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
Tuesday, September 05, 2006  

Reinventing Customer Service: Explore, Experiment, Gratify and Discover

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

"Compassionate flatists believe that this is no time to be sitting on one's hands, thinking exclusively in traditional left-right, consumer-versus-company terms. Instead we should be thinking about how collaboration between consumers and companies can provide an enormous amount of protection against the worst features of the flattening of the world, without opting for classic protectionism. 'Compassionate capitalism. Think it sounds like an oxymoron? Think again,' said (Marc) Gunther. 'Even as America is supposedly turning conservative on social issues, big business is moving in the other direction.'"

Thomas Friedman, “The World is Flat”

DOUBLE NICKEL RANCH. Removing customer sacrifice opens the door to customization and higher margins in much the same way that mass customization is achieved through the interplay between dynamic and stable product and process states.

Journal 2020 Foresight: According to our earlier discussion, products commoditized the value of commodities, and service commoditized products, and now experience commoditizes service, right?

Explorer: Yes. And the strategy for service providers to increase margins and profits is to customize their service while at the same time commoditizing their competitors.

J2020F: Which leads to experience?

Explorer: And, by customizing experience the highest relevance for customers will be their personal transformation. Which looking backwards will eventually commoditize experience.

J2020F: But as an economic era, we aren’t there yet, right?

Explorer: True, but we are in coaching professions and in commercialized religion already – those tribal clusters in the Academic professions – Brand-as-Experts and Traditional Institutions.

J2020F: What can we expect in terms of ushering in a new economic era?

Explorer: I’d expect it to come from those sharing the border with the Agents – those Professional Practice Academics or University Research Center Academics who might end up collaborating with the Agent Thought Leaders or R&D Laboratories.

J2020F: In any rate, say you’re the Reinvention Chef – or Chief -- challenged with mobilizing a reinvention team in a service organization facing a major decline -- how do you reinvent service into experience?

Explorer: In much the same way that we did in the mass-customization model.

J2020F: With stable and dynamic product or process changes?

Explorer: Not exactly. Same kind of model, though. We develop, link, modularize and then renew. This time, however, it is between changing and not changing the service as well as its representation.

J2020F: How does it work?

Explorer: You start at the same place, as you did last time with reinvention. In the upper left hand box, you begin with an exploring experience in which you offer either-or options.

J2020F: So this is like a decision-tree? If customers choose this, then the path takes them here. If they choose that, then the path takes them there?

Explorer: Yes. But, you are using something like a structured set of choices in an initial interview. You and your customers collaboratively determine what they need through these guided choices – and then you produce it.

J2020F: In this model, I see there’s interplay between a product or service change and a representation change.

Explorer: That’s right. Sometimes it’s necessary to produce a different service and in other cases the service stays the same, but how it’s represented changes.

J2020F: What about in this first case, exploring what the customer needs?

Explorer: You are changing both -- its representation and the service itself -- to meet the outcome of the either- or choices.

J2020F: I see that as in the previous mass customization model, you now move to the bottom left box when you develop a product or service.

Explorer: When you know what customers want you move from a change service stage to a both a no change service and no change representation and you develop what they want.

J2020F: How is that customization or personalization?

Explorer: You offer one product, and allow users to alter it to fit their needs in an experimenting experience. Typically, they adaptively sort-through how they want to change the product to better fit their needs.

J2020F: I need help understanding this one.

Explorer: This box differs from the exploring experience. Together you and the customer make decisions about the product or service and then produce the product to those specifications.

J2020F: Right. I get that. How is this “sort-through” different?

Explorer: The product doesn’t change in its final form, but it can be one of many that are chosen, based on the options or features a customer sorts through to get there.

J2020F: Maybe an example would help.

Explorer: Take Grey Owl’s “BOF Knowledge Base.”Clients sort through their preferences for a town or a neighborhood in a town, their own “Greendale,” that meets most of their key criteria having completed Basecamp – skiing, 20 miles to a university, low cost of living, growing job base, a lifestyle profile similar to the one they enjoy now, and within a certain age range – say, the F1- Accumulated Wealthy who are mostly college-educated, white-collar Baby Boomers living in sprawling homes, for instance.

J2020F: Yes.

Explorer: The town that is returned as a result of their search – the “product” in this case doesn’t change as a result of the process. It isn’t custom-produced. Instead, the “search path” to it may change by sorting through different competing criteria.

J2020F: Got it. The customer can see if the town based on its description is the best fit or not. If not, – say in this case Del Mar offers everything but local skiing -- the customer tweaks the criteria slightly, say to Rocky Mountains and a different product – or town materializes.

Explorer: The next change, from a no change in the product's representation to a change is linked to the customer gratification experience in which you offer them one standard good, but differently to different customers.

J2020F: You move to the lower right box.

Explorer: Here you eliminate customer sacrifice, but in a different way. Even though the product hasn't changed, the gratifying experience is sold through a cosmetic change in representation.

J2020F: How would that approach differ from the other two?

Explorer: Let’s say in the Knowledge Base a town in Colorado called Durango exits. Different customers will find it, visit it and will experience it slightly differently based on what gratifies them.

J2020F: How is this different?

Explorer: Durango can be found in the Knowledge Base as a result of focusing on age-group segment alone. If you want to hang out with Gen Y exclusively – then Durango is your town.

J2020F: If I’m an avid snowboarder, Durango is my town.

Explorer: If you’re a Baby Boomer looking to invest in a second home that has the potential for reasonable real estate appreciation and you can rent it out until you move, Durango is your town.

J2020F: So the product or service – in this case, Durango can be – and is – offered and packaged slightly differently to a different category of tourist or potential resident or investor, right?

Explorer: Yes, and when Durango can be modularized we now can tailor offerings without customers knowing that they what they are experiencing has been customized for them in a discovering experience.

J2020F: Now, we’re talking about the upper right hand corner.

Explorer: Yes. The customer experiences a transparently elusive discovery process that can be repeated again.

J2020F: How does that work.

Explorer: In our conversation, you tell me you are looking for something in a vacation home and I magically sort through the Knowledge Base mentally or with you present and offer Durango as the best of three choices.

J2020F: What if Durango is not the best fit after I visit?

Explorer: You tell me why. I tweak your profile of preferences based upon our conversation and give you two or three different locations – Pagosa Springs, Colorado or Angel Fire, New Mexico.

J2020F: So this way of eliminating customer sacrifice is in person?

Explorer: No, not necessarily. By saving your choices and preferences to an online profile, you can screen out all the possibilities in Grey Owl’s Knowledge Base that will never fit, and filter in only those that do.

J2020F: So your customer won’t have to sort-through hundreds of choices. And, as that customer you probably don’t care that there are thousands of towns from which you can choose. You don’t want to bother, right?

Explorer: Why would you? And the whole process to eliminate customer sacrifice can be renewed for further customization in the exploring experience again -- when you determine what they need and then produce it.

J2020F: Develop, link, modularize and renew! Does it work the same way when you customize experience?

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

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