The Five Myths of Customer Engagement

Here are the five myths of customer engagement:

  1. Engaging customers means asking them what they want.
  2. Customers will tell others about your company just because you make quality products.
  3. All customers are equal.
  4. If you offer customers discounts, you create customer loyalty.
  5. Customer engagement is the same as customer retention.

Stay tuned over the next few days as I go into more detail about each of these myths and provide strategies to avoid them!

Excuses

I was reading my kids a story last night about excuses and it made me think, excuses are nothing but reasons or justifications for us to avoid doing new things or things that scare us. The message of the book was that we are the only ones that can decide whether or not to use excuses.

People might tell you it is too hard, too expensive, too time-consuming or you don’t have the skills to do something, but it is up to you to decide if those are excuses or the truth. Think of the contrast of these two statements:

“I can’t go to college because it is too expensive.”

“I really want to go to college and I know it is very expensive. I need to find a job and I should apply for a scholarship to help pay for it”

One is an excuse and one is not (can you tell which is which?).

Do you tackle life’s problems, challenges and opportunities with reasons not to do something (excuses) or solutions on how to get them done?

RIM and the high school quarterback

I was speaking with a colleague the other day and we were talking about how some people look for ways to improve themselves and develop both personally and professionally while others don't. Certain individuals look for sources of learning and improvement, while others are content where they are. Then it occured to me that companies are the same way. Some companies are always looking for new ways to improve and grow, while others lay stagnant. Which do you think are more successful?

Which brings me to Research in Motion. By all accounts, RIM was a very successful company that is now on the decline. Just like the high school quarterback who was on top of the world in his senior year, then went to college and didn't study and didn't learn anything new and didn't take advantage of the opportunities he had been given. The story usually goes that the quarterback blows out his knee in his sophomore season and is never heard from again. Let's hope that RIM is not that quarterback who peaked in high school.

Here's what companies can do to avoid being the high school quarterback whose best years are well behind him:

  • Never rest on your laurels-always assume that you have to earn the business of your customers and that you need to invent new products and services that are better and faster in order to keep those customers.
  • Keep very close watch on the industry and where it is going-you should also watch other industries that might eventually merge with yours (as an examples, cell phones merging with audio listening devices).
  • Have the appropriate management in place depending on the stage of the company-some leaders are better managing growth, others at improving operations and still others at managing a turnaround.
  • Know when you need a change-too many organizations recognize much too late that a change in the organization is needed.

What steps are you taking to ensure your company's ongoing success and making certain you don't peak too early?

Why do we fear success?

We have all heard the term "analysis paralysis," meaning that we overthink things to the point where we get stuck and can't move forward. Have you ever thought about why we get stuck? Fear. We are afraid of failure. We are afraid of being embarassed. We are afraid of the consequences of our actions.

So why do we have such fear? Because we were brought up that way. How many school teachers did you have that rewarded you for trying hard and failing? How many tests did you pass just by trying? Don't get me wrong, I'm not blaming the school system for our fear of failure. Teachers do the best with what they have.

There are societies that are more risk averse than others, but that doesn't just apply to business. It starts much earlier. Systems that encourage productive failure, trial and error and taking calculated risks will inevitably be different than those that are more conservative and focus on stability and maintaining the status quo.

Think about that when you are discussing the culture of your organization. Everyone claims to be entrepreneurial and flexible, but that is just not true. I worked with an organization that claimed to have an entrepreneurial culture, but the CEO wanted to approve every single decision that was made. Those two actions don't mesh.

If you want to eliminate fear of failure and "analysis paralysis" in your organization, then you need to take actual steps to do that. Encourage failure. Encourage collaboration across teams and divisions. Encourage employees to develop new ideas around your existing offerings. Be open to new and radical ideas. Encourage people to trust their instincts and take action. Encourage people to learn from their mistakes. Encourage controlled chaos and ambiguity.

Culture does not happen through words, it happens through actions. Every successfull company in the world has had it's share of failures. What actions are you taking to develop the organizational culture that you want?

Operational Excellence: Fostering corporate innovation and collaboration

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Listen to my latest podcast on how to foster corporate innovation and collaboration.

Here are the four keys to successfully fostering innovation:

  1. Encourage ideas from all sources-customers, employees, suppliers, business partners
  2. Do a great job of assessing the risk and reward from those ideas
  3. Focus on planning and execution of those ideas
  4. Prioritize the ideas based on key factors (impact to the organization, risk tolerance, financial benefit, and so on) and only select one or two ideas at a time to be implemented

Each one of these key success factors is discussed in more detail in this podcast.