Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Open Business wins some influential supporters

It's a good week already for reviews of The 10 Principles of Open Business- with two very positive write-ups appearing by influential business leaders by Tuesday.

The Chief Learning Officer at global PR business Ketchum wrote an article/review on The 10 Principles of Open Business for the Ketchum blog on April 8 (2014).

In his post The Purpose Driven Organization - Moving from Talk to Walk Robert Burnside concludes: "I highly recommend you check out the thinking in this book. It's ahead of the curve and a useful glimpse into the future."


Essentially, the book argues that businesses should move from thinking of others as customers, to thinking of them as partners in achieving a purpose that they all find meaningful in the world.
Of course, this involves a lot of changes in organization structures, most deeply in the mindsets of those involved. The book does a credible job of giving examples of how the 10 principles are being realized by various organizations, including big ones like Tesco in the UK.

B2B Marketing Magazine published a review of the 10 Principles of Open Business in its April 2014 issue.

Written by Harris Interactive's UK Head of Marketing Ian Smith, the review concludes: "The book will get you thinking about ways in which you can apply the open business ethos to benefit your business, direct stakeholders and society in general. Open business is our present and our future. You can't afford to ignore that, or this book - 'Open up, and win!'

Thank you both. If you've read the book and would liek to share a review, please let me know. I am particularly looking out for more folk to add to the Amazon reviews.

More examples of The 10 Principles in The Press.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

The restaurant that designed out customer feedback

So tired, tired of waiting, tired of waiting for you...
To mark the end of term and the start of the Easter Holidays we joined some very good friends and our (between us) three children for an impromptu dinner at a family restaurant close to home.
The food was (mostly) adequate. It was the service that was shocking.

Our friends had been to this particular place some six months previous. Ever since it had been known to their kids as 'The No Pudding Pub'. This was because it had taken so long for them to get any attention to order a dessert that they had run out of time and had no option but to leave. Kids going home without a dessert leaves a lasting impression...

Once bitten - well sometimes you are prepared to try things one more time... lightning stikes once and all that...
But, you guessed it, the bolt from above struck again.

Put aside the failure (having been asked three times) to provide a straw for one of the kids drinks, the food being served at an interesting and not entirely satisfying range of temperatures, main course plates left uncleared for a good 30 minutes (we resorted to stacking them ourselves - see pic), desserts served without cutlery, one dessert not served at all (a fact the bill belied), the table next to us resorting to wolf-whistles and waving cash in order to get their bill... put aside all of that. We can live with things going wrong if there are channels allowing us to help you put them right for us.

What really bugged me about this place was that customer feedback seemed to be deliberately designed out.
At one point in our very long wait for any kind of attention I considered ringing the restaurant and asking them to come see us on table 40. But. Not a sign of a phone number, website, email address, name of manager, name of customer service lead anywhere on the menus etc at hand on the table.
Which opened my eyes.

There was nothing written anywhere which called for, mildly suggested or enabled in any way the customer to give feedback. For most organisations knowing what your customer thinks of your product, service or experience is gold dust - prompting you for it, essential.
This place had none of the 'we care about what our customers think' or 'rate our service today' forms with paper attached on tables. Not a sniff.

But the restaurant was full. Why? Value prices, good location.
So the coffers are filling - and (because they are hearing no different) the future must be rosey, right?
Of course not. Here is a business focused entirely on customer acquisition. It has no idea of whether you've been before and apparently no interest in whether or not you will darken its doors again.

When my friend kindly picked up the bill (yes we did get the missing dessert removed) he told his server why the pub had been renamed in his house (The No Pudding Pub, you'll recall), and how we were giving it a second chance, and what had gone wrong today. None of this was recorded, The person we think was the manager was in ear-shot but kept his head down and stayed away. Freely given commercial advice of the customer experience variety was being handed over in spades - and none of it was collected - Designed Out!
We were offered apologies, and more apologies. No discount. No incentive to return to give them a chance to redeem themselves (you'll note). Designed Out!

Later I tried registering my negative sentiment via their mobile website. I completed one of those nasty online email forms in some detail. And when I hit the go button, the screen went blank. Designed Out! I've no idea whether they got it or not. Frankly I don't care.
Today if your organisation does not make it supremely easy for me to provide you with feedback at source I'm really not going to bother going out of my way to help you make your business better. But I will tell my friends because I care more about them than I do about you. I will share my experience of your products and services via tweets and blogposts.

That's why I haven't named the pub until right down here - I don't want to make it easy for their search tools to gather this freely given feedback because they appear organisationally designed to do without what  the customer thinks.

But I'll happily tell you, friend. It's the Marsh Harrier in St Ives, Cambridgeshire. It's run by Marstons.

They need an extra pair of hands at busy times. That might slice their margin on the customers in on that night - but it'll give you a way better chance that the customer will return for you to make a margin on another time. Oh and by the way - I'm pretty sure you make a better margin on desserts than you do on main courses... you can work out what to do next, right?

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Open Business: Three-page focus in Cambridge Business Magazine

From the April 2014 issue of 
Cambridge Business Magazine
Cambridge Business Magazine published a three-page interview with me about The 10 Principles of Open Business in its April 2014 issue out now.
The print version is subscription only but anyone can view, download or save the e-magazine version here.
The article starts on p58. It's flash so no use for apple devices I'm afraid.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Customers know each other better than our data does

Yesterday I was served a 'promoted tweet' which suggested I might like to plan my own death. Today I have received an email inviting me to audition for a youth production of The Wiz.
Neither are relevant.

Listening to social and focusing on CRV closes the data gap
So - for all the advances in targeting and retargeting some are taking advantage of, it's clear that the one-size-fits-all approach is still being deployed at the bleeding edge of technology. Which is insane in 2014. Wastefully, expensively, customer-annoyingly, relationship-destroyingly insane.
The reality is that customers know each other better than our synthesis of all the data we have on them. If we don't make them, and their peer-to-peer advocacy, partners in our best relationship building efforts we will continue to fail to serve their needs accurately.
Partnership builds better relationships. Relationships are essential in building success in today's Open Economy.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The social web demands partnership with customers - and a radical rethink on content

We're... seeing a much bigger shift in how people spend their time online. 
People are spending much more time interacting with other people, and much less time consuming content from websites. This shift is not about any one particular social network. It's about people connecting to each other online.
Paul Adams, user research lead for social in the UX team at Google.

That nugget is essential information in telling the story of our shift from trusting brands and branded content, to trusting each other. It is also a revelation in telling the story I am so keen on - that the web is for us to connect with; to enable us to self-organise.

Paul adds, in his presentation  The Real Life Social Network: "The social web is not a fad, and itʼs not going away. Itʼs not an add-on to the web as we know it today. Itʼs a fundamental change, a re-architecture."

This adds to the evidence offered in The 10 Principles of Open Business that rebuilding trust between brand and customer is not the realm of ads or branded content. We are turning to each other to find the truth behind the promises made by content of this kind. Content only has value so far as social media is concerned if it proves the promise the brand is making. If the web is indeed going through a fundamental change to become the social web what that means is that ALL online content must now pass that test.

Tell me what you like, but unless I can discover the truth of your promise from the experience of my peers, I'm not going to believe you. That's our reality. How is that impacting your next web design, your next social media content strategy?

The shift suggests that now all content (that will have any value in building trust, inspiring action, at least) has to be created by people like us.

Companies must think long and hard about this shift. It demands a rethink in the role of content and in your relationship with your customer. There is no mileage in simply telling people what you are. You will have to demonstrate what you are - prove it, giving them the experience of it, which they may choose to publish to their peers.

Organisations will have to be more transparent - more ready to involve customers in open innovation, more ready to share and connect - to collaborate

Customers become partners - not dumb recipients with wallets attached.

This in itself demands a more socially focused approach to CRM than ever before, a more customer-as-partner approach. It must answer how we create, discover, reward and scale advocacy; it must back the customer's judgment when they make referrals; it must understand the difference between Lifetime Value of a customer who couldn't care less about us but has little option but to trade with us and the Customer Referral Value of someone who loves us but - right now, for whatever reason - isn't buying from us; it must understand customer intent as well as map behaviours.

Ultimately it can solve many of these challenges by turning to the same social web that is causing the rethink because there - in our digital footprints - is the reality of our referrals, the clarity of our click-paths, the negative sentiment of our disapproval.

Reading this in total (and it occurs that separating acquisition from retention, loyalty and search cannot help matters) will help us make businesses more able to respond to, learn from and be led by their customers.

By the way - Paul didn't write his presentation about the shift to the social web this week (in fact, he's no longer at Google). He presented it at the Voices That Matter Web Design Conference in San Francisco in June... 2010.

Yes. I know. It probably is about time to act.

The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?