Archives for posts with tag: Corporate Strategies


Generally, I record my book reviews on Goodreads but this book by Tony Schwartz was so close to the core mission of BatesHook that I wanted to share it with a wier audience.

The basic premise of the book is: “The furious activity to accomplish more with less exacts a series of silent costs: less capacity for focused attention, less time for any given task, and less opportunity to think reflectively and long term.”

Below are a few of the big ideas that resonated with me:

” Rather than trying to get more out of people, organizations are better served by investing more in them and meeting their multidimensional needs in order to fuel greater engagement and more sustainable high performance.”

“We think of leaders as “chief energy officers.” The core challenge for leaders is to recruit, mobilize, inspire, focus, and regularly refuel the energy of those they lead.”

“Our core emotional need is to feel secure – to be valued and appreciated. The more we feel our value is at risk, the more energy we spend defending it and the less energy we have available to create value.”

“When we default reactively to telling negative stories, we almost invariably assign ourselves the role of victim. It feels better not to blame ourselves for disappointments, but the victim role undermines our power to influence our circumstances. The alternative is to intentionally look for where our responsibility lies in any given situation – and then take remedial action on any part of it that we’re in a position to influence.”

“The key capacities of the right hemisphere – creative and big-picture thinking, openness to learning, and empathy – are a largely untapped source of competitive advantage, both for individuals and for organizations.”

“Deeply held values define the person you aspire to be. They’re what we’re rooted in and what we stand for – an internal compass that helps us navigate the storms and the choices we all inevitably face.”

“There’s a deep disconnect between what many companies say they stand for and what they actually do. This disconnect takes a toll on employee engagement, on productivity, and ultimately on organizational success.”

“A new way of working ultimately requires an evolutionary shift in the center of gravity of our lives – from “me” to “us”.

This is a mature book, deeply rooted in research and real-life examples. It’s for anyone that feels that we’re in the middle of a transformative revolution and doesn’t have an internal blueprint how to work and live in/with this new reality. The content is not limited to workplace issues, it deals with the much bigger issue of becoming a better person and leading a fulfilling life.

Highly recommended.


We’ve heard it many times before: Customer Service is the new marketing. Books have been written about it, presentations given and blogs are filled with this insight. And, most executives understand the importance of delivering supreme service to their customers? Given all that, why are most companies still delivering sub-par Customer Service? Why are we still dealing with phone trees, scripts, badly designed forms? Where id the disconnect?

Most companies are not designed to deliver on the ‘Service as Marketing’ promise

David Armano wrote an insightful post “Social Media Marketing won’t fix your infrastructure problem.” He explains:

“Every business has a series of systems and infrastructure in place to keep it running. Even if the goal is to EVOLVE the communications/marketing arm of your organization because you fundamentally believe that the game is changing—there is no way to do it without picking up the hood and looking at the engine. Not just the oil or the windshield fluid level, but the ENTIRE engine.”

While many marketing departments are evolving and trying to tap into the power of Social Media, the rest of the enterprise continues to work under the old paradigm of Customer Service as a cost center. The much lauded @ComcastCares can’t hide the fact that Comcast as an enterprise doesn’t value their customers as much as they should. Or as Jonathan Salem Baskin writes in his brilliant column titled “The Twitter Tax”

“Tools like Twitter aren’t some dream of customer empowerment, but rather the nightmare reality of the broken relationships between consumers and brands. Responding to online complaints is a tax that companies pay because of the chronic mismatch between what consumers expect from brands and what they ultimately get. An individualized response might momentarily bridge the gap, but it won’t fix it. Never will.”

While I encourage companies to listen and respond on these new channels, the highest priority of companies should be to work on the basics – and improve Customer Service to a point where no more complaints will be expressed and employees and more focused on helping people, less on servicing them. (Just in case you need a few stats to convince the decision makers in your enterprise: Among customers who leave a customer interaction angry, 91% will never come back and 96% of those people will never tell us why they left)

It requires a corporate-wide rethinking of all customer touch points: phone, email, forms, attitudes. But, most importantly, Customer Service Departments have to transform from cost centers to profit centers. No, I’m not talking about up-sell scripts.I’m talking about improving loyalty and customer satisfaction. It requires the design of a new enterprise system that puts Customer Service at the center of all activities. This allows companies to regard each customer interaction as an opportunity to deliver a superior experience and be sincerely helpful.


“When we are narcissistic, we are not on solid ground (earth) or thinking clearly (air) or cought up in passion (fire).  Somehow if we follow the myth, we are dreamlike, fluid, not clearly formed, more immersed in a stream of fantasy than secure in a firm identity.” – Thomas Moore

Mediocre brands love to talk about themselves. Just like the dull dinner companion or date that can only talk about him or herself. It’s hard to escape a dinner date, it’s easy to escape mediocre brands. I just tune them out, throw their stuff in the garbage, don’t even see them.

Great brands talk about what they believe in. What they are passionate about. What they love. They take a stand and tell you what they’re standing against. Sharing with the world what your really believe in is inspiring. Sharing a passion with the world makes people want to connect with a brand. It’s so much easier to connect with people when you share your real identity with the world.

What is your brand passionate about?


Image: Courtesy of Pentagram

You go to a big party and you meet them all: The life and soul of the party, introverts, couples just focusing on themselves, party poopers, the networker, social butterfly. Brands are a little bit like people. Some are meant to be social, some are better off just hiding in their corporate office.

Let’s face it, most people don’t care what a company thinks about things. Do you care about Mercedes-Benz’ mission statement?

We invented the automobile – now we are passionately shaping its future. As a pioneer of automotive engineering, we feel inspired and obliged to continue this proud tradition with groundbreaking technologies and high-quality products.

“We invented the automobile – now we are passionately shaping its future. As a pioneer of automotive engineering, we feel inspired and obliged to continue this proud tradition with groundbreaking technologies and high-quality products.

Our philosophy is clear: we give our best for customers who expect the best – and we live a culture of excellence that is based on shared values. Our corporate history is full of innovations and pioneering achievements; they are the foundation and ongoing stimulus for our claim to leadership in the automotive industry.

The principle of sustainable mobility underlies all of our thoughts and actions. Our goal is to successfully meet the demands of future mobility. And in doing so, we intend to create lasting value – for our shareholders, customers and workforce, and for society in general.”

Are you still awake? This might be important to employees and stakeholders of the company. But as a buyer, I don’t care about your philosophy, your mission or vision. I care that you deliver a sexy, reliable car that makes me feel good about myself. Or whatever your reasons are to buy a car.

The majority of people don’t want to be friend with a brand. They want a brand to do their job and do it better than the competition. Actually, I prefer brands focusing on doing their job and deliver more usefulness to me. I’d rather you stay away from the big Social party and come up with new ideas/services that make my life easier/more delightful.

Still, too many brands are doing social for the sake of doing social. (“We have to be at the party, man.”) They might be better off being anti-social and stay away from the social party crowd. Instead, focusing on social where the brand has weaknesses (Customer Service, Support, Research). There’s nothing wrong with being a socially awkward introvert. Just ask Apple.


This column appeared first at Jack Myers’ MediaBizBlogger site.

Many people in the Social Marketing world say that anything social should be measured with soft metrics (fans, followers, number of conversations) and brands should focus on enhancing the brand by adding a social layer.

Sounds good to me.

Others in the Social Marketing world say that ultimately in marketing it’s always about money: Sales, increase in customer service efficiency (decrease in costs) and more effective ways to communicate with people compared to the guessing game we call advertising.

Sounds good to me.

How can we align both paradigms?

We’re living in tough times. Clients need good returns on their investment. Any discussion about Social Media will touch the money issue: Resources, re-allocation of funds, organizational commitment. Sure, there are organizations where the ROI is fabulous and immediate: Just ask Burger King, Starbucks or Dell.

What about the majority of brands?

Let’s be honest with them: Most likely, Social Marketing won’t deliver immediate sales increases or anything that can be quantified monetary. Social Marketing (well done) will add another layer to the overall brand experience that will help your sales number incrementally.

Will people read your tweets and immediately purchase your product? Hell no.

Will they join your community and share with the world that your brand is just the best and everybody in their social graph should join as well? Doubtful.

Will participation in Social platforms enhance the overall brand experience by providing a positive impression? Absolutely.

So many Social Marketing initiatives have been abandoned because they didn’t deliver immediate results. Don’t blame Social Media or the client for that result. Blame yourself for not setting the right expectations. There’s a lot of value in Social Media. It’s your job to unearth it and keeping it real.


You hear and read it everywhere: Social Media is overhyped. Social Media experts will soon be applying for jobs at Burger King. In the end, the bubble will burst and Social Media will be Second Life 2. Or Zune 3.

Even in the Social Media echo chamber, we can feel the skepticism and defeatism when discussing the future of Social Media. The big agencies and brand will take over and ruin everything. Again. (Cue the Kleenex box.) Brands don’t get it. (Fist against the wall.) Money ruins everything. (Head against the wall.)

And we thought Social Media would change the world.

Let me burst the first bubble: Social Media won’t change the world. Stop drinking that Kool-Aid, it’s not good for you. Technology has changed everything: Transforming people from consumers to producers. Changed human behavior. Redefining human relationships. Transforming how we live. Transforming companies how they do business. Transforming institutions. Changing everything.

Social Media is just one expression of that change. Nothing else. It’s more than another channel to broadcast your messages. But it’s not the messiah that will miraculously change the world.

We wanted to change the world and all we got was Lolcats.

The essence of human beings didn’t change because we have new technologies. Silliness is just another expression of human creativity. But we see people helping each other by using these technologies. On a small scale. On a big scale. I can send my kid every night a good night story while 7,000 miles away and share a video of my experiences in Tokyo with my wife, feeling a connection to my girls. I can meet the woman of my dreams online. I can have meaningful discussions with people all over the world without ever meeting them. Or finally meeting them. And that’s the just bottom of the first inning of a long game. I would argue, this is the bottom of the first inning of a Best of 7 World Series. Soon, you’ll be able to own your own data, share it on your own terms, issue personal RFP’s and revolutionize everything: healthcare, politics, marketing, enterprises – you name it. And that might be bottom of the second inning. Who knows what will happen in Game 7, bottom of the 9th?

So, let’s burst the bubble of the Social bubble.

If you define social as Facebook pages, Twitter feeds or a fancy application: That bubble will burst. I totally agree with you. And you should be cheering for it. Most of these initiatives are just applying the old broadcast strategies, tactics and metrics to a new way of interacting with people.

Social isn’t a beauty contest, a chase to add your follower counts or another popularity contest. These are the LolCats of social. What social is really about is trust, connection and community. Social is about rewiring human beings, communities, societies, business and the world.

So stop whining, stop being afraid of the Twitter/Facebook bubble to burst. Just keep on moving foward. We’ve barely begun.

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” – Clavin Coolidge


I’m staying a few days in Tokyo to speak at ad:tech about Social Media Tracking and ROI. It’s my first time in Tokyo, and when I arrived at my room last night I found this note:

“We are working toward protecting environment and energy saving pertaining to the ecological problems. If you feel unnecessary to have your room cleaned and linen, towels and amenities replaced everyday, please request Non-Cleaning service. In exchange, you will receive the coupon which could be used in the restaurant and hotel shop. Coupon will be issued per day of non-cleaning as follows; ¥1,000 per coupon.”

Basically, I get around $12 in exchange for not cleaning my room. I’ve seen in many hotels rooms around the world the offer not to clean towels/linens because, face it, who needs to get his hotel cleaned room each and every day unless you live the Keith Richards lifestyle? I have 6 towels, 2 beds, my room doesn’t look like an episode of “Hoarders” after one day – not cleaning my room every day seems perfectly reasonable to me. With the exception of the Tokyo hotel, nobody has offered anything in exchange for not cleaning my room. All I got were glossy flyers or brochures, talking about the hotel’s commitment to environment. We all know what’s really behind their green mindset: Cost savings. It costs money to clean towels/linens. It takes a maid at least 30 minutes to clean a room. Skipping one day is a nice way of saving a buck.

But this hotel didn’t bother with a glossy brochure (it’s a rather sad piece of paper). Instead, they offered me real value. $12 I can use to buy my kid a little present, to have a tea and pastry. This little offer for a mutual value exchange left me impressed. They applied the thinking of Behavioral Economics to save themselves money, delighted me, and helped the environment at the same time.

Just imagine airlines would have used the toolbox of Behavioral Economics to get out from under. Reward people not to check too much luggage, offer financial incentives to cut down on carry-on luggage and amenities on board. Give people choices, not just cut, cut, cut – until you make record profits.

Sure, sometimes competitive pressure is so tough that you need cut amenities/services and/or increase costs. We are all adults here. But, how do you think all of us airline passengers feel about record profits for airlines after being treated like a herd of cattle  through a 6-hour flight from Boston to LAX?

Here’s an idea: What if companies made some of their costs transparent to people? You can’t disclose everything, your competitor might eat your for lunch if you disclose your exact profit margins. Just keep it to certain prices that fluctuate constantly. Explain that keeping blankets on board costs you that much money and you give people options to keep those blankets for a price or you will eliminate them. Communicate that fuel prices have increased by 40% (I’m making these numbers up) but tickets prices have remained the same.

Basically, don’t just tell people that you’re going to eliminate blankets and good luck. Communicate your challenges to the public. Integrate your pricing strategy into your overall communication plan. People won’t get that angry when you hike the prices because most of us are adults. We just don’t like to be treated like children. Oh, and the glossy brochure stuff really doesn’t work anymore.


The Customer Experience Impact 2010 report just came out and the numbers are frightening for brands with mediocre or bad customer service:

  • 82% of consumers in the U.S. said they’ve stopped doing business with a company due to a poor customer service experience
  • 95% said they would “take action” after a bad customer experience
  • 79% of U.S. consumers shared their negative customer experience in public and amongst friends
  • 58% of consumers who took their complaints to Facebook/Twitter expected a response from the company, 42% within a day
  • 55% became a customer of a company because of their reputation for good customer service
  • 55% would pay 10% more for a good customer experience

The “I’m mad as hell, and I won’t take it anymore” attitude of people has transformed into “I’m mad as hell, and I will take my business somewhere else”. These are staggering numbers. It’s budgeting season for many companies right now and this report should encourage brands to have another hard look at their budgets: Until your customer service system is close to perfect, does it really make sense to invest that much into marketing/advertising? Aren’t you patching holes while new holes are popping up each and every day, one disgruntled customer at a time?

And, brands should not regard social platforms as the secret bullet. As Techcrunch reports, the demand for human interaction has actually increased:

“In 2007, 60% of consumers said when they had a negative customer experience, they wanted to speak to a live agent about it. At that time, 26% preferred email, 5% chat, but Facebook and Twitter weren’t used by corporations to handle complaints and resolve problems. This year, 83% of U.S. consumers said they wanted to speak to a live agent, 66% preferred email, 12% chat, and 7% choose social networking sites when trying to resolve a problem.”

A mindset change is needed: Regard Customer Service as an investment, not a cost. In the end, customer service is sales.

You can download the full report here.


Image: Courtesy of

It’s tragic but true: Seduction is never easy when you’re seducing someone you actually like. When we fall in love with someone, we see them in the light of perfection. When we seduce a person we don’t really like, we put on the seduction mask, and desire to elicit a sense of inferiority.

Over the decades, most companies have shown all of us that they really don’t like people. They try to push them away with phone trees, form letters, and bureaucracy. People perceived to be inferior and felt the need to lie or take on a different persona to deal with companies. A soft-spoken person can turn into a raging tyrant after 20 minutes on hold.

With the advent of social technologies, people feel they regained some of their power back and that makes it harder for brands to seduce. Resulting in an emerging demand for transparency. People want to understand what companies are standing for, they want to share values. Ultimately, they want companies to love them and see them as equals. Not as inferior targets.

Too many brands are still using the seduction formula. Since seduction is a form of acting, brands need to have a concept of the audience’s expectations, understand what people will want to hear. The age-old problem with seduction aka advertising is that brands often don’t know what the audience will actually be touched by. More often than not, we guess why people fall in love with us. And brands are as clueless. It might be time for brands to put away the seduction masks and use the ultimate trick: be yourself.


Throughout the World Cup, I received many emails and tweets congratulating “my team”, Deutschland, for their great tournament and playing really exciting soccer (Fussball, as I call it.). Reading German newspapers and magazines, I experienced a lot of self-congratulation for the new, exciting German soccer game, how suddenly the world loves Germans and the multi-cultural faces that played on the team. Oh yes, and 3rd place was lovely.

Enough already.

We’re talking German soccer here. We’re supposed to win each time. Sure, we won’t, but any tournament we don’t win is a loss. Period. Did you ever see the Lakers or Yankees fans celebrate a second place? Or a good loss in the Division Final? Of course not. On paper, Germany’s performance in the last 3 tournaments looks outstanding: Third place World Cup 2006, 2nd place Euro 2008 and 3rd place World Cup 2010. Great. But, where’s the trophy?

Match it up with all that nonsense talk when the US tied England in a group game and people started to celebrate it as a victory. That kind of talk will get you nowhere. Very, very quickly.

Winning organizations are like “A” students: They expect to get an “A” each time they perform. Whenever they get a “B” or worse, they’re disappointed and work hard to get back to the “A” level. Mediocre organizations are like “C” students: They get a “B-” and high-five each person they encounter. They are still not as good as the slip-up of the “A” organization but they’re ecstatic because for once they’re out of the “C” cellar. Just to slip back into it again very, very soon.

We all worked with “A” people before. They might fail, maybe even often, but they always give everything they have. They believe something can be done when others think it can’t. They can solve problems others consider unsolvable. They don’t believe in expectation of others, they have their own expectations. And, we all worked with “C” people. They might talk a big game but their actual work is sloppy. Mistakes. Not failures. Laziness. No high standards. No inner push.

If your organization does things that everyone arounds you thinks you can achieve, then your organization is just a “B” student, not pushing everyone hard enough. I’m not talking about pipe dreams, I’m talking about Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals. Rationally, you will achieve your goals when you meet certain metrics. But, that’s not fulfilling, organizational achievement. Real accomplishment and achievement comes from pushing everyone, including yourself, to the limit. Beyond the place where everybody else thinks you could ever go. As a “C” organization, you need to push for constant “A” scores. It might take a while,  a lot of “B” scores, but as long you keep up an air of excellence, deeply rooted in your organization, you are on the way to become an “A” organization.

An interesting thing happens on the way: The people that didn’t believe in you and your organization in the beginning, will be starting to believe in you. And these people will do everything they can to make you even more successful. Nothing in your balance sheet might have changed, you still employ the same people, deal with the same stakeholders – a mindset of excellence will change everything.

My kid’s Karate teacher said to the class a few days ago: ” When you want to tear a piece of paper with your hand, you don’t aim for the paper. You don’t aim for a small space behind the paper. You aim for a place 2,000 miles beyond the paper.”

Shoot for the stars.