May 31 – Talking to Customers is Hard

Yesterday

So I’m trying really hard to chat with some people about the problem I’m trying to solve.

My approach is to talk to my prospective customers’ customers – the ones that have the enquiry/frustration/need they want addressing. It should be easy, right? It would appear not so.

What could be easier – I know who they are and roughly what their articulated enquiry is (that is, what they said) and I can often deduce what their need is (thank you NVC!). But to validate with them what may have helped (hopefully the service I am offering) is proving to be very difficult. Simply because they are not responding to how I am currently approaching them.
Although it’s long and complicated and not really the subject of this post.  You might think that people would want to be part of a solution to their own frustrations – but, alas, no!

I will try something different and persevere, this is important!

So here is my check in:

  • Glad I started trying to talk to customers. Living the 80/20 rule, sending out lots of offers to have a conversation>
  • Mad I’m not getting the responses I expect. So maybe I need to revise how I make the offer and/or review my expectations.
  • Sad that how businesses treat engage with their customers (especially in tough economic conditions) is still under-appreciated. 
  • Glad that I am back on track with Spanish and my exercises.
  • Glad I improved on working late. I went to bed at 11 last night vs 2am the night before.  More work is not necessarily better.
  • I’m grateful for friends in the same startup space as me (albeit at different stages) – grateful for their comradeship and willingness to help talk things through.

I’m  in.

Improve On…

How I make my offers.

How well I keep to the fasting program

 

Today

I will continue (trying) to talk to some customers’ customers to day. I have a different approach.  Really thankful to David Harvey (@david_harvey) for helping me think it through despite him being very busy with @Vyclone (which BTW, is totally awesome tech – check it out : http://vyclone.com).

Today I also need to get on with the rest of the warm intros I need to make.

Although my anger has dissipated a little I still want to blog. So a post on ‘Youth Unemployment’ is imminent today – but only after I have some customer conversations.

 

The Trello board…

Screenshot_30_05_2013_11_41

No, your eyes do not deceive you, I have not updated my board. Sloppy? You bet. Honest?? Absolutely!

It is OK to get mad. 

But only for a while.
Then you should get smart

and then you win.

May 30 – It's Been Emotional

Yesterday

Watching the data stream in and seeing the emotions and needs that generated it has itself been really emotional.

Screenshot_30_05_2013_11_02

On one hand, frustration that so many people who use certain businesses are dissatisfied and go unheard.  On the other, I am also glad that they choose to express that need (albeit with some angry words).
I’m fully into the acquire customer funnel, a conversation with my adviser on Tuesday emboldened my strategy and helped to renew my energies.

My check-in:

  • Glad I had a great conversation with Paul, my adviser, on my strategy for researching and acquiring customers.  He checked out bizbuzz and was impressed with the concept (there may be a potential pivot there).
  • Sad the almost all my contacts are techies – I need to get more professional diversity into my network.
  • Mad at so much today : youth unemployment, apathetic businesses that squander the promise of social media, stupid politicians. I have to blog something or else I might scream and drink wine…hang on!
  • Glad that I am really into my customer acquisition funnel with good data that will inform my approach and pitching.
  • I’m grateful for data. There is so much of it, most of it noisy, but with the right intentions and nurture, beauty can be coaxed. (WTF! – I’m waxing lyrical about data – someone smack me with a wet fish)
  • I’m grateful that NVC has enabled me to see deeper into this data and react differently with it. More empathically for all concerned.

I’m  empirically in.

Improve On…

Keep to the schedule.

Make a little time for my distractions.

Self restraint. Less long hours into the early hours

 

Today

My funnel includes talking to my potential customers’ customers.  Those who expressed a need (albeit it through angry words and criticism). I want to discover what they feel might have made a difference.  Did they have the conversation they deserved?  What could have happened differently for them? So, today those conversations continue.

Also I have 20 businesses on my list to find warm introductions to.  Great data to use in LinkedIn. I found five that I am already connected to and I will be sending intro requests to them.

 

The Trello board… 

Screenshot_30_05_2013_11_41

May 28 – Data is Fascinating

Yesterday

I think I’m back in my stride!

Having got bizbuzz online, the data is flowing straight out of Twitter, of businesses that have the problem ServiceChat is designed to solve.  I’m getting the metrics to use in the conversation with these prospective customers.
It is providing amazing clarity and insight into the problems and I have learnt so much about the a worrying approach to corporate use of Twitter and in my opinion it is all wrong!!!  Businesses like Morrisons, Waitrose etc in the UK are missing huge opportunities in this space. Many use auto-responders (and I bet they sit in their boardrooms patting themselves on the backs for having a coherent social media strategy – please!!)

Wake up and smell the coffee, social media is not like anything you had before, trying to corral it into your traditional channels is going to cost you big time. Why are CIOs and CMOs not all over this?

Anyway – rant over…here is my check in (it is all glad!!)

  • Glad my data feed is online, 300+ prospects. Now, I’m the bottleneck.
  • Glad I decided against carpet-mailing my LinkedIn contacts , I now have targets and with a little effort I can narrow down the 20% who can get me to the decision makers in the businesses I want to speak to.
    Sometimes a hammer is not the only tool!
  • Glad the brainwave training stuff is working, I’m feeling less mentally fatigued, more alert and I think, quicker too.  I suspect fasting and exercise are also helping.
  • I’m grateful for Ruby on Rails.  I’ve been coding for nearly 20 years and it has never been easier to quickly make a beautiful  working version of something you imagined.  It is such a rich and giving ecosystem, that encourages me to give back to. So watch out for a Twitter reach gem, a beta marker gem.  They are all on my list.

I’m  in.

Improve On…

Keep to the schedule.

Increase automated code coverage on stuff that started as a hack.

Today

Screenshot_28_05_2013_13_15

 

My data reveals that, as of right now, there are 418 prospects from 766 unhappy customers, my strategy is to focus on the customers with most number of unhappy customers.

Today the major push is to have a conversation with a good cross-section of them, by the end of the week I want to have spoken/chatted with at least 20% of the customers of each of the top 5 target business in my data set.

 

The Trello board… is unchanged!

 

Be yourself, everyone else is busy. 

May 27 – A Squeak of a Week

Yesterday Last Week!

It’s Monday, of a brand new week – that is as it always is.  However last week was notable for a few reasons:

  • I didn’t write my blog – a serious breach of the commitment to my focus. It’s not that I was not focused, in fact I was too focused to write a post!
  • I automated by lead generation process (most of it anyway) into an internal app (BizBuzz)
    Screenshot_27_05_2013_10_49

  • Tron went awesome! Managing my twitter responders just got infinitely easier.  I believe there are 2 potential services here – let’s see…
    Screenshot_27_05_2013_10_50

Here is my check-in, summing up last week and my hope for this one…

  • Sad I didn’t check-in on this blog since May 21.
  • Glad I successfully automated my prospects/lead generation process – making it easier to find the customers with the problem ServiceChat is designed to solve.  
  • Glad I started experimenting with Binaural sounds to enhance focus and learning during my iterations. I think it is actually working!  They play under my music/language etc.
  • Glad that this is the week everything changes (again!)
  • Sad that there are not more sign ups on ServiceChat (a week on), even my early adopters have not started using it.  Disappointed, but not surprised – we operate on different schedules  and what is urgent for me is much less important to other businesses.  Patience and persistence required!
  • Delighted that there is no more tech for now.  It’s fun, interesting and engaging, but an illusion of progress. Progress is not more code, it is more learning (right now, from early users).
  • I’m grateful for the gift of knowing better ways of living and hopeful for the wisdom and patience to choose them 😉

I’m present and  in.

Improve On…

Making sure that I write this blog – whatever the minimum is and keep it consistent.

Making fewer commitments for things that I don’t feel 100% that I will even get to (e.g. writing a blog post about my TedTalk favorites.)

Taking the time I set aside for congruent learning e.g. watching Ted.

Today

The major activities today are to do the human bits of my lead generation process – talking to the identified prospects or trying to get access to the folk who can make decisions!

 

The Trello board…

Screenshot_27_05_2013_10_41

 

Seek risks safely.

 

Dear Jesus, Bless My Hustle

My bro sent me this video, I don’t where it came from , but I was laughing my ass off.

I guess if God can be asked to bless tanks and bombs, He/She can also be reasonably requested to bless one’s hustle!

 

Enjoy!

May 21 – One mountain's peak is another's base.

Yesterday

It’s been a weird few days, my exhiliration at releasing ServiceChat is tempered by a realisation that the mountains left to climb are even higher than that of getting software built (which is really just a molehill!)

Oh young whippersnapper founder, hear me well – software is the easy bit.  Finding customers and trying to get to have conversation with them (on a budget and with time pressures added for good measure) are the ‘real’ challenges.

  • Glad I am still working to my routine, despite a resurgence in laziness!
  • Glad I was emotionally reminded of my Dad from a picture taken in the early 60s. I wondered what me now, would say to him, then.
  • Excited that I am slowly generating leads. Just because it took me a weekend to read Lean Startup by Eric Ries doesn’t mean it takes a weekend to build a startup!
  • I’m grateful for the parents I had /have. Age my bend our knees but it won’t bow our heads.

I’m tired and  in.

 

Today

Mostly today is about doing stuff planned in my marketing plan/strategy.  Today it’s shortlisting target companies and seeking introductions through my network.

Create my early adopter lead generation funnel and start approaching potential customers from the research I did a few months ago ( I have to check the findings again first).

Start using LinkedIn more deeply – especially now I signed up for a business account.  Will try it for a month and see what results I get.

 

The Trello board…

Screenshot_21_05_2013_13_08

 

I built a solution to help people have conversations. I desperately need to have conversations myself with businesses.  Can you help?

 

May 17 – Been Focused on Making Art

The last three days

No, I haven’t been abducted by aliens. I apologise for not posting to this blog over the last 3 days. It’s been a tough few days, spent mostly making art and exercising my passions.

  • Glad I had invested 3 solid days in pushing to close off the outstanding tasks to get ServiceChat beta live.
  • Seriously Glad that ServiceChat beta is now live and I can now focus on
  • Sad I hurt my back and this stopped my main workouts
  • Glad I’m averaging 1.5 hours of Spanish lessons a day. Totally loving Duolingo.com
  • Excited that some early users will begin using it today/tomorrow.
  • I’m grateful for having a pulse, this much fun without one would be a tad difficult.

I’m so in.

 

Today

With the release of ServiceChat beta, the main push is to begin rapid execution of my marketing plan.

Reach out to my network and get as much exposure to the content I have created to inspire conversations with businesses to sign up.  Mostly through Linked In!

Also I need to resume, in earnest, the research of companies on Twitter to see living proof of the problem I am trying to solve and generate targets for my marketing reach out.

The Trello board…

Screenshot_17_05_2013_17_39

 

I thought I might include the ‘Achieved’ column, to remind you and myself just how much big stuff I have actually achieved in a really short time.

Every life needs a lull in the proceedings to reflect and celebrate. Tonight it is curry and wine. Viva la Lull!

Stay foolish, stay hungry.

ServiceChat is Live.

Take_Your_Twitter_Support_To_A_Better_Place___ServiceChat-2

I’m delighted to announce that I have now released the first public version of ServiceChat – the startup I am building to help businesses delight their customers with improved engagement. I say public, but I actually mean beta (which is public too).

What is ServiceChat?

The older I get, the lower my tolerance for terrible customer service. I don’t have this ‘everything must work perfectly’ BS mentiality.  Life teaches us that things might be perfect some of the time, but not even nearly all the time. My experience teaches me that for those numerous times when it doesn’t it is the strength of relationships that make resolution emotionally possible. And conversation is the cornerstone of relationships. Conversations between people.  Businesses are made of people, customers are people.  For years the transaction of business has masked the need for people to keep conversing.  Great customer service begins with being willing to have the conversation, making the offer and then actually having a conversation.

ServiceChat is the first tool I am working on towards the vision of disrupting what Customer Service has become – transactional, defensive and dehumanised.  More on this vision later – but for now let me say we live in an age that Customer Service is outdated. It is time for Customer Delight, that taps into the passion and art that is at the essence of being human.

While I can’t currently help the ‘willingness’ part of great customer service.  I can encourage it by writing about and celebrating businesses that demonstrate a willingness to engage in conversation with the people who are their customers.  But I cannot make anyone be willing to do anything.

ServiceChat is an attempt to provide a means to make both the offer and to actually have the conversation – without technology getting the way.  My video explains this better:

What Next

Now begins the real work – learning how my customers want to make the offer, how they want to have the conversations and what they want to do next. It is my privilege to help them.

I will be working to create content (I have some ideas on helping great unsung businesses share their passion with the world) that will inspire, inform and celebrate customer delight.

As my early adopter customers increasingly use ServiceChat, I will be learning, tweaking, inventing, re-inventing and supporting them to have the most delightful experiences with their customers as possible.

I Need Your Help

I cannot do this alone.
If you have a great customer experience – let me know. Let us share it and inspire the world.
If you know a business that loves and delights it’s customers, treats them with respect and dignity, has conversations – introduce us.
If you have a terrible , uninspired or downright rotten customer experience – suggest they have a conversation with you on ServiceChat – I will offer them 3 months free and work with them to explore how they can improve (I am after all a coach!).
If they say ‘Yes’, I can guarantee huge improvements!
Please help me tell companies you know well, to check ServiceChat out. It is desperately important that as many people as possible know that there is a different way.

May 14 – All Set!

Yesterday

What a day!  So many little things that combine to be pretty big.  But a very fulfilling day, tiring, but fulfilling.

  • Glad I had a balanced day – language practice (i discovered duolingo and it is amazing. Still using Rosetta Stone as well.)
  • Glad  the site is ready to go and I decided to do it by verbal invitation – having too many users too soon can be as problematic as not having any!
  • Excited that some early users will begin using it today/tomorrow.
  • Glad I got some brilliant feedback from some trusted contacts on ServiceChat’s landing pages, some great direction on at least one explainer video.
  • I’m grateful for living in interesting times.

I’m In.

 

Today

The early feedback on the site (not the app) is the message is clear, but would be significantly clearer with the some media showing a real scenario (basically I need to tell stories!).

This changed my appreciation of the need for the explainer video.  Even if some folk already know the problem, they need to understand how my solution addresses it. I need stories and I need to communicate them compellingly.

So I have 2 main goals today:

Get early adopter business – 2 or 3 signed up to the app and using it. With over 20 years of building stuff people use I know users in the wild will find new ways to make things break and I am excited to learn these!

Work on the 50/50 explainer – that does a decent job of describing the problem and the solution – well enough to answer most questions anyway.

The Trello board…

Screenshot_13_05_2013_11_56

May 13 – Shipping is HARD!

Yesterday

Sunday, May 12th:  I struggled to get started.  I do want to work on Sundays, but my family and I are still clinging to conventional working week delusions and I find it difficult to get to my desk, let alone have the discipline to follow my routine. Nevertheless I did find some time and here is how it went.

  • Glad I navigated the devops maze to get the static site (servicech.at) and the app site (app.servicech.at) working again.
  • Mad that I decided to decommission an IP I thought was not used anywhere, only to discovered that my production chat publisher was deployed on it. Lesson learnt. Move on.
  • Excited that my tests are passing with minimum fuss.
  • Glad I can see the end of the current challenge – shipping the MVP.
  • I’m grateful for the huge amount of support from unexpected sources.

I’m In.

 

Today

The app is working.
People can sign up, get email , request chats, have the chats.
That is the core of the app. It’s done.

So why is it so hard to get it out of the door!

I will open it to limited folks – those who already know what it does.

The main goal today is to ship it. Put it live, get my early adopters on it and start to learn how they want to use it. There are some niggling bits (like the explainer video) – which are not core to the experience, but I will work separately and seek feedback from a difference cohort of users (those who need to understand the problem first).  I suspect I am doing this in the less valuable order, but it will all be done – in a relatively short period of time (hours not days) – so I figure ‘what the hey!’

For now I need to get this out there.

The Trello board…

Screenshot_13_05_2013_11_56