Chip R. Bell: Innovate, Don’t Imitate

“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” Charlie “Tremendous” Jones

Intent on learning how to “Deliver The World’s Best Customer Experience”, I have read more books by Chip R. Bell than any other author. Several of his 24 customer service books that I highly recommend include “Kaleidoscope: Delivering Innovative Service That Sparkles,” “Sprinkles: Creating Awesome Experiences Through Innovative Service,” “The 9 1/2 Principles of Innovative Service,” “Take Their Breath Away” (with John Patterson), and  “Managing Knock Your Socks Off Service” (with Ron Zemke). Chip’s newest book, “Inside Your Customer’s Imagination: 5 Secrets to Creating Breakthrough Products, Services, and Solutions,” launched this week.

 So I am so very honored to share his insight here. Learn more about Chip and his newest book at the end of his post.

The concept of best practices has been a mainstay in industry for a long time.  Typically, it has been a siren’s call for leaders to flock to the feet of a renowned exemplar in search of practices they could duplicate and methods they could replicate.  For the company on the pedestal it was no doubt an ego thrill.  After all, in the words of Charles Colton, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

There have been many lessons learned from best practices studies that resulted in improvement.  Some organizations learned what not to do; some learned their own ways were better.  And, some shamelessly copied without logic.  For example, a pianist at a baby grand like the ones in the early Nordstrom stores begin appearing in places a piano seemed out of place.  Customer service did not improve, it just sounded prettier!  These mimics embraced the service symbol and missed the point!

There is a dark side to searching for facsimiles.  They bypass the creativity of all employees, especially the insights of those that interface with customers.  Why not innovate instead of imitating?  If customers and employees are given clear direction and free reign, they can be as inventive as Apple and as entrepreneurial as Virgin Air.  If they experience their ideas are valued…even those that do not always work…they will remain on the hunt for novel ways to serve.  Set your employees free and enjoy their gifts!  Reach out to your customers for their ideas, not just their feedback, and benefit from their brilliance.

 

Chip R. Bell is a senior partner of the Chip Bell Group. For the sixth year in a row, Global Gurus in 2020 ranked him one of the top three keynote speakers in the world on customer service. Bell has appeared on CNBC, CNN, Fox Business, Bloomberg TV, ABC, CBS, and NPR, and his work has been featured in Fortune, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, USA Today, SuccessBusinessweek, Entrepreneur, Money, and Fast Company. He is a regular columnist for Forbes.com, MoneyInc.com, CEOWORLD Magazine, Real Leaders, and TheCEOMagazine.com.

 

Inside Your Customer’s Imagination

Organizations need to offer customers breakthrough products, services, and solutions to effectively compete in today’s innovation-hungry economy. The challenge is customers often don’t know precisely what they want. As Henry Ford is reputed to have said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

To surprise and awe your customers, Chip Bell advises developing co-creation partnerships with them. Co-creation partnerships are about fulfilling customers’ hopes and aspirations, not just their needs and expectations. Co-creation partnerships require (1) curiosity that uncovers insight, (2) grounding that promotes clear focus, (3) discovery that fosters risk-taking, (4) trust that safeguards partnership purity, and (5) passion that inspires energized generosity.

 Using examples from organizations like McDonald’s, DHL, Marriott, Lockheed Martin, Discover Financial, Ultimate Software, and many more, Bell shows how co-creation partnerships enable you to tap into the treasure trove of ideas, ingenuity, and genius-in-the-raw within every customer.

 

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