March 2017 TMD: Own it Like Oprah

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For March’s TMD, many teammates and I congregated in the Garage to learn how to Own It Like Oprah, courtesy of our VP of People, Dawn Burke. This TMD, promising tips to be an outstanding presenter, certainly did not disappoint, as I left the session with ideas to ponder and practices to perfect (at best; at worst, I had to break some old habits).

Dawn got right to the heart of things by asking the group how, on a day to day basis, we present materials. Her point, of course, was that everyone presents all the time, be it in Sales or onsite training a customer, or anything in between. This light conversation got the crowd engaged and feeling comfortable, which she later pointed out is a good technique to presenting well.

She then asked if there was anyone who had not heard of Oprah, to which the room was unsurprisingly silent. Be it for her magazine, her talk show, her book club, or her philanthropy, I would wager there are not many people who do not know Oprah. Her interviewing skills were the things we spoke about the most, how she has a way of making the interviewee feel as if they are the only person in the room as she asks questions, listens well and then asks follow-up questions. Her charisma and body language paint her as authentic, which makes her engaging.

This authenticity aspect was my big takeaway from the discussion: because Oprah is authentic, when she praises something, her viewers will see it as an honest and earnest recommendation and try it. Good examples include her Book Club and how those books rose to become best-sellers after Oprah’s recommendations. This authenticity led to a connection, and as Dawn put it, ‘the more you connect, the more you’re heard.’

Another excellent quote from Dawn, the one which she described as the biggest focal point of her presentation: ‘the reason you present is so people hear your message.’ Combined with the ‘authenticity’ piece above, it makes sense then that to successfully communicate your message to an audience, it is best to engage them well. Which leads us to Dawn’s 13 Tips on Talking (a name I just made up, but you’re welcome to it for a small fee, Dawn):

  1. It’s all about engagement. Dawn suggests immediately engaging the audience by captivating them with a story or some other form of ‘hook’ to immediately grab their attention. Anything that makes the audience want more will do, be it ‘Call me Ishmael’ or the opening riff on the guitar in the Rolling Stones’ song ‘Satisfaction.’
  1. Start strong. Similar to the above, generally speaking the first and last five minutes of any presentation are the ones that will stick with the audience. Hit the ground running and finish strong! A big point (for me, at least) that Dawn made here is that starting with an apology is seldom the best move.
  1. Slow down. Remember to breathe. Another important idea is to view the presentation as a conversation, which will make it feel more natural and, importantly, ease the feeling of wanting to sprint through the prepared material.
  1. Be aware of verbal garbage. The ‘empty calories of conversation,’ filler words should be avoided. Uh, um, like, y’know, ah…these are verbal ticks best avoided though, as Dawn points out, filling silence in this way is not as big a deal as many often make it out to be. Avoid using these when possible, but do not lose sleep over an errant ‘um.’
  1. Make eye contact. Making eye contact builds trust, though maintaining eye contact too long or in a manner that might be seen as inauthentic does more harm than good. Singling out one person and holding eye contact for too long makes all parties uncomfortable and scanning from side to side looks robotic. Move from person to person, do not linger too long.
  1. Know your audience. Without knowing your audience, you will have trouble connecting with them; without a connection, your communication will be hindered. Dawn revealed her questions in the earlier parts of the TMD were building rapport and a connection with the audience.
  1. Make Shakespeare proud. More for in person, but presentations, like Shakespearian plays, are better seen and not read, better as plays and not novels. Body language is crucial. Stand like an actor. Body language, though subconsciously, is more telling than speech.
  1. Hand-le with care. Continuing on that, your hands are the biggest tells your body has as to how you’re feeling. Are your hands in your pocket? That might come across as boredom. Are they across your chest? You now seem standoffish. Dawn recommends keeping them at your side or, if that induces too much discomfort, lightly linking your fingers together in front of your stomach.
  1. Don’t turn your back on the audience. Instead, use what she called the ‘actors’ cheat,’ which is when two actors are having a conversation and somewhat ‘open up’ to the audience, so that they’re included in the conversation. Turning your back to the audience is insulting at worst and, at best, it makes the presentation significantly harder to hear.
  1. Work the tools. Don’t let the tools work you. Have your technology together, have your files together, and know how everything works with one another.
  1. Have a Plan B. That being said, technology can and will fail, so it’s best to be prepared. There is no shame in taking a small break to resolve any issues that have sprung up before a presentation.
  1. Practice. A quote Dawn used here that I enjoyed: ‘make talking to yourself an art form.’ However, over practicing can lead to a rehearsed feeling, which is something we want to avoid entirely. Practice to the level of your own comfort and be comfortable in your material.
  1. Be yourself. You knew it was coming, but the last tip is to be authentic. Again, without a connection between the presenter and the audience, communication will be hampered. Be yourself, be authentic. Enough said.

As we were leaving, though, Dawn had one more piece of wisdom that seems to be the case regardless of any of the rules above: content trumps everything. Of course, the tips above are the stars for which we all shoot, but if your presentation is on a topic that is of immense interest to the audience, all the ‘ahs’ and ‘ums’ of the world will not be able to detract from your presentation.

What’s it like on the Daxko Customer Success Team?

By | Culture, Grow Your Career, Healthy Stuff, Life at Daxko, Rewarding Careers, Talent, Team Member Spotlight | No Comments

You hear the words “rewarding career” at Daxko a lot. In fact, providing team members with rewarding careers is part of our mission. In this video, I share an insider’s look at my personal career growth and the Customer Success Team.


Crystal S. is a Customer Success Team Lead who loves the hustle, her dog, and America.

Interested in working with Crystal? Check out our opening for Customer Success Advocate.

A Designer’s Perspective: Top Tools & Resources

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When I think about cool tech and design resources, so many options pop into my head. As a user experience designer always looking to learn something new, I have to say that there is an ocean of books, blogs, design tools, and inspirational sites out there that can help you grow personally and professionally. If you are curious, passionate about design, and eager to learn, we have already something in common.

Productivity, design thinking, behavioral change, and innovation, are a few areas of focus that have shaped the person and designer I am today. Below is a selection of tools and resources to help people like you and me:

Books:

  • Change by Design – An introduction to design thinking and how to drive innovation in organizations.

A little bit of everything:

  • Einstein window – Identify which is your most productive time in the day and get the most out of it.
  • Bullet Journal – A straightforward and productive way to design your to-do list.
  • Toastmasters – Improve public speaking and leadership skills while meeting new people.
  • Leadercast – Leadership event to get inspired and learn from top leaders in the world.
  • Pomodoro technique – The best productivity tool that helps you prioritize and time yourself.

Community:

  • AIGA (The American Institute of Graphic Arts) – Excellent professional organization for design, especially around graphic design.
  • IXDA – Interaction Design Association
  • Code for America – If you are interested in civic projects, open data and, helping your community, I highly recommend finding the Brigade chapter in your state.

Trend, news and, inspiration:

  • Website Awards – Recognized web designers and agencies in the world.

Webinars, blogs, and podcasts:

  • Mural.com blog – Mural is an awesome tool for remote collaboration and documentation. They also have really good webinars.
  • UserTesting.com – Test your designs and sites with this tool. They also provide webinars with top leaders.

Prototyping tools:

  • Balsamiq – Create quick mock ups, and wireframes
  • Invision – Build web and mobile prototypes to share and to gather user feedback.
  • Axure – Create highly interactive prototypes.

Design resources:

  • Codepen – Front-end inspiration
  • Usability Hub – Use this free service to get quick user feedback

I hope you find these tools useful, regardless of whether or not you are growing a design career or a career in another field. Do you have other exciting tools and resources? I am always looking for new things to try.


Erika B. is a multidisciplinary designer, thinker, researcher and strategist from Caracas, Venezuela. She is an alumni of Savannah College of Art and Design where she studied Industrial Design and Service Design. She works at Daxko as an Interaction Designer and during her free time, works as a community organizer at Code for Birmingham.

February 2017 TMD: Customer Loyalty

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On Wednesday February 22nd, our Senior Vice President Molly Harrison kicked off our 2017 Team Member Development series with a presentation entitled ‘Why Customer Loyalty Matters & How We Measure It.’ She spoke to a packed room, occasionally handing off to other leaders in the company for other perspectives.

For those who don’t know or need a refresher, Team Member Development sessions (TMDs) are hour long sessions held every month or so in which a Daxko team member or guest speaker puts forth an idea and educates other team members about it. This can take many forms, from a discussion on how to lead even if you’re not in charge, to a presentation on how to be an outstanding presenter. These seminars are helpful in conveying information across the country, as well as developing the talent we’ve got latent in this company. We love providing professional development opportunities for our team members whenever possible, and TMDs are a convenient way to do just that.

This TMD, as you might be able to guess, is focused on why we at Daxko focus so much on building meaningful relationships with our customers and how we go about measuring it.

Why would a company care about customer loyalty? Why should a company go out of its way to build relationships with its clientele? To answer, Molly asked us to think of a time we were purchasing something online. Did we look at the reviews? When we were shopping around for a place to eat, did we ask friends their opinion? These simple interactions influence many decisions that we make: we’re not likely to eat at a restaurant that has been universally panned, while we would much prefer to eat somewhere that receives a thumbs-up from our friends.

For this same reason, we want Daxko to be well loved! We are interested in providing the best service, the best product and the best experience possible so that our customer’s lives are as stress-free as possible. Then, when it comes time for a friend to choose a ‘restaurant,’ we hope that Daxko is high up on that list.

As Peter Drucker is oft quoted as saying, “if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” How, though, do you go about measuring something as nebulous as customer loyalty? Charlie, our Engagement Solutions Team Lead, took the stage to explain. We use something known as the Net Promoter System (NPS). A quick survey is sent via email asking, on a scale from 0 to 10, how likely the recipient is to recommend Daxko to a friend or colleague. Upon receiving responses, we categorize customers into one of three categories:

  • Detractors
  • Passives
  • Promoters

We then find the percentage of promoters and subtract the percentage of detractors to figure out our Net Promoter Score. Always wanting to improve and searching for more details, we reach out to see what we could do to further improve the Daxko experience.

Placing a nice bow on the conversation, Molly once again took to the stage with a quote that summarizes the TMD nicely: ‘the benefits of long-term customer-centric focus are substantial, but so is the commitment.’ From a business perspective, it makes obvious sense to consistently keep the customer satisfied and to, when they are not pleased, see how we can resolve issues and fix problems. The overall goal of everyone in the company, then, must be to further Daxko as a ‘listening company,’ one that hears its customers and whose actions are not necessarily always pleasing, but are done in good faith.


McKee S. is a Project Manager who loves playing video games and kickin’ around a hacky sack.