Marcel Mens and Juan Tates, Directors of @Hand Communications and @Hand InBusiness, are testing the boundaries of customer orientation using innovation, creativity and multimedia. @Hand Communications is an organization with a very strong growth which exceeds 15%.
Kris Rote of de Baak: "How do you combine creativity, gaming, learning and increased sales?"
“Customer demand is our top priority. How can we help the customer using innovative multimedia? Creativity is needed. For creativity, we first take all the customer’s preconditions. What limitations has the customer set? When does it have to be ready? What is the budget? What objectives must be reached for the target group and for them? These are essential, since we challenge ourselves to be creative within these frameworks. Studies have shown that people are most creative when they are limited in some way and under pressure. We then look for new ways to meet the given conditions. I will give you an example: a telecom provider wanted more customers in its stores. We thought of challenging people on the street to play a game with and against each other. Our colleague carried two game consoles in his hands and the screen on his head. The game began immediately and people were tested on calling. For example: ‘How many calls are made in the car, on average? How many text messages are sent each year?’ In each case, a great atmosphere developed, whereby the participants wanted to bring out the best in themselves. In the game, they associate themselves with the products and services. They learn about them and explain what they might need while they are playing. Then they can collect a prize in the store nearby, where there is always contact. In this way, people learn specifically about your products in a pleasant way. You often meet resistance when you sell your products. In some stores, an additional 750 customers came in on one day. And enjoyed themselves.”
What does this mean for your business operations?
“We also select our colleagues on the basis of these qualities: to be able to come up with new creative solutions under pressure. ‘Necessity is the mother of invention.’ We do not work by ‘do as you please.’ If there is a job applicant who says: ‘I am creative because I often have nice ideas,’ I know: ‘that’s not what we want.’ The skill is to devise a workable, out-of-the-box solution that is also playful and thus generates enthusiasm. A personal association for the participants with your brand is essential. They have to be able to pass on the word to others.”
What are the challenges for you as a person: in your leadership and your entrepreneurship?
Marcel: “For me, it is keeping a focus. I do everything, take on everything. I am often confronted with myself as a person and as an entrepreneur. Of course, I can’t do that; if I don’t watch out, I will demand it from my organization as well. And we are all working on all sorts of things.”
Juan: “Entrepreneurship often requires a lot of patience, certainly in these times. With some plans, six to eight months may pass between the first and the fourth meeting, when we finally receive approval. My challenge is to remain positive and to continue to keep the faith that the course we are following is the right one. Marcel and I complement each other well.”
Kris Rote, Director of De Baak’s Open Programs