When we talk about creativity or innovation, we are constantly fed with the message, ‘Think outside the box’. I think most proponents of this cliche have rather misunderstood its use. They have neglected the fundamental way of doing things. A new version is always an upgrade or increment over the existing. A new model comes because there is an existing model. Most of the innovations in the world come from increments from the existing. The point I am trying to drive home is – There is an already existing box, why not check its contents first?
Sales & Marketing: A general tendency in marketing is to use third party market research, third party digital marketing, third party sales funneling and third party communication work. We also tried to outsource some of these functions in our own limited capacity. This led to high costs, delay in work and high involvement of teams to explain to the externals. We realized over time that these functions are core and internal where insights are much more important. If one can bring together a good mix of art and science in marketing & sales teams, most of these can be easily handled internally. A lot of data is generated internally through customers, website, apps, calls, chats, form fills etc which can give massive insights for actions. Similarly, large number of sales leads are lost through layers of teams and processes in a company. And we seek sales support from outside without taking a deeper dive into these leakages in the sales funnel. Unless we action these internal data points, it’s both waste of time and money to seek out the external. External help can be sought in areas which need very special expertise like mass media communication and production, otherwise most others can be handled internally.
Technology: Sometimes, in smaller companies like ours, one must balance the present and the future with limited resources. We have gone through issues where we have spent technology resources on something experimental at the cost of building on the present. This has cost us compromising on the quality of existing product or delaying the go to market at times. Inward thinking has helped us bring focus by limiting this distraction. Many a times, we tend to solve a very simple problem through complex technology solution. The reason is, we haven’t done enough analysis with the internal information and jump to complex external stimuli. Many start-ups in the last few years have suffered setting up wrong priorities as they got too carried away with the external and overlooked the insights.
Customer delight: Customer support teams in companies keep becoming bigger and bigger with time. There are massive hierarchies build and the real consumer insights are covered below various layers of ‘data crunching’. The real qualitative insights are often missed out in these layers of quantitative data. I strongly feel that a customer care team can be lean as a company grows if each conversation from a customer is actioned in such a way that the same issue never comes again to a human agent. One of my roles at Xoxoday has been quality, customer satisfaction and delight. While we kept on implementing best practices, the single most important source of data for us has been inputs from customer mails and calls. Reading through the lines into each conversation with customer helped us improvise every day. These conversations have been very rich in information both for our present and from a futuristic perspective.
So, next time, when you are thinking of solving any problem, remember Insights are In Sight. You’ll solve better and faster. Looking inside the box is the place to start before considering what’s off the box. It’s well said from Christopher Peterson, “If you’ve never ventured outside the box, you will probably not be creative. But if you never get inside the box, you’ll probably be stupid.