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Partnering for Success – 3 Ways to Put Customers First

August 31, 2017

cv_handshake-12225775.jpgEmbracing (and demonstrating) behaviors that prompt customers to feel like they are a priority is a unique differentiator for organizations who have mastered how to put their customers first. I recently purchased a new car and was wowed at the “customer lounge” I’ll have access to if I choose to stay on site during future – and fingers crossed, mostly routine – service appointments. Free wi-fi, comfortable couches, coffee, and candy? Don’t mind if I do!

So, what is customer first? To me it’s a mindset – a workstyle we adopt and incorporate into each of our customer interactions and professional engagements. It means thinking, speaking, and acting in a way that first considers the customer’s needs to provide a focused experience based on their goals and desired results. Organizations often demonstrate their customer-focused missions through “customer-lounge type” perks like I mentioned above and other generous benefits, but I believe it’s first and foremost an action that begins with us as individuals. After all, we are living, breathing creators of the customer experience.

Here are three quick, high-level tips for adopting a customer first mentality:

Understand your customers and think proactively

Know your customers and how they do business to better anticipate their needs and make recommendations that are truly aligned with their objectives. Did you know there’s a nationally observed day dedicated to this each quarter?

Listen actively

Don’t just hear what people say, truly pay attention and listen during conversations. Check out The Art of Active Listening for more tips on how to give customers your undivided attention!

Speak in one voice

Make sure you’ve communicated with your colleagues and know all the facts to deliver a unified experience. As Francis Vijay says in the Kronos Services: Partnering for Success video for Government, Education, and Public Safety, “…there is only one goal – that is the success of the client in implementing the solution with the best possible practice out there.”

Working customer-first provides a strong and sturdy foundation for your organization to deliver a consistent, value-based customer experience across the board.

The Art of Active Listening

August 29, 2017

In today’s guest post, Gil Lhotka, Director of Customer Success at Kronos, dives deeper into the concept of “Active Listening” as the third of the 5 Commandments of Customer Success.  We’ll take a closer look at how listening helps Customer Success Managers with the relationships they have with their clients. 

Listen to your customers to provide valuable insight. Simply put, active listening is the act of concentrating, understanding, and responding during a conversation in a way that leads to remembering the discussion. It has been said that we remember 20% of what we hear and 30% of what we see and hear. That’s shocking to me. It means that during a 10-minute conversation with a customer, we might only be clearly remembering 2-3 minutes of the discussion. Nobody wants that outcome, so how do you change it? Here are a few techniques to help you practice the art of active listening:

Avoid distractions

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It’s best to be comfortable and fully situated when having important conversations. For example, hunger and stress have both been shown as factors that impair focus. Technology is another. If you’re on the phone, turn away from the computer screen and disable text and instant message applications. In person, look the speaker in the eye and disregard what’s around you. Pay attention to body language as well. Position is a clear indication of a listener’s interest or of his or her understanding of the discussion.

Show that you’re listening

Just as you should be aware of the customer’s body language, you should also take notice of your own. Give cues to let customers know they have your undivided attention. Nod, ask questions, or jot down notes. Your level of engagement will influence how comfortable the customer feels about opening up to you. Be sure that your posture is inviting the conversation rather than dissuading it. A study by Dr. Mehrabian in his book Silent Messages found that 93% of communication is non-verbal – 55% of that is body language, and 38% is from the tone of your voice. These statistics are quite shocking and reinforce the value of video conferencing or in-person communication when feasible.

Clarify what you hear

We all process information and ideas differently, and our unique perspectives can affect how we interpret conversations. Validate what you hear to avoid misunderstanding. This means acknowledging and summarizing the issue, challenge, victory, etc. Taking an extra moment to clarify ensures that you and the customer are on the same page moving forward.

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is also the most obvious. Just listen. Our minds tend to race ahead of the conversation to the next topic on the agenda or to how we’ll respond to a comment. This is called shift response, and it’s more distracting than you’d think. It’s far better to give a support response, listen carefully to everything the customer has to say, and then formulate your reply after they have finished.

Once we realize these challenges and understand how we can overcome them, we’ll be better listeners as well as better communicators. We can engage with people in a way that results in meaningful, value-based conversations.

Partnering for Success – Are you a Customer of a Customer?

August 24, 2017

RT_Grocer2I rounded the corner a little too quickly at my local grocery store last week and smacked my arm into something attached to the wall. I looked down, very annoyed, only to end up smiling at the Kronos InTouch responsible for my tingling elbow.

With a customer base that includes more than half of the Fortune 1000, it’s rare that I end my day without assuming the role of “customer” at a company or store that is a Kronos customer as well. It’s pretty neat, actually. Realizing this connection is always a cheerful feeling, and I find that there’s something reassuring about the familiarity.

Project Manager, Sarah Wooldridge, describes it perfectly in the new Kronos Services Partnering for Success video for Retail and Hospitality. She explains that there’s a mutual appreciation for one another, providing a strong foundation for understanding each other’s businesses.

Kronos Services professionals are well-versed in the retail industry – and not just because of their time at Kronos. They come from careers working at supermarkets, department stores, warehouses, and family businesses. This industry experience helps them relate to your challenges and better pinpoint your most important business needs – whether it’s shaping the quality of the retail customer experience or leveraging data to support your customer experience strategy – to offer truthful and transparent best practice recommendations.

Check out our industry page for more on Kronos for Retail!

How to Muster the Courage to be Kind

August 22, 2017

Today’s guest post is another from Gil Lhotka, Director of Customer Success at Kronos. He dives deeper into the concept of “empathy,” as the second of the 5 Commandments of Customer Success.

Be Empathetic.

“Don’t find fault with the man that limps, Or stumbles along the road. Unless you have worn the moccasins, he wears, Or stumbled beneath the same road.”

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These words written in 1895 by Mary T Lathrop are still quoted daily around the world. We have shortened them to “Walk a mile in his or her shoes.” The quote reminds us to consider someone else’s point of view, position, and personal impact.

Every organization has different challenges, and understanding what they are at the surface is only part of the recipe for success. Beyond simply knowing and understanding the problems that customers face, we also have to recognize the impact those challenges have on their organizations and on them as individuals. We build stronger relationships when we internalize the personal and professional impact of other’s experiences.

Years ago, I collaborated with a client struggling with turnover rates. Each time a new person joined the team and was brought up to speed, someone else would leave, and the process would repeat. This cycle continuously delayed the original timeline, as progress would halt while key positions were sought after, hired, and trained. It was frustrating for all parties involved. Decisions were questioned and sometimes reversed, and disagreements were frequent.

It’s during these challenging times that relationships have the greatest opportunities to strengthen. In a candid discussion, I inquired about the turnover and learned that the company was moving their corporate headquarters across the country. Without a clear understanding of what the relocation would mean, the uncertain employees pursued employment at other companies. With this new information, I could empathize with the customer’s situation and imagine what it must feel like to be in his position.

CV_Meeting-LaptopWe started to work together differently moving forward. We determined an action strategy, put plans in place to quickly address project team member onboarding for new employees, and discussed the reasons behind previously agreed upon decisions.

Mary T. Lathrop said it well in her now famous poem titled Judge Softly. These types of scenarios play out every week, and if we look for the opportunities to ‘walk a mile in someone else’s shoes,’ we often walk away with even stronger, trusted relationships.

Partnering for Success – We’ve talked the talk, and walked the walk.

August 17, 2017

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Workforce management is more than just technology – it’s a strategy. And Kronos is more than just a technology provider – we’re your strategic partner. But what makes us fit to take on this role? How can Kronos Services professionals relate to what you’re experiencing?

Because they’ve been there. Kronos Services employees are industry-focused, domain experts who have “talked the talk and walked the walk” – this is one of my favorite quotes from the new Kronos Services: Partnering for Success video for Manufacturing. As a customer, there is nothing more comforting than working with a credible source who has been there, done it, and can relate to the challenges and stresses you’re facing.

Check out the video to learn about their commitment to helping you achieve your desired outcomes.

Increasing ROI and Strengthening Relationships

August 15, 2017

Gil Lhotka, Director of Customer Success at Kronos, dives deeper into the concept of “defining value,” as the first of the 5 Commandments of Customer Success.

Know your customers’ definition of “value.”

Let’s face it; our clients donCV_discussion‘t purchase our products and services or do business with us simply because they like us. Don’t get me wrong, that’s certainly part of it; but, what they want, need, and may have even put their careers on the line for is a return on their investment – on the partnership they’ve stepped into as one of our valued customers.

A McKinsey-Oxford study of over 5400 large IT projects demonstrated that the average return on investment was 56% lower than expected. How can that be? I believe it’s because change is not always fully embraced. Team members tend to return to the daily grind and go back to the way they’ve always worked. They lose sight of the original goal and their responsibility to keep improving it.

Software vendors can be just as guilty of this and begin thinking of value in terms of the product features rather than the organizational outcomes access to those features and functionalities can create. To influence the return on investment and the results the customer expects, we must truly understand what they see as valuable. But it doesn’t stop there. We have to know the why as well.

Let’s use a couple real world examples to illustrate the importance of the why in value attainment:  A customer in the skilled labor field wants the ability for employees to use mobile devices to request time off and view their schedules from home. The client shares that they want to have a more engaged workforce. It’s clear that they have a desire to use mobile and will likely track how they leverage this functionality as a way to see if they hit their goal. But the real question is why do they want mobile, why do they want employees to be more engaged? From a customer success perspective, this is what we need to uncover.3-Devices-MobileOnly

So why? We do some digging and learn that the customer is also concerned with a lack of qualified and able workers to take on new roles. The increasing average age of employees and baby boomers retiring could affect their organization. Using mobile to create an engaged workforce may allow the average employee to stay longer before retirement. Doing so can reduce overtime costs required to continue to produce their product with a decreasing staff size.

Another customer in hospitality or retail is concerned with attracting and retaining staff. Something as simple as allowing requests for time off and access to schedules from home may set them apart from competitors and attract prospective employees to available job openings.

In both examples, the customer’s goal is to achieve an “engaged workforce,” but the root causes are different. Focusing on the success of the client allows us to make a real difference in their business outcomes. Additionally, this also helps us create a shared success path that monitors the correct data. In one example, we may be measuring overtime reduction and the average age of retirement. In the other, it may be hiring trends.

When working with customers, I encourage you to consider and uncover the why. Get to know them and their business. Ask follow-up questions, push the envelope a little, peel another layer of the onion to help them successfully reach the value they’re looking for and receive high ROI on their solution. The insights we gain and what we do with them will bring positive outcomes for all involved and result in stronger customer partnerships.

8 Reasons Why November is the Best Month – KronosWorks, Pumpkin Spice, and Everything Nice

August 10, 2017

November is the best month of the year. Here’s why:

  1. Fall is in full swing
  2. History is made every 4 years with US presidential elections
  3. Also in the US, we have ThanksgivingNew Demensions In Work.png
  4. Pumpkin spice everything is everywhere
  5. It’s holiday shopping season
  6. If you like literature, Mark Twain was born in November
  7. I was born in November…does this make me biased?
  8. But another reason why November is a great month is because of KronosWorks!

Are you going? This year’s event will take place November 12th through the 15th in Las Vegas. Come together with Kronos experts for insight on building, managing, and maintaining the workforce you want – and have the chance to network with other Kronos customers as well. From the bustling excitement in our expo hall to the vast selection of content-rich sessions, chances are, whatever you’re interested in, there’s a booth or a discussion for that.

Check out the list of all the available sessions in the 2017 groupSessions Catalog! If you’d like to meet with Kronos Services professionals one-on-one for best practice advice on implementations and upgrades, make sure to visit us in the Expo Hall.

And a noteworthy fun fact? Save $100 when you register before September 15!

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