When strategizing on revenue growth, success required you to think outside the box.  If almost everyone is shooting for the same goal, and frequently goes into coast mode when they achieve that level, then eventually everyone will do the same things and no one will have a differentiation based competitive advantage.  Sounds boring to me.

Today, if you mention innovation to people, they frequently think about Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and maybe James Dyson.  These people have a very different way of thinking about business, products, and services than most of us do. They also have amazing luck and a willingness to take great risks.  But what can the rest of us do to reposition our business and leave the competition choking on your dust?

The four people I mentioned created products and services from the ground up.  Steve Jobs, well everyone knows what he did.  The same goes for Jeff Bezos.  Elon Musk is the person behind the Tesla electric car, SpaceX launch and orbit vehicles.  His company is now delivering supplies to the International Space Station.  And Dyson’s innovative vacuum cleaners are changing the way we clean our homes.

But what if we don’t have those intellectual skills and talents?  Well, we too can innovate if we spend time thinking about people’s problems and the tools we have to solve them.  Here is an example.

Volvo Wants To Use Your Car (A Volvo Of Course) As A Delivery Location

According to a Bloomberg article, Volvo has come up with a way to direct product deliveries to your locked car!  Using a proprietary App., GPS, and its On Call technology, the process works like this:

  • At time of placing order, Customer agrees to accept in car delivery
  • When item is scheduled for delivery, Volvo sends a digital key, car location, color, model, etc. and license plate to the delivery person
  • Using the App and digital key, delivery person opens car through On Call
  • After placing item into car, the delivery person locks it and sends a delivery notification to car owner.

Sounds far out but it worked in a test in Stockholm. In cities and high crime areas, the delivery can be made in the car’s trunk or items can be left on the car seat or floor.

Now, assume your field service technician is working on a customer site and you dispatched spare parts the previous day.  The tech works on the equipment as best he can until he is notified that the parts are now in his trunk.  When he decides what he actually needs, he goes to the parking lot, takes these parts into the customer location, and completes his repair. While the article does not mention this, I assume that the process can be reversed and the delivery service can retrieve a defective part from the trunk and ship it back for repair.  Think of the possible reduction in the overall reverse logistics cycle!  Gotta love innovation.

What Can A Service Manager Or Executive Do To Replicate this Example?

If you can identify a problem that is annoying you, disappointing your customers or costing your business some money you have a wonderful opportunity.  You can pull together a few smart, self-confident people and generate a solution to the problem that will create some advantage for your business.  Think about how much fun you will have while figuring out a way to save money or increase customer satisfaction.  Start small, like Volvo did in the experiment in Stockholm, and learn from the outcome.  It may take a few attempts but it will be worth the effort.

Why not give it a try?