13 November 2014

Conversations

Do you remember the last time you had a really great conversation? Regardless if it was with a friend, a colleague or a stranger, I imagine that it was a rewarding experience. The two of you talking, listening, interacting, engaging with each other. I’m pretty sure you felt there was a mutual respect. Maybe you gained some new insights or was touched by something they said. Perhaps it made you look at something from a new perspective?

Now do you remember the last time you had that type of communication with a brand or a product? No? Most brands today are getting really good at communicating their thoughts and opinions through social media. They’ve adopted the new (digital) landscape and use the tools at hand to talk to millions of fans, followers and “friends” on a daily basis. For some reason though, it’s not really that same type of communication now is it? What we as communicators often forget is that communication is a two-way street. Without a mutual respect for each other there’s nothing to base the communication and the relationship on. How come so many brands try to start a communication by talking, rather than listening in and joining in on a topic?

When you listen to people and really try and understand their thoughts and everyday life, you get to understand what their needs are. This enables you to create products and services that not only make your users happier — but thoroughly gives them a better everyday life.

“Sure, but we’re already talking to our customers and taking input from them.” Well, that’s great but here comes the tricky part. Your organization will have to change. Your company will need to adjust and reshape. Every day. And there’s no guarantee that it will bring you anymore success.

I recently gave a short talk about the challenges the banking industry is facing. It’s an industry that have been centered around their own office for centuries and they have had complete control over their customers and the way they should run their business. The last couple of years though, we’ve seen a huge change within that industry and there are literally new services popping up every day that will give the old banks a decent fight over users.

I’m a consultant and consultants generally sell their services in relation to time. Some charge an hourly rate and some charge a monthly rate. But the general business model is that you pay X times Y. It’s an understatement that my potential might be resistant to hire someone they’ve never met (and usually never will meet) to do something that they find it difficult to scope. When talking to potential clients I realized I had to offer a lower risk, lower cost offer that I could offer to them without really knowing the specifics of their business. As a low risk offer, I realized I had to drop my current business model of charging for my time and give them a fixed price, fixed deliverable product. You can find out more about it my offer here.

Change is scary because you’re never sure of what you’re going to get. I have honestly no idea how my product will fall out. I have invested time and money in it but I’m not sure if it’ll ever generate me anything back. But as Peter Aceto, CEO of Tangerine put it:

“Don’t get me wrong, (banking) innovation is not easy, but the alternative, as far as we see it, is no longer an option.”

So we dare to try. We dare to fail and because of that, we will succeed.