Which Waze to Go? How to Improve Customer Acquisition and Retention, Part I

We're Late... 

I had an onsite meeting with a client the other day at their offices in Long Island.  I am very much a proponent of in person dialogue when it comes to problem solving.  I enjoy the trip to Long Island and take the ferry out of New London, CT when we go.  The ferry ride is relaxing and the drive from Orient Point, NY to their offices is beautiful.

Here’s the problem.  I’m always late. Sometimes late(r) than others; but this time I missed the New London ferry by four minutes.

I look at my CTO who is with me and I say:

“No problem; we will just grab the ferry in Bridgeport, CT”.

When I miss the Bridgeport Ferry by (you guessed it) four minutes, I still keep my cool (although it’s getting to be a struggle):

“No problem, we will just drive straight through to Long Island”.

When you are habitually late, one coping mechanism is to find ways to tell yourself that it’s going to be fine.  That day I made myself feel better because I had just got a new car and was looking forward to testing it out on the open road.

My first car was a 1984 Oldsmobile Omega- a gift from my grandfather. I spent all the money I had when I got the car, and took it to Maaco; had the car painted black and vinyl roof dyed black to match.  The car needed to be in neutral when coming to a stop. It was so old that one foot needed to be on the gas pedal with the other foot on the break pedal- otherwise the car would stall.  My whole life I dreamed of driving something that friends and family alike did not refer to as “the ghetto bastard.”

Fast forward 20 years and I’m driving to my client in a two day old Porsche Panamera- essentially an iPad on four wheels; and I cannot figure out how to use it.  I cannot figure out how to use the navigation, and I am somewhere between ten minutes to an hour late for a meeting with my client.

What then?  My CTO pulls out her cell phone and pulls up Waze….

Waze? A window to SMARTech Convergence? 

I had not used this app but have heard people rave about it.  We get to Long Island and our meeting twenty minutes late.  There is nothing as dejecting as seeing you make up ten minutes on your arrival time only to have Waze auto calculate “because of traffic” and say you’ll be twenty minutes late.

We arrived in Long Island; I walked into that meeting and was so frustrated with the trip there; I didn’t have my trademark one liners about being late to break the ice.  Little did I know- this wouldn’t be the last time that day I would hear about Waze.

Little did I know how an application that made me want to throw my CTO’s barely functional iPhone out of my car window would apply to Marketing, Sales and more specifically Customer Acquisition + Retention.

During the meeting we discussed various elements of SMARTech Convergence, how it related to their business and how it could create a new, more cost-effective way to acquire customers through the company’s website.


Shift in Mindset 

During the discussion I made reference to the unique perspective I’ve formed having worked with companies of all sizes, across diverse industries.  I explained that having been exposed to so many problems, seen success and failure on many levels- these experiences afforded the ability to re-examine problems across my clients with a fresh set of eyes. That in doing so, I was able to often broker consensus amongst internal stakeholders and challenge my clients to look at prevailing issues differently.  That sometimes, a shift in mindset without a predisposed opinion on an issue (i.e. the ol’ “we’ve always done it this way”) is what’s needed to drive innovation.

SMARTech Convergence isn’t the same “paint by number” checklist for every company.  It is a framework that is designed to gear everything a company does around their customers, and forces the departments within companies to be their best through close cooperation- without the (office) political or philosophical walls that often separate them.

Restart to Reconfigure 

The CEO of the company used an excellent example to illustrate my point:

He told us how he was an avid user of Waze.  He relayed that in using the application there were times when he felt like the logic within the application was making route suggestions based on the previous steps instead of recalibrating for the larger goal given its point in time.  He went on to say that when he felt this way, he would restart the Waze app. When the application restarted, he would hit the last destination and the app would find a better optimal route based on current conditions.  The application reconfigured itself- free from the predisposition of the previous steps it had taken.

Everything Happens for a Reason 

When he finished I just shook my head.  I believe in life; things happen for a reason.  Any success in problem solving that I’ve had comes from failing.  Sometimes finding out why you failed and just preventing those things from happening can default in success.  The SMARTech Convergence Methodology is as much about eliminating reasons WHY a company will fail in acquiring or retaining customers as it is telling them WHAT to do.

In a society that is becoming more reliant on technology to tell us WHAT to do- maybe we can all take a page out of Waze’s playbook in our ongoing Customer Acquisition + Retention efforts.

To Be Continued...

Keep Reading!
Which Waze to Go?
How to Improve Customer Acquisition and Retention Part II

Part II of the Which Waze to Go? Series provides readers with valuable problem solving techniques and insight about how to over the inability to measure success within your organization. 

Change is inevitable. Progress is a choice.
Have the Courage to Prioritize Progress.