pain medication for osteoarthritis

— ejieme

Startups make our lives better through new products, services and business models. But for customer experience professionals startups have added to the confusion surrounding our profession.

Let’s start by giving an example of the issue. My title is Managing Director of Customer Experience. With this title I get several vendors and recruiters reaching out to speak with me about how they can help me. The help they are pitching involves new call center technologies or a new call center executive role. Most of these people assume that I do customer service.

No. I do customer experience. What’s so confusing? Customer experience (CX) is not the same as customer service.

The confusion is that some companies call their customer service teams their “customer experience” team. While older, more mature companies sometimes conflate these distinct business functions this seems to happen much more frequently with younger, less mature companies and startups.

I get why they do this. Customer service is synonymous with call centers and call centers have always gotten a bad wrap, often deservedly so. Call centers are places where you go to get put on hold for 45 minutes. Or to get lost in an endless IVR loop. Or to speak to someone who can’t help solve your issue. This rebranding can help soften people up to having to interact with a call center or a customer service team.

But customer experience and customer service serve tangential but different purposes.

Customer experience is about how all of a customer’s interactions with a brand inform that customers perception of that brand. Good customer experience ultimately informs how customers behavior. Like whether they will buy, whether they will buy more or whether they will tell others. Therefore, customer experience is a blend of the storytelling, customer research, design thinking, journey mapping, satisfaction & NPS surveys, data analytics and culture change.

The role of the customer service team is to address customer feedback. By solving issues or to at least funnel that feedback to people who can address it. Customer service relies on a blend of people and technology to ensure that customer service agents are available, knowledgeable and empowered. The customer service team is often the only interaction a customer may ever have with your brand. They are vital in making sure customers have great experiences.

A stellar customer service team is essential to great customer experiences but customer service is a single journey within the vast landscape of the customer ecosystem with your brand. Companies orchestrate great customer experiences from before the point of acquisition to after a sale has been made. It is the sum of all parts and the customer experience leader is the conductor in this grand orchestra.

Should startups just change the names of their teams from customer experience to customer service? There are a few reasons this can make sense and can benefit startups in the long-run. As long as they understand customer experience is broader than customer service.

Startups should start by having the customer experience team adopt behaviors that will make it easier to build a real customer experience function. These teams should incorporate the following as they ramp up:

  • Capture customer feedback, during the interaction
  • Capture post-interaction feedback and begin to measure customer satisfaction (or net promoter score)
  • Create an internal customer feedback loop to product and marketing teams. And harness the knowledge of the folks who talk to your customers everyday
  • Close the loop back with your customers and tell that what their feedback has done

Establishing these processes will make a customer experience program more successful.

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Some old writings I found which kind of summarizes my time in Accra. I miss Africa. And I miss writing. Where has the time gone?

Public toilets on Ring Road. Ghanaian English and British hellos. Juicy ripe fruit. 80 pesawas pineapple. Expat hangouts in Osu. Street shopping malls. Bad acting and even worse Telenovela voice overs. Rasta: from Bedstuy to Kokomemle. Being a “Busy Body”. The scent of Africa. Weaves, braids and low cuts. Lebanese and South African chains. Spring rolls on every restaurant menu. Flash me baby. Tigo, Kasapa, or MTN? Limited lights out. Vividly descriptive medical conditions. Rooster coffins near Teshie Nungua. Searching for soft roasted corn. Auntie at age 25. Great sushi at Monsoon. authentic Chinese kente cloth. Sec Sec Sec!. New York or Cali – who expects better service? Accenture alumni in Accra. Saltwater coconut. Red red and doh-doh. Africa Online – the new AOL. Aggressive Nigerians in Nima. Intro tro. Akwaaba bitches. Andrew’s Beans and Bread. Matata’s musings. Firsts in Africa – Horse riding at New Cocoa Beach. Missing American ads. Makola mamas. NPP, NDC and you know me. Maison du Maroc and pranic healing techniques. African cheetahs or cheaters? Flight risk finance firsts. Mefloquine dreaming. Topping up with Tigo. Pure water plastics along the pure water of the Atlantic. Song of the summer – Lil Wayne “Lolipop”, Sugar popcorn at Busy Movie night, “Charlie…”, Sri Lankan ginger cookies, the 1 strawberry seed that could

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Four years ago a wise man told me:

Determine what you value and how you will define your own success and happiness. 

Determine what you are passionate about and be 100% confident in it. No, “I think, I’m interested in, etc.” Speak with confidence.

Do you want to take control of the path your life goes or do you want to let things continue to fall on your lap? Know and accept the type of person you are.

Where will you be 5 years out of business school? Stuck or moving forward?

A “generalist job” may undermine your potential to start developing your skills and credibility. Think about how you can counter this.

If you want to know how to run a business, run a business.

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Actually do it. It’s great to know precisely what you want, and why you want it, and how to make it happen, but that’s not enough. You have to actually do it…Achievement happens only when you actually do it. And the only time you can actually do it is now…Focused, purposeful, positive, effective action is what counts. And right now is the time to actually do it.

Ralph Marston

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Spring is here and as the saying goes…out with the old.

I’m officially calling it quits on the old app idea but I’ve recently been thinking about a new one based on the future of mobile and the interesting intersection between mobile and social:

mobile + social + photos = Instagram

mobile + social + games = Zynga

 

What could this mean when that intersection is coupled with women and our never-ending obsession with how we look?

mobile + social + *beauty = ????

*beauty = makeup, skincare, hair, etc

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Things are slowly moving along on the mobile app front and we’ve got one major milestone so far: selecting our first logo.

As progress continues my mind is inevitably wandering toward the “how the heck am I going to launch this thing?” question. How are we going to get users, how are we going to ensure we’re building something people will enjoy using and will come back to, how do we identify which content providers to work with, how do we know if we’re successful, etc. The questions never end. And right now I don’t have a whole lot of answers.

So in order to lighten our load I’m thinking of hiring a marketing & social media intern. I’ve had some experience in hiring and managing others but this is different. I’m hiring someone to help with MY baby. It’s a whole different ball game. I’ve already started drafting the position description in my head and it’s easy to set ridiculous expectations.

It reminds me of reading some job postings while still in B-school and the hilarious employers that wanted an unpaid intern with 5 years of experience at a top I-bank/Consulting firm, who was fluent in 4 different languages, had start-up experience, specific industry experience, and had cured an infectious disease.

I can see why people want the most awesome rockstar interns – you’re messing with their baby!

But I’m no school nor experience snob. I really don’t care if you went to Stanford or SUNY or if you’ve had 12 internships in 2 years. I’ll be looking for someone who understands our target market, understands what we’re trying to accomplish and can get it done with little guidance – a go-getter. Now, knowing how to ascertain all of this from a cover letter, resume and interview will be interesting.

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Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won. It exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours.

– Atlas Shrugged

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Looks like we’ll be choosing some Indian developers that we sourced via Elance. I’m really pleased with the quality of the interactions that we’ve had so far – very professional and with timely communications. It doesn’t hurt that another firm in the Ukraine priced themselves out by quoting 3-5x what we got from the team in India. Wowza. Also doesn’t hurt that other app development firms had very poor communications, grammatical errors, nonchalant attitudes. I’m glad that things are moving forward on that front but now I’m working on our technical requirements document – I use this term VERY loosely to describe what I’m putting together – it’s more of like Ejieme’s finally thinking about what the hell this thing is actually supposed to do and writing it down, screen by screen. I guess you gotta start somewhere.

Also, it would have been nice to know that app design and app development are 2 very different beasts. I mean, I’m a consultant that has worked on technical implementations, I KNOW that one must design that which they want to build but it’s hard to think about the “details” when you’re so excited about a project. Maybe I need to wear my consultant hat more often?

Or maybe not. I’ve caught myself stressing out about the massive to-do list associated with this project and the fact that it’s just me and my co-founder. No Analysts or Associates to help out and no Partners or Directors to bounce ideas off of. It’s just us.

Lessons Learned so Far:
1) Design and Development are different (doh!)
2) Utilize Quora more! It helped me make a decision sourcing our design project between Crowdspring and 99Designs

Lessons Still Learning:
1) How to leverage (ha, consulting word!) my consulting experience without letting it hold me back
2) How to have a demanding day job while pursuing entrepreneurial goals
3) Entrepreneurship is (can be) lonely but it doesn’t have to be. I just find “networking” to be another time-consuming activity. I need to figure this one out as I’d love to have a mentor or even more contact with others going through what I’m going through.
4) I’m about to spend my real money and on this project. Add this to the growing list of scary things associated with entrepreneurship.

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I think I’ve neglected this blog for long enough. I’ve been “busy” though – you know, with the corporate job and all. And also another blog – which shall remain nameless for the time being (if you use your awesome google search skills you’ll probably uncover it soon enough). I thought it’d be prudent of me to write a bit about my latest project – a mobile app – and some of the learning and unlearnings along the process.

As a child of the developing world, I’d been an advocate of moving lower-skilled jobs to developing countries that needed the economic activity. Of course there are so many nuances and particularities of the outsourcing debate, but on a high level I advocated for increased job creation in these parts of the world.

This weekend I found myself with the choice of whether to spend more money to hire a developer in the US or to go the cheap route and give a job to someone in India, Malaysia or China. Now I know the choice between the $65/hr developer in Seattle vs the $15/hr in Delhi is not entirely the same as the outsourcing debate but I was put in the role of the ultimate decision maker. Do  I outsource and provide capital, economic activity to my fellow developing-world comrade or do I “buy American”, knowing how the US unemployment rate has remained steady in the past year. This decision has now become a personal one and not just one that I hypothetically debate.

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