Smart Customers, Stupid Companies: Why Only Intelligent Companies Will Thrive, and How To Be One of Them

“This is a real page-turner! Hinshaw and Kasanoff provide a quick and thrilling tour of the immediate future of business. So read it and heed it, folks, because it just doesn’t come any more direct or compelling than this!”
— Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, Ph.D., authors of EXTREME TRUST: Honesty as a Competitive Advantage

Last decade, companies strove to be great. Now they need to act as smart as the customers they wish to serve. Why? Because acting dumber than your customers is not a sustainable business model.

This visually arresting book not only challenges business leaders to profit from the wave of disruptive innovation making customers smarter, but it also presents an actionable five-step plan for doing just that.

Hinshaw and Kasanoff explain that disruptive innovation is “already providing individuals with tools more advanced, in many cases, than the most sophisticated commercial enterprises had just five years ago,” and argue that “established firms will need to reinvent themselves and disrupt their own industries to stay alive.”

“So energizing it actually made my skin tingle and my pulse race. Lot of books prod you to think about the future; this book is like a punch in the face. I’m fortunate I had the opportunity to read this before my competitors.”
— Chris Zane, Founder & President, Zane’s Cycles, and author of REINVENTING THE WHEEL: The Science of Creating Lifetime Customers

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3 Responses to Smart Customers, Stupid Companies: Why Only Intelligent Companies Will Thrive, and How To Be One of Them

  1. Reg Nordman "(K)nights on the Road"

    what you do not know will kill your company – you must read this book I loved this book. It contains enough examples and arguments to indicate exactly how your company needs to meet the smart plugged in customer. This aligns with recent machine to machine research RocketBuilders carried out. well written and beautifully argued. The authors look at four disrupters: Social Influence (WofM) Pervasive memory ( Amazon and Zappos) Digital Sensors (machine to machine everywhere) The Physical WebI loved these quotes:1. We are confronting a fundamental shift in the ways that companies interact with – and serve – their customers.At many firms, their “social media strategy” involves creating a Facebook page, monitoring social sites for mentions of thecompany or its products, and generally extending its existingbusiness model into the social media world.But this approach stops short of confronting the real issues.If you could physically see the thousands of social influencerscrowding the space between your sales team and your customers – if they were physically present in your store or office – you would no longer accept the misguided notion that a few extra posts online would solve your problems.The reason so many companies are vulnerable is because the state of relationships between companies and customers is so poor. Products and services tend to be impersonal. Responsiveness tends to be uneven at best, or miserable at worst. It is reasonable to assert that frustration, annoyance, and anger have been building among customers for decades. They are tired of being treated as numbers, of being misled or even lied to, and of being considered targets instead of living, breathing human beings.2. CRM doesn’t actually track relationships or experiences, it tracks transactions. As a result, CRM doesn’t take into account the customers’ views of the company, and doesn’t capture how these interactions make customers feel, much less what they want or need. Yes, CRM does a great job tracking company perceptions of value, and tracking those interactions that are important to the company – sales, marketing, service, etc. – but it fundamentally misses what customers think, feel, and want as a result. It delivers an inside-out perspective that means the conclusions reached by companies about customer relationships are skewed, based on the interactions that occurred rather than the customer perceptions that resulted. While CRM can tell the company that two customers have the same set of interactions, it can’t tell which customer is delighted, and which feels trapped, upset, and may be actively bad-mouthing the company online. This is important information.This is a must read for leaders in the tech industry ( and every industry) . What you do not know will hurt you.

  2. One of the most exciting business books I’ve ever read I dare you to try reading this book without getting at least ten brilliant new ideas for your business. You won’t be able to do it. I’ve never encountered a book that has such a masterful blend of future-think and business common sense – and I read a LOT of books. Kasanoff and Hinshaw have done an absolutely marvelous job here, showing with relentless logic and specific examples how new technologies are raising customer expectations, and what a business ought to do about it.The authors catalog four “disruptive forces” that both threaten every current business model and offer diverse opportunities for innovation – social, big data, digital sensors, and the internet of things. Then, for each one, they take you through a kaleidoscope of implications and examples.I don’t want to spoil the pleasure you’re going to have from reading this concise and highly entertaining business masterpiece of creative thinking yourself, but let me just give one example of the kind of “ideation” tools Kasanoff and Hinshaw have packed into it. As they catalogue the many ways remote sensors could be used for business purposes, they insert this paragraph:”Today, digital sensors can: monitor your tire pressure and avoid dangerous blowouts; analyze the gait of elderly citizens and warn of falls before they occur; follow the gaze of shoppers and identify which products they examine – but don’t buy – in a store; monitor which pages readers of a magazine read or skip; float in the air over a factory and independently monitor the plant’s emissions; detect impacts in the helmet of an athlete and make it impossible for them to hide potential serious blows to their brains; reveal when a dishwasher, refrigerator, computer, bridge, or dam is about to fail; trigger a different promotion as a new customer walks by a message board; analyze the duration and quality of your sleep; warn drivers that they are about to fall asleep; prevent intoxicated drivers from operating a motor vehicle; warn a person before he or she has a heart attack; detect wasted energy in both homes and commercial buildings; warn a parent or boss when anger is creeping into their voice, to help prevent them from saying or doing things they will later regret; tell waiting customers how far away the pizza delivery guy is from their house; analyze the movements of employees through a factory to detect wasted time and efforts; trigger product demonstrations or interactive manuals when a customer picks up or examines a product; congratulate an athlete when she swings a tennis racquet properly or achieves an efficient stride while running. What can they do tomorrow?”You can’t read that paragraph without your mind leaping ahead to the opportunities that these kinds of technologies might offer for your business. For instance, does your business involve any form of retailing or a physical establishment where customers come to transact business? The authors suggest that today “a physical store can be just as smart or smarter than a website. So can an office building, or a dealer’s showroom. We don’t think of `bricks and mortar’” as possessing this sort of intelligence, but with each passing day there are fewer reasons why not.Smart Customers, Stupid Companies is chock full of “aha” ideas like this. I couldn’t put it down, seriously.I should also disclose here that I’ve been one of Bruce Kasanoff’s biggest fans ever since he worked for Peppers & Rogers Group more than 10 years ago. His previous book, Making It Personal, is also worth a read. But this current work is – seriously – one of the best and most exciting reads I’ve had in a while.

  3. “Companies can’t be competitive [or even survive] if they can’t stay ahead of their customers” In this book, Michael Hinshaw and Bruce Kasanoff explain why and how companies must always be “smarter” than their customers are. Smarter about what? Specifically, smarter about establishing and then nourishing relationships with customers who, each day, increase their control of those relationships. Actually, companies are not smart or stupid but many of those who work for them are and sometimes the problem is ignorance or indifference, not stupidity. That is, those who interact with customers are not as well-informed as the customers are…or they really don’t care.Smart customers see disruptive change in terms of the opportunities it creates. For example, smartphones will become smarter (i.e. do more, do it better, and do it faster). Although Apple’s iPhone 5 may not be able to support mobile payments via near-field communication (NFC), it is only a matter of time. Actually, there are hundreds (thousands?) of examples of disruptive change. Smart customers will understand them and take full advantage of them. Those who offer products and services must also view such disruptive change — in social influence, pervasive memory, digital sensors, and the physical web — in terms of opportunities created by it. I agreed with Hinshaw and Kasanoff: “Smart customers expect smart customer experiences”…and they will not settle for anything less.These are among the dozens of passages that caught my eye:o Profile of a “smart” customer (Pages 12-13)o “Case Study, Circa 2015″ (28-29)o “A Framework for Infinite Opportunity and Innovation (39-41)o “The Four Disruptive Forces” (53-80)o The power and impact of “smart, interconnected touchpoints” (24, 114, 116-117, 140-142)o 10 ways to disrupt an industry, raise standards, and create new growth opportunities (147-163)o “Welcome to Simultaneous Change” (166-167)Hinshaw and Kasanoff have much of substantial value to say about the “smart, interconnected touchpoints” to which I referred earlier. It’s true that both touchpoints and customers are getting smarter. It is also true that within companies, interconnected touchpoints can help prepare those who interact with the company’s customers as well as with each other. Moreover, consider the fact that under Steve Jobs’s leadership, Apple created a number of immensely profitable products. One of the reasons they are “insanely great” is their interconnected touchpoints with those who use them. “As digital touchpoints continue to grow, the number of touchpoints a customer encounters as they move through your relationship cycle is moving towards the potentially infinite.”I commend Hinshaw and Kasanoff on their brilliant use of various reader-friendly devices, notably the “Key Takeaways” inserted at the conclusion of each major section. This device facilitates, indeed expedites frequent review of key pints later. Also, congratulations to everyone involved with the book’s design. Choices of font size, bold or italics, ink color, etc. provide a visual variety and diversity that complement the flow of the lively as well as eloquent narrative. Bravo!

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