Friday, October 12, 2012

Customer Experience Lessons from the Space Jump

Image courtesy of Kansir
Have you been following the story about the incredible space jump that Felix Baumgartner is about to make? It was supposed to happen earlier this week but was delayed until Sunday due to weather conditions (namely, wind). It's an insane stunt! And the details are fascinating! 

OK. I'm not here to write about the jump, although I could read and watch videos about it all day! No. I'm going to share some customer experience lessons from this daredevil's mission!

Buckle up. It's going to be a crazy ride! Let's dive in, shall we? (Yea, bad pun intended.)

Have a goal. Define it. Make sure everyone knows the goal. Communicate it. Live it. Breathe it. You know what the goal is: deliver the best end-to-end customer experience, better than your competition.

Focus. Intense focus. Everything you do is in the interest of achieving that goal. Don't just say you're customer-focused. Show it. In the way you treat your employees, treat your customers, design your products, lead your business, hire people, etc.

Relentless, never-ending training. If you want your employees to be successful, if you want them to know what to do when they encounter specific situations with customers, then teach them how to handle those situations. Role play. Make sure employees know your products well. And as the business changes and evolves, so must the training.

Careful, detailed preparation. This goes hand in hand with training, to some degree. The more prepared your employees are, the better they'll be able to handle any situations thrown their way. Have a plan, a roadmap. The more you plan, the better the experience will likely be.

Contingency planning. Have a plan for when things don't go as expected.

Take a test jump. Or two. Test your products for quality and usability. With your customers. Before the products go to market.

Solid, accurate data. The importance of good data, the right data, at your fingertips is critical to making decisions that are right for your customers. Having that data at the right time allows you to make smart decisions in the moment. Making sure everyone, across channels and functional teams, has the same data makes for a much better experience.

Research is extremely helpful. Do your homework. Know your customers.

Timing. Ensuring that the right data is in the right hands at the right time is essential to delivering a great customer experience. And to making that jump.

Abort when conditions aren't right. You know if it's the right time to release a product. You know if you're using the right approach to designing the customer experience. If it doesn't work for your customers, abort and start over. Find a better time, a better way.

The right equipment. Of course, you'll need the right tools to facilitate getting that data where it needs to go and to delivering that great experience. And employees will need the right tools to do their jobs.

Patience. When all else fails, patience truly is a virtue. And an important one. Working with customers can be as challenging as waiting for the right wind conditions! Take a deep breath and do the right thing.

Teamwork. Your employees must work as a team toward a common goal. They must support each other in their efforts to support the customer. Make sure they are all talking to each other.

Supporting staff. Those unsung heroes, the ones that make things happen behind the scenes, are critical to the success of any mission.

Trust. Trust your team. Trust that you have the right people on board to support you through your mission.

Know your space. Understand the marketplace, your competitors, the needs of prospects and customers. Everything going on around you.

Risks and rewards. Take risks. Do what it takes to set yourself apart from the competition. And remember: the greater the risk, the greater the reward.

Instill confidence. Leaders instill confidence in their employees, which in turn, through the experiences they deliver, cause customers to gain confidence in the brand/organization. There is no trust without confidence, and trust is the precursor to loyalty and engagement. Felix says, "I will land safely" with such conviction that I have no doubt he will.

Be passionate! You should watch some of the videos about this mission; you will see just how passionate Felix is about this jump and about being the best of the best. Stoke the passion in your employees. Hire the right employees, the ones who are passionate about your brand.

The air is where I am at home. -Felix Baumgartner

Push the limits. Don't be happy with the status quo. If your business is stagnant, if your customers are not happy, it's time to take a different approach. Innovate.

Do the unexpected. Everyone loves the little unexpected extras. Make them part of your customer experience.

Learn from others who've gone before you. Take what's been done before and do it better. Felix is not the first person to make a jump like this. If he is successful, though, he will be the first person to make the jump at this height/distance, and he will break four world records. Way back in 1960, Joseph Kittinger made the jump from 102,800 feet. (Felix will jump at 120,000 feet, or 23 miles!) Kittinger is still the world record holder. For a few more days. He is part of Team Red Bull Stratos and has been advising Felix on this jump.

Communication. Joseph Kittinger is Felix's biggest supporter and will be the only person talking to him by radio during the jump. This communication is likely critical for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is to keep him calm and focused. I don't think any of us can question the importance of communication with both customers and employees.

Measure your vital signs. Keep track of the health of the organization at all times. Find your metrics and track them closely. Don't focus on the score; focus on the experience. But pay attention to what your vitals are telling you.

Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith. I prefer the tried and true method, but occasionally you just need to make things happen without waiting for someone to give you permission or without the data to support what you want to do. Sometimes you truly can anticipate the needs of your customers. And sometimes, if you just let your employees do what needs to be done, great experiences can happen.

It's a journey. The jump has been several years in the making. The actual trip will be much faster! And yes, the customer experience is a journey, as well. It's years in the making, and it's constantly evolving. So will space travel. Not only will this jump be a world record breaking attempt, it will also provide research that will be used for years to come to develop space suits, space travel, etc.

And finally, remember this. While the climb to the top (or to the edge of space) might be a long journey, freefalling back down happens much faster! Enjoy the journey! Make it a good one. And don't get too close to the edge... while Felix might be up for the freefall, I know your organization is not!

Today's final quote comes from Jordan Belfort but was certainly inspirational for Felix...


Update (10/14): Congratulations, Felix, on an amazing jump, for achieving your goals, and for breaking some records!  I sat riveted for two hours, watching the ascent and then the jump. You've inspired a lot of people to just go for it!

It's a historic day for aerospace, as 65 years ago today, Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in an experimental rocket plane.

4 comments:

  1. Nice post Annette. Patience is really the key in an audacious goals to achieve great success and its due process.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for reading and for your comment. Glad you enjoyed the post. I couldn't agree more.

      Annette :-)

      Delete
  2. Good one!! I love your post, and the quote at the end of it is just mindblowing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks... glad you enjoyed. I love that quote, too!

      Annette :-)

      Delete