It is interesting to note how language affects the way we think about a complex business situation. If I say something is “hard” to do, quite often this can be inferred as not worth doing whereas experience teaches us that a lot of things that are hard to do are the ones that will yield the best returns for our efforts. It is similar with the word “Complex”. Often it gets interpreted as confusing, difficult or not easy to understand but we live and work with a lot of complex systems and don’t even notice the complexity underneath (think the internet or mobile phone networks).
When it comes to selecting products we want to buy we can also be faced with a myriad of choices for options and accessories that we don’t know if we need or not. Right now I am looking for a pair of hiking boots and faced with questions like ankle support, leather or suede, waterproof, what type of lining and a million other options. Quite often the sales person doesn’t seem to understand how each of these options would help me in my selection. Its complex! But there is a smarter way to navigate this.
First I start with what are my needs? Well I am going for a two week hike – so I’ll need boots that are durable and can cope with different terrains. It will probably rain, so waterproof gets a tick and comfort and support are important. Lightweight would be nice, but not so important if it affects durability, and so on. In fact why can’t a sales person ask similar questions to help me in my selection?
In business I find companies that are faced with the same dilemma and complex business problems. Their sales people may be good but they are often not engineers (or boot designers). How can we insert that expert knowledge into the customer experience?
At Cincom we support a diverse range of complex business problems. These businesses and have been able to utilise Configure Price Quote (CPQ) software that can translate the needs of the consumer into a selection list of the right options to meet their needs. The solution deals with constraints as well – so for example it stops me from selecting a lightweight boots that are not durable.
The Cincom customers that utilise CPQ to make and sell a variety of complex products such as commercial air conditioning, emergency vehicles, trucks, office equipment as well as telco and financial products like insurance policies and phone & data plans. Each business is different and use the software differently; the manufacturing companies make use of the ability to feed sales information about whether the product can physically & financially be made or not and the customer-facing businesses make use of customer portals to allow customer to configure their own products online.
Which is all fine and fantastic for them, but I’m still left bootless – Anyone got some suggestions for hiking boots?