024: Tema Frank: That’s the end of my business
Teama Frank Show Notes
Tema needed to make some technology changes with her company. The change required that her systems be out of service for a few days. In an effort to notify her customers via email, a technology glitch caused many people to receive a flood of emails about the system change issue. By the time Tema found out, over 650 people were negatively impacted. In the heat of her frustration and fear that her company was ruined, Tema’s 5-year old daughter gave her some advice that saved her company. Listen to Tema tell her story about how she got over this huge hump.
Tema Frank’s job title is Chief Instigator, and she’s been wanting to instigate since she was very young. Much to her frustration, when she tried to tell her parents or older brothers how they could do things better, they’d reply, “When we want your opinion, we’ll give it to you!” That may have been what sowed the seeds of her desire to give a greater voice to customers and staff.
She’s had a varied career over more than three decades, working as a lobbyist and public affairs specialist, then as a bank marketer, and eventually as a consultant and freelance writer so she’d have the flexibility to join her husband on a year’s sabbatical in the Netherlands. She wrote the best-selling book, Canada’s Best Employers for Women: A Guide for Job Hunters, Employees & Employers, and put up her first website in 1995 to promote it.
One day, stuck in the house during a snowstorm with a baby, a toddler, and without her husband (who was out of town) she got really frustrated that she couldn’t order diapers online. Soon afterwards she created Web Mystery Shoppers, which was one of the world’s first companies to have regular folks testing website usability and web-related customer service from their own, buggy computers at home.
Using social media techniques before social media existed, she recruited an international panel of 75,000 mystery shoppers. Her clients included some of the world’s largest banks, insurance companies, online travel sites, governments and retailers.
Tema is an internationally acclaimed speaker and teacher of digital marketing and customer experience strategy in the United States, Canada & France.
In 2012 she launched the Frank Online Marketing Show podcast, which morphed into Frank Reactions earlier this year when she decided to return to her original focus on customer and user experience. She is currently writing a book, The Customer Reflex, about how organizations need to change to provide the types of customer experiences people demand in our fast-paced, social media world.
Tweetable Quotes and Mentions
Listen and @temafrank will help you get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow Click to Tweet
“If you have unhappy staff you’re not going to have them delivering great service.” -Tema Frank Click to Tweet
“You’ve got to find ways to make things work more smoothly to keep everybody happy.” -Tema Frank Click to Tweet
“Everybody can make a difference.” -Tema Frank Click to Tweet
“I find it very sad that so often people think there’s no point in saying anything.” -Tema Frank Click to Tweet
“Never underestimate the wisdom of a 5-year old.” -Tema Frank Click to Tweet
“You can start making smaller changes wherever you are in the organization.”-Tema Frank Click to Tweet
“I did not sign on to be in the bar with the vice president.” -Tema Frank Click to Tweet
“Be yourself, don’t try to be like everybody else.” -Tema Frank Click to Tweet
Hump to Get Over
Tema tried to notify her customers via email about a technology change but something went terribly wrong. A glitch caused many people to receive a flood of emails about the system change. By the time Tema found out, over 650 people were negatively impacted. In the heat of her frustration and fear that her company was ruined, Tema’s 5-year old daughter gave her some advice that helped her to move onward and upward faster.
Advice for others
Have confidence in yourself.
Holding her back from being an even better leader
Her broken foot. Apart from that an element of insecurity.
Best Leadership Advice Received
Be yourself, don’t try to be like everybody else.
Secret to Success
The ability to really listen to others and the desire to listen to others.
Best Resources in business or Life
Reading and learning.
Frank Reactions Podcast: http://frankonlinemarketing.com/show/
54 Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Competencies List: Emotional Intelligence has proven to be the right kind of intelligence to have if you want to move onward and upward faster. Get your free list today.Click to access edited transcript
Intro: Welcome to the Fast Leader Podcast, where we uncover the leadership like hat that help you to experience, break out performance faster and rocket to success. And now here’s your host, customer and employee engagement expert and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, Jim Rembach.
Jim Rembach: Thanks, Kimberly. Okay, Fast Leader legion I am excited today because we have somebody on the show who has a depth of knowledge and a lot of different areas associated with taking care of people , and I think that’s fantastic. Tema Frank’s job title is Chief Instigator and she’s been wanting to instigate since she was very young much her frustration when she tried to tell her parents and older brothers how they could do things better, they’d replied “When we want your opinion will give it to you.” That may have been what’s sowed the seeds of her desire to give a greater voice to customers and staff.
She’s had a varied career over more than three decades working as a lobbyist and public affairs specialist and then as a bank marketer. And eventually as a consultant and freelance writer so she’d have the flexibility to join her husband on a year sabbatical in the Netherlands, man that had to be fantastic. She wrote the best-selling book “Canada’s Best Employers for Women” a guide for job hunters, employees and employers and put it on her first website in 1995 to promote it.
One day stuck in the house during a snowstorm with the baby, a toddler without her husband was out of town, she got really frustrated that she couldn’t order diapers online. Soon afterwards she created a web mystery shoppers which was one of the world’s first companies to have regular folks testing website usability and web related customer service from their own buggy computers. Using social media techniques before social media existed, she recruited an international panel of 75,000 mystery shoppers. Her clients included some of the world’s largest banks, insurance companies, online travel, sites governments and retailers.
Tema, is an internationally acclaimed speaker and teacher of digital marketing and customer experience strategy in the United States, Canada and France. In 2012, she launched Frank online marketing show which is a podcast that has morphed into frank reactions, when she decided to return to her original focus on customer and user experiences. She’s currently writing a book the customer reflex, about how organizations need to change to provide the types of customer experiences that people demand in our fast-paced social media world, Tema Frank are you ready to help us get over the hump?
Tema Frank: You bet.
Jim Rembach: Aha, great. Now, I’ve given our listeners a little bit about you, can you tell us what your current passion is so that we can get to know you better?
Tema Frank: Sure. My current passion is really helping organizations understand that if they want to deliver great customer experience and by now most of them realize how important that is. They’ve got to also treat their staff really well because if you have and unhappy staff you’re not going to have them delivering great service. And they’ve got to reexamine all their processes and procedures because you’ve got to find ways to make things work more smoothly to keep everybody happy, so, I’m doing a lot of reading and writing and researching on that.
Jim Rembach: You talked about a lot, even with you bio and even with that explanation on what’s currently driving, this level of caring that goes beyond and transcends what typically happens just in our society, where does that come from for you?
Tema Frank: I don’t know, I guess I’ve always kind of been like that. I guess I’ve been a bit at the in path character.
Jim Rembach: So, when that happens, and you have that type of passion, often times we have things that we need to inspire us, and on the show we look at leadership quotes in order to do just, is there a quote or a passage or something that drives you that helps you continue on in fighting that fight?
Tema Frank: It’s not so much a quote as just a belief. I guess that that belief for me is that everybody can make a difference. I find it very sad that so often people think that, “Ah, there’s no point in my saying anything, no one will listen, it won’t change anything” and they’re so wrong. I’ve had so many times in my life where just making—saying something is all that needed to be done for the other person to realize that a change was needed. And so, I really try and inspire people to believe that they can make a difference.
Jim Rembach: We appreciate all that work and I know it doesn’t come easy. Especially for me, I start thinking about the course of my life when I was a younger person I may not been able to do those types of things even though I had the passion in a way that was very accepting. [Laugh] talking about burning bridges and all that. Those are a lot of humps that I’ve had to get over and I think we all have them. And we focus on those humps on the show so that other people can learn and hope to become a better leader faster by learning through others. Is there a time where you had to come to that point at which you had to something different in order to get over a hump, can you take us back to the moment?
Tema Frank: Well, I think probably the biggest hump that I faced are certainly one of the big ones was shortly after launch Mystery Shoppers. I’ve been living in Toronto when I launched it and we had probably a couple thousand people in our database when we moved from there to Edmonton, and I was switching hosting companies, and this was quite a long time ago, so if you were switching you needed to switch to a new server and that your site is going to be down for a couple of days, so, I wanted to warn people about this. And, my hosting providers said, “No problem we’ll just send them an email let them know it’s going to be down for a couple days.”
And, it was a Friday afternoon and I started getting phone calls from my friends, thank God my friends were the first people on that list, and they were saying, “Why are you flooding our inbox?” And it turned out there was a loop in the program so that when the first person got their email, then when the second person got theirs, the first person got two, there is and second person’s and then third and it was just expanding geometrically, so, we were totally overflowing people’s inboxes. And by the time we figured out what was going on and we’re able to stop it, I think we had about 650 people who had been emailed, massive massive.
So, it was Friday afternoon I work out of a home office, I’m in my office fighting back tears and my five-year-old daughter walked in and she asked, what’s the matter? And so I explained it to her as best as I could in a five-year old terminology, cause honestly I thought that’s the end of my business it’s a web based business how can I mess up like that and still expect people to trust me? And my daughter said to me, “Why don’t you just phone them all and tell them you’re sorry?” And I started to say, “Oh, no, no, no, we can’t phone 650 people” and then I realized, “Yes we can.”
And so, the fellow who had made the mistake—and I got on the phone and spent the weekend phoning 650 people to apologize for what had happened. And in the end even the people who had originally threatened to sue ended up saying can we help you make this phone calls, totally, totally turned things around. So, I guess what I learned from that was, a couple of things. One is, never underestimate the wisdom of a five-year old, as I said everyone can make a difference. But the other was the value of honesty and apology.
Jim Rembach: That’s a great story. It makes me reflect for myself at this time of my six-year-old what he would say, [Laugh] “send a text dad”.
Tema Frank: Well, see that’s the thing. We couldn’t email them because we’ve already flooded their email box, so, what options was there.
Jim Rembach: That’s a great story. I would say that throughout the course of our lives we often have those little voices and sometimes they truly come from the little folks that teach you a better job of listening. Needless to say, you have a lot of things going on. You have such a dep depth of experience and being an entrepreneur solopreneur, I’m sure at times, as well as just a leader of many people through the businesses that you’ve had, what do you currently focusing in on right now that’s giving you passion and drive?
Tema Frank: Right now I’m really focusing mainly on getting my book written, cause I’ve been talking about it for two years, and I’ve decided—as I’ve mentioned before we started taping I broke my [8:34 inaudible] recently so and I’m really trying to take advantage of that time by getting my book written at long last. So, I’m focusing on the book and the podcasts and just learning a lot more about this subject and how to help companies change.
Jim Rembach: Helping companies change is a monumental task, some people can say it’s herculean. What do you find seems to be something that is kind of a universal thing that helps those companies do just that, change?
Tema Frank: It’s not easy. I think what helps often the most is for senior leaders to actually experience what it’s like on the front lines and/or what it’s like to be a customer. Getting on the front lines, finding out what their customers are really experiencing and if they get on the front lines even just hearing the actual words of people, so with Web Mystery Shoppers, we did a blend of qualitative and quantitative information. In addition to saying here’s your score, I was able to give each of the clients a detailed report with quotes from their actual customers saying, “This is what’s driving me crazy” and I find that tends to be very powerful.
Jim Rembach: I often find in the work that I do with customer relationship metrics that the qualitative analysis ends up having significantly more impact than the quantitative analysis could really ever generate. But when you look at what a lot of folks are doing when they start talking about interpreting the customer and even though they say is the voice of the customer there’s not a whole lot of qualitative analysis or customer comments or things that are really giving meaning to those numbers being captured in leverage and utilize them, what would you tell those companies?
Tema Frank: Well, I would tell them how important it is. I think a lot of organizations big and small struggle with finding ways to package that information, finding ways to pull it together from all these different sources. So, even within a small company, where it really should be easier because there aren’t tens of thousands of people giving feedback every day, very often you’ll find that the receptionist hears one set of complaints, the sales reps hears different set of complaints and nobody’s bringing it all together. So, it’s really important that they look at whole organization and where feedback is coming from and put it all together.
Jim Rembach: Now, say somebody who was responsible for leading that customer experience, what one piece of advice that you would give them?
Tema Frank: I’m trying to get away from just the obvious things like—when I’ve heard from people that I’ve interviewed is, make sure that you’ve got top management buying. But that said, I think even when you don’t initially have top buying, you can start making smaller changes wherever you are in the organization. It comes back to that core belief of mine that everybody can make a difference. So, if you can change things even in your work unit, those results will start to be seen and they’ll start to be shared and people—it can spread through the organization.
Jim Rembach: I think that’s a really good point. Because often times I hear folks—and it really doesn’t matter if you’re doing customer experience or anything else, really complain about things not being able to move at the pace that they want them to move but yet they’re giving up instead of doing just what you’re saying, looking for the small victories, those small opportunities and gradually building momentum. The fact, is that when you started talking about that change piece, a moment ago, it does not happen fast. Why, we wish that we could just walk into the room and flipped the switch, so to speak, that just doesn’t happen. We have to go back and start learning to reinvent the light bulb.
Tema Frank: That said maybe I’m being a bit of a hypocrite cause I’ve worked on my own since—for almost 25 years because I found it incredibly frustrating. [Laugh] I think I’ll probably handle it better now than I did when I was in my 20’s though.
Jim Rembach: Without a doubt. And that’s one of the things that we try to do on the Fast Leader show, try to show and reveal the fact that we all have grown to be where we are today. And there’s humps that we all had to get over. And if somebody can learn from your story to help them get over the hump faster than we’ve accomplished our job here at Fast Leader show. So, thank you for sharing that with us. So, now you had talked about when you know you’re younger, was there a moment in time where it kind of flip for you that you needed to do something different in order to get the outcome that you desired? Can you take us back to that moment?
Tema Frank: I think really for me probably the most significant moment in time where that happened was when I decided to become self-employed and stay self-employed. I have been working in a bank with bunch of guys who—this was the late 1980’s early 1990’s and they were not particularly appropriate in their behavior towards women. And I had really try to change things, and I remember sitting in my office at one point and my boss came in and he said, “You know, you’re not doing yourself any good by staying in the office doing your work you should be in the bar with the vice-president. And I thought, if that what it takes I didn’t sign on to be with the bar with the vice president, I sign on to be marketing. And so, I realize that I was going to leave that organization and that I was going to create own work so that I can have a work environment that I felt good about and so, that I could create a good work environment for others.
Jim Rembach: So, if you were to give the Fast Leader legion a piece of advice from that, what would be it be?
Tema Frank: Have confidence in yourself.
Jim Rembach: Good piece of advice. Okay, now it’s time for the rapid pace part of our show and it the—Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Tema, the Hump Day Hoedown is the part of our show where you give us good insights fast. So, I’m going to ask you several questions and your job is to give us robust yet rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Tema Frank, are you ready to hoedown?
Tema Frank: You bet.
Jim Rembach: Alright. What do you think is holding you back from being an even better leader today?
Tema Frank: My broken foot. [Laugh] Probably there’s an element of insecurity which is embarrassing too to admit at my age.
Jim Rembach: I don’t think that ever goes away. What’s the best leadership advice you ever received?
Tema Frank: Be yourself don’t try to be like everybody else.
Jim Rembach: What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?
Tema Frank: The ability to really listen. To listen to others and the desire to really listen to what others think and say.
Jim Rembach: What you feel is one of your best resources that helps you lead in business or life?
Tema Frank: One of the books that inspired me the most this year was one by a fellow named Ben Harowitz called, “The Hard Thing About Hard Things” and it’s a beautifully written book about both the ups but also the downs of leading a fast growth company.
Jim Rembach: We’re going to make a link to that available on our show notes page which you can find at fast leader.net/Tema Frank. Okay, Tema, this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question: Imagine you woke up tomorrow morning and you are 25 years old again, and you are supposed to begin a new job as a manager of the team people that are underperforming and disengaged. But you have retained all the wisdom and skill that you currently have, now your task is to turn the team around. So, you get up, you get ready and you head out to work, what do you do now?
Tema Frank: What I would do is sit down with them individually, one at a time and have one-on-one private confidential meetings and find out what’s frustrating them and what their aspirations are, what they’d like to see being done differently.
Jim Rembach: Tema, it was an honor to spend time with you today please share with the Fast Leader listeners how they can connect with you?
Tema Frank: Well, they can connect with me, first of all, by e-mail, it’s firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m on Twitter simply as Tema Frank. I’m on LinkedIn. I’m on Facebook, all the usual places.
Jim Rembach: And then you also have your podcast, which is available in iTunes and where else?
Tema Frank: The podcast is on iTunes and Stitcher just search for Frank Reactions and of course—I’d imagine people listening to this probably already are podcast listeners but in case they’re not, they just stumbled across your website, as with this podcast they can find it simply by going to frankreactions.com and looking for the individual episodes, Jo notes that also have links to the podcast.
Jim Rembach: Tema, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom, the Fast Leader legion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over the hump. Woot! Woot!
Thank you for joining me on the Fast Leader Show today. For recaps, links from every show, special offers and access to download and subscribe, if you haven’t already, head on over to the fastleader.net so we can help you move onward and upward faster.
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