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Your customer experience sucks

This was going to be a piece about digital experiences, but we all know that digital is not a thing anymore, it’s everything. A huge chunk of your customer experience will have a digital element if not be completely digital. So lets just talk about customer experience, every interaction you have with your audience, from product, to service to advertising.

Transference, a simple word that now has a powerful new meaning.  A word that means to a lot of your audience, your digital experiences suck.

Humans are complicated creatures, but one thing we know is that we are a learning species, we evolve based on the information we consume and the experiences we have.

Our behaviours and expectations change as we experience new (and better) things. A powerful trait that is truly underestimated in the modern world as choice and change are just part of life.

When it comes to digital, there are people out there doing it better than you, doesn’t matter who you are, there is, we all need to accept that. We all live in a world where Apple, Google, Facebook, Uber, Snapchat, Amazon, LinkedIn all exist and in many cases they are being outdone by new competition and new experiences.

You know what they spend a lot of money on? The simplification and beautification of the user experience and interfaces, in many cases the experience and the interface is the product or service.

Your audience uses these things, they get used to them, they become part of life and their expectations and learned knowledge about interactions reaches a new bar. This new bar is set and they now judge everyone and everything at that level.

Their behaviours have been reset and their levels of expectations have risen, the scary thing for us all is that we are all now being judged by those new levels. It’s not even a behaviour that we know we are doing, it’s natural, it’s built in to our DNA as humans.

This is called transference. The way that humans transfer other experiences and interactions on to the ones you are giving.

It’s happening every minute of every day and the only thing you can do to stop it is be at the forefront of experience. Understand human needs and excel them at every touch point.

Locally in Australia, we have a problem with UX, XD and Visual Design, many brands don’t understand what it is or the importance of the craft. On the flip side many agencies don’t even have the skill set and view UX as wire framing (which is only a small part of the craft).

If you are a brand marketer, ask your agency next week how the UX and XD team in their business operates, what their skills and backgrounds are and how they apply that to your problems. The answer you get might just scare you.

And that’s why your customer experiences suck.


Reading makes you more innovative and creative

Over the years, many cleverer people than me, have shared that fact that both creativity and innovation are driven by access to information and the ability to combine disparate thoughts.

For many years I have read everything I can get my hands on and as the world has become more instant, bite-sized and short-form I moved away from ‘books’ to the digital mediums. Over the past few months I have been driven back the other way by the short-termism and so called experts sprouting crap that they know nothing about.

So in the essence of sharing, here are 4 books that innovative creatives should be reading:

Growth Hacker Marketing – This book feels a little obvious on first read, but actually if read with the right mindset you can start to envision a world without media. Which is a good thing!

Creative Confidence – Written by the guys over at Ideo, this is a great view on the world and how to release the creative inside of us.

Velocity – This comes from Ajaz Ahmed, the dude behind AKQA and with one of the top minds from Nike pulls apart the need for quicker, more rapid approaches to communications.

The 46 rules of genius – Doesn’t come more inspiring than this, 46 ways to actually be a more innovative person. Sometimes you just need to be told and told again!

Try out blinkist, a great way to shortcut the reading and see what you want to get in to deeper.

Get reading, get creative, get innovating.


Unlearn everything you think you know

Why do we continually create clones in the creative industry?

Why are we not training people to identify and solve problems?

Why are we stuck in Einsteins view of insanity?

Why? Because we are constantly looking backwards to drive forwards. We look at results of the past in terms of people, process and the work we create. What worked before will work in the future? Right? Wrong!

We need to unlearn everything we think we know, and keep doing that, consistently, monthly, weekly, even daily.

Constant, unfettered learning will allow us to use our creativity to imagine the future, to help brands and business to design their way our of serious and complex problems.

Advertising is nothing more than a group of people in a building coming up with ideas to solves problems. However, nobody is trained to identify problems or solve them. We are training a whole industry to take advertising briefs and come up with advertising answers.

In today’s world, advertising is an answer, but it shouldn’t be the first answer and it shouldn’t be the answer to every question.

Unlearning is harder than learning, we are all biased towards things we think we know. We surround ourselves with people who think like us, we read information that backs up our own thinking and we create pockets of bias that allow us to continue along a road to mediocrity.

Unlearning is a skill, that starts with the ability to challenge yourself and there are two main things we can do today to start the unlearning and relearning process:

1. BOOST – You need to learn to boost, in simple terms, to become a 5 year old. Never stop asking the questions why? and what if? We all tow the line too quickly, get on board the popular opinion. The champions of the future will be those who don’t accept conventional wisdom, who can continually BOOST themselves and others around them to get to a better problem and more unique and novel solution.

2. UNCONVENTION – Get out of your bubble. Mix with new people in new ways, look outside your category, your industry and your product set. Find people who can give you a different perspective on whatever you believe. UNCONVENTION is about truly filling your mind with things you wouldn’t normally consider, stealing from other industries, borrowing from others thinking. Challenging the norm.

These two attitudes and approaches will slowly help to unlearn the biases we all create and to push you in to new directions. In a few days I will publish the 10 questions every advertising person should ask on every brief for more help in doing things differently.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]


Not adapting to change is terminal

‘The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but building the new’ – Socrates

I learned a valuable lesson over the last week, I published an article on mUmBRELLA, challenging the status quo of the advertising industry and taking on the accepted norm. I threw out some changes that could be made, but I learned something that the quote above sums up perfectly. My energy for that period of time was trying to wake up the hilariously amusing, dinosaur industry that I actually love to work in.

Now, those who know me, will know, that I actually spend 95% of my energy doing, rather than talking. Every now and then, I pop out to rattle the cages of the old guard and then carry on about my business.

We are a funny species, constantly evolving, going through periods of massive change, but we hate it, we fight it and in Australia, we seem to loath it even more. Why change? The beaches aren’t going anywhere, the lifestyle is amazing, we are all having a great time!

But, and a big but, the wider world is coming to get us, Australia is no longer an island in the middle of nowhere that is a bubble for people to have amazing lives within. The younger generations are either challenging hard, or leaving the country, the brain drain is at it’s highest and as I have said before, the Australian younger generations have more in common with their American, European or emerging nations than they do with the wider population of Australia.

Let’s take this back to business. Businesses are in the most volatile time in history, consumers have power and choice, start-ups are eating their core offerings and the digital revolution is relegating entire industries to the history books.

‘Necessity is the mother of invention’ – Plato

Plato was a smart dude, and we are now in the time of necessity, the most agile age of the modern world. Never has there been a generational gap than what we have now and technology, science and knowledge is increasing at an exponential rate.

We all hate change, it can be dangerous, it can be scary, but, not changing, not adapting and not being able to evolve is terminal. This is as much for big business as small business and even down to our own personal careers and lives.

I was born with a passion for change and risk, and often think about what makes me that way. I think it comes down to a couple of things; pure confidence in my ability to make any decision work (not necessarily the supposed right decision) and the fact that I have failed on numerous occasions, sometimes spectacularly. Failing is part of change, the driver of innovation and something we all need to experience, get back up from and push forward from.

So maybe in this time of fear and risk aversion, the one thing we need to embrace is failure and the lessons, learnings and power it can bring?


The three things that kill creativity

The business world is in need of more creativity and innovation but we are suffering from a lack of freedom to put people in to a mindset and environment that helps creativity to thrive.

Here are three things that kill creativity and innovation that we can control today.

1. Having money – Money actually stifles creativity, it defines our thinking and brings a level of safety and ease to the solution. When a client gives you a budget to do something, human nature and learned behaviours will drive your biases to know roughly what the solution is before even thinking. Necessity is the mother of invention, if there is no necessity, there will be no invention. We need to remove things from people, limit the factors of ease and safety, make it hard, make people think.

Solution: Remove the budget from your teams/agencies until later in the process, force them to think without the constraints of spending cash.

2. Unnatural incentives – The business world is full of unnatural and personal incentives that drive us to do things for the wrong reasons. Sales targets and business growth targets that run over each quarter or even annually, personal bonuses that drive us to think about ourselves rather then the brand or business. These time based incentives make us do things that are fundamentally against the success of business and in most cases against the success of our careers. Creativity and innovation is then altered to meet the wrong goal and drive the wrong outcomes.

Solution: Give incentives to people and partners on the long term objective, remove the time limits and reward doing the right thing, rather than the enforced thing.

3. Driving to work – We all need to experience the environment that we are trying to be creative in, to experience the people we are trying to innovate for. Too many people (especially in Sydney), drive from home to the office, from one bubble to the next. For years I have walked to work, used public transport, got on the train, changed my route every few days, just to experience the world and how it changes. You learn to watch people, to respond to changes in their actions, to start questioning their behaviours. It hones your ability to think, to react and to understand human nature.

Solution: Walk, take the bus, get on the train, change one day a week, change 5 days a week. Look, listen, observe, note, record, question.


Get out there and take down industries

We stand here at the end of 2016 and what has changed? Nothing. The so called big players in nearly every large industry are being out-thought, out-maneuvered  and out-created by small upstarts who have one thing in common, bravery.

Never has there been a better time to take a large slice of market from those too big to fail, what are you waiting for?

There is a multi-billion dollar industry servicing the innovation agenda at large corporates; from agencies, to consultants to training. Every type of snake-oil available to try and make magic happen, none of which is particularly effective.

Banking, insurance, food, hospitality, travel, entertainment, all being shaken by super brave, people focused businesses that are totally ok with failure.

Many of the leading companies in each of the verticals will have innovation training, their own labs, probably even a VC arm. But it’s all lip service, the structures, history, management and incentives are completely adverse to ever being able to innovate.

More importantly, the human element is missing, businesses are still building products because they can, launching services because they think it’s a great idea. They take months, even years to get systems updated and tech lined up, only to work out, they missed the point a long way back.

If you have an idea, not matter how crazy it seems, if their is potentially a market to gain, no matter how big or established the competition, speak to some people. Find some like-minded individuals and formulate a plan. There are enough people like us here at antidote who are very experienced at validation, the time is now, get out there and take down industries.