Also of note, Boujarwah was the first Kuwaiti woman to graduate from Harvard Business School; she also holds a BS, in economics from the University of Pennsylvania.
Boujarwah recently participated in our "4 Questions for Marketing Innovators" series.
1. What is one marketing topic that is most important to you as an innovator?
I'm obsessed with the importance of a strong brand promise. Before setting any marketing strategy, you must have a crystal-clear articulation of your commitment to the customer—and I highly recommend putting it in writing. At Dia&Co, ours is: "We promise to understand her better than anyone else will. We put her first, always."
By codifying your commitment, you not only clarify the most foundational elements of your strategy for yourself, you also clarify it for your team. Put your brand promise at the end of every internal email. Put it on a sticky note on your laptop. Put it on your office walls. At the end of the day, upholding the brand promise is each employee's most important job responsibility, and teams become much more aligned when that's made explicitly clear.
Moreover, in my experience, teams also become more invested when they know that they're part of a collective promise to the customer. It creates a powerful bond and a true sense of accountability. It becomes a part of the culture. "Earn the trust you are given" is one of our core values at Dia&Co—and it’s one that was suggested by our employees.
This core value has also become an intrinsic part of our hiring process. The one non-negotiable trait that all prospective employees must have is a commitment to our customer. We screen for that qualification explicitly; it's built into our interview rubrics. Protecting and nurturing that internal culture is an imperative.
2. Why is this so important?
Our goal is to be the beloved brand in the lives of our customers. In a world with more and more options, only a singular focus on her makes this possible.
You earn loyalty from a customer the same way you earn loyalty from a friend: by building trust. To build trust with your customer, you must understand her better than anyone else will, you must clearly communicate the value that you will bring to her, and you must consistently exceed her expectations.
3. How can this improve the customer experience?
The process of defining your brand promise requires you to go beyond the data and to connect with your customer on a human level. I believe it's critical for any B2C business to stay focused on the human need they serve. What sometimes gets lost in personalization is the person. It's important to remember your customers are humans, driven by deep needs and desires, as we all are. To create successful personas, you need more than observations of behaviors. Your personas should be supported in data, yes, but more importantly, they should be rooted in the psychographics of your customer and the emotional benefit you are providing.
It may sound obvious, but it's worth stating: To connect with your customers on a human level, you have to actually meet them. One way our team committed to this was by embarking on a six-city listening tour, where we traveled around the country to meet our customers and hear what they wanted from us, what was providing value, and where they thought we could improve. Listening is at the core of our business and the secret to providing unparalleled service. When a brand takes the time to understand you and treat you like a cherished friend, it creates a meaningful and positive connection.
This approach acknowledges that the most powerful customer experiences are rarely functional. The products we love most are products that have a real emotional benefit that we come to depend on.
4. How will this improve the effectiveness of marketing?
Focus begets success. Ultimately, the power of knowing your customer deeply and putting a fine point on the value you are committed to delivering is twofold: It allows you to make better decisions, and it allows you to move more quickly.
We all make dozens of judgment calls a day. Take some of the guesswork out of success by doing the most valuable work with your customer up front.
Bonus Question: What is your favorite activity outside of work?
In my free time, I love catching a spin class and cooking. My current dish of choice is a cauliflower rice risotto. It’s so delicious you won't miss the real stuff!
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/