Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone
The ability to innovate is an entrepreneurial quality that is essential for companies to succeed in today's fiercely competitive retail markets. However many companies may be locked in an inertia of change dictated by industry norms.
This was the message Satmetrix CEO Richard Owen gave at Satmetrix's Net Promoter Score conference earlier this week. Standard operating procedures may be hampering many companies from innovating to meet customer expectations, he explained. Organizations fearful of moving beyond business as usual will create tolerant customers, but rather meeting their expectations is the key to growth, Owen said.
He gave examples of companies that have tried something different than their industry counterparts to meet customer expectations and are succeeding:
• Ritz-Carlton, for example, is revolutionizing its check-in, check-out process, eliminating the industry standard "3 p.m. check-in and 11 a.m. check-out," and instead letting customers decide when they want to come and go.
• General Motors introduced a 60-day money-back guarantee this past September. GM estimates that only 1 percent of sales will result in a return. While money-back guarantees are normal in many industries, it's not the norm in the automotive space.
• At Netflix, founder Reed Hastings started the online company because he was annoyed by having to pay late fees at video retailers. Netflix ended the fourth quarter of 2009 with approximately 12.3 million subscribers, representing 31 percent year-over-year growth.
While these companies have stepped outside their comfort zones and have succeeded, many others are fearful of trying something new. For these organizations, Owen offered three pieces of advice:
1. Understand your existing zone of tolerance and develop ideas outside of it.
2. Focus on your SOPs that are defined around your industry practice that are not delivering a good customer experience.
3. Think like an entrepreneur trying to attack and remake your industry.
For inspiration,Owen quoted Sam Walton: "Swim upstream. Ignore conventional wisdom. If someone is doing it one way, there is a good chance you will find your niche by going in exactly the opposite direction."
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