Monday, April 14, 2014

Products We Buy , Leaders We Choose !!

Products we buy:

1) Fresh with no customer reviews , not sure whether it will serve the purpose , moderate on promise , moderate perceptions about delivery , proven side effects of the company it belongs to. 

Fresh Product from Lousy Govt Company ( Side effects: ineffective , require repairs or call back as not proven track record of delivery , moderate chances of wasting our resources if it fails , Coming from Govt company so issues will be addressed on scaling up  )  

2) Fresh but with some customer reviews, not confident whether it will last long. High on promise ,  low on delivery , may have major side effects.

Chinese Products ( Side effects: health hazard, unsafe for use , high chances of wasting our resources if it fails, issues cant be addressed if it fails as comes without guarantee )

3) Experienced with customer reviews some bad and many good , confident that it can be long lasting and will serve the purpose , high on promise high on delivery , may have some side effect.

Apple (Side effects : Costly, theft prone, low chances of failing , brand image will make them addressing issues , if any quickly )

However of we don't select from these brands we will have unbranded product with nothing guaranteed at all. 

Do we also select leaders like we choose our products? Election 2014 is a choice between select brands or unbranded products.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

When does your customers' journey begin and end?

In Healthcare segment of service providers usually people are happy with the actual diagnosis / treatment but people are usually unhappy with all what it takes to avail the healthcare service. What it takes means proper pre-consulting guidance, administration , registration, payment and waiting during consultation. In case of In-house patients support and facilities for family attendant , visitors are inadequate as it is not considered core services and therefore ignored.   

Now lets leave aside the industry and look at across the industry. Core product and services are given required attention but everything else considered secondary are mostly ignored. Insurance policy features are great but agent will mis sale , call center will mis handle, claim settlement will be delayed , real estate developer will built class project but companies fumble at sales team , buying process and journey ,  post buying journey  and possession.

Imagine a restaurant serving mouth watering food but ambiance , hygiene ,  waiter attire and training , queue management are not in sync - what will be the fate of the restaurant? 
I have seen in spite of core product i.e food is tasty and talk of the town but unless all other peripheral aspects are take  equal care of restaurant going out of business. 

Therefore the question is what is the starting point and ending point of product and service your enterprise is offering? From where customer journey begins and where it ends? Every enterprise must know this as customers are equally concerned with all peripheral experiences that the business offers while offering its core product and services. & most critical ignoring this aspects can make or break the business in this new experience world we all are living in.  

Friday, March 14, 2014

What Farmers Can Teach Our Entrepreneurs ?

REAP WHAT YOU SOW , is a universal truth. 

If your organisation has systems , processes, targets , thinking and culture of MAKING MONEY at ANY cost. Your people are out there in the market will mis sell, over commit , indulge in unethical business practices, do all kinds of accounting jugglery , evade tax , do environmental harm, breaks laws. In the process your organisation will become anti social organisation though doing so called legal business.  You will attract and recruit people with similar culture and mindset. 

Fruits on the tree are the result of its seed, root, water , fertilizers & environmental support it consumes.

If you want Apple you need to sow seeds of Apple. This is the first and foremost requirements. Business culture percolates from the top is seed for the business. You cant expect your people to be honest when top management is indulging in all sorts of wrong doings. 

After the first step of sowing the seed, you need to nurture the tree with regular water, fertilizer and allow sun rays in right quality to get the best fruit. Even organic and inorganic fertilizers can impact the outcome. Likewise business processes, training and soft skills of the people, IT systems, leadership everything matters and impact the customer experience your company is offering to your customers. 

When you need to offer Kashmiri Apple roped with organic fertilizers , you need that kind of environment and nurturing.  You will not get the same Apple if you grow it in different environment and offers inorganic fertilizers like cosmetic culture. 

Therefore if you wish to attain SUSTAINABLE competitive advantage of offering delightful customer experience (CX), it starts with seed i.e. culture.  Only system, processes and training wont last much. Look at all companies known in CX space and you will  realise how their culture is and why they are leading in CX space.  Be it Virgin, Starbucks, Zappos or Apple. 

You can create delight factor for sometime or for some products/services or for some processes  but it wont be sustainable if it is not through culture change. Seed has to be right for delightful products or else delightful products are by chance and not by choice. 

Problem is top management expect best of the fruits - business performance but they turn blind eye on what it takes.  

The above report indicates possibility of loss of business internationally by Indian firms. However within India due to poor or not so delightful customer experience how much business local firms can lose to competing firms is yet not known. 

Bottom line is clear , if you want better bottom line , focus on CX and if you want better CX focus on seed i.e. culture at the top. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

LIC & AUDI New Ad & MISSING Customer Focus

If you have noticed recent LIC Ad played on TV one can realise how much companies are customer focus and care for its customers. One important aspect we observe during insight research that there is a difference between what customers say and what they do. What they do give more actionable insight. 

Likewise companies may say and slogan that they are customer friendly. Even they put up the same in their mission statement. It is in vogue these days. But most companies just say that but don't do things in commensurate with what they say and shout. 

The LIC Ad in reference talks about product features for say 90% of the time slot and in 10% time slot they talk about what IRDA has asked them to speak in the interest of the customers. Do they not know that what they speak in so much of hurry is not possible for any human being to understand? Absolute compliance focus mindset without even bother to know whether it is achieving its purpose. They have money to market their products but no money to educate and caution the customers - forget voluntarily but even statutorily. 

This is the largest & Govt insurance company of the country. How can we expect other private companies to follow IRDA guidelines? Today even IRDA instructed another large Govt Company SBI life to refund premium of Rs.275/- crs - Why ? They mis-sold the policy. 

While we are on Ad, another Ad which drew my attention is Audi 40 points Ad appearing in newspaper since couple of days. They expect people to read all 40 points assuming people are free for this. In this attention deficit world advertisers must draw attention smartly and also communicate crisply. How about if Audi Ad has classified all these 40 points on need, ease-convenience and delight categories? People will read what is relevant for them & that too quickly. Just listing 40 points means I lost my attention on 7th and missed some very important distinction which was somewhere below.  

Communicate with potential customers what you really need to communicate. Your over enthusiasm about your products and services many a times may miss the real communication. Become customer to know your customers. Simple but..........difficult.  

This is the reality across all industries. 

In such scenario imagine a blue ocean available to the company which is actually keeping customers at the center in letter & spirit and offers delightful experience. It is a huge advantage. Customers are looking for such a company to embrace.  

Monday, March 10, 2014

Sitting is NEW Smoking then What is NEW Solvency Ratio ?

" Sitting is NEW Smoking. " Rujuta Diwekar leading diet consultant writes in her new book - 'Dont Lose Out, Work Out'.  

We all know and believe that smoking can cause serious diseases to the smoker likewise if you remain seated for longer , poorer  your health & you may die earlier, no matter how fit you are. This is a new scientific research. Physical activities through out the day is necessary to remain fitter and avoid many modern day diseases.  

Applying this research to our topic of Customer Experience (CX);

Customer Experience Index is NEW Solvency Ratio. Yes this is also true.  You may have very good EBIDTA margin , Current ratio , DSCR , ROCE, and PAT but if your CX Index if not healthy, all these robust ratios are just temporary. CX Index will indicate whether these health will be maintained , is improving or deteriorating. 

Problem is , like we don't measure how many hours we sit during the day, we even don't measure CX index of our enterprise.  Things we don't measure , we don't focus upon. But the fact remains , all our critical financial ratios are ultimately dependent upon our Customer Experience Index. 

Better CX enables more sales, quick sales TAT, lower marketing cost, better margins, better cash flow, lower debt, higher margins means better stock valuation, attracts more capital. CX Index is really critical measure of enterprise health. It can also be used as preventive measures to stop deterioration of financial health. In can tell in advance state of financial health to expect. 

You can measure CX Index by NPS , CES or combination of the two or define your own CX scorecard. You can do it in more detailed way by measuring experiences at all the touch points, different customer segments/persona, different product wise. More intense the scorecard ,  more it will be actionable. 

Before your CFO tells you state of your enterprise's health your Chief Experience Officer (CExO) {Of-course if you have one} must tell you that.

Next time before you think of smoking , think of sitting and before you think of financial solvency ratios , think of CX Index. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Do you employ Chief Imagination Officer?

" We know for sure and not what we don't know will put us in trouble. We get fooled by what we know for sure about our business, customers and our self.  Seek out opportunities to observe and update your world view. "   Book Creative Confidence.

World is changing but we have fix view of the world around us.  Customer preferences are changing , they seek better and better experiences , entrepreneurs and ways of dong business is changing but we know what we know. We hardly change. Mind patterns (Also known as Mindset) are extremely difficult to change. 

We have MBA and such fancy degrees. We have read books written by stalwarts in their field. We have grown business multiple times. Success immortalizes way of doing things. It kills imagination and creativity. It freezes our thinking. 

Imagination , creativity, observation , challenging status quo , challenging present way of doing things , these are the qualities that are in demand and not mere degrees obtained by class room studies. Education qualification should de-freeze your way of thinking and not fix your way of thinking and kills imagination power.   

Actions of 7 billion people daily is making this world very dynamic. Imagination,  Creativity & Action are the winning combination and not just static knowledge. We as individuals and we as organisations are work in progress. Static knowledge combined with imagination and creativity will take us forward and make us progress. 

Who is the CIO in your organisation? I stands not for what we used to know INFORMATION but for IMAGINATION. To have CIO in your organisation first step is to become ONE.  

Friday, February 28, 2014

Are you addressing WHAT or WHY of WHAT?

If every entrepreneur and professional is asked to avail services from his own firm he will realize how poorly (or good) he is performing. 

Financial Statements will give you results at the end of the year but own journey mapping can quickly tell you what is wrong and what needs to be done. Problem is , mostly entrepreneurs try to analyse balance sheet and P &  L Account to know what is wrong and think about corrective measures. 

What best they need to do more often is to become their own customer. Use more and more touch points , use more and more services to learn more and more about their own business.

Focusing on financial statements for improvements is like focusing on results rather than on symptoms. WHY of WHAT needs to addressed. Financial Statements tells you WHAT, what is happening in the market with your customers tells you WHY of WHAT.  

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Do you remove your theatrical HAT daily ? (Off Topic)

" Every business a stage and work is a theater." Pine & Gilmore in their famous book 'The Experience Economy'.

Yes in a sense therefore every enterprise must know HOW to perform on stage to create scintillating experience for their customers. 

But other-side of the quote is equally relevant & powerful. Once you are off stage you must stop performing and start living. Usually that is a difficult proposition. 

A military men will behave like military men even in his house with his family and in his social circles. Same applies to Police men and for many other professions. An auditor will always tries to find faults with everything he encounters even when he is not actually auditing. A lawyer will always have legal angle in his personal and social life situations. A boss will mostly act bossy in his house and social circles.

Removing theatrical hat is very important as well as difficult. We become the role we play on stage. It is only the real on stage actors know how to remove such hat and live normal and natural life unlike the on stage roles they play. 

Amitabh Bachchan and the likes will not act police or goon at home , they will be natural human being different form their on stage characters. Position of power & preference is only during on stage professional and business performances. When we try to mix up our on stage roles with our personal and social roles, difficulty starts.

Family relations for all are common  - husband, wife, father, mother, son, daughter etc and friends for everyone  be it lawyer or beggar. They expect us to behave normally without our theatrical hat. 

Are you removing your theatrical HAT while with them ? Next time be conscious about the on stage hat you are wearing and removing the same when you are off stage. Life will be a different experience.

Monday, February 10, 2014

How little creativity can enable better Customer Experience (CX) ?

My family doctor is familiar with many other families too. Therefore there is a problem every-time I visit him. 

- Long waiting time
- Nothing to engage me during this waiting time

Same was the scenario at one of the prominent hospitals in Mumbai. Many people standing in queues on many counters waiting for their turn to come.  

I think in most places in healthcare sector this is the scenario. 

Why I like to address issues of customer experience(CX) in healthcare the most is because this is the sector where customer i.e. patient and their relatives are in maximum pain while they are waiting to be served.

Many a times it does not require rocket science to improve customer experience. It just need a mind of the people at the top and eye on companies in other sectors to learn from.

Couple of leading private sector banks have solved these issues, even Balaji temple in Tirupati & Cream Center at Chowatty has addressed these issues.  

Long Queues / Waiting Time:

Issue token number on arrival and token number attended on display. Based on the experience of the enterprise , even enterprise can display tentative time of waiting based on numbers in queue. 

Small dispensaries atleast can have token system (issue and display) which make patients in waiting to know number of persons before them and uncertainties of waiting time will end. People don't mind waiting if they are informed time of waiting , even they can do their work and come back. It is the uncertainties that makes them restless & spoils the entire experience. 

Engaging during waiting:

If waiting cant be avoided then make it interesting. Cream Center at Chowpatty has a system to give a sheet of puzzle/games to everyone after occupying the chair. People get engaged after ordering in solving  puzzle and in the process forget waiting time even if its little longer. Our saloons also used to keep old filmy magazines. In many a places they have TV to get engaged while waiting. 

However they miss on which channel on TV they put on display. Better customer experience will come from the channel they put up on display. Cartoon Network (CN) kind of channels and not news channel or movies which further adds to the stress level. CN kind of channel will not only make them engrossed but also will make them feel happy. 

Both the above small issues and many such issues of poor CX can be easily tackled and can be converted in to better customer experience by little thinking and application of customer centric thinking.

List down all the customer issues your organisation faces and solve it with little creativity , results will be phenomenal increase in CX.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Brutal Focus on Customer Experience (CX)

Apple is known for their sharp focus on  CX. 

Perhaps they are the leaders. 

They take care of even 'box opening' experience of the customer. 

Recently I read their sharp customer focus as defined as Brutal Focus on CX. The word BRUTAL which otherwise used in negative connotation was used to define extreme positive connotation. 

There is a new book in the market titled Stuffocation. Author James Wallman explains us that in the new economy where everything is produced in plenty & costumes have variety of choices, how do marketeer / sellers differentiate in this crowded market?

In this new economy people are now fed up with stuff they have in their cupboards and homes.  New age customers want experiences. These customers are defined as eXperientialist customers. They need experiences. Experiences to immersed with, experiences to recollect, experiences to feel differently.  Even manufacturers , mall , retailers & service providers can create experiences - which are pleasantly memorable & worth sharing. Customers do not need to go on holiday or theme parks to get experiences.

There are examples of accounting firms, dentists , computer service businesses that are creating superior customer eXperiences.

Here lies a challenge and an opportunity for every enterprises. In the Stuffocation world
it is the experience economy that rules. 

Brutal Focus on CX - Apple  (Manufacturing & retailing)
Extreme Customer Orientation - Gjensidige Insurance Company (Service Provider)
There is a Book on The company's CX way of doing business - Starbucks (Retailing)
Customer Experience Co-Creation - Fidelity Mutual Funds (Service Provider)
Entertainment Business at 25000 feet above the sea level - Virgin Airlines (Travel)
__________________ - Your Company? 

Filling this blank will give direction to your enterprise and working on it will give competitive edge

Indian customers are eagerly waiting for a brand that can be matched with best in the world in CX creation.