Last week I spoke about the importance of actioning customer feedback. I want to continue this topic now by focusing on using the information for continuous improvement of the brands and services you offer.
… Click to continue reading
Since we founded C3Centricity in early 2011, one of our traditions has been to share the most popular posts on customer experience at the beginning of each new year.
This past year has been particularly successful for C3Centricity, with many of our newest posts getting the top scores globally! This is quite tough for a blog that has been running for almost 13 years and highlights the quality of the content we share with you each month.
Of course, there are also a few perennials that have been appearing in our top 10 list for years, like insight development and customer observation. Since no brand is successful without a foundational insight, and customer understanding is its major essential element, these two will always be popular – they also are on Google’s first page, which certainly helps and confirms the quality of their content.
So let’s have a look at the Top 10 list in 2023, and see if your own favourites are there. If not, then please let us know in the comments. Thanks.
This post regularly appears in the top three posts on C3Centricity. This shows the quality of its recommendations and content. And the importance of business insights.
Ever wondered why you struggle to develop actionable insights? This post shares some of the main reasons why even large companies sometimes fail at this essential art. Then, it offers some suggested solutions to help you.
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.
This post has also been among the top articles on C3Centricity for many years. It is a cornerstone post that is regularly updated to remain 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 five 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
So, how can companies be better prepared for whatever the future holds?
Agility needs preparation and with this in mind, most major organisations conduct some sort of societal trend following in the hope that they will correctly “guess” what might happen. You may be one of them. So it might surprise you that I believe this is a huge mistake, especially if you think that trends alone will better prepare your organisation!
Think about it. Most companies follow the same trends, attend the same trend “shows” & conferences, and get the same or at least very similar reports.
This results in them all working on the same ideas and concepts, and eventually launching very similar products and services or campaigns, that struggle to compete effectively.
Have you never wondered why suddenly everyone is talking about a certain topic, using similar slogans, or launching equivalent offers? Now you know why!
Here’s how to avoid this and develop a powerful competitive advantage.
I want to start by sharing just one example of the problem I just mentioned. A few years ago, we started seeing many companies using the idea of “YES” and “NO” in their advertising. In Europe, these included:
These are just three examples from very different industries, but I’m sure there are many others in your own country. (If so, please share the example in the comments below.)
Clearly, the trend for more independence and freedom has been emphasised in all three organisations mentioned above. Perhaps they are working with the same trend or advertising agency? Or maybe they are buying the same external trends report. It certainly looks like it, doesn’t it?
Companies that develop concepts based upon this type of external resource alone can find themselves in a race to be the first to market when using the ideas these reports suggest.
Incidentally, it is not always best to be the first when introducing new concepts to consumers, especially when they require learning new ways of thinking or working.
So what can you do about it? The vital step that many – dare I say most – organisations don’t take, is to turn the trends they are following into plausible future scenarios.
Scenario planning ensures original thinking from which proprietary ideas are conceived, and takes the development of new concepts in-house, where it belongs.
Then, the new product and service concepts, the new advertising campaigns, and the new promotions that are designed are unlikely to be the same as those of the competition and will, therefore, have a greater chance of success.
You might have seen a recent post of mine on LinkedIn where I said how frustrated I am with marketers who start with a survey when they have a question, rather than ending with one.
If you too have this habit, then I want to share how you can do fewer surveys and yet still know much more about your customers.
Let me start by saying that I am not suggesting that companies don’t run market research. Rather, I am proposing that they don’t conduct a survey before having reviewed their current situation in detail. And in particular, the information that is already available inside the organisation.
In many companies, there is far more information available than people realise. Research shows that 68% of data is not used by businesses who invest in it — that’s over two-thirds of data – and budgets – wasted!
To make optimum use of your resources – time, money, and people – my suggestion is to first gather and analyse what is already available. In this way, any research that is conducted will be far more focused, and usually faster and cheaper too!
In my CATSIGHT™ process for actionable insight development, data gathering is the sixth of the seven steps! If you’d like to learn more about it, then do check out my online course on the topic. In under two hours, you will learn how to easily develop insights that can be immediately put into action.
One of my cornerstone posts here, which continues to receive hundreds of views every month is “Ten reasons NOT to conduct market research.” In summary, I advise leaders to avoid surveys:
If a company claims to be customer centric, they must not 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.
More than five years ago, 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.
[bctt tweet=”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” username=”Denysech”]
Customers these days expect a response in minutes or hours rather than days. Research shows that nearly 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 do 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 in line. Go to the website to … Click to continue reading
If you answered both, then I believe that you are making maximum use of your packaging or at least you recognise its potential for communicating.
If you answered only one of the choices, then you may be missing an important opportunity. Let me explain, with a few examples.
We all expect most things that we use or consume to be intuitive these days. In other words, we assume that we will understand how to build / cook / use them without reading the manual / instructions.
[bctt tweet=”We all expect most things that we use to be intuitive these days. We assume that we will understand how to build / cook / use them without reading the manual / instructions. How intuitive is your brand?” username=”Denysech”]
If you are like most people – myself included – this has nothing to do with the complexity of the product concerned. I myself will only turn to the instructions when something doesn’t work: I end up with left-over screws when mounting a flat-pack piece of furniture, or I can’t achieve multi-recordings on my smart TV or cable box.
In the article How Likely Are You to Read the Instructions they link behaviour to personality types. It makes an interesting read and offers at least some explanations as to why many (most?) of us still don’t read instructions.
Since the internet arrived, we have access to more and more information, and yet we seem to be reading less and less. Therefore as marketers, we need to ensure that any vital information we want to share, is clearly highlighted on the pack.
Whether it is the cream we put on our faces, the cereal we eat for breakfast, or the dip that we offer to friends on match night, there are moments when we are faced with packaging for more than a split second. It is at these times that we are likely to read at least some of what is written on the pack.
It therefore makes sense to provide more than just a list of ingredients. After all you have your customer’s attention, so make use of it to impress or educate.
Here are a few of the best examples I have come across:
Our customers’ attention is constantly pulled in all directions today, with thousands of messages pushed at them, from so many channels. Capturing their attention is more likely to be successful when they are open to learning about your product, that is to say when they are buying or actually using it. It therefore makes good business sense to use packaging more creatively; wouldn’t you agree?
I’d like … Click to continue reading
I think that’s why many businesses struggle to improve their customer centricity because they don’t know where to start. Am I right? If so, then this article is especially for you.
This week I want to share ten simple actions to accelerate your organisation’s improvement of customer centricity.
Let’s start at the very beginning – with the customer of course!
Do all your brands have a clear description of their target audience? These days we tend to refer to these as personas or avatars. Whatever you call yours, they should be precise, detailed and ideally visual as well.
If you haven’t yet developed your persona, or you know it is not as complete as it could be, why not use our new C3Centricity 4W™ Persona Template? Complete the who, what, where and why for each of your brands and finally understand who you are aiming to attract.
I suggest you also complete one for your company if it appears predominantly on your packaging or communications. I did this for a client and found that some of their brands were positioning themselves in opposition to their company image. As you can imagine, this was getting them nowhere and damaging both their brand and company image!
Include in your own persona template not only demographics and consumption/purchasing habits, but also information about where your customers do these things, what values they have that you can tap into, and what emotions motivate them to use your brand.
If your current persona doesn’t include all this information, it is probably time to update it – and why not with our 4W™ template?
Do you know the best way to contact your target customers and their preferred place and time to connect? You should after completing your updated persona template.
Review how you communicate with your customer and what information exchange there is at that time. Is it a one-way or two-way discussion? Are you in a monologue or a dialogue?
Obviously, the second communication style is what you should be aiming for. You can learn more about your customers when they are ready to share their information. And that comes when they trust you to keep their data safe and know that you only collect what you need to give them a superior experience. Make sure that’s what you are doing.
[bctt tweet=”Review how you communicate with your customer and what information exchange there is at that time. Are you in a monologue or a dialogue? Which would they prefer? #BrandBuilding #BrandCommunication” username=”Denysech”]
Do you know what needs your customer has and which of … Click to continue reading
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.
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.
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 … Click to continue reading
Customers don’t want to be automatically segmented and followed as they go about the web, viewing different sites. An article on Business2Community by Owen Ray says that:
“The tracking cookie is crumbling. Smart cookie-blocking technology led by Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) and Firefox’s Enhanced Tracking Protection (ETP) now block third-party cookies by default, and even Google’s Chrome will soon get controls that let consumers block cookies.”
If you want to understand more about the topic of cookies, I highly recommend this two-part article.
Companies that are truly customer centric know that it is important to build a mutually beneficial relationship where there is something for both parties in exchanging information and services. Many businesses ask far too much of their customers, with little if anything in return. I believe this is one of the major reasons customers today are becoming sensitive to what and to whom they give information about their interests, habits, needs and wishes. And why cookies are rapidly becoming a thing of the past.
I, therefore, thought it was useful to review the major points to keep in mind when a business wants to collect information about its customers in order to offer products and services that better meet their wants and desires.
This should be a no-brainer and yet I still find myself on lists to which I didn’t intentionally, if at all, subscribe! You too?
Whether you are connecting with your customers by mail, phone, email or the web, you must first request permission to ask any questions and gather the information you are looking for.
Not only should you ask for their consent if you are not in direct personal contact, but you should also double-check that permission when connecting via email or the web. You have to ensure that the agreement has been given by your customers and that they are still ready to provide the information.
Being attentive to privacy when starting to build a relationship is vital and shows that you respect your customers.
This also means asking them to confirm their consent not once, but twice. Double opt-in, as it is known, ensures that your customer is correctly identified and that they have indeed agreed to provide or receive information or to be put on your mailing list.
Far too often, I see requests where permission is encouraged by using colourful buttons to click, or an implied criticism if you don’t, with phrases such as “No, I have enough sales” or “No, I don’t want to save money”.
When your customer has agreed to provide information, you need to thank them immediately. This can be as simple as … Click to continue reading
Of course, in today’s data-rich environment I’m not really suggesting that you ignore it, rather the opposite! But in working with clients around the world and in numerous industries, I’ve found that many are lost by all the information that is available to them.
In fact it seems to drown out their reasoning of what to do and they remain frozen in indecision. Is this your case? If so, then just follow the steps I detail below and you will soon be doubling, quadrupling, if not 10x the ROI of your data!
Data is everywhere and most organisations are drowning in it! Technology is at the heart of this data explosion and is being blamed for disrupting businesses, but most have simply not adapted to this new information-rich world.
[bctt tweet=”Technology is at the heart of the data explosion and is being blamed for disrupting businesses, but most have simply not adapted to this new information-rich world. #BigData #DataAnalysis #Information” username=”Denysech”]
I admit, a lot has changed in recent years. Consumers are learning how to adapt their behaviours and now trade their personal information for extra benefits. In response companies are changing their business models as their value shifts from products to services, or in some cases, to the sale of the information they gather.
Some organisations are reinventing themselves to take advantage of these changes. Others are ignoring them – at their peril, since they risk becoming the next Kodak, Borders or Blockbusters. If you’re interested in reading more about the US Retail Apocalypse and the 23 big retailers closing stores then I highly recommend this post on Fox Business.
So what should you do, whether you are in manufacturing or retail? Well, I believe that you should start by renovating your business model to take advantage of the countless new opportunities that the wealth of data offers you. And in my opinion, you had better do it sooner rather than later, because your competition almost certainly will!
Yes you have data and information, but if you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that it’s not enough. You have to turn these into knowledge and understanding, and then into actionable insights. And this can only be done by asking the right questions of your data and information.
If you are struggling to take needed action despite a wealth of information, then this is certainly where you should start making changes – fast!
A 2015 Capgemini and EMC study called “Big & Fast Data: The rise of Insight-Driven Business” showed that:
So let me ask you this; how well do you really know your own target customers? Are they men, women, younger, older, Fortune 100 companies, local businesses? If you can at least answer that, then you have the basics, but how much more should you know about them?
Well I can help you there, with these 12 essential elements of a customer persona or avatar.
I was recently working with a local service provider that was looking to improve their online presence. They were keen to have more impact on social media and had asked for advice about the best platforms, optimal frequency of publishing and possible content ideas.
They are a new client for me, so I think they were a little surprised when I didn’t get straight into the “sexy” topic of social media. Instead, I started by taking them through the basics of target customer identification. Lucky for them that I did!
When we had finished the exercise, we had actually found five different targets for them to address, rather than just the two they had been addressing until now. This clearly would have an impact on both where, what and how they communicated online.
It is for this reason that I always recommend that every brand and business completes a target persona and regularly updates it every time they learn something new about their customers. I also encourage you to keep it handy, ideally always visible on or around your desk. That way you will always be thinking customer first whenever you are working on a new project.
So let’s imagine that we’re having our first meeting together and I’m asking a few (well 12 actually!) questions about your customers. How many can you immediately answer?
C3Centricity has designed a simple template that helps clients have all the essential information about their customers in one place, summarised on one page. It’s called the 4W™ Persona Template; if you haven’t already done so, you can download it, together with a detailed workbook explaining exactly how to complete it. Just click on the image below.
I would highly recommend you download it right now, before continuing to read, so that you can follow along with the one-pager in front of you.
Here are the 12 essential elements you need to have at hand in order to complete the template:
1. WHO – DEMOGRAPHICS: This is usually a “no-brainer” and is how most organisations describe their customers. However it’s not really original and definitely not competitive, although they are an essential foundation.
But there is so much more you should and absolutely must know about your customers, so read on.
2. WHAT THEY USE: Whether you are offering a product or providing a service, you … Click to continue reading
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.
Do all your brands have a clear description of their target audience? These days we tend to speak about personas or avatars.
Is 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.
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?)
[bctt tweet=”Review how you communicate with your customer and make sure its a dialogue not a monologue. #Brand #Communications #Marketing” username=”Denysech”]
Do 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 … Click to continue reading