Category Archives: #marketing

Yikes! How Do We Tame the Elephant in the Room?

You, too, can tame the elephant in the room

You know that feeling you get in your gut when a difficult subject needs to be addressed and you suddenly become the world’s master of procrastination. Is there an elephant in the room? What do you do if:

  • The customer service center was unable to handle the volume of inbound leads generated by your Facebook campaign
  • You hit “reply all” on a conversation which included sensitive subject matter intended only for “reply to sender”
  • An entire electronic file appears to be missing and the intern is still working on updating the documents
  • Cash is missing or you realize that someone chipped the heirloom figurine and neglected to tell you
  • Your toddler, who is in the middle of toilet training, decides to show off their new skills in the toilet remodeling department of Home Depot (Just saw this LOL scene on TV)

No matter how much training you have in mediation or facilitation, these sorts of situations are rarely viewed as light-conversation. Unaddressed, these issues foster confusion and make everyone distracted, preoccupied and sometimes fearful. All of these emotions waste valuable time and hamper productivity.stresses business

Wikipedia describes the elephant in the room phrase as “an obvious truth that is either being ignored or going unaddressed….. an obvious problem or risk no one wants to discuss”…..

Recognizing the elephant is an important first step, however the real finesse comes in acknowledging  the elephant in a manner that allows everyone to feel comfortable enough to participate in the discussion and then to move past it. Let’s take a look at some of the ways that we can tame the proverbial elephant in the room”

  1. Open up the discussion by expressing the issue and inviting input from others. To do this effectively necessitates that you share your views with little or no emotion. Why? Because emotions are contagious and at this point, you are looking to ask others to share.
  2. Asking others to share their viewpoint displays consideration for their perspective. Stop and listen – really listen to what they say. Acknowledge their input and demonstrate a sincere interest in their comments. Creating an environment where someone feels like they can share allows you to discuss a potentially “forbidden” subject and sets the tone for continued dialogue. As the dialogue continues, you collect more information that can be used for a reality check.
  3. Do a reality-check: Is this really an elephant or can we resolve this with less drama? Your attitude on this may set the tone for others and alleviate stress or awkwardness. Honesty expressed in a calm and thoughtful manner can help to disarm the elephant.
  4. Be honest, direct and convey confidence. A difficult issue becomes an elephant in the room when it is ignored, despite everyone being aware of it. By naming what others may be avoiding, you will transform the elephant into an obstacle—obstacles are far less overwhelming to the psyche to handle and move off of.
  5. Move forward: Thank everyone for their inputs. Summarize the next steps. Ask others to concur with your summary. Where possible, ask others to take on a responsibility that increases the likelihood of maintaining harmony

Deep breath. You can tame the elephant in the room and move forward.

A version of this posting was made on the MENG blog in Nov 2013.

Water Bottles on Demand

water bottles

Give a man a fish and he eats a meal; Give a man a fishing rod and he feeds himself forever. Give a man a bottle of water and he can drink throughout the day. Maybe…..however it is worth taking note of the modern version of a hotel water fountain. It certainly makes it easier for us to stay hydrated in an environmentally-friendly format throughout the day.

Here’s an interesting water bottle factoid: “According to the Container Recycling Institute, 86% of plastic water bottles used in the US become garbage that ends up in landfills throughout the country. Considering that approximately 60 million plastic water bottles are used every day in the US, we can assume that nearly 18,834,000,000 end up in the landfill each year. Each bottle can take up to 700 years to decompose.” (Source)

Are you using a singular water bottle throughout the day — one that you carry with you and refill as required?

Let Me See What You Got

#agreesharon
Life is filled with so many interesting moments that I decided to create a weekly conversation starter around one of the more entertaining observations made during the previous week. Nothing too complicated — fun to see how people answer the question.
Let me know what you think.

The power of suggestion is all around us.
In just a few city blocks, I took note of how many storefronts ensure that their services are out-front and easily visible for all to see. Playing with animals, casual dining or sit-down tablecloth dining – the experience is as much about the product as it is the ability to share it with others.doggie care

magnolia bakery

starbucksWhen was the last time you grabbed a cup of coffee or a snack because you walked by the storefront window, saw it and thought “Yeah, I would like one of those!”

 

The power of suggestion is all around us. What will you spontaneously pick up later today?

Customer Experience? Customer Engagement? Just do it!

To positively experience something OR to engage with something:

Are they any different?

Speaking to another marketing-industry friend recently, we joked about the overuse of the words: customer engagement and customer experience. The word engagement implies a deeper connection with the customer although the two of us agreed that every experience can make a lasting impact on ones’ choices and impressions.

  • Just do it.
  • Make me buy your product.
  • Make me use your service.
  • Make me smile.
  • Make me say “Thank you so much for making this happen for me.”

Here are a few simple examples.

Walking back to the office one afternoon, I passed this Starbucks promotion. Looking to bring patrons back into the store for a mid-afternoon energy boost, the offer plays to one’s earlier purchase and reinforces Starbucks position as an all-day food source.  The price point for the treat equates to a chocolate bar. Having been in the store earlier in the day, you would know that the breakfast crowd paid 3-4 times that price. (And, to those snickering, let’s assume that the product freshness is intact.) starbucksMake me buy your product. 

Our family does not own a car and we become weekly rental customers during the summer. blue carFinding myself in Boston with a customer service problem involving a car picked up at the local Boston airport, I first called the Executive Member Customer Service center. Fail. Then I called our local rental site hoping that they would help. Fail. A direct FB message resolved the problem in one hour.
All four components of that experience made an impression on me.

Make me want to use your services.

This photo was taken at a marketing conference about a year ago. infographicThe artist was quick, creative and able to distill key points into a visually appropriate sequence. Looking at the info-graphic, like watching a twitter feed at a conference, served to reinforce my own learning while the visual format highlighted nuances in the presentation.

The multi-sensory experience made me smile. 

Walking around Manhattan during the bewitching hour of the mid-afternoon school dismissals, can be most entertaining. The other day, I literally stopped and turned around as I heard the voice of a very young child telling his mother that he splattered paint in class similar to the Jackson Pollack style of painting. It was not surprising when the child then went on to ask his mom about her email follow ups to confirm his weekly play dates.

As a mom, I was mighty impressed with the school’s ability to engage this very bright young child. I could almost hear the mom saying to herself:

“Thank you (school and teachers) for making this love of learning happen for my child.” 

Customer Experience. Customer Engagement. Whatever you call it. Just make it positively – memorable.

 

 

Originally posted for MENG on Feb 20. 2015: Customer Experience? Customer Engagement? Just Do It? http://ow.ly/JjYLb by @sharonlewisnyc [TODAY’S POST] #MENGonline #Marketing