Multi-dimensional Learning for Grownups

January 21, 2013 § 1 Comment

When I start something new, especially when it comes to work, I read and research a lot and plug into some quality video training if it’s a new technical skill I’m working to acquire.  I’ve recently started a new job and while a lot of my experience as a development lead applies, there are new skills I need to learn (and I love this!) in order to do my job well.  Reading books and blogs plugs me into the wealth of experience that others have gained over the course of their careers.

Over the past few weeks, I have started reading some really awesome books, and I am learning so much that I can apply at work.  However, I have had a nagging feeling over the past few days that something big was missing…that there is a disconnect in what I’m reading and learning on my own, the depth of my understanding, and my ability to extract the insight and practices from these books and blogs and put them into practice. Yesterday, I figured it out although I’m struggling still to find the proper words to describe it.  Nevertheless, I’m going to try.

I love learning in a group setting.  I like hearing what other people have gleamed from the information that I may have missed.  I like when the experiences of others color their understanding and maybe they disagree with the author as a result.  If it is a coding technique or language I am learning, I like to whip up a demo (I’m a hands-on visual learner), stop someone in the hall, and say, “Hey, look at this!”.  If I’m lucky, that person will say something like, “Cool! Do you know about xyz?” and maybe offer a suggestion or alternative solution.  It’s discussion, feedback, collaboration, multi-dimensional learning.

Years ago, this is what drove what I like to refer to as my “social media experiment”.  Could I use social media, specifically Twitter, as a learning tool?  The result was a resounding yes, and it still is.  Sharing and discussing a blog post is easy.  Twitter is good for short responses and blog comments are good for longer ones. There are also a few apps that build on Twitter that enhance that experience, depending on your needs.  Sharing and discussing material in books is different.  I mostly read books using the Kindle app on my iPad now which has a sharing feature, but what about discussion and the multi-dimensional learning I mentioned a few sentences ago?  Writing about what I’m reading on my blog and eliciting conversation is one option, but it doesn’t replace the off-the-cuff responses you get from an in-person group study especially if it is professional in nature.  People are more guarded with how they respond and document their reactions and opinions online – as they should be.  This has been at the heart of my desire to go back to school for a master’s degree (along with an ordered curriculum), but I continue to question the timing and my options.

I experimented with building and maintaining a list of what I was reading and wanted to read on LinkedIn in hopes that someone I am connected with would be reading the same and want to talk about it.  Maybe I could even inspire people to read who weren’t!  That’s not been nearly as effective as I had hoped.  So, I’m going to try something else.  First, I’m going to try to write more about what I am reading, although I’ll be honest – this is more time consuming, and I question the degree to which I’ll follow through. After all, it cuts into my actual reading time.  I also have social media policies to adhere to.  Second, I’m listing the things I’m reading below in hopes to connect, discuss, inspire, grow, grow others… After this lengthy blog post, I think you get the idea!

Inspired: How to Create Products That Customers Love by Marty Cagan

Making Things Happen: Mastering Project Management by Scott Berkun

The Process Myth (blog post along with others) from RandsInRepose

So, if you’re interested and want to connect, discuss, get multi-dimensional in your learning and really, really make things happen, let me know!  You know how to reach me 🙂

Integrative Customer Service in Financial Services

December 1, 2011 § 7 Comments

I’ve recently read a string of posts, books, and articles that tie very well into each other regarding social media, customer service, and financial services.  I love it when this happens because it’s my hope that in tying these things together, I can articulate the connections I see and offer something new (rather than simply regurgitate the wisdom of others).  Let’s start with customer service.

Brian Solis recently wrote a fantastic post titled “How to Make Customer Service Matter Again” where he asserts the opinion that lately “customer service is a contradiction of words and intentions”.  He uses a horseshoe to illustrate the “lack of confluence” between social media and customer service.

…with social networks becoming the preferred channel of communication among connected consumers, businesses are losing ground and faith. The reality is that customers will share their experiences whether positive or negative and they will influence the decisions of others. The question is, how are you changing your service model to shape and steer experiences that deliver value to customers and also back to your business?

Improving customer service and delivering an integrated experience will not only help customers feel valued, but also establish a competitive advantage. In the end, businesses that invest in customer retention and acquisition to deliver positive experiences, regardless of platform, will strengthen relationships and loyalty and additionally contribute to organic advocacy.

In financial services, what does it mean to deliver an “integrated experience”? How can service models and financial products be improved to better support such an experience?  Brett King’s book, “Bank 2.0: How Customer Behavior and Technology Will Change the Future of Financial Services“, presents an ideal case for this in the call center of a bank, calling out the disparity in systems used to perform seemingly simple tasks like obtaining an account balance.  In some banks, the customer service representative (CSR) must use multiple systems to attain basic account information.  King asks, “Why isn’t anyone building a single view of the customer dashboard for call centers?”.

Recently, King launched Movenbank – a bank offering a more personalized customer experience.  Having signed up for the Alpha launch, I had the pleasure of experiencing the sign up process.  It starts by connecting your (gasp!) Facebook account to the bank during the login process.  Movenbank explains some of the benefits in doing so in a blog post titled “To Facebook Or Not To Facebook“, and Jim Marous cites in a recent post marketing research that supports the simplification of the login and account creation process.  He also makes the very important point that the benefits of a social login must outweigh the perceived privacy concerns.  While I currently use social logins for many sites, I honestly still felt slightly unnerved doing so with a bank.  It will certainly be interesting to see if Movenbank will continue to use Facebook as a form of authentication and what the public response will be.  The next phase of the sign up process was a series of thoughtful interview questions regarding my financial habits and attitudes culminating in a “Financial Personality”.  Once I completed it, I was quite honestly blown away by the fact that my current bank never asked me these questions!  It seems so simple, yet so revolutionary at the same time.

Back to the call center and CSRs.  Imagine a dashboard that not only integrates all of the disparate systems required to satisfy a customer request but also includes this personality profile and alerts the CSR if the customer has recently tweeted or posted in any other public social media forum about the company or any of its products and services. Maybe even a life changing event has occurred recently that the customer has shared.  Am I comfortable with an informed CSR knowing my financial personality and knowing some basic personal information about me obtained through Facebook?  Am I comfortable with a CSR accessing my public Twitter stream? Absolutely! Yes, please display my picture when I am speaking with a CSR because I’d like to be more than just another anonymous voice on the other end of the line. Yes, I’d also like you to know that I’m not saving as much as I’d like to, that I use other financial products (just not with you), and I’d rather not make a trip to the branch.  Oh, and I abhor checks and am an avid fan of mobile payments.  Maybe then you could tell me about a product or service that better fits my lifestyle and enables me to meet my financial goals.  For me, this knowledge establishes the beginning of a business relationship that already exceeds that which I have with my current bank of four years, and as someone who keeps an “ear to the ground” in financial services, I see this opening the door to multiple new products and services banks could offer while presenting many more sales opportunities of existing products.  An integrated, personalized call center dashboard is just the beginning.

If it’s broken…

November 9, 2010 § Leave a comment

Let’s fix it!  There are two things in my quest to go paperless which irritate me to no end: paper checks and receipts.  Both are broken. Rather than rehashing why I think they are broken, I’m going to share what Seth Godin has to say on the matter because not only is this video entertaining, but it is full of insights.  I was reminded of this brilliant video today after reading an interesting post from Bank Innovation titled “iPhone5, NFC, and the payments experience: scenarios and implications“.  I completely agree with the points the author makes there regarding the receipt that Square provides, and I think we’ll continue to see useful integration of social media in the payments experience.  Bling is connecting payments and social with their new FanConnect platform, and Facebook Places has opened up a check-in experience within Facebook.  I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before rewards are instant and in the form of Facebook credits.

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