leadership dot #2726: seem seamless

As I redeemed an iTunes gift card, I stopped for a moment to marvel at what I had just accomplished.

  • Purchased a card at a store not affiliated with Apple.
  • Paid without exchanging any cash.
  • Brought it home and held the code up to a camera on my computer.
  • Instantly, my account was credited with funds.
  • Immediately I could play new music purchased in the computer transaction.
  • And also automatically hear the new music played on my phone.

In reality, buying and redeeming an iTunes card has become old-school and soon will be replaced by 100% streaming, but I still am astonished at the technology that drives it. The thought of such a process was inconceivable when I first started buying music – there were not gift cards, computers, cameras built-in to computers, iTunes, iPhones or wireless (and I’m not that old!)

The next time you make a transaction that seems seamless, pause for a moment to consider all the components that went into making the system possible. Are there pieces of the journey that you could adapt for your organization? As in this example, could you utilize the camera function more than you are? Partner with outside entities to promote or sell your product? Utilize gift cards for services and not just products? Store balances to make future purchases seem “free” and therefore easier to make?

It is a paradox that the easier a system or process appears, it’s likely the more complex it actually is. You’ll know you’ve arrived when, like the iTunes card, your miraculous seems routine.


leadership dot #2725: survey

Lucky me – I was “chosen” to represent people who purchased a new car and asked by MaritzCX to complete a consumer survey that will help manufacturer decision-making for future models. The problem is that this form is more like an inquisition than a survey.

The booklet is 10-pages long. It contains 66 distinct questions, which understates the number of queries actually being asked. One question literally fills a page in a teeny-tiny font (see photo) – asking for a 5-point rating on 76 different items. Another question has 68 different parts and many are disguised as part a, b, c although they are really distinct.

I like doing surveys and value market research, but this one is over the top. For my time – which would be considerable if I gave it any thought – I receive nothing, except to be entered into a drawing for $10,000, which is the same as nothing.

If you truly value the opinion of those you are asking, you need to demonstrate it in your survey design. Court the person whose input you seek and share the importance of their input. Make your time demand reasonable. Provide some compensation or acknowledgment of the time investment. Prioritize your questions instead of asking literally hundreds as this survey did.

Otherwise, “Survey Says”: Into the recycle bin it goes.

leadership dot #2724: bow

I have purchased several new cars over the years and all of them include seemingly hours of dread before you actually get the keys to drive away. There is so much negotiation, angst, paperwork, choices, decisions, etc. and it takes forever. By the time I get my car, I am usually just ready to get out of there…

…but this last experience was different. Most of the pre-work was accomplished in advance and when my vehicle was ready, I was escorted to the “delivery area” where my car was waiting with a giant bow like in the commercials. How much fun is that?

In addition, I had a “technology specialist” that sat with me in the car and programmed all the myriad choices to meet my preferences: whether I wanted auto-lock, seat settings, radio stations, which doors unlocked with the remote, etc. etc. By the time I left the lot, it felt like “mine” instead of a generic vehicle.

Think about the ways that you can add some personalization and pizzazz to your purchasing experiences. They took a photo of me-and-the-bow (which they could have/should have posted to social media) – could you do the same? How can you add a tutor to explain some of the nuances that are so easy for someone who does it every day but frustrating for those new to the process? Can you put forms online and handle some of the routine aspects of your transaction before people dedicate their valuable time to do them at your office?

Think of your purchasing process as an experience instead of a transaction and put a beautiful bow on the package.

leadership dot #2723: repackaged

Looking for a unique gift idea for this holiday? How about toilet paper? Seriously!

An environmentally sustainable company, cheekily named Who Gives a Crap, markets toilet paper in “Gift Editions” especially for holiday giving. The paper is made “without trees” in an environmentally-friendly process that uses no inks, dyes or scents – and for the holidays it is wrapped in colorful paper as an incentive to save a forest as part of your gift-giving. Even better than that, the company donates 50% of its profits to help build toilets for the millions of people living without them.

Few would see toilet paper as a viable gift option, but with the way Who Gives a Crap has packaged it, the “Holiday Gift Edition” (48 rolls/$55 shipped) could be a very desirable gift for the environmentally-conscious person on your list.

The Gift Edition could also serve as a model for how to tailor your offering to the audience you are trying to serve. How can you re-package what you provide to incentivize additional purchasing? If they can make toilet paper a viable option, surely you can sprinkle some holiday magic on your services.

leadership dot #2722: you share

“If you are really thankful, what do you do? You share.” – W. Clement Stone

Today is not only a day of gratitude, but it is also a day of sharing. Countless people open their homes to friends and “strays” who join them for the traditional meal. Numerous others spend the day cooking, serving or delivering food for those in need. Others share their talents by playing in parades or athletic events, while some share through donating blood.

It’s one thing to feel gratitude, but another level to actually share it. Whether it’s helping in your kitchen or tending to your neighbor, give of yourself today in an authentic celebration of gratitude for all you have.

Happy Thanksgiving!

leadership dot #2721: seek

Many times, we fail to appreciate people until they are no longer with us. In the moment, we often focus on what annoys us about others without pausing to remember their gifts. We fail to appreciate the good things that colleagues bring to the team and instead highlight their shortcomings. We wish for coworkers to leave, only to realize what they achieved behind the scenes after they are gone. We long for politicians after their term has ended, only appreciating in retrospect that their merits outweighed any disagreements we had with their policies.

In this season of Thanksgiving, seek to find the good in others now, without waiting until you recognize the positive only when you are without it. Even that person who is making you crazy likely has redeeming qualities if you look for them.

leadership dot #2720: friendsgiving

It has been said that friends are the family you choose for yourself – so what better way to combine the traditions of Thanksgiving than by celebrating with all of your families. “Friendsgiving” is an opportunity to do just that by combining good friends with good foods.

Friendsgiving has been widely celebrated since 2007 – long before Ross and Monica added their imprint on this Millennial/Gen Z holiday. You may opt to include reruns of Friends as part of your event, or you can keep things more low-key. No matter how you craft it, taking time before the real holiday madness to share laughs and gratitude with your buddies sounds like a wonderful way to spend a few hours.

Friendsgiving is gaining in popularity – maybe because people need to schedule “time with friends” into their otherwise busy lives. Maybe it’s an antidote to the sometimes uncomfortable holidays with relatives. Or perhaps it’s just a great excuse to get together and enjoy good company and some food.

There is no set date for Friendsgiving so you can pick any date to round up your circle. Real friends – not just the Facebook kind – are worth the effort to gather in person.