Right now is the time to re-evaluate your marketing in terms of the new
expectations your customers have developed in the past 6 months. What new
insights are they providing regarding what they want—or do not want—from your
customer experience, communications and company
interactions? Here are 3 key questions to ask right now. The answers
will ensure that you take the smart actions for success in 2015.
1. Are You Ignoring Key Customer Segments?
could be missing out on new business because of perceived brand positioning.
Take stock at year-end to audit your overall brand message and determine whether
it is moving you toward your full potential--or limiting your growth.
Case in point: Buffalo Wings & Rings, a chain of 55-plus sports
restaurants in the U.S. and abroad, has spent the past couple of years refining
its image and brand appeal to women and families in order to reach a larger
universe of customers.
As part of that effort, the brand embarked on a
total redesign of its locations. Specific changes included soundproofing the
restaurant area to reduce noise from the bar, where sports events are broadcast;
adding cushions to seats and benches for more comfort; and relocating games for
children away from the front door and the bar area.
In addition, Buffalo
Wings revamped it Web site to give customers the ability to interact, get
information, and become part of a community. "We wanted to create a new
experience for the sports and wings category... Your brand is created by
customers and how they use you," said Buffalo Wings chief executive Nader Masadeh. Added Diane Matheson, director of marketing,
"[We] wanted to refine the brand and strengthen the concept with a distinct
point of view." Results: This year sales have
grown 12.5 percent to $72 million. Next year, the company plans to add up to
eight new stores in the U.S. and 10 overseas.
2. Are You Communicating Effectively?
types of customers have different preferences for communication. Just because
you have a communication method available does not mean it’s the best option for
your core customers. So pause now to challenge your assumptions regarding
content, clarity of communications, sales channels, and preferred customer
media. This will provide insights regarding key improvements for
Also, consider: Per Voice of Customer research conducted by our firm for client
MassMutual, the majority of customers indicated that they want proactive and
customized communications that are personalized by their needs and life
point: Multibillion-dollar telecom service provider CenturyLink needed to understand why its call centers were
receiving such a high call volume. It discovered that its own processes required
customers to call multiple times to establish or modify service. To solve this
pain point, CenturyLink revamped its processes. It also developed a new system,
called Digital Dialogue, to integrate more than 35 disparate systems from
multiple communication channels, and transformed the CenturyLink Web site into a
seamless self-service experience.
“We’re trying to give customers better
information. ... If we can give customers information before they have to ask
for it, they feel that we’re having intelligent dialogue with them, and that
we’re on top of things,” noted Lindsey Pardun, IT principal architect at CenturyLink. “And if
we do need to talk to them, we can have a much more efficient
Results: In the first two months after the launch of
Digital Dialogue, 187,000 calls were automatically routed to the right
You Have An Effective Retention Strategy?
A recent Retention Science study noted that only 23% of marketers track
the rate at which customers churn, less than 40% track customer lifetime value,
and, not surprisingly, 70% believe their retention marketing efforts are
average, poor, or need improvement. In dollars and cents, an Adobe study found that online retailers would double their
revenues if they retained 10% of their existing customers. Instead, 80% of
marketers were using their digital marketing budgets to acquire new
Case in point: Groupon realized that its initial business model of daily
deals and a bombardment of email with heavy discounts did not turn out to be a
sound strategy. To better retain customers and give them a reason to come
back, the company had to rethink its relationship with both its business
partners and end-user consumers.
Groupon is now focusing on its online
marketplace, reducing reliance on email, and improving relevance. It encourages
subscribers to search for deals and explore its marketplace (a pull strategy)
instead of relying on email (push strategy).
The company is also creating
a tablet-based operating system for merchants called Gnome, which empowers it to
improve customer retention by better managing transactions, keeping track of
customers to launch specific marketing campaigns, and simplifying the whole
process of redemptions.
While the company is not out of the woods yet,
its efforts are paying off. Groupon saw 23% revenue growth to $751.6 million in Q2 2014, with a 29%
rise in global gross billings. The total active customer count rose by 25%
year-on-year during the quarter, with North American customer count rising by
18%. The North American transactions percentage resulting from search was
24% in the third quarter, compared to 9% in the same quarter last
TakeawaysThe needs and expectations of your customers
are changing with astonishing velocity. Now is the time to:
- Investigate where your missing opportunities are hiding, and develop new strategies and methods of presenting your company to new customers.
- Understand whether your communication avenues are effective and make necessary changes to embrace customer needs and resolve pain points.
- Strengthen your customer-acquisition plan. Don't rely solely on recruiting new business.
Use these final few weeks of the year to reflect on
how much you don't know about customers’ evolving needs and what you must change
to maintain relevance and competitive differentiation. Use multiple methods to
learn from the voice of your customer and then act on those insights. The wisdom
of the customer is unfailingly correct.
About the Author:
Ernan Roman Direct Marketing's Customer Experience strategies achieve consistent double-digit increases in response and revenue for their clients, which include IBM, MassMutual, QVC, Microsoft, and Symantec Corp.
As a leader in providing Voice of Customer research-based guidance, ERDM has conducted over 10,000 hours of interviews with their clients' customers and prospects, to gain an in-depth understanding of their expectations for high-value relationships.
The results achieved by ERDM's VoC-based strategies earned Ernan Roman induction into the Marketing Hall of Fame.
Visit his blog at: http://ernanroman.blogspot.com/
Labels: adobe, buffalo wings, CenturyLink, customer segments, Ernan Roman, Groupon, MassMutual, VOC