Each day I am exposed to a lot of different ideas. Some good, some bad and some truly ugly. Here’s a round up.
The Good: New Ways to Think About Customer Success
Cloud distributor Pax8 named a new vice president of service operations on Monday in John Walters. Pax8 also announced that it a new position within its marketing organization dedicated to partner recruitment. The company says the new role will enable it to better focus on helping you transact, prospect and increase monthly recurring revenue.
But that’s not the idea that grabbed my attention.
Instead, I’m writing about what Ryan Walsh, senior vice president of partner solutions at Pax8, has been saying of late. His big idea: help your customers help their customers. Pax8, which sells cloud solutions from BAE Systems, BitTitan, CloudJumper, IBM, Infrascale, Microsoft and others, combines services into “holistic” solutions so partners can focus on downstream business results.
“It’s not just selling uptime or security to a customer, but helping that customer provide better support, experiences and outcomes to its customers,” says Walsh. “It’s a mindset change, in other words.”
What else? How about an idea that took hold at CompTIA’s Annual Membership Meeting last week in Chicago. Don’t just sell cloud technology, attendees were told, but integrate it into your business.
At a discussion of cloud computing, several companies conceded they merely resold services. But they were admonished to go one step further—sort of what Walsh advises.
“You don’t just sell a hosted PBX, you manage it,” partners were advised. “You charge for moves, adds and changes.”
Carolyn April, senior director of industry analysis, added her spin: “I liken the cloud to the Internet. We don’t ‘sell’ the Internet. We sell solutions and services that rely on its infrastructure. Similarly, we need to get out of the mindset of ‘selling cloud’ like it’s a thing or a product, and instead sell solutions that rely on the cloud, and then manage those like any other service offered.”
Finally, I saw a really cool idea from our friend Jim Lippie, chief advisor at Clarity Channel Advisors. He and his team have developed a nifty tool to help you determine your security awareness. It only takes a minute to answer a dozen simple questions to see how you stack up against your peers. Give it a shot; it’s well worth your time.
The Bad: How Not to Treat People
Now for the bad: Our friend and colleague Edward Gately from Channel Partners has a terrific story on Toshiba’s abrupt decision to shut down it’s business phone division.
Toshiba “deemed it necessary to wind down our Telecommunication Systems Division (TSD) business starting immediately," said Brian Metherell, vice president and general manager of Toshiba America Information Systems’ (TAIS) Telecommunication Systems Division (TSD), in an email. Dealers, some of whom had represented Toshiba for years, were “blindsided,” Gately writes.
We’ve all endured tough spots and had to make tough decisions. But blindsiding people? That lacks vision, if you pardon the pun.
So does moving the goalposts, which is what IBM has done.
“Less than a year into her tenure as IBM's Chief Marketing Officer, Michelle Peluso has announced that her thousands of marketing team members must now work out of one of six different locations—Atlanta, Raleigh, Austin, Boston, San Francisco, and New York,” writes author Bruce Kasanoff.
He goes on to quote Peluso, who appeared in an internal company video:
I've spent a lot of time thinking about this, and a lot of time working with teams from real-estate, finance, HR, operations, the geo leaders, the marketing leaders – and starting with the US, it's really time for us to start bringing our teams together, more shoulder to shoulder.
There is only one recipe I know for success, particularly when we are in as much of a battle with Microsoft and the West Coast companies as we are, and that is by bringing great people with the right skills, give them the right tools, give them a mission, make sure they can analyze their results, put them in really creative inspiring locations and set them free.
The last time I looked “West Coast” companies were trying to make it as easy as possible for workers to get their jobs done from anywhere—save for Yahoo, whose CEO Marissa Mayer forced home-office workers to commute to an office.
We all know how that turned out.
The Ugly: Defending Company Policies That Run Counter to Common Sense
Finally, let’s talk about leggings—seriously.
You no doubt heard about the ridicule and scorn United Airlines received for its decision to force young girls to cover their leggings with dresses and other outfits. When an outraged flyer began Tweeting about it, United doubled down on its decision by referring to its handbook.
“In our Contract of Carriage, Rule 21, we do have the right to refuse transport for passengers who are barefoot or not properly clothed,” United explained. Witness Shannon Watts fired back on Twitter: “A 10-year-old girl in gray leggings. She looked normal and appropriate.”
Here’s what makes the United situation so awful: United has tripped over its “policies” before.
A few years ago in Houston, ramp agents left a dog outside for an hour while they loaded cargo onto a plane. When United passenger Barbara Gattetly spotted the animal in a crate on the tarmac, she snapped a photo with her smart phone and Tweeted: “Evil United Airlines leaves dog on rainy cold runway for more than a half hour despite alerts to staff :-((((( boo.”
Unfortunately for United “her tweet was picked up by scores of followers who retweeted it to their followers afterwards,” I wrote in “The Digital Revolution.” “United responded with a Tweet of its own that tried to put the matter to rest. But in the Tweet the company suggested that concerned citizens contact a third-party company that handles animal transport on behalf of the airline. Then things went viral. Shortly thereafter, television pundit Keith Olbermann saw the tweet and retweeted the following to his followers—all 540,000 of them: ‘Now, how an airline - @United - should NOT treat dogs or the bipeds who love them.’ And then a few hours later, Australian pop singer Sia, who is followed by 820,000 followers, chimed in with this: ‘I will never fly @United again. Thanks @theregoesbabs for exposing their shitty treatment of our beloved pets.’
The takeaway: when your well-intended customer policy produces disastrous results, optimize to produce another outcome.
Doing anything else is just a bad idea.