Saturday, June 2, 2012

7 Ways to Tell If a Company is Really Stupid

Our whole economy is changing radically because of disruptive forces like digital sensors and the spread of the Web from computer screens to the physical world. Stupid companies mistakenly think they can get away with the same old sullen and slow approach.

Retail experts Bruce Kasanoff and Michael Hinshaw detail this phenomenon in their new book, Smart Customers (Stupid Companies): Why Only Intelligent Companies Will Thrive, and How to Be One of Them (Business Strategy Press, May 2012, $24.95).

Here are seven tip-offs that a company is hopelessly stuck in the past, as written by Kasanoff:

1. Two employees in a row ask for your account number. Any company that can't figure out how to pass your account number from one representative to another certainly won't be able to deliver innovative service.

2. No one remembers what you say. Ever get the sense that the customer service rep or sales clerk is only listening to you with one ear? Does it occur to you that she has no way to record or share your comments? Why waste your breath talking to a firm that's too stupid to remember what you say?

3. The company spends more money selling than serving. A $300 million ad campaign is a sure sign that a company is convincing you that sugar water is good for you, or some equally absurd argument.

4. Their products come with instructions longer than a postcard. Sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, said science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke. A toddler can figure out how to use an iPad, because doing so is intuitive. A product that needs lengthy instructions isn't worth your money.

5. They close, ever. I'm not talking about a cute little standalone gift shop. But if a 5,000-person company can't figure out how to help you solve a problem at 2 am, they don't understand that 24/7 wireless access means "always open."

6. They hunt you like prey. Pretty soon, firms will be able to track you everywhere, even inside your own home. With great power comes great responsibility; a smart firm remembers information for customers, not about them.

7. They don't even know how to spell "personalization," never mind practice it. Smart companies have figured out how to deliver personal service for the same price as mass-produced products. By the way, personalization is the reason you won't give your wife your cell phone when she loses hers.

Disclosure: I did not receive any products nor was paid for this post. I was provided info from the PR firm to share. Any expressed opinions are my own and personal thoughts. No other compensation was given.

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