Thursday, December 11, 2014

Imagine that you are a customer

Yesterday I had a meeting in a hotel. We were having a great conversation until someone started vacuum cleaning in our area. It was around 11AM.  We had to almost shout towards each other to make ourselves heard.
Actually, I have had this experience in other hotels as well. Around mid-morning they start vacuum cleaning. It looks like that it is a standard procedure in the housekeeping manual.

This indicates 2 types of problems:

  • 1.    The employee is clearly disengaged. Otherwise she would have waited or would have asked us whether she was disturbing us. Neither action happened.
  • 2.    The management in the hotel has no clue what happens on the work floor. Or even worse, they also don’t care.

This kind of behavior has a negative influence on the customer experience.
So, I suggest to regularly change roles (be a customer) in order to get to know what the impact is of what you are doing. This is especially needed for the management.

How would you like to be treated as a customer?

Enthusiasm drives Excellence!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Who knows all about your customers?

The other day I was wandering about the high-tech content of ecommerce. Every day there are new online stores being opened, where you can buy anything from tennis rackets, to books, to diapers.
Placing the order on the website and planning the delivery is most of the high tech activity.

Then a large part of the ecommerce business is done offline, i.e. the physical delivery of the goods to your doorstep by couriers. This is actually the high-touch component of ecommerce.

Every day there are a number of delivery vans (from TNT, PostNL, UPS etc) cruising through my neighborhood. And these couriers know everything about what the people buy in that neighborhood.  We always have the same man, he is very nice and polite and knows the names of the people in my street, where they live (the number), what they buy, how much and when. He knows my buying behavior across different ecommerce platforms. He knows that about ma and about any person in the neighborhood.

It looks to me that not many organizations are aware of this walking source of business intelligence! – and are using him appropriately.

Do you have any ideas how to use this knowledge?

Enthusiasm drives Excellence!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A product with a free service or a service with a free product

In retail there is a battle for survival. Bricks and mortar stores are having huge problems to deal with the competition from E-commerce.
Most players are rather creative in trying to capture the attention of potential customers.

Last week I did buy a Sonos loudspeaker. These are rather pricey, so I had just put it on my wish list. By coincidence I saw that Sonos now had a special offer. This offer includes a full year free service from a streaming music service called Deezer. The regular price of this service is €9,99 per month and I now have free access for a year. That seems like a great deal for me.
But who will benefit from this deal , is it Sonos or Deezer.? Probably Sonos has to pay a certain amount to Deezer to include this offer. After one year, I can cancel my subscription to Deezer and do a market scan for the right offer, This can be Deezer, but also one of their competitors like Spotify. Then Deezer runs the risk that they will loose me as a customer. For Sonos, it doesn’t matter, as they did sell their product already.

I think a better alternative would have been the other way around. What do I mean? Why didn’t Deezer offer me their music service for maybe €15,- per month in which the use of an up to date Sonos speaker is included? In that way all three parties (customer, Sonos and Deezer) involved will benefit and there is a high likelihood that I would be a loyal customer for a few years.

It looks like an old approach, where services are offered for free. Service providers should be more aware of their position in the market and take the lead, rather than putting themselves in a dependent position form product manufacturers.

Enthusiasm drives Excellence!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What is the goal of design?

Last week I did go to Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven. It was a costly trip by train and the admission fee was also much too high. Oh yeah and it rained cats and dogs, so that sets the scene!
Basically (former) students are sharing their work in various places.

However I did not see anything that I would consider to be useful, with the exception of a good-looking bike. The intent was to allow the manufacturing to happen here, rather than in China. The rest of the pots, carpets, lights and sites was not making me enthusiastic.

I might be mistaken, but isn’t the goal of good design to make a connection between the product and me, the customer?  And it was not only my experience; I did hear the same reaction from more people, that the show was very disappointing.

It looks like something is wrong with the way we are educating students. They should learn to design with the customer in mind, right from the start! Also I did ask the Design Academy whether they were focusing on service design (more than 80% of our economy is service based) or on sustainability. The response was a glaze of not knowing what I was talking the about. They were doing “ all kinds of design”.

The lack of interest in sustainability was also shocking, as many designers were having studios in the former Philips factories. These factories are huge concrete building with very high ceilings. I did ask what there were doing with respect to sustainability. The answer was “nothing” and they did complain about the costs of heating in the winter.

I would say that this is another missed chance. Students should be familiarized with sustainability in every aspect of their education.

How can we change as a society if we don’t teach students new and necessary approaches?

Enthusiasm drives Excellence!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Detaching is crucial for small business owners

Especially in retail, small business owners make very long hours, each week. During daytime and part of the evening they are open to serve customers and when the shop is closed they have to do the admin, ordering and replenishing the stock.

They are in this routine, 6 days per week. That is quite challenging, physical as well as mental. The risk is that they have no time and energy left to scan and research the market. The only newness they bring are new products, which they got delivered from their distribution channel.

This means that they might be up for a big surprise, and it is likely not a nice surprise. E.g. a retailer of organic foods might be very satisfied with a steady growth in sales. What they are missing is that the large supermarkets are also very aware of this trend. These supermarkets are thus adding much more organic products to their collection. And that means that the niche retailers for organic products are loosing more market share than they initially had.

It is therefor crucial to set weekly one hour aside to look into the future, to scan the market and to consider innovation on all kind of levels. If you are not detaching from the daily grind, you might be in for a nasty surprise.

Are you detaching regularly?

Enthusiasm drives Excellence!