This month's issue: Creating extraordinary client experiences. 
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Simple. Powerful. Elegant.

A Newsletter from Creative Ventures

Issue #120

Big News

2016 has exploded for our little company!  If we were a restaurant I would say, “We might be in the weeds.”  I love that piece of urban slang.  It means you are so busy you may be approaching chaos.  It really means YOU HAVE BUSINESS!  And boy, do we have business.

February was the biggest month in the 31-year history of Creative Ventures.  Not only did we travel all over the country sharing our ideas and providing real application strategies, we also booked 17 new projects!
We are blessed with new opportunities, and our ability to customize our content is already becoming a defining aspect of our 2016.

Makes everyday FUN!   

Here is the latest OVER COFFEE VIDEO highlighting a strategy from our client experience platform DAZZLING BLUE: The Importance of Scale.  Colin did a spectacular job on this video!




From our program, 



"No matter how busy you are, you must take the time to make the other person feel important." 

- Mary Kay Ash

A great deal of success is always based on focus, particularly the ability to focus on what’s really important.

Robin Williams in the movie Dead Poets Society plays radical English teacher John Keating.  He explains what is important about poetry to his all-boy class. “Medicine, law, business, engineering: noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. BUT…poetry, beauty, romance, love…these are what we stay alive for.”  He was showing what’s important…and where the focus of his class would lie.
So, your products or services are necessary to sustain your company, BUT your customers are what you stay alive for.  Period.
In our Dazzling Blue platform we created a strategy specifically designed to take an ordinary client experience and move it to extraordinary.  It has only ONE moving part, focusing on what you can control.

People will forget everything except how you make them feel!  (Say that over and over out loud right now.)
The W Hotel is famous for this type of focus.  They call it Whatever Whenever Service.  I love it!  They look at every detail of the client experience as if they were looking through a microscope searching for a new gene sequence.  They change the mats in front of the elevator from Good Morning to Good Night to match the movement of the day.   They have oxygen sprays that refresh the air in hallways and elevators.  They look at guests not as nightly transactions but instead as short-term relationships.

You all know the classic service champions Amazon, Apple, Southwest Airlines, and Starbucks.  Their names just roll off your tongue.  They built their brands on how they treat you.  They focus on YOU, and that’s not easy.
Think about your various service and product experiences. When asked for an example of a great experience or a horrific (Titanic, Hindenburg) experience, you will invariably recall the nightmare before the huge smile.
Los Angeles International Airport is not a name that pops to mind when talking about a great client experience, but the LAX folks have shifted their strategic energies to the traveler.  They started with the basics: what do travelers NEED to know and how can we make sure they have it in front of their eyes and at their fingertips?  So a shift to quick and simple internet/web-based distribution of information about parking availability to flight info lead the way, followed by improved directional signage and terminal flight access points.  Simple. So, you start your Dazzling Blue experience with the basics, too.

Need a little extra motivation around the need to move EVERYTHING behind your client experience?  Here are some facts from the experts at McKinsey Consulting:
  • Clients are four times more likely to dump your service or product after a SINGLE bad experience.
  • 96% of unhappy clients don’t complain.  91% of them simply leave and don’t come back.
  • 70% of buying is based on how people feel they are being treated.

Using the idea of the Dazzling Blue client experience, U.S. Navy is creating extraordinary experiences for their sailors, their families, and those who have served, within their billion dollar retail operations!  Each moment they interact with a treasured person, they think – EXTRAORDINARY!



Do This!


Start at the beginning.  Take a hard look at the starting point for your client interaction.  What are your POINTS OF CONTACT?  Are they consistent and do they have cultural continuity?  If there is a physical space, what does it look like?  Is it welcoming?  How does the first person anyone comes into contact with represent your company?  Are they trained to make everyone feel important?  How do you answer the phone?  Make a simple checklist of every way a person can make initial contact with you and your company.  Then take each item, one at a time, and make sure it connects to the next step.  Forget about ordinary, make it extraordinary.  At the W Hotels they answer the phone, “Welcome to the W.”  Not hello, but WELCOME.  Simple but Dazzling!

THE SIMPLE THANK YOU: It’s amazing what the brain remembers.  Beginnings and endings have the top real estate in the brain’s memory hierarchy.  After you structure your greeting, move on to your thank you.  I am always pleased when I get a rare “Thanks for doing business with us!” from a company.  At Creative Ventures, communicating gratitude is the first order of business when we return to the office from a trip.  Do you realize what a miracle it is when some complex movement of time, place, and needs gives you a customer?  The company HEX provides fashion tech accessories.  It’s a small company that competes with the giants like Tumi and Michael Kors.  They send a handwritten thank you note with every order.  Handwritten!!  They have exceeded 13,000 notes and consider it the cornerstone that helped build their customer base.  Take a hard look at your commitment to gratitude!

The Dazzling Blue movement is about as far from easy as doing a complex geometry problem might be for you.  At the core of this idea, of a Dazzling Blue experience, is that everyone is responsible for the extraordinary result!  The price of extraordinary is vigilance.  Try this.  Substitute accountability for reliability, and you will see the significance of making sure people are engaged.  Here are three simple steps to gain the kind of engagement you need to make your client experience extraordinary:
  1. Agree to expectations:  At the beginning get a handshake to seal the deal for what is expected.  You don't need to have it in writing, but you would be surprised at the level of personal commitment that comes with a handshake.
  2. Coaching:  When people fall below expectations, give them some more coaching.
  3. Consequences:  Make sure you respond when coaching fails and things fall below the agreed-upon expectations.  Accountability has a real measure of consequences.  Think a three strike policy.
Walt Disney was riding one time on the train that circles Disneyland, and when it stopped he pulled the engineer off the train to have a chat.  “What business do you think you are in?” Walt asked.  “The guest transportation business,” the engineer answered.  “Nope,” said Disney.   “You are in the happiness business, and you’d better start smiling or you will be in a completely other business!”



When you think innovative companies, I’ll bet Taco Bell does not jump to the top of your mind, but you would be making a mistake.  Taco Bell has developed a new fast food mojo by becoming one of the most innovative food companies out there.  First they partnered with Frito Lay to bring you the Loco Taco (the most successful product launch in history).  Then they leapt into “active prototyping,” adapting a design principle to their new product strategy.  Approximately every five weeks the gang at Taco Bell introduces a new product.  They test their ideas in a live and open market.  If it works they keep it; if not, they retire it.  Innovation in the world of tacos!



The very term TV is now an old idea.  When you used to say TV, you meant the programming of 3-4 major networks.  Now it means everything, and everything is getting bigger and bigger.  The TV is now simply a device to access content.  Netflix just introduced its streaming in 130 countries in one day!  Facebook--in both streaming and app forms--went from 1 billion views in 2014 to 8 billion views in 2015.  Original content is spread from HBO to Amazon.  BuzzFeed gets 2.5 billion video views a month.  There is SO much good TV content out there that you could couch potato, bleary-eyed zombie yourself into an entertainment coma!  And guess what?  There is more on the way.  The industry is in an epic wave of change, and the beneficiary of this creative explosion is us!

At a recent client staff meeting, the participants were asked to take out their idea journals and start sharing their favorite ideas from OTHER companies.  This activity is a knowledge exchange.  Sir Isaac Newton said, “Knowledge is not definitive, but rather infinite.”  He kept a notebook filled with everything he thought was interesting.  Knowledge builds upon itself until it explodes into a revolution.  Albert Einstein called it “combinatory play.”  Newton said he stood on the shoulders of giants to gain his insight. Mix stuff up to build a new idea.  Give out journals to your team and have them start keeping an eye on things that interest them...and writing them down!

Here's what our clients have to say...

“We had Steve Harvill and Creative Ventures kick off our 2016 fiscal year with his Dazzling Blue presentation and workshop.  Our goal was to bring together those from across several key functions and continue our strategic planning.  Key to this was discovering how we can turn ‘blue’ into “Dazzling Blue” and Steve didn’t disappoint!  What is most fun for me is to hear and see what Steve talked to the team about in action!”


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