5 Powerful Ways to Upgrade Your Customer Journey Maps

Mapping your customer journey is an important part of understanding and satisfying them better. Since the travel and leisure industries are still in turmoil after covid, I believe that now is a good time to review how they treat their customers. And this should include their customer journey mapping.

Through the example of an experience I had with the Hilton Group, I share some important lessons about getting customer service right! These will be invaluable as the travel industry fights to recover. 

 

Background

Each year around Christmas time, my family get together for a weekend of fun somewhere in Britain. Last year we met up in Bristol. As a Hilton Honors member for more than twenty years, I offered to book rooms for all of us in the local Doubletree.

I expected to get a better rate with my membership, and certainly cheaper than those offered by all the booking sites. Well, I reserved five double rooms for the weekend, as well as a table for ten in their restaurant for dinner on the Saturday evening.

I booked directly by calling the hotel, as I always prefer to do. I expect to be recognised for my loyalty – and if possible rewarded too! On this occasion I was proven seriously wrong!

A couple of weeks after booking and pre-paying for all the rooms, I received Hilton’s weekly newsletter offering me a significant discount for the exact same hotel and dates. Clearly their online pixels had identified me as being interested in this hotel, but they hadn’t connected this interest with my having booked directly. You can already see from this, that their customer journey mapping is incomplete.

As Hilton offer a “guaranteed lowest rate” I reached out to their call centre and was told that yes I was entitled not only to the lower rate, but to an additional 25% discount for having made the claim. I was told how to complete the claim form and I hung up ecstatic that I could save my family even more money – which we would no doubt spend in the bar before and after our dinner!

Imagine my surprise when the next day I was informed that my claim had been refused! I was notified that the guaranteed lowest rate only applied to third-party sites and not to Hilton’s own website!

Guaranteed lowest rates should mean just that! Otherwise you're just cheating the customer. #CEX #CRM #Customer Click To Tweet

I immediately responded and was again told that their guarantee didn’t apply to their own rates. In addition, as I had pre-paid I could not get the lower rate even if it was now being offered!

Not being one to take “no” for a final answer, I contacted their corporate customer service group again, as I felt my loyalty was not being recognized. I was once more given the same response, but this time was informed that my request would be forwarded directly to the hotel concerned – no doubt to get me off their (corporate) backs!

The hotel immediately responded saying that although it is corporate policy not to include direct bookings in their lowest rate guarantee (?!!), they would in this case give me the special offer. I was very pleased that they at least recognised the benefit of customer satisfaction and restored my faith in the Hilton group – somewhat.

That should have been the end of this story, but it’s not. Hilton surpassed themselves this time in terms of customer service, or rather a serious lack of it!

My brother called me the following week and informed me that the hotel’s website was showing that their restaurant was closed on the day I had booked it. I immediately rang them and spoke to the same person, who remembered me and assured me our table for ten people was booked. She said she would double check again just to be sure, so in the afternoon I called back not wanting any last minute problems with my family.

Surprise, surprise, I was told the restaurant was booked for a private party. What about my reservation made more than a month ago? Shouldn’t someone have contacted me? I demanded to speak to the manger, who apart from profuse apologies, said she would raise the issue in their operations meeting later that day.

She called me back that evening, to say that there was nothing she could do. It was their mistake and they would be happy to book me elsewhere in the city. I explained that my family had booked six rooms for two nights at their hotel so we could eat at their famous restaurant (my married sister had booked separately). No solution offered; an admission of fault but no compensation offered and no alternative other than to book at another restaurant! Their suggestion was their sister hotel down the road, a bland, modern affair, with no atmosphere.

This farcical situation continued during the whole weekend, but I won’t bore you with the details, as I would rather use this incident to demonstrate how Hilton (and you) can be better prepared.

 

Three Lessons Learned about Customer Journey Mapping

So what lessons can we learn from this example, even if we work in a different industry? I came up with the following points, but I would love to hear what other issue of customer journey mapping you are having; just leave me a comment below please.

Replacing a faulty product or service is what customers expect, but it's not enough! Do more to surprise & delight: these will be shared with friends and family. Click To Tweet

Customer journey mapping has become much more complex today, as the touchpoints our customers are using, before, during and after purchase, have expanded exponentially. However the process of identifying and understanding the complete journey remains essential to delighting each and every customer.

 

BONUS Ideas

1. One further element which I suggest my clients add to their journey maps is the emotional state of their customers at each point of interaction. This simple addition is a powerful addition and clearly shows where a brand needs to improve its customers’ experience. It highlights those touchpoints where their customers’ emotional state is sub-optimal and needs improving.

2. And one final suggestion that I give my clients, is to become your customer. Go our and buy what you are selling. Experience different outlets, different buying experiences, covering as many, if not all, the touchpoints. It will amaze you how much you can learn from this simple exercise. 


Do you need help developing or updating your own customer journey map?

C3Centricity offers several 1-Day Catalyst training sessions on the topic.  Download the brochure to learn more.

If you prefer, we can also work directly with your team to review and revitalise your own customer journey mapping.

10 Steps to Turn Trend Following into a Competitive Advantage

Most major organisations conduct some sort of societal trend following. It might surprise you to hear that I believe that this is a huge problem!

Think about it. They are all following the same trends, attending the same trend “shows” & conferences, and getting the same or at least very similar reports. This results in them all working on the same ideas & concepts, and eventually launching very similar products and services that will struggle to compete effectively.

Have you never wondered why suddenly everyone is talking about a certain topic, or using similar slogans, or launching similar offers? Now you know why.

Here’s how to avoid this and develop a powerful competitive advantage.

 

Market Evidence

I want to start by sharing just one example of the problem I just mentioned. Think back a few years ago and you will see that many companies started using the idea of “YES” and “NO” in their advertising. In Europe these included:

    • The Swiss Migros Bank: see the videos here – only in French & German but still easy to understand whatever language you speak.
    • Coke’s Say Yes to Love campaign.
  • Coke say yes to love

 

 

These are just three examples from very different industries, but I’m sure there are many others in the country you yourself live in. (If so do drop me a line, or share in the comments below, I’d love to hear about other examples)

Clearly the trend for more independence and freedom has been emphasised in all three organisations mentioned above. Perhaps they are working with the same trend or advertising agency. Or maybe they are buying the same external trend reports. It certainly looks like it, doesn’t it?

Companies that develop concepts based upon this type of external resource alone, can find themselves in a race to be the first to market when using the ideas that are proposed to them.

Incidentally, it is not always best to be the first when introducing new concepts to consumers, especially when they require a period of learning new ways of thinking or working.

So what can you do about it? The vital step that many – dare I say most – organisations don’t take, is to turn the trends they are following into future scenarios.

The vital step that many organisations don’t take, is to turn trends they are following into plausible future scenarios. #Trends #Scenarios #Planning #Strategy #BusinessDevelopment Click To Tweet

Scenario planning not only ensures original thinking and ideas, but also takes the development of new concepts in-house, where it belongs.

Then, the new product and service concepts, the new advertising campaigns, the new promotions that are developed are unlikely to ever be the same as those of the competition and will therefore have a greater chance of success.

 

Turn Trend Following into Future Scenarios

Organisation working with progressed trends have generally established their own process for turning trends into future scenarios. They all follow a similar pattern to the ten-step process summarised below:

Following the process as summarised above and also including all five of the additional criteria mentioned, provides the greatest chance of success in building plausible future scenarios that get actioned by your business.

If you have never done a scenario planning exercise before it may seem daunting, at least at first. Therefore, it makes sense to have an experienced external guide to support you throughout the process.

These are some first thoughts on the importance of scenario planning and how to get started in it, based upon my own experience working with many of the major Fortune 500 companies. I would love to hear your own thoughts on the best way to get a company to move from trend following alone, to the more promising process of future scenario planning.

Don’t limit your competitivity by only conducting societal trend following. Turn them into proprietary future scenarios.  That will provide you with a real advantage. If you need help, let us know; we’re ready to support you. Contact us HERE.

7 Ideas to from Great Leaders to Make Your Leadership Style More Effective

I’d like to start this post with a story about some great leaders. As you know, I published my book Winning Customer Centricity a few years ago. And being the customer centric champion that I am, I wanted to ensure that people could buy it wherever they were and in whatever format they preferred.

This meant offering hardback, paperback and Kindle versions. It also involved recording an audiobook. Now you’re probably thinking, as I myself did going into it, “How difficult is it to read out loud?”

I went for my first day of recording with not much more preparation than getting my book printed off. What a mistake! Luckily we had technical problems and Tony Johnston, who helped me with the project, decided to redo the first part again a week or so later.

That extra time gave me the chance to do two invaluable things. Firstly, to get some coaching from two incredibly talented – and patient! – actors, Pamela Salem and Michael O’Hagan. Secondly, to better prepare myself by reading the book out loud several times, and then marking it up with pauses, emphases and other notes, to make the recording more agreeable to the listener.

However, after successfully recording the first half of the book, I again fell back into my usual ways of presentation mode on the second day, and Tony once again, generously offered to re-record it. So I went back to my dream team of coaches, and did some intensive voice training and exercises. And lucky for me – and Tony – it was third time lucky. You can judge for yourself by listening to a sample on Amazon.

By now, you’re probably thinking “Nice story Denyse, but what does all of this have to do with me and my business?”

Great question; let me answer it by simply saying “A lot!” Read on, to find my easily applied learnings that will make your leadership style more efficient and effective, no matter what industry you work in. And in addition, by adopting all seven behaviours, you will be portraying a more customer centric style and become a great leader yourself.

 

1. We should never stop learning

As we rise in the corporate world, we seem to forget that we don’t know it all! We sometimes even think that we should have all the answers, or worse still, believe that we do!

I’m often quoted as saying:

“A day without learning is a day without living”

It’s vital that we continuously strive to keep learning and challenging our every-day habits and behaviours. Lifelong learning should be everyone’s mantra.

This has become increasingly important because technical advances are coming almost daily, so we need to constantly rethink the way we work. We should be adapting and integrating those technologies which could improve our business processes.

 

2. We should accept help

Some people find it hard to ask for help or even to accept it when it is offered. This is foolish, since we cannot be an expert in every area of business. In fact if we lead a team, whether just a few people or many thousands, we should above all else, be an excellent people manager.

You can never know as much as everyone under you and that isn’t your job. So stop trying to always be right. Ask the help and advice of the clever people you hired and then make the right decision based on their input.

Great leaders understand this and surround themselves with experts in different areas where they may need support. Are you a great leader?

Great leaders understand they can't do it all and surround themselves with experts in different areas where they may need support. Are you a great leader? #Leadership #Leader #Learning #Business Click To Tweet

BONUS: #8 Prepare for the Unthinkable

I would encourage all leaders to revise their vision with these seven points in mind.

But I’d like to add a bonus idea that will truly impact the success of an organisation by preparing it for future challenges. And we all know that the world is constantly changing and usually not in the ways we expect.

To face such uncertainty, I tell my clients that they should not be content with following the latest fads and trends. Everyone is doing the same thing, so there is no real competitive advantage in doing so.

Instead, I encourage them to work with future scenario planning; and you should too. I will be sharing my 10-step process in an upcoming post so I suggest you watch out for it if you want to learn more about the topic.

 

These are just a few of the ways that the great leaders I have had the privilege to meet and advise, make a real difference in their organisations. I hope you have been inspired to make a few changes in your own thinking.

If you have something to add, then please do leave a comment; the more challenging the better!

5 Secrets You Need to Know About Brand Portfolio Success

How do you know when you have too many variants in your brand portfolio? In my opinion, the answer is that it’s when you can’t answer that question! Can you?

One of the most popular evergreen posts on C3Centricity is “The Beginners Guide to Brand Portfolio Management.” It seems that we all suffer from a deep-rooted fear of managing and reducing our brand portfolio, especially when it includes many historic or regional variants.

That is why I decided to write about these best-kept secrets in portfolio management, which even large corporations are not always aware of!

 

MORE IS RARELY BETTER!

We live in an over-abundant world of consumer choice, but more is rarely better. The paradox of choice is a powerful concept  popularised by Barry Schwartz.

It states that people actually feel freer when they are given fewer choices. Have you never ended up walking out of a store without the purchase you had planned, because you had been faced with too many choices? I know I have – often!

It is said that the limited choice offered in hard discounters in one of the reasons for their success. It appears that it’s not only about lower prices.

Retailers such as Aldi and Lidl present just one or two brands of each category they stock, in addition to their own brand. The branded products they do sell are almost always the cheapest offering the brand has, or one of their older versions that are no longer very popular. And they are usually at the same price if not even higher than in normal supermarkets!

In this over-abundant world of consumer choice, more is rarely better. #consumer #brand #Marketing Click To Tweet

More than fifteen years after the first research on which Schwartz based his theory was conducted, new studies have given some alternative perspectives on choice. They claim that large assortments are not always a bad thing. In the study by Gao & Simonson, they propose that there are many factors which were forgotten in Schwartz’s original study.

You can read the full findings of this latest work in Neuromarketing. What I found of particular interest in this article, being the customer champion that I am, is that they conclude by saying that it all depends on understanding your customer – doesn’t everything?! Their summary findings state that:

“In certain situations (when the ‘whether to buy’ decision comes before the ‘which option is best’ decision) a large assortment CAN increase purchase likelihood. Especially in eCommerce, it is possible to reap the benefits of a large product assortment, while helping customers make choices?”

In other words, the online searches that we all now perform before purchasing many articles, will benefit from a wide selection of offers. Once we have decided to buy, then a large choice can become a barrier to the final purchase.

Renovations should be replacements of less successful offers, not additions to your already over-extended brand. Otherwise you end up confusing your customers with too much choice. #Brand #Marketing #Portfolio Click To Tweet

THE 5 SECRETS

In conclusion, to summarise the best strategies for brand portfolio management, which seem to be a well-guarded secret since many corporations still ignore them, are:

  1. Remember, that if you offer a vast choice of variants for each brand, consumers could get analysis paralysis and end up walking out of the store without buying anything.
  2. You need to manage the corporate brand just as you do your other brands, especially if it appears prominently on packaging or your other communications’ materials.
  3. Make an annual review of all your brands and variants and ruthlessly cut the bottom 20%. If you want to keep any of them, then you must have a good reason – such as that it’s a recent launch – and a plan to actively support them.
  4. Innovate less but better. Be more targeted with each innovation and include your consumers in their development.
  5. Be realistic in your distribution targets. Know what will sell where and why. Not only are you more likely to keep your share, but you’ll also make friends with your retailers.

 

Coming back to the leading consumer brands from the Interbrands’ list, all top ten excel in brand portfolio strategies that are precisely differentiated, clearly targeted and well communicated.

David Aaker wrote an article on L’Oreal a few years ago that explains the above theories very well. Even if it’s from December 2013, not much has changed and it still makes a great read; highly recommended.

I believe that most brands with tens or hundreds of variants in a market, are being managed by lazy marketers. People who don’t have the courage to manage their brands effectively by regularly trimming their poorest performers. They must face up to the lack of success of some of their “babies”.

Are you one of these marketers? What’s your excuse? I’d love to hear your reasons for keeping all your SKUs.


Need help in cleaning up your brand portfolio, so you can put your efforts where they will bring the most return?

Let’s talk; contact me here.

Packaging: Are You Using This Free Channel For Communicating With Your Customers?

Do you consider your packaging to be a part of the product, protecting its contents and framing its on-shelf life? Or do you consider it to be an integral part of your connection with your customers at an important moment of truth, that of purchase and usage? Or both of these?

If you answered both, then I believe that you are making maximum use of your packaging or at least you recognise its potential for communicating.

If you answered only one of the choices, then you may be missing an important opportunity. Let me explain, with a few examples.

 

People don’t read instructions

We all expect most things that we use or consume to be intuitive these days. In other words, we assume that we will understand how to build / cook / use them without reading the manual / instructions.

We all expect most things that we use to be intuitive these days. We assume that we will understand how to build / cook / use them without reading the manual / instructions. How intuitive is your brand? Click To Tweet

If you are like most people – myself included – this has nothing to do with the complexity of the product concerned. I myself will only turn to the instructions when something doesn’t work: I end up with left-over screws when mounting a flat-pack piece of furniture, or I can’t achieve multi-recordings on my smart TV or cable box.

In the article How Likely Are You to Read the Instructions they link behaviour to personality types. It makes an interesting read and offers at least some explanations as to why many (most?) of us still don’t read instructions.

Since the internet arrived, we have access to more and more information, and yet we seem to be reading less and less. Therefore as marketers, we need to ensure that any vital information we want to share, is clearly highlighted on the pack.

 

People do look at packs

Whether it is the cream we put on our faces, the cereal we eat for breakfast, or the dip that we offer to friends on match night, there are moments when we are faced with packaging for more than a split second. It is at these times that we are likely to read at least some of what is written on the pack.

It therefore makes sense to provide more than just a list of ingredients. After all you have your customer’s attention, so make use of it to impress or educate.

Here are a few of the best examples I have come across:

Nestle compass on Packaging is Part of Product or PromotionNestlé does a great job of providing useful information on their pack,s with their “nutritional compass.” This includes four different pieces of information: good to know, good to remember, good question and the nutritional data.

What I particularly like about what Nestle has done, is to combine mandatory information on nutritional values, with useful information for the consumer. Although they may not be the most consumer centric company around, at least they did think consumer first in the development of their “compass.”

 


Our customers’ attention is constantly pulled in all directions today, with thousands of messages pushed at them, from so many channels. Capturing their attention is more likely to be successful when they are open to learning about your product, that is to say, when they are buying or actually using it. It therefore makes good business sense to use packaging more creatively; wouldn’t you agree?

I’d like to finish with a suggestion of a fun exercise you can do both alone or as a team. Have a look at your packs right now and assume the only things you know about the brand are from this. What conclusions would you draw from it?


For more information on the support we can provide in product innovation and branding, please check out our website here: https://bit.ly/3Q6OIYz

This post is regularly updated and expanded from the original published on C3Centricity.

 

 

10 Ways to Improve Customer Centricity Today

Many of you know that it is vital to continuously improve your customer centricity. You must put the customer clearly at the heart of your business in everything you do. But that’s easier said than done, because your customers are constantly changing.

I think that’s why many businesses struggle to improve their customer centricity, because they don’t know where to start. Am I right? If so, then this article is especially for you. 

This week I want to share ten simple actions to accelerate your organisation along its path to improved customer centricity. 

 

#1 Review the description of your target audience

Complete this 4W persona template for customer centricityLet’s start at the very beginning – with the customer of course!

Do all your brands have a clear description of their target audience? These days we tend to refer to these as personas or avatars. Whatever you call yours, they should be precise, detailed and ideally visual as well.

If you haven’t yet developed your persona, or you know it is not as complete as it could be, why not use our new C3Centricity 4W™ Persona Template? Complete the who, what, where and why for each of your brands and finally understand who you are aiming to attract.

I suggest you also complete one for your company if it appears predominantly on your packaging or communications. I did this for a client and found that some of their brands were positioning themselves in opposition to their company image. As you can imagine, this was getting them nowhere and in fact damaging both their brand and their company image!

Include in your own persona template not only demographics and consumption / purchasing habits, but also information about where your customers do these things, what values they have that you can tap into, and what emotions motivate them to use your brand.

If your current persona doesn’t include all this information, it is probably time to update it – and why not with our 4W™ template?

 

#2 Optimise how you connect with your customers

Do you know the best way to contact your target customers, as well as their preferred place and time to connect? You should after completing your updated persona template.

Review how you communicate with your customer and what information exchange there is at that time. Is it a one-way or two-way discussion? Are you in a monologue or a dialogue?

Obviously the second communication style is what you should be aiming for. You can learn far more about your customers when they are ready to share their information with you. And that comes when they trust you to keep their data safe and know that you only collect what you need to give them a superior experience. Make sure that’s what you are doing.

Review how you communicate with your customer and what information exchange there is at that time. Are you in a monologue or a dialogue? Which would they prefer? #BrandBuilding #BrandCommunication Click To Tweet

 

#3 Identify the needs your brand is addressing

Do you know what needs your customer has and which of them you are tapping into?

Which customer need are you solvingThey certainly have several needs, but you should be aiming to address only one of their needs.

If you attempt to address more than one need at the same time, and especially if they are not sequential, your customer will get confused as to what solution you are helping them solve. Clarity is definitely the name of the game when it comes to brand positioning.

Mixed brand messages on what the brand can do for your customer, will leave them perplexed. This will, in turn, reduce the likelihood that they will be convinced your offer can offer a real solution.

Knowing where your brand sits on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has one additional benefit. It can increase the success of regional and global launches by identifying groups and cultures with similar levels of a specific need.

 

 #4 Make your customers everyone’s responsibility

Who in your organisation is thinking about your customers? Is customer care only on the objectives of one or two departments? Perhaps you think it’s only for the customer service employees or merchandisers and promoters to do.

It should, in fact, be on everyone’s annual objectives. Each employee should get the chance to watch, listen and engage with your customers on a regular basis. This will help them to understand how their work fits into the company’s overall objective to not only satisfy but to delight customers too.

Every employee has a role to play in customer centricity and connecting with the customers on a frequent basis and sharing experiences across departments will ensure that they understand this.

That said, I do have one suggestion before allowing everyone to go out and watch / listen to customers. It is to ensure that they get a detailed brief of the do’s and don’ts of customer interaction. Read more about these in our top rated article “The 5 Essential Rules of Customer Observation for Greater Business Success.”

Before allowing employees to watch / listen to customers, ensure they get a detailed briefing of the do's and don'ts of customer interaction. #CEX #CRM Click To Tweet

 

 

#5 Plan for the unthinkable

We have all had a lot of new experiences in the past few years: the covid pandemic, the war in Europe, dramatic climate changes to name just a few. So how has your business coped? Many companies have gone out of business because they never prepared for such events.

Now while many of recent events were unthinkable, and accepting that it’s impossible to prepare for any and every situation, thinking about the impossible can make your business more resilient.

So how have you prepared your business and protected its planned expansion? Do you know how future events may impact it and what you would do in each situation? How would you react to new laws, new customer demands, or their new sensitivities such as ecology, sourcing of ingredients?

It is obviously far better to plan for such events before they happen, so that you can quickly react to challenges as well as opportunities. That’s why I am such a big fan of plausible future scenario planning. By thinking the unthinkable, even if they never happen, you will have thought through your responses and actions which will certainly be useful to cope with future events that do occur.

 

#6 Review how customer centric your plans are

Are your customers clearly identified and described in your plans, as well as the customers of your major competitors? Do people know who they are targeting with each brand product and service offer? Obviously developing a persona is the most valuable first step, but there is more you can do.

Review your plans and consider how your customers will react to each of your planned actions; not just the outcomes you are hoping for, but a true detailed analysis based upon your understanding of them and their desires.

Have you planned any actions to surprise and delight them? Or are you relying on the “same old” activities, copy / pasted from last year? You’d be amazed how many marketing plans remain practically the same for years and years, with no thought given to improving them! Your customers are changing so your plans need to reflect this.

You see, people today get bored very quickly and expect better than they were previously offered in most things – communications, promotions, products and services.

Also, if you’re not careful you can actually “train” your customers to anticipate your actions. This results in a declining interest in what you are offering and even a change in habits when yours become too predictable. Many categories have witnessed customers planning to only purchase brands when they are on promotion, as a result of too frequent and regular or seasonal discounts their customers have come to expect.

That’s why you must plan at least one unexpected WOW action each year, so your customers remain surprised and delighted.

Plan at least one unexpected WOW action each year for your brand, so your customers remain surprised and delighted. #BrandBuilding #BrandPromotions #Brand Communications Click To Tweet

 

#7 Expand your thinking about innovation

Just as I encourage you to rethink your tactics and actions, I also want you to rethink how you innovate.

Are you blocked in an innovation box, relying on your internal technical expertise and skills? If you understand your customers well, you can offer them new products and services that will be more successful, because you know what will surprise and delight them, what their needs and desires really are.

For example why not innovate by adding sensorial experiences to the brands you already offer? This will distinguish them from the competition and give an additional reason for your customers to buy. Consider adding sound to taste, colour to services, touch to packaging, aromas to retail displays.

With the decline in differentiation today, give your customers more reasons to stay with you and they will become loyal advocates.

To find more ideas about improving your innovation read “The Best Ways To Improve Innovation With Better Ideation & Insights.”

With the decline in differentiation today, give your customers more reasons to stay with you and they will become loyal advocates. #Polysensoriality #Innovation #BrandAppeal Click To Tweet

 

#8 Stop testing your communications to death

Customer centricity means observing your customersIf you regularly run copy-testing and communications analyses, I can feel your shock as you read this suggestion! But why not review the process you use to develop your advertising? I bet you are running on habit rather than thoughtful advertising development. Am I right?

If you spent more time and resources reviewing how to connect with your customers, and then tested early stage work up-stream with them, you would be more likely to develop winners.

This process would also reduce or totally replace your usual last-minute tests just before airing them, when in most cases it is already too late to change anything. You are then forced to launch what you know to be inferior communications and relaunch the improved version at a later date. I am sure you have noticed this from other brands, no? Customers notice this too.

 

#9 Define your image

Your brand has an image but it might not be what you think it is!

Make sure you are measuring each of your brand’s images at least annually and not only on the attributes that you want to perform well on.

Review and update the attributes you use to measure the perceptions of your category and ensure you rate what is (also) important to your customers, not just to you.

Attributes that cover both your competitors’ strengths and the total category will provide a much more thorough understanding of your own image, its strengths and opportunities for improvement. You might even find a new or adapted positioning that no-one else is currently occupying!

 

#10 Update your KPI’s

You know that well-used phrase “what gets measured gets managed” Well, are you measuring what needs managing or only the metrics that you can easily gather?

If you know your customers well, who they are, what they do, what they think of you and your competitors, and then compare this data to where you want to take your brand, the metrics you need to be measuring become evident.

Far too many organisations run their business using financial and sales-based metrics, which gives an incomplete view of the company. Add customer metrics too, such as communications, engagement, product ratings, and you will get a near 360 degree view of where you are today. Then you’ll be ready to take actions that will have the most impact.

 

 

I hope this list has helped you to define a few areas that need revision in your organisation. Even actioning just one of them will improve your customer centricity. Of course completing them all will ensure that your customer is really at the heart of your business, as well as in the hearts of all your employees.

If you would like to know just how customer centric you are today, why not complete the C3C Evaluator™ assessment tool? It will help you to identify where you are today, as well as how to prioritise any needed changes in your organisation, to get you to where you want to be. 

If you’d like some help or further ideas about making your organisation more customer centric, please contact us here:

https://www.c3centricity.com/contact

Why Your Company Needs to Adopt a Customer First Strategy

Listen on Apple Podcasts“Never miss an episode. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts to get new episodes as they become available.”

Every few days there seems to be yet another customer service disaster that fills the newspapers and swamps our online social media feeds. The mistakes companies are making in serving their customers are becoming ever more frequent, at least it appears that way to me. You too?

I find this strange, since almost every organisation, big or small, recognises the importance of satisfying their customers. They all talk about customer centricity but very few actually go beyond voicing their opinions. Why do you think that so many organisations continue to struggle?

After all, a customer first strategy is not that difficult, at least in theory. Just think customer first in everything you do. So how come most businesses get it spectacularly wrong? I think the reason is because they don’t see the immediate return and it costs – a lot of – money to implement.

A customer first strategy is not that difficult, at least in theory. Just think customer first in everything you do. So how come most businesses get it spectacularly wrong? Click To Tweet

 

Reasons for adopting a customer-first strategy

There has been enough research done to prove that the return on a customer first strategy is significant. Here are just a few of the numbers I found.

  • 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience. But only 1% of customers feel that vendors consistently meet their expectations. CEI Survey
  • The price premium for great customer experience is real—and it’s big, up to 16% PWC
  • 89% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company after experiencing poor customer service. RightNow Customer Experience Impact Report
  • By 2020, customer experience was expected to overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. I haven’t heard if it did! Customers 2020 Report
  • A 10% increase in customer retention levels results in a 30% increase in the value of the company. Bain & Co
A 10% increase in customer retention levels results in a 30% increase in the value of the company. (Bain & Co) What' stopping you? Click To Tweet

Those numbers would make any CEO sit up and take notice! But will it make them act? What’s holding them back from investing in their customers rather than (just) in the products and services they offer?

I believe that those numbers can no longer be ignored. It’s time every CEO started initiating a move to a more customer centric organisation. NO more excuses; this has to be (OK, one of) your top priorities!


If you’re ready to put your customers first, then why not sign up for the C3Centricity Academy and follow the course on the topic?  FIND OUT MORE.


 

Marketers are too busy building brands

With so much information available today, marketing is being challenged to demonstrate its ROI. This might explain why they are still putting their efforts into brand building, sometimes to the detriment of their customers, consumers and clients.

However, an analysis run by IBM on research carried out in the UK last year by the Callcredit Information Group gives a different reason. They found that the majority of marketers is feeling overwhelmed by all the data that is available to them these days. Their explanation for this is that:

“Only 29% of marketers believe they have the necessary skills to analyse data, with 44% planning on investing in further training over the next two years to boost confidence within their organisations around the handling of information.” 

 

Only 29% of marketers believe they have the necessary skills to analyse data, with 44% planning on investing in further training over the next two years. (IBM/CIG) Click To Tweet

According to a Forrester report, 44% of B2C marketers are using big data and analytics to improve responsiveness to customer interactions. But of equal importance in terms of top two mentions, is the desire to generate insights. ( Source)

Top 3 critical factors to marketing program success

According to Forrester, 44% of B2C marketers are using big data and analytics to improve responsiveness to customer interactions. But of equal importance, is the desire to generate insights. Click To Tweet

It disappoints me that despite the constant flow of data into companies most companies still lack insights into their customers. As I’m often quoted as saying:

“We’re drowning in data but thirsting for insights.”

Marketing is clearly so busy using data to manage pricing, distribution and communication channels, that they are not using the information to also get to know their customers better.

This conclusion is confirmed by a Forbes article which mentions that marketing is using big data to provide answers to

“which content is the most effective, how to increase conversion rates and customer lifetime value.”

It would be good if they used it to increase satisfaction and loyalty too, no?

Big data has actually done customer understanding a disfavour since organisations are hardly increasing their spend on market research according to ESOMAR’s latest industry figures. The industry grew 6% in 2021 and is expected to grow around 8% this year. As the graph below shows, these are the first increases after several years of stagnation.

 

 

Global Market Research Revenue Growth
Source: Statista

 

Now compare this to the more than 22% increase recorded for ad spend in 2021!

Global ad industry trends

 

But there is some hope. A recent report on the KPIs used by marketing showed that Marketers are using a variety of metrics to measure the impact of their brand marketing activities. In surveying more than 560 global brand managers and CMOs, the analysis concludes that new customer acquisition (75%) and social media engagement (72%) are the two primary ways they use to determine the success of their brand marketing efforts.

New customer acquisition (75%) and social media engagement (72%) are the two primary ways CMOs use to determine the success of their brand marketing efforts. Click To Tweet

However, there is still a lot of room for improvement. A 2016 Spencer Stuart survey shows data analysis and insights are one of the three main areas where CMOs need the most development as a leader. Unfortunately, they are also the skills which more than a half of them say are most difficult to find when building a team!

 

Marketing's greatest strengths

Important marketing team skills

So if CMOs can’t develop insight about their customers, shouldn’t market research be more not less important to them? After all, it’s the one profession which spends its whole time trying to understand the market and its customers. So what’s going wrong?

 

Market research is seen as a cost, not an investment

Companies still need market research to understand their customers. Yes, there is a wealth of information flooding into organisations with the IoT, but those numbers don’t tell you their “why.” That’s where market research comes into its own. It needs to provide more answers and not just the mere statistics researchers seem comfortable dropping on the laps of executives and marketers alike.

I believe that (a large?) part of the issue is also the researchers themselves. They’re often not very sociable, speak a language others don’t always understand and yet they also seem afraid to voice their own opinion let alone make recommendations.

I believe the issue of lack of recognition is due to researchers themselves, who are afraid to voice their own opinions let alone make recommendations. #MRX Click To Tweet

This was confirmed in The Vermeer Millward Brown Insights 2020 research. It clearly showed the advantages of a senior market research position at board level. But to get there, most researchers need new skills. The critical capabilities which were said to highlight the biggest differences between leaders and laggards were in business acumen, creative solution thinking, storytelling and direction setting.

It seems a real pity to me that the very people who should benefit from the explosion in data availability are not profiting from it. As if their needed skills are not enough, there is also a real opportunity for them to lead the customer first strategy in many organisations.

Customer services are seen as complaint handlers

When I was first hired to head up the global consumer excellence division for Nestle, I found a group of siloed departments which rarely shared information. Even worse, the customer care centre was seen as mere complaint handlers. Their image was of a group of women who spent their days on the telephone talking to other women!

I don’t think Nestle are the only ones who had this image at that time, now more than a decade ago. Have things changed since? Not much in my opinion. I still find similar perceptions in many organisations today, which thankfully become my clients through a desire to make those much needed improvements.

You only have to look at companies which excel at customer care to realise the business benefits of putting the customer first, Amazon, Southwest, Zappos to name but a few. And recent Temkins research concluded that SaaS companies can expect to double their revenue within 36 months of adopting a CEX strategy.

An excellent article by Shep Hyken called “Ten Customer Service Tips for Customer Loyalty Month” details the essentials of a forward-thinking customer-first strategy and what it means today. In it, he mentions that

“According to Forrester, 72% of businesses say that improving the customer experience is their top priority. A study from NewVoiceMedia indicates that companies lose more than $62 billion due to poor customer service. No company can afford to be a customer service laggard.”

The Forrester report from which Shep quotes was from an ongoing analysis that has been run each year since 2010. The key findings from the 2016 report showed:

  • In all five sectors they covered, companies with higher customer experience (CX) scores outperformed their rivals in revenue growth
  • CX leaders showed an annual growth rate of 17% compared to just 3% for the others.
  • The cable and retail industries beat the field in CX by 24% and 26%, which is a huge boost to the bottom line.
  • Even in the sector with the smallest range (airlines), there was a 5% difference between companies.
  • This also translated into subscriber growth – in the cable industry leaders grew internet subscribers by 23.9% more than others and video subscribers by 13.9%

Along with the previously mentioned statistics, I can see no reason for a company not to invest in a customer-first strategy. If you can think of any yourself, then I’d love to hear them in the comments below.

In Conclusion

A customer-first strategy needs an organisation to recenter itself behind this company-wide objective. It can make a real difference in terms of both sales and profits to those who follow this direction. But it is essential to have executive support and true commitment from every employee to think customer first.
This will take skill upgrades for both marketing and market research departments to translate the data and information gathered into actionable insights.
And it will mean every employee having the chance to regularly get up close and personal with customers. This is the only way for them to understand the role that they play in satisfying and delighting them. After all, that’s what we all want, whether we are buyer or seller isn’t it?

Are you ready to adopt a customer-first strategy? If so, then check out the C3Centricity website for your first steps. Also, why not answer our free mini C3C Evaluator tool (https://www.c3centricity.com) and see just how good your customer-first strategy really is? It’s always better to know from where you’re starting and what changes to prioritise in order to have the most and fastest impact!

How to Easily Use Customer Co-creation for Profitable Growth

One of my clients, who is following the 50 weekly actions for customer centric excellence as described in my book Winning Customer Centricity, recently asked me for some ideas on how to better manage their customer co-creation.

Working more closely with customers is the best way to understand, satisfy and delight them. So I am impressed that they are taking customer co-creation even further than they are doing today. In fact, I realised that this is an area that many of you may be interested in learning more about, so I decided to share what I told them. But first …

 

What is Customer Co-creation?

The term co-creation has been around for decades. However, it is only in the last ten years or so that we are seeing a growth in co-creation in so many different areas of marketing.

According to Wikipedia co-creation is

“A management initiative, or form of economic strategy, that brings different parties together (for instance, a company and a group of customers), in order to jointly produce a mutually valued outcome.”

Personalised M&Ms from customer co-creation
Source: M&Ms

Individualisation, which offers higher-priced items with a customer perceived higher-value, has also been popular for years. It allows customers to design their own unique products to show off their personality. For instance, customers can personalise their M&M chocolates and design their own Nike running shoes.

But these are not strictly co-creation, since they are designed by only one person for use by just one person. Co-creation is rather about designing an offer by many, for the purchase and enjoyment of many. 

Customer co-creation is designed by many, for the many. #Customer #CustomerCo-creation #Marketing #BrandBuilding #Branding #Co-creation #Innovation Click To Tweet

After the success of such personalised offers, organisations understood that there is immense value in getting input from customers. Many now include them not only in product enhancements, but also in developing their advertising, promotions and even in first-stage innovation.

The practice has been further intensified by the internet, which has enabled companies to reach out to customers across the globe, virtually for free. Social media, in particular, is a great source of customer understanding, as well as for highlighting issues with current offers. This is why co-creation should include social media in some form, as I’ll share further on.

 

Who to work with?

Winning Customer Centricity - The BookAs I mention in my book, not all business managers feel comfortable exposing their new ideas and concepts to their customers. If this is the case in your own organisation, then you are left with the only option of interviewing employees. This isn’t such a bad thing; after all, they too are customers, but you need to keep in mind their biasses. They probably know more about the brand than the average customer does and they are also likely to be more positive towards it. However, their passion for the company and its brands is a valuable asset not to be neglected.

If your management allows you to work with customers, then you will want them to be vetted for different things by the recruitment agency.

By the way, I highly recommend using a recruitment agency to find you the customers who would be most appropriate for the task planned. They already have an extensive panel of people who can be segmented so you get the right people. And by right people I mean those who have the necessary skills and creativity, as well as knowledge and experience with the category under review.

Running customer co-creation exercises means getting the right people involved, those who have the necessary skills and creativity, as well as knowledge and experience with your category. #Brand #Co-Creation Click To Tweet

Here are the customer selection criteria I suggest using to reduce the risk of information leaks to the competition:  

  • They shouldn’t work for one of your competitors; nor should their close friends and family members.
  • They shouldn’t work for advertising, media, PR or market research agencies, which could tip off your competitors.
  • They should be creative and curious, but not be one of the infamous “1%ers” (the ultra-creatives) that were popular when co-creation was first used.
  • They should be articulate and be able to describe their thoughts, ideas and problems succinctly.
  • They should be well-informed and knowledgeable, even opinionated if you want to introduce some heated discussions into the event.
  • Depending upon the task you want to share with them, they should be category and / or brand users – or not.

Some suppliers may propose psychographic analysis to hone their selection process. However, this is not essential if you obey the above rules and clearly identify the type of person with whom you would like to work.

Social media again provides a great way to identify and recruit those who are both knowledgeable and passionate about the category. Another source of customers, is from co-creating platforms that copy successful job sites, such as UpWork and Amazon’s Mechanical Turk.

 

Should you compensate customers?

Most co-creation programs compensate customers, for their time and even their ideas on occasions. I have found that customers are usually so happy to share their thoughts and be heard, that they don’t expect compensation other than the opportunity itself.

I have often received requests from participants at the end of a project, asking to continue in a panel or online group, because they enjoyed it so much. Customers love to talk to companies about their products and services, so why not make it possible for them to do so in a safe and private environment?

Compensation is therefore not mandatory, but adding prizes and a competitive element to the discussion can encourage a greater level of participation. I give some examples of brands that have done this further on.

Compensation for customer co-creation involvement is not mandatory, but adding prizes and a competitive element to the discussion can encourage a greater level of participation. #Co-creation #BrandBuilding #Marketing #Brand Click To Tweet

 

When to involve customers?

There are many reasons why you might want to get input from your customers beyond the more common anonymous market research. Here are some of the most often used occasions when you might want to include your customers:

  • choosing their favourite names, flavours or perfumes for a product
  • getting reactions to your marketing plans
  • sharing experiences and problems encountered with your category
  • reviewing product and communications’ concepts
  • watching pre-air advertising and choosing the ending, slogans or other details
  • asking for ideas on how to improve a product or service
  • running a competition to solve an issue the company would like to address
  • voting for their favourite new product or service idea
  • creating new flavour and aroma mixes from original ingredients
  • brainstorming with R&D on new product ideas
  • sharing opinions on promotional concepts or competitions.

In addition to the above, you should ensure that each department in your organisation is informed, if not actually involved, in choosing the topics to investigate, as well as the criteria of selection of customers for your co-creation projects.

Customer co-creation can be used to help a business make decisions, support innovation and refine advertising campaigns and promotions. #Brand #Marketing #Co-creation #BrandBuilding Click To Tweet

 

Examples of co-creation

In Winning Customer Centricity, I mention a few companies who successfully use co-creation, such as Nespresso’s “Le Club” and P&G’s “Connect+Develop”. Since I wrote the book, co-creation has become much more widespread and there are many more great examples. Here are just a few to inspire you to invite your own customers to join your initiatives:

  1. Heineken: Their crowdsourcing platform, called Heineken Ideas Brewery, launched in 2012, asks the public for suggestions, since they believe that innovative ideas can come from everywhere. The first challenge they set was for sustainable packaging and the best idea, the Heineken-o-Mat, was rewarded with a $10,000 prize.

Lego ideas customer co-creation example
Source: Lego

2. Lego launched Lego Ideas in 2008 as a platform where their customers share their suggestions for new sets. Other users then vote and comment on these submitted ideas.

The highest-rated ones are often developed and launched by the Lego Group. The original creator of the idea is compensated with 1% of royalties.

 

3.  British Airways: Airlines make a lot of use of customer panels; after all they know all their passengers’ details, so recruitment is relatively easy. BA uses their FutureLab to elicit comments and reactions to their questions and concepts. 

Their panel is made up of a global community who discuss everything from prices, to seating, and from competitions to services. BA shares their plans and ideas and gets immediate feedback on what their passengers believe might work and what won’t. And all this within a few hours and mostly for free, apart from a few small monetary prizes for the most active or creative participants each month.

 

Coca-cola freestyle maching customer co-creation example
Source: Coca-Cola

4.  Coca-Cola is one example of a company that is using co-creation for input into their innovation process. Their Freestyle machine is a fountain dispenser which offers over a hundred different products, giving the customer the opportunity to mix their own flavour combination.

An additional mobile app allows them to then save it so that they can get the same mix at any other Freestyle machine.

Coca-Cola saves all the mixes in their consumer database, which can then be used to learn more about new flavour ideas and consumer preferences.

5. The final example comes from social media, where co-creation of content has become the norm. There are literally thousands of companies using their customers and fans to share their thoughts, ideas, photos and videos on their websites.

Amongst the best is Nestle Purina which started by allowing pet owners to publish pictures of their animals. This then was followed and enhanced by Purina developing and sharing fun videos including Dear Kitten for their Friskies brand and Puppyhoodfor Puppy Chow. We all know how popular pet videos are on the web, so it is not surprising that many of their own videos went viral.

There are many more examples of customer co-creation that you can find online, including Unilever, one of the first to use customer co-creation more than a decade ago, DeWalt, BMW, General Mills, DHL, Accor and Ikea. As you can see, co-creation can be used by companies large and small, as well as in most if not all industries.

 

Making Use of Customer Co-created Content

Speaking of “virality“, there are other examples of brands that invite customer input, combined with a marketing promotion or a specific hashtag campaign. These are important for virality on such platforms as Youtube and Instagram which are primary sources for fashion and beauty brands, because of the importance of image.

One brand that was an early adopter of this and successfully used customer generated content to both improve its image and increase sales is the Greek yoghurt company Chobani.

Chobani customer co-creation example
Source: Chobani

It invited its loyal customers to submit photos and videos praising their yoghurt, which were then used on their website as well as in advertising. These generated a lot of excitement especially from the billboards in particular, as people love to see themselves in print. 

 

 

I hope you enjoyed this sample of some of the best uses of customer co-creation that I remember. I know there must be many more. If you have a favourite example, why not share it in the comments below so everyone can enjoy it?

 

In Conclusion

As you can see, there are many ways to involve your customers in your business. Some companies ask them a simple question, others ask for ideas, and a few even request help with internal technical issues.  What is clear after almost two decades of involving the customer in co-creation, is that posing specific challenges to targeted customers works best.

Organisations wanting to incorporate more co-creation into their business should have a clear idea of what they want to ask and to whom. They must also be ready to be open and transparent with the customers so that the rules and rewards of the exercise are clear for all.

Organisations wanting to incorporate more co-creation into their business should have a clear idea of what they want to ask and to whom. #Brand #BrandBuilding #Marketing #Co-creation Click To Tweet

The other imperative is building the co-creation community on a digital platform so that participants can add their ideas whenever they come and wherever they may be. This is one of the biggest advantages over market research and group discussions, which can still be included for additional benefits to the exercise.

I hope I have inspired you to try customer co-creation for yourself, and to include your customers in more of your internal plans and processes. It is not only fun, but it also provides you with fresh thinking  and a deeper understanding of how your customers’ needs and desires are changing. It makes you wonder why you haven’t done it before, no?

If you need help in setting up your first customer co-creation project, then I can help; contact me here: https://c3centricity.com/contact

The 6 Best Ways to Show you Respect Customers

I was recently asked to speak about how to build relationships with clients, in this case for a realtor association. In preparing for the interview, I got to thinking about customer privacy and how important it is to build a mutually beneficial relationship to respect customers.

Customers don’t want to be automatically segmented and followed as they go about the web, viewing different sites. An article on Business2Community by Owen Ray says that

The tracking cookie is crumbling. Smart cookie-blocking technology led by Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) and Firefox’s Enhanced Tracking Protection (ETP) now block third-party cookies by default, and even Google’s Chrome will soon get controls that let consumers block cookies.”

If you want to understand more on the topic of cookies I highly recommend this two-part article.

Companies that are truly customer centric know that it is important to build a mutually beneficial relationship where there is something for both parties in exchanging information and services. Many businesses ask far too much of their customers, with little if anything in return. I believe this is one of the major reasons that customers today are becoming sensitive to what and to whom they give any information about their interests, habits, needs and wishes. And why cookies are rapidly becoming a thing of the past.

I, therefore, thought it was useful to review the major points to keep in mind, when a business wants to collect information about its customers in order to offer products and services that better meet their wants and desires.

 

1. Ask Permission to Gather Information

This should be a no-brainer and yet I still find myself on lists to which I didn’t intentionally, if at all, subscribe! You too?

Whether you are connecting with your customers by mail, phone, email or the web, you need to first request permission to ask any questions and to gather the information you are looking for.

Not only should you ask for their consent if you are not in direct personal contact, but when connecting via email or the web, you should also double-check that permission. You have to ensure that the agreement has been given by your customer and that they are still ready to provide the information.

Being attentive to privacy when starting to build a relationship is vital and shows you respect your customers.

This also means asking them to confirm their consent not once, but twice. Double opt-in as it is known, ensures that your customer is correctly identified and that they have indeed themselves agreed to provide or receive information, or to be put on your mailing list.

Far too often I see requests where the permission is encouraged by using colourful buttons to click, or an implied criticism if you don’t, with phrases such as  “No, I have enough sales” or “No, I don’t want to save money”.

 

2. There Must be Mutual Benefit

When your customer has agreed to provide information you need to thank them immediately. This can be as simple as offering coupons for your products, some valuable information not easily available elsewhere, a free guide or e-book on a relevant topic, or special privileges such as club membership or express shipping. Something that shows them that they were right to agree and that you value their information.

Another thing to keep in mind is not to overwhelm them by asking too many questions in one go. Since your objective is to build a long-term relationship with them, keep it simple to start with.

You can complete the information you require through several contacts over time, with the same customer. This also has the added advantage of keeping the conversation more frequent than it might otherwise have been. Ask just enough to be able to identify your priority metrics and then refine your understanding of them as you gather more information.

Your objective should be to build a long-term relationship with your customers, so don't gather more information than you can immediately use. #CEX #CRM #CustomerService #CustomerSatisfaction Click To Tweet

With so much choice available to customers today, it is our responsibility to build an engaging and respectful relationship with them. If there is no trust, there may soon be no sales!

What other ways do you show respect for your customers? Please share your best examples below. Of course, if you have come across a bad example that frustrated that, then please share it too. Let’s name and shame!

Got Data? It’s Never Big Enough For Business’s New Demands

Did the title that you’ve got data make you curious? Great! 

Of course, in today’s data-rich environment I’m not really suggesting that you ignore it, rather the opposite! But in working with clients around the world and in numerous industries, I’ve found that many are lost by all the information that is available to them.

In fact it seems to drown out their reasoning of what to do and they remain frozen in indecision. Is this your case? If so, then just follow the steps I detail below and you will soon be doubling, quadrupling, if not 10x the ROI of your data!

 

The Current Situation with Data

Data is everywhere and most organisations are drowning in it! Technology is at the heart of this data explosion and is being blamed for disrupting businesses, but most have simply not adapted to this new information-rich world.

Technology is at the heart of the data explosion and is being blamed for disrupting businesses, but most have simply not adapted to this new information-rich world. #BigData #DataAnalysis #Information Click To Tweet

I admit, a lot has changed in recent years. Consumers are learning how to adapt their behaviours and now trade their personal information for extra benefits. In response companies are changing their business models as their value shifts from products to services, or in some cases, to the sale of the information they gather.

Some organisations are reinventing themselves to take advantage of these changes. Others are ignoring them – at their peril, since they risk becoming the next Kodak, Borders or Blockbusters. If you’re interested in reading more about the US Retail Apocalypse and the 23 big retailers closing stores then I highly recommend this post on Fox Business.

So what should you do, whether you are in manufacturing or retail? Well, I believe that you should start by renovating your business model to take advantage of the countless new opportunities that the wealth of data offers you. And in my opinion, you had better do it sooner rather than later, because your competition almost certainly will!

 

The Opportunity

Yes you have data and information, but if you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that it’s not enough. You have to turn these into knowledge and understanding, and then into actionable insights. And this can only be done by asking the right questions of your data and information.

If you are struggling to take needed action despite a wealth of information, then this is certainly where you should start making changes – fast!

A 2015 Capgemini and EMC study called “Big & Fast Data: The rise of Insight-Driven Business” showed that:

  • 56% of the 1,000 senior decision makers surveyed claim that their investment in big data over the next three years will exceed past investment in information management.
  • 65% admit they risk becoming irrelevant and uncompetitive if they do not leverage data. This is especially true given that non-traditional providers, like startups thriving on big data processing, are moving into their industries.
  • Although companies realise they desperately need to dig into data analytics to maintain their business position, 45% surveyed think their current internal IT development cycles are not sufficient for new analytics and don’t fulfil their business requirements.
  • Making matters worse, over half (52%) of those surveyed see the speed of their organisation’s insight generation from data analytics as constrained by its existing IT infrastructure.

So what has happened in the past couple of years? Not a lot in terms of usage, but a lot in terms of data gathering. Just check out the graph below which shows the volume of data/information created, captured, copied, and consumed worldwide from 2010 to 2025

Data growth in zetabytes
Source: Statista 2022

Of course big data has been big news for years, thanks to its 5Vs (volume, velocity, variety, variability, value). These were the driving forces behind the need and finally the computing upgrades which made new ways of analysing it all even possible.

This article by Olivia Ryan sums up the “6 ways big data expansion can significantly damage our privacy.” These are the major points which the GDPR is hoping to address, and about time too in my opinion.

Today it’s the EU’s GDPR or General Data Protection Regulation, with its stricter rules, as well as the removal of third-party cookies, which has everyone concerned. It is definitely worth checking out the details here if you are not sure what you need to change by when. And if Google’s changing plans about cookies are of interest, then I suggest you refer to this article. 

Interestingly, there is no equivalent federal law in the US (for now), but that doesn’t mean you can ignore it if your business is based there. Find out more in this excellent article on Forbes.

It’s true that companies do recognise all the threats detailed in the earlier mentioned study, and while startups flourish in every industry, the mastodons of commerce are slow to change, hence the need for GDPR. (see below for an alternative approach to individualised data utilisation)

 

An Alternative Approach

Data comes into its own when used for personalised engagements. However, there is an alternative or complementary approach that some organisations are now using. This is to address global issues such as resource management, water usage or pollution, which certain customers feel passionately about.

 

 

In Conclusion

Coming back to the title of this post, as you can see there is a lot to do before analysing all the data you have. And probably it’s a lot more than you even know about at present, at least from my experience!

You can’t go wrong if you start with the customer and identify what you need to know and understand in order to go beyond their expectations.

You can't go wrong if you start with the customer & identify what you need to know & understand. #CEX #CRM #Customer Click To Tweet

Make a list of all the things you want to know and then see if you have the information to answer them. In many cases you do, it just hasn’t been analysed in a way that makes the solution obvious. That’s when you should review and eventually update your platform and systems.

Doing this any earlier will be like buying a fancy new hammer to crack a nut! What you need to understand is the best way to crack the nut; often times the hammer is fine for cracking if you use it correctly.

 

If you’re drowning in data and thirsting for insights, then we should talk. Contact me here: https://c3centricity.com/contact

and I’ll give you some ideas on how to crack your own nut!

The Exciting Future of Brand Building comes from Customer Centricity

Marketing is an old profession. It’s been around for hundreds of years in one form or another. But with the advent of digital in the early 80’s, companies began taking a serious look at their marketing strategies.

Many organisations realised that it was time for a major overhaul of their primarily outbound strategies. Consumers no longer appreciated being interrupted in their daily lives, if they ever did! Marketing had to find ways to stimulate more inbound engagements, but how?

However, after trying multiple inbound marketing strategies, they find that they are still irritating their customers with spammy emails, intrusive pop-ups and over-complicated cookies, that gather far more information than most organisations will ever need or use. At least those will soon be a thing of the past!

Despite these changes, CMOs remain one of the leading c-suite members who struggle to keep their jobs for more than four or five years. The reasons are many, but the post “Head of Marketing, How Can You Keep Your Job When Most CMOs Are Losing Theirs?” explains what you can do to ensure that you leave your position when you want to and not on your CEO’s terms.

Brand Building

Many large CPG companies, such as P&G, Coca-Cola and Nestle, have changed the name of their Marketing departments in the past twenty years, to Brand Building. They hoped that it would revive sales and give new vitality to their communications to better engage their customers in the new social world. But most failed miserably, because they remained very much in a state of business as usual. They continued with the same processes and mind-sets. And with few exceptions, they prioritised thoughts about themselves and their brands, and rarely took their customers’ perspective.

A more recent change is bringing more marketing tasks in-house, as P&G has done. Read more here. While this certainly saves a considerable part of their budget, the biggest advantage from my perspective, is that these companies automatically learn more about their customers’ behaviour. When you are planning communication campaigns and deciding on ad spend, you need to understand where your customers are and when they are most open to receiving your messages. That for me is far more valuable than any savings on agency costs. What do you think?

Even without making such a drastic move, many other consumer goods companies have realised that to satisfy the consumer they had to do things differently. They were the ones that moved to customer centricity. Or to be exact they started on their journey towards putting the customer at the heart of their businesses. Customer centricity is not a destination, because consumers are constantly changing and their satisfaction never lasts for long. It is a journey where you are accompanying your customers with the aim to satisfy and delight them, however they change.

Customer centricity is not a destination, because consumers are constantly changing and their satisfaction never lasts for long. It is a journey with the aim to satisfy and delight. #CEX #CRM #CustomerCentricity Click To Tweet

One of the issues that has been created by marketing is that I believe we have taught our customers far too well! They understand a lot more about “marketing” than they used to. They understand that companies have marketing plans, all too often repeated with few changes from one year to the next. As a result they have regular promotions, so our customers understand this and just wait for the next price offs before buying, whenever they can.

Our customers also realise that advertising highlights changes that in reality don’t exist between brands other than in terms of image. In today’s world, products and services have become more and more similar from one company to another. Their format, colour or perfume may differ, but there are strong similarities in their performance and benefits.

That’s why consumers now often have a portfolio of brands from which they choose in many categories. They are far less likely to be loyal to only one brand than they used to be. Just take a look at these statistics from the US.

 

Consumers changing behaviour

What this research also highlights is a change in shopping behaviour, far more complex than just moving purchases online. Customers are open to changing and have become far more comfortable with adapting to new ideas.

They now expect constant innovation which becomes difficult to satisfy, since they quickly adjust to the once novel idea and start searching for the next big improvement. According to Accenture’s “ Customer 2020: Are You Future-Ready or Reliving the Past?” almost a half of consumers believe that they are more likely to switch brands today compared to just ten years ago!

These are your seven starter tasks for moving from marketing and brand building, to a more customer centric approach to customer satisfaction and delight. Every single one of them has your customer at the heart of them. Are they any others that you’d like to add? I know you can come up with many more ideas than I can on my own, so please share them below in the comments and let your knowledge shine!

If you’d like more suggestions about moving to a new-age, customer-first marketing approach, please check out my book “Winning Customer Centricity“. You’ll see it’s like no other business book you have ever seen! Then you will understand why numerous major CPG / FMCG companies follow its roadmap annually. It’s fun, inspiring and a useful way to track your customer centric journey. 

And as I said earlier, if you’re interested in up-skilling your team, then we can provide fun course on many areas of customer centricity, both online and offline. Download our training brochure now and contact us so we can discuss your precise needs. All our trainings are personalised to meet your specific requirements; no off-the-shelf trainings are ever given.

You’re Not Competing In The Category You Think You Are! (The 5 Steps to Category Identification)

If you’re a regular reader here – and if not, then please sign up below so you don’t miss future posts – you’ll know my 7-step CatSight™ Process for Insight Development.

The first step of the process is to identify the category in which you are competing. If you don’t know the process, that may surprise you, but you’d be amazed just how many brands are not in the category they think they are. When was the last time you checked?

Just think about the consequences of an incorrect attribution; you would be concentrating on competitors that your customers never compare you with! And you would waste resources defending yourself against the wrong brands. Talk about squandering valuable resources! That’s why I decided to dedicate a whole post to this important topic.

But before I get started, I suggest you first read the post (Customer Centricity is Today’s Business Disruptor, Insights its Foundation) as background information. In it you’ll discover the full description of the seven steps of the CATSIGHT™ process, which I know will also be useful to you. In the article, I summarise the very first step of Insight development, that of category definition, like this:

C = Category

Whenever you want to develop an insight, the first task is to decide on the category you want to study. This may seem obvious to you, but in many cases, it isn’t as clear as you might have thought.

For instance, suppose you are planning on launching a new fruit-flavoured soft drink. You may think that you are competing with other juices or perhaps other soft drinks. But rather than just assuming the category in which you are competing, I highly recommend that you check; you may be very surprised.

Identify the category by zooming in

In working with one client who was in this exact situation, we actually found that their main competitor was an energy drink!

The reason for this was because this category is seen as being for lively, energetic, fun-loving people who need a boost. Whether this comes from the caffeine of an energy drink, or from the added vitamins and minerals of real fruit juices, which was my client’s offer, it didn’t seem to matter.
If we’d only looked at other fruit-flavoured soft drinks, we would have missed a whole – and much larger – segment of potential category consumers. By starting our analysis as wide as possible by looking at all beverages, and then slowly zooming in as we learnt more, we were quickly able to discover this perhaps surprising positioning for the new drink.
This shows the power of taking the consumers’ perspective, especially when segmenting a market. But more about that in a moment. 
The above example is a great start. But so many clients ask me to help them with their own category definitions, that I decided to detail the five most important steps in defining your category, so that you can do it for yourself for each of your brands and products.
Never underestimate the power of taking the consumers’ perspective, especially when segmenting a market. #Brand #Segment #Marketing #Segmentation Click To Tweet

 

Step 1. What is the category definition you are currently using? 

In any process, we should always start by identifying where we are today. In the case of your category definition, it should be the one you think you are competing in at the moment. Depending upon whether you are offering a product or service, you might define it as:

All hot beverage consumers …….. or …….. users of a particular insurance service.

All consumers of coffee …….. or …….. people who have bought insurance for natural disasters.

All consumers of instant coffee powder …….. or …….. house owners in Florida who have bought insurance for natural disasters.

All consumers of instant coffee powder costing less than US$ 2.50 per 100 gms …….. or …….. owners of houses valued over US$2 million in Florida who have bought insurance for natural disasters.

As you can see from just these four examples, the bottom definitions are far more focused than the top ones. Hopefully you can appreciate why targeting such precise groups of customers is more likely to meet with greater success, than the wider, less specific groups first mentioned.

In any process, we should always start by identifying where we are today. #Process #Category #Business Click To Tweet

The Zoom tool you decide to use (in or out), will depend upon whether you are looking to grow your brand through your marketing activities or planning to develop a new product or service offer.

I call this zooming in and zooming out of the category. In general, understanding the category by zooming in is best for growth and precise targeting, whereas zooming out provides more opportunities for considering innovative new products and services.

Now take a look at your own current category definition. I bet it’s too broad for successful use isn’t it? This is the mistake that most businesses make, big and small. They want to attract the largest number of consumers or users of a category, but as is often quoted:

“If you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no-one”

The more precise you are in defining the group of customers you are trying to attract, the more focused will be your actions and communications, and the more successful you will be. In addition, the tactics and strategies you use are more likely to resonate with your target audience.

The more precise you are in defining the group of customers you are trying to attract, the more focused your actions and communications will be. #Segment #Category #Marketing #CEX Click To Tweet

Conclusion

Going through these five steps will give you the very best possible understanding of the category in which you are currently competing, as well as of the customers who make up the sub-segment you decide to target.

Have you successfully mastered every suggested step? What have you forgotten?

Is there something I myself have forgotten or that you would add? If so, then please share your ideas in the comments below. Thanks

If you’re still struggling with your own category definition or identifying the very best customers you should be targeting for your brand, then let’s talk. Book a complimentary call with me – I call them Happiness Sessions because that’s how you’ll feel after we talk!

This post is an update of the article that was last published on C3Centricity in 2020.

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