Spring 2010
Vol 3, No 2
iVision Human Resources
quarterly newsletter

Spring is finally upon us and I'm sure many of you are thinking through how are we doing this year so far and what else can we do to make 2010 profitable and successful.

In this newsletter, we wanted to focus on client satisfaction and retention. Sherrie Kronforst (new to iVision) has had a successful career within human resources, operations and organizational development. With these experiences, she has developed a philisophy and strategy that ensures happy employees which in turn creates happy clients. As you read her article "The Heart of Service", I imagine you will nod your head as I did when I listened to her philosophy.  It's simple and will ring true to your business.
Also this quarter The Cypress Group has contributed an article to iQ reagrding Case Studies. We all know we need these helpful pieces of information for our clients and potential clients, but it seems like a daunting task. The tips they give in this article will help you outline your own successful case studies.
Finally, thank you to all that have sent your congratulations to myself and the team for becoming one of the finalists for the TwinWest Chamber of Commerce Entrepreneur of the Year Award. The winner is announced on May 20 and we will let you know the outcome.
Julie McDonald                                         
Industry & Legal Update

HealthCare Reform Update

Healthcare Reform is moving forward, but there are still things being decided on. Here are 2 pieces that will affect businesses in 2011.

Effective 1/1/2011: Over-the-Counter Drugs No Longer an Eligible Expense


On January 1, 2011, over-the-counter drugs are no longer eligible as a reimbursable expense under a flexible spending account (FSA), health reimbursement arrangement (HRA)or health savings account (HSA). Medications with a prescription will continue to be eligible under these plans. 

Effective 1/1/2011:SIMPLE Cafeteria Plan for Small Employers

For employers with 100 or fewer employees, a new "SIMPLE Cafeteria Plan" will be available for years beginning after December 31, 2010. To be eligible, an employer must meet specified contribution, eligibility and participation requirements, and if met, would be treated as having satisfied the non-discrimination rules for cafeteria plans and other benefits.

Something to make you go hmmm...

"What turns a mediocre mission statement into one that makes you misty eyed every time you think of it is not a well-thought-out company policy, goal, or target market, but rather a why that makes it all worthwhile, a little piece of magic that comes to you in the middle of the night-a seed for great inspiration."
-Peter J. Patsula
In This Issue
Healthcare Reform
The Heart of Service
Don't Forget About the Case Study

Quick Links

iVision website


HR Updates

COBRA Subsidy Extended


COBRA Subsidy has been extended to May 31, 2010. 


EEOC Update 


Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) was effective on November 21, 2009. The final rule was issued on December 7, 2009 that bars employers and insurers from discriminating against employee based on genetic information.  Your Employee Handbook should reflect this change. 


PPACA Changes (Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act) Update


For the 2010 tax year, small employers can receive a tax credit for offering coverage (those employers with less than 25 full-time employees)


Beginning the first day of the plan year following Sept 23, 2010 coverage must be offered to dependents up to age 26


No Pre-existing conditions clause on participants under the age of 19


No lifetime limits for "essential health benefits."


There are many changes in law for benefits, taxes and etc. Any questions regarding these and the affect to your business, please call iVision at 763-300-2237.

The Heart of Service
By Sherrie Kronforst
iV color logo

I have dedicated my twenty year career to the continuous improvement of business performance by motivating and enabling an organization's most important asset - its human capital. 


While human resources has been the main focus of my career, organizational design and development and operations management have also been at the center of my life's work in service-related industries.  Over the course of this time, I have come to believe that there are only a handful of service elements that really matter to most customers - regardless of what business you are in.  This is not complex.  Actually, it is ridiculously simple.


In essence, the Heart of Service comes down to the following core behaviors that, if delivered consistently, inspire a positive experience (and leads to customer loyalty):


Be Welcoming ...

            Offer everyone a warm and genuine greeting.

Be Thoughtful ...

            Anticipate.  Surprise.  Delight.

Be Knowledgeable ...

            Take pride in yourself and your work.  Share what you know.

Be Kind...

          Offer to help.  Listen.  Communicate with openness and sincerity.

Be Grateful...

            Say "Thank You".  Show appreciation.


Ultimately, it is about creating a culture.  By design, building an organizational culture focused on caring for and satisfying customers, indirectly becomes a charge for creating a great place to work.  How we treat each other in the workplace is reflected in how we treat customers.  The quality of the service experience delivered to customers is inextricably linked to the quality of the employees' experience. 


What I have learned is customers and employees value the same things.


Imagine working in an environment where...


You feel a sense of belonging as you are Welcomed each day by a warm and genuine greeting.


Your colleagues and supervisors are Thoughtful. They anticipate what you need to do your best work; you are surprised and delighted by the considerations extended your way.


The people you work with are Knowledgeable.  They take pride in themselves and their work.  There is a willingness to take the time and share expertise to better enable others to perform at higher levels and achieve their potential.


The workplace is Kind and trustworthy.  Help is available if you need it.  Your ideas are valued and listened to.  Communication is abundant, two-way, honest, and sincere.


And finally, you know what you do matters.  Others are Grateful for your contributions and you know this because you are told "thank you".  Appreciation is demonstrated for the unique gifts and talents you bring.


Taking this one step further, the quality of the employee experience is driven by Leadership.  The leaders inside an organization share the responsibility for the quality of energy that defines how we do business with each other, our customers, and the world.


There is one thing I know for sure:


Satisfied and engaged employees lead to satisfied and engaged customers which in turn results in customer loyalty, profitability, and revenue growth.  Value is created at the intersection between employee and the customer.


Stephen Covey once said, "The best way to predict your future is to create it".   


What does the future look like for your organization?

Back to the top

Don't Forget About the Case Study
by Melissa Urbanski and Jene Leiner, Owners The Cypress Group

We're always surprised when some of our (smart) clients neglect to leverage one of their most important assets: happy customers. One easy way to communicate customer successes is with case studies. Often viewed as one of the most powerful pieces in the marketing arsenal, case studies are meant to share insight into how a client solved a difficult problem using your product.

What Exactly is a Case Study?

In essence, a strong case study addresses a real problem that was identified and then solved, ideally with quantifiable results to prove that your product delivered on its promise. A case study should tell a compelling story-one that moves its reader to take action. Once written, it's invaluable and can be "recycled" in numerous ways. Most typically, case studies are put on the company web site and used by sales staff. But unfortunately, that's often where case study promotion ends.

A lot of hard work goes into producing case studies and they carry a lot of weight, so you should take full advantage. You should definitely pitch your case study to editors, either directly or via a press release. Editors are always looking for companies that have successfully implemented a new solution or have taken a unique approach. Further, your clients' peers are very interested in reading about whom among them is seeing success with a project they have undertaken.

How else can you leverage a case study? One idea is to include the case study in a proposal for a speaking engagement. Similar to editors wanting real success stories for their readers, the organizations hosting industry events very much want to share actual successes - their attendees eat it up!


In addition, you can use a subset of the case study as an example in a white paper or direct mail campaign. You also could include a brief summary within a sales proposal or use a quote from the case study in your trade show booth.

Writing 101: Effective Case Studies

Depending on your resources and your comfort level, you can either write a case study in-house or outsource it to a freelancer or agency. Case studies are very typically written in a problem-solution-result format.

Here's a primer to get you started:

  • Introduce the customer and the challenge
  • Create a context for the problem
  • Lay out the options for their journey: status quo? significant change and investment? Middle-of-the-road? Regardless, establish that it was a significant decision for the company if possible.
  • Explain the discovery process, which is often missing from case studies: how did the company learn about the product? What criteria did they use in making their purchasing decision?
  • Reveal the solution and why it was chosen
  • Explain the implementation, any problems encountered along the way and how they were overcome
  • Use quantifiable results (ROI, streamlined processes, etc.) to show how the chosen solution worked.

Last, don't forget about sharing your success story internally. Employee morale can almost always use a boost, and it can't hurt to share the successes you're experiencing with your employees.