At the last SOBcon, we spoke with entrepreneur and marketeer Jonathan Fields about Customer Experience. When we asked him what he does, he answered with a long story which came down to the following sentence. “Primarily I create stuff. I help people move from having ideas into turning them into businesses,” said Jonathan Fields. He is also a blogger, very involved with social media an an author. His last book is ‘Career Renegade’.
“Customer Experience is surprising”
His general thoughts on Customer Experience is about completely surprising. “Customer Experience is taking the customers by surprise, and serving them in a way which turns them into stark raving fans, where they can’t shut up about how amazing their experience was. I think, one of the big things is stepping into the shoes of your customer. What do they want as un ultimate outcome? And how can I go one step beyond that? How can I give them the outcome that they’re asking for? And how can I actually surprise them by giving them something in addition to that they never thought that they would ever get?”
Online store and customer service
As example he told us the legendary story about Tony Hsieh and his online shoe store Zappos. “They just do what the customores call for.” Somebody called the shoe store at two O’clock in the morning and asked for a pizza place. The person on the phone checked it out and spent 10 minutes Googeling and finding out the reviews for local pizza places and surprising the customer. “And what’s interesting is, they sold last year for pretty close to a billion dollars. And if you ask Tony what he’s in the business of, he’ll tell you he’s not in the business of selling shoes, he’s in the business of customer service. He’s providing a level of customer service that nobody on the planet provides. And that’s what gave them that type of valuation. Zappo doesn’t sell shoes a discounted price either. People are willing to pay retail price because they know that the service at a company is so extraordinary. Last year they sold for close to a billion dollars.
Fields is the author of the ‘Career Renegade’. The book is fundamentally about how to take something that turns you on, a mad passion, something that makes you come alive; and approach it in a way which will allow you to make a real living at it. Jonathon Fields: “If you launch a business, you’ve got to be madly passionate about that business and madly passionate about serving the people, to make that business survive. When that happens in the top of an organization, that begins to infuse the employees. And your employees are more often as you grow, your front line, not you.”
Tips for entrepreneurs
Fields has also tips for entrepreneurs leading and growing their company and going into territories that they have never been before. “Start with something that makes you come alive. And do a whole bunch of market research. Just because you have a passion for it, doesn’t mean that there are people out there in the world who are willing to line up and pay you to do it. How would you solve their problem differently in a way which both honored how you want to come alive, but at the same time took them out of pain? And a way which is bigger, or better, or faster than the way other people in the market are doing it.”
“It’s never a straight line to success”
“As an entrepreneur, you go through life cycles. You go through a number of cycles, and it’s never just a straight line to success. You’ll always come up against some major challenges, even a very successful entrepreneur whose building and scaling something successful. And to get through those really big challenges, psychologically, physically, emotionally, and financially, you need to be fully committed to what you’re doing beyond just making a dollar. There needs to be something much deeper down which is driving you.”
We asked Jonathan his opinion about Web 3.0. It’s about willing to lose control, he said. “Engaging everybody out there as both customers, conversation members, and also people who have the opportunity to help iterate the product and the solution and make it better. Web .0 was largely using the web to broadcast itself. Web 2.0 was starting to turn it from broadcast to a conversation. Where you realize that you as a person who is selling and creating a message had a voice, but then the people who are listening to and receiving the information, and potentially buying, had a voice too. And that becomes conversational medium.
Undercurrent of commercializing
“As Web 2.0 emerged, there was this undercurrent of commercializing the conversation as not a good thing. Where the notion of having an advertiser or doing something commercial, you would get blasted for. And I see the pendulum swinging back to sort of a healthier middle ground now, and maybe you call that Web 3.0. I don’t know. There’s sort of an almost coming back to the notion that, inserting a commercial aspect into that is OK, as long as everybody involved realizes that part of this whole thing is that there’s a commercial end to it. And I think, that it’s almost a notion of getting comfortable with that again is where we’re leading to.”
This interview was held in April 2010 during SOBcon in Chicago. This year’ SOBcon starts April 29th, 2011. And -of course- we will be there!
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