Stories that WOW!
Create your manuals, policies, rules and regulations through stories.
Stories that WOW!
We want you. Drop your contact in the comment box.
Do you know the cartoon Tom Sawyer? Have you ever watched "The Adventure of Tom Sawyer"?
Well, if you are as young as me, you probably might have watched it in your childhood.
"The Adventure of Tom Sawyer" is a 1876 novel by Mark Twain about a young boy growing up along the Mississippi River. Tom Sawyer lived with his Aunt Polly and his half-brother, Sid.
I don't know why he stays with his Aunt and not his parents. I think the cartoon did not mention anything about it. It didn't even crossed my mind why and never ask where's his parents. Or maybe I did. But it wasn't weird to me.
I remember Tom Sawyer is always up to some fun and mischiefs. He would sneak out of his room at night. He made mistakes, screwed up and laugh it off. He dreams and he has dreams. He is happy and always having an adventure every day. Every day is filled with excitement and anticipation.
As we grow up, we stop dreaming. We become afraid to make mistakes. We do our best not to screw up the whole systems and our lives. There's safety in stability. We stop living our lives as an adventure.
And we become unhappy, constraint
"The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get old ones out."
"Innovation was not so much having a new idea as stopping having an old idea."
Two men were talking about a BIG mistake that happened during budgeting.
The lady in charge of plucking in all the figures for next year's budget has missed out in including the budgets for two projects, one of which amount to almost half a million dollar.
The mistake was found out by a staff in the Finance department responsible for approval of the budget.
And it was found out by ACCIDENT.
Apparently, this particular person happened to scroll through the list of hundreds of projects on the Excel sheets out of no particular reason and saw the ZERO figures by CHANCE.
Without saying, the lady responsible for completing the budget is in BIG BIG trouble.
But what if...?
What if the staff in the Finance department did not scroll through the Excel sheets? What if she scrolled through the Excel sheets but did not see the ZEROs?
One of the man said they have hundreds of projects and all the formulas are linked in the Excel sheets. It's impossible to go through everything and know that there's a mistake just by looking at the summary. And half a million difference looks small in a budget of tens of millions.
It could be the lady's mistake or oversight that she did not key in the figures. It could be that the company does not have a system in place, or if available, a more robust system to prevent or minimize human errors (for example, maybe the Excel file cannot be saved if there's any zeros in the budget column).
But what is the real issue here?
While it is the responsibility of the lady to ensure the figures are correct, does it mean that Finance department can just approve the budget blindly? After all, they are ONLY responsible of approval. The responsibility to ensure the figures are correct does not lie with them.
Or the Finance department just assume that figures have been checked? Or they have no time to do it? Or doing it means that they do not trust the lady?
But aren't the Finance person, at the very least, curious how much different the total budget will be compared to the previous one? Is there any increase? If so, by how much? If not, why? And if there's a decrease, what's the reason?
It's not just an issue of the lady's carelessness.
It's not just an issue of not having system in place.
It's not just an issue of who's responsible for what.
It's not just an issue of making assumption.
It's not just an issue o
It's an issue of people who are no longer interested in what they are doing.
It's also an issue of people becoming too familiar with their work that they are no longer curious.
Do something not related to work for one hour.
Painting, handicraft, gardening...
Last thursday, I attended a private event by a cosmetic brand in a lush hotel.
Seated with me on the same table was a guy who is in the events business.
He was sharing with us interesting encounters he had with clients. Things like how do they generate so many interesting ideas for their clients, especially for those with tight deadlines. What are the problems he faced with clients?
One thing he said left a particularly deep impression on me.
He said "Most banks are rather conservative."
How true that was.
If you look at how most banks are run, how they project themselves, how they advertise and market their products, you cannot see much differences. If you take away the brand, logo, uniform and corporate colors, you cannot tell if this service or products belongs to DBS, OCBC or Citibank.
Most companies play by the rule of the industry.
If another company is doing this, they'll make sure they do not deviate too much from what's safe. If they find a winning strategy, they'll stick with it. And if you're a competitor, you'll copy it. And if no one is doing it, let's be 100% sure it's safe before we do it. Or let's wait and see.
So when a bank gives out luggage for credit card sign-up, everyone does the same. When a bank offers 1-hour loan approval, another will follows.
And when every one is doing the same thing, how do the customers tell the difference?
Of course, there is nothing wrong being conservative. Customers definitely do not want the banks to take unnecessary risks that will jeopardize their savings and investment.
But that doesn't mean that they cannot be daring in other areas of their business.
Do you dare to take a stand? Do you dare to challenge your customers? Do you dare to be weird? Do you dare to go to the edge?
Your company is in serious danger.
Do something weird for your customers.
Turn all your forms into pieces of art.
Give the problem to a staff who does not has the solution.
Done anything weird recently?
Met any weird person recently?
Heard any weird idea recently?
Seen any weird things recently?
Your business partners are not your business partners.
I received a nice surprise last Friday.
A pair of free air tickets to Chiang Mai, Thailand for travel between 5 to 30 November 2013 in return for my participation in a contest.
Any dates I select will be subject to availability on a first come first serve basis. So I reckon there must be more than one winner.
I decided on the dates and emailed it to the person in charge.
While waiting for his confirmation, I went searching for hotels. Time is tight and it looks like many hotels are fully booked during the dates I've selected.
It's when I realized that the dates I've chosen coincides with the Loy Krathong festival.
My plan is to stay for 4 days in early or mid November as I've a trip coming up in early December to Bangkok. As this airline has limited flights to Chiang Mai, there's really not many other choices for me.
So I'm caught in a limbo.
Hotel choices are getting fewer and fewer each day I do not receive any reply from the airline.
Now, that sets me thinking.
Do you see your business as just as it is? Or do you see yourself a part of a bigger picture?
Do you see yourself as a dot? Or do you see how your dot connects to the other dots from your customer's point of view?
Tell them the WHAT you want them to do and leave the HOW to them.
I've been sharing some weird ideas on productivity on my blog.
Perhaps the government and businesses obsession with productivity in recent months has got the better of me. With all the news about tightening labor market and foreign talents issues. It's as if their eyes will brighten up in the dark night whenever the word productivity is mentioned.
But the more I think about the word productivity, the more I think about innovation.
Is productivity the results of innovation? Does innovation always leads to productivity?
You can improve productivity by improving on the existing processes. You can improve productivity by innovation. So improving productivity is not necessary the results of innovation.
Innovation can leads to higher productivity as you find new ways of doing things. Innovation can also leads to productivity being totally redundant as you reinvent the whole industry. The problem happens when people start labeling improvement as innovation.
Now, back to the posts of ideas that I shared on productivity. Replace them with innovation and see these ideas in a new light.
Another innovative idea today is
ASK EVERY STAFF TO BRING ONE OF THEIR FAVORITE TOYS TO
It's another five weeks before my next trip to Bangkok.
This time round, there'll be eight of us. My biggest group tour ever.
I was thinking whether to get a cabin luggage for my mom as there's not enough for all of us. Then I remembered some banks are giving out free luggage for credit card signup.
Aha! Free cabin luggage.
So I went to find out which banks are offering this. There are two banks I saw having the same promotion. However, their promotion is only for NEW sign up. As I'm already an existing credit card holder of OCBC and Citibank, I do not qualify.
One day, while my cousin was doing grocery shopping in his neighborhood, he saw a roadshow by CIMB bank giving free luggage for credit card sign up. He signed up on the spot so he could get the luggage for me. He also took a form for my sister.
After two weeks, the representative at the roadshow called up my cousin and told him that his application was declined. Apparently, my cousin has applied for their credit card previously but never activated it at all. According to the rep, since my cousin is an existing credit card customer of the bank, he does not qualify for the promotion which is only for NEW sign up. My cousin has forgotten about his previous application totally.
Isn't it interesting?
Although my cousin has applied for their credit card previously, he did not activate it. So does it make him an existing customer? If you are talking solely about record, then yes, he is an existing customer. But if a customer signed up for your service but have never used it at all, do you still consider him an existing customer? If you define existing customer as one who is active in your record, then he does not qualify.
But we are not going to say whether should he be considered an existing customer or not. Banks have their own sets of terms and conditions.
What we want to talk about how new and existing customers are being treated.
How often do you find that the company you are giving money to runs an attractive promotion to attract new customers, which you do not qualify as an existing customer?
My guess is that it's very often.
See that promotion for that phone at a special price? Sorry it's for new sign up only. I remember there was once my broadband contract with StarHub (a telco company in Singapore) has expired and there was a special promotion. As I'm already an existing customer, I do not qualify. And I ended up canceling my current contract and re-apply as a new customer so I could enjoy this special promotion.
While most companies do have other promotions for existing customers, it does not make sense that existing customers cannot enjoy new customer promotion.
And why the hell makes existing customers pay penalty for recontracting their contract six months before expiry? Can't the telco companies arrange to start the renewal contract after the existing one expires?
Which is cheaper? Getting new customers or keeping existing ones?
Which is more expensive? Getting new customers or losing existing ones?
Now back to the credit card issue. Instead of rejecting my cousin's application, what could the bank do?
Why not request my cousin to activate the card he applied previously and use it to make three transactions? After all, in order to qualify for the cabin luggage, a new sign up needs to make three transactions of any amount on the card. Instead of making three transaction, can they request him to make six or maybe $100 amount as his is a special case?
It's not so much about how much processing fee the bank could earn from these transactions. But rather the total experience. The bank has invested in printing the forms, setting up roadshow, paying the salaries and staff processing credit card and other admin charges. And they wasted all these just because of the reason that my cousin is an existing customer, which he has obviously forgotten about it.
They have a perfect opportunity to create a Wow experience and start a relationship. Instead of doing it, they rather throw away the chance.
Could it be possible that my cousin will starts using their credit card for future transactions and promotions offers by the bank after the three transactions? I do not know. But I can be sure that he will never use the credit card in the future after what happened. He has no lack of credit cards to use.
For the rest of the banks out there, don't laugh. You are no better than CIMB.
You can treat all your customers differently. But don't treat anyone worse off than another.
P.S. You may think that I'm ranting because I did not get the luggage. That may be true. But what's more important is are you making the same mistake?
P.P.S. There was some dining offers that came with the CIMB credit card my sister applied and there's one that I would be interested to try one of the restaurant for their 1-for-1 promotion. But unfortunately, I'm not going to give my business to them. I'll just find out of that restaurant has any other credit card promotion. If none, I'll just go to another restaurant. Easy as that.
P.P.P.S. There's no lack of choices.
That customers are all eager waiting to spend money with you.
There is a fruit stall in a food court within the central business district in Singapore.
It sells one of the best avocado juice around this area. Creamy, fresh and full of flavor for just $3.50. Every time I'm here, I'll get this juice and not the other juices.
I had lunch there yesterday and bought the juice. It's almost three months since I was here the last time. Sadly, the juice did not taste the same anymore.
No taste of avocado and diluted.
Must be another cost cutting measure by the owner.
My cousin turned to me and said "Can don't drink the avocado juice anymore."
Running a business is very difficult. When times are hard and costs are rising, there's a tendency for us to cut costs to survive and to maintain the profit margin.
But what's more expensive is finding new customers and preventing the loss of existing ones.
I was thinking about how am I going to show this advertisement to you.
Should I show the part on the left and make you guess what this ad is about, before showing the right portion? Or should I do it the reverse way?
Without saying, the left portion caught my attention with its red color and BIG font.
The minute I read this ad, the first thing I thought of is an ad offering a solution to the problem. I looked to the right and realized that it's a campaign to help fight poverty.
Now, who do you think are the people most likely to notice this ad?
No prize for the correct answer.
But isn't the fight against poverty for everyone who has the ability?
And if a mother or father (most likely mother here) is facing the dilemma of deciding on an enrichment course, do you think she or he is going to bother about those poor people's children not able to attend enrichment course? Not that they do not have sympathy, but that is not the most important issue in their life at that moment. They are only concerned about how to decide on an enrichment course for their kids. Period!
What's worse, they are requesting these people to log on to a website to find out more. How many troubled parents are likely to do so?