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Interview: Computer Games and Agile Leadership with Paul Ranson

Paul RansonIn today’s blog post, we break from our usual format to bring you an interview with Paul Ranson of Smash Thinking. I first met Paul at an innovative business conference a few years ago, and I’ve really enjoyed hearing about his innovative approaches to leadership and getting things done.  

Paul has been managing development and programming of graphically rich applications (mostly video games) since the 1980’s. He has been the go to resource for blue chip organizations across the planet making innovations for companies as diverse as Nissan, British Aerospace and Tesco.  He is a passionate reader of business books and has introduced new techniques such as Agile, Lean development or Visual Communication at the businesses he has worked at.

I recently caught up with Paul for a ‘virtual’ chat, and Paul shared some really interesting insight:


1. So your background was games design and development — that sounds exciting! What challenges did you face, and what techniques did you find to overcome them? Are these challenges specific to the video games industry?


Guest Interview: Customer Service, Marketing & More with Debbie Laskey

Debbie LaskeyIn today’s blog post, we break from our usual format to bring you an interview with Debbie Laskey. I really enjoy reading Debbie’s blog, and I recently I was really pleased that I had the chance to catch up with her for a ‘virtual’ chat. I was keen to share the insight I gleaned.

Debbie is a thought leader in marketing, management and leadership with a career spanning a range of interesting and diverse organizations and industries ranging from Disneyland Paris in France to insurance to law and accounting to nonprofits. Currently, Debbie is the marketing director for the Exceptional Children’s Foundation, a 68-year-old nonprofit that provides services for children and adults with developmental disabilities in Los Angeles, California. Since 2002, Debbie has served as a judge for the Web Marketing Association’s annual web award competition, and she’s also been recognized as one of the “Top 100 Branding Experts” to follow on Twitter.

Here’s a summary of our conversation:


So, Debbie, you have a reputation for innovation in all sorts of areas – but one  area that I know we are both enthusiastic about is ensuring that organizations provide a great customer experience. It seems so intuitive that providing a great customer experience is a win/win, so why do you think that it is that so many organizations get it wrong?


First, Adrian, thank you very much for inviting me to your blog, it’s an honor. I always learn from your posts and appreciate the different insights from your side of the pond.

Some businesses think creating a great customer experience takes too much time for training and just isn’t worth the ROI, but every day, I become more and more aware of the importance of customer experience marketing in the B2C, B2B, and nonprofit arenas. Maybe, it stems from my experience at Disney, or maybe, it’s because I have a passion for brand marketing. But whatever the case, in today’s social era, one bad experience can lead to disaster for a business, so it’s critical for businesses to train employees on their brand promise and also – and this is just as important – empower employees with the authority to fix every negative situation, and even those situations that top leadership teams haven’t anticipated. As Annette Franz Gleneiki, a friend and one of our customer experience colleagues in Southern California, says, “Empower employees to say yes even before a customer makes a request.”


It feels to me that customers are demanding more and more. In the past, organizations could get away with giving a bad experience – but now, that just seems less and less sustainable.  What’s changed?


Thanks to social media, customers are more savvy. They may not use the industry lingo of “Customer Lifetime Value,” but they know the value of a dollar (or a pound), and they know their value to a business. As a result, they have higher expectations. And these expectations revolve around a pleasant experience, whether it’s a visit to a restaurant, a clothing store, a law firm, etc. No business is immune from a customer’s expectations for a positive experience.


Does social media have a role to play in good customer service?