Tag Archives: customer experience Blog

A 2012 Business Resolution Worth Keeping

You’re in business, right? Start the new year with a business resolution to obey “The 10 Commandments of Modern Marketing.” An excellent study — if you only read the subheads you’ll learn a lot: http://bit.ly/cTbc0s

… why not start the year with ten commandments for marketing — resolutions to do marketing right; that is, marketing that takes into account how the modern landscape and modern consumers have changed.

Worthy of the Mantle: Disney and Jobs

Our family recently made the pilgrimage to Disney World. It was the first-ever trip to the renowned resort for myself and our two grandsons. The boys were wide-eyed as they took in the rides and attractions (although the lines tried their patience a bit). It was all fun, but as we went through the day, I began thinking more and more about the power of customer experience.

Everyone is familiar with “Disney perfection.” The pleasant on-site accommodations are conveniently linked with the various parks by an efficient transportation system. The parks are clean, the staff friendly, and the ample restrooms, food services, and souvenir shops are easy to find throughout the expertly designed grounds. In an era where “customer experience” rules, Disney holds the high ground.

One detail that stood out for me is how they tactfully block off areas under construction. Painted fences surround the building sites. Alongside are benches where visitors can take a break. And on the fences at regular intervals are little plaques with quotes from Walt himself, politely reminding everyone not to feel too inconvenienced. After all, the parks are all about turning dreams into reality.

One particular quote from Walt stuck with me. “I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing — that it was all started by a mouse.” I recalled the cartoon “Steamboat Willie,” with Mickie happily at the wheel, and how that mouse became the character that launched Disney to fortune and fame.

Of course, it wasn’t just Mickey that made Disney successful. And the long-lasting fame wasn’t automatic. The success of Mickey Mouse opened a door that allowed Walt Disney to express his whole vision, which included pushing the technology and business of animation forward, and giving his customers something that he knew would delight them. And this got me thinking about Steve Jobs.

Both Steve and Walt valued customer experience. Both pushed technology to deliver products that customers love. Both were in touch with the ethereal world of dreams (Disney: “When you wish upon a star,” Jobs: “Think Different”). Both maintained complete control of their products, companies, and brands. Both brought ground-breaking innovation to their fields. Walt pushed the limits of cell animation, perfecting “multi-plane” camera techniques. This early 3D-like experience delivered the first animated feature film, “Snow White,” despite the trepidations of everyone around him. On the other hand, Jobs brought computers to the masses with the highly successful Apple II and then delivered game-changing products like the Mac, the iPod, and the iPhone. Add to that inspired marketing, and he effectively married his gadgets into our daily lives.

But perhaps what’s most interesting is how Disney came to technology through entertainment while Jobs came to entertainment through technology. Walt, the entertainer, envisioned Epcot, the techno- “City of Tomorrow,” while Steve, the “tech guy,” became CEO of Pixar, the award-winning 3D animation studio, and brought the music industry into the 21st century with the iTunes store. It’s as if Jobs and Disney were both born with the ability to bring us treasures from the future. Whatever it was, their paths seemed destined to converge. Pixar inevitably was bought by Disney, and Steve ended up on Disney’s board as its largest shareholder.

You could say that Steve Jobs became the heir of Disney’s legacy. Connecting with customers’ most fundamental wants, and delivering unexpectedly satisfying experiences, link the two visionaries. Fans love their products because they’re delighted by them. Indeed, customers stand in long lines to ride “Pirates of the Caribbean” or get the latest iPhone. Their success isn’t the result of cold, calculating computer algorithms but the expression of a gift bestowed on only a few. It’s high-level creativity expressed in business, technology, innovation, and art, with unquestioned success as the result.

Today, the work of Disney and Jobs lives on, guided by the embedded philosophy of innovation and customer experience that’s in their companies. The world needs companies that can give us what was previously unimaginable — extraordinary products provided in exceptional ways. Perhaps a “sorcerer’s apprentice” is somewhere in the wings, waiting to take up this mantle at just the right time. The job description includes an unfettered imagination, an iron will, and a love for delighting the masses. “Thinking different” will help, too. Qualified candidates, however, need not apply. We’ll know you when we see you.

What’s Up Asia

Asia is often touted to be an up-and-coming economic power. But we haven’t heard much about how Asians see themselves in the world economy. Mark Hurst, who writes the Creative Good newsletter and recently returned from a lengthy trip to Southeast Asia, offers some very interesting observations that should make us ask: if it’s true that market leaders generally stop innovating and become stagnant, can the same also be true for nations. Says Mark,

It’s hard to overestimate the feeling of energy, expansion, investment, and activity that pervades the region. As the US economy stagnates, money has flooded into southeast Asia trying to find better investment yield – and the aggressive work ethic of the region (long hours, highly competitive, focus on results) has been happy to make use of that investment.

Multiple times people told me, in effect, that they just don’t pay much attention to what’s happening in the US – or Europe, for that matter. Asia is taking the lead in the world economy, and while the US has some good ideas worth studying (and perhaps borrowing and improving upon), it is not considered the leader to be followed.

It makes one wonder, can Americans imagine what the world’s economic landscape will look like in 20 years? In 10 years? And are such seismic shifts simply inevitable?

In case you’re not familiar with Creative Good and their work in the area of customer experience, you can learn more and subscribe to Mark’s newsletter here: http://goodexperience.com

What Sources Do Executives Listen To?

From Mark Hurst, GoodExperience.com

Decision makers need information before they make decisions, right? What sources do executives listen to when gathering information? Here are a few typical, if somewhat dubious, examples, and one that is always reliable but not always considered:

– The technology press, whose job is to report on the newest and flashiest trends, but not necessarily what will work in the long run.

– Bloggers, many of whom are technophiles who enjoy playing with and writing about Internet trends and gadgets.

– Investors, who often want quick results and look to the press and bloggers to point the way.

– Technology conferences, which tend to invite speakers who draw attendees from the three groups above.

Another voice is that of industry colleagues, which may be helpful, or may indulge in one-upmanship about whose business has gotten more exposure.

One voice not on the list, ironically, can point the way forward, both in the short-term and the long-term. Who is it?

The customers.

Most companies still don’t conduct meaningful research with the people they’re ostensibly working for. No customers, no business. Yet the customers are often nowhere to be found when making strategic decisions.

How does your organization chart its way forward? By following the herd or listening to customers?

Six Key Customer Characteristics

In a world where everyone is hyper-connected and hyper-committed, I thought this summary of the modern customer’s mindset hit the mark:

1. Customers only buy two things: solutions to problems and good feelings. The first step in creating value is to identify your customer’s biggest problems and then demonstrate how you can solve them.

2. Customers want things fast. Learn to compete in time. Anticipate customers’ needs and fulfill them before they know they need them. Some vendors are now linked electronically to their major customers, which allows for ‘just in time’ service.

3. Customers like convenience. There is a strategic shortage for which people will exchange money in any society. Today the strategic shortage is time. Convenience has become more important than ever. How easy is it to do business with your company? How accessible are you to those you support? Can they count on a timely response?

4. The customer defines quality. Manufacturing and marketing say the product is terrific. The customer thinks it stinks. Guess whose opinion counts? The best place to begin marketing is by asking the customer how they define quality.

5. One size doesn’t fit all. The mass market is dead. Customers are demanding more options. They perceive their needs to be specific and unique. Factor ‘uniqueness’ into your sales and marketing strategy.

6. Would you like to be one of your customers? People won’t necessarily buy from us because they like us, but they’ll refuse to buy from us if they don’t. In every interaction, treat customers with the utmost respect and courtesy.