Partners In Education program kicks off new school year
More than 400 individuals attended the Chamber’s Partners In Education kickoff last week at Doubletree Hotel at Warren Place to celebrate the partners and volunteers making a difference in the lives of children in Tulsa Public Schools.
Speakers at the event included The Honorable Kathy Taylor, Tulsa mayor; H.J. Green, deputy superintendent of TPS; Dr. Kara Gae Neal, superintendent and CEO of Tulsa Tech; and David Page, Tulsa Metro Chamber chair and market president, JPMorgan Chase & Co., among others. Attendees were treated to student performances including the national anthem from Willie Hill, Booker T. Washington sophomore, a rap song by McKinley Elementary, and an African drum ensemble from Kendall-Whittier Elementary.
Tulsa Metro Chamber collaborates with Tulsa Public Schools to provide the Partners In Education program, which unites schools and the business community to engage students and help provide them with the confidence, skills and readiness to continue to post-secondary education and formal training.
More than 1,200 Tulsa-area corporations, community organizations and faith-based entities are already making a difference in the lives of children in Tulsa through the Partners In Education program. The Chamber’s goal for the program is to reach 1,350 partners by the end of the 2009-2010 academic year. To learn more or to become a partner, contact Heather Johnson at 560.0218 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are Web 2.0 tools worth the investment?
Is investing in interactive Web technologies worth the time and money?
A new survey by McKinsey Quarterly polled companies about the benefits gained from using various Web 2.0 tools and found several technologies were a boon not only for customer relationships, but for relationships with employees and external partners and suppliers.
When it came to customer-related benefits, blogs were the most useful tool, bringing measurable benefits to 51 percent of responding companies worldwide. That was followed by video-sharing and social networking (48 percent) and RSS feeds (45 percent). Technologies such as wikis, podcasts, ratings and tags were less useful, but still benefited customer relationships for up to one-third of companies worldwide.
More than one-half of respondents said Web 2.0 tools increased marketing effectiveness, while 43 percent reported higher customer satisfaction and 38 percent reduced marketing costs. Businesses in the high-tech/telecom industry were most likely to report customer-related benefits of Web 2.0, at 65 percent, followed by business/legal/professional services firms, at 60 percent.
Companies cannot simply adopt these technologies and expect their customers to use them en masse, however. Among firms reporting measurable benefits from Web 2.0, 74 percent said it was important to integrate the tools with other forms of customer interaction, and 52 percent said marketing the Web 2.0 initiatives themselves was a best practice.
For a list of local firms who can help implement Web 2.0 tools into your business’s marketing structure, check the Chamber’s membership directory, and be sure to look for the Tulsa Chamber in your social networks.
Cut costs without losing customers
Discover the secrets to how you can cut costs while actually increasing customer satisfaction.
There is no doubt in this economic environment cash is king and tough investment and cost-cutting decisions need to be made to ensure your business remains viable, for the sake of all stakeholders.
However, decision-makers who are worried over the stability of their company’s finances should remember one simple truth: The source of your business’s cash flow is your customer base.
Although each business’s model and situation are different, there are common steps for addressing the challenge:
1. Revisit your segmentation. A business’s customer base is its ultimate source of cash flow; however, not all customers are created equal. It is surprising how few companies have systematically analyzed the profitability of customer segments at anything deeper than a gross-margin basis.
Examining your segmentation — with an eye toward which customers are truly driving your cash flow and are absolutely critical to retain, and which customers are less important but are consuming critical fixed resources — will help to inform your investment and cost-cutting decisions.
2. Recognize and appreciate your customers’ situation. Recognize your customers are also taking a hard look at their expenditure profile, which may result in (1) eliminating consumption of a particular product or service; (2) reducing consumption; or (3) continuing to consume at the same level but with a lower-priced product or service.
That third option is a result of the individual consumer’s switching cost being lowered by the current economic environment. Pay particular attention to the third group. The first and second customer groups are difficult to influence, but the third can be addressed by continuing to demonstrate the value your company’s offering delivers to them.
3. Map your customer touchpoints. Develop an understanding of the impact each touchpoint has on your customer and the degree of perceived value your customer receives from each touchpoint. Which add value and are critical to satisfaction? Which are “nice to haves”?
A simple map of known touchpoints and their hypothesized importance will do if you haven’t studied this systematically.
Being armed with this knowledge of the relative importance of activities will help focus your investment decisions and help avoid cutting activities that impact satisfaction and loyalty.
4. Maintain or increase your customer marketing investment. While investing heavily to acquire new customers may not make sense in this economic environment, investing to retain your customers makes absolute sense. This should not be customer marketing as usual. We would not advocate barraging your customer base with cross-sell and up-sell promotions.
Now is the time to increase customer equity through activities such as these:
• Opening a dialogue with your customers: Thank your customers for their business; recognize the economic situation and sympathize with the challenges your customers are facing.
• Rewarding your customer base: For a period of time, offer free services that have a limited impact on your cost structure but deliver additional value to your customers; offer special promotions that are low-investment items but are perceived as valuable by your customers.
5. Step up customer service. Now is not the time to under-deliver on your customers’ expectations, especially in customer service. As we noted, switching costs have been reduced — and one poor customer-service experience could be enough to drive a customer to a competitor. Without making a significant investment in customer service, a business can take various actions to improve the level of service delivered. The following are examples:
• Creating a sense of urgency in your customer-service groups: Clearly set expectations that the business viability is dependent on the customers’ experience and the customer service group has the ability to make a significant impact.
• Developing programs to foster improved customer service: Develop internal competitions for your customer-service team; establish awards and recognition initiatives for your customer-service team.
Current economic conditions require businesses to make difficult investment and cost-cutting decisions. Maintaining a customer perspective in these trying times will ensure the right activities are invested in and your customers are satisfied and secure.
Those that retain their customers in the current economic environment will not only be more resilient in the short term but also best positioned to prosper in the long term, when the economy begins to rebound.
Source: J. Mark Carr and Karl Gustafson, CMG Partners
Chamber welcomes new businessesEach month the Tulsa Metro Chamber's Hospitality Club welcomes new businesses and new Chamber members to the community by assisting with ribbon cuttings and groundbreaking announcements.
Debi Covert, Executive Director
7210 S. Yale Avenue
Tulsa, OK 74136
Vista Shadow Mountain
Stacy Norgard, Regional Manager
6000 S. Memorial Drive
Tulsa, OK 74145
Share Carr, Owner
Boese Group – Allstate Agency
Jim Boese, Agency Owner
1660 E. 71st, Suite 2A
Tulsa, OK 74136