Tag Archives: CVP

Why the CEO is king when it comes to CX

“We break china for our clients”

broken chinaThis is an expression I heard from the CEO of a private bank I was developing a new rewards programme with. I am not quite sure exactly what it means, but I got the sentiment immediately. It convinced me the CEO cared about his clients above anything else. It also set a standard by which the rewards programme and any other customer programme had to live up to. This was over ten years ago so there was no supporting VoC, no customer charter and no continuous improvement programme in place. But it served them well then,  as it does today, to prioritise actions which delivered more for their customers.

This commitment, in part, inspired me to focus on Customer Experience. It led me to find the correlation between experience and profitability. Which led to the creation of Lexden as a Customer Experience and Value Proposition Consultancy. I have a lot to thank that CEO for.

It highlights the impact having an authentic CEO onside has when it comes to driving customer strategies through the business. We’ve flagged this support as a key contributor in customer experience programmes ever since.

This CEO clearly got it. In fact 80% of CEO’s believe they get it according to Bain & Company.

merc2Steve Cannon, Mercedes Benz CEO has described Customer Experience as the new marketing. He goes as far to say, “Operational excellence is the ticket for entry. We need to eliminate the word satisfied from our vocabulary. Satisfied for me is vanilla. We need to delight. We need to amaze. We need to provide extraordinary.”

Whilst some CEO’s have committed and are driving customer experience through as a new business model, consumers of many brands have yet to reap the benefits. In fact, the same research from Bain & Co identified only 8% of consumers agree the CEO’s do get it.

And some CEO’s seem to believe they can flick CX on (and no doubt off) like a switch. I heard this perception reportedly shared by a CEO of a low-cost airline who stated, ‘They <customers> will walk across glass to get to our planes if the price is cheap enough’. Needless to say that whilst a CEO with this approach to business might momentarily commit to CX because of the profit potential, a less sustainable ‘squeeze more and give back less’ strategy will turn their head too.

If you want to know if your CEO is really committed to putting customers first in order to drive greater profitability, take a look at our 6 point check. On the left are the behaviours and business actions pushed through observed from CEO’s who prioritise customers:

CEO ranking.pptx

When the CEO leads; the business, all employees, customers and ultimately shareholders profit. CEO as king of CX is crucial to maximise the profit potential from such an investment.

The CEO is key, but a successful CX strategy is much more involved. If you want to know if your overall CX plan is effective, try Lexden’s ‘The Right Direction’. In two weeks we will identify where you are now, where you could be and recommend how to get there.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Customer Experience Consultant, Lexden

Lexden is a Customer Experience & Value Proposition Consultancy 

We help clients profit from customer opportunities and challenge | We achieve this by helping to understand what makes customers tick, building memorable customer experiences and creating engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to Lexden’s ‘Customer’s World’ Update for ideas, inspiration and insights to improve your customer strategy endeavours. 

For further information contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 316548 or T: +44 (0)1279 902205.  You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter or read client testimonials and case studies at www.lexdengroup.com.

 

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Five Magical Proposition Development Ingredients – No. 3 Expert Insight Interpretation

Unlike advertising campaigns or systems improvements, which happen all the time in a business, customer value proposition development happens a lot less frequently. There are fewer products and services to promote and therefore fewer propositions to create or evolve. Which means those clients involved in this important process are working across – at best – a few proposition developments each year.

Picture1At Lexden our team has developed over 50 propositions in different sectors, across more than 10 countries, to all segments of society. That’s not us wanting to crow, but what it does mean is that we have probably spent between 500 and 1,000 days searching for or commissioning and interrogating customer insight to unearth the compelling proposition territory to build from. We find this frequency and variety allows us to reach out, identify and blend a wider pallet of attributes and techniques than the biggest proposition departments have access too. The reason being If you are only in the space once in a while how do you know your proposition is truly different? The more you do it the less you are prepared to compromise. But if you don’t do it often enough  you won’t realise you are compromising in the first place.

Drayton Bird used to talk about there being 121 things to get wrong when running a mailing campaign. Proposition development is the same. Until you’ve attacked it from all angles you won’t know what you’ve missed until it’s too late.

And it couldn’t be more apparent than during the insight interpretation phase. I was recently involved in a large CX project where one of the big management consultancy companies said, “You’ll get most of the answers from 60% of the insight”. God help the client who appoints them on proposition development – our experience is that it’s that last 10% when it comes good.

blue reseachWhen the insight is 100% reviewed, the thorough synthesis allows you to find territories which need to represent a combination of the consumer’s rational needs fulfilled, an improvement made to the customer life (typically connected to an emotional driver) and competitive advantage through leveraged brand assets. And the balance varies between products and markets. We’ve learnt that.

There are no short cuts to the answers. But there are smart ways to interrogate the insight to arrive at territories earlier to build the propositions from. It’s also important to put a credibility rating on insight.

We once found that a client’s competitors public domain research was more reliable than their own. Not an easy pill to swallow, but one we got past in order to use this external richer insight to develop a super car credit card proposition. To do this you need a clear head. A clear head means keeping the customer as a number one priority.

The more you work across industry sectors the easier it is to accept that a client’s proposition will occupy such a small proposition of that customer’s life – either at purchase or usage stage. Having this awareness inspires us to work harder for even more compelling propositions. 

Finding and interpreting the insight for us is like finding the right spring board and getting a perfect take off. Hit it right and the rest falls in to place. Get a poor trajectory and everything thereafter will be a lesser version of what could have been. If your responsibility is comms, your head is full of, ‘how do we communicate this to the chosen audience?’ Which is why Brand and Comms agencies’ CVP models can seem very one-dimensional in their approach as they railroad other elements in order to get to the comms. 

Having worked for agencies in the past, I understand the drivers behind their thinking. A former comms agency MD I worked for, where I was building a customer consultancy service, believed that proposition development was a waste of time. He felt it kept the agency from feeding the creative teams back at the agency with briefs to generate revenues. His view was that the planners should do a lesser job for the client so we could jump to the ad campaign – and let the ad sell the idea. 

Needless to say I didn’t agree. I also didn’t buckle to this warped model and left to set up Lexden as a independent Customer Strategy Agency to avoid such compromises of integrity. 

So the key to a successful proposition is to ensure the interrogation and interpretation of the customer insight is thorough and is conducted by those who understand and look to fulfill the consumer motivations, how to trigger these through marketing assets and complete this exercise on a regular basis – meaning they know the difference between the good, the bad and the ugly,

In isolation, this is useful. When applied as one of the Lexden’s five magical proposition development ingredients, it’s powerful stuff:

1. Clients ‘inspired by customers

2. Liberating ideation techniques

3. Expert insight synthesis and interpretation analysis

4. Sharp commercial and viability alertness

5. Energising approach with a ‘go-to-market’ attitude

Points 4 and 5 to follow.

Posted by Christopher Brooks

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency | We put customers at the start and the heart of marketing strategy.

We work with brands to attract and retain happy customers | We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, building memorable customer experience strategies and creating engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to our monthly ‘Putting Customers First’ newsletter.

Or for a discussion on how we may be able to help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44  (0)7968 316548You can also follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter @consultingchris.

Unordinary Thinking No. 25 – Darning socks

Sewing is not something I have ever given much thought to.  That is until I read a really nice story about sewing machines (which, I might add, is not something I normally do either), which illustrates the idea of unordinary perfectly.

Jo-Ann Fabrics, a retailer in the craft and fabric space, wanted to sell more sewing machines.  Presumably this is no different to any of their competitors or, indeed, any organisation. After all, when in business is it not about selling more things to more customers more frequently?

Where Jo-Ann Fabrics approached things differently to others in in a simple premise: they actively pursued a strategy to understand their customers and what would work for them.  Now, don’t just skip over that last sentence.  Read it again.  It is definitely unordinary for an organisation to pursue active strategies and tactics to get under the skin of what their customers do and what motivates them.  Most organisations talk about it; very, very few do something about it.  The important point is to know how simple it can be to do.

Jo-Ann Fabrics used their website as a mechanism to understand what would appeal to their customers.  They did this by making the website a test and learn laboratory whereby different customers would automatically and randomly be shown different offers, website designs and tone of voice.  They looked at what customers actually did, rather than what they said they might do in a focus group.  From this, and following through to which customers purchased (or did not), they were able to gain insight about which overall propositions were most successful.  This, in turn, enabled them to think deeply about what was motivating their customers in order to hone how they communicated with them.

This led to quite a surprising offer for customers.  A deal which, on the face of it, sounds pretty dull and not very good:  Buy one sewing machine and get a second one at 20% off.  However this deal was successful-and not just in selling more machines.

But why? Well, at some level, customers evidently found the prospect of saving 20% on a second sewing machine worth having. However, generally, customers are not going to want two sewing machines and 20% is not exactly an awe inspiring discount.  The point is the offer acted as a catalyst for these customers to talk to friends, relatives and colleagues, any of whom may or may not have been in the market for a sewing machine.  It is no different to the classic ‘member get member’ schemes which you see in all sorts of industry but are often not very successful (certainly the ones I have seen in banks).  So why was this one successful?

I think it comes back to customers’ more deep seated reasons for pursuing a hobby such as sewing.  Making curtains or repairing clothes fits very much in a nurturing emotional space for people.  It relates back to the ‘gatherer’ role of our prehistory and because this is so deep rooted in our psyches, connects at a far more emotional level than the pure rationality of ‘20% off’.  What this means is that people really want to connect with others around this type of activity.  They want to share with others what they get out of it and they want others to (emotionally) benefit in the same way that they do.  It’s why you see sewing classes and clubs.  At Lexden, we have repeatedly seen with certain audience types that craftsmanship, in the form of activities like sewing, often has a significant place in their lives.  And these people often interact very closely, and have strong influence, with others who hold similar values to themselves-a lot more so than for other audiences.

When you know the above, deciding how to communicate with these people in a way that will resonate with them is much simpler.  It will just ‘feel right’ to them.  So when Jo-Ann Fabrics put this understanding together with an offer they had already observed working, the commercial benefits were multiple.  They had people finding time in their busy lives to have conversations about Jo-Ann Fabrics and about their sewing machines.  They had multiple amateur salespeople closing deals for more products.  They tapped into a pool of brand new seamsters who may not have even realised they wanted to have a sewing machine.  They have converts who will come back to buy more fabric, buttons and cotton thread (okay, so this is where my desire to know about sewing starts to diminish).

Looking at customers from a different startpoint, in order to get to a different result.  Incorporating a deep seated understanding of what makes customers tick.  An obvious and simple solution (in hindsight).  All stitched (sorry) together to give multiple benefits to the organisation.  Pretty unordinary.

Posted by Ajai Ranawat

Lexden is a marketing strategy agency which creates unordinary propositions to motivate customers and deliver commercial advantage for brands.

For more information on how we can help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or ajairanawat@lexdengroup.com, or call us on T: +44 (0)20 7490 9123.  And you can follow us on Twitter @consultingchris.

Unordinary Thinking No. 24 How to achieve a 100% high street occupancy rate

Over the past few years more and more consumer segments previously believed immune to the impact of a global recession have become caught by it. Some finding it has ripped through the very heart of their worlds whilst others admitting the disturbances are inconvenient but notable all the same.

I have seen this played out in numerous focus groups involving all age and affluence groups. And the knock on effect is that whilst ten years ago the economy never featured higher than tenth place in ‘Concerning Societal Issues’ trends studies it now knocks other issues out of the park. And ‘value for money’ ambitions dominate proposition development projects we run, where ‘exclusivity’, ‘prestige’ and ‘kudos’ once featured as themes to explore.

I have accepted this economic climate is a new norm and we work within it. And assumed the rest of polite society would behave the same way. So imagine my surprise, and delight, when I took a trip recently and stumbled into a world full of happy consumers revelling in consumerism blissfully tuned out to the mood of the rest of the globe.

This was a sight I hadn’t seen for quite some time. As I looked around I realised this world I’d entered simply refused to conform to the changes demanded by the new market conditions.

Instead it had done something really quite simple instead. It had not buckled or deviated from delivering its two ‘old school’ driving motivations for existence;customer happiness and a unique brand. When I looked around I saw the advantageous signs of how this played out everywhere…

– Every street has a 100% retail occupancy rate
– Every outlet is brimming with goods and devoid of ‘sale’ signs
– Slogans such as ‘nothing makes a child happy like a new toy’ hung instead of the more familiar ‘buy me now’ desperation banners
– Every day the doors open for morning trade hundreds of waiting customers sprint in with smiles on their faces
– Customers queue for hours again and again for the experience the attractions of the town offers
– Without consideration customers purchase products they could get elsewhere for half the price
– The experience of the street has as much attention given to it as the products purchased there
– And consumers stay out until 11pm nightly to line the streets and pay homage to the face of the establishment in a firework fuelled carnival type parade.

It sounds unbelievable, but trust me, it is true. In this world Peter Pan is more real than a double dip recession.

So who has managed to keep this high street and it’s town prospering when all around them falter?

Sir Philip Green? Mary Portas? Sir Stuart Rose?

No. It’s none of the above.

It is in fact Mickey Mouse.

And along with his friends and supporting cast of thousands, they’ve created an enduring parallel world incubated from the trials and tribulations of the real one. Disneyland Paris (although I am sure the global experience at any park is the same) is a place where your recessionary evoked inhibitions dissolve and your joy for life is energised.

The customer experience is driven by satisfaction and fulfilment. Forget removing friction from the buying process. Forget price pointing. Forget competitiveness. This place proves when you think customer and act for the customer all other strategies are unnecessary. Delivered in a consistent fashion from the valet to the man at the top when he joins you for breakfast.

For brand and proposition specialists like Lexden, this magical kingdom is a reminder of what can be achieved when you choose to look at the opportunity from a customer’s perspective. And contains a bounty of ideas on how to keep customers coming back for more, happily ever after.

Posted by Christopher Brooks.

Lexden is a marketing strategy agency which creates unordinary propositions to motivate customers and deliver commercial advantage for brands.

For more information on how we can help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or ajairanawat@lexdengroup.com, or call us on T: +44 (0)20 7490 9123.  And you can follow us on Twitter @consultingchris & @consultingajai.