Wednesday, May 26, 2010

UC and the Contact Center: The Real Approach to Success

Unified Communication (UC), as both concept and product, has been around for over 10 years. In fact, I remember working on my first UC client 15 years ago. So why has it taken so long for the idea to really take hold, or has it? Better yet, what is the attraction that UC holds to the contact center that has folks looking to give every agent a UC client on their desktop? Well, that all depends upon who you consider an “agent”.

Fifteen years ago, back in the stone age, there were only a handful of ways communications happened in the business world: telephone, fax, brick-sized cell phone, pager and e-mail. Compared to today, a very simple list of methods to reach out and touch someone. A “Unified Communication” client needed only to provide a singular interface to the telephone system and e-mail system as the other communication forms were largely reachable through various e-mail gateways. The hard work was the connection to the PBX as every PBX had a unique interface.

Those that deployed these early UC clients were able to improve the speed with which users dialed the phone, created conference calls and accessed unique PBX features that were hard to use. Phone numbers on web pages were dialable through a “Swipe & Dial” capability. Caller ID became useful through the link to one’s address book. In short, the early focus of UC clients was on making it easier to utilize voice services.

Fast forward to today. Voice calls still represent a large percentage of communication activity in the business world. E-mail is now accessed through smartphones as much as it is through our desktop applications. Microsoft Office has sweetened the pot by bringing “Smart Tags” to the full suite of applications. Smart Tags allow names and phone numbers found within any Office application to be linked to one’s Outlook address book thus the name of a colleague appearing in a document will have a drop-down box available via right-click that then displays all the available means of contacting the highlighted person. Add to this convenience the “always on” nature of smartphones with Internet access, text messaging ubiquity and the rise in Social Networks and the landscape of communication choices is the broadest it has ever been. Today’s UC clients need to provide connectivity to all these forms of communication in a seamless fashion including recipient status and one’s own status. In short, the business user with a fully functional UC client has access to some very powerful technology to help them be connected and stay connected to those people who matter.

So how does this apply to the contact center? Here is where the current UC model breaks down.

Today’s Unified Communication client, while a powerful application to enhance the communication tools utilized in the business, lacks a few key features to make it suitable for the contact center.

Contact centers are all about delivering service to customers. The service delivery model commonly involves communicating with customers using a variety of media. This service delivery model, when well designed, also requires that there be continuity between prior interactions and the current interaction. Here is where the UC client falls down; continuity.

While the common UC client is very adept and consolidating the wide variety of communication forms into a single desktop application, the tools are not designed to capture the detailed account of what brought about the latest interaction, the outcome of prior interactions and the follow-up dates for future contact with the customer. In short, the UC client is not a replacement for a quality CRM application. The UC clients being sold today are ideal tools for consolidating but are lousy for tracking and sharing customer interactions. Thus we get to the core reason UC clients are not a good choice for customer service agents.

A quality CRM application provides the means for capturing all aspects of each interaction between a customer and a service delivery resource. That service delivery resource may be an agent in a contact center or may be a product specialist in the back office or perhaps someone in the warehouse. Any resource that can be involved in the service delivery process needs an access method for updating the CRM system.

Does that mean every employee needs an expensive desktop license and associated training for the CRM application? No. What it does mean is that while the UC client is a useful tool for each and every employee, those who also interact with customers need to have a means for connecting the UC tools and the CRM tools together. In other words, the UC client can serve as the software interface used by non-agents provided there is a means for capturing a summary of the interaction into the existing CRM system. Such a design delivers all the needed functionality with a minimum amount of user training.

Thus we have the designated lines of demarcation. The dedicated contact center staff need a quality CRM application with the UC connectivity embedded into the desktop application. The ROI of such an investment is easy to calculate and justify. The Unified Communication client, suitable for the balance of the employees within a business, certainly delivers benefit to the organization though the ROI is a bit softer. Where the 2 worlds overlap, the UC client needs to be connected to the CRM system resulting in the best of both worlds.

If you are in the market for a Unified Communication client and looking to deploy the client within the service delivery realm, ask the vendors how their client connects to your existing CRM system. You may be surprised at the answer and grateful that you asked.

If you would like help insuring that your Unified Communication client does what it should, I am happy to help. Please call me and I will be happy to provide assistance: 602-492-1088.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Science of Business – Made Easy! [Inertia]

The law of inertia is very simple.  It states that an object in motion will stay in motion until it is acted upon by something that changes it direction or speed of motion.  The law of inertia also states that an object at rest - motionless - will remain at rest until an external force causes motion of the object.
So how does the law of inertia apply to a business?

The laws of inertia apply to businesses in a wide variety of ways.  Let’s start with motion.  Within every company, the act of delivering a product or service to a customer involves motion.  More deliveries equals more motion.  Less deliveries equals less motion.   Sending out flyers to prospects equals more motion.  Asking for referrals equals more motion.  Behind each of these motions is someone putting forth effort.

Essentially, inertia is a product of effort; effort from employees and effort from customers.  Employees contribute to the inertia levels through their actions to help grow the company.  Whether it be selling, delivering, servicing or supporting those who do these things, each employee’s efforts towards making the company a success contributes to a higher level of inertia. 

Customers contribute to the inertia-building effort too.  Buying products or services are the obvious means of contribution.  Sharing their positive experience with others and making recommendations to friends and acquaintances contributes greatly to the inertia-building effort.  A new restaurant relies on customers telling their friends of “their great meal” if they hope to survive more than a month. 

As motion is equated to inertia, the more motion, the higher the level of inertia.   Inertia translates into customers buying more products without a direct selling effort.  Inertia is what keeps a company relevant in a marketplace though the newest product was announced long ago.  Inertia is the momentum that produces sales without constant promotion, incentives and discounts.  In short, inertia is what allows a company to get through the dips in the sales numbers and ride out the occasional rough spots that happen to every business.

So does every company have the same level of inertia?  No.  Inertia is not just a function of effort.  It is also a function of velocity and size.  Let’s start with velocity.

Velocity refers to the speed at which an object is moving.  The same object traveling at half the speed will have half the inertia.  The company whose “speed of business” is half that of its same-sized competitors will have half the inertia.  Its ability to weather the downtimes will be less than its competitors as it has less inertia.  Velocity is evidenced by the speed of order delivery, the number of sales calls made per day versus the nearest competitor and the speed of service delivered to customers.  Want more velocity?  Do these things faster and without errors and you will have more velocity.  Faster but with lots of mistakes will reduce velocity and inertia. 
Size or mass is the other factor influencing inertia.

If you roll a billiard ball and a bowling ball down a sidewalk at the same speed, which is harder to stop?  Exactly, the bowling ball.  Its mass is so much greater than that of the billiard ball, it has more inertia.  It is much the same situation in business.
The large, multi-national companies we read about every day have a tremendous amount of inertia.  Years in the making, these companies have many thousands of employees and customers helping to create more inertia every day.  For them, economic downturns are unpleasant but rarely fatal.  The inertia they have built up over many years of growing to become a large company gives them the inertia needed to get through the rough spots.
The small business does not enjoy the same inertia without having a much higher velocity level; higher velocity making up for the lack of mass.  The small business needs to be much more diligent about inertia-directed efforts every business day.  The small business needs to make sure every customer is an advocate and every employee determined to make the company a success.  There is no “down-time” for the small business as its inertia can quickly slip away.

Back to the rolling balls.  How much more effort does it take to keep the billiard ball rolling down the sidewalk as compared to the bowling ball?  A lot more!  The billiard ball has a lot less inertia to keep it rolling without a constant push.  That’s the same in business.  The benefit of the billiard ball is that it takes a lot less effort to impart a greater level of velocity than the bowling ball.  In a large business, it takes a lot more people exerting effort to enjoy the velocity that fewer people can produce within the small business.   

We’ve covered the differences between the small business and the large company from the standpoint of existing operations, but what about starting a new business?  How does a business get inertia when it is just starting?  Good question.

Our 2 balls are now sitting side by side.  Per the definition of inertia, both balls have inertia, the amount of which is tied to their respective masses.  Which is easier to start rolling?  That’s right.  The billiard ball is much easier to start rolling than the bowling ball.  Less mass means less effort to get started.  Again, the same rule applies to the world of business.

The small business, like the billiard ball, takes less “effort” to get rolling.  The financial resources required to start a small business are generally less than that of a large company, the number of employees needed is smaller and the timeframe to go from idea to door-opening is generally much shorter.  The large business is on the other end of the scale.  Starting a large company takes much more start-up capital, more employees and often much longer to organize.  As you might imagine, very few companies start out as large companies.

In fact, most large companies of today were small companies when they started.  Southwest Airlines started with 3 planes.  McDonald’s was a single restaurant.   General Electric started with a single light bulb.

Just in case you get the idea that the singular objective of every business ought to be maximum size, let’s put that notion to rest.  While it would be silly to suggest that keeping a company small by inhibiting its growth is a sound business strategy, I would suggest that growing the company at all costs may also not be the ideal objective.  As I have pointed out, there are certain advantages to large companies that small companies do not enjoy.  Inertia is one of those distinct advantages.  Inertia does come with a downside however.  Nimbleness.

Let’s go back one more time to the rolling balls.  Assuming they are both rolling at the same speed, which ball is easier to divert or change the direction of its motion?  That’s right.  The billiard ball.  Its smaller mass and smaller inertia make the billiard ball much easier to divert than the bowling ball.

Again, the same holds true in business.  A change of business direction is much easier to accomplish in a small company than a large company.  There are less employees to recruit to the new idea.  There are less customers to notify.  There are fewer barriers in the way.  In business, any major change of direction produces an upset of routine that needs to be addressed throughout the organization.  Everyone needs to understand what is happening, why it is happening and how they will be effected.  In a company of 100 employees, that is much easier to manage than a company with 10,000 employees.   Remember that every employee is contributing their part to the company’s inertia.  To get everyone to change the focus of their inertia-generating efforts is no small task.  It takes a lot more than a few memos and phone calls to get all the employees in a large company to be fully productive after a major operational change. 

Mergers of large companies are great examples of this.  When Nations Bank bought Bank of America – and kept the Bank of America name – it took over 4 years to bring the 2 organizations into a single entity.  Changing the names on the branches and buildings alone took over a year.   America West Airlines and US Air have taken over 2 years to merge and there is still no singular name in place.  We’ll see if United Airlines and Continental Airlines can merge any faster.

The fact is that really large companies find it very difficult to change directions because of the large amount of inertia they have developed.  It is much easier for a large company to acquire a small company who leads in a market where the large company wants to enter than it is to try to take existing resources and have them start a new company in the same market.  It is this nimbleness that makes small companies the pioneers behind so many new technologies and new markets.
The final item to point out in this discussion of inertia has to do with the inertia of a conglomerate.  Today, there are only a handful of conglomerate companies left in the world.  Conglomerates are companies that own businesses in a wide variety of unrelated markets.   Berkshire Hathaway is a well known conglomerate owning an insurance company, railroad, bakery and many other companies.  What makes a conglomerate different from a singular company of equivalent size has to do with how the individual businesses behind the conglomerate are operated.  The wise leader allows each individual business to operate independent of the other entities.  In this way, each operating business is able to build and manage its own inertia without the distractions of the other businesses.  The inertia of such a conglomerate is the sum total of the inertia of the individual companies.
The poorly run conglomerate attempts to create “efficiencies” by collapsing common business services into a single entity while the individual companies try to remain independent.  Sadly, the benefit brought about by the cost savings is far less than the loss of productivity as layers of bureaucracy within the common services effort slow down even the most simple of business tasks.  The net result is that the “efficient” conglomerate resembles a handful of billiard balls held together by duct tape trying to roll down the sidewalk.

The lesson here is to realize that inertia is a result of efforts acting on the mass of the business to produce velocity.  It is a result of efforts by employees and customers to create forward motion within the business.  The small business can enjoy great levels of inertia from a handful of focused and motivated employees because its mass is small.  The large company requires similar efforts from its employees but the impact of any one person’s efforts are much harder to measure due to the difference in the mass of the business.

Regardless of whether you business is small, large or something in between, inertia is something every business owner needs to understand.  It is a law of the physical universe and it is a law of the business world and it impacts your business every day.

If you would like help understanding what is creating and what is hindering inertia in your company, please call me regarding available consulting services:  602-492-1088

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Science of Business – Made Easy! [Friction]

Friction is one of the more useful terms in business for which the origins are clearly in the field of science. Friction, by definition, is the rubbing together of 2 or more surfaces. That rubbing produces heat, wear and eventual failure of components. Friction is why cars have radiators and door hinges need oil. Friction is present in almost all mechanical processes and something to be mitigated as it cannot be eliminated.

In business, friction is equally ever-present.

In business, there are common phrases heard around the office such as “rubbing someone the wrong way” or “I am getting heat because I disagree with the plan.” Each of these phrases draws on the science behind friction. In these cases however, the rubbing is not physical but emotional. When 2 people disagree, their personalities and viewpoints clash and “rub” against one another because they are not going in the same direction. That rubbing produces friction and just as in the science world, the result is “heat”. Just as in science, the harder the rubbing action, the more heat that is produced.

When a manager announces a change of direction or policy, those who find themselves at odds with the change can be expected to produce friction as the direction they desire to go is not the direction of the business. Until such time as their agreement on the change is secured, it would be expected to hear “squeaking”, “groaning” and other audible indications of friction. This is just a simple rule of science.

Friction occurs in a great many other parts of the business world. In fact, whenever 2 or more people come together, there is always a possibility of friction. Sometimes the friction happens quickly and then dissipates such as a small misunderstanding and sometimes the friction can last a very long time with its continuous production of heat. You’ve heard of employees needing to “vent” their frustrations. Yes, that’s heat coming from some source of friction in the business.

Just as in the mechanical world, friction is the enemy of the production system. When the factory machines start to squeak, maintenance personnel need to be quick to locate the source of the noise and get things back to operating quietly. Left unattended, every shop foreman knows that a squeak is a warning sign of something much worse to come if left unattended. In the business world, this same rule applies.

If an employee starts to “squeak”, immediate attention is needed to uncover the true source of the squeak and return the employee to being a productive contributor. Left unattended, the squeaking can get louder, can start “sympathetic squeaks” elsewhere in the company and even lead to a breakdown in the production in the business. As in many machines, the squeak may be a bit hard to detect at first but like a good shop foreman, a good manager who has been around his employees for years can detect a squeak long before it is detectable to the average employee. Sometimes the only manifestation of friction is heat. If you have worked in an office for any length of time, you can tell when a cloud of friction has settled in versus when the business is firing on all cylinders. The key is to be sufficiently alert and observant to recognize the signs of friction.

Friction exists in the world of science and the world of business. No way to escape the fact that every business will experience friction at one time or another just as every machine needs a bit of maintenance now and again.

In the world of machines, friction is often overcome with various forms of oil. It may be grease, liquid oil or water but unless the parts creating the friction were never designed to meet – in which case you fix the broken parts - the solution is to add a lubricant. In cars engines, motor oil provides a thin layer of lubricating material so that parts that appear to be rubbing are not actually touching one another. Door hinges get a bit of grease to stop hinges that are making noise. In many cases, the oil also helps to keep the rubbing parts cooler.

In the business world, the “oil” comes in the form of communication. In fact, communication is the only solvent that addresses business friction. Communication removes the friction that comes from misunderstandings and confusions. Communication, like oil, may be needed in varying quantities depending upon the circumstances.

A brand new car motor needs 4-5 quarts of new oil and the oil needs changing more frequently in the early life of the motor. In a new business or when a major restructuring occurs in an existing business, there is a similar need for large quantities of “business oil” until the new motor is running smoothly. Call it a “break-in period” if you like. The fact is that any sort of dramatic change or continuous series of frequent changes in business direction needs to be accompanied but large quantities of communication if there is a desire to hold down the level of squeaking. Failure to do this produces disastrous results.

So how do you “change the oil” in your business? Periodic meetings with the employees. Regular messages from all the levels of management in the company. In organizations that recognize the importance of constant communication with the employees, they are consistently the smoothest running companies you will find. Squeaking is a rare event and easily addressed as there are few other noises to drown out even the smallest of squeaks.

The fact of the matter is that today, a great many companies are running so lean that the time needed to communicate to the company’s “engines” is often pushed down the list of priorities. The oil is left in an extra 5000 miles and the filter is not changed. Little squeaks develop and are ignored as there are tasks considered more important. Suddenly a major breakdown occurs and management has a terrible look of surprise on their faces. Shame on them. They have no reason to be surprised. They failed to maintain the company in good working order and it broke down. The problem and its solution are now more costly and will waste more time and energy than if the simple maintenance process of communicating with the employees had been left atop the priority list.

Communication is truly the lubricant that solves the friction that happens between people. In life inside and outside of the office, this fact holds true. The next time you start feeling heat in the office or start to hear a “squeak”, find the source and talk with them. Listen to what they have to say. Understand their viewpoint. You may not agree with the viewpoint but you must understand it. Do this and watch the squeak go away. Watch the heat disappear. Watch the working harmony return to the business.

If you would like help implementing a communication system designed to keep the wheels of commerce lubricated, please call me regarding available consulting services: 602-492-1088

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Do You Have the Skills?

All of us have a unique blend of talents, abilities, experiences and interests. It is those things that make each one of us unique. It is those differences that ought to be the cornerstone of every contact center but sadly are not.

Historically, call centers have operated on a nearly-binary evaluation of the agent population. The call center manager had a list of basic “skills” and perhaps a low, medium and high ranking system associated with each skill. Each agent was given a ranking for every one of the basic skills and the process of “skill mapping” was considered complete. Thus we had the basis for queuing calls; there were “electronic” buckets of calls for each category of transaction and each corresponding skill level.

As you can imagine, the idea that something as simple as low, medium and high working as a way to segment agents and customers was deemed useless some time ago. In fact, virtually every vendor selling software into the business world today in which the software is designed to assist in the servicing of customers has some form of rule system for segmenting both agents and customers. How well they work and how useful the rule engine is as compared to the basic 3-bucket system is a matter of opinion but one thing is very certain; without a comprehensive assessment of attributes for every service person who comes in contact with customers, any rule engine is crippled.

This may come as a shock to you but very few companies make the effort to really understand the unique characteristics of every employee. Sure there are efforts within the call center to assess the skills of agents according to a short list of criteria, but what happens to that list when new forms of interaction media are introduced. The call-oriented lists quickly lose their usefulness when non-voice interactions arrive on the scene to say nothing of the massive number of back-office staff for whom even less is known.

Any business looking to truly optimize a customer service function needs to have a system in place that allows for the ongoing assessment of each customer service resource. A system that provides a means for organizing the needed training to enhance the existing skills of the staff. A system that allows for a “career path” to be set in motion whereby the appropriate training modules are delivered, knowledge verified and results recorded. A system in which all of this can be accomplished with a minimum of user intervention.

Do such tools exist today? Absolutely.

Today, it is possible to not only know about all the unique characteristics of each customer service employee, but it is possible to automatically update the employee information to reflect each completed proficiency exam or each completed training course. If the interaction routing system uses this type of information to determine where to deliver a given interaction, the automated updating of the employee’s attributes means the delivery system is also updated – no human intervention necessary.

Imagine being able to include a complete staff training program as a part of a new product rollout and have that staff training program designed so as to have no impact on the current service delivery model. Imagine being able to quickly recognize who among the staff meets specific criteria to undertake supporting a new interaction media type. Imagine each employee having a customized career path that includes training modules and proficiency exams that assure them of new responsibilities and promotions yet without impacting their current work schedule. This is just some of the value an intelligent resource management application will deliver. Some of you would call it “skills management” and you would be correct. Sadly the term “skill” has many different meanings in the call center world so I have chosen to avoid that term and its inherent confusions.

Companies such as Silver Lining have developed tools that address the business challenge brought about by efforts to optimize the service delivery model yet are hindered by a lack of sufficient knowledge about the talents and knowledge of each customer service resource.

As in most business problems, the biggest hurdles are often tied to people. Skills Management software like that from Silver Lining can bring down that barrier so that the business can move forward towards its optimization targets.

If you would like help designing a skills management system into your Customer Service Delivery System, please call me regarding available consulting services: 602-492-1088.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Science of Business – Made Easy! [Gravity]

Gravity is all around us. It is part of everything we do every day. So what exactly is this thing called Gravity.

Let’s start with the definition. Gravity, according to the Collins Junior Dictionary, is “the force that makes things fall when you drop them.” Now that’s pretty simple. It doesn’t take being Isaac Newton to realize that apples will always be falling from trees.

So what does falling apples have to do with business? Glad you asked.

Think of your business as a very large apple. That apple is resting in your hand. Lift up that apple until your arm cannot go any higher. OK. What are you now doing to that apple?

I imagine everyone is thinking “holding up the apple”. You are correct but what are you actually doing to keep that apple up in the air? Would you believe you are actively pushing the apple upwards?
Yes, that’s right. The effort you are expending to hold the apple in the air, assuming the apple is motionless, is just enough effort to counter the force gravity is applying to the apple to make it fall to the ground. You are literally pushing the apple up continuously in order to keep it from falling.

Your business operates according to the “Laws of Gravity”. Regardless of whether your business is large or small, it is subject to the same laws of gravity as the apple.

In business, there are only 2 directions allowed: up and down. The apple is either lifted in an upward direction or it falls to the ground. Your business is either being “lifted” up by the efforts of the employees or it is “falling” to the ground. Nature does not allow for a business to operate at an equilibrium state for any length of time. In other words, you cannot have sales or production at a flat level for any length of time. In business, there are no exceptions.

So what does it mean to “lift” your business? Active engagement in the growth of the business “lifts” the business up and keeps it growing. Look at your sales figures. Are they going up or going down? How about your revenue numbers? In fact, if you look at all the various statistics used to measure the success of your business, there are only 2 directions you will see in anything but a shuttered company: up and down.

The more active the employees are at “lifting” the company, the higher the sales figures and more likely the company becomes successful. The importance of contributions from every employee are not to be overlooked. All of us have probably known of employees who loafed about on the job and really did not put forth a great deal of effort in doing the best job they could. These types of employees effectively add to the overall weight that the balance of the employees must overcome in order to keep the company going up. Get too many employees riding on the shoulders of others and soon the “shouldered” employees start to get dropped; figuratively and literally. When a business suffers drops in its sales numbers over a sufficiently long period, staff reductions are inevitable. Thus, the dropping of employees comes to pass in the form of layoffs; there are not enough “lifters” to compensate for the loafers.

As a business owner, if you drop a lifter from the company, you have made the problem worse. It is vital that every business recognize who are the lifters and who are not. Who are the really heavy lifters and who are the lightweight lifters? Should it become necessary to reduce the number of employees, it is critical to the business to start with the loafers, then the lightweight lifters and then the heavy lifters. Look at the statistics for each employee to determine where each employee fits on the scale of “lifters”.

So what in the business world constitutes gravity? What is it that all the lifters are lifting against?

In simple terms, competition and noise.

Every business has competitors. These competitors are actively seeking customers just like your business. How much effort you must expend in order to counteract their sales efforts depends upon the overall market size and your company’s size relative to your competitors. The more competition you face, the more gravity is present working against your lifting efforts. If the overall market is large and you face a lot of similarly-sized competitors, your lifting efforts will not need to be as large as that of a small business competing against very large competitors. The key is to recognize what market you can successfully play in given your lifting power and the gravity imposed by your competition.

Look at what happens when a Wal-Mart, Home Depot or Barnes & Nobel moves into town? These behemoths can present formidable competition yet the nimble businesses in town - recognizing the “gravity” they present - looks for ways to shrink the target market to a size where their lifting capacity is greater than that of their competition. Specialty retailers are often unfazed by the introduction of a “big box” retailer. The really clever retailer takes advantage of the situation and promotes his unique products as “special” and “personalized”. In other words, the smart business reduces the size of the target market they are trying to “lift” to something of a size that allows their current lifters to continue to overcome competitive gravity.

Along with competition, the other component of gravity is noise.

Noise is the cumulative distractions that all of us encounter in our daily lives. The deluge of advertising, radios, televisions, ringing phones and the general status of the economy all contribute to the overall noise level through which a company’s messages must emerge. How does the right message get to the right person at the right time in order to bring about a realization that whatever you are selling is something needed? If your prospect is looking for a solution, the task is easier. If the problem you are trying to solve is not yet known, the task is much harder.

It used to be that what are considered noises today were once considered sources of valuable information. TV ads were informative. Now we TiVo our way through them. Radio shows were sponsored by a single vendor whom everyone knew. Now we have subscription radio so we can avoid the ads. Newspapers were the primary source of news about the world around us and now the Internet allows for easy access to more news than any of us are prepared to digest.

So how do you combat the noise factor. Networks. Social networks, referral networks and business networks. When ads are generally distrusted, consumers turn to friends and colleagues for insights. They look to someone they trust to give them guidance. The Internet provides instant access to thousands of viewpoints about almost everything that is for sale. Consumer Reports has been replaced by social network sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and YouTube. Clever usage of these tools can result in customers becoming advocates and helping in the lifting efforts. Does that mean traditional advertising does not work? No. It means that you need to be asking your customers how they found out about you (survey) and track any changes in behavior. You may be surprised to find out that a great many of your customers included on-line research in their buying decision process. If you are not building your “network”, you may be missing a lot of opportunities to secure customers.

Thus we have the 2 sides in the battle for business success; the lifters and gravity. The simple fact is that as long as the capacity of the lifters is greater than the forces combining to create gravity, the business will be successful. Allow gravity to get the better of your company and without immediate action, the business will fold under the weight.

Do you know who are the lifters in your company?

As always, if you would like help implementing these ideas in your business, please call me regarding available consulting services: 602-492-1088