Question #1. Damn it!

Chatting with execs after my talk yesterday at SpeechTEK, the voice industry tradeshow. The story ... ALWAYS THE SAME! They invariably must initially justify projects on the basis of potential cost savings—in their case, such as the savings at call centers if you implement voice-based service-automation.

I am hardly opposed to saving money! But, in my view, in 9 of 10 cases it's putting the cart before the horse. You see, I'm a "Top-line Guy." My first question, instinctively, is, "HOW WILL THIS PROJECT ENHANCE THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE IN A WAY THAT WILL IMPLEMENT 'DRAMATIC DIFFERENCES' FROM OUR COMPETITORS SO THAT WE CAN CAPTURE NEW CUSTOMERS, RETAIN OLD CUSTOMERS & GROW THEIR BUSINESS, BUILD OUR BRAND INTO A LOVEMARK ... AND KICK-START THE 'TOP LINE'?"

In my case, I am a "premium brand." I am top-line obsessed: How does "this" (whatever!) build brand value? I pour over my P & L, fret about costs, savagely attack costs every now and again ... but the first item I look at is ... GROSS REVENUE. If "GR" is growing at a healthy clip, a multitude of sins can be papered over. I just wish I could imbue more Lead Dogs with my TLO/Top Line Obsession!