Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The main difference between a bricks-and-mortar store and a digital store

Last week I did visit a golf store to buy some new shoes. While I drove by with the car, I could not find their parking, as the area was completely closed and there were no signs at all. When I finally did enter the store (at 10.20 am) they were still vacuum cleaning. Not a good sign, why can’t you make sure that this is done before the store opens?
I did go straight to the shoes and looked for the particular model that I was interested in. I could not find it and it took quite some time before a sales repr approached me. She also didn’t know whether they did sell that model! The boss told her “if it is not on the table, we don’t have it”. Hmmm, again not a good sign. Although they had an alternative, it was not even offered to me. Then I did have a look at their clearance sale and did find a suitable pair of shoes.  I did go for the low price.

The total customer service experience was so bad, that I will never return to that store.
However, the main differentiator between a bricks-and-mortar store and a digital store is the customer service. I did not order the shoes online, as I wanted to try them on and walk a bit around. And I had some questions, which were not being answered on the site. This I was also prepared to pay more because I would value the customer service. The opposite happened, because of bad service, I paid less than I had planned for in my budget.

Research clearly indicates that many people are willing to pay more for good customer service. For bricks-and-mortar stores it is vital to provide super customer service!

Are you planning to design a great customer service experience?

Enthusiasm drives Excellence!

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The higher the expectations, the lower the innovation results

There is a growing interest in creativity and in innovation. More and more leaders see the need to increase the rate of innovation. But many leaders are using old-fashioned methods to incentivize these efforts. For instance they will give a large bonus if the innovation meets or exceeds the targets. Most of the time this will have a negative effect on the performance and not (the intended) positive effects.

Here is a quote from Dan Ariely, The Upside of Irrationality:

“To summarize, using money to motivate people can be a double-edged sword. For tasks that require cognitive ability, low to moderate performance-based incentives can help. But when the incentive level is very high, it can command too much attention and thereby distract the person’s mind with thoughts about the reward. This can create stress and ultimately reduce the level of performance.”

So, instead of huge bonuses it is much more effective to:
-       Recognize innovators for their efforts
-       Give them the resources required
-       Support the innovation from the top (in words and deeds)
-       Lead activities to change the product-out culture into a customer-centric culture
-       Stimulate cross-silo collaboration
-       Connect with customers on a regular basis

Innovation does not only require the design of new products or services, but also the design of a new way of working together.

How are you stimulating innovations?

Enthusiasm drives Excellence!

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Friday, May 18, 2012

For whom are you innovating?

Just a few weeks ago I had a short flight to Copenhagen. And again the check-in process keeps on surprising me. I am used to the self service terminals. It is still amazing that there are a lot of customer service repr’s needed to assist people with registering. Clearly the process to check-in your self is still not very easy and intuitive.

The same applies to checking-in your luggage. There was a new machine (see pic) where I could check-in the luggage myself.

I was really wowed by the technology. Incredible what is possible these days. What surprised me was that also to use this machine there was still a lot of help needed from customer service repr’s. Apparently they are not so easy to use for many customers.

This brings me to the following question. For whom are you innovating here? For the customers, or for yourself to save on labor costs? And are you really saving a lot of labor costs, as still quite a lot of customer service repr’s are needed to assist. I think the innovation (in this case) is for the internal organization only. If they had applied Design Thinking methodologies, they would have find out that customers prefer a totally different experience. As a customer I don’t want to use two different machines (which I find hard to use) and hope that I did everything well. I really would prefer that when I arrive at the counter I will be welcomed by a nice smiling customer service repr who asks for my ticket, passport and luggage and who checks it all in for me. While that is happening I will be seated on a couch and have a nice (and hopefully) interesting chat with another traveller. That would be a very great customer service experience!

So, for whom are you really innovating?

Enthusiasm drives Excellence!

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Feedback is important, but …..

In our education system we are taught to focus on the weaknesses and the defects. That is the way we are being rated. The focus is on what is wrong, not on what is right. For example, you have 3 faults out of 10. We don’t say you have 7 good out of 10.
The same negative focus is part of the performance review process. In one of my first formal reviews, my manager talked for 50 minutes about things, which could be improved. So, I thought that I would receive an insufficient rating and I did become scared. However, to my big surprise I did receive a ‘Usually Exceeds Requirements’ rating! I still do feel the surprise and above all the negative feeling.

This way of giving feedback is especially damaging in innovation. As you are starting something new it is of course wise to receive all kinds of feedback (positive and negative) but you must not have the feeling that you can better stop with your new project.

It is important to understand:
-       - Who did give the feedback and how representative this person is for the target group?
-       - Is it a minor improvement or a major change which is required?
-       - How did the majority feel about your innovation? Please note that only a few will give formal feedback. So, you have to approach the others and ask for it.
-       - Is the feedback focused on making the offering better?
-       - What is needed to make it perfect?

If you have just sown some grass seeds and the small grass is just popping up, do you let someone with big boots run over you new grass? No, of course not! But you really would like to hear from him how to make your grass go faster, isn’t it?!
So, be careful with feedback and use it in the right way and don’t let you get distracted from the goal.

Enthusiasm drives Excellence!

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