As an HR professional, do any of these statements sound familiar?
“I know compliance with laws like FMLA is important, but I’m not 100% certain my team is aware of all the regulations.”
“We have so many different systems and processes that sometimes I’m overwhelmed. I’m concerned my team is, too—and that things may be slipping through the cracks.”
“We have a great HR team but we’re stretched thin when it comes to benefits and payroll work—how can we improve?”
If so, you’re not alone. In fact, many small to midsize business owners find themselves asking these questions, and others. Fortunately, a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) can help.
What is a PEO?
A Professional Employer Organization (PEO) allows its clients to outsource many of their human resource functions, share employment liability, and, oftentimes, gain economies of scale to bring an improved benefits package to their employees.
A PEO helps your business manage complex employee-related matters. PEO services include administration of the following:

Employer compliance
HR practices
Employee benefits
Payroll & payroll tax compliance
Risk management and workers’ compensation claims

It contracts with your business to perform these processes, assume associated responsibilities, and provide ready expertise in human resources management.
4 Crucial Things You Can Do With A PEO (That You Can’t Do Alone)
1. Benefits That Bring In The Best Talent
To attract and retain top talent, small businesses must be able to offer competitive benefits. But many miss out on great employees because, alone, they can’t afford the same benefits the competition offers. When you partner with a PEO, you gain access to benefits you may not otherwise be able to afford.
2. Employer Compliance Expertise
Being an employer gets more complex by the day. Federal requirements, state and city legislation, and other mandates require compliance, but those requirements aren’t always communicated effectively (or correctly). This sets employers up to unintentionally make mistakes.
A good example of this is providing paid sick leave to employees. Laws vary in every state, and multi-state employers are challenged with keeping up and complying with laws in every state they operate in—but they may not even have the systems that help them to comply.
PEOs stay informed about all legislation that impacts employers. They also help their clients create necessary policies and practices when required.
3. Streamlined Technology
PEOs offer their clients a comprehensive technology solution that handles electronic onboarding, payroll processing, and data exchange with vendors (like insurance companies). Having all their human resource information in one system with appropriate levels of manager access and employee self-service features is something most small to midsize businesses can’t do on their own.
Systems like this bring a lot of business efficiencies. Without this technology, there is a lot of costly manual intervention involved, which can cause delays and errors. Employees of PEO clients love that this technology puts information at their fingertips that they would otherwise have to call their HR rep or a vendor to access.
4. A Wealth Of HR Experience & Knowledge
PEOs offer their clients a whole team of experts whose knowledge is leveraged to serve their clients’ needs. PEOs help with everything HR-related, including:

Managing employee performance
Training managers on effective interviewing
Helping with the due diligence of acquiring other businesses
Managing all employee benefit programs
Insurance renewals and open enrollment
Dealing with workplace accidents
Handling restructuring and/or downsizing
And more!

Small businesses simply can’t find all this crucial knowledge in just one person. Even if you have a qualified, competent HR professional on staff, it’s unlikely they would have ALL this expertise and knowledge of best practices.
PEO teams have a variety of expertise in all areas, so clients like you can tap into the professional experience in different industries and get the right counsel and advice.
Want to learn more about PEOs?
Staffed by knowledgeable, experienced individuals, a PEO may be the most beneficial way to get HR support for your company. Find out more about whether or not a PEO is the right option for you in the free white paper, Everything You Need To Know About PEOs.

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5 Ways to Determine Culture Fit

Wednesday, 12 June 2019 by

When searching for a new member to join your team, determining cultural fit is one of the most important aspects of hiring, no matter the role level. In addition to considering candidates based on their experience and qualifications, finding an applicant who expresses and exhibits your company’s characteristics, values, and culture is essential to the success of any company.
Finding employees who fit among your company’s culture can be a daunting task. Every company’s culture is different and so is every employee who makes up your organization. Not only do you want to hire candidates who can perform their role successfully, but you also want someone whose behavior and beliefs coincide with your company culture as well.
Whether you’re considering hiring for cultural fit or have been doing it for a while, here are five ways to determine if your candidates are the right fit for your team.
1. Finding the Right “Fit”
Before we get into it, let’s define what “cultural fit” is. Cultural fit is an individual’s attitudes, values, and beliefs being in line with the core values and culture of an organization.
There is no denying assessing an individual’s cultural fit is a crucial element before hiring someone on board. Today, hiring for cultural fit is a rapid trend popular among many HR professionals today. However, this doesn’t mean hiring managers should hire someone who’s like them or the rest of the team in every way. It means discovering candidates who possess a different mindset and mentality which allows your company to open itself up to a range of diverse individuals who can elevate the greater good of your business.
2. Identify Your Company Culture
Before you can start hiring for cultural fit, it’s vital you have created the right environment for your employees, it should be made up of the positive values, attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs of your company. After all, your culture represents every life experience each employee has brought to your organization. According to a study, building an employer brand and company culture helps companies hire the right people (55%), retain a greater number of qualified candidates (49%), increase employee referrals (41%), and have more diverse candidates (32%). There’s no right way to identify your company culture. You can obtain a picture of your current culture in several ways:

Reference back to your company’s values. Your values are the aspirations of your company. These elements directly impact how your company operates and how your employees function throughout the workplace. If you aren’t sure where to look, start by exploring your organization’s mission and vision statements, objectives, goals, business practices, and standards. But don’t stop there. Continue to look at the enacted values your employees’ show. Do this by observing the actions of your employees, the standards the company holds itself to, and the goals the company is working towards to determine if they’re aligned with the company’s overall values.
Conduct a survey. Distribute culture surveys among your employees to help you assess the current culture climate while recognizing what you need to do more of, less of, stop, or start.
Observe the culture in action. Taking time to evaluate your culture right in the midst of it can provide you more insight into your employees and organization. Look at how your employees interact throughout the workplace from an outside perspective. Ask yourself:
How does everyone interact with each other?
Are there conflicts? If so, how are they resolved?
How do employees of different levels interact?
Evaluate observable artifacts. Take a walk around your company and observe your wall decor, common areas, and furniture arrangements. Is it interactive or sterile? Examining how your employees dress is also a key indicator of your culture. Is the dress code more relaxed or business professional. Remember, anything associated with your organization can help identify your company culture.

3. Utilize Psychometric Assessments
Assessing cultural fit doesn’t have to be a complex process. Incorporating assessments such as psychometric assessments aid hiring teams and HR managers in measuring a candidate’s culture fit before they set foot in the workplace.
But, how? By incorporating assessments into your recruitment process with various culture-related elements.
Psychometric assessments provide a fair advantage for candidates because of their ability to provide objective metrics about each candidates’ traits, behaviors, and skills, instead of relying on personal judgments which are susceptible to bias. The knowledge employers can gain from assessments helps provide transparency for potential applicants. You’ll save time, money, and energy by hiring the right people so the focus can be on productivity.
4. Ask the Right Questions
The interview process is an excellent time for employers to ask candidates questions which relate to their personality. Mixing in questions during the interview process can give HR managers a glimpse into whether or not the candidate will fit. Try and ask candidates specific questions about themselves:

What is your most positive personality trait, and why?
What’s your worst personality trait, and why?
What values are most important to you as a person?
If given any role, what job would appeal to you the most?

Then move into culture-specific questions such as:

Describe your ideal work environment.
What is your preferred work style?
How would past co-workers describe your work style?
What characteristics make you right for the role?
Describe a work environment you’d be unhappy in.
What management style motivates you to do your best work?

Rather than asking candidates to repeat your values or ask them what their favorite ice cream flavor is, it’s essential to dig deeper and ask questions to help HR managers understand their motivations and drive to examine how each applicant will interact with existing employees and the company culture.
5. Let Applicants Take Charge
Now that you’ve had the chance as the employer to ask candidates questions based on their personality switch it up and have candidates ask you questions. This will allow hiring teams and HR managers to see how they communicate without a guided prompt. Not only is this a great opportunity to stray away from the typical interview process, but a chance to spotlight each applicant’s personality.
Your company culture plays a critical component through all aspects of your organization from providing your employees’ direction to being the glue binding everything together. Using these strategies to hire someone for culture fit ensures you’re creating happier, productive, cohesive, and diverse teams. Employees who embrace your company’s culture and values are great brand ambassadors and boost morale and teamwork in the workplace.
This article was originally published here.

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First team
Pos.;;Player, school;;Cl.;;Avg.;;HR;;RBI
C;;Brady Evans, Wright City;;Sr.;;.421;;5;;52
1B;;Blake Robertson, Edmond Santa Fe;;Sr.;;.451;;6;;37
2B;;Carter LaValley, Carl Albert;;Sr.;;.491;;11;;49
3B;;Carson Atwood, Silo;;Jr.;;.429;;6;;40
SS;;Braylen Wimmer, Yukon;;Sr.;;.414;;6;;45
OF;;Michelle Artzberger, Lawton MacArthur;;Sr.;;.460;;8;;40
OF;;Jace Bohrofen, Westmoore;;Jr.;;.479;;12;;66
OF;;Bryce Madron, Blanchard;;Jr.;;.558;;12;;57
DH;;Gus Collins, Pryor;;Sr.;;.422;;9;;42
Pos.;;Player, school;;Cl.;;Rec.;;ERA;;IP;;K
RHP;;Jace Beck, Blanchard;;Sr.;;13-0;;0.99;;70.2;;134
RHP;;Kale Davis, Westmoore;;Sr.;;9-1;;0.36;;58;;94
Player of the Year: Blake Robertson, Edmond Santa Fe
Coach of the Year: Ryan Phillips, Edmond Santa Fe
Second team
Pos.;;Player, school;;Cl.;;Avg.;;HR;;RBI
C;;Colby Entwistle, Edmond North;;Jr.;;.478;;6;;46
IF;;Conner Bastarache, Wright City;;Sr.;;.464;;2;;44
IF;;Jake Bennett, Bixby;;Sr.;;.354;;10;;34
IF;;Seth Gray, Drummond;;Sr.;;.519;;6;;64
IF;;Hayden Minton, Collinsville;;Sr.;;.505;;6;;56
OF;;Cole Fletcher, Granite;;Sr.;;.413;;10;;55
OF;;Logan Glass, Mustang;;Sr.;;.328;;8;;34
OF;;Trevor Martin, Asher;;Jr.;;.444;;5;;49
DH;;Payton Miller, Blanchard;;Sr.;;.408;;14;;57
Pos.;;Player, school;;Cl.;;Rec.;;ERA;;IP;;K
RHP;;Brenton Beck, Atoka;;Sr.;;11-1;;1.74;;67.3;;94
LHP;;Derek Bridges, Duncan;;Sr.;;9-1;;1.30;;57;;93
RHP;;Trent Harrison, Pryor;;Sr.;;11-1;;0.66;;63.2;;54
RHP;;Bryce Osmond, Jenks;;Sr.;;7-1;;1.64;;51;;89
Honorable mention
Altus: Ryan Sanchez, Sr.; Alva: Dalton Rose, Sr.; Amber-Pocasset: Cache Anglin, Sr.; Travis Clift, Sr.; Apache: Landon McCracken, Sr., Duncan McCray, Jr.; Asher: Austin Custar, Sr.Read more on

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By Jacob Unruh junruh@oklahoman.comFirst team
Pos.;;Player, school;;Cl.;;Avg.;;HR;;RBI
C;;Payton Miller, Blanchard;;Sr.;;.408;;14;;57
1B;;Colby Reed, Blanchard;;Sr.;;.487;;3;;43
2B;;Jack Kiker, Blanchard;;Sr.;;.436;;8;;37
3B;;Ian Daugherty, Kingfisher;;So.;;.411;;1;;40
SS;;Tanner Holliman, Oklahoma Christian School;;Sr.;;.464;;6;;29
OF;;S’Mauri Abram, Oklahoma Christian Academy;;Jr.;;.500;;7;;31
OF;;Zach Goodwin, Kingfisher;;Sr.;;.407;;4;;26
OF;;Bryce Madron, Blanchard;;Jr.;;.558;;12;;57
DH;;Gage Ninness, Newcastle;;Sr.;;.495;;3;;51
Pos.;;Player, school;;Cl.;;Rec.;;ERA;;IP;;K
RHP;;Jace Beck, Blanchard;;Sr.;;13-0;;0.99;;70.2;;134
RHP;;Tyler Delong, Harrah;;Sr.;;9-1;;2.61;;59;;93
Player of the Year: Jace Beck, Blanchard
Coach of the Year: Josh Raney, Blanchard
Second team
Pos.;;Player, school;;Cl.;;Avg.;;HR;;RBI
C;;Andrew Hickman, Southwest Covenant;;Jr.;;.418;;5;;40
IF;;Callen Golloway, Blanchard;;Sr.;;.412;;5;;40
IF;;Carson Hunt, Dale;;So.;;.337;;6;;35
IF;;Shea Morrison, Harrah;;Jr.;;.415;;4;;36
IF;;Jayden Shafer, Tecumseh;;Sr.;;.442;;0;;41
OF;;Maddox Coulson, Wellston;;Sr.;;.402;;6;;42
OF;;Damon Foster, Harrah;;Sr.;;.344;;9;;53
OF;;Cole McMurphy, Crossings Christian;;Sr.;;.482;;3;;42
DH;;Terrell Dodson, Bethel;;.

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The past few posts have been a gentle kick in the ass for my marketing colleagues. For too long we’ve been ignoring our friends in HR, and it’s time we accepted the proven connection between talent and revenue and got on with the job of improving both.
We’ve looked at how some support for internal communications and candidate experience can benefit everyone. We have explored the deplorable state of most careers pages, and why we need to map employee journeys and generally take the whole employer branding thing a lot more seriously.
A few of you have pointed out that marketing is not without its considerable constraints. There is never enough budget, never enough staff, and never enough time to take on HR’s stuff as well as your own. I hear you. So let me offer these seven tiny(ish) things you can probably tackle without hurting yourself.
Tiny Thing #1: Fix the Job Descriptions
This is a copywriting task, nothing more. Most job or position descriptions are horrendous and do little to build the brand or sell the idea of your organization as a nice place to work or do business (remember, applicants are also customers).
If you don’t have a writer on the team, you for sure have a few good freelancers kicking around. Why not hire them to rewrite the boiler plate and tidy up the job description top and bottom copy? This is maybe a couple of hours of work, so we’re looking at the cost equivalent of a few dozen golf balls or the parking charges for your last team offsite. I’ll bet the HR folks will fund this one for you, if you can find them a writer. Be honest, if your sales collateral were as terrible as your candidate collateral, would make your numbers? Right.
Tiny Thing #2: Promote the Employer Brand on Social
Marketers are always stuck for evergreen stuff to push out on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. So why is LinkedIn the only place most organizations even bother to talk about themselves as a place to work?
You know that writer you just got to tidy up the job descriptions? How about asking them to throw together 50 little posts about what an awesome employer you are? That’s one a week; add a nice photo and you’ve got great, shareable content for the year. How hard was that?
Tiny Thing #3: Measure the Employer Brand
If you don’t currently measure your market brand, you can skip this. But if you, like most marketers, periodically test your awareness, sentiment, preference and so on in the market, then you already have a great instrument in place to measure employer brand metrics along the same lines.
Sure, there’ll be a bit more cost to design the questions and ask them; there might even be a different sample required, but you’ll get a much better set of data about your overall brand health, and your friends in HR will get insights they desperately need to compete for talent. Oh, by the way, I’m pretty sure HR can cover the tiny added cost. Will it kill you to call the research company and get an estimate? No, it won’t. Go do that.
Tiny Thing #4: Fix the Careers Page
Whether you like it or not, your terrible careers page is probably one of the most trafficked on your site. You can ignore the fact that it’s off brand, looks terrible, has a lousy user experience and photos from the 1990s. Or you can get the folks who keep the rest of the site nice and shiny to spend a day or two tarting up that careers page.
It’s just not that hard to fix the copy, update the images and make it easy to use. We’re not talking a full-blown renovation here; just a bit of paint and rearranging the furniture to cover the carpet stains. If that all feels like a lot of hassle, let’s remember that sooner or later you will have to hire great marketers – is that dumpster fire of a page going to do the trick? I didn’t think so.
Tiny(ish) Thing #5: Create Candidate Communications:
This is a bit more involved, but still in marketing’s wheelhouse. You’re probably pretty good by now at shoving content at your prospects as they move along your sales funnel. A little infographic here, a lovely video there – it’s all about building that preference and credibility.
The same is true for nurturing candidates, and I’ll bet you can even repurpose a bit of that marketing content. Your friends in HR need just a bit of your time to make all their candidate touchpoints as branded and positive as can be. A bit of copy, a bit of strategy and some warmed-over marketing content and you’ve got a not-very-terrible experience for candidates. Hey, it’s progress.
Tiny (ish) Thing #6: Share your Programmatic Genius
What are you using? Hubspot? Marketo? Some fancy, sophisticated martech stack that seamlessly shovels that gorgeous touchpoint messaging at your sales funnel? Well guess what? You can show HR how to use that same platform to manage their applicant funnel. A couple of hours of instruction and the recruiting team will be programmatically communicating like a boss. Oh, did I mention, HR can probably pick up the tab for some of that software you’re licensing? Just saying.
Tiny (ish) Thing #7: Step Up to Support Organizational Change
Everybody wants awesome employee communications, and nobody wants to actually do it. I get that. For most of the year you can probably let your sucky, underfunded, half-baked internal communications struggle along.
But when the Change Fairy comes a-calling things get real. Usually they get real about a month after they really should have been underway, but that’s for another day. The thing here is that HR is often on-point to communicate change – mergers, downsizings, reorganizations, etc. If you hadn’t noticed, they don’t generally have that skillset just lying about. Truthfully, most marketing departments don’t have it either, but we’re better at improvising.
Next time the winds of change start blowing, go see your HR team and ask if you can help. They may just need a bit of copywriting for some announcements, or they may need you to connect them to some of the agencies and consultants in your roster for more advanced work. It doesn’t cost you to be nice, and you will be doing your job as the protector of your brand. Doesn’t that feel good?

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We find that sometimes, the issues that plague people in talent acquisition are really, really hard to solve. But there’s one problem that we brought on ourselves. In fact, technology is what created the issue in the first place, if you think about it. I’m talking about time to hire. Time to hire is a metric that concerns every recruiter (and jobseeker for that matter) yet it’s being stretched ever longer due to the sheer size of our technology stacks.
Time to hire hasn’t always been this long. In the early days of running a staffing firm, one could recruit and hire candidates in no time. Why? Because when someone asked me who I knew for a job, great recruiters (and networkers) could rattle off a few names easily. The hard part was getting them to accept the job, but even that was easier than today because 4 out of 5 of those names had a relationship behind them. Now, the average time to hire a software engineer is 21 days; 4 times longer for patent examiners at 88 days. That’s nearly 3 months! It’s an issue that I KNOW affects business leaders because one of them came to me about it.
Most heads of talent at large organizations are in the same boat. Because of the sheer volume of candidates, teams are no longer able to manage their recruitment load on their own.

They need help.
They need to prove their value.
They can’t manage all the data.

Recruiters had so much disparate data within their tools – and the platforms didn’t communicate with one another – the recruitment team didn’t have the ability to filter, sort and screen this data efficiently.
Many recruitment departments are drowning under the heavy burden of candidate information they can’t possibly sift through manually. From social profiles to employee data; salary ranges to competitive intelligence, it’s difficult to translate into something one can understand, MUCH LESS something you can use to recruit better or faster.

Just one-third of HR managers describe their proficiency with data as “good” or “excellent”.
71% of companies see people analytics as a high priority in their organization, with 31% rating it very important.
3 out of 5 employees in leadership roles say a failure to adopt big data could lead to obsolescence.

Some vendors have realized the need for an aggregator of recruitment proportions.

How can we solve the challenges with recruiting?
How do we solve the time to hire problem?
How do we make this huge pile of data easier to comb through?

Once we realized the need to tackle the abundance of data because data is worse than useless without the ability to analyze it. By analyzing the data and agreeing on what we need to measure (and when and how), we can reduce time to hire while at the same time, reducing recruitment marketing spend. It’s crucial to identify where we’re spending time and money that is essentially going to waste.

The interview process takes an average of 22.9 days. (Source)
It takes five to six weeks on average to get a job offer. (Source)
45% think hiring managers are in the best position to increase diversity. (Source)
Recruiters take an average of 6 seconds to scan a resume. (Source)
41% of U.S. employers plan to use text messages to schedule job interviews. (Source)
56% of recruiters said they can’t make good hires because of lengthy hiring procedures. (Source)

Recruitment, after all, is fundamentally based on human interaction. That’s why technology will only help resolve the busy work that keeps them from interacting with their candidate pool. The part of recruiting that really matters is selling the person on a new job or opportunity.
Instead, we find ourselves faced with frustrating piles of digital trash that slows progress instead of hastening it.
Big data is a means for better recruiting, through number knowledge and practical application. Understanding which job boards work best and at the best cost, which recruiters are the most efficient in a given medium, even how well the referral program operates and the like, is crucial to minimizing the time to hire from an extraordinarily lengthy process back to the quick (but complex) human interaction it should be. After all, who’s to say your recruitment messaging isn’t getting lost in the noise?

Only 23% of organizations (or companies) say they have a strategy for big data.
There are 294 billion emails sent every day and over 1 billion Google searches every day.
2.5 quintillion bytes of data are produced every single day.
Google stores 10 billion gigabytes of data every day.

That’s the goal, to move ever closer to the elusive, maybe not an entirely realistic goal of zero time to hire. Where the biggest issue is no longer finding the perfect candidate, but convincing them to move across the country or knowing just where she spends her time online so you can connect.
Time to hire may never be as short as we’d like, but as the economy continues to shift and the workforce continues to change, it’s worth analyzing our recruitment data (and there is a LOT of it) to see where we can BE better, and not just build out the same old processes we did years ago.
This blog was originally published here.

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Culture is defined by actions. It is a tangible presence customers can see and feel in the way you engage them, respond to them, and present the product. Creating the right culture within your enterprise is, therefore, a matter of giving employees the right customer success tools and establishing best practices for using them.
In today’s digitized, subscription-based environment, these best practices are based on finding out all you can about your customers and then using that data to create a customer-centric experience. This way, every customer interaction is informed by as much personal information as possible. Creating a customer-centric culture means encouraging customer success teams to shape their everyday workflow around delivering customer lifetime value.
Why a Customer-Centric Culture Matters
Zoom CEO, Eric Yuan, is so committed to creating a customer-centric culture that he spends up to 70% of his time personally engaging with the video conferencing vendor’s customers. Mr. Yuan says he prioritizes nurturing existing customers above searching for new ones and that this commitment is integral to Zoom’s success. In practical terms, Mr. Yuan has built a culture that values customer engagement above sales quotas and long-term customer growth above securing new business.
Such a dramatic shift in business priorities requires a change in company behavior that can seem daunting. To make it easier to understand how to go about creating a customer-centric culture, we’ve put together a list of strategies that will help your enterprise focus on its customers:

Share knowledge and responsibility across the enterprise
Use the right customer success metrics
Proactively engage customers
Prioritize lifetime value

Succeeding in a recurring revenue environment depends on ensuring your customer is continually satisfied, and these best practices will help you do just that.
Share Knowledge and Responsibility Across the Enterprise
In order to create a customer-centric culture, you need every team member to contribute to and take responsibility for customer satisfaction. That means giving everyone access to the customer success platform and ensuring they log all relevant customer data. This strategy encourages cross-functional engagement and lets the customer know that their experience is important to every member of the team.
The voice of the customer is heard in every piece of information you collect. From usage rates to escalations, from feature adoption to survey responses, the customer is always telling you about their pain points and expectations. All you have to do is monitor the flow of data and proactively work to keep the customer happy.
Use the Right Customer Success Metrics
A customer-centric culture means putting greater emphasis on long-term metrics and practical business ROI. The customer success metrics you should monitor include:

How engagement affects revenue
The customer’s use of the product
The customer’s product ROI

As a recurring revenue enterprise, your growth is tied to the growth of the customer. It’s important to measure your success against metrics that have a direct impact on how the customer uses the product.
Proactively Engage Customers
Don’t get trapped in a reactionary cycle of customer engagement that leaves you one step behind the customer’s expectations. Waiting until problems arise or generic milestones are achieved to take action means falling out of touch with the customer.
Instead, you should be tracking where your customers are having issues and identify where there is room for growth. You can map the customer journey to visualize the success cycle and improve the customer experience.
Similarly, you can use your experience with previous customers to anticipate potential bottlenecks and common obstacles. This allows you to offer solutions before the customer even realizes they have a problem.
Prioritize Lifetime Value
The customer-centric model requires you to think of customers in terms of lifetime value rather than short-term transactions. Customer expectations are higher than ever due to the rise of highly responsive companies such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon. As such, it’s critical that your enterprise provides customers with continued satisfaction and growth. Companies have to reshape themselves in the customer’s image in order to respond to and predict their needs.
Some ways you can more effectively engage customers in order to maximize lifetime value include:

Comprehensive, continual monitoring of customer behavior.
Rapid response to customer behavior or escalations.
Proactive communication about product updates.
Personalized customer engagement.
Optimized customer onboarding.

Don’t think of your customers as quarry to be won in a single sales event. Rather, think of it as a valuable relationship that needs constant, lifelong attention.
Create a Company-Wide Customer-Centric Culture
It’s important that your entire enterprise embraces a customer-centric approach. At its core, this means trying to change the dominant mindset within your organization to place the customer at the center of everything you do.
After all, your business’ success and your customer’s success are inextricably linked. In order to achieve your business objectives, you need to understand your customers, meet their needs, and keep them happy long-term. Team members need to view customers as unique individuals and deliver a personalized experience that will make customers feel valued.
Every person in your organization, from sales to HR, plays a role in creating and maintaining this customer-centric culture. Each department needs to acknowledge their role in putting the customer first, listening to their feedback, and responding to questions. Your enterprise cannot succeed unless your customers do, and it’s critical that every member of your company understands this reality.
Successfully Creating a Customer-Centric Culture
As Eric Yuan and his Zoom team proved, a customer-centric culture is the best way to achieve ongoing recurring revenue success. By prioritizing the customer experience over customer acquisition and by using a customer success platform to learn everything possible about the customer, you can establish the right conditions for ongoing growth.
A customer-centric culture is made up of practical actions team members undertake every day. If you employ the tactics described above, you can make your customers feel valued and important every day —which they most certainly are.

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PowerApps is a service provided by Microsoft for creating business apps. The developed apps are based on web technologies and run completely in the browser. These apps can also be published on Windows 10 devices, smartphones and tablets. In this blog post you’ll learn everything there is to know about PowerApps, its advantages and benefits.
What Is PowerApps Biggest advantage?
You don’t need programming experience to create an app with PowerApps. This sets it apart from other methods of mobile app development such as programming an iOS app, which requires profound knowledge of Objective-C or Swift programming.

Fig. 1: PowerApps can be used on various devices and created without programming experience. Source: Microsoft
What Can You Achieve with PowerApps?
You can use PowerApps in many areas in your organization. Most importantly this includes creating interfaces and forms for existing, internal company data. But entirely new development projects can also be created using PowerApps. Here you can draw on a broad array of components for the interface, including input fields for text, numbers, images and barcode scans, as well as buttons, diagrams or file previews.
These can be positioned anywhere you like or integrated within lists and gallery views and are placed and linked on the screens defined by you. This enables a direct connection between the components and your data.
Any employee can create and publish PowerApps. They’ll receive support in making the correct links with the data, as well as when publishing the app in the company.
One of the most familiar uses of PowerApps is in SharePoint forms. If, in the past, you’ve adjusted input and editing forms in SharePoint using InfoPath or Nintex Forms, you will now be pleased to get your hands on a worthy successor. Unlike with InfoPath, these modifications run immediately on mobile devices as well, among other things.
Types of PowerApps
At the moment you can create two types of apps that differ in terms of their underlying data. The most frequent applications are so-called “Canvas-Apps”. In them, you have a free choice of the necessary screens and controls, which you position on your interface (like painting a picture). You then have connections to services and gateways to add data to the controls.

Fig. 2: Canvas Apps are one type of PowerApp. Source: Microsoft
“Model Driven Apps” are another kind of PowerApp. In this case, the models determine the appearance of the application. Here, the term model means your defined representation of business processes and data. The data created in these applications can be placed in a data storage system created by Microsoft, known as the Common Data Services.

Fig. 3: Model Driven Apps are also possible. Source: Microsoft
In most cases PowerApps do not lead insular lives. Instead they use existing data and data sources from within the company. This starts with information about the organization , such as “Who is my manager” and continues along to information in proprietary databases and files from SharePoint.
PowerApps is organized using Connectors that allow you to link to any number of services. A Connector defines the interface to a service and which data can be processed by this service. The SharePoint Connector, for instance, allows you to extract information from lists, edit list entries and add new ones once you have entered the source page. In addition, files from document libraries can be read and stored. The Connector can work with SharePoint Online or alternatively the SharePoint Server within your company.
More than 125 Connectors are currently available, classified as Standard and Premium. You are only entitled to use Premium Connectors if you have licensed at least one PowerApps Plan 1 for your users.
But even the Standard Connectors provide all the important options for working with data from Microsoft products like Exchange, SharePoint, Teams or Dynamics.

Fig.4: The Connectors let you work with data from Microsoft products. Source: Microsoft
A major advantage is the ability to connect with data using the on-premises Data Gateway. It is not necessary for your information and databases to be in the cloud. The Gateway creates a connection between PowerApps (as well as other tools like Flow and Power BI) and the local sources like SQL Server databases, file shares and SharePoint farms. This data can then be used in the PowerApp from any location in the world.
PowerApps can be published within yourentire company or made available to just certain user groups. For instance, the HR management app might only be of interest to employees in the human resources department. This enables you to control who uses the app, and each employee can also receive a set of apps that is tailored to their requirements.
If you want to deploy PowerApps on devices like iPhones or iPads, the procedure, in my opinion, is far simpler than when using the Apple App Store. Why? Because your applications don’t need to be checked by Apple. You could almost say that they piggyback onto the smartphones and tablets used by your employees on the shoulders of the PowerApps published by Microsoft.
Publishing updates also doesn’t require any review by the smartphone manufacturers, so they are available immediately.
Since PowerApps are available directly on smartphones and in the browser, you can probably already guess where they are stored. In the Microsoft Cloud. It also looks after the complete hosting and distribution to the end devices.
You can continue to store your data on proprietary systems, so you don’t need to migrate all your systems to the cloud in order to use PowerApps.
PowerApps are licensed per user and are available as monthly subscriptions. PowerApps are already included if you have licensed Office 365 for your users (in Office 365 Business Essentials, Business Premium, E1, E3, E5, F1 Plans and others).
In addition, there are two Premium Plans (P1 and P2) that can be booked for individual users. These Premium Plans enable the use of Premium Connectors, as well as granular app management. If you have already licensed Dynamics 365, you will be entitled to all functions included in the P2 Premium Plan.
It is not necessary to equip all users with Premium Plans. In most cases, the functions included with Office 365 Plans will be sufficient for the necessary use scenarios.
The on-premises Data Gateway will only be available for PowerApps Plan 1 and above in future. However, current customers with Office 365 E3 or E5 Plans can continue to use the Gateway until the end of 2019, without requiring further licenses.
Do you want to learn more about the potential that Microsoft PowerApps offers for your business?

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Create an employee moonlighting policy, not a freelancing ban!
A friend was a copywriter on Madison Ave in the 1970s, in the late Mad Men days. He said if an agency employee’s door was closed, they were usually doing their freelance work.
I asked, “Wasn’t your boss concerned that people were moonlighting?” My friend replied, “No, my boss was doing his own freelance work.”
Fast forward to today.
Ready to ban employee moonlighting? Wait!
Worried your agency’s employees are moonlighting on the side? Instead of a moonlighting ban, consider a moonlighting policy instead.
Why? Because having a moonlighting policy helps you retain good employees without hurting the agency… and a ban on moonlighting may even be illegal.
Let’s dig deeper—including why your agency can benefit from having a moonlighting policy, and some sample policies you can use to get started. But remember, I’m not a lawyer.
What is moonlighting?
Moonlighting is when an employee holds a second job or does freelance work outside their primary job.
Originally, the implication was that the “outside employment” was in the evening—after their daytime job—hence the term “moonlighting.”
For agency employees, moonlighting primarily focuses on freelancing—working as an independent contractor for companies other than the agency itself.
Why do some agencies ban moonlighting?
Agency moonlighting bans are typically intended to prevent three types of problems:
1) Conflicts of interest: Is the employee working for one of the agency’s current clients, at a cut-rate fee? Are they working for a competing agency, potentially sharing trade secrets? Is the employee working with a client that might otherwise have hired the agency instead?
2) Performance concerns: Is the agency employee working long hours for their freelance clients, making them tired and mistake-prone during the regular workday? Is the employee taking moonlighting client calls during the workday, when they should be focused on the agency?
3) Misuse of company resources: Is the agency employee using company time, software, or other resources to support their moonlighting work? If traveling, is the employee using agency trips to meet with moonlighting clients?
Of course, freelancing doesn’t automatically create those problems—but they often go together.
Why not just ban moonlighting?
In some circumstances—especially when a company makes a broad restriction—a moonlighting ban may be illegal:

NOLO: “Can My Employer Fire Me for Working a Second Job?“
SHRM: “Moonlighting Ban Worded Too Broadly“
KatzMelinger: “Does your company ban moonlighting? How is the policy worded?“

As described in the links above, a 2018 case found an employer was overly narrow in restricting outside employment.
Even if a ban is not illegal, consider the impact on employee morale. A blanket moonlighting ban effectively says, “Our agency owns you.”
Yes, you are the “dictator” of your agency—but that doesn’t mean people have to put up with your dictates. If in-demand employees decide you’re unreasonable, why would they stick around?
If your agency’s [voluntary] employee turnover is higher than 10-20%, look in the mirror.
How do agencies benefit from employee moonlighting?
Odds are good that your employees don’t want to do the same thing over and over again. Moonlighting gives them a taste of variety that your agency’s current client workload may not provide.
Examples: Underwear, Sandwiches, and One Font
I once dated a graphic designer whose 9-to-5 assignments included weekly sales circulars for a furniture retailer… and packaging design for the agency’s largest client, a global apparel manufacturer. Her comment: “I don’t want to spend the rest of my life doing underwear packaging.”
A few years ago, I met an agency manager who led a team handling regional ads for a sandwich chain. The account was highly profitable, but his employees were bored—90% of the campaigns were as-is from Sandwich Corporate.
More recently, I met a Creative Director who worked on John Deere. All creative for the machinery manufacturer had to be in a single font: “John Deere Sans.” Her team was allowed to vary the weight of the typeface… but they couldn’t use any other fonts.
Variety via Moonlighting… or by Quitting?
Be realistic—some employees are going to moonlight anyway. By regulating rather than banning, you make it “safe” for employees to tell you about it, rather than force them to be sneaky.
If you can’t give New Rope employees the variety they want, would you rather they moonlight… or quit to join a competing agency?
Some employees aren’t inclined to moonlight. But when agency leaders exhibit self-serving behavior, they send a message to 100% of the team: “This revenue is more important than your happiness.”
What should go in a moonlighting policy?
Ready to create your agency’s policy? Great! Here are three samples:

Workable: Moonlighting Policy Template
HR Specialist: Sample Policy: Moonlighting
Wolters Kluwer: “Do You Need an Employee Moonlighting Policy to Protect Your Business?“

Consider guidelines for when employees should offer projects to the agency first, what they can do during the workday, and what company resources (if any) they can use while moonlighting.
Be sure to ask your HR advisor for guidance—you want to be sure you comply with laws in your jurisdiction.
Question: How do you handle employee freelancing or other moonlighting at your agency?

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Big businesses tend to be at the forefront of revolutionary technology both because they have the budget to invest in costly products and the most to gain from transforming processes. Nevertheless, for small businesses, it would be short-sighted to dismiss artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and related automation technologies as expensive, complicated and even somewhat alien solutions. In reality, the time has come for small businesses to take advantage of automation today.
AI technologies are now more accessible and cost-effective than ever, making them a viable tool for small businesses on relatively scanty budgets. It’s like all other technologies. As more and more companies develop and adopt automation and AI solutions, the competition has increased and the costs have come down. After all, small businesses account for more than 40% of US GDP and more than half of net job creation. They also represent over 99% of actual businesses in the US. Obviously, every AI solution vendor wants their products to be accessible to this massive potential pool of customers.
Like any other type of technology, AI has a wide range of uses. Small businesses can take advantage of AI and automation technologies today in numerous important areas – marketing automation tools to reach new prospects, chatbots to improve customer service, process automation software to improve back-office efficiency, and talent management solutions to hire smarter.
Of equal importance – automation produces digital data. Data fuels machine learning and drives AI. No business, however small, can afford to ignore automation. Doing so exposes your business to nimbler competitors lurking around the corner with a fully digital operating model.
Let’s look at some of the ways small businesses can benefit from automation and AI right now.
1. Use Chatbots for effective and fun customer service
According to Gartner, 85% of all customer service interactions will be non-human by 2020. Some of the immediate benefits chatbots can offer any small business are providing 24/7 customer service and pulling up relevant information within seconds, drastically reducing the time and energy normally involved in the process.
But depending on your industry, there are many creative ways to use chatbots to offer not just speedy and quality service, but an engaging experience for users.
Create a unique, engaging customer service experience
When NatGeo was promoting its show about Einstein, viewers could directly message them on Facebook to speak with a chatbot named “Einstein” who spoke in a unique, distinct voice developed to engage with them and spark interest in the show and its historical figure.
Reach customers where they are, instead of asking them to come to you
Restaurant chains like Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and Burger King allow customers to place orders directly on social media, making their promotions and products more readily accessible than those who don’t use chatbots for order placement on social media.

Taco Bell’s “TacoBot” on the chat platform Slack. Source
Businesses can build their own chatbots or partner up with existing chatbot companies. The costs of deploying chatbots depend on the level of the chatbot’s complexity and the range of platforms you want them to work on.
Chatbot company GoHire’s founder Jonathan Duarte says, “Most chatbots with 1,000+ interactions with contacts will range at the low-end of $500 per month, depending on the integrations, levels of script, reporting, debugging, AI and NLP requirements, and future enhancements.”
There’s room for small businesses to leverage AI technology with chatbots at multiple budget levels. You can utilize the tech on a smaller scale than big brands, but still benefit from the investment.
2. Automate processes to prepare for a data-centric future
Just about everything in administration can benefit from some level of process automation. Scheduling meetings, processing forms, and organizing files are things that don’t require much skill. Yet, manual tasks like these eat up a large chunk of time that takes away from the more fundamental aspects of running a business.
Worse still, relying on paper, email and Excel for everyday activities locks up your business data in hard-to-find places like file folders, SharePoint repositories or filing cabinets.
Without digital data, your small business cannot take advantage of machine learning and AI.

Let automation take care of necessary but time-consuming tasks
Every business relies on day-to-day processes – things like on-boarding new hires, processing purchase orders, and handling time off requests. These core activities are essential to operate but, at most small businesses, they’re riddled with inefficiency.
Employees waste too much time chasing paperwork and correcting mistakes. Small businesses already have resource constraints when it comes to talent. They simply cannot afford unproductive employees.
Process automation software removes these inefficiencies and improves productivity. Modern systems reduce data entry and errors when filling out forms, automatically send to the right people for approvals, send notifications and reminders, and facilitate record keeping.
Prepare for a future awash in data
Most important, these digital processes generate digital data. This is a critical step towards becoming a data-driven organization that’s likely to flourish in the 21st century. After all, without process automation you cannot access your proprietary business data. Without access to your data, you cannot deploy ML and AI.
Modern process automation platforms are easy to use, cloud-based and do not require skilled programmers. They’re increasingly accessible to small businesses who stand to benefit significantly.
3. Find and hire the right people
Attracting and retaining world-class is one of the top determinants of success in the 21st century. Small businesses generally don’t have the HR resources of larger companies to find the right talent. They might struggle to hire people with the right skill sets in their own networks, which tend to be smaller.

There may even be plenty of interest and more than enough applicants for an opening. Nevertheless, small businesses don’t have the time and the staff to go through them all. Screening candidates is the biggest headache for recruitment professionals, with 52% saying it’s the hardest part of their job.
Yet the first hires for a business are crucial for setting the stage correctly. This is an area where AI can reach out and identify those people that you may not have access to otherwise, as well as help you hire those who are likely to be more invested in your company.
The potential for AI technology in the hiring space is vast. From analyzing facial expressions to patterns in the resume or speech to predict future behavior or interests, AI tech in recruitment at times sounds exactly like the kind of futuristic stuff out of science fiction.
However, on a purely practical level for small businesses, at the very least AI can help by combing through applications for you, identifying relevant skill sets and removing implicit biases such as education, gender, and ethnicity. More and more, companies are using AI tech in hiring to reach candidates they might have overlooked because of other factors but have the right skills for the role.
Companies like Arya, Mya and SEEK offer AI-based solutions to help the hiring process for all types of businesses. Small companies struggling with their hires may benefit from this type of technology to save time and produce better results in recruitment.
4. Understand your marketing data

One of the biggest benefits small businesses can receive from AI technology lies in marketing automation. When you’re strapped for resources, it’s hard to dedicate any time to combing through data like customer behavior, preferences, demographics, and anything that might help you understand your customers.
Yet having access to this kind of data, analyzing it and applying to your business can make an absolutely drastic difference for your company.
When food company Dole used AI to analyze its customer data, they found that focused geo-targeting would help them grow market shares for one of its food categories. As a result, after applying this insight to their marketing campaigns, they saw 12 times the normal social engagement as well as an 87% increase in sales for the targeted region.
Marketing automation technology is accessible through companies like Marketo and HubSpot. Both offer plans in different tiers based on business size and needs, so small businesses can benefit from the tech just as much as enterprise companies.
Automation and AI are accessible to everyone
It’s not hard to see how, given enough resources, businesses can invest in the latest automation and AI technology to improve processes. Today, the technologies have already reached a point where even individual business owners can readily use automation solutions to further various business goals.
As artificial intelligence continues to seep into our everyday lives, small businesses can no longer continue to ignore automation and AI solutions. Yes, they reduce costs and provide a competitive edge. However, in a world awash in data, automating processes and analyzing the resultant data is a must to thrive in the 21st-century.
Anything else is short-sighted at best and could destroy your business at worst. Think about how quickly Barnes & Noble and Blockbuster were upended by well-funded competitors with a fully digital operating model.
The good news is that the market for automation and AI-based solutions is vast and abundant, offering a range of options for businesses of all sizes, needs, industries, and budgets.

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