Tools and Online Resources for Customer CommunicationIn support of Classroom Courses, Flash Training and Checkpoint preparation
- ICONDA trainees benefit from an account on http://my.icon9.net
- The ICON9 Lite Introduction series is based on four short, cartoon-style videos which give the basics of ICON9 and its first three tools : MAP, PAGE and DISCOVER-Y
- The Client Encounters Using ICON9 Video series is a complete training course in six modules, including scripts, exercises and checks
- The Client Encounters Using ICON9 Audio series – somewhat experimental – is designed for learning reinforcement through short audio exercises
- These resources are intended for use with feedback and support from a facilitator – a trainer or a manager – and they can also be used automously by groups of trainees.
ICON9 Lite Introduction Series
Based on four short, cartoon-style videos, this series gives the basics of ICON9 and its first three tools : MAP, PAGE and DISCOVER-Y
Explains the motivation for the use of tools and methods in a customer-facing context. It also gives a quick introduction to ICON9.
A basic introduction to the MAP tool – also useful as a refresher.
A basic introduction to the PAGE tool – aslo useful as a refresher.
A basic introduction to the DISCOVER-Y tool – also useful as a refresher.
Client Encounters Using ICON9 Video Series
A complete training course in six modules, including scripts, exercises and checks
Before we start talking about tools, let’s look at the Encounter Process – a very useful concept that helps to organise our thoughts about what goes on when we meet a customer.
Meeting Preparation and MAP
Preparing to meet a client is like getting ready for a journey. I’m too busy to plan in as much detail as I might like, but the least I can do is get a MAP before setting off.
Starting Meetings and PAGE
While my MAP helped me envisage the road ahead, it couldn’t predict the weather! When I meet my client, I have to revise my assumptions and get in sync with them …
Discovery and DISCOVER-Y
It’s best to approach client meetings with an exploratory mindset, even if the ultimate goal is to conquer new territory! Discovery is greatly helped by the DISCOVER-Y tool.
On Listening and Angry Clients
Going beyond the tools, this section discusses a couple of subjects of importance to client encounters – practices for quality listening and dealing with irritated or angry customers.
From Learning to Guiding Discovery
In the next stage of our journey, we use Discovery for exploration, but also to influence.
The Swiss penknife of the ICON9 toolkit, carried and used everywhere, is the SUBROUTINE.
The SUBROUTINE for Status Checks
The first ‘operating mode’ of the SUBROUTINE is for communication with oneself …
The SUBROUTINE for Input
The second SUBROUTINE operating mode constitutes the backbone of the Guiding Discovery flow.
The SUBROUTINE for Output
The final operating mode helps us to communicate clearly, avoid conflict and, where necessary, manage communication difficulties.
Presentations and Email
The Big 2
Customer-Facing Engineers frequently have to reuse presentation material. How do you do this and achieve a strong, focused message? To start with, there are two rules …
The TWO-MINUTE MESSAGE
The TMM (not invented here, by the way) is an excellent tool for preparing presentations, whether starting from scratch or not.
Using the TMM
Here are a few pointers on how to get the most out of the TMM for presentations of different types.
The TWO-SECOND MESSAGE
Emails being somewhat shorter and faster than presentations, the tool of choice is the TWO-SECOND MESSAGE…
The TSM in Detail
Following-up on the previous lesson, the TSM is presented in more detail.
Negotiation is a valuable skill for Customer-Facing Engineers, and the SUBROUTINE tool is a valuable aid when the need arises.
The TABLE Tool
For individual and (especially) team preparation of encounters where negotiation is expected, the TABLE tool captures multiple best practices.
Dealing With Manipulation
This lesson concerns the psychology of negotiation and how to deal with constraints, power and manipulation.
Evals – part 1
For those who support Product Evaluations, these three lessons provide a structured view of challenges and tactics. They start by looking at whether it is a good idea in the first place …
Evals – part 2
This lessons gives guidelines on setting the scope of a Product Evaluation – and how to negotiate that scope with customers.
Evals – part 3
The final lesson on evaluations looks at best practices for their execution – how to win the business!
Getting Help and Collaboration
This lesson looks at the challenges of influencing outcome over which we have no direct control – a common dilema for Customer-Facing Engineers.
The OAR Tool
OAR is a simple tool that brings to mind several important principles for indirect influencing. It embodies the systemic approach …
The Systemic Approach
Engineers and experts in general are good at solving complicated problems, for which an analytical method is important. However, some issues require an alternative approach …
To influence, one’s message must be well-received, but clients’ prefered communication styles vary widely. How do we achieve a match?
Having understood how to recognise a client’s style, it is possible to anticipate, intercept and even remedy certain communication bugs.
Client Encounters Using ICON9 Audio Series
These audio tracks are organised tool-by-tool and designed for learning reinforcement through short exercises (usually 4 per tool):
Used in the Prepare step, the MAP tool is extremely simple, which is an advantage when time is short and the situation is complex. The tool is effective not only for organising client encounters but also for many other tasks, and it can be used either when working alone or in collaboration with others.
Getting Meetings Started: PAGE
PAGE is equally useful for driving meetings and for ensuring that you are not driven mad by them! That is, the tool can be used by a chairperson to plan and then lead a meeting, or by a participant to check that the meeting they are attending is being well managed (and that they are not wasting their time).
DISCOVER-Y is a visualisation tool. Pronounced “discover why”, it is a kind of preconfigured Mind Map, invaluable for unravelling complex situations and for ensuring good questioning coverage in routine ones.
The SUBROUTINE is a four-step process that starts with people’s perceptions of a situation then moves through the problems that they feel to the needs that they want to have fulfilled and, finally, to the actions/solutions that fulfil these needs. This powerful process can be applied to self-analysis, to active listening and to the expression of one’s own needs and wants.
Presenting: TWO-MINUTE MESSAGE
The TWO-MINUTE MESSAGE (TMM) is at the heart of a method for producing high-impact presentations and other documents quickly, exploiting as much existing material as makes sense. It is a synopsis that I elaborate before looking at any existing material.
Writing Email: TWO-SECOND MESSAGE
The TWO-SECOND MESSAGE (TSM) tool enables me to write email that can be assessed within two seconds of being seen. This allows recipients to process my correspondence quickly and appropriately, increasing my chances of getting the desired action or response. Given that Customer-Facing Engineers effect much of their client communication using email, and that the consequences of miscommunication can be serious, it is well worth seeing what TSM has to offer!
Challenging and Negotiating: TABLE
The TABLE is a single page summary of key points to decide before going into a negotiation. The tool is extrememely valuable for all types of multi-issue, B2B negotiations, where negotiable items might include technical specifications, time, resources, money, and so on.
Getting Help and Collaboration: OAR
OAR is the sister tool to MAP, developed primarily for communication with internal, rather than external, clients. It embodies a systemic approach to initiating collaboration with colleagues. I might use it, for example, when I need help from my parent organisation in order to meet commitments made to external clients.
The Ultimate Tool: TOOL9
TOOL9’s key components are Presence, Sensitivity, Understanding and Autonomy – qualities that a client is likely to sense (even if they can’t name them), and which directly affect their trust in me. Trust, of course, is a pre-requisite to productive business relationships.