Blog #9 Assumption is the mother of all f*ckups!

What assumptions are being made in your business?

Remember that piece of advice your mom gave you that you didn’t listen to and then that thing she warned you about happened….well assumptions are the kinds of things that lead to those “ I told you so” conversations.  So, we thought for the last blog in this series that we would share 5 blindfolds you/your business is wearing which could land you in the hot seat.

Assumption #1: We know what our customers want

Well, unfortunately, history says otherwise. Kodak, Blockbuster, Hummer, Compaq…ring any bells? These businesses didn’t fail because of technology, they failed because they assumed that they knew what their customers wanted. It’s ‘epic fail’ examples like these that have led to successful businesses focusing and prioritising customer experience. Studies show that companies that lead in customer experience outperform others by nearly 80%¹  and that 84% of companies² that work to improve their customer experience report an increase in their revenue. So, if customer experience is not a key component of your business strategy, spare a thought for the cash you’re leaving on the table for your competitors. If you’re not sure how to start on this journey call us 😉 but seriously there is one simple question you can ask yourself that will help you to identify your CX gaps pretty quickly. “Would I buy this product or service from myself?” If you answer yes, congratulations! List your reasons and confirm these with your staff, suppliers, vendors and even customers. If no, this is great too! List your reasons, confirm with your stakeholders and decide what to do next. Starting the conversation is the first step in the right direction

Assumption #2: Build it and they will come

Very much related to assumption #1 is that the products/services you are developing for your ‘customers’ will be eagerly snapped up in the market. Don’t worry, this is a common mistake. Even the tech giants themselves have made a few of these errors. Remember the Amazon Fire phone? Google Glasses or Windows Vista? Well, they built it…but no one came. It’s really easy to fall into this trap especially when the data seems to support it. So how do you avoid this common pitfall? As discussed in our blog last week, this is where agile frameworks can be very useful. We highly recommend developing a prototype/MVP or at the very least testing the concept early on with potential customers and really taking note of the feedback…

Assumption #3: Oh, that’s not my job

This is one of Tanya’s personal pet peeves. We are always gobsmacked by employees with this attitude because 1) it tells us that you probably can help and are choosing not to and therefore 2) you can’t be relied on when the going gets tough/you’re not a team player. In a world where bots are performing surgeries and cars can drive themselves, do you really want to be the employee that’s always saying no? What if you’re the CEO who’s always saying no? How does that affect your company’s attitude towards innovation? And how does that affect your company culture? Are you missing valuable opportunities because the only voice you can hear is your own?

In exactly the same way that we form opinions about brands, we also form opinions about our colleagues and leaders. “Employee Experience” programs are designed to shed light on some of the issues that employees feel could be holding the business back. It’s also a great tool for two-way communication, where staff get an opportunity to rate their leaders. Why does this matter? Well according to Forbes magazine “Work gets done through people and highly engaged employees result in lower turnover, higher morale, increased productivity and enhanced business results.” Need we say more?

Assumption #4: They’ll get over it

Figure 1: The scandals from which some companies may never quite recover from both reputationally and financially.

Clockwise from left: In 2012, Bic released a range of pens designed for women…and well I’m sure you can imagine how that went down. 
The world was ‘shooketh ’when VW admitted that the CO2 emissions detectors in its vehicles were designed to give false readings. VW US saw stock prices fall 20% for two consecutive days in September 2015.
An attempt by Gillette to engage with the #Metoo protests led to a boycott of P&G products in 2019.
The financial crisis of 2007/2008 shook the world and forced many Americans into homelessness and unemployment. Ironically though, the very banks that caused the crisis received bailouts from the US government and continue to operate today (with the exception of Lehman Brothers).
A PR nightmare, drop in share prices and a large settlement ensued when United Airlines dragged a doctor off one of its overbooked flights in 2017.

Mmmm and maybe they won’t or at least not without extensive damage… The court of public opinion is vicious and with good reason. Most organisations haven’t really given us good reason to trust them while some have shocked us with revelations of how they made profits on the back of really poor ethical decisions. Success in 2020 requires a combination of great products, awesome customer service, dedication to relationship building, an ethical backbone and one hell of a digital media & PR team.

Assumption #5 The business needs me

And this is the one that irks Kelly the most! If you didn’t know this by now, then this is going to be a double whammy. Firstly, no one is indispensable (As I’m sure you’ve realised after taking a few days leave) but the real truth is this: Your business needs customers. It doesn’t need employees. OK, that’s a controversial statement but let’s explain. Apps, online shopping, virtual assistants, chatbots, SaaS and automation have transformed buyer-seller relationships to the point that reducing human involvement reduces mistakes, increases productivity, lowers resource costs, increases customer experience and ultimately drives up revenues. As much as you might hate to admit it, your own behaviour is driving this change and you expect businesses to respond appropriately. However, we don’t believe you have to be a technology guru to stay in the game, in fact, quite the opposite. For now, all you need to do is whatever the machines can’t…and then keep learning as they will too. So we’re talking soft skills here… empathy, imagination, negotiation, creativity, critical thinking, communication etc. Obviously easier said than done but in truth, this is how you will stay relevant as an employee in any organisation of the future. Don’t be blindfolded by your assumption (hint, hint: ego) that the company will be loyal to you because at the end of the day it’s just business, not even owning the relationship with the largest company client will make a difference if you can’t adapt and grow.

And there you have it, our list of disastrous assumptions that can have an extremely negative impact on your brand and your business. Remember though, that awareness of your blindfolds is just part one. Part two is deciding whether you will take action or keep your head dug firmly in the sand. And part three is about committing to those actions long-term so you can turn them into habits.

It’s been an absolute pleasure collaborating with Tanya Dreyer on this blog series, we really hope you have got some value from our insights and suggestions. 

Keep safe out there, 

Kelly & Tanya


  1. Forrester Study: Economic Impact of Qualtrics CustomerXM

  2. New Research from Dimension Data Reveals Uncomfortable CX Truths
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