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March 21, 2008


Krishna Mony

“Nothing new or earth shattering” – bang on !

Recognize that the customer has limited observations. I say where it comes to innovation that seeks to improve customer experience and satisfaction levels, marketers place excessive reliance on flaky customer feedback. Systems that process high volume customer data have thrown up just a handful of insights because most feedbacks have been repetitive and predictable. Is customer equipped to dictate what enterprise *could* offer? She can at best define what she thinks is critical or at best, what is nice-to-have. But that isn’t clearly enough because of weak sample size and her limited knowledge of higher realms, other possibilities. For insights, search inside the enterprise - not necessarily R&D or marketing - for oracles (no pun here!) gifted with originality, creativity and clairvoyance.

Ask Nokia and other cell phone makers that swear by them. The first few customers of wireless mobiles were certainly happy with just the mobility feature. They never asked for images, video or data streams. It’s the enterprise that advanced those innovations and exposed customers to those richer utilities. Later technology helped cut handset/call costs that led to wider adoption. Now they find it is easier to upsell high margin variants and value added services to them and users gladly pay for those utilities. So my bet is on insider insights than on customer feedback because I believe “Fix it even if it ain’t broken” is the new credo.

How to enable it in organization? Same goes for employees too. The bane of modern management is its excessive reliance on abstract concepts like KRA of individual employees that goads them to stop the buck where they willed, giving them leeway to shirk responsibilities. Management in its anxiety to mask their own insecurities (or even idiosyncrasies) add several layers to employee terms to lock them down, often forgetting the dictum – the more you elaborate, less you exact. So don’t cut it to the bone. Just drop broad hints on enterprise goals and let them map their own plan of execution. They will come back with sharper solutions because they know since they had authored it, they are compelled to act it out.

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