Crazy times call for…

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Stop. Crazy times don’t call for crazy measures. Crazy times call for calm, considered responses which are then implemented. It’s easy to get caught up in the panic response in these unusual times. Panic is cheap and easy to do if your cash flow is evaporating, stopped yesterday, your doors are shut and orders or sales leads have dried up. But please don’t panic, it’s a bad look and it’s not sexy. There are better options.

Take five deep breaths now, from your belly. Go make yourself a cup of tea while focusing on deep breathing and let’s take a step back and talk about emotional value. First though, let’s just get some context as the opportunities before us are unique.

For many years now the words disruption, innovation and entrepreneurship have dripped off so-called leaders tongues like a slobbering bloodhound. Apart from speeches, innovation teams and lengthy documents with monotonous repetition of the word innovation, very little gets done, until…an actual disruption occurs. Enter Covid19. 

It might be easier to consider Covid19 as separate disruptions that are occurring:

  1. The immediate situation and its impact on our normal daily lives (short-term)
  2. The economic impact: personally, businesses-wise and collectively (short to medium-term)
  3. The fallout – the mental health impact that will result from dramatic unplanned changes and lack of control. (Short to long term)

Some will sail through the next 12 months with little real impact, others will be impacted in 1, 2 or 3 areas and sadly some won’t be around to experience any of them. 

There’s a lot to think about for sure, it’s a complex situation. The way to thrive through complexity is to be disciplined, to focus on what you can control and not on what you cannot. So now we have some context, let’s get to the main discussion on how you can bring innovation without the panic. Take a sip of tea and answer this question. 

What will my customers miss when I’m gone?

I commend Square Holes for running a very public annual poll on “Would you miss Square Holes if were gone” towards the end of the past two years. No need for a survey now, shit’s just got real. Many businesses due to disruption 1 above are effectively gone! Their normal product/service just evaporated at least for the time being e.g. gymnasiums, restaurants, cafe’s, theatres, zoos, pubs, clubs, beauty therapists. There is a very real prospect of complete lockdown across Australia and other parts of the world. 

Take a sip, it’s time to really focus. 

What will your customers miss? What emotional response did they get from your business interaction and what might they need due to Disruption3 when you re-open? In the sales environment this is often referred to as a features versus benefits analysis. For example, experienced, commission free financial advisors are the feature, a good nights sleep without worrying about money might be the benefit. What your customers might be missing or will miss might be tough for you to personally answer as you’ll have strong bias.

One way to tackle this is the ‘5 Why’s’ approach. Ask yourself why do customers buy from me? Then keep asking why 5 times. If you do this well, somewhere along the line you will come up with an emotion that you are satisfying. This is your gold. Absolute gold.

Let’s go to the humble pot of tea as a beautiful example. Tea in Japan is a very special thing. Elaborate tea ceremonies, Chanoyu, are part of their culture. But a tea ceremony is so much more than drinking tea. A tea ceremony is about harmony, respect, purity, tranquility, it is a form of art, a meditation, a gesture of friendship and respect.

Most businesses can learn a lot from studying Chanoyu. If one aspect of that tea ceremony is missing it might show a lack of respect. How do you treat your customers? Is your Covid19 response message about you, or about what your customers needs are.

Here’s some things to think about right now …

  1. Read up about Chanoyu and think about how that might impact your business
  2. Research what value you actually bring to your customers (Avoid bias)
  3. Consider how you can deliver that value (emotional) in these current times
  4. Build that knowledge into your new customer experience plan and get ready – be alert to how you can add value in light of disruption 3.

When this blip is over, when we unbolt our doors, step outside and draw in the new world air, we will likely be craving experiences, not possessions. Make your story count, make your experience memorable and think deeply about your customers emotions. This is your opportunity to truly innovate and now is absolutely the perfect time. 

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