National Get to Know Your Customers Day

In light of today’s national “get to know your customers” day, we’re featuring an article from woocommerce.com author Maria Scarpello, “a classically-trained designer who is passionate about the customer experience, and strives to deepen research practices among designers.” Find her on Twitter at @msdesign21.

“At WordCamp US 2016, Matt Mullenweg’s State of the Word outlined a vision for WordPress being design-led. Since then, WooCommerce has doubled down on our efforts to follow suit.

From growing our one-person design team to five (and still hiring!) to talking more to our customers — hearing what’s most important to them, and how eCommerce fits into their lives – we’re just getting started on our journey to make this transition, and we’re learning a lot!

Our hope is that you can take some of the lessons we’re learning and apply them to your business, no matter how big or small.

It’s never too soon or too late to start talking to your customers, understanding who they are, and how they made their way to you today.

  1. Understanding and mapping a customer journey

One key component of the design process is understanding your customer’s experience, often referred to as mapping a customer journey.

This involves examining a customer’s path from the first moment they interact with your brand to the endpoint of that task. For example, purchasing a product, completing a course, or booking a reservation.

These touch points can then be mapped to understand the overall picture.

To understand and apply this to your business, ask yourself:

  • What tasks am I wanting them to complete?
  • Why would someone need or want to complete this task?
  • How easy is it for them to complete the task?
  • What are the blockers?

From here, write out steps for each task.

We use the diagram below to help map each step, ensuring we consider what customers may be thinking and feeling alongside external factors that could interfere.

For example, if there are limitations with their device, connectivity, or environment that prevent them from easily completing a task and leave them feeling confused or frustrated, we note that.

Once every touch point is mapped, you can then vote on which are the most important areas to focus research.

When thinking about tasks, it’s important to consider what stage your customers are in via interactions with your brand and products.

Each stage has its own sets of needs and states of mind. For WooCommerce, we apply the Six Universal Experiences from IBM, which breaks down the customer journey into six distinct phases:

  • Discover, Try, and Buy
  • Getting Started
  • Everyday Use
  • Manage and Upgrade
  • Leverage and Extend
  • Get Support
  1. Talking to customers: smart listening and uncovering insights

One way to examine each of six phases is to talk to customers while they are in each stage. What initially brought them to you? Why did they want get started? How do they use your product or service? What happens next?

When talking to customers, it’s critical to ask the right questions. Rather than having them to talk about what they want, ask customers why they do what they do. Have them show you how they use your product or website, then observe how they go about it. Listen to what they say, but also take notes on what they do.

“To design the best user experience, pay attention to what users do, not what they say. Self-reported claims are unreliable, as are user speculations about future behavior. Users do not know what they want.” — Jakob Nielsen

For example, asking our customers what they think of a new WooCommerce feature that we have yet to develop would produce the wrong insights: they’d only be able to speculate on what they think we mean or want to hear. A better approach would be to observe customers complete a related task for the new feature, such as adding a new product.

By observing and talking with customers, we may discover that more control over customizing the product page could be useful because they want to be able to cross-sell a few related items but the theme layout isn’t what they wanted. Asking them what they want would not produce the same result.

As Erika Hall, author of Just Enough Research and co-founder of Mule Design suggests:

“Good research is about asking more and better questions, and thinking critically about the answers. It’s something every member of your team can and should do, and which everyone can learn, quickly. And, done well, it will save you time and money by reducing unknowns and creating a solid foundation to build the right thing, in the most effective way.” — Erika Hall

Erika is an advocate of good research and knows what it takes to uncover insights that can influence how customers use the products you’re creating.

“To make the best use of your time and truly do just enough research, try to identify your highest-priority questions—your assumptions that carry the biggest risk.” —Erika Hall

  1. Laying down assumptions, building empathy and cultivating curiosity

Anything you think you know about your customers should be considered an assumption that needs to be validated, when diving into research. Build your hypothesis and start exploring. For example, if you were to outline high priority questions for your eCommerce website, you might ask:

  • Can my customers easily make it through checkout?
  • What’s blocking them from making a purchase?
  • What information are they looking for?
  • Can they find the information they need to help make the decision to purchase?

From here it’s a matter of finding customers to talk with, setting a time to meet, and planning for your session. Ideally this can be done in person, but that shouldn’t stop you from talking to your customers in other ways.

There are many tools we use for remote user research. If you’re interested in learning more about various research methods and best practices, Usability.gov is an excellent resource.

In addition to Erika Hall’s Just Enough Research, Steve Portigal’s book, Interviewing Users: How to Uncover Compelling Insights goes in depth on interviewing techniques, tools, and how to analyze results. Both books can be purchased via Rosenfeld Media, which we’re proud to say is powered by WooCommerce!

In conclusion, know thy customers!

Learning more about customers and how your product or service fits (or doesn’t) into their everyday life allows you to relate to who they are on a more personal level.

Building empathy for your customers is key to helping ensure your offering is as useful, desirable, and accessible as possible. It’s important to take time to understand the needs and expectations of your customers as it’s been proven time and time again:

“Across sectors, satisfied customers spend more, exhibit deeper loyalty to companies, and create conditions that allow companies to have lower costs and higher levels of employee engagement.” —The CEO Guide to Customer Experience McKinsey Quarterly, August 2016″

 

The Outward Mindset

An outward mindset will greatly impact how we negotiate our world and the impact we will have. An outward mindset helps us to see the world as it is and not how we imagine it to be. An outward mindset doesn’t come naturally though. We have to consciously change how we think about the world and about others.

In The Outward Mindset, the Arbinger Institute reports that “the biggest lever for change is not a change in self-belief but a fundamental change in the way one sees and regards one’s connections with and obligations to others.”

Moving from an inward mindset to an outward mindset is more than a surface adjustment or behavioral change alone. It requires a change in how we see and think about others. How we see and respond to others is not so much about them as it is a reflection of what is going on inside of us. We often fixate on other’s shortcomings so we don’t have to deal with our own.

Arbinger has discovered that those who consistently work with an outward mindset follow a pattern. They:

· See the needs, objectives, and challenges of others (Create opportunities for people to see each other so they can begin to talk.)

· Adjust their efforts to be more helpful to others (“Real helpfulness can’t be made into a formula. To be outward doesn’t mean that people should adopt this or that prescribed behavior. Rather, it means that when people see the needs, challenges, desire, and humanity of others, the most effective ways to adjust their efforts occur to them in the moment. When they see others as people, they respond in human and helpful ways.”)

· Measure and hold themselves accountable for the impact of their work on others (“Measuring one’s impact requires nothing but a willingness to stay in regular conversations with others about whether they feel one’s efforts are helping them or not.”)

An outward-mindset begins with you. “While the goal in shifting mindsets is to get everyone turned toward each other, accomplishing this goal is possible only if people are prepared to turn their mindsets toward others with no expectation that others will change their mindsets in return. This capability—to change the way I see and work with others regardless of whether they change—overcomes the biggest impediment to mindset change: the natural, inward-mindset inclination to wait for others to change before doing anything different oneself.” This of course, is true leadership.

The chamber office is carrying this book. Stop by and purchase your copy today to learn how you and your organization can benefit from building an “outward mindset”.

Forbes Coaches Council Shares 9 Pieces of Business Advice

  1. Research And Understand Your Market

Take the time to do market research and really listen closely to your ideal client’s needs. Get really in tune with them to know where they’re at right now: That is different to where you would like them to be. Take this intel and craft it into an irresistible solution for them to be able to get easier yeses in your business. – Penny Elliott, Pennycomins.com

  1. Put In The Hard Work

Starting a business is exponentially harder than another other job. Successful entrepreneurs need to operate well across a variety of functions: sales, marketing, finance, operations, HR, etc. On top of that, creating an enterprise from scratch requires creativity, persistence and continuous learning. – Justin Kulla, BusinessBlocks

  1. Mould The Life You Want For Yourself

You are the designer of your life. If there are parts of your life that do not fit well, you can make adjustments. Think of your life and career as clay on a potter’s wheel and you as the potter. Get a picture in your mind of what the masterpiece looks like and keep shaping toward that picture. – Bonnie Hagemann, Executive Development Associates

  1. Really Listen To Your Clients

Truly listen and empathize with your clients. Everyone is so interested in getting their own personal message across, that no one pauses for a moment to actually listen and hear the root of the problem or pain. Believe in listening 80% of the time, clarifying 10% of the time, and responding wholeheartedly and intentionally, is the remaining 10% of the time. – Stephynie Malik, ChiqueSpeak

  1. Learn With A Team

Most leaders settle for learning by themselves. They read a book or attend a conference by themselves. Good leaders learn with the help of a mentor. A coach can come alongside a leader and help the leader see things from a different perspective. The best leaders learn with a team. An old proverb teaches that where there are many advisors, there is much success. – Ken Gosnell, CXP – CEO Experience

  1. Focus On What Makes You Thrive

Be unapologetic and relentless with what makes you thrive. Many times, we are influenced from the outside world, and cloud our own desires for the sake of those around us. The sooner you are able to grasp this nugget, the sooner it will drastically change your world. – Neeta Bhushan, Global GRIT institute

  1. Play The Long Game

It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day challenges of running a business, but you MUST carve out time at least once a week to take stock of what you’re doing for the long-term health of your business. That includes marketing, training, employee development, community engagement and capital development. Sound investments today will pay dividends in the future. – Jim Judy, Try Franchising

  1. Focus On the Rewards

This may sound cliché, but my honest advice is to go for it when considering starting a new business venture, despite the fear it may not work out. One needs to adopt the mindset that the whole journey is a big experiment and that “failure” is not an option, because ultimately it is learning and growth that we will get. Focusing on the rewards instead of the fear is the real key to success. – Noor Hibbert, This Is Your Dream LTD

  1. Network With Experienced Execs

Take any opportunity to network and learn from more experienced executives, as well as to be mentored and coached by some of them. Further, exposure to specific meetings, boardroom discussion, and strategic planning would be utterly beneficial. – Izabela Lundberg, Legacy Leaders Institute

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2018/02/28/9-business-tips-every-entrepreneur-needs-to-know/#865788323463

Dallas Retirement Village – Evy Nickel

Evy Nickel, a resident at Dallas Retirement Village Apartments, is a designer and innovator by training and osmosis. Some years ago a friend, who was ill, asked her to make something to keep him warm. Rather than the traditional blanket or scarf, Evy took it up a notch and made him a monkey! Stitched with love and filled with rice, these adorable companions can be heated in the microwave and provide gentle warm comfort.

Over the years, Evy made many monkeys that she gave to friends or contributed to non-profits for markets and bazaars. A group from her church would gather and make monkeys for hospice patients who gained comfort just having them to hold. Eventually, Evy obtained a patent for her design, started naming each monkey individually, and called her endeavor MONKEY BUSINESS ADOPTION AGENCY. The monkeys were made in two sizes – a larger one the “caregiver” and a smaller one the “buddy’.

With her move to DRV and the chore of clearing out a large house, she needed to decide what to do with her collection of materials to make many additional monkeys. Her decision was as innovative as only Evy can be… she gifted everything to the Dallas Retirement Village Foundation to use as a fundraiser. Residents were recruited to help sew, stuff and name monkeys, and the marketing began. Because all the materials and labor are donated, 100% of the sales go to Dallas Retirement Foundation’s Scholarship Fund. Ever since these adorable little companions showed up, they have been flying off the shelf!

If you would like to adopt one of these unique monkeys, they can be found in the gift shop of the Health Center at Dallas Retirement Village: 377 NW Jasper Street and also on campus in the main lobby of the Lodge Clubhouse and Village Apartments. If you take one of these lil cuties home, please know that you are not only getting a warm companion, but you are also helping the Dallas Retirement Village staff continue their education to become better caregivers and comforters.

https://www.dallasretirementvillage.com/

Reading: A Habit Worth Fostering

There are two distinct types of people when it comes to reading: those who love to read, and those who cannot say when it was that they last read a complete article, let alone a book. With all of the options for consuming the written word, it is a shame that anyone misses out the benefits of reading.

There are many health benefits to curling up with a good book. Reading is one of the best ways to exercise the brain. Brain stimulation in the form of reading decreases stress and increases memory. It has also been proven to help slow and possibly prevent Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia. Reading also helps with focus and concentration, something that many struggle with, within the multitasking demands in today’s society.

With regards to the inherent professional benefits, reading is one of the single best ways to help advance your career. People who read on a consistent basis have larger vocabularies, enhanced writing skills, and tend to be promoted more quickly and more often than their non-reading counterparts. Reading is the most affordable education one can obtain. A library card can open up a world of possibilities to knowledge. There are also many free business books available on Kindle, iBooks, Google Books, and Nook through the Gutenberg Project.

A reading habit does not have to be strictly related to business or literature. Lighter reading, such as graphic novels, and bestsellers are great escapes. Additionally, audio books, magazines, and newspapers are also great at stimulating the mind and provide the same benefits. Set a goal of reading just 15 to 30 minutes per day to place yourself on the part of establishing a great reading habit.

There are so many great business books for those who prefer that genre or who want to inject a bit of professional development into their reading diet. No matter your industry, there are a wide variety of books that are both entertaining and informative.

Regardless of the genre or variant (i.e. hardcover, paperback, e-book, audio book), developing a reading habit will benefit your mind, body, and career.

4 Steps To Finding A Business Idea

This is probably the most daunting area for people. In fact, the most common reason why people haven’t started a business on the side is because they “just don’t have a good business idea.” This is just a mental barrier though — one that you can easily get past if you look at one area: your strengths. Here are four questions you can ask yourself to find a solid business idea:

What skills do you have? Now, what do you know and know well? These are the skills and knowledge that you have acquired. Think of it another way: We pay for expert knowledge all the time (e.g., language classes, college courses, instrument lessons). Guess what? You can be that teacher too.

What do your friends say you’re great at? I love this question. Not only can it be a nice little ego boost — but it can also be incredibly revealing. Message your family and friends on Facebook or ask them IRL: What am I great at? The answers they give you can be turned into side business ideas.

What do you do on a Saturday morning? What do you do on a Saturday morning before everyone else is awake? This can be incredibly revealing to what you’re passionate about and what you like to spend your time on.

What do you already pay for? You don’t even have to play to your strengths and talents. Instead, you can look to things you already pay for. After all, we pay people to do a lot of different things. There’s no reason you can’t turn one of those things into your own online business.

Tribes by Seth Godin

In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is a failure. In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible.

Since it was first published almost a decade ago, Seth Godin’s visionary book has helped tens of thousands of leaders turn a scattering of followers into a loyal tribe. If you need to rally fellow employees, customers, investors, believers, hobbyists, or readers around an idea, this book will demystify the process.

It is human nature to seek out tribes, be they religious, ethnic, economic, political, or even musical (think of the Deadheads).  Now the Internet has eliminated the barriers of geography, cost, and time. Social media gives anyone who wants to make a difference the tools to do so.

With his signature wit and storytelling flair, Godin presents the three steps to building a tribe: the desire to change things, the ability to connect a tribe, and the willingness to lead.

If you think leadership is for other people, think again—leaders come in surprising packages. Consider Joel Spolsky and his international tribe of scary-smart software engineers. Or Gary Vaynerhuck, a wine expert with a devoted following of enthusiasts. Chris Sharma led a tribe of rock climbers up impossible cliff faces, while Mich Mathews, a VP at Microsoft, ran her internal tribe of marketers from her cube in Seattle.

Tribes will make you think—really think—about the opportunities to mobilize an audience that are already at your fingertips. It’s not easy, but it’s easier than you think.

The Servant – James C. Hunter

The concept of servant leadership has always captivated. I’ve seen many liters in my life some of which have been absolutely horrific and how they lead.   they are dictators they are angry they do not think about the result of their actions to those that they lead at least that’s what it seems. but a servant leader those who I’ve been able to watch always consider what’s best for those in their care

As I finished my degree I was required to read the book The Servant by James C Hunter.  It was one of those books that I did not want to put down as it spoke to my soul about the real characteristics of a true leader, someone that doesn’t just mandate they influence and inspire.

In this absorbing tale, you watch the timeless principles of servant leadership unfold through the story of John Daily, a businessman whose outwardly successful life is spiraling out of control. He is failing miserably in each of his leadership roles as boss, husband, father, and coach. To get his life back on track, he reluctantly attends a week-long leadership retreat at a remote Benedictine monastery.

To John’s surprise, the monk leading the seminar is a former business executive and Wall Street legend. Taking John under his wing, the monk guides him to a realization that is simple yet profound: The true foundation of leadership is not power, but authority, which is built upon relationships, love, service, and sacrifice.

I agree with Hunter 100% when he writes, “The role of the leader is a very high calling.” And remember: whether you lead a corporation, team, troop, department, or family, you are a leader. The Servant offers terrific insights for going beyond average to truly fulfill a meaningful, purposeful leadership role, no matter what that role might be.

Don’t Dress Down

Networking outside the office is your best chance to meet new people beyond your corporate circle who can help promote your career. It’s also a no-man’s land when it comes to the dress code.

Networking is not an interview, and once outside the office, the strict rules of the dress code no longer apply. You’re left on your own to overdress and look like you don’t belong or under dress and look like you’ll never belong.

If you’re not sure what everyone will be wearing, ask around to ensure that you won’t be the only one sans suit. When in doubt, business casual is your best bet. But the clothes call could run the gamut from a suit to jeans. Networking outside the office, with more focus on culture and entertainment, is also the perfect opportunity to be more fashion forward and express yourself. This is not a free pass to don your sequined ‘80s jumpsuit, but wear your favorite colors; accessorize; and, most of all, smile.

Remember, dress for success every day, no matter what’s on the agenda – you never who you will run into on your lunch break. Our appearance contributes to how people perceive us. Take control of your appearance. Make sure people perceive you the way you want to be perceived.

Can We Talk?

In today’s society, instant gratifications has infiltrated the workplace in all areas of communication. This has changed how colleagues and management interact. However, this change is not necessarily for the better. We have moved from submitting meeting requests on paper or via the phone, to emails, and now on to instant messages or texts. The expected response time has decreased dramatically from a business day to several hours, and in some cases down to just several minutes or even seconds.

There are some people who do not even employ these types of communication. They simply walk right into their colleague’s office and begin discussing whatever topic is on their mind. This is very disrupting to the other person’s productivity. They have not only been interrupted from their train of thought and have to find it again, but are now expected to remember a meeting, for example, that they have only heard about verbally, versus through at least an email for reference.

Communication etiquette does not need to remain a lost art. Here are a few examples of places where the most common etiquette pitfalls occur and how to resolve these issues.

Email – An email is essentially a business letter that is delivered to the recipient in minutes versus days. Email is considered a standard for of communication in the workplace. However, many treat it too causally. All emails should be kept formal. The use of emoticons and excessive punctuation would never happen in a formal business letter. Therefore, they should not appear in emails sent from your work email address. An easy way to make sure that you are on track with proper email etiquette is to ask yourself, “If there was ever an issue that my boss needed to get involved with, and this email had to be pulled out as part of the resolution, is it something that I want my boss to see?”

Meetings – It is very tempting to walk up to a team member’s desk for a quick meeting, especially in open office settings. This is not only distracting, but considered rude by the staff member and others working near them. You can set an example of how to properly set up a meeting by showing your subordinates what to do. Next time you want to meet with someone in your office, even if it is urgent, do not say, “Come to my office right now.” Instead, show that person proper etiquette by sending a message stating, “I need to meet with you in my office immediately. Please finish what you are going and come see me.” This tells the person that even though you have something urgent to discuss, you respect the fact that he is in the middle of something and are willing for him to complete his thought or his task before meeting with you. When you do meet, do so in your office or an empty conference room (i.e. behind closed doors) so others are not disturbed. When you extend this sort of respect, your subordinates will begin to extend this behavior as well.

Cell phones, tablets, etc. in meetings – it is a myth that multitasking makes us more productive and efficient. If you look in on most meetings, you will see a few people with their heads down checking their email or social media accounts. This is disrespectful to the person speaking or presenting. Set the standard by employing a universal rule that cell phones, tablets, computers, etc. are not allowed in meetings of any sort, unless otherwise stated. Ensure that you follow this rule too, so that even if you are not conducting the meeting, you are showing your subordinates that you respect the presenter and what he has to say.

Conversations with colleagues – Humans are social creatures by nature. Having a conversation about your weekend with colleagues at lunch is perfectly acceptable. Walking from office to office, or cubicle to cubicle, and striking up conversations while others are working is not acceptable. It is also important to remember the necessary separation between work life and personal life. Sharing too much personal information can negatively impact your image. The rule of thumb is to stick to neutral topics, maintain a more neutral position, and always keep the conversation light and positive.

It is important to practice proper etiquette when utilizing all forms of communication. Doing so shows respect to your clients, customers, and coworkers.