How many of us kick ourselves for not purchasing a boatload of Apple stock a few years back? We tend to put off taking actions, not because we don’t see the upside potential, but because we’re busy fighting fires. Here is a tip you can bank on. Happy customers are your only source of long-term revenue for your organization. Our recent economic downturn has compounded the problem; organizations responded by cutting budgets and by diverting attention inward. You may be kicking yourself down the road when Continue reading “Want a better Bottom Line, Deliver a better Customer Experience”
How are you doing with customers? How do you know? Which touchpoints matter the most in the customer journey, to your organization and to your customers? Are they the same? Do you even know what the customer journey looks like? Have you mapped the customer experience across all touchpoints? What does the conversation in your organization look like surrounding this?
It turns out that much of what I’m describing is invisible. For most, Key Performance Indicators related to the customer’s experience largely reflect, how many people were exposed, how many bought, and how many returned or got help. But, those are only base indicators. In a world with a new customer high bar you need to go beyond base indicators. You need to understand what is important from your customers perspective, when, and where. You need to understand this at each touchpoint. “Yeah yeah, customer service has that,” you say. But they really don’t until you dig for it. And when it isn’t easy to dig for it, you don’t. Likewise for your prospective customer. They don’t want to dig either.
“don’t be fooled into thinking that is good enough”
I had the good fortune of speaking with Yves Behar after a talk he gave at the Seattle Public Library. In his talk about Design for Good he either mentioned or hinted at repeatedly, that people need courage. I jokingly asked him if there was some sort of courage camp that these people attended, or if they found him. I seriously doubted that Yves, the founder of fuseproject, a brand and product experience company, was cold calling big brands and governments, spurring them to action. He said, the thing about courageous people is that they are looking for solutions.
Here is a sampling of what was made possible when others thought it impossible. One Laptop per Child.
You’ve heard about it. But, did you know that every primary school student in Uruguay has an XO computer. Conventional thinkers thought this to be impossible. They also thought there was a dearth of talent to maintain and upgrade the computers. It turns out that XO computers were designed for in country personnel with little training to be able to upgrade the operating system, which they have done many times.
It all started because of a question
“What if we eliminated the shoebox?” It took 21 months for fuseproject and Puma to eliminate the shoebox. They also made the entire prescription open source. Other shoe companies can follow suit without fear of encroaching on patents and other intellectual property. Good for the consumer, good for the company, and good for the planet.
Getting a laptop into every child’s hand and eliminating the shoebox were both big changes to the status quo. Nothing happens until somebody thinks and acts differently. People involved in these projects had the courage to challenge the status quo, ask questions, and explore new territory.
Do you have the courage to make the impossible, possible? What is your question? How long will your idea take? A lot longer if you don’t get started and infinitely longer if you don’t begin with a question.
Our primitive brains establish patterns that for the most part keep us safe and out of trouble. This has kept our ancestors out of the jaws of wild beasts. This is also what happens when you apply your vehicle brakes when it looks like the speeding car is going to plow through the intersection and smash into you. You see the pattern and act accordingly. Our brain creates and recognizes Continue reading “Innovation Squelchers: Pattern Thinking, Biases, and Gator Brains”
Think about the culture of your organization. Are you allowed to fail, is it encouraged, learned from, or it is something to be avoided at all costs. Recognize that as organizations mature they become less tolerant of risky, unproven, new ventures that have uncertain potential.
In public companies, beholden to the perceived needs of investors, this is troublesome. While these skittish companies and the leaders that drive them focus on short term needs of investors, more fearless upstarts are redefining industries and taking away customer mind share.
Are you Going Mental?
Ok, phew – you’ve landed. You got past the headline. Now you may be wondering what this post is all about. An article on crazies. No – though I did like the movie by that title.
Going mental is what you need to do more of. Nobody gets harmed, unlike in the movie. When you get stuck, you lack a mental model of how to proceed, similar to a 2nd grader trying Continue reading “Are you Going Mental?”
Gosh. That sounds mean. Why would you say that? Like a child learning to walk, uninstructed, unencumbered by rules and the walkers operational manual, we all need to run experiments, prototype and get onto the business of walking so someday we can master running. Babies run experiments and eventually they turn many failed attempts into the successful first walk. They go on to refine their walk and eventually master running, skipping, jumping and a host of related activities. In our adult lives we sometimes forget how naturally wired we are to do this. We erect and adhere to rules, systems, and process even when the situation doesn’t call for it. Failure is OK; it can be really good for you and your organization. I pray that you fail and then learn from it to make a difference.
If you can’t walk, then you can’t run. And running is exactly what you need to do to out execute the competition and to sense, satisfy, and delight the needs and wants of your customers.
Have courage to create a new conversation. Take a risk. Build a prototype. Test it for value. If you don’t fail – great. But it you do, share the failing, learn from it, and move on. Think of all of the wonderfulness in the world that we wouldn’t experience if people didn’t have the courage to face potential failure.
Now go out and fail at something to make the world a better place.
Everything has changed, but you’re still executing on the old strategy? Chances are you’ve been too busy to re-examine your strategy, let alone change course. Like most organizations you’ve completed your annual planning and you’re on cruise control –Set it and Forget. Of course, you’ll revisit the strategy in next year’s annual planning session. But what happens when you’re cruising down the road and a competitor, customer, partner, or legislation throws the proverbial monkey wrench in your spokes. Right – your organization will react to it when you encounter that problem. If that is what you believe, then you’ve fallen into the trap. That’s the thing, you can only react to those things you are aware of. Most things that erode your business are more subtle than the abrupt, spoke shearing monkey wrench. Think of a hidden killer like pancreatic cancer. You don’t have years of leading indicators. When it is too late, it is sadly, too late.
One of my mentors once told me “A lot can happen in a little while.” If you caught the Oscars last night, in particular the memorandum part, recall the talent that expired in the past year. Writers, Producers, Actresses, Actors, all removed from the talent pool that brought us great entertainment. The business world is no different. People, businesses, technology, relationships – it’s all changing faster than your annual planning cycle.
So, take a trip around your organization. Are your people keeping up in real time or are they unquestioningly executing on yesterday’s strategy? How ready is your organization to adapt to a shifting strategy? What are you doing to notice trends and changes in the business landscape and customer and partner ecosystems? These are key areas that present both opportunities and threats. Who is watching your organization’s back? Who is spotting dangerous currents or bountiful waters? Is anybody at the table bringing an outside perspective? Do you have sensors in the ground to take notice? Here is a visual tool and 5 steps that will keep your business apprised to the changing world outside your organization.