Adrian Slywotzky  has been called upon to be a speaker at many noteworthy conferences, such as the Forbes and Fortune CEO conferences.  He has even been chosen as a keynote speaker at the Microsoft CEO Summit.  His new book, Demand: Creating What People Love Before They Know They Want It, is due out this fall.  Through research, Adrian found that the hassle map plays a huge part in creating demand.  Below, Adrian defines what a hassle map is.

Curt: Can you define 'hassle map'?

Adrian: Whether you're talking about a consumer or a corporation, a hassle map defines all of the actual steps that characterize the negative experiences of the customer.  Think about these questions: Where are the emotional hot spots, the irritations, the frustrations, the time wasted, the delay?  Where are the economic hot spots?  And then think about this: What are the ways that businesses can radically improve the hassle map for both the customer and themselves? 

Let me give you two classic examples: Remember life before Netflix?  Arguing with your spouse about what movie you're going to watch on Saturday night, going to the video store and borrowing three movies because you're not sure which one is going to work, etc. Then you watch the movie but forget to bring it back, so you pay a late fee, and presto: you've got a 20-step hassle map with lots of unnecessary costs, both financial and emotional. Then Netflix comes along, cuts those steps by 60% and makes renting a movie much simpler and easier.  Netflix thinks ahead and identifies what the next hassle map is that needs to be fixed.  Now the second generation in Netflix is streaming, which reduces the hassles even further.

A good example of solving the hassle map on the business-to-business side is to look at FactSet and Bloomberg.  Think about how businesses were run before the single screen with the single application:  businesses used twenty to fifty different data sources, logins, and had multiple expenses.  When Bloomberg (for traders) and FactSet (for buy-side analysts) came into the picture, they did two things:  They integrated the data and created the structures, applications, and software to make data easy to use.  These companies actually talked to the users to understand how and for what they used the data.  They learned that their customers needed to compare data in order to make trading, investment, and business decisions.  Thus, Bloomberg and FactSet created their software with that in mind, allowing the customer to compare and analyze data with ease so that their customers could make important decisions faster and more accurately.

Those are two of literally dozens of examples of companies that actually spent time looking at the world through the eyes and the emotions of the customer, saw what a mess it was, and then asked the question, "How can I connect the dots from a variety of different places to solve that mess in a non-incremental way?  In a way that feels like a 40-50% improvement rather than just 5-10% improvement?"

Curt: That's fascinating.  I love the phrase 'hassle map'. In terms of segmentation, typically done by industry or type of buyer or by company size, do you want to segment by hassle map?

Adrian: Exactly. Tell me how the hassle map is different for buyer A, buyer B, and buyer C.  I might not be able to fix the hassle map for all three, but if I can do a phenomenal job of fixing the hassle map for buyer A and buyer B, then that's where I'll focus.  I'm not against segmenting and going through the different variables, but what actually moves the customer is whether or not you've solved their hassle map.

Companies have different kinds of inert segmentation whether by industry, by size, et cetera. I don't want to discount those because they're helpful to get companies closer to what their customers' issues are.  But not all customers have the same hassle map.  The more unique the hassle map is, the more opportunity there is to create unique offers and become the first choice for different types of customers. 

First, companies have to develop a top-notch initial offer, and then shortly thereafter, determine the common thread among customers' hassle maps.  Companies must also analyze what's different between each hassle map and determine how they can cost effectively address these differences.  Part of the fallout regarding how demand happens is the menu, or repertoire, for responding to different hassle maps.  You can vary the product if you have a high enough common component.  You can provide a platform where the customers configure for themselves (e.g., an apps store). You can create an organizational unit that caters to specific types of customers, for example. 

I may need to create a key account group that really understands how IT buyers in retail behave. Or, when a company can't rely on retail for great service, so they may need to develop their own set of boutiques (which Apple did in electronics and Nespresso did in coffee).  In other cases, companies have enough proprietary information on the customer (like Amazon, Netflix, Nespresso, whomever) that they can cost-effectively tailor the characteristics of the offer to the hassle map of either an individual customer or a subset of customers.

Adrian Slywotzky's research reveals that the hassle map is vital to understanding what drives the customer to action.  Stay tuned for the next installment of this interview to learn how understanding the customer's hassle map directly relates to becoming a magnetic company and how Adrian's new research on the topic of demand can be applied to your business.

Curt Finch is the CEO of Journyx, a provider of time and resource management solutions.