The New Qualities for Customer Service Excellence

The current pandemic has clearly highlighted those companies who care about their customers and who provide them with customer service excellence.

If you claim to be customer centric are you sure you’re truly walking the talk and not just talking about customer service excellence? Many companies are and the pandemic has brought them into the spotlight.

A few years ago I was prompted to question this of the local Swiss cable company Cablecom. It had been desperately trying to address a long-term deficit in customer service excellence versus its main competitor Swisscom.

Swisscom has made customer service their MSP (main selling point or value proposition) and they are renowned for putting their customers first. Cablecom, on the other hand, had, until then, been trying to win customers through aggressive price cutting. In today’s connected world, especially when internet connection 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 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 call centre. Social media usually guarantees a quick response whereas contacting customer services through the usual channels often results in nothing.

Twitter is often referred to as today's call centre. Social media usually guarantees a quick response whereas contacting customer services through the usual channels often results in nothing. #CustomerSatisfaction #CustomerCare… Click To Tweet

 

What makes a great customer care centre?

Customers these days expect a response in minutes or hours rather than days. Recent research shows that 88% of customers expect a response from your business within 60 minutes, while 30% expect a response within 15 minutes or less! How good is your own customer service?

Most call centres today are a frustrating if sometimes necessary experience for customers to endure. In many cases, they are automated, with an often long and complex self-selection process of button pushing to arrive at the department one needs – if you are lucky that is!

Usually, the result of all that effort is just a recording that either announces that the department needed is not open at the moment, or that the collaborators are currently busy and to please stay on the line at best, or to call back later most often.

We are next subjected to music supposedly designed to calm our nerves, interspersed with messages suggesting alternatives to waiting on the line: going to the website to find a solution, to check their available FAQs, to complete a contact form, or to send an email. And then, of course, to add insult to injury, we hear the infamous message about our call being important to the company! Really? If so you’re not showing it, you’re not walking the talk.

Companies that have understood customers’ frustration with help-line queues have found alternative solutions, such as arranging a callback or providing sufficient staff to cover the busiest times, or at least to be available when the customer is most likely to need support.

Today there is no excuse for a consumer goods company 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
Today there is no excuse for a consumer goods company to not be ready to help their users when they need it the most. #CustomerSatisfaction #CustomerCare #CareCenter #CustomerFirst Click To Tweet

Whilst in a few cases, there may be customers who use Twitter to jump the call centre queues, in most cases, it is a customer’s final cry for help after being frustrated by long waits on their careline calls, or self-service selections that led nowhere. 

 

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?

Jimmy N. from UPC-Cablecom, was one of the very best examples of what a CSR should be, based upon my considerable years of working 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, which I call the 7Ps.

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 an updated version of one that was first posted on C3Centricity in February 2013.

How to Improve Customer Centricity in Hospitality

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.

As the world changes, customer demands are changing too and companies need to stay current, if not ahead of these demands, in order to ensure continued growth. #CustomerFirst #CustomerCentricity #Future #Trends Click To Tweet

 

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.

Brands that have a high following and loyalty, have found a way to consistently engage their fans and keep them coming back. #Brand #Marketing #Engagement Click To Tweet

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.

Loyalty is never really won, so all industries need to work on building engagement. Customer demands are constantly evolving and we need to keep up with the changes. #Customer #CustomerUnderstanding #Loyalty Click To Tweet

 

#6. Dialogue don’t just Communicate

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.

C³Centricity uses images from Pizabay.com

Five Brilliant Ideas to Boost your Insight Development

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Dulux sample pot example of insight development

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

C³Centricity uses images from Pixabay.com.

 


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

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The 6 Best Ways to Show you Respect your Customers

More than one year after the introduction of GDPR in Europe and the CCPA in California, I wondered what has changed. And more importantly, I got to thinking about customer privacy and how to build a mutually beneficial relationship whilst also respecting it.

Customers don’t want to be automatically segmented and followed as they go about the web, viewing different sites. A recent article on Business2Community by Owen Ray said that

The tracking cookie is crumbling. Smart cookie-blocking technology led by Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) and Firefox’s Enhanced Tracking Protection (ETP) now block third-party cookies by default, and even Google’s Chrome will soon get controls that let consumers block cookies.”

If you want to understand more on the topic of cookies I highly recommend this two-part article.

Companies who are truly customer centric know that it is important to build a mutually beneficial relationship where there is something for both parties in exchanging information and services. Too many businesses ask too much of their customers, with little if anything in return. I believe this is one of the major reasons that customers today are becoming sensitive to what and to whom they give any information about their interests, habits, needs and wishes.

I, therefore, thought it was useful to review the major points to keep in mind, when a business wants to collect information about its customers in order to offer products and services that better meet their wants and desires.

 

1. Ask Permission to Gather Information

This should be a no-brainer and yet I still find myself on lists to which I didn’t subscribe! You too?

Whether you are connecting with your customers by mail, phone, email or the web, you need to first request permission to ask any questions and to gather the information you are looking for. Not only should you ask for consent; if you are not in direct personal contact, but connecting via email or the web, you should also double-check that permission. You have to ensure that the agreement has been given by your customer and that they are still ready to provide the information.

Being attentive to privacy when starting to build a relationship is vital and shows you respect your customers. It also means asking them to confirm their consent not once, but twice. Double opt-in as it is known, ensures that your customer is correctly identified and that they have indeed themselves agreed to provide or receive information, or to be put on your mailing list.

 

2. There Must be Mutual Benefit

When your customer has agreed to provide information you need to thank them in return immediately. This can be as simple as offering coupons for your products, some valuable information not easily available elsewhere, a free guide or e-book on a relevant topic, or special privileges such as club membership or express shipping. Something that shows them that they were right to agree and that you value their information.

Another thing to keep in mind is not to overwhelm them by asking everything in one go. Since your objective is to build a long-term relationship with them, you can complete the information you require through several contacts with the same customer.

This also has the added advantage of keeping the conversation more frequent than it might otherwise have been. Ask just enough to be able to identify your priority metrics and then refine your understanding of them as you gather more information.

Your objective should be to build a long-term relationship with your customers, so don't gather more information than you can immediately use. #CEX #CRM #CustomerService #CustomerSatisfaction Click To Tweet
With so much choice available to customers today, it is our responsibility to build an engaging and respectful relationship with them. If there is no trust, there may soon be no sales!

What other ways do you show respect for your customers? Please share your best examples below. Of course, if you have come across a bad example that frustrated that, then please share it too. Let's name and shame!

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Is Packaging Part of Product or Promotion? Should it be Both?

Which did you answer subconsciously when you read the title? 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?

If you answered both, then I believe that you are making maximum use of your packaging or at least you recognise its potential for communication.

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.

We all expect most things that we use to be intuitive these days. We assume that we will understand how to build / cook / use them without reading the manual / instructions. How intuitive is your brand? Click To Tweet

 

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 DVD recorder.

In the article How Likely Are You to Read the Instructions they  they link behaviour to personality types. It makes an interesting read and offers at least some explanations why many (most?) of us still don’t read instructions.

As internet results in us having access to more and more information, we seem to be reading less and less. Therefore we need to ensure that any vital information is called out in some way on the packaging – and perhaps visually as well.

 

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 a pack.

It therefore makes sense to provide more than just a list of ingredients. After all you have your customer’s attention.

 

Order our Pack AuditCheck your packs are connecting effectively with your customers

 

 

Here are a few examples I have come across recently:


Our customers’ attention is pulled in all directions today, with thousands of messages pushed at them, from so many channels, products and services. 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 actually using it. It therefore makes good business sense to use packaging more creatively; wouldn't you agree?

For more information on the support we can provide in product innovation and branding, please check out our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/training

This post is regularly updated and expanded from the original published on C3Centricity.

 

 

The New 7Ps of Customer Service Excellence. Are You Following Them All?

If you claim to be customer centric are you sure you’re walking and not just talking the talk of true customer service excellence?

Last year I was prompted to question this of the Swiss cable company Cablecom. It had been desperately trying to address a long-term deficit in customer care versus its main competitor Swisscom. Swisscom has made customer service their MSP (main selling point or value proposition) and they are renowned for putting their customers first. Cablecom on the other h and had, until then, been trying to win customers through aggressive price cutting. In today’s connected world, especially when internet connection 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 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 was more than a year ago that Twitter was first referred to as today’s call centre. Guy Clapperton, author of “This is Social Media” wrote an interesting post about this in 2011 and surprisingly this idea was actually questioned at the time. Today, I would argue that it is much, much more than this.

Today’s call centres are a frustrating, if sometimes necessary experience for customers to endure. In many cases they are automated, with an often long and complex self-selection process of button pushing to arrive at the department one needs. Usually the result of all that effort is just a recording that either announces that 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 alternatives to waiting on the line: going to the website to find a solution, to check their available FAQs, to complete a contact form, or to send an email. And then of course to add insult to injury, we hear the infamous message about our call being important to the company! Really? If so you’re not showing it, you’re not walking the talk.

Edison recently ran some research showing the patience that we have or rather don’t have today, on social media. Convince & Convert published some of the first results in an interesting article showing that companies must react immediately to customers using social media. One in five expect an answer within 15 minutes and 42% within the hour. For reference, when Guy Clapperton wrote his post almost three years ago, the level was almost half that at just 25%.

Companies that have understood customers’ frustration with help-line queues have found alternative solutions, such as arranging a call back, or providing sufficient staff to cover the busiest times, or at least to be available when the customer is most likely to need support.

Today there is no excuse for a consumer goods company to not be ready to help their users when they need it the most (>>Tweet this<<); 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

Whilst in a few cases, there may be customers who use Twitter to jump the call centre queues, in most cases, it is a customer’s final cry for help before “going under”.

Taking the customers perspective is the absolute right thing to do for a company, but should we as customers also not take the company’s perspective when reaching out to them, or at least to the poor person who gets our wrath at the end of our email or phone call?

Jimmy N. from UPC-Cablecom, was one of the very best examples of what a customer service advisor should be, based upon my considerable years of working 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 (early twenties)?

I summarise it as the new 7 Ps of customer services:

  1. Private: He immediately took the conversation offline, asking for my email address and then calling me to speak in person.
  2. Patient: He let me talk first, just listening until I had finished ranting, or stopped to ask a question.
  3. Polite: He never lost his cool, even when I did!
  4. Perceptive: Empathised, knowing when to push forward with the next topic and when to go back to reiterate what had been agreed.
  5. Professional: He was an expert, knew his topic and more importantly knew how to explain its complex details in simple terms.
  6. Pragmatic: Worked with me to find solutions that worked for us both.
  7. Perseverant: He continued to ask and answer questions until he was sure I was happy with everything.

Are these the seven best qualities for call centre advisors, or are there more “Ps” to mention? Let me know, especially you Jimmy, if you read this.

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

No Obligation, just INSPIRATION!

C³Centricity used an image from Dreamstime in this post.

This article is based upon a post first published on C3Centricity in February 2013.

Are P&G Right to End Marketing?

In the last couple of weeks, there has been a tremendous amount of discussion around P&G’s decision to change marketing into br and management.

The consumer products world closely watches whenever P&G announces changes, whether to their strategy, marketing or in this case their organisational structure. As this AdAge article (herementions “P&G seems well out in front of the rest of the marketing world — or what used to be known as the marketing world — on this”.

As businesses have 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 this Forbes article). Others have proclaimed the end of the CMO’s position altogether, including the infamous piece by IMD’s President Dominique Turpin “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. I believe this is behind P&G’s move.

At the end of last year I wrote a post proposing what I thought would and wouldn’t change and what needs to. Six months on, in light of P&G’s announcement, I thought it useful to review my list:

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.
  • anding customer service opportunities” width=”375″ height=”226″ />The 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, communication 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.

Although I didn’t predict P&G’s change, it does in fact address most of the above, by combining four functions under the new title of Br and Management: br and management (formerly known as marketing), consumer and marketing knowledge (their name for market research), communications and design. At least by combining these groups under a single leader they will be forced to work less in silos and there should be more and better collaboration. Only time will tell if this move will be successful.

Do you think P&G’s change is the right move? Will you consider doing something similar? I’d love to hear your thoughts, especially if you are, or aspire to the “old” CMO or marketing roles. 

If you need help in adapting to the new world of marketing, why not work with one of the new breed of marketers? Someone who combines cultural sensitivity with creativity and technical know-how; a catalyst for the change your organisation needs. Contact us here  and let’s discuss your needs.

C³Centricity used an image from Microsoft in this post.

How Well do you Know your Customers? Can you Answer these 12 Questions?

How well do you know your target customers? I mean really know them? Are they men, women, young, old, Fortune 100 companies, local businesses? If you can at least answer that, then you have the basics, but how much more could you know about them? Can you answer the following twelve questions?

I was recently working with a local service company who was looking for help with their online presence. They were keen to get more active on social media and had asked for advice about the best platforms, optimal frequency of publishing and possible content ideas.

C3Centricity how well you know your customers

However they were in for a surprise. Rather than getting straight onto the “sexy” topic of social media, I started by taking them through the basics of target customer identification. Lucky for them that I did! When we had finished the exercise, we had found five different targets for them to target, rather than the mere two they had been addressing until now. This clearly would have a huge impact on the where, what and how they communicated online.

These are the twelve questions that enabled us to brainstorm, identify and then complete a better and more complete description of their target customers. Their use also resulted in clear differentiated segments for their services – three more than they had originally thought!

How would you like to double your own market potential? Read on:

  1. WHO DEMOGRAPHICS: OK this is usually a “no-brainer” and is how most organisations describe their customers. Not really original and definitely not competitive, but still the essential foundation.
  2. WHAT THEY USE: Whether you are offering a product or service, you need to know what your customers are using today. And not only for your category, but in adjacent categories too. What do they use – if anything – if your product / category is not available?
  3. WHAT THEY CONSUME: Here we need to underst and what types of information and media they are consuming; what do they read, watch, listen to in their spare time. Which social media do they use, what websites do they consult on a regular basis?
  4. WHAT THEY DO: How do your customers spend their time? What type of lifestyle do they have? What are their hobbies? What do they do all day, and in the evening and at weekends?
  5. WHAT THEY BUY: This is where you describe their current category purchasing habits. How frequently and what quantity do they buy? Do they have regular buying habits? Do they do research before buying or repurchasing? Do they compare and if so how, where, why?
  6. WHERE THEY USE: Is the category consumed in home, in work, on vacation? With friends, with their partner, their children, with colleagues? Are there certain surroundings more conducive to consumption? What makes it so?
  7. WHERE THEY BUY: Do your target customers have certain places and times they buy? Is it an habitual or impulse purchase? Is it seasonal?
  8. WHERE THEY CONSUME: Today “consume” covers not just traditional media but new media as well. From where do they get information about products? From manufacturers, friends, family, colleagues? Do they access it online, in print, on radio or TV, at home or on the road? What websites and people do they follow, listen to and value the opinion of? What interests do they have in general and concerning the category?
  9. WHERE THEY SEE: One reason to target a specific group of customers is so that you can better communicate with them. Where are they most likely to be open to your messages; what media, what times, which days?
  10. WHY VALUES: What values do your customers have that you are meeting with your product or service, and explain why they are using it? Do they have other values that are not currently addressed, either by you or your competitors? Do these values offer the possibility of a differentiated communications platform or product / service concept?
  11. WHY EMOTIONS: What is the emotional state of your customers when they are considering a purchase or use, both of the category and the br and? Clearly identified emotions enable you to more easily resonate with your customers through empathising with their current situation. You are more likely to propose a solution that will satisfy their need or desire when their emotional state is precisely identified.
  12. WHY MOTIVATIONS: What motivates the customer to consider, buy and use their category and br and choice? Emotions and motivations are closely linked both to each other and to the customer’s need state. By identifying the need-state you want to address, you will be better able to underst and your customers and increase the resonance of your communications.

If you can answer all twelve of these questions in detail, then you certainly know your customers intimately. But before you sit back and relax on your laurels, remember that people are constantly changing and what satisfies them today, is unlikely to satisfy them tomorrow. Therefore you need to keep a track on all four layers of your customer description to stay ahead of competition, as well as to satisfy and hopefully delight your customers.

As mentioned above, by answering and completing a detailed description of the target audience for my client, we were able to identify a couple of new segments that my client’s services could address. Although their demographics were similar, their emotional and need states were quite different. This gave us the opportunity to respond with slightly different service offers for each group.

If you would like to try out this exercise for yourself, we have some useful templates that we make available to C³C Members. Why not sign up and get access? It’s FREE to join.

For more information on better identifying and understanding target customers, please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/

C³Centricity used images from Dreamstime and Microsoft in this post.

This post has been adapted from one which first appeared on C³Centricity in April 2013.

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

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

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

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

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

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

1.      Treating customers well

2.      Treating employees well

3.      Doing good for society

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

#1. Really value the customer

Image source: Dyson

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

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

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

#2. Go above and beyond in service

Zappos customer service excellence
Image source: Zappos

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

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

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

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

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

 #3. Understand your customers’ experience

In order to delight your customers you need to take their perspective, not just view things from yours. This can be done in many ways. You can organise connection sessions where employees go shopping with customers or meet them in their homes. You can spend time listening to call centre exchanges or following market research projects in person. For a complete review of all the different ways to connect and learn from your customers check out “ How to become a fan of your customer” or search the “observation” or “customer service” categories by clicking on the words just below this post’s title.

Emirates journey mapping
Image source: Emirates

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

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

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

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

No Obligation, just INSPIRATION!

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

How to get R&D Excited about Innovation

Did you do a double-take when reading this week’s post title? I bet you did. R&D is at the heart of innovation for almost all major manufacturers, so they should be excited by it. However, their concepts are almost always based on the company’s current technical know-how and skills. Boring! If you want to break away from this very predictable process and add some “oomph” to your innovations, then read on

One of my most loyal CPG clients contacted me recently about the latest problem (opportunity?) he has been asked to address: making R&D more consumer centric. Having faced a similar challenge in one of my previous jobs, I immediately empathised with him. It can really be a daunting task, especially when speaking to people who are usually more interested in numbers than emotions. I remember speaking at the annual R&D conference about consumer centricity and at the end of my talk, the Head of Operations commented “You know Denyse, the R&D department is very consumer centric. We know exactly what consumers need. It’s marketing who don’t know how to explain to consumers why they need it!”

Trying to keep a straight face, I thanked him for his comment and also for having just proven why I believed that R&D could become more consumer centric. I then went on to suggest some ways they could get closer to current or potential consumers. By the end of my talk I had a queue of volunteers wanting me to organise some of the suggested actions for them. Here’s what I shared:

Observe & Listen to your Consumers

Most people working in a company and certainly those working in R&D, know far more about the category than the average consumer. However, most employees – excluding hopefully the insight team – don’t know what their consumers really think about their offer.

Observation of consumers as they go about their daily lives, using the product or service, helps us to identify pain points, whilst also stimulating new thinking and concept ideas. Listening to their complaints and ideas, whether online, through carelines or during a market research project, can provide the consumer perspective and input for new concepts or solutions.

It’s time for R&D to get out of the factory and into the shops and homes of shoppers and buyers.

Involve your Consumers

Ben- and-Jerry-AdA few days ago I came across an article about Ben & Jerry and how they are asking residents of five cities in the USA to vote for the names of new ice cream flavors that reflect their locales. The br and’s Scoop Truck, which will be touring 11 cities this year, will also serve as one of the campaigns’ voting platforms. Once consumers have eaten their free frozen treats, they’ll be asked to use their spoons as “ballots” (vote by depositing their spoons in one of several recycling boxes marked with various ingredient names). Does that remind you of another br and who used a similar voting tactic when it was starting out – Innocent?

Great br ands and companies have no problem “stealing with pride” and recognising good ideas when they see them.

Ben & Jerry’s are by no means the only br and to involve their customers in developing or choosing new products and services. Nespresso have been collaborating with their Club members for years on many aspects of their marketing. Whether choosing the end of their commercials or identifying the next new blend to be launched, Nespresso Club members are made to feel important and privileged.

Involving customers in the development of new product and/or service concepts not only makes them feel valued, it also makes them more loyal and valuable advocates of your br ands too. 

Exp and your Thinking

Example of innovation leversHow do you come up with ideas and concepts for new products and services today? If you are like most companies, they probably come in a majority from your current portfolio of br ands. Whilst this can meet with a certain level of success, as it is what customers expect, or rather dem and, there is another process that can drive even greater success. This is the use of what are often called innovation levers, or what others refer to as “the s and box”. I love the latter term as it suggests light-hearted play, which is an effective way to get people thinking “outside the box”.

Innovation levers enable thinking to “push the envelope” and to exp and outside the box in which R&D and marketing can sometimes find themselves. Rather than thinking about the next flavour or packaging idea, why not consider a new channel or communications strategy?

Coke sharing canCoke recently used two of these levers, but combined them, when it launched its “sharing can”. Not only can the can be split in two for sharing, it also enables new potential consumers to consider buying a can, such as those with smaller thirsts or those traveling.

Starting from a different lever than the one you usually use can result in more creative concepts.

Go Beyond Trend Following

Grow your business using customer underst andingAnother challenge when looking to make R&D more customer centric, is in moving them from trend following to scenario planning. R&D people often seem to be more comfortable with trends and “poo poo” future scenarios as improbable forecasts. It is therefore important to explain to them that scenario planning is not forecasting. If they can allow themselves to be open to listening to a story, which exposes imaginary but plausible new worlds to them, they can become inspired by the opportunities. The ideas that are created from scenario planning, have in my experience been amongst the most ground-breaking ever developed. Isn’t that exactly what we would all like to market, rather than the staple diet of predictable renovations?

These are just four ideas that I shared during the conference a few years ago, to stimulate and excite the R&D department. Hopefully they have excited you to have a go at convincing your own operations people to get closer to the customer.

Have you other examples of how you got your own R&D people to think outside their technical box? Then I’d love to hear about them, so please share your thoughts and ideas below.

If you would like some more creative innovation ideas, check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/vision

Need help in taking your innovation outside its box, or in connecting with your customers? Let’s discuss how we can help you catalyze your customer centricity; contact us here today.

C³Centricity uses images from  Dreamstime.com  and  Kozzi.com

How to Take Local Br ands to Global Success

I remember reading an article in the Financial Times last year that challenged companies to search for a new style of  marketer. They weren’t speaking about the latest need for marketers to be both creative and comfortable with data. They were actually referring to the growing need for marketers to st and up to the challenge of taking local br ands global. The marketer who underst ands when local specificities make sense and when they don’t. (Read the article here)

In this networked, global market in which we live, more and more successful local br ands are being groomed for global roll-out. What does it take to repeat success at the market level when you launch globally? Here are my five suggestions to help you:

1. Underst and the market

This is the basis of any new product launch and applies just as well to global roll-outs as it does to local developments. Today’s consumers are dem anding, so find out as much as possible about them, their rational needs but also their emotional desires, whether or not they are articulated. For global roll-outs, an additional information concerning the comparison of similarities and differences between the customers in the local and future markets must also be considered.

2. Underst and the category

What does the product st and for in the eyes of your customers? Do those in the new market have the same sensitivities as the ones in the local market where your product has met with success? Will the consumers in the new target market perceive the same benefits in the same way? If not, is this really a potential market, or are you just rolling-out there due to geographic proximity? I am still amazed how many organisations base their roll-out strategy based on geography rather than the customer!

3. Position based on a Human Truth

Maslow's hierarchy of needsOne of the similarities that brings all consumers together is their basic human needs. Think parenting and wanting the best for your children, used by Nestlé’s Nido and Unilever’s Omo / Persil. Think women and their frustration at not being considered as beautiful as the retouched models in their magazines, used by Unilever’s Dove. Think of men and their need to charm and seduce women, to affirm themselves, used by Lynx / Axe from – you’ve guessed it – Unilever. These are needs that can be found the world over and which can form the basis of a very successful roll-out communication strategy.

4. Can you use your local heritage?

Many countries and regions have strong, stereotyped images that can play to inherent qualities associated with certain product categories coming from them. Think French perfume, Swiss watches, Russian Vodka, Italian fashion, German or American cars, Japanese technology. If your br and has a strong positive association with local tradition or nationality, then make use of it.

5. Don’t (just) think regional

Just because countries are geographically close, doesn’t mean their populations are similar when it comes to category image and usage. When planning product roll-outs, consider how alike the consumers are in terms of values, usage and behaviour as well as category trends, before deciding on the order of country launches. This way you are more likely to be sensitive to and better prioritize the markets most open to the new product launch.

One final comment on global roll-outs. C3Centricity’s partner PhaseOne, wrote a guest post for us a couple of months ago on the risks of implementing global creative. As global communication experts, PhaseOne knows what it takes to succeed in taking communication global. It makes a great complement to this post and you can read it here: “Why Implementing Global Creative is Risky

Many companies have effectively rolled-out local successes to other countries in the region, if not the world, but many more have failed. What would you add to the list to increase the odds in favour of a regional or global roll-out? I would love to hear your thoughts.

If you would like to  know more about improving your br anding and communications, then please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage/

Whenever you identify a need to better underst and and communicate with your current or future customers, then please contact us; we know we can help catalyze your customer centricity.

This post has been adapted from one that was first publised on C3Centricity Dimensions in January 2012

C³Centricity uses images from  Dreamstime.com  and  Kozzi.com

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