7 Reasons Why Your Customer First Strategy Adoption Will Fail!

Every CEO knows that a stronger customer focus can be the answer to many – dare I say most? – of their business challenges!

So why do so many companies continue to struggle in successfully adopting a customer-first strategy and culture?

Here are the seven main reasons why companies fail to effectively adopt a customer first strategy; which one are you struggling with the most today?

1. The CEO has stated it as a company objective but has not detailed what nor how the organisation will change

While it is essential that a customer-first strategy has a board-level sponsor, it is important that every employee understands their role in making it happen. It should not be treated as just another project for one department to complete, but as a long-term, top 3 company objective.

When this happens, every division is driven to identify how their actions will impact their customers and what part they will play in meeting this important company objective.

This is one area where the CEO can’t set it and forget it. He/she needs to be regularly informed of progress and should ask some “awkward” questions to ensure that everyone is truly embracing the objective. Without this company-wide support, the strategy will never succeed.

The CEO needs to ask the awkward questions that ensure everyone is embracing a customer-first strategy. #CEX #CRM #CustomerFirst #CustomerCentricity #Customer Click To Tweet

A few years ago, the Business Roundtable, which is an association of over 180 CEOs leading US companies, agreed to put people before profits. They specifically said they would be:

  1. Delivering value to our customers.
  2. Investing in our employees.
  3. Dealing fairly and ethically with our suppliers.
  4. Supporting the communities in which we work.

With many organisations now struggling to recover from the impact of covid-19, it is interesting to see whether they have all moved forward on these objectives.

The Business Roundtable updated their results one year later. In the summary you can read HERE they say:

One year later – through a period of unprecedented crises – companies have demonstrated a commitment to the values embedded in the Statement.

 

2. The organisation has not fully embraced the strategy

As mentioned above, everyone has a role to play in satisfying and delighting the customer. It is not the job of marketing, sales or market research alone to understand their needs. It is vital that each employee thinks customer first and ensures that every action and decision they make is customer centric.

One easy way to do this is to ask this question at the end of every meeting:

“what would our customers think of the decision we just made?”

If there is something they wouldn’t like or you know that you yourself wouldn’t approve of, then it needs to be reconsidered.

What would our customers think of the decision we just made? #CEX #CRM #CustomerFirst #CustomerCentricity #Customer Click To Tweet

I would also suggest reading the recent post “7 Ways to Deliver Awesome Customer Service.” It includes seven recommendations so that everyone in an organisation can treat the customer with the respect and great service they deserve.

7. They think it costs too much

While this may be the perception, in reality, it costs a lot more NOT to adopt a customer-first strategy. It makes both business sense AND customer sense.

There has been so much research done on the impact of adopting a customer- first strategy that there is no doubt that it provides a positive ROI (return on investment):

  • Walker found that 86% of buyers would pay more for a better experience.
  • Genesys showed that improving the experience for customers is the key to increasing retention, satisfaction and sales.
  • Deloitte and Touch claim that customer centric companies are 60% more profitable.
  • Bain & Company research shows that increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by between 25% and 95%.

These numbers should be sufficient to convince every CEO that a customer-first strategy is worth investing in. In fact, it is an essential strategy every CEO would be wise to adopt, no matter what industry they are in. So what are you or your CEO waiting for? Did I miss a different problem you are currently facing? What other challenges have you faced or are now facing in adopting a customer-first strategy? Please let me know by adding your comments below.

If you would like to know what support we can provide in helping you to adopt a customer first strategy, check out our website then contact us here:

https://c3centricity.com/contact

 

Win Online: 9 Ways to Make a Great Website that Engages More Successfully

What makes a great website?

What makes a website great for your customers?

What makes a website great for your potential customers?

The answers to these questions will help you to publish a successful website. One that encourages current and potential customers to find, see, like and then engage with your content. All of these are precursors to buying your products and services for many customers! 

I published a post on this topic many years ago, which included the seven elements that must be on your website. It is called “The 7 essentials of Customer Centric Websites.” and it still makes a useful (and short) read.

One of the major changes since then, is that today, with mobile more likely to be the screen of reference, we have gone from a “no scroll” to a “must-scroll” format. Words have given way to more images and now also to videos. We have gone from information to entertainment, from push to pull, and from “ours” to “theirs.”

Many articles about optimising websites talk too much about technology and usually include company rather than customer priorities. But you, fellow customer centricity champions, know that everything should start with the customer! So I’d like to build on my earlier post to lay out what it takes to win online these days.

 

9 Essentials of a Great Website

Checking a website is often the first step a customer makes when they are interested in buying a brand or learning about a manufacturer. Therefore we should ensure that ours responds to their needs, whatever the reason for their visit. I have chosen the nine essential elements of a customer centric website below.

Please let me know what you think, by adding a comment below.

1. It’s for the customer, not (just) you

Although your website is about you and your company and/or brands, it is your customers, both current and potential, that need to like it.

Therefore, start by thinking about for whom you are developing the site and what their desires and needs are. Use our  4W™ template to ensure that you go as deep as possible in your understanding of them. I also suggest you read “12 things you need to know about your target customers for more on what information you need to gather in order to describe them in depth.

Who is your website for? If it's not for your customer it's time to rethink. Click to Tweet

 

2. An intuitive structure

We don’t have time to read, let alone learn how to navigate a website. Customers will leave if they can’t immediately find what they are looking for. This explains why many – dare I say most? – businesses have a 50% plus bounce rate. (See 20+ Average Bounce Rate Benchmarks -2022 update)

It may still be necessary to have a sitemap for those visitors who need help in navigating or are less logical. However, it no longer needs the prominence it once did.

Put it at the bottom of the page in the footer and don’t waste valuable real estate by placing it at the top. If you make it easy for people to find what they are looking for, they will never need to revert to a sitemap, and are even less likely to leave for a competitor’s website.

If you make it easy for people to find what they are looking for on your website, they will never need to revert to a sitemap, and are even less likely to leave for a competitor's website. Click to Tweet

 

3. Customers can contact you however they want

Some websites force the visitors to their website to complete a form if they can’t find the information they were searching for.

My recommendation is to do away with impersonal forms and drop-down menus. They usually force customers to use your classification. And even worse, they sometimes don’t even acknowledge that the request has been received!

Instead, make them feel special, valued and appreciated. Make them feel like you are excitedly waiting to hear from them, and that you want to know what they have to share or ask. Acknowledge the request and give them an idea when they can expect a reply.

Customers want to be treated as individuals, not as just one insignificant member of the masses. How do you treat your customers? As the precious clients they are for your business?

Customers want to be treated as individuals, not as just one insignificant member of the masses. How do you treat your customers? As the precious clients they are for your business? Click to Tweet

 

A second recommendation is to include contact links or your full details. These should appear on the home page, and include telephone numbers, email, postal and street addresses, and social media accounts.

With the global nature of the internet, a customer has the right to know where you are based. And if you don’t tell them, they may imagine the worst!

Your customers have the right to connect as they wish, by whichever media they prefer. Do you give your own customers a choice? Click to Tweet

 

4. Full details of your products, brands and services

Today’s customers demand information. In addition to knowing who and where you are, they also want details about ingredients, sourcing, limitations of usage, distribution and availability.

 

When I wrote the original post on customer centric websites, I mentioned Reckitt Benckiser as a best-in-class example. Today, when I look at the leading CPG / FMCG websites, I find many others that deserve a mention. I, therefore, decided to ask you, the reader, to vote for your favourite customer centric website and why you consider it to be a great example? Please share your ideas below in the comments.

And if your own website doesn’t pass the above nine essentials test, perhaps it’s time to make some changes? We can help with a detailed website audit which will pinpoint how to optimise it for your customers’ experience.

Essentials of a Customer First Strategy Every Industry Needs to Adopt

Every business should strive to improve their customers’ experience with their products and services. Adopting a customer first strategy is therefore often mentioned as a company objective. Unfortunately, it rarely goes beyond the theory in most organisations, so I decided to help out with these six suggestions.

Hospitality is perhaps one of the most visible industries where customer satisfaction, or lack of, is quickly shared with the world.  (Read my last post for more on this)

It is true that without satisfaction, customers will not return to a hotel or restaurant. And they will almost certainly share their (bad) experiences with anyone who will listen – including online!

Hospitality is also one of the industries that receives the most comments online, thanks to TripAdvisor and other booking sites. There is no hiding from their clients!

Now while I empathise, this is not all bad news. Because it means that great service will also be more quickly known about online. Therefore you can make changes and see the results almost immediately, or at least far quicker than in most other businesses.

However, despite this, I believe that the hospitality industry has a lot it can learn from consumer packaged goods (CPG) where improvements take the consumer longer to appreciate. In fact most other industries could benefit from taking a look at some of CPG’s best-in-class processes.

Both the hospitality and CPG industries have their customers at their heart; after all it’s in their name. They are both founded on pleasing and hopefully delighting their clientele in the quality of the products and services they offer.

However, as the world changes, customer demands do too and companies need to stay current if not ahead of these requirements, in order to ensure continued growth.

 

The 6 essentials of a customer first strategy

#1. From ROI / ROR to ROE

There has been a lot of talk recently on moving from a return on investment to a return on relationship metric. While I agree with the importance of relationships, I believe that what we should be talking about is engagement. Be honest, other than the author of the once popular book that started talking about brand love, who wants to have a relationship with a brand?!

Brands that have a high following and loyalty have found a way to consistently engage their fans and keep them coming back. They become involved and interested in the brand, the product, their website, even their communications.

Coca Cola and Red Bull are great examples of this. You should also check out another post entitles Increasing Impact & Engagement through Advertising Testing.”

Brands that have a high following and loyalty have found a way to consistently engage their fans and keep them coming back. #CEX #CRM #Engagement Click To Tweet

 

#2. Building Relationships with Strangers

While the hospitality industry is based on serving and satisfying its guests, in today’s connected world, it also needs to consider people who are currently strangers – but who could potentially become clients.

These might be the friends of current guests, who for example the Rosewood Mayakoba resort in Mexico tries to attract. Let me explain.

 

These are just six of the many ideas I shared during a talk I gave to the faculty of a world- renowned hospitality school. If you are interested in seeing the full talk, I am happy to share it. Just email me with your details and what your biggest business challenge is currently in adopting a customer first strategy.

Are you struggling to improve your own customer centricity? Whatever people-facing industry you are in, we would welcome the chance to catalyse your growth. Check out our website for more information about our services and training programs, then contact us here.

The New Qualities for Customer Service Excellence

The covid pandemic clearly highlighted those companies that truly care about their customers and which provide customer service excellence.

If a company claims to be customer centric then it is essential that they don’t just talk the talk, but walk the talk too. The pandemic gave many people more time to review from whom they bought and what services they were getting in return.

A few years ago I was prompted to question my own purchase decision of cable services from the Swiss company UPC-Cablecom. It had been known to have a  long-term deficit in customer service excellence versus its main competitor Swisscom. And as recent PWC research shows, 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience.

Swisscom has made customer service their MSP (main selling point or value proposition) and they were renowned for putting their customers first. UPC-Cablecom, on the other hand, had until then, been trying to win customers through non-stop promotions and aggressive price cutting. In today’s connected world, especially where the internet is concerned, dissatisfied customers will be quickly heard – across the net.

Back to the incident that prompted this post. After a few days of being ignored by UPC-Cablecom – my perception at least, because my emails and phone calls were not being answered – I’m somewhat embarrassed to say that I resorted to Twitter.

It is more than five years ago that Twitter was first referred to as today’s customer service centre. Social media usually guarantees a quick response, since contacting customer services through the usual channels often results in no reaction for hours if not days.

Social media usually guarantees a quick response, since contacting customer services through the usual channels often results in no reaction for hours if not days. #CustomerSatisfaction #CustomerCare #CallCentre #CRM #CEX Click To Tweet

 

What makes a great customer care centre?

Customers these days expect a response in minutes or hours rather than days. Research shows that nearly a half of all customers (46%) expect companies to respond faster than 4 hours, and 12% expect a response within 15 minutes or less. And yet the average time to respond to customer service requests is currently 12 hours and 10 minutes! How does your own customer service response times compare? As you enjoy my blog posts I assume they are significantly better.

Most call centres are a frustrating, if sometimes necessary, experience for (often dissatisfied) customers to endure. In many cases, they are automated, with a long and complex self-selection process of button pushing to arrive at the department one needs – if you’re lucky that is!

But too often the result of all that effort is just a recording telling you to call back later as the department needed is not open at the moment, or that the collaborators are currently busy and to please stay on the line.

We are next subjected to music supposedly designed to calm our nerves, interspersed with messages suggesting alternative solutions to waiting on the line. Going to the website to find a solution in their available FAQs, or to complete a contact form, or to send an email. This I find insulting since I am sure most people only call after having tried to find a solution online – anything so they don’t have to suffer these long waits!

And then, of course, to add insult to injury, we hear the trite message about our call being important to the company! Really? If so you’re not showing it, you’re not walking the talk.

Some companies that have understood their customers’ frustration with long help-line queues, have found alternative solutions such as offering a callback. Of course, providing sufficient staff to cover the busiest times, or at least to be available when the customer is most likely to need support, would be the simplest and most acceptable solution, no?!

Today there is no excuse for a consumer goods company in particular to not be ready to help their users when they need it the most. For example:

  • Early morning or late at night for personal care products
  • Breakfast, lunch and evening meal times for food manufacturers
  • Evenings and weekends for TV and technology products
Today there is no excuse for a consumer goods company to not be ready to help their users when they need it the most. #CustomerSatisfaction #CustomerCare #CareCentre #CustomerFirst Click To Tweet

While in a few cases, a few customers may use Twitter to jump the call centre queues, in most cases, it is only used as a customer’s final cry for help, after being frustrated by long waits on call centre help-lines or self-service selections that led the customer nowhere except around in circles. 

 

What makes a great customer service representative (CSR)?

Taking the customers perspective is the absolute right thing to do for a company. But perhaps we as customers, should also take the company’s perspective when reaching out to them. Or at least that of the poor customer service representative who is subjected to our frustration and anger at the end of our email or phone call.

To illustrate the skills and talents of a great customer services rep, I want to share my experience with UPC-Cablecom. Jimmy N. was one of the very best examples of what a CSR should be, based upon my considerable years of experience on both sides of contact centres. What did he do so well and what might we all learn from him, despite his relatively young age (mid twenties)?

I have summarised below what I see as the most important skills of a customer services representative, that he clearly demonstrated. I call them the 7Ps of customer service excellence.

Are these the seven best qualities for call centre advisors, or are there more “Ps” that you would add? If you have suggestions, then please add them in the comments below, especially you Jimmy if you read this!

Do you believe that your CSRs could do more for your customers? Then we would love to support you. We know we can help, just tell us where and when. Contact us here and check out our website for more information on our services: http://C3centricity.com/training

This article is regularly updated; the original version was posted on C3Centricity in February 2013.

Adopting a Customer First Strategy. Even the Police Can Get it Right!

In most countries, the population have a love / hate relationship with their police. You can imagine my surprise, therefore, to find myself writing about how they appear to be adopting a customer first strategy in Switzerland!

Let me explain. A few years ago they introduced a new-style speed radars in the villages around my home town. The elements are not that new per se, I know, but last week it suddenly hit me why these speed cameras seem to be so effective. It’s simple; they’re customer centric! The Swiss police have adopted a customer first strategy! And that’s why I want to share more about this story here.

 

Background

Police speed camera
Image Source: Wikipedia

One of the reasons why the Police are disliked in many (dare I say most?) countries, is because of their insidious speed controls.

Whether they are permanent fixtures as on the right, or temporary ones, we all dislike the flash that tells us it’s too late, that we’ve been “caught.”

We then wait a few days, to weeks or even months, naively hoping that it wasn’t our car that was flashed. But eventually the letter arrives asking us to pay a fine.

I think the worst of them all are the laser guns that the Police have been using for many years now. We don’t even know we’ve been flashed until the communication arrives at our home! Or we are pulled up a few hundred meters down the road.

 

Example of a customer first strategy in action with a smiley traffic radar
Image source: Alibaba

The relatively new types of radar that are being introduced in my home area don’t flash either. But that’s because we never get “caught” as such.

You see they measure our speed and give us immediate feedback. Take a look at the photo on the right; I’m sure you’ve seen such installations before in your own area.

Now if we make the assumption that all four types of equipment are to get road users to decrease their speed in critical areas – and not just to gather money as I’ve heard suggested – then the results must vary widely.

 

 

So let me share my thoughts from the perspective of a customer first strategy champion.

 

Permanent radars

Everyone quickly knows where these are located. In fact, in some countries there are warning signs and they are actually highlighted on the GPS mapping system you may have in your car.

speed radar warning
Image source: Pixabay

In some places, the permanent radars are not always functioning, as the cameras inside them are rotated between installations. It is therefore not possible to know which radars are active and which aren’t. The Police then get a multiple deterrent effect, beyond the number of cameras they have actually installed.

A driver’s behaviour when passing this type of installation, tends to be the following. The traffic is rolling along “normally” and probably over the speed limit. Then everyone brakes hard just in time to pass the radar below the maximum speed allowed. They then speed up again to continue along the road at their previous faster pace.

This phenomenon is in fact well known by the Police. In fact, they sometimes add a second, mobile radar a few hundred meters down from the permanent one, to catch those who are once again speeding!

Even the warning signs, as on the left, don’t have much impact on drivers and the speed limitation is quickly forgotten.

Whether they get caught with the first or second radar, the impact on the end customer, the driver, will be the same.

They feel angry and frustrated, which makes them less attentive, and may result in them driving more erratically. They may even speed up feeling that now they have been caught, there is nothing more to lose!

Not good for the driver nor the Police’s objective of maintaining a slower, safer speed in the vicinity. Clearly not a part of a customer first strategy!

In Switzerland they did try painting the cameras to make them stand out in a fun way. The Emmental cheese on the right used to be close to Geneva airport, but I have seen giraffes and other designs here too. Of course I have also seen other radars that have been painted, but these were done by angry motorists!

 

Temporary radars

Temporary radars have a similar function to the permanent ones, but it usually takes a day or two for drivers to become aware of their location. Their reactions will then be similar to the permanent radars, with the slowing down before and the speeding up after the radar has been passed.

This is not good for traffic fluidity, nor for slowing it down. And the drivers’ reactions if flashed will be just the same as with the permanent installations. Again, not good for making the roads safer by slowing down the traffic, and clearly not a demonstration of a customer first strategy.

 

Laser speed guns

Police laser gun
Image source: Wikipedia

These are probably the most hated form of speed control by drivers. They have no knowledge of where they are, nor even that they have been flashed. It could be argued that they are therefore not a deterrent to speeding, but a pure money-making exercise for the Police.

I admit that the Police do tend to stand in certain places where speeding is a common occurrence. Knowledgeable, local drivers look out for them when approaching the areas and adapt their speed accordingly.

But overall they are not really a device to deter speeding and therefore the associated sentiments are very negative.

Once again this type of radar would not be used if the Police have adopted a customer first strategy.

 

Speed Information

The speed radar that prompted this post measures your speed but then immediately gives you feedback. You are rewarded with a happy green smiley if you are within the speed limit. Or a red frown with a message to slow down if you are speeding.

I have witnessed people approaching these devices and slowing down whether or not they are speeding. And they don’t speed up after they have passed them either. How’s that for having a positive influence on behaviour?

Also, if the drivers are like me, they also get a feel-good feeling for being congratulated for not speeding. I find these by far the most efficient at controlling traffic speed and fluidity, but of course the Police don’t get any money.

 

 

What This Has to Do with Your business

So why is this example relevant for you and your own customer first strategy? Well, ask yourself what you really want for your business? 

In the case of the police, I am assuming that they want to reduce the speed of drivers in certain areas and make the roads safer for everyone. In this case, the customer-centric approach, which has by far the most success at slowing drivers down to within the speed limit along a larger portion of the road, is the information panel. If that is their objective, then the Police in every country should adopt these new style radars.

But if those who consider speed checks to be a mere money-making operation are right, then the Police will continue to use one of their other options. And they must accept the negative consequences on so many levels, not just on their image or speeding in their localities.

So, take a hard look at your own business actions and ask yourself what you really want for your business? If you are sincerely customer centric, you will stop any practices that you know your customers wouldn’t like.

Half filled packaging – gone. False claims and promises – deleted. Getting credit card details for free trials in the hope customers will forget to cancel and you can automatically charge them for a service that haven’t specifically requested. Not any longer! These all might get you that first sale but you won’t get you happy and loyal customers who become advocates for your brand.

I dedicated a whole post to the ways that companies try to cheat their customers. If you’d like to read it click on this link and see many more ways of cheating the customer that you should avoid: “https://c3centricity.com/how-to-cheat-your-customers/”

What do you want for your business? If you are sincerely customer centric, you will stop any practices that you know your customers wouldn’t like. Click To Tweet

If you don’t want to cheat your customers – and who would as it is not a viable long-term business model? – then you must objectively evaluate your current practices. Ask yourself what you want your customers to think and feel about your brand. What are the objectives you have for your business and your customers? What changes in your customers’ attitude or behaviour are you looking to encourage? How does your brand provide a solution to your customers? 

These questions are just a small selection that we use in our highly successful 7-step insight development process that is called CATSIGHT™.

If you’d like to know more about it, or get trained in insight-development and adopting a customer first strategy, then check out our new courses in the C3Centricity Academy. You could learn how to develop actionable business insights in under two hours!

Are You Giving What Customers Want Today?

As a dedicated customer centricity champion, just like you, I spend a lot of my time researching what customers want, just like you do too, I hope. In this period of great global unrest, understanding our customers has become more important than ever before.

Just a few short months ago, I didn’t think that it would be possible for customer-centricity to become any more important. But things change and now everyone is fighting to keep their businesses afloat. So the new and constantly altering needs and desires of our customers should be a top priority for all of us to follow.

To help me keep abreast of the changes, I’m regularly checking online searches for such terms as customer service, customer satisfaction and customer care. Google and Bing have become some of my best friends!

A couple of years ago, I came across some surprising facts, which prompted this post when I first drafted it. But with the incredibly unforeseen events of the past few years, I feel it deserves a update.

Already at the time, my analysis suggested a serious problem in the business of looking after our customers. Today it is clear that any organisation that hasn’t spent time putting things right, will most certainly be suffering in this post-pandemic, global unrest in which companies are trying to do business. I’d be interested to hear your own thoughts once you have read the article.

 

Customer Centricity

Wikipedia, another of my faithful friends, doesn’t have a definition for customer centricity! If you look up the term, you get directed to customer satisfaction! Unbelievable.  Try it for yourself and see!

Gartner defines customer centricity as:

“The ability of people in an organisation to understand customers’ situations, perceptions, and expectations.”

It then goes on to say:

“Customer centricity demands that the customer is the focal point of all decisions related to delivering products, services and experiences to create customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.”

What I particularly like about this definition, is that it refers to customer understanding and the need for customers to be the focus of decision-making. It also highlights the need to create not just customer satisfaction, but loyalty and advocacy too.

Now whereas it seems to be difficult to build longterm loyalty these days, especially in B2C businesses, advocacy is essential in today’s connected world. Of course the latter means that customers are surprised and delighted rather than just satisfied, so that they are excited to share their positive experiences with others.


Need help in adopting a customer-first strategy?

Check out our Brand Accelerator™ Course in the C3Centricity Academy


Aim for Advocacy Rather than Loyalty

As we all know, it costs between 5 and 25 times more to acquire a new customer as it does to retain existing ones. (Invesp) Therefore strong loyalty is a valuable benefit for a brand. But covid saw us all changing our purchasing behaviours, as we researched, compared and then bought more online. So although loyalty is difficult, it is not impossible to achieve and luckily advocacy demands the same positive experiences that once led to customer loyalty. So we should be aiming for improved customer service and experiences.

A positive customer experience increases both loyalty and advocacy. #CEX #CRM #CustomerCentricity #CustomerFirst #Loyalty #Advocacy Click To Tweet

Of course, what customers are looking for in a company has also changed dramatically. They now expect organisations to provide more than just their products and services. They expect them to care for their employees as well as the communities in which they do business.

 

Customer Experience is the New Differentiator

Retailers will need to review their bricks-and-mortar strategy as customers continue to order more online than the pre-pandemic era. McKinsey’s article on this topic “Adapting customer experience in the time of coronavirus” makes a good complement to this post.

Do you fix your prices to Amazon if a customer shows interest in buying something but hesitates purchasing in store? Many retail chains do this, especially in durables.

Another important consideration is making the customer’s experience as seamless as possible as their journey takes them r=from online to offline and back.

The experience you provide your customers is the main – dare I say the only? – way to differentiate yourself today. In so many industries product performance and services have become almost indistinguishable.

It has been shown that customers are willing to pay more for excellent customer service. Yes MORE for exactly the same product or service, so what are you waiting for? You can read a summary of the American Express research that was recently updated HERE.

In the post-covid reset, differentiation is going to move from products alone to increased service and care. As already mentioned, customers expect brands to support them in such hard times, but also their employees and communities. Companies who cut jobs and/or salaries while their board members take bonuses will be shunned.

What customers wanted until recently was a seamless experience from pre- to post-purchase, both on and offline. But with increased out-of-stock in physical stores and more purchases being made online, customers now want companies to support them and deliver an even better experience and service. This is definitely not the time to cut customer care departments if your organisation is looking to reduce costs!

What customers are looking for in a company has changed dramatically in just a few months. Do you know how their adapted behaviour is impacting your brand? #CEX #CRM #CustomerFirst Click To Tweet

 

The Importance of Customer Satisfaction & Understanding 

There is no denying that customer-centricity is important, no vital to growth and profitability. However some companies are (too?) hesitant to adopt best practices in this area, which concerns me for a number of reasons:

1. Changes are happening too slowly in most organisations. If it is important for business, then what is stopping companies from adopting a more customer centric approach? The longer they wait, the more they risk being beaten by a more customer-friendly competitor. And this is why so many start-ups are stealing significant share from the major brands. They are super-focused on their customer.

2. Feelings are more important than fact. It’s also no longer (just) about product and service performance. It’s about how the customer feels about your brand. Niche brands and start-ups understand this better than anyone. And the pandemic further accentuated the importance of feelings and emotions. Many of us have become over-sensitive, even depressed, after months of lockdown and trying to follow the ongoing, constantly changing regulations. We want to feel good about our decisions and expect brands to play an active role in making our lives better.

It’s no longer about product and service performance any more. It's about how the customers FEELS about your brand. #Marketing #Brand #CEX #CRM Click To Tweet

Customers have had to become more flexible in their response to constant out-of-stock situations for many categories and brands. However, there is a real danger that once they have accepted to buy a replacement brand, they may then question the need to return to the brand to which that had been previously loyal. I expect to see a lot of brand switching over the remainder of this year as a direct consequence of these forced behavioural changes.

And as if all this is not already difficult enough for businesses to cope with, the increased level of layoffs and furloughs, are forcing customers to reconsider their spending, and think about cheaper alternatives that they may never have previously considered.

3. Customers are complaining – a lot – about the way they are being treated. Why are companies not accepting these criticisms as the gifts they truly are? Acting promptly before an issue becomes yet one more social media overnight viral sensation is essential today. Do it right and your complainers may even turn into advocates if they are delighted with the outcome.

Complaints are also wonderful (free) sources of innovation and renovation ideas. Find out what your customers are unhappy about and then propose a solution. You may even be able to charge more for it, since the new offer will better meet their needs.

Reacting promptly to your customers' complaints may even turn your complainers into advocates if they are delighted with the outcome. #Customer #CustomerService #CustomerComplaints Click To Tweet

4. Customer service is still being confused with customer satisfaction. Companies are happy when their customers say they are satisfied, but that is no longer enough – if it ever was!

All businesses should be looking to surprise and delight their customers! After months of lockdown, customers have a short fuse and react more strongly when dissatisfied with a company or brand. We need to respond faster and more completely to demands, comments and complaints. Find more inspiring ideas on how to respond to customers in this great article entitled “The Revolutionary Marketing Challenge is Not Customer Satisfaction.”

 

The Future of Customer Service

As mentioned above, the research that prompted this post was a Google keyword investigation of terms related to customers. Having seen the strong positive trend for the word customer, I then wanted to understand what it was about customers that was of interest to those searching online.

I found that both customer service and customer care showed almost identical positive trends, although the latter has flattened in the past couple of years. However, when I looked at customer satisfaction and customer understanding the trends were flat and worse, minimal. (You can see the trend graph below)

Source: Google

These trends suggest that companies search for how to improve their customer services and care centres, but not about how to understand their customers better or increase their satisfaction!

How can this be? Surely an interest in customer services should come from an increased understanding of how to deliver customer satisfaction? Well apparently not, at least for most companies! They seem to be more worried about the technical side of the process of responding to their customers efficiently, rather than taking the customer’s perspective on what should be delivered.

This is when I realised that perhaps businesses are more interested in the cost of providing the service than in the real benefit of customer connection. That is a serious flaw in their thinking in my opinion. Do you agree? Whether you do or don’t, please leave me a comment below. This is too important a topic not to continue the discussion.

To confirm my hypothesis, I looked into the trends for customer satisfaction levels around the world. After all, many more companies are interested in customer service these days, aren’t they? So you would think it should have a positive impact on customer satisfaction.

According to the most recent report from The Institute of Customer Service on customer satisfaction across Europe, retail, insurance and banking are the three best-performing industries. This was a surprise to me because they used to be the most heavily criticised!

However, this suggests that they have taken action, albeit because they had little choice, and are now leading the pack. But most other industries continue to ignore what their customers want. You can see the full Infographic overview below; click on it to see the full-sized original.

 

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Unfortunately, as would be expected, all the more recent statistics available are from surveys conducted pre-covid, so I decided not to include them until we have a better grip on the impact the pandemic has had on people.

I then went back to Google to search for any ways that were suggested for increasing customer satisfaction. I found over 133 million articles on how to do it, but very few on the results of doing it. While this is certainly a significant increase on the measly two million I found five years ago and the less than one million articles available just a couple of years ago, it is still extremely worrying.

The increased interest in customer satisfaction is certainly coming from a steady decrease in satisfaction levels over the past couple of years – long before covid struck. The latest results of the US ACSI (American Customer Satisfaction Index) report shows customer satisfaction has been declining since mid-2018 and is now at a level last seen almost a decade ago! With behaviours changing radically during the pandemic, I will be watching with interest how the increase in online ordering and the decline in retail outlet shopping will impact these levels.

What customer want and satisfaction trends usaIt has been proven that changes in customer satisfaction are a predictor of future consumer spending. So it looks like we are not out of the woods yet, nor will be this year, if not next year as well.

David VanAmburg, who is Managing Director at ACSI once said:

“Customer satisfaction will need to increase for the economy to grow at a faster pace. It’s tough to pinpoint one cause of the stagnation, but unless it budges, the national ACSI score paints a dire picture for consumer spending growth.”

 

Key Takeaways About What Customers Want

So what does a business need to do to deliver what their customers really want today and increase their satisfaction? There are seven facts that become apparent from this analysis:

  1. Businesses should always provide positive customer experience and do whatever it takes to not only satisfy but ideally delight their customers. With frustration and lockdowns impacting the emotional stability of many, people are likely to react extremely positively to the slightest thing that goes beyond their expectation at the moment. Take advantage of this opportunity to solidify your brand’s reputation and that of your company too.
  2. Companies need to go beyond the mere technical process of customer-centricity, to truly put their customers at the heart of the organisation. This means adopting a customer-first strategy of course, but also responding to the increase in contacts resulting from customers staying and purchasing at home. This is not the time to cut costs in the area of customer services, but to invest extensively to respond more quickly to requests for help from their house-bound customers. Read “What a Customer First Strategy Is (And what it’s not!)” for more on this topic.
  3. Customer centricity adds demonstrated value to a company; it should be a no-brainer for every single business, whatever the industry, to adopt a customer-first strategy. And as previously mentioned, now that layoffs and furloughs have become the norm, it is vital that customer services remain at the heart of the business and are even expanded if customer connections increase – which they no doubt will in almost every consumer-facing industry.
  4. Customer centric improvements are happening too slowly in most companies, especially when customers are becoming ever more demanding and verbose when dissatisfied. Frustrated customers stuck at home these days, are reacting even more quickly and negatively to being ignored or kept waiting at the end of the line when they call an organisation. After all, they have nothing much to do at home, so will concentrate on getting answers to their questions and complaints. This is confirmed by Matt Wujciak in his analysis “Global Contact Center Trends During COVID-19 Pandemonium.”

    ‘..the contact centre is experiencing an unprecedented increase in overall call volume, with a particular surge in aggressive (if not fanatic) customer inquiries.”

  5. Providing customer service doesn’t guarantee customer satisfaction. Responding to customers in a timely manner has become the table stakes for competing in most if not all B2C industries. And yet investment has not been increasing at the same level as the demand from customers. This has to change.
  6. Positive customer experience always increases loyalty and advocacy. It has been shown that a totally satisfied customer contributes 2.6 times as much revenue as a somewhat satisfied customer and 14 times as much revenue as a somewhat dissatisfied customer. Read “5 Reasons why customer experience is the pulse of every business right now” for more on this.
  7. Excellent customer service enables differentiation and even higher prices. Perhaps now is not the moment to increase prices for your over-sensitive customers, but it is definitely the time to excel at providing the best possible service.

In summary, in this post-covid era, people want businesses to listen and understand them. When a customer takes the time to contact a company because they are unhappy, or even just for information, they expect a satisfactory outcome as a minimum. Those organisations who go beyond, to deliver surprise and delight, will see their reputations improve, as well as an increase in their customers’ loyalty and advocacy. 

Customers also want companies to be more open, honest and transparent. They have a right to know the source of ingredients, the ingredients themselves, the country of origin, the charities the company supports, or the organisation’s policies on waste, water and sustainability.

One additional demand has surfaced this year, that for companies to protect their employees, to reduce layoffs, protect salaries and for management to show that they are adapting their own situations to match what their employees are going through. No bonuses or golden parachutes, when those below them are being furloughed or worse.

So how are you doing? Are you living up to your customers’ expectations? Are you delivering what your customers really want? How have you made progress in this area, especially in the last six months? Please share your (success) stories below. 

You know you can no longer wait; you’re getting left behind by those organisations – and competitors – who are taking action today! Take the FREE C3C Evaluator™ quiz and find out exactly where your greatest opportunities for improvement lie. 

And for more ideas on how you can understand what your customers really want today, why not organise one of our 1-Day Catalyst Training Sessions? We have them on many areas of customer understanding and service, so you are sure to find exactly what you need to inspire and energise your team. Check out and download our brochures. And yes they can be run online as well as in person.

If you would rather talk through your specific needs first, so we can personalise our support for you and your team, then feel free to contact me. It would be a pleasure to help you in these daunting times. 

This post is an update of one that was first published on C3Centricity in 2018.

How Your Business Can Quickly Adopt a Customer First Strategy

Why would you want to quickly adopt a customer first strategy?

Well, every few days there seems to be another customer service disaster that fills the newspapers and goes viral on social media. Amongst the most notable recent examples include United’s Flight 3411 incident disembarking passengers by force and Walmart refusing to match their online prices in-store. These types of incidents almost only ever happen when an organisation doesn’t adopt a customer first strategy, so the solution is relatively easy.

Every single organisation, big or small, recognises the importance of their customers today. They talk about customer centricity but very few actually go beyond voicing their opinions. Perhaps yours is one of these? Do you know why this is? What’s stopping you from taking the necessary actions?

A customer first strategy is not that difficult to implement. Just think customer first in everything you do! So how come most businesses get it spectacularly wrong?

I think one reason, and probably the most common, is because they don’t see an immediate return on their investment. You see, it costs money to make changes in internal processes and procedures.

Another possible reason is because some organisations have hesitated to start for so long, they now feel that they have been left so far behind that they don’t know where to start. What do you think?

The good news is that if you’re in one of these situations, then help is at hand. Read on because this article shares some of the most useful tips I’ve seen on the topic of adopting a customer first strategy.

A customer first strategy is not that difficult to implement. Just think customer first in everything you do! #CEX #CRM #CustomerFirst Click To Tweet

 

REASONS TO ADOPT 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 most noteworthy numbers I found during my research online; if you are still not sure it’s worth it, then this data will no doubt convince you.

  • 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience. But only 1% of customers feel that vendors consistently meet their expectations. (Source: CEI Survey)
  • 74% of consumers have spent more due to good customer service (Source: Entechus.com)
  • 89% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company after experiencing poor customer service.  (Source: RightNow Customer Experience Impact Report)
  • 49% of consumers have left a brand in the past year due to poor customer experience. (Source: Emplifi)
  • Companies earning $1 billion+ can expect to earn an additional $700 million within 3 years of investing in CEX. (Temkin Group now Qualtrics)
  • A 10% increase in customer retention levels result in a 30% increase in the value of the company. (Source: Bain & Co)

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

I believe that those numbers can no longer be ignored. It’s time every CEO started to adopt a customer first strategy. NO more excuses! This has to be (one of) your organisation’s top priorities!

It’s time every CEO started to adopt a customer first strategy. NO more excuses! This has to be (one of) your organisations top priorities! #CustomerFirst #CEX #CRM #Customer Click To Tweet

IN CONCLUSION

So to answer the title of this article, a customer first strategy needs an organisation to recenter itself behind this as a 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.
It 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 get up close and personal with customers on a regular basis. This is the only way for them to understand the role they play in satisfying and delighting them.
A customer first strategy needs an organisation to recenter itself behind its adoption as a company-wide objective. #CEX #CustomerFirst #CustomerCentricity Click To Tweet

Are you ready to adopt a customer-first strategy? If so, then it’s time to identify the priority changes you should make by answering our proprietary C3C Evaluator tool. Complete it now and then book a free half-hour strategy session so we can go through the results together.

 

This post is based upon and is an updated version of one first published on C3Centricity in 2016.

5 Rules for Rolling Out a Successful Local Brand into Global Markets

I remember reading an article in the Financial Times a few years ago, that challenged companies to search for a new style of marketer.

Now you might be forgiven for thinking that they were speaking about the current need for marketers to be both creative and tech-savvy. But they weren’t. They were referring to the growing demand for marketers who could take successful local brands to global fortune.

After all, thanks to the internet, we live in a global market and the recent pandemic has highlighted this more than ever before, with online shopping booming. The marketer who understands when local specificities make sense and when they don’t, is the one who will succeed in today’s global economy.

The marketer who understands when local specificities make sense and when they don’t, is the one who will succeed in today's global economy. #GlobalMarketing #Brand #Marketing Click To Tweet

In this networked world, more and more successful local brands are attempting global roll-outs. What does it take to repeat the success you’ve had at market level when you launch globally? Here are my five rules to fortune:

 

1. Understand the Market and How It’s Changing

This is the basis of any new product launch and applies just as well to global rollouts as it does to local brand developments. Today’s customers are demanding, so find out as much as possible about them. Understand their rational needs but also their emotional desires, even if they don’t openly articulate them.

For global rollouts, additional information is required, including a comparison of the similarities and differences between the customers in the local and future markets. This is where trend following is of particular use, even if you haven’t (yet?) developed plausible future scenarios, as I recommend here.

 

Let’s look at some of the latest trends which are growing across regions today.

  • Conscious consumerism: Consumers have become much more thoughtful about what and where they purchase.  They support companies that demonstrate the same values that they have and brands are tapping into this trend with campaigns showing their position on various topics. Check out these examples of latest campaigns:
  • I want it now! Consumers and shoppers want information – and their purchases too! – where and when they need it. This has been the case for years. But now they expect to get near-instantaneous answers to all their questions, sometimes using visual search to identify and buy whatever they see, wherever they see it. Ikea’s Place App offers shoppers the possibility to snap an article they like and then see it in their home environment. Ikea also offers a visual search function for shoppers to identify an item seen in a magazine or real life, and then find similar ones. Dulux’s Paint Colour Visualizer offers shoppers a similar service; you can try out paint colours virtually in your home to see how it will look with your furnishings before you purchase it.
  • Personalised Experiences. Despite the desire for data privacy control, consumers are ready to provide their information in exchange for a better, highly personalised experience. ZozoSuit is one example in Japan which enables consumers to order clothing online that will fit them perfectly.

It is essential to understand why your local consumers purchase your product or service, and then compare their sensitivities to those in your new target market. For example, if individualisation and personalisation are important in your local market, are they important in the new market? If they aren’t, then you may risk an uphill struggle to gain acceptance and interest in your new offer.

If you’re new to trend following on a global basis, then a great place to start is with the annual Euromonitor International’s Consumer Trends Report. Their early 2022 report highlights trends revolving around two key themes – access and action. As they mention “Resilience and adaptability were tested in 2021, forcing consumers to relinquish control and embrace ambiguity. This year, consumers are taking back the reins and paving a path forward based on their passions and values.” However, the war between Russia and Ukraine, that is happening as I write this, will have long-reaching impacts on all countries and consumers. So I believe that we will continue to see last year’s trends of resilience and adaptability playing out. 

For global rollouts information concerning the comparison of similarities and differences between the customers in the local and future markets must be considered. This is where trend following can be useful. #GlobalMarketing #Trends Click To Tweet

 

2. Understand the Customers’ Perception

What does your brand stand for in the eyes and minds of your customers? Will the consumers in the new target market perceive the same benefits in the same way as your current customers?

If not, is this really a potential market, or are you just rolling-out there due to geographic proximity?

I am still amazed how many organisations base their expansion strategy on geography rather than the customer! It usually proves to be a big and often very costly error! Even large multinationals get it wrong, as the following examples show:

  • P&G’s Pampers was launched in Japan with the image of a stork which confused consumers. Whereas a stork is fabled to bring babies to parents in the west, this is not the case in Japan.
  • Mitsubishi (Pajero), Mazda (LaPuta) and Chevrolet (Nova) all had issues when rolling out their cars into Spanish speaking countries. Had they bothered to check the meaning of the model names in the local language, they would have avoided the negative connotations and the need to change the names of their vehicles after launch.
  • Ford (Pinto) had a similar issue with Portuguese in Brazil. The launch of the model was met with hilarity and mocking. Pinto is often used as slang for a man with tiny genitalia. Ford quickly changed the name from Pinto to “Corcel”, which translates to “stallion” clearly an attempt to (over?) compensate!

As already mentioned we are living in a global community today, so even if you don’t plan (for now) to launch in other markets, your image can still be impacted across the globe by a badly-chosen name.

The second issue concerning customer perceptions is the importance of particular traits in certain markets. For example, the actual price may be more important than quality in some markets. It may therefore make sense to offer a product in smaller sizes, such as individual sachets for shampoos or low count contents for dry products like stock cubes or confectionery. In some markets, value can be perceived as a consequence of packaging or after-sales service, in others not at all. It is therefore vital to understand the components of value in your current as well as the future markets.

The third area you will want to pay attention to is the image of both the brand and your corporation. Table stakes of categories can vary by country and what is important in one market can have no influence on purchase in another. In addition, the corporate image is at least partly based upon your company’s current category presence. If you have a reputation for cheap products, then you may struggle in launching a premium product, even if it is in a new category. Understanding a brand’s image from both perspectives is important to successfully rolling it out in other markets.

So you see just how much information you need to gather about your brand’s image and even your organisation’s before thinking about launching in new markets. Not doing your homework could cost the business a lot in terms of both a damaged image, as the above examples show, or worse still a costly failed launch.

Table stakes of categories can vary by country and what is important in one market can have no influence on purchase in another. #Brand #Marketing #LocalBrand #GlobalBrand Click To Tweet

 

3. Position Based on Insight and Human Truths

Local brands need a human truth to go globalEvery brand should have a positioning based upon an insight. And that insight should include a human truth. I write a lot of articles on insight development; just search on the blog homepage for a review of them all if you’re interested in learning more.

One of the most complete posts is “How the Best Marketers are Getting More Actionable Insights” and I would highly recommend reading it if you’re not totally at ease with what an insight is and how to develop one. And if you need more ideas, then why not take our short course on insight development?

One of the similarities that brings all consumers together is their basic human needs. Think parenting and wanting the best for your children, used by many, many brands, including Nestlé’s Nido and Unilever’s Omo / Persil.

Or what about women and their frustration with not being considered as beautiful as the retouched models they see in their magazines, which is very successfully used by Unilever’s Dove?

And how about men and their need to charm women, to affirm their appeal and attractiveness, that is used by Lynx / Axe from – you’ve guessed it – Unilever, again. (They really do know their consumers better than any other brand builder today and develop actionable insights for all their brands!)

Interestingly, Unilever is now tapping into the same concerns they used for Dove, for Axe. In addition to charming women, Axe now explains that men too want to look after themselves and their bodies. They have even coined a new word “bathsculinity” which they define as “qualities or attributes regarded as characteristic of young men who take pride in their appearance and feel confident in expressing their most attractive selves, inside and outside of the bathroom.” Check out one of their latest ads, quite different from their previous ones: “Axe Ice Chill – bathe on the wild side.”

Insights and human truths are used the world over in marketing and form the basis of many very successful roll-out communication strategies. Before you dream of taking your local brand’s success to global stardom, think about what human truth you are using to build it. If you can’t identify it, there is a far lesser chance of your repeating its local success in other markets.

Every brand should have a positioning based upon an insight. And that insight should include a human truth. #Brand #Marketing #Insight #HumanTruth Click To Tweet

 

4. Can You Use Your Local Heritage?

Many countries and regions have strong, stereotyped images that can play to inherent qualities associated with certain product categories coming from them. Examples of these include French perfume, Swiss watches, Russian Vodka, Italian fashion, German or American cars and Japanese technology.

If your brand has a strong positive association with local tradition or nationality, then make use of it. Even if consumers in the new market may be less aware, authenticity and tradition will still be strong sensitivities on which you can build your brand in new markets. (Just make sure you check trend levels of them before choosing the new countries into which you want to launch!)

IKEA brand logoIkea is one brand that has grown thanks to its Swedish heritage of clean, modern and uncluttered lifestyle that appeals to many around the world. It offers cheaper, flat-packed furniture and home accessories particularly popular for starter homes. They built their business on the global need of people for a secure and welcoming home.

By making their products in kit form, they could keep prices low and transport and storage were far less challenging than for traditional furniture. This also had the additional benefit of involving the customer in the construction of the furniture which made the article more appreciated than shop-bought articles, even if they were of higher quality.

Jysk logoAlthough Ikea is the best known Scandinavian furniture store, and a popular franchise that operates in over 25 countries, it’s not the only one. Jysk from Denmark was opened over 30 years after Ikea and today operates in 27 countries. It has not been as successful as Ikea and I believe there are several obvious reasons for this, starting with its name which many still struggle to pronounce – including myself!

Then there are the products which are bought rather than being made by Jysk as Ikea does, so the quality tends to be far more variable and generally lower. Denmark’s image is not as strong as Sweden’s either, although it is riding on the Scandinavian wave started by Ikea. And lastly, there is the Ikea Family. Jysk hasn’t tried to build a relationship with its customers, so there are no memberships or clubs, no cafes or restaurants to keep customers coming back. It is just a store like any other, whereas Ikea is an experience – even if we do all hate the forced in-store path!

In order to successfully roll out products and services across regions, it is important to know what local image you are portraying and whether it will have the same appeal in new markets or whether it will need to be adapted.  

 

5. Understand the Category

Many companies get their rollout strategy wrong because they look at geographical or linguistic proximity, rather than the closeness of the customers’ social sensitivities or behaviours in them. Just because countries are geographically close, doesn’t mean their populations are similar when it comes to category image and usage.

Kellogg's logoOne clear example of this is Kellogg’s Cornflakes launch into India. It failed because they ignored the Indian habit of having a boiled & sweetened milk rather than using cold milk for their cereals. Therefore the flakes went soggy and the consumers didn’t appreciate what had promised to be a crunchy breakfast cereal.

When planning product roll-outs, we also need to consider how alike the customers are in terms of behaviour, as well as the category trends, compared to the home market. This will help avoid disasters such as Kellogg’s Cornflakes in India. This could have so easily been avoided if marketers had taken the time to observe the Indian breakfast tradition. But they didn’t. They were a large brand and thought that consumer observation wasn’t needed; they paid heavily for this mistake.

Red Bull logo

In contrast, the Austrian brand Red Bull got its global campaign right – by not really having one, other than aiming, at first, for extreme sports and today moving more into elite sports! It adapts its advertising and promotions to fit each local market while still having the foundation of sports, adventure and risk-taking clearly integrated. In the beginning, most of their activities were focused around extreme sports, sponsoring flying, cliff diving, skiing and skateboarding.

Since those early days, Red Bull has expanded its activities well beyond sponsorship alone, starting its own events such as Soap Box Races and the record-breaking Red Bull Stratos programme, in which they funded the exploits of Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner. It also has teams active in both Formula 1 racing and champion football with two teams in the first and three clubs in the latter.

 

So there you have five rules to increase the chances of succeeding as you roll out brands into new markets. Many companies have effectively rolled-out successful local brand into other countries in the region, if not the world. But many more have failed. What would you add to the above list to increase the odds in favour of a regional or global roll-out? I would love to read your own thoughts in the comments below.

This post is regularly adapted and updated, the last publication being in December 2020 on C3Centricity.

13 Most Inspiring Marketing Quotes and Questions to Live By in 2022

Are you like most businesses? Do you have a plan you are following that will (hopefully) enable you to reach your goals?

In order to meet them, we are often looking to make changes, large or small, in our organisation. At times like these I find it useful to motivate with some inspiring quotes from people much wiser than I. If you are looking for ways to motivate and inspire your own team, then I am sure you too will enjoy these.

This is my selection of great quotes from some of the best marketers around, together with a relevant question to ask yourself for each. If your favourite quote is not included, then please add it to the comments below the post.

 

#1.  “Strategy and timing are the Himalayas of marketing. Everything else is the Catskills” Al Ries 

This quote refers to the Catskills, a province of the Appalachian Mountains, located in southeastern New York and only 1270m high. It compares them to the Himalayas, a range that includes some of the world’s highest peaks, including Mount Everest (8,849m).

It uses this comparison to suggest that to succeed in marketing you have to afront the highest peaks of strategy and timing, and not be satisfied with scaling simple hills. In other words, be in the right place at the right time with the right offer. Simple!

QUESTION: Are you going to upgrade your marketing this year to meet this lofty challenge?

Strategy and timing are the Himalayas of marketing. Everything else is the Catskills. Al Ries #Strategy #Marketing #Brand Click To Tweet

 

#2.  “In marketing I’ve seen only one strategy that can’t miss – and that is to market to your best customers first, your best prospects second and the rest of the world last” John Romero

I love this quote because it refers to knowing and understanding your customers. The best ones, however you define that, come first and your best prospects come second. If you’d like to know if you’re targeting your very best customers and best prospects, then check out the following post: How Well Do you Know Your Customers? 13 Questions your Boss Expects you to Answer

QUESTION: Do you know who your best customers are and everything you should about them?

In marketing I've seen only one strategy that can't miss - and that is to market to your best customers first, your best prospects second and the rest of the world last. John Romero #Marketing #Brand #Customer Click To Tweet

 

#3. “Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation”  Milan Kundera

This post shows the often forgotten importance of marketing to business. I know those of you in sales or operations etc will complain, but if customers don’t know and love your brands then you don’t have a business. It really is as simple as that. I also like that innovation is included, because especially today, customers have become so demanding that we need to constantly upgrade our offers to them.

QUESTION: Does your business value marketing? If not, how can you help them to recognise its value?

Business has only two functions - marketing and innovation. Milan Kundera #Business #Marketing #Innovation Click To Tweet

 

#4. “The wise man doesn’t give the right answers, he poses the right questions” Claude Levi-Strauss

Are you better at asking questions or answering them? Which is more important in your job? Why? A leader doesn’t have all the answers but should surround himself with people who do.

QUESTION: How often do you ask the right questions? What more could you ask and of whom?

The wise man doesn't give the right answers, he poses the right questions. Claude Levi-Strauss #Leadership #Business Click To Tweet

 

#5. “People Do Not Buy Goods And Services. They Buy Relations, Stories, And Magic” Seth Godin

As products and services get ever more similar, the brands that win are those that understand, engage and entertain their customers. Build relationships with your customers by telling stories about your brand origin, and weave in some magic that only your brand can deliver.

QUESTION: What are you doing to share your own stories and brand magic?  

People Do Not Buy Goods And Services. They Buy Relations, Stories, And Magic. Seth Godin #Quote #CEX #CRM Click To Tweet

 

#6. “A Brand Is No Longer What We Tell The Consumer It Is — It Is What Consumers Tell Each Other It Is” Scott Cook

Following on from the last quote, we need to be careful between sharing and telling. Brands should share interesting anecdotes and stories, things their customers are interested in.

QUESTION: How much of your website is made up of things you want to tell the customer? How much of it’s content are stories and information the customer is interested in knowing?

A Brand Is No Longer What We Tell The Consumer It Is — It Is What Consumers Tell Each Other It Is. Scott Cook #Brand #BrandImage #Marketing Click To Tweet

 

#7. “Make Your Marketing So Useful People Would Pay For It” Jay Baer 

The next phase of upgrading your marketing, once you are telling stories and building relationships, is to make it so useful that people would actually pay to have it. Today this includes eBooks, checklists, games, articles and memberships.

QUESTION: How useful is your marketing to your customers? Are you building loyalty by recognising and showing appreciation for their purchases?

Make Your Marketing So Useful People Would Pay For It. Jay Baer #Quote #Marketing #Customers Click To Tweet

 

#8. “Awareness Is Fine, But Advocacy Will Take Your Business To The Next Level”  Joe Tripodi

Awareness today comes in many forms. Awareness of your advertising, activities and promotions, social media posts. Is that what you measure? The problem is that all these metrics mean little if you are not resonating emotionally with your customers. And the only way you’ll know this is when people start supporting, advocating, recommending your brand.

QUESTION: What metrics do you follow to measure your marketing? When and how do your customers recommend you? 

Awareness Is Fine, But Advocacy Will Take Your Business To The Next Level. Joe Tripodi #Quote #Awareness #Advocacy #CRM #CEX #Business Click To Tweet

#9. “We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be” May Sarton

No-one is like you. No-one in the past was like you. No-one in the future will be like you. You are unique with your own unique gifts and talents. So why not use them to make your business better? Treat your customers as if they were you.

QUESTION: How do you like to be treated? Use that as your guiding light for how you treat your own customers. Your business will be better off for it.

We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be. May Sarton #Quote #BeOurself #Self Click To Tweet

 


If you’d like to know who you are and what gifts and talents you should be using to succeed in your career, then sign up for our free training. 


#10. “We see things as we are, not as they are” Leo Rosten

One of the biggest challenges in business is to see our brands as our customers do. Most of the time we make what we like, advertise and promote in a way that we like and develop new products and services that we like. What we like has no importance, only your customers’ opinion matters when you want to grow your business. So listen to them.

QUESTION: How often do you watch and listen to your customers? Whatever the frequency is, it’s not enough. Do more. 

We see things as we are, not as they are. Leo Rosten #Quote #Realism #Understanding #Perception #SelfAwareness Click To Tweet

 

#11. “Content is anything that adds value to the reader’s life” Avinash Kaushik

Too many websites are filled with information that the brand wants to tell the customer. The best websites do the opposite. They are filled with content the customer wants or needs, and entertains along the way.

QUESTION: How good is your website at giving your customers what they want. If you’re not sure check out this article: From a Good to a Great Website: 9 Ways to Engage More Successfully

Content is anything that adds value to the reader’s life. Avinash Kaushik #WebDesign #Website #ContentStrategy #Content Click To Tweet

 

#12. “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change” Charles Darwin

You know the world is changing and changing faster every day. The same goes for our customers. What attracted them yesterday only satisfies them today and disappoints them tomorrow. People want novelty and innovation. Make sure you are constantly upgrading your offer, but be careful to do so by adding what your customers want or desire. If you innovate based on your internal skills rather than external needs, your innovations will remain in the 95% that fail.

QUESTION: Is your portfolio filled with winners? Use Pareto’s principle (the 80/20 rule) to continuously evaluate your offers and eliminate the bottom 20%. Then add new offers that respond to customers’ needs of today, or ideally tomorrow.   

It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. Charles Darwin #Change #Intelligence #Survival Click To Tweet

 

#13. “You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new” Steve Jobs

A golden oldie to finish with. This is reminder that asking customers what they want it not the best way to know what they want. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, as another os Steve’s quotes says, customers don’t know what they want until you show it to them. However, they do know very well what they don’t want and what problems they are facing when using the category.

The second reason is that people are changing so fast that by the time you make what the customer has asked for, they’re already in need of something else.

You can't just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they'll want something new. Steve Jobs #Quote #CRM #CEX #CustomerSatisfaction Click To Tweet

 

For even more inspiring quotes, do check out C3Centricity’s resources. There you can find hundreds more quotes, classified by the four foundational areas of a customer-first strategy, namely company, customer, brands and processes: https://bit.ly/3qwTFQa

Top 10 Most Popular Articles on Customer Centricity of 2021

Happy New Year to all you Customer-first strategists. May your year by bright and your customers surprised and delighted!

Each January we like to celebrate our most popular posts on customer centricity that were published on C3Centricity during the year. Just like 2020, covid has forced all of us to be a little more creative and a little less demanding in our work.

Here at C3Centricity, we reviewed and updated many of our cornerstone, evergreen articles, so you may recognise a few of them from last year in this list. However, they still make great reading and a reminder that we’re all in business to satisfy and delight our customers. And if you’d like a surprise too, then I have one for you at the end of the post. Enjoy!

 

#1. The 6 Best Ways to Show you Respect your Customers

Show you respect your customersThis is another evergreen post that has been popular amongst our readers for several years. It has moved from second position, to take the top spot in 2021. The article shows you how to connect with your customers and gather their information.

It also has some tips on how to build a good relationship with them and respectfully let them leave if they no longer want to connect with you. Making it hard for them just makes you lose image.

If you’re ready to adopt a customer-first strategy, check out our online course on the topic HERE.

 

#2. Five Rules of Customer Observation for Greater Success

Measure your company image

This post has been amongst the top articles on C3Centricity for many years. It is regularly updated so it remains highly relevant in today’s marketplace.

Its popularity clearly shows the need we all have to understand how to get up close and personal with our customers – the right way.

The 5 rules it includes are easy to follow and will make every occasion to watch and listen to your customers so much more interesting and valuable.

And if you want to learn how to watch and listen more effectively to your customers, then check out our training courses HERE

 

#3. Five Brilliant Ideas to Boost your Insight Development

Boost your insight developmentThis post remains the third most popular one on C3Centricity. Ever wondered why you struggle to develop actionable insights? This post shares some of the main reasons why even large companies fail at this essential art.

Insights are the foundation on which every single successful brand is built. If your brands are lacking strong positive growth, they are probably missing that insight that will make them powerhouses.

So it is vital that you learn how to develop them and then how to action them in your communications and innovation. Again, if you struggle to action your insights, you’re most certainly missing one of the steps covered in this post.

To stimulate your thinking, the article includes many real-world examples of how great insights can be turned into powerful ad campaigns that connect with customers and motivate them to buy.

If you’re ready to finally learn how to develop actionable business insights, check out our online course on the topic HERE.

 

#4. How to Map Your Customer Journey & Overlay their Emotions

Customer journey map

The popularity of this post highlights the importance for businesses to better understand their customers’ purchase journey as more buying went online.

Through a personal example the article includes three suggestions to improve your understanding of your customer journey mapping:

1. The customer journey map needs to integrate all possible contact points. If you miss even one, your map will be incomplete and your understanding will be lacking too.

2. If you mess up admit it AND correct it. Find a solution that is acceptable to your customer, not just the quick fix that suits you. And go further by not just satisfying but aim to surprise and delight them too.

3. Follow up to make sure the customer is happy. Replacing a faulty product or service is what our customers expect. Offering free samples, a further discount, express delivery or additional attention is not. These are the small touches that surprise and delight and you will go from the bad guy to the cool guy.

And if you want to learn how to update your own customer journey maps, then check out our training courses HERE

 

#5. Is Packaging Part of Product or Promotion? Should it be Both?

Customer centric packagingThis post remains in fifth position highlighting the importance of making packaging more than just the protection of  your product or giving it more impactful online presence.

The article shares many great examples from different industries including food, beauty, and even services such as bathroom facilities in airports.

The learnings will guide you in connecting with your users before, during and after purchase, and suggests ways to then keep them loyal to your brand.

And if you want to learn develop more customer-centric packs, or would like an audit of your current packaging, then please contact us HERE so we can discuss your options.  

 

#6. A Winning Marketing Plan: 9 Questions Every Marketer Should Be Able To Answer

Winning marketing plan is just a storyAnother new post appearing in the top ten this year explains how to develop winning marketing plans – not just for your business, but for your career too!

We all have to define our plans each year and get them approved by top management. This article discusses the 9 most commonly asked questions of executives and how you should answer them so they are not only satisfied by your replies, but impressed too. The questions are:

  1. Who are our brand’s customers?
  2. How much are our customers worth to us?
  3. What’s the return on our marketing budget?
  4. How much will we sell and what market share can we expect this year?
  5. What do our innovation plans for the brand look like?
  6. What do we know about our carbon footprint?
  7. How’s the competition doing?
  8. How’s our distribution these days?

Now you might be wondering where #9. is; well I leave you to check out the post to see, as it might surprise you.

And if you want to upgrade your own marketing plans, please contact us HERE so we can discuss your options.  

 

#7. How to Take Local Brands Global: The 5 Rules to Fortune

Brand image and great personalityA new entry in the top 10 this year, coming straight in at #6. The post shares five rules to follow to succeed taking a local brand to regional or global success. These include:

  1. Understanding the market and how it’s changing. Even if you are rolling out to geographically adjacent countries, the trends are not always the same, so it’s worth checking rather than assuming they’re similar.
  2. Understand the customer’s perspectives. The brand has a certain image which may be less relevant in your new target marketplace. Make sure you understand which elements are worth supporting and which others you should ignore. You may also find there are new elements of your brand that will appeal to your new market’s customers.
  3. Following on from the above, using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to understand what solution you are proposing to your new market and then base your brand on a relevant human truth.
  4. If you have taken advantage of heritage or country image in your local market, check whether or not they are relevant in the new country. Associations of French beauty or fashion, German automobiles or Italian food should be useable in many countries, but other categories may have local specificities not relevant outside their territory.
  5. Finally the category and how the products are used may vary widely by market. Never assume your new customers will use your brand in the same way.

As you can see, the recommendation on all points is to take time understanding the customers in your target market before rolling out. It is only when you have understood their similarities and differences can you decide whether or not your brand is likely to find success in the new country. Never fall into the trap of geographical proximity being a guarantee of similarity. These days it’s rarely the case.

And if you want to learn more about rolling out your successes regionally or globally, then please contact us HERE so we can discuss your options.  

 

#8. Brand Portfolio Secrets to Success (5 Things You Need to Know)

Customer centric brand buildingAnother evergreen entry in the top ten, down one place at #7, this post highlights some of the errors marketers make when wanting to expand their brands.

It concludes with 5 ideas to improve your brand portfolio management:

  1. If you offer a vast choice of variants, consumers could get analysis paralysis and end up walking out of the store without buying anything.
  2. Manage the corporate brand just like your other brands, especially if it appears prominently on packaging or communications.
  3. Ruthlessly cut the bottom 20% or your brand or service offerings. 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 planned budget to actively support them.
  4. Innovate less but bigger, bolder and 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.

And if you want an audit of your current portfolio to identify your new opportunities and current space-waster, then please contact us HERE so we can discuss your options.  

 

#9. How to Measure Customer Centricity the Right Way

This post has jumped from position #18 to #8 this year, which suggests an increased interest in customer centricity – which I am ecstatic about.

As the saying goes “what gets measured gets managed.” So assessing your progress when you adopt a customer-first strategy is important, very important. But how do you do it?

This post explains how to measure customer centricity and shares results from around the world. It concludes with a useful 7-point summary of the analysis shared in the article. It also gives a link for you to measure your customer-centricity – for FREE!  – so what are you waiting for?

If you’re ready to adopt a customer-first strategy, check out our online course on the topic HERE.

 

#10. The Good, Bad and Downright Ugly Parts of a Head of Marketing Job

The position of head of marketing has come under a lot of criticism in recent years and research shows that CEOs trust their CMO far less than most of his other board members. Perhaps that’s why the position has one of the shortest tenures, of less than three and a half years!

In addition the marketing budget has come under tougher scrutiny and marketing heads are being asked to prove the ROI of their investments.

The most influential CMOs recognize that their ultimate job is driving business growth. And to do that, they play a larger role, taking on additional responsibilities in areas as diverse as internal culture, talent, IT purchasing, and customer engagement. Talk about broadening their skill-set!

So here are a few ideas on how to prove that a CMO is worth far more than most board members realise.

  1. Mission and vision of the company. These are important for CMOs to understand, since it is their actions that will bring them to life, including the corporate brand as well! It is their role to ensure that all the brands in the current portfolio are a good fit for the company’s aspirations. And when this is not the case, they need to courage to admit it and then to make plans for moving them out.
  2. Once a CMO understands the company’s mission and vision, it’s important for them to evaluate how well these are integrated into the daily working of all employees.Dare to ask the naive questions of your peers and colleagues, so you have a global view of business from every department’s perspective.
  3. Every CMO has more information available to them than either they know, or can use. Some organisations are very rich in terms of data and know it. But many more are rich and don’t know it. Find out what’s available then add AI and ML into the mix (sic) for more powerful marketing mix modelling.
  4. Creativity alone is no longer enough to be an excellent marketer. They need a whole list of other skills and the article lists 20 of the most important ones.
  5. All positions use processes and the head of marketing is no exception. Theirs should follow the six-step formula explained in the post: prioritise, strategise, structure, motivate, excite and lead.

If you would like to review your current Head of Marketing position, their strengths, opportunities and responsibilities, then please contact us HERE so we can discuss your options.  

 

So there you have them. Our ten most popular posts of 2021 on the topic of adopting a customer-first strategy. Did you find your own favourites among them? Did you see any that you missed or forgot about, and have now found useful after having had the chance to read them? They cover all the important aspects of customer-centricity, as well as the skills that you need to grow your brands faster and more profitably. So I think they are a great summary of all the important elements of adopting a customer-first strategy. 

Looking to 2022, I would love to hear what topics you would like me to cover. You can also share what challenges you think you will be facing in the coming year and where a little extra support would be useful to you.

If you’re in a hurry for you and your team to start working on one of your challenges right away, why not give me a call? I keep a few spots open every day to offer the opportunity for anyone to reach out for some free advice. I should be able to point you in the right direction towards a viable and fast solution to whatever you’re facing.

In the meantime, I wish you a happy, and above all healthy, New Year and even more success in 2022.

Don’t forget to Share this Post! Thanks.

10 Ways to Immediately Improve Your Customer Centricity

We all know that adopting a customer-first strategy is essential for business growth and profitability. However, customer centricity has become even more important today, as a result of all the changes in our customers’ behaviour following the global covid lockdown. We are now even more impatient and demanding of businesses, and quick to complain publicly when things go wrong, or rather when we are not totally satisfied.

All companies need to put their customers clearly at the heart of their organisation. But I know that many struggle, even in more normal times, to be customer centric. They just don’t know where to start. Am I right? If you’re in this situation yourself, then this article is for you. In it I share ten simple actions to accelerate your organisation along its path to an improved customer-first strategy.

 

#1 Review & Revise the Description of your Target Audience

Do all your brands have a clear description of their target audience? These days we tend to speak about personas or avatars.

Complete this 4W persona template for customer centricityIs it as complete as it should be? If not, then regular readers will know about and probably use the C3Centricity 4W™ template for storing all this information. You can download it and get the accompanying workbook for free here.

In your avatar, you must include not only your customers’ demographics and consumption / purchasing habits, but also information about where they do these things, what values they have that you can tap into and what emotions motivate them to purchase and use your brand.

 

#2 Assess the Optimum Way of Connecting with Your Customers

Do you know the best way to contact your target customers, as well as their preferred place and time to connect?

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

Obviously the second is what it should be. You can learn far more about your customers by listening, especially when they are ready to share their information with you.

For an original take on engaging your customers see “You’re missing out on a Free Communication Channel!” (Any guesses what it is?)

Review how you communicate with your customer and make sure its a dialogue not a monologue. #Brand #Communications #Marketing Click To Tweet

 

#3 Identify the Needs Your Brand is Addressing

Maslow's hierarchy of needsDo you know what needs your customer has and which of them you are tapping into?

They certainly have more than one need, but you must identify and address only one at a time.

If you attempt to address more than one and especially if they are not sequential, your customer may be confused.

Mixed brand messages on what the brand can do for them, will leave your customers perplexed. This will, in turn, reduce the likelihood that they will be convinced your offer can meet their needs and objectives.

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 cultures with similar levels of a specific need.

For more on this, please see “How to Take Local Brands to Global Success: The 5 Rules to Fortune.”

Knowing where your brand sits on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has an additional benefit. It can increase the chance of success of regional & global launches. #Brand #Values #BrandEquity Click To Tweet

I hope this list has helped you to identify a few areas that need revision in your organisation. Actioning even just one of them will improve your customer centricity and your profitability too (according to research).

Of course completing them all will ensure that your customer is really at the center of your business, as well as in the hearts of your employees.

If you would like to know just how customer centric you are, complete the C3C Evaluator™ assessment. The mini-version is free! The Evaluator™  will help you to identify where you are today as well as how to prioritise any needed changes in your organisation. 

For further inspiration on making your organisation more customer centric, check out our new course on Udemy. It’s called “A Customer-First Strategy for Accelerating Brand Growth.”

Never Give Up! How to Succeed in Business When Everyone Else is Failing

I was recently reminded of a famous and inspiring quote from Winston Churchill’s address to Harrow School in the UK back in 1941. It was certainly one of his shortest speeches, but probably also one of his most quoted. He said:

“Never give in, never, never, never, never”

You can read his full speech – which is not much longer! – here.

Hearing this quote got me thinking about failure. Failure in our lives, our businesses, our jobs, our relationships. And more importantly, about how we often fail merely because we give up too quickly. Unfortunately we’ll never know, but we can do something to avoid failure. In fact we can do a lot!

Now whereas I believe that advising you on your private life is best left to my other platform https://finding-your-happy.com, I do feel sufficiently knowledgeable to speak about your business failures here.

I recently wrote about the 7 reasons most companies fail to adopt a customer first strategy. They were the conclusion to a post on what a customer first strategy is, and what it isn’t. If you missed it, then click the link above to read the full article. And if you want to learn more about how to adopt a customer-first strategy, then I’m sure you’ll be interested in checking out my new course on Udemy called “A Customer-First Strategy for Accelerating Brand Growth.” It is a success roadmap for putting your customers at the heart of your business for faster growth & profitability.

Over the many years of blog posting, I’ve written many posts on numerous topics, including my solutions to failing in countless areas of marketing. I therefore thought it would be useful to share four summaries of the most important articles related to failure in business and innovation in a single post. Let me know what you think.

 

 

How you React to Failure could Make You a Success

For this first summary of a post, I’d like to share not a list of solutions but a selection of inspiring quotes on reacting to failure. I think it sets the stage beautifully for the three other summaries to come.

In the full post (which you can read by clicking the above link) you can also find suggested actions for each of them. They will make you realise that there is great opportunity in every failure! So don’t be afraid to fail. Just don’t miss the chance of learning a valuable lesson!

1. “It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure” Bill Gates, American Businessman

2. “Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be” John Wooden, American Coach

3. “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” Benjamin Franklin, American Politician

4. “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently” Henry Ford, American Businessman

4. “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently” Henry Ford, American Businessman #Quote #Success #Failure Click To Tweet

5. “The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure” John C. Maxwell, American Clergyman

6. “Failure doesn’t mean you are a failure it just means you haven’t succeeded yet” Robert H. Schuller, American Clergyman

7. “Enjoy failure and learn from it. You can never learn from success” Sir James Dyson, British Designer

8. “Fear of failure must never be a reason not to try something” Frederick W. Smith, American Businessman

9. “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall” Nelson Mandela, South African Statesman

10. “Failure seldom stops you. What stops you is the fear of failure” Jack Lemmon, American Actor

They say that pride comes before a fall; I say success follows failure! I wish you much success in failing fast, learning faster, so you can enjoy more success!

They say that pride comes before a fall; I say success follows failure! I wish you much success in failing fast, learning faster, so you can enjoy more success! #Success #Innovation #Business #Marketing #Insights Click To Tweet

 

How to Innovate Successfully (What You’re Still Getting Wrong!)

This post mentions the ten reasons innovation fails and then shares ideas on finding a solution to each of them. That is what I share in the summary below.

 

#1 The process: Introduce some creativity into the process. Use a virtuous circle (as shown above) rather than the usual linear or funnel approach.  All innovation processes should start with a deep understanding of the potential customer segment and then insight development.

#2 Meeting company quotas: Instead of company quotas on the number or proportion of new product launches, a better target is a percentage of sales. This should eliminate all but the very best ideas, which are expected to increase sales rather than merely replace current products.

#3 Lack of customer understanding: The best way to innovate successfully is to start by looking at the target customer’s lifestyle and seeing how you can make it easier and more enjoyable for them. Watching and listening to your customers with an open mind, rather than with a hypothesis in your head, will enable you to identify pain points the customer may even be unaware of.

#4 Lack of category understanding: Never assume you are competing in a certain category until you have identified how your customers are choosing and what they are currently using. You might be surprised to learn that your competitors are not those you thought they were!

#5 Not living up to your promises: In today’s connected world, false or exaggerated promises are quickly identified and shared on social media. Nothing is every hidden for long these days, so if you make a mistake, admit it, own it, correct it and move on. It will be forgotten or forgiven quicker than if it becomes a scandal.

#6 Not being sufficiently differentiated: With such an abundance of information available to everyone, comparisons are easy to make.  Solution based offers will always be able to charge more than product based ones. It’s up to you to decide which you want to be.

#7 Being too different: Identifying a sub-category of users with a precise need and then meeting that need better than anyone else is the more successful way to differentiate.

#8 Pricing yourself out of the market: Understanding how much potential customers value your offer is essential to the success of any product or service.

#9 Inappropriate distribution: Appropriate distribution doesn’t mean being in stock everywhere at the lowest price. But it does mean being in the retail outlets that your target customers visit more often.

#10 Being too far ahead of the customer:  If you can’t afford to wait for your customers to catch up with your new product or service idea, then you should certainly reconsider your launch decision. Keep the concept in your “back drawer” until customers are ready. You will then be the first to respond to these new needs and beat the competition to market with the correct solution.

The full article goes into more detail on each of these solutions of course. So if any of them resonate with you, it’s worth checking out the full post.

You must innovate to stay in the game, but that doesn’t mean launching anything just to meet the company’s innovation targets. Launch bigger, bolder and better, as one of my bosses used to say. And never give up on learning the lessons that each failure brings!

 

What Great Leaders Know and You Probably Don’t

What great leaders know
Source: Winning Customer Centricity

This post summarises my easily applied learnings that will make your leadership style more efficient and effective, no matter the industry in which you work.

1. We should never stop learning. As we age and rise in the corporate world, we seem to forget that we don’t know it all! We even think that we should have all the answers, or worse still, think that we do!

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 be good at managing people first. 

If we lead a team, whether just a few people or many thousands, we should be good at managing people first. #Team #Leadership Click To Tweet

3. Practice really does make perfect. It’s not only perfectionists that think they’re never good enough. We should always strive to be the best we can be. We should never compare ourselves to others, only to our previous selves. 

We should never compare ourselves to others, only to our previous selves. #Learnings #Self-respect Click To Tweet

4. That final check is worth itWhen I was learning to fly, my instructor never stopped reminding me that the pre-flight checks were vital to do thoroughly. He reminded me that once you’re in the air, it’s too late! The same goes for meetings, events and conferences once they’ve started. Make and use checklists, like pilots do, and complete that final check thoroughly and completely.

5. Accept defeat and mistakes. We all make mistakes sometimes and get defeated occasionally. We’re human after all. However, those mistakes and defeats are great teachers. If we learn and grow from them, then the pain involved should be short-lived, as we move on to bigger and better things.

6. Honesty is always the best policy. Somehow honesty is rarely discussed these days and yet we all know that trust is one of the main reasons people do business with companies. Trust built over the long term will enable companies to be forgiven for any occasional mishap that may occur.

Trust built over the long term will enable companies to be forgiven for any occasional mishap that may occur. #Trust #Failure #Mistakes Click To Tweet

7. Business isn’t only about millenials. Everyone is speaking about the Millenials these days. While Millenials may be trendy, there are other groups which are arguably just as important to consider for a successful business. For example, there are now more Baby Boomers that Millenials in the US!

Great leaders are aware of these seven points, are you? If not, then read the full article for further details. Leaders don’t know it all but they do know how to learn from failure. Never give up on your plans, just adapt them when needed.

 

How the Best Marketers are getting Deeper Insights

Observe and listen for deeper insights
Source: Winning Customer Centricity

Be honest! Everyone struggles to develop true insights about their customers. Most times we accept summary information or facts about the marketplace and call them insights. But we should all know and accept that insight development is difficult. So hard to get to that “aha” moment, when what we have articulated about our customers is so obvious that we can’t understand how we – or anyone else for that matter – never realised it before!

If you are struggling to develop insights that truly resonate with your customer, clients or consumers, I suggest you follow these 8 tips.

#1. Turn business objectives into customer-centric ones. Identify what you want to change in terms of your customers’ behaviour or attitudes. This way you will be thinking about your customers’ objectives rather than (just) your own.

#2. Insight generation should start with customer connections. When was the last time you personally spoke with your customers? If it wasn’t in the last week, you’re not getting out enough!

Insight generation should start with customer connections #Insights #MRX Click To Tweet

#3. Have regular contact with all other departments. It is impossible to really understand the business if your contact with other groups is limited to meetings and presentations. Make a habit of taking a coffee or lunch with people from other spheres of the company and share your latest ideas and learnings. You will both discover a lot!

#4. Get MRI (Market Research & Insight) to share their nuggets of information regularly. Market research and insight teams learn new things about the business every day, so why not ask them to share more? Don’t wait for a formal presentation of the results of the latest piece of research. Get them to share findings and analyses with you on a regular, (at least) monthly basis.

#5. Get into the habit of speaking with consumers at every chance you can. Suggest to join in when research projects are being run. Listen in to call centre conversations, speak to demonstrators and merchandisers, or even talk to shoppers at retail.

#6. Ask MRI to analyse more than market research information alone. They are the best synthesisers you have and can manage multiple data sets from all available sources. Ask them to integrate more information and you will both be happier.

#7. Remember that insight development takes energy and time. It usually takes days, if not weeks or even months to refine, group and synthesise information down to an actionable insight

#8. Insight development should involve more than the marketing, market research and insight teams, which is why it is so important for them to build relationships with other departments.

Following these 8 ideas will make your business one of the most successful in insight development. How would that feel? Read the full article HERE. Insight development may be difficult, but it’s not impossible. Never give up!

These are just a few ideas and processes for avoiding failure or even more importantly, learning (a lot) from them. Whether it is in business management, innovation or customer understanding, you can learn from the best, so you don’t have to make the same mistakes they made.

Have some personal stories of great learnings you’d like to share? Then please comment below.

If you enjoyed this post, then please share with your colleagues and peers. Thank you. 

If you would like to improve even faster in any areas of learning – from failure, but that’s not mandatory! – you can invite me to give a talk or 1-Day training that will catalyse your team in record time. Download the summary brochure of all our current offers HERE.

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

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