Where good (business) ideas die

Steve Hazelton
June 4, 2024
4 Minutes
Customer Intelligence

Years back I had an idea that every time a customer expressed some sort of "love" we would reach out and ask them to be a reference. The way this was supposed to work was that the Support/CS person would forward any happy customer to the marketing team as a "Reference Lead.” Then, marketing would reach out to the customer. Nothing groundbreaking here. If your business doesn't already do this, go ahead and give it a shot. Happy customers close deals for you.

And at the end of the first month, nothing. Why?

Do none of our customers like us?

Did our Support Team drop the ball?

Did the Marketing team drop the ball?

Did the customer refuse?

If you manage groups of people, you can certainly think of other examples.

Like, "Whenever there is a new customer contact, make sure you log it to Salesforce, dang it!"

Or, "Whenever there is a bug report, log it to JIRA."

The reference harvesting failure has stuck with me. It was so simple, yet it failed spectacularly.

I have three takeaways from this that guide me today:

First, in our world of "Knowledge Work" almost every new policy/idea requires a new manual task. Add it to Excel. Track it in CRM. I would say we've built an entire ecosystem centered on digital logging, but it is more like a multiverse. Every silo has its own physics with its own rules and workflows.

Second, every ‘silo-bounce’ increases the failure rate. "Take this thing from Support and log it for the Product Manager so they can recommend it to Engineering." Boing. Boing. Crash. Intersections are more dangerous than freeways.

Finally, whenever you implement a policy, it will fail unless you lean in and check on it regularly, and you probably won't. No coach, no team.

The future will be a much better place for your co-workers and customers.

Artificial Intelligence, after you do the hard things like building integrations, cleaning data, de-duping, creating a UI and then a data-API, will improve your business, your customers, and your life.

There will be no more manual logging. There is no need to ask someone to forward an event.

Your coworkers won't have the soul-sucking task of "logging it if it is important." Your customers won’t email managers, "No one has gotten back to me."

Until that time...

Tomorrow, your team will be assigned a new task to log something for someone else's team. Some people will forget. The other team will be required to read that information. Some people won't do it.

In three months, your CEO will be annoyed. "What ever happened with that one thing I asked for?"

This is one of the reasons my team and I started building Sturdy in 2019. There are too many people logging minutiae so that someone might find the time to read it. There are too many customers that fall through the cracks that could easily be saved. There are too many good ideas that die because of failed execution and lack of accountability.

It doesn't have to be this way.

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