Why it is so hard to see the world as it is

LinkedIn, November 7, 2012

The toughest challenge is seeing the world as it actually is, instead of how we want it to be. Once again, Nate Silver has shown that if you take your own biases out of the equation, the right equation works extremely well.
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Smart lesson = we crave human contact

LinkedIn, November 5, 2012

An utterly automated operation will never be able to fully accomodate human needs. No amount of programming can replace the ability of people to connect to each other. We need computers and sensors to do the brute force lifting, to monitor billions of data points and sort through them. But we need people to make people feel truly alive and inspired. [Read More...]

InfoComm 100: Ride The Smart Building Wave

Commercial Integrator, October 16, 2012

This year's InfoComm100 opened with an entertaining and enlightening presentation by Bruce Kasanoff, business consultant and co-author of “Smart Customers, Stupid Companies”, who focused on building strong customer relations and taking advantage of megatrends.

Among the many valuable insights he shared, Kasanoff addressed the rapid proliferation of sensor technology and the impact it will have on buildings of the future. He used the iPhone as an example of sensor density, with proximity, light and sound sensors, two cameras, accelerometers, GPS, BlueTooth, and WiFi, in addition to simple cellular.

Imagine when the building can tell you that people in your meeting are bored, just by taking advantage of sensors that are already included in many technology-enabled rooms? Microphones, cameras and WiFi can all be used as sensors to aid in understanding human behavior and its situational relevance. 'Smart' in the future means pervasively tracking, remembering and sharing important sensor-based information, and projections indicate that this opportunity is enormous. [Read More...]

Why Offering Discounts May Be a Major Mistake

Intuit Small Business Blog, October 8, 2012

“When you sell products based on price, you are always at the mercy of your dumbest competitor,” says Bruce Kasanoff, co-author of Smart Customers, Stupid Companies. “Anyone stupid enough to lower prices too far will put pressure on you to do the same.” A protracted price war can put you out of business if you end up selling at a loss simply to keep up with the competition. For that reason, Kasanoff is not a fan of using daily-deal sites to generate sales: “They encourage small businesses to commit pricing suicide,” he says. A better bet is to tailor pricing to customers – or groups of customers – based on their specific needs, rather than pushing a one-size-fits-all approach.
[Read More...]

Drive Customer Loyalty With the 80/20 Rule

Open Forum, September 26, 2012

By rewarding your top-performing customers, you’re enhancing customer loyalty and securing continued business from those customers who are providing the bulk of your income. Bruce Kasanoff, founder of Sense of the Future and co-author of Smart Customers, Stupid Companies, recommends allowing customers to create a wish list of products they want and the prices they'd be willing to pay for those items. When it's feasible, offer these products and prices as a reward for customer loyalty.

“First, a wish list lets you buy inventory with more confidence, knowing how many items and for what prices you can clear inventory at the end of the season. Second, it encourages customers to tell you what they like. Third, it rewards customers for their feedback,” Kasanoff explains. Using creative strategies like a customer wish list not only helps you nurture your relationships with your best customers, but provides you with useful information you can use to enhance your overall business strategy. [Read More...]

Four disruptive technologies to cash in on before it's too late

Digital Trends, August 6, 2012

Whether you're a budding entrepreneur or just looking to get ahead at your current job, keeping an eye on these four technologies will put you ahead of the curve.

Disruptive technologies may unsettle industry leaders, but they are a potential pot of gold for individuals who shift their careers to leverage these powerful new forces... [Read More...]

6 Steps To A More Mindful Company Culture

Fast Company, August 2, 2012

“Mindful” is not a word typically associated with business—but it should be. A mindful corporate culture will value substance over style, and stress single-minded focus over multi-tasking. Most importantly, it will focus on sensing and responding to what customers are doing right now.

Think a bit outside of the box and consider the type of corporate culture that can consistently create and support world-class customer experiences. Try to imagine a mindful approach to customer experience. [Read More...]

Interview with Bruce Kasanoff

The Pulse on Business, July 19, 2012

Butch Stearns sits down with Bruce Kasanoff, president of Now Possible and co-author of the book Smart Customers Stupid Companies, to learn how companies can be “smart” by increasing their flexibility and connecting with and listening to their customers.

Bruce highlights five indicators that distinguish “smart” and “stupid” companies, two of which specify that companies should avoid spamming customers, and that they should never close by supplying online ordering systems, mobile apps and 24/7 customer assistance.

Sensors Are About To Disrupt Your Industry

Fast Company, July 16, 2012

Do you really think your existing business model can remain unchanged as nearly every object on the planet acquires the ability to sense its surroundings, relentlessly gathering exabytes of data about everything?

Companies that think like a startup will discover huge opportunities; the ability to leverage these forces will dramatically expand the possibilities for start-ups and–more relevant for established companies–for entrepreneurial, start-up thinking. [Read More...]

Online Merchants Wrestle With The 'Creepy' Factor In Web Personalization

ReadWriteWeb, June 28, 2012

The problem facing retailers trying to personalize a website comes down to how the company collects its information, Bruce Kasanoff, co-author of “Smart Customers, Stupid Companies: Why Only Intelligent Companies Thrive, And How To Be One Of Them,” said in an interview with ReadWriteWeb. “Implicit” makes assumptions about what you do on the Web - someone who checks Boston Red Sox scores each day and reads articles about the team is probably a fan - whereas “explicit” makes assumptions based on specific inputs (I like the Boston Red Sox).

“Generally speaking, explicit works better, but participation rates go way down when sites require explicit personalization,” Kasanoff said.

The big winner when it comes to gathering explicit information? [Read More...]

Dear LinkedIn (and Facebook and Google): It's My Life. Isn't It My Data?

The Huffington Post, June 14, 2012

Yesterday, I received three identical emails appearing to be from LinkedIn, exhorting me to "click here" to change my password. This worried me for many reasons, not least of which is that I -- along with about 160 million other professionals -- entrust the firm with my data, and it appears they've lost some of it.

After all, if these really are from LinkedIn, they waited five days to recommend I reset my password, suggesting they're more worried about potential fallout than my data. Nor did they say a word about their massive security breach -- losing upwards of six million user passwords due to what is widely considered criminally weak cyber-security -- leaving it to me to figure out the broader implications. [Read More...]

Banks Still Sticking Flummoxed Customers With Frustrating Fees

E-Commerce Times, June 12, 2012

"For almost 15 years, banks have been giving lip service to CRM, but not actually doing much of substance to make life easier for their customers," said Bruce Kasanoff, co-author of Smart Customers, Stupid Companies "Lately, they've actually gone in the opposite direction, sneaking in new fees wherever possible, in an effort to boost their profitability."

Banks have still not made important reforms or improvements in their checking account practices, according to an update Pew Charitable Trusts made to a report it released in April 2011, "Hidden Risks: The Case for Safe and Transparent Checking Accounts."

The original report set out a discouraging list of banking practices that added fees to consumer accounts -- fees that were not necessarily easy to identify beforehand and thus avoid. [Read More...]

How Not to Treat Your Customers

Time, June 8, 2012

Let’s face it, if you’re an unhappy customer, it’s a lot easier to take your business elsewhere these days. So one of your top priorities as a small business should be to make sure your customers don’t have a reason to shop around.

Between the Internet, social media and mobile devices, it’s never been easier to lose a customer if they have a bad experience, whether the reason is price, product quality or customer service.

Companies have been slow to respond to the growing sophistication of consumers, say Michael Hinshaw and Bruce Kasanoff, authors of “Smart Customers (Stupid Companies): Why Only Intelligent Companies Will Thrive, and How to Be One of Them.”

Hinshaw and Kasanoff offer a number of suggestions for retaining customers – and for how not to treat them. For starters, your customer experience should be unified and easy to navigate, not a confusing maze. [Read More...]

Disruptive Innovation Made Easy

Harvard Business Review, June 7, 2012

On Fast Company's website, Bruce Kasanoff and Michael Hinshaw offer a nifty little primer for prospective disruptors. Looking to take an unsuspecting industry by storm? To start, try eliminating customer pain points. "Each industry has practices that drive customers crazy," write the authors of Smart Customers, Stupid Companies. Take technology providers' technical support, with its long hold times "hopelessly complex interactions." Is there something companies in your industry do that's just as stupid? "Identify these types of practices, and wipe them out."

Or you could completely undercut industry pricing models by, say, 90%. "Incremental change doesn’t disrupt an industry; radical change does," they note. You don’t cut prices by 90% through marginal improvements in existing products. You do it by asking, what customer problem are we trying to solve, and how do we solve it in a far more efficient manner? If such radical price competition seems far-fetched, consider how smartphone and iPhone apps have cut the legs out from under numerous incumbents, like GPS manufacturers. Looking for more? The authors offer up five additional strategies... [Read More...]

7 Ways To Disrupt Your Industry

Fast Company, June 4, 2012

Massive disruption is coming, and the only question is whether your firm is going to cause it or fall victim to it. Disruption is not easy--either to create or to confront. We have no illusions about that.

But in the spirit of helping established firms best serve their customers, we offer seven ways your firm could disrupt its own industry, raising the standards of customer experience and creating new opportunities for growth:

1) Totally eliminate your industry’s persistent customer pain points.

Each industry has practices that drive customers crazy.

Technology providers drive customers crazy with technical support that often requires long waits on hold and hopelessly complex interactions (“Just find the serial number on the back of your device and type that into the space provided along with your IP address and the exact wording of the error message you encountered”).

Unsurprisingly, this is the exact type of practice that causes customers to believe a company is behaving stupidly.

What practices exist in your industry that drive customers crazy? How do all companies in your industry behave stupidly? Identify these types of practices, and wipe them out. [Read More...]

Bruce Kasanoff Interview with Paul Miller

WPHM-AM Detroit, June 1, 2012

Smart Customers, Stupid Companies: Why Only Intelligent Companies Will Thrive, and How To Be One of Them.

Listen to Paul Miller's interview with Bruce here, or visit WPHM's Podcast page.

Tune In or Lose Out: Listening to What Customers Want

1to1 Media, May 31, 2012

As customers adapt to changing interaction technologies, too many companies neglect to break out of their comfort zone, limiting their ability to improve service and strengthen customer relationships.

As Michael Hinshaw and Bruce Kasanoff highlight in their recent book, Smart Customers (Stupid Companies): Why Only Intelligent Companies Will Thrive, and How to Be One of Them, today's customers are borderline superheroes because they are, in a sense, all-knowing, ultra-aware, and supersensitive.

“Right now, smart customers can 'see' traffic jams two miles ahead – and avoid them. They can 'sniff out' delicious food being prepared 5.4 miles away – and reserve a table at that top-ranked restaurant in an instant. They can 'hear' the falsehoods in the voice of a pushy, unethical salesperson and recognize the precise factual errors he has stated – and locate elsewhere exactly the price, features, and delivery they require,” they write in Smart Customers (Stupid Companies).

While these "superhero" customers are off saving the world each day, they depend on their technological sidekicks to keep them connected and current. Tablets, PCs, and smartphones provide access to unlimited knowledge at a moment's notice. This constant contact allows customers to find out everything they need to know about a product or service without stepping foot in a store.

Yet, while intelligence may be everywhere, companies across the board continue to behave stupidly—and customers are beginning to take notice, according to Hinshaw and Kasanoff. [Read More...]

Where Best Buy Went Wrong

RetailCustomerExperience.com, May 10, 2012

“It's a mistake to think of a company as being innovative when in fact they have been superb at execution,” said Bruce Kasanoff, co-author of “Smart Customers, Stupid Companies.” “Innovation and execution are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Innovation requires the ability to ignore convention. Execution requires the ability to ignore distractions. Best Buy focused brilliantly on its business model, but has not spent enough time thinking outside of the 'box.'”

The big box gone bad

Best Buy expanded rapidly in the '90s by buying up smaller chains and transforming them into its big-box format, a strategy that worked well — until it didn't.

“The problem with the creation of the big stores is that Best Buy is now saddled with the costs of that vast square footage,” Chen said.

And Best Buy failed to look far enough down the road. "They did not realize how fast disruptive forces would turn their stores into liabilities instead of assets," Kasanoff said.

Best Buy also failed to segment its retail customers. [Read More...]

Are You Running a Stupid Company?

CNBC, April 26, 2012

Instagram vs. Kodak: Smart Customers Sidestep Stupid Companies by Michael Hinshaw co-author of “Smart Customers, Stupid Companies: Why Only Intelligent Companies Will Thrive, and How to Be One of Them.”

When a pre-revenue company with about a dozen employees gets a $1B Silicon Valley payday, tongues wag.

Did Facebook pay too much for Instagram – the popular photo-sharing app that lets users take and customize pictures with their phones – or not enough?

Don’t know.

The bigger question is why a larger, established company like Kodak didn’t invent Instagram, or an app like it. They have the resources, the talent and the opportunity. What is it that stalled – possibly fatally – this once-smart company?

The short version is that they struggled unsuccessfully to adapt in the face of a changing digital world, filing bankruptcy even as photo-industry upstart Instagram was growing at the rate of about 1 million users a month.

But the real story is much bigger. [Read More...]

Instagram vs. Kodak: Smart Customers Sidestep Stupid Companies

The Huffington Post, April 24, 2012

When a pre-revenue company with about a dozen employees gets a $1 billion Silicon Valley payday, tongues wag. Did Facebook pay too much for Instagram -- the popular photo-sharing app that lets users take and customize pictures with their phones -- or not enough? Don't know.

The bigger question is why a larger, established company like Kodak didn't invent Instagram, or an app like it. They have the resources, the talent and the opportunity. What is it that stalled -- possibly fatally -- this once-smart company?

The short version is that they struggled unsuccessfully to adapt in the face of a changing digital world, filing bankruptcy even as photo-industry upstart Instagram was growing at the rate of about one million users a month.

But the real story is much bigger. Kodak, like hundreds or even thousands of otherwise successful companies, has yet to grasp this critical point: Digital innovation is enabling customers to act smarter than the firms that wish to serve them. [Read More...]

Smart Customers Abandon Stupid Companies

Bloomberg Businessweek, April 13, 2012

Before anyone accepts the job as chief executive officer of Best Buy, a company valued at about $7.6 billion, they ought to consider a firm worth $74 million: Kodak.

Neither company anticipated the disruptive nature of digital technologies. Both stuck too long with a formerly successful business model. Best Buy faces a huge challenge: Consumers use their stores as showrooms for products they buy for less money from other merchants, mostly online.

To be fair to Best Buy, my guess is that as many as one-third of CEOs at the largest companies are running the next Kodak—they just don’t know it yet. There is a chasm that’s getting wider by the nanosecond between smart customers and stupid companies. The former are increasingly empowered by 24/7 access to price comparisons, reviews, and advice from friends. The latter continue to drive customers crazy with their archaic ways of doing business.

Consider these examples of smart vs. stupid behavior... [Read More...]



How Disruptive Innovations Are Making Customers Smarter Than the Firms That Want Their Business

How does it feel to be CEO of a company with $700 million invested in retail stores, only to watch customers literally stand inside their stores and use their smartphones to order lower-priced products from competitors?

It ought to feel, say authors Michael Hinshaw and Bruce Kasanoff, like your future is slipping away if you don't change, and fast. It is an example of how disruptive innovations are dramatically shifting the landscape of business competition, giving customers the power to compare prices, check with friends, store their own shopping preferences, and avoid sleeping giants entirely.

But while customers are getting smarter, many companies haven't changed at all. As a result, the authors suggest that 40% of customers believe major firms act in stupid ways, and they make the case that acting dumber than your customers is not a way to stay in business.

In their new book... [Read More...]

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It is not a sustainable strategy to act dumber than the customers you wish to serve.

At the same time, everything and everyone has become or is becoming interconnected. Customers have smartphones loaded with apps that let them check prices, compare service agreements, read reviews, and check in with friends (and strangers) even as they examine your offers and products, and those of your competitors.

Consumers and businesses alike research, connect, and purchase online and over their phones without a second thought.

With these tools come radically higher customer expectations. Higher expectations of experience. Greater demands for personalization and customization. Lower tolerance for mistakes, for running through inane hoops, or for interactions that require mindless repetition (“... What is your account number ...?”).

In short, the world has changed dramatically, but many companies have not. Forget about innovation, they’re not even sure how to keep up. This is the challenge that your company needs to confront.

Companies that can’t pass basic tests of memory, flexibility, responsiveness, and innovation will die.

Among the many disruptive forces that are making it impossible for firms to survive with outdated strategies, four in particular are changing the basic ground rules for business competition and are the focus of this book: Social Influence; Pervasive Memory; Digital Sensors and The Physical Web.

Together, these forces will bring customers more choices, better information, and stunning new services. They are already providing individuals with tools more advanced in many cases than the most sophisticated commercial enterprises had just five years ago.

Put another way, they’ll continue to make your customers even smarter.

We’re just at the tip of this revolution.

For reasons that will become crystal clear as you read this book, established firms will need to reinvent themselves and disrupt their own industries to stay alive. With thousands upon thousands of very bright developers and entrepreneurs working around the globe to provide your customers with ever better, ever more disruptive tools, it’s a certainty that innovation will be coming to your industry if it hasn’t already.

Those companies who react slowly or tentatively will be increasingly marginalized, until finally, they’ll wither away. It may take five, ten, or even fifteen years, but eventually, these companies will be smothered by the competition and the growing demands of their ever-smarter customers.


Table of Contents


We are not talking about trivial change


Digital innovation is leaving companies behind

Customers start gaining superhero powers

Companies can’t be competitive if they can’t
stay ahead of their customers

Smart customers expect smart customer experiences

Key Takeaways


Beyond 1to1 to 1toEverything

Identify anything, anywhere, anytime

A framework for infinite opportunity and innovation

Innovators look through the eyes of their customers

What your customers could do with a pair of smart glasses

Technology is magic your customers need to trust

Key Takeaways


The four disruptive forces

Disruptive force number one: Social Influence

Disruptive force number two: Pervasive Memory

Disruptive force number three: Digital Sensors

Disruptive force number four: the Physical Web

Disruption favors the smart customer

Key Takeaways


Does your company behave stupidly?

What happens when smart customers meet
a stupid company?

Why CRM hasn't helped

Does this mean the end of loyalty?

Many managers don't care – and aren't paid to

Guess what? Your customers don’t care either

Dumb touchpoints anchor your performance to the past

Key Takeaways


A five-step system for acting smart and growing faster

Getting smart: a simple system you can use

Segment your customers by needs and value

Modularize your capabilities to increase your flexibility
and responsiveness

Anticipate your customers' needs

Reward your employees for win/win behaviors

Transform touchpoints (and make them smart)

In summary: It really pays to get – and act – smart

Key Takeaways


“If anyone disrupts this industry, it's going to be us.”

Welcome to simultaneous change

Be smart enough to learn what your customers really need

Start making your company smarter, now

Key Takeaways



Michael Hinshaw

Bruce Kasanoff