Feedback Fuelled Success: The Dynamic Duo of Continuous Improvement and Customer Insights

Last week I spoke about the importance of actioning customer feedback, so I want to now focus on continuous improvement by using the information to optimise the brands and services you offer.

 

The Customer’s Need for Continuous Improvement

The only constant in business today is change! And customers expect businesses to be constantly adapting and preparing for their future needs.

A survey by Salesforce reported that 76% of consumers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations.

Thriving in this dynamic environment requires a commitment to continuous improvement and a deep understanding of customer needs and preferences.

Businesses that embrace these practices enhance their products and services and craft exceptional customer experiences, setting themselves apart from the competition.

This blog looks at the critical role of continuous improvement and customer feedback, offering insights and strategies to help organizations stay ahead and resonate with their market.

 

The Value of Continuous Improvement

Continuous improvement is not just a strategy; it’s a mindset that drives business growth and success. In a world where customer expectations are continually evolving, companies that prioritize ongoing improvement can adapt, innovate, and remain competitive.

For instance, Toyota, through its Kaizen philosophy, has seen a significant reduction in production costs and an increase in vehicle quality.

1.1 The Concept of Continuous Improvement

Continuous improvement, a philosophy embodied by concepts like Kaizen and lean management, is about making small, incremental changes that collectively lead to significant enhancements.

This approach is not just about streamlining processes; it’s about fostering a culture where every team member is empowered and encouraged to seek out ways to enhance performance and productivity.

A study by Bain & Company revealed that companies embracing lean management and continuous improvement techniques saw a 20% increase in customer satisfaction and a 35% growth in financial performance.

1.2 Benefits of Continuous Improvement

The benefits of continuous improvement extend beyond operational efficiency. It’s about nurturing a proactive culture that anticipates and responds to changes swiftly.

Organisations that adopt this approach witness improved productivity, heightened customer satisfaction, and a robust capacity for innovation. It’s not just about doing things right; it’s about doing the right things, continually.

For example, Motorola’s Six Sigma program has reportedly saved the company over $17 billion over the years.

 

Leveraging Customer Feedback for Improvement

Customer feedback is an invaluable resource, offering direct insights into what’s working and what’s not.

Microsoft’s decision to reintroduce the Start menu in Windows, following widespread customer feedback, significantly improved user satisfaction and acceptance.

2.1 Listening to Customer Voice

Customers interact with businesses through various channels, each offering unique insights. From surveys to social media interactions and direct customer service engagements, understanding how to collect and leverage these interactions is crucial.

Each channel provides a different perspective, collectively offering a comprehensive view of customer sentiment and experience.

Adobe’s Digital Trends Report highlighted that companies with strong omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain on average 89% of their customers compared to 33% for companies with weak omnichannel strategies.

2.2 Analyzing Customer Feedback

Click to continue reading

Today’s Toughest Marketing Challenge is Not Achieving Customer Satisfaction!

Customer satisfaction doesn’t last as long as it used to.

We’ve all become extremely demanding, thanks to constant new offers of innovation and novelty.

Today, we want things better, faster and sometimes cheaper as well. And customer satisfaction is becoming insufficient to drive growth alone. Companies need to deliver more, a lot more!

I was recently in the US, and as seems to be the norm these days, the hotel in which I stayed asked me to rate my stay afterwards. I completed their form, giving only four and five-star ratings, as I had been very satisfied with my visit, the hotel room, the staff and their services. Imagine my surprise, therefore when I got the following email a day or so after submitting my review:

“Thank you for taking the time to complete our online survey regarding your recent stay at our hotel.

On behalf of our entire team, I would like to apologize for failing to exceed your expectations. Your satisfaction is important to us and we will be using the feedback you provided to make improvements to ensure we offer an exceptional experience for our guests in the future.

I hope that you will consider staying with us again so that we can have another chance to provide you with a superior experience.”

Shocking mail, isn’t it? To think that a Hotel would apologise for not exceeding my expectations!

I believe that is exactly why they get a 4.5-star rating on TripAdvisor. For them, customer satisfaction is not enough; they want their guests to be enchanted, enthralled, and excited, so a return visit is a “no-brainer”; no other hotel choice would make sense!

So I have a question for you: How do you treat your own customers? Do you do just enough to satisfy them, or do you consistently look to exceed their expectations?

If you are a regular reader here – and I’d love to know why if you’re not, so I can do better in the future – you will know that I often talk about “surprising” and “delighting” our customers. These are not hollow words; there’s a very real reason why I use them. The reason is that our customers may be satisfied, but they will never stay satisfied for long.

The above example is one way that the hotel staff ensures they have enough time to correct whatever is not a “superior experience,” as they term their own desired service level, and to continue to offer total customer satisfaction.

 

Examples of Brands Going Beyond Customer Satisfaction

Here are a few examples of other companies that go above and beyond in terms of their own customer service. I hope they inspire you to do the same and to aspire to exceed customer satisfaction whenever and wherever you can.

Coming back to the title of this post, I hope you now agree that satisfaction is no longer sufficient to attract and keep your customers.

It’s time to step up your game to aim Click to continue reading

7 Ways to Deliver Awesome Customer Service & Build Loyal Advocates

How can some companies deliver awesome customer service while others get it so totally wrong?!

I want to share a personal story of disinterested client support with you this week. From it, I have drawn seven learnings for everyone wanting to deliver awesome customer service and build loyal advocates.

Let me start by saying that it still puzzles me why any organisation would have trouble offering superior customer service when there are so many great examples they merely have to copy. (JetBlue, Sainsbury’s, Amazon, Zappos) In fact, Mark Earls wrote a great book on exactly this topic, called Copy, Copy, Copy which I highly recommend.

This story is just one example of how some companies still struggle to accept that the customer is right, even when they’re wrong! Not that I was wrong in this case (at least I don’t think so, but I’ll let you be the judge of that).

However, the company concerned certainly gave me the impression that they believed I might have been trying to cheat them with the information I provided in my emails. They were never satisfied with what I sent, even when it was what THEY had specifically requested!

Perhaps they were just dragging out the process hoping not to have to “pay up”. You can see for yourself below, or just jump to the seven learnings at the end of the post so that you can avoid making the same mistakes yourself.

 

Background

Many years ago I bought a TomTom guidance system to help me navigate the streets of American cities.

I love to drive and feel just as much at home on a 26-lane Los Angeles highway as the two-lane Swiss autoroute system. (If you’re interested in which Californian road is 26 lanes wide, it’s the I-5/I-405 interchange.) However, after making many impromptu visits to unplanned US destinations I decided it was time to get a mobile GPS to use in my rental cars.

A few years on, I thought that it could also help me in Europe, even Switzerland, when trying to locate a new client or contact. (My car at the time was almost fifteen years old  and wasn’t equipped with a GPS!) I, therefore, added Europe to my online account, since my model couldn’t keep both in memory at the same time!

Last May I replaced the European maps with my American ones as I was visiting Florida that month. When I tried to reinstall the European maps in September, they had somehow disappeared from my account. I contacted TomTom customer service to ask how I could get my maps back and this is how our conversation went over the pursuing three months – with their worst English mistakes removed or corrected for better comprehension, but their own font bolding left in. (!)

 

The Exchange with TomTom

Me: Hi there, I contacted you in May about changing from European to US maps. I now want to change back and the maps are no longer Click to continue reading

From Good to Extraordinary: Ignite Your Business with Personalized Customer Delight

It’s time to move from customer satisfaction to customer delight. After all, no one wants to be good when they can be great!

These days, providing a delightful, personalized experience for customers is no longer just a luxury—it’s a necessity for sustainable business growth. While every business is personal, which we would do well to remember, many companies shy away from truly getting close to their customers. Perhaps they’re afraid they will learn that they’re not as awesome as they like to think they are!

However, it is precisely through building strong engagement and trust that businesses can unlock their full potential.

It’s time for a paradigm shift in your approach to customer service, empowering your employees to exceed customer expectations, so they can drive sales, and foster long-term loyalty. (I wrote about this a few weeks ago; take a look at “4 Ways to Empower Your Employees to Give Outstanding Customer Service” for more details)

By understanding the importance of effortless customer journeys, personal connections, and continuous improvement, organizations can transform their customer service into a powerful growth engine.

 

The power of effortless journeys

Every touchpoint in the customer journey presents an opportunity to leave a lasting impression. To provide a truly personalized experience, businesses must go above and beyond mere satisfaction and aim for effortless interactions at every stage.

Understanding and anticipating customer needs is crucial to achieving this. By leveraging data, market research, and customer feedback, companies can gain valuable insights into their customers’ preferences, pain points, and desires.

Armed with this knowledge, businesses can tailor their touchpoints to meet and exceed expectations. Whether it’s a seamless online purchasing process, a user-friendly mobile app, or a responsive customer support system, every effort should be made to eliminate friction and make the customer’s journey as effortless as possible.

And the effort is worth it:

  • According to a study by Salesforce, 84% of customers say being treated like a person, not a number, is crucial to winning their business.
  • Research by Accenture reveals that 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that provide relevant offers and recommendations.
  • A report by Deloitte found that companies that prioritize personalization see an average sales uplift of 10-20%.

 

Smiling for that personal connection 

Building genuine connections with customers is the cornerstone of exceptional customer service. A smile is one of the most powerful tools to establish this connection.

Even in a call centre environment, where interactions may be limited to voice-only, a smile can be heard through the phone and can significantly impact the customer’s experience. Encouraging customer service representatives to adopt a friendly, empathetic tone and providing them with the necessary training and resources to do so can make all the difference.

Customers appreciate feeling valued and heard, and a warm, personalized interaction can leave a lasting positive impression. By investing in employee development and creating a culture that values the human element of customer service, businesses can cultivate stronger relationships and inspire customer loyalty.

Building … Click to continue reading

The Power of Real-Time Feedback to Drive Business Success

In today’s fast-paced and customer-centric business environment, gathering real-time customer feedback and engaging in social media conversations are both vital practices.

These approaches enable organizations to gain valuable insights, enhance their products/services, and deliver the exceptional experiences our customers have come to expect. By actively listening to customers, organizations can meet customer expectations, drive loyalty, and gain a competitive edge. Here’s how.

 

Understanding the Value of Real-Time Customer Feedback

There are many benefits of real-time customer feedback, the two most important being:

The power of gaining timely customer insights: These are at the core of every customer-centric organisation. Real-time feedback allows organizations to stay agile, make informed decisions, and then respond quickly to changing customer needs.

According to a study by the Aberdeen Group, companies that leverage real-time customer feedback are 33% more likely to retain customers.

By promptly addressing customer pain points, organizations can reduce frustration and escalation, while at the same time enhancing satisfaction and loyalty. This increases both customer retention and revenue growth, two things every organisation wants.

Turning feedback into actionable improvements: Organizations can transform customer feedback into actionable improvements by employing techniques such as sentiment analysis, categorization, and prioritization. These methods help extract valuable insights that can then be used to drive meaningful change.

A leading e-commerce company revealed that analyzing customer feedback using sentiment analysis led to a 25% increase in customer satisfaction ratings. By systematically analyzing feedback data, organizations can identify trends, common issues, and areas for improvement, enabling them to prioritize and implement impactful changes.

 

Implementing Feedback Collection Mechanisms

There are numerous ways in which an organisation can gather real-time customer feedback. Here are three of the most popularly used ones:

In-app feedback and surveys: Collecting feedback directly within digital channels, such as mobile apps or websites, offers an organisation numerous benefits. By implementing in-app feedback prompts, targeted surveys, and pop-up questionnaires, they can capture customer sentiments in the moment. As a result, they gain valuable insights that can help them improve their offerings, without having to rely on the customer’s memory.

A survey conducted by Qualtrics found that 72% of customers prefer providing feedback within a mobile app.

Airbnb successfully collects in-app feedback on a permanent basis, as anyone who has used their service knows. It enables the company to enhance the user experience, resulting in continuous improvements and increased customer satisfaction.

Live chat and support interactions: Real-time feedback gathered during live chat and customer services interactions provides immediate insights into customer experiences. Organizations can leverage chat transcripts, agent feedback forms, and post-chat surveys to gather valuable feedback and measure customer satisfaction.

After implementing post-chat surveys, one telecommunications company recorded a 20% increase in customer satisfaction scores. People like being asked their opinion, especially when it doesn’t take much effort, as in near real-time questioning.

Post-interaction ratings and reviews: These also play a significant role in collecting real-time feedback. Encouraging customers to provide ratings and reviews immediately after their interactions, helps capture their experiences and sentiments while they … Click to continue reading

Essentials of a Customer First Strategy Every Industry Needs to Adopt

Every business should strive to improve their customers’ experience with their products and services. Adopting a customer first strategy is therefore often mentioned as a company objective. Unfortunately, it rarely goes beyond the theory in most organisations, so I decided to help out with these six suggestions.

Hospitality is perhaps one of the most visible industries where customer satisfaction, or lack of, is quickly shared with the world.  (Read my last post for more on this)

It is true that without satisfaction, customers will not return to a hotel or restaurant. And they will almost certainly share their (bad) experiences with anyone who will listen – including online!

Hospitality is also one of the industries that receives the most comments online, thanks to TripAdvisor and other booking sites. There is no hiding from their clients!

Now while I empathise, this is not all bad news. Because it means that great service will also be more quickly known about online. Therefore you can make changes and see the results almost immediately, or at least far quicker than in most other businesses.

However, despite this, I believe that the hospitality industry has a lot it can learn from consumer packaged goods (CPG) where improvements take the consumer longer to appreciate. In fact most other industries could benefit from taking a look at some of CPG’s best-in-class processes.

Both the hospitality and CPG industries have their customers at their heart; after all it’s in their name. They are both founded on pleasing and hopefully delighting their clientele in the quality of the products and services they offer.

However, as the world changes, customer demands do too and companies need to stay current if not ahead of these requirements, in order to ensure continued growth.

 

The 6 essentials of a customer first strategy

#1. From ROI / ROR to ROE

There has been a lot of talk recently on moving from a return on investment to a return on relationship metric. While I agree with the importance of relationships, I believe that what we should be talking about is engagement. Be honest, other than the author of the once popular book that started talking about brand love, who wants to have a relationship with a brand?!

Brands that have a high following and loyalty have found a way to consistently engage their fans and keep them coming back. They become involved and interested in the brand, the product, their website, even their communications.

Coca Cola and Red Bull are great examples of this. You should also check out another post entitles “Increasing Impact & Engagement through Advertising Testing.”

 

#2. Building Relationships with Strangers

While the hospitality industry is based on serving and satisfying its guests, in today’s connected world, it also needs to consider people who are currently strangers – but who could potentially become clients.

These might be the friends of current guests, who for example the Rosewood Mayakoba resort in Mexico tries to attract. Let me explain.

This wonderful … Click to continue reading

5 Powerful Ways to Upgrade Your Customer Journey Maps

Mapping your customer journey is an important part of understanding and satisfying them better. Since the travel and leisure industries are still in turmoil after covid, I believe that now is a good time to review how they treat their customers. And this should include their customer journey mapping.

Through the example of an experience I had with the Hilton Group, I share some important lessons about getting customer service right! These will be invaluable as the travel industry fights to recover. 

 

Background

Each year around Christmas time, my family get together for a weekend of fun somewhere in Britain. Last year we met up in Bristol. As a Hilton Honors member for more than twenty years, I offered to book rooms for all of us in the local Doubletree.

I expected to get a better rate with my membership, and certainly cheaper than those offered by all the booking sites. Well, I reserved five double rooms for the weekend, as well as a table for ten in their restaurant for dinner on the Saturday evening.

I booked directly by calling the hotel, as I always prefer to do. I expect to be recognised for my loyalty – and if possible rewarded too! On this occasion I was proven seriously wrong!

A couple of weeks after booking and pre-paying for all the rooms, I received Hilton’s weekly newsletter offering me a significant discount for the exact same hotel and dates. Clearly their online pixels had identified me as being interested in this hotel, but they hadn’t connected this interest with my having booked directly. You can already see from this, that their customer journey mapping is incomplete.

As Hilton offer a “guaranteed lowest rate” I reached out to their call centre and was told that yes I was entitled not only to the lower rate, but to an additional 25% discount for having made the claim. I was told how to complete the claim form and I hung up ecstatic that I could save my family even more money – which we would no doubt spend in the bar before and after our dinner!

Imagine my surprise when the next day I was informed that my claim had been refused! I was notified that the guaranteed lowest rate only applied to third-party sites and not to Hilton’s own website!

I immediately responded and was again told that their guarantee didn’t apply to their own rates. In addition, as I had pre-paid I could not get the lower rate even if it was now being offered!

Not being one to take “no” for a final answer, I contacted their corporate customer service group again, as I felt my loyalty was not being recognized. I was once more given the same response, but this time was informed that my request would be forwarded directly to the hotel concerned – no doubt to get me off their (corporate) backs!

The hotel immediately responded saying that although it is corporate policy not … Click to continue reading

The New Qualities for Customer Service Excellence

The covid pandemic clearly highlighted those companies that truly care about their customers and which provide customer service excellence.

If a company claims to be customer centric, they must not just talk the talk, but walk the talk too. The pandemic gave many people more time to review from whom they bought and what services they were getting in return.

A few years ago I was prompted to question my own purchase decision of cable services from the Swiss company UPC-Cablecom. It had been known to have a  long-term deficit in customer service excellence versus its main competitor Swisscom. And as recent PWC research shows, 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience.

Swisscom has made customer service their MSP (main selling point or value proposition) and they were renowned for putting their customers first. UPC-Cablecom, on the other hand, had until then, been trying to win customers through non-stop promotions and aggressive price cutting. In today’s connected world, especially where the internet is concerned, dissatisfied customers will be quickly heard – across the net.

Back to the incident that prompted this post. After a few days of being ignored by UPC-Cablecom – my perception at least, because my emails and phone calls were not being answered – I’m somewhat embarrassed to say that I resorted to Twitter.

More than five years ago, Twitter was first referred to as today’s customer service centre. Social media usually guarantees a quick response, since contacting customer services through the usual channels often results in no reaction for hours if not days.

What makes a great customer care centre?

Customers these days expect a response in minutes or hours rather than days. Research shows that nearly half of all customers (46%) expect companies to respond faster than 4 hours, and 12% expect a response within 15 minutes or less. And yet the average time to respond to customer service requests is currently 12 hours and 10 minutes! How do your own customer service response times compare? As you enjoy my blog posts I assume they are significantly better.

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

But too often the result of all that effort is just a recording telling you to call back later as the department needed is not open at the moment, or that the collaborators are currently busy and to please stay on the line.

We are next subjected to music supposedly designed to calm our nerves, interspersed with messages suggesting alternative solutions to waiting in line. Go to the website to find a solution in their available FAQs, complete a contact form, or send an email. I find this insulting since I am sure most people only call after trying to find a solution … Click to continue reading

Adopting a Customer First Strategy. Even the Police Can Get it Right!

In most countries, the population have a love / hate relationship with their police. You can imagine my surprise, therefore, to find myself writing about how they appear to be adopting a customer first strategy in Switzerland!

Let me explain. A few years ago they introduced a new-style speed radars in the villages around my home town. The elements are not that new per se, I know, but last week it suddenly hit me why these speed cameras seem to be so effective. It’s simple; they’re customer centric! The Swiss police have adopted a customer first strategy! And that’s why I want to share more about this story here.

 

Background

One of the reasons why the Police are disliked in many (dare I say most?) countries, is because of their insidious speed controls.

Whether they are permanent fixtures as on the right, or temporary ones, we all dislike the flash that tells us it’s too late, that we’ve been “caught.”

We then wait a few days, to weeks or even months, naively hoping that it wasn’t our car that was flashed. But eventually the letter arrives asking us to pay a fine.

I think the worst of them all are the laser guns that the Police have been using for many years now. We don’t even know we’ve been flashed until the communication arrives at our home! Or we are pulled up a few hundred meters down the road.

 

The relatively new types of radar that are being introduced in my home area don’t flash either. But that’s because we never get “caught” as such.

You see they measure our speed and give us immediate feedback. Take a look at the photo on the right; I’m sure you’ve seen such installations before in your own area.

Now if we make the assumption that all four types of equipment are to get road users to decrease their speed in critical areas – and not just to gather money as I’ve heard suggested – then the results must vary widely.

 

 

So let me share my thoughts from the perspective of a customer first strategy champion.

 

What This Has to Do with Your business

So why is this example relevant for you and your own customer first strategy? Well, ask yourself what you really want for your business? 

In the case of the police, I am assuming that they want to reduce the speed of drivers in certain areas and make the roads safer for everyone. In this case, the customer-centric approach, which has by far the most success at slowing drivers down to within the speed limit along a larger portion of the road, is the information panel. If that is their objective, then the Police in every country should adopt these new style radars.

But if those who consider speed checks to be a mere money-making operation are right, then the Police will continue to use one of their other options. And they must accept the … Click to continue reading

Are You Giving What Customers Want Today?

As a dedicated customer centricity champion, just like you, I spend a lot of my time researching what customers want, just like you do too, I hope. In this period of great global unrest, understanding our customers has become more important than ever before.

Just a few short months ago, I didn’t think that it would be possible for customer-centricity to become any more important. But things change and now everyone is fighting to keep their businesses afloat. So the new and constantly altering needs and desires of our customers should be a top priority for all of us to follow.

To help me keep abreast of the changes, I’m regularly checking online searches for such terms as customer service, customer satisfaction and customer care. Google and Bing have become some of my best friends!

A couple of years ago, I came across some surprising facts, which prompted this post when I first drafted it. But with the incredibly unforeseen events of the past few years, I feel it deserves a update.

Already at the time, my analysis suggested a serious problem in the business of looking after our customers. Today it is clear that any organisation that hasn’t spent time putting things right, will most certainly be suffering in this post-pandemic, global unrest in which companies are trying to do business. I’d be interested to hear your own thoughts once you have read the article.

 

Customer Centricity

Wikipedia, another of my faithful friends, doesn’t have a definition for customer centricity! If you look up the term, you get directed to customer satisfaction! Unbelievable.  Try it for yourself and see!

Gartner defines customer centricity as:

“The ability of people in an organisation to understand customers’ situations, perceptions, and expectations.”

It then goes on to say:

“Customer centricity demands that the customer is the focal point of all decisions related to delivering products, services and experiences to create customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.”

What I particularly like about this definition, is that it refers to customer understanding and the need for customers to be the focus of decision-making. It also highlights the need to create not just customer satisfaction, but loyalty and advocacy too.

Now whereas it seems to be difficult to build longterm loyalty these days, especially in B2C businesses, advocacy is essential in today’s connected world. Of course the latter means that customers are surprised and delighted rather than just satisfied, so that they are excited to share their positive experiences with others.


Need help in adopting a customer-first strategy?

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Aim for Advocacy Rather than Loyalty

As we all know, it costs between 5 and 25 times more to acquire a new customer as it does to retain existing ones. (Invesp) Therefore strong loyalty is a valuable benefit for a brand. But covid saw us all changing our purchasing behaviours, as we researched, compared and then bought more online. So although loyalty is difficult, it … Click to continue reading

The 6 Best Ways to Show you Respect Your Customers

I was recently asked to speak about how to build relationships with clients, in this case for a realtor association. In preparing for the interview, I got to thinking about customer privacy and how important it is to build a mutually beneficial relationship to respect customers.

Customers don’t want to be automatically segmented and followed as they go about the web, viewing different sites. An article on Business2Community by Owen Ray says 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 about the topic of cookies, I highly recommend this two-part article.

Companies that 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. Many businesses ask far too much of their customers, with little if anything in return. I believe this is one of the major reasons customers today are becoming sensitive to what and to whom they give information about their interests, habits, needs and wishes. And why cookies are rapidly becoming a thing of the past.

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 intentionally, if at all, subscribe! You too?

Whether you are connecting with your customers by mail, phone, email or the web, you must first request permission to ask any questions and gather the information you are looking for.

Not only should you ask for their consent if you are not in direct personal contact, but you should also double-check that permission when connecting via email or the web. You have to ensure that the agreement has been given by your customers and that they are still ready to provide the information.

Being attentive to privacy when starting to build a relationship is vital and shows that you respect your customers.

This 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 agreed to provide or receive information or to be put on your mailing list.

Far too often, I see requests where permission is encouraged by using colourful buttons to click, or an implied criticism if you don’t, with phrases such as  “No, I have enough sales” or “No, I don’t want to save money”.

 

2. There Must be Mutual Benefit

When your customer has agreed to provide information, you need to thank them immediately. This can be as simple as … Click to continue reading

The Exciting Future of Brand Building comes from Customer Centricity

Marketing is an old profession. It’s been around for hundreds of years in one form or another. But with the advent of digital in the early 80’s, companies began taking a serious look at their marketing strategies.

Many organisations realised that it was time for a major overhaul of their primarily outbound strategies. Consumers no longer appreciated being interrupted in their daily lives, if they ever did! Marketing had to find ways to stimulate more inbound engagements, but how?

However, after trying multiple inbound marketing strategies, they find that they are still irritating their customers with spammy emails, intrusive pop-ups and over-complicated cookies, that gather far more information than most organisations will ever need or use. At least those will soon be a thing of the past!

Despite these changes, CMOs remain one of the leading c-suite members who struggle to keep their jobs for more than four or five years. The reasons are many, but the post “Head of Marketing, How Can You Keep Your Job When Most CMOs Are Losing Theirs?” explains what you can do to ensure that you leave your position when you want to and not on your CEO’s terms.

Brand Building

Many large CPG companies, such as P&G, Coca-Cola and Nestle, have changed the name of their Marketing departments in the past twenty years, to Brand Building. They hoped that it would revive sales and give new vitality to their communications to better engage their customers in the new social world. But most failed miserably, because they remained very much in a state of business as usual. They continued with the same processes and mind-sets. And with few exceptions, they prioritised thoughts about themselves and their brands, and rarely took their customers’ perspective.

A more recent change is bringing more marketing tasks in-house, as P&G has done. Read more here. While this certainly saves a considerable part of their budget, the biggest advantage from my perspective, is that these companies automatically learn more about their customers’ behaviour. When you are planning communication campaigns and deciding on ad spend, you need to understand where your customers are and when they are most open to receiving your messages. That for me is far more valuable than any savings on agency costs. What do you think?

Even without making such a drastic move, many other consumer goods companies have realised that to satisfy the consumer they had to do things differently. They were the ones that moved to customer centricity. Or to be exact they started on their journey towards putting the customer at the heart of their businesses. Customer centricity is not a destination, because consumers are constantly changing and their satisfaction never lasts for long. It is a journey where you are accompanying your customers with the aim to satisfy and delight them, however they change.

One of the issues that has been created by marketing is that I believe we have taught our customers far too well! They understand a lot more about … Click to continue reading

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