The agility that the changing world demands of companies these days, is largely due to the empowerment of customers. Understanding how our customers have changed and how this impacts our culture, structure and business models: all that was on the bill for Day 2 of our Ignition Bootcamp.
Understanding the inner workings of a (crocodile) brain
The day began with a jolt to the senses. All we thought we knew about how customers take decisions turned out - in a lot of cases - to be well wide of the mark. Roeland Dietvorst was responsible for that, with his insights about neuromarketing, which reveals the workings of our unconscious mind. He opened our eyes to the fact that as soon as you ask customers why they prefer a brand, they can only offer rational reasons. But we humans are not a rational species and the actual root of our decisions often lies beneath the surface. In most personal choices, the subconscious plays a dominant role. In less than a second, for instance, most of us decide about election candidates.
Neuroscience is very confronting but helps us truly understand, analyze and predict behavior. It helps us grasp what drives customers and how we can incorporate these needs and desires into our offering and marketing. Like for instance by using “ugly brother pricing”, or “decoy pricing”: having a less appealing pricing option sandwiched between two marginally better deals which subtly encourages customers to either make lots of small purchases, or one big buy. The ugly brother pricing system actually pushes people up and down the scale.
Organizing around the customer in the ‘Day After Tomorrow’
In the next session, thought leader and nexxworks CEO Rik Vera, went into a fuller consideration of ‘extreme customer centricity’. He explained how traditionally-run organizations used to be the center of the business world: they were the flowers and attracted bees (customers) to them with beautiful shapes and colors as well as exquisite scents. But, nowadays, this dynamic has flipped: the customer has become the flower and, the companies are the bees. There is no other way for companies than to “bee” (sorry, we couldn’t let this one go, … ) extremely customer-centric in order to win the heart of the “flowers”.
Startups emerge in that new world and cash in on that trend by taking existing value propositions and fashioning those into something faster, easier and better. But existing organisations could do that too, and even better if they use the kind of assets that startups don’t have, but larger companies do. Rik urged the participants to utilize the elements that they - as an existing organization - possess and that already have intrinsic value. They’ve already built up something of value (know-how, professional competence and experience). They have market share and financial muscle. The trick is to just not be sidetracked by existing structures and processes either, but have the guts to decompose them, and then put them back together differently, bearing in mind how the new world is shaping up. That’s the way to become a startup with a distinct plus.
Meet the disrupters!
After that, it was time for some revealing insights from true disruptors in ‘extreme customer centricity’: hospitality chain CitizenM, presented by Lennert De Jong and June Energy, presented by Vincent De Dobbeleer.
CitizenM is a hotel chain… that does not actually consist of hotels. Well, not in the sense of traditional hotels. For starters, they don’t have a regular check-in desk. Customers can do that electronically by themselves in the lobby, though there is always a friendly (human) face present to assist those who need a hand. It’s faster, easier and there’s a lot less fiction. Then there’s the bar. Unlike their competition, these are warm and welcoming and kept open 24/7, because that’s the place where mobile (it's where the -m in their name comes from) citizens like to hang out. CitizenM beds are also extra-large and bear exceedingly good mattresses. For the untrained eye, all of these (which are just a few of the differences with traditional hotels) might seem small points, but it’s just those details that make the (big) difference. That’s because, as Steven Van Belleghem puts it: ‘convenience’ is the new ‘loyalty’. Absolute key in accomplishing the “wow” effect that it strives for, is CitizenM’s empowerment of its ambassadors (which is how it calls its employees).
Another disrupter at the bootcamp was Vincent De Dobbeleer of June who jumped on a ‘compelling reason to change’ in the energy market. Nearly all participants had the feeling of paying too much for their energy, but when asked: “who takes the trouble to compare energy providers and to change suppliers?” no one put their hand up. June automates that process in a fast and simple manner. It records its customers’ personal consumption profile via a smart meter reader, constantly compares the best available deals and switches suppliers automatically. Vincent De Dobbeleer taught us that disruption should never be pursued as a goal. It is merely a consequence of having a strong focus on extreme customer experience, and this without any compromise. He showed us that the pursuit should never be "I want to be disruptive" but "I want to deliver extreme customer experiences without compromise".
How to explore new business models
At this point, the bootcampers had assimilated quite a lot of information. It was time for a thorough full afternoon workshop given jointly by nexxworks partner Annick Vandezande and nexxworker Felix Garriau which focused on what we could do with all these innovations, insights and cases and how (and where) we could get started on the road to change. Felix started with a presentation on ‘design thinking’, a holistic way for a business to gain a comprehensive, empathic understanding of customer needs. As he explained, it is both a method and mentality for solving problems practically and creatively and for developing new products and services with a clear focus on value creation for customers.
After that, Annick centered on the methodologies for effective business or product development. She emphasized that it’s not so much which method you choose, but how you set about it. A common mistake with this is to focus too much on the solution. “Fall in love with the problem, not the solution”, as Omar Mohout so beautifully put it the next day. At the end, the bootcampers joined up in groups to create a concrete case and presented that to one another. They were both energized by the speed in which they were be able to go from general idea to product idea and challenged to find focus as a group in the avalanche of individual ideas.
Inspired to join our next Ignition Bootcamp which will take place in Utrecht between 20 and 24 March 2017? Register now as seats are limited!
For those who are not familiar with our Bootcamps, they are insanely intensive 5-day perspective-shifting experiences. We organize them because we believe that you cannot “learn” innovation. It is not a theory. But you can pick up an innovation mindset by opening your eyes to the biases that (mis)guide you, by incorporating radical new trends, by looking outside your comfort zone of knowledge and experience, by talking to mind-mates (like soulmates, but for the mind) from different sectors, and by thinking and doing things that might seem counterintuitive to you.
Our innovation Bootcamps don’t “teach”. They want to embed participants into a network of intelligence. They move beyond knowledge and aim for cognitive agility as well as real impact on how participants think and solve problems. In short: they transform the mind-set. This is how we help our bootcampers lay the groundwork for change.