Saturday, March 25, 2017

A new model to start innovation

 

The start of innovation is described by Wikipedia as the messy getting started period of a new product development process. It is in the front end where the organization formulates a concept of the product or service to be developed and decides whether or not to invest resources in the further development of an idea [i]. The ‘front end’ is the informal start of innovation and defined as “fuzzy” by many due to its lack of process and structure. Prof. Dr. Cornelius Herstatt and Birgit Verworn state on this: “Within the innovation process, we believe, the early phases (“fuzzy front end”) to have the highest impact on the whole process and the result, since it will influence the design and total costs of the innovation extremely. However, the “Fuzzy Front End” is unfortunately the least well-structured part of the innovation process, both in theory and in practice.” [ii]

15 obstacles are hindering innovation at its start

As speaker on innovation I have been traveling around the world meeting innovators, managers and CEOs in different cultures: from Canada to Cape Town; and from Turkey to Tokyo. I start my workshops asking them the direct question, “What are your main struggles at the start of innovation?” From all these workshops I identified fifteen obstacles which may block you during the fuzzy front end along the path towards a successful new business case:

  1. Unclear strategy
  2. No priority for innovation
  3. No market need
  4. No insights or inspiration
  5. No time
  6. Lack of resources
  7. No internal support 
  8. Politics
  9. Insufficient skills
  10. Fear of failure
  11. No fit
  12. Too slow
  13. Not feasible
  14. No business model
  15. Not original

 

Innovation starts with an idea, a technology, a problem or a business issue

Now we nailed all the problems at the fuzzy front end, let’s work on the solution to unfuzzy it. The way innovation starts is diverse. There are four common patterns how you start innovation.

  1. You start innovation with a idea, like Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia of AIRBNB. When a major design conference came to town in 2007, they saw an opportunity to earn some extra cash by renting out their spare floor space. In no time they had put together a website advertising lodging for overnight guests which they called “Airbed and Breakfast”.
  2. You start innovation triggered by technology, like Google X research lab, which explores new technologies beyond Google’s core business, with for example their Google Glass experiment.
  3. You start innovation to solve a problem, like two students in Sweden, Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin. The prospect of being forced by law to wear a bicycle helmet caused them great concern, as they wouldn’t “be caught dead wearing a polystyrene helmet.” They started developing a bicycle helmet that people would be happy to wear.
  4. You start innovation because your business needs to innovate, like toy-producer LEGO when in 1998 they generated their first loss in the company’s history. In response to this crisis, the company announced the lay-offs of 1,000 employees and put innovation on their agenda.
The front end of innovation ends with a well-founded new business case

I learned that to convince the management of an organization or (in)formal investors to let your innovative idea enter the formal development process and give you the resources needed, you must bring to the table a well-founded convincing new business case. Now the crucial word in the last sentence is ‘convincing’. This means you really must know your stuff. In the boardroom your idea will be evaluated from at least four perspectives:

  • The customer: will they buy it?
  • The technology: can we deliver it?
  • The business model: will it pay off?
  • The risk: What if it's a failure? What if it's huge success?

The board will demand tangible proof before making a decision. That makes the front end of innovation so challenging and intensive. In practice it will take at least ten activities to take you to this desired outcome in a structured way. 

 10 essential activities to unfuzzy your front end

  1. Ideate: Generating and choosing original relevant ideas for a product, service, process or experience.
  2. Focus: Defining your innovation center-of-interest including all the boundary conditions.
  3. Check Fit: Checking if your idea, technology, customer issue or business challenge fits your personal and corporate priorities.
  4. Create Conditions: Organizing the right moment, the right team, the right pace and the right funding for your innovation initiative.
  5. Discover: Discovering trends, markets, technologies and customer insights.
  6. Create Business Model: Creating a viable business model.
  7. Select Technology: Identifying and selecting the right technology to deliver your new product, service, process or experience.
  8. Check Freedom to Operate: Checking if you do not infringe intellectual property rights of others.
  9. Experiment: Carrying out a systematic research or test which validates the adoption and attractiveness of your new product, service, process or experience.
  10. Create New Business Case: Creating a well-founded convincing business case for your new product, service, process or experience.
Pick the Right Route and Stay flexible

In ‘The Innovation Maze’, you find both the 15 obstacles and the 10 activities essential for the start of innovation. The maze has four entry points.

  1. Idea – A rough business idea or a great business opportunity
  2. Technology – A new technology that sparks innovation
  3. Customer problem – A problem or a pain point
  4. Business challenge – An external or internal change that jeopardizes the future of the business

Each of the four innovation routes contains all ten activities. The great news is that whether you start with an idea, a technology, a customer issue or a business challenge you can use the same activities and the same tools. The order in which the ten activities are undertaken depends on how you start innovation. Be aware that doing things in the right order has a huge impact on the effectiveness.

Here's an example of the Idea Route:

 

You can download a free pdf of all the 4 four routes. Wishing you lots of success navigating the innovation maze.

Do you like this post? Then, check out Gijs van Wulfen's new innovation bestseller at: Amazon UK or Amazon US.

Are you looking for an inspiring innovation speaker? Check out the movies and reviews at gijsvanwulfen.com. To read more from Gijs on LinkedIn, please click the FOLLOW button above or below. 

[i]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_product_development#Fuzzy_Front_End

[ii] Prof. Dr. Cornelius Herstatt, Dipl.-Ing. Birgit Verworn, August 2001,

 https://www.tuhh.de/tim/downloads/arbeitspapiere/Arbeitspapier_4.pdf

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Social selling

The #1 problem in 2017 for sales people across the globe is lack of sales pipeline... yet that's a symptom rather than a root-cause. 

The real problem is an aversion to high levels of the right combinations of intelligent activities that are required for sales success. 'Pick up the bloody phone' after you've done quick pragmatic research. Call their cell phone, leave them message, send them a text and then follow-up with e-mail and inmail.... bang, bang, bang, bang, bang. 2 minutes and all done. Move on to the next person on your list... the list you created, ready to go, before you left work the day before.

Hit the phone in prime time, 7:45am to 8:45am before they are subsumed into endless meetings for the day. What will they think as alerts ding away in their pocket?

"Wow, this person is seriously determined" 

But make sure you have the right narrative. No-one is business is lonely and bored seeking a new friend. Nor are they wanting to hear about your stellar products, services or solutions. Every conversation must provide value for the other person. Focus on the outcomes you can help them achieve... lead to the value you offer rather than lead with a 'pitch' or value proposition. Have some humility in your approach yet peppered with passionate belief in the difference you can make.

"Sounds like they're worth talking to" 

Last week I was interviewed by my good friend Timothy Hughes in London and we discussed the fact that 'the rise of the silent sales floor' is a huge problem for sellers who are neglecting the importance of the phone. This topic will be the focus of a keynote session I am presenting at Salesforce World Tour in Sydney on March 21st.

Social selling on it's own does not deliver what is needed. Buyers are blinded by the white wall of outreach hitting their inbox. 

Unless you're selling low value commodities; then human-to-human (H2H) engagement is still critically important because...

People prefer to buy from those they know, like and trust, and the relationships you build are the strongest point of competitive differentiation 

Play the YouTube video below to watch this 30 minute conversation... the best 'social selling' advocates have swung back toward the 'social [voice] phone' as being an essential part of the digital arsenal.

To succeed in creating sales pipeline, and ultimately new successful customers, we must provide value in every conversation well in advance of any value being provided from our product, service or solutions. We must open a new relationship by providing value through insight, we then build trust over time by delivering with aligned values.

But what happens when we find a prospect but their timing is not right?

This is where technology and automation is so important. Sales people need to hand-off to marketing automation platforms that can lead-nurture with content that provides value to the buyer every step through their buying journey. Marketing automation is not just for 'web-to-lead' but is also essential for building long-term sales pipeline. The foundational element is incredibly difficult to create... content publishing.

Treasure those who can create high value content with which marketing teams can attract and nurture leads 

To keep your prospects 'swimming around the boat' every business needs a platform that brings marketing, sales, service, support and stakeholder engagement together. This is because Customer eXperience (CX) is the single biggest point of differentiation and the best start to create a 'great experience' as early in the buyer's journey as possible. I recently downloaded the new State of Sales report from the Salesforce website as part of my research for being a paid speaker at one of their events. I was called within hours and they did it well... no hard sell and simply wondering what my interest was in the report and if there was anything else they could help with. I am now in their sales and marketing database and being profiled for future contact as appropriat

The point  here is that everything must work together... sales and marketing... social and the phone... insight and value... old school and new school... humans and the machines. But for sales people who need to personally create sales pipeline MUST include the phone because the human voice is the most magical way to truly connect with the head and heart of the decision-making buyer.

I'll be speaking on all of this at Salesforce World Tour in Sydney on March 21st so register now to come and join the conversation and network with thousands of other sales professionals. Learn from real world case studies and the very best thought leaders from around the globe including Tiffani Bova.

If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' button and also share via your Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook social media platforms. I encourage you to join the conversation or ask questions so feel free to add a comment on this post. Please follow my LinkedIn post page for all my articles. Visit me at www.tonyhughes.com.au if you're looking for a keynote speaker to wake-up and inspire your sales team. Go to www.RSVPselling.com for my sales methodologies that generate pipeline and manage complex opportunities. Main image from Flickr: Craig Sunter - Silenced!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sparkmag: Millionaires make Sydney 1st Choice

Sparkmag: Millionaires make Sydney 1st Choice:   23rd Feb 2017: Two years running OZ ranks No # 1 by Millionaires seeking a new home.  Last year  11,000 Millionaire Immigrants settled in ...

Collaboration

BBG is about collaboration.

Collaboration is a working practice whereby individuals work together to a common purpose to achieve business benefit.

Collaboration at the conceptual level, involves:
  • Awareness – We become part of a working entity with a shared purpose
  • Motivation – We drive to gain consensus in problem solving or development
  • Self-synchronization – We decide as individuals when things need to happen
  • Participation – We participate in collaboration and we expect others to participate
  • Mediation – We negotiate and we collaborate together and find a middle point
  • Reciprocity – We share and we expect sharing in return through reciprocity
  • Reflection – We think and we consider alternatives
  • Engagement – We proactively engage rather than wait and see

How To Create “Endless Chains” of Referralsi

 


BY: DAN KENNEDY 
What present do we really want from every client, customer or patient?
What must you strive to get from them to be a leader in your field with more business than you can handle.
It's a warm referral
Paul J. Meyer talks about  “The Endless Chain of Referrals.” Paul is a famously successful insurance company developer, who went on to create the Success Motivation Institute (SMI) who for decades have been a leading force in sales and success training and publishing.
Paul’s premise is that you never need to be without a good prospect as long as you have just one client who trusts you. Every client should beget another.
85% of our business are existing customers and 85% of our new clients comes from referrals
And there is one word that enables you to build an endless chain of referrals:- 
trust!!!!
There is a risk in referring
When someone refers you business  and that referral client has an unsatisfactory experience, the referrer who brought him will hear about it. Endlessly.
There is risk in referring. Even a greater risk than there is in doing business with you.
It’s easier for a client to trust you enough to make a purchase from you, but it takes a higher level of trust in you for a client to refer someone to you through word of mouth. 
And yet an even higher level of trust for them to actually bring clients to you.
How many “endless chains” of referrals do you have?
How can you build trust with your clients and alliance partners ?
If you are seeking new clients,  “Where can I find clients?”  is the wrong question to ask. 
The right question is “How can I construct a business persona and life so that clients seek me out, with trust in place?”
Building chains of endless referrals brings you more and better clients to your door and helps you attract only those people who are interested in what you are selling requires trust .
If you do not have clients bringing you good clients, customers, or patients, a number of which repeatedly bring you new ones, and endless chains of referrals emanating from clients, you won’t like this, but you do not have their trust!
There’s something wrong. You are NOT creating enough trust to multiply those customers. 
What do you think you need to do to build trust with your customers and alliance partners?
  • Have you got the right clients? 
  • Have you got the right alliance partners? 
  • Have you built a persona a nd business that emanates trust? 
  • Do you have a coach, mentor, board of advisers to guide you along? 

If you believe that you have a business that can be built of trust, and you are interested to grow your business, feel free to contact me https://members.referron.com/bsivc , and I will refer you to Geoff, Greg or Dan to either join a BBG Breakfast Forum, or partnerm with us to create one in your area. 




A thinktank on the Dos and Don'ts of customer service

The March 2017 HNI forum this morning was charged, as Geoff was facilitating  the  thinktank of customer experience and its importance in growing your business.


Only 6 places available until group is at capacity! 

 

The team came up with the following Do's and Dont's of Customer Service.....


Do's

  1. Set expectations - Preframe what's going to happen 
  2. Systemise and document processes 
  3. Gratitude 
  4. Trust 
  5. Relationship is key  - making your customer  feel needed - make customer feel important - know their name, family, needs and wants. Be warm, Making it an awesome experience , obsess on the little things, be nice, don't make customer feel that they are just a number services by a machine 
  6. Think outside the box - find different solutions 
  7. Take responsibility - own the problem until it is solved 
  8. 24/7 service 
  9. Be accessible 
  10. Regular contact - frequency is good
  11. Demonstrate value upfront 
  12. Human to human -is important but automate well
  13. Don't avoid complaints - tackling it - a well handled complaint - a force for your business 
  14. Have a partnership approach to business - not a transactional approach 
  15. Provide a WOW service 
  16. Underpromise and Overdeliver


Don'ts

  1. Over promise under deliver - be true to your world 
  2. Lack of follow up
  3. Lack of respect 
  4. Be late 
  5. Be arrogant 
  6. Take too long 
  7. Be smartest person in room 
To join as a guest at the next event gobto www.bbg.business/events

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Deliver a “WOW” customer service experience

A. Introduction
» Get a “buzz” happening in the market, about your business
» Increase word of mouth sales
» Feel great about coming to work every day
» Your people also feel great about coming to work everyday
» Your customers just love being in your space and doing business with you
» The more you delight them, the more you increase the average value of a sale, AND the more you increase purchase frequency

B. Delivering a “WOW” experience explained
People expect a certain type of experience when they do business with a company. When you go above and beyond their expectations THAT’S when you create delight.
And when you create delight, you create a positive buzz which increases your referrals and your sales.
Not only that, there’s also a flow on effect in all areas of a business – especially in morale, energy and productivity.
This is an excerpt from “The Absolutely Critical Non-Essentials” by Paddi Lund. It’s a great example of creating a “WOW” experience. More details at www.paddilund.com
Nuts about Nuts – A ‘What If’ Story
Say you are the CEO of an airline. You have the idea that you want to do away with in-flight meals. 

You want to be the ‘airline that serves peanuts’.

Many people disparage your plans because they feel that to your customers the usual packet of airline peanuts will not be a very satisfactory substitute for an in-flight meal. However, you decide that you are going to do this whole peanut theme to the n’th degree and make the idea work amazingly well.

A few months later customers are getting the full ‘peanut experience’.

The first thing that hits them as they walk onto the plane is the aroma… the delicious smell of fresh roasted nuts. During each flight the ‘Keepers of the Nuts’ serves the finest peanuts slowly basted and carried in special peanut carts.

As the ‘Keeper’ rolls the cart through the cabin, salivating travellers are tempted by the smell of the nuts and the special dipping sauces simmering in the copper receptacles at the side of the cart.
The nuts are dipped in a sauce, placed lovingly into custom made brown paper bags with a pinch of salt in a twist of blue paper and finally served to each passenger with silver tongs on a silver tray.
Customers can read the story of this golden aristocracy of peanuts on the brown paper packaging – how they were tenderly shelled by dusky virgins in the Senegal and flown in on specially chartered planes … etc, etc.



C. How to create a “WOW” experience
The first thing to consider is that a customer develops an impression of your business at many different points throughout a transaction.
The first impression they have is the most lasting so the first touch with your organisation is of critical importance.

Let’s consider this …


When you dine at a restaurant there are as many 24 touch points for you to be either delighted or disgusted by the service at that restaurant.
Let’s take a look at what they are:
1. You see the ad in the newspaper
2. You ring up to reserve a table
3. You arrive at the restaurant, walk in and see the maitre de
4. You are seated at the table
5. Gives you menus and asks you if you would like a drink

6. Brings back drinks
7. Asks you for meal order
8. Adjusts the table setting to suit the meal you ordered
9. Bring out your entrée
10. Clear your entrée
11. Bring out dinner
12. Clear dinner plates
13. You go to the toilet
14. Comes back with dessert menu
15. Comes back to take dessert order
16. Arrives with dessert
17. Clears dessert plates
18. Arrives to ask if you would like coffee
19. Brings coffees
20. Removes coffee cups
21. Brings bill
22. You hand them your credit card and they take payment away
23. Bring back your credit card
24. You walk out

Makes you sit back and think, doesn’t it. The type of experience a customer has at any one of these touch points will have a bearing on whether or not they come back again. It will also have a bearing on whether they say “amazing” things or damaging things about the restaurant to their friends.
Let’s look a little more closely at a selection of the main touch points for a standard business …

1. When they see your ad or sales

The words, the design and the colour of your marketing material leave impressions in the hearts and minds of your customers. If you can create a ““WOW”” right from the outset, you’re setting your business apart.
A great example of creating a “WOW” experience for website visitors is the business …
1800 Got Junk hire out rubbish skips. It isn’t a glamorous business so they decided to add a little bling to what they’re doing my creating a fun, interactive website. When you visit their website you see a Junk Genie. The Junk Genie says that he can read your mind and guess and is willing to bet you $10 that he can do that.
He asks you to pick a number and go through a very short mathematical exercise. At the end of the exercise you have arrived at a single word which corresponds to the total number you arrived at. The Genie then goes on to guess that word.
And wouldn’t you know it – he’s right 100% of the time.

Website visitors are often dumbfounded. They don’t’ know how the Genie did it. They try it again and again. They forward it to their friends. Some end up guessing what the secret is. Others don’t but ALL get an interesting and memorable experience from the exercise. And ALL remember the name “Junk Genie” and 1800gotjunk.
A word of caution though: The prime focus of your marketing material is to sell NOT to simply create a sort of experience for the reader. If you can do both, great. If not, just focus on selling.
FREE lead generation offers are great for creating a favourable impression with readers.


2. The first call contact with a company

When most people call a company you might hear the words, “Hello, XYZ Company.” Or “Hello, XYZ Company, Melanie speaking” or you might even hear just a “yep.”
Believe it or not, the tone of your voice on the telephone has a very large impact on whether someone buys.
It creates that all important first impression. If someone feels they were treated indifferently or rudely, they in turn, reciprocate the attitude.
If they hear a “Grr…. What do YOU want?” or a “Nuhhh. Can’t ‘elp ya with that mate?” Or a “dunno” kind of answer, they’re not going to be overly impressed with the service.


On the other hand, imagine hearing a really sunny voice on the phone saying something like, “Thank you SO much for calling. Brian is the best person to speak with about that, would it be okay if I put you on hold for just a moment and get Brian for you?”
Notice the politeness by using the words “thank you” and “so much” and “would it be okay if I”. One of the keys to creating a “WOW” impression on the phone is, believe it or not, to smile before you pick up the telephone. Yes, that’s right. The simple act of smiling will instantly change your emotional state and put a smile into your voice.
If you have a smile in your voice your customer is thinking, this person is happy, this company then, must be a great place to work and it must offer a great product or service.
On the other hand, if they hear a gruff voice, they’ll feel the opposite.
Get the picture?
Inside the “Member Study Guide” that addresses telephone handling skills you’ll find a step-by-step guide on how to handle the telephone in a way that creates a positive first impression AND at the same time, increases your conversion rates.

3. When they first walk in
A business consulting firm prints out an A4 “welcome sign” and displays it just before a client walks in to an appointment. Here’s an example of the sign


Imagine this too.
Imagine that the receptionist or a better term for that, Director of First Impressions walks over to the client and says:
“Hi John. Great to see you again. Would you like a cappuccino again today? Two sugars, wasn’t it?”
“And we’ve got more of those delicious chocolate brownies in again. Would you like one of those today?”
People love to be acknowledged and remembered. And the receptionist in this example has done an amazing job of making that client feel very important. She acknowledged him with a welcome sign. She remembered his coffee and cake tastes.
Doing this is simply a matter of recording their likes and dislikes on your customer database. The receptionist then simply looks at the database the day before the appointment and makes the necessary arrangements.
Small effort but massive impact.
A restaurant on the Gold Coast takes this hospitality one step further. When you visit their head office and walk upstairs to the office area, you are warmly greeted at the reception area and offered a selection of 15 teas and 5 different coffees served from antique Royal Doulton cups. You are also invited to choose from a selection of assorted sandwiches, nibbles and cakes from an antique silver tea trolley.
They went to a massive amount of effort to create an inviting first impression and succeeded marvellously at it.

4. When customers purchase the product
At some restaurants, once you pay, you are handed an after dinner mint or a chocolate with your credit card and receipt, once you have purchased. This is a nice touch but what can you do that takes things one step further than that and REALLY create a “WOW”? Such a “WOW” that the customer actually says out loud, ““WOW”!”
Here’s how you could step that up a notch …
What if you went one step further and instead of simply handing back the person’s credit card with a chocolate, what if instead you did this …
“Thank you so much Mr and Mrs Jones. Brian, our Master Pastry Chef has created these exquisite new chocolates today, made with the finest Columbian, organically grown cocoa. We’d love you to try one with our compliments. I think you’ll adore them. “

The chocolate looks exquisite in a homemade patty case with gorgeous piping on it. The waiter then continues on …
“Also Mr and Mrs Jones, if you like Brian’s creations, it’d be our honour to have you back here in the future to try one of his exquisite desserts free of charge. Here’s a special certificate that entitles you to a complimentary dessert next time you dine with us.
And Mr and Mrs Jones, are you okay for a ride home or would you like us to order a taxi for you?”
See how this would have more impact than simply handing a customer a commercially-produced after dinner mint with their credit card and receipt?
What ““WOW”” can you create when people purchase?
Can you also include a voucher or certificate for something else (as an added surprise)?
Can you package or gift wrap the product beautifully complete with ribbon, bow and potpourri … free of charge?
Can you throw in a free report or white-paper or something else?
What can you do?
Remember, whenever you feature a surprise gift or a value-added gift that wasn’t part of the original purchase, always make sure you tell the customer so they know that you are doing them a favour and going that extra mile. If you don’t, some customers may think that the bonus formed part of the purchase and with that, there’ll be no delight factor.
So – always tell them. And when you do that, always tell them why you’re gifting it in.
“I thought that since you have children, this whitepaper on “30 Parenting Tips” might come in handy. I hope you enjoy it … with our compliments”.
5. When the product arrives on their door step …

With all products purchased over the phone or via mail, the MOST important time in these transactions is when the package arrives and the customer opens it.
Think about it. A person has handed over his/her credit card details over the phone or via the internet or mail, they’re excited about receiving the product but they’re also a little nervous about getting ripped off, or about the product NOT living up to expectations.
Which of these situations would you be more impressed with?
The package arrives in one of those plastic courier-style envelopes. It is ripped and has scuff marks on it. You open the package and, sure enough, the product itself has been damaged.
What’s even more annoying is that there was no padding inside the box. If there had been that damage mightn’t have occurred. By now you’re annoyed because you needed that product. But now you need to go to the trouble of calling up the company arranging for the product to be returned so you can get a replacement – all of this taking valuable time that you simply don’t have.
Sound familiar?
Contrast that situation with this one:
The package arrives in a clean, plain box. You open the box and find the product beautifully wrapped like a gift, in tissue paper. You see popcorn has been used as padding instead of polystyrene. You also find a handful of minties thrown in to the box.
On top of the wrapped product is a small gift card. You open the gift card and it says:

Hi John,
Here’s your widget. I have personally inspected it for quality and took the liberty of wrapping it for you.
I hope it is to your liking.
Enjoy!
Maria
Big difference, isn’t there?! Sure it might cost a little more in money and time to implement but it will be well worth the effort.
6. The day after their purchase …

The day after someone purchases is often a time when they have come off their purchasing high and sometimes they start having second thoughts and regrets about the purchase. Did I do the right thing?
Would XYZ have been a better option? Will it work? Have I been ripped off? It goes on and on.
These “second thoughts” or post-purchase dissonance is completely natural. Everyone feels it to a certain extent. The key is to combat that by reassuring people they have made a wise purchasing decision. More significantly than that, making them feel that it’s the best decision they’ve ever made.
These initiatives might include a welcome pack and a follow-up phone call. Then – to get that “jaw dropping” shock happening, you might want to also include a gift basket or some sort of package or gesture that makes your customer say ““WOW””.
See also Post-Purchase Reassurance Member Study Guide.

Put the customer “in control”
Once you know when to delight customers, it’s time to look more at the “how”. Customer Service Standards can consist of all manner of initiatives but one of the most powerful ones is to put your customer in the driver’s seat.
Let me explain …
Give them control. Customers often feel nervous when buying because they aren’t in control of what happens after they hand over their money. If you can give them back some of that control, you’re one step closer to creating a customer for life.
When people go to the dentist they fear pain. The dentist could give their patients control by giving them a “pain button” to press if the pain got too much.
When people fly one of the things they get nervous about is the plane being late which might mean them missing their appointment. Where delays are known in advance, a travel agent could gives customers 24 hour notice of plane delays so they have time to make alternative arrangements.
The first step in putting the customer back in control is to work out what their control needs are.
What are all the costly, time consuming and disastrous things that can go wrong when people deal with your industry?

The best people to ask that question of are your front-line team members. Ask them and request that they ponder it for a week as they deal with customers. Ask them to come up with a list of frustrations and a list of suggestions on how your company can put “control” back in the hands of your customers.
Select the best comments, brainstorm and implement. Try the low risk ones first and gauge feedback to see how well it is working.
Consistency is critical
It’s no use delivering awesome service when people purchase and then when you get down to the factory floor, the production people are doing shoddy work and taking forever to dispatch products. All that great work you’ve put in on the front end is wasted.
It isn’t good enough JUST to deliver a “WOW” experience at one step in the buying cycle. It must happen at EVERY single step of the transaction.
You’ve heard the term, “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link”. Well, the same goes for your customer service procedures. It’s ALL or nothing.
Picture this …
You book into an opulent hotel. The lobby is breathtaking … wall to floor marble, chandeliers, incredible opulence as far as the eye can see. You’re suitably impressed.
You walk up to your room and it is equally as breathtaking. Incredibly spacious with opulent décor and fittings. A gorgeous fruit basket sits on the Louis XV table. You walk into the bathroom and see a massive marble roman bath. Every little detail has been accounted for. You’re amazed.
You then walk over to the window and open the curtains. When you do that your heart sinks. All you can see is a half demolished brick wall. All that beauty and luxury inside is spoilt by the decaying mess of the view. Your initial excitement about the room has changed to disappointment.


See the importance of consistency?
The best way to ensure consistency is to firstly have a set of Consistent Customer Service Standards. These Service Standards address the commitments you and your people are willing to make to deliver outstanding service in each area of your business. It also makes specific commitments around deadlines and timeframes so customers know exactly what they can expect from the outset.
Here’s an example of a Customer Service Statement from The Sisters of Mercy Health System:
Customer Service and Satisfaction Creed
Our abiding belief in the dignity of every human being compels us, the co-workers of Mercy, to exceed our Customers’ expectations by delivering the highest degree of clinical care and service.
Our Customers are those needing our services, including their families and friends.
» We believe emphasis on service relationships throughout the continuum of care is fundamental to living out our Mission, Vision and Values.
» We believe our Customers are central to everything we do, making each of us caregivers.
» We believe we work in partnership with others to serve our customers. The physician is a key partner in serving customers and achieving customer satisfaction.
» We believe Customer service is “our way of life.” All co-workers have the power to make this way of life a reality.
» We believe we are called to compassionate service in response to our Customers’ needs, particularly during times of stress and high anxiety.
» We believe our quality of service must lead to superior Customer satisfaction.

Stimulating the senses
While you’re brainstorming ideas on what you can do to create that ““WOW”” experience, consider the effect that the senses have on a person’s emotions. See what you can do to stimulate each of their senses in a positive way. When you’re doing that, pay particular attention to the sense of smell.
Research shows that this is THE most important sense for having an impact on somebody. It makes a lingering impression: in fact, studies suggest that people recall smell with up to 64% accuracy after one year. Now, that’s powerful associative power!

Sight:
» The colours
» The aesthetic beauty
» The cleanliness
» The feng shui (physical appearance)
Hearing:
» Soothing classical music that transports people to another place
» The sound of trickling waterfall which creates a soothing effect
Smell:
» The smell of freshly baked bread when you enter a shop
» The smell of frangipani’s that remind you of visits to grandma’s house
Taste:
» Home baked cookies
» Exotic chocolates that melt in your mouth
Touch/Feel:
» The feel of that silky smooth xxx against your skin
» The touch
» The “energy” or atmosphere of a place



Commit to constant and never ending improvement
There’s a Japanese term known as Kaizen which means constant improvement and there’s evidence of that happening absolutely everywhere in industry and throughout the Japanese culture … from the wharves to the production line to even the kaizen of the relationships they have with people.
This quality commitment philosophy was introduced in the late 1940’s by Dr Edward Deming. He showed them that a constant and never-ending commitment to consistently increase quality every single day would give them the power to dominate the markets of the world. This philosophy contributed to Japanese supremacy in trade in the 1990’s. It’s also a term that is now widely used in western culture.
It has particularly importance when applied to customer service.
You see, the minute you start putting in place some great customer service initiatives, you can bet your competitors will try to match you. The key is to always be ahead of the game. A Kaizen attitude is also very important to ensure that service standards stay exceptional. After all, it’s human nature to slacken off after a period of time, or become complacent when sales are firing. This complacency and slackening can have a devastating effect on your business.

D. Key points summarised
» Create a “WOW” experience for the customer at EVERY “touch point”.
» Ensure that the ““WOW”” that you create solves a frustration or appeals to their control needs.
» Maintain consistency through ALL areas of your business.
» Commit to Constant and Never Ending Improvement.