0

The other day, in an article on quickly creating 100+ cool product names, I mentioned a bad/great customer experience story. It happened while trying to catch an earlier flight from Baltimore to Kansas City.

(And BTW, if you didn’t grab your copy of the FREE naming tool we developed for you, there’s still time. It’s one of the easiest, most productive marketing resources we’ve ever offered.)

Running My Tail Off

Back to the story: I was able to hustle to this early flight possibility out of Baltimore because of wrapping up an all-day client meeting early. I asked the Southwest gate agent, after looking at storms over the Midwest on radar, whether a flight through Chicago would get me home earlier than 9:40 p.m. That was the arrival time for my direct flight to Kansas City departing several hours later. Without saying much, he re-booked me, mentioning that while he couldn’t confirm me on the Chicago flight, the available seats looked fine. I said, “Fantastic,” bought the A7 boarding position, and was looking forward to getting home early after a week away.

I also thought about giving the gate agent one of the Thank You for Kicking Tail coupons Southwest had just sent me. The coupons are to easily facilitate frequent passengers in recognizing Southwest employees who excel at delivering a great customer experience. What a fantastic idea for prompting stronger customer-employee engagement. In the short time between the gate agent re-booking me and boarding the plane, though, I hadn’t dug out the Kicking Tail coupons. I regretted that omission, at least until I boarded the plane.

Great customer experience - Southwest tries to kick tail

Southwest Can Kiss My Tail!

After settling in my seat and responding to Mess Wright about naming ideas, I checked my flight connection in Chicago on the Southwest app. That’s when I realized the gate agent booked me on a flight scheduled to leave Chicago at 9 p.m. That night, it was projecting an even later departure: 10:30 p.m. He knowingly booked me on a flight combination arriving in Kansas City about 3 1/2 hours AFTER my original flight.

WTH???

The app showed the original flight combination I had envisioned would still reach KC at 8:30 p.m. After arriving in Chicago, I’d have to run to the gate for the 7:00 p.m. flight to Kansas City. That was the plan.

After landing at Midway, the KC flight’s gate was close by. The Southwest gate agent there put me on standby. She couldn’t confirm an upgraded boarding position immediately, though. She told me to return in 15 minutes. At that point, she said she could make it work. I tore off one of the Kicking Tail coupons and handed it to her with my thanks. That left a few minutes to grab a quick to-go dinner and hurry back.

Upon returning, the system wouldn’t upgrade the seat. I don’t know the impact the coupon had, but when it didn’t work right away, she became tenacious. There was no way this wasn’t going to work. She tried multiple ways to get the upgrade to take. She called another gate agent to handle the growing line of passengers. She contacted a supervisor to assist her. Suffice it to say, she wasn’t going to stop until she got me on THAT Kansas City flight.

Because of her efforts, I arrived home an hour early!

Southwest Kicks Tail with a Great Customer Experience Recovery

Thank you, Southwest, for providing a way to both recognize her and motivate her to REALLY kick tail. It turned my crappy customer experience into a great customer experience win – maybe because she KNEW it would bring favorable notice! – Mike Brown

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

Boost Your Brand!

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

0

If you’re creating a successful business strategy, you need at least two vital ingredients to complete it:

Some people are incredible at sharing the vision. They have big ideas, see exciting possibilities, and can paint a picture of how the future will look. At the same time, they struggle to translate their vision into specifics that others can interpret and execute.

Other people focus on doing stuff. They want clear direction, so they can begin the doing part. Or maybe they don’t really want the direction; they just want to start doing what they know because they know it and it’s familiar. Asking them the big picture of where all the activity is headed, though, stumps them.

Review the business strategy you are developing.

  • Does it share a vision?
  • Does it offer tangibles that clearly communicate what the vision means and what strong performance looks like?

Can you answer YES to both questions? Then you are ready to exploit this formula:

Vision + Tangibles = The Basis for Implementing a Successful Business Strategy

If you want to go deeper to make sure you have the right combination of vision and tangibles to implement a successful business strategy, our Fast Forward: Successfully Implementing Your Strategic Plan eBook covers moving your plan from messaging to action. Plus, it’s FREE!  – Mike Brown

Download Fast Forward Today!

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

0

When things go wrong, how do you handle it?

Do you bemoan that things were not perfect? Do you become dejected? Do you dig in and try to quickly recover?

Or do you look at it as positive opportunity to learn, change, re-innovate, and grow?

Create Your Own Creative Inspiration Word for When Things Go Wrong

During an Idea Magnets workshop, we invited each participant to make up a positive-sounding word to say whenever something goes wrong. The idea is to address what may seem like a disaster with creative inspiration. Then we practiced saying their words LOUDLY  and BOLDLY!

When I put the question above to Facebook friends before the Idea Magnets workshop, two people from very different parts of my life quickly shared ideas. I went to high school with David Gabler; he suggested, “SMAILURE!” Dennis Smith is an amazing design thinking expert we met through a client engagement. Dennis developed, “FABTASTROPHE!” Those are two fantastic new words for an Idea Magnet’s vocabulary.

My initial idea was, “BRAVANEESIMO!”

What word would you add to your Idea Magnets lexicon to head off negative feelings about things going wrong and encourage a bold, positive confirmation of the new opportunity to learn? – Mike Brown

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

New call-to-action

Buy Your Copy of Idea Magnets TODAY!

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

0

As you look ahead to implementing new strategic initiatives, how actively are you engaging with the senior leaders of your organization to let them know what’s coming? 

This piece from Inside the Executive Suite lays out a number of questions you should be asking to understand what, who, and how you should be communicating to pave the way for successful implementation.

Gaining Leadership Buy-In for New Strategic Initiatives without Selling-Out

This series of questions provides a helpful road map for initiating change and gaining upward support for new strategic initiatives.

1. Determining the Organizational Latitude

The initial questions focus on determining how open an organization is to independent development of new strategic initiatives.

  • What types of new initiatives typically gain an okay / approval?
  • What types of new initiatives usually get more leeway, less oversight, and generous room for development and implementation?
  • What evidence exists to back up the answers to the previous two questions? Are there specific decision-making and support-building processes or oversight groups in place?
  • What has or hasn’t worked in the past to secure sufficient buy-in?

Asking these questions help you determine where you stand as well as your best options with a current initiative.

2. Assessing the Negotiating Position

The next set of questions pertains to understanding how to approach the conversations you need to have, and your best negotiating stance.

  • What must the final version of our initiative include so that the result is true to what we are trying to accomplish?
  • If executives are looking for changes, what potentially important areas are we willing to modify to get agreement to the overall initiative?
  • Are there aspects of the initiative that we are willing to give up or trade away to secure buy-in?

As a starting point, develop a short list of items that you see as must-have elements. This initial list could be based on what team members, the organization, and other internal participants have been told or have come to expect through their involvement in collaboratively developing a strategic initiative. The goal is to think ahead and consider the types of modifications that will be acceptable before executives ask for changes.

3. Identifying the Supporters and Dissenters

You also need to understand where the pockets of support for the new initiative lie within the organization. To further your sell-in strategy, determine:

  • Which individuals and / or groups must support this initiative for us to move forward to implementation?
  • What about it do they have to support, and how do they need to show their support (through a decision, funding, other resources, etc.)?
  • What will it take, individually and collectively, to secure their support?
  • Will any of the individuals or groups look to see if others are already supporting the initiative before they are willing to step up with their own support?

The second part of this exploration is more vital and higher-risk: identifying potential naysayers, especially the ones with enough power to do something about their dissent. Try to anticipate the potential challengers using these questions:

  • Who can kill this initiative outright (these are the aggressive dissenters)?
  • Who might kill this initiative indirectly through resistance, failing to deliver on commitments, or by using the corporate political landscape to create traps (these are the passive dissenters)?
  • What do people in each group believe right now? What do we need them to believe? What will get the dissenters to not try to kill the initiative?

The communication and buy-in path that emerges from these questions will suggest how much effort is ahead of us to gain buy-in. It will also provide clues as to whether it looks like you’ve started early enough to both secure the buy-in and launch the initiative on time.

Start Early to Gain Buy-In

No matter the approach you take to gain support for new strategic initiatives, the key is not putting off the selling step until later. Make this step happen early, and you’ll increase your chances of success.

Looking for Fresh Insights to Drive Strategy?

Download our FREE eBook: Reimagining the SWOT Analysis

swot-alternatives-cover

“Strategic Thinking Exercises: Reimagining the SWOT Analysis” features eleven ideas for adapting, stretching, and reinvigorating how you see your brand’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Whether you are just starting your strategy or think you are well down the path, you can use this eBook to:

  • Engage your team
  • Stimulate fresh thinking
  • Make sure your strategy is addressing typically overlooked opportunities and threats

Written simply and directly with a focus on enlivening one of the most familiar strategic thinking exercises, “Reimagining the SWOT Analysis” will be a go-to resource for stronger strategic insights!
Download Your FREE eBook! 11 Ways to Reimagine Your SWOT Analysis

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

0

“You need to train people for their next jobs, not the ones they’re in right now.”

A participant shared that in an experience strategy workshop. 

His comment got me thinking: How much of what we do is based around right now, when it REALLY should be oriented toward getting ready for whatever is next?

The next . . . 

While you want to importantly make sure what’s going on right now is working well, you HAVE to carve off investment resources (focus, time, money, effort) to make sure you are ready for whatever is next.

Look at where you are giving your attention and other investment resources. Are they setting you up for future success? Or are they merely keeping you paddling in place for right now?

Depending on the answer, an Idea Magnet realizes you may need to make a big change to ever make progress. And that change starts right now!  – Mike Brown

Order Idea Magnets

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

0

So far, 2018 has been a year of so much progress…along with a sizable dose of healthy frustration. Progress, in that we’re pushing multiple new brands (including Idea Magnets) to market. Frustration, because it’s 2018 and not 2011 or 2012, at the latest.

Here is the ultra-honest admission: I didn’t have all the business model stuff and entrepreneurial lessons figured out when I started The Brainzooming Group.

While I’d spent TONS of time and effort on developing our methodology, I thought all the people who told me that they wanted to work with me when I left the corporate world would come running to work with Brainzooming. The rest would be history.

I was wrong.

It’s taken until this year to feel like we’re putting important parts of the business model in place, and while that’s great and all, I wish it had happened years ago. Unfortunately, it turns out that it’s entirely possible you might start getting all your ducks (or even just a few important basics) in a row AFTER you’ve jumped into the entrepreneurial pool with both feet.

And, you know, if you keep surviving to do business another day, maybe it’s okay if you don’t have the entire business model solved immediately.

5 Entrepreneurial Lessons I Wish I’d Figured Out Earlier

While I usually save my entrepreneurial lessons for an annual-ish article, here’s a head start on what I’ve learned during the last year about the best advice people have shared with me that I wish I’d fully grasped before starting Brainzooming :

  1. The best advice? You have to find opportunities for leverage in your business. Without this type of opportunity, no one will want to invest in it. Without this type of opportunity, YOU should question your own investment in your own business.
  2. The next-best advice? Figure out what you can sell to all the visitors to your website that fall outside the target for your main business. Someone pointed out this incredible truism in 2012 or 2013. We’re only now starting to capitalize on it.
  3. The best advice after that? You need to have products to sell globally if you hope to generate revenue when you sleep (or even just sit on your ass and do nothing at some point in your life).
  4. Then? If you’re ultimately going to have something to sell to everyone that comes to your website, you need to engage and reach out to them along the way. It’s a mistake to overlook them until you have products ready for them. Find early opportunities to deliver value to them.
  5. Finally? Build your database EARLY. Spend time with your database. Continually explore and learn new ways for your database to shape and grow your business.

Looking at this list, it seems to comprise mainly things that I, as a marketer, should have instinctively known.

Alas, it’s taken time. And there’s still more learning ahead.

I just wanted those of you who more recently made the jump to the entrepreneurial life (and those of you in corporate life who think it sounds great to be your own boss), to know that you don’t have to know everything at once.

Despite what all the gurus say: it takes time, my friend. It takes time to learn the entrepreneurial lessons. – Mike Brown

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

 

Order Idea Magnets

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

0

We can all use a butt kicking occasionally that provides a wake up call to dramatically improve our own confidence levels and performance.

I got one of those butt kickings last Tuesday morning via an opening keynote presentation by Amber Selking, PhD, at the International Thermprocess Summit. Dr. Selking is a Performance Consultant who focuses on “Building Championship Mindsets.”

It feels like I’ve been running on fumes for weeks (months?), and I was in Atlanta on too little sleep to close out the conference that afternoon with a talk on transitioning businesses and their intellectual capital from one generation of Idea Magnets to the next. Before the Tuesday session opened, I took a seat at the very back table, hoping to strike a balance between conserving energy, walking through the slides in this new talk, and identifying ideas and themes from other speakers’ talks to weave into the closing.Order Idea Magnets
That’s when Amber brought the message, the energy, and the call-to action that made everyone stop and think about what they are personally doing to improve themselves and their teams. Everyone walked away with a new and improved mindset.

I told her later how her talk challenged and scared me.  As I sat there needing to deliver the same energy and passion as Dr. Selking brought to her talk, I feared there was noooooooo waaaaayyyyyyy I could muster half of the enthusiasm she did. At one point later in the morning, I returned to my room to get my stuff and wondered aloud WHAT I was going to do in the next two hours to energize myself.

My concerns were heightened when the conference organizer told me right before I started my talk that she was looking for me to deliver the same impact as Amber had earlier in the day.

I guess Dr. Selking’s message really did land with me, because I found much more energy than I’d had that morning. The closing talk was interactive, had some fun moments, and challenged the audience to return home and make room for millennials to actively engage in sharing and learning new and conventional knowledge to take their companies forward.

Enough about me. Amber Selking, PhD has a podcast you need to check out, and a TEDx Talk that will give you a sense of the impact of her message.

Go find out about Amber Selking, PhD. She’s an Idea Magnet!

Order Your Copy of Idea Magnets TODAY!

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading