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The Key to Business Growth is People

Every manager has opportunities to coaching and feedback skills into their relationships with employees, even in fields where processes and structures make it challenging, or in today’s volatile business landscape. Coaching, in essence, helps people identify – for themselves – the power of their potential.

Instead of giving them step-by-step instructions of exactly which roads to take, you are handing them a map and a compass and allowing them to find their way to that end destination. They may take different roads than you would, but it allows those employees to grow and develop on their own instead of continuing to rely on you. Through coaching, employees learn to solve problems on their own.

HERE ARE 7 COACHING TIPS FOR MANAGERS TO BECOME BETTER COACHES:

  1. Listen before you respond: Gathering as much information as possible will help you decide if this is a situation where you should act as a manager or as a coach. Without knowing the extent of the employee’s concerns or problems, it is easy to misjudge whether it is an opportunity for a coaching conversation or not.
  2. Think of yourself as a sounding board, not a Magic 8-Ball: As a manager coach, you are there to help employees solve their own problems instead of telling them what to do. Adjust your mindset away from providing answers or suggestions toward offering employees independence and trusting them to come up with a solution.
  3. Ask questions, don’t just tell employees what to do: Often, managers get into the trap of being the problem-solver for their direct reports. With employees who are searching for the answer to a problem, ask questions that lead the employee toward solving their own problems, instead of giving them your solution.
  4. Use open-ended questions, not closed-ended questions: Also known as discovery questions, open-ended questions increase the coachees’ engagement in the conversation as they brainstorm their own solutions. Instead of “yes” or “no” answers, open-ended questions solicit ideas, drawbacks, potential opportunities, and options from the employee being coached.
  5. When someone asks you a question, that’s your trigger to ask a question back: Especially when employees want to know “How should I solve this problem?” you can immediately go into coach mode and ask “How do you think it should be solved?” This interaction creates a great learning opportunity, an answer that potentially could be better than the answer you might have provided, and increased efficiency through quicker problem-solving.
  6. Encourage employees to think about potential barriers: Part of being a coach is being realistic about what might derail a plan of action. Once the employee has devised a solution, it’s critical for coaches to remind him or her of what could go wrong and help him or her to establish alternatives and adaptations if something unexpectedly goes differently than planned.
  7. Create a contract of accountability: For a true coaching conversation to occur, action must be generated and accountability must be established. Once the employee has made his or her decision, create a timeline and a deadline for the desired action to take place and follow up.

Coaching can be part of many situations: a career goals conversation, a yearly review, or even a tough conversation about performance. There’s a time and place to be a manager or a coach in the workplace; not every situation will be ideal for one approach or the other. But when managers become better coaches to employees, the benefits are incredible: it can increase employee engagement, establish trust in employees, help gain a variety of perspectives, allow employees to grow and develop as leaders, and gain buy-in for decisions.

The workplace benefits of coaching are numerous. If you’re a leader or manager, developing a coaching mindset moves your team members toward success.

By LINDA DAUSEND

Source: https://www.humanresourcestoday.com/edition/weekly-wellness-compliance-training-2021-07-31?open-article-id=19908216&article-title=7-tips-for-managers-to-become-a-better-coach-now&blog-domain=flashpointleadership.com&blog-title=flashpoint

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Building A Strong Online Business

Running an online business can give you the freedom to live life on your terms, but only if you know what you’re doing.

If you walk up to people on the street and ask them what the No. 1 thing is that they want most out of life, the answers will all likely have something to do with one word: freedom. Financial freedom, geographical freedom, the freedom to live your life on your own terms and take control of your destiny. It almost sounds too good to be true … But in today’s age, it has become not only a possibility, but a reality for many entrepreneurs who have decided to take their destiny into their own hands by taking a risk and starting their own ecommerce business.

While creating an online business may seem like the perfect way to grow your income and have the lifestyle and freedom you desire, it is far from easy. In order to be successful in the business world, there are five factors that you need to master.

1. Mentorship

Not only is it important to have access to quality information, but it is also important to have one or more mentors that can provide you with one-on-one guidance and counseling. When starting a business, it is inevitable that you will have many questions. Having the right mentor is going to help guide you in the right direction, and you’ll learn from their mistakes, rather than making your own. There’s nothing more valuable than directly getting help from a successful businessman, somebody whom you would trade places with.

Access to quality one-on-one mentorship where you’re able to ask somebody who’s in the trenches and building brands every day questions is extremely valuable. In order to provide the best services for your clients and build your business, quality mentorship should be an integral part of your program. In this manner, clients can learn all the steps needed to start a successful business, whether it be in ecommerce or a different branch.

2. Persistence 

Ecommerce has grown into a multi-trillion dollar industry and has created the most important technological revolution in business in the 21st century. Millions of people around the world are literally making millions selling products online; however, it’s not for everyone. Building a business is not easy, and you will fall down more than once. Hence, in order to build a successful ecommerce business, you must work harder than everyone else and keep going even when you feel like quitting.

If you want to live a life like nobody else, you must work like nobody else. When you feel like giving up, you should remind yourself of this. Only through persistence will you be able to build a successful business.

3. Mindset

In a similar fashion, a positive mindset is extremely important when it comes to building a business. Many people, even those who are able to succeed, lack this necessary mindset, which means that any short-term gains and successes won’t be sustainable. Without the right mindset, it is impossible to build a business that will thrive in the long term. Mindset is entirely learnable and can be studied and adopted by anybody with the will to succeed.

4. Access to the right information

In today’s day and age, there is an excess of information on the internet. While having access to information is an advantage, a lot of information is not reliable and steers many people the wrong way. Hence, it is important to educate yourself with quality information, such as that provided in a quality course. In order to have a successful business, quality education and information need to be made a priority for each and every one of your clients.

With the way the world is going, there is nothing that competes with buying products online, but a lot of people get excited about the amount of money they could make in the business and get into it without any knowledge or experience. Getting into this business without having the right information and guidance will most likely lead to failure.

5. Faith

Throughout the many ups and downs that come with starting your own business, ultimately your success will finally come down to your level of belief in yourself and your faith. Whether it be in God, in the Universe or whichever higher power you believe in, it is important to have faith in something greater and know that you are not alone.

If you truly center on these factors and focus on growing as a person and entrepreneur, you will stand out from the crowd, and there is no doubt that you will build a successful business.

By Jose Aristimuno, ENTREPRENEUR LEADERSHIP NETWORK CONTRIBUTOR, CEO of VIP MEDIA SOLUTIONS

Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/380628

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4 Ways to Modernize Your Business

In the digital age, operating a successful business increasingly requires a touch of modernity. The traditional business tactics and operational standards of the 20th century are rapidly being overshadowed by new technology and new methods of communications. In order to keep your business on top of its game, and keep up with the times, here are some essential goals for upgrading your business in the modern age.

  1. Cloud-Based Solutions

Everything business-related is transitioning to cloud computing. Whether you are operating multiple business locations or just working from home, keeping all of your business-related computing relegated to online servers gives you a leg up in both security and convenience. Working explicitly from local files makes your work far less portable, increasing the difficulty of long-distance collaboration and restricting your access to business-related data while on the road. Turning to cloud-based solutions provides you the ability to connect your business materials and all of your business associates at the push of a button. Plus, aside from the convenience of access, cloud services are increasingly incorporating built-in analytics services and machine learning capabilities to open the door to more capabilities for business owners to enhance and expand upon their current marketing strategies.

  1. Software Automation

In line with the ever-evolving capabilities of most modern cloud-based services, you should take advantage of MLOps strategies for implementing AI-based software automation to improve your overall productivity. Invest in programs that streamline your day-to-day tasks like automated scheduling assistants, time management analytics tools, and data management programs to track expenses, organize accounts payable, and automate invoicing.

The human element is essential to creativity and ingenuity; however, automation allows you to delegate repetitive data-oriented tasks to programs that can manage them with far more efficiency. This boosts your business’s overall flexibility by giving you and your employees more freedom to tackle any tasks that require a direct, human touch, like customer relations and marketing content.

  1. Messaging Apps and Social Media

Once upon a time, the postal service was the go-to means of communicating important information between multiple parties; then, email took its place as the king of communication. Now, social media and interoffice messaging systems give you the best advantage in establishing reliable lines of communication both within and without your business. Whether you need to notify your staff with important information, contact specific employees directly, or interact with the general public, social media sites like Twitter and Facebook as well as messaging apps like Slack and Discord simplify and streamline communication. Where letters and emails created downtime and posed the risk of “lost” messages, these modern communications platforms reduce clutter and ensure instantaneous, direct interaction, improving both interoffice and remote interactions.

  1. Digital Marketing

Print marketing is rapidly becoming an outdated method of sharing product information with potential clients. In the digital age, your best option for marketing your goods and services is digital content. With online marketing tools, you are no longer limited to a specific quantity of marketing materials, so you can reach out to an unlimited number of existing and potential clients with the push of a button. Amidst digital graphics, video content, blogs, and direct contact via social media, the digital age offers a wide variety of marketing opportunities. More important, perhaps, than the specific digital “medium” used, is to take advantage of real-time marketing strategies. Marketers can now interact with customers immediately, rather than waiting for weeks or even months to compile useful feedback. Social media, for example, allows you to gather real-time data from customers to quickly make adjustments that will improve their experience on the go.

While the core principles of operating a successful business never change, the tools available do. Whenever you are modernizing your business, just keep in mind that as technology evolves so too should your business strategies to take full advantage of the tools currently available. Keep testing the waters with new techniques and technologies, and learn to incorporate the parts that are successful.

 

BY CHANTAL BECHERVAISE

Source: https://www.humanresourcestoday.com/edition/daily-psychological-contract-diversity-2021-07-01/?open-article-id=16442745&article-title=4-ways-to-modernize-your-business&blog-domain=takeitpersonelly.com&blog-title=take-it-personel-ly

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Training and Onboarding for the New Remote Work Landscape

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work has officially become the new normal. More and more people are working from home, making virtual training and onboarding a growing priority for human resource professionals.

Prior to COVID, HR mainly utilized in-person methods to guide new employees through orientation, company goal sets and team expectations. However, Forbes reported that up to 74% of professionals expect remote work to become standard after the pandemic. Employees hope to keep the flexibility of remote and hybrid work, so it’s important that employers learn how to meet the digital expectations of the future work landscape.

In fact, as most organizations transitioned to remote work this past year, employees also reported considering or planning a move farther away from their current jobs, according to a separate Forbes article. Employees who were laid off were more likely to report planning a move, as well, which would influence how they applied to future job opportunities.

Returning to fully onsite work will prove difficult for most new employees, so HR must build creative and efficient ways to replicate the training and onboarding process for the remote work landscape. Here are some best practices your company can follow to improve your new employee’s virtual experience:

Provide timely technology and support

To ensure that new hires start off with their best foot forward, organizations must consider what technological requirements need to be addressed for each position. If the employee needs a corporate laptop or cellphone to do their job, reach out and schedule shipping so that they arrive before the employee’s start date.

Once your employee has the proper technology to start their role, HR should coordinate with IT to verify that setup and configuring the new tech is digitally streamlined. Check in with your IT department beforehand to guarantee they don’t become overwhelmed as remote work continues. Ask how the company can automate additional processes to ease the extra workload. Some examples of computer setup automation are interactive platforms that guide new users through setup or step-by-step instructions (written or video) that can be generally distributed online.

Clear communication between HR, new hires and IT is essential to digital onboarding. Don’t be afraid to ask new hires what tools they require to be successful in their new positions and how previously in-person IT tasks can be digitally streamlined. New employees will still need personalized assistance, but automating certain steps in the process is a necessary first step for remote onboarding.

Replicate the remote training process virtually

A great way to build your new HR guidelines for remote work is to use the foundation of previously tried and true methods. If you have set practices for training new hires onsite, go through them and determine how your company can transition each of these steps to online.

Schedule the first day of virtual orientation as similarly to pre-pandemic guidelines as possible, advised the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). This means creating a full-day, interactive schedule for new hires that include team and colleague introductions via video conferencing. By now, employees have become all-too-familiar with the importance of video meetings, so just be sure to include what platform expectations (Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, etc.) are during onboarding.

Once the first day is scheduled, consider how best to guide new hires through their first week, as well. For example, are there any larger company meetings that could demonstrate how your employer operates overall? New questions may arise as employees find their footing in the new digital landscape, so advise managers to schedule daily and/or weekly check-ins in advance. This way remote workers can be certain that they have opportunities to touch base with you.

As your digital onboarding and training schedule is determined, don’t forget to include breaks for your new hires. Employees should feel guided throughout their first day and week at your company, but it’s also important to give them time to go over new materials and properly retain each piece of new information.

Digitize important onboarding materials

Manual paperwork is a time-consuming and stressful part of human resource management. However, a newfound benefit to remote work during the pandemic has been the implementation of virtual onboarding and training materials that can be accessed at any time by new hires and managers from home alike.

By transitioning document signing, company policies, rule books and training materials to digital copies, employers can streamline the onboarding process for both HR and new hires. For example, sharing and filing tax documents, contracts and payroll information can be as easy as sending a link or signing into your company’s preferred platform. Within your company’s online platform or website, HR should also include an FAQ page for more information and a contact page for additional questions.

This cuts back on labor costs as HR and new hires can spend more time engaging with each other and their teams. For some roles, you can also implement onboarding tools that include training videos and/or learning modules that cover specific role needs.

Remote work is here to stay, so learning how to onboard and train new hires in the virtual workplace is a high priority for all companies moving forward. HR teams that successfully transition to online onboarding and training will be able to not only improve efficiency, but also overall job satisfaction and employee engagement.

According to SHRM, overall HR recruiting budgets have decreased this past year due to the pandemic. Employee retention is crucial for companies to be successful in the current remote work landscape. By investing in new hire digital onboarding and training, your team will vastly improve the remote experience for all of your employees — not just new hires.

The best course of action for HR professionals is to mirror the in-person onboarding experience for remote workers as best as possible. The more interactive the schedule is for your employees, the more likely they will have a positive and lasting experience with your company.

 

By PeopleStrategy Staff

Source: https://www.peoplestrategy.com/training-onboarding-new-remote-work/

 

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Why Investing in Your Employees Can Benefit Your Company

Your employees are your business, it is that simple. The people you bring on, train and put into strategic positions throughout the organization are what will make or break your success. From the bottom to the top of the hierarchy, your human capital is your most important capital. This is why it makes so much sense to invest in these people. From sending employees on a leadership career track to business school to simple online seminars or cross-training opportunities, professional development takes many forms. If you are considering an MBA for an employee, keep in mind that there are MBA admissions consultants out there to help you make the right choice.

Employers must start to think of human capital development in terms of ROI. With that in mind, below are some of the ways investing in employees can benefit your company.

Employee Engagement

A Gallup poll from 2018 indicated that only 34 percent of employees in the United States felt engaged at work, which was broadly reflective of a worldwide crisis of engagement. There are a variety of reasons for this lack of engagement, including feelings of burnout from job creep, organizations failing to align philosophically with employees, apathy that comes from a lack of job security but also, importantly, a lack of investment in human capital on the part of employers.

Too often employers see the labour force as mere tools and means to ends, rather than strategic assets to be developed. When employees feel that their professional development and career health is taken seriously by their employers, engagement will increase in turn. Engagement corresponds to more job satisfaction, bigger and better brand advocates for the business, better collaboration and better employee retention.

Attract New Talent

Another reason it pays dividends for an organization to invest in its current workforce is that doing so has future benefits for recruitment and talent acquisition. Surveys have shown that the vast majority of people are willing to trade less money for more meaningful work, which translates into a lot of different things, but among them is work that allows them to develop and utilize their skills and core competencies.

The implications for talent acquisition are easy to see and potentially enormous. If a business is able to establish a reputation as a place that nurtures talent, invests in its people’s professional development and provides opportunities to constantly grow and improve skill sets, it will be a much more attractive place to work for talented, ambitious people looking for a challenge and interested in lifelong learning.

Future-Proof

Investing in people should also be seen as a necessary part of future-proofing the organization. The rate of economic change that is taking place and will continue to do so obligates leadership to take a future-proofing approach to business. The pandemic proved that entire business models could dry up overnight and that the resulting skills gaps could potentially cripple an organization or industry. Your people are your best chance against being blindsided by the future.

Investing in employees can provide the organization with valuable skills–particularly digital ones–to ensure a more seamless transition to a much more digital business environment. It can also ensure that the mission-critical skill sets required for business success are always in supply. Having employees who are able to cover for one another, pick up the slack for absent coworkers and take on new responsibilities when necessary make the organization much more agile.

Productivity

Investing in employees also has implications for productivity. Employees who are confident that their employer has their professional best interests at heart and are committed to providing them with opportunities to improve and increase their skills are more likely to want to do their best for the company. The management and organizational behavioural literature over the last year have been almost singularly obsessed with the phenomenon of decreasing productivity, what to do about it and when, if ever, it will be back.

Of the many things that we know about productivity and the influences on it, employees who believe they are supported in their professional development by their employers are more likely to want to exert themselves on behalf of the company and to make the best use of their working hours. The quality of the employee-employer relationship is dictated by many things, but among them is certainly the extent to which the former believes the latter is concerned about their careers and professional development.

Conclusion

The problem with many organizations is that labour expenses are seen as something to be kept as low as possible at all costs. Professional development and enriching the organization’s human capital takes a back seat with such a philosophy. What these businesses don’t realize is that they are shooting themselves in the foot in the medium to long-term. Investments in employees, and particularly promising people with a demonstrated desire to learn, improve and add value, are investments in the business.

Image by Ronald Carreño from Pixabay

By Editor’s choice|Employee recognition

 

Source: https://www.humanresourcestoday.com/?open-article-id=16422120&article-title=why-investing-in-your-employees-can-benefit-your-company-&blog-domain=gethppy.com&blog-title=get-hppy

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5 Small Habits All Leaders Should Do to Grow Their Business

Growing a business takes continual commitment.
Tiffany Pham
ENTREPRENEUR LEADERSHIP NETWORK CONTRIBUTOR
CEO of Mogul
March 8, 2021 5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

While working in the media industry, I taught myself how to code to build a platform that connects women and minorities to professional opportunities. I worked at my day job and then coded at night — night after night, week after week, month after month. The commitment to my purpose became a habit, which then provided the momentum to scale my company, Mogul, to what it is today.

I believe that what makes certain businesses struggle and others thrive is the difference between the daily commitments and small habits that leaders create in order to help others move toward their greatest potential. Here are five daily habits that will help your business thrive.

Commit to listening

Listening is a superpower. I can’t stress enough how important it is to develop your active listening abilities, especially when you lead a team of individuals. Everybody on your team is unique, and their communication preferences are as well. Some people like to be cheered on with positive affirmations. Others prefer straight talk and getting right down to the point.

As leaders, part of our job is to listen and learn how our team members communicate, and to adapt our communication style to match theirs (more on communication below). It’s our responsibility to listen, uncover what makes each individual tick and elevate their passion that empowers them to produce inspired work.

Commit to communication

The way we speak to our team matters. Especially because you’re in a position of influence, your words hold more weight than others. Any sign of talking down to a team member can ultimately erode a working relationship — and it can happen fast. When providing feedback, it’s important always to be mindful of your messaging.

My suggestion is to first aim to validate. For example, we once had a situation where our team continued pushing back the delivery date for a project, so I decided to step in and provide support. Instead of just expressing frustration, I made sure to share what I did like and precisely why. I then offered my notes for edits and focused on framing everything in the positive. Our primary goal with the way we communicate is to lift our team, help them grow in their role and support their career advancement.

Commit to learning

Taking time to deepen your expertise should be a mandatory practice. Information is ubiquitous, and it’s never been easier to further our education and develop a deeper understanding of our field. I’m continually reading about current events, industry trends, following other peers and thought-leaders and finding ways to continue uncovering strategies that help me be a better leader.

Like many of us, I wish there were more hours in the day, so I schedule time once or twice a week specifically for learning and upskilling. If something doesn’t get on my calendar it doesn’t exist. I give myself a certain topic to focus on throughout the week, and I dedicate the scheduled time to focused learning.

 

Commit to systems

Now more than ever, speed wins. And the essential way to be more effective with your decision-making ability as a leader is to create flexible systems. The more you tangibly understand the mechanisms that make your business run, the better it allows you to iterate on your systems. From how you hire, share internal communication and deploy external messaging, to how you structure your entire organization, nearly everything within your business should be put to a system and continually optimized.

By having a process in place, you can better track and locate inefficiencies. Systems can empower you to think long-term more effectively because they stack on top of each other, which will then enable you to make more informed decisions. The best leaders I’ve known are the ones who continually commit to creating more efficient systems.

Commit to yourself

You can’t lead a team of people and grow a business if you don’t care for yourself. Forgive me for what may seem like stereotypical advice, but we all need to make sure we’re doing the foundational things well. Find your optimal amount of sleep, eat breakfast in the morning, mind your posture at your desk throughout the day and take breaks for your physical and mental health. As often as I can, I stop scheduling meetings at a certain time of the day to help me end the workday at a reasonable hour and stave off burnout.

The best way I’ve found to keep my mental and physical health at the forefront of my mind is to schedule my day as detailed as possible. I even plan my short breaks to stretch or take a walk. I periodically put 20-minute breaks in my calendar and use them to unplug from work-life and reconnect with real life.

The little commitments matter, and the habits will compound over time. If you want to be an effective leader, it starts with leading yourself. So take care of yourself and live to work another day.

Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/365862

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Data Is Great — But It’s Not a Replacement for Talking to Customers

kkgas/Stocksy

 

Summary: Many companies rely too much on big data and analytics in their hunt for strategic insights.  They’d do better if they actually went out and talked to their customers instead, as Toyota and Adobe do, because data is too rooted in what managers already think their customers are interested in.

 

 

The ability to gather and process intimate, granular detail on a mass scale promises to uncover unimaginable relationships within a market. But does “detail” actually equate to “insight”?

Many decision-makers clearly believe it does. In Australia, for instance, the big four banks Westpac, National, ANZ, and Commonwealth are spending large on churning through mountains of customer data that relate one set of variables — gender, age, and occupation, for instance — to a range of banking products and services. Australia’s largest bank, the Commonwealth, has announced its big data push.

Like the big banks, Australia’s two largest supermarket chains, Woolworths and Coles, are scouring customer data and applying the massive computer power now available, and needed, with statistical techniques in the search for “insights.” This could involve the combination of web browsing activity, with social media use, with purchasing patterns and so on — complex analysis across diverse platforms.

While applying correlation and regression analysis (among other tools) to truckloads of data has its place, I have a real concern that — once again — CEOs and senior executives will retreat to their suites satisfied that the IT department will now do all the heavy lifting when it comes to listening to the customer.

Data’s Deceptive Appeal

To peek into the deceptive appeal of numbers, let’s review how one business hid behind its data for years.

Keith is the CEO of a wealth management business focused on high-net-worth individuals. It assists them with their investments by providing products, portfolio solutions, financial planning advice, and real estate opportunities.

Like its competitors, Keith’s company employed surveys to gather data on how the business was performing. But Keith and his executive team came to realize that dredging through these details was not producing insights that management might use in strategy development.

So, Keith’s team decided on a different path. One that really did involve listening to the customer. They conducted a series of client interviews structured in a way that allowed the customer to do the talking and the company to do the listening. What Keith and his executives discovered really shocked them.

The first was that their data was based on nonsense. This came about because the questions they’d been asking were built on managers’ perceptions of what clients needed to answer. They weren’t constructed on what clients wanted to express. This resulted in data that didn’t reflect clients’ real requirements. The list of priorities obtained via client interviews compared to management’s assumed client priorities coincided a mere 50 percent of the time.

Keith’s business is not alone in this as studies have shown that big data is often “precisely inaccurate.” A study reported by Deloitte found that “more than two-thirds of survey respondents stated that the third-party data about them was only 0 to 50 percent correct as a whole. One-third of respondents perceived the information to be 0 to 25 percent correct.”

In Keith’s case, this error was compounded when it came to the rating of these requirements. For example, the company believed that older clients wouldn’t rank “technology” (digital and online tools) as high on their list of requirements. However, in the interviews, they discovered that while these older clients weren’t big users of technology themselves, many cared about it a great deal. This was because they had assistants who did use it and because they considered having state-of-the-art technology a prerequisite for an up-to-date business.

What Keith and his team also discovered, to their surprise, was how few interviews it took to gain genuine insight. Keith reports that “we needed around 18 to 20 clients to uncover most of the substantive feedback. We thought we’d need many more.” What Keith has encountered here is saturation; a research term referring to the point when you can stop conducting interviews because you fail to hear anything new.

Listening to the Customer

Engaging with your customers may not be as exciting and new as investing in “big data.” But it does have a solid track record of success. Cast your minds back to a historic time in Toyota’s history.

When Toyota wanted to develop a luxury car for the United States, its team didn’t hunker down in Tokyo to come up with the perfect design. Nor did it sift through data obtained from existing Toyota customers about current Toyota models. Instead, it sent its designers and managers to California to observe and interview the target customer — an American, male, high-income executive — to find out what he wanted in a car. This knowledge, combined with its undoubted engineering excellence, resulted in a completely new direction for Toyota: a luxury export to the United States. You will know it better as the Lexus. Listening to the customer is now embedded in Toyota’s culture.

Listening to the customer is also a fundamental component of Adobe’s culture. The company speaks of a “culture of customer listening” and has produced a useful set of guidelines on how to tune in to customers. Elaine Chao, a Product Manager with the company, has expressed it this way: “Listening is the first step. We try to focus on what customers want to accomplish, not necessarily how they want to accomplish it.”

So, provided your data isn’t “precisely inaccurate” employ modern computer power to examine patterns in your customers’ buying behavior. But understand big data’s limitations. The data is historic and static. It’s historic because it’s about the past. Your customers have most likely moved on from what the data captures. And it’s static because, as with any computer modeling, it can never answer a question that you didn’t think to ask.

Real insights come from seeing the world through someone else’s eyes. You will only ever get that by truly engaging with customers and listening to their stories.

March 05, 2021
Source: https://hbr.org/2021/03/data-is-great-but-its-not-a-replacement-for-talking-to-customers