It's My Birthday! 4 Ways Brands Can Learn From My Tory Burch Experience

Facebook has my birthday so I assume every other retailer and their first born also has it available to make my day extra special. If they can re-target and follow me with Instagram ads using beacons after I walked into their store, then the possibilities are endless!

My birthday was just a few days ago, on December 7th. I began to receive birthday offers from stores on December 1st. Perfect timing! It made me think about how brands can take advantage of this opportunity to gain a new loyal customer or enhance the budding relationship.

“A study by Germany-based customer engagement company Hybris, conducted by Forrester Consulting, shows a gap between consumers’ expectations of personalized marketing and what marketers are delivering. The study shows that while 66 percent of marketers rate their personalization efforts as “very good” or “excellent,” only 31 percent of consumers say companies are consistently delivering personalized, cross-channel experiences.”

Based on this study and what I have experienced, I agree. Retargeting on Facebook and Instagram is standard compared to an overall personalization strategy that can deliver a birthday experience that is relevant to you, your purchase history, consistent across channels, and accessible to your employees.

Compete on experience instead of racing to the bottom of price. A birthday is the best time to make a difference. When someone is passionate about your brand and has a connection, they don’t look for the low price, they get value in other ways — like the birthday gift you send them via snail mail. I will pay more for a good quality brand that I trust.

Here is what brands need to get right in order to win the race to the top of experience. Kudos to Tory Burch for getting it right!

The Right Timing

One of the offers I received was for $10 off within the next two weeks for a service. Come on! Give me some breathing room - especially for a service that doesn’t even need to be that frequent. That offer is definitely a bigger win for the brand, not me.

I received my Tory Burch birthday email gift on December 1st with NO EXPIRATION DATE. Perfect timing!

 

The Right Offer

I recently attended the ‘Connect Shopper’ webinar hosted by Salesforce which highlights

“79% like it when they receive complementary product offers or promotions based on their purchasing histories from a retailer, indicating a desire for more personalized shopping experiences.”

In the offer content, demonstrate your personalization skills and highlight some recommendations, while also leaving the door open to purchase anything. I am a fan of the discount on total purchase as was presented in the Tory Burch offer.

The Chosen Channel

It isn’t about one channel - it is about the unified journey across all channels. As you can see from my Tory Burch birthday gift, she provides me specific instructions on how to use at the store or online. 

It is a myth that Millennials are so-called e-commerce shoppers - 23% do research in-person - higher than both Generation X and Baby Boomers! In fact, they research on every channel which means you have an opportunity to grab their attention and enhance the overall journey across all channels.

If you are communicating on several channels, save your reputation and make sure it is uniform. Another stat from the ‘Connected Shopper’ report shows 47% of shoppers feel annoyed when they receive an offer via a separate channel for the same product that they purchased in store.

If you really want to go the extra mile with the birthday gift, send it snail mail. Last year, I received a merchandise birthday and Christmas gift from Tory Burch in the mail. Apparently, I didn’t shop as much this year…

The Right Tools

Make Sure Your Employees Have Access To Information! Salesforce is a great example of a tool that provides the ability to connect to your shoppers in the right way and seamlessly across channels.

I don’t know what tools Tory Burch is using; however, I was amazed by the experience on my visit during my birthday trip to the Hamptons. I was thrilled when I saw there was a Tory Sport store in East Hampton. Since the brand is fairly new and there are only a few physical stores, we just had to stop to complete my collection of golf dresses. I am right there with the 66% who prefer to touch and feel stuff in the store. My boyfriend told me to pick out something for my birthday.

Upon checkout, I remembered that I received the birthday email; however, I was having trouble locating it. While I would expect a certain level of service at my normal Tory Burch store in NYC, I was in a different store and brand - anything goes.

Since I am a fanatic about customer experience and technology, I notice when disjointed online and offline systems cause employees pain. I was not optimistic that the systems in place would enable me to use my offer. I was pleasantly surprised when the associate was able to locate MY PERSONALIZED BIRTHDAY email and code!

The Tory Burch experience is a perfect example of how brands have an opportunity to create an advocate and loyal customer through personalization. I don't purchase Tory Burch products at department stores or other distribution channels because the experience I receive direct at Tory Burch is best.

Remember that personalization is delivered by the STORE instead of the BRAND you purchase.

The distribution model adds a whole different challenge to a brand's ability to deliver a unified customer experience. I will leave that for a future discussion.

If you are not in B2C, this can still apply to you. Recognizing your main contacts birthday at the business or the company anniversary is a great complimentary strategy for B2B businesses.

What are the best offers you have received on your birthday?

Yours Truly,

Randa Green

www.thepukkapanda.com

Why You Should Shop Local & Small All Year

‘Alexa, please place order for Charmin toilet paper’.

I wait for the smile and ‘hello’... It doesn’t come.

I wait for the satisfaction of touching and feeling my new toilet paper… I don’t get it.

Okay, toilet paper is probably not the best example - you get my point.

We recently got an Amazon Echo. While it is fantastic for the daily news briefings, the weather, and newly discovered reading of audio books from our library, I am a big fan of walking into a store for close to 90% of my purchases.

With Amazon, you are getting the price, what about the value? The value of a moment. The value of seeing someone smile other than the UPS driver that drops off your shipment just to create another box to throw in the recycling.

Here are a few reasons why you should shop local and small all year, not just on Small Business Saturday.

Establish a Personal Connection

This is my favorite. When you walk in the store, they remember you. You have the opportunity for an authentic conversation and smile. They email or text you directly about sales versus being controlled by the latest AI personalization technology.

Socialize at Community Events

After you establish the personal connection, you get to experience events at the local store which benefit the community and allow you to meet more people - and get more smiles.

Exercise and Save Money

Get off your couch and take a walk to your local store. Take an adventure on the train and interact with the real world. You will be a lot closer to your 10,000 step goal.

Save money. When you are local, you can think about it and go back on your way home from work instead of buying online and forgetting to return - after not knowing the real quality that is now the reality with fast fashion.

Limit Your Choices

One of the biggest benefits of local boutiques includes curating the best products to save you time. This is one of the main reasons I am not a fan of big box stores. See more in my post Limit Choices To Increase Sales by 600%

Instant Gratification

You can touch and feel it. I am a fan of physical touch. It is my top love language. You also get to bring it home immediately. Even if Amazon Prime got it to your door in two days, you may end up with the infamous ‘We missed you’ sticker left on your door. Or it goes missing from your hallway.

 

I am not alone. Even though there is an increase in mobile shopping, the reality is people use all channels during their journey to the final purchase. See stats in the picture below for in-store preference.

 

I encourage you to embrace local direct and small stores when possible to support the community. The experience is just so much better than big box stores.

Yours Truly,

The Pukka Panda

How Pure Barre Is Pure Brilliant - 6 Things You Can Learn From A Great Experience

In honor of my 100th Pure Barre class at Pure Barre Brooklyn in Park Slope, I thought I would share why Pure Barre is Pure Brilliant. I am no stranger to organized classes… Gymnastics through high school, Pilates, Aerial Silks, Martial Arts, Spin, and more - excluding those I took when I was young as I can assure you I didn’t critique business structure and experience until I entered the business world.

The Mind Body platform must have a monopoly on these classes as most of them use it as their system to enable payments and scheduling. What a great idea to allow the experts to focus on their core business! While they all use the same platform, it is the experience you have when you go to the class that makes all the difference.

Believe me, this franchise is killing it! Out of all of these places, I have not seen the level of experience in which you receive at Pure Barre. The branding, messaging, consistent approach, thoughtful motivation, guidance of technique, and attention to subconscious details through organization are all on point.

I am all for the statement ‘no pain, no gain’. Whether it is business, personal, or fitness - you need to push yourself to see the difference. There are no short cuts.

On my first visit, I walk into the front door to a welcome smile at the front desk. As typical behavior for me, I arrive early. I am pleased to see that it is not packed with people exiting the previous class. They brilliantly schedule 30 minutes between classes to avoid the mad rush of people at the switch of a class.

#1 Organization - Pay Attention To The Details

Pure Barre has an attention to detail and has everything ORGANIZED!

After I signed the waiver, purchased my Pure Barre sticky socks, they sit down with me to explain the concept of tucking your hips, how we will start with the most movement during the warmup and progress through each muscle group with tiny movements.

They conveniently sell everything you need to attend class in case you forgot, or just need to add to your wardrobe since you attend class so frequently. My forgetfulness is to blame for my sticky socks while the latter is responsible for my leggings and Pure Barre brand tops. I am hooked.

#2 Consistent - People, Classes, and Locations

After over 100 classes, every instructor CONSISTENTLY sits down with new students to explain the Pure Barre concept, introduces themselves, confirms there are no injuries which they are not aware of, and follows the routine perfectly for the remainder of the class. While consistent, they each add their own personality and flair to make the class unique.

Personality makes a difference at any business. I am drawn to personality. Even if I like a brand, I will not shop or do business with those that are rude. Just not my style.

One of the biggest reasons I continue to go day after day is that I am in pain EVERY SINGLE TIME, you work your muscles until they fatigue and shake - all in about 2-3 minutes per muscle group.

We start with 15 minute warm up for abs and weights.

#3 Emotional Connection - Understand and Motivate Your Audience

The MOTIVATION begins in the first part of class, and continues throughout as the instructors learn names and provide positive praise for technique well executed.

"This is your first big challenge. You have 90 seconds in this plank. This is your time. Take this time to set a goal for yourself. Leave everything else at the door..."

You have an option to use no weights, 2, 3, or 5. Whichever you choose, you will feel the pain when doing the technique properly. In fact, 3 pound weights never felt so heavy with small movements and ultra fatigue.

More MOTIVATION

"Only 30 more seconds until you are done with weights and can stretch your arms. You can do anything for 30 seconds. That's 10, 2, 3, 4..."

Your brain immediately grasps onto the CONSISTENCY and meaning of the count to 10 that ends each exercise and often feels like eternity.

The person at the front desk enters the room to help pick up our weights as we do an arm stretch with the stretchy tube. Another great example of ORGANIZATION and TEAMWORK.

Next we move into about 9 minutes of thigh work. Who is counting? Your thighs literally shake from the fatigue which proves that it is making a change.

"Down an inch, up an inch, now tuck and tuck. Down an inch, up an inch, now tuck, tuck deeper. Smile. It helps."

Yes. Yet another time when smiling does really help! There is a perfect balance of relaxation, pain, repetition, variation, and mental encouragement.

#4 Guidance - Provide An Opportunity To Learn

I learned during a recent ‘Breaking Down The Barre’, session which is free monthly at my Pure Barre studio, that you can literally take the class with your eyes closed since they provide such great verbal GUIDANCE.

Remember, if your customers are confused or don’t know how to use your product, it can lead to a poor experience. In addition to the free monthly class, Pure Barre does a fantastic job at correcting form during the class, and are available after class to assist. (Since they don’t schedule back to back classes, they are ORGANIZED to enable instructors to remain after class)

A big thigh stretch has never felt better! Just a few short minutes of drifting into la la land, and it is time to tone the butt. Or, commonly referred to as ‘The Pure Barre Ledge’. You know, the one that got Victoria Secret into all that trouble for screwing up their photo shop.

And, why wouldn’t the music be perfectly timed to all the exercises! Brilliant. I may have been caught dancing and singing to a few of the great tunes, but who is watching when you can take the class with your eyes closed?

"Close your eyes and let the music take you to the end..."

As we finish toning our butts and making funny faces from the pain, the instructor places the perfect quantity of BRANDED pink mats in the middle of the room to prepare for the deep abs part of class.

#5 Brilliance Indicator: Relaxation - Make Your Audience Comfortable

Pure Barre challenges me to RELAX my mind. If my mind starts drifting off to think about work or whatever else is going on, I lose my form.- and am luckily corrected by the  instructor. In order to get the most out of the workout, you need to concentrate and focus on the form.

The lights are dimmed at this point. DETAILS MAKE A DIFFERENCE

"Grab a mat and place it about 3/4 against the wall. Sit in a slouchy position so it feels like you are in front of the TV balancing a bowl of popcorn on your stomach. Now take your right leg and pull it up to your face..."

Okay. You will just need to go to a class to learn about this part. It is magic! You learn how to move your legs with your abs. I am not joking!

The music bumps up a bit for a faster pace of ab work against the wall.

"Now scooch that newly toned butt all the way back against the wall so there is nothing between your butt and the wall"

The lights are now turned completely off to encourage more RELAXATION.

"It's time for abs and cool down. Grab your matts and head to the center of the room... sit at the edge of your matt, legs out with a 3/4 length bend at the knees, toes together, heels apart, on your toes, now sit up straight and round your back to a c-curve.."

During cool down, the instructor drops of wipes for your ball and matt. Once again, a DETAIL that makes leaving class so much easier!

Class after class, instructor after instructor, my experience is the same each and every time! There is a reason I have gone to an average of about 15-20 classes per month since October… And, it may or may not be that they include a COMPETITIVE factor into the mix.

#6 Competition - Give Them Something To Win

Pure Barre incorporates COMPETITION into the program to MOTIVATE people in a different way. Twice in the past 5-6 months, there has been a sign up on the wall to post your name and put a sticker each time you attend a class.  When you hit the goal quantity of classes, you are entered to win - great prizes like an unlimited year of classes. The bonus is public recognition that you made your target.

As a reminder, here is why I am a true believer of why the Pure Barre franchise is Pure Brilliant, and you should either check it out or learn from their experience.

  1. Organization - Pay Attention To The Details
  2. Consistent - People, Classes, and Locations
  3. Emotional Connection - Understand and Motivate Your Audience
  4. Guidance - Provide An Opportunity to Learn
  5. Relaxation - Make Your Audience Comfortable
  6. Competition - Give Them Something to Win 

As a consumer, do you notice and appreciate these 6 areas?

As a business professional, how do you incorporate these tactics into your business? Do you have any plans to change processes to include them?

Yours Truly,

Randa Green

 

How You Benefit From Process, Trust, And Knowledge In The $335 Billion Shared Economy

This is the third and final post of a series on the shared economy, how it is similar to outsourcing, what you need to succeed, and finally my perspectives.

In the first post, I shared an intro on how the shared economy is an extension of outsourcing. Rather than outsource anything that is not your core business, the shared economy is essentially outsourcing your core business - you better do it well - or you will fail.

In the second post, I shared three things your business needs to do well to master the execution of your sharing or outsource strategy.

Now on to my personal story for how process, trust, and knowledge are applied from three different perspectives; as a business operations leader, as a member of a shared community, and as a consumer.

Business Operations Perspective

By the time we were ready to outsource our installs at Geckotech, we had established our baseline process internally. Even though the team was consistent with the defined process, the remote hands would have hiccups. Our relationship was with one vendor that managed the hundreds and thousands of partner technicians across the US.

After each install, we refined our checklist and process so we could avoid the issue in the future. As you refine your process to outsource, I suggest to build continual improvement into every process, start simple, and expect to change consistently.

We required initials to confirm areas were reviewed, provided example pictures for technicians to recreate, and NA where steps were not applicable versus leaving them blank ensured the content was not overlooked.

After we were acquired by M5 Networks, there were a lot more people to understand the process and relationship with our outsourced vendor. We went through a few more hiccups of knowledge and trust gaps.

As a solution, I planned trips to the vendor site with cross functional teams to help transfer knowledge and build trust. We produced a standard guide of expectations for each team. It was a success - The outcome was improved process, trust, and knowledge!

Shared Platform

I participate in a Shared clothing program, Closet Collective. The concept is similar to Rent The Runway or Stitch Fix; however, Closet Collective does not own the merchandise. The lenders open specific items of their closet to borrowers of the monthly service.

I started out with 10 dresses from my closet, later added 10 more items, and will continue to build my virtual closet to share with others. In fact, the top lender makes $10K per year renting out her closet.

Closet Collective has a simple process for both lenders and borrowers. The process is clearly defined from initial setup, profile and clothing posts, through monthly lending - all confirmed through thoughtful emails for each interaction.

During the initial setup, Closet Collective made a personal contact with me to establish the necessary trust required for me to feel comfortable with the process of lending my clothes to strangers. They build upon the trust monthly with consistent processes with each of my monthly rentals.

Closet Collective’s model requires very minimal training - hence a perfect opportunity for sharing or on-demand economy. I simply need to know how to print a label, put a dress in a bag, add my thank you to the pre-provided card, and drop off at the nearest USPS.

Customer Perspective

I recently ordered five different leather stickers from Anya Hindmarch from the website Farfetch. As I read, Farfetch is a platform that sells products that are sourced by independent shops around the world.

While I don’t know the back end of their systems, I can only assume they have their processes and appropriate knowledge training in place from my first experience.

By luck, I received all of them on the same day. Kudos if that was coordinated as they were all out of country. Every shipment came in a Farfetch branded box, with a Farfetch branded envelope, and a unique letter from the shop itself - which added a nice personal touch of their shop.

What companies do you think have process, trust, and knowledge nailed? Do you agree that each are important to support a consistent customer experience?

I would love to hear your input. Please give this post a thumbs up or share if you enjoyed the content. 

Yours Truly,

The Pukka Panda

What You Can Learn From A Difficult NYC Bike Ride

My first biking memory is being excited that my mom gave me a brand new red ten speed.  As I passed the police station on my first ride, I crashed straight into a red brick sign and destroyed the handle bars.

It wasn’t dissimilar from many other experiences falling on my head in gymnastics, several trips to the emergency room, and tearing a ligament jumping over an NYC puddle in 4 inch wedges.

I ALWAYS get back up - and for the most part laugh it off. Falls are both physical and mental. It is how you deal with them.

Here is what I learned about myself as an adult re-learning how to ride a bike with the clip-on shoes my boyfriend bought me promptly after I got my new Trek road bike.

It was time for my first bike ride with the new shoes to go over to his place in Astoria after work one day.

Area To Improve #1: Take Your Time

Of course I wanted to get there as quickly as possible or I may decide to take an Uber vs take on this challenge. I rushed to attach the cleats to my shoes.

Area To Improve #2: Ask For Help

If I took the time to ask for help at the bike shop that was on the way, I could have saved myself from a few bruises that day.

I walked my bike across the street to face the right direction and fell sideways literally within a few pedals.

A nice couple helps pull me up while my feet were still stuck to the pedals. When I am upright, I explain to them that it is my first time trying these shoes. We share a laugh as they had experience biking and proceed with guidance for ‘twisting’ out of the pedal before they set me free for the rest of the ride.

Area To Improve #3: Practice

I admit. I failed to listen to the guidance to practice. I only tried to remove my feet a handful of times. Apparently, that wasn’t enough. I was just ready to get going, so I did.

Strength #1: Open To New Adventures

On the side of strengths, I am not afraid to new adventures. I took on a new challenge even though I was scared.

I continue across Midtown with no issue until I had to stop at a red light on 8th Ave and 50th street. I gracefully fall over to the side promptly after I stopped.

The gentlemen on his bike next to me reaches his hand over to try to help me up unsuccessfully since I am glued to the pedals.

Another couple step in to help; however, when I tell them it is my first time using clip-on shoes, they just think I am crazy to learn in NYC rush hour.

Strength #2: Authenticity And Grace Defeats Judgement

I confirmed during the bike ride that I am definitely okay with being authentic - not phased by others judgement.  I truly looked silly each time I fell. I could have been embarrassed, concerned, or afraid to let others help me.

Strength #3: Plan B

I realize that I should be a bit more careful and could potentially hurt myself. I decide to leave one foot unclipped so I can put it down - and not fall. My plan b was successful for the rest of the bike ride across Midtown, along 2nd Avenue, over the Queensboro bridge and through Queens.  

I was excited and relieved to arrive at my destination -  frustrated, annoyed, and felt silly for having so much difficulty. On top of it all, I had to get back on the stupid bike in the morning before work and do it all over again.

After I share my horror story with my boyfriend and he looks at my shoes, I learn that I didn’t attach the cleats tightly enough so they just swiveled. Next time I try something new, I need to take my time, ask for help, and practice. Perhaps, then I will have a better first time experience.

Strength #4: Get Back On Your Feet

While I could have decided to ditch the whole effort after the first fall outside my apartment, a few bruises won’t stop me towards a goal.

I got back on my bike and rode the next morning with my boyfriend into the city. Even with my cleats on tight with his help, I continued to take a couple more falls that same week.

The scariest was the time I fell under a truck next to Central Park. Luckily, I got one foot out in time to get up on my own - with a doozy of a bruise on my bum.

That was one of several bruises that first week weaving in and out of traffic in the city. I was able to use the ‘roadkill’ bruises on my legs as an icebreaker in a product roadmap presentation.

Practice Pays Off

I am pleased to report that my continued practice has paid off. I successfully finished a century ride one month after I got the bike with only one fall. I still need to practice changing gears before tackling a big hill.

I rode across Iowa during Ragbrai last year which was over 400 miles in 6 days. No falls.

Finally, I completed the Timberman 70.3 half Ironman a few weeks later the summer of 2014. And, lucky for me, I didn’t fall or get a flat tire because I need to learn and practice how to change a tire. A race is NOT a time you can ask for help.

Thanks to my bike ride, I learned and confirmed some valuable things about myself.

Yours Truly,

The Pukka Panda

 

 

Learn Through Frequent First Time Experiences

There is something about the first experience that we don’t forget. Whether it is the first trophy, kiss, gymnastics competition, 'The First Time', or when we first learn what it feels like to be hurt - from peers, co-workers, someone we love… it shapes who we are as individuals…  The first time we experience something, we are the most vulnerable; hopefully open to learn and embrace the opportunities the world has to offer.

I personally love to try new things, embrace challenges, meet new friends, and welcome opportunities to learn and grow. Here are two recent events that remind me of the significance of first experiences.

Being Vulnerable

During a recent business trip to California, I watched ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ starring Audrey Hepburn - a personal fashion icon of mine. I am refreshed by her carefree attitude, authenticity, and positive outlook on life. She and her neighbor take a day of adventure in NYC to experience a day of ‘firsts’ - being vulnerable to both new things and about one another.  Wondering why I don’t do this more frequently, I texted my boyfriend the idea as soon as I landed…

To my surprise, Friday of that week, he planned an evening of first experiences for me in NYC; running 5 miles of interval training on a Friday evening (I typically like to run in the mornings…), walking across the Brooklyn Bridge (I had only biked), dinner at a new restaurant, and the top of the Empire State Building. I truly felt like a little kid in a candy store with the world to explore and learn - and luckily the world is a big place.

 Times Square and Bryant Park from the top of The Empire State building

Times Square and Bryant Park from the top of The Empire State building

Tough or Rewarding - It Is Your Choice

I signed up for my first Tough Mudder a few weeks ago for Saturday, August 15th. I didn’t really know the details until I watched videos a few days later… I just expected some mud, monkey bars, ropes; however, the Electroshock Therapy 2.0 particularly worried me a bit. I was secretly hoping I would nail the Funkey Monkey 2.0 with my background as a certified child monkey.

 As you can see on my face, the electric shock was not my favorite. At least it was the last obstacle. It was just a really weird feeling since you could feel it throughout your entire body.

As you can see on my face, the electric shock was not my favorite. At least it was the last obstacle. It was just a really weird feeling since you could feel it throughout your entire body.

Fast forward to past our team carpool from Brooklyn, Def Leppard jam on the school bus ride to the location, and coordinated ‘warm-up area’, it was finally our turn to be TOUGH! When we arrived at the start line, we were told to kneel down for a pep talk from Sean Corvelle, the MIC guy for Tough Mudder. During his speech, he emphasized the power of teamwork and positivity, shared Tough Mudder stories, and highlighted the importance of trying new things. 

 I am pleased to report that I successfully completed the Funkey Monkey! The monkey bars were always my favorite on the playground. Even today, I become a kid again at any playground that has monkey bars or anything to climb.

I am pleased to report that I successfully completed the Funkey Monkey! The monkey bars were always my favorite on the playground. Even today, I become a kid again at any playground that has monkey bars or anything to climb.

Sean said, "Try to do something for the first time at least once a week."

Done! The Tough Mudder was not only a great first experience, I am now inspired to try take Sean’s advice.

Whether the first experience is tough or rewarding, I encourage you to be open and think positively. You have the choice to create your own adventure, learn from each challenge, and create endless opportunities for yourself and others.

I look forward to sharing new first experiences with you all. I would love to hear about your first experiences.

Yours Truly

The Pukka Panda


Authentic Personality - The Best Way To Win & Keep Customers

For those of you that have seen Pretty Woman, it is clear that the first shopping scene is not how we win new customers or keep existing ones in any business type.

When you receive poor customer service...

A few weeks ago, while shopping, I was shocked with the lack of personality and rude nature of the store associates. While it was not exactly like the scene from Pretty Woman, it quickly reminded me of the importance of personal connections to your choice with whom you do business and interact.

Do you choose to continue giving them your business...

In a previous post, I shared three ways to create customer advocates. A company or brand can have an amazing effortless experience and quality product; however, when it does not score well in the personal connection category, it is a show stopper.

I typically choose to shop at a few of my favorite brands since I know the product quality, prefer the setup of the stores, and they fit well into my personal style. An authentic personality in interactions with favorite brands and business relations is key.

Or, do business with brands and people you enjoy... 

One of my favorite stores is Alice & Olivia. From the very first time I entered the store a few years ago, I was welcomed with smiles and authentic personalities. They grabbed my attention, kept me in the store with their friendliness, and it didn’t hurt that I felt as if the brand was made for me. While I love the brand, I am also specifically loyal to that same store I entered over three years ago. Personal connection is strong!

People choose to do business with brands and people they like. Your sales and account management teams are critical to the success and personal relationships with customers. That is not enough in the agile nature of the workforce. To maintain a strong loyalty bond, you need to keep employees engaged and happy, while you also provide a consistent message to customers via all communication channels (web, mobile, chat, phone, etc). It is equally important to create a good connection from both the brand and the individuals which communicate directly with those same customers.

Here are a few tips that come to mind which create an authentic personal connection that will help your company attract and keep customers. These tips may be altered to align with the applicable communication channel.

  • Be Approachable

  • Smile Bright

  • Show Your Personality

  • Be Free Of Judgments

Whether you use technology automation or human connection as your source of personal connection, delight your customers and include positive communication, tone, with personality to match your brand.

I know what I prefer. What about you?

Take a moment to think of the brands in your personal and professional life that you talk about most. How do they connect with your personally?

Yours Truly,

THE PUKKA PANDA

 

Motivate Winning Teams Through Perspective Training

In my last post, 'Walk In Their Shoes To Create Better Relationships And Teams', I shared the the power of learning perspective and truly connecting to people. Here is a personal story of the success I had with perspective training.

While managing the service delivery and support teams at Geckotech, I held weekly training sessions on soft skills, positive tone, team building, and such. It was a great way learn how to better service customers, carefully navigate difficult conversations, and truly understand each other as a team.

First comes the struggles

As a team, we were very good at meeting the customer deadline; however, there were times we struggled to keep all members of the team on 'Happy Street'. During those times, there were some heroic efforts of rushing each other to make that target date. If you provide a great customer experience while breaking your back or harming the team, the result is not ideal. I want win/win/win - customers/employees/vendors!

Then the opportunity

I asked what motivates them to drive reward programs that aligned with each person. We are all motivated in different ways because of our own perspectives. When we understand the perspectives of others, we can connect to the ‘root cause’ of the behaviors. My goal was to motivate them to provide the best customer experience AND team experience. 

To learn and improve

After learning the motivation of the team, I created a points program that could be exchanged for gifts (some people prefer gift to money so they don’t feel the need to spend on bills…), credit card (obvious reasons), or time off (for those with kids that often had to take more time off on school holidays, for example). The points were awarded for the 'Ideal' and 'Above and Beyond' behaviors. It was not a replacement for doing normal daily activities.

Working together

One way ‘The Team’ could jointly earn points was after each new customer implementation. The team had a customer install target date along with internal milestones that aligned to the ideal time to complete the work required in each role. The best score for the implementation was awarded when All Dates AND Key Performance Indicators were met. If the team only met the install target date to make the customer happy, it was not enough. They needed to meet the internal dates to make everyone happy. If one date was missed, it added extra pressure to other roles - which is not working together.

To create the ideal win/win/win

At the end, each person completed a survey on ‘THEIR PERSPECTIVE’ of the implementation. We had a review meeting to discuss the results. It was a great exercise for the team to learn the perspectives of each role. In the end, it made the team respect one another more and work better together to provide the best customer experience. 

Yours Truly

ThePukkaPanda

 

Walk In Their Shoes To Create Better Relationships And Teams

Walk In Their Shoes To Create Better Relationships And Teams

If you have seen ‘50 Shades of Grey’, it is a great example of understanding how different events shape our life and behaviors.

Now on to the story. 

I read the book 3 Laws of Performance several years ago. It is a great lesson on situational leadership, connecting to your team, and breaking personal and professional barriers. The stories in the book are eye opening and amazing! While the book has several other key messages that are important, the motivation for this article is understanding perspective and how you can create better relationships and teams through 'Walking In Their Shoes'.

Mastering customer service, among other areas in life, requires understanding the psychology of people. It is truly caring about what drives behavior for your customers, employees, peers, and others. It is not Rocket Science that being authentic and creating a personal relationship is what people desire. It is also learning the subconscious, the unknown, and the events that shape how we live our lives. It is learning and connecting to perspectives.

I continue to use this approach in both professional and personal relationships. On a personal note, I can think of several events that have shaped who I am today. There is not one specific event that sticks out, which is probably true to most of you. It is how you approach the events with yourself and others that can make a difference in performance. 

In the next post, I will share a personal story about how I used perspective training to improve the performance and relationship with my team.


I would love to hear your story. 

  • Have you ever thought of perspective training within your organization?
  • Do you take the time to authentically connect to your team, customers, and friends to relate?
  • Have you had any breakthroughs from asking the right questions to understand the ‘root cause’ of someone’s behavior?

If you have not tried to truly understand the perspective of others before making a judgement, gossiping, or other getting upset, give it a try! I bet you will have a new perspective and a happier moment.

Yours Truly,

The Pukka Panda


To Wearing Many Hats

To Wearing Many Hats

Both at work and for an accessory

In a startup environment, you get to wear many hats. As the first employee at a successful Cloud SaaS provider startup, Geckotech, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to learn all areas of the business. 

As organizations mature, varied options to actively help across departments and levels of empowerment create boundaries that impact the overall efficiency. In our world of rapid technology changes, constant communication, access to global talent, and information at our fingertips, organizations must be agile.

Holacracy fundamentally changes the way workers organize around work: there is an explicit distinction made between Roles and Souls — a description of the work to be done and the people who do it. An individual worker may hold many Roles. Roles working together on related work are grouped together into teams called Circles. Each Circle has a leader (Holacracy’s analog to a manager) called the Lead Link.
— Medium.com/Undercurrent

Why limit people when expertise can be leveraged in all areas and adapt with the business? Holacracy streamlines decision making using objections to proposals vs. consensus from everyone. It includes built in checks and balances and gives everyone empowerment as a leader. Not only does this structure allow people flexibility, the organization remains agile with the ability to define minimal roles required to achieve the current initiative.

Known for its employee focus and ‘Wow’ customer service, Zappos publicly announced its Holacracy adoption. Tony Hsieh comments on why they chose Holacracy.

Research shows that every time the size of a city doubles, innovation or productivity per resident increases by 15 percent. But when companies get bigger, innovation or productivity per employee generally goes down. So we’re trying to figure out how to structure Zappos more like a city, and less like a bureaucratic corporation. In a city, people and businesses are self-organizing. We’re trying to do the same thing by switching from a normal hierarchical structure to a system called Holacracy, which enables employees to act more like entrepreneurs and self-direct their work instead of reporting to a manager who tells them what to do.
— Tony Hsieh

In the end, whether an organization chooses to remain in a basic top-down hierarchy, adopt cross functional best practices like ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library), or embrace the distributed authority system of Holacracy - roles need to be clearly defined and aligned to the initiatives.

What are your thoughts on Holacracy?

Yours Truly

THEPUKKAPANDA

Website quote references:

Undercurrent

Zappos

Picture from Zappos link 

Pollyanna Promotes The 'Glad Game' - Power of Positive

I remember a time at work when I was told I was the happiest and most positive person, which I accept as a compliment. As this was shared during a team dinner, I told the story of Pollyanna and her use of 'The Glad Game’ to influence an entire community. One of my favorites from childhood, I was shocked that not one person in the group had seen the movie.

Not only had they not seen it, one colleague informed me that being a ‘Pollyanna’ is viewed negatively. What? I was in even more shock! Or perhaps I heard it and did not believe it based on my interpretation of the character.

What is the a desire behind over analyzing a character to find a flaw? Let's encourage people to look for the good. I will have a section of my blog, “Gladly Green” to keep the spirit of the glad game alive. 

Positive perspective and optimism do not require a complete disconnection from reality - as some articles comment. Maintain a positive approach to a project at work while also understanding the details to drive and collaborate the team(s) to success.

In honor of 'Pollyanna', I created my version of the 'Pollyanna Look' today - with a quirky twist.


“Nothing is further from the truth. Turns out, Pollyanna was right! The positive power of gratitude has been overwhelmingly proven by science. People who are consciously grateful are more energetic, more determined, think more clearly, think more methodically, make more progress towards goals, have more resilience during tough times, and are more optimistic, enthusiastic, and joyful. As if that wasn’t enough proof, the grateful are have fewer illnesses, greater immune response, and even exercise more.”
— selfgrowth.com
We’re living in a moment of total happiness obsession, in other words, and Pollyanna is our perfect mascot. Her “glad game” goes beyond simple positive thinking. Pollyanna isn’t always cheerful; she cries over disappointments large and small, and initially refuses to play the game when she suffers a major tragedy. It’s not that she’s naturally the world’s greatest optimist; rather, optimism is a tool she uses to make herself happy. Her gladness is Gladwellian: It’s not a state of mind, but rather a skill that becomes stronger with practice. As the freckled little guru herself put it, “When you’re hunting for the glad things, you sort of forget the other kind.” Welcome to the 21st century, Pollyanna. You’ll fit right in.
— The Atlantic

In Seth Godin's post, he compares Cassandra and Pollyanna. I would rather be the Pollyanna. An optimistic view can influence positive interactions and teamwork  - it doesn’t always indicate everything is fine.

To form your own opinion on the 'Pollyanna Principle', watch the movie for yourself. 

What do you think?

Yours Truly

THEPUKKAPANDA