August 2013 - c3centricity | c3centricity

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What Martin Luther King & Apple have in Common: Inspiration & Excitement

The world’s press is full of references to Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a dream” speech this week. This is because Wednesday was the 50th anniversary of one of the key moments in American civil rights history, even if these days the 28th August 1963 is better remembered for King’s speech than the March on Washington itself.

Some claim that the speech was in fact something of an afterthought and came about because one of his supporters supposedly whispered in his ear to “Tell them about your dream.” His speech inspired thous ands of people then and continues to do so even fifty years on. It also inspired me to write this post, although I need to paraphrase it slightly:

“I have a dream that one day this world will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all products are created equal”

Even altered they remain inspiring words indeed, but unfortunately, when it comes to innovation, successful new products are rarely created equal. Why then did I find my inspiration for this post in them? Because I believe that the main reason many new products don’t sell as expected, is because they are sold as such – as just new products!

Today’s consumer has so much choice that product benefits on their own rarely sell. Consumers dem and so much more. They ask that they are in fact sold a dream! An inspiration to believe in a better world for them and their families.

Apple logo brings inspiration
SOURCE: Apple.com

Does Apple sell just a computer, an MP3 player, a mobile phone? No, they sell creativity, excitement and individualism. I am not criticising their products, they are of course fantastic, but rather highlighting that even if their products are sometimes said to be better than their competitors, Apple is selling each one emotionally. They have found a way to build excitement, longing and love into each one of them. Who else has people camping out overnight to be amongst the first proud owners of their latest product? Apple has enabled each and every consumer to feel unique, special, privileged, an individual. And in this mass market world that we live in, this is certainly something that we all desire, dare I say crave?

So what can we learn from Martin Luther King and Apple in launching new products that will sell? Many things I am sure, but here are the first three that came to me:

  1. Inspire a dream – why will your customer’s life be better with your product or service, and I mean emotionally not just rationally? Describe and picture their future with your product or service in it, and make them crave it even before it is launched.
  2. Build emotion – make consumers excited by the launch; build anticipation, make the wait an integral  part of the sell, so that they will be lining up to buy it. Use tease campaigns, get press coverage, talk about it in interviews and on the TV weeks, even months before launch if you can. Forget fears of the competitionve; they know more than you think and often more than your own employees!
  3. Provide individualism – make consumers feel privileged to have bought it, whether this is through great after-sales service, automatic club membership, personalised offers or limited editions; even limiting distribution can work, although this needs to be done very cautiously, as it can have the opposite effect and disappoint rather than inflame the desired longing.

With so many new product failures today – I have heard anything from 80% to 95% – consumers have become blasé about them. They dem and more and better and rarely stay satisfied for long. This is why innovation has become a major part of business planning and success – or failure. Consumers know that if they are not immediately satisfied, there are many more opportunities out there in the market and new products to try. Building loyalty comes from connecting with your consumer on an emotional level, so that there is no comparison to competitive products and services, even if they are in reality very similar or cheaper at a rational level.

What other keys do you see to new product launch succcess today? What would you add to my starter for three? Do you have your own list? Please let me know if I have “inspired you emotionally as an individual” to comment here.

For more ideas on successful innovation, please check out our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/vision

Need help in reinventing your innovation to inspire, excite and delight your customers? Let us help you catalyse your customer centricity; contact us here

This post has been adapted from one that was publised on C3Centricity Dimensions on March 15th 2012

How to Lose Customers & What you Need to Do if you Don’t Want this to Happen!

I’ve had a frustrating week, and you? If you too are happy that this week is coming to an end, feel free to add your own personal rants at the end!

I was reviewing SaaS (software as a service) companies and was amazed at the different levels of customer service between the suppliers. With service in their industry name you would have thought that they would excel at customer service, but from my own experience it was non-existent in many cases, which prompted this post.

If you want to ensure that your potential, or even current customers, never buy from you (again) here are a few things to remember:

Your website:

  • Make your website load really slowly so that customers will have to wait in excited anticipation before appreciating the beauty and complexity of everything you have on offer.

    Customers lost online
    Customers lost in your website
    SOURCE: Kozzi.com

FACT: According to  Kissmetrics 40% of people ab andon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.

  • Don’t make your website mobile friendly; that’s only for the younger generation and you’re sure your customers are older – although to be honest you don’t really know.

FACTMobile already accounts for 15% of global internet traffic

  • Create loops within your website so the customer never actually gets to the information page they really want. Keep them looking, which increases your stats of time-on-site, and that looks great in your stat report.

FACTTime on site does matter but only if customers are interested in the content. Adding pictures and videos is a better way to keep them engaged.

  • Don’t provide contact information choices; make every potential client call you, especially if they live on the other side of the planet.

FACTForrester research reveals that “75% of consumers seeking customer service online turned to another channel when a firm’s website let them down.”

  • Provide online chat but just automate a first response and then leave the client waiting for a live customer service person to come online.

FACT: 65% of American online shoppers have engaged in  online chat

  • Make your clients wait between their chat messages and your response, by having your customer care people respond to at least five people at the same time. This is great for helping them to get the names and issues mixed up too, and avoids them getting too personal.

FACT: According to Cisco 69% of U.S. consumers would provide more  private information in exchange for more personalized service.

 

Call Centers

  • Customer online
    Your customer is active online
    SOURCE: Kozzi.com

    Don’t answer when your potential, or current, client calls; just put them on automatic hold. Or you can give them a recorded message with opening hours when they should call you, which will be a time that is acceptable to you, not when they need you.

FACT: 67% of customers have  hung up the phoneout of frustration they could not talk to a real person.

  • To keep your clients amused when they call you, provide multiple self-service  key options, the more the better. When they finally get to the topic they want, play hold music, then interrupt at regular intervals so they think there is someone coming on the line and then just give a short message and start the hold music again. Never give an idea of how long they will have to wait; keeping them guessing is half the fun! Great for calming your customers’ nerves too.

FACT: By 2020, the customer will manage 85% of the relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human, according to  Gartner.

  • Never return the calls of clients who dared to leave a voice message for you; they’ll call you back if they really need you. If they don’t then they’ve probably solved their problem themselves and shouldn’t have called you for help in the first place!

FACT: Oracle research found that 49% of executives believe customers will switch br ands due to a  bad experience but 89% already have!

 

 

Emails:

  • Customer Email iconNever reply to emails within the same day, unless it is an automated response to say you will get back in the next  2-3 days.

FACT204 million emails are sent every minute, but that’s no excuse.

  • Wait before responding to customer emails for at least 4 days and then make sure it is really friendly and explains that you’re waiting for their call.

FACT: Forrester found that  41% of consumers expect an e-mail response within six hours.

  • Even better, reply to say that most answers can be found on your website and provide a helpful link to your FAQs. And never reference their email or mention a topic relevant to the content of it.

 

 

Social Media:

  • Customer Social media choices
    Social media for CRM
    SOURCE: Kozzi.com

    Monitor posts on social media and only respond when you need to point out why a person’s negative comments are wrong.

FACT: According to Edison Research 42 Percent of  consumers complaining on Social Media expect a response within the hour.

  • Don’t bother reading comments online; you know better than your customers what they need.

FACT: 24% of American adults have  posted comments or reviews online about the product or services they buy.

  • People use Twitter only for personal informatio; with only 140 characters, it can’t be relevant for businesses can it?

FACT: one million people view tweets related to customer service every week and more than 80% of those tweets are of a critical or negative nature.

If you got this far in the post then thanks for reading my rant. Many of the above actually happened to me this week when trying to buy a SaaS  platform! It is sad that despite all the articles written and research conducted, so many companies still get customer service so terribly wrong.

Hopefully in reading this post you have garnered some new facts and figures about customer service and what today’s customers are expecting from us. Or perhaps you got some ideas on how you can improve your own service and responses to your customers. 

Do you have your own fascinating facts about customers and what they expect in terms of service today? If so then please comment below and share them with everyone.

Would you like to know more about connecting and engaging with your customers? We can help. Contact us today and let’s discuss your challenges, but also check our website for more ideas: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage

C³Centricity uses images from Microsoft and Kozzi.com

Where’s Home? Using Br and Source as a Competitive Advantage

Thanks to sc andals in many countries in the last few years, the global Food and Beverage industry has been forced to recognise that consumers want to know where products are made and from where their ingredients come.

Most US retail food stores are now required to inform consumers about the country of origin of fresh fruits, vegetables, fish and meat. The final rule to implement country-of-origin labeling (COOL) took effect on March 16, 2009 there. Sales of prepared dishes containing beef dropped significantly in Europe earlier this year and this resulted in lower prices for wholesalers and eventually also for the farmers. According to Reuters, a recent poll run by Consumer Intelligence in the UK, showed that more than 65% of respondents said they trusted food labels less as a result of recent incidents, so in fact the whole food industry has been impacted.

This interest in sourcing is happening in other industries too, but rather than seeing these dem anding consumers as a challenge, you can answer their thirst for information and turn it into a competitive advantage.  To illustrate how you can do this for your br ands, here are a few br ands, including some of the global heavyweights,  that have done exactly this.

Beverages

Wine, alcohol and coffee have always been sold primarily on origin, because it has a significant impact on taste and consumers’ enjoyment of the products. However the br ands in these categories have usually been built upon their blending expertise or regional knowledge.

SOURCE: Nestle.com

Although tea has also used sourcing to differentiate itself, it is only recently, with the launch of Nestlé’s Special T that a br and has built itself based upon the country of origin of its ingredients. Special T offers teas from five regions of the world, Japan, China, India, Ceylon and South Africa and claims to propose to tea-lovers the same quality and ease of preparation as the very successfulNespresso system.

 

Electronics

Apple.com

This post was prompted in part by the latest, rather indulgent campaign of Apple. The company has been running a cross-media ad campaign with the sign-off “Our Signature“, to state and reinforce its core values. Whilst it cannot claim American sourcing, it has cleverly made an association with the US through their claim “Designed by Apple in California”.

Some, dare I say many, consumers will “hear” American and attribute a better image to the br and than they would with the reality of Asian sourcing (no criticism intended). The ad is also, at least in my opinion, a covert attack on Samsung’s iPhone-threatening Galaxy range whilst also responding to the growing dem and in many countries to repatriate labour from Asia.

Apple has responded to their customers’ need for information by turning a possible perceived negative (Asian sourcing) into a positive (Californian design). Very clever.

 

Cars

Renault logo

Certain industries have perceived best-in-class country associations; take French perfume, Egyptian cotton or Italian fashion. German cars have also been seen as the most robust and well made, at least in Europe, even if they are not always the most attractive in terms of design. The German br and Opel has used the German quality associations as their selling point for both their Corsa and Meriva cars for many years. Thecampaign is so popular that there have been many parodies made and posted on Youtube, including one by French manufacturer Renault. In the latter video, the seller presents his new Renault Mégane with a German accent and phrases, in the exact same style as in the Opel ad; quite amusing and extremely flattering for Opel.

 

How a br and can use COE

According to Wikipedia, the country-of-origin effect (COE) is a psychological effect which occurs when customers are unfamiliar with a product (quality) and the image of the product’s country of origin has a “halo effect” on the customers’ evaluation of the product itself. The country associated with the product may be the country of manufacture, place of assembly, or even just the country in which the company has its HQ. A positive country image may allow marketers to introduce new products while quickly gaining customer recognition and acceptance.

Where is your br and designed, made, or assembled; are your company headquarters in a country with a strong perception that could be used to improve the image of your br and? If so, then you can use it to great effect whilst also answering your customers’ need for more information. A real win-win.

Do you have any other great examples of br ands using the image perceptions of its br and’s country source? If so, please share them below, we’d all love to hear from you.

If you would like to know more about br anding, check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage

Need help in underst anding your br and image and equity or defining suitable metrics? Let us help you catalyse your customer centricity; contact us here.

Solving the “Digital Experience Conundrum” for Large U.S. Banks

Being based in Switzerl and certainly has its advantages, but we are not all multi-millionaires from attracting the fortunes of foreigners, as the press sometimes likes to portray us. It was therefore a pleasure for me to receive this guest post from Bob Thompson, CEO of Customer Think, on retail banking. In it, Bob talks about the mis-match there often is, between customer and bank priorities when it comes to information integration and use. He concludes by saying that US banking is ripe for change. In today’s fast-paced world, I think the same could be said about many industries, perhaps even yours. Enjoy:  

I think one of the key issues faced by retail banks ( and indeed most retail businesses) is what I’ve dubbed the “digital experience conundrum.” This is driven by two powerful trends:

1. Consumers are embracing digital technology, via the Web and smartphones

2. Companies want to encourage this digital shift to improve efficiency and cut costs

The conundrum is that automation can reduce opportunities for more engaging, human experiences that build loyalty. And increased loyalty is a key outcome for customer experience initiatives.

Let me say up front that there are no easy answers here. Retail banks must “go digital” and the large banks certainly are. In fact, recent  PeopleMetrics research found that “customer-facing technology (mobile, digital)” and “internal technology / customer-facing processes” were ranked by banks as their first and second priorities.

Unfortunately, customers have different priorities. They ranked “products” (mainly fees and rates) and “put customer first” as their top priorities, as you can see in this slide presented by Kate Feather of PeopleMetrics at our recent  CX Forum webinar focused on Retail Banking.

peoplemetrics bank priorities misaligned

In an online poll with our live audience, 73% said they believed that the shift to digital experiences would improve customer loyalty. And Bruce Kasanoff of  Now Possible argued that banks should use technology to provide more personalized and relevant services, as you can see here.

kasanoff bank simplify automate elevate

While I agree with Bruce, I’m not convinced that technology alone is the key to driving loyalty. I think it has everything to do with how the technology is used, and the leadership and culture of the organization. Simply automating for efficiency and convenience is table stakes in banking.

What does drive loyalty? In Kate’s research, they found that community banks do a much better job creating an emotional bond in relationship where customers feel “valued, appreciated, and cared for,” as you can see in this chart.

peoplemetrics bank loyalty factors

Now, some have argued (in LinkedIn discussions on this topic) that higher NPS scores don’t really matter. Large banks are doing just fine, thank you very much, without all that touchy feely stuff offered by community banks. One comment by Serge Milman in a LinkedIn discussion group summed up this sentiment:

“Many Banks ( and Credit Unions) have been unable to convert their high customer satisfaction scores / high NPS to customer loyalty as measured by hard quantitative factors such as wallet-share, revenue and profitability.”

And indeed, in our audience poll, the top “major obstacle,” selected by nearly two-thirds of the attendees, was “ROI unclear.” Technology was No. 2 at nearly 50%.

For now, it may be true that large US banks can grow profitably without building “raving fans.” Look at their  ACSI scores  and you’ll find all the large US banks well below the industry average of 77. “All others” (which includes community and regional banks) earn a score of 79.

OK, so maybe the problem is that banks can’t be big  and engaging. They are mutually exclusive! Then how do you explain the  high loyalty scores of USAA? Somehow USAA, a very large and complex financial services business, is able to be emotionally engaging while also investing in digital technology.

My take is that large US retail banks are stuck in their old ways, and are successful enough that they don’t see the need to change. Yet.

Competitive stress could come from community banks that are being more aggressive in wooing customers with better service and higher rates. The partnership with Kasasa looks like an interesting way to shore up technology shortcomings.

Personally, I think the issue is leadership. Large US banks are doing well enough that they’ll stick with minor innovations (e.g. digital channels) around the status quo. They won’t focus on building genuinely loyal (retained and emotional engaged) customer relationships because retention is good enough.

That seems short sighted to me, but then, I don’t have a bonus riding on hitting a quarterly target. George Self said it well in a LinkedIn discussion:

The banking industry is ripe for structural change. The reinvention of banking is not many years away. I for one am looking forward to it.

Me too.

The slide images for this post were sourced from CustomerThink’s CX Forum webinar on June 6, 2013, sponsored by PeopleMetrics.  Full recording and slides are available for download here (free registration required). My sincere thanks to Kate Feather and Bruce Kasanoff for their outst anding contributions to our CX thought leadership program.

Need help in making maximum use of all your information? Let us help you catalyze your customer centricity; contact us here

If you would like to know more about working with and integrating data, whether Big or small, check out our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and

This post has been adapted from one that was first publised on Customer Think on June 11th 2013

Inspiring Quotes to Ignite your Customer Centricity

This week we celebrated Swiss National Day on August 1st. It is a wonderful day of celebrations and sharing, that ends in many communes with a formal speech and bonfire, and if you’re lucky, a wonderful firework display as well.

This gave me the idea that we all need to get excited and fired up occasionally, so here is my sizzling Summer selection of quotes to ignite your own customer centricity.

Each quote is associated with some questions and ideas of actions, as usual. They are all taken from my forthcoming book “Winning Customer Centricity”  which will be published in the second half of 2014.

#1. “There may be Customers without Br ands, but there are no Br ands without Customers” Anon

Marketing is all about br ands, but without our customers, there wouldn’t be any br ands. What did you do for your customers this week? Prove to everyone that you are serious about being more customer centric by signing all your emails with this or another suitable quote.

#2. “Nothing can add more power to your life than concentrating all your energies on a limited set of targets”

This post from Nido Qubein (Businessman, author, speaker, President of High Point University) reminds us of the importance of targeting. Are you precisely choosing the customers you target for each of your br ands or are you just taking anyone who buys the category? Choice means ignoring some category buyers, which is a hard but necessary decision to make. In order to fully satisfy your target, based on your ability to satisfy and win them, concentrate your efforts to increase your chances of success.

#3. “The more you engage with customers the clearer things become and the easier it is to determine what you should be doing”

John Russell (CEO of Manganese Bronze, former VP Harley Davidson Europe) speaks of an essential element of business today, engaging with our customers. When did you last speak directly with your own customers? If you are not doing this at least monthly, and ideally weekly, you are not keeping close to them, nor up-to-date with how they are changing. Please get out of your office NOW! (You can tell your Boss I told you to!)

#4. “If you use st andard research methods you will have the same insights as everyone else”

This quote from David Nichols (Managing Partner at Br andgym) suggests that there is more to be gained than lost, from revising our methodologies, especially when we have been using them for many years. Some people mention lack of comparability as a reason for not changing, but the world is changing so fast that even if our methods don’t, people are changing and will not answer in the same way as in the past.

Therefore ask yourself when did you last review your market research tools? Are you really comfortable that you have all the right methodologies to gather the information you need? Today’s markets are changing and your customers are altering their behaviours even if you aren’t. It is not necessary to replace every tool you use, but you should be constantly challenging your thinking and methodologies to ensure you are doing the best possible information gathering.

#5. “Customer Service shouldn’t be a department; it should be the entire company”

Tony Hsieh (CEO Zappo) is one of a h andful of CEOs who really get customer centricity. He makes customer service the responsibility of everyone in his company and everyone gets to speak directly with the customer in their few weeks of being hired at Zappo.

Who is responsible for serving the customer in your organisation? If your answer is not everyone, as Tony Hsieh of Zappo’s suggests, perhaps it is time to ask yourself why, or rather why not? An organisation can only become truly customer centric if everyone in the company thinks customer first. How can you help everyone underst and that their job is important in satisfying your customers?

#6. “What helps people helps business”

Leo Burnett is often referred to as the father of advertising. Who better therefore to guide our own customer engagement. Today engaging the customer means far more than advertising. If a business thinks customer first and works to satisfying their needs, whether articulated, unarticulated or unimagined, then it will inevitably be successful.

If you are only meeting articulated needs, those specifically mentioned by your customers, then you will constantly be in competition with others satisfying them. Getting to and satisfying as yet unimagined needs, which is what Apple is (were?) great at doing, is the way to exponential growth.

#7. “Being on par in terms of price and quality only gets you into the game. Service wins the game”

Tony Alles andra (Author, entrepreneur, speaker) highlights today’s challenge of differentiation. Even price can no longer win loyalty, as promotions, price cuts and own labels proliferate.

If you are competing on price alone, then you are open to serious challenge. You could even be training your customers to eventually trade down to private label. This is what Nielsen’s Jean-Jacques V andeneede once described as the “Stairway to Agony”. Even if you are of equal quality, you can still lose to a competitor that offers superior service. Customers have been known to accept a higher price or lower quality for a better service. Which are you prioritising?

#8. “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower”

Steve Jobs (American entrepreneur & co-founder of Apple) showed us all the value of innovation and built the company to become synonymous with it right up until his death in October 2011.

However, despite recent criticism of Apple’s lack of truly innovative launches, they have always shown a remarkable power of inventing not what customers want, but what they will want. They have had a talent for underst anding their customers’ future needs better than the customer himself.

This can only come from deep underst anding. Are you a leader or a follower? If you don’t know your customer deeply then you risk becoming a follower, and your innovations are more likely to be merely renovations. Isn’t it time to break out of your innovation box?

#9. “Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things”

We all like to think we are creative and innovative, yet there is a huge difference, as pointed out by Theodore Levitt (Professor at Harvard Business School & editor of HBR).

Are you a thinker or a doer? Insights without action remain theory and are virtually useless in the business world. Make sure all the insights you develop are actionable. How? By integrating information, the hindsights, hearsights and foresights that I mentioned in a recent post (if you missed it you can read it here) Information is not Insight.

#10. “The journey of a thous and miles must begin with a single step”

This Chinese Proverb is a great way to end this post, as it is time to take action, by making that first step towards customer centricity.

Are you happy with where you are on your own journey? If not, what action, what small step can you take today to move your organisation forward? The inspiration from any of the above nine would get you there if you are struggling with where to start.

To summarise the above ten quotes in just one sentence, it would be:

Think customer first; target, engage, satisfy, then rinse and repeat.

Sounds easy doesn’t it and it is, but oh so difficult to do really well.

Are you already advanced on your journey to customer centricity? If so, I would love to hear what was the one step you took that made the biggest difference in moving your organisation forwards. Was it one of the above? Then share your story. Do you think customer centricity is really as simple as “Target, engage and satisfy?” Let me know.

Would you like to know where you are on your own journey to customer centricity? Complete our FREE C³C Evaluator tool: https://www.c3centricity.com/C3Cmembers

Need help in targeting, engaging or satisfying your own customers? The let us help you catalyze your customer centricity; contact us here

C³Centricity uses images from Dreamstime.com and Kozzi.com

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