Innovate based on the needs of your customers, not your own ideas
Innovation is the secret to success. Being able to adapt, overcome and improvise are key to facing obstacles along your wealth journey and on the path of success.
One of my biggest challenges is my constant need to improve the efficiency of the process and reduce energy and cost. This is one of my personal passions with everything I do.
Two important questions I learned from reading Men and Rubber: The Story of Business are:
Is this necessary? Can it be simplified?
However, these two questions can be incredibly dangerous when you examine things from your point of view only and do not discuss this with your customers. I learned the hard way that sometime when we try to make things simpler, we can complicate things for our customers.
Trying to improve on a process that your customers are used to can make your customers unhappy and cost you future business. In the case of our business, we had learned how to install our Green Heating Systems with a greater profit margin by removing the need for our customers to have to maintain the system in any capacity. We had figured out how to automate the system where we could make semi-annual visits and just make sure the system was operating properly.
Our mistake was that our customer liked being involved and understanding the system. Once we made it simpler, they felt lost and didn’t see the value of the system, even though it was saving them money!
When I asked a few customers if they were happy about our business, they shared their disappointment in not needing to check the system for any real reason. Further, existing customers complained that not having control over how their system worked was a problem for them in case something ever went wrong. I quickly realized we had Oversimplified the process because we didn’t ask our customers what they needed and wanted!
Part of becoming exceptional is recognizing that its your customers that direct your innovation. When you do things to improve your process and systems without involving your customers, vendors, suppliers, etc. you may compromise your business in a negative way. Keeping your customers involved in your ideas and future thinking can be incredibly valuable!