Browsing Posts tagged innovation and business

Welcome to my blog – Innovation Explained.  My name is Steve Sponseller, and I teach entrepreneurs and business leaders how to tap into the power of innovative ideas to grow their business.  I enjoy working with innovative companies and have more than 20 years of experience counseling companies of all sizes in a variety of different industries.  I have worked as an Electrical Engineer and an Intellectual Property attorney – I am also the founder of my own company, Innovation Strategies, Inc.  These experiences give me a unique perspective on business from both the “inside” and the “outside”.

After working with hundreds of business leaders and innovators, I have developed proven systems and techniques to identify, develop and implement innovations in any business.  These innovations can grow your company by increasing revenue, reducing expenses, providing a competitive edge, positioning the company as an “innovator” in the market, and more.  I also “practice what I preach” by applying my innovation systems and techniques in my own company.  Keep watch for my upcoming book:  Innovation Jumpstart.

The first step to creating an innovation strategy is understanding innovation and how to leverage creative ideas in your business.  This blog provides regular information related to business innovation that you can apply in your own company right away.  Get your free report “Innovation Excellence” using the sign-up box on this page (top-right corner) to start developing your own Innovation Strategy.

Have you ever considered innovating your approach to customer service?

Companies have provided phone-based customer service for several decades.  Today, most companies continue to offer this option for customers or clients wanting to communicate with the company.

With the growth of the Internet and email usage, many companies have added email customer support and/or ticket-based systems.  These systems give the customer another option by allowing customers to submit questions or customer service requests at any time, and receive responses at any time.  This approach eliminates the need for the customer to communicate “live” with the company.

A newer trend is to offer customer support via Twitter.  This communication can be almost real-time, and gives customers yet another way to interact with your company.  Companies providing support via Twitter have at least one customer service representative that monitors “tweets” that mention the Twitter user name of the business.  These tweets may be specifically directed to the company or may simply mention the company.  Either way, the customer service representative can respond to these messages quickly – often within a few minutes.

Another new option being offered by some companies is a smart phone application (such as an iPhone application) that allows a user to submit customer service requests and obtain other information about the company’s products and services.

By providing multiple options for your customers to obtain support, you allow your customer to choose the communication method that is most desirable or most practical at that time.  Your customer service representatives can typically handle customer requests from multiple sources at the same time, such as telephone, email and twitter.

By allowing your customers to choose among several options for obtaining customer service, you are being more responsive to your customer’s needs, which results in happier customers.

Innovations and creative ideas for your business can pop into your head at any time.  These spontaneous ideas can be valuable to your business and should be recorded for future thought.  But, you never know when the next random idea will “appear”.

If you want to regularly develop more creative ideas for your business, schedule a brainstorming session.  Before scheduling the brainstorming session, be sure you know the best environment for your creative thinking.  Pick a time, location and setting that supports you in developing innovative ideas – read my blog post on Finding Your Innovation Environment for more details.

There are many techniques for brainstorming new ideas.  One technique involves identifying an unmet need in your own company or in your market.  Brainstorm for solutions to satisfy that unmet need.  Your solutions may include new products, new services, or adding new features to existing products or services.  Record all ideas you generate during your brainstorming session (using pencil and paper, a computer, a smartphone, an audio recorder, etc.)  You don’t need to understand all the details necessary to implement the solutions – just get the ideas recorded and you can work out the details later.

I recently scheduled a brainstorming session for myself to identify a list of article topics related to business innovation.  My list contains article titles and topics, but not the details of each article.  My brainstorming session generated a list of 28 article titles/topics in a short period of time.  I will schedule several follow-up brainstorming sessions to fill in the details for each article in my list.

Please share information about your successful brainstorming sessions here.

I’m often asked the question “How does innovation ‘fit’ in my company?”  Many people believe innovations are limited to technology-based companies or restricted to large corporations with research departments.  But, I have seen countless innovations in all types of businesses in a variety of industries.  Many valuable innovations have been developed in “non-technology” companies.

For any business I’m helping to develop an innovation strategy, I point out the following three ways to innovate a business.  There are other categories of innovation, but these three provide a great start and give all businesses lots of ideas to work with.

  1. Create Something New – Think about new products or services that can expand your existing business, or allow you to grow into a new market.  Consider unmet needs in your market, customer suggestions and continue reading…
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