Want to Grow Your Customer Intuition? Become A Customer Evangelist

The role in today's organizations most suited to developing great customer intuition and insight is increasingly the customer evangelist. The person designated to be the customer liaison, the face and voice of the company or product. The customer evangelist is the person(s) in your organization that advocates for the interests of your customers and the person with the most insight and intuition into the needs and wants of your customers.

The Church of the Customer Blog highlights great tips for being a Chief Evangelist:

Betsy Weber, the chief evangelist for software toolmaker TechSmith, has five solid tips for being an official company evangelist and helping create other evangelists just like yourself.

1. Be a power listener.
Listen as much as you talk (if not more). Then, bring those conversations with customers into your company so the user's voice is heard. Keep the conversations going. Relate the feedback you hear to product teams, be the voice of the customer, and fight for what they want at your company.

2. Get out of the marketing department.
This isn't a marketing job. This isn't to create sales. It's about customer care and customer relationships. Dump the marketing lingo. Be transparent, open and honest. You have to be an extrovert and people person. It's almost a way of life -- you're either suited for it or you're not.

3. Get your whole company onboard.
It takes more than a Chief Evangelist to create customer evangelists. Every area that the customers interact with must be on board with creating customer evangelists. If one department fails to give outstanding service or gives the customer a negative experience the whole company is affected.

4. Open the front door and be accessible.
Give out your direct phone number and real email address. If you hide behind voicemail and an email alias you might miss a great opportunity. Give VIP tours and arrange for customer meet-ups. Customers will appreciate it and it can be a competitive advantage.

5. Have passion.
You must love and believe in the products, and you have to be passionate about the people who use them. If you won't, who will?


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June 4, 2006 in award winning newsletter, Award winning publications, Blog Outsourcing, blog publish, Brand enhancement, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Business Marketing, CMO | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Tom Peters' Blog on Defining Customers

Steve Yastrow over at tompeters.com has a simple definition of a customer:

Anyone whose actions affect your results.

Simple, succinct and broadly applicable. If we're talking about developing customer intuition and using tools to learn more about the background and happenings of our customers we better have a good definition. What do you think? Is this a good definition? Anything to add?

tompeters.com: Refine to Simplicity be sure to read the comments. Good stuff their too.

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March 10, 2006 in award winning magazine, award winning newsletter, Blog Outsourcing, Brand enhancement, build credibility, Building Customer Community, Business newsletter, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Put These Entrepreneurial Proverbs on Your Radar

Screenshot 03-1Over at O'Reilly Radar as opposed to Radar O'Reilly, there's a great list of “Entrepreneurial Proverbs” that are intended for engineer types who want to start their own companies. Great bit size chunks for those looking to start a company or just wanting to shape some advice for someone who is.

Cool ideas are useless without great needs -- this is the classic engineers' entrepreneurial mistake (or at least I'd like to think so, since I've made it). Techies love tech, and a new technology can produce a lot of companies that don't really meet a need. Better to start with the need, and then see how what you know can produce a better answer to that need. (Marketers tend to have the opposite problem: real, pressing needs with completely unworkable solutions.)
Build the simplest thing possible -- engineers have the hardest time with this, with not overdesigning for the need they're addressing. Make the simplest possible product that makes a significant dent in that need, and you'll do far better than you would addressing two or three needs at once. Simplicity leads to clarity in everything you do.
Solve problems, not potential problems -- you can waste a lot of money implementing solutions for problems you don't have yet, and may never have. Work on the biggest, most pressing problems today, and put aside everything else.
Test everything with real people -- it's unbelievable how helpful this is. Go find civilians, real people who use computers because they have to and not because they love to. Find them in Starbucks, or at the library, or in a college computer lab. Give them $20 for 20 minutes, and you'll be paid back a hundred times over.

Read the rest of the list.

O'Reilly Radar: “Entrepreneurial Proverbs”

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March 9, 2006 in award winning newsletter, blog publish, Brand enhancement, Building Customer Community, Business newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Boing Boing Reports on Two Disconnects Between Operations and the Customer Experience

Today Boing Boing reports on two stories that illustrate disconnects between operations departments and the revenue generating mission of an organization.

First it's airports. Cory Doctorow posts a report that airports are covering power outlets to deny power to travelers looking to recharge their laptops and cellphones. Many of these same airports sell access to WiFi internet access. Who can buy and use WiFi if their laptop batteries are depleted? This sounds like a disconnect between operations looking to curb electricity use and management that wants to generate more revenue and enhance travel customer experience.

Cory also points to a post on the Re-Imaginering blog that discusses maintenance problems at Walt Disney theme parks. Apparently, the operations budget is so tight that animatronics are deactivated instead of repaired, figures are repositioned to avoid excessive wear on costumes and entire new attractions are actively opposed by operations because they don't have the budget to maintain them. Again a disconnect between operations and the customer experience. Raving fans who are more than willing to evangelize the theme parks are noticing and the web is spreading the word.

How about your organization? Are you aware of any disconnects that are negatively effecting your customer experience? Maybe it's as simple as that incredibly cheap paper in your laser printer. That cheap stuff will save dome pennies but the client frowns at that cheap stuff their expensive reports and studies are printed on.

Where do you see disconnects that are sending mixed messages about your business to your customers? Is it time to realign your budgets and priorities?

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February 28, 2006 in award winning newsletter, Blog Outsourcing, blog publish, Brand enhancement, Business Marketing, Business newsletter, CMO, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Annoyed, Annoying or Glad to See You!

What's the most annoying thing you do? Not what annoys you the most but what you do that annoys others. Hard to know unless you are a mind reader. One way you can know some of what others might find annoying about you is to examine the behaviors of others that you find annoying and see if you do those same things. Do your coworkers constantly interrupt you? Ever want to strangle someone talking too loud on their mobile phone? Do you find yourself avoiding calls from chatty sales people? What about you? Do you interrupt your coworkers who are busy? Do you sometimes talk loudly on your cellphone? Do you chat too much with your busy sales leads? Many times with great self importance we are quick to excuse ourselves from behavior that we find annoying in others. “It was really important” “I just don't get good reception on the train.” “I'm just trying to build a relationship.” Reasonable, justification or excuse?

It's time to be more intuitive, to read people better and to understand what habits and work practices you can adjust this year that will enhance your ability to connect, collaborate and grow your working relationships with coworkers and customers.

Start this week and keep a list of annoyances that come into you day. Next week put those on your “Not ToDo” list. New Year, new habits, new style.....new level!

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January 9, 2006 in award winning newsletter, Blog Outsourcing, Brand enhancement, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Luxury Hotels Using Technology to be Intuitive about Their Customers

Preferences it's all about knowing and adjusting to the preferences of their guests.

When regulars like Laurence Wiener check into the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York, they get more than a smile from the concierge and a mint on their pillow. Wiener's hotel room “knows” exactly how warm. It welcomes him with a personal message on his television. It even loads his most frequently dialed numbers onto the phone.

And the bellhop did not have to do a thing.

At the Mandarin and other high-end hotels, new computer systems which connect individual rooms to network servers can now keep track of guests' preferences and change the room conditions automatically.

These “smart” systems can learn whether a frequent guest likes the lights dimmed, the curtains closed or the room toasty warm. They can also personalize the electronics in the room so that the music of John Coltrane, for instance, greets jazz buffs when they enter their rooms. Meanwhile, sensors in refrigerators alert maids when the minibar is running low on Coca-Cola.

In the old days hotels relied on their staff to remember and make these adjustments to their customers experiences. People are a critical aspect of these smart hotels:

Smart networks rely largely on a user's preferences that hotels gather in various ways. Some guests, for example, fill out questionnaires before they arrive. At the Mandarin, housekeepers, bellboys and waiters took note of Wiener's preferences and updated the digital profile that the hotel keeps for each customer. Wiener, an anesthesiologist from Philadelphia, has stayed at the Mandarin 45 times the past two years when he was supervising the construction of his apartment in New York.

Trusted relationships are at the core here. Guests/customers need to trust a hotel to accept and benefit from these personalization systems. If you believe the motives of a hotel are to truly serve you better you are more willing to be open about personal preferences and information. If customers are concerned about the use of that information all the tech in the world will only scare off customers.

How is your business balancing the need to respond to customer preferences and assure them you can be trusted knowing their birthday and all that can be intuited from their purchase history.

International Herald Tribune: In 'smart' hotel rooms everything is just right

Hotel Forcasts the Weather
Find What Touches Customers

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November 17, 2005 in award winning newsletter, Blog Outsourcing, blog publish, Brand enhancement, build credibility, Business newsletter, Travel, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Customer Intuition Failure: ATM Machines

AtmWhy is it that the bank that sends me statements in English asks me everytime I use an ATM machine if I feel like giving it a go in Spanish? Guess what bank? I'm going to select English every time.

Wouldn't it be better if you could just select a prefered language and have it programmed on your ATM card so the machine never had to ask you again?

As more and more self serve kiosks and automated systems take over the customer interactions there needs to be a common sense approach to their interface design. Just as people need to be intuitive about their customers so to the machines.

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November 6, 2005 in Blog Outsourcing, blog publish, Brand enhancement, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Business Marketing, Business newsletter, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Audio Comments for Newsletters

How are you incorporating the omnipresent cell phone into your business? While many look to legislate against what they perceive to be rude behavior with cell phones the fact remains that they are a fact of life. Those businesses that can most effectively leverage their use will win. I've posted before about customer service and the frustration that customers have when seeking to solve a problem but their definitely is a role for automated telephone systems designed to take advantage of the fact that more and more people have a cellphone with them 24/7.

Outbound calls and marketing text messages are still hugely controversial but what about inbound calls and messages? Can marketing encourage calls for additional information, voicemail comments, polls and surveys, contests, sign-ups, etc.

I think there is a real difference when expectations are set up-front. When callers are informed upfront that they're calling an automated system they aren't frustrated by the inability to reach a human CSR.

Give it a try. In your next email newsletter try requesting specific audio comments to a voicemail box or answering machine. Some recipients won't take time to write out an email comment but they just might give you three or four minutes of valuable feedback by voicemail.

Polite is a Moving Target
Thinking About Customer Service

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October 24, 2005 in award winning newsletter, Blog Outsourcing, blog publish, Blogs, Brand enhancement, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, bulk email marketing, Business Marketing, Business newsletter, Business publications, Business relationships, CMO, company blog, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What XM Satellite Radio Should Be Doing at the World Series

On the heals of my post yesterday about Story-crafting I can't resist commenting on XM Satellite Radio's plans to market to baseball fans by passing out coupons good for their portable receivers to all 40,000+ ticket holders to game one of the World Series in Chicago on Saturday.

This is old school marketing where the marketer tells the story and the consumer has to listen and respond in the narrow way as prescribed by the marketer. In fact fans who received the coupons have to buy at least three months of the $12.95/month service to get their radio. Way to build a nice barrier to entry XM. It's passive buy before you try marketing.

What XM Should Do

It's all about sampling the content not the hardware. By simply giving out coupons they don't allow potential customers to do either.

XM should:
-Develop special one station receivers to give to every fan on the way into the game.
-Partner with MLB and Fox to provide the best content possible.
-Do pre game and post game programming to cross promote XM content.
-Produce the game coverage with as much listener participation as possible. Use fan interviews, call-ins, contests, trivia quizzes, etc.
-Allow fans to trade in their receivers for discount coupons good for discounts on hardware and service.
-Consider broadcasting to those receivers that aren't turned in for a week following the game as further promotion of XM content.

A freebie that's got a hidden cost to it is doomed. You're bait and switching potential customers. Those prospects will feel cheated before they even hear the content. Pay per use media needs to be all about sampling. You don't buy a car without test driving it. You don't buy concert tickets to bands you've never heard before. What makes them think people will sign-up for audio content they have never heard before?

A single use sampling of the experience provides true motivation to buy. If customers feel that they can participate in the creation of the consuming experience they will take ownership and passionately evangelize the product, service or experience.

Bask in headlines like these, XM, because that's all you're likely to get out of this promotion.

Satellite Radio Outfit Outfits Baseball Fans

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October 20, 2005 in audio publication, Award winning publications, Brand enhancement, Current Affairs, Sports, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Storytelling vs. Story-crafting

These days marketing is all about the story. It's the story of the idea that lead to the creation of your business, the history of your company, the creative uses of your product, the experience of your service, the transformation that results from your experience. Whatever it is, it's all about the story and thus the storytelling. The storytelling techniques and venues are constantly changing. Just as mass communication grew through newspapers to radio to television the new media is evolving communication and storytelling. Electronics and internet connectivity are changing the game from mass communication and storytelling to individual communication and story-crafting.

Story-crafting is different than storytelling because the listener takes an active participatory role in how they consume the story. User generated content builds on the base framework created by marketers to create new narratives that are much more powerful and relevant to consumers. A forum or blog comment section that collects customer experiences, tips, recommendations, reviews, suggestions etc. is much more relevant to consumers than traditional marketing speak generated by the in-house copy writers. Trust has shifted. Consumers believe their fellow consumers perhaps more so than the company line.

Today customers or fans self organize into different levels of loyalty and devotion to your product, service or experience. In so doing they seek out different levels of connection to your brand. Some just buy your product, some refer you to friends and colleagues, some subscribe to your email newsletter, still others read and subscribe to your blog, a few subscribe to your podcast and somewhere out there somebody wants to tatoo your logo on their body. There's a hierarchy of brand loyalty and devotion. The examples are obvious and oft written about. Apple, Microsoft, Volkswagen, Disney, Harley-Davidson, Tom Peters, Starbucks, etc.

What's needed today is a comprehensive integrated approach to the use of the new tools and communication channels available to today's marketer. The tools keep coming. It's too easy to just grow haphazardly from email newsletters to blogs/RSS to audio podcasting to video pocasting with wikis, forums, chat rooms thrown in along the way. We're seeing some dazzling failures along the way as companies attempt to use these tools without understanding how best to integrate them into an overarching story-crafting strategy.

Today's marketers need to understand new media tools and just how they can and should be used to allow customers and prospects to enter into a participatory relationship with your brand that allows them to connect at a variety of levels with your ongoing stories. Not everyone will utilize all of your communication channels but their needs to be a strategy so that all the elements move the story forward and don't frustrate customers by simply duplicating messages across different media.

That's why it pays to consider outsourcing your customer communication like email newsletters and blogs to a company like BeTuitive Marketing, LLC because we bring a lot of experience and understanding of these new media tools and can help you craft overall strategies for building your relationships and sales with your existing and prospective customers.

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October 19, 2005 in audio publication, award winning blog, award winning magazine, award winning newsletter, Award winning publications, Blog Outsourcing, blog publish, Blogging Tools, Blogs, Brand enhancement, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, bulk email marketing, Business editorial, business magazine, Business Marketing, Business newsletter, Business publications, Business relationships, CMO, company blog, Television, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack