American Preferences Revealed in Learnings from Odd On-line Study


The American Association of Online Retailers reported last week that We the People actually enjoy pop-up adds! Insane you say? Perhaps not.

In a lightly attended press conference Mitch Engle, senior research designer at Nielsen, presented the findings that Americans, more than any other people group, respond favorably to online pop-up advertising.

“We took a different approach to collecting data this time around.” Engle said, “In most of these types of studies people are presented with advertising that matches their online behavior and preferences as closely as possible. For the purposes of this study we presented people with an average of ten adds that had no connection to their online behavior for every one pop-up that had a connection.”

The results were astounding.

“What we found was that, over time, people actually started to click through adds that had no connection whatsoever to what their normal online behavior had previously revealed.”

The study also showed that time of day seemed to make a difference.

“We found that at those times when regular online activity, reading blog posts, checking Pinterest boards, Tweeting etc. we’re at a lower ebb people tended to click through one off adds more frequently.”

When asked why he thought this was the case Engle had a ready answer.

“Americans are enamored with their online “communities”. Their online relationships offer a sense of control that just isn’t present in real life and so more and more people are spending more and more time in this controlled environment. This provides a real boon for advertisers because when a shopper feels that they are in control of the experience they are more likely to buy.”

Recent changes to Facebook helped accelerate and confirm results

“When Facebook went public we really had a chance to start hitting people more frequently with adds. We put them in their newsfeed, we put them in the margins more often and even started popping them up in games and other apps.”

But aren’t most of us annoyed by these pop-ups? Not according to Engle.

“The average Facebook user is in their late 30’s, has a little over 200 friends and typically uses the online platform to send private messages. That means that when they’re online checking and have nothing new to read, either in terms of status or messages they hang around to see if something “pops-up” (pun intended). At those off times of the day we can hit them with adds that are completely nonsense to them and, after an acclimation period, they’ll start to click through them. The click through to purchase rate is well over 35%”

But what about people in other countries?

“The research seems to indicate that people in other countries view their online relationships as being mush less critical to their daily lives. I’m not a social theorist, nor was that the intent of this study, but if I had to guess I’d say people in other countries tend to get out more. Going out to dinner in, say, Italy or Brazil is a five or six hour affair. In the States people are in and out.”

So what does this mean for us, the online consumer?

“Well”, said Engle, “if the shoes fits someone is going to sell it. People are buying from adds with no connection at a greater than 35% rate so we can probably expect more and broader advertising to encumber our online experiences.”

Oh great.

What do you think? Do these findings make sense to you?

Check out the full results of the study at:

eCommerce: When Experience Trumps Information

fightMy 13 yr. old daughter was expounding on the dangers of internet predation last night as a result of starting a new technology class. Her information was spot on until she tried to explain to me how the internet had no doubt changed since the 70’s and 80’s.

I had to tell her that as far as mere mortals went there WAS no internet in the 70’s and 80’s.

Back in the 90’s however, when the internet was building into the juggernaut it is today, the phrase amongst those of us who were building websites was “Content is King”. You see, it was all about the information.

In the more recent past, yesterday to be exact, I found myself ordering electronics online. I needed to get an external hard drive and an SD card and have them shipped to my son’s college address. A seemingly simple task to be sure.

Best Buy was showing the lowest price, but their only available shipping method wouldn’t get the goodies there on time. Of course I only found that out after getting to the last stage of the check-out process. I certainly could have used some shipping information earlier in the game.

Next I went to TigerDirect, they usually have the lowest price, and found that they were only slightly more expensive than BestBuy BUT they offered second day shipping. I’ve used them before and been well satisfied with my purchases.

Once again I wove my way through the shopping cart experience, not significantly different than any other shopping cart experience really, and got to the end where I could confirm that I wanted second day shipping. This is where Tiger made the information play…for every shipping option available the site provided the estimated arrival date of the shipment. Pretty cool huh? A great piece of information to include, yes?

Well… it seems that choosing second day shipping on Jan. 8 had the good arriving in California on Jan 15. Next day service got them there by Jan 14 !?!

I wanted to confirm this odd math so I first tried the online chat function which told me they were too busy to answer. I next tried calling customer service and after 35 minutes on hold I surrendered.

A new Google search lead me to ADORAMA. I’d never heard of them before but they appeared to have the items in stock. Once again I filled my cart, created a payment profile, and selected second day shipping. This site didn’t show me any estimated arrival dates.

I called customer service who answered straight away. I explained my situation, wanting to be sure that if I paid for two day shipping that it would in fact take two days. After providing the SKU’s I was looking for the agent confirmed that if my order was entered prior to 8:00pm EST is would indeed arrive in Thursday, if my order was confirmed later than 8:00 the items would arrive Friday.

They got my business.

TigerDirect provided the most comprehensive information of any of the three sites. But the information seemed wrong in context…leading me to my second axiom from the early days of the internet: “Content is King but Context is Crucial.”

It is likely the situation that The Case of the Odd Shipping Dates has something to do with distributed order fulfillment or in stock items or some such internal, logical excuse. I don’t care. Two days is two days.

In this case the vendor who presented LESS information won because they provided a significantly better customer experience.

As a result I now have a new bookmark for finding consumer electronics. Experience trumps Information, and sometimes, it even trumps price.

Is it your experience the eCommerce sites generally provide the right amount of information or do you find your self scrammbling to sort it out as often as not?

Customer Experience Failure of the Week

Our Christmas Holidays included some crazy travel arrangements this year. Amongst them was a last minute change of plans to drive back to Colorado from Palm Springs, Ca.

As will occasionally happen we found a great rate on a one way rental from Fox Rental Cars.

We don’t normally rent from Fox but every once in a great while they have a rate that makes it worth the extra little bit of hassle to find them off airport. While I’d rather enjoy the benefits of being preferred or gold or select I am not above saving good money when I can.

The vehicle we got was fine, an upgrade from our original reservation actually at no additional cost, or so we thought at least. Until we got about two thirds of the way home.

It was then that we discovered the wind shield washers, those little dealios that spray fluid on the glass, didn’t work. We discovered this quite by accident while driving behind a truck, that was kicking up melted snow, in a tunnel. The windshield wipers, faithful to their end of the bargain wiped grime across my field of vision so thick that I almost had to stop…something you just don’t do in a tunnel.

The rest of the ride home, several hours, was spent pulling on and off the freeway to wash off the windshield. Yes, we checked the fluid level, it was full. Yes, we stirred it to be certain it wasn’t frozen. Yes, we shook the lines to break up any blockage. Nothing.

When we returned the car the conversation went something like this:

Fox Guy: How was the vehicle?
Us: Fine except the windshield washers don’t work
Fox Guy: Yeah, sometimes that happens in the mountains when it is cold.
Us: We checked, the fluid wasn’t frozen.
Fox Guy: Huh.
Us: It was pretty dangerous a couple times.
Fox Guy: <nothing>
Us: You probably want to check that before you rent it out again with all the melted snow on the ground.
Fox Guy: Uh huh.

We weren’t looking for a free rental. We weren’t looking for a mechanic to run out to the vehicle to fix it. We were just looking for some acknowledgment that there had been a failure on the part of Fox to provide what we needed. Now, had they offered us 10% off or even a simple apology I’d probably have been satisfied. But not even a mea culpa? Come on!!

If you’ve been a follower of my blog you know I have strong feelings about how to handle this kind of thing correctly.

In this instance however Fox have been weighed, they have been measured, and they have been found wanting. Fail.

What customer experience wins or fails did you have over the holidays?



Bonefish Grill and The Importance of Being MORE than Earnest

Back in February I posted a comparison between two, quite different, customer experiences: Mike’s Camera vs Bonefish Grill.

For those who’ve not seen it the post tells the story of how each company messed up a reservation and how they handled it. It describes how Bonefish Grill had been a family favorite of ours but that they had so badly goofed on a Mother’s Day reservation that we probably would never go back.

Well, I’m here to say we finally gave them another chance. I’d received an email promotion for a steak and lobster meal that sounded too good to pass up so, against my better judgement, and swayed by memories of good meals, we decided to give them another shot.

The evening started off fine, we were seated quickly, and promptly served drinks. Then things started to slip a little.

We were told that they were out of one of the items on the specials menu and that the pork chops were gone as well. No worries, neither item had been on our radar. Moments later we were told that they were also out of tilapia. I thought it was kind of odd that they’d be out of so many different items at 6:45 on Sunday with no wait. The big issues now though was that the global tilapia shortage meant there were three or four additional items that were out of play and those items WERE on our radar.

As the server left to give us a chance to reassess our orders I leaned across the table and said, “If they’re out of the special I’m thinking we just leave.”

When the server came back to take our order she apologized for the tilpia scarcity and offered free desserts, on them, to make up for it. “Ok,” I thought, “At least they’re trying and they’re landing in the sweet spot for customer service so…good on ’em.”

To make a long story short…

The special was great, and in stock. The other meals were up to snuff, our expectations for good food exceedingly well met. Our drinks were kept full. All in all an earnest effort by the staff even if we’d been mildly put out by a certain level of snarkiness that would normally have been just on the outer edge of not quite good but barely acceptable.

Three desserts duly arrived and a short time later so did the check. Full charge for the post dinner dainties included.

Normally, with good food and good service we would merely have pointed out the mishap. But with a recent history of bad experience, snarky service, and a failed promise we’d had enough.

My children and I were all for writing “free dessert” in on the tip line on the bill but my wife is much nicer than we are so we tipped the staff somewhat below our normal standard and departed somewhat put out by the experience.

So what can be learned by the failure of a second chance?

1. You never know when a customer is giving you a second…or last…chance.
Because of that the level of service needs to be consistently high whether people are coming in for the first time or the last chance.

2. When circumstances conspire against you, up the game, for real.
Being out of goods isn’t the fault of the staff. But the ability to make it better IS in their control, or should be. When circumstances go bad you have to up the game not just with lip service but with over the top customer experience.

3. When you’ve lost a fan you’ve lost more than a sale.
Bonefish may or may not care if I ever come back. They can point to the fact that they swayed me back with an enticing promotional offer. Fair enough. What they have lost though is the fact that I no longer recommend them, something I used to do regularly and often.

Have you ever had a customer experience that took you from fan to ban like the one we just had last night?


The NFL and an Interesting Revelation

Somewhere along the way I think I must have missed something. It seems to me, and maybe I am wrong, that I used to be able to choose between two NFL games in the Sunday morning slot and two in the afternoon slot.

Even with the advent of Sunday Night Football I thought I still had my pick of two in the morning and two in the afternoon.

What happened to my afternoon choice?

Perhaps it is different in different markets but here in Colorado we get one game in the afternoon and it seems like it is almost always either a Cowboys game or a Giants game. Unless of course the Broncos are playing in the afternoon then we get them…but only that one.

As I started pondering this woeful dearth of afternoon football watching options during the Giants dismantling of the Saints and was struck by a startling revelation.

The NFL doesn’t care if I have choices.

You see, in almost any business providing choices means more cost. It can, and typically does mean more revenue as well but it can double or triple costs often making the additional revenues less than worthy of consideration.

Providing choice means there will be people who DON’T watch one of the games. Providing NO choice means people watch what they’re given.

My simple analysis was completed in less time than it takes for a boy named Suh to come up with an excuse for kicking someone in the groin but it did land me on a new customer type: The Addict.

Whether or not you consider yourself a football , or more particularly an NFL addict the truth is the NFL considers their customers to be addicts and I’ll provide three pieces of supporting evidence.

1. Other leagues have failed
Remember the WFL or the USFL? Who could forget the XFL? All leagues that saw the potential for an expanded football market, all failed. Even college football has a different kind of following than the NFL.

Of course this lends support to the leagues assertion that their product is unique enough that they have a corner on the professional football market…and addict fans.

2. We’ll watch anything with our teams logo on it.
NO matter what the challenge, replacement teams in the 80’s, back up who aren’t ready to play, replacement coaches, replacement refs…as long as it is our squads logo we turn out to watch.

Maybe that’s another reason people don’t watch the pro bowl…wrong uniforms.

3. Teams that sell out, always sell out.
This indicates there is no shortage of backup customers to be had if the current pool of season tickets holders and regular buyers should all suddenly contract the plague.

This steady stream availability, probably more than anything, makes the NFL comfortable with measuring out the goodies to their addicted fans.

Now of course I’m mostly being facetious here. But there is a nugget of truth buried in the midst of this madness. If we can somehow find ways to control output and build a big enough customer pool it may be possible for ANY enterprise to develop addicted customers. Mange to do THAT and you’re on the gravy train.

What do you think are the key ingredients for building a customer base that is addicted to your product or service?


Black Friday: A Customer Experience Perspective

Madness. It’s all madness.

I do not normally enter into the fray on Black Friday (what color will they give Thursday now that they’re stretching the shopping hours backward into Thanksgiving?) but with Walmart less than 1000 yards from my backyard and half off a premier item on one of my kid’s Christmas lists we decided to give it a “dive in / dive out.”

This wasn’t my first time truth be told. In years past I have ventured out on Black Friday. I just think it has gotten substantially more insane in the last half decade.

There is a distinct difficulty in starting BF shopping hours while the store is already open. Supposedly the sale started at Walmart at 8:00. I was to the item location by 8:04, having seen literally hundreds of them in place in the case earlier in the day…they were all gone. In four minutes? Really? Somebody had to have broken the rules.

To make a long story short we found both the items we were after and we got in and out in about 30 minutes. But I believe I am forever scarred.

In my observation Black Friday is one very specific time of year when the retailers do not care about the customer AT ALL. They throw out a tantalizing array of loss leaders and teasers then stand back and watch the feeding frenzy.

  • You were fifth in line so you get that laptop? Sorry we only had three of that model.
  • You came in at 7:45 hoping to get positioned for the 8:00 start and the shelf was empty already? Yeah, people started grabbing them at 7:00 when we put them out.
  • You stood for 30 minutes in what looked like a queue for Mortal Death Match 19 for XBox 360 and someone just walked up and got one ahead of you? Sorry, we can’t control this size crowd.

The ultimate measure of success for Black Friday is sales, fair enough. But I sometimes wonder how many customers get really ticked off at some particular retailer who either couldn’t think crowd control or who went in with low inventory on all the big sale items and as a result decides not to shop there any more.

Of course they’re hoping that we’re SO consumption driven that we’ll overlook those things that bother us and keep coming back like Pavlov’s dog.

So what lessons can we learn from Black Friday retailers approach to customers?

1. You CAN compete on price alone.
Obviously I am big proponent of service. Price has to be competitive but there are studies that show that customers are willing to pay higher prices for better service. Of course in a 12 hour rushed frenzy you can’t serve people well, you just need to get out of the way right?

I suppose I’d argue that if you choose to compete on price alone don’t be surprised if your customers start thinking of you as a commodity, something I may need but will get along without if I can.

2. Volume is king.
It doesn’t matter how much one person buys if you get 10,000 to just come in the door. That’s the thought behind the loss leader approach, get a bunch of people in the door knowing they’ll buy more than just what they came looking to purchase. I suppose that approach works too if you are basing your approach to building a customer base on a couple or crazy, gimmicky events. Loyalty? Nah…overrated, right?

3. Customers CAN be fooled all the time.
retailers keep putting out the teasers and consumers keep running in, many reveling in the competitive edge they got  by grabbing items at 2:00 and waiting in tot store to pay the sale price at 8:00, other happy to have shoved their way to the front and grabbed the last Mortal Death Mach 19. The vast majority don’t get the one big thing they came looking to get but went away with a few other items on their list, happy to have saved money…and they’ll do it again.

And now please excuse me, I have some sarcasm still dribbling down my chin.

What are your thoughts on the madness of Black Friday?



Social Media, Your Business, and You

I’m old enough to remember when the internet was just making the transition from quirky computer geek fad to mainstream attention grabber. Truth is I was designing web sites at the time, helping businesses figure out how they could use this newfangled tool. In those pioneering days, before you could really do ANYTHING interactive on a web site we talked about web sites as electronic billboards.

As businesses today are trying to figure out how to best leverage social media many of them are trapped in that same thinking. The “information super highway” has definitely developed some significant traffic patterns around social media lanes leading many businesses to feel that they need to put up billboards along those roadways of commerce.

The trouble is that this kind of thinking misses the point.

Allow me to share three truths then about social media, your business, and you

Truth #1: Social Media IS Social
The interesting aspect of all social media channels is that they’re designed for conversation. This is distinctly different than broadcast. The implication is that it is not sufficient to simply have a Facebook presence or a Twitter feed, you need to be willing to monitor and engage in conversation or your social media efforts will just be so much noise.

This requires effort on your part, it may even require guidelines for using social media to help employees understand what they should or shouldn’t discuss. Don’t expect long term benefit from your social media channels if all you’re using them for is another way to broadcast your message into the ether.

Truth #2: Businesses Can’t “Own” Conversation
Obviously you own your message but once the conversation starts you have less control over what is said and where the conversation leads. The corresponding truth here is that while you may start the conversation with a broadcast message there is equal chance that the conversation will be started by someone else broadcasting THEIR message about you… AND because there are so many more of them than there are of you the odds are pretty high that you won’t be starting as many conversations as they will.

The implication is that your social media efforts have to start from the position of listener more often than that of speaker and that you then must be willing to enter the conversational fray with sincerity rather than with marketing spin.

Truth #3: People Are Using Social Media to Create Their Own Brands
WHAT?!?! People have brands??! Sure they do. My favorite example is the Apple sticker that people have on the back of their car:

This isn’t just one more cute way of showing how many people are in the family that rides around in this van. It is a way of identifying this as a “Apple family”. I can honestly say that I have NEVER seen this done with a Microsoft Windows sticker or an Intel sticker or a Lenovo sticker. In fact I’ll argue that more often than not Windows people don’t admit to being Windows people until they’re in an argument with Apple people!

The fact that people are engaging in creating their own brands, and more importantly leveraging social media to create brand awareness, means that the demographics and market segmentation we used to use to figure out how to talk to people are starting to become more and more minutely defined.

The game is shifting from trying to figure out how to simply communicate a brand promise to now trying to determine how to get customers to integrate your brand into their own. Granted this isn’t as easy with some types of products or services as it is with others but thinking through how you allow people to identify their brand with yours can lead to some interesting new approaches to marketing, advertising, and social conversation.

By understanding and applying these three truths to your social media efforts you can more effectively enter into the conversation and remember, the conversation is happening whether you’re joining in it or not.

How is your organization leveraging social media today?



Customer Experience Shout-Out of the Week

It was a touch and go thing there for a minute. Usually I list Kohl’s Department Store amongst the companies that “get it” from a customer experience, or at a minimum a customer service, standpoint. This past week however they slid dangerously close to my list of “I don’t shop there any more” vendors.

Somehow, back in August, our usual Kohl’s Card back-to-school-shopping-bill didn’t arrive in the mail. My wife, who is ever diligent about such things, wondered at that, but we got caught up in the stuff of life and didn’t think too much about it. We eventually just paid what we owed based on receipts we had.

Unfortunately that payment crossed in the “mail” and we were charged a late fee in September. We didn’t pay it, we called in a disputed it, but apparently did THAT too late because we were charged a late fee for the late fee. Now we were expected to pay $30 in late fees for $24 worth of goods.

Again we called to dispute. This time we got a fairly rude gentleman on the phone who suggested that he could take off one late fee but not both. We countered by suggesting that if he bothered to look he’d see we had been Kohl’s customers for nearly a decade, never had a late fee prior to this, in fact rarely ran a balance, and that this was unacceptable. He countered our counter by saying he could remove both late fees IF we paid the one dollar interest charge on the first late fee.  Sheesh.

We agreed.

This month our bill had…wait for it…two late fees. The one he didn’t take off after we paid the dollar and a late fee on top of that.

I called once again. I wasn’t in the mood to negotiate this time really so after the requisite confirmation of who the operator was speaking with I launched right in. I explained the series of events succinctly and then said:

“So, I’m calling today to see if we can either get these two late fees reversed or to just pay you the thirty dollars, cancel my card and never do business with you again.”

The operator responded:
“Yes, Mr. Fletcher I see the conversation history here. Can you hold for just a moment please?”

When she returned, in what truly WAS just a moment, she launched right in:
“Alright Mr. Fletcher those charges have been removed. Is there anything else I can do for you today?”

I kind of felt cheated, she’d stolen my steam. At the same time I was glad it was so simple.

So what’s the moral of the story?

1. Companies with a history of good service will usually come through.
As I mentioned I have had good experience with Kohl’s correcting things that needed correcting. If I hadn’t I probably wouldn’t have given then a couple attempts.

2. Consistency is crucial.
I say this because if I had NOT had previous experience from which to draw I may have left them hanging after the first botched attempt. Making sure all of your service people can handle things right the first time is crucial to building those good experiences.

3. It all starts with the right attitude.
Attitude drives behavior. Setting an attitude that says lets help the customer goes a long way towards creating consistent behavior and developing quality customer experiences.

What examples have you run into lately of companies who have managed a customer experience save based on your past experience with them?


Do Churches Have Customers?

So with all the work I’ve been doing lately on Customer Experience I can’t help but as this question. After all I spent the first decade or so of my working life in churches. So for the sake of argument let’s create a generic profile of what makes a customer and see if it applies:

1. Customers start from a point of need.
Ok, sometimes the “need” is more of a want but you wouldn’t buy something you didn’t want or need so this is where a “customer” begins.

2. Customers typically do some shopping
There are certainly times when people make an impulse purchase but in general they do some research before making a buying decision.

3. Customers make a commitment.
Typically we think in terms of a financial commitment but there may also be contract terms like when you purchase a contract for cell phone service.

4. Customers repeat or defect based on service.
If the product does what is expected, in other words it meets the need/want, then service determines whether a customer makes another purchase or defects to a new provider.

5. Customers promote products they really like.
The end goal in getting satisfied customers is to have them promote your product.


In the interest of full disclosure I have to say that I have had this conversation with several “church people”. In every case the immediate answer has been “no, we don’t have ‘customers’, we have members. Our people are more involved than just being customers.” But really? Doesn’t that behavior list look a like like a church goer?

On top of that let’s think about some of the jargon we use around church:

  • “We all NEED Jesus”
  • People can be said to be “church shopping”
  • We ask members to commit or talking about “committing our lives to Christ”
  • Churches often talk about the “back door being larger than the front”
  • Church members “vote with their wallets” when the offering comes plate by on Sunday morning.
  • And of course all are expected to “do the work of an evangelist”

I’m being slightly tongue in cheek here but not overtly so. Is it possible that where churches start to miss the mark is where they DON’T think of attendees as customers? When I think of someone as a “member” or as part of a “church family” then there are certain expectations that go along with those words. Expectations like “sacrifice” or “volunteering” or “staying committed through tough times”. We might ask those things of family members but we’d never ask them of customers. Would we?

There is certainly something deeper about being a committed member of a church than just being a mere customer, however; I can’t help but wonder what it would look like if a church were to start to embrace some of the same principles that businesses use to create satisfied, promoting customers and applied them to their congregation.

What do you think? Would churches see a positive change if they were to start adopting some corporate best practices for acquiring and retaining promoting customers?

Migrating to a Better Customer Experience: Four Stages

Trying to sort through all the messaging, tactics, and analytics around Customer Experience (CX) can be daunting. Where do you start trying to create a better customer journey?

  • Do you look at beefing up customer service?
  • Do you fix what’s broken?
  • Do you build on what works?
  • Do you implement new systems?

The answer to any and all of the above is: Maybe.

There are certainly numerous pathways that can take a company from where they are today to a better envisioned customer experience tomorrow but allow me to suggest four stages of development that will help not only chart those paths to success but, in the end, make them shorter as well.

Stage 1: Assessment
This first stage is where you map out your current customer journey as it exists today. You capture all the touch points a customer has with your company. You capture all the places and ways data is stored. You determine what life looks like from the perspective of the person outside your company doing business with you and from the perspective of the person inside your company trying to know something about the customer.

The assessment stage is where you start to get to some understanding of where you’ve got gaps and holes in the customer journey, of where things get clunky in dealing with you and in your dealing with them.

Stage 2: Strategy
This is the one that jazzes ME most because I am a strategy guy. After you’ve assessed the current state of affairs you begin the strategy stage by defining a better envisioned future. This not NOT, “We will fix this gap or that hole.” rather it is a statement about what the customer experience will look and feel like when you’ve created the next generation.

The strategy stage next looks at how to get from where you are today to where you want to be tomorrow, or later this afternoon…we all want it faster don’t we? This includes both near and mid-term milestones and measures of success. You’re creating YOUR map to better CX.

Stage 3: Implementation
In this third stage you’re starting to implement process changes and, in some cases, system or infrastructure changes. You’re targeting the long term goal and measuring against your strategic milestones.

It is important to understand that this may be the longest of the three stages thus far. There will no doubt be immediate, near term, middle term, and longer term pieces of a implementation plan and so patience here is the key. Implementation may also result in the modification of some of those milestones you’ve created as assumptions are challenged or confirmed. You do NOT, however, want to start with implementation or it will go on forever.

Be patient, stick to the plan.

Stage 4: Change Management
If I love strategy I hate change management. It is always so tactical, practical, and nit-pickingly bothersome, but hear me in this: It is absolutely necessary.

When you start making large organization wide changes it is easy for communication as to the “why” to get lost. It’s been said that “Vision Leaks” and this is certainly true in any sort of company wide process or system change. The constancy of a good change management stage is what keeps everyone aligned with the strategic vision and marching in the same direction.

In truth change management works through all four stages but it leaps even more prominently to the forefront when you’re implementing changes that effect everyone.

Which stage have you found the most difficult when it comes to making big organizational changes?