Last month, Mindshare Technologies hosted, quite literally, the best conference on Voice of the Customer best practices. So many of our amazing partners—who are just plain fun to be around—made the trip to Park City and sparked a thousand different conversations centered on customer feedback application. Together we discussed the impressive current state of VoC solutions (still vastly underused by the business world, by the way). We didn’t stop there, though, because getting “up to speed” is only half the battle. The second half of the battle was fought with previews and demos of tomorrow’s VoC solutions. Click “EXPAND” under each conference segment below to see videos, photos, and notes from the proceedings. Keep in mind there was a lot worth remembering.
WELCOME DINNER WEDNESDAY NIGHTEXPAND
What made this night so beautiful was each individual reunion with Mindshare’s partners, new and old. It’s not only nice to know who you’re doing business with; it’s nice to know how likeable they are in person! The low-key, low-light dinner setting made it a perfect run-up to the action. The talented pianists from Keys on Main held it down for the second year, taking off-the-wall song requests all evening long. We also saw a few breakout performances (dance and karaoke) from attendees and local Mindshare employees.
CONFERENCE KICKOFF THURSDAY MORNINGEXPAND
WELCOMING THE FUTUREAs I alluded to earlier, there’s something big in Mindshare’s beta testing, and it’s not the Mindshare MindMeld. I had the honor of previewing some very big ideas from stage—projects that have been kept under lock and key all year, and that will continue to be on the DL for another short round of real-world testing. I will say this much: I have to agree with Fraser Bullock, who said this:
“That’s a game changer. Instead of being a victim of bad data, you can be a champion of good data.”
THE OLYMPIC TREATMENTFraser Bullock was our first guest speaker. Simply put, he had stories worth hearing. His time as the COO (and eventual CEO) of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Olympic Games more than qualified him to speak on this year’s conference theme: “Sample Size of One™ - Every Customer Counts.” It’s hard to imagine a bigger, more complex, more perfection-oriented production than the world’s Olympic Games. To get an idea of how dedicated Fraser’s team was to delivering a wonderful experience (first to the Olympic athletes, and second to the rest of the world), just think about this statement he made, “Our Olympic staff rehearsed 650 different scenarios of things that could go wrong.” They were beyond prepared (see principle #4 below). During his presentation, Fraser gave these five principles of good business operations:
1. The customer experience is everything. 2. Completely understand the customer’s experience from the customer’s point of view. 3. Develop needed operations around every step of a customer’s experience. 4. Anticipate what will go wrong and train your team to respond. 5. Monitor the experience and respond quickly with corrective action. Use the Sample Size of One™.Another experience from Fraser’s time with the Olympics involved hurtling down an icy tube with only an inch of separation between face and ice, in an event called skeleton. After recounting his own harrowing novice attempts, he made this acute observation: “Olympians do this thousands of times in search of one thousandth of a second.” What a commitment to excellence! What an example to businesses when it comes to perfecting operations to provide the absolute best customer experience. Mindshare’s client advisors, analysts, and technology do the same thing for you—they run thousands and thousands of surveys, scores, and comments to find the little things that make a big difference to customers. For more on that topic, I recommend Kurt Williams’ recent entry, Analytics and the Power of Early Information. The real magic of Fraser’s speech, though, came with his retelling of the story of Olympic athlete Jim Shea, the third-generation Olympian who won an unlikely gold medal in men’s skeleton that year in Salt Lake City. And, as if the story alone wasn’t remarkable enough, Fraser surprised the crowd by welcoming the man himself, Jim Shea, to the stage. Jim immediately passed his gold medal around the room so the audience could check it out. The first thing he emphasized was how great his experience was at the 2002 Olympic Games (even before winning the gold). He could tell that his experience was the organizers’ top concern. He admitted that his darkest fears leading up to the games were logistical—that his sled would get lost or that he would be stuck in traffic while his event happened without him—details that had derailed Olympians’ dreams before. Because of a committee and a city dedicated to hosting the best Olympic Games, Jim Shea and his fellow Olympians had their shot on the world stage.
REDEFINING VOC USING TEXT ANALYTICSKurt Williams is geek chic. I think. At any rate, our chief technology officer has a mighty fine grasp on the smartest technologies and the coolest ways to use them. His presentation on text analytics focused on one phrase to remember, “Frictionless Feedback.” One of the best ways to ensure that customers continue to share feedback is to make surveys convenient—shorter, more focused, and much less like a standardized test! Text analytics is making that possible.
BREAKOUT SESSIONS THURSDAY MORNING (PT. 2)EXPAND
MOBILEI must admit that I couldn’t take personal notes on the breakout sessions, since I was hosting my own session with our VP of product development, Derek Newbold. During our round of presentations, we had a great time exploring the applications and implications of mobile optimization. Mobile is the future, no question about it. It’s local. It’s immediate. It’s individual. Our own Mindshare App got a major upgrade just a few months ago, and more and more clients are signing into it to navigate their Survey Inbox and Management Dashboard (we’ll have it for Android devices soon, promise!).
SOCIAL MEDIAThe groups who met with our VP of product management, Jon Grover, had some great discussions on the evolving, and often nebulous, relationship between VoC and social media. We are finally seeing what social media is and isn’t capable of. Now that that’s clearing up, it’s time to get some traction! Know this, thanks in large part to social media, today’s consumers are giving their loyalty to companies who have nothing to hide. For better or worse (I say better), the age of business secrets is over.
TEXT ANALYTICSOur text analytics gurus, John Crofts and Spencer Morris, spent their breakout sessions blowing minds with a little help from some IBM technology that we’ve custom-fitted to our loaded VoC platform. With VoC Text Analytics, not only can you dive much deeper into the things that drive customer decisions; you can provide relevant information to every department in your company.
FRONT LINESMeanwhile, our VP of retail business solutions, Shane Evans, was out preaching the possibility of real company change—starting at the front lines. He highlighted a few of Mindshare’s most impactful tools, including our popular Local Dashboard (Coach™). What makes this tool so impactful? The fact that it lives where the impact does—on the front lines!
VOC ENGAGEMENTI know for a fact that our COO, Brad Clark, and our VP of client experience, Chad Hortin, had a massive VoC vision to share: A vision of customer programs that are never static and never flat. They stood center stage and opened up a view into VoC’s promised land. Companies should always be looking for more ways to streamline and to satisfy through VoC. That includes pulling in input from employees as well. To emphasize best practices in this area, these two called on the authority of no less than the people of DecisionWise, an organizational leadership company specializing in the application of employee feedback.
CLIENT PRESENTATIONS THURSDAY NOONEXPAND
HERTZMark Van Wagenen, director of global customer experience, gave us the inside scoop on the one thing that had been on all of our minds: which celebrities are the most accident-prone while driving (I’m not at liberty to disclose who tops that list). Once we were all satisfied by that valuable info, it was easy to settle in and enjoy a great rundown of how Mindshare’s text analytics, as well as some good old fashioned regression analysis, pointed out the true monetary value of customer service for Hertz. Not only that, our analytics were able to pinpoint which stage of the customer experience was the most in need of fixing—and how to fix it. These are the very real ways that VoC has changed the customer experience playing field over the last several years.
FOOT LOCKERJohn Wompey, VP of operations (and karaoke star), played some weird mind games with the crowd, making us all envision orange kangaroos in Denmark—using math! That’s all I remember. No, wait. It’s coming back to me. John drove home the importance of a customer-centric culture with real emphasis on measuring—and amply rewarding—behavior. They have some really cool programs going on at Foot Locker that seem to be turning out really cool employees.
KEYNOTE THURSDAY AFTERNOON (PT. 1)EXPAND
THE HAPPINESS ADVANTAGEOur keynote speaker, Shawn Achor, made waves. His fascinating body of research contains perhaps the most compelling and powerful case of tying common sense to empirical data, at least that I’ve ever heard. Absolutely everybody present was hanging on his every word, even the prepositions (yes, just like the Most Interesting Man in the World). Thankfully, I don’t have to attempt to recount his words, because you can get a very good taste of what this man does by watching his acclaimed TED talk. I’ve embedded it below: So, just imagine that man, speaking about that topic, but adding another hour of material, including a relevant application of the Tetris effect. And while we’re at it—I’m speaking to those who were in attendance—how are you doing with your positive brain-training exercises? I’m happy to say (get it? “happy” to say) that I’m doing a couple of them daily. These brain-training exercises are listed toward the end of the video. We all committed to doing one of them during his keynote.
- 3 Gratitudes
- Journaling (The Doubler)
- Exercise (The Fun Fifteen)
- Conscious Act of Kindness
ROUNDTABLES THURSDAY AFTERNOON (PT. 2)EXPAND
What to say about these? Other than there’s never enough time to cover everything we’d like to. Sorry folks. On the bright side: Once separated into industry groups, we had nearly an hour and a half of uninterrupted discussion for bouncing experiences, ideas, theories, and stories off one another. It may not sound like much, but these rare opportunities for customer champions and business executives from many of the country’s (and world’s) top-performing brands to come together and collaborate on operational and cultural practices are the bellwethers of business. These are the fresh, focused environments that spark progress. When I think about the anecdotes, suggestions, and new experiments that these leaders came up with, I still get an excited smile and a feeling of satisfaction. These leaders are going back to their businesses with new tools—some of their own creation, some of Mindshare’s—and they’re going straight for the bottom line.
SOCIAL EVENING THURSDAY EVENINGEXPAND
RED PINE LODGE: ELEVATION 8,000FT.Boy was it pretty up there. Nice talking with people and tossing beanbags like I imagine royal sires and madams do. Reference the setting below.
CLIENT PRESENTATIONS FRIDAY MORNING (PT. 1)EXPAND
SIZZLERForbes Collins, VP of operations, rocked his morning presentation. He had a lot to say, and, more importantly, he brought along all the empirical data to prove his ROI. He clearly outlined the scoring methods that have worked for his team and why. I left inspired by Sizzler’s push for survey volume—to ensure validity and to motivate employee performance. I’d have to say that Forbes is a poster child for statistical accuracy and the value of measurement. And it showed with his impressive set of charts and graphs—all based on real customer comments, and all predictive of company success.
ASURION N.E.W.Unfortunately, Jim Katzman, senior director of customer experience, had some last-minute business keep him from our conference. But because he was so prepared, our own VP of contact center business solutions, Erich Dietz, was able to step in and deliver the VoC-driven results for N.E.W. He did an excellent job walking us through the numbers and impressing on us the intense hierarchical structure our reports must navigate to assist this massive company. It really is flooring to see how Mindshare’s reports hit all the different levels in even the most complex organizations.
CONFERENCE CLOSE FRIDAY MORNING (PT. 2)EXPAND
THE RED SHOES EXPERIENCEWhat a way to wrap up a customer-focused conference! Our inimitable chief experience officer, Lonnie Mayne, delivered his presentation in his usual self-effacing way, praising the individuals around him. In preparation for this year’s conference, he and his team filmed their visits to a couple outstanding service-providers who have been featured on the Red Shoes Experience Blog. The videos produced from these trips did the talking. I’ve got one of them below: The charactaristics you see in what Lonnie calls a “Red Shoes Rock Star” are the types of undeniable attributes that every business is looking for. And as more and more customer feedback rolls in, it becomes increasingly clear just how much these standout employees influence company revenues. When Lonnie called Lance & Lory Evans up to the stage to receive Mindshare’s newest award, the Red Shoes Award, I witnessed the single most instantaneous and sincere standing ovation I’ve ever seen. I mean, there was no lag or hesitation as people—tears in eyes—leapt to their feet in appreciation. And to make matters all the better, we closed the conference by pulling the cloth off a table full of red shoes, so everyone in attendance could take a pair home to remind them of the importance of standing out in their individual responsibilities.
AFTERNOON ON THE MOUNTAIN FRIDAY AFTERNOONEXPAND
I don’t know what y’all did, but I sure as sunshine took my mountain bike up, down, and around the trails provided with good old Lonnie Mayne. I wore my GoPro helmet cam, too, so I could share the experience with those who missed it (video below). I hope the other activities around the mountain were at least half as enjoyable.Thanks again to everyone who came out. Thank you for being engaged. Thank you for being leaders, teachers, and partners alongside us. We’ll see you next year!