Congratulations to the Winners of 2017 Young Scholar Research Competition

The Arizona State University Center for Services Leadership and the Co-Chairs of the Third Annual Organizational Frontline Symposium (February 2017) are pleased to announce the awards for 2017 Young Scholar Research Competition.

The competition accepted research proposals focused upon ‘frontline’ topics, and the lead author was required to be either a current doctoral student or an assistant professor who is fewer than three years removed from graduation. Twenty submissions were received and evaluated by an expert panel of judges.

The awarded projects include (in alphabetical order):

corinne-kelley

Corinne Kelley, Florida State University, “The Ambassador Effect: A Frontline Tactic to Enhance Customer Commitment, Loyalty, and Prosocial Behavior

Advisors: Maura Scott and Martin Mende

 

blake-runnals

Blake Runnalls, Michigan State University, “The Impact of Social Networks on Sales Training Transfer and Performance

Advisor: Doug Hughes

 

sunil-singh

Sunil Singh, University of Missouri, “Email B2B Sales Negotiation: Dynamic Use of Textual Cues as Influence Strategies

Advisor: Detelina Marinova

 

We congratulate the winners of the 2017 Young Scholar Research Competition and wish the award recipients and all the applicants the best with their research projects!

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Join the CSL for our Strategic Service Institute

The Center for Services Leadership is continuing its role as a leader in service education with the announcement of the Strategic Service Institute (SSI), March 13-17, 2017. SSI is the only program that provides an immersive executive education experience that focuses on the delivery of service excellence.  The development of this new format is the next evolution of service education. Two modules are now offered, one that delivers the foundational essentials for the managerial knowledge of service delivery and execution and a second that provides cutting edge toolsets and strategies essential to taking an organization’s service excellence to the next level.  An individual may take either one, or both, of these modules.

Grant OlsenDr. Douglas Olsen, Academic Director of SSI, explains advantages of the new format, “we provide incredibly solid grounding in service excellence during the first module and then, with these foundational principles in place, in the second module we introduce key frameworks for implementing strategies for leading service-centric organizations. Throughout the program we create opportunities for engaged discussion and collaborative learning.” The Institute curriculum is led by academics and business practitioners who are at the vanguard of service, and is delivered in a university environment at McCord Hall, of the W. P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University.

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If you are interested in learning more about SSI and would like to register, please see our website.

 

Digital Revolution and Disruptive Technology on the Horizon

Driving Business Value from Digital Transformation

Webinar with Dr. Michael Wade, Professor of Innovation and Strategy and Cisco Chair in Digital Business Transformation, at IMD Business School, located in Lausanne, Switzerland and Director of the Global Center for Digital Business Transformation, an IMD and Cisco Initiative

Author of Digital Vortex: How Today’s Market Leaders Can Beat Disruptive Competitors at Their Own Game

This webinar was hosted by the Center for Services Leadership Community of Practice on Monetizing Data and Analytics

The Digital Landscape has changed over the past decade. While businesses and companies understand the power of digital innovation, many firms struggle with either taking advantage of the opportunities or reducing risks that accompany digital transformation. Automotive industry is a great example that demonstrates the impact of digital transformation. The push for development of autonomous cars affects a wide spectrum of industries: from transportation & logistics to insurance, law & order, healthcare, hotels etc. Similarly, other innovations such as block-chains, machine learning, virtual reality etc. will potentially have an impact on a number of industries.

While leading digital transformation, companies have to address two fundamental questions: “Why” and “How”. ‘Why’ pertains to understanding the opportunities and threats that exist because of a rapid digitization. “How” covers the capabilities and roadmaps traditional companies need to create to sustain competitive advantage. Yet, data suggests that most digital transformations fail – the reason lies in inability to push for organizational transformation alongside technology transformations.

Beyond technology, companies need to change their approach to business strategy. According to conventional thinking, strategies are developed with a clear understanding of where the company currently is and where it wants to be. However, in today’s world, predicting the future has become extremely complex. Instead, to compete in digitally disruptive environments, companies must build multiple strategies backed by core digital business agility. The following capabilities are key to building digital business agility:

  • Hyperawareness
  • Informed Decision-Making
  • Fast Execution

Hyperawareness is being fully alert to the internal & external environments, particularly to changes that spotlight opportunities or risks. Data & information collection are the core for this principle, which can be accessed by humans, IoT machines or sensors. Key metrics to measure hyperawareness include the company’s ability to capture insights about/from its employees, customers, partners internal operating environment, competitors and about new digital technology & business trends.

Informed decision-making pertains to collaborating & empowering people to make quick, evidence-based decisions. Decision making power needs to be pushed to the edge of the network (Intelligence at the Edge) to gain speed & accuracy. Informed decision making is measured by the business’s ability to make decisions quickly & based on analytics, to empower people, to share information across organization and to access & display important data in real-time.

Finally, fast execution is putting decision into practice rapidly, mobilizing resources dynamically and continuously monitoring options and progress against goals. Fast execution is measured by our ability to act quickly based on new information, turn decisions into actions, dynamically acquire & allocate people & resources, continuously learn & adapt.

IMD’s digitization piano is one of the tools to help companies navigate the “how” of digital transformation. This tool breaks down the organization’s value chain into 10 distinct keys, broadly categorized under Digital Strategy, Digital Engagement & Digital Enablers. Companies should play multiple keys simultaneously instead of trying to address one specific area in isolation as they navigate their digital transformation journey.

Finally, at the core of transformation, the critical questions that companies must ask are:

  • How to use digital technologies to improve performance?
  • How to use digital technologies to build a more agile strategy?
  • How do we digitize across organizations?

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ABOUT THE SPEAKER

BACKGmichael_wadeROUND: Michael Wade is a Professor of Innovation and Strategy at IMD and holds the Cisco Chair in Digital Business Transformation. He is the Director of the Global Center for Digital Business Transformation, an IMD and Cisco Initiative. His areas of expertise relate to strategy, innovation, and digital transformation. Previously, he was the Academic Director of the Kellogg-Schulich Executive MBA Program in Canada. Michael has been nominated for teaching awards in the MBA, International MBA, and Executive MBA programs. He obtained HonoursBA, MBA and PhD degrees from the Richard Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario, Canada.

CLIENTS & INDUSTRY EXPERIENCE: At IMD, Michael teaches in several open programs and has directed partnership programs related to strategy and digital business transformation with Vodafone, Ooredoo, AXA, Honda, Zurich Financial Services, Credit Suisse, KONE, and Richemont, among others. He co-Directs IMD’s Orchestrating Winning Performance and Leading Digital Business Transformation programs. He provides consulting services, executive education and expert evaluations to several public and private sector organizations. He has lived and worked in Britain, Canada, Japan, Norway, and Costa Rica.

RESEARCH AND THOUGHT LEADERSHIP: Michael has published works on a variety of topics, including digital business transformation, innovation, social media marketing, information systems strategy, eCommerce, and SME performance. He has more than 50 articles and presentations to his credit in leading academic journals such as Strategic Management Journal, MIS Quarterly and the Communications of the ACM. One of his articles was among the top 20 cited articles in business, management and accounting worldwide for five years, according to Scopus (the largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature). He’s published eight books, more than twenty case studies and appears frequently in the mainstream media. His Latest book is Digital Vortex: How Today’s Market Leaders Can Beat Disruptive Competitors At Their Own Game. He was named one of the top ten digital thought leaders in Switzerland by Bilanzmagazine in October, 2016.

APPROACH “I define digital business transformation as organizational change through the use of digital technologies to materially improve performance. It is a simple definition, yet difficult to master. Certain industries have been on the vanguard of this changes. Other lag behind. Eventually, digital will become the ‘new normal’. I enjoy working with organizations to help them come to terms about what digital transformation means for them, and then to take appropriate action.”

The words Moment of Truth on a clock to illustrate it is time to witness a verdict or outcome to a game, challenge or test you are undertaking, to prove yourself and your character

The Moment of Truth: A Co-creation Perspective

The term “moment of truth” (MOT) is not new to me and I was happy to learn it was an integral part of the customer-experience community vocabulary.  As I have visited with many in the community, I’ve discovered there are various definitions for MOTs in relation to the customer journey. It is generally agreed that customer interactions are called “touchpoints,” and MOTs are the more significant touchpoints. However, the criteria for what’s “significant” depends on who you talk to. Some say the MOT is at the beginning when the customer decides to accept (or reject) the firm’s offer, while others point to the end of the transaction when they determine whether the whole experience was good or bad. Some identify various touchpoints where significant value is or is not realized. Yet another criteria is a touchpoint that shows the greatest likelihood the customer will “fall off”, or is most likely to end the business relationship. I contend there is too much ambiguity for the term to be useful in the context of a professional discussion.  At a minimum, the customer-experience community needs to agree on a more unified definition. I would go as far as to suggest a slightly different definition – one I think was intended by the first person to use the idiom in these contexts.

Richard Normann (1943-2003) is credited with the first use of the idiom “moment of truth” in a business context. Using the MOT concept, Normann was highly instrumental in the turnaround of Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) in the early 1980s. Jan Carlzon, SAS’s CEO during that time, recounts the turnaround in his book titled Moments of Truth (1987), attesting to the powerful perspective the MOT provides and Normann’s more significant contribution to the effort. By removing MOTs which provided little or no value to their customers, and enabling employees to deliver the best experience possible in those that remained, SAS became profitable again by more than three times the first year target.  They also earned the rank of “top Airline” the same year, and held that distinction for many years.

Normann’s book Service Management: Strategy and Leadership in Service Business, Third edition (2002) gives us the greatest insight to his thought process regarding MOTs. I find it fascinating and affirming that his first reference to MOTs is directly preceded by a discussion about co-creation. Normann says:

“…the customer is often more than just a customer – he is also a participant in the production of the service. A haircut, the cashing of a cheque, education – none of these can conceivably be produced without the participation of the consumer. Thus the service company not only has to get in contact with the consumers and to interact with them socially; it is also necessary to ‘manage’ them as part of the production force.”

Normann is clearly stating that a customer is integral to the value creation process. This is co-creation – the customer and the organization working together to create desired value.  If the customer is not involved, no value is ever created.  No customer, no value.

With this backdrop, Normann introduces the concept of MOTs. He states:

“Most services are the result of social acts which take place in direct contact between the customer and representatives of the service company. To take a metaphor from bullfighting, we could say that the perceived quality is realized at the moment of truth, when the service provider and the service customer confront one another in the arena. At that moment they are very much their own. What happens then can no longer be directly influenced by the company. It is the skill, the motivation and the tools employed by the firm’s representative and the expectations and behavior of the client which together will create the service delivery process. A large service company may well experience tens of thousands of ‘moments of truth’ every day.”

From the very first mention, Normann is clear that when a customer comes into contact with the organization, it is a MOT. The two have come together to accomplish something in relation to creating the value the customer seeks – their job-to-be-done. We know from experience there are often many interactions per customer journey depending on the size of the job-to-be-done.

We also know customers judge the experience of each and every interaction as to perceived quality in relation to its part of accomplishing “the service delivery process”.  Customers have some idea of how much time and effort they should be expending. They have some expectation of how they should feel at a particular point in the process, and they judge the interaction based on whether their expectations were met. The quality of each and every interaction is determined and (either consciously or subconsciously) scored in the mind of the customer. Think of this as a “running score.”

When Normann first introduced the MOT concept, most interactions were face-to-face; but don’t take this too literally.  As technology emerged and matured, Normann realized the potential for applying technology to MOTs.  He says, “…new communication and information technology clearly increase the possibilities to ‘store services’, and to make person-to-person interaction in their provision unnecessary.” Customers understand that automation is still designed and implemented by “faces” in the organization.

Normann also talked about the cumulative and/or knock-on effects of MOTs:

“There is a well-known dynamic in interpersonal interactions whereby positive action creates positive reactions, which in turn leads to mutually positive feelings which in turn leads to mutually positive interaction. Or the reverse can apply. A positive attitude and efficient action on the part of the service supplier will encourage the client to participate more, and more effectively, which in turn encourages the service supplier, and so on. A ‘virtuous circle’ has started.”

Normann continues at length to point out when the interactions are positive and customers feel the experience is valuable, a “virtuous circle” ensues.  Furthermore, the outcome of each interaction or MOT sets up the likelihood of a similar outcome at the next interaction. Good interactions tend to foster more good interactions, while poor interactions tend to lead to yet poorer interactions.

Perhaps Normann is the clearest in defining the MOT when he said:

“The quality experienced by the customer is created at the moment of truth, when the service provider and the client meet in a face-to-face interaction. The most perfectly designed and engineered service delivery system will fail until things work out then. Thus, any enquiry into quality must start from the microsituation of client interaction, the moment of truth (emphasis mine). The important question is: what mechanisms lead to and reinforce the client’s experience of quality and good value in that microsituation?”

In defining what Normann meant by the ‘moment of truth’, focus on the most consistent and defining vocabulary he used throughout: the words “interaction” (used consistently) and “microsituation” (used specifically), and more importantly, the juxtaposition of the two – “microsituation of client interaction.” From my reading of Normann, MOTs are each individual interaction with the customer – not high-value interactions, not high-risk interactions, not just the buy/no-buy interaction, and not the last interaction, which are all macrosituations.

The organization typically dictates the customer’s journey, and therefore, determines the time and effort required from customers. Unfortunately many organizations tend to think of some interactions as trivial and inconsequential. All too often, what the organization considers innocuous, the customer perceives as a waste of time and resources. Furthermore, the cumulative or knock-on effects of multiple or poorly executed interactions could culminate at a relatively innocuous one – the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

From a co-creation perspective, each interaction either increases or reduces value to the customer. In other words, that running score really matters. Is every interaction equal to another? Absolutely not, but they are all weighty! We need to consider each and every interaction and what it contributes to customer value in relation to all other interactions.

Therefore, a co-creation perspective takes into account the value exchange of each and every interaction with a customer.  As the customers navigate their journey, moment by moment they are sizing up how they feel about the potential of achieving overall success, and with a few exceptions, they can drop out at any interaction in the journey. Though the organization may identify a particular interaction in which customers typically drop out of the journey, this doesn’t necessarily indicate that interaction is the culprit. The root problem is just as likely to be poor execution of one or more upstream interactions. The customer journey is part of the co-creation ecosystem and systems thinking needs to be applied.

Please keep in mind my purpose is first: to create a better and more common understanding in our terminology, and second: help us leverage the brilliance of Normann’s work. I’m not necessarily suggesting the customer-experience community change its vocabulary. However, I do recommend we at least apply Normann’s research and concepts to whatever the corresponding vocabulary is. Every organization’s success depends on creating Normann’s “virtuous circles”, yet these are only possible when we acknowledge the full significance of what he called the MOT with their cumulative, knock-on effect in the co-creation ecosystem. Call them what you will, interactions, touchpoints or MOTs, but for the good of the customer give every single one their due consideration.

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Compete Through Service Symposium 2016: Recap in Pictures

Thank you to everyone who attend this year’s CTS Symposium! Save the date for next year’s symposium: October 25 – October 27, 2017. We hope to see you next year!

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Motivating Sales Reps for Innovation Selling in Different Cultures

The commercialization of innovations is the lifeblood for most organizations. However, bringing new products successfully to market can be a complex and difficult challenge, especially if your company operates in a business-to-business (B2B) environment. The sales force is often the dominant sales channel, and it can be a potential bottleneck in the route to market of innovations. That is why it is especially important for B2B firms to direct and guide their sales forces for successful innovation selling.

This task can prove quite difficult, especially since many sales reps have a low initial motivation for innovation selling. This is mainly due to three major reasons:

  • First, new products are often complex and difficult to understand. Therefore, salespeople need to invest a considerable amount of time in order to fully grasp the new products and their additional benefit for the customer.
  • Second, sales reps are often uncertain about the functionality and reliability of new products: Will the new features and technologies work out as promised? In fact, salespeople represent the “first line of customers” for new products, often equipped with profound skepticism towards novel solutions.
  • Third, many salespeople fear jeopardizing good client relationships with new products. They do not want to be held responsible for the latest gadget’s “teething problems” or even serious functional flaws and put their client base at risk.

In our recent article “Motivating Sales Reps for Innovation Selling in Different Cultures” in the Journal of Marketing, we report results on how firms can enhance reps’ innovation commercialization in a broad international context. Specifically, to examine this issue, we collected data from 406 sales reps from an international B2B supplier. These salespeople represent 38 countries on four continents. Consequently, this investigation delivers one of the most far-reaching international studies in sales research.

The study’s results demonstrate that firms should employ specific steering instruments in order to motivate their sales reps for innovation selling. Most importantly however, we find that these sales force steering instruments should closely correspond with reps’ cultural imprint in terms of Hofstede’s four dimensions: power distance, individualism, uncertainty avoidance, and long-term orientation (you may want to take a glimpse at https://geert-hofstede.com/ for more detailed information on Hofstede’s research on cultures).

For instance, we find that the total effect on financial innovation performance surges by more than 350% when firms apply variable compensation for innovation-sales results in highly individualistic (vs. less individualistic) cultures. Moreover, we demonstrate that innovation performance may increases by more than 300% when supervisor appreciation for innovation-sales results is applied in cultures with high power distance (vs. low power distance). Strikingly, we find that the average variation of all steering instruments’ effects across high versus low values for each cultural dimension is greater than 100%. These large percentage numbers illustrate the huge leverage of intercultural sales force steering regarding innovation commercialization.

In the following table we display an overview of our main findings. You might want to challenge your own company’s steering approach: Do your steering instruments actually match with the cultural environment they are applied in?

cultural_environmnet_steering_instrumentsTo enhance your firms’ innovation commercialization through intercultural sales force steering, we recommend three specific actions. Implementing these recommendations may help your company to exploit these large potentials:

  1. Adapt your sales force steering approaches to cultural environments

Many companies around the globe today harmonize their sales force steering in the course of globalization as, for example, when implementing one-size-fits-all approaches derived from corporate strategy. However, this study’s results lead us to warn you against overly meshing sales force steering across countries. Instead, we recommend looking carefully at the markets and cultures you operate in and focus on the most effective steering instruments per cultural context. In doing so, you will be able to most efficiently and effectively motivate your sales reps for innovation selling and see a strong performance. For instance, think about flexible steering approaches and heterogeneous incentive plans that have globally standardized elements but also allow for adaptation to cultural peculiarities.

  1. Develop a more comprehensive approach to sales force steering

Does the following sound familiar to you? Your firm has many autonomous units that are involved in sales force steering challenges. For instance, there is the compensation division that takes care of financial incentive plans, while the benefits division is responsible for non-monetary incentives. Then, there is global HR that schedules on-the-job trainings and finally the sales supervisors, who make use of on-the-job instruments to motivate their salespeople. However, in contrast to this fragmented common practice, we strongly recommend orchestrating these different sales force steering approaches to systematically align and make use of the entire range of steering instruments. We briefly outline in the figure below how such an integrated intercultural sales force steering approach could look like.

sales_force_steering_mix

  1. Segment your sales force according to their cultural imprint to customize your sales force steering approach

Finally, we recommend segmenting sales reps according to their cultural imprint in order to specifically tailor sales force steering instruments to enhance innovation commercialization. Specifically, you might classify the sales force in terms of power distance, individualism, uncertainty avoidance, and long-term orientation. To motivate innovation selling by sales reps from cultures with high power distance (e.g., Brazil, China, India), we recommend to focus on steering measures that involve close interaction with the direct supervisor, such as supervisor appreciation for innovation-sales results. In contrast, for sales reps from individualistic cultures (e.g., Netherlands, United Kingdom, United States), we recommend a focus on steering measures that reward or foster individual attainments, such as education for innovation selling or variable compensation for innovation-sales results. For sales reps from cultures with high long-term orientation (e.g., Slovakia, South Korea, Taiwan) as well as for sales reps from uncertainty-avoidant cultures (e.g., Belgium, Portugal, Romania), we advise focusing on supervisor appreciation for innovation-sales results.

For more detailed information and in-depth discussion of our study please refer to the original article published in the Journal of Marketing: http://dx.doi.org/10.1509/jm.14.0398

Sebastian Hohenberg and Christian Homburg (2016) Motivating Sales Reps for Innovation Selling in Different Cultures. Journal of Marketing: March 2016, Vol. 80, No. 2, pp. 101-120.

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picture_chomburgChristian Homburg is Director of the Institute for Market-Oriented Management (IMU) at the University of Mannheim (Germany). His special subjects are sales management, customer relationship management, and market-oriented management. Dr. Homburg has published numerous books and articles at the national as well as the international level. Today, he is member of the editorial boards of 6 scientific journals in the United States and Germany. Furthermore, since April 2011, he operates as the first German area editor for the Journal of Marketing. Prior to his academic career, Dr. Homburg was director of marketing, controlling and strategic planning in an industrial company that operates globally. In addition to his academic position, he is chairman of the scientific advisory committee of Homburg & Partner, an international management consultancy.

picture_shohenbergSebastian Hohenberg is Assistant Professor at the Marketing Department of the University of Mannheim (Germany). He also works as a freelance consultant at Homburg & Partner, an international consultancy agency. During his research and consultancy projects, Dr. Hohenberg focuses on topics in the areas of sales management and innovation management.

Bringing Brands to Life

This post was originally published in 2014.

By Nancy J. Sirianni

Sirianni_NancyBrands are created by companies, but it’s the end customer who ultimately determines what the brand means to them. So, how do customers come to truly understand a brand and what it stands for?

Service brands are experienced on a personal level, with employees engaging customers during one-to-one social encounters, but many firms fail to include employee-customer interactions in their brand strategies. Because human-delivered services are performances and can vary from employee to employee, firms can find it difficult to create coherent experiences that drive home their brand imagery in a consistent manner from customer to customer.

For several years, I was part of a research team at Arizona State University that explored what brand managers can do to overcome this challenge. Through a series of consumer behavior experiments and a large-scale critical incident study that included dozens of service industries, we tested how customer brand experiences can be made more consistent through the behavior of frontline service employees. That is, we examined how service firms can recruit and train employees to internalize brand imagery in order to authentically bring the brand to life with customers in what we call “branded service encounters.” Continue reading