The Connected Company shows businesses how to navigate through the confusing and ambiguous world of the future.
If there is one theme that is common to just about every marketing book over the last few years, it would probably have to be adaptability. Businesses are advised to adapt to the growing complexity of our world with its technology, global competition, social media, and Millennials. Many of these books offer advice on how to deal with aspects of this complexity. You might find one book on how to market to Millennials. Another book deals with how to address your reputation online in a world where one misstep can be broadcast around the world.
Very rarely do you find a book that tries to address how a business should respond as a complete unit to these changes. The Connected Company, a 300+-page eBook by Dave Gray and Thomas Vander Wal, seeks to take on the challenge.
Companies Should Revolutionize, Not Reinvent
The crux of The Connected Company is that the old Industrial Age model for doing business will not work in 21st century. The world, the authors argue, is just too complex with accelerating technology, more competition, global- and tech-savvy customers, and a less-controlled marketing environment. Because of this complexity, businesses cannot address issues like customer service, business operations, and marketing as they did before. They need a new mindset.
To provide examples of what they mean, authors Gray and Vander Wal discuss the automated voice system that is often used when a person makes a call to customer service (“Thank you for calling XYZ Company. . .). The authors claim that the use of an automated voice system represents what is wrong with the way businesses are adapting to the future.
Most businesses view customer service from two angles, decreasing cost and fixing the output (a.k.a. “What’s wrong with the customer and what can we do so that they will stay our business?”). Because of this, the use of an automated voice system in customer service helps decrease the need for lengthy discussion (which costs money) and moves customers to a person who has been given very specific details on how something should be fixed. If he or she can’t fix it, then you are transferred or you’re out of luck.
While using an automated voice system for customer service may seem to save a business money and help customers with problems, The Connected Company asks readers to look deeper. Many customers actually hate using the automated voice system for customer service. They are often confused or have issues that don’t fit so neatly into a category. In surveys mentioned in the book, customers actually expect to receive bad customer service from their service providers. What makes this situation worse is that customers now can communicate with a global network of people. If a customer receives horrible customer service from your company, they can share it with a world of people compared to just a few years ago.
Changing your automated voice system only represents a part of the big idea, however. The Connected Company asks readers for nothing less than a full-fledged revolution in how they conduct business internally and externally. Readers are asked to consider how they divide up work and the kind of information they gather from the work. They are asked to consider how adaptable their business is in this era of change.
Revolutionize the Way You Do Business
According to the authors, only those companies that are able to listen, adapt, and evolve with the customer will survive.
Businesses need to tune in to what customers want and ensure they get the best possible experience. Customers have the option (now more than ever) to choose from a variety of businesses for their needs, so your business has to work harder to find and keep them. along with the power to broadcast how they feel about your business.
That represents potential, but also new challenges as well. The best companies will develop (and continually refine) strategies for meeting those challenges while tapping into their customer’s potential as ambassadors for their brand.
Great Exploration of Complex and Ambiguous Future for Business
The Connected Company does an absolutely amazing job of laying out the complex nature of business as we continue into the 21st Century.
Drawing on numerous examples from the past and present, the authors present a compelling call to action for businesses to review their plans for the future. It challenges readers to redefine commonly accepted concepts such as the goal of their business, their customer service process, and the organization chart.
If you are looking for an in-depth discussion about how your business can keep up with the times, this book offers a lot to ponder. If you’re a fan of “A Whole New Mind” by Daniel Pink, this would be the business equivalent to that book.
About the Authors
Dave Gray is a consultant, author, and founder of XPlane, a visual-based company that assists with change management. He can be found at Dave Gray and on Twitter @davegray. Thomas Vander Wal is a web designer and consultant. He can be found at Vander Wal and on Twitter @infocloud. This The Connected Company book review is based on a purchased copy of the electronic version of the book.