Category Archives: Customer Insight
This is a great video about what we expect in terms of marketing from McKinsey & Company.
It is all about understanding what we want, how we search and review and making our experience personal. The merging of the physical and online worlds for us is already happening.
“Yet tools and standards are changing faster than companies can react. Customers will soon be able to search for products by image, voice, and gesture; automatically participate in others’ transactions; and find new opportunities via devices that augment their reality (think Google Glass). How companies engage customers in these digital channels matters profoundly—not just because of the immediate opportunities to convert interest to sales but because two-thirds of the decisions customers make are informed by the quality of their experiences all along their journey, according to research by our colleagues.” McKinsey
To keep up with these changes McKinsey suggests the following:
Discover. Companies must apply advanced analytics to the large amount of structured and unstructured data at their disposal to gain a 360-degree view of their customers. Their engagement strategies should be based on an recent behaviors and past experiences with the company, as well as the signals embedded in customers’ mobile or social-media data.
Design. Consumers now have much more control over where they will focus their attention, so companies need to craft a compelling customer experience in which all interactions are expressly tailored to a customer’s stage in his or her decision journey.
Deliver. “Always on” marketing programs, in which companies engage with customers in exactly the right way at any contact point along the journey, require agile teams of experts in analytics and information technologies, marketing, and experience design. These cross-functional teams need strong collaborative and communication skills and a relentless commitment to iterative testing, learning, and scaling—at a pace that many companies may find challenging.Read more
Why your customers buy from you and not your competitors is a key strategic marketing question that is harder to answer than ever before.The competitive landscape has changed and commoditisation of products and services has given rise to the focus on customer retention and differentiation based on the “how you provide a service or product”.The shift away from an industrial, upstream model toward a customer-centric one has been under way for some time now. Niraj Dawar argues in his new book Tilt that most companies still look for competitive advantage where it used to be: through activities related to products and new product creation. But today’s advantage comes from interactions of a different sort—those you have with your customers. Companies that recognize and move on this shift win.
Key strategic questions that I earmarked in reading Tilt by Niraj Dawar are as follows:
1. Why do your customers choose you? Make sure it is not table stakes.
2. What business are you in? What business do your customers think you are in? How have they defined you? The answer you give to this question is predictive of how you see your business strategy
3. How is profitability measured? By customer or by volume?
4. Where do you spend most of your effort and energy? – on the service or product you sell or on understanding your customers and consistently delivering value to them by asking one fundamental question: What else do our customers need?
“Today manufactures can replicate the looks and feel of an innovative product and print it to market for a fraction of the price, in a fraction of the time it use to take. Even Nike and HP manufacture their products in Asia.” Tilt pg 178
5. How can we take what we know about our customers and provide value in different ways:coffee pods
How we distribute a product: Nespresso
How we store a product: iTunes
How a product or service is delivered: Audible, Spotify
How a product is consumed: Coles new ready made meals
How we dispose of a product or service: eBay
Niraj states the value equasion is VALUE= WHAT+HOW
6. How close are we to our customers and understanding them? If you sell through a channel that is made harder. Nespresso had the Nespresso club to sell direct first which gave them invaluable data on who their customers around who buys their coffee and at what price. They changed the coffee making market by understanding the pain of getting out of bed and getting dressed on a Saturday morning to stand in line and pay $4 for a espresso and risking that they are closed or run out of stock. Kodak didn’t understand their customers and so focused on a need that was surpassed.
7. Do you focus on scale or scope? Niraj makes the comment that it is not how many widgets you sell but how you deliver on the needs your customers have and scope your deliverables around that. What are the costs and risks they face in doing business with you? How can you eliminate these? How do you make it easy for your customers to choose you?
“Businesses rarely pay enough attention to customer costs and risks because these aspects of a transaction tend to be invisible to a sell too.”Tilt g806
This is where strategic service design can uncover those opportunities and create a competitive advantage that is hard to replicate.
Listen to the podcast interview with Niraj below
A major issue all businesses face is that of changing their internal measures and focus from that of what they need to be successful to that of thinking like their customers so they can solve their problems better and deliver a superior experience. These mindsets are in conflict and the internal pressures of running a business often give way to only thinking about costs and sales which creates less visibility to trying to innovate, look at customer aspirations and developing a truly differentiated experience.
It is really a catch22. The more internal a company becomes, the more internal measures then I propose the more likely they are to deliver a vanilla or commoditised customer experience and as such likely to resort to cost cutting. On the other hand the more innovative, customer centric and in-touch with their customers a company is the more differentiated and likely they are to create memorable experiences for customers and thus the more they can charge. This video featuring Lior Arussy, Strativity Group President explains it well.
How do we reconcile the external forces of running our businesses and being customer centric?
Understanding and mapping out the customer buying path or touch points with your team is a good starting point.
Marketing your business can be really easy. You just need to be helpful. I always thought there was no real skill in being helpful, but maybe being able to think about what your customers want and need during their experience with you is a hard thing for business owners. Those businesses that are putting more energy into thinking like their customers are gaining a competitive advantage and creating or disrupting current markets for significant growth; e.g Uber.
Currently I am on holidays in sunny Gold Coast with my family and have come across a couple of great examples of how you can be helpful and leave a lasting impression. At the local Coles there was a new guide on the trolley which was a fantastic help for a shopper like me that isn’t familiar with the store layout (every Coles layout is different, right yes we hate that). In the Gold Coast I am sure that they have a lot of holiday shoppers and so adapting the trolley with this guide, a quick overview of how to find exactly what you need in this Coles store was incredibly helpful.
When we checked into our Hotel where we are staying the lovely Kaye gave us a couple of vouchers for cheaper meals at the local RSL and not only was that unexpected but very thoughtful. Today it is so much more about showing that you understand the customer you are serving or trying to serve and less about what you have as a product or service.
Skincare brand Nivea placed solar panelled chargers in Brazilian magazines. Lucky beach-goers can charge their phone while they sunbathe. There is nothing better than a free iphone recharge when your battery is down to 8%! Chargebar is a new company that has made a business by providing this service at airports, cafes and shopping centres based on the premise that being able to recharge can really be appreciated by the consumer.
Maybe it is time to map out your customer journey and see how you can provide some more helpful steps in their experience, it might just be the best marketing dollars you have ever spent!
When was the last time you talked with your customers? It sounds simple but why do so many small businesses make assumptions? This book by Giff Constaple and illustrated by my fav cartoonist Tom Fishburne answers some of those key assumptions in Talking to Humans. So do yourself a favour, before you invest in marketing tactics please do a simple customer survey or better still pick up the phone and ask your customers why they decided to buy from you. And while you are at it, ask your staff why they work for you and see if you can uncover your true value proposition. This is the starting point for growing a successful business.