Experiences should make you smile not frown…..

Congratulations to Activia, rather like my earlier post about Tiptree jams using their jam pot lids to add something to your day, they have invested in messages on the inside of there yogurt pot lids.

I always wonder how this Board room conversations goes when someone wants to invest in something that could be seen as frivolous and perhaps an ‘avoidable cost’ and yet it adds a certain something to the brand and the “experience” of something as basic as eating a yogurt.

Once again this, rather like the sign off on the lid below, made me smile..it was only for a moment but the world does feel a lot better when you are smiling and the association, however sub-conscious it might be, ticks my box 🙂


ps it takes a lot less effort to smile than frown, try it and see,,,


When recycling can damage your experience….

On a trip to South Africa I had the joy of staying at the Winston Hotel in Jo’burg, a really quirky and fun hotel a mix of boho chic and old fashioned hotel.

There I was having a lovely breakfast in the open-air atrium area, nice crockery, pristine napkins and then I spotted the marmalade jar in the picture.

Now please understand that I am all in favour of recycling in this throw away world we live in.  As a small aside I do find it vaguely amusing that some restaurants insist on using refillable water bottles rather than a jug to make it look like they are serving you ‘bottled water’!!

Perhaps it was the stark contrast with the nice shiny, unopened jar of strawberry jam on the same plate that made this stand out for the wrong reasons!  This was taking it a little too far, were the contents as old and knackered as the jar… it was only a detail but it had a negative impact on how I felt about the breakfast and to some small extent the hotel.  This is another example of my recurring theme that it in the world of customer experience it is ‘the little things that count’….that said I would still recommend it as a lovely escape from the stereotypical big hotels chain experiences of today 😉

Marmalade gone wrong


How the British Open golf is thinking differently…..

As promised I am maintaining the theme of sport and experience and how by thinking from the customer perspective you can address a ‘business’ issue.  In this case the participation levels in golf have been falling and that means they need to attract more young people.

What do under 24 year olds need, accommodation that they won’t be able to afford that because the local hotels close to any tournament put their rates up sky high to profit/’eer’ from the event…. and access to the Tournament at a sensible price.

The event organisers and the governing body of the sport would appear to have co-operated to meet those twin needs and in doing so encourage more visits to the Tournament and thereby promote the sport.

How did that do it well they started to think differently and for a relatively small investment they secured a site near to the venue, walking distance, enough space to hold 500 under 25’s (that is the age limit) in 2/3/4 man tents all provided pitched and ready to be used FOR FREE for each of the 4 days of the event – tickets are just £30 for up to 21 year olds.  Even AirBnb was more expensive!

To extend the experience there is a golf chipping competition, a football pitch in the middle of the camp site and an indoor bar for food and drinks.

Of course the did not have to do this it needed to be imagined and then invested in to make it a reality – one that has also garnered many column inches of media coverage for free too.

Well done golf !!! 🙂


How sport proves thinking differently drives success….

For those of you interested in sport I am going to talk about how we can draw inspiration in terms of thinking differently with a couple of current examples over the next couple of blogs.

First the Tour De France an epic three week race across the countryside and mountains of France is in full swing.  The leading riders compete for the Yellow Jersey worn by the man that takes the least time to complete the race.

Chris Froome has won this race before and as I write this he leads again.  This lead has been created by thinking differently.  Twice in the past 4 days he has surprised his opposition by not doing what they expected.

First at the end of a tough climb just before the finish of a stage and as his close competitors relaxed given he had not as he usually does pushed them hard on the climb and broken away and safe in the knowledge they would all play by the unwritten rules and coast to the finish together – they took drinks sat back, then suddenly just as they crested the summit Froome was off …he was sprinting downhill to the finish.  No one expected this to happen and he pulled away before they could react.

Yesterday he did the same thing only this time on a flat stage where traditionally as the Leader he would sit in the pack and protect his lead on a relatively easy stage, just a few limiters form the finish that is exactly what was happening …suddenly he was part of a four man breakaway sprinting for the line – again everyone was taken by surprise had no time to react and he has taken another 12 seconds.

When you think differently in business you have the opportunity to both surprise and confuse your competitors and to create real advantage whether short term or long term.  How could you act differently and surprise your customers and/or competitors?


What happens when teams don’t work together….:((

I have no problem with business silos, people of like skill sets sitting together often makes sense and if you just rename them as Centres of Excellence the feelings are very different.  See who language creates a mental picture that defines how we view something!  The problem is the need to have open channels of communication and the need to be able to communicate and collaborate for the benefit of the customer if missed and sub-optimal experiences and ultimately  business performance result.

Consider this simple example of internal barriers stopping simple improvements.

I was in a hotel (I have been in a lot over the years) and arrived late into my very nice room.  Now this had a small bar area complete with glasses and drinks you get the picture…what I actually wanted was a cup of tea (how very English) and I found the tea bags but could not find a cup.  I opened all the cupboards and drawers to no avail, at that time of my journey now 15 hours in I was beginning to hallucinate and in the end believed that actually this was such a trendy hotel that I was supposed to use a glass….great plan except that hot drinks and glasses are a tricky combination.

Next morning I awoke and decided to just check again and as I went through the drawers I heard a slight rattle and on investigation found the offending cups lurking in the deepest recesses of the drawer, hidden behind the plate of shortbread.

As I had stayed at the hotel before and got to know the Bar Manager (can’t imagine how that happened) I mentioned this to him and asked that perhaps they could put cups visible in future perhaps at the front of the drawer.  He assured me he would speak to House Keeping as it was not his department.  Over the next couple of days nothing changed so I approached my friendly Bar Manager again and he rather apologetically advised that as it was not their idea the House Keeping team refused to change the ‘process’ and it was now with more senior managers to debate,,,,you’ve guessed it nothing happened.

What was a simple improvement that would have benefited my fellow travellers never saw the light of day because of a ‘not invented here’ view between one team and another.  Of course I would have approached the House Keeping Manager in the first place but they are a bit like the scarlet pimpernel you can never find one when you need one 🙁



When small data is king…it generates an experience…..

Maslow Welcome

This picture was taken in my room at the Maslow hotel in Johannesburg, the back story is that I have spent many nights there as it sits directly opposite the offices of Nedbank – a client in South Africa.

The system registers my stays and even though I had not been back to the hotel for nearly a year the personalised greeting still arrived.  It is of course unlikely that an individual could have managed that feat of memory.

The point though is that the single piece of data (number of nights stayed)  only has value IF the company that holds it chooses to act on it.

The question to ask yourself is simple what data in your business is actually triggering actions versus being stored for eternity in the virtual warehouse in the sky – and of course you are paying to keep it ‘just in case’ 😉

p.s. notice my name has been handwritten on the card, the human touch…


Taxi transfer or mobile salon….

Taxi with everything

Here is an example of a Taxi firm thinking about how to make their experience stand out – the centre console has been filled with a range of ‘essentials’ for your 30 minute airport transfer from hand cream to deodorant…!  Not sure quite how they came to make the selection of what should be there personally I found the water the best bit 🙂

The point is that the company has thought about making the journey more memorable for the passenger by enhancing the experience from a drive in a car to a full wash and brush up which might be incredibly useful if you are coming off a red eye flight and rushing to a meeting or maybe meeting long lost loved ones 😉  I applaud the thinking!!



How not to design your Reception, the vital first point of contact…..

Continuing my theme of business Reception areas, one test I try is to sit in the chairs and see what you can see, it is quite nice to be able to see the Receptionist, that human face who might even smile at you at some point and for them to see that they still have people waiting.

The pictures below are an example of the triumph of design over experience, I am sure the desk looked great on the plans but I suspect that they didn’t get a sense of the height  – or at least I hope they didn’t!  So the Receptionist actually has to stand up and emerge from her bunker to engage a customer. At all other times it looks like the desk is unmanned and you are sitting in an empty space which in this case was a little disconcerting and not at all welcoming 🙁

The direct business consequence, as this was in fact the Reception for some shared office space to rent that I was looking at using, was they did not get the business as I could not imagine my clients being welcomed in this way.

So this is like a magic trick now you see me now you don’t!


Now you don't

Now you see me..

First impressions count how is your reception area looking…

Popular leaflets run out..

Whenever I visit a new company it is always fascinating to see how the whole Reception process happens, how much thought has gone in to how someone is able to find the offices, park, be welcomed and greeted.  This extent to the whole look and feel of the Reception it can say so much about the tone and feel of the Company and certainly creates an early impression whether positive or negative.  I remember the Reception of a high tech laboratory equipment manufacturer where the whole look and feel reminded me of funeral parlour….

In the case of this European telco featured in the picture the Reception was quite funky, look at the chair design and colour, there was a lot of concrete in a ‘brutalist’ feel in terms of the architecture, it was big, airy but where the human component entered it fell over.

Look at the leaflet stand by the pillar…yes it is empty the Reception staff are sitting  a few feet away but seem not to have noticed, how many other members of staff and Directors have walked on by, that is the cultural point.

As with a lot of my blog posts this may seem a small detail but it is the cumulative impact of these that creates a view of what the company is actually like, what would it take to either remove the empty stand or fill it up, yep you guessed it no cost just the ‘eyes on’ of staff to do something about it….attention to detail!

# thinkdifferently