Is there a Future for Insight Departments? Five Actions to Help you Decide

Many organisations have revamped their Market Research groups as Insight Departments in the past five to ten years. However, it takes more than a name change for those involved to achieve the recognition they deserve.

If you work in or with such a department, then read on, as I have some ideas on how you can achieve this.

Last month Forrester issued the results of some research they had done looking into the Future of Market Research in 2013. Their conclusions, even if dated today, are still highly relevant:

  1. 2013 is the year of truth for market insights: their future will depend on how successful they are at getting increased investments and tapping into alternative information sources than just market research
  2. Market insights departments need to invest in knowledge, technology and skills: the group will need to better respond to the fast-paced management need for the customer understanding that can impact their business decisions
  3. Vendors have to show their worth: suppliers have become commodity providers as they have allowed their clients to select on price more than differentiation.
  4. Future market insights solutions have to connect the dots: single source is no longer sufficient – if it ever was – and vendors need to be able to better respond to the need for 360 degree perspectives.

Whilst I certainly agree with these conclusions, which in fact impact both supplier and company insight professionals, I believe that most of these needs are not really new.

Some more forward-thinking organisations have in fact already identified and adjusted to these changed needs.

So what is there to do if you haven’t? How do you prioritise what needs to be done in your organisation? Here are my top 5 tips:

 

#1. Find out What Management Really Needs

It is amazing how many market research and insight groups still have little, or no contact with top management. So how can they possibly be perceived as value creators for the business?

It is not enough just to attend the presentations of the business plans or to get a copy of them to read afterwards. You need to talk with those who wrote them and those who will implement them.

Ideally, you should be instrumental in helping to draw them up. Get out of your offices and into the boardrooms and hallowed top-floor offices. Listen hard and ask tough questions. Make sure you understand where the company is going and your role in getting there.

 

 

Well those are my starter for five. What else would you add to help bring insight departments into the center of the brave new world of customer centric organisations?

If you carry out these first five steps that I have mentioned, then you will start getting more appreciation for the real value you are adding to the business. And then perhaps your budgets may even be increased, which will then lead to even greater value. Now that’s what I call a win-win and a really bright future for everyone in Insight! What do you think?

Do you need help in upgrading your market research or insight department? Check out our website for more actionable ideas and training, then contact me here:

https://c3centricity.com/contact

C³Centricity used images from  Dreamstime.com  and  Kozzi.com in this post.

Improving Customer Centricity in Hospitality

The title of this week’s post might surprise you. After all, the hospitality industry should be customer centric as it relies on satisfying its guests, no?

However, it has a lot it can learn from consumer packaged goods (CPG), as I shared recently with industry experts at a Faculty Day of one of the leading hospitality schools in Switzerl and. If you would like to learn what I revealed, then read on.

Both the hospitality and CPG industries have their customers at their heart. They both are founded on pleasing and hopefully delighting their clientele in the quality of the products and services they offer. However, as the world changes, customer dem ands increase and companies need to stay current if not ahead of these dem ands in order to ensure continued growth.

During my short presentation earlier this week, these are some of the points that I covered:

#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 relationships. Whilst I agree with the importance of relationships, I believe that what we should be talking about is engagement, since honestly, who wants to have a relationship with a br and?! Br ands that have a high following and loyalty have found a way to consistently engage their fans and keep them coming back; to the br and, the product, their website, their communications. Coca Cola and Red Bull are great examples of this.

#2. Build Relationships with Strangers

Customer centricity means building relationships with strangersWhilst the hospitality industry has been based on serving and satisfying its guests, in todays connected world it also needs to consider people who are currently strangers – but could potentially become guests. These might be the friends of current guest, which for example the Rosewood Mayakoba resort in Mexico tries to attract. This wonderful hotel encourages its guests to photograph their experiences during their stay at the resort and then to post them on Facebook. This not only provides free publicity for the hotel, but also enables it to start engaging these friends, whom one might assume are potential clients since they are probably similar to their current guests.

#3. Value is more Important than Price

Having additional control in their lives today means that customers are re-evaluating what they are offered. They have higher expectations and are more discerning in their choices. They expect recognition at every touchpoint, even if in reality their peers influence their decisions more than does traditional marketing. The internet enables them to compare offers, so they are less interested in bundled propositions,preferring to decide what is best value for them personally for each element.

#4. Renovation is more than Buildings

Most CPG companies have annual targets for Innovation & Renovation, sometimes 30% or more of annual revenue. They also have mid-term innovation pipelines which can include partnerships in joint ventures with what were previously only competitors. These help each partner by building on their individual talents and enable them to develop better products and services. For hospitality, innovation can no longer be purely physical or rational; we need to consider more emotional and relational ways to satisfy. The Rosewood Mayakoba resort, already mentioned above, is one good example of this; the Art Series Hotels are another. Check out the latter’s recent ad to underst and better how they excel at underst anding their guests: Art Series Overstay Checkout, or why not review the picture posted on MayaKoba Facebook page?

#5. Loyalty is never really Won

One of the reasons that I believe we need to work on building engagement and in all industries, not just hospitality, is because customer dem ands are constantly evolving. What satisfied them yesterday can bore or even disappoint today. To acquire and retain our customers, we need to be constantly upgrading our products and services, so that they will be surprised and delighted. This means that loyalty is much less long-term than in the past and lifetime value is now measured in months or a few years, rather than in decades.

#6. Dialogue don’t just Communicate

In today’s connected world, customers want a say in not only what they consume, but also where, when and how they are marketed to. They want a say in what they buy and expect a rapid resolution to any queries or complaints. According to a recent Edison Research, 20% expect a company to answer to their social media post within 15 minutes, 42% within the hour! That means 24/7 monitoring for all organisations if we are not to disappoint are most engaged customers.

These are just six of the many ideas I shared during my presentation. If you are interested in seeing the full talk, you can find it on SlideShare here.

Are you struggling to improve your own customer centricity? Whatever people-facing industry you are in, we would welcome the chance to support and catalyse your efforts. Please check out our website for more information and contact us here.

C³Centricity uses images from  Dreamstime.com  and  Kozzi.com

13 Marketing Quotes to Inspire Customer Centricity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#3. “The more you engage with customers the clearer things become and the easier it is to determine what you should be doing” John Russell, President, Harley Davidson (>>Click to Tweet<<)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

C³Centricity uses images from Dreamstime.com and Kozzi.com

 

10 Inspiring Customer Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

10 Things your Customers won’t tell you

Customer centricity has many organisations buzzing in anticipation today. Everyone seems to be talking about it and saying how important it is to the success of their business. 

We are all trying to satisfy our customers as best we can, but all too often we continue to take our own perspective, instead of theirs. Here are ten things your customers wished you knew about them.

#1. I’m sometimes irrational

Don’t ask me why I do what I do. Sometimes I don’t even know why I do things myself! If you really want to underst and me, don’t ask me questions, be a part of my life to underst and things from my own personal perspective.

 

#2. I like gifts

Yes I know I won’t tell you I bought something because I saw it advertised, but the promise of a gift really does help. We never get enough gifts, especially as an adult. Even if I know it is not that special, it makes ME feel special on an otherwise ordinary day, so go on, give me an unexpected treat.

 

#3. I like advertising

Yes I know I tell you it doesn’t matter, but I really do like watching some ads on television. Especially if they make me laugh or tell me something I didn’t know, or entertain me. I will watch them and even more than once, so your br and name might just be in my head when I next go shopping.

 

#4. I don’t like being taken for a fool

I know prices are going up all the time, but don’t try and fool me by putting less and less in the pack whilst maintaining the same pack size and price. One day I’ll notice and I won’t be happy – at all!

 

#5. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver

Also, don’t try to fool me by promising something on the pack you can’t or don’t deliver. OK you need to make your product or service look appealing to me, but if you over-promise and under-deliver it will only make any negative feelings I might have become even stronger. Even if I buy once, it’s doubtful that I’ll buy again if you have disappointed me.

 

#6. I’m just not that into you

With very few exceptions that I am really passionate about, most products and services I buy satisfy a need that I am looking to fulfil. There are usually choices available to me, so don’t take my loyalty for granted. Every purchase is a decision for me, so make it easy by always satisfying my continually exp anding needs. If you don’t, one of your competitors can probably do just as good a job as you do.

 

#7. Don’t confuse me with statistics

Whether it is offering different pack sizes at differing prices, or calculating fat / sugar content by weight instead of calories, I check your maths with my smart-phone today. I believe I should get larger sizes for less money per gram, and lower fat / sugar content for less calorie intake. I will check your claims, so don’t play the numbers game with me.

 

#8. Be happy when I complain

If I complain about something it means I care. You should be happy that I care enough to actually tell you when I am dissatisfied. Make it easy for me to contact you, give me a choice of mediums and make damn sure you satisfy me completely when you listen and respond. I will not only take my business elsewhere if I am unhappy with your response, but will probably tell the whole world about it on social media too.

 

#9. Respect my ignorance

I like to know what you are offering me. What ingredients you use; where they come from; are they from sustainable sources; can I trust you? Give me the information I need, when I need it. Don’t bombard me with too much, or hide less positive things from me. Discuss with me as an equal, don’t talk down to me, after all I pay your wages.

 

#10. Be thankful I’m not satisfied

I know I may sometimes be a pain, but be thankful that I buy from you, tell you what I think of it and ask for more, better, larger, smaller etc etc. My need for constant change and improvements will challenge you to greater things and if you satisfy my rational needs and emotional desires, I might just stay loyal. Oh yes, and don’t believe everything I say; as I said in the beginning I can be irrational, so underst and not what I am saying, but what I mean by what I say.

What are your customers saying to you? Are you listening? No-one knows them better than they do themselves, even if they don’t know how to express what they are feeling / thinking in many cases. They might not always know what they want, but they can always tell you what they don’t want.

What have you heard lately? Please share the surprising comments your have listened to recently.

For more information on customers, how to connect and underst and them, please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/

Presentation success: 5 Tips to go from good to great

Are you sometimes frustrated that nobody seems to listen to your presentations as closely as you would like, or to take the actions you are recommending afterwards? 

Having been in the same position myself, I also know that you probably work hard to make needed transformations in your presentation content and style, to get the attention of management, but they either don’t notice or even worse don’t give you the chance to show that you can do better. If so, then this post is for you.

Recently, I came across an inspiring – if long – video made by Sony Music about their segmentation work. Anyone who has run a customer segmentation will surely underst and that although the project itself can be quite complex, even daunting at times, it is nothing in comparison to the challenges you must face to present it to the organisation and to get them to action it.

In the video they speak of a number of ideas that they came up with to get the company to buy into the study and to make the adjustments in their customer approach that were identified by the results. If you haven’t yet seen it I would definitely stop reading and click on the link given above; it is an inspiration to all who watch it, I guarantee.

Watching this video made me realise that however complicated an analytics project might be, it is only when the sharing of the results is effective, that it leads to action and success. Therefore I came up with the following five tips to help bring the change and action you are hoping for from your presentations, be they the results of market research projects, the summary of information you have gathered from trawling the web, or any other form of knowledge gathering, analysis and sharing.

#1. Don’t tell me what you’ve done

I know we all want to be believed and we think that sharing all the work we have done, the hours of analysis, the thous ands of interviews carried out etc will impress the audience. This can’t be further from the truth. Either the listeners already know what was done, or at least can find more information in the report should they want to.

Instead, why not tell them what they need to do? What are the actions they need to consider, to take advantage of the challenge or opportunity you have uncovered? Let’s spend time talking about ideas rather than information.

#2. Dump the data

Almost any gathering of data and information provides more knowledge than anyone can swallow at one time. Instead of sharing everything you have found, why not share only the small proportion that led you to the decisions and actions you are proposing? If people want more they will certainly ask and in general most people ask for less rather than more data in a presentation. Use their time for dialogue rather than a monologue!

#3. Dramatize by Visualizing

A picture tells a thous and words, so why do you continue to torture people with text and tables? Show pictures instead, or simple graphs at the very least, so that people will listen to you rather than trying to analyse and comprehend all the numbers you are showing, or trying to read all the words on your slides.

One great example of how people love pictures rather than too many statistics, is the rise in popularity of Infographics; why not make one yourself and give it away at the end of the meeting, rather than sending a report? You can find many inspiring examples on different topics  here.

#4. Do tell a story

Nothing is worse than drowning in data and never-ending tables of information. Make a change by telling a story rather than showing tables of the results and findings. Everyone likes a good story and what’s more they remember it. How often do people remember tables of data?

Sevendots, a C3Centricity partner, prides itself on storytelling in presentations and their clients have been known to retell the story to their colleagues afterwards and also to use the visualisation elements they saw. It is so much easier to remember a story than an analysis.

#5. Don’t give results give actions

Analysts love to drown us all in data and information, when what we are looking for are insights and actions. So instead of presenting results, why not develop insights, by integrating all the other things you know about the subject under discussion and proposing actions or changes that would answer the issues or opportunities that have been identified? This way everyone goes away with concrete ideas of what needs to be done, rather than a sore head from all the data and information. If you have followed tip 4 then this will be a natural conclusion, as every story has an ending.

These are five ideas that I came up with to help the world move away from boring presentations to the more inspiring world of storytelling. They should certainly help your presentations be more successful. Do you have any other ideas on how to make information sharing fun for everyone? I would love to hear about your own best experiences; how did you inspire your audience?

For more on knowledge sharing and presentations, do check out our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and/

This post is based on one that first appeared on C3Centricity Dimensions on April 26th 2012.

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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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6 Tips to Thinking Outside the Innovation Box

Does your business have an innovation process? No? Then perhaps you should count yourself lucky! Most businesses that do have one, sometimes get stuck in it, stopping them from thinking Bigger and Bolder, and therefore also stopping them from dreaming. If this is the case with your own organisation, then this post should offer some inspiration for change.

When companies are starting up, they often begin with just one or a few products or services to offer. However, as they grow, they get ideas about other products or services they could add, sometimes at the suggestion of their current customers. As business continues to grow, they might set up an innovation process or put someone in charge of searching for new ideas and unfortunately this tends to be when they start to lose contact with their customers and what they really desire.

Today we all underst and the importance of customer centricity, the power of putting the customer at the heart of the business and yet we still manage to forget them somehow when looking to innovate. For this reason, I thought it would be useful to share my six tips to help you to think outside the innovation box in your organisation, whether you are a big multinational, or just a small local firm.

#1. Start with your customers in mind

This makes so much sense and yet we all seem to forget it at times. Big companies have R&D departments so their innovations tend to be technology and skill driven. Smaller ones have maybe more limited resources, so ideation falls on the desk of the owner, marketing head or the person responsible for operations. All businesses have customers, so why not start with them? What do they dream about improving, what are their biggest issues with your category? Finding solutions to their frustrations will almost certainly guarantee the success of your next new product or service.

#2. Why do you want to innovate?

The answer to this simple question will give you some ideas of the solutions you need to create:

  • Is competition growing? If so, what do they know about your customers that you don’t? What can you do about it, both now as well as in the future to stop it happening again?
  • Is the market segment growing faster than you are, so even though your sales are growing you are losing market share? If so, why; what products and sub-categories are increasing, what benefits are attracting customers more than in the past? Can you follow or lead with a different benefit area?
  • Is your image getting old and in need of updating? Where are your comparative weaknesses and is competition filling all possible positionings in the category map?

#3. Do you need to innovate or renovate?

The difference between the two can make a huge difference in what you develop. If you need to innovate but actually produce a “small” innovation, closer to a renovation, you are less likely to succeed, at least in CPG, according to Steenkamp. Identify which end of the innovation scale you are aiming for and rework your ideas until you reach it.

#4. Can you innovate outside your box?

Most companies innovate in very predictable ways, so that even their current customers are less excited or inspired to try their new offers. This is unfortunately a trait of human behaviour; we all get bored in the end, even with the best product or service that excited us when it was launched. What was once seen as a breakthrough can quickly become taken for granted as customers become used to it. Therefore why not think outside the box, using different levers? For example food companies continuously bring out new flavours, when maybe a new sensation is what’s needed. Nestlé’s chocolate mousse is a great example of this.

#5. Reinventing innovation needs a new culture, not a new process

As mentioned above, new processes are usually not the best answer to more successful innovation. According to a recent Forbes article likeminded people develop likeminded products. To create breakthrough innovation, you need a culture shock, people who think differently. This can be as simple as taking people from different departments to work together, or hiring people from the outside, with very different mind-sets to stimulate new thinking.

#6. Innovate in answer to scenarios not trends

Most customer-facing organisations follow societal trends. The problem with this is that their competition is doing exactly the same thing, which means that they will be in a constant rush to launch faster than their competitors, and at best end up leading a new segment of two or more almost identical products.

A much better way to innovate is to respond to opportunities or challenges identified by developing future scenarios out of the trends. These have the advantage of being unlikely to be duplicated, at least in the beginning, and are further out time-wise so they will allow more time to create a new offering even before your customer knows they have the need. In some cases this might mean you will have to be patient until the customer is ready – it took Nespresso more than 20 years to become the phenomenal success it is today! – but at least you are less likely to be faced with a competitor offering a similar product.

If you follow these six tips, you can be sure your innovation will meet with greater success and your business will be well prepared to capture future opportunities better than the competition. If you are already doing all of these, I congratulate you. Still struggling to grow as fast as you would like? Well then here is my seventh, only for the bravest innovators:

EXTRA #7. What business are you in?

If you are constantly met with innovations from your major competitors just before or after your own launches, then it is time to get out of the fight be changing the territory. What do I mean by that? Ask yourself what business you are really in.

For example a cigarette manufacturer could see itself as a provider of personal pleasure; now that opens up innovation doesn’t it, far beyond just a different cigarette br and? And suppose a food company became a nutrition business offering supplements and meal replacements; a home cleaning corporation widens to become a home carer and beautifier; a pet food company shares its passion for animals be offering insurance and medical treatments. Asking what business you are really in and not the one you thought you were in, can sometimes be just the spark that is needed to truly successful innovation.

So which one of these are you going to use this month to start reinventing your innovation? Take action today, so that you get a positive ROI on your reading of this post.

Would you like to share your own ideas for improving innovation? Please add a comment below; we reply to all comments and might invite you to write a guest post on the topic for us.

If you want to know more about innovation, please check our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/vision/

Do you know someone who is struggling with their own innovation? Please share this post with them.

Does your organisation need more help in reinventing its own innovation? We can run a 1-Day Catalyst session to get you started FAST; contact us here for more information.

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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.

Don’t miss future posts; sign up for our monthly newsletter:  https://www.c3centricity.com/

For more tips about delighting your customers, especially in innovation, please see our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/vision/

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5 Steps to Customer Care Excellence

A few months ago, I took a very early flight with BA out of Geneva International Airport and as on many previous occasions, BA staff demonstrated their excellent customer centricity, which prompted this post.

On that particular morning, it was Lionel who was working in the Club lounge who impressed me, for allowing me to enter and have a quick coffee, even though he had already called the flight and everyone else was on their way out.

The rule in such circumstances is not to admit any passengers once the flight has been called. It was refreshing to be treated as an individual and not as one of the mass of passengers taking the flight that morning. By allowing me to have a quick coffee before dashing to the gate certainly made my morning and my speed in gulping down the much-needed brew, as I had promised, enabled him to empty the lounge as he was required to do without too much delay.

What has this got to do with your own customer centricity you might ask? Well quite a lot in my opinion. As more people move from rural to urban areas, we are all challenged with living in a crowded environment, with little chance of being treated as an individual. This has created an increased value perception of space and service; people desire and actively search for recognition and a little extra personalised service. In the case of Lionel, he apparently saw me as a low risk and that he could trust me to have the quick coffee I so desperately needed at that time of the morning. I felt so special, he made my day and all because of a cup of coffee!

How do you train your own Customer Service Advisors?

Are all your company’s interactions with your customers scripted? Do your metrics of call centre efficiency include time per call, which is targeted down, or calls per advisor, constantly targeted up? If so, then there is little likelihood that you are making your customers feel very special or valued.

A few months ago I shared some information about a CEO who had decided to throw away the scripts that his call centre personnel were using and to trust his advisors to satisfy the callers in the best way possible – for the client! I am sure you can see how satisfaction went way up, for both the advisors and the customers.

If throwing away your call centre scripts is too far for you to go, at least for now, but you know that you could do with improving your care centre operations to make them even more customer centric, I have a few ideas for you:

#1. INVITE: How are you currently inviting your customers to connect with you? Are you putting a (free) telephone number, email or web address on your pack or in your advertising? Is the invitation clearly legible and does it offer your customers a choice of channels that they can use to connect with you? You should encourage as many connections as possible with your customers, so openly invite them wherever they will have a chance of noticing.

Some of you will certainly see this as a risk; more contacts will equal more complaints, no? Well yes – but hopefully at the same proportion as currently – and wouldn’t you rather know if your product or service has any perceived issues so that you can resolve them as quickly as possible? You will also get more chances to be praised on your offering, which means you will get information on what is particularly appreciated by your customers.

#2. LISTEN: Advisors should listen attentively to what the customer has to share: it always amazes me how often they try to interrupt the customer as quickly as possible in their explanation of the reason for their call. Perhaps this has to do with the call / time targets you have set, which I mentioned earlier. Why not replace these metrics by satisfaction targets? Let the customer talk until the reason for calling is fully explained and she feels that the advisor has really listened. Only then should your personnel start to respond with suggestions of possible solutions and actions.

#3. RESPOND: If your care centre is working with scripted responses and you feel too scared to throw them away immediately, at least give your advisors the freedom to go the extra mile and do whatever it takes to satisfy and even surprise the caller. Your customers have taken the time and effort to reach out to you, so don’t disappoint them. Delight them with your response. Don’t just offer them a replacement product or coupons; everyone else does that. What more can you do for your customer, so that they feel special and valued? If they do, then they will certainly be prompted to share their positive experience with friends, family and even the world at large if they are active on social media. One satisfied customer can do a lot for your image, several and your reputation grows significantly.

#4. KEEP LISTENING: Don’t assume that the first thing your customer talks or writes about is the real reason for the call or connection. Sometimes there are other things that would be useful for you to know but you never get the chance to hear them because your advisors are ending the contact too quickly.

Perhaps your customer believes you wouldn’t be interested so never calls you about ideas that they have had or suggestions they would like to make. Why not ask if there is anything else your customer wants to share or talk to you about. More information is better information and more underst anding.

#5. ASK: Only when your customer is fully satisfied with your responses and has no other things they want to share, can you broach the subject of whether or not they would be willing to answer a few questions for you. If they do agree, then keep it short; if they refuse, respect their decision.

And, please don’t go through your full segmentation questionnaire if they do accept t answer a few questions; keep it short, a maximum of about five questions that will help you know her better. You can always complete a further five when she contacts you again – which they will do if they have been treated with interest, respect and openness.

These are my five steps to customer care excellence. Do you have any others you would add? I am sure everyone would be interested in hearing your additions and so would I. 

Why not contact us today to discuss how we can help you optimise your own customer care centers? No obligation, just opportunity!

Find out more about connecting with your own customers on our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage

This post has been adapted from one which first appeared on C3Centricity Dimensions on December 22nd 2011

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How to Become a Fan of your Customer

All companies know the importance of being customer centric, but how many of them encourage ALL their employees to think about their customers and to try and serve them better every time? 

What about you? When was the last time you yourself listened to or watched your customers using your product or service, to learn more about them, and to underst and them more deeply? Most people see this as being the responsibility of their colleagues in the Market Research and Insight Department and are happy to wait for them to come and present the findings of a research study.

Your customers are constantly changing, as are their attitudes, needs, desires and how your products and services fit into their lives. This means that everyone should be involved in getting to know them better and being close to customers should be on their annual objectives.

Plan customer closeness sessions

One of the best ways to energize curiosity and excitement around the customer, is to organise customer closeness days or weeks. During these times, several groups in the organisation leave their offices and go out into the world to watch and listen to their customers as they think about, purchase or use your products and services. There are numerous ways of doing this, but to mention just a few:

  • listening in to service centre calls
  • watching group discussions or in-depth interviews organised by market research
  • accompanying demonstrators who are showing or sampling your products in store
  • serving customers behind the counter if you have your own retail outlets
  • accompanying customers as they shop or use your product or service
  • observing your customers as they shop or use your product

Observation is not as simple as it sounds

In order to really underst and what people will be witnessing, it is advisable to run a briefing session before allowing them to go out and observe customers. Your market research and insight people should be able to help with this training and will no doubt be happy to share their expert knowledge.

Ideally each person should go out with a task or question to answer, rather than observing customers with no precise objective in mind. Watching and listening first and asking questions only afterwards, is the best way to gain a maximum amount of underst anding; by listening first you learn what is important to your customers, rather than just finding the answers to the questions you might have. Everyone can meet up at the end of the exercise to share their observations and build greater knowledge and underst anding of the customer.

Try it; you will become a fan of these exercises  and as a result, of your customers as well! If you already run such experiences we would love to hear about your ideas and success stories.

For more ideas on getting closer to your customers please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/vision/

This post is adapted from an article which first appeared on C3Centricity Dimensions on July 7th 2011

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