The Phone Is Still a Big Deal for Your Customer Experience

Forbes.com

October 31, 2018

By Blake Morgan


When it comes to connecting to customers, many companies focus on methods like social media, chatbots and email. While those are effective ways to solve customer problems, its important to not forget the old customer service standby: the phone.


If you think of your business like a house, the 1-800 number is the front door. In many cases, its a customers first impression of your company. Walking through the front door allows customers to get inside the company. Their experience from the moment the phone starts to ring has a huge impact on how they view your company. Do they have to wait on hold for a long time? Is it confusing to navigate to talk to the right person? Are customer service agents polite and responsive?


As technology develops, too many companies are deserting their 1-800 numbers, and thats not a wise choice. Think about how we naturally want to talk to our friends. When something big happens, we crave that human connection by talking to someone instead of simply sending an email or text. The same is true with your customers. They want to be able to talk to a real human and share an experience with them.


A large part of making the most of your 1-800 number is ensuring that contact center agents are informed and prepared to handle calls. Each call is a chance to market the company and build a relationship. Employees should be trained well but also have the freedom to go off script to answer customers questions and solve their problems. A Zappos employee famously had a 10-hour phone conversation with a customer. You can bet that person is now a loyal Zappos customer for life. But what if the employee had been forced to stick to the script and couldnt give the customer what they needed?


A phone conversation should be pleasant and helpful. The contact center plays a huge role in the overall customer experience and is great for marketing and relationship-building. Many companies, including Amazon, require employees from all areas of the company to spend time in the contact center so they can understand what it takes to talk to customers all day. It shows how important phone interaction really is.


Technology is powerful for customer experience, but true relationships are built over the phone. Dont forget about your 1-800 number. Remember to keep the front door of your business clean, shiny and open for everyone.


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Ford’s 1.3 Million Recall Came After Angry Owners Sparked Federal Inquiry

Forbes.com

October 31, 2018

By Christopher Jensen


Ford decided to recall about 1.3 million vehicles in the United States with a stalling problem only after being contacted by federal regulators, according to a report posted on the website of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.


The automaker said officials from the safety agency contacted them in May about complaints from owners of its Focus models.


After a series of discussions with the regulators Ford said it decided earlier this month that a recall was necessary.


When an automaker recalls a vehicle it is required by the government to explain the sequence of events leading to the action.


The action covers 2012 -18 Focus models with the 2.0-liter GDI four-cylinder engines built before April 13, 2017 as well as 2.0-liter GTDI engines built before Feb. 2, 2018.


The automaker said it was not aware of any accidents or injuries related to the defect.


The agency has at least 100 complaints from owners about stalling or driveability issues with the models being recalled.


The vehicle would get up to about 20 miles per hour and just stall in traffic. This is becoming a major safety issue, especially having my 12-year-old in the vehicle with me, a Virginia owner wrote the agency.


Ford said a malfunctioning canister purge valve could cause driveability problems or stalling.


While the safety agency contacted Ford about the complaints it never posted an official note of its concern on its website. Typically such inquiries are made public as preliminary evaluations.


Ford has had a series of recalls and investigations into stalling or engine problems. In July the agency began an investigation into owner complaints about the Escape.


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These Are Millennials’ Top Three Motivational Drivers at Work

Forbes.com

October 30, 2018

By Mark Murphy


The oldest millennials will soon turn 40. And since this younger generation joined the workforce two decades ago, many of the myths about them have been busted. One of my studies, for example, showed that one of the most frequent charges millennials face, narcissism, is all wrong. Millennials are actually a lot more humble than you might think (see 4 Shocking Charts About Millennials At Work).


By some estimates, millennial employees are the largest group in the workforce, and that means theyll be the largest group in your workforce. To remain successful, organizations and their managers must take steps to understand this generation of workers and to learn what drives them.


Leadership IQ research identified the top three drivers that are predictors of what makes millennials love an organization and feel motivated to give their best efforts. You might be surprised to learn that none of them were money.


Millennial driver #1: Quality


Quality-customer focus and the quality of work an organization provides is the number one driver of millennial willingness to say, this is a great organization to work for.


Millennials want to work for organizations that make great products. Apple and Google, for example, are the best in their respective industries, which is one reason why millennials love working there. Google lists Focus on the user and all else will follow as number one on their company philosophy and Amazon innovates …by starting with the customer and working backwards.


Try making some of your internal communications customer focused. Instead of talking about how you beat the competition, talk about all the great stuff you did for your customers. If you have managers that say, our customers are stupid, or who are focused only on destroying the competition, you wont attract and retain millennials.


Focusing on quality has the added advantage of pushing to get your quality to where it needs to be to impress your employees (which in turn will impress your customers). Millennials are good brand ambassadors if you have millennial customers.


Millennial driver #2: Learning


One of the biggest things that leaders can do to help millennials maximize their full potential is to create a learning environment. And thats not true of just millennials, its true of every generation of worker.


Millennials enjoy being on a lifelong learning path, but our research shows that only 26% say they always do. Millennials dont make the same learning/doing distinctions as do older generations. Everything is a constant process for millennials, and they look at things in terms of job opportunities and what they can learn, or what they can get out of the experience.


One way that managers can have an impact on this is a monthly conversation with millennials (and all employees) that asks four questions:

  • Whats something that youre better at now than you were last month?
  • What things would you like to get better at this month?
  • Whats your plan for developing these skills?
  • What resources can I help you with?


This conversation shows millennials all that they have already learned, encourages new learning, and helps them emerge into self-empowered and self-directed employees.


Millennial driver #3: Feeling valued


Feeling valued isnt the same as getting a meaningless pat on the head. Dont you appreciate it when you know that the work you do really matters?


Encouraging a more enterprising environment that embraces friendly competition, values creativity and intelligence, and where the best idea sometimes wins regardless of status or tenure gives millennials a chance to stand out and be great. Something like Googles concept of 20% time is an example of this in action.


In their 2004 IPO letter, founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin said We encourage our employees, in addition to their regular projects, to spend 20% of their time working on what they think will most benefit Google. This empowers them to be more creative and innovative. Many of our significant advances have happened in this manner.


And even though it doesnt always get implemented as intensely as the founders suggested, the concept of it still enhances Googles aura (and their ability to attract world-class millennial talent).


You dont have to go off the deep end to satisfy millennials. And giving millennials, or any generation of worker, what they want doesnt mean lowering your standards. A desire to be part of an organization that produces quality work, learning on the job and feeling valued for doing good work are not narcissistic desires and are all factors that can benefit the organization.


Use the drivers of Quality, Learning and Valued as your jumping off point for managing millennials so you can harness their talent, help them reach their full potential, and make the best use of their talents.


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Origami, 3-D Printing Merge to Make Complex Structures in One Shot

Space Daily

October 30, 2018

By merging the ancient art of origami with 21st century technology, researchers have created a one-step approach to fabricating complex origami structures whose light weight, expandability, and strength could have applications in everything from biomedical devices to equipment used in space exploration. Until now, making such structures has involved multiple steps, more than one material, and assembly from smaller parts.


What we have here is the proof of concept of an integrated system for manufacturing complex origami. It has tremendous potential applications, said Glaucio H. Paulino, a professor at the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology and a leader in the growing field of origami engineering, or using the principles of origami, mathematics and geometry to make useful things. Last fall Georgia Tech became the first university in the country to offer a course on origami engineering, which Paulino taught.


The researchers used a relatively new kind of 3-D printing called Digital Light Processing (DLP) to create groundbreaking origami structures that are not only capable of holding significant weight but can also be folded and refolded repeatedly in an action similar to the slow push and pull of an accordion.


When Paulino first reported these structures, or zippered tubes, in 2015, they were made of paper and required gluing. In the current work, the zippered tubesand complex structures made out of themare composed of one plastic (a polymer) and do not require assembly.


The work was reported in a recent issue of Soft Matter, a journal published by the Royal Society of Chemistry. The primary authors are Paulino; H. Jerry Qi, a professor in Georgia Techs George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering; and Daining Fang of Peking University and the Beijing Institute of Technology. Other authors are Zeang Zhao, a visiting student at Georgia Tech now at Peking University; Qiang Zhang of Peking University; and Xiao Kuang and Jiangtao Wu of Georgia Tech.


An emerging technology


There are many different types of 3-D printing technologies. The most familiar, inkjet, has been around for some 20 years. But until now, it has been difficult to create 3-D-printed structures with the intricate hollow features associated with complex origami because removing the supporting materials necessary to print these structures is challenging. Further, unlike paper, the 3-D-printed materials could not be folded numerous times without breaking.


Enter DLP and some creative engineering. According to Qi, a leader in the emerging field collaborating with Fangs group at Peking University, DLP has been in the lab for a while, but commercialization only began about five years ago. Unlike other 3-D printing techniques, it creates structures by printing successive layers of a liquid resin that is then cured, or hardened, by ultraviolet light.


For the current work, the researchers first developed a new resin that, when cured, is very strong. We wanted a material that is not only soft, but can also be folded hundreds of times without breaking, said Qi. The resin, in turn, is key to an equally important element of the work: tiny hinges. These hinges, which occur along the creases where the origami structure folds, allow folding because they are made of a thinner layer of resin than the larger panels of which they are part. (The panels make up the bulk of the structure.)


Together the new resin and hinges worked. The team used DLP to create several origami structures ranging from the individual origami cells that the zippered tubes are composed of to a complex bridge composed of many zippered tubes. All were subjected to tests that showed they were not only capable of carrying about 100 times the weight of the origami structure, but also could be repeatedly folded and unfolded without breaking. I have a piece that I printed about six months ago that I demonstrate for people all the time, and its still fine, said Qi.


Whats next?


Whats next? Among other things, Qi is working to make the printing even easier while also exploring ways to print materials with different properties. Meanwhile, Paulinos team recently created a new origami pattern on the computer that he is excited about but that he has been unable to physically make because it is so complex. I think the new system could bring it to life, he said.


Copyright 2018 Space Daily, Distributed by United Press International.

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