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Making The Competition Irrelevant Through Blue Ocean Thinking

TelerX was a wonderful client, frustrated by lack of growth. An excellent telephone-based customer care business, they had a core of large clients and were well regarded in the industry. Where was the growth? Clearly, they needed to find a Blue Ocean Strategy® and get moving.

TelerX’s new president, Linda Schellenger, brought SAMC in to help. She liked the concepts of Blue Ocean Strategic thinking and wanted to see where the company was missing unmet needs of users and nonusers. We began the process by setting up monthly work sessions to engage the team and ensure we captured new ideas. Building the Strategic Canvas with the executive team was an eye-opener. Designed to help them see themselves as the industry did, and to compare their areas of strength with their competitors, they realized how similar they were to the competitors — they were really in a “red” ocean. Then we set the competition aside. Basic to Blue Ocean thinking is making the competition irrelevant. So we did.

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Clearly, if TelerX was going to build momentum and find new users, they had to stop worrying about benchmarking themselves against the competition. They had to find a better focus, think about their services in a new way, and capture a new market space.

Significantly, they did three things that opened their eyes to what was happening right in front them that they were ignoring. First, they listened in on their telephones and learned rather quickly that the average age of the inbound caller in their customer care unit was over 50. Young people didn’t use the phone as their parents had—they text-messaged, used the Internet or chatted online. This was 2009 but already Gen X and Gen Y, generations who had grown up digital, were changing the landscape, even for the customer care business.

Next, with our guidance they conducted culture probes in market segments that were different from their own and from those they served. In our experience, we have seen that innovative ideas for new market space often come from different market segments and across industries. The probes turned out to be very productive. The TelerX team were good listeners and came up with a treasure trove of ideas; many were “aha’” moments that came out of lunch listening sessions with companies that they were not servicing. Others were right in front of their eyes among their own customers but had been lost in the clutter of daily business.

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Third, TelerX began to develop testable innovations to take out to current clients, most of whom were not really focused on the changes taking place in their own industries or in the demographic and cultural shift underway.

After working with TelerX for the better part of a year, we together turned their ideas into a Blue Ocean Strategy that opened up possibilities previously undiscovered. Now they are turning those strategies into successful implementations, including online customer care solutions and innovative use of data from the call centers for their clients.