Archives for the month of: January, 2015

VOC Quote

Woodrow Wilson had it right – you don’t become a leader in your industry without first listening to your customers. The connections our customers make with our brand, their attitudes towards our products, and the many ways they interact with us are all what we at HON call the “Voice of the Customer”. It is ultimately what they want, not what we want, that drives our product development processes and business practices. But, what exactly is the voice of the customer? Let’s look at the basics.

Who?

Listening is only valuable if you are listening to the right information from the right people. Know who your target audiences are and focus your attention on them. Also, remember that customer feedback doesn’t always come straight from your customers. Spend some time chatting with your sales team after a big pitch, talk to your social media manager or listen in on a call with a member of your customer support team. Take advantage of the information you can easily find from internal employees who spend most of their time interacting closely with your stakeholders. These people often have the most unique insight into how and why people make purchasing decisions which can help you improve your products and translate into more sales for your company.

What?

Although it sounds counterintuitive, listening in the business world isn’t always done with your ears. It comes in many different forms. You can ask customers for information directly, through techniques such as surveys or focus groups; or, you can ask them indirectly by monitoring their interactions on social media, tracking patterns in their purchasing behavior or checking in with members of your internal team as mentioned above. Conducting a big study to listen to your customers can be expensive, but even if your budget doesn’t allow a line item for Voice of the Customer research there are several free online tools to help get you started. The conversations your customers are having online matter, especially when 94% of buyers research their products of interest online before they make a purchase and the average customer checks over 10 different sources for information and reviews before they buy.  Setting up automatic Google Alerts for your company, using sites like Addict-o-matic to understand how people search for you, and listening to your social media communities through services such as Hootsuite or Social Mention are just a few of the easy ways you can observe the attitudes people hold towards your brand and really hear what they have to say. (And they are free!)

Where?

The best way to listen to your customers is to find them where they already are.  If your target audience is Millennials, it’s probably more worthwhile to reach out to them on social media platforms rather than through an ad in a local print newspaper. If you receive an email from a customer, respond with an email. If they call you on the phone, call them back. It gets too complicated to try to transition your conversations from one medium to the next, and adding additional steps for your customers to take in order to communicate with you only makes it less likely that they will.

When?

This is a trick question, because the act of listening never really begins or ends. As long as you are in business with your customers, consider your relationship with them an ongoing conversation. Listen and respond appropriately, letting your product enhancements, sustainability efforts and community outreach projects do your talking for you. Just like with any conversation, once you listen you must respond. Whether you do so through words or actions, make sure you are adding value to your customers’ brand experience and always make yourselves available for continuous two-way communication.

Why?

The bottom line is that listening to your customers is crucial to your success, so recognizing its significance is the first step towards becoming a business that listens well. Accept that “leader” is synonymous with “listener”. Your customers are already talking, so you might as well pay attention! When you understand what really matters to your key audiences, your products and services are not all that will improve; you’ll be able to anticipate questions and potential problems before they happen, and get a head start on providing the right solution. The more proactively you can give your customers what they truly want, the more positively your brand will be perceived.

What are some tools or techniques you use to really listen to your customers?

Advertisements

Pantone has recently revealed the 2015 color of the year, and it is… Marsala (yes, just like the sauce)!

Not only does this color taste great, but it is taking over the red carpet! The rich, earthy, and classic tone of Marsala translates perfectly to a stunning red carpet dress, a sophisticated accent wall, or a timeless fabric choice for chairs, couches, or pillows. This color may be the Color of the Year 2015, but I don’t think this color will go out of style anytime soon.

marsala1

HON, being so fashion-forward in work place solutions, offers great fabric choices in shades of Marsala as seen below. These fabrics are great choices to spice up your tired-looking cubicles with shades and pops of this trendy color! Mix with rich woods or polished grays for a refreshingly modern office space.

marsala2

What do you think of the Color of the Year, Marsala?

Many businesses today have a presence on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, but the social media craze is about more than just the number of “likes” and “retweets” one gets. Here are a few of the most important measurable benefits:

Brand Distinction and Awareness

No matter which social media platform(s) your business uses, you have the freedom and ability to present the unique personality of your brand to potential customers and keep them hooked. Whether you want to have a formal or laid back media presence, make sure your posts convey the identity that you want for your business. Social media is quickly becoming the main channel for how customers find out about a new business or a product, so posting regularly and differentiating your business from others is important.

How HON does it: HON posts daily on various social media platforms and produces original content that represents the brand as being personable and relatable.

socialmedia1

Direct Communication with Customers

Brand awareness is commonly one of the main goals of social media, but it’s often forgotten that is a two-way street. Social media allows customers to communicate directly with companies, and in turn allows companies to reply back. It’s important to converse with these individuals because it provides a “face” for your company. Just like an offline relationship, regular online engagement will lead your customers to become more committed to your brand, which can lead to increased sales and success.

How HON does it: HON replies to all individuals and businesses that tag us on social media.

socialmedia2

Richer Experiences

At the core of every good company is great customer service. Every interaction is another opportunity to display your company’s service level and create a richer experience for your customers and followers. A positive personal experience can result in a higher number of returning customers, which may correlate with increased sales.

How HON does it: HON responds back to all questions.

socialmedia3

Increased website traffic

Without social media, inbound traffic to your website is limited to the random Google search and those people already familiar with your brand. Taking advantage of multiple social media channels is important, as it increases the amount of inbound traffic to your company by adding various paths to your website. By including multimedia, hyperlinks, and even hashtags in your social media content, you make it easier for people searching for your product or service to curate information and find you through search engine optimization.

How HON does it: HON is active on multiple social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, and Flickr, and regularly directs fans and followers back to hon.com.

How do you use social media for your business?

Great Things

With the start of the new year, like most people, I have been thinking of what I’m going to focus more on in 2015. There are, of course, the obvious choices, i.e. actually using that gym membership, cooking more (or ever), walking to the grocery store 2 blocks away instead of driving… you get the idea. Instead, I’m deciding to focus on work. Not necessarily on me, but on those that surround me. Here are the 10 top things that I will focus on doing more of:

1. More random acts of kindness. Anonymous Post-it® notes happen to be my favorite.

2. Add a “+1” to the morning Starbucks routine. Is there anything better than someone bringing you a hot beverage? Especially on a Monday morning.

3. Volunteer to help on others’ projects. How wonderful is it when someone offers to help for no reason other than to help lessen your load?

4. Write more hand-written notes. Thank yous, thinking of you, happy birthday, wish you were here… I could go on and on. Bonus points for cursive usage.

5. Dole out those compliments. How great does it feel to put a little extra pep in someone’s step? Because everyone deserves to be told how much they’re rocking that new hair cut…

6. Send more kudos. Focus on recognizing co-workers more often – both directly and to that person’s manager.

7. Have lunch with one new person a week. Can’t think of a better way to build your network… or become a local restaurant connoisseur.

8. Reconnect. Consider rejuvenating those relationships that fizzled out for no apparent reason other than lack of effort.

9. Use meeting times wisely. No one cares for an hour-long meeting that could have been done in 15 minutes.

10. Smile. You know what they say… it’s contagious and can immediately boost the mood of its recipients. I think we could all use a little bit more of that, don’t you?

How will you be a better co-worker this year?

Interviews1

Finding a job can be quite the arduous process. Whether you are seeking your first job or looking for something new, these 6 tips will simplify the interview process and help you succeed.

1. Do Your Homework

Interviews2

Before any job interview, you should know as much as reasonably possible about the organization. Many employers consider a candidate’s knowledge about the company when assessing overall interest in the position. Here are some examples of what to research:

  • What They Do: It’s not uncommon for an interviewer to ask a candidate what they know about their organization, so make sure you have practiced summarizing the company’s work in your own words. You don’t have to know everything, just have a basic understanding of how the prospective employer conducts business.
  • Why They Do It: Be able to answer the question, “why do you want to work here?” Drawing a connection between your personal values, passions, and goals with those of the organization will help you articulate why you’d be a good fit for the job, and at the same time will present you as a serious candidate.

2. Be Presentable and Punctual

Interviews3

If there’s one thing in this world that we only get one chance at, it’s a first impression. In a recent survey, 33% of hiring managers claimed to know whether or not they would hire a candidate within 90 seconds of meeting them. Think about that. Less than two minutes into introductions, one third of interviewers have already made a decision about whether or not they want you to be a part of their team. Makes you think twice about the details, does it not? Here are some important reminders:

  • In the professional world, being on time means being at least five minutes early on a normal day. Before a job interview, be sure to arrive at least fifteen minutes prior to your appointment. This ensures that you’ll be on time, gives you a chance to collect yourself and perhaps run a comb through your hair if needed.
  • Pay attention to how you dress. The same survey found that 70% of employers don’t appreciate when applicants try to be too fashion forward and 65% of hiring managers claim that clothes can be the deciding factor between two applicants who present similar qualifications. So, stay away from ‘loud’ clothing, bright colors and distracting accessories. The only thing that you want to stand out is the unique experience you can offer the company.
  • Don’t forget nonverbal cues. Actions often speak louder than words, so don’t ignore what your body language is saying. Remember to smile, make good eye contact, maintain professional posture, and keep a firm handshake.

3. Be Yourself

Interviews4

This may seem like a no brainer, but it is easy to get so caught up with trying to have the ‘right’ answer that we lose our sense of originality. In actuality, most questions that you’ll be asked in an interview don’t have a right or wrong answer. Instead, employers want to understand how your unique experience offers a solution to their needs.

You can usually expect a few generic interview questions: Why do you want to work here? What are you looking to get out of this role? Why should we hire you? Take these open-ended questions as an opportunity to set yourself apart from the pack and let your personal brand shine through.  Throw out the cookie cutter responses and think of how to convey exactly why you are the best person for the job.

4. Showcase Your Knowledge

Interviews5

An interview is your chance to demonstrate why you are worthy of consideration for the job. You’ve come this far, so you know the company sees your potential, but now it’s time to show them what you can bring to the table:

  • Connect all of your points back to the position for which you’re interviewing. Explain your past qualifications, but explain in detail how those experiences have prepared you to be the best candidate for this specific role. What parallels can you draw between previous skills you’ve gained and the future responsibilities you would hold in this new position?
  • Quantify your experiences whenever possible. For example, instead of saying “I was responsible for growing the volume of a territory over two years”, try being more specific by saying “over the past two years, I successfully grew revenue in my territory by 20% which equated to $450,000.” This makes it easier for an interviewer to identify your strengths and get an idea of the success you will add to the company.

5. Ask Questions

Interviews6

A great way to show that you have put in the time and are genuinely serious about a position is to ask thought-provoking questions that reiterate your interest. Try and be as original as possible while also asking questions to which you genuinely want to know answers. Here are some examples of useful questions to ask:

  • What advancement opportunities exist within the organization?
  • Why do you work for this company and what do you think motivates employees to stay?
  • What is a typical day like for someone in this role?
  • What are the next steps in the hiring process?

6. Follow Up

Interviews7

So, the interview is over and you’re feeling confident.  Why? Because you prepared, looked presentable, arrived punctually, and showcased how your unique skills and experiences are perfect for the position. Now what? There are still ample opportunities for you to show decision makers how serious you are about working for them.

One of the best ways to continue that positive first impression we discussed in Point #2 is to write a thank you letter to those who interviewed you. Personalize this letter as much as you can and draw it all back to why you are a strong fit for the job.

Have you personally found any these tricks helpful during an interview? What other advice would you add?

%d bloggers like this: