Kissing Cousins; Innovation & Failure

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When clients complain my initial feeling is a blow to the gut. It hurts every time but after the initial hurt my wheels start spinning. Do we have a gap in our process? Does our technology need upgrading? There was a blog written about us on Lawyerrist.com in which we were given 3.5 out of 5 stars. While many have said the review wasn’t bad I zeroed in on the missing 1.5 stars and set to work addressing the gaps. Within weeks we improved our technology, got to work on building a mobile site and enhanced our team training.

Barbara Corcoran said “In business, failure and innovation are kissing cousins. You can’t have an innovative business unless you allow and plan for failure. It’s only through failure that you discover all the important new stuff that moves your business to the top.” It still hurts to receive negative feedback but as a business we must look for the message of opportunity to innovate.

As I look back on the wild ride this business has taken we would never be where we are today if it hadn’t been for some failures along the way. The next time a client says “We need to talk” hear the words “It’s time to innovate!”.

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3 Steps to a Fabulous Conscious Culture

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When I started Back Office Betties I wasn’t 100% sure what my service offerings would be, but I knew without a doubt what kind of culture I wanted. There is a new generation of business owners out there who are looking to create a Utopian culture and I am drinking the Kool Aid! I follow companies like Whole Foods and Zappos for inspiration and have found 3 commonalities among the Conscious Culture set.

1. The first order of business is happy employees! Happy employees bring creativity and innovation to the business. I have found that seeking a culture fit as a first priority is more important to me than matching skills. I can train on skills, but can’t train anyone to bring positive energy to the team.

2. Secondly, they offer a little extra to customers. Zappos offers surprise upgrades in shipping to next day and Whole Foods employees won’t tell you to find an item on aisle 20, they will walk you to the item and do it with a smile. At Betties, we have been known to spend time at a clients place of business answering calls with their receptionist so that we are better trained to take on their roll over call volume.

3. Lastly, companies with a Conscious Culture aren’t looking for trade offs. They are looking for win-win-win outcomes. Quicken Loans has an ISM of “Yes before No” and this is a powerful ISM that all businesses should incorporate. Before saying “We don’t do that” look for creative reasons why you should. Is there a benefit to the company? Is there a benefit to the customers? If the answer is yes, it’s time to innovate!

Does your company offer a Conscious Culture? I’d love to hear offerings of other companies that are committed to creating a win-win culture.

Fair Fight: How to throw down at the office

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Who hasn’t had a battle of words with a co-worker at one point or another? If you lack authority to fire people who annoy you then this is a must read for you! A therapist taught me many moons ago to take emotion and anger from a situation with one little sentence. When I’m angry at someone, I should look at what action is making my blood boil and then calmly state “Farrah, when you do _____, it makes me feel ____.” Ladies and gents I have been trying to use this technique for years but a funny thing happens when my blood starts boiling. I begin to lose rational thought and the therapist PC suggestions go right out the door and a “What’s up your ass?” may come flying out of my mouth to the instigator of my anger.

What usually transpires next is a battle of words royale complete with f-bombs and other niceties. After a particularly ugly fight, I had an epiphany. I have a certain fight style and it’s the same style I’ve always had and no amount of coaching from therapists has been able to change my style. I accepted that I am me and my fight style comes with me, but more importantly I realized that if I have a particular style then others must have one two.

Farrah would drive me up a wall with her constant whining. After my epiphany I realized that the screeching and whining was part of her fight style. I decided to try something different the next time we both got fired up over something. Instead of increasing my annoyance the more she started to whine I ignored the method of delivery of her grievance and instead looked for the message. When I tore away the whining I heard a real and valid concern as well as a bit of insecurity. I finally had something I could work with!

I’m not going to say I no longer butt heads with Farrah, but I don’t turn into the Hulk anymore when Farrah is at it again. I now turn into a mini Hulk, annoyed but also listening for the message behind her annoying method of delivery.

Moral of my story, ignore the method and get rid of the madness. Start winning the fights by looking for the messages and then acknowledging that you hear what the person is feeling.

Give it a try with that annoying co-worker or your significant other and let me know how it goes. Happy fighting my friends!

Betties tip of the day: Do not respond to criticism from clients!

Well not immediately. Take a little bit of time to let any hurt feelings subside before responding. When a recent client left us and stated their old service offered a specific feature I at first got defensive. After those feelings simmered down I realized what he was asking for was actually a great feature! I went to our IT director and asked if we can add this feature and we were able to roll it out within a couple of weeks.

In our leadership meeting today we discussed holding off on responding when we are feeling “triggered” so that we have time to look for the opportunity in the criticism. Not easy to do but I challenge everyone to give it a go.

Use this Kindergarten lesson to score an interview

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I just took an ad out and spent a tidy sum to recruit a new team member. I added two simple instructions and even went so far as to say to be considered you must follow the instructions. Most employers use instructions as a way to weed out applicants and I’m going to share this trick with all you job seekers.

We add the instructions so that we know not to waste our time looking at applicants who can’t follow basic instructions. This tells me right away the applicant doesn’t pay attention to details. This technique also saves hours of pouring through resumes and narrowing candidates down to those who follow instructions. My advice to those of you looking to score an interview is to read the ad carefully and apply according to the instructions. In my case I asked applicants to take an online basic skills test and to visit the website to apply via my website. 89% of the applicants replied through Indeed or sent an email to our careers mailbox instead of following the steps. If you are looking for a new job be one of the 10% who get it right and you’ll instantly give yourself a better shot at landing that interview!

FYI… Here is what I posted on Indeed… Did I leave something out? Is this unclear in any way? I’d love to read your comments on how this could have gone better.

To apply:
1. Visit https://www.backofficebetties.com/careers.html and complete the online form and upload your resume.

2. Copy and paste this link to take the following assessment. This must be completed to be considered for an interview.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/17EaTGsj5XVKshHUrKbsqth5tnJNY5y1mlm1JvLjhtTc/viewform?usp=send_form

Any applicants who have not followed steps one and two will not be considered.

Where have all the humans gone?

I called Cox this past week to get some help with my internet connection. Normally I don’t mind the RoboReceptionist re-sending signals to my modem but this time I really needed a human. I begged, I pushed 0 and the more I asked for a human the more offended Robobabe became. Eventually, she disconnected my call after begging her for a human for 20 minutes.

Why is it so hard to reach a human? Most people know that he with the best service has the competitive advantage yet companies are still replacing friendly humans with auto attendants aka RoboReceptionist. If you’re running a business with a RoboReceptionist please consider giving people the option to 0 out to a human!

Rant over…

Adult diaper salesman needed!

I received a call from a financial planner yesterday who said he is getting so busy that he can’t manage the constant distraction of the phone anymore. What a great spot to be in! The part of our conversation that brought me the greatest pleasure was when he said his wife told him to “Call Betties!”. 

We frequently see business to business referrals but this is the first time we’ve had a civilian (so to speak) know our brand and offerings and recommend us. I love that our marketing team is hitting the streets to build our brand and our reception team is working hard to give our customers outstanding service. Now that I’m seeing word of mouth marketing (WOW) pick up for our business I’ve started investigating just how big WOM is. 

My favorite WOMMY Awards recipient is Depends in the embarrassing product category. Can you imagine the interview for that marketing job? “So, tell me about your experience with adult diapers Mr. Smith.”.  Not a fun product to market, but someone has to do it and the Depends marketing team has done it well! They generated so much buzz by having celebrities like Lisa Rinna trying on Depends and showing off how great they look under clothes. Depends received a whopping 720% increase in sample requests! Wow! It goes to show how far great WOM marketing can go. 

According to WOMMA WOM marketing is 67% more effective than traditional marketing. Armed with this info I’m putting on my creative cap to think of what we can do to generate buzz that gives people something to talk about! 

Presentation Wizardry

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Betties PowerPoint Presentation Hacks:

DO – Each slide should have the title and brief summary of your points of discussion size 30 font or larger.

DO – discuss the details attached to each point of discussion instead of pasting them into the slide.

DO – Use animations and transitions to fancy up your presentation but keep them to a minimum.

DO – use a free service like WebEx to set up a meeting and record yourself giving the presentation.

DO – listen to your presentation, make changes as needed and then record again.

DO – make sure your recorded presentation gives a minute or so cushion from where you want to be. If you have a ten minute presentation make sure your recorded version is running closer to ending earlier rather than later.

DO – use humor! You don’t have to be a stand up comedian but throw in a couple funnies to lighten the mood.

DO – send the content to a PowerPoint super nerd if you aren’t great at putting them together. Betties offers this service and is happy to jazz up your presentation so all you need to do is focus on content and delivery.

DON’T – Speak in monotone. Use inflection where appropriate.

DON’T give folks too much to read on a slide.

DON’T – Present without practicing at least 2-3 times!

 

Are you a networking stud or a dud?

NetworkingAre you a networking stud or just another dud? If you are collecting business cards and trying to book appointments to push your goods you are missing the bus on what networking is all about.

Networking is about making real connections. Let’s see how this can play out… Susy Sunshine is selling cell phones. She meets three people at a networking event and none are in need of new service. Susy makes it a point to remember a little about each persons business and over the next few months refers friends and colleagues to her new networking friends. When these three folks are in need of new phones who do they call? When they hear a friend complaining about their cell phone who do they refer to? You betcha, Susy Sunshine’s cell phone company. To increase sales stop selling and start networking!