Which face do you turn towards the world? Is it the corporate image in which everything’s perfect and nothing is out of line; or is it a shade of meltdown in which spokespeople go out of their way to blame suppliers, management, past management, the time of year, employees and the customers themselves for even the smallest mishap?
Both can in fact be equally destructive. There is not much to be said about businesses in open meltdown apart from the fact that they are engaged in a self-defeating inward spiral, which will have only one end. Conversely, in the spirit of ‘if it looks too good to be true it probably is too good to be true’ people instinctively think that businesses which try too hard to show themselves as perfect have something to hide. And rather like the wicked queen in Snow White, those who search for a perfect image tend to be more concerned about themselves than about the needs of the customer or the wider world.
So for the successful business which genuinely tries to differentiate itself and provide an outstanding level of customer service the best image may be one of ‘just trying to do our best for you’. But that only works when the organisational culture is geared up to produce innovative solutions, which in turn will drive exceptional service levels and experiences.
It has to be admitted that some businesses will find it easier to match their image with their product than others. Sell a widget and your customers’ relationship is directly with you as an organisation, which sells components to them. Offer a social media solution and it can be difficult to differentiate between your organisation and those who use your product. For example, the public image of Facebook is as much coloured by those who connect and share on Facebook as by the organisation itself. So when a remark, positive or negative, posted on Facebook goes viral; it can affect the way in which Facebook is viewed across the world.
But the fact that its clients can distort the public face of an organisation is no reason for the organisation to shun publicity or to hold back on creative innovation. Quite the contrary as Facebook has shown time and time again. The success of Facebook is down to working with a deep understanding of potential users and innovating to produce the best experience for them. And within that, Facebook understands that to keep its users requires a constant search for the new, for the improved and for the agile. Look at some of the Facebook tenets for example:
- Move fast and break things.
- What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
- Put people at the centre of things.
- Done is better than perfect.
In the last decade or so we’ve seen social media organisations come and go. Some have never got off the ground; others have swiftly become the next best thing and as swiftly faded into obscurity. One of the reasons why Facebook is still around is that it puts the user first, it tries constantly to innovate for an improved experience but it doesn’t innovate for innovation’s sake; when it innovates it puts people at the centre of the mix. What is the real face of Facebook? Sometimes it is hard to get past the users’ chatter but when you do you see an organisation, which strives to innovate, to create experiences and to positively impact the lives of its customers.
Innovation action point…
In a world in which every organisation is increasingly the same, those which stand out, are those, which can create exceptional customer and consumer experiences. Innovating for innovation sake is a waste of time; innovating to improve the lives or experiences of customers is a game changer. Putting people at the centre, not being afraid to try new things, being agile and responding quickly to market conditions is the name of the game.
Everyone says they want or need to drive innovation but few actually do. If you want to be one of the few and you’ve got a question, ask Cris on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.crisbeswick.com for more information.