in the US live relatively close to my parents so they see each other often. The grandkids in Ireland, however, don’t have the benefit of being with my parents much. But, that hasn’t affected their relationship. The kids Skype with my parents on a weekly basis so that they can see and speak with each other. It’s as good as living down the street.

One of the last times my mom went to Ireland, my youngest nephew, who was three at the time, saw her in the airport and went running up to her and gave her a huge hug. He knew who she was and was thrilled to know that his granny was going to spoil him for the next week or so.

I have channel partners all over the Americas. We email often and have good, productive, email exchanges. However, it’s the phone calls and in person meetings that are the best. We can relate to each other and there’s something about sitting in a room with someone and hearing their voice that changes a relationship. Words written in an email can be taken so many different ways so if you don’t have an established relationship, then words can easily be taken the wrong way. When you sit face to face or hear a voice over the phone, you can get the tone of the voice and can really get a better understanding of what the person with whom you’re speaking, really means.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have built strong relationships with my channel partners over the phone, and of course email, that when we meet face to face, it’s like we’ve know each other for years, understand each other and give each other hugs. (For the record, I don’t suggest hugging people you don’t have a relationship with and if you’re unsure about it. A smile and handshake will work just as well.)

My challenge to you,  get out of the email rut, stop texting, walk over to someone’s desk, pick up the phone or hop on a plane and meet someone face to face. The bond that you build can be as strong as my nephew’s and my mom’s.


Start With Turning on the Faucet

I have all sorts of blog ideas stuck in my head and some I’ve even put in draft form, but I just haven’t written a full one in a while. I have time blocked out every evening to write, but every evening I find something else to do and move the calendar slot to the next night. I love writing but for some reason, I am fantastic at procrastinating when it comes to writing.

I just got an email from IMPACT and it was a list of quotes to get someone past the writers block. This one in particular, got me motivated enough to writing something. “Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” – Louis L’Amour, Author.

Everything I write doesn’t have to be perfect, ground breaking or even interesting to everyone. I have to accept that and move on. As I write this, I realized that the same thing applies to my relationships to my partners, coworkers, friend and family. You don’t have to have a reason to talk to someone, just talk. Start by saying “Hi, how are you?” or “Hi, how was your weekend?” and the water will flow.

We get so caught up in our daily to do list that sometimes we forget to be human. I have to talk to this person about this, and that person about that. How about talking to someone just because you want to, not because you need to? Crazy concept, but when you go to someone for the heck of it and not because you need something, you might actually build a two-way relationship and get a lot more out of the conversation than you ever thought you would. Stop thinking about what you need from someone and start thinking about him or her. People aren’t action items, so make sure not to always treat them that way.

Turn the faucet on and the water will flow, relationships will build and in the end you’ll get all the water you need.

Check out the IMPACT blog here which will give you some quotes to get you writing…it worked for me.

What I Have Learned from the U.S. Court System

I spent a few days last week  in jury selection and it was a very eye-opening experience for me.  I had never been brought into the courtroom for the selection process before so it was all new to me and I had no idea what to expect.  Below are some things that I learned while sitting in the galley for hours upon hours without talking or reading.  Some of the things the court did very well and others needed a lot of improvement.  I’m not going to tell you which ones they did well and those which needed help.  I’ll let you hypothesize. Overall, they all related to how to treat customers so below I share my thoughts with you.

In no particular order…

– Thank your customers. Who doesn’t like a nice “Thank you!” Just make sure that it’s sincere.

– Be nice to your customers. There are many other places they would like to be or other vendors they’d rather be working with so treat them as you’d like to be treated.

– There’s never an excuse to yell at customers. Don’t yell at anyone for that matter.  That’s it!

– A friendly smile and hello never hurt anyone. It could be the best part of someone’s day.

– Be courteous of time. When you say a meeting will start at 9, have it start at 9.

– Don’t break the pace. If things are going well during a call and you have more allotted time, don’t stop to schedule another call.  Take advantage of the time you’re given and make the most out of it.

– Encourage feedback. It might not all be good but if your customers are talking about you, you should want to know what they’re saying.

– Don’t say one thing and do another.

– If there are rules to be followed, explain them. Don’t cheat your customers by penalizing them for things that aren’t in writing or they are not aware of.

What have you learned from the court system that would translate over to customers?

“Things to Think About” for the Reference Professional

#crlp Is your company a co-op? Are you cooperating with your customers – both internal and external?

“Things to Think About” for the Reference Professional is a blurb to get you thinking. You can find content here on this blog or at Twitter under the hashtag for Customer Reference and Loyalty Professionals #crlp.

I’m Good. I’m Not God!

As a reference manager, some of us are tasked with a huge amount of deliverables.  Case studies, press releases, PR references, Marketing references, Sales references, analyst references, customer snapshot slides, logo slides, video testimonials, maintaining a database…. the list could go on forever.  Even if your list just includes finding references for Sales, Marketing and other groups within your company, it’s a huge job.  We have to guarantee that we are providing the most appropriate customer for the each request.  We need to carefully watch the balance of over using a customer as well as making sure that we balance the customer vs. prospect size and the customer contacts title vs. the title of the prospect.  There’s a lot more than goes into a reference than just giving a customer name.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably been hit with Sales folks (or others in the company but for the purpose of this I’m targeting Sales) asking for a certain number of references that fit X, Y and Z (not X, Y or Z) and of course the reference needs to be delivered in a few hours or, if we’re lucky, tomorrow. 

Julie Tung, Vice President of Global Customer Programs at Oracle spoke during the 2010 Customer Reference Forum. What resonated with me the most during her presentation was when she said “We provide references. We don’t create happy customers.”  Have you ever found yourself in a situation where someone says, “Just get a customer!” or “Just find a happy customer!”  It’s almost as if the requestor thinks we snap our fingers and it’s done.  Little do they know!

We have to remember that as Julie said, we provide references and references have to come through Sales, Marketing or other folks in your organization.  We can’t be expected to know every single customer that has ever bought something from us and thier satisfaction or loyalty level.  It’s not possible because for the most part, we’re not in front of the customer as often as other folks are. 

Running a reference program is a two way street.  Sales must work with you and you must work with Sales.  It’s a cyclical process that everyone benefits from.  Get in touch with your Sales team. Have lunch with them. Go to happy hour. Anything you need to do to get face time and to build a good, solid, trustworthy relationship with them.  Once they trust you, you’re job will become much easier. 

For those of us running a program by ourselves, we have to keep in mind that we’re good but we’re not God.  We can’t always do it all but we’ll do our best at all times.

For those who aren’t reference professionals, please remember that not everything can always be done and in the time frame required.  We do our best and sometimes we win and sometimes we lose.  Not all Sales people win their deals.  Not all quarterbacks throw touch down passes – sometimes they get sacked on the field.  So please, treat us as you would others.  We’re only human so treat us like humans!

As a reference program manager, we are a service group within any organization so as you would with external customers, set realistic expectations with your internal customers.

I Love You, but I’m Not IN LOVE With You!

We’ve all seen the movie where the girl or guy turns to their significant other and says “I love you, but I’m not in love with you.” Sometimes it’s hard to believe while other times you want to yell at the TV and say “Duh!!!!!” Shouldn’t the recipient of the news have known? You can tell when someone loves you compared to being in love with you right?! Most of the time I think it’s pretty obvious.

Companies often fall into the same situation when you change the first “love” to “satisfaction” and the second to “loyal”. Companies tend to think that satisfied customers are enough, but it’s not. You want loyal customers! Companies also tend to think that satisfaction and loyalty are the same.  They are very different!

To read more, please visit my guest blog for The Insight Advantage.

“Things to Think About” for the Reference Professional

#crlp WOMM can be as powerful as your sales team.

“Things to Think About” for the Reference Professional is a weekly blurb to get you thinking. You can find content here on this blog or at Twitter under the hashtag for Customer Reference and Loyalty Professionals #crlp.