• June 2015 – Get Lost. (in the details)

    Get Lost (in the details) Customer experience is often impacted by “small stuff”. So maybe you should sweat the small stuff after all. Faulty door handles on Tesla’s cars, a frustrating radio interface in Fords, and impossible-to-read serial numbers on Bosch dishwashers. Sometimes it’s the seemingly unimportant things that wind up ruining the customer experience. Are you missing any boring little…

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  • May 2015 – Can Big Hearts Create Big Profits?

    Can Big Hearts Create Big Profits? A company’s charitable actions can make a difference to its net profits. The “benevolent halo effect” leads customers to believe that the products of socially responsible companies are better-performing. Beware of bending the facts to fit a sales goal, though. Fast-food chain Chipotle is being grilled for “stoking anti-GMO…

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  • April 2015 – This is Not Your Father’s Industry Definition

    This is Not Your Father’s Industry Definition 20 years ago the idea of Apple making cars would probably have sounded crazy – it’s not even the same industry. But it doesn’t sound crazy now, and Cupertino is squaring off with Detroit. Conventional companies should be wary of their conventions – you might be in the…

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  • Chasing Growth Can Turn a For-Profit Company into a No-Profit

    It seems many companies today are chasing growth. As an example, Amazon invests most of its cash into growing the company. The goal is to solidify a position in the market first and earn money later on the investment. But that strategy doesn’t always work: nine years after acquiring YouTube, Google still hasn’t found a…

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  • February 2015 – No Debtors’ Prison For These Companies…

    No Debtors’ Prison For These Companies… Our students frequently struggle with the question of how much debt they should carry. Many come to the same conclusion as some leading companies such as Facebook and Visa: to have almost no debt. Debt has its advantages. It can be used to pay dividends, buy-back shares, or grow…

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  • January 2015 – Amazon Plays with Fire (Phone)

    Amazon Plays with Fire (Phone) A wait-and-see approach can help a company avoid the hazards of being a First Mover in a new, untested market space. But you can also miss an opportunity by being too late to market. A recent example is the Fire Phone. Amazon was not a First Mover or a Fast…

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  • Will Driverless Cars Run Insurance Companies Off The Road?

    Will Driverless Cars Run Insurance Companies Off The Road? They’re here – driverless cars. Another classic example of disruptive technology. What happens to insurance companies that insure drivers – who now don’t drive? Do they insure the car companies instead? And if there are fewer accidents, what will all the repair shops and parts manufacturers…

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  • August 2014 – Are Customers Really OK with Online Business Experiments?

    Are Customers Really OK with Online Business Experiments? Is messing with the minds of your customers sometimes OK, or is it mostly always wrong? Last month the online matchmaking service OKCupid said it purposely manipulates data to “improve their matchmaking system and help users find love”. And that it’s justified because, “That’s how websites work.” Or…

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  • July 2014 – Can Customers Like You Too Much?

    Can Customers Like You Too Much? Not all customers are good for your company.  There is a specific class of customers that could actually signal that a new product will fail. A recent study from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University describes these “harbingers of failure”.  These customers tend to have unique tastes, they buy…

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  • June 2014 – How to increase your customer base 850%, Uber-style.

    How to increase your customer base 850%, Uber-style. The evolution of technology presents a continuous challenge to business models – but it also allows old and new companies to gain unique competitive advantages. A recent example is Uber, a company that has developed smartphone apps that allow riders to book livery and ridesharing services with…

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