In this issue:

From the president

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Third Year Results from Hallmark's Revolutionary Online Experiment
Jack Welch, Gary Hamel, Fred Reichheld, Jack Mitchell, Benjamin Zander and Jeff Taylor...

Yes, I'm name dropping and with just cause. These gentlemen all gave keynote addresses at the North American Conference on Customer Management in Florida last month. There's a common theme that ran through each speaker... people - treating them with respect regardless of their role - customer or employee. Here's a few tidbits that I captured from each of these speakers.


BMW, Scotiabank, Ste. Anne's Spa,
and Fido...
What makes these companies successful?

One key reason is the experience they deliver to their customers. A second reason is their willingness to share how designing that experience directly impacts their bottom line.

These are just some of the Canadian companies who will be featured at our 2005 Think Experience Study Tour in April.

We're ramping up and ready to go with our exclusive behind the scenes tour with senior executives in these companies.

Watch your email for a link to the study tour website...



Jack's 4 e's (billed as the world's most admired business leader)
In his 20 years as CEO at GE, Jack grew the company from $13 billion to over $500 billion. One of his strategies was picking great leaders. Jack looks for 4 e's - that's energy, the ability to energize others, an edge (no maybe here) and the ability to execute (to get it done). Jack believes that people that have the 4 e's have passion. And that passion is essential for great leaders. He went on to talk about rewarding behaviour, breaking rules and a variety of other strategies but one thing he said stayed with me. He said "people are an every moment thing". He knew his customers, he knew his staff...he understood the power of working with people - he said it was 75% of his job!

Gary's "do you really know your customer" (billed as the world's reigning strategy guru)
Gary talked about how increasing connectivity and increasing processing power are drivers in an accelerated pace of change for organizations today. He asked if our organizations were changing as fast as the world around us. He said there are two things that we need to keep in mind: 1) we've got to harness the imagination of every employee and 2) we've got to reinvent our business around the customer. He talked about a Mexican company that hosts company-wide annual innovation days. And he talked about the importance of really knowing your customers so you have a clear view of what they want...AND having an empathetic emotional understanding of what it feels like to be a customer.

Fred's "in today's culture loyalty is a joke" (billed as the world's leading loyalty expert)
As author of "The Loyalty Effect" and "Loyalty Rules", it was surprising to hear Fred say that business loyalty is an oxy moron. He said it was a paradox - business is in the pursuit of self-interest and loyalty is about self-sacrifice. He did, however, go on to talk about how to promote loyalty and it starts with two strategies: 1) choosing the right people to "be" your company and 2) compensating them fairly. When these two factors are in place, your staff will treat your customers well. And when customers are treated well, they will tell their friends. The best and most powerful advertising is Word of Mouth from current customers. He said the best question to ask on a survey is not whether people are satisfied but rather would they recommend this company to their friends. One very key strategy he shared was that Bain & Co. holds elections every six months on how well the bosses live up to the company values. The bosses are ranked according to the employee votes and only the top-ranking ones are eligible for promotion. That means that at Bain, the front-line votes for who runs the company. An interesting idea, isn't it?

Jack's big hugs (CEO Mitchells & Richards)
As author of 'Hug Your Customer', Jack truly speaks from the heart when he talks about the family owned clothing business. With his measuring tape hanging around his neck, he talked about really getting to know your customers on a personal level and how important that is in the grand scheme of things. It's the little things that count - remembering your client's dog's name, their golf handicap, the brand of clothing they like - what new pieces will work with what they've already got. As Jack says, "We shower our customers with attention." He makes them feel special and customers like that. Hugging is not limited to customers - it's a culture at Mitchells & Richards where everyone regardless of their role is part of the success of the company.

Ben's Ode to Joy (billed as the world renowned conductor & leadership expert)
Ben had 1200 English-speaking people singing their hearts out in German! Now that was quite an experience...and that was after we learned to sing Happy Birthday in a new way. Ben is an exciting and masterful speaker who focuses on awakening the possibility in others. I've got to admit - he was my favourite. He encouraged us to celebrate mistakes with the phrase - how fascinating. He reminded us that leaders must have absolute confidence in the capacity of their people - no room for doubt. I could certainly do an entire article on Ben and I think I will in our next newsletter. He asked us to lead our life in possibility - it changes the way we think and the words we use. He reminded us to never say anything that cannot be the last thing you say.

Jeff's crowd pleaser (CEO monster.com)
If you haven't seen Jeff in action, you're in for a treat. He was the closing speaker for the conference and a wonderful choice for that. He's an exciting dynamic speaker with a very interactive style who talked about a simple idea with a crazy name that just keeps growing. He talked about treating staff well and how important it is that everyone understand the purpose of the company and feel part of the company. He talked about the concerns in the media about so many jobs going overseas and assured the room that it is less than 3%. He then asked how many people in the room had their resumes on monster.com then chuckled and said OK...if you're with your boss or your co-workers you may not want them to know...but I know...and there are lots of you!

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Carolyn Watt is the founder and president of The Customer Experience Company. She is passionate about customer experience and believes that the experience is formed as a result of three things: processes, communications and people. That means that you must make it insanely easy for your customers to do business with you. Your communications must be written clearly. And, your staff must deliver on the brand promises you've made to your customers.

Third Year Results from Hallmark's Revolutionary Online Experiment

Hallmark's online market research has provided some valuable lessons about the online communities that they serve. First and foremost...online communities work. The research is faster, better and cheaper. These communities even create their own social structure. But online research is not appropriate in all circumstances, so Hallmark complements this research with their more traditional approach, which they call The Idea Exchange. Read this feature article from MarketingSherpa.

December 2004 - Issue No. 22
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