To be a professional disruptor, you must be willing to take risks, which means you must be willing to fail. Billionaire James Dyson once said, “I’ve always thought that schoolchildren should be marked by the number of failures they’ve had. The child who tries strange things and experiences lots of failures to get there is probably more creative.”
Chief Failure Officer
Recently Jeff Bezos’ net worth surpassed 100 billion. Not bad for a guy who says it is his job to fail often. In an interview with Henry Blodget, CEO of Business Insider, Bezos shares, “I’ve made billions of dollars of failures at Amazon.” He stresses that for a company to have long-term sustainability, not just survive, they need to be constantly experimenting and be willing to fail. He says, “One of my jobs is to encourage people to be bold. It’s incredibly hard. Experiments are, by their very nature, prone to failure. A few big successes compensate for dozens and dozens of things that didn’t work.”
Reward Failures = A Culture Of Innovation
Business guru Tom Peters says, “I’d rather reward spectacular failures than reward mediocre accomplishments.” What are you doing to encourage your people and yourself to see what is possible? You have to create a risk taking culture, and you do that by constantly experimenting. No one did this more effectively than Steve Jobs building Apple. Great leaders encourage experimentation and risk taking. Because of this, their people don’t fear failure. “The only way to come up with something new, something world changing, is to think outside of the constraints everyone else has,” said Jobs. “You have to think outside of the artificial limits everyone else has already set.”
Uberproof your business
Every industry has an Uber coming. In his recent article How To Avoid Disruption, James Caan shares how you can take steps to prepare for the inevitable. “Invest in a team whose primary focus is innovation. This team should be full of people with a startup mentality, who will question your processes and make you think differently.”
Experience 2022 Meetings
Epiphanies rarely occur in familiar surroundings. The key to “thinking differently” is to perceive things differently, through the lens of a revolutionary. And to see things through this lens, you must force your brain to make connections it otherwise would have missed. It sounds difficult, but there are simple ways to get the creative juices flowing. Every Fridayafternoon set aside two hours for Xperience 2022 meetings. Calling it Xperience 2022 allows your employees to not focus on the “how” and instead focus on the “why,” “what if,” and “why not.” Encourage crazy ideas focusing on what your Customer Experience can look like by the year 2022-your product, services, and ease of doing business.
You don’t have to wait until 2022 to roll out these ideas. You can easily take the best ideas that come from your Xperience 2022 brainstorming sessions and roll them out in safe beta test environments, e.g., in just one department, location or one Customer facing employee for a month. By limiting your new concept to a department, location, or employee, it allows you to test it out in a controlled environment, track the results, make necessary changes needed to the idea, and have proof of the success of the project. This will help you sell it to the rest of the organization when it is ready to be launched company wide.
Here are some examples of how to do soft rollouts in small ways:
No Front Desk
At John Robert’s Spa we have always wanted to remove the traditional front desk and create more of an Apple environment. However, no one liked this idea at our existing salons so we waited until we opened a new location in 2013 to roll it out. There is not a front desk, computer, printer, or receptionist sitting at a chair, not even a hostess stand. This concept was so successful from not only a Customer service standpoint, but it immediately became the #1 selling location for product sales. In 2016 we opened another location, did the same thing and had the same results. Now all our other locations want us to remove their front desks.
Call Center Agent
We have clients who tested out an idea with having only one Call Center Agent greet callers by saying, “Thank you for calling ABC, this is Martha, who do I have the pleasure of speaking to?” They measured the results over 30 days and found her satisfaction scores where higher as well as her close rates. The results gave them the smoking gun to get buy in from everyone else in the Call Center to want to say the same thing.
John R. DiJulius is a best-selling author, consultant, keynote speaker and President of The DiJulius Group, the leading Customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on Customer experience trends and best practices.