Sunday, July 26, 2009

Call For Great Client Service Blogs!

Each year, I update the roster of client service related blogs you'll find in my client service blogroll. To provide the best possible list, I'd like your help. Please share your favorite client service blogs with me so I can offer the most complete, up-to-date roster for those of us who are passionate about client service and truly enjoy learning from one another.

I've gone through the list and eliminated any blog that hasn't posted in 2009 with the exception of Passion, People, and Principles by David Maister. David suspended his blog for awhile, and it's my hope he returns soon. The archived content is both rich and timeless, and I encourage you to visit. If at some point, David tells me he has brought his blogging career to a close, then I'll have to create a new blog roll category - The Client Service Hall of Fame. No one would be more deserving.

So send me your favorites! I also plan to post a question on LinkedIn as well in an effort to compile the best of the best blogs out there. I look forward to posting the updated list sometime next week! Thank you!

*The image comes from Patrick J. Lamb's blog, In Search of Perfect Client Service

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Client Service And Trust

I thought I'd try to gain some mid-year perspective on the findings and recommendations contained in Edelman's Trust Barometer, so I recently reread the study. Released in January, it's the tenth year in a row the firm has conducted this global study on trust - a worthwhile and laudable commitment. And as my professor Dr. Karl Soehnlein from Seton Hall University always preaches, "It all comes down to trust, doesn't it?"

As many of you who read this blog know, when it comes to building trust, I'm fascinated by the impact of values. It's about who you are, what you care about, and matching words and deeds. Building trust isn't about key messaging to client/consumer hot buttons, it's about influencing a marketplace to draw its own positive conclusions about your values and priorities, and reinforcing those conclusions each and every day to build trust.

While this year's study includes its share of sobering news, Edelman suggests that a strategy of public engagement, both in terms of policy and communication, can start you on the road to rebuilding trust. It's described in terms of public sector diplomacy, mutual social responsibility, shared sacrifice, and continuous conversation.

David Maister might suggest that this advice is the equivalent of telling someone to stop smoking, stop drinking, exercise more, and eat better as a means to start you down the road to better health. While Edelman's and Maister's advice are spot on, they'll have all the teeth of a new years resolution without a change in values and priorities and a commitment that is longterm.

As Maister points out in his book, Strategy and the Fat Smoker, you may get healthy for awhile, but if you're not committed to longterm life change, then your newfound fitness and health will be short lived.

If you think it's hard to lose 10 pounds again, then try regaining someone's trust.

The entire study is packed full of information, so I encourage you to read and/or reread it. If your organization has the courage to follow Edelman's advice, then do so with an understanding of your values and priorities, and an eye toward real longterm change.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Real Marketing Genius

Pardon the total self indulgence here, but I thought I'd share a few marketing spoofs that I hadn't heard in awhile. They make me laugh as much today as they did when I first listened to them several years ago. I thought it would be a fun way to start the week.

You'll be quite familiar with the campaign that these are based on, believe me. For agency people who've experienced these very scenarios, then have a good laugh, and if you've been the guilty client, then you should enjoy a laugh too.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sound Familiar?

In a recent post by Sherrilynne Starkie titled Quality PR on the Cheap, she offered this video from YouTube featuring conversations I found hauntingly familiar. How about you? Share your story!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Character, Values & Integrity

I've spent a great deal of my career counseling clients in the area of crisis communication - both in the preparation phase and in the heat of dozens of crises themselves. While it's always interesting to look at the various to-do-lists which attempt to offer guidance for managing a crisis successfully, I've found that what separates the best from the worst in crisis responses comes down to character, values and integrity.

When I was a kid, I remember someone describing integrity as what you do when no one else is watching. For example, would you cheat at solitaire and tell others you'd won even though no one could ever prove you wrong? What I've learned is that integrity isn't about what you'd do when no one is watching, it's what you will do when everyone is watching - your employees, the news media, shareholders, etc.

In 1943, before Johnson & Johnson went public, Robert Wood Johnson authored the famous credo that serves to define J&J, not in terms of what they do, but who they are. More recently, Michael Dell spearheaded the drafting of a document titled The Soul of Dell, which sends a clear message that "how" Dell achieves success is just as important as realizing success itself.

If you really want to prepare for crisis, take a close look at the character, values and integrity of your organization and its leaders. While it may be politically more inviting to offer a checklist of "what to do if...?", resist the easy route and take a page from Jim Collins' book Good to Great - look at WHO before WHAT!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Human Nature And Trust

In my last post, Basic Human Nature. Good or Bad?, I suggested that how we feel about this basic question can have enormous implications on our approach to client service and relationships in general.

In Edgar Schein's book Organizational Culture and Leadership, he describes values as "open to discussion", but core beliefs or "basic underlying assumptions" as non-negotiable. These are the assumptions we develop over time based on our experiences (ones we may not always espouse publicly), but they drive our behavior.

I encourage you to read the complete answers people have so generously contributed on LinkedIn. You'll find everything from, " My personal belief is that most people are basically bad" to "Basically human beings are GOOD." You'll also find the inbetween such as "Individual people, however, are neither good nor bad by nature, only by choice" or one of my favorites, "So if I had to choose a species I would choose being around dogs the truth is all in the tail wags!" Each makes their argument quite eloquently by the way.

So given our most basic assumptions about human nature, it leads us to the comment Ruth Seeley offered which reads in part, "The yin/yang symbol you've used to illustrate this post is very appropriate, I think. While I hate to take the simplistic 'dualism' approach, I have found that there are really only two approaches to trusting people: either you're a person who trusts everyone until they give you reason to do otherwise, or you're a person who trusts no one initially and makes everyone earn your trust."

In thinking about Ruth's response, I discovered these trust models by HR consultant Robert Fisher which speak to her point:

As Robert sees it, people fall into one of four categories:
  1. Suspicious still. Don't ever trust anyone, even after they have done something nice.
  2. Suspicious until. Don't trust anyone until they prove themself.
  3. Trust until. Trust people until they screw up.
  4. Trust still. Trust people even after they make mistakes, sometimes even when they hurt you.
These trust models emerge from basic underlying assumptions we hold about people and their nature. You should ask yourself where you fall in this model, and based on your beliefs, how it impacts your approach to client service both positively and negatively.

Just a little food for thought for the long weekend! Enjoy!


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