10 Ways to Immediately Improve Your Customer Centricity

We all know that adopting a customer-first strategy is essential for business growth and profitability. However, customer centricity has become even more important today, as a result of all the changes in our customers’ behaviour following the global covid lockdown. We are now even more impatient and demanding of businesses, and quick to complain publicly when things go wrong, or rather when we are not totally satisfied.

All companies need to put their customers clearly at the heart of their organisation. But I know that many struggle, even in more normal times, to be customer centric. They just don’t know where to start. Am I right? If you’re in this situation yourself, then this article is for you. In it I share ten simple actions to accelerate your organisation along its path to an improved customer-first strategy.

 

#1 Review & Revise the Description of your Target Audience

Do all your brands have a clear description of their target audience? These days we tend to speak about personas or avatars.

Complete this 4W persona template for customer centricityIs it as complete as it should be? If not, then regular readers will know about and probably use the C3Centricity 4W™ template for storing all this information. You can download it and get the accompanying workbook for free here.

In your avatar, you must include not only your customers’ demographics and consumption / purchasing habits, but also information about where they do these things, what values they have that you can tap into and what emotions motivate them to purchase and use your brand.

 

#2 Assess the Optimum Way of Connecting with Your Customers

Do you know the best way to contact your target customers, as well as their preferred place and time to connect?

Review how you communicate with your customers and what information exchange there is at that time. Is it one-way or two? Are you in a monologue or a dialogue?

Obviously the second is what it should be. You can learn far more about your customers by listening, especially when they are ready to share their information with you.

For an original take on engaging your customers see “You’re missing out on a Free Communication Channel!” (Any guesses what it is?)

 

#3 Identify the Needs Your Brand is Addressing

Maslow's hierarchy of needsDo you know what needs your customer has and which of them you are tapping into?

They certainly have more than one need, but you must identify and address only one at a time.

If you attempt to address more than one and especially if they are not sequential, your customer may be confused.

Mixed brand messages on what the brand can do for them, will leave your customers perplexed. This will, in turn, reduce the likelihood that they will be convinced your offer can meet their needs and objectives.

Knowing where your brand sits on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has one additional benefit. It can increase the success of regional and global launches by identifying cultures with similar levels of a specific need. Continue Reading

The 6 Best Ways to Show you Respect your Customers

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

1. Ask Permission to Gather Information

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

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

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

 

2. There Must be Mutual Benefit

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

Another thing to keep in mind is not to overwhelm them by asking everything in one go. Continue Reading

How Well Do you Know Your Customers? 13 Questions your Boss Expects you to Answer

Be a true leader; share this post with the members of your team who need the inspiration and support.


Your boss expects you to be able to answer all his questions and especially to know your customers. Here are the 13 things your boss is likely to ask you and a handy Checklist to prove to him that you know your customers better than he realises.

Everyone speaks about customer centricity and the importance of the customer, but just how well do you know yours – really? The following is a checklist of 13 facts you need to be able to answer in order to know your customers as well as you should.

As you read the post, keep tabs on your answers and share your final score below. I’m offering a personal 50% discount code to spend in store for everyone who publishes their score here in July 2018. And if you’re the boss, I’d love to hear how well you think your team would do – 100% of course, no?!

 

 

#1. Who is your customer?

C3Centricity how well do you know your customerOK I’m starting off slowly, but do you know who your customers are? Not who uses your category, but who the people are that actually buy your product or service today? How much do you really know about them?

Their age, gender and location are the basics, but there’s a lot more you need to know about them. Check out12 things you need to know about your target customers for more on what you need to know to be able to describe them in the depth your boss expects.

The C3Centricity 4W™ Template is a great resource for storing all the information you have on your customer. Download a free copy and watch the related videos HERE.

 

 

#2. What business are you in?

Although this refers more to the category than the customer, it is important to ensure you are looking at it through the eyes of your customers. Many organisations are working with industry definitions rather than customer ones. What about you? If you want to know your customers, you need to understand what category they think they are buying.

This is one of the essential elements you need to understand in order to know your customers deeply. It is something that many organisations don’t take the time to clearly identify, which results in an incorrect appreciation of their market and competitors. By not correctly identifying the category you are in, or plan to enter, your innovations will also lack the success you are hoping for.

For instance, are you in the food business or the pleasure business, beverages or relaxation? One of my clients wanted to launch a fruit flavoured soft drink and thought they were competing with other soft drinks. When we worked together we discovered that they were actually competing in the energy drink business!

How many of your brands are not competing where you thought they were? See How to Innovate better than Apple for more on this topic. Continue Reading

Improving Ideation, Insight & Innovation: How to Prevent Further Costly Failures.

As you know, I am a global customer centricity champion. My passion is helping organisations to grow faster by putting customers at the heart of their business. One of the most frequent requests I get is to help in improving ideation and innovation.

This is by far the most common area that my clients struggle with. Is it a challenge for you too?

Many companies create great new products and services – from their perspective – but they fail! They then ask if I can help them to identify to whom they should be selling. Of course, I do help them, but I also suggest that next time it would be better if they called me before they started innovating! In a failure situation, it is almost always due to an outdated innovation process in which the customer has not been involved.

I know it can be difficult to innovate in this new age of technology, but it remains vital for growth. This is why I was recently invited to run two workshops on improving ideation and innovation, as well as to speak about it at three different universities in Beijing and Shanghai.

 

China is an Innovation Hot-House

China joined the top 25 most innovative countries in the WIPO global innovation index for the first time this year. This is because they no longer rely on cost-effective manufacturing alone. They also applied for more patents than the next two countries, the United States and Japan, combined! This clearly shows that China is improving ideation as well as their innovation. But they know they must do even more. To become a truly competitive nation, they have to better understand their customers, especially their growing middle and higher-income residents, who continue to prefer primarily imported Western brands.

Let me share with you a few of the ideas that I spoke about during my visit. They may just save you too from more costly failures.

 

Innovation is Essential

Switzerland continues to lead the world in innovation according to the latest WIPO GII study. It was, therefore, a privilege for me to by invited to help China corporations and academics by proposing a new way to innovate.

Most companies innovate from a technical and skills-based foundation. It doesn’t usually work very well, if at all. In fact, according to Nielsen, IRI, Fortune and many others, it is estimated that between 85% and 95% of new consumer products in the US fail. In Europe, it’s just as bad, with only 25% of new consumer products still on the shelf just twelve months after launch! And less than half that number by the end of the second year.

With such disastrous results, you might wonder why companies continue to innovate. Well there are three main reasons why they do:

  1. It keeps brands fresh. Brands which innovate have something new to share with current and potential clients. We have come to expect it. What excites today, is normal tomorrow and then just boring after that.
Continue Reading

12 Things you Need to Know about your Target Customers

How well do you know your target customers? I mean really know them? Are they men, women, young, old, Fortune 100 companies, local businesses?

If you can at least answer that, then you have the basics, but how much more could you know about them? Can you answer the following twelve questions?

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

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

These are the twelve questions that enabled us to brainstorm, identify and then complete a better and more complete description of their target customers. Their use also resulted in clear differentiated segments for their services – three more than they had originally thought! How would you like to double your own market potential? Read on:

  1. WHO DEMOGRAPHICS: OK this is usually a “no-brainer” and is how most organisations describe their customers. Not really original and definitely not competitive, but still the essential foundation.
  2. WHAT THEY USE: Whether you are offering a product or service, you need to know what your customers are using today. And not only for your category, but in adjacent categories too. What do they use – if anything – if your product / category is not available?
  3. WHAT THEY CONSUME: Here we need to underst and what types of information and media they are consuming; what do they read, watch, listen to in their spare time. Which social media do they use, what websites do they consult on a regular basis?
  4. WHAT THEY DO: How do your customers spend their time? What type of lifestyle do they have? What are their hobbies? What do they do all day, and in the evening and at weekends?
  5. WHAT THEY BUY: This is where you describe their current category purchasing habits. How frequently and what quantity do they buy? Do they have regular buying habits? Do they do research before buying or repurchasing? Do they compare and if so how, where, why?
  6. WHERE THEY CONSUME: Is the category consumed in home, in work, on vacation? With friends, with their partner, with friends? Are there certain surroundings more conducive to consumption? What makes it so?
  7. WHERE THEY BUY: Do your target customers have certain places and times they buy? Is it an habitual or impulse purchase? Is it seasonal?
  8. WHERE THEY READ: Today “read” covers not just traditional media but new media as well.
Continue Reading

Getting to Actionable Insight

Last week I shared the first three essential steps to improved insight development, which covered setting the objectives, forming the team and reviewing the available information and knowledge. If you missed it or would like to re-read it before continuing then please go HERE.

This week I will complete the process with the remaining three steps and also provide you with some tips on actioning your insight once developed. After all, if you don’t take action nothing will change for your product, br and or service.

#1. Walk in your customers’ shoes

I am always disappointed how social media has encouraged marketers to stay behind their desks instead of getting out and meeting their customers. They just don’t seem to be going out and getting in touch with them as much as they used to. Is that the case in your organisation? Although you can certainly learn a lot about your customers’ opinions and even needs online, it is only when you take their place that you get the chance to really get their perspective.

Walking in your customers’ shoes can be done in numerous ways and will depend upon the issue or opportunity you have identified, as well as the underst anding you have gained from reviewing all the information you have. You could for instance:

  • Go out shopping with a fixed budget and purchase items for an evening meal of your target customer (a couple of mother of three kids). This may help you underst and why your target customers are buying the competition.
  • Compare competitive offers online for a new service you would like to propose. Is your website as user-friendly as your competitors’? Have you thought of all the important elements you need to include?
  • Call up a number of competitive manufacturers of the same product that you offer and ask questions about its uses, reliability etc. Do your own staff provide the same information? Are they as knowledgeable, credible, empathetic?
  • Role play your target customer in using your product and identify opportunities to improve for instance its packaging. If your product is used by mothers of toddlers, is it easy to open with a baby in your other arm? If your product is used in certain dem anding surroundings, such as outdoor, in the car, in the country, at night, is it easy to open and consume?

Whilst walking in your customers’ shoes, you should be extremely sensitive to any pain points in considering, evaluating, shopping and using your product or service. If you are looking to define a completely new offer, then it is the pain points of your competitors’ offers that you are looking to identify. Taking your customers perspective, rather than just observing them, can provide a wealth of information you might not get in any other way.

#2. Fill the gaps

Having done a complete review of all the available information and knowledge about your customer, including walking in their shoes, it is important to turn it all into underst anding. Continue Reading

Are you into Insights or Information?

A few weeks ago I shared some ideas on developing insights. (You can read the post here) It certainly struck a chord with a vast number of you, judging from the comments and acknowledgements many of you sent in. I really appreciated them all so thanks a million.

This week I thought I would take insights development even further, by proposing some steps to take for those of you who are still struggling, or would like to upgrade your own process. Often we stop at the information or knowledge stage and thus never get to real insights. This is such a disappointment, after all the hard work of data gathering and integration.

In January Forrester wrote an article suggesting that 2013 was going to be the year for market insights. A couple of months on, things don’t seem to have advanced much, so hopefully this post will enable your own organisation to advance and to get ahead of the competition.

#1. Be precise in your objectives

As mentioned in the previous article, your objective for developing an insight should be presented as a desired behavioural change in your target audience. For example, if you are looking to increase your market share, you could be looking to:

  • Find a way to convince competitive br and purchasers to buy your br and instead

If you are looking to improve your image, your objective could be:

  • Find a communication platform that resonates better with your target audience, so they consider your br and in a new light

If you are looking to reverse a sales decline, it might be:

  • Underst and how to move your shoppers from monthly to weekly purchasing

Identifying the behavioural change you are looking to encourage is the first step to uncovering a true insight.

#2. Involve a wide range of experts

Insights are not the sole responsibility of the Market Research & Insight Department. Everyone in the company can bring valuable information and underst anding to the identified opportunity. Therefore, involving people with a wide range of perspectives can make insight development both easier and more effective. Gathering together a group of experts to provide a 360 perspective of the category or br and users could mean including:

  • R&D, who can bring underst anding of available internal & external technical skills
  • Operations can share current defects and development aspects
  • Sales can add retail perspectives, including distribution, packaging and shelving limitations or opportunities
  • Marketing will provide the communications, image, equity and competitive environment
  • Customer services can add current customer sensitivities, problems or suggestions
  • Finance can highlight any budgetary limitations and ensure financial goals are met

The group you bring together will be a function of the behavioural change you are looking to make. However I personally believe that the exercise should be run by your market research and insights team or external experts, since it is their profession to underst and people and behaviour. They also will have the widest and most detailed perspective of anyone in the company

#3.

Continue Reading

The Magic of 3: Taking a New Perspective

Like many successful entrepreneurs, I enjoy helping local associations with their marketing problems whenever I can. It seems that often simply offering a new perspective can be all that is needed to move things forward. 

Recently, I ran a re-positioning session for my local outdoor sports association and during it, I realised that many of the things we were doing together would also be of value to other organisations, big or small, who are in a similar situation.

For this reason I share some of the brainstorming we did, in the hope that it will inspire you to try something similar.

Background completeness defines the outcome

The president of the association asked for my advice because they were losing participation in their organised events. As a keen member myself, I offered to run a brainstorming session with his committee members, to see if together we could find some solutions. I started by gathering information from all the guides, which in itself was a challenge. As motivation was low, response rate was only around 25-30% and even then some of the responses were only general comments rather than specific responses to the questions asked. Things were even worse than I had anticipated!

However, this actually provided me with the “burning platform” that I presented to the president. If he didn’t address the issues immediately, I told him that his organisation wouldn’t exist 2-3 years from now! The low response rate to the study and the drop in event participation already confirmed this, but he hadn’t “wanted to see the facts”. This is where an external perspective can be invaluable.

Whenever you are faced with underst anding a situation, it is vital to start with a review of all relevant data and knowledge, and if incomplete, to complement it with an additional information gathering exercise. If you can’t precisely assess the current situation and identify all the relevant issues, your resultant brainstorming will be less effective than it could or should be.

Prioritising 3 areas only increases the level of success

It was clear from the answers I did receive that there were a number of related issues. The low participation of the organised events, was leading to the low motivation of the guides. The low awareness level and lack of visibility of the events, led to low participation in them. A vicious circle it was imperative to break. One positive sign however, was that past participants were very keen on attending future events, so it wasn’t the “product” that was at fault; people just didn’t know about them.

Another finding, that I often also see when addressing issues with my clients, is that the target audience for this association’s events, was ill-defined. Each guide had a different perspective of the people they were trying to attract. They were being defined as children, schools, companies, ladies 40-65 y.o. expatriates, those interested in history / geography, etc etc. As you can see, a wide variety of answers that wasn’t going to improve the overall cohesiveness of the association. Continue Reading

Why Implementing Global Creative is Risky

We are pleased to share with you another guest post from C3Centricity partner PhaseOne, our communication experts. This week Terry Villines, their SVP speaks about the challenges of taking campaigns global.

Why implementing global creative is risky:  5 market factors must align. If just one of them is off, the entire initiative will likely fail!

Most major, global organizations have tried it – attempted to use the same creative around the world, across markets.   Coca-Cola has tried it, so has Procter & Gamble, Unilever and even luxury brands like Rolex and Patek Phillipe.

The argument for implementing a creative campaign on a global scale is strong.  When it works, it saves money (a lot of money); it provides br and stewards with a high level of control; it also ensures consistent implementation of a brand strategy with no wavering.  And, when it works, it can work BIG – take for instance Unilever’s Dove brand and their Real Beauty campaign from a few years ago.  This global work beat the odds and changed the way people think of beauty and changed the way we as advertisers communicate about beauty.

But what about all those cases where it doesn’t work?  Why does a campaign with a strong launch in Italy not work in the UK?  What about those powerful US ads that when taken to Europe, Asia or South America fall flat?  In examining case after case it becomes clear that there has to be almost precise alignment across 5 different market factors for a campaign to be successful across markets – if even one of them is off, the campaign and its investment are lost.

#1. Your Brand’s Equity

Does your target audience think about your brand the same way across all markets — do they have the same associations?  Do the br and’s values and its personality resonate at the same levels across all markets?  If so, then you are one step closer to having confidence global creative will work.  But, if awareness is high and attitudes are strong in one market and they suffer in another, then there is a high level of certainty that the same advertising will not work in both markets.

 

 #2. Your Brand Market Share / Market Position

Do you have consistent market share in each and every market in which you compete?  If you do, you are one of a very rare breed; however, it is much more likely that your market position varies.  Whether you’re a strong leader with few challengers working to grow the category and hold market share, or a challenger against stronger brands trying to steal market share, it is almost impossible for the same kind of creative and messaging to work across all of these situations.

 

 #3. Competitive Actions

In examining the competitive environment, a number of variables must be considered.  How many competitors are there? – very crowded categories require different actions than less crowded categories.  What is the level of spend by competitors? Continue Reading

Time to Spring Clean your Market Research Toolbox

This week we are officially into Spring in Europe, so we all now start thinking about spring-cleaning the interiors of our houses and apartments. Of course living in Switzerl and, where people seem to be born with duster and brush in h and, I can imagine that there is not much work for most of my neighbours, but I have to admit that for my place it is a slightly different matter!

This is the reason why today I want to speak about YOUR interior, however I am not talking about your home, but about your Market Research Toolbox. When was the last time you took a look inside? Isn’t now an appropriate moment to review the tools you have in there? Some may be a few years old and need updating, whilst you may now notice that some others are missing that you really need. If this is the case, then this post will help you to do your toolbox spring clean.

In order to decide on all the tools you need, I suggest you start by taking a look at your br and essence. What do you want your br and to st and for in the hearts and minds of your target customers and your stakeholders? Who is your target customer; what attributes describe your product or service; what is your br and’s personality and character, and finally what benefits can your target customers expect from your br and? Once you have these identified, you need to agree what measures you will use to ensure that you follow them effectively and efficiently.

The 5Ps of marketing have been around long enough to assume that many people still find them to be useful, so we will base our review of your toolbox around these five topic areas, keeping your br and essence in mind of course.

Here are some questions I came up with, to help you to identify whether or not your toolbox needs some cleaning or updating:

People:

Who is your br and or service targeting? To underst and, you will need to gather representative data on your users, current, past and potential, and not just demographics, but as much information as you can gather about their habits, attitudes, preferences, values and motivations.

Price:

Are you pricing your br and based on cost or value? What do your current, past and potential customers value and what price estimate do they place on your offer? What are the psychological price barriers for your category and br and? Where is your price in comparison to your competitors’? If it is higher, what additional value are you offering to warrant the difference?

Promotion:

How effective are your communications? What tools do you have to help in their development and to test their performance; not just at the end before airing, but also early on in the process of their creation? What do your category users talk about online? Are you gathering information on and responding to these discussions? Continue Reading

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you want me to catalyse your growth and profitability, just book a call.

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