Technical mastery is not enough to be competent

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On “Consultancy lesson from Winston Wolfe” I talked about how consultants are not, and should not try to be “must-know-it-all encyclopedias with a solution for everything” that “are available within the hour” and “make problems go away in no time“.

Another crucial principle that consultants should always follow is that technical mastery of their specialist discipline is not enough to come across competent, and deliver good service and/or advice to a client. You need to earn their trust and confidence.

To do that, consultants must value the relationship with the client, more than the transaction in hand. However big it may be, it could be the only one you get, in case you are not able to create a long-standing and trusted relationship with your client.

Consultants invest in improving specialist technical skills, focus on acquiring experience, and work hard on building a network of contacts. But rarely spare enough time creating and nurturing trust relationships with clients. Majority don’t even know how to do it.

Here are a number of things you should follow if you want to build trust and confidence:

  1. Focus more on the client (and the problem), less on yourself (and your skills)
  2. See your client as a person (John Smith), and not just a role (Head of Operations)
  3. Listen more (understand challenge and concerns), talk less (don’t assume)
  4. Do the right thing (for your customer), not what’s best for you
  5. Personalise your delivery, don’t give “blanket” answers or on-size-fits-all solutions
  6. Be honest and transparent (even if truth is hard), don’t hide issues or say it’s all easy
  7. Make yourself always available, accessible and reachable

Customer-centricity, humanity, integrity, reliability, dependability, responsiveness (among other characteristics) are, more often than note, more important than technical mastery, when it comes to deliver outstanding service and successful outcomes to clients, creating long-standing win-win trust relationships.

Gestures that turn customers into advocates

This week I received an email from the company where I have my car insurance – Admiral – and the subject was “Important information about your Admiral policy”.

Past experience tells customers that an email with this subject rarely brings good news. It usually is to inform that premiums went up, or something of that nature.

But the content of the email was rather surprising. Admiral was telling me that due to COVID-19, and the lock-down measures, there was less cars on the road.

This obviously resulted in fewer claims. So Admiral decided to pro-actively issue premium refunds to their customers. How cool is that?!

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There are a lot of great things about this gesture of goodwill, as well as the way it was communicated, delivering an outstanding Customer Experience.

  1. The gesture is not common in the industry; Surprises the customer with good news in a time of crisis; And puts some money in the pockets of some customers in need.
  2. It shows that even in during a crisis, and whilst the company is dealing with enormous challenges, they are still thinking of the customer.
  3. The communication is personalised, direct, simple and to the point; It not only says how much will be refunded, but is transparent re. the calculation done.
  4. To avoid confusion, anxiety or frustration, it also clarifies how it will be done; And when the customer can expect the refund.
  5. For customers who may need further information, a landing page was created admiral.com/stayathome where it is also easy to get in touch.

I have researched a lot when looking for a car insurance, and one of my criteria was Customer Experience – it seems like Admiral is living up to the positive reviews and brand promises.

I am a loyal customer that, on the back of this experience, turned into an advocate.

Your technology selection approach is broken!

When it comes to choose and buy technology to enable business outcomes, far too many companies still use the same approach of consulting analyst reports, building and issuing RFx, going through long selection and purchasing cycles.

This approach is broken. It is a waste of people’s time and effort, as well as businesses’ money. And, more often than not, it doesn’t provide the desired outcome: the smooth implementation and adoption of a technology that is fit for purpose.

It worked well when technology pricing and licensing models were expensive, required a huge investment in infra-structure, and demanded implementation cycles of many months (sometimes even years). That is history!

Today’s technology platforms pricing and subscription model derisks decisions. Businesses can select a technology; subscribe to it for a very small amount of money and period of time; implement it in a matter of weeks; and prove or disprove its value and adoption.

G2 was created to help change the paradigm, and move the technology selection process to the 21st century – by allowing “real” people to review the technology platforms, rather than just leaving that to a select group of “biased” analysts.

I have said it more than once. What works for consumers must work for companies as well. Purchasing business technology should be as easy and effortless for company’s decision makers, as buying consumer products or services is for all of us.

That is also why G2 came to play a crucial role. It provides “unfiltered reviews” from people who actually use the technology solutions or platforms. More than that, G2 made it simple, clear and easy to navigate and understand, leaving behind jargon.

Furthermore, it innovated! And this post is also to praise them for the creation of the category that looks into Experience Management Software products – where we see Qualtrics (miles away from competition) and Medallia in the Leaders quadrant.

20200515 G2 Crowd - Grid - XM Q2 2020

Employee Engagement and Technology after COVID-19

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The world evolves every day, but some events make certain changes come abruptly. In the 20th century, things were never the same after the second World War. And no doubt things will change for good now, after this COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the things that will change is the way we work, and where we work from. Many companies will realise that they no longer need to pay whopping rents for offices in the centre of capital cities, as people can be as efficient working remotely.

But if the cost saving will be good news for companies, and the avoidance of daily commutes will please employees, the situation will pose some challenges, namely around two key things: employee engagement and technology.

1. Employee Engagement

The experience of working for a company will be completely different if people work remotely and don’t have much face-time – for internal meetings, client workshops, even coffee-breaks or team building activities.

In a not completely unlikely situation, people could even spend their whole tenure at a company without physically meeting their colleagues. We see today, many people being interviewed and hired over video-conference.

So the paradigm for Employee Engagement needs to change. HR and XM specialists will be asked by companies to come up with different ways of getting their employees to “feel the company”,live the culture” and “wear the jersey“.

This will impact the strategy, approach, and tactics used in current Employee Experience programs – be it lifecyle (e.g. on-boarding, exit), 360, or pulses. And technology will play an even bigger role in the enablement of this.

2. Technology

But if things change the way we envisage, and more companies and people adopt remote work, technology will no longer be just an enabler (something that makes it possible for a particular thing to happen or be done), it will be pivotal.

Employees will not be able to do their work without technology – I’m thinking not only of Software but also of Hardware. And this will demand technology companies to develop their platforms and devices even further, making them more powerful.

What we achieved, technology-wise, in the last 2 decades (since the Personal Computer and the World Wide Web got married) is absolutely astonishing. With that, remote working today wasn’t possible. But technology is only developing at a possible pace.

The expectation is that this crisis and the changes that will come as a consequence of it, will give a gigantic push for technology development to accelerate massively, and for its power to become unthinkable… but necessary to cope with the new normal.