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Complacency or Innovation: You Decide 

Annette Franz | Oct 8, 2017 111 views No Comments

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How can anyone become complacent about running a business? or about winning at business?

It happens!

It’s a broad question, but if you think you’re going to become complacent about the customer experience – and think that’s OK – then you might as well be complacent about your business, in general.

I was recently asked for suggestions on how to prevent different business units and divisions from becoming complacent when they are performing well based on their customer experience metrics. In other words, their scores, e.g., NPS, are high, so they act like “the goal is met, and there’s nothing more that needs to be done about the customer experience.”



I’ve written a post on that (complacency about metrics), which I’ll share in the future. But it got me thinking beyond metrics to the broader customer experience. A lot of the same logic applies (that I mention in that post), but I’m stepping back to take more of a big picture look.

If you rest on your laurels, you will, without a doubt, be overrun by your competitors. Never mind that your customers will no longer want to do business with you. (Right, Blockbuster?!)

Remember: customer experience is a journey, not a destination; once you’ve improved it, you’ve got to keep improving it. Continuous improvement is key to this journey, to staying ahead, to winning at customer experience, to winning at business!

Here’s what happens and why your work is never done:

  • Expectations change. What delights customers today may not delight tomorrow. It’s important to always keep your pulse on changing customer needs.
  • Customers change. Old ones go, new ones come along. New ones may have different problems they are trying to solve or jobs to be done.
  • Customer needs, desires, and expectations change. As long as that’s happening – and I don’t see that every changing – there’s no resting on laurels.
  • The business changes. New products are launched. Acquisitions are made. Growth happens.
  • New competitors enter the marketplace, and industry trends emerge.
  • Weak signals become strong signals.

Companies will not become complacent if they develop a customer-focused and customer-centric culture. Some would argue that customer-obsessed, like Amazon, is the better way to go; you will certainly never have to worry about complacency, if that’s the case! But when the customer is at the center of the business, at the center of all decisions that are made, in your entire company’s DNA, then you’ll never be complacent about customer experience. It’s impossible.

When you become complacent about customer experience, it is no longer your competitive advantage.

If you become complacent about the customer experience, just know there’s always a competitor or a disruptor in the wings, waiting with the next big thing. That disruptor swoops in and does the employee experience and the customer experience far better. If you think that doesn’t happen, think about these brands:

  • Netflix
  • Apple
  • Uber
  • Airbnb
  • Warby Parker
  • Rent the Runway
  • Virgin America
  • and more!

As Tom Fishburne says: If you want to remain number one, you have to think like number two. Check out his post on “Where complacent brands go.”

What can you do?

Listen. Listen to customers. Listen to employees. Listen to the market. Listen to the industry. Pay attention. What are you hearing? What are the emerging needs? What jobs are your customers trying to do? Can they be fulfilled elsewhere? Can you innovate and fulfill better? What are the weak signals? How weak are they, really?

Create a culture of innovation that allows employees to be creative and entrepreneurial. Don’t stifle new ideas and innovation. Allow employees to pose, develop, and try new ways of doing the same old thing. Encourage efficiency, simplicity, and killing old rules and making new ones. Stifling creativity, growth, and innovation is painful and kills employee engagement quicker than anything – and then there goes your customer experience

Always do what’s right for the customer; ask, “How does what I’m doing right now impact the customer?” And never forget that the customer experience is a journey. Don’t be content with what you’re doing today; always be innovating and improving. If you don’t, your customers will go elsewhere.

The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic. -Peter Drucker

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