The Stevie Awards Blog

Marketing in the Age of AI

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Wed, Feb 12, 2020 @ 11:05 AM

In an age where AI is changing the business landscape, agencies like Digital Resource are stepping up to help organizations gain online traction. Adopting AI can mean creating personal connections between businesses and clients.

Hollywood’s dire predictions of artificial intelligence (AI) taking over the world might not be coming true any time soon, but there’s no denying that AI’s capabilities are revolutionizing many industries. With newfound access to big data, machine learning, and in-depth insight into consumer behavior, the marketing industry, for one, is undergoing a complete overhaul.

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Most businesses today have the wrong idea about online marketing. It is not so much about the tools and platforms you use as it is about understanding human behavior and motivation. The deeper your knowledge of your target audience, the more impactful your marketing efforts will be. To that end, AI is a powerful ally for marketers who are willing to accept and to adapt to its capabilities.

AI for Your Marketing Team

Businesses across the world are using AI and machine learning insights to sharpen their marketing focus and to increase personalization. For instance, AI can help create ads that convert better by enabling deeper keyword searches, social profiling, and exhaustive online data research—all of which are not scalable efforts when done manually.

Intelligent analysis of search patterns, conversational chatbots to increase retention, individual-level user analytics, and several other marketing use cases of AI are all emerging globally.

“Marketing initially scared me because you couldn’t measure it,” said Susan Johnson, CMO of SunTrust Bank, in a conversation on AI with John Koetsier of Inc.

“I never thought we'd be here, where technology and marketing are completely intertwined,” said Johnson, who trained as an engineer and worked at Apple before making the shift to marketing. “Now, with technology, we have some degree of certainty about what is happening and why.”

This sentiment echoes the thoughts of savvy marketers everywhere.

AI Adoption and Marketing Impact in Numbers

Recent research and survey reports reveal the pace at which AI is changing the marketing landscape. For example, according to the Digital Intelligence Briefing, 2018 by Adobe, top-performing companies are more than twice as likely to be using AI for marketing (28 percent versus 12 percent) and Marketers' adoption of AI has grown at a rate of 44 percent since 2017 from the State of Marketing, 5th Edition, Salesforce Research.

Change Is Good

Digital_Resource_logoStevie-winner Digital Resource, which is based in West Palm Beach, Florida, United States, is a full-service Internet marketing agency that works with businesses looking to gain online traction. Started in 2014 by Shay Berman, who was twenty-two at the time, the agency aims to go beyond vanity metrics and to give businesses unfiltered, measurable results. With that goal in mind, they have been quick to explore and to implement AI in their marketing campaigns for clients.

“We're very interested in the introduction of artificial intelligence. While many are afraid AI will take jobs, we're exploring ways we can use it to complement and to optimize our employees,” says Emily Crieghton, a multimedia specialist at Digital Resource. “We're going to see a big uptick in the use of AI. On the flip side, though, we're also going to see companies striving to create more personal connections between businesses, influencers, and online users. So, we'll be working to find a balance between the two.”

Whatever the eventual specifics of AI’s incorporation into business marketing strategies, one thing is clear. Artificial intelligence has arrived, and marketers need to adapt quickly and to harness its potential in order to meet customer expectations and to drive business growth.

This year, Berman won the Silver Stevie® Award in the Entrepreneur of the Year - Advertising, Marketing, & Public Relations category at The seventeenth annual American Business Awards®.

Interested in entering the next American Business Awards?

Request the entry kit here.

Tags: The American Business Awards, artificial intelligence

Changing Workplace Behaviors, One Story at a Time

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Wed, Feb 05, 2020 @ 01:18 PM

Workplace cultures and behaviors play a big part in determining employee motivation and performance. Media Partners is a production company committed to helping clients build strong, productive work environments through their engaging training films on challenging topics.

No one likes working with uncivil or downright toxic people, but even the best and happiest organizations have their share of them. Toxic workplace behavior lowers overall productivity and performance, affects loyalty and motivation, and opens up the organization to lawsuits and public defamation. To actually change employee behavior for the better, companies should consider investing in training people skills.

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A recent Harvard Business School study of more than 60,000 employees clearly demonstrated this need for workplace behavior training. It revealed that uncivil behavior in work environments can cost companies millions. Nearly half the employees subjected to incivility “decreased their work effort” and deliberately spent less time at work. Another 38 percent “intentionally decreased” the quality of their work, a quarter admitted to taking their frustrations out on customers, and over 10 percent resigned from jobs due to uncivil treatment.

Unfortunately, most corporate behavior training programs are too dry and fail to address or to engage employees in a meaningful way.

“Most corporate training is truly bad,” says Karen Edwards, vice-president of marketing for Stevie-winner Media Partners, a learning and development organization based in Bellevue, Washington, United States.

Media Partners_logoMedia Partners produces story-based, cinematic-quality, engaging training films to address challenging topics, such as sexual harassment, bullying, and workplace violence.

“Most people are surprised to know there really is good, engaging training on some of the toughest topics. With our programs, employees don’t yawn, roll their eyes, or fall asleep,” says Edwards.

Media Partners is one of a handful of learning organizations that are leveraging the power of storytelling to create more high-performing, respectful workplaces.

Why Use Storytelling?

Neuroscientist Paul Zak and his team work extensively on the physiological and behavioral effects of storytelling. Through a recent experiment, they concluded that the more a story resonates with a person, the more likely it is to modify behavior.

While the power of storytelling is only being scientifically proven now, it has been used traditionally and culturally as a behavioral modification tool for centuries. Most people grow up on a healthy diet of stories, which consciously or subconsciously shapes the way they interact with others.

“Nature shaped us to be ultra-social, and hence to be sharply attentive to character and plot. We are adapted to physiologically interact with stories,” writes Jay Bhalla in a Scientific American article titled “It Is in Our Nature to Need Stories.”

It makes perfect sense, therefore, that organizations should utilize storytelling to create positive behavioral changes in employees.

Show, Don’t Tell

Learning and development organizations typically deliver training programs either textually or orally. This means employees either have to read through tomes of textual material or to sit through presentations and lectures, many of which they’d rather not attend.

It’s not too difficult, therefore, to see why companies like Media Partners are veering toward video as the training medium of choice. Videos are one of the most compelling ways to engage people, and they are being consumed on a massive scale. Mobile video consumption is rising 100 percent every year, over 50 percent of people watch videos online every day, and almost 60 percent of senior executives say that, if there are both text and video options about a topic on one page, they prefer to watch the video (Forbes).

Media Partners has leveraged video-based storytelling to deliver over 150 original, high-quality training videos that creatively address workplace behavioral issues.

Their unique approach to workplace training led to a Silver Stevie win in the Training Video category at the 17th Annual American Business Awards®, 2019, for their training video titled “Once & for All: Stopping Sexual Harassment at Work.”

Interested in entering The American Business Awards this year? The entry deadline is February 12, 2020. 

Request the entry kit here.

Tags: The American Business Awards, video awards

Moving to the Cloud Is Imperative for Customer Experience Success

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Wed, Jan 29, 2020 @ 03:04 PM

Customer experience (CX) has undergone a huge transformation over the last few years, and that’s largely because technology has led to rapid advances in the way consumers are engaged and served. CXOne, a platform created by NICE inContact, enables brands to adopt new innovations and improve overall operations.

Virtual chatbots, artificial intelligence, cloud-based contact centers, and data-driven personalizations are no longer novelties. Businesses are working overtime to make their processes agile enough to serve customers’ demands for multichannel, real-time service. Does this mean the beginning of the end of legacy customer service systems?

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NICE_inContact_logo“It’s no secret that customer satisfaction leads to customer advocacy and loyalty,” says Heather Hughes, senior corporate communications manager of Stevie-winner NICE inContact, a customer experience company based in Sandy, Utah, United States. “As companies strive to provide excellent CX, we’re seeing advanced technology play a big role in the experience.”

Moving CX to the Cloud: Need and Adoption

Not so long ago, customers needing to resolve issues could only call up business call centers and wait to be assigned to representatives. Today, customers reach out to businesses via a variety of channels, including, but not limited to, social media, voice calls, e-mails, chat, SMS, and video. They’re not happy waiting around either. According to a 2018 Hubspot study, 90 percent of consumers rated an “immediate” response as important or very important when they have customer service queries.

Supporting this multichannel, real-time customer experience demand calls for the quick implementation and seamless integration of new technologies, strategies, and processes into organizations’ existing customer service systems. This entails significant ongoing expenditure and is hardly sustainable, which is why businesses find the alternative of migrating contact centers and their entire CX management to the cloud way more palatable.

According to the State of Customer Experience study, by West Corporation, 39 percent of call centers they surveyed had already migrated to the cloud (as of 2017), and another 53 percent were planning to do so within the next three years (by 2020).

“The speed at which organizations need to perform and to transform continues to accelerate. The ability to adjust course in real time to best serve internal and external audiences is paramount, and it’s best enabled with open cloud platforms,” says Hughes.

CX platforms like CXOne from NICE inContact enable brands to adopt new innovations (e.g., AI and embedded analytics), to deploy service changes quickly, and to consolidate routing and reporting across global operations.

Marrying Technological Innovations and the Human Touch

When businesses think of moving CX to the cloud, investing in virtual chatbots, or personalizing customer interactions, the assumption is the need for human interaction then decreases drastically. That, however, is not true. Technology is simply a suite of tools, and it can’t replace the value and impact of the human touch.

For instance, a January 2019 Forrester study revealed 63 percent of customers are OK with getting service from a chatbot, provided they have the choice to move the conversation to a human if required.

“We believe one-on-one customer interactions have a real and lasting impact on people’s lives,” says Hughes. “It’s a belief that inspires us to relentlessly innovate in the cloud and to find smarter ways to transform one-on-one experiences in order to help contact centers achieve their goals.”

This approach toward customer experience makes CXone from NICE inContact a global leader in cloud contact center software, and it led to a Silver Stevie® win in Product Management & New Products Awards in the Cloud Platform category at the 17th Annual American Business Awards® in 2019.

Interested in entering The American Business Awards this year? The entry deadline is February 12, 2020. 

Request the entry kit here.

Tags: The American Business Awards, Customer Service, artificial intelligence

How to Retain Your Best Employees Without Breaking the Bank

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Thu, Jan 16, 2020 @ 09:00 AM

Companies that consistently rank high on the lists of best places to work often have great work cultures, deep-rooted values, and fantastic employee benefits. They go above and beyond state and federally-mandated benefits and offer their employees generous retirement plans, flexible work hours, tuition reimbursements, ample parental leave, and many other tangible and intangible perks. These companies attract and retain the best talent because they truly care for their employees’ well-being.

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What Do Employees Really Want?

While the long list of benefits top companies provide are great, they might not be feasible for most smaller businesses. In these scenarios, companies should identify the “good-to-have” benefits and then investigate what their employees really need and what issues weigh heaviest on their minds.

According to the PwC Employee Financial Wellness Survey, 2019, financial matters cause employees the most stress—more than all other life stressors (health concerns, relationships, job issues, and more) combined. A staggering 30 percent lie awake at night worrying about money, and 23 percent are less productive at work because of financial worries, according to a US employee benefit trends study.

Also, even though the numbers have improved slightly since last year, almost 40 percent of US households still don’t have enough savings to cover an unexpected $400 expense (Report on the Economic Well-Being of US Households).

Investing in employees’ financial health, therefore, is one of the best ways companies can show they care.

Offer Innovative and Affordable Financial Benefits

With the amount of financial stress they are under, one would think employees would opt for pay raises over perks. Surprisingly, though, almost 80 percent of employees chose perks over pay raises in an employee confidence survey by Glassdoor.

Employer-matching 401K, health insurance, financial planning, and student loan repayment are all excellent financial benefits, but corporations (or even small businesses) can also implement several innovative and unique financial benefits alongside these more traditional options.

One good example is Gusto, a human resources management platform based in San Francisco, California, United States, which allows employees to access the money they’ve already earned for emergencies, without having to wait until payday.

cookie_jar_logo-1Another example of an innovative yet affordable financial benefit is Stevie-winner Cookie Jar by SafetyNet, a financial services company based in Madison, Wisconsin, United States. Cookie Jar combines the simplicity of kitchen-table finances with the sophistication of an employer-matched benefits program by rounding employees’ checking account transactions and credit card purchases to the nearest dollar and then saving the spare change in special accounts. These savings can be automatically matched by the employer, and they can be accessed by the employee whenever an emergency arises.

“Cookie Jar is designed for average workers who need to save but don’t feel they have the financial flexibility to do so,” says Vreni Pigorsch, senior media strategist at Cookie Jar. “A salary and a retirement plan are no longer enough to sustain employees, and employers are taking note. Instead, pet insurances; liquid savings programs, such as Cookie Jar; and other accessible financial tools are being incorporated into employee benefit plans. Employees become happier and more focused at work, and employers are able to attract and to retain great talent by setting their benefit structure apart from their competition.”

Cookie Jar won a Silver Stevie® Award in Product Management & New Product Awards in the Financial Services category at the 2019 American Business Awards.

Interested in winning a Stevie Award in 2020?

Request the entry kit here.

Tags: The American Business Awards, product management, financial awards

Master Agents: The Telecom Players You’ve Never Heard Of

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Wed, Jan 08, 2020 @ 12:35 PM

Without their customers even realizing it, many businesses utilize master agents. A master agent works by using the services of a large number of expert partners, such as IT consultants, systems integrators, and technology service providers. All these entities work under one umbrella to provide seamless service to their clients.

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Technology Distribution Services

Telecommunications systems are vital to the world of business. As the cloud continues to drive convergence, organizations strive to upgrade their outdated systems and to add fresh ones. Master agents are organizations that perform the back-office duties for their subagents. As such, they take care of tasks like order tracking, commission tracking, and troubleshooting. The benefits of using a master agent are the ability to build partnerships, to offer a range of future-proof solutions, and to safeguard clients with clear and knowledgeable advice.

Ideal Tech Solutions

Keeping current with technology can be a tall order, and the benefit of having an umbrella company that’s committed to helping organizations access telecommunications, cable, and cybersecurity vendors can be invaluable. A master agent matches an organization to the ideal solutions that can help grow that business, and it also offers end-to-end support for companies. The joy of using specialists like this is that they take the time to listen to their clients and then match them with the technologies most appropriate for the development of their companies.

A Strong Team

The telecom industry is continuously evolving in order to keep up with developing technology. Growth opportunities are enormous, and master agent technology specialists are well positioned to take advantage of those opportunities. Currently, only 14 percent of technology businesses take advantage of master agents, but by continually developing and updating the services they offer, there is room to increase that number and to help companies keep ahead of the tech curve.

The president of TBI, Inc., Geoff Shepstone, feels the purpose of a master agent is to ensure it consistently provides value to its clients and partners.

TBI_Inc_logo-1“Provide value or perish,” says Shepstone. “We remain the largest privately held master agent in the country due to the fact that every single business unit within TBI provides free value-adds to our partner community.”

When considering partnering with a master agent, it’s essential to employ a company whose ethos matches your own. It should also have a positive organizational culture and motivated employees who enjoy frequent opportunities for continued professional development, keep relationships active, and keep creative business ideas flowing. A top-quality technology business ensures staff members can network with colleagues from all departments and organizational levels as this promotes a constant flow of knowledge and information. This helps build a strong team and provides excellent support to both customers and partners.

Responsiveness and the ability to keep their customers and partners looped in as the technology industry develops helped TBI, Inc. win a Gold Stevie® Award for Marketing Department of the Year and a Bronze Stevie® for Marketer of the Year at The 2019 American Business Awards®.

Interested in winning a Stevie Award in 2020?

Request the entry kit here.

Tags: The American Business Awards, Marketing, telecommunications

Network Security Just Got Easier for SMBs, Schools, and Nonprofits

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Tue, Dec 31, 2019 @ 03:39 PM

Online security is a massive concern for businesses because it's vital to be able to store and to access sensitive data safely. There are myriad security products and services out there, but it's crucial to choose a trustworthy network security solution. The cybersecurity needs of small to medium businesses, schools, and charities (all of which generally have limited tech support) can be complicated. When it comes to finding the most appropriate security solution for an organization operating within a limited budget, the prospect can be a challenge.

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Stevie®-winner Untangle is an innovative cybersecurity company that was founded in 2003 in San Diego, California, United States. It focuses on providing creative network security solutions. The company ethos is built around four central principles: loyalty, excellence, agility, and determination, or “LEAD,” as they’re referred to. By focusing on listening to both customers and staff, Untangle can develop user-friendly ways for smaller companies to protect their data. They do so through easy-to-use products and great follow-up care and support.

Community Minded

untangle_logoAs a company with a social conscience, Untangle is continually on the lookout for ways they can positively impact their communities. This is why they offer Nonprofit Complete. Identical to NG Firewall Complete, Nonprofit Complete is provided to qualifying not-for-profit institutions at a reduced price, and it includes all available updates. Charities, schools, and religious organizations are as vulnerable to cybersecurity breaches as any other institution, and it can be hard for those nonprofits to protect themselves.

Cerebral Palsy of North Jersey (CPNJ), based in New Jersey, United States, recently got in touch with Untangle because they desperately needed an update to their web protection, which was relying on basic firewalls only. CPNJ needed Internet security protection for a large number of locations, including two schools, three adult training centers, fourteen group homes, a twenty-four-unit apartment complex, and an administrative office. Their IT director needed to ensure the children were protected from accidentally accessing inappropriate websites but couldn't find an easy-to-install system that was suitable for their needs.

As a nonprofit, CPNJ needed to balance budget issues with a security solution that was easy to deploy and easy to manage. The charity also needed to solve the problem of filtering inappropriate content for the schools while also allowing the marketing and administrative teams access to a wider range of websites and applications, such as social media pages.

Katie Bochenski, the director of information technology at Cerebral Palsy New Jersey, now has complete visibility and can easily keep an eye out for any problems. CPNJ was pleased they could get the Internet security they needed with a support team on hand to advise, all at an accessible price.

Personalized Service

Untangle prides itself on delivering top-quality enterprise-level protection to every client. This protection is also tailored to clients’ specific needs. For example, Untangle was recently able to help its client Bridger Valley Electric Association in Mountain View, Wyoming, United States, securely connect twelve remote locations. The main challenge was to implement regular vulnerability assessments while proactively blocking and protecting the network from threats. Untangle was able to set up real-time compliance reporting and install layer 7 app filtering to block undesirable websites and apps. The client was looking to securely allow third-party access to the network, so Untangle worked with them to create detailed policies that control and monitor outside access.

Dirk Morris, founder and CPO of Untangle, sees the position of the company in the cybersecurity market very clearly.

“Untangle is one of the only network security solution providers worldwide focused on offering SMBs a dedicated solution that fits their needs and budget restraints. We specifically innovate and create products designed for businesses with limited IT resources, ensuring their networks stay secure, no matter who is connecting where.”

International Award Winning

The company’s passion for accessible Internet security has made them a multi-award winner, most recently receiving several Stevie Awards. As a winner of a Gold Stevie Award in the Network Security Solution category at The 2019 International Business Awards® and a Gold Stevie in the Network Security Solution category at The 2019 American Business Awards®, their commitment to providing a world-class product is clear. The company’s Silver Award in Customer Service Department of the Year at The 2019 American Business Awards also showcases their continued drive to provide an excellent customer experience.

Interested in winning a Stevie Award in 2020?

Request the entry kit here.

Tags: The American Business Awards, new product award, The International Business Awards

Does the Rise of Artificial Intelligence Spell Doom for Young Workers?

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Tue, Dec 24, 2019 @ 09:00 AM

When it comes to the job landscape of the future, much speculation exists about how emerging technologies will affect those just entering the job market. When people ask the specific question of whether artificial intelligence (AI) is going to be a jobs killer, though, it’s important for young people to realize the answer isn’t a simple yes or no. The latest statistics and studies show it’s less about killing or eliminating jobs and more about evolving them.

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How AI Could Affect the Future Job Market

When Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne, two Oxford academics, came out with a prediction in 2013 that a staggering 47 percent of US jobs were at risk of automation by the middle of the 2030s, this issue of AI as a jobs killer became a hot topic of discussion. Studies, surveys, and op-eds began pouring in on the topic, and the subsequent findings were significant.

For example, McKinsey Global Institute found that anywhere between 40 million and 160 million women across the globe would potentially need to change jobs by 2030. Why? The clerical work done by secretaries, bookkeepers, and schedulers—jobs which are done by women 72 percent of the time—are especially susceptible to automation.

The salient part of the study, however, was not that these women would need to change jobs; it was that they would likely be transitioning into higher-skilled roles. In this way, AI wasn’t depriving them of jobs. Instead, it was pushing them into more advanced roles—positions that require the expertise, understanding, and skills only humans possess.

Similarly, the World Economic Forum estimates that automation is on pace to displace 75 million jobs by 2022, but it’s also set to create 133 million new ones by that date. In another study, Gartner predicts 2 million AI-related net new jobs by 2025.

With such a complicated issue, however, many potential factors come into play, and just as many studies predict an overall net loss in jobs. Forrester, for one, estimates a 29 percent loss of jobs by 2030 and only a 13 percent job increase to compensate.

While there isn’t general agreement about the potential number of jobs displaced and then created by AI, one thing does seem to be clear: AI will push people away from largely automated jobs into more advanced positions, and this transition will require the new job force to be increasingly agile and able to learn core skills and adapt to new working models.

The Company-Level Response to These Changes

Just as young people entering the job market should be cognizant of the changes technology will likely have on the professional landscape, companies should understand this dynamic as well. To stay relevant, businesses within the technology industry not only need to embrace AI and its potential but invest in training their workforces (established and incoming) to adapt to these new technologies.

“IT is a highly innovative and changing industry, and because of this, we’re reinventing education for the era of AI,” says Andrea Knoche, a first-line analytics leader for a subgroup of International Business Machines (IBM) that’s based in Ehningen, Germany. “We’re making it a priority to prepare young people around the world for the jobs of tomorrow.”

IBM_logoAs IBM illustrates, success in a changing technology-based landscape is about balancing the adoption of new technology. A company can’t ignore or dismiss new innovations, but it also must prepare its workers to properly harness the power of those tools.

“Our subgroup of IBM is most interested in moving to a cloud-based environment and utilizing big data technologies and analytics strategies,” says Knoche, “but we understand our workers must be trained and prepared to implement those tools into their jobs. When trained properly, employees can make the available technology work for them to increase their efficiency and effectiveness.”

IBM earned a Bronze Stevie Award in the Information Technology Team of the Year category at The 2020 American Business Awards®. They also won several awards at The 2020 International Business Awards®, including a Gold Stevie for Company of the Year - Business or Professional Services - Large.

Interested in winning a Stevie Award in 2020?

Request the entry kit here.

Tags: The American Business Awards, company of the year, The International Business Awards, artificial intelligence

In Business, You Get What You Give

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Wed, Dec 18, 2019 @ 09:15 AM

Access to capital helps businesses create jobs and generate economic impact. Solely getting access to funds, however, doesn’t guarantee advancement for small businesses.

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As any entrepreneur knows, starting and maintaining a business can be an uphill battle, especially when it involves applying for a loan. If disapproved for the necessary capital, you can quickly feel stuck, and many face this common problem each day. Large banks deny nearly three-quarters of small business loan applications, and even small banks reject about half, according to the July 2019 Biz2Credit Small Business Lending Index.

Many companies are looking to address this issue, including Stevie-winner Lendio, which is based out of South Jordan, UT, United States. This company cuts through the noise by offering free online services to help business owners find the right business loan within minutes.

Lendio was a Gold Stevie® Award winner for Customer Service Team of the Year in the Financial Services category at the 2019 American Business Awards®.

Interested in winning a Stevie Award in 2020?

Request the entry kit here.

lendio_logoLendio created a platform for thousands of loan brokers, establishing the nation’s largest small business loan marketplace in the process. With hundreds of loan products from a variety of banks and specialty lenders, Lendio has become a one-stop shop for thousands of business owners looking for capital to start, to operate, and to grow businesses.

Through data-driven algorithms that more accurately screen borrowers, the Lendio platform allows a small business owner to fill out a single application in minutes and then receive offers from multiple lenders.

How to Help Yourself by Helping Others

Lendio is, by no means, the only company looking to ease the relationship between borrower and lender in corporate America. Many capital firms exist, such as Berkshire Partners, Cortect Group, and Frontier Capital.

However, the laser focus of Lendio on customer satisfaction drives thousands of five-star reviews and earns the company many repeat customers (the company’s repeat rate is over 50 percent.) Lendio prides itself on being a small business advocate, carefully vetting lenders to help customers secure the best loan available. In these ways, Lendio serves as a representative of the new wave of companies aiming to ease the loan process for small businesses.

Advancing community involvement is another pillar of the Lendio ethos, and it’s been shown this is a great way for any organization to build relationships, to boost visibility and brand awareness, and to appeal to customers. In fact, over 80 percent of US consumers consider corporate social responsibility when deciding what services and products to buy and where to buy them from.

Lendio and other companies understand how much community involvement benefits both the community at large and their own financial interests.

These healthy exchanges between local communities and businesses can also inform company values, which Lendio and many other successful ventures don’t view as something managers simply hang on the wall. Whether you’re looking to enter the investment space or you need to take a hard look at your current company, here are six tips from Lendio you can use to evaluate your company culture.

  1. Success starts with people and managers; invest in training them so they can reach their full potential. Formulate initiatives, such as remote work autonomy and unlimited paid time off, so people feel management's trust in them.
  1. Unite around one common goal: to help fuel the American dream. Managers should ensure every employee understands his or her role in boosting small businesses and, in turn, the economy.
  1. Be the CEO of your job. Managers should ensure every team member owns his or her job, giving employees the support they need to go above and beyond in order to deliver results. Outline weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly goals that align with company initiatives that help drive the business forward in measurable ways.
  1. Be humble and hungry. All employees, including management, should check their egos at the door.
  1. Like a little competition—or a lot. Play to win, whether it’s challenging a coworker to some Ping-Pong or getting that next loan finalized. Managers can use monthly sales competitions to keep teams motivated. Company-wide flag football games and holiday-themed eating contests keep the interdepartmental competition friendly and fun.
  1. Prioritize communication. Management should believe that candor, transparency, and communication accelerate success. Employees should then participate in weekly one-on-ones with managers to facilitate this openness. Monthly town hall meetings with the CEO can keep every team member in sync with company goals and initiatives.

These principles help Lendio motivate employees to continually improve and to adapt to the changing landscapes of business and life. To find values that work for your company, determine what makes your company unique, acknowledge potential areas of improvement, and then create your company principles based on those findings.

Tags: The American Business Awards, Customer Service Team of the Year, Customer Service

How Experiential Leadership Training Builds Better Workplace Culture

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Wed, Dec 11, 2019 @ 04:38 PM

If your manager mentions a team-building and leadership training day, do you inwardly groan? Maybe you see it as a fun day out with colleagues but one that, ultimately, has no long-term benefits. Despite how employees often feel, though, research shows that if you take part in a professionally developed facilitated leadership experience program, the results can benefit you both at work and on a personal level.

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Soft Skills

If you've been part of an organized leadership experience before, it's tempting to be skeptical. However, you need to start considering the benefits of soft skills to leaders. Think about the benefits of enhanced communication skills, the bonds of shared experience, and the engagement of employees. All these can help every level of leadership and management improve strategies and techniques.

Communication

Too often leaders’ communication styles are routine and task focused. With leadership building and team away days, though, leaders are thrown into new situations that challenge this status quo. For example, say most of your office communication is done via email. If you’re put in a situation where you must spend time communicating verbally, this can be revealed as an area of necessary improvement.

After the leadership experience, you’ll be required to debrief your team and recap the day. This is an opportunity to ask important questions. Are your instructions clear enough? Are all the leaders giving the same message? Is there room for discussion in the action phase of the task? Through this process, you’ll also discover what your team already does well.

Dynamic Challenges

If you choose a dynamic, action-based leadership development day, you could find yourself performing a historical reenactment. This tests your mettle against great leaders of their times, such as Winston Churchill or Abraham Lincoln. Alternately, you could end up spearheading a virtual rocket launch.

Whatever the situation, you will have to lead your team, harnessing all their skills to complete the challenge in the time frame given.

This method of experiential, hands-on learning connects concepts like team building, leadership, and innovation. Traditional leadership education still has its place, but it can be reinforced for your whole team through an enjoyable out-of-office endeavor.

Morale Boost

Whether you’re a new team or you just want to build on the rapport you already have, getting out and completing an action challenge builds trust. This then boosts employee engagement and morale and fosters collaboration when you are back at your desks.

Fresh Perspective

Maybe you feel you need to reboot your enthusiasm for leadership and management, or perhaps you’re a brand-new leader. Whatever the case, it's always helpful to gain a fresh perspective. You will learn how the leadership principles of the Battle of Waterloo or the mentality required when coaching an Olympic team relate to your own experiences, and you can then see how to apply those lessons in your field.

Dick Richardson experienced this firsthand as his plane came crashing down over New York, United States. From his airplane seat on what later became known as the “Miracle on the Hudson” flight, he witnessed the importance of having a well-trained team.

Experience-to-Lead_logoRichardson went on to co-found Experience to Lead, which focuses on experiential learning in business. The company recently won a Gold Stevie Award for Entrepreneur of the Year in the Business and Professional Services category at the American Business Awards®.

When you’re planning your next training day, consider the benefits of what getting into the field and trying your hand at an experiential challenge can do for your team. Don't stop at the away day, though; make these opportunities to connect with your staff part of your workplace culture.

Interested in winning a Stevie Award in 2020?

Request the entry kit here.

Tags: The American Business Awards, entrepreneur of the year, leadership

Community Involvement Rewards Everyone

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Wed, Dec 04, 2019 @ 09:00 AM

It’s essential in today’s world to try to be part of something bigger than yourself, and this applies not only to individuals but to institutions. If your specialty is helping clients solve financial issues, for example, then you are particularly well placed to help out by problem-solving in the wider community.

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Many big companies have organized programs that encourage their employees to consider volunteering, and they facilitate these acts of service by giving their employees time to do so. Businesses find this experience of giving back continues outside of work hours as well, which creates an ongoing, committed relationship with the given charity or nonprofit. The relationship of the company to the community at large then often becomes an integral part of the corporate culture.

Volunteering Helps Company Culture

Some businesses tend start their volunteer work on a small scale. For example, some companies employ industry education, which helps other professionals excel in their respective fields. This sense of social responsibility often fosters a desire to do even more, which can lead staff members to give their time regularly to local charities.

Stevie-winner Wolters Kluwer Lien Solutions, which is based in Houston, Texas, United States, is one business that describes their experience of volunteering as enlightening and something that has given them fulfillment and made their company feel like a real family with a shared purpose.

A Perfect Match

Wolters-Kluwer_logoThe Lighthouse, a charity that is a member of the United Way of Greater Houston, Texas, United States, helps over seven thousand blind and partially sighted people every year by giving members the tools they need to live independently. When Wolters Kluwer Lien Solutions was looking for a place to volunteer, they came across this local charity, and it seemed like a perfect match. Both were looking for a long-term, meaningful relationship, and that has undoubtedly come to fruition.

Since 1939 the Lighthouse has provided social activities for the blind and visually impaired in the Houston, Texas, United States, area, and they love to welcome volunteers. By providing several volunteers to assist with craft sessions and reading activities during the working day, Wolters Kluwer Lien Solutions proves an excellent fit with the Lighthouse. The partnership ensures the charity can provide sessions in the daytime, which is when their clients need them most.

Giving Back to the Community

Meeting new people and getting a unique perspective into the local community through the staff, volunteers, and service users at the Lighthouse is just one example of how Wolters Kluwer Lien Solutions is committed to supporting its staff members’ communities. The work doesn’t stop with the Lighthouse, though. Employees have also volunteered at a wide range of other nonprofit organizations, such as Children of Military Members in Tampa, Florida, United States; the Nevada Children’s Hospital in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States; and the Tulane Health System in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States.

Raja Sengupta, executive vice-president and general manager at Wolters Kluwer Lien Solutions, is proud of how his team embraces the volunteering mind-set.

“The employees are keen to deepen their relationships with the communities in which they live and to take part in projects where they can get to know and help others,” says Sengupta.

This can-do attitude earned Wolters Kluwer Lien Solutions several Stevie Awards in 2019. For its iLien Motor Vehicle solution, the company earned a Silver Stevie®️ Award in the Financial Services category, as well as a Gold Stevie Award in the Legal Information Solution category at the American Business Awards®️.

Wolters Kluwer received three Silver Stevies for Female Executive of the Year - Business Services - More Than 2,500 Employees on behalf of Jennifer Cronin, VP of Customer Service; Female Executive of the Year - Business Services - 11 to 2,500 Employees on behalf of Alyza Tarmohamed, General Manager; and Most Innovative Woman of the Year - Technology on behalf of Karen Abramson, CEO at the 2019 Stevie Awards for Women in Business.

Interested in winning a Stevie Award in 2020?

Request the entry kit here.

Tags: The American Business Awards, 2019 Stevie Awards for Women in Business, financial awards

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