Can Customer Experience Be Managed?By Gregory Yankelovich

MottoMost Customer Experience professionals would find this question to be ludicrous, but in the article “Is Customer Experience Manageable? An Industry Pundit Says No” Esteban Kolsky lists 5 arguments to convince them otherwise.

It is critical to start any discussion with definitions of what is being discussed in order to prevent this discussion to become as pointless as debate about the gender of angels – as engaging as it may be, there are very few practical implications.

There are a few definitions for Customer Experience, but this one is sufficiently appropriate for the discussion:

Customer experience (CX) is the sum of all experiences a customer has with a supplier of goods and/or services, over the duration of their relationship with that supplier. This can include awareness, discovery, attraction, interaction, purchase, use, cultivation and advocacy.”

There are many more definitions for “management,” such as

management in business and organizations means to coordinate the efforts of people to accomplish goals and objectives using available resources efficiently and effectively. Management comprises planning, organizing, staffing, leading or directing, and controlling an organization or initiative to accomplish a goal.”

Any definition of organizational management that includes the word “control” supports Esteban’s position – Customer Experience cannot be controlled by a company. However, if we agree that management means coordination, planning, etc., then Customer Experience is absolutely manageable.

A Twitter exchange with @billholland inspired me to think about it a little deeper than usual, where he pointed out that



The objective of Customer Experience Management is very similar, if not identical, to original objective of Customer Relationship Management efforts – to allow an organization scale fast without losing its focus on customers. CRM has promised a 360-degree visibility of a customer and failed miserably to deliver it, sidetracked by inability to break organizational silos beyond Sales, Customer Service and Marketing. Specialization helps organizations to scale very fast and very efficiently, but the price it pays is a loss of effectiveness as every department is focused on their domain, while the goal of business gets out of focus completely.

Today, Customer Experience Management faces the same challenges and experience of CRM veterans, like Esteban, is very valuable. This is what he has to say (in bold):

  1. Customers are not listening to what you have to say. This is because Social Media gives them more authentic, informative and relevant information about your company and your product.
  2. Customers know more about your business than you do. In this chapter Esteban specifically questions value of “Customer Journey.” I agree with him that too many customer experience professionals focused on customer journey too much – often to the detriment of the overall objective, like many CRM professionals before them, who proudly delivered glorified contact management to celebrate a “mission accomplished” moment. Personally, I think that customer journey charting is a valuable exercise, for some businesses more than others, to get better empathy and understanding. Just remember that customer journey is a relatively small subset (interaction management) of overall effort.
  3. Customers create their own experience. Customers can create their own experience just as successfully as companies can control it – it is not possible. The experience is created mutually by all parties to this relationship. The more flexible and better informed the parties are, the better likelihood of the great experience for all parties involved. Today, customers seem to be better informed than manufacturers and retailers participating in the process of delivery.
  4. Customer interactions are complex and unpredictable.
  5. Customer (and user) communities are where the knowledge is at.

I am not convinced that the last two chapters gave good reasons to throw a towel on attempts to manage efforts for improvement of customer experiences. One thing to remember is – don’t stop trying just because you cannot provide the best experience for your customers. That is not the goal. The goal is to provide better experience to your customers than your competitors provide to theirs, and live to fight another day.



B2B Sales 101: Winning the Hearts of Administrative Assistants

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Making Nice With the Gatekeeper Gives You A Better Chance of Getting Through to the Boss

They call them the Gatekeepers, the Silent Sentinels, the Frontline Facilitators. Administrative assistants are the backbone of every organization. From the legal office receptionist in your small local town to the corporate assistants in bustling cities, these individuals work behind-the-scenes, quietly executing executive tasks and injecting their influence into every department they touch.

Assistants can grant access to opportunities, including coveted face-to-face time with high-level leaders. With a swift click on a calendar, they can make a sales rep feel incredibly lucky or disappointingly flat.

What’s the best way to ensure you’re one of the lucky ones? Why, by cracking the Gatekeeper Code, of course.

Techniques to Avoid

The Fast-Talking Bypass: When an administrative assistant answers a direct-line phone call, try not to hurriedly ask for the person you originally dialed. If that person were available, you would be speaking with them. Take the time to introduce yourself, ask the assistant how he or she is, and then inquire what the best way would be to get in contact with the boss.

The Voicemail Veto: The assistant you refused to leave a message with will be the same one listening to your voicemail. Try not to put a bad taste in the assistant’s mouth by demanding to be sent to voicemail. You don’t want his or her translation of your message to be tainted by negativity. When an assistant says, “Can I take a message?” go ahead and leave one. Save personal, confidential messages for in-person, direct communication.

SEE ALSO: LinkedIn is Better For B2B Networking

The Electronic Snub: When emailing, ask the leader if they have an assistant they’d like you to work with. When you know of an assistant, go through that person when sending out scheduling inquiries. To review: when an assistant is an option, use them first. Sending a scheduling inquiry directly to the boss will clog up the inbox and cause you further delays. Assistants schedule meetings, and while they may need to get approval for your meeting, they can certainly get in front of their boss quicker than you.

The Title Tantrum: When your clients are other businesses, it’s important to remember your title doesn’t mean nearly as much to them as it does to you. You may be the director of your region, or the CEO or founder of your business, but to the person on the other end of the line, you may as well be another stranger on the street. Do not expect your title to speak for you. Basic human considerations, such as saying please and thank you, will win more hearts than an air of entitlement.

The Liar Liar Pants on Fire: Lying to an assistant to get on an executive’s calendar is like nailing a lid on your coffin. Once the assistant catches on to what you’re doing (which, believe me, will absolutely happen by the time you arrive to meet with the executive), you’ll be forever stashed in the “untrustworthy” bucket. This is not a nice place to be when trying to schedule follow up meetings or project implementation sessions.

SEE ALSO: 6 Tips For A Perfect Sales Presentation

The Communication Choke: Leave a message, shoot off an email, and then please, please, please, just wait. No need to later call the assistant, then call the executive’s line, then send an email to the assistant, then send another email cc-ing the boss. You may think you’re pursuing all possible avenues, but to assistants, you’re undermining their ability to do their job. Give them a nice, polite window of time and then follow up—without tattling on them to the boss.

Techniques to Embrace

The Sweet Talker: There is absolutely nothing wrong with using an A-game sales mentality with an administrative assistant. They are people, too, and often susceptible to the same ego manipulation techniques executives are. Be polite and inquisitive, speak clearly, use eye contact if you’re in person, complement them, and thank them for their time. Making yourself memorable (in a positive way) is key.

The Personality Player: What is your personality power? Do you have a great sense of humor? A quick, dry wit? Are you wonderful at reading people? Can you tailor your mannerisms to meet someone else’s preferences? There’s a reason you are wonderful at selling your business. Capitalize on your passions, strengths, and uniqueness, and let the assistant see you do it.

SEE ALSO: Prepare for Your Next Meeting With LinkedIn

The Resourceful Renegade: Never underestimate an assistant’s ability to assist. They are the eyes and ears of their organization and often fully understand the operational tasks, requirements, and responsibilities of their leaders. They can also steer you in the right direction when you’ve called the wrong place. Try asking them for help. They can provide golden nuggets of information regarding staffing size, technology needs, or current vendor relations. Even if you don’t get to the boss that day, these tidbits of knowledge are invaluable.

The Candy Shoppe: You will occasionally find an assistant who doesn’t like chocolate. Take the risk. The gift will be remembered long after your face is forgotten. Sure, you may not want to be known as “The Vendor Who Brought Me a Basket of Chocolate-Covered Strawberries,” but leaving a good impression increases the chances of being called by your actual name someday by the executives who approve your invoices.

SEE ALSO: Your Sales Tactics Are Boring

The Graceful Defeat: Sometimes the fish just don’t bite. Every now and then, you’ll be turned down. Maintain your professionalism and ask if you can follow up in six months. Reach out through LinkedIn, both to the executive and the assistant. Send a holiday greeting to remind them you’re still around. Sometimes the business isn’t wanted, but the person behind the business is. Keep all avenues open by accepting your product may not be wanted now, but may be wanted later. When the need arrives, who is the executive more likely to turn to, a never-heard-of, dull sales caller or the nice vendor who sent a card at Christmas?

When your goal is to communicate with the executive, never pass up the chance to win the heart of the assistant. Money has been made and agreements signed soon after hearing the words, “Remember that woman who brought us Starbucks a few weeks ago? What’s her number again?” Guarantee your digits are dialed by solidifying your relationship with the one person who records, maintains, and organizes such things…the assistant.


3 Questions That Will Motivate Your Employees BY LAURA GARNETT

Forget money or touchy-feely stuff. These three clear questions will change the way staff approaches work.


We all want to be motivated — and, as entrepreneurs, we love the idea of being able to motivate others. That’s great in theory, but it’s not always clear how to accomplish this within the day-to-day grind of a fast-moving business. What’s a busy entrepreneur to do?

It’s a widespread problem: According to Gallup’s most recent engagement research, 71 percent of Americans are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” in their work. Those workers are less likely to be productive.

The traditional methods — higher pay, for example — produce mixed results. As Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic writes in Harvard Business Review, “If we want an engaged workforce, money is clearly not the answer. In fact, if we want employees to be happy with their pay, money is not the answer. In a nutshell: money does not buy engagement.”

So if the evidence is convincing, that higher pay doesn’t motivate, what does? The science tells us that intrinsic motivation, when there is interest or enjoyment of a task, is what really drives satisfaction at work. Dan Pink, author of the book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, says there are three key drivers of motivation: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

The problem is that most people don’t know how to create intrinsic motivation for themselves, much less be able to ask for it from their bosses. On the flip side, as bosses, trying to motivate can seem like an endless rabbit hole that’s far easier to ignore than to dive into. Instilling mastery and purpose seems too touchy-feely, and granting employees autonomy seems scary.

Motivation is a goal that ultimately falls into the hands of an individual — there’s only so much you can do as a boss, after all — but it’s important to create an environment where full motivation is possible. It’s your job to be the catalyst.

With that in mind, I have created a few easy questions that can make the task of motivating employees more standardized and manageable. Try asking your team these questions once a month — and create a regular dialogue that keeps the topic of motivation front and center.

1. What has been the most exciting work experience for you this month and why? 

2. Do you consider your current role your ideal job? What more could you be doing that would benefit the business — and make the experience more enjoyable for you in the process?

3. Do you feel that you get purpose from our mission and vision? If not, tell me what gives you purpose — and how you can leverage that mission for our business.

Use these questions as a catalyst for conversation. Let your employees know that its OK to not feel motivated; you can’t improve motivation without talking about it. Let them know that you are there to engage in the conversation and support them in doing their best work. Encourage them to come to you each month with ideas on how to increase their interest and motivation. To stay away from the touchy-feely, ask for specificity. Request that they bring projects, ideas, and a personal mission statement that aligns with the company’s.

If an employee is consistently unmotivated and dispassionate, it will soon be apparent to both of you that there isn’t a fit. However, more often than not, the conversation will catalyze employees to motivate themselves with the company goals in mind — which, at the end of the day, is your goal too.

Read more:–link–3-Questions-That-Will-Motivate-Your-Employees?eid=3769242

How To Be A Better Leader By Rewiring Your Brain BY WILL YAKOWICZ


Controlling the way your brain responds to emotions isn’t as complicated as it sounds. A psychologist explains the steps that will change your behavior.

As a leader, you can’t let emotions like stress, fear, or anger control your behavior. Although it takes time to perfect, there are ways to control your negative emotions and guide your responses.

Dr. Casey Mulqueen, a psychologist and the director of research and product development at leadership training company Tracom Group, says executives can leverage psychology to be better leaders and get more out of their employees. Mulqueen, who has done consulting work for companies ranging from Victoria’s Secret to Lockheed Martin, trains executives to harness what he calls “Behavioral Emotional Intelligence.” The concept is based on Emotional Intelligence (EQ)the ability to recognize, understand, and control your own and others’ emotions.

Behavioral Emotional Intelligence (BEQ) goes one step further–it is the ability to recognize and understand the emotions you and others are feeling and behave appropriately. To illiustrate the difference, if a manager sees that an employee is depressed, his emotional intelligence is only valuable if he does something to help.

The human brain automatically reacts to physical or psychological threats by releasing hormones. It’s a fight-or-flight response that’s a remnant of our evolution from primates, Mulqueen says. When the  hormones are released, it’s hard to control your actions. But Mulqueen says that you can “effectively fight your own evolution” and “rewire your brain” to act appropriately by “recognizing your automatic responses, labeling them, and figuring what you have control over in the situation.” Once you’ve mastered these techniques, you can lead by example to foster BEQ among your employees.

Check out Mulqueen’s tips on how to recognize your emotions and control your behavior below.

Engage your prefrontal cortex.

Mulqueen says that the amygdala, the part of your brain that releases stress hormones, activates whenever our grey matter registers a physical or psychological threat. This can happen if a colleague puts down your idea during a company meeting, if someone yells at you, or if you’re doing a presentation and are afraid of public speaking. To battle this automatic response you need to engage your prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for logical reasoning and problem solving, while you’re in the situation and before you respond. He suggests you slow down, think about what just happened, dissect why, and rehearse a response. “These two parts of the brain are directly linked and what you do is train your prefrontal cortex to clamp down and control the amygdala so you don’t have a stress response,” Mulqueen says.

Write down what you’re grateful for

Every employee wants a grateful leader. But since the human brain suffers from what psychologists call “the negativity bias,” where we are more attuned to threat than opportunity, you may have to work at firing up your feelings of gratitude. “This sounds a little funny and soft, but it is grounded in research: One of the best ways to increase your personal optimism and happiness is to keep a gratitude journal,” Mulqueen says. “Every day you write down three things that went well during the day and what you’re grateful for. Believe it or not, research shows it’s one of the best ways to increase optimism and happiness.” So every time an employee does a great job, for example, send them an email expressing your gratitude for their hard work.

Give back.

Mulqueen says giving back to your employees is another important behavior that helps to change your mood and attitude. “One way to give to other people is to be a mentor to them. You have become a leader for a reason–you have skills, education, and experience you’ve developed over time. You can give some of this to an employee who just graduated college, who doesn’t have any of that and is just flying on their own,” he says. “Spend time every week, or every couple of weeks, giving yourself to that person. Answer questions, talk about your experiences. Your time is a profound gift to someone else. The act of giving also helps you improve your optimism and outlook.”