Drive Profits thru People and Processes


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This is a transcription that I had with Vivian Hairston Blade, Founder, President & CEO of Experts in Growth Leadership Consulting, LLC (EiGL Consulting, LLC) based in Louisville, KY.

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Drive Profits thru People and Processes

  1. 1. Business901 Podcast Transcription Implementing Lean Marketing SystemsDrive Profit thru People and Processes Guest was Vivian Blade Related Podcast: People & Process Drive Profit Podcast People & Process Drive Profit Podcast Copyright Business901
  2. 2. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsVivian Hairston Blade, President & CEO of Experts in GrowthLeadership Consulting, LLC (EiGL Consulting, LLC) based inLouisville, KY. EiGL Consulting, LLC works with companies tobuild high performance, high quality, and high service levelleaders and teams.Vivian is a recognized expert, keynote speaker, trainer andexecutive coach in the principles of Customer Experience, Lean Six Sigma and Leadership Development. With a 20+ year career in Fortune 100 companies, General Electric and Humana, Inc., Vivian has extensive experience in successfully leading the development and execution of customer centered, quality- based, growth business strategies. Through EiGL Consulting, Vivian has helped clients achieve direct cost savings and productivity by more than 10%, implementcustomer loyalty and customer service programs, and hascoached and trained hundreds of professionals in customerexperience implementation and leadership skill development.Vivian’s professional certifications include GE Certified Lean SixSigma Master Black Belt, Black Belt, and Green Belt, and CertifiedNet Promoter Associate. She holds an MBA and B.S. in BusinessAdministration. Vivian is a member of the Institute ofManagement Consultants USA, American Society for Quality,iSixSigma, American Society for Training & Development,National Speakers Association, Customer Experience ProfessionalsAssociation and International Coach Federation.Vivian Blade: I do a lot of leadership and professionaldevelopment work in various aspects change, leadership skills, People & Process Drive Profit Podcast Copyright Business901
  3. 3. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsprofessional and career advancement skills, accountability. Aswell as customer service, customer experience, projectmanagement from the operational side and the execution side. Iam teaching at the University of Louisville upper level projectmanagement course where were teaching students how to begood operational leaders from a project standpoint and managingthe project process and in addition, how to manage the quality ofdeliverables coming out of their project work.Those are the types of things that I do with companies. Bringingthe two sides together, the people and process to make sure thatthey have high performance and high service level in theorganization where individuals can really thrive in servingcustomers well and helping companies to grow.Joe Dager: Welcome everyone. This is Joe Dager the host of theBusiness 901 Podcast. With me today is Vivian Harrison Blade.She is a President and CEO of Expert and Growth LeadershipConsulting based in Louisville. Vivian is a recognized expert, akey note speaker and trainer and executive coach on theprincipals of Customer Experience, Lean Six Sigma andLeadership Development.Vivian, I enjoyed the intro you were just talking about there.Could you give me a brief elevator speech on what yourconsulting companys focus has been recently?Vivian: Expert and Great Leadership Consulting works withcompanies to build a high performance and high service levels inthe organization. We focus on both the people and the processside. So that, employees feel like they are in an organizationwhere they can thrive and there are processes and there issupport in the organization that helps to drive towards a stellarcustomer experience with everybody contributing to that. Wework on both the people and process side to bring it all togetherfor a cohesive unit to makes it all happen. People & Process Drive Profit Podcast Copyright Business901
  4. 4. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsJoe: I always have been a firm believer that employeeexperience mimics the customer experience. Are you saying thesame thing?Vivian: Very much so, if you have an environment whereemployees are still valued. They look forward to coming to work,they like where they work. That naturally is going to come acrossin their customer interactions. When they care for customers andthey care for what they do more, you are going to have moreaccountability and ownership in what they do.Customers can see that, you know yourself in different situations;different service situations that have gone very well or have gonepoorly. A lot of it has to do with the individual you were workingwith on the other side of the town. A lot of what drives that is thevalue that I feel about being in this organization as an employee.Joe: I hear so much anymore that we find fault with anorganization its always about leadership. All in all, most of theleaders that Ive met try very hard to make it work. They mayfail. But, they try very hard to make it work.What if you found that maybe some of the things that, goodleaders I mean ones that are really trying have not been able toaccomplish or where they fall off trying to get an organization tothat good customer experience or to that better culture.Vivian: I think there would be probably a couple of things thatare key. One is truly having a vision around that customer focusand that customer experience. And, operational excellence thatgoes along with that. So, truly having a clearly defined vision andthen having a clear communication and connection on that visionwith people in the organization. Everybody has to know, what myjob connects to? Where do I sit? What purpose do I serve? And,what bigger purpose do I connect to? And do I service? People & Process Drive Profit Podcast Copyright Business901
  5. 5. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsI know that I have a meaningful job to do and I want to be hereevery day to contribute to that. When you dont have that clearvision first of all there is no way, there is nothing for people toconnect to; No aspirations for the organization, people dontreally know where theyre going. Sometimes you will findcompanies with a vision that isnt even clear.Not only employees, sometimes the leaders cant even repeat orclearly reflect what that true vision is? Where theyre going? Whattheyre aspiring to be? And, how theyre aspiring to serve? If youdont have that clarity and you cant communicate clearly, so thatpeople understand it clearly and connect to it. Those are reallykey areas that first and foremost, a couple of the most importantareas where leaders fail.Joe: I always think of Steve Jobs telling John Scully, do youwant to make soda pop or do you want to have a chance tochange the world. That was pretty clear cut and exciting vision tobe part of. I am not Steve Jobs, I cant transfer my message likethat. I dont think I am much different than the ordinary leader.Do you really need to have something thats going to grabsomeone that much?Vivian: The most important thing is not that it is so catchy. Themost important is that its meaningful and that there is somerealism to it. You want to be exciting and want people to feelinspired and feel like theres a stretch and opportunity for us toget to something; to drive us to a place, where we are not today.For most of us, as you mentioned the common leaders andindividual companies and employees, it is having something thatis realistic for people to be able to relate too.We want to be a customer focused, a customer serviceorganization that delivers on XYZ. You define that based on whatyour market, what your particular customers are in need of, theproblems that your particular customer are trying to solve and to People & Process Drive Profit Podcast Copyright Business901
  6. 6. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsbe innovative around. Not that your vision has to have theanswer. But, that is aspirational in solving problems and solvingneeds.Joe: I tend to think that what you are telling me is similar towhat Simon Sinec says; “Understanding the Why”. Why we exist?Why we are important? If you can explain the why to yourpeople, if they understand the why thats the important part.Vivian: Right. That gives the employees the opportunity to alsoassess whether I connect with this organization? Do I connectwith that vision and that mission? Do I feel like, I have a purposehere and a value here? Is this the type of organization that I wantto be associates with? And, the kind of work and the kind ofpurpose that I want to do? And, what I want to be? Does thisalign with my career goals? Does this organization align with myvalues? Can I do the things that I aspire to in life? So, thatprovides that kind of connection with individuals as well.Joe: When were talking about this, I think it as a Zappos thingand their different culture. Not everybody makes it there andthey offer a buyout to people that doesnt make it so. Whatyoure saying is if I am going to change, tell me if I am wronghere. But if I am going to change the culture within a company Imay have to consider losing a chunk of my workforce becausetheyre not going to change into the culture. Is that true?Vivian: Yes, thats true. The organization gets to decide whatthey want to be? Who they want to be? How they want to serve?Products and services that they want to provide and the culturethey want, and that embraces that. As an employee, its yourduty for yourself and your self-fulfillment in your career and forthe good of the organization that youre working with. To bothsides of the party to evaluate whether this works for me?If this organization going to change, do I feel like I fit you? If youdont youre not going to be happy if you stay there. Or the People & Process Drive Profit Podcast Copyright Business901
  7. 7. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsorganization is not going to fit with you as well. So, its atwo-sided coin and both sides of the party have a part to play indetermining. If you dont fit that or feel like it does, then youprobably belong somewhere else.Joe: One of the things that I looked at recently is that its not allinternal either. If youre trying to change an organization oryourself, the outside the external forces are sometimes asimportant as the internal. You have vendors out there, customersout there that dont want you to change even though you areconsidering changing for the better. Do you agree or disagree orwhat are your thoughts are on that?Vivian: If you change as an organization, you must defineyourself. There are some key decisions that you need to make.One is, as I look forward, who are the customers and who is themarket that I need to serve? And, how is that defined? Iconiccustomer does that customer base fit within that or not? Or arethere some changes? Are they different? If you are familiar withthe Blue Ocean Strategy; are there different oceans and blueoceans that we are trying to go after to expand and diversify ourbusiness?How do our current customers and vendors support that? Just likeyou would look at customers and vendors as youre looking atprofitability of your company which is most important to stay inbusiness. Sometimes we have a mix of customers and moreprofitable than some less profitable than others. I would makedecisions and ultimately have to make decisions about especiallythose less profitable ones or non-profitable ones. How long arewe going to maintain that relationship?Same thing on the vendors side, if a vendor is costing us toomuch how long are we going to maintain? How long can wesustain that relationship? So, as you looking at a revision or People & Process Drive Profit Podcast Copyright Business901
  8. 8. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemschange within your organization, it really is the same thing. Itsgoing to have the same type of effect on your bottom line.Joe: I think sometimes were still mired in that old organizationstructure that was developed way back in the 1800s. Werebecoming more of a team type structure and collaborative typestructure. That old structure doesnt seem to fit as well anymore.Have you seen a shift? Are you talking about shifting, change theold structure a little bit? And can you, explain that?Vivian: I had seen some change in work structure. Oneorganization I have been working with most recently had had alot of layers. I dont remember how many, but as you looked atand you heard the number, it was a tremendous number betweenthe front-line and the CEO. They have flattened out trying to be alot more nimble, trying to be able to respond to the marketplacea lot faster than they could in the past.I think were continuing to see that in some companies becauseof that. To make sure that theres decision making throughoutlower levels of the organization. Ultimately I think companies arerealizing that to drive the customer experience and to drive thecustomer loyalty, youve got to have employees even at thefront-line who are somehow empowered to take care of customerneeds and to make some of those decisions.Customers require urgency in speed of response. They want tofeel like that they are heard and being well taken care of. Youreseeing some of those organization layers change andorganizational empowerment and accountability change to somedegree because of that. I think you still have a lot of thetraditional hierarchy structure in some terms.Joe: As we drive responsibility down and it empowers the lowerlevels. That is a lot of responsibility that goes down to them. Howis that reacted to? I mean, do people want to take that level ofresponsibility as a norm? People & Process Drive Profit Podcast Copyright Business901
  9. 9. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsVivian: Employees in many instances, especially if you are onthe front-line, you often feel like youre caught in the middle. Youfeel like your hands are tied and often times you want to help.You are caught in the middle of customer tirade. Sometimes allyou can say is "Well, let me get my supervisor," or "Can we getback to you," or "Im sorry, I cant do that." So, employeesoftentimes really do want to help. You have some employees whocare less than others and especially if they are in an environmentas we were talking about earlier, empowering for individualemployees where they truly feel valued and feel like, "This isreally the place I want to be" and want to contribute to and domeaningful work.Where youre having an environment that is so, you have peoplewho really do care and need and feel like they needed some ofthat flexibility to be able to work with customers.Joe: How does Lean or Six Sigma play a role in all of this? Iknow that you spend a lot of time in that area, how does it play arole in what were talking about here?Vivian: When you are, lets take yourself as an example Joe,and talk about maybe some of these service experiences thatyouve had. When you deal with the company, lets say maybe acall center. Youve ordered a product of some sort. Can you namea frustration?Joe: One example, it seems even with the automatedapproaches very seldom do you end up in the right place in adecent amount of time and by the time you get a live person,youre already irritated.Vivian: So, with this experience, you are not unlike so manyothers who are listening to this podcast and so many of ourexperiences that we can recall when we have been reallyfrustrated and a few times where we have been really verypleased and pleasantly surprised when we got off of the phone People & Process Drive Profit Podcast Copyright Business901
  10. 10. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemswith someone. Its Lean Six Sigma that can help to make some ofthose processors better.Oftentimes, even though the call centers are on the front line,sometimes the issue or the root cause is not necessarily theirfault. Theyre dealing with a system that operates a certain wayand only allows them to serve customers a certain way. Again,these people are caught in the middle often times, but we ascustomers dont see it that way. And we dont really care. All wecare about is the fact that Im trying to be a customer of thisorganization and get my product or service completed. Im havinga problem with it and I want it to go a lot better.We can look at using Lean Six Sigma to fix a lot of theseprocessors in terms of driving quality improvement or takingways out. Make things work a lot more efficiently so that theprocessors work to serve customers better. The call centeremployee is able to do a much better job and offer a lot betterservice to customers. As well as, within the call center even dosome things to make operational process a lot quicker so that ourresponse, right there on the phone a lot faster.I had an issue here recently within an insurance company, kind ofturning things around. I did a phone interview, it was taken awhile though and, I was wondering "Whats the deal?" I got aletter eventually that said "Im sorry, were refunding yourmoney. We cant complete your request because we didnt get allthe information that we needed."They did not get back to me at any point in time to let me knowthat there was missing information or more information that theyneeded to complete my application. And there is some breakdownin profit there. Theyve got some type of quality issue.How many companies are going to actually give you, your moneyback? I was shocked. I was shocked, thats it. One of theexamples that you shared with having to go to various systems to People & Process Drive Profit Podcast Copyright Business901
  11. 11. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsget different information or ask you for the same information fourtimes, because theyve got to go four different places to pullinformation to complete your order, or to look up the status ofyour order or to change some information in your account.Lean Six Sigma can help to pull some of those systems togetherso that the call taker is not looking at all of those systems, but wehave some cohesiveness. We have some systems talking to eachother actually. The call takers input is once or twice, and it seedssources information into other places where the informationresides. Sometimes youve got certainly different things going on.Now, when you are a customer and sitting there waiting for achat response and it takes a little while and you wonder, "Why isthat taking so long? Where is the person?" So sometimes theresa good bit going on in the background and multiple things goingon at the same time such as multiple chat sessions going on.Joe: I always assumed that they were juggling two or three ofthem at a time.Vivian: I think there is some level of that, and some of that isattempted to be managed, like calls are routed to variousemployees that are available, and I think as you have more socialmedia, more of this type of instant messaging or chat capabilitythat companies are going to begin to beef up some of theirresources in those areas so that they can be more responsive.Joe: How rigid is a call center process? Are there scripts andinstructions on what they can do? Theyre not really empoweringthe front line people that much, are they? Its a pretty rigid howfar they can take someone or what they can do?Vivian: From a quality assurance standpoint, there is stilldefinitely quite a bit of structure in the way calls are handled andcustomers are handled and various situations are handled.However, Im seeing a little more flexibility with companiesbecause of this fact of companies realizing in order to really take People & Process Drive Profit Podcast Copyright Business901
  12. 12. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemscare of customers on the front line, were going to have to makesure that these employees do have a little bit more flexibility andhave a degree of empowerment that they can work within.What youll find oftentimes there is a level of decision-making.Your scope of decision-making that employees on the front linecan work within that give them a little bit more flexibility thanthey used to without having to get a supervisor directly involved.Joe: Is this the trend? Are you seeing more of that type ofresponses? Is this where people are headed?Vivian: Zappos is used as an example for so many best practicebenchmarking for so many organizations and trying to drive, one,and environment where people who are in such a stressful callcenter environment can feel better and feel more positive andhave a more fun place to work, for one. Also for the way thatthey serve and treat customers, I think again another reason whytheyre bench-marked so much is the reason why people comeback and they continue to use Zappos is because of that level ofservice.Now some of that, some of the customer service guidelines orrules that they have - policies, if you will - that they have thatallow people to return shoes or products that theyve ordered andthe shipping, which are all of value, but they train employees totry to really befriend, if you will, customers so that they reallyunderstand what it is theyre looking for and try to figure out howI can really help you, rather than just being a talking head on theother end of the phone.So you can see where if you look at one of the metrics thatZappos uses, and its the net promoter score and likelihood torecommend question, they are one of the companies that are atthe top of the charts when it comes to customers likelihood torecommend and a lot of it has to do with that direct engagementand how customers are treated so well. People & Process Drive Profit Podcast Copyright Business901
  13. 13. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsJoe: You have to develop listening skills in your employees.Vivian: Certainly in many aspects around customerdevelopment. Im kind of taking your phrase a little bit and callingit customer development. Listening is critical, and that has beenso much of the problem with customer retention, with customerloyalty. Companies feel like I have a product and service to sell,you are privileged to be able to do business with me and Ill justgive you whatever I have or treat you however I want to.Now customer development shows that I better understand whatmy customer expectations and their requirements are, and trulywhat their needs are, so that I understand where my valueis - what my value proposition is to customers.Youre finding that so many of them are looking at trying to buildthis base of loyal customers that is a lot more efficient to serveversus going out and getting new customers and the money thatyou spend on new customer acquisition.In today environment, the economic environment nobody trulyhas money to burn. And, customers have so many choices today.If you look at your choices of cell phones, how many cell phoneshave you had in the last three or four years?Joe: Oh, I think I cycle about every two years.Vivian: Right. Were sort of in this contract, where we dontwant to spend money on a new phone until our contract comesdue. So these cell companies have us locked into that. But,certainly with all the new technology out there and new services,we want a new cell phone before our two year time frame is up.Youve got these companies that are clamoring for your businesswith different offers. You hear a lot of people complain about theirtreatment, this customer who has been with you for two years,four years, should get deals as good as a new customers. Act likeyou value me. People & Process Drive Profit Podcast Copyright Business901
  14. 14. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsI think you have some companies who are starting to listen andunderstand that a lot more.Joe: What are your plans going forward?Vivian: Well, our plan is to continue to build on this idea ofpeople process and that cohesiveness between the two that helpcompanies drive growth. As you look at the environment, themarketplace, the economy, and how it changes and how it willchange in the future and how well need to still continue to beconservative in so many ways especially when it comes to moneyand finances and investments, to realize that people investmentis important, that operational process investment is important asit relates to customer focus and serving customer needs.Helping companies realize that without that connection and thatunderstanding of why you exist and how to operationally servethe why you exist, what your value is in this customerrelationship, without this you wont have a business for very long.You know, its unfortunate that we see so many of thesecompanies in todays economy who have been icons in theAmerican industry, your Kodak and your Hostess, HewlettPackard, so many, even Netflix recently who decided to changeboth their service and their pricing policy and lost millions ofcustomers. They made a 360 degree turn. And, just in the WallStreet Journal in the past few days there was an article abouthow they are beginning to now recover their customers.Without that skill of listening that we just talked about a minuteago, you havent a clue what the impact is going to be when youmake some of those changes, or do you even really care into itsalmost too late? Were helping companies to have a good ear tothe ground on that customer connection and building anenvironment where employees can thrive toward reaching theircareer goals and helping the company to achieve its goals. People & Process Drive Profit Podcast Copyright Business901
  15. 15. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsJoe: When we think of Lean and Six Sigma, we always think ofinternal but can Lean Six Sigma truly be outward focused?Vivian: Lean Six Sigma had better be outward focused. First ofall, your requirements for anything that you do should be basedon customer impact and customer requirements. So first of all,Lean Six Sigma better be outward facing. When I was in GE, oneof the initiatives that we had was at the customer for thecustomer. Thats where we took our internal resources andleveraged them with customers for gain in customer processes.So, its leveraging your resources a little bit differently.Joe: Well, thank you very much. People & Process Drive Profit Podcast Copyright Business901
  16. 16. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systems Joseph T. Dager Lean Marketing Systems Ph: 260-438-0411 Fax: 260-818-2022 Email: Web/Blog: Twitter: @business901 What others say: In the past 20 years, Joe and I have collaborated on many difficult issues. Joes ability to combine his expertise with "out of the box" thinking is unsurpassed. He has always delivered quickly, cost effectively and withingenuity. A brilliant mind that is always a pleasure to work with." James R.Joe Dager is President of Business901, a progressive company providingdirection in areas such as Lean Marketing, Product Marketing, ProductLaunches and Re-Launches. As a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt,Business901 provides and implements marketing, project and performanceplanning methodologies in small businesses. The simplicity of a singleflexible model will create clarity for your staff and as a result betterexecution. My goal is to allow you spend your time on the need versus theplan.An example of how we may work: Business901 could start with aconsulting style utilizing an individual from your organization or a virtualassistance that is well versed in our principles. We have capabilities toplug virtually any marketing function into your process immediately. Asproficiencies develop, Business901 moves into a coach’s role supporting theprocess as needed. The goal of implementing a system is that the processeswill become a habit and not an event. Business901 Podcast Opportunity Expert Status People & Process Drive Profit Podcast Copyright Business901