What's The Big Idea?

Following on from yesterday’s insight from Andy Hornby, we promised you a first look today at some exciting developments. So here goes. Well firstly, there are four big ideas. No, make that four and a half.

1 – Cut the distance between our customers and us.
2 – Ambassadorise everyone
3 – Ban incentives
4 – Go public!
4.5 – Personal Service

Cut the distance between our customers and us.

By the time customer feedback makes it from the front line to the policy makers, it has passed through so many filters that it bears little resemblance to its original self. We then go ahead and make policy decisions based on this distorted view. Devolve the decision making close to the edge of the organisation. Speed up.

Ambassadorise everyone

You know when you are down the pub and someone asks “who do you work for?” I think I’ll keep that to myself in case the next question is “well my phone line/broadband/mobile etc etc ain’t working, who do I call?” Use knowledge management to enable me to find the answer and get back to my drinking buddy and solve his problem with him. If 100,000 BT people did that for 5 of their friends….that’s a lot of great customer experiences!

Ban incentives

Are we actually paying people to do dumb things? Everyone comes to work wanting to do a good job and intrinsically they know what’s right. Then we go and spoil it all by offering financial incentives which drive the wrong behaviour. How can that be good for us and our customers?

Go public!

Use the power of social media to share stuff with, and learn stuff from, our customers! Get blogging, facebooking, myspaceing, whatever. Set up a problem blog on, be open and encourage customers and BT people to answer the questions. The blog you are reading right now came about as a direct response to this idea. We’ve seen evidence of Twitter being used as a means of improving the customer experience too.

Personal Service

Something else that came up repeatedly was the power of the single point of contact. Most of our positive experiences involved the personal touch. So why not replicate that in BT. When you have a customer contact you, it is your responsibility to deal with it, own it and fix it, on behalf of your customer. Personal service from BT – how powerful.
We had great fun coming up with these ideas and we’re working on bringing them to life.

Can we make them work…what do you think?

Quote of the day

I pinched this from The Independent newspaper.

The bonus system has proved to be wrong. Substantial cash bonuses do not reward the right kind of behaviour.

Andy Hornby, former CEO, HBOS.

You don’t say! Doubtless such profound insight is worth all the money he trousered then? We’ve been working on something which proves Mr Hornby, and others to be right on the mark. Shame it took such upheaval to get this issue front of brain. Come back tomorrow and we’ll share our first thoughts with you.

We Do What We Say We Will

Would you arrange to meet friends at a restaurant and then not bother to show up?
Would you book a hotel room and then not bother to check in?
Would you agree to help a friend and then do nothing?

Absolutely not! I can hear the indignation in your reply. Me? Behave like that? No way, it’s just not cricket/acceptable/the right thing to do (choose your favourite outburst ending). Quite apart from anything else, if we were to behave like this then a) we’d soon have no friends and b) we’d be out of pocket to boot. Unless it was a real emergency, (in which case we would make every effort to at least inform our friends), we just wouldn’t do it.

That’s settled then. Oh, but hang on, wait a minute…

Would you accept an invite to a meeting or call and then not bother to show up?
Would you book a meeting room and then not bother to use it?
Would you take an action in a meeting and then not bother to follow it up?

Errrmm. Well….you see I had every intention of doing the right thing but….something more important came up. My boss gave me something urgent. And anyway, it’s not like it’s just me….is it? Well regrettably no, it’s not just you. We all know how difficult it can be to do something as simple as book a room for a meeting. There are never any rooms available. And yet, on the day, you can usually find space that’s been booked and just not used. If I were the booking system I’d feel very unloved. Trouble is you can’t plan your work around maybes. When we behave like this in big businesses what are the direct consequences…? I hear tumbleweed rolling by. So are we saying that if there are no consequences around failure to act that we just don’t feel the need? I think so – and yet there’s more to this.

If we look at my friend Ursula’s excellent definition of a customer we can see that the right behaviour is essential in developing a thriving business. Take it away, Ursula:

“The Dictionary definition is really boring! So I looked up the etymology for you and here it is… I love the etymology of words! (Incidentally, the etymology of etymology comes from “logo” – the Greek for “word” and “etymon” meaning “truth”! Ha!)

The word derives from “custom,” meaning “habit”; a customer was someone who frequented a particular shop, who made it a habit to purchase goods of the sort the shop sold there rather than elsewhere, and with whom the shopkeeper had to maintain a relationship to keep his or her “custom,” meaning expected purchases in the future. The word did not refer to those who purchased things at a fair or bazaar, or from a street vendor

So it’s all about maintaining a relationship rather than just selling something and bu66ering off!”

Aha, maintaining relationships – thanks Ursula!

It’s weird eh? I think most of us get the concept of reciprocity, the old saying of what goes around…and yet this kind of short term selfishness is not uncommon in my experience. Thinking back to the examples at the start of this short tale, I’m left wondering why people so rarely let friends down, and yet the same can’t always be said for colleagues.

Can you imagine what we could achieve if we kept our hearts and minds with us at work instead of checking them in at security as we enter the workplace?