The covid pandemic clearly highlighted those companies that truly care about their customers and which provide customer service excellence.
If a company claims to be customer centric then it is essential that they don’t just talk the talk, but walk the talk too. The pandemic gave many people more time to review from whom they bought and what services they were getting in return.
A few years ago I was prompted to question my own purchase decision of cable services from the Swiss company UPC-Cablecom. It had been known to have a long-term deficit in customer service excellence versus its main competitor Swisscom. And as recent PWC research shows, 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience.
Swisscom has made customer service their MSP (main selling point or value proposition) and they were renowned for putting their customers first. UPC-Cablecom, on the other hand, had until then, been trying to win customers through non-stop promotions and aggressive price cutting. In today’s connected world, especially where the internet is concerned, dissatisfied customers will be quickly heard – across the net.
Back to the incident that prompted this post. After a few days of being ignored by UPC-Cablecom – my perception at least, because my emails and phone calls were not being answered – I’m somewhat embarrassed to say that I resorted to Twitter.
It is more than five years ago that Twitter was first referred to as today’s customer service centre. Social media usually guarantees a quick response, since contacting customer services through the usual channels often results in no reaction for hours if not days.
Customers these days expect a response in minutes or hours rather than days. Research shows that nearly a half of all customers (46%) expect companies to respond faster than 4 hours, and 12% expect a response within 15 minutes or less. And yet the average time to respond to customer service requests is currently 12 hours and 10 minutes! How does your own customer service response times compare? As you enjoy my blog posts I assume they are significantly better.
Most call centres are a frustrating, if sometimes necessary, experience for (often dissatisfied) customers to endure. In many cases, they are automated, with a long and complex self-selection process of button pushing to arrive at the department one needs – if you’re lucky that is!
But too often the result of all that effort is just a recording telling you to call back later as the department needed is not open at the moment, or that the collaborators are currently busy and to please stay on the line.
We are next subjected to music supposedly designed to calm our nerves, interspersed with messages suggesting alternative solutions to waiting on the line. Going to the website to find a solution in their available FAQs, or to complete a contact form, or to send an email. This I find insulting since I am sure most people only call after having tried to find a solution online – anything so they don’t have to suffer these long waits!
And then, of course, to add insult to injury, we hear the trite message about our call being important to the company! Really? If so you’re not showing it, you’re not walking the talk.
Some companies that have understood their customers’ frustration with long help-line queues, have found alternative solutions such as offering a callback. Of course, providing sufficient staff to cover the busiest times, or at least to be available when the customer is most likely to need support, would be the simplest and most acceptable solution, no?!
Today there is no excuse for a consumer goods company in particular to not be ready to help their users when they need it the most. For example:
Early morning or late at night for personal care products
Breakfast, lunch and evening meal times for food manufacturers
Evenings and weekends for TV and technology products
While in a few cases, a few customers may use Twitter to jump the call centre queues, in most cases, it is only used as a customer’s final cry for help, after being frustrated by long waits on call centre help-lines or self-service selections that led the customer nowhere except around in circles.
What makes a great customer service representative (CSR)?
Taking the customers perspective is the absolute right thing to do for a company. But perhaps we as customers, should also take the company’s perspective when reaching out to them. Or at least that of the poor customer service representative who is subjected to our frustration and anger at the end of our email or phone call.
To illustrate the skills and talents of a great customer services rep, I want to share my experience with UPC-Cablecom. Jimmy N. was one of the very best examples of what a CSR should be, based upon my considerable years of experience on both sides of contact centres. What did he do so well and what might we all learn from him, despite his relatively young age (mid twenties)?
I have summarised below what I see as the most important skills of a customer services representative, that he clearly demonstrated. I call them the 7Ps of customer service excellence.
The new 7Ps of customer service excellence
Private: He immediately took the conversation offline after confirming my mobile number and also asking for my email address. He then called me back to speak in person. This is a win-win for both the company and the customer. It made me feel important as he called me straight back. But it also enabled the company to take my complaints offline and away from the eyes and ears of other current or potential customers.
Patient: He let me talk first. He just listened attentively until I had finished ranting, or when I stopped to ask a question. Sometimes a good listener is all it takes to defuse a potential issue from escalating. The customer wants to be listened to and understood, and in this case, I felt real empathy from Jimmy as I shared my negative experiences with his company’s services.
3. Polite: He never lost his cool, even when I did! I admit I would not make a good CSR. I am generally calm, but when I do get angry I really explode, especially when I feel I am being treated unfairly or being taken advantage of. Having reps who can remain calm even when the customer is accusing the company or even their call centre personnel of exaggerated shortcomings, is essential to defuse the emotional tension of the connection.
4. Perceptive: Jimmy empathised with me, and connected very well. He recognised when to push forward with the next topic and when to go back to reiterate what had been agreed. He ensured that I understood the information he was sharing and that I was comfortable with his comments, explanations and proposed solution.
5. Professional: He was an expert; he knew his topic and more importantly how to explain its complex details in simple terms. Have you never called for help and found that you knew more about the topic than the company representative? I know I have on several occasions. As a result, instead of feeling supported, I became even more frustrated, as I was forced to explain my problem in different terms, or in more detail until it was understood.
6. Pragmatic: Jimmy worked with me to find a solution that worked for us both. Unlike many call centres where the clear objective is to get you to accept the least costly alternative, I really felt that Jimmy was working with me not against me. I was confident that the solution we found together would be the best one for me and my precise situation.
7. Perseverant: He continued to ask and answer questions until he was sure I was happy with everything. Many companies now add a question at the end of the discussion, asking if there is anything else that we need. However, in most cases, it sounds totally artificial, especially when we have already thanked the CSR for their help and getting ready to say goodbye. I can understand why it is important to make sure the customer is fully satisfied before hanging up, but it would be better if the question is adapted to each individual situation.
Are these the seven best qualities for call centre advisors, or are there more “Ps” that you would add? If you have suggestions, then please add them in the comments below, especially you Jimmy if you read this!
Do you believe that your CSRs could do more for your customers? Then we would love to support you. We know we can help, just tell us where and when. Contact us here and check out our website for more information on our services: http://C3centricity.com/training
This article is regularly updated; the original version was posted on C3Centricity in February 2013.
Do you consider your packaging to be a part of the product, protecting its contents and framing its on-shelf life? Or do you consider it to be an integral part of your connection with your customers at an important moment of truth, that of purchase and usage? Or both of these?
If you answered both, then I believe that you are making maximum use of your packaging or at least you recognise its potential for communicating.
If you answered only one of the choices, then you may be missing an important opportunity. Let me explain, with a few examples.
People don’t read instructions
We all expect most things that we use or consume to be intuitive these days. In other words, we assume that we will understand how to build / cook / use them without reading the manual / instructions.
If you are like most people – myself included – this has nothing to do with the complexity of the product concerned. I myself will only turn to the instructions when something doesn’t work: I end up with left-over screws when mounting a flat-pack piece of furniture, or I can’t achieve multi-recordings on my smart TV or cable box.
In the article How Likely Are You to Read the Instructions they link behaviour to personality types. It makes an interesting read and offers at least some explanations as to why many (most?) of us still don’t read instructions.
Since the internet arrived, we have access to more and more information, and yet we seem to be reading less and less. Therefore as marketers, we need to ensure that any vital information we want to share, is clearly highlighted on the pack.
People do look at packs
Whether it is the cream we put on our faces, the cereal we eat for breakfast, or the dip that we offer to friends on match night, there are moments when we are faced with packaging for more than a split second. It is at these times that we are likely to read at least some of what is written on the pack.
It therefore makes sense to provide more than just a list of ingredients. After all you have your customer’s attention, so make use of it to impress or educate.
Here are a few of the best examples I have come across:
Nestlé does a great job of providing useful information on their pack,s with their “nutritional compass.” This includes four different pieces of information: good to know, good to remember, good question and the nutritional data.
What I particularly like about what Nestle has done, is to combine mandatory information on nutritional values, with useful information for the consumer. Although they may not be the most consumer centric company around, at least they did think consumer first in the development of their “compass.”
Juvena of Switzerland: The short message to “Enjoy the smoothness” on the back of the Juvena hand cream sample tube, makes the experience both more enjoyable and more useful in clearly communicating its benefits.
Users will almost certainly check out the promised as they apply it, bringing to their attention an advantage that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. Very clever and an excellent example of on-pack communication.
Yucatan Guacamole: I love Mexican food and especially guacamole. The message I discovered on the inside of a tub I bought in the US, made me smile.
The manufacturer has turned what could have been perceived as a negative – finding a piece of seed, stem or skin – into a healthy positive. I just love that.
While you may have to click on the image on the right to be able to read all of the message, their website is very clear. Now that’s what I call impact!
Pringleshave done something similar with their “Bursting with flavour” message. Again it explains what some might have perceived as a negative – the bulging top – into a positive.
They used to put this only on the inside seal, but they have obviously understood the power of this message since they have now added it to the front of the pack as well, as the photo on the left shows.
Heinz Tomato Ketchup: Another food example, also from my trips to the US, is a ketchup bottle that had a very important message on front of pack, as you can see from the photo on the right.
Heinz now uses their front label to announce many of their initiatives and promotions. It has become something that consumers are used to seeing – and reading.
A fun campaign they started running in 2019 with Ed Sheeran includes a pack label change of course, from Tomato Ketchup to Edchup!
The accompanying TVC ad shows Sheeran adding ketchup to a dish in an exclusive restaurant. While it is funny, I am not sure the anguish many will feel watching it is positive. What do you think?
Ground Coffee: Ground coffee packs have started using valves to enable potential purchasers to smell the coffee before they buy it. This reminds me of the scratch patches that appeared on household and some personal care products in the nineties.
All these ideas recognise the importance of the perfume or aroma of their product to their customers and thus help attracting hesitant purchasers to buy.
Although not an example of communicating by text, it is still getting the message across to the consumer, this time by using aroma.
These are just six examples of companies using their packaging more creatively. There are many others. If you have a favourite example then please share it in the comments below.
If you’re not confident that your packs are optimised to connect with your customers, why not get us to run a pack audit? We will review all your packs and discuss how you can make them more customer centric. Communicating with your customers when they have time to listen, as they use your product, is one of the most effective and under-utilised channels.
People are willing to help you
Creative messaging needn’t be limited to packaging of course. I first came across this incredibly simple solution for gathering customer feedback in a Geneva airport toilet (restroom).
That was almost ten years ago, and these smiley feedback button terminals seem to be popping up everywhere these days, including airport security, retail and restaurants.
Now while some may criticise the idea because feedback requires context, it is said that a single “Happy or Not” terminal can register thousands of votes a day. Because it takes little time, doesn’t involve a questionnaire or signup, it is essentially a “frictionless” experience for the customer. As a result, it attracts opinions from people of all different backgrounds, and can also be analysed in real-time.
The appearance of such terminals has become so commonplace, it shows how instant customer feedback has become a necessity in so many industries.
What I like about it, is the terminal’s simplicity, it’s fun look, and its lack of invasion of customer’s time in providing their feedback.
Our customers’ time is valuable and we should respect it. In return, the information we provide to them must be relevant and useful; something they would like to know, not (just) something we want to tell them.
We also need to be careful to connect only when invited. If we’re not, then we need to find other ways to provide information that a customer can access when they want it. This is why social media has become such an important element of the communications plan. However, packaging has not, as yet, met with the same level of consideration.
Our customers’ attention is constantly pulled in all directions today, with thousands of messages pushed at them, from so many channels. Capturing their attention is more likely to be successful when they are open to learning about your product, that is to say, when they are buying or actually using it. It therefore makes good business sense to use packaging more creatively; wouldn’t you agree?
I’d like to finish with a suggestion of a fun exercise you can do both alone or as a team. Have a look at your packs right now and assume the only things you know about the brand are from this. What conclusions would you draw from it?
For more information on the support we can provide in product innovation and branding, please check out our website here: https://bit.ly/3Q6OIYz
This post is regularly updated and expanded from the original published on C3Centricity.
Many of you know that it is vital to continuously improve your customer centricity. You must put the customer clearly at the heart of your business in everything you do. But that’s easier said than done, because your customers are constantly changing.
I think that’s why many businesses struggle to improve their customer centricity, because they don’t know where to start. Am I right? If so, then this article is especially for you.
This week I want to share ten simple actions to accelerate your organisation along its path to improved customer centricity.
#1 Review the description of your target audience
Let’s start at the very beginning – with the customer of course!
Do all your brands have a clear description of their target audience? These days we tend to refer to these as personas or avatars. Whatever you call yours, they should be precise, detailed and ideally visual as well.
If you haven’t yet developed your persona, or you know it is not as complete as it could be, why not use our new C3Centricity 4W™ Persona Template? Complete the who, what, where and why for each of your brands and finally understand who you are aiming to attract.
I suggest you also complete one for your company if it appears predominantly on your packaging or communications. I did this for a client and found that some of their brands were positioning themselves in opposition to their company image. As you can imagine, this was getting them nowhere and in fact damaging both their brand and their company image!
Include in your own persona template not only demographics and consumption / purchasing habits, but also information about where your customers do these things, what values they have that you can tap into, and what emotions motivate them to use your brand.
If your current persona doesn’t include all this information, it is probably time to update it – and why not with our 4W™ template?
#2 Optimise how you connect with your customers
Do you know the best way to contact your target customers, as well as their preferred place and time to connect? You should after completing your updated persona template.
Review how you communicate with your customer and what information exchange there is at that time. Is it a one-way or two-way discussion? Are you in a monologue or a dialogue?
Obviously the second communication style is what you should be aiming for. You can learn far more about your customers when they are ready to share their information with you. And that comes when they trust you to keep their data safe and know that you only collect what you need to give them a superior experience. Make sure that’s what you are doing.
Do you know what needs your customer has and which of them you are tapping into?
They certainly have several needs, but you should be aiming to address only one of their needs.
If you attempt to address more than one need at the same time, and especially if they are not sequential, your customer will get confused as to what solution you are helping them solve. Clarity is definitely the name of the game when it comes to brand positioning.
Mixed brand messages on what the brand can do for your customer, will leave them perplexed. This will, in turn, reduce the likelihood that they will be convinced your offer can offer a real solution.
Knowing where your brand sits on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has one additional benefit. It can increase the success of regional and global launches by identifying groups and cultures with similar levels of a specific need.
#4 Make your customers everyone’s responsibility
Who in your organisation is thinking about your customers? Is customer care only on the objectives of one or two departments? Perhaps you think it’s only for the customer service employees or merchandisers and promoters to do.
It should, in fact, be on everyone’s annual objectives. Each employee should get the chance to watch, listen and engage with your customers on a regular basis. This will help them to understand how their work fits into the company’s overall objective to not only satisfy but to delight customers too.
Every employee has a role to play in customer centricity and connecting with the customers on a frequent basis and sharing experiences across departments will ensure that they understand this.
We have all had a lot of new experiences in the past few years: the covid pandemic, the war in Europe, dramatic climate changes to name just a few. So how has your business coped? Many companies have gone out of business because they never prepared for such events.
Now while many of recent events were unthinkable, and accepting that it’s impossible to prepare for any and every situation, thinking about the impossible can make your business more resilient.
So how have you prepared your business and protected its planned expansion? Do you know how future events may impact it and what you would do in each situation? How would you react to new laws, new customer demands, or their new sensitivities such as ecology, sourcing of ingredients?
It is obviously far better to plan for such events before they happen, so that you can quickly react to challenges as well as opportunities. That’s why I am such a big fan of plausible future scenario planning. By thinking the unthinkable, even if they never happen, you will have thought through your responses and actions which will certainly be useful to cope with future events that do occur.
#6 Review how customer centric your plans are
Are your customers clearly identified and described in your plans, as well as the customers of your major competitors? Do people know who they are targeting with each brand product and service offer? Obviously developing a persona is the most valuable first step, but there is more you can do.
Review your plans and consider how your customers will react to each of your planned actions; not just the outcomes you are hoping for, but a true detailed analysis based upon your understanding of them and their desires.
Have you planned any actions to surprise and delight them? Or are you relying on the “same old” activities, copy / pasted from last year? You’d be amazed how many marketing plans remain practically the same for years and years, with no thought given to improving them! Your customers are changing so your plans need to reflect this.
You see, people today get bored very quickly and expect better than they were previously offered in most things – communications, promotions, products and services.
Also, if you’re not careful you can actually “train” your customers to anticipate your actions. This results in a declining interest in what you are offering and even a change in habits when yours become too predictable. Many categories have witnessed customers planning to only purchase brands when they are on promotion, as a result of too frequent and regular or seasonal discounts their customers have come to expect.
That’s why you must plan at least one unexpected WOW action each year, so your customers remain surprised and delighted.
Just as I encourage you to rethink your tactics and actions, I also want you to rethink how you innovate.
Are you blocked in an innovation box, relying on your internal technical expertise and skills? If you understand your customers well, you can offer them new products and services that will be more successful, because you know what will surprise and delight them, what their needs and desires really are.
For example why not innovate by adding sensorial experiences to the brands you already offer? This will distinguish them from the competition and give an additional reason for your customers to buy. Consider adding sound to taste, colour to services, touch to packaging, aromas to retail displays.
With the decline in differentiation today, give your customers more reasons to stay with you and they will become loyal advocates.
If you regularly run copy-testing and communications analyses, I can feel your shock as you read this suggestion! But why not review the process you use to develop your advertising? I bet you are running on habit rather than thoughtful advertising development. Am I right?
If you spent more time and resources reviewing how to connect with your customers, and then tested early stage work up-stream with them, you would be more likely to develop winners.
This process would also reduce or totally replace your usual last-minute tests just before airing them, when in most cases it is already too late to change anything. You are then forced to launch what you know to be inferior communications and relaunch the improved version at a later date. I am sure you have noticed this from other brands, no? Customers notice this too.
#9 Define your image
Your brand has an image but it might not be what you think it is!
Make sure you are measuring each of your brand’s images at least annually and not only on the attributes that you want to perform well on.
Review and update the attributes you use to measure the perceptions of your category and ensure you rate what is (also) important to your customers, not just to you.
Attributes that cover both your competitors’ strengths and the total category will provide a much more thorough understanding of your own image, its strengths and opportunities for improvement. You might even find a new or adapted positioning that no-one else is currently occupying!
#10 Update your KPI’s
You know that well-used phrase “what gets measured gets managed” Well, are you measuring what needs managing or only the metrics that you can easily gather?
If you know your customers well, who they are, what they do, what they think of you and your competitors, and then compare this data to where you want to take your brand, the metrics you need to be measuring become evident.
Far too many organisations run their business using financial and sales-based metrics, which gives an incomplete view of the company. Add customer metrics too, such as communications, engagement, product ratings, and you will get a near 360 degree view of where you are today. Then you’ll be ready to take actions that will have the most impact.
I hope this list has helped you to define a few areas that need revision in your organisation. Even actioning just one of them will improve your customer centricity. Of course completing them all will ensure that your customer is really at the heart of your business, as well as in the hearts of all your employees.
If you would like to know just how customer centric you are today, why not complete the C3C Evaluator™ assessment tool? It will help you to identify where you are today, as well as how to prioritise any needed changes in your organisation, to get you to where you want to be.
If you’d like some help or further ideas about making your organisation more customer centric, please contact us here:
Marketing is an old profession. It’s been around for hundreds of years in one form or another. But with the advent of digital in the early 80’s, companies began taking a serious look at their marketing strategies.
Many organisations realised that it was time for a major overhaul of their primarily outbound strategies. Consumers no longer appreciated being interrupted in their daily lives, if they ever did! Marketing had to find ways to stimulate more inbound engagements, but how?
However, after trying multiple inbound marketing strategies, they find that they are still irritating their customers with spammy emails, intrusive pop-ups and over-complicated cookies, that gather far more information than most organisations will ever need or use. At least those will soon be a thing of the past!
Many large CPG companies, such as P&G, Coca-Cola and Nestle, have changed the name of their Marketing departments in the past twenty years, to Brand Building. They hoped that it would revive sales and give new vitality to their communications to better engage their customers in the new social world. But most failed miserably, because they remained very much in a state of business as usual. They continued with the same processes and mind-sets. And with few exceptions, they prioritised thoughts about themselves and their brands, and rarely took their customers’ perspective.
A more recent change is bringing more marketing tasks in-house, as P&G has done. Read more here. While this certainly saves a considerable part of their budget, the biggest advantage from my perspective, is that these companies automatically learn more about their customers’ behaviour. When you are planning communication campaigns and deciding on ad spend, you need to understand where your customers are and when they are most open to receiving your messages. That for me is far more valuable than any savings on agency costs. What do you think?
Even without making such a drastic move, many other consumer goods companies have realised that to satisfy the consumer they had to do things differently. They were the ones that moved to customer centricity. Or to be exact they started on their journey towards putting the customer at the heart of their businesses. Customer centricity is not a destination, because consumers are constantly changing and their satisfaction never lasts for long. It is a journey where you are accompanying your customers with the aim to satisfy and delight them, however they change.
One of the issues that has been created by marketing is that I believe we have taught our customers far too well! They understand a lot more about “marketing” than they used to. They understand that companies have marketing plans, all too often repeated with few changes from one year to the next. As a result they have regular promotions, so our customers understand this and just wait for the next price offs before buying, whenever they can.
Our customers also realise that advertising highlights changes that in reality don’t exist between brands other than in terms of image. In today’s world, products and services have become more and more similar from one company to another. Their format, colour or perfume may differ, but there are strong similarities in their performance and benefits.
That’s why consumers now often have a portfolio of brands from which they choose in many categories. They are far less likely to be loyal to only one brand than they used to be. Just take a look at these statistics from the US.
What this research also highlights is a change in shopping behaviour, far more complex than just moving purchases online. Customers are open to changing and have become far more comfortable with adapting to new ideas.
They now expect constant innovation which becomes difficult to satisfy, since they quickly adjust to the once novel idea and start searching for the next big improvement. According to Accenture’s “Customer 2020: Are You Future-Ready or Reliving the Past?” almost a half of consumers believe that they are more likely to switch brands today compared to just ten years ago!
In response to these ever more savvy customers, marketing has to change. In the 2015 Korn Ferry CMO Pulse Report, it confirmed that marketers need new skills and can no longer rely on creativity alone.
In their 2020 update, they mention that their biggest challenge is the gap in talent, especially when it comes to analytics and marketing operations. Data is vital to customer understanding so if they can’t turn their customer information into knowledge and insight, they will never become truly customer centric.
If you’re interested in up-skilling your own team, then C3Centricity provides fun training course, both online and in-person, 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; unlike most other training organisations, C3Centricity NEVER delivers off-the-shelf, standardised trainings!
Are You Customer Centric?
Companies that place their customers at the heart of their business, are easy to recognise. Their websites are filled with useful information, entertaining videos and engaging games. Their contact pages provide many alternative ways for customers to reach out to them, rather than the less appealing reason menu and message box that seems to disappears into hyperspace! Their advertising is emotional, with the customer and not the brand as the hero. They involve their customers in many aspects of their business.
And if you’re not sure how good your customer centricity is, just take a look at your own website and then complete our free quiz C3C Evaluator™.
Moving Beyond Brand Building
Whether you are still doing marketing or have already moved to brand building, here are some ideas that you can use to help you quickly move forward on your journey to greater customer centricity:
1. Place pictures of consumers everywhere, so people start to naturally think about them. This can be in your office reception, on the lift doors, other places where many employees spend time like the coffee machine or water fountain, or restaurant waiting and eating areas. You can also add representative images of real customer photos to the front of your reports, and at the beginning and end of presentations. The more employees see pictures of the customer, the more they will think about them and what it takes to delight them.
2. Whenever you take a decision, ask yourself this one magic question: “What would our consumers think about the decision we have just taken?” If you believe that they would disagree, then you should reconsider your options.
Asking this simple question and check after every decision will avoid such practices as hiding price increases by reducing pack content without telling the consumer. Or asking credit card details for the use of a “free” trial, in the hope that the customer will forget and be automatically charged for a service they may not want. For more examples of how companies “cheat” their customers read “How to cheat the customer-or not!”
3. Review the structure and content of your website in minute detail. If there are more “we’s” than “you’s” then you know what to do. And while you’re online, check out your contact page for possible improvement opportunities, as detailed above. Is there a reason for your customers to stay longer and return, or will their visit be a fleeting connection unable to build a relationship?
4. Take a look at your target consumer description or persona / avatar. When was it last updated? Customers are changing opinions and behaviours at an ever increasing rate, so you need to be with them if not ahead of them, if you want to satisfy their changing needs. If you don’t even have a written document clearly describing them, then use C3Centricity’s 4W™ Template until you develop your own. (you can download it for free HERE)
5. Examine your advertising and communications. Who is the hero in them, your brand or your customer? Consider developing concepts that are more customer centric, by making use of your understanding of them and their emotional triggers.
6. If you are lucky enough to have retail outlets, spend time with your front-line staff and talk to them as well as to your customers. Make use of call centres, in-store promotions and merchandisers to talk to your customers, as well as to the employees who connect with them. They will certainly be able to tell you a lot more about your customers than you yourself know. Then add all the information to your persona description and review your future promotions for any improvements you could make to better satisfy and even delight your customers.
7. Share your latest knowledge about your customers with everyone in the company. This can be through weekly or monthly newsletters with up-to-date learnings from research projects. Or summaries of what your customers are reaching out to your customer services department about. Help every employee to understand the role they play in satisfying the customer. Make them fans of your customers and you will never have to worry about such questionable practices as those mentioned in #2 above.
These are your seven starter tasks for moving from marketing and brand building, to a more customer centric approach to customer satisfaction and delight. Every single one of them has your customer at the heart of them. Are they any others that you’d like to add? I know you can come up with many more ideas than I can on my own, so please share them below in the comments and let your knowledge shine!
If you’d like more suggestions about moving to a new-age, customer-first marketing approach, please check out my book “Winning Customer Centricity“. You’ll see it’s like no other business book you have ever seen! Then you will understand why numerous major CPG / FMCG companies follow its roadmap annually. It’s fun, inspiring and a useful way to track your customer centric journey.
And as I said earlier, if you’re interested in up-skilling your team, then we can provide fun course on many areas of customer centricity, both online and offline. Download our training brochure now and contact us so we can discuss your precise needs. All our trainings are personalised to meet your specific requirements; no off-the-shelf trainings are ever given.
We all know that adopting a customer-first strategy is essential for business growth and profitability. However, customer centricity has become even more important today, as a result of all the changes in our customers’ behaviour following the global covid lockdown. We are now even more impatient and demanding of businesses, and quick to complain publicly when things go wrong, or rather when we are not totally satisfied.
All companies need to put their customers clearly at the heart of their organisation. But I know that many struggle, even in more normal times, to be customer centric. They just don’t know where to start. Am I right? If you’re in this situation yourself, then this article is for you. In it I share ten simple actions to accelerate your organisation along its path to an improved customer-first strategy.
#1 Review & Revise the Description of your Target Audience
Do all your brands have a clear description of their target audience? These days we tend to speak about personas or avatars.
Is it as complete as it should be? If not, then regular readers will know about and probably use the C3Centricity 4W™ template for storing all this information. You can download it and get the accompanying workbook for free here.
In your avatar, you must include not only your customers’ demographics and consumption / purchasing habits, but also information about where they do these things, what values they have that you can tap into and what emotions motivate them to purchase and use your brand.
#2 Assess the Optimum Way of Connecting with Your Customers
Do you know the best way to contact your target customers, as well as their preferred place and time to connect?
Review how you communicate with your customers and what information exchange there is at that time. Is it one-way or two? Are you in a monologue or a dialogue?
Obviously the second is what it should be. You can learn far more about your customers by listening, especially when they are ready to share their information with you.
Do you know what needs your customer has and which of them you are tapping into?
They certainly have more than one need, but you must identify and address only one at a time.
If you attempt to address more than one and especially if they are not sequential, your customer may be confused.
Mixed brand messages on what the brand can do for them, will leave your customers perplexed. This will, in turn, reduce the likelihood that they will be convinced your offer can meet their needs and objectives.
Knowing where your brand sits on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has one additional benefit. It can increase the success of regional and global launches by identifying cultures with similar levels of a specific need.
Is customer care only on the objectives of one or two departments in your organisation? Perhaps it’s only for the care centre employees or merchandisers to do.
It should, in fact, be on everyone’s annual objectives, to watch, listen and engage with your customers regularly. This will help them to understand how their work fits into the company’s objective to satisfy and delight the customer. It will also increase a more customer-centric approach to work in general.
Every employee has a role to play in customer centricity and connecting with the customers on a frequent basis and sharing experiences with colleagues will ensure that everyone understands this.
Do you know where your business is going? Do you know what might happen in the future and what you would do in different situations? How would you react to new laws, new customer demands, or their new sensitivities such as ecology, sustainability, sourcing or ingredients?
It is better to plan for such events before they happen, so that you can quickly react to challenges as well as possible opportunities.
I am in favour of developing plausible future scenarios, rather than merely following trends. Why? Because everyone follows trends, so they provide no competitive advantage. However, by developing scenarios, they will be unique to your organisation and provide a clear path to answer all possible future opportunities and threats.
#6 Review Your Business Plans for Customer Centricity
Are your customers clearly identified and described in your plans? What about the customers of your major competitors?
Review your plans by considering how your customers will react to each of your scheduled actions. Not just the outcomes you are hoping for, but a true detailed analysis, based upon your understanding of them and their desires.
Have you planned any actions to surprise and delight them, or are you only relying on the “same old” activities, repeated from year to year?
People get bored quickly so they could become immune to repetitive offers. Some brands can also “train” their customers to expect their promotions because they have become too predictable. Their customers then wait for the promotions before purchasing, often in quantity. They may also eventually become less interested in the offers as they become perceived as of a decreasing value. Plan at least one unexpected WOW action each year to shake up your customers and make them take notice in a fresh, new way.
Are you caged in an innovation box, relying on your internal technical and expert skills? If you know your customers well, you can offer them more successful innovations, perhaps through additional sensorial experiences.
Consider adding sound to taste, colour to services, touch to packaging, aromas to retail displays. Give your customers more reasons to stay with you and they will become more loyal.
I can feel your shock as you read this, but why not review your process for the development of your communications?
If you spent more time and resources reviewing how to connect with your customers, and then reviewed early-stage work up-stream with them, you would be more likely to develop winners.
It would also reduce or totally replace your usual test protocol of testing just before airing. In this case it is usually too late to change anything and you will be forced to air a less than optimal advertisement, while you work on a revised edition.
#9 Define Your Image
Your brand has an image but it might not be what you think it is. Make sure you are measuring it regularly and not only on the attributes that you ideally want to perform well on. You need to include attributes important to your competitors, as well as to the category in general.
I so often see biassed attribute lists which, while providing exaggerated, over-positive images, lull companies into a false sense of security. When you are not measuring what is important for your competitors, you will always come out on top.
Another advantage of using a wider range of attributes is that the coverage of the total category will be more complete and you may even find a new or adapted positioning that no-one else is currently occupying.
You know that what gets measured gets managed. Well, are you measuring what needs managing or only the metrics you can easily gather?
If you know your customers well, who they are, what they do, what they think of you and your competitors, and then compare these to where you want to take your brand, the metrics you need to be measuring become evident.
Too many organisations rely on financial KPIs alone. Make sure you are not one of them, by adding metrics to cover customer awareness, satisfaction and perception as a minimum.
I hope this list has helped you to identify a few areas that need revision in your organisation. Actioning even just one of them will improve your customer centricity and your profitability too (according to research).
Of course completing them all will ensure that your customer is really at the center of your business, as well as in the hearts of your employees.
If you would like to know just how customer centric you are, complete the C3C Evaluator™ assessment. The mini-version is free! The Evaluator™ will help you to identify where you are today as well as how to prioritise any needed changes in your organisation.
The title of this week’s post might surprise you. After all, the hospitality industry should be highly customer centric, as it relies on satisfying its guests.
However, it can learn a lot from consumer packaged goods (FMCG/CPG), as I shared with industry experts at a Faculty Day of one of the leading hospitality schools in Switzerland. Having spent most of my career in consumer goods, I was invited to share what the hospitality industry could learn from the industry. From the reactions at the end of my talk it seems that the answer is a lot!
It might surprise you, but the two industries have a number of similarities. They both (should) have their customers at their heart. And they are both founded on pleasing and hopefully delighting their clients in the quality of the products and services they offer.
During my presentation, I shared many ideas; here are a few of the points I covered:
#1. From ROI / ROR to ROE
There has been a lot of discussion in the past few years about the need to move from a return on investment to a return on relationships. While I agree with the importance of relationships, I believe that what we should be talking about is engagement. Despite many books touting the need for our customers to “Love” our brands, in reality, I’m not sure that any of us want to have a deep relationship with brands.
The relationship is based on more than just the brand. It is founded on trust and confidence in the product, the brand’s website and their engaging communications. Think Coca Cola and Red Bull as great examples of this.
#2. Build Relationships with Strangers
The hospitality industry is based on serving and satisfying its guests. But in today’s connected world it also needs to consider people who are currently strangers – but could potentially become guests. These may include the friends of past guests, who have heard about the hotel or restaurant and are interested in visiting it for themselves.
One good example of this, but I know many hotels are also doing it, is the Rosewood Mayakoba resort in Mexico. This wonderful hotel encourages its guests to photograph their experiences during their stay at the resort and then to post them on Facebook.
This not only provides free publicity for the hotel, but also enables it to start engaging future guests before they even arrive. In addition, the posts will certainly have a positive influence on website visitors. And the guests who publish their photos, will have an even stronger positive impact on their friends and followers. After all, they will more than likely have similar tastes and desires.
#3. Value is more Important than Price
Having additional control of our lives today, means that customers are re-evaluating what they are offered. They have higher expectations and are more discerning in their choices. They expect recognition at every touchpoint, even if in reality their decisions are influenced by their peers, more than by traditional marketing.
In addition, the internet enables us to compare multiple offers, so we are far less interested in bundled propositions than we once were. Today we often prefer to decide what is best value for us personally, by buying individual elements for our very personalised vacations. For example, we may overspend on experiences and then choose a more modest hotel and car rental. Each buyer will make choices upon their individual value perceptions.
#4. Renovation is more than Buildings
Most CPG companies have annual targets for Innovation & Renovation, sometimes 30% or more of annual revenue. They also have mid-term innovation pipelines which can include partnerships in joint ventures with what were previously only competitors. These help each partner, by building on their individual talents and enabling them to develop better products and services.
To improve customer centricity in hospitality, innovation can no longer be purely physical or rational; we need to consider more emotional and relational ways to satisfy. The Rosewood Mayakoba resort, already mentioned above, is one good example of this; check the link to see the latest photos published on their Facebook page.
The Art Series Hotels are another example of how well they excel at understanding their guests. Their unique offer is called Art Series Overstay Checkout, and means that if no guest is checking into your room the next day, you can stay a few extra hours or even days for free.
#5. Loyalty is never really Won
One of the reasons that I believe we need to work on building engagement and in all industries, not just hospitality, is because customer demands are constantly evolving. What satisfied them yesterday can bore or even disappoint today.
To acquire and retain our customers, we need to be constantly upgrading our products and services, so that they will be surprised and delighted. This also means that loyalty is much less long-term than in the past and lifetime value is now measured in months or a few years, rather than in decades.
In today’s connected world, customers want a say in not only what they consume, but also where, when and how they are marketed to. They want the chance to inform companies about what they want to buy and expect a rapid resolution to any queries or complaints they may have.
According to a recent Edison Research, 20% of respondents expect a company to answer to their social media posts within 15 minutes, 42% within the hour! That means that 24/7 monitoring for all organisations is now essential if we are not to disappoint are most engaged customers.
These are just six of the many ideas I shared during my presentation. If you are interested in seeing the full talk, you can find it on SlideShare here.
Are you struggling to improve your own customer centricity? Whatever people-facing industry you are in, we would welcome the chance to support and catalyse your efforts. Please check out our website for more information on our training and consulting offers, and then contact us here.
This post was first published on C3Centricity in 2013 and has been regularly updated since.
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!
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.
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.
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.
I 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.
One recent challenge for Amazon is the claimed increase in fake reviews. I myself was once asked to give a five-star rating in return for a total reimbursement of the cost of the product. Needless to say, I immediately returned the item and informed Amazon.
This practice seems to be particularly common for articles coming from China, although I am sure it is becoming a widespread behaviour as companies realise the importance of high customer ratings. In fact, there are now even platforms for checking the validity of reviews, so hopefully things will improve in the near term. If you would like to learn more on the topic, then I suggest you read this great article on cnet.
Just like Amazon, Zappos too has made customer centricity the heart of their business. 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.
Steve 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 organisations would look different if we used these same criteria!
The final example I want to share is from the UK and shows how even retail can become an essential part of delighting the customer. The brand is Brompton Bikes, a folding, city bike.
They understand that it is no longer sufficient to provide an excellent product and an easy way to buy them or to order online. Brompton have realised that their retail outlet needs to be an integral part of the brand experience, if they want to not only satisfy, but delight their customers.
Now while that may not in itself be that new, Nike and other trainer brands have been doing this for a while, it is the first time I have seen it done for durable goods.
What Brompton have done particularly well, is to understand their urban buyers’ lifestyle. They have been able to become an integral part of it, by not only providing transport, but also an easy way to buy accessories, get repairs done and even to park safely while their customers visit the adjacent shopping mall. In other words they have made their brand a solution for city dwellers.
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 becoming ever more difficult to do this these days, it is definitely worth the effort in order to build their loyalty.
Touch the customer emotionally so your product or service resonates with them. Brompton have achieved this by deeply understanding the lifestyle of their customers. 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.”
Strivefor better in everything you do, Never be satisfied 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 your products and services 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.
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?
Examples of exceptional customer experience can come from anywhere! You know that. You keep your eyes and ears open and find inspiration everywhere. So do I.
But last week, I had the fright of my life. I returned from visiting my family over the festive season, with an ever-increasing pain in my lower back.
OK, so sitting all day is not good for my posture. I suppose I deserve to finally pay for all the hours I spend in front of a screen every day.
Anyway, it got so bad that I visited the doctor on Wednesday, who gave me painkillers, anti-inflammatories and a muscle relaxant. I took them all that evening, but when I got up the following morning, I fainted from a sudden intense pain. A half hour later I managed to crawl out of bed to take my pills, then hobbled back again to wait until they took effect.
A couple of hours later when I tried to get up, I again fainted with the pain, but now also had the new sensation of an explosive flame which shot down my back to my right foot! I was totally immobilised in three seconds flat!
I was in agony, so all I could do was to return to my bed. However, the mattress no longer offered any relief and I whimpered like a tortured animal as I suffered continuously from these now double injuries.
Living alone I realised that this was serious. Luckily my mobile was by my bed so I called the emergency services who immediately sent an ambulance. All this to say that I ended up spending a night in a hospital for only the second time in my life.
However, the story doesn’t end there. Two days later I fell down the stairs as my leg had become partially paralysed. Another visit to the emergency room, an ankle brace fitted, a consultant’s assessment, an MRI scan and finally emergency surgery the following day.
All these experiences of hospitals and doctors gave me the superb opportunity to see the health service from the patient’s perspective. I work a lot with the Pharma industry but luckily never became a patient, until now.
As you probably know, becoming your customer and seeing the market from their perspective is one of the exercises I suggest to better understand your customers. How often do you do it? Ever?!!
I learnt a lot about how to excel at customer experience from all my visits. Surprisingly, many of the practices of the nurses and doctors that I witnessed in my heavily sedated state, are easily transferable to any business. This is why I decided to share them with you.
So here are my seven learnings about excellence in customer experience:
1. Introduce yourself
Every time someone came to my room, they introduced themselves and explained why they were there. As the first establishment, I stayed in was a University Hospital, there were tens if not hundreds of staff on duty, so I rarely saw the same person twice over the 24 hour period I was there. I appreciated that they themselves always started by introducing themselves and stating what their responsibility was in caring for me.
How you can apply this idea: In business, we often forget to introduce people in meetings and when we do, we forget to explain their responsibilities, why they are there.
Perhaps if we did this, there would be far fewer people in meetings, as only those with a real reason to be there would attend! That already is a money-saver.
Direct contacts with customers, whether by phone, email, chat, social media or in person, deserve the same detailed introduction. This moves the connection from a somewhat cold, professional exchange, to something far more friendly and personal, if not actually personalised.
How do we so easily forget that customer service is after all just two people connecting and engaging for mutual benefit? (>>Tweet this<<)
2. Confirm that you know me
Although I myself saw many different specialists in the first hospital, it made no difference to how I was treated. I felt comfortable that my details had been transferred between the staff members, so they didn’t have to ask me to repeatedly explain what had happened. They also always started by checking my name, to make sure they were speaking with the right person.
How you can apply this idea: While I accept that checking names and wearing wristbands are essential in a medical environment, most businesses could benefit from confirming who their customers are.
Whether by careful targeting for marketing purposes or by reviewing notes of previous interactions with customer services, a company needs to immediately recognise a (returning) customer. (>>Tweet this<<)
Have you never been frustrated to call a company only to be asked to explain who you are and why you’re calling? I know I have. It always makes me feel that the organisation doesn’t really care about me. And with automation systems easily available today, there is no excuse for this sort of lack of knowledge.
Personalisation has become essential in all engagements between companies and their customers. In fact, this is one of the most important uses of Big Data, both now and for the foreseeable future.
3. Ask if I am happy/comfortable
Whatever the reason was for the medical practitioner to see me, they always asked if I was comfortable. They openly encouraged me to share any negative thoughts, feelings or sensations I was experiencing.
How you can apply this idea: Do you encourage critique of your ideas from your colleagues? It takes a strong and confident person to constantly put themselves up for criticism. Too many people look (only) for positive support when asking for opinions, rather than a truly constructive assessment.
Many years ago, one of my first bosses mentioned that when he asked for opinions in a meeting, it was me he listened to the most. Why? Well, not because I knew more than my colleagues. No; it was because I said what I really thought, not what I believed he wanted to hear. Although he didn’t always agree with what I said, he knew that what I said was what I was truly feeling.
Over the years, I came to realise that he was one of a dying breed of true leaders. Many organisations today are political hothouses, where supporting the boss is the only way to keep one’s job!
According to a Gallup study, around 50% of employees leave their company to get away from their bosses. (>>Tweet this<<) If you’re in such a situation today my advice is to GET OUT NOW! You will more than likely end up leaving one way or the other, so why waste your time with a boss who lacks leadership skills? You’ll get the support you deserve and also need to grow, elsewhere.
And what about your customers? Do you encourage them to share complaints and ideas? Why not? It’s much better to know what’s wrong and put it right quickly than to continue in blissful ignorance until your customers leave.
According to“Understanding Customers” by Ruby Newell-Legner, you are unlikely to hear from more than just a fraction of dissatisfied customers. Therefore it makes sense to not only pay attention to complaints but actively search them out – before they damage your business.
4. Ask if you can do more
As anyone who has been to the emergency room of a hospital knows, patience is important. You don’t get seen by order of arrival, but by the importance of ailment. In other words, if your problem is not life-threatening, you will pass after the road accident, whose victim is more seriously injured. I know this and was happy to actually be left to “float” in a drug-induced relaxation between staff visits.
Whenever they woke me up to “check my vitals” or to inform me of the next tests or treatment planned, they always finished by asking if I had any questions or needed anything else. I was made to feel that nothing was too small or unimportant to them if it made me feel more relaxed and comfortable.
Business, therefore, can no longer afford to merely satisfy their customers, they need to delight them. Do you ask both yourself and your customers what more you can do for them? If you do, you might just find a new product or service concept that answers their desires and get ahead of the competition.
5. Don’t stop before the end
When I was admitted for surgery, I was told that the average stay was between 6 and 12 days in a hospital. Having thought I was there for just a day or two, this came as quite a shock.
As my progress after the operation was good, I expected to leave the clinic within five days. (I always want to be better than average!) However, with the added complication of the torn ligaments in my ankle, the professor had other ideas. I ended up spending ten days there and am now on a month of complete rest before starting physio!
How you can apply this idea: As the well-known Napolean Hill quote goes
“Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure.”
Some people are great at ideation; perhaps you’re one of them. However, ideation without action is just day-dreaming. (>>Tweet this<<) Therefore don’t think your job is done when you’ve come up with an idea or two. You need to follow up to turn the ideas into action.
Entrepreneurship is very popular today for both individuals and even within large corporations. However so many entrepreneurs try an idea and when it doesn’t immediately work, they give it up for a different one.
Yes, there have been many huge successes recently, but most “overnight” success have come from years of just plain hard work and dedication.
Therefore “plan the work and work the plan.” (>>Tweet this<<)
Today’s world is one of constant change, so don’t forget to be flexible and adapt to the changing circumstances of the market or your brand. But don’t give up either. Just because one part of the plan didn’t work doesn’t warrant throwing out the whole thing.
6. Don’t wait until it’s urgent
As I tried to wean myself off the painkillers, I found myself alternating between extreme pain and none whatsoever. The carers told me that while it’s a good objective to reduce drug usage as quickly as possible, it is counter productive to not take painkillers when they’re needed.
By my deciding to “wait and see” if the pain got worse before asking for medication, I found that the drugs became less effective.
Small, slow steps work better than giant leaps in so many areas because they are sustainable. Think New Year’s resolutions, like crash diets, new fitness regimes, or changes in lifestyle habits. It’s the small, almost imperceptible changes that tend to last and lead to success.
How you can apply this idea: So many adjustments in business involve making significant changes, whether cultural or process-wise. As the well-known saying goes:
“The best way to eat an elephant is one slice at a time.”
Therefore when introducing large changes within your organisation, break them down into more “humanly” manageable steps.
Want to become more customer centric? Then start with one small step like building your brand personas. (You can download the C3Centricity template for doing thisHERE)
Want to make a radical change in one of your processes? Then it is often more effective to start by modifying the beginning and the end of the process. The middle steps then adapt automatically as new needs are identified.
For example, in updating your innovation process, start with better identifying the target customers and their needs. Then look how the launch will be rolled out and monitored. You will then realise that brainstorming in a vacuum or testing multiple concepts just before launch is no longer effective. These parts of the process will then be adapted to the new demands.
Find out more about our I3: Improved Ideation & Innovation 1-Day Catalyst Training HERE.
7. It all starts and ends with the customer
During my hospital and clinic stays I realised that they were there for me, not vice versa. I am extremely independent and had to learn to accept the help of others even for some of the most intimate actions. It was “normal” for them, but not for me. They recognised that and did everything they could to make me feel at ease. From being there just when I needed them, to eclipsing to leave me alone when I needed space, the staff knew that it was I who was important.
How you can apply this idea: Take a look at your website, your communications, your plans; do they all start and end with the customer?
Do you publish content your customers want to read, or just what you want to tell them? Does your contact information include every possible way a customer can connect with you or just a static form and drop-down menu?
Are your communications relevant and emotionally validating for your customers?
Do your plans mention the customer as often as the brand? Remember:
“There may be customers without brands, but there are no brands without customers.”
Do they also show images of customers and include extensive knowledge and understanding about them?
For more ideas about improving your customer understanding, why not join the FREE Customer Centricity Champions Webinar? It shares many tips, tools and templates to catalyse your business and improve your customer understanding immediately.
So there you have them. The seven lessons I learnt about excellence in customer experience from my recent stays in various hospitals. As you can see they are all relevant to almost any business environment and industry, whether B2B or B2C.
Let me know what you think and whether you have found learnings from your experiences in other situations. The world is full of inspiration if we just look more closely.
Speaking of inspiration, I wanted to share with you an inspirational Infographic, which caught my eye recently. Rather than talking about customer service excellence as I did, they look at “11 Ways Bad Customer Service Is Burning Your Bottom Line.” It makes great readin and covers the wrong side of a lot of the topics I mentioned above.
Need help in identifying, connecting and engaging the very best customers for your business? Let us help you catalyse your customer centricity. Contact us here or check out our forthcoming Webinar “Customer Centricity Champions.” Reserve your slot before it’s too late!
PS If you’re wondering how I am now, I’m out of the clinic and recovering at home. I have been thinking a lot about what all these accidents mean. The right side of the body is future and personal, so obviously I’m in need of some serious revamping of my life. January seems as good a time as any to lie back and think about everything and make new plans. I hope you do it without the need for a “bodily reminder!”
I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.
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