Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Do you like contact with prospects?

Most companies have (on their site) a contact page. Usually it mentions a physical address and an email. A phone number is not mentioned very often – ‘don’t call us, we call you’.
The email looks like this info@.........

So far that looks rather logical. The main failure is that I have never received an answer from mails send to these info@ …. addresses. However,  most of my inquiries were related to where I could buy their products!

Apparently they are not really interested in having new customers. I would suggest to seriously respond to these questions or to skip the contacts page.

Are you responding to customer inquiries?

Enthusiasm drives Excellence!

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The co-……. hype

You can’t read any article without finding the co-word.   New ones are defined every day. Here are some examples:
-        co-authoring
-        co-branding
-        co-creation
-        co-designing
-        co-owning
-        co-parenting
-        co-producer
-        co-……. etcetera

In essence, this is what co means:                                                  
co- |kəʊ|
1 (forming nouns) joint; mutual; common: coeducation.
2 (forming adjectives) jointly; mutually: coequal.
3 (forming verbs) together with another or others: coproduce | co-own.

While most challenges clearly do need a team approach, adding the co-word is not a magic recipe for success.

Working together (from two to n- people) is in itself not easy. Especially when you bring a group of freelancers or entrepreneurs together. They are all their own bosses and have their own agendas. This is a bit easier when you build teams of employees.

There is a huge amount of literature about how to build great performing teams and what the various roles should be.
What is missing is that (as a condition sine qua non) you need to make sure that the proposed team members share the same motivation, priorities and ambition. In other words, why are you willing to be part of this team, how important is this teamwork to you and what goals do you have? If you don’t align these requirements upfront, you will always face a lot of wasteful difficulties in the team.

What are you doing to effectively co-work with each other?

Enthusiasm drives Excellence!

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Be open to changing the rules (i.e. the system)

Last week, I did attend the Open Innovation Festival in my city, Amersfoort. It was a nice event, but I really don’t understand why they called it “open”. There was nothing being discussed where ideas were sourced from the community. There were no initiatives to truly engage the local community. It was more about what innovation is. Well, the way it looks to the local government.

The mayor and general council gave a presentation about what innovation is. That was really shocking as the content was really poor and missing the point. They did exclude disruptive innovation from the menu! They said that they were only interested in incremental innovations.

At the same time cities are confronted with a lot of challenges and a more demanding population. A consulting agency did share that they are experiencing huge problems in aligning all stakeholders (citizens, public servants, management, council and board).

If you stick to the old rules and are not open to fundamentally change the system, then it will be very hard (even impossible) to get good results. You have to be open to changing the rules. A simple example from field hockey does illustrate this. When the FIH (international hockey board) skipped the rule of ‘offside’, the game became much more attractive. Also the number of goals scored did increase a lot. Scores like 5-4 or 7-3 are normal sores now and the public loves it.

So, if you really want to align all stakeholders then you (corporations, governments, NGO’s) have to be open to changing the rules of the game!

Enthusiasm drives Excellence!

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Friday, November 30, 2012

What happens if bookkeepers run your biz?

This week I did get a mail from my car insurance. There was a letter that due to some market conditions, they had to increase the price. I can understand that. So, then I did check the price increase and I couldn’t believe it, as the increase was 56%!!

My thought was that this had to be a mistake, so, I did call the insurance. The customer service lady was already glad that I didn’t shout at her, clearly I was not the only one picking up the phone! She had to check this with another department and said she would call me back. She did call me back and sais that indeed there was a mistake, the price increase should have been 50% as that was the maximum increase allowed according to their T&C’s. Again I was flabbergasted, because I have been driving without any damages for at least 22 years! I did tell her that now I was forced to check out other offers in the market and she said that she could understand this. End of call!

I did check out several options and I did find another assurance, which was even 39% cheaper than my original insurance, before the price increase! That makes me happy again. But obviously not the original insurer.

It is clear that bookkeepers have had a look at the numbers and they decided to increase the prices to cover the costs. Clearly they had no feeling at all for customer behavior (and even their own behavior). I guess that 95% of their customers, who have the same experience as I had, will leave. This means they will end up with just a very few customers paying the higher price. They will loose a lot of business! While this price increase is clearly absurd, they also could have looked at the Lifetime Value of their customers. I did pay my insurance to them for more than 10 years without any damage, so this revenue went straight to the bottom-line.  If they would have looked at this then they already could see that any price increase would have a negative effect.

Who is more important, the bookkeepers or the customers!

PS. This is a large insurance company from the largest mobility organization in the country!

Enthusiasm drives Excellence!

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Friday, November 16, 2012

There are always opportunities for innovation

These days, if you follow the news, it is a lot of doom and gloom. Hurricane Sandy, earthquakes, Syrian war, rising numbers of unemployment etc. It is easy to be influenced by this kind of news. Therefor I do recommend spending a minimal amount of time following this negative news. And then you can use the ‘extra’ time to discover inspiring news. There are many blogs, videos, and podcasts, articles that emphasize positive and innovative news.

These circumstances provide a good breeding ground for new innovations. Please bear in mind that most innovations start at the edge and not at the center of most activities. It is hard to be innovative if you follow the pack. For example, I just listened to an interview with someone from Aurora pens and he said that the focus on standardization (in his case pc’s tablets, phones) gives him the opportunity to specialize in a niche area (nice writing instruments). He even mentioned a research that some schools in Italy are having their kids use fountain pens, as this improves their learning capability!

It is an interesting approach to do the opposite of what is at the center, e.g.

Center                                                           Edge
- standardization                                           - tailoring
- fashion colors are mild                                - colors are extreme
- eat as much as you can                               - eat as healthy as you can
- attain more goods                                       - have great experiences
- use plastics                                                 - use natural materials

You can go on and on with this approach. And it works, there are always customers who want to feel special and who have special needs. It is also easier to be successful at the edge than trying to innovate from the core.

What inspires you, today?

Enthusiasm drives Excellence!

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