Member Since: 23rd Apr 2009
Managing Partner CRC
21st Nov 2019
Could not agree with you more! I first heard Barack Obama use the term "You can't put lipstick on a pig," and this is what so many executives don't seem to get to grips with. In Colin Shaw's work, he emphasises the extreme importance of the insight that customers are people first - emotional, with seemingly impossible expectations, irrational perceptions, and all the other completely human traits that make us so unique.
It doesn't matter how often the hotel receptionist uses my name in a robot-like voice that indicates it is obviously just a duty, it doesn't matter that the computer recorded two-year old information about what I like to eat, or that I don't like pillows that are too high and give me a stiff neck. What I want to do is talk about how I missed my son's 12th birthday because of my trip this time, or how I lost two stone since they last saw me.
Well done on a thought provoking article!
10th Nov 2018
Thanks for putting this practical piece together.
After 30 years of preaching the message of delighting customers and creating great experiences, I'm inclined to look at getting more simplicity in measuring customer needs, perceptions, reactions and all other "voice of the customer" strategies. The last time I counted, there were at least 43 different ways to measure these things, especially when we include things like focus groups and mystery shoppers. (Customers also start suffering from survey fatigue.)
I believe the most important question is the one you asked right at the beginning: "Are you going to use any new input you get?" So often this information just falls by the wayside.
So what's the answer? Quite honestly, I don't know. However, sitting down knee-to-knee and jaw-to-jaw with customers gives great information about what they like and don't like about doing business with a particular firm. And when I want to get the attention of managers and staff at all levels, the most powerful method seems to be a recording of a mystery shopping experience or two. For senior managers, an "Undercover Boss" approach also opens their eyes.
16th Jul 2018
Couldn't agree with you more, Jeff.
It's just dumb to turn what should have been a private conversation, easily managed, into a very public debate. It's horrific how normal conversations are ignored, and I know of cases where it's done on purpose: "Let's just wait for them to contact us on Twitter, and then we'll respond."
Truth be told, as someone from an older generation, I find most of the modern communication media, from call centres to emails to all the social media, rather painful. Nevertheless, when I don't get a response or satisfaction to my small issues, I am obscenely enthusiastic about getting onto very public platforms.
Great article and thought provoker!
27th Mar 2018
Is it just me or is there a complete contradiction between point 2, (automation, AI, chatbots, etc.,) and point 3, the idea of quality human interaction?
It may be because I'm 60 and I still remember the respect and warmth of people dealing with people, as opposed to the narcissism and greed displayed by most companies I deal with today. No machine, no matter how sophisticated, well designed and "clever" will ever be able to make me feel welcome as a customer - certainly not in my lifetime. It's obscene that executives in companies even think that the human touch can be replaced without paying the price. I'd much rather that they have the integrity and honesty to say, "We know this impacts on you as a customer, and we will understand if you decide to leave."
I'm certainly no neo-Luddite, and I love the fact that I can order remotely from amazon.com, do my own on-line check-in for planes and trains, and use an ATM at midnight. But when I need to speak to a human being that can solve my unique problem, no chatbot will suffice.
26th Jul 2017
Great article, Chris.
By far the majority of large organisations seem clueless about the modern marketing dilemma. My generation learnt about the traditional approaches of the 4 Ps, hard selling, and marketing by bombardment, but clearly these strategies have failed. Modern marketing doesn't involve hype, spamming, manipulation and any number of tricks to fake quality of products and service.
I really like Three's approach, and clearly, being number four, they understand that the best source of new business is always current customers, whether by returning over and over again, or by recommending the company to others.
I'm now 60 years old, and I really don't need my bank to remind me of my mortality by incessantly sending me emails and texts about funeral cover.
27th Jan 2016
You make some excellent points, and of course you are right when you say that the best learning takes place from debate. An ancient Greek ancestor of mine was hot on that topic! Good post.
25th Jan 2016
Not sure if you are trying to be controversial, but I'm very disinclined to agree with your arguments and examples. After 30 years of consulting in the world of customer management, (mostly promoting the ideas of relationships and experiences, of "eliciting joy, enabling connecxtion, inspiring exploration, evoking pride or impacting society,) when the original, well-researched and credible findings on Customer Effort Score were published in the Harvard Business Review and subsequent book, it felt completely right. For the majority of businesses in the majority of industries that force their customers to jump through hoops, (B2C and B2B,) the FIRST place they need to look for opportunities to improve customer loyalty is by reducing effort. This gives them the right to then build the stuff that creates emotional bonds. The majority of examples that you give exactly prove my point: UBER and IKEA challenged their stuck-in-conventional competition rivals in their industries shudder in fear - because for customers it was now easier and cheaper to do business. The value (similar to amazon.com,) lies in reducing how hard it is, (physically, intellectually, emotionally and in terms of time effort,) to deal with a company or an industry. The seminal work by Kim and Mauborgne on Blue Ocean Strategy also proves that in many areas we have to simplify as we challenge."Another great example is AMEX: while thousands of other banks just don't get it, AMEX creates a sense of comfort and safety - for a very high fee, I might add.
I don't want to hog the conversation, but, like I said, are you just trying to be controversial, or do you really think customers today will pay more for their lives becoming more complicated?
17th Jul 2012
It wasn't just the Stones! How about...
Twisted Sister: "We're Not Gonna Take It!"The Doors: "This is the End... Of our elaborate plans, of everything that stands, I'll never look into your eyes again"Unknown: "I heard it through the grapevine"Queen: "I want it all, and I want it now"Blink 182: "All the small things..."Semisonic: "You've got a secret smile, and you use it only for me."Phantom of the Opera: "Say you love me."Aretha Franklin: "R-E-S-P-E-C-T!"Nirvana: "Here we are now - entertain us"The Kinks: "You really got me now" and, what customers really want is to be...Thunderstruck! (AC/DC)
By the way, I was sure "I can't get no satisfaction" was about unrequited teenage love, but if you look at the lyrics, it's actually an attack on advertising. Lyrics of first verse: "When I'm driving in my car, and that man gets on the radio, he's telling me more and more, about some useless information, trying to fire up my imagination... I can't get no satisfaction."
Great discussion started!
31st Oct 2011
Forgive me for writing about the first few paragraphs of this article only.
After a break of four years, I finally had a chance to return to London and the UK, and it turned out to be so disappointing. It began with a really indifferent flight on Virgin Atlantic, a business that, in my mind, was one of the few that "get it." The staff just seemed so demotivated and tired, so I put it down to a bad flight. But on landing in London, and for the next five days, I just had a string of bad experiences: horrid hotel in Paddington, poor service at banks, London Bus Tours that now don't do much "live commentary" anymore, (that was always the best part,) terrible and expensive food, Hamleys, Madame Tussaud's, Lion King, and Tower of London overcrowded, and "something missing" in terms of the London spirit and sense of humour that I knew so well. And then, at the National Geographic Store, as I sat there on my final day, I thought about it, and came to the conclusion that Londoners and people in the UK must be suffering terribly.
Is everyone demoralised and fearful of their job safety having seen all the retrenchments around them? Are they upset and cynical with the uninspired and often crooked leadership of the politicians and business leaders in the UK? Did the recent student and other riots have a negative effect on the population at large? Are there simply too many "foreigners" in London who barely speak a word of English, and who come from cultures that are not customer-oriented? I don't know, and it may be something else, but it all made me very, very sad. After all, this is the country where the book on courtesy and manners was written ;-)
There was one exception that I simply have to mention: The people in the bright blue jackets that work on the London Underground. Every question answered politely and patiently, no behaviour that in any way showed disrespect for the same silly questions from the same silly tourists.
And in case you're wondering, the flight back home on Virgin was also really poor.
17th May 2010
Yes! Ran, you have hit the nail on the head.
In most businesses, the issue of customer loyalty has been dealt with in the same way that all other sales and marketing efforts have: as simplistically as possible. The age of mass production and mass marketing is long gone, but companies still insist on trying to "do" all customers at once. With all the choices I have as a customer, I use multiple suppliers, and none of whom would ever class me as anything more than one of the "rats and mice" customers. It mitigates my risks, (think BA on strike - again,) allows me to play them off against each other, (I am currently paying off my mortgage at 2% interest below what most others pay, and without being a great negotiator,) and our business gets used to having the flexibility of multiple suppliers. If I was buying airplanes, like Michael O'Leary at Ryanair I might settle on B737s to save costs on pilot training, volume discounts, and spare parts, but by far the majority of customers and businesses don't buy 'planes.
I also liked the matrix about individual value and influence value. Not sure if your percentages are guesses, or based on your research, but my gut tells me that 7% is too low a figure for the "Everyday Influencers." Like Kevin (the Bronze cardholder in your illustration,) I believe that there are many frustrated customers out there who simply want to make their voices heard. (Millions of Kevins voted Lib Dem in the UK a few weeks ago, just to make their point about politics, and the same will no doubt be true across the pond with the "tea party' Kevins.)