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The Highly Effective Habits of Truly Innovative Companies

A couple of months ago I shared what I consider to be the Ten Mistakes even Great Companies Make when innovating. Whilst it is useful to have these “watch out” lists, I believe it is also beneficial to take a look at how other companies get it right.

This post was prompted by a new client who is one of those already doing innovation extremely well and yet is still looking to improve their thinking. That for me is the sign of a truly innovative company. So read on for some ideas on how you too can become great at innovating.

Set Stretch Launch Targets

Let me start by saying there is a huge difference between the quantity and quality of innovations in almost all companies. In fact I believe there is an inverse relationship between the two. Those that innovate a lot rarely do it well. I think this is because they have the pressure of meeting objectives of numbers of new launches, rather than numbers of successful launches.

What is a successful launch? For me it is meeting or beating carefully thought through and calculated objectives. Not those wishfully high numbers used to get management buy-in for the launch, nor those ridiculously low targets that everyone knows will be met even before the new product is launched. No, I mean objectives that are stretch targets but achievable with the right plan, actions and effort. In other words SMART.

Be Inspired by your Customers

There are a lot of very clever organisations, especially in the technology area, which develop incredibly innovative products. Apple is (was?) obviously one of these and until recently, was admired for its innovations. Now it has been claimed that Steve Jobs didn’t believe in market research. This is untrue. He did believe in market research, but market research done right. He didn’t ask consumers what they wanted, because he said they didn’t know. Instead he asked them what their problems were, what they dreamt about. He then showed them his answers to these and got their reactions. Even when he got his answers, he didn’t immediately start adapting products to meet these stated needs, but rather worked to underst and what consumers meant by what they asked for. As the infamous Ford quote says

“If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me a faster horse!”

Jobs didn’t build a faster tape player, or a smaller one, or a lighter one. He made “music on the go” more convenient, more accessible and above all, more fun.

Use a Flexible Approach to Idea Generation

Many companies approach innovation as a strict process. They will use something similar to the below funnel, brainstorming for a multitude of ideas that eventually get whittled down to the one or two new launches that are finally chosen.

St andard funnel used by companies lacking innovative ideas

There are many companies today offering new processes and ways of innovating, but they all come down to a finite number of alternative levers:

  • Start from your strengths and / or weaknesses
  • Start from the strengths and / or weaknesses of your competitors
  • Extend into adjacent categories
  • Extend into new channels
  • Extend into new presentations (packs, prices, communications)

They also use one of three models to reduce their number of possible choices in their selection process:

  • Start large and reduce down (the st andard “funnel” approach shown above)
  • Start small and exp and before selecting (inverse funnel approach)
  • Repeated executions of the combination of the above expansion and contraction of ideas (sometimes referred to as the accordion approach)

Whichever you decide to use, you eventually get to a decision of the one, or few, launch choices, at least in most cases. Truly innovative companies are not limited to one process or tool, and are open to idea generation from however and wherever it might come.

Make Innovation Everyone’s Responsibility

Innovation is for the privileged few in (too) many organisations today. Teams are separated off to concentrate on being “more creative” or to “bond” with R&D. However truly innovative companies use open innovation where everyone can have and share ideas about the company’s process, products and customers. In a great article on this (“ Who blocks innovation?”) Jeffrey Phillips ends with a wonderful short story:

“There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure Somebody would do it.

Anybody could have done it but Nobody did it.

Somebody got angry with that because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it but Nobody realizes that Everybody wouldn’t do it.

It ended that Everybody blamed Somebody then Nobody did what Anybody could have done”

Great companies are often great because they are very innovative. And they are very good at innovating because of three highly effective habits:

  • They set appropriate stretch targets for every new launch; good is never good enough
  • They listen to their customers, but don’t do what they say, but rather what they mean
  • They open idea generation to be inspired by a multitude of different processes, tools and above all people

Would you add another habit? Have I forgotten an important trait? Please let me know what you would add or feel free to react with your comments below.

C³Centricity used images from Dreamstime in this post.

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.

Marketing Information Lost in Translation: How to Save yourself & Rise above the Competition

A recent report I came across this week shows that 76% of marketers do not use behavioral information in either segmentation analysis or targeting. They have the data, they’re just not taking advantage of it to better identify and then satisfy their consumers. This shocked me, so I went looking for more information to clarify the situation. 

The study was conducted in late 2013 by Razorfish and Adobe amongst marketing and technology executives in the US, Canada, Germany, France and the UK. According to Pete Stein, CEO of Razorfish, the two main reasons for this lack of usage are firstly that today’s marketers are driving consumer segmentation with outdated technology, processes and tools, and secondly that there is an exponential growth in the availability of behavioral data.

In another study called “From Stretched to Strengthened” IBM reports that 71% of CMOs feel unprepared to h andle today’s “data explosion”. A third study, Domo‘s “2013 Data-driven marketing survey” found that two-thirds of marketers feel unable to h andle the volume of marketing data that’s available for analysis without feeling overwhelmed, and  concluded that there were five reasons why this is the case:

  • 69% don’t have the time to analyse it
  • 66% can’t see it integrated
  • 44% don’t have the time to collect it
  • 40% don’t have access across devices
  • 40% can’t see it in real time

These statistics suggest some interesting, no vital, changes that business intelligence / planning / market research / insight (BI) departments should make to address these needs of marketers. Once made, they would increase their perceived value and recognition, as well as that of the marketing department as well. Now that can’t be bad can it?

Here are my thoughts on each of them:

No time to analyse the data

I personally believe that if the support function (BI) was doing its job properly, marketing wouldn’t have to analyse the data. In fact I don’t think it is, nor should it be, their responsibility. Of course, this does mean that BI should be attributed with the appropriate levels of resources in both time and personnel to run the analyses and generate actionable insights.

Studies conducted every couple of years by the market research arm of the Corporate Executive Board (MREB), consistently show that world-class businesses have BI departments that have progressed from methodological experts to insight consultants, and then to knowledge synthesizers. Therefore unless you allow your team to develop in this direction, the onus for analysis will remain a challenge.

Can’t see the data integrated

Even before Big Data became a buzz word, companies have struggled to break down the internal silos of information ownership. The ever-increasing flow of data into organisations has just made the matter worse, so that it can no longer be ignored. Information integration may dem and a significant investment in both time and money, but the rewards are huge.

For example, from my own experience with clients, I have witnessed a grocery retailer increase sales by 15% whilst decreasing its promotional & discount allowances by 13%. This was achieved by simply making better use of the information they already had, and enabled them to make more relevant suggestions and offers to their customers. Airlines too are realising increased buy-in of their vacation and flight promotions, through more timely and relevant mailings to precisely segmented customer groups. That was only possible because they integrated the information from their different departments.

Don’t have time to collect the data

For me the problem is actually no longer simply not having the time to collect the data, but a rather subtle adaptation of our expectations to near real-time data availability today. We have all become less patient and this as true for the CEO, as it is for the CMO and on downwards.

Marketing must become more agile and flexible to be able to react to the latest data and adjust their actions and communications accordingly. Why continue to reward retailers with promotional pricing for items that are not flying off their shelves? The money could be better spent elsewhere, whether at a different retailer more aligned to the targeted segment, or even to another type of action.

Don’t have access across devices

Tablets set to outsell PCs in 2015It amazes me that so many people are still struggling to acknowledge that the PC is rapidly losing out to tablets. In fact, according to the International Data Corp. tablets will outsell PCs within the next year or so. IDC also says that while global smartphone sales in 2013 were up by 39% over 2012, they’re expected to grow by only around 19% this year.

However, as more smartphones get connected to cars as presented at the recent Geneva Car Show, marketers will be expecting to review their latest audience data or sales during their drive into work. It therefore makes sense to enable cross-device accessibility.

As an aside, I hope marketers also underst and what this trend means to their communication plans and how they connect with and engage their consumers.

Can’t see data in real time

With the never-ending flow of information into organisations it makes sense that marketers dem and to be able to look at the latest data in real time. Retail or audience data that is a month or even a few weeks out of date is of little use in this fast-paced world in which we live. Marketers will also expect market research to provide direct access to consumers and become less and less patient of studies that take weeks if not months to complete.

My conclusion from all of this is that the C-Suite needs to invest even more in data management for marketers and not only for the financial results to which they have become accustomed. They should not dem and the ROI of marketing without empowering marketers to be able to analyse the data available to them. What do you think?

C³Centricity used images from Microsoft and Mashable 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.

Why Marketing will Never be Replaced but What Every CMO Must Change

As businesses become more social, there have been a lot of articles about marketing. Some have spoken about the need for marketing and IT to get together, if not even merge in some way (See the Forbes article last month). Others have proclaimed the end of the CMO’s position altogether, including the infamous piece by IMD’s President Dominique Turpin last year “ The CMO is Dead ..… Welcome to the CCO”.

Then there have been even more articles challenging marketing to show their worth and suggesting metrics to prove their ROI (See  Fournaise 2011 study of 600 CEOs or Forrester’s Marketing Performance Management Survey). The fact that there have been so many different pieces on the topic over the last year or so, suggests to me that marketing is still vital for and extremely attractive to business, but that it is in desperate need of reinventing itself.

For this reason I thought I would start (or is it join?) the conversation about the future of marketing, by proposing what I think will and won’t change and what needs to, at least in my own opinion. I would love you to join the discussion by adding your own thoughts, ideas and comments in the box at the end of this post or on social media where I will be sharing it.

What will change

  • Marketing can no longer work alone in a silo; it needs to become more collaborative and more commercial or business oriented. It can no longer remain fuzzy and hide behind claims that its ROI is difficult to measure.
  • Underst anding customer service opportunitiesThe sales funnel will be (has already been) replaced by the purchase decision journey, which will be a multi-layered, flexible representation of the route to purchase. For more on this, read “ How Great Customer Service Leads to Great Customer Loyalty”.
  • Advertising and messaging TO the customer will be replaced by valuable information made available FOR the customer. In line with the longer sales journey and multiple online consultations, advertising will become more informative, more useful, more timely.
  • Local will no longer be geographic but “Native”. Whether it’s language, habits or interests, customers will be targeted on their similarities that will rarely, if ever, include geographical proximity.
  • Mobile web consulting will become the norm, so br and sites need to become adaptive. Content will aim to inform, educate and entertain first and foremost, rather than sell, and websites will become flexible and adaptive to the differing screens and customer needs.

What won’t change

  • The customer is still the king, but content joins the ranks in almost equal position, needing more respect and value, and less commoditisation. For a great post on this read “ 5 Ways Content Marketing Must Change in 2014”.
  • Recommendations will remain a vital part of choice and decision-making, but they will no longer come from just friends and family. They will come from organised collection – think TripAdvisor or Angie’s List – or from (self) proclaimed experts through their Blog posts and faithful followers.
  • Customer (consumer) underst anding remains vital and in fact the need for underst anding will even increase as customers will be in constant evolution.

What must change

  • We are all swamped with messages and information and yet – perhaps because of this – our attention span is declining. Messaging must become shorter and simpler as people use headlines to decide whether or not to stick around.
  • In addition to the increased need for informative content, it will need to engage as well as (or is it more than?) inform. Storytelling will become an essential skill for marketers, both internally and externally.
  • Wearable technology will totally change our where and when decisions of messaging. The customer will not only be in charge of what messages are received but when to be “visible” to receive them.
  • The old marketing funnel to advocacyHaving changed the sales funnel to a path to purchase, the usual loyalty funnel no longer works. The simple path from awareness to loyalty will be replaced by a constant and consistent battle for trust. What’s more it will never be truly “won” as customers continue to be fascinated by novelty.
  • Marketing can no longer depend on creativity alone. It won’t be enough, as if it ever was, and marketers will need to get (even more?) comfortable with their BigData and its usage. Customer underst anding will come from multiple sources and market researchers will become underst anding analysts responsible for turning the unstoppable flow of information into the organisation, into palatable morsels of digestible stories.

One final word about the future of marketing. Already in September, Forbes published an article entitled “ The Top 7 Online Marketing Trends that will Dominate 2014”. If you haven’t already done so, I suggest you give it a quick read, as it makes a nice, complementary piece to this more general perspective.

As you can see from the above, a lot more will change than will remain constant, and even those will need adaptation to the new world of marketing. Do you agree? I’d love to hear your thoughts, especially if you are, or aspire to the CMO role. 

If you need help in adapting to the new world of marketing, we can help, so why not contact us here  and let’s discuss your needs?

C³Centricity uses images from Microsoft,  Dreamstime.com  and  Kozzi.com

Why Customers are your Secret Ingredient to Growth

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If you are like most businesses, you manage your factories, products and br ands with precision, efficiency and care. You develop new products, you renovate your packs, define new communication concepts and exp and your distribution. However, if you are like most businesses, you also sometimes forget that the secret ingredient to growth, is not (only) your products or the services you offer; it is your customers. Underst and them, surprise and delight them and your business will remain healthy.

I recently spoke to a company with exactly this dilemma, how to grow their very successful business even further. Having thought about possible solutions for them, I decided to share some of the ideas I came up with, as I’m sure that you too will find them useful.

The 5 ways to grow

The customer journey to growing your businessAll businesses want to grow market share and profit. Unfortunately there are only a finite number of ways to do this:

  • Get more customers
  • Get current customers to buy more
  • Get current customers to spend more
  • Reduce costs
  • Increase margins

Notice that three of these are directly linked to the customer, so that is why I refer to them as the secret ingredient to growth. I’m not discounting the other two, but arguably they take longer to action and see results, so for quicker impact, let’s concentrate on the customer.

Get more customers

Getting more customers for more businessIn order to get more customers you first need to learn who buys and why, as well as who doesn’t and why. In the latter group we also need to separate those who buy from a competitor and those who don’t buy the category at all. To underst and these three groups, you will need to gather information on the customers, as much and as deeply as you can. For more on this, please check out a recent post on the topic “13 things your boss expects you to know about your customer

The other essential to underst anding how to get more customers, is to know what your br and st ands for, its image and equity. By comparing these between the three groups, you will get clear indications of what needs to be changed and how to influence them. You will see why one group buys and the other doesn’t buy your br and, and perhaps also a better underst anding of why some don’t buy the category at all and that’s not always as easy as just a lack of the relevant need.

 

Get current customers to buy more

There are several ways to get your current customers to buy more; they could buy bigger quantities when they do buy, or just buy the same quantity but more frequently. In some industries there are a finite number of occasions or quantities that can be bought, but I have found that these limitations are often not as strict as many businesses think they are:

  • Whilst a person can only be on one plane at a time, they could fly with friends or family, or use the airline for more trips
  • A person can only eat one lunch or dinner, but your product could be served more than once a week / month
  • Someone may only have one car to insure, but would also need insurance for themselves, their family, pets, house or apartment
  • A housewife only needs a few pots and pans, or one food mixer, but she could be interested in buying specialised plates, serving dishes or equipment for particular meals or ethnic food preparation

When you underst and your customers better, these alternative product offerings become much more easily identifiable. In addition, since they are already customers, you should also have hopefully gained their trust, which makes them more open to purchasing again from you. And don’t forget the 80/20 Rule or Pareto’s principle, which often applies to business:

“80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers”

Concentrate on those 20% and ensure you satisfy their current needs and endeavour to identify their future needs too – which brings me nicely to the next solution.

 

Get current customers to spend more

Customers are happy to spend more if they trust youGetting your customers to spend more can be as simple as mentioned above, through them simply buying more quantity, or by upgrading what they buy to a more expensive product or service. There is, however,  both good and bad news for you in this.

Stairway to br and heaven or hell!The good news is that perhaps surprisingly, ever since the recession, customers are willing to spend more on certain categories than they did in the past. Whilst they struggle to make ordinary day-to-day purchases, they correspondingly splash out occasionally and treat themselves with better quality products and services from time to time. If you underst and this, then you can be there where and when the urge hits them.

The bad news is that in reaction to declining sales, even before the recession, many companies started promoting more or dropping their prices. Once you have conditioned your customers to expect these lower prices, you are on the slippery slope to br and hell, as described in “Are you on the way to br and heaven or hell?

So there it is. Customers are the secret ingredient to br and and business success. Think customer first and market share and profit will follow.

If you enjoyed this post, why not share it with others by forwarding or Tweeting it; and do sign up to receive them directly in your inbox every Friday.

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Need help in growing your own market share or profits? Let us help you catalyse your customer centricity; contact us here and check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and

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The Consumer is No Longer Boss. It’s the Customer who’s now the King!

Next Wednesday is National Boss’s Day in the USA and in honour of the occasion Kathleen Brady of Brady & Associates wrote an article for the New York Daily News suggesting ways to please your Boss. Although not the topic of this post, the article incidentally makes great reading for anyone with a Boss (I think that’s all of us!)

It was P&G’s A.G. Lafley who first coined the phrase “The Consumer is Boss” about 12 years ago and since then marketing has been trying to please the consumer. It was also around this time that Consumer Packaged Goods companies then started referring to themselves as being consumer centric.

The Rise of the Customer

The below chart from Google Trends shows the search frequency of “customer” versus “consumer” since around that time. I don’t believe the changes you can see are due to a decreasing interest in consumers but are rather a reflection of the importance that all industries are placing on the people who buy their products and services. Whereas CPG may have started the trend, all industries now underst and the importance of the people that spend their hard earned cash on them. Depending upon the industry you are in, those people might be called consumers, customers or clients and customers has become the name most often used to cover all three.

Google trend of customer & consumer searchesThe Fall of Customer Centricity

Maz Iqbal’s recent post on the CustomerThink website entitled “ The Paradox At The Heart of Customer-Centric Business” challenged the very nature of customer centricity. Whilst his ideas are certainly thought-provoking and perhaps controversial, I do agree that customer centricity alone will not grow a business. However, I personally believe that most organisations have spent most of their existence thinking more about all the other areas of the business and less about the people that actually make their businesses viable, their customers.

The Customer is now the Boss

Whilst this still continues to be the case in many organisations – unfortunately – and taking inspiration from Brady’s article, I thought I would share my own thoughts on what we can do to better please our Customers / Bosses.

#1. Make sure everything we do is ABCD: We shouldn’t be satisfied with our customers’ satisfaction! We need to go Above and Beyond the Call of Duty when trying to please them. We should surprise and delight them whenever we can, responding not only to their articulated needs, but also their unarticulated and even unimagined needs.

Look at Apple who regularly proposes technologies that their customers didn’t even know they needed and which surprisingly quickly become an essential part of their lives. They underst and their customers so well that they even know what they (we) will want in the future.

#2. Underst and what they need to know: According to a recent report by Adobe on what keeps marketers up at night, the number one issue is reaching their customers.

top-concerns-large-adobe-2013 autoimprovedIf we really underst and our customers, we will know how to reach them, where and when they are ready to hear what we have to say. Whereas in the past companies knew their customers were more than likely to listen to or watch their advertising when it was aired, today’s technology enables customers to switch off all but the most relevant messages for them at any given time.

#3. Know how they measure performance: We may feel proud of our latest new product idea or added benefit, but if our customer doesn’t value it, then our efforts will be ignored at best or even rejected if we try to charge extra for them. Perception and reality can be far apart, and customer value can mean charging more or less than we had planned.

If you’d like to read more on setting pricing levels check out the post “HELP! Your customers don’t value you as much as you do!”

#4. Offer solutions: I learnt very early on in my professional career, thanks to a very wise and open-minded Boss (Yes that is indeed you Jean-Michel), to bring solutions not problems; the same goes for our customers. We shouldn’t communicate (only) on rational benefits; we are more likely to resonate when we speak about emotional and relational benefits. We need to show we underst and their pain and offer them a solution; no-one can refuse such an offer.

If you’d like to read more on br and equity check out the post “How to Build Br and Reputation & Consumer Trust and then Track it

 #5. Be Transparent: In just the same way as a Boss needs to share his vision and objectives, we need to listen to our customers to ensure we underst and how they are changing. This doesn’t mean more regular tracking or group discussions, but rather more visits to retail outlets and even customers’ homes to share their daily lives, trials and tribulations with them. That is the best way to really see things from their perspective and to see how our products and services fit into their lives.

#6. Mind our manners: As Lafley said, the Customer is Boss. This means that when a customer complains, we must start from the position that they are right, even if it is just their perception. How many times have you yourself heard customer care personnel trying to defend their organisation in order to prove to you that you are wrong? (As a fresh example, I just today got criticised by a supplier for complaining that my dishwasher still hadn’t been delivered six weeks after it was promised! I was told it was “because it’s school vacation and I have three technicians out”. Sorry that doesn’t explain the previous five weeks’ delay)

Do whatever you can to make your customers who connect with you feel happy they did so; make them feel you truly value their opinion and them taking the time to tell you about their experience.

And please, stop your pre-recorded messages that say “your call is important to us” when you leave the caller waiting for five, ten, twenty or even more minutes – and even worse when the message is repeated at frequent intervals! You have to DO not SAY customer centricity.

#7. Customer feedback is a gift: Every complaint is a free roadmap of how to improve your product or service. How much would you have to pay an external expert or consultant to help you in improving your offers? When a customer complains or suggests improvements, you’re getting this information for free, from people who really care and are not being paid to help you. That is as close to the truth you will ever get; use it.

These are my seven reasons why the Customer is King and how we need to act when we remember it. What others can you think of?

Need help in underst anding and connecting with your own customers? Let us help you catalyse your customer centricity; contact us here

C³Centricity used images from Microsoft, Google and Adobe Digital Distress 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

C³Centricity uses images from Dreamstime.com and Kozzi.com

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.

C³Centricity uses images from  Dreamstime.com  and  Kozzi.com

13 Marketing Quotes to Inspire Customer Centricity

The end of a year and the beginning of a new one is a great time to consider what changes you need to make in your marketing.

What habits have you become so comfortable with that you don’t even notice or question them? With today’s fast-paced world, business needs to be constantly adapting and preparing for the future.

These thirteen (plus a bonus one!) marketing quotes are amongst my favourites of the moment and will hopefully inspire you to consider what changes you need to make in the coming year to become even more customer centric.

#1. “There may be Customers without Br ands, but there are no Br ands without Customers” Anon (>>Click to Tweet<<)

This has to be the most important marketing quote to remember for all of us wanting to be more customer centric. Br ands depend upon customers and if companies remember this, then they can only succeed. If however they get so tied up in their products & services that they forget their customer, they may enjoy their work but their br ands will always be vulnerable to competition.

#2. “Nothing can add more power to your life than concentrating all your energies on a limited set of targets” Nido Qubein (>>Click to Tweet<<)

One of the biggest mistakes marketing can make is to not appropriately define its target audience. It is underst andably hard for a br and manager to accept that he can’t please all category users and that his target sub-category is smaller than the total category he thinks he could attract. By trying to please everyone, we end up pleasing no one, so bite the bullet and reduce your target category size by more precise audience selection. More on targeting HERE.

#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, President, Harley Davidson (>>Click to Tweet<<)

If it isn’t already included, then every employee should have customer connection added to their annual objectives. Whether they are the CEO, an Executive Vice-President, a machine operator, sales clerk or br and manager, they all need to underst and how their day job impacts the satisfaction of their customers.

#4. “If you use st andard research methods you will have the same insights as everyone else” David Nichols (>>Click to Tweet<<)

When was the last time you revised your market research toolbox or refined your insight development process? It’s a rapidly changing world both technologically and societally-speaking. The methods you use to observe, underst and and eventually delight your customers should be moving as fast, if not even faster, to stay in touch with the market. If you are interested in a 1-Day Catalyst session reviewing all your methodologies and metrics contact us HERE.

#5. “The structure will automatically provide the pattern for the action which follows” Donald Curtis (>>Click to Tweet<<)

There has been a lot of discussion about the new roles of the CMO, CIO and the creation of a new CCO (Chief Customer Officer) position. Perhaps it is time for your organisation to review its structure and see if it is still optimal for the business of today, as well as of tomorrow. As mentioned above, the world is changing rapidly and you need to keep abreast of these changes to stay in the game. Who wants to find themselves the equivalent of the Kodak of 2013?

#6. “Customer Service shouldn’t be a department, it should be the entire company” Tony Hsieh, CEO Zappo’s (>>Click to Tweet<<)

This is one of my all-time favourite quotes from a man I truly admire, for truly “getting” customer centricity. Their slogan is even “Powered by Service”! As already above, every single person in a company has a role to play in satisfying the customer. Zappo’s have an integration program for all new hires – including the EVPs – that includes time at their call centre answering customer queries. What a great way to show a new person what the company is really about. Why not start a similar introduction in your own company?

#7. “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new l ands but seeing with new eyes” Marcel Proust (>>Click to Tweet<<)

Today’s customers are very dem anding which has prompted many companies to increase their innovation and new product launches. However, it has been shown that renovation is as important as innovation in keeping customers satisfied (find link to relevant articles HERE). Instead of forcing your marketing and R&D to meet certain percentage targets, most launches of which will be destined to failure according to latest statistics, why not review your current offers with new eyes? If you truly underst and your customers, you will quickly find small changes that can make a significant impact on customer satisfaction and loyalty, when you take their perspective. And as an added bonus, if it solves a frustration of theirs, it might even bring you increased profits, since the perceived value will be higher than the cost.

#8. “A br and for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well” Jeff Bezos (>>Click to Tweet<<)

In the past most companies were more concerned with the reputation of their br ands and forgot that of the company, other than with investors. As consumers become interested in knowing and adhering to the policies of the companies behind the br ands, it is vital to manage both from the customer perspective. In addition, if your company is the br and, will be closely associated with it, or you are considering adding it more prominently to your packaging, then this becomes vital to follow.

#9. “The journey of a thous and miles must begin with a single step” Chinese Proverb (>>Click to Tweet<<)

Today’s customer often has a more complex path to purchase in many categories, so thinking of the simple awareness to loyalty funnel becomes less relevant. In order to underst and the purchasing of your br and, think information integration, as customers are becoming as savvy about products as they are about themselves. They seek out information, usually in relation to the size of the budget they will spend, and take the time needed to make what they consider to be an informed decision. Check whether you are in every relevant touchpoint with appropriate information for them.

#10. “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results” Winston Churchill (>>Click to Tweet<<)

If your world had changed then so should the metrics you use to manage the business. The new year is a great time to review last year’s business results in comparison to the metrics you have been following. Were you correctly assessing the environment, the market and customer behaviour? If not, perhaps you need to redefine your KPIs.

#11. “The fear of being wrong is the prime inhibitor of the creative process” Jean Bryant

Do you embrace entrepreneurship in your organisation? What happens when someone fails whilst trying something new? The more accepting you are of relevant trial and error exercises, the more likely your employees are to share their more creative ideas. If failure is punished, then they will be reluctant to try or even propose new things and your business will stagnate. This is a great time to review your ways of compensating creativeness as well as how you share learnings from failures?

#12. “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information” T S Eliot

Do you ever take decisions based on information or knowledge? If so then perhaps you should reconsider your insight development process. Whilst information and knowledge are essential to deeper underst anding of your customers, it is only when you have integrated everything you know and underst and about them, that you can begin to develop insights that will positively impact your customers’ behaviour.

#13. “If you can’t sum up the story in a sentence, you don’t know what you’re talking about” Garr Reynolds

How about making 2013 the year that you moved from PowerPoint presentations to Prezi storytelling? Even if you remain with whatever software you are currently using, taking the decision to share information and underst anding in a new way through storytelling, will have a profound impact on the way your employees think and remember the essential underst andings of your customers.

Finally, if you take only one message out of all these suggestions,  I hope it is this one, which to quote Charles Darwin is:

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, it is those most responsive to change”

2013 is going to be a year of considerable change for us all; let’s manage it rather than just suffer its impact.

If you have your own favourite quote that inspires you to change your business practices in 2013 , then please share it below. We would love to hear your own inspiration.

For even more inspiring quotes, why not check our website; they are regularly updated: https://www.c3centricity.com/library/

C³Centricity uses images from Dreamstime.com and Kozzi.com

 

10 Inspiring Customer Quotes

Need a quote about the customer to start or end a marketing presentation or to bring home an important point to your audience? If so, then this list was created just for you.

A few weeks ago I shared some of my favourite Infographs of the moment. The post received record hits and loads of shares across many social media channels.

It seems you like “best of” lists so this week I thought I would share with you some of my favourite quotes on the topic of customer centricity. As I did for the Infographs,  included are some ideas of actions to be taken, prompted by each quote. Enjoy.

#1. “Worry about being better; bigger will take care of itself. Think one customer at a time and take care of each one the best way you can” Gary Comer

Action: Choose one of your customer segments and decide a few ways to make their experience even better. If you don’t yet have a segmentation, check here for some ideas on simple ways to start.

#2. “Statistics suggest that when customers complain, business owners and managers ought to get excited about it. The complaining customer represents a huge opportunity for more business” Zig Ziglar

Action: Get a list of all the complaints, issues and suggested improvements that customers have given to your care center operators or promotion demonstrators. Do the same from your customer-facing staff if you have your own retail outlets.

#3. “There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else” Sam Walton

Action: Find out what your customers are spending with your major competitor and more importantly identify why. Then find a way to meet one of their needs that you are currently not satisfying.

#4. “Spend a lot of time talking to customers face-to-face. You’d be amazed how many companies don’t listen to their customers” Ross Perot

Action: Spend a day operating the care center phones or working on the shop floor. Find as many ways as possible to talk to your customers and ask them questions, if they are willing to answer them. Share your learnings with everyone else.

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

Action: Identify one or two members from each department who are particularly customer centric and form a customer support group. Meet regularly to identify how to ensure everyone in the company underst ands their role in satisfying your customers.

#6. “Every client you keep, is one less that you need to find” Nigel S anders

Action: Review the reasons why your customers leave your product or service, and identify one thing you can do differently to stop that continuing.

#7. “Research is not proof, it just improves the odds” David Soulsby

Action: Review the last five or ten market research studies that have been conducted and the decisions that were taken based upon their results. Did you delegate responsibility for decision-making totally to the customer by simply following the results of the research, or did you take a more balanced approach by considering them as a complement to other business factors and past information gathered? One study should never be the only source of information on which a decision is made

#8. “Customer needs have an unsettling way of not staying satisfied for very long” Karl Albrecht

Action: Review the results of the last five or ten renovations you have made to your products and services. Are they still performing well or do you need to bring further improvements as your customers are already used to the improved offer? Are you following societal trends and building scenarios to be better prepared for future opportunities and challenges. Check here for more information on doing this.

#9. “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself!” Eleanor Roosevelt

Action: This is easier if you work in a multi-br and or multinational organisation; encourage departmental members to share one of their mistakes and how they would do things differently next time. This will only work in established groups with high trust between its members, so if this is not the case, start by sharing successes to learn from until people feel more comfortable opening up to their mistakes too.

#10. “Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare” Japanese proverb

Action: Review your company vision and evaluate whether or not you are actioning all parts of it. If not, then update your plans to support your total company vision. Similarly review your business and br and plans and ensure they all fit into the wider company vision; if not update to exclude or replace inappropriate actions.

I hope you found some inspiration both in the quotes and the suggested actions prompted by each one.

If you have a favourite quote that you would like to include in the future, please add a comment below. We will be continuing these lists in coming months and will include yours, duly attributed if you would like to be named personally as a contributor.

Check out our website for hundreds of marketing and customer centric quotes, all segmented by topic: https://www.c3centricity.com/library/

 

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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