July 2016
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Joseph's Blog

Pokémon Go: How to Launch Experiences that Maximize Technology and Social Interaction

Let me guess, you’d like your prospective customers to learn about your products or services WITHOUT you having to invest a bundle of money in marketing! Hmm…let’s think about a recent product launch that fits that description.

How about learning from the makers of Pokémon Go?

Days before it’s release, millions of posts began to appear on social feeds (despite minimal marketing) and within one day of the US launch Pokémon Go became the top-grossing app on iOS (not bad for a free to download app relying on in-app purchases).

So what can all of us learn about “craveabilty” based on Pokémon Go?

Here are a few things to consider…

1) Join a Parade, Don’t Start One – Pokémon has always had a strong following but an April 1, 2014 joke by Google blending Google maps with Pokémon had more than 18 million views. That prompted the team at Niantic Labs (led by a former Google executive) to take on the Pokémon Go project.

2) Pique Interest and Build Anticipation for Your Core Fans – Rather than hyping the app’s release endlessly and in a shotgun manner (commercials, social media saturation, etc). Pokémon Co. produced an announcement trailer about 8 months prior to release which prompted brand fans to wait and wonder. According to Ad Age, “In social media, Niantic tweeted that the game was available in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand. After that, it retweeted a couple mentions of the game from other accounts, but not much else…unlike games such as Mobile Strike, Pokémon Go hasn’t had a single TV commercial.”

3) Leverage technology and interactivity – While much has been promised from augmented-reality technology, Niantic delivered an emotionally engaging experience. More importantly, they have people catching Pikachu and Squirtle (along with other characters) in a very social way. They are activating people to move and experience other gamers as well as the physical world around them.

Ok, I’m not saying that these lessons gleaned from Pokémon Go will guarantee identical breakthrough success…but I’m certain they will augment the reality of having your customers actively talk about your products and services. Try them…and see if they don’t “catch” on…

Pokémon Go: How to Launch Experiences that Maximize Technology & Social Interaction {Infographic}


Show Me the Money: The Why of Customer Experience Excellence

It sounds like a good idea. Striving to deliver great customer experiences intuitively seems like smart business, doesn’t it?

Intuition, unfortunately, doesn’t necessarily pay the bills!

So should you invest money in programs designed to improve the engagement and loyalty of your customers? If so, where should you invest for the greatest return? One need only look to the methodology and outcomes of Forrester Research

Forrester has developed an annual benchmarking survey which they call the Forrester Customer Experience Index. That survey is provided to a wide swath of consumers asking them about the nature of experiences they’ve had with companies across the industry. The survey looks at three key elements of customer experience excellence. The degree to which customers feel a company:

Meet their Needs

Offers Ease

Makes the Experience Enjoyable

Forrester then merges data from those three aspects and calculates a singular Customer Experience Index score for every company. Overall results suggest that most companies are receiving very mediocre scores on the index.

Forrester has actually calculated a performance level which they call “the green line of goodness.” That line differentiates between sub-par performance and excellent customer experiences. Companies who perform above the green line of goodness enjoy a number of remarkable financial outcomes and customer relationship benefits. By asking loyalty questions and researching the financial performance of those above and below the green line of goodness, Forrester finds that:

The higher the Customer Experience Index score, the more likely a customer will consider another purchase or recommend a friend or family member to a business.

The lower the Customer Experience Index score, the more likely a customer will consider switching to another brand.

Modeling the business value of higher Customer Experience Index scores, Forrester estimates millions of dollars in annual incremental revenue for “any company in any category” they survey.

In industries like hotels and wireless service, the annual incremental revenue boost is calculated as “BILLIONS” of dollars.

If your customers were asked would you find your business above Forrester’s “Green Line of Goodness?”

In any case, it pays to invest in efforts to more effectively meet your customers’ needs in a manner that makes it as easy as possible for them. All the while you should also be looking for opportunities to enhance the pleasurableness of your experience.

Customer experience is not only good business…it is A MAJOR source of profits and sustainability in a sea of similar products often delivered by competitors who are only providing marginal experiences.

To see an infographic depicting this information, click here.

Show Me the Money: The Why of Customer Experience Excellence {Infographic}


Three Lessons in Branding from Will Smith {Infographic}


Brand Independence Day: Staying in the Black from One of the Men in Black

While I have many mentors when it comes to business success, branding, and customer experience delivery, seldom do I look to actors or actresses to give me wisdom in these areas. Recently, however, I was taken aback by the succinct and powerful branding perspective offered by Will Smith.

Will Smith started his career as a rapper in the late 1980’s, later starred on the television series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and went on to a blockbuster movie career with films like Independence Day and Men in Black. He has been nominated for five Golden Globe, two Academy awards and has won four Grammy Awards. Forbes magazine has labeled him the “most bankable star” and as of 2014 his movies alone had grossed $6.6 billion.

Enough about our teacher, on to the lesson…

Recently Ad Age captured an interview with Will Smith in which he gave three principles for brand success. While they might not make you, the most “bankable star” or guarantee $6.6 billion in revenue, they will assure brand sustainability. As per Will Smith, here are three components essential to a great brand:

1        Start with a meaningful and profound idea

2        The product should always be the core of what you do

3        Try to improve lives

In a general sense, Will Smith understands that no amount of marketing can sustain success for a concept that fails to connect with its audience. Additionally, customers expect that a product or service will meet their needs and demand operational excellence when we deliver those products and services to them. Finally, if our intention is self-focused (e.g. profit-taking) and not “other focused (mission-based and committed to enhancing the lives of those we serve) customers will churn.

Brands (be they individuals like Will Smith or corporate entities) depend upon ideas, products and purpose. Thanks Will for being a brand that not only entertains but transforms!

Branded Customer Experiences {Infographic}

Branded Customer Experience[1]

Personal Brand Vetting – THEY are Listening

As I help business leaders deliver branded customer experiences, I often start with the premise that brands are nothing more than what people say about us when we’re not around. From there, I work with leaders to determine what they want to be known for and what they want to hear their customers say about them.

For years companies have been trolling social media to see what customers post about brand experiences. That data mining and sentiment analysis provide both qualitative and quantitative data that represents a snapshot of the “brand’ experience.

While the word “brand” typically conjures up images of monolithic business entities, the term applies equally to individuals. Increasingly, personal brands are being data mined by businesses who are evaluating whether they want to do business with prospective customers. The best example of what I refer to as “personal brand vetting” is a British start-up, Score Assured, that allows landlords to assess potential tenants based on information gleaned from their social media accounts. According to an article in the Verge:

“Landlords use the company’s Tenant Assured program to send requests for profiles to would-be tenants. These then grant the program access to data from one or more social media networks (including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram), which it uses to create a one-time report on the individual. This process scans private conversations and public posts to record information about the user’s personality, life events (like giving birth or getting married), and even their ‘financial stress level’ — a measure of how easy it is for them to pay their rent, based on the frequency with which keywords like ‘no money,’ ‘poor,’ and ‘staying in,’ appear in their posts.”

Suffice it to say, many social media experts challenge “personal brand vetting” practices like Score Assured, although many of us have been warning our children and adolescents “to be cautious about what they post because it can have long-term implications for college admission or future employment.

From my perspective, the key lessons from Score Assured are as follows:

  • Be Careful What You Say On-Line: You may think your comments are spontaneous and your “personal business” but in truth, once something enters the social space you never know how it will be used to “vet” you.
  • Your Personal Brand Effects Your Business Brand: While freedom of speech is an essential tenant of democracy, there is no firewall between what is said in our personal life and how we are viewed professionally.
  • Much Can Be Learned From “Life-casting:” Granted Tenant Assured has a creepy, lurking quality, but there is much we can learn about our clients based on what they choose to share through social media. Listening to the customer is always a great idea. The challenge is to respectfully listen (in places and in ways in which they want us to take an interest).
  • Information Is Power That Should Be Used Responsibly: Like all power, listening can be leveraged for good (e.g. learning about a customer’s birthday and authentically acknowledging them) or for bad (choosing to exploit a vulnerability shared online). The way you handle listening will reflect back on your personal and professional brand.

OK, heeding my own advice, I just re-read this blog and feel comfortable with it representing my personal brand and my business. I’ll hit “post” but who really knows what impact it will have…


Don’t Invent – Innovate: The Art of Resolving Human Need {Infographic}


Don’t Invent – Innovate: The Art of Resolving Human Need

For me…

Invention is the creation of something new


Innovation is creating a new solution that addresses a human need

If I were so inclined, I could go into my garage cobble together some random materials and produce a “one of a kind” object. I could call it Joseph’s garage invention. While I might amuse myself in the process, the invention would be nothing more than an expression of my creative process.

Innovation, by contrast, requires an effort to solve a problem.

As a customer experience consultant, I am often tasked with helping businesses identify the high-value human needs for which people, process, or technology innovations can be crafted.

One of my favorite examples of a high-value innovation is the Hippo Water Roller.

My enthusiasm for this innovation is reflected in my financial support for the non-profit project which enables distribution of the Hippo (that is my not so subtle hint that you may wish to consider making a contribution of your own).

In case you haven’t heard about the Hippo, this is straight from the Hippo’s mouth or should I say the Hippo Roller’s website concerning the human need:

“750 million people in Africa and Asia struggle daily to access water. Water collection points are often located far away from their homes: 1-6 miles. This is typically done with heavy 5 gallon buckets balanced on their head.”

And as to the solution:

“The Hippo Roller enables women, children and the elderly to collect up to 5x more water than a single bucket. Users simply roll the Hippo Roller along the ground. It improves water access, food security and income generation.”

To see the hippo roller in action (click the picture below or visit


While most of us will not innovate a solution that will have as broad a social impact as the Hippo Roller, we can dedicate our efforts to remove pain points, improve capacity, and decrease effort (all aspects of the Hippo innovation).

To the degree we make our customer’s lives easier and enable them to live in a more fulfilled and productive way, we are and can be innovators.

Take a moment to reflect on your customer’s journey and think of where you can lighten their load or ease their path…that is the beginning point for all great innovation.