The “Internet of Things” (IoT) is being heralded as the new frontier for potential product and service differentiation as companies rush to connect smart and dumb devices to the Internet. Everything from machinery to appliances, and even our bodies, is being connected to the network. The size of this opportunity should not be underestimated, concludes a McKinsey & Co. article (here).
It’s been more than 50 years since marketing thought began to shift toward what became known as the marketing concept—an attempt to focus the firm on customers. Yet, in practice, the customer centricity that the marketing concept produces is still highly firm-centric, usually concerned with trying to sell customers more of what the firm produces.
The problem with customer centricity at most companies is that it is grounded in an old enterprise or manufacturing pattern of thought—what has been referred to as a goods-dominant logic. This outdated logic regards what the firm produces as the proper focal point for creating value.
I am currently working on two projects in which ‘experience’ features prominently. In one case, I am working with an MBA program to create a new educational experience. In the other, I am working with an action sports manufacturer to define a new recreational experience. In both cases, my client is looking for more than simply improving the customer or service experience. Rather, they are looking at the experience as the offering and their products and services as “props” to satisfying customer needs. Read more
Companies today spend a huge amount of time, money, and human resources trying to learn about customer needs. They don’t do this for laughs; smart companies do it because they are looking for ways to grow their business. But different types of growth require different inputs from customers; if you don’t know that up front, your efforts can fail at providing meaningful insights.
In this blog, I’d like to briefly overview the four different ways a service business can grow and the types of customer needs that can and should inform each. Read more
I like my BMW dealer. In fact, I’ve blogged about its exceptional service before. But a recent experience reinforces the importance of minding service basics if one hopes to consistently excel at customer service.
I took my car to the dealership to repair a modest dent in the front fender. Upon arriving at the body shop, it was very confusing who I should talk to. In fact, I found several staff averting their eyes to avoid having to help me. To make matters worse, the customer service area had groups of people huddled into cramped offices and looking all too busy to help (at least that is the vibe). Strike one. Read more
If I were to ask you to name a company that consistently excels at customer service, what company would come to mind? In you are part of a military family, you might say USAA. If you live in the Southeast, you might tell me about Publix Supermarkets. If you are a golf aficionado, you might share your Masters experience with me. And, if you are passionate about shoes, you might mention either Nordstrom or Zappos. No doubt, others among you would name companies such as Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Chik-fil-A, Apple Stores, Disney, and Mayo Clinic. Read more
As a former professor, I am acutely aware of how deficient most models of B2B loyalty are. In fact, if you look at most textbooks on B2B marketing, you will find nary a mention of customer needs except for discussion of how one business prefers to interact with another business. It is as though businesses, unlike consumers it would seem, buy products and services from other businesses just because they want to have a good relationship or interaction with them, not because they have actual needs they are seeking to satisfy. Nothing is further from the truth. Read more
Learn how MOO.com, an online printer, is using service as a key market differentiator as they try to become the “best printer” on the internet. Listen to Dan Moross, the head of customer service, as he describes some of the unique operating practices that separate MOO from the competition. There are no customer service scripts or call timers at MOO, just a bunch of real people solving customer issues and striving to surprise customers with exceptional service.
The Net Promoter Score (NPS) has taken root in the psyche of corporate America and has proliferated at a pretty fast rate.[i] Companies gravitate toward its simplicity and ease of implementation. Ask your customers the likelihood they would recommend your company, follow that up with a few open-ended questions to understand their ratings, do some simple calculations across customers and presto – you’re done… (or so it would seem). Read more
Something caught my attention in the results of two automotive service studies we just completed. It was the substantial impact of perceived extra effort in the service process on customer satisfaction & loyalty. In a study on getting a vehicle serviced, whether the service center “went the extra mile” was the third most important driver of customer satisfaction and loyalty – out of more than 60 specific needs, mind you.
There is a very troubling trend in how companies handle the measurement of their customer experience. The unsettling practice is that companies instruct their customers on how to rate them after a service transaction. Has this happened to you? How does it make you feel when they ask? Do you think it is a reasonable request? I do not!
When an executive of a Fortune 100 company recently sought my advice on how to make an impact on his business, I told him that he should become an advocate for small service innovations – what I refer to as “innovating the gaps.” Though this executive has made some strides in his five years of trying to shape and change how his company thinks about its markets, he is not having an impact nearly as fast as he would like. This is the paradox of an overemphasis on the next big idea as the primary means of growing a business. By their nature, these types of innovations take…
I have been fortunate to attend The Masters golf tournament the past two years. In my inaugural visit last year, I was overwhelmed by the customer experience. This year, I was profoundly impressed because a truly great customer experience requires doing so many things well.
Listen to this thought provoking interview with Joe Schmidt, Chief Marketing Officer of Café Press, and hear about one of his core tenets of serving customers. He calls it “Find your Meghan”. He shares a compelling customer story that changed the trajectory of how his company, Canvas on Demand, served customers and became a guiding principle for helping them grow the business – which ultimately led to their company being purchased by Café Press.
The optimal service experience delivers not only on functional customer needs such as getting things done quickly and without errors, but also on their emotional needs such as feeling confident and in control. The challenge, of course, lies in understanding which emotions are significant to customers and designing services that deliver against these emotional needs.