A guest post by Jamie Diamond
Do you lead an intergalactic customer reference program for a Fortune 500 company, or maybe you’re the one-stop-shop, all things customer reference at a start-up?
Regardless of your title or company name, all customer reference folks are trying to accomplish more results in less time and with “creative” budgets and limited staff. Based loosely on the book, The 4- Hour Workweek, by Timothy Ferriss, the following tips are for reference pros desiring to become RELENTLESSLY EFFICIENT.
STOP DROP and ELIMINATE
Yes, I said stop, which is the opposite of doing. Take a step back and really look at all of your daily and weekly customer reference chores, meetings and routine habits. Put on your “Busy Work Binoculars” and be honest, what things do you do or commit to that grind the clock rather than spitting out a public or private customer reference to help the company grow (IFDH – INSERT FAVORITE DELIVERABLE HERE)?
Your reference program hopefully has a process – make it the most efficient one possible. Are five groups and 12 people involved in getting a customer logo approved for public use? Do you take on non-essential tasks that distract you from producing IFDH in mass? Every meeting, every spreadsheet, every email, every drive-bye co-worker task-ask is SUSPECT.
Everything is negotiable if the best interest of your company is on the line; cutting the fat is smart and justifiable. Just make sure you pitch the boss on why you’ll be more productive and increase results.
THE PHONE – IT STILL WORKS
I’m not sure when it happened, but one day we all started to rely solely on email, IM and texting for communicating, but I’m here to reel you all back in – USE THE PHONE.
Has this ever happened to you? You’ve sent an email request. It’s next week and you’ve heard nothing back, so you reply to the email asking again, but this time you use different words. Still nothing. Soon you have what looks like a serial chain letter except you are the only one typing.
As soon as your brain processes the fact that you’ve been ignored or stood-up, dial the person’s phone number and talk to them. It’s amazing what level of productivity fireworks occur when your voices meet instead of someone easily shuffling/ignoring your email into the cyber circular file. If you do this just once a day, that’s 365 times an average of six pointless, non-replied-to follow-up emails per day, thus eliminating hundreds of thousands of carpal tunnel-causing keystrokes.
Yes, phone calls are old-school and seem very manual and counter-intuitive, but they also put a stop to endless email strings that we sadly think, “OH, they are sure to reply to this one. I used better words this time and sent it at the ideal time between brunch and lunch to catch their attention.”
TOOLS CAN BE HELPFUL OR HURTFUL
We all have our favorite tools of the trade. Some are obvious, some got re-tweeted and hashtagged to us from heaven. The same relentless efficiency rules apply to tools as well. Do you use your tools or do your tools use you? The following are tools I use as well as tools I find SUSPECT (if I’ve marked your favorite tool as suspect…EXACTLY/GREAT/PERFECT…I’d love to hear how you use it to be efficient and productive. (F for favorite, S for suspect).
F Gmail – If you use Gmail or you have a Gmail-based corporate system, you know what I mean. If you don’t, I implore you to simply try it out and get that other system off your hard-drive, plus, you’ll be able to say you deployed a cloud solution – pretty cool.
F Call Recording/Transcribing – No clue how I lived without these two gems – record and transcribe every “important” customer call and leverage the mp3 and the transcript for about 1,000,000 uses inside/outside your company. There are tons of these services. Choose yours based on price/service/simplicity – Intercall and Verbalink are two I’ve had success with.
F/S Customer Tracker – Is your dirty little secret that you use an Excel document to keep track of your customers and your to-do items? It’s ok, let’s hug and cry it out, we’ve all been there. Whatever tool or system you do use, make sure you’re only using the features and functions that get stuff done.
S CRM Systems – If you’re in marketing and you use the sales people’s version of Salesforce, stop the madness. Or, if you have a heavy CRM system that interlocks the entire company from the CEO to the janitor, please make sure it doesn’t make you set parameters every 10 seconds or have 100 pull-down menus and costs $5K to speak to customer service for a “custom view.”
To sum it all up, sure, I’ve detailed some efficiency tips to get more IFDH results, but you’ve got to want to make even small changes to routines and existing processes. It can be like pulling off the proverbial band aid – sometimes a quick yank and everything is back to normal in a flash. Happy yanking!
About the Author
Jamie Diamond has been pitching the press and doing start-up PR since the invention of WebTV. He owns and operates what he says is the only customer reference focused PR agency on the planet, Diamond PR, Inc. Mr. Diamond is also co-founder of what PR Week could have described as the most simple “un-CRM” customer reference tool CustomerWinHQ.