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It’s always good to hear about the other stories from other companies out there in the world of customer engagement and customer experience. It’s a great reminder of the hard work and enthusiasm there is out there. At the same time, the range of ideas being employed shows a genuine diversity of experience and viewpoints at work in this space. Our companies are all different. Sure, we’re all unique. Just like our customers.
But there’s a danger that by focusing on the unique bits we forget about the bits where we’re all the same. Our Marketing teams actively insist that we focus on our Unique Selling Propositions - and that’s fine for cutting through in a crowded marketplace. But what about the bits that are the same wherever you go? What about the common ground?
I believe that getting this part right is what makes companies really thrive. There are exceptions that prove the rule, of course - like the jeweler who makes every piece by hand to a bespoke request from a single customer. But most of us aren’t in that sort of a market. There are more common elements across the products and services that we offer, than there are differences between them. One car or airline ticket or hotel room or bank account is, let’s be fair, pretty much like the next. The common purposes that matter to the customer most are all the same. The differences are around the edges far more so than at the core. Don’t you think?
Here’s my list of the things that stood out for me - the stuff I really liked. The ideas that made me think “what if we all did it this way? How different would the world be?”
1. The five hour working day. This idea has been out there for a while - but it’s perhaps no great shock that our lords and masters keep a little quiet on the subject! There’s a growing body of evidence to suggest that workers become more focused and productive when time is shorter, so there is no productivity loss to the business from shortening the day (just to be clear, salaries remain the same as for 8 hours - you’re being paid for fulfilling a role, not for being present for x number of hours). If anything, those companies that have done this see a productivity gain.
2. Speaking of salary, I was reminded of the Californian finance company Gravity, where the remarkably intelligent (and brave!) CEO put in a minimum salary regardless of role. The aim was to take away money worries for his staff, so that when they were at work they gave it their all. None of their energy was wasted on worrying about bills back home - they could focus on just the job.
3. Crazy thought – does anyone want to combine points 1 and 2 above? If so, give me call. I’m in.
4. Jobs to be Done. Too often we focus on those pesky USPs, trying to design for cut-though. The danger is that we sometimes forget about purpose. How is the customer actually using the product? In fact, it’s more than that. What purpose is the customer using the product/service to fulfill? Is that at the heart of your innovation? It’s a change in perspective that goes beyond journey mapping, because by then you’re already off the path, potentially. This goes right back to the very start. “I’m trying to write a letter” is different to “I need a word processor”.
Purpose versus process. One needs to lead the other. Get it the wrong way around at your peril.
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