Friday, July 29, 2005

I Think The Top of My Head Just Blew Off

Harry over at Marketing Headhunter linked to a site that delivers a COMPREHENSIVE page of links on "management methods, models and theories." [Link to] 12manage is an MBA-level management education portal that summarizes over 300 business methods and models while "applying scientific rigor while testing practical relevance." I ripped that last sentence from Harry. Sorry. How many different ways can you say it though? The site is hard on the eyes because it attempts to jam these 300 links into one page view. I will post a warning: BEWARE! You could get lost for days in there.

For those of you just wanting to dip your toes in the pool, I would recommend QuickMBA. No where near as comprehensive as 12manage but displayed and organized into tasty bite-sized nuggets.

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Thursday, July 28, 2005

New Link and RSS Feed

Podcasting is next! :) Yesterday I got Diligentia hooked up with Feedburner. You can now subsribe to us with your favorite RSS reader. I also put a link over on the left to friend and colleague Meg Wier and her Ramblings of an Insomniac blog which focuses on her experience with search engine optimization (SEO). Which is a fascinating brand of sorcery if you ask me.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


I only learned about S.M.A.R.T. goals a few years ago. I'm not really a huge acronym/mneumonics guy but I find I use this one quite often. It would be fair to say that I use this every day. Every time I get in front of a client. Every time I sit down with someone on my team. Every time I go through a strategic session with my partners. We make sure our goals our S.M.A.R.T.

Lifehacker linked to an article/posting from Goal Setting Guide. S.M.A.R.T. - Specific - Measurable - Attainable/Achievable - Realistic - Timely.

Specific - keep it simple. Keep it focused, no rambling. CLEARLY define what you are going to do. What, why, and how are the questions that should be answered in this section of your goal. What do you ultimately what to accomplish? How are you going to get there.

Measurable - favorite part. What gets measured gets done. If you aren't going to measure it people, don't bother doing it. If you are just starting out using S.M.A.R.T. keep things simple. You can get fancy later by adding progress points into the goal. (Have a quarter of the lawn mowed by Monday, half by Tuesday, etc.) Don't feel pressured to go nutty with this though. Make sure that you have your measuring criteria CLEARLY defined BEFORE you start out towards your goal. According to the Goal Setting Guide:

When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continued effort required to reach your goals.
Well...that and it can also show you where you are failing miserably and point to the specific points of derailment. Don't let that deter you though. Figure out where it went bad, fix it, redefine the goal (if needed) and hit it.

Achievable - Don't pad your goals. At the former company, we used S.M.A.R.T. goals except everyone padded. They didn't stretch. I naturally didn't pad and struggled mightily to achieve the goals I set for my crew. A goal needs to stretch you where you will have to COMMIT to it. If you have been producing 20 widgets a day for the last 20 years, don't come in with "21" as your goal. Come in with 30! And tell me how you're going to get there!

Realistic - doable. Not easy. See above. From the site:

It means that the learning curve is not a vertical slope; that the skills needed to do the work are available; that the project fits with the overall strategy and goals of the organization. A realistic project may push the skills and knowledge of the people working on it but it shouldn't break them.
Timely - every goal MUST have a timeframe. Putting an end point on your goal gives you a clear target. No timeframe means you are not COMMITTED to the goal. No time limit means no urgency.

Read it, know it, live it.

Monday, July 11, 2005

The 5 Customer Satisfaction Questions You Will Ever Need

The latest copy of the Mun's Report [link will expire but can be accessed if you register] from the Help Desk Institute has a great piece on choosing customer satisfaction (csat) questions to measure the performance of your service team. You ARE measuring the performance of your team from the eyes of your customers (end-users), right? HDI has been surveying various companies that provide service and support (tech support, help desk, other forms of customer or end-user facing service) to determine best practices.

The idea of a csat process is to determine the performance level of your service team. Are you meeting your customer's expectations? Are you failing to meet them which could and usually does mean your customers will dump you and find someone who will? Or...are you providing too much service which is just added cost for you?

The questions (in order of importance):

1. Courtesy of the Analyst - Your customer deserves and and expects to be treated in a courteous/professional manner. If you are scoring poorly here you need to make sure you have communicated the absolute importance of service and satisfied customers to your team. You may also need to specifically train customer service skills. I know this sounds odd, but people simply do NOT have a service mentality. Make sure you are hiring service oriented people as well.

2. Skills and Knowledge of the Analyst - While a courteous analyst is nice, it won't make a bit of difference if that analyst can't solve the customer's problem. Your customers want confidence in the analyst's skills and knowledge to resolve the issue at hand. This is the best way to measure your team's skill and knowledge level. (You do know their basic skill level, right? You benchmarked during the hiring and training process, right? You assessed them before they came on board and after they completed your training, right?). Weaknesses here go back to the hiring and training process. Don't have the money to implement a knowledge-base? Build a wiki. Find a way to get to best practices among your team. Everyone should be solving things roughly the same way. I personally hate scripting, but troubleshooting and solving problems doesn't leave a lot of room for interpretation if you do it properly.

3. Quality of the Resolution - Again, courteous and (seemingly) knowledgable agents are good, if doens't matter if they don't actually SOLVE problems. Customers calling back to fix the same problem over and over again is a customer that is going to churn on you.

4. Timeliness of the Resolution - Time is money! Fix your customer's problem the first time they call. Two things happen if you don't: you drive up your total cost per incident (you are measuring cost per ticket/incident/case, right?) and you irritate your customer's...see churn above. This is a process problem. Break it down step by step. No step is too small. Trouble lies in the handoffs.

5. Overall Experience - This is really the weighted average of the first 4. Keep in mind that customers will weigh each of the above differently. If you have a low score (bottom two boxes out of 5), CALL THAT CUSTOMER AND BEG THEM TO HELP YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU CAN DO BETTER!

6. Additional Feedback - always, always, always allow your customer to give you open ended feedback. Let them vent. Not only will they tell you what is wrong (and right if you are lucky) they will tell you how to FIX IT.

Feel free to add an additional targeted question if you must. But this is a great approach.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Situational Value Systems

The July 2005 issue of Business 2.0 has an article about Swanson's Unwritten Rules of Management which is a book written by Bill Swanson, CEO of Raytheon. This book is unavailable in stores but you can get it direct from Raytheon. (Link.) "The CEO's Secret Handbook" lays out a couple of the tips/hints/ideas. One particularly jumps out at me. The rule reminds me of a friend and colleague (Jenn S.) because we have discussed the subject many times. It started with her telling me one day that she realized I was always nice to waiters/waitresses.

Like Swanson, I told her that:

A person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter - or to others - is not a nice person. (This rule NEVER fails.)

I put the emphasis on the never but it is true. Swanson refers to this type of person as one that has situational value systems. These are people that can turn their charm on and off. You all know people that do this. You all know someone that is an absolute ass to anyone in a position of serving the public. These people will never make great leaders.

"There's a consistency in leadership that's greater than mere situational awareness."