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How to Fast-Start your Customer Centric Journey and Accelerate Ahead of Competition

Many of my clients tell me that they underst and they should be paying more attention to their customers, but admit that they just don’t know where to start when it comes to becoming more customer centric.

I can empathise with them; the task may seem overwhelming at first. After all, it is not something that can be corrected by just starting a new project or taking a single action. It dem ands consistent effort over the longterm, to make an organisation truly customer centric. Here are a few of the ideas I give them at the start of their journey, taken from my latest book Winning Customer Centricity, now available in Hardback, Paperback and eBook formats on Amazon, andnoble.com/w/winning-customer-centricity-denyse-drummond-dunn/1121802409?ean=9782970099802″ target=”_blank”>Barnes and andnoble.com/w/winning-customer-centricity-denyse-drummond-dunn/1121802409?ean=9782970099802″ target=”_blank”> Noble,  iBook and in all good bookstores.

As I am often quoted as saying:

“Customer Centricity is a Journey and not a Destination(>>and%20not%20a%20Destination%22%20%20[tweetlink]%20%23CRX%20%23Quote” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow”>Tweet this<<)

So where do you start?

The first action to take when turning around a product or service-based company is to start by thinking about how your organisation is currently working. What is its structure and what processes are used to develop your offers? It is only by underst anding how your company functions, that you can identify the priority changes that need to be made. Therefore these are the first five things I suggest to do when starting on your own journey to improved customer centricity:

1. Identify a C-suite sponsor

Customers on the board with c-suiteEvery project needs a sponsor, but when it involves a major culture change, it must be sponsored at the very top, ideally by the CEO. (>>Tweet this<<) If this is not possible, the most customer – savvy executive should be the sponsor, whether that is the CMO or the SVP of marketing services or customer insight.

The initiative must be recognised as a priority company objective by everyone in the organisation, so the higher the level of the project sponsor is, the better it will be.

2. Make every employee aware of the priority initiative

Once you have a senior sponsor, the next step is to make everyone aware of the initiative. It always amazes me how many departmental projects go unnoticed by other groups within the same organisation. (>>Tweet this<<) In my consulting practice, I often uncover overlapping projects when I am invited to work with a client on a project. Perhaps this is because I work across departments and therefore don’t suffer from the silo effect impacting most employees. I also have the privilege of being able to ask “silly questions” which of course are never redundant.

In order to make all employees aware of the project, it must be mentioned at every opportunity. This means signing your emails with a suitable quote such as:

“We don’t pay your salaries, our customers do, every time they buy our product” (>>Tweet this<<)

or

“There may be customers without br ands, but there are no br ands without customers” (>>ands%2C%20but%20there%20are%20no%20br ands%20without%20customers%22%20%20[tweetlink]%20%23Customers%20%23Br ands” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow”>Tweet this<<)

You can also mention it in newsletters, on bulletin boards, or through internal memos, with clear explanations as to why it is important and how everyone is expected to participate. This alone will make the project st and out from the tens if not hundreds of other projects in your organization, which are most likely driven by a single department or group.

3. Identify your categories

Identify the category you are in This may seem strange to be asked to evaluate the categories in which you are active, but I am always surprised how many companies identify the category from a manufacturers perspective and not that of their customer. (>>Tweet this<<) For example a carbonated fruit juice could be seen by customers as being a part of carbonated soft drinks, of fruit juices, or in a completely new category of its own. It all depends on how they consume it.

Another example might be a dried soup mix, which customers may use to make soup, but also to make a sauce, to add taste to a casserole or dip, or to enhance the flavour of a dish made from scratch with fresh ingredients. In each case, the soup mix would be competing with products in those different categories, such as sauce mixes, flavour enhancers, and not just other (dried) soups.

4. Identify the category users

As you can imagine, if your product is being categorised in different product segments by consumers, then the users themselves will most likely differ. Taking the above example of dried soups, the category user might be:

  • Young singles – using the product to make a quick and easy soup
  • Mothers of teenage children – to make their sauces more flavourful
  • Couples – to add to their scratch cooking recipes

In each case the group of consumers have differing needs and therefore different segment descriptions. This is why underst anding the category in which you are active and the customers of the sub-group that you are appealing to, is a vital first step to underst anding your customers. (>>anding%20the%20category%20%26%20customers%20of%20the%20sub-group%20you%20are%20appealing%20to%2C%20is%20a%20vital%20first%20step%20[tweetlink]%20%23Customer%20%23Underst anding” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow”>Tweet this<<)

5. Choose your category segment

Choose your customer segmentAgain taking dried soups as our example, the description of your users will be very different depending upon how they use the product. The simple demographic breaks mentioned above would be insufficient to be able to get to know them well. The more descriptions you can add to these basic demographics, the more likely you are to underst and and therefore delight your customers. (>>and%20your%20customers.%20[tweetlink]%20%23Customer%20%23Personas%20″ target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow”>Tweet this<<)

In C³Centricity we use the 4W™ Template to identify and store everything we know about category users. For more information on this useful template, see the post and-underst and-your-customers/” target=”_blank”>How well do you know your customers? or the Video series on YouTube. You can also download the free template in the Members area.

These are the first five actions to take when starting out on your own journey to increased customer centricity. Getting the whole company and every employee in it, behind such an initiative, is the only way to make it happen. As Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos is often quoted as saying:

“We believe that customer service shouldn’t be just a department; it should be the entire company”

Your customer centric journey starts with these first steps, and then it’s just a matter of knowing intimately the people you are hoping to satisfy and delight, and ideally surprise too. Have you already started your journey to Customer Centricity? If so, what has been your biggest challenge to date,  and if you solved the issue, how did you do it? Others who are just starting on their journey would love to hear from you.

Winning Customer Centricity BookThis post has been inspired by the first chapters of Winning Customer Centricity and includes images from the same book. You can buy it in Hardback, Paperback or EBook format in the members area, where you will usually find a discount code. It is also available on Amazon, andnoble.com/w/winning-customer-centricity-denyse-drummond-dunn/1121802409?ean=9782970099802″ target=”_blank”>Barnes and Noble, iBook and all good bookstores. If you prefer an Audiobook version, or even integrated with Kindle with Amazon’s new Whispersync service, you’ll have to be patient a little longer.

The Revolutionary Marketing Challenge is Not Customer Satisfaction

We all know how extremely demanding consumers have become. Constant innovation and novelty has made us all more impatient and critical. We want things better, faster and sometimes cheaper as well. And customer satisfaction is becoming insufficient to drive growth alone. Marketing must deliver 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 by the hotel, its rooms, the staff and their services. Imagine my surprise therefore when I got the following mail a day or so later:

“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 the reason 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 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 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 gave 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.

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.

Amazon

Amazon's amazing customer satisfaction logoI have to start with Amazon because they clearly mention in their mission statement that they want “to be the Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”

Although they don’t specifically mention exceeding their customers’ expectations, they are known for regularly giving extra in their customer service. This might be by surprising their customers by sending the ordered goods by priority mail when only standard was paid for, or refunding the total cost of an article that failed to totally meet if not exceed expectations.

They are also known for being extremely helpful in proposing other articles you might be interested in buying, based upon your current or past orders. Yes it might also make good business sense to do this, but as a result of this practice, who doesn’t trust Amazon and start their search online on their website? Customer service to Amazon means going beyond customer satisfaction alone.

Zappos

Zappos powered customer satisfaction through service
Image source: Zappos.com

Their mission statement, also referred to by Zappos employees as their “WOW Philosophy,” is “To provide the best customer service possible.”

CEO Tony Hsieh is often quoted as saying that “We believe that customer service shouldn’t be just a department; it should be the entire company.” That makes it crystal clear how customer centric they are.

Another of his quotes is “To WOW, you must differentiate yourself, which means do something a little unconventional and innovative. You must do something that’s above and beyond what’s expected. And whatever you do must have an emotional impact on the receiver.” 

This mentions another of the reasons it is important to go beyond what customer’s expect today – the emotional connection. That is what touches our customers and makes them feel differently about our brand, company or service. Customer satisfaction is not enough, we need to stimulate their emotions too. 

Customer satisfaction is not enough, we need to stimulate their emotions too. #CEX #CRM #CustomerSatisfaction Click To Tweet

Apple

Apple-logoSteve Jobs is famously quoted as saying that “It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

It was therefore his philosophy to do limited market research and never to ask the advice of consumers on his innovations. What he did ask questions about however, was their pain points.

In a video way back in 2014 Tim Cook talked about being “better.” While Cook mentions the environment, the bigger picture in what he was saying was that he wanted Apple to produce world-changing products that leave the planet better off. This can be in a literal sense like pollution, but also in a more figurative sense, like the iPhone, which has made millions of lives better.

Over the past four years, we have seen clear evidence of Cook’s vision coming true. In an interview for Fast Company earlier this year, he was asked what makes a good year for Apple. His reply?

“For me, it’s about products and people. Did we make the best product, and did we enrich people’s lives? If you’re doing both of those things–and obviously those things are incredibly connected because one leads to the other—then you have a good year.”

How many orgaisations would look different if we used these same criteria!

Did you make the best product, and did you enrich people’s lives? If you’re doing both of these, then you are having a good year. @TimCook #CEX #CRM #CustomerSatisfaction Click To Tweet

In conclusion, these examples provide a clear roadmap for anyone wanting to move their customer service and engagement to the next level, by offering more than mere customer satisfaction:

  • Surprise your customers with something unexpected. Whilst I know it is more difficult than ever to do these days with such demanding customers, it is definitely worth the effort to build their loyalty.
  • Touch the customer emotionally so your product or service resonates with them. (>>Tweet this<<) As Maya Angelou is famed for saying “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 
  • Strive for better in everything you do; never be satisfied yourself with just repeating previous successes. This is perhaps the greatest lesson from all these great companies. As the Hotel mentioned, they want to exceed the expectations of their guests.
  • Make it a part of every employee’s objectives to ensure products and services that not only obtain customer satisfaction, but go even beyond that in any way they can. As Tony Hseih says, customer service is not the responsibility of any one department.

I am sure you too have examples of companies that were not satisfied until they had gone above and beyond what you expected of them. In a previous post I mentioned Dyson; what others can you add to this list? Please share your suggestions below.

This post used an image from “Winning Customer Centricity” Denyse’s new book out next month.

Deliver a Great Experience to All Prospects, Including Those that Don’t Buy

This week I am happy to share a guest post by Bob Thompson from CustomerThink. His post is inspired by his latest book “Hooked on Customers”, which I’ve just read and highly recommend to everyone looking to be more customer centric. 

For sure, increasing sales productivity is a good thing. Marketing organizations are putting in place systems and tools to generate and score leads, so that reps can focus on more qualified prospects.

However, even in the best case scenario reps will not close every opportunity. Some customers may not have a need to buy now. Others may have a need, but they may select another alternative. A CSO Insights study found average win rates of about 45% in 2011, a five point drop from 2006.

So the key question is: What kind of sales experience are you delivering to all of your prospects—including those that weren’t qualified or didn’t buy?

This is important because, whether a prospect buys or not, their experience interacting with your company will create a lasting impression. A good experience means they may return another day, when they have needs that match your solutions. Or, they’ll recommend your company to a colleague. Either way, that helps increase revenue productivity. For example, last year I was looking for software to support my online community CustomerThink.com. Over the course of a couple of weeks, I searched for solutions, interacted with vendor web sites and engaged with several sales reps by email and phone. To most of the vendors I was just another not-very-valuable small business buyer. And I was treated accordingly, no doubt thanks to some nifty lead scoring algorithms that have become de rigueur for B2B marketers.

Unfortunately, these vendors probably didn’t factor into their scoring that my posts on CustomerThink reach an audience of 80,000 visitors per month. Or, that I have colleagues in the publishing business that are also potential buyers. And what do you know, shortly after my buying experiences, an industry colleague asked me for advice on similar tools, and I was only too happy to share my recommendations. Privately.

Bottom line: While I may not have been scored or treated as a valuable prospect, I was valuable in other ways—as an influencer. And many of your prospects are, too. The point of lead scoring is to assess the value of the prospect to you—the seller—so you can make the best use of your resources. Let’s flip this idea around. What I’m advocating is that you spend time to really underst and how your prospects—all of them—perceive their experience with your br and. From the initial web search to interacting with your web site to engaging with inside or field sales reps, all of these touchpoints form an impression and influence their likelihood to buy or recommend.

Start by assessing your current customer and prospect experiences. Look for opportunities to get prospect feedback using web analytics and feedback solutions. You could even hire “mystery prospects” to take on different personas representing buyers, influencers, researchers, etc. The prospect experience used to be mainly face-to-face interactions. Then it moved to the phone, and now it’s going digital in a big way.

If you do a buyer “journey map” you’ll probably find that more and more buyers start their journey online and are rapidly adopting mobile technologies such as smart phones and tablets. In the US, Nielson reports that in 2012 about half of all mobile subscribers are using smartphones. Ultimately, a great prospect experience is about interacting on their terms–giving them the information they want, in the form they want, where they want, at the time they want it, on the device they want. Whether prospects buy immediately or not, a positive experience will become the “gift that keeps on giving” in the future.

Realize that as you’re scoring prospects on their value to you, they are also scoring their experience with your company. Delivering a great prospect experience can help you differentiate and become a B2B br and that business people talk about like consumers rave about Zappos!

This post was originally published on February 22, 2013 at www.hookedoncustomers.com

Is Honesty still the Best Policy? Walking the Talk of Customer Centricity

I got an email today that irritated me, I mean it really insulted me, and prompted this post on customer centricity. I am sure it would have annoyed you too; in fact you have probably already received it or at least something similar yourself in the past.

It announced a “massive 46-page eBook” that I had been chosen to receive for free. It sounded as if I should be happy and feel privileged to receive it. I wasn’t. I don’t know about you, but I don’t call 46 pages massive. A jumbo jet is massive; War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy is massive; not a measly 46 pages – even if it was for free.

ASA Logo protecting customer centricityWhy do companies continue to think that they can treat people like idiots? In my opinion, it can only be a very short-lived business strategy. People will quickly learn the truth, especially in today’s connected world. Or should I blame the advertising agencies for coming up with these “lies”? However, it seems to me to be just a little too close for comfort to the “misleading claims” from which the Advertising St andards Authority in most countries should be protecting us.

If you are looking to be truly customer centric, here are some other examples that you are hopefully NOT doing.

Claims

The above illustration is just one example of many exaggerated claims which seem to have become prevalent these days. This is most probably because the internet makes it so easy to reach new, “naive” customers, who still trust organisations to do the right thing. Why do so many companies use overly attractive adjectives that their product or service can’t live up to? They are setting themselves up to disappoint their potential customers, especially if they don’t register what comes after that word before buying.

Massive, mouth-watering, heart-stopping, mind-blowing, huge discount, best price ever; most of the time the products are not, which is probably why they feel they have to use such words. Customer centric companies don’t use these claims unless they can substantiate them.

Packaging

One area that often suffers from exaggeration is packaging. How many packs have you opened to find the product sitting miserably in the lower half of it? What a disappointment from the promise of the packaging. Or worse still in my opinion, are companies whose packs have been discretely reduced in contents over time. Companies may print the weight of the product that is inside the pack, but customers recognise and buy the pack without checking its weight each time they buy.

What is particularly offensive in this example is that it is the company’s most loyal customers who are being cheated. The company reduces the pack’s quantity but not its price; they are getting a price increase without informing their customers. That isn’t customer centric.

Value

Customer centric companies price on value not costAnother area that often suffers from exaggerated claims is price value. I was recently offered access online to a video “worth more than US$ 997” for just US$49.99. I don’t know any videos, even those of the classics or Oscar-winning films, that are worth that amount, and certainly no such offers proposed on the internet.

To paraphrase the infamous quote of Oliver Platt:

 

“Value is in the eye of the beholder, not the seller” (>>Tweet this<<)

 

How are you pricing your own product and service offerings? Do you base it on company cost or customer value? If not the latter, you may also be leaving a lot of money on the table, as your offer might actually be worth more than you are charging for it. The most important information you need to decide on your price is what your customer is prepared to pay for it; that is what value is all about. Customer centric companies know and apply this on a daily basis

Promising but not delivering

Airlines are renowned for this, especially the low-cost ones. They advertise flights at ridiculously low prices that few, if any, end up paying, since you need to add on the cost of paying by credit card, booking your seat, taking a bag on board etc. etc. Yes the advertised price attracts attention, but once you have made a few attempts at reserving these low prices, you underst and the “game” and compare before buying. And most of the time the “normal” airlines are cheaper. As I’m sure you’re heard many times and to quote Thomas (Tom) J. Peters:

 

“The formula for success is to under-promise and over-deliver” (>>Tweet this<<)

 

Zappos

Amazon and Zappos are two companies who regularly do this; in fact it’s a part of their business model. They occasionally provide priority delivery at no extra cost, as a delightful surprise for their customers. Amazon also proposes useful suggestions of other books, music or other products to buy whilst you are surfing their website to purchase something. Yes, I know it is in their interest to get you to buy something else, but it is a service and highly valued by most people. Customer centric behaviour is always a win-win for both the customer and the company.

Hidden renewals

You subscribe to a service on a free trial basis, or a one-off monthly fee as many Telecom companies now offer. What you don’t notice or remember, is that it is automatically renewed at the end of the trial period unless cancelled. Yes I know it’s written in the terms and conditions or at the very bottom of the online page if you scroll down, but I don’t read font 8 very easily, even with my glasses! And be honest, none of us reads to the very end of the terms and conditions, and the companies that use this tactic are counting on it.

Of course, when you are informed that your subscription has been renewed, you realise what has happened and immediately cancel, with hopefully only a one month and not an annual unwanted payment. Yes the company has gotten a payment it probably wouldn’t have gotten otherwise, but they certainly didn’t make us a loyal and happy customer, did they?

If you are using this type of “hidden selling” to get customers, please stop. Customer centric companies invite people to continue their subscription, perhaps at a special price. In this way they will get almost as many customers, but they will most certainly be happier and more likely to continue to purchase from them.

These are just a few examples of how companies are intentionally aiming to get customers to buy something that is not worth the money being asked in many cases. If the product or service they propose did offer true value, then people would buy or repurchase without the need for such tricks. As Peter Drucker said:

 

“The aim of marketing is to know and underst and the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself” (<<Tweet this<<)

 

I would go one step further and say that it is the aim of customer centric businesses.

With today’s ease of sharing experiences on the web, why do companies continue to try to cheat unsuspecting customers? It is most definitely a short-term business strategy. Unhappy customers used to tell ten people, now they tell tens of millions, with a simple Tweet. And if there are several unhappy customers who Tweet about similar experiences, then others will start to see the trend and become wary. Whilst there will always be a few disgruntled customers who complain, more than that will highlight a real issue.

This reminds me; I hate doing it but I am one of the people who have tweeted about poor customer service because I am not getting an answer when using the provided phone and email contacts. Customer service is all about taking the customers’ perspective (>>Tweet this<<) and offering multiple ways to be contacted and then responding quickly. Companies do respond to negative tweets, usually in record time and certainly faster than connections by other means. Why are companies forcing their customers to go public with their dissatisfaction to get heard? Most would be happy and would probably prefer to share their complaints with the company in private – IF they get a quick response.

So coming back to my question, the answer is a resounding yes. Most companies now speak about the importance of being customer centric, but so many of them are still doing many of the practices mentioned above, which are most definitely NOT customer centric behaviour. Are you one of them? Do you have other examples that you yourself have experienced? Why not share them here?

C³Centricity used images from the ASA in the UK, Dreamstime and Microsoft in this post.

The New Marketing Role: Testing & Tested

There have been many discussions lately about new marketing and how the function of the marketer has changed in recent years. The position has gone from a primarily creative role to one encompassing many new competencies.

As if that wasn’t difficult enough, marketing is also being challenged more and more to prove its ROI to the business, whilst at the same time being “forced” to get intimate with IT. These are very tough times for marketers. That is why I thought I would add my support and sympathy with a few ideas on how to make your life a little easier.

A/B Testing

Oreo's creative marketing at 2013 SuperBowl

It is no longer sufficient to publish great content on the web. Marketers are required to constantly challenge their own thinking and to improve what they are doing. A/B testing is now C/D/E and almost every other letter of the alphabet.

Great is no longer enough and anyway doesn’t stay great for long in the eyes of the customer. They are now (too) quickly losing their first positive impressions, accept as normal what was surprising just one week earlier and are soon off looking for something better.

 

IDEA: It is essential to work out a detailed plan of online activities, just like any other section of the marketing plan. Decide who will publish what and when, and make sure it aligns with and supports your offline events. Incorporate testing of content and headlines into your plans too, but always leave a little space and flexibility for topical content should something inspiring happen in the marketplace. Think Oreos at the 2013 SuperBowl.

Prepare to be challenged

Greenpeace marketing against P&G

Although I don’t know whether P&G were prepared for last week’s direct Greenpeace attack on their Head & Shoulders br and, it is not something they can easily ignore. After a similar attack on Nestle’s KitKat last year, it is clear that customers feel empowered to verbalise discontent in a ferocious manner. For this reason, it is vital to be prepared for as many possible eventualities as possible. This is where future scenario planning can be of immense support.

IDEA: Watch how other br ands are being called up short and consider what you would do if something similar happened to one of your br ands. Spend time studying societal trends (you are of course following them, aren’t you?) and then develop a few plausible future scenarios. The easiest way is probably to identify the two most important axes of uncertainty and then to describe each of the four worlds created. Review and agree what marketing and management would need to do in each of these situations.

Proving what you’re worth

Marketing has never been so closely scrutinised nor challenged as in recent years. The wealth of information being produced thanks to new technologies makes it arguably easier to measure activities than ever before. So marketing is being challenged by the business to prove its ROI. It is no longer acceptable to claim the lack of direct relationships between actions and outcomes, because of the wealth of data available.

IDEA: Review and agree with management the KPIs that you both consider to be indicators of marketing success. And then measure them, regularly if not permanently. Read this article for the top ten KPIs you should be following. Real-time information has become the new norm and although challenging at times, it does provide the advantage of the possibility for a quick response when things are not going according to plan.

Getting more comfortable with data

Marketing & IT need to be friends

It has never been a priority for marketing to befriend the IT department in their own organisation, but that time has come. But marketers need help in managing all the data available to them and for this they require systems and platforms. As was reported in a recent Domo report, the majority of marketers would work with data more often if they had the time and it was all in one place instead of dispersed across platforms.

IDEA: Work with IT to develop a system to provide easy access to the KPIs you’ve identified as of most relevance. Also develop dashboards that summarise all you activities on one page and into just a few, if not one single number – which management too will appreciate.

Get intimate with your customers

Just in case you haven’t heard, your customer is in control and that includes of your own marketing in many instances. From venting their dissatisfaction on social media, to boycotting your br ands when they don’t agree with your sustainability or sourcing efforts, today their voice is most definitely heard. If you still don’t have company objectives which include spending time with your customers then you need to set this up – urgently.

IDEA: Introduce your whole organisation to your customers and make sure you put them first in every single thing you and the company does. There are so many ways for people to get a better underst anding of their customers and rather than feeling you are losing control, you can lead the area and get additional recognition as a customer representative, rather than “just” a defender of br ands. That is in my opinion the only real future for marketing.

These are just five ways that marketing is being tested today and hopefully my ideas have inspired you enough to see this as an opportunity rather than as a threat. Let me know what you have introduced in your own organisation to meet these new challenges, or maybe others you yourself have faced; I’m sure everyone would love to learn from you.

C³Centricity used images from Microsoft, Forbes & Greenpeace in this post.

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

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

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

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

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

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

1.      Treating customers well

2.      Treating employees well

3.      Doing good for society

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

#1. Really value the customer

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

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

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

#2. Go above and beyond in service

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

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

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

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

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

 #3. Understand your customers’ experience

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

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

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

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

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

No Obligation, just INSPIRATION!

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

Inspiring Quotes to Ignite your Customer Centricity

This week we celebrated Swiss National Day on August 1st. It is a wonderful day of celebrations and sharing, that ends in many communes with a formal speech and bonfire, and if you’re lucky, a wonderful firework display as well.

This gave me the idea that we all need to get excited and fired up occasionally, so here is my sizzling Summer selection of quotes to ignite your own customer centricity.

Each quote is associated with some questions and ideas of actions, as usual. They are all taken from my forthcoming book “Winning Customer Centricity”  which will be published in the second half of 2014.

#1. “There may be Customers without Br ands, but there are no Br ands without Customers” Anon

Marketing is all about br ands, but without our customers, there wouldn’t be any br ands. What did you do for your customers this week? Prove to everyone that you are serious about being more customer centric by signing all your emails with this or another suitable quote.

#2. “Nothing can add more power to your life than concentrating all your energies on a limited set of targets”

This post from Nido Qubein (Businessman, author, speaker, President of High Point University) reminds us of the importance of targeting. Are you precisely choosing the customers you target for each of your br ands or are you just taking anyone who buys the category? Choice means ignoring some category buyers, which is a hard but necessary decision to make. In order to fully satisfy your target, based on your ability to satisfy and win them, concentrate your efforts to increase your chances of success.

#3. “The more you engage with customers the clearer things become and the easier it is to determine what you should be doing”

John Russell (CEO of Manganese Bronze, former VP Harley Davidson Europe) speaks of an essential element of business today, engaging with our customers. When did you last speak directly with your own customers? If you are not doing this at least monthly, and ideally weekly, you are not keeping close to them, nor up-to-date with how they are changing. Please get out of your office NOW! (You can tell your Boss I told you to!)

#4. “If you use st andard research methods you will have the same insights as everyone else”

This quote from David Nichols (Managing Partner at Br andgym) suggests that there is more to be gained than lost, from revising our methodologies, especially when we have been using them for many years. Some people mention lack of comparability as a reason for not changing, but the world is changing so fast that even if our methods don’t, people are changing and will not answer in the same way as in the past.

Therefore ask yourself when did you last review your market research tools? Are you really comfortable that you have all the right methodologies to gather the information you need? Today’s markets are changing and your customers are altering their behaviours even if you aren’t. It is not necessary to replace every tool you use, but you should be constantly challenging your thinking and methodologies to ensure you are doing the best possible information gathering.

#5. “Customer Service shouldn’t be a department; it should be the entire company”

Tony Hsieh (CEO Zappo) is one of a h andful of CEOs who really get customer centricity. He makes customer service the responsibility of everyone in his company and everyone gets to speak directly with the customer in their few weeks of being hired at Zappo.

Who is responsible for serving the customer in your organisation? If your answer is not everyone, as Tony Hsieh of Zappo’s suggests, perhaps it is time to ask yourself why, or rather why not? An organisation can only become truly customer centric if everyone in the company thinks customer first. How can you help everyone underst and that their job is important in satisfying your customers?

#6. “What helps people helps business”

Leo Burnett is often referred to as the father of advertising. Who better therefore to guide our own customer engagement. Today engaging the customer means far more than advertising. If a business thinks customer first and works to satisfying their needs, whether articulated, unarticulated or unimagined, then it will inevitably be successful.

If you are only meeting articulated needs, those specifically mentioned by your customers, then you will constantly be in competition with others satisfying them. Getting to and satisfying as yet unimagined needs, which is what Apple is (were?) great at doing, is the way to exponential growth.

#7. “Being on par in terms of price and quality only gets you into the game. Service wins the game”

Tony Alles andra (Author, entrepreneur, speaker) highlights today’s challenge of differentiation. Even price can no longer win loyalty, as promotions, price cuts and own labels proliferate.

If you are competing on price alone, then you are open to serious challenge. You could even be training your customers to eventually trade down to private label. This is what Nielsen’s Jean-Jacques V andeneede once described as the “Stairway to Agony”. Even if you are of equal quality, you can still lose to a competitor that offers superior service. Customers have been known to accept a higher price or lower quality for a better service. Which are you prioritising?

#8. “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower”

Steve Jobs (American entrepreneur & co-founder of Apple) showed us all the value of innovation and built the company to become synonymous with it right up until his death in October 2011.

However, despite recent criticism of Apple’s lack of truly innovative launches, they have always shown a remarkable power of inventing not what customers want, but what they will want. They have had a talent for underst anding their customers’ future needs better than the customer himself.

This can only come from deep underst anding. Are you a leader or a follower? If you don’t know your customer deeply then you risk becoming a follower, and your innovations are more likely to be merely renovations. Isn’t it time to break out of your innovation box?

#9. “Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things”

We all like to think we are creative and innovative, yet there is a huge difference, as pointed out by Theodore Levitt (Professor at Harvard Business School & editor of HBR).

Are you a thinker or a doer? Insights without action remain theory and are virtually useless in the business world. Make sure all the insights you develop are actionable. How? By integrating information, the hindsights, hearsights and foresights that I mentioned in a recent post (if you missed it you can read it here) Information is not Insight.

#10. “The journey of a thous and miles must begin with a single step”

This Chinese Proverb is a great way to end this post, as it is time to take action, by making that first step towards customer centricity.

Are you happy with where you are on your own journey? If not, what action, what small step can you take today to move your organisation forward? The inspiration from any of the above nine would get you there if you are struggling with where to start.

To summarise the above ten quotes in just one sentence, it would be:

Think customer first; target, engage, satisfy, then rinse and repeat.

Sounds easy doesn’t it and it is, but oh so difficult to do really well.

Are you already advanced on your journey to customer centricity? If so, I would love to hear what was the one step you took that made the biggest difference in moving your organisation forwards. Was it one of the above? Then share your story. Do you think customer centricity is really as simple as “Target, engage and satisfy?” Let me know.

Would you like to know where you are on your own journey to customer centricity? Complete our FREE C³C Evaluator tool: https://www.c3centricity.com/C3Cmembers

Need help in targeting, engaging or satisfying your own customers? The let us help you catalyze your customer centricity; contact us here

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10 Ways to tell if you’re Customer Centric: And what to do about it if you’re not

Summer is a great time to reflect on the progress we have made to date on our plans, be they personal or professional. Having finally completed the “nth” revision of my latest book –the formatting not the content! – it was the perfect occasion for me to review what I wanted to achieve in the coming six months.

This got me thinking about how organisations too need to take a step back and review how their plans are going and what changes need to be made to ensure their completion over the remaining six months of the year. So here are my ten ways to tell if you are well on your way to becoming truly customer centric – and what actions you can still take to go further along your journey.

#1. Identify the category in which you are competing

This may sound strange to you, but many br ands are not competing in the category in which they first thought they were. Think soup which is now a meal replacement, or laptops which are now entertainment platforms.

Action: Review how your product or service fits into the customers’ daily life and how they compare and decide between options. This will help you identify your real competitors and the actual category in which you are competing.

#2. Underst and your primary target

Boston MatrixKnowing precisely who the customer is for each of your br ands is the first essential step to satisfying them. Use the BCG Matrix to help select the best group. Do you already work with this matrix, or do you have a better system? Please share your own best practice below, so I can learn.

Action: Review the target audience for each of your br ands and ensure you have information on their +4Ws” – Who, What, Where and Why: demographics, purchase, usage, media use, places of purchase, consumption, connections to communications, their values, usage motivations and emotions when doing so.

#3. Watch and listen to your customers

Personal experience of your customers is essential to putting them at the heart of your business.

Action: Ensure everyone has regular – ideally monthly – contact with the customer, whether by listening in at the call centre, watching market research interviews & discussions, or observing customers as they shops and use your product / service.

#4. Know what current trends could mean for your business

Many organisations follow trends, but they don’t provide any competitive advantage unless they are turned into future scenarios.

Action: Identify the most relevant trends for your br and and then project them into the future to develop two axes of uncertainty and four plausible future worlds. These will help prepare the business for future opportunities and challenges.

#5. Reinvent your innovation

Example of innovation leversMost organisations innovate based upon their current knowledge or technical skills. This keeps them boxed into a narrow b and of categories.

Action: Take your NPD thinking outside its box, by making use of all relevant innovation levers, including, but not limited to, packaging, channels, sourcing, communications, br anding, services.

 

#6. Follow your image

It is amazing how many companies don’t follow their br and images on a regular basis. Image trends are a great way to be alerted to possible sales issues before they appear in the numbers.

Action: Identify the major image attributes of both your own and competitor br ands, and measure them regularly (annually for fast moving categories, every two to three years for slower moving ones).

#7. Turn your information into insight

Whilst information and knowledge are essential to gather, it is only when they are turned into underst anding and insight that they become truly customer centric.

Action: Review your insight development process and ensure decisions about customer satisfaction are based on them and not just on information. Insights ensure your communications resonate with your customers and your product / service delights and sometime surprises them.

#8. Share your information and insights

Companies spend a lot of money gathering data and information about the market and customers. However, in most cases they spend far too much money, because the information that is needed is actually already available somewhere in the company.

Action: Review your organisation’s information needs and negotiate contracts and access company-wide rather than by department. Make your information and insights available to everyone in the company through a library or database with appropriately managed access rights.

#9. Evaluate your progress

Business DashboardAs the infamous quote from Peter Drucker says “What gets measured gets managed”. Besides br and image, are you following other KPIs to measure your progress on your journey to customer centricity?

Action: Identify the three to five most important areas you want to improve and then measure them consistently. If the numbers aren’t trending up, act – see #10. below. The actual metrics you follow will depend upon your industry, but may include market comparison (shares), availability (distribution or out-of-stock) communications impact, competitivity, value.

 

#10. Plan for action

Once you have identified the KPIs to follow, you need to take action to improve those that are trending downwards and perhaps also those which are stable.

Action: Since your KPIs are the most important metrics for your business, plan actions as soon as their trend changes and don’t wait.

These ten steps should ensure your organisation remains focussed on the customer and doesn’t get lost in the day-to-day issues of the business. After all, as I have been quoted many times for saying:

“There may be customers without br ands, but there are no br ands without customers”

Think about it; do you have the right priorities? How do you know? Have I missed an essential step off of my list above? If so, let me know. Please also share which of your actions towards customer centricity you are struggling with the most. Together we’ll find a solution.

If you would like to  know how customer centric your organisation really is, then why not complete the C3C Evaluator? Check it out on our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/C3Cmembers

Need help on your journey to customer centricity? Let us help you catalyze your business; contact us here.

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Trust: How to build your customers’ before it’s too late

Last week, I was reviewing some work for a friend and something didn’t feel quite right about it. The content was great, lots of interesting facts and information, but the flow just wasn’t there.

When I questioned her about it, she admitted that she had taken passages from other articles to make up her own; from that moment I lost trust in her work.

In today’s world of information overload she could have been forgiven for having “curated” work from other writers, but to me it was dishonest for her not to have mentioned her sources.

Whilst your websites and blogs are hopefully filled with your own material, are you as honest in other areas of your marketing and communications? This post is for you if you want to make sure you are.

Telling the truth

All of us want to have confidence in the products and services that we buy. However, it seems to have become the “norm” to exaggerate our offering in so many industries:

  • Food manufacturers show beautiful dishes on the front panel of their packs that don’t at all resemble the dull, industrialised product inside the box or can
  • Personal care products promise glossy hair, wrinkle free skin or quick weight-loss
  • Perfumes claim to that their use has the opposite sex falling at our feet

To a greater or lesser extent, all these exaggerations are setting the companies up for failure rather than success in the mean term. If you are disappointed by the look or performance of the product when you open the box, are you likely to buy it again? Unless it tastes incredible or smells exceptional, or has some other merit, with the choices out there, you are more likely to try a different br and next time. For example, why do we women all have several shampoos cluttering up our bathrooms? Because we believe with each new launch, that this time it will make a difference to our limp, dull, dry or greasy hair.

Now I am the first to admit that I don’t want total reality either; wouldn’t the world be dull otherwise? But did you know that according to the 2011 report from Oracle “The Customer Experience Revolution“, 89% of people have switched br ands after just one negative experience. There is so much choice today, why risk that one bad experience by over-promising.

The Dove br and has built its reputation on exactly this and its now infamous communication “Evolution” still remains a hit on YouTube. Incidentally, there have also been some copies of the evolution theme; if you want a good laugh, check out the “Foster Farms” parody from last year, one of the best in my opinion.

Don’t hide behind the small print

Sorry CPG / FMCG Industry, I’m going to mention you again. Have you noticed how packs are showing more and more languages on them? As production becomes more centralised, it makes sense, at least for the manufacturer, to reduce the number of pack versions they need to print. It also helps with their supply chain, since products prepared for one market can end up being shipped to another if needed.

I remember once hearing that you should never believe what is printed on the front of pack – 95% fat free is usually by weight and not be calories for instance, which is what we are probably more interested in knowing. But it is often difficult to realise this since the back panel with the ingredients information is printed in such small font, that you can’t actually read it.

How about the technology industry too? How many of us read all the agreements and contracts we are asked to approve when we buy, install or download software? I remember a few years ago having a problem with my i-Phone, which kept synchronising non-stop over the air with Mobile-Me (luckily now ab andoned by Apple). When I called Apple to sort it out I also asked them what to do about the $300 Telecom bill I had just received from my network; they told me that it wasn’t their responsibility, as I had signed the agreement which stated that they are not accountable should their system not work! So what was I buying?!

Be ready to listen to your customer

I assume most of you reading this have a call centre which customers can contact for queries or complaints? One major CPG company was very proud that they had put their contact telephone number and email address on every one of their packs. However, if you tried to call outside working hours, you just got a recorded message with the times to call.

A friend of mine tried to call a Food manufacturer at 12:30 in Europe as she had trouble using one of their recipe mixes; imagine her surprise when she got a recorded message saying that they were closed for lunch. Wouldn’t it make more sense to be available when your product is more likely to be used, at lunch-time or in the evening? I had a similar experience calling an airline on a Saturday, when I heard the message that their offices were closed at weekends. Luckily, I went online and found a number for them in a different time zone, where at least they were open, although they quicly explained that they couldn’t help me, since my ticket had been bought n Europe. Global airlines anyone?!

These are just three examples of things companies do to make their lives easier, but not those of their customers. Even organisations who claim to put their customer at the heart of their business and consider themselves to be customer centric, can overlook these simple yet vital areas of customer service.

Maybe you could benefit from reviewing what services you are providing to your own customers and checking that they are indeed doing what they were planned to do, namely making your customers’ lives easier and not just your own. In fact why not start with the first three I mentioned above? I bet at least one of them could do with some improvement in your own business.

If you are doing these three correctly, but notice in your review that something else could be improved, please share it here and let everyone know below. Together we will all become more customer centric, which will benefit us both as customers and businesses.

For more information about building trust with your customers by underst anding them better, please check our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and/

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Be Customer Centric – differently!

If you are confident that you are doing everything you can to be customer centric, then this post is for you; it provides some further ideas on how to surprise and delight your customers in a different way, to ensure you keep your competitive advantage.

Last week I was in the US for a few days and stayed one night in a small lodge on Key Largo. If I hadn’t prepared my trip by checking out possible places to stay on Tripadvisor before I left, I wouldn’t have known about it, as it is hidden by greenery, even though it is on the main US 1 highway. I would highly recommend this lodge (Dove Creek Lodge) if you are in the area; not only does it offer great value for money, but they are very customer centric. They couldn’t do enough for us, even though we were only there for one night on our way down to Key West.

What touched me in particular, was the way they appeared to search for ways to surprise and delight their clients in everything they did, far beyond what you would expect, even from a star-rated hotel. For example, instead of plates of fruit, meats and vegetables for breakfast, they presented the same foods, but as sweet and savoury kebabs. Rather than serving a large bowl of yoghurt for everyone to dip into, they presented delicate glass cups filled with Greek yoghurt, fruit and granola, or graham biscuits with key lime cream. The whole stay was perfect but there is every chance that we will remember it longer than other places in which we have stayed, because we were surprised and delighted by that original breakfast presentation.

So what can you do differently, to surprise and delight your own customers? Think about what you or your category competitors normally do, but then do it in a slightly different way. Customers will be woken from their mindless, habitual behaviour, and made to sit up and take more notice of what you are offering. Here are some examples that I have experienced in the recent past, but I would love to hear about others that you have already seen, used, thought about or had the pleasure of enjoying:

Replacement product:

OK so you think that you have satisfied your customer when sending a replacement for a (perceived) faulty product? How about sending it express delivery, so they get it in record time? This will amplify your already good customer service and your customers will be delighted. Many companies add coupons as an extra, especially in the US, but those don’t delight or surprise any more. You could offer samples of new products as well, but just make sure they are relvant to the customer- I recently received a “normal” version of a “hypo-allergenic” product I had returned due to an allergy!

Bakery:

Instead of the usual fillings of bakery items, how about adding “surprise” additions. For example, how about jam donuts with jam and cream cheese for an added, surprising delight – I actually had this at the Bagel Isl and, Big Pine Key and would love to go back again to try some of their other surprising offers. I have also bought chocolates with very creative flavours, both savoury and sweet, that certainly got my guests talking with their coffeee after a meal!

Car rental:

Alamo and National, and maybe others I am not aware of, offer their customers the full choice of cars to rent  within their reserved price range, rather than the company deciding what car they will give you. This way, you feel that you have far more choice and are in control of your rental agreement, much more so than you do with other companies. I have also received a small attention on leaving the parking of some rental companies – a bottle of water in summer, a CD of seasonal music at Christmas, Halloween c andies in October. It is not so much the small gift as they surprise that delights.

Airlines:

Many airlines are now offering premium economy service, where their clients are treated, at least on the ground, like a business traveler, rather than as an economy passenger. The first time this happens, it comes as a pleasant surprise and I can imagine will likely make their passengers more loyal to the service and perhaps also the airline in the future, in the same way as complementary upgrades do.

Consumer packaged goods:

Extra ingredients or novel packaging ideas that add sensorial experiences to the product, can bring memorable experiences even to commoditized products. For example, Nestlé brought out a cream desert that had a chocolate layer you cracked with your spoon; Herbal Essence shampoos had significant success with special perfumes; Pantene ProV with its unique colours and solid “clunking” lid closure; Bud Light Premium which sells in an unusual rich, blue bottle; or scratch patches on air fresheners and laundry products. There are many ways to add additional surprising sensorial experiences to your offers, you just have to think like your target customer and know what would delight them.

Offering surprising and delighting extras is one way to make your customers remember your product or service, and almost guarantee repurchase and loyalty, since competitive products don’t have them. Surprising your customers makes an emotional bond that intensifies their experience, so they will remember not only your br and, but also the additional pleasure that is relived each time they think about it.

As you saw from the above examples, it doesn’t need to cost a lot to be unexpected, it just needs to be in some way related to your product so the link remains in the customer’s mind next time they go shopping. These extras make a huge difference to the more commoditized products where br ands offer little differentiation beyond the br and and manufacturer’s name.

What other ways have you found to surprise and delight your customers? Have you, yourself been delighted by a special touch you have found in a product or service? Please share your ideas below.

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For more tips about delighting your customers, especially in innovation, please see our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/vision/

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STOP Emotional Innovation!

Last week, I posted about making innovations more emotional; if you didn’t see it, you can find it here. Today, I want to speak about the other side of emotional innovation; how to STOP some of your own emotions, when launching new products.

One Sunday last Summer I had been planning a lie-in, like most of us do when we don’t have to get up for work at the weekends. However, I was woken up very early by one of my cats who came to proudly show me that she had caught a bat! 

Both my cats love hunting and I have to say they are (too) good at it! They give me frequent “presents” that I discretely dispose of, unless of course they are alive, in which case I have to catch them and return them to the wild outdoors, whilst the two of them continue to sniff around the last place in which they had seen their prey.

Anyway, my cat Apricot – a female ginger – was really excited about her very rare capture, which is why she had woken me up to show me. Of course, I was less than enthusiastic about a bat flying around my bedroom at five in the morning! Luckily when I switched on my bedside lamp, the light quietened it down and when he stopped flying, to hang on the wall, I was able to catch him and put him back outside where be belonged.

 

Do your innovations excite you or your customer?

Now awake, my mind started musing on the very large differences in the reactions of my cat and me, to this event. She was excited, happy and proud; I was surprised, disappointed and irritated that I had to stop what I was doing – sleeping – to attend to her “present”.

I think something similar happens sometimes when companies launch new products or services. Everyone in the organisation gets excited about their innovation or renovation, are proud to have developed it and happy that after all the hard word, it is finally ready for launch. The customer on the other h and, can be surprised, which is great if this is accompanied by pleasure, or disappointed if the promise is not delivered. However, he might also be irritated if his usual br and or version has been replaced and is no longer available, or at least no longer on the shelf or store in which he usually finds it. We are in fact asking him to work, to change his habits, which no human being really enjoys, even when it is for the better.

 

5 Questions for winning innovations

So how can you make your new product development more customer-centric? By starting from your target customers’ perspective, and by answering these five questions:

  1. How are your customers currently using your product or service? What are their pain points if any; price, packaging, size, availability, sensorial experience – taste, aroma, colour, sound, feel?
  2. Who is currently changing or has already changed their habits to compensate for these pain points? Your current regular users, occasional users, lapsed users, competitive br and users?
  3. What are your current customers doing to face their pain points? Are they only buying on promotion, buying several small packs at a time, buying a replacement br and, buying elsewhere, adding their own ingredients?
  4. Where would they rank each of the identified pain points in terms of priority and acceptability? Can they cope with buying less often to get it at a cheaper price? Do they have a “portfolio” of acceptable br ands from which to choose in the category? Do they transfer your product into another container for ease of serving?
  5. When do the pain points become so unacceptable that your customers would consider changing br ands or adapting their behaviour? Are there psychological price barriers in the category or for your br and? Are there category st andards of colour, size or packaging that need to be obeyed – or perhaps even broken?

Obviously best-in-class innovation and renovation starts with the target customer in mind; their rational needs AND emotional desires.

Based on the answers to these five questions, the most relevant products and services can be proposed and are then more likely to be met with positive excitement, pride and happiness, rather than negative surprise, disapointment, irritation and frustration.

 

Involve your customers in your innovation

A further idea about customer-centric innovation is to actually involve your customers along the whole process. Many organisations now run what are called “co-creation” or “co-elaboration” sessions, where ideas are shared with and then further developed with customers in live sessions, either in person or over the web. How about co-creating your next new product idea with your customers? That way you know it will delight them even before you launch.

Do you have any other points you would add to the above list? Have you had success in co-creating a product or new service recently? Please share your experiences, I would love to hear about them.

This post first appeared on April 28th 2011 in C3Centricity Comments

More information on improving your innovation and conducting co-creation sessions can be found here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/vision/

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Delivering a Campaign Win Amidst Online Saturation

Fifty years ago, the primary platforms used to communicate to customers were print media, TV commercials, and billboards. Given this, large-scale campaigns were pricey, and only a h andful of major br ands had the resources with which to execute them.

Now flash forward. These days, the results of corporate marketing initiatives are as ubiquitous as the air we breathe. As marketers, we still have the commercials, billboards, and print ads to content with, but now we also have to consider things like search engines, social media, and mobile computing. Beyond that, we must deal with the knowledge that just about anyone with a computer and an internet connection now has the capability to market a product or service online, quickly and inexpensively. The issue becomes:

Your customer is st anding in front of a fire hose, but are YOU the one getting them wet?

Every time your customer is hit with a new pop-up, banner ad, or promoted tweet, they become more and more desensitized. They’re getting bombarded with endless potato chips, when what they really want is a substantial meal.  Do you know how to feed them?

Content is the value

In an information-driven market, the companies that will prevail are the ones that underst and the type of information their customers must receive in order to justify their investment in a relationship. Just showing up and spouting what you want them to know about your offering doesn’t do the job anymore. Rattling on about features and benefits will put them to sleep—or worse, yet, make them click away.

Demystifying customer needs

The easiest way to give customers what they need is simply to hear what they’re saying. Have you listened to your customers lately?

  1. Discover relevant online destinations. Set up keyword searches to deliver information on the blogs, web sites, and social media outlets you need to monitor. Actively listen to the online chatter about your br and, industry, and competitors.
  2. Solicit direct feedback. Develop and share an online survey with your customers, giving them an anonymous way to tell you what they think— and what they want.
  3. Identify conversation trends. As you review the information you’ve gathered, you’ll probably be able to identify a number of recurring issues that appear to be the most important to your customers. Turn these into a set of key customer statements (e.g., “I need to stop wasting money on service bundles I cannot use,” “I want to spend less time managing my IT infrastructure.”).
  4. Turn customer statements into marketing messaging. Develop the pillars of your messaging framework around your customer statements (e.g., “We provide all the services you need, and none of the ones you don’t,” “Our products reduce your IT maintenance time by 65%.”), and then spin them further into marketing copy:

Are you tired of paying for service bundles filled with offerings you can’t use?
XYZ Company provides custom solutions that target your unique needs—without a lot of extras you don’t want. . .

Are you spending too much time managing your IT infrastructure?
XYZ Company can cut the amount of time you spend on IT administration by 65%, so you can focus on building your bottom line. . .

Campaigns based upon actual online conversations will resonate keenly with customers because you are repeating to them exactly what they told you. Your content will capture their attention because you are telling them that you recognize what they need, and that you are able to deliver it.

For more information on connecting with customers, please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage/

 

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