Not Your Usual Podcast Episode
Today’s episode has two very different parts:
- First, I fill you in on changes in my thinking and plans for the coming year. I apply the 1st P of Profit (Promise) to myself and what I am offering to you, my customers, listeners & readers.
- Then my interview with David Hudson, Regional Manager of Foresee, UK. In that interview we talk about the sudden massive increase in purchasing products and services on mobile (not just researching them), how cultural differences affect NPS scores, and how to deal with showrooming or what’s called co-browsing in the UK, which is now done by almost all shoppers. That interview starts at minute 9:30.
Part 1: To Serve Your Customers Better, Know Yourself Better
When I was an undergraduate business student in late 1970s I was one of only a dozen students who took the entrepreneurship class. The other biz school students couldn’t understand why I wasn’t going to job interviews with Big Blue or the giant banks or oil companies. (The only big company that would have tempted me was Proctor & Gamble, so I could learn more about marketing before trying something entrepreneurial, but they weren’t interviewing in my part of the country in those days.)
The small business professor gave us a quiz in our first week to see if we had the characteristics of an entrepreneur. I scored high on all criteria except one: being motivated by money. This may explain why I have done many new and interesting things in my life but never made much money. And it helps explain why, during my current 16 month period of travel, I’m reassessing what I’m doing with my business and my life.
In PeopleShock: The Path to Profit When Customers Rule I propose that the first of the 3 Ps of Profit is the promise. The promise is about what you do and why you are doing it. I’ve been thinking a lot about my promise to you, dear reader. I want to share that thinking with you.
I tell organizations that they need to answer questions such as:
- Who are you trying to serve?
- Why? What’s your purpose?
- What makes you different from your competitors at an emotional level, not just in terms of product features?
- Why should people want to do business with you?
- What is the higher purpose that is strong enough to motivate you, your staff and potential customers, even in challenging times?
For Frank Reactions, and all its predecessor companies, like Web Mystery Shoppers and Frank Communications, my underlying “why” has been to make relationships among humans happier, through clearer communications and reliably great customer service and customer experiences.
That’s been my focus since my high school days, when I’d do informal couples counselling; at university, when I helped professors or TAs understand what their students were struggling with and how it could be explained more clearly; in my 20s when I would mediate disputes between landlords and tenants or between my employer and our customers; and throughout my business and volunteer work ever since.
I’ve always been drawn to finding new ways to improve communication. And by “new”, I mean really new. My friends and colleagues have often commented that my thinking is about a decade ahead of the marketplace. For example, I:
- wrote a book about Canada’s Best Employers for Women years before anyone in Canada started doing best employer lists (or focusing on women in the workplace, for that matter);
- put up my first website in 1995;
- created the world’s first large sample size, remote website usability testing and web-related customer service assessment company in 2000 (Web Mystery Shoppers);
- began podcasting in 2012, and may have been the first to have a podcast devoted to customer experience.
With all these things, though, once enough people joined the field that I felt that there were other good service providers, I started exploring new ideas.
I haven’t yet settled on my next new idea, and I am happily continuing to work as a professional speaker and researcher in the areas of customer experience improvement and human-robot interaction. But I’ve decided to change how I use my time, at least for the travel year.
Change #1 – Frank Reactions Podcast is taking a break for a year
One of the frustrations of travel is that it can be hard to have consistently good sound quality for podcast recordings, and finding compatible time zones and reliable wifi signals for interviews can be a nightmare. Rather than struggling with it, I’ve decided not to podcast until at least the fall of 2019. There are now other good customer experience podcasts out there for you to get your fix. Or you can spend the year listening to my back list.
Once I’ve finished this year+ of travels, I may resume the podcast, but it will have pivoted to a fresh angle, so you’ll get something unique and thought provoking, not just another customer experience podcast.
Change #2 – Frank Reactions social media is taking a break
I’ve been getting really frustrated by the time suck of social media.
While it’s nice to see what my friends are up to, 99% of what gets posted is meaningless. We all put up beautiful pictures of ourselves, the places we go, the food we eat. But it saddens me to see so many tourists who are more absorbed with getting the perfect selfie than with experiencing the actual travel.
I want to focus on the world around me, not the screen in front of me. Tema Frank
When it comes to business use of social media, it’s even worse. The items that get guaranteed shares, likes and retweets are clichés; “inspirational” sayings. They are lists that have headlines starting with a number and including words like “shocking”, “surprising” or “secrets”. They are thinly veiled ploys to get influencers with big lists to retweet them, by referring to that influencer in a post. I know, because I’ve played all of these games. I don’t want to do that anymore, even if it means sacrificing my audience size. (Which I’m sure it will.)
The only real good that came out of all those several-times-a-day tweets of ours was the employment of a virtual assistant in the Philippines. I’m happy to have been one of the people who has made it possible for her and others like her to be able to earn a living in their own country instead of having to abandon their kids to come work in richer countries and take care of ours.
So, Am I Being Stupid?
There’s a huge risk in making these changes. My profile will plummet. My income will tumble. I’ll get fewer speaker bookings and calls about consulting. If I write another book I’ll have to work hard to rebuild an audience if I want it to sell to more than a handful of people, no matter how good it is.
This is a scary step to take. But I’ve reached the age where I’ve had several good friends die way too young from cancer or car accidents. Life is short and we don’t know when the end will be. I believe that experiences and people are more important than things, so we’ve sold our house and got rid of most of our possessions. I’m lucky enough that I can now afford to focus on the ideas and people that I really care about without having to worry much about how to pay my bills.
So, for the next year at least, I’m going to focus on being, experiencing, and learning. I will continue to share my thoughts with you occasionally in the Frank Reactions blog and newsletter, but if you choose to unsubscribe because all you really want to read about is customer experience, that’s OK. I get it.
By stepping off the social media merry-go-round, I’ll at least take some clutter out of your social media streams and free up time for both of us to experience and think about the world around us. That’s part of what’s needed to make the world a better place.
If you feel like sharing your reactions to these decisions of mine, I’d love to hear them. Please send an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). I hope we will stay in touch.
Part 2: Interview with David Hudson, UK Regional Manager of Foresee
I recently attended an event hosted by Foresee in London, UK. One of the speakers, David Hudson, who is a Regional Manager for the company in the UK, presented some interesting research done by the company. I interviewed him after his talk to get some of the highlights for you. The interview starts at minute 9:30.
A few that struck me:
- In the past year there’s been a huge jump in the number of people who are actually buying products and services on mobile. It now stands at over 50% of digital sales! Until this year, many people would research on their phones, but switch to computers for placing orders. The ease of use of mobile sites has clearly increased!
- There are stark cultural differences that affect NPS scores in different countries. The data bears out what many of us already suspected: Americans are more extreme in their scores (either strongly positive or strongly negative) than Canadians and Brits. For me (Canadian) and David (British) a score of 8 is a good score, whereas NPS rankings (created originally using US data) only counts a 9 or 10 as a “promoter”. It considers an 8 to be neutral. In my mind (at least before I learned about NPS ratings), neutral was a 5 or 6. A 7 meant good, 8 or beyond meant exceptional. Maybe it comes from all those years in school where 80% was the minimum required to get an A.
- How to deal with show-rooming (or co-browsing), which is now done by shoppers in every age category except older seniors.
Frank Reactions Podcast: Signing Off For Now
So that’s it for the Frank Reactions podcast for now. If you haven’t heard all 129 episodes, you’ll still get value from going back to listen to them.
And if you can spare a few moments, I’d love to hear your reactions to what I had to say at the beginning of this episode.
- Do you think I’m nuts to be putting the podcast and my social media marketing on ice?
- Do you think social media justifies the time it takes? Is there any way we can reclaim time in our lives for deep thought?
- And, the most important question of all, Is there anybody who actually reads to the very end of a post?
I wish you a wonderful year, full of love, learning and laughter. And thank you for all the time you’ve spent listening to Frank Reactions and for doing your bit to make the world a better place.
Bye for now.