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customer experience

Strativity Group Inc. Honored with New Jersey SmartCEO’s Corporate Culture Award - Lior Arussy

By cmiadmin | Aug 29, 2016 | Comments Off

Strativity Group Inc. is the undisputed leader in customer experience design and transformation

Hackensack, NJ (Aug. 29, 2016) — Strativity Group, Inc. was honored by New Jersey SmartCEO as one of the 2016 Corporate Culture Award winners. The Corporate Culture Awards celebrate 50 companies in New Jersey that have successfully championed a positive, productive and performance-driven culture, and have worked with their employees to develop successful cultural practices. Winners will be profiled in the November/December issue of SmartCEO magazine and celebrated at an awards ceremony on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016 at the Starland Ballroom.

“In the past few weeks we have been honored with a number of awards, recognizing our growth and undisputed leadership in customer experience consulting,” said Strativity President, Lior Arussy. “what makes this SmartCEO Corporate Culture Award so special is that we have maintained a fun, vibrant, exciting culture for our employees during a time of unparalleled growth.”

“The 2016 Corporate Culture Award winners have realized that running a company is more than head count and the bottom line. It’s about creating a place where creativity, energy and ideas are cultivated. Through this they are able to not only enhance performance and sustain their companies’ competitive advantages but also enrich the lives of those they employ and inspire them to make a greater impact on the world,” says Jaime Nespor-Zawmon, President of SmartCEO. “We’re honored to celebrate with the leaders of New Jersey’s top company cultures and recognize them for building true performance-driven cultures.”

About the Corporate Culture Awards 

The Corporate Culture Awards program honors companies that foster a creative, collaborative workplace culture to enhance performance and sustain a competitive advantage. Smart leaders understand that culture is a company’s greatest asset, driving performance and growth. What’s more, a successful culture is actively and intentionally cultivated and developed. Corporate Culture Awards winners will have championed for a positive, productive culture in their organization, and will have worked with employees to develop successful cultural practices. The final roster of winners will be chosen by an independent committee of local business leaders, profiled in SmartCEO magazine, and celebrated at a high-energy awards event. About SmartCEO SmartCEO’s mission is to educate and inspire the business community through its award-winning magazine, connections at C-level events and access to valuable online resources. SmartCEO’s integrated media platforms reach decision makers in the Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Long Island, New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, DC, metropolitan areas.

Strativity Group – Passion, Expertise and Execution

The people at Strativity are united by passion and guided by a proprietary integrated methodology to unleash exceptional performance with employees and customers. With experience at leading organizations such as Bain, Deloitte, EY, Ipsos, Bulgari and HP, Strativity brings world-class experience combined with a focus on measurable results.

We measure success by a single word: Execution. 

Strativity has had the privilege of working with exceptional brands such as Mercedes-Benz, MasterCard, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Walmart, New York Times, FedEx, Clinton Foundation, American Management Association, Mazda, SAP, Wyeth, Honeywell and Johnson & Johnson. With over 175 completed projects in 21 countries impacting over 400 million customers and 700,000 employees, Strativity is ready to face your challenge.

Learn more about Lior!

The Purpose-Driven Customer Experience - Lior Arussy

By cmiadmin | Aug 02, 2016 | Comments Off

The Purpose-Driven Customer Experience - Lior Arussy

The days of simple processes and quality products are gone. Welcome to the new age of customer experience.

Let's talk about eggs. If we go to Albertsons or ShopRite and purchase a dozen eggs, the price will be $2.59. If we opt for cage free eggs at Whole Foods, we are looking at a price tag of $4.99 or more. This is nearly a 100 percent increase in the price of eggs. By my own calculation, both eggs will deliver the same amount of cholesterol to my body, and the omelet I will make of them will most likely taste the same. So why is it that rational people opt to pay 100 percent more for what is seemingly the same commoditized product? Read full article here. 


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Women Helping Women: 7 Lessons from Ladies at the Top

By cmiadmin | Mar 29, 2016 | Comments Off

Women Helping Women: 7 Lessons from Ladies at the Top - Includes Michelle Ray

by Helen Drinan at HuffPost

Almost any college president will tell you that there are certain events that are their favorites. Among my most cherished activities are soaking in the excitement and possibility of the first day of class; the mix of emotion and pride during commencements; and a special gathering that my university has hosted for the past 37 years known as the Simmons Leadership Conference.

The conference is considered the preeminent gathering for women’s leadership in the country. Every year, more than 3,300 business women (and some men!) come for a day of renewal, skill building, and sheer inspiration. Over the years our dazzling speaker line-up has included Oprah Winfrey, Madeleine Albright, Meg Whitman, Hillary Clinton, Sally Field, Viola Davis, the late Benazir Bhutto, and Billie Jean King.

Since not everyone can attend the conference, I wanted to share with you some wisdom from this year’s speakers. Enjoy!

#1: Be Daring.

Ping Fu
Vice president and chief entrepreneur officer at 3D Systems

On her most “daring” career move:
Ping Fu: I quit a stable job and started a company when I had a baby girl. This move completely changed the trajectory of my career, my attitude towards my life journey, and my understanding of responsibilities.

What did you learn from that experience?

Ping Fu: The entrepreneurial experience has taught me a few lessons:

  • It is all about love. Love what you do and love the people you serve. It is love that carries the tough days
  • When in doubt, always err on the side of generosity
  • Leadership is a being, not a position. Know who you are
  • Practice trusting and tracking; not commanding and controlling

#2: Your Voice is Powerful - Use It!

Carla Harris
Vice chairman of Global Wealth Management and senior client advisor at Morgan Stanley.

On the female leader she most admires:
Carla Harris: Shirley Chisholm and Barbara Jordan. Both were unafraid to use their voices and extraordinary oratorical skills to get people to listen and to thereby provoke change with their arguments, delivery and compelling logic. They understood that there is power in your voice and that it should never be submerged, for when you submerge your voice, you submerge and lose your power.

#3: Focus on Your Strengths - Be Confident.

Beth Phalen
Senior vice president at EMC Corporation, leads Data Protection & Availability Solutions within the Core Technology Division.

On the best piece of career advice she’s received:
Beth Phalen: The best advice was a while ago, and was basically, “stop putting yourself down.” The message was: “Your strengths speak for themselves. Don’t limit your positive impact by discrediting yourself or minimizing your point of view.” It helped me realize that I can make a contribution and I’m really not helping anyone by not projecting confidence.

#4: Just Do It.

Precillia Redmond
Vice president and manager of organizational effectiveness and strategic project management services at Liberty Mutual Insurance Group

Her tips for work/life integration:
Precillia Redmond: As someone said to me years ago when I complained that I felt guilty all the time - guilty for not spending enough time with my kids, husband, family, work: “Allow yourself to feel the feeling, but do what you need to do anyway.”

#5: Men Play a Role.

Edie Weiner
President and CEO of The Future Hunters

On the major issue or current event women should focus on to effect change:

Edie Weiner: Finding solutions for all of the unemployed, underemployed, and disillusioned young men here in the U.S. and abroad. Nothing destroys the fabric of homes, communities, lives, and the economy as much as disaffected young men with nowhere to develop their talents, interests, economic independence, and civil responsibility. This is a women’s issue! Women, even with the obstacles they encounter, can be strong and supportive. But young men, challenged by war, displacement, poor economic prospects, and biased justice systems pose a significant challenge to their mothers, wives, girlfriends, and children. They are attracted to fiery idealism and quick payoffs. Crime, violence, drug addiction, and terrorism increase, and communities are torn apart. We will have unprecedented refugee problems everywhere, fueled by climate change, wars, and economic collapses. Anthropologists have long known that as go the young males, so goes the civilization. We have to find productive ways to engage our youth, and provide promising paths for their futures

#6. Look to History: Women Role Models Abound.

Michelle Ray
CEO and founder of the Lead Yourself First Institute in Vancouver, Canada.

On the female leader she most admires, and how she has driven change:
Michelle Ray: Golda Meir, who was elected Prime Minister of Israel in 1969 - the first woman to achieve this position anywhere in the world. It wasn’t because she was a woman., but rather, due to the fact that she was a leader. She forged change by supporting diplomatic solutions to finding peace in the Middle East and unrestricted Jewish immigration. She aligned herself and Israel with individuals and countries once considered unlikely “friends” of the Jewish state, thus gaining tremendous respect as a leader. She was ahead of her time. She was confident, charismatic and highly principled.

#7. For Goodness Sake - Help Other Women!

Maggie Ruvoldt
Executive vice and general manager at 2U, Inc., an education technology company that partners with nonprofit colleges and universities to deliver online degree programs

On the major issue or current event women should focus on to effect change:

Maggie Ruvoldt: Opening up the inner networks for other women. When you break into the smaller, unofficial network, don’t close the door behind you.

This blog post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and Simmons College, in conjunction with the 37th annual Simmons Leadership Conference - the premier women’s leadership conference in the country - held March 29 in Boston. For more information about the conference, visit here. To follow the conference live, follow #SLC16 on March 29.


See More About Michelle Ray Here 

Ultra Distance Paddling and Project Athena with Robyn Benincasa

By cmiadmin | Mar 09, 2016 | Comments Off

Adventure Sports Podcast

Ep. 142: Ultra Distance Paddling and Project Athena with Robyn Benincasa



Episode Info

Robyn inspires us again with more great stories about multi-hundred mile paddling races as well as helping others to come from huge life challenges to amazing success as overcomers through Project Athena.  Need a dose of kick it and go?  Don't miss this show.


See More About Robyn Here 

Innovation Takes Confidence | Vinh Giang

By cmiadmin | Jan 29, 2016 | Comments Off

Innovation Takes Confidence | Vinh GiangVinh Giang Confidence Post



See More From Vinh Here

NEW Video by Michelle Ray on Leadership & Change!

By cmiadmin | Jan 22, 2016 | Comments Off

Michelle Ray Email Post

NEW Video by Michelle Ray on Leadership & Change!

A former media exec, Michelle Ray brings new strategies to manage change and shake up your organization in the war for talent.

One of her clients wrote: "Not only was I personally moved to action by your presentation, I was really pleased by all the positive feedback that I received from the attendees." Prudential Sussex Realty

Bring Michelle to your next event and watch your attendees thrive!


Michelle Email book cover

Podcast By Mike Walsh on Tim Sanders New Book

By cmiadmin | Jan 13, 2016 | Comments Off

Mike & Tim Between Worlds Transcript

Tim Sanders on Dealstorming, emotional talent, and the sales driven company of the future

Listen to the Podcast for Free Here or Read the Full Transcript below.

Tim and Mike Podcast

Between worlds the show the takes you over the horizon and beyond borders to bring you the global thinkers innovators and troublemakers his ideas challenge the world as we know.

Mike: I’m here today with Tim Sanders, we’re here in Las Verga of all places. But this is where you live right Tim?

Tim: This is where I lay

Mike: Fortunately not on the strip, You’ve carved out a quiet, tranquil spot in this crazy city.

Tim: We are the westside, we love it, its a great city, one of the best cities to live in in NA

Mike: You know Tim I’ve been a big fan of your books and your ideas for some time. What was amazing when we started talking was that you've really been on the cusp of so many of these revolutions for some time going all the way back to cell phones.

Tim: I’m like the Forest Gump of technology. You show me an inflection point of history and its like I’m there with big shoes. I’ve been fortunate to be on the ground floor of the quality moment when it came to the united states in the 1980s, the launch of cellular phone, the birth of the internet with audio and video streaming, so it’s been very exciting.

Mike: and if nothing else you were the sales guy for Mark Cuban

Tim: There you go! Exactly

Mike: So how did you make that transition from the corporate sector into becoming essentially a thought leader around sales and relationships?

Tim: I didn’t choose it, it choose me, and I tell that to people all the time. I was working at broadcast.com when a literary agent approached me and said that she thought I had a perspective that was worth writing a book around, and we incubated that idea for a few years. At the same time parallel to all of that Mark Cuban IPO’s this broadcast.com and it’s the biggest IPO in history, and then he sells the company to Yahoo for whatever amount of dollars and I transfer to California and within two years become the company’s chief solutions officer,  so this happens at the same time. So I publish a book while i’m a standing executive at Yahoo, we take some time off work to do a little national book tour and it makes the lists 11 months later and I go to work one day and they’ve run a cover story on fast company about my book and I’m holding a heart and the whole thing. I go to work, no joke, there’s 20 voice mail messages on my machine from talent agents and bureau leaders saying we’ve got this client HP and they want you to come to France and give this talk at their international customer summit and thats how it started! I went to my boss at the time and I had a list of all these speaking offers and I said, ‘What do I do?’ and they said well just take vacation days and be a brand ambassador and  I started, that’s where it all began.

Mike: I sometimes think I feel sorry for the people that weren’t around for the first internet ___, because they think Uber, and AirBnB are big but back in the late 1990’s early 2000’s it was insanity!

Tim: They were breaking new ground, it was like morse laws time a thousand. From a business development standpoint the value that was being created from 1994 to say March of 2000, we’ve never seen that again. Forget social media, bitcoin, whatever you want to speak to, we’ve never seen that much value created in such a short period of time in history.

Mike: Your new book that’s coming out, it’s going to be about re-imagining the sales process, but it’s more than that isn’t it?

Tim: It is. It’s my 5th book, it’s titled Dealstorming: the secret weapon that will solve your toughest sales challenge. The premise of the book is that in business to business sales, a quality sale is really difficult. The rise of multiple decision makers procurement groups in buying committees is astounding.

Mike: It’s like a labyrinth for anyone to navigate.

Tim: The analogy I use is that when I started out in sales in the nineteen seventies I sold radio ads in  Portales, New Mexico. I had a clip on tie and a short sleeved white shirt, I went door to door and I pitched mostly mom and pop businesses on buying radio and our little FM station.

Mike: This wasn’t a product that sold itself was it?

Tim: Direct sale, handshake deal is was the easiest sell in the world. The analogy I use is it’s like playing the video game of the time palm. Very simple hand eye coordination right? But today, with multiple decision makers layers and layers of complexity on the products and services we sell and cloud based competitors. It's like playing halo these days. The game of sales has become increasingly complex. And the premise of Dealstorming is that, A quality sale is a thousand problems solved and the only competitive advantage left is rapid problem solving. Whether it's our problems or the customers dysfunction that we have to solve to get from the contact to the contract.

Mike: And this is not just looking for the right angle to sell somebody is it you're actually constructing the value on the fly.

Tim: You know what you're doing is you're creating a team. And the analogy I use is that we need to create webs not silos. So when I think about teams I've done a lot of research on successful collaboration, creative innovation projects. You have to invite everyone who has a stake in the outcome, or expertise about the problem. You have to think beyond the borders of the normal organizational structure. So in the world of sales, I've interviewed so many leaders that say we’re very teamwork oriented, and I say help me understand the value chain of your team and they basically described this very tall line oriented team. They're not doing team work they're doing line work. This is no different from making a car in Henry Ford's factory, it’s line work a person passes it to the next person. Teamwork is when everybody's involved with a shared vision and willing to look out for the person next to them and sacrifice themselves if they have to. True teamwork we've learned, involves people from finance and operations and engineering and marketing and there's an alignment in the most successful selling organizations in the world that's cross departmental. Where this shared vision, usually beating the competition, gets everyone in the room to  share what they actually know. Because the secret to collaboration is for everyone in the room to share what they know and express what they think will work in a given situation.

Mike: You need more than executive platitudes like this happen though, I mean what is the optimal environment you need to have for this to kind of take root?

Tim: So in my mind, an opportunity for collaboration starts around the sales challenge. It could be winning a big account it could be about breaking into a new market that could change the future of the company I  write a lot about that or it could be about saving your biggest relationship. And I believe it starts with that account executive and her manager

Mike: That’s the catalyst

Tim: That’s the catalyst, that account executive has to figure out how to translate everything to get everyone in the room, those that are not in sales, to make the transition from me to we so there's a shared vision in the room. The account executive has to protect the misfits and the introverts, they have to drive people to making decisions and achieving consensus. The most important thing I learned from the research is, to quote Louis Pasteur “chance favors the prepared mind”. Brainstorming doesn't work because we throw people into a room, fully unprepared and we spend too much time briefing them and not enough time letting them express their ideas and that vetting their assumptions. The secret I learned in the research for this book, a hundred case studies, is that a deal brief that's given to everyone that's going to come to a meeting three days before, hopefully over a weekend, is the secret to success. When you put together the problem, the influence map, the history of the opportunity, and the strength weakness opportunity threat of the target, and you put that into a three to four page brief. You give it to a wide diverse group of thinkers and you bring them into the room they are bursting with vetted ideas and you can enter the debate cycle within fifteen minutes. That's where you really hatch constructive plans.

Mike: Is this something that really has to be done in a room with a white board and a pot of coffee or can you use enterprise social networks rather tools to scale this up beyond just the physical environment?

Tim: Very good question! So the answer is it depends on the organization and its culture. In certain situations the umbrella of grace that is extended that causes everyone to reveal the not so common information that really leads to creative solutions has to happen in the room. Because, what you have to do is dissolve those boundaries or as one author that I researched writes - Leigh Thompson in Creative Conspiracy - you gotta solve those fault lines. So sometimes you have to do that face to face because they're such a high telepresence of communication can happen more face to face. However, that being said I've seen a lot of shared environments that were purely digital. The analogy I would use for those organizations, say Google and advertising sales or Linkedin and HR solutions, it’s called the accordion. So think of the accordion as like the account executive and the small team of cross departmental players get together and they identify and agree on the problem and they pontificate on potential next steps and then they go out and have all their separate meetings with their tribes their stakeholders. To figure out what they can do what they can get commitment to and that's a bigger set of meetings and then they collapse back into that small Dealstorming meeting again to talk about what's happened. The executive kinda keeps that going so according goes in and out and out over time and what kind of pulls them along is the shared document features. Whether its salesforce or Google drive, whatever it is, so that shared work space is critical to that accordion keeping the group together through multiple iterations and little tribe holder meetings etcetera.

Mike: It seems that these companies that are successful that build a culture that is collaborative to solve problems really depends on the strength of the networks that they have internally.

Tim: That is absolutely true Mike, it is. There was a study in 2014 by Miller Heiman Institute that does a lot of research on sales performance. And they identified this type of company they call world class organization. World class organizations sell twenty percent more than their competitors and has better reputation for deliveries, the place you want to be in any business right? They said that they looked at everything attribute wise that they could all share in common to find the one that could be modelled and they said the only thing they could find in common with all these world class organizations is the habit of conscious collaboration across departments in pursuit of large deals. Because the large deals are the war stories around the campfire that create that corporate culture.

Mike: They become a shared experience.

Tim: They become a share experience exactly. The stories, the heroes, the multi-million dollar deal that saved the company. So what happens is that the world class organization uses a sales challenge as platform, a burning platform, if you will to create underground tunnels between silos that can't be solved. The worldclass organization would believe that you can't solve silos as long as you have budgets and limited resources. They will always be built to harden the world from the outside that that department wrote. But when you create these collaboration projects up against a sales challenge, you create these tunnels, these high level communication experiences between groups that allow them to function very well despite the fact that they live in silos. It changes the culture of the company.

Mike: It’s like a neural link almost like a kind of form of muscle memory.

Tim: It is and the reason why is because, getting back to one of my earlier points, this account executive is really good at using the right lever to create a shared vision. The shared vision is not the revenue believe it or not you know engineering and operations and everybody outside of finance and sales they don't care about the money that much right! In the world we live in the stock market you don't even know that money leads to stock performance. But I hate our rival. That organization where the pain of losing is greater than the joy of winning and that works every single time and so the act of bringing a team together to solve a sales challenge to kick a rivals ass…

Mike: It’s tribal right?!

Tim: Yes, exactly. What it does culturally, is it puts competition on the outside. So that's part of that culture building process, so what I loved about the Miller research and I write about it in the new book is, it redefines what it means to be a sales driven organization. Right we also thought a sales driven organizations was an organization where sales had to bring the business in or the lights don't stay on but that’s not it at all. Sales through its collaboration through its boundary busting problem solving mentality creates a truly innovative organization. Right because creativity, which I spent a lot of time researching, creativity is one's ability to produce surprising yet truly appropriate solutions to the situation. That comes from culture, and that culture comes from shared experiences. And besides, save the company product or marketing which is very rare, these sales challenges present the platform for organizations to reinvent themselves.

Mike: What I think is intriguing about this, is that companies often think about these things in isolation. Almost like in a vacuum, they say to themselves we want to be more innovative, we want to be more collaborative, we want to be more creative. But they kind of tell people to host spend part of their day doing that it, there is no focus around that.

Tim: Right, there’s a process. I mean there are two common ideas that came out of all my research. I interviewed two hundred different executives across all the different verticals and and not just salespeople, CEO, CMO, Chief Product Officers and there’s two ideas. Idea number one, without a process you get a mess. You don't prescribe collaboration, you adopt a structure for it, you create escalation points, and you create a process around it to structure it so that the time is spent wisely, execution is based on a test and scale basis. So when you have that process, the thing works great, you don't the process you have the “goat rodeo” I call brainstorming. Second key idea I got out of all my interviews, is that the winning culture has the following mantra. Ideas can come from anywhere. When leadership adopts this mantra, ideas can come from anywhere, you shatter one of the most important myths we need to shatter about creativity and that's the myth of the expert. You and I know there's no such thing as experts, they're just experienced people that have opinions.

Mike: But we also kind of buy into that heroic archetype of  kind of the lone genius on the mountain top.

Tim: Another myth of creativity right? Thomas Edison stood for twelve people right? There is no lone genius, Whitney didn't invent the cotton gin.

Mike: Why do we lust after that?

Tim: I interviewed a creativity expert, David Birkus, who wrote a wonderful book called the “Myths of Creativity”, and he said that it goes all the way back to mythology right? It's like, it's a romantic notion like the hero's journey. So we're very resistant when people like me or him or the other creativity experts, when they come out and say there is no lone inventor, it's all collaboration, it's all people building and other people's ideas. Or as Ed Kappel from Pixar says ‘most ideas are like really ugly babies’, you know that are brought to like and kind of made pretty you know by a town or a committee. But Birkus told me, he said we fight for this, we fight for the idea that Steve Jobs invented everything, it was Steve when you know it wasn't. It’s Jony Ive in the studio and it cascades down, you got Tony Fadell in there, I mean you know you know it's a huge team but we have that romantic notion, we fight for it, that’s the problem with myths of creativity. If we believe there's one big idea that saves the company, if we believe there's one lone genius that saves the company, we never collaborate, that's the risk. When we break these myths down we realize no, I've got to build a web around me that’s democratic. I’ve got to extend the umbrella, i’ve got implement a meritocracy for these meetings were ideas can come from anywhere. That that's the only way that any company truly solves any problem.

Mike: One of the other big problems other companies are trying to get their minds around beyond obviously creasing sales is experiences. And you know, in my work, I see this as particularly important because when thinking about digital transformation in the context of how it improves the customer experience for a new generation of customers. You’ve done a lot of thinking and work around emotional talent, how does that tap into this idea of experience.

Tim: So let's tie into why emotional talent is so important. Donald Broadbent, he was a UK professor in the fifties, he penned a theory that he spent a lot of time researching, it’s called  Broadbent's filter. Right they always name the concept after themselves. He believed that the human brain would develop these filters that would keep information from penetrating and demanding attention and that the more demands on our attention that are made, the denser the filter becomes and that there would be a point where the human being is accosted twenty times a day with a request for our attention, he predicted it’ll be somewhere in the sixties or seventies. Of course, now it's five hundred times a day and it's escalating, so the filter is so dense it’s a miracle anything gets through. But Broadbent suggested there was velvet rope and when he wrote this it inspired a young man named Daniel Goleman. Broadbent explained this emigdula, this emotional seat of the brain that was thirty-five times more powerful than the logical brain. That is the hijack, it is the velvet rope, it is the secret, like before the book the secret came out, to being successful with human beings. So to cut to the chase, when you take a look at companies that have figured out customer experience design, whether it’s virgin airlines, whether it's Ritz Carlton, whether it’s Starbucks. What they've done is they've taken a design  viewpoint about how the customers journey works from an emotional experience that went beyond that Microsoft functionality and they entered the apple surprise and delight world. So I’ve done a lot of work that basically says, leaders need to think like designers, especially when it comes to their employees emotional experience, which drives either their cortisol or DHEA production. This leads to their problem solving ability, which leads to their ability to get along with each other, which leads to engagement, and entrepreneurship, and all those things we push for. We've got to design an emotional experience that’s so positive that when the employee comes to work everyday somehow there is a song in their heart and not a pit in their stomach. In the last two years, I’ve also developed a body of research that suggests this is infinitely even more important in terms of how companies treat their supply partners and vendors. If you think like a designer and you say ‘I am the best client, I am tough but fair, but I am the best client from an emotional standpoint,’ you get the A-team, and your service levels are dramatically higher. The research I've seen says it's three hundred percent more determinative of performance of your service providers then your ability to negotiate strong contracts with them. So it’s thinking like a designer, design being defined as the constant act of problem solving.

Mike: And what kind of resolution do they have to do this? I mean, CEOs can sort of understand they can go out on a weekend retreat and come up with a bold purpose for the business. But how do you sort of go down to the to the level of day to day managing the emotional levels?

Tim: It’s a brilliant question. So getting back to customer experience I’ll use an example, so Sharp Healthcare systems in San Diego read a book, the same book I read, “Turn of the century; the experience economy” by Pine and Gilmore, talked about the idea that in the future people buy experiences, the don’t buy services. So Sharp decides they're going to do this, so the CEO comes in and decides ‘hey we want to compete on having the best experience” and he  challenges every discipline in the hospital system to segment the experience, because the patient doesn't have one experience, they have a bunch of little transactions along a designed plot-line from discovery to billing that leads to an overall impression. So whether it was the emergency room, or whether it was oncology or whether it was prenatal, they all had their little collaborative exercises to redesign their experience and the winning group which was based on the KPI have net promoter score. The winning group was pavilion where they do colonoscopy. These guys sat down as a group democratically and they asked everybody ‘what are all the experiences the patient has around a colonoscopy?” Well you can imagine it's a pretty bad experience from preparation to conclusion it sucks! They realize in this experiment/discussion the two things they couldn't change was the flee enigma or the actual invasive procedure, they can’t do anything about those. But they changed everything else.

Mike: So they give you a hug afterwards?

Tim: Get this - so the night before your colonoscopy you receive a video they produced, and it's kind of humorous, but it's kind of serious and it kind of helps. They call it an orientation video, because it helps you learn surprises, as the more you know about what's going to happen when you go in the less bad it is right? So the video kind of sets your expectations. You’re given a wake up call the next day by cheerful nice person at your home. When you show up at Sharp Healthcare they link the picture in the health insurance records to your appointment so that they recognize you before you even identify yourself just like Starbucks does. Brilliant hack by the way, Starbucks doesn’t give you a number they ask you your name, Shapr does the same, they say ‘Mike it's nice to see you’ when you walk into the pavilion. They redesigned the walkways because men don't like to see other men in their robes so there's no eye contact between patients, they also redesigned their robes around the San Diego Chargers, the local football team, as they got rid of the hole in the back of the robe it’s Velcro at the side. When you come out of the procedure your served orange juice on stemware. The doctor is trained in empathy so when he calls you with the results, if their bad he's very sensitive, if they're positive he's almost jolly, and it's almost like a Southwest Airlines flight where they kind of joke around when you land. But by taking that colonoscopy experience and breaking it down into every little transaction they did the two things that a designer always does, they get rid of the pain points and they find those signature moments that can be staged and I think that's the secret. It’s also something I'm super interested in. So great leaders today have a design viewpoint and they understand how to read the emotions of their people correctly and they know how to design for a consistently positive emotional experience, not just for the customer, but for the employees and the vendors they depend on.

Mike: Which companies have you seen that have taken that logic and applied it to the employee vendor or supplier experience?

Tim: Sas Institute, it is considered one of the best companies to work for in the world, no doubt. Fortune has a list they come out with every year and Sas Institute has been top ten for twenty years. So, they get it! They get it so much that Google went there to Cary, North Carolina in 2000 and they stayed there for a month just bugging the founder Jim Goodnight, a statistician, bugging him about how we did everything at Sas because he figured it out. He was the first corporate campus, he was the guy they got rid of cyclic time - at Sas they don't have sick days. You just come in if you feel healthy, if your kid sick don't go to work, if you can’t do your job they replace you. They bring in fresh flowers every Wednesday, there is onsite food, they've had on site health care for you and your family from the 31st day since 1989.

Mike: Do they do this globally? Because I know there's a trend with a lot of these tech companies kind of utopian campuses in the United States but if you work for them anywhere else…?

Tim: Well, Cary, North Carolina is a utopian campus, but when they have expanded out, I have had the opportunity to speak for them in other countries such as Brazil, they have replicated that campus idea. They want to create that solution, that sticky point that's family oriented and by the way, they are the first that adopted the strict 38 hour work week with no evening and weekend email, he was the first guy! The French got the idea from him. Goodnight realized that if you could tell an engineer you don't have to check your email evenings or weekends, and he realized this a decade ago, that it would create a huge advantage for the next generation that wasn’t as workaholic as their boomer parents. Sas institute has great design for employee experience.

Costco, great design for vender, or what they call partner, experience. Jim Sinegal and his team take just as much time and attention around the Kirkland brand supplier chain that allows him to produce such an outstanding quality product at a fraction of the price of most of the leading brand. He realized that their ability to produce strong store brands and have really good suppler relations came down to their ability to be their retailer of choice. He was smart because think about his competition like Walmart, who has a reputation for being the crap out of their suppliers to push the price down, he saw an opportunity to think like a designer and if you shop Costco versus a Sam's club or Walmart it's not even close.

Mike: We're at a time now where 21st organizations are going to be under attack from A I algorithms, automation, and more computers. Do you think this is going to present a challenge to the design of these kind of human experiences inside organizations?

Tim: I was thinking about that today, and I think so. I read something about Robert Scoble -  Scoble wrote a famous blog called the Scobleizer, he’s chief technology evangelist now at Rackspace. But yesterday, he was talking about how excited he was to see all these independent bookstores dying, he thinks this is a really good thing for society and the way it should be. And what he what is that if you want to be a successful technology leg company in the future as a consumer services company you have to reward the lazy and stop rewarding the innovators because that's what ruins business. He says you know the only people that ever got any value out of going to independent bookstore from like 2000 - 2015 were the innovators that figured out how to hack the store and get something out of the whole hassle of driving there and parking and buying real physical books and having to carry them around and monkey with them, when the rest of the lazy world that carries a kindle around just does it on two clicks. He says business has to change their philosophy to reward the lazy if they want to stay on the cutting edge of innovation.That really hit me today and I said, ‘yeah that's where things are going, that’s where we are now with machine learning, AI, and everything converging. We have to realize that the lazy will rule the future of consumer services.

Mike: Tim it's been a great pleasure hanging out as always.

Tim: Absolute pleasure, drive safe.

Mike: Cheers.

Delivering Customer Experience Excellence with Passion

By cmiadmin | Jul 21, 2015 | Comments Off

Speaking.com Interview with Lior Arussy

The recipient of CRM Magazine’s “Influential Leader Award”, Lior Arussy is known as a man who gets results in the fields of customer experience and customer-centric transformation. His knowledge of how to help organizations stop focusing on the product and focus on the customer comes from his experience working with some of the most prestigious brands in the world, among them Capital One, Thomson Reuters, HSBC, E.ON, Nokia, SAP, University of Pennsylvania and Wyeth.

Passion and purpose will become differentiators of products and services; only vendors who are willing to rise up to that challenge will be able to command premium prices and customer loyalty.

SPEAKING.COM: What are some of the customer experience trends you see emerging within the next ten years?

ARUSSY: Customers are going to play a more integral role in the overall experience they receive and will no longer be passive in the experience that’s being delivered to them. Passion and purpose will become differentiators of products and services; only vendors who are willing to rise up to that challenge will be able to command premium prices and customer loyalty. Employee engagement and loyalty will become a critical factors for organizations looking to foster sustainable success.

SPEAKING.COM: How do you suggest people embrace customer-centric transformation?

ARUSSY: Here is the advice I would give:

      • Be honest with yourself about the true nature of your customer relationships.
      • Understand the financial impact of not embracing customer centric transformation.
      • Humanize your organization.
      • Empower your employees to delight.
      • Measure what matters.
              • Train your people to know how to delight. Don’t assume that they know already.

SPEAKING.COM: Can you give us three tips for improving customer service?

ARUSSY: First, start every day by calling a customer and saying thank you for the business. Second, surprise your customers with small acts of generosity, and third, ask your customers, “What else can I do for you?”

SPEAKING.COM:How can organizations foster customer experience innovation?

ARUSSY: An organization can foster customer experience innovation when they:

      • Create an environment in which everyone understands the customer on a human and emotional level.
      • Walk in the shoes of the customer and identify their pain points.
      • Foster an environment in which mistakes are acceptable so employees can experiment.
      • Celebrate the heroes who are trying new ways to delight customers.
              • Let go of all the cynics.

SPEAKING.COM: Are there any clients you have worked with that exemplify customer experience transformation? If so, how did they do it?

ARUSSY: All of our clients have achieved success in different ways. We have been a part of 160 transformations to date. The approach we are taking is a disciplined integrated approach that accelerates the transformation by combining data-driven research, innovating experimentation, employee engagement and training, metrics alignment, and a strong sustainability program.

The #1 obstacle to performance excellence is people thinking they are doing it already.

SPEAKING.COM: What are some of the main obstacles to performance excellence and how can an organization overcome them?

ARUSSY: The #1 obstacle to performance excellence is people thinking they are doing it already. Overcome this by setting clear goals on how do you measure excellence and who is the judge of it (the customer, not you). The #2 obstacle is companies operating in silos and as a result customers suffer and performance is less than optimal. Address this by journey mapping, aligning to the customer perspective, adopting measurements that unify the whole organization, and offering incentives to change. The #3 obstacle is that oftentimes it is assumed that employees know how to deliver exceptional experiences but we find that employees are operating on procedures and not customer-based guidelines. They need the time to learn and practice how to deliver exceptional experiences before we expect them to deliver it.

SPEAKING.COM: What are a few of the reasons why organizations fail to deliver excellence?

ARUSSY: Some of the reasons organizations fail to deliver excellence are:

      • Lack of consistency in leadership support
      • Assumption that the task of transformation is minor
      • Conflicting metrics
      • Lack of employee training
      • Lack of sustainability
      • Lack of rewards and recognition for those who are delivering exceptional results
      • Process vs. Customer Orientation
              • Lack of understanding of the true customer needs

It is only when we target exceeding customer expectations that we can provide the new performance standard that is constantly changing as customers are adopting and heightening their expectations.

SPEAKING.COM: How can excellence be redefined and a new performance standard set?

ARUSSY: Excellence can be redefined and a new performance standard set based on what will surprise the customer, not what will meet their expectations. It is only when we target exceeding customer expectations that we can provide the new performance standard that is constantly changing as customers are adopting and heightening their expectations.

SPEAKING.COM: What are your main professional passions?

ARUSSY: Making an impact on people’s lives and inspiring people to change and discover the exceptional within them.

SPEAKING.COM: What other projects are you working on currently?

ARUSSY: A day in my life includes working with a chain of dialysis centers, helping a car manufacturer delight their customers, helping a bank understand their customers better and developing the next research in the area of customer experience. It’s very diverse and I work with various industries with different customers and different challenges.

CNNMoney Interviews Robin Crow and Rising Country Star Olivia Lane

By cmiadmin | Jul 09, 2015 | Comments Off

Vanessa Yurkevich sits down with Robin Crow, owner of renowned Dark Horse Recording Studio, to talk about some of the big names that have passed through his doors. Country, Rock, and Pop singers from all around come to the studio not knowing it may be the start of something big, including rising star Olivia Lane.

Watch the Interview Here

Excerpt From Upcoming MDRT Presentation

By cmiadmin | Jun 02, 2015 | Comments Off

MDRT Ty Bennett June 2Million Dollar Round Table Keynote Teaser:

The Power of Storytelling 

In financial services you describe some very complex concepts and you use terminology that most people don’t understand – so metaphors are a way to make your information understandable and transferable.

I started as an entrepreneur when I was 21 years old. And one of the challenges that I faced in getting my business going was establishing credibility with people because of my age—or, more accurately, my lack of age. I tried several different ways to overcome the perception that I was too young to be taken seriously. What ultimately worked best was a metaphor-based story I developed. When I sat down with people who clearly had a bias against me because of my youth, I’d start off by saying, “You know, it’s interesting as I’m talking to you because I know some people look at me and they think what does this guy know about business? He’s young, He’s 21. He really doesn’t have a ton of experience. But you know, I kind of feel like a young Bill Gates.” And when I put it that way, most of the time they would smile and then I’d say, “What I mean is, you know, Bill Gates was 19 years old when he started Microsoft. He dropped out of college and he had this vision, he told everyone that he was going to take computers, which were the size of refrigerators, and he was going to put one in every house in the world. People probably thought he was nuts. Who was this young, naïve entrepreneur?”

Then I’d continue: “Now, I’m not saying that I’m going to change the world, and I’m not saying that I’m going to make as much money as Bill Gates. What I am saying is that I have something here and I know where I’m going with this, and I want you to really sit down and take a look at it. Are you willing to do that?”

That metaphor-based story worked like magic to establish credibility. I compared myself, an unknown entrepreneur, to a known entrepreneur, Bill Gates, and that little story caused people to forget about my age and concentrate on our product. Eventually we ended up building an incredibly successful business.

Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins




To See More From Ty Click Here