customer engagement

customer engagement

Kaihan Krippendorff takes a look at the history of the music industry to demonstrate how Spotify excels at delivering customers what they want when they want it. 

In 2006, a pair of Swedish entrepreneurs banded together to fight an ongoing problem: Piracy in the music industry was costing artists, retailers, and record companies billions of dollars in lost sales. Customers who had previously gone to CD or record stores to purchase music were now evading legislation to download songs for free, instantly into their music libraries from services such as Napster.

When Napster unexpectedly shut down in 2002, Kazaa, another controversial service, sprung up in its place. Swedish entrepreneur Daniel Ek saw an opportunity to combat illegal online activity through another means: delighting customers.

“I realized that you can never legislate away from piracy,” he said in a 2010 interview. “Laws can definitely help, but it doesn’t take away the problem. The only way to solve the problem was to create a service that was better than piracy and at the same time compensates the music industry. That gave us Spotify.”

He joined forces with fellow entrepreneur Martin Lorentzon to create what is now the most popular music streaming platform in the world. How did they do it? By delivering what the listener wants to hear, when and where they want it—and sometimes before they even realize exactly what it is they want.

THE EVOLUTION OF MUSIC THROUGH A PROXIMITY LENS 

An industry-wide trend is underway. Company strategies and customer desires are shortening the distance between when people decide they need something and how long it takes for them to get it. My friend and writing partner, Rob Wolcott, offers the following definition: “Technology is driving the production and provision of products and services ever closer to the moment of demand.”

Many of us have benefited from the somewhat creepy omniscience of Amazon’s anticipatory shipping—the retailer predicts products we might want and delivers them to a nearby warehouse before we’ve even placed an order. But the research Rob and I have done shows that this extends far beyond retail; proximity is the future across all industries, and it’s been in the works for years. In order to pinpoint where Spotify seized the opportunity to capitalize on proximity, let’s take a brief look at the history of music purchasing.

Key points include:

  • The changing technology
  • Napster and file-sharing
  • Applying proximity to your business model

 

Read the full article, WHAT SPOTIFY CAN TEACH US ABOUT PROXIMITY, on Kaihan.net.

 

Kaihan Krippendorff identifies how the concept of a flywheel can be applied to business. 

Most evenings, when I’m not traveling, I make time to get in at least half an hour on my Peloton bike. It helps to wind down at the end of the day. I’ll turn on a show (lately I’ve been slowly savoring this season’s episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale and waiting in anticipation for season 2 of Ted Lasso) and pedal to break a sweat. As my legs push the pedals around, the wheels spin faster and faster until I need to add resistance to slow myself down.

In the physical world, we who have studied physics are familiar with the coefficient of friction—the amount of force it takes for you to push one object against another. When the object is in motion, like the wheels on my bike, that coefficient goes down. Once I’ve gathered momentum, I don’t need to work as hard to go fast.

A flywheel takes this a step further, by accelerating a large rotor to very high speeds and maintaining the energy in the system as rotational kinetic energy. It takes a great amount of effort to start turning the flywheel, but once it’s in motion it builds momentum to keep picking up speed.

In the world of data, the concept of a flywheel is being used to increase customer centricity and satisfaction. My recent podcast guest, Ash Fontana, and the insurance company Lemonade Inc. show us how.

THE DATA FLYWHEEL 

Any company that has at least dabbled in data analytics or artificial intelligence (AI) knows that it takes time to get started. In order for big data and AI to provide their desired benefits, a company must build a reservoir of customer information. This process can take years and can cause many companies to give up before realizing the effects.

 

Key points include:

  • The AI flywheel
  • Lemonade’s flywheel for customer centricity
  • How to identify AI opportunities

 

Read the full article, THE CORE CONCEPT THAT IS DELIGHTING CUSTOMERS, on Kaihan.net.

 

Robyn Bolton challenges an article posted in Fast Company that claimed the most popular design thinking strategy is BS.

How might we ruin a perfectly good and useful tool?”

This might not be the question that innovators, design thinkers, and brainstorm facilitators wanted to answer.  But it seems that it’s the one they did.

“The most popular design thinking strategy is BS,” proclaimed the headline on a June 28 article in Fast Company.  “The ‘How might we’ design prompt is insidious, and it’s time to bury it.”

I’m a sucker for provocative headlines, especially ones that challenge that status quo, so I clicked and read the article.  And I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.

The reason “How might we” (HMW) is so insidious, the author asserts, is that the “we” in HMW refers to the people in the room, not to the users, customers, or populations for whom teams are designing their products and services. The prompt looks inward instead of outward, encouraging people to build solutions that suit their own needs and experiences. They end up with offerings that don’t serve customer needs and may even hurt the people they’re meant to help.

The problem (and solution) of “We”

  1. Fair.  As I recounted in last week’s episode of “What Matters in Innovation,” I saw this exact worry come to life when I was an Assistant Brand Manager on Swiffer WetJet.  While the brainstorming promotional ideas as a brand team, the most senior member suggested a Valentine’s Day promotion encouraging men to buy a WetJet, then priced at $50, for their wives “because she’s worth it.”  Everyone in the room nodded in silent awe and acceptance, except one person.  Me.  The only woman in the room.

 

Key points include:

  • The solution (and problem) of “How might”
  • The problem (and solution) at the end of “How might we”
  • HMW is not BS.  How we use it is.

Read the full post, “How Might We” is not BS. How We Use It Is, on MileZero.io.

 

 

James Black provides an update on how COVID-19 forced museums and cultural institutions to reshape how they interact with the public and still provide an engaging experience.

As the WSJ noted, “With galleries and museums closed due to Covid-19, online offerings blossomed—giving viewers the chance to experience outstanding exhibitions and masterpieces in a new, digital way.” (12/13/20).

From an analysis of the activities of 20+ institutions around the world, completed via desk research and interviews with various CEOs, board members, curators, and heads of advancement and marketing, among others, several themes emerged.

WHAT did museums and cultural institutions do during the shutdowns?

Covid made more institutions realize that live and digital programming are complementary, not competing. Many institutions built out online offerings; those with pre-existing platforms and capabilities had a distinct advantage in building engagement. Unsurprisingly, musical institutions may have had a head start in cultivating alternative channels (e.g., radio, digital, etc.) But museums quickly adapted to the new situation, expanding and intensifying their existing online activities. A number of smaller players, like the Frick in NY, were scrappy, driving creative executions, perhaps driven by their need to sustain visibility and raise funds.

Audience interest in programming was strong. As the Director of the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC noted, “Audiences are clearly hungry for diversion, learning, enjoyment, and connection during this crisis.”

SO WHAT did they learn from this experience and reapply as they reopened?

 

Key points include:

  • Audience rewards
  • Improvement of production value
  • How to best reach and engage audiences in the “new normal.”

 

Read the full article, COVID-19 has served as a prism to reframe museums & cultural institutions, their activities, and how they serve their audiences as they have reopened, on LinkedIn.

 

 

Susan Meier shares an always-relevant post on storytelling that explains why brevity, honesty, and making it memorable are key components of a good story well told. 

There’s a passage from the childhood classic One Fish Two Fish, Red Fish Blue Fish that I personally consider to be the best story ever told:

‘My hat is old, my teeth are gold.

I have a bird I like to hold.

My shoe is off, my foot is cold.

My shoe is off, my foot is cold.

I have a bird I like to hold.

My hat is old, my teeth are gold.

And now my story is all told.’

Good storytelling is a powerful thing. People don’t engage with products or data; they engage with stories. In the world of business, one of the best skills you can cultivate is how to tell a story well.

Here are 3 things that made Dr. Seuss such a captivating storyteller that you can add to your toolbox tomorrow:

 

Key tips include:

  • Choosing five key points
  • Finding the truth in the story
  • How to use repetition

 

Read the full article, 3 Reasons Dr Seuss Was A Genius Storyteller (And How You Can Be Too), on ChangeCreator.com.

 

 

Robbie Kellman Baxter shares a tale from the trenches of subscription-based business success stories. In this episode, how a subscription business can become successful by focusing on subscriber outcomes. 

Robbie Baxter: How did you come to run Instant Ink? Looking back, would you say it was inevitable? Or are you surprised at where you’ve ended up?

Anthony Napolitano: Well, I’m thrilled to where I ended up. I can’t say it was fully planned and chartered for sure. I think each of us have sometimes at our career we make a specific choice and sometimes luck just kind of falls upon you and you look back at are grateful that it happened. I think most of my career I’ve spent in what we call startup businesses inside of HP. So these are new businesses that we’re trying to grow and create. And it just so happened to be that before I joined Instant Ink, I was in another startup business inside of HP, which is quite a unique experience, is that I was there from day one until we actually shut down the business. So I was in that business for 12 years. And while it didn’t succeed in kind of a commercial sense, I learned a lot from that business. But because I had that experience, Instant Ink at the time was really only a few hundred thousand customers. And so I had this reputation of being able to grow new businesses inside of HP and I was given the opportunity to come into Instant Ink. Now we have over seven million customers worldwide.

Robbie Baxter: How many customers was that?

Anthony Napolitano: Seven million.

Robbie Baxter: Three hundred thousand to seven million.

Anthony Napolitano: That’s right. In the last five plus years.

Robbie Baxter: Wow. Now, it’s interesting to me that you’re you’re really an entrepreneur, and yet you’ve spent most of your career inside a big established company. What has that been like for you?

 

Key points covered include:

  • Leading trend transformations
  • Being the disruptor
  • Cohort analysis

 

Read the full article or listen to the podcast, Reinventing the Razor & Razorblades Model by Focusing on Subscriber Outcomes with Anthony Napolitano of HP’s Instant Ink, on LinkedIn.

 

 

Robbie Kellman Baxter takes a look forward at subscription businesses in 2021 and provides a few tips on how to improve sales through improved membership strategies. 

The time leading up to American Thanksgiving is often especially busy, with a combination of major conferences, ambitious sales goals and, of course, planning for the upcoming year before people check out (physically and/or mentally) for the holiday season.

You’ve probably spent some time already thinking about your goals for next year, and what you are committing to your board and stakeholders.

A key ritual of setting the year up for success for many organizations is the Sales Kick Off (SKO).

But this year’s event is likely going to look a little (a lot?) different.

I was inspired by my friend and colleague David Meerman Scott, co-author of Standout Virtual Events to rethink the SKO. David provides some excellent tips for running a quality virtual event, including the right equipment, how to prep a speaker, and how to think about the whole program as part of a whole.

In this article, I look at the SKO from a different angle. I took a step back to really focus on the “Forever Promise” organizations make to their sales teams and which has resulted in the “product” of the SKO event. The Sales Kick Off is a time to educate, engage and inspire the team to maximize the likelihood of hitting all sales objectives in the coming year.

 

Key points include:

  • The modular model
  • Creating ‘lean in’ opportunities
  • Making the most of events

 

Read the full article, Rethinking Your 2021 Sales Kick Off With a Membership Mindset, on LinkedIn. 

 

 

Supriya Prakash Sen shares an article that identifies how Digital Business Ecosystems could be the answer to addressing the multiple needs of the consumer, and how COVID-19 has accelerated the need to change.

As purchasing behaviors change over time, so too does the landscape that solution providers operate in. In 2020, consumers are spoilt for choice; but consumers are short on time and often overwhelmed by the options on offer. Consequently, the balance of power for businesses has shifted in favor of those who can provide a seamless, curated service, that offers customers Value, Choice and Delightful Experience- meeting not one but their multiple needs. Companies in South East Asia have begun to recognize the importance of meeting these consumers’ new and diverse needs under one single umbrella.

This means that the arena is ripe for successful introduction of services embedded within Digital Business Ecosystems. A digital business ecosystem is an environment of digital platforms with a complex network of stakeholders that connect online to do business and interact digitally in ways that create value for all. And instead of concentrating on linear supplier, customer, and distributor relationships, these companies focus on adding value in new ways to how each party in the ecosystem can bring value to the other parties.

In this context, Singapore has much to contribute to the South East Asia region in human capital even as we meet our own ecosystem buildout needs. It is possible to design intentionally for how our companies, solution providers as well as foreign companies within our digital business ecosystem can be a potent force for good within the larger South East Asia region. One example of this, as I point out later in this article, is AFIN-APIX, the innovative fintech collaboration platform set up as a non-profit in Singapore (where I am an independent Director).

 

Key points in this article include:

  • Collaboration between players
  • Reaching a broader customer base
  • Platform business models

 

Read the full article, Collaborating to Succeed: Evolving Digital Financial Ecosystems in SEA, on LinkedIn.

 

 

If you are looking for ways and means to improve client attraction, spend, and retention, read on. David A. Fields provides practical steps and innovative approaches to improving your firm’s offerings.

If your consulting firm’s offerings aren’t generating gleaming stacks of revenue, it’s time to develop a Level 3 Offering.

You’re not alone if the projects that sustained your consulting business in the past have recently become difficult to close.

Prospective clients are confused about how to please their own customers, or are caught in the grip of uncertainty. As a result, they no longer view your consulting firm and your solution as an obvious, easily-justified choice.

New times, new conditions, new market reality.

Or, perhaps you’ve realized that you need to change up your offerings in order to elevate your consulting firm to the next level of success.

Either way, your consulting firm needs to revamp, or craft from scratch, your offering to achieve your ambitions.

 

Areas covered in this article include:

  • The basics of building offerings
  • Offering-development questions
  • The three levels of consulting firm offerings

 

Read the full article, If Your Consulting Firm’s Offering Isn’t Attracting Enough Clients, Try This…, on David’s consulting website.

 

 

James Black shares the first post in a series that explores the development of customer understanding in 2020. 

To kick off the new year, I suggested ‘20 Questions to Help Your Brand or Business See 20/20 in 2020.’ To help brands and businesses assess the state of your business and identify opportunities, I wanted to take a closer look at the topic of Customer Understanding.

Developing a deeper Customer Understanding is helpful to identify opportunities to strengthen your business. If you didn’t enter the New Year feeling like you had a deep understanding of your customer, here are some tips on how to quickly build your fact base. At P&G, business understanding always began with a robust “WHO” Understanding – that is, the consumer who used the product and the shopper who bought it.

 

Questions asked and explained include:

  • Do we have a clearly defined target customer?
  • Do we have a clear understanding of the end benefit the customer is seeking?
  • Does our offering fit with his/her desired benefit?
  • Do we understand the customer’s unmet needs vs. current offerings?
  • Are we conducting the right mix of research (qualitative and quantitative)?
  • Do we prioritize what we do (and don’t do) and what we invest in (and not in) against customers’ needs?

 

Read the full article, Seeing 20/20 in 2020: Part 1 – Customer Understanding, on LinkedIn. 

 

 

Kaihan Krippendorff asks a most pertinent question to help companies identify a strategy that will improve customer relations and revenue.  

The former president of Starbucks, Howard Behar, told me a few months ago that the most important decision Starbucks made, that led to many of the disruptive choices this category-defining company made, was their decision to be “in the people business serving coffee” rather than the “coffee business serving people”.

In other words, Starbucks decided to view their “customer” as the worker in their store serving coffee. Their purpose was to create great jobs and lives for them.

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, said, “We were going pretty well as a shoe company but our growth really took off when we realized were a customer service company that happened to sell shoes.”

Hartford Steam Boiler, whose strategy I will dig into in a later post, seems to be an insurance company but actually sees itself as and, more importantly, acts as an engineering company that happens to monetize through insurance.

 

This article explains how the following questions help define a growth strategy.

  • What is our actual business (e.g., consumer electronics and not medical devices)?
  • How does that kind of company behave differently?

 

Read the full article, The Most Important Strategic Question To Ask: What Business Are You In?, on Kaihan’s website. 

 

 

This article from David Burnie’s company blog identifies the value of the contact centre, and how it helps to prevent customer attrition. 

The contact centre is a necessity for any mid-large size organization. It is where customer inquiries are handled across multiple channels, such as the phone, email or live chat. It is a bustling place of energy, activity and collaboration and often a starting point for many who want to forge a career in corporate.

When built and supported the right way, the contact centre can be a highly engaging and interactive environment. Palpable energy can be felt if you were to walk the floor and observe employees in action. It is a place of discovery, learning and, most importantly, the hub of customer information. No other place in a company can provide the same insights regarding how customers are feeling.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • Why contact centres are undervalued
  • How to prevent employee and customer attrition
  • How to leverage the full value of the contact centre

 

Read the full article, The Value of Contact Centres, on the Burnie Group website.

 

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Richard Cho with Growing Abundance Mindsets.  Through his time at Gartner, Bridgewater, and McKinsey Richard developed a set of tools, frameworks and practices that have been adapted from leading business thinkers and applied across multiple Fortune 500 company teams to successfully drive new initiatives.

Often times technology problems are usually business engagement problems, and he has a track record of getting these initiatives on track. Richard is passionate about building world-class cross-functional digital teams that go after big goals by developing a culture of meaningful trust-based relationships and continuous learning.

 

Robbie Kellman Baxter explains why a free trial is not always the best tactic and identifies three  reasons a subscription business isn’t attracting new members.

Recently, a CEO of a major professional association asked me what I thought of a 30 day free trial for new members.

He worried that potential members would sign up for the free trial, binge the value in that free period and then cancel without paying. But his board was concerned that not enough people were joining and thought a free trial could be the solution.

In this case, I agree with the CEO, not the board, about offering a free trial. Here’s why.

A free trial is a taste of the best you’ve got, which you offer because either:

 

  1. They don’t understand what it tastes like
  2. They don’t believe it tastes as good as you say

 

Read the full article, “Free”​ Is a Tactic, not a Strategy, on Linkedin.

 

Jason George explores the relationship between the human need for ritual, community, and purpose, and the organizations or entrepreneurs who see that need as their next opportunity.

 

Come all ye faithful

Some of the devoted choose to meet in the early morning, braving the cold and arriving at their nondescript buildings in the predawn darkness. The name on the sign outside might reference “soul” or “cross,” but there is nothing outwardly grand about these places. The real draw is the service about to start inside.

The congregants’ earlier interactions have acclimated them to social norms like dress codes, so they choose their attire with the fastidiousness of early Puritans. This leads to a generic sameness among the group—deviation would make one stick out, and this experience is not about the individual.

 

Key points include:

-The pursuit of salvation through testing the body

-How brands like SoulCycle and CrossFit fulfill the need

-Religion-as-business

 

Read the full article, The Business of Religion, and the Religion of Business, on Jason’s website.

In the digital age, Amanda Setili explains why every company — big or small – needs a platform strategy to connect with customers.

 

Today’s businesses now live or die based on how well they cultivate and connect those who they do business with. Just look at the seven most valuable companies in 2019—Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet (parent company of Google), Amazon, Facebook, Alibaba and Tencent. Each created their success by deliberately and aggressively building powerful platforms to connect customers, content providers, suppliers, and others to each other.

 

Amanda provides five detailed steps toto build a vibrant, self-reinforcing community that can propel your company’s success.

 

The five steps shared include:

Step 1: Take inventory.

Step 2: Attract and connect your ideal.

Step 3: Assure participants get value.

Step 4: Create physical or virtual engagement platforms.

Step 5: Listen, observe, enhance.

 

Read the full article, Why Every Company — Big or Small — Needs a Platform Strategy on Amanda Setili’s company website.

Robyn Bolton shares five techniques that can help you understand your toughest customers in this post recently published on Forbes.

Let’s be honest, we love talking to people who just ‘get’ us. I believe this is because we often must hold a number of conversations with people who don’t ‘get’ us.

In business, the people who don’t understand us are the ones we desperately need: Our customers. Many might not understand why your products or services cost so much, why your offerings are so complicated or why they should choose your service over a competitor’s.

 

Points covered in this article include:

-How to open the conversation

-How to learn from customers

-How to ask the right questions

-How to share your opinions

-Knowing your limits

 

Read the full article, Five Techniques To Help You Understand Even Your Toughest Customers, on Forbes.