Maximize Company Growth with Tiffani Bova

Boost Your Growth IQ with Tiffani Bova

Tiffani BovaTiffany Bova has helped companies like Microsoft, Cisco, IBM, Dell, and more expand their market share and grow their revenues. Today, she is the Global Customer Growth and Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce, as well as the author of Growth IQ: Get Smarter About the Choices that Will Make or Break Your Business. Previously VP, Distinguished Analyst, and Research Fellow with Gartner, Tiffani is a top Twitter influencer in customer experience, sales, AI, the future of work, cloud, and marketing with more than one million Twitter impressions per month.

In this episode, she explains where so many companies get it wrong when it comes to growth. Listen in to learn the key components of effective growth strategies, why timing and sequence are so important, and what must be in place before marketing efforts can truly work.

Learn where so many companies get it wrong when it comes to planning their growth strategies with @Tiffani_Bova, author of GROWTH IQ. #growth #strategy #performance Click To Tweet

If you enjoy the show, please drop by iTunes and leave a review while you are feeling the love! Reviews help others discover this podcast and I greatly appreciate them!

Listen in:

On Today’s Episode We’ll Learn:

  • What companies tend to be so focused on that they forget to focus on growth.
  • Ways to leverage data and technology that are often overlooked.
  • Why sequence is so important when planning growth strategies.
  • The job of leaders when it comes to managing growth.
  • Where companies tend to get complacent.
  • What McDonald’s did to improve their growth.
  • Where Sears went wrong.
  • What the goal of growth should be.
  • Where Tiffani says both individuals and organizations tend to leave a lot of value on the table.

Key Resources for Tiffani Bova:

Share the Love:

If you like The Brainfluence Podcast

  • Never miss an episode by subscribing via iTunes, Stitcher or by RSS
  • Help improve the show by leaving a Rating & Review in iTunes (Here’s How)
  • Join the discussion for this episode in the comments section below

Full Episode Transcript:

Get Your Full Episode Transcript Here

Welcome to Brainfluence Podcast with Roger Dooley. Author, speaker, and educator on neural marketing and the psychology of persuasion. Every week we talk with thought leaders that will help you improve your influence with factual evidence and concrete research. Introducing your host, Roger Dooley.

Roger Dooley:    Welcome to the Brainfluence podcast. I’m Roger Dooley. Today, we have a first-time repeat guest, Tiffani Bova. Tiffani has one of the cooler titles I’ve seen. She’s a global customer growth and innovation evangelist at Sales Force. Before that, she was a VP distinguished analyst and research fellow at Gartner. Tiffani has a new book out with great advice, Growth IQ: Get Smarter About The Choices That Will Make or Break Your Business. It’s great to have you back, Tiffani.

Tiffani Bova:       Oh, well I’m thrilled Roger to be back, and I didn’t know I was the first-time repeat guest.

Roger Dooley:    Well, no.

Tiffani Bova:       I feel honored.

Roger Dooley:    No, I’ve had a few repeats.

Tiffani Bova:       Oh okay.

Roger Dooley:    I’ve been doing this for 4+ years now, so I’m not really running out of new folks, but there are some folks that are just so interesting, like yourself, that it’s nice to have you back.

Tiffani Bova:       Oh. Well, thank you for having me. It was great the last time, so I’m looking forward to it.

Roger Dooley:    Yeah. Tiffani, I enjoy Growth IQ a lot. You illustrate all your ideas with stories from real businesses, and as we know, that really is good for people’s brains. People like stories. Then you have some real illustrations in it, too. It’s graphically kind of interesting. There are little things that look sort of like snippets of what might be a whiteboard animation, that type of style of sketch, and some other things, so it’s really a very fun, easy read. It there a backstory for Growth IQ, Tiffani? How did you decide to write about growth and choose the path you did?

Tiffani Bova:       Well, it seems to be the question du jour, and here’s what I’d say is, I got asked a lot, get the opportunity to speak somewhere in the world almost every week, if not a couple of times a week, and they’d be like, “Oh, do you have a book? Do you have a book? Do you have a book?” Finally, three or four years later, I was like, “Maybe I should write a book.”

Tiffani Bova:       I’m not a writer in that way, so it’s great that you felt that the book was good around the stories, and that the sketch notes made it feel a little bit lighter, because I wanted to write a book that was something I would want to read and not something that was heavy and dense, over 300 pages, and you went like, “Uh. One more chapter.” So, I tried to break this up into 30 very distinct stories across 10 growth paths.

Tiffani Bova:       The choice to write about growth was, what should they continue doing, what should they stop doing, and growth is becoming harder, so it was a way to lay a framework which people could be much more decisive about the decisions that they make when it comes to growth and intentional, and that was really the goal.

Roger Dooley:    I would guess, Tiffani, if you asked CEO or business owner, everybody would say they want to grow their business, but do you see different levels of commitment to growth? Do some have a growth mindset and others profess they want to grow but really don’t?

Tiffani Bova:       Well, I’d say this. I’d say I totally agree. I think top of mind for everyone is that they need to grow, and they need to grow for a few reasons. You need to grow because you need to get the doors open and keep payroll going, pay for products. There’s lots of reasons why you need to have a revenue coming in the door, and so to be really clear, this book was about top line growth and not M&A growth or not cost cutting to then improve the bottom line. This was truly about top line growth.

Tiffani Bova:       Over the course of my career, for the last 25 years, it was this very interesting dynamic that started to show itself a couple of years ago to me when maybe I was open to it and I started thinking maybe I should write a book, is that people think it’s one thing when it comes to growth, like we should spend more marketing money. That has always worked, or let’s hire more sales people, that has always worked, or maybe we are going to cut costs, that has always worked.

Tiffani Bova:       I think people are realizing now, and companies are realizing that those same actions are not as effective as they used to be because the competition is different, and more importantly, the customers are very different. So, I would completely agree with you, Roger, that I think that everyone wants to grow, but I think some are paralyzed by all the options that they have in front of them of ways to grow, so that’s why Growth IQ, I tried to make it manageable. There’s 10 growth paths, which I think is a digestible number of ways in which companies can sort of evaluate and determine whether that’s right for them or not.

Roger Dooley:    Yeah. Well, I think that the way you express these paths lets businesses be a little bit more intentional about how they grow as opposed to the sort of telemarketing, “Hey, you’ve got to grow more. Ramp up whatever you’re doing.” Here, you’ve got some well-defined paths, but I think that … Well, you make an important point, too, that top line revenue growth is important.

Roger Dooley:    Again, everybody says it is, but not too long ago, a few months ago, we had Tom Peters on the show, and he’s one of your endorsers by the way, congrats on that, and he’s made the point that for all of the talk that you get about growth, many companies are so focused on making the profit numbers for this quarter that they don’t focus on growth. They, instead, are worried about cost-cutting, which he calls a death spiral, and basically trying to produce those sort of shareholder value results that they are supposed to be responsible for, which he also takes issue with.

Roger Dooley:    His approach is more, if you get your top line growing, that the profits will most likely take care of themselves if you’re doing it right, and if you don’t have your top line growing, then you’re not going to achieve the profit results no matter how much you cut costs one quarter at a time.

Tiffani Bova:       Yeah. I’d say this. I’d say businesses put a tremen- … I’m a huge fan of Tom. There’s a lot of love there between us, but he’s the red bull of management, and he calls me the blonde espresso of growth, so we go way back. But, I would say this. I’d say that there’s a lot of rigor that goes into business on the financial side. Now there’s even a lot of rigor going into the marketing side, especially around kind of the digital marketing initiatives.

Tiffani Bova:       There’s a lot of spend happening. They’re both from a technology investment standpoint, but just from a pure marketing standpoint. I don’t feel like there’s been as much rigor put behind the growth strategies, specifically top line, i.e. Sales is part of it, but as I call out in the book, it’s never just one thing. It’s this combination of things, so even if you have the greatest sales force, sort of two words, if you have the greatest sales force and the greatest marketing, and the products aren’t good, it doesn’t matter.

Tiffani Bova:       If you don’t have the right sales channel, and you have the right products, and great marketing, it’s not going to work, so you have to have this combination of things happening in unison in order to make the likelihood of you to successfully grow better. That’s what was really compelling about the book was I said, “You need to understand the context of your market,” and I think people get complacent in that way. Going back to what I was saying around this rigor, what is your market today? Not, what was it 12 months ago or 24 months ago or 36 months ago, like what is it right now?

Tiffani Bova:       Who are you having a more likelihood to sell to today? What does your customer look like? Is it different than they looked like five years ago? Are there more millennials? Are there more retirees? Are there more men? Are there more women? Are there more in the United States or more in Europe? What does your customer set look like? So, that to me was context.

Tiffani Bova:       The next thing was, once you know that, then you can make a decision of how best to grow, but many companies go, “This has always worked for us. We’re just going to keep doing what we’ve always done.” As I said, that’s not as effective, so then you have to pick what’s the right growth path based on the context of the market?

Tiffani Bova:       The third thing that came out in the book was the sequence in which you do it. So, timing is just super impactful. If you haven’t read Dan Pink’s new book, When, which is all about when you do things during the course of the day, it’s a great read because my timing and sequence was more about business decisions and it was, if you’re going to do something, do you need to do something before it or right after it in order to make whatever that is more successful?

Tiffani Bova:       I think people don’t understand that interconnectedness of the decisions that are made between context, the choice on growth and the sequence in which they make them.

Roger Dooley:    Right. What would an example of that be, Tiffani?

Tiffani Bova:       Well, there’s an example in the book, but the one that I think everybody can completely relate to is I use McDonald’s. I say, “They wanted to launch the all-day breakfast.” They were facing a growth stall. It’d been a number of years. Their menu had gotten grossly inflated. The customer experience and customer service had declined because the lines had gotten longer, etc, so they said, “We’re going to launch all-day breakfast.”

Tiffani Bova:       I’m oversimplifying here, but they had two choices. “Let’s just launch it Monday morning,” boom. They knew that the market wanted it. It had been asking for it for years. They’d been ignoring that request, or they say, “Let’s figure out what we need to do before we launch that all-day breakfast.” So, they determined that they’d need to shrink the menu, reorganize the kitchen, get all the franchisees onboard.

Tiffani Bova:       They needed to add a second grill if they were going to cook eggs all day. They needed to retrain the staff, and then they took the opportunity to say, “Let’s also modernize the establishment and sort of introduce some digital things,” but I’ll put that aside for a moment. Had they just launched the breakfast sandwich amongst a menu that was full, it might’ve slowed down the kitchen even more so because you cannot cook eggs and burgers on the same grill. The temperature is different.

Tiffani Bova:       It would’ve failed under the weight of that decision versus saying, “If we just slow down for a moment, we have to get through all the operational things we need to do prior to launching the all-day breakfast, we have a better chance of making it successful,” and it was a huge success for them for a number of years. It actually helped pull them out of a growth stall and they had a number of years where they hadn’t seen that kind of growth in some time.

Tiffani Bova:       It wasn’t the only reason, but remember, if they reduced the menu, improved customer service and the experience, the lines had declined, all in the goal, all having the goal of launching all-day breakfast. So, that’s a great sequence example. If they had done one before the other, it wouldn’t have worked. They needed to do the operational stuff first.

Roger Dooley:    Yeah. Now, they’re about to upset the process again I guess because they’re trying to switch to fresh beef, at least for their quarter pounders, so again, entails a whole set of different things in the stores before they can introduce that product, or at least introduce it without major issues of everything from food spoilage to just getting it cooked right.

Tiffani Bova:       Yeah, absolutely. There’s a great example as well, the context of the market. The market now is saying, one of the other case studies I do in the book is Shake Shack, which is all about high quality food, and so if they’re going to try to compete a little bit better against fast casual versus fast food, then they need to change those ingredients. Once again, the context of the market is changing. People are saying, “We don’t want this kind of frozen beef. We’d like to have this fresh beef. We’re saying it and we’re showing you that we want it by the fact that fast casual is growing exponentially at Five Guys and a Burger, or Shake Shack, all these other places.”

Tiffani Bova:       So, if you’re going to go and compete there, that is a watching the context of the market, the customer and consumer expectations, and tastes are changing. The brand has to keep aligned with that. Then, you need to step back for a second, say, “Okay. What are all the things,” to your point Roger, “What are all the things we need to do before we do that to make sure that we don’t put our customers in harm around the food spoilage, and then we need to make sure that our people, our employees are trained and that they’re successful in their day-to-day job.” So, if they just said, “Yep, we’re going to swap out the beef on Monday morning,” it wouldn’t be as effective.

Roger Dooley:    Yeah. The paths you identify, Tiffani, you’ve got 10 different ones in there, things like enhancing customer experience, finding new markets for your current products, selling your current customers new products, and some of these seem sort of fairly basic, but I think that it’s a thought process that people need to go through to determine which is going to be most effective. Would you say that a company should be focusing on one primary strategy or a combination of strategies? Is there a danger of trying to do everything?

Tiffani Bova:       There’s a few things. At the beginning of the book, I’m very clear. I would be surprised if a business owner or an executive read this book and went, “Wow. I’ve never heard of that particular growth path before.” That wasn’t the goal. That also wasn’t the ah-ha moment. I wanted to modernize many of the frameworks and many of the actions and growth strategies companies have had over decades, if not the last hundred years, and say, “Based on everything that’s changed from a customer perspective and technically, how can we approach those tried and true strategies differently?

Tiffani Bova:       That’s how I came up with the 10, but I would say that the answer to that question, Roger, is it depends on the context of the market and who the company is and who their customers are. It may be one growth path, it may be multiple. This was not a book that was going to say, “Here is the absolute way you should grow. Regardless of who you are, it’s going to work everywhere.” It’s really this story of almost Lego blocks that you can put together based on who you are, where you’re competing, what your products is, who your customer is, and you can define that build of your growth strategy based on the lessons learned out of the examples that I’ve given, which as I said there’s 30 case studies.

Tiffani Bova:       Each path has two positive case studies of where companies have reached a fork in the road and made a decision to double down on this particular growth path, and then within that growth path, there’s one cautionary tale where someone hit a fork in the road and made the wrong decision, or they made the wrong decision on a growth path and it got them into a growth stall. So, that gives both sides of the coin, where it’s worked, where it hasn’t worked, so that people can go, “You know what? I’ve been doing that, but I haven’t been doing it in the right order,” or “I’ve been doing that, but I haven’t been combining it with that, and that may be the reason it hasn’t been as successful.” That’s the goal, is just to get people to rethink and reimagine the mental model of growth versus the business model of growth.

Roger Dooley:    How do you think technology can inform these strategies? I think that is one thing that’s changed. You say some of these strategies have been around for decades, which is certainly true, but one thing that hasn’t been is the vast amount of data that we can collect today. You work for a technology company. How do you think this has changed, and are there some ways that companies should be leveraging data that they probably, they have or they could have but they just aren’t thinking about it?

Tiffani Bova:       Yeah. This is sort of the age-old question. If you’re a sole proprietor, technology can help you be more efficient. If you’re a small business and you start making more technology purchases, sometimes it can be overwhelming, and then as you get to a medium business and large business and you’ve been in business for a number of years, all of a sudden you feel like you have a number of things and you don’t know which way to turn. Technology can be super empowering and really impactful on helping you just be a better high performing organization, sales, marketing, customer service.

Tiffani Bova:       Then obviously on the financial side, but you have to be willing to use it appropriately, meaning that when you acquire something, you may only want it for one thing and it does 10 things. Because you only want it for one thing, you never try the other nine. This is where I think both individuals and organizations leave a lot of value on the table, and not just because I work for a technology company but because I’ve been an individual contributing sales rep in the past where I only had a Rolodex and a post-it note. It’s come a long way since then.

Tiffani Bova:       I had a single user version of Act, and all it did was sort of schedule and contact for me, and I could track things. With the power of technology today, we still have sales people that only hit 50% of their quota, -ish, sort of roughly, and spend some upwards of the high 50% range in non-selling activities. So, that alone, one of the paths is optimizing sales, if you can get your sellers to just improve performance 2 to 5% per individual, it’s huge for a small, medium and if you’re a very large company of thousands of sales reps, if you could get a third of your sales reps to improve quota by 2 to 5%, you’d be a hero as a sales leader.

Tiffani Bova:       So, it doesn’t need to be huge moves. It just needs to be incremental improvements, and so technology now has the ability to do it, but you have to be willing to use it. You can’t just buy it and expect it to work on your behalf if you don’t put in the work yourself.

Roger Dooley:    Yeah. I think every business, you’re collecting customer data, and most of it goes completely unused or unlooked at. I think about the amount of data that can be collected on websites as far as what people, how they navigate, what are they clicking on, what are they trying to click on that isn’t actually clickable, what are they searching for where they get no results or they get inappropriate results that causes them to have to reword their search five times, and all these things are sort of there for the taking, but as you say, it can be kind of overwhelming, especially in smaller organizations. Even in big organizations, typically we don’t have people who are sitting around looking for stuff to do. Even in big organizations, everybody is kind of overworked and has too many things on their plate.

Tiffani Bova:       That goes back to what I was just saying. I think that it’s because that’s the way we’ve always worked. If you just take a second … I’m just going to give this example, there’s so much data as you said out there. My neighbor actually owned a handful of wireless stores, about a half dozen. He came over one afternoon, he’s like, “Hey, I’ve got this idea. I want to put cameras in my store. I want to see what time traffic is coming into the store, how they’re walking around the store, if my people are helping them, what things are they buying,” and it was all really good ideas.

Tiffani Bova:       So I looked at him and I said, “Tell me this. Are you going to watch the video?” He’s like, “Well, I don’t know. Maybe.” I’m like, “So then, why would you record it?” Then, he goes, “Okay, okay. I’ll watch the video,” and I go, “Okay, so let’s play that out. Let’s say you watch the video, and let’s say that everybody walks into the store and goes to the right,” just for story sake, “Goes to the right, but everything you want them to buy is on the left. Are you going to rearrange your store?”

Tiffani Bova:       He’s like, “Probably not.” I’m like, “Okay then. Why do you need the video? Why do you need the data? Why would you spend the time?” So, one of the things around data and one of the things around technology is, once you know something, are you going to action it? If you know you should only call these 10 people because you have a higher likelihood to close business, but your gut, which has worked for you by the way for 20 years of selling, tells you to call those five people, what are you going to do? Are you going to listen to artificial intelligence, machine learning and analytics out of a CRM system that says, “Call these 10 people,” or are you going to listen to your gut that says, “Call these five”? That’s the big question, right?

Roger Dooley:    Right. I certainly can’t argue with that, Tiffani. So often we implement things that we think are going to have all these benefits, we just fail to use the tools that they provide us. Either we’re too busy or just “Well, that sounded good, but I don’t really have time to mess with that.” Today, I saw a headline about Sears closing another few dozen stores, and they are one of the case studies in your book. What did Sears do right, or did they do anything right? Where did they go so badly wrong?

Tiffani Bova:       Well, that story was a tough one for me to write because as a kid, I was born and raised in Hawaii, and all we had was a Sears catalog to shop because we were in the middle of the Pacific. We didn’t have big retail stores. We had Sears. We had JC Penny’s but we didn’t have any of the sort of mainland stores until really just the last decade or so. So, as a kid, I ordered out of the Sears catalog.

Tiffani Bova:       Well, if you think about it, the Sears catalog is basically what Amazon is, it was just in a book. They had all the customer information. They knew what I bought over time. They had Sears cards, they had credit cards, they had loyalty programs. They were very early on getting people online. They had huge footprint in the kitchen. They own some of the major brands in appliances, yet what they didn’t do was say, “We’re going to own Smart Homes. We’re going to take all this information that we know and we’re going to make the products that we sell and the services that we deliver more compelling. We’re going to focus on experience instead of just being a place that people came because they’ve always come.”

Tiffani Bova:       So, Sears is one of those stories that, retail is growing. Good retail is growing. Why do you see online, direct-to-consumer retailers buying or opening storefronts? From Amazon to Warby Parker, you’ve got a number of stores that are now, born online, now opening retail storefronts where everyone’s screaming that everyone’s going from retail storefronts to online. It’s one of those, it’s going to be a study, a case study, for years to come, and I didn’t do it as much justice as was deserved in all the things that I thought they didn’t take advantage of, but the context of the market shifted around them and they just kept true to their course.

Tiffani Bova:       You can walk into a Sears today, and I could’ve walked into that Sears store in 1975, 85, 95, 2005, 2015, and it would almost feel exactly the same. That’s where you know that they just haven’t put the investment behind it to do the things they needed to do for the consumer.

Roger Dooley:    Yeah, and then really selling off their crown jewels, too.

Tiffani Bova:       That killed me.

Roger Dooley:    Yeah, I really find it a very sad story. Not that I was ever in love with Sears, but it’s just, they were such a powerful brand, and to see them do all these things that every one of them just puts a little bit, one more step in the grave. To me, there’s no doubt that’s where they’re going to be eventually. I don’t see how they can reverse this. They have to emerge with something way different and a lot smaller if they’re going to live at all.

Tiffani Bova:       Yeah, and this goes back to what I was just saying. Nobody owned the kitchen appliances and the home appliances like Sears did, and so if you think about the market shifting to Smart Homes, let’s just say that, remember the Maytag repairman commercials. I’m really going to date myself for those listening to this podcast-

Roger Dooley:    Well, you already did with your comment about Act, I think, Tiffani, so it’s okay.

Tiffani Bova:       Yeah… Okay, good. All right, so I’m old. So the Maytag repairman, now you just think about, everyone’s trying to get into the home. Everyone’s trying to get into the home. Sears was already in the home, they could’ve owned the Smart Home market as it related to kitchen and appliances, and washer and dryers, and all the things that are going on from a Smart Home perspective, and they just didn’t.

Tiffani Bova:       I think that it has a lot to do … Listen, they’re a hundred-year-old plus company, and so people listening to this, it is not as easy to shift the mindset and the culture and the business model of a company that’s been around for a number of decades as easy as it is when people compare a Blockbuster to Netflix that started from the ground up when technology was … You know what I mean? They didn’t have any baggage to carry with them, huge footprints of real estate, assets, which are very expensive, … the Sears problem.

Tiffani Bova:       I think we’re over square-footed in the US, number one, and they never shrunk their footprint until it was sort of too late, but if you think about that, many people, when they go, “I don’t want to be Uberized, the challenge is, we’re in a business already, and so how do we keep the wheels on the car, or keep the car going around the track as we’re changing the tires? So, if you’re an existing business, i.e. someone like a Sears, and that big, very hard to go, “Ah, we’re just going to digitally go into the kitchen.” Like, “Yeah, everything that I just heard Tiffani say or I read in Growth IQ, that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”

Tiffani Bova:       It’s much easier for me to put in a book, but make no mistake, this is not easy work. Transforming culture, transforming mental models, transforming business models happen with a lot of work, so if you’re a leader and you’re listening to this, it’s your job to inspire your people and to get them to understand their role in this transformation, what you expect of them, and why you’re doing it. Spend the time to tell them why.

Tiffani Bova:       I think if you can rally your organization around the decisions that you’re making as it relates to growth, there’s no stopping you. Right there, fully committed and onboard, they believe in you and they will run through a wall for you to support the growth of the business because they will feel pride in the work that they do. There’s just no amount of money that can buy that kind of commitment from employees, so if you’re going to go down this path and try to transform, you have to do the hard work as a leader.

Roger Dooley:    You just mentioned home automation. You touch on that in the book, too, Tiffani. That’s an area that’s fascinated me since the 80’s. I was involved in the early days when the Smart House was a thing, a project of the Home Builders Association and whatnot. You say it’s going to take off like a rocket. I’m curious, you mentioned things like Whirlpool washers being able to interact with Alexa and Apple watches and such.

Roger Dooley:    Do you think consumers are ready for that? Are they asking for this kind of interactivity? That’s been the problem, I think, for so long, that it’s a segment of the population who are technically-oriented and really like cool gadgets, love the stuff, but it seems like normal people don’t want to mess with it. Do you think we’re at the point where it’s going to be so automatic and transparent that people don’t have to mess with it?

Tiffani Bova:       So, this goes back to my answer around context. I’m just going to use Netflix, which is another example in the book. If Netflix had launched streaming out of the gate with dial-up internet in people’s homes, how well would that have done?

Roger Dooley:    Right. It would’ve failed obviously, yeah.

Tiffani Bova:       Would’ve failed, right? So, right now, this is a timing game. I think people are now getting much more interested in convenience and the smartphone and natural language processing, things like Siri and Alexa and all the things that we’re doing now with voice. People are realizing the convenience factor, and they’re getting more and more comfortable where technology is almost invisible running underneath them, around their home, whether it’s Nest, whether it’s their sprinkler system, whether it’s their car. That’s the biggest computer we all own today, our car.

Tiffani Bova:       It’s getting smarter and smarter, and I don’t mean autonomous vehicles, I just mean cars in general. Ultimately, as we, as consumers, that aren’t normally comfortable with technology get more and more comfortable … When my mom starts saying, “Just text that to me,” or sends an emoji, we know we’ve come a long way. So, ultimately, at the end of the day, if these investments had started 10 years ago, to your point, we were talking about the capability many years ago, and some people who were into the cool gadgets were very early adopters, but coming up that crossing the chasm of coming up and down that hype cycle of going from early adopter to mainstream, I feel like we’re getting closer and closer to it as technology just becomes so ubiquitous.

Tiffani Bova:       Let’s talk about McDonald’s again. You can walk into some McDonald’s now and there’s no one behind the counter. You’re touching a big screen, you’re ordering your food, and your food comes out. That’s very different than standing in line and ordering your meal and ordering it how you want it and paying for it. So, very slowly, as consumers are signaling to the market and to brands, that they’re getting more and more comfortable with technology, you see more and more brands experimenting with how and where can we use virtual reality? How can we use natural language processing? How can we use AI? How can we use the tools at our disposal without, one, making it creepy, but number two, turning people off who are not technically savvy?

Tiffani Bova:       So, it’s this very delicate balance and dance, but I think with everything that’s happened around the consumer devices, specifically the smartphone and cars, you really start to see people embracing technology, and they don’t even realize it. Even typing into Google, like you were saying, and entering a search and it finishes a search for you, that’s AI and machine learning. People have been okay with that forever, 15 years now. So, how do you apply that in something else in your work life or personal life?

Tiffani Bova:       I think you’re right, Roger. I think it isn’t for everybody, and will everybody adopt it? No. But I think as people start to get more comfortable with the convenience factor of it, and things like Uber start to make their way into everyone’s lives, and in Air BnB and all those kinds of things, we start to get more willing to try things with other brands.

Roger Dooley:    I think too, Tiffani, something like the Amazon Echo is sort of a Trojan horse because people bring it in and they start using it to play music and as a kitchen timer, so you can … You’ve got to cook something for 10 minutes, so you yell at Alexa to set a timer for 10 minutes, but that capability is in there and pretty soon, maybe you’re using her to create your grocery list and you find that’s really convenient because then you can just look at it on your phone in the store.

Roger Dooley:    One little thing, maybe somebody says, “Wow, I’d like to be able to turn a light on remotely,” so they set up one little outlet, but before you know it … Where I think some of the problems in the past have been, and this goes to your point about timing and context, where somebody says, “I’m going to install a home automation system in your home,” and then suddenly, every single light in your house, you have to go through some kind of a computer interface to manage and it becomes overwhelming because the technology was not that good, but if you can just do this one little incremental step at a time, pretty soon you start saying, “Wow, I’d like to do these other lights.” Before you know it, you do have a pretty robust automation system.

Tiffani Bova:       Absolutely, absolutely. Well-said, well-said.

Roger Dooley:    Yeah. So where do loyalty programs fit into your paths, Tiffani?

Tiffani Bova:       Well, I think loyalty is the goal of growth. You don’t want customers to just buy once from you and never buy again from you. It’s very expensive to get a customer to come into your store or buy on your online site, and so why not, once you get them, one of the paths is customer-base penetration, is once you already have the gold, you’ve found it in the mountain, keep mining that gold, i.e. trying to inspire your existing base of customers that know you to buy more from you or buy more frequently from you or make the basket larger at the time of first purchase.

Tiffani Bova:       I’d say that loyalty is the goal. I think your greatest sales force is your customers advocating on your behalf, full stop. There are no sales teams that are larger in the world than your customers talking to their friends and sharing the great experiences that they have, so a loyalty program specifically is interesting, and many people use it. It used to be used as the way to try to incentivize loyalty, but now I think great service makes people want to come back. If there’s a loyalty program, fantastic.

Roger Dooley:    Right. I think, too, people confuse rewards programs as loyalty builders, which they aren’t necessarily. Sometimes they can be if they’re part of an overall great experience. If a rewards program keeps bringing you back to the point where you just absolutely love the place, that’s wonderful, but if the only reason you go back is because, “Oh, I’ve got some kind of a bonus today,” but the experience is pretty average, and tomorrow if somebody else gave you some kind of a reward you’d go there, then you generate some traffic but not true loyalty.

Roger Dooley:    Let me remind our listeners, we have been speaking with Tiffani Bova, global customer growth and innovation evangelist at Sales Force, and author of the new book Growth IQ: Get Smarter About The Choices That Will Make or Break Your Business. Tiffani, how can people find you?

Tiffani Bova:       Oh. Well, you can find me on twitter at @Tiffani_Bova. You can find me at, as well as LinkedIn and Facebook. Then, I have a podcast called What’s Next with Tiffani Bova, and of course, my new book, Growth IQ.

Roger Dooley:    Great. Well, we will link to all those places. That’s Tiffani with an I by the way, if people are typing it in. We’ll link to those places, to the book, and to any other resources we talked about on the show notes page at, and we’ll have a text version of our conversation there, too. Tiffani, thanks for being on the show. It’s great to have you back.

Tiffani Bova:       Well, thank you Roger. Thank you for having me. It was a pleasure.

Roger Dooley:    Thank you for joining me for this episode of the Brainfluence podcast. To continue the discussion and to find your own path to brainy success, please visit us at


Join 23,647 smart marketers like you.
Better results, less money! Get my newest, best ideas free!

Leave a Reply