Friday, February 4, 2011

KeFactors Friday: Rules, Policies & Disruption

Every industry needs rules for the greater good. Fond as I am of regulations prohibiting pilots and brain surgeons from drinking on the job, I often ask clients of other service industries:

“Are your policies in place to make life easier for you or your customers?”

Netflix customers may never speak to a service rep, but given Netflix’s customer-centric protocols, it’s easier to get a movie from them than dealing with a clerk at one of their competitors’ outlets, especially if you get one who relishes reciting homegrown policies about late returns or, as in the 1990s, rewind fees.

“When a customer makes an honest mistake and breaks one of your rules, do your employees know how to come up with solutions that will delight rather than punish the customer?”

I have an affection for market innovators, ones who shun the rules put forth as “conventional wisdom,” instead creating protocols that actually make life easier for their customers. Why?

Media futurist Gerd Leonhard advises against “meaningless disruptions” such as advertising a product/service simply to put out the hype but then see it fail to make life easier for consumers. It’s not that “consumers are getting smarter” but that they always were smart—and smart people know how to find alternatives.

Advertising must contain meaningful content. Disrupting consumers’ lives with multi-channel ads and promo offers must result in lasting customer engagement because, more and more, consumers are saying, “I can decide for myself, thank you!”

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