The book "The Connected Company" by Dave Gray with Thomas Vander Wal provides an excellent road map for companies to become “connected.” By connected they mean can a company provide a service to a customer the way he wants it, expects it and has a satisfying experience so he keeps coming back and tells others about his good experience, or will that same customer, if he has a bad experience, informs his social network about it so they don’t have a similar bad experience with a particular company? Companies face this situation every day in that every experience counts.
Companies need to know very quickly what is working well and keep working on improving the overall experience and also know very quickly what is not working well and correct it quickly before it starts losing customers. Things have gotten real tough for companies that are measured on how well they provide service. Since we are a service economy now, it applies to all the companies today.
But all is not lost. To survive and thrive, a company must become a connected company; however, being connected is not that quick and easy. It will take time, but companies have to get started soon. As the book proposes that being connected today is no longer a nicety, but a necessity.
Things are moving fast, so companies can no longer take the wait and see attitude. The book points out that there are three forces that are making this inevitable: rapid change in technology, global competition and complexity. The authors state that “taken together, these three change forces create a highly volatile, uncertain environment, where advantages are short-lived and the competitive landscape is constantly shifting.”
I was recently reminded of this from a relative, who is a doctor working for a mid-size health care provider. He was upset when he saw a negative review of a good service he thought he had provided to a patient. The patient complained on social media about charges that had nothing to do with the service my relative had provided. My relative didn't particularly liked being labelled as a greedy doctor. I told him that today you need to provide good service to the patient before, during and after. Providing good service from your point of view is no longer enough. The patient has to feel it from her point of view from start to finish. He expressed concern about this change of doing more work, to which I had to crudely remind him with, “Welcome to the NFL!” He didn’t like it, but I think he got it on what being connected is all about.
One of the interesting point that the authors make in the book is that in order to satisfy a customer as an individual, it can only be done effectively by an individual at the front line who is empowered to make it happen quickly and satisfactorily. Companies that are well connected can repeat this again and again. To accomplish this requires the following: utilization of the latest technology, innovation in management and empowerment of front line employees who are innovative, creative and passionate. To put a twist on the famous quote by the legendary football coach of Green Bay Packers Vince Lombardi, being connected is not a one day thing, but an everyday thing.
The authors have done an excellent job in writing this book that I feel is relevant, well-researched, well-written, well-organized, readable, comprehensive, yet not too exhaustive for those who are pressed for time. I recommend everyone read this book so we can all have an intelligent conversations both internally and externally in ways to create a connected company and culture to satisfy customers since, as the book asserts right from the start, they now occupy the most important seat at the corporate table.
Jay Oza is a founder and principal innovation development consultant at 5ToolGroup, a company that specializes in helping startups and established firms bring innovation to market within 90 days through our unique 5Tool Methodology that integrates sales, marketing, partnerships, customer development and agile/lean methodology to enable frugal or ("Jugaad") innovation. We believe that to succeed today, you have to continuously look for ways to do lot more with lot less. This is the only way to win today!