Over the past couple of weeks, I had the good fortune of attending two different conferences where entrepreneur-investors from the TV series Dragon’s Den (in Canada) and Shark Tank (in the US) were speaking. These types of shows are my favorites. I’d rather spend my time learning about new ideas, innovative approaches, and how businesses get off the ground, rather than fantasy or strange scenario reality TV. These shows, which feature entrepreneurs trying to woo investors into bankrolling their business ideas, are a great way for my entire family to learn, talk about and support ideas, as well as helping us maintain an innovation mindset. My 10-year-old has been brainstorming some very creative ideas for the future – but I can’t share about that here, lest you take his future fortune from him.
While innovation and entrepreneurship from the Shark Tank perspective is applied to start-up businesses, there are a great deal of principals these “sharks” shared in the conferences I attended that directly apply to a customer experience setting. Without focusing on positive customer experiences, these investors never would have made it to where they are today. Below are some quotes from the conferences I attended that had an impact on me and how we can apply them in our own CX setting.
“You Can’t Dictate to Consumers how They Want to Experience Your Product.” – Robert Herjavec
You may think your product or service is the best in the world. But if your customers don’t think so, then you have a big problem. You need to hear from your customers how they want to experience your product or service and engage with you. Focus on the consumer’s desires, not on what’s easiest for you to put in place operationally. I was once speaking with the operator of a gas station who was frustrated about the fuel grade buttons on the pumps being more worn out than they should be because consumers were poking at the buttons with the dispenser nozzle rather than their finger. While it’s frustrating to have to replace those fuel grade buttons more often, you’re not going to win that battle with the consumer.
“Customers Don’t Know What They Want Until They Have it in Front of Them.” – Michele Romanow
Sometimes, asking a customer to tell you what they want yields different results than observing the customer in action. Invite customers into the process of creating and refining your program. Observe them. Go through their journey from their point of view. When launching a new product or service, conduct focus groups to help you understand whether your new product or service will resonate with people or accomplish what your company needs it to. Let customers use it in a test environment and give their viewpoint on it before rolling it out. Then, once launched in the market at large, be sure to measure the experience and evaluate how your company is performing to the expected standards around it.
“At Some Point, you Have to Stop Refining Your Plan and Just Start.” – Michele Romanow
We’ve probably all been in this place before. We feel like we need just one or two more things to put a good program in place. Perhaps it’s that one perfect question we need to add to a questionnaire, or that one perfect report that’s going to have everyone in your network clamoring to use it daily, or maybe you feel like you need to better understand the customer’s journey. Yes, there will always be things you can do to make your CX program better, but having a CX program in place is better than having no CX program at all. Don’t let perfectionism hinder you from just starting.
“Things Start Failing When you get Complacent; There is no ‘Status quo.’” – Robert Herjavec
Once you get started, that doesn’t mean you just leave things alone and never worry about them again. Our field is dynamic. Customers are fickle, and they can change every day. Companies need to be engaged with their end consumers on a consistent basis, to hear from them what’s going well, what’s not, and any ideas to make things better. If your company believes that your processes are fine as is, then I am sorry to say that’s just not good enough in today’s world. Listen to your customers, and make sure your customer touchpoints are operating as they should be based on your company’s vision and your customer’s desires.
“The Consumer Wants to be Engaged, not Bored.” – Robert Herjavec
In today’s fast-paced world, you need to stand out. What is going to set you apart? In the CX world, the interaction with the customer is key. How we engage the customer needs to be experiential. Your company’s mission should be keenly reflected in the customer’s interaction with your business. Are you a tech company, interacting with a customer primarily through a website? Then your website better be user-friendly, fast, and informative. Are you a neighborhood store focused on building local relationships with your customers? Then your store staff should be actively working to get to know their customers by name and engaging them in conversations about local events. In other words, whatever your objectives are as a company, your frontline employees and interfaces should be living it out in powerful ways.
I’ll leave you with a bonus quote from Robert Herjavec: “Every day somebody wakes up with the sole intention of kicking your ass.” One impactful way to do something about that is to make sure your customer interaction points are engaging your customers in meaningful ways and measuring those ways operationally and through feedback.
Attending these conferences and hearing from these speakers made me realize that the entrepreneurial mindset and innovation are so important in our world as CX practitioners. These quotes only underscore that point. If my son can take away these ideas and use them to excel in creating loyal followers of his future brand, then I’ve done my job as a CX advocate and mother.