Soundview Executive Book Summaries


How to Amaze Your Customers

A quick review of books on customer service shows that the prevailing view is to WOW customers, to knock their socks off with service far beyond what they expect. But Shep Hyken takes a different approach. He says that what will really amaze customers is if you provide consistently above average service – with the emphasis on “consistent.”

“Amazement is not necessarily about “Wow!” levels of service, although sometimes it may be. It is about an all-of-the-time, I-know-I-can-count-on-it, better-than-average experience.”

In Amazement Revolution, Hyken provides seven amazement strategies that companies can implement in order to provide that consistency, which I will list below. But he begins with one very important principle. You have to take care of your employees first!

“To keep external customers happy, you must make sure your employees know that you care about doing what’s right by them, day after day after day. Your employees will in turn care about doing what’s right by the customer.” “Amaze your employees, and they’ll spread the amazement!”

The 7 Amazement Strategies:

  1. Provide Membership – Shift your mindset to treat the people you serve more like members rather than customers.
  2. Have Serious Fun – Real FUN in the workplace is determined, not by how many belly laughs your enterprise generates, but by the level of fulfillment it generates in the workforce, the uniqueness it respects in each employee, and the sense of anticipation it creates for the next challenge on the horizon.
  3. Cultivate Partnerships – Deliver a premium level of service that incorporates active problem-solving and inspires customers to count on and return to your organization.
  4. Hire Right – Create and implement innovative hiring and retention processes that support your service mission.
  5. Create a Memorable After-Experience – A positive initial customer experience is only the beginning! Make sure your organization gives people the flexibility to deliver a range of powerful, personalized after-experiences.
  6. Build Community – Support and inspire both the internal and the external community of evangelists.
  7. Walk the Walk – Acknowledge, model, and reward adherence to customer-focused values at all levels of the organization.

Does your customer service experience need tweaking, or a complete overhaul? Then you’ll want to hear directly from Shep Hyken as he explains his strategies in detail, and provides case studies from best-in-class companies. Join us on March 8th for our Soundview Live webinar Learn the 7 Customer Amazement Strategies, and bring your questions for Shep.

You can fill your conference room with people to listen in, Free for subscribers and just $59 for all other registrants. You might consider using this as a customer service training session.

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Who Are the Real Decision-Makers in Your Company?

When a major decision is being made in your company, who’s in the room? Is it the boss and a group of his or her confidants? Or is it the boss and his senior management team?

Bob Frisch contends that in many companies, it’s a group of the boss’s confidants, a “team with no name” that exists outside formal processes. And, surprisingly, he makes the case that this is the way it ought to be.

Frisch explains, “Senior teams have undeniable strengths, and they are in a unique position to do things that no other group in the organization can do as well. Making big decisions isn’t one of them—for very good reasons that will be dissected here. Unless the senior team’s limitations are understood and its genuine strengths put to work, the blame and frustration on all sides will continue.”

This is quite a stance to take, but it comes from Frisch’s many years of consulting with top companies. His stated goal is “that by understanding the nature of executive decision-making, executives and the members of their senior teams can stop beating up themselves and each other.”

Perhaps you’re in that senior management category, or you’re the boss that’s trying to make the best decisions and are drawing flack from management. If so then you’ll benefit from our upcoming webinar with Bob Frisch entitled Transforming Decision-Making.

Grab your lunch and your management team, and join us on February 9th to see how you can improve your decision-making process, while helping top management understand where they fit in as well.



The Decision to Trust

I ran across a 2010 article by the Pew Research Center entitled Distrust, Discontent, Anger and Partisan Rancor. Some of the numbers were surprising and discouraging. We are currently at our lowest level of trust in government since before 1978. Barack Obama has the lowest trust rating of any president over the past eight administrations, including Richard Nixon.

And this isn’t just a trend in our view of the government. The Pew research also shows a low rating of trust in banks, large corporations, national news media, the entertainment industry and labor unions. Those organizations in which we have high trust include colleges & universities, churches, small businesses, and technology companies.

I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised then that there is a new trend in business books around the topic of trust. Stephen M.R. Covey just released his second book on trust called SmartTrust. Other recent books include Liars and Outliers by Bruce Schneier, Trust Agents by Chris Brogan & Julien Smith, and The Decision to Trust by Robert Hurley.

Hurley’s book is especially interesting in that he not only makes a strong case for the importance of trust in organizations, he also provides the steps to building trust at all levels. Here is what Hurley promises that we can learn and do about trust:

•Make better decisions concerning who to trust, to avoid harm and increase pressure on untrustworthy agents to reform themselves.

• Allocate your trust building energy better by appreciating how different people approach the trust decision.

• Identify the root cause of trust issues based on 10 trust factors.

• Offer concrete interventions and reforms that can enhance trust in each of the 10 trust

factors.

• Clarify in which situations building and repairing trust can work and those where it

may not work.

• Provide a method for enhancing trust at different levels: with a person, within teams,

across teams, across national cultures, within organizations, and in leadership.

If you found yourself nodding with agreement at the lack of trust in your organization, then you might benefit from our upcoming Soundview Live webinar with Robert Hurley, How to Create a High-Trust Organization. Hurley will discuss the trust crisis in detail and, more importantly, tell us how to turn things around.



The Benefits of Webinars

When searching on “business webinars” in Google recently, I found 126,000,000 results. It would seem that every organization hosts webinars within their field of focus.

For some companies, webinars are used for lead generation. By hosting free webinars that highlight their expertise, they hope to get attendees to then sign up for their newsletters, test a service or purchase a product.

Other companies use webinars as part of their product. Customers pay to attend webinars either individually or as part of a package of content. The webinars are a means of communicating their knowledge and helping their customers.

Webinars really began to see a rise in popularity after 9/11. For some months companies were not sending their employees to as many conferences and seminars. And as companies have tightened their belts over the last decade, webinars have continued to take hold.

A webinar’s attraction is two-fold. Convenience for the consumer – I can register for a webinar through an email that I receive, place the date in my calendar, and then attend on that day with no travel time or expense. Cost-savings for the host – a company can set up a webinar with no location costs, use an inexpensive webinar service easily found online, invite a caliber of speakers that would be expensive to host in person, and set the time and day at the convenience of the company and the speaker. Webinars are a win-win for companies and consumers.

Back before the advent of webinar software, Soundview began hosting tele-conferences with top business book authors in a series called Beyond the Books. We have developed these monthly events along with advances in technology into today’s Soundview Live webinars, and last year expanded them to weekly. Our subscribers love the convenience of sitting around the conference table over lunch while interacting with their favorite business authors.

If you’ve never attended one of our webinars, you can check out our list of upcoming events. Standard online subscribers to Soundview Executive Book Summaries are invited to all webinars free, and our Premium subscribers also have access to our archive of all previous events. If you want direct access to top business authors, the Soundview Live webinars are the most economical way to go.



Is Your Leadership Credible?

“In the end, leaders don’t decide who leads. Followers do.” Jim Kouzes & Barry Posner

This statement is at the core of Kouzes & Posner’s new book Credibility, a complete revision of their 1993 best-seller The Leadership Challenge.

The authors continue, “The old organizational hierarchy just can’t generate the kind of commitment that’s required in our global society. This isn’t a call for open elections inside organizations. But managers should not kid themselves. People do vote—with their energy, with their dedication, with their loyalty, with their talent, with their actions. Don’t you put forth higher-quality effort when you believe that the people leading you are there to serve your needs and not just their own interests?”

Based on this premise, Kouzes and Posner developed a survey to collect a list of the top characteristics that a leader must have. From the 225 factors they defined, the authors produced a list of 20 traits followers admire and that will inspire them to follow.

The top three categories are:

1. Integrity (is truthful, is trustworthy, has character, has convictions)

2. Competence (is capable, is productive, is efficient)

3. Leadership (is inspiring, is decisive, provides direction)

And perhaps not surprisingly, the top characteristic by far was honesty with 85% of people putting it at the top in the 2010 survey, 88% in 2002 and 83% in 1987.

If you would like to learn more about the top characteristics of a good leader, join us on January 10th, when we’ll have Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner as our guests for our Soundview Live webinar Leading with Credibility. If you want to strengthen your leadership skills, this is the place to be next Tuesday at 12:00 noon. And since the registration is per site, you can fill the room with colleagues.



Operating with High-Trust in a Low-Trust World

In January of 2012, Stephen M.R. Covey will publish a follow-up to his best-seller The Speed of Trust. This is his introduction to the book:

“Following one of our presentations on The Speed of Trust, a man made his way backstage to ask a question that was obviously troubling him deeply. “Are you really serious about this?” he asked incredulously. “Are there really more than just a few people out there who operate with the kind of trust you’re talking about?” This man lived and worked in a country that was ripe with corruption, deception, and massive distrust. He was clearly feeling deeply torn. He sincerely wanted to believe what we’d said but was finding it almost impossible in the context of his environment.”

I don’t think you need to leave the U.S. to find similar concerns and doubts about trusting others in the workplace. We see evidence of business people who can’t be trusted ever day in the news.

So how do we take advantage of the “speed of trust” that Covey introduced in his earlier book? Covey and his partner at Covey-Link, Greg Link, propose a “smart trust” that can work even in the midst of our low-trust environment. They describe the five actions trust companies have in common, that allow them to exercise smart trust:

  1. Choose to believe in trust.
  2. Start with self.
  3. Declare your intent . . . and assume positive intents in others.
  4. Do what you say you’re going to do.
  5. Lead out in extending trust to others.

Perhaps you have similar questions and doubts about trust in your company and business field. If so then you’ll want to join us on January 5th to hear Covey explain the details of this concept and take questions from participants. The Five Key Actions to Creating Smart Trust webinar is free for Soundview subscribers, and is Covey’s first engagement around the publication of the book.



Will Your Company Be Around in 20 Years?

The pace of change in business is increasing faster than ever. Consider how long an average company from the S&P 500 stays in the index. In 1955 it was estimated to be 45 years; in 1975, 26 years; and in 2009, 17 years. At this rate, half of the companies that appeared in the 2010 S&P 500 Index are likely to have left it before 2020.

How can you guarantee staying power for your company? Scott Keller and Colin Price offer the answer in their new book Beyond Performance. They argue that what really needs to be measured and developed is the health of the organization. The authors define organizational health as “its ability to align, execute and renew itself.”

Keller and Price draw their conclusions from more than a decade of research, drawing on input from more than 600,000 executives and employees from over 500 organizations across the globe, some 900 academic books and articles, and hands-on practical work with more than 100 client organizations.

From this research they developed a process to transform company health and performance, based on what they call the “5As.”

  1. Aspire (where do we want to go?) is about setting overall performance goals and the health aspirations that will enable them to be achieved.
  2. Assess (how ready are we to make the journey?) is about determining what capabilities and shifts in underlying mindsets are needed to reach the aspirations.
  3. Architect (what do we need to do to get there?) is about developing a portfolio of initiatives to improve performance and planning how to implement them to shape the desired mindsets and behaviors.
  4. Act (how do we manage the journey?) is about adopting the right scaling-up model, using governance to ensure broad ownership, and measuring performance and health rigorously throughout.
  5. Advance (how do we keep moving forward?) is about establishing the mechanisms and building the leadership capacity to drive continuous improvement.

If you would like to learn more about how you can measure company health and guarantee the longevity of your organization, join us for our December 15th Soundview Live webinar, How to Achieve and Sustain Organizational Excellence, and bring your questions for Scott Keller.