Posts Tagged ‘Smart Organisations; HOWTOEXPERIENCE; Smart and Stupid Organisations; H2X; Customer Experience Management; Apple; BMI’

Smart and Stupid Companies

March 23, 2010

I spoke late last year at the Smart Utility Conference on developing and delivering compelling experiences. Being slightly mischevious I took the “Smart” theme and asked the audience whether they worked for Smart or Stupid companies and put up the following exhibit.

Stupid

Smart

Inflated Expectations and broken promises Provide continuity and ownership
Sell, Sell, Sell Show Respect and Honesty
Sneaky and dishonest Give the Personal Touch
Impersonal and robotic Reward existing customers
Incompetent and ineffectual Provide aftercare

A National Consumer Council Survey of 2000 consumers over 18 months defined five attributes of both the “Smart” company and the “Stupid” company. They set out how British businesses throw away money by alienating consumers. They may resonate with your experience.

 

Attributes of Smart and Stupid

Of course, I agonised over which real examples to use and as luck would have it, the night before, my speech, BMI, the airline, proved to my wife that they truly were a “Stupid” Company. The outcome of the experience – she said, “I will NEVER use that company again” – reinforces what the Consumer Council found. Smart Companies have customers that come back more often and buy more when they do. I used a great personal story of a Smart Company, Apple to set the two apart. More on the detail below.

I told the stories to the audience of 150 senior managers starting with:

“It used to be true that if you had a bad experience you’d tell 20 other people about it, but in the digital age it’s more likely that you’ll tell over 1000. That speech and this blog is further proof that this truly is true.”

But if the economics are so clear, why are so many companies Stupid?

Executives obviously don’t consciously set about not delivering for customers. And none that I know would want to be characterised as working for a stupid company. However, short term profit focus leads to results that are just that – short term. And that’s because it’s often the primary driver from shareholders. Smart businesses understand that profit is an outcome. And that long term growth comes from not only acquiring customers and managing them cost effectively, but keeping and growing them over the long term. Often that requires making investments in policies and experiences that don’t have an immediate payback. It’s this approach to profit creation and mindset shift at the top that can be so difficult to attain. Helping businesses to do this is what HOWTOEXPERIENCE does.

What do Smart Companies do differently that sets them apart from Stupid ones?

Apart from the mindset barrier, what we’ve found though our work over the years is that the best companies have a systematic approach to driving sustainable and profitable relationships with their customers. (Often called Customer Experience Management). They understand what drives value for customers AND their businesses through a set of customer journeys. From Searching and Buying to Leaving, and every customer interaction inbetween. They design intentional, branded experiences that ensure the right investments are made through these journeys. They then set themselves up to deliver. Ensuring that plans to improve are embedded within business-wide strategies, plans and objectives and that these are cascaded through the organisation. They deliver these through strong cross-functional working and people with the right skills, supported by appropriate tools and capabilities. They manage through internal and external measures, a closed corporate feedback loop into management reviews. This ensures the finger is kept on the pulse and that day to day the intended experience is being delivered.

We’ve distilled the detailed practises Smart organisations adopt into a healthcheck so any organisation can compare their current practises and ensure they are systematically set up to deliver their commercial objectives.

Customer Experience Management Model

HOWTOEXPERIENCE CEM Dashboard

After Easter we’ll be launching our HOWTOEXPERIENCE Academy to help organisations upskill their customer experience professionals and licence them the tools to be able to accelerate programmes and deliver faster experience and commercial improvements.   Everyone can be a Smart Company if they put their minds to it!

We’ve distilled the detailed practises Smart organisations adopt into a healthcheck so any organisation can compare their current practises and ensure they are systematically set up to deliver their commercial objectives.  

After Easter we’ll be launching our HOWTOEXPERIENCE Academy to help organisations upskill their customer experience professionals and licence them the tools to be able to accelerate programmes and deliver faster experience and commercial improvements.   Everyone can be a Smart Company if they put their minds to it!

What made my wife so mad at BMI and me so happy I’m an Apple advocate?

So back to BMI and Apple.  We’d booked a long weekend away with the family, 8 months ahead of the trip, this involved flying up to Scotland.  Four months before the trip we were informed that due to “operational reasons” our flights had been cancelled. Alternatives to go out a day before and come back a day after were offered. For many reasons this wasn’t convenient – the main one being that all our arrangements around the original dates were already locked in. BMI didn’t offer us a refund or apologise for the inconvenience, which would have been disappointing but not fatal in terms of the Williams’ Relationship with BMI.  Instead, they tried every wriggle in the book, and a few that weren’t, to assert that we couldn’t have our money back. Of course, booked through the internet, the first few attempts at resolving were through on-line self-service that kept us going round a loop for a week or two. Eventually we got a customer service number and my wife spent half an hour on the phone arguing with them, eventually getting sense by escalating to a supervisor who grudgingly gave the refund.  The whole experience left her exasperated and me inspired for my speech the next day! Since this story we have had exactly the same thing happen with Easy-Jet! We’re hoping for third time lucky with re-booked flights with British Airways – although with the imminent strike…I’m fully expecting it could be a long drive to Scotland!!! Clearly the airline industry is under enormous pressure. And the pressure for short-term profit is driving all the wrong customer outcomes and I might add significant additional customer service costs.

My Smart company example is with Apple. By the way, you can find many other good positive experience stories in the Experience Zone on our website. You might even want to add your own!

“You’ve just bought a new Apple product and you’re telling me that within a week, it’s not working. That’s not what you’d expect from Apple. We’d better take this back and get it sent off to the lab to see what’s wrong with it. Here’s a replacement.”

A year or so ago we were over in the States on holiday and my 8-year old son, with birthday money burning a hole in his pocket was desperate to buy his first ipod. So we went into an Apple store and found the perfect one. Oh, it was a thing of beauty that never left his side for the next week. Unfortunately, this included when he decided to take a dip in the Pacific Ocean in Malibu with the obvious result. He was distraught. We went back to the store out of hope more than anything. I explained to them exactly what had happened, the fact that it was his first ipod and asked whether there was anything at all that they could do – fully expecting the answer to be no but you could buy another one! The Apple Guy looked me straight in the eye and said:

“You’ve just bought a new Apple product and you’re telling me that within a week, it’s not working. That’s not what you’d expect from Apple. We’d better take this back and get it sent off to the lab to see what’s wrong with it. Here’s a replacement.”

He didn’t need to do it, I didn’t expect him to do it, I hadn’t even mentioned my conference speech tour on customer experience, but he was empowered and understood the importance and impact on me and my son. We’re advocates and I can asssure you that there are many more Apple products in our household as a result of this fantastic piece of smart service.   It pays to be Smart!


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