So I’m here to announce that I’m on my own, staring at the great unknown and very excited about what lies ahead. There are a few things I’ve done that are starting to come together in ways nobody could predict just a few years ago. I’m helping companies tap into the power of engaging employees to deliver superior customer experiences, using tools like social media along the way.
My career started in fund raising consulting. Not glamorous, big-time donor stuff – but working with organizations to get the most out of annual fund programs for education, healthcare, and the arts. You know, the kind of huge campaigns that get anywhere from $5 – $500 from most donors. I say this because it’s a great way to learn about people. To get the $5 contribution from an alumnus who graduated more than 30 years ago you gotta understand what the connection might be. Then you have to help them connect again. What happens when you screw up the fund raising? People remember that, not the original powerful connection they had as students.
What a way to learn about experience for customers. It was exciting, challenging and fun work. I moved on to marketing, communications and eventually calling it what it was: customer experience (a fledgling category in 2000).
I’ve been studying customer behavior both online and off since 1998. And for more than 11 years I led a very smart team on projects ranging from creating new online user experiences from scratch to transforming intensely frustrating organizational experiences into direct, empathetic customer-centered experiences. Our clients included the massive, global insurance companies you’ve heard of and the community banks, non-profits, and educational institutions you probably haven’t.
And then social media happened.
Of course it didn’t just happen. It’s not like I had a wonderful “a ha” moment and declared I would become involved in ways I never anticipated. It just…happened.
I started joining and following and learning from those who were already there. I started studying it through the lens of customer experience. And after a while it became apparent that I was “doing” it. I was helping folks achieve more through it; I was participating in lots of ways; and I was forever learning. But the lens is what’s different – all that fund raising, marketing, communications and customer experience background filters what I see. So I can learn from the best at what they do and apply it to what I do as I experiment with new ways to engage employees and customers for a better experience for all. Of course it’s not just social media. Listening to your customers, engaging your employees, and connecting with the world at large on behalf of your brand are still just as important as before. So I feel like the picture represents how I’m feeling right now; this is so fun it feels like play. But there is no safety net. Reason #5,460 to treat my clients very, very well.
I hope you’ll join me.