“Make consumers’ lives better.”
This is what businesses and brands must do. Makes sense, doesn’t it? More often than not, brands fail to meet this need. A Co.Exist article discusses the need for brands today to create meaningful lives. Umair Haque, blogger from Harvard Business Review claims, “The next global economy isn’t just about stuff, it’s about human lives.” Over time, what consumers look for in a brand has drastically changed over time from what the product does to how it makes you feel to who you are. Today it is about making a better you.
The marketplace is cluttered with businesses that sell “throwaway” products in the name of consumerism and brands that are stained with negative experiences, making it difficult for anyone with a conscience to associate with. There are however, amidst it all, brands that do it right. These are the customer centric businesses that genuinely want to improve the livelihood of its customers.
“Your customers, are beginning to take a quantum leap into an era where a life meaningfully well lived is what really counts.”
In order to keep up in this era, some brands may have to undergo internal rebuilding so that fulfilling the customer’s desire for a more meaningful life is achievable. This might mean realigning your core values with your customers and creating a cultural change within your work place that focuses on your customers’ ultimate need. Keep up with the new era of change and be the brand that is far more meaningful than ever before, be the brand that makes your customers’ lives better. At Proto Partners we can help you to do this. Our goal is to “help organisations enrich the lives of customers, one customer experience at a time.” hence making a more meaningful brand.
“Showrooming” is when people come into store to look at products and go away from the retail store to view it online to find cheaper options. With “showrooming” on the rise, how can retail stores keep customers in stores? A realbusiness article suggests says it’s as simple as using mobile in store.
Research shows that most people who showroom actually use their mobiles during their shopping experience. Mobile is a threat to the retail environment, however there is also an opportunity to make friends with the enemy. Companies can now interact with their customers while they shop through their mobiles, perhaps there could be a mobile retail assistant? Or perhaps specials made available through mobiles or even product suggestions as you browse the store. “It’s the perfect tool for businesses to find new ways to make buying in-store the convenient option.” By truly understanding how mobile are used by customers and their retail journey experience with you, opportunities for a successful new form of interaction with your brand is made possible.
In an article from MediaPost, Ingrid Froelich emphasizes that “brand experience is defined by your customers’ perceptions of their interaction with you.” The way that your customers experience your brand across channels whether they are active or passive in this, all affect the way they see your brand. This can make your break your brand experience.
“To stand out, organisations now need to meet and exceed customer expectations.”
So how is this done? First, you need to know your customers and what exactly are their expectations.
- Know your customers. The easiest way of doing this is not by assuming what they know but by simply listening to your customers. Take an ‘Outside In’ perspective to help you to understand and emphasize with your customers because the customer voice can strongly affect the way your brand is perceived. “By hearing the customer voice, the organisation can prioritize change and support the most valuable touchpoints.” Every channel has value, however, by placing your focus on the areas your customers most value, it will become a win-win situation.
- Don’t be a stalker. It’s great knowing your customers but not in the same way a stalker knows their victim. To create a genuine brand experience, it is important to give your customers privacy. Combine your real-time data with information your customers have volunteered to give to you. “Responsible use of customer data enhances loyalty by responding to preferences.”
- Weave customer-centricity throughout your organisation. Customers do not necessarily think about the operations and different departments behind their experience with your brand, whether they are good or bad. “All of the good intentions in the world and all of the speeches from CEOs and customer advocates in your organization cannot replace the need for a fundamental customer-centric culture and process.” Therefore every aspect of your organisation must maintain customer-centric goals so that the customer experience is seamless and consistent.
A blog post by Wim Rampen discusses an article titled: “Customer Centricity, still in its infancy”. Wim Rampen believes that a CEM (Customer Experience Management)/CRM (Customer Relationship Management) strategies aren’t a necessity or a simple solution for companies to become customer centric. His argument claims that small businesses can be customer centric and therefore it can work on a large scale as well meaning that a CEM/CRM strategy does not need to be in place.
Customer Centricity, we believe, is a result of a cultural change made in a business. This change is one that has been mutually agreed upon and delivered through every aspect of the business. People are the heart of any organisation and when those people put people first (their customers), the organisation becomes truly customer centric. This is a result of clear, comphrehensive and sustainable customer orientated goals and training.
Businesses without a clear direction or understanding of their customers often have difficulty in becoming customer centric. Proto Partners help companies to uncover their customers’ wants and needs, areas where improvement is most needed (and will yield profits) and ways it can be implemented.
When people come together to inspire each other, bounce ideas off each other, bring their skills and talent to the table and work together to create, great things happen. However, “Co-creation is more than a tool; it is a Program of Change.”
According to Fronteer, there are 4 types of co-creation and 5 guiding principles to successful co-creation.
The 4 types are:
- Club of experts: Through a selection process, individuals with specific skills are invited to work on the challenge at task.
- Crowd of people: Crowdsourcing so there is strength in numbers and a variety of skills and ideas.
- Coalition of parties: Parties decide to collaborate in order to solve complex issues.
- Community of kindred spirits: A group of people with similar interests and goals come together for a greater good.
This is a result of the two dimensions of co-creation. Since there must be an initiator for co-creation there is the question of openness and ownership. Does one group or person take responsibility over the whole process and result and is it open for others to join (and who decides who’s in and who isn’t?).
At Proto Partners we co-create in several ways. The most popular is first to co-create as Partners (a Club of Experts) and secondly we co-create with the client (Coalition of Parties). We believe that by combining our efforts and involving our clients, the results are far more insightful.
As the significance on the customer experience increasingly grows Forrester has revealed predicted trends for 2013 that will help companies to avoid mistakes and get ahead in 2013.
In the report, Kerry Bodine predicts that customer experience professionals will seek to engage employees. At Proto Partners, we believe that the people in your organization can affect a customer’s view on your brand completely; this is especially true with service-based companies. Without strong service principles and training, your staff is left without any direction and the way they deliver your organisation’s service is based purely on interpretation. Therefore engaging employees in your customer experience is crucial and hopefully more companies will catch on to this predicted trend this year.
It is also predicted that emotional insights will take center stage and that marketers will mistake messaging for experience improvements. Without customer feedback or considering the emotional journey of the customer with your company, your customer experience will be lacking a human touch leading to a detachment from your brand. Attracting and keeping your customers is obviously important to any organization and to put them at the center of your strategy will ultimately result in financial returns. However, improving the customer experience is not to be mistakenly achieved by short-term initiatives like “whitewashing campaigns created to cover up experience blunders” as Kerry puts it.
“what motivates people is emotion, not information.”
The Heath Brothers wrote in a newsletter about four somewhat-controversial yet highly effective strategies to motivate your team. The newsletter reveals that real motivation derives from emotion and being able to connect so much with your team that they feel that there has to be change (in other words, they are then inspired to do so). The four strategies listed are: a demonstration, photos or videos, a site visit and a designed environment.
Alexander Osterwalder speaks about how the customer experience (pains & gains) is an integral part of the value of your service.
Research is tricky to get right. First of all you have got to ask the right people and the right questions. Without these two things, most data collected can go down the drain along with all your time spent gathering it. That’s why it is important to align the focus of thinking with the corresponding brand attributes to create a relatable and seamless customer experiences.
Below you will see that CMS Wire has created an insightful information graphic about transforming research and utlising it so that it becomes completely beneficial. This information graphic visualises the significance of focussing your research and asking the right questions.