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Skype – this is what “loving your customers” is all about January 2, 2011

Posted by utehagen in Customer Appreciation, Delivering Happiness, Loving your Customers, Understanding Customers, Your personal success.
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I was very impressed when I woke up this morning to the below message from SKYPE.

They understand how important the reliablility of their service is to their customers. And as a response to the recent outage, they didn’t just try to ignore it and hope that people didn’t mind too much. Instead they came out with an apology and even a token of appreciation with a voucher. They took the great opportunity to reach out to their customers. BRAVO!

Message from SKYPE: To our valued customers:

As 2010 draws to a close, I would like to take a moment to thank each of you for your patience, understanding, and support during Skype’s recent outage.

We know how important your Skype conversations are to you and we take any disruption to our service very seriously. We are pleased to confirm that Skype is back to normal allowing you to connect with friends, co-workers, family and loved ones.

As a valued customer of Skype, we would like to offer you a sincere apology and offer you our gratitude with a credit voucher worth a call of more than 30 minutes to a landline in some of our most popular countries, such as USA, UK, Germany, China, Japan. Or spend it however you like on Skype.

Thank you for allowing us at Skype to be a part of your life. May your holidays and the New Year be a time of joy, peace, and health for you and your family.

Kind regards, Tony Bates CEO Skype

7 ways to jumpstart healthy change in your life September 21, 2010

Posted by utehagen in Business Opportunities, Delivering Happiness, Healthy Lifestyle, Understanding Customers, Your personal success.
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I just found this very insightful article from the Harvard Medical School, that I greatly recommend to read and to follow the link back to the original.

The day-to-day choices you make influence whether you maintain vitality as you age or develop life-shortening illnesses and disabling conditions like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and stroke. You may understand exactly what you need to do to enjoy a healthier, happier life: carve out time to exercise, perhaps, or find a way to ratchet down stress. There’s just one hitch. You haven’t done it yet.

Often, the biggest hurdle is inertia. It’s true that it isn’t easy to change ingrained habits like driving to nearby locations instead of walking, let’s say, or reaching for a donut instead of an apple. However, gradually working toward change improves your odds of success. Here are some strategies that can help you enact healthy change in your life, no matter what change (or changes) you’d like to make.

Seven steps to shape your personal plan

Shaping your personal plan starts with setting your first goal. Break down choices that feel overwhelming into tiny steps that can help you succeed.

1. Select a goal. Choose a goal that is the best fit for you. It may not be the first goal you feel you should choose. But you’re much more likely to succeed if you set priorities that are compelling to you and feel attainable at present.
2. Ask a big question. Do I have a big dream that pairs with my goal? A big dream might be running a marathon or climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, wiggling back into a closet full of clothes you love, cutting back on blood pressure medication, or playing games and sports energetically with your children. One word to the wise: if you can’t articulate a big dream, don’t get hung up on this step. You can still succeed in moving toward your goal through these other approaches.
3. Pick your choice for change. Select a choice that feels like a sure bet. Do you want to eat healthier, stick to exercise, diet more effectively, ease stress? It’s best to concentrate on just one choice at a time. When a certain change fits into your life comfortably, you can then focus on the next change.
4. Commit yourself. Make a written or verbal promise to yourself and one or two supporters you don’t want to let down: your partner or child, a teacher, doctor, boss, or friends. That will encourage you to slog through tough spots. Be explicit about the change you’ve chosen and why it matters to you. If it’s a step toward a bigger goal, include that, too. I’m making a commitment to my health by planning to take a mindful walk, two days a week. This is my first step to a bigger goal: doing a stress-reducing activity every day (and it helps me meet another goal: getting a half-hour of exercise every day). I want to do this because I sleep better, my mood improves, and I’m more patient with family and friends when I ease the stress in my life.
5. Scout out easy obstacles. Maybe you’d love to try meditating, but can’t imagine having the time to do it. Or perhaps your hopes for eating healthier run aground if you’re hungry when you walk through the door at night, or your kitchen cabinets and refrigerator aren’t well-stocked with healthy foods.
6. Brainstorm ways to leap over obstacles. Now think about ways to overcome those roadblocks. Not enough time? I’ll get up 20 minutes early for exercises and fit in a 10-minute walk before lunch. Cupboard bare of healthy choices? I’ll think about five to 10 healthy foods I enjoy and will put them on my grocery list.
7. Plan a simple reward. Is there a reward you might enjoy for a job well done? For example, if you hit most or all of your marks on planned activities for one week, you’ll treat yourself to a splurge with money you saved by quitting smoking, a luxurious bath, or just a double helping of the iTunes application “Attaboy.” Try to steer clear of food rewards, since this approach can be counterproductive.

I would like to add that there is one type of Chocolate — Xocai Healthy Chocolate — that is very different and can be used as a health promoting reward.

To order the full article from the Harvard Medical School Health Beat, click here

How to get the best creativity to build your business July 1, 2010

Posted by utehagen in Delivering Happiness, Marketing 101, On line Marketing success, Understanding Customers, Your personal success.
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I just found a great Blog Post by Jim Stengel, former Chief Marketing Officer at Procter & Gamble with his 8 tips on how the get the best creative work from Agencies.

Read his Post at:   http://tiny.cc/45s2x

This is also relevant for Entrepreneurs because it talks about being passionate about what you are doing, your product and service and to think about how it can serve a higher purpose in improving people’s lives. This will inspire you to be your most creative and if you are using the help of Agency Creatives, it will be very important for their creativity as well.

To be able to think about a higher purpose, you need to know those that you are serving (your customers) better than your spouses or others that are significant in your life. You can only serve people if you know what will make their lives better.

And as I described in my earlier post ( http://tiny.cc/j4xnd ) about happiness and health, serving a higher purpose is what actually makes us as human beings happier and healthier. What a perfect win-win situation.

Secrets to winning with Aging Consumers June 21, 2010

Posted by utehagen in Boomer Marketing, Marketing 101, Understanding Customers, Your personal success.
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I just read a very insightful article on Mediapost:

Understand What And How The Consumer Thinks by Jim Gilmartin

http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=130551&lfe=1

If you want to be successful with your business endeavors, you must understand the demographic trends that are a fact of life: the Boomer Generation is coming of age, they are starting to age, and therefore the majority of your potential customers are changing in terms of their needs. What worked for you 10 years ago marketing to them, will no longer work. Therefore it is critical that you spent the time to really understand how the Boomer generation thinks and therefore how to relate to them.

As human beings move through the different seasons of their life, their deep motivations change completely.

I highly recommend to read the referenced article and to stop and spend the time to understand your aging customer base.  It will have a positive reflection on your turnover and bottom line, whatever your business is.

How to be healthy and successful June 16, 2010

Posted by utehagen in Delivering Happiness, Marketing 101, Understanding Customers, Your personal success.
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I just found the below information on the Harvard University Medical School Health Beat. And while it talks about personal Health, my experience of more than 20 years in the corporate business world tells me that this connection also exists for organizations, teams and companies.

And also: only a happy, healthy person can be truly successful.

Now: think about it as a MARKETER — this gives you tremendous insight into our potential customers. What can you do with your product or service that will help your customers to feel good, to fully engage and to do good? Always think about these BENEFITS, they are in the final end why people buy a product or service.

The happiness-health connection

Want to improve your health? Start by focusing on the things that bring you happiness. There is some scientific evidence that positive emotions can help make your life longer and healthier.

But to produce good health, positive emotions may need to be long term. In other words, thinking positive thoughts for a month when you already have heart disease won’t cure the disease. But lowering your stress levels over a period of years with a positive outlook and relaxation techniques could reduce your risk of heart problems.

Pathways to happiness

In an early phase of positive psychology research, University of Pennsylvania psychologist Martin Seligman and Christopher Peterson of the University of Michigan chose three pathways to examine:

  • Feeling good. Seeking pleasurable emotions and sensations, from the hedonistic model of happiness put forth by Epicurus, which focused on reaching happiness by maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain.
  • Engaging fully. Pursuing activities that engage you fully, from the influential research by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. For decades, Csikszentmihalyi explored people’s satisfaction in their everyday activities, finding that people report the greatest satisfaction when they are totally immersed in and concentrating on what they are doing—he dubbed this state of intense absorption “flow.”
  • Doing good. Searching for meaning outside yourself, tracing back to Aristotle’s notion of eudemonia, which emphasized knowing your true self and acting in accordance with your virtues.

Through focus groups and testing hundreds of volunteers, they found that each of these pathways individually contributes to life satisfaction.

Things that won’t make you happy

People tend to be poor judges of what will make them happy. While most people say they want to be happy, they often believe in myths or carry assumptions that actually get in the way. Here are some widely held myths about what will bring happiness:

  • Money and material things. The question of whether money can buy happiness has, for more than 30 years, been addressed by the “Easterlin paradox,” a concept developed by economist Richard Easterlin. His research showed that people in poor countries are happier when their basic necessities are covered. But any money beyond that doesn’t make much difference in happiness level.
  • Youth. Being young and physically attractive has little or no bearing on happiness. In a study published by Richard Easterlin in 2006 in the Journal of Economic Psychology, not only did being young fail to contribute to happiness, but adults grew steadily happier as they moved into and through middle age. After that, happiness levels began to decline slowly as health problems and other life problems emerged.
  • Children. Children can be a tremendous source of joy and fulfillment, but their day-to-day care is quite demanding and can increase stress, financial pressures, and marital strife. When ranking their happiness during daily activities, mothers report being more happy eating, exercising, shopping, napping, or watching TV than when spending time with their children. In several studies, marital satisfaction declines after the first child is born and only recovers after the last child leaves home. Personal relationships of all types are important, however. In studies, being married, having more friends, and having sexual intercourse more often are all moderately or strongly associated with happiness.

How do you know if you’re in flow?

  • You lose awareness of time. You aren’t watching the clock, and hours can pass like minutes. As filmmaker George Lucas puts it, talent is “a combination of something you love a great deal and something you can lose yourself in—something that you can start at 9 o’clock, look up from your work and it’s 10 o’clock at night … .”
  • You aren’t thinking about yourself. You aren’t focused on your comfort, and you aren’t wondering how you look or how your actions will be perceived by others. Your awareness of yourself is only in relation to the activity itself, such as your fingers on a piano keyboard, or the way you position a knife to cut vegetables, or the balance of your body parts as you ski or surf.
  • You aren’t interrupted by extraneous thoughts. You aren’t thinking about such mundane matters as your shopping list or what to wear tomorrow.
  • You are active. Flow activities aren’t passive, and you have some control over what you are doing.
  • You work effortlessly. Flow activities require effort (usually more effort than involved in typical daily experience). Although you may be working harder than usual, at flow moments everything is “clicking” and feels almost effortless.


Delivering Happiness – Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh shares the secret June 7, 2010

Posted by utehagen in Delivering Happiness, Marketing 101, On line Marketing success, Understanding Customers, Your personal success, Zappos.com.
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Many people have already joined a new movement: Delivering Happiness — triggered by the release of the new book by Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh. You can find more information about the book at this link: http://www.deliveringhappinessbook.com

I received a free advance copy of the book and devoured it over the weekend. However, my review of the book is in no way influenced by this.

I highly recommend this book to any entrepreneur as well as corporate executives who are serious about their commitment to create enduring success for their business. The formula, that is both simple, but still so hard to executie is: Purpose, Passion and Profits. Although in the book the order is the other way around, it is really this order that generates sustained business success. Tony writes in a very direct and refreshing style about his personal development journey and how it has influenced his entrepreneurial endeavors. He clearly is an entrepreneur at heart, but what he has learned by experience really does apply to any successful business undertaking. It all culminates in the rise of Zappos.com, which is a great branding story and at the very core of it all is a commitment to creating happiness for customers, employees, vendors and shareholders. As an experienced Brand Builder, who passionately believes in the value of brand purpose as I have experienced the power of it, I highly applaud Tony for taking it one step further from “serving consumers” to “creating happiness”.

Do yourself a personal favor and pick up the book (it’s available on Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/deliveringhappiness ). It is a pleasant read and if you truly “listen” to the message, it will change your life for ever.

Zappos: How to deliver Profits, Passion and Purpose May 25, 2010

Posted by utehagen in Marketing 101, On line Marketing success, Understanding Customers, Your personal success.
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Sounds impossible?

Well, it isn’t and Tony Hsieh has proven it with ZAPPOS by creating a $1.2 Billion business from scratch. Many of you may have heard about Zappos and others may say “who?” Tony has written a book about his experience that will start shipping on June 7th, 2010. He has also teamed up with others to create the “deliver happiness” movement.

Sounds slightly weird? Well, that’s what Tony and the Zappos culture are. Check out the preview at http://www.deliveringhappinessbook.com/ and pre-order your book immediately.

How to win the hearts and minds of Boomers May 24, 2010

Posted by utehagen in Boomer Marketing, Marketing 101, Understanding Customers.
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I just saw a great article published by Matt Thornhill of the Boomer Project which whom I worked while I led customer understanding at the world’s leading consumer goods company.

Boomers are a very important, yet today underserved, customer group. They are underserved because they are entering a life stage (50+) at which time they typically get ignored by companies, who generally target the 18-49 year old demographic.

There is a huge opportunity in figuring out to win the hearts and minds of Boomers because they are the biggest generational group in the US and other Western countries and they are here to stay for a lot longer.

Matt points out that with entering the “middle age life stage”, people’s motivations change dramatically as they move on from “becoming someone” to “being someone”. Please read the attached article which gives a great illustration of this phenomenon.   http://tiny.cc/i6s7q

17 Revelations On How An Online Retailer Went From Zero to $1.2 Billion May 22, 2010

Posted by utehagen in Marketing 101, On line Marketing success, Your personal success.
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I highly recommend to read this post on Jeff Bulla’s Blog. It is a great case study on how the single-minded commitment to fulfilling consumer needs is not only creating a great financial success, but also happier people — both the customers and the employees. This is how you create true profitable differentiation by better fulfilling customer needs. It’s not difficult, it just requires a personal commitment and change of mind-set.

http://tiny.cc/fpwke

How to build a large and passionately loyal following? March 27, 2010

Posted by utehagen in Business Opportunities, On line Marketing success, Your personal success.
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The secret to any meaningful human interaction is PASSION. What really makes any person act is an EMOTION, a “gut feeling”, and not a rationale argument, brilliant as it may be.

So, you need to bring passion, both your own and that of your employees, to the forefront.

Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at Marketingprofs, just published a great article in the American Express Open Forum titled: Secrets to Earning Passionate Fans (Not Just Customers), and the Top 3 Things Stopping Your Company from Being the Next Zappos http://snipurl.com/v3psx   [www_openforum_com]

She reviews a new book by Jeanne Bliss: “I love you more than my dog” who in turn has studies companies that enjoy exceptional consumer loyalty.

It is all about the deliberate decisions that you, as an entrepreneur, make about how you will act and what the purpose for your enterprise is and then to act accordingly.