Archive for the ‘Relational competency ’ Category

Summer Reading

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Two conversation-shaping books

Here are my Summer Reading picks for those who go for both engaging narrative and penetrating insight. I’m recommending two distinctly different books by writers who don’t want to merely inform their readers; they want to shape the conversation. Both authors accomplished what they set out to do.

Tim Harford | Adapt – Why Success Always Starts with Failure

“Today’s challenges simply cannot be tackled with ready-made solutions and expert opinions; the world has become far too unpredictable and profoundly complex. Instead, we must adapt—improvise rather than plan, work from the bottom up rather than the top down, and take baby steps rather than great leaps forward.” ~Tim Harford


Wicked Problems, A Defining Challenge

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

Reverberating events

The uprisings in the Arab world are capturing worldwide attention not only because we’re witnessing history in the making, but because the changes are bound to affect us all. We live in a world that’s interconnected in ways that were hard to fathom only a few years ago. Interconnectedness is creating new challenges with social implications that traditional institutions and leaders aren’t equipped to handle.

The clashes across the Middle East and North Africa are only the latest example of unforeseen events that reverberate across regional boundaries. Before that, the sub-prime mortgage crisis in the U.S. sparked a deep global recession that affected more sectors than anything economists had seen before. As some economies began recovering during the following year, Europe’s mounting debt crisis triggered  a cascade of new problems in distant economies.

Today’s challenges, geopolitical or otherwise, are more difficult to predict, understand and handle than the kinds of problems we’ve seen until recently. As the world grows more interconnected, we become more exposed to what design theorists Horst Rittel and Melvin Webber called “wicked problems” which are substantially harder to define and solve than so-called “tame” problems.


Services Beyond Borders

Monday, July 27th, 2009

Every service interaction, regardless of the market, presents a unique opportunity to build a lasting relationship.

Working in diverse, global markets has been a lifelong learning experience for me. One of the more interesting and unexpected insights I’ve gained is that the similarities between people outweigh the differences.  We’re more the same than they we are different. I found this particularly striking while on a recent trip with stops in Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

Once the patina of culture is peeled away, people everywhere crave the same things — respect, appreciation and attachment. I call these “primal drivers” because they’re powerful, deep-seated, and universal. Once we satisfy them, we engender trust with customers and can then uncover their unmet needs.  I think that’s where the real opportunity lies.


Validating Customers through Social Media

Friday, June 26th, 2009

If you use Twitter or any of the other social networking tools, you’re bound to notice how much people crave acceptance and appreciation. Twitter users are delighted when their posts are re-tweeted (re-quoted) or commented on by their followers.

It’s obvious that people like being shown appreciation, but there’s more to being appreciated than meets the eye. Social scientists say we’re hard-wired to respond powerfully to appreciation. In fact, the quest for acceptance and appreciation may be one of our stronger drivers.

When we’re validated by others, we’re inclined to bond with them. I call this the Validation Principle, and it’s one of the keys to building durable customer relationships.


International Rules of Engagement

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009


Paris Urban Pattern

I’ve recently noticed a subtle but perceptible attitude shift among Americans working in foreign markets. My overseas colleagues are noticing, too. American business people, they say, are displaying more thoughtfulness than usual. U.S. companies operating overseas seem less inclined to approach global business as though its epicenter is in New York or Palo Alto.

It’s too soon to call this a new Zeitgeist, but change is in the air. The global economic crisis, which has its roots in the U.S., may be partially responsible. I think the new vibe is also influenced by Washington’s new tone in its approach to global  affairs.  As an American doing business abroad, this is promising.

Historically, many American firms have approached business from a decidedly ethnocentric perspective–more so than many of our European rivals.  U.S. companies have missed opportunities as a result.

Things seem to be moving in a better direction now.


The Myth of Customer Satisfaction

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

It’s time to dispel the epic business myth about the importance of Customer Satisfaction (a.k.a. “C-SAT”). Lots of companies rely on their C-SAT scores to tell them how well they’re serving customers.  But many organizations substitute C-SAT tracking for talking with the people they serve. At these firms, C-SAT is their Achille’s Heel.

Let me be clear. It’s crucial to satisfy customers’ needs and preferences. It’s also vital to know how customers perceive your offering so you can pinpoint areas that need attention. But, C-SAT misses a critical piece of the puzzle. It doesn’t indicate customers’ intention to remain loyal to your brand. If they’re defecting, it doesn’t tell you why.

Studies show that customers can be reasonably satisfied with your offerings yet still switch away from your brand. In fact, they may be extolling your brand’s virtues even as they’re signing up with your rival. If they do intend to stay, C-SAT won’t tell you if they’re inclined to buy again. And, you can’t know if they’d prefer to get your service through a different channel. At best, C-SAT is a barometer of how customers perceive your brand based on their prior experiences with it.


At the Heart of Business

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009


It is with the heart that one sees rightly; what is essential  is invisible to the eye. ~Antoine De Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince

Business stories about “empathy” are springing up again. BusinessWeek ran one (Empathy = Growth) last week.  Fast Company covers the subject periodically. Authors are urging readers to consider the merits of empathy despite the need to cut operating costs as demand for services declines. It makes sense for businesses to re-evaluate their customer relationships in this environment. I think empathy remains widely misunderstood and its role is undervalued in the business community.

Simply put, empathy is rooted in the capacity to see the world through the eyes of another person.  Empathy enables a provider of service to recognize the buyer’s feelings, needs, and wants in order to fulfill these drivers through various means.

I’m interested in a broad spectrum of “relational competencies,” including empathy, and how they are used in business. Skillful practitioners use these competencies to show their understanding, respect and appreciation for others.  These skills include self-awareness and various social competencies that enable the practitioner to listen to and validate customers which forms the basis of relationships.