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Your boss expects you to be able to answer all his questions and especially to know your customers. Here are the 13 things your boss is likely to ask you and a handy Checklist to prove to him that you know your customers better than he realises.
Everyone speaks about customer centricity and the importance of the customer, but just how well do you know yours – really? The following is a checklist of 13 facts you need to be able to answer in order to know your customers as well as you should.
As you read the post, keep tabs on your answers and share your final score below. I’m offering a personal 50% discount code to spend in store for everyone who publishes their score here in July 2018. And if you’re the boss, I’d love to hear how well you think your team would do – 100% of course, no?!
#1. Who is your customer?
OK I’m starting off slowly, but do you know who your customers are? Not who uses your category, but who the people are that actually buy your product or service today? How much do you really know about them?
Their age, gender and location are the basics, but there’s a lot more you need to know about them. Check out “12 things you need to know about your target customers” for more on what you need to know to be able to describe them in the depth your boss expects.
The C3Centricity 4W™ Template is a great resource for storing all the information you have on your customer. Download a free copy and watch the related videos HERE.
#2. What business are you in?
Although this refers more to the category than the customer, it is important to ensure you are looking at it through the eyes of your customers. Many organisations are working with industry definitions rather than customer ones. What about you? If you want to know your customers, you need to understand what category they think they are buying.
This is one of the essential elements you need to understand in order to know your customers deeply. It is something that many organisations don’t take the time to clearly identify, which results in an incorrect appreciation of their market and competitors. By not correctly identifying the category you are in, or plan to enter, your innovations will also lack the success you are hoping for.
For instance, are you in the food business or the pleasure business, beverages or relaxation? One of my clients wanted to launch a fruit flavoured soft drink and thought they were competing with other soft drinks. When we worked together we discovered that they were actually competing in the energy drink business!
I was giving a talk earlier this month in which I mentioned that technology is an enabler not a disruptor of business today.
It was to the BPW Lake-Geneva (Business & Professional Women) group in Rolle, Switzerland, which was a first for me. Not because I was speaking about customer centricity as a disruptor, but because it was an all-female group. (They even turned away one gentleman who was interested in hearing me speak about adopting a customer-first strategy!)
Anyway, my talk was about identifying the category in which you are working, the benefit you provide>and the audience to whom you are offering it. These are the first three steps of my CatSight™ Process for actionable insight development. (If you would like to know more about it sign up for our free webinar)
During the presentation at BPW I talked about the fact that technology is seen as the disruptor in business today, but it isn’t. Technology is an enabler; it is in fact customer-centricity that is the disruptor today.
I had already been speaking about the need for businesses to prepare for the dramatic change that was coming thanks to technological innovation. However, Pacheco’s slide made me realise why I was so keen on companies adopting a customer-first strategy and running scenario planning.
His five simple examples brought it home more powerfully than I have ever done before. That’s why I wanted to share it. The summary says:
- Netflix did not kill Blockbuster, ridiculous late fees did.
- Uber did not kill the taxi business, limited taxi access and fare control did.
- Apple did not kill the music industry, being forced to buy full-length albums did.
- Amazon did not kill other retailers, bad customer service did.
- Airbnb isn’t killing the hotel industry, limited availability and pricing options are.
In conclusion it states that:
“Technology by itself is not the real disruptor. Not being customer-centric is the biggest threat to any business.”
That’s music to my ears!
Looking again at the five examples he gives, there are a number of specific aspects of customer-centricity that are highlighted. In my opinion they show the following advantages for the customer:
- freedom of choice
- being valued
If you don’t want to see your own industry fall victim to start-ups that better provide these, then now is the time to act.
Include all these essential elements into your own business. In my opinion they should already be there and industries where they are not, are already being threatened. Make sure you’re not on the new list next year!
The Future of Many Industries is Unthinkable
By this I mean that change is happening so fast that it is difficult for organisations to even imagine the future. This is why I encourage my clients to develop plausible future scenarios. Continue Reading
Next Wednesday is National Boss’s Day in the USA and in honour of the occasion Kathleen Brady of Brady & Associates wrote an article for the New York Daily News suggesting ways to please your Boss. Although not the topic of this post, the article incidentally makes great reading for anyone with a Boss (I think that’s all of us!)
It was P&G’s A.G. Lafley who first coined the phrase “The Consumer is Boss” about 12 years ago and since then marketing has been trying to please the consumer. It was also around this time that Consumer Packaged Goods companies then started referring to themselves as being consumer centric.
The Rise of the Customer
The below chart from Google Trends shows the search frequency of “customer” versus “consumer” since around that time. I don’t believe the changes you can see are due to a decreasing interest in consumers but are rather a reflection of the importance that all industries are placing on the people who buy their products and services. Whereas CPG may have started the trend, all industries now underst and the importance of the people that spend their hard earned cash on them. Depending upon the industry you are in, those people might be called consumers, customers or clients and customers has become the name most often used to cover all three.
The Fall of Customer Centricity
Maz Iqbal’s recent post on the CustomerThink website entitled “ The Paradox At The Heart of Customer-Centric Business” challenged the very nature of customer centricity. Whilst his ideas are certainly thought-provoking and perhaps controversial, I do agree that customer centricity alone will not grow a business. However, I personally believe that most organisations have spent most of their existence thinking more about all the other areas of the business and less about the people that actually make their businesses viable, their customers.
The Customer is now the Boss
Whilst this still continues to be the case in many organisations – unfortunately – and taking inspiration from Brady’s article, I thought I would share my own thoughts on what we can do to better please our Customers / Bosses.
#1. Make sure everything we do is ABCD: We shouldn’t be satisfied with our customers’ satisfaction! We need to go Above and Beyond the Call of Duty when trying to please them. We should surprise and delight them whenever we can, responding not only to their articulated needs, but also their unarticulated and even unimagined needs.
Look at Apple who regularly proposes technologies that their customers didn’t even know they needed and which surprisingly quickly become an essential part of their lives. They underst and their customers so well that they even know what they (we) will want in the future.
#2. Underst and what they need to know: According to a recent report by Adobe on what keeps marketers up at night, the number one issue is reaching their customers.
If we really underst and our customers, we will know how to reach them, where and when they are ready to hear what we have to say. Continue Reading
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?
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.
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. Continue Reading