Finding New Ways to Better Serve Your Customers
By Craig Harrison
Note: This article appeared in ter September, 2000 edition
of City News,the NACE Newsletter for Northern California
Everyone loves a winner. As a society we're quick to model ourselves after other successful organizations. Whether in business, on Wall Street, in entertainment or sports, we see competitors quick to follow the patterns of the current winners. That's OK. After all, there's not much upside in following the losers of the world.
But to really set your company apart from the others it may be less important to model what the leaders do. If you have the courage, creativity and will to innovate, you can blaze your own trail and let others model their strategies after yours!
This month's column is a call to arms for each of you to innovate. I encourage you to explore new, different and creative ways to emphasize your strengths as a business, fill the special needs of your customers or else create new niches you can then dominate.
Are you ready to step outside of the box? Are you ready to re-evaluate your usual ways of doing business in search of better ways? Are you prepared to become innovative in your approach, whether in attracting new customers, managing your staff or revamping your overall modus operandi as a business?
Ways and Means
How are you attracting new customers? Do you use traditional marketing techniques? Has that always been the preferred method of expanding your client base? In today's competitive marketplace you may need to sound a different horn to separate yourself from the competition. Here are a couple of ideas for raising your visibility and attracting new customers:
Before you hire expensive consultants or even bring Craig Harrison in to unleash the creativity within your firm, tap your own employees' ideas for new and innovative ways of conducting business. The smart companies know that great ideas can come from anyone within their ranks, and they aren't afraid of asking their rank and file. Don't forget to praise, recognize and reward your employees who contribute innovations. Innovations deserve ovations. Your employees will feel valued and take more pride in knowing they've made an extra contribution, and that it's been recognized.
Inducing Innovation...A Labor of Love
To foster and ultimately harvest innovation you must set the proper tone. Remain open minded to the possibilities. Allow scheduled time for brainstorming as a group and suspend judgement when doing so. Such activities do wonders for teambuilding too. Take suggestions seriously, whether through a suggestion box, a rewards program or attention in your weekly or monthly meetings to this creative form of problem solving.
The Hidden Benefits of Innovation
How satisfying to work smarter, not harder! How exciting to innovate. How fulfilling to harness one's creativity and be a leader, not a follower. Through innovation you can stay ahead of the curve. And don't make the mistake of believing that innovation is a luxury. In today's rapidly evolving marketplace you can't afford to rest on your laurels and conduct business as usual. The phrase "innovate or die" is far from over-dramatic...it's prophetic. Be a prophet and predict a profitable future for your company, team and self. Innovate!