Let me know if this one sounds familiar. When at happy hour, do you or your friends typically spend time talking about the latest dumb thing that happened at work, how clueless the boss is, or how demoralized people are with their jobs? Not exactly a “happy” hour, is it?
I have several friends who work for organizations that have great missions that are very meaningful to my friends. They work hard and regularly put in extra effort because they believe in the mission and they take pride in their work. And yet, they don’t feel that their contribution is acknowledged, valued or appreciated.
Employees want to know that they are valued
It is not enough just to value the work of your teammates and employees. You need to let them know that they make a valuable contribution. You need to align your words and actions so that they internalize the feeling of being appreciated.
Words are great, but actions are better
Many leaders – from the CEO down to front-line supervisors – actually appreciate the contribution of their team. They may even say the words. But they don’t often show it. You need to demonstrate that you value the contribution of others.
Small gestures make a big difference
Demonstrating that you appreciate your employees does not require major time, efforts or expense. Sure, there is a time and place for big awards, cash gifts and bonuses. The problem is that these big ticket appreciation gestures are expense and happen quite infrequently. People appreciate them at the time, but then this feeling of appreciation quickly fades and needs to be renewed.
If you want to keep people motivated, you need to let them know that you are paying attention to the little things they do that make a big difference to the organization.
For example, do your people stay a little bit late to finish something up or stop what they are doing to help a co-worker with a problem they can’t fix on their own? Do they put in just that little bit of extra effort in a meeting or on a deliverable just because they care? Oh, and don’t forget the person who helps protect you from yourself by saying “no” when you are going off-course or taking on too much.
Get creative in showing you care
Acknowledging all of these small contributions is a great way to show that you are paying attention and that you value your co-workers, teammates, and direct reports. But what should you do?
Get creative! For most people, the act of acknowledge their contribution is more important than what they may actually receive. If you have just a couple dollars or a few hundred, you do a lot to demonstrate you care.
Technology can make all of this quick and easy. For example, using the free app Treater, you can instantly send friends a cup of coffee, free drinks, or a night out. And since you can do it right from your smart phone, you can do it while sitting at the airport, while waiting for your next meeting to start, or when waiting at the bar for your friends to arrive. It takes so little effort for you, but makes a big difference to your employee.
Want to go the extra mile? If you can find something that fits with their personal interests it not only shows that you appreciate their contribution, it also shows that you have taken the time to get to know them as a person. Does the person always comment that their kids make a mess? Why not go to Living Social and send them a free house cleaner? Are they a Civil War history buff? Why not get them a carriage ride on the Gettysburg Battlefield?
The point is, taking a few minutes to thank people on a regular basis and show them you care is quick, painless, and goes a long way to helping make them happy and productive. Oh, and it feels pretty good to put a smile on someone else’s face. Try it, you won’t be disappointed!
Things to think about
- What are all the ways you make small acts of appreciation for the little things your employees do every day?
- How could you use small gestures to acknowledge the little things that people do to help adopt to changes (new systems or processes) in your organization?
- How can you get other leaders in your organization to routinely acknowledge the little contributions of their team members?
This famous clip from the movie Office Space is a quick reminder of one of the most commonly overlooked issues when implementing IT systems – motivating people to work. And sure, Initech is a fictional company, but it actually resembles a lot of organizations with which I have worked over the years.
In this scene, the employee Peter Gibbons tells the efficiency consultants how his organization approaches motivation and the impact it has on his work efforts. Does this sound like your organization?
Watch video here.
How do you motivate people to use your IT system?
Whenever you implement an IT system, look at all things affecting employee motivation. Sometimes there are issues with compensation and incentives. Other times the management may actually be demotivating employees.
As Peter says, “I have 8 different bosses right now…so that means when I make a mistake I have 8 different people coming by to tell me about it. That’s my only motivation – not to be hassled.”
Would WIIFM motivate this employee?
Convention wisdom (which is high on convention, and low on wisdom) often says that when implementing an IT system you should try to “sell people on what’s in it for me”.
Do you think trying to sell Peter on WIIFM would work in this case? Of course not. There are bigger issues that need to be fixed here. And unless these other items are fixed, WIIFM will not work.
So, what will you do to make sure you have motivated people to use your system? Please share your thoughts and experiences with us on the Customer Success Practitioners group on LInkedIn.
Do you remember this Saturday Night Live advertisement skit with Lily Tomlin as a phone company employee?
Customer choice means vendors need to care
Now, just a few years (ok, decades) later, these same phone companies are struggling to reduce customer churn. They are (finally?) realizing that things have changed and the customer now has more power in the relationship. And customers are not afraid to use it.
SaaS vendors need to focus on keeping customers...
Like phone companies, SaaS vendors – or any vendor selling on a subscription basis – realize that reducing churn and keeping customers for as long as possible is essential to their success. Unlike the phone companies of yesteryear, they can’t hold customers hostage and just expect the money to keep rolling in.
…but what do they need to do to reduce churn?
Many organizations recognize the need to retain customers, but they are not sure how.
The secret is simple. If you want to retain customers, make sure they:
1. Are getting value from your product or service, and
2. They enjoy their experience with your organization
If you can do that, you will keep them. As soon as these two things fall short, your customer will leave.
Focus on customer success to reduce churn
Many companies have invested in improving the customer experience and increasing customer satisfaction ratings. Now they to focus on making sure customers are getting full value / benefits realization.
For many organizations, this means creating a Customer Success Management program. Customer success is not account management or even customer service. It is all about helping the customer achieve the measured benefits and ROI that is meaningful to them. It requires different methods, tools, and activities than before.
Do you have a Customer Success Management program? If not, why not? If so, how has it affected your customer churn?
Please share your thoughts and experiences on the Customer Success Practitioners group on LinkedIn.
When speaking with Customer Success Management professionals they consistently tell me they provide different CSM services depending on the customer. Even basic customer segmentation has allowed them to prioritize their efforts and adjust their services to meet the specific needs of different customer groups.
Not all customers are equalWhile all customers are important, they are not all equal. Some customers are more profitable. Some require more support and take more time. Some customers start small, but with a huge potential lifetime value, whereas others may have limited potential.
When developing your CSM program, make sure you understand both the needs and the potential value of your different customers. And then, prioritize accordingly.
Differentiate B2B or B2C
• B2B customers often have less individual control and discretion when it comes to the systems and tools they use. In addition to individual user habits, you have to navigate a plethora of organizational issues, including internal business processes, incentives, policies, procedures, technical and data quality issues.
• B2C customers tend to have a high degree of individual control and discretion when it comes to using your product or service. You may need to help them develop new habits that involve regular, sustainable use of your system.
Delivering B2B CSM services is more complex than B2C, but the revenue amounts at stake often make it a priority.
Differentiate size & budget
It will take some experimentation to determine the optimal size and budget for your CSM program. The type of CSM services you deliver will influence the number of customer success management staff you need. It will also affect things like the amount of travel (face-to-face) service vs. the amount of remote (web and phone) service.
Many CSM programs start relatively small and then grow as the customer base grows. When you building your CSM program be sure to include plans for how you will add additional capacity as your customer base changes and as their needs – and your software - changes.
Change your methods based on customer need and value
You can help customers be successful with your product or service in many different ways. For some customers, it may make sense to provide services that are largely automated and uniform. For others, especially those with a high potential lifetime customer value, you may need to provide more hands-on, customized CSM services. And, as your customers grow, you may need to adjust the level of service they receive.
Check out these great resources to help make your Customer Success Management program the best in the industry.