Tag Archives: steve jobs

The Indian Startup Saga 

During the last decade, we have seen a boom in the number of start-ups, springing up across the globe. But just a little before that, people used to fear about starting a new company and who ever tried was looked upon with weird lens. And hats of to the entrepreneurs who tried starting their venture before the startup boom where initially getting capital (pre-seed or seed fund) and secondly the entire process of establishing the company at least in India that was extremely bureaucratic and tedious.

Today there is help on both fronts where the access to capital is much easier and the govt has also relaxed norms. And that’s the reason India is among the top 5 countries in the world in terms of number of startups with more than 10k+ registered startups.

But before we get deeply involved let me clear who exactly do you call a startup. For me a startup is a young company that searches for a an unknown or unique business model to disrupt existing
markets or create new niches. Often we see startups creating blue oceans and not jumping in a red ocean and a trend where many have used technology as a great enabler to create differentiation.

Till a few months back and even now start-ups are the in thing and all aspiring graduates want to have their own company. As slogans of many companies say be your own boss, and everyone thought that all I need is just need a great idea to start a new business. Once the idea is pitched there will be a line of investors dying to invest money in the idea ultimately making the founder an instant millionaire.

But there is a swarm of startups that have started their organizations based on the premise that they want to solve a consumer problem. This to me a real startup who right from the word go is successful since the vision is to help the consumer. In this competitive world every company is trying the one up manship and in this rat race the focus on the consumer is lost somewhere.

Hence its critical for startups to keep the consumer benefit or solving a genuine problem in mind at the core. The moment a startup starts chasing valuations, the game completely changes and it loses its edge since all the key metric of customer satisfaction changes to get more topline. Also one more important value that is often overlooked by most startups is profitability as it’s all about getting the product / service right and then scaling it which needs more capital.

And sometimes the founders aren’t to be blamed since the investors too are looking for exits and hence the aggressive push on the toplines. We have more than enough examples in India like snapdeal, flipkart who have billion dollar valuation but profitability is elusive. In some cases profitability is no where in sight but still some investors go ahead which baffles me, there must be a strong reason but I guess ………….. may be its like stock pump more money when the stock go down to average buying costs. And that’s why we see no of deals going down but investments going up significantly, can be decoded as investors are putting more monies with lesser number of startup so they are now being choosy about who they invest with.

funding trend in india

I would relate this phenomenon with the gas guzzling american muscle cars which are very flashy & extremely fun to drive but suck out fuel like its nobody business.

Some of the top deals in 2017 led by Softbank, Tencent, Sequoia Capital, Alibaba, Microsoft, ebay, Tata fund, JERA, TPG, China Lodging Group, Naspers, etc

Funding in 2017

The govt too is playing its part by promoting startups and digitizing the economy to boost business and cut bureaucracy. But as compared to the other nations there is a long way to go but at least the seeds are sown not just at the top-level right down to the school level. Where we are competitions started for the most innovative idea and not just a project but a business project which will pavé the way to Indian version of Elon Musk or Steve Jobs.

 

CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE – HOW TO DELIVER AN ENRICHING EXPERIENCE

To deliver on an excellent and enriching customer experience an organization has to ensure that every touch point for the consumer has to be delightful experience. It could be as trivial as a call centre script or actually sending him a greeting card on a special occasion all of them are equally important. And most leading brands don’t consider this a priority and hence don’t pay enough attention to this critical aspect of the business that is the new mountain to be conquered. A lot is written about this but seldom brands practice this and those who do like Harley, IKEA, etc have made their brands EPIC.

CX Steve jobs

  1. Reviewing the current CX practices

Understanding the current practices or the performance of the organization in the customer experience (CX) domain is the first step in upgrading the current CX. This exercise will involve challenging the obvious and looking at other evolved categories like airlines, banking, insurance, etc that map their customers and use that information to offer better solutions in a customized way. Every process in the organization will have to be rigorously monitored like call monitoring, constant feedback from customers at all touch points and research on how the current CX can be bettered, CSAT (customer satisfaction survey), etc. All this data combined will throw up insights about how the customer wants the sequence of activities to take place and which are the non-value adding activities that are to be removed from the current CX. For e.g. banks have now started automated IVR services to cut costs but from a customer’s perspective it at times resulting many call-backs which spoils the entire customer experience.



Various malpractices, false promises by marketing, process disobedience and lack of control over customer facing teams is often the cause of lower customer experience. For the sake of selling products services or converting prospect into leads sales/call centre team give false promises and convert the prospect to customer. But eventually over the course these prospects become hostile and start negative reviews over social media which hampers overall brand’s CX. Lack of processes whether it’s the sales pitch process, script adherence or interaction with teams is another big pain area that spoil the customer’s experience. One simple thing like when a customer lodges a complaint he is given a ticket number and is asked to give that the next time he calls but often he has to narrate the entire story of his harrowing experience again and again till the resolution is found. This happens not just with local players but also with global MNC giants as well. Rather than recording the data and using it as an opportunity to delight the customer by resolution companies make the customer go through the experience 10 times before giving an answer forget about the resolution.

Infographic on CX

  1. Analysing Key Customer Journeys

This is the most important step in uplifting the CX for an organization as it will tell you where you need tweaking or revamping in the current CX. This could be data driven or gut driven (informed estimate) or could be as simple as laying down certain processes and asking the team to follow. Ideally it should be a mix of all since each method has its own merits.

To cull out the pain points within an existing CX one could start research that helps gather data on the customer volume in a given journey, reasons for call center complaints, and obvious gaps in performance—for example, discrepancies between promises made in marketing materials and services actually delivered. This will give a laundry list of key issues that now plague the CX and the same 80:20 rule applies here as well where 20% of the nature of complaints will impact 80% volume. This helps narrowing down the focus and next steps are thought upon.




A company should gather customer and employee surveys along with working data across various functions to assess performance and gauge how it is doing on the competition. Best-in-class companies use regression models to understand which journeys have the greatest impact on overall customer satisfaction and business outcomes, and then run simulations to get a picture of the potential impact of various initiatives. This exercise isn’t a small task and may take months to get a true picture of the current CX but the benefits far outlast the effort put in to do the exercise. This allows the CXO level to find various aspects of CX and decide which ones will worked upon on priority in their experience strategy.

customer_experience_lifecycle

  1. Re-modelling the Experience and Alignment

This first step in this phase is to actually show entire customer journey cycle to the respective team along with the pain points as identified earlier. The priority pain points are to be highlighted well with an impact in monetary terms to make the team understand the depth of the issue. Even if a fix appears obvious from the outside, the root causes of poor customer experience always stem from the inside, often from cross-functional disconnects. Only by getting cross-functional teams together to see problems for themselves and design solutions as a group can companies hope to make fixes that stick.

Secondly the most important aspect is to set up a goal or a benchmark which the team needs to meet, this will enable them to draw up plans about how to meet the goal and what help it needs from the management team. This ensures that there is complete alignment to a common goal and work towards the same with full conviction.

  1. Changing the mind-set

Plans made on paper are of no value till they are executed well. And even here re-modelling the CX is of no use till all the teams live and breathe the new model. Getting the changes done is hugely important and at the same time extremely challenging as well since it will mean a shift of mindset from the current ways of working. However, delivering at scale on customer journeys requires two high-level changes that merit mention here: (1) modifying the organization and its processes to deliver excellent journeys, and (2) adjusting metrics/KRA and incentives to support journeys, not just touch points.

And since CX does not fall under any particular teams KRA, it may mean there needs to be a team of people under the leadership of Chief Customer Experience Officer who would look into this, in case of a smaller organization added responsibility is to be given to members of the functions. This team needs to drive change by aligning and pushing the agenda in every aspect of the business keeping the customer in mind.

Once this its done the biggest differentiation for the brand would be the CX which cannot be duplicated by any other brand and will definitely help bring in more business at much reduced costs.

Great CX for a brand then translated into commercially rewarding experience for the brand as well

  • Amazon Q4 14, net sales increased by 15% over Q4 13
  • Apple 39.9% profit per product (3 months to end Dec 14)
  • First Direct Moneywise “Most Trusted” and Which? Best Banking Brand
  • John Lewis profit before tax up 12% in 2014 vs 2013
  • Disney Earnings per share up 27% in year to Dec 2014
  • Air New Zealand Earnings before taxation up 20% in H1 15 vs H1 14
  • Mercedes Revenue increased 12% from 2013 to 2014
  • Starbucks Revenue rise 13% in Q1 FY15
  • BMW 7% increase in vehicle sales in Jan 15 vs Jan 14
  • Boden Shipping 12,500 parcels each day

The Apple Story

Apple, formerly known as Apple Computer, is today a multinational corporation that creates consumer electronics, personal computers, computer software and commercial servers & content.  Founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak created Apple Computer on April 1, 1976, and incorporated the same in 1977. Back then the company was a manufacturer of personal computers only but they went through a rough patch which coincided with the period when Steve Jobs was ousted from the company.

Today Apple’s market capitalization is higher than Google and in fact from Microsoft as well, which still dominates the operating system platforms for desktops/laptops. Apple dropped the word computer from the company name in 2007 post their launch of IPod and ITunes. 2007 also marked their foray in the smart phone category which as we know revolutionized the entire category.



Apple financial statsThe first iPhone came in giving its consumers new and innovative features, such as a multi-touch interface and a new operating system. And they adopted a unique strategy of introducing new phones every year, where competition like Nokia believed in providing customers with phones that last for a lifetime. The models that followed the first generation are the iPhone 3G (July 2008), the iPhone 3GS (June 2009), the iPhone 4 (June 2010), the iPhone 4S (October 2011), the iPhone 5 (September 2012), the iPhone 5C / 5S (September 2013) and the iPhone 6 (September 2014).

Sales of the iPhone have risen strongly over the years, from around 1.4 million iPhones sold in 2007 to almost 170 million units worldwide in 2014. In total, Apple has sold more than 590 million new iPhones from 2007 to 2014 all around the world. In 2013, Apple has held a market share of 15.3 percent of new smartphone sales worldwide.

When it comes to smartphone upgrades, there are three different types of people. There are those who can’t wait to get their hands on any new model their brand of choice churns out. There are those who upgrade their device whenever their contract is up for renewal and there are those who stick to their device until it no longer works or becomes totally obsolete. Apple has truly taken innovation to a new level and it benchmarks its own products an year on year keep coming up with a better version.  And this strategy has worked wonderfully well for the company as they tapped a the first segment that is constantly wanting to update their gadgets. Although this segment may be a smaller segment as compared to the others but this segment has deeper pockets and hence in terms of revenue Apple scores far above competition.

Apple CEO Tim Cook told Bloomberg Businessweek in an interview last year, “We never had an objective to sell a low-cost phone. Our primary objective is to sell a great phone and provide a great experience, and we figured out a way to do it at a lower cost.” Even his predecessor Jobs believed in generating more profits than capturing share. The company has always come up with products that are distinctly differentiated, making its products unique and attractive to consumers. They focussed on a particular customer segment and maintained a premium price that has created an artificial entry barrier for all its competitors.

Interestingly, was going through a Gallup study which revealed that iPhone users tend to upgrade their phones more frequently than those using Android devices. This chart shows how often smartphone users in the United States upgrade their devices.

apple iphone upgrade cycle

This clearly tells us that if there is well thought out long term strategy that is based foresight and on a excellent product / its experience the outcome will be beautiful. Take examples of companies that didn’t move with time IBM, Canon, etc they had excellent products but they didn’t move on and got stuck and today are paying the price for the same. Apple went on from Personal Computers to now Smart phones and media/content which is how they are at the the top of the pyramid.

Apple product portfolio