How To Have An Amazing Conference Experience
Jul22

How To Have An Amazing Conference Experience

ICMI knows how to throw a party. I had the fortune of attending their Expo and Conference this year in Orlando, FL. Speaking at a major conference for the first time, I was pretty much a ball of nervous energy for the first two days. Even so, I managed to pull out several great learnings which I will memorialize and share right here on this blog :).     1. Invest in People Throughout the Year Twitter is the first big (unexpected) win. I hated Twitter at the beginning of last year. It seemed like a giant hodge-podge of worthless information. Roy Atkinson and others helped me to stick with it, and now I see Twitter as an even more powerful networking tool then LinkedIn. Walking into the expo the first day, I thought I was completely alone. As it turns out, I had walked into a room full of friends with which I had developed a great relationship with through sharing knowledge. It was an absolute blast learning from and engaging with them in person. My favorite moment of the whole conference was sitting on a panel for a live twitter chat complete with Sean B Hawkins, Leslie O’Flahavan, Neal Topf, Erica Marois, and Jeff Toister.  It is so much more exciting to learn with you are sharing the experience with others and participating in robust dialog. The best way to avoid a conference “summer camp” experience, but a much deeper and sustainable one,  is to engage with industry experts on Twitter throughout the year. Two of the greatest chats are the #icmichat on Tuesdays at 12:00 PM CST and the #custserv chat on Tuesdays at 8:00 PM CST.      2. Make Fun a Priority I was really confused when I first got my speaker ratings back. I gave two completely different types of sessions. My first was around the “Effortless Experience” and how to balance this with customer delight. It was very well researched and heavy on the content side. I expected this to be by far the more popular and highly rated session of the two. The second was more about having an exciting dialog in the room and learning a topic (gamification) together. I had considerably less “solid” content and I was afraid I would take a bath in the ratings for my (very) nontraditional approach. The “Effortless Experience” session was rated 18 out of 44, whereas the Gamification session received a 9 out of 44!! I still can’t believe that result. It tells me that if people want to listen to someone drone on about a particular topic for an hour, they can find...

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Gamification in the Service Center
Apr10

Gamification in the Service Center

How to creatively motivate and retain employees in your support environment At times I wish the word “game” was not part of the word “gamification.”  While it is certainly an important element, the principle goes far beyond the idea of playing games.  “Creatification” might be a better word to describe what is really happening.  As Robin Jenkins defines it, “Gamification is about applying the same principles that have always inspired people: goals, status and rewards – to motivate people to accomplish high-value actions.”  You are providing a unique and creative infrastructure that taps into the intrinsic motivators of your employees….the kind that will bring them to the next level. There are so many ways to make gamification happen in your workplace.  While there are countless systems and automated tools available, it’s much more than buying a piece of software.  A personalized effort is required to create a true value-add program.   While it can be helpful especially for “moment of need” training, software rarely changes culture.  In the end, it all comes down to an intentional , consistent effort over time to build great relationships.  Here are a few of the key things we learned while “gamifying” the experience in our service center:   Know your audience – Gamification should not be a “top down” effort.  Include the individuals who are going to be participating in the program while creating it.  Understanding the interests of your employees and what motivates them will be paramount to the program’s success.  Also consider the goal you are looking to accomplish.  Is this a training program or an employee experience program?  The two will look very different.  For Kevin Hegebarth (@kghegebarth on Twitter) gamification is “a formal program of collecting rewards based on the attainment of well-documented goals.”  The concept will look very different when applied in different support environments. Competitiveness vs. Collaboration – For many gamification programs, it is all about competition and moving to the top of the leader board.  These types of initiatives often work well in a sales environment.  Be careful when choosing one of these for your group, as they can often do more harm than good.  In a service center, generally a more collaborative approach is best.  Reward the individual behaviors the create success for the larger team and for your customers. Always Mix It Up – This is not a program you can put out at the beginning of the year and have it run on autopilot.  Think about why we are drawn to games….they simulate a unique and exciting experience.  As soon as that game ceases to challenge us or surprise us, we will stop playing it.  Authoring...

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