Bottom Line: Investing first in the quality of customer experience, not cost reduction of quantity of transactions, will determine who attracts and keeps the most customers in 2012.
Nearly every marketing manager, director or VP who is attending my MBA class in International Marketing tells me that increasingly larger percentages of their budgets go to digital over traditional marketing. The primary driver is social media and the urgency to stay on top of what is going on with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and the relentless need for content to fuel their corporate blogs.
The students in my class are divided on the value of corporate blogs however; some see it as critical for defining thought leadership and others use them purely for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). While they are split on this issue, the class is unanimous that the era of digital marketing driven by social media is here and moving very fast.
What does Success Look Like in ... Read More
Business process optimization (BPO) seeks to integrate a company’s processes to improve customer experience (Cx), not by re-inventing them but by understanding them. It is a good formula.
The processes we use to deliver our products and services become the fingerprint of our organizations. They are how we get things done. They determine our productivity. They define our company from the competition. They reflect out to our customers and tell them who we are and whether we care about their needs.
On the other hand, our processes can take on a life of their own and become a bewildering maze of handoffs. They grow complex and proliferate, making us more difficult to work with. They remain labor intensive and paper-driven. In many companies, these proliferating processes come to reside in functional silos with the corporate left hand unable to communicate across the maze efficiently, quickly – or, sometimes at all – with the corporate right hand. The result is ... Read More
Information-based strategies leverage expert knowledge of the profitability, preferences and transaction histories of individual customers to increase the effectiveness of marketing, sales and service. To transform your ho-hum, run-of-the-mill value message into an eye-popping, head-turning, “must have” proposition that positions you head and shoulders above the competition, we suggest you implement the following solutions:
- Define what makes your product-service offerings unique and better than those of your competitor.
- Improve customer service and market it as a key differentiator.
- Offer value-added services to your most profitable clients.
- Provide highly customized, one-to-one relationships, through a personalized marketing and ... Read More
Understanding our barriers gives us the ability to size up our situation more objectively, and to see where extra effort is needed to smooth the path to success. “While we look for new ways to serve customers, I don’t want to do anything to upset what is already working.” This comment came from the CIO of one the world’s largest financial services providers “We now have 28 different mainframe databases. We spend half our annual budget keeping these systems working with each other. How can we gain leverage when we are fighting every day just to do the basics?”
Four high-level factors are either barriers or opportunities; good or ... Read More
Your list of customer promises will be added to the Value-Strategy Scorecard – a tool for evaluating how well you line up with customer expectations, and where you want to refine your marketing strategies.
The Value-Strategy Scorecard illustration below defines what a particular strategy looks like from the customer’s point of view. Have a panel of customers from each of the targeted Personas rate the match-up. Also have key employees within your company rate your ability to deliver on the promises. Place a symbol in each box to indicate how the product strategy aligns with customer needs. Use a High, Medium and Low scale where H = 10, M=5 and L=2. If there is no match, leave the square blank, where Blank=0. If you want to place “weighting” of the entries, limit yourself ... Read More
We insert our conversations into a point-of-view (POV) that already exists in the customer’s mind.
But this time we are armed with the axiom Yes-Maybe-No. Still our job is not easy.
This point-of-view (POV) includes values, beliefs, biases that collectively determine how we engage in conversations with our friends, associates and with the companies from whom we buy things.
The POV explains how we can see the same information and make totally different decisions.
Changing the POV is difficult and often impossible. Early adopters are a very small subset of any market.
- It is hard to convert a Republican into a ... Read More
With the “Yes-Maybe-No” axiom in hand (see my previous post: The Axiom for Changing the Customer Conversation), you can now map out the entire campaign for conversing with every customer in your database; not just those two percent who might say “yes” but now to the 98 percent who have not yet said “yes.”
Now a “no” response is just as important to you as is a “yes” response.
Let’s see how this might look in a customer experience initiative where you want to invite prospects to attend an educational Webinar.
- The mailing goes out to 1,000 individuals.
- 20 say “yes” when they go to your ... Read More
Conversations can be a lot like watching a game of soccer. Players on two teams run back and forth until someone finally scores. If you do not know the rules and the strategy, the game looks confusing and with no apparent rationale. Just a lot of running around.
When we are in a conversation with a segment of customers, we send messages out. Some break through and cause a response; others just ricochet into oblivion. Such conversations appear to be a lot of running around with no strategy to guide it in a purposeful direction.
A customer calls your customer service line and gets one answer and they go on your website and get an entirely different answer. You send them a statement that is confusing so they call your sales rep. He can’t help because he’s never seen the ... Read More
Too much time spent around the water cooler talking about the boss?
A Franklin Covey Survey  confirms that most organizations suffer from major “execution gaps” that undermine the achievement of their highest priorities.
Overall, U.S. workers gave their organizations a score of 51 out of 100 for their collective lack of focus on and execution of truly important goals.
These execution gaps result from a combination of factors, including a lack of focus on key goals and a surprising lack of mutual accountability and follow-through.
For example, only 30% of workers plan with their workgroup how to support each other in agreed-upon goals and tasks, and just 19% say their ... Read More
Any of us in marketing know how the proliferation of broadband and social media, and a whole host of other marketplace and cultural changes have dramatically altered how growing business is harder and harder. A one-medium campaign not likely to be successful. MarketingSherpa data indicates that buyers now find sellers 80% of the time. Buyers enter vendor searches in non-traditional media and sellers frequently do not even know that a particular company is looking for a solution that they provide.
30 years ago, the agency I once ran figured out that the main reason marketing was getting 2% response rates was timing. The buyer was not yet in the market. If you are not in the market for a product, you will pay very little attention to the marketing. That is when we started using ... Read More
With more channels in which to communicate, customers become disenchanted due to inconsistent service and transactions among channels. Lack of confidence and satisfaction are the leading causes of customer defection.
In fact, nearly one in five customers have left their current retailer in favor of another that proffered a value proposition more geared to meet their specific needs. Two out of three customers leave because of unsatisfactory service, and one in five leave because of the institution’s indifference or lack of attention.
Every customer that defects must be replaced and the process and expense of developing that customer’s potential value begins anew.
When channel strategies fail to deliver customer expectations, channel productivity goes ... Read More
It all happened so fast. Change was everywhere. Technology promised new ways of distributing products and services at a dramatically lower cost. A few innovative companies jumped in and opened up remote and electronic channels. No one could sit back and let others pass them by. And so, the race was on. Unfortunately, strategy was left behind at the starting line. We rushed into multi-channel distribution before having a firm grasp on effective channel management issues and strategies. As new channels were opened up, silo management structures were created to manage them. Expectations were high everywhere.
But now, years later, we see that “the more, the better” channel approach did not work out like most managers had hoped. With perfect hindsight vision, all can see that ... Read More
The intent of multiple channels was not only to attract new customers, but also to reduce the cost of frontline sales reps and agents by shifting customers to lower cost channels. Instead, however, customers used channels based on their own convenience and, in many cases, used all the channels. As a result, new channels simply added to the overall cost of distributing products to customers, with little or no increase in the ROI. For example, a survey by Oliver Wyman & Company revealed that 87% of financial services providers have experienced an increase in cost since shifting to a multi-channel distribution offering; only 3% saw an increase in ROI while the remaining providers stayed the same. Other industry resources report similar troubles.
Our research has identified three ... Read More
When you know the context, you can market and sell more effectively.
Manage each customer’s contextual situation well and you will have a happy customer for life and a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
To make the change from traditional ... Read More
You don’t have to rebuild the entire company in one single sweep.
IBM, in its own publication “Understanding Our Company,” took several years to transform their business around their view of what their customers most wanted from them.
Smaller companies, of course, don’t have to turn Queen Mary around in a river … that is their advantage in the marketplace, but they must still contend with their own lack of customer understanding that leads to confused direction and overly complex operations.
Large or small, identify the areas that can make the biggest immediate impact within a long-term customer experience plan.
- You might revitalize the contact center as “the new ears” of your organization with a systematic plan to ... Read More
Unknowingly, we treat our most profitable customers to a complex maze of processes that hinder good service.
Not knowing our customers’ needs will cause us to introduce the wrong products for the wrong reasons. Our production processes will create inventory of parts or finished goods that turn too slowly, with a direct impact on overall profitability.
Customer profitability is not constant over time, particularly for industries directly serving consumers where life events such as marriage, children, and a family death greatly influence a person’s wealth and their ability to be profitable to you.
We literally push customers out the door, only to discover that one firm’s unprofitable customer is often another firm’s most profitable customer – ... Read More
Most of us do not know enough about our customers to change how we produce our products for them or how we interact with them.
We might have facts, experiences, anecdotes, but not a true understanding of customer behavior.
Have you noticed how often customers say they want one thing but buy another.
A client of Sterling Cooper (the fictional ad agency on AMC’s TV show Mad Men) virtually dictated what he wanted in a commercial for Patio Diet Cola. The agency produced the commercial, word for word, scene by scene. Female copywriter Peggy Olson sat quietly, knowing the commercial would not reach female buyers … she understood the target audience while the men in the agency and at the client assumed they knew what the consumer wanted. When it ... Read More
We all have to learn to trust our customers to define their needs and to make decisions about what they need. Instead of selling, we need to help them buy what they need. This means we must look at the products we offer, the culture we work in, the processes we use to get things done, the way our business is organized, even our compensation and motivation systems. It all has to change.
Choice and Flexibility – There is no one right way for the customer to interact with you. The right way is the way the customer wants to interact at each particular moment, and that method may change occasionally or daily. Regardless of their preferred method of interaction, your internal processes must be consistent and clear and they must deliver value to ... Read More