Our days are governed by time, and the concept of time zones around the world can be quite daunting. If each time zone were 1 hour apart, there would be 24 in the world. But several time zones have only 30 and 45 minutes offsets, making the total number worldwide much higher, so there are 37 different time zones! With the Referential team being dispersed across several continents we have to be very mindful of the time when reaching out to our own team as well as customers. But with this spread, we can be productive and assist our clients across most of the 24hrs in any given day.I’m always a little edgy when sending out a meeting invite to a customer, have I calculated the time difference correctly? I think we have all experienced that oh so embarrassing event of phoning someone at some antisocial hour only to find they are stirring from a deep sleep to answer your call…once is enough and we will do all within our power to never have to go through that again!Have you ever had to arrange a meeting where there are several attendees, all in different countries? You know how confusing it is too, trying to align a time that works for everyone, and being respectful of trying to keep things within business hours, working out what are the business hours in that particular country, as much as one can. It can be a challenge!Also, throw into the mix the switch between Summer and Winter time. Some countries make changes before others, which means connecting with the rest of the world a little daunting! Your usual weekly meetings are not at the ‘usual’ times, and you either end up dialing frantically into a call, when prompted on Skype by a kindly colleague who notices you missing, or sitting on an empty line as you realize you are the only one who is 60 minutes too early!I use this great little tool, World Time Buddy – it has certainly proven to be my ‘buddy’ on a many an occasion!In a few weeks time, the whole Referential team will be getting together for our regular 6 monthly meeting at US head office in San Jose. It’s a chance for us all to be in one place, see each other face to face (rather than on webcam), brainstorm, bond and, for once, not have to think about time zones before reaching out. Its amazing, although we are spread far and wide around the globe, we never feel like there are thousands of miles and varying numbers of minutes between us.
You may have heard that the average adult makes about 35,000 decisions a day! Of course tracking that to a credible source is difficult, if not impossible, but I think we can all agree we make many, many decisions on a daily basis. Each one is an opportunity for distraction and can impact your productivity. Benjamin Hardy, author of Willpower Doesn’t Work: Discover the Hidden Keys to Success, says you need more than willpower to stay on track. His suggestions are summarized in this post by Trello.
- Commit and then work your environment to facilitate that commitment
- Minimize the number of decisions you need to make each day
- Know your distractions and plan for them
- Enlist support.
The article is a quick read and has valuable examples and suggestions. If you’re prone to distractions take the time to read it and see what steps you can take today to improve your productivity.
Like podcasts? Here's a list of 15 top business podcasts from Lean Labs. Listen while you run, while you drive, while at the grocery store, or even on your commute. The audio format gives tremendous flexibility. If you listen to podcasts today, these 15 probably include old favorites and no doubt new ones to add to your list. If you aren’t part of the 40 million that listen to podcasts weekly maybe it’s time to give it a try!
This isn’t the only list of great business podcasts. A quick google search will show you lists from other organizations or more focused sets of choices. Interested in product marketing or business development or entrepreneurship? There are podcasts for just about any other topic you can think of. If you aren’t already a fan try this easy way to fit learning, and even entertainment, into your day.
Hard to believe but we are half way through the year. Time for mid year check points not only with employees but also with clients. We just completed a round of client reviews. Simple format – one slide with goals for the client and progress in the first half, plus a second slide with action plans should there be any issues and comments about what is expected in the second half. These reviews complement the monthly metrics and client checkpoints that we also do. In addition to a checkpoint of first half results, we also looked at statistics which allow us to compare client performance to industry norms. We looked at everything from what percent of customers contacted agree to participate in advocacy programs to how long does it take to fulfill an average request for advocate participation.
It’s good to take a step back and assess. Each team has done very well in the first half and is looking forward to an even more impactful end to the year. The reviews are always a valuable experience. There is a chance for learnings that we can bring to all clients, valuable insight to share with our lead contacts, and there were many pats on the backs for jobs well done! The first half has been full of amazing accomplishments and huge financial impact for our clients. Looking forward to even greater success in the second half of 2018!
This blog post is one of about 2.5 million that will be published today. A number that is growing. So how do you find quality content? Specific to content marketing blogs this article from SnapApp offers a good starting point. They scoured the web, reviewing blogs based on quality, frequency, and reader engagement and came up with a list of 109.
Now 109 is still a lot but they have divided them into 14 categories – social media, account based marketing, and marketing technology , to name just a few. In addition, there is a short description of each and a link to a recommended post. With this list you are bound to find helpful sources of information.
How many will you start to follow? Which are already on your favorites list?
One of the most gratifying activities we get involved with is creating a successful award nomination – nothing beats seeing the look on a client’s face when they learn that they just won a major award!
We collaborate with our clients to target specific industry awards for the coming year and then work with account teams to identify noteworthy candidates; either individuals, teams, or whole companies. We typically then do a short interview with the lead nominee and put together a submission for the individual award. Then it’s out of our hands!
We have a stellar track-record for nominations that get picked as winners and category finalists. We are very proud to have Deutsche Bank win a very prestigious award for an IT Risk Management project at a ceremony just held in Munich – the recipient notified us from the banquet hall floor! See their photo below. We also were delighted to hear that Johnson & Johnson received one of the top prizes at the latest Dell annual conference. However, not all our submissions are for large corporations: We championed a regional consumer services provider and were equally excited to be notified that they will be presented with the “Best in Class Contact Center” honor at a major industry event to be held in June in the US. All three happened in the last month and all were nominations written by our mangeing partner, David Feber.
Irrespective of the ultimate outcome, we repeatedly see major returns from even just submitting a client for an award – all too often people don’t get positive feedback, so being nominated is understandably viewed as being a huge deal! We’ve found that for a modest amount of work, the payback is dramatic and the sense of goodwill lasts for a long time – we highly recommend it!
At Referential we work with clients from all over the world and we have staff in the US, the UK, and India. There are many similarities between the way business is conducted throughout the world, but there are also differences that need to be considered. There are differences in greeting style if meeting face to face, how to address others in correspondence, communications may require an interpreter, and varied meeting structures to name a few. Some business cultures are quite relaxed in style, while others are serious or regimented. As Advocacy Consultants we spend a lot of time corresponding with people globally, so to avoid confusion it’s important not to use slang expressions or local idioms that could be misinterpreted. We need to be mindful that in some countries people expect to be addressed formally. For example, in Germany and The Netherlands it is standard to address people using their academic title. Someone with a PhD should be addressed as Doctor and titles should be used until you are given permission to use their first name. When in doubt, erring on the side of formality is safest.
In order not to offend the people you are interacting with, it is important to consider and adapt to how business professionals operate in different parts of the world. There is no global standard of business etiquette. What might be commonplace in one culture could be unusual or even offensive in another. Where possible, do your research in advance of professional interactions with international clients. When in doubt, ask. People are very helpful and like to advise about what is and isn’t acceptable in their culture.
Derin Cag at Richtopia provides a very enlightening article and infographic to further illustrate this topic. Share your insights into business differences around the world!
The Forbes Communication Council recently shared their ideas for documenting communication processes. Those processes are often fundamental to business success and once in place will allow you to act quickly and even scale smoothly. They share an eye-opening stat that communication breakdowns can cost businesses as much as $37 billion a year! The 14 council members each share a tip. Whether it’s ‘Start with the Basics’, ‘Create a Handbook’, or ‘Know Who to Ask and When’ the ideas are sound and with information on how it’s helped council members or how they implemented the idea internally. Council members span universities to high tech companies like Cisco and Microsoft. Obviously successful organizations we can all learn from! It’s a quick article that is sure to give you ideas to improve your documentation as well as your communication processes.
Being productive every day is a challenge. The challenge is nearly tripled if you work remotely, because home and work never seem like separate entities. The freedom of working from home is tough for some employees to adjust to. And as remote work is becoming more and more popular, I thought I would put together some tips to maximize your productivity as a remote employee.
Create a routine
Setting up some structure for your day is very helpful. I work off my bullet journal, designed to track my goals and accomplishments. Every night before I head to bed, I make a list of tasks I need to accomplish the next day. Throughout the day, I track how much time each task takes, shuffling my priorities as needed. At the end of the work day, I reflect on which tasks I completed, and identify what I did well and what needs work.
Find a workspace
Have a designated space to do your work. You’ve probably heard of aspirational stories of people who move country to country, living the life as a digital nomad. The truth is, being on the move is a productivity killer. Dealing with accommodations, WIFI connections, and low energy levels can decrease work efficiency.
Upon moving to Seattle, I found that working remotely allowed me to feel more local. As I worked at various coffee shops, libraries, and cafes, I was able to explore the city in a way that boosted my creativity and productivity.
Have designated work clothes
The mindset “look good feel good” really comes into play as a remote worker. While you may not technically need to get out of your pajamas, I recommend getting dressed in “work clothes” each day, to get into the right frame of mind.
Wearing work clothes around the house will also limit your temptations to complete midday chores, like cooking and cleaning. Those types of mental boundaries help avoid distractions and keep you productive for longer stretches of time.
Keep in touch
You’ve heard of the old phrase “out of sight, out of mind,” right? Unfortunately, remote workers can suffer from this, unless they make an effort to stay in touch with their boss and co-workers. With email, instant message, and shared spreadsheets, there are a myriad of opportunities to stay connected. The challenge is making a point to stay connected, to reassure employees you are there for them, and working as expected.
Let us know
Few employers train remote employees on how to be effective throughout the day, let alone explaining how to boost their creativity. Try out some of Hanita's tips and see what works for you! Leave a comment with additional tips and tricks.
In the global market most of us work in, the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that replaces the Data Protection Directive will impact everyone. This important site outlines what is coming...are you ready? The site’s homepage includes a countdown clock to enforcement, 25 May 2018 is right around the corner. The GDPR applies to organizations in the EU of course but also to all organizations, anywhere, that offer good or services to, or monitor the behavior of, EU subjects. It applies to your organization, regardless of location, if you process or hold personal data of subjects in the European Union.
Non-compliance is a serious matter, the fines can be substantial. All organizations need to be prepared for this change. The site linked to above has resources to help you learn more.
Robert Half did some research and the data shows sports does impact productivity at work. On the day after big sporting events large percentages of people call in sick or are late to work. The over 1,000 workers surveyed admitted to spending about 27 minutes a day on sports-related activities before a major sporting event. Olympics, March Madness, World Cup Soccer, and NBA playoffs are just a few major sporting events that are particularly popular and just on the horizon.
But it’s not all bad news: Sports can also contribute to teamwork. We focus on sport as a way to get everyone involved in a common activity, to come together and celebrate. We have an office fantasy football league. We’ve been known to play some World Cup games on our big screen too. Lunch time and afternoon tea break (yes, come visit, we have tea in the afternoons) can coincide with sporting events or be the time to manage that fantasy team.
You don’t have to loose the productivity, instead look for ways to foster teamwork and impact morale!
We are interviewing our clients and their customers all the time. Each discussion about how our role with the client might expand is really an interview. Each call with a potential advocacy program member is an interview. Lots of them, every day. This article from the Content Marketing Institute, written by Clare McDermott, “Perfecting The Art of the One-on-One Interview”, is full of useful ideas and links to even more ideas. McDermott divides the article into sections: how to prepare for the interview, how to begin the interview, and how to hit your stride. Each section has great information. Depending on your level of interview experience this may serve as a refresher or be full of new information. We’re sure that even the expert interviewers among you will learn something new. Reading this article is well worth your time.
Let us know what you learned or how the article reinforced something you’ve always thought important. Leave a comment, below.
Are you part of a B2C company? If you’re not, you no doubt interact with them as a consumer, so the following is relevant to all of us. A recent Salesforce blog post titled, “Micro-Moments to Transform the Customer Experience”, starts off with a bang: "According to the fourth annual "State of Marketing" report, here, brands are increasingly competing on customer experience. In fact, 52% of B2C customers are likely to hop to the competition if you aren’t delivering a personalized experience."
52% is an astounding number. The article focuses on “micro-moments”, a term credited to Google. Micro-moments are all those time consumers turn to their mobile devices to answer an immediate question. They are key opportunities to present a great customer experience and even to increase customer loyalty. Each time we look for a review, check on status of a shipment, pull up tickets on our phone and so forth are key elements of our relationship with any business, including yours.
The blog post has stories from many different companies about how they are using these micro-moments to improve the customer experience. It’s worth a read, it may spark a great idea for your company!
Friday of a long week and thoughts go to the weekend. Often of fun times with family and friends, maybe just a chance to fully relax. And then there is this article from Inc Magazine titled: “Do You Do These 4 Weekend Habits That Set High Performers Apart From Everyone Else?” It makes one think if a change to the weekend could mean a more productive and even a more relaxing week. The article says high performers do the following over their weekends:
· They visualize their success
· They review their KPI’s
· They develop specific goals for the week
· They adhere to the 1% rule (improve 1% each day and over time you will see big gains)
The article is worth a read, it’s short and the time will pay back dividends. Get a bit more detail on each of the 4 habits. Do you do these things now? If not, choose one to start with and let us know the impact on your week!
(We just returned from the Cyber Defense Summit 2017 in Las Vegas. Leading up to the Summit we worked with customers to create videos and quotes that were used throughout the event. Our trip to Australia to film customers resulted in such great content we expedited processes and went from filming in one country to showing our videos on the main stage of the event 12 days later!
Love this photo, Freud Alexandre, the Enterprise Architect and Security Manager for the City of New Orleans (and one of our favorite people!), was so happy to be featured he autographed his banner. That is the signature of approval! What we like to see with all our customer deliverables.
National Cyber Security Awareness Month was created as a collaborative effort between government and industry to ensure everyone has the resources they need to stay safer and more secure online. This marks year 14! The website has a wealth of resources from tip sheets to suggested social media posts and links to training and educational resources. There is a great infographic here about how to get involved. Each week of the month has a unique theme from online safety to protecting infrastructure from cyber threats. The site is a great resource, visit to learn more. We're all responsible in keeping our personal, company, and client information safe, make sure you are well informed. Staysafeonline.org is a great place to start.
This recent blog post from 4Imprint about dress codes was interesting. In general, attire is much more casual than it used to be. Of course that varies dramatically by region, by industry and other factors. We do have a dress code in our employee handbook and we do talk to new hires, especially recent college grads, about what is appropriate to wear to the office, what is appropriate to wear to events where they are representing us or our clients, and what to wear in casual work situations. College really doesn’t teach that! The blog post recommends an employee fashion show, illustrating clothing dos and don’ts. We gathered photos from various places for our own do or don’t wear illustrations. Being specific, with photos or a fashion show, helps ensure everyone has a common understanding of what is appropriate for your company and what you mean when you say terms like “business casual”. Two of the sentences of our dress policy often referred to are: “A good rule of thumb is that if you are not sure if something is acceptable, choose something else or inquire first. Also, it is generally better to be overdressed than underdressed.” Both are good points to keep top of mind.
We are a professional consulting team which is reflected in the work we do and also in how we present ourselves. In office or off site client meetings call for professional dress while Fridays are often more casual. It is rather nice to see a suit and tie once in awhile! Does your company have a dress code?
Longer attention span: your target audience or a goldfish? Hard to believe but the average person’s attention span is now shorter than that of a goldfish! An article in Time Health quotes a Microsoft study which shows a human will pay attention for 8 seconds and a goldfish for 9! Our digital lifestyle may make us better multitaskers but we’re also easily distracted. There is a lot of content out there, coupled with short attention spans, it’s not easy to stand out from the crowd.
This post from RO Innovation makes the case that video can be the way to go instead of the case study format. Our brains actually process video faster than text.
Think about how video might work for you as you share stories of your customers and your brand. Our clients have a clear need for written content but we’re seeing an increase in the desire for video. Often times our interviews will become both short and compelling video pieces and a complimentary case study with greater detail. We’re about to send a team to Australia for a second time this year to create video and written case studies for our clients. There are a lot of interesting customer stories among Australian businesses! Whether your customer is in Australia or right next door, think about the format which will tell their story best.
Hard to believe it but school is about to begin for our interns, and school starting is often seen as the sybolic end of summer. It’s been great having them with us. Two are employees of one of our clients, which we have hosted in our office, and one we claim as our very own. So many benefits, for both them and us. They have learned much of the ins and outs of customer advocacy but that’s only the beginning. With very little experience in an office beforehand they also learned communication skills, how to dress, business etiquette for meetings, and that lunch with your friends might allow for a different set of manners than when in a work setting. They all go to great colleges but there is a lot about day to day behavior in the workplace that they have no way to learn until they are in the workplace!
We benefit as well. Nothing like having your documentation tested by someone with fresh eyes and that has never used any of the referenced applications! We’ve been able to accomplish much more with their help. While we might have to do some teaching or reviewing they have been able to contribute from day one, allowing us to get to ‘wish list’ projects. Having interns also provides a growth opportunity for Referential staff. Mentoring others is valuable experience and we did match each intern to staff for the bulk of their work.
Being honest, we’re looking for a great pool of talent to help us not only in the summer but throughout the school year and just possibly to join Referential, or one of our clients, once they graduate. We’ve had interns for years and the set we have now is great, we’ve been very happy to work with them. And we must thank them for introducing us to a wonderful fried chicken restaurant, another benefit!
Our partner, Influitive, has a variety of great resources for those in the customer advocacy field. One is recent research from IDC, The Role of Marketing in Customer Advocacy which you can download here. The world has changed, how buying decisions are made has changed, and customer advocacy is more crucial than ever for continued business success. The report has interesting commentary and charts about how advocate marketing staff splits their time among their many responsibilities and which advocate marketing tactics are most common. There is also discussion of common barriers and suggestions for key success metrics. The research concludes with recommendations for success.
This is worth a read. Let us know if the content resonates with you. Is this is what you are seeing in your industry, with your clients? Interested in your thoughts!