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How to Use Marketing Quotes to Inspire and Catalyse Action

Posts which include quotes are amongst the most shared on social media. Everyone seems to love them. This is because they are short, simple and often inspiring. They also usually fit conveniently into the 140 word limit of Twitter posts.

C³Centricity is no exception; our marketing quote posts are always the most popular, year after year. In fact it has become something of a tradition to share a post of the recent and most inspiring marketing quotes during the Summer and Winter vacation breaks.

Here are some we have found recently and love. As usual, we also add our ideas on how they can inspire action in your own organization. We know you will love them too, as you can add them to presentations and reports to inspire and catalyse needed actions and changes.

C Customers in your vision“If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.”(>>and%20%23vision” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow”>Tweet this<<)

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, 24th & current President of Liberia 

IDEA: If we don’t aim for the stars, we might just end up with a h andful of dirt! Customers want to believe that you can bring them the best experience they can get for the price they are willing to invest. Remember it’s value not cost that really counts. With consumers quickly sharing their experiences online these days, the true value of your products and services is known almost immediately after launch. Make sure yours are worth it, and why not even a little more?

“Marketing used to be about making a myth and telling it. Now it’s about telling a truth and sharing it.” (>>and%20sharing%20it.%E2%80%9C%20Marc%20Mathieu%20[tweetlink]%20%23Marketing%20%23Br and%20%23Truth%20″ target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow”>Tweet this<<)

Marc Mathieu, Global SVP of Marketing at Unilever.

IDEA: It is almost impossible to pretend to be what you are not. As mentioned above, customers share their opinions – quickly – so be the best you can be and proud of it. Aim to go beyond satisfaction to customer delight. Read more about this concept in “ The New Marketing Challenge“.

“IncreasiSegmentationngly, the mass marketing is turning into a mass of niches.” (>>Tweet this<<)

Chris Anderson, Editor-in-Chief of Wired

IDEA: Gone are the days of mass marketing. Customers today expect you to underst and and speak to them as individuals. This can only be achieved through a deep underst anding or their needs, desires and hopefully dreams as well. Use the 4W™ Template  and watch the video series about this topic – both available for download in the members area – to ensure you are going deep enough.

“Marketing is telling the world you’re a rock star. Content marketing is showing the world you are one.”

Robert Rose, Chief Strategy Officer for the Content Marketing Institute

IDEA: Customers aren’t listening as they used to. There is so much “noise” today that they turn off to anything that is not  useful, interesting and relevant to them personally. Make sure you’re sharing what the customer wants to hear and not (just) what you want to tell them.

“Your website is your greatest asset. More people view your webpages than anything else.” (>>anda%20Sibley%20[tweetlink]%20%23Br and%20%23CRX” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow”>Tweet this<<)

Am anda Sibley, Campaign Manager at Hubspot

IDEA: Do you spend as much on improving your web pages as you do on your advertising testing? If not, you’re probably wasting your online spend, or most of it. Eye-tracking linked to facial coding for emotional analysis, will quickly tell you what needs to be changed, in all your communication platforms.

“What you prefer or what your designer prefers doesn’t matter if it’s not getting you conversions.” 

Naomi Niles, Br and Strategist

IDEA: Apologies to the C-Suite, but your ideas don’t matter that much anymore. OK you still get to approve the budgets, but think customer first when reviewing product marketing, concepts  and communications, rather than expressing purely your own opinion, please.

“The key ingredient to a better content experience is relevance.” (>>and%20%23SMX” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow”>Tweet this<<)

Jason Miller, Senior Content Marketing Manager at LinkedIn

IDEA: Just because it’s worked for another br and, doesn’t mean it will work for yours. Start with your customers; is it relevant for them? If it is publish; if it’s not, rework it or forget it! Despite what many online articles may lead you to believe, not everyone wants to watch babies or cats all day long, unless you’re following Gerber or Friskies.

“We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in.”

Craig Davis, former Chief Creative Officer at J. Walter Thompson.

IDEA: Listening is the new skill that marketers need to learn – quickly! No longer can you talk to customers, they now talk to you and they expect you to listen – really hard!

Storytelling in business“If your stories are all about your products and services, that’s not storytelling. It’s a brochure. Give yourself permission to make the story bigger.”

Jay Baer, Speaker & Author

IDEA: Make the customer the hero of your story and not your product or service. We all dream of being a hero, so why not grant it if you can? This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t speak about what you have to offer, of course not. Rather, you should show how your product or service fits into the lives of your customers and makes them easier, simpler or more enjoyable. Remember too, that showing is better than telling. (>>Tweet this<<)

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing about.” (>>Tweet this<<)

Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the US.

IDEA: There is so much information out there, that customers have (too much) choice as to who and what to believe. Make sure you are that one – every time!  It’s customer value that counts, not what the value is to you, to share your information with your customers.

“Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue.”

Andrew Davis, Author of Br andscaping

IDEA: Even if the world has and continues to change, it remains built on trust. We spend money on products and services that we trust will deliver the experience for which we are looking. Your content  should provide the reason to believe and help build that trust.

These are some of our favourite marketing quotes of the moment. You will notice that many refer to social media this time. We believe that advertising and customer connection has reached a tipping point, where mass messaging is replaced by relevant, useful information that is also time relevant. Have we missed your favourite? If so, please add below.

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

How to Lose Customers & What you Need to Do if you Don’t Want this to Happen!

I’ve had a frustrating week, and you? If you too are happy that this week is coming to an end, feel free to add your own personal rants at the end!

I was reviewing SaaS (software as a service) companies and was amazed at the different levels of customer service between the suppliers. With service in their industry name you would have thought that they would excel at customer service, but from my own experience it was non-existent in many cases, which prompted this post.

If you want to ensure that your potential, or even current customers, never buy from you (again) here are a few things to remember:

Your website:

  • Make your website load really slowly so that customers will have to wait in excited anticipation before appreciating the beauty and complexity of everything you have on offer.

    Customers lost online
    Customers lost in your website
    SOURCE: Kozzi.com

FACT: According to  Kissmetrics 40% of people ab andon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.

  • Don’t make your website mobile friendly; that’s only for the younger generation and you’re sure your customers are older – although to be honest you don’t really know.

FACTMobile already accounts for 15% of global internet traffic

  • Create loops within your website so the customer never actually gets to the information page they really want. Keep them looking, which increases your stats of time-on-site, and that looks great in your stat report.

FACTTime on site does matter but only if customers are interested in the content. Adding pictures and videos is a better way to keep them engaged.

  • Don’t provide contact information choices; make every potential client call you, especially if they live on the other side of the planet.

FACTForrester research reveals that “75% of consumers seeking customer service online turned to another channel when a firm’s website let them down.”

  • Provide online chat but just automate a first response and then leave the client waiting for a live customer service person to come online.

FACT: 65% of American online shoppers have engaged in  online chat

  • Make your clients wait between their chat messages and your response, by having your customer care people respond to at least five people at the same time. This is great for helping them to get the names and issues mixed up too, and avoids them getting too personal.

FACT: According to Cisco 69% of U.S. consumers would provide more  private information in exchange for more personalized service.

 

Call Centers

  • Customer online
    Your customer is active online
    SOURCE: Kozzi.com

    Don’t answer when your potential, or current, client calls; just put them on automatic hold. Or you can give them a recorded message with opening hours when they should call you, which will be a time that is acceptable to you, not when they need you.

FACT: 67% of customers have  hung up the phoneout of frustration they could not talk to a real person.

  • To keep your clients amused when they call you, provide multiple self-service  key options, the more the better. When they finally get to the topic they want, play hold music, then interrupt at regular intervals so they think there is someone coming on the line and then just give a short message and start the hold music again. Never give an idea of how long they will have to wait; keeping them guessing is half the fun! Great for calming your customers’ nerves too.

FACT: By 2020, the customer will manage 85% of the relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human, according to  Gartner.

  • Never return the calls of clients who dared to leave a voice message for you; they’ll call you back if they really need you. If they don’t then they’ve probably solved their problem themselves and shouldn’t have called you for help in the first place!

FACT: Oracle research found that 49% of executives believe customers will switch br ands due to a  bad experience but 89% already have!

 

 

Emails:

  • Customer Email iconNever reply to emails within the same day, unless it is an automated response to say you will get back in the next  2-3 days.

FACT204 million emails are sent every minute, but that’s no excuse.

  • Wait before responding to customer emails for at least 4 days and then make sure it is really friendly and explains that you’re waiting for their call.

FACT: Forrester found that  41% of consumers expect an e-mail response within six hours.

  • Even better, reply to say that most answers can be found on your website and provide a helpful link to your FAQs. And never reference their email or mention a topic relevant to the content of it.

 

 

Social Media:

  • Customer Social media choices
    Social media for CRM
    SOURCE: Kozzi.com

    Monitor posts on social media and only respond when you need to point out why a person’s negative comments are wrong.

FACT: According to Edison Research 42 Percent of  consumers complaining on Social Media expect a response within the hour.

  • Don’t bother reading comments online; you know better than your customers what they need.

FACT: 24% of American adults have  posted comments or reviews online about the product or services they buy.

  • People use Twitter only for personal informatio; with only 140 characters, it can’t be relevant for businesses can it?

FACT: one million people view tweets related to customer service every week and more than 80% of those tweets are of a critical or negative nature.

If you got this far in the post then thanks for reading my rant. Many of the above actually happened to me this week when trying to buy a SaaS  platform! It is sad that despite all the articles written and research conducted, so many companies still get customer service so terribly wrong.

Hopefully in reading this post you have garnered some new facts and figures about customer service and what today’s customers are expecting from us. Or perhaps you got some ideas on how you can improve your own service and responses to your customers. 

Do you have your own fascinating facts about customers and what they expect in terms of service today? If so then please comment below and share them with everyone.

Would you like to know more about connecting and engaging with your customers? We can help. Contact us today and let’s discuss your challenges, but also check our website for more ideas: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage

C³Centricity uses images from Microsoft and Kozzi.com

Can you (Re) Gain Trust?

Over the last few months we have heard many sc andals based upon the disappointing discovery of unfounded consumer loyalty and trust. Rigged football matches, numerous athletes taking illegal drugs and more recently the horse meat sc andal. Have you ever been faced with a loss of your customers’ trust in business? If so, or you believe that it could happen in the future, then this post is for you.

The 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer report, published last month, concluded that there are clear signs of a leadership crisis in both business and government. In fact in many recent sc andals, leaders have not helped the situation when speaking out.

For instance, in the current horsemeat sc andal, several food manufacturers confirmed that their beef products did not contain horse-meat, only to withdraw their statements a few days later. What did they think they were doing? Trust is one of the most important elements of purchase and loyalty; it is difficult to win but so much easier to lose, as many companies have recently realised. In the end it comes down to being truly customer centric. Wouldn’t a customer prefer to hear a “We don’t know but we’re checking” rather than a categorical “No” that is replaced by an equally categorical but rather feeble “Yes” a few days, or even hours later.

As Donald Porter, V.P. at British Airways once said:

“Customers don’t expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong”

So why do so many companies have such problems with telling the truth? If you make a mistake, then own up and correct it: your customers will forgive you and forget it. And more importantly, your owning up to the event will confirm their belief that they can trust you in the future. They will continue to buy your products and services with confidence, trusting that they will live up to your promises.

If you pretend that things are OK when they are really not, you are more than likely to get found out eventually. An employee will talk, a government or industry association will run tests and you will be discovered lacking.

With all these sc andals of what one might call dishonesty, touching so many different industries, this seems to be a good time to talk about building, keeping and regaining your customers’ trust. Here is my starter list of five areas to review, but please add your own to the comments below:

#1. Prepare

Have you already identified the worst possible scenarios that could happen to your industry, your business, your br and? Do you know precisely how you would react in each and every case? When an incident happens it is already too late and the damage has started. By identifying upfront what may happen in each possible event, you have sufficient time to identify potential risks before issues reach dangerous levels.

#2. Measure

Another factor of preparedness is to identify and to follow metrics that will provide you with an early warning system. When levels of certain critical elements get close to precise limits, you again have time to react before damage is done. Think about customer complaints, quality rejects, machine down-time, industry legal cases, whether yours or your competitors.

#3. Assign

For each critical incident identified, assign jobs to people in all relevant departments. Who will communicate, both internally and externally? Who will adapt and replace sub-optimal products and services? Who will develop and launch new ones?

#4. Practice

As with fire drills, exercises of disaster recovery can identify missing elements, whether time, money, or people. These can then be addressed well before they may be needed. No point in wishing you’d bought that extinguisher when the fire breaks out!

#5. Engage

As with measurement, engaging your customers, partners, employees and even competitors in building industry trust will ensure that it will survive any crisis. However, at a company and br and level, customer and employee engagement becomes particularly important, since competition is often secretly hoping you will badly manage a negative situation, from which they might then benefit. By keeping communication open 24/7 you are much more likely to be able to respond without delay and in many cases even prevent issues from escalating into a full blown crisis.

If football and cycle team managers had kept to their jobs of management, and trying to be the best they could be without resorting to bribes, drugs or other illegal practices, then the sports would not be where they are today. If food manufacturers had chosen to make food that they would happily give to their families instead of cutting costs to a maximum, then they too would not be facing the current sc andal. Unfortunately, these events damage not only those concerned, but the wider industries at large.

Sports sponsorship will be under much tighter scrutiny and perhaps some br ands will decide to move to other sports or forms of promotions in the future. Sales of prepared dishes containing beef are significantly down in Europe already and this will result in lower prices for wholesalers and eventually also for the farmers. According to Reuters, a recent poll run by Consumer Intelligence in the UK, showed that more than 65% of respondents said they trusted food labels less as a result of the recent incident, so in fact the whole food industry has been impacted.

Luckily, not every industry or company has been doing their business without regard for honesty and living up to their customers’ trust in them. Some companies underst and the importance of winning and then keeping this trust. Ford recently issued a booklet about the Top 2013 Trends of importance to them and their number one trend was trust, or as they quoted it “Trust is the new Black”. In their description of it, they mention that “Correlation of trust to br and equity increased by 35% in three years since the (economic) crisis”. If that isn’t a reason to build trust, I don’t know what is!

For more information about building trust and increasing br and equity, check out our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage/

Or why not give us a call to see how we can support your own initiatives in (re) gaining your customers’ trust. No obligation, just INSPIRATION!

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/

 

What the Hospitality Industry can teach us all about Customer Service

One of the industries most sensitive to customer service errors is hospitality. If they get something wrong their clients will tell them immediately.

This is a great opportunity, since it gives them the chance to respond appropriately and save their reputation. However, it also means that they have had to adapt to being not just reactive but also proactive.

If you would like to see what you can learn from how they meet some of these challenges read on.

This past week I was in Miami and had the chance to visit and stay in various hotels both at the beach as well as in the financial district. With a presentation to give in January on the hospitality industry (more about that next month), I wanted to get some true-life stories from the people on the ground. Their comments and ideas were so inspiring, I thought it would be useful for us all to consider some of their solutions, even if we are not in the hospitality industry. Their businesses depend on excellent customer service; shouldn’t ours as well?

#1. Know your client

They all spoke about the importance of knowing whom they are serving. Are their guests on business or vacation? These two groups have very different needs and dem ands, and so it is vital that the purpose of their visit is clearly understood in order to better serve them.

Ask yourself: These hotels start with a simple two cluster analysis and then group each of these into subgroups. What does your own segmentation tell you? Is it too complex to be actionable? Would a simpler approach such as the one these hotels are using help? Check our website for more about customer targeting and segmentation.

#2. Imagine the clients’ needs before they ask

Another interesting similarity between these professionals is their pride in underst anding their clients’ needs. They actually feel that they haven’t done their best if a client has to ask for something.

Ask yourself: Are you continually updating your knowledge about your customers’ changing needs in order to anticipate them? If you develop a process to satisfy them but don’t adapt with each new learning, then you risk losing a deeper underst anding. More about this topic here.

#3. The buck stops with the person listening

The banquet manager at one of the hotels talked about the importance of representing the Hotel to ensure the clients’ needs are met. He said that telling a client that something is not his job / responsibility is unacceptable. Whomever the client is speaking with is the company (hotel in this case) (>>Click to Tweet<<) from his perspective, so the employee cannot just pass responsibility to someone else to get rid of the issue.

Ask yourself: Do clients get passed from one person to the other when they call your company? Does everyone underst and that it is their responsibility to find a solution to each client’s issue? They should only transfer them to someone else to resolve the client’s problem, once they have established that this is the right person to solve it. Read the 5 steps to customer care excellence for an example of simplified contact management.

#4. Speak to the decision maker

Another topic the banqueting manager mentioned was to always speak to the decision maker, not (only) the person making an order. For example, if it’s a wedding he speaks to the bride directly, not just the groom or the parents, even if they are the ones paying.

Ask yourself: Do you underst and the purchase decision journey of your clients? If the end user and purchaser are different people, you will need to underst and them both; (>>Click to Tweet<<) their reasons for using / buying the product they choose and how they came to make that decision.

#5. Your checklist is the start not the end

Most hotel departments now work with checklists, just like pilots. Whether it is reservations, the room cleaning, or meeting management, these lists have been built up over time to ensure that nothing essential is forgotten. However, if your customer service experts are still working to scripts, then their connection will seem false and uncaring in the eyes of your customer.

Ask yourself:Are all your scripts, processes and checklists absolutely necessary? Could you give your employees more responsibility and freedom to satisfy your customers? If you are concerned that they may take too many liberties and initiatives, you could set limits, such as decisions that cost less than a certain limit. As your confidence in their decision-making ability grows, you can increase this limit. And this makes good business sense. In Temkin’s 2012 Employee Engagement Benchmark Study, they found that highly engaged employees are more committed to helping their companies succeed.

If you work in the hospitality industry I would love to hear your comments and ideas on the above. Would you add any other points? If you work in a different industry, I hope these comments inspire you to make your own customer services more caring and that the questions posed make you think about what we can learn from this industry that is not called hospitality for nothing. Shouldn’t we all be in a hospitable business?

Would you like to know just how customer centric you really are? Complete the C3Centricity Evaluator (it’s FREE to C3Centricity Members) and receive a summary report with suggested actions to take.

For more ideas about how to put your customer at the heart of your own business, please check out our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage

Social Customer Service: How to be Responsible, Resourceful & Ready in Real-time

A recent Infographic got me thinking about what has and hasn’t changed in customer service thanks to social media. In fact I should have said what has still not changed and MUST change in the very near future.

If you feel that you haven’t made all the necessary changes to meet the challenges of the new social customers and their dem ands, then read on for four actions you should be taking to improve your customer service.

#1. Responsibility

Marketing, Sales and Customer Service all have contact with customers and therefore also responsibility for them. Today these departments must work more closely together to provide a seamless connection with the customer. They need to build on each other’s efforts to satisfy the customer, so that each customer perceives that there is one company working to delight him and that he is really important to them.

Action: Employees from all customer-facing departments need to meet regularly, at least monthly, to exchange and share their latest experiences and learnings. What are customers talking about, complaining about or dreaming of? What new opportunities are there to get ahead of competition in better satisfying these current or latent needs? Organise regular exchanges or “lunch & learn” sessions and if you work in the USA recognise your most active employees by signing them up in the “Most Engaged Employee Contest”.

#2. Resources

Most organisations underst and the importance of their customer, and we all know they are more than ever in control thanks to social media. However, few companies are investing in developing their customer centricity and keeping their customer database current. Business needs to start walking the talk so their customers notice and feel a difference in how they are being treated, listened to and satisfied.

Action: Did you know it costs about 8 times as much to acquire a new customer as it does to retain a current one? Review how you collect and store your customer information. Have you verified their details in the last year? Most companies have upwards of 28% of their database which is out-of-date; when did you last check your own level? Is data stored by br and or business unit? Integrate the information, so the connection with your customer is seamless, more intimate, knowledgeable and fulfilling for you both.

#3. Ready

Social Media connections are growing exponentially but is your organisation staying ahead of the curve?. Recent figures from the latest Burson Marsteller Global Social Media Check-up 2012 suggest there are more than 10 million references to major global companies on social media every month and more than half of these are are on Twitter. Companies need to be following these discussions in addition to responding to customers in the usual way through call centers, email or postal mail.

Action: Review and revise your care center resources and training. Ensure you have a sufficiently growing number of trained staff to be available when the customer most needs to contact you. Provide the customer service agents with the knowledge, information and authority to respond to customers on social media as well as over traditional contact means. Remember that nothing disappears on the web, so written responses need to be accurate, precise and appropriate. If not you may fall into a PR disaster similar to the one Nestlé found itself in on its Facebook page in early 2010.

#4. Real-time

Did you know that customers expect a more rapid response to queries than they are used to getting? This is driving them to non-traditional methods of interacting with customer service agents such as chat and social media. According to the latest State of the Industry report from Acxiom and Digiday 74% of companies cannot respond to customers in real-time. How have you changed your care centres to respond to this dem and?

Action: Review your current customer service practices to ensure you are responding to your customers’ dem ands in real-time or at least offering a short-term solution. Have you made your agents available 24/7 or found a way to propose an alternative solution to customers who might contact outside normal working hours but when they are most likely to need help with your product or service? Customers expect answers within one to four hours these days.

These are the four essential steps that most organisations have still not taken to respond to the new social customer and their increased dem ands. What are you waiting for?

If you have taken other steps to optimise your organisations customer centricity to respond to the dem ands of the social customer then please share them here.

For more information on customer connection, please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage/

The Minimalist Guide to Customer Satisfaction

Are you looking to provide the best Customer Satisfaction and Experience with the minimum amount of effort? If so, then read on.

During lunch with a friend this week, we were discussing how apparently impossible it seems for many retailers to satisfy their customers. We exchanged recent experiences about our own customer satisfaction, or lack thereof, his concerning the in-store purchase of a radio, mine during a sales pitch from a local telecom company.

We laughed together as we realised that neither of us had bought the product / service we had the intention of purchasing because of the “salesman’s” basic errors. When we realised this, we started to enumerate what potential customers are looking for, when making a purchase. Hopefully the list we developed will serve you in providing better service and satisfaction to your own potential clients.

#1. Underst and who your potential customer is

If you don’t know who the person with whom you are discussing is, then it is unlikely that you will be able to effectively empathize. Start by listening to them, to better underst and who they are and what they could be interested in buying from you. Only then should you propose a solution, or perhaps a choice of two. Remember too much choice is likely to result in no sale too. Read more about this in the Columbia / Stanford paper “Choice is Demotivating”

#2. Underst and what your customer wants

In my case, the online salesman started by telling me there was a great offer, which included all local calls for free. When I explained that I rarely called others, preferring to use VOIP services such as Skype or Google Talk, he then changed the offer to a higher priced one that included making calls when I was traveling. If he had simply prepared for the sales pitch, by reviewing my past behaviour, over the previous 6-12 months, he would have been better able to propose a more attractive new service to me.

As it was, his proposals meant my spending more money for less service, which of course was not of interest. In addition, after three attempts at proposing new services I, like many customers I imagine, had lost interest in listening to him. He didn’t know how to excite me and spent useless time in a conversation that had no value to either of us.

Again, listen and learn before proposing a product or service, to ensure you are making the one best possible suggestion. If you just keep throwing offers at a potential client in the hope that one will stick, even ones with potential are likely to go unheard.

#3. Underst and what your customer needs

In many cases, a potential customer wants something different from what he actually says he needs. Remember one of many famous Henri Ford quotes:

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

Underst anding the need that is behind the claimed want takes you half-way to actually satisfying the desire of the customer.

#4. Underst and what you can offer

In some cases you will be unable to give your customer either what he wants or needs. In these instances you have two options:

  1. Say that your product / service will satisfy your customer, which is dangerous as he / she will quickly realise that it doesn’t
  2. Say that your product can’t satisfy their need but tell them of any future planned improvements that may appeal in the near future if they are prepared to wait. You could also suggest one that will, which may sound counter-intuitive, but which will build trust and image of your br and / company that can positively impact future purchases.

Of course, if you go for the first option and say that your product / service delivers exactly what the customer is looking for, you may congratulate yourself on the sale. Of course, when your customer finds out that it doesn’t provide the satisfaction that was expected he won’t come back and he’ll probably tell everyone he knows, or even doesn’t know via the web, about his dissatisfaction. Is that really an option? A few years ago, some HBR research showed that almost a half of people having a negative experience told ten or more others.

#5. Underst and yourself

Part of building trust and a long-term relationship with your customers comes from underst anding yourself, the real, honest and transparent strengths and weaknesses of what you have to offer. Transparency is essential today in building customer trust and customers will eventually uncover whatever you have to hide, so it’s best not to have anything that you do not want them to discover.

These are just five simple ways to guarantee customer satisfaction, but of course there are many, many more. Why not share your own favourite below? 

For more information on how to underst and your customers better, check our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and/

6 Secrets to Better Customer Relationship Building

Yesterday I read a wonderful post from Ted Rubin about IBM’s recent Global Summit, which used an unusual emotional stimulation to connect with the participants. It also illustrated how emotions can be used for customer relationship building as well as for prompting longer-term memory in potential customers. If that is what you too want to build, read on.

Ted mentioned that when it was first announced, that they were going to attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the world’s Longest H andshake Chain “You can imagine the reaction of the attendees. The first response was one of amazed disbelief. “Really?” And then, “Wow, this will be something to always remember as a group!” This is the sort of thing you naturally tell your kids about… and then tweet, and post to Facebook. The energy in the room and the excitement of the crowd were palpable.”

I still remember the excitement of attending a local cinema morning when I was 5 years old, that was sponsored by a major tea br and. I should mention that I grew up in Cornwall, where tea is the leading day-time beverage and it is served as strong as the women who make it and the men who drink it. Even today, I can sing the song we learnt word-for-word before the film was shown and find myself buying the br and to take back home whenever I go to the UK.

What both these companies got right, was their customer relationship building based upon a group experience of their potential customers at the respective events. In my case I don’t remember what film was shown and I am not sure what IBM services Ted will remember, but we will both surely remember the br and names at the heart of our memorable experiences.

How are you getting into the brain of your own potential customers and are you finding a permanent place in it? Earlier this week I presented to a group of professionals at The Marketing and Communications Loft in Geneva. We discussed the many ways there are to connect with our audiences today, but also the challenge of breaking through the clutter of everyone attempting to do the same. As this Infographic “What happens online in 60 seconds” shows, there is so much going on online already, that it is becoming harder to build this emotional connection, which is the only way to really resonate and build relationships with your potential customers. So here are some ideas on how to do so:

#1. The secret of Information

Underst and what information your customers really want, not just what you want to give them. This is the single most important thing to remember when building a br and website. Read this post from Anita Williams Weinberg of Poppermost Communications for some useful thoughts on this.

#2. The secret of Needs

Review where your customers are on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and ensure you are using relevant arguments to resonate and build a relationship that matters to them for the level they are at currently. Talking status to someone who is struggling to feed their family is unlikely to get either a positive reaction, or recall!

#3. The secret of Polysensoriality

Realise that products alone are rarely building an emotional connection and need a point of differentiation. Adding sensorial experiences will link directly with consumers and ensure higher loyalty even when product performance is similar to a competitor’s. Cars and personal care products are two industries that already rely on these to resonate with their potential clients.

#4. The secret of Surprise

Another way of increasing the emotional connection of a br and is by adding appropriate services to your offer. Zappo’s is a great example of how to do this; their slogan “Powered by Service” and their habit of training all new hires in customer service, including time in their care centres, ensures all employees are truly customer centric and will go above and beyond their duty to satisfy their customers.

#5. The secret of Underst anding

Surprise your customers with an extra they weren’t expecting. Amazon was one of the first to propose other relevant articles to their customers whether they were merely browsing or after having purchased. The emotional connection their customers feel by being understood clearly outweigh any feelings of “Big Brother” watching, although this of course remains a risk, especially for other companies trying to replicate the service idea.

#6. The secret of Service

Welcome the chance to solve complaints. According to the results of research recently conducted by The Temkin Group, 89% of customers have switched to a competitor after just one negative experience and only around 4% will even complain. It therefore makes good business sense to treat complainers as providing you with the prized gifts that they are doing and to do everything you can to solve their issue. Go “over the top” in listening to them and resolving their issue to their complete satisfaction, not yours. A positive experience will be shared with friends and family, as well as on the web, as will a negative one, so make sure your company delivers the former.

I hope this has given you some food for thought on how to start building relationships with your customers, to gain a place in their hearts and minds through using emotional connections. If you have any other ideas, we would all love to hear them, so why not share them below?

For more information on how to better connect with your customers to build relationships, please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/engage/

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

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

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

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

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

Telling the truth

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t hide behind the small print

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

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

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

Be ready to listen to your customer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The 7 Keys to Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Ever wonder how to get people talking about your business? Start by offering them incredible products and services that solve their problems and fulfill their needs. Make your customers happy and give them something to talk about. Read this article to access 7 key elements that will get people talking about you!

Every strategy comes with its own set of rules, and so does word of mouth marketing. Yes, this means that you can actually create a strategy to generate positive word of mouth support for your business.

But first: why does Word of Mouth matter?

Learn about cognitive dissonance: “this is a discomfort caused by holding conflicting cognitions (e.g., ideas, beliefs, values, emotional reactions) simultaneously. In a state of dissonance, people may feel surprise, dread, guilt, anger, or embarrassment.”

In other words: people are always searching for ways to reduce this cognitive dissonance (to reduce risk and hence fear!).

Receiving positive reviews by word of mouth from friends or family on products or services will reduce the dissonance, as it confirms people in their beliefs that this is a good product or service. You could also define this as the effect of social proof. “If X amount of people share a positive experience, it has to be great!”

So, given that consumers need input to reduce the risk they take, and hence the fear that goes along with buying stuff, here are 7 key elements that will generate positive word of mouth promotion for your business:

 

#1 Make Customers Happy

If you value your customers, offer them more than they expect! And do it all the time. It’s not only the great product or service that generates loyalty, but the implicit message that states “you matter to us!”. That’s what every customer wants to hear! Solid relationships thrive on rewarding your customers with a creative surprise. Watch the smile on their face!

 

#2 Focus on Br and Commitment

In Spreading the Word, Tom Brown defined Br and commitment as:

“An enduring desire to maintain a relationship with a specific entity.” (Brown e.a., 2005, p. 126)

Your Facebook br and page may offer you a unique opportunity to build and nurture a relationship with your fans. But, it takes more than just generating a Like for your Fan page to get people to talk about you! Just watch how many Facebook pages have almost zero engagement.

So, ask yourself these 2 questions every day: “do your customers have an enduring desire to maintain a relationship with your br and?” and “what do you do to earn your fans’ trust each day?”.

If you focus on the enduring desire of fans to maintain the relationship with your br and, this sets the conditions for successful viral word of mouth marketing.

Br ands with a strong and engaging fan base on Facebook can count on daily likes, shares and comments. This engagement will increase your visibility and accelerate your Reach. This social proof will increase your br ands’ attraction and generate more fans. If you want to learn more on this, check out Social Midas.

 

#3 Offer Distinctive Products and Services

When it comes to distinctive products, for most people one word is enough: Apple. Steve Jobs has succeeded in building a strong br and that people associate with innovative products that rock! Every time Steve introduced a new product, like the iPod, iPhone or iPad, people just had to talk about it and still do!

When you think about distinctive service, I’m sure Zappos.com resonates with you. Not only does Zappos offer shoes online, they value their customer’s trust more than anything!

If you offer new distinctive products or services, people just want to talk about that. It’s up to you to generate virality by offering them great content about your products or services, so they can share it with friends and family. Think about blog posts, videos, podcasts, badges or other promotion material.

 

#4 Nurture Involvement

Offer solutions that connect to the mental relevancy of your customers. Think about how to trigger a big desire or confront huge pains or frustrations. Get into the middle section of your customer’s brain (limbic) to create somatic markers. These markers connect a personal experience with your br and. Just like a can of Coca-Cola will generate happiness and warm feelings for a lot of people. Continue to nurture these feelings and watch how your customers want to share their experience with their family and friends.

 

#5 Connect with Market Mavens

Market mavens are individuals who have up-to-date information about many kinds of products, places to shop and other facets of the market. These market mavens are the ones who are most likely to respond to information requests from friends or family. They love to educate others, and it also increases their status. Connect with these market mavens and make them your br and advocates.

 

#6 Identify your br and advocates

When it comes to word of mouth marketing, referrals by br and advocates are your most effective type of marketing. If you want to include these influencers in your strategy, you need to identify them first.

Fortunately, Satmetrix, Bain & Company and Fred Reichheld developed “The Ultimate Question”.  Ask your customers: “How likely are you to recommend us to a colleague or friend?” and calculate the Net Promoter Score. People that indicate this likelihood with a 9 or 10 are “loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and refer others, fueling growth”.

 

#7 Invite Social Media Stars

If you want to increase your word of mouth marketing effectiveness on the social web, you need social media stars. These are social media users who reach a great number of people and have much influence. The Klout Score is certainly a great measure to identify these social media stars.

The Klout Score uses data from various social networks -like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Foursquare, YouTube, Tumblr and Flickr in order to measure your True Reach, Amplification and Network Impact.

As more social media management tools -like HootSuite or SproutSocial- include Klout Score as the main indicator of social influence, I think it’s worth paying attention to the Klout Score of your online connections.

Take Away: although no one can predict virality of customer experiences on the social web, word of mouth marketing matters more than ever. Underst and these 7 key elements and create your own strategy to stimulate positive word of mouth.

My recommendation on word of mouth marketing: “Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies get People Talking”.

We love to hear from you! Please share your reaction in the comments box below. Thanks 🙂

To learn more about connecting with your customers, please check out our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage/

This post was first published on Felix Relationship Marketing on April 12th 2012

10 ways Customer Excellence can Ignite Your Business: And Why You Need It Now

Why are so many businesses looking at building a Customer Excellence (CE) department today?

Customers, consumers and clients are demanding more attention; they want to be heard, they want to be seen and understood for who they are; they want their needs and desires answered. Social media has increased our attention to them, but many organisations are still struggling to walk the talk of customer centricity. If this is your own case and you are looking to develop customer excellence, then this post is for you.

Several companies have contacted me in the last few months, to ask for help in creating a Consumer / Customer Excellence Department. Having already gone through the challenges of doing this when I worked in the corporate world, I knew that I could certainly help others with this exciting objective. However, each time, my first reaction was to ask “Why”; not why they had contacted me but why they wanted to create the group and why now?

Setting up a Customer Excellence (CE) department is not just a structural change; it is more importantly a cultural change that must go deep into the whole organisation if it is to work. #CEX #CMO #CustomerFirst Click To Tweet

It is often the CEO or CMO who makes the original request, since they feel that the company is not paying enough attention to their customers. However, the initiative will only succeed if everyone in the company not only buys into the vision, but is also excited by the changes it will bring.

 

Let me share some of my own experiences to help you on your own journey, by illustrating a few of the imperatives to succeed in such an initiative:

#1. CE should report into the Board

This new department must report into the board and ideally have a seat there too. The initiative must be seen as an organisational and not a departmental objective. If CE reports into marketing, it will be seen as a marketing support group; maybe just a new name for the traditional marketing services, market research or insight departments, as I am sad to report was once said to me by my CEO!

 

#2. CE should group all customer-facing departments

Customer Excellence should include all customer-facing departments, including market research and insight of course, but also care centres, consumer services, web services, CRM and perhaps even the promotions teams.

Customer Excellence should include all customer-facing departments, including market research & insight, care centres, consumer services, web services, CRM and perhaps even the promotions teams. #CEX #Customer #CustomerFirst Click To Tweet

This means that CE will watch over both personalised and anonymous connections with customers, but these can provide valuable information that can be integrated and used cross-functionally.

 

#3. CE ensures the business connects with the same tone & vocabulary

Every personalised contact with the customer must use the same tone and voice. They should also be based upon background information about every previous connection, by whatever medium used. In this way, the customer who already sees them all as links to the company, will perceive that the business cares about them and wants to build a deep relationship and understanding of their needs and desires. Everyone likes people who take a positive interest in them, so this is a true win-win.

 

#4. CE should be multi-category

In order to truly integrate all the knowledge and understanding, the CE group should also work across categories and brands in a multi-category company. In this way they will comprehend the person as a whole, and not just as a category user.

This also has the added benefit of giving the organisation an opportunity to cross-sell and up-sell when a connection is made, by proposing appropriate products and categories.

I am sure you have all been contacted at some time in the past for an inappropriate product, by a company that didn’t do this, right? For example diapers promoted to single men, a new desert to people on a diet or who are diabetic, innovative new alcoholic beverage to teetotallers etc etc. Irritating for the customer and damaging the image of the brand.

 

#5. CE should be Global

Wherever relevant, Customer Excellence should have a worldwide remit, integrating all regions and markets. This enables them, and the business, to be aware of global as well as regional category and societal trends, which in turns helps the company be prepared for future opportunities and challenges.

In addition, this can build a useful community spirit, especially in decentralised organisations. Markets should always be looking for information from countries ahead of them on any relevant trends, whilst also looking back to help those who are following them on other trends.


Customer excellence roadmap in the book Winning customer centricityThe book Winning Customer Centricity: Putting customers at the Heart of Your Business – One Day at a Time  includes a simple roadmap for adopting a customer first strategy. It covers the four foundational topics that need to be addressed.

Find out more and about the book and reserve your spot for the webinar:

 

 

 

 


#6. CE should develop Scenarios

Most organisations today follow trends, but these do not bring competitive advantage unless they are developed into future scenarios. By doing this, Customer Excellence can prepare management for the future, identifying possible changes to the market, so that opportunities can be grabbed and response to possible challenges well prepared in advance.

Business relevance will always be higher for scenarios than trends. In a regional or multinational organisation, scenarios can help markets to be better prepared, by sharing information across borders and continents, rather than using geographic closeness to define regions.

Language rather than geography sets the boundaries in todays connected world, so innovation and new product roll-outs should follow them. Surprisingly, companies still favour launching based on market proximity; this is a big error.

Language rather than geography sets the boundaries in todays connected world, so innovation & new product roll-outs should follow them. Surprisingly, companies still favour launching based on market proximity; this is a big error. #NPD… Click To Tweet

 

#7. CE should be Market / Brand agnostic

By being market and brand agnostic, the Customer Excellence department is free to give advice and to share their true opinions, without fear of upsetting the business unit or regional head. Corporations today must get comfortable with cross-departmental team working and the creation of a Customer Excellence department is a great way to catalyse this change.

 

#8. CE should Integrate all Customer Information

Understanding and insight development from the information gathered by market research, sales, marketing, finance, supply chain, and all the other available sources within an organisation, can only come from total data and knowledge integration. Consumer Excellence can again provide the analytical expertise and the cross-category perspective to reap the full benefits for everyone.

Having a one-stop shop for a company’s customer and market information, knowledge, understanding and insights means that work is not replicated when requests come in from different departments. Additionally, multiple categories may be interested in similar target groups, which means that customer excellence can provide deeper insights to both groups without twice the work.

 

#9. CE should cover costs through better negotiation

This also applies to the purchasing of external information and reports. Few suppliers would ever tell a company that they have already purchased a report or database. They are happy to make that second or even multiple sales to different departments within an organisation. However, if all information requests are handled by one group, companies can certainly avoid this and also negotiate better deals for multiple purchases for reports that are relevant in several business units and which should be made available across the organisation.

This is a particularly valuable additional benefit for decentralised corporations, since there is generally little collaboration at the purchasing level. However, from my own personal experience, savings can even be found for centralised enterprises, through simply negotiating volume discounts.

 

#10. CE Ignites Customer Centricity & Business Growth

Last but not least, the customer benefits from a CE function, since all employees are thinking about the role they play in satisfying them. Becoming customer centric is a long journey, so the more people that are involved at the start, the more likely that cultural change will happen. This is because each employee reinforces the thinking of putting the customer at the heart  of the business.

To conclude, the creation of a Customer Excellence department sponsored at board level, can put the customer at the heart of the company, as well as of every department within it. The business will benefit, the customer will benefit and hopefully the employees too.

What have been your experiences with the creation of a Customer or Consumer Excellence Department? Please share your own stories here and add the other benefits you have found from your own experiences. 

For more about the processes of enhancing customer centricity or creating a Customer Excellence Department, please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com

Be Customer Centric – differently!

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

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

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

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

Replacement product:

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

Bakery:

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

Car rental:

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

Airlines:

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

Consumer packaged goods:

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

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

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

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

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