4 Easy Steps to Better Insight Development

We are lucky to be living in an information rich environment, where numerous data sources are readily available to us.

However, this can also be a challenge since we are usually:

“Drowning in data and starving for insight”

as was once quoted.


If you too are drowning in data, take a look at these four easy steps you can take to meet the challenge of better insight development. We call them the four “I’s” of Insight development to impact business:

Step 1 – IDENTIFY: first identify the most relevant pieces of information for the issue or opportunity you have selected to address, as well as for the business or industry you are in. How do you decide what is relevant?

Look at who your target audience is; what do they like to do in their spare time; what are their hobbies; what are their needs, desires and dreams; what motivates them; what are their basic values? What are they tweeting and blogging about? Do they speak about problems they have with the products and categories you are reviewing? All of these will help you to really underst and them and what issues or opportunities there are for your product or service and br and.

Step 2 – INTEGRATE: once you have gathered and prioritized the most valuable sources of information, it is necessary to integrate them in order to reap their full benefits. Customer information and facts that are integrated help to build deeper knowledge. It also enables the extraction of essential underst anding on which the business can grow.

Data integration can be done manually or using technology, which is advisable when managing large amounts of information. Integration of underst anding can be done by looking for themes and key topics that get repeated across the different sources.

Step 3 – INSIGHTS: after integration of the information, you need to develop the insights. If you haven’t already done so, get a mixed team of experts from different relevant departments together to review all the information, and have the project led by one of your Market Research or Insight group. They will love both the recognition and the challenge of running an insight development session, using everything that has been gathered and integrated.

Step 4 – INSPIRE: as the team begins to hypothesize insights coming out of the information, find someone who can then synthesize their findings into a compelling story. Storytelling will fire enthusiasm into both the team and the company at large, and everyone will be more ready and willing to take the required action. Storytelling helps the findings and insights to be transmitted to all interested parties within the organisation. In some cases, a presentation using storytelling is sufficient for decisions to be made.

How do you develop insights in your own organisation. Do you have other ways to integrate information and knowledge? Please share your ideas here.

Need help in turning your data and information into knowledge, underst anding and actionable insights? Let us help you catalyse your customer centricity; contact us here and check out our website:https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and/

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The Three Rules for Effective Customer Surveys

This week I bring you a thought-provoking Guest Post from Michael Gentle, Author, Speaker and Friend.

How often do you answer customer surveys requesting feedback on using a product or service? Based on the personal effort and/or the intrusion factor associated with most surveys, the answer is probably “not very often”.

When you do accept to answer a survey, it’s probably in one of the following cases:

  • Your customer experience was so bad – or so good – that you went out of your way to make your feelings known, regardless of the effort involved.
  • Your customer experience (good, bad or indifferent) didn’t really move you enough to warrant any feedback, but because the survey was short, unintrusive and timely, you just went ahead and answered it.

You don’t need to go to business school to figure this out. And yet, most of the people who design and implement surveys regularly flout these elementary rules. They forget that at the end of the day, survey respondents have deadlines to meet, trains to catch and personal lives to manage, and that replying to a survey is probably near or at the bottom of their list of priorities.


The Three Golden Rules

If companies are serious about getting feedback from as many customers as possible, I’d recommend the following three golden rules:

  1. Keep it short, with 3-5 questions maximum. The top three questions should be about the overall customer experience, followed by a rating of the product or the service, and finally the staff or people factor.
  2. Limit the intrusion. People might be well disposed to answering surveys, but not if they feel it intrudes on their time. For example, a restaurant survey that comes with the bill or check is not intrusive; stopping you on your way out the door to get some quick feedback is. Phone surveys are probably the worst culprit when it comes to intrusion.
  3. Make it timely. Borrowing from the term Point of Sale (POS), you want to make it as close as possible to the Point of Experience (POE). Not surprisingly, what little motivation you might have to answer a survey will probably have evaporated 24 hrs later.


Some Typical Examples

Here are some bad and good surveys that I’ve personally experienced:

  • Whenever I pick up my car (part of the Volkswagen group) after a service, I get surveyed either by mail or phone. The survey weighs in at 4 pages! I only ever answer the first question about my overall experience (usually very good) and then scrawl a note saying the survey is too long. Ditto when I talk to the person over the phone.
  • Cabin crew on Air France long-haul flights regularly h and out surveys to some passengers. Not only are they very detailed (a couple of pages), there is no reward offered to fill them in – not even some bonus miles. Personally, I simply refuse to provide free feedback to an airline that is unwilling to offer even a token reward for going beyond the 3-5 question golden rule. As an aside, I have yet to see an airline with flight surveys built into the individual passenger entertainment systems. What a waste of a golden opportunity for timely POE feedback, with minimal effort and intrusion on a 10-hour flight!  (Apparently Delta Airlines is trying, as related by a passenger in a recent article, Delta’s Inflight Survey – great idea, failed execution.)
  • I filled in a survey from Amazon last week for a recent book purchase. Not surprisingly, Amazon “gets it”: not only did the email survey have only four questions, it also had them in the body of the email, so I could see straight away that answering it would be a doddle. Virtually all other email surveys I receive require me to click on a link that takes me to some detailed survey website – which I exit immediately if the survey is not wrapped up on one screen.

So next time you receive yet another survey that expects you to put your life on hold for ten minutes, just groan – and hit the cancel or delete button.

Need help in developing your own surveys? Let us help you catalyse your customer centricity; contact us here and check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and/

5 Steps to Excel at Customer Centricity

Last weekend, I took a very early flight with BA out of Geneva and once again BA staff demonstrated their excellent customer centricity, which prompted this post.

That morning, it was Lionel whom I appreciated, for allowing me to have a quick coffee in the club lounge even though he had already called the flight. The rule in such circumstances is not to admit access to passengers once the flight has been called. It was refreshing to be treated as an individual and not as one of the mass of passengers taking the flight that morning. Allowing me to have a quick coffee before dashing to the gate certainly made my morning and my speed enabled him to empty the lounge as he was required to do without too much delay.

What has this got to do with your customer centricity you might ask? Well quite a lot in my opinion. As more people move from rural to urban areas, they are challenged with living a crowded life, with little chance to be alone let alone treated as an individual. This has created an increased value perception of space and service; people desire and even actively search for a little extra service and recognition. In the case of Lionel, he apparently saw me as a low risk and that he could trust me to have the quick coffee I so desperately needed at that time of the morning.


How do you train your own Customer Service Advisors?

Are all your company’s interactions with your customers scripted? Do your metrics of call centre efficiency include time per call, which is targeted down, or calls per advisor, constantly targeted up? A few months ago I shared information about a CEO who had decided to throw away the scripts and trust his advisors to satisfy calling customers in the best way possible – for the client! I am sure you can see how satisfaction went up, for both the advisors and the customers.

If throwing away your call centre scripts is too far for you to go, at least for now, but you could do with improving your care centre operations to make them even more customer centric, I have a few ideas for you:

  1. INVITE: How are you currently inviting your customers to connect with you? On your pack or in your advertising? Is the invitation clearly legible and does it offer your customers a choice of channels that they can use to connect? You should want as many connections as possible with them so openly invite them wherever they will have the chance of noticing. Some of you will certainly see this as a risk; more contacts equal more complaints, no? Well yes – hopefully at the same proportion as currently – but wouldn’t you rather know if your product or service has problems so you can resolve them as quickly as possible?
  2. LISTEN: Advisors should listen attentively to what the customer has to share: it always amazes me how often they try to interrupt the customer as quickly as possible in her explanation of why she called. Perhaps this has to do with the call-time targets you have set. Why not replace them with satisfaction targets? Let the customer talk until the reason for calling is fully explained and she feels that the advisor has really listened.
  3. RESPOND: If your care centre has scripted responses and you can’t throw them away, at least give your advisors permission to go the extra mile and do whatever it takes to respond and surprise your customer. Your customers have taken time and effort to reach out to you, so don’t disappoint them. Delight them with your response. Don’t just offer them a replacement product or coupons; everyone else does that. What more can you do for your customer, so that they will share their positive experience with friends, family and even the world if they are active on social media.
  4. KEEP LISTENING: Don’t assume that the first thing your customer talks about is the real reason for the call or connection. Sometimes there are other things that would be useful for you to know but you never get the chance to hear them because your advisors are ending the calls too quickly. Perhaps you customer believes you wouldn’t be interested so never calls about their ideas or suggestions. Why not ask if there is anything else your customer wants to share of talk about with you. More information is better information.
  5. ASK: Only when your customer is fully satisfied with your responses and has no other things she wants to share, can you broach the subject of whether or not they would be willing to answer a few questions for you. If so then keep it short; if not, respect their decision. Please don’t go through your full segmentation questionnaire; just ask the five questions that will help you know her better.

These are my five steps to customer centric excellence for care centres. Do you have any others you would add? I would love to hear from you.

Need help in improving your own customer care? Let us help you catalyse your customer centricity; contact us here or check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage/

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Does your Company pass this Simple Test of Customer Centricity?

Business must respect its customers to win

Over the last few weeks, I have been going into the webites of a number of major companies, not just CPG / FMCG, but also Finance, Leisure, Transport, Retail and Pharmaceutical companies to name but a few. It has definitely been an interesting and often frustrating occupation, especially if like myself, you wanted to actually contact them.

I quickly learned that there are generally two ways to contact a company using the information on their website: through their investor relations group, or through their “Contact us” button – if and when you find it of course – usually top left or bottom right corners of the screen (so no-one can find it?)

The frustrating example of a connection journey

Let me describe a typical example of the connection journey. Clicking on the contact tag of a company’s website usually brings up a form to be completed, starting with the ominous question “Why do you want to contact us”. The choices proposed, from a list or drop down answer menu, include job interest, investment relations, sponsorship requests and – hopefully but not always! – customer services.

If you want to contact customer services, this choice takes you to another form that must be completed before you can start sharing the reason why you are contacting the company. The number of questions asked on this form suggests that the company is more interested in getting as much personal information from you as possible, just in case you leave before adding your details and comments!

In my case I wanted to write a letter to the company; I was surprised at how rarely this was given as one of the methods of contact. Phone number almost always, Email address often, but “snail mail” or a street address for a face-to-face meeting, no thank you! In fact there is often quite a list of telephone numbers for different purposes from which to choose, but usually the only postal address shown is for investor relations, which is generally managed by an outside organisation.


Connect on your Customers’ terms, not yours

All of this to say that if you want to be truly customer centric then you need to make it as easy as possible for your customers to contact you – and on their terms, not yours. Give them the opportunity to connect with you by phone, Fax, email or “snail mail”, and even give them your street address so they can pop in and speak to someone in person, face-to-face if they prefer. Connecting with the people that spend their money on your products and services should be viewed as a priviledge and defintely be on their terms not yours – they are doing you a favour, not the other way round!


How Customer centric is your website?

Now take a moment to have a look at your own website to see just how easy you make it for your own customers to contact you. Are you frustrating them by the labyrinth of pages they have to navigate to find the way they prefer to contact you? If you don’t make it easy, they may just interpret this as being a lack of interest in them and their comments on your part and in turn they might just lose interest in you, your products and services.

So the quick test of customer centricity for you:

1. Do you encourage and actively invite comments, complaints and feedback from your customers, consumers and clients?

2. Can your customers, consumers and clients easily connect with you, from the front page of your website?

3. Do you offer them all possible forms of contact, so they can choose the one with which they feel the most comfortable?

4. Do you take their perspective when proposing topics or the reasons for wanting to contact you?

5. Do you ask for information that is relevant and useful in order to respond to their contact only and nothing more?

If you don’t answer yes to all five questions, perhaps you need to take another look at improving your website and also your customer centricity.


Do you have any other ideas to add to my list to ensure web pages are customer-centric? If so, then please share them.

Need help in improving your own customer care? Let us help you catalyse your customer centricity; contact us here or check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage/

This post was first published on C3Centricity’s Comments page on July 28th 2011

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How to use Social Media to Improve Customer Centricity

Are you looking for a way to shift your day-to-day business from a br and-centered way of thinking to a customer-centered way of acting? If so, look no further. This article will reveal how to use social media to show your customers you really value them.

If your organisation wants to become truly customer centric, you need to improve the engagement with the very people who make your business grow! The success of your business depends upon building relationships with your customers. Show your customers that you really value them. Start connecting with them: satisfy their needs and excite them with solutions to their problems.

Social media like Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn is taking over from CRM (Customer Relationship Management) in offering more people more ways to voice their opinion, good or bad, about the products and services they have tried.

Here are four things to review when improving your customer centricity using social media:

#1 Define how social media fits into your marketing and communication plans

Review all forms of connection with your customers. Think about direct contact via retail outlets, call centres, CRM activities, events and websites, or indirectly through retailers, advertising and market research. Think about how to integrate social media platforms effectively to engage with your customers.

Social Media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter offer you the fastest and most personal ways to get closer to your customers. In order to optimize their use, you need to define how they will fit into your marketing and communications plans. They can support and complement your other forms of communication, but to do this they must be integrated seamlessly into them.

#2 Experience where to engage with your target audience

Next you need to choose the most appropriate platform(s) for your target audience. Do they spend most of their time on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube or another social platform? Then once you have chosen the most relevant ones, start sharing valuable content via the different channels and monitor the results. Which channels generate the most engagement with the content you share?

Don’t expect your own br and pages to attract your customers if they are not supported and amplified through engagement on social platforms. A leading CPG company, with which I worked, found that more than two-thirds of their br and websites were being visited by less than 20 people per month! How is that for a huge waste of resources?

#3 Listen to what they want to hear

Every connection you make with your customers provides an opportunity for you to also ask questions or provide information back. This is particularly true with social media, where more people are likely to complain or ask questions than elsewhere, at least in developed markets. Although you may not like hearing negative comments about your products and services, it is better to find out and correct the issues quickly, than to discover the problem through falling sales, or worse, comments posted on the internet. Whilst you must respond and fast to criticism, better to take it offline than to start a lengthy discussion in public.

To attract your customers to engage with you on social media, there has to be something in it for them. Therefore it is essential to ask yourself “what do they want to hear, see or learn?” rather than “what do we want to tell them”. Social media provides an almost instantaneous contact with your customers, which means that you must always be open and ready to respond to the; they expect it! If you are only interacting with your customers on your terms you will quicly lose their interest and perhaps loyalty as well.

#4 Discover when they are most engaged in social media

The real challenge for your business is to discover what time of the day your costumers are most engaged in social media via the different channels. If you are doing business on a global scale, you’ll need different teams for each region. Gather smart data on a global and local scale to learn which parts of the day best support your engagement and customer centric behaviour.

What are your thoughts? Do you have any questions or comments? If so, please share them in the box below.

Need help in improving your own customer care? Let us help you catalyse your customer centricity; contact us here or check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage/

First published July 19th 2011 on MirrorYourself “The Social Media Coach to Launch Your Business”

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Honesty is the best Brand Policy

Whilst out shopping yesterday, I was attracted by a new chocolate bar (you will probably already know that I am an addict of new products as well as of chocolate!). It showed a picture of a piece of chocolate oozing with caramel, and with a nut in the middle. 

Now I should admit to also being a naive optimist who believes what is shown or written on the front of a pack, even though I have worked in marketing almost my whole career! But this purchase was a great example of how a product does not live up to its imagined brand policy.

The brand name even had toffee as its first word, so I (naively again?) assumed I would find toffee in it; wouldn’t you? Well, there was toffee – if you looked for it! – but the chocolate was dominated by the taste of the “confectioners’ cream” as it was called that in reality made up two-thirds of the filling.

You can imagine my disappointment, when I bit into the chocolate. Oh well, my fault I thought. I remember someone telling me years ago to “never believe what is pictured or highlighted on front of pack” especially for food products.

“Never believe what is pictured or highlighted on front of pack”

This company knew how popular caramel toffee is, but I suppose it is a more expensive ingredient than “confectioners’ cream”, so they limited one in favour of the other. Pity they didn’t do the same thing when picturing the product on the front of the pack!


Consumers demand authenticity, honesty, transparency

I thought we all knew and agreed to satisfy these demands. Whilst I am sure your advertising is abiding by the laws of your market, I wonder if they, as well as your other forms of communications, are also as honest as they should be.

Does your pack promise a product that looks or tastes much better, or is healthier than it is in reality? (I am thinking for example of all the 99% fat free claims here) If so, then you are setting yourself up to disappoint your consumers.

OK so they bought it, which is what you wanted, but wouldn’t you rather have repeat purchasers? And happy, contented consumers who will talk about your product to their family and friends, and recommend others to purchase it too?


Can your business grow without advocates?

If you think you can grow your brand in this social media dominated world, then I would love to hear from you. For the rest of us, it might just be worth taking another look at all our communications’ platforms, to ensure the message is authentic, honest and transparent. And that they build one on the other to form one coherent message for the brand.


Need help in improving your own brand building? Let us help you catalyse your customer centricity; check out our website and then contact us here: https://www.c3centricity.com/contact/


This post first appeared on C3Centricity Comments page in 2011

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Are you a Fan of your Customer?

All companies know the importance of being customer centric, but how many encourage ALL their employees to think about their customers and to try and serve them better ALL of the time? 

What about you? When was the last time you yourself listened or watched your customers to learn more about them, and to underst and them more deeply? 

Do you usually just leave this to your colleagues in the Market Research and Insight Department and wait for them to come and present the findings of a study to you? Your customers are constantly changing, as are their attitudes, needs, desires, and how your products and services fit into their lives. Being close to your customers should be on everyone’s annual objectives.


Plan customer closeness sessions

One of the best ways to energize curiosity and excitement around the customer, is to organise customer closeness days or weeks. During these times, everyone in the company leaves their offices and goes out into the world to watch and listen to their customers, as they think about, purchase or use your products and services. There are numerous ways of doing this, but to mention just a few:

  • listening in to service centre calls
  • watching group discussions or in-depth interviews
  • accompanying demonstrators who are showing or sampling your products in retail outlets
  • working behind the counter if you have your own retail outlets
  • interviewing customers as they shop or use your product or service
  • observing your customers as they shop or use your product


Observation is not as simple as it sounds

To really undert and what you are seeing, it is advisable to run a briefing session before allowing people to go out and watch their customers. Your market research and insight people should be able to help with this training and will no doubt be happy to share their expert knowledge. Ideally each person should go out with a task or question to answer, rather than watching customers with no precise objective in mind. Watching and listening first and asking questions only afterwards, is the best way to gain a maximum amount of underst anding; by listening you learn what is important to your customers first, rather than what is important to you. Everyone can meet up at the end of the exercise to share and build greater knowledge and underst anding of your customer.

For more information on how to run observation sessions refer to an earlier post: The Five Rules of Observation

Try it; you will become a fan of these exercises  and of your customers!

If you already run such experiences we would love to hear about your ideas and success stories.

Need help in getting closer to your own customers? Let us help you catalyse your customer centricity; contact us hereor check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and/

This post first appeared on C3Centricity Comments page on July 7th  2011


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How to choose your KPI’s

Your business plan should include for each br and or service, who you are targeting, as well as what actions you are going to take in the forthcoming period.

Measurement of how well you are doing against the plan is essential and should include metrics beyond the basics of sales and profit. Are you one of many companies I know, who rely on sales alone, look to grow by 5%, 10% or more, and measure success by achieving these set levels? What is wrong with that you might ask? A lot!


Suppose you are in a category or market that is growing at 50%, 100% or more per year, as is the case in many industries in developing countries around the world. This 5% or 10% growth target now looks pretty low, doesn’t it? In fact if you grew sales above the target set in the plan, at say 20%, it would still mean you were losing share! So you need to add market share to your metrics for a start.


Choosing the right metrics

Choosing the right metrics to follow the business is vital for management and planning success:

“what gets measured, gets managed”

as Peter Drucker famously said. It is very true that you need to identify the metrics that are key to your business, in order for you to manage it well. Too much information and their impact is diluted; too few and you may miss valuable performance indicators.


Three things to consider when setting up business KPI’s

  • Performance: we have already seen the importance of following market share in addition to sales and profit. Another set of metrics that all companies should follow is br and image and equity, since these act as early warning signs should something be going wrong, and this usually long before sales start to stagnate or decline. In addition to these, other metrics need to be identified that are important for your industry.

For example, I asked this question to IMD Alumni on LinkedIn recently and got the following suggestions:

    • Safety, Health and environment for energy and mining industries
    • Employee satisfaction and engagement
    • Performance metrics such as deal closing or conversion rates
    • Impact of policies of the government sector
    • Comparative metrics of competitors
    • Innovation rate
    • Stocks and inventories, especially in emerging markets


  • Metrics: Agreement of the most important metrics to follow for your own organisation should be the result of internal discussion. Alignment with all departments and businesses, on both the metrics themselves and the way in which they are to be measured, is vital to the overall success of the exercise. The method used for gathering the information must be valid for each business, category and market, which can be a challenge if they are to be compared. If they are not comparable, then proprietary metrics can be defined for each of them. However, as management should have a holistic view of the company’s performance, the key metrics or KPI’s should ideally use the same collection method.
  • Competition: Both internal and external sources can be used to gather the metrics and then these must be reduced to a (very) limited number of essential numbers needed to manage the business. These should include comparisons to the performance of all major competitors, which also need to be identified and agreed for each business and category. The advantage of developing company-wide metrics and KPI’s, is that comparisons can be made across br ands, businesses and regions versus competition, and then summarized in dashboards. These dashboards should be visual as far as possible, with colour coding and graphical rather than tabular results, so that the health of the business can be quickly ascertained. Traffic light signs or colouring seems to be the most used way of highlighting risks and challenges, but you can define whatever works best for your own company.

Identifying and defining the KPI’s for your management to follow is an essential task of your strategic planning and finance groups, but in customer centric organisations, your market research and insight teams can help by bringing the external perspective   and metrics that are vital to successful business and br and building.


What metrics do you follow and consider as essential for your industry? What have I forgotten?


For more information, please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and/

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