Better-Faster-Cheaper: You Can Too!
Four operating principles of the new sharing economy
By Dorothy Wetzel
CEO, Chief extrovert of extrovertic
“We should have called Uber” said my colleague Jared as we stood in a New York street one snowy night, our Chicago clients shivering on the curb. I had resisted. These were clients after all. I was wrong. My fancy car service didn’t show. Uber to the rescue.
While I was comfortable using Uber for personal use, I had booked a fancy car service to ferry my clients around New York to our various appointments during an agency search. Clients, I thought, I couldn’t take a chance on this new type of service. I knew Uber was often cheaper and faster, but didn’t see how they could be all around better.
I had fallen victim to old school expectations of “Two out of three ain’t bad.”That’s what I had been told over and over again during my career, especially by manufacturing people. But if my personal experience with the new collaborative economy companies is any indication, the bar has been raised. Companies like Airbnb, Uber, WeWork and Task Rabbit are better, faster and cheaper. Here are four operating principles that drive this triple threat business model.
1. Investing in Customers-WeWork: Extrovertic recently shed our 5,000 square foot space and moved into WeWork Soho West. WeWork continually invests in its customer’s success by publicizing member businesses, teaching critical entrepreneurial skills and negotiating reduced rates for fundamental services.
For extrovertic, this community opens up a new talent pool of emerging health technology and communication companies. For example, there are 19 video producers in our location alone. And I bet they do it better-faster-cheaper than traditional sources. In fact, we are having extrovertic’s new website designed by fellow weworkers. Lesson: help your customers get better at what they want to do.
2. Continual Improvement-Task Rabbit: I hired a Task Rabbit in February to replicate my grandmother’s recipe box for my two cousins. As someone who was asked by her mother not to show her younger sister how to cut and paste, I knew the job was beyond my skillset.
The Task Rabbit procurement process was a little involved, but worth it. Fast forward a couple of months, Task Rabbit has completely changed their business model based on the extensive data they have collected on their Task Rabbits and clients. Task Rabbit simplified both the pricing and hiring process. Lesson: for businesses wanting to offer better-faster-cheaper, there is no set-it-and-forget-it mode.
3. Mutual accountability-Airbnb: A key factor in Airbnb’s success is because it is designed to provide excellent experiences for both the host and guest. And as countless business studies will tell you, happy employees result in happy customers.
At Airbnb, the hosts and guests rate each other so responsible behavior is reinforced on both sides. If a guest complains or mentions an issue, hosts are empowered to tell their side of the story, apologize or in some instances refute the claim. Moral of the story, if you want better employees, give them better customers.
4. Mobile from Day One–Uber: One of the best things about Uber is its mobile interface. It is so easy to order and pay for a car. Even my 88-year old mother ubers everywhere (ubers is now a verb). Design experts will tell you that you get a different result if the design process moves mobile to desktop. It is easier to improve and enlarge than edit and shrink (a progressive enhancement versus graceful degradation issue of sorts). And one-third of mobile web users indicate that they go online mostly using their phones. Lesson: mobile has to be the starting point.
Using companies like Uber, Airbnb, WeWorks and Task Rabbit saves money. Extrovertic is a big Uber fan. However, the larger lesson is to alter your business model to provide the triple threat benefits: better-faster-cheaper. The more customers experience better-faster-cheaper from the Ubers of the world, the more they will expect it from all businesses. In fact, many Fortune 500 companies are already using collaborative companies in their business model. Jeremiah Owyang, blogger and founder of the Crowd Companies Council, maintains a regularly updated timeline of partnerships between Fortune 500 and collaborative economy companies.Here are four ways to use collaborative economy companies and principles in your business:
1. Infuse collaborative companies into day-to-day agency operations-The easiest place to start is in your own shop. Task Rabbits don’t just set up IKEA furniture, they also do spreadsheets. It is a no brainer to ask your employees use Uber. Your clients will notice. In fact, in his excellent blog post, “5 Reasons Brands are cutting out Ad Agencies, “ John Winsor, CEO Victors & Spoils notes that clients, in the form of reduced fees and production costs, will be expecting agencies to do things in a better-faster-cheaper mode.
2. Augment your creative processes with collaborative economy companies. The beginning of any creative project is often the most expensive as it involves hiring multiple teams to generate a breadth of ideas. Why not try out Designcrowd.com or 99Designs to cost-effectively increase your options early on. Your experienced creative team can then further develop the ideas.
3. Help your clients connect with collaborative companies-One of the most interesting examples I found was how Walgreens tapped into Task Rabbit to help deliver cold medicines during the height of the season. The idea came from one of their agencies, the Ignition Factory, a division of the media agency OMD. Walgreens ran a 6-week campaign promoting the use of Task Rabbit to deliver cold medications. According to a MediaPost article it’s “the first retailer ‘in-app integration’ for TaskRabbit.”
4. Spin off a collaborative economy agency-Business strategists such as Clayton Christensen have documented how difficult it is for innovative business models to flourish within the confines of a traditional company. Implementing any of the four business principles of the collaborative economy detailed above such as mutual accountability with clients, would be almost impossible. You need to start with collaborative principles and practices built into the company’s DNA.
It may take time to hit your stride as a better-faster-cheaper triple threat company. However, even the smallest move towards the collaborative economy makes a statement to your clients. If your client sees you “ubering about,” it sends a strong signal that your company “gets” that the bar has been raised.
Dorothy Wetzel is CEO, Chief extrovert of extrovertic, a consultancy that delivers workable strategies, solutions and partners to help marketers succeed in a changing health care marketplace. Grounded in extensive client-side experience, our recommendations are practical, defensible and economical. Extrovertic specializes in working with small-to-mid sized health care companies, often at the pre-launch phase. Dorothy can be reached at 917-860-8124 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.