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Why Technology Won’t Help You Understand Your Customers

Were you surprised to read the title of this post? Do you believe that using technology to understand customers is the only way today? Then let me explain why I believe it’s not quite that simple. 

In today’s data-rich environment I’m not really suggesting that you actually ignore data nor technology! However, in working with clients around the world as well as in numerous industries, I have found that many are lost by the wealth of information that is available to them.

In fact it seems to drown out their reasoning of what to do with all the data and they remain frozen in indecision. Or worse, they invest in the latest platforms and systems in the hope that using technology to understand customers will help them with their knowledge void. Is this your case? If so, then just follow the steps I detail below and you will soon be doubling, quadrupling, if not getting 10x the ROI from your data.

 

The Current Situation with Data

Data is everywhere and most organisations are drowning in it! Technology is being blamed for disrupting businesses, but in most cases these companies have simply not adapted to this new data-rich world.

If you're drowning in data, perhaps you have still not adapted to today's data-rich world. #BigData #Analysis #Customer #CustomerUnderstanding Click To Tweet

I admit, a lot has changed. Consumers are adapting their behaviours to the trading of their personal information. Companies are changing business models as their value shifts from products to services, or even 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 are at risk of becoming the next Kodak, Borders or Blockbusters. And of course the latest covid-19 epidemic will hasten many others to unfortunately follow suit in the coming months.

If you’re interested in reading an analysis of the US Retail Apocalypse and the 23 big retailers closing stores then I highly recommend this post on Fox Business from last year. No doubt it will need updating in 2021 when the fallout from the current pandemic becomes clearer.

So what should you do? Well, I believe that you should start by renovating your business model to take advantage of the countless new opportunities all the data and new technologies open up for you. And in my opinion, you had better do it sooner rather than later, because your competition will almost certainly be investigating ways to make use of it all!

 

The Opportunity

Yes you have data and information, but if you’re a regular reader of my blog, you will know that you have to turn these into knowledge to understand your customers. And then develop insights and actions. But this can only be done by asking the right questions of your data and information. The latest technology is not going to make up for your lack of thinking!

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

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

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

So what has happened in the past couple of years? Not a lot in terms of usage, but a lot in terms of data gathering; just check out the graph below from Kleiner Perkins for current and estimated growth of data volume. It is expected to more than triple over the coming five years.

 

 

Of course big data has been big news for years, thanks to its 5Vs (volume, velocity, variety, variability, value). These were the driving forces behind the need and finally the upgrades in computing power that made it possible to adopt a new and significantly faster way of analysing it all.

This article by Olivia Ryan sums up the “6 ways big data expansion can significantly damage our privacy.” These are the same major points that the GDPR hoped to address.

The EU’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), with its stricter rules that came into force last year, focuses on many of the data privacy issues that have people the most concerned. It is definitely worth checking out the details here if you have still not made the necessary changes within your own organisation.

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

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

 

An Alternative Approach

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

 

In Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

 

If you’re drowning in data and thirsting for actionable insights, then we should talk. Click the button below and I’ll give you some ideas on how to crack your own nut!

Get Answers

 

This post was first published in March 2018 and has been updated regularly to reflect the latest ideas, research and opinions.

 

 

7 Reasons for Failure When Adopting a Customer First Strategy

By now, every CEO knows that a stronger customer focus is the answer to many of their business challenges. Why therefore do so many companies still struggle to adopt a customer-first strategy and culture?

Read on for my own thoughts and perspectives on what should be a top company objective which results in proven business success. 

I provide answers to the seven main reasons why companies fail to adopt a customer first strategy; which one are you struggling with 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 but as a long-term company top 3 objective.

When this happens, every division is obliged to see how they will be impacted and what part they will play in meeting it. This is one area where the CEO can’t set it and forget it. He/she needs to be regularly informed of progress and then ask “awkward” questions to ensure that everyone is truly embracing it. Without company-wide support, it will never succeed.

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

In August of last year, 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 with the impact of covid-19, it will be interesting to see whether they will have all moved forward on these objectives one year later. For more details on this announcement I suggest you read the Forbes article.

 

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

 

 

How to Map Your Customer Journey & Overlay their Emotions

With the travel and leisure industries in turmoil at the moment, now is a good time for them to review how they treat their customers. And mapping their customers’ journey is an important step in understanding and satisfying them better.

Through the example of an experience I had with the Hilton Group, I share some important lessons about getting customer service right! These will be invaluable as countries start to open up in the coming weeks and months.

 

Background

Each year around Christmas time, my family get together for a weekend of fun somewhere in Britain. This year we met up in Bristol. As a Hilton Honors member for more than twenty years I offered to book rooms for all of us in the local Doubletree. I expected to get a better rate with my membership, and especially cheaper than those offered by the booking sites. After all, why pay a booking site when I know the hotel I want to stay in, right? Well, I booked five rooms for the weekend, as well as a table for ten in their restaurant for dinner on the Saturday evening.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Three Lessons Learned which Every Business Can Apply

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

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

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

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

C3Centricity offers several 1-Day Catalyst training sessions on the topic. We can also work with your team to review and revitalise your own customer journey map.

DOWNLOAD the Brochure

 

 

 

Five Brilliant Ideas to Boost your Insight Development

Insights are the pot of gold that many businesses dream of but rarely find. Why is that? Are you one of them? If so then I have some practical ideas on how you can get much, much better at insight development.

 

#1. Insights don’t come from a single market research study

Management often thinks that insight is “just another word for market research”. I remember one of my previous CEOs saying exactly that to me just before he addressed the whole market research and insight’s team at our annual conference. I am sure you can imagine what a panic I was in as he walked up to the mike!

Insights are a challenge to develop and are rarely, if ever, developed from a single piece of market research. Each market research project is designed to gather information in order to answer one or more questions. Whilst it may enable a business to make a more informed decision based upon the objectives, insight development is quite a different process.

Insight development involves integrating, analysing and synthesising all the data and information you have about a category or segment user. Then summarising it into knowledge and turning that knowledge into understanding. Only then are you ready to develop an insight.

All brands should have (at least) one insight on which its image, personality and communications are built. What is yours? #Brand #Marketing #Communications #BrandBuilding Click To Tweet

All brands should have (at least) one insight on which its image, personality and communications are built. For example

  • AXE (Lynx in UK): (young) men want to attract as many beautiful and sexy women as possible. This is one of their newer ads, where the seduction is a little less in your face and more subtle – but still there.

 

  • Haribo Starmix: There’s a child inside every adult. This “Kid’s Voices” campaign has been running for years and manages to surprise and delight with each new episode.

 

  • Dulux sample paint pots: I love to decorate my home, but I don’t want to look stupid by choosing the wrong colour. Although these are now a standard offer for many paint brands, Dulux were the first to understand the problem facing potential home decorators.

 

Dulux sample pot example of insight development

 

Insight development will provide the basis on which you will define the actions that are needed to change the behaviour of your target audience. It also provides a solid framework on which to build your communications’ strategy.

 

#2. Insight development is based upon a desired behavioural change

When your sales, marketing or management look to improve their business results, their real objective is to change the behaviour of your current or potential customers’ behaviour. For example:

  • From buying a competitive brand to purchasing yours.
  • From using your services once a month, to once a week.
  • Moving customers’ beliefs about your brand from a traditional or classic brand, to a more modern image.
  • Changing customers’ perceptions about the price of your brand from expensive to good value for money.

Because insights are based on a desired behavioural change, they usually contain an emotional element that is communicated through advertising. The emotion that is shown in your communications is more likely to resonate with customers if it does stimulate their emotions. They are then more likely to remember your brand and may be more motivated to take the desired action you have identified.

If you are looking to increase sales or improve your brand’s image or equity, look to connect emotionally with your (potential) customers. Identifying the behavioural change you need your customers to make is a foundational step of insight development.

Identifying the behavioural change you need your customers to make is a foundational step of insight development. #Brand #Marketing #BrandBuilding #Insight Click To Tweet

 

So there you have them, the five ideas that I came up with and numerous examples to help you to develop better insights more easily.

Although you probably already have your own process for creating them, I know from experience how hard it can be to find insights from all the information you gather.

I hope this short article has assisted you in your search for those “golden nuggets”. Do share your own ideas for making insight development easier, I would love to hear from you.

C³Centricity uses images from Pixabay.com.

 


Do you need help developing or updating your own Insight development process? C3Centricity offers several 1-Day Catalyst training sessions on the topic. We will work with your team to review and revitalise your own insight process, or will define a proprietary one that integrates into your other internal processes.

DOWNLOAD the Brochure

 

 

7 Ways to Deliver Awesome Customer Service

How can some companies get customer service so wrong?!

This week I have a longer post than usual, but one that will make you smile, if not laugh out loud.

It describes one recent personal example of disinterested client support, from which I have drawn seven learnings for everyone wanting to deliver awesome customer service.

I can’t understand why any organisation would still have trouble offering superior customer service when there are so many great examples they merely have to copy. (JetBlue, Sainsbury’s, Amazon, Zappos) In fact, Mark Earls wrote a great book on exactly this topic, called “ Copy, Copy, Copy” which is highly recommended.

My story this week is just one example of how some companies still struggle to accept that the customer is right, even when they’re wrong! Not that I was wrong in this case (at least I don’t think so, but I’ll let you be the judge of that).

However, they certainly gave me the impression that they believed I might have been trying to cheat them in the information I provided in my emails. They were never satisfied with what I sent, even when it was what THEY had specifically requested!

Perhaps they were just dragging out the process in the hope of not having to “pay up”. You can see for yourself below, or just jump to the seven learnings at the end of the post, so that you can avoid making the same mistakes yourself.

 

BACKGROUND:

Many years ago I bought a TomTom guidance system to help me navigate the streets of American cities. Although I love to drive  and feel just as much at home on a ten-lane LA highway as the two-lane Swiss autoroute system, I decided it was time to stop making so many impromptu visits to unplanned US destinations!

A few years on, I thought that it could also help me in Europe, even Switzerland, when trying to locate a new client or contact. (My car is almost fifteen years old  and isn’t equipped with a GPS!) I, therefore, added Europe to my online account, since my unit couldn’t keep both in memory at the same time!

Last May I replaced the European maps by my American ones as I was visiting Florida that month. When I tried to reinstall the European maps in September, they had somehow disappeared from my account. I contacted TomTom customer service to ask how I could get my maps back and this is how our conversation went over the pursuing three months – with their worst English mistakes removed or corrected for better comprehension, but their own font bolding left in. (!)

 

THE EXCHANGE WITH TOMTOM:

Me: Hi there, I contacted you in May about changing from European to US maps. I now want to change back and the maps are no longer on my account! Help please!!!”

TomTom“Dear Denyse, … As per your account details (…), I am sorry to inform you that, I could not see any map of Europe being active on the account in the past. Hence, I am unable to see any European map details. Hence, if the map had come pre-installed with the device, I request you to please provide me the picture of the box (front face of the box) so that I can activate it on your account. If you had purchased the map of Europe, then please provide me the scanned copy of the purchase receipt of the map so that I can activate it…” (We already exchanged a few months previously and anyway didn’t they READ my email?!)

Me: Here attached please find the invoice concerning my purchase.”

TomTom:Denyse, many apologies, but it seems the purchase invoice is not attached in the correct format since I am unable to open it. Hence, I request you to please send me the scanned copy of purchase receipt in PDF format so that I will be able to view it and help you accordingly.” (They can’t open an email with an image when they had originally asked for a picture of the box?! OK, well it’s true it wasn’t in pdf format!!!)

Me:Apologies for my delay in responding but I have been busy with trips – without my TomTom! As requested, I attach a PDF of the invoice.”

TomTom: Denyse, I would require the purchase receipt of the map of Europe that must have been provided to you after you purchased it. If you are unable to find the receipt of the map, please provide me the picture of the box (front face of the box) to check the device details.”

Me: Please find enclosed the invoice for the Europe maps that have disappeared from my account after replacing them with the US ones for a trip…”

TomTom: Denyse, we are unable to find the invoice of the map on the attached documents. I would request you to take a screen shot of the entire invoice or the part which has the order number and the date of purchase and the details of purchase.” (They can’t read the email that THEY sent to me when I made the purchase and now want a screen shot!)

MeThis is already what I attached to my previous email. Here it is again.”

TomTom: Denyse, the attachment that you are sending us is the screenshot of the email that you have received from TomTom. I would request you to send us the invoice which is sent as an attachment in PDF format with the email. Kindly download the invoice on your computer and while replying to this email, please attach the PDF file on your reply.” (Isn’t a screenshot what they asked for?!!)

Me: Is TomTom just trying to irritate a long-standing customer? I have replied to each email with the requested information  and each time you come back asking for a different format. You have the order number, the date, the item and the relevant item code of the maps I purchased directly from you online; what difference does the format of the document have? This is how the attachment appears on a Mac, which obviously you are not aware of, so I resend you the attachment as a pdf.”

This last exchange seemed to wake them up! Finally, they accepted that they had all the information they needed to confirm that I had indeed purchased the European maps, so they could once again reactivate them!

It took three months to get what I had requested, which could easily have been shortened to about three minutes if their customer services had had access to our previous email exchange – I am here assuming that they didn’t, because otherwise I would be extremely “disappointed”.

 

THE SEVEN LEARNINGS:

This is a great case study, as it shows numerous errors that so many organisations are still making in terms of customer care. These are the takeaways that you might want to consider in order to avoid similar long drawn-out – and resource-wasting – exchanges with your own customers.

 

So these are the seven learnings that I took away from this incident. Basic? Yes sure, but instead of just saying to yourself “I know this” ask yourself “Do we do this – always?”. It is surprising how many of the basic elements we forget to check as we advance in experience –  and years!

If you have other examples of frustratingly poor but easily resolved customer service mistakes, then please share them below. We all need a laugh from time to time, especially as more and more of us are in quarantine because of covid-19. And learnings from others are so useful in helping us avoid making the same mistakes ourselves.

 

Need help in upgrading your own customer services? Check out our website for inspiration and then contact me here: https://c3centricity.com/contact

 

Customer excellence roadmap in the book Winning customer centricityThis post includes concepts and images from Denyse’s book  Winning Customer Centricity. 

It is now available in Hardback, Paperback, EBook and AudioBook formats. You can buy a copy from our website, as well as on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBook, iTunes and in all good bookstores.

 

 

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Did you enjoy this post and all its tips, tools and ideas?

If so, then why not join like-minded marketers on our private Facebook page called Winning4Marketers? You can click the left button to find out more about it, or request to join by immediately clicking on the right-hand button.

You’ll be amongst fellow marketers who are there to support others as well as ask for help.

See you there.

Are You Still Using The Marketing 5Ps? Move To The Improved 7Qs.

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

Marketing is a great profession and the marketing 5Ps is the code by which we live. I’ve worked in or with marketing teams for almost my whole career and I am passionate about brand building.

From the outside, others see marketers as those who come to work late and seem to party all night. They always seem to be watching TV or jetting off to exotic places to talk about advertising!

For people working in operations or finance, marketers just don’t seem to be doing a very serious job; they’re always having too much fun! I’m sure you’ve already heard such comments.

Well, as you yourself know, marketing IS fun, but it’s also a lot of hard work, often close to 24/7 on some occasions.

So does all that hard work pay off? Not often enough in my opinion. And why? Because marketers simply don’t always ask the right questions!

 

The 5 Questions Marketers Should Ask

If you work in marketing, you already know the 5Ps – people, place, product, price and promotion. However, the problem with those is that when you find an issue with one of them, you know the “what” but not the “how”.

So I suggest you work with my 7Qs instead. Each of my seven questions explain not only what to check, but also the how and why you need to examine the area.

And if you can’t immediately answer more than just a couple of them, then perhaps you need to do a little more work and a little less partying!

 

Q1. Who are your customers?

People is the first of the marketing 5PsThe first “P” stands for people and often this is taken to be “Do you know to whom you are selling?” The answer is always yes and that’s accepted as sufficient.

Instead, ask yourself who your customers really are. I don’t mean just their demographics, but what, where and how they use or consume your brand and the category in which you are competing. And especially the why of their attitudes and behaviours. If you can’t give all these details about your customers, then you’re in serious trouble.

Knowing your customers takes more than demographics. It means understanding the what, where and how they use or consume your brand and the category in which you are competing. #brand #Marketing #Avatar #Persona Click To Tweet

For more on this topic, see  “12 things you need to know about your target customers” for details on better defining your customer persona. You will also find a link in the article to download a useful template you can use to store all your information as you gather it. 

 

Q2. How are your customers changing?

Hopefully, you answered Q1 without any hesitation – you did, didn’t you? Did you also download our template and complete it? Many of my clients find it a useful way to store and rapidly access the information whenever they need it.

It’s great that you know a lot about your customers, but people change. Are you following how your customers are changing? Are you keeping up with them and their new opinions, needs and desires?

Do you know the impact of the latest societal trends and new technologies on your customers’ behaviours? Do you know how these changes may alter your market in five, ten or even twenty years from now?

There are countless examples of brands that have disappeared because they didn’t keep up with the changing needs of their customers:

  • Kodak who didn’t understand the impact of digital photography.
  • Borders bookstores who didn’t get into eBooks.
  • Motorola, once the leader in smartphones, who didn’t embrace new communications technology.
  • Sony who resisted MP3 and lost the portable music player market that they had led for years.
  • Blockbuster who survived the transition from VHS to DVD, but failed to adapt to consumers’ demand for home delivery.

Don’t be another one on the list. The current coronavirus outbreak is clearly demonstrating that we can never be too prepared for the unthinkable, because it might just happen!

The easiest way to be ready for any future changes is to prepare for them, by developing future scenarios in advance.

How many possible future societal and customer changes have you already prepared for? If you would like help in this area, we and our partners offer both standard and ground-breaking new ways to develop scenarios using science-fiction writers. Contact us for more details. 

The easiest way to be ready for any future changes is to prepare for them, by developing plausible future scenarios. #Trends #Scenarios #ScenarioPlanning Click To Tweet

 

Q3. What does your brand stand for?

Brand extensions need to be complementary to the parent brand to support the promotional element of your marketing 5PsI don’t mean it’s marketing identity or slogan; I mean how your customers or your competitors’ customers would describe it?

Is it strong and consistent? Does it align precisely with its identity or the positioning you want today? Do you follow the developments in its image regularly?

Do you adapt your advertising and promotions to strengthen its desired image and eliminate negative changes before they impact your brand’s identity? Is it authenticated by your customers’ experiences with your brand? It should be a direct reflection of your brand’s (internal) identity and promise. 

Your brand's image should be a direct reflection of your brand’s (internal) identity and promise. How well do your advertising and promotions support and enhance the desired positioning? #Brand #Marketing #BrandImage Click To Tweet

You should be able to describe your brand in one or at most a couple of sentences, using the words and ideas you want it to stand for, like these:

  • Hero Group’s mission is “to delight consumers by conserving the goodness of nature.”
  • McDonalds offers “quick, convenient, family-oriented  and fun, casual dining.”
  • Bic disposable pens, lighters and razors offer “high-quality products at affordable prices, convenient to purchase and convenient to use.”
  • Dollar Shave Club: “Shave and grooming made simple.”

What you notice about all these examples is that they clearly define the benefit to the customer and what the brand is promising to provide.

There is a synergy between what the internal image of the brand is and what the customers would say about each. When that is achieved, you have a strong brand that your customers relate to and to which they are more likely to remain loyal.

How would you describe your brand in one short sentence? I’ll be happy to provide feedback in a short call if you’d like to share it. Just contact me to set up a time. 

 

Q4. How are sales and distribution?

I am not referring to just the totals, I mean the local specificities. The regional differences and anomalies. Do you know why they occur? Do these differences result from cultural differences, alternative traditions or usage, historical reasons or just distributor practices?

Even if you work in marketing and not sales, understanding your brand’s weekly, monthly and annual sales trends, means you will gain an increased understanding of your customers and their differences.

If you don’t know why your brand is doing better in some regions than others, then you’re probably missing opportunities for growth. Always play to your strengths and correct your weaknesses as soon as they are identified.

If you don’t know why your brand is doing better in some regions than others, then you’re probably missing opportunities for growth. #Brand #Marketing #Sales Click To Tweet

 

Q5. Do you know what your brand is worth?

I don’t mean how much it costs to manufacture and distribute. I mean how it is valued by the end user. How does your brand’s value compare to its current price? Incorrect pricing could mean that you are leaving money on the table!

If you are priced lower than your customers’ perceived value of it, you could be asking for more. If you are priced above the perceived value of your potential customers’, you are stopping many new customers from buying into your offer, as they may not think you’re worth it. This results in your having to offer frequent promotions and price-offs just to keep your sales stable.

If this is your situation, it is certainly time to get a true evaluation of your offer by your customers. I can help if you’re not sure how to do this.

Whether you are over or under-priced, you could be earning more and possibly selling more too. Don’t stay ignorant to your true customer value.

 

Q6. Are you using the right communication channels?

The marketing 5Ps include how to communicate consistently with customersMany marketing plans are still just a rehash of last year’s, especially when it comes to advertising and promotions.

With today’s huge array of media opportunities, both on and offline, it is important to choose the most appropriate ones for your customers.

If you answered Q1 completely, then you know which ones they are currently using most often. In particular, it is important to understand their social media behaviour, as this can vary widely by customer segment.

In addition, if you are also able to answer Q2 you will know how usage is likely to change in the future. This will give you ample time to adjust your plans and move seamlessly from offline to online when necessary.

Wasting money with outdated media plans, based on channels your customers no longer use, is still one of the biggest errors of marketing, even in this data-rich environment in which we live today. Make sure it’s not yours.

For a fun piece on the topic, check out “ 10 Signs Your CEO Has an Outdated View of Marketing‘ on Hubspot.

 

Q7. Is your messaging consistent and complementary?

Answering Q3 means that you know what you want to stand for and the image you want to portray. Image metrics will tell you which of them need to be boosted, depending upon any desired changes you need to make.

Do you want to attract new customers, support current customers, or develop your image in a certain direction? Appropriate analysis of your brand image data will give you all the information you need to adapt your messaging and strengthen the positioning you have chosen for it.

If you want to better understand how to develop brand image in relation to brand personalities and archetypes, then “What you need to know about Brand Image, Personality & Archetypes” is a great place to start.

And for more details on brand building in general, or brand image analysis in particular, check out the relevant sections in my book “Winning Customer Centricity: Putting Customers at the Heart of Your Business – One Day at a Time.

It’s been called “A must read for today’s and tomorrow’s marketeersby none other than Paul Pohlman, Unilever’s former CEO! Why not follow many major Fortune 500 CPG companies and get your own copy, or buy copies for your whole team?

 

So there you have them, the seven questions that I believe will bring you greater results than just using the traditional marketing 5Ps. What do you think?

Next time you review your brand’s performance, why not give the 7Qs a try? They will provide you with a clearer picture of your brand’s current and future development opportunities, and more importantly, will identify the actions you need to take to progress its growth. Then leave a comment below on how useful you found this new way of looking at your brand.

 

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Is it time to review your own 5Ps?

Let C3Centricity support you with a fast-acting catalyst session or even better, a  1-Day training for your whole team.

Find out more and download the Training Summaries HERE.

 

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Did you enjoy this post and all its tips, tools and ideas?

If so, then why not join like-minded marketers on our private Facebook page called Winning4Marketers? You can click the left button to find out more about it, or request to join by immediately clicking on the right-hand button.

You’ll be amongst fellow marketers who are there to support others as well as ask for help.

See you there.

Getting to Yes: A 7-step Roadmap to Successful Project Management

I’ve been involved in hundreds of successful project management initiatives over my career. I’ve been the leader, sponsor or team member, which means that each time I had different responsibilities.

What they all had in common was the desire to get the project approved quickly and easily, with the right resources of people, time and money.

There are many reasons why projects fail and I’ve experienced many of them over my career! The one project that stands out in my memory is unfortunately not my best, but one that demonstrates everything that can go wrong! It happened just after I got a new boss. That in itself is not always easy, but our working relationship was made more difficult when he gave me his pet project to run.


Another piece of research, this time from Workamajig, shows that more than a third of IT projects fail due to changes in objectives or inaccurate gathering of requirements. More than a quarter fail because of an inadequate vision, or risk assessment, poor communications, budget estimates or other lack of resources. All of these should be covered in the primary planning phase of a project, which clearly shows poor change management.

Source: workamajig

 

There are many reasons why projects fail; I like to summarise them as the 3Ps:

PLANNING

Planning, or to be more precise, a lack thereof. We all know the infamous quote

“Failing to plan is planning to fail”

And yet we continue to jump into action before really knowing what our actions should involve. Time spent planning is time well spent.

Think about playing chess. Beginners contemplate on their next move, but champions think about their next three to five moves. The same should apply to project planning. Considering what might go wrong before it happens, means we are prepared for alternative actions and thus our project is not delayed while we search for a solution.

Another problem with planning is accepting shorter, usually unrealistic deadlines. Sometimes we are asked to add other elements to the project and when these requests come from senior management, we feel compelled to accept.

But there is a better way. Accept the new deadlines only with increased resources. If timing is cut, then we need extra people and budget in most cases to complete the project. Ask for them before agreeing to shorter deadlines. As another infamous quote says

“Under promise and over deliver”

A third challenge in planning follows on directly from unrealistic deadlines and it is scope creep. As with the previous example, we again should ask for increased resources. An even better solution is to note the additional requests and then suggest that they form a separate project or are addressed once the first project is completed.

 

PEOPLE

The second P of project failure is people. People are the cause of many management challenges not just in project teams! But issues do seem to be more critical in keeping a project advancing as planned when there are issues.

I believe that project teams are usually made up of people chosen by the project leader and are often used for various projects with different objectives. A better way to form a project team is to choose members based on the needed skills. This clearly means that teams will be different for each project.

Choose project team members based on skills not relationships. #ProjectManagement #Planning #Skills Click To Tweet

The next challenge is to get everyone to work together. The leader must clearly valorise each member so that everyone knows the expertise of each and why they are there. Problems can sometimes arise when more than one member has the same skill set and disputes arise. While disagreements are not necessarily a bad thing, it does help if there is one person who is the lead expert on each topic. This way they can have the final say on an issue, as otherwise it falls to the leader to decide, which makes the team feel less valued.

The third challenge with people is communicating effectively. Not only does the team need to exchange ideas and work well together, they must also communicate with those outside the team, including the many stakeholders. This can become a delicate issue at the best of times, but becomes critical when the project is not going well.

Communications can be particularly challenging with a virtual team. Members often don’t know what others are doing, so there is a lot of waste in both expertise and experience.

Monthly meetings for local members plus regular calls with remote members, grouped by time Zones, is a minimum. These connections are particularly valued by smaller, emerging markets, which most people in larger organisations ignore and never consult.

 

PROCESS

The first process problem is isolation. Working in isolation, whether for the team leader or the team as a whole, will usually result in wasted effort. This is particularly true for multi-departmental or multi-country projects.

The second area involves data gathering. Often the information you get is in different formats when coming from different sources. You may also find similar information coming from multiple sources and you have to make the difficult decision as to which is the most reliable.

We all gather information that fits our precise needs, which can explain some of the differences. Again a review and comparison will usually highlight the best data for your project’s objectives.

When I first started consulting almost a decade ago, a leading CPG company asked me to help their marketing team get board approval to create a global consumer database. This was ten years ago, so they were certainly ahead of most businesses at that time.

Their thinking was dominated by their project. Mine wasn’t. In conducting an audit of current internal processes and gathering global suggestions, I discovered three other projects already in progress that would impact or be impacted by our project.

In addition, one was actually reworking all the company’s product definitions and SKU names & groupings. We could have done our project in isolation and repeated the same exercise!

Integration of the two projects made ours better and more important. It also freed resources for one part of our project, which made it easier for the board to give their approval.

The third aspect to help prevent process failures is to ensure learnings are recorded. These are invaluable, not only for the current, but even more important for future projects.

In my opening example, we could have avoided the disaster if the supplier had recorded the error they had made the previous year. They didn’t. And my boss didn’t warn me and my team, so we were not looking out for it.

 

The 7-Step Roadmap

Here is the recommended project process to use. Note that it is a circle not a line, as learnings will be fed into future projects, as already mentioned. Projects also should never be treated in isolation.

7-step project process

 

#1 PLAN

One of the most well known quotes about planning is this one:

Failing to plan is planning to fail

We all know we should plan first, but we are also all very keen, especially at the beginning of a project, to start getting into the actions.

One of the most useful suggestions about starting a project comes from none other than Albert Einstein. He is quoted as having said that if he had one hour to save the world he would spend

Fifty-five minutes defining the problem and only five minutes finding the solution

Now I’m not suggesting that we spend almost all our allotted time on defining the objectives, but I know we could all benefit from spending more time doing so. How long do you spend before jumping to action?

 

#2. STAKEHOLDER ANALYSIS

We usually need an executive sponsor for our projects, but that doesn’t mean that other managers should not be informed about the project. Their opinions can help define the project early on and they are more likely to support you when involved. Their input may even improve the quality of the project and help you to acquire more resources.

Building support early and often, can ensure that any risks are anticipated and planned for. Understanding your stakeholders also means you are more likely to  predict their reactions as the project develops.

Not all stakeholders are of equal importance. You therefore need to identify which ones are the most important for your project and plan your communications accordingly.

The simple matrix analysis below is an effective way of identifying whom to inform, how often and with what information.

Stakeholder prioritisation for successful project managementThe position that you allocate to a stakeholder on the grid shows you the actions you need to take with them:

High power, high interest: fully engage them and make your greatest efforts to satisfy them.

High power, less interest: keep them satisfied, but not so much that you overwhelm them with information so that they become bored with your messages.

Low power, high interest: adequately inform them. As they are interested, talk to them to ensure that there are no major issues arising. They can also be very helpful with finding and sharing information about your project with other departments.

Low power, less interest: monitor but don’t irritate them with excessive communication.

Who would you put in the top right-hand corner for your own projects? Do they vary by project? Of course they do, so always run an analysis for each new project you run.

One analysis I ran for a project I led, helped me to identify the best sponsor for it. I found that one regional president was new in the position and was keen to make his mark. It was therefore easy for me to convince him to support my project and he in turn found a market to beta test the system before rolling it out worldwide. Talk about a win-win!

 

#3 & 4 GETTING THE RIGHT TEAM & PARTNERS

I have put these two steps together as there are a number of similarities. It’s about getting the right people to support you with your project.

Internally, you need to hire for skills. Many project teams don’t work because the leader chooses team members based upon their relationships with them. While this may make for a fun project, it may not lead to success. There may be an overlap of skills, or some may be lacking. Therefore always choose skills first and people second.

For external partners, you can be tempted by a similar bias. Therefore you go for the big consultancies that your board knows. Some executives may even oblige you to work with certain agencies, as was the case in my example at the beginning.

While big consultancies may impress by their professional pitch given by one of their partners, it is unlikely that that particular expert will have anything more than a cursory involvement in your project. So don’t be impressed by their slick presentation, alone.

Sometimes (often)  it makes more sense to hire a smaller, boutique agency that has the precise skills you need. You are more likely to get the involvement of the people you meet during the pitch, and small usually also means agile, creative, and a more personalised service. Keep that in mind.

See what I can do for youLet's discuss your challenge

 

#5 IDENTIFY REASONS FOR PAST FAILURE

As a part of your pre-project planning, I suggest you find the last 5-10 projects that failed in your organisation, ideally in your own department. Then find out why they failed and match those reasons to your project, both similarities and differences.

For each, identify what you will do differently to achieve a successful project management. You can also check on social media for comments and questions that are relevant, especially in Facebook groups and on Quora.

 

#6 UNCOVER & INTEGRATE PROJECTS

Undoubtedly, there are other projects planned or running at the same time as yours, in your organisation. You therefore need to find them and see whether integration makes sense.

As in the example mentioned earlier, if there is a need in your company, someone is probably working on a solution or about to start. Take advantage of working together and pool resources as needed. Another easy win-win.

 

#7 GATHER LEARNINGS

You should record learnings the whole way through the project, from start to finish. So many teams sit down at the end of a project and try to remember what went well and what went badly. If you do this you will miss so much!

At the end of the project, gather all the learnings that have been recorded and have the team discuss and note the most useful of them and why. That way the risks and opportunities will be more quickly identified and can be easily input into the next project you run.

 

Conclusions

The title of this article refers to getting approval for your project. If you follow this roadmap, not only will you succeed in your project management, but you will also be seen to do so as well. It will make future projects all that much easier to get approved and you might even get yourself a promotion in recognition of your great management and organisational skills!

This 7-step process is a virtuous circle and it starts and ends with planning. My suggestion is therefore to plan, plan, plan – and then plan some more!

If you would like some help in running your own projects or in better understanding this process, I'm here to help.

 

See what I can do for youLet's discuss your challenge

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

MORE IS RARELY BETTER!

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

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

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

They usually present just one or two brands for each item they stock and the branded products they do stock are almost always at the same price if not even higher than in normal supermarkets.

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

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

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

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

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

THE SECRETS

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

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

 

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

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

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

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


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

Let us help; contact us here.


C3Centricity used images from the book “Winning Customer Centricity” in this post.

 

The Future of Brand Building is Customer Centricity

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

Many organisations realised that it was time for a major overhaul of their primarily outbound strategies. Consumers no longer appreciated being interrupted in their daily lives, if they ever did!

However, even today, with the creation of inbound marketing strategies, they are still irritating their customers with spammy emails, intrusive pop-ups and over-complicated cookies, that gather far more information than most organisations will ever need or use.

Despite these changes CMOs remain one of the leading c-suite members who struggle to keep their jobs for more than four or five years. The reasons are many, but the post “Head of Marketing, How Can You Keep Your Job When Most CMOs Are Losing Theirs?” explains what you can do to ensure you only leave your position when you want to.

 

Brand Building

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

Luckily a few other consumer goods companies realised that to satisfy the consumer they had to do things differently. They were the ones that moved to customer centricity. Or to be exact they started on their journey towards putting the customer at the heart of their business. Customer centricity is not a destination, because consumers are constantly changing and their satisfaction never lasts for long. It is a journey with the aim to satisfy and delight.

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

I think we have taught our customers far too well! They understand a lot more about “marketing” than they used to. They understand that companies have marketing plans and regular promotions, so they wait for the next price offs whenever they can.

They also realise that in today’s world, products have become more and more similar. Their format, colour or perfume may differ, but there are strong similarities in their performance.

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

 

Switching economy harming loyalty and brand building
Source: Accenture

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

 

These are your seven starter tasks for moving from marketing and brand building, to a more customer centric approach. They all have your customer at the heart of them. Any others you'd like to add? I know you can come up with many more ideas than I can alone, so why not share them below and let your knowledge shine?

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

If you're interested in upskilling your team, then we can provide fun training on many areas of customer centricity. Download our training brochure and then contact us so we can discuss your precise needs. All our courses are personalised to meet your specific requirements; no off-the-shelf trainings are ever given.

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How the Best Marketers are Getting More Actionable Insights

Are you as busy as I am, as we plan on how we’re going to deliver on all our objectives before year-end?

The last quarter of any year is a stressful time indeed, but this post on actionable insights is a must-read if you want to start 2020 ahead of the competition!

I’ve just returned from running a two-day workshop in Japan. The topic was “Insight into Action with Impact”. One of the things that I loved about the workshop was that marketing was invited too. Even though market research and insight (MRI) groups generally report into marketing in most companies, it seems to me that they are often working on different planets! In many organisations, the collaboration between these two departments goes no further than project briefings and results delivery.

This is not the case with my client in Tokyo; this MRI group has a wonderful working relationship, not only with marketing but also with Channel, Sales, R&D, Finance and even Legal. They have understood that insight development is too important to be left to the market research team alone and have worked hard to build strong relationships with all the other departments in their organisation.

Insight development is too important to be left to the market research team alone. #MRX #Marketing #Insight Click To Tweet

I am sure that many of you reading this, are asking why this is so important. It is NOT important, it is VITAL! Insights are the golden nuggets that we are all searching for. Successful companies depend upon deep customer insights to grow their business. They understand the power of engagement built on insight, to connect with and inspire their customers. And yet many companies continue to leave this to the insight team to develop and deliver on their own. It’s as if they believe that this group have some natural-born skill or magic that enables them to do it while others cannot. Don’t worry, we can all do it with the right training and a few tools.

Insights are the golden nuggets that we are all searching for. #MRX #Marketing #Insights Click To Tweet

Great companies understand the importance of insight generation and the challenges faced by everyone in developing them. This is why the best marketers search for greater collaboration. I always encourage the market researchers in my client companies to socialise with other departments, rather than sitting behind their computers all day. The best marketers already do this, do you?

I was encouraged to see that marketing have finally understood the importance of insights. In some recent research by Gartner CMOs selected market research and insights as just as important as marketing analytics and digital commerce (see graph below).

Better late than never I suppose, but it always amazes me that marketing could put anything ahead of insights. After all, every action they decide to take should be based upon deep knowledge and understanding of the customers targeted.

 

actionable insights supporting marketing strategy

 

If you are struggling to develop insights that will truly resonate with your consumers or customers, then I suggest you follow these eight tips that I shared with my client’s marketing and insight teams last month.

 

 

 

8. Insight development should involve more than the insight team, which is why it is important for them to always be building their relationships with other departments. The alternative perspectives brought by the other groups will enhance the overall understanding of both the customer and the market situation you are looking to address.

 

So these are the eight tips I shared with my Japanese client during our workshop. Are you doing all of them, or have they given you some ideas on how to improve your own process? I do hope so.

 

If you work in marketing or even another department outside of market research and insight,  I would love to hear what you do to develop your relationships with MRI. Do they involve you in insight development or do they only deliver the results of their process to you? What could you and they do better to make insight development and customer understanding easier in your organisation? Add a comment with your suggestions below.

 

For more information on our training courses in insight development and brand building, please check out our website or contact us here.

Let's have an informal chat about how we could support your brand building efforts and provide fun, actionable training to your team's agenda. They can be delivered both online and in person.

 

 

Winning Customer Centricity

 

 

This post includes concepts and images from Denyse's book Winning Customer Centricity. It is available in Hardback, Paperback, EBook and AudioBook formats. You can buy it, usually at a discount, on our website HERE. Of course, the book is also available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBook and in all good bookstores.

 

 

 

 

Today’s Toughest Marketing Challenge is Not Customer Satisfaction!

We all know how extremely demanding consumers have become in recent years. The offers of constant innovation and novelty have made us all more impatient and critical.

Today we want things better, faster and sometimes cheaper as well. And customer satisfaction is becoming insufficient to drive growth alone. Companies need to deliver more, a lot more!

I was recently in the US and as seems to be the norm these days, the hotel in which I stayed asked me to rate their performance afterwards. I completed their form, giving only four and five-star ratings, as I had been very satisfied with my stay, the hotel rooms, the staff and their services. Imagine my surprise therefore when I got the following email a day or so after submitting my review:

“Thank you for taking the time to complete our online survey regarding your recent stay at our hotel.

On behalf of our entire team, I would like to apologize for failing to exceed your expectations. Your satisfaction is important to us and we will be using the feedback you provided to make improvements to ensure we offer an exceptional experience for our guests in the future.

I hope that you will consider staying with us again so that we can have another chance to provide you with a superior experience.”

Shocking mail isn’t it? To think that a Hotel apologises for not exceeding my expectations! But I believe that is exactly why they get a 4 1/2 star rating on TripAdvisor. For them customer satisfaction is not enough; they want their guests to be enchanted, enthralled, excited, so that a return visit is a “no brainer”; no other hotel choice would make sense!

Shocking to think that a Hotel would apologise for not exceeding my expectations! #hotel #travel #leisure #CustomerSatisfaction Click To Tweet

How do you treat your own customers, consumers and clients? Do you do just enough to satisfy them, or do you consistently look to exceed their expectations?

If you are a regular reader here – and I’d love to know why if you’re not, so I can do better in the future – you will know that I often talk about “surprising” and “delighting” our customers. These are not hollow words; there’s a very real reason why I use them. The reason is that our customers may be satisfied, but they will never stay satisfied for long.

Our customers may be satisfied, but they will never stay satisfied for long. #CRM #CEX #CustomerSatisfaction Click To Tweet

The above personal example I give is one way that the hotel staff ensure they have enough time to correct whatever is not a “superior experience” as they term their own desired service level, and to continue to offer total customer satisfaction.

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Here are a few examples of other companies who go above and beyond in terms of their own customer service. I hope they inspire you to do the same and to aspire to exceed customer satisfaction whenever and wherever you can.


Coming back to the title of this post, I hope you now agree that satisfaction is no longer sufficient to attract and keep your customers. It is time to step up your game, to aim for surprise and delight. This should be an ongoing objective too, since customers can quickly increase their demands as what once excited them becomes the norm. 

I am sure you have many examples of companies that were not satisfied until they had gone above and beyond what you as their customer expected of them. In a previous post I mentioned Dyson; what others would you add to the list?

Which companies excel at not only satisfying their customers, but surprising and delighting them too? #CEX #CRM #CustomerSatisfaction #CustomerDelight #CustomerCentricity Click To Tweet

Please share your suggestions below. Of course, you can also share your horror stories, as they provide useful information - and often amusing anecdotes too! Thanks. 

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How to Measure Customer Centricity the Right Way

As a customer first strategist (hopefully just like you), I spend a lot of my time searching how to better measure customer centricity for my clients. I also do a lot of analyses on what customers really want today. I’m always trying to understand exactly the solutions customers need, desire and dream of having.

My regular searches include customer service, customer satisfaction, customer care and similar topic areas. Google is my best friend! However, I recently came across some surprising facts, which prompted this post. I believe they show a serious problem in the business of looking after our customers today. Read the article and then let me know whether or not you agree with my analysis.

 

CUSTOMER CENTRICITY

Wikipedia, another online friend of mine, doesn’t have a definition of customer centricity! If you look up the term, you get redirected to customer satisfaction!  Try it for yourself and see.

My other go-to source for definitions is  businessdictionary.com which defines customer centric as:

“Creating a positive consumer experience at the point of sale and post-sale.”

It then goes on to say

“A customer-centric approach can add value to a company by enabling it to differentiate itself from competitors who do not offer the same experience.”

Now although I find the definition limited, since it refers only to sales and post-sale activities, I do like the fact that it mentions three important elements of customer centricity:

  • a positive customer experience
  • adds value to a company
  • enables differentiation

 

This clearly identifies three huge benefits of becoming (more) customer centric:

  1. A positive customer experience has been shown to increase both loyalty and advocacy. (>>Tweet this<<) As we all know, it costs five times more to acquire a new customer, as it does to keep a current one. Therefore loyalty is an incredibly valuable benefit for a brand.
  2. Adding value to a company also increases the ROI of its marketing investments. This is something that marketing is challenged to prove today, with the risk of seeing their budgets cut. Luckily, what’s good for the customer is good for business. You can see many more facts and statistics about this in Forrester’s report “The Business Impact of Customer Experience.”
  3. The third benefit is just as important to the growth of a business. Enabling differentiation in this complex world is invaluable in standing out from the competition. (>>Tweet this<<) In so many industries product performance and services are almost identical, so how can you stand out? By your customer care, that’s how and knowing what your customers really want . It has been shown that customers are willing to pay more for excellent customer service. You can read a summary of this and more in the summary report of the American Express research.

 

I would also add that what customers really want today is a seamless experience from pre- to post- purchase, as well as from on to offline. That’s how you deliver satisfaction and build loyalty.

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THE IMPORTANCE OF CUSTOMER SATISFACTION AND UNDERSTANDING

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

  1. It is now proven that it is important for the business, so what is stopping companies from quickly adopting a more customer centric approach? The longer they wait, the more they risk being beaten by a more customer friendly competitor. It’s no longer (just) about product performance.
  2. Customers are complaining – a lot – about the way they are being treated. Why are companies not accepting these criticisms as the gifts they are? Acting promptly before the issue becomes a social media viral discussion is essential today.
  3. Customer service is confused with customer satisfaction. Companies are happy when their customers say they are satisfied, but they should be looking not just to satisfy them but to delight them too!

 

As mentioned before, 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. I found that both customer service and customer care showed almost identical positive trends.

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 in the past year or so? Please share your success stories below. 

 

You can no longer wait! You’re getting left behind by your competitors who are taking action today! If you need help in catalysing your organisation in customer centricity and aligning your business to what your customers really want, C3Centricity provides 1-Day training on many relevant topics.

See more and download the summary brochures HERE.

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