Thursday, November 29, 2012

Inside Out - A Culture of Transparency

Image courtesy of opensourceway
I've blogged about trust several times in the past. In those posts, I attributed things like integrity, consistency, honesty, and predictability to trust and as drivers of trust. I've also blogged about transparency. But I've never written about the two of them together, so here goes.

On Monday, I was the guest host for the weekly #CXO Chat on Twitter. If you've never participated, you really should. The topic this week was The Proactive Customer Experience, and one of the questions we discussed was: "Transparency is the competitive differentiator that drives trust: agree or disagree?"

I am in agreement. Transparency is about telling the truth. It's about not making misleading claims or hiding behind the truth. Openly communicating about how you do business means you're not hiding anything. Of course, all of this openness leads to accountability, as well. Being truthful and open creates trust.

A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity. -Dalai Lama

We talk a lot about an "outside in" approach when it comes to customer experience, but this is an "inside out" approach in a couple of ways. Yea, inside out, as in turning what's happening inside the organization to the outside. Let me explain.

First, I'm talking about creating a culture of transparency - transparency with employees first. When employees become accustomed to this approach to leadership (leaders must model the behavior they desire) and to doing business, then they can work with customers in the same vein. As I mentioned in a post a couple weeks ago, it's important for employees to have clarity around the company's purpose, the brand promise, and around how you do business, in general. I'll share with you a personal story in my next post about how transparency creates employee engagement, as well.

In the meantime, a culture of transparency is one where people:
  • are honest, truthful, and candid
  • appreciate open and honest communication and information sharing from the top down and from the bottom up
  • acknowledge when there are problems rather than hiding them
  • work together to fix those problems
  • are held accountable
  • are OK with hearing things they may not want to hear (but need to hear)
  • have tools to support and facilitate transparency
  • act with integrity
For a summary of some interesting research on transparency and trust conducted among employees, check out Greater Transparency Is the Key to Building Greater Trust.

Second, this new culture easily translates and lends itself to a transparent relationship with customers, as well. Companies that share information so that customers can make informed decisions about their products, brands, employment, etc. are more easily trusted. It allows customers to make informed decisions about whether they want to have a relationship with a company.

I'm reminded of a recent ad campaign by S.C. Johnson and their site WhatsInsideSCJohnson. Through this site, they are on a quest to share information about what's inside their products so that you can make better decisions about what to buy. If you look around their corporate website, you see that they adhere to Supply Chain Transparency, as well. And, you see that "Integrity is part of our DNA. It's not a fad or a phrase. It's been our family way since 1886. From the ingredients in our products, to the way we run our factories, we're committed to working every day to do what's right for people, the planet, and generations to come." Can't argue with that. (If you work for S.C. Johnson, please leave a comment below and let me know if these are truly words the culture lives by. Is the culture as transparent as their product ingredients?)

Companies display transparency with customers in many ways, including the ones listed above for the culture. Transparent companies are transparent about what they are doing and how they do it, including:
  • Policies 
  • Pricing
  • Support
  • Governance
  • Social responsibility 
  • Hiring practices
  • Products, product issues
  • Financials
  • etc.
Yes, this is a lofty list. But companies need to start somewhere. Some low-hanging fruit for companies to start with that can immediately impact the customer experience includes transparency about policies, support, products, product issues, culture, and hiring practices.

Transparent companies are an open book. It's not easy getting there. It doesn't happen overnight. But a great example is Zappos. It doesn't get much more "open book" than that.

Some will argue that transparency makes it more difficult to do business, but it should really make it easier. (How can you argue with the Zappos example?) When in doubt, do the right thing. Everyone is watching. When in doubt, remember that you're in business for your customers. The customer is your True North. 

If you question transparency, just take a look at how social media is driving it, for better or worse. Insiders (current and former employees) share the inner workings of their (current or former) employers for the rest of the world to hear about. The cat is out of the bag. The train is on the track and can't be stopped. Get on it, or better yet, get ahead of it.

Do companies need to share all information? No. Let's be smart about this. There are certain things that obviously cannot be shared. But when it comes to your customers, there are things that can and must be shared in order to build trust and to improve the customer experience. Do the right thing.

Truth never damages a cause that is just. -Mahatma Gandhi

Update: As I finished writing this post last night, I received's email with their 10 Crucial Consumer Trends for 2013. Check out #9 (warning: nudity), which also linked to their Flawsome Trend Briefing. Flawsome (i.e., why brands that behave more humanly, including showing their flaws, will be awesome) is definitely worth the read.

Transparency doesn't mean sharing every detail, it means always providing the context for our decisions. -Simon Sinek

Friday, November 23, 2012

Are You Ready for Black Friday?

Are you ready for Black Friday? Well, I guess it's a little late if you're not!

And that's the point of this post. Why do you have to "get ready?"

I have seen a bunch of articles over the last couple of weeks, as I do every year around this time, that outline tips to help retailers prepare for Black Friday, to help them offer the best service possible to their customers.

But why "get ready?" Why all the fuss for this one particular day? Why listen to all these tips to help you get through today? Why not just do it? Do you think the folks at Zappos are reading those articles about Black Friday customer service tips?

If your organization is customer-focused, and you are working to improve the customer experience every day, today is no different. Consistency in the experience is key, regardless of the time of day or the time of year.

If, over the last year(s), you've consistently...
  • Stuck to your brand promise
  • Hired the right people for your organization
  • Allowed employees to do the right thing
  • Built a people-centric culture
  • Learned about your customers
  • Listened to your customers
  • Measured what matters
  • and all the other principles of building a great customer experience
...then you know what to do. Every day. And Black Friday is no exception.

Excellence is a habit. -Aristotle

On the morning after Thanksgiving here in the US, a special note to you...
Thank you so much for supporting me for the last year, for reading my blog, and for sharing my posts with others. I appreciate you. Without you, there would be no need for me to write, no point to sharing my thoughts in this blog. I hope you continue to read what I write. And my promise to you is that I'll continue to keep it fresh and write about interesting things.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Customer Experience Lessons from Common Sense

Whatever happened to common sense? Sometimes (no, many times) I really wonder.

And sometimes I think we put so much thought into this thing called "customer experience" (and "employee experience"), when it's really pretty simple.

It's really just common sense.

Common sense is defined by various dictionaries as...
  • "Sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts." [Merriam-Webster]
  • "Good sense and sound judgment in practical matters." 
  • "Sound practical judgment that is independent of specialized knowledge, training, or the like." []
  • "The basic level of practical knowledge and judgment that we all need to help us live in a reasonable and safe way." [Cambridge Dictionary]
Synonyms: discretion, levelheadedness, prudence, wisdom, horse sense.

Here's the problem. "Common" would suggest that a lot of people have it. But it's not so common anymore. And if we called upon this particular "sense" more often, I think there would be a lot less customer angst about transacting with certain companies.

We put a lot of time and energy into outlining these grand strategies to execute on brand promises and to devise great organizational cultures, but if company founders and leaders stepped back for a moment and just thought about...
  • Why are we in business?
  • Who is paying the bills?
  • Who is keeping our customers happy?
  • How do we ensure those folks (employees) are happy?
  • Are we doing the right thing (by both customers and employees)?
  • Does this (decision) make sense? (If in doubt, refer back to the first bullet.)
... I think they'd be a lot better off. (And I'd be out of a job. :-))

Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people. -W.C. Fields              

I had a great conversation with an industry colleague last week. We talked about how customer experience would be much easier if each of us involved in delivering a great customer experience thought about this: "We are humans. We are the customer. We are the consumer. Would this be OK for me if I was on the other side of the counter? Based on what I know and feel, does this make sense?" I realize this brings into play The Golden Rule, and I'll do a post on that soon, but I also think this is the essence of common sense.

Common sense is not something that can be trained or that can be learned in school. It's thinking about your own experiences, what you already know. How you feel. Is it the right thing to do? And when I call to ask you why on Earth, when I travel with my two young kids, you think it's OK for the three of us to be scattered around the plane rather than sitting together, your response is, "OMG. I'm a mom, too. I think that's crazy. Let me fix that for you right away." And then not charge me $75 to do it.

Wouldn't it be nice if there was a little more common sense in our daily interactions with companies.

Victor Hugo said it best when he said, "Common sense is in spite of, not the result of, education."

Friday, November 16, 2012

What Do Great Brands Do?

Have you ever wondered, "What makes a great brand? What do these companies do differently? What will it take for my company to be a great brand that customers want to buy from and employees want to work for?" I'm about to let you in on their secrets.

Earlier this week, Denise Lee Yohn presented at the inaugural SoCal CXPA Local Networking Event (for which I am a lead, along with Jen Maldonado and Kim Proctor); the title of her presentation was "What Great Brands Do." First though, if you've never heard Denise speak, or if you don't follow her blog and her tweets, you should. Here's a recap of her presentation.

There are good brands, and there are great brands. The difference between the two is the difference between success and failure. It's really that stark. If you're a great brand, you reap so many more benefits, including:
  • Increased sales
  • Higher profit margins
  • Lower costs
  • Greater customer loyalty
  • Higher market valuation
You say, "Yay. I want that for my business!" Awesome. Read on. Here's what great brands do.

Great brands start inside. They focus on a sustainable brand identity. Defined values and a strong culture are key. And their extraordinary cultures are expressed through extraordinary customer experiences. Zappos is a great example.

Great brands sacrifice the sacred. They challenge the way things have always been done. They stay focused on their purpose. They give up profit and growth if it ruins their brand equity or alienates customers. They favor a long-term view over short-term gains. Denise mentioned Southwest Airlines as an example of a brand that adheres to this principle.

Great brands avoid selling products. I love this. They don't sell products; they build relationships. They seek an emotional connection with their customers. Nike was the example here. Think about Nike's advertising (Find Your Greatness) during the Olympics versus official sponsor Adidas' ads.

Great brands sweat the small stuff. Every touchpoint matters. Every detail is important. Everything they do and say impacts their customers. Denise gave REI and Chick-fil-A as examples.

Great brands never have to give back. They create shared value, value for all stakeholders: customers, employees, communities, business partners. The company good and the public good are aligned. They don't take from one hand and give to the other. This isn't limited to just green initiatives; two examples Denise gave were Starbucks' Create Jobs for USA initiative and Patagonia's Footprint Chronicles.

In the long term, by committing to your brand identity and staying committed, that’s how you build a great brand. - Denise Lee Yohn

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Customer Experience Lessons from a Girl's Best Friend

Image courtesy of Pixabay
I know a little bit about diamonds. Like, they would look pretty on my finger, around my neck, or dangling from my ears! After all, they are a girl's best friend.

OK. I confess. I don't know much about diamonds, but I'm familiar with the 4 Cs: color, cut, clarity, and carat; some have added a fifth C, though it seems to vary by source: either certificate, confidence, or cost. The Cs define a diamond's overall quality.

While my knowledge of diamonds is limited, I do know how those Cs relate to the customer experience. Shall we?

Let's start with the original 4 Cs.

Color: The most pure and perfect diamond is completely transparent. The less color, the more rare.
Transparency in any people-centric, customer-centric culture is vital. It's important that leadership is transparent with employees. This fosters a culture of communication, openness, and trust - all of which are important for employee engagement. Transparency with customers leads to much of the same. It's huge for building long-lasting relationships.

Interestingly enough, what we're learning about businesses today aligns with the last sentence of the "color" definition. The less color, the more rare. Transparency seems to be a rarity in today's organizations.

Cut: Not the shape but the proportions to which the stone was polished. The cut impacts a diamond's brilliance. A master craftsman is necessary to bring out the sparkle and beauty; his work determines the value of the stone.
Just like a well-cut diamond has the greatest brilliance and value, a well-planned customer experience journey will yield the greatest results. Solid leadership, a defined purpose, cross-functional involvement, a customer-centric/people-centric culture, the right people, a well-thought-out customer journey map, and solid execution are cornerstones to your organization's customer experience brilliance.

This is the only one of the four Cs that is manipulated by a human; the rest are all qualities of the stones themselves. So to that point, having the right people in place to deliver on a well-designed plan allows the organization to deliver the value that customers come to expect.

Clarity: Defined as internal characteristics, structural quality/imperfections, surface blemishes. The fewer the imperfections, the more brilliant and valuable the diamond.
On the surface, without even looking at how this term is defined in the diamond world, I think it's important for every employee in the organization to have/experience clarity when it comes to understanding the company's purpose and brand promise.

Beyond that, an organization's internal characteristics and structural (im)perfections define who it is and what the culture is like. They both need to be addressed. Unlike a diamond, this can be manipulated by a master craftsman, too. And like a diamond, the fewer imperfections, the better.

Surface blemishes on a diamond are comparable to how your frontline interacts with your customers. These don't have to be blemishes, at all, which has a negative connotation. Fix the things on the inside, and the outside will shine.

Carat: A unit of measurement or mass; there are 100 points in a carat.
Decide your key metrics based on your most important business outcomes. Make sure everyone understands what's important to the success of the business and then measure against it. And, measure your organization's performance through the various voices I'll refer to as VOX, i.e., where X = customers, partners, employees, the market, the business. Analyze for insights. And do something about it.

What gets measured gets done. -Tom Peters

The best way to summarize the lessons from the 4 Cs is: transparency, a well-planned journey, a great culture with great people, and metrics are important to a successful customer experience that conveys the principles of trust, value, and quality to your employees and your customers.

An interesting thing to note is that Cut is the only C that requires human intervention to ensure the beauty of the stone. As you know, this is unlike the customer experience, where human interaction is required in every facet of the relationship, whether behind the scenes or on the frontline. Your people are critical to the success of the customer experience. I'll keep pushing that message; it's an important one!

Let's take a quick look at those optional 5th Cs to see where they come into play.

Certificate: The certificate is a grading report and an assurance of quality. It comes from an independent third party; it's an outside opinion about the quality of the stone.
Your outside opinion comes from your customers, non-customers, partners, and the market. Those voices, those opinions are critical to understanding, facilitating, and validating your efforts to improve the customer experience. But don't forget: through online reviews, word of mouth, etc., your customers have access to outside opinions about your products and services, too.

Confidence: Diamonds can be/are a huge investment. Someone purchasing a diamond needs to be informed about, and confident in, his decision about where to buy and what to buy.
The same is true for your customers. They come to you because they are prepared, informed, and confident in the products and services you offer. Never give them reason to question their decisions or to doubt their trust in you.

Cost: The higher the quality of diamond, the greater the money that can be commanded.
Same goes for the quality of the products and services you provide. It's been shown that customers are willing to pay a premium for high-quality goods and services. Customers will pay to receive better service (though they shouldn't have to). Offer the quality, value, and experience that customers are looking for.

Quality in a product or service is not what the supplier puts in. It is what the customer gets out and is willing to pay for. A product is not quality because it is hard to make and costs a lot of money, as manufacturers typically believe. This is incompetence. Customers pay only for what is of use to them and gives them value. Nothing else constitutes quality. -Peter Drucker

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Three-Legged Stool of Customer-Centricity

How would you answer this question that was posed to me about a blog post I wrote recently?

I've been sharing a lot of customer experience lessons from a variety of different events, people, and angles in my "Customer Experience Lessons from..." series. A couple of weeks ago, after posting Customer Experience Lessons from the Great Food Truck Race, I got a question from the team at Angel: "Which of your CX tips from the Great Food Truck Race is the most important?"

That's a fair question. And, honestly, it's a tough one to answer with just one "most important" item. I'm not sure that there is just one lesson or aspect from that post that is most important. At the very least, I could have answered with two, and at the most, I'd need to give my top three tips. I chose to go with three. I believe the lessons I've chosen cover the main criteria to ensure the organization is focused on the customer experience.

For us, our most important stakeholder is not our stockholders, it is our customers. We're in business to serve the needs and desires of our core customer base. -John Mackey

My 3-Legged Stool of Customer-Centric Organizations
As I mentioned, I chose the three most important lessons from that post to answer Angel's question. The three I chose (text straight from that post) were (and I'd put them in this order):

Image: neil cummings
Know your brandKnow your purpose. Be true to who you are. Make sure everyone in the organization understands who you are and lives and breathes it every day.

Hire the right people. It's so important that you hire people who are friendly, passionate about what they/you do, want the business to succeed, and will do whatever it takes to make that happen.

Know your customers. You can't meet their needs until you understand who they are and what their needs are. Be aware of the fact that customers in different locations, geographies, cultures, etc. have different needs. Be prepared to address them.

That's it. Purpose, employees, and customers.

I supposed if you forced me to choose just one, it would be to know your purpose. Your purpose is your guiding light, your North Star. Your people are focused and driven by that guiding light. Your culture, your hiring practices, your customer experience design, your customers, your leadership, everything is aligned to that purpose.

What do you think? Which one - or three - would you have chosen?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Big Data & Survey Data: Like Peanut Butter & Jelly

Image courtesy of Chapendra
Today I am pleased to present a guest post by Sarah Simon.

Big data = customer behavior; survey data = customer sentiment.  Combine the two for comprehensive customer insights to drive your informed customer experience strategy.

Introduction: Why the fuss?
Lately, there have been a lot of skirmishes in the unnecessary battle between survey data (customer sentiment) and big data (customer behavior).

Those on the far corner of the big data camp argue that the survey will and should die a slow, painful death and that big data is the insight mode of the future.  Surveys are prone to bias of all sorts (non-response, compliance-bias, inside-out bias); customers hate surveys; and surveys are just so… 2000s.

Those on the far corner of the survey camp argue that big data is messy, overwhelming and lacking in statistical validity.  Databases full of CRM nonsense, mountains of transaction records, tsunamis of social media chatter. One might as well bring a soothsayer to the C-suite to read the tea leaves.

Evolution: A lot has changed!
The last few years have seen an evolution of both big data and survey data in response to business insights needs as well as the availability of changing technologies and customer preferences.

Big Data
Years ago, I worked as an in-house market researcher for a software company when every business model worth its salt was prefaced with “eTHIS” and “eTHAT.”  Somewhere, we got the idea to “mine” our customer database for insight.  Fumbling with SQL queries and SPSS Syntax statements, I struggled along with the database management team to try in vain to pull data from the system in a usable format.  We didn’t call this “data mining;” we didn’t call it “big data.” This was 2001, and we were just trying to pull something (anything!) out of the database jungle to give to marketing to guide decision making.  Frustrated with the limited technological tools at our disposal and short on bandwidth (and with no clear goals guiding our efforts), we gave up before the initiative yielded a single nugget of useful information.  And to think…this was well before big data had swelled to the much more massive size (and growing!) of today.

I like to think that today’s analyst has available far better tools to extract, organize, and analyze large volumes of data, and that such efforts benefit from stronger business case support and business objectives guidance.

Survey Data
Surveys used to be much more ad hoc and freestanding in nature; even tracking studies, as we called them, were primarily ad hoc studies that just happened to take place more than once for trending purposes.  Traditional market research leveraged sophisticated sampling plans of the general population in the broader “market.” To survey one’s customers was considered a “poor man’s” approach to research – a money-saving compromise that would result in myopic survey results biased by the fact that these respondents already decided to do business with you. 

A lot has changed, as many companies have come to rely less on traditional market studies and emphasize Voice of Customer feedback gathering.  We are now regularly building customer feedback architectures – coordinated, comprehensive sentiment-gathering machines comprised of multiple surveys mapped to the business model.  To mirror this service model, a foundation is set with a broad relationship assessment tool, augmented by post-event surveys (triggered by the occurrence of a specific transaction) and lifecycle surveys (triggered by a customer reaching a particular milestone in his relationship with the company).  Feedback mechanisms like these are typically “evergreen,” or ongoing throughout the year, and because we are speaking with customers, we have more data about their relationship with our company than we would with a “general sample” respondent from a purchased list.  These customer insights systems become living, breathing strategies feeding an ongoing effort to optimize the experience your customer has with your company. 

Image courtesy of BreatheLA
Harmonious Outcome
The evolution that has occurred means the time is right to combine customer sentiment data (survey results) with customer behavioral data (“big data”) to turbo-charge customer insight and customer experience initiatives.  Relying on just one of these sources of data means missing out on tactical calls to action and service recovery opportunities (through data-triggered alerts) as well as missing broader patterns that can be analyzed to guide product and service strategy and improvement.

Combing the two data sources empowers you to align customer sentiment with customer behavior, uncover more meaningful trends, and more accurately predict behavioral outcomes.  This opportunity is one I would have given an arm and a leg to have 12 years ago, as I floundered through disjointed customer data and survey results.  You have the chance today to combine customer sentiment with customer behavioral data to gain optimal insights to drive customer experience strategy – why settle for just one or the other?

Sarah Simon is a career insights professional with 16 years of experience in the feedback industry. Specialties include VoC architecture, journey mapping, developing linkages to business performance, reduction of customer defection, results analysis and communication, with expert survey design skills.  She is the survivor of a botched early-generation "big data mining" operation and is happy to live to tell about it.

Friday, November 2, 2012

An Interview with Diana Oreck of Ritz-Carlton

Today I am pleased to share with you a guest post by Ashley Furness.

Before anyone can land a job at Apple, hiring managers have to ask themselves one question: “Will this candidate offer a Ritz-Carlton level of service?”

It's no coincidence that one of the nation's most successful companies models its service after the luxury hotel brand. Ritz-Carlton boasts among the highest return customer and employee retention rates in the industry. Their practices are so sought after that Ritz-Carlton even launched a public training Leadership Center for executives.

Diana Oreck, VP of Global
Learning & Leadership Center
Recently, I had a chance to interview the vice president for that education center, Diana Oreck. Below is an edited transcript from our conversation.

One of the Ritz-Carlton Gold Standards is "anticipate unexpressed needs." Why is this important to customer service success and how do you train employees to recognize and act on unexpressed needs?
It’s very important because legendary service is about surprise and delight. It’s not robotic, it’s not scripted. The way we teach it is through a class called “Radar On-Antenna Up.” We actually provide scenarios. We have a daily lineup everyday in every [Ritz-Carlton] hotel around the world. And there are three different shifts, so there’s a daily lineup three times a day. We have something called “Radar on, Antenna Up, and Focus.” One of the scenarios might be a young couple comes into the restaurant with a two-year-old baby. What should you do? Then we discuss, you bring a high chair, you bring crayons, you bring our stuffed lion, Roarie. We have hundreds of scenarios like that. Because we know that it’s going to be through the unique, memorable, and  personable experiences that our customers are going to be fully delighted and engaged.

What sort of questions can you ask someone to find out if they’re caring and can anticipate customer wants and needs?
What you want to make sure you do is not ask "yes or no" questions. You’re not going to say, “OK Ashley, are you a caring person?” Because obviously, you’re just going to say "Yes," right? So what we do is we ask you in the interview, “Ashley, give us a specific example of how you’ve cared for someone in the last month. Give me a specific example of anticipatory service that you have extended.”

Ritz-Carlton puts a lot of emphasis on successful new hire orientation. Why is this important for customer service training?  
A lot of companies have a notion that employee orientation really needs to be a data dump of the company, statistics, and who’s doing what. It really isn’t. What we are looking for at orientation is passion. We want to make sure that the new person feels they made the right decision in joining us. It’s all about them, and it’s all about culture. We feel that orientation needs to be significant emotional experience.

Is this also something that helps with customer service employee satisfaction and retention?
Yes, it’s about engagement. I will give you an example. The lodging industry as a whole tends to run a 60-70% turnover in a year. Here at Ritz-Carlton we run in the low 20s. It’s a huge difference.

What metrics or qualitative data does Ritz-Carlton use to measure customer service training success? How do you collect this data?
Oh yes, we poll our guests once a month. The Gallup organization sends out surveys to 38% of guests that stayed the month before. It’s done randomly with the hope that we will get 8-10% return. We live and die by that guest engagement number. This is the sum of responses to about 30 questions, including: How likely is that guest to recommend Ritz-Carlton? Were they delighted and satisfied with their stay? If there was a problem, did we take care of their problem? We know that, if that guest engagement number goes up, our training programs have been successful.

What are the biggest mistakes companies make when training customer service staff?
They are not being specific enough. They’ll say things like “Give great service.” Well that’s nice, but people need a roadmap. Never assume anything. Make sure you have your service standards written down, and allow people to observe you in action. Don’t assume that their mothers or fathers or previous employers taught them what really great service looks like. Have a written service strategy.

I think a lot of companies view customer service more as an expense rather than something that generates revenue. It’s just something you have to have, not necessarily something you want to do. But I don’t feel that Ritz-Carlton feels that way. Why?  
We have data pretty much down to the penny. We know that fully-engaged guests are spending more nights in a Ritz-Carlton every year than any other guest. There is a direct correlation to profitability. I can assure you we would not be spending the kind of money we do on training and reinforcement if we didn’t think it was going to show us the money.

Ashley Furness is a CRM Market Analyst for Software Advice. She has spent the last six years reporting and writing business news and strategy features. Her work has appeared in myriad publications including Inc., Upstart Business Journal, the Austin Business Journal and the North Bay Business Journal. Before joining Software Advice in 2012, she worked in sales management and advertising.