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customer centric

Customer Centricity has never been more important

By | customer centric marketing, Customer experience, Customer Insight, Employee Experience | No Comments
As part of the run up to the 2013 Incite Summit, we asked 300+ marketing and communications executives about the key issues they see impacting on their roles in 2013.Customer Centric 1
Incite uses crowd sourcing to discuss with marketing and communication executives key marketing questions.
Customer centricity is starting to become a focus because of the social channels or the conversation is coming from customers or us. We are directing the conversation and so companies have no choice but to be transparent, customer facing, responsive and empathic. I would challenge that many marketers would not have gone this route if it wasn’t apparent that they had to. On the other hand I come at it from a customer centric mindset because it resonates with my value set.
It will be interesting those companies that give it a token gesture as part of their campaigns and those who have it as part of their DNA and more importantly how customers respond.

 Ncustomer_centric_maturityote on definitions of ‘customer-centricity

One could read these results as a more cautious reading of what ‘customer-centricity’ means for a corporate audience. The ideal espoused by Bob Thompson of Customer Think is of a ‘customer-inspired’ business, which

“Thinks deeply about what customers are trying to accomplish in their business and personal lives, and create new ways to add value before they ask”

But perhaps corporate practitioners’ understanding of ‘customer-centricity’ is lower down Thompson’s “Customer-Centric Pyramid” – at the ‘Customer-Driven’ phase:

Incite shares some brilliant interviews with different marketers.

Nicki Briggs is the Chief Marketing Officer at Chobani, the US-based Greek Yogurt company. –

“To be honest, no, we didn’t. It’s naturally a part of who we are. It’s not forced, it’s what we believe. It’s how we have always been.

One of the core principles in our company stems from the notion of ‘the golden rule’ – treating our consumers the way we want to be treated ourselves if we were buying that product.

But because my team is so closely linked to the consumer – through our visual engagement team and customer loyalty team, amongst others – we make sure that everything we’re saying is consistent with our DNA. And that it’s something that consumers can really get involved in.Everything we try to create is around being authentic and transparent like that.”

What steps have you taken to achieve that aim? What have you done to make L’Oreal more customer-centric?

Marc Speichert is the Chief Marketing Officer at L’Oreal USA. 

“We’ve done a lot of work around the path to purchase. We partnered with McKinsey, to help us rethink how consumers are actually approaching, and how they think about purchasing, beauty.

That led us to move from the traditional funnel metaphor to a more circular path to purchase. In this circular model, it all starts with consideration, then moves to evaluation, to purchase, and then to advocacy. Understanding when people move from one step to another, by each category, is very important for us.

Moving forward, we then use those learnings to think differently about our Go To Market strategies as we launch products.”

Claire Burns, Chief Customer Officer at MetLife
“My role at Metlife is leading a transformation – we’re trying to transform the company from a product-centric to a customer-centric organisation. It’s a huge change remit – in terms of transforming almost everything that we do to an outside-in perspective, from what today is very much inside-out. –

To get there, we’re doing a lot around gathering customer insights, both in terms of improving our existing experiences, and in terms of helping design new experiences for customers.

We’re also fixing a whole lot about today’s experience, and we’re making more consistent experiences across multiple products, markets, channels of communications, channels of interaction.

For us, we’re trying to stand out in terms of our brand promise as enabling and emboldening consumers, and to act in their financial interests, and what we’re finding is that all of our competitors are talking about scaring people. Scaring people into buying this product because it’s something they need, and what we’re trying to say is that this is in your control –  solutions to help you secure your financial future and realise your dreams.

We’re spinning this as ‘we’re giving you the tools, you can do this’. And to do that and to be successful in delivering that promise, we absolutely need to be customer-centric. We need to be absolutely simple, intuitive, easy to work with, and be providing these kinds of tools that help people feel that confidence – and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

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Does your business have an intimacy problem?

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

As the bigger your business becomes, does it become more removed from your customers? Do you talk to your customers?  I don’t mean just a one night stand. Doing the odd tweet, blog post or facebook update. I mean building a relationship, insight and collaborating. Do you see your customers more as data points, in groups? Do you see only facts about your customers, but have little meaning behind those facts? Do you keep your customers at a distance? Are you scared of them. What they might say. (Believe it or not a client said this to me the other day).

Good relationships take trust. We need to be vulnerable and open ourselves up. That is where the good stuff happens. We need to admit we aren’t always right. Sometimes we do stupid stuff.

How do you know what is important to your customers, without an intimate relationship? Have you designed emotion out of your business?

Relationships value:

  • relationships over facts
  • empathy over data
  • intimacy over volume

Do your employees make decisions on facts and analysis? Do instead we partner with customers to help make the best decisions for them. We look to solve individual real problems not the crowd’s.  Involving the people you serve is intuitive but not done because it is hard. Relationships are hard.It is a commitement.

Consumer collaboration is a better way. People who know me, will know I am all about creating customer centric marketing. The reason is simple. There are only so many ways to streamline, become more efficient and compete. Creating a customer centric mindset is the best way to create sustained growth.

This video from communispace is a great illustration of how many businesses have moved away from customer intimacy and the benefits of collaborating instead.

The Consumer Collaboration Manifesto from Communispace on Vimeo.

 Do you have an intimacy problem with your employees too?

It is not just about creating a relationship with your customers but also your employees.

How do you communicate authentically? Terry Pearce from the book Leading Out Loud believes it is a combination of appealing to the mind and heart.

  • Mind looks for evidences
  • The heart looks for passion
  • The mind weighs up facts
  • The heart acts on faith
  • The mind looks for purpose
  • The heart seeks meaning
  • The mind believes
  • The heart trusts

Both are necessary for committed action.

“Motivation”, Pearce says,” is about getting people to do things. Inspiration is about getting people to believe in things.”

 

 

If 70% of us pick up a smart device to learn about you, what do we find?

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

They find youIn 2012 Google Published ZMOT: Winning the Zero moment of truth. I did an post on this in the impact of multi-devices some time ago. You might think that you have a website, so you are fine right? We now know that customers are checking out 10 sources about us before they engage. In 2010 /2011 the average number of sources used doubled. Now if we are booking a dinner we check out reviews like WOMO, ask our friends on Facebook, go to our Apps. When you are considering a purchase, what sources of information do you seek to assist you with your decision?

The truth is, we decide to share whatever we experience when you are not there and we use digital channels to do that. This shared experience is what others seek out before they engage with you. This social proof is more important than anything else in shaping our opinion. We are looking for substance, personalisation and a shared experience to guide us in our decision making. This is the Informational Experience. Jagan Neman in his book The Shift calls it the Customer Knowledge Chasm.

The ShiftYour website is not enough. The future of your influence lies in the experience. The customers entire journey they have with you, online and off. Someone must take responsibility for these experiences and design and define them. Understanding the customer journey is the only way to see what it is we don’t know and what is missing. We like to call this humanising the experience.

Businesses need to monitor and assess these experiences, and ensure to craft experiences their customers enjoy. One of the key challenges facing businesses in a social economy, however, is that the behaviors of connected customers are no longer congruent with that of the traditional customers they were originally built to serve. In many organizations, customer service is still operated out of a call center; marketing is spread across multiple, yet siloed functions that follow the linear path within a traditional sales funnel; and product development follows a roadmap that looks so far ahead
that it inevitably splits from evolving customer realities and expectations.” The Future of Business

 

Biggest impact for marketers in 2013, customer centricity

By | customer centric marketing, Customer experience, Customer Insight, Small Business Marketing, Value Proposition, vision | No Comments

According to a research of 300+ marketers by Incite these are the key issues impacting them in 2013.

1. Customer centricity:  This is all around getting close to the customer and understanding them better. This is all

about customers able to have a meaningful impact of business practices, strategy and goals. This is the most

significant impact on roles in 2013 across both B2B and B2C.

2. Multi-channel marketing/communications: Linked closely to the previous issue, multi-channel marketing

focuses on how to integrate multiple marketing/comms channels to ensure they work in concert for an impactful,

effective, and pervasive marketing campaign. A significant 22% picked this as top priority

3. Building unique customer experiences through more personalisation/segmentation/better consumer

Biggest impact on Marketinginsight: Striving towards providing your customers with a personalised, engaging and unique relationship with

your brand. Companies are beginning to do this through the increased segmentation made possible by social

media/big data profiling, and by the proliferation of marketing/communications channels and platforms. Evidently,

from the popularity of this option, it is a challenge that executives have not overcome completely. 10% picked this

as top priority.

customer engagement level

4. Internal Collaboration: Focusing on more efficient internal collaboration between marketing and

communications, to ensure that the company speaks with a unified voice, shares insight and responds better to

consumers.7% picked this as top priority – which is significant in itself, but more so when one considers that 24%

of Communications execs said this was priority #1, and only 5% of marketers. More on that below.Customer Centricity

The ideal espoused by Bob Thompson of Customer Think is of a ‘customer-inspired’ business, which

“Thinks deeply about what customers are trying to accomplish in their business and personal lives, and create new

ways to add value before they ask”.

Companies are asking how they can change their corporate culture to be more focused on the customer. How do we listen to our customers and how do we build delightful customer experiences?

Learn more. Take our customer centricity test.

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.

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