Mediocrity is never an accident,it’s by design,so,watch out!

“It’s lonely at the top. 99% of people are convinced they are incapable of achieving great things, so they aim for mediocre. The level of competition is thus fiercest for ‘realistic’ goals, paradoxically making them the most competitive.”

-Tim Ferriss

Ironical isn’t it that we are knowingly ultra competitive when we are striving for mediocrity. And, ironically, the fiercest competition is for the second-class prizes. And we still don’t get it!

It’s a long never ending tirade. Justifications that are shallow, hollow and mere escapism. I am referring to the reasons why we endorse and end up doing mediocre work. Let’s look at the usual suspects..

The brief was lousy..

I hardly had any time..

The customer does not value quality..

We never get the right price..

It’s a one way street, we are always the one being short changed..

Does it really matter? As nobody ever notices..

You are always critical..

This market never appreciates high quality..

The management will never understand..

I have always done it this way..

My boss is a jerk..

I don’t want to fail..I rather play safe..

Half hearted, half baked, short cuts, excuses. Period. Nothing else. They are all sad facades, masking the real issue. The outcome where sub optimal emotional labour is committed will always reflect a huge gap between what could have been and what is.

If you’re not willing to fail, you guarantee you’ll stay average-at-best.

If you want to grow into an extraordinary version of yourself, you must be willing to fail — a lot.

“Stay in your lane.” Focus on you. Learn all you can. Experiment, fail, discover what works.

When you see the 25 to 70% off ad screaming from every second billboard in town for every second brand, that is when you come to realise the often heard ‘ herd mentality ‘. Find safety in numbers. Conform, adhere, comply, fit in, exist, survive, get along, pass by. By design, the quest for supreme mediocrity(read comfort food) is perennial and offers perpetual succour. Or so it seems considering the seriousness with which it is latched onto. And there is no letting go.  And that, amongst a community of really bright minds who came into the profession with a clarion call to make their own little dents in the universe. And what are they managing to do- drive people away from the profession.

You have to decide to opt either for the wood or for the trees. Do you want to care enough to create something better? Introspect and the answer will be very close at hand.

Most people will stay in mediocrity.They’ll continue fighting with the majority for average, subpar prizes.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The road that leads to an incredibly exciting, fulfilling life is waiting for you. It’s free and open, and there are no crowds. And pay no heed to the ‘ wisdom of the crowds ‘ narrative- it’s just a more sophisticated coinage for finding solace in the average, the sub par, the mediocre.

You can either take a ‘ leap of faith ‘ or retire to a ‘ sleep of fate ‘. What got you here is not going to get you there. As Todd Henry so beautifully captured in his book ” Die Empty ‘- Unleash your best work every day. Practice the art of non-conformity! That’s what we preach and practice at ISD Global. And we get to do that every day. Gratitude!!

ENDS

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The ‘ Expertise Burden ‘

The X Factor might make you an ‘ ex not to be factored ‘.

Contradicting yes. Certainly so. How can expertise ever be a burden? It is what gets normally equated with leadership abilities and high performance. But when we look around, you will find instances where expertise comes across as unwanted baggage, thereby halting progress, impeding momentum.

Look around and you will scores of cases where expertise has been a trap for many an organisation and individuals alike. Kodak was at the frontier of imaging technology and photography and remained glued to the thought that things would remain the same.

” You press the button. We do the rest “, quoted George Eastman. Steve Sasson was the engineer at Kodak who invented the digital camera in 1975. US$ 10 billion in sales way back in 1981. However, Kodak failed to recognise the rise of digital photography, decline in analog camera sales and the rise in digital camera sales. Eventually, the brand filed for bankruptcy in 1992. The ‘ expertise trap ‘ played its part. The hunter became the hunted.

Let’s move onto Microsoft for a bit. When Apple introduced the iPhone(without the conventional Qwerty keypad), then CEO Steve Ballmer(steeped deep in PC and connected computing business), never gave it a chance. The legacy of expertise has played its part and things didn’t look too ‘ smart’ for Microsoft as iPhone made history. Windows had shut the door on a big opportunity as the Explorer stopped exploring.

And so goes the case with stalwart retail brands who stuck to the coat tails of merchandise, brick and mortar, store design and alterations to the marketing mix- erstwhile pillars of retail success till such time Amazon came in and broke the mould completely.

While expertise has several ticks in the box, it can also lead to individual thinking that is narrow( Why upset the applecart, we have always done it that way), resting on past laurels, ignoring the dynamics of the market place, the emergence of new thinking and technology( AI, the power of algorithms that replace rote tasks very easily) and behaviours that leave a gaping distance between colleagues and business partners, causing loss of confidence and trust. Over time the very expertise that led to our success can leave us feeling unhappy, unsatisfied, and stuck.

Some examples that might trigger counter intuitive thinking is when ‘ experts ‘ realise the need of the hour and wake up to smell the coffee. Who would have thought that automobile technology, ones exemplified by brands like Mercedes, BMW and their ilk would ever get upended. And how. Till such time Tesla disrupted the space with a vengeance and driverless, autonomous technology hit the road and put them in a MUSK DO situation. Real soon, the established brands were investing their billions into the new self driving technology to keep up, send out a signal and get ready for their future. They didn’t hang on to the ‘ expert ‘ in the field narrative. They let the new rubber hit the road. Good for them.

Some warning signs that you may have fallen prey to the expertise trap:

Have you fallen into a creative rut?

Do you feel “old” and out of touch in your job?

Do others seem uncomfortable challenging your assumptions and ideas?

Are market developments beginning to take you by surprise?

These are just a few of the warning signs.

All hope is not lost. Rediscover the path to new thinking, new learning and growth. Embark on a new journey and as the Buddhists call it ‘ embrace a beginner’s mind ‘.

That’s why we are happy with our ethos at ISD Global where I work. Be hungry, be foolish. The more you know, the more you realise how much more there is to know. Changing for the better and bettering the change go hand in hand. And all the ‘ trappings ‘ be blown!

ENDS

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A case for brands and business to be more ‘visible’?

Visible not in the conventional sense of the term. Visible here means the value that can be derived by keeping your processes and efforts(emotional labour included) being made clear and visible to your customer universe. Seeing is believing the saying goes.

Imagine you are at your favourite restaurant. And ordered their to die for stake. 30 minutes (with nothing at stake and meaningless multiple up and down scrolling on the smartphone later), you see the restaurant attendant bring your order swinging in through the kitchen doors and sashaying to your table and placing it on your table. Voila! You are a sizzling hot stakeholder now.

Now, lets visit the same situation wherein once you have placed your order for your favourite stake, you get to see what is happening in the kitchen and the team of chefs and kitchen staff doing what they need to get your stake ready. You see the intensity, the passion, the precision, the effort and the collaborative energy that is being invested to get your order to the table. You recognise the emotional labour that has gone into the making and delivering of your order.

So what is the prognosis from the above two scenarios. In situation one, you the customer has no idea of what is happening behind the scenes. Your order comes in and there is almost a sense of deja vu- ” I expected this “. You are not according any additional value to the experience. On the contrary, the opaqueness of the experience, takes away the true potential value proposition.

What happens in situation two? As you see what is happening behind the scenes, the labour , the effort, the commitment that is going into your order being processed, subliminally you begin to value the experience far better. Respect for the brand grows. Not just that. In the context of the team that put the order together, they begin to take greater pride in what they are doing as their effort is being showcased to the end user and the chain reaction of getting better continues.

When CEO Teruo Yabe came aboard Tessei( the Facilities Management company that cleans Japan’s Bullet Trains), the perception of the company was at an all time low. The work was considered 3D: dirty, difficult, dangerous. Yabe wanted to change this into the 3K : it stands for “kansha,” “kangeki” and “kando” (gratitude, drama and strong impressions). How did he do it? Read on..

Firstly, he changed the colours of the workers uniforms from a pale blue to flaming red. Attract attention, yes! On any day, in Tokyo Central Station, a work unit clad in the red uniforms of Tessei Co line up with military precision. A bullet train on the Tohoku shinkansen pulls in, and the workers, at the given signal, step aboard and hastily go about their work. They have a total of 12 minutes(gap between train pulling in and departing) of which 5 minutes must be set aside for passengers disembarking. So, effectively time available to them is just 7 minutes to complete their tasks.

Normally (to quote the  Shukan Post), two to three workers are assigned to a first-class car, as opposed to one to clean up a regular car. In addition to checking for items left behind on the overhead racks and seats, they must flip the 100 seat backs in each car to make them face the front of the train, and while doing this, they scan the aisles and floor for any refuse, a task generally performed in roughly one minute, 30 seconds.

They then proceed to wipe off the table tops in front of each seat and adjust the window blinds. If any of the white covers on seat backs appear begrimed, these are exchanged for clean ones.

At the two-minute warning, they turn their attention to emptying the waste receptacles between cars. They also team up with other staff, whose task is to tend to the lavatories and washrooms. After a final check of all assigned jobs on their list, they assemble outside on the platform and bow in unison toward the passengers awaiting boarding.

1000 seat train, 22 team members, 7 minutes turnaround. Visible : Very. The CNN Crew called it the ‘ 7 Minute Miracle ‘. Their efforts have even inspired a bestselling book, “Shinkansen osoji no tenshi-tachi” (Shinkansen’s cleanup angels) by Isao Endo (published by Asa Shuppan).

Now, lets move onto another brand that hopped onto the visibility bandwagaon. Domino’s Pizza. About 10 or so years ago, Domino’s decided that they will throw open to their customers an interface(Dominos Tracker) wherein they are able to track what is happening to their order right from order received, dough prepared, toppings gathered, gone inside the oven, packed and on the way to delivered. The image quotient for the brand skyrocketed. Not surprising that this has become case studies in many business schools.

As I write this, I am tempted to share what we should have done when at ISD Global(the Dubai based branding agency where I work) delivered the ExceLENS Awards for Photography( sponsored by Toshiba) a couple of weeks ago. Over 10 weeks, a talented, passionate, committed ISD Global team of more than 10 members(apart from a number of equally committed external partners) clocked really long hours to make the event a resounding success. Am trying to make a case for visibility which helps improve and transform experiences, outcomes and business objectives for all stakeholders.

Till the next, VISIBLY Yours!

ENDS

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Marketing is having a Listening Problem!

Is Marketing having a Listening Problem?
Yes, you heard that right. Marketing has a listening problem…definitely looks like- but the problem isn’t a matter of not hearing the voice of the customer. The problem is understanding what all the noise actually means.
An unintentional tone-deafness has led marketers to realise that they are not just struggling to aggregate the right data or struggling to identify the moments of opportunity to deliver exceptional experiences to their customers. Marketers admit that the biggest challenge the organisation faces while working to develop lasting customer relationships is actually remembering the relationship itself and not solely focusing on getting campaigns out the door.
 
Organisations have settled for passive hearing instead of active listening.
When it comes to aggregating the true voice of the customer, many marketers continue to rely on passive channels bringing in reactionary signals intentionally sent to the organisation. This leaves little opportunity to aggregate, let alone understand, real-time behaviours and cues being left behind by the customer across the omni-channel landscape. Consider where marketers believe insights, cues and indicators are being left: Email, Social, Sales Rep Interactions, Forms, Service & Support. While this list seems reasonable and an appropriate collection of customer signal sources, when sorted into categories of active, realtime, customer-driven signals versus post-engagement, reactionary or company-controlled environments, the picture of where marketers listen for signals begins to point to channels of known, structured comfort.
Where do customers actually leave cues?
Not in the known, structured comfort but in places like Social Media, User Generated Content, IoT Sensors, Chatbot sessions, Mobile Device detection etc
Data doubts are holding back advancement of the omni-channel experience. 
Without question, marketing has spent the past decade (or more) actively investing in expanding the omni-channel toolkit, identifying new ways to reach and engage with the connected customer. Each experience advancement heightens the need for actionable insights and a clear signal based on customer voice and data. But few marketers feel they are able to unlock the opportunity in the channels and the data already in use. This doubt is contributing to a hesitancy to expand and further explore what is new in omni-channel engagement.
Getting small could get us back to the customer.
 
The criticality of small data sits with the insights that reveal the “why” – why is the customer here today, why are they searching, why are the buying, why are they NOT buying? 
Marketers are waiting for complaints or opportunities to improve experiences through answering issues or questions rather than leveraging more complex data to proactively meet the customer with experiences that add value and delight. But marketers are also looking to get a better view of what the customer actually wants. Marketers need to understand the “why.”
Are they most prepared to take advantage of small data to turn noise into signals from the customer. Marketers are also confident they will finally reach the “why” behind customer’s actions and behaviours.
“Why” is also fuelling the marketer’s aspirations. When you try to identify brands across any industry that customers admired for their ability to deliver on real-time, personalised customer engagements, some key brands consistently rose to the top: Amazon, Apple, Google, Starbucks and Nike. 
What these brands also do well is connect with people and engage with customers like individuals, not just transact with campaigns.The biggest differentiator of these leading brands is their ability to treat every individual like a friend or confidante.The ability to initiate conversations in a manner that reflects the customers needs helps differentiate the brand. In essence, these brands never loose sight of the fact that their customers are core to their business…and that their customers are people first, buyers second.
It is time for marketing to lead the charge to treat people like people. It is time for marketing to champion being human. It sounds fundamental…that our customers are people. But as we have already seen, marketers admit that remembering that the organisation is engaging with people and not just data sets or individual records can be challenging.
The tools and technology are available. The data is abundant. The missing piece has been the voice of the customer. It is time for Marketing to champion the shift back to human…driving profit and opportunity along the way.
ENDS
 
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Your call (isn’t) important to us and will(not) be attended to shortly!

Customer journey. Customer experience. Customer expectation.Customer delight. Customer service. All old wine in new bottles but as should have naturally been the case, things have not matured with age. On the contrary, getting genuine attention(just like paying attention) in an attention starved economy is becoming increasingly difficult and going from bad to worse.
As ordinary mortals, often times we have to deal with banks, financial services, utility companies, car rental brands etc. And we reluctantly take a call on making a call to the epicentre of under delivery– the omni present but care absent  ‘ call centre ‘.
Technology has made rapid strides and from a security perspective ‘ voice recognition ‘ is the harbinger of hope( or so we hoped) for customers expecting to avoid the seven and a half minute hold listening to tastelessly chosen recorded music. And you thought your voice will be heard– tough luck- once you are past that process, you go back in time(yes, literally) and field the 5 security questions to ensure that you are who you are and you are not from a different mother as originally envisaged. And you are left wondering why was the voice recognition used in the first place if the process was to lead to further questioning and endless hold. A lot of questions and certainly no convincing answers.
Pardon my sequencing here- I overlooked to mention the two biggest lies floating around that brands have been propagating blatantly, namely:-
– Your call is important to us and will be attended to shortly
 
– This call maybe recorded for quality and assurance purposes
I say these are the biggest lies for a couple of reasons:
– When was the last time you actually found a call centre personnel sufficiently empowered to resolve your problem? Even if your imagination runs riot, you will be chasing a mirage only.
– On multiple occasions we have put forth our suggestions, frustrations etc on these ‘ recorded for quality & assurance purposes ‘ calls and the customer experience slide has only degenerated further south. Maybe it was ‘ just for the record ‘.
– Have you ever received from a ‘ Relationship Manager ‘ of your bank based in a distant call centre(who is clueless about where you are based) on a Friday afternoon when you have just settled into your afternoon weekend siesta? I have, many times over. This after copious amount of information has been shared to them in the KYC(Know Your Customer!). It should be more like NO, YOU DON’T KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER!
– Have you received calls from an over enthusiastic telecom provider calling you three times in a day(atleast) to ask you for payment(which falls due two weeks hence)? I have. It leaves you wondering ‘ Do(I let phonetics play its part here in let you deciphering who) they have to do that? ‘
Of course there are exceptions and we have heard about the experiences that the likes of Zappos etc provide to their customers that is now part of folklore. But all that seem to be happening on a different planet.
A caveat here before you may misinterpret my vitriol: I don’t belong to that tribe who echoes the sentiment ‘ The customer is always right ‘- its certainly not the case.
The sanctum mantra that brand owners, marketing heads and guardians have been acting on endlessly has been ‘ call to action ‘. But, when the shoe is on the other foot, it seems more like a ‘ call to inaction ‘. And you just can’t seem to shoe that away!
ENDS
 
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POVer Shift:From POV(Point of View) to POV( Power of Vulnerability)

Moving the Needle from From POV(Point of View) to POV(Power of Vulnerability)!
In today’s context, to say that social( in the sense of the term social media) has gained significant currency would be a gross understatement.It’s all pervasive, inescapable and deep rooted, one can safely assume.
Once upon a time the theory(espoused by Kevin Bacon) that was floating around was about ‘ The Six Degrees of Separation ‘ where one individual could connect with any other individual in the world irrespective of level, status or complexity through a chain of six human connections. That seemed a feat in itself. The advent of social media networks like Facebook apparently brought that number down to 3.57.
Now add another theory to the above. We are the average of the five people that we spend maximum time with is what we are being given to understand for some time now.That was in a physical world. Now, move that to a virtual scenario wherein our social media contacts run into hundreds if not thousands of connections and we are all observing, contributing, silently following one another and not always for the right reason because the swell of opinions and information is just too over powering for one individual to withstand. Distilling the wheat from the chaff is easier said than done. There is ‘ status anxiety ‘. There is the FOMO at play(Fear of Missing Out) as well. In the relentless avalanche that straddles social media platforms, where is the real ‘ you ‘, the individual? Is your POV(Point of View) actually your point of view? Or conditioned(by AI/Machine Learning etc), pulverised, calibrated, engineered, manipulated to suitably conform, comply, stand in? Or are we falling constant prey to the supposed ‘ wisdom of the crowds ‘?
Have we moved our butt so much from but naturally to bot artificially?
We seem to be in a sordid vortex of an ‘ authenticity drought ‘. Trying to project a chimera that is certainly not a wilful representation of our true self. The power of ‘ onlyness ‘ that creates the distinct individuality the world so badly needs from you is just a fleeting mirage.
Given the context, a huge opportunity looms large. That is embedded in another similar acronym POV but with a radically different meaning. Power of Vulnerability. The true you, with all it’s mortal encumbrances. With the courage ‘to stand naked in your own truth’. No excess baggage of trying to be whom you are not. The YOU that only you can be and WANT to be.Where failings and weaknesses are welcomed as normal just as all the super Machiavellian in us. Where the human is permitted and motivated to be humane. Can we circle back to leverage the opportunity that is unfolding?
For organisations, brands, marketers, behavioural economists and all of those involved in ‘ social listening ‘, data science and analytics, what option would you prefer? An ambiguous amalgam of over, untrue or misrepresentation or a predictably irrational version of what we humans normally are. The jury is out!
Tribe mentality‘ is absolutely fine. That is the way we have evolved over the centuries.  But don’t let that scuttle the ‘ onlyness ‘ in you. As you move ahead in life, don’t forget to take yourself along with you in the journey! That is the only baggage you may need. And there won’t be anything ‘ excess ‘ about it. It will be all ‘ access ‘.
ENDS
 
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The Big Trap for Brands: A Sea of Sameness!

The Big Trap for Brands: A Sea of Sameness
Normal needs a new normalising!
Since there is so much interest, let me start from the bottom line. It is no coincidence that damn near everything that you and me buy or want to buy, seems to have a label ‘ Made in China ‘. Now, that includes airplane wings …as well as caps!
Instant knock offs-with excellence- have become the norm. From shoes to sweaters to computers to restaurants. The quality of damn near everything is terrific. Things that work well are not unusual. Things that don’t work are unusual.
By design or accident, we are afloat, awash, adrift…in a Sea of Sameness. High-quality sameness, but sameness nonethless.
An idea that has legs ..lasts only a few weeks, a few months at best. Then the sequel. And the sequel that follows the sequel. And so on.
Sure heard this before. Herd mentality. We race around. Follow each other’s tails. From Hollywood to Silicon Valley to Madison Avenue to Jamal Abdul Nasar Street.
As Swedish business professors  Kjell Nordstrom and Jonas Ridderstrale brilliantly articulated in their book ‘ Funky Business ‘, ” The surplus society has a surplus of similar companies, employing similar people, with almost similar educational backgrounds..coming up with similar ideas, producing similar things, with similar prices..and similar qualities “. Ouch, that is painful!
The 10X/10X theory on that is that you could be 10 times better. While being ten times less different.
The basic idea that I am echoing here is that ‘ Good Stuff ‘ is commonplace.”



“. It’s no longer exceptional for stuff (anything, everything ) to work. Which means the bar for ” standing out ” has risen dramatically.

In a winner takes all world, Normal = Nothing. So time to stop being goddamn normal.
Dovetailing seamlessly into this line of thought is the Danish marketing phenomenon Jesper Kunde’s articulation ” Companies have defined so much best practice that they are now more or less identical. ” It’s commoditised. Instead, how about ” It’s yet to be practiced “?
In other words, the only way to make a difference is to, well, “ Make a Difference “.
Standing out in a world where most everything works is stupefying difficult. And yet some companies are making a go of it. How I hate the word ‘ normal ‘.
We are in a ” Don’t just sit there economy ” – so, embrace abnormal. Never mind if you are first mover, last mover, first follower or fast follower. Go for it!
ENDS
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Does the world need another ad agency?

“The world doesn’t need another ad agency.”
 
Dear Brand Owners & Marketers

It’s amazing how a single tap on the space bar can make such a difference.

Another” is one of those odd English words that have multiple and contradictory meanings. One definition is “being one more in addition to one or more of the same kind,” like having another car payment or eating another piece of pizza (two more things none of us likely need).

But “another” also means “different or distinct from the one first considered.” That puts an entirely different spin on things, and putting a space between the letters underscores the point.

The world rarely needs “another,” but it will always welcome “an other” — particularly in the most mature, crowded and commoditized industries, where sameness leads to staleness.

Time after time, another product or service gets superseded by an other product or service, making our lives more pleasant, more efficient, more productive, or better in a host of additional ways.

Seeking “an other” is a good strategy to keep pace with the inexorable march of creative destruction. In the marketplace, what is, will not always be, and what is to come, has not always been. The task of strategists is to be agents of creation rather than victims of destruction. Our challenge is to pursue the new and unproven even as we preserve the existing and profitable.

Unless you can ensure your company, brand or service is continually and legitimately “an other,” it’ll end up becoming just “another.”

We are tribal by nature. Human beings have evolved in that fashion. Therefore the ‘ herd mentality ‘. Yes, we have heard that before. And this as well. Birds of the same feather. Flocking together. Which leads to the SOS factor: Sea of Sameness. What makes you distinct? What makes you unique? There is comfort in fellowship. There is comfort in companionship. But, the real magic happens outside the comfort zone.

Are you up to the challenge/opportunity?  We at ISD Global(https://bit.ly/2riIk7l)  are and looking forward to it.

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Wanting to go from Rant to Rave…

Wanting to go from Rant ​to Rave…
The saga continues. The desperation is palpable. Because, unless it becomes an obsession, status quo is a convenient getaway. So, if you want to come out of the present rabbit hole, let’s look at a scenario of what was and what should be. It surely is a study in contrast for brands and businesses and the CEOs, CMOs leading them and wanting to Stay Relevant. Forge ahead. Survive. Thrive.
Go from ‘ Be ahead of the pack ‘ to ‘ Be ahead of the curve
​Change thinking from ‘ Get big fast ‘ to ‘ Get a clue
Move on from ‘ Size will defend us ‘ to ‘ Size is no defense
Migrate from ‘ Sales to the usual suspects ‘ to ‘ Sales to unusual prospects
Shift from ‘ Maximise revenues from a few big customers ‘ to Maximise ‘innovation ‘ by seeking out ‘ strange ‘ small customers
​Go away from ‘ Benchmarking against ‘ industry leaders ‘ to ‘ Benchmarking against leading edge firms
Change from ‘ Strategic suppliers ‘ to ‘ Fringe suppliers
Shift search from ‘ Reliable employees ‘ to ‘ Rambunctious employees ‘
Hire the gal(guy) from a prestigious school ‘ to ‘ Hire the gal(guy) with a freaky portfolio ‘
Actively move from ‘ Passive board of directors ‘ to a ‘ Pushy board of directors ‘
Change culture of ‘ Bulk acquisitions ‘ to ‘ Buying innovation
A value chain from ‘ Safety first partners ‘ to ‘ Risk ready partners
From ‘ Playing it safe ‘ to ‘ Playing it Weird
Delete the mantra ‘ Cover all the bases ‘ and establish ‘ Burn all the ships ‘
Though not always with a high degree of success, we at ISD Global(https://bit.ly/2Bx33Kj) try to practice the above preaching. We have realised that this kind of thinking comes more naturally to us and sits comfortably in our hearts and minds. Probably, we now don’t know any other way. That ignorance is bliss. Come join the weird. Wired for the unexpected.
ENDS
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If CeX(Customer Experience) is the future,why are brands missing out?

“The best way to find your self is to lose your self in the service of others”- Mahatma Gandhi.

How often have we heard all of these statements below especially in the recent past?
Experience is the new brand.
Experiences are the new branding.
The Future is Experience.
Brands will be all about CeX(Customer Experience).
CeX(Customer Experience) is the flavour of the season and beyond and will be for a long long time to come, especially in the context of a hyper cluttered, over commoditised, always on world.The world is migrating from a culture of ‘ ownership ‘ to a movement of ‘ experiences ‘. All of this is stating the obvious but then many a brand seem to overlook this with gay abandon.
A lot of us would have experienced hotel brands during our travels either for business or pleasure.Top of the draw 5 and 4 star properties from the leading hotel brands in the world. How many of us(especially the middle aged with presbyopia staring at us in the eye) have gone in for a shower and struggled to read the writing on the tiny bottles of shampoo or shower gel or body lotion. You take the risk only to realise that the body lotion is fighting desperately for your scalp’s attention only for it to be given the slip. That there is lather in your eyes doesn’t help your cause. What stops the hotel brands from labelling these bottles in big, bold, readable fonts to distinguish one from the other. Lather sorry rather myopic, isn’t it? Especially considering Gen X and Baby boomers still contribute substantially to the hospitality industry’s coffers. About time some prudence showered down. Should we stay different?
Cutting edge technology is supposed to be at the forefront of banking services, especially in their quest for simply better banking that drives customer delight. And this customer is the one calling to find out the outstanding due on her credit card to ensure the payment(and the full bill at that) is made on time. How remiss of you- you are not a ‘ prized customer ‘ for the bank as you are not earning them either late fee or interest. Nor giving their pre decided script driven coveted call centre staff to act one (or even two) up on you.With all the preamble of voice recognition, telephone pin , IVR etc you expect a request such as finding the balance should be a matter of a few seconds. Don’t be surprised, a recent call made history with 18 plus minutes of conversation.Yes, it’s just seconds only, but all 1080 of it. We are told that these calls are monitored for quality and assurance purposes. That’s so reassuring, but, we are still waiting. Because they insist our call is important to them. Simply better anyone?
For all those who have been at the receiving end(pardon the pun) of service from the courier industry. The all important document can only be received by you upon identification etc. That’s all very well as they are taking the right precautions to ensure the receiver is genuine and can authenticate her identity. Perfectly acceptable. So, when you get the call, you ask the courier company what time would the document be delivered and the ‘ comforting ‘ response is ‘ anytime between 9 am and 6 pm ‘. Wow, phenomenal, you just wait until kingdom come(or the delivery staff) and give up on everything else you are doing that day. Upon your request, a note of the specific time is made on their ‘ system ‘, only for you to realise that the delivery man turned up exactly at the time you were not in. Doesn’t all this make you Fed Up?
No, normally you don’t have less than ten items at the hypermarket especially on the weekend. So, you damn well be in the ‘ cattle class ‘ line. After touring several aisle of Man(and Woman) in the store, and picking up both wanted (and unwanted) items, you get ready to take on the serpentine lines and tread heavily to the front of the check out when the inevitable happens: you guessed right, the bar code on one of the packets(wanted item) you have picked up don’t scan, nor is it readable enough to be typed in manually. Frantic call to a help(if he or she is around) to verify the pricing is met with condescending glares and eventually you decide to let go of that item of purchase. Sure we are getting hyper about it but isn’t it time these hypermarket brands read the customer frustration code and raised the bar?
I will leave the baggage carousel at airports for another time where for the airlines it seems to be all about first come, last served. We all are a sucker for good experiences and waiting with bated breath to share it when you are the fortunate one. Brands should be looking at making the most of it.
There is a great opportunity for brands to differentiate, distinguish, delight. Till then, we want to believe our fall sorry call is important to them…
ENDS