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Talk with startup founders at Groundwork Labs

By Phil Verghis on January 22, 2013

Spent a lovely afternoon with a wide range of very interesting startup founders who were part of the Groundwork Labs, a ‘no strings attached’ community-supported technology incubator in Durham, NC. I spoke on scaling a business and how to focus on the customer from the start, based on the explosive growth at Akamai in my early days, and my experiences since then.

Pricing the Priceless — an interesting read for all of us struggling with measures, metrics and madness.

By Phil Verghis on July 9, 2012

As we struggle with the move from ‘easy’ measures and metrics to outcome-based measures, it is very interesting to see how smart people are trying to define and articulate similarly difficult-to-measure measures on a macro level.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the traditional proxy for how well off a country is. However, it is a measure of economic production or income (not wealth), and it doesn’t help with figuring out how sustainable the growth is.

A new study from a United Nations team lead by Sir Partha Dasgupta of Cambridge University has proposed a new measure — the Inclusive Wealth Index. It puts a monetary value on three areas: Physical Capital (manufactured assets), Human Capital (education and skills) and Natural Capital (land, fossil fuels etc.).

As the Economist notes: By putting a dollar value on everything from bauxite to brainpower, the UN’s exercise makes all three kinds of capital comparable and commensurable. It also implies that they are substitutable. A country can lose $100 billion-worth of pastureland, gain $100 billion-worth of skills and be no worse off than before. The framework turns economic policymaking into an “asset-management problem”, says Sir Partha.

Full report:

http://bit.ly/MV7bVC

Highly readable Economist article – where does *your* country stack up in this new way of measuring?

http://www.economist.com/node/21557732

Sir Partha also states the measures are illustrative, not definitive, and that much more work needs to be done to properly refine and develop these concepts. Sound familiar?

Does anyone have access to researchers doing work in this field? It would be great to invite them to join in the discussion and discovery process.

First ever ‘Innovation in Consulting’ award from TSIA

By Phil Verghis on November 5, 2011

An independent panel of judges awarded us the first ever ‘Innovation in Consulting’ award at the Fall 2011 TSIA conference. Thanks to our customers, our community and to Adam and Jen for their hard work.

From the listing:

The Verghis Group is a management consulting firm focused on senior service and support leaders. The firm’s founder, Phil Verghis, is an internationally recognized expert who has helped dozens of support and services executives devise winning strategies. He’s been a top-level support executive himself, he’s written a book on customer-centric management, and he has hands-on experience with implementing new metrics, new systems, new business models, and new market development initiatives.

The application from the Verghis Group detailed multiple client projects and business challenges, with four specific areas of innovation cited from client projects.

Innovation One: Clear alignment from vision to the individual;
Innovation Two: Let the “doers” do;
Innovation Three: Focus.
Innovation Four: New way of managing, ‘Guiding, not Grading’.

Fascinating talk on ‘economics of open source support’ June 2nd

By Phil Verghis on May 24, 2010

http://bit.ly/cg9iQW — I’ll be there…

Guiding, not Grading — aka Measures, Metrics and Madness

By Phil Verghis on May 8, 2010

Over the last year or two, I’ve been trying to replicate the magic of start-ups – where everyone is laser-focused on the mission of the organization. Everyone knows what needs to be done and just does it.

Unfortunately, this ‘honeymoon’ phase quickly dissipates during the transition to a middle-aged company and beyond.

I think I’ve moved one step closer to finding a solution, as this month’s article discusses. Two of my retainer-based clients are one year into the ‘alignment and measurement’ process, and have reported (mostly) amazing success.

One of the biggest unanticipated side effects has been the boost in employee morale, which has a multiplier effect on productivity, customer loyalty and so much more.

Get the article in a pdf format — http://bit.ly/cpFoMv or sign up for the next newsletter from my home page – www.verghisgroup.com

Customer Service: Reducing churn and bringing in money

By Phil Verghis on April 1, 2010

A highly under-rated and under-used partnership is between marketing and customer support/customer service. I’m working with a large client now where (as part of a larger engagement) we explored and developed a partnership between marketing and customer service that has resulted in more loyal customers that at the same time yields tens of thousands of dollars of incremental revenue a quarter.

Yes, it can be done without turning customer service and support into sales people. They always have to be the customer’s advocate. However, understanding the customer lifecycle, personas and churn risk points and making that part of the support DNA helps. Dramatically.

Embedded in this interesting article from the Economist is something similar that Cablecom (a Swiss cable tv/internet/phone provider) did.

“Like many telecoms providers, Cablecom has grappled with churn.  Using advanced data analytics, Cablecom discovered that although customer defections peaked in the 13th month, the decision to leave was typically around the 9th month (as indicated by things like the number of calls to customer support services).  To reduce defections, Cablecom offered at-risk customers special deals 7 months into their subscription. 

The results were impressive:  customer defections fell from 20% of subscribers a year to under 5%, enabling the firm to save significant marketing acquisition costs while boosting customer satisfaction.”

‘Savvy Support’ model (aka no more tiers) cited in new book

By Phil Verghis on January 30, 2010

Andres Sanchez has published a book titled Technical Support EssentialsAdvice you can use to succeed in Technical Support and has cited the Savvy Support model a few times as one of the new models for support.

Read all about it, and much more of what Andres has to say in his book.

How do you mine sentiment on the web?

By Phil Verghis on August 24, 2009

Ah the simpler days of the Internet. Way back in 2002, during my Akamai days, we had team members manually mining public forums for customer comments during live events to ensure that we could pin point and resolve issues close to real time. Of course it would be impossible to scale staff enough to do that smartly today.

That’s why today’s New York Times article  (free registration required) on some of the tools available to mine blogs, Twitter and more caught my interest. Selected quotes from the article:

Scout Labs recently introduced a subscription service that allows customers to monitor blogs, news articles, online forums and social networking sites for trends in opinions about products, services or topics in the news.

Jodange offers a service geared toward online publishers that lets them incorporate opinion data drawn from over 450,000 sources, including mainstream news sources, blogs and Twitter.

Bo Pang, a researcher at Yahoo co-wrote “Opinion Mining and Sentiment Analysis,” one of the first academic books on sentiment analysis.

To get at the true intent of a statement, Ms. Pang developed software that looks at several different filters, including polarity (is the statement positive or negative?), intensity (what is the degree of emotion being expressed?) and subjectivity (how partial or impartial is the source?).

For example, a preponderance of adjectives often signals a high degree of subjectivity, while noun- and verb-heavy statements tend toward a more neutral point of view.

How are you tracking sentiments about your organization? Have you been able to strike a good balance between a rapid response and appropriate response (i.e. not over-reacting) ?

Programs and Speakers announced for 2009 Voice of the Customer Conference

By Phil Verghis on June 24, 2009

Boston, MA — Drawing on an impressive lineup of speakers, the 2009 “Voice of the Customer Conference” will focus on leading-edge issues in building end-user communities, improving satisfaction metrics, and creating customer-centric organizations. The conference, produced by the First Wednesday Roundtable, will take place in Bolton, Mass. on Nov. 3 with a day of optional workshops on Nov. 4.

Registration for the Nov. 3 conference is $385 per person. Additional information about the program and post-conference workshops can be found on the First Wednesday Web site:
http://www.first-wednesday.com/support_conference.html

Talk for client in Bangalore and Hyderabad

By Phil Verghis on May 16, 2009

In May 2009, I flew to Bangalore and Hyderabad, India to do four sessions (four hours each!) for a client. This covered a number of topics that were custom done for them based on requirements from the client (senior executive in support in a global company) and their HR team.

The talks went pretty well and I did them with no notes. About 60% of the content was common, the rest of it varied based on the audience and the feedback during the interactive homework sessions.


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