Tag Archives: research

What will the 2017 Voice of the Customer priorities be?

Voice of the Customer (VoC) has emerged as one of the most invaluable tools for companies to prioritise investment, remove inefficiency and create a differentiating experience for their customers.

Commissions from clients, have meant we at Lexden have had the opportunity to review the most worthy customer feedback platforms and support set-ups available. We often find from the dozens available on a few truly meet the clients spec, and then when you add in key ‘soft’ criteria such as working style and sector understanding one or emerge.

It has helped us advise clients on which platform will give them the results they need to drive CX forward in the business. A poor VoC set up can suffocate CX potential in an organisation

It has also led us to creating Client Only VoC discussion groups, where VoC and CX managers meet and discuss their challenges, their vendors and drive out solutions amongst themselves. The non-compete, free gathering has proven useful to those with established programmes to understand the value of new techniques and technology as well as to those starting out to understanding how to avoid the pitfalls.

We have are not aligned to any tech vendor, so can objectively facilitate the group to ensure all benefit. One of the discussion areas is the future of VoC, so we have pulled together a questionnaire to get a view on what VoC practitioners believe 2017 priorities will be.

If you manage or play an active role in customer feedback in your organisation (clients only), please can you contribute your opinions to the 4 question survey below.

Results will be published as an anonymous representation of VoC practitioners in an article The Customer Experience Magazine in January 2017. Once you’ve completed the survey, if you would like results sooner, please email on christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Customer Experience Consultant, Lexden

Lexden helps deliver effective customer experience strategy and solutions for clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience.

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

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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.

Which customer contact matters the most?

We have started to gather opinions from those who readers our content. Previously we asked, ‘In your opinion, when it comes to a customer experience strategy, which activity will have the biggest impact on ensuring success.’ With the stand out answer being ‘complete several stand out signature experience improvements’ followed by ‘establish a customer culture’, over options such as ‘fix what’s broken’and ‘segment based experience’.

We are now looking to identify which contact with the customer matters the most. When we say matter, we mean which comms have the greatest impact on customer satisfaction, NPS or Effort scores. When we complete customer strategy work with clients we are exposed to some customer interactions which create such a negative impact with the customer, it’s hard for that business to regain the trust that they will need for a long-lasting and mutually valuable relationship. Over time, working on multiple projects, we have started to understand where ‘to fish’ first for the biggest improvement.

We’d like to hear you views on this topic. We’ve picked a handful of the comms that typically come up for review or debate during a customer experience programme. Please indicate which five contact points you think have the biggest impact. If there are other contact points you’d like to add, please complete in the other/comments box.

We will be publishing the results in our July newsletter and on the lexdengroup.wordpress.com blog following that. You can sign up to our newsletter below.

Thanks for your participation. 

Posted by Christopher Brooks

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency. We put customers at the start and the heart of the business 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 sign-up to our ‘Putting Customers First’ Lexden newsletter.

For more information about how we can help you take your customer strategy forward please contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 316548. You can follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter @consultingchris.

When it comes to success in customer experience, what makes the difference?

chart

At Lexden we are specialist in all things customer strategy; customer insight, customer experience and customer propositions.

For our next ‘Customer First’ newsletter we would like to find out what you think is most important when it comes to building a winning Customer Experience Strategy.

We’d really appreciate your views. Please take the time to complete the short poll. If you subscribe to our newsletter we will forward you a copy of the complete results along with a new release, ‘Lexden’s Guide to Building a Successful Customer Experience Programme’.

Posted by Christopher Brooks

At Lexden we work with clients to help their brands attract and retain customers. We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, build memorable customer experience strategies and create engaging value propositions.

Don’t forget to view our new Lexden Newsletter Putting Customers First

For more information about how we can help your customer strategy please contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com, or call us on M +44 (0) 7968 316548. You can follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter @consultingchris .

Unordinary Thinking No. 29 – What the data didn’t tell them

When it comes to understanding what customers want, most organisations defer to the data.  Maybe it’s because there is simply so much of it.  Maybe it’s because it is relatively easy to analyse it and establish patterns.  Maybe it’s because, increasingly, there is so much user generated data about customers themselves that we think sheer volume must be able to tell us the answers.

If only.  The fact is that customer behaviour is nuanced and complex and people make decisions for a myriad of different reasons which cannot be fathomed from a spreadsheet. It is wishful thinking to believe that by simply looking at data we can clearly understand how and why customers behave as they do.  Yes, data can give us patterns and trends and tell us the broad areas to focus on, but it often struggles to provide the granularity which marketers require to develop their solutions.

The best, most customer centric, organisations know this.  At Lexden we have seen Tesco, who have arguably the best customer database in the world and where understanding customers is part of the DNA, complement their gigantic amounts of transactional data with sophisticated qualitative insight to build a more complete picture of their customer segments.

We have to accept that data is only a part of the story of what motivates customers.  It cannot explain everything.  It should not exist in a vacuum and it must be contextualised to make sure that what is being inferred from it is, in fact, correct.  In essence, it requires humanising-the data needs to be put into the real lives, real homes and real conversations of people.  When you do this, you can start generating the type of energizing insights which can lead to more compelling products and more engaging conversations with customers.  And it takes you to some different places, as the following superbly demonstrates.

Continuum is a US design and innovation consultancy, who inherently understands what data can and cannot do.  They know that it is only by really understanding what makes people tick that breakthrough customer insights can be generated.  And from there, products and services which improve people’s lives can be developed.  Below is an anecdote about their engagement with a client in Brazil to develop products for their customer base at the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum.

When they looked at the data: who the customers were, family composition, average incomes and the like, a picture of the potential audience started to emerge.  They then complemented this view with more data about what these customers were doing: for instance, where they were spending their money and what types of existing product they were buying.  They focused on one particular piece of data-these customers were increasingly buying televisions, which historically had not been the case.

But Continuum knew that the data was not telling them the full story.  They knew that, in order to develop engaging products for this group, they had to understand more about the core motivations of these people.  They had to understand about their deeper needs and what truly motivated them.

They knew a lot about these customers but recognised that they did not know these customers.  They knew who they were and what they did but not why they did what they did.  At this point, they understood their customers as excel spreadsheets, pie charts and data points.  They did not understand the customers as people and individuals making (not always rational) decisions in a particular emotional, social and cultural context.

Now, in the absence of attempting to answer the ‘why’, conventional thinking about the data might have led to an obvious, logical next step.  There is a plethora of information and articles describing the increased purchasing power of historically lower income city dwellers in all emerging markets.  Conventional thinking goes that as they have been able to secure better paid jobs, they have started to spend their additional disposable income on more aspirational items like televisions and other technology.  These items are status symbols and a sign of material progression in their lives.  Based on this insight, we can probably all think of the specific marketing and product development activity which could be developed on the back of this insight.

But they did not do this.  Instead they chose to focus on really understanding the ‘why’.  Via direct observation and conversation with these people in their homes, they got to the real motivations of why they were purchasing TVs.  And here’s the thing-it was nothing to do with demonstrating increasing wealth and something to show their neighbours.  It was something deeper and something we can all empathize with, even if we have never set foot in a Brazilian favela.  The neighbourhoods where these people live have high levels of crime and high levels of violence.  Far from a status symbol, parents were buying TVs to protect their children.  If their home, via television, could become a more attractive and entertaining place, then the kids would be less likely to become bored and venture onto the dangerous streets.  Gilt edged customer insight.

The rest was then straightforward.  With this understanding of parents’ deeper motivations, the obvious thing for the client was to reimagine its product away from the parent and design it more to provide engagement with children, with the subsequent positive commercial results.

Data is often described as being king and, indeed, it should be respected.  But it is never God.

 

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency | Putting your customers at the heart of the decision

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 316548. You can also follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter.

Should have been a shoe in

It’s staggering how often we, as human beings and customers, do things and make decisions which do not seem to make sense yet, at a deeper more emotional level, just feel right to us.  Consider what I did yesterday.

At lunchtime I was walking down the road when I passed a well known, reasonably up market shoe shop chain.  I have needed a new pair of shoes for ages now but, being a bit fussy, I had not yet found the style and brand I wanted.  I really like my current pair but they are close to falling apart so it is getting about as urgent as buying shoes can ever be.

It was a bit of a scrum in the shop since they are in the middle of one of their seemingly quite regular sales.  However I saw a pair of Merrells that were pretty much what I have been after, albeit at full price.

When the pleasant, highly competent member of staff returned, however, she informed me that they did not have the size 8 which I required.  Disappointing.  “Not a problem though, sir.  We can order a pair in for you and if you don’t want them, you don’t have to buy them.”  Not ideal but, given how long I had been looking, perfectly acceptable.  She returned with a form to write my details on and said that the shoes should be in store in the following week.  We filled it out.

All good.  But then a surprise- she asked me for £20 as a deposit to make the order.  Her colleague chimed in with “it’s so we know you will come back for them”.

Hmm.  I told her I did not see why I needed to give the £20 at this point.  She said that was the only basis they could order it in and there was no way round it.  Before I knew it, I had smiled and walked out.  Despite the fact that I have been looking for that type of shoe for a couple of months.  Despite the fact that they could have sourced them for me within 7 days.  Despite the fact that I am still without a pair of shoes that I want to buy.  I still walked out.

As Star Trek’s Dr Spock would say to Kirk:  “Illogical, Captain”.

I have been giving it some thought.  What caused me to happily behave in this apparently irrational manner and for the retailer to lose a sale?  Because that is the commercial impact of what happened.  On reflection, I think there are two reasons:

  1. When they asked for £20, it took me completely by surprise.  Because they did not have my size, I had mentally attuned myself to the fact that I would be walking out of the door without a new pair of shoes and without having paid any money.  So when they asked for money, it threw me.  They had put up an obstacle to purchase-the opposite of the type of ‘nudge’ described in Thaler and Sunstein’s book which can influence our behaviours.  It gave me a reason to say no and back out.
  2. When they said ‘it’s so we know you will come back for them’ it annoyed me.   I felt that they had questioned my integrity and I really did not like it at quite a deep level.   I felt (as opposed to thought) offended that they were not taking the fact that I was in store, trying to buy their shoes, as commitment enough that I would come back the next week to buy them.  In myself, I know that paying over £20 would not make me more or less likely to come back later.

I think it is this second point which was the key driver for my behaviour.

Rationally, everything said to pay the £20, go back the following week, pick up the shoes and start using them.  But my own deeper feelings which surfaced via the comment overwhelmingly trumped rationality and I walked out.

And what of the commercial impact?  In amongst the heavy discounting of their sale, the shop lost a full price purchase because of something they did which made me feel not quite right.  I doubt whether the £20 they wanted is in any way material to them in terms of cashflow or paying suppliers.  And even if I did not come back, it feels that having a pair of size 8s in one of their regular product lines is pretty much business as usual for a shoe shop.  It is simply an internal process which has had an impact on one of their potential customers. I am not saying that the assistant could have known how I would react (I am not sure I did), nor that everyone would have reacted as I did.  I am just saying that their process directly contributed to a lost sale which was surely not their intention.

This kind of thing happens all the time.  Businesses put in processes, talk to customers in certain ways and offer products and services which people either do not connect with or, as in this case, actively push them away.  Sadly, it happens mainly because businesses just look at what is best for themselves rather than their customers.  But it also happens when businesses only look at a consumer’s rational motivations.  It happens when they fail to understand what is really driving the customer’s decision making, what it is that makes them tick and what type of activity will drive through into their hearts as opposed to their minds.

People simply do not make decisions on a purely rational basis.  In fact, people mostly make their decisions on a subconscious, emotional level.  There is a wealth of scientific evidence, thinking and cutting edge research techniques such as the Harvard originated ZMET, which we have used at Lexden, which helps businesses understand, at a deep level, why we all make the decisions we do.  This is where more of our customer research efforts need to focus if we want to develop products and services which will actually resonate with consumers.

In the meantime, sadly, I’ll be going out this lunchtime to look for those shoes.  But if feels right.

 

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 call us on T: +44 (0) 9768 316548.  And you can follow us on Facebook LinkedIn, or 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.