Deliver Your Mission Online

By | Customer Experience, Industry, Mission Delivery, Online | No Comments

Virtual Facilities are nothing new; in fact, they have been used for years by groups of people in different locations wishing to collaborate on ideas and projects. Typically these are secure online collaborative workspaces designed to enhance the exchange of information among a project team working from different locations. The term Collaboratory was coined as far back as 1989 by William Wulf while he worked for the US National Science Foundation. Wulf’s vision was a “center without walls”; a place in which the nation’s researchers could interact with colleagues, share data, and access information in digital libraries all from geographically dispersed locations.

Since then, rapid advances in computing and communications technologies, such as the internet, social media and mobile (Smart Phone) technology have made near real-time delivery of information quite common. Average people have become adept at sharing such things as music, photographs, schedules, ideas, opinions and messages all in real time over the internet; to many, this has become their preferred medium of communication with third parties. Recognizing this, many progressive organizations have recently deployed Live Chat technology on their websites, allowing the public to interact directly with sales or customer service staff without having to pick up the phone or visit a facility.

This is just one example of ways that a member-based non-profit organization like the YMCA could extend their brand and their mission beyond the physical boundaries of their bricks and mortar facility. Imagine being able to communicate with a virtual Health Coach where you could get exercise and nutritional advice right from the comfort of your own computer. Some people prefer to exercise outdoors, perhaps jogging or cycling; imagine if these weekend warriors had online tools where they could plan their workouts, set goals and objectives and track their progress—all while being held accountable to their fitness program by their personal trainer who resides inside their iPad. Other compelling virtual solutions include an online Health Assessment, Symptom Checker, Health Calculators, Recipes, Online Learning and Positive Coaching Courses. There is certainly no better way to reach out to today’s youth than through this medium. The opportunities are endless but the journey might seem more daunting than the destination.

In a recent survey I asked several of our YMCA customers if they viewed their websites as a critical tool for mission delivery and the answer was a unanimous “Yes!” The next question I asked them was whether they thought their members found their websites to be a useful source of information and the answer was a resounding “No!”—curious disconnect. It seems that although many progressive member-based nonprofit organizations understand the importance of this medium, few have the time or resources to invest in delivering the online tools that drive member engagement and positively impact the community.

The good news is that most of this technology already exists and there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Live Chat again is a good example—there are literally hundreds of different options to choose from—and most of them are easy to deploy and work rather well. Online health and wellness tools are common too, as are learning solutions. The challenge is identifying the best-of-breed providers and integrating their solutions into a useful online offering. For this, finding the right development partner who is focused on mission delivery solutions could be the best answer. While not entirely painless, the dream of a complete and interactive “center without walls” for a member-based nonprofit is not that far off.

James Smith is innovative strategist for Daxko.

Technology = Accountability, Motivation, and Community

By | Customer Experience, Fitness, Industry | No Comments

For the first time since 1981, I did not put on my Casio Illuminator this week. I have no idea how many times I have gone into Walmart, plopped down 12 bucks, and walked out with a new edition of my old running buddy. It is a watch, stopwatch and alarm. That’s it.

This week I have been wearing my Nike+ Fuelband. Ok, so I bought it because I like Nike products and it is just very cool. But it really has helped me improve my lifestyle activity level—not just time my running or swimming. It monitors three key aspects of physical activity level 24/7 and provides me with feedback on progress towards my goals.

I believe the smart folks at Nike developed this for everyone—not just high-performing athletes. I think this new technology helps people with three things:

• Accountability
• Motivation
• Community

Here is an example of all three: A few nights ago I was getting out of the car to get into my hotel room and go to sleep as quickly as possible. Just before she drove away, my Daxko teammate, Lori Swann, held out her arm to show me her Fuelband flashing “GOAL.” I think I heard the word “wimp” and a victorious laugh as she drove away. Of course I walked around the parking lot until I met my goal for the day, snapped the pic above, and posted it on the Nike online community.

It is not just tech equipment. A free website (www.myfitnesspal.com) has helped me lose 21 pounds (thanks Gordie E.)

Technology can be the bridge between a sedentary lifestyle and a Y facility membership. Stated more strongly: I think what facilities did for YMCAs over the last decade, technology could do over the next decade.

Tom Massey is senior vice president of Daxko T2 Consulting.

Make the Most of Your First Impression

By | Customer Experience, Engagement, Industry | No Comments

Meet Gabby. She’s my 5 year old Weimaraner and if she’s ever had a bad day I don’t know about it. She’s just that happy. Gabby waits for me to come through the door each night with more kisses and tail wagging than a carnival kissing booth. It’s a heck of a welcome home and one I’ll never grow tired of.

We’re emotional beings and the tone and mood of people around us can change our experience before we know it.

A new restaurant opened in my neighborhood this week and I couldn’t wait to try it out. I knew the place would be packed and the wait would be long. I expected service to be a little slow and maybe even for a less than perfect menu. All of that should be expected on opening night, right?

What killed it for me was the staff. The place was covered with hostesses, servers, and cooks, and every single one of them seemed to be having the worst day of their life. The food was good and the décor was beautiful, but it was so hard to get past the negativity with the staff.

With some customers we get one chance and one chance only. We have to make a good impression and in so many situations, the staff can make or break the experience. Think about your customers’ experience. Do they receive a warm welcome every time they come through the door like I get with Gabby? Or do they show up with good intentions and realistic expectations only to interact with a staff that clearly doesn’t want to be there and doesn’t really care if your customer is there either?

Companies and organizations that don’t put a strong emphasis on an excellent customer experience will have to fight that much harder to retain customers. The best product in the world is tarnished with a bad customer experience.

Watch your staff interact with members today. Hopefully you’re seeing a lot of Gabbys out there. If so, I bet your customers are having a good experience today and they’re already looking forward to coming back.

Britney Summerville is VP of Daxko Impact Services.

Consistency in Customer Service

By | Customer Experience, Industry | No Comments

Consistency can be defined as, “the achievement of a level of performance that does not vary greatly in quality over time.” It signifies steadfastness and continuously met expectations.

When I think of consistency, in customer service specifically, a local frozen yogurt establishment (Red Mango) that I frequent comes to mind. These types of businesses are like grains of sand on a shore line in the communities I live and work in. There are too many to count! With so many frozen yogurt franchises, the products are similar & service is what ultimately sets them apart.

So, what sets Red Mango apart? What distinguishes them and makes them superior to their numerous competitors? Four words: consistent exceptional customer service. As you enter the glass doors into bold, bright, colorful decorum, you’re welcomed with that same level of enthusiasm and friendliness by the staff. Each customer is met with a big smile and personal greeting, often times even a wave. Are you a first time guest? No problem, they’ll patiently walk you through the process of a self-serve yogurt bar. Are you a repeat customer? Even better, as this means you can certainly expect to be treated like royalty. For example, the staff pulls out a large container of my favorite brand of granola from behind the counter as I near the toppings bar. They know I prefer to pick nuts out of the granola, so they go out of their way each visit to make that possible. Can you think of very many places that do that? I can’t!

The staff and Red Mango consistently provides a welcoming atmosphere, delightfully tasting frozen yogurt, fresh toppings, quick service, & a very clean environment. Always. As a frequent customer, those things are important. I’ve come to expect this type of top notch experience. Anything less, which is what I’m accustomed to at many of their competitors, has become unacceptable and unappealing.

Each staff regularly performs at this level while every flavor of frozen yogurt and each topping contantly proves to be superior. No matter how bad of a day I’ve had, I always leave Red Mango better, all because of consistent exceptional customer service.