November 2013 - c3centricity | c3centricity

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Are you MAD? You may be if you’re still doing any of these

I may be mad, but whilst North America celebrates Thanksgiving this week, I am NOT going to talk about it. That already makes me different from every other blogger, newspaper and magazine at the moment! Instead let me start with a story.

It was not a comfortable position to be in. I was facing my doctor for the nth time, who was telling me for the nth time that I would have to get my weight under control. Last year he suspected that I was gluten intolerant, but being a bread lover I didn’t listen too hard, although I did try not to eat it every day. However, I did still include gluten in all my meals in one way or the other and over time these have become the main ingredient of many of them – pasta, chips, risotto anyone?

It was Rita Mae Brown, not Einstein who is often attributed with it, who wrote in one of her books:

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results”

Although Psychology Today would disagree, it does sound pretty mad to do the same thing and expect different results, so I must be mad to expect a different outcome from my gluten “addiction”!

Perhaps you have a similar dilemma in your own personal or professional life, perhaps even both. Well I’ll stick to what I know, with the following examples of madness in work; why not check how “mad” you really are by reviewing them?

#1. Following trends and not applying them to the business

Trends around the worldMAD: It is certainly important to underst and the market and the way things are changing. However trend following is what your competitors are doing too and probably they’re following exactly the same trends as you are. AND almost certainly working on new product ideas that meet these identified trends, just like you.

SANE: Develop the trends into future scenarios. You’ll be looking further out for indications of possible opportunities and risks that you can prepare for before they happen.

SEE “Turning trends into Future Scenarios and the 10-step process you need to do it” for more on this topic.

#2. Hanging on to outdated metrics or measurement tools

MAD: You may be proud that you can track br and image or other metrics back ten, fifteen or even more years. Comparability is great, but only if you are consistently reviewing your metrics and adapting them to the changing environment so they remain relevant.

SANE: Regularly assess the image attributes you are using, adding or eliminating items to ensure a good coverage of both your and your competitors’ br ands. The same goes for any other tracking you might run on a frequent basis. Have consumption or purchasing habits changed? Have new distribution or media channels opened that you’re not following? Make sure you’re not running projects on autopilot.

SEE “Are you happy with your Market Research” for more on this topic.

#3. Ignoring that the world has gone mobile

Multiple connection choices with customersMAD: For anyone over 25 or 30, it is difficult to imagine that someone would prefer to text rather than call, but that is exactly what younger people do today – a lot! So how are you going to reach them? They won’t be at home waiting to see your advertising on the TV or keen to answer the questions of your next market research study.

SANE: Adapt how, where and when you communicate with your customers, as well as the messages you share. Become a trusted adviser, a useful partner rather than just a seller of your wares. Investigate new ways of getting the information you need; try mobile, online, social media analysis, or real-time monitoring as a start.

SEE “What’s keeping marketers up at night & solutions to help them sleep” which covers many of these areas.

#4. Continuing to develop multiple advertising concepts to just before airing

MAD: Too many organisations continue to develop multiple advertising concepts, almost to pre-airing readiness, before getting their customers’ feedback. Whilst this may be the way you’ve always done things, and your ad agency isn’t going to suggest you change, there are better ways to get high-performing communications.

SANE: Get early input from your customers about the possible directions, or use a tool such as PhaseOne’s meaning segments analysis. This will ensure choice happens early in the process and your money can be spent on airing rather than the development of doomed communication concepts.

SEE “Four steps to building br and affinity” for more on this topic.

#5. Innovating using your technical knowledge rather than by better underst anding your customers

Innovation leversMAD: Your R&D people know your products really well and have the skills and techniques to make them. However in many organisations they know very little about the people that will use / consume them. Therefore it doesn’t make sense to let R&D alone decide what the company will be selling in the future.

SANE: Your customers may not be able to tell you what they want, but they almost certainly can tell you what they DON’T want, as well as the problems they are having in certain situations. Wouldn’t that be a better place to start investigating possible new product opportunities?

SEE “How to get R&D excited about innovation” for more on this topic.

#6. Not using the information you’ve got

MAD: The knee-jerk response to information needs is usually to request market research, but most organisations don’t make use of the information they already have.

SANE: Whenever you need to underst and a situation, start by gathering and reviewing everything you already have on the topic. In many cases this will be sufficient to finding your answer. If not, it will give you a precise objective for any further information gathering that is necessary.

SEE “Increasing your information ROI: turning knowledge into gold” for more on this topic.

#7. Not watching and listening to your customers regularly

Watching & listening to customersMAD: Leaving customer connection to your market research suppliers, sales & merch andising teams or call center personnel alone.

SANE: Making it company “policy” for (almost) everyone to connect with your customers on a regular basis. This could be through connection events, call center following or even just attending market research fieldwork. Regular contact with your customers provides invaluable – and free – information on their changing needs and desires.

SEE “How to become a fan of your customer” for more on this topic.

#8. Actioning market research results rather than insights

MAD: Market Research is a useful tool for reducing risk in decision making, but it is rare that one project alone will deliver deep insight. It is only when multiple sources of data and information are integrated that true insights can be developed.

SANE: Besides a first review of all available information mentioned above, identifying the behaviour change you are seeking is a great way of ensuring that market research and information integration lead to insight.

SEE “A new guide to insight development” for more on this topic.

#9. Expecting your customers to call you in office hours

Social media as part of plansMAD: It is naive to expect all your customers to not only accept to wait until your care center is open, but also to expect that everyone is happy to connect by phone.

SANE: Make it easy for customers to contact you because if you don’t, many will get frustrated and just voice their issues on social media. Provide all possible channels of communication, so that your customers can choose the one that best suits their needs: phone, email, postal mail, even your physical address. Also make sure that at a minimum, you are available when your product or service is most likely being used. This means meal times for food and cooking products or in the evening and late night for TV, Internet and Telecom services for example.

SEE “How great customer service leads to great customer loyalty” for more on this topic.

These are just a few of the areas where continuing to run your business without due care of the changing world is total madness. What mad things is your company doing that you would love to change? I am sure we’d all love to hear about your own insane examples.

Need help in sorting out a few “mad” practices in your company? Let us help you catalyse your customer centricity; contact us here.

C³Centricity uses images from  Dreamstime.com  and  Kozzi.com

Why Customers are your Secret Ingredient to Growth

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If you are like most businesses, you manage your factories, products and br ands with precision, efficiency and care. You develop new products, you renovate your packs, define new communication concepts and exp and your distribution. However, if you are like most businesses, you also sometimes forget that the secret ingredient to growth, is not (only) your products or the services you offer; it is your customers. Underst and them, surprise and delight them and your business will remain healthy.

I recently spoke to a company with exactly this dilemma, how to grow their very successful business even further. Having thought about possible solutions for them, I decided to share some of the ideas I came up with, as I’m sure that you too will find them useful.

The 5 ways to grow

The customer journey to growing your businessAll businesses want to grow market share and profit. Unfortunately there are only a finite number of ways to do this:

  • Get more customers
  • Get current customers to buy more
  • Get current customers to spend more
  • Reduce costs
  • Increase margins

Notice that three of these are directly linked to the customer, so that is why I refer to them as the secret ingredient to growth. I’m not discounting the other two, but arguably they take longer to action and see results, so for quicker impact, let’s concentrate on the customer.

Get more customers

Getting more customers for more businessIn order to get more customers you first need to learn who buys and why, as well as who doesn’t and why. In the latter group we also need to separate those who buy from a competitor and those who don’t buy the category at all. To underst and these three groups, you will need to gather information on the customers, as much and as deeply as you can. For more on this, please check out a recent post on the topic “13 things your boss expects you to know about your customer

The other essential to underst anding how to get more customers, is to know what your br and st ands for, its image and equity. By comparing these between the three groups, you will get clear indications of what needs to be changed and how to influence them. You will see why one group buys and the other doesn’t buy your br and, and perhaps also a better underst anding of why some don’t buy the category at all and that’s not always as easy as just a lack of the relevant need.

 

Get current customers to buy more

There are several ways to get your current customers to buy more; they could buy bigger quantities when they do buy, or just buy the same quantity but more frequently. In some industries there are a finite number of occasions or quantities that can be bought, but I have found that these limitations are often not as strict as many businesses think they are:

  • Whilst a person can only be on one plane at a time, they could fly with friends or family, or use the airline for more trips
  • A person can only eat one lunch or dinner, but your product could be served more than once a week / month
  • Someone may only have one car to insure, but would also need insurance for themselves, their family, pets, house or apartment
  • A housewife only needs a few pots and pans, or one food mixer, but she could be interested in buying specialised plates, serving dishes or equipment for particular meals or ethnic food preparation

When you underst and your customers better, these alternative product offerings become much more easily identifiable. In addition, since they are already customers, you should also have hopefully gained their trust, which makes them more open to purchasing again from you. And don’t forget the 80/20 Rule or Pareto’s principle, which often applies to business:

“80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers”

Concentrate on those 20% and ensure you satisfy their current needs and endeavour to identify their future needs too – which brings me nicely to the next solution.

 

Get current customers to spend more

Customers are happy to spend more if they trust youGetting your customers to spend more can be as simple as mentioned above, through them simply buying more quantity, or by upgrading what they buy to a more expensive product or service. There is, however,  both good and bad news for you in this.

Stairway to br and heaven or hell!The good news is that perhaps surprisingly, ever since the recession, customers are willing to spend more on certain categories than they did in the past. Whilst they struggle to make ordinary day-to-day purchases, they correspondingly splash out occasionally and treat themselves with better quality products and services from time to time. If you underst and this, then you can be there where and when the urge hits them.

The bad news is that in reaction to declining sales, even before the recession, many companies started promoting more or dropping their prices. Once you have conditioned your customers to expect these lower prices, you are on the slippery slope to br and hell, as described in “Are you on the way to br and heaven or hell?

So there it is. Customers are the secret ingredient to br and and business success. Think customer first and market share and profit will follow.

If you enjoyed this post, why not share it with others by forwarding or Tweeting it; and do sign up to receive them directly in your inbox every Friday.

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

C³Centricity uses images from  Dreamstime.com, Microsoft and  Kozzi.com

 

Clues to a Great Br and Story

Storytelling exists in all cultures; it is used to convey learning and history, as well as to entertain children and adults alike. Stories were developed down through the ages as a means of transferring knowledge, long before books and now the web enabled their storage.

Storytelling has risen in importance in business over the last decade to become one of the essential skills of CEOs and CMOs alike. And with the introduction of websites and Fan pages, for br ands as well.

Br and stories are perhaps one of the easiest ways to resonate with customers, which hopefully then leads to those highly sought-after but ever-diminishing rewards of loyalty and advocacy. Of course I say “easiest” with caution, since great storytelling is an art that is often learned but rarely truly mastered. ( and I knowingly accept that I’m too often in that group!)

One of the best places to find great storytellers, and stories in general, is on TED. One of the most popular talks on the topic “The Clue to a great story” was given in February 2012 by Andrew Stanton. Stanton is the Pixar writer and director behind both Toy Story and WALL-E, both incredible stories, I’m sure you’d agree. I was reminded of this fascinating talk recently, because it was turned into a beautiful infographic on the TED Blog. We all love infographics almost as much as stories, so I was inspired to take the five “clues” Stanton talked about and apply them to br and stories.

Make me Care

According to Stanton, a story needs to start by drawing sympathy from the audience. In the beginning, the hero is rejected or badly treated by family, friends, employers, circumstances, or the world; think Cinderella or the loveable WALL-E as typical examples. Their plight immediately sets the stage for building feelings of concern in the audience, especially when identified as unfair or outside the control of the hero, which is often the opening scene.

Plutchik's wheel of emotionsIn the case of br ands I believe the emotions most sought are on the opposite side of Plutchiks’ Wheel of Emotions (above); those of trust, admiration or anticipation. People spend money on br ands because the believe they will provide pleasure and / or solve a problem. Our job is to not only satisfy this need, but to go even further by turning that expectation into surprise and delight (more on that later).

Take me with you

In storytelling there is a promise of a journey, a mystery or of a problem solved; something that entices the reader or listener to stay and learn more.

StorytimeA br and wants its customers to stay and become loyal, so it too makes promises, whether real or imagined. When I first started working at Philip Morris International, there was a rumour amongst consumers that Marlboro was financing the Ku Klux Klan in the US, because its packaging had three red rooftops or “K’s” on it. Management obviously didn’t want this imagined, so one of the K’s was removed by making the bottom of the pack solid red.

However, consumers’ desire for mystery was so strong that another quickly emerged, that of Marlboro hating Blacks, Asians and Indians. This second story came about because a consumer had found the printer reference line of coloured dots on the inside of the pack when it had been dismantled. This time there was little management could do, other than to deny it, which appeared to have the opposite affect of further confirming the rumour.

Customers love to tell stories about “their” br ands. There are many myths about the greatest br ands around, often starting from their packaging or communications. Toblerone has the “Bear of Berne” and the Matterhorn, exemplifying its Swiss origin, on its pack and the chocolate itself is shaped like a mountain. Camel has the “Manneken Pis from Brussels” on the back leg of the camel. Whereas the former was intentional, I don’t think JTI planned that into their design; consumers just imagined and then shared their fidning, turning it into reality.

Other br ands have developed stories through their communications, that are also shared and repeated into reality by their customers. Examples of these include Columbia outdoor wear’s “Tough Mother” campaign, Harley Davidson’s enabling “middle aged” men to become bikers at the weekend, or Dove’s campaign for real women to name just a few. All these stories confirm and further support the connection their customers have with them, making these br ands almost a part of their families.

Be Intentional

In a story, the hero has an inner motivation driving them to a goal. They will encounter problems and challenges along the way but their motivation remains strong to reach their goal.

4-quadrantsFor a br and this motivation is what it st ands for, its equity. What is the br and’s image, its personality, what benefits can the customer expect? Not only is it important to identify these, but perhaps even more importantly is to consistently portray them in everything a br and does. From its product, to packaging, communications to sponsorships, the motivation for the customer can only remain strong if consistently and continuously reenforced.

 

Let me like you

A story depends on a hero with whom the audience can empathise; someone worthy of their respect, even love.

This is exactly the same for br ands, which is why problems and crises need to be h andled quickly, fairly and respectfully. In today’s world of global connection, everything a br and says or does, anywhere in the world, is shared and commented upon globally. Whereas in the past disappointed customers may have told ten others, today it is estimated to be more like ten million thanks to social media!

In a great article entitled “What an angry customer costs” by Fred Reichheld it is said that the cost to companies of haters or detractors is enormous. “Successful companies take detractors seriously. They get to the root cause of customers’ anger by listening to complaints, taking them seriously and fixing problems that might be more pervasive” But it’s not merely a question of preventing the spread of negative word of mouth. As Reichheld himself says “For many customers … (resolving complaints) …is where true loyalty begins“.

(Surprise and) Delight me

Stanton says that stories should charm and fascinate the audience; for br ands we should aim for surprise and delight, as previously mentioned. The surprise of learning something new about the product or company that made it; delight at getting unexpected gifts or attention from the br and.

This is where limited editions and seasonal offers first started but over the last few years, thanks to today’s connected world, br ands are going much further:

  • In 2010 SpanAir delivered an Unexpected Luggage Surprise for its customers flying over Christmas Eve
  • Also in 2010, another airline KLM, had staff members prepare gifts for a select few passengers who tweeted about their pending departure on a KLM flight at the airport
  • Tropicana  brought “Artic Sun” to the remote Canadian town of Inuvik, where residents live in darkness for weeks each winter
  • Zappos are known for their excellent customer service, but they often go the extra mile, upgrading customer shipping to expedited service for free. The surprise of the speed and delight at their accompanying h and-written mail, hits home every time
  • Kleenex surprised sick people with their Feel Good campaign that targeted people Tweeting about going down with the ‘flu
  • Google, who are known for their creative and timely illustrations on their homepage, started showing a birthday cake as the image above the search box on people’s birthday

The last example actually happened to me a couple of months ago and I have to say I was so excited I actually Tweeted about it. Am I the only one who was touched by this gesture, because I haven’t heard anyone else mentioning it?

So those are Stanton’s five clues to a great story, adapted for br ands. Do they work? What stories are told about your own br ands? Or do you have other great examples to share?

For more on br ands please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage/ or contact us here for an informal chat about how we could support your own br and building efforts.

C³Centricity used images from Microsoft, CopyPress.com, Dreamstime.com in this post

How Great Customer Service Leads to Great Customer Loyalty (And That’s What We All Want!)

Last week I wrote about some of the issues keeping marketers up at night and offered some suggested actions for each. Do you know what they are? Are you too worried about them?

The number one challenge faced by marketers today is reaching their customers, which may come as a surprise in this multi-channel, always on, environment we live in. However, once you have reached them and convinced them to buy, you still have the, perhaps even tougher, challenge of keeping them.

With so much on offer and the desire for novelty constantly growing, customer loyalty is declining. In fact, according to Bain & Co and Kantar Worldpanel’ 2012 survey mentioned, 50% of a brand’s ‘loyal’ users today will not be with them one year from now. 

Therefore, to follow on from last week’s post, I want to review what makes good customer service, since I believe it is one of the few ways of both building and keeping loyalty, as well as getting that vital advocacy that can grow your customer base even further. And I don’t seem to be alone in this belief.

Steven Van Belleghem wrote a great post on “Why customer loyalty is declining and what companies can do about it in which he shares his views on why this is so and what companies should do about it. His three solutions were:

1.      Treating customers well

2.      Treating employees well

3.      Doing good for society

So, assuming we accept (at least) his first solution, what do you need to do to treat customers really well? Here are a few thoughts from my side, but feel free to add your own ideas below:

#1. Really value the customer

Dyson cCustomer Service even in the foundationWhen I was younger I was very house proud, but these days I prefer surfing to dusting! That is one of the reasons why I have a Dyson vacuum cleaner; it gets the job done more easily and speedily and without too much mess or effort. You can therefore understand my frustration when the turbo brush stopped working. This was the second time in four years that this piece had ceased to function properly; the first time I was told that the newly introduced guarantee didn’t apply to me as I had bought my cleaner before its introduction! I therefore found myself paying a hefty price to replace the brush head.

Imagine my surprise therefore when I called Dyson this week and was told that as I had already bought a replacement brush before, this new one was going to be offered to me for free, in appreciation of my loyalty! Talk about being surprised AND delighted. The two-week delay for its delivery, which could have frustrated me, suddenly was no longer an issue; I’ll make do for now.

Dyson understands their customers. They turned a problem – being out-of-stock – into an opportunity to reinforce my loyalty. They clearly value my custom AND my patience and are happy to pay the (small) price in exchange for my continued loyalty.

#2. Go above and beyond in service

Zappos is built on customer serviceZappos is known for their excellent service and have actually made it their mission. As they themselves say “We’ve aligned the entire organization around one mission: to provide the best customer service possible. Internally, we call this our WOW philosophy”.

In line with their mission, they have a model they call the “Happiness Experience Form” that they use to measure what they consider to be the four critical factors of customer delight:

  1. Did the agent try twice to make a personal emotional connection (PEC)?
  2. Did they keep the rapport going after the customer responded to their attempt?
  3. Did they address unstated needs?
  4. Did they provide a “wow experience”?

I particularly like their #3 factor, responding to unstated needs; that takes customer service to a whole new level that few organisations achieve. Unfortunately, many still don’t even satisfy customers’ stated needs!

Zappos NPS (net promoter score) rose 5% points following the introduction of the happiness experience form. That’s pretty impressive, wouldn’t you say? If you’d like to read more about Zappos customer service practices, I would recommend CRM Analyst Ashley Verrill’s “ A Zappos Lesson in Customer Service Metrics”.

 #3. Understand your customers’ experience

anding customer service opportunities” src=”https://www.c3centricity.com/newblog/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Final-path-to-purchase-300×180.png” width=”240″ height=”144″ />In order to delight your customers you need to take their perspective, not yours. This can be done in many ways. You can organise connection sessions where employees go shopping with customers or meet them in their homes. You can spend time listening to call centre exchanges or following market research projects in person. For a complete review of all the different ways to connect and learn from your customers check out “ How to become a fan of your customer” or search the “observation” or “customer service” categories by clicking on the words just below this post’s title.

Emirates customer service journey mappingUnderstanding the journey your customers make, to compare, choose, purchase and then build to loyalty and advocacy, is one way to bring competitive value. Emirates airlines have done a great exercise in customer journey mapping and use it intensively in their training. What they have done particularly well in my opinion is linking each experience to emotions, highlighting strong and weak, positive and negative emotions to each one.

Taking their customers’ perspective and understanding the emotions connected with each has enabled them to earn much respect – and loyalty – within the industry.

Really valuing your customers means that you will do whatever it takes to not only meet their needs, but even surpass them. They should be surprised and delighted by your customer service, which makes understanding the purchase process from their perspective absolutely essential. If you manage to do that and correct any sticking points where your customers are having negative emotions, you will more likely achieve increased loyalty and hopefully advocacy too. 

If you need help in optimising your own care centres or customer connections then we would love to support your plans. We know we can help, just tell us where and when. Contact us here and check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage

No Obligation, just INSPIRATION!

C³Centricity used images from Dyson, Zappos and Emirates in this post

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