Saturday, September 15, 2012

Exposure is Given, Manage your Behaviour not Exposing Medium

Lousy product reviews on FB or Twitter and whole efforts on product and marketing fails.  On the contrary superlative reviews can boost the sales and brand image beyond imagination.
Therefore companies have stared focusing on their social bushiness strategies.
Bigger question or issue is: With Social Media (SM) is taking center stage companies need not only design their social media strategy but has to change business strategy altogether.
Yes, emergence of SM, organisation is exposed to the world i.e. potential customers, existing customers, suppliers , potential employees and investors, everyone. Therefore advertising and marketing campaigns will have to be realistic and under claiming.
Ad Guru David Ogilvy has said “Great Marking only makes weak /lousy product faster .”  This was in times of no SM. Imagine what can happen in times of SM?  Movie JOKER is the latest example. Earlier this week Volkswagen (VW) ad in TOI was talk of the town, now suppose VW’s  product is not up to the mark or people reads not so good review about their other products, what will happen to so brilliant advertisement? Though its is unlikely for VW but not for majority of the companies.
When the company is exposed to masses about their behaviors, it has to change the behavior and not only strategy to deal with exposing medium. With people to people contact , what company says is hardly of any significance. Its time to get real. Its time to revisit objectives and mission statement  again. Its time to revisit business processes, people soft skills, HR policy, product innovation and afters sales service. Its time to check the air in all the four Tyre (people, process, product and communication). Puncture in any one will curtail the speed and end products/outcome. All companies NOW has to work towards creating brand advocates. Yes that is the ultimate thing that all companies must aim for and best things that can happen in favour of the company through SM.
Now its a time to work towards not triple bottom-line but SINGLE bottom-line through happy customers, motivated employees, supporting vendors, community building, active CSR , concern for environment. Every activities will be watched and  discussed on SM. Now is the time BRANDS will be built by company business strategies and not by advertising and marketing team.  Measurement parameters MUST include other  parameters than only financial share holder driven parameters. Net Promoter Scorecard, Customer SATisfaction, Employees-SAT, Community-SAT etc etc.
When EXPOSURE is given , you don’t try to strategies to defend mis-behavior but certainly-try to behave and put up EXPO-SABLE show.  Brand building is NOW everyone’s role in the organisation. Happier times are here not again for the first time.

Its all about Emotions – Highest level of Customer (Human) Experience

Emotional Intelligence – one of the best selling books by Danial Goleman, Emotional Campaigns like McDonald’s campaign says I am loving it (not about rational need of taste, delivery, ambiance or people) . Zappos .com slogan is Delivering Happiness (what shoe retailer has to do with customer happiness? Ask Tony CEO of or read his book Delivering Happiness. Happiness is the highest form of emotions, check pyramid below.) , KBC previous and present versions are based on emotional stories of the participants. Its now less on prize money and more focus on human emotional stories.  Author of the book The New Leaders Says  
” Acknowledge Emotions, Hire for Emotions, Evaluate for Emotions, Promote for Emotions, Lead by Emotions, Follow by Emotions, Sell Emotions ” .
Emotions are most important factor in every human being. French thinker had said ” Our rational decisions are driven by our emotions. ”  
Elite companies have started using emotions in their campaigns. But is it enough? Unless customers see similar signs in the offerings they will neither become loyal nor advocates of the brand. Where do we put our loyalty in our personal life?  Of-course with family and friends with whom we have emotional associations and not just rational. 
Therefore when we talk about customer experience, unless we focus and map emotions of customers at every touch points , we are failing in true measurement of customer experience. This is the reason perhaps we have experience of commoditsation of most of the products and services. Every companies are focused on efficiency of processes, cost cutting, call centers outsourcing , appointment of Customer Service people and many such things. Every companies are doing the same level of improvement and end result is commodity product for customers. But now what next?
How about changing company culture ?  How about  measuring customer emotions and mapping it for desired outcome?  
When we are dealing with any aspects of human being we have to consider human being as a whole i.e rational, emotional and subconscious. Present system of customer service or very little experience measures rational aspects of customer service or experience. However customer always experience company offerings and moments of contacts with emotional and subconscious mind also. 
How to go about this ?
(Pyramid developed by Beyond Philosophy-  Which emotions creates value and which ones destroy )
Put your organisation on NPS driven performance measurement. Business growth is limited part of the story  , NPS lead growth is what companies must aim for sustenance.  NPS will only grow reasonably if customer experience is bettered on every given day with holistic approach of mapping emotional behavior of the customers. It enables the organisation to become sensitive and designing emotion altering customer experience for desired end results. Measuring & Mapping emotions is the new regular.  
Its a win win win for all the stake holders i.e.  company , customer and society at large. Emotions are contagious. Happy and pleased customers will spread the feelings and emotions along with company brand.   How are you feeling today? 
Share your stories and emotions with brands you have encountered. Brands could be company or individual. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Are there any lessons from the death of Mr. Lalit Sheth ??

Our heartfelt tribute to Mr. Lalit Sheth (Owner of Raj Travels). This is very unfortunate incidence and shaken many who are in business world.

Are there any lessons entrepreneurs can learn from his sudden and  tragic death ?

Well I think many.

Borrowing is easy but its servicing of debt and repayment of debt drown many families. Be it farmers in interior Maharashtra or entrepreneurs like Lalit Sheth, unmanageable debt is a killer.

We have many many cases of NPA and over borrowing and situation is close to alarming. As long as cash flow is sustained (not necessarily profit) one would not realise the gravity of situation.

How analysis of viability of the project is critical and me too kind of approach is disastrous. I have also known many such cases where entrepreneurs merely on the basis of gut feel ventured into the project , borrowed heavily than the project can sustain and ultimately  they had to sale their even their personal assets , faced legal battle to save their mortgaged home and suffered socially enormously.

Lenders and bankers are also not playing proactive and supportive roles while lending and during the tenure of the loan. They have access to the critical data and can very well play a vital proactive role more than just collector of interest and then filing suit when something goes wrong.  Prevention of foreseen disaster is a joint responsibility.

This kind of financial status is also very difficult to manage socially. There is a club run by a CA made up of entrepreneurs who are facing bank’s action and whose assets have become NPA. This kind of club helps their family members to realise they are not alone and learns how to face the reality and even come out of the same also.

Having a strong internal CFO is a must these days. I know many entrepreneurs in SME segment who do not understand the reading and implication of their balance sheet. Its very dangerous. Entrepreneurs must know their financial status i.e. actual and not fake as shown to bankers /tax authorities. Alternate MUST have CFO, absolutely dependable and proactive. He must see problem coming, warn the management /owner and know the corrective measures. SEBI is making efforts to spread investor education on a large scale but there is also strong need for entrepreneur education.  Everyone is working for money but ignorance about its PLAY is wide spread.

Last but not least, I do not know what is the brand value of the Raj Travels? Must be very high. Such a great asset could have been leveraged to taken care of liabilities, atleast some.  This is where CFO or Investment Banker can be of great help. Do you know what your real assets are !!!

This is written merely with the public information about Mr. Sheth’s grave financial situation we all have from news papers. No advice or analysis of his real situation. This write up might benefit some readers.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Who is Speaking ? You or Your work?

Either you or yr work has to speak up. Yes either MUST speak. 

There are two kinds of brand building for all : self and product / services. 

One is self promoter by its sheer nature or strategy. Aggressive advertising , marketing , self promotion , self talk etc. Making all out effort to be known among the target audience. 

Second way is to do a kind work that speak for it self. It also requires speaking but here work speaks. Users of the work will speak and spread the word. When a company creates scintillating customer experience, its customers speaks. There was a saying that it is the best selling author and not necessarily best writing author who sells. However in times of powerful social media its the best writing authors will become best selling. Only sellers without the best content will be difficult now. 

It is not always necessary that best sellers are not best content wise, however when users speaks rather than self /company , people believes most. Self sellers can be successful but when work sells - person and product not only reach up to the top but command respect also. 

We have two shining examples of person whose work always spoke more than the self and they are on the top of their class : Guess?  

Mr. Amitabh Bachchan and Dr Manmohan SIngh. Both r introverts , speaks less but cud reach to the top , sheer for the kind of work they did. You may add examples on both side. 

Are you or your work speaks more than you? 

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Superstar & The Big B of Corporate World

Rajesh Khanna wud have very happy to see HOW countrymen who have forgotten him for last many many years do remember him in his absence. Kind of tributes flowing in even after 12 days on every channel , media and public shows indicates that as a nation all of us have lost someone special. Whose presence was not felt for all these years though his absence has created some vacuum in some-part of our life. Such was a power of the SUPERSTAR. Phenomenal = Unparalleled.  

Though it’s not a right time of comparison between him and Big B , but yet its d right time to know the difference in approach towards life & success for everyone. This applies to individual as well as to companies too.

Yes phenomenal success comes with its own challenges. Be it individual be it company. When success hits your mind , mind stops functioning and thinking in balance. It takes over the realities, I become real capital in place of i becoming more and more humble. 

Those who believes in rule of English language that I is always capital, often could not see changing world around them, forgets that the change is the only constant and his hampering of vision instigate creation of own world and vision of manipulated world.  Instead of focusing on his own work in sync with the world and consumer taste with changing times unparalleled success makes one believe that , I can be on top come what may and whatever it takes. 

Big B learned,  of course may be with the precedent of Mr. Khanna and it took him 10 years to adjust to the realities and to appear in his new avatar.

In business world also there are these two traits visible in many top companies. Consumer taste changes & unless successful companies are capable to offer the food for changing taste of consumers, companies are going to fail sooner than later. Samsung over Nokia is the recent corporate example. Colors/Sony over Zee Tv , Facebook over Orkut and there are many such examples.  

It happens if companies are not proactive but Challenge is how to bounce back once fallen from grace. However,  most companies are not reactive enough in their approach to the market. If u fall and fail , its fine, how you bounce back is the real differentiator.

At the end it’s the Consumer who is the king and service providers must align to the consumer taste be it actor or companies. Taste of the exciting consumers change and taste of new consumers is any way new. Big B could align to both.  Are there any examples of corporate Big Bs? 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Are you mapping WOW!! on your Customer’s Face?

Customer Experience is the next new and now management practice. NEXT has quickly become NEW and NOW.
Commodity, Product, Services, Experience , this is the hierarchy of business offerings as defined by father of customer experience Pine & Gilmore in their famous book The Experience Economy. Most Companies struggle in 1st two categories , some reach to third level and very few reaches the 4th level. 
Companies like Starbucks , Virgin , Apple, Zappos, Amazon, Flipkart, Commerce Bank thrives on superior customer experience. There are unfortunately hardly any Indian brands which can be classified in the 4th category. 
Reasons may be that Indian Customers are either not demanding or there is no culture at the top of offering wow !! CUSTOMER Experience. Most management are so tied up in day to day affairs in managing quarterly results, no one in the organisation thinks long term brand building interest of the company.  As steroids they take shelter under extravagant advertising and media campaigns. Hardly anything changes however at ground level.  Everyone’s performance bonus is linked with quick results and not with sustainable results.
It requires culture of WOW !!! at the top , thinking on HOW ?  and  action plan (which may take longer time) to change the organisation culture.  Performance parameters MUST change and should be linked to increase of Net Promoter Scorecard (NPS) and not only financial performance. Financial performance today which is not guaranteed tomorrow is hardly of much use.  Linking it with NPS will ensure that long term interest of the company is also taken care of.
If your existing customers are promoters of your brand half the battle is won. Today hardly any Indian brands know what is their NPS , forget about action to improve the same.   Some customer sensitive companies have customer feedback system but either they do not know what to ask as their questions are irrelevant or do not know what to do after the data is collected.
However off late very very few companies have started appointing Chief Experience Officers (CExO).  It’s just a very tiny beginning. Still we have to see how they are able to improve their customer experience. One such company I know is Club Mahindra. However if you look at customer reviews on the Google/ it’s horrible. Customers are happy with their locations but not the way pre sales to post sales and actual stays are handled. Hope CExO will address especially pre sales ways, posts sales booking & at stay customer care issues asap.
Now when we are going to buy most of our products after reviewing online review, how important it is to offer amazing customer experience? Isn’t it critical?  No amount of smart advertising & smart sales person can replace culture of offering wow !! customer experience.   Are we working to see following expression on your customer’s face?
 If yes, its your market or work hard to transform Commoditised offerings into Experiential offerings. 
In order to bring wow !! culture in Indian Companies I have tied up with UK based Consulting firm Beyond Philosophy , customer experience focus consulting firm, as their India Associate.   

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Pearls of Wisdom from Stephen Covey

Today with his demise we have lost one of the great motivator of our times. His book 7 habits of Highly Effective People is the bible on inspiration and self motivation especially in the times we live.  

His recommended habits in nutshell below.    

No 1 Be Proactive.
We are in charge of ourselves. We are responsible – response-able. We can choose how to react to external stimuli, rather than being Pavlov’s dog – salivating at the light.
Covey says that keeping to your commitments – to yourself and others – is the clearest manifestation of our proactivity. If we commit to do something – do it. If we don’t want to commit to it – don’t commit to it. Integrity to our commitments is the clearest manifestation of our proactivity.
No 2 Begin With The End In Mind
All things are created twice – first in our minds and then in reality. We need to get clear on what we want – then create it. It’s goal-setting, essentially.
Without clear goals we are adrift. I reckon roughly 80% of people have no clear goals. They’re not bad people. They’re just won’t realise their potential.
No 3 Put First Things First
This is the high-payoff activities I bang on about endlessly. Not the crises, deadlines, interruptions and endless small stuff.  We must learn to say “no” to everything that is not a high-payoff activity. Say “no” to others, and to ourselves.  Do it pleasantly, smilingly, non-apologetically. But do it. Time actually IS our greatest asset.
No 4 Think Win-Win
In all relationships – business and personal. Life is not a zero-sum game. To win, others do not have to lose.
Do you have any win-lose relationships in your life? Turn them into win-win, or politely excuse yourself and go. Win-lose is bad for the other guy and bad for your soul. It’s actually lose-lose.
No 5 Seek First To Understand
…then to be understood.
People want to be understood, but few people do the understanding. Why not be one of them? When I meet people for the first time I make sure the conversation is about them, not me. Shamefully, I started doing this because it was suggested to me that this would help them to like me, as people like those who are interested in them. Fortunately, I now find myself genuinely interested in understanding them first. I enjoy understanding them. I actually like it. They seem to too. Maybe I really am a coach.
No 6 Synergy
1 + 1 = 3. We work better when we work together.  I’d rather be in two ventures, sharing the profits with another human being, than in one venture by myself.  I’m pretty good. I’ve got the test results to prove it. But I’m not that good. I lose perspective pretty quickly by myself. I miss things. I don’t see clearly. I am glad I am sufficiently self-aware to see this.
No 7 Sharpen the Saw
Take time to renew. You cannot work all the time. We need to rest, reflect, renew. So take some exercise, write a journal (a great idea), just play, or take time with someone you love. I’m rubbish at all of this. Someone said to me the other day they were leaving the office at 4pm to go home. I thought to myself – “what a luxury”. It’s not a luxury. It’s a necessity.
He first introduced the concept of circle of concerns and circle of influence. 

wow!!! these were the thoughts he presented to the world in his best written book. Hats off.  RIP Mr. Covey, you have expanded your circle of influence through your books manifold.  

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Will you be in business five years hence ?? !!

Extreme Turmoil and No Optimism. Country after Country is going Bankrupt. Large Corporations are finding it difficult to sustain Growth Rate & Momentum , smaller companies difficult to survive and Mid Caps are finding difficult to grow.  Commodity & Oil prices are rising and volatile,  currency rate dependency is a killer, right manpower very hard to get and retain. Governance and Regulatory Laws are tightening – in short no entrepreneurs are happy about the state of affairs he is in and managing. Yet Terrorism, Political Policy Paralysis, Corruption are the facts of the life we have to live with.
On top of these external factors which are worrying , companies usually die internally first due to various self destructing habits.  Veteran of Marketing Jagdish Sheth has written about Self Destructing habits of Good Companies. He states that companies die due to various internal inaction and ego.
 Lets run through these habits to understand what applies to your enterprise.  Objective read will help. ( I & You referred here if for business owners and CEOs)
1) Denial – Lead to Denial – of emerging technologies, changing consumer tastes, new global environment - Symptoms - I am different Syndrome, blame other for the situation
2) Arrogance – Lead to Arrogance - Exceptional success of the past, you r smarter than the other guys - Symptoms –   You stop Listening, You Flaunt it, You are high handed, you want to be surrounded by people approve your idea
3) Complacency - Lead to Complacency- Pass success if through regulated monopoly or by distribution monopoly or chosen by Govt , Govt owns and control business -  Symptoms – no hurry to make decisions, bureaucratic processes, cross subsidies by function, product ,market and customers
4) Competency Dependency - Lead to Competency Dependency – R & D Dependence, Design Dependence, Sales & Service Dependence  -  Symptoms -transforming exercise futile, thrill is gone, stakeholders are jumping ship
5) Competitive Myopia – Lead to  Competitive Myopia –  Natural Evolution of the Industry, Clustering Phenomenon  -  Symptoms – you allow small niche player to coexist, underestimate new entrants, helpless against new technology
6) Territorial Impulse -Lead to Territorial Impulse - Corporate Ivory Tower, founder’s culture subsumed in large corporate culture  -  Symptoms – many headstrong lieutenants, decision making is long and difficult process,  no one is happy, no internal communication mechanism
7) Volume Obsession - Lead to Volume Obsession – High Margin Pioneer, Fast Growth Phenom, Paradox of Scale -  Symptoms - free and adhoc spending patters, culture of X subsidies, functional level cost centers
Well some points are difficult to understand unless read with relevant examples. However its time to test check the status of your business and scenario analysis with some experts to gauge whether you will be in business five year down the line?  These pointers are analysed by the author while analysing various case studies of companies at various scales.
Risk Management , Scenario Analysis & present Health Check of the Enterprise is very critical functions and activites of the TOP management.  Just do it. Who knows Kal Ho Na ho!!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

6 Reasons Why Entrepreneurs Find It Difficult to Behave Ethically

- Huge corruption in Govts and Govt Departments makes their unethical behaviors justified

- Flourishing of Tax Evaders and No Govt Will or Visible Action to Bring evaders to books

- Huge Tax Rates, Multiple Taxes ,  Cost Increase , High Inflation and Competitive Pressures. Its about survival at Stake.

- Lax legal System. Tax Evaders & Corrupt go caught free for Years.

- Huge expectation from share holders, analysts and lenders

- 6th Reason - well every reader will have his own apart from above !!!

Most entrepreneurs start with clean slat and high morale but the above realities of life and culture around us makes one indifferent towards immoral and unethical behaviours. 

Everything is justified and fair in war , love and now business. This is the reason Narayanmurthys and  Azim Premijis are at premium. 

In the given scenario it is very difficult to act ethically and survive in the cut throat business atmosphere. Pity !!!!.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Customer Experience – Next Competitive Battlefield

Today on road in Mumbai and again ashamed to see the condition of the roads across the city. Its not post monsoon but pre monsoon and 6 months after the last monsoon.  Who is in charge of the city roads?

Hope our corp-orators are travelling by road and not by helicopter ofcourse not by train. Just callous attitude of the people in power and people busy with their daily duties ignoring collapsed infrastructures.

This happens when there is no mind for Customer (Citizen) Experience.  People who votes and who are suppose to be served are ignored for various other priorities. Citizen comes last if at all.

Now moving to the corporate. Customer Experience is also not a priority here.  Customers are adjusted to sub standard customer services and experience.  My earlier post r CEOs PASSIONATE abt their CUSTOMERS? I had stated that problem is at the TOP.

Culture percolates from Top to the bottom.  Amazon CEO Bezos is a great fan of creating wow customer experience. He had stated about Inverted 30 : 70 Ratio - Customer Experience.

Companies spend huge sums of money on marketing but hardly work on creating amazing customer experience which in turn will reduce marketing spend, shorten sales cycle and build powerful brand through word of mouth.

Enough is Enough. Be it government or companies , time has come that non performers or rather non wowers will be out of the business. If your government is not focusing on citizen need or company is not focusing on creating superior customer experience, all other competitive advantages will soon become history.

In his recent blog post Jacob Braude, vice president of strategic planning at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness rightly writes that Experience Is The Next Frontier In Marketing.

I think time has come for every entrepreneurs to embrace new battlefield and start working on customer experience design. In Govt space Gujarat and Bihar govt has already embraced and made the citizen their focus area.

Competitive landscape is changing and focusing on customer experience is the right strategy for everyone be it corporations, government or NGOs.  Strategy for Next Financial Year - Customer Centricity - Customer Delight - Referral Marketing - Improving Net Promoter Scores  { Rest all strategies and parameters will be taken care of }.

* Inviting interest from readers to join Customer Experience Professionals Association of India.