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Category Archives: Service Marketing

Is your customer at the centre of your business?

By | customer centric marketing, Customer experience, Customer Insight, Service Marketing, Small Business Marketing | No Comments

Currently I am reading a number of books on customer centricity and the latest is Outside In from the forester researchers Kerry Bodine and Harley Manning. Their research has outlined that we are not managing the customer experience very well so far and that we should really have an inside out approach to business with the customer in the centre of all our decisions. Not only is this a good strategic decision but with customers now controlling the market it might just be a matter of survival. Outside In

What I really love about their book is how they define customer experience as every interaction that a customer or potential customer has with you. From the point at which they discover

MARS

Forrester Research Outside In book

you to the moment of purchase to each touchpoint in the ongoing relationship. It is this journey that I feel is so critical to manage and the reason I have built a framework on called  Strategic Service Design

Key Take Aways from the Book:

1. Customer experience can be a real key differentiators for your business because it is hard. The experience can  go from missing (we don’t do that at all) to adhoc (we sometimes do that) to repeatable (we have a process so that mostly happens) to systematic (We have process that is an system and we follow it).

2. It is holistic and involves not just your customer facing employees but goes across every process and product of your company’s ecosystem. It requires discipline, insight and commitment. Not only do you have to find the moment of truth and disconnects, you need to fix them and that is even harder.

What's wrong

Forrester Resarch Outside In Book

3. It is made up of all those little things that the customer finds important. How do you know what they are unless you ask.

4. A customer experience is not a nice to have, your customers now have an amplified voice and vote with their feet and clicks. According to Forrester customer experience laggards have a much worse growth rate.

5. Customer Mapping is a starting point to understand what is happening and rather than finger pointing, work collaboratively for the customers journey to be better.

6, Real change, that becomes a systematic approach needs to have an important place at the CEO management table.

7. Outside In describes six disciplines of customer experience.

  • Strategy – what is your plan for customer experience. It is unique to your business and customer
  • Customer understanding – you need to understand your customers and what they are thinking and feeling.Outside in book model
  • Design – Yes you can design an experience. It is how your customers interact. This is where creativity and customer centricity is vital to getting this design just right. It has to be practical, doable and meaningful for the customer. It is hundreds of tiny little moments that can make the customer journey memorable.Customer Experience Pyramid
  • Measurement – you need to measure it to manage it. Perceptions, activity, intended behaviours. You need all three.
  • Governance – you need rules and accountability so you can see where the problem lies and fix it. It is not finger pointing but team work.
  • Culture – only if you hire the right people with the right attitude and values will a customer experience become your point of  difference. It is in those little moments and interactions when the culture will ensure that consistently the customer comes first.

To me this just makes sense. It is a natural evolution from the information age to the customer centred era. Companies will experience the fastest growth if they commit to a customer centric strategy and now Forrester have the research to prove it.

Age of the customer

 Resources
Webinar

Customer Centric Marketing

Outside In website

Ready to make your customer the centre of your business? Learn more

“Your Brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room”

By | Business marketing, customer centric marketing, Customer experience, Customer Insight, Marketing Strategy, Service Marketing | No Comments

Jeff Bezos once famously said that your brand is what people say about you when you’re not
in the room. Today we have platforms that allow us to listen to what people of saying and these are really a gift. Social networks, blogs, You Tube, Review sites like WOMO all give us access to understanding and responding to customer questions, answers, experiences. It can help validate a decision. Crowd scoring tools can help us as well like customer monitor, sodahead ,1000heads and Buzzagent. Then there is Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles and updates.

BUSINESSES SPEND BILLIONS AND OBSESS OVER FIGURING OUT WHAT THEIR CUSTOMERS THINK–BUT THEY SHOULDN’T. HERE’S WHY YOU CAN NO LONGER MAKE EXCUSES FOR A LACK OF USEFUL FEEDBACK” Fast company.

Collaborative marketing

We can see who are influencers of our brand and connect with them. We can learn about how to improve. We can create and steer future experiences with the benefit of this insight.

So what is the take away. You should be listening to what your customers and  employees and take action to improve your marketing. The information is out there if you use it. We spend annually $33 billion on customer research but today we don’t need to do that. It is at our fingertips with the digital touch points. Listening to your customers isn’t hard. We can test and make different decisions quickly. Stop programs, change your website within an hour or email campaigns. We can test and fail quickly and spend our dollars more effectively.

Mashable give us some good feedback suggestions. What happens if your brand perception isn’t what you thought it should be. What if your customers have a different understanding? What next?

Strategic Service Design is a great start

 

We have gone from one to one to one to many

By | customer centric marketing, Customer experience, Customer Insight, Service Marketing | No Comments

Share experiences is influencing how consumers and companies connect. we are using social channels to communicate our frustrations because we can reach our network and make a dent or a difference. Word of mouth has always been around but now we can share from one to one to one to many.

We are defining what a brand is and we can now do it with a microphone. We can be an alley or a formidable foe for any company. To connect with our customers as marketer and business owners we need to think about the entire customer experience pre, during and post transaction.

The challenge that exists for most companies is getting close to customers or what I call customer centricity. Some companies in an effort to respond have put in automated systems, web forms, click and talk applets, email campaigns and self help voice systems. This has dehumanized the customer experience. If it is a valuable addition and solves the customer issue quickly then it could be a positive interaction but if not it could end the customer journey with you.

To be come customer centric requires a change in how we value customers and the role they play in the decision making cycle. It is a holistic experience. If we are going to talk about you, then you better give us something good to talk about.

The experience is everything. Before, during and afterwards and it is so critical to the word of mouth that is shared. People can see and feel your intentions and your intended outcomes. Their journey is dynamic and connected.

?So the question is, are you delivering a desired experience and if so, how are you measuring
the way experiences and more importantly, shared experiences, are impacting your business?? The Future of Business.

Customer-Centric Marketing: Learning from customers helps increase lead quality 130%, Sales-accepted leads 40%

By | Branding, Business marketing, CRM and lead generation, customer centric marketing, Customer experience, Customer Insight, Marketing Strategy, Online Marketing, Service Marketing, Small Business Marketing | No Comments

Customer-Centricity-Chart-300x300Lead gen is no longer downloading an “e-book” according to Good Technology. Today’s buyer wants to take a self-directed journey that they control. According to Brian Solis new book  The Future of Business, we don’t only want to take the journey, we want to connect and share it and discuss it like we always have, but now are using new  tools and immediate digital forms of Brian Soliscommunication to do this which makes this communication transparent and amplified.

MarketingSherpa recently published a case study about B2B mobile solutions company Good Technology.

Good Technology returned to the heart of its content marketing strategy – the customers – and learned more about buyers’ journeys through the sales funnel. During this process, the company discovered it had lost touch with its customers.

Just taking the time to listen to, and understand, your customer can pay dividends in marketing results. Good Technology already had an annual customer advisory council, but decided to take understanding its customers to the next level.

Julie Gibbs, vice president of marketing and communications at Good Technology, said “We talk about digital, we talk about social, and they are critically important, but nothing replaces sitting down and having a conversation on a regular basis … building the relationship and understanding your customer’s point of view. We, as vendors, wanted to really look at how we are approaching our communications and marketing, including after-market communications, with our customers to improve them and make them more relevant.”

Process

By utilizing a third-party for the more extensive research into its customers’ buying life-cycle, Good Technology was able to gain an unbiased look into how its customers interact with the company and its marketing campaigns. Using a third-party ensured every organization understood the customers’ point of view and created stronger alignment across departments.

Conducted Interviews

The interviews of Good Technology customers used for the primary research included more than 30 global Fortune 100 companies, as well as a number of SMB customers. According to Zhivago, “Whatever you think your customer believes to be important is likely wrong.”

  • Interviewees were asked about the trigger event — what internally caused them to want to find a new solution, or evaluate a new technology
  • Focused on discovering what experience the customer wanted to have with the vendor, and what marketing assets those customers were using in their buying process

A major problem with marketing today is that many of us resort to guessing about our customers’ likes, dislikes and needs. This is a problem. We need to take advantage of the tools at our disposal, such as social media, SEO, and blogs, to learn about the customer.

Analysis

Analysis included reviewing detailed feedback from Good Technology customers and mapping the buyer’s journey, including customer experiences and interactions.

From there, the material was put together in presentation form for what Gibbs described as an “internal road show” to tell the story.

She added that having a third-party as part of the internal presentations was valuable.

Good Technology’s customers were receptive to the interview process, and the company found that the interviews created a sense of relationship, partnership and goodwill.

“It wasn’t someone at the company telling the story and potentially creating friction, it was a third-party,” Gibbs stated. “That’s really important for internal credibility. You don’t want to be the person who says, ‘So-and-so is really unhappy with your product, or services, or support.’ You want to be able to show the data and quotes from your customers.”

The customer feedback analysis uncovered two interesting facts for a B2B marketer with very large enterprise clients.

  • First, even very high-level executives frequently used freemail (such as Gmail and Yahoo!) email accounts when conducting research and interacting with marketing activities and assets. They did this explicitly to avoid talking to Sales before they were ready.
  • Second, while these prospects were interacting with industry and vendor websites, they also heavily took advantage of Gartner, the technology research firm, throughout the buying cycle to determine what vendors to consider.

In light of this learning, Gibbs said Good Technology increased the focus on its relationship with Gartner.

Gap

With the customer interviews analyzed and presented throughout the company, Marketing next performed a gap analysis of its marketing programs and assets.

This analysis was pretty straightforward. Gibbs said the marketing team took a sheet listing the information and assets Good Technology customers were looking for at each stage of the buying cycle, and then listed all of its current marketing resources.

Comparing the two lists, the team gave each marketing resource a rating of red, yellow or green.

She said, “Where does what you are currently doing stand, and where does it fall short? You will often find you have some strengths that you are not looking at the right way and that you tend to focus on the weaknesses.”Four Moments of Truth

Take Action

“Then we asked, ‘How can we change our marketing approach and assets?'” Gibbs said. “What can we do quickly? What’s going to take a little bit longer, and what do we have to build for longer term?”

She said the first step was to eliminate efforts that had no impact on Good Technology’s business. In this case, Marketing stopped producing e-books.

  • The customer interviews found the problem was not the content of the e-books; it was simply calling them “e-books.”
  • Gibbs explained that using the marketing lingo/jargon term did not resonate or have credibility with Good Technology’s B2B audience.

“The asset may have great content the customer is not going to use simply because you are calling it something that they don’t trust,” said Gibbs.

Marketing found its customers trusted white papers, so the e-books were rewritten, reformatted and reproduced as white papers.

She offered more examples of different time-frame activities:

  • Short term — Stop doing things that didn’t have impact; begin using customer-centric terminology
  • Long term — Rebuild the marketing resource infrastructure to more closely match what Good Technology customers need

Gibbs said the final stage was to measure the impact of these changes.

 Continue the process through the entire customer experience

This effort was undertaken with the intent of better understanding the customer to help refine and improve marketing efforts. Internally, customer service and support also became very engaged with the results of the initial customer interviews, and wanted to extend the insight into the post-purchase process.The result of this interest was replicating the process on the post-purchase experience of Good Technology’s customers.

The company is currently in the process of “gluing” these learnings together to create an end-to-end customer experience map, so the company can provide a consistent customer experience over the entire lifetime of the relationship.

Results

Gibbs said the results of just the short-term changes brought on by this effort are impressive:

  • Across-the-board 30% increase in the return on marketing
  • 130%, and more, improvement in lead quality response to certain marketing assets
  • 40% increase in conversion from Marketing-qualified to Sales-accepted leads

She added that pipeline velocity was another key metric, and that lead quality was more important to Marketing than lead quantity.

“If you have big customers, you need to have a face-to-face relationship” said Gibbs, explaining what she learned from this campaign.

Gibbs added, “We talk about digital, we talk about social, and they are critically important. But nothing replaces sitting down and having a conversation on a regular basis. If you don’t have those conversations — and build, really work on building the relationship and understanding your customer’s point of view — you are not going to be successful marketing and selling for the future.

When the company overhauled its collateral and took other steps, such as revamping its post-sales process, it recognized significant improvements in lead generation. Lead quality increased 130 percent and qualified leads that were accepted by sales jumped 40 percent. Overall, the company realized a 30 percent increase in return on marketing.

In today’s world where innovation can be copied, and differentiation is hard to create,  the new advantage for companies is the customer experience.

Ready to make your business customer centric? Learn how.

First steps:

Here are some of the things B2B marketers can do to make the sales and marketing process more customer-centric:

New book: The Future of Business by Brian Solis. A must read.

“But perhaps the real questions to ask are, have you articulated your brand promise and have
you defined the experience you want customers to embrace, feel and endure. And, how does
this experience trigger shared experiences to serve as a benchmark for which to measure
against? Not only can you measure the value of shared experiences but you should also
measure the integrity of the experiences you hoped to deliver.” The Future of Business

 

Learn more about creating ultimate customer experiences at Strategic Service Design.

“2103 the age of the customer” according to Forrester Research

By | customer centric marketing, Customer experience, Customer Insight, Service Marketing, Small Business Marketing, Thoughtleadership and Content Marketing | No Comments

Great work wins business, a great relationship keeps it. Customer centric is the backbone of MacInnis marketing. Being customer centric is centring on the needs and wants of your customer. Focusing on understanding their problems, concerns and wants, not yours! Customer centric marketing is the result of building a solid relationship built on listening not forcing, manipulating someone to buy.Humanising Marketing Process

In January 2013, Forrester published 2013 B2B CMO Imperatives – Driving Growth With Customer Insights, Marketing Automation, and Content Marketing by Sheryl Waksman-Pattek. The report states that we are in the “Age of the Customer” in which 60% of B2B buying decisions are made before buyers engage with a vendor’s sales team. Buyers are online, they are using mobile devices at all hours of the day and they want relevant content that helps them select products and services that meet their needs.

The report had a couple of key recommendations:

  1. Map the buyer’s journey and embed personas in their 2013 marketing plans. Business buyer personas that encapsulate buyer preferences and attitudes will help marketers move their strategies from a product feature/benefit focus to a customer value focus.”
  2. “… think of social and content as one and the same” and “map their content strategies to personas to effectively drive pipeline growth.”
  3. The report also states “creating a thriving content marketing program within B2B organizations is a journey that requires the right organization skills, a firm strategy, discipline, and ongoing management and optimization.”

MyMarketingDept has a great diagram that illustrates the importance of the right message and medium.

Wrong message

It makes sense that we need to focus more on our customers. Yet it seems so difficult for some reason.This customer centric mindset requires a us to change our lens to that of how our customers think. Some businesses are so far removed from this that it is difficult. Others feel that they know what their customers need and think but fail to ask them or test their assumptions. When you get this wrong, it can make a huge impact. When you get it right your prospect should say: “I feel as if I already know you and want to meet you as soon as possible”.

 

The better your alignment of your marketing and sales strategy to your ideal customers the greater chance of building a brand that your customers and employees will love.

It is not surprising that the customer journey is the focus of so many leading companies. According to Gartner:

89% were lost to after a negative experience

86% said they would pay for a better customer experience.

58% said that they would recommend companies who delivered customer experiences that were superior to others.

So the customer journey is critical.

It delivers:

  • A deeper bond between you and your customers
  • It can deliver just the right information or insight needed at the right time
  • It can provide a continual stream of amazing insights and analytics to your internal teams that  can help them learn and innovate faster than the competition

If you don’t invest in a customer centric approach:

  • The trust developed between a buyer and a seller can be broken easily with misalignment
  • Information can be disjoined creating conflict, irrelevant and out of date information
  • It can leave your organisation relying on opinions and guesses

 

Because the touch points of a customers world is always changing, the journey is too. This is not a one off process but a continual process. This approach that I call call customer centric marketing is based on a methodology of Strategic Service Design. It is designing an engagement with your ideal customers and it is a competitive advantage.

Christmas in Australia is poised for an online shopping explosion.

By | Online Marketing, Service Marketing, Small Business Marketing, Thoughtleadership and Content Marketing | No Comments

Last year saw record shopping online in Australia and no doubt it will be a similar trend this year. IBS report states,”Revenue generated by Australian online retailers is expected to increase 8.3% per annum over the five years through 2012-13 and total $11.3 billion.”

FastDesign has some good highlights from an article: Trends in online Shopping

  • Online shopping in Australia is expected to expand its share of the retail market from 2 to 3 percent to 7 to 8 percent – closer to the threshold it already occupies in the U.S. and the U.K
  • Huge growth in the online House and Garden sector (where consumers browse online and buy in store  – we love to research!)
  • Growth in the electronics sector – with car audio, games, LCD TVs, DVDs, XBox 360s and CDs all commonly searched
  • Continued growth in traffic to shopping and classifieds websites

How are you going as a business get remain visible over the festive season?

Watch this webinar by Experian knowledge Centre

 Key Highlights:

1. Start your Christmas promotion before November because consumers buy in November for Christmas.

2. Sunday is the biggest shopping day online.

3. Boxing Day is still a hit for retailers and are looking online for the sales before this date.

4. We are involved in research online before we buy

5. Email should not be underestimated when compared with search and social

6. Growth, better SEO, key terms and consumers online activity.

7. Engage often and early.

8. Guarantee delivery dates.

9. People are activity on social forums around Christmas.

10. Use Sale, Christmas and New Year terms in SEO

11. Mobile use in store up by 10%. Do you have a mobile site.

12. Free shipping works

13. Offers – 2nd offer or complimentary offers online

14. Shopping cart – 67% abandonment. Use follow up email to re-capture

15. Wishing lists work as a follow up email idea.

Ideas for B2B

1. Make a connection with clients. Sometimes the physical card / postcard is still nice as long as you personalise it. Otherwise don’t bother. E-cards , smilebox and Jibjab can be a funny way to inject some personality into your brand. Sometimes highlighting or supporting a cause might be the way to go.

2. Use it as a way to promote your IP, 12 top blog articles, Free webinar, e-book etc

3.Celebrate with clients in a Christmas function. There is nothing like pressing the flesh with people to reconnect and ignite a new interest in the next years planning.

4. Package some NY planning services and make them order able online. A gift of a service is also a good idea. $200 worth of small business planning. Gift cards work equally well for B2B.

5. A gift as long as it is useful for both. A calendar with your logo, a mouse mat, coffee mug. Something visible.

Summary

In a white paper called Retail in Australia: It’s Time to Embrace the Digital Future.’ there is a nice summary of where we are.
“Whether Australian retailers are ready or not, the local retail landscape has irrevocably changed. From ‘bricks and mortar’ to ‘bricks and clicks’ to purely ‘e-tail’, consumers are demanding more from traditional retailers and there are significant risks for those who do not to keep up with the pace of change.“Consumers are looking for more than a web presence, they want convenience and value online, through features like free shipping and free returns, making it challenging for those retailers who have yet to embrace e-commerce to catch up. Bricks and mortar retailers need to take action now if they want to become competitive in the online space, offering a way for consumers to connect both online and offline,”  said Matt Glasner, General Manager of Experian Marketing Services.

Some Xmas campaigns

I thought were funny and worth sharing. Merry Christmas

Target – crazy lady, thought it was funny
E-bay  – another take on a Christmas carol
Aussiebum
– just cos
Interactive marketing – Promotions that are high-tech

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