Tag: Marketing Charts

The Importance of Creating and Maintaining Your Company Culture

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The company culture. What is it? And why should I, as the company leader, care?

There are a number of variations of what a company culture is to an organization. Wikipedia, the foremost internet expert upon, well…. everything, defines the company culture as, “…the values and behaviors that uniquely amalgamate with the social and psychological persona of the company.” Certainly a generic and bland way to think about it. But that leads to some questions like: 1) do only established organizations have a culture? And 2) are the employees then the originators and stakeholders of the company culture?

The quick and dirty answer to both is “no.”

Company culture begins and ends with you

As the leader of your organization, the company culture begins and ends with you. Certainly employees, partners, vendors, and customers may help to refine it but it is the leader that sets the tone. Even a company of one or two employees develops a culture. It starts with the leader and how the leader functions and communicates the long term vision, values, and beliefs. Quite early on your employees’ behaviors are the result of your direct leadership and growth of the company. Assumptions are made. Processes and systems developed. Routines and habits are formed. And the very nature of your organization’s ecosystem is created.

But whether you are leading a small and emerging company, or assuming the reigns of a fully developed and mature organization, the culture blueprint is set forth by you. What you do, say, and believe as the leader about the operational aspects of your company plants the seeds. How you follow through, relate, and communicate, as well as your attitudes on display will begin to nurture what you have planted. Ultimately, what you harvest is in the results.

Needless to say it behooves you, as the company leader, to pay close attention to how and what you are doing in defining the company culture and how it is maintained. Even if you are assuming a new leadership role with an organization with a historically positive company culture, you as the leader can inadvertently change it without realizing it.

SmartDraw Tip: In the Template Screen’s Left Panel, navigate to the Marketing Charts category.  In the Marketing Chart Templates sub-category, select Marketing Mix-1. To insert an image into a shape, select a shape. In the Insert ribbon, select Picture.  Locate the appropriate image. Click Open.  
Click here to learn about more ways to use the Marketing Mix template.

Forging a new or refined company culture

With the many items leaders tackle, one of them should be to make time to think and diligently plan ways to positively impact the company culture from the outset. Take time to listen to employees and their ideas and thoughts. Provide customers and vendors opportunities to add input. Closely examine what outside influencers write about your organization. Regularly review the current company mission and values. Then….

Adjust as necessary. Focus on how to change the attitudes and beliefs strongly held by your team. Those adjustments will permeate across other teams and filter down to customers and vendors. For example, if your team struggles with its behaviors and performance with serving and supporting customers, learn to seek how those systems can be improved. Develop new systems. Charge and challenge your team with new roles and responsibilities. Model the behaviors and actions routinely. Align the attitudes and behaviors with desired results.

And in the end, the attitudes and behaviors of your team will change along with the improvement of a long standing corporate issue. Thus forging a new or refined company culture.

Hiring the Perfect Customer Service Employee: Top 10 Characteristics

Purchased ImageCustomer service is an essential key to building a great relationship with your customers and building a positive brand for your company. Providing excellent customer service ensures customer loyalty, and through the following skills, it transforms them from a casual consumer into a proud patron.

When tasked with hiring a new member of the Customer Service & Support team, it is critical to find individuals who can not only complete the objectives of the role they must also have excellent customer service skills.  Customer service employees are the image for your company – the first impression when a customer walks in the door or hears your voice on the phone. How that individual presents themselves to a customer factors into their satisfaction of the company, the product, and the service.

The top 10 characteristics to look for when hiring a customer service employee:

hiring_perfect_customer_service_employeesProduct and Service Knowledge

Customer service representatives must have working knowledge of your company’s products and services. Research shows that customers are more inclined to purchasing a product when there is credibility, and credibility lies within a representative’s conviction of knowledge. The deeper of an understanding they have about your products and services, the more comfortable they will be in supporting and selling to your customers.


Your customer is always your top priority. A representative should always have the customer’s best interest at heart. In the sales market, customer service representatives will encounter ideal and happy customers, as well as difficult and upset customers. It is imperative that the representative remain calm no matter what. There is no shame in taking a step back or asking a manager for help with a situation.

Ability to Empathize

Being attentive to the customer’s needs is crucial characteristic of the perfect customer service employee. Empathetic skills includes the ability to sense and understand the emotions of others. It’s important that they actively listen to the customer and pay attention to their non-verbal communication, such as: body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions.

Communication and Attitude

It begins with development interpersonal skills. Clear, concise, and effective communication is the key to excellent customer service. The customer service employee should be able to speak with conviction and poise. This will help build trust and rapport with your customers. They must also be aware of their tone of voice, no one enjoys a monotone voice. To effectively open a channel of communication with the customer, it also requires the right attitude.


There is a big difference between listening to the customer and hearing the customer. Listening to the customer requires that the customer service representative focus and be perceptive to anything that they can use to help make the sale and/or help improve the customer’s experience.


The biggest mistake an employee can make, is selling a product to just to make a sale. Customers value honesty. Treat every individual customer with respect and full undivided attention. A representative should never want to make a customer feel like just another customer.


Excellent customer service does not end when the representative is done assisting the customer. Excellent customer service is being determined and following up with the customer in a timely manner thus demonstrating that they value them and their time. It is when a customer service employee shows their concern for the individual customer experience that is what leads to generating loyal customers.


It goes without saying that representative will have several things going on at once: phones ringing, daily tasks needing to be completed, customers needing help, it can all become overwhelming. This also means more room for error if they are rushed through it all without diligence.  Multi-tasking is an essential skill, as it can affect performance and sales. The perfect customer service employee must be able to adapt to a fast-paced environment.

Willingness to Learn

There is always something to learn, whether it is to communicate more effectively, investing more time in the customer, or gaining a deeper understanding of the company’s products and services. A successful customer service representative will see lack of knowledge as areas in which to improve.


“Why should I invest my time and money on your product?” A classic tool for this skill is synchronization or “mirroring”.  This involves matching the customer’s tone of voice, gestures, mannerisms, and words. Building rapport from the start of the interaction will help the representative later on in the sale. Sharing a story or finding commonality in any way goes a long way. With that said, the representative needs to be ready to tell the customer why they should invest in your company’s product and not your competitors. With effective communication and honesty, the perfect customer service representative should be able be to gain your customer’s trust.

Customer service is essential in every company. Your customer must feel like they received the support they were expecting and then over deliver on that expectation. If your customer service employees are able to do all of this, then they will be able to achieve mastery in customer service.

To further your customer service skills in the tech industry, read Customer Service: 10 Tips for Technical Support Representatives.

About the Author

With a B.A in Communication Studies and 10 years of experience in sales, Sandra Lopez-Denman understands the importance of providing excellent customer service. It is Sandra’s tenacity and passion for her job that has attributed to her successes in her professional career. Lopez-Denman moved to San Diego, CA three and a half years ago from Santa Monica, CA. She recently married a diehard Buckeye fan and is a proud mother of two fur babies – Onyx and Snowcap.

6 Key Components to Building a Winning Sales Team

About the Author As Director of Sales Operations at SmartDraw, Steve Peterson helps our customers use SmartDraw to communicate more effectively with visuals. At home, he spends most of his free time entertaining his 4 year old daughter. A Minnesota native, he is an avid sports fan, rooting for his Alma mater, the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers.

Building the foundation of a winning sales team isn’t something that can be broken down into a few simple steps. It’s a collection of many different ideas and components that when put together, creates a culture of teamwork and success. While this list isn’t exhaustive, here are a few tips that have served me well in building a winning sales teams.



It’s called a hiring process because it is one. It’s a process and it needs to be well defined and followed. Hiring the wrong person costs time, money and it’s emotionally exhausting. Get others involved and invite people outside of the sales department to participate in the interview process. Ramping up in sales is mission critical for new hires. Develop a detailed on-boarding program and make sure your new hire is ready to sell the day training is complete. Train new hires on both sales processes and product knowledge.  Role-play is something that has helped not only prepare new hires for the job, but it has also exposed new hires that needed additional training or were likely to fail. Despite how well you do in your hiring process, you will still find some that don’t make it out of training.


A key component to a positive sales culture is understanding how the sales team and the individual align with the company’s strategic objectives. Spend time discussing company strategy with every sales person, then break it down so each one can see how they contribute to the overall company vision. Sometimes a company changes course, so make sure to communicate that so everyone is on board with the changes.


Top performers usually follow a very strict sales process. Understand what that is, then document it so everyone can be trained on it. This serves as the road map to guide your sales force on every deal. The objective is to focus on moving the prospect through your process one step at a time. Having a detailed sales process is essential to achieving team quota. Just like all processes, a sales process can always be improved. Review and improve your process with the help of your team.


Get the team involved in every aspect of the sales department. Understand why you are winning deals and why you are losing them. Share that information internally so others understand how to position your product in similar situations. Work on sales process improvement as a team. Set up quarterly meetings to review sales processes and brainstorm ideas to improve them. Develop compensation plans together. They are the sellers, find out what motivates them, then develop a compensation plan that will incentivize them to sell the products needed to achieve quota.


Sales can be a grind. Every month or every year your past accomplishments are forgotten and you have to start over again. To keep spirits up, get the team together outside of the office to socialize. Whether that’s a monthly happy hour, bowling, or even volunteering together, I think you will find the team is happier and more productive when you can let off steam outside of the office.


Everyone likes to be recognized for a job well done. Go beyond annual awards ceremonies and start recognizing top contributors every week or month. Say thank you every time someone exceeds expectations. That doesn’t always have to be a big sale. It could be a nice comment from a customer, or when someone on the team helps another close a deal. Positive reinforcement goes a long way in making your team feel appreciated and part of the overall success of the company.

3 Simple Steps to Developing Millennials in the Workplace

https://pixabay.com/en/workplace-team-business-meeting-1245776/About the Author As Director of Sales Operations at SmartDraw, Steve Peterson helps our customers use SmartDraw to communicate more effectively with visuals. At home, he spends most of his free time entertaining his 4 year old daughter. A Minnesota native, he is an avid sports fan, rooting for his Alma mater, the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers.

As Director of Sales, I manage a very diverse workforce that includes several that are classified as millennials. It’s not hard to find articles and opinions about how this generation impacts the workforce. Most of what I have read labels this group as being somewhat difficult to manage, also noted here by the Harvard Business Review’s article “Mentoring Millennials.”  My experience couldn’t be further from the truth. The millennials on my team are positive, capable, and eager for responsibility. For me, I follow a simple three step process to develop them into awesome employees and co-workers.

developing millennials2


The first step in the process is to break down the barriers and get to know them. If they are new to the company, take the time to introduce them to everyone on the team. Take an interest in what they do outside of work, where they grew up, went to school, and so forth. I found I have a lot in common with my millennial workers that I wouldn’t have discovered if I didn’t ask. I have also developed new interests because of the experiences they have shared with me.

Ask them how they like to be managed. I think you will find most like constructive feedback, but do not like to be micromanaged. Set up ground rules to provide coaching and feedback. At this point you have a personal connection and also an understanding on how you can work together in a positive way to help both of you accomplish your goals.


The second step is to understand what they are looking for in a job and also what’s important to them with regard to a work environment. This will differ slightly for everyone, but I think you will find several commonalities like a career path, ability to contribute ideas and think creatively, work life balance, and reasonable compensation. There might be times when the job you have doesn’t meet all of their needs. Think outside the box to see if you can assign them to a project or give them other responsibilities to help fulfill their needs. I can tell you firsthand, the group that works for me is incredibly ambitious, always asking for different ways to contribute to the success of the team. Another area of importance is a desire for social interaction with other co-workers. Encourage everyone to interact, even if it’s outside of work for a night of bowling or volunteering somewhere together as a team.

Step #3. DEVELOP

The last step is to create a development road map and get them on their way to a productive career. Find out where they see themselves in five to ten years. Figure out how you can help them get there and map it out. Identify what they need to work on, then help them work on it. Provide coaching and feedback, but in a positive, supportive way. Congratulate and praise them publicly for a job well done. My objective for them is to be happy and successful at work, even if that means leaving my team and finding something else that better suits them. For most, this will be their first job or one of the earliest in their careers. It might not be the right fit several years down the road. If you put their needs and desires first, you will end up with a happy, engaged individual that positively impacts your organization.

To learn more about the impact of millennials, read How Visualization and Millennials Impact Software Development.

Does Lean Work in Healthcare?

https://pixabay.com/en/medical-appointment-doctor-563427/The term Lean is often followed by the term manufacturing, since that’s where the idea first took root. So it’s natural that many people—maybe most people—outside of manufacturing aren’t aware of Lean methods.

If you aren’t familiar with Lean, it is what I like to call an organizational lifestyle change. Just as a commitment to good health requires a person to adopt a lifelong goal of exercise and healthy eating habits, Lean requires an entire organization to buy into its approach.

There are three basic goals of Lean.

• Focus on providing the best possible customer experience
• Minimize waste in the development/delivery of goods and or services
• Continually strive to improve in all areas

But will Lean principles work in non-manufacturing endeavors? For example, does Lean work in healthcare?

The overwhelming evidence says the answers to these questions are yes and absolutely, yes. Applying the above ideals of Lean to healthcare, we get a goals cycle diagram that looks like this:


Does Lean Work in Healthcare? These Case Studies Say it Does

Here are just a few case studies, with links to the stories, validating how Lean does work in healthcare.

Banner Health – Doctors and nurses teamed to improve emergency room processes and reduce litigation risks. The result was an 89 percent decline in patient complaints prior to discharge.

Doctors, Nurses Overcome Workplace Hierarchies to Improve Patient Experience Scores in Phoenix ER

Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute – Increased procedural volume by 12 percent and added nearly $8 million to its annual incremental margin.

St Joseph’s Hospital – By using Lean to change its patient flow in the ER, is able to treat at least 10,000 additional patients annually. This will add up to $8 million to its bottom line.

Efficiency paying off at Moffitt, St. Joe’s

New York City Health and Hospitals Corp  – Cut a $10 million inventory in supplies, many of which would expire unused, by switching to a just-in-time inventory system. Inventory was cut in half for a one-time windfall of $5 million.

Delnor Hospital – Implementing a Lean system, the average length of a patient’s stay was cut by 10 hours. This made a contemplated $80 million expansion unnecessary.

ThedaCare – This operator of multiple hospitals and clinics slashed inpatient care costs by 25 percent. The improved productivity and savings on supplies saved the organization $27 million over four years.

Hospital CEOs manage staff time, inventory to cut costs

That Sounds Great. So How Do I Use Lean to Improve My Healthcare Practice?

The first step is to take an honest assessment of your current processes. In Lean terms, this is called your value stream. You want to do this from the patient’s perspective. The best way to do this is to create a value stream map. This short video helps to explain how to create a value stream map.


Next, you will examine your current state to assess areas of waste. For example, long patient waiting times, paperwork bottlenecks, communication gaps or even inventory control issues.

Data will be collected to determine how much time is spent in each step. Specifically, you’ll be looking to break time into two elements: value add time (this is the time that adds value within the process, such as examining a patient) and non-value add time (time the patient wastes waiting to see the doctor or time wasted by admin staff trying to locate patient files, for example).

Once all of the data are gathered and the current state map is complete, a future state value stream map will be created. The goal will be to take the practice from where it currently exists to this future, Lean state.

Obviously, this is an oversimplification, but hopefully you get the idea. By focusing on making every step in the various processes of your practice more effective and efficient, and by focusing the entire organization’s efforts on maximizing the patient’s experience, everyone benefits.

Business systems reviewer Software Advice published an excellent blog article that goes into more depth and will give you a better understanding of how to use Lean in your healthcare practice.