Which Waze to Go
I’m habitually late to meetings. En route to a recent client visit, when I narrowly missed both the New London and Bridgeport ferries from Connecticut to Long Island, I started to lose my cool.
My CTO, who was with me, pulled out her cell phone and called up the Waze navigational app, which I’d never used. “No problem, we’ll just drive straight through to Long Island,” she said. We thought we were gaining 10 minutes on our arrival time—until Waze calculated that, because of traffic, we’d be 20 minutes late.
When we finally arrived at our meeting, tardy and apologetic, little did I know that Waze would soon crop up in conversation again. In particular, the application that made me want to throw my CTO’s iPhone out the car window would later reveal itself to have relevance to the customer-centric methodology we espouse at Conduit to correct misalignment between people, processes, platforms, and data to boost customer acquisition and retention—a result we call SMARTech Convergence.
Shifting your Mindset
During the meeting we discussed various elements of SMARTech Convergence and how it could create a new, more cost-effective way to acquire customers.
I mentioned the unique perspective I’ve formed from working with companies of all sizes across diverse industries. My exposure to so many problems, successes, and failures has afforded me the ability to view problems across my clients’ diverse businesses with a fresh set of eyes. In doing so, I’m often able to broker consensus amongst internal stakeholders and challenge my clients to look at prevailing issues differently. Sometimes, a shift in mindset away from “we’ve always done it this way” is what’s needed to drive innovation.
At that point in the conversation, Waze reared its head again.
The CEO of my client company 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 previous trips instead of recalibrating to take into account current road and traffic conditions. He said that when he felt this way, he would restart the Waze app, and voila! The app would reconfigure itself, free from the predisposition of previous trips, and would find a better route based on the latest data.
This was an excellent illustration of my point about SMARTech Convergence and how recalibrating from time to time can pay big dividends. In a society coming to rely on technology to tell us what to do, maybe we can all take a page from Waze’s playbook in our ongoing customer acquisition and retention efforts and consider a reboot when a customer acquisition initiative misfires.
If you are driving on a highway and you abruptly stop at the edge of a cliff, it’s obvious that you can’t continue moving in the same direction—and you’ll need to restart your nav system. When a company hits a roadblock in its efforts to market to or acquire customers, however, there are usually a variety of reasons that are all connected and, in most cases, interdependent.
Roadblocks are symptomatic of a larger problem. As in medicine, treating the underlying cause, rather than just the symptoms, of a problem usually yields the best results. In business, the “disease” is typically a collection of variables left unsolved that are undermining the efforts of good people trying to do the best jobs they can for the companies they work for.
In order to measure their successes, companies need to internally align on what to measure. Rebooting the way departments look at a problem, free of jaded perspectives based on history, is a start.
The Customer is King
Reaching SMARTech Convergence requires beginning and ending with the customer. The customer (in particular, the satisfied customer) is what should bind all departments in a company, remove any internal politics, and function as a rallying point for every company to restart their internal navigation system.
The path to SMARTech Convergence requires a series of steps that forces the company’s business goals to drive specificity within sales goals, which in turn better focuses the job of marketers. The business puts emphasis on acquiring specific types of customers that align with the goals of the business and places importance on actual tactics only when the end goal is clear.
Once sales and marketing become aligned, IT supports that alignment and measurement through technology. IT has to make the right technology choices and deploy the platforms in a way that they can serve the business. Only then can your company begin to eliminate data silos, uncover pitfalls in the current customer acquisition strategy, and change course as necessary.
The people entrusted to guide businesses are often the farthest removed from the day-to-day operational tactics of their companies. In today’s marketplace, where costs to market and acquire customers are outpacing budgets, it’s crucial for management teams to have a framework that unifies efforts and streamlines business insight.
Just like a smartphone GPS app uses maps, traffic information and accident alerts to maintain the fastest route to a destination, SMARTech Convergence requires using customer insight, integrated reporting, and internal consensus to keep your organization on the fastest and most cost-effective route to acquiring and retaining the right type of customers.