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 10 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

My wife and I recently visited Disney World with her son’s family. For myself and our two grandsons, it was our first-ever trip to the world-renowned resort. The boys were wide-eyed and excited as they took in the rides and attractions (although the many lines tried their patience a bit). For me, however, it provided a case study in customer experience, which led to some interesting thoughts.

Everyone is familiar with “Disney perfection.” The pleasant on-site accommodations are linked flawlessly with the various parks and locales by a reliable and comfortable transportation system. The parks are clean, the staff friendly, and there are ample restrooms, food services and tasteful souvenir shops about the beautifully laid-out grounds. In an era where “customer experience” is often crowed about, Disney holds the high ground.

One detail of the parks that stood out for me is how they tactfully block off areas that are 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, that provide a bit of the Disney philosophy with regard to building. It’s as if he’s reminding everyone to not feel too inconvenienced — pursuing new dreams and ideas is what the parks are all about.

A particular Disney quote, however, stuck with me. Supposedly, said Walt, “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 bouncing up and down at the wheel, and how that character became a hit that started the Disney studios on its way to riches and fame.

Of course, it wasn’t just Mickey that made Disney successful, nor was the long-lasting fame automatic. Rather, the success of Mickey Mouse opened a door that allowed Walt Disney’s full vision and capabilities to be expressed, including his desire to push the technology and business of animation, and an innate understanding of what his customers wanted. And this got me to thinking about Steve Jobs.

Both Steve and Walt mastered customer experience. Both pushed technology in order to deliver products that customers love. Both exist in an ethereal world of dreams (Disney: “When you wish upon a star..”; Jobs: “Think Different”). Both maintained precise control of their products, companies and brands. Both brought ground-breaking innovation to their fields (Walt implemented cell animation very early on, perfected “multi-plane” camera techniques — an early 3D-like experience, and delivered the first animated feature film, “Snow White,” despite the trepidations of everyone around him. Jobs, on the other hand, conceived and delivered the Mac, his iDevices, and numerous innovations in the marketing of his tech gadgets, effectively marrying them to our daily lives).

But perhaps most interesting is how Disney came to technology through entertainment while Jobs came to entertainment through technology. Walt, the entertainer, envisioned Epcot, the technology-ruled “City of Tomorrow,” while Steve, the “tech guy,” became CEO of Pixar Studios, the hugely successful 3D animation studio, and also brought the music industry into the 21st century through the iTunes store. It’s as if they shared a gene somewhere that enabled them to bring us treasures from the future. Whatever it was, they were set on paths destined to converge. Pixar inevitably was bought by Disney, and Steve ended up on Disney’s board as its largest share holder.

And so I propose that Jobs has become, in a sense, the heir of Disney’s legacy. Sensitivity to customers’ innate desires, and the ability to create things that connect with and satisfy them is what links the two visionaries. People unequivocally  love their products and are delighted to use them. Indeed, customers stand on lengthy lines to ride “Pirates of the Caribbean,” or to get a new iPad. Their success isn’t the result of a cold, calculating computer analysis, but an expression of gifting and vision that is theirs alone. It’s business as art, technology as instrument, innovation as life-blood, and unquestioned success the result.

Today, Disney’s work lives on, driven by the philosophy of innovation and customer experience that’s fully embedded in the company he founded. Will we say the same thing about Apple when Steve Jobs is one day gone? Our culture needs companies that “get things right,” and can deliver extraordinary products and services in extraordinary ways. Perhaps a “sorcerer’s apprentice” is in the wings somewhere, waiting to take up this mantle. The job description includes an unfettered imagination, an iron will and a love for delighting the masses. “Thinking different” will help, too. Applicants, however, need not apply. We’ll know you when we see you.

What’s Up Asia

We’ve all heard that Asia is the world’s up-and-coming economic force. But have we heard anything 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 a few very interesting observations that should remind us that, if it’s true that market leaders generally stop innovating and become stagnant, the same can 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.

Makes one wonder, can Americans imagine what the world’s economic landscape will look like in 20 years? In 10 years? And are these 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 that are typically followed, if somewhat dubious, and one that is always reliable, but not always considered:

– the technology press, whose job it is to report on the newest and flashiest trends, not necessarily what actually works 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 will draw attendees from the three groups above

Another voice, by the way, is that of industry colleagues, who can be very helpful, or may indulge in one-upmanship about whose business has gotten more exposure.

One voice not on the list, ironically enough, *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 who they’re ostensibly working for. No customers, no business; and yet the customers are often nowhere to be found when strategic decisions are made.

How does your organization chart its way forward: by following the herd, or by 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 really hit the mark:

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

2. Customers want things fast. To be leading edge, learn to compete in time. Anticipate customers’ need and fulfill before they know they need it. Some vendors are now linked electronically to their major customers, which allows for ‘just in time’ service.

3. Customers like convenience. In any society there is a strategic shortage for which people will exchange money. 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.