On October 15, I was invited to the launch of Unify, the new name for Siemens Enterprise Communications. Giving up a heritage stretching back to the age of the telegraph is a courageous move at best. Like some of its peers with a strong history in communications, Siemens Enterprise Communications has been through a tough period recently. Like Nokia Handsets and BlackBerry, the company has had to reposition its business to regain lost ground. But this is where the comparison stops, for this move is a bold departure and is being put into practice differently:
Unify is not an evolution; it's a new beginning. As the CEO Hamid Akhavan announced the new Unify brand, there was a mixture of emotions; it was both a sad departure from the powerful parent and liberation in the face of a new mission — harmonizing the enterprise. Mr. Akhavan presented the brand as young, hip, and customer-focused. A fresh, apple-green Unify logo completes the picture; it is differentiated, concise, and a good base upon which to build a lively brand in the years to come.
We’ve probably all heard some story about over-the-top customer experience in our day. Like the story about the family on vacation at the Ritz Carlton, Bali. The family of a child with a severe food allergy was on vacation. The food they’d brought for their child spoiled en route. When they arrived, the manager of the hotel consulted with his executive chef who was unaware of any shops on the island that stocked the specialty items that had spoiled. But he did recall a shop in Singapore, where his mother-in-law lived, which stocked food the child could safely eat. So what did he do? He called his mother-in-law had her get the items and jump on a plane to Bali. For those of you who are curious, that’s a 3-plus-hour flight!
Stories such as these stand out for obvious reasons. But they don’t scale. That’s why companies need to focus on delivering great experiences, day in and day out, with products and services that meet customer needs, are easy to use, and are enjoyable.
It’s this last piece — enjoyability — that’s so hard to pin down. Why? First off, enjoyability is subjective. What one person thinks of as fun, another person thinks of as foolish. Skydiving, anyone? (I’ve tried it and think it’s kind of cool, but maybe it’s not your thing.) What’s more, many of the things that we think benefit customers, such as providing seemingly unlimited product configurations or service choices, are actually the opposite of enjoyable because they cause anxiety and hurt the decision-making process. And to top things off, it’s hard to sustain an enjoyable experience from start to finish. Ever been to a theater to watch an otherwise-satisfying movie only to be disappointed with the ending? How about being treated like royalty when considering signing up for a service only to be disappointed by how you were treated once you became a paying customer?