When do you need disruption?  Or is change enough? How do we know what’s right and what’s the best way to find out what the customer wants.

In this candid discussion with Eriks & Judy Celmins with Shayne Brian.

You’ll find it thought-provoking.

Listen to the full episode below …

 [00:02:09] Introducing Judy & Eriks

So, Eriks is an Australian, uh an Australasian award winning radio programmer. He knew his insight for deeper understanding of the audience and winning market share. His creative content flare combined with his analytical side forming a unique research perspective, which he now presents to general business as the engagement method for innovation.

His partner in crime is Judy Celmins, Judy is a born marketer and seasoned entrepreneur with a variety of adventures under her belt, keeping life fun and exciting. Her guiding star is that small business has an enormous opportunity over the big end of town to build stronger relationships with their audience, unearthing emotional insights into the why of behavior and driving the innovation proven to scale up your business.

[00:08:27] Resistance to Change

Um, you know, I remember when CDs first came out and, you know, everybody was like, Oh, that'll never stick. You know, who wants to do that? We want the old records, or we want the cassettes. God only knows why we wanted to keep the cassette. They kept breaking on you. But you know, it was that resistance to change.

And I feel like any innovation. There's always a massive resistance. There, there is. Because as human beings, we actually don't like change or at least there's one part of us that doesn't like change because the human brain doesn't like to work too hard and find new ways of doing things. So in the, in a business context, of course, you don't want to take a huge amount of risk because if you're a small business owner, you've got your whole life wrapped up in this and going out on the plank and taking a risk is, is quite a formidable thing to think about.

However, the world is changing around you and there is a need to keep innovating even in small, incremental ways so it's not a shock to the system.

00:10:00] Supporting Your Team Through Change

You know, change can also affect the team. So you've, within a business, you've got two aspects of change. You've got to manage that team process. Cause most of the team have a task to do, they come to work every day, they perform their task and they go home and they quite like that routine of it. The idea of having the boss say, Oh, we're going to change everything. You know, I remember years ago I was involved in a team and I had a large team I was managing and I made it part of the mantra was that even though it works well today doesn't mean it's going to continue to work and, I just want us all to feel part of this evolution of where we're going with it. But it did take a process and that's part of what we do even now, is that it's part of the leader's role in any business is to make people feel safe, that the change is Okay and that they can manage that and that they've got an open forum to come to to discuss their fears about that change. So change in an organization, innovation, it’s got to be managed properly.

And so yes, building the environment, making it open so that everyone can be involved in that process. And if change is not too scary, if it's only incremental or they understand the different steps and the reasons why they're making the change, then it's actually okay. But it is a very much like holding their hand and baby steps.

Then you've got change from a customer's perspective. But one would assume that you've done your homework and this is what's really important because unfortunately, most businesses get an idea in house and just go off and do it without actually understanding what is it that the customer uses my product for. What are the emotional things behind that purchase or the use of the product. 

And so If you manage that process better by engaging them in the whole decision making process, then, then you minimise change. And there's probably also change that's happened in another industry that they're used to.

So, you know, the old saying that there's, there's no real new innovation. There's very, very few brand new ways of doing it. I mean, yes, the electric light and when we first had the first motor vehicle and all of that sort of stuff, but even then they were just changes to the horse and cart, you know and changes to the candle if you like.

But it's actually making that process smoother and easier, which, makes change, not an issue. And I think that's really critically important for a leader to understand.

[00:13:35] Disruptive Change

Again, if, if it's disruptive, it may actually be the change that the customer is looking for. Uber is the best example on the planet. So if you talked to customers and you realize that they have a problem because they're dirty smelly taxis or they're, whatever the issues are, there's, there were bucket loads of reasons why Uber worked.

But if you went out to the market and you said, would you get into a private vehicle you don't know, it’s like stranger danger. You’re taught from a child you don't get into a car with someone you don't know. They were, they were basing their whole business, this model on that. So they did have some issues to overcome there. And so the early adopters of that take it on first, and then they realized actually it's pretty safe to get into this car because they've gone through all the safety checks and all the rest, and they're really nice people etc.

So, um, disruption is actually what us as consumers are looking for, you know, but it's what you find, it’s how you work things out from a customer perspective, it’s identifying what they want, what they use, how they use a product, what they want, what the experience is like. Then you can create the disruption.

 [00:15:00] Customer Experience as a Driver for Change

And again much of idea generation, brainstorming, all of those sort of techniques that maybe conjured up in the lunch room at a business and people are told, right let's be innovative for the next hour and off they go and, and the wilder the idea the better and so on which, which is fine in some ways to get people out of comfort zones. However, unless that actually relates to the customer experience and how people use your product or service in their daily life, unless that changes based on that, then it is theoretical. And you are just really putting out things to the customer that don't, that don't resonate with them.

And to take the Uber example, which is a very good one and it's the same with Airbnb as well. So the disruptions they caused were based on very real customer concerns.  And same with Airbnb, in dealing with the big hotels and their pricing models and all of those kinds of things, those are very real to people. So taking your idea generation and, and basing it on, on those experiences is going to take you a lot further forward.

Now, if that means creating a disruption, well so be it. So that is the context, because if it becomes really clear and in our way of approaching things, if it's clear from both the customer and the team's point of view, then you say, okay, we actually do have to disrupt. Or if it's a series of incremental changes as well, then that's fine.

But you, but you will generally find, you know, the louder, the voice from both your customers and team saying, look, this really is a problem. Then that feels like, it's a disruption and not just a change.

[00:21:00] Market Research – Going Deeper

Just doing a survey with people, tick boxes, yes or no about things is not enough.Having some kind of in depth conversation with your target audience to find out these nuances is very important. Otherwise yes, you can make a mistake.

And it can be challenging to hear some negatives, but again, by taking the right approach and what we call the engagement method to talk to people in a positive way about okay let's, how can we improve things? What's the next thing for our brand, then by involving people in that way, it's a much more positive experience.

And so there's heaps of, there's a proliferation of a free survey tools or very low cost tools you can use online these days. And if you're trying to make a decision in your life business about where to invest time and energy, and you know, you want to release a new product or you want to start a whole new business model or whatever to make it easier. You can't get that from that sort of level of survey. Yes. It gives you some background, but as we like to say, it's historical, it's not going to, you know, it's not going to predict the future for you, but what we do is when you start making it exciting and we've watched this. So as soon as you start making any sort of research process about them, about the person answering these questions about the real live human underneath, soon as you do that and you switch that around, their attitudes change.

So they're involved in the process and they're actually enjoying the fact that you're valuing their information and their insights and they want to act, they actually do want to help you. So you've got this perfect opportunity to get that more in depth information. But it has to be done correctly.

Things like building a VIP club, having an advisory group, any of those sort of terms, which is another step or two, but ultimately is so much more, more productive and beneficial because then you start engaging people at a relationship level and where they will open up to you. As, as we said before, when people are more relaxed, they will be more honest with you and, and give you more information you can use.

[00:36:37] Valuing Customer Feedback

So in many situations, when it comes to innovation or a new idea, let's say, if you want to go, which of the following products would you like to see us stock? Now, just as a loose example, and you might think of half a dozen different products and you might, it might be a multi choice.

So the person can tick as many, or as few as ticks of the boxes that they like, the problem is that you have to make an assumption to write that questionnaire. And that is the biggest problem I think, with surveys is that they're often done before you've done an exploratory to find out what they actually would like.

So one of the things we like to do is just have an open conversation, just chat to people in a very safe, protected environment. Cause that's also critical these days. You know, social media has done a lot of damage to the way we feel, in our feeling protected. And so, it's getting that, making them feel comfortable to open up and go, well, actually I've used this sort of thing in, in somewhere else.

You know, I did a survey for a big pet chain. I actually used to own a pet shop in a previous life. So I have a strong connection to, to that industry and I know a lot about it. And of course, I really wanted to tell them what I would do. And in fact, I had some quite creative ideas I thought would him help them. There was not one single thing or opportunity in the whole survey for me to even share, free of charge, those ideas.

So it's feels like this is one of the biggest challenges with surveys and, and some of the techniques that we've been experimenting with over the years and changes that we've made is that you feel like you're really isolated because as humans, we like to interact, we actually want to be part of an organization.

We want to be, we want to feel like we're part of a community. That's why social media works so well, you get instant feedback. You send out a post and your friends go, Ooh, I love that. Or whatever it is.  That doesn't happen in an isolated survey. So you taking people from a busy schedule. You don't know what state mind they're in when they decide to do your survey, they might have had the worst day on the planet and they just want a distraction.

So there's so much to surveying that in our opinion, particularly with small business, because they've not been exposed, they're exposed to these free kit set type things, and they are missing so many of these critical elements that could make such a difference to the quality of the data. They're missing the relationship aspect.

[00:41:23] Social Media

But do you feel that in this digital age, that we've got a real danger in that, we’re too influenced by social media?

That's a really interesting point. On the upside for social media in terms of getting insights from people. What it has done is conditioned people to be interactive online that people will be very concise and direct in their replies and will be honest. And that's why even with their friends, you know, you get a good discussion going on someone's Facebook thread and it actually can be very insightful to the person and their circle of friends.

So there are some principles from that we can bring across, uh, because that helps whether it's an online survey or whether it's an online conversation, particularly if the online survey has conversational elements.

Techniques we like to do is to go a next step from that and to bring people into a safer environment. So we go back to the point that social media is distrusted a lot more by people, particularly when it's outside of their friends network. So the idea of, if you go to a brand social page that yes, you're not as likely to just sprout off about things on that social page, when you're more likely to, if the brand reaches out to you via social media, but brings you into another environment, which like a VIP club but which is stressed, that your opinions are private, that it's safe, there are no third parties accessing that information, all those kinds of safeguards and then get people to chat about things, you are much more likely to get an unbiased response.

And people will. We see that in action. Once people feel right about that environment, they'll be very honest with you. And there are techniques also to get around that so that people are not feeling like they're criticizing you the business owner directly, because people don't like to do that.

[00:46:29] Key Ingredients of Innovation

It's actually a blend of things, which is, I guess, why we put together a process as such, is that it, it can't happen for a start unless the business wants to innovate. You have to have a culture of it. So you have to make a firm decision that that innovation is for you.

There are so many stats, which I won't bother rattling off, but the bottom line is that the majority of businesses or innovations that fail is because they didn't embrace the customer or the understanding of the customer properly.

Uh, but it starts with the culture, then that trickles down to the rest of the business. If you make a decision in the business that you are going to be an innovator, then clearly you're employing people and all the team is involved in that process with you, it doesn't matter what size business, if you make a decision to say, we're going to make sure that we're always relevant, we're going to change with our customers that's really what innovation in many ways is.

It's not necessarily creating something brand new but it's taking concepts that may be used in a different industry. You know, you might not be tech, but what is it from the tech industry that you can take and learn that customers are working with, that you can bring into your business and come up with an idea.

[00:50:26] Leadership and Idea Generation

So, you know, it starts with a leader, the leader is critically important, it always starts at the top. They decide to make it a culture of innovation and relationship sharing and just the whole warm and fuzzy thing and I'm not talking about, you know, you don't have to go out to lunch with them every day and have them over for dinner on the weekend.

That's not what I'm talking about. It's making them feel secure and valued. And you know, my favorite word amongst this is value. If you feel valued as a human, no matter what you're doing in any relationship, you're always going to give more and that is, that is so important. Then it's a matter of, of like, hashing between the team and idea generation then you get ideas from, from customers as well, and you might start with a hundred ideas and then by the end you want one solid one that you think, okay, I've, I've hashed this around. We've all looked at it. We've scoped it out.

We've decided that this is somewhere we want to try. And that might take a few months. It's not something that it might take longer. And in big innovation, we might be talking a couple of years to take it through that funnel process, but ultimately, and every step of the way, you're feeding it back through the team. You're feeding it back through your customers to make sure they're happy with it. If you did all of that. In a culture that embraces innovation, you will innovate, your business will grow.

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