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Implementing Lean Marketing Systems

Drive Profit thru People and Processes Guest was Vivian Blade

Related Podcast: People & Process Drive Profit Podcast

People & Process Drive Profit Podcast Copyright Business901


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Implementing Lean Marketing Systems Vivian Hairston Blade, President & CEO of Experts in Growth Leadership Consulting, LLC (EiGL Consulting, LLC) based in Louisville, KY. EiGL Consulting, LLC works with companies to build high performance, high quality, and high service level leaders and teams. Vivian is a recognized expert, keynote speaker, trainer and executive coach in the principles of Customer Experience, Lean Six Sigma and Leadership Development. With a 20+ year career in Fortune 100 companies, General Electric and Humana, Inc., Vivian has extensive experience in successfully leading the development and execution of customer centered, quality-based, growth business strategies. Through EiGL Consulting, Vivian has helped clients achieve direct cost savings and productivity by more than 10%, implement customer loyalty and customer service programs, and has coached and trained hundreds of professionals in customer experience implementation and leadership skill development. Vivian’s professional certifications include GE Certified Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, Black Belt, and Green Belt, and Certified Net Promoter Associate. She holds an MBA and B.S. in Business Administration. Vivian is a member of the Institute of Management Consultants USA, American Society for Quality, iSixSigma, American Society for Training & Development, National Speakers Association, Customer Experience Professionals Association and International Coach Federation. People & Process Drive Profit Podcast Copyright Business901


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Implementing Lean Marketing Systems Vivian Blade: I do a lot of leadership and professional development work in various aspects change, leadership skills, professional and career advancement skills, accountability. As well as customer service, customer experience, project management from the operational side and the execution side. I am teaching at the University of Louisville upper level project management course where we're teaching students how to be good operational leaders from a project standpoint and managing the project process and in addition, how to manage the quality of deliverables coming out of their project work. Those are the types of things that I do with companies. Bringing the two sides together, the people and process to make sure that they have high performance and high service level in the organization where individuals can really thrive in serving customers well and helping companies to grow. Joe Dager: Welcome everyone. This is Joe Dager the host of the Business 901 Podcast. With me today is Vivian Harrison Blade. She is a President and CEO of Expert and Growth Leadership Consulting based in Louisville. Vivian is a recognized expert, a key note speaker and trainer and executive coach on the principals of Customer Experience, Lean Six Sigma and Leadership Development. Vivian, I enjoyed the intro you were just talking about there. Could you give me a brief elevator speech on what your consulting company's focus has been recently? Vivian: Expert and Great Leadership Consulting works with companies to build a high performance and high service levels in the organization. We focus on both the people and the process side. So that, employees feel like they are in an organization where they can thrive and there are processes and there is support in the organization that helps to drive People & Process Drive Profit Podcast Copyright Business901


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Implementing Lean Marketing Systems towards a stellar customer experience with everybody contributing to that. We work on both the people and process side to bring it all together for a cohesive unit to makes it all happen. Joe: I always have been a firm believer that employee experience mimics the customer experience. Are you saying the same thing? Vivian: Very much so, if you have an environment where employees are still valued. They look forward to coming to work, they like where they work. That naturally is going to come across in their customer interactions. When they care for customers and they care for what they do more, you are going to have more accountability and ownership in what they do. Customers can see that, you know yourself in different situations; different service situations that have gone very well or have gone poorly. A lot of it has to do with the individual you were working with on the other side of the town. A lot of what drives that is the value that I feel about being in this organization as an employee. Joe: I hear so much anymore that we find fault with an organization it's always about leadership. All in all, most of the leaders that I've met try very hard to make it work. They may fail. But, they try very hard to make it work. What if you found that maybe some of the things that, good leaders I mean ones that are really trying have not been able to accomplish or where they fall off trying to get an organization to that good customer experience or to that better culture.

People & Process Drive Profit Podcast Copyright Business901


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Implementing Lean Marketing Systems Vivian: I think there would be probably a couple of things that are key. One is truly having a vision around that customer focus and that customer experience. And, operational excellence that goes along with that. So, truly having a clearly defined vision and then having a clear communication and connection on that vision with people in the organization. Everybody has to know, what my job connects to? Where do I sit? What purpose do I serve? And, what bigger purpose do I connect to? And do I service? I know that I have a meaningful job to do and I want to be here every day to contribute to that. When you don't have that clear vision first of all there is no way, there is nothing for people to connect to; No aspirations for the organization, people don't really know where they're going. Sometimes you will find companies with a vision that isn't even clear. Not only employees, sometimes the leaders can't even repeat or clearly reflect what that true vision is? Where they're going? What they're aspiring to be? And, how they're aspiring to serve? If you don't have that clarity and you can't communicate clearly, so that people understand it clearly and connect to it. Those are really key areas that first and foremost, a couple of the most important areas where leaders fail. Joe: I always think of Steve Jobs telling John Scully, do you want to make soda pop or do you want to have a chance to change the world. That was pretty clear cut and exciting vision to be part of. I am not Steve Jobs, I can't transfer my message like that. I don't think I am much different than the ordinary leader. Do you really need to have something that's going to grab someone that much? Vivian: The most important thing is not that it is so catchy. The most important is that it's meaningful and that there is some realism to it. You want to be exciting and want People & Process Drive Profit Podcast Copyright Business901


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Implementing Lean Marketing Systems people to feel inspired and feel like there's a stretch and opportunity for us to get to something; to drive us to a place, where we are not today. For most of us, as you mentioned the common leaders and individual companies and employees, it is having something that is realistic for people to be able to relate too. We want to be a customer focused, a customer service organization that delivers on XYZ. You define that based on what your market, what your particular customers are in need of, the problems that your particular customer are trying to solve and to be innovative around. Not that your vision has to have the answer. But, that is aspirational in solving problems and solving needs. Joe: I tend to think that what you are telling me is similar to what Simon Sinec says; “Understanding the Why�. Why we exist? Why we are important? If you can explain the why to your people, if they understand the why that's the important part. Vivian: Right. That gives the employees the opportunity to also assess whether I connect with this organization? Do I connect with that vision and that mission? Do I feel like, I have a purpose here and a value here? Is this the type of organization that I want to be associates with? And, the kind of work and the kind of purpose that I want to do? And, what I want to be? Does this align with my career goals? Does this organization align with my values? Can I do the things that I aspire to in life? So, that provides that kind of connection with individuals as well. Joe: When we're talking about this, I think it as a Zappos thing and their different culture. Not everybody makes it there and they offer a buyout to people that doesn't make it so. What you're saying is if I am going to change, tell me if I am wrong here. But if I am going People & Process Drive Profit Podcast Copyright Business901


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Implementing Lean Marketing Systems to change the culture within a company I may have to consider losing a chunk of my workforce because they're not going to change into the culture. Is that true? Vivian: Yes, that's true. The organization gets to decide what they want to be? Who they want to be? How they want to serve? Products and services that they want to provide and the culture they want, and that embraces that. As an employee, it's your duty for yourself and your self-fulfillment in your career and for the good of the organization that you're working with. To both sides of the party to evaluate whether this works for me? If this organization going to change, do I feel like I fit you? If you don't you're not going to be happy if you stay there. Or the organization is not going to fit with you as well. So, it's a two-sided coin and both sides of the party have a part to play in determining. If you don't fit that or feel like it does, then you probably belong somewhere else. Joe: One of the things that I looked at recently is that it's not all internal either. If you're trying to change an organization or yourself, the outside the external forces are sometimes as important as the internal. You have vendors out there, customers out there that don't want you to change even though you are considering changing for the better. Do you agree or disagree or what are your thoughts are on that? Vivian: If you change as an organization, you must define yourself. There are some key decisions that you need to make. One is, as I look forward, who are the customers and who is the market that I need to serve? And, how is that defined? Iconic customer does that customer base fit within that or not? Or are there some changes? Are they different? If you are familiar with the Blue Ocean Strategy; are there different oceans and blue oceans that we are trying to go after to expand and diversify our business? People & Process Drive Profit Podcast Copyright Business901


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Implementing Lean Marketing Systems How do our current customers and vendors support that? Just like you would look at customers and vendors as you're looking at profitability of your company which is most important to stay in business. Sometimes we have a mix of customers and more profitable than some less profitable than others. I would make decisions and ultimately have to make decisions about especially those less profitable ones or non-profitable ones. How long are we going to maintain that relationship? Same thing on the vendors' side, if a vendor is costing us too much how long are we going to maintain? How long can we sustain that relationship? So, as you looking at a revision or change within your organization, it really is the same thing. It's going to have the same type of effect on your bottom line. Joe: I think sometimes we're still mired in that old organization structure that was developed way back in the 1800s. We're becoming more of a team type structure and collaborative type structure. That old structure doesn't seem to fit as well anymore. Have you seen a shift? Are you talking about shifting, change the old structure a little bit? And can you, explain that? Vivian: I had seen some change in work structure. One organization I have been working with most recently had had a lot of layers. I don't remember how many, but as you looked at and you heard the number, it was a tremendous number between the front-line and the CEO. They have flattened out trying to be a lot more nimble, trying to be able to respond to the marketplace a lot faster than they could in the past. I think we're continuing to see that in some companies because of that. To make sure that there's decision making throughout lower levels of the organization. Ultimately I think People & Process Drive Profit Podcast Copyright Business901


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Implementing Lean Marketing Systems companies are realizing that to drive the customer experience and to drive the customer loyalty, you've got to have employees even at the front-line who are somehow empowered to take care of customer needs and to make some of those decisions. Customers require urgency in speed of response. They want to feel like that they are heard and being well taken care of. You're seeing some of those organization layers change and organizational empowerment and accountability change to some degree because of that. I think you still have a lot of the traditional hierarchy structure in some terms. Joe: As we drive responsibility down and it empowers the lower levels. That is a lot of responsibility that goes down to them. How is that reacted to? I mean, do people want to take that level of responsibility as a norm? Vivian: Employees in many instances, especially if you are on the front-line, you often feel like you're caught in the middle. You feel like your hands are tied and often times you want to help. You are caught in the middle of customer tirade. Sometimes all you can say is "Well, let me get my supervisor," or "Can we get back to you," or "I'm sorry, I can't do that." So, employees oftentimes really do want to help. You have some employees who care less than others and especially if they are in an environment as we were talking about earlier, empowering for individual employees where they truly feel valued and feel like, "This is really the place I want to be" and want to contribute to and do meaningful work. Where you're having an environment that is so, you have people who really do care and need and feel like they needed some of that flexibility to be able to work with customers.

People & Process Drive Profit Podcast Copyright Business901


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Implementing Lean Marketing Systems Joe: How does Lean or Six Sigma play a role in all of this? I know that you spend a lot of time in that area, how does it play a role in what we're talking about here? Vivian: When you are, let's take yourself as an example Joe, and talk about maybe some of these service experiences that you've had. When you deal with the company, let's say maybe a call center. You've ordered a product of some sort. Can you name a frustration? Joe: One example, it seems even with the automated approaches very seldom do you end up in the right place in a decent amount of time and by the time you get a live person, you're already irritated. Vivian: So, with this experience, you are not unlike so many others who are listening to this podcast and so many of our experiences that we can recall when we have been really frustrated and a few times where we have been really very pleased and pleasantly surprised when we got off of the phone with someone. It's Lean Six Sigma that can help to make some of those processors better. Oftentimes, even though the call centers are on the front line, sometimes the issue or the root cause is not necessarily their fault. They're dealing with a system that operates a certain way and only allows them to serve customers a certain way. Again, these people are caught in the middle often times, but we as customers don't see it that way. And we don't really care. All we care about is the fact that I'm trying to be a customer of this organization and get my product or service completed. I'm having a problem with it and I want it to go a lot better.

People & Process Drive Profit Podcast Copyright Business901


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Implementing Lean Marketing Systems We can look at using Lean Six Sigma to fix a lot of these processors in terms of driving quality improvement or taking ways out. Make things work a lot more efficiently so that the processors work to serve customers better. The call center employee is able to do a much better job and offer a lot better service to customers. As well as, within the call center even do some things to make operational process a lot quicker so that our response, right there on the phone a lot faster. I had an issue here recently within an insurance company, kind of turning things around. I did a phone interview, it was taken a while though and, I was wondering "What's the deal?" I got a letter eventually that said "I'm sorry, we're refunding your money. We can't complete your request because we didn't get all the information that we needed." They did not get back to me at any point in time to let me know that there was missing information or more information that they needed to complete my application. And there is some breakdown in profit there. They've got some type of quality issue. How many companies are going to actually give you, your money back? I was shocked. I was shocked, that's it. One of the examples that you shared with having to go to various systems to get different information or ask you for the same information four times, because they've got to go four different places to pull information to complete your order, or to look up the status of your order or to change some information in your account. Lean Six Sigma can help to pull some of those systems together so that the call taker is not looking at all of those systems, but we have some cohesiveness. We have some systems talking to each other actually. The call taker's input is once or twice, and it seeds sources information into other places where the information resides. Sometimes you've got People & Process Drive Profit Podcast Copyright Business901


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Implementing Lean Marketing Systems certainly different things going on. Now, when you are a customer and sitting there waiting for a chat response and it takes a little while and you wonder, "Why is that taking so long? Where is the person?" So sometimes there's a good bit going on in the background and multiple things going on at the same time such as multiple chat sessions going on. Joe: I always assumed that they were juggling two or three of them at a time. Vivian: I think there is some level of that, and some of that is attempted to be managed, like calls are routed to various employees that are available, and I think as you have more social media, more of this type of instant messaging or chat capability that companies are going to begin to beef up some of their resources in those areas so that they can be more responsive. Joe: How rigid is a call center process? Are there scripts and instructions on what they can do? They're not really empowering the front line people that much, are they? It's a pretty rigid how far they can take someone or what they can do? Vivian: From a quality assurance standpoint, there is still definitely quite a bit of structure in the way calls are handled and customers are handled and various situations are handled. However, I'm seeing a little more flexibility with companies because of this fact of companies realizing in order to really take care of customers on the front line, we're going to have to make sure that these employees do have a little bit more flexibility and have a degree of empowerment that they can work within.

People & Process Drive Profit Podcast Copyright Business901


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Implementing Lean Marketing Systems What you'll find oftentimes there is a level of decision-making. Your scope of decision-making that employees on the front line can work within that give them a little bit more flexibility than they used to without having to get a supervisor directly involved. Joe: Is this the trend? Are you seeing more of that type of responses? Is this where people are headed? Vivian: Zappos is used as an example for so many best practice benchmarking for so many organizations and trying to drive, one, and environment where people who are in such a stressful call center environment can feel better and feel more positive and have a more fun place to work, for one. Also for the way that they serve and treat customers, I think again another reason why they're bench-marked so much is the reason why people come back and they continue to use Zappos is because of that level of service. Now some of that, some of the customer service guidelines or rules that they have - policies, if you will - that they have that allow people to return shoes or products that they've ordered and the shipping, which are all of value, but they train employees to try to really befriend, if you will, customers so that they really understand what it is they're looking for and try to figure out how I can really help you, rather than just being a talking head on the other end of the phone. So you can see where if you look at one of the metrics that Zappos uses, and it's the net promoter score and likelihood to recommend question, they are one of the companies that are at the top of the charts when it comes to customer's likelihood to recommend and a lot of it has to do with that direct engagement and how customers are treated so well. People & Process Drive Profit Podcast Copyright Business901


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Implementing Lean Marketing Systems Joe: You have to develop listening skills in your employees. Vivian: Certainly in many aspects around customer development. I'm kind of taking your phrase a little bit and calling it customer development. Listening is critical, and that has been so much of the problem with customer retention, with customer loyalty. Companies feel like I have a product and service to sell, you are privileged to be able to do business with me and I'll just give you whatever I have or treat you however I want to. Now customer development shows that I better understand what my customer expectations and their requirements are, and truly what their needs are, so that I understand where my value is - what my value proposition is to customers. You're finding that so many of them are looking at trying to build this base of loyal customers that is a lot more efficient to serve versus going out and getting new customers and the money that you spend on new customer acquisition. In today' environment, the economic environment nobody truly has money to burn. And, customers have so many choices today. If you look at your choices of cell phones, how many cell phones have you had in the last three or four years? Joe: Oh, I think I cycle about every two years. Vivian: Right. We're sort of in this contract, where we don't want to spend money on a new phone until our contract comes due. So these cell companies have us locked into that. But, certainly with all the new technology out there and new services, we want a new cell phone before our two year time frame is up. You've got these companies that are People & Process Drive Profit Podcast Copyright Business901


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Implementing Lean Marketing Systems clamoring for your business with different offers. You hear a lot of people complain about their treatment, this customer who has been with you for two years, four years, should get deals as good as a new customers. Act like you value me. I think you have some companies who are starting to listen and understand that a lot more. Joe: What are your plans going forward? Vivian: Well, our plan is to continue to build on this idea of people process and that cohesiveness between the two that help companies drive growth. As you look at the environment, the marketplace, the economy, and how it changes and how it will change in the future and how we'll need to still continue to be conservative in so many ways especially when it comes to money and finances and investments, to realize that people investment is important, that operational process investment is important as it relates to customer focus and serving customer needs. Helping companies realize that without that connection and that understanding of why you exist and how to operationally serve the why you exist, what your value is in this customer relationship, without this you won't have a business for very long. You know, it's unfortunate that we see so many of these companies in today's economy who have been icons in the American industry, your Kodak and your Hostess, Hewlett Packard, so many, even Netflix recently who decided to change both their service and their pricing policy and lost millions of customers. They made a 360 degree turn. And, just in the People & Process Drive Profit Podcast Copyright Business901


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Implementing Lean Marketing Systems Wall Street Journal in the past few days there was an article about how they are beginning to now recover their customers. Without that skill of listening that we just talked about a minute ago, you haven't a clue what the impact is going to be when you make some of those changes, or do you even really care into it's almost too late? We're helping companies to have a good ear to the ground on that customer connection and building an environment where employees can thrive toward reaching their career goals and helping the company to achieve its goals. Joe: When we think of Lean and Six Sigma, we always think of internal but can Lean Six Sigma truly be outward focused? Vivian: Lean Six Sigma had better be outward focused. First of all, your requirements for anything that you do should be based on customer impact and customer requirements. So first of all, Lean Six Sigma better be outward facing. When I was in GE, one of the initiatives that we had was at the customer for the customer. That's where we took our internal resources and leveraged them with customers for gain in customer processes. So, it's leveraging your resources a little bit differently. Joe: Well, thank you very much.

Joseph T. Dager Implementer of Lean Marketing Systems Ph: 260-438-0411 Fax: 260-818-2022 People & Process Drive Profit Podcast Copyright Business901


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Implementing Lean Marketing Systems Email: jtdager@business901.com Web/Blog: http://www.business901.com Twitter: @business901 What others say: In the past 20 years, Joe and I have collaborated on many difficult issues. Joe's ability to combine his expertise with "out of the box" thinking is unsurpassed. He has always delivered quickly, cost effectively and with ingenuity. A brilliant mind that is always a pleasure to work with." James R. Joe Dager is President of Business901, a progressive company providing direction in areas such as Lean Marketing, Product Marketing, Product Launches and Re-Launches. As a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, Business901 provides and implements marketing, project and performance planning methodologies in small businesses. The simplicity of a single flexible model will create clarity for your staff and as a result better execution. My goal is to allow you spend your time on the need versus the plan. An example of how we may work: Business901 could start with a consulting style utilizing an individual from your organization or a virtual assistance that is well versed in our principles. We have capabilities to plug virtually any marketing function into your process immediately. As proficiencies develop, Business901 moves into a coach’s role supporting the process as needed. The goal of implementing a system is that the processes will become a habit and not an event.

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People & Process Drive Profit Podcast Copyright Business901

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Drive Profit thru People and Processes  

Vivian Hairston Blade, Founder, President & CEO of Experts in Growth Leadership Consulting, LLC (EiGL Consulting, LLC) based in Louisville,...

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