Reports from the Knowledge Labs about our recent findings, research topics, and interviews with lifestyle leaders who are creating their own futures.

How to stimulate your own powers of foresight. Consider the following thought provokers. Ask yourself, in these categories what are the brand new trends and forces? Which are the ones growing in importance? Which current forces are loosing their steam? Which have peaked or are reversing themselves? Which are the "wildcards" about to disrupt us in the future? POLITICAL AND TECHNICAL thought for food: Electronics, Materials, Energy, Fossil, Nuclear, Alternative, Other, Manufacturing (techniques), Agriculture, Machinery and Equipment, Distribution, Transportation (Urban, Mass, Personal, Surface, Sea, Subsurface, Space), Communication (Printed, Spoken, Interactive, Media), Computers (Information, Knowledge, Storage & Retrieval, Design, Network Resources), Post-Cold War, Third World, Conflict (Local, Regional, Global), Arms Limitation, Undeclared Wars, Terrorism, Nuclear Proliferation, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Governments (More/Less Power and Larger or Smaller Scale), Taxes, Isms: Nationalism, Regionalism, Protectionism, Populism, Cartels, Multinational Corporations, Balance of Trade, Third Party Payments, Regulations (OSHA, etc.) Environmental Impact, U.S. Prestige Abroad. SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC Food for thought: Labor Movements, Unemployment / Employment Cycles, Recession, Employment Patterns, Work Hours / Schedules, Fringe Benefits, Management Approaches, Accounting Policies, Productivity, Energy Costs, Balance of Payments, Inflation, Taxes, Rates of Real Growth, Distribution of Wealth, Capital Availability and Costs, Reliability of Forecasts, Raw Materials, Availability and Costs, Global versus National Economy, Market versus Planned Economies, Generations: Y, X, Boomers, Elderly, Urban vs. Rural Lifestyles, Affluent vs. Poor, Neighborhoods and Communities, Planned or Organic Growth. Got Knowledge?

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The Journal of 2020 Foresight
Monday, September 04, 2006  

Customer Suspense: Untouchable Interplay Between Mystery and Nostalgia

Chapter Four: The Tribal Territories

By Steve Howard, CKO
The Knowledge Labs

Table of Contents
Chapter One: Basecamp
Chapter Two: The Ridge
Chapter Three: The Outpost
Chapter Four: The Tribal Territories

"The way I like to think about this for our society as a whole is that every person should figure out how to make himself or herself into an untouchable. That's right. When the world goes flat, the caste system gets turned upside down. In India untouchables may be the lowest social class, but in a flat world everyone should want to be an untouchable. Untouchables ... are people whose jobs cannot be outsourced."

Thomas Friedman, “The World is Flat”

DOUBLE NICKEL RANCH. If you don’t want your business to become commoditized by your competitor, you must close the customer satisfaction gaps with the most relevant offerings as perceived by your best customers.

Journal of 2020 Foresight: You’ve been talking about degrees of relevance as perceived by the customer. Isn’t that just customer satisfaction?

Explorer: According to Pine and Gilmore, that’s the foundation or the lowest level of relevance. And mass-customization closes the customer satisfaction gap.

J2020F: O.K. Now I’m a little confused. We already concluded that mass customization provides several options from which customers can choose, but it is not totally personalized or customized to their needs.

Explorer: Right. Let’s start with what it means.

J2020F: By it, I mean customer satisfaction.

Explorer: Customer satisfaction is the difference between what customers expect to get and what they perceive they get.

J2020F: And you already said it occupies the lower rung with customers and is the most vulnerable to commoditization.

Explorer: It becomes the industry standard. If you don’t provide it, you don’t make it as a viable enterprise. But meeting that standard only allows you to charge what the market will bear – a commodity price.

J2020F: So in the same way that making goods commoditized, well, commodities competitors who offer better service will commoditize your offerings as well. What can you do about it?

Explorer: Highly personalized offerings move the customer from sacrifice, to surprise to suspense – and with each move you can charge more.

J2020F: What do mean by sacrifice, surprise and suspense?

Explorer: Customer sacrifice is what customers want -- exactly -- minus what they settle for.

J2020F: So, if I call my bank for some account information and they put me on hold while they check into it I won’t mind too much.

Explorer: Unless it takes longer than you are used to waiting – even if you’ve been spoiled by a business that is not even a bank. The longer it takes past the time you expected the wait would be, may put you over the top. You feel like you’ve had to sacrifice more in waiting than what you got in return.

J2020F: Don’t get me started. I recently renewed my driver’s license after visiting my credit union. My credit union eliminated all the paper work I need to fill out to make a deposit or withdrawal, so I can zip in and out. Only to spend the time I saved in line for nearly an hour at the DMV. What about surprise and suspense?

Explorer: Customer surprise is the difference between what customers get to perceive minus what customer expect to get.

J2020F: So, if I’m going to a movie and don’t think I’ll particularly like it, because I haven’t heard or read any reviews, but it has non-stop action and technical scenes I’ve never witnessed before and I’m amazed?

Explorer: You’re getting it. Or, if you had stood in line, first for hours at the department of motor vehicles, before you went to your credit union for the very first time, the contrast would have been significant. You would have been pleasantly surprised. And, then you’d be eager to tell all your friends and co-workers, right?

J2020F: I would have expected DMV treatment. So, what about the last type, customer suspense?

Explorer: That’s the difference between what customers do not yet know and what they remember from the past.

J2020F: So, try this out. This happened the other day. I’m walking through a mall and I smell caramel popcorn from a nearby cart and almost immediately recall nostalgic moments from my childhood with my parents at a circus. I had no clue that I’d be drawn to buy some.

Explorer: And, you’ll tell someone else – especially if that cart managed to stage your experience with some theatrical elements.

J2020F: It did.

Explorer: And, you’ll come back and pay double for the experience and fond memory associated with it – plus you’ll bring some of your friends. Let’s go! I can drive.

Got Knowledge?
Copyright ©2002 - 2006 Aarnaes Howard Associates. All rights reserved worldwide.

7:46 AM

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