A few months ago I was in my neighbourhood bookstore and came across Amanda Palmer’s “The Art of Asking”. I have been told by many that I need remedial lessons when it comes to asking for help, so I grabbed it. I read it, dog-earing the pages as I went. Then I watched her TED Talk.
Punk Cabaret may not be your thing, but I am sure when you learn that Amanda Palmer was the first person to break US$1,000,000 in crowdfunding on Kickstarter (on a goal of 100K) – making it the most lucrative music project in the site’s history – you’ll agree, musical tastes aside, there is likely something any business can learn from her.
People asked her “How did you make them give?” She has rather famously replied, “I didn’t make them, I asked them.”
In fact, she emphasizes that she thinks the music business has long been asking the wrong question. Instead of asking “How do we make people pay for music” we should be asking “How do we let people pay for music?”
While I have dog-eared many pages of the book, I keep going back to that one idea – changing the question from one of “making” people do things to “letting” people do things. Asking for help.
“Making” takes oversight, constant management, rules, consequences, etc.
“Letting” implies setting up the right conditions for things to flourish more organically. Enabling the growth of new directions and ideas.
When you focus on finding ways to let people support your CX vision, when you ask for help, you create connection and engagement. You tap into new ideas and ways of thinking. You build a way of working; a culture, not a program.
Here a couple of ways we have leveraged the idea of asking for help to improve customer experience at TELUS.
Ask your customers to help create improvement plans
A while back, we saw that our CX improvement plans for our some of our largest business customers weren’t having the impact we expected, and we knew we were missing something but didn’t know what.
We decided to reach out to our customers directly and ask for help. We asked if they would join us for a working session to build the improvement plans together, side by side.
We learned more that day – and probably enjoyed the improvement planning process more – than ever before. Customers were eagerly planning the next session before the first one was even wrapped up!
The plans we built together were more streamlined and simpler than the previous ones, and our customers told us that they were also of higher value.
When we shared what we had done with our larger customer base, customers asked to be included in similar sessions. They offered to help before we even had a new ask.
Oh, and our results improved and participation rates in customer feedback programs doubled.
Ask Your Team to Help Bring Your Promises to Life
In late 2011, TELUS made a public declaration to customers letting them know about our renewed focus on putting them first. With this gesture, we made a promise to focus on the things that are most important to them.
While making the declaration was one thing, getting it done was another.
We needed to embed this into our culture so team members could really make a connection between their roles and behaviours and know how to bring the declaration to life.
We decided that the best approach would be to engage team members directly, to ask for their help. We asked for their ideas of how to create customer commitments to support the declaration – commitments that would guide and shape our customer-centric culture for years to come.
Sure, we could have just had a bunch of executives create a list of commitments for everyone to follow but we took a grassroots approach because we believe nurturing culture is a team sport.
Little did we know that we were on the path to realizing the largest improvements in customer and employee experience results we had ever seen.
We wanted to make it easy for everyone to help, so we gave many options for idea sharing:
- Interactive online activity tool
- Our internal social chat platform
- Focus groups
And at every stage we told people to share as much and as many ideas as they wanted – no limit!
Team Members shared thousands of ideas, which eventually became our four Customer Commitments. Now we needed to bring them to life. So we asked for help again. We asked our Team Members to share what the commitments mean to them, and how they personalize them in their day-to-day.
Again, we wanted to make it easy to help, to let people share their stories. We invited and shared stories at cross-country road-shows, through newsletters, and my favourite – video kiosks. We had video kiosks set up around the country for Team Members to easily and quickly share their commitments stories whenever it suited them. A collage of perspectives was shared with all team members across the country.
In 2011, we needed to up our game. We needed to evolve our CX strategy, and so we asked all 40,000 or so Team Members for their help.
This was the first time we had engaged our entire team to work together this closely for our customers. Our employee engagement increased dramatically. Our customer feedback results improved, also dramatically. In fact, both represented the largest improvements we had ever seen.
When you focus on finding ways to let people support your CX vision, when you ask for help, you create connection, engagement. You tap into new ideas and ways of thinking. You build a way of working, a culture, not a program.
Other resources that might… help you:
- Harvard Business Review – 5 Ways to Get Better at Asking for Help
- Amanda Palmer’s TED Talk – The Art of Asking
- Kickstarter: Discover what is possible when a community creates together.
I love it, Krista. This type of grass roots approach has multiple benefits . . . and all you have to do is ask!
Thanks Howard! Appreciate your comment. It’s amazing what you can achieve when you ask for some help. I am going to keep working on this one myself!