Relationship-Based Business

“Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.” -Benjamin Franklin 

We are moving into our 10th year of being in business. It’s an exciting milestone and as I reflect on the last ten years; I am so proud of what we have accomplished. You are an important member of a team that is focused on providing groundbreaking, innovative, and meaningful consulting to our clients. We set out to improve the quality of the customer experience. We have lofty goals of making millions of people a little bit happier every day – our contribution to the world. 

We’ve learned that it doesn’t just require SDL Tridion skills, creative expertise or consulting skills, we’ve learned time and time again it takes great teamwork to achieve results for our clients. Teamwork is inclusive of our clients; our best accounts are the ones in which we become strategic partners with them. You can measure the health of a consulting company by examining the strength and quality of its relationships. 

When I think about goals for 2020, one is to improve our relationships, internally and externally. Go find a relationship that needs work and work on it. Make a difference in the little things and the big things. I always appreciated the saying… “people don’t care about how much you know until they know who much you care”. When I worked at Nordstrom, we sent thank-you notes to each of our customers, it was a little thing but a meaningful one. So, let’s show our clients and our co-workers how much we care.  
 
Let’s go be great! 
Brad 

Consulting 101

“You’re alive, that means you have infinite potential. You can do anything, make anything, dream anything. If you can change the world, the world will change. Potential.” – Neil Gaiman 

Consulting 101 

Over the past several weeks we have all been hustling to close and deliver new work. I cannot tell you how proud I am of all of the energy being put into our new client, Zimmer Biomet as well as our other clients. Each of you is delivering world-class work product for our clients and I am so excited about this next wave of Tahzoo. 
 
As we onboard these clients and begin working together I thought it was a good time to refresh everyone on our standards for consulting. Let’s call it consulting 101.

Here are the main overarching themes: 

  • Perception is Reality: Be on time for meetings. You never get a second chance… This is a basic fundamental.  
  • We are Tahzoo, you are Tahzoo: You are representing all of us. It doesn’t matter the request, we all chip in and have each other’s backs. 
  • The Client’s Success is Tahzoo’s Success: Ask yourself “What can I do to make our client more successful?” 
  • Listen Before you Act: Don’t talk about solutions yet, first define the problem we need to solve. 
  • Understand the Problem: Go on the client journey together. 
  • Understand the Solution: Understand where the client is coming from, have an open mind.  
  • Take Action: Talk is cheap- do something! 
  • Follow Through: Your word is your promise. 
  • Results = Success: Show the difference you are making! 
  • Rinse and Repeat: The more we do this work, the better we will be. 
  • Everybody is a Client Manager: Build Relationships- listen for opportunity, make the most of our team. 

We have to hold ourselves to high standards. There is no such thing as an undisciplined, yet a successful team. 
 
I am proud of all of you- we’re moving in the right direction, just keep going! 

 
Let’s go be great! 
Brad 

Last Full Week in June

“Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.” -Peter Drucker 

Last full week in June…  
 
I saw my doctor this week for my annual checkup. Pleased to say I am in good health with the possible exception that my blood pressure was a bit too high as you could probably imagine, my stress level is likely to blame. However, this started an important conversation with my doctor about how to manage this situation, what were my options? How serious is this? Do I need to do something or just wait? What is the timing for treatment? And lastly, do we need more information to make a good decision? 
 
So the reason I am sharing this with you is that my doctor is a great consultant. 
 
He is smart and happy. I always feel great when I spend time with him. He is interested in me personally and we have a great rapport. Although he’s super busy I never feel like he is rushing with me. He’s fully present and engaged, I never see him check a phone or email while we are meeting. 
 
There is no doubt he’s smart, so much so that he’s willing to take the time to explain things to me. He entertains all of my questions, even when they are obviously misplaced or counter to his guidance. I feel like he helps me understand the issues so I can make good choices. It’s obvious he takes pride in educating others without trying to build his own ego.   
 
He explains to me how he is going to diagnosis an issue and then how we are going to use the data/information to make a good decision. I am never confused about the process or what to expect next, I feel like I am going on a ride (He’s driving of course) but I’m never surprised. Like the comfort you feel when you hear a song and you know what the next note is going to be otherwise known as cadence. 
 
When it comes to treatment, we talk about options, benefits, and risks at any level of detail that is important to me. My doctor is not shy about opinions or his recommendations, in fact, I’d say he is quite firm in his point of view, however; the process of deciding is collaborative. He doesn’t just lay out the options and then go with whatever I want; he is taking responsibility for ensuring a positive outcome. 
 
To simplify, the experience I am trying to share is that good consultants do four things really well:  
 
They personally care about their clients 
They freely share their knowledge and experience 
They make sure their clients know how we are going to get things done 
They take responsibility for the outcomes 
 
I want our clients to feel the same comfort and confidence in us as consultants. While we are growing and nurturing the relationships we have to keep in mind that everything we do or say is being weighed heavily. Remember the four principles of being a great consultant as you are building trust with our clients.  
 
Let’s go be great! 
 
Brad 

Doing Right by the Client

I keep coming back to this one idea: if we are to be a truly global consulting company supporting the best brands in their customer experience journey, we need to provide a level of service and quality that is unequaled in the industry. The Tahzoo experience should be a fair exchange of value delivered in a frictionless manner.

I recognize that for Tahzoo (and most companies), we will fall short of our ideals from time to time. We will fail to meet expectations or provide a deliverable that just isn’t up to the Tahzoo standard. The Delivery Lead will have the primary accountability to resolve any issues to the client’s satisfaction. Having made that clear, it’s everyone’s responsibility to delight and exceed client expectations.

Service recovery … It’s how you handle problems, issues, or concerns that matter. Most reputations for great customer service are built on how the company recovers or addresses a misstep or failure in execution. Companies like Nordstrom and Zappos are well known for how they empower their staff to fix issues. Even at Microsoft (not often considered a customer-focused organization) had “Make it Right Funds,” which was a reserve budget for remediating software implementation challenges.

Internal and external relationships
To be great at anything, it takes hard work over an extended period of time. One of the Tahzoo core values is that we hire Smart and Happy people. Every consulting company should and can be measured as a collection of internal and external relationships (this is one reason why we survey all of you so often, ask that you rate your week and your experience with your peers). I often say that you could easily make a determination about the long-term financial success of our company based on this measurement. It’s easier to build great relationships with happy people, teams work better when they are happy, and I would much rather spend my time talking with someone who had a smile in their voice than the alternative.

I remember one misstep at one of our Clients. The customer’s expectation and our deliverable did not match up. These things happen from time to time, but what I really appreciated about how our team responded was that they engaged the customer. There was no recrimination or blaming of the client for not understanding, just an earnest effort to seek to understand the concern, express our apologies for not meeting their expectations and a commitment to resolve the issue to the client’s satisfaction. I was proud of how the team handled this today and I reminded them that the goal isn’t to avoid having problems it’s to make sure that when we do, we go above and beyond to make the client happy.

Keep all of this in mind when hiring and collaborating and when you’re taking care of clients. It always pays to go the extra mile to make a difference for a client. You are empowered to do the right thing by our customers. 

Let’s go be great!

Brad

Growing a Business

growingabiz

As a young manager at Nordstrom, I was speaking with John Nordstrom one day and he was complimenting me on the great service my department was giving. I was pleased to be receiving the compliment; however, I was curious about how he could know that when he’d only spent a limited time on the sales floor with me. So I asked him “how do you know we are giving good service?” He said “happy and well-served customers spend more money. When I looked at your numbers, the increases in your sales are a result of good service.” At that time, my department was one of the fastest growing in the company. He was right in that we had a great team, giving great service and it showed in our numbers.

One of the core values of the company is that if we care about our employees and care about our customers, we’ll have a company worth caring about.

When I think about caring for clients, I think about how they are trusting us with their goals, their work, and ultimately their credibility. This is a precious gift and we need to treat that with the honor and respect it deserves. Understanding and exceeding a client’s expectations is the hallmark of good consulting. When we disappoint a client, it’s rarely a blatant violation of their trust, more often it is what I call benign neglect. An apathy or an unwillingness to understand the client at the right level of detail or the unwillingness to do the little extra. At Nordstrom, if I saw someone walk past a messy table and pretend not to notice, I knew that person needed coaching about the importance of doing all the little extras that made up a great experience for our customers.

So what are the little extras in our business? First, it starts with building a relationship with your client. Most of my clients, I consider friends. Some better than others, but I build relationships based on trust and exceeding expectations. My goal is always to become a trusted advisor to my clients. Whenever I am asked about the secret to building trust, I tell people that trust is a function of consistency over time. When clients can depend on you to consistently meet their needs, they will trust you… If you consistently exceed their expectations, you’ll become a “trusted advisor”.  Back to the little extras, prompt return of phone calls or emails. Handwritten thank-you notes. Being on time and prepared for meetings. Ensuring that your work is client ready or pitch perfect. Ensuring that your team is informed so they can be effective in working with your client. There are many ways in which each of us can do the little extras and build trusted relationships.

.Building trust with customers

We also employ something we call the employee thermometer with customer centricity and customer satisfaction surveys to understand how we are doing as a company and what needs to be fixed in order to make us a great service organization. These tools are critical to ensure that we have the insights we need to make the right investments in the business.

Based on the employee and customer feedback, we are instituting a new role in the company called the Delivery Lead. The Delivery Lead is the single point of accountability within Tahzoo to ensure the quality of our work. In short, the person responsible for making sure we are exceeding client expectations. A DL operates at an account level, overseeing, working on, and guiding multiple workstreams. It is and will continue to be one of the more important roles within our company as we build our digital transformation business. When we consistently deliver great work for our clients they will trust us with more work.

But back to the John Nordstrom story, survey results notwithstanding … how will I know if you’re building trusted relationships and do the little extras to make a client feel appreciated? I’ll see it reflected in the numbers.