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Anticipating Needs Key to Great Service, Innovation

How is it that iPhone’s virtual assistant Siri has a better sense of humor than some people I’ve worked with? When I ask her, “How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?” her responses (among many) include:

– “42? That can’t be right.”

– “I imagine that groundhogs would prefer a different question for a change.”

– “Well, since a ‘woodchuck’ is really a groundhog, the correct question would be: How many pounds in a groundhog’s mound when a groundhog pounds hog mounds?”

Not only does this demonstrate that some computers really do have a better sense of humor than some humanoids, it’s also a clever example of how a company can slip some humor into unexpected locations or situations. If you want to bigstock-A-thermometer-topped-with-the--22775171surprise your customers, think about opportunities where you can sneak some humor their way unexpectedly.

The second point this illustrates is that clearly some very smart programmers anticipated that goofballs like me would ask Siri this question. Being able to anticipate the needs of your customers, partners, employees or boss before they even know they have them is a hallmark of truly inspiring service and inspiring leadership. And real innovation is about anticipating the future needs and wants of your customers and anticipating challenges and opportunities headed your way.

And in case the non-Siri-ous folks are curious, Siri’s response to “Who’s on first?” is “Correct.” Brilliant. Although she could use some coaching with her comedic timing.

Michael Kerr is a Hall of Fame business speaker and very funny motivational speaker.  His next book is called, The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses are Laughing all the Way to the Bank


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