Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Are You Making Your Life Easier By Using RSS?

if you are not using an RSS, it's a good post. with good comments


follow up post:

How I Use RSS To Make My Life Easier

"So I’ve tried my best to explain what is RSS and why it’s important to learn how to use. And as I said I find it hard to explain probably because the power of RSS is really something you need to experience first hand."

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

When to fire your clients

In many services businesses and certainly in the Recruitment and Staffing business, the customers you choose determine the level of success you achieve. In the search business we are always looking to add clients who are responsive to our efforts (we only get paid if we are successful) and in the temporary staffing business we are always looking to add clients who pay their bills on time and treat our temporary employees well.

A post on the HBS blog titled "The New Math of Customer Relationships" by Harvard Business School professor emeritus Jim Heskett articulates this better than I can:

When we observed a number of organizations ... we found a common behavior among the most successful ones. In various ways, they "fired" customers who either were abusive in their relationships with employees or were just difficult to serve, perhaps because they fell outside the core constituency (target market) identified in the organizations' strategies. In some organizations, this is a way of expressing support for employees. In others, it is a way of preserving the organization's strategic focus. This is typically not something that an organization advertises. But it is standard practice in a number of organizations today.

For example, at ING DIRECT, the fastest-growing financial services organization in the United States over the past seven years, the company, in as personal and amiable a way as possible, asks 10,000 customers to close their accounts every month. It's important to point out that this is out of a current base of about 6.5 million customers who give ING DIRECT the highest marks for satisfaction out of all U.S. banking organizations. The company fires customers who are especially "high maintenance" because they are unusually high users of the time of its support center personnel. This both preserves a low-cost base for its targeted customer base and, by the way, reduces a source of frustration for employees.

Do you agree with this concept? I do... The assumption being that your business does not depend on a small number of clients. If it does, you probably don't agree and/or regardless if you do, you can't consider this strategy until you land some more clients. So sell more so you can fire your clients too.

Turn Off Distraction

When I was in high school I had cable tv, 2 phone lines and my stereo in my bedroom. Not to go without mention, I also had a bench press/place to hang my pants and a chin-up bar/place to hang shirts. When I needed to study, I would first try to do so while on the phone and watching the Knick game but after my first test scores would come back I would need to turn off the tv and avoid the phone in a desperate attempt to retain all such privileges in the wake of intervention level test scores.

The only difference 25 years later is that my computer (and/or smartphone) is always on and information and entertainment I am interested in is constantly being pushed to me while I am trying to be productive. This highly stimulating and at times satisfying habit allows me to satiate my ADD by juggling a weeks worth of meetings and phone calls, maintaining blogs, subscribing to 20+ feeds while sending and receiving 1000+ emails a week. It does not however, lead me to perform my most important tasks with the required diligence or productivity.

One of the blogs I subscribe to recently suggested (sorry, can't recall which) that limiting to 2x per day the sessions during which you reply to email drastically improves productivity. I get it, but don't think that would be beneficial due to the real time nature of transactions related to managing a recruiting company. But, I do think that turning off elements of distraction are working for me. In a recent post titled "Not productive enough? Turn off the Internet" Robert Scoble writes:

Want to get something done? Turn off Twitter. Turn off Facebook. Turn off blog comments. Turn off FriendFeed. Turn off Flickr. Turn off YouTube. Turn off Dave Winer’s blog and Huffington Post. Turn off TechMeme.

and it makes sense to me...