This post is about two lessons that I learnt fairly early in my career. They are part of the title.
Two decades ago, a prospective client spoke rather condescendingly at my suggestion to evaluate digital tools in some processes that we were discussing at the time. The research, he said, hadn’t identified the areas we were defining as possible problem areas in the process. To say he felt strongly for the study would be an understatement. He went on to describe how he and the company had spent almost two years on another product’s research. He insisted that this was vital in getting the name, messaging and other intonations right. He said this was done to ensure the product’s success in the market. Around the same time, we worked on another assignment with someone who was considered to be a very tough taskmaster. There were enough warnings, by others, to tell us that this may be a very tough project. My experience was delightful. It left a very vivid memory of what I learnt and also of the gentleman with whom we worked. He believed in the details as much as much as the big picture. His anecdotes, the walkarounds in the brand stores, focusing on the team while insisting on ensuring there was progress. Much later, I realised he practices what Tom Peters describes as MBWA, i.e. Managing by Wandering Around.
These days, it is unfathomable to take two years to finalise names and the related research around it. It probably was unthinkable back then too, and this person/company prioritised too much on what he called ‘the research’. It is telling that the company had to sell this brand and later got purchased by another company.
Why am I writing about all this? Well because of some recent interactions on what constitutes insights, intents and anecdotes. Plus, I came across this HBR article, and there were some twitter interactions on this link. Further, there is the task of building on intents and how they help to address the customer’s job-to-be-done.
So let’s start with a hypothesis. If a brand’s net promoter score is 20 and a statistically valid survey states that the experience is ‘somewhat better’ what would you do? Sit back or find things to improve? If the study has similar multiple-choice questions that address aspects of brand perception, will you find the insights to move or fix things? Does it give you strategic or tactical ideas on the direction to be taken if the survey mostly reiterates that things are somewhat better?
There is a perception that this is an Armageddon kind of a situation for retail. I tend to disagree strongly. The HBR article also suggests talking to customers and moving fast. It is imperative for any retail company not to spend time looking over their shoulder. Instead, get a mindset to think outside-in and move. Most organisations get various kinds of reports and insights but rarely do you see them being put to use to solve problems that a customer faces. An insights platform that integrates processes and highlights what may be an emerging customer experience issue. From an insights perspective, here is a starting point
- What are they searching on your website/app/bot
- Is there a method to tap questions being asked by customers in your stores/social platforms
- What are the searches that led people to your site
- What are they mystery visit feedback and reports telling you
- What are you finding in your internal process reviews
- Have you implemented heatmaps and what can we can infer from this
Is there a complete and integrated diagnostic of the above and mapped to opportunities in your journey map? If you pick up some of the intents and recreate the customer journey in the store and then connect what the team is selling. Bring the power of text mining to find compelling insights that are actionable. Some organisations have started to work on connections as described above, but there are others who have not actively considered this for a large number of reasons. My question for the non-believers is, Do you need the help of an occasional multiple options questionnaire to find ways to improve your customers’ experience?
I will close this note by again quoting Tom Peters, and he says WTTMSW. It means Whoever Tries The Most Stuff Wins. The competition certainly seems to be moving fast.