I had the privilege of attending the all-city Chicago Vistage meeting last week. While it was great to meet other like-minded business leaders, it was most compelling because of the speaker, Alan Beaulieu. Alan and his twin brother are economists who provide forecasts for companies, organizations, and even governments through their company, the Institute for Trend Research.
If you’re thinking “you lost me at ‘economist’” then we are kindred spirits. It’s not my thing. But he was powerful in his predictions, and I’ve been thinking about the discussion ever since. I admit, when he first began speaking about 2011 and the future, I was growing uncomfortable. What about NOW? What about TODAY?
But his focus was on beyond. What happens beyond Chicago, beyond the United States, beyond 2011, beyond this economic turmoil in which we’ve been immersed.
It’s so tempting to think short-term. So many organizations are focused on the immediate realities of our world today. Even the “unsinkable” companies of past generations are looking at how to make the next payroll; how to pay off the latest debt; how to cut the costs FAST.
When it comes to customer experience, it’s easy to fall into short-term thinking. Here are some examples:
- Promotion without strategy – customers can smell desperation and often exploit it. Know your limits and understand your desired pay-off before promoting something too quickly. (KFC!)
- Talking without listening – Executives who decide what to say to customers without talking to them first will have a hard time appealing to them. (MotrinMoms learned this the hard way.)
- Sacrificing current, loyal customers for the sake of acquiring new customers – AT&T recently retreated on their original iPhone policy in response to the outcry from current customers.
- Finally – this one is a personal favorite – treating social media as the end-all of customer communications. Social media is a fabulous tool, as I discuss here, but it’s just that – a tool. It’s part of a larger strategy of connecting with customers in powerful ways to naturally create loyalty and retention. If there is no larger strategy at work, social media will be a way to possibly connect with a segment of customers, and that’s only if it’s executed well. If not, it’s just another tool being underutilized.
So, as hard as it is, I believe we all have to start looking at beyond. Take a minute, map out where you want to go with your experience strategy, and then take the steps to get there. I feel better already.