Monthly Archives: January 2014

Being boring might be what the customer wants….

Doing what you are good at and keeping on…..Its not always about innovation

Some businesses wonder why they dont grow and cant compete and if only we had more or could tell our story better… or had that much better technology or….

Sales people across the world this is a familiar cry. In a world where we are told its all about new media, the latest gadget or being in the cloud… What is it that really matters, is there a magic formula?

In a recent newspaper interview the CEO, Anders Bouvin, of Swedish Bank Handelsbank who has been with the business for 25 years, doesnt get paid a bonus, and is not the ‘charismatic’ leader that anglo saxon capitalism seems to adore,much to its cost. The bank doesn’t have sales targets. It’s only measure is customer satisfaction. In addition, this very ‘boring and old school’ bank is about to open new branches in the UK. This in the context of most UK banks still struggling to operate cash machines, repay govt loans and a host of other hangover related issues from the recklessness of the 90s and 2000s.

How is this bank able to buck the trend with no real no marketing budget and no real track record in the uk? Is there a secret ? Listening to the CEO it seems obvious, simple and and to the acolytes of the Anglo Saxon model, a little dull. Knowing your customer and pursuing the goal of excellent customer service, which breeds loyalty and ultimately free marketing because customers become your ambassadors.

It seems simple but its not easy it requires discipline and focus and a steely desire to stay the course. Changing tack despite shiny new ideas and worrying about the competition is a diversion. Despite the hype, this is exactly how top athletes prepare. They pursue a goal slavishly with careful planning but temporary dips in form do not mean they change strategy, they stay the course and focus on a long term goal. In the same way, some analysts are not fans of the Swedish bank’s model…. No matter, they stick to the plan.

So what does this mean in the world of HR and recruitment? Well exactly that…. Know your customer and continue to ensure that we work relentlessly to ensure that the talent acquisition plan has processes and tools that fit the customer need regardless.

This isnt necessarily about the latest trends or particular media, it is about what works for the customer in any given market or geography. A lot of commentators, often with a hidden agenda want to convince us about the latest technology or trend. Employing people who want to get to know the customer, using data…. This isn’t about so called ‘Big Data’ this is about relevant data for the customer. This can be any number of things but we don’t need management consultants to tell us this, just ask the customer,they will tell you, if you ask the customer.

Trying to build hype around social media, big data or any other fad only helps us lose focus on the customer, ask Anders Bouvin or in fact any entrepreneur.


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