Review of Thought Leader in Business Award Ceremony with Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney

On July 20th, we were honored to present Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney with our annual Thought Leaders in Business Award.

Congresswoman Maloney was first elected to congress in 1992, and she has been the frontrunner who has pushed for a long list of progressive accomplishments. Among which is her current push for government to prioritize cybersecurity. The recent cybersecurity attacks being carried out by nation states such as North Korea and Russia have put cybersecurity at the forefront of many high level discussions – both in government and in business.

We’re thrilled that Congresswoman Maloney has been repeatedly emphasizing the importance of this discussion – and that she’s emphasized the need for it to be ongoing. After the presentation of the award, the congresswoman gave a brief talk. In her speech, she emphasized not only the government’s role in prioritizing cybersecurity, but our role as individuals, as well.

Specifically, Rep. Maloney stated that individuals in the private sector need to put more pressure on those working in the public sector to acknowledge cybersecurity as a matter of importance. When citizens show that they want to personally learn more about cybersecurity and that they hold their government accountable to use better technology, the end result will be improved ability to mitigate risk.

In her talk, Congresswoman Maloney said that cybersecurity needs to become a policy focus within all government bodies. She believes firmly that any situation where customer privacy is being compromised is one that we need to focus on and work toward improvement. Currently, the Congresswoman is working on a bill that would require all companies who deal with sensitive information to comply with data security standards that many banks already adhere to.

Because these standards are already being used in Banking, Rep. Maloney sees no reason that they couldn’t be applied to all companies that provide financial services. The standards are scalable for both small and large businesses, and they’re intended to protect customers (individuals, businesses, and governments) from hackers.

Congresswoman Maloney is absolutely correct when she says that we as a country can’t afford to be at the mercy of hackers. There must be more communication between the private and public sector so that we can move forward together as a unified front against cybersecurity threats.

It was our honor to award Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney with this year’s Thought Leader in Business Award. Watch her video here to see the full ceremony and her Q&A session.

Thought Leaders in Business Discussion: 3 Surprising Lessons in Service Design

When we think about the traditional rules of business, general platitudes come to mind like “Go above and beyond,” or “The customer is always right.” However, service design is changing the way we do business. With these changes creating leaner business models and more streamlined sales, we should accept that there are new lessons to learn and new ways of interacting with customers. This quarter’s Thought Leaders in Business featured Tom Steward and Patricia O’Connell, authors of Woo, Wow, and Win! Service Design, Strategy, and the Art of Customer Delight. Tom and Patricia explored some of these lessons in our most recent Thought Leaders in Business, and some of them may surprise you.

Forget What You Learned from Manufacturing

Almost every business “rule” that we’ve learned is tailored to fit a manufacturing business model, but many of these rules don’t fit anywhere in a service design business. Service design is much more flexible because when the product we sell is a service we’re incorporating the human element. Service design customers are incredibly hands-on throughout the selling process. This real-time customer engagement with the service you’re selling leaves room for instant feedback and can cause some hiccups as no interaction is identical. However, this unique flexibility also allows you to maintain a much closer connection with your customers and provide them with a better, more tailored service – for both you and them.

No Heroics

When a customer purchases a manufactured product, it’s finished. The expectation is that that product will be fine-tuned, excellent, and consistent. This heroic sense of excellence has been lauded as the necessary but difficult-to-achieve goal for many organizations. However, when you apply this lesson from manufacturing to service design, it doesn’t translate well. Service design professionals attempt to meet this goal of excellence by going “above and beyond.” The problem is that you cannot maintain any sense of consistency with your customers when you work to exceed their expectations. Service design focuses on lean production and lean consumption – any extra “above and beyond” heroics creates confusion, and adds additional steps to what should be a streamlined, and most importantly, consistent process.

Don’t Surprise Your Customer

Related to this idea of maintaining consistency in your service design business is the concept of surprising your customer. The idea that businesses need to “surprise and delight” their customers is completely wrong for the service design business model. Nobody likes to be surprised when they’re expecting a specific service. Surprises create inconsistency in the expectations of your customers. Have you ever heard of a hair stylist surprising their customer with a new color or style they didn’t ask for? If you have, I doubt the “surprise” story had a happy ending.

Additionally, a customer shouldn’t be surprised when you complete the services they expect from you. In general, surprises don’t go over well in service design. Instead of surprising your customers, focus on delighting them by meeting their expectations. Let the quality of your work speak for itself – no surprises necessary.

Final Thoughts

The rules of business that have been drilled into the minds of business owners through countless seminars, articles, and white papers the world over make sense…for traditional product-based manufacturing businesses. Service design is its own unique business model, and should be treated as such. Whether your service business is B2C or B2B, you deserve to follow “rules” that don’t limit you and your business’s growth potential. The different set of expectations for both service providers and customers in service design are necessary. Tom Stewart and Patricia O’Connell gave an amazing presentation at Thought Leaders in Business. Stay tuned for the video to follow.

Stay tuned for the video capturing this event, and check out the slide show presentation here.