Relationships: Customers, Employees, and Leaders

March 13th, 2013

“The people you work with are people you were just thrown together with. I mean, you don’t know them, it wasn’t your choice. And yet you spend more time with them than you do your friends or your family. But probably all you have in common is the fact that you walk around on the same bit of carpet for eight hours a day.” – Tim Canterbury, played by Martin Freeman, The Office UK Christmas Special

This week on Business Matters we examine relationships in the world of business; relationships between employees and relationships between companies and customers. Whether they play out online through comments, over the phone in customer service, or face to face in a cubicle, the ways people interact with each other affects how productive and successful a company can be. Our first guest, Mark Fidelman, discusses how to become a thought leader in today’s transparent economy. By creating a dialogue with followers, whether personally or professionally, leaders become more adaptive to business demands. Our second guest this week, Dr. Natalie, challenges companies to look at what their customers are saying about them. Although it may be painful, it is one of the most beneficial and eye-opening practices a company can do. Our final guest this week is Ben Waber, the co-founder and CEO of Sociometric Solutions, who speaks to us about modern tactics used to analyze group dynamics. Just as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test evaluates which personalities work best together, current sociometrics examine support systems and their impact on the work environment.  By understanding the value of relationships between employees, and between companies and consumers, businesses can learn how to increase profits, productivity, and prosperity.

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Mark Fidelman: “No longer can you be playing from the old playbook, hoarding information, hoping the mistakes you made can be covered up.”

markfidelmanDiverse business experiences and a witty personality have contributed to Mark’s success as CEO of Evolve! and Forbes contributor. Mark believes that one of the most effective ways of becoming valuable to companies is through thought leadership. When you gain followers on social media, in the right quantity and quality to your goal, you have a built in feedback system where you can brainstorm with an almost immediate response. By understanding the impact and consequences of a company’s decision one can better modify the message in the future. To learn more about Mark’s insights into workplace interactions, check out Mark’s Forbes column or his book “Socialized!” which explains how to create highly adaptive and successful businesses through new strategies, technologies, and communities. Don’t forget to follow Mark on Twitter @markfidelman.

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Dr. Natalie Petouhoff: “Conversation is no longer hidden, it’s no longer under wraps, it’s now on the public, and I liken these conversations on the web to cave paintings. If you think about cave paintings, most of them last for millions of years, so what’s being said about your company is permanently inked into the psyche and into the site where people are talking about it.”

drnatalieDr. Natalie Petouhoff knows people. She is a leading expert on enhancing customer service in today’s online-based economy. Based on her research of Facebook, Twitter, and more, Dr. Natalie developed an ROI model for customer service that helps brands better engage in consumer interaction through the use of social media. According to Dr. Natalie, the first and most important step is to understand what customers and employees are saying about your company. By understanding the conversation being had, companies can better adjust their methods to increase profits and productivity. For more information about how to maximize positive customer conversations, check out Dr. Natalie’s most recent book, “Like My Stuff: How to Get 750 Million Members to Buy Your Products on Facebook.”  Follow her on Twitter @drnatalie and learn more about Dr. Natalie here.

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Ben Waber: “It turns out that if you want to understand how happy somebody is, how productive they are, particularly at work, you really need to understand who you’re actually talking to.”

benwaberOur first guest is Ben Waber, the co-founder and CEO of Sociometric Solutions. Ben’s company examines sociometrics by digitally tracing relationships within the workplace. Through the use of Bluetooth on cellphones, RFID readers, and voice analysis, Sociometric Solutions has provided insights into how to organize people more effectively. In doing so, companies can increase productivity simply by changing the way employees interact with each other. For instance, in our interview, Ben details how adding break time for Bank of America call center personnel increased their productivity by a whopping 30%. Ben’s book, People Analytics, which discusses “how social sensing technology will transform business,” releases this May. Pre-order your copy today and follow Ben on Twitter for more updates: @bwaber.

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